A Few Thoughts About Airport Security

My recent travels have had me thinking about all the ways flying has devolved since my first big adventure, when I went to Cambridge, England, way back in 1993. Back then, there was still a tiny little hint of the old-school elegance to the whole thing, but not anymore. Flying these days is about as much fun as a do-it-yourself appendectomy with only a twelve-pack of 3.2% Utah beer to use for both anesthetic and disinfectant.

The airlines are as much to blame as anything for the grueling unpleasantness that is modern air travel, but the negative experience begins well before you ever set foot on a plane. I have certain, shall we say, strongly held opinions about post-9/11 airport security protocols. The short version is, I hate all that TSA nonsense with a white-hot passion.

I despise the inconvenience and the indignity of it, I don’t believe taking off my shoes or trashing my half-full water bottle really makes us safer, and I resent the implication that everyone who wants to travel is guilty until they prove themselves innocent, i.e., demonstrate that they’re not a terrorist. People are always fretting about the sanctity of the First and Second Amendments, but no one ever mentions the Fourth, which among other things guarantees that individual citizens can’t be molested by authority without probable cause. (If you disagree, please don’t start throwing case law at me; I’m not up on all of that, and I’m sure the TSA procedures are fully justified by some SCOTUS decision or other. Doesn’t mean I have to agree with it, even as I’m grudgingly exposing a roomful of people to my foot odor to demonstrate my lack of insane malevolence, or having my frickin’ ponytail frisked because the little bit of metal in the elastic triggered some overly sensitive detection device.)

I think it’s all ridiculous and more than a little cowardly, not at all in keeping with the America I grew up believing in, and I wish we’d all come to our collective senses, screw our courage to the sticking place, and roll back the screening process to pre-2001 levels. Not that I really expect that will ever happen when so many people are convinced that it’s actually accomplishing some good. But hey, I can hope, right? And I can speak out about it.

The problem is, whenever I start talking about this subject, I tend to get a bit worked up and a little wild-eyed, and then I’m all too easily dismissed as just another old man yelling at a cloud. So how about if I present my arguments in the form of a humorous video clip?

That pretty much covers all my thinking on the subject. But if that’s not enough to convince you we’ve meekly submitted to an ineffective and absurd Gilliam-esque bureaucracy, here’s an international (and very NSFW!) perspective offered by the Australian comedian Jim Jefferies:

Incidentally, the UK airports I passed through have similar screening procedures as here, but the British equivalent of the TSA was better organized, more efficient, and — most notably — far more courteous than the American version. While I still thought the situation was absurd, it was a lot easier to stomach when I was being treated with a modicum of respect…


So, About Scotland…

I did say I wanted to have an adventure, didn’t I?

Things went south the moment Anne and I arrived in Newcastle and our luggage… did not. Our trans-Atlantic flight had been late arriving in Amsterdam, where our connection was already tight, resulting in one of those “mad dash across the terminal” scenes that look so exciting in movies but are a total drag in real life. You can guess what happened next: Anne and I made it to the plane; our bags remained behind and probably had a grand old time checking out the red-light district and a couple of those, ahem, “coffee shops” you hear about.

Our itinerary was such that we didn’t have the luxury of hanging out in our arrival city until our bags turned up, so, bagless, without toothbrushes and wearing the same stinking clothes we’d had on for about 24 hours at that point, we picked up our rental car and set off for our next destination. Whereupon we learned that driving in the UK was going to be a much bigger challenge than either of us expected.

It wasn’t the driving-on-the-left thing, like everyone assumes. You actually get used to that pretty quickly. No, the problem was that the roads there are so bloody small. Seriously, a two-lane road with traffic running in both directions, supposedly a “major” roadway, is only about as wide as one-and-a-third of the spacious traffic lanes we enjoy here in the wide-open western US. And there’s no shoulder or breakdown lane over there, either, only occasional wide spots called “lay-bys” where you can pull over if you need to.

