Thursday, March 29, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
The basic routine is this: get off the plane, follow the designated (and only available) path down some stairs or an escalator, pass a few scary security people, go through a hall and into the "holding pen" to wait in line to get your passport checked while answering a few questions about why a good upstanding citizen might want to leave the country in the first place. Get a piece of paper stamped, move on to the next area to collect your checked bags while being circled by more badge-wearers who now have dogs with them. Take checked bags through another check point where you turn in the your stamped piece of paper and answer some more questions about what you might or might not have done while out from under the protective eye of our government. Get in another line and recheck your bags, before going through a security scanner that looks at you and and your carry-on bags. Get released to go forth and fly. (I think it might be faster to just get a pilot's license and fly myself across the Atlantic, but then I wouldn't be able to sleep for the entire flight).
As we were walking off the plane in Detroit, I realized that both of my shoes were untied. Since long trailing shoelaces aren't all that safe on escalators - and I had to get on one within 15 steps of the plane - I stepped to the side, against a wall, to tie them. Of course, this immediately made me look questionable, as I'm the only person doing something besides walking docilely behind the person in front of me towards the holding pen. My hubby took the opportunity to stand next to me, against the wall, facing the corner to take out his wallet and start re-arranging his different currencies so that the American money was easily reached. So I'm kneeling, and he's buried in the corner. Yes, security noticed. They came over and stood directly in front of me and looked over his shoulder watching as he methodically - and boy, was it methodical - counted out how much cash he had. He never noticed the guard, who gave me an "I've got a highly trained eye on you" glare and then followed us down the escalator at a discrete distance.
So we stood in line and got stamped and questioned and proceeded to pick up our checked luggage. I dropped my carry-on on the floor and told my stepson to watch it while I went up and waited for our suitcases to come around the conveyor belt. About this time, another security guy - this time with one of those killer drug sniffing dogs - headed our way. Killer went directly to my carry-on bag and started sniffing. And circling. And sniffing. And circling. He started to sit (Which, I believe, is the point where they put you and your bag in a tiny room to be searched), but then he apparently got indecisive and circled again. Then he repeated the entire procedure - complete with the almost sitting routine. Knowing that I had nothing in my bag that Killer would be interested in - I'm not a drug runner, and I don't carry raw meat across oceans - I left him to his sniffing and went to collect the baggage. He was taking so long with my bag I was beginning to wonder if a cute little "Miss Killer" had snuck in the side pocket and they were planning a rendezvous. By the time I got back with a suitcase, Killer and his scary looking escort were gone.
Fast-forward to the point where we're re-checking our luggage. The lady casually says "You don't have any liquids in your carry-on bags do you?" And I said "why, yes ma'am, as a matter of fact we have the equivalent of a small duty-free store between our two backpacks." And she proceeds to tell us that we're not allowed to take those on the plane. But we're welcome to open our suitcases and repack everything with the liquid safely stored and out of our carry on bags. So we grab our suitcases, open them up and take out our bags of dirty laundry and proceed to repack right there in the middle of all the TSA agents. Thank God the flashy red silk thongs with black tassels had not gotten bounced to the top of my suitcase, but several people did get a great look at my favorite blue Victoria's Secret bra.
Fast-forward to Saturday - we're home, recovered and unpacked. Best Friend is over for drinks and a recap of the trip, and I give her all the goodies I bought her. One of them - and the best thing I got for her - is a little blue and white flowered tin that opens up to reveal four miniature glass bottles that I got at an open-air antique market for about $5. And I mean these bottles are SMALL - maybe an inch and a half tall. But they're tiny and cute, which are the only things that are required for her to go crazy over something. Add the fact that they hide inside of something that's blue ... well, I really should keep smelling salts on hand.
She pulled out one of the glass bottles - making all the appropriate noises for a gift this cute - and stopped cold.
"Did you look at these bottles?"
"Yeah, they're cute, huh?"
"No! I mean yes, but look - they're all coated on the inside with white powder!"
Silence for a half a second as the alcohol fumes explain to me what this means.
"Oh my god! I bought you someone's old cocaine bottles!
And suddenly, the drug-sniffing dog trying desperately to get enough of a scent to incriminate me made all too much sense.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Anyone read Microserfs by Douglas Coupland? I'd never heard of it, til I ran across it on a blog today. And after reading this, I think I'm going to have to find me a copy.
Susan is 26 and works in Mac Applications. If Susan were a Jeopardy! contestant, her dream board would be:
* 680X0 assembly language
* Early ’80s haircut bands
* “My secret affair with Rob in the Excel Group”
* License plate slogans of America
* Plot lines from The Monkees
* The death of IBM
Susan’s an IBM brat and hates that company with a passion. She credits it with ruining her youth by transferring her family eight times before she graduated from high school - and the punch line is that the company gave her father the boot last year during a wave of restructuring. So nothing too evil can happen to IBM in her eyes.
Susan’s a real coding machine. But her abilities are totally wasted reworking old code for something like the Norwegian Macintosh version of Word 5.8.
Oh - and I'm saying DayQuil, but to be honest, it's the CVS "Non-Drowsy Day-Time Multi-Sympton Cold/Flu Relief". DayQuil is easier to say when you can only feel half of your tongue, though. I wonder if that's due to the phenylephrine?
And if you're wondering if I'm happy about this NEW FORMULA! - that I wasn't even consulted about - the answer is NO!
