Monday, April 30, 2012

Overhead Bins: All By Yourself!

Being a news junkie and all, I read all sorts of stuff besides The New York Times. You really can get a balanced list thanks to the internet and I take full advantage of that. Thanks to the internet, I am a regular over at The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal,  The London Telegraph, Ha'Artez and even Al Jazeera. Clearly, I don't agree with everything in those sheets, but it does help to know what the opposition is thinking.  

Cindy Adams
But I have a confession: I am a devotee of The New York Post. Don't ask me to explain it, other than my father loooovvves The NYP and its slightly right of Attila The Hun politics. I, however, am more of a Page Six kinda girl, although these days wannabe glamorazzi and celebutards are beyond me. (I loved Liz Smith and was devastated when they canned her a few years ago but you can find her in a much better place these days: WoW.) My morning coffee, however, was reserved for Cindy Adams. I always thought Cindy Adams was sharp, funny, witty, urbane...all those New York things I miss being out here in flyover land. At 82, she's amazing. She travels, she writes, she shops, she's everywhere...but she's also turned mean. 

It started a while back with the Duchess of York. And then, for reasons I cannot fathom, she went off on then Kate Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge, and her family. She wrote things that were not nice in the worst possible way. And I'd pretty much stopped reading her column because I don't like mean. 

But I happened to catch her column on Friday...probably because it was about travel, Skies not so friendly. About recent travel experiences, she ranted about flight attendants who would not pick up her carry-on luggage and hoist it into the overhead bin. 

                          This week I made two United flights. To San Jose, Costa Rica, and back. 
                            Despite my difficulty, male cabin attendants ignored my hand-luggage problem. 
                            Each issued the precise phraseology: “I have a bad back.” Neither expanded 
                            that terse statement. Gentlemen passengers came to my rescue.

                            Three crewmen on different flights suffering identically? Explaining the ailment
                             identically? Either geriatric stewards need be retired or they’ve agreed: “Screw 
                             this. We’re not luggage schleppers.”

She went on to describe other adventures on  the road that  made her sound like the original poster child for the ugly American. But it was that luggage thing that got my bungies in a knot. 

Being on the business travel side of the travel business, I rarely side with the airlines but this time, I felt for every person on that plane who had to deal with Madame Adams and her carry on bags. And my professional take on this is Lady, if you can't manage yer own luggage, check it.

Now, for the record, I think charging for luggage is an outrage. You are already paying exorbitant amounts to sit squashed in a sardine can and now, the airlines are charging you for a virtual seat for your bag...unless you wish to risk life and limb of your fellow sardines by bringing your anvil sample case into the cabin. I've watched those things being swung over your head like a kapporah chicken only to be shoved into a bin where the attendant has to slam the door three or four times to make sure that catch catches, thereby preventing said anvil from tumbling out during takeoff.  The next excitement occurs at the end of the flight as everyone crams into the foot wide aisle to get the hell off the plane...but not before attempting to decapitate the nearest unsuspecting person when removing the anvil from the overhead bin.

I can see why flight attendants say they have bad backs to avoid doing this for every little old person who comes aboard schlepping a box o'bricks for the grandchildren, expecting someone else will risk injury to hoist it into the bin. I'm pretty sure enough of them have been hurt doing that to justify saying, "No, I am unable to assist." It might be cheaper to schlep the thing on board, but really, relying on the kindness of strangers?  If you can schlep it through the airport, you should be able to lift it yourself. 

So far, no one's been killed by an anvil falling out of the overhead bin, but eventually it will happen. And when the airline gets sued for huge amounts of cash due to reckless endangerment, attractive nuisance, and wrongful death, then, maybe then, they will rethink this philosophy. 

Once upon a time on Swiss Air

Or, they might decide it's more cost effective to ban carry-on luggage altogether and change those overhead bins into "top berth" sleeper seats. It's not like it's not been done before.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Planes are not the only way to travel. 
There are trains, and sometimes, that's a great alternative. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Five Second News Cycle Ad Nauseum

If you're a news junkie, you have to notice a certain amount of back peddling these days. Seems to me that all those nasty things would be candidates were saying about Mittens the Bore are coming back to bite everyone. Suddenly, he's the hair presumptive and everyone is jostling for position.

That's fine. They should please pick someone and get the rest of the ToonTown Trolley Clowns off the stage. Enough already with the junior high politics and their promises of more pizza at lunch. It's complete and utter bulloney and everyone knows it.

