Archive | November, 2010

"HEY! Only I get to touch him there."

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Folks, forgive me for writing about the TSA yet again. I promise, I’ll get back to blathering on about all the stuff you love to hear, but I wanted to do a post-mortem on last week’s events as they pertain to airport security. The part of my brain dedicated to marketing won’t let me have any peace until I do.

Last Wednesday was the day before Thanksgiving – notoriously one of the busiest travel days of the year. It was also National Opt-Out Day, a internet-driven campaign aimed at getting as many travelers as possible to opt-out of the scanners. The plan was a simple one: opt-out as a means of protest, to illustrate to the TSA just how fed-up everyone was with these new security procedures.

The idea would be to clog up the security lines, delay passengers, and get the point across that the people weren’t going to take it anymore. There was a high propensity for havoc to be raised everywhere. But instead … well, things went pretty smoothly (it kind of echoed my own experiences. Injustices are happening, and some individuals are making noise about it, but in the end? NOTHING IS HAPPENING). Folks reported few lines, no delays, and no problems whatsover. The TSA  explained that hardly anyone had opted out (and I’m guessing they did so with a shit-eating grin on their face). They even posted a photo of two adorable TSA-loving moppets on their blog to illustrate their own awesomeness.

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Last week, it snowed in Seattle.

It’s not a common occurrence here. We are accustomed to our precipitation in a more thawed form. The city is simply unequipped to handle it – we have a serious shortage of both snow plows and common sense (this year city officials made the brilliant move of using a chemical deicer too early – and failing to salt the roads afterwards. The result? The deicer melted the snow on the roads, turning it into liquid, which later froze. The roads were covered in sheets of ice).  Even the slightest dusting of snow closes down schools and has people phoning in to work.

And last Monday was no exception – I gave Rand a ride to work, but I told him he’d have to get himself home (he was lucky enough to catch one of the few buses that didn’t jack-knife on the icy roads). I proceeded to go for walk and ran a few errands (and I mean I literally ran them, as I couldn’t drive and my bus never came). Here are 10 photos from my frozen wanderings …

  1. Under the I-5 bridge at dusk.
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    Not visible from here: the insane traffic that had people moving at 1 mph.

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  2. Self-portrait in the snow.
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    I can't tell if "You look great in a parka!" is a compliment or an insult.

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I need to get cracking, folks – Seattle is under a heap of snow, the roads are iced over, and I need to bake about a bazillion pies in anticipation of Turkey Day. So while this week is short one, I feel that a round-up is nevertheless in order, even if it, too, is on the short side. There’s a joke here … something about shortness and genitalia … And speaking of genitals, did you know that the TSA can now legally give you a pap smear without your consent? It may be possible that I am exaggerating a weensy bit. Maybe.

But in honor of the recent prominence the TSA has had in the news as of late, and that today is Opt-Out Day across the nation’s airports, I give you a very special TSA edition of The Week in Travel. Enjoy, and hang on to your pants …

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This article about a TSA agent furiously masturbating as women walked through the backscatter machines is entirely fictional (it’s via The Daily Squib, the U.K.’s equivalent of The Onion). Still I (and countless others) fell for it. Why? Because these days the truth is just as ridiculous as fiction.

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The lovely @SusanMoskwa brought my attention to this: A gift from all the crafty-types, for all us traveler-types.

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Having spent the last few days whining (yes, I admitted it) about the injustices that the TSA has committed against law-abiding U.S. citizens, I thought I’d switch gears today and not complain about anything.

Yeah, I know. I’m surprised, too. It’s not that I’ve suddenly started agreeing with what’s going on in our nation’s airports (here I go again …) but rather that Thanksgiving is around the corner, and rather than focus on the bad (of which there is very little in my life) I’d like to talk about the good.

And believe me, there’s a lot of good.

Here’s the thing: life hasn’t always been quite as awesome as it is now, but it’s always been pretty darn good. Despite the few speedbumps of douchebaggery, I’ve enjoyed a rather smooth ride on the highway of existence. And now seems a particularly good time to talk about those wonderful things in my life, as they pertain to travel, among other things.

