Climate Change.

Earl and I were enjoying dinner at 6:00 p.m. Central Time. The curtains were drawn and we had a beautiful view onto our balcony and the cityscape it reveals. Here it is mid-November and we were also seeing flashes of lightning. Not unheard of but not very common for this part of the country in the middle of November.

I’ve been paying close attention to the weather for the past 24 hours in preparation for a flight I have planned for Sunday afternoon. Even the aviation forecasts are describing our weather as a “roller coaster” this weekend, with flashes of autumn and winter taking turns in the same day.

All of this has been leading me to think about Climate Change. Even though the apparent position of the United States is that Climate Change doesn’t really exist, I can’t help but notice the weather feel different than it did when I was a kid. A little less predictable. A little more like a roller coaster. As I chug through the last year of my 40s, I do think about the fact that the really bad stuff probably won’t happen until I move onto the next phase of my eternal journey. I worry about my young nieces and nephews though. What are they going to have to deal with when they’re my age? What will the planet be like? How much of the Continental United States will be under water?

It would be easy for me to think, “eh, this isn’t my problem, I’ll be gone”, but that’s not part of responsible thinking, now is it. We should work hard, give more than we take and do what we can to make the world a better place than how we found it. As “the greatest country on Earth” moves farther and farther away from that goal, tending to one’s selfishness seems to be the goal of the day, I can’t help but wonder what permanent damage we are doing to life on Earth with our collective irresponsible choices.

I hope someday we all smarten up a little bit and start seeing the Big Picture again. It would be a nice change of pace.

Why.

Years ago I was walking into Danbury Fair Mall. Several people were making their way through one of the entrances and a man held the door for the line of six or so people that walked through. I said “thank you” as I passed through, but I had a frog in my throat and it just sounded like a croak. Getting oriented to the mall, the man ran up to those of us in the process of dispersing into our own directions and yelled, “You’re suppose to say thank you! You’re welcome!”. His grandiose gesture brought the gaze of others upon us and we were to feel sufficiently shunned.

This had me wondering, was the man holding the door open to be polite to those of us passing through the entranceway? Was he holding the door open to feel better about himself? Did he need to feel superior in some way? I couldn’t help but think that his gesture was not a gesture of kindness but an gesture of superiority.

I don’t think I’ve ever stopped asking “why”. As a kid I’m sure I was always asking my mom and dad crazy questions like, “why do the power lines always travel in pairs” or “why do they open register 2 before opening register 1” or “why is the first exit in Ohio exit 241?”. I’m always searching for a reason or a justification or a cause for every and anything in the world. Knowing the impetus behind an action or a situation completes my thoughts on it. It isn’t necessarily closure but there’s logic and that brings me comfort. My dad died because he didn’t keep his airplane airborne at a low altitude. There is a second stop sign on the wrong side of the street at many intersections in Chicago because the signs are easily hidden by parked cars. I was the only one of my generation with red hair because the Irish genes on both side of the family met under the right circumstances at the right time to kick off the ginger gene.

When something happens or somebody does something without an apparent logical reason I can be bothered by it. I think that’s one of the reasons why I struggle with some friends and members of my family still being Trump supporters. There is rarely any logic behind anything the Trump administration does. There’s no rationality behind exclaiming Trump is “The People’s President” when the man has never worked a day in life, dodged the draft, openly admitted that he’d sleep with his daughter if they weren’t related, has toilets, heck, complete rooms gilded in gold, has bankrupted several companies, has his own fleet of jets, had his wife imported from the old country and signs legislation that will bring more financial burden to the middle class. In what world is any of that indicative of “a man of the people”.

I can’t figure out why this country is gripped in such hysterics, angst, vengeance, and competitiveness.

If we set aside our egos, stop the grandstanding and take a step back and look at the world around us (instead of focusing on our small speck of an existence we’ve built), it’s really easy to see that we are way off kilter. The only reason I can find for the craziness is 9/11 and the ensuing non-stop wars afterward. There’s lot of chest beating about how we beat the terrorists and we are doing great things in the world, but it only takes a quick glance at the news or social media or the communities around us to see that we haven’t won anything. Watch a rerun of any television show from before 2001 and see how much different we were. Brighter colors. Brighter smiles. Brighter times.

