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Getting ready for a vacation this week, so will post an edited rerun of a previous post related to travel while I pack my bags.

Here’s my running diary about a January airline trip from Los Angeles to Chicago in 2014. All times are AM:

Why do they abbreviate airports with three character cryptic codes? LAX for Los Angeles makes some sense. LA’s fine the sun shines most the time and the feeling is, laid back, reLAX.

ORD for Chicago, not so much. Chicago pizza is certainly not ORDinary. At least I am not flying to Sioux City, Iowa or as they call it SUX.

5:55 I was fortunate enough to get a seat on an exit aisle with actual leg room. Before we take off, a flight attendant informs me that I am seated in the exit aisle and asks if I am ready, willing, and able to assist should an emergency occur.

I assure her that if I can have this seat, I will also hand wash her uniform and spit shine her shoes. “Please please don’t make me move to the Houdini seats.” She doesn’t smile but asks my row mate the same question.

6:20 Crackle sound, “Uh this is your captain speaking. (Whew for a moment there, I thought we flew too high and it was God.) Welcome aboard our flight to Chicago where the temperature is five below zero Celsius. ”

OK, I get it. Not only are you the ‘way too cool guy’ who can fly an airplane, but you also know the temperature on a scale that nobody else in America refers to.

6:30 In-flight entertainment varies these days. On some flights, you get a free movie. On some, you get nothing, but they still put the headphones in the pocket in front of you just to tease you.

On this one, there are individual video screens right in front of you running live shows that STOP every five minutes the instant you are in the air.

Then, here comes the plug. For $6.99, you can watch the rest of the show or anything you want. I just paid $450.00 for this flight, I get no nuts, no pretzels, no meal and now you want seven bucks to watch TV? I pass.

6:45 The video screen runs the same ads over and over again. Something with Kevin Bacon, and by golly tart cherry juice can apparently raise the dead. Pay $6.99 for more information. I pass again.

7:00 The flight attendant brings the cart down the aisle. I was hungry and looked at the options. A hard-boiled egg, 10 grapes and a wedge of cheese. The only meat apparent is the Bacon on the screen in front of me. They want $6.99 for this too. Once more, I pass.

7:30 The beverage cart comes now. I consider a beer, but that costs … yep you guessed it, $6.99. I opt for a ginger ale. For the price of 2 beers, I can buy a whole case back home. The flight attendant also informs me there is no tart cherry juice on the cart.

7:45 The seat belt light has been off for an hour or so and while we were free to move about the cabin, only a few people dare. I am standing in the aisle, about to answer an urgent call of nature strategizing how to negotiate the 3 foot by 5 foot lavatory when a ding comes. Captain Celsius tells us, “We’ve hit a bit of turbulence, so please take your seats and fasten your seat belts.” He does not tell us the temperature.

OK, not only do I have to hold it in, I get to shake around for a while too with my belt fastened tightly around my waist. At least I have leg room. Eventually, I am free to move about the cabin and free to relieve my bladder.

8:00 There are two business clones in the aisle across from me wearing garish suits who have been looking at their computers for two hours solid and mutually nodding. One gets up to use the facilities. The other follows. Odd.

8:25 Apparently Kevin Bacon plays the role of Ryan Hardy. After 27 times through the spool I have gathered that. I briefly consider dropping $6.99 just to make the preview stop.

9:00 I check out the In Flight magazine and find a boarding pass from Hawaii (or HNL if you prefer) to LAX. I also find 3 Ohio instant lottery tickets already scratched. I check, just in case. None are winners.

9:35 The announcement comes from Captain Celsius, “We are making our arrival to Chicago. Flight attendants, prepare the cabin for arrival.”

At this announcement, all the flight attendants do nothing and instantly just sit down. Apparently, this is landing preparation.

The wing flaps start making this noise that you hope is a noise they are supposed to be making and you think, “Hey, flight attendants! Did you prepare for THAT? Did you check that right wing before you sat down? It’s shaking like crazy and making noises like when the brakes went out on my car. ARE you prepared for landing!?”

9:45 Safe landing. A well-prepared flight attendant announces, “Welcome to Chicago where the temperature is 23 degrees.” (I assume we are back in good old Fahrenheit land.)

“Please stay seated until the aircraft comes to a complete stop.” (Nobody does. Most people instantly stand at that announcement. Why? I do not know. Nobody is getting off any faster because they got their bags ready quicker.)

“Contents in the overhead bins may have shifted during flight.” (The contents of my stomach did indeed shift during that landing, so likely there was some shift in the bins. Luckily however, there was not much in my stomach because I didn’t spend $6.99. The overhead bins are stuffed tighter than a 15 pound turkey with 8 pounds of stuffing on Thanksgiving Day. Likely, nothing shifted there either.)

