airline goose

Airline executives were called before Congress this week to be questioned about their business practices because there have been a few recent incidents that put the airlines in a bad light . The friendly skies may not be as friendly as the airlines want us to believe .

Immediately after the pubic hearings before Congress , one air carrier announced plans to reduce passenger space in the economy section . They measure this space , not by leg room , but by the measured distance between seat backs . In this case , that seat- back -to-seat- back space will be reduced to 29 inches .

Thank God for Congress !  The previous company plan to replace the aircraft seats with stacked shelves was , thankfully , scrapped . The issuance of cattle prods to stewards/stewardesses for use in herding customers  is also now under review .  The Congressional panel emphasized , you see , the necessity of considering passenger safety and comfort as well as corporate profits .

I have a solution to solve the airline problem . I didn’t invent it . It’s universally recognized and would help to address several troubling national conundrums . This is it :  There should be a rule that airline execs are required ( and their immediate family members too ) to fly economy whenever they fly . Simple ?

This rule might go a long way toward addressing the national debate over health care policy . Members of Congress would be limited to whatever health care plan they impose on the rest of us . After all , they set it all up .

The ancient Romans had already recognized the value of such a universal rule . Roman bridge architects , for example , were required to be the first ones over the new bridge , so that if their structure  collapsed the designer got to immediately experience the consequences of their flawed plans .

I used to wish for such a rule when I worked for the school district . One example : There was a classroom underneath of which a skunk had decided to spray .

I couldn’t believe the stink day after day in that classroom . The teacher complained , of course , as did several of us at the school , but the principal was evidently unconcerned . I doubt whether he ever visited the room during the weeks that it stunk . Finally , the teacher union representative managed to coax the school district to address the faculty about the skunk issue .flight 1927

The school district representative who spoke admitted that there was a problem , but that the district was hampered , he explained , from doing anything to solve the problem . They were forbidden from using poisons , for example , he said .  He was , believe it or not , verbally throwing up his hands and saying , in effect , that nothing could be done .

Frustrated teachers told him to get someone under the classroom and have them remove the skunk . The district representative , at this point , said , ” I’ll give a thousand dollars to anyone who would go under that building and remove that skunk . ”

I raised my hand immediately and told him I’d do it . He didn’t honor his own offer .  Apparently , his challenge was a rhetorical flourish that he wasn’t willing to back up with cash ! Imagine that !Featured Image -- 11149

This issue , I knew , would have been quickly resolved had the skunk sprayed under the principal’s  office instead of under a classroom . The school district would have found a way to mitigate the issue that day at the  principal’s urging .

Using the universal rule mentioned above , that principal should have been required to move his office into the stinky room .  Simple ?

I’m sad to say that this rule is not being generally applied , though . There is a new facility , for example , at LAX  for well-heeled airline passengers . For  $7000 or so , customers can join a club that allows them to use a comfortable waiting room with good wine, etc. ,  and helpful attendants.  The check -in process is made easy . Distances that ordinary customers are required to walk are minimized . There is a monthly fee, too , I think . Sounds like a good thing if money is no object . Evidently more than 2000 people have already joined up . Meanwhile , for the rest of us , the situation deteriorates . B-25 bomber

Those airline executives in D.C. should have immediately been herded into an airport , forced to walk from one end of the place to the other , then put on an aircraft in economy seats and flown across the country and back . Then the hearings could resume :  Now what do you think about the 29″  seat-back -to-seat-back idea ?  they could be asked , given that this would be their required mode -of- flight from that point on . And  don’t forget to tell your wife and kids that the same goes for them . Api and LACMA Oct. 2015 044

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander .

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Dan and Dan Travel

Well , at least one of the Dans travels first class ; but I won’t hold that against Dan , considering the circumstances . Dan explains what perks a first class passenger gets . I’ve never been allowed behind the curtain , so I never knew . And lilacs !

No Facilities

Glass Glass & Lime

I always wonder if there’s a limit to how many blog posts you’re allowed to squeeze out of one experience. I guess if it’s a major life-changing experience, all penalties would be waived, but if you try to write for the 4th time about going apple picking, you might raise a few eyebrows. Unless you were picking apples on the Whitehouse lawn or outside of a shabby bar in Port Aransas, Texas.

I had taken some notes on my hastily-arranged flight from Florida to blizzardville, Connecticut, but I thought I had milked that bit of hectic travel dry. Then, Dan, the other Dan, the one who lives where it never blizzards, but who routinely travels half way around the world, wrote about flights.

