How To Keep Yourself Entertained At The Airport

missed-flight-300x200Let’s face it, at one point in time in the next year you will be joining the throngs of people standing in a decade’s long line waiting for the three TSA Agents who are actually working to finish tearing apart the old lady’s handbag so you can have your naked body imaged and saved for all posterity. Once that ordeal is complete you file with the rest of the herd to your gate and then sit and wait because the airline told you to show up two hours early. Unless you are an aviation junkie–of which I am a proud member… as I type this I am listening to ATC conversations between Denver Tower and incoming and departing flights–you are will inevitably become bored to death and possibly miss your flight due to your unconscious boredom.

And then, just when you think you will be called to get into a thin, aluminum tube for a few hours, they tell you that your flight has been delayed, or worse yet, cancelled. Now what?

Unless you are in Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport with its Rijksmuseum where you canHong-Kong-Airport-golf peruse works by Rembrandt and Van Gogh, or Hong Kong International with its PGA regulation 9-hole golf course, or Singapore Changi and its two-story butterfly grotto, or Seoul Incheon where you can dress in traditional Korean garb or learn about about Korean culture at the UNESCO artifact museum, you are probably stuck in one of the other thousand airports that are dank, dull, concrete structures that reek of desperation and sadness. And then there’s La Guardia.

So, what are you supposed to do? Here are a few suggestions to make your next trip a bit more entertaining.

1. Look For Spies

get_smart-tvDespite all the cyber espionage that is going on around the world, there is still a need for boots on the ground. And these people have to get from place to place, too! Put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and stroll the concourse. Now, these people won’t be dressed in dark black trench coats with dark green Ray Bans over their eyes. Their government ids will be secreted within special pouches in their clothing. This will make it a bit more difficult to find them since they will be dressed like everyone else. However, you can spot some subtle differences between a regular traveler and a spy. Here are a few tips to help you be more successful:

  1. They’ll be more cautious about their surroundings. They may even be sitting alone.
  2. Are they exceptionally fit for someone their age? Do their hands show signs of fighting recently?
  3. Do they look too much like a tourist? It’s one thing to try to fit into your surroundings, but another to do so to the point of standing out.
  4. Are they traveling light? Most spies will have equipment waiting for them at their op-site.

Once you found the spy, what should you do?

Your civic duty, of course!

You should follow them. Follow them into Starbucks. Follow them into the bathroom. Sit behind them at the gate area. Make sure they know that you, a simple schmuck, were able to blow their cover.

2. Sit and listen to the shoeshine guys

These will be the cheeriest, happiest people you will see in an airport since the government did away with meeting your family at the gate. They greet every person who sidles up to their wooden and leather station with a hearty “Hello!” or “Glad to see you!” They take silence or grunts from the businessmen who plop themselves down on the seat and hide themselves behind a newspaper or magazine with the same innocent happiness a child has when you put desert in front of them.

And then the shoeshine guy goes about spit-shining and polishing expensive leather shoes scuffed from inconsiderate suitcases and narrow aircraft aisles and tells a story. Most of the time it falls on deaf ears as the men sitting on the worn leather seats fade into their own world. But the shoes, they listen. They hear a story about the time when the shoeshine guy was on patrol near Dak To and his unit stumbled upon a group of North Vietnamese soldiers withdrawing across the border. Those shoes hear about how his daughter is getting ready for prom and how the he doesn’t trust the boyfriend as far as he can throw him. But daddy’s girl is growing up and his wife says he needs to trust her. He can’t imagine letting her go away to college, and then walking her down the aisle. He tells them about his cousin in New Orleans who plays in a little jazz group and how Katrina nearly wiped out the club. But, he says with a boast, jazz survives anything. Every shoe gets a story whether the owner wants one or not.

Be the shoe.

