draggonlaady: (Teddy)
FINALLY, the FAA has told airlines to stop being dumb and let people use ebooks and video players on planes because they will not somehow randomly make planes crash.
draggonlaady: (Default)
So the number of animals that died on passenger airline flights in the US last year has been released. And once again, I'm reminded that I hate newspapers. Please note how eagerly this article compares numbers of deaths by year with not a SINGLE reference to how many animals flew on each airline during the year. There's no way from this article for the reader to know how many animals survived the flights, or whether Delta has more deaths/year because they actually suck (which is what many people will take away from this article because they don't think about it) or whether Delta has twice as many deaths, but in reality fly 4 times as many animals as Continental. Numbers out of context are worse than useless!
draggonlaady: (Grinding Bones)
Next day was time to head home. Which means that once I again, I commend myself to the goodness and mercy of Alaska Airlines.

First thing in the morning, I called customer service.
"Hi. I'm supposed to be flying out of Petersburg, Alaska today. I did not receive the confirmation call which I was expecting, so I just wanted to make sure everything's okay."
"Did you make a reservation?"
"Yes..." (thinking but NOT said aloud: No, I was expecting a confirmation call because I think you're all psychic and just KNOW when I need to fly, without my bothering with this 'reservation' thing.)
She rattles at the keyboard for a minute. "Did you pay for it?"
After another 4-5 minutes of key rattling, she finally says "Oh, there it is." (This is NOT comforting, thank you!) She confirms that I'll be leaving that afternoon, and that I'll be allowed on the plane.

I walk down town for breakfast, and then back to the other end of town (what? it's not a long walk) to check out the book store. While I'm poking through the stacks, the power goes out. To the entire town. And apparently to Wrangell and another town as well. I am assured that if the airports all shut down just for little things like power outages, half the scheduled flights through Alaska wouldn't happen. Somehow this is not terribly reassuring, as it's been my experience that half of the flights through Alaska don't happen. (What, me, cynical?)

I spend about 2 hours chatting with a random guy in the hotel lobby (yeah, I'm odd), and then hit the little cafe outside of the hotel for lunch. Sweet potato and rock fish curry over brown rice--good stuff, Maynard. Power came back on somewhere in there.

Then we head to the airport; T and J are on the same flight out as I am, and there are a couple people coming in on that flight that Dennis and Toni are supposed to pick up. I go to check in, and the computer refuses to print me a boarding slip or baggage claim strip. Takes 3 tries for the woman to get it done. I realize that this is probably a result of the power outage and not anything the airline did, but still!

Petersburg is a tiny airport; they don't have the baggage x-ray machines, so everything gets searched by hand by TSA. And swabbed for nitrates. Oddly, even though the clothes I was wearing when I tested positive in Ketchikan are in the bag, they pass it. I do end up having to send my carry-on through twice though, because they couldn't figure out what my camera was on the first trip. *sigh*

So we all board, and the flight attendants come by and tell me to turn off my reader. Since I'm still wondering exactly what that's about, I ask. And get one of the stupidest, blatantly bullshit answers EVER. FAA regulations (I am told) require that all devices, even those with no transmit functions, be turned off because (drum roll please) they want people to pay attention to the safety spiel and these devices would be distracting. Riiiight... because the bloke next to me reading his book, and the woman over across the way with the magazine, those people aren't distracted? Why don't these (dare I say non-existant?) FAA regulations require that books, magazines, games, and newspapers be stowed also? And how come I can't turn the reader back on as soon as the flight attendant is done talking instead of waiting until we get to 10,000 feet? Your answer, it makes no sense! A 6 year old could do better.

Bruce suggests that prior to my next vacation, I should download into the reader the FAA regulations regarding passenger conduct, as well as TSA regulations regarding passengers so that when I get obviously bullshit answers like that (or like the one we got on our Knoxville trip, where the flight attendant claimed it was a TSA regulation that passengers not seated in 1st class couldn't use the lavatory in the 1st class area) I can ask them to show me the pertinent section.

Anyway, rather than deal with turning the reader off every time we land as we island skip down the coast, I start in on the book I bought at the Petersburg book store. Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow. As with most of Doctorow's work, it's available for free download on his site. It was a terribly apropos book, given my recent frustrations with TSA. Basic plot is a teenage kid in California, and his struggles with a Homeland Security Department gone bat-shit (even more so than currently in real life) after a terrorist attack. I recommend it. (As you may have guessed from the links to buy or download it, yeah?)

The flight to SeaTac was actually fairly uneventful. Then I spent 3 hours sitting in SeaTac waiting for my next flight. Picked up dinner at Waji's, which was not bad, but nothing spectacular either. Was continually irritated by the "Talking Fountain" in the waiting area. Someone's idea of art, apparently, is to hook a speaker up to a drinking fountain, so that whenever anyone gets water, it makes quite loud, repetitive sounds like rocks banging together under water. Maybe I just don't get art, but I found this intrusive and annoying, not pretty or soothing.

SeaTac decided to play switchery-doo with the gates, and no announcements were made that I heard. I figured it out (just) before they finished boarding, and the flight to Spokaloo was uneventful.

One final note about airport security: I apparently had a pretty basic misunderstanding of how the "metal detectors" work. I wear this shiny piece which Bruce gave me. As you can see, it's not subtle. This is a big chunk of metal. Not a single security machine cared. I was vaguely aware that it was possible to sneak ceramic or polymer weapons through security, but it had never occurred to me that I could walk through with over a quarter pound of metal. Apparently, stainless steel doesn't interfere with electromagnetic fields enough to trip the security. So you can get through security with practically any sort of weapon, if you're prepared. Meanwhile, people who are absolutely no threat are delayed, harassed, and imposed upon. Does this make me feel safer? Hmm. Nope. "Security theater" indeed. Americans lose, the terrorists win.

