Air Travel Lament

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I know you guys must be sick and tired of my making excuses for not blogging by telling you I’ve gone on another trip. But it’s true – I promise!

This time I jaunted off to Kyiv, Ukraine for a few days. Good times. I didn’t have my camera, so I didn’t take any photos, unfortunately, but I can tell you that they did a bang-up job cleaning up from the Maidan riots! The city looks cosmopolitan! Lots of beautiful architecture intermingled with soviet-era building wrecks. There’s no parking enforcement there, so cars are just kind of piled up any which way, blocking traffic and causing problems.

Despite all this, the food is amazing, the people are friendly for the most part, and I felt like I was in the middle of history being made!

We stayed next door to the Saint Sophia cathedral.

sophia

And only a couple of blocks from the Maidan where the protests took place only a few months ago.

maidan

It was a bit surreal, to say the least.

The trip over was marred by yet another strike of Lufthansa workers in Frankfurt. This happened the last time I was in Europe two weeks ago, but luckily did not affect my trip back, because I was on a United flight out of Frankfurt. This time… we were to fly Lufthansa into Frankfurt and then take a connecting flight to Kyiv, but that was not to be.

We were rebooked on a Turkish Airlines flight through Istanbul, which would put us in Kyiv six hours later than originally planned, keep us in the airport for five extra hours, and keep us on a transatlantic flight a bit longer. But you know what? Well worth it, because the Istanbul airport is awesome, and the service on Turkish Airlines is fantastic!

Speaking of airlines…

I’ve traveled quite a bit. I’ve taken Lufthansa, British Airways, Air France, KLM, Turkish Airways, and a whole host of U.S. airlines, and I have to say – as Americans, we ought to be ashamed!

Seriously.

Let me provide a few examples.

Boarding: Why is it all other airlines in the civilized world have figured out that boarding from the rear makes more sense than boarding from the front, where any douchebag with a suitcase big enough to carry a bovine carcass, sitting in row 10, will hold up the entire boarding process by trying to shove said oversized bag into the overhead compartment, causing at least two flight attendants to clog up the aisle helping him shove that thing up there, while the rest of the passengers wait in an endless queue?

Service: On every European airline I’ve traveled, you are kept as comfortable as you can possibly be on a 9-10 hour transatlantic flight. They keep you well hydrated, offering water or other drinks every hour or two. U.S. flights? Not so much. You’ll be lucky if you get some water without asking.

On every European flight, they offer you a hot, moist towel before a meal. You freshen up, you wipe your hands of grime. After all, who wants to see a long line of hundreds of passengers trying to file through the handful of lavatories just to wash their hands before a meal? Smart idea, right? Apparently not so for our American flights. Screw that. It takes extra work!

Turkish Airlines staff come around and give you a little pouch which contains a soft pair of socks – clean ones for you to use on the flight and keep afterward – a toothbrush and a little tube of toothpaste, some lip balm, because dehydration is a problem, and an eye mask, so you can sleep. The seats recline, with the bottom of the seat moving forward slightly for a more comfortable, complete reclining experience. The plane is clean. The video monitors are all equipped with a USB port, so you can actually charge your electronics in flight. And slippers. They give you slippers. You know why? Because your feet get gross in a pair of whatever shoes you’re wearing, and it’s nice to just be without shoes for a few hours while you fly.

No such luxuries on my United fight back home. You’d be lucky to get a clean seat. My monitor was covered in some sticky gunk that was likely there for weeks and had turned black. No way I was touching that shit! No extras. Nothing. You get your little cup of water, tea/coffee – if you ask for it – twice during the flight (not including meals), and some non-functioning headphones (I got those twice).

Food: Oh good lord! I can’t begin to describe the crimes against nature that were the meals on United, especially compared to what I’m accustomed to on other airlines! For example – on Turkish Airlines, you get handed an actual MENU. I had the salmon with horseradish sauce, sliced cheese with tomatoes and cucumbers, meatballs with rice and grilled vegetables, and a dessert, as well as a cup of water that came included with the meal in addition to whatever you wanted to drink when the drink cart came around. Coffee was fresh. Orange juice was actually fresh squeezed. Breakfast was a cheese omelet, fresh bread, coffee, etc. Lufthansa served pasta with tomato sauce and vegetables, as well as a nice, fresh roll, a bottle of water and a dessert. I’ve had shrimp salad, chicken teriyaki, an assortment of cheeses and other human food on European airlines that included actual… you know… silverware!

