no place like home…

Another submission as guest columnist for my local newspaper…

No place like home

Location! Location! Location! Not only is it good for resale value, it’s also great when you’re returning home after enjoying dream vacations in Paris, Hawaii or California. Of course, we never set out looking for homes with that in mind, but lucky for us it just worked out that way.

When we left Hawaii in our mid-twenties to seek fame and fortune in the Big Apple, it was always exciting to return to its hustle and bustle after some down time with family back home. The same was true when we moved to Garden City, Long Island and then Redding, Connecticut. Each had its own charm to match what we’d left behind in the islands. It was always easier to reacclimate since on the mainland where we lived, the flora and fauna was equally breathtaking, and the four seasons were an exciting change from Hawaii’s never-ending summer.

Here in Issaquah, we continue to count ourselves fortunate, knowing others would trade places with us in a heartbeat. Dwelling at the foot of the mountains, surrounded by majestic evergreens, wildlife roaming nearby is Mother Nature at her finest. Washington is so different from Hawaii, and yet they share the same attraction for visitors who are sometimes swayed to make these destinations their homes.

Good friends of ours have traveled the world over, sometimes visiting countries off-the-beaten-track. In fact, they’re the only ones we know who have been to Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands, Mongolia, Vietnam and Cuba. Of course, they’ve journeyed to the more popular spots as well…Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East, among others. They’ve even been to a few more than once, like India and Australia. France is a special favorite, as Paris was where they honeymooned more than 50 years ago.

I so admire these friends for their youthful energy and love of adventure. In fact, my husband and I often marvel at their many forays to foreign lands. It’s not unusual for them to do two or three trips abroad annually. God bless them for their get-up-and-go.

Having worked in the travel industry our entire careers, my husband and I lost our get-up-and-go when airport security measures took on a life of their own, and airlines started packing us in like sardines without the benefit of oil for lubrication.

I know for a fact that our world traveling friends love returning home to Issaquah. They’ve been long-time residents and ongoing contributors to the community, having served in public office and continually volunteering.

These days it takes me a bit longer to warm up to flying. Anywhere. However, since that’s the only way I’ll see my daughter in the east and extended family in Hawaii, I’ll take my place right alongside all the other “sardines” and squirm my way to and from.

Like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” I’m always glad to get home after a whirlwind vacation. I’m sure you’ll agree, there is no place comfier. There really is…NO PLACE LIKE HOME.

…wherever home is.

………hugmamma.

 

 

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cruisin’ for a bruisin’…in the not-so-friendly skies

Nowadays, airline passengers are fighting mad at being sandwiched into their seats like rows of sardines.

What can a passenger do, short of punching out an annoying fellow passenger?

My suggestion?

Zone out!!!

“Zoning out” during a 5 hour or more flight isn’t for novices.

I try to sleep…or pretend to sleep. Makes the flight go faster if I’m not awake to count the seconds, minutes, hours.

Helps me assume…rigor mortis! Or an approximation thereof.

I see nothing. I hear nothing. I speak nothing. I’m wholly intent on getting from Point A to Point B.

No fuss. No muss. No stress.

How the airlines are messing with me is not what I want to ponder in these my Golden Years.

I’ve got enough on my plate to consider…bloating, constipation, overweight, hair loss, arthritis, fibromyalgia. Then there are the HIGHS…high cholesterol…and the LOWS…low metabolism, low thyroid and, of course, low libido. And let’s not forget the INs…indigestion, incontinence, insomnia.

Enough. Don’t you think?

Recent news stories about passengers duking it out with fellow passengers and/or flight attendants, foretells of heart attacks waiting to happen or psychos in the making.

As with anything else we choose to buy, like it or not, we know what we’re getting ourselves into. And if not, who’s kidding whom?

Yes, I could spend all my days and nights writing irate letters to Presidents and CEOs of air carriers with whom I might have a beef. I did do just that recently…  https://hugmamma.com/2014/06/08/a-complaint-letter-works-hawaiian-airlines/
Once-in-awhile is okay, but I wouldn’t make it a habit. Life’s getting too short for that cat-and-mouse game.

In older age…I’m more suited to a swan’s life…serene…”with an edge”…tucked securely beneath my feathers. So don’t ruffle them…

…if you know what’s good for you…
………hugmamma.

(Looks like designer A. Yaghoubi might have the right idea with his AIRGO design. Each passenger has his own “bubble.” No need for physical interaction whatsoever. Isn’t that what life is all about these days?)
http://www.gizmag.com/airgo-economy-seat-concept/26339/picturesairgo-airline-seat-design

 

a complaint letter works!…hawaiian airlines

Did not expect to be back writing about Hawaiian Airlines, and my less than satisfactory experience with their inept bureaucracy. However I’m here to tell you that it pays to let those in authority know when you’re…tired of being pushed around like some invisible non-entity!

