Category Archives: Rants

30 days

One of my favorite shows on TV is Morgan Spurlock’s 30 Days. It’s just one of a few “serious” shows that I’m watching this summer. My TV diet right now is heavy on ridiculous reality shows, which I do enjoy. It’s nice to balance the fluff, however, with some substance. 30 Days does that for me.

The basic premise of the show is to take someone and place them in a particular environment that is unfamiliar to them for 30 days. Some of the episodes just involve Morgan working in a coal mine for 30 days or Morgan living in a prison for 30 days, that type of thing. The really good ones place people outside their comfort zones. For instance, they had a Mormon mother move in with two gay dads who had adopted several children. Another one of my favorites involved Morgan and his wife moving to a different city and having to live on minimum wage for 30 days.

One of the most powerful episodes I watched was about animal rights. They had a guy from North Carolina who was a hunter move in with a family of vegans who worked with PETA. He had to work in an animal rehabilitation center, spend time with the PETA family, and actually participate in several PETA events. I don’t necessarily agree with everything that PETA supports or the way that they tend to protest. But, I do have to admit that the useless mistreatment and killing of animals needs to stop. It was amazing to see the hunter open himself up to another way of thinking.

I guess the thing I most like about the show is that it follows people while they explore different ways of life beyond their own. Not all of the people on the show make changes or expand their worldviews. For instance, the gay dads and the Mormon mama’s parting of ways was barely cordial. They spent most of their month in disagreement. It was extremely uncomfortable. I may be biased, but Mormon Mama just looked like an idiot. The gay dads always could defend why they believed what they believed. Mrs. Mormon’s best defense for her beliefs about gays was “this is the core of what I believe. And, I’ve always believed it. I just know that it’s true. I can feel it.” Not exactly a foolproof argument.

If you’re going to go on a show that places you right in the middle of something that you disagree with, you probably should be able to at least defend your beliefs. She just kept on complaining that everyone was ganging up on her. Someone seriously needed to remind her that she chose to go into a home with two gay dads. And if you’re gonna tell them to their face (in their own home) that they are going to hell and leading their children down that same path, you’d better have a stronger argument than “this is just what I feel to be true.” I can respect someone who has different beliefs if they can at least give a good reason why they believe it. Or, at least have the guts to say “I don’t know, but I’m trying to figure it out.”

Oh crap. Damn. There I go a-preachin’ again. The show makes me think and gets me riled up at the same time. Well, this has become a longer post than I’d originally intended. I just wanted to share my thoughts about 30 days. Check it out, the first season is already on DVD.

Pedestrian Rage

This week is my 3 year anniversary of going car-less. And I have to tell you, I don’t miss it–not even a little bit. Especially when you consider the price of gas/repairs/tolls/parking/insurance/etc. etc… Well, it’s amazing how splendidly I’ve adapted to walking and to public transit. There is one minor problem, however. I’ve developed a serious case of pedestrian rage. I’m not proud of it. But, seeing that I don’t have a car to use to get rid of all the rage, I take it out on my fellow walkers.

I guess I view the sidewalk as a mini-road. And, I’ve got places to go, you know? The sidewalk would be a much better, nay, safer place to be if people just followed my simple rules. I love a good list–who doesn’t, really–so here it is: Tyler’s six simple sidewalk statutes:

1) You should always walk to the right side of the sidewalk. Avoid weaving back and forth (i.e.–a drunken stupor), as this makes it difficult for people to pass you.

2) If you’re in a group, don’t hog the whole sidewalk. But rather, walk in 2’s, or better yet, single file. This will allow for easy passing. You may look like a troupe of boy scouts, but, safety first. I’d hate to have to walk out in the street to get around you, because, hey, those drivers are crazy.

3) Be sure to keep a steady normal pace. You’re never gonna burn those calories with a gingerly stroll. (side note: My friend Jaclyn would love to tell you that I walk too slowly. When I walk with her, she’s possessed. I mean seriously, the girl can speed walk. And sometimes I want to stop and smell the roses.)

4) When you stop and smell the roses, be certain no one is directly behind you when you stop. This could cause that person to have to swerve out into the street, and hey, those drivers are crazy.

5) Don’t follow too closely. If I wanted to give you a piggy-back ride, I would have asked you.

6) If you are going to talk on your cell phone and walk, be aware of who is around you. They may not want to hear your fight with your boyfriend. (This applies to riding the bus as well. Maybe I should write Tyler’s rules for riding the rails…)

Crap. OK. So, I just proof read my rules. I think that it may be time to finally go on Prozac. But, hey, at least I’m not behind behind the wheel anymore. I’ve seen some of my friends behind the wheel, and let me tell you, they are crazy.

Sharing is Caring, Right?

