The Friendly Skies? Take 'em, Their Yours

For 14 years, from 1994 to 2008, I flew somewhere every ten days, if not more frequently. Between the five legal boards I served on that met quarterly or every four months, there were 17 trips (34 flights) a year to board meetings in cities around the country. Add to that the task forces I served on which met every other month in cities around the country, the six or eight criminal defense lectures I gave every year to out of state organizations, the blogger events I went to, in Amsterdam, NY, DC, Las Vegas and San Francisco. Even covering the Scooter Libby trial meant 3 weeks of going back and forth between Denver and D.C.

Add to that my out of town cases: In 2007, I added another 12 trips to the other 18, just going to Omaha and Telluride, where the courts were.

By the end of 2007, I was fried. The 2007-8 Iowa caucuses in late December, early January were the final straw. [More...]

Iowa was a great time with really good friends and fun people. But the cold was pure punishment. On the flight home, I began mulling things over and ended up making a little wager. I bet myself that I couldn’t go a year without flying.

I dropped off every legal board. 15 trips gone. I stopped lecturing. Five to Six trips gone. I stopped going to blogger events. I stopped taking out of town cases. And with 1 exception, I did it. When 2009 came around, I decided to see if I could do it again. I ended up taking two flights that year. In 2010, I was determined to hit perfection: Zero flights. And so far I’ve done it. I intend to repeat it in 2011.

The airport wastes a day of our time each way. Then there’s the money: It’s $50 to park at the airport, $50 in wasted money walking down the concourse, buying magazines, bottled water and lousy snacks; $50 for the incessant tips, from the taxi driver who takes you to the hotel to the guy who opens your taxi door when you alight and takes your luggage 10 yards from the curb to the reception desk, to the bellman who takes you to your room. And the ridiculous cost of room service or getting your clothes pressed or cleaned.

The packing time grew absurd. Who wants to decide on Thursday what what you will feel like wearing three days later?. The time spent figuring out what you might want to read and what books to bring. The shoes, the cosmetics. Even worse was the equipment: the laptop, the video recorder, the ipod and the phone, each one with a different charger and cord. Once you arrived, you had to unpack it all and set everything up. The hotel wireless is always slower. And then you have to pack it all up again for the return flight. And put it all away when you got home.

There was also the anxiety over whether you’d be on time for the flight, whether you’d get any overhead space, whether you’d get delayed and miss a connecting flight. And when you erred on the other side and got there too early, there was the boredom. And when you do finally get unpacked at home and and finish the laundry, you’re behind in all your home town projects and lose the next day playing catch-up.

Face it: Flying sucks. Traveling sucks. And the airline restrictions, while they may be the major stumbling block, aren’t the only ones.

Maybe it’s easy for me to say since I’ve been so many places: From China, Hong Kong, and Thailand, to Italy, France, Spain, Amsterdam, England, and Switzerland, most more than once. To Brazil and the Amazon, Tahiti and Bora Bora. I’ve been all over Canada, the Caribbean, Bermuda, Mexico, and every island of Hawaii – at least a dozen times. I’ve been to Las Vegas, New Orleans, San Francisco, Miami and New York -- probably 50 times.

No more. Now when I read the stories about harried air travelers and pat downs and searches, I just click my heels three times and say to no one in particular, “There’s no place like home.” Home has the desktop, the laptop, the big TV’s, the DVR, blueray, the guitar, the kindle and the iPad. It has a full closet of clothes, rather than just the clothes that will fit in an airline-approved size suitcase, and all the right food and libations right there in the kitchen. Life at home is a a zen- like experience. It’s peaceful and stressless.

Bottom line: There is no place else I want to go badly enough to suffer through the airport hassles, and before committing to fly anywhere, I think about all these problems and end up saying, “No.” Sooner or later I suppose I’ll have to go somewhere but I’m going to try to figure out how to go by private plane and avoid all the harried, coughing travelers with crying babies and those who after 20 years still can’t figure out what’s expected of them at the security lines, so they hold it up interminably. The friendly skies? Take ‘em, they’re all yours.

For me, from here out, it’s Denver and when I need to get away, Aspen, a beautiful, peaceful, 3 hour drive from home. What it all means: I’m happy to be in my own little cocoon where I get to make all the choices that affect me on my timetable and where the TSA has no jurisdiction to come a’knocking.

Life's too short to deal with the mess we have made of air travel in our misguided belief that treating passengers like cattle will somehow stop terrorism. Sorry, not in this lifetime. We're just making a mockery of ourselves. I can hear al Qaeda, across the world, laughing while sitting comfy on the floors of their rustic mountain hideouts, which they've turned into their own personal brand of a cocoon.

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    Actually I'm not going to feel (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by observed on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 05:06:19 AM EST
    safe unless random cavity searches are instituted. I'm sure once the necessity is explained travelers will gracefully submit.

    Perhaps (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by CoralGables on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 09:06:06 AM EST
    this could be step one towards the government providing free preventive health care.

