Tag Archives: Rants

Fine Travels


I’m fine.

 

No, really, I’m fine.

 

Ok, I’m a little stressed, but I’m fine.

 

Maybe more than a little stressed because I’m traveling, and travel is stressful.

 

Did you know that Fakeipedia says that travel is the 3rd most stressful thing anybody can put themselves through, right behind missing the winning field goal in the Superbowl, and supervising a field trip to a gunpowder factory with 62 seven year olds who’ve just eaten a 2 pound bag of sugar… each? It’s on the Internet so it must be true.

I imagine that the amount of stress from travel depends on the type of travel combined with how far you are going. For instance, when we get off of our couch, during the commercial break of Sheriff Lobo, and travel to the fridge for another “delicious” Pabst Ultra-Lite with “Lime”, the stress is fairly low.

When we get off of our couch, during the commercial break of Sheriff Lobo, and travel to Chongju North Korea by steerage on a Turkish oil tanker for another “delicious” Glorious Leader Malt Liquor™, it’s a little more stressful.

Air travel seems to fall somewhere in between these two examples, (even though it can feel a lot like steerage on an oil tanker) and you would think that it would get less stressful the more you flew. Sadly, this is not the case.

 

If you are a person who only flies occasionally, say once every few years, air travel becomes an exciting stressful adventure. You start by booking a ticket to London England, nine months before you want to travel, because there is a Super-Duper-Seat-Sale where you can save 3% on your ticket (not including security fees, airport fees, taxes, and flight attendant polyester uniform surcharges), but you’ll have to pay extra for all of your luggage and seat selection.

Then 6 months before you fly, you see a Facebook event about a Sheriff Lobo festival that happens in Cornwall, three days before you are due to arrive in the UK, so you change your flight in order to attend, (for a flight change and internet inconvenience fee) and start combing the Value Villages for cowboy hats, sheriff badges, and a Deputy Perkins bald cap.

But then 3 months before you go, you discover that the Sheriff Lobo festival is only celebrating season 2, which is when they changed the format and added that stupid alien deputy from outer space, and you are NOT subjecting yourself to those horrors again, so you change back to the flight you originally had (for a repeat business indecision fee) but you keep the Sheriff Lobo costume so you can wear it around the house and to weddings.

Two months before you are due to leave, the Canadian economy takes a nose dive, and the British economy surges due to the rise in the price of scones, and you end up needing $14.45 Canadian to buy a Pound Sterling, but you’ve already booked your vacation days from work, so you can’t cancel.

But then you see something on the Twitter about a copycat Burning Man festival called Smoldering Dude that takes place just outside of Butte Montana. They encourage participants to bring their musical instruments and “Jam whilst the Dude smolders”, and since you just bought that one of a kind amazing banjo off of Ebay, you think “I can smolder”.

 

So you change your flight again (for a rudeness levy and a British colony rejection fee) and prepare for the trip by practicing Radiohead on your banjo, cutting a bunch of holes in your Wranglers, and growing a beard so you can fit in with the rest of the Butte Smolderers.

Two weeks before the trip, you start gathering all the things you need and start packing. After packing, you decide that a giant rolling suitcase might look out of place at Smoldering Dude, so you go on to Ebay and buy a top of the line 80 litre German made backpack that is constructed from the same space age polymers that were used to make The CERN Large Hadron Collider. It only cost you a nonrefundable $1800 because you used some of your frequent flyer points along with a gift card that you got from Secret Santa two years ago, otherwise it would have been $2100.

So you unpack your Jar Jar Binks super-roller suitcase and you congratulate yourself for being a savvy shopper.

The next day you see the exact same backpack in a window at the mall for $49.95.

 

The day after that, whilst getting all of your travel documents together, you discover that your passport expires right in the middle of your trip, the same day that they will try and light the hundred foot stick figure that is made from wet hay and fire retardant wicker. You can’t miss the excitement of smoldering the Dude!

So you rush out and get yourself a prison photo and then run to the passport office and fill out the paperwork for a rush renewal (which includes a very large tardiness fee and the standard secret government agency intrusion tax). It should be ready for pick-up the day before you leave, so everything will work out fine. Yes, it’ll be fine.

A week later, you start to get worried about whether your backpack is going to arrive in the mail, so you repack the Jar-Jar Binks super-roller and hope the smolderers will think that it’s bitchin’, and welcome you into their smoldering fold.

 

That night you get an email, from Ebay, announcing that the backpack will be delivered by courier the day before your trip, the same day that you’re supposed to pick up your passport. Oh crap.

So the day before your trip you rush out first thing in the morning to receive your passport and pay the penitentiary photo pose payment, and rush back to your residence hoping you didn’t miss the delivery.

 

Sure enough, as you round the corner, you see a big truck that is just about to pull away, and a note pasted to your door, that you just know says something like “Sorry we missed you, but we were watching your place and waited until you left to make the delivery. You can pick up your package at our offices, which are located on a dirt road 40 miles outside of the city. Our office hours are from 1:15 pm until 1:45 pm. Please bring 9 pieces of photo ID and a note from a priest to collect your package.”