The other day I was having brunch with my friend Jaclyn. We had started to peruse the menu when she suggests, “Perhaps you’d like to share something, we could both get different entrĂ©es and then split them.”

“Hmmmm…I’m not a good ‘sharer,’ ” I say. I was just being honest.

“Oh.”

“Sorry. It’s just that I order what I like to eat.”

I then have to continue into the full length version of why I don’t like to share plates at restaurants. This always makes me feel bad. But, over the last few years I’ve had to learn to just be honest about what I want. Jaclyn, as expected, was completely understanding, while others have not been. I guess that some people just find it weird that you wouldn’t want to split your food with them. But, I don’t.

There is a history to this. I’ve been burned…many times…and not by delicious sizzling fajita meat. Rather, burned by people who order twice as much as I do and then want to just split the bill. Or, burned by people who want to split dessert and then proceed to eat basically the whole thing. OK, so I know that I’m really stepping on people’s toes here. But, I’ll admit it. I have food issues. Especially when it comes to money and food. It’s expensive.

All of this has me thinking…am I just being selfish? Am I just a selfish person in general? Are the people who want to share just mooching? Why does this bother me so much? If I just keep on asking questions will I have to answer all of them eventually? Why am I asking so many questions in the first place? Don’t you just hate it when people ask too many questions? Are you getting tired of reading all my questions?

Wow. What just happened there? Damn. I did it again. Sorry. I really am trying to stop asking questions but I just can’t stop. Why is that? Argh.

Sometimes I have to seriously question my sanity. I mean really. I just never know where this blog is going. Food. Moochers. There, I’m back on track. Alrighty then. I don’t think it’s selfish of me to want to pay for only my portion of food, nor do I think that I should be guilted into eating “family style.” I have no problems with sharing my food when I’m done eating. That’s not it all. But, don’t make me eat part of your fish dish that I didn’t want to begin with just so that you can have part of my chicken dish that I was really hungry for.

Wow. I finally got that out. It’s amazing the journey I have to take you on sometimes just to get to my point. Thanks for reading if you made it this far. I’m sure it was tempting to click off my page and curse my name. I feel better now and slightly hungry. Anyone want to go out for lunch? My treat.

So be it.

We have reached a new low. Or high. Depending on how you look at it. I was reading the newspaper this morning when a particular article caught my eye. It was titled: Pray-in at S.F. gas station asks God to lower gas prices. It’s not every day we get prayer meetings in San Francisco. Well, at least not for things like this. We’ve had our fair share of people who have made the trek to the City by the Bay to pray for the worst of all lost souls, the gays. But, this is a new one. I guess if you’re going to pray for gas prices to come down, you might as well come to the place with the highest prices in the nation, right?

I find it very interesting that an east-coast based activist/community organizer/church choir director, who also started a petition to get Oprah nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (which failed), would come to SF for a pray-in. I mean, seriously, Washington D.C. is a lot closer than San Francisco. And, really that’s where he should have gone. I realize that as a “public relations consultant” (he has like 4 jobs) this is his way of petitioning Washington and God at the same time. It’s a publicity move. I get it. Send a message to Washington by praying over the costliest fuel, literally. It’s just funny to me. Someone probably spent hundreds of dollars to fly him all the way across the country to say a prayer that he could have said from D.C., whose prices aren’t cheap either, by any means.

I suppose that I should be glad he is supporting the airline industry by flying. But, let’s cut the crap, I’ll just be honest. I have issues with this kind of prayer. I think the real power in what Twyman did was in the underlying statement he was making: We don’t trust our government to do something about gas prices. If he did, he would have been in D.C. And, honestly, I think our government needs to hear that message: We don’t trust you.

Check out this approval ratings chart from PollingReport.com. (Just click on it for the link) It’s pretty sad, Bush’s approval rating has consistently hovered from 30-35% for over a year. Most people would be fired for that kind of performance. I’m getting sidetracked, aren’t I?

I should get back to my real issue, public prayer. I think personal and private prayer as a means of meditation–focusing one’s mind on something for relaxation or other purposes–can be helpful. If prayer for you is a personal conversation with God, great, that helps focus the mind as well. But, I don’t believe that publicly (i.e.-at a gas station) presenting a request to a higher power has much benefit beyond the obvious benefit of getting your message out to the masses.

This is something I know a thing or two about. I personally have been the subject of these types of prayers before. Prayers that are a means of gossip–getting the message out to the masses. I’ve been mortified more than once to find that a deeply personal experience of mine was shared in a prayer group or at a church. If someone wants to personally pray for me, I can certainly appreciate the heart in that. When someone publicly brings up my private stuff, on no level could I ever appreciate that.

Now, I have to admit that this is a very sensitive subject for me. I have rewritten this post about 10 times over the course of a week, trying to soften my tone. And, I’m glad that I took my time with it, because, it caused me to think about this in a rational way–to come to terms with my real issues. I detest preachy, public praying.

