Platinium Elite Flyer morphs to Dirt COMMON NYC Sinterklaas trip

When I retired and left HP after 15 years…

Clarification: The 15 years spanned Digital Equipment Corporation, Compaq Computer and HP. I twice made the mistake of being on the wrong side (i.e. working for the ‘buyee’ instead of the ‘buyer’) of a major merger. Interestingly, HP has now de-merged: separating the PC/Printer group from the business/enterprise group. I’m not sure about general rules for prosperity in a business breakup. But, restarting:

When I retired after 15 years with a variety of merged companies, I wondered if I’d find things to do to fill my time. I needn't have worried. I’m at least as busy. And I don’t miss the weekly trek to the airport. But events this week illuminated something that I
do miss — Platinum Elite Frequent Flyer Status. I made a quick trip to New York City.

“Quick trip?” Nazy asked. “Isn’t New York on the other side of the continent?”

“I mean ‘quick’ in the sense that the time I spent in New York City was a little less than the time I spent on the United Airlines Boeing 757s that brought me there and back.”
camroon fixed

Amazingly, I can’t complain about the actual flights. Both left and arrived on time. The cabin crew was polite and competent. (With the exception of one monumentally slow stewardess who was the size and shape of Cameroon.) But, because I got a great deal on the tickets (the round-trip flight cost less than the gasoline needed to drive from California to New York), United credited me with a measly 495 miles. And, insultingly, they put me in boring, eh, ‘boarding,' group 5 — making use of the overhead compartment impossible.

Upside; Because the overhead compartment was full, United checked my baggage at no cost to me.

As a result I have concluded that Dirt Common
Infrequent Flyer Worthlessness is not pleasant. I also realize that I should not have spread my flights in Europe amongst the three large alliances. Had I concentrated all on one airline, I would have permanent (and real) Elite status somewhere.

New York was decorated for the holiday. more NYC Xmas

My meeting took place at the New York Yacht Club on 44th Street. The building is a heritage site that unusually for New York, permits visitors to stroll outside and breathe real air. It also has a ‘model’ room that contains (surprise!) models of all the yachts that have sailed in the Americas Cup races.

The photo (taken surreptitiously since photography is banned) shows the fireplace and several of the models.

nYC Y model room

The New York meetings went well and I enjoyed an opportunity to see friends and colleagues in person. Skype and iPhones aren’t quite the same thing.

Last weekend, Darius joined Christiane and her family for a Saint Nicholas Day service at the Saint Nicholas Church in Sidon, Lebanon.

Note: St. Nicholas Day corresponds with Sinterklaas Day in The Netherlands. During our first Christmas in The Hague, the children tried to educate me on this Dutch tradition.

“It’s true, Daddy,” Melika said. “Sinter Klaas comes and leaves presents in your wooden shoes on December 5.”

“He leaves presents?”
“Only if you’ve been good,” Melika replied.

“Challenging situation for you, eh?”

“Me, Daddy? What about Darius?”

“I see a problem, Melika.
You don’t have any wooden shoes. So I guess…”

“We can buy some…”

“And, of course, if Sinter Klaas comes on December 5th, I don’t think Santa Claus will come on December 25th. It’s union thing. The Workers Council…”

“Dad! You are soooo wrong.”

“And, to celebrate Sinter Klaas Day, we need poems about every member of the family.”

“Funny poems. It’s part of the tradition.”

“How’s this:

My Dad is bad
He makes me sad
He makes me mad
But if we get presents
Then I’ll be glad.

“Do you know who helps Sinterklaas select presents, Melika?” I asked.

Anyway, in Lebanon, Sidon is a predominately Sunni (Moslem) region. Nevertheless, Saint Nicholas day was well-received in the area. The Moslem leader greeted the Christian worshipers in a very friendly manner. Darius had a wonderful experience.

Reader Alert: The following paragraph is uncharacteristically political.

Lebanon is right next to Syria. Lebanon has 1,000,000 Syrian refugees - 25% of the Lebanese population is composed of Syrian refugees. Lebanon has suffered major bombings and unrest. But Darius and his (soon to be) in-laws were unconcerned about visiting a Christian Cathedral in a predominately Moslem city. Note the contrast here in the United States where a Presidential candidate pumps up hysteria with the aim of turning people in a whimpering, cowering, insecure, hysterical, fearful and unconfident band of nitwits willing to abandon liberty and principle in exchange for phantom safety and security.

End Reader Alert

The local Christmas Party season has begun. We will be attending a friend’s party this weekend and then, next week, Melika and Tom are opening their new home to a big party.

“Wow!” I said. “Does this mean that the construction will be done?”

“We gave them a deadline,” Melika replied.

“Well that’ll certainly do it!” I said. “
They had a deadline to finish before you moved in three months ago,” I thought.

In truth, things are about done and the house looks great! They just have to fill the fountain in the atrium, finish painting the exterior and…

“… clear the trucks that have taken root in the driveway,” Nazy interjected.

It will be a great party.

To see last week's letter, click here

A Martin Family Photo from a few years ago

Martin Family XMAS

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