Archive for the ‘tips’ Tag

05-28-2014 – Flying the Unfriendly Skies   9 comments

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I love passing along information that will possibly help some of you travelers out there in making your vacation or long weekend trips worth doing.  I’ve just spent the Memorial Day weekend in Dallas and it was one of the best holidays ever. There always seems to be a few bothersome  issues when traveling which tend to gripe my ass and that’s the topic for today’s discussion.

I really only have one travelers tip for you based on my recent travels.  Never fly the freaking friendly skies of United because believe me they’re not that damn friendly.  United Airlines sucks and I intend to spell out the entire nightmare they put me and a few hundred of my fellow travelers through on Tuesday afternoon, Tuesday night, Wednesday’s wee hours of the morning and into Wednesday afternoon.

My trip began perfectly with a flight to O’Hare in Chicago last Friday, on time and no problems to complain about.  I was filled with holiday cheer and was having good thoughts about the entire world and everyone in it.  That lasted approximately two and a half hours until the United Airlines curse began.  I was due to land at Dallas/Fort-Worth at 11:15 pm and my ride was waiting patiently for me. Honest, he really had nothing better to do than to waste his time waiting for United to get their act together.  Finally after some typical airline BS I arrived in Dallas late.  Being the forgiving soul that I am I cursed quietly under my breath and just let it go. I really do hate to be forced into any situation being controlled by any airlines but since it’s one of those times when they have you by the cojones , you’re screwed.

My holiday weekend was terrific with barbecues, tacos, and smoked steak headlining the menus.  Unfortunately the fun had to end and as we drove to the airport for my return home I began to have premonitions of the coming disaster.  As we flew out of Dallas a storm front arrived and eventually extended all the way to Dulles in Washington making for a really bumpy ride. We landed just ahead of the front and I had only thirty minutes  to make my connection for the second leg of my journey to Maine because we arrived a little late.

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United in their indisputable logic required me to run like O.J. Simpson across the terminal, jump into a shuttle bus to  reach another terminal where I arrived out of breath and barely made the flight. All of us cattle herded ourselves into a small version of the Boeing 707 that held approximately a hundred idiots like me.  Starting out the steward had difficulty making his safety announcements because his microphone appeared to have a loose wire of some sort.  It was screeching from the feedback so loud no-one could understand him.  Then the pilot announced a fan equipment failure and a half hour delay.  That delay caused us to miss our take off window before the storms hit and we then had to sit through a wall of thunderstorms trapping us on the tarmac.  Two hot and sweaty hours later the pilot tells us the flight has been cancelled because of other maintenance issues. 

We were directed back to the terminal into the supposedly capable hands of the oxymoronic "Customer Service" crew.  They herded us into a line of almost two hundred other people and offered only three Customer Service agents to handle all of our problems.  As we waited endlessly in that line they announced we should call 1-800-UNITED1 for additional ticketing help. 

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To make a long story short the morons had me on hold for one hour before I got to talk to a human being who then told me there were no flights to Portland until Thursday with very few seats available on them. He then passed me along to another so called expert who  put me on hold again.  My phone ran out of power at that point and I was forced to stand around for another hour in that line to get help from their three overwrought agents.  I felt bad for them but unfortunately this nightmare was about me. Also during that time my luggage, a small carryon that I had been forced to bag check in Dallas, had been sent into the black hole that is the United baggage claim system and disappeared.

Their first recommendation when I reached an agent was  that I upgrade to a first-class ticket for an additional $226.00 and they could get me on a flight to Boston within the hour. Then I could rent a car and drive the rest of the way to Maine at my expense of course. I won’t repeat exactly what I said  because it was extremely rude and crude. Lets just say that agent immediately understood I wasn’t interested.

I’d like to take a moment here to thank the lovely and friendly blonde lady from Yarmouth, Maine whose name I never got. She was sweet and calm and kept me from erupting into a full blown maniacal rant while we stood in that line. As I promised her, I have nothing but nice things to say about her. I told her about this blog and she  was worried I might say something derogatory.

