Category Archives: Travel

Comments and observations on the traveling life.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Flappr, The Other McCain, The Daley Gator, Pirate’s Cove, and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!

Now then: It sure seems like folks are trying to avoid Boeing airliners lately.

Some fliers nervous to travel aboard Boeing aircraft following a stream of flight problems in the last three months say they try to book flights on other planes while others say they’ve turned to prayer or medications to get through their trips.

The shift in response toward Boeing took off in January after a panel plugging the space reserved for an unused emergency door blew off an Alaska Airlines jetliner 16,000 feet above Oregon. While pilots landed the Boeing 737 Max 9 safely, the incident has left a mark on many travelers.

“I just can’t step on that plane,” Leila Amineddoleh told NBC News, referring to Boeing aircraft. “Even if the chance of getting hurt on a Boeing flight, even with all these incidents, is slim.”

The last deadly crash involving a U.S. airliner occurred in February 2009 in an industry that saw 9.6 million flights last year. More Americans die in motor-vehicle crashes each year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Yeah, air travel is, statistically, pretty safe.  In my previous, non-journalism career, I traveled a lot – lots of it international travel – and never was involved in an incident where I felt I was in any danger.

The problem with air-travel events is that they are pretty spectacular.  When an airliner goes down hard, typically everyone dies, and that’s hard to swallow.  It makes people nervous, just as it’s making people nervous right now, with stuff happening like emergency doors blowing off in flight and tires dropping off the landing gear.

In the end, it probably won’t make a great deal of difference.  Take us – if Mrs. Animal and I want to see our kids and grandkids, who are all down in the lower 48, we have to fly to go see them.  Not seeing them is inconceivable.  So fly we will.  We may feel a little nervous about it, but we’ll fly.  And, I imagine, so will plenty of other folks.

Rule Five Goodbye 2023 Friday

Folks, it’s been a hell of a year.

2023 came in with a bang and is leaving us with several. I started the year as a guy with a consulting business, an independent self-employed guy who had been in the industry for over thirty years and working as a consultant for over half that time.  But for reasons unknown, the bottom dropped out of that, not only for me but for everyone I know in the industry; and after thirty years, I know a hell of a lot of people in the industry.  Mind you I haven’t surrendered the idea of digging into my consulting career again, but… well, it’s been a while, and things are still looking really slow in that line.

Sometimes, though, when one door closes, another opens.  After twenty years of blogging for free, writing about whatever amused me at any given moment, last summer I had an offer to go pro.  So I did, and it’s been fun.  And on that, stay tuned, because there may be more news along those lines soon.

As for all of us here at Animal Magnetism:

First, let me just say thanks to all of you for sticking with me, for my ranting and roaring, my occasional flashes of insight, and for my oddball way of looking at the world – although I suspect a lot of you drop by mostly for the pretty girls, and that’s good, too.

(A few years back a reader asked me what my wife thought of my totty posts.  I honestly replied, “Hell, she helps me pick ’em out.”)

For 2024, given all that’s going on, there will be some changes here.  I’m not changing the layout of the site; I’ve been using this WordPress theme and this layout for about ten years now (boy, do I ever get stuck in my ways) and I like it.  The Rule Five Friday and Saturday Gingermageddon/totty posts will continue as before, as will the Blue Monday pieces.

Later in the week, though, I’m changing up a few things.  While I’m keeping the Wednesday links posts, when I’ve looked at them the last few weeks, they’ve been… well, huge.  So instead of combining my RedState links with the Hump Day links compendiums, I’ll be breaking them up.  We will keep the Wednesday/Hump Day as the usual links posts it has been for a long time now, but instead of a random news post on Thursday, I’ll move my RedState links to that day, every week.  So things most weeks will look like this:

Monday: “Goodbye, Blue Monday,” news and totty.

Tuesday:  News post, whatever hits me as worth discussion, with usually a link to my Monday Glibertarians fiction piece that’s in play that week.

Wednesday:  Hump Day posts as before:  The usual totty and my big weekly links compendium, opening with comments, weekly idiots, and cultural edification.

Thursday:  RedState links, and maybe a few other comments, and so on.

Friday:  Rule Five Friday, exactly as we’ve had it; usually a little more involved discussion about news/thoughts/things that piss me off.

