Posts Tagged with "travel"

Day 1 – Round 3 – The Frozen Yogurt Adventure

October 26th, 2007 at 10:25 am by Diva
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As if hunting for a smoking area wasn’t fun enough to occupy our 4-hour layover at O’Hare International Airport, mom decided that she needed airport food. Now, it wasn’t that she was hungry. No, this wasn’t the case.

“It’s almost like tradition,” she says beaming that smile of hers.

“Yogurt is somehow a tradition? Do tell,” I ask.

“Not really yogurt, but eating in the airport,” she quips back.

“Oh hell, now I’ve heard it all. That’s like me running right to Manchu Wok for Lo-mein everytime I hit the ground. It ain’t tradition, Mama. It’s a matter of eating from being bored. Pure and simple,” I lecture.

“Well, whatever you want to call it, Missy. I want a frozen yogurt and we’re gonna walk until we find one,” she commands. “Did you see anyplace to get one?”

“I saw a fat guy up by the security check thing, but I think it was ice cream, not yogurt,” I tell her.

“I want fat-free-frozen vanilla yogurt…” she says dreamily thinking about diggin’ in.

Not ice cream. Not chocolate. Not full of fat…. No.

With that I pick up my 50 pound carry-on bag at Gate K-5 and we start walking. We see a sign for frozen yogurt and head that way.

I have to say this should have been an extremely simple and painless task as right there in the “K” terminal are TWO, not just one, but TWO TCBY’s!!! Easy right?

Well, not so much. Off we go…

The lil dude at the first TCBY didn’t have any vanilla, SO, he pointed us to the other food court way the hell down the way at gate K-15.

We get there, and sure enough, TCBY. We walk up smiling, only to see that the lady has the frozen yogurt machine torn down for cleaning. The sparkle immediately left my eyes.

So, we decided to take another walk and ended up in the “L” terminal. Only one TCBY and no vanilla. So we follow back out of “L” and wander over to “G”, only to find out after walking 2.5 miles to get there, that it’s a commuter terminal and they have no TCBY at all. Figures.

Defeated and depressed, we turn around with our heads hung low. The pep in our step was lost long ago as we shuffled along. All of a sudden, my mom happened to see a hidden food court area that we had somehow walked right past at least 3 times.

And in the very bad end of that little hidden jewel sat a TCBY. We walk up, skeptical that anything will come of the visit.

“Vanilla?” Mom asks the girl with that desperate tone in her voice.

“Sure. What size?” The girl says with an angelic smile on her face.

“Large!” Mom says completely satisfied.

It was as if the clouds parted, the heaven’s opened and a choir of angels started to sing Halleluja in unison.

“Want one?” Mom asked me.

“Nope. I wanna bagel.”

Day 1 – Round 2 – Chicago’s O’Hare Airport

October 25th, 2007 at 11:38 am by Diva
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Smoking in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport is proving to be quite the challenge.  There are no longer smoking rooms in the airport, a fact I was unaware of.  It is 85 degrees and smoggy as hell outside where they bannish all nicotine addicts to wither away for their sin.

We had just walked off the plane for our long ass lay-over when I decided it was time to fing the smoking area.  Mom decides to walk with me to find a smoking area out of her need to walk and stretch her legs.

After 30 minutes of searching, I just happened upon a friendly airport employee.  We’ll call him Pedro.  Pedro, a kind worker of the facility, not the airlines, said to me “We don’t have smoking rooms anymore. I would encourage you to slip into a stall in the ladies room and smoke(star wars smoking pipes). It should be okay.”  He smiled.

“Um… yah.  Let me tell ya something, buddy,” I said obviously annoyed already. “It is clearly marked all over this God forsaken place that anyone busted puffing a satan stick in the bathroom will be promptly and stiffly fined.  Not to mention that they would most likely imprison me in the bowels of the airport in some make-shift jail until I confess my sin.  Now why would you tell me to do that.”

“I was just trying to help, Miss.  You can always go outside,”  He said, rolling his eyes and walking away.

Yah, I think Pedro gets kickbacks. I can just see him watching me slip into the bathroom.  Eyes crazed with anticipation. It would go something like this:

“This is Pedro.  There’s a crazy white chick with pink Nike shoes and a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt about to enter stall three to light up.”