And if that wasn’t challenging enough, the roads are bounded in most places by a short curb, unless you’re really far out in the countryside, and it was that curb that gave us the most stress. I was so conscious of keeping to the left, away from the oncoming traffic that seemed to be only inches away from my face, that I kept brushing against the stupid curb. And so it was that late in the afternoon of our first day, as the sky was growing purple with twilight and the only thing we wanted was to reach our B&B and sleep for the next 15 hours or so, I hit one of those stupid curbs while moving about 60 mph and blew a tire.

This meant we were obliged to spend a good part of the next day discovering what an English tire shop is like. (“English” rather than “Scottish” because we hadn’t actually crossed into Scotland yet.) FYI, they’re just like American ones: the smell of new rubber in the air, a waiting area with vinyl couches and free coffee, a flat-screen TV tuned to some kind of sporting event… hell, the manager’s name was even “Dave,” just like every Big-O I’ve ever set foot in here at home. But even after getting the tire — excuse me, tyre — replaced, we were still dead in the water, waiting around in a small Northumberland town for a missing suitcase to catch up to us. And then, just to put a cherry on top of this sundae, Anne came down with a case of traveler’s tummy (i.e., she got sick).

This was definitely not the way I’d hoped to introduce her to the wonders of world travel. In fact, for the first several days we were over there, I think if she could have stepped through a Stargate and been magically, instantly home but only at the price of never leaving again, she would have done it. Things got better, though, once we started up into the Highlands.

The Scottish Highlands have occupied our imaginations for years, thanks to the movies Highlander and Rob Roy, and Diana Gabaldon’s novel Outlander, and I’m very happy to report that neither of us were disappointed by them. The landscape northwest of Glasgow is quite simply majestic: rolling hills and rocky crags, all painted in soft greens and yellows with an overlay of purple heather, dotted with quaint towns and picturesque ruins, and with thick forests and lochs and rivers and waterfalls around every turn. Curiously, parts of the Highlands reminded me of home, of the high valleys in the mountains above Salt Lake City, which, perhaps not coincidentally, were often settled by Scots and feature borrowed Scottish names. (We have our own version of Ben Lomond in Utah, for example.) The rugged beauty and relatively sparse population of the Highlands seemed to draw a lot of the anxiety and stress out of us, like some kind of psychic poultice; I even started to become more comfortable behind the wheel. A little, anyhow.

In the 15 days Anne and I spent in the UK. I drove a little over 1,100 miles, from Newcastle in the north of England to Glasgow, then northwest to the Isle of Skye, then east and north to Inverness and finally back south to Stirling, Falkirk, and Edinburgh. We slept in seven different locations ranging from major cities to somewhere in the boondocks, staying in everything from a working farm’s outbuilding to a Victorian-era home to a former school that’d been converted into a hotel to a honest-to-god castle.

Problems with the luggage and the car aside, Anne and I had some wonderful experiences together. We stood on the shores of Loch Shiel at a place called Glenfinnan, not far from the spot where Bonnie Prince Charlie began his ill-fated revolution against the English in 1745, and there we watched a red-deer stag wade out into the water for a drink. (This was also the place where the immortal Connor MacLeod claimed to have been born in the movie Highlander, in the year 1518.) A few days later, wrapped in a grey drizzle of rain, we walked the battlefield at Culloden Moor, where the English crushed the Highlanders in April 1746 and sent Charlie running for his life. We toured castles and cathedrals and museums and recreated homes of the centuries past. We touched standing stones that had been placed a thousand years before the Romans stepped onto British soil. And we had our hearts broken by the golden light of the setting sun washing over the sandstone buildings of Old Town Edinburgh on our final night in Scotland.

