June 13, 2009

What the hell, Sprite, just what the hell were you thinking? (WTF ads)

Before the previews leading into the new Star Trek...

Man, the long hot days of summer. The asphalt jungle, it's denizens.... the skateboarders, the bicyclists, the sweaty slaves to corporate melancholy commercial pseudo protest rock that linger, hot, sweaty, and clothed in mostly earth tones, in the midst of what is the most Soda inspiring weather. The trademarked logo'd , brand guidelined beads of condensation clinging to the screen like so much macro-written horse drivel. Yet another ad for sugar water, an unwelcome guest before real entertainment.

A standard soda commercial, right? No, in fact, something much much worse. Something that makes you question the judgement of the people who funded it.

As the music rises up, two skateboarders decide to run headlong into each other and with the rising crescendo of the pseudo-rock, they explode their component chemicals, mostly water, I'm guessing, and , in a great gush of bodily fluids they coat their friends in an enormous spray of what appears to be a cleansing ritual of orgasmic cool fluid.

In the course of the 30 second commercial, 10 male of the species literally ram into each other in what might be meaning to invoke a dominance ritual, but instead of a winner going and bedding the females of the pack, the combined secretions (no blood, to be sure, just enormous gouts of watery remains) flow and spray all over the surrounding crowd, their rapt, happy expressions unmistakable in their glee at being able to absorb and consume their fellow human kind. Only one female offers herself, not in single combat with another for pack dominance, but instead, a stage dive into a crowd of about 15 or so people , a polyglot of men and women, who receive her stage dive of fertility as she explodes into the largest geyser of cataclysmic remains, covering a better park of the park in her ferocious leavings.

So, yeah, what the hell, Sprite? Here's a link to the ad in question:

June 12, 2009

Will there be sphinxes shooting missles at each other?

One might imagine that the previews that were to appear before the new Star Trek movie were heavily negotiated, with the film industries best marketing and publicity people vying for that all important blockbusting promotional moment. Or, maybe, there was a 12 year old boy (the one present in many of us) who sad "Well, wait, how about we only allow movies that have robots shooting missles at each other?"

One producer like human might have offered, "Well, we have this movie about two people finding love and themselves on a journey in post World War II egypt"

To which our selector of previews must have replied "Will there be sphinxes shooting missles at
each other?"

"Well, no, that wouldn't fit the story"

"BRRRRZAAP, no go, get out of my office."


Producer #2: "Hey, what about robotic like body armor?"

"Will there be missiles?"

"Sure, it's GI Joe, can't have GI Joe without missles."

"Wait, will there be actual death? The problem with GI Joe was that it was always robots getting sploded."

"Well, it'll be pg13, so maybe a couple of dozen, mostly innocent bystanders."

"Hmm, okay.", twelverson might have said, "Who's next"

"Hmm, lets see...", his PA might have answered, "Terminator Salva.."

"Yeah, of course, don't waste my time. What else?"

"Hmm, Transformers 2?"

"PERFECT! You're the best. Let's go to lunch?"

Seriously, though, every single preview had robot (or robotic'd up people) and missles. Often being dodged. In a car provided by Ford, I think. Lots of product placement.

Speaking of which. I was human product placement, recently. At the time of this writing , I'm on the plane from Tokyo to SFO now, I upgraded myself to First, which on United's non upgraded fleet is downright insulting. On the way to Asia I had the good fortune to be on Singapore Airlines 777 with the new Business class, which begged the question on how First could possibly be any better, and it was like a slice of heaven with some papaya on the side. I like papaya. Which, btw, I had on Singapore Airlines. It was a damn sight better choice of fruit than a slightly browned bananna on the United planes.

I've been flying almost solely United now for years, I've built up almost 470k in the seat miles with the airline over the years, which is pretty appalling, and I'm likely to cross the 1/2 million marker soon. I kind of bragging, I guess, but why? Bragging about a half million miles on United is like bragging that you are the least inbred family member in some weird fundamentalist cult on the Utah/Arizona border. Or at least excepting the odd newly laid out planes (which are really very nice).

