Monday, May 26, 2008

Top 10 things in a paper bag

Some realizations come late for me. Here I am in the store standing in line, biding my time and I get asked the timeless question "paper or plastic". I say plastic, and it hit me. I don't know ANYONE that asks for paper. I don't know anyone that cares. Now I will admit that I haven't taken the time to query everyone as to their bagging preference, but I am going to assume that everyone I know takes plastic.

They say plastic, but It's actually bio degradable cornstarch. I'm pretty sure that most people don't care about that either.

So what happened to the once vaunted paper bag? The bag that used to do it all for everyone, the elevated expression of recycling. This is my tribute to the paper bag. These are the Top 10 things you would find in a paper bag.

10. Screws - In my garage, I have a bag of sheetrock screws that try really hard to puncture the bag and cause trouble. If that bag were PLASTIC it would have given up the ghost a long time ago, but paper retains it's integrity longer after being compromised.

9. a Hand - I remember using the smaller paper bags to make those goofy hand pupets with block heads. you could even cut a hole in the bag to make it seem like your creations could actually eat. In fact as I think about it now, I'm sure there is a re-enactment of Star Wars somewhere done in paper bag puppets.

8. Ripple - Or the ultra cheap adult beverege of your choice. You could go with Thunderbird as well, or maybe a lovely concoction of your own design. The point is, you keep it in the brown paper bag so you can just carry around the bag and drink out of it like a precursor to the juice box.

7. The Unknown Comic - This guy was a semi-funny regular on the Gong show. His head was to be ever shrouded in the identity concealing confines of a paper bag. His bit would just not be the same in a corn starch plastic bag.

6. Groceries - of course. Time was that all groceries were found in the paper bag, which was more of a flimsy box than it was a useful carrying device. This might have been a reason for it's demise in the market place. Plastic has the handy handles. Paper, you gotta heft it from the bottom. The ironic thing is that for years careful baggers would put your ice cream and your fresh produce in plastic bags before they put it in the paper bag because the paper bag's mortal enemy was moisture! It didn't take much to turn this once sturdy carrying device into a handful of pulp. So I guess they thought it would be best to cut out the middle man and use plastic bags because they were using them already.

5. Newspapers - I don't know about you, but in my house growing up, all the newspapers would go into paper bags and await the eventual troop of Boyscouts to come pick them all up and cash them in for a dollar a ton or something like that. Sure you could use twine and tie up bundles of newsprint, but we used paper bags.

4. a Cat - Back in the day, our cat would immediately find her way into the paper bag that always tended to make a box shaped tunnel that was semi closed in the front but had a sturdy back wall when laying on it's side. She could not resist. From her paper lair, she would slowly peer out and assess her quarry until it was STRIKE!

3. Garbage - The paper bag was the original form of recycling. When you were done taking your groceries home, you would stack up the paper bags and use them one by one in your medium size garbage cans. Obviously best for DRY garbage, it was still very useful for holding refuse of all sorts. But now our garbage cans have also opted for plastic. *sigh*

2. Bananas - There might be some hope for the paper bag yet. The problem was this. If you had green bananas out with your other fruit, everything else would go bad, while the bananas came of age. This was because of some gas that the banana emits as it ripens. A few other fruits do this as well. Paper Bag to the rescue!!! lets good air in but doesn't let bad gas out. Maybe they should make underwear out of paper bags.

1. Presents - My mom was a crafty lady growing up. She realized that my interest in Christmas presents would be more than I could conceal. To thwart this, she pre-wrapped the presents in paper bags and THEN in colorful wrapping rendering the contents virtually invisible to prying eyes...BLAST!!! FOILED AGAIN...say foil, that could be another blog...

Ahh paper bag, we hardly knew ye.

Till Next time...Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Top 10 Reasons NOT to fly Standby

Recently I had the opportunity to fly to Finland and back on my wifes special pass tickets that the airline makes available to you for working for them. I'm not going to say which airline, and I'm not going to say how much things cost etc. That's their business and I'm not in that business. The following reasons are just the technical red tape you will have to go through in order to get to your destination. Please, I'm doing this as a humorous aside, not a gripe. In general the flight benefit is wonderful as long as you understand...

10. The plane turns into a bus - Sure it's obvious, but it's true. That confirmed seat you have on the plane is now a bus ticket that is only valid if they have a seat for you. People that need control should not travel this way because your route will change as the available seats do.

9. You NEVER get the aisle seat - Unless that plane has no people on it, you will ALWAYS get the middle seat usually between the fat lady that has yet to sing and the gentleman with the enlarged prostate sitting in the window seat.