I strong armed that United agents into finding me a flight on another carrier, US Airways, but I had to shuttle across Washington DC  to Reagan National Airport ($30.00 for a fifteen minute ride) and arrived there at midnight.  I should also tell you that United refused any compensation to any of the travelers even though most were forced to get motel rooms that averaged $150.00 a night (I wasn’t one of them to be sure). They claimed the cancellations were totally due to the weather and never mentioned any of the maintenance issues we’d been told about by our pilot.  Maintenance issues require them to compensate travelers so I wasn’t all that surprised when they didn’t hesitate to screw us all.  A bunch of lying, uncaring, arrogant assholes to categorize them as nicely as possible.

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I have to tell you that I had a lovely night sleeping on the floor of the terminal at Reagan National airport with eighty of my now closest friends who also refused to be coerced into paying out of pocket for motel rooms.  I finally flew home to Portland today with US Airways and arrived at three o’clock this afternoon. Along with all of the other BS, I lost my Kindle Reader as I was scurrying around  trying to get  home. I hadn’t had a decent meal for thirty hours and I had the pungent aroma of a disgusting farm animal or so I was told by my better-half when she picked me up.

Thanks for nothing United Airlines.  May you and your entire operation rot in hell.  You’ll never see me again.

05-16-2013   2 comments

After today I came to truly understand why I’d never have made a very good farmer.  It’s one of the hardest working careers someone could possibly pursue. I was advised by my nursery owning friend that the final fear of frost had finally passed and now I’m free to begin planting my garden.  I’ve been waiting patiently for this day for weeks which should explain just how stupid I can be.

While my garden is not a full fledged farm, it still requires a great deal of work and attention to be successful. My preparations for this summers garden started last Fall when I composted the entire garden.  It’s continued until today with making the decisions on what will be grown, how much to plant, where to plant, and when to plant.  I purchased the majority of the plants early but it was too cold to plant them.  I’ve had them stored in a cold frame for almost two weeks until the fear of frost had passed.

I started my day today by planting kale, spinach, beets, kohlrabi, and a selection of new herbs.  For the second year I’ve been forced to replace a number of herb plants that didn’t survive the winter.  It’s frustrating as hell but it’s something I’ve learned to live with.  I added thyme, lime basil, dill, cilantro, rosemary, and curry to the already existing plants.  The herb garden is now complete for this year and I hope I can harvest enough this Fall to get us through next winter.

After having a quick lunch I began planting the remaining plants I’ve been nursing along for all these weeks.  I planted my zucchini, yellow squash, and pickling cucumbers.  A few years ago I picked up a tip from an old gardener on how to grow these types of plants.  He explained that when planting just place a partially crushed hard boiled egg a few inches beneath each plant to provide extra nourishment during the early growth weeks.  I tried it for the first time last year with excellent results.  I grew a number of plants with eggs and an equal number and type without.  There was a marked difference in the size of the plants with eggs as well as the amount of squash, cucumbers, and zucchini s they produced.

After completing the planting I watered everything by hand to help them get established.  I then hooked up the sprinkler system and tested it.  As always problems arise at the worst times.  One of the sprinkler sections refused to work requiring another hour of my time to repair it.  One last job was to de-slug the garden.  Our worst problem here are slugs that can be really destructive if not properly controlled.  I spread a sufficient amount of pellets around each plant to begin the battle for this year.  I’ll be forced to do this at least three more times this growing season to keep those damn slugs under control.

Water every day, try to chase away the deer, rabbits, and other creatures at night and maybe the garden will be a success.  Expect the worst and hope for the best.  I couldn’t even begin to understand how farmers with hundreds of acres ever get all of their work done but I’m glad they do.

Hopefully after today I can sit on my deck for a few months and watch everything grow.  Then it will be time to harvest all the goodies and prepare the garden for next year.