So now, the business of the campaign will start in earnest and this is interesting all by itself. People you thought had been hustled off the stage are suddenly back with bizarre statements in an effort to draw attention to themselves. Sarah Palin's response to the Secret Service InappropriateBehaviorgate clever way to remind us how really out of touch with the real world she is...which is not necessarily a bad thing. Even La Bachmann is appearing on chat shows. What? Suddenly she wants to run for Vice President?

But will this finally bring about a news cycle under control? In our dreams. It’s now open season on anyone who has ever shaken hands with a politician. Bring back Joe the Plumber!

Meanwhile, there’s this quote being attributed to Anne Romney:

“Why should women be paid equal to men? Men have been in the working world a lot longer and deserve to be paid at a higher rate. Heck, I’m a working mom and I’m not paid a dime. I depend on my husband to provide for me and my family, as should most women… and if a woman does work, she should be happy just to be out there in the working world and quit complaining that she’s not making as much as her male counterparts. I mean really, all this wanting to be equal nonsense is going to be detrimental to the future of women everywhere. Who’s going to want to hire a woman, or for that matter, even marry a woman who thinks she is the same, if not better than a man at any job. It’s almost laughable. C’mon now ladies, are you with me on this?” 

The original appear in FREE WOOD POST, a website that bills itself as "News that's almost reliable." You think that would be a big hint? Apparently not. Now, this is the second time in two weeks I've found myself defending Ann Romney. Frankly, I don't like the woman; she comes off as smug and smarmy; not exactly someone I ask over for coffee. But.....

And this is one big, giant butt...

Putting words in her mouth and setting it up to appear as real news is cruel, deceitful, and decidedly not funny. Actually, it meets the definition for both defamation and libel, and the intent is clearly to harm Mrs. Romney. This went beyond the bounds of comedy; it was clear from the presentation of the piece that it was meant to masquerade as a genuine news article. Make fun of the candidates, fine. Make fun of the candidate wives' clothes, fine Who cares? No one. But when you attribute vicious remarks to a woman who is not a candidate, thereby making her somewhat off limits, you have crossed the legal line. Look, I'm all for a good laugh, but there needs to be a line drawn someplace and this may be it.

The truth is that the five second news cycle leaves little time to digest what is happening while creating a voracious appetite for news. And to feed that appetite, every fart is flashed across the globe as a breaking news update. The result is not increased understanding; it's the manufacture of non-news that obfuscates understanding the real issues. Ultimately, this feeds the stupid cycle: people are used to dumbed down crap news that they begin to believe anything said with gravitas by a talking head. How else can you account for people believing FOX NEWS?

And speaking of tv news, last week I wrote a letter to the TODAY show explaining why this viewer, whose addiction to the show began with Dave Garroway and  J. Fred Muggs, has switched to CBS's morning show. I told them I couldn't stand the never-ending Kardashian report. Thank G-d I’m already at work when that horrid hour of Kathy Lee and Hoda Kotb comes on. Talk about brain-dead air! I used to like Ms Kotb back when she was a journalist but aligning herself with that brainless twit has sucked all the credibility out of her. How does she look in the mirror?

I don’t expect an answer from NBC, but I was thinking that if enough people wrote to complain, maybe they’d take it seriously. 

Or not.

Wifely Person Tip o'the Week
Disgusted by what you see on television news? Write a letter.
Word is that letters are taken seriously since people actually have to sit down and write them.

Monday, April 16, 2012

"There's no satisfaction for a man, unless....."

Betty, Bella, and Gloria - 1972
Remember that feminist movement thing in the 60s and 70s?  The one with Bella Abzug and Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem and Simone de Beauvoir? The one that happened so that we could make our own choices? We demanded equality in the workplace. We did not want to be tracked toward being only mommies, teachers and nurses; we wanted to be doctors and lawyers or, as in my case, directors. A lot of us were out there blazing trails. Some did it with flair, panache and publicity; others did it quietly, from underneath like tulips emerging in the spring. We believed we were making a difference and that future generations of women would not have to struggle to make those choices.

Or not.

When I heard Hilary Rosen’s remarks, I was totally offended.  I’m no fan of either Romney, but Ms Rosen was dead wrong in her comment about “never worked a day in her life.” Since she was not party to the discussions about what Mrs. Romney would or would not do, Ms Rosen has nothing to say on the subject.

Equally offensive was Michele (the Moron) Bachman’s comment:
           “One thing I know is when women are home full-time they have 
            a better pulse on the economy than probably their husband has.”

She claims she meant that women see prices rise first because they’re traditional grocery shoppers, but she damned an entire segment of the population with a reference as judgmental as Ms. Rosen’s.

Both of these women just fired unnecessary salvos right at the sisterhood. We fought those battles so women could choose one, the other, or even both. But the point is, we do get to choose...and both those women denigrated our choices no matter what they are.