    Coming to an airport near you...

    "TSA now offers a free prostate exam with every boarding pass"


    Classic... (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by kdog on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 09:10:46 AM EST
    or maybe we could get legalized prostitution out of it..."TSA is pleased to announce the introduction of complimentary happy endings as part of the security screening process"

    you saw the pic (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by jeffinalabama on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 09:12:51 AM EST
    of the guy in the glasses... you want a happy ending from him?

    no thanks.



    TSA has a proposal to (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by KeysDan on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 10:19:57 AM EST
    placate such worries: an anonymous pat down using partitions modeled after a Minneapolis airport stall. A good republican idea from former senator Larry Craig.

    Good point... (none / 0) (#29)
    by kdog on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 09:29:43 AM EST
    we'd need the option to choose the gender of our massuese.

    Which we should have already btw...cuz isn't a TSA man groping a gay man kinda the same thing as a TSA woman groping a straight man?


    What if (none / 0) (#4)
    by lentinel on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 05:40:39 AM EST
    someone finds a way to conceal something in a filling?

    We'll need random extractions with dentists standing by with their drills.


    I'm just imagining the TSA (none / 0) (#9)
    by observed on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 06:55:48 AM EST
    informational pamphlets on cavity searches.
    "Don't worry, this is normal"
    "Assume the position"
    "For the convenience of our dedicated TSA specialists, please be prepared"

    The real problem isn't the bombs--- (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by observed on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 08:28:32 AM EST
    it's the dangerous ideas of the people who try to bomb planes.
    We should all be screened for dangerous ideas by TSA professionals. In fact, we should all happily allow pre-screening by dedicated, trained TSA professionals, who can look into our credit history, political and religious affiliations, personal and sexual history, to see if we pose any threat.

    I am using the "call your congressman" (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by jeffinalabama on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 09:01:50 AM EST
    on this one. I HAVE to fly to some destinations-- no trains, automobiles or boats go there. The arrogance of the TSA makes me grit my teeth in anger. And when I grit my teeth and get quiet, the consequences and my actions are a lot more severe and long-lasting than if I'm yelling.

    I am FURIOUS over this latest goveernmental indecency. The more I read, the madder I get.

    Keystone cop GS7's with power issues. and their leaders haven't done much to demonstrate worthiness to get paid more than the GS7's doing the groping/x-raying.

    Apparently "the terrorists have won." (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by oculus on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 09:54:08 AM EST
    I plan to keep on keeping on, as there are many places in the world I wish to visit.  Jeralyn, can't believe you have written off Turkey, Jordan (Petra), Egypt, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, etc.  There is another world out there.

    yea (none / 0) (#43)
    by CST on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 10:11:59 AM EST
    I love travelling.  And there are so many places left to see.

    I would willingly subject myself to a search for a trip to any of those places.  Then again, I have had worse pat downs putting on climbing gear.  And I never had a protestant sensibility about such things.


    I haven't seen anyone protest the (none / 0) (#44)
    by oculus on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 10:18:50 AM EST
    quite specific patdowns at airports outside the U.S.  Probably just relieved it isn't necessary to take off shoes!  

    honestly (none / 0) (#51)
    by CST on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 10:40:04 AM EST
    the only things that really scare/bother me at airports are machine guns and german shephards.  And the guys who walk around with machine guns and german shephards.  There's something very unnerving about that.  And I haven't really seen it in the states.

    When George W. Bush deployed the (none / 0) (#53)
    by oculus on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 10:57:34 AM EST
    national guard to airports in the U.S. to assist the TSA, there were lots of guys in uniform chatting with each other and the people going thru security.  The guys looked really bored.  And they were holding high powered long guns.  

    And they were loaded. (none / 0) (#55)
    by jeffinalabama on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 11:05:54 AM EST
    I see police with dogs at every airport in Colombia. they will even hold a conversation with you.

    The intimidation tactics of the TSA and the fearmongering, these need to stop. It's a continuation without color-coding of the Bush years.

    I wonder what percentage of these TSA employees have authoritarian personalities? I'm sure a lot are there for  the bennies and retirement, but I don't want or need the police state type screenings.

    Back years ago when I was studying journalism, I interviewed Judith Ann Neely in an Alabama  prison. The search there was less invasive of my privacy than what I've seen.

    Giving up some freedom, like the right to privacy, isn't justified for this type of increased security.


    It is my understanding TSA frontliners (none / 0) (#56)
    by oculus on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 11:08:50 AM EST
    are not well-compensated.  Not sure if they even get health care and/or retirement benefits.  It's a job.  

    They're gs7 (or it's equivalent) as a top (none / 0) (#63)
    by jeffinalabama on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 11:26:45 AM EST
    salary, so it's not  high pay by any means.

    When it was set up the TSA employees got no union representation. But they do get insurance and retirement if they were hired full time instead of one of the 'not to exceed x months or x years.'