OK, there are two bits of hyperbole in there. 5,958 mi (9,588.45 km) isn’t half way around the world, it’s…

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May 2, 2017 · 8:10 am

letters to ed

Criticism , that fine flower of personal expression in the  garden of letters.–Joseph Conrad

My plumber left a phone message when Ada and I were away .   ” This is your plumber . Good going ! I assume you’re the same  guy who wrote the letter in this morning’s Times  .  Nice job . “George Orwell

It’s always good to get a compliment now and again . Somehow it was especially heartwarming to have my plumber be the one offering a little praise . Some other friends had seen the letter , too , as it turned out , but they hadn’t bothered to comment on it until after I asked if they’d seen it . So it goes .

I haven’t noticed that the world changed because of my little letter .

Over the years I’ve had several letters to the editors published and , to be perfectly honest , I ain’t  never felt the earth shake later because of any of those letters . I never seen any observable world-changing trend afterward neither . Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention .KutaisiTblisi 2016 743

One letter years ago directly pointed out the absurdity of some new school district policy imposed by the new superintendent . I won’t go into details , but the principal of the school where I worked called me into his office  the next morning .  ” Sid Thompson ( the superintendent  ) called me up today , ” he said .  ” He read your letter and I’m supposed to have a talk with you , ” he said .

I my opinion I was never intimidated by higher-ups . I guess that I was never enough of a striver to spend any effort being  careful  not to make waves , to tow the line , and all of that falderol , in  some vain hope of climbing  the next rung of the professional ladder . ( ” I coulda been somebody .  I coulda been a contender .”  ) I knew the principal pretty well , too , at the time , so I said ,   ” It’s good to know that Sid Thompson reads ” . The principal let that bit of snarkyness pass .

I waited for the required , ordered-from-above , chewing – out .   ” Consider this our talk , ”  he  said instead , having literally done his duty , and sent me back to work .

I used to write a lot of  letters-to-the-editor  about school issues . This latest one , however , was more international in scope . I keep my letters  succinct and to -the- point . I try to include a special word or two to show that I have put some education and sophistication into the effort . That word or two sets the letter apart from others , I always hope , and catches the editor’s eye . Maybe , anyhow . schoolchildren

Okay , maybe the President , his cabinet , the Congress , the Pentagon , the NSA , CIA , and all of those spy agencies , or just some dumb unforseen  boo boo will get us into a war with North Korea anyway , despite my latest letter .

Can’t say I didn’t warn you , though .

My plumber understands , and he agrees .

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flights

I’ve just returned from another long flight across the Atlantic . The flight dropped at least two hours behind schedule  because , as far as I could overhear and  observe , the loading ramp cables were screwed up and couldn’t be adjusted or repaired until the fix-it technicians arrived and the ramp couldn’t be used until then.

Either that or the flight crew was desperately trying to sober-up the pilot in time for the flight .

Meanwhile , all of us patient passengers waiting at the gate were abruptly herded out of our seats ( most of us had seats ; some didn’t ) and chased out into the main hall . A couple of security officers then spent five or ten minutes searching our now-vacated seats near the gate  , on , under , and around , as if we might have hidden our weapons and explosives under the seat and not kept them in our pockets or in our  carry-on luggage . Could it be that terrorists’ main goal is to destroy waiting rooms and not , as previously thought , aircraft ?

This has happened to me before . Last time , before they allowed the passengers to resettle in the waiting room near the gate , they called a few names . They called mine . I am generally , I guess , an optimist , and so I thought that maybe I would be seated onboard first for some reason . It could happen . Ada , more down-to-earth , said no , that’s not going to happen .

Instead ,  they escorted me into a small security office  and searched my carry-on bag .  In there I had some of Ada’s clothes . I also had an empty green duffel bag which was unfolded carefully as if it might accidentally and suddenly detonate at any moment . I had a pair of my dirty socks and boxer shorts in there too . The security official , to her credit ,  caught her breath and hesitated  for only  a couple of seconds , made no rude comments , and then released me . I would have given a penny for her thoughts , however . She might have been thinking : some kind of a weird sicko , but no terrorist .

So here we go again . I explained the procedure to an American guy standing next to me .   ” And then they’ll check a few of us , ” I said . He whined about going through several security checks already . ” And , we’ll have to wait again , ” I said .

” Sounds like you’ve been through this before ,” he said . Yeah , but only in Oslo . Last time the security people  explained to us that this curious procedure was ” required by the Americans ” ( the flight would be headed to Los Angeles )  I wonder . Wouldn’t doubt it .