Saturday:  The Gingermageddon, of course, with the occasional celebration of diversity with blondes, brunettes, or whatever.

But wait!  There’s more!

Starting in January, you’ll occasionally not only be reading my stuff but also occasionally have the chance to see my battered old mug and hear me talk, as I’m going to be starting a Rumble channel, Animal Magnetism Live.  To begin with, I’ll have some short (5-10 minute) blurbs with some commentary, but if things go well, I’ll be posting videos of some Alaska outdoor adventures, maybe some interviews, and fun stuff like that.

So stick around!  My second, late-life career as a journalist is taking off, but trust me, Animal Magnetism isn’t going anywhere.  I intend to keep this going until I just can’t anymore.  And I reckon I have a good thirty years left in me to continue doing what I’ve been doing, that being precisely what pleases me.

As Robert Frost wrote:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Boy howdy, hasn’t it just.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

No extra notes this morning. A red-eye to Denver and then an early flight to Des Moines beckons, and I’ve other work to get to before heading to the airport.  So stand ready!  Here comes the Wednesday usual.

Now then…

Continue reading Animal’s Hump Day News

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Housekeeping notes: A week from today we’ll be flying to Iowa, leaving our house-sitters in place here, where we will spend a week with the entire Animal family at our annual Thanksgiving/Christmas family reunion.  Posts will be scheduled for the balance of next week, and the week of the 27th will be taken up with some placeholder totty.  Regular posts will resume Monday, Dec 4th.

Now then…

Continue reading Animal’s Hump Day News

Animal’s Daily Sardine Tin News

Friendly Skies.

Before we start, check out Part II of Season of Ice over at Glibertarians!

Now then:  This has happened, to one extent or another, to everyone who (like me) has traveled a lot.  Excerpt:

My worst fear about flying isn’t crashing – it’s being stuck in a middle seat between two obese bodies. My nightmare happened to Sydney Watson. On an American Airlines flight from New York to Texas, Watson got stuck in the middle seat between two large bodies. She described it as being a human sardine. Instead of being encased in tin, Sydney was marinating in obesity.

Watson made the best of living my nightmare. She live-tweeted the experience. American Airlines was tagged by Sydney and it responded with a less-than-optimal answer.

Watson’s live-tweeting went viral. She was featured in several newspapers including the New York Post and The Guardian. Most of the journalists took the side of the unknown obese seat invaders. The Post described her comments as “offensive“. Apparently wanting to have 100% of the seat you purchased, is offensive.   She had her share of anonymous threats and haters too. She took the road everyone should take when making a valid point. She didn’t apologize. She said she meant every word. Never apologize. All your apology will do is embolden the haters who will demand more and more until you are “canceled” or fired. The left doesn’t really want an apology anyway. They want blood. They want your head on a stick.

Now, the thing Sydney Watson did wrong was to take to Twitter on this matter, which guaranteed a race to the rhetorical bottom.  Twitter is a snake pit that no sensible person should contemplate entering.

But her complaint is legitimate.  For a while, the airlines were requiring grossly obese passengers to buy two seats.  I’m not traveling as much as I did in the pre-‘vid days, but I’m still traveling some.  Even so it’s been a while since I’ve encountered a massive fatty on an airliner.  And my experience with airlines is almost wholly limited to United, with whom I have lifetime status.  If this has stopped being the practice, I’m not sure when that happened.

And American Airlines’ response is as inadequate as Sydney Watson’s claim is legitimate.  “Sorry, sucks to be you” is atrocious customer service.  A pox on American for that horrible, dismissive reply.

If I pay for an airline seat, I expect to have the use of the seat.  Not 50% of it, not 70% of it, all of it.  And if a fellow passenger is taking up 180% of a seat, then they need to be charged for two seats.  That’s all.

 

Rule Five Six Decades Friday

Life is full of little milestones, and sometimes some larger ones.  Tomorrow morning, at around 8:00 AM, I will reach one of those more significant milestones:  Sixty years of age.

