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Find The Boots

Rantings from a few corporate types about life, technology, travel, guns, politics, and everything good in the world.

Hotel "Shop" Foolery...

Friday, June 30, 2006

Just got an interesting email from "Mr. G." who was on a bidness trip to Kansas City.

His watch got stolen in his checked bag and...

Wait, side note(s):

1> Checked bag? Travelling with Liz Taylor?

2> Checked watch? What, too big for his a girlie wrist?

3> TSA? Transportation Stealing Agency? You may ask if I was comfy with them "checking out" my FN on a recent trip to shoot hogs in TX.

Back to doggle discussion. Anyway. He bought a new replacement watch in the hotel gift shop, and, aware that his company would not approve the reimbusement, charged the giftshop purchase as "dinner."

Find the boots, Mr. Bean Counter!


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Pay website...

No, not that kind of pay web site, it's a travel website, Joe Sent Me, that charges "$0.14/day" (which would probably make it $49.95/year were I to bother to do the math.

Hey, is that a good reason to buy the really nice HP biz school calculator I've always wanted?

Probably not, and the same goes for a pay website. What in the world is he selling that you can't get somewhere else? Assuming you even want it. I mean, sample headline: Where Business Travel and B&B Meet.

Anyone use this site?


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Safe data on the road....

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Ok, thanks to Gizmodo today we have a new easily expensible toy that is eminently justifiable.

What's it cost? Who cares - no boss in the world is going to quibble over safe data. And it's darn cool.

What's that? It could be used to hold your in-flight movies too? That never occured to me....


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Moving the horses....

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ok, from a very very very anonymous reader (our policy: we never keep emails around!) who recently relocated from TN to Silicon Valley.

He got the predictable perks: paid closing costs, paid realtors fees (!!), an interest free loan from the company to help cover the housing difference ($600K), etc, etc.

The big question was what to do with the daughter's and wife's horses. Too old, really to travel in the family horse trailer all that way (it was summer), and out of band from a policy point of view to pay someone to haul 'em.

So he sold the horses in TN (really, Fetlock went to a farm in the country, yeah, that's the ticket) and bought new (nicer) ones in CA. He then expenses $14K or so under "misc" with an explanation that it was an "Equine equalization expense."

God, I love that.


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Murphy's inflated expenses....

Interesting article (fictional, but true, if you follow) about an audit uncovering executive expense account abuses via a stoolie.

Just so you can see where you are in your creative receipts....

I think the point of the article is well taken though: there is a big difference between surfing the edge of the expense policy (three martini's and a bowl of soup), disagreeing with what is permissable (find the boots!), and actual larceny.

Larceny bad, boots good. There you go, a moral dilemma solved.


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NYT: Tools Can Catch Expense-Account Padders (and Make Filing Easier)

Here's the article, I'll wait while you read it.

Tum te tum de dum.

Money quote proving that these guys simply do not understand the business expense acccount warrior:
The employee who buys a big flat-screen TV, supposedly to hold conferences in his home. Or a manager who tries to lay off the costs of his daughter's wedding by inviting business clients to the marriage. We've seen all that — and more.

I think we know that's all out of bounds. Besides, that dang TV would be like the Tell Tale Heart, while the memory of a chili crab dinner in Singapore with, perhaps, one too many bottles of not-quite-cold-enough beer will be lovely forever.

My other favorite quote:
The padding can get positively exotic if the traveler takes advantage of foreign currencies on, say, a trip through Southeast Asia and submits pumped-up chits for cash purchases in unreadable Thai or Cambodian script. That can happen if an employer does not prohibit reimbursement for cash expenditures and approves only credit card purchases (converted to dollars at the interbank rate that day).

Now, two things here:

1> Thanks for telling everyone who didn't already know that your expense department can't read Thai. (Note: be careful with expense receipts from India. Not that this has ever been a problem for me!)

2> And once again proof that people who manage expenses don't travel. If you're in the freaking boonies of the Punjab you darn well better have plenty of cash.

Final thought: love these kind of systems (when they work) because they actually make doing expenses easier. And they'll never find the boots that way!


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Review: Extended Stay Warrioring....

Hey, given the ability to really make hay with the expense account on long trips we all love the idea. But not the 'living in a hotel part.'

Road Warrior Tips aims to make that easier. It's got a fair amount of content (6+ months) and a fair bit of information that was new to me - and I've been travelling for 20 years AND have spent quite a number of exented stays at lovely locations like New Haven.

Speaking of extended stays, my personal preference is the per-diem. Back in the day when you could have a nice drunken expense account dinner at Applebees (I was much younger, be nice) for $30, our per-diem was $35. Which sounds horrible, but we were always staying at a place like Residence Inn with a mini-kitchen.

And out accounting people didn't realize that with a kitchen you could eat steak every night for that amount of money. I figured, on one 2 month trip, that I pocketed $250 at least. Hey, that paid for a week of lift tickets up in Vermont.

Anyway, I think I was saying that Road Warrior Tips is a useful site. Check it out.


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Review: In Flight HQ

I found the blos, In Flight HQ, yesterday and have spent a fair bit of time perusing it. Took me a bit of time to figure out what's what since it *looks* like a corporate tool type blog (sponsored by Conexxion) but contains some actually, you know, useful information.