Needless to say, I decided to go outside for a smoke. Once.

In order to have this simple pleasure, I had to stand outside, 15 feet from any human activity.  This is pretty much in the path of the fumes from the never ending parade of buses and trams. Eh, mixed with the heat and the smog, I decided to deal with it.  It wasn’t so bad.

What prompted me to hold off my intake of required nicotine level until landing in Deutschland tomorrow was the hassle of going through security over and over and over and over.  Once was enough.

I refused to go through having to remove my shoes, waiting in line to pass them and my purse through the x-ray machine.  Putting my shoes back on and walking a mile back to the gate we were assigned to.   Seriously, I’ll pass.  Got any Nicorette?

What ever happened to designated smoking areas in the dang airport?  You know the glass cubicle of death that even though it was ventilated it resemebled the great town of Los Angeles with a smog bank at bay?

Stock Photos

Day One – Round One – TYS Airport

October 25th, 2007 at 11:16 am by Diva
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It was Saturday, October 6th in the year of our Lord 2007. A beautiful and mild day for flying I thought to myself as I peered out the glass door at Tony and the boy loading my two pieces of luggage into the bed of the pick-em-up truck, for people wanting to fly as well to countries as Costa Rica, they can visit to find the best flights for this.

I tried and tried to whittle down the amount of crap I had packed up. Deleting various pairs of shoes and casual clothes by the handful. My Mother swore that she was going to get all of her stuff packed into one reasonably size suitcase the night before when she was packing.  I thought to myself, I’ll be damned if she gets all her shit shoved into one “reasonably sized” bag and I can’t. But I couldn’t and I was at the point of accepting my defeat when we left the house to go pick her up.

As we pulled down the drive way to pick her up, my uncle was helping her roll her reasonably sized bag out of the garage, followed by yet another bag nearly the same size as her reasonably sized bag. Hmmmm. Get ’em hoisted and let’s go. The sunny skies are waiting on us.

We took off to McGee Tyson airport here in beautiful Knoxville (Alcoa), Tennessee. Tony helped up get the bags out of the bed of the truck and almost dropped a nut trying to get her suitcase out.

“A little heavy there, huh?” I asked him, whilst cackling toward her.

“Just a little,” he said, shaking his head that I can be so snide and yet so loving at the same time.

We gave each other some seriously tight hugs and sweet kisses.  He went on and I went in to check in our stuff.

“Name and identification, please,” the robotic sounding lady at the American Airlines counter blurted out.

“Well, ok. Gotta dig it out,” I said as I start shuffling through my carry-on bag looking for my passport.

“Ah. There it is!” I say proudly, as my digging expedition proved I hadn’t forgotten my passport. I lay it on the counter in front of her.

“Very good. Will you be checking any thing through today?” as she peers over the counter at the over stuffed luggage at my feet.

“Mmmm, yah. These two.” I rolled my eyes as I lifted them onto the scale.

“Ok, they are checked all the way through to Frankfurt. Have a nice trip.”

Sweet! Phase one of the objective was complete. Mom’s turn.

“Name and identification, please,” robot lady says to her.

Mom handed her passport over and started lugging her bag up onto the portable truck scales.

“Oh my,” says robot lady. “It appears we have a problem. This first bag is nearly 17 pounds over the limit. You can try to redistribute it, or you can pay the $50.00 over weight limit fee.” (Have photographic proof of over packing, blurry, but still evidence.)

In typical J-Lamb fashion, my mother had over packed for real. And Tony said my bag was way heavier than hers.  Pffftttt.  I wasn’t the one sitting in front of the check in counter redistributing 67 pounds of crap to meet the American Airlines approved weight limit for checked baggage. Hahahaha.

“Gonna fit it all into one bag are we?” I say to her as I cackle a little more at her packing misadventure.

She shoots me the most evil of all evil looks and says, “I can fix it.”

She unzips the offending suitcase and proceeds to pull out a fat bag of hair products, a Bible, several books.

“Sweet Jesus, Mom!” I gasp in amazement. “How the hell did you get all that in there to begin with?”

“Can you please put some of these in your carry-on and I’ll put the rest of it in my other bag?” she asks, obviously ignoring my sarcasm.

