How to Avoid Huge Hotel Long-Distance Charges

When Lisa and I arrived last night (after about an hour trying to find the resort in the dark, when it was not well signed, and because of the road construction detour), we realized that even though we had two different cell phone carriers (Sprint and T-Mobile), neither of them had any reception because the resort is so remote.

We had to get in touch with our kids to at least get them our hotel room number, and after making three calls we realized the hotel charge was $2.55 per call + toll + 40 percent mark-up.

Until then, I had heard of Skype, but hadn’t had a reason to use it. For those who don’t know, Skype is like Vonage, except it’s free. It lets you call other Skype users for free, using your computer’s built-in microphone and a broadband internet connection. Calling a U.S. cell phone or land line costs 2.1 cents per minute, and until the end of 2006, even that is free.

With mobile phones having free mobile-to-mobile minutes, pay phones are essentially a thing of the past. I bet most people don’t use hotel phones, either. But if you have a broadband connection in a remote place, Skype works great. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even reduce my monthly cell phone minutes if we can talk on the computer for free.

I know I’ve saved at least $15 with Skype since this morning.

Turning Back the Clock

There’s something about being 39 that causes people to take stock and try to reclaim the physical abilities they had in their youth. I was no different. When I was six months from my fortieth, I decided to start running and training to take off the 20 or so pounds that had crept on over the years. My goal was to dunk a basketball again…something I hadn’t done since I was 19 or 20.

Starting slowly (and a month before the New Year’s crunch, when the gym gets a lot more crowded), I gradually increased my training on the elliptical machine (low impact was good) and started a weight training program too. By March I was touching the rim again, and I continued to make progress, but couldn’t make the dunk.

Finally, the big day arrived: May 15, 2003. I had taken the day off from work, and went to the local Y to play in a pick-up game. Having played reasonably well, I thought, “Why not give it a try?” To my utter amazement, being really warmed up and having stretched, I slammed it down.

I quickly called my wife, Lisa, and asked her to get down to the Y with our videocamera, to document this for posterity. I’m no Michael Jordan (although we are the same age), but here’s the proof that I made it.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkF0s4QsAeI]

By the way, immediately after reaching this pinnacle I joined the gang you see in the background in another pick-up game…and within 15 minutes had broken my left index finger (my first fracture!) That took me out of training for several weeks, and it’s been downhill since.

This summer has been a good training time too, although now because of life events it’s been a week since I’ve gone running. Making time for training needs to be a priority.