So, with no further rambling, here are 20 things (travel-related and otherwise) for which I am thankful:

  1. My Samsonite spinner suitcase. Not only did I get it for 75% off at Ross (I. LOVE. THAT. PLACE) but it handles better than my KIA (then again, so do most shopping carts).

    It has the about the same horsepower as my KIA, too.

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  2. The occasional upgrade. They’re all too rare, but when they do come along? FREE HOT NUTS (that’s what I said).
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    Also, silverware! Just like real humans use!

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  3. Waking up in time for the hotel buffet breakfast. Oh, and the ubiquity of Nutella in said buffets. HOW HAS AMERICA NOT CAUGHT ON?
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When I was 15, I had my first boyfriend.

On our first date, he took me out to dinner; we had pasta alfredo and milkshakes. It was quite sweet. We occasionally watched movies together, and while I’m sure even he will admit that while he was far (and I mean faaaaar) from being a gentleman, he waited a respectable time before making any attempts to venture into uncharted territory.

Fast forward 15 years (almost to the day) to this past weekend. Rand and I flew to Boise for a quick (but long overdue) visit with friends. Meaning that we went through security twice, and were subject to the new TSA screenings, which included our choice of back-scatter radiation or a federal-sanctioned groping.

The result? In short, the TSA owes me some pasta alfredo. And maybe a milkshake.

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Actual TSA sign visible after going through security in Boise. Yes, there are kids wrapped in the American flag.

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The blog’s been a little slow this week, folks, and my apologies for that. I blame the Seattle weather, which currently resembles the inside of my washer when the cycle is set to “cold”. And apparently this weekend is about to get even colder, with snow in the forecast. Please excuse me while I hide under my deluxe Snuggie, and in the meantime, enjoy these links …

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Ryanair passengers protest after their plane (originally headed to Paris) was diverted to Belgium, and they were only informed of the change after the plane had landed. Props to them for protesting, because what they had to go through was absolute b.s., but their choice of dissent  – staying in the plane for an additional four hours in the dark – doesn’t seem like the best decision they could have made.

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One Word might be my new favorite time-killing site. A word appears on your computer screen, and you have 60 seconds to write about it. You then have the option to publish your stream-of-conscious prose or simply abandon it and see what other folks have written. I got “killed”, which, considering I just finished The Wire last night, didn’t phase me for a second (and yet, what I wrote still kind of sucked. But what can you expect from a minute’s worth of work?).

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Earlier this week, I started the Facebook Group Say No to Full-Body Airport Scanners. I found this picture online, and decided to use it as the group’s profile pic. Since the image seemed a bit too revealing, I added some black bars …

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A while later, someone informed me that the pic was a hoax (it was a tweaked version of stock-photo of a woman) and not actually from a back-scatter machine. Journalistic integrity being what it is (and sprinkled with a generous dose of Catholic guilt), I replaced it with this one that you’ve probably seen before:

Full body image scan

Why is she smiling? If I were this naked and the world saw it, I would NOT be smiling.

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I love my family. And I’m fairly convinced that at least some of them love me. Nevertheless, it seems that several of them are trying to kill me, or, at the very least, trying to ensure that I will get so hopelessly lost that I will never, ever be able to find my way home.

During my last trip down to San Diego, I decided to head down to the Arabic grocery store located not terribly far from my Auntie P.’s house. I had been there once before, and I had found it magical. Sugared nuts, dozens of different types of feta, a variety of pistachio- and walnut-studded cookies and pastries – it was incredible. The only thing the place lacks, for obvious reasons, is a hearty selection of pork. Oh, and the staff seems to hate everyone. But other than that? It’s a delightful place.

My aunt had accompanied me last time I went. She goes there fairly often (at least a few times a month), but despite this, she got us both terribly lost when trying to get there.

“I thought you go here all the time,” I said.

“I do.” she replied. She nevertheless had no idea where it was.

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