Friday, April 27, 2007

Movin' Out

I've survived seven months in this apartment, and in celebration, I'm leaving. I've selected another apartment (about which you shall hear later), and today I dragged everything I own into it. May Rose, one of the Unholy Six and my good friend, assisted. She packed the kitchen and I packed the technology. It was good weather for carrying heavy things... spring is beautiful here. And yes, I felt a twinge as I locked the place for the last time, but hey... spend seven months on a dirt hill and it becomes your dirt hill.
Next: the new place!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sunset Over Antelope Island

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bad Drinks, Salt From A Stranger, And A Big Boat

35th state: Virginia. Norfolk is where we landed, and we did so in enough time to head out for some nightlife. Tom, the first officer, led the way to a bar where they were having a bartending competition. Word was that there were bartenders present from three states, so for a moment it seemed like there was gonna be a good show. That moment lasted until the competition started. The task at hand was a margarita, and although there were certain conditions to fulfill, there was a lot of freedom allowed... and it was mostly ignored by drunk bartender girls whose big move was to lick the glass to put on the salt and steal a shot of tequila from the bottle. Every other contestant accidentally threw the shaker across the room and had to strain the ice with their hands. It was an expertise-free show, but it was entertaining.
Next day I went exploring. The captain, Jeri, was originally from Norfolk, and so she pointed me towards downtown. Lots of construction, lots of old-style buildings. Some parts of it looked a little like New Orleans. Found a mall, and was acosted by an Israeli girl who put Dead Sea salt on my hands at a booth. A little awkward having a stranger play with your hands, but man were my hands smooth after that. Good thing I live by a big salty lake.
Further down I found a big gray boat. Turned out to be the USS Wisconsin, and it was right outside the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. I didn't have time to go in, but that's on the list for next time.
And in case you didn't catch it, yes, I was flying with Tom and Jeri.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

On My Mind

Finally get to check Georgia off on the WTHIB Map. I've been through Georgia, of course, being from the South and all, but this is the first time I've actually gotten to walk around on my own. Neat place. There was a diner a few blocks from the hotel that had the best pork tenderloin ever. And then a few other blocks away, there was a beach hut-style restaurant that had crawfish. That didn't turn out so well. I don't know what it is, but something happens between Louisiana and Georgia, and once that thing happens, your crawfish suck. No spices. Let me reiterate: no spices. I, for the first time in my life, tasted crawfish. They kind of taste like shoe.
I gotta make it back home before crawfish boil season is over.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

And You Think YOUR Job Is Bad...

Sometimes we hit a bird. And somebody has to wipe it off.

The Medium-Sized Apple

I have now been to New York. The state, not the city. Buffalo is where I went. It looked a lot like Louisiana. I hear there are better places in NY to go. And when I go there, you'll get a longer entry.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Some college pals of mine settled in Minneapolis after Katrina by way of Alaska (it's a long story), and they were at the airport when I landed, ready to make trouble. First up was the Mall Of America, which is only slightly less big than that Mall of the Universe in Edmonton. Here, Nick gestures in a contemporary way while Clarence (aka Bup) stares and Kat moves faster than the lens.
It should be noted here that 'man bags' are the thing in Minneapolis. Displayed prominently here by both Nick and Bup, they're like purses for men. Bup explains that since there's public transportation, you have to carry your office with you, but I think it may be more sinister than that. It should also be noted that this Bup is the same Bup that's in the Fellow Bloggers list over there on the right, and if you want to know more about this man, you know where to go.
Next up was the Guthrie Theater. This place was developed as an alternative to Broadway sometime in the sixties, and several other cities did the same thing when they saw how well it worked out. The original theater had recently been torn down and rebuilt in spectacular fashion on a new site overlooking the Mississippi, and my three friends, actors all, gave me the tour. Wonderful place. Nothing's as grand as a theater build by people who have their minds put to it. Here, Nick points down through a skylight in a fourth floor overhang. The glass is all yellow, hence the jaundice. That's the Mississippi in the background there.

We spent the next several hours lost in downtown Minneapolis. I did get some great pictures though.

A nifty thing they do here is connect all the buildings through skyways. You can literally get from anywhere to anywhere else downtown without going outside. It's a great idea for a place as cold as Minneapolis. What I found amusing is that they build the skyway first and then the building, and so sometimes you get this:

After that, the Sculpture Garden. This is an area right outside of the Walker Art Center, and it would have been a great walk if people hadn't left all this art out everywhere.

Minneapolis is now done.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Things I Wish I Could Say

OK, you knew this entry was coming, too.
Actually, it's mistitled, because I don't have a list yet... there's only one thing.