    However, they don't have the same protection from firing or layoff as other employees, from what I've read. But I do remember a few years ago, perhaps five, when hundreds, if not thousands, were hired as temporary government employees, and then large numbers were released some months afterward.

    GS7 isn't a whole lot, I have to admit. But police pay in my area (and in many states) isn't too good, either.

    Oh well, I ought not blame the 'soldiers' for decisions by the 'leader,' I suppose.


    In my experience, the "soldiers" are (none / 0) (#65)
    by oculus on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 11:29:20 AM EST
    remarkably patient and professional, given the circumstances.  

    Heard this AM that the TSA may (none / 0) (#64)
    by nycstray on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 11:28:40 AM EST
    start outsourcing to contract companies instead of using their TSA agents. Why am I not surprised?

    This was emphasized at the recent (none / 0) (#66)
    by oculus on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 11:30:48 AM EST
    Congressional hrg.  Much like private prisons, I don't see this as a guarantee those who object to enhanced security procedures will get what they want.

    I thought (none / 0) (#88)
    by jbindc on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 02:21:19 PM EST
    The screeners were contractors before 9/11 and after that it was decided to bring them in as regular government employees so there would be more control.  Am I mistaken in that?

    I am not (none / 0) (#61)
    by CST on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 11:22:30 AM EST
    a dog person.  That's not to say I dislike dogs, I don't, I've even met one or two I really like.  But dogs I don't know make me uncomfortable.

    And really big guns do not make me feel safe, no matter where they are pointed.

    I agree that giving up this privacy for security is not worth it - you will never eliminate danger.  Unfortunately, giving up privacy to travel is worth it, and they don't give us a choice on the security.


    Growing up in the middle-east (none / 0) (#69)
    by vml68 on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 11:47:08 AM EST
    I thought having police/guards with machine guns at airports was normal. So I was quite surprised when I first went to countries that didn't have them.

    BTW, had you taken the subway to NYC Penn station around 9/11 weekend (this year!) you would have seen plenty of police/army? personnel with machine guns and dogs. It took me by surprise. And they all had black gloves on...is that standard?

    Speaking of dogs, even though I know that these dogs would probably rip my throat out on command, for some reason it always makes me relax when I see armed guards with dogs.


    Dogs and guns fairly common (none / 0) (#83)
    by nycstray on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 12:44:27 PM EST
    to my knowledge in some NYC spots. I think TS still has them . . . (iirc), they also have patrols that go around to hot spots randomly.

    what's interesting, is living so far away from it now and seeing some of the same security on public transit. I was surprised to see a dog and cop at the North Concord Bart station (not a real busy place) when visiting my niece. They were doing a random station/train car pass through just as if I was in NYC. Minus the big gun, iirc. They also run the same PSAs about stray baggage. Haven't been into SF yet to see what PT security is like there . . .


    Yeah, but (none / 0) (#96)
    by scribe on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 06:34:27 AM EST
    you have armed-n-in-body armor MPs (that's military police) standing posts on some subway/train platforms in NYC.

    Not cops.


    Not that it'll do a f*cks worth of good if some knucklehead decides to try something.


    Vietnam and India (none / 0) (#54)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 11:03:40 AM EST
    I would like to see, but not so much that I'd put up with the hassle of getting there and back. (Same for Mauritius and/or the Seychelles. And I'm sorry I  missed Chiang Mai when I went to Thailand.)

    The trick is to stay awhile--at least 2 weeks. (none / 0) (#58)
    by oculus on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 11:12:42 AM EST
    Although that may be impossible for you, in a small private criminal defense practice.

    I'll keep on keeping on too (none / 0) (#74)
    by ruffian on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 12:13:51 PM EST
    I have not done nearly enough international travel - the little I have done has just given me the bug for more.

    As far as US travel, when I lived in Colorado I could see Jeralyn's point of view. There are plenty of places I love within easy driving distance of Denver. For me, even Denver to LA is easy driving distance. Not so Orlando. It takes 5 hrs just to get out of frickin' Florida, and another 3 at at least to get anywhere I even vaguely want to visit.

    It is ironic that one of the reasons I moved was that I was a lot like Jeralyn - totally fried from all of the business travel I was doing from 1995-2005, and ready to take a stay-at-home low stress job. Now that the only travel I do is for pleasure, it makes it easier to put up with the airport hassles.

    I can put up with the new "enhanced screening", but the more I see of it the more I feel like it is a terrible violation. I was only half kidding the other night when I said I might be shedding tears during it.


    I am afraid that these enhanced (none / 0) (#76)
    by vml68 on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 12:18:16 PM EST
    pat-downs are just going to make me angry and aggressive, which will probably end badly... for me!

    Most of the TSA security requirements (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by KeysDan on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 10:05:38 AM EST
    would be "reformed" if they applied to all passengers using private jets. The approximately 15,000 corporate jets and 315 small airports that have little or no security checks as encountered in commercial travel would not have it.