On my own, I climbed a mountain to watch a vintage steam train chuff its way across the arched trestle made famous in the Harry Potter movies. I walked along Hadrian’s Wall to Sycamore Gap, where Kevin Costner first bested Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. In Stirling, I wandered through a medieval graveyard after dark, with my only tether to the present being the sound of a Backstreet Boys song echoing down a cobbled alleyway. At Loch Ness, I gazed out across the dark waters and spotted a long, tubular shape among the whitecaps; it turned out to be a line of fishing-net floats, but for just a second, I believed. In Inverness, I rented a kilt for a half-hour just to see what it was like. (Quite comfortable, actually, and I looked great!)

Yes, I did try haggis. I had it for breakfast, served in a big crumbled heap with a couple fried eggs on top. It reminded me somewhat of corned beef hash, and I quite liked it. Black pudding, on the other hand… well, it wasn’t repulsive, and I finished the portion I was served, but I don’t think it’s anything I need to ever order again.

However, the best thing we experienced over there, as corny as it sounds, was the people. The Scots are wonderful, possibly the most wonderful people I’ve ever encountered in my travels. Not that I expected them to be dicks, of course, but I was surprised to cross paths with so many genuinely kind people, starting with Dave, the tyre-shop manager, who offered to drive us to a grocery store that was all of a two-minute walk away so we could get some lunch while he fixed our car.

There there was the hotel desk clerk in Glasgow, whom I asked to tell the maids not to bother Anne while she was feeling under the weather, and who then inquired about her every time I walked past on my way in and out of the place.

Craig, the owner of the B&B where we stayed on Skye, told us in all seriousness that he didn’t want to be there when we left, because he gets attached to his guests and hates to tell them goodbye.

On a street corner in Edinburgh, a scruffy man in a Hawkwind t-shirt — Hawkwind, of all things! — asked Anne if he could help her figure out which bus she needed. Here in the U.S., my reaction would’ve been a defensive “Mind your own business, pal!”, but there was nothing skeevy or threatening about this guy at all. He just saw someone studying a schedule and wanted to help.

Just below Edinburgh Castle, there was a street performer dressed as William Wallace, blue facepaint and braids and all, who became my new best friend when it somehow came out that I liked the band KISS. Suddenly, playing a 13th century warrior was out the window and he just wanted to talk music.

And there was the waitress in a pub called Greyfriars Bobby, where we dined two nights in a row. On our way out on the second night, she asked when they’d be seeing us again, and when we told her it was our last night in Scotland so we wouldn’t be back, she seemed positively crestfallen. Then she stunned us both by throwing her arms around me for a big hug, and then doing the same to Anne along with a kiss on the cheek, after which she wished us a safe journey home and said she hoped that if we ever make it back, we’ll stop in again. We promised her we would… and we meant it. Because I think we will go back someday. Granted, we haven’t even been home a full two months yet, but I think we both feel a tug on our hearts nearly every day…

To wrap up this very long entry — finally! — I’ll leave you with my favorite photo from the trip, a complete accident that happened when I was trying to take a selfie with a Highland “coo” and got more than I bargained for: a cow tongue up the side of my head immediately after I clicked the shutter!

coo kiss


Another American’s Observations about the UK

A couple people have sent this to me today, so I thought I’d do my part and pass it along in turn: It’s a list of observations about England made by an American named Scott Waters following his fourth trip to that country. He posted the list on his Facebook page just under two weeks ago, and it’s since gone viral; supposedly it’s been shared over 50,000 times.

England is not the same as Scotland, of course — something the Scots are very quick to point out! — but both countries are part of the United Kingdom and have had an intermingled culture for centuries, which means that I noted many of these same points during my recent adventure north of Hadrian’s Wall:

