Space, people


Okay, people, I know my personal space is larger than most people's people space. I know this. I've accepted this. I've even tried hard not to let your invasion of my personal space interfere with whatever enjoyment or serenity I may have achieved in the location where, amongst all of you, I happen to be.

But, let's face it, even if it weren't so large, even if I overcame this BIG PERSONAL SPACE ISSUE, it would still be GREATER THAN ZERO.

I cannot believe the number of people who have queued up next to me today, and stood there actually touching me or my bags. I'm completely unsure when I left the United States and ended up where ever I am with zero personal space, but I really want to go home now.

An inauspicious beginning to this trip, to be sure.

Boston x4


On my way to Boston today for the fourth time this year. Not bad for a city I hadn't visited before this year. I'm hoping I'll have an opportunity to visit with George, Ruth and Frances when I'm there, having not seen them since their visit. We'll see. This job sounds like it might be work 80%, sleep 20%. Given the red-eye flight out, and the risk I'm taking triggering a migraine, I hope I get more sleep than that.

So, drop Mom off at the airport at 2, return back at 8 to leave myself.

You have every other disease


Growing up, my little brother used to clap in the house. He started when I was around ten years old, and he was six. He'd enter a room and clap clap clap.

Drove me nuts.

I told him to stop it. I told him to stop with the clapping already. I yelled at him. I did everything I could to get him to stop with the GD clapping, but he continued until he just grew out of it.

Around the same time he grew out of it, I grew into it. I randomly clap when I'm walking. When I don't have anything on my shoulders, and my arms are swinging free, I'll clap and make other percussion noises with my hands.

Last night, after Kris and I crawled into bed, but before either of were really settled down to go to sleep, I got back up and wandered to the bathroom. After doing my business, I returned and crawled back into bed.

"Do you think you might have Tourette's?"


"Wait a minute. You have every other disease known to man. Why not Tourette's?"

It was then I realized I had announced my return to the room with a single clap.

"Well, maybe."

Mocking the start


Onto the reason why Kris and I were in Boston in the first place: the wedding!

Kris' cousin and best man at our wedding, Mike P, was married, and Kris was in the wedding party (yeah, I think I mentioned that before, when I was trying to figure out if he was in the groomal party, the bridal party or the wedding party). The wedding was supposed to be outside, along the shore next to a light house, with the bride arriving by trolley and a band leading the wedding guests in a minstral march behind the pied piper (or trombonist, as the case was) back to the reception.

The weather didn't cooperate, and the wedding wasn't close to what they planned. Unless, of course, you ignore the frantic wedding planners, the musicians playing in a too-small space, the puking kids and mistaken accents. Do that, and the wedding was exactly what they planned.

Since the weather decided to be crappy, and rain the entire weekend, the wedding moved from the lighthouse grass to the local yacht club. The dance floor was transformed into a squashed theatre, and every crammed into the seats as the wedding planners frantically put up decorations that, had the weather cooperated, would have been out six hours before we arrived. Even as the bridesmaids were lining up, and the music adjusted for the wedding processional, the runner was being laid for everyone to walk up.

The background music when we were waiting for the wedding to start was played by a guitarist and a (snare) drummer. The music was light and pleasant. The bridal processional, however, included a trombonist. Now, as a former euphonist/baritone player, I can say definitively the instrument is not a quiet instrument. Neither is the trombone, many of which I sat next to in band or marched next to at some band competition. Playing a trombone softly is like trying to throw a disc with no spin: it ends disastrously.

The trombonist managed maybe a third of the notes he was supposed to play. Not because he couldn't play them, clearly he had enough experience to play each note with gusto and skill, but rather because he couldn't play softly enough. Brass instruments aren't made for playing softly, and it showed. As he was missing note after note after note, I cringed, feeling bad for him even as he turned red, presumably from embarrassment.

Fortunately, the bride was able to walk down the aisle without musical accompaniment.

The ceremony started with the officiant, I think Rachel's (the bride) uncle. Some of his first words were, "We're not here to mock the start of this relationship..."

