Such A Twit

twitterI’ve recently fallen pray to a new addiction.  It’s called Twitter and it’s more fun than one person is entitled to have.

I “follow” 52 people, most of whom are famous celebrities.  I have 13 followers following me.  Many of whom, again, are famous celebrities.  I interact with these people every day.  I read their messages, I laugh at their jokes, I click on their links.  We have a good old time.  ‘Course none of them are talking directly to me, and with one notable exception, I’ve never received a reply to anything I’ve directed at anyone specific.  Yes, that’s right!  @therealnph (to use proper Twitter lingo) has tweeted at me… ‘Course the jury is still out on whether he’s really the real NPH, (That’s Neil Patrick Harris, for those not in the know) but I guess I can now say “I’m friends with ‘therealnph’.”

I’ve really enjoyed being on Twitter.  It’s open on my computer all the time, whether I’m at home or at work.  I’ve got two separate apps on my iPhone for accessing the Twitter platform.  I’m always on Twitter and it’s great fun.  However, I can’t help wonder what Twitter feels like to someone who is like I was most of my life; easily discouraged, insecure, feeling unloved and unwanted.

You see, being on Twitter tests my ability to handle rejection and judge my own self worth.  Having been clinically depressed most of my life, having based a lot of my self worth on whether or not other people wanted me around (or how I perceived whether they wanted me around), I could understand how someone who experiences these things would quickly be discouraged, possibly even hurt, by being a Twit.  It would be easy to develop a false sense of popularity, or cool…ness.  I don’t have five real friends so 52 twitter friends seems pretty impressive, ‘course most of them don’t know I’m following them. (Doesn’t that make me more like a Twitter stalker?) I’m just one of a legion.  And those that follow me, probably follow everyone who follows them.  Let’s see…

hal-sparks-autographHal Sparks is being followed by 656 people and  following 327 people.  I’m one of those 327.  OK.  I guess I’m special.

hayden-panettiereHayden Panettiere is being followed by 341 people and is following 81.  Not only am I one of them but she added me as someone she’s following within minutes of me adding her as someone I’d follow.  I guess that’s kinda special!

gavinnewsomNow, Gavin Newsom is being followed by 1351 people and is following 1262 people.  I’m one of those people, but that’s 93% of the people following him.  More importantly, Gavin Newsom is the Mayor of San Francisco and running for Governor of California.  I’m sure his following me is politically motivated…  More importantly, I’m certain Gavin Newsom himself rarely, if ever, sees his own Twitter timeline and the person/people really seeing my tweets are interns working on his campaign.  Me?  Not so special.

livestrong3I follow the LIVESTRONG foundation.  Livestrong has 5905 people following them and they’re following 6182 people.  This would imply that they’re following 100% of the people following them and then some.  Once again, me not special.

scharzenegger_narrowweb__300x3790Arnold Schwarzenegger is being followed by 16,760 people and is following 16,487 people.  I’m one of those people, but that’s 98% of his followers.  Among the masses, am I.  (Who let Yoda in here?)  Arnold is our current Governor so obviously his Twitter activity is politically motivated.

maria-shriverMaria Shriver (mostly just ’cause I can) is being followed by 6708 people and is following 5515.  Well, that’s only 82% and she started following me pretty much immediately too.  I guess that would be kinda special but she’s the Governor’s wife.  She has her own political function.  Again, pretty sure it’s an intern of some sort running her show.  Besides which, nothing has been posted in her name since I signed up.

barack-obama-for-presidentOh, and then, of course, there’s Barack Obama.  Followed by 298,345 people and following 287,407.  That’s 96%.  I’m one of them, added on the same day.  I’d feel special but I’ve never been more sure of anything than I am that The President of the United States is not running his own Twitter account.

I seem to have gotten a little lost in my point making.  Oh yes.

While I could be wrong and one or two of the people I listed up there might have found something interesting in the very slight bit of information they might find about me, I doubt it very much and can only assume that adding me as someone they follow was somehow a political/career move on their parts.  If what they thought of me mattered, or if I was counting on Twitter Popularity to make me feel good about myself that would probably hurt me.  If I had some real hope of becoming friends with famous people because I Tweet (and if you’re reading this, I do want to be your friend.  Let’s do lunch!), I’d certainly be setting myself up for a fall.  But I don’t expect that’s going to happen. I take Twitter for what it is and I do not expect anything more than what I’m getting.

Clinical Depression is not something that just goes away.  For me, it’s under control now.  I’ve learned a lot about myself and about life and I have, at least some, of the tools necessary to deal with it.  So while I admit that I get pangs of unwarranted negative feelings about what happens on Twitter, I am quick to remember that this is not where my value lies and not what my self worth is based on.  It’s just a fun thing to do!

Oh!  And Hal, Hayden, Mayor Newsom, LIVESTRONG dudes, Governor Schwarzenegger, Maria or President Obama (or any of your Interns), if you’re reading this, thanks for following me on Twitter and for stopping by my blog!  You’re my favorite Comedian, Actress, Mayor, Charitable Organization, Governor, State First Lady, or President (or any of their Interns) reading this at this moment!

Prayers for A Drunk

Today has been a bit of a mixed bag of feelings and somehow I don’t think it’s done yet.

As a part of my efforts to reclaim control of my life I made the conscious decision to go to bed at “a reasonable time” (is 11:30 a reasonable time?) last night so that I could get up at “a reasonable time” (is 7:30 a reasonable time?) this morning.  My routine tardiness at work has not gone unnoticed and has gotten quite a bit worse in recent months as my general motivation to attend has been dismal at best.  Part of the problem, I realized is that I have a hard time getting up early enough in the mornings.  So I thought it wise to attempt to adhere to the recommendations of so many “experts” and try stick to a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends.  Now, I’ll grant you that sleeping from 11:30 to 7:30 is probably not the best sleep schedule to have when you work a theoretically 8-5 job, but since I’ve been getting out of bed between 7:30 and 8:00 for the last few weeks it seems wise to start rolling that schedule back at a gradual pace.

At any rate, I was feeling pretty good about myself and my decision to work on my sleep schedule and when my second alarm, on the other side of the room went off at 7:00 this morning, I only snoozed it three separate times before I forced myself not to get back in bed when I turned it off.  I put on my robe, (it’s much too cold for my not at all uncommon state of undress that often meets my mornings) and went for my morning pee, after which I went into the kitchen to feed a very demanding Scared Kitty.  He still had a bit of food in his bowl from last night but if you ever needed a lesson in how to act as if you’re starving, Scared Kitty would be an excellent coach. grand-marnier After feeding his royal highness, I went on to make myself a pot of coffee and sort out breakfast.  I finally decided on the Gladware bowl of orange segments I had in the refrigerator.  The segments are lefter over after using the peels to start my own batch of homemade Grand Marnier last weekend, for which I found a recipe a few weeks back.  It takes seven weeks and I’m not really all that optimistic about the outcome but I thought it would be fun to give it a shot,  you should pardon the pun.

I brought my carafe of coffee and my bowl of orange pieces into the living room, sat down in my recliner, threw a blanket over my legs and propped my feet up to watch some television.  My DVR tends to build up during the week and I try to clear it back out on the weekends so I don’t get too far behind.  Three episodes of the much maligned and barely watched General Hospital, one episode of Ghost Whisperer, five episodes of The Click List: Best in Short Film, and a misnamed movie all awaited my attention.

Natalia Livingston

Natalia Livingston

Tyler Christopher

Tyler Christopher

I actually just started recording General Hospital again this week after many months of freedom because Green M&M told me there’s some weird event happening at the beginning of each episode that I wanted to investigate and because I read that Natalia Livingston, who played Emily Quartermaine for several years until she was murdered about a year ago in a “very dramatic” story line, has returned to the show but supposedly not as Emily Quartermaine.  Her character has not really been explained yet, but whoever she is, she does seem to have a considerable fascination with Nikolas Cassadine, played by Tyler Christopher, not that I can blame her.

Since I’m on the subject, while looking for a good picture of Tyler to include here, I happened across this rather unexpected gem:

tyler-christopher-nekked-02

Anyway, I don’t watch very much of General Hospital because I’m really not all that interested in most of the characters and I don’t want to get sucked back in, therefore I was able to watch all three episodes pretty quickly.

Jennifeir Love Hewitt

Jennifer Love Hewitt

Then it was on to Ghost Whisperer.  I enjoy this show and I have been a fan of Jennifer Love Big Tits– er, Hewitt since she first showed up on Party of Five.  I’m a bit tired of the current, on-going story line, since they killed Jim off and his spirit is now inhabiting the body of another man who died and crossed over.  But I’m still watching… for now.

The Click List: Best in Short Film doesn’t show episode descriptions in the on-screen guide and I think I may have seen all of the current shorts, but I record it anyway, just in case something new comes across.  I “watch” that on four times fast forward and there was nothing new so I was done with that in five minutes.  And that left me with just the misnamed movie.

The play list in my DVR said the movie was called “The Killer Condom”, but the movie that was actually aired in that time slot turned out to be “Dead Serious.”  If you haven’t seen it, I strongly encourage you not to.  It’s about vampires and it’s lame as all get out, but had a sexy hero so I watched it anyway.  Two hours of my life I’ll never get back.

When the movie was over it was only 11:00 and I decided to go out and get my shopping done early.  I made a list of things I needed and wanted from Target and the grocery.  I also needed cat food and gasoline.  With my list made, I hopped in the shower and then got dressed to head out.  I decided to take a second look at my finances before I left and it’s a good thing I did.  I just got paid yesterday but I have to pay my rent and car insurance and after those things happen I only have about $185.00 for the next two weeks.

So much for my positive feelings about myself and my new leaf of better money management.  Yes, I’m essentially up to date with my bills and my rent and car insurance are important, but I was starting to feel like I had things more under control and I wasn’t gong to be hurting for money and then this realization.  I went back over the list and eliminated everything I didn’t need and pared my trip down to just the grocery store.  I forgot about the gas station and the cat food and now those will have to wait for another day, but I spent $90.00 at the grocery and put $40.00 walking around money in my pocket (I only had $5.00 before that.)

I also sent a text message to Green M&M and canceled our plans to go into San Francisco tomorrow.  Wheeler Dealer Landlady lives in The Haight and I have a couple pieces of mail for her so I thought I’d go in and drop those off along with my February rent check and then we could go and play after.  Now I realize I do not have any money for that and it reminds me that I’m not really so well off after all.  Now I’m going to have to spend the next two weeks trying not to spend any money.  I’ve got $50.00 left in the bank that isn’t already spent on paper, and I have to get food for Scared Kitty and gas for the vehicle with that.  I may have to use a credit card (which I’m trying to pay off) for one or both of those things and I hate that idea, but I guess it’s better than having my account overdrawn again.

As soon as I hit publish on this post, I’m going to put the computer down and watch the Lifetime movie Prayers for Bobby.  I made up my mind to watch this movie after I read an article about it in the most recent issue of The Advocate, however, I suspect, unfortunately, that this movie will be difficult for me to watch as, from what I already know about it, I would expect to be able to relate to it pretty closely.  I too, am the son of a “devout” woman who is convinced that to be gay is to be damned.  It’s an issue that is very difficult for me and it wouldn’t really surprise me to find that the movie is a hard pill to swallow.  I guess it’s time to find out.

Better Left Forgotten

Today is an anniversary of sorts. Not one that I’m proud of by any means, but one that is somehow unavoidable and unforgettable.

Five years ago this morning, I walked into my managers office, very nervous about what was going to come of our conversation.

The previous Saturday, Green M&M and I had gone to a club in San Francisco to meet up with some friends. There was some sort of event that was supposed to be happening there. I can’t remember the name of the club now but it was some sort of arctic theme which was tremendously ironic to me, because it was hotter than hell in there. Green and I had a couple drinks while we surveyed the crowd trying to find the group of people who were supposed to be meeting there. Forty-five minutes later, when we still hadn’t found anyone we knew, we decided to bail and go to another club we knew of that was likely to be less crowded and not so hot.

