Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I think sometime back while I was in training, I mentioned that they had a big black Playskool plane that they set on fire now and then to a) train fireman and b) panic people in the airport. Managed to catch this photo:

And I barely caught it... the blaze was out in seconds. With these guys on duty, I feel safer inside a burning plane.

That makes absolutely no sense for a flight attendant to say.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Lost In Albany, With Donuts

Finally made it to a city in New York that wasn't Buffalo. My old high school friend Valerie (wait, she's not old, she's an old friend... from high school... OK, never mind, she's my friend Valerie) moved up there just recently, and we made plans to make plans once I got there. There was only one thing standing in the way, and that was the Albany Hotel Room Numbering System.
I'd like to say, "Here's how the AHRNS works," but I never damn figured it out. I was in room 2209. Since there were not 22 floors, I figured the second floor would contain room 2209. Nope. Second floor was the 200s. Nary a thousand on it. The front desk was actually on the side of the hotel, so I figured it would be quicker to just keep looking than to go way over there and ask. Turns out there was an addition to the hotel way in the back that had thousands in it. Again, not 22 floors, so I started on floor two. 1900s. No really. I'm not a student of logic, but I can think of absolutely no connection between 2 and 19. No reason a hotel builder would say, "Now, how should we number the rooms on the second floor in the other wing... I know, 1900s!" At that point, I was tempted to go all the way up and ask at the side desk, but some guy noticed me fuming in the elevator and volunteered that the 2000s were definitely up there. At that point, I reasoned second floor=19, fifth floor=22. Nope. 2300s. So down there somewhere, I think, was an A and B version of the same thousand. Makes as much sense as anything else did in that kooky place. The only thing that did make sense was that 2209 was indeed on the fourth floor, which was one floor down from the 2300s.
Valerie wisely met me at the side desk, and we cruised Albany. Looked a lot like Austin. One thing I noted immediately was the profusion of Dunkin' Donuts. There was one of those things in Baton Rouge in the eighties, and as soon as I got old enough to have my own car and go there by myself, it closed. Later, in basic training, the sudden and pervasive need for a chocolate creme-filled DD donut seized me with a lightning fist, and I had to live with that bit of sand in my shell for one whole year, as I got stationed in California, where they have drugs, prostitutes, Austrian actor/governors but no Dunkin' Donutses. So naturally, the first DD I saw in Albany stuck out.
As did the second. And third. By the time I counted fifteen, I began to suspect something was up. Valerie phrased it succinctly: "There's a lot of Dunkin' Donuts up here in Albany."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Phil Admits To Being a Historical Revisionist

No, you're not crazy. Yes, I back date entries. Appeals to my type-A sensibilities.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Atlanta Airport From Way Up

Friday, May 18, 2007

And Oh Yeah, A Dead Dinosaur

This thing is in the Pittsburgh Airport. I read recently that they found some flash-frozen tyrannosaur flesh and got to analyze it. Its closest living relative is a chicken. Kinda ruins the majesty when you imagine this multi-ton beast in the bread pan pickin' out dough instead of chasing Jeff Goldblum.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Food For Airplane Workers

Sometimes you have time to get off the plane and eat food between trips. Sometimes you're on the plane for sixteen hours and do not have this time. And for those times, there are crew meals.

When you hit the ground and all your passengers are off, you have to fill out a little sheet to order all the things you used on the flight, like drinks, ice, trash bags, and the like. Crew meals are one of the things you can order. The commissary people open the galley service door and grab that sheet (if you're in SLC, chances are it's a big Pacific Islander [there's a big concentration of them here... I suppose that if you hated growing up on an island, the furthest from that you could get is a desert]) and bring you the stuff, and in that stuff is a crew meal if you're lucky, because they run out a lot.

There have been three kinds since I've worked here. This is the green one. You can see that the stuff in this one is pretty good. That cheese there is peppercorn parmesan, and I'd buy it in a store if I saw it. The Kettle Classics are a cousin of the Stoned Classics from way back in this blog (those came out of the red crew meal). The applesauce is pretty good if you put a packet of coffee sugar in it. And one word... Milano.
I can eat everything that's in this one. The yellow one, though... a few times I ate just the napkin out of that one.

