Confessions of a holiday slacker

It seems the Christmas season has snuck up and found me ill-prepared once again. I blame this predicament on my disdain for retailers putting up Christmas decorations before Halloween and trying to rush me into the season. I blame political correctness run amok in a country where people say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” so as not to offend anyone and then look at me when I reply “Merry Christmas” to them as if I’ve just made a disparaging remark about their mother. (Incidentally, if someone were to wish me a Happy Hanukkah or Happy Kwanzaa, I would not be offended in the least–but that’s another rant for another day.) But first and foremost, I blame my own well-honed proclivity for procrastination and devastating laziness.

I have varying levels of holiday decorating. Level One decorating consists of outside lights adorning the house, wreaths on not only the front door but also wreaths on each window facing the street, a small wooden nativity scene, a large snowman surrounded by three ice skating penguins with blue lights encircling the entire scene to mimic a frozen pond, and a wooden Santa to greet visitors at the front door. On the inside of the house, there’s the fully decorated tree and mantle, a Christmas village spanning six shelves of the built-ins in the family room, a fancy nativity scene atop the piano, personalized miniature trees in each child’s room as well as a snowman themed tree in the kitchen. There are also wreaths on each of the french doors leading into the office off the family room and Christmas plates replacing the plates normally displayed in the dining room. Dispersed throughout the house are Christmas themed candles and various trinkets.

It should be noted that Level One Christmas decorating has not been achieved since I let my prescription for Adderall lapse over four years ago.

Level Two decorating consists of MOST of the above, less the kids’ trees, the snowman tree, the Christmas village and the wreaths on the office doors. For me, this is still a fairly daunting process.

Neither level was achieved this year. I’m at Level Three. Although if one were to rank by output of effort and number of decorations, it would be more accurate to describe it as Level 7, 8 or 27.

Oh, I’ve got the essentials done.

The tree is up and decorated…

Even though there are just as many left off the tree this year than there are on the tree.

The mantle is decorated.

The centerpiece, the reason for the season is prominently displayed. Not only the fancy set on the piano,

but also the small wooden nativity set in the front yard.

And in a display worthy of a Crap at my Parent’s House honorable mention is this bathroom display:

Visitors will be greeted by a friendly Santa Claus made by my neighbors a few years ago,

And I will be greeted each morning with incessant barking from Buddy Love the Dog,

who is convinced that there is an intruder on the other side of the sidelight window who just won’t leave no matter how loudly and often he’s barked at.

Do I feel a guilty about my lack of enthusiasm for decorating this year? A little, but not too much. For me, it’s the process of decorating as much as the final results that I enjoy. This year, there’s been lots of out of town business trips and even more after school activities that take all of us away from home, so there’s not been much time for putting up the Christmas decorations.

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care.

The tree is up and even has a few presents under it.

So rather than stress about all that could have been done that wasn’t, I’m simply going to call what we’ve done enough and enjoy what’s left of the Christmas holiday season.

Just as soon as I finish my Christmas shopping…

How’s your season going so far?

The politics of personal tragedy

To say you don’t follow politics is tantamount to saying you don’t keep up with the news at all, because in this era of the 24 hour news cycle, everything is politicized.

By now, you’re probably aware that Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins then drove to Arrowhead Stadium where he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, an act witnessed by his coach and the team’s general manager.

You also may have heard various media pundits rushing to make sense of such a senseless act. So far, I’ve heard

  • the gun culture is to blame
  • domestic violence is to blame
  • head injuries sustained by football players are to blame
  • having children out of wedlock is to blame
  • drug and/or alcohol abuse is to blame
  • instantaneous celebrity status and wealth without coping mechanisms are to blame

And on and on…

I’m hardly the first to make the observation that ultimately, Jovan Belcher is to blame for the events of last Saturday. While you might make the argument that any or all of the aforementioned scenarios may have contributed to his mental state and his acts of violence, a reasonable person simply cannot dismiss the need for personal responsibility.

Everyone can agree what happened last Saturday morning was a horrible tragedy, yet I suppose it’s human nature–this desire to hold someone or something accountable, to assign blame to some tangible entity–someone or something which can be made the object of our wrath. Since Belcher is no longer here, our vitriol must find a new home.