We spent four hours at the other club, closing the place down and then it was time to go home. When it was time to go, I did something, for which I remain completely ashamed and disgusted with myself and would give anything to undo.

The club was in San Francisco and Green M&M and I lived in Richmond, California, roughly 20 miles drive. The club was also in the South of Market (SoMa)/Mission Districts and while not a terribly frightening place to be, it was not a place I felt great about leaving my car over night, either. Plus a cab ride home would have cost a considerable amount of money.

I believed that I was fine to drive home and opted not to leave my car behind to be vandalized and broken into. At first it was no big deal. I used to subscribe to the old, “I drive better when I’ve been drinking” philosophy. I now know that the only reason why anyone can say that is because they know they’ve drunk more than they should and they’re afraid, and therefore are far more focused and “present” while behind the wheel… Sometimes.

The problem was, that as I was driving on the highway, and across the Bay Bridge I became increasingly drowsy and was having difficulty staying awake. I was on the bridge though and had no way of pulling over or exiting the highway. And then, for just the briefest of moments, I fell asleep. Fortunately, I was driving in the far left lane of the one way bridge and my car drifted to the left until my wheels hit the curb shocking me back to awareness and causing a surge of adrenaline that woke me up. Sadly, it’s likely that, had there not been any intervention, I probably really could have made it the rest of the way home safely on the adrenaline that was coursing through my veins.

Fortunately, there was intervention. The ruckus that was caused when I drifted into the curb was enough to attract the attention of the highway patrolman that I had passed a few minutes earlier and when I looked up again there were flashing lights behind me.

I was asked a number of questions I couldn’t possibly repeat. I did the “usual” tests. I’m not sure that I failed most of the tests. I never have been able to walk in a straight line, even when stone sober. No one can say the alphabet backwards. But I had no problem touching my nose. After going through all that I was given a breathalyzer test (which I kinda thought they shoulda done first). I blew a BAC of .18 (later lowered to .17 by a blood test) and was hauled off to jail.

I spent five and one half hours in a jail cell before being released “on my own recognizance” on the streets of downtown Oakland, without my wallet or cell phone, both of which went home with Green M&M who was not driving and therefore not arrested. I had to call Green from a pay phone and waited inside the front door of a local movie theater for her to pick me up.

The following Monday morning, I told Douche Bag as little as I had to and still feel like I was being honest. I had no idea what the outcome of the situation was going to be. I didn’t know if it was grounds for termination, but I knew it would be worse for me if he found out some other way. I also, didn’t know what was going to happen with me legally. I was terrified I was going to go to jail.

I didn’t lose my job (dammit) and I didn’t go to jail. I’m tempted to say that everything turned out alright but that’s taking things too lightly. This was a trying and difficult time for me and it has definitely not been worth it.

When I appeared for my court date, I was sentenced to “2 days in jail with time served.” The 5 hours I spent in jail after being arrested counted as one day. The second day was commuted to Community Service, which amounted to six hours on a municipal work crew. I had to pay a $1750.00 fine. And my automobile insurance skyrocketed. Before the DUI, I had an impeccable driving record. I had the very best rating possible with my insurance company, “E”, and after the DUI my insurance rating was “7”, the absolute worst rating. Every July, my record is reviewed by the underwriters and every year that I have no additional blemishes on my record that number decreases. Currently, my rating is “3”. Thankfully, my insurance has gotten far less expensive, but the blow to my pocketbook at the time was substantial.

Five years is a long time, and much of the time, it has felt as though the DUI was a lifetime ago. I’ve become accustomed to the insurance rates, and am only grateful when my rates go down each year. I have done my community service. I have paid my fine. Until last year when I applied to be a Big Brother, I had mostly put it out of my mind. Big Brothers and Big Sisters requires that you not have had a DUI within the last five years, and only have had one in your life. That’s when I did the math and realized it had only been four years.

So today, it is with mixed feelings, that I tick off the five year anniversary since my DUI. I’ll be paying for the damage to my record, by way of my increased car insurance premiums for three more years, but as I stated, I’m accustomed to that. Otherwise, I can finally put this thing behind me. There’s nothing left to stand in my way. I’ve learned my lesson. I know better than to take the risk. I’m glad it’s over.

Maybe now this anniversary can be forgotten after all.

There Was Vengeance in their Eyes as their Voices Pierced the Silence, The City Smelled of Chaos and the News Reported Riot (Riot Riot Riot!)

I have started to write this post a few times now, but every time I deleted it, unpublished because I thought, “I am not qualified to comment on these events.”  Somehow, today, I feel compelled to comment for just that reason.  I am not qualified.  And more than likely, neither are you.  And most assuredly, They were not.

I’m referring to the riots that occurred last Wednesday, in Oakland, CA, in response to the fatal shooting of a man, which took place in the very early hours of New Year’s Day, on the platform of the Fruitvale BART station.  I’m not qualified to comment on these events because I wasn’t there.  I didn’t see what happened first hand, in fact I’ve only seen one grainy cell phone video.  I haven’t gone through any kind of police training.  I’m not qualified to comment.

Here’s what I do know from news reports and media coverage.  The victim and several other “men” were riding BART home after celebrating New Year’s Eve in San Francisco when an argument erupted on the train.  One eye witness account I read said, “There was a lot of verbal arguing, jockeying between the two groups of men.”  BART Police removed the men from the train (as they should do) to deal with the situation.  The video I saw had no audio, but it shows three or four young men “cuffed” and sitting on the floor on the edge of the platform.  Despite being cuffed they still are seen being physically confrontational and do appear to be speaking vehemently to the officers.  And at some point, one of the men, Oscar Grant, was lying face down on the platform and one of the officers shot him, in the back at close range.

What I know is, this is a terrible thing.  It’s tragic for Mr. Grant’s family, for his young daughter who will grow up without a father.  It is also, very likely, tragic for the officer who shot him, who by witness’s accounts was visibly shaken after the fact.  If, as I think is likely, this shooting was an accident, the officer will have to live with the guilt of having taken another man’s life, for the rest of his existence.  And if it was not an accident, he’ll have to live with the shame as well.

What I know is, there are investigations underway.  BART is conducting an investigation as is the Alameda County District Attorney’s office.

