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 The Brancatelli File

joe SURF CITY,
HERE WE COME


BY JOE BRANCATELLI

July 22, 1999 -- Jan and Dean didn't have the Internet in mind when they recorded "Surf City," the ditty that rocketed to No. 1 in 1963 based partially on a refrain that promised "two girls for every boy." But I've been surfing the Web all summer long with Jan and Dean blaring out of my personal computer's CD player and it's working out pretty well.

I have not found two girls for every boy--and, thank god, 'cause I'm not sure my wife, who happens to be a little young lady from Pasadena, would understand--but I did find a ton of cool sites for business travelers.

So fire up your woody (or your Compaq or your Dell), dig out your digital board (that's a Web browser for those of you having trouble with the metaphor) and shoot the curl with me. So what if it's 36 years later? We're goin'a Surf City, gonna have some fun.

DIGITAL DINERS
Growing up in New York, I ate in steel-sided diners a lot more frequently than I ever got to surf. Then, when I became a business traveler, I went out of my way to find classic diners in every city I visited. It turns out that I'm hardly alone when it comes to loving these relics from the days when business travel meant driving, not flying. Surf over to Roadside Online (http://www.roadsidemagazine.com/) and you'll find an opinionated magazine dedicated to preserving these American icons. The Roadside folks also maintain the American Diner Museum (http://www.dinermuseum.org/) site. And the Diner City (http://www.dinercity.com) site has undertaken the task of cataloging, photographing and describing all of America's remaining establishments.

HEALTHY TRAVEL
Probably because I spend so much time in diners, I worry about my health. That led me to the Olympus Health Care Information Center (http://www.olympus.com/hcic), an impressive collection of more than 100 annotated and organized hyperlinks. And the Medical College of Wisconsin (http://healthlink.mcw.edu/content/topic/travel_medicine) offers a wonderful series of fact sheets on basic travel-medicine situations.

PHONE FOLLIES
Whose pricing policies are more Byzantine and infuriating than the airlines? The long-distance phone companies, of course. But surf over to A Bell Tolls (http://abelltolls.com) and you'll find a great chart that compares the price and features of 60 calling plans. There's also a good list of calling-card providers and their rates. Only a frequent flyer could be that obsessed with phone prices, so it's no surprise to learn that Marc-David Seidel, the traveler behind Airlines of the Web (http://www.flyaow.com/), is also the creator of A Bell Tolls.

OBSESSED TRAVELERS
Speaking of obsessed travelers, Steve Kropla (http://www.kropla.com) remains the Internet's single best source for electrical and telephonic information. If you've ever had laptop-connectivity problems overseas, Kropla has posted the answer. Meanwhile, frequent flyer Doug Dyment has built The Compleat Carry-On Traveler (http://www.oratory.com/travel/), which bills itself as "a compendium of opinions and ideas on the art of travel, with an emphasis on living out of one (carry-on-sized) bag." Jeff Gainer is a computer consultant who has traveled so much that he has developed his own philosophy of business travel. It's very well presented at Road Warrior FAQ (http://www.jeffgainer.com/road_faq.html). And if every business traveler posted his opinions about life on the road, as Bill Cahill does at Bill's Lab (http://www.iserv.net/~cahillwp/), the road would be a much better place for all of us.

COOL TOOLS
CEO Express (http://www.ceoexpress.com) links hundreds of useful sites (media, shopping, financial, technology, business, etc) in a fast, no-nonsense fashion. … First Headlines (http://www.1stheadlines.com) aggregates the reporting of more than 140 news organizations. Enter a search term, and up pops all the relevant newspaper, broadcast or online headlines of the day. Click on the headline and a window opens with the story. … CultureFinder (http://www.culturefinder.com/) does a marvelous job finding upcoming events in 1,300 U.S. cities… Musi-Cal (http://www.musi-cal.com/) blankets the music scene. You can search by venue, by city or by a particular musician. … At Major League Baseball's Web site (http://www.majorleaguebaseball.com/), click on "Live Game Audio" and you can listen to the broadcasts of any game in progress.

This column originally appeared at biztravel.com.

Copyright © 1993-2004 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.