March 31, 2009

haiku 41

at my kitchen table
plugging in the SurgeArrest
protect my Mac

March 30, 2009

haiku 40

at my kitchen table
starting my own business
Crave Symposium

March 29, 2009

haiku 39

at my kitchen table
bacon and eggs
the breakfast of champions

March 28, 2009

haiku 38

at my kitchen table
another new course
proofreadiing made easy

March 27, 2009

haiku 37

at my kitchen table
sits my man's lunch
off I go to deliver

March 26, 2009

The Friendly Skies

“Airplanes stay up in the air only because people believe – against reason – that they can fly: without the collective delusion sustaining them, they would instantly plummet to earth.”

A couple of weeks ago I flew from Vancouver to Toronto for my mother’s 80th birthday. I felt this was a special enough occasion to warrant spending too much money and being treated with complete disdain while wedged into a tiny seat with leg room ample enough for a toddler (though it would appear that even toddlers have issues with leg room on airplanes, hence the need to constantly kick the seat in front of them). When did airplane travel become something to be dreaded more that a trip to the dentist for three root canals?

Am I the only one who remembers the excitement of a vacation that involved airplane travel? It meant that we were going too far to drive so it was bound to be more exotic than the usual visit to cousin Bernice in Detroit. It meant we didn’t have to load up the car with suitcases, coolers, lawn chairs, pillows and blankets (because the hotel/motel/family/friends didn’t have pillows and blankets that we could use?), the dog – and make frequent stops for pee breaks, coffee breaks and “Ooh look, Storybook Gardens. We really must take embarrassing photos of Lianne that will haunt her for the rest of her life”. It meant getting up and walking around without being told to quit squirming, talking to strange and interesting people from all over the world, using tiny utensils and even tinier salt and pepper shakers to season a surprisingly palatable meal. It meant watching a movie on a little monitor anchored into the ceiling at a distance that was either just too far, or way to close to really be enjoyed, but not caring. We were in an airplane for god sake. Watching a movie! The stewardesses were all young, slim, sweet and pretty and the stewards were all, well, um…stewards. Their primary function was to ensure each and every one of us had the most enjoyable and positive experience imaginable. CP Airline’s slogans were “Civilized Air Travel” and “Our World Revolves around You”. It was and it did. It was a golden era (sigh).

But those days, like the days of car bumpers being able to withstand being bumped into, have long since vanished. Air travel today is neither enjoyable nor palatable. Just getting through security at the airport has become a thing of unbelievable frustration. You must now take off our clothes, drink a barium cocktail then pass through a full body x-ray machine. On the other side of the archway you then stand naked, spread-eagle, awaiting the cavity search while being scanned with a handheld metal detector. Meanwhile your personal belongings are being torn apart by a rabid beagle looking for that tube of lip gloss that wasn’t in your one clear, closed and resealable plastic bag with a capacity of no more than 1 litre, the approximate dimensions of which are to be 15 cm by 23 cm or 20 cm by 18 cm . (One bag per passenger please.) Once given the grunt of approval, you must then attempt to put on your clothes, repack your luggage, find your laptop and appear calm and collected as the airport security person is trying to yank the grey bin out from underneath your possessions while muttering that you are holding up the line. And this is considered a normal experience. Don’t even think about trying to clear security if you are 5 years old and on the Do Not Fly list.

Dressed (hopefully in your own clothes, but by now any will do), you try to find your gate, whose location is always in direct correlation to how soon your flight departs (3 hours till departure, it will be the first gate. Departing in 5 minutes, it will be at the opposite end of the terminal, behind the snack counter, under a tarp).

Once on board the plane you are in the hands of the flight crew. Proceed with caution. They may have just come off of a turn-around flight and be grumpy, tired and hungry. (In this case, efficiency is your best option. Have all necessary documents in hand, and a smile fixed to your face. Do not speak unless spoken to.) Or they may have worked in the service industry for 30 years and be grumpy, tired and hungry. (In this case retirement is their best option.)

