Not To Be Trusted With Knives











{January 1, 2009}   This Freaks Me Out

Having just gotten back from Cabos, this totally freaks me out:

Two Vancouverites shot in Cabo San Lucas

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And now the conclusion of our harrowing tale of trying to fly on US Airways.  When we last left the story, our heroine and hero had spent SEVEN hours waiting in the San Jose del Cabos airport, been flown to Tuscon to walk through Immigration/Customs only to find out their luggage had been lost, then flown to Phoenix where they were put up in a hotel and given coupons for a horrible, horrible breakfast.

So.  Comparatively speaking, our flight from Phoenix to Vancouver was not nearly as bad, but still involved the following screw ups:

  • The pilot went to the wrong gate. Seriously. We were originally supposed to be at Gate B28 and then they announced that it was changed to Gate A23, so everyone started to walk over to the new gate. But then the person on the PA system said, “Wait. The pilot appears to have gone to Gate B23 instead of A23, so we’ll just have your flight to Vancouver board there.”  The fact that the pilot can’t even go to the correct gate does not give me confidence in the competence of this airline.  Not that I had much confidence left in them at this point.
  • Yet another maintenance “issue.” We were delayed an hour at the gate because, apparently, the maintenance people didn’t fill out the paperwork correctly.  The pilot announced, in a very annoyed tone of voice, “Maintenance has to come on the plane to straighten out some paperwork.  The TSA is really picky about having paperwork filled out correctly.” Oh yeah, those darn safety people wanting you take the safety seriously, how dare they?  I also find it rather suspect that it took them an hour to “straighten out the paperwork.” An hour? Really? Again, this did not fill me with confidence.
  • They didn’t have anyone at the lost baggage desk at YVR. They had lost baggage there – plenty of it.  Just sitting out in the open where anyone could have walked away with it.  We waited for 20 minutes for someone to show up.  We called their support line and the person we got on the phone tried calling someone to figure out why no one was at the desk, and then claimed that they couldn’t make any outgoing calls when we suggested that they get the airport to page the missing lost baggage person (you may recall from earlier in this sentence, they had already made an outgoing call).
  • They left forms with people’s confidential information on it sitting right out on the desk for anyone to see. Seriously. I saw six forms with people’s names, home addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, flight information, signatures and the approximate value of the contents of their lost luggage1. Eventually, someone showed up at the American Airlines desk next to the US Airways one and, after repeatedly telling us “I don’t work for US Airways. I don’t know what the other airlines do,” looked behind the counter and found our luggage, which apparently had been put on an earlier flight to Vancouver than us.  The person from American Airlines refused to put the forms with people’s confidential information out of sight, despite the fact that I asked her to do so very nicely three times, again with the “I don’t know what the other airlines do” line. Like, seriously, would it have been that hard to take the forms and put them under the desk?  At that point, I gave up on the whole thing and we left the airport, finally home in our beloved Vancouver.

So, to recap, here is a list of all the ways that US Airways screwed up on one trip:

  • FOUR planes with “maintenance issues,” including two that were unfit to fly altogether
  • a total of ELEVEN hours of delay2 (not counting the two hours delay waiting to leave Vancouver, which was due to weather (i.e., the need to wait for the de-icer), which is not their fault; and also not counting an overnight stay in Phoenix, which was their fault3)
  • They lost our luggage
  • They don’t have a person at their lost luggage desk
  • When luggage does eventually arrive at its final destination, they leave it out in the open where anyone could steal it
  • They left several people’s confidential information out in the open, also available for stealing

Additional things that suck about US Airways:

  • They charge you if you have ANY checked bags.
  • They charge you for a can of pop or a bottle of water on the plane.
  • They don’t have any food at all on their plane. Not even the over-priced crappy sandwiches or bags of chips that other airlines carry.

In conclusion, I will never, ever fly US Airways again and you shouldn’t either.  I feel lucky to have arrived home alive after that trip, quite frankly.

1In fairness, this desk was also for a few other airlines and there were forms from people who flew on Air Transat & Continental sitting on the desk as well. So whoever had been at that desk for all those airlines totally sucks. And I bet it was a US Airways employee.
2One hour of them fixing our plane in Phoenix, waiting to go to Cabos; seven hours waiting for our plane in Cabos as they had to replace two non-functional planes in a row; about a two hour detour to Tucson because our flight was so late that we couldn’t clear Immigration in Phoenix; one hour of them “straightening up the paperwork” waiting to leave Phoenix to get to Vancouver; plus having to stay overnight in Phoenix
3Ironically, the only flight segment of our entire journey that didn’t have a delay was our originally scheduled Phoenix to Vancouver flight, which we missed because we were still in Cabos. It left Phoenix right on time.



