business news in context, analysis with attitude

Traveling in the Pacific Northwest this week on business, I made a series of deliberate choices in how I get around.

Arriving in Portland, Oregon, instead of renting a car or taking a cab from the airport, I instead took the light rail train into the city, where it deposited me just a couple of blocks from my hotel. Quick, easy and inexpensive. Not to mention environmentally preferable.

Then, when it was time to leave the city, I walked about two blocks from the hotel to catch a ride on Portland’s excellent streetcar system from one end of the city to Union Station. Quick, easy..and in this case, free because I was in the fare-less zone.

At Union Station, I caught the Amtrak train to Seattle. It took about three hours - around the same time it would have taken to drive, and if you factor in time to and from airports, checking and going through security, probably about the same amount of time it would have cost to fly there. And not only was the ride cheap - about $30 - but the views were spectacular, I got a lot of work done, and at the end of the trip was in the middle of Seattle’s downtown.

If I need a car today, I’m going to use Zipcar - the wonderful car sharing service that allows subscribers to have access to environmentally friendly vehicles such as Minis for a by-the-hour rental fee. This system removes the need to rent a car for long periods of time if you are only going to need one for an hour or two, and it works beautifully, in my experience. (If you actually lived in the city, you might not even need to own a car.)

Tonight, when I venture out to Seattle’s airport to fly home on the red-eye, I’m going to use the city’s new light rail system to get there. The nearest stop is about two blocks from my hotel, and the trains look both new and comfortable. The only glitch in the system is that at the moment, the light rail doesn’t go all the way to the airport, and I’ll have to catch a shuttle bus for the last mile...but this will be remedied in a few months when the airport light rail station opens.

This is the way things are supposed to work. Some of it is luck and good fortune on my part, because of where my hotels have been situated and how the timing has worked out, but my sense is that these two wonderful cities in the Pacific Northwest have adopted a smarter, almost European approach to public transportation.

It is yet another reason that Mrs. Content Guy is convinced that at some point, I’m going to venture to Seattle or Portland and simply not come home. I’ll shoot her an email saying that I found a place to live, and if she’d like to join me, she’s welcome.

The new season of “30 Rock” just confirms it. Alec Baldwin is the funniest man on the planet. Maybe the Solar System.

Two excellent wines to suggest to you this week.

The J. Bookwalter Subplot #23 is an intense blend that was perfect, when I had it, with smoked beef brisket sliders at a neat place called bin on the Lake in Kirkland, Washington. (I checked, and it goes for about $20 a bottle, for those keeping score.)

And another blend - the Townshend Cellars Red Table Wine - was perfect when I had it with this amazing smoked chicken tortilla soup at Etta’s in Seattle. (This one goes for about $10 a bottle - a recession steal, in my view.)

Just finished the new Robert B. Parker Spenser novel, “The Professional.” While it isn’t A+ Spenser (like “Early Autumn,” still my favorite in the series), this one certainly gets a B. Not enough fighting and not enough Hawk, but lots of food, Susan Silverman isn't too annoying, and an interesting moral dilemma for our hero to navigate, which is what the books are really about.  Certainly better than average Spenser...IMHO.

Expecting some exciting MNB news next week. Stay tuned.

Have a good weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.

KC's View: