his is a tale of four boarding passes.

We were recently subjected to a roundtrip flight within North America on a single airline that involved a connection in both directions.

So the cast of characters consists of one airline, four segments and four boarding passes, each of which met a different fate.

On the first segment from origin to hub, we gave the boarding pass to the gate agent, who ran it through a scanner, tore it in two and handed us the short end.

At the hub, we handed in our boarding pass for the second segment, and the gate agent looked at it, entered something on a keyboard, and gave it back.

At the door of the aircraft, a flight attendant took the boarding pass, tore it in two and gave us the large portion, keeping the stub.

On the return flight from the destination to the hub, we gave the boarding pass to the gate agent, who tore it in two and gave us the stub.

On the last segment from hub back to point of origin, the gate agent took the boarding pass, entered something on a keyboard and gave the whole thing back.

So, after a trip that was booked entirely on "paperless" e-tickets, we ended up with three stubs (two short and one long) plus one intact boarding pass.

Another of life's little mysteries.

Shock value

San Francisco's flambloyant, fedora-wearing mayor, Willie Brown, has been great for the city's travel industry, but he's often much more popular promoting the city while touring the world than he is at home.

For instance, Brown recently accompanied the city's travel industry and convention and visitors bureau staffers to events in Chicago and Washington, where meeting planners feasted on crab, drank California chardonnay and were, from reports, wildly entertained by a speech from the mayor, who extolled the city's virtues.

What are those virtues?

Well, that's where Brown got into some trouble.

San Francisco is such an open-minded, open-hearted city, he told the crowd in Washington, that "you can do anything you want, even lie, cheat and steal" and you'll be warmly accepted.

Brown didn't count on a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle jotting down notes and the story appearing prominently in the paper back home.

The mayor got some heat for his comments in a city that's very sensitive about it's image and often very critical of the mayor's off-the-cuff remarks.

But John Marks, head of San Francisco's convention and visitors bureau, said Brown remains one of the city's best assets in promoting tourism and business travel.

"We couldn't have a better salesman," he said. "He shocks people and people love it."

Sizzling

We in the travel journalism business know Bill La Macchia Jr. as the chief executive officer of the Minnesota-based Sun Country Airlines.

We did not know he was one of "America's Top 50 Bachelors."

Under a headline, "Sexy, Single, Sizzling," the July 2 issue of People Magazine promises to identify those most eligible bachelors. La Macchia appears on the list along with lots of actors, athletes and other famous people.

070501blamacchia.jpg.From the short article about him, we learned the 35-year-old carries a business card that identifies him as Sun Country's chief lavatory inspector.

He also says he is the "shiest guy in the world" about asking women out on dates, but a cousin says he thinks the junior La Macchia won't marry for awhile because he is trying to do too many things.

The way Insider figures it, he will -- at the very least -- find himself even busier, and he may not have to worry about getting up the courage to ask women out.

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