After hearing from a senior counselor in the airline’s consumer affairs department who told me that my case was closed, I decided that the President and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines, Mark Dunkerley, to whom I’d addressed my complaint letter could care less that I’d been led down a merry path by his company’s front-line representatives. Then and there I resolved not to fly Hawaiian Airlines in the future.

Lo and behold, you can imagine my surprise when I received a letter from Avi Mannis, the Vice President of Marketing. He apologized for the delay in addressing my complaint letter sent some 20+ days earlier.

I am writing in response to your letter of May 2nd, addressed to Mark Dunkerley. I apologize for the time it has taken me to respond personally.

I was distressed to read of the difficulties you had in processing a fare adjustment. The communication from our representatives to you was frankly unacceptable, and inconsistent with the standards of service to which we hold ourselves. This is a matter that I take seriously, and–as in all cases in which we fail to meet the expectations of our customers–we are undertaking an investigation to understand how we can improve.

Mr. Mannis went on to explain in “plain English” what none of Hawaiian Airlines’ personnel could do during the several phone calls and emails that transpired between them and me. 

I’ll try to state our policy on fare adjustments post-purchase in plain English: If you buy a ticket from us directly, and the price subsequently goes down, we’ll issue you a travel credit (applicable to future travel) in the amount of the fare difference less a $40 service fee. The lower price has to be available on the same flights/travel dates that you purchased when you call for the adjustment.

Perhaps if I’d been speaking with local employees who were invested in Hawaiian Airlines, rather than out-sourced hired help in the Philippines, communication might have been better. Instead, it was as though the folks with whom I dealt could only speak what they’d memorized. Unfortunately, they couldn’t even get that right, in light of what Mr. Mannis was able to adequately convey in just a couple of sentences.

In concluding the matter, Mr. Mannis offered my family eTravel Credit towards future travel. I’m not certain the $300+ will convince my husband to book Hawaiian Airlines again, especially since the credit must be used for travel within the next year.

It’s not often we up and fly to Hawaii. Every few years is more our speed. It’s more than likely we’ll go back to booking whichever airline is offering the most attractive rates when we decide to make another trip home to our native islands.

Making a case to resolve what I deem as unfair treatment is something I will undertake without hesitation. There’s a thread of integrity that runs through my moral fibre which I’m unable to ignore when it begins niggling away at my conscience. Blame it on the Catholic nuns who hammered it into my psyche from day one of my schooling. Anyone who received an education from those women in black garb knows of what I speak. You don’t know brainwashing until you’ve dealt with a formidable female disciplinarian of God’s elite staff. 

When I take the time to voice my complaint, however, I make certain I have all my facts and figures at the ready.  I’m not one for blasting away without first lining up my ammunition. Chalk it up to my years as a paralegal for the now defunct Trans World Airlines.

I list dates, name names, and offer proof of conversations. Emails are God-sent, in that respect. I literally blow my unsuspecting adversary out-of-the water with facts. What the recipient of my complaint letter does with it is totally out of my hands at that point.

Voicing my dissatisfaction is what I can do as one individual. I’m not equipped to take on the world, let alone a corporation. 

Once I decide to take on Goliath however, I set about learning who it’s head is…the President and CEO. Once I even copied in the head honcho of the parent company. In this amazing age of GOOGLE, finding corporate information is easy-breezy.

In the not too distant past, I had to finagle the information from a receptionist by asking to whom I could send a commendation letter. Little did she know I was intent upon blasting the company for trying to inflate an original price quoted for delivering a piece of furniture some 3,000 miles, traveling from east coast to west coast. Yes, I ended up paying the original $261. Nowhere near the $900 the local representative wanted to deliver the piece to my home.

Other battles include a bank that tried to increase the interest rate on our mortgage application because the appraiser failed to turn in his paperwork with due diligence. The bank president’s executive secretary intercepted my call to her boss, and made sure we got the rate initially promised. I guess sobbing my frustration helped, although I had no intention of breaking down. Who does?

Rather than bury your stress deep within, put it out there in the form of a complaint letter. You’ll feel better…no matter the end results. And if it gets you concrete resolution, consider it the…

…icing on the cupcake!!!

………hugmamma.Nashville 09-2010 00023

 

 

hawaiian airlines…resolved???