I didn't really go into this post looking to slag on United, my chosen carrier, which I obviously like otherwise why would I keep using them? I mostly wanted to talk about my trip. I was in Kuala Lumpur, Beijing and Tokyo on this trip. For the first two, it was my first time in those cities and for Tokyo my first trip over 24 hours. I spent about 3 days in each.

In KL, my lungs began the upward battle of smog triage on the cilli and villi of my lungs. I got to the point in China where I was actually worried about my ability to give my speech, which was alarming. In the end it worked out, but the pollution was formidible. Many have written about the pollution in China, so I won't bore you too much, a speech was given, I think it went well, and the organizers of Google Developer Day in Beijing did a simply bang up job. In some ways, it was the best organized conference I've been to in a long time.

I also got to meet up with some old pals, and the chinese governments open source promotion arm, which was cool. I walked the stalls at a hemmed in kind of mall that specialized in inexpensive electronics, mostly counterfit. For instance, I saw the "Iphone Air" which was a flip, pink, Iphone. You know? You must have seen Steve release that one at WWDC, right? The other one, the "Iphone Duo" was a bitchen 3g lookalike, with dual sims, 5 pages of apps (notably not the iphone apps) and support for micro sdhc. All for about 1000 won (I suspect I could have talked them down dramatically).

I picked up a 'Disney MP3" player, with 2gb of onboard ram
(with some craptastic songs preinstalled) for what amounted to 13$ (I had bargained them down from the inital price of $25). I don't know why I bought it, honestly, I'll probably just give it to Cory Doctorow next time I run into him, as he's into this kind of thing, but there were some amazing things in that mall. I haven't been that excited to simply walk around a mallesque collection of stalls since the first time I walked the streets in Akihabara some 8 years ago.

The thing I should have bought was this neat little rc helicopter for 90 won. (around 30$, down from an initial price of about 2.5x that) but I decided that I really didn't have space in my bag for it in its box.

Malaysia was very interesting. I did some normal stuff, like check out the Petronas tower, which is flipping georgous, but I didn't go inside. Between jet lag and work, I didn't want to spend the time and I don't have the same desire I used to have, to go to the highest spot in a city. My happiest times in all three cities were simply when I was walking around, by myself, getting mildly lost on the way here or there, understanding little beyond what street I'm on and which one I'll be on next.

It was kinda hot though. Food was super fun in malaysia once I got away from the hotels with a group of open source hackers the last night I was in town.

Tokyo, though, I got some -mad- walking in. Went guitar shopping with a dude from work, which was very fun. The first store we went to (the wrong one) was 6 stories tall, with each story being kind of small, consumlables-guitar-guitar-acoustics-keyboards-mixing/amps-lessons, it was neat. I want a pacemaker (looks fun, won't actually buy one) but it was not the right shop. Next street over we found 'Heartmann guitar' and , for the record, I played a little when I was younger, but I was -terrible- at it. I didn't practice and didn't learn much past a few songs. But that said, I was transfixed and shocked at some of the guitars they had. A 54 les paul, a 55 martin, it was amazing. These guitars were behind glass, but a part of me felt like I was in a museum. It was really something. And -boy- were those not cheap.

I spoke in Yokohama the day after at Google Developer Day Tokyo , which was neat. Going out after with my work friends was neater afterwords, and shopping for Mochi with Jason Chen was more awesome still.

But it was all so long, so much time away from Christine and the kids. So you'll see less of these kinds of posts after June. It's too much travel and so I won't be doing as much of it. Sorry United, my status will lapse. Sorry Starwood, you'll need to upgrade some other travellers rooms. 2010 will be the year my status expires, if I have my wish, and with hope, I'll never make 1m miles on star alliance. I will , instead, be home.

May 15, 2009

11 but not 6, perhaps due to the aerosolized Prozac before the spy contacted me in the Domedovo bathroom?

Again I sit on a plane. This time I'm Moscow bound, due to land in a bit over an hour's time. Going to speak with my colleagues in Moscow about open source use, keynote a conference, chat with some Moscow press and generally try to be a friendly face for Google. 