With the constant turmoil of 2017 I have not been able to rationalize any of it, and it’s taking a toll on my psyche. Moving to Chicago has helped a bit; the people here are friendlier, there’s more to do and the skies are brighter more often than they were in Central New York, but it didn’t resolve the logic I’m searching for.

And for a person that needs some sort of resolution or logic or a complete circle of thought to any given situation, I’m ready for these times to end and for us to start acting rationally again.

How Can I?

How can I sit here and write about my life when people have been shot in Las Vegas in the past 24 hours in what is being termed as the “Deadliest Shooting in Modern U.S. History”.

How can I sit here and read about all these “thoughts and prayers” when the words mean nothing if there’s no action. Our government will do nothing to legislate sensible gun control. Is there some sort of macro that just belches out “thoughts and prayers” whenever a news feed detects another mass shooting?

How can I sit here and write in my blog when folks in Puerto Rico are still dealing with catastrophic conditions, trying to recover from one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded? Trump tweets and tweets and tweets. Folks in Puerto Rico are looking for drinking water, food and electricity. Trump tweets. Oh, and he golfs.

How can I sit here and write in my blog when Trump is basically saying that diplomatic efforts with North Korea are futile. He really wants to bomb that country. I’m very worried that it will bring about the end.

How can I sit here and write in my blog when it feels so futile?

We used to be better than this. Hope, prosperity, striving for peace – it all seems like a rapidly fading distant memory.

War.

I was daydreaming during my morning walk, thinking about the new Star Trek series I mentioned in my previous blog entry. I can’t help but think that in the 1960s, fans of the original “Star Trek” watched the show in part because of the promise of a bold, kinder future. People were looking to escape away from the political turmoil of the late 1960s. This is in stark contrast to the “reboot” movies in the Star Trek universe and now the latest series, “Star Trek: Discovery”. All of these new looks into a once familiar universe are based upon strife and war.

My realization today was that we have a generation of young adults coming to age that have known nothing but a United States at war. These young people have known nothing but political strife, chaos, threats, and terrorism their entire lives. Entertainment, in an effort to connect to the young average viewer, is now honing in on all of this war. They’re entertaining us with the very turmoil that we should be trying to escape from.

What a very sad state of affairs.

When I think about the future I see bright colors. I hear articulate phrases. I hope for harmony. I hope for peace. Our “entertainment” doesn’t show that universe and I fear it’s because it’s not what people want anymore. I worry that a generation of Americans that have known nothing but war will always seek out war. 

Peace seems further away than it ever has before.

#TakeAKnee

I wonder how many of these folks carrying on in support of 45’s tirade about taking a knee during the National Anthem would have scolded the Colonialists for taking a stand against the British Monarchy. Tea anyone? Admit it, every one of those free thinkers, you know, the ones that wrote the Declaration of Independence, were not afraid to protest. They took a stand in what they believed in. They were not afraid to think. They were not afraid to go outside of the box. Anyone that scolds that sort of behavior, especially in these extremely divisive times, is at the very least short sighted. This is not about protesting the American flag. Don’t fall for that. That message is part of Trump’s blathering, extremely UNPRESIDENTIAL rhetoric. This is about protesting the narrow-mindedness of what’s going on under this president. If you’re fine with racism, homophobia, unnecessary violence against minorities and prejudice in general, you’re not part of the solution.

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Another Rant.

This could be my last post on Facebook but it probably won’t be because apparently I can be some sort of masochist.

