Category Archives: Travel

Comments and observations on the traveling life.

Animal’s Daily News

Sad-BearThanks as always to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!  Be sure to check out the comprehensive totty compendium at the link.

Moving right along:  The Traveling Life has some drawbacks.  Among those are days like yesterday, when I traveled from Knoxville, TN to Boston, MA, via Washington-Dulles.  Traveling this time of year is always problematic where weather is concerned, and yesterday was no exception; weather delayed my first flight’s landing by a half-hour.  That, combined with the necessity of schlepping all the way across the airport, conspired to make me miss my Boston flight by mere moments; fortunately United Airlines, in a display of efficiency, automatically rebooked me.

On a 10:00PM flight, arriving in Boston near midnight.  Combine that with finding my checked bag, hailing an Uber ride to Waltham, and I did not lay my head on a hotel pillow until close to 1AM this morning.

Good times.

So, True Believers, I will ask your forgiveness for the lack of deep thoughts and news of the day today.  As a palliative, please enjoy this sample of toothsome totty from the archives.

Animal’s Daily News

Don't mess with Texas!
Don’t mess with Texas!

This week’s work-related travel finds me in the burgeoning metropolis of McAllen, Texas, preparing to head south of the Rio Grande to Reynosa, Mexico, to deliver three day’s worth of training.  Yr, obdt. as well as my two colleagues will be staying here in McAllen, as Reynosa is…  somewhat unsettled.

Last time we were here there was a carjacking in front of the plant.  When asked if I felt safe in Reynosa, my reply was “sure, I haven’t felt this safe anywhere since Iraq.”  This is what the War on Drugs has given us.

Which makes this an interesting piece of commentary to present today.  Excerpt:

After the esteemed actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died in February 2014, press coverage of the “heroin epidemic” exploded. Mentions of that phrase in the newspaper and wire service articles cataloged by Nexis rose from 681 in 2013 to 3,222 in 2014, an increase of almost 400 percent. Yet Hoffman—who by his own account used heroin in his early 20s, then abstained for more than two decades before taking up the habit again in 2013—was hardly representative of the upward trend in heroin use that began around 2008, which consisted mainly of people trying the drug for the first time.

Hoffman was typical in at least one respect, however. He died not from a “heroin overdose,” as widely reported, but from “mixed drug intoxication” involving cocaine, amphetamine, and benzodiazepines as well as heroin. The combination of heroin and benzodiazepines, a class of drugs that includes Valium and Xanax, presumably was what killed him, since both depress respiration. The dangerous combination of depressants is a very common theme in so-called heroin overdoses, a fact that may help explain why such deaths have climbed dramatically in recent years—more dramatically than you would expect based on the increase in heroin consumption.

Note that it was the combination of drugs, not the heroin itself, that killed Hoffman.  Think about that for a moment.  Is it possible – just possible – that legal, regulated sales of heroin would be quality controlled and dosed to prevent these kinds of events?

BearIt may be so.  But the current War on Drugs has certainly not done anything to reduce the incidents of addiction and overdoses, while it has been damaging to the civil liberties of addicts and non-addicts alike.  We learned a lesson from Prohibition where alcohol was concerned.

Maybe it’s time we learned a similar lesson on drugs.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

If you spend as much time in airliners as I do, you’ve no doubt seen some odd stuff – but this American Airlines flight attendant takes the cake.  Excerpt:

An American Airlines flight attendant faces federal charges after she began attacking fellow crew members and U.S. marshals on both legs of an international flight from Charlotte.

Joanne Snow is charged with interference with flight crew members and attendants, and assault on an officer or employee of the United States, according to court documents related to the case.

Snow’s erratic behavior disrupted both legs of American flight 704 from Charlotte to Frankfurt, Germany, on Nov. 23 and 24, according to a federal affidavit.

According to the affidavit by federal Air Marshal Joseph D. Fialka, who was assigned to the round trip, Snow slapped other flight attendants and shoved, punched or kicked at marshals. Fialka says that other flight attendants told him before takeoff from Charlotte that they had tried to have Snow removed from duty but that American did not replace her.

FlightWhat’s interesting about this is that American apparently let Ms. Snow on a second flight after disrupting the first.  A passenger would have been booted and probably placed immediately under arrest, not to mention likely ending up on a no-fly list.