On this particular United flight back, I selected lasagna. The lasagna noodles were so tough and stale, that the cheap, plastic knife actually bent as I tried to slice into it! The roll – which I think was supposed to be a ciabatta roll – was so stale, that the cheap, plastic knife couldn’t even cut into it. I tore at it with my fork, which wasn’t much more effective at slicing the damn thing in half. Biting into it and chewing, I was grateful I didn’t break a tooth. The salad was nothing but lettuce with a single cucumber slice. The dessert was a recently-defrosted piece of crumb cake. Know how I know it was recently defrosted? Because when I bit into it, I received a not-so-welcome squirt of liquid that denotes something was recently rescued from a freezer. GAH.

I was feeling a bit under the weather, so I asked for some orange juice. Yuck. From concentrate with a bitter-ish aftertaste. At least the hot tea was good!

Booze: Free on any civilized airline.

Q: “How much is a glass of wine?”

A (haughtily): “This is Air France. It’s free.”

Any U.S. carrier.

Q: “How much is a beer with my dinner?”

A: “We only have Budweiser, and it will be $756 and your newborn.”

Listen, I’m not spoiled. I understand air travel isn’t always convenient or comfortable. But I also travel enough to know that we are doing something fundamentally wrong! We pay thousands of dollars to be treated like cattle with no extra effort to make customers even remotely less uncomfortable, while European carriers really go the extra mile.

And by the way, this is in no way an indictment of the flight attendants, who generally do the best with what they have, which isn’t much, and have to put up with a whole lot of crap from unhappy people. I generally try to be extra kind to them and not ask them for much, because I know they’re probably as miserable as the rest of us.

But a little extra from the airline in general would be nice.

I mean, if you’re going to be stuck on a 9-hour flight with a gargantuan guy next to you overflowing into your seat, shouldn’t you at least warrant a bloody face mask so you can sleep?

Breast cancer awareness

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Thank you to Leisha Davison-Yasol for penning an essay that inspired me to finally voice my opinion on this topic.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s near the end of October – a month during which football teams don lurid, pink accoutrements, that generally clash in the tackiest of ways with their uniforms, stores cash in on various pink, breast cancer-supporting memorabilia, women free their ta-tas from the constraints of their brassieres, and Facebook is rife with breast-related gimmicks.

I usually keep quiet during this month. My mommy underwent heinous, disfiguring surgeries to rid her of her breast cancer several years ago, and even though she’s considered “in remission” now, the pain, discomfort, nausea, infections, edema and psychological damage resulting from invasive surgeries and chemo remain.

I don’t like October. It’s not that I don’t appreciate people trying to be supportive, but frankly the crass commercialism, breast-related games, and ham-handed puns and stunts are more than irritating. They’ve become offensive.

For the record, I don’t see how flaunting the fact that you’re not wearing a bra today, or making people guess what color bra you have on to hold up your two healthy breasts is in any way supportive of women – and men, by the way – who have lost theirs.

For the record, I don’t see how forcing the Seattle Seahawks to don bright pink accents, making them look like the awkward spawn of a Smurf and Strawberry Shortcake from a drunken bar hook-up (thanks to my buddy Rick for that visual) helps women with cancer.

For the record, I don’t see how buying coffee mugs made in China, with pink ribbons on them for a few more bucks, so that the store, the coffee cup manufacturer, promoter, etc. make an extra profit, while donating MAYBE 1 percent to breast cancer research – if that – helps the devastation caused by cancer.

I just don’t see it.

I was there, in my mom’s hospital room after the initial surgery was over. I helped her to the bathroom. I talked to her when she woke up from the anesthesia. But when my mom was undergoing chemo and recovering from her surgeries, I was frightened. The kids were frightened. I freaked out to such a degree, that I could barely be in the same room with her at times. I was afraid to infect her with something, because her system was so immuno-compromised. I was afraid to touch her or hug her, because I thought I would hurt something. But most of all, I was reminded, horribly, of her mortality and that reminder of the fact that I could lose my mom, forced me to a distance.

I was wrong, and I eventually got over it. I talked to her, and we visited, and eventually, the horror of the possibility of losing her subsided.

But not once, did I think jumping around without my bra on to show my “support” was a good idea!

And not once, did I consider putting on pink, buying a pink Coach bag, which cost more than my grocery budget for a damn month, while putting extra money in the pockets of the already profitable company, or wearing a stupid ribbon to “support” my mom a good idea.

What supported her was her family.

