Flight or Fight

March 20, 2009

Five thoughts about taking a 9 hour non-stop flights from Chicago to Honolulu

1) The bathrooms are worse than a frat house after a rush party.  Sure, they start clean.. but 6 hours into the flight they start getting a little funky. Seven hours into it they start looking like the rest rooms at a major league ball park during the 7th inning stretch,  and by hour 8 they are just disgusting.  Before the plane lands there is urine on the floor, toilet paper in the sink and paper hand towels sprawling into the hallway.  It is not pretty.

2) There are upsides and downsides to being in an exit row.  Upside- you get more leg room.  Downside- so does everyone else who feels the need to walk through your exit row to stretch their legs.  Upside- you don’t have anyone in front of you moving their seat back and forth.  Downside- you still have people behind you moving your seat.  Upside- you are closest to the door in case of an emergency.  Downside- if there is an emergency are you really going to care where the hell you are sitting? 

3) When you are stuck in a confned space with a bunch of strangers for 9 hours you start to form a little community.  You get to know your neighbors (nice at first, annoying after a while).  You offer to share gum and magazines and take a moment to talk about some of the other passengers on the flight.  You think “it could have been better….but it could have been way, way worse”

4) You get more than a little desperate for entertainment.  For example: two hours into the flight they showed a movie staring Keanu Reeves…and everyone watched it. 

5) People deplane faster than Usain Bolt*.  I don’t know if it was the two exit isles or the fact that we had all be on our butts for 9 strait hours but it took about 18 seconds from the moment that little fasten seat-belt sign turned off and dinged until I was breathing fresh Hawaiian air. 

*I am still not tired of the Usain Bolt jokes.  I know I could to better, I just don’t feel like trying all that hard.

I am going to be in Hawaii for the next week but while I am gone I have a great guest post coming!

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This weekend D and I took a brief trip to see his family in Pittsburgh.   Flying can always be sort of touch and go for me but this trip we found ourselves smack in the middle of Spring Break.  If you have never been in an airport during the few weeks known as College Spring Break, I will give you this list of five ways to identify a Spring Breaker*.

1) Spring Breakers skin tone tends to be one of three shades; I have been laying in a tanning booth for weeks on end brown, I have been using some sort of skin tinting cream orange or I just spent a week laying in Cancun forgetting to apply sun block while sipping drinks with umbrellas and sexual innuendo names bright red.  Generally you see the former two on the way to Spring Break and the latter one on the way home.

2) Spring Breakers have a fairly specific uniform.  Female spring breakers run around in velour sweatsuit with words like BeBe, Pink, and University names written in sequins on the butt, tucked into ugg boots or rolled to the calf with flip flops.  Male spring breakers sport overly tight t-shirts made of some sort of stretchy rayon with jeans or cargo shorts and over sized sunglasses safely secured in gelled hair. 

3) Spring Breakers can be heard from across the terminal shouting into their cell phones.  Typical exchanges include (but are not limited too)

“But, BAYbee, of course I am going to miss you.  No, I will call every night.  I prOM-iss”

“No, you can’t be mad. My phone won’t work in (fill in the name of any island or location in Mexico).”

“WHAT?!?! I swear on my life, I will find that mother fuck*r and beat his head in. TELL me.  Don’t hang up.”

4) Spring Breakers have sex on their mind from the moment they take their last mid-term exam.  They will not allow something as mundane as waiting in an airport interfere with opportunities to meet people of the opposite sex or hook up.  They can be spotted passing notes, exchanging numbers and e-mail addresses, trying to switch seats and engaging in general flirtatious banter.

5) Spring Breakers that can not be spotted in uniform or heard on the phone can still be identified by their Spring Break smell.  Nothing says a  weeks worth of partying like the stench of day old tequila and no time to shower before you hop on a plane. 

*This post is full of gross generalizations.  It is meant to be funny.  If gross generalizations are going to offend you or your sensibilities please don’t read it.

T.G.I….M?

March 9, 2009

My weekend, by the numbers…well, by five of the numbers. 

5- the number of states I drove through in under 48 hours

4- the hours I spent at a bridal shower on Long Island*

6- the number of pages in the Bridal Shower Activity Booklet**

42-the number of minutes I waited why a NY State trooper proceeded to write me a ticket

457- the number of words in the formal letter of complaint I wrote in regards to the aggressive, nasty and inappropriate behavior of said trooper.

I never thought I would say this, but I am really happy to be back in the safety of my office with my Gumby mug and harpoons. 

*anyone who has been to a bridal shower on LI knows that they are of an entirely different category than normal tasteful bridal showers. 