And so I sit. Managed a Business class seat, on one of United's 767s with the new layout they were promising last year. They're spreading to their Atlantic long haul flights, I see.  The seats are really nice, and the in flight entertainment sports your standard video on demand and the rest. So in this they have achieved parity with most other airlines business class sections. In some ways, they're a little better. Large screens that make the choice to watch a movie not one of squintitude. 

This is, however, the first time someone on a flight has given me their card in case I get "In a jam" in Moscow.  I find this really charming, if ominous.  I dislike that I'm likely to have a heavily mediated experience in Moscow. Airport to car to Hotel to office to cab to dinner to hotel to venue to cab to dinner to hotel to airport to home.  I hope to fit in some subway riding, some walking arounding and the rest. My seatmate thinks that I'm asking for trouble.

But what he doesn't know is that I have the international fellowship of open source developers that I can draw upon. One thing I've noticed is that a well timed email to the summer of code students list or a local users group is more than enough to allow for a uniquely local experience, especially in non-English dominated countries.  These people, my brothers and sisters in arms, are everywhere. Every country, every city, and we've got something in common to talk about.

Computers are swell, you know?

The title for this post is meant to describe a funny quirk of my flying existence. 11 hours is actually weirdly easier for me to deal with than 6 when it comes to flying. Something about hour 5 kills me on the New York or Boston to San Francisco run. It's weird, it's like a spell comes over me as I pass over the continental divide.  But it is clearly -not- geographic. I don't experience the same issue when coming back from London, nor is there a similar effect  induced by the fiesta ware (catalina? Whatever.) islands when coming home from Japan or New Zealand. 

So what is it about 6? I could make up some yarn about how early in the development of my people, the number 6, not being reducible cleanly as a power of 2 and, when considered bitwise, allowing only a lower case character set  was considered anathema by all but the 12 bit crowd. A 12 bit crowd whom you'd clearly see holds some bizarre horrible affinity with the 6ers among us. Like a convention of 12 fingered people welcoming the right-handed amputee among them as a brother. 

I think I'm a bit off topic. Anyhow, the thing is the 12 hour flight doesn't bother me, and time passes faster than the 6.  Similarly, a 15 hour flight (my current maximum that I've taken) is not any longer, neocortexically speaking, than a 12, 11 or 10 hour flight. Why is that? It's not really a b-class vs. non b-class thing. With my vaunted status with the alliance of the star, I can practically hunt economy class people for food if I so desire (and lest you consider me some kind of caveman, know that I do not do this, thank you very much)  I never travel economy if I don't want to, so...what is it?

Is it a smaller plane thing? The 757 being the mainstay of United's cross continental flight, it has neither the air pressure practices nor the roominess of the 767s even if they do share a cockpit design and type-rating. Maybe....

Or maybe, they put something in the drinks. Yes, that's it. Prozac in the drinks supply. Airlines have a long history of this kind of thing. Who doesn't remember flying in the 80s, when they'd have everyone drop their pants a bit so they could inject the left butt cheek with some Halcyon. And why only the left butt cheek? Unknown, but we can agree that is one intriguing standard. Imagine the standards process for that decision:

Standards person: Point of personal order chairman, we clearly must inject into the left cheek, and we should not allow the representative from the Facconable to allow for gender specific  directionality the way they did with shirt button placement. I object! 

Maybe that's it, maybe Prozac is metabolized slow enough that for a sub 7 hour flight, it is too detectable to use modern psychotropics on the passengers. A lot of people don't know this but the reason the DC-10 was taken out of service was that it's nootropic gas dispensers would often jam open, reducing the plane's passengers into a writhing mess of hugs and teeth grinding (People Express airlines liked to use MDMA before it was made illegal) Other airlines found that aerosol dispersal made for pilots that were too agreeable, which led to departure delays as they'd allow other smaller and cuter planes to cut ahead in line for the runway. 