Reactions to these deaths are so sadly predictable. As Jovan Belcher and Kasandra Perkins’s families struggled to grasp the reality that they were dead, within hours people were already lining up their agendas and crafting their arguments to support why more needs to be done about the gun culture, domestic violence, head injuries, having children out of wedlock, drug and alcohol abuse, the price of fame, (insert your cause here). I watched as a news anchor became visibly angry upon hearing Bob Costas “gun culture” commentary, because there was no mention of domestic violence in his editorial. Another talking head was incensed that no one was talking about how football players are four times more likely to suffer from mental illness due to head injuries and that nothing was being done about it. Lots of talk about why this happened, very little time given to mourn the loss of these two young people, who they were when they were alive or who they left behind.

What becomes lost in our attempts to demonize our preferred objects of wrath is this:

A baby girl will grow up without a mother or a father, and will eventually learn why both are gone. She will instead be raised by her grandmother, a woman who may be forever haunted by the memory of witnessing her beloved son murdering the mother of her granddaughter.

Coach Romeo Crennel and  General Manager Scott Pioli will mostly likely replay a scenario countless times in their minds where, despite their desperate pleas and attempts to prevent it, they stand in helpless horror as one of their own ends his life by putting a bullet into his head.

This story has horrified us, but as with most tragedies we see on the news, it will soon be relegated to the recesses of our minds. We’re not apt to forget it completely, but it won’t be something we struggle with every day for the rest of our lives. Such is not the case for those closest to Jovan Belcher and Kasandra Perkins, all of whom have access to the same media outlets as the rest of us.

In our collective effort to dissect and explain humanity, let’s not lose sight of our own.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Skymall

Way back in December of 2008, I stumbled across what I now consider to be the best source of never-ending blog fodder gold (besides my inclination to rant incessantly): the Sky Mall catalog. Looking back upon four years of sky mall posts, it occurs to me that I’ve spent a great deal of time making fun of all the ridiculously overpriced items available through this inflight magazine, which honestly, is a little unfair. Not everything in the Sky Mall catalog is ridiculously overpriced, some items are just plain ridiculous.

With this in mind, I bring you this year’s edition of katdish’s Sky Mall holiday gift guide (you’re welcome):

For the Connoisseur:
Marley Coffee, 8 oz $29.99

“Bob Marley always said he would return to farming one day. Bob’s son Rohan fulfills that dream.”

Oh, okay. I have no beef with buying this coffee. According to Sky Mall, it’s “sustainably grown, ethically farmed and artisan roasted.” (Whatever that means.) Plus, a portion of every sale supports a worthy children’s charity. I’m just of the opinion that if Bob Marley had lived, he’d be growing something else besides coffee. Something now legally available in Oregon and Colorado.

For the Adventurer:
Solowheel $1799.99

“We’ve reinvented the wheel! The Solowheel is the world’s first single wheel, battery operated, self-maneuvering vehicle.”

What could possibly go wrong? Well, according to Autoweek’s Mark Vaughn, who reviewed the Solowheel, “The problem is when the Solowheel gets up to speed, it slows you down by leaning the wheel backwards. If you’re not ready for this, you can be pitched forward at top speed–about ten miles per hour.” I give this thing 6 months before we start seeing montages of cringe-worthy face plant videos starring Solowheels and drunken college students.

The Solowheel: Personal injury attorney not included.

For the fashion challenged:

One of a Kind Shirts for One of a Kind Men, $69.99

“A One of a Kind Shirt allows you to show that you’re an individual, that you’re a little different than everyone else and you want them to take notice of who you are. 100% cotton, made from 10 different fabrics.”

Why wear ten ugly shirts ten days in a row when you can save time and wear them all at once?

For absolutely no one. Seriously, don’t buy this:
Stainless Steel Bracelet, $19.95

Do you know someone who is going through a difficult time? Facing what seems like insurmountable odds? What do you say to them? “I’ll pray for you”, is always a good line, but then you should probably actually pray for them. “I’m here for you if you need me”, is another good one, but they might take you up on that insincere offer.

Maybe you just want to acknowledge that you’re aware of their situation without having to personally invest in them. If that’s the case, there’s no more flippant, insincere cliche’ than “It is what it is”. And now thanks to the Sky Mall, you don’t even have to speak to them. Just give them a $20 bracelet and be done with them completely.