PHIL (having announced snack choices previously): What can I get you for a snack?
DUMB: Uh, what do we have?
PHIL: A jackass who doesn't listen!

Seriously. I know the intercom is kinda drive-thru, but today, the guy in the aisle seat asked me that, and then after I was done reiterating, the lady in the window seat next to him asked me that. And she wasn't iPodded... she was looking right at me.
And then there was this pea under my stack of mattresses at home... and it, like, really hurt and stuff...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Welcome To The Carribbean, Love

So this morning they gave me the paperwork as I was getting on the plane. It was morning and I was too lazy to put the paperwork down before I put my luggage into the overhead bin, so I had this crumpled wad of official FAA documentation in the same fist as my small bag. As I reached up with that hand to open the bin, the corner of one of the pages skated off the side of my face and inflicted upon me the worst paper cut anyone has ever had. I mean, ever. I thought I was dead. I screamed like a little child and ran into the lav to see if my eye was still there. Luckily, it didn't hit bone, but there it was, a thin pink line right down the right side of my face, from crown to jaw. It's gone now, lamentably... I was really hoping to get a good picture to show you.
This job is dangerous.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Missoula Treaty Of Ingrammaticy

I'd actually seen this misspelled sign on my previous trips to Missoula, Montana, but only today did I have to time to get out and capture it. It was on an old service station, and I remembered it as being just down the street from the hotel (we'd passed it on the way to the airport in the AM). It wasn't. Took a while to find, but Missoula is actually a neat little town, and so it turned into a pleasant scenic tour. Now I've seen misspelled signs before, but what sets this one apart is that this one is carved in stone:

This is not a case of 'the g fell off.' That's an inch deep there. They meant to do that. I've thought of a few possible reasons. The design of the building suggests maybe the forties or fifties, and perhaps 'alignment' was really spelled like that way back then, not having yet evolved the 'g'. Maybe there was supposed to be a space after the 'a,' meaning that at one point there was a single linement available (though it suggests a lack of foresight to carve that into the front of the building). However, recently uncovered by scientists is that 'alinement' is (or was, back in the fifties) actually a word. Means a group involved in a treaty or pact. So what I think we really have here is an unassuming-looking service station that was really a front for pact-making. Or maybe treaties. And no wonder it got shut down... you couldn't just run out front and take down the sign when the coppers pulled up.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Rainclouds Over SLC

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Really Cool Mailbox

Muppets in Montana

Spent the night in Helena, which is the capital of Montana. It became the capital when Lewis and Clark discovered this building there in 1412:

Another building in this town is Bert & Ernie's. In addition to having little historical significance, Bert & Ernie's also serves food. I ate a good burger there. I did notice, however, that the clientele was not limited to denizens of Sesame Street or muppets. There were a great deal of Looney Tunes characters eating there, and I think I saw a dalmation at the bar.

There is also a cool church. According to the sign out front, the Cathedral of Saint Helena was either built in 1908, or that's its street address. I can't tell you any more than that, because all the doors were locked.

There is also a street with a funny name.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Hey, That's Mine!

And when we approach from the west, we pass by the Kennecott Copper Mine. Trouble is, we usually bank towards the airport at the exact moment that we pass it, and that tips my vantange point up, so all I could get was pictures of sky. But on this last pass, however, I was crafty (well, lucky) enough to have camera, placement, and opportunity, so here you go:

I like the cool stair-step things. I think that's strip mining, which is supposed to be terrible for the environment. But hey, it looks cool. This place is supposed to be open for tours. Several flight attendants have said that they've been on this supposed tour. They all mention trucks with really big tires. I guess that if all they take from this tour is really big tires, then the place must really be a hole in the ground.

I Can See My House From Here

When we make a southern approach to the airport in Salt Lake, we scrape along the city just above I-215, and this provides ample time to observe the place from orbit. I have become adept at picking out various landmarks while crouched in the galley service door, and among these is my apartment complex.

That there, indicated by the indicator, is, by all indications, the building in which I live, correcting for parallax and allowing a margin of error factored at less than +/- 0.002% (I had to use an astrolabe, which is technically used for finding stars and not apartment buildings).
I think that's a cool indicator, by the way. I hand drew it in some paint program. I think I'll use it to indicate some other things in future entries.