In my previous post, Hawaiian Airlines bureaucracy, irksome…to say the least, I told of my recent dealings with several representatives of the airline as I tried to ascertain if my family was eligible for a reduction in airfare for reservations we’d booked prior to receiving an email touting a better rate.

Long story short, we could only apply if we cancelled our prior booking for which we’d have to pay a penalty, or watch for another email and call in again to see if we could get the better rate.

I can see you’re grimacing as I did, and others to whom I related this story. Duh??? Would you mind running that past me again?

Unfortunately, it’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but…

Feeling I’d hit a bureaucratic, brick wall, I did what any red-blooded American housewife would do under the circumstances…I wrote a six-page letter to the President and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines, Mr. Mark B. Dunkerley detailing my experience from start to finish, including the various emails sent me by the six or so employees with whom I’d been in contact. I copied the three executive vice presidents and sent the letters priority mail to ensure that they didn’t travel by way of the South Pole. I jest, of course. Although I did want them to receive my correspondence sooner, rather than later…or never.

I realized Mr. Dunkerley might never read the letter. Most likely his executive assistant would redirect it to whomever she felt should handle the matter. It’s probably rare that a company’s top man bothers with such matters, although my husband informed me that his company’s President/CEO always reads mail addressed to him. This doesn’t surprise me since I know the man, and he’s one-in-a-million. I’ve not yet met another high-ranking executive who is as concerned about people as he is.

My husband felt certain I’d hear back from a director…at least. But no. My concerns weren’t even warranted that level of handling. Instead I was referred back to the senior counselor in Consumer Affairs from whom I’d received the last email advising me to look for another email offering a lower rate.

The woman told me my letter to Mr. Dunkerley had been referred to her for handling. Talk about bypassing all the levels between the head honcho and a clerk. It’d be like free falling from the top of the World Trade Center to the ground floor.

Closing the lid on my case once and for all, I was informed that in our upcoming trip to Hawaii our family would be allowed one piece of checked luggage for free. Well, I guess that’s something.

Funny thing is, an apology for what I’d experienced in the way of poor customer service would have sufficed. Acknowledging that my family’s business, present and future, meant a great deal to Hawaiian Airlines would have gone a long way in securing our patronage. We would have applauded their efforts on setting the record straight to right a perceived wrong.

Upon reflection, our family agrees that the airline industry as a whole is totally immersed in the “bottom line.” Passengers are simply a means to that end. Management is too busy dreaming up ways to take our last dollar, while the lowest employees on the totem pole are charged with making sure we remain parted from our money.

So as I said to Mr. Dunkerley in closing…“Customer satisfaction is a relic of the past, it seems. As is passenger loyalty.”

…we all do…what we have to do…corporations and individuals, alike…

…sad, but true…

…hugmamma.

hawaiian airlines bureaucracy…irksome, to say the least

Forgive the rant, but tangling with airline bureaucracy is never a “walk in the park.” It’s more like treading water in the middle of the ocean…with no land in sight.

So why get involved with a dragon that breathes fire, while rearing its massive, unwieldy head? Or in this case…Methusala with her many heads, all of which do not converse with one another?

Well, I’ll tell you.

IMG_4514Our family is planning a visit to Hawaii to see relatives and enjoy some time together in the sun, sand, and blue waters. Normally my husband books the cheapest flights he can find. To the islands, it’s more than likely we’ll fly with Alaska Airlines. This time, however, I insisted we fly on Hawaiian Airlines, the unofficially crowned carrier of the islands where my husband and I were born.

Call it nostalgia. Call it hokey. But from what I recollect, the flight attendants pour on the famed Aloha Spirit the minute you step through the aircraft door. And it doesn’t stop until you touch down on a Hawaiian island runway.

At least that’s my expectation.

Unfortunately from what I’ve already experienced on the administrative end…methinks I smell a rotten on-board experience in the offing as well. Or at the very least, little sign of the so-called Aloha Spirit.

What started this rant? A seemingly innocuous email from Hawaiian Airlines.

Almost immediately after our flight was booked, I got an email touting a “Dream Fare” from Seattle to Honolulu for $538, round trip. Almost $200 cheaper than what we’d paid, I took the advice of a niece to call and see if we might take advantage of the lower rate.

Unbeknownst to me, when I called Reservations, I was actually dialing an offshore call center in the Philippines. I wondered as I spoke with the woman whose heavy accent was, at times, difficult to understand. I had to ask her to repeat herself several times.

After explaining my situation, she put me on hold while she went in search of an answer…a couple of times. When she returned the second time, she indicated that she’d be transferring me to another department for what I thought was a price adjustment.

I got Greg in Web Support, which I’ve since learned is also in the Philippines.