I've popped it into my RSS feeds as it's not very old and doesn't have much content, but it had a few useful tips in it.


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Flying and shoe-horned into seats.....

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Very interesting "freshman" post at Consumerist today about getting shafted with the middle seat.

As we expense account warriors know the only solution is:

1> Get that VP promotion and fly first;

2> Concentrate your flying on one airline and get status;

3> Printout your confirmation of a good seat made seven months ago when you learned that Aunt Maude and Uncle Claude were celebrating their 50th. Then make a fuss when your bulkhead aisle seat is the middle seat in back between the potty and the engine.

Best of all worlds: fly business class on BA. :-0


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New travelers blogs...

According to something called "The Bloggers Blog" there are more business travel blogs coming.

Glad to hear it.

Just remember - we are all about travelling and your expense account. Coming soon - actual helpful stuff.


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Ultra portable laptops....

Ok, so I am both lazy and a wimp - I travel with an ultraportable computer, a Toshiba R200 - but there are some drawbacks. To watch a movie on the plane I have to plan ahead and rip it to the hard drive.

For long long flights I have to carry an external portable hard drive WD Passport - which is just another thing to leave in the seatback pocket. (After too many Crown and Diet Sierra Mists)

You know anything more annoying than buying a bunch of movies, ripping them, and then losing the hard drive at the start of a two week trip? Ok, well, paying for the replacement yourself (HA!) would be up there, but I think you know what I mean.

Other downsides: a seemingly increased repair record (backpanel, etc, etc) and an annoying play in the screen hinges. Otherwise I love a 3 or 4 lb laptop with 5 or 6 hours of battery time.


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IP Phone on the road...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Ok, so unlike 99% of the people in this world I regard Skype as a very interesting virus. (Hey, I hate Harty Potter books too) so I've been pretty slack about doing VOIP to get home.

It's not like my company cares what my cell phone bill is or anything, but my last trip to Blighty ran up a $800 cell phone bill in just a few days. And it was mostly a shite (as they say) connection.

So when I saw this VOIP/Vonage on a stick thing at gizmodo I thought: cool, something neat to buy.

Note: A friend has Vonage Adaptor and loves it. Not right for travel.

Here's a cool wifi phone from Vonage - may get one of these. I can imagine the hassle of signing into T-Mobile using a phone keypad tho. Yes, yes, I know it works with re-broadcast routers, but that's not a 100% solution, is it?

I've also tried the IP chat things for AIM, YIM, etc, etc. They seem to work well, but it's not like my kids are using chat on a computer at that hour.

I already travel with Shure EC5 and find that those plus the microphone on the computer work well. (They rock with MP3 players too.) I should probably get one of those Janet Jackson boom--mike ear thingies but I hate to travel heavy.


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My creed as well....

Friend of mine just sent me a link to High Class Jacka** and his Expense Account Creed. My favorite bit is:

My expense account is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its limit, its strength, its expense reports, how to write off personal items and its plastic sheen as I favor my Corporate AmEx over all others.
Check the whole blog!


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Travel power supply....

Ok, so I am pretty lazy so mostly tend to leave one of my dozen(s) of Toshiba power supplies wherever I am likely to work for any amount of time.

(Sidenote - what the heck are Dell and all the others up to? Toshiba has been using the same format power supply for a zillion years while the other guys flail around with different tips. Jeeze.)

Anyway, when I'm doing short trips I bring a Kensington Portable Power Supply with me with tips for my cell phone, MP3 player, etc. It's teeny weeny and the guys at Kensington are great for shipping new tips quickly. This little Winder gizmotron is pretty cool too -must get one of those!

Little known fact: these things are great surge supressors too.


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Weekend travel blues....

Boy, do I feel stupid - just found out that my company has a "weekend travel" policy that includes a sporting event, movie, etc.

Wonder if I could have gotten scalped NBA final tickets under that?


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Rental Car Gas...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Got a email from a reader with a Find-The-Boots (FTB) tip. Seems his company will not pay for any alcohol. (I'm sure senior management is exempt!)

So he drives his car to the airport empty and when he comes home he fills it. With premium. And expenses the Amex receipt as "Gas, Rental Car."

Beauty FTB.


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Holiday Inn Express - Downtown Cleveland

Saturday, June 24, 2006

My wife just got back from a stay in lovely Cleveland and was at the Holiday Inn Express Downtown and was less than impressed. Apparently it is a recovered bank and "has all the charm of a French government building from the 70's." Ouch.

There was also a minor hall party going on from 11pm to 2am or so. She called the desk several times but they were, of course, useless.

I told her that on the second call I get the manager on the phone and tell them that I'm phoning the police in 20 minutes if the party isn't stopped. So far that has a 100% success rate!


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Reversing Hotel Charges....

Found two miscellaneous hotel charges on my Amex the other day. So I pinged my travel agent and it turns out she'd forgotten to unwind that part of a cancelled business trip.

She was able to get the charges removed easily. I'm guessing that even a citizen could pull that off at a nicer hotel, though the Holiday Inn Express is probably a no-go.


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