Monday, May 14, 2007


You may have noticed that I'm up to 36 over there on the WTHIB Map. Pennsylvania is what I've added, in the form of Pittburgh. The hotel is out at the corner of No Street and Where Drive, and both times I've been there, it's been the end of a four or five day trip, and when you're that far along you're less interested in going out to see the place and more interested in sleep. That said, I did see a few things:
Right outside the hotel is a hole, and in this hole lives an animal. I think it's a gopher. He had tiny buck teeth and he eyed me suspiciously as I tromped past his hole.
On the other side of this hole is Primanti Bros. It's a sandwich place whose claim to fame is Pittsburgh-style sandwiches (figure that, huh?), and that style is to put fries and cole slaw on the sandwich. I am not a friend of cole slaw, so I got it on the side at the behest of the other flight attendant, who was a friend of it. Or so she thought. Instead of that vile mayonnaise base that's normally there, they used oil in it.
But a roast beef sandwich with fries on it is good. I mean, you're going to eat both, so why eat them separately?
Also, Pittsburgh is green in the spring. Actually quite beautiful. They put houses on the hills between the trees and it looks like a nice place to live. That is, if you can stand that cole slaw.

Friday, May 11, 2007

201, Baby!

You know how you create a plan, and you fine tune this plan, and you know you have a deadline and a certain moment to execute said plan, and you lie in wait for the perfect moment to strike, all the while focusing on focusing on your plan and the time to execute it, and then suddenly you realize that while you were focusing, the perfect moment bumped into you, said, "Excuse me," loudly, and slipped past you? Well, that's why this entry is celebrating the 201st post and not an even two hundred. Damn.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Niagara Niagara

Toronto. After a valiant attempt to defeat that Molson hangover, we piled in the captain's rental and headed out to Niagara Falls. It's about two hours drive from Toronto, but we had a secret weapon... a GPS device. I want one. Not only does it tell you where to go, it's Nicole Kidman. The thing talks like an Aussie. And when you make a wrong turn, it calculates a new path based on your screwup. Of course, it tells you when it does this, and so it got to where we would all groan when the thing said, "Recalculating!"

Niagara Falls is a lot of water going over a large precipice. I knew this going in, but DAYOM. That's a lot of water, and it makes a lot of noise. It also throws a lot of mist in the air that doesn't ever dissipate. Also, there are a lot of seagulls. I think this is like New York for seagulls... once you're here, you've made it. There was also an amazingly thick gray material covering a lot of the rocks there that I strongly suspect was bird poo.
Sometime in the thirties, they blasted a tunnel under the falls, and now it's a tourist attraction called Journey Behind The Falls. They take you down a ten-story elevator and give you a yellow rain slicker, and then you get to fool around in a thundering underground tunnel. Two of the three paths open up right behind the falls, which you might think sounds cool. I thought that. But if you're behind a waterfall, all you can see is falling water, and so for all I knew, I might have been in a sewer pipe in Mexico. Here it is. Note the lame.
The third path was better. It opened onto a balcony at water's edge, just aside the falls. Again, loud. And you get fairly drenched, but that's OK... you're getting drenched by a big Canadian waterfall.

Down here were photos of what the place looks like when they light it up at night. Gonna have to go back and see that.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Toronto By Night

I had been to Toronto once before, when I took 810 out for its inaugural run. While I was there that time, I strolled a distance of maybe two hundred steps away from the hotel. This time, the captain rented a car, and we all jumped in and struck deep into downtown.

Toronto is made of glass, as shown here. We walked around and observed various things before settling into a jazz bar called the Rex Hotel, where we made the aquaintance of Swing Rosie.

They're a local female three-part harmony swing group, and they are fantastic. Ella Fitzgerald, The Andrews Sisters, all that kind of thing. Amazing to me how a particular style of singing can defy your eyes; visually, Swing Rosie is three ladies in modern clothes in the 21st century, but aurally they are three Rosie Riveters singing their boys home from the war. That is, of course, when they stick to traditional pieces... once they broke into some Oasis, and for their last song they pulled out some cleverly arranged AC/DC.
Here I also discovered that Molson gives me a headache. Probably my fault for drinking so much of it...

Monday, May 07, 2007

Bonsai Report #3: Requiem

The Bonsai project is at an end. The jig is up.
The kit came with a small bag of seeds, and so it was a war of attrition from the start. Every time I came home from a trip, I'd eye the small pot, and when I saw no progress from the two seeds inside, I would declare them unfit for duty and carbon freeze two more recruits. It is my unfortunate task to announce that the last two soldiers have not become bonsai sprouts.
Maybe I'll get one that's already born and see what I can do with that.