Repeating the reason for my call, Greg told me that the only way I could take advantage of the lower fare was to cancel my previous reservations for which I would pay a penalty.

Duh??? What brainiac at Hawaiian Airlines thought I was going to go through the hassle…to pay…to save? 

Having agreed to a survey beforehand, I blasted away with both barrels firing.

Evidently the Marketing Department dreamed up the “Dream Fare” email, ASSUMING the recipient would know not to call if he or she had already booked a flight. No, there was no mention of this in the email. With Hawaii being the destination and the fare being that low, who wouldn’t want to take advantage of the bargain?

As I told both offshore reps for Hawaiian Airlines, had the email specified that the offer did not apply to previously booked reservations I would have deleted it. End of story.

When I asked to speak with a supervisor, Greg directed me to the airline’s Consumer Advocate’s office. “Wow!” I thought.  “Hawaiian Airlines actually goes through the trouble of installing on-site advocacy for passengers?” Well, don’t expect too much. It’s more than likely also in the Philippines. And if it is in fact in Hawaii, it’s a last resort effort to be heard.

As of yet, I still hadn’t spoken with anyone from Hawaiian Airlines itself. It’s cheaper for them to have foreigners front the operation. Not something other corporations aren’t guilty of as well. More money in their pockets if labor costs originate in poorer countries whose folks are willing to work for pittance.

But the Aloha Spirit airlines skimping on…the ALOHA? OMG! What’s this world coming to?

At first I decided to end the charade and not call the consumer advocate. A glutton for punishment, I decided to take Hawaiian Airlines up on its offer to have someone take up my cause…before I took the matter into my own, very capable hands and went directly to the top of the pyramid.

I provided Hannah, the consumer advocate, with a thorough rundown of my conversations. She filled out a form for submission, agreeing that the email misled in its omission that booked passengers need not inquire. Hannah explained that I should receive feedback within 30 business days. I decided I would probably not hear back, but that I did what I could at this peripheral level of Hawaiian Airlines.

Almost immediately, I received an email from Nel/GBA of Web Support asking that I provide her with the fare I was seeking to re-book. I forwarded her the email I’d received to which came an instant email reply that no one was tending the site. Frustrated, I called the consumer advocate back for help. Wouldn’t you know it? I couldn’t speak to Hannah again because Olive was unable to transfer my call.

Okay. So I repeated my entire story to Olive. Of course I huffed and puffed my way through, explaining that this was only adding more fuel to the fire. Explaining that I had to attach the original Dream Fare email to my reply responding to the email I had just received, rather than forwarding it separately, was like telling a very old dog to do a trick he’d only ever done once before. Now, how did that trick go? Instead, Olive sent an email to Web Support on my behalf. Meanwhile, I simultaneously sent a reply telling Nel/GBA of Web Support indicating what the lower fare was.

The final outcome of this several act Hawaiian Airlines farce is that the following email was sent that has seemingly ratcheted up the ante.

…call Web Support at 1-866-586-9419…

We can actually do some price adjustment on your reservation, though when we tried repricing it, we were not able to get the same fare anymore, as it is possible that the fares advertised is already sold out.

We hope you can call us as soon as you can so we can see about possibly doing some price adjustments after assessment. We are open 24/7 so you can call at your convenience.

Feel free to contact us or reply back if you have any more inquiries. Web Support is open 24/7 to take in your web-related concerns.

Mahalo,

Nel/GBA
Hawaiian Airlines Web Support

I called early this morning and had to repeat my entire story for the fifth time to Jervis. Evidently Nel/GBA sends emails, but doesn’t do phone calls. Very matter-of-factly, Jervis told me that the lower fare was no longer available for my flight. Probably the allotted number of seats for $538 had been filled.

Jervis, Olive, Hannah, Greg, and the first rep I spoke with all apologized for any inconvenience caused me by Hawaiian Airlines.

Rather than doing another annoying, pre-programmed, so-called “short” survey at the end of my call with Jervis, I told him I’d be blogging about the long, bumpy road I’ve traveled in less than 24 hours with Hawaiian Airlines.

It all started with an email that came hot-on-the-heels of booking our reservations. Makes me think Hawaiian Airlines’ Marketing didn’t check beforehand to see that we already booked and, therefore, couldn’t claim the Dream Fare being advertised. Were they trying to play…GOTCHA? Or is it that they’re just dumb?