In passing , I might note that  being two extra hours in Oslo airport added to the scheduled three hour layover , I decided to have a beer . In Scandinavia there is plenty of beer  but most people need to take a second mortgage out on their house to afford it . Not like in Poland where I had just come from ,  where beer is still cheap ( and so am I , so it’s a good match ) . I put my car and my  cat down as collateral and bought a beer in a plastic cup at the little snack shop in the secure area of the Oslo airport . Sometimes a person has got do things he/she wouldn’t ordinarily do under normal circumstances.

Despite the recent rash of airline abuse of passengers , I am not afraid to fly . Looking at it practically , of all of the millions of customers , the airlines only beat up and drag off a few . There was a woman on an American flight who was hit with her baby’s stroller by an employee , of course , but how often is that likely to happen ?  The incident that troubles me most , though , was the man on the Delta flight who was kicked off of the flight for having to use the toilet when the plane , instead of taking off , taxied around the tarmac for a long period of time . I put myself right in that guy’s place .airplane in hand

Dragging a guy down the aisle and clubbing a woman with a stroller , well , that’s bound to happen once in awhile in the normal course of business . Right ? Like losing   a bag here and there . Nobody’s perfect .

But not letting a person pee is  going too far if you ask me . These airline folks like to sternly announce when the restrooms are about to be locked , too , toward the end of flights .  I wonder if they lock the First Class toilets at the same time as the economy class ones .  I suspect that the crew have their own secret toilet , anyway , behind that locked door off the galley and they use it any time they feel the need  , especially when the passenger toilets are locked up tight and that assigned steward or stewardess is sitting on that little jump seat and staring  at the economy rows of peons  and showing  that insulting little patronizing smirk most of them seem to have  . Staring down the huddled masses is  a little incentive , I suppose , a little  extra  perk that the airline business offers to their employees , I imagine .

And another thing that irritates me in flight is the recorded description about what a marvelous aircraft this is , how it has several restrooms  some fore , some aft , some centrally located . ( The recording doesn’t mention the  subsequently announced  warning not to use toilets  ” out of your class ” , however , or other restrictions , or the toilet lock-down  ) , about how the overhead bins have been redesigned and enlarged and made so roomy  to make all of the carry-on baggage comfortable in flight . Meanwhile , we economy passengers are crammed tightly and uncomfortably into our tiny travel spaces , sharing hard plastic armrests with fellow victims , being jabbed and rocked by the  person  sitting behind us as he or she attempts to settle somehow  into the tiny tuna can space . How about redesigning this , and treating passengers with a lot more respect , instead of counting only corporate profits .

I know the next profit-maximizing plan is to charge a fee even to use the toilet . You think I’m kidding ?  That might be  when I stop flying , but  I expect the typical airline  customer to say , well , that’s the way it is now . What can you do !

 

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lost in translation

BAR FIT Szczecin 2017 011Correct me if I’m wrong if you want , but I think that the meaning of the Polish word “bar” has changed somewhat over the last several years . It used to mean an inexpensive cafeteria , but now it also means more and more what the American meaning of bar is . Not being an expert in the Polish language  ( or American lingo , for that matter ) , I am ready to take your more informed criticism of my analysis , if you feel it is warranted . What must be must be .

But that is neither here nor there for the petty purpose of this potentially paralogizing post . I don’t mean to pettyfog , either , no way , or to mire us down into inconsequential goop . I have got one simple point to make . Well , perhaps it’s not a point , now that I think of it  , but it’s an observation .

I think that we get caught in our own linguistic canards at times . How about that ? Do I hear an argument ?  That being said , can we move on ?BAR FIT Szczecin 2017 001

I  came upon this Polish bar called BarFit . Had it been my decision to name the place , I would not have named it that , for reasons obvious , I think , to the average American . Again , someone went ahead and named the place , and no one even asked me first . That kind of thing seems to happen quite often . BAR FIT Szczecin 2017 003   Well , actually , had someone asked me , I may have accidentally said , ” Yeah , that name sounds okay .” After all , the best entrepreneurs know when to ignore sage advice , and you shouldn’t  base your decisions on the advice of those who don’t have to deal with the results . Besides , good advice is never cheap  and cheap advice is never good .

Besides , there is  evidently  a dog food called Barf . Maybe it’s a British thing . I glanced at it on the internet . If Barf is good enough to feed to dogs , then BarFit  might be okay to name  a food place . Too late now , anyway . Done is done .

BAR FIT Szczecin 2017 006

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while my guitar gently leans

If I’d had good discipline , I might have gone into music .

——Clint Eastwood

There was a time when I thought I’d learn guitar .