Now, spending a lot of time in air travel can be stressful.  Really stressful.  But flight crew should be professionals, and accustomed to the vagaries of airline excursions.  Ms. Snow should find herself seeking a new line of work after this outburst – one that doesn’t require travel.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

As always, thanks to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

This bright Monday morning finds yr. obdt. in Guadalajara!

It’s always interesting – and a neat perquisite of The Traveling Life – to see places like this.  I went from 26 degrees in Denver this morning to 80 degrees and some impressive humidity here in Jalisco State this afternoon.  Being the curious sort who likes to get out and about, I went on a brief (two cigar) walkabout this afternoon, and had a mushroom/sausage pizza and a couple of cervezas at a local place, both of which were pretty tasty.

Since yesterday was a long and tiring day and today is shaping up to be another long and tiring day, I’ll let some pictures do the talking of a few thousand words.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Yesterday’s totty was, as mentioned, due to a short-notice trip from Salt Lake City to Boston, in Sunday evening, back Tuesday morning.  Too quick to see anything in Beantown; there’s a lot of history in the area that would be interesting to view.  Breed’s Hill, the old Boston Common, the Old North Church, and so on.   I can’t abide the predominant politics of the Boston area, but there’s still a lot of American history in the area and one day I hope to have a better look around.

Not this time.  But the current project should have me back in Boston a few more times before we’re done.  (Also such places as Montreal, Guadalajara, Toledo, Los Angeles, Reynosa and Dallas.)

Before the story of the day, thanks once more to The Other McCain for the Rule Five linkery!

TrapshootMoving on:  I think I need one of these.  A real, effective live bird simulator that tosses clay birds on unpredictable paths could be a lot of fun.  Much as I love a few good rounds of 16 yard trap or a spot of sporting clays, the birds in both games fly in known arcs.  A more unpredictable clay-tosser may be more realistic practice for live birds.

Of course, good shooting technique is good shooting technique – and no matter how unpredictable the thrower, it can’t completely simulate the powered flight of a live bird.

But it would still be fun.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

A short post today, due to travel yesterday and a new project starting this morning.  Nobody ever said running a consulting business was easy.

The drive from Denver to Ogden was interesting, as it frequently is this time of year.  From Denver to Laramie was easy, with just a bit of snow starting from just south of the Wyoming border.  But I-80 from Laramie to just past Rawlins was a mess – wet, slushy and slick, with several jackknifed tractor-trailers on some of the higher areas.  Still, this northern route is frequently a safer bet this time of year than the southern route across I-70 to I-15, as that latter route takes you across several high mountain passes that can be treacherous in bad weather.  The Wyoming route passes through high, open, rather desolate country that can see some nasty winds and drifts, but the altitude rarely pops up above 8000 feet or so.

Navigating the West in winter can be a tricky business.

But, all is done, Rojito handled the wintry roads with its usual aplomb, and here we are ensconced in an Ogden hotel room until Friday – when the return trip across the same route will hopefully see better conditions.

Stay warm, True Believers!  Regular posts will resume tomorrow.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

2014_12_08_Goodbye Blue Monday
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Looks like yr. obdt. will be heading back to work soon, and not in any of the anticipated/feared locations (Cleveland or Frisco.)  No, it looks like the upcoming 3-6 month gig will be in a place I’ve worked before and loved – Ogden, Utah.


1) John Browning’s birthplace.  Seriously, maybe some of that gun designer genius will rub off?  If any True Believers happen to find themselves in Ogden, I highly recommend a visit to the Browning museum.  The hand-made prototypes of world-changing guns like the 1911 and the Auto-5 alone are worth the visit.

2) Climate/location.  8 hours from home by Rojito, 90 minutes by air.  Same time zone as the homestead.  Pretty much the same mild winters, at least compared to the upper Midwest where I’ve spent the last two winters.  Arrival will be too late for grouse hunting or much else, but rabbit seasons are open until end of February, so it may be worth taking a .22 along.

3) Scenery.  My previous visit to Ogden got cut short before I could get a good look at the Great Salt Lake, a genuinely unique landmark in this area – and the Wasatch Mountains are a great place to spend a weekend bumming around.

4) Folks.  Say what you will about Mormons, but in my experience they are some of the nicest, friendliest folks around – and there are enough gentiles in the Ogden area (gentile being the Mormon term for any non-Mormon) that I can get a beer if I want one.

2014_12_08_Goodbye Blue Monday II
Blue Monday Bonus!

