Tag Archives: TSA

This post was almost about macaronuts (which is, for those of you who are unfamiliar, a French macaron that is batter dipped and fried, like a doughnut. I whispered sweet nothings at it while eating it, like a praying mantis to her mate. But something slightly more interesting happened just today (if such a thing is possible.) and I figured I’d share that with you first, even though now we’re all thinking about macaronuts.

Mmmm …

Anyway, today we flew back from Palm Springs, after a week spent lounging around in the sun with our friends Sarah and Eric (and their little son), sharing meteorologically-fascinating tidbits about the current polar vortex, including this one: parts of the United States are currently colder than Mars.

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Who knew keeping your shoes on would be such a luxury?

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I am not a gambler. Should there be any doubts of this, note that I was in Vegas for two whole days and the greatest risk I took in a casino was ordering a savory crepe (don’t do it. Cheese is no substitute for Nutella, and anyone who says otherwise is likely trying to sell you something. Probably cheese).

But the TSA has turned me into someone who takes chances, who rolls the dice again and again, because if I win, I get a bit of humanity back. How? Via the TSA’s new PreCheck program.

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We're not in hell, I promise. Hell's flags are different.

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You know that old joke about heaven and hell? How in heaven, the police are British, the engineers are German, the cooks are Italian, the lovers are French? And how in hell, the roles are jumbled up? The police are German, the cooks are British, and, perhaps most cruelly of all, the bureaucrats are Italian.

And while the more culturally sensitive of you are rolling your eyes at the broad brush with which that joke paints Europeans, a few of you, like me, are knowingly nodding your head. If you’ve traveled at all, you know that the police in the U.K. are generally lovely, and you know the feeling of pure relaxation that comes after hearing your airplane pilot speak to the cabin in German-accented English. And if you are truly unfortunate, you know the hell of any organizational, governmental, or bureaucratic system in Italy.

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The backspace key is now removable.

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I’d like to take a few moments to remember, with extreme fondness, Rand’s dear departed laptop.

It traveled with us across the globe. It never made weird sounds, it was quick to start up, and had a battery life that was unusually long. It was lightweight and kept my lap warm on cold winter nights when I sat on the couch browsing the internet.

It was a good laptop, and it left us too soon.

It met its end last Friday, at the hands of a TSA agent in San Diego airport. They were sending everyone through the back-scatter machines, and Rand and I opted out, as we usually do. TSA kept us waiting longer than usual for our pat-downs. A line formed behind us of other opt-outs, but they soon decided to simply go through the back-scatter machines – a TSA tactic that I’m familiar with. Inconvenience anyone who expresses dissent to the point that they’ll fall back into line. It worked with basically everyone except Rand and me.

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"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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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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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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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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