Ultimately, I think that Robert Twyman looked a little ridiculous standing, hands outstretched over the gas pump, praying. I can’t help but think that was part of the point. He got his message out there, though, even if the powers that be weren’t listening.

In the end writing this was therapeutic for me. And, there’s a part of me that feels bad for dragging you through my therapy. I guess that’s just the nature of blogging. Some days this is what you get.

Amen. So be it.

$3,500!!!

This is the amount that Verizon Wireless told me I was going to have to pay them in overage fees for my internet usage. Oh, crap. That was my first thought. Then I immediately moved into intense panic mode. You know the kind. I started pacing back and forth intensely, making wild gestures, as if that was going to fix the problem. I guess I should explain things.

So, up until recently, I used my Verizon Wireless USB card for all of my internet service. It’s a nifty little device that I plug into the USB port on the side of my laptop. Super cool. Super easy. I’m a flight attendant and the card works similar to a cell phone. It was/is extremely convenient for me to use anywhere in the country. Verizon used to advertise “unlimited” service, no roaming for a monthly fee. I visit their website frequently to check my bill, etc., and even within the last few months they still were advertising “unlimited” service. This morning when I went to the site I discovered it has totally changed. They now have made it clear. They have limits.

And, that is what Jennifer told me when I called to ask why my USB card wasn’t working. To make it worse, I had gone way over their usage limit. Approximately $3,500.00 worth. Jennifer told me that I would have to let her look more closely at my account to see why I was cut off, and she would call me back in a day or two. I guess I really freaked out when she said that, because she called me back in an hour. Evidently, I was “grandfathered” into their new plans and was exempt from the overage fees. Finally, I could take a deep sigh of relief. I apologized to Jennifer for my freak-out “episode.” Evidently, she has been getting this a lot since Verizon changed their usage plans. People are suddenly being told that they owe Verizon Wireless a crap-load of money. Hopefully, people protest a little bit so that they are told that they don’t actually have to pay the money. You will still be cut off for going over. But, at least, you won’t have to pay the fees. So, I called Comcast Cable back up and set up High Speed Internet.

I really detest this kind of stuff. If only a few people blindly pay the overage fees, Verizon will make a lot of money. I’ll be switching to AT&T soon. Not because I think that they won’t screw me over, but, because they have the iPhone. I pretty much have accepted the fact that most companies have equally poor and confusing service. So, you have to choose who you are going to patronize based on different criteria. Like who has the cooler phones. Or, who’s website is easier to use.

Here’s what I learned:

1) When it comes to customer service, never take a company at its word. Always get it in writing.

2) When you get it in writing, always read all the writing. Very important details are usually buried deep within the seemingly meaningless text.

3) When you call to get help from customer service, never hesitate to ask to talk to a supervisor.

4) Always keep confirmation numbers and names of customer service personnel. Never throw away service agreements.

5) Always look at your bill. Never just accept and pay unknown or unusual charges. Always protest a little bit.

Enough Already with the F$%#@! "Path to’s!"

I’ve mentioned before that I love self-help books. Oh yes, there isn’t a self-help book out there that I haven’t longingly flipped through hoping to find all the answers to all my questions. I should also mention that I am quite far along in my recovery… from self-help books. I no longer have a tall stack of these marvelous literary works sitting next to my couch just waiting for my perusal.

That’s not to say that I no longer read self-help books. I just am controlling my impulse to buy every fucking book that has “…the Path to…” in the title. “The Path to Enlightenment,” “The Path to a Healthy Back,” “The Path to a Great Self-Esteem,” “The Real Path to the Right Path…” AGGGGHHHHHH!!!!! Sorry, I think I just had an enlightened moment.

Unfortunately, recently I had a relapse. I gave in to the temptation and bought several self-help books. But, before I get to those books I need to say something. Hang on just a second while I compose myself…

Ok, everyone take a deep breath now. And exhale. I am about to say something that is probably going to get me banned from blogger.com. Wait for it… Wait for it… I’m ready. I am sick of Oprah. I am sick of all the “big gives.” I am sick of her “favorite things.” I am sick of the trips to Africa. And, most of all I am sick of “The Oprah Book Club.” Fuck. I feel better, but now I have to explain. First of all, she’s the self-appointed Mayor of Narcissist Village. That’s enough to drive anyone crazy. I think it’s swell that she wants to make the world a better place. Lovely. But, the Oprah franchise is getting just a little out of hand, don’t ya think? The show. The magazine. The schools. The online courses. It’s pretty sad that her stamp of approval is like winning the world series for a writer. It guarantees an immediate trip to the top of the best seller’s list.