So you run at top speed screaming “Stop!” and throw yourself in front of the truck, skinning your knee and dropping your new passport into a puddle in the process.

The driver kindly releases your package, (after you pay the vehicle obstruction fine) and you unpack the Jar-Jar Binks super-roller, pack your newly acquired Überteuert brand backpack, and try to dry your passport off with a hairdryer. Even though it was a harrowing day…  you’re fine. Everything’s going to be fine.

 

You arrive at the airport after a sleepless night with your Überteuert on your back, a banjo in its case, and wearing the Sheriff Lobo costume complete with Wranglers that have holes cut in them.

When you check in, the attendant hands you some bad news.

 

“I’m sorry sir, but your musical instrument can not be brought on as carry-on luggage, you’ll have to check it”

“I can’t check this! It’s a Stradivarius banjo! Its name is Bob.”

“I’m sorry, but your strangely gender specific eighteenth century Italian banjo cannot be brought onboard… unless you buy it a seat.”

“Fine then, that’s what we’ll do. Bob can have his own seat. Fine.”

So you buy Bob a seat (which includes a non-biological passenger surcharge).

 

Then as you pass through security, you’re stopped again.

 

“Sir, impersonating an officer of the law is against government regulations, you can’t fly dressed like that.”

“But these are my Sheriff Lobo threads!”

“Sorry, in order to proceed you’ll just have to be a Lobo without the sheriff. Hand over the badge and hat.”

 

Reluctantly you comply and step through the metal detector, which sets off all of the klaxons.

 

“Sir, do you have anything in your pockets?”

“No.”

“Are you wearing anything metal?”

“I’m wearing my commemorative Lionel Richie sequined boxer shorts… are sequins metal?”

“Sir, step into that room over there and somebody will be with you shortly.”

 

After a quick strip search (and an antiquated pop culture underpants levy), you head to your gate just as you hear your last name being called.

 

“Congratulations sir, you’ve been upgraded.”

“Finally, something good has happened today.”

“That’s right Bob, you now have a seat in first class.”

“Wait, I’m not Bob. Bob is my banjo, they made me get him a seat right beside me.”

“Oh, well then, your banjo has been upgraded to first class then.”

“Well where am I?”

“You’re in steerage.”

 

So you watch your beloved stringed instrument board the plane when zone 1 is called, and then you wait for your turn when zone 37 is finally announced. You reach your middle seat and find that you’re sitting between a four year old child and its mother who has the flu. When you offer to switch seats with the mother, she insists that her child stays farther away so it doesn’t catch the flu and she’ll just talk over you when needed.

Later, when the flight attendant brings you a quarter can of flat soda, you can just see past the curtain into first class where Bob is enjoying a glass of Château Lafite Rothschild Cabernet Sauvignon with his meal of pheasant in a truffle reduction served over a pomegranate risotto with a side of sautéed fingerling pumpkins.

You try to enjoy the inflight entertainment system, but their copy of Dumb and Dumber 2 is only in Portuguese with Korean subtitles. However, if you strain to hear, you can pick up the live performance in first class of Sir Ian Mckellen reading his favourite Maya Angelou poems.

 

After you disembark and collect Bob from his personal concierge, you head to collect your Überteuert from the luggage carousel, but it is nowhere to be found. When you enquire, you discover that it has been mistakenly sent to Southern Liechtenstein, but you can get it back in four to six weeks (after you pay the European wayward baggage tariff).

As you leave the airport, you are greeted by the smoulderers who agreed to pick you up in their 1976 Ford Pinto.

“Hey! You made it! And you brought Bob, that’s fantastic! We can jam at the event, but I have to warn you that we can’t play any Radiohead due to their views on fire retardant wicker. Not cool man, not cool. So how was your trip?”

 

 

“It was fine… just fine.”

 

banjo

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The signs of our times…


Life is confusing.

Right from the beginning of life, we’re challenged by our existence at every turn. We have no idea what is going on and it confuses us to no end.

 

Imagine this example:

As a small child we find ourselves sitting on the floor surrounded by confusion. A parental unit places a bowl of bright red globes on a table nearby and says “Don’t touch these tomatoes Baby Johnny”, which just adds to your befuddlement because you don’t understand who Baby Johnny is, what tomatoes are, or the concept of “don’t”.

The whole incident begs investigation, so you drag yourself over to the table and snatch up one of the round red things from the bowl.

You sit back down on the floor and examine the red thing you now have, and wonder what to do with it. It feels like there might be something inside so you decide that the best course of action is to squish it with your fingers. Now you have a messy red thing that’s dripping goo all over you.

You ponder all of the red mush you’ve created and it seems obvious that wearing red mush is the thing to do, so you rub it all over your hair.

“This is great” you think, “I should get another one!” so you drop what’s left of the red mush you’ve created and go get another red globe from the bowl.

The parental unit notices and exclaims, “Oh Baby Johnny, look at the mess you’ve made” and grabs one of the red globes for themselves. The parental unit then puts the red thing in their big face hole and chomps down on it.

