Conference Showdown

The sportswriters @ CNNSI start making the same point I’m frightened by – that it is entirely possible for Rutgers to head in to its December 2nd game against West Virginia 11-0.

Update: Ok, now I’ve seen everything. FoxSports has Rutgers matching up against Clemson in the Gator Bowl.


Good for a Giggle

Overheard in NY is always good for a giggle.

Guy: So, are you becoming a nun or a ninja?
Girl: I’m becoming a nun… ja.


Overheard by: Carene



Found: Miami’s Defense circa 2001
Location: Piscataway, NJ

When Rutgers picked up Greg Schiano from Miami, everyone wondered if he would really would be able to turn the football team around. After all, this was a team that was mostly terrible, a perenial loser throughout the 1990s. And, in all honesty, had been struggling for years even before that.

So with their 20-10 win over Pittsburgh on the strength of some great defense and their running game, there’s no need to wonder anymore. This team is for real.

Louisville is looking vulnerable right now. West Virginia is still a monster, but as long as Rutgers doesn’t overlook anyone, there’s a chance they could steal a win that no one expects them to get. If they do, it will be very interesting to see just where they end up at the end of the season.

Keep choppin’ Rutgers!


Another Day Another Travel Pricing Error

I checked my RSS feeds last night before I went to bed, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but an extremely discounted one-way Y-fare. For 284+taxes each way, on an upgradeable fare, good throughout the entire schedule, I figure what the hey. So now instead of the U.A.E. it looks like I”ll be in London after Thanksgiving, and again in July as I head up to Scotland.

This is the third deal in a month and a half I’ve been able to take advantage of, and now it looks like all four of my international trips between now and July will either benefit from or be initiated by pricing errors.

Crazy, man. Doesn’t anyone check this stuff first?



It sounds crazy, but I love my AMEX card. I don’t know why, exactly. It could be the phenomenal rate of Hilton HHonors points I get for each $ I spend. The friendly service when I call helps, too. Their website is one of the better credit card sites, with the ability to drill down to more detail on each purchase. And the card is shiny, too. I mean, who doesn’t love shiny things?

So, when I received a letter in the mail from Amex, I was actually excited.

I opened it, then began reading.

Dear Christopher Dymek:

Thank you for being part of the Premium Car Rental protection plan offered exclusively to American Express Cardmembers. The plan is a good way to protect you while renting a vehicle. We are writing to inform you of changes to you coverage that will take effect on December 18, 2006.

As of the effective date noted above, the Master Policy for your Premium Car Rental Protection will change and coverage will be issued under Master Policy AX0610.

Ok, I thought to myself. That sounds fair enough. So what, exactly are these changes? I kept reading.

As an added service to you, we have also included enhancements to the product. Changes include, but are not limited to:

  • Added Loss of Use Coverage
  • Changes in the Definitions section
  • Changes in the Exclusions section

Additions and changes? Are there any specific changes, since changes include but are not limited to those areas above, at least according to the letter.

So I kept reading.

Please note that your per-rental premium will remain the same.

Well, at least one thing isn’t changing.

We have enclosed the Plan documents for Premium Car Rental Protection that state the benefits and changes outlined in this letter. Please read this information carefully and replace your current Plan documents with the ones that are enclosed as of December 18, 2006.

If you have any questions regarding these changes, please call…

So AMEX sent me a letter telling me there are changes, and then a legalese addendum that doesn’t actually say exactly what changed. In short, AMEX unilaterally changed their product and then wants me to compare this to the original document to find out what exactly the differences are.

I don’t get why companies are allowed to get away with this. Is it so hard to write a straightforward letter saying “Before the change you had X, and after the change you’ll have Y”. Plain English that is easily readable goes a long way. I hate the way companies, particulately the financial services companies, cram important information in unreadable documents and then expect that consumers should be able to understand these notices.

In any event, though, they do make fun reading. Take this as an example.

“Board” or “Boarding” means being in the direct and immediate act of entering the seating compartment of the Rental car. Once a person is sitting in the Rental Car, the act of Boarding is completed.

I wonder how many hours some lawyer billed for coming up with that paragraph?


Big Itch for the Big Ditch

I’m back from the Valley of the Sun, and Lord knows why. Who would trade sunny, warm weather for the Autumn doldrums that greeted me when I finally made it home last night, sometime after midnight, thanks only in small part to the East Coast rain?

Still, the trip wasn’t ALL gooseberries and golden fun. After all, I did have to drive around in Arizona, where the drivers can’t keep up with the speed limit and randomly stop or swerve in to other lanes of traffic. And while this can be generally regarded as true anywhere in the state, nowhere was this more true than at the Grand Canyon. Who needs to go 15 mph BELOW the speed limit to stare at the trees? I can’t tell you how many times I found myself yelling at the cars in front of me to get up and DRIVE so we can actually get to something worth seeing.

Which is how I ended up taking to calling the Grand Canyon the Big Ditch. Easier to make up rhymes with a name like that, not all of them friendly.

But if driving up to the Grand Canyon was a trip in more ways than one, by far my favorite accomplishment was my Tuesday morning drive from Sedona to Phoenix Sky Harbor airport. I traveled 111 miles in 90 minutes, bad drivers be damned.

I’ll leave the math to the rest of you.


Finally Family Cirus Gets Funny

Someone decided to remix the awesome power of Nietzche’s quotes with the single pane “funny” of Family Circus to come up with an improved version that is downright hillarious. After a few refreshes through the list, it becomes frightening how well the two line up.

Some of my person favorites are below.

Is life not a thousand times too short…
We must be physicists…
All truly great thoughts…
The best weapon…



I was reflecting on my upcoming travels as I was booking some hotel rooms last night when it dawned on me – I have a LOT of travel planned for the next 8 months. Between now and the beginning of June, I’ll have arrived and departed from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bangkok, Siam Reap (Cambodia), Tokyo, Toronto, Vienna, and Bucharest. That’s actually the most aggressive international travel schedule I think I’ve ever had, period.

Now I just need to win big so I can pay the credit card bills.


Planning Ahead

So, wouldn’t you know, I wake up this morning to the annuoncement of a good deal on NW/KLM from YVR-BUH (Vancouver to Bucharest, Romania, for those not versed in airline speak). Usually I dismiss these out of hand, since I’m nowhere near YVR, but this morning I figured I’d check it out.

Turns out it’s a relatively unrestricted, normally expensive, upgradeable coach fare.

Turns out it’s also available from Toronto.

All the way through the schedule.

With stopovers permitted both ways, pretty much anywhere in Europe you want.

For ~ $250 roundtrip, including taxes.

With all that being true, what else could I do? I booked a week split between Vienna, Austria, and Bucharest, Romania, the week of Memorial Day next year.

Now I just have to wait for the tickets to arrive.


Scenes from the Rutgers Locker Room

ESPN showed some video from the Rutgers locker room after their win over USF Friday night, which some posted to Youtube. Check it out while it’s still there.