Armen Chakmakjian

Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page


In Random on October 31, 2010 at 3:02 am

Got the proof copy of the book back.  Arrgh!

First off, I noticed something.  Indents were still busted, but they were busted by font.  So if a paragraph was in garamond italicized, indents (AKA the first word of a paragraph indented using a tab) worked great.   If indents were in helvetica, they got truncated to the size of a single character.  Well duh.

Then I discovered that on the cover, in my bio, I had left of an -ing on a word.  So now I’ve got to go through the whole cycle again, but before I touch anything, I want to make sure that createspace gets the tab indents correct.  It looks stupid and unprofessional. Oh one other thing, since I have to upload via a pdf, if a word was split and hyphenated at the end of a line where the first word was supposed to be indented…you don’t want to know how they converted that.

On Monday we’ll see what they say to my note.


In Random on October 24, 2010 at 3:00 am

So I did a final few edits to the print copy of my book that I’m going to use createspace to publish and distribute.  I added a foreword and did some other cleanup of the cover text and whatnot.  Ordered and received a proof copy.  Then I found a single sentence that I just wanted to clean up in the foreword.  Then I looked at the proof again and noticed that some of my paragraph indents were wrong in the actual text of the book…all over the place.  I thought at first that I had screwed something up.  Then I went back to my pdf of the book (which is what I had to upload) and saw that, no, all my indents were correct.  It’s too bad you know, the first proof copy looks correct also (the one from late last year…yeah its been a year long project to clean this thing up for final printing), so I don’t know what got munged up in the translation.   So I have a message into their customer service.  I don’t want another screwed up proof (I do have to pay for them).   We’ll see Monday what they say as they said they attempt to respond in one business day.

The book does look all nice now and hopefully by mid november, I’ll have the e-bookstore working (createspace provides one and I attached it to my book website…right now it says it’s coming soon:-) )  If I don’t get satisfaction…lulu here I come.


A small bit of literary humor…

In humor, Literature on October 17, 2010 at 2:07 am

My younger son and I were both doing homework this evening and he came by to remind me of a conversation that he, my other son and I were having a couple of weeks ago.

First let me setup the background of this short conversation.  A few years ago, the 3 of us were in the Border’s Bookstore in Burlington.  I went straight to the coffee, while the two of them looked up and down the fantasy and fiction aisles.  Then they joined me and I bought them each one of those big cookies and a carton of milk.

As we were talking, I looked around and mused, “All of this will be gone in 15 years.  Look even now, they have to carve off 1/3 of this floor for coffee and gifts. Books will be electronic and websites will replace magazines.”  Both of them were quite upset at this statement.   They talked about holding books and the book covers.  I then reminded them that the artform of the album cover had died with when CD’s came along, so I wasn’t being a pessimist, just observing reality.  They continued to protest at the injustice of it all.

Anyway back to the conversation that he just reminded me about.  Let me script our recollection of that event which took place after the library book sale at Arlington town day this year:

Younger Son: [Holding a small paperback copy of the Iliad with both hands, showing us the cover] I’m so happy about this, look what I found!

Me: Don’t you feel guilty?

Younger Son: Why? What do you mean?

Me: Your got a copy of the Iliad in the form of a book?

Younger Son: Yeah, so?

Me: Well doesn’t that bother you?

Younger Son: No [looks at the book quizzically].  Why would I feel guilty?

Me:  Well by Homer writing that story down, he supplanted the oral tradition and put all kinds of story-tellers and shaman out of business.  3000 years ago of course.  You’re supporting that destruction today by buying the book.

Younger Son: What?????

Me:  I’m just sayin’.

Older Son: Well what the hell is he supposed to do, prop some old guy in the corner and have him tell the story?

[I flash one of my “what do you want me to say?” looks at them and we all laugh]


JetBoo Part Deux!

In Random on October 2, 2010 at 1:41 pm

On Tuesday night I got to Rochester.  I had missed the late afternoon event, but I moved on.  The next day, evening, was the career fair and it turned out to be great.  Went out that evening with the recruiting team to PF Changs and had a great meal.

So the following morning, Thursday, I cleaned myself up, packed and checked out.  Started driving toward the airport and was using my droid as my GPS.  It told me to get off at a particular exit that didn’t make sense in my long distant memory of Rochester and the airport, but I complied.  That was my first mild setback.  The address that I gave it was surely the Airport in Rochester, it just happened to be the back of the airport.  you know, where people who work there go.  So now I was on the back side of the airport and had to drive around it, all the way, to get to the entrance. Nice tour of the airport area, but unnecessary.