{December 29, 2008}   OMGIhateUSAirways!

So. I’m in friggin’ Phoenix.

After waiting for SEVEN hours in the San Jose del Cabo airport, we *finally* got a flight to Phoenix. Most people on the flight had bailed by this point, with only 17 passengers remaining to take the flight. This was an Airbus A320 plane, which seats 179 passangers, and it had been full. Until we had to wait SEVEN hours.

By this point,we were kind of starving. Because, of course, everything in the airport had closed down. And we asked the flight attendant what there was on the plane that we could buy and she said, “Oh, we don’t carry any food.” (US Airways, by the way, sucks.) Um, what? No food on the plane? I remember from the flight down to Cabos that you have to pay for your lousy can of pop (did I mention that US Airways sucks?), but you can’t even buy food on their plane? wtf? Then we asked what kind of mechanical problems they had that had delayed us for SEVEN hours and the flight attendants said, “Which one?” Apparently there were two non-functional planes (the first one wouldn’t pressurize, the second had some door locking problem) before they got this third, functional plane. So, counting the mechanical problem on the way from Phoenix to Cabos (which caused a few hours delay), that’s THREE major maintenance issues in one trip. Somehow,this does not give me confidence in their ability to maintain their planes.

The next ridiculous thing to happen was that they announced that we had to fly to Tucson to clear customs before we could go to Phoenix. Wait, what? Apparently, our flight was so late that the Phoenix customs people had all gone home. So we had to go to Tucson (which has 24 hour customs), get off the plane with all our luggage, clear customs, go back through security, get back on the plane and fly to Phoenix. No, really. And then we get to Tuscon and find that they have lost our luggage. Lost. Our. Luggage. They had SEVEN hours to get our luggage on that plane. SEVEN! (Did I mention that US Airways is the suckiest airline ever? Did I?) I have never, in my entire life, had my luggage lost. I was starting to think that lost luggage was just a myth. But no, US Airways lost our luggage. Way to go, US Airways!

Once we got to Phoenix, they put us up in a hotel (14 of the 17 people from our flight were on the shuttle to the hotel) and gave us little coupons for their horrible hotel breakfast buffet. And I’m not even making this up, the coupon said it was for an airline “distressed” passenger breakfast.

OK, I’ll have to continue this story later, as I need to go board my plane. Keep your fingers crossed for us to actually make it home before 2009!



{December 28, 2008}   Mi Navidad Mexicana

My Christmas vacation in Los Cabos, Mexico went a little something like this:

10:45 a.m. Wake up1.
10:55 a.m. Arrive at breakfast buffet restaurant.  Acquire coffee, refried beans, papaya and pineapple. Big decision of the day #1: French toast, omelette or fried eggs.
11:30 a.m. Grab beach towels. Apply sunscreen. Order non-stop delivery of Coca-Cola Light2 with a slice of lime from poolside server.
11:35a.m. Lay in sun. Alternate between reading, chatting with people and swimming. Reapply sunscreen as needed.
2:00 p.m. Have lunch, where lunch = french fries, onion rings, nachos with fresh guac and salsa.  And Coca-Cola Light.
2:30 p.m. Tod’s naptime. Big decision of the day #2: Decide between having a nap, reading, or going for a walk on the beach.
5:00 p.m. Nap (if not already napping)
6:30 p.m. Shower.  Dress up pretty.
8:00 p.m. Big decision of the day #3: where to have dinner.
10:30 p.m. Go to the disco, possibly followed by hot tub.
2:00 a.m. Order sandwiches from room service.
2:45 a.m. Re-order sandwich because they put bacon on my vegetarian sandwich.
3:15 a.m. Sleep.

Repeat for six days.

Seriously, I could get used to a life like that.

Highlights of the trip:

  • Los Cabos is gorgeous. Gorgeous!
  • The people we met were very friendly. Friendly!
  • Being a Vancouverite, I’m not used to sunshine, especially not in December.  Los Cabos was sunshine-y almost the entire time.
  • In Los Cabos, I didn’t have to think about work at all.
  • Standing on the beach, listening to the waves break3 and feeling myself sink into the sand as the waves rolled in and then back out.
  • 3 a.m. room service sandwiches. So. Tasty.

Lowlights of the trip:

  • Apparently, I’m the first vegetarian to ever set foot in Mexico.  To the point that on Christmas Eve, I was told that they couldn’t make me anything for dinner. After talking with one of the guest services peeps (who said, “Oh, would you like them to make you something special?” to which I replied, “No4, I just want something vegetarian!”) they agreed to make me… a salad. Because, you know, us freaks only ever eat salad. And who wouldn’t want a salad for Christmas dinner? In the end, I  managed to convince them to give me both the salad and a turkey dinner, hold the turkey.
  • Sitting in the San Jose del Cabos airport writing this blog posting. Our flight was supposed to have left 5:30 p.m. and it’s now, as I type this, 8:30 p.m.  The plane we were supposed to be on hadn’t even left Phoenix by 5:30 p.m. And apparently they can’t get us any other plane. And so now we are scheduled to leave here at 9:20 p.m. Which is going to make it rather difficult to make our 8:59 p.m. connection from Phoenix to Vancouver. So. Looks like I’ll be staying either in Phoenix (given that the 8:59 p.m. is the last Phoenix to Vancouver flight of the day) or here in Cabos5 (if this stupid plane decides never to arrive).

Books Read on This Trip:

  • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (start to finish)6
  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks (about one-third of the book)
  • The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn (about half a page)
  • Research Design by Creswell (the chapters I hadn’t yet read) and Conducting & Reading Research in Health & Human Performance by Baumgartner & Hensley (bits and pieces – since I’ve been stuck in this airport)

Things I Learned On My Trip:

  • Spray on sunscreen, which starts out invisible, turns green. The towel you lay on while wearing said sunscreen will look like it has grass stains on it.
  • Coffee whitener is highly flammable7.
  • Broken bones don’t hurt until you move them8.
  • Los Cabos airport appears to be a tent.

1Important, as they stop serving breakfast at 11 a.m.
2Which is what they call Diet Coke in Mexico. I didn’t see diet Pepsi anywhere.
3Of course, being a Vancouverite, I can easily get to the ocean. This was a reminder that I should make a point of doing so more often.
4Seriously. I’m not asking for the moon here. I’m like, “just give me the veggies from the turkey dinner, hold the turkey!”
5Kicking myself for joking in my last blog posting about deciding to stay in Mexico. Staying sounded nice, but not if it means staying in the airport!
6Thanks to Sarah & Dave, who gave this to me for Christmas.
7Didn’t actually have the opportunity to see this in action, but we were assured that it is true.
8Didn’t learn this firsthand, but one of the people we were hanging out with broken his toe playing beach volleyball. I was sure it was just dislocated, given that it didn’t hurt and bones have lots of nerves in them. But when the doctor showed up, he said it was broken (as he was able to move the joints normally, meaning the joints couldn’t be dislocated) and that it didn’t hurt because it wasn’t moving.



Now that Christmas is officially over, it’s time for all the various news channels and websites to start releasing their “best of 2008” lists.  Beth’s still enjoying a couple more days in the Mexican sun, but she thought you might like this:

The Smoking Gun’s Top Ten List of Mugshots for 2008.



{December 26, 2008}   Happy Boxing Day

This is two cats in a box, in honour of Boxing Day:

Cats and boxes!!! by fofurasfelinas.

Cuteness!

Photo credit: fofurasfelinas on Flickr.



and all through the blog,
not a Bethy was stirring,
‘cuz she was too busy learning to salsa dance on her vacation in Mexico. Or perhaps it’s merengue today. Or maybe yoga on the beach. Whatever it is she’s up to, she’s not here blogging.

She did, however, leave this link for you today. It’s a discussion about the sex (not the gender, as the headline says) of Santa’s reindeer.  Hint: they are probably girls.



She’s probably lounging on the beach right at this very moment. It’s probably 30 degrees in Los Cabos. And she left you and me stuck here in freezing cold Canada1. Hmph.

Anyway, she left you this link for today:

The Periodic Table of Awesoments

Like the periodic table of elements, only awesomer.

Beth especially likes awesoments #4, #36,  #47, #58 and #113. Although not necessarily all at the same time.

1Unless, of course, you are reading this from somewhere other than Canada.



She’s on a plane heading to Mexico.  She’ll think about you while she’s laying on the beach.

She left this link to a podcast that you can listen to while she’s gone.  It’s a WNYC Radiolab show about sperm. She especially liked the part about the sugar room in the fallopian tube. That was not something she knew about prior to listening to that podcast.



Vancouver doesn’t really get that much snow for a Canadian city.  And even when it does snow, it usually doesn’t usually stick around for very long.  But after last Saturday’s storm, we had another storm on Wednesday and then it snowed pretty consistently all day today.  Enough that our hockey game was canceled because no one could get to the rink!  So it seems that the people of Vancouver will be enjoying a white Christmas this year.

Where I Am Right Now:

Snow in Vancouver by Mark Busse.A snowy night in Vancouver by tyfn.

Photo credit: Mark Busse on Flickr and tyfn on Flickr, respectively.

I, however, will be winging my way southward in about 8 hours.  Mercifully, the snow has stopped falling, so this should give them enough time to clear the runways, yes?

Where I’m Heading:

Pool View in Los Cabos by paultwo.

Photo credit: paultwo on Flickr.

I’ll think of you all while I’m soaking up the rays on the beach for the next week.

Also, thanks to everyone who sent emails/comments/IMs/Facebook message about the passing of my Granny. The kind words are very much appreciated.



“It’s as clean as a button”1.

“She’s so tired that her head could pop off!”

“Mommy says a lot of bad words.”  To which my dad asked, “Does Aunt Beth say bad words?” To which my niece replied, “No. Only your other daughter.”

And my personal favourite was this conversation that we had while she was painting and I was uploading pictures to Flickr:

“Lugubrious,” she said, pretty much out of nowhere.

“What’s that mean?” I said, thinking that it was a word she’d made up, sort of like the name Sposheila2.

She looked at me very seriously: “Lugubrious3 means miserable. My teacher taught me that.”

1Apparently she likes to attempt similies, but doesn’t always get them quite right. My sister tells me that one day she walked into the living room, which had just been cleaned and said, “This living room is as clean as a horse in a living room!”
2Her toys are often named Sposheila. Or Sholo.
3Pretty much everyone I’ve told this story too has said, “Lugubrious is not a word.” But it is. I looked it up.
2I love that “miserable” is the word she uses to dumb down the other word to explain it to people. Because “miserable” is a pretty big word in itself. Especially when she could just say “sad.”



{November 20, 2008}   Why I Need This Vacation

I promised that I’d snap a picture of my copy of the grant application that I just submitted. Because I knew you’d never believe me about its ridiculous size.  That is me with just one copy of the grant application1.  We had to submit the original, plus five copies.

Ostensibly, that’s a 13 page proposal.  However, 21 CVs, 15 publications, 3 appendices and many, many pages of administrative stuff added to those 13 pages result in the behemoth you see in the pic.

So, yeah, after months of work on that, I feel I’ve really deserved the few vacation days I’m taking to go to visit my family and to celebrate my neice’s 4th birthday. I’m still not done my marking, but I figure that’s what five hour plane rides are for, right?

Update: I added up the pages, plus all the photocopies, and the grand total what I sent in was 4962 pages. Wow.

1Dr. Beth inserted into photo with grant application to give you a frame of reference to judge size.



{October 17, 2008}   Oink!

Plane tickets have recently turned mega-cheap, so my sister booked a flight for me to go to T.O. for my niece’s birthday weekend in November.  Madeline is turning 4 when, apparently, she is going to be a big girl.  And have a pig-themed party.  So excited!



While waiting for *4 hours*1 for my flight home from SFO yesterday, during which I was (a) Twittering with another BlogHer attendee who was also stuck at SFO, (b) talking on Skype, and (c) being looked at like I was crazy because I was talking loudly to my computer, I was also checking out whether I would have a good seat on the plane, should I ever actually get on the plane, using Seat Guru. Seat Guru provides you with all kinds of useful tidbits about your particular seat on any given plane, including:

  • Detailed seat map graphics.
  • In-depth seat specific comments denoting seats with limited recline, reduced legroom, mis-aligned windows.
  • Color-coding to help identify superior and substandard seats.
  • In-seat power port locations.
  • Galley, lavatory, Exit Row and closet locations.

The Guru informed me that my seat was neither particular good, nor particularly bad, that I would have a personal TV screen and an in-seat power port. However, I have to say that there was some false advertising with respect to the in-flight amenities:

My seat did not, in fact, come with an infant.

1It was delayed 2 hrsa, but I was already there well in advance of my flight, because you never know how long it will take to get through security.
aFirst it was delayed due to weather, then it was further delayed because the “front flap” on the plane “wasn’t working.”



{July 20, 2008}  

As you know, I was the BlogHer’08 Official Correspondent for Miss604.com and so I thought you might like to see the stuff I wrote over there:

I have to head to the airport now.  I’ll miss San Fran, but I’m always happy to go home to Vancouver!



et cetera