Since stewardesses and stewards became flight attendants, that’s exactly what they do. They attend to the flight. The overhead compartments are attended to. The emergency exits are attended to. The safety instructions (now in the form of an in-flight video) are also attended to. The galley is attended to (in fact it’s like your kitchen at home – the place where the crewmember party inevitably ends up). But few are concerned about attending to the passenger. Air Canada’s new slogan should be “We’re Not Happy Till you’re Not Happy”, though “The Freedom to fly your own Way” does contain clues as to the level of service they are prepared to offer. (Several years ago I flew on Air Canada’s budget airline Zip – and that’s what I got.) Occasionally you are treated to a flight attendant who, as you enter the plane looks you in the eyes, smiles and welcomes you on board. But ask her for help stowing your carry-on bag in the stuffed overhead compartment (because you are 80 and not as tall as you used to be), a blanket (you are sitting by the emergency exit and there is a cool -50°C breeze blowing in around the door) and a drink of water (because you had to discard all beverages before being allowed through security) and watch the happy gleam in her eyes turn to something a wee bit more sinister. You will be pegged as “troublesome” and will be shun by all the flight attendants. (I believe this is why some people drink too much on airplanes – sometimes bad attention is better than no attention at all.)

Add to this the kicking child previously mentioned, the woman in front of you who feels that just because her seat reclines then she must recline, the 6 ½ foot tall man behind you whose knees are coming through the back of your seat (which you have politely not reclined), the movie playing is Fearless (which does happen to have what I believe is the best plane crash scene ever!), and you are sitting by the emergency exit and have been instructed by the flight attendant that the lives of everyone onboard depend on you being able to remember the instructions that were on the in-flight video (which she won’t repeat because you should have been paying attention), and flying has become something to be avoided if at all possible. We still want to see the world and need to travel for business and visiting far flung relatives, but the collective delusion surrounding air travel is crumbling. Too much hassle, too expensive, too little service. People are rediscovering the joys of train travel, and do I dare admit the good ol’ road trip.

Have you not noticed planes falling from the skies these days? For no apparent reason? I shudder as to the possible reason why.

March 25, 2009

haiku 36

at my kitchen table
finished Dreamweaver
web design, here I come!

March 24, 2009

haiku 35

at my kitchen table
the decision's been made
welcome home iMac

haiku 34

at my kitchen table
trying to buy jewellery
from Stella & Dot

March 23, 2009

haiku 33

at my kitchen table
packing a big lunch
my man starts his new job

March 22, 2009

haiku 32

at my kitchen table
my lucky morning
found cash in the dryer

March 21, 2009

haiku 31

at my kitchen table
on with the helmet
Gloria, here I come!

March 20, 2009

haiku 30

at my kitchen table
clock watching
waiting for the first day of spring

March 19, 2009

haiku 29

at my kitchen table
taking vitamins
everyone else is sick

March 18, 2009

haiku 28

at my kitchen table
my christmas cactus still flowers
where is Spring?

March 17, 2009

haiku 27

at my kitchen table
oh my lucky stars!
Happy St. Patrick's Day

March 16, 2009

haiku 26

at my kitchen table
sipping strong coffee
too much red wine last night

March 15, 2009

haiku 25

at my kitchen table
counting all my pennies
I got my bonus!!!

March 13, 2009

haiku 24

at my kitchen table
thinking of a black cat
and broken mirrors

March 12, 2009

haiku 23

at my kitchen table
arranging cheese and crackers
for the party

March 11, 2009

haiku 22

at my kitchen table
packing lunch holiday's over
back to work

March 10, 2009

haiku 21

at my kitchen table
a day off work
to recover from the trip

March 9, 2009

haiku 20

at my kitchen table
at home again
back with my man and my dog

March 8, 2009

haiku 19

at mom's kitchen table
drinking coffee
rehashing the day before

March 7, 2009

haiku 18

at mom's kitchen table
you're not wearing that are you
I just can't win

March 6, 2009

haiku 17

at my kitchen table
bags packed for Guelph
plane taking me to childhood

March 5, 2009

haiku 16

at my kitchen table
glasses of wine
preparing for the flight "home"

March 3, 2009

haiku 15

at my kitchen table
new computer needed
PC or Macbook?

March 1, 2009

haiku 14

at my kitchen table
sorting yarn by colours
time to make scübees