Rant time: It’s “nice” that Facebook can barrage me with a constant stream of horrific memories of 9/11 on September 12. I mean, why be timely when you can relive the sad desperation of that horrible day over and over again, day after day, to garner more ad money for this service? 9/11/01 was a tragedy, no doubt, and some of the posts I read yesterday were quite touching and thoughtful. But today is September 12 and I strive to move forward with my life. But Facebook, in all its “infinite wisdom” wants me to wallow on sorrow, just like the barrage of Father’s Day ads I see every year, even though I have told Facebook several times that my father is deceased. Why am I still on this thing? I really have no idea other than everyone seems to be afraid of venturing outside of Facebook these days. To share is to Facebook. Most folks like echo chambers and their news fed to them by Facebook. I seek. I search. I learn. If you want to contact me, text me. Email me. Follow my idiotic tweets. Read my blog. Heck, if you’re shy and don’t want to talk to me, I’ll set up a free voicemail account and you do the same and we’ll exchange voicemails. Write me a letter. Step outside of this walled garden of growing idiocracy, there’s a beautiful world out there.

What?

I did a search of Twitter on “Irma Landfall” to see the latest tweets about the strongest hurricane in history. Amongst a wide assortment of charts, facts, and speculation, this little gem of a tweet popped up.

Again, I ask those that think “God will handle this”. ISN’T IT GOD’S HURRICANE TO BEGIN WITH?

It’s CLIMATE CHANGE. The climate is changing and it isn’t for the better.

The Age of Aquarius has morphed into the Age of Idiocracy.

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“Friendly” Skies.

After a long week away from home for work, I was ready to fly the one hop from Rochester, N.Y. to Chicago to be back in our new comfort zone. Work had gone well, I was feeling pumped about my new role at the company and I had a smile on my face.

I was scheduled to fly United 518 from Rochester to Chicago. Departure was at 5:23 PM. I was at the gate early; one of my co-workers had a 4:00 PM conference call so we carpooled early to the airport and I was through security in plenty of time.

Quick sidebar (still in corporate-speak mode): the TSA made me take ALL electronics out of my backpack for the first time ever. Normally I put all of my belongings in my bag so I don’t need a bunch of bins. I then take out my laptop and put it in a separate bin. My shoes and belt go in another bin. My backpack rides through solo. Yesterday I had to take my iPhone, iPad and laptop out of my backpack and place them all in separate bins. When asked about any other electronics I told them I had headphones in there but they didn’t care about those, which is interesting since my AirPods are really little computers with speakers, but that’s just geek speak. When I asked the TSA agent why my iPhone and iPad had to be in separate bins, she told me it was new procedures as of this week. The rules and regulations of this country are such a moving target these days. The moral of the story is people like chaos and they vote for more chaos.

Anyway, at 4:40 PM, a gate agent that was struggling with the operation of the microphone announced that there would be a slight delay due to a mechanical issue and we would be updated shortly. The sign behind her head still proudly proclaimed the flight was On-Time and departing at 5:23 PM.

At 5:10 PM a supervisor installed herself behind the other terminal at the gate. A bearded gate agent (not a woman) stationed himself where they beep your ticket. People started lining up in the designated cattle chutes by their assigned groups, because United believes people are cattle and should be lining up in chutes. I’m always reminded of “Celebrity Sweepstakes” by it’s not as fun without Carol Wayne and trust me, no one is a winner when they’re standing in a chute waiting to get on a United flight.

5:23 PM came and went without a peep from anyone that was intently staring into their computer screens. Bearded man was approached by a couple of people and he said “I don’t have time to address your question” a few times before the cattle got the message that he had no hay. There had been no update from anyone behind the desk since the 4:40 PM announcement of a ‘slight’ delay.

A pilot-y looking man came from the jet bridge and shook his head. I knew the flight was cancelled, others knew the flight was cancelled but the monitor behind the intent people proclaimed “On-Time”, though it was after our 5:23 PM departure time.

The monitors were then turned off. The United app continued to proclaim “On-Time”.

After 5:30 PM, supervisor-y looking woman announced that “there is a mechanical issue that would take too long to fix so we are canceling the flight”. She then said, “this is our last flight of the night and all the flights from other airlines are booked.” She then continued with “call the 800 number or go down to ticketing as we are a bit busy here at the gate.”