    Air Force One (none / 0) (#59)
    by Ben Masel on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 11:16:04 AM EST
    Are the Obama daughters subjected to the same indignities as MY granddaughter?

    TL sidebar states our arms deal with (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by oculus on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 10:19:46 AM EST
    Saudi Arabia is going through.  Now that is nonsensical.

    And it's all based on a lie (1.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Yes2Truth on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 09:20:10 AM EST
    "Life's too short to deal with the mess we have made of air travel in our misguided belief that treating passengers like cattle will somehow stop terrorism."

    Those of us who have studied the evidence of 9/11,
    know that it was a false flag operation/inside job,
    and now all of us, travelers and non-travelers, are paying the price you laid out so clearly.

    I know how (none / 0) (#2)
    by lentinel on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 05:36:12 AM EST
    you feel, Jeralyn.

    I want to visit all these countries, but they make it so difficult.

    I will say that, having spent some time in Europe, that access to high-speed, clean trains makes things a lot easier. No worries about space for baggage - on time departures - a bar car with wine and fairly decent sandwiches and snacks - comfortable seats - quiet.

    Getting to and from the stations --- anxiety --- the tipping --- check-ins at the hotels --- the anxiety still there.

    But the alternative of high-speed rail is a boon.

    But, as Dorothy said, "There ain't no place like home."

    Affordable high speed rail... (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by kdog on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 08:16:47 AM EST
    would be great, as long as the authoritarians don't go nutso with the train security like they have with the planes.

    Cuz again I would ask, are innocent victims of an attack on a train any less dead than the victims of an attack on a plane?  Or a shopping mall? What is the difference?  Is it just because they happened to use planes on 9/11 and all the hijackings back in the 70's? In Spain they used the train, in Iraq they use the market...any gathering of people will work for whackjobs hell bent on killing a couple hundred people.

    I'm really failing to see why we've gone Big Brother Bonkers with planes and only half bonkers with everything else.  And why aren't the airlines objecting?  They gotta know the clown show is costing them business.


    We need strip searches and pat downs (none / 0) (#15)
    by observed on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 08:21:10 AM EST
    before every NFL game.

    We've already got patdowns... (none / 0) (#17)
    by kdog on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 08:34:34 AM EST
    though last game I attended, not the enhanced interrogation version....just the wand and pocket squeezing.

    And don'y you dare even utter the word "terrorist", I saw a fan get chained up for that.


    Well, last time I went to a pro (none / 0) (#18)
    by observed on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 08:40:53 AM EST
    game of any kind was in 1999 or 2000.

    The good old days! (none / 0) (#20)
    by kdog on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 08:50:52 AM EST
    I used to be able to smuggle in a full six pack to a Jets game back in the 90's...now it's tough to get a 'lil shot bottle of Jim Beam through.

    Plus, in the U.S., courtesy of recent (none / 0) (#35)
    by oculus on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 09:50:00 AM EST
    federal legislation, you can take your gun on Amtrak--in checked baggage.  How's that for convenient?

    What's the big deal? (none / 0) (#78)
    by Chuck0 on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 12:30:26 PM EST
    I can take my gun on Southwest Airlines. In checked baggage.

    This whole thing is freaking stupid (none / 0) (#40)
    by nycstray on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 10:03:41 AM EST
    when you think of all the other places where mass amounts of people gather daily. People are quite capable of noticing things out of the ordinary and reacting (see shoe bomber, TS bomber, etc). I can see beefing up security with perhaps more agents on planes etc (like the NYC subway does) but leave people alone. They've had 10 yrs to train more security agents and put other none invasive security in place . . . . and all we get is knee jerk stupidity.

    OT, but speaking of using markets in Iraq, (none / 0) (#82)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 12:40:46 PM EST
    check this video out. Sometimes you just gotta laugh.

    VW always had... (none / 0) (#85)
    by kdog on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 12:58:18 PM EST
    some of the best car ads.

    And yes, always better to laugh than cry.


    What TL said. (none / 0) (#3)
    by scribe on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 05:39:00 AM EST
    I haven't flown since ... 2004, I think.  I don't miss it.

    OK, that's with one exception: (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by scribe on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 05:41:26 AM EST
    small float planes in and out of lakes in the Canadian backwoods on fishing trips.

    That's flying - not being packed into a cattle car.  I highly recommend the experience - the view is phenomenal - and especially if you can get a pilot you can goad into some "real flying".


    I really don't enjoy the act of flying (none / 0) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 06:13:58 AM EST
    I'm usually at the sky bar tring to get two drinks in me to get into the air.  My husband loves it though.  We take turns going with Joshua for his twice yearly back surgeries in San Antonio.  I usually drive when it is my turn, and my husband usually flies.  I have a hard time with Joshua when he is in pain trying to heal after surgeries and airports are involved. It is very stressful for me trying to get him through all the jockeying for position in the lines when he has four new incisions on his back.  I just can't do it anymore, my husband is bigger and stronger and can carry him if the going gets rough.  Add insult to insanity and I guess it is the roadway for me.