Still No Damn Presidents, But Look At This

Woke up this morning in Rapid City, South Dakota... what the locals call 'Rapid.' This is the place I have repeatedly not seen Mount Rushmore. However, as I was looking out the window this morning, I did see this:
Yup, it's a dinosaur. The observant among you (and now all of you, now that I point it out) will actually see three dinosaurs (two are fighting behind that tree to the right, but I don't know what about). I believe this is a rare sighting of the Sinclairosaur, noted by scientists for its exclusive diet of crude oil and lousy gas mileage.
Personally, I think three dinosaurs is cooler than four presidents.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

We Don't Need No Water

As I was headed to work today, I saw that the fire brigade was at their old tricks again. There is a big Playskool half-airplane out next to the airport, and the fire department routinely puts it on fire and then puts it back out again for training purposes. The placement next to the airport is convenient, because they all see where the airport is while they're training to put out airport fires. It's also unfortunate, because the mile-high plume of smoke looks like it's coming directly from the airport. The first time we all saw it on our way to class, we thought, "Hey look, did somebody crash?" And then when we started work, every time they set the thing on fire, we had to slog through waves of travelers gaping through windows and saying, "Hey look, did somebody crash?"

This is the aforementioned smoke plume. I noticed that as the smoke gets high enough, it seems to become cloud. Or maybe it's the oldest part of the plume and has gone gray.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Cheap Movies For Impatient Fast Food Eaters

And as was wheeling around to order, I saw another thing I had not shown you:

Yup... while you're in line waiting for your already halved wait time to expire, you can rent a movie. At McDonalds. I guess it's a good idea and all, but I just don't have that much of a problem occupying myself in line at the drive-thru. Worst comes to worst, I can always turn on the windshield wipers and watch them. I mean, they're cool.

Fast Food For Impatient People

I had actually seen this long before now, but I realized today as I pulled into McDonald's that you hadn't, and so here's a picture:

What that is is two drive-thru lanes. There's only one pick-up lane, so they must use some complicated integration method to figure out who's who at the window (or just screw it up even harder than they usually do).
As a post script here to indicate how my life works, you can see how many people were in line when I took this picture. By the time I had wheeled around to order, there were three cars in each lane.

One Of The Reasons I'm Getting Out Of Here

The lease at this apartment complex is up at the end of this month, and I'm heading out for greener pastures. Several reasons. One is that the place is too small (even though Katy just moved out last month... so if it's too small for one person, you can only imagine the squalor the both of us were living in). Another is that there is approximately seven minutes of hot water for a shower (leaving me to howl in fury at the showerhead for the last two minutes). Yet another is that the walls are thick enough to keep out the treble frequencies of the crappy Tejano music all the neighbors play, but not the bass, and so there are hours-long barrages of this circus-like BOMP bomp BOMP bomp BOMP bomp BOMP bomp. Yet another of these reasons is that apparently lots of guys carpool to work from here, and the morons who drive can't seem to get out and knock to get the riders awake, so they just lean on the horn at four AM till the sleeping princes arise (there's a different version of this game they all play in the evenings where they honk at each other from different sides of the complex... a little like a gangland shootout for people what can't afford stolen guns). And yet another is that there are no washer/dryer hookups here, forcing me to use the on-premises laundromat, and though that is pain enough, it leads me to the titular reason... the guy I met down there today.
I go in to check on my laundry, which was half dry. This rotund fellow with squinty eyes is sitting on the bench next to the snack machine (which has bars on it, which should tell you everything you may not have inferred about this complex already). When he sees me rearranging my clothes in different dryers (some of them work, sometimes), he points at me and says something. His inflection suggested that he meant something like, 'Hey, you know if you use that dryer, it'll work better.' But what he actually said was, "A boi boi a ha munna munna borgyl voopy ah ha ha ha."
Stunned, I say, "What?"
Vehemently, he repeats himself. "A boi boi a ha munna munna borgyl voopy ah ha ha ha!" And then he points again.
At this juncture, I realize no sense will pass between us, and I hurry up and finish the dryer game. On the way out, he waves and says, "A gor boi boi!"
I have got to get out of here.


My inflatable mattress has exploded. Now I have to re-inflate it every night before I go to bed. Thing is, the plastic hook that holds the battery door shut on the little auto-inflater machine snapped off the first time I opened it, and so now I'm reduced to lung power. Have you ever blown up a queen-size inflatable mattress? I have, and I've got one word to say about it... hyperventilation coma.
The good news is, I'm trying to go to sleep anyway. And more than half the time I hit the mattress on the way down.


... is here. It's green, just like it was back home. I hear it's about a week long, just like it was back home.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

DON'T Call Me Junior

31st state: Indiana. I have to admit that I didn't leave the hotel. A) it was way cold, b) I was a little under the weather, and c) when pressed about what there was fun to do in Fort Wayne, the gate agent smirked and shook her head. I'm going there again in a few weeks, and I'll head out then in the name of exploration.

