The Modern Traveler

subtitle: I Just Flew In From Denver And Boy Is My Ass Tired

It’s been a little while since I traveled by air on a business trip and I noticed some significant changes:

TSA Pre√ -“TSA Pre✓™ allows low-risk travelers to experience faster, more efficient screening at participating U.S. airport checkpoints for domestic and international travel.”

TSA Pre✓™ Experience:

  • Quicker transit through airport lanes
  • Shorter lines
  • Shorter wait times
  • Improved customer experience
No Removal of:

  • Belt
  • Shoes
  • Light outerwear/jacket
  • 3-1-1 compliant bag and laptop from carry-on

Plus there are designated lanes! No more getting stuck behind a family traveling with toddlers – meaning seats, strollers, bags, snacks to be rummaged through, little shoes to be removed and put on again and little lost socks. It’s about damn time. While the federal government might consider every traveler an equal security risk, apparently the TSA does not. There’s an application fee and process but this designation was just plopped onto my boarding pass.

I hope this trend continues and that they once again allow full size cans of hairspray in carry-ons.

NOTE: Although this is a generally positive piece about the TSA, I still do not forgive them for stealing my hand-tooled leather cosmetics case. Perhaps I’ve mentioned this before?  I had dinner with a brand new group of people this week and I told them the whole story. I could not get them riled up about it, but I will never forget nor forgive.

New uniforms for United crews  The link has an article that says the fashion world reaction to the new designs are “meh” but I think that’s an understatement.  Here’s a picture but you could just as easily look in the dictionary for the definition of frumpy:

United debuted its new fleet-wide uniforms this week, designed based on employee feedback to be solid work-wear, but they drew poor marks from fashion critics.
United debuted its new fleet-wide uniforms this week, designed based on employee feedback to be solid work-wear, but they drew poor marks from fashion critics.

My flight from Newark to Denver had about 15 United employees on it so I got to observe not just the stews but a good cross section of pilots as well.

  • The counter people are almost invisible in their extreme blahness
  • The in-flight crew dresses are a weird combination of shaped and baggy
  • Male stews are still dressed like pretend pilots
  • Actual pilot’s uniforms have not yet been updated
  • Lady pilots wear man pilot uniforms, although they might be cut differently. Lady pilots over compensate by wearing a lot of jewelry,  unless they all need those multiple rings for their second jobs as  fortune tellers.

Still unaddressed is the serious issue about hairdos. It’s like the ladies go out of their way to look unkempt. If we’re talking about a uniform look, then I think there needs to be some kind of mandate about an approved, uniform hairstyle. Something like the Rockettes or the women in the Robert Palmer Addicted To Love video.

Here’s a United  fashion show displaying all variations of the new uniforms:

Is anyone else reminded of the video below?

Luxury Taxi Service in Denver  The ground transportation business in Denver is highly competitive and you can have an unmarked town car, limo or luxury vehicle for the same cost or less as a conventional yellow cab. And you get the royal treatment by the drivers, too. Going into Lodo, I rode in a Cadillac Escalade and going out I had a Jaguar.

At the end of each trip, the driver hands you a business card and says they would like to serve you again and please call them the next time you come back to Denver. In both of my rides mentioned above, the cards revealed that the owners of the business were the drivers operating the vehicles and interacting with the customers.  That is entrepreneurism in its purest form. America!

Of course, it is still Denver where an enormous bicycle culture thrives and so there are a large number of human-powered pedicabs. The humans in this case are either underemployed hipsters or of the tattooed, nose ringed, white-people-with-dreadlocks variety and it is unclear to me if they can take you anywhere except a marijuana store or a brand new building designed to look like a repurposed factory.

Luggage The more you travel, the lighter you pack. I managed to do a 4-day trip with only a rolling business bag and a moderately large Urban Expressions handbag. Packing is one of my talents.

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I took a cream-colored handbag because I packed at the last minute and couldn’t find my large black Ameribag.

This computer bag  was a Christmas present from Sami and matches 2 suitcases he had given me for a previous occasion and it cost no small amount of money. Even though it has a 4 1/2 star rating on Amazon, it is quite crappy and I’m going to return it.

It did get me there and back without incident but I was not at all sure that would be the outcome. The fabric is puckered, the zippers looked like they were not going to be able to survive my packing challenge and the handle was a nightmare. When extended, it had a high degree of wobbliness. I dare it it should be described as “twisting” and collapsing it was difficult at best. In fact, when I got home, the handle would not collapse at all and Sami had to insert something to release the pins on each segment by poking them with the tapered end of a chopstick.