    When I drive though, I can pick out fun places to eat and interesting things to see on the way there and back too....so take the unfriendly skies.  What is there to miss?

    I think (none / 0) (#7)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 06:17:53 AM EST
    I've flown one time since 9/11 and that was in 2006. Getting out of Atlanta wasn't too bad but it was awful in the Ft. Lauderdale aiport.---total disorganization.

    Anyway, when you're going on vacation and it's only once in a while it's not too bad IMO but flying for business just has to be the worst.

    I love the adventure of flying (none / 0) (#8)
    by Coral on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 06:54:58 AM EST
    as long as the subsequent stay is long enough to recover and enjoy wherever I am...that means no weekend trips to, say Europe, or Central America.

    And I hate security hassle, and the choice between too cumbersome luggage and having nothing to wear once I arrive.

    Also, the assortment of power cords, phones, computers and other electronics that I simply cannot do without. Seriously considering getting an iPhone that is usable in Europe and MacBook Air, so travel will be less complicated.

    trains are cool (none / 0) (#10)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 07:20:43 AM EST

    They are (none / 0) (#11)
    by Zorba on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 07:49:27 AM EST
    I prefer train travel when possible, if we don't want to drive.  The problem with trains is, they can't get you to Hawaii, or Europe, or Asia, etc.  Boats are way too slow.  ;-)

    I love (none / 0) (#12)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 07:53:41 AM EST
    sleeping compartments.  I always feel like I am in an Agatha Christie mystery.  nothing more fun than a long train ride and a batch of Alice B. Tokeless brownies.

    I get (none / 0) (#13)
    by Zorba on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 08:15:02 AM EST
    violently sea-sick.  I realize that the huge boats are very, very steady, but any kind of rough weather at all would turn me green and have me vomiting.  Dramamine makes me sleepy, and transdermal scopolamine makes me too sensitive to light and gives me blurry vision.

    The (none / 0) (#49)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 10:28:34 AM EST
    thought of a cruise makes me claustrophobic. Of course, I haven't been on one yet to try this theory out...

    That part wouldn't bother me so much (none / 0) (#52)
    by Zorba on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 10:48:06 AM EST
    Those boats are big enough to move around in.  I do get a hemmed-in feeling on an airplane, though, because we're all so crammed in.  Trains are fine- the seats are bigger and even if it's full, you can get up and walk around.

    The cabins... (none / 0) (#70)
    by kdog on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 11:50:45 AM EST
    are tiny, at least the cheapies...but otherwise its a floating town with big blue skies above...tin-can planes are where I get a little claustrophobic.

    Seasickness tip (none / 0) (#57)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 11:10:15 AM EST
    I get seasick, too, and I've learned some key things about preventing it (once it starts, forget it, you're done), a lot of it from reading about NASA studies.  NASA figured out that motion sickness is caused because the stomach basically starts to fibrillate-- jumps around erratically instead of just churning along normally.

    The single most important thing, therefore, is to keep your stomach busy doing what it's supposed to do.  Keep some food in it!  Very plain carbs work best, fatty stuff that's harder to digest is bad.

    So have a light meal before you get on the boat or whatever gives you motion sickness and take along a good supply of plain old saltines.  Keep munching those from time to time during the trip so your stomach has something easy to work on.

    Also, NASA says it's the contrast between what your eyes see and the motion your body feels that causes the stomach to freak out.  So on a boat, stay up on deck if at all possible.  The wind in your face helps enormously as an added benefit.  If you're flying, make sure you get a window seat and look out frequently.

    Dramamine definitely helps.  It does make you sleepy, but I'd rather be a little sleepy than a lot seasick.

    Also, those little wristbands they sell in drugstores with the button things that press on the pressure points in your wrists do help a little bit.

    I've done all those things for years now and haven't gotten seasick once since I started, including on small whale watch boats off the NE coast when half the passengers were barfing over the side.


    Thanks (none / 0) (#81)
    by Zorba on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 12:37:09 PM EST
    I do eat crackers or toast before an airplane flight, and take Dramamine because I'd just as soon sleep on a plane, anyway.  But on a long cruise, I'd hate to be sleepy for long periods of time, and keeping my stomach busy with carbs the whole trip doesn't seem very feasible.  For a short boat trip, sure.  Cars don't bother me if I'm driving or in the front seat, and look straight ahead most of the time.  Back seat- forget it.

    I don't think (none / 0) (#87)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 02:09:32 PM EST
    you're likely to have any trouble on a cruise.  Those ships are BIG and very, very stable in the water, and they're not going through rough open seas.  Not saying nobody ever gets seasick on a cruise, but I sure don't know anybody who has.

    I'm old enough to have made several trans-Atlantic crossings on ships a good deal smaller than the ones they build for cruising now and with much less sophisticated stabilizers.  Even on those, it's usually only the second day out, when you really get into open ocean, that people get seasick.  After one moderately uncomfortable in bed, your system gets used to it and the rest of the trip is fine. (Unless you run into major storms!)

