Five other myths about travel agents

1. We've been everywhere, man: no, but we book people who have.
2. We get free travel: not anymore, though discounts exist if you know what you're doing.
3. We get commissions from airlines: not since about 1989 in the US, though some international carriers still offer it.
4. We dress up in stylish outfits with ethnic accessories: not if we don't meet clients, and work from home.
5. We know how much it costs to go anywhere: not unless we've got it pulled up in the GDS (booking tool of choice, AKA general distribution system).

Now that I've been in corporate travel for almost 20 years, most of the myths below no longer apply to me, and most of the realities don't apply either. Especially the one about calling ahead – we're supposed to take calls, not make them in my work environment. That's reserved for emergencies, special situations, and occasionally the need to negotiate with the manager on duty.

Five myths about travel agents
Why would anyone need an agent? We found out when we looked at some of the myths about how they work.

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Arvada Students Protest Conservative Meddling With History Curriculum

These kids are just exercising their patriotic right of protest, free speech, and free thought based on the free exchange of information. For freedom, and not free dumb, so take that, wingnut edumification bored.

CO Students Walk Out To Protest Wingnut Plan To Censor History Curriculum
The new wingnut school board members don’t know much about history.

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Chicago O'Hare terminal 1 partly evacuated

Bomb squad called after dog reacted to suspicious bag.

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Report: Alpecin announced as new sponsor for Giant-Shimano – German shampoo brand commits to four-year deal

Marcel Kittel, pro cyclist with caffeinated hair, coming in the 2015 racing season

Originally shared by +PRO CYCLING WORLDTOUR

Report: Alpecin announced as new sponsor for Giant-Shimano – German shampoo brand commits to four-year deal

According to a report in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, Giant-Shimano has secured a four-year sponsorship deal with the German cosmetics and shampoo company Alpecin. From 2015 the WorldTour outfit will be known as Team Giant-Alpecin with the women's team to be known as Liv-Plantur.
There is a strong possibility that the teams' registration will be transferred from the Netherlands to German. However Iwan Spekenbrink and Shimano are expected to continue to own the team and the WorldTour licence.
The arrival of a major German sponsor is a sign of growing interest in professional cycling in Germany after the Jan Ullrich, Team Telekom and wider doping scandals of the last decade. De Telegraaf also reported that the German television network ARD could resume live coverage of the Tour de France in part due to the success of the team’s sprinter Marcel Kittel who has won eight stages in the last two editions of the French Grand Tour. The organisers of the Tour, ASO, have also been approached about a German Grand Départ within the next four years, with Berlin the most likely location.
Alpecin is manufacturer of a boutique shampoo which contains caffeine to reportedly stimulate hair growth at the roots and have annual turnover of over EUR 200 million. Alpecin's products are available in more than forty countries and is said to be looking to expand its presence in Asia.
The company has been involved with cycling previously having been associated with Jan Ullrich while its slogan for its product was 'Doping for the hair'. However the choice of sponsoring the Giant team was in part decided by the strict anti-doping policy enforced by team manager Iwan Spekenbrink.
The announcement of a new long term sponsor for the team ends a period of financial instability that begun with the announcement that Argos was withdrawing its sponsorship of the team at the end of 2013. An American charity was said to be ready to commit to the team before pulling the plug. Bike sponsor Giant became the principal backer for 2014, helping to save the team.
According to De Telegraaf, Spekenbrink was also in talks with multi-national company 3M concerning sponsorship. 3M has sponsored a small Belgian Continental team for two years and is apparently interested in increasing its involvement in the sport.


#GiantShimano #TeamGiantAlpecin


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Why I Stopped Blogging, And Why I Restarted Blogging

Stuff got in the way. Work got in the way. Tech got in the way. But even so, I was often thinking about what I’d write if I sat down at my desktop machine. I’d get too frustrated trying to blog from the iPhone or iPad (which is now a Mini), and the WordPress app was kind of in the way, too.

The funny thing is, when I want to know when something happened, or a major life event, I check my blog. And I go back and grab recipes, links, stuff. It’s my memory repository, I suppose, so it seems best to just pick up and start blogging again rather than incessantly reading other peoples’ posts and blogs and news items.