My dad taking her to doctors, holding her while she got physically sick after chemo, and talking to her when she needed to vent.

Our visits. Seeing the kids.

Phone calls. Conversations. My dad’s extra trips to the grocery store to get her something she craved on that particular day just to see her eat something without getting sick.

Mine being the first face she saw after waking up from anesthesia.

Helping her walk a little at a time, as her bruised and battered body healed.

That’s what supported her. Stupid pink ribbons and pink NFL towels be damned!

I don’t want to disparage those of you who get that little boost from displaying your pink Coach bag or your lapel ribbon as a sign of your solidarity with those who have suffered cancer… well… yeah, I do.

It’s not about ribbons. It’s not about pink ties, shoes, towels and car magnets. And it’s certainly not about jiggling your healthy ta-tas in public while others are no longer able to do so. So just stop it.

I’ve had close friends who have had to deal with cancer at different stages recently – young, vibrant men and women, whose lives are indelibly changed by this disease.

It’s not just breast cancer.

It’s cervical cancer. It’s prostate cancer. It’s endometrial cancer. It’s lung cancer. It’s cancerous brain tumors.

All these heinous diseases deserve your attention and support, and not in the form of ribbons!

Talk to your friends and family. Be there for them. Take their calls at 3am. Visit them in the hospital. Bring them chocolate and movies and bottled water and other goodies. Hug them without being afraid. Be bold and brave, and don’t avoid the conversation. Take your kids to see them, and teach your kids to support their loved ones through your actions, and not through pink accents on an NFL uniform.

And ferfuckssake, PUT AWAY YOUR TITS!

Now it’s the victim’s fault

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Victim was bad. Victim was selling crack to sweet innocent teenagers, forcing the cherubs to beat him to death.

That is the bizarre claim of slimebag Kenan Adams-Kinard, who appeared in court yesterday and claimed that the 88-year old World War II veteran, whom he helped bludgeon to death was selling him crack, and that the transaction turned violent.

Adams-Kinard and Demetruis Glenn, both 16, are accused of attacking Belton when he resisted a robbery attempt in the parking lot outside his Fraternal Order of Eagles lodge last Wednesday night. Both were charged as adults.

There is little I find more repugnant in this world than these two shitbirds, who victimized an elderly man – a man who served his country honorably, a man who was supposed to have a peaceful sunset to his life, a man who ostensibly could not fight back.

Hell, even the defense attorney for the other shitbag doesn’t believe that pus-filled little hemorrhoid and calls the claim ridiculous!

There are no redeeming qualities in this trash. These two heartless animals (and I hesitate to call them this, because animals don’t just murder for the fuck of it) attacked an elderly man, who was ostensibly weaker than they were, was unable to defend himself from their viciousness, and eventually succumbed. He fought back – gallantly and bravely – which is more courage than these two dickdrips could ever show, when they attacked a defenseless elderly man and bludgeoned him with flashlights.

And before Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton come to the rescue of these two sacks of rancid effluvia…

  1. No, it’s not society’s fault that they were black/underprivileged/victimized/*insert stupid excuse here*.
  2. No, being black doesn’t mitigate this vicious crime. See #1.
  3. No, they’re not young men with much potential to whom no one ever offered a chance. They’re foul thugs, and I don’t give a fuck how old they are.
  4. Yes, they deserve to be tried as adults for an intentional, savage, depraved crime, and I don’t give a fuck how old they are.
  5. No, I’m not afraid to call them savages. No, it’s not a racist term. It’s an accurate one.
  6. No, I don’t give a fuck what color they are, but the silence from Jesse and Al is somewhat instructive.
  7. No, they didn’t do it owing to some perceived social injustice. They did it because they’re heartless pieces of monkey shit.
  8. If that sounds racist, I’m tired of giving a shit. Shut the fuck up.
  9. No, I don’t believe they should be charged with a “hate crime,” because: a) there is no such thing – a hate crime is a thought crime, and for those of you who haven’t read Orwell lately, that’s double plus ungood – and b) because they should be charged with a capital crime – their legs should be broken, and they should be tossed into a pen with vicious swine and filmed while they’re eaten slowly and painfully (although, I’m not sure what foul thing swine did to deserve that shit).
  10. No, lawyer scum. They did not fall in with the wrong crowd. They are vomitous, shitslurping thunderfucks who need to be put out of society’s misery.

And that is all.

The Blog Post in which I Insult Everybody Without Using a Single Curse Word

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Just watch me!

