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Traveling in Style, If Only Once

Sardine manIf you have every flown more than 4 consecutive hours in the main cabin of an airplane, which I refer to as a cattle car, you can sympathize with the lowly sardine  mashed into a can.

In their quest to increase profits, airlines have narrowed the distance between your seat and the one in front of you to the point that only a person who has had both legs amputated can ride with any degree of comfort.

For a higher-priced ticket, you can move from the Sardine can to the Pork and BeansPork and beans in bowl area where you have an extra 6-8 inches of leg room. This high-priced real estate usually has a swanky name like Comfort or Premium Seats, which make you think you have space and can relax. You can’t. And, if the cost per inch of this room was used to determine the value of your home, we’d al be living in multi-million dollar mansions.

Pork and Beans is better than the Sardine section, but unless you reserve a seat in an exit row or bulkhead row you don’t get that much room. An aisle seats ensures a bit of leg room, but these seats come with hazards. First the flight attendants airplane seats, man tipping chairmight ram your shins with that metal cart delivering drinks and snacks.  A “snack” in airplane language means pretzels or peanuts. Second, others on your row may crawl over you numerous times to go to the bathroom or walk the aisles to prevent their legs from becoming paralyzed. And third, (the Sicilian’s personal gripe) the person in front of you may recline their seat which leaves you feeling like a mouse in a trap.

Ever since I saw how the fat cats in the Business/First Class section lounge in Barcaloungers sipping champagne, my dream has been to fly in that section. Not because I am snooty; I’m not. Or because a better class of people are in that section, (there isn’t from what I can tell) or because the food is better (which it actually is), but because I want some room. I’m a mere  5’2″, and  I’m cramped in the Sardine Can or Pork and Beans area. I pity the super-sized people.

With due diligence, and months of checking on line, the tickets the Sicilian and I needed to fly to Spain went on sale. I pounced on two First-Class tickets. Let me tell you, there are light years between the Sardine Can/ Pork and Beans area and First Class.

drinksWe boarded the plane before the Sardine and Pork and Beans passengers and were given drinks of our choice in real glasses.  We were not told, no beverages during take off or landing.  This bonus allowed the Sicilian to be totally relaxed during take off.

Our seats were wide enough for a 300 pound person to sit in comfort. Each person had their own 12 inches wide table which separated  your seat from other person on your row. A bottle of water, a fresh, full-sized pillow, and a wonderful comforter were waiting for us at our seat. We had real headsets, not those plastic things don’t work and gouge the skin in your ears raw.  USB and power plugs, a personal reading spotlight, and a wonderful Tumi box added to our comfort. (I realized I’d lived a sheltered life, one with few luxuries. I’d never heard of a Tumi Box until this flight.)

The food and beverage service was great: real china and silver, and  miniaturefirst class salt and pepper shakers which the Sicilian placed in his carry on. This was nice, but I’ve had nice in many restaurants. What was really grand was. . . the seats lay completely flat. Yes, flat, like a bed. The Sicilian, who hates to fly took a long winter’s nap.

I’ve always contended there is no such thing as jet lag, and this flight proved it. I watched as those in the Sardine Can walked off like crippled gnomes. The Pork and Beans passengers didn’t look much better. But, after our seven-hour flight, much of which was spent napping, we walked off the plane looking and feeling like humans. We were able to enjoy a full day of activities in Spain without exhaustion.

Will I ever be able to fly First Class again? I don’t know, but I do know I like being in that galaxy far, far away. (And so did the Sicilian.)

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Where is the person who . . .

• wrote on the food containing  box: lift flap to open?

Obviously this person has fingers that can double as shovels and fingernails of steel. And after ripping this box open, we are now expected to press open the tab and seal it by ticking Tab A into Slot B.  Who has ever down this without making the box look as if the postal service delivered it?

•  designed packages with a label that says “Press here to seal.”   This person has vice-grips hands and the patience of Job to line up the minuscule strips to seal the bag.

•  Sealed for your protection. bubble packages

These bubble, doubled sealed, heavy plastic containers should be banned. Scissors do not phase them. I’ve had to use razor  These bubble containers would confound Houdini.

 

Handy tear strip at top. Handy for who?  Only if you are Edward Scissorhands.edaward sissorhands.jpg The only tear strip that ever opens this way, and only after constant tugging,  is on a mustard, ketchup or salad oil packet and it explodes open when you have on your best white shirt.

