Monthly Archives: November 2008

Air Travel

I just got back from a quick trip to Florida, as many of you already know. I’m guessing you expect me to blast the airlines for something/everything, but I’m not going to do that. When I fly, especially when I fly alone, I have plenty of time to think (DANGER!!DANGER!!). When I thought of the prices for flights, rather than thinking they were expensive, I thought they were cheap. Here’s the scenario. It’s like going up to a person and saying “I’ll give you $197 to take me to Florida and bring me back. I’ll drive to your place, we can go whenever you want, and I’ll have someone pick me up at your place when we get there. I need to come back on Monday, but I’d be happy to drive to your place and leave, again, whenever you want. And, by the way, I hope you can carry my bag for me ‘cuz I don’t want the bother”. What do you think that person would say?

I made the arrangements at the last minute, so I looked around for the least expensive flights. I got a flight out of Flint Bishop Airport for $100 less than Grand Rapids, Lansing or Kalamazoo. The drive is an hour and 45 minutes, door to door and the airport is on this side of Flint, so you don’t have to fight traffic at all. The overnight parking is $5 a day which is cheaper than Grand Rapids (I don’t know about Lansing or Kalamazoo). The airport buildings are quite new, fairly small, and easy to get through.

The only problem I had on the way down was passenger related. I went through security with only two or three other people in line. As is fairly common, I stepped in line behind a woman with three bags of stuff (you’re only supposed to have one plus your purse). She put them all down and rifled through one to find her picture ID. Out came three or four candy bars (Ghirardelli) and a couple of small bags of candy. Most people would have told me to go on by while they repacked their mess, but not her.

We got to the next station and she took three tubs to put all her junk in. One of the TSA people asked her if one of the bags was a C-Pap machine and she said yes. The attendant told her the motor had to be out of the bag, so she unzipped the top and pulled the motor out along with five or six more candy bars. It took her a while to stuff them all back in the bag and we were on our way. At the other end it took her a while to gather all that crap together while I, again, stood and waited for my things. We went on through and, since ours was the only flight taking off, she was in the same waiting area. When she got there, she took off her coat and sweater. She was around 50 years old, and was wearing a pair of black stretch pants. You can probably guess that, with that many candy bars in her bags, she should not have been wearing stretch pants…that’s all I’ll say about that.

The weather was great in Florida and Mom, Bob and I had a good time doing family things. I’ve been having a plantar fasciitis problem with my left foot lately. It may surprise you to know that I didn’t take any of my running clothes down there so I could give the foot a rest. It also may not surprise you that I went for a couple of long walks which is just as bad for a plantar problem as running. I’ll plan to run tomorrow in the Thanksgiving Day Trilander outing, but that will probably be it until the end of the year. We’ll see.

So, back to the travel.  My flights back up were fairly uneventful. The woman next to me from Tampa to Atlanta fell asleep and dropped her magazine four times on the floor. Her son picked it up each time and confiscated it the last time so she wouldn’t drop it again. I’d say it slipped off her lap, but with her build, she didn’t have a lap.

The girl next to me on the flight from Atlanta to Flint looked 15, but was probably 25 and was flying up to see her boyfriend. She had never been to Michigan and hadn’t been in snow. She was wearing a light, tight sleeveless top and a light sweater which she took off during the flight. She was a little nervous so she talked quite a bit. She was very short, less than five feet tall but, and I’m trying to be delicate here, was very, very well endowed. When I looked at her to talk, I really tried to keep my eyes focused on her face, but it wasn’t to be.

At the Flint airport, I went to baggage claim and waited there for my checked bag. After about half the bags had come through, I saw it coming and was relieved. Just then a  guy picked it off the belt and started walking out with his family. He was a guy about my age and was with his wife (I assume) and a young couple in their early thirties. I started to follow after them, trying to see if it was mine. I had just about caught up with them to ask if he was sure it was his bag when another that looked just like it came out from the back onto the belt. I turned around thinking that the guy had picked up his own bag since mine had my name on the airline tag and he looked like he could read. Not so!! The other bag wasn’t mine and it was the only bag not claimed.