  • Almost everyone is very polite.
  • The food is generally outstanding.
    [Ed. note: Proper fish and chips!]
  • There are no guns.
  • There are too many narrow stairs.
  • Everything is just a little bit different.
  • The pubs close too early.
  • The reason they drive on the left is because all their cars are built backwards.
  • Pubs are not bars, they are community living rooms.
  • You’d better like peas, potatoes and sausage.
  • Refrigerators and washing machines are very small.
  • Everything is generally older, smaller and shorter.
  • People don’t seem to be afraid of their neighbors or the government.
  • Their paper money makes sense, the coins don’t.
    [Ed. note: This isn’t entirely true. The coins make sense, it’s just that the 5p coin is the size of an American dime, while the 10p coin is the size of a nickel, so it’s confusing to Americans who are trying to sort change without looking at it…]
  • Everyone has a washing machine but driers are rare.
    [Ed. note: I thought it was rather charming to see actual clotheslines again…]
  • Hot and cold water faucets. Remember them?
  • Pants are called “trousers”, underwear are “pants” and sweaters are “jumpers”.
  • The bathroom light is a string hanging from the ceiling.
  • “Fanny” is a naughty word, as is “shag”.
  • All the signs are well designed with beautiful typography and written in full sentences with proper grammar.
  • There’s no dress code.
  • Doors close by themselves, but they don’t always open.
  • They eat with their forks upside down.
    [Ed. note: Okay. I didn’t notice this one.]
  • The English are as crazy about their gardens as Americans are about cars.
  • They don’t seem to use facecloths or napkins or maybe they’re just less messy than we are.
  • The wall outlets all have switches, some don’t do anything.
  • There are hardly any cops or police cars.
  • 5,000 year ago, someone arranged a lot of rocks all over, but no one is sure why.
  • When you do see police they seem to be in male & female pairs and often smiling.
  • Black people are just people: they didn’t quite do slavery here.
  • Everything comes with chips, which are French Fries. You put vinegar on them.
  • Cookies are “biscuits” and potato chips are “crisps”.
  • HP sauce is better than catsup.
  • Obama is considered a hero, Bush is considered an idiot.
  • After fish and chips, curry is the most popular food.
  • The water controls in showers need detailed instructions.
  • They can boil anything.
  • Folks don’t always lock their bikes.
  • It’s not unusual to see people dressed different and speaking different languages.
  • Your electronic devices will work fine with just a plug adapter.
  • Nearly everyone is better educated than we are.
  • If someone buys you a drink you must do the same.
  • There are no guns.
  • Look right, walk left. Again; look right, walk left. You’re welcome.
  • Avoid British wine and French beer.
  • It’s not that hard to eat with the fork in your left hand with a little practice. If you don’t, everyone knows you’re an American.
    [Ed. note: Fortunately, I’m left-handed, so I was already doing that anyhow!]
  • Many of the roads are the size of our sidewalks.
    [Ed. note: This is true! And terrifying… ]
  • There’s no AC.
  • Instead of turning the heat up, you put on a jumper.
  • Gas is “petrol”, it costs about $6 a gallon and is sold by the liter.
  • If you speed on a motorway, you get a ticket. Period. Always.
  • You don’t have to tip, really!
  • Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Cornwall really are different countries.
  • Only 14% of Americans have a passport, almost everyone in the UK does.
  • You pay the price marked on products because the taxes (VAT) are built in.
  • Walking is the national pastime.
  • Their TV looks and sounds much better than ours.
  • They took the street signs down during WWII, but haven’t put them all back up yet.
  • Everyone enjoys a good joke.
  • There are no guns.
  • Dogs are very well behaved and welcome everywhere.
  • There are no window screens.
  • You can get on a bus and end up in Paris.
    [Ed. note: Well, maybe eventually… it’d be a long ride from the Highlands, though… ]
  • Everyone knows more about our history than we do.
  • Radio is still a big deal. The BBC is quite good.
  • The newspapers can be awful.
  • Everything costs the same but our money is worth less so you have to add 50% to the price to figure what you’re paying.
  • Beer comes in large, completely filled, actual pint glasses and the closer the brewery the better the beer.
  • Butter and eggs aren’t refrigerated.
  • The beer isn’t warm, each style is served at the proper temperature.
  • Cider (alcoholic) is quite good.
  • Excess cider consumption can be very painful.
  • The universal greeting is “Cheers” (pronounced “cheeahz” unless you are from Cornwall, in which case it’s “chairz”).
  • The money is easy to understand: 1-2-5-10-20-50 pence, £1-£2 coins and £5-£10, etc bills. There are no quarters.
  • Their cash makes ours look like Monopoly money.
  • Cars don’t have bumper stickers.
  • Many doorknobs, buildings and tools are older than America.
  • By law, there are no crappy, old cars.
  • When the sign says something was built in 456, they didn’t lose the “1”.
  • Cake is pudding, ice cream is pudding, anything served for desert is pudding, even pudding.
  • BBC 4 is NPR.
  • Everything closes by 1800 (6pm).
  • Very few people smoke, those who do often roll their own.
  • You’re defined by your accent.
  • No one in Cornwall knows what the hell a Cornish Game Hen is.
    [Ed. note: I’ll take Scott’s word for this. It didn’t come up in Scotland.]
  • Football is a religion, religion is a sport.
  • Europeans dress better than the British, we dress worse.
  • The trains work: a three minute delay is regrettable.
  • Drinks don’t come with ice.
  • There are far fewer fat English people.
  • There are a lot of healthy old folks around participating in life instead of hiding at home watching TV.
  • If you’re over 60, you get free TV and bus and rail passes.
  • They don’t use Bose anything anywhere.
  • Displaying your political or religious affiliation is considered very bad taste.
  • Every pub has a pet drunk.
  • Their healthcare works, but they still bitch about it.
  • Cake is one of the major food groups.
  • Their coffee is mediocre but the tea is wonderful.
  • There are still no guns.
  • Towel warmers!
    [Ed. note: These are very nice, as are toast racks.]
  • Cheers!