What I know is, you never comment on an on-going investigation.

What I know is, demonstrating and protesting and least of all, rioting, will not bring Mr. Grant back to life.

I have observed in the days since the riots that just about everyone has something to say, some sort of an opinion on the subject.  Many of the people have had considerable anger and contempt in their voices as they make their opinions known, as if somehow these events have been a personal affront to them, some kind of personal attack on their lives and their families.  I find this vitriol suspect.  I find it unreasonable and unwarranted.

I am just as saddened as the next person by the events that took place on the platform that night.  And I want justice to be served, just as much as the next guy.  I guess the difference is, I am mature enough, to admit that at this moment, I do not know what justice would be.  I may never know what justice would be.  I admit to my ignorance, and knowing I have such ignorance on the subject, I leave it in the hands of the legal officials to determine what should happen next.

I believe that there was a lot going on that night.  I know that there was stuff happening before the one grainy cell phone video began that no one will ever know about.  I find it easy to believe that Mr. Grant and his friends were being disruptive and difficult.  And I believe that there are any number of explanations as to what happened and why.  I do not suggest that it is OK.  I do not suggest that the whole thing be swept under the rug and forgotten about, but I do not think it is up to the general public to make a determination about what did happen that night, or what should happen next.

And so, when I heard about the rioting that happened, I can’t help but question (and yes, maybe judge).  What was the point?  What did you hope to accomplish?  What DID you accomplish?  Now that you’ve done this, how are you any better than the boys on the train that night or the cop who shot one of them?

What was the point? Can anyone actually answer this?  The event started out as a “Peaceful Protest” at the BART station where the shooting took place.  Certainly a “Peaceful Protest” is better than an all out riot, but really, what was it going to accomplish?  Unfortunately, the man is dead and your “Peaceful Protest” isn’t going to bring him back.  Unsvelt Girl Who Runs told me, “They were protesting the way the investigation is being handled.”  OK, so now we, the random citizens of the city know better than the legal officials how this thing should be handled?  I think not.  If I knew so much on that subject, I’d be in that job.  What was the point?

What did you hope to accomplish? Did you expect to have an impact on the investigation?  Did you expect there to be a change in the circumstances because you waved a sign?  Was anyone even listening?  Whether you were part of a “Peaceful Protest” or part of the rioters, their is only one reason that I can come up with for the event, to attempt to turn the tide on this investigation.  To try and bully or intimidate someone, somewhere into doing more to the officer who pulled the trigger than “investigate”.  There is a word that is used to refer to people who try to use fear and intimidation to get what they want.  We call them Terrorists, and each and every one of you who participated in the events of last Wednesday night are just that.  Terrorists.  So again I ask, what did you hope to accomplish?

What DID you accomplish? You clearly didn’t intimidate anyone…  Not anyone who can get you what you want anyway.  You probably intimidated the people whose cars you set on fire.  You probably intimidated the business owners of whose shops and restaurants you smashed the windows.  I don’t really imagine those people can further your cause though, and I seriously doubt that you’ve “won them over.”  So what did you accomplish?  Destruction of private property.  Unlawful assembly.  For many of you, resisting arrest.  That’s at least three laws you’ve broken right there.  They maybe lesser violations than murder or even manslaughter but violations they are, nonetheless.  So, what did you accomplish?

And finally, Now that you’ve done this, how are you any better than the boys on the train that night, or the cop who shot one of them? You’ve broken the law, you’ve created a civil disturbance, you’ve damaged other peoples property, and let’s just hope that those business owners had insurance to pay for what you’ve done, because if they don’t and they have to repair the damages out of pocket, well…. In these difficult financial times, you may have set them back much more than just the cost of a broken window.  So, Now that you’ve done this, how are you any better than the boys on the train that night, or the cop who shot one of them?

Now, I have entertained the idea that somehow you’ve done us a favor.  Wouldn’t it be nice if, somehow, as a result of your actions, the economy turns around?  The significant out lay of cash to repair the damage you caused, then trickles down, to the workers doing the repairs, who then need to eat lunch, who then go to the restaurants where they repaired the windows and the owners then do increased business and, etc., etc., etc.

Of course we know that is not likely, however there is one good thing that did come out of this.  On Thursday morning, the BART Board of Directors had a meeting at the BART headquarters which happens to be a block away from my office.  In fact there is no other structure, just a park, between my office window and that building and I can see it clearly.  What I can also see clearly is the park below.  The BART Board of Directors, in all their wisdom, decided to invite the public to come and voice their opinions at this meeting.

It started at around 10:00 with the sound of police sirens out side.  I looked out my window in time to see nine police vehicles fly up the street toward the building where the BART headquarters are housed.  No noticeable results came of that and soon they had moved on.  Half an hour after that I looked outside again to notice that the intersections all around the BART building were closed and officers were redirecting traffic.  And then I looked down at the street closer to my office to see that there was a parade of police vehicles congregating on the street outside my building.  At the time that I looked, I counted no less than thirty-two motorcycles, black and whites, unmarked cars and SUVs lined up along the street with the officers poised and ready for trouble.

At 12:30, the one good thing to come out of all this happened.  At 12:30, word came down from “Senior Leadership” that we were encouraged to go home.

So, for that at least, I thank you, you wacked out, ignorant, ne’erdowells.  From the bottom of my cold, dead heart, I thank you!

Devil’s Airline; the Extended Version

The other day when I wrote my previous post I realized that trying to write everything I had to say, on my iPhone would take forever, and run my battery down and I hadn’t even boarded my first flight of what would turn out to be a very long day.

So here it is, the extended version of my horrific experience with what turned out to be The Devil’s Travel Agency.  When I finally got word of the date of my grandfather’s funeral, I immediately set about the business of coordinating travel arrangements with CPA Sister who would be flying into Denver from the right coast (I, from the left).

