Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Oh Yeah, This Is What Calgary Looks Like From The Air

A New And Fantastic Waste Of Taxpayer Funds

I cannot believe this one.
So in the Atlanta airport, there are bathrooms. And in these bathrooms are sinks. But not just any sinks.

Yeah, they sing. But not just any song... it's damn 'Row Row Row Your Boat.' You wave your hands under the faucet, and in ten minutes when the stupid motion detector wakes up and realizes you're moving, water comes out and the sink starts singing to you.
And badly. Some of the sinks are male, some are female, and some are kids, but they all suck. Maybe my extensive one-show experience in musical theater has biased me, but if a piece of hardware is going to sing to me, I'd like it to sound like Lara Fabian. The sign touts the work involved in ensuring the voices sound like they're inside the plumbing, but I think maybe they should have taken a moment to realize that if the singing is crap, it's going to sound crap wherever it's coming from. And really, a round of this particular song is bad enough, but when it's out of sequence because it's coming from different sinks... oh. People actually recoil from these things.
Too much time + too much of other people's money = stuff like this.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Are You Guys Really Thinking About The Names Of These Snacks?

I mean, come on...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

SLC Punks

So there were a bunch of Sid Vicious types in the back of the plane today. Tight black jeans, frazzy hair, safety pins, Ramones T-shirts, the whole thing. They were a few shots short of a coma, and not a one of them sat like a human. Apparently you can measure how deeply a person suffers by how contorted they are in a plane seat. Anyway, they were all dead asleep when we landed, and I had to go wake them up. Wow drugs are bad. And they weren't wearing underwear... it's been said that nothing's worse than fat repairman crack, but I will debate that.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What, Indeed, Are The Odds?

The gate agents are the folks who control who gets on the plane. So in theory, they make sure families sit together and such. You may have noticed that I just said in theory... and I said it on purpose. I have not yet seen a family of over four members sit together. Thankfully, people are always willing to more around a bit. These gate agents also make sure that there are not more than two animals on the plane, which is the limit. Today there were two dogs on the boat, and everything was fine until a lady raised her hand and said she was allergic to dogs. Yup, they had put one of the dogs right next to her.
Some things are not funny when they happen, and only become funny later... but because I tend towards the sadistic, I thought that one was pretty funny right then.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Hey, Thanks!

The roommate and I had Thanksgiving one day late. She had already bought a turkey when she discovered that the company had sent each of us a certificate for a free one. We're up to our necks in pasty white dead birds. Here is what we came up with:

Not bad for a couple of first time turkey-cookers. We both fell asleep before we could do much damage, though... damn that airborne tryptophan!

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Ultimate In Modern Avionics Technology

This is the machine they use to do plane scheduling. Sweet dreams.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Some Aerial Photography For Ya

The galley service door (through which they service the galley) is opposite the door you get onto the plane through, and it has a small window that, if you crouch low enough to be within range of the carnivorous galley table, you can see cool things through. These things follow.

Downtown Salt Lake. That thing at the base of the Wasatch Mountains sure does look like a big white U, doesn't it? You'll probably read about me killing myself getting up there here soon.

The airport, on our way to a northern approach. From left to right: the hangar where we trained, the actual airport (the spiky parts are where the planes live), and the quagmire parking lot where I once spent two hours looking for my car. In the bottom left you can see the first hints of the Great Salt Lake.

And speaking of the GSL, here it is. It's huge, and its appearance varies from appealing family destination to frothing briny nightmare. I think this is Antelope Island. There are also inexplicably geometric shapes:

I don't know what they are, but they look pretty foul. Yes, I'm gonna go see them, but I'm not going to like it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Maiden Voyage

During training, the instructors were doubly busy preparing for the arrival of the new boat, the CRJ 900. This is a two-flight attendant, 70 seat monster, brimming with bells and whistles. We only have nine of them in the fleet, and though everyone wants to work them (because they are clean and the lavs don't smell like poo), it's frustrating because the galley is twice as large, arranged differently, and the few compartments that are the same house different things.
Today we got number ten, and yours truly helmed the first flight. We didn't break champagne over the nose, but some guy in first class dumped orange juice all over himself, so it was sorta the same thing. And in each galley, the tail number of the plane is etched into the cup compartment door (because it's hard to get out and check the number at 35,000 feet), and we got to do that. So now I'm an indelible part of aircraft N810's history.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The New Snack

Along with the Plane Cheesies are Plane Snacks, the graham cracker version. The Cheesies seem to be the favorite, because the alternate snack is always changing. Before the Plane Snacks were Plane Ranchies. They lasted about one month because, as I hear it, they tasted more like a ranch than ranch dressing.