I’ve been relying on +Daniel Treadwell’s Google+Blog paid plugin to at least grab links from my Feedly newsfeed, but that’s been replaced by a new plugin called Social Media 2 WordPress. I’m still checking to see if I’ve got it set up right, I had to link back to my profile again and create a new API public key. It looks like it’s right, but nothing happens if I try to kick off an import.

Social Media 2 WordPress Google+ Community
Social Media 2 WordPress website - free to try, paid version 19.99 (and worth it once I figure out the bells and whistles).

Deblogging: It’s Like Debugging, But With Words

Riley Lubs Hiz Toyz

It’s been such a long time since I’ve written anything about the goings-on here at Chez Gique.

Why? I’ve been putting stuff off, and avoiding my desktop computer, and not using the laptop because it seems really slow and pokey now, and a whole host of reasons. The backlog of Stuff I Need To Do and the backlog of Stuff I Should Blog About is just… enormous, and the tools at my disposal (newish iPhone, newish iPad mini) are usually being used for important stuff like reading about someone doing something worng on the Internets, or playing Minion Rush.

So anyway, a list, in emotional bombshell order, of stuff that’s on my mind or on my chest that I need to put into words and deal with.

Riley died on August 31. I have a lot of photos on my phone of him, and even more on my desktop, but not many of him from the last couple of months, because his lymphoma just made him so, so skinny. I tried, in a last ditch effort, to get him on a more beefed up drug regimen and it seemed to be helping at first, but he couldn’t hang on to any nutrition no matter what we did.

Finally, the last week it looked pretty dire, as I had time off that week and spent a lot of time holding him and trying to get him to eat. On the Sunday, he stood over his water dish with this befuddled “what do I do now?” attitude and was unable to lap up any water. He was unsteady on his feet and as David and I looked at him, aghast, I thought “Oh, he’s done…. he’s just so tired.” It seemed like the last-ditch, full-bore heroics route would just prolong the inevitable, since he was dehydrated anyway and I could only get him to take a few squirts of water by mouth with a syringe.

I held him as he rested from the effort to try to get him to drink and eat (he pretty much turned away from offered food, and the oral syringe was clearly causing him to stress out). And David and I decided, well, we’d fought hard and Riley had fought hard, and our vet’s office, though closed, had an outgoing message that recommended a nearby 24/7 emergency pet hospital for out-of-hours problems (it was a Sunday, after all). So we packed Riley into his favorite basket (not the usual carrier), and we went over there while I held him on my lap and petted him. He looked around a little, like.. “whu…. whut’s goin’ on?” but he didn’t cry and wasn’t too fussed. And so on and so forth; the vet evaluated him, talked to us about options, and agreed with us that it was time. We stayed with him, petting him and talking to him, through the very end. The vet left us alone with him for as long as we needed.

We left without out our dear friend and companion, but before leaving him alone on the cold steel examining table, I made sure… I just had to make him a cozy kitty one last time, it was this thing I would always do. We were leaving a towel behind, and I wrapped him up in a little nest the way he had liked. It was a very final farewell, because as I handled him it was made crystal clear to me that he was gone. We left, quickly, and went home to clear things away and clean up the area where his bowls and food had been stored. Later that day, we went to a family barbecue and wondered what the hell had happened to us – felt like we’d been blindsided. Little did we know… but the house has been awfully quiet since then.

We miss him and will continue to mourn him for a long time.

As it happens, he had a stash of meds and food that could be donated back to our regular vet to help someone else’s cat, so yesterday I finally made time to head over there with a bagful of high-nutrition kitten food, drugs, supplies, and some other canned stuff that was refundable. Actually, I was in the neighborhood because of the next development in order of emotional bombshellness.

So I walked in to Arlington Cat Clinic and dropped off all the goodies and chatted with Adelle at the front desk, and looked at the current cat-in-residence who’s available for adoption – her name is Gabby and she looked like a sweet girl tabby. Then one of the techs walked to the back with a small cat carrier that was emitting a series of tiny little squeaks.