Pull gently to open. This is open found on hermetically sealed slices of cheese. Took me and a girlfriend with pliers to pull one open yesterday. Have these people never seen those lovely slider lock bags?

Press down lid while turning. This instruction is often found on the lids of medicine. It’sheadache bad enough that I am sick, I don’t need to be tortured with bottles that can’t be opened. And while we are on it, what’s with all this childproof stuff? I’m not suggesting kids should eat poison and die, but where are the parents who like mine who gave the “the look” and said leave it alone.

Press sides while turning lid. This instruction is often on hazardous items, like toilet cleaner. The design is to keep children from opening the containers. Fine idea, but if you are a person with small hands, there is no way can you press and turn the lid. This is why vice grips were made.

Handy pull inner seal or ring. This instruction is on juice bottles, creamers,inner seal ring and other liquids. The handy seal is NOT easy to remove. And as for the ring, it works, but usually cuts off circulation to your finger. And, if you have large fingers, I’m sure the hole in the plastic ring is a real challenge.

The person in the photo obviously needs to get a life if she creates finger puppets from these rings.

Another challenge is even reading these instructions. Seems the same diabolical people that devise these “easy to open packages,” love to put the directions in fine print.

soap lidAnother gripe, instructions written on a device in white if the article is white or black on black.

• For example: Easy push and turn hand soap dispenser. The Sicilian opened the last one I bought. I tried pushing and turning in both direction to no avail.

Battery slot designers. Theses fiends love to add minuscule screws that fall out and bounce onto the floor never to be seen again, unless you have your pet x-rayed or you sort through the crap in the vacuum cleaner bag.
• Here are two examples. One good. One bad. You figure out which is which.

My remedy for this: Find the miscreant who devised each of these items, and seal them in a similar human size contraption. Limit their oxygen to 10 minutes.

• If that seems drastic, stock your kitchen with scissors, pliers, sharp knives, screwdrivers, dynamite, and a mini chainsaw.

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Advice for men: Weld It Shut

zip itWhen males turn 12 or 13, and their hormones are raging, I suggest the zipper on their pants be welded shut. This will save them untold misery, loss of money and possibly even prison time.

The daily news is enough to make sane people cry. There is little we can do about the terrorist situation in the world, crooked politicians, and losing football teams, but one way to lower the crime rate and bring back a sense of decency in the world would be to have men weld the zipper shut on their pants. Let me explain.

Last week, John Besh, a famous chef, decided to throw his career inJohn Besh the trash, by unzipping his drawers. He’s lost money, endorsements, and possibly his marriage and family because or raging hormones. Guess he’s been chopped.

Then there is Harvey Weinstein, enough said about him.

tiger woodsTiger Woods lost millions of dollars in endorsements when he let his zipper have its way.

And then there is Anthony Weiner who not only unzips it, he posts photos. Yikes! I give the man a pass, a very small pass for some of his behavior, because I am sure he’s suffered with years of bullying and embarrassment because of his last name.  So, change it. Kevin Spacey

And now a favorite actor of mine, Kevin Spacey, is in trouble.

Bill clintonAnd of course this list would not be close to complete without adding the alpha male of unzipped pants, President Clinton, who asked us to define what does  “is” mean when it comes to sexual misconduct.

Have none of these men heard of fidelity to their spouse or that “NO means no”? And just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

How many men are in prison for sexual crimes because they could not keep it zipped?

'My advice? Dump him! There are plenty more fish in the sea...'

Let me give men a word of advice. If a woman dumps you, consider yourself lucky. You have probably been spared years of nagging, quarrels, and misery. There are far more female fish in the sea than males, so move on. Get over it.

This dumping advice applies to women too. While we do not have an abundance of male fish in the sea, being alone is far better than living with a barracuda.

As for men in power, get a grip on your zipper. A position of power does not allow you to run rough shod over other men and women.

I told my son when he was a mere 15 years old, “Don’t let 15 minutes of the hots  ruin your life. You will not die if you can’t have sex the minute you want it, your male organs will not explode and fall off your body. Go ahead, be wild, care free, and don’t use protection, but you will pay for it later.

Must have been good advice. He has been an adult for many years and there has yet to be a hint of scandal associated with his name. The same is true for many other men too.

shame cartoon

For my male readers, next time before you unzip, ask yourself this. “Would I want my actions reported on national TV, on the front page of the National Enquirer, or  have my best friends and family see me now? Is it worth a divorce, scandal, and possible prison time?