Check out our latest low fares to Hawaii and book your next flight on Hawaiian Airlines today! Enjoy complimentary meals served at appropriate mealtimes and our authentic Hawaiian hospitality as soon as you step on board.***
 Booking Period: Apr 29 – May 5, 2014
Travel Period: Jun 13 – Aug 11, 2014

My thoughts are that as well-intentioned as their consumer advocacy program might be, it is merely a fancy spin on an old ploy of…”dodging the bullet.” A lot of fancy footwork here, even rivaling that made famous by boxing notable Muhammad Ali, in his prime. Jervis indicated I’d hear from Nel/GBA. I think not. She’s probably some phantom embodiment for Hawaiian Airlines Web Support.

So our family will head for the distant shores of our ancestors enjoying whatever Aloha Spirit we find en route. With what I’ve experienced of them thus far, I’m no longer expecting Hawaiian Airlines to provide anything more in the way of on board service than I would find on Alaska Airlines or Delta Airlines, for that matter. And from now on, I’ll remember that age-old saying…

…if it sounds too good to be true…it probably is!

………hugmamma.IMG_4544

 

 

weekly photo challenge: grand

Hubby and I were very fortunate to cruise the British Isles a couple of years ago on the Grande Dame of vessels…the Queen Mary 2. Getting lost was always a definite possibility.

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…but discovering all the nooks and crannies…was well worth the adventure…

………hugmamma.

shrinking seats…

I’ve criss-crossed the country numerous times in recent years to visit my daughter who was dancing in the southeast. Those who commute between coasts for their jobs probably feel as I do…airline travel sucks!

airport security wands

Hoisting carry-on luggage onto and off of airport security belts, as well as into and out of airplane overhead bins in record time, is enough to throw anyone’s body out of whack. Make that a six decades old body already twitching with arthritis and fibromyalgia…and you’ve got the beginnings of one grouchy passenger. However being raised a long-suffering Catholic, I’m primed to absorb as much pain as the false gods of travel can dish out.

Whether or not age is to blame, or my brain goes into overdrive knowing my access to bathroom facilities is severely restricted once on the plane…I find I have to go to the restroom several times before I board the aircraft. It seems I have to squeeze every last drop of liquid from my body in order to stave off any possibility of neurotic behavior once on board.

On one flight when I heard what I thought was the signal allowing passengers to move about, I jumped out of my seat and raced down the aisle toward the forward bathroom. While the flight attendant didn’t stop me, she sternly notified me that the sound I heard was for passengers to keep their seat belts fastened.

Airplane Electronics Sign

Oops! Well, when ya gotta go…your brain’s only got one thing on its mind…ya gotta go!

Many plane rides later, I’ve figured out what I can drink and what I can’t.

I can’t drink caffeine. It messes with my digestion. I can’t take regular sips from my water bottle. That’ll get me bouncing in and out of my chair running to the bathroom for the duration.

Cranberry juice. That’s what I can drink and still maintain my equilibrium. Isn’t it suppose to help with urinary tract infections? Maybe that connection calms my mind into thinking “This is good for  urinary issues. So go ahead, have a glass or two.” Which I do.

Knock on wood…I’ve been fine. But who knows? Older age might make spaghetti of that solution. I’ll have to figure this out…one plane ride at a time.

Having just returned from visiting with my daughter in Houston, I was reminded of my disdain for the whole, unsavory stew that air travel has become. As if a festering wound required more salt, today’s Wall Street Journal ran an article entitled “The Incredible Shrinking Seat.” 

Airplane seats.

Airplane seats. (Photo credit: La Shola y EL Gringo?)

Comparing an airline coach seat these days with seats in other venues, the article highlights the fact that airlines really do expect us to morph into sardines when we fly.

A Boeing 777 First Class seat measures 21″ across…a Regal Cinema non-premium auditorium seat measures 25″ across…a Texas Eagle Superliner train coach seat measures 20.5″ across and the Barclay’s Center upper/lower bowl stadium seat measures 19″ across. By comparison the Boeing 777 10-seat economy coach seat measures a paltry 17″ across.

I’m 19 inches wide, shoulder to shoulder. Sucking in 2 inches is probably not a major issue for me since I’m a smallish woman at 5’2″. Maintaining a shriveled up version of my normal self, however, is a trick.Gumby and Monkey

One learns to become silly putty, literally.

I stretch my limbs into whatever shape is required as I’m jostled by air turbulence…flight attendants and their food and beverage carts…and, of course, my seat buddies. And every so often I just have to move, or else I’ll go…stir crazy!!!

Strapped into uncomfortable seats for 5 hours is not my idea of a good time. It’s become the norm that I now deplane with considerably more aches than when I awoke the morning of my flight.