9:55 Home sweet home. I exit the plane and the airport wearing just a sweater and realize, damn, it’s January in Chicago. Celsius or Fahrenheit, it’s cold.

But maybe this has happened to you? Share your travel story if you dare.

IMG_0720Just a smattering of random observations this week. (1) Coming to you from a cold gray and gloomy Chicago January.

It’s Award Show season. I just took in the Golden Globe Award show last Sunday. The more I watch these things, the more I wonder WHY I watch these things. One time, I would like to be in the band and be the one to start playing the music when a self-absorbed thank you speech gets out of hand. There were several of those.

Speaking of thank you speeches, why do they so often ramble, dropping names that nobody in the viewing audience has heard of, knowing full well they will forget someone in the process.

There’s more award shows to come. I’m not sure I’ll watch them, unless I can play in the band.

Oh boy. The 2016 Presidential election is upon us. According to a December 6, 2012 article in the Huffington Post, “The 2012 presidential election broke the $2 billion milestone in its final weeks, becoming the most expensive in American political history, according to final federal finance reports released Thursday.”

I’m gonna let that sink in for a bit.

That’s just the Presidential election between Obama and Romney.

Each candidate spent over a billion dollars to try and get elected.

It doesn’t include any of the other elections.

A few years back, when I was a young idealistic college student working a summer job in a warehouse, I’d share conversation with a grizzled co-worker there from time to time. His name was Junior Janeke and he had over twenty years’ experience on the docks.

While discussing my idealistic thoughts about the political system and how I would save the world, Junior said to me, “You know what I don’t get about these elections? Why would a guy spend hundreds of millions of dollars for a job that pays $200,000 a year?”

I didn’t have an answer to the question then and I don’t have one now.

But I do have a concept for political reform.

Let’s give each Presidential Candidate a fair amount, the same amount. Let’s say $100,000 million each. That’s all they get to spend. Then we will see who most effectively manages expenditures, who can work within a budget and maybe we would get an actual glimpse at the best candidate without being inundated with a plethora negative campaign ads.

We can use the other 1.8 billion dollars for social reform or cool the globe or even save the whales if you want. But, it’s better than lining some politician’s pockets. Just a thought.

Finally, the NFL Football Playoffs are in full swing. Has anybody noticed just how violent the game Pro Football is? Don’t get me wrong. I played football, I’ll watch the Super Bowl and I’ll gladly take any freebie tickets you would care to share with me.

But, watch these upcoming playoff games. There are seven left. Let me know if you find ONE game where there is not an injury. I don’t mean just a little bump or bruise. I mean a stoppage in play, knocked out cold, carried off the field, hoisted on the meat cart, hobbling to the sidelines injury. I guarantee there will be at least ONE of those kind of injuries in every game.

You can watch a baseball game, hockey game, or basketball game all the way through, and while there are injuries in those sports, there are still some games where you don’t see an injury at all. Not in football. Someone always gets slobber-knocked at least one time in your average game.

Thanks for indulging me and taking the time to read. As always, feel free to share your thoughts on these topics.

FOOTNOTES: (1) In case you missed Smatterings I, here it is:

IMG_0709 (2)
We’re in this weird little abyss of hub-bub called the first week of January.

Christmas has passed and even the clearance items have virtually vanished from the stores.

New Year’s Eve has come and gone, just as over-rated as ever.

Nearly a week into 2016, some people desperately cling to the last vestige of their resolutions, whatever they may have been. Some are more successful.

But, I noticed something today, perhaps an obvious, but the days are getting just a tad longer. There was still a glimmer of twilight in the brisk Midwestern winter sky at 5PM.

And we are also going to need some warmer temperatures here in the Midwest to solve this outdoor decorating dilemma at the house.

We have this inflatable snow globe and as you can see from this picture it stood proudly on the front lawn for an unseasonably mild Midwestern Green Christmas Day.


Normally, at night, the globe is deflated and lies peacefully on the lawn.

A few evenings after Christmas, the mild went away and an icy wintery blast came through while the unsuspecting globe rested comfortably on the grass. Soon the globe was covered with ice and a layer of snow and now sticks precariously to the ground. (See cover photo.)

We can only hope for a spell of above freezing weather in January in Chicago. So have a good thought for a little warmth here for a few days to brighten future holidays at the house and “save the globe.”

I leave you with this song by Blood Sweat and Tears.

It has a great instrumental arrangement as well as lyrical alliteration that conjurs up a Midwinters Night dream. The song is about a love that’s gone, but perhaps it can be construed to be about an inflatable globe clinging to hope for just a few days of literal “global warming” in January.

All this fair decoration needs is a little “snowglobal warming.”