And One from Mark Twain…

I’ve already posted this on Facebook and Tumblr, so sorry if you’re getting bored of it, but I really like this quote:


And the photo is pretty cool, too!


My Travel Style

A quote for your consideration:

Eurohopping, that thing where you cram, like, three or four countries into one 10-day trip, isn’t for me. I like feeling languid in a city, really sinking in, having mornings where you don’t rush out or feel guilty for not being at a museum. And the thing I like the most, always, is just walking, walking with no particular agenda. Hard to do if you’re only in Paris for a few days before moving on to the next place — more pressure to make the most of your time and see the Top Hits. (I do, however, completely understand the appeal of wanting to make the most of a trip to Europe and see as many places as possible! Just not my personal preference.)

That’s my own preference as well. I’ve been abroad only twice, to England and Germany, and in both cases I could have done and seen much more in the time I spent there than I actually did. But I went with the philosophy of PBS travel guru Rick Steves, who counsels travelers to “assume you will return” as you plan your itinerary, rather than trying to cram everything into a single trip. Considering that a decade passed between England and Germany, and nearly another decade has gotten away from me since Germany, I have to sadly acknowledge that I may never make it back to Stonehenge or Berlin. But I don’t regret for one moment the way I handled my earlier travels, not when I consider that I still have a pretty good mental map of Cambridge and Munich. I know those places; they both feel like real towns in my memory, rather than just “destinations.” To me, it was worth it to not see everything in the country in exchange for spending enough time in one spot to acquire some small sense of what it might be like to live there. My best memories of both of those trips are mostly of just sitting in some public space, soaking in the atmosphere. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to have that kind of experience again, given the demands of a grown-up life — stupid responsibility! — but I’m incredibly grateful to have had it twice before.

Darn, now I’m feeling all wistful and wishing I was wandering down some mysterious alleyway in a place I’ve never been…

(For the record, that quotation came from an interview with a footloose young woman who talks about traveling solo to Paris over the holidays…)


Aloha and All That Stuff

A word of advice, kids: don’t ever schedule a major vacation within three days of a life-changing event like having someone move in with you. Anne and I are leaving in the morning for a Hawaiian cruise with her parents, and we’re both completely frazzled. I always end up packing in the wee hours the night before any departure, but this time I’m feeling downright panicky because there just hasn’t been any time to do the things I like to do to prepare for a trip. I’ve been too focused on the move.

