Friday, September 23, 2011

Power Cookies and The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Stay with me on this one, folks. I'm breaking my own rule of "Keep it short."

Recent travel experiences have led me to believe that although humanity may not necessarily be doomed by its own social flaws, it is absolutely living on thin ice.

In this tale, I address the problem of Power Cookies. You know them; you just don't know that you know them. I have used the term for decades to describe the change that comes over certain people when they are placed in positions of authority or power over other people. Ever met someone who seemed drunk with power? Someone who brandished their authority over you for no reason other than the ability to do so? Think a little, and you'll come up with someone pretty quickly, I'll bet.

-That security guard in your apartment building who acts as if he was the emperor of the front desk area.

-The guy at the college football stadium who keeps you from bringing your camera bag into the game, because, in his words, "Terrorists can use bags to bring bombs into the stadium."*

-Anyone at an airport who pats you down.

-The snotty maƮtre d' who has at least three open tables but will make you wait an hour anyway.

You get it. They are ubiquitous. These people all have something in common: they have all eaten Power Cookies, the invisible, yet powerful snack of petty dictators and angry people worldwide. They must be delicious, because so many people eat enormous quantities of them. And I met one of the more delirious ones, yesterday.

Remember the childhood story of The Three Billy Goats Gruff? Goats want to cross bridge, evil troll under bridge prevents them from crossing and threatens to eat them. That troll had polished off his appetizer of Power Cookies a few minutes before the goats got to his bridge.

My troll was a Continental Airlines Stewardess, Shrike, Harpy, Flight Attendant who still had cookie crumbs dribbling down her chin. I had just run the length of the Houston airport, due to the Keystone Kops-like scheduling of Continental's connecting flights in opposite terminals (in which my flight departing Houston began boarding five minutes before my arriving flight landed!).

Perspiring, winded, and a little miffed (yet still smiling because I actually made it in time), I worked my way to seat 29A only to be met halfway by the aforementioned cookie crumb-laden Troll. Apparently, since being acquired by United Airlines, Continental's new greeting for passengers is to make a throat slashing signal with one's forefinger. I kid you not, the Troll's first action upon meeting me in the aisle was to run her finger across her throat, point at me, and say, "There's no room for your roll away bag."

But it wasn't as if she was informing me of a simple fact. With her best "You're late!" expression, and in her most authoritative voice, she made it sound as if I was trying to storm the plane and steal her special cookies. The words she used said one thing, but the meaning was clear. "Halt, you villainous bastard, or I'll cut your throat and kick your body out of one the three approved emergency exits!"

What the hell do you say to that? Between gasps for air, I tried to explain the situation to her briefly. Her reaction? "Well, sir. I am trying to help you! She wouldn't let me pass so I could at least put my computer bag down on my seat. So I simply asked her where the bag could be placed (at which time I'm sure both of us thought of pretty much the same thing). She had me trudge back to the front of the plane and try to find an overhead bin, which I did.

To shorten this long tale, she did what all flight attendants are trained to do, which is to raise human suffering to a new level, and to assert a certain bitter authority over us puny sardines whom the airlines pack into their winged tins.

Travel. The antithesis of what it should be, thanks to Power Cookies and a Norwegian folk tale.

* I swear on a stack of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life that these are the exact words that were spoken to me by some jerkoff at a Penn State football game when he refused me access to the stadium. My photographer friend and I both had the same cameras with us, but I had mine in its protective bag because it was raining at the time. My friend was allowed in, and I was refused entry because, in addition to my camera, I apparently could have been carrying Fat Man** in my small bag. The result: a half mile walk back to the car, in the rain, to put my camera bag back, and another walk back to the stadium. And I payed for the privilege.

**Look it up yourself, slackers. Respect mah Authority-Tay!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Quickies, Toejam, and Appreciation

I have just a few, somewhat random thingy-bops to jot down.