Listening to tower traffic was much better though, I tell you what. None of this clipped efficiency that rules the day in 2009, no back then it was much mellower. 

People Express Pilot: Hey tower, it's PX 557, we have the plane mostly buttoned up (giggle) ...hey give that back....*snort* wow you are cute.... Christ. Anyhow, hey tower, we're ready to push back you know, whenever.

Tower: PX 557 roger on push back.  Proceed to runway 4R behind the Delta Heavy. 

PX: PX557 to tower, Whoa dude, just cause she's been letting herself go a bit. Don't be so mean.  Hey, so what's it like in the tower today? 

Tower: PX 557, we have a hold on runway 4R, as AA 756 decided to do donuts for a while. 

PX: PX557 here, sup tower...  Yeah, they are really awesome at that. Passengers look a bit green though. Oh hey, so where should we go then. 80R? I like that one. It's wide and smooth. You guys repave or something? I loved it last time. It was like licking ice cream out of a belly button. 

Tower: Christ, PX557, the FCC's gonna fine you again, 80R fine by us, try to use the runway and not the taxiway this time.

PX: 80R roger for PX557.  You guys are no fun. That was awesome, and you guys got the luggage cart our wash turned over no worries, so...no harm no foul.

Tower: PX557, okay the runway is yours, proceed to three-zero-zero and squawk one one five niner.

PX: Roger roger. 

I could go on, but you get the point. More later ...

In fact, more right now. My fellow passengers seem fine this flight. No craziness. 

Wonder what Russian customs will be like. Everything I know about Russia I know from spy novels. So clearly there will be a Finn who will attempt contact me while I wash my hands in the red veloured, golden handled, Russian restroom, which is strangely lavish for an airport bathroom, but just go with it, cool? So this Finn, who is masquerading as the restroom attendant,  will ask me to carry something through customs. 

Being a man of careful process, I will refuse, and he will indeed turn out to be XKD, which is the reformed spetnaz (anti-spy, which I learned from old Ian Fleming novels) division of the KGB. Oh ho, you think I didn't know that?  I'm a world traveler, man,  I know stuff,  so back off.  Anyhow, thanks to my declining, they will try to convert me to be an asset of theirs at the state department, but having Ieft that job 13 years ago, that too will fail. In the end the agent will just say "oh forget about it, stupid computer dork" and leave me be. Win one for -America- bitches. 
Anyhow, I anticipate that customs will be as boring as it ever is. There have only been two times when customs was exciting. 

The first exciting customs experience was my trip to Venezuela when I was on my first trip abroad, when the customs dude basically tried to get a bribe out of me to leave the country, but I was so clueless he ended up giving up exasperated with my inability to understand "I believe you do not have the right exit stamp, I could perhaps apply one" to mean "dude, give me a 20, cool?" 

The second was when I was heading to Israel to keynote Google Developer Day last year. Get this... I flew on the red-eye to new York, hopped on the afternoon continental flight to Israel arriving at 8:15am Israel time. Our in-country people had a dude meet me at the plane, take me down to the apron, drive along the tarmac to customs, walk me to customs, which had me pre-cleared and to a taxi in a mere 10 minutes. I was on stage giving the keynote at 9:30. It was awesome and I totally effing nailed the speech. Then a day of press and dinner with the local awesome Googlers. For the record I love that kind of stuff. 

More later (I mean it this time)

March 8, 2009

Want to be a better speaker?

Read Duncan's post, then, here are some additional notes:

General Tips:

