Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas With A Certain Airline

_____ in Crisis Mode AGAIN Sent to FA's in SFO (IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR THE HOLIDAYS) IMPORTANT NOTE: The Solidarity Page is growing big - let me know if you want your name included. Hi SFO,(San Francisco) ____ is in scheduling crisis mode, AGAIN. There have been many reports of Flight attendants having extra flights and/or extra days of flying tacked onto their trips. There have been flights returning to a base being greeted by a FA Manager with a schedule holder being handed a pattern for the following day. There are reserves being flown into their Planned Days Off and Guaranteed Days Off. It is not pretty. SFO is officially out of reserves. We realize that it is stressful and we are angry as well. If you call in sick, regardless of how many sick calls you have and regardless of whether you have a "pattern" of sick calls over past holiday seasons, you will most likely be ordered to produce a doctor's note. The MEC is already filing a grievance and we will be looking at individual cases as well. We realize that this doesn't help now. Association of Flight Attendants does not condone or support any FA calling in sick if they are not actually sick. Any type of "sick out" is illegal and anyone found encouraging sick calls will most likely face termination. If you are given a trip that you believe is illegal or violates the Terms and Conditions of Employment (TCE) be sure to ask for a review of crew orders. Be calm and remember you are on a taped line. A trip refusal will most likely end up with you being withheld from service pending a Q and A. There is a Scheduling Hotline with FA volunteers from the MEC/LEC as well as many MEC Committee Chairs and the Scheduling Task Force. They are there to review the TCE language and duty day limitations. The hotline number is 1-_______________. Kate and I will be checking voicemail throughout the weekend and on Christmas and returning calls as soon as possible. REMEMBER to BE CAREFUL WHEN ANSWERING YOUR PHONE. There have been unconfirmed reports that when Scheduling has called people recently, the caller i.d. did not reflect a ___ area code. ALSO, if you log into ACCESS and there is a 'NOTIFY' on your line, you are obligated to take that trip. If you still have the white book (TCE) carry it with you. You can also access it at _______________________________________ Despite the circumstances, Kate and I wish you a happy and safe holiday season. Tom and Kate

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Hating The Phone

Interesting fact I've noticed about myself...If someone (other than my boyfriend) calls me on the phone, I'll screen the call. Unless it's an emergency, I probably won't return the phone call...I'll respond via e-mail or snailmail. I just HATE the phone. I hate sitting there and trying to pull conversation out of thin air whereas sitting down to write (or type) feels a lot more natural to me. Which is probably why I won't be owning a cellphone any time soon. Just HATE it... Christmas week begins...along with a whole TON of flying. Suck it up and DEAL with it...Take along a ton of reading material and pack heavy on the clothes so I can be as self-sufficient as possible... GaP

Monday, December 18, 2006

Man, You Are A Writer

Received this in an e-mail this morning... Hi G--, Thanks for your card and interesting blog link Man you are an writer ! nice to read some parts of your life and see some pictures... Writing has always been a passion of mine...but in the form of letters...or sporadic journaling. I've written the rough draft to a nove about ten years ago and I can TELL you, it is WORK. But when the words and plots flow, it's all worth it. If writing were pure, without the crushing grind of query letters, agent-representation, continual rewrites, and editing, then I would be more interested and passionate about it. But WHY shouldn't I write? I guess I would need some kind of structure and passion...the same kind that letter-writing offers. I see great stories in shows like LOST, DEADWOOD...and they make it look EASY. I know these are shows and situations created by committee...but damn, they spin a TALE... Came across a writer called Natalie Goldberg, author of WRITING DOWN THE BONES and she is the closest I've come to writing SOMETHING on a regular basis... So Maybe if I write, the path will be revealed to me? GaP

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Religion Is Stupid II

See here's the thing...If money, time, and manpower hadn't been a consideration, as the SEA-TAC airport manager, I would have put up a menorah along with the Christmas trees(which by the way, are not Christian symbols but are of pagan origin). I would have also put up the crescent moon and star for Ramadan, and I would have looked up the accountrements for Diwali and Kwanzaa as well and would have added THEM to the whole sideshow. Oh, and a pentagram for Wiccans as well...there's enough of them around... Basically that would have been my not-so-subtle message that all but screamed: HAPPY FUCKING HOLIDAYS! EVERYONE HAPPY NOW? ANYBODY ELSE WANT TO TRY A LAWSUIT? I'm sorry, but controversies like this make me laugh. Whether public representations of everyone's faith-based fairy-tale fetishes should be displayed and the fact that court-time is actually devoted to this shit. It would be like arguing about whether Captain Kirk could outgun Picard...or something equally as inane. Now before you think me some godless heretic, let me make one thing VERY clear...I'm not exactly sure what my beliefs are, whether Jesus was actually the Messiah, whether Mohammed actually existed, or if there's even a God up there. All I know is that I don't get worked up about the ridiculous seperation of church and state hysteria that surrounds these stories. The ACLU, who just may be every right-winger's nightmare, had NOTHING to do with this. That's the thing to remember. But I digress... Fact is, I'm ALL about the seperation of church and state...but I LIKE Christmas. I like the idea of Christmas. Or whatever you want to call it. It speaks to a human need to TRY and extend a bit of warmth and generosity out into the world, to TRY and be a better person in general rather just another selfish, mindless cog in the commercial, materially-obssessed military-industrial complex we call SOCIETY. The season encourages us to LOVE a bit more, drop the cynicism a bit, open UP a little...renew acquaintances with friends and family. (It SURE as hell doesn't include ripping your hair out in a shopping mall trying to fill someone's gift-list...) THAT's what the quote-unquote Holidays are supposed to be about. Not this MY-belief-is-better-than-YOUR-belief crap. So Merry Christmas. Or whatever. Forget the lawsuits, sink some eggnog. Shalom. GaP

Religion Is Stupid...

...And this is WHY: _____________________________________________________________________ SeaTac Christmas Tree Removal, Talk Radio THANKS, SEATTLE! After Airport Tree Removal, Talk Gains Momentum Newly armed with additional evidence that the secular War On Christmas is in fact real, talk show hosts across the country zoomed in on an incident that occurred over the weekend at SeaTac Airport in Washington State. From Rush Limbaugh to Boston's Howie Carr and others from one coast to another, talkers jumped on the issue right out of the gate today. In case you've been living under a rock, you should know that the Port of Seattle abruptly removed a number of "holiday trees" in view at the airport after a rabbi demanded that a giant menorah be added to the display. Instead of granting his wish, port officials yanked every last holiday symbol from the concourses. Adding to the confusion is the fact that Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky, the man who lodged the original complaint, seems now to have changed his stance somewhat, saying that taking down the trees was unnecessary. That seems to differ a bit from his previous threats of legal action. It should be noted that Bogomilsky is associated with a Jewish religious foundation based in Seattle's ultra- radical University District. From KING- 5 TV, here's the latest on the flap: SEATAC, Wash. - All nine Christmas trees have been removed from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport instead of adding a giant Jewish menorah to the holiday display as a rabbi had requested. Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky, who made his request weeks ago, said he was appalled by the decision. "Everyone should have their spirit of the holiday. For many people the trees are the spirit of the holidays, and adding a menorah adds light to the season," said Bogomilsky, who works at Chabad Lubavitch, a Jewish education foundation headquartered in Seattle's University District. After consulting with lawyers, port staff believed that adding the menorah would have required adding symbols for other religions and cultures in the Northwest. The holidays are the busiest season at the airport, Betancourt said, and staff didn't have time to play cultural anthropologists. Maintenance workers boxed up the trees during the graveyard shift early Saturday, when airport bosses believed few people would notice. "We decided to take the trees down because we didn't want to be exclusive," said airport spokeswoman Terri-Ann Betancourt. "We're trying to be thoughtful and respectful, and will review policies after the first of the year." More than just underscoring the real truth behind the ongoing effort to wipe out every last sign of Christmas from public view, it shines a rare national spotlight on the politics of extremism that have enveloped the Seattle area. Now, with a growing national backlast against the port's ill- considered move, it will be interesting to see if the airport relents and returns the trees to their previous public positions _____________________________________________________________________________ Christmas trees are going back up at Sea-Tac airport By Janet I. Tu and Lornet Turnbull Seattle Times staff reporters Related Text of the Port of Seattle news release Airport's trees stoking "war on Christmas" The holiday trees that went away in the middle of the night are back. Tonight, Port of Seattle staff began putting up the trees they had taken down Friday night after a local rabbi requested that a Hanukkah menorah also be displayed. Port officials said the rabbi's lawyer had threatened to imminently file a lawsuit, leaving them with insufficient time to consider all the issues. A nationwide furor erupted over the weekend as news of the trees' removal spread, with a flood of calls to Port officials and harshly worded e-mails to Jewish organizations. Today, Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky said he would not file a lawsuit and the Port, in response, said it would put the trees back up. "This has been an unfortunate situation for all of us in Seattle," Port of Seattle Commission President Pat Davis said in a statement. "The rabbi never asked us to remove the trees; it was the Port's decision based on what we knew at the time. We very much appreciate the rabbi's willingness to work with us as we move forward." A menorah will not be displayed this year. Port spokesman Bob Parker said "we look forward to sitting down after the first of the year with not only Rabbi Bogomilsky but others as well, and finding ways to make sure there's an appropriate winter holiday representation for all faiths. We want to find out a way to celebrate the winter holidays that is sensitive to all faiths." Bogomilsky, who works with Chabad-Lubavitch, an Orthodox Jewish outreach organization, said, "Like people from all cultures and religions, we're thrilled the trees are going back up." But he said he was disappointed that Port officials chose not to put up the menorah as well, pointing out there are still several days until the start of Hannukah. "I still hope that they'll consider putting the menorah up this year. But ultimately it's their decision." He also said he hopes the Port will apologize for mischaracterizations that led people to believe he was against having the trees displayed. "At the end of the day it's not about trees, but adding light to the holiday, not diminishing any light." At the airport tonight, Matt Bachleda of Snohomish was playing cards while waiting for his daughter to arrive from Paris. He was surprised to see Port staff putting a tree back up in the baggage claim area. "It looks like Christmas is back," he said. The reaction to the trees' removal had been swift and vociferous. News outlets nationwide picked up the story. "There's been such an outcry from the public — from people of all faiths — who believe that the trees should be reinstalled," Davis said. "I'm very thankful that we can return the trees and get back to running our airport during this very busy holiday season." Port Commissioner John Creighton said he had been swamped with e-mails, 99.9 percent of which supported putting the trees put back up. "I'm overjoyed as to the resolution," Creighton said. "I'm very happy we were able to reach an agreement that was acceptable to the rabbi and to us." Creighton said he personally would've preferred the airport also put up a menorah this year. But "there's a fair amount of sensitvity at the airport. Whatever we do, we do after putting some thought into it." The situation began rather quietly back in late October or early November when Mitchell Stein, a construction consultant for the Port, contacted a Port staffer saying he'd like to put up a large menorah near the Christmas tree at the international arrival hall. Stein, who is Jewish and is friends with Bogomilsky, said he thought it would be a "great opportunity for the Port to show their joy and commitment to diversity." Over the next several weeks, though, he said, he was referred to several different people on staff, who told him different things about whether a menorah would be allowed. Stein said Harvey Grad, the rabbi's attorney, contacted the Port last week and sent officials there a legal brief as a way of spurring action, given that Hanukkah was coming up, and to let the Port know the legal precedents involved in the issue. It was not intended to be threatening, Stein said. When Port commissioners "told us just before Shabbat that they were taking down all the Christmas trees, we were totally aghast." But some Port commissioners said they first heard about a threatened lawsuit Thursday. "From what we were made to understand, if we didn't accede to the group's demands," they would file a lawsuit by the next day, Creighton said. "At the time, it seemed to be a reasonable solution to remove the Christmas trees." Not only the Port, but local Jewish organizations, felt the consequences of that decision. Robert Jacobs, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said about 14 organizations or rabbis had reported receiving hate e-mail. On Monday, his organization was advising local Jewish institutions that have received significant numbers of hate e-mails to consider having security during Hannukah and other holiday season events. This is not the first public clash over the traditional symbols of Christmas. For years, judges — including those of the U.S. Supreme Court — have been sorting out disputes over how nativity scenes and Christmas trees can be displayed in the lobbies of public buildings, in downtown plazas and in parks. The furor has been building for years. Last month, the Alliance Defense Fund, a religion-based legal aid group in Arizona, announced it had lined up an army of attorneys who were prepared to defend the tradition of Christmas in schools and on public property. "Frankly, it's ridiculous that Americans have to think twice about whether it's okay to say 'Merry Christmas,'" the group's president Alan Sears said. Federal law prohibits government entities from endorsing any religious symbols, proselytizing for religion or preferring any one religion over another, said John Strait, an associate professor of law at Seattle University. He said the Christmas holiday has become so secular that many symbols associated with it, such as the Christmas tree, have simply become symbols of the holiday. But legal debates rage over just how religious some symbols, such as the nativity scene, actually are. Strait said the menorah has achieved about the same religious status as a nativity scene. Stewart Jay, a law professor at the University of Washington, admits that the rules aren't always so clear. A holiday display, he said, is allowed as long as it mixes several holiday symbols and traditions. The Port of Seattle, Strait and Jay agree, could have allowed the menorah along with its Christmas tree in such a way that it would not have been an endorsement of religion. "And that would have been the end of it," Strait said. In fact, the Christmas trees on their own might have been problematic, Jay said. Adding a menorahmight have given the Port some legal cover. Across Washington, holiday displays and celebrations reflect the diversity of ways public and private bodies have found to recognize the holidays. Each year — for many years — Seattle City Hall has featured a Christmas tree, menorah and Kwanzaa display, the mayor's spokeswoman, Marianne Bichsel said. "We want to make sure that however people choose to celebrate this time of year, that it is honored," she said. In many school districts across the state, including Seattle and Bellevue, any holiday program or decorations must be tied to curriculum, officials there said. The city of Redmond celebrates the season with displays of evergreen branches with white lights, poinsettias and wreathes inside City Hall. Outside, an evergreen tree, part of the city's landscaping, is decorated with multi-colored lights. King County opts for "giving trees" in the lobby of the court house and the county administrative building. The trees include the names and gift wishes of people in need during the holiday, spokeswoman Carolyn Dunkin said. Last year, a Catholic lawmaker from Spokane and his supporters stirred up a hornets' nest when they sang Christmas carols in front of the giant holiday tree that dominates the Capitol rotunda in Olympia. Rep. John Ahern, a Republican, said the Washington-grown fir is a holiday tree, not a Christmas tree. Next week, following a lighting ceremony, a menorah will accompany that tree in the rotunda, said Steve Valandra spokesman for department of general administration, which oversees the capitol grounds. Staff writer Jennifer Sullivan contributed to this report. Janet Tu: 206-464-7727 or; Lornet Turnbull: 206-464-2420 or

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Proud Captain

Hi Jackson & GaP, Your e-mail is a catalyst. It sparked some thought on how I see the role of an airline captain vis-a-vis captains of ocean ships. Like you, Jackson, I've read and re-read O'Brian's Master & Commander series, about Aubrey, along with the stories of Hornblower, Ramage and Bililtho. I love them! I've also been a fan of Star Trek. My favorite Star Fleet captain is Picard ... now there's a man with great CRM. Recently I read the autobiography of Capt. Harry Grattidge, late commander of both Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth (number 1 of both series, the "WWII Cunarders"). Grattidge once again reminded me of the parallels between sea captains and airline captains. By Grattidge's time were long gone the days of flogging, with ships months away from government or corporate control and with cultures having no regard for human life or liberty. Grattidge was the appointed master of his vessels. Among his responsibilities was making sure the rules of the sea and Cunard were strictly carried out. He could not wield personal whim. To do so would be to his professional peril. So the "master" was actually a servant. And so he is today. One of Grattidge's stories stuck with me: On one of his weekly inspections aboard Queen Mary, Grattidge found a pile of unwashed linens under a dining room table. He said, "I didn't have to rant or rave. I just held the light of my torch (flashlight) on the dirty linen for just a moment or two longer than I would have normally. I didn't have to turn and stare at the man responsible or his officer. I did not have to speak. I could see out the corner of their eye that they knew that I now knew." He didn't flog anybody. He didn't even have to say anything. He didn't yell, "Take that man's name" or "Lash him to the grate!" "On the next week's inspection," he said. "That dining room was perfect." He spoke of the calm, quiet approach and how it is important to exercise discipline while preserving a crewmember's dignity ... CRM. Unlike the days of Bligh and Cook, when flogging, hanging & keel hauling were common, our style is more subdued. But the responsibility and charge remains the same; the safe and efficient operation of the vessel. So it is with airline captains. The "ultimate authority" is the caretaker and coordinator of a myriad set of rules, customs, over-lapping responsibilities and authorities ... he must step a careful dance all the while knowing that the final decision and responsibility for keeping all safe and orderly rests squarely with him. We often hear in the cockpit, "They've taken away all our authority." That is simply not true. We operate in a complex array of overlaps. Often there are forces that would like to eliminate a captain's "ultimate authority." But all the authority goes right through the captain's seat. He ultimately says yes or no to the operation on the aircraft. He can refuse to move or he can declare an emergency at any time. There are many examples in the O'Brian books where Aubrey comes up against the Admiralty. Sometimes he must bend to its will in his execution of duty. Sometimes he fights the Admiralty and wins. He is the ultimate authority on his ship ... but he always remembers he serves at the pleasure of the Admiralty. The First Lord can fire him at any time! He is the custodian of official rules, laws and orders. So he'd better be damn careful! To break rule or custom in furtherance of personal whim would be done at his own peril! Can you imagine what it would really be like to have Capt. Picard's job on board Enterprise? Star Fleet would permanently have a dispatcher, Mayo doctor and even Doug Steenland holographically staffing the bridge! Even so, Picard would still be captain ... the ultimate authority (that is, unless Star Fleet decides that a vessel in the stellar void is best commanded by a committee ... and then God help them!). It has long been my feeling that captains (be they on the sea, in the air or in space) who don't understand the age old traditions and laws of navigating away from land, and either try to wield personal power or feel that "they've taken away all my authority" should, in fact, show the maritime signal "red over red, captain is dead," for in many ways that vessel is truly "not under command." A captain must command and accept the responsibility of his command. Sometime his vested authority requires the commander to explain and justify himself. How many times did we read of Capt. Jack Aubrey doing a "carpet waltz" in the office of an admiral or First Lord? Have "they" taken away my authority? Are airline captains captains in name only. Are they nothing more than airplane drivers. They'd better not be because a vessel needs a captain! I may choose, however, to not exercise my lawful and responsible authority. In doing so I would have abdicated. Best complete the abdication, retire, and leave the job of commanding to someone else. There's a big difference between being a pilot and being a captain (see Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain). A modern airliner has two pilots; skilled airmen, systems experts & navigators. But a ship in the air also requires a captain. On an airliner the commander is Pilot and Captain. That's not unlike the old Master and Commander (Keep in mind that larger ships in Aubrey's time had a captain and a seperate sailing master, a warrant officer posting. Smaller ships, like the fictitious Aubrey's brig Sophie, didn't rate a sailing master, so the captain served a dual role ... (Sailing) Master and Commander (Captain). There's a good article about a ship's master at I doubt that the "hell fire and brimstone" Captain Ahab types were very common at any time in history. One of the best attributes a captain can have is humility. It seems to me that a quiet, respectful command presence is the best kind. Thanks, gents, for giving me a chance to think about this stuff and get my thoughts on "paper." Best regards, Russ. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Russ...Wow. Just Wow. Just did my second trip as lead and I made very sure that the Captain and his Officer had everything they needed, felt welcome, and I made it a point to tell them that I take the meal-cart barrier-rule VERY seriously. I know Spokane isn't exactly a terrorist target, for example, but I'm letting any potential troublemakers out in the cabin know that I'm not screwing around nor taking any chances...Call me overcautious...and I'll say "Thank you..." Hope you're well...Do you have an address I can send a Christmas package to?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Taking The Lead

On my last trip, I got the LEAD position. In the airline that I work for, EVERYTHING works in seniority order...When you bid for work-positions on a flight, you go right down the ladder...If the senior person doesn't want the LEAD position on a domestic trip, the position goes down the line until it hits the most junior person...That means they work up front in First Class, board the plane, make the announcements...basically, I have the illusion of power. I'm also the lead communicator to the pilots up front. They can't come out unless I put up a meal cart in the way to hinder any attack attempts. SO...I don't usually like any leadership role but this one helped my confidence quite a bit. I learned that the secret to being Lead is to a)Be Organized, b)Exercise a bit of up a couple extra bottles of wine for avoid a time-sucking mad-scramble later...and c)Not to be overly concerned about being perfect. If you forget something or let something slide, Oh, WELL...shit happens to us humans, I guess... The whole experience helped to focus my confidence and motivation...Gave me some much-needed self-confidence...The ability to say "I can DO this..." Luckily, I didn't have any Unaccompanied Minors or Wheelchair passengers in the mix...but you see just how many cutbacks have taken place in the airline when you see how things are being done out in the domestic system...Some of the outsourced agaents don't know exactly what they're doing, everyone is understaffed and overworked...the caterers and the cleaners, especially...I think the most harried I've ever been. You have the caterers coming in one door while the passengers are boarding through the opposite door...My colleague and I trying to hang up First Class coats...forget about drink predeparture drink-orders...THEY're not happening in THAT mad rush... The worst was the boarding the Boston bound-flight...This flight is usually filled with what we cheerfully call "Beacon Hill Bastards"...all of the well-heeled lawyers and businessmen coming home from a grueling day of wheeling, dealing and hob-knobbing with America's Upper-Crust boardroom, Forbes-reading Millionaire contingent...Naturally, First Class was full and thankfully devoid of that BHB attitude...The luggage-quotient was ridiculous but I refused to get harried. When it came time to send rollerboard-luggage down into the cargo-hold, I did it with a business-like, matter-of-fact demeanor. No one gave me any grief but I was ready for it with a no-bullshit attitude. I don't care if these people earn ten times more than I do, how better they think they are...they were in MY arena now. The whole experience of serving drinks and dinner up in First Class reinforced the need to comport one's self in a dignified manner. I was dealing with Upper-crust people...I was going to have some class and respect...but I wasn't going to take any garbage, either. Seemed to work out okay. Complimented this renaissance man with a bow-tie, horn-rimmed glasses, and old-style briefcase on his gentlemanly demeanor... he RADIATED gentleman...and I that's something I respect. So I survived the lead experience, made a LITTLE BIT of extra money, and bolstered my confidence...I have to say, though, that domestic travel can be harder on the body than international...early-morning departures, sleeping at the airport, just feeling DAZED. This job AIN'T glamorous. I don't think it EVER was...and it definitely isn't NOW. Fly safe...GaP

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Three Things

Three Things 3 Things that scare me: religious fanatics, gaining weight, looking like an idiot in general... 3 People who make me laugh: William Shatner, Chris Tucker, Jason Miewes(Jay from the Kevin Smith movies...of "Jay and Silent Bob" fame...) 3 Things I love: My boyfriend, his cat, music, and comics...(four things but who cares?) 3 Things I hate: Clueless, high-maintenance parents, society's rabid obssession for material wealth, and F__KING cellphone abuse! 3 Things I do not understand: How humanity has lasted for so long, what the hell a "consultant" is supposed to be and how the title is supposed to bestow instant respect on the person brandishing it, and the appeal behind reality television. 3 Things on my desk: My die-cast DeLorean replica from BACK TO THE FUTURE, miniature DOCTOR STRANGE bust in his classic cast-spelling hand-gesture, and a small replica of a British Telephone Police Box. 3 Things I am doing right now: Drinking a Woodchuck cider, listening to my boyfriend snore, waiting for someone to I.M. me on MSN Messenger.(Nobody's around. It's a dozy Sunday...) 3 Things I want to do before I die: find a purpose/job/niche that makes me happy AND gets the bills paid, do stand up and kick ASS at it, write consistently... 3 Things I can do: Speak French, jog a mile, and write letters(not e-mails) like it is a dying art...which I think it is. Don't care...will still continue to do it... 3 Things I cannot do: focus, motivate myself, and be consistent..with almost ANYTHING... 3 Things you should listen to: Aimee Mann, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Morrissey. 3 Things you should never listen to: FOX NEWS, Celine Dion, and just about anyone from American Idol or similar "get-famous-quick" reality-television talent shows...anyone remember "Star Search"?...blech... 3 Things I would like to learn: tie a bow-tie, build a bookshelf, be friendlier and more open with people... 3 Favorite foods: bagels, anything hot and Mexican, chicken. 3 Beverages I drink regularly: coffee, cider, wine. 3 Shows I watched as a kid: Land Of The Lost, The Incredible Hulk, and The Six Million Dollar Man

Christmas Mania...

Salut, Doc... Messing with this current version of Internet Explorer and it falls into the category of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"...But looks like I have everything back to "normal" I may proceed... Now, I don't know how things are in the UK these days regarding the run up to the Christmas season...but HERE, everything is hyper-accelerated. In a way, our THANKSGIVING served the purpose of your Christmas...getting the family together, overeating, watching bad television,reforging family ties, or trying NOT to stir up some family drama... But NOW, it seems like a speed-eating fest that leads us RIGHT to BLACK FRIDAY...supposedly busiest shopping day of the year, heralding the beginning of the Christmas shopping feeding frenzy...You have breathless financial reports on television over that day's sales figures and how the economy is shoring up. Have we all lost our minds? Nah, I think the Golden Calf is pretty much crapping all over us...Now I could go ON about the true meaning of Christmas, Channukah, Kwanzaa, or whatever...but doesn't this seem a little bit NUTS? What people don't realize is that you don't HAVE to buy copious amount of presents...hell, you don't even have to buy presents at ALL...The choice is yours. It's sort of a popularity contest...Who got the most presents...were they "GOOD" enough? Appropriate enough? And most importantly...How much MONEY was sunk into them? You can present someone with a gift ANYTIME...Not just Christmas... (Personally, I would LOVE it if the nation went into this mass hypnotic state in which NOT ONE DAMNED thing was purchased on Black Friday...I won't be greedy and black out the whole month of December...Can you imagine? We'd probably be treated to dire red-alert warnings of another major Depression being imminent...) I won't even go into the stress of running around to fulfill all of these obligations... Needless to say, the only store I'll be going into for the holidays to enhance my OWN music/movie collection...whilst on a budget, of course... So how go the holiday-preps in Glesga and at Chez Lucas? All the best to you, Mike...Miss our blethers at the Uni...