3. Social deviance

Society has a set of norms that we all follow. Most are ones that we can live with. For example, don’t pick your nose then shake someone’s hand. The group-held “norms” help shape the society in which we live. We see them everyday from the handshake at the end clip_image001_thumbof a sports match to the thank you cards you write after you receive gifts. These are the unspoken guidelines that help society move from day to day and give us, the peasants, an understanding of how we should behave in certain environments. Airports have their own strict set of social norms and that makes them the best place to be a little deviant. Now, be careful with deviance. Criminal behavior is considered deviant and we wouldn’t want you doing anything that prevents you from getting to grandma’s house. Well, maybe in some cases. So, here are a few suggestions for deviating from the norm in the airport:

  1. Walk an imaginary pet through the concourse.
  2. Go into the restroom, put all your clothing on backwards, return to the concourse and walk backwards going against the flow of pedestrian traffic, and, if possible, use the “wrong” moving sidewalk.
  3. Watch the airport television and laugh at your own show or cheer as though your favorite sports team just scored.
  4. Follow something incredibly amazing (though completely imaginary) along the ceiling.
  5. Strike up a conversation with the person in the bathroom stall next to you.
  6. Be polite. Say “hi” to people. Wish strangers a wonderful trip. Be excited for them. Stand at the gate area and welcome people to the airport, and if it is your hometown to your wonderful city and state.

Just as a side note, one of the biggest social norms Americans have are their personal space bubbles. I don’t suggest testing these invisible boundaries lest you find yourself in a small, white room with a flickering fluorescent light and two security agents with gloves on their hands telling you to lean over and relax.

4. Play hide and seek

Though it might seem like the endless rows of uncomfortable leather-like chairs would make for a rousing game of duck, duck, goose! people these days just don’t like being pat on the head like we did when we were children. While it may seem that hide and seek would belong under the social deviance section, this version of the game is not so much deviant as it is slight of hand.

The trick here is to get people to notice you. No. You shouldn’t jump up and down and shout that you have a bomb or that you see little gremlins on the wings of the airplane. Remember those gloved agents? The goal here is to be subtle. Casually stroll the boarding area; feign looking for a nice seat to stack your mountain of carry-on luggage upon. Make eye contact with a few people. Get them to follow you with their eyes. Get into their mind. They probably won’t follow you for long, but if you’ve done your job you’ve piqued their interest and they’ll look for you again. Once you have the attention of one, two, and, if you are real good, dozens your goal is to then disappear from sight. I would suggest finding a few hiding places before you begin. Make sure that you will be able to see the “seekers” from hiding place. Once out of sight, watch as they sit in a confused wonderment, maybe even a slight panic, as you mysteriously vanish from the waiting area.

5. Ruin someone else’s flight

Maneuvering into your seat these days is like trying to get your hips into a toddler’s swing on the playground. And really, airlines haven’t changed the seat all that much from the 1970s. They were 18 inches then, 17 inches now. What’s changed is our waist size and that dastardly thing called seat-pitch–the distance from any one spot on the seat in front of you to that exact spot on your seat. In the ’70s that distance was an average of 35 inches. In today’s modern coach, that distance has shrunk to 31 inches. Don’t think that four inches matters? The average seat-pitch in a stadium style theatre is 37.5 inches. Plenty of room to cross your legs. But this isn’t about seat-pitch or our growing butt sizes.

This is about they way people travel.

Option 1: You can earn the title of Mr./Mrs. Dastardly Evil.

They are everywhere in the airport. The wedding party heading out to a hedonistic bachelor/ette party, most likely in Las Vegas. The Spring Break group heading to Mexico or Florida or Texas. The buddies heading out for a weekend golf trip. And what do all these groups have in common? They are looking to party. Help them get started. Buy them round after round at the pub. Ply them with liquor. Odds are they will either…

  1. Be down right annoying during the entire flight, or
  2. Cause the flight to be delayed or, if the flight makes it out onto the taxiways, have to return to the gate. The is the evil part in all this is that you are messing with over one hundred other travel itineraries, and that is only for that flight. You are also impacting the people at the next airport and so on.