It seems my grandfather had the unmitigated gall to go and die the night before Vengeful Mother was scheduled to fly into Albany, New York to visit CPA Sis and family for a week.  Vengeful Mother was informed of the situation and given the opportunity to reschedule the trip, but she opted to go ahead and visit and roll with the punches from there.  Apparently, Vengeful Mother has a rather loose definition of “roll with the punches” but if I follow that thread right now, I’ll go terribly off topic.  Needless to say that when Vengeful Mother found out the timing of the funeral she was upset that it was interfering with her visit with her grandyounguns.  (Ended up that Grandyounguns and Vengeful Mother stayed in New York together while CPA Sis and Jack O’ All Trades came to the funeral. 

In order to attempt to appease Vengeful Mother, CPA Sis and JOAT decided to wait until Sunday to fly out for the funeral.  There was to be a viewing and visitation on Sunday afternoon, but I was perfectly happy to miss that.  While it would have been nice to visit with some of the family members, I had no desire to see my grandfather’s empty shell.  I planned to coordinate my travel arrangements with CPA Sis and JOAT so that we could spend some one on two time together and I could benefit from her better financial independence and ride in the rental car that they were getting.

Once informed of their itinerary, I set about finding airline tickets that would closely match with them.  After doing a Google search for cheap airline tickets, I happened across a website called The Devil’s Travel Agency.  After putting in my requirements I found a listing for a $384.00 ticket listed on Virgin America.  I’ve looked at their website before and I’ve seen the luxurious appointments and opulence with which these planes are decked out.  I’ve wanted to travel on Virgin America for a long time.  Naturally, I pursued this option.  Once I clicked on the link I discovered that what The Devil’s Travel Agency was really showing me was an itinerary from US Airways (The Devil’s Airline) with only the final leg of my return trip being on Virgin America. 

I made my travel arrangements on Wednesday with a Sunday departure.  A) Everything was pricey because of the short notice, but this itinerary was not and 2) It may have been mostly US Airways but Virgin America doesn’t actually fly to Denver, and at least this ticket would give me the one leg on their airline.  So I booked it.  When I got to the final page of the booking I found out my $384.00 airline ticket was $500.50 after taxes and fees.  Oh, but Satan himself gave me a discount…  Ten whole dollars.  So the price was $490.50.  And that included the $14.00 they said they were charging to  2-day express ship the tickets via Fed-Ex because they said it was not an e-ticket.  I never received paper tickets and I have yet to see what amount will be billed to the credit card.

Travel day arrived and I reported to the San Francisco International Airport an hour and forty minutes prior to my 12:02 departure time.  I walked up to the curbside check-in because I learned a few years ago that far fewer people use Curbside and therefore it’s much faster.

Numb-nuts curbside guy:  Where are you traveling to?

Me:  Denver

There is a long pause while he punches computer keys.

Numb-nuts curbside guy:  Did you buy your ticket after July 9th?

Me:  [leery] Yeeeesssss.

Numb-nuts curbside guy:  That’s the problem.  As of July 9th, there is a $15.00 fee for your first checked bag and you can only check-in inside.

Ok.  Kinda pissed, what with this being the first I’ve heard about this $15.00 fee, but whatever.  I’m trying to avoid stress and the usual anxiety that I feel on travel day that lasts up until I get to the gate and see that they’re not yet boarding.  I go inside.  US Airways ticketing area at SFO is a fucking chaotic free for all.  No clearly delineated lanes or turnstiles just posts and straps here and there that mostly just get in the way.  I walk up to the counter where there is one agent and two kiosks.  I tell the guy, I’ve never flown this airline before and I’m not sure what I’m doing.

Bum-fuck Ticket Agent:  It’s easy.  Just follow the instructions on the screen.  (All along he is punching away on a computer and never actually looks up at me.)

I look at the screen and it says to touch anywhere to start.  Then it asks me if I’m checking in…  Um, isn’t that why I’d be at the ticketing counter?  I hit “yes”.  Then it asks me for the credit card I used for the transaction.  OK…  I don’t have that card.  M&M was gracious enough to lend me the money using her card.

Me:  OK.  It’s asking me for the credit card but I don’t have it.

Bum-fuck Ticket Agent:  (Still punching keys) You can also use your flight number or your last name. 

Ok.  I don’t know my flight number either but I know my last name.  I stand there, patiently, thinking (silly me) that he is going to help me now.  After 15 or 20 seconds I realize he’s not paying any attention to me and that he’s expecting me to handle this on my own.  I look down at the screen and realize that there is an icon to touch for other options.  I enter my last name and hit continue.  There is no perceptible change in the screen except that the continue button and my last name have disappeared.  I’m very annoyed at this point and I’m about to ask BFTA what to do next when I notice that where it did say to enter my last name, it now says to enter my first name.  I do so and it asks me for the state I’m traveling to.  I enter Colorado.  It then asks me for the first three letters of the city.

I’m moving from annoyed to irritated.  A ticket agent would have had all this information just by pulling up my name.  This pieceofshit computer should have been able to do the same thing.

I type D E N.  The screen changes. “Please select the city of your final destination.  Are you traveling to:”  Three buttons underneath that say:

Aspen, CO                                                       Colorado Springs, CO

Denver, CO

Garsh, let me think you numb-nuts pieceofshit computer?  You said, “enter the first three letters and I typed DEN, given the three choices you gave me WHERE DO YOU THINK I’M GOING!?!?!  (Have I mentioned that I have really hated the on-going trend to replace human customer service with computerized versions.  I have always resented the do it yourself credit card machine at the grocery – and just about every other kind of store.)

I hit the Denver, CO button a little harder than they’d probably like but I feel that they should consider themselves lucky that I haven’t toppled the damn machine and jumped up and down on it’s dead carcass.

Finally, it pulls up my flight information for the day.  First flight from SFO to Phoenix, AZ and connecting on to Denver, CO.  Yes, this is correct.  There is a button I can hit to view and change my seating assignment.  I don’t think this will be necessary because when I made my reservation I specified that I want an aisle seat first and foremost and an exit/bulkhead row if they can swing it, but I figure I’ll go ahead and verify my seat anyway.  Well, what do you know, they have me in seat 27E, A MIDDLE SEAT.  Oh but look, I can select my seating assignment.  After reading the color code I see that there are a couple of aisle, exit row seats open so I select one of those.  Then I push the button to check my seating assignment on the connecting flight.  The computer thinks on this for a second and then tells me that that information isn’t available.

