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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.

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Technical Difficulties.

I was all set to write a witty blog entry about our latest adventures with washing machines when I discovered that something somewhere has changed with my WordPress configuration. I can no longer write images to the blog. This makes me sad.

I’m thinking something has changed on the hosted server so I have opened a trouble ticket. Wish me luck.

Gravel.

A couple of weeks ago I was musing about how great of shape our road was in. Well maintained, smooth, probably too much so because it encouraged folks from the housing developments up the hill to come speeding down well above the 45 MPH speed limit.

Yesterday the county highway department went through, slapped some oil down and put gravel on top of it.

The work crew went by pretty quickly. One minute we had a beautifully smooth road, the next minute we had a bunch of oil and tar flung about with gravel plopped on top. Some folks slowed down to prevent damage to their vehicle, as there was gravel flying around all over the place, but others just barreled on through above the 45 MPH posted speed limit, dust and stones flying everywhere.

The enhancements to our road have covered up any lane markings and I’m sure the county highway department is waiting for things to settle down before painting the yellow and white stripes. You can still eyeball the middle of the road without an issue but folks in this area are too busy looking at their phones, shaving and/or trying to be stylish in their ride to be aware of their surroundings, so folks are now flying down the road hugging the shoulder. The shoulder is no longer discernible from the main roadway because the county just put stone over everything.

Since I’m not riding my bike this year (due to surgery recovery) I’m doing a lot of walking, especially before work and during two short breaks during my work day. I’ve had to jump in the ditch at least a dozen times in the past 24 hours.

I get that we’re rapidly moving into a “every man for himself” mentality in the United States but when I’m driving a vehicle I still have empathy for pedestrians and cyclists, no matter how annoyingly placed on the roadway they may be. As a pilot we must give way to aircraft types that are slower and/or smaller than what we’re flying. I wish the same applied to the rule of the road.

In the meanwhile, I’ll keep leaping into the ditch as a Kardashian wannabe comes flying through the gravel at 60 MPH.

It Just Works, Part 2.

I really miss the days of Steve Jobs at Apple. While Apple is still the leader in the quality of hardware products, their Internet services can be a struggle at times.

I’m trying to manage my Apple ID two-factor authentication settings this morning. The resulting webpage looks like this.

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Sun.

Over the past couple of years solar farms have been appearing across some of the local landscape in our county. They are especially prevalent around the county buildings near the old county airport.

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I’m happy to see this type of growth in our region, as there’s a lot of open space that is being used with this clean energy generation. If Earl and I still lived on the big swath of land we owned back in the early 2000s, I’d probably be pushing for a solar farm of some sort on our land.

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While I kind of understand the community resistance to wind farms, I really don’t see why folks have fits about solar farms. Back when the Paris Accord was signed back in 2005, some of the reasoning as to why solar farms are bad for us were baffling. A retired science teacher in North Carolina was concerned that the solar panels would divert the sun away from vegetation. She claimed the solar panels would retard photosynthesis. The vegetation around the solar farms in this area are thriving. Perhaps she just wanted to throw out the word “photosynthesis” to prove to the town council that she was a scientific genius. She also claimed that no one could tell her that these panels didn’t cause cancer. So much for an open mind.

There have also been claims that the panels will suck all of the energy out of the sun and burn it out. My only response to this, “and these people vote”.

Solar Roadway panels only 1 580 435

There are efforts to build solar roadways elsewhere in the world. Basically, pavement would be replaced with solar panels which can also have LED lighting embedded in them. These panels would be wired to cabling in raceways along the roadway, which in turn would be tied into the local power grid. Imagine, all that asphalt replaced with solar panels. How awesome would that be? No more worries about an eyesore in a nearby field!

Rutgers board of gov 20110405 SolarLot

Another great idea is the addition of solar canopies to parking lots. In a previous job, when I would visit an office outside of Dallas, Texas, the biggest complaint from the local folks was that the new company building did not have a parking garage. Their vehicles were sitting outside, baking in the August Texas heat. Imagine if a relatively inexpensive parking lot canopy made of solar panels was installed over the area. Cars in the shade and electric power generation in one swoop. This would even benefit us in the northeast. Snow off the car in the winter while providing electric power for the surrounding area.

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We can have such a bright future if, as a society, we stop clinging to the past of young, fairly ignorant technology and keep moving innovation forward. Both wind and sun are an unlimited source. Being part of the Paris Climate Accord, no matter how “symbolic” it appeared to be, was a positive step in the right direction.

We need to focus on building a brighter, cleaner future. Stagnant thoughts and ideas will never get us anywhere. We have a future to build. As a world, let’s all build that future together.