If you’re black, Hispanic, Oriental, gay, straight, white, poor, rich, sick, bisexual, omnisexual, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist or agnostic, you’d better not read this post. Heck, if you’re any sort of homo sapien, you might want to stay away, because I will insult, offend or otherwise give you post-traumatic stress for the rest of your life by using words that will scar and shock you!

In 1999, an aide of then-Washington DC Mayor Anthony Williams resigned after some of his coworkers became incensed at his use of the word “niggardly” during a meeting to describe how he would manage a budget. If you didn’t know, “niggardly” means “frugal” or “miserly”, but these city employees apparently had the intellects of rabid monkeys, so instead of checking a dictionary, they threw their excrement in frustrated indignation until David Howard resigned. After a quick acceptance of Howard’s resignation, Williams decided he acted too hastily, so he rehired his top aide, because firing a good worker, because he’s too smart for the walking examples of the lowest common denominator employed by the city, would be “catastrophic” and “disastrous” (two words some in the New York City Department of Education wanted to ban from standardized tests, because they might offend or disturb – heck if I know whom.)

Why do I mention this 14 year old incident?

Because this was the first time I became aware of the sheer “lunacy” (another word that will likely be banned from standardized tests, because it refers to a mental disease, and we don’t want to traumatize children who might be, or have family members or loved ones who might be sick) of the butthurt.

Today, the problem of language and the war on words (Oh whoops! I mentioned war. That implies violence. Standardized testing eggheads won’t like that either) that is being waged against common sense has gotten out of control.

I obviously cannot talk about “faggot” or “fagot,” which actually means “a bundle of dry sticks or wood” in actual… you know… ENGLISH! That might be insulting to homosexuals! And God and Goddess forbid I use the word “fag” as slang to describe a cigarette!

Recently, my buddy science fiction author Michael Z. Williamson got banned from Facebook for daring to use the word “chigger.”  I wouldn’t have believed this was true, and would have demanded more information about this incident, if it wasn’t for the fact that I know Mike personally and have known him for years, so I know this incident to be 100 percent true. It happened not once, but twice, and not just to Mike but to blogger Erin Pallette, whose post said the following:

“I was once niggardly with a jigger full of chiggers. Tigger wanted that jigger with a vigor, but I refused. A Tigger with a jigger full of chiggers is a digger with rigor.” Something like that.

Apparently anything that rhymes with… chigger… is offensive to… um… insects? As Erin pointed out to Facebook – English, Facebook, do you speak it? “Niggardly” is not a racist word, as a brief Googleing would indicate. Kindly grow a sense of humor along with a larger vocabulary.

So, citizens – and I mean citizens, not illegal aliens, who came to this country illegally and are legally not allowed to be here per United State law (I will address you separately) – we’re in an era of political correctness like I’ve never seen before. Bring a “brown bag lunch” and stay a while, because it’s going to be an interesting ride.

In case you were wondering, “brown bag lunch” is offensive, because apparently (and I wouldn’t have known it, being a white person, and therefore racist and all) had been used as a test of skin color to determine whether a person’s skin was light enough to be invited to a party or event. As a rule of thumb (Oops! I used bad phrase that the State Department’s “Chief Diversity Officer” says is offensive, because the phrase emanates from some kind of religious regulation that says you may not beat your wife with a rod any thicker than your thumb), the paper bag test was used by African Americans throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century with reference to a ritual once practiced by certain African-American sororities and fraternities who would not let anyone into the group whose skin tone was darker than a paper bag. So it’s racist and bad, because… wait… what? African Americans used it to judge their own? Hmmmm. Well, then it must be the evil whites’ fault anyway, because we have given black people a full blown generational inferiority complex about their skin color.

Sorry, crackers (not the little crunchy things you eat). No matter what, it’s your fault.

Of course, the brown bag is simply a bag many of us used, and many kids today continue to use to bring their lunch to school – it’s cheap and an easy carry. And the “rule of thumb” refers to using one’s fingers and thumbs as measuring devices. But that’s a small chink in the armor of the PC police (oh, damn, did I just insult Oriental people? I should be fired like those two ESPN employees were last year.

Now, we’re not saying anything has been made illegal (oh, ooops! might be offensive because it refers to undocumented immigrants or something), or that people are being thrown in jail for the use of offensive language… yet. But these little politically correct games are getting old.

Next thing you know we’ll have to call bums “residentially deprived Americans.”

Christians will turn into “oppressors” – plain and simple.

Jews will be “kosher Americans.”