In any event, I won’t be posting here for at least the ten days we’ll be on the cruise, and it’ll probably be more like two weeks before I get back into the blogging frame of mind. Just so you know. Talk quietly amongst yourselves… and we’ll see you on the other side.


A Critical Faculty Is a Terrible Thing

The context of where I found the following quote isn’t terribly important — although if you care, it came from an ongoing discussion of the popular Angry Birds video game on a political blog I like to follow — I just thought it was an interesting idea. And, I think, a very true one. It originates from the autobiography Fever Pitch, by Nick Hornby:

A critical faculty is a terrible thing. When I was eleven there were no bad films, just films that I didn’t want to see, there was no bad food, just Brussels sprouts and cabbage, and there were no bad books – everything I read was great. Then suddenly, I woke up in the morning and all that had changed. How could my sister not hear that David Cassidy was not in the same class as Black Sabbath? Why on earth would my English teacher think that The History of Mr Polly was better than Ten Little Indians by Agatha Christie? And from that moment on, enjoyment has been a much more elusive quality.

I’d like to say more about this idea, but I’m afraid I’m leaving in the morning for a bit of a walkabout, and it’s already long past the time I ought to be in bed. So I’ll just leave it for my Loyal Readers to mull over — consider in particular how this relates to the furor over the Star Wars prequels — and I’ll catch you all in a week!


Still… Alive… Old… Friend…

Sorry, kids, I must’ve been channeling Shatner there for a second when I wrote that headline. It happens sometimes. More often than you might think, actually.

So, how is everyone? In case you didn’t catch the subtle hint in the previous entry — you know, all that stuff about the romance of the open road and such… okay, don’t feel bad, it was very subtle — The Girlfriend and I were on vacation last week, and what with The Man getting even with me for taking time off and various other things going on since we’ve been home, I just haven’t been able to find time for this little ol’ blog. Yeah, yeah, Bennion, but where did you go, you’re asking. Why, Las Vegas, I’m replying. More specifically, we drove down to Vegas on Monday, came home Thursday, then headed out again on Friday to catch my man Rick Springfield in Wendover, then finally home for good Saturday afternoon.

I hate to say it, but I’ve had better vacations.

Don’t misunderstand, we had plenty of fun, and I don’t at all regret going. We were able to see some old friends and meet some new ones, and we partied hardy with our current social circle. (To explain, Anne and I weren’t traveling alone; we met up with a bunch of people in Vegas to celebrate a wedding, and our friends Jack and Natalie accompanied us to see Rick.) But we also had a lot of irritating random mishaps; it was one of those “one damn thing after another” situations from the moment we left. First, the couple we had planned to convoy with on the way to Vegas got held up for a couple of hours because of an emergency doctor’s visit to check out a spider bite. Then I had a savage allergy attack on the drive down — my eyes looked like they were about to shoot laser beams out of them, X-Men-style, and the skin around them was puffy and tender for two days. Then Anne did something to her knee and had to spend an evening in the hotel room with an ice pack. I went out with our friends while she did that and got pulled over by the cops on Las Vegas Boulevard because — get this — the officer couldn’t see my license plate clearly enough. (I have a plastic cover over the plate that has yellowed with age, and the little light bulb that illuminates the plate had burned out.) I got off with a verbal warning, but it’s pretty damn embarrassing to get busted on the Strip with friends in the car.

The jinx continued on the way home, too: my car developed some kind of problem as we were going over the canyon between Mesquite, Nevada, and St. George, Utah. I decided it was just crappy gasoline from a Vegas 7-Eleven, and sure enough, topping off the tank and adding some STP in St, George seemed to cure it, but I was on edge waiting for something to go wrong again all the way home.

