Did I really do that?


I left my laptop at the X-ray screening area. I cannot believe I did that. I was so busy counting the number of TSA people, and contrasting that number to the number of actual travelers, and scheming on how I'm going to manage to take a picture of this madness, that I walked away from the security area with my bag and my backpack and my shoes, no laptop.

I managed to take the picture, shove everything into my backpack, put my backpack on my back, and tie my shoes before I realized my backpack was light and, holy crap, my laptop isn't in it!

I rushed back to the X-ray screening station, going in through the DO NOT ENTER exit, looking daggers at the woman who briefly thought about intercepting me, and dashed to the screening station. Oh, thank goodness, my laptop, complete with its little green star, was still sitting there on the counter, waiting for me to rescue it, possibly also looking daggers back at me for leaving it.

So, yeah, what is it with all the TSA people here? I mean, do we really need at 2:1 ratio of agents to travelers.

Space, people


Okay, people, I know my personal space is larger than most people's people space. I know this. I've accepted this. I've even tried hard not to let your invasion of my personal space interfere with whatever enjoyment or serenity I may have achieved in the location where, amongst all of you, I happen to be.

But, let's face it, even if it weren't so large, even if I overcame this BIG PERSONAL SPACE ISSUE, it would still be GREATER THAN ZERO.

I cannot believe the number of people who have queued up next to me today, and stood there actually touching me or my bags. I'm completely unsure when I left the United States and ended up where ever I am with zero personal space, but I really want to go home now.

An inauspicious beginning to this trip, to be sure.

What have you done?


Airport adventures are always fun. I get to meet many interesting people with strong opinions, people willing to tell everyone in earshot exactly what those opinions are. I have the opportunity to listen to the joyful wails of a small person screaming for his mother two rows in front of me. I experience the pleasure of sitting on half of my purchased seat because the person next to me decided the armrest was too tight, and lifted it up, enabling him to spill into my seat. Ah, the joys of air travel.

Did I mention that "fun" has many definitions?

I thought so.

Tonight at the airport, I stood in the middle of the A line of a Southwest gate, because moo the tickets are moooooo fully refundable moooo should I need mooo to cancel or change mooo them. Being able to squeeze into moooo the cattle car of an airplane is not mooo lost on mooooo me either.

As I stood in the middle of the A herd, I heard some guy two or three people back begin talking about Blackwater and outsourcing of the Iraqi war. Most of the details he told very loudly to a woman he apparently met in line in front of him were details anyone could get from reading the front page of Slashdot or, if you're more saavy, the New York Times. Most of the details ("four times the amount per person for Blackwater by outsourcing than to our own army!") were related verbatim from the statistics I had casually read some time in the last few weeks.

As with all defensive tactics the mind uses without thought, unconsciously I tuned out the man's words and rants, and focused on other items more interesting to me. Bits and pieced of the conversation would pierce my consciousness, but not much. He was little more than an annoying fly buzzing around when you're concentrating hard on something else.

The line began moving. Eventually, I handed over my boarding pass and walked down the jetway, stopping 15 feet from the entrance onto the plane, maybe 10 people away. As I stood there, I became aware of the acoustics of the jetway. The words behind me became amplified as the man was telling everyone around him how he'd been watching these events for years YEARS and they had gotten out of control. Years he'd be keeping track.

I stood there, listening for the years comments repeat several times. And then I turned.

I waited until he paused to take a breath.

"If you've been paying attention to these events for so long, what have you done to change them?" I asked.

I was tired of this man complaining. I was tired of this man spouting numbers as if they were his numbers. I was tired of this man and his complaining about the world. Complaining without solution. Had he done anything to fix the problems he saw?

He looked at me surprised. "What have I done to change them? Well, not much."

I looked at him a moment longer and turned back around.

He stopped talking.

Kris would be proud


I'm leaving for boston in 45 minutes. Heather will be staying at our house for the weekend, up from Santa Barbara (she loves us, just can't stay away), possibly watching the dogs, maybe not. Andy said he may take them to his house and keep them, so heather may be off the hook. Maybe I should have asked he to water the gardens... eh.

My flight is at 7:00 am. What in heaven's name possessed me in my moment of ticket buying, I'll probably never know, but flight earlier than 10:00 am just do not work well for me.

Especially from SFO.

I figured for a 7:00 am flight, I'd want to be at the airport at 6:00 am, meaning I'd have to leave long term parking at 5:30 am, meaning I'd have to arrive at long term parking at 5:20 am, meaning I'd have to leave the house before 4:45 am, meaning I'd have to be awake by 4:30 am. Assuming I showered and packed and planned well the night before.

Planning well always means staying up until 1:30 am. I fell asleep around 1:30 am, and woke up at 4:30 am, actually made it out of bed at 4:35 am and was out of the house by 4:46 am. And there's where my planning fell apart.

My drive took about thirty minutes. Long term parking was easy to find and well signed, complete with a guy in a golf cart telling me where I could find a parking space on the second level. The shuttle was waiting at the bottom of the parking structure, so from parking to terminal was less than fifteen minutes. Checking in my bag and security took less than half an hour.

