usan Dushane, ASTA area director from Southern California and an agent with Travel by Greta in Northridge, Calif., is well-known in industry circles in California and, well, let's say she's not known for her shy and retiring nature.

Dushane, who was part of an ASTA SoCal chapter team that organized the recent Western Regional Conference in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, would be the first to admit she loves the spotlight.

In fact, the conference's traditional Voice of the Membership session turned into a quasi-"Saturday Night Live" skit when Dushane strutted from behind a curtain wearing a little black cocktail dress, high heels and carrying a "Little Brown Bag" from Bloomingdale's.

Imitating Linda Richman, the SNL character made famous by Mike Myers, Dushane adopted a Long Island accent and introduced the ASTA board, peppering the introductions with Richman-like declarations: "Talk amongst yourselves" and "I'm feeling verklempt."

Susan Dushane gives her impression of Mike Myers' SNL character, Linda Richman. Pointing out ASTA area 4 director Ralph Ferrara, who hails from New Jersey, she turned to the audience and said, "Don't you immediately think 'Sopranos'?"

Introducing ASTA president Richard Copland, she noted that Copland is from the "inferior borough of the Bronx." (Dushane's originally from Brooklyn and proud of it).

She said that she was always taught in English class that when a name has a long vowel in it, as does the first syllable of Copland's last name, it should be pronounced "cope land," as the ASTA president does pronounce it.

"But Richard's family was so poor they couldn't afford the 'e'," she said.

There was no word on whether Dushane is going to take her act on the road or reprise the role at ASTA World Travel Congress in Seville, but she's hanging onto the Little Brown Bag just in case.


Insider saw this sign on a door inside Cardiff Castle in Wales: "Warning. No exit. This door is alarmed."

Later, we saw a Cardiff department store that was similarly "alarmed."

That makes Insider wonder how many scared doors are to be found in Wales.

A ducky diversion

Sometimes it's hard to define the right combination of business intangibles that lead to travel industry success.

That's why Insider was looking forward to embarking on the wacky and offbeat world of Boston Duck Tours.

The 7-year-old operator has garnered many tourism and business awards for its amphibious sightseeing itineraries.

Using authentic World War II landing craft, Boston Duck Tours offers 90-minute products that take in the typical downtown attractions as well as the city's waterfront, following a splashdown in the Charles River.

The tours are unique, the guides are entertaining and the operating location is well-suited for such a historical and yet densely packed destination.

Thanks to an Internet small- business course, Insider has become well-versed in the many difficulties that the original start-up had to surmount in order to commence operations.

One of the authentic World War II landing craft used by Boston Duck Tours on its sight-seeing itineraries on the Charles River. In the background is the Museum of Science. In 1994, founder Andy Wilson had to secure numerous city and state permits in order to get his "ducks" swimming.

(Not only does each driver/tour guide hold four separate operating licenses, but each also must be Coast Guard certified as a marine captain.)

The day before the operation opened, Wilson's vehicles were still being modified to meet standards set by the Americans With Disabilities Act.

All of these restrictions, all of these rules made Insider wonder how the operator had developed such a reputation as a fun attraction for visitors.

The answer came while we were out on tour in the middle of the Charles River Basin.

All of a sudden, our captain turned to the crowd and offered to let the children steer.

Of course, the guide kept watchful control as the kids took their turns, but these impromptu sessions turned into a great crowd-pleaser and a wonderful thrill for the younger set.

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