**I have a picture of said booklet, but since it includes a photo of the bride and groom I thought it would be rude to post on the Internet.  See, I can be nice(ish).

Yes, I mean you.

December 29, 2008

Dear Drivers around the Delaware Water Gap at apx 4:45 pm yesterday,

Since it is painfully clear you have suffered a case of amnesia and completely forgotten everything you may have learned during drivers ed.  Here are five things you may want to remember the next time you get behind the wheel.

1) When roads have 2 lanes, the left lane is reserved for those who are passing.  The right lane is where you want to drive 10 miles per hour under the speed limit.

2) If people are flying by you in the right lane and using their middle finger to show you something in the sky as they pass, you might want to consider moving over.

3) Since we are on the subject of lanes; you only get to use one of them.  This means you have to make a choice.  Driving in both is unfair, dangerous and a little greedy.

4) Sometimes, accidents happen.  It is unfortunate but true.  When you are passing an accident it is polite to focus on the seemingly impossible task of merging three lanes into two and pay attention.  Stopping dead in your tracks to look a the pretty flashing lights or smoking car is not going to give you a lot of information about the accident.  It will however give you an up-close and personal account of the accident you are about to cause.

5) GET OFF YOUR G-D DAMN CELL PHONE.  You can not talk and drive.  You can not text and drive.  You can not put on your hands free headset and drive and you can not, under any circumstances, use your Iphone to look up directions while going 82 miles per an hour into the Tappan Zee Bridge.

*As a special little side note to the the man driving the white BMW with CT plates…yes you, the one who nearly killed D and I as you swerved into my car going 94.  Listen close little man.  If I ever find you in a dark ally or alone in a parking garage…you’re dead.  I swear on my life…I am going to hurt you.  No, I am not kidding.  At all.

Alaska

October 30, 2008

FIve things about Alaska… most of them are overly obvious.

1) It is far…at least if you live anywhere on the east coast it is far. Like, 15 solid hours from my door to my hotel room with no layover. And trust me, with the flight I had, I I felt every minute of those 15 hours.

2) It is cold. Like really, really cold. Like your eye balls start to freeze and you wonder what will happen if they get stuck that way cold.

3) The cold does not seem to bother anyone who lives there. I brought my best Northface jacket, mittens and wool sweaters and I wore all of them…all the time. I even considered wearing the mittens to bed one night. (I know…thats hot). Some of the locals left the airport in flip flop and SHORTS! Apparently 27 degrees with no light and a strong wind is their balmy fall season.

4) It is take -your-breath-away beautiful. The sun peaks over the mountains late in the morning and the light filters over the valley. In the afternoon the snow kissed peaks glow from the late day sun and whole sky flushes pink and blue. If it was not so freaking cold, I would have spent all my time gazing and the view which don’t imagine ever gets old.

(The taller building of the 2 on the right is was my hotel, the top floor has a resturant that overlooks the inlet and Mt McKinley and is where I enjoyed a delicious 5 course meal watching the sun set. It was amazing)

5) The people are amazingly nice. I grew up in NY so when I think of moving through a city I put my head down, walk strait and fast and become irritated when a cabby blocks an intersection. The city of Anchorage has a completely different tempo. People stroll, and talk and dare to stop and look in a window. While crossing a street I happened to drop a mitten. Not one but TWO cars stopped and honked to point it out to me and by the time I turned to get it a complete stranger had picked it up and changed his direction to give it to me. These are either the nicest people on the planet or they are tired of weak tourists flooding their emergency rooms with frostbitten hands due to dropped mittens.

Five signs you may be in for a really long flight…

1) While sitting in the waiting area you are informed that one of the crew members has become violently ill and they will need to wait for a replacement. He may have the flu, he my have the bubonic plague…they just don’t know.

2) You go to take your seat and find that you are sitting in front of a 2 month old infant and her two year old sister,. There is one poor parent and a lot of snacks which are quickly turning into a pile of crumbs at your feet. The infant immediately starts to cry.

3) Before you can even get into your seat belt the captain comes on and informs everyone that due to an unusually strong headwind the normally easy 5 1/2 hour flight will be more like 6 1/2 hours but not to worry, you will be there before you know it. The infant continues to cry.

4) The man in the seat directly next to you clears his throat every 10 seconds. Literally, every ten seconds. You know it is every ten seconds because you become so infuriated by the mucus dislodging clearing of the throat you begin to count how many times it occurs in a minutes. An average of 6 times. You calculate how many times you will have to hear the mucus rumble and nose snorts oer the course of the next six and one half hours (apx 2340 times). The infant continues to cry.