The lead bull in Chute #3 (that would be me) immediately called the United number. The older couple behind me panicked because they had a smartphone and didn’t know what to do. I used my bullhorn voice to proclaim the number to anyone that wanted to hear it. After wading through approximately four minutes of a chipper automated man asking about my experience, my phone number, my frequent flyer details and whether this phone number was who I really was or not (he sounded like he was fueled by cocaine) I finally reached a woman and told her of my plight. When asked why I was not on the flight that left at 5:23 PM I told her that the flight is still here and has been cancelled. She asked me why it wasn’t marked cancelled and I told her, in no uncertain terms, that the gate agents weren’t really engaged and basically said we were on our own. The airplane would take too long to fix.

She immediately booked me for an American flight leaving at 6:12 PM but was concerned that Rochester Airport was too big for me to make the flight. I told her not to worry, the only thing big about Rochester was its ego.

I arrived at gate A8, keeping the United agent on the line, and confirmed that I had a seat. However, Katie at the American Airlines counter informed me that because United had not sent over my bag I was unable to get on the aircraft. She could not separate me from my bag. I had hung up with United because she had waved my boarding pass in my hand and then taken it back when she found out I hadn’t retrieved my checked luggage from a United 737 myself. She told me that I couldn’t get on without my bag and I had to take it up with United.

I had what was probably my most epic hissy fit in public in the 49 years of riding this rock around the sun.

“I’m not allowed in the cargo hold.”

“You mean, even though I have a seat, the gate is still open and I’m all confirmed, I can’t get on because my luggage is on another airplane?”

“Do you realize that airlines lose luggage as a sport and you’re ruining the fun for everyone involved with the fiasco?”

“This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever heard of a passenger not being able to fly because he doesn’t have his luggage with him. Who made up that rule?”

“Trust me, there is nothing and no one in Rochester, New York that warrants any sort of special rules about luggage. I’m surprised there’s anyone left to travel.”

She asked me to step back from the counter. I stepped back and called United. United told me that the woman was crazy and when she heard I was telling various people about “Katie at A8” she let me on the airplane if I agreed to be separated from my luggage and not sue American Airlines about it.

I said, “don’t worry Katie, I’ll be on the airplane in less than five minutes and you can go back to your mundane existence.”

She glared as she gave me my boarding pass. I thanked her for putting up with my tirade, promised her I’d never see her again and wished her a Happy Friday.

The woman that beeped me through was surly. I said, “you should try being chipper like Katie.”

Yes, I’m a dick. I’m not often a dick but when it’s time for me to be a dick I can be a dick. I don’t mind being a dick. I’m not afraid calling out people when they’re being willfully stupid. The last time I went to the epic setting was at a Wawa on a cashier who would shut off the gas pump anytime a customer took their hand off the gas nozzle during a raging rain storm. The gas nozzles were equipped with those little flippy things to keep them on but she said new rules didn’t allow their use. I’m fairly certain she no longer abuses her “power” after I dressed her down to nearly tears.

When I sat down in seat 14B, after being glared at by folks that had been sitting on the airplane longer than they wanted to, I told everyone around me, “I’m sorry for the delay but there’s some wacky rules about luggage in Rochester, New York. And trust me, I’m not going to win a popularity contest at this airport anytime soon. I won’t even win Mr. Congeniality. On the bright side this isn’t United and I have no hair to grab onto.” A few people laughed. An older couple headed to Greece (not Greece, New York) came up the aisle behind me mentioning the idiocy they had to go through. They stopped at my seat and thanked me because I had blazed the trail for being separated from your luggage on an American flight departing Rochester, New York.

Next time you’re on Celebrity Sweepstakes, don’t doubt the bullhorn at the lead of United Chute #3.

Lessons learned? I will never, ever, ever fly United again, simply because they really don’t care about their customers at all. They never cancelled United 518 but simply marked it delayed for 17 hours. I’m suspecting this was to avoid paying for hotel rooms for stranded passengers but I don’t know this for certain. But the bottom line is that United never communicated with their 110 or so passengers that were waiting for the flight and when they did they said we were on our own to find our way back. They couldn’t have cared less. That speaks volumes about the customer service experience with United. I’ve experienced this on previous United flights. Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me. There won’t be a third time.

If you can’t kill them with kindness, which usually works for me, go epic.