IN MY OPINION
THE TOOTHPASTE TERRORIST
16 February 2007
It used to be so simple to go on a little weekend jaunt. You packed a bag, threw it in the car, started the engine and off you went. Your friends went to the airport with you and saw you out to the plane. They stood and watched while your plane took off.
I sometimes miss those happy days.
The morning started with a headache, and then a frantic attempt to finish transcribing the interview I wanted to work on while we were down in Santa Barbara.
I finished the interview and got it saved to an SD disk so I could transfer to the new computer. I have to admit that I thought long and hard about taking this computer on a shake-down cruise. I hadn't had a chance to really work with it; I didn't feel comfortable with it; I wasn't sure I could use it on the road, but having it in Santa Barbara would give me the luxury of actually learning about the machine and so I took a deep breath, removed the old laptop from the computer case, put in the shiny new one and hoped for the best. We would only be gone 4 days, so even if it didn't work, it wouldn't be that bad.
Next I raced off to Dixon, about a 30 minute round trip, including getting the dogs all settled at the kennel. Sheila must really like Alan's Canine. She started getting all excited when we made the turn onto the road where the kennel is. I parked in the parking lot and got out, leaving the dogs behind, as instructed, and, fortunately, taking my car keys with me. When Lizzie managed to lock the car doors, I was very glad I had the keys in my hand!
Raced back home, took a quick shower, powered up Walt's iPod, and packed my suitcase. Then came gathering "the stuff" -- his iPod, my iPod, 2 cameras, the new computer the cell phones, and all the cords that went to all of the electronic gadgetry. I was looking forward to the flight because I had a lot of podcast catching up to do and this would give me a chance to just sit for an hour and listen to podcasts and watch vlog entries, something I haven't done in a long time.
The first problem was when we got to the airport and the garage directly across from the terminal was full. We had to park in Outer Mongolia, but Outer Mongolia was also almost full, so we had to parked on the unpaved section of Outer Mongolia. I didn't see any of those little bus stations anywhere near. I was starting not to be a happy camper.
Walt and I have opposite philosophies of travel. Long ago, I decided to just accept that 'travel day' was going to be a day from Hell and make the most of it. Some travel days are more hellish than others, but they are ALL days from hell. When things start going wrong, I don't get angry or complain, I just get very quiet and resigned and sigh a lot.
Walt, on the other hand, considers travel days wonderful, exciting, something new...we're going somewhere and he's just so happy he can hardly stand it...and when he knows that I'm NOT happy, he becomes even more perky, this "cheer up, aren't we having FUN" attitude that drives me nuts. We don't say anything about our different ways of handling travel, but that's pretty much the way it goes. He wants to walk everywhere and run when possible, I want to travel from bench to bench. He slows his pace to match mine and then I feel guilty because I'm a fat slob who is slowing him down and putting a crimp in his fun.
Yes, travel days are great fun.
So we finally find a bus and get on it. By now I have realized that the new computer is just as heavy as the old one. For YEARS, I have been telliing myself that it will be so nice to have a new computer because the old one is Sooooo heavy. Of course the case also comes with a bazillion cords and peripherals, but it's heavy. Perky Walt says he will carry the computer. 'Cause we're going on a trip and he is just so happy! and he's a good guy who is determined to cheer me out of my funk. I determine to stay funked because it's travel days and travel days are hell.
Even with him carrying the computer, my suitcase is heavy, I whine to myself, but I don't complain because I am a good soldier who doesn't want to ruin Walt's good time.
They lie, you know, in those airports. Or they try to lead you into a sense of complacency. As you enter the security area there is a big blue sign, with big white friendly high-def letters which says "WELCOME!!!"
The next thing you see is a poster of all the known terrorists that they are looking for, next to a sign that tells you that you can't bring a sword or a blunderbuss or a knife or a baseball bat on the plane. Then comes the lists of all the forbidden liquids. And then there is the sign about all the allowed liquids, along with a big bin where you can throw away all of your not-permitted items that you forgot to leave at home. These signs are to keep you entertained while you shuffle up and down thru the maze waiting until it's your turn to be examined and determined whether you will be permitted to travel on the flight.
I'm trying to juggle a suitcase, a purse, two cameras, a computer that has to be removed from its case, and my shoes which must be removed and get them onto the conveyor belt in timely fashion because there is a guy who is yelling at me to hurry up, and then yells at me because bring my ID when he doesn't need my ID but he does need my boarding pass and hurry it up, will you?
I took this same suitcase with me when I went to my mother's. In fact, I only half unpacked it. When I got to her house, I realized I had forgotten to bring toothbrush and toothpaste, so I went out and bought some, and left them there at her house when I came home, because I knew I would be back.
The green suitcase slips through the conveyor belt.
"WHOSE SUITCASE IS THIS ONE?" Brunhilda asks.
"Mine," I say meekly, wondering which of my pairs of grannie panties or t-shirts caused her to do a double take.
"Let's just see what you have in here, young lady," says this woman who looks to be younger than David. She opens the suitcase and there it is: the toothpaste I thought I hadn't brought to my mother's. It's in a pocket of the suitcase I forgot was there. "A-HA!" she cries. "Too big to go through security, young lady," this kid tells me, looking me over to see what other contraband I might be trying to conceal. She offers me the option of going back downstairs and checking the bag in and then going through the whole rigmarole again, or tossing the toothpaste. The $8 tube of toothpaste is tossed and I slink away from the exam table, just glad that she is going to let me get into the boarding area.
Finally we are on the plane. It's not even full, and the flight attendant is entertaining. It will be a good flight. I settle in, pull out my iPod when they tell me that it's OK, select a vlog entry to watch, and the screen turns black. I assume that I have not charged the thing, though I was sure it had a full charge when I left home. But that's OK. I have a back up book and I read almost all of an old Dean Koontz on the flight down. It is a beautiful flight, the air is clean and you can see Yosemite clearly. The air at Burbank is more clean than I've seen it in a long time.
We walk to Inner Mongolia to pick up our car, a PT Cruiser, which is kind of fun, and we drive up to Santa Barbara (while I finish my book, because not only is my iPod dead, but even if it was, there is no tape deck in the car, so we can't play the iPod through the radio anyway, as I had hoped to do.)
We get to Alice Nan's. She and her husband are out at a Dolly Parton concert. We make ourselves at home and I decide to charge the iPod, and that is when I discover that it wasn't a black screen after all, it was the blue screen of death. It appears to have crashed and I have a blue screen, but can't turn the thing off, can't go to the previous menu. Nada. And no, the lock is not on.
We go out and find a lovely Italian place where we have a lovely Italian dinner and then it's time to get out the computer and Set Up AOL. Only AOL won't set up. It won't connect to pick up contact phone numbers. It gives me a tech support number and an error code to help decipher the problem, but tech support is all computerized and I talk to a computerized voice which doesn't know about error codes. After 20 minutes, I realize that it is not going to be a solvable problem and I am kicking myself for leaving the old laptop at home.
So it is now 9 p.m. Walt is sawing logs on the couch (which will be my bed). I've written this, but I don't have a clue how I'm going to post it and even if I find a computer, will I be able to transfer it to the computer so I can put it in a journal entry? I'm going to try the computer room at the assisted living facility where Walt's mother lives. There is also a CompUSA and an Apple store nearby where I might be able to get some assistance, but since both machines were purchased in/around Davis I don't know if I can get help here.
It's my birthday weekend and it's not going quite as I had hoped. We don't even know if the radio show we have come down here to see will be able to broadcast because the cast had to come here from Boston and last we heard, airport conditions were iffy.
And worst of all, I have no toothpaste.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
This is entry #2514