Incidentally, if you’re thinking of giving ME this bracelet for Christmas, fair warning. I may have to punch you in the face. And speaking of things that inspire acts of gratuitous violence in me…

For the desperate dreamer:
The Best Advice Ever by Ari Neptunia, $12.99

Self-help books rank fairly high on that list. Don’t get me wrong, I know the authors mean well, I just don’t think their succient, step-by-step advice is very effective because learning from other people’s mistakes is almost never as effective as learning from our own. But wait! The Best Advice Ever, which claims “Mistakes are the most destructive force in our lives” promises to “turn on the power of success, money and happiness with ZERO mistakes…supplies you with sharp advice on how to avoid mistakes in order to become successful, happy, wealthy and healthy.”

Wow. Really? I wonder if the deluxe edition comes hand delivered to you by a leprechaun riding on a unicorn.

The latest edition of the Sky Mall catalog is literally jam packed with delightful products to waste your money on, and I would strongly encourage to visit their website (which I won’t link here, but I’m sure you can Google it). I could review many more items, but I’ll leave you with my personal favorite.

For the casual believer:
The Hanukkah Tree Topper, $19.99

Sweet Fancy Moses.

*Kwannza and Ramadan ornaments sold separately.

I’m with stupid (and so are you)


In news that should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, according to Gerald Crabtree, a professor at Stanford University’s medical school, humanity is getting dumber and dumber in our safe, sanitized civilized world. In part, he writes:

“I would be willing to wager that if an average citizen of Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions…We would be surprised by our time-visitor’s memory, broad range of ideas and clear-sighted view of important issues. I would also guess that he or she would be among the most emotionally stable of our friends and colleagues.”

Crabtree’s basic argument is that back in the times of early man, if you made a error in judgement, you were pretty likely to die as a result and your substandard genes wouldn’t be passed on to flourish in subsequent generations:

“Needless to say a hunter gatherer that did not correctly conceive a solution to providing food or shelter probably died along with their progeny, while a modern Wall Street executive that made a similar conceptual mistake would receive a substantial bonus.”

There are obvious flaws in his theory–stupid people did not create great works of literature, discover a vaccine for polio, design the computer I’m typing on, figure out that the earth is not flat or establish Stanford University. Perhaps a more accurate hypothesis would be to conclude that thanks to the hard work and intelligence of some human beings, a great many others have the luxury of being stupid without said stupidity costing them their lives.

Even if sometimes it probably should:

Let’s be careful out there, shall we?

Pardon me while I rant incessantly: The new normal

image courtesy of photobucket.com

In my last post, Trading misery for gratitude, I decided to set aside my grumbling and simply focus on all the many blessings–both tangible and intangible–in my life; in all of our lives.

Well, I did that.

But Thanksgiving’s over with, isn’t it?

And I’ve got a few things I need to get off my chest before we start singing Christmas songs at church and that whole “peace on earth good will towards man” sentiment kicks in.

Do you remember that quote I posted? Here it is again:

“If you want to be miserable, think about yourself, about what you want, what you like, what respect people ought to pay you and what people think of you.” -Charles Kingsley

If that quote is accurate, then I am surrounded by miserable people. People so focused on their own wants and needs that the rest of us simply become peripheral objects in a universe in which they are at the center. An old boyfriend of mine used to tell people that he was a self-indulgent, hedonistic opportunist.  He wasn’t, of course. It was meant as a joke. Because seriously–how many people do you know who would fit that description, let alone admit to it? But lately it seems that’s become the norm. We say, “it’s funny because it’s true”. In this case, it’s not funny because it’s true.

Examples of this mindset abound. The first example I witnessed at the airport security checkpoint. I’ve often been frustrated and baffled by news reports of travelers being randomly selected for pat downs and full body scans by TSA screeners. I’ve wondered what threat a 5 year old boy or someone’s sweet little grandmother could possibly pose to the safety of other passengers.

It wasn’t until I witnessed a frail, white haired lady being helped from her wheelchair in order to be escorted through the full body scanner that it occurred to me why this may happen. It’s because little old ladies and young children DON’T POSE ANY THREAT TO THE SAFETY OF OTHER PASSENGERS. “Randomly” select them, and you’ve fulfilled your security quota without actually having do the most important part of your job: preventing dangerous people from boarding airplanes. Because let’s face it, that would be potentially dangerous for you at worst, and a giant pain in the ass at best. Old ladies and crying children don’t require much paperwork or effort on your part. Mystery solved.