As I waited to board my return trip to Seattle I overheard a woman say that this was her last flight. Once she returned to the comfort of her home, she was never flying again. It sounded like something I could commit to…if it weren’t for my nomadic child. 

I will play the role of long-suffering Catholic…pee 5 times before I get on the plane…lose 2 inches off my 19 inch wide frame…play silly putty…drink cranberry juice…and refrain from an overwhelming desire to start an in-flight revolution…so long as my daughter lives an airplane ride away. 

…just don’t expect me to like it!…

………hugmamma.

what’s wrong with…this picture?

Did you see the one where the guys in a boat headed straight into the tornado’s water spout…with boyish glee? And when interviewed, the boat owner said…he’d do it again, given the chance?

Did you see the congressmen who, when interviewed, swore they’d shut down the government…rather than allow millions of Americans the opportunity to sign up for health care insurance tomorrow?

Did you see the video in which a black SUV is chased down by a pack of motorcyclists who travel the road as if…they own it?

As we all know, there are two sides to every story. Whatever the arguments, certain facts are indisputable.

Had the boat overturned going through the water spout, the coast guard would’ve been called into action to rescue those numb skulls. And who would have footed the bill…us, the taxpayers, of course!

If the government shuts down, thousands of middle class folks will be furloughed, military families will cease to be paid, and the health care law will go into effect. So what will those idiot Tea Party reps have gained? Why…attention on the world stage, of course…at no cost to themselves since their salaries remain intact, regardless.

The pack mentality screams out…”One for all and all for one!” So when a gang of motorcyclists takes over the highway, surrounding a car on all sides and traveling as though they’re “rubbernecking,” what’s a car driver to do? Get out and walk?

Some days it’s difficult to believe what I’m seeing…

…ever have one of those days?,,,

The Gadsden flag

 

………hugmamma. 

fundraising…with the rich and famous

Hubby called mid-day yesterday asking if I’d like to accompany him to a fundraiser. His company was one of the corporate donors, and he was asked to attend on the company’s behalf. Normally I prefer to settle in for the evening, especially when I’ve had a busy week running around doing whatever it is I do as a housewife. But since we’d not had a date night within the last month or so, I thought…”What the heck! Just go for it.” And so I did.

Of course it took some primping…and wriggling in and out of outfits…before I passed the visual test. I looked in the mirror…gave myself the once over…and decided that was as good as I was going to get. Hubby, on the other hand, always tells me I look…”beautiful!” I don’t always agree…but hey!…I’ll take it.

I had a chance to visit the Museum of Flight a...

Funny thing is my husband referred to the fundraiser as an “event.” After I hung up the phone, I said to myself “Event? What kind of event?” The only clue I had was that it was being held at the Museum of Flight. I’d been there on a couple of other occasions for cancer fundraisers. So I imagined we’d be attending something similar. Although my husband did say this wasn’t the same “event.”

Initially I thought I’d just dress up a pair of nice jeans with a tank and a knee-length jacket made of glittery threads. I imagined the crowd would be young and hip. After all, it was the Museum of Flight…not Benaroya Hall where the Seattle Symphony plays…or McCaw Hall where the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the opera perform.

As it turned out it’s a good thing I decided on a safer, more traditional floor length, brown, sleeveless jersey dress with matching lace jacket.

When we pulled up in front of the museum, we were greeted by young men hired to park cars. Waiting to greet us were young women in gowns with fur capes. A tent set up over the entrance was lit with chandeliers. The cement floor was covered in a red, outdoor carpet. And before ascending the stairs to the tent where we had to register our credit cards and pick up our bidding packets, we were greeted by a ritzy, black, L-107 2013 Lincoln MKZ Luxury Sedan…one of the items up for bid.

English: 737 body in the Museum of Flight, Sea...

I couldn’t help thinking…”This is going to be a mighty interesting evening.”

As it turned out the event was to raise funds for the museum and the educational opportunities it affords younger generations of pilots, aeronautical engineers, scientists, astronauts and the like. We were treated to a video of just such a young hopeful who today, at 24, is involved in retrieving photographs from outer space and deciphering what exactly it is they are viewing. She was on hand, as were several young pupils who hoped to follow in the doctor’s footsteps. Yes, Laura is now addressed as “Doctor.” 

It was evident from the high bidding that took place as the evening unfolded, that Mr. and Mrs. William Boeing of the Boeing Company, had brought along their monied friends.

Cropped screenshot of Marilyn Monroe from the ...