Got into the terminal, returned my car and got into what appeared to be a strangely long line at the JetBlue ticket counter.  I once again tried to use the self service kiosk and once again, just like in Boston, I was told by the machine to see a human.  My radar was up.

Now we stood there not moving in line for several minutes.  maybe 15 or 20.  I’m looking at my watch and the same 3 people have clogged the counter for almost that whole time.  Then suddenly a 4th agent shows up and the first 3 customer moved along and we were running.  The ticket agent said “you know that flights are late in JFK today.”  I said “ok, but do I have a seat?”   “Yes, but it will be tight”.  So I checked my overfilled (with goodies from the career fair) carryon.  The agent gave me my boarding pass and hid the connecting flight boarding pass inside that paper folder that they give you and made sure I knew it was there.

Ok I’m on my way.  Radar is up, but so far no problems.  Got to my gate and things started to deteriorate.  Announcements over the PA about delays from the south due to rain and that all connecting flights in NY were running 45min to 1.5 hours late.  Hmmm…At one point the agent at the JetBlue counter was talking to the customers of a flight that was just before mine and said something like, “This is what I know etc etc etc, I just want you to have the same information that I do, there’s nothing you or I can do about it so I appreciate your patience.”  A bunch of older travellers started clapping.  I wasn’t in the mood.

Anyway, my flight was delayed a little, then announced it was a lot, then suddenly to the surprise of the agent, it was there.  They scrambled to empty the plane and they sent us aboard.  The flight itself was pleasant enough.  This mother and baby were next to me, and this kid was really smart of 1.5 years old.

So we sat on the tarmac…and sat…and sat.

At one point the woman in the row in front of us, who was alone, noticed that the mother and baby could use some extra space, so she traded with them.

Finally we took off.  a little late, but ok.  When we finally got to JFK we were really late.  So the announcement came across that they’d appreciate it if passengers who had reached their final destination allow the people with connecting flights deplane first.  So I scooted out. my connecting flight to Boston would have taken off an hour before on a normal day, so if the delays were true, it’d still be there.  I went out went to an information desk and handed my boarding pass from the inside of the paper folder to the agent and said, “where is this flight?”  “gone”  “ok, so how do we get me to Boston?”

“the 2pm is full, the 3 and 4 have been cancelled, the 5 is full…I could put you on standby, but the next flight after that is tomorrow.”

I said, “That’s ridiculous, there’s no other flight?”


“Ok this is just like the trip down.  refund me the next leg and I’ll get a travel agent to fix something”

Then, now get this, she says – “So you want me to cancel your flight to Chicago?”

“What do you mean Chicago?  I want to go to Boston!”

“My records show that you are trying to go to Chicago.”

“Uh no.”

She gets a curious look on her face and then says, “Are you Lee Chattermain”

“No I am Armen Chakmakjian”

Duh. I had never looked at the boarding pass that the guy stuck in the folder in Rochester.  It was made out to some guy named Lee Chattermain, checking him through boston…but Lee Chattermain was already on a flight to Chicago.  She asked me for my boarding pass to JFK from Rochester (which had my correct name on it.)

Now she relooked up my info…and said. “Uhm, you were never checked onto the flight to Boston at all”

My shoulders slumped at this point.  I could have yelled out, but I didn’t.  She spent the rest of our interaction with her eyes completely bugged out and glued to her screen.  Her judgement was obvious.  GUILTY.  She promptly refunded my full fair.  Intuit should appreciate that.  Then I asked, “what should I do about my bag?” She said that I should go to the office near baggage claim and see if they can get it for me, as it was in transit and might not be loaded yet.

At this point I sat down, just to take a deep breath.  I got on the phone with the travel agent and she looked through the list of flights on any carrier.  The weather had overtaken us…she said that there was a flight at 8PM on Delta but it was $500.  I said I’d take it.

So then I went down to the baggage claim and talked to someone there.  She seemed really confused because she was dealing with me and someone else at the same time and calling into the back.  When I finally got her full attention I said, the bag was checked through to Boston, but I’m not going on JetBlue as the flight is already gone. She said, “but are all flights cancelled?”  I said, “no a 2pm looks like it is going”  She looked at the number and said, “this bag is in transit, we can’t pull it out, but it is on its way to Boston, so you just have to go to an office like this there and it will be waiting for you.”