Criminals will simply be known as those who use “alternative means of gaining wealth.”

Hunting will be “animal murder,” and will be outlawed.

Unemployment will be “unpaid leave” – oh wait… that’s my furlough!

Illegal aliens are already “undocumented immigrants.”

Money is the tool of the evil capitalist, so we won’t refer to it at all.

Islamic terrorism can surely be referred to as “workplace violence,” because we can’t insult fundamentalists, can we?

Have I insulted enough of you yet?

Good.

Thank you, Chris Kluwe!

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Just thought I’d explain why I decided to write the previous post. It was an open letter from Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe to elected Maryland moron Emmett C. Burns Jr. who last week wrote a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, urging him to trample the freedom of speech of Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who has spoken out in favor of a Maryland ballot initiative that would legalize gay marriage. “Inhibit such expressions from your employee,” Burns told Bisciotti!

Really, Mr. Burns?

Just who the flying, festering fuck do you think you are? Just who gave you the authority to put pressure on private citizens to conform to your personal religious views? And just why do you feel you have any right to pressure a private organization into inhibiting free speech?

Since when do elected officials have the right to infringe upon individuals’ right to free speech? To me, that’s a serious abuse of power.

As for his ignorance, I think Chris Kluwe addresses that better than I ever could!

This is more a personal quibble of mine, but why do you hate freedom? Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different than you, or act different than you? How does gay marriage, in any way shape or form, affect your life? If gay marriage becomes legal, are you worried that all of a sudden you’ll start thinking about penis? “Oh shit. Gay marriage just passed. Gotta get me some of that hot dong action!” Will all of your friends suddenly turn gay and refuse to come to your Sunday Ticket grill-outs? (Unlikely, since gay people enjoy watching football too.)

I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won’t come into your house and steal your children. They won’t magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won’t even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?

Do yourselves a favor and read the rest of the open letter I linked to above.

I’ll always be an Eagles fan (but seriously, guys, one-point win over the Browns??? Really???), but I may start rooting for the Vikings as well!

 

 

Sad news

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I’ve been on vacation in Vegas with Rob the past week (no, we did not get married), so I haven’t blogged. However, several folks informed me via comments that Bob Strait has died. The military veteran who recently lost the woman he loved for 65 years to a brutal attack has finally joined his sweetheart.

I can’t imagine the loss. Even writing about this, I feel this ache inside – this unreal anger that makes me want to find the filth that raped and beat an elderly woman to death – and end his life in the most painful way possible. I know my grief can’t compare to the grief this family is feeling. I almost feel like I have no right to grieve for their loved one, but I do.

I grieve, because Bob and Nancy Strait died needlessly. She died from violence. I think he just died of a broken heart.

“It broke his heart, regardless of the injuries, it broke Daddy’s heart,” Lanora said. “For 65 years, the love of his life was gone.”

I grieve because there is little media attention to this family’s suffering. There’s little outrage, other than our military community. There are no sweatshirts. There are no politicians and loud charlatans demanding justice.

There’s just this family, and those of us who cared enough to repost this story and work to spread it far and wide, so people know.

And Tyrone Woodfork is still alive. And I don’t see him mustering even the little remorse it takes to give up his fellow scumbags.

Here’s hoping he dies. Painfully. Slowly.

If that makes me a bad person, so be it. Someone has to be outraged.

As for Bob Strait…

Be at peace. Be at peace evermore…

Dear Pakistan,

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Fuck off and die.  Oh, and we’re unfriending you on Facebook too, assholes.

Some Pakistani officers talk openly about shooting down any American drones that violate Pakistani sovereignty. “Nothing is happening on counterterrorism right now,” said a senior Pakistani security official. “It will never go back to the way it was.”

Any new security framework will also require increased transit fees for the thousands of trucks that supply NATO troops in Afghanistan, a bill that allied officials say could run into the tens of millions of dollars.

Officials from Pakistan and the United States anticipate steep reductions in American security aid, including the continued suspension of more than $1 billion in military assistance and equipment, frozen since the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May.

The number of American military officers, enlisted troops and contractors in Pakistan has dropped to about 100, from about 400 more than a year ago, including scores of American trainers who have all been sent home. Pakistan is also restricting visas to dozens of other embassy personnel, from spies to aid workers.

As far as I’m concerned, we should have yanked any and all aid going to that shithole a long time ago.  Any nation that houses terrorists such as bin Laden for years and is a major source of explosives used against American troops in Afghanistan doesn’t deserve our help.

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