1) Practice. I feel like I haven't nailed a speech until I've given it 2 or 3 times. And I give it once or twice privately as well. (and practice while driving, everyone will just think you are using bluetooth)  
2) Pick a person in each 'section' of the audience. Alternate looking at them. For large crowds, you are far enough away generally that it isn't creepy, and for small crowds switch people every 10 minutes or so. For large crowds, everyone will think you are interacting with them personally. Switch looking at people in the front and the back, if you can make them out.  
3) Practice, alone, on the stage with the music, slides and gear that you'll be using later. If you can't, don't speak.  
4) Clueless/Stoned AV people are the enemy and the enemy are legion. Remove them from the premises. (O'Reilly uses solid av people, for the record). Christian Bale was right.  
5) Make your slides additive and in some ways, superfluous. I've given talks where projectors die midway through, I've tried to give slideless talks (which always will be marked down slightly by audiences, it is in their nature) 
6) Take questions at the end. During the speech, any questions should be short and the answers shorter. Long q&a belongs at the end. Most people are coming to hear you speak, not the audience. Some are coming to give you crap, they can wait. Some have good questions, find them!
7) TV without an audience is different from TV with an audience which is different than speaking to 1000 people which is different than speaking to 20. The only thing that is constant is you and your knowledge, make sure you are up to snuff.
8) Don't lie. 
9) Don't hype products that don't exist or won't for years. There were JavaMX talks being given at OSCON as far back as 2006. IT is a waste of time, but your audience will have time to check email.
10) Almost all panel discussions stink.
11) Wear clothes you like and you look good in.
12) Watch the video of your talk. Get ready to cringe. Sadly, people who do this often don't know enough to be self critical. Here's an easy tip: Watch yourself with your wife, sister or someone who can be gently critical. You'll find you are way more sensitive to your flaws when watching with someone whose opinion matters to you.
13) Pidgeon hole me and ask me to watch 10 minutes of a speech. I'm not gentle at all ;-)
14) Loosen up about time. Sometimes speeches start and end late, early, or more. If you end early, take a question or two, or let them leave, if you have nothing else to say or have bombed.
15) US Audiences are different than foreign ones.
16) Don't speak so damn fast. I'm totally guilty of this.
17) You don't need 300 slides. You are giving people siezures. Stop.
18) Speak everywhere, it'll keep you sharp. I've spoken to computer people, librarians, schools of every age range and level, elks lodges, etc. People are different and while you might resonate with computer people, you might find the rest are beyond you or your topic. That's life. 
19) You -will- bomb, and hard. 
20) Don't give speeches to people who don't really want to be there.

Rules of thumb:

1) 60hz at 1024x768 works on every projector.
2) Test your laptop shortly beforehand.
3) For non-coding slide,s every 2 minutes on stage can = 1 slide.
4) 2 private and one 'public' practice before going on stage might be enough.
5) Give speeches every week, if you can, but once a month or you'll start to backslide. 
6) Have copies on usb sticks in pdf, ppt and, for free software people, odf. sometimes you will not be able to use your own gear or worse, your gear will fail. I also email myself a copy of the presentation. 
7) Lapel mics work best on shirts buttoned up. If you normally leave button 2 open, close it for the speech.
8) Union guys? $20 goes a long way..

That's all I have for you right now. Have fun on stage!

February 7, 2009

The Secret Morlock in Seat 3d

Recently, on a plane....

I fly a fair amount, and the whole business of commercial aviation is built on the idea that people who fly like I do are to be catered to.  I flew some 150k miles last year. I've been doing this kind of flying long enough to know that while I am not the ultimate ice cream and cake dream of the airlines,  I am likely the bread and butter of the 'business flyer' that matter so much to the powers-that-be at the various airlines. 

If you'd like to be catered to similarly by an airline, you have to fly like I do or you'll have to pay for the higher classes of flight. Lets consider United Airline's passenger hierarchy. If you steal a look at the passenger manifest that the attendants carry around, you'll find that there is a collection of asterisks next to each passengers name. They go something like this:

*: Lucky to get oxygen, pays for everything, includng a quarter for use of the restroom. Not allowed on the plane, or dropped off midway, sans parachute , early in the flight to save fuel. 

**: Reluctantly allowed on the plane. Luggage lost and lucky for it, passenger comes out wiser know that they should have opted to fed-ex the luggage, no utensils save the straw on the collectively shared human sized gerbil water bottle. 

***: Premiere Executive, Premiere Associate. Luggage only lost once or twice a year, minor back surgery needed if used internationally, but not domestic, so rejoice! No knives, 1 spork allocated per 5 adult passengers. 