With that I said, “whatever.”  I had to figure out how to get over to the delta terminal.  When I went out I had to get on the airtrain.  I took that over to near the delta terminal and got off.  When I got there (I was supposed to go to terminal 3) a delta employee was blocking the escalator and said, “No one is allowed to go to terminal 3, delta people should go to terminal 2”   I said to myself, WTF.  Anyway, this meant, of course, walking outside and across the road.   Anyway, I got in there and when to the self service kiosk and got my boarding pass.

By this point it was about  3:00.  I went over and had some lunch and talked to my wife on the phone.  Once I had eaten, still being a bit frustrated, I said I remembered that I could use electrical power.

At JFK there are these “Power Stations”  So I hooked myself up and started to check my email and stuff.  My phone needed to be charged too.  Then my phone rings.  an 800 number.  normally I let those go, but this one seemed different.  So I answered and this automated voice tells me “Your Delta flight 6669 has been cancelled.  For you safety your have been rebooked on Delta flight #### Friday at 1:55pm.”  My heart sunk into my left shoe.   That’s when I sent my “Holy Moley” tweet out.  I still blame JetBlue for this, even though now this was delta.  Each step of the way, this trip was made difficult.  Sure it was the weather and now it was delta.  But the reason that I’m even dealing with delta is because of JetBlue, just like on the first trip I had to take USAir!  At this point I said let me see if I can take a train.  Both the remaining Acela trains were completely booked and the standard train, at 7:00pm would arrive in Boston at 12am or something.  Whatever it was, It didn’t seem right.  Then there was fung wah.  I’d have to get over to Canal street at 7PM to get a fung wah bus that wasn’t already booked.  that would arrive at midnight also. My bag, my car…I’m sitting there going this is stupid.

I got off the charging station to let someone else on.  I called home and explained.  While I was talking, I saw people moving the airport furniture around to settle in for the evening.  I said, this is REALLY stupid.  I needed to get out of the airport.  So I went back to the cliqbook site and said

“Cheapest rate within 5 mines of 1000 avenue of the americas”

That’s when it came up with a room at the courtyard near times square for $200.  Hell that wasn’t much more expensive than the room in Rochester!  and at least I’d be able to shower and rest.  So I booked that.  Now I had to figure out how to get there.  Growing up, every flight any family member took was out of JFK.  That meant that I had been there by car (or plane) many many times.  Now I had to figure out how to get to town from there on a train.  I really didn’t want to take a taxi.   Why?  I don’t know, there’s just something about taxi’s.

Anyway, I worked my way back over to the air train looked at the subway map, determined that I needed an A train and about 1 hour later I was in Manhattan.  I found my way to my Hotel and went up to my room and collapsed for a half hour.  I remembered that on my way to the hotel, I saw a duane reed and so I pulled myself together, went to the duane reed, bought some travel tooth care kit and a cheap blade razor.   Then I said, “Damn I’m hungry”  So that’s when I walked one more block and turned right and saw Times Square.  Went over and saw the Planet Hollywood and surmised that I could get a non-descript dinner, a shirt (at this point I needed a clean shirt, really) and got both.  After dinner, I walked around times square for about 15 minutes and then said to myself, “this is not fun, and I’m really tired”  So I went back to my room and slept.

I woke up at about 6 the next morning and that’s when the Acela thing popped into my head again.I got online once I had shaken off the sleep and found that there were two morning trains, one at 8 and the other at 10.  I looked at the clock and concluded that getting to the 8 would be tight, but the 10 should be fine.  I booked it.  I then sent an email to the travel agency to make sure that the delta ticket got cancelled and refunded.  Took a shower and made my way over to Penn Station.

Got on the Acela and saw some famous people going on the Acela in the other direction (toward Washington).  The Acela was nice.  I got back to Boston at 2, hopped on the Silver line.   Terminal A was first but my destination was Terminal C.  I couldn’t wait, of course, as my teeth were floating from the coffee and water I had on the acela, so I hopped off, found relief, and then got back on an airport shuttle to terminal C.  When I went to the baggage claim office, I could see my bag through the window.  Talked to the pleasant person there and took my bag.   Next I had to get a shuttle out to the purple lot to get my car, which I did.  and then I went home.

Between my previous post and this, all I can say is, JetBlue is about as good as Fedex getting your package there, but I’m not sure that I’d recommend them for human travel.