Determined not to allow this lapse in human dignity ruin my vacation, I boarded the airplane with my family and set off for our destination. The rest of the day was uneventful. We landed safely, picked up our rental car. Over the river and through to woods to grandmother’s house we went. Although technically, there wasn’t a river or any trees as we were driving through West Texas and Eastern New Mexico, area motto: Gee, your oil well smells terrific!

Thanksgiving day was spent as it should be: eating too much, watching football and spending time with family. It wasn’t until Friday morning back at the hotel that I was reminded of the shortcomings of humanity.

The Holiday Inn Express in Carlsbad, NM is a lovely hotel. Nice rooms, friendly staff and a wonderful complimentary breakfast bar in a large room with several tables and chairs provided for guests to sit and enjoy breakfast. As expected, it was fairly crowded on the morning after Thanksgiving. Families gathering and fueling up for a day of shopping or more visiting with relatives. But traffic flowed well. People filled their plates and moved aside for the next person waiting. Such was not the case on the opposite side of the room at the coffee bar.

The above picture is an accurate representation of the coffee bar. What it doesn’t show is the vast expanse of counter space on either side of the coffee carafes. This is the actual coffee bar:

Imagine my caffeine deprived frustration when one person, who had yards of counter space on either side of the coffee carafes, instead chose to remain smack dab in front of them after she had already filled three cups full of coffee. She had not, however, added the appropriate amounts of cream and sugar for each individual cup, and apparently was in a deep state of concentration, no doubt trying to remember if her mother wanted one sugar or two. I’m sure that’s why she only glanced in my general direction when I walked up behind her with an empty coffee cup in hand. Not wanting to break her concentration (because I’m thoughtful like that), I returned to my table, set my cup down, walked to the other side of the room, served myself a plate of scrambled eggs and sausage, returned to my table, picked up my cup and again approached the coffee bar. WHERE SHE WAS STILL STANDING IN FRONT OF THE COFFEE. I think I’m a pretty friendly person, a marginally patient person, but seriously:

“Excuse me”, I said. “May I get in here and get a cup of coffee?” She seemed a little miffed, and why wouldn’t she be? Considering the fact that she would have to move herself to the right a full 12 inches in order for me to get to the coffee.

Was the coffee incident a big deal? Not really.

But it speaks to a larger problem. I’m guessing that she did not approach that coffee bar with malice intent to prevent others from getting coffee. It simply never occurred to her before she planted herself in the center of the coffee bar that other people might actually want to get a cup of coffee.

Because as I’ve already stated, when you’re the center of the universe, everyone and everything else is simply peripheral and unimportant. I mourn for a society where this behavior is not only accepted, it is celebrated.

Don’t be the lady at the coffee bar or the TSA screener at the airport. Choose to be gracious, not because it’s easier, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Trading misery for gratitude

image courtesy of photobucket.com

“If you want to be miserable, think about yourself, about what you want, what you like, what respect people ought to pay you and what people think of you.” -Charles Kingsley

I love/hate that quote. Because while the truth may set you free, it’s a rare person who won’t go a few rounds with it before finally surrendering and admitting defeat. Lately I’ve been a little miserable, which is why I haven’t posted here. I could rant and rave about how things haven’t turned out the way they should have, about how people are going to regret the decisions they’ve made and what those decisions mean for the rest of us, but after two attempts at an eloquent and intelligent response to current circumstances, it’s clear that I simply cannot express my sense of loss without sounding like a whiny butthead.

And I think we can all concur that the interwebs already have a lion’s share of those.

Instead of spending time in the virtual world, I’ve been spending some quality time in the non-virtual one, and have been richly blessed in doing so. I’ll be back to my old ranting, ridiculous self soon, but in the meantime, I pray you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and that we would all set aside any thoughts of what we hope for but do not have and replace those thoughts with a spirit of gratitude for what we have been given. Which in my case, is ridiculously more than I deserve.

Hoping for change

“If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from. You make a big election about small things.