I think what pisses me off most is that millions of women are going about their daily business working in jobs, getting paychecks, feeding their families, in addition to all the things we used to do when we were stay-at-home-ladies without having decreed more hours in the day. The expectation is that we simply shoulder the increased burden.

And we do. We do it because not working is not always an option. We look at what we do, take pride in what we do, and know that we’re setting a positive example for the women who will come after us….much the same way Betty and Bella, Gloria and Simone did when we were first making those waves. 

But it’s becoming increasingly clear that there is a growing political movement that would quash the gains we have made. Candidates Perry, Santorum, and Romney stood behind their podia and made pronouncements that would limit the choices women have. They would penalize us for having that which they don’t have: a uterus. We can grow new life and they cannot. That, dear readers, is not penis envy; it’s uterus envy. And we’re on to them.

Now, who hasn’t heard of LYSISTRATA? This is a little play written about 2500 years ago by a Greek guy named Aristophanes. In the play, the women want the interminable Peloponnesian War to stop. So when other methodologies fail to convince the guys running the war to knock it off, Lysistrata convinces the women to do what comes naturally: cut the menfolk off in the bedroom to force them to negotiate for peace.

If our male politicians want to use our sex against us, I would suggest that we follow Lysistrata’s example. If they want to inhibit access to birth control, we inhibit access to the birth canal.  If they want to limit our choices of what we can do with our bodies, well, I suggest we limit what they can do with theirs.

And to be honest, it isn't just about the  bedroom; it's about not rolling over and playing dead while these guys threaten everything we've held dear as a society. They are threatening social justice in ways that 20 year ago we would've thought impossible. The vast majority of the programs they threaten to cut target women and children, as well as our ability to care for our families. 

War has indeed been declared against the gender that makes up approximately 50.8% of the US population. Either we stand together as women against this attempt to drag the country back to the 19th century, or we should all start getting fitted for whalebone corsets. You know, of course, if they win, whalebone will suddenly become available…

Get my drift?

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
There's no satisfaction for a man, unless the woman shares it.
                                                                                               c. 411 B.C.E

Monday, April 9, 2012

Dayenu! Part 2 - Enough is Enough

Well, all my plans for a controlled, scheduled, calm changeover to Passover went up in smoke..or rather no smoke last week. 

The installers arrived Wednesday  morning with a the new cooktop and in a matter or minutes determined that it wouldn't cover the hole in the counter. Now, all things being equal, if I had not given the sales dweeb the measurements of the hole AND the old cook top, I would have to hold myself responsible. But I did give him the exact measurement of the old cook top and said that the hole was within a half inch of that figure. I had looked underneath, and if you want to know, I was off by about quarter of an inch on the hole. It was a little smaller than my estimate. HOWEVER, the cook top that the sales dweeb assured me matched the measurements I provided wasn't even close. It was about 1.5" short on depth. What? He couldn't grok that 21.5 inches is MORE than 20"?????????

Well, there was a whole lotta upset here. The installer suggested I go over to Menards (a lumber store) to ask them the fabricate a piece of metal that I could use to "you know, cover the hole?" I DON'T THINK SO!!!!!!!!!

My sales dweeb was off that day, so we all talked to another guy. He eventually found me a cook top that would fill the hole. NOT five burner, NOT either of the two brands I wanted, BUT they had it in stock. Fine. Whatever.

I go to find a picture of the thing on line...and find out that Lowe's has it in stock for over $200 less. I call the place up and talk to this sales dweeb and he gives me attitude even though the local Lowe's has it in stock. Said I, "You're not getting this, are you?"  He assured me he was. And I reassured him he wasn't. "For that last 30 years, and you can check your records on this one, I've bought every major appliance from Warner Stellian. I have trusted you to stand behind your products and you have never let me down. And you want to screw up a 30 year relationship over a cook top???????????????? You can be the subject of my blog next week....and let me assure you, a lot of people read my blog. Just put 'wifely person' in a Google search box and see what happens."

There was the sound of little fingers on keyboard. Then a brief silence. Then he honored the Lowe's price and said the installers would be back on Friday morning. 

Well, the Frigidaire is only four burners but it has a continuous grate. Oddly, it's a little tighter than my old Jenn-Aire, but I'll figure it out. If I have one complaint, it's that the edges of the knobs are really sharp and I've cut a couple of fingers whilst wiping around...but that can be "adjusted" ...or so junior son tells me. I really like the turbo-burner; it does seem to boil water faster. 