Age sixty doesn’t carry quite the senior-citizen status it did a few years ago, although I am beginning to see some of the benefits of that status, in odd little things like breaks on theater ticket prices, the occasional ten percent off on senior days at the grocery, and so on.  Probably the most significant of these benefits is a lifetime general hunting and fishing license here in our new Alaska home, which allows me to take a wide variety of fish, small and large game, and exempts me from the King salmon stamp and state waterfowl stamp requirements.  That’s nice, but what’s a little more interesting, for me, is to look back on these last six decades.  All in all, I’ve had a good time.

Not many folks are familiar with my birthplace:  Oelwein, Iowa.  The farm my parents were working at the time is gone now, having been absorbed into a wildlife refuge.  I spent most of my youth in Blackhawk and Allamakee counties.  But that’s just location.

I was fortunate in having strong, capable parents.  My father and grandfathers, as fine a group of men as ever drew breath, taught me early on the things a man needs to know to be a man:  Courage, determination, the value of education and, more than that, knowledge.  The value of work.  From all of them I learned what it was to maintain a rural home, to raise crops and stock, to hunt, to fish, to shoot straight, to build.  The Old Man was also an artist of some repute, for years one of his paintings always was on display in his dedicated place in the Iowa state capitol.

My mother was the first to show me what unconditional love meant, and also that a woman can fill what was then the traditional home-making role while being tough and capable – certainly not oppressed by anyone.  She was, as the Old Man would have admitted, a better angler than even he, and her knowledge of northeastern Iowa wildflowers was unmatched; botany professors from universities around the Midwest brought students to our Allamakee County home to have Mom escort them through our wooded hills and hear her describe the plants that grew there.

From that foundation I’ve moved through my life.  My time in the Army changed me, as the Old Man, a World War Two veteran, and my paternal grandfather, a Great War veteran, said it would, in ways that people who have not served would not understand.  That service also led me to the single greatest blessing of my life:  My own dear Mrs. Animal, who I met during Operation Desert Storm.

The values learned in my youth served well in my civilian career:  Hard work, perseverance, reliability.  Moving into self-employment as an independent consultant re-enforced those attributes, and I have now spent over half my career as such, in contract work.  Success in such depends on reliability; being known as the guy who can get the job done, on time if not ahead of time, on budget if not under budget.  In the course of that career I’ve been to some interesting places:  Japan, China, South Africa, Germany, Ireland, as well as all over Canada, Mexico and the United States.  Some of those places (Japan) I came to love; others (China) I don’t care if I never see again.  But I wouldn’t go back and change a thing; travel gives one a lot of perspective that may be gained in no other way.

Colorado was a great place to live when I moved there in the late Eighties, and Mrs. Animal and I loved our home there, the natural beauty that state holds, and we raised our family there.  But as anyone who has long read these virtual pages are familiar with our unhappiness with the direction that state has taken as well as our ever-increasing love of the Great Land, and so as Americans have done since the Founding, we voted with our feet and made our home in Alaska, where we intend to spend the rest of our lives.

So, six decades.

I’ve always been the guy to look forward, not back.  While this milestone is one of some significance, still, there is a lot to look forward to.  In a few more years, retirement from my primary career will give me more time for other pursuits, writing, fishing, hunting, exploring the vastness of the Great Land.  All with Mrs. Animal by my side, of course.  We look forward to seeing our four daughters and (so far) six grandchildren continue down their own lives’ paths, and when possible, to welcome them as well as old friends to visit us in this place which is, for most, a once or twice in a lifetime vacation but, for us, is home.

It’s been a great ride so far.  I’ll continue to push ahead as I always have; an intelligent person, after all, should be able to live a thousand years and never run out of things to do.  As for me, I have every intention of living forever, and from my point of view, I will.

Hang in there, folks.  You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

I’ve been toying around some with “alternative” social media, mostly Parler and Gab, and I’m ready to give up on both.  Here’s why:

First, Gab.  The layout is generally OK and I like the “Groups” feature, but the “batshit-crazy” ratio is a little too high to suit me.  Anyone who claims that aren’t nutbars on the Right just as there are on the Left clearly isn’t paying attention, although the Right doesn’t seem as willing to elect them to office.  (But only just.)

Second, Parler.  Parler was a little more sane, with again, a decent layout but no “groups” or sub-fora that I was able to find.  But then Parler re-did their login procedure from an annoying “click every panel that contains a bicycle” CAPTCHA to the even-more-annoying “enter the code we sent to your cell phone.”  I never provided them a phone number and refuse to do so, so now I’m not able to log in to Parler at all.  Repeated requests to their customer service folks have gone unanswered.