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
In Which I Have a Mind-Boggling Thought
I'm sitting in a MS Access class, dutifully following instructions while my mind thinks about the fact that I'm leaving in TWO days. I'm compiling lists of important information (which shirts make me look the thinnest) and working through some pretty weighty questions (Can I live without two different types of boots for a week?) and trying to think about what I'll have to leave out of my Carry-on bag (which will be most of my make-up, so London BE WARNED that when I get off the plane I will not be the nasty, homicidal crazed female out for blood and human sacrifice that I may look like). When all of a sudden my mind goes back to the ban on liquids for carry-on bags, and a entirely new implication sets in....
I CAN'T BUY LIQUOR IN THE DUTY FREE STORE AND TAKE IT ON THE PLANE WITH ME.
Those terrorists have a lot to answer for. They have now infringed on my right as an American to go to foreign countries and buy cheap alcohol.
But then I think - surely, this country is so great and wonderful that they've taken into account the fact that there are millions of us who have needs. Needs that include buying large bottles of cheap liquor half-way around the world and then bringing them home to share with
anyone who stops by close friends and family.
So I go to the TSA website - which was on my list of things to study tonight - and now I know. The TSA loves me. Or maybe my husband bribed them to allow liquor temporarily so that he didn't have to deal with 12 hours of traveling with a woman who had been denied her half-price vodka and Bailey's. Or maybe the TSA didn't want to deal with the rest of the country when they came back from travelling empty-handed. It doesn't really matter, because I can do all the duty-free shopping I want.
London, here I come.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
And maybe General Pace can shut his bigoted piehole and the Army can put his sorry old ass out to pasture where it belongs. And while he's chewing on his cud, perhaps he can chew on this, too: The gays and lesbians who are willing to die for this country, in spite of its stubborn insistence on treating them as second-class citizens, are patriots of such profound resolve that denying them their chance to serve honestly and openly is a rather more spectacular moral failing than two boys kissing could ever hope to be.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Monday, March 05, 2007
Today is one of those days when it seems that no amount of caffeine will ever be enough; that my body is expending more energy just sitting in my chair in an intelligent and insightful (yet carefully thoughtful) manner than can be taken internally through my coffee cup; that if I forget myself and blink one time too many, my body will collapse in a pile of lifeless non-energy on the floor, gasping for the last drop of liquid in my travel mug. With my carafe empty, I turned to my Diet Mt Dew a little earlier in the day then usual, and when that was gone, I went for broke and bought a can of Diet Dr. Pepper. It would mean that I’d only have water after lunch, but if I got lucky the 10,268,121,894 milligrams of caffeine I had put in my body would start working at the same time, giving me the buzz and attention span that usually only comes from drugs that aren’t legally sold. Or so I was hoping. Because if OD’ing on caffeine can’t be done, then my life is totally not worth it anymore.
Due to my love affair with Diet Mt Dew that replaced my love of Coke Zero, which came shortly after my long-term relationship with Coke Classic, I’ve never really made room for Dr Pepper in my Caffeine Catalog. And when I did occasionally make room in my program and schedule the Dr, I was buying the cheapo, Wal-Mart, brewed-in-China-so-I’m-going-to-Hell-for-drinking-it brand. Not the REAL thing. (Or was Coke the real thing? I think I’m too young to have to know the answer to that question.)
So today I cracked open my Diet Dr Pepper while I was reading some article about some Field Artillery Battalion (I also have a catalog of articles that could put you to sleep; let me know if you ever have insomnia). I’ll admit, at that moment the thinking part of my brain was screaming for something, anything, please god find me something else to focus on instead of the basics of combat training. And as soon as I took the first sip of Diet Dr Pepper, I was fishing.
When I was about … um… 7? 8? (In other words, too young to have gained any sanity), I thought it was just groovy to get up BEFORE dawn to go fishing with my dad. I’m pretty sure that the only reason this ever seemed like fun was that I knew if I went, then my brother had to stay home. Lord knows I never caught a fish. While I could sit and read for hours on end, fishing required more dedication to one thing than any 8 year old has naturally. I was worse at fishing then I was at computer programming. Which is saying a lot, because I got through at least the first 10 pages of chapter one int that BASIC workbook, but fishing took skill. Skill that I did not have an ounce of. Somehow, my dad managed to not strangle the babbling little girl that threw her line over every tree limb hanging over Lay Lake. I’m sure he burned off a few years of Purgatory keeping his thoughts to himself, and for all I know, that’s the entire reason he took me fishing. It sure wasn’t because I was catching any fish.
We ate lunch on the lake. Sandwiches – exactly the same as the ones I took to school every day – were magically transformed into an entirely new food experience. Because when I went fishing with my dad, we had Dr Pepper for lunch. In our house, soda was not an every-day-of-the-week drink. Soda was for special occasions and the nights my mom fixed pizza (she actually told us that soda went better with pizza then milk – and I have never in my life had milk with pizza to this day).
Luckily, I have gained a little wisdom. I now know that dawn marks the time one should start thinking about getting a little sleep, rather than the time one’s alarm should be going off. I now know that fishing is not, and never will be, something I can do to provide food for my family, and I’ve made my peace with that. And I think the reason that I so rarely drink Dr. Pepper is because I want it to be something that brings back the memories of fishing with my dad every once in a while. Because that is something I don’t think I’ll ever put either one of us through again.
Unless he brings the beer.