At some point I went over to  McCabe’s Guitar Shop and paid $250 for a pretty good guitar . Two hundred and fifty dollars in those days , remember , was like nine million dollars today .  I fooled around with it , learned a few chords from friends . I asked my friend Joe to give me a few lessons . Joe tried to explain how guitar chords were mathematical , he explained  harmonies , chords , what notes have to do with it , and  blues progressions . I tried to comprehend it all , see the sense of the dynamics of stringed instruments , tried to learn a few more chords , to manage and massage  the strings , determine frets ,  play a few simple songs .guitar playing woman

Joe politely told me , after a few frustrating lessons , that maybe I should stick to wind instruments . Joe had brought the hammer down , struck the gavel and pronounced judgement . And , I knew even then and since then ,  Joe was probably right .

I picked up my flute again and toodled . I bought a used clarinet and learned , a little , how to play without exhaling so much  air that I’d pass out , although Benny Goodman I definitely wasn’t . I even  bought a used saxophone but quickly sold it to a friend .   I put the guitar away for the time being , sat back down at the drawing board , reassessed my stringed thing potential , brooded .  It was as if the music God had said , ” Dan , there’s only one thing I don’t want you to do . Don’t try to learn to play guitar   ”  like it was  the forbidden fruit .

So , inevitably , the guitar challenge worked on my mind , needled me , nagged me .  There the long-necked thing  was , after all , right there in the room , leaning against the wall , taunting me , that great guitar ,  tempting me to try again  .

Probably months later , after the lessons , I bought the Easy Way To Learn Guitar  books and got psychologically ready to try again . I eased in to it .  Paced myself . I practiced chords . I had problems stringing the chords together . I couldn’t make sense of the guitar , still . I tried .  But , week by week , month by month , no breakthrough , no encouraging riffs were ever heard from my apartment .

You just pick up a chord , go twang , and you’ve got music .

——Sid Vicious

I was reading a post called Monday Memories and Music from a fellow blogger who was in a little bit of the same boat as I was in with a guitar , but she with a piano .  She was at the  book buying stage . Her post prompted this one . Brought back old memories .  

Learning music by reading about  it is like making love by mail .

——–Luciano Pavorotti

Writing about music  is like dancing about architecture .

——-Martin Mull

Years later I took another stab at learning the guitar .   I thought that I gave it a good shot and , once again , got not very far .  Meanwhile I was getting mildly interested in photography . One of my sisters had a nice camera . She seemed to be playing the same game with a camera as I was playing ( pardon the presumptuous expression ! )  with the guitar .  So we agreed to a swap , camera for guitar .  She was working at the time in Florida . If the camera didn’t work out for me , or the guitar didn’t work out for her , we agreed that we would swap back .

When that time came that I thought , once again , that I should take up the steel stringed thing again for another try , I called her to suggest a re-swap .   But , it was not going to happen . The guitar had moved on . A boyfriend had taken  it with him to Chicago ,  she said .  And the boyfriend never came back , as it happened . That’s the way thing go sometimes .

I have a borrowed guitar , as I am writing this post .  It is  leaning against the lawyers’ bookcase in the back bedroom . Near it , on the writing table , are the  Learn To Play Guitar  books , good ones , and an electronic tuning device . I tried . Believe me , I tried . Once again . The plan was to , finally , learn the instrument well enough this time to encourage me to , once again , go out and buy a good guitar .

But , I may have to admit that Joe was right all those years ago .  The only reason that I haven’t returned the guitar to my generous friend is that I hate to give in once again , to give up my guitar playing ambitions  , to capitulate again , to drop again ( temporarily ? ) my recurring guitar-playing dream , to again throw in the towel 
.

Most people live and die with their music still unplayed . They never dare to try .

——-Mary Kay Ash

Oh , I’ll try again . There’s no rush , after all , is there ?  I’ll rest up a bit for the next bout .

Where words fail  music speaks .

—-Hans Christian Andersen

To all you striving musicians , piano players , guitarists , banjo pickers , tuba tooters , accordianists ,  and yodelers : Keep the dream alive ! Music rocks ! Otherwise , all is lost .

This land is your land , and this land is my land , sure , but the world is run by those that never listen to music anyway.

—-Bob Dylan

bob dylan

One more quote that may apply :

He has Van Gogh’s ear for music .

—-Billy Wilder

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ideas ?

This is a fungus growing on an oak tree out in the backyard .

Bill says it sucks the life out of the tree , that there must be something wrong inside the tree .There’s the wisteria in bloom just outside the back door .

This is Ada with the lemon tree and roses .

This is the mineshaft out in the backyard where I go to get my ideas for this blog .

Here I am getting ready to go into the idea mine .

Here I have gone too deep into the mine and/or been in there too long .

There have to be more ideas deeper into the pit . 

It bugs me sometimes . Ideas must be right out there in the open . Wouldn’t you think ?

There’s an idea ! [ Not mine ] .

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