Sunday, November 22, 2009


By Pauly
Playa Conchal, Costa Rica

This little stretch of beach is made up of millions and millions of tiny little shells...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Karmic Douches

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I needed to upgrade my phone to include global roaming.

With an imminent trip to Costa Rica and plenty of South American and European travel in 2010, I needed my phone to meet my international needs, except the current phone would not take a SIM card so needed a new phone.

I made a trip to the Verizon Store in the Beverly Center. Oh man, I've been there before and that place is a zoo. The lines are longer than the DMV, except that lots of people try to cut the lines, which means lots of tension. I made an effort to go within an hour of the store opening to make sure I didn't spend all day there. You have to sign up using a kiosk and I was 4th in line and told Nicky to go home because it was going to be a while.

I patiently waited and I scouted out the new Droid which was not capable of handling international roaming. I peeked at the latest Blackberry -- global friendly and it featured a $100 rebate. I really didn't have much of a choice. Only four or five phones were global ready and two of which were Blackberries. It took me five minutes to decide and I waited 45 before my name was called. In the meantime, I sat down and watched two horrendous displays of douchebaggery. Hey, we're deep in the heart of Beverly Hills or home turf for L.A. Douchebags. Those fuckers are crawling all over that part of town.

Both douchebags cut me in line. That's expected because that's what self-important L.A. Douchebags do. I was pissed at the saleswoman who allowed it to happen thereby condoning their behavior. And as a result? Wasted time and no commission. Both gave her tons of shit and they didn't buy anything. Meanwhile, another salesman helped me and picked up a fatty commission on my sale.

I sat quietly in the corner on one of two seats in the store waiting for my name to be called since I was next in line. The first L.A. Douchebag walked into the store, did not sign up, and headed right for the saleswoman while waving his phone.

"I'm low and almost out of juice. I don't have my charger and need to shop with my wife next door. Can you charge my phone for me?"

The douchebag and the saleswoman debated for five full minutes while I was next in line. He wouldn't leave until she catered to his selfish needs. That irked me because he wasn't even a paying customer.

He wuickly left and just as I was about to be called another L.A. douchebag cut the line.

"Excuse me," I blurted out and gave him the NYC stinkeye. "I'm next."

"This will just be a sec..." he said.

"I'll be with you shortly," scolded the saleswoman.

What the fuck? I'm the bad guy here for sticking up for myself?

Of course, that "just a sec" was 25 minutes. L.A Douchebag was tagging along with his model girlfriend who had a two week shoot in Australia. He must have said that two or three times to make sure everyone in the store heard him. He had a similar issue that I had -- he wanted to add global calling on his phone for an overseas trip. The saleswoman did everything in her power to help him and explain the charges, but all he bitched and moaned about the 29 cents a minute cost for Aussie roaming charges.

"But I have unlimited calling," he said over and over.

There was some stuff that the saleswoman was explaining about extra charges since he was out of the country and using a different network, but he ignored her and talked over her. He was just a flat out dick while she doing her best to help him.

At that point, my name was finally called and I lucked out and got the cool salesman. Very helpful. Lots of banter. He knew his shit. Meanwhile, I could hear L.A. Douchebag giving the saleswoman a hard time.

"This is stupid. This is so stupid. You're wrong."

The saleswoman was a young black woman and I couldn't help but think he never would have talked to a white woman like that. Not only was he a douchebag... he was a racist.

"You can step behind the counter and look at my screen," said the saleswoman who was obviously losing her patience but did her best to shrug off the obvious racsim, sexism, classism, and overall douchism.

Of course, crybaby spoiled L.A. Douchebag didn't get what he wanted -- to use his cellphone in Australia like he would in L.A. without extra charges. I would have suggested buying a top-up phone for $50 in Oz, but the fucker cut me in line so I was not about to help him.

After pitching a hissy fit, he stormed out saying, "This is so stupid. Customer service is a joke."

Meanwhile, my salesman was an amateur poker player and we were having a blast cracking jokes as he showed me how to use my new Blackberry.

While I walked out of the store with my brand new phone and accessories, I made eye contact with the saleswoman. I didn't say anything but I let my smirk do all the talking, "This is karmic payback for making me wait when I was next in line. You served two L.A. Douchebags who cut in front of me because they were pretty boys and I'm an ugly dude. Both of those pretty faces were non-sales. That's what you get for fucking me over and pandering to L.A. Douchebags."

* * * * * *


I forgot to add that my new piece of hardware has a decent camera. I will be abusing TwitPic like no other.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Advanced Packing and Travel Tips

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Packing is constantly on my mind while pondering my travel schedule for the last 10 weeks of 2009.... LA > Palm Springs > LA > Las Vegas > LA > Costa Rica > LA > NYC > Albany > NYC > Richmond > NYC > LA > Las Vegas > LA > NYC > Miami. The Palm Springs leg included a camping trip and over the next few weeks I'm heading to contrasting climates and different social situations (beach vacation, work functions, Phish, family holidays) so I need to pack wisely and effectively for each leg of my journey. At this point, I have a routine down pat. Lots of packing. Unpacking. Laundry. And re-packing.