I got to use the word(s?) Toejam in a sentence tonight. It felt really good. The recipient of the sentence is a great blogger. She is under-appreciated. Read her blog and you'll know what I mean.

Mrs. Tuna is awesome:

Appreciation, now that I'm on it...if you feel it toward someone, show it, say it, scream it to that person. Not later, but now. I want you all to do this, because I know that every one of us has someone we appreciate but have failed to acknowledge. And you never know if tomorrow will be too late. Think about how good it feels when someone lets you know you're appreciated for something. Pretty good, isn't it?

Yeah. Spread that stuff around a bit.

Quickies? Not what you think, although the ones you thought of have merit, too.
Quickies has to do with the aforementioned acknowledging of appreciation. As in it doesn't take very long to do. A mere few seconds of your time can mean the difference between a good day and a bad day for someone. Or deeper still, between someone feeling despondent or hopeful.

So give somebody a quickie today and make them feel really fabulous.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The 7 X 7 Link Award

On Saturday, I received an award from Nubian. She is a terrific person, talented writer, and just one hell of a good human being. I am quite humbled by her choosing me as one of her awardees. 
The award is the 7 X 7 Link Award. I am to find a number (seven - shocking) posts of my own, and link to them here. Each has a category it will belong to.

I will then pass this award along to seven people. Not just any seven people. Seven of my favorites. If any of you have won this award before, you can be exempt from the assignment portion, but please accept the award as a token of my esteem for you.

My seven posts are:
  1. Most Beautiful (admittedly a difficult one to find): Wildlife Moments
  2. Most Helpful: In my opinion, anything that dispels a myth, urban legend, conspiracy theory or other goofball fantasy is a good thing. Helpful. So I consider this post helpful. Flying Rods
  3. Most Popular: According to the blog's statistics, it is Conversation With A Trophy
  4. Most Controversial: Tough call, as I don't consider myself controversial. Sometimes I stick foot in mouth, but normally, I don't go for controversy. However, having given a strong opinion in this post, I may have stirred some little controversy.
  5. Most Surprisingly Successful: Anything I write is a surprise if it read by one person, let alone successful. Since I can't put all of my posts here, I'll pick one. Submarine Races And Other Things I've Fallen For
  6. Most Underrated: This one I do have a strong opinion on, as it got almost totally blanked after it was published. But I really enjoyed writing it and think it's worth a read. The Do Over
  7. Most Pride-worthy: This was almost a tie, but I'll put my most popular one in here, too. Conversation With A Trophy
I now pass this award along to seven of my very favorite bloggers, even if they've already been given this award by someone else.

Keely, The Un Mom
Barbara, Spasms of Accommodation, because she is quite simply, amazing. 
The Bloggess, as if you didn't see this coming a mile away. 
Think.Stew, who just happens to be brilliant, and someone I'd love to hang out with. My favorite guy in the blogosphere.

And I saved one of my very favorite people in life for last. She will turn beet-red when she reads this because she is genuinely humble and doesn't realize she's a genius - 

If you've been given the award already, you don't have to do anything. The rest of you know what to do. 
And YOU, my dear readers - go see these people and add them to your must-read list!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

From a Recent Air Show

It's no secret: I love Air Shows. What can I say? I'm an aviator, through and through. Flew before I could drive, taught by my Navy fighter pilot father, then later trained as an Army Aviator, and flew for years in some kick-ass aircraft.

It's really the most fun you can have with your clothes on.
Now that I don't get to cheat death in these machines, I get the random opportunity to photograph them.

 Enjoy a few pics from a show held at the Lancaster County Community Days Air Show, put on over my birthday weekend this past August.


Got MiG?

Closing speed of over 600 mph. Two jets from the Heavy Metal Jet Team.

The Mig-17 stole the show (and my heart).

"King Kong" just couldn't catch this guy.

And this guy will just plain ruin your day if you're in his sights. A-10 Thunderbolt (aka Warthog).

Old fashioned air conditioning.

Just a little rush hour traffic.