Now the Snacks have fallen. Behold the new champion... Plane Cookies. Oatmeal Mint Chocolate Chip decadence. You might think that's way too much to be going on inside one cookie, but you would be wrong. I eat about seventeen hundred of these a day. I'm pretty sure that's a bad thing.

How The Mediocre Have Fallen

Behind the desk at one of the hotels I stayed in:

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Pilot Stories

Sitting around with guys who fly planes is fun because you get to hear the funny things they've seen. The co-pilot on my last trip said he knows a captain who wears a nametag that reads TED STRIKER. Email me if you don't know why that's funny. We also have three Captain Morgans, and a Captain Captain.
Another pilot tells a story about his first landing with passengers. In pilot-speak, you either 'grease it on' or 'pound it in' when landing, and this particular one he pounded in quite authoritatively. Said he had to check to see if he was still alive. The airport was built so that the concourse faces the cockpit of the parked plane, and one of the passengers stopped, put down his luggage, waited until both pilots were looking, and then gave them a double bird.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

So Good It's Illegal

There are two reasons I have decided to like Burbank, and the other one is NYPD Pizza.

Inside it's just like any other restaurant, but as you can see, the decor is amusing.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Posted at the Burbank Airport, and from the 'You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up' Files:

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Quest For The M

Missoula, Montana is a bustling college town set in a valley. The airport is nestled right at the base of a mountain. Landings there are always exciting, because the pilots have to use what they call 'high performance maneuvering;' if they don't dive hard enough, they'll miss the airport completely. My first landing there was the first time it actually occurred to me to call the pilots and ask if there was anything wrong with the plane.

There is also, as you can see, a mountain with a big M on it. Stands for Missoula. Some college kids made it out of rocks back where all there was to do was wear knickers and roll hoops with sticks like in the woodcuts, and then in the sixties, more college kids remade it out of concrete. Apparently it's the thing to do in college towns with mountains. We have a big U in Salt Lake... not sure what that one stands for. Anyway, I got into Missoula with plenty of daylight left, and it had been a while since my last quest, so I decided to go for the M.
It kicked my ass. See that zig-zag line leading up to it from the right? That's a two-foot-wide road, and the M itself is a hundred feet across. I made the first two zigs with vim, but after that, I had to stop after each one. There were people jogging this thing. Not this flatlander. Took half an hour, but I made it. This is me on the lower left leg. This isn't just a cool-guy pose... I'm lying down because I couldn't stand up.

After I could see anything but black stars again, I noticed there was more mountain. And I was stupid enough to keep going. Didn't make it to the actual top... you know, I have to save something for next time I'm there. But I got up high enough to feel like I really climbed a mountain. See what you think.

It looks like I'm peeing, but I'm really not.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Adventures In The Front Office

The co-pilot had to take the walk of shame today, and so I got to go into the front office again, which is what the pilots sometimes call the flight deck. Brought the camera this time. While I was up there, another plane crossed over us, about a thousand feet up. Got this photo. You always see contrails from Earth, but you never see them actually getting created:

It was like watching someone color with an ice crayon. I marvelled at that for a while, and then had to go back and put some drinks into passengers.
A few flights later, the pilots called me and said there was something I had to come up and see:

Another thing you can't explain in words or express in digital photography. Seeing a sunset is one thing, but being up high enough to see the entire seventeen miles of sunset is an entire other thing. I don't know if you've ever sat and watched the sun set, but it only takes about 60 seconds for it to disappear completely, and so I mentioned how lucky it was that I happened to be free to watch at that exact moment. The pilots laughed, saying that it had been setting for two hours; they had been chasing this sunset the entire flight.
I'm telling you, you guys are missing it back there.