I was kicking myself for not chasing the guy down but, by then, he was long gone. Come to find out, it was the young couple’s bag, and the airline baggage tag was covering my name tag, so they never saw it. When they got to Midland they realized it wasn’t theirs and, eventually took it back to the airport. The bag was delivered to me yesterday safe and sound. I have learned to not put anything in a checked bag that you couldn’t stand to lose.

So the only problems I had with the flights were passenger related, not the airlines.

Just (Happy To Be Home In The Crappy Weather) Jack 


At a recent hospital board meeting, the term omnibus came up, and the presenter asked if we all knew what it meant. Of course, it means everything for everyone and, in that case, it referred to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act that we all knew as COBRA, but now we know as EMTALA. Our federal budgets seem to be providing “everything for everyone” without figuring out how to pay for it, but I digress. The title of the e-mail means that I have something to say about many things, so there’s an outside chance you may have interest in one of the things I say.

I didn’t, at that meeting, offer to reminisce about a TV show called Omnibus that was hosted by Alastair Cooke that was televised when I was a kid. It ran from 1952 to 1961. For those of you who do know about the show, I should say that I watched it all the time. But, in reality, it was a very, very boring show for a smarter, more sophisticated audience than I was at age six.

In my last epistle, I talked about problems I had in Europe, but I really didn’t give them credit for some of the things they do right (in my opinion of course). First of all, no one was wearing hats. I really shouldn’t say no one because, every once in a while, you would see an old codger (61 or so years old) wearing a “chapeau” style hat…one of those hats that French artists wear. But you never, and I mean never, saw anyone wearing a baseball cap. In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with wearing a hat, and with the tiny amount of hair I have, a hat is necessary. More importantly, you didn’t see anyone wearing a baseball cap backwards. I guess if they were an idiot, they didn’t want to give it away by looking like one. Going along with that, you rarely saw anyone wearing their blue jeans around the lower part of their rear end with 2/3 of their underpants showing. Probably they didn’t for the same reason stated above.

Europe operates on a 24 hour clock. When you looked at the digital clock to see what time it was, it may say 17:30. I know, I know. It takes a minute to figure out what time 17:30 is, but you subtract 12:00 and it’s 5:30 PM. When you say you’ll meet someone at seven, they don’t have to ask “Do you mean 7 AM or 7 PM”? Anyone who was in the military knows what a 24 hour clock is and it eliminates a lot of confusion. It took a little getting used to since the train schedules were in 24 hour format. We’re so dominated by the decimal system, it was hard to subtract 12 to convert the time. I was always thinking that 17:00 was 7 PM, but it was actually 5 PM. Luckily Matt hasn’t fallen off his bike “yet” so he can think faster than I can and we didn’t miss any rides.

I’ve seen the same clips of the same election speeches many times and I’m growing as weary of them as the campaign commercials that have finally stopped. When we go around the Thanksgiving Dinner table telling each other what we’re thankful for, no more campaign commercials for at least a year should come up in every household. But, again, I digress. I know it’s been said many times by many of the talking heads on TV, but I don’t remember this kind of excitement and enthusiasm for a Presidential election since Kennedy and Nixon in 1960. This is the first election in decades that I haven’t gone into the voting booth trying to decide on the lesser of two evils. No matter who you voted for, we had two very good candidates with two very different ideas on how to get us to the same place.

I guess I’m a slow learner, or I have a short memory span (shame on you for saying BOTH, BOTH). I know it’s only been since this past spring that I raked leaves at the lake, carried them to Hastings in the back of the Jeep, and dumped them at the city garage. Then, for several days afterward, I whined about all the spiders in my car. Well, I’m at it again and, apparently, I didn’t get all the spiders last time. I’ll be driving down the road and they will start coming out from everywhere. I had one walking all over the inside of the windshield today and I didn’t try to kill him (or her). They eat flies and that’s a good thing. But I gave them a free ride to town, and now they should GET OFF THE BUS!!

Just (Not Ready For Winter Yet So Take Your Time) Jack