Option 2: Be the optimist

For some reason we love to hate everything. “Oh, you believe the opposite of me? Well, you are wrong and I hate you.” We champion mediocrity–see the Kardashians, Miley Cyrus, et all–and then grouse that mediocrity surrounds us. We demand cheap products, but sue because of defects and complain because “we deserve caviar for chicken egg prices.” We are, each and everyone of us, precious in our own worlds. We tear down those who have succeeded where we have failed, but we don’t look to see what we could do to be successful. And these are your fellow travelers.

Nothing ruins a sour mood better than an overly positive person. When the person lugging a mattress-sized carry-on launches into a tirade with the gate agent because they have to gate check the infernal beast, quietly offer to carry their haul down the jetway to the aircraft for them. When the person sitting next to sourly accepts the tiny bag of peanuts and sip-sized soda, politely remind them that a third of the population of the Sudan is facing starvation right now and would gladly accept the food presented them. Remind them that their personal desire to fly the cheapest fare possible has made this situation possible. When they turn around and throw “But the CEO is a greedy, corporate slug.” Nod knowingly and remind them they could have driven. When they say they won’t support the oil and gas monstrosity, give them the option of walking instead. Be positive and find solutions to their litany of issues, because the days of flying with happy people who dress up for the occasion are long gone. Find joy in the dreariness of the airport. Relish in child-like excitement of flight as though it was the first time you were going to soar above our great nation.

6. Build a fort

Nearly every child in America has had the opportunity to build their own little fort out of furniture and sheets. Imagine the creations you can think of while sitting bored at the airport. Claim a few rows of unused seats and start building. You can use your rolling carry-ons as sliding doors, coats can be used as “tent” covers, and your remaining carry-ons can be stacked up to serve as your throne.

7. Have fun with your phone

There are a couple of things you can do here.

Option 1: Set up your own hotspot wifi. If your phone allows for a wifi hotspot (tether) create a wifi for the people in your waiting area. Give it some creative name. I’ve included a few for you here:

  • NSAEavesdropper.exe
  • TouristsGoHome
  • IP freely
  • Don’t Get On That Plane
  • Unsecured Virus Infected WiFi
  • Get Your Own WiFi
  • Amish LANd

Option 2: Take your phone and stand near the windows that overlook the ramp area. Begin an intense phone conversation with no one. If you are a guy, you could say things like: “But it was supposed to be his baby!” or “No! She thinks I’m going on a business trip, I promise!” If you are a girl, you could say things like: “Oh my God! Seriously, how much wax could they possibly need!” or “It was so sad. He thought it was a billy club, but it was more like a toothpick.”

So, next time you find yourself in one of the world’s most depressing airports, remember, there are always things you can do to keep yourself entertained.

Happy flying!

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Released Taliban Will Become Drone Targets

cia-drone-killing-program-in-pakistan-winding-down-1401354264-6536Washington D.C.–Hoping to counter quick criticism of the Afghans for Bergdahl trade, a senior officer with the CIA’s Drone program leaked information that these Afghanis would become targets for the U.S. Drone operations. Remaining anonymous because he wasn’t officially allowed to speak to the operational plans, the agent said, “We’ve had nearly twelve years to sneak tracking devices into the rear ends of these Afghanis. We know that they will quickly return to their previous networks. Our hope if that once they reach Qatar, they will reach out to high level terrorists.” When asked if the President would still continue the drone attacks in the face of mounting criticism from civil rights groups, to Americans, to Amnesty International which has said that some of the attacks could amount to war crimes, the agent said, “The President doesn’t care what we do. We have carte blanche to wage war as we see fit. Plausible deniability if the modus operandi of this Administration; it is why the President is always out fundraising.” The CIA agent also stated that the Administration wouldn’t rule out using the drones in Qatar “if that leads to the most kills.”

My Take On College Football and Bowl Games

Thought I’d make my 100th post something totally different. If I offend anyone, um, just laugh for once today, k?

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Why yes, yes I do.

I sit at home during the holidays and watch college football. Every game.

Thank you for asking.

It is college football season, in case you don’t follow college football or you happen to live in the same hole that Hussein was found in.