5) The throat clearing evolves to a constant wheezing cough and asthmatic mucus rumble. He will not stop! You long for the moments when he was just clearing his throat every ten seconds. Your thoughts begin to alternate between homicide, suicide and general concern that the man sitting DIRECTLY next to you has caught the bubonic plague from the fallen crew member. The infant continues to cry.

As I mentioned on Friday, this past weekend D and I went up to VT with some friends to drink some wine, eat some food and spend some time enjoying the fall foliage. It was all quite lovely and serene, and would have been absolutely perfect if not for the following five people*.

1) The self righteous pro-shop girl- yes she was wearing Carhartt pants cuffed to her calf’s with some fancy strappy Keen sandal’s. And yes, she was pretty darn sure this made her better than us, she may have even been right. But really, out right laughing at us when we asked about a local restaurant was slightly unnecessary. I’m sorry, I’m a tourist. I am here spending my money in your town off season to pay your salary so you can buy trendy “I am so un-trendy” clothes and look down on others, I don’t live here. I don’t have the open and close dates of every joint memorized and no, I don’t think I am being a total jack off for asking.

2) The un supervised children- I understand children are people too, and I understand that just because you have children does not mean you are no longer entitled to a vacation but please, please for my sanity….supervise them! On the floor in the middle of a restaurant with people moving trays of hot coffee and not-so-hot eggs is not a great place to sit and play with trucks. It is actually not a great place to sit and play with anything unless you think a third degree burn will look good on your 5 year old.

3) The early risers- I would just love to know what event someone was getting up for at 5 am on a Saturday that required an hour of blow drying. Because, if I find out I am missing really fun formal events before dawn, I am going to be totally bummed. Not bummed enough to get up before 8:00 but still bummed.

4) The bowling team on the floor above us- there is no other possible explanation for the noises coming from the ceiling. None.

5) The food service Staff – Things that are acceptable at a restaurant : slow service, mediocre food. Things that are not acceptable at a restaurant: large pieces of unidentifiable rubber baked into the bread pudding which sort of smelled like garlic. Having the chef identify the foreign rubber like object really does not make it better. No, we don’t want another garlic smelling bread pudding on the house. Thanks though.

* Regardless of the nut jobs around us, we really did have an amazing weekend. The weather was perfect, the foliage was spectacular and the company could not have been better. As Cat Food and Cabernet so eloquently wrote about earlier this week, fall in New England can not be beat.

Gardens, Guns and Grits

October 9, 2008

I just returned from a four day symposium at the Silver Star Convention Center in Choctaw, Mississippi. For anyone who has not been to Mississippi or spent four solid days at a casino there, here are five things you should know.

1) Nothing is ‘non-smoking’. It this had occurred to me before, I would have packed strictly disposable clothes as everything from my shirt to my ballet flats smells like an old astray at a Bingo table. They smoke in the casino and at the cafe, they smoke in the bathroom and in the hotel rooms, through the shops and on the street. They smoke everywhere.

2) Rooms come complete with reading material like “Garden & Gun”. I would have loved to have been in on the R&D when this idea was presented. “Well, ya see, we got magazines about gardens and we got magazines about guns. But what the market is really lacking is a magazine about gardens and guns”. Brilliant.

3) They take their fire alarms very seriously. It strikes me as ironic that in a facility that allows and encourages smoking in every possible venue my hair dryer is what sets off the fire alarm. It does not strike me as ironic that even after I assured security that there was not a fire in my room they could not disengage the fire alarm system. Instead, I waited 25 minutes with the blaring weehh, weehh, in my ear for 2 police men, 1 security rep and 3 firemen to come in my room, look around and confirm I was not engulfed in flames. They did not radio in that the alarm could be disengaged before looking around the room at my wet towels (dropped on the floor for clothes ASAP when I heard the fire brigade at the door), discarded PJ’s and offending blow dryer and judge me. I could feel them judging me. This is in a state that produces a magazine called “Garden & Gun”.

4) The breakfast buffet (the only way to get food before the lunch buffet opens at 11:00) consists of eggs, biscuits, gravy (both brown and white), grits, cheese sauce, chicken fried steak, hash, sausage, ham steak and bacon. It does not include yogurt, cereal, plain toast or fresh fruit. It does, if asked, come with fruit cocktail which may even be edible if you cover it in the cheese sauce or white gravy.

5) In addition to your typical hand soap and hand towels, each of the public restrooms includes a sharps disposable receptacle. I understand that diabetes is rampant in the United States, even more in the middle of the country and even more so among ‘Native’ populations. But, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that perhaps this could be related to the all you can eat beige buffet and the chicken fried steak they serve in lieu of cold cereal and fresh fruit for breakfast.