Here’s one for sale on eBay. I know exactly how this happened.

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So now I’m back in the market for another rolling case and I’m considering a Baggallini. Any Baggallini product I have still looks like the day I bought it and I’ve never had any quality issues with them. Does anyone have any experience with these rolling cases – either the original or the newer design? If yes, I would appreciate hearing from you about it.


I miss you and really want to hear from all of you. My Gmail inbox bings constantly but all of my mail – save for one blessed comment from Liz today – is targeted advertising and confirmation of on-line purchases. This is what I mean – the frequent communicators who want me to buy/use their stuff:

  • Handbags Handbag Heaven sends me something almost every day. I don’t want to filter these out because what if something really good comes along? Which it sometimes does. Other emailers of less frequency in this category are DSW and BagMadness.
  • Queen Sized Clothing Catalogs There are three vaguely related companies that email daily from each catalog with a hard-to-resist email-only discount coupon. My daughter describes the clothing in these catalogs as meant for people who never want to leave the house. Occasionally, I’ll get something from  Nordstroms or Marisota and then I feel good about myself again.
  • Daily missives about my last chance to save at sale prices, alternating with notices for extensions of the sale prices. A person might suddenly need an area rug so I allow these to come into my main mailbox.
  • Internet applications. Tumblr, Google Analytics, Foursquare, Twitter – they all want me to know what I’m missing. Not much, I think.
  • Replacements Ltd. I am stalking a certain china pattern from 1954 and I need these bulletins to let me know if anything has become available for sale. I am aged and have more dishes than any one household can use but the dream on this china this is what keeps me alive.
  • The Metropolitan Opera Once 4 or 5 years ago, I bought tickets to Madame Butterfly online and they have been after me ever since. I had to block their phone calls asking me to buy season subscriptions and they really aren’t too too much of a pain during the year but come Christmas season – look out!
  • Flyers from Christmas Tree Shops  I welcome these with open arms. If anything can take away the pain of no messages from actual  human beings, it’s this. If you don’t have a Christmas Tree Shop near you, I pity you. It’s a supermarket-sized store filled with things that nobody needs but everybody wants because they are so unbelievable cheap. Anybody want a Queen-sized air mattress for $39.99?
  • Politicians  Chris Christie must be exhausted from pushing the send button on all those emails. I get the occasional letter from the PA Governor or Senators, but that I think that’s because I once wrote to Arlen Specter to tell him off and I had to use my PA address to do it. I made sure to block out all  NJ-D pols, including  my congressman Frank Pallone , who is a well-known ferret with square hair, a little eye and a deep and abiding love for Nancy Pelosi.

Anyway. Readers,  I miss you all and would love to hear from you once in a while.

Be Still My Heart

I used to have a bag that looked just like this Coach knock-off (until the cap came off of a dark blue fiber point pen and bled through the leather to the outside making a 3″ round splotch. sad face.).

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I saw this yesterday in a Lands’ End catalog and got all excited. I’d be willing to plunk down $248.00 (no I wouldn’t) for what I consider to be the perfect bag – understated, well-crafted, timeless design. But when I went to check it out on their website this morning, I see two giant red flags in their bulleted selling points:

  1. Interior lining wipes clean
  2. Polished gold metal hardware

Interior lining wipes clean? That’s a selling point for a $248.00 handbag? Maybe it is for a diaper bag or an insulated six-pack bag but not for a leather lady bag. That’s the show stopper right there.

And what, I wonder, is “gold metal” hardware? Is it gold metal as in the 14K type or is it metal that is gold color? If it’s gold metal of the 14K type then $248.00 is a real bargain.

So I guess there’s not  much to be excited about after all.

Bonus information! Category: Parisian Whorehouse  Now that I have a name for it, I just never realized how very P. W. my bedroom already is. As soon as it was identified, I knew that I had to move two putti from my dining room buffet up to the bedroom dresser. these belonged to my mother and I date them to probably 1975 for arrival into her house. I can’t imagine what got into her – her taste tended to lean towards more simple things and clean lines and when these things came on board, they might as well have been illuminated in a red spotlight for how much they stood out. She always kept bunches of soft plastic grapes in the bowls.

Don’t be distracted by the paint test spots, the old picture hooks or the Christmas decorations in the urns – imagine those pine cones and needles are roses and ranunculus – and just focus on how very at home these things would be in an actual Parisian whorehouse.

My mother was the most careful person on the planet so I imagine she was downright sick when she dropped one of these while dusting them and the whole head and the urn snapped off. She glued back what pieces she could find and frankly, no one even noticed the damage despite