And you know what? It’s worked before, because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government. When Washington doesn’t work, all its promises seem empty. If your hopes have been dashed again and again, then it’s best to stop hoping and settle for what you already know.”

–Barack Obama, 2008

Funny how your own words will sometimes come back to haunt you. In the waning weeks of what has been the most divisive presidential campaign in my memory, President Obama has made this election about small things. Not because he doesn’t have a record to run on, but because his record is not a good one. Blaming your predecessor only goes so far. Blaming a do-nothing republican congress doesn’t wash when your party had control of both houses for two years with precious little to show for it.

I’d hoped for change.

I’d hoped for compromise and an end to partisanship in Washington.

Yes, things have changed, but from where I sit it’s not been for the better.

I’ll be staying away from all forms of media on election day.

I’ve cast my vote already. Regardless of who wins the White House, something’s gotta give.

I’m weary and tired of politics as usual.

I think we all are.

The creative process: Halloween edition

image courtesy of photobucket.com

I don’t consider myself to be cheap. I don’t even consider myself to be thrifty. (I just heard my husband yell “Amen!” in my head.) However, I’m not one to buy things that I consider to be ridiculously overpriced, especially in these uncertain economic times.

Enter Halloween costume shopping for my 11-year old daughter and 15-year old son.

My daughter wanted to be a whoopie cushion. If you knew her as I do, you would understand just how well this costumes suits her. And at $29.99, I was willing to buy it off the shelf at the local costume store and be done with it.

As for my son’s costume? He wanted to be Captain America. He’s 15–a few years past the trick or treating age. But since they’re both going to Halloween parties, I agreed to get him a costume. That is, until I started adding up the cost of said costume. Basic Captain America suit: $79.99

And while the shield is pictured, it is not included in the price. What self respecting Captain America would be caught without his shield? Which, incidentally is $24.99

At $105 plus tax, the chances of my son being Captain America for Halloween were quickly waining. But then I saw this tee for $9.99 and the creative juices started to flow:

I could buy the $10 shirt, probably pick up a pair of blue sweats for less than $20. For $30, the costume is halfway complete. But what about the shield and the mask?

I’ll be honest. I walked around Party City with that shield for a long time, but I just couldn’t justify paying $25 for something that would be used once. Then I happened down the catering supply aisle and found this plastic sandwich tray for $5.99:

The first thing I noticed was that it was the same size as the overpriced shield I was holding in my hand. Next, I noticed that the circle in the middle of the tray was about the same size as the as the circled star in the middle of the shield. Exit shield, enter plastic sandwich tray and craft paint.

That left the mask. I almost bought this for $19.99:

But it’s not really a mask. It’s a winter hat. Besides, I think it’s sort of stupid looking with those long braidy things on the sides. I left Party City with an incomplete costume plan but determined to get started on the shield.

The plan:

Paint the underside of the plate beginning with the silver star in the center and layering the paint outward, then go over the painted portion with silver duct tape to keep the paint from chipping off when the shield is flung forcefully at someone. My son’s a 15 year old Avengers’ fan. You know that’s gonna happen. Worry about attaching a handle to the underside later.

The process:

The beginning of the process went smoothly. I found a star shape in Microsoft Word, sized it to fit inside the circle. Print, trace, step one complete. Step 2 was even easier: paint the rest of the circle blue. It was only when I contemplated the painting of the red and white stripes that I ran into trouble. Because the stripes needed to be evenly spaced and evenly sized. And the steps required to accomplish that goal came dangerously close to involving math–my arch nemesis. (Yes, I know I’ve said the grocery store is my arch nemesis, but for the purposes of this story, it’s math.)

I began to measure and calculate. And check email, Twitter and Facebook. Because when the going gets tough, the ADD afflicted procrastinate and avoid. Then it happened. As I stood typing on my computer which sits on the bar which looks into my kitchen, I spied the solution to my creative block. A way to create evenly spaced stripes without using math. The chicken plate:

Brilliant, no?

No?

Let me explain. Wait, let me show you a picture–often worth a thousand words, but in this case probably more like 120:

Do you see those red stripes? Do you see how they’re relatively even? What’s that UNDER those stripes?

Chicken plate, BABY!

The rest of the project was easy peasy. Couple coats of red paint, couple coats of white. Duct tape, epoxy and a belt my daughter no longer wears, and Presto!