Why The HELL Didn't I Think Of This

Experienced theater for the first time in Salt Lake, and what better for an inaugural show than The One Man Star Wars Trilogy. A Canadian named Charles Ross, after having seen the movies almost as many times as I have, put together a one-man show wherein he performs the entire trilogy in one hour, and he's been doing it to such acclaim that I'd read about it on the internet. So when I heard on the radio that he was in SLC, I bought tickets that day.
This is not one of those shows that you can go into not knowing anything about Star Wars... if that's the case, all you'll see is a guy in a jumpsuit flapping around, yelling, and singing. But if you're a die-hard fan, you'll see that this guy is good, and you'll see it from the moment he spits into the microphone for the drum roll at the beginning of the 20th Century Fox logo. He's a dead-on mimic, and makes the characters both instantly identifiable and slightly stupid where appropriate (which, even as a hardcore fan, I admit is almost constantly). While showing a love of the mythos, he asks questions we all asked, like: where do those yellow words at the beginning come from? Is Vader black or white? Where the hell did Mark Hamill go? And why does Luke keep kissing his sister, and why is it such a feat that he guesses who she is if she's the only female in the movies? And he's just as good with the music too... some of the parts where he performs just the soundtrack were funnier than the dialogue.
At one point during the show, some miscreant's cellphone rang, and he worked it into a conversation with R2-D2 about how no one uses cellphones in the future anymore.
If you're a fan, and this show comes to a galaxy near you, go you must. It is your destiny.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Also, A Mortally Wounded Plant

That plant I hung out on the balcony? Yeah, I shouldn't have done that. It's inside now, recovering from both my spectacular botanical blunder and the emergency surgery I performed on it. I hope it survives.

Apartment Of Eternal Stench

I had been in the new apartment long enough to put down my stuff , hang my plant on the balcony, and sleep. Then I had to blast off for wherever it was I just went. Now I've been here for a day, and I have noticed several things, foremost of which is the foremost thing.
It reeks.
The first time I ran the dishwasher, the disposal unit started coughing up wet cigarrette butts. That, along with the random burn marks in the place (as if some moron went around snuffing out cigarrettes on counters, in the sink, in the toilet bowl, on the walls, blinds, and showerhead), led me to surmise that a smoker lived here before me. How I always always end up on the inconsiderate side of a smoker is beyond me. And what I think happened is that they people who cleaned the apartment just used three times the amount of carpet cleaning chemical in a didn't-work-at-all effort to cover the smoke smell, instead of doing the right thing, which is of course to tear up the carpet, roll the smoker up in the carpet, and burn them both. So now it smells like a meth lab and a college bar in my new apartment. I've had the windows open since I've been home, and now it's getting to be a vague stink that mounts concentrated attacks randomly, like there's a ghost made of nicotine that I sometimes walk through.
I'll tell you more about the place when maintenance drops by and makes it worth talking about.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Preoccupied By Other Attentions

There is a part of the pre-taxi announcement that says you cannot be in an exit row if you are "preoccupied with other attentions." This announcement is four paragraphs long, and there are as many opportunities to be interrupted during it as there are things that may interrupt. Pilots, gate agents, ground crew, some jerk in the front row that somehow hasn't noticed you're speaking over an INTERCOM and wants a pillow right now. However, I have noticed that none of these things will interrupt you EXCEPT while you're saying that line about 'other attentions.' It just amuses me in a detached sort of way how much of a jackass I must look like when I have to halt halfway through telling people to pay attention in order to pay attention to something else.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Chicago From Orbit

Here's Bug In Your Eye!

As you might infer from the title of this entry, on the way home from Space Aliens, I got a bug in my eye. That hurts almost as much as Sprite, but flaps a lot more.


Back in Fargo again. While I was talking to the hotel clerk, extraterrestrials came up in conversation (like they do), and she went curiously mum on the subject. Turns out that extraterrestrials had actually landed here and built a permanent hidden base. Naturally, I was up for hunting that down. And when I found it, it turned out to be a restaurant.

I had actually heard about this place last time I was in Fargo (remember, with the cheese and ale soup?), and I'm not sure how I got through a few months of waiting and three miles of walking not thinking this place was gonna be a kids' pizza joint. Having said that, though, the place was cool. There were glass cases between the booths that contained all kinds of old sci-fi toys. Some I remembered owning, some I remembered seeing, and some I could not identify. But if I didn't know what they were, they must have been collectible and expensive (what does 'collectible' mean? That you can collect it? Technically, I am collectible then). And on top of the walls were the aliens themselves, hanging out and having a good time.

Their baked potatoes were good. Aliens know how to load a spud just as well as a sonic death ray cannon, apparently. But I am going to have nightmares about these guys.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Funny Nametags

There was a pilot on my plane the other day whose nametag read EL DUDERINO. Even if you haven't seen The Big Lebowski, that's still pretty amusing.