So, it looks like a good gig coming up.  It may lack some of the perks of other locations I’ve worked, like southern California’s salubrious climate and ample supply of the Feminine Aesthetic, or Japan’s great food, beautiful scenery and wonderful wackiness, or Minnesota’s incredible fishing, but all in all I’ll take Ogden.

Travel will probably happen in the next few days.  And now that I’ve got my excitement about the new gig out in the open, regular news/commentary posts will return tomorrow at the latest.


Goodbye Blue Monday!

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

A few programming notes:

First, thanks yet again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Tomorrow evening we’ll be live-blogging as election results come in, with emphasis on our own Colorado elections but also notes on the national scene.  Stay tuned.

Also, the road beckons; much as I enjoy these between-project intervals, most of the business is work on large, long-term projects.  I have entered a bid on one such, a six-month project in the Bay Area.

As in, San Francisco.  California.

Hoo boy.  It’s a lovely old city with a lot of historical significance, but it’s also the epicenter of much of America’s more overt left-wing nutballery today.  (See any of the sterling work done by PJMedia columnist Zombie for examples.)

So, assuming I end up on the roster for this project, it should be an interesting piece of work-tourism all the way around, especially after coming off of a year in deep-red northern Indiana.

2014_11_3_RCP-SenateBut back to the election:  Tomorrow is the big day, and it looks like the Party of Obama is set for another shellacking.  Here’s the latest Senate map from RealClearPolitics:

Note that our own Colorado is in the tossup column, as is our old childhood stomping grounds state of Iowa, where Joni Ernst is 2014_11_3_RCP-Senate-Notossupwidening her lead.  A look at RCP’s no-tossup map lands both those and several others in the GOP column, which gives the Republicans a 52-seat majority in the Senate:

Personally I’m not counting out Kansas or North Carolina yet, either, and Louisiana may be a cliffhanger until January.  But still, 52 seats is do-able for the GOP. A solid Republican majority sidelines daffy old Joe Biden as a potential Senate tie-breaker and will (or, at least, should) result in a tsunami of GOP bills headed for the President’s desk, forcing him to either shit or get off the pot.

We’ll find out tomorrow night.  Stay tuned.  It should be quite a ride.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Our thanks once again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links, and we hope you enjoyed the vacation Rule Five posts.  Las Vegas was, as usual, fine in limited doses, and much steam was blown off.  Yr. obdt. is now in much improved state of mind and ready for more work.

Which is a good thing, as I find myself back in northern Indiana this morning for another on-site stint.

But I digress.  Back to Las Vegas for a moment:

Vegas by Night.
Vegas by Night.

Las Vegas is a place that is not quite like any other place in the United States, except perhaps (and only perhaps) Atlantic City, and never having been there I can’t really compare.  But Vegas is a great place for:

  • Shows
  • Food
  • Gambling (if you’re into that)
  • Best of all – people-watching.

On shows, we went and saw , the Cirque Du Soleil show currently running at the MGM Grand.  I recommend this how if you’re ever able to take it in – like most Cirque Du Soleil shows it is magnificent in scope and execution, with amazing acrobatics and a stunning soundtrack.  We took it in on a Tuesday evening and the auditorium was only 2/3 full, making for a comfortable experience.

Food:  Vegas used to be known for cheap, high-quality meals.  The first time I went there the Strip was loaded with “Prime Rib, $3.99” signs, the objective being to draw you in for your gambling dollars.  No longer.  Eating there is expensive; you can enjoy all manner of food from hot dogs to the ubiquitous massive buffets to elite dining, but you’ll pay for all of it.  If you’re on a budget, take a cooler and sandwich fixings to stretch your food dollar.

Gambling:  I don’t.  Mrs. Animal has a small fondness for penny slot machines, but keeps herself on a tight budget.  This time she came home about $30 ahead, a nice little bonus.

VegasAnd last but far from least:  People-watching.  I don’t just mean girls, although that’s certainly a high point.  Las Vegas is a popular destination for people from all over the world, and you can find yourself in conversation with people from such disparate places as Australia, eastern Europe, China, Japan or (as Mrs. Animal and myself did this trip) Jordan – that last being a young Christian couple from Jordan who (wisely) decided it was time for people of their religious persuasion to GTFO of that area.

Vegas is a place I can take for four or five days, then I’m ready to leave.  But in another two or three years, I’ll be ready to go back.

And now work beckons, so we now return you to your Monday, already in progress.