Oh, and then, just to cap it all off, Jack and Natalie and Anne and I experienced quite possibly the worst service in the history of the restaurant business out in Wendover. Our waiter was a nice enough kid — and I do mean kid; he didn’t look old enough to drive, let alone work in a casino environment — but he didn’t quite grasp the basic concepts of his work. I guess hiring standards are lower when you’re in an isolated desert outpost and its 100 miles in any direction to find more qualified candidates.


And We’re Back

Comments returning in three… two… one…

Blogging to resume after I do some laundry and pick up some bread that doesn’t have green fur growing on it. See you all soon.


Hitting the Road

Well, The Girlfriend are off on another adventure in the morning… we’re going to Cleveland!

Seriously, we’re flying to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where we’ll rent a car and then drive for a week through southwestern PA and into Ohio, finishing up in Cleveland and flying home from there. It seems like a strange vacation itinerary, I’ll admit, but maybe it will make more sense if I explain how it came about.

One of the gifts I received for Christmas last year was a DVD compilation of performances from the induction ceremonies for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 25 years of awesome jam sessions in which all the greats of the genre — The Rolling Stones, U2, Tina Turner, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Roy Orbison, and on and on and on — play each other’s music together. It’s a great set if you like classic rock music, just insanely entertaining. Anyway, the DVD includes a brief featurette about the actual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the museum itself, which is located in Cleveland, OH. One night, after watching this little five-minute feature, I turned to Anne and remarked that we ought to pick a weekend and go see that place. She wasn’t opposed to the idea, but thought it was a little silly to spend two days on airplanes just for a single afternoon at a museum, so we started looking into what else was in the area.

At some point during our research, Anne mentioned how she’d envied me seeing Gettysburg with my buddy Robert a couple years ago, and I remembered from that trip that the Lincoln Highway, the precursor to Route 66 and very first nationwide highway, ran through the area, so now our museum weekend was a road trip with Gettysburg on one end and the Rock Hall on the other. In short order, we learned that Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater was nearby, and most of the sites where one of our favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption, was filmed, and there was a lot of nifty stuff in Pittsburgh and Cleveland. And suddenly it all came together, the Great Pennsylvania-Ohio Lincoln Highway Road Trip of 2010. And, as an added bonus, we’re going to be there right in the middle of the fall colors. We didn’t plan it that way, but we’re really looking forward to seeing it, especially as fall can be sort of a mixed bag here in Utah. Some years are gorgeous, others rather drab. This year is trending toward drab, unless you’re up at the top of one of the canyons.

Anyhow, we have an early flight tomorrow morning so I’d better wrap this up and get to bed. One quick administrative note: I’ve recently been deleting something on the order of 20 pages of spam comments per day, so rather than deal with an entire week’s worth of accumulated garbage, I’m just going to shut off the commenting feature while we’re gone. If you have something really important to tell me that can’t wait until after the 16th, feel free to send an email to jason(at)

Finally, credit where credit is due: that excellent graphic up there at the top comes from a t-shirt I ran across a while back; you can view and purchase it here, if you’ve a mind to. I thought seriously about getting myself one for this trip, but Anne and several other people discouraged it, and I reluctantly agreed it was probably just borrowing trouble to wear something like that to the airport. Man, would I love to do it, though! All the intrusive, inconvenient, and ultimately pointless nonsense we have to go through now just to go to fly to Cleveland, and the fact that we’re all so thoroughly cowed by a bunch of minimum-wage-earning TSA rent-a-cops that we self-censor our t-shirts, utterly disgusts me. In a very real sense, the terrorists have won, and I don’t say that to be a smart-ass or a self-loathing, America-hatin’ liberal. I really mean it. We’ve changed our behavior, as a society, because of them. We’re less free because of them. And isn’t that what they were after all along?

I’ll see you all in a week. Be excellent to each other while I’m gone…