So, rather than arriving at the gate at 6:30 to walk straight onto the plane, sit down and pass out, I'm here in the terminal waiting, and hour and fifteen minutes early. Kris would be so proud of my early arrival time.

Me? I'm just tired.

Worst flight ever


Well, maybe not the worst flight ever (qualified with a "that I've ever been on," of course), because that flight happened like eight years ago. That worst flight was a Southwest flight from San Jose to Burbank where the turbulence was so bad the flight attendants were puking, and we had to land in Ontario because there was a dog on the runway in Burbank, back when you could travel with hockey sticks in the cabin, as I was doing. Today's flight, however, one ranks up there with the sucky suck flights I've taken.

When I boarded the plan, after spending half of my 10 minute layover dashing to the next gate (the other half seizing an opportunity), my seat was occupied by the person who should be in the middle seat. Rather than getting up and moving to his seat when I hovered over the row, fishing for my boarding pass to confirm that yes, I was in the aisle row, he sat there staring up at me.

Perhaps he was thinking if he ignored me long enough, I would go away. Or sit in the middle seat for him. Or maybe sit on his lap.

That he didn't move, but started talking louder on his cell phone, should have clued me in that this was going to be a bad flight.

After finally finding the right paper for this flight, and conifming, yes, I had the aisle seat, the glorious I-can-go-pee-any-time-I-need-to-go-pee seat, the guy finally moved to the middle seat.


Instead of sitting in his seat, he sat in his seat and part of my seat. He hadn't dropped the arm rest between us, which meant if he sat casually, he could occupy both his seat and about six inches of my seat. That would be one quarter of my seat.

I haven't been that skinny enough to sit tandem in a seat since high school. I mean, what the heck? I looked over to the seat next to him, the window seat, and realized that part of the reason middle-seat guy was in my seat was because the man in the window seat was spilling over into the middle.

Great. Just great.

So, I had to wonder. How aggressive should I be about this whole seat thing? Should I be passive-aggressive about my space? This middle-seat guy was sitting like he had balls the size of bowling balls: legs spread wide, his feet practically in the aisle. This whole, societally-imposed concept of "don't cause waves" I think grossly contributes to women being unable to deal with conflct in a constructive way.

Middle-seat guy also spread out with his arms, taking up, I later noticed, not only the entire arm rest on my side, which I dropped fairly quickly since I really, really, really wanted my personal space (which is normally 24" around me, not 24 mm) back. He was also taking up the enire armrest on the other side. I'm sure he was thinking during his attempt to be the most annoying person ever, "Curse you for getting the coveted aisle seat, I'm goint to annoy you the whole flight anyway."

I'm sure he didn't realize before the flight that, you know what, my legs bounce the entire flight. Flights make me nervous and I have a lot of sugar to burn. I assure you, quite unconsciously annoy you more than you annoy me. Which might has contributed to his becoming more annoying, though.

So, this annoying flight didn't have the annoying screaming baby that the last flight had. I was reading various magazines on the first flight so I didn't notice the screaming baby two flights in front of me until I ran out of words. When I did run out of words, the cacophany of screams hit me full force. I couldn't help but start singing the "Nobody cares!" song that Mark and Megan taught me to sing to Mirabelle when she's screaming uncontrollably for no reason you can tell or fix. "Momma doesn't care. Poppa doesn't care. Kitt doesn't care."

I just wish the mother had employed Mark's startle technique of screaming, "Baby! Shut Up!" to the screaming kid. Works like a charm.

Ah, well.

At least that flight had some ultimate players on it. I suspect they weren't too happy with sitting next to me: I sat there with a huge grin on my face the whole flight. Hey. I'm a National Champion.

Back to the most annoying flight ever, which continued in the bathrooms.

In both of the bathrooms on the plane, the back ones, which are the ones I find most convenient, someone, perhaps two someones, thought it was okay to pee on the floor. The smell of the realization of what the liquid on the floor was made me also realize that, yes, my sense of smell that I lost then partially regained in the sense it works wtih only crap, also works with urine.


In one of the bathrooms, the "lavoratory", why can't we figure out just what this little room with toliets are supposed to be called, anyway? It's a little poop room. That's the best term for it. In one of the poop rooms, the floor was all sticky. So, great, someone pissed on the floor, and someone else came along and spilled their drink on the the floor. After I washed my hands, I had to wash my shoes, too, and then wash my hands again. Oh, joy, oh, joy.

Did I mention the second screaming baby?

So, there's take-up-space-guy, sticky bathroom floors, and screaming toddler torture. Wow, this flight sucks.

After the flight landed, and people were choosing to wash their hair and dry it because that would be quicker than actually getting off the plane at the pace they were moving, the window guy said in a loud voice, "I think they should just get rid of the overhead bins. If you can't fit it under the seat, you can't bring it on the plane."

It took ever fiber in my being to resist my retort: "Well, I think there should be a 180 pound weight limit: I can bring on up to 180 pounds of crap including myself. If you weigh more, you need to buy another ticket. You know, like for that second seat you went ahead and occupied during this flight anyway."