Camping In Row Three

That aforementioned line of thunderstorms (referred to as TS by those in the industry) resulted in something called a ground stop in Chicago just after we got there, and that's exactly what it sounds like. You might not have ever thought of it before, but when you're stranded at the airport, so are we. But you're in a terminal, with a lot of expensive food, expensive drinks, and Oprah. We're still on the plane. It got a little foggy after the first three hours, but I think we spent six hours on the plane. It wasn't all that bad, really. Luckily we had a cold wind outside the open door, which gave us cool air inside by the time it got to us. Someone had been considerate enough to forget Tyrannosaur Canyon in one of the overhead bins, and so I whomped through that. Ate a lot of pretzels. Drank some Pepsi. The only hard part was stepping over the pilots, who were stretched out over the aisle, and trying not to wake them up as I tip-toed to the lav.
It's a life of glory.


Today we had a flight going to Chicago, and there was a line of thunderstorms that denied us approach. From Chicago we were going to Springfield, and so we cut straight there in a strategic move known as the ferry flight, wherein you 'ferry' the plane with no passengers aboard. The important part here is that, during a ferry flight, the flight attendant can ride in the third seat in the flight deck.
That's right... after seven months, I've finally gotten to see life in the front office.
First off, the pilots go through a ridiculous checklist, and at ridiculous speed. It makes you feel safe and in danger all at the same time. Captain calls out queries, and the first officer calls back "Check!" and sometimes that process reverses. Very fast. Immense amount of information. I think I heard 'atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed' in there somewhere. When they got to seatbelts, the captain said, "Check left!" and the FO said, "Check right!" and then they both looked at me.
"... Check center?" I offered. And it must have been right, because they went on.
A takeoff is, like Huey Lewis said, something everyone should see. The runway is huge, and it goes on forever. It's like being the only car on a seventy-two-lane highway. We didn't hardly use any of it, because we were missing fifty people and their baggage, but the magic is leaving the ground; there's a hell of a lot of grandeur in throwing several tons of metal aircraft at the air and having it stay there through aeronautical design, piloting skills, and sheer mortal arrogance.
And you get there quick. We were up to ten thousand feet in maybe a minute. The pilots were in contact with air traffic control (today's acronym, ATC) at this point, and they had the speaker turned up so I could hear. The only time you really ever hear chatter like that is in crash videos on 20/20, and so that part of the experience was a little spooky. I imagined everything I said out loud might one day be seen in subtitles superimposed over a black and white picture of our crew:

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Hey, that's a cool button--
PILOT: Shut up, kid.
FLIGHT ATTENDANT: What if I were to just--
(Thirty seven seconds of silence. Transponder signal vanishes at 13:24:07Z)

Another interesting thing was seeing the radar screen translate to the real weather patterns outside. There would be a green comma shape on the radar, and in front of us a giant three-dimensional punctuational plume. In addition to being able to fly, pilots are also consummate weathermen as well, and these guys would point out not only where the danger spots were, but where they would be by the time we got to them. We trucked through an alley of thunderclouds (the pilot called it 'shooting the gap') in order to avoid an area of seriously bad weather, and it was neat to see the clouds reach out for us.
Near Chicago, it became a blue field of planes. You could see them as diamonds on the radar, with their respective altitude under them. A Southwest plane crossed 2000 feet above us, and I could read the tail logo.
Landing was also pretty thrilling. From the cabin, it seems like you come in pretty level and put both wheels down simultaneously, but from up front, it's a little different. You go right at the runway. I was too amazed to panic. And then the actual landing, shaky and improvisational, reminded me that it's not some automated process; the FO next to me guided the plane safely onto the hard concrete runway just like he does every day, because he knows how to.
After we had stopped, I was about to say something dorky like, "That was amazing!" when the pilot yawned and mumbled, "OK, I'll take the next leg." Guess that's just life as usual for flyboys.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Like A Felon

The inserts in my fabulously expensive Florsheims looked like dog toys, so I ditched 'em and got ahold of some of those gel ones. Pretty cool. A little like squirting toothpaste in your shoes. I'm not going to tell you how I know what that feels like. And now, when someone asks me if I'm gellin', I can answer confidently.
A word about Florsheims: don't buy them if you're a flight attendant. Flight crews don't take off shoes to go through security at the airport, unless they set off the metal detector. Apparently Florsheims are so expensive and luxurious that they're made of steel. That results in the pilots walking through the detector with their twenty dollar hush puppies, me de-shoeing, then hopping after the pilots all the way to the gate. The popular flight attendant shoe is something called a Dansko, and it's supposed to be like a Swedish massage the whole time you wear it. But it's a clog. They have a male version, supposedly, but it's still a clog. I'm already perilously close to the stereotype line in this career field... I ain't doin' it.