****: 1k, the healthy balance between excessive upper atmosphere radiation exposure and deep vein thrombosis. Drinks served in glassware, real utensils, plastic knife.

*****: Global Services, massages made available to avert said DVT. Divorce attorneys provided gratis. Knives are often delivered with extra stabbing parts, in case you'd like to hunt economy passengers for sport.

And note that paying for first class means you trump, for that flight anyhow, the *****s.

This means that literally if you have ***** and the choice is presented between the chicken, beef or pasta, and you want pasta, but the pastas have been claimed by a bunch of low life ****'s , the attendants will go back to the lower caste member and tell them that they made a mistake and to choose another entree. 

So what happens when the airline caste system meets the needs of a woman's bladder, a man of low, base, tendencies, weather and a delay in opening up the restrooms? 

I'll tell you the answer to the above question now....BLOGGABLE HUMOR! 

An Aside: Whoa! I think that was Leon Panetta is sitting behind me on the flight in which I'm writing this. I wonder what he thinks of the caste system on planes. How weird is it that I recognize him? Of course I first thought he was Norm Mineta, but that's just because their names rhyme. But I digress....

I was sitting in one of United's aging 757s on a domestic trip somewhere. It had been a bumpy-ish flight and so it took some time for the pilot to loosen the restraints on the economy minus (well, if you have economy plus, that makes the rest as best 'economy origin' or economy minus, right?) and other more important passengers. 

Everyone pops up to attend to their particular evacuative business, leaving a longish line in the back and a steady stream (goodness, no pun intended) of people to the front of the plane, some (*gasp*) crossing the becurtained barrier between unclean subhuman and first class. 

Now, the folks handling the first class Eloi don't like it when Morlocks come to the front of the plane, but they generally don't make a big deal of it, and in the case of women and children, they turn a blind eye to the practice of Morlock promotion in the service of humanity being able to pee. 

But, when that seat belt light ignites, well, then it is time for all of god's Morlocks to settle back into their appointed racks, and contemplate the role of microeconomics in their own personal comfort. But....and let me put this gently...sometimes people gotta do numbers 1 or 2. 

A couple walks to the front of the plane to use the restroom, pushing aside the curtain (*gasp*!) to use the un-lined lavatory at the front of the plane. 

"Sir, please return to your seat."

"She needs to use the bathroom," he says, indicating his significant other, whom we shall assume is his mate. You see, in the lower castes, mating is often accompanied by displays of bravado against those wearing the scarves of authority. 

"Okay, but after the seat belt sign is off."

"It just turned on, she needs to use the restroom, so go on, honey", he motions her to the front. 

"Sorry sir, you'll both need to go sit down."

The plane gave a well timed ker-thumpy nudge to accent the need for the couple of sit back down. Whomever was in the restroom emerged and sat down, in seat 2b (If I remember correctly I was in 3d)

"There, he's done, now can she go.", more agitated now.

The plane nudges with a bit more determination.

An Aside: my side neighbor on this flight I'm on while writing this? A congressman. Did I mention I'm flying to DC? Man, these people need privacy screens. I mean for cripe's sake people, they're $90 and its 2009, if you can afford to pay Microsoft to use outlook, you can be a bit more discreet. Course these are printouts that are being read by said congressman, and I've always been an advocate for transparency in government, and if that starts with a dude like me in seat 3b, then great......oops, where were we?

"Sir, you'll need to sit down, now.", said the attendant to the drunk dude. I'm assuming he's drunk, I didn't smell anything, nor did he spontaneously vomit up rum and cokes , so take that with a grain of salt, or ipecac, or whatever. 

"Listen, God, what's wrong with you, she needs to use the bathroom and its open, Jesus.", he said, his Girlfriend/Mate/Spose/SO was visibly embarrassed.  For the record, she was -not- doing the peepee dance. 

"Come on , Tom, lets just go back.", she said, and I'm totally making up the names now,"I can wait. Comeon..."