One of them was wearing a dress once belonging to Marilyn Monroe. Try as I might to get a glimpse of the woman who’d obviously succeeded in bidding for the famed celebrity’s clothing, I left without knowing for certain. If it had been the white one Monroe wore in The Seven Year Itch, it would have been easy. My guess is it was the satin, white dress with large, black flowers that the star wore in her last film. The one in which she would’ve starred opposite Dean Martin. And the one Monroe more famously left in the middle of filming to fly to New York City’s Madison Square Garden to sing “Happy birthday…dear Mr. President. Happy birthday to you.” That was none other than…President Kennedy. Due to Monroe’s erratic behavior, the movie was finally completed with Doris Day and James Garner in the starring roles.

Last night’s “star,” the Lincoln sedan, donated by Ford’s CEO, Alan Mulally, as a personal favor to Mr. Boeing, ultimately sold for $45,000. It was valued at $49,500. Other big ticket items up for auction were…dinner for 8 hosted by Boeing Commercial Airlines President and CEO Ray Conner, and Alaska Airline‘s Chairman Bill Ayer…first class airfare on Alaska Airlines with hotel and reserved tickets to the 2014 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in NYC…lunch with the Boeings at their home followed by a “once-in-a-lifetime ride” on Miss Wahoo, their hydroplane…first-class air for 4 on Alaska Airlines to and from the Four Seasons Hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii…Delta business class tickets and 3-night vacation at a Tuscan villa for two couples…and “Kentucky Derby experience for four with private jet air travel to Louisville” as guests of Bernt Bodal, Museum trustee and President and CEO of American Seafoods.

English: The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) begi...

One of the more interesting items which sold in excess of its $13,000 value was “to take the reins of the Hubble telescope and explore the universe…As Space Ambassador, you will receive the following:

  • An invitation for two to the exclusive finished spacecraft unveiling event, where YOU will be a guest of honor.
  • Your name etched into the actual historic spacecraft before it blasts into orbit!
  • At the event, you will mingle with the rockstar team at Planetary Resources that previously landed NASA’s Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity on Mars.

Finally, once the spacecraft is in orbit, you will:

  • Receive a special pass to use the ARKYD’s Space Photobooth for THREE special personal occasions on demand. (get your selfie in space!)
  • Have the opportunity to propose a name for an asteroid discovered by the ARKYD.
  • Help educate the community by donating a school and classroom of your choice the chance to be among the first to control this starship through their very own educational program customized just for them. You will be their Space Ambassador as you help them encounter their INNER ASTRONAUT and explore the wonders of the universe with the ARKYD starship.

Launch estimated for 2015. Donated by Planetary Resources, Inc.

The evening’s piece de resistance, however, was funding the Museum of Flight’s educational programs. The goal was $300,000. Two couples donated $100,000 each, one of them included…the woman walking around in Marilyn Monroe’s dress. Others raised their paddles at $75,000…$50,000…on down to $500. Obviously there were more raised paddles at the bottom rung.

That’s where we normally jump in…at the $500 level. However early on in the bidding, hubby and I decided this fundraiser was not something we were moved to join. While we agreed with its mission, we’re more inclined to donate towards cancer research or some other social issue. It was obvious that The Museum of Flight had a plethora of wealthy donors who could probably give to various charities. We, on the other hand, are middle-class donors who must be selective since we’re not able to…burn through money like the big rollers.

These patrons of flight gave a whopping $450,000 toward the museum’s educational mission alone, surpassing their goal by $150,000. I would imagine the evening’s grand total probably approached $1,000,000. Not bad for one night’s work.

As I anticipated, the evening was fascinating for so many reasons…the money donated, the people, the food, our dinner companions and, of course, the flight memorabilia that surrounded us on all sides…some even floating overhead.

I heartily suggest that when you visit Seattle…you can skip the fundraiser, but…

…the museum of flight…is a must-see!!!…

………hugmamma. 

Seattle Museum Flight Mar05 48

 

be prepared…

Remember that Girl Scout mottoBe Prepared!

9-11 is just around the bend.

9/11 WTC Photo

I was reminded of that by my daughter who watched a TV documentary detailing the horrific event which changed America…and our lives forever.

On another channel I’ve been watching an old war movie. Or rather I’ve been listening to it, since I can never sit still for too long…too much to do. As I putter, parallel thoughts of both films begin formulating in my mind…and a post begins to percolate.

No matter our differences…housewife, flight attendant, soldier, white collar or blue collar employee, toddler or senior, uncle or cousin, bachelor, student, doctor…death is inescapable.

Neither the soldiers who enlisted for WWII or the flight crews working the downed flights knew the exact date and time of their deaths, until they were embroiled in the ultimate battle for their lives.

The same can be said for victims imperiled by cancer, heart condition, MS, Alzheimer’s, or any other life-threatening disease. 