There are many people complaining–from sport’s bars, to holiday get-together’s, to blogs and message boards–about the plethora of bowl games. Arguments abound on the dilution of games, why a 6 and 6 team should be playing in January, and how ridiculous it is that bowl season starts in early December and ends in mid-January.

I see it differently. Since no one is a loser in this society, and everyone has to get a ribbon, I say let every team play in a bowl.

And, secretly, I am awaiting this year’s “Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl” just so I can watch a collection of two- to three-hundred pound linemen shoving each other around. Oh irony, how I love you.

Here are a few of my suggestions (with sponsors when possible):

Sesame Street/PBS You Rock Bowl

Company headquarters: Arlington, VA

Venue: anytime after the Military Bowl–RFK stadium, but I would go with any city where everyone is a winner! Bay Area? Portland, OR?

Participants: The two teams with the worst records. Both teams get a trophy, every player gets a blue ribbon, and no one gets their feelings hurt because the game must end in a tie.

Adam and Eve French Tickler Bowl

Company headquarters: Hillsborough, NC

Venue: Game could be played somewhere in the Raleigh/Durham area, as North Carolina only has the one bowl–Belk–played in Charlotte.

Participants: Each year Playboy Magazine publishes their list of top party schools. Invite the highest ranked available teams. The goody bags for this bowl game would make every player, even the back-up punter, popular on campus.

Anadrol Pump You Up Bowl

Company headquarters: Alaven Pharmaceutical LLC., Marietta, GA (Though I seriously doubt they’d want to sponsor).

Venue: Best bet, same place as Chik-Fil-A Bowl (Atlanta has the one game).

Participants: ESPN reports that steroids are still rampant in college sports. Find the teams with the biggest, freakish kids on the block and invite them. Can you imagine how many teams would be vying to get into this bowl just for the gift bags?

Sylvan Learning Center IQ Bowl

Company headquarters: Baltimore, MD

Venue: M&T Bank Stadium (Maryland has no bowl games, and when you say M&T quickly it becomes sort of ironic for this bowl)

Participants: Invite the two teams with the lowest graduation rates. Pre-game activities include tutoring and old textbooks with all the important information highlighted.

Lifetime Network Manhater Bowl

Company headquarters: New York City

Venue: Believe it or not, there are no bowl games played in NY. The MetLife Stadium.

Participants: Well, this is going to insult someone, but we’d have to invite the two pansiest teams. I suppose we’d have to give this to the two teams that give up the most points and yards on defense.

norml-bowl

The Affiliated Pot Dispensaries of America Smoke-A-Bowl

Headquarters: None. This bowl is an homage to the Peach, Cotton, Sugar, and Orange bowls where an industry sponsored the game, not a corporation.

Venue: As a thank you to the voters of the states of Colorado and Washington for supporting small businesses, the games will alternate between Boulder/Denver and Seattle.

Participants: If the Rose Bowl can limit their participants to Big and Pac, then the Smoke-A-Bowl will honor teams from Colorado and Washington. However, since the two states only have five division I-A teams, if those teams are taken, then the bowl would be open to teams from other pot liberal states.

U.S. Treasury Department Bailout Bowl

Headquarters: Washington, D.C.

Venue: Anywhere in America. If Citi (recipient of a three-hundred million dollar bailout) could sponsor a bowl, and a major one, the Rose Bowl, until they dropped it in 2010, then why would we need the middle man? Cut to the chase government!

Participants: This bowl goes to the two schools with the worst revenue issues. There are so many colleges and universities saddled with multiple long-term contracts for head coaches–hired/fired–that they could use some government intervention.

OSU-The-U

Association of American Bookies Bowl

Headquarters: Vegas or New Jersey, I would suppose.

Venue: Vegas, of course!

Participants: Since the death penalty handed down on SMU years back, it would appear that more and more teams are getting caught in the act of or accused of bribing potential players, giving “gifts” to players, and getting caught in point shaving rings. Since no one person can be blamed, and it is bad to punish everyone (read Penn State), and though the teams violated laws–state or NCAA– and have been banned from post-season play, we should let these kids play too! This year, the teams would be Ohio State vs. Miami. Not a bad match up really. Future games would include teams banned by the NCAA or the university itself.