I have to come clean, though. I am guilty of buying books because I saw them on her show. And, I am also guilty of enjoying some of them. For instance, I loved “Eat, Pray, Love.” But, after recently buying “The Secret,” “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth,” I am over it. First off, let me tell you just how much I hated “The Secret.” It’s Awful. Horrendous. I was so offended by that book that I got rid of it after reading just about 4 chapters. I gave it all the chance it deserved to prove to me it was good. And, it failed. I love the concept that there is power in positive thinking and even in negative thinking. But, to take it to the level of blaming the Holocaust on the Jews and cancer on one’s own negative thoughts, well now, that’s just fucked up. Sometimes bad things just happen. Or, sometimes they happen because an evil, inhumane ruler decides to try and wipe out an entire group of people.

Oh, crap. I’m really on my soapbox today. I had better watch my “stinkin’ thinkin’.” All I will say about the other two Eckhart Tolle books I purchased is that I about choked on the amount of conceited, self-congratulatory back-patting that I found in the introductions alone. According to the books, I guess I’m just not “enlightened” enough to be ready for them. In the words of Chelsea Handler, one of my favorite comedians, Mr. Tolle can “suck it, suck it real hard.” There.

I guess I’m not as evolved as I thought I was.

That Ain’t Right – #2

I was just about to give up on this series this week. As soon as I came up with the idea, nothing happened. Literally. No one misbehaved. It truly rocked my world. I thought, “What is wrong with humanity? Come on people, give me the good stuff!” And then, I had one the worst trips that I’ve had in a long time. The trip started out bad enough. We had seriously delayed and canceled flights, but the passengers were totally understanding and actually…nice. There was a major snow storm in Chicago and it completely shut the airport down. Damn those Midwesterners, they can be nice even while sleeping on the airport floor. Nothing to write about.

Then, day 2 arrived. The gray skies cleared up and we were off to Long Island. I was exhausted from the first day, though, and my defenses were down. About halfway through our day, the shit hit the fan. We were in Tampa with a broken plane full mostly of retired Floridians. Nice. Those flights are fun on a normal day. No one can complain like a retired Floridian. And, when I say Floridian, I actually mean New Yorker. We were supposed to be going to West Palm Beach, which is about a 25 minute flight away from Tampa. We were delayed over 3 hours for a 25 minute flight. Nice.

Anyway, people (especially New Yorkers) are inherently mistrusting of airlines. Even if there is a hurricane bearing down on you, they think that you are canceling the flight for some other reason that you aren’t sharing. So, it should have come as no surprise when this little beefy red-faced New Yorker came huffing up the aisle only about 30 minutes into the delay.

“Can’t you put us on a different plane?”

Even though I have no control over anything, I responded, “Well, the only option would be the next flight which is in about 4 hours, you could take that one.” (I said it in a positive tone and with a smile, New Yorkers evidently don’t care for sarcasm.)

“I see a plane sitting over there at that gate, why can’t we take that one?”

With less of a smile, I said, “That plane is already in use. Maintenance is trying to fix this one.”

“I know you have planes sitting around for this type of thing, why aren’t you using them? If I would have known that this was going to happen I would have taken my men and found another flight!”

This guy was being a prick, so, too quickly I answered, “Ok, well if you go, be sure to take all your things.” I was testing the theory that New Yorkers like honesty. They want you to give it them straight. Today was not the day to test out theories.

“Nice attitude.”

Now, I had unleashed a monster. I knew that nothing I said would make him or his “men” happy. So, I just continued with the truth, “I have no control over what planes we use or where they go. This plane is being fixed and for now, we are still going to take this one. That may change, but, for the time being that’s what’s going on.”

“Well, you need to figure out what’s going on and get this thing going.”

I love this type of guy. It’s a lost cause. People treat me like I don’t know anything, but, ask me questions like I know everything.

Well, fast forward about 4 hours. We are finally in West Palm Beach and everyone is finally getting off the plane. This guy has been such a jackass that other New Yorkers are actually apologizing for him. I gave up on even trying to please him. He had yelled at me, at the captain, and at our customer service agents. He was just trying to cause a scene. I may not have had the best attitude, but for that day, it was all I could do. This jerk just needed to get off the plane. Upon leaving the plane his wife approaches me and asks for my name and badge number. I give her my name and inform her that we do not give out any other personal informational.

I say, “You only need my first name and the flight number for your letter.”

She snaps back, “Why are you assuming that I am going to write a negative letter?”

“Well typically if someone who is clearly upset asks me for that information it isn’t for writing a good letter.”

“How do you know I am upset?”

“Are you serious? Everyone on the plane knows that you are upset.”

She snaps back again, “You’re a negative person and shouldn’t be doing this job.”

With all the restraint I could muster I say, “Thank you so much for your support. Have a great day!”

Momma said there’d be days like this.