8. There is always someone more 'senior' than you - If you have been in the airline industry for 25+ years this doesn't apply. Many airlines determine extra seating availability by seniority within the company. So if you have a pass on a plane and the person next to you has a pass and he has also worked for the airline for 2 months more than you, he automatically gets preference in the list. Of course it's not that simple but it is how it is. The funny thing about this is the company thinks they are saying 'Thank you for your loyalty' to the long-suffering employee with seniority. Really they are saying 'We don't like you nearly as much as we like them' to the employee that just started using their vacation passes. Personally, I think they should determine flight order by who is wearing the fanciest hat.

7. The more you got, the harder it is - If you are traveling with family, this whole process just got a lot harder. You don't want to separate from your family. If you are not traveling with the employee, you get a lowered preference and are less likely to get on any given flight so you don't want to split up. Also, if you separate, your likelihood of getting some of your party stranded at an airport just went up a lot. So now you don't just need your seat, you need ALL your seats. This gets to be extraordinarily difficult and adds to the stress and everything else.

6. Everybody else thinks you can fly for free - Even when it's free, it's not free. You don't pick your flight, your flight picks you. If you have particularly cheap friends, they might want you to 'equalize' your flight benefit with everyone else to go to a destination. Oh your so lucky, you get to fly for free. Yes, it is a benefit, but it is a dwindling one. Not only is it not free, but you have to pay taxes levied in many locations immediately. If you are not prepared for this, you could find yourself cash poor for your 'free' flying. The only reason this is a part of the list is because when it catches you by surprise it will leave a bad taste in your mouth.

5. Where's the Seats?! - This is more a problem with the benefit of free flight and the whole flight benefit model. Back in the 80's, Airlines routinely purchased flight legs that had few travelers on it in order to force competition and add to exposure. These days, The seats themselves have become more and more cramped, and airlines are flying much more lean legs. They take away flights and are reluctant to add them. Where there were 3 flights to a location, there will be 2 with smaller planes. This might be good for the company, but it's no good for the employee.

4. Dress up time! - If you are going to try to fly first class (why not? It's free ;) ). You can do so, BUT you have to dress up in slacks and a button down shirt etc. They don't want just any rabble flying first class. Of course if you pay those outrageous ticket prices for first class, you can dress in a tank top and cut offs and they will still give you exceptional service. So next time you go through first class on the way to your cattle car seating, look at the dress code. The people dressed up to fly are probably doing it at a DEEEP discount. This is actually a pretty small price to pay for flying first class as long as everything else goes well, which it won't but man oh man, when you are in those seats enjoying real food...mmmm

3. Employee services are likely quite a walk from your flight - This is only really annoying if you have dressed up for First class and you are going to have to walk all over the airport to get your next leg ticket because the flight you thought was going to be good ended up filling up so you need a different out. Many times in the course of flying, you will have to fly on a 'code-share' airline. this means that they have an agreement with your company to sell you a cheap ticket. This comes out of your company. So if you are at one code-share airline and you need to get to another, you must buy a different code share ticket. This means walking all the way to the employee services and back to your next gate. If they don't happen to share the terminal you are in, then you are in for a journey. This is easily remedied by buying lots of code share tickets for all of your contingencies. After all, you're flying for free right?

2. lemme check the flights - When you buy a regular airline ticket weather online or from an agent, you look at your options, and you buy your ticket. Now your time is yours. You can worry about all the other aspects of your trip. When you are standby, you must check not only your flight, but all of your connecting flights because your plans change all the time. So if you add the cost of constantly checking the computer for your flight availability, it gets to be a little more expensive.

1. Until you are on the plane and flying away, you are not on the plane - I've seen this happen. People with standby tickets are boarded on the plane and then someone with more seniority or someone with a paid ticket comes in late and kicks you out of your chair. Until that door is closed, you don't really have a seat, you just have high hopes.

Don't get me wrong, flying stand by is a great way to get places for very cheap or possibly free. And I've certainly used more than my fair share of that benefit and I greatly appreciate it, but before you sink a few years into an airline career, just consider the above. It's at it's best flying one leg flights alone. After that, it starts getting dicey.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Top 10 political phrases

To use an overly used phrase: Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that it's politics season. It's time to listen to a few of the most ambitious "A" type personalities that you can imagine try to pretend that they are just like you and me. They are of course nothing of the sort.