Accidents also claim their fair share of human lives…as does death by natural causes.

Mankind, accustomed to being in control, cannot outsmart death. Birth and death go hand-in-hand. The process of dying begins…the day we are born.

What we don’t know is…our expiration date.

9/11 Memorial - South Pool

 What we can do is…prepare for death.

“Prepare for death?” you ask. Yes. It’s possible. At least it’s worth a try. 

We should get as close as we can to our organic selves. Strip away the “pesticides” which preserve our artificiality. Savor the natural “flavors” of our humanity. Own our spirituality. Grow healthfully from the inside out. Bask in the sunshine of being one with all.

The value and validity of one life is incorporated into the value and validity of all lives.

Love thy neighbor as thyself…and commit thyself to being one with thy neighbor.

WWII and 9-11 confirmed that with death…we are all one…and the same.

…there are no differences…

………hugmamma.

free to be…one man’s dream

English: Carnival Place, Carnival Corporation ...

English: Carnival Place, Carnival Corporation and Carnival Cruise Line headquarters in Doral, Florida. Photographed by user Coolcaesar on January 20, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My husband works for a major player in the travel industry, Carnival. Under its corporate umbrella are not only Carnival Cruises, but also Cunard, Holland America, Princess, Seabourn, Costa, as well as others with which I’m not as familiar.

For several days, and nights, my husband has been preparing, along with others in management, to receive Carnival’s new CEO. 

I know nothing about the man except that he is…black.

Dr. Martin Luther King must be smiling down upon us from his heavenly perch. “Look at how far America has come”…he must be thinking…

…look at how far we have come…

………hugmamma.

Français : Le carnival fantasy

the art of complaining…

Blogger friend Marcia Clarke posted the following on her blog…Marcia Clarke-La Chica Writes at http://www.chicawrites.com 

Having worked at TWA for several years, and in retailing and health insurance before that, I’ve become a stickler for great customer service. I’ve handled more complaints than I can recall AND done my fair share of complaining too. Never have I encountered the use of, or thought to use, reverse psychology, i.e….lavishing compliments that literally drip with sarcasm.

English: Don Mueang Airport domestic terminal,...

I tip my hat to writer Arthur Hicks…complainer par excellence!!! And to Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic fame, for bringing this to our attention. And, of course, to Marcia for having re-blogged it.

Having once received what many regard as the world’s best complaint letter, I was tickled to see another brilliant note to a different airline.I phoned the customer who wrote the above note to apologise and thank him for his letter after he experienced a less than perfect culinary experience on board one of our planes. It is important to take customer feedback on board in order to improve – and also to be able to laugh at yourself.

With that in mind, here is an open letter to Caribbean airline LIAT, written by Arthur Hicks, who also happens to be a great tennis pro.

Dear LIAT, 

May I say how considerate it is of you to enable your passengers such an in-depth and thorough tour of the Caribbean. 

Most other airlines I have travelled on would simply wish to take me from point A to B in rather a hurry. I was intrigued that we were allowed to stop at not a lowly one or two but a magnificent six airports yesterday. And who wants to fly on the same airplane the entire time? We got to change and refuel every step of the way!

I particularly enjoyed sampling the security scanners at each and every airport. I find it preposterous that people imagine them all to be the same. And as for being patted down by a variety of islanders, well, I feel as if I’ve been hugged by most of the Caribbean already.

I also found it unique that this was all done on “island time,” because I do like to have time to absorb the atmosphere of the various departure lounges. As for our arrival, well, who wants to have to take a ferry at the end of all that flying anyway? I’m glad the boat was long gone by the time we arrived into Tortola last night — and that all those noisy bars and restaurants were closed.

So thank you, LIAT. I now truly understand why you are “The Caribbean Airline.”

P.S. Keep the bag. I never liked it anyway.

As a colleague said: “I guess this is why LIAT is reputed to stand for Languishing In Airport Terminals!”

But seriously, making customer service key to your company will keep your employees motivated and your customers happy. This in turn ensures enduring loyalty, business success and a better experience for everyone.

By Richard Branson. Founder of Virgin Group

…some folks get it…so many more don’t…

………hugmamma.

Virgin Millionaire Richard Branson doing a qui...

weekly photo challenge: movement

On a cruise of the British Isles last Fall, the Queen Mary II was hailed with majestic fireworks while anchored in Liverpool. Lucky us, we had a ringside seat.  There’s nothing like the movement of explosive sparks of fire as they hang suspended…disappearing from sight shortly thereafter. 

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…movement…electrifying and ear-shattering…

………hugmamma.   🙂