    It's the smaller boats and ferries and the like that get tossed around so easily that induce the seasickness.  It takes one whopper of a storm to do that to a big cruise ship or ocean liner.

    Just FYI.


    I may (none / 0) (#95)
    by Zorba on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 06:11:42 PM EST
    try a cruise on a big ship, gyrfalcon.  Some of the cruises do sound wonderful.

    True. (none / 0) (#79)
    by Chuck0 on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 12:33:20 PM EST
    I lived in Japan for 3-1/2 years as a child. Traveled back and forth from the base at Yokosuka to Zushi all the time. Alone. At 10 years old. Took the Bullet Train to Osaka in '70. 115 miles an hour. The technology is there, but this country has completely failed at building a decent passenger rail system.

    outstanding (none / 0) (#19)
    by Lil on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 08:41:07 AM EST
    I just said this morning, all this makes me feel like I don't want to fly anywhere anymore. And I didn't even fly as much as you.  I'm posting this to facebook and hope others read it too. spot on especially about airports basically stealing 2 days from us, when we travel.

    Seconding the train love (none / 0) (#21)
    by DancingOpossum on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 09:00:43 AM EST
    I adore long train rides. When possible I choose that option over flying or driving. Going to visit family in Colorado for the holidays a couple of years ago, I did the cross-country train and it was wonderful. Hoping I can do it again this year but you do have to factor in time -- two days each way.

    I hate driving and am afraid of being in a cars, on a highway, whether I'm the driver or passenger. If I do have to drive a long way out, I take back roads only, even if it adds to the time--which it often does, a lot. Interstates? No way in hell.

    Sorry but I just don't trust (none / 0) (#25)
    by brodie on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 09:11:53 AM EST
    our gubmit's assurances about the safety of those x-ray scanners.  Fair skinned dude here with a prior record of several skin cancers, one in the major category.  Not gonna risk another unnecessarily.

    No thx on the nudie pix, no thx on the grope.

    What a stupid clueless policy Obama and Napolitano gave us here.

    exactly right (none / 0) (#27)
    by sj on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 09:13:08 AM EST
    ... the mess we have made of air travel in our misguided belief that treating passengers like cattle will somehow stop terrorism.

    Oh except for one change now to conform to todays perspective.  Passengers are now "consumers."  And passenger is such a nice word.

    Beteween the rise in airfare (none / 0) (#30)
    by jbindc on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 09:30:43 AM EST
    And these screenings (and my schedule dictating, of course), I have decided to drive the 10 or so hours from Northern Virginia to Detroit this Christmas.  Hopefully, the weather across the mountains will cooperate, but I'm lucky - I have relatives near Pittsburgh, so I can make it a leisurely 2 day trip if I want, or I can stop for a free lunch and then be on my way.

    When I flew home this past June I got both the scanner (I feel sorry for the person who had to look my scan!) and then I got a nice pat down by the TSA lady.  It wasn't horrible, just a little awkward, but she was in no mood for my joking.  Truthfully, it's more embarrassing going to the doctor, but it was just a pain.

    (Then on my return trip, I was selected with a couple of other people to have our hands swabbed for explosives.  I never thought I looked suspicious, but maybe I have an aura about me!)

    The new "pat-down" rules (none / 0) (#31)
    by ytterby on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 09:34:03 AM EST
    remind me of less happy times in my life when regular pat-downs and body cavity searches were routine. I'm not interested in revisiting that nightmare.

    Men, take a Viagra before your patdown (none / 0) (#32)
    by Dadler on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 09:36:53 AM EST
    Make your TSA experience a truly memorable one.

    Caution: the flight should not last (5.00 / 3) (#39)
    by KeysDan on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 09:57:00 AM EST
    longer than four hours.

    Might make (none / 0) (#33)
    by jbindc on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 09:47:30 AM EST
    your flight a bit uncomfortable, though.

    not after a good patdown (5.00 / 2) (#34)
    by Dadler on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 09:48:18 AM EST

    Wear a kilt (none / 0) (#92)
    by roy on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 04:23:33 PM EST
    Traditional style.

    The problem is that we only seem (none / 0) (#36)
    by Anne on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 09:53:40 AM EST
    to institute procedures after some sort of incident: everything that is being done - from not being allowed to carry on pocket knives or anything that could be a weapon, to taking off one's shoes, to only being allowed to carry 3 oz. containers of liquid that all must fit within one 1 qt. zip-lock bag, to the body scans and intrusive pat-downs - came about because of something an alleged terrorist did, or tried to do.

    It's Whack-a-Mole, as near as I can tell; while airline travelers are being herded and inspected like cattle, anyone intent on doing harm on an airplane is designing ways around the security measures; while everyone's getting nervous about the Middle-Eastern-looking man in the airport or on the plane, no one's worried about the sweet and pretty young woman, are they?

