It's been quite a week in Lens land, and I'd like to share some of it with you.
First of all, the Red Sox are 13 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees after 50 games. That's more than a quarter of the season.
You may wish to re-examine Bring Me the Head of Joe Torre.
Although those who know more about baseball than I do still insist that Torre is safe at least until the end of the season, I don't know how long Boss George can keep his gorge down.
A couple of surprises in the past week: Alberto Gonzalez is still the attorney general and the Democrats completely surrendered on the Iraq pullout.
One wonders what it will take to get them to gird their loins and take on the president on this increasingly pathetic conflict.
But, since this is all about me, Len, (hey, Al Franken isn't around to do this joke any more, somebody has to steal it), let me tell you about this week.
If you don't think you are influenced by your surroundings, think again.
I was at a forum sponsored by Acord, an insurance technology and standards group headquartered in Pearl River, N.Y. But since Pearl River isn't a convention haven, Acord splits its annual forums between Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla. This year, it was at the Dolphin hotel at Walt Disney World -- the epitome of the Disney School of Architecture. Here is a 20-plus storey building with 50-foot-high vertical dolphins atop it, to differentiate it from the Swan across the courtyard, which has 50-foot high swans atop it.
So, there I was getting a Len's Lens posting ready when it hit me: I shouldn't file this telling people I'm in Orlando because someone might see it, know where I live and go rob my house. Silly, isn't it-- but when at an insurance convention, one gets that way.
Anyway, one of the reasons I accompanied my wife to this convention, besides getting story material for my freelance writing and editing business, was because William Shatner was the keynote speaker.
I love William Shatner and his ability to reinvent himself, something some of us have had to do in our lives, some more than others.
After his Canadian Shakespearean training and acting, he became James Tiberius Kirk of the starship Enterprise on Star Trek, then a cop named Hooker in T.J. Hooker. He is an author of science fiction novels.
He recently reinvented himself as lawyer Denny Crane for The Practice and its wonderful spinoff, Boston Legal.
His appearance at the convention was pure Denny Crane. Other speakers were overproduced, coming out to loud, driving music, appearing before the audience reading from TelePrompTers. Shatner, dressed in what looked like pajama bottoms and a T-shirt with a silk-type sports jacket., appeared clutching a sheaf of white pages from which he read.
But his talk was all about not taking orders, being willing to go your own way.
Stay tuned to this space for more about Shatner's talk.
But suffice it to say it was really nice being in the lap of luxury. One company, HP, invited my wife and me to be their guests (along with a couple of dozen other people) at a night at EPCOT.
The first stop was the Space ride. I love this thing, which is a simulated journey to Mars. You blast off from Earth, then journey to Mars. I'm not going to tell about the end of the journey -- don't want to ruin it for first-timers-- except to say it is really cool.
Now you may have read that this ride is nothing to fool around with. Believe it. It puts you through some serious changes -- high gravity and buffeting, as well as really cool effects. People have been injured and even died after taking this ride, so there are now two versions, one the original and another that has less G-forces but still is lots of fun.
Of course, I picked the original. Great time -- but only go once. Seriously, if you have heart problems, are claustrophobic at all or have back and neck problems, skip it. Don't even try the newer version.
The evening included a cocktail hour at the Space exhibit, a walk across EPCOT (for those who haven't figured it out, it's Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow) to a wonderful outdoor area for dinner and a first-class seat for the fireworks and Laser show. Thanks, HP. I hereby swear that no money changed hands or favors were promised for this plug.
The last plug will be for Air Tran Airways and the Westchester County Airport.
Again, this is voluntary -- I got no discounts, no promises, just want to tell you all about an alternative to the New York airports and even to Bradley International, although I love Bradley.
Air Tran runs nonstop between White Plains (yes, the airport is in Harrison and Rye but the airlines say White Plains) and Orlando. Not having to change planes is wonderful. It's pretty cheap, too, about $200 round trip flying on a Sunday and a Friday. White Plains is a tight, clean little airport. Unlike New Haven, the planes actually go somewhere besides Philadelphia and the Washington area.
The only problem is the parking. There is little of it and if you find a space, it's more than $21 a day, no matter how long you stay. No long-term discounts. Unlike Bradley and the New York airports, there are no off-site parking lots and no scheduled bus service goes there from Connecticut.
If the parking were better, the airport would really take off.
But that won't happen because the county doesn't want it to.
Westchester County Airport is run by Westchester County. So, it's a victim of the same type of politics that keeps Tweed-New Haven Airport from being all it can be.
People bought houses near the airport, probably for a lot less than homes farther from the airport and then discovered (G*A*S*P) that there are airplanes flying low in the area.
So, they set out to have that low flying, also known as taking off and landing, cut out as much as possible. And like New Haven, idiot politicians listen to this and curtail the airport's operations.
I remember couple of decades ago when I covered the New Haven airport commission, I spent a day with Bruce Lawson, the airport manager at the time.
He told me aircraft as large as the 757 could use Tweed if there were a few more inches depth of material on the runway. The 757 is a pretty big airplane, capable of transcontinental range.
So, like Westchester, the only thing holding Tweed from hosting flights to Florida, Chicago (there was one once) and hubs like Atlanta and St. Louis and even Dallas, was that the pols didn't want it.
You see, they see an airport as one way, people going out. People could also use Tweed as an airport to come into the region for tourism, to stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, see our shows and museums and use this as a base while traveling to places like the casinos and renting cars to travel to various spots in Connecticut because New Haven is central along the coasts.
But this isn't going to happen as long as our politicians don't see past the noise being made by East Shore residents and by the well-meaning but short-sighted folks who say we have better ways to spend our money than on the airport.
After all, you don't get national recognition by welcoming tourists.