How Many Ways?

How many ways can you say "Great Blog"?  The spammers tried to do it overnight.  Here are a few caps from what I just had marked as spam and awaiting approval.

Sigh.  Think I’ll go for a walk…  Thank you Akismet.

Imagine the discussion if those 47k+ spam comments had been real comments!

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Quite a Day

Nothing educational today but just a sharing of my trip home from New York.

It was a challenging day.  Usually when people talk about these things, it includes bad experiences with the TSA but they may well have been the best part of the day.

I knew that it was going to be an interesting day when I was sitting in the lobby of the On the Ave Hotel and my travelling partner didn’t recognize me.  I had elected not to buy another day of Internet access in my room so was using the free lobby internet to do my #FollowFriday updates.  Once I convinced her that it was indeed me, we headed out to grab a cab.

Now, Betsy had no problem as she got in on the street side.  I, on the other hand, elected to get in on the other side.  I estimated that it would just take two steps in the snow bank to get to the door.  What I didn’t estimated was that, with all the warm weather, the snow had melted and had become ice.  It’s the stuff that we’ve always called “super snow”.  Except that super snow is usually white.  This was more black than white.  I didn’t realize this until we’d taken off and I could see that my hand was entirely black from the crud.  I think I’ll call it “snirt” – sort of a cross between snow and dirt.

Thankfully, Betsy had some tissues in her bag and I managed to wipe off the outer layer but even in the low light, I could see that it was still filthy.  As I held up my arm, it was all the way up my new jacket to the shoulder.  Come to think of it, my legs felt wet and it ran all the way down as well.  What a mess!

But, that didn’t enjoy viewing the sights – Broadway, Central Park, Triborough/Robert F. Kennedy Bridge – on the way.  Then, it was LaGuardia.  It’s a big airport but flying Spirit Air, you just see a portion of it.  Those of us who fly from Detroit Metro are really spoiled with McNamara and North Terminals.  Bright, shiny, open are all words that wouldn’t describe Terminal B.  It’s an older terminal and your first stop is to check luggage.  Unlike Detroit, once you’re tagged, you have to carry it to the screening area and then it’s left to the miracles of baggage delivery.  Next on to screening.  It’s the part of flying that’s always a crapshoot.  Sometimes, you can fly through and over times it can take forever.

The entry to the screening is actually out in what seems to be the main concourse. And, the lines were long.  At the end when I joined, it just appeared to be a mass of humanity.  When you get closer, it was actually four lines and three of them were moving nicely.  The fourth involved a family of children with a great deal of questions.  I was quite impressed.  Once the boarding passes were checked, it was on to the screening area.  Physically very small and with snaking lines, this could be a challenge too.  What line to take?  I elected the outside.  We actually started moving along pretty quickly.

Until the jerk.

I figured that I would be in line for some extra questioning with my muddy hands, coat, and now I found pants.  But, I couldn’t believe this.  It’s the goal of the TSA to make sure that folks are flying without items that don’t pose safety hazards.  I get it.  Why doesn’t everyone?  Why do you make an issue and argue with people just doing their job?  This just isn’t the time or place to do it.  Meanwhile, back in the pack, I’m chatting with a TSA agent about baseball.  I’m wearing my Tigers’ hat and he’s a Yankees’ fan.  I figure that I’ll likely be strip searched as payback.  Fortunately, he’s disenchanted with the Yankees and considering switching to the Red Sox.  We wondered about the wisdom of that, living in New York!

Eventually, I’m through, have some breakfast and get on the plane and we’re headed to Detroit – sort of.  We push back a couple of minutes early and the pilot points out that we’re 15th in line for takeoff should you care to look to the right to see the lineup!  As we’re sitting there, it seems to get worse as other planes do some line cutting.  I wouldn’t have guessed that possible in an airplane!  But, we start moving along.  Now’s the time to talk about the seating arrangements in Spirit.  They’re a discount airline and one of the ways that they handle costs is in the seating.  Normally, I’m a Delta flyer and both have Airbus 319s flying to New York.  What difference could it makes?

Well, the size of the plane is the same, but the number of seats isn’t!  Use SeatGuru to compare the number of rows of seats at Delta versus Spirit. Ah, but I’m saving CSTA money on the ticket.  In a short flight, who needs leg room?  So, we’re sitting there in our uncomfortable seats counting the planes taking off in the other direction, flight attendents going nuts because people are getting up to use the washroom, and when the count is 13, we turn away from the lineup.  The pilot comes on to let us know that there is a maintenance issue that needs to be addressed and he hoped that the tower would let us jump the line to get back to the top.  After a few minutes, the issue seems to be resolved and we turn back to the lineup and there’s only three planes in line!  I think that the schedulers need to sign up for Michelle Hutton’s scheduling session at the CSIT Symposium.

Eventually we’re airborne and headed west.  Maybe things will fall into place now.  I’m listening to iTunes and playing Mah Jongg (in landscape mode because of leg room) when I notice the flight attendent pull a board across the aisle up front.  That seems weird but then I find out why.  One of the pilots needs to use the rest room.  When he’s done, I see him with a cell phone I guess calling the other pilot because the door opens and they exchange places.  I keep wondering if they need two people forward.  But, I catch a glimpse of another flight attendent in the cabin so there were two physical bodies.  Regardless, there was a sense of relief when both pilots went back and the board released.

Now, we’re in for the rest of the trip.  What else could happen?

Well, there was the wind!  Now, I know why the pilots had to hit the washroom!  At an amusement part, you’d have to spend big bucks to get the ride that we experienced.  I swear that one time as we weaved back and forth in decent that we could have gone through one of those gates that you see in Red Bull racing.  Wow.  Kudos to the pilot(s) for eventually getting us to the ground.  Even later on in the day, as I looked skyward, you could see planes flying into Metro very low so you could tell that it took some special skill to get us there.  I think that we landed half way to Ann Arbor though as taxiing back to the terminal took what seemed forever.  But, we were home safe and sound.

I hit the shower as soon as I entered the house to clear off the snirt appropriately and there’s nothing like having the new puppy curl up on your feet to close the day.  What a day.

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OTR 02/19/2011

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