No big deal, I think, I’ll check out my boarding pass and if I don’t like the seat I’ll check with the gate agent in Phoenix.  I indicate that my check-in is complete, but not before I have to put a credit card in the machine to pay my $15.00 for checking my suitcase.  Finally this pieceofshit machine starts spitting out my paperwork.  One sheet of ATM receipt paper, two sheets of ATM receipt paper, three sheets of ATM receipt paper.  I begin to examine the papers.  One is a receipt for my $15.00 fee.  One is my itinerary of my trip, because really at this moment, there’s nothing I want more from this fucked up airline than yet another copy of my itinerary that I already printed off the website the day I booked the flight, AND received in an e-mail AND forwarded to myself to a different e-mail address so I’d have it on my iPhone.  For those of you at home that are keeping count, that leaves me with only one more sheet of ATM receipt paper.  This is my boarding pass for my first flight.

I’m confused.  My irritation has turned to down right pissed offedness.  I look up at Bum-fuck Ticket Agent and say, “It only gave me one boarding pass.  How do I get my second boarding pass?”

Bum-fuck Ticket Agent looks up from his keyboard where he’s been punching keys this entire time and looks right past me at the person behind me and asks if he can help them.  Woops, blew right past pissed offedness and right on to angry.

Bum-fuck Ticket Agent finishes with what he was helping the guy behind me with and looks down at the luggage tag printer, picks something off of it and calls my name out (Because I guess I might have wondered off?)

Me: I’M RIGHT HERE AND I ASKED YOU A QUESTION.”

Bum-fuck Ticket Agent:  What’s up?

Me:  HOW do I get my second boarding pass, it only gave me my first one.

Bum-fuck Ticket Agent:  It didn’t give you your second boarding pass?

(WHAT DID I JUST SAY!) and then he actually came around to my side of the counter and starts shoving his hand up the shoot, you know, because I just might really be THAT dumb!

Bum-fuck Ticket Agent:  Huh!  That’s weird.

Me:  It’s a little bit more than weird and I’m growing quite dissatisfied now.  This system sucks.  Your Customer Service sucks and I’m really beginning to regret having bought my ticket from you guys.

Bum-fuck Ticket Agent:  (As if I’d just told him a happy little bedtime story) Oh, here’s the problem.  Your next flight is on a different Airline.  We can check your bag through but we can’t issue your boarding pass.

Me:  What?!?  My itinerary (which I now have NINE copies of) says it’s US Airways.

Bum-fuck Ticket Agent:  Yeah, we just sold you the ticket but you’re flying on United.

Me:  You also sold me a ticket on Virgin America and it says Virgin America right here on my NINE copies of my itinerary.

Bum-fuck Ticket Agent:  Yeah, sorry about that.  So you want to go right down that way and too your left.  (And he grabs my suit case and walks away.)

Right about now, I’m hoping, steaming mad.  Possibly a little surprised not to be pulled out of the security check point and cavity searched for manure based explosives.  So I go off to the gate because once Bum-fuck Ticket Agent has walked away from me, what more can I do.

I get to the gate, gate 27, and approach the gate agent.

Not totally worthless gate agent:  Hi there, can I help you?

Me:  I hope so.  Bum-fuck Ticket Agent up front couldn’t do jack shit for me and I’m hoping you’ll be willing to try a little harder.  My connecting flight out of Phoenix is on United Airlines and BFTA told me you guys couldn’t give me my boarding pass.  Is that really true?  And if so, how do I get it because BFTA couldn’t tell me that either.

Not totally worthless gate agent:  May I see you boarding pass (Punches a few keys, rips my boarding pass in half and hands me two, count them TWO, traditional card stock boarding passes)

Me:  (my connecting flight is another middle seat) I hate to be too picky, but is there any chance you can change this to an aisle seat?

Not totally worthless gate agent:  Unfortunately, I can’t do that but the gate agent in Phoenix should be able to help you.

Fair enough.  It’s more than I got out of Bum-fuck Ticket Agent.  Not totally worthless gate agent also informed me that United flies out of a totally different terminal in Phoenix than US Airways does and that I’ll be required to exit the airport and reenter.  Great.

So I board the plane, only to realize that what was listed as an exit row on the kiosk computer screen wasn’t really (why am I surprised) but it’s one row behind the exit row.  Fortunately, the aisle seat directly ahead and across is not only an exit row but a bulkhead row and it is unoccupied so I moved to that seat.  The entire time that the airplane was taxiing, the exit door was rattling, eliciting visions of sudden vacuum decompression as the door gets sucked out mid-flight.  The engines, during take off and most of our ascent, sounded as if a bird were stuck inside and clinging to a hopeless battle for life.

Somehow we made it to Phoenix in one piece.  I exit the plane and start walking.  I’ve never been in Phoenix before and I have no idea where I’m going.  As I’m walking toward the exit I get a call from CPA Sis.  There are thunderstorms in Albany and Continental Air lines has determined that they need to lighten their load in order to ensure a safe departure, so they’ve evicted CPA Sis and Jack O’ All Trades from the plane along with their luggage.  Apparently the 600 lbs max, that they added to the load would be enough to plummet the ship into certain doom in a corn field in Nebraska.  The fact that they were winging their way to a funeral was of no consequence.

As reparation, Continental gave them each a $500.00 voucher for air travel, and put them in a cab to JFK, in New York City, where they would board a flight that would arrive in Denver at 9:55.  (Originally they were to arrive in Denver at 7:19, five minutes before my arrival.)  They cab ride would take about three hours and their flight was in 3 hours and 45 minutes.  That there is a whole ‘nother story for a whole ‘nother post, and since I wasn’t there, the story may never be told, but suffice it to say there was shoulder driving, torrential downpours, thousands of returning New Yorkers (On a Sunday night)…  Oh, and a taxi to taxi car accident half a mile away from the air port.