You look at your own red globe and realise “Hey, I have a big face hole too!” and shove the whole thing into your face, which causes it to explode into more red mash. You do manage to get some of the ooze into your big face hole, and it’s fantastic, so you try to stuff some of the red goop into your other face holes to see if it has the same effect… which it doesn’t, so you’re confused.

Then a different parental unit comes by and says “Hey, you shouldn’t feed tomatoes to the baby” and takes away your delicious red mush and carries you to the liquid torture room to immerse you into the bubble water.

This leaves you with more confusion, but it’s obvious that squishy red globes result in water torture, and if you had known that earlier, you would have stayed away from tomatoes.

There should have been a sign.

 

You would think that it gets easier as you get older, but it doesn’t. In fact it gets more bewildering as life moves on.

Life is so confusing that I’m surprised anything gets done because everybody is trying to figure out what’s going on. Everyday we’re faced with bewildering things that make us ask, “What the hell is that thing?” or “What the hell am I supposed to do now?” or “Why in the hell are they bringing back Full House and not Firefly?”

All of this confusion forces us to think, and thinking is hard. Thinking sucks and it creates mind numbing headaches, deep sighs, and in extreme cases, excessive drooling.

In order to avoid all of this damned thinking, we need instructions so we can answer all of these hellish questions with answers like “That thing, is a toaster oven” or “You need to add the flavour packet to your noodles now” or “because the network got the cast from Full House for cheap and Joss Whedon killed off half of the characters from Firefly, so just shut up and be a leaf in the wind.”

 

Many of these instructions come to us in the form of signs, and I’m not talking about that time Jesus appeared to you in your oatmeal, or the time you thought you saw Elvis at the mall working in the Radio Shack, no, I’m talking about signs that have actual instructions printed on them, like this one:

Tomato warning

Pretty straight forward, and it would have come in handy earlier in life so you could have avoided getting red mush in your ear and been spared a trip into the bubble water.

Of course back then you couldn’t read, so this sign would have just added to your bewilderment. Even though they are intended to be informative, it turns out signs are still confusing.

 

Currently, as I write this, I’m traveling on an Amtrak train from Chicago to Seattle, and boy howdy, are there a lot of signs on this train. Most are self-explanatory, like this one:

Push for bed

When I see this, I know that I need to push for bed. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to push, or whether a bed will just appear when I push it, or if the bed needs me to push for it because it can’t for some reason… but I know I have to push for bed.

Huh.

I suppose that isn’t as self-explanatory as I thought. I’m confused now.

Well, there’s this one:

Caution table

This sign really has it going on. CAUTION! Do Not Sit or Lean on Tables. I know by the capital letters that it is yelling CAUTION at me, and then being very stern about what not to sit on. I’m not sure if it just means I shouldn’t sit or lean on this particular table or all tables. It does use the plural of table and it seems to be very serious, so I’d better not take any chances, and never sit or lean on a table again.

I’m not sure why there’s a picture of Marge Simpson in front of the yellow brick road featured on this sign, but we can come back to that later.

 

After looking at all of the signs, and taking in all of the instructions in my chamber, I felt I was ready for bed pushing, and standing well away from tables. So I decided it was safe to leave my room, but then I was presented with this while trying to exit my room.

Door latch of evil

 

“What the hell does that mean?” I thought. The picture on the little sign looks nothing like the medieval looking thing underneath of it. Am I supposed to lift the door, elevate the roof, or push for bed? Wait… the little sign is red, and I remember from the incident with the tomatoes that red is bad. Maybe I’m not supposed to elevate the roof? I’m confused…

My head started to throb…

After 15 minutes of struggle with the iron maiden of door mechanisms, I went to find the conductor to enquire the meaning of the little red sign, and when I reached the door to the conductor’s room, I was presented with this:

Conductor

This little red sign didn’t have the door latch of evil under it… I’m confused.

It was then I realized that the sign wasn’t an instruction, but an indication that there is a door here, or more precisely, “Go this way to exit the box you are in.”

After wiping the drool from my face that had come with my abundance of thinking, I thought about the many pictograph signs that we see everyday and how they are supposed to transcend language barriers. Sometimes they are bewildering and cause head throbbing and drooling.

So as a public service, here are a few examples of signs I have come across, and what I have deduced their meaning to be, so you can avoid head throbbing and red mush in your ear…

Yellow Brick Road

Negotiate Legos

Press for nazi

Doorbell Ditch

Hot Oil

Beware of Thor

Devo Scrubbing Jabba

Daredevil Zone

Elipsis zone

Guy behind you

Deadpool likes Tricorder

Jenga

Ok, those are no help at all, are they?

Life is confusing…

 

——————————

Just before I posted this, I found this sign on the way to my hotel…

 

East of Here

What is east of here? Is there east of here? Do I want to be here and I need to go east to get there, I mean here?

I ignored it and went West. That might have been a mistake and now I’ll never be here.

I’m so confused…

 

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