At his words, the room gasped. What? What did he say? Well, d'uh, of COURSE we're not here to mock the start of this relationship, are you crazy? We're here to CELEBRATE the start of this relationship, we're excited for them!

The officiant looked up at the crowd, puzzled, found his place in his speech and started again. "We are not here to mock the start ..."

What the heck? No, no we're not.

Oh, wait.

You're from Boston. We're in Boston. You're saying mark. We're not here to MARK the start of this relationship.


With you now.

The ceremony was fun, with some inside jokes in the vows, as well as other entertainment. Since we were rained out, we weren't able to follow the band from the light house to the yacht club, site of the reception, since we were already at the yacht club. There were other details like that which were lost. Following the band was supposed to take up some time, so that the food was ready once the ceremony was over and we had moved. Unfortunately, we were a half hour too early, and did the usual stand around and wait for the pictures to be taken.

The wedding party and photographers were HIGHLY efficient with their picture taking. I recall being surprised when Kris came up to me and asked what I was up to, and thinking, waiting for you to finish taking pictures.

At the reception, the kids were shuffled off to another room. The main dining room didn't have enough space for the adults and the kids, so sitters were hired to watch the kids while the adults had fun at the wedding.

Well, as Kris says, there's always drama in his family, and today was no exception. His nephew was sick, and ended up vomiting in the middle of the reception. I don't think either Jenn or Shaun had a particularly good time at the reception, which is unfortunate, because it was lovely.

At least we know why now


Kris' parents and I went to Mike P.'s welcome barbeque directly from the airport. I met Mike P.'s bride, Rachel, her family and various friends. Lots and lots of people, making the event overwhelming, though having vegetables at the dinner was really really refreshing. Yay, cole slaw and lightly vinegared cucumbers!

We left the barbeque relatively early, around 10 pm, to drive by hotel number one to pick up Kris' clothes. Before we knew what was going on hotel-wise, Kris made reservations at an inexpensive hotel a few towns over from a more expensive hotel where many of the wedding guests were staying.

Kris had crashed in the inexpensive, what am I saying, the cheap-ass hotel when he first arrived in Boston, and hadn't been back. So, when I arrived, he was in the clothes he had been in for the last 28 hours, through sleep, meals, a baseball game, a bachelor party and two trips to the side of the road to puke. Or something like that.

So, we drove to the cheap-ass hotel to check him out of the hotel and gather his clothes, not necessarily in that order.

Getting there was a problem.

With directions that seemed straight-forward, we went out to the cheap-ass hotel. We managed three mis-turns, getting lost, making U-turns. The maps Kris had were woefully unhelpful and detail-less, and we managed to tour a dozen different routes along the way.

The driving experience was completely on par for the day. The drive to the barbeque involved driving 4 miles through bad traffic to find out a bridge was out, and we had to backtrack along a road where, if the road workers had just put up a big detour sign telling us to turn left instead of right for the detour instead of letting us drive 8 miles out of the way and wasting a half hour each, we would have been way less frustrated.

Well, Kris and I had the same experience, driving along roads that were poorly marked: either not marked at all or marked with signs that were 30° off where we turned 75° to the right instead of 45° to the right and ended up driving off in the complete wrong direction.

"I think kids steal signs and put them up on other streets just for fun," was a Kris comment.

"I think they just steal them."

After driving for about 90 minutes to go 8 miles, we concluded the reason why Boston drivers suck, is because they're all frustrated that they, too, can't figure out how to get anywhere, and take out their frustration on the other drivers.

That, and Massachusetts is a no-fault state.

Boston drivers suck


Especially OSBFs.

When Bob and Lil finally found me at the airport, a cluster formed in front of me at the airport passenger pickup curb. Directly in front of me was a parked car, with no passengers loading. Next to that car was another car that was loading passengers. Now, this car was in the "No stopping. No loading" lane, where you really weren't supposed to stop or load passengers. Not that any of the five cars loading passengers in that lane really cared.

Now, behind this loading car was Bob in his rental van. He had just spotted me. He stopped his van rather than rear-end the stopped car in front of him and kill the people trying to load their luggage into the trunk of said stopped car. Clearly Bob is not from Boston.

