October 8, 2012

October 8, 2012

Burying the Lede

Though I’ve no idea how many times the average American flies, I guess I fly about three roundtrips a year, and I’m going to assume that’s above average. (Look, I wish I lived in a country of people with elan, but then a show about a child apparently named Honey Boo Boo becomes popular and I fear for our future). Anyway, I consider myself an experienced traveler, who was once able to get through security at Logan in under 5 minutes.

The problem with travel, frankly, is other people. It’s something irregular enough to so many that they’re out of practice. Or never got into practice in the first place. Thus they don’t believe until you tell them that they will need to remove their shoes, throw out their Big Gulps, etc. Yes, you—YOU—will need to follow the same rules as everyone else as posted in that giant sign over there, buddy! Strip and spread ‘em!

Whenever I find myself going through an airport security line, I’m reminded of one of my favorite movie scenes ever, from the film “Up in the Air”:

Yes. Yes. So much yes.

I try to keep up on the travel news, too. My favorite national newspaper, The USA Today, even has an entire online section devoted to travel news, which helps. They let me know when the industry comes up with crazy ideas, like this seat configuration in which the aisle seat SLIDES OVER the middle seat to quote-unquote ease boarding.


Remember when they tried to convince us that saddle-like airplane seats would be comfortable, cheaper, and allow for more passengers?

Has anyone ever seen one of these in real life? Anyone? Bueller?

Didn’t think so.

The thing is, until wormhole transport is perfected, airline travel is going to suck. Whether you’re in first class or in last (um, I mean, “economy”), it’s going to take longer and be more crowded than you’d like. Suck it up and deal, man.

All this to say that while today is my 29th birthday, it is also the day on which I depart for two-and-a-half weeks of work-related international travel. You won’t be hearing from me for awhile. And I’m going to some “interesting” places, so please send your karmic goodwill. I’ll bring you back some sand!*

* Actual sand. Not code for anything.

October 4, 2012

October 4, 2012

Chuck E. Cheese's

We went to not one but TWO party supplies stores last weekend to get stuff for my upcoming Angry Birds-themed birthday party. Just in case you just inclined your head in sympathy at the desperation of my childless life, let me inform you that being able to throw themed birthday parties for yourself is actually just the tip of a FABULOUS iceberg.

Kids (and childless adults) these days have a lot to choose from, my friends. You got your superheroes, your cartoon characters, and your occupations (firefighter, princess, firefighter princess, etc.). You know what my birthday party theme was as a kid? “Birthday.” I got a couple of balloons and a cake. And I was happy.

Actually, the best birthday parties were always at Chuck E. Cheese’s. And if your mind just mentally filled in “where a kid can be a kid,” WE SHOULD TOTALLY BE FRIENDS. You had pizza, and games, and those freaky animatronic animals, and tokens, and tickets, and oh-if-only-adult-life-were-one-giant-round-at-Chuck-E.-Cheese’s. I occasionally still dream that I’m playing a game of skee ball. (Despite a complete lack of hand-eye coordination, I had to go with skee ball. I didn’t like the flashiness of the video games or the violence of the whack-a-mole.)

And the ball pit? THE BALL PIT? Dude. Duuuuude. Did you hear the rumor that one of the balls had a sticker on it, and that if you found that ball and turned it in, you’d get a prize? I’m trying to figure out if that was one of those urban legends of the 1990s or whether I was just punked repeatedly. Though that ball pit was probably 2 feet deep, it seemed like a veritable ocean back in the day. You didn’t want to dig too far down, though, because you were pretty sure someone had pooped in it at some point.

I read awhile back that Chuck was getting a makeover. Behold the horror:

You’re telling me that the one resistor against our society’s rampant march to obesity is a rat who lives in a giant pizza restaurant? Have you not seen Templeton’s song in “Charlotte’s Web”? Those little dudes love food almost as much as I do. Come. ON.

Plus I think kids now don’t get tickets; they get points loaded onto some sort of debit card. Where the fun in that? The tokens-for-tickets transaction was my generation’s introduction to economics. Now, we’re just enabling a cashless society. So thank you, Chuck E. Cheese, for bringing about the Mark of the Beast.

October 2, 2012

October 2, 2012


What with it being the 150th anniversary of the War of Northern Aggression and all, it’s the perfect time for us on the East Coast to get out and see the sights. By which I mean, to join a bus tour of senior citizens schlepping around Antietam on the last Saturday of September.

Coincidentally, this is exactly what I did last Saturday.

The weather was amazing. And after the 100 days of 100 degrees DC just went through (slight exaggeration? I WISH), that’s really saying something. Blue skies, foliage just starting to change…fabulous.

This thing started early, you guys. 0745 early. I realize that most of the seniors had already been up for 3-4 hours at that point, but your humble “young person” blogger was only semi-functional. I stayed awake long enough to ensure that the boxed lunches were loaded onto the tour bus, then I drifted off.

We stopped first at a cemetery in Alexandria that I had no idea even existed. Turns out there’s more to the area than Whole Foods. Crazy, right?

It’s hard to tell, but our tour guide was wearing that traveler clothing that has a ton of pockets yet rolls into a tiny pouch the size of, like, a can of tuna. I knew we were in good hands. Even after he handed out the purposed (did he mean “proposed”? I’ll never know) itinerary:

By about stop #13, several of the more elderly women in the group would refuse to get off the bus.

The battlefield, like others I’ve visited, turns out to be much bigger than you’d expect. Maybe it’s a product of my city upbringing, but I always imagine outdoor history taking place in a space the size of a backyard. MAYBE a park if it’s something big, like the signing of the Magna Carta. Then you spend most of a day driving to and tromping around different parts of one single battlefield and it’s a bit of a mindfreak.

Here, some pictures of the battlefield:

And a couple of our lunches:

By the time we got back at 1900, I was beat. (But not as much as the Confederacy, ZING.)

October 1, 2012

October 1, 2012

Do Your Duty

Election Day is coming up. You may have heard. Or, if you consume any sort of media, you may have been relentlessly bombarded with partisan ads from both sides every effing minute.

Just hypothetically speaking, of course.

Now, I’m a pretty hardcore advocate of voting, whether in a primary or a general election. I figure it’s the least I can do. (Also, if I should someday become well-known in the political arena, I want my voting record to be immaculate.)  Even with Virginia’s crazy computerized voting getup, the act itself takes just a few minutes.* And almost before you know it, you have participated in this glorious democratic republic of ours, etc. etc.

Here’s the thing, though: as much as I love the voting process, I loathe people. You know this. This blog is nothing if not a litany of complaints about people and ideas that irritate me. So in an election with projected high turnout, I come to a crossroads:

Major premise: I want other people to vote.
Minor premise: I don’t want other people’s voting to interfere with my voting.

That sound you hear is Aristotle blanking on the conclusion to the syllogism.

In Wisconsin, I had an easy solution: vote absentee by mail. Wisconsin is a state that allows for so-called “no excuse” absentee voting, wherein you just have to fill out the application form and the election gurus mail you a ballot. Easy, breezy, beautiful. I’m told that Oregon does all of its voting by mail. Love it. Virginia, of course, requires a lot more legwork and won’t let you vote absentee unless you are working and/or commuting for more than 11 hours on Election Day. Le sigh.

But, there IS hope. Virginia allows for in-person early voting, and one of the locations is my local public library. I’m going to try it this year—my first Presidential election in Virginia. The crowds at the midterms were bad enough; I shudder to think what these will be like.

Two important questions, though, for anyone who’s done this before: Do you still get a sticker? Do you still get candy?

Inquiring minds want to know.

* That’s what she said.