    Meanwhile, the cargo hold is still pretty much the stepchild, security-wise; sure, they scan and X-ray, but since you can pack in checked luggage things that you can't carry on, seems like there's still potential for something to go wrong there.

    I mentioned on Wednesday night that my daughter was flying to Tulsa; her experience in BWI Marshall security was that she was not subject to any enhanced scanning or pat-down.  Her bag went through the scanner, and she went through the normal metal-detector after putting her liquids, shoes, jewelry, etc., in the bin, which she collected on the other side.  I don't think she even saw anyone getting the enhanced treatment.

    The rest of it was just a long, long day.  Three hour flight to Dallas-Fort Worth, three hours until her connecting flight to Tulsa, a half-hour delay in leaving DFW, and ping-ponging between gates (flight to leave from A11, when delay announced, gate changed to A17, before flight finally announced, gate changed back to A11 - she said all that was missing was the moo-ing as people plodded from gate to gate like cattle).  She does the whole thing in reverse on Saturday...oh, joy!

    Of course I want to be safe, and for my family to be safe, when traveling, but as long as all we ever do is react to what has already happened, it's only a matter of time until someone successfully -and tragically - games the security.  And then it will start all over again.

    And that is part of the problem/stupidity (5.00 / 2) (#42)
    by nycstray on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 10:11:57 AM EST
    no consistency in airport security between airports. (Not that I'm advocating all airports go the the security extreme here!)

    When I flew in March, I got the no-enhanced pat down and the whole experience at the airport was pretty mellow. I think it may have been when I was flying though, as it was one of my better airport experiences including pre-911. (yes, I was shocked!) I also has my dog with me who had to go through a special screening. Thankfully, they were concerned about her crate and she didn't get wanded/x-rayed or anything. Which is interesting since they do use dogs for smuggling etc . . . .


    I just read about the dogs (none / 0) (#71)
    by the capstan on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 12:00:45 PM EST
    and TSA.  I trained my own servce dog--no state certification here.  I understand that if we both go thru the metal detector without an alarm, security will be pretty simple.  I guess that means putting his service vest (with metal rings)  plus collar and leash in a bin on the belt--using only one of the simple leash/collar deals.

    I am considering paying for his seat and using his car harness onboard.  I think a 29-lb-herding dog would likely get tossed around if on the floor..  Not concerned about getting him on free, just about keeping him out of cargo.


    Will the airline let you keep him on the seat? (none / 0) (#73)
    by vml68 on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 12:10:11 PM EST
    During holiday/hateTSA season, not going to ask. (none / 0) (#89)
    by the capstan on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 02:46:41 PM EST
    But I think I have a good argument.  He could go on free behind the bulkhead or squashed under the seat.  But I prefer to pay for his seat and attach him to the seat belt.  If they won't go with that, I'd drive to Atlanta, put him on the Pet Airway, and fly whereever (after going thru the scanner.)  It would be helpful to have him in the airport cause carrying my stuff (not to mention a crate) really hurts.  I barely get by using wheels.

    They let the dog sit in a seat??? (none / 0) (#90)
    by jbindc on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 02:50:25 PM EST
    Don't know yet-- (none / 0) (#91)
    by the capstan on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 03:24:58 PM EST
    If it is paid for, and if he's by the window, why not?  If he were attached to the seat belt, there'd be less chance of his becoming a missle than if he were just lying on the floor.  Anyone allergic would be moved, I suppose (he is a service dog who could come on anyway).

    The whole point of attaching his car harness to my car seat belt is to prevent his being a missle.


    Well (none / 0) (#93)
    by jbindc on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 04:50:01 PM EST
    I understand the need for a service dog that it might be necessary, but as someone who is allergic to animals, the thought of an animal seating near me or as the previous occupant of a seat I take on the next flight, the thought just grosses me out. I've been on a plane where the person next to me brought a dog and stuck him under the seat and it was the longest two hour flight I've ever had - couldn't wait to get home and throw my clothes in the wash and take a shower.  Blech.

    That I can understand.... (none / 0) (#94)
    by the capstan on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 05:27:02 PM EST
    That's why at home I never take him with me to a restaurant, movie, etc.--places it would be hard to get away from the dog.  But obviously service dogs do travel on planes, etc., and people who are allergic need to be accomodated away from the dog (the dogs are usually put in bulkhead seats only).  And I do not plan to put my dog on a plane unless there is no alternative (by that time, driving will not be possible).

    As to the condition of the seat, I always have covers for chairs, etc.  But like most service dogs, mine lives inside the house.  I grew up with the saying, "Lie down with dogs; get up with fleas," but there are no fleas (I'm allergic) and even a white sheet stays clean under him.

    If you are ever stuck by a dog again, get the stewardess to ask someone to change seats with you.  Some folks, like me, would prefer a dog neighbor to some of the human type.