The car next to him, behind the car directly in front of the non-loading car parked in front of me next to the car, however, clearly had a Boston driver behind the wheel. Not only a Boston driver, but an old, senile fuck that shouldn't be driving at all.

As Bob stopped his car to avoid the parked car in front of him, OSBF (short for old, senile Boston fuck) laid on the horn. He was done loading is OSF friends and was readly to leave the curb, and everyone else better move out of the way. He honked and honked and honked and gestured. He gestured and honked and started cursing at my father-in-law.

I'm clearly not from Boston. This pissed me off.

I went up to the car and slammed my hand down on the hood. "Stop honking!" I yelled. I continued to hit the hood of the car. "He can't move, or are you too blind to see that?"

The driver's reaction?

He pulled forward to hit me. Then started gesturing at me. The other OSBFs in the car continued to gesture at me when the car pulled away.

Lil in the meantime has walked away. Oh, my! My daughter-in-law is causing a scene. Well, it's not like I'm going to see any of these people again.

At least I didn't gesture the middle finger at the guy. I wish I had kicked his car, though. Or managed to get his license plate number.

Bob later commented to me that Boston is rated the worst city in the United States for driver courtesies. Way to go, Boston! You completely suck, and you're proud of it. Be sure to pat all your OSBFs on the back when you see them. They like hitting Hoosiers with their cars, I hear.

Boston 2 of 3


What a difference five months makes.

Which isn't to say that boston is exactly ooozing with the best weather ever: quite the contrary - it's raining and I can still see my breathe. But at least my nipples didn't freeze and fall off the moment I stepped out of the baggage claim area, like they did last January. Crappy weather, nonetheless.

This is the weekend of Andy's insanity, also known as the man is crazy enough to have four dogs in his house and think this is a good idea. We already had a crush on him. It may have just turned into love.

I hope he takes pictures.

Kris and I are here in Boston for his cousin's wedding. Mike P was Kris' best man at our wedding three years ago to the week. It'll be fun seeing Kris in a tux again, as part of the bridal (groomal? wedding?) party. He's so dashing when he's dressed like Bond James Bond.

My trip here is short. Since I'm not in the bridal-groomal-wedding party, I didn't have to be here in Boston early, so I didn't take the insane red-eye that Kris took. I hate red-eyes. Unlike Kris, I am unable to sleep well on planes, and red-eyes are merely on way tickets to migrainestonfieldville.

Though flying without Kris sucks, too. I figure if I'm going to die in a plane crash, I want Kris' hand in mine, and his shouting, "Well, it's been a wild ride, babe! And a good life! I love you!"

Not that I'd be shouting anything but "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

Well, maybe I'd be quoting one of my favorite X-Factor quotes: "What a stupid way to die."

So, yeah. Bob and Lil should be here soon to pick me up. Boston, here I am again.

Enjoy the hummus!


I rarely sign my credit cards. Instead, I'll write "See License" or "See ID" on the back of the cards, requesting the clerk to visually compare the signature on the receipt to the signature on the identification, and the photo on the ID to the face smiling back at them. I figure, if I can duplicate someone else's signature as easily as I can, someone else can forge mine just as easily, and I want that visual identity check to happen if I'm going to be held financially responsible for a transaction.

It worked for a long while, maybe ten years. I was asked for identification for maybe 90% of the time. I had even called the various credit card companies to confirm this practice was okay. With most of them, at the time, it was.

About three or four years ago (those years are all a blur now, if only I'd be journalling then!), I went into a Best Buy to purchase something or other, and went to pay by credit card. The clerk refused to accept my credit card unless it was signed on the back. The card with "See License" on the back and my driver's license wasn't good enough, the card had to be signed. The store had recently issued the refusal policy, and all the clerks were adamantly adhering to it.

So, I asked, "If I sign the card right here in front of you, will you accept it?"

When the clerk answered, "Yes," I told her to cancel the transaction, I would never be purchasing anything from any store with such a stupid policy, cancel the transaction.

The sale wasn't small. It was around $400, maybe $500. She was shocked. Why was I cancelling the transaction?