To keep me honest, and to satisfy all of your Garden & Gun curiosity I have brought back the September/October issue of “Garden & Gun” magazine. It includes fascinating articles about the Lost Condfederados, the Best of the New South and secrets of Charming Atlanta. If you are interested in entering my little contest to win the magazine, just leave a comment and tell me why you want it or what you plan to do with it and it can be yours. It is a fine publication suitable for coffee tables and retails for $4.00 an issue.

Since La Petite Belle has been so patient; here is my list of five things to do in Seattle/ the Pacific Northwest (besides go to the Space needle and Pikes place).

1) Go on a whale watch: I know this sounds like a cliche but it was amazing. The captains of all the whale watching boats communicate with each other via cell phone let everyone know where the pod is. This means that almost every group gets to see actual whales and they are spectacular. There are also some really wonderful rules about how boats behave when they come near the pod. They must go to idle at a certain distance and must shut of all engines and go completely silent when they come within a hundred yeards. This allows everyone to hear the sound of their breath and the crack of the water breaking as they surface and the whales come much closer to the boat. You might even get a picture like this:

To be fair, I did not take that picture. But it is off of the NOAA website from the exact location our boat was, and it is nearly identical to what I saw.

2) Take a trip to the San Juan Islands: The San Juan Islands are clustered in the San Juan Archipelago which includes the gulf islands of British Columbia. They are accessible by the Washington State Ferry Service or can be part of a whale watching tour. You can go hiking or kayaking if you are feeling athletic or wander around the shops and restaurants if you are feeling hungry. There are wonderful little museums and walking tours and it is a beautiful way to see the pacific.

I did not take that picture either.. an airial tour was just not in the budget.

3) Check out the Seattle Art Museum: The SAM includes the main collection at the art museum as well as the Olympic Sculpture Park and the Seattle Asian Art Museum. As aforementioned I did not get to see too much of the sculpture park due to Hempfest, but the collection is beautiful and the lobby has a very cool installation in it.

Yup, those are actual Cars hanging from the ceiling with glowing rods of light protruding from the steel frame. Who says modern art is dull?

4) Visit the Seattle Public Library: I have already admitted I am a sucker for municipal buildings but the Seattle Public Library is not your usual granite and marble kind of space. It was designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and even if it is not your style, it is worth looking at. There are lots of great reading spaces that are prefect for figuring out your days plans or looking at a map and the top floor offers a wonderful view of the city.

5) Eat crab: Eat lots and lots of yummy crab. Eat it steamed and on it’s own or drenched in butter. Eat it in crab cakes or crab sandwiches or crab rolls. Eat it for breakfast with your eggs, for lunch on your salad and as an appetizer for dinner. I have heard that too much dungeness crab can actually make you go loopy, but it sure is delicious.

Yummmy!!!!

After spending nearly all of my weekend in various airports in the northeast, here are the five people I most seriously wanted to have a heart-to-heart with

Mr. Check in Man- When we went to check our bags and get our boarding group B tickets and specifically asked you if the flight was delayed… that would have been the appropriate time to inform us that yes, the flight is running a mere six hours behind schedule. It would have saved us from having to go back to long term parking to get the car to go find something to eat besides soggy salad and greasy chips.

Ms. Cell Phone Lady- While I realize your job as the worst dressed* most important person on the planet is highly vital to your target sales group, stake holders, branch mangers and identified priority unit…. Not one of us in the overcrowded uncomfortable waiting area cares. Ms. I am going to remain calm despite the fact that my 5 year old is having a total melt down, looked like she was going to kill you at least three times. I would not have stopped her.

* Molly– she was wearing white nylons with back strappy sandals… seriously.

Miss. Bathroom Bolter – Why don’t you wash your hands?!?!?! Your plane will wait 25 seconds for you to do a courtesy rub under water. This is a public restroom in an international airport! It is a Mecca for those coming and going and a breeder of foreign germs mixing with local infections. Please, please for all that is healthy and good…. Wash your hands!

Ms. Nose picker- yes, I called you a nose picker. That is because you dug into your nasal cavity twice before handing me my pre-packaged salad and once before giving me my $1.57 in change. I know it was a dollar fifty-seven because I thought… it is not worth the dollar fifty-seven to touch the nose picker change. You should have lunch with Miss Bathroom Bolter.

Little Mr. Melt Down- you are an ok dude in my book. You were calmer than I was for the first four hours of our delay and you did everything in your power to irritate Ms. Cell Phone Lady. I only wish you had thrown something at her so I could give a satisfied you-get-what-you-deserve look.