Nemo Me Impune Lacessit

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Visiting Family in Florida

Filed under: Life, Politics, Principles, Self-Defense, Travel — Tags: , — mikewb1971 @ 4:14 PM (16:14)

Current mood: amused

I took a little trip to the Tampa suburbs (Riverview, actually) this week (Mon 5 Jan — Thurs 8 Jan).

Yeah, I know that my preference is to fly with an airline that will let me board the plane carrying a loaded pistol openly visible on my belt. Still, this time, it wasn’t practical to get from Albuquerque any other way.

OK, so we (Mom, brother Bill and I) got to the Sunport together. In Albuquerque, we froze our asses off at the departing-flights curb. After going inside, we went to the Southwest Airlines counter and checked in, then went to the TSA checkpoint.

At the Sunport, the TSA operation is a mob scene, and that’s putting it nicely. In addition to the bit where you have to take off your shoes, you also have to take off your belt and any sweaters, jackets, etc., for whatever reason. You also have to put any laptop you’re carrying into a separate bin to go through the X-ray/bomb-sniffer machine. Like that makes the slightest bit of sense.

Anyway, the TSA people there were congenial and considerate for the most part, but still, it’s the principle of it. Just like the “yellow form” and NICS background check that the ferals insist that you complete before purchasing a firearm (only applies when you buy from ferally-licensed dealers in New Mexico, ha ha!), the whole process assumes that you’re a bad guy until proven otherwise. This is antithetical to the presumption of innocence, i.e. the idea that you’re innocent until proven guilty.

So Mom and I passed through the metal detector without setting it off, and as we were collecting our things, my brother was flagged for “additional attention,” because one of his shoes set off an alarm. Never mind that he’s needed either a walker or wheelchair for his entire life to get around. So we’re there an additional five to ten minutes waiting for TSA to “clear” him. I dunno — he must have stepped in some dogshit or something, as the “bomb sniffer” picks up on nitrates, upon which  modern explosives are based, and shit of any kind is loaded with — you guessed it — nitrates.

Because of this bullshit and the check-in time at the Southwest counter before it, it’s recommended that air passengers show up at least two hours before the scheduled time of departure for their flight, to account for this bullshit. Me being a night person and all (it’s not unusual at all for me to stay up til 2 AM), we arrived at the Albuquerque Sunport at around 7 AM. On account of this, I didin’t bother sleeping at all on Sunday night, and slept on the flights instead.

We get to the gate we need, and get rushed to the head of the line (the “preboarding area”) on account of my brother being handicapped. The Southwest personnel (Kevin at the Sunport, followed by flight attendant Douglas and cockpit crewman Mike at our connecting flight at San Antonio, Texas) were exemplary in taking care of getting Bill on and off the aircraft.

My main “complaint” about the flight is that the seats were too narrow, but I guess that’s true of any Boeing 737.

We arrived at Tampa International at about 1 PM locat time, and were dressed for 30° Fahrenheit, and suddenly found ourselves in 70-80° F. The temperature per se wasn’t bad, but the humidity that the American South-East is noted for doesn’t agree with me at all. After a bit of wandering through the airport, we find the Budget car-rental counter, and we get a Hyundai Sonata. It’s not exactly what I’d planned on, but still, an acceptable vehicle all and all.

Getting from the Tampa airport to Aunt Fran and Uncle Chuck’s house was a fun trip. The directions from Google Maps and what Mom got from Uncle Chuck were somewhat different, and we ran into road construction projects almost immediately after leaving the airport. We ended up on SR-60 (John F. Kennedy Boulevard, or “Kennedy” for short) and kept going east, as per Chuck’s directions. What he failed to tell us was that as you get to the downtown area of Tampa, Kennedy turns into a one-way street, headed west. So we went in circles for about 45 minutes, and ended up headed south on 50th St. We stopped for directions at a diner near the intersection of Riverview Drive and SR-301, headed south on 301 and found Big Bend Rd. After that, it was easy, but that didn’t stop Chuck from giving us shit about the extra time we spent on the road.

After arriving, we talked with Chuck’s son Kevin (presently in the DC/Virginia area) via streaming video over webcams. The sound quality was fine, but streaming video over a DSL connection leaves something to be desired where picture quality is concerned. Kevin and I talked politics some — he’s a Second Amendment buff, as I am, and we shot the shit about the Hamas/Isarel stupidity, and Kevin told us that’s he working as for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency concerning nuclear security issues. Kind of interesting, since he recently got a degree in psychiatry, of all things.

Why do I get the feeling that he’s going to need regular access to the Lincoln Bedroom in order to fully do his job? Why do I get the feeling that he’ll also need wiretap, bugging and surveillance authorizations for that tasking, or at least FBI support in that regard? Maybe I’m projecting the Clinton Administration onto The Barack? I dunno . . . .

We finished off Monday night watching the 2007 Transformers movie. It was better than I expected for a live-action movie in this series — there were some serious departures from the previously established “canon” of the series, but still, it was a decent flick — my review here. I probably would have liked it more if I hadn’t kept nodding off in the middle latter half due to being up all Sunday night.

Tuesday, we spent the day at Fran and Chuck’s house, mostly watching TV. I checked my Gmail, Facebook and MyYearbook accounts using Chuck’s computer — the internet connection on this laptop is hosed, apparently at the hardware/software interface, as it doesn’t work whether I’m using the wireless card or the hardline cable. Anyway, Chuck’s computer is super-slow — probably has a ton of viruses on it. That, and Comcast cable modems make the Verizon DSL line he has seem like tin cans on a string by comparison.

Tuesday night, we went to the open house at cousin Brian’s new Publix store, where he’s the second-in-charge as Assistant Manager. We had a few sample snacks, walked around a little, and chatted a bit with the higher-ups that stopped by for the ribbon-cutting. Then each of the managers got up in front and gave a short speech. I took a couple of pictures, after which Brian gave us a peek at the attached liquor store, which has its own separate entrance.

Wednesday afternoon, Mom, Aunt Fran and I went to the Philly Connection for cheesesteaks. I had the one with jalapenos and banana peppers, and it was OK — not the flaming heat that I was hoping for, though.

After we got back and had our cheesesteak sandwiches, Mom went with Aunt Fran and Uncle Chuck to take cousin Charlie to the airport — Charlie was moving to West Virginia, as well as seeking a career change out of the Publix chain. Can’t say as I blame him — I’m sick and tired of working retail myself, especially in the “customer service” capacity. I realize that the Publix chain management doesn’t out up with the kind of shit that Burlington’s management does, but still . . . .

After dropping Charlie off at the airport, the three of them went bowling, while I stayed home and got my SimpleTech portable hard drive unit hooked up to my laptop. Still, I think that the repaired power jack on this laptop is broken again. SHIT.

Thursday, we got up, had breakfast, took some more pictures, said our goodbyes and left for the airport. The trip to the airport was simpler for a few reasons —
Kennedy Blvd. going west doesn’t turn into a one-way street as it does going east.
There were less orange-barrel sites for raod construction to go past.

The flight back to Albuquerque was better than the one to Tampa, mainly because it was a straight shot from Tampa to Albuquerque, and we didn’t have to change planes. As before, the Southwest ground crew were very helpful with Bill’s wheelchair during the boarding and unboarding (?) processes.

So now I’m back at work, and starting my spring semester next Monday (12 January).


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