So here I am in the Phoenix Airport, with no idea where to go, being told that I’ll have two and a half hours to kill when I get to Denver.  I get off the phone and walk up to a security guard this side of the security check point and explain my plight, fully expecting to be rebuffed by the very important man in uniform, sitting high aloft a platform and who, when I saw him, was checking out the cleavage of a big busted woman wandering aimlessly nearby.  He was actually quite nice, explained to me that United does fly out of a different terminal a mile down the road.  Fortunately, there was a shuttle.

I got to the new terminal and went through security yet again.  I found my way to the gate and plopped myself down next to an outlet to eat my lunch and charge my iPhone.  Neither that outlet or any of the other six I located in that waiting area actually worked.  The whole building was in disrepair, almost as if it’d been built in the 1960s and then promptly forgotten about (which is probably just what happened.)  It was 110 degrees that day in Phoenix and even an iceberg cooled blast of frozen air through the AC could not have combated the oppressiveness that filled the area, let alone the built in Air Conditioning System.  All in all, Phoenix (as a whole, as I see it) and the Phoenix airport in particular is a shithole to be avoided at all costs from this point forward.

The airplane from the second flight was in worse condition with thread bare upholstery and scratched up windows.  (The gate agent there was able to get me into a window seat, but all the aisle seats were taken)

**By way of a quick detour, I called CPA Sis again when I got to Denver and they had not yet boarded their flight.  It seems that their pilots were stuck in Cincinnati, and even though the plane was in New York they couldn’t board it until they had pilots and they couldn’t find any closer than Cincinnati.  The pilots finally arrived and they boarded the plane and pushed back from the gate, only to be advised that their flight plan had expired and that they had to file a new one and couldn’t be cleared for take off until the flight plan had been filed and approved.  This flight didn’t take off until after it was supposed to have arrived in Denver.  The arrival time was to have been 9:55 p.m. and I actually picked up CPA Sis and Jack at the Denver Circus Tent— er airport at 3:20.  We spent the night in a hotel in Denver and drove the two hour drive to the funeral the next morning.

Satan’s underlings’ busy work did not end there.

On Tuesday evening when I was heading back to the Bay Area, I arrived at the airport at the US Airways counter (’cause you know, that’s who I bought my damn tickets through) only to discover that I was supposed to check-in at the United Airlines counter ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BUILDING (fortunately, it was not as far as it sounded.)  Once again, they could only give me my first boarding pass.  They could see that my connecting flight was on Virgin America, but they were not able to give me my Virgin America Boarding Pass, nor could the check my bag through to SFO.  This is where The Devil’s Travel Agency is at fault.  Perhaps I should have known better, but having never experienced such a thing before, I had no idea to look for this.  The Devil’s Travel Agency compiled the flights for me, and rather than selling me a round-trip ticket from an airline, they sold me three one way tickets for a round trip price, two through US Airways and one through Virgin America.

The very kind and lovely ticket agent for United Airlines in Denver informed me that they don’t have an agreement with Virgin America and therefor they were unable to check my bag through, or give me my boarding pass.  “That figures,”  I told her, “Everything else about my itinerary has been fucked up, why should this be any different?”

Very kind and lovely ticket agent:  I’m very sorry to hear that, I wish I could do more.

Me:  Well, thanks, but it’s not your fault, you’re not US Airways.

VKALTA:  Well, we were for five years.

Me:  Well, I’m glad you’re not anymore.  I’ll never fly that airline again.

So hears the rub.  I have flown to Las Vegas five times now, always to go to LasVegas.  I greatly dislike flying Southwest Airlines, but you can get really good package deals with airfare and hotels.  Check out Southwest Vacations.com for excellent rates at hotels on the strip.  I fly to Las Vegas on Southwest, because that’s how you get the package deals.  Southwest flies into the main terminal at the Las Vegas Airport and I never even knew there was more.

I stepped off the jet way when my United Airlines plane landed in Las Vegas into a beautiful, modern, opulent terminal, I never knew was there.  I was impressed, dare I say it, maybe just a little bit in love…  And then it hit me.  The feeling of certain doom.  The realization that what was already a stupid arrangement in my mind was going to be even worse than I had suspected.  My United Airlines flight parked at gate D40.  I made the long trek to the opposite end of the terminal and onto the tram to the main terminal where the baggage claim area is.

(Sidebar), why does everyone have to crowd right up to the baggage carousel, as closely as possible to where the bags will come out?  I was one of the first people there, so I walked up and staked out my claim, but if I’d been one of the last, I’d have gone around to the other end of the carousel where no one wanted to be.  I hit an old man with my suitcase, as I hoisted it off the carousel with my gimp (recently operated on) wrist and oh darn it, he was standing on my shoes and talking on the phone and just didn’t move fast enough.  “Sorry old man, maybe next time you’ll think twice about climbing inside my pants with me uninvited and when I’m already pissed offed.”

So I grabbed my suit case off the carousel, layed out the old guy and made my way back the direction I came.  Only to realize that when I came down the escalators to the baggage claim I was exiting the security area and I had to find another way.  It took a few minutes and several wrong turns but I found my way back to ticketing (which was not clearly marked in anyway, from baggage claim.)

I walked up to the Virgin America ticketing area and there was NO line!  I walked right up to the counter where I was greeted by a lovely African American woman, yes woman, named Willis.  Willis informed me that the flight was very full, but that there were a couple seats open in First Class if I’d like to upgrade for only $50.00.  At first I declined but on further discussion, I decided it was well worth it.  This experience from the moment I walked up to the counter till the moment I picked up my bag at baggage claim in San Francisco was a delight!  An awesome resolution to an other wise ass sucky, FUBARed, screw over of a trip. 

An experience so worthy of further description, in fact, that I’m not going to do so now.  At this moment the counter in the corner says I’m at 3904 words.  It’s ten minutes till 7 p.m. and I’m still at my desk at work.  This has taken about an hour longer than I expected and I have a pork chop and  bottle of White Zinfandel at home with my name on them.  So I will fill you all in on the wonder that is Virgin America, in a very near future post.

