Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Anguish of Air Travel and Confronting Crowds Barefoot

Air travel has changed a lot over the past few years. Passengers face a series of barriers before finally boarding and settling into what often turns out to be a crowded plane, narrow seats, overstuffed overhead luggage compartment, no free food and no movies.

Hurdles to air travel begin long before leaving for the airport. First a ticket must be purchased. Maneuvering travel and airline websites to find the airline with the best rate at the most convenient travel time can try anyone’s patience and perseverance.

Finally choosing the flight and price, the website directs the purchaser through a series of screens before a ticket can be purchased. Depending on the airline these can be simple and quick, or the process may seem never ending. Spirit Air is one of those interminable websites.

Purchasing a ticket might seem a simple move, but it is fraught with danger. The various questions have one goal: get the customer to pay as much as possible for their ticket. Airlines entice customers to pay additional fees for baggage check, better seats, priority boarding – you get the idea. For example one personal item only is allowed free on Spirit; there is a charge for any other carry on piece or checked bag.

Passengers, on the other hand, want to pay as little as possible. Instead of paying a baggage fee, for example, passengers stuff as much clothing and other items as possible into a small carry-on suitcase.

Annoyances continue upon arrival at the airport. Usually I print my boarding pass at home, or wherever I might be, and proceed directly to security.

Security may involve long lines and a long wait, or a quick walk through numerous meandering rows directing passengers onward. Finally security looms ahead. With driver’s license and boarding pass in hand, I approach the TSA officer. For most folks this involves a quick look at the documents and a stamp of approval, moving people on to one of the security check-in lines.

It is time to gear up and place belongings on the conveyor belt that will pass through X-ray machines. For me this usually includes a suitcase, backpack, coat, belt and jewelry. I remove a clear baggy with liquid toiletries from the suitcase and take my computer out of the backpack. Any items in my pockets are removed, such as change, keys, tissues, and cell phone. And of course shoes and socks must also be taken off and placed in bins.

There has been a lot of publicity concerning removal of shoes and socks. 

I believe the real reason we must remove shoes and socks is because of a well-kept Federal secret - a conspiracy between the FAA, TSA and the beauty salon industry.

Women of most ages do not want to take off their shoes and socks and reveal ugly feet and toes. A lot of men don’t either. Women (and some men) will visit the nearest nail salon for a quick pedicure before heading for the security line.

This has been an enormous boost for, specifically, the pedicure business. People living in the south may get pedicures all year round. No so for most of us living up north. We can make it through the long winter months without revealing our toes to anyone, covering unpolished, misshapen, ragged toenails with stockings, socks and slippers.

Concealment works, unless we have to go through an airport security blockade before boarding a plane to anywhere. We are embarrassed to look at our own toes – how can we possibly allow others the indignity?

So we swallow hard and include the cost of a pedicure in the price of our trip.

The FAA and the TSA appreciate it.

The pedicure industry appreciates it.

And, although our pocketbooks may not be very appreciative, a pedicure is a nice sight when staring down at our shoeless feet when walking through security, raising our hands to be X-rayed, and being (possibly) scooted aside for additional examination.

Most people are waved along to ride trams or trains or walk long corridors to their boarding gate. Only a select few are chosen for further scrutiny and pat downs. I am usually one of those individuals. I am not sure why – no alarms go off over hidden metal, for instance – but I fit some profile. I am beginning to wonder if the guards think I am smuggling something, like a bottled Starbucks Frappuccino…
But I am sure the TSA lady frisking me is pleased I have cute painted toes. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Size of Thighs

I love reading newspaper headlines. Articles on subjects I would never think about pop out. Information I did not realize I wanted or needed or could live without becomes inscribed on my brain, filed away to be taken out and used sometime in the future. Maybe at a holiday get-together, hanging out at the beach, or having a long, lazy dinner with friends, drinking wine, discussing current events and solving the world’s problems.

The topic of the following ditty (I wrote) is about one such tidbit gleaned from headlines this week.  

(The Worst Poem of All Time)

The newspaper article caught my eye
Young women consumed by the size of a thigh.

Not only long, smooth and straight but slim.
They desire a very trim limb.

A new obsession is on the rise.
Above the knees the mania lies.

The key to perfect thighs:
Open space between with views -
If not seen, weight you must lose.

What nonsense, I say, who wants to be anorexic size?

I vaguely remember the sixties era and age
When stick models were all the rage.
When mini-skirts merited our thighs be slim
And draw wandering eyes to that limb.
Nary a one of us cared about views.

A word of caution and a word to the wise -
Life’s too short to be worried about size
Of boobs or waist or even thighs.

Forget about mass media lies
And the few with too thin bodies and thighs.

So beware and don’t waste time
Attempting for the body sublime.
For most of us, it ain’t gonna materialize.

'tis the end of my rhyme…
(It’s about time!)