What was it? a Meezer kitten – a Siamese that had been found in someone’s window well. It required hand feeding because it was so tiny. It was just a week or two old.

When I was growing up, my childhood cat Beebee had several litters of kittens, until my mom finally decided to get her spayed (or as I thought it was pronounced, “spaded”). So it had been many years since I’d held a wee Meezer kitty, and it was just big enough to fill one hand. Its eyes were open but its ears were still placed far down on the side of its skull – as the kitty grows, the ears sort of migrate from the sides to the top because the space between them doesn’t increase that much.

So it cried and went “eee! EEE!!” while I held it under my chin while I cried and went “aw… AWWWWW”, and the tears started to come. Adelle came up and asked me something about Riley’s stuff that I’d dropped off. So I cuddled it a bit and handed it back for more feeding, knowing that we couldn’t possibly handle another cat for a long while yet. We need to take some time.

But boy, it sure is going to be cute, and there are some siblings and the mom that someone else brought in, so if you want to get your name in, check with Arlington Cat Clinic, they have a lot of other kittens and cats available for adoption that are currrently fostered out. Although they don’t take cats in, they do have their… network of minions that make sure that cats have someplace to stay while waiting to be placed.

Here’s a video that they made, featuring hospital cat and Head of Security, Dr Leon. I didn’t see him on our recent visits, so I hope he’s okay, he was a big help when I had to re-learn how to pill Riley a couple of years ago.

So that brings me to the next thing on my mind.

It’s a wonderful thing that David’s dad Sheldon and his lovely lady Linda live near us, as we can get together with them so easily now, with no hour-long drive to their home. We attended a family barbecue (the day we lost Riley) and then a week later, there was another family barbecue – so easy now to gather the family, we couldn’t be happier for Dad and Linda.

At that second barbecue, we met some new extended family (close family to Linda). It was a very nice time, but there was a lot of hubbub and people milling about, so it was kind of hard to visit with everyone. Some of Linda’s family members were traveling on to the next part of a long-planned vacation, and they were very excited about that. I wish I had spent more time talking with them. REALLY wish.

A few days after the second barbecue, Sheldon texted me to call him, and got shocking news; one of Linda’s family, that we met for the first time that Sunday, had passed away suddenly, and Linda was already on her way to an Eastern city to be with other family members who were left waiting for everyone to get home from the west coast vacation. There’s a lot to leave unsaid, but it was completely unexpected, although the family member did have a chronic illness that ultimately wasn’t the direct cause of death.

It was just. awful and so very sudden. You just can never tell what comes next (or not) in life.

So to make things easier for Shel, I went over several times this week to help him with Linda’s cats, and then he went East for the services. I was happy to do something to help Linda so she wouldn’t have to worry, and I was happy to spend time with cats that I could feed, pet, and say “bye-bye” and head home. Shel and Linda got home earlier today, and her family are gathering themselves together after dealing with the services and all the people wanting to help them – there was an outpouring of love, and it was very inspiring, according to Linda. But still, in the end, the family is left to pick themselves up and go on, so they will.

Aside from the crappy end to the summer, it’s been great… um and now it’s going to be fall soon, as the weather seems to have gone colder and wetter awfully early.

That’s about it for the catch-up, now to see if this draft makes it to the server.

Crossposted from the backup site on,

David has updated the servers, and moved stuff around, so for now at least, I’m blogging again.

GOP Congress Repulsive, Useless, Lazy… what else? Oh yeah, they're poopyheads

That is my considered opinion, Rachel Maddow is a little more articulate.

Maddow Slams ‘Repulsive’ GOP Congress For Abandoning Their Posts
There comes a time when you have to ask yourself: How useless are you when the best way to keep your job is not to show up at work?

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Switching over to the new Social Media 2 WordPress plugin by +Daniel Treadwell – following his directions and using this as my first test. Replaces the Google+Blog plugin (the paid version) and now updateable via the normal WordPress plugin process. YES!

Random picture of Riley (AW, so cute!) because I have a big backlog of pictures. I miss him so much – he looked so cute in this plushy bed, but it didn't survive for long.


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