Better day

Mar. 3rd, 2011 07:58 pm
draggonlaady: (Default)
Very little on the crazy spectrum today. And Mrs Miller did follow through with giving us money, so no need for nagging phone calls, yay! The only kinda weird was a woman who came in looking for a couple of kittens. When I said that we have a couple sheriff's department impounds that will be going to rescue, but they haven't been spayed yet, she explained that she "doesn't have a cat problem" so she doesn't really care if they're spayed. This is NOT a good way to get me to adopt a cat to you, in case you wondered. I pointed out to her that the fastest way to develop a cat problem is to put a couple intact females out for the males to find, because they will come from miles around, and just because you haven't noticed them doesn't mean they aren't there. And I did not give her any cats.

Oh, the internet thing--I called back the next day and talked to the receptionist again, basically "nobody called me back, what's being done?" and she informed me that J would be stopping by today. Well, that's nice (really), and also nice (sarcastically). Good that he'll come down, rather annoying that nobody thought maybe they should call ahead and see if there was a good time or a time that just flat wouldn't work for me (not gonna be there, we're closed for lunch, whatever). J seems to think that the issue has something to do with the fact that we're using a static IP address. Since I have no freaking clue what that even means, one of you computer gurus wanna hazard a guess as to why having a static IP would cause wireless to intermittently drop service? Just as curiosity, really, because I'm still thinking the faster DSL at the same cost/month is the way to go.

Bought plane tickets to Alaska. For those of you who care, you apparently cannot buy Alaska Airlines tickets through Orbitz, you have to go directly to AA website. Which turns out to be less expensive than Orbitz anyway (by a few bucks, nothing shocking) but the flight choice options were less "build your own" than Orbitz--you can't mix-and-match return flights for some reason; choosing one way locks you into certain return trips. Whatever. But it looks like I'll have a layover in sea-tac on my return trip, if anybody in the area wants to meet for dinner on the 28th of May. And about 4 hours or so in Juneau on the way up, so if there's anything that I absolutely MUST see in Juneau that takes less than 3 hours, let me know.

In contrast

Dec. 7th, 2010 11:51 am
draggonlaady: (Default)
to yesterday's dog bite story, here's a case where the owner clearly needs to be smacked. Please note that in this case the owner blatantly disregarded common sense, regulations, and specific instructions, and this dog bit 2 people. Please also note, that so far nobody's screaming for the destruction of the dog, presumably because it's little.

The dog is described as "that poor thing" by one commenter on the article, and while several people mention requiring the owner to pay medical costs for the bites, there's not even a single mention of quarantining the dog for rabies observation, let alone euthanizing it or declaring it Potentially Dangerous.


Aug. 18th, 2010 10:49 am
draggonlaady: (Default)

An update on the dead puppies from the flight I mentioned a bit ago. Necropsies were "inconclusive" which would, unfortunately, be the case with death from overheating. Or suffocation. Or several other things. (Incidentally, all those cop shows that bring back autopsy results "proving" death by drowning and that the murder victim drowned in water other than where they were found? they lie.) So basically, no pre-existing problems were found to exonerate the airline, but no way to prove fault either.
draggonlaady: (Default)
And not good news. Half of the dogs on a single flight from Tulsa to Chicago Tuesday died.

draggonlaady: (Default)
So this is kind of interesting reading, but I want to reinforce something that's briefly mentioned here--statistics without a base population are crap and ought all to be taken with a whole spoonful of salt. While airlines are required to report adverse incidents, they are not required to report how many animals of what species/breeds they ship, which makes it really hard to get accurate percentages. A couple airlines interviewed and gave estimates for number shipping, but... use caution. Also, in typical scare-mongering media fashion, it's all about the bad, and doesn't give a single hint as to which airline had the fewest incidents.

draggonlaady: (Nice Girl)
Sounds to me like everyone involved in this was stupid one way or another, but in particular, I find this too stupid to adequately express:

AirTran company policy bars animals other than cats, dogs and household birds in the cabin, said spokesman Christopher White. White cited a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that says the reptiles have been known to carry salmonella bacteria.

If AirTran is actually concerned about disease or health issues involved in having animals transported in cabin, then they should reverse this entirely. The risks of a passenger having an allergic response to a dog, cat, or bird is hugely higher than any risk posed by being in the same room as a caged turtle. Feather dust and cat hair will easily escape a kennel or travel-cage, floating about the cabin freely and exposing anyone who's breathing to common allergens (and how many people reading this do not know someone who has a severe allergic reaction to dogs and/or cats and/or birds?), whereas the only way someone will be getting salmonella exposure from a turtle is if they touch or hold it, and then stick their fingers in their mouths or handle food without washing first. Which seems more likely to be a problem? There is not a single iota of logic behind this policy.

Additionally, and with an eye towards getting pets transported alive to destination, most cargo areas are not climate controlled. Which species do you think will tolerate the rapid and sometimes extreme temperature changes that happen in a cargo hold? Warmblooded animals with well-established thermoregulation, or reptiles that rely entirely on environmental conditions to maintain internal functions?

I will not even bother ranting about the stupidity of not checking in advance about animal transport policies, or the frustration of inconsistent security and airline policies.

Tangentially--last I heard it was illegal to sell turtles less than 4 inches across. Wonder where they picked up this little 2 inch baby...


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