Who knew that one of the latest fixations of young women is the size of their thighs? With all the publicity about sudden deaths of super-thin models, and illnesses resulting from a desire to be super-thin, such as anorexia and bulimia, the ultra-thin trend unfortunately persists.

Maybe it is time for a new women's movement. Too thin should be outlawed. Too fat is not healthy either. It is time for everyone - young women especially - to feel comfortable and proud of their bodies without feeling a need for drastic, unhealthy makeovers. Girls should not have to wait until they are older and wiser before being comfortable with the body they were born with.

The article is here should you wish to read it or see a picture of possibly the thinnest thighs ever.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013



Mark Sanford is not (yet) a Presidential contender. And I was not going to write another political post so soon. But the Sanford story is too good to let pass.

A quick review for those readers visiting Mars or otherwise occupied during the initial incident: Sanford is the state’s disgraced former governor. During his tenure he disappeared for a few days. The governor’s office announced he was hiking the Appalachian Trail; he was actually visiting his mistress (and current fiancĂ©) in Argentina. This occurred in 2009. His wife later divorced him. Sanford is currently running for a vacant Congressional seat in South Carolina.

On Tuesday, April 16, (2013) Sanford was accused of trespassing at his ex-wife’s home. A court appearance is scheduled. Sanford’s ex-wife Jenny, a bright, educated, professional woman, ran Sanford’s past political endeavors, and he asked her to run his current Congressional campaign. She refused, a decision I am sure most women applaud.

I would have loved to see the faces of Republican analysts and kingmakers upon learning of Sanford’s latest difficulties. They were probably ready to tear their hair out (assuming the geezers have any left). Sanford is running for a traditionally Republican Congressional seat in Charleston, SC. He has a formidable opposition candidate – the sister of comedian and talk show host Stephen Colbert, Elizabeth Colbert Busch. Sanford boasts he has never lost an election. Humility and restraint, it seems, are not among his strong traits.

Supporters were hoping voters would forget his Appalachian fling; the voting public has short memories. Unfortunately the latest revelation brought the entire fiasco back into newsworthy print and voters’ minds. Before this episode Sanford was ahead of Busch in the polls. The most recent surveys indicate the two are running even. With the election two weeks away – Tuesday, May 7 - it is too close to call.

A special election is scheduled because the previous House member for the district, Tim Scott, was appointed by the current governor back in December to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jim DeMint, who resigned to become President of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. (Got that!?)

As a result of Sanford’s latest blunder, the National Republican Congressional Committee announced they were no longer going to fund Sanford’s campaign. The committee initially planned to spend $2 million on Sanford’s election effort.

Should Sanford win the House seat, party operatives fear it will reinforce the public’s perception of the GOP as anti-women and oblivious to voters’ concerns.

On the other hand the last thing the GOP wants is a Democratic victory, spurring hopes of additional Democratic House wins in 2014.
On another hand, Sanford’s future wife could bring a flair for entertaining and other activities to Washington, enhancing the city’s international atmosphere. Recently Argentina gave the world a pope. Perhaps they will give America an intriguing political spouse.

The travels of Mark Sanford...
From the State House in Columbia, South Carolina... 
to his mistress' side in Argentina...
to Capitol Hill?

Watch for more political tidbits and twaddle as politicians nationwide, would-be politicians, their buddies and their goings-on make news. Frankly, I don’t think anyone can make this stuff up.

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Bit Of Manly Humor Amid The Grim News Of The Week

A short news article today caught my eye, demanding my immediate attention and action.

This warning is aimed at an important population everywhere – handsome men.

Specifically, handsome men planning to visit Saudi Arabia:

Beware! You may be arrested and deported for being too handsome.

That is exactly what happened to a group of men from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, visiting the country and attending a heritage and cultural festival.

Saudi officials said they were concerned local women would find the men irresistible. The country has a contingent of religious police who ensure proper attire and conduct of men and women.

Below are a few tips for incredibly handsome men heading for Saudi Arabia. As a safeguard from the wrath of the religious police, utilize some of these ideas, plus others you may think of, to make yourself less attractive and desirable to the women you meet. By the way, they will keep other men away too:

·      * Do not brush your teeth for a few days. Bad breath will put off the women, no matter how beautiful the rest of your bod.

·     *  Grease your hair and do not wash it for a few days. Greasy hair went out decades ago.

·      * Do not shower. Your dirty body odor will disguise your natural chemically attracting pheromones.

·      * Wear loose, body-covering clothing, masking your carefully sculpted, gym-toned muscles.

·     *  Wear white socks.

·      * Talk while you eat, and be sure to let a few pieces of half-eaten food fall out of your mouth.

·      * Drinking is forbidden in the country, but act drunk anyway.

If you should, however, despite my warnings, be arrested by the religious police for being too handsome and are deported, my girlfriends and I will be happy to pick you up at the airport. After, of course, you have showered and brushed your teeth.