But before I conclude this tirade, I almost bet you can guess what the final frustration was?  You got it, My United Airlines plane parked at gate D40 and my Virgin America plane departed from Gate D34.  I had to make my way, all the way to bagage claim so that I could get to ticketing, check-in and check my suit case again, and then go back through Security, back to the tram to get back to Terminal D three gates down from where I was in the first place.  So, I give “rave” reviews to the Devil’s Travel Agency AND his airline. (Insert rolling eyes here.)

The Devil’s Airline

I’m sitting at gate 27 at San Francisco International Airport and already I’m not happy. Naturally, when you’re buying last minute tickets everything is more expensive, but I managed to find a ticket for just shy of $500.00 ostensibly via US Airways. In reality, only my first leg is aboard US Airways. The connecting flight today and the first leg of the return flight are on United Airlines and the final leg on Virgin America.

When I arrived at SFO I went to curbside check-in where they informed me that because my ticket was purchased after July 9th there was a $15.00 fee for checking my suitcase and that because of this I had to check in inside. Fine. Not happy, but fine.

They do not help you on this airline! There is a self service kiosk where you help yourself. The damn thing only gave me my first boarding pass. The guy who wasn’t helping me said, “Oh yeah. That’s ’cause you’re next flight is on a different airline.”

“Yes but you sold it to me.”

“Yeah. Sorry. So down that way and to your left.”

NOT off to a good start.

By the way I’ve written this post on iPhone. Good on ya WordPress!

Obituary & Travel Plans

This is the official obituary, written by the funeral home, for my grandfather.  It’s not exactly new information, but it does potentially correct some erroneous information previously provided.

—————————————————————————-

Dr. [Papa] passed away peacefully in his home in Cañon City , Colorado , Monday evening, July 21st. He was born in Olean, New York, October 4th, 1916, the 2nd youngest of eight children.

He graduated from Olean High School, attended Seattle Pacific University and studied at Texas Christian University. He received an honorary doctorate degree from Whitworth College, Washington State.

He was inducted into the U.S. Army and served his country as a lieutenant during World War II. July 8th, 1947, he married [Granny] in Los Angeles, California and initially worked as a member of The Navigators, an evangelistic mission. Later he joined the Billy Graham Association, his main vocation, and served nationally and internationally setting up crusades and training counselors. Once retired from this, he continued his Christian work by holding Bible studies in prisons in Cañon City until recently. He authored the book, Learning to Walk with God with a study guide.

He is survived by a son [Dead Beat Dad] of Cincinnati, Ohio, a son [Presumed Dead Hippy], a daughter, [Hardworking Homemaker] of Parker, Colorado, a sister-in-law, Myra of Lockport, NY, a brother-in-law, James, of Corning, NY, 6 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.  (Startedliving can only count two great grandchildren, and a third still brewing.)

 

————————————————————————

I was asked a few days ago if I wanted to be a Pallbearer.  My immediate answer was that I did not have anything appropriate to wear for such a duty.  In my mind the case was closed because it wasn’t a possibity.   In a subsequent conversation with CPA Sis I was told that Hardworking Homemaker didn’t want me to feel like I couldn’t do it if it was important to me, and she was willing to reimburse me for a new suit if that was what needed to happen. 

CPA Sis:  Hardworking Homemaker wants to know if you want to be a pallbearer and she’s willing to pay for your suit if you do.

I was struck by the fact that I really didn’t know the answer to that.  I have mixed feelings about it.  I do not want to see my grandfather’s body.  I learned the hardway that the being in that coffin is not my Grandfather.  First of all Papa was down to about 85 pounds when he died.  He was nearly six feet tall and in his prime, he was closer to 200 pounds.  Secondly, the fact that his spirit (and his blood) have left his body, changes the appearance of him.  I do not need to remember him that way.  I’m counting on the idea that the casket will have already been prepared and sealed by the time I get to it.

In discussing it with Hardworking Homemaker, I realized that the only answer I could give was, “I don’t know the answer to that, and that tells me I better do it so I don’t wish I had later.”

So I went to Men’s Wearhouse last night, and bought a new suit, shirt, tie and shoes.  $620.00 later, I have new black suit that acutally fits, which I am picking up tomorrow evening before flying to Denver on Sunday Morning.  I’ll arrive in Denver at about 7:30 where I’ll meet up with CPA Sis and Mr. Mom, (her husband) and we will rent a car and drive to Cañon City.  The funeral is Monday Morning and should prove to be a long day.  Memorial Service, then burrial and then lunch at the church with family and out of town guests.  I’ll spend the night in Cañon City again on Sunday.  CPA Sis and Mr. Mom are flying out of Denver and back to New York on Tuesday morning, but my flight doesn’t leave until 6:04 pm Mountain time.  Details of my transportation are yet to be resoloved but I’m not too worried bout it.  I arrive back in San Francisco at 10:55.

I was really hoping that CPA Sis and Mr. Mom would bring their daughters with them (no snappy nicknames yet).  Unfortuantely, that’s not really possible.  At $750.00 a ticket it didn’t make sense to bring them along and have to deal with the disruption and five and three year old would cause.  Vengeful Mother was to visit CPA Sis and clan starting this past Tuesday.  She opted to go ahead with the visit which is good and bad.  Even though she knew what she was getting herself into, she’s still seen fit to make an issue of the fact that her visit with CPA Sis has to be cut short.  On the other hand the three of them decided that she will stay in New York with the girls while CPA Sis and Mr. Mom come to the funeral.  Vengeful Mother is scheduled to leave this Tuesday afternoon, and Mr. Mom’s dad is coming in the same day. 

Tuesday looks to be a pretty hectic day for them.  I don’t know the logistics but CPA Sis and Mr. Mom fly back Tuesday morning, in time to pick up Mr. Mom’s dad, everyone go to lunch, and then drop off Vengeful Mother for her return trip.  I do not envy CPA Sis and Mr. Mom on this one.

Even though I’m going to be home on Tuesday, I’m still taking the rest of the week off work which will be nice.  The next major disruption of my life is to be the remodeling of my regretably pink bathroom.  More on that, and hopefully pictures, later.

Mr. Mom talked about buying me a ticket to come see them in the next month or two.  I’m thinking the smart thing is to coordinate that visit with the bathroom remodel.  Scared Kitty won’t be too happy about that but he’ll survive.