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I’ve ranted about the TSA plenty on this blog – I travel a lot and find dealing with the TSA one of the more amusing experiences in my life. So does Patrick Smith of Ask the Pilot – one of my favorite travel blogs. In a recent post headlined Propped up by a culture of fear, TSA has become a bureaucracy with too much power and little accountability. Where will the lunacy stop? he discusses the case of "pilot re-screening" and the "dangerous airline cutlery."
As I was contemplating how to optimally pack my liquids and gels into a single quart sized ziplock bag I came across an article in the NY Times titled Bag Helps Laptop Pass Air Security. Apparently, the TSA has been testing new luggage as a result of an RPF they sent out recently. They won’t certify these bags – rather they’ll encourage manufacturers to adopt a universal logo akin to "this bag is checkpoint friendly."
So here’s what’s going to happen. 50+ luggage / backpack / briefcases are going to appear on the market that say "this bag is checkpoint friendly" on them. They’ll work for a little while. Then 200+ knockoffs will come on the market at 50% lower price points. All of them will say "this bag is checkpoint friendly." Half of them won’t work. It’ll now take even more time to get through security because TSA will have to manually check all of these bags.
I’m sure this will settle itself down quickly into a nice routine, just like the Clear line has in Denver. Oh – wait – the Clear line in Denver no longer really gets me to the front of the line anymore because the TSA decided it shouldn’t.
Are there any airports left in the US that haven’t been completely infected by TSA procedures? I know of a small part of one major airport. Any others out there? Leave a comment, but not before you buy a new bag for your laptop.
My Q2 vacation came quickly on the heels of my Q1 vacation (since I didn’t manage to take my Q1 vacation until April). Amy and I spent a delightful week in Positano, Italy with David and Jil Cohen. This was their big vacation before David goes heads down all summer on TechStars so it was great fun to hang out, relax, and enjoy the magic of some of the best Italy has to offer.
After a week of vacation bliss, we took the train from trash-filled Naples (what a dump) to Milan where we met up with Jeff and Judy Herman for a week on Lake Como. We arrived to a two day monsoon. While Lake Como is beautiful when the sun is out, we all quickly got cabin fever. Amy and I decided to bail and come home a few days early; everyone else decamped to Milan to wander around the city.
Since I had just been on a week off the grid, I stayed connected this trip. I got plenty of downtime yet kept up with everything going on. I did take a vacation from blogging which was nice. Hopefully it will translate into more pith and creativity. I ran a ton, played tennis and swam every day in Positano, so I’m officially feeling ready for my June marathon. I did manage to counterbalance any potential weight loss with the omnipresent gelato.
In response to my Planes, Trains, and Automobiles post, I’ve already gotten several questions along the lines of "how do you deal with our insane air travel system" such as:
How do you keep your sanity traveling to the east coast? I’ve just spent the past 6 weeks traveling to New York from Denver and it’s either: get up at 4am only to waste an entire day traveling or take the red-eye.
For starters, west coast travel is much easier than east coast travel. Denver to SF is about the same amount of effort as Boston to NY (+1 hour each way which means you get up a little earlier.) I regularly get to 8:30am meetings in SF or Palo Alto when leaving from Denver on the 6am flight.
East coast travel is trickier. I’ve found the best solution is to take the later afternoon / early evening flight (4pm – 6pm) out of DIA to LGA. I get to my hotel between midnight and 1am and sleep until 30 minutes before my first meeting.
Now for the magic. I don’t try to work on airplanes. Instead, I sleep. I get settled in as quickly as I can and go lights out until I wake up. Most of the time I’ll make it the entire flight. If the flight is more than three hours, when I wake up I read a book rather than whip out my laptop (unless I’m going cross-country or to Europe, at which point I’ll do some work.)
The extra two hours of sleep makes all the difference (at least to me) on the travel. On west coast travel, I have a 30 minute "transition wakeup" (where am I, who am I, what am I, what is that taste in my mouth?) but once I wake up, brush my teeth, and have a large coffee, I’m good to go. On east coast travel, I get to the hotel, take a shower, and crawl right into bed. Wham – deep sleep.
I didn’t used to be able to sleep like this on planes (and know a lot of people who claim they can’t.) I don’t buy this – I trained myself to do this. When I started this approach I used to sit – wide awake – for two hours doing nothing except relaxing. I quickly got bored of myself and feel asleep. As Amy likes to remind me – most of us are so sleep deprived that it’s actually easy to fall asleep if you let yourself (unless you are truly an insomniac – in which case you might actually fool yourself.)
So – if you see me asleep on a plane, please don’t wake me up to say hi! Just go to sleep.