As for Passover: we're in the middle of it now. Let's just all agree this is not my best time of year. For starters, I keep going over the events from three years ago. It's like the clock starts all over again when we start to count the omer. What used to be fun is now a chore, and what was once a chore is now the bottom of drudgery. It's as if the light has been sucked from the room and the Dementors are waiting outside to take the joy with it. I know this is dumb, but I also hear it's kinda  normal so we'll just take it at face value and nothing more.

At the second seder, our host asked us if we (as individuals) are still wandering in a desert. Until he said that, I never realized how close that comes to how I feel. It is what it is and I'll move through it like I've moved through everything else. 

Meanwhile, back at the political ranch, I would like nothing more than to stick my head in the sand until November 6th. I am nauseated at the notion that the super-pac ads are starting. This whole process is pretty much making me want to barf. I don't even want to talk about it anymore...but I know I will. 

Wifely Person's tip o'the week
Sometimes we have to do what we know is right...even when it hurts. 

Monday, April 2, 2012


G-d is a woman, and She has a warped sense of humor.

For those who are accustomed to the insanity brought on by the week before Passover, I need not explain that one does not mess with a Jewish woman who has started Passover prep. You already know that the further you are from the kitchen where this is happening, the better your odds of survival. To those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, I'll give you the short version: first, every crumb must be removed, every piece of leavened bread, every smidge of anything that is not declared kosher for Passover, all gone. Then, you box up your entire kitchen, "sell" the non-Passover food, dump everything in the fridge, fire up your stove and oven for purification, then unpack multiple sets of dishes, flatware, pots, pans, cooking utensils, small appliances, and table linens right after you've spent way too much money on replacing the food you just packed up or threw away with Kosher for Passover versions which are 1) not bargains, and 2) not usually exact substitutes. So the least comic thing on the planet you can do is to dump a truckload of aggravation on a woman when her kitchen is torn to shreds. No one in their right mind thinks this is funny....

.....except G-d. I'm just guessing here, but I suspect She must find this sort of thing amusing. 

In an attempt to use up the last of the flour and the maple syrup, I made pancakes Sunday morning. After I turned off the burners, there was little gas smell. I checked the knobs, made sure they were all the way off, but there was still this slight gas smell. When the junior son and wife arrived to shlep boxes up from the basement, the first thing he said was, "Do you smell gas?" My daughter-in-law sprang into action and called our crack utilities company, Xcel, who said they would be over in a little while. 

Officially condemned by Xcel
And amazingly enough, the Xcel truck was at the bottom of the driveway within the hour. When the inspection was over, the cooktop was declared a hazard. It needs a new burner valve for the top right burner and the Xcel guy said the part might no longer be available. Meanwhile, he turned off the gas explaining that if left on, the valve would continue to leak, fill up the house, and don't want to know.

I may not be making seders this year, but I still have to cook! I’m still having a houseful for Shabbat Pesach And I don't have time to fool around; Pesach is serious business. There are women out there clucking in sympathy... as well as a few who will call within an hour after this is posted to ask 1) if we're okay, and 2) do we need food?  Even though I know they’re just trying to use up chametz (food not for Passover) I appreciate the gesture. For the record: yes, we're okay, and no, we don't need food, but thank you.

Good thing I took this whole week off to get ready for Pesach. It wasn't like I was planning to loll about, eating bonbons, waiting for the Exodus to begin.  No! I have to a kitchen to dismantle, mantle, dismantle, then remantle. It's confusing I know but this is what traditional Jewish women do. And I've said it before: this is payback for that little episode in the Garden of Eden - the holiday cycle from Gehenna.

So, this morning, I called the Jenn-Air repair guy. I had all the model parts, numbers and information he needed to figure out if the patient was worth saving. After a short but very direct conversation, it was apparent that all four valves should be replaced and that the cost was more than half of a new cooktop. And, explained the repair guy, not that he wanted to throw away a nice service call, the thing was 23 years old and the new tops are much more efficient and much easier to maintain now that they have sealed burners. He suggested that I go look at them before deciding.

Good thing my federal refund came last week; that'll just about cover the whole shebang. As much as I hate to spend money on something as frivolous as a stove that does not leak gas, I did. I went to our usual appliance guys, had a whirlwind tour of what was new and immediately available, and to be honest, they actually had what I wanted and it will be installed on Wednesday. 

About the only upside to this whole misadventure? I won’t have to kasher the stove for Pesach.

4/4/2012 UPDATE: Some sense of humor....
the cook top is too short for the hole. 
NOW I'm in trouble!

Wifely Person’s Tip O’the Week
Always save appliance booklets and specs together in one place.
Having them handy makes life much easier.
Publish Post
The original Jenn-Air manual