So, by way of conclusion:  Sure, we have alternatives to Derpbook and Twatter now.  Big deal.  I decided early on to ignore those platforms because the terrible noise-to-signal ratio, and from what I’ve seen, those two new alternatives are no better.

I hate discussion by bumper sticker, and I’ll be damned if I’ll engage in it.  So, True Believers, I guess if you give a damn about my thoughts on anything, you’ll just have to come here Monday through Saturday and read them.

Well, for that and the occasional Rule Five imagery, too.

And so…

On To the Links!

Ferry from Twatt in the Orkneys to Scotland, and then you can drive south down through Cock Bridge, Dick Place, Cockermouth, move through Penistone and Cock Alley, slide east into Slutshole Lane, down through Fingringhoe, and end up on the south coast at Ass Hill and Shitterton.

That guy in the Imperial Mansion continues to improve his impression of an actual potato.

Also:  President Biden(‘s handlers) are off to a bad start.  If you ask me, I’m guessing it’s gonna get worse.  Maybe even worse than the Carter years.

Answers you didn’t want to questions you never asked.

Hard pounding, this.  Let’s see who pounds longest.

Everybody’s different, but I sleep a lot better with my own dear Mrs. Animal beside me.

Some folks want to bring jaguars back to the United States.  I doubt they’ll make it as far north as the Susitna Valley, so, meh.

Humans in apartment fire:  “We are all gonna die!”  Cat in apartment fire:  “What’s this we shit, Kemosabe?”

I’m not a fan of “doxxing” anyone, but it is possible to push someone too far.

Fuck off, slaver.

This kind of shit is why we left Colorado.

You know, maybe some people are ‘rona ‘vaccine-hesitant’ because assholes in government keep telling them they’ll still have to wear face-diapers and socially distance afterwards.

Good guy with gun stops bad guy with gun.  Sad that one innocent person died, but many more could have if not for a good guy with a rifle, and if you look around, the legacy media is ignoring this.  The Narrative must persist.

Dammit, Piers Morgan, stop making me agree with you!

This Week’s Idiots:

The Nation’s John Nichols and Senator Chuck Schumer (Sanctimonious Prick – NY ) are both idiots.

NBC’s David Mark is an idiot.

Slate‘s Dahlia Lithwick is an idiot.  Amazing how often her name pops up in this section.

Maxine Waters (Crazy Old Bat – CA) is an idiot as well as a serial abuser of government employees.

“Pothole Pete” Buttigieg is an idiot.

Apparently everyone at CNN are idiots.

The Squad’s Rep. Cori Bush is an idiot.

USAToday‘s Ross Wiener is an idiot.

This Week’s Cultural Edification:

There never will be another Frank Sinatra.  Nobody since has even come close.  While his fellow Rat Pack members were all possessed of tremendous talent, even in that company Mr. Sinatra stood out.  Here, from 1966, is the Chairman, performing Luck, Be A Lady.  Enjoy.

Animal’s Travelogue Day 5

And finally, we wrap up this epic journey with details of the drive from Tok, Alaska, to our own new home in Willow!

We arose early to get a good start on the road, leaving the Alaska Highway at Tok and heading for Glennallen, there to take the Glennallen Highway for Palmer, Wasilla and home.

I was a bit surprised to not see a recreational marijuana shop in Tok.  I mean, if there’s any place in Alaska that should have a now-legal pot shop, you would think it would be Tok.

There was a snag – when we got up on Tok, it was snowing.  That’s hardly unusual in Alaska in March, mind you.  There was a couple of inches down and we had some mountainous country yet to traverse.  But we struck out, cautiously, slowly.  We crawled over the snow-packed road to Glennallen, where we turned west for Chickaloon, Palmer, Wasilla and home.  The roads slowly improved until, by the time we hit Palmer, things were wide open.

And then, finally, we pulled onto the Parks Highway, heading north for Willow and our new digs.  We arrived at mid-afternoon, exhausted but happy, to begin our new life in the Great Land.

We’re home at last.  After this tiring, exhausting, fascinating, beautiful and long, strange trip, we’re home at last, in Alaska.