The card was no more legitimate with my signature as it was without it, if I had stolen it, I told her. My signature which I signed right there in front of her would match the signature of the receipt I signed right there in front of her, because I was signing both at the same time. I refused to be party to such an idiotic policy that stated my signing a potentially stolen card made the card valid, when requesting you check my signature on the receipt to government issued identification wasn't valid. I then went on to tell her I would stand her, blocking her check-out lane until she cancelled that transaction, lest she run it through, charge my card, and keep the merchandise for herself.

She looked at me stunned for a few moments, then turned, and cancelled the transaction. I think my parting, "Have a nice day!" ruined the rest of her evening.

This memory came to mind today when I was heading through the security line at the Boston airport. As I approached the line, I had suddenly realized that this was the origination airport of the 9/11 flights, and this was most likely one of the terminals and security checkpoints, as I was flying out on United. The hard-fought conquer of my long-seated fear of flying suddenly felt quite temporary.

At that point, I shut down as many emotions as I could, and walked to the end of the security line. Tuesday afternoons aren't very crowded in any airports, I would guess, and today was no exception. One hop, one skip, and one shoe-removing jump later, I was on the other side of the security waiting for my bag to come through the x-ray machine.

The screener asked to put it through again, and I shrugged my shoulders, sure. Back through it went, one time, two times. "If you tell me what you're looking for, I'll open the bag up and hand it to you to look at," I offered.

They glared at me in return.

Eventually, they gave up trying to figure out what the problem item was, and asked to open bag, pulling out my Pelican travel kit, my Apple Airport Express, my United snack box from the flight out, my retainer case, and a pair of my underwear for yet another trip through the x-ray machine.

Kitt's travel tip #32: always carry a pair of clean underwear on the plane with you. If your flight is diverted, and you have to stay the night somewhere unexpected, you can wear the same socks, you can wear the same pants, you can wear the same shirt. However, wearing the same underwear is just gross - pack an extra pair.

When I packed that pair, I honestly wasn't expecting it to be contraband.

It wasn't even a lacy pair: they were plain, cotton, red, bikini-cut undies.

Fortunately, they were clean.

So back through the x-ray machine went my assortment of items, and back out they came, with the United snack box being the source of the offending item. The TSA guy pulled it out of the box, and asked what was in it. I answered, "I honestly don't know, I purchased it on the flight out, and figured if United gave it to me on the plane, it contained nothing of any security threat. Do you know what's in it? Did the x-ray show you?"

He wasn't humoured and opened the box.

Well, tried to open the box. He couldn't get the plastic seal off the box in any timely, graceful way, eventually putting it up to his mouth to plastic to initiate a tear, pulling the plastic off, pulling the box pull-tab and opening the box. He then pulled out a small bottle, and told me it couldn't go on the plane.

I looked at it in his hand, then took it from him to see what it was. At the moment I snatched the jar from his hand, I had images of another flight years ago when a TSA agent refused to let me have back what I accidently had left in a bag, and Kris' unwillingness to help me at that incident and his insistence I "not make a scene" almost ended our relationship. I refuse to allow another person make me feel as powerless as I did at that moment, one by fake power, the other by embarrassment.

The TSA agent in front of me seemed flustered that I had grabbed the jar from him, but he waited as I looked at the label, and handed it back to him. It was a two ounce jar of hummus.

As anyone who knows me would predict, I asked him, "It's a two ounce jar. Why can't I take it on the plane?"

His answer was less than satisfactory. "Because you can't."

"Why can't I?"

"Because you can't."

"It's two ounces. It's less than the three ounces all of the regulations state are allowed. Why not?"

Now, I'm standing there with all of the rest of my stuff. In one bag I have, undeclared, a 4 ounce container of apple sauce that went through not only this security screening, but TWO of them went through the San Jose security screening four days ago. In the other bag, I have, once again undeclared, two packets of energy GEL (you know, of the liquid and gel prohibition), twelve containers full of saline solution, a container of lip balm gel, and two ounces of sunscreen. All of this is undeclared. All of this is packed deep in my backpack or on top of my computer bag. All of this the first TSA agent has seen and RECOGNIZED, as he paused when he took the items out of my bag, and looked at them intently.

