Sunday musings: NORAD tracks Santa, hotel toiletry brands, Boston prepared me for travel


NORAD goes on Santa Alert with a widespread volunteer effort that goes through Christmas Eve. What about the little gifts that hotels leave every time we visit — those mini-bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash? And, can where you live, ready you for travel? A woman from Boston thinks so.

NORAD tracks Santa
This isn’t a small project. This year, a new app will help with tracking Santa and bring NORAD’s systems to smartphones and pads. Click here to get more information and to download the new apps as well as watch videos from around the world and learn more about NORAD’s efforts. They take it seriously. Heck, NORAD Santa Cams in space take video of Santa as he flies ’round the world.

Twenty four hours a day, 365 days a year, NORAD tracks airplanes, missiles, space launches and anything else that flies in or around the North American continent, while also completing some other very important missions. While the tradition of tracking Santa began purely by accident, NORAD continues to track Santa. We’re the only organization that has the technology, the qualifications, and the people to do it. And, we love it! NORAD is honored to be Santa’s official tracker!

More than 1,250 Canadian and American uniformed personnel and DOD civilians volunteer their time on December 24th to answer the thousands of phone calls and emails that flood in from around the world. In addition to the support provided by our corporate contributors to make this program possible, NORAD has two lead project officers who manage the program.

Would you change hotels based on the toiletries they provide?

This may seem like a strange question and a bit silly, but it concerns millions of dollars in shampoo, skin creams, body wash and conditioner. The world of what hotel guests want when it comes to the small freebies on the bathroom sink is no simple matter.

“The days of the hotel-concocted shampoo are gone,” says Brian King, senior vice president in charge of Marriott’s mid-priced brands.

In Marriott’s case, the roll-out of Paul Mitchell toiletries represented a switch from (corrected) Nirvae, a brand invented specifically for the chains.

The move came after Marriott researched bathroom product brands most loved by consumers and discovered that Paul Mitchell — which hadn’t had a hotel toiletry line — ranked No. 1. Marriott then cut an exclusive deal with the company.

“Consumers are really looking for brands that they know and trust,” King says.

Can where you live prepare you for travel? Maybe, if you look at it the right way.

Kate McCulley, who left Boston setting on two years of globe trotting, cleverly claims that the city’s heated sports rivalries, erratic driving habits, local dialects and inclement weather prepared her uniquely for international travel.

What do you think?

In most cities, drivers refuse to follow the rules of the road. In Boston, you’re lucky if drivers follow the rules of physics. Combine that with our fearless jaywalkers and you have a perfect storm for traffic mayhem. But it’s true: If you can drive in Boston, you can drive anywhere.

If there’s any country in the world that requires a Boston driver’s education, it’s Vietnam. Drivers there speed like mad, regularly overtake buses, and lean on their horns more or less nonstop. Pedestrians cross streets by gingerly stepping into the road while drivers swerve around them.

I put my Boston driving skills to the test riding a motorbike down a Vietnamese highway at rush hour, racing the setting sun. It was too much for some of my European companions, who opted to wait out the traffic. Thanks to several years of driving through Kenmore Square on game day, I dodged traffic with aplomb all the while smiling at my fellow motorists.

  • Beth Bowers

    I surely wish Hilton would change their toiletries. I hate their scent and that “Massaging” soap bar is a PIA.

  • Carrie Charney

    Privacy Impact Assessment? Pakistan International Airlines? Some of us are not walking dictionaries of TLAs.

  • MikeABQ

    I bet she meant “PITA” or ” pain in the a** “. I, for one, am not a fan of Paul Mitchell but then Marriott didn’t ask me. The bottles are far too small, and by that I mean skinny. They don’t stand up in the shower, either in the basket or on the ledge. However, kudos for offering shower gel. But give me a bottle my big hand can handle; those small, skinny bottles slip out of my hands and end up on the floor.

  • Carrie Charney

    I’m pretty sure I remember being dumbfounded at an intersection in Somerville, MA, where 7 streets intersected and there was no traffic control of any type.