Allow me to profile the average politician. As I said before..."A" type personality. Control freak. Drama Queen. Personable. Liar. Cheerleader. I could go on, but you get the picture. Big fat phony baloney windbags. Of course now we have a few politicians that look different, but they won't be different. The reason is because of what they have to do in order to ascend to the presidency. They have to try to convince the largest part of active voters that they are the right candidate for the job WITHOUT waking up the other voters.

One side of communication is your audience. Unfortunately, if you want to see who the politicians are talking to, you only have to go stand in line at the DMV. Look at the people around you. That is America. One of the scariest realizations you will ever have.

How do you communicate to the masses and make them believe that you are the best person to spend the money in the public treasury? You can't sit down with all of them and get to know them and lie to them individually, you have to lie on a broad scale. This requires quick short 'sound bites' that sound great but commit to very little, OR words that commit to a lot, but are hampered by the surrounding political infrastructure.

Couple this with the fact that you as a politician have been insulated from the public ever since you attained your first public office. So you hire speech writers that you don't pay very much because if you do, they will become insulated from the public experience as well. These speech writers put common phrases that are recognizable to the public in your speech. They make you seem more human than you really are.

Since we know that they aren't human, what is it that they are saying?! Well here ya go...

10. American People - Ex: "We want to promote values that are in line with the American People" What American People really means: The people I'm talking to. I have to keep reminding myself who it is that I'm talking to because I'm not sure anymore. This is a lot like these people that use your name when you are the only one in the room. "Do you hear what I'm saying Mark?" I'm the only guy here jerk. If you think using my name adds emphasis to your message, well, it does, just the wrong emphasis. Now I can't tear myself away from the idea that you are a dill-weed. (P.S. Sleestax RULE).

9. American Values - There really is no end to the flag swinging that goes on in the political debate. Politicians go on and on about 'American Values' Because we all know that those Subversive Canadians don't have our values. How much is the Canadian Dollar worth again? Translation: Values of whatever you want to vote for, whatever that is.

8. Get this country back on track - This one is especially funny coming from people that have been spending your money in the first place. Why is it that people running for office think the country is a wreck and people in office think it's going great. Get this country back on track?!? What they are really saying is "I hope that when I get in office things go better but I have no clue"

7. Big business needs to take responsibility - Decoded "lets blame people that make money for making it. They had to have done it in a way that was unfair to you so they should be made to pay" I've got mixed feelings about big business. The reason they get into trouble is because they are greedy, but greed is what drives this country. If business were just a little bit nice to their employees, there would be no Unions. If Unions were a little smarter about how they ride business, all the jobs might not be moving to Naftaxico. It's a vicious cycle.

6. I will work closely with Big Business - This is almost the opposite of #7 , and yet both of them can be found in the same speech. This one really means "I've had my palms greased so much by certain companies that they will be slippery for the next 4 years at least"

5. I will work hard with my friends from across the aisle - What a crock. Work hard? the real key to this phrase is the 'friends' word. Of course they are friends, they are all the same. both sides of the aisle get better healthcare and better benefits than any other blue collar employee and most other white collar employees in the country. Work hard with my friends BAH. Translation: When we get together for cocktails paid for by the U.S. Citizen, we'll laugh about what we are getting for what we are doing.

4. I feel your pain - this one is famous, but it's taken so many shapes, it ends up to be this "I'm glad your hurting, because you'll vote for me" Plain and simple. Pain and suffering is the coin of the political realm. If we are fat and happy watching our TV, we won't be motivated to vote.

3. My opponent is a slave to special interests - Special interests are one of the most insideous pieces of our government. Why should we allow foriegn lobbys influence our congress? we do. this has nothing to do with all the local companies that grease the plams of the politically ambitious. Most of them spend lots of porkfat on both sides of the isle. Translation "Vote me in so I can be a slave to those interests". I did get this one from Oh Brother where art thou, and yet, it seems to ring true today.

2. we need to be proud of America again - I hate this one. At it's best it's pandering, and at it's worst, it says that the current opponent would make people ashamed of America. Politicians are a necessary evil in any government. As a result we will have to put up with them. Allow history to judge the politicians for what they did. Not lousy political grandstanders. Translation: If you put me in office, I promise you won't be embarrased of me, as long as I don't get caught.

1. I'm a political outsider! - Then why in the WORLD should we vote for you? This is the dumbest one I've ever heard. It insults a politicians constituency as well as other politicians. I've not seen it work yet. Who would hire a lawyer based on the fact that they were not brought up in the legal system and they are a fresh face in law? Nobody. Translation: I will say whatever it takes to get elected and if there are votes for being a newbie, so be it.

Well, as distastefull as it is, there you have it. Happy polling and I hope our future is really brighter than I'm afraid it is.