If the answer if NO, then weld it shut.

 

cheater

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Do I Dare Take that Prescription

The world wants a quick fix for everything from political issues to high blood pressure. I am not going to address political issues, I leave that to the know-it-alls on Facebook and talk TV. Today I want to discuss prescriptions we take for our ailing bodies.

pill bottlesThe Sicilian and I take our pills each morning like good little children, but we try to keep pill popping to a minimum. (He takes 3, and I take 6 but only 2 are prescription drugs.) While some people enjoy telling you they take 16 pills a day, we on the other hand want to avoid this. Why? Even though you did not ask, I will tell you. Have you ever read those info sheets that are included with your prescription? You might want to avoid any drug that requires four pages of fine print to inform you of all the possible side effects.

pill reaction

Pharmaceutical companies spend plenty of money to buy pages of advertising in magazine and newspapers. A two-minute pharmaceutical ad is the norm on TV. Most of the pharmaceutical ad is devoted to telling you all the hideous things that can happen to you if you take it, not on the drug’s benefits. Ponder that for a few minutes.

pill allergy

I love the ads that start with: Do not take this drug is you are allergic to it. How am I suppose to know if I am allergic until I take it and almost die from a pill chemicals.jpgreaction? I consider myself smarter than the average bear, (only older readers know about Yogi Bear) , but I have no idea what dexteagosominehydroxy is, and the little chemical symbols showing me the makeup of the drug are as foreign to me as hieroglyphics.

And what about the “happy pills”  we all take to cope with life. Pills that are to alleviate depression. Most of these come with the warning: may increase suicidal thoughts. And this pill is suppose to help me? Seems more like the final solution,  not one I want to try.

Often the list of side effects ends with: may cause death. No matter what ails me, I don’t think death is the option I want. You can keep that pill, thank you very much.

I suggest that we all eat more chocolate, drink more adult beverages, don’t watch the news, avoid Facebook, and spend more time walking in the park, reading humor books, and petting an animal. All of these activities are good for us, and none come with a 4-page warning.

heart burn

But, right now I have to drink baking soda and water because my heartburn is killing me. The pill I take each day is not working. Maybe I better read the fine print again.

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ACK-ronyms by Rebecca Willman Gernon

dandelions.jpgIn the past ten years, acronyms have sprouted up quicker than weeds in my front yard. I find this annoying. Both the weeds and the acronyms.

For many years, the government was the primary source of theses nonsensical terms. In an effort to bamboozle the public, politicians and federal agents tossed out acronyms like beads at a Mardi Gras parade.

Like the weeds that have embedded themselves in my lawn, acronyacronymsms have weaseled their way into the English language and have no intention of leaving. Some acronyms have even become words, like radar, lasik, and laser, but Webster’s Dictionary is no help in discovering what NTSB,  NYSE, ADA, GNP, ICBM and LPTV mean.

After a several months of use, acronyms take on a life of their own. Few people can tell you what the letters OSHA represent, but almost everyone knows “Oh-Shaw” can make a small businessman’s life a nightmare. Same goes for the ACLU, who from what I read protects one person’s rights at the expense of someone else’s.

Another bad example is the Individual Retirement Account (IRA). First pronounced I-R-A, but soon it became an Ira. My broker told me the other day, “Get an Ira.” I went to high school with a guy named Ira Paul Rulla. I don’t think that’s what he meant.

geekA month ago my computer, an aging dinosaur in the rapidly changing world of technology, refused to plod along at any speed. I dreaded visiting the You Better Buy It Now mega-computer store where every clerk is younger than twenty-three and speaks serious techno-geek, a language foreign to me.

“How much RAM do you want? You’ll need a CD burner. What’s your current CPU? How many Gigs? Who’s your ISP?” The dunce cap he gave me fit perfectly.

RX side effects
If you want to experience the granddaddy of acronym usage, watch a few pharmaceutical commercials on TV. I’ve come to the conclusion every disease known to mankind can be reduced to two or three letters. People suffer with COPD, MS, TB, TIA, ADD, ADDL, ARD, and ADHD to name a few. I have no idea what these hideous ailments are, but per the commercials, a miracle drug, with enough side effects to drop a moose, will cure them.

viagraNothing is scared anymore. A few years ago a well-known politician beamed into the camera and told the world  he suffers from ED (Erectile Dysfunction.) I’m not as old as he is, but he ought to know better.