"No, this is bullshit Karen. Here!", he says as he whips out his wallet, "Here, what'll it take? $40? $60?" At this point 'Tom' is waggling his money in the attendant's face. 

"Sir. Sit down, now.", the attendant, who we'll call 'Pinky Carruthers' said. 

'Tom'  began to protest the lack of bribe taking when the plane gave another shimmy, this time awfully forcefully, 'Karen' walks away, leaving her brave, likely inebriated, soldier standing there waggling his yuppie food stamps in the air, and the attendant continues, "Before I call the pilot, who might have something to say about this!"

He gave up at the point and, his entertainment value having totally petered out, walked back to 'lower back pain enhancement' class where he likely sat in ignoble steaming anger.

If you think about it, the whole notion of a caste system on planes is diametrically opposed to the efficient passenger loading strategies that are oft bandied about in the travel oriented press. Whether you are an 'alternating row window first' loading aficionado or a 'A B C' southwestian, none of these can withstand the introduction of a self important caste of system disrupters. I've personally favored a system that allows people with children then  the aged and disabled. All further seats should be satisfied through pre-boarding mortal combat. Let that seat which you feel belongs to you be earned through skill with the blade, the mace or the pistol. Damn airport security of course, will limit us to laptop oriented combat. That my laptop is made of magnesium is little comfort when confronting my unibody enhanced opponents.

Seriously, though, I've ridden economy plenty, and I think that if the belts light hadn't come on, and the rules against lines in front of the cockpit didn't exist they would have been happy to accommodate her. But , in the end, trying to bribe a fight attendant? That's just nuts. 

Especially with a mere $60.

January 24, 2009

The Bennifers of the Apocalypse

During a recent domestic flight, I walked into a hudson news (or one of its ilk) to purchase a magazine that I would probably be embarrassed to admit I purchased.  Modern Watch Envy? Small Business Jet Strivings quarterly? PC Magazine? Who knows....what I purchased wasn't the point, just that I was in that store, in line, waiting. 

It was in Denver, and the snows or anything hadn't started. About as normal a day in a plane as you can imagine. A minimum of security pat-downs, no weather to speak of. Bad food which I've been trying to avoid lately. The stroll through the in-motion store to see what Archos is hawking, etc.. 

So, what made this particular vendor of magazines stand out? Yes, my dear readers, the clientele:

In front of me was a woman making her own embarrassing magazine purchase. But her total cost was , well, Satanic. Yes, her register reciept came to the dreaded six dollars and sixty six cents. Yes, hers was clearly the People magazine purchase of the beast. He who will not be named but who is known as the light bringer and the lord of all that is dark decided that day, in denver, was to be where he would plant his seed of evil, in that point of sale machine, that evil, toxic combination of airport ripoff and sales tax that would come to $6.66 cents. That brangelina of doubt of the purity of the One. 

"Oh no.", the woman said,"I can't pay that. Six sixty six. Nuh uh...", she looked at me as if to say "Can you imagine! Six sixty six!". What weapon could she bring to bear against the dark one, the guardian of unholy? How to defeat the Bennifer of the apocalypse? Would she take the road of greed and add a copy of Fortune to her tab? Envy, perhaps, adding a lucky magazine? Would she walk the path of righteousness and simply leave behind satan's package of evil and destruction, no doubt saving countless other innocents that might have to fly with our unlucky hero and then could indulge in a heathly amount of stoic pride? No, that's not what happened.

She opted for gluttony: "Pass me that Godiva bar." 

*ping* *ting* *ting* 

"That will be $8.49 please", said Satan's succubus of magazines and chocolate.

Our warrior for the holy ghost, the trinity and the spirt paid, left the store, with 400 more calories to engage in the fight against the devil. We are truly saved. And what, pray tell, did our benighted servant of Satan, lord of lies,  say to me, who stood mute while this transaction between good and evil, dark and light, southurn home and dwell occurred?

"Just those two magazines, sir?"

"Yes, just these.", I replied.

Temptress of knowledge, begone! I emerged, soul likely intact, from the hudson news , to make my way east across the heartland.