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Monday, March 29, 2010

Now Boarding at Gate 999

Back when I used to travel a LOT, I told an airline employee that I was very impressed with their company's computing power. When she looked pleased but a bit puzzled, I explained. I told her it took an amazing amount of computing power to assure that my original boarding gate was as far from security as possible, my arrival gate was as far from ground transportation/baggage as possible, or if I was catching another flight that my arrival gate and my departure gate distances were maximized. She was no longer as pleased.

I am travelling this week and have more musing on the wonders of travel.

I find myself even more amazed at the airlines computing power today. They still are able or maximize any distances I have to travel to, from, or between planes. However, now they are able to assure that my seat mate is larger than me. I am usually sitting with an empty seat beside me just knowing that the first person resembling King Kong that comes down the aisle will ask me to get up so they can sit next to me. I am sorry, but anyone that has a shoe that old women are trying to move into or a T-shirt size with more than two Xs should NOT be allowed to sit in a middle seat - ESPECIALLY next to me!

Sure enough, I boarded my flight to leave home yesterday and was on one of the small regional jets. I was in the window seat with an empty seat next to me. The plane was almost full and I stupidly thought there was a chance that I might actually have no one next to me and would be able to stretch out a bit. HAH!. Suddenly I felt the plane lurch to the side and start shaking like the glass of water in Jurassic Park. The lights were blotted out as a wall of human flesh moved towards my row. Of course, once I saw the leviathan I knew I had my seat mate. As he headed down the aisle, I noticed that no matter which way he turned his body he was brushing against seat backs and shoulders. I again was marvelling at the computational power the airlines have. I was not even aware they knew the weights and sizes of their passengers. But it is obvious to me that they are no only aware - they use this information to pick MY SEAT MATES!

Another use of amazing computing capacity is making sure I am sitting within two rows - always in front of - a person that has an active case of pneumonia or tuberculosis. This is a relatively new development. For the past two or three years, whenever I fly, there is someone behind me that is deternined to lose a lung during the flight. We were not quite down the runway yesterday before the lady directly behind me began ejecting portions of her lung onto and over my seat back. Seriously, there were a few times I thought she was going to pop an eyeball out. The air was thick with sputum and disease. Sandwiched in between the window and Jumbo beside me with pieces of diseased lung flying about pretty much makes for a wonderful trip. I think Dante had something similar in his seventh level of hell.

There are other examples of this massive computational wizardry on display when I fly. Like, how they make my bag come off the baggage carousel among the last. Or, how they can assure that my gate is as far from a bathroom as is possible. It is amazing that they can determine that my gate will be as far from an open refreshement stand of any type as it can be. Truly amazing. Must be a Microsoft - Intel thing. Hey Bill, I'm a supporter - call off the dogs.

I am looking forward to my return trip in a couple of days. I am sure Delta is offering a special out of Dallas to any retired Dallas Cowboy tackle that is looking for a few days in North Carolina. If they have pneumonia - they fly FREE!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Swiss have voted!

If you have not read the post below, you may want to.

The referendum has been held. The Swiss have decided by an overwhelming margin that they are not insane. Animals will not have access to public defenders to pursue animal rights cases.

Maybe there is hope for us all after all.

Now if the U.S. Congress could show some signs of intelligence!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The jury is still out

OK, there is now some doubt about whether we are the craziest society on earth. I just read a Wall Street Journal article about a referendum that will occur tomorrow - Sunday 3/7/2010. The Swiss people will be voting on whether the government needs to provide animal lawyers - public defenders for "animal rights". Now, I think animal abuse is awful. Anyone that would purposefully harm a defenseless animal should be punished legally and by society. However, Switzerland has taken this idea to a whole new level. They already have one animal public defender that operates in one of the cantons (kind of like our states, or "super"-counties). He recently prosecuted a fisherman over the abuse of a pike. This abuse occurred while a fisherman was catching the defendant (pike). The legal argument was based on the fact that the fisherman took too long to land the defendant and caused it undue suffering. The court threw the case out, but only because the court said it had no jurisdiction due to the fact that the defendant was not a resident of that canton and the abuse did not occur there.

FYI, Switzerland already has the most over-reaching of laws concerning "animal rights".  Prospective dog owners must take a state approved four hour course before buying a pet. Social species like fish, birds, and yaks (a lovely pet I'm sure!) must be kept with companions, and sold in pairs (or more). There are even  specific directions in the law about how to "put down" a sick fish with a humane blow to the head or by immersing it in water mixed with clove oil diluted in alcohol. A 2003 Swiss law requires that animals be treated as sentient beings, not property.

As I said, although I do not believe animals have "rights". I do believe they deserve humane treatment. Pets deserve love and respect in addition to food and water. However, when farmers are fearful of being dragged to court every time they "harvest" animals for their meat and hides, fisherman are afraid to take to long to land a catch, or hunters must be wary of any "abuse" when legally hunting; we have a problem.

I will be watching for the results of the referendum in Switzerland. I will be expecting the same here at some point.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Who's trippin' down the streets of the city...

This was obviously a bad day for this soccer goalie in Germany.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqUhmHsG5P0&feature=player_embedde

In some South American countries, this could get you killed!

If you got the title reference, you are probably my age or close and have a good memory.

Later.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Will cluck for food (second post today - check both)

I stopped by Food Lion tonight and picked up some groceries. Because it was late (and both my wife and I like it) I got some fried chicken from their deli. We have gotten it before and it is quite good, and a very good value. (OK Food Lion - free food coupons can be sent to the email attached to this blog - but stop reading here) The chicken in not as meaty as the stuff you get from KFC or other chicken places, but it is about half the price.

We sat down to eat and I grabbed a breast. I bit into it and started eating. About 40 seconds later I was down to all bone. I looked at my wife and said "This chicken died of starvation, based on the meat on these bones!". I ate some of the potato salad and macaroni salad, but what I wanted was some chicken. I grabbed another piece, this one a thigh. There was no way this chicken was ambulatory. The size of the thigh was so puny that there is no way there was enough muscle mass to move the chicken around! I had the tiny little bone in my hand and I told my wife I felt like the guy in the Wendy's commercial saying "$2.99" with the little bitty drink in his hand.

I can picture the farm that these Food Lion chickens came from - thousands of emaciated fowl dragging themselves along on their little wheeled dollies, legs too weak to support their weight; their breasts caved in like a TB patient at the end of life, without the strength to move their wings. I can see them throwing themselves onto any morsel of food that they happen to come across as they fight off starvation. Their only hope is the processing plant and the sweet release of death.

Oh well, I still like the taste of the chicken. Next time I guess I will just buy two packages.

Go ahead, take out that $1 million mortgage

I was going to write one of my stunning commentaries on life, liberty, and small animals; but decided to wait and see if I need to. The CERN people in Europe are firing up the Large Hadron Collider again. So, we may all be headed to a black hole. If you don't remember or know what I am talking about see the two posts below and/or Google it.

I'm Baaaack from Sept 13, 2009 and Still Here from Nov 7, 2009.

Wonder if any "birds" got 300 feet underground again?

I will admit that finding the Higgs bosun is a facinating prospect, but I still wonder about this thing. Oh well, at least it will be quick...