    The enhanced patdowns should have (none / 0) (#47)
    by oculus on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 10:21:51 AM EST
    started the day after Christmas 2009.  

    no, no, no! (5.00 / 3) (#48)
    by nycstray on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 10:26:28 AM EST
    how could they justify the $canners if they did that?!

    Travelling (none / 0) (#37)
    by CST on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 09:53:58 AM EST
    sucks, but at the same time, I love going places.
    I don't think I could ever quit going places.

    When travelling the east coast my preferred method is train, but the bus is just so darn cheap.  But there's nothing like being able to get up and walk around during a trip, and stop by the bar.  

    I hate flying.  I always have one ear clogged until I wake up the day after - just one, so there's this weird background noise in my head for an entire day.  Not to mention hassles of security, luggage, etc...  Airport bars are the best though.  And planes get me to where I really wanna be.

    Where are our resident grammarians (none / 0) (#50)
    by oculus on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 10:36:21 AM EST
    this a.m.?  "Their" should read "they're."

    "A beautiful, peaceful, 3 hour drive"? (none / 0) (#60)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 11:19:18 AM EST
    Man, you must drive to Aspen and back at some really off-peak hours!  I'll give you the beautiful part (we're certainly lucky to live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth), but the peaceful, 3 hour drive?--I haven't had that experience in probably 20 years or so.  

    Between there being simply so much more traffic than I-70 was designed to handle, the flatlanders with absolutely no concept of mountain driving, the constant construction in the summer and white knuckle conditions in the Winter, I feel good if I can do the drive in 4 or 5 hours.  

    Give me a high speed train, please!!!  And while we're at it, how about one along the Front Range from Cheyenne to Santa Fe...

    There is a new train from Alb. to Santa Fe. (none / 0) (#62)
    by oculus on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 11:26:24 AM EST
    But the train doesn't go to Alb. airport (or the Santa Fe Opera!).

    here on the east coast (none / 0) (#67)
    by CST on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 11:40:34 AM EST
    we have the train.  Now if only we could get the track...

    Most beautiful place I've ever driven was through the hills of West Virginia.  I can imagine Colorodo must be like that on steroids.

    Peaceful is a state of mind though, not a state of traffic :)  Music you can belt to usually helps.  I find for the worst traffic - Radiohead Kid A can be quite soothing.


    A good audio book goes a long way (none / 0) (#68)
    by oculus on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 11:42:15 AM EST
    in traffic.

    I haven't checked in awhile.. (none / 0) (#72)
    by kdog on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 12:09:15 PM EST
    but whenever I looked at rail alternatives the price was ridiculous...has Amtrak become more price competitive with the airlines recently?

    you can get deals (none / 0) (#75)
    by CST on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 12:15:23 PM EST
    sometimes if you book well enough in advance.  But yea, in general for Bos/NY it's in a similar price range as flying (flying from Bos to NY is pretty cheap).

    For Boston to NY though, if I had to pick between a 3.5 hour train ride (Acela) or even a regular 4.5 hour train ride, especially if I'm staying in Manhattan - I might choose that over a 45 min flight + another 45 min for security/check-in + 1.5 hrs to get to/from the airport - the train sounds like a pretty good deal considering the lack of hassle.

    Of course, when you throw a $15-$20 bus in the mix, this whole conversation becomes a bit different.


    Seems like you could drive door-to-door (none / 0) (#77)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 12:26:27 PM EST
    faster than you could by flying.

    maybe at (5.00 / 1) (#80)
    by CST on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 12:36:11 PM EST
    11:00 AM on a wednesday.

    Any time other than that and there will be heavy traffic and/or construction happening in that corridor.  The east coast corridor is one of the most congested routes in the country - if not the most.  There is a reason we have high speed trains and no one else does.

    Also, between gas and tolls, driving isn't necessarily that cheap.


    ya, fair enough. (none / 0) (#84)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 12:52:21 PM EST
    Up to a few years ago I would make back-and-forth trips from NJ to MA via the Merritt Pkwy several times a year, and that usually wasn't such a bad trip.

    My brother still drives Boston to NJ pretty regularly, of course that's different than going to Manhattan.

    All of the tunnels and bridges to Manhattan are horrible, pretty much at any time other than late at night. Boston during rush hour is certainly no treat either.

    Out here in Cali I don't even think about flying if the drive is less than about 5-6 hours. Unless there is something really unusual about the trip it's almost surely faster door-to-door than flying.


    I use to drive down (none / 0) (#86)
    by CST on Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 01:11:04 PM EST
    (or take the bus) to NY about every other weekend for a few years.  I don't think it ever took less than 4 hours, and more than once it took over 6.  Average was about 5.

    Surprisingly, it was usually just as bad Sunday night as it was Friday night, because that's when they would do construction on the highways.

    The problem is there is no one bad "spot" on that route.  You can get stuck in CT, NY, MA, RI, take your pick.

    I think for me it also became one of those trips I did so much I began to despise it.  So now that I don't go nearly as often I tend to fly or take the train - because I can.