It's time to share some pearls of wisdom...

1. What you wear to the airport is extremely important on your travel day. If you want to pack light, you can knock off two days of clothing by wearing the same clothes on your travel days. During flights, I prefer to wear comfortable clothes in multiple layers. There have been instances when I wore the nicest outfit in order to save space or not wrinkle my suit jacket, and I recommend that if you're on a business trip. On a roundtrip flights, I usually wear the same outfit inbound/outbound. Most of the times I have a standard travel uniform. There's a specific pair of pants that I only wear for traveling because it has a zipable pocket to keep my passport which means that it will never fall out of my pocket. My girlfriend wears her biggest piece of outwear (w.g. sweaters, jackets) and shoes (e.g. Uggs) on her travel days.

2. Carry-on luggage can be deceptive. Be realistic about the size of your bag. Never pack it more than 80% (save some room for items you acquire on the road). I'm shocked to see how people try to use every single inch of their bags and then the fucker won't fit into the overhead. These days, overzealous agents might force you to check your bag at the gate because it looks overstuffed. Plus, they're onto the scam where cheap passengers try to sneak a large bag onto the plane instead of paying to check the bag. Also know about the types of airplanes that you're flying and pack accordingly. Puddle jumpers have less overhead space than wide-body planes. And of course, know what times you are traveling. Holiday season is the time of the year to travel as light as possible. Ship your presents and go with a light carry-on.

3. Keep warm at 34,000 feet. On long flights, I always take a hoodie even if it's in the middle of summer. Airplanes flying at high altitudes get cold. Never rely on the actual airline to provide a blanket, and half the time I refuse to touch those disease-ridden rags. If you are a female who prefers open-toed shoes or a guy who always wears flipflops, I suggest bring a pair of socks with you. Nothing is worse than cold toes.

4. Packing cubes save space. I can't get enough of the cubes which help condense my clothes. About ten years ago, a couple of Japanese friends introduced me to space-age air tight vacuum bags. I used those for years (those are amazing space savers for bulky winter clothing) but now I'm hooked on the cubes. However, I prefer the vacuum bags to seal up dirty clothes - it contains any foul odor of smelly clothes.

5. Plastic clear baggies are your friends and they are TSA friendly. If by chance you get pulled out of a line, your inspection will go much faster if most of your shit is in clear baggies. I primarily use two baggies; one for toiletries and the other for electronic shit. Pre 9/11 I had a really cool toiletry kit but in the post-9/11 travel world, I opted for a simple ziplock baggie because it is see-through. I pull the baggie out and put it in a bin for x-ray. The other baggie houses all of those smaller wires and chargers for my iPod cellphone and other miscellaneous electronic equipment. It takes only five minutes to neatly pack these items before you arrive at the airport. It can save you valuable time if you get flagged. Also, don't skimp and spend the money and buy the top of the line Glad ziplock ultra strength bags. Those bags are waterproof and you won't realize how clutch they can be until one of your liquid-based toiletries breaks open in transit.

6. If you check your bags, bring at least one pair of clothes in a carry-on. Airlines lose luggage so make sure you bring an extra outfit. Never underestimate the significance of bringing an extra pair of underwear with you. I can go a week wearing the same outer clothes if need be. But dirty underwear starts to rot after the fourth day.

7. In the age of cellphones, it's important to remember specific phone numbers. I also write down key phone numbers of business contacts and hotels just in case I lose my phone or my battery runs low.

8. Charge everything before you travel. Never leave home without a full charge. You never know when you might get a chance to do it again. This includes laptops and especially iphones and those fancy noise-canceling headphones. What good is having Bose to drown out crying babies if you forget to charge to suckers? For work assignments I bring a backup battery for my laptop and on camping excursions, I bring an extra battery for my cellphone.

9. Bring your own converters and ethernet cables. Make sure you have the proper power converter if you are an international traveler. I always have at least two travel converters because sometimes hotels don't provide them for free and I have to charge a cell phone and a laptop. Also, a friend of mine is an professional poker player who makes the bulk of his income playing online poker. He's never without a wireless aircard and an extra long ethernet cable. Most hotels provide cables -- but more often than not, they are torn and frayed and often very short. If you bring your own, you never have to worry about that hassle.

10. Bring a book. You never know when you'll get stuck and bored to death. Long security lines. At the gate waiting for a delayed flight. Stuck on the tarmac. Backed up in an immigration line. Waiting for a taxi. Random idle time can be frustrating and utter torture for travelers, so take advantage of the forced free time and read a book.

11. Have cash especially small bills. This seems so simple especially when traveling abroad. Get some foregin currency before you arrive and avoid changing cash in airports. They will fuck you with horrible exchange rates... because they can.

12. Think light, travel light. Don't be afraid of under-packing. After you pack your bag, re-pack and remove five items. You don't need three books and five magazines. You don't need three suits or seven pairs of shoes for a weekend away.

13. You can buy almost everything you need where ever you go. Unless you're going to the fucking jungle. Then again, I'm sure you'll be able to buy machetes there.