“Yah, yah, yah,” I babble as I shove her books and other random small items into my bag. I decided rather than start her off pissed, I’d shut up and pick another battle later.

There’s nothing better than messing with my Mom. I don’t do it to be mean to her. I just find it to be the most entertaining activity around  sometimes.

“Let’s see if that does it,” she says as she pushes the suitcase back up on the scale.

“Just made it,” robot lady said, actually cracking a smile. “Have a nice trip, Mrs. Lamb,” she said as she handed mom’s boarding pass over the counter.

Mom couldn’t say anything, she just smiled back as we walked toward the secure area.

“Damn, mom,” I said with sincere realization. “I really think I should go chain smoke for a few minutes since it’s gonna really suck once I cross that security line.  I’m not gonna get to smoke for like 298 hours.”

She showed her compassion and said, “Ok. Let’s go outside.”

She sat there in the waiting area while I chain smoked a couple of cigarrettes and got enough of a ciggie buzz to border on a headache.

“Let’s go, Mama,” I said as I walked back up to her.

With that, we were off toward security check point.

“Oh shit!” I whined.

“What now?” She asked me.

“They’re gonna take my lighter. I just bought that lighter!”

“You can buy a new one when we get there,” She said.

“Fine.” I took the lighter out and pitched it in the lighter collector jail they had set up.

So, we made it through security and we were on our way. Quite an eventful afternoon and we hadn’t even left Knoxville yet.

Funniest Thing I’ve Seen All Day?

September 26th, 2007 at 10:11 pm by Mark
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     It’s no big secret — err, well, maybe it is — that I’ve been doing IT work since 1986.  Not your average IT guy, mind you, but the type who gets a Monday morning call, gets on a plane, and goes and fixes something at a semiconductor manufacturing plant in Malaysia, then gets back in time to have a beer with the Pirate Chicks™ on Wednesday night.
     In and out, real fast, get paid.  That’s the way I like it.

     No, I didn’t mean like that, although, I have had my days…

     Last year, I hooked up with the owner of a business of the Adult variety.  She marketed my skills pretty well (no, seriously, not like that!), and I ended up working on a few websites and servers which I probably never would have had they not been so professional.  I mean, these are business people, first and foremost, and if you can keep your head around nudity and porn and do your job, then you’re going to be highly regarded.
     And so it was today that I ended up working on two servers for one such customer, and learning a hosting control panel that I’d never seen before, all the while brushing up on the foreign language it was written in.
     A good day.  A busy day.  And paid in full for my services already, which is almost unheard of these days.

     Today I had time to sit down and catch up on what used to be my regular blog reads.  One of them pointed me towards a “new” blogger, Gina at Life’s Short, where I found something that had me laughing my ass off for a solid half hour.

     I expect great things from this one.  😉

Robinhood: Free Stocks for your Referrals!

Night of the Not-so-Killer Rednecks

September 25th, 2007 at 2:45 pm by Mark
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     Back at the end of 80’s, when my hair was halfway down my back and I was playing in a Thrash Metal band (we said it was Power Metal — but let’s be honest), I was having a great time.  All 5’9, around 170 pounds of me could walk up on stage and play any instrument that needed to be played — of course, that was limited to guitar, bass and drums at the time.  My voice was a solid octave and a half deeper than what it is now.  I could sing bass and baritone like nobody’s business, with booming volume that would rattle our drummers cymbals even before the mic was turned on.

Mark Steel (Yeah, this was me)

     Off-stage was a different story.  Nobody could understand a damn thing I said back then, as my voice was so deep that it simply faded off into the background, only to be heard by animals, those odd people who get sick before an impending earthquake, and people who were so blitzed on alcohol and downers that I sounded normal.

     We traveled around quite a bit, and just had a good time with it.  We made enough money to keep ourselves in cigarettes, food, alcohol, hotel rooms and gas for the truck and van, and pretty much the only thing we had to worry about was how we were going to be treated when we got to our next stop.  In most places, people were pretty cool, but there were certainly a few towns where there might’ve been six whole teeth in the lynch mob walking towards us at the gas station or restaurant we’d stopped at.
     One night in particular, we’d driven out of Jacksonville, North Carolina driving towards Virginia Beach.  Instead of taking the interstate like a normal human being, Michael led us through every curve of US17, through rural North Carolina at 2AM.  “It’ll be easier!” he assured us on the walkie-talkie.
     Of course, if you’ve ever seen the movie This is Spinal Tap, you know it never is.