Wait…that’s not that impressive. Ahem…

Presto!

Random trips to the mall and the grocery store later that day netted sweat pants for $15 and a mask for $9.99:

The Results:

Voila! Complete Captain America Costume for $41.00:

All done without math! Well, except just now when I added up all the stuff I bought.

And just between you and me?

I used the calculator app on my iPhone…

Happy Halloween!

The Hillbilly Guide to Air Travel (repost)

It seems the fine folks at Thomas Nelson liked Billy Coffey so much, they have invited him down to Nashville for another visit. To celebrate this meet and greet and to remind him (and possibly you) of all the things you can no longer bring on an airplane, I have decided to repost this handy guide originally published back in March. Sorry/you’re welcome…

In case you haven’t already heard the news, our friend and critically acclaimed author Billy Coffey recently signed a multi-book deal with Thomas Nelson Publishing. His next book, When Mockingbirds Sing will be released Spring 2013.

The fine folks at Thomas Nelson have arranged for a meet and greet with Billy in their offices in Nashville. Which is wonderful and exciting, but also creates a bit of a conundrum, because in order to get from Virginia to Tennessee, Billy will need to get on an airplane.

Now, this wouldn’t be such a big deal for many of us, but Mr. Coffey is a man who likes to stay close to his mountains, and his one and only round trip flight on an airplane occurred during the Clinton administration. The world is a different place these days, and knowing the do’s and don’ts of air travel is quite a lot of information for a country boy from the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Never fear, katdish is here to save the day. I assured Billy that I would tell him everything he needed to know before he heads for the airport, provided, of course, he would allow me to use it as blog fodder and have a few laughs at his expense in the process.

I know. I’m a giver…

So for Billy and anyone else facing the daunting task of modern day air travel for the first time, may I present the Hillbilly Guide to Air Travel.

I don’t travel often, but I have been through my fair share of airport security checkpoints. Often enough that I don’t give much thought to the post 911 security restrictions. They’ve become as second nature to me as knowing which side of the gas pump to pull my car up to. But things don’t become second nature if you never do them, and a person who never travels by airplane doesn’t give much thought to what you can and can’t bring with you.

It’s rare to find any self-respecting manly man, particularly a southern manly man, without his trusty pocket knife, but if you find him trying to get through an airport security checkpoint with his trusty pocket knife, you won’t find him there for long.

We carry handguns here in Texas, but they won’t let you on a plane with one of those either. Here’s the FAA list of prohibited “Sharp Objects” for carry-on luggage:

I feel safer knowing the guy sitting next to me on a flight won’t have immediate access to an ice pick, meat cleaver, saber or thrusting weapon, don’t you? It’s also nice to know that if you really need to take your meat cleaver with you everywhere you go, you can put it in your checked luggage.

And while some tools are allowed in your carry-on luggage, I’m sorry to say that you’ll have to leave Bessie at home, Tonto.

It’s a shame you can’t bring a cattle prod with you on a flight, though. I imagine it would speed up some of those slow pokes in the aisle during deplaning.

There are also restrictions for sports equipment in your carry-on luggage, so unfortunately you’ll have to leave your baseball bat in the gun rack of your hoopty.

I’m hoping the results of your meetings will be cause for great celebration, but any celebratory fireworks or hand grenades will need to be purchased and consumed while in Nashville after successfully unboarding your flight.

But enough about all the things you can’t bring with you. Let’s discuss what you can bring.

I know you’ll want to be looking and smelling your best for your big day of meetings, and you can bring just about any of your usual toiletries you use at home, you’ll just have to make sure they are in containers which hold 3.4 ounces or less and they’ll need to fit into a quart sized, zipped topped plastic baggie.

Here’s a brief summary/explanation from our friends at the TSA:

There is a detailed list of personal hygiene items you are permitted to pack in your carry on luggage, but for your convenience (katdish = giver), I have highlighted the ones which pertain to this particular situation:

"Scalp oil? You know that's right!"

*Mouthwash

TSA and FAA approved mouthwash - YES

TSA and FAA approved mouthwash - NO

In addition to any clothes, boots, cowboy hats and above aforementioned items which will fit into a 22″ x 14″ x 9″ carry on bag weighing less than 40 pounds, you may also bring your computer, ipad, notebooks and fancy pens in your man sack, er…briefcase. The captain or one of the flight attendants (who do not like to be called stewardesses) will notify you when you may turn them on.