Payout: revenue made by the bookies divided in half.

Debt Collectors Introductory Bowl

Headquarters: With so many agencies, it is difficult to just assign one. We’ll wait for a major agency to step forward and sponsor this bowl.

Venue: Anywhere in California since it is the most bankrupt state.

Participants: According to a Yahoo article seventy-eight percent of NFL players are bankrupt or severely in debt within two years of leaving the game. This bowl serves as an introduction between the collectors and the future players/”customers”. Teams invited: the two teams with the highest number of NFL prospect or highest ranked draft picks.

So, there you have it. My new list of bowls that we can add for this season. Now, let’s get to it!

In An Attempt At “Fairness” Lottery Changes Rules

Facing harsh criticism from gamblers and hopefuls alike, the two major lotteries in the United States are changing their rules so that more people win.

“More and more,” Alice Rigsdale, spokeswoman for the Powerball Lottery, said, “We are hearing complaints that too few people win in the lottery. People are becoming disillusioned with the odds and they are starting to pull their money out of lotteries. ‘If I can’t win, why bother trying?’ is what we are hearing.”

“Americans want a sense of ownership,” Richard Gardiner commented. “As president of the American’s for Blue Ribbons, it is my job to make sure that everyone in America feels that they have won! Our organization will not rest until everyone gets exactly what they feel they deserve, whether it is winning lottery money or prizes at the county fairgrounds. America was founded on equality and that’s what we are fighting for now.”

Ms. Rigsdale stated that in the next few months people will see changes to the lottery systems. Powerball numbers will come in sets of three and all a person has to do is match one of those for the Powerball to count. Also, there will be three numbers instead of the tradition five. “People will still pick five numbers, but they only need some combination of three to get prizes.

When asked if this will diminish the payouts, Ms. Rigsdale replied, “Of course it would, but we have secured funding from the Federal government to cover the increased cost of the tickets. One set of numbers will now cost ten dollars. To assist those who live minimal means and cannot afford the increase, we will offer an eight dollar grant, if you will, to help them buy their tickets.”

Mr. Gardiner applauded the move by the lotteries. “This is a great day for Americans,” he said. “Now, no matter how rich or poor you are, educated or not, you will have a greater chance to win something from a lottery ticket. Everyone will feel good about themselves. One day, we hope to get it that everyone wins something every time.”

Sistine Chapel Goes Rogue Elects Its Own Pope

Vatican City–The Sistine Chapel, long suspected of harboring spirits of dead cardinals and bishops, took it upon itself to elect a new pope last night. The few tourists and citizens of Rome who lingered in St. Peter’s Square after the first announcement noticed that the small chimney atop the Sistine Chapel was billowing white smoke. “We were very surprised to see smoke,” Dieter Schmidt, a German-Catholic who’d come to the Vatican with his wife and daughter to greet the new Pope, said. “We are very confused, and were the people with us.”

They weren’t the only ones. A spokesperson for the Vatican, speaking on the condition of anonymity said, “When the smoke was first noticed, we rushed to wake the Cardinals. Everyone ran to the Sistine Chapel. We found it empty.” Rumors swirled that Pope Francis wasn’t truly elected, but the Vatican spokespeople confirmed that he had received the necessary two-thirds vote. Though the details were spartan, it would appear that within the Sistine Chapel senior Cardinals found a charred piece of paper that looks to have been spit out of the fire. Though not confirmed by an official source, the spokesperson said that the name on the paper was that of a fourteen-year-old boy living in Venezuela. “It is all a bit Harry Potterish,” the spokesperson said, referring to the J.K. Rowling novel The Goblet of Fire.

It is uncertain at this time what, if anything, the Church will do about this second Pope, but already fears have started across the internet that the boy will be moved to the Vatican and housed with the new Pope. Fearing a possible public-relations crisis, the Vatican immediately posted via twitter that the Church was going to imposed stiffer punishments on any member of its church committing “vile sins against children.”