     Around 3AM, in heavy fog in the middle of nowhere, the van had flat tire.  We all pulled to the side of the road, and all five of our long-haired, dumb-punk asses got out to watch, assist, smoke cigarettes and generally complain.  Dave and Jeremy, instead of holding the flashlights where Michael could see what he was doing, began having a lightsaber duel with the flashlights in the fog.  I had one of my typical “bad feelings” that I used to get, and started urging everyone to get serious so we could get back on the road.
     “Man, chill out!” Dave urged.  “It’ll be fine!”
     Shortly after he said it, we heard a noise that sounded like a pack of wild indians.
     “What the Hell was that?” Michael asked, just before banging his knuckles on the concrete due to a slightly stripped lug nut.
     “Probably some birds or something,” Chris said, completely uninterested as he held the third flashlight where Michael could see.
     Then we heard it again, along with a mechanical noise that sounded exactly like a clutch-slipping on a big, red truck with a gun rack in the back window.  From behind us, down the road, the lights kept getting closer, and the whooping and hollering got louder and louder.
     “Oh, shit, Michael!” I exclaimed.  “Hurry the f$&* up, man!”
     Without a word, Michael furiously pulled off the damaged tire and handed it to Chris, who quickly replaced it with another from the back of the van.
     The whooping got louder and louder, the lights closer.
     We all stood silent, watching, waiting.  We were all nervous.

     As Michael was tightening the first lug nut, they were on us.  It was, in fact, a big, old, beat up, red-and-primer truck, three people in the front and three standing in the bed holding on to the top of the cab screaming like a bunch of wild indians.  They passed us silently, all of them peering at us like they’d never seen human beings before.
     We all breathed a sigh of relief until we looked ahead, and saw the truck put on its break lights — and started backing up.
     “Michael, hurry up, dude!” Dave exclaimed.
     In a fever, he quickly finger-tightened the remaining nuts and began spinning the speed wrench as fast as he could.
     We all stood around Michael as they pulled up, still silent, still looking straight at us with looks of disbelief on their faces.  The three in the back of the truck jumped out, shirtless with overalls, and the passenger door of their truck swung wide with a loud creak.
     “Ya’ll ain’ frum ‘roun’ heeyah, ah ya?” said the biggest one, who looked like he could’ve picked the van up without the jack.
     “Uhhh, no sir,” I stammered.  “We’re driving through on the way to Virginia Beach.”
     He looked back at his five friends, quietly at first, then turned back around shaking his head as they all began to snicker.  “Ya’ll shu’ got lawng hayur!” he said.  They all began to laugh.
     We blinked back at them, holding our implements of destruction close.  My knife was ready to flip from my pocket and Michael held the speed wrench as Dave, Chris and Jeremy clutched their Maglights.
     “Ya’ll in a bayund?” he asked.
     “Yes, sir, we are,” I told him.
     “Wail,” he started, turning around to look at his friends, grinning and snickering a bit.  “Why dincha jus’ say so?  Sheeyit!”
     They all laughed.
     “Yawnt any help with’at tar?” another asked.

     We stood around and talked for a few minutes with them.  They were cool people, out drinking a bit and “raisin’ some hail!”  They offered some assistance getting everything back in the van, asked if we liked Metallica or Megadeth better, and even tossed us all a beer right there on the side of the road.
     Eventually, after having a beer with ’em and acting like idiots for a while, we offered our thanks, said our goodbyes, got our mini-caravan back togther and continued on to Virginia Beach.

     It was funny… There we were, with our long hair, worrying about people judging us for it all the time.  When six people in a beat-up truck drove by in the middle of rural North Carolina, we were doing the same damn thing.

     Good people are getting harder and harder to come by these days. 

     I mean, hey, they didn’t even have a problem hearing my deep voice.

     Just goes to show, you really can’t judge a book by its cover… 

     Even the ones who are so blitzed on alcohol and downers that I sounded normal.  😉