He didn't pull out any of these items. He didn't confiscate any of these items. But the two ounce jar? The TWO ounce jar of humus? It can't go on the flight.

"Uh... you can't... He'll explain it," he answered, and walked over to the shift leader. "Explain why she can't take this one the plane," he requested, handing the shift leader the two ounce jar of hummus.

The shift leader looked at it, looked up, and automatically said, "You can't take this on the plane."

"Now wait a second, here's what happened." I explained the box, and stopped him from interupting me several times until my story was done, and finished, "It's a two ounce jar of hummus, why can't it go on the plane when it's clearly less than the three ounces stated?"

"Was it in a plastic bag?"


"It can't go on because you didn't declare it."

"Because I didn't declare it by putting it in a plastic bag?"

"Right. If you don't declare it, we don't trust you, and you can't take it on the plane."

"You're serious?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"So, if I put it in a plastic bag...."

"You have a plastic bag?"

"Yes, I have a plastic bag," thinking, duh, what kind of an idiot do you think I am? I have five plastic bags because other people will be caught in the evil TSA frackin' RETARDED WEB OF STUPID POWER TRIPS TO ANNOY ALL OF US rules and need the bags for help. Oh wait, you think I'm of the TSA idiot kind. "If I put the jar in a plastic bag right now, and walked out that way, and came back in through the x-ray machine right now, you'd let me take it on the plane."

"Yes, ma'am."

Exasperated, "Really?"

"Yes, ma'am."

I was stunned.

I turned around and walked away, calling cheerfully over my shoulder, "Enjoy the hummus!"

My own Boston Tea Party


Today was my last day in Boston before I head home to Kris, the doggen, work, and coaching. My last day of being a Bostonian tourist. I had a number of items left on my list to da, which included seeing Faneuial Hall, parts of the Freedom Trail, the general downtown architecture, and the Harbour. I had planned to see at least one of these yesterday, but spent the day in the Museum of Science instead.

Shock! Me? Science?


George had told me last night that he wasn't going to let me take the train into town today and drag my suitcase and all the other crap I had with me around on my siteseeing adventures. Instead, he would be able to drive me into town for a short tour, being my tourguide.


Because I slept in so late, we ended up on a fantastic whirlwind tour of downtown. George showed me the various styles of brick architecture, different eras and styles in different parts of town, then parked the car under the Boston Commons, in an underground parking structure with the park on top.

California needs to clue into more efficient use of space like this. Way needs to. Take the earthquakes in stride and start building down.

We then walked through the park, found the Freedom Trail, toured a itsy bitsy cemetary, walked past the Fanueial Hall, through the Quincy Market behind it, over the Big Digg to the North End, which ends at the Harbour. I then had my very own Boston Tea Party (with real English tea from George's wife, Ruth). I was laughing so hard I'm not sure any of the photos did the moment justice.

George then led us further along the Freedom Trail, a red line that runs through the city, along many (16?) historic markers and buildings. We went through Little Italy (or the Boston equivalent, if that's not the correct name), and stopped at the North End Church, where Paul Revere put up his two "one if by land, two if by sea" lanterns before racing the ten miles on horse to Lexington.

The most interesting part of the church, other than it's historical reference, was the high walls between the pews. Basically, every pew had a little cubby hole where people could pray and no one else could see you there. Hell, you could have sex during mass and no one would know.

We wandered back along the trail to the Daily Catch for lunch, and then hoofed it back to the car in time for George to drive me to the airport and me to check in my bag in time.

Once again, I had a retarded journey through the security line, with amazingly stupid TSA workers manning the lines. I swear, I need to get a job at one of these places, just so that I can start yelling at my fellow employees, "STOP BEING MORONS!"

But that's the subject of another post. For now, my Boston adventure is over. George, Ruth and Frances are some of the most wonderful hosts I've ever had (and wonderful people I've ever met). Unfortunately, they introduced me to the most amazing hot fudge sauce. I may have to order them more as a bigger thank you note for hosting me for my first Boston adventure...