When I was in high school, which was shortly after the stone age, matters like this would never have been discussed. For heaven’s sake, it was still considered shameful for a young girl to have a baby before she was married. Polite people did not use the word pregnant, we said, “She’s PG.” What a U-turn we’ve made in our language. Now five year olds squeal, “Mommy’s pregnant.” I suppose referring to someone being PG went out of fashion, about the time the motion picture industry started using PG as a movie rating.

 

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The Festival Half of the Year

liturigcal cycleFor those familiar with a liturgical church, you know the members celebrate different seasons, i.e. lent, advent, Easter, etc. The months between Pentecost in the spring and Advent in the fall are referred to as Ordinary Time, the – half of the year, or as so many Sundays after Trinity. In our household, we to have 5-6 months of ordinary time and then….ta da… the Festival Half of our year.

A month before the official start of our Festival Half of the year (September 1) the Sicilian is all ready gearing up, planning where to put his holiday decorations when the official Festival Half of our year begins on October 1. The season includes Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Carnival/Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter. The Fourth of July is the only holiday celebrated outside of the Festival Half of our year.

Halloween mantelThe Sicilian is my holiday decorator, and he loves it. The more holiday stuff in the house and outside, the happier he is. I on the other had have become a minimalist in my old age and prefer less, but since he takes it all out and puts it all away, I don’t complain too much.

The decorating rules are this: No decoration may be put up more than a month in advance of the holiday, and barring a hurricane, flood, or wildfire, said decorations should all be removed two weeks after the holiday has passed. If not, you could be subject to having a mark put on your permanent record. See this post.

halloween binsSo today, the Halloween decorations are being put out, and if 4 large bins of the stuff was not enough, we had to go to the Halloween Super Store today… “just in case.”

We walked away with a huge ghost, and a skeleton ghost. Skeletons are the Sicilian’s favorites, but when I took him to the catacombs of Palermo that had more than 1000 skeletons hung on the wall organized by sex and occupation, he was not thrilled. All he kept saying was, “They ought to bury these poor bastards.”

And lest you think skeletons are only displayed in oHalloween day of deadur house for Halloween, guess again. This guy is always by our front door. You figure out what it means.

Now that we are in the Festival Half of our year, dusting will become more of a chore than usual. I’ll up my nerve pills so the decorations do not drive me crazy, and as always, I rejoice that I don’t have to do any of this.

Come by tonight, there will be an official lighting ceremony.

The Minimalist’s decoration.

Halloween bear

The Sicilian’s decorations. (Just a few.)

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Rosemary Becomes a Real Woman

Especially for my Sicilian.

Sixty-six years ago, Rosemary,(pronounced Rose-ah-Mary) a good catholic, Sicilian girl was still childless. Despite being married for some time, she was not “a real woman.” To prove she was a real woman, per her Sicilian family, she needed a child. Fruit of her womb. A child, male or female.

NOLA city busIn the winter of 1952, per family lore, she was hit by a New Orleans City bus and drug down the street.  (Their words,not mine.) A few months later, Rosemary was in the family way. “Shook something loose,” said her family.

What she shook loose was born in September of that year, my Sicilian. And several years later, without the bus incident, she produced another son.

Today is the Sicilian’s natal day. Hard to buy him a gift when he has everything . . . me, Spot the Wonder Dog, and his own room for watching TV. But, I succeeded in giving him a surprise, a small fridge for his room which I filled with adult beverages. This morning Spot presented him with a snack basket full of the Sicilian’s favorite treats,(jerky, Junior Mints, Whoppers, M&Ms, red ballpopcorn and Lay’s Dressed Chips). Nestled among the food items was a new red, rubber ball.

Spot subscribes to the motto . . .  “Give unto others what you would like to receive.” I’m sure in her little brain she thinks, “He’s always throwing things for me to catch, so I should give him a new ball.”

The ball was a great hit. Spot immediately engage the Sicilian in her favorite sport, fetch. In the house no less which gives Spot a chance to slide scratches across our hardwood floors and shed another zillion hairs. I swear that dog should be bald with the amount of hair she loses daily.

FrogDespite writing comical incidents about what the Sicilian and I do, he is more than fodder for my blog. He is the best man in the world for me. I know this because I kissed a number of warty frogs before I found my handsome prince. He tolerates my perfectionism with only minor grumbling, and tells me all publishers and agents are idiots when I receive another rejection. So, today, dear Sicilian, I want the world to know I love you. Happy Birthday! And I wish you many many more.

happy birthday