In conclusion, just a few more suggestions:

  • Plan on arriving 1 to 2 hours prior to your flight in case of delays
  • Make sure you wear nice socks without holes in them because you’re going to have to remove your boots before you pass thru security
  • Be prepared to remove your watch and/or any jewelry which contains a lot of metal or you’ll set off the scanner
  • Don’t be nervous. Air travel is statistically much safer than driving.

I haven’t discussed the possibility of a full body cavity search by the TSA screeners, but I’ll tell you all about that in a separate email. Snort!

Air travel these days can be an enormous pain in the back side, but I hope these tips and suggestions will make your flight plans a little less stressful. Happy flying and think of me while you read the Sky Mall catalog! Good luck.

Something to cheer for

On Sunday, October 14, 2012 with millions of people around the world watching, Austrian Felix Baumgartner became the first man to break the sound barrier outside the confines of an airplane.

In the days leading up to this historic jump, I asked myself why anyone would want to do this. The risks seemed to far outweigh the potential achievement of what seemed to amount to a publicity stunt.

From The Telegraph, UK:

The former military parachutist rose in a purpose-built capsule beneath a giant helium balloon to a height of more than 128,000ft – almost four times the height of a cruising passenger airliner.

After a salute to the millions watching around the world, Baumgartner jumped from the capsule and plummeted toward earth, reaching a speed of 833mph – or Mach 1.24 – faster than the speed of sound, according to his spokesman.

His remarkable feat came exactly 65 years to the day after Chuck Yeager became the first man to break the sound barrier in an aeroplane, and it was one of three world records Baumgartner set with his jump. He also smashed the records for the highest manned balloon flight and the highest skydive.

Minutes before his historic leap, which was broadcast on television around the world, the 43 year-old sat anxiously on the edge of his capsule, looking down at Earth.

As he was instructed to cut his oxygen supply and release his safety harness, mission control in Roswell, New Mexico, told Baumgartner that a “guardian angel was with him”.

He addressed the world with a short speech ahead of his leap. He later clarified that he said: “I know the whole world is watching right now and I wish the world could see what I can see. Sometimes you have to go up really high to understand how small you really are.”
He then added: “I’m going over” before jumping.

Infrared cameras captured him as he initially tumbled in the air before settling into a steady head-first descent.

Baumgartner’s family and friends, including his parents, Ava and Felix, and girlfriend, Nicole Oetl, who had travelled to New Mexico watch, cheered and celebrated as it became clear he was safe.

As he fell to Earth, Baumgartner complained that his visor was steaming up before he pulled his parachute cord. After two or three minutes he appeared against the cloudless blue sky before steering himself to safety, landing on a patch of New Mexico scrubland, just nine minutes after jumping.

Despite his incredible accomplishment, Baumgartner looked almost nonchalant as he hit the ground running before settling into a slow stroll. Only once his parachute had fallen behind him did he drop to his knees and punch the air in celebration.

After reaching such heights, Baumgartner’s next ambition is to take to the sky once again. Although this time his ceiling will be much lower. He hopes to move to the country with his girlfriend, dividing his time between the US and Austria, where he plans to fly helicopters, performing mountain rescues and firefighting.

I did not watch the entire jump live, but I did tune in for the final moments of his descent. While I would never attempt such a thing myself, I’m glad there are men and women willing to push the boundaries of what we are capable of. If for no other reason than to strive to do more, to be more, and to inspire future generations to follow in their footsteps.

Yes, the world is a mess and Baumgartner’s achievement did nothing to make it any less messier. But sometimes it’s just good to have something or someone to cheer for.

In a press conference after the jump, an emotional Baumgartner said, “When I was standing there on top of the world so humble, you are not thinking about breaking records. I was thinking about coming back alive. You do not want to die in front of your parents and all these people….I thought ‘please God, don’t let me down.”

Felix Baumgartner sat on the edge of space looking down upon the world not considering how big his accomplishment would be, but how very small he was, and he reminded me that being small is not such a bad thing, when a God so big holds us in the palm of His hand.

Indeed. God did not let him down.

Page 6 of 117« First...«45678»102030...Last »