Friday, November 03, 2006


Another funny thing I forgot to mention:
Flight attendant pants are those high-waisted things that people like police, military, and UPS drivers wear, and as such, when you crouch down wearing them, the waistband pokes out in the back. This, by itself, is not funny.
I previously mentioned that there is a seldom-used table in the galley (yeah, that one I put nuclear infant ass on that time). It stows vertically on the bulkhead across from all the compartments in the galley, so that the bottom edge is about waist high if you happen to be crouching. This, by itself, is not funny either, but I'll bet you can see where this is going.
When you crouch down in the galley to get something out of a compartment, forget the placement of the two aforementioned things, and stand back up again, the bottom edge of the galley table hooks your waistband and throws you back down so viciously that your feet come entirely out from under you and you end up pounded onto the galley floor, wondering what the hell happened to you. I've done that so hard that it actually made me dizzy, and a few times someone in the first row leaned forward to see what that loud noise was.

Red Bed

Those observant among you will remember that my air mattress has a black comforter but red sheets and pillowcases. Now, thanks to the marvels of antiquated technology (here I refer to my addled mind and not the washing machine), I now have some pink socks and undershirts. Damn... I went through college... I should have known better!

Two Things

Thing 1: Ever heard of D4? That's the gear I have here instead of D in the new car. Also have D3, 2, and 1. I suspect it has something to so with being in a mountain town, where you have to stay in a low gear going up grades. The salesman warned me to shift into a lower gear going down the mountains, too, instead of riding the brakes. They'll melt right to the tires, he said. Yikes.
Thing 2: I thought the vista from the driver's seat was a little expansive, and I was right... there's no inspection sticker in the lower left corner of the windshield. I thought I had gotten rooked at the dealership at first, but then as I drove around today, I saw that no one had one. Wierd! Is this a strange Utah thing? Or would everyone else think it's a strange Louisiana thing to plaster our motor vehicle's clean laundry all over the windshield for all to see? Details as I get 'em.

And OH Yeah, The Library

The observant among you will have noticed there's been a link to the Salt Lake City Public Library over there on the right for a while now. I've been there. But I haven't had photograhic proof till just now, and so now at long last you will understand why there is a link to something as mundane as a house full of books.

Quite a house, huh? This place is five stories tall, and from the architecture, one can clearly see why it's won Best Library four years in a row (thought once you win it once, wouldn't you naturally win it again the next year? Not sure how that works). Four fireplaces in reading nooks on every floor, art galleries, cybercafes, and the requisite zillions of books. The strange cloud I'm looking at in the picture is actually a mid-air sculpture of a human head, wrought of tiny hanging books on which sit butterflies whose wings flap slowly and bear writing in different languages (don't try to diagram that last sentence... you'll only hurt yourself).
And yes, there are only four floors in that picture. Stop being observant. It's five if you include the rooftop terrace at which you can eat the lunch you bought in any one of the shops down there on the first floor.

What you're seeing here is the north section of Salt Lake City, nestled at the base of the Wasatch Mountains. It's an awesome view, and in fact, the first time I saw it, I spent a few minutes trying to fit the enormity of it into my tiny flat-land Louisiana mind.
I am officially a card-carrying member of this Library now, since I have a local address. The first book I borrowed was Stephen King's Cell (which is about cellphones turning the world into zombies), and the first thing I did after borrowing said book was call someone on my cellphone to tell them what I did.
That's right... I live on the edge.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The New Ship

So far I've been driving my roommate's car around. My old boat was a great one, but I didn't want to take the chance of exploding it on the trip from LA to UT. Been on a quest for a used Honda for the last few weeks, because I used to sell those things and know that they're nigh-bulletproof.
Well, last night, I put another quest to bed.

The 1998 Honda Accord LX. There is no substitute.
There is also no limit to the fear that goes with owing more money than I actually have. Yeah yeah, I know... you're all screaming, "Shut up, Phil, you're a weenie. I owe seven million on a ranch house in the Bronx!" But that's you... this is my first car note. And also, I am a weenie.
Boy does it drive good though. And I don't know if that's because it's a Honda, or if I'm used to driving thirty-year-old VWs, but I'm liking the precision handling (the steering wheel works), the dynamic braking system (the car seems to stop pretty soon after I tell it to), the explosive stereo system (it has one), and most of all, it's ALL ONE COLOR!
She'll have a name soon. I name cars like I name cats... they stay undesignated until they do something cool or stupid, and then they're branded.