Even Spidey Can Be Delayed When Traveling to Newark

I’m writing this morning from the President’s Club Lounge in Terminal C at Newark Airport.  I first tried to get to Newark on Sunday night, gave up, and returned last night (Thursday), only to encounter more delays.  My 10:40 arrival quickly became 12:10am over the course of the day.  Thank goodness, however, that I left St. Louis last night, because the flight in from St. Louis this morning is also delayed, and I almost certainly would have missed my flight to Shanghai.

All of this occurred after my adventures on Sunday, when I tried to leave St. Louis for Singapore, connecting through Newark.  In the end, I gave up trying to get to Newark.  Flights were delayed beyond my connection and, since I didn’t want to fly to Newark late on Sunday and wait for an 11pm departure Monday  night, I went back home and reconfigured my trip to go directly to Shanghai today.

As I talked to colleagues, I heard things like “Newark is always a mess.  I never fly through there.”  This was followed by similar sentiments regarding Chicago and Dallas, Atlanta and Houston.  Is there really a place where you don’t encounter delays from time to time?  Snow in Chicago – wind in Dallas — rain in Newark.  Pick your poison and relax.  Nothing you can do.

So I started thinking, given my fascination (obsession?) with Spider Man, whether having Spidey’s superpowers would have made a difference this past week.  I thought for a while and couldn’t come up with a single one of Spiderman’s powers that would have helped.  Spidey doesn’t fly.  He can stick to an airplane as it flies, but he primarily moves by swinging on his web down the Manhattan streets.  I thought about all the comic books I’ve read and I have only some fleeting memories of Spidey outside the U.S.A. (not including space, of course).  To test this, I Googled “Spider Man Airplane” and “Spider Man Travel” and a few others.  I got nothing.

I’ve decided that, despite all his powers, Spider Man would have been delayed along side the rest of us getting to Newark.  However, he probably would have called Iron Man or the Fantastic Four to give him a lift.  Maybe Silver Surfer or Human Torch could have moved the storm fronts or pushed the airplanes a little faster to make up for those delays.  Great to have friends like that.

I did find the picture here of Spider Man climbing the Great Wall of China.  I wonder how he got there?

New Outlook – Spidey Sense Turned On

In my previous post, eight days ago, I talked about testing my new outlook.  As I wrote then, I was hoping that I had successfully removed the stress in my life and become more focused.  After eight days now, I can tell you that it’s working so far.  Seems logical, right?  If I was causing my own stress, then I should be able to successfully remove it.

I removed the stress by simply reducing and almost eliminating my desire to advance at my current employer.  I eliminated the fight for the  promotion.  I eliminated comparing myself to others on a consistent basis and trying to be better than them.  I eliminated being concerned with each word that came out of my mouth that I looked bad, came across wrong or did myself damage on the promotion track.

When I told my boss all this last Tuesday, she just smiled.  She said I had been working scared, and I said she was right.  She reminded me how awful it had been on me and my home life when I was a vice president, and I said she was right.  She’s a great person, and I know she was happy that some of her guidance had made it through my thick head.

It would be easy to blame my parents for all this.  I think Freud would.  I don’t.  They created a competitive monster, who always wanted to be better than everyone else and who always wanted to be the best.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.  However, I worry that I’ve done the same thing to my kids, but I don’t see it in my son.  He doesn’t have the same competitive desire that I did at his age.  I want to see fire in his eyes before hockey games, but I don’t.  He’s calm and matter-of-fact.

After being “matter-of-fact” for the last eight days, I now understand.  I’ve taken a small step, but I like it.  Alot.  Next — I have to make sure this new “Spidey Sense” remains on.  I need to sense if I fall back into old habits.  I need to sense when I’m starting to get stressed and stop it.  That’s would be great.

A New Outlook

I have a monthly subscription to Massage Envy. Once a month, they hit my credit card for some amount, and I get one 60-minute massage. With travel and family obligations, I haven’t been able to go every month. I have, however, found a therapist that I like. (We insiders don’t call them masseuses.) I like Angela, the therapist, because she finds every single knot on my body and, not without causing pain, endeavors to eliminate them. This week, about halfway through causing pain relief, she said, “Andy, you really should have booked longer. I’m doing the best I can, but I need more time.”

There is no doubt, that I carry a lot of stress. It’s not due to my 14-year-old son who, while home alone, left for a birthday party Saturday and not only forgot to close the garage door but also left the door to the house unlocked. It’s not due to my 11-year-old daughter either. (If you have an 11-year-old daughter, you know I don’t need to give an example.) The stress is due absolutely, positively to work. As Randy Jackson likes to say on American Idol – “one thousand million percent.”

I have realized in the past 72 hours that I alone cause the majority of my stress at work. I create the pressure that leads to the stress. I create this pressure because of my drive to succeed. It’s the same drive that drove me to a high GPA and SAT scores, an elite college and elite grad schools, and many steps up the ladders at my employers. Last Friday, after a conversation with my boss, it became clear to me that I may not go any higher at my company. I may have topped out. Unless I ease back on the gas pedal, my “drive” is going to push me up against a steel wall, only increasing the pressure.

As the weekend has gone on, however, the stress from work has declined. Because I am slowly, mentally eliminating the pressure to advance up the ladder, I am not causing myself less stress.  I am now determined to no longer look at every event, every memo, every presentation as a competition to succeed and advance at the expense of others. If I take away this pressure, realize that I make a good living and can provide for my family, takes things as they come, I think I’ll be happier. It makes sense doesn’t it?

This is a big change for me. This is a new outlook. Yes –it may be my way of “stopping to smell the roses — but it’s me getting off the fast track. In the coming posts, we’ll see how it works. Come back later to read more.

At minimum, perhaps Angela will have fewer knots to remove.

Am I Digital Yet?

These days I am feeling way more connected than I’ve ever been. I guess, at age 43, I’ve caught up to most people half my age, and I’m finally, truly digital. Or at least I’ll believe I am.

I’ve learned the obvious — that having a Blackberry just isn’t enough.. There’s much more to being digital than being able to get an email from your boss, your dad or your kids’ school at any hour of the day in any country on the planet. I don’t really think Facebook is enough either, and I’ll admit to never having played one minute of FarmVille (I had to Google it to check the spelling!).

Since August, I’ve been part of the international team at work and have traveled quite a bit. I’ve sent text messages and picture mail to my daughter and video Skyped with my family from 14 time zones away. In general, I’ve started utilizing digital media more – and I think I now know what it really means to be connected – or at least I’ll believe I do. The information overload is a rush, truly a rush.

I now have a blog (but you already know that, because you are reading). I also now use Google Reader to subscribe to about 30 different blogs and check them at home, work and on my iPhone.  Again, digital media keeping me informed.

I have a Twitter account (@lifewithspidey), and I’ve sent 18 tweets, follow 33 tweeters and have 10 followers myself — all more of a start than something to brag about. I have sent tweets from my computer, but also from my iPhone. I get regular Twitter updates on my iPhone and through an add-in in Firefox. For news and information junkies, Twitter is amazing. I knew about Mark McGwire’s steriod admission 20 minutes before it was posted on espn.com.

I figured out how to shorten URL’s with bit.ly, and I created a Flickr account to which I’ve posted all my Spidey photos (links at right). Lastly, I’ve also become a podcast junkie — audio only please. I listed to the podcasts in the car, which are a great supplement to audio books.

At this point, even mentioning a Kindle seems like nothing.

Texting, blogging, tweeting, podcasting – can I say flickring or Firefoxing? Can I (or you or we) get any more connected?

Now I’m off to tweet about his post and notify my Facebook friends about the blog.  Maybe FarmVille is next?

USA Hockey Wins!

I wouldn’t be living up to my dedication to ice hockey, if I didn’t drop a quick post tonight celebrating the USA victory in the World Junior Hockey Championships. (Junior – by the way, means hockey players 20 years old or younger.) The boys won 6-5 over Canada in overtime. You can bet we were watching in HD on the NHL network.

When the game started, I was on my way to pick up my son from his high school hockey practice, and I was listening to the game on XM. They had a story about the parents of these hockey players and the dedication they showed in getting their boys to the rink early and often from a young age to now. That struck home with me. As one of those parents and a coach, I celebrate the boys’ parents tonight. The boys won the game, but I guarantee you that every one of their parents (and grandparents) had tears of joy reflecting on those 6:00am car rides in snow and ice on Saturday mornings. It is indeed a labor of love.

(By the way — I’m greedy. In one week, the USA has one the U17 and U20 tournaments. The only one left? The Olympics. Here we come Vancouver.)

Spidey in Arizona

We just returned from a four-day, three-night visit to the Phoenix area, the primary purpose of which was to watch our son with his high school marching band in the Fiesta Bowl Parade. In addition to the roughly 120 seconds or so of watching our son, my wife and I saw some of the area, but were obviously limited by the short time there. We left St. Louis on Thursday afternoon (12/31), arriving into Phoenix around 5:00pm, and we left Sunday afternoon (1/2) getting back into St. Louis around 5:00pm. As I said, short visit.

I have read and heard a lot about how bad US Airways is. The plane interiors (and A319 out and an A320 back) were old and the seats were barely padded. I also don’t understand how, on a flight over 3 hours, the flight attendants don’t bring the cart out a second time to offer drink refills and don’t offer the entire can. All that said, both flights left on time and arrived on time — on a holiday weekend. That works for us. We stayed at Marriott’s Buttes Resort. It’s so close to the airport that you can see the planes take off and land. However, it’s on a hill and doesn’t seem to be in the flight paths. From the pool, you have no idea you are near a highway or the airport. The location makes it very convenient for people not staying at the hotel, but getting out and about. The room were standard, although I do think it’s time to upgrade the 25″ tube TV’s.

Our first night, we met up with our son and the rest of the band at a place called Rawhide, located in the Wild Horse Pass area. It’s a group-event type place that recreates a Western town. The foot was fine (we had a ticket for a group dinner), but there wasn’t much to do after that. It was cold by Phoenix standards, so we didn’t stay long. We left there and went over to the Wild Horse Pass Casino, which couldn’t have been more crowded. We tend to play slots, and were fortunate to find even one machine open. No luck there. We did have luck, however, when we found Roy’s Restaurant over in Chandler for some dessert and a cocktail. They have a Hawaiian Martini — made from vodka, vanilla vodka and coconut rum, infused with pineapple — which is perhaps the best drink I have ever had. It is comparable, if not better than the Stoli Dolis at the Capital Grille.

On Friday, New Year’s Day, we took the nearly two hour drive up to Sedona. On the way, we noticed Mayer, Arizona on our map, about 10 miles off the beaten trail. Of course, we had to go. We took plenty of gratuitous shots. Most notably, I thought it somewhat ironic that the placard showcasing the “Historic Mayer Building” somehow ended up on the side of an outhouse (see picture at below). Sedona itself was a bit touristy in town, which is why you must slow down on your drive in to take in the sites and take a jeep tour. We used Pink Jeep Tours, which I highly recommend. We went out for 2 hours on the Broken Arrow tour and four-wheeled it seeing the landscape. The driver was a bit too much like an encyclopedia, but he knew his stuff.

On the way back, we stopped for a bite and to do some additional gambling at the Cliff Castle Casino. Four hours later we left, after a great dinner and up $100, thanks to a Royal Flush hit by my better half on a poker machine.

Saturday was the parade. Now that I’ve watched a parade, I don’t know that I’m running back anytime soon. We spent Saturday afternoon in Scottsdale, mostly visiting Taliesin West, the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright. Candidly, we were both starving and our guide droned on and on, so we may not have gotten the most positive perspective. I think the best part was learning of the history and how the site came to be before electricity, roads, etc. If you are an architecture aficionado, you’ll probably go regardless of what I say. Saturday evening we went over to downtown Tempe to see A Serious Man. We could see from the four blocks of downtown Tempe how Arizona State gets its reputation as a party school. It was very active, despite being January 2. A Serious Man was a good move, but two requirements before viewing. First – if you aren’t Jewish, go see it with someone who is. I’ve not been to a movie with more inside jokes about the Jewish Community. Second — plan a drink afterwards. This is a dark, dark comedy.

We’re back now into the cold of St. Louis getting ready to go back to work and school. My next trip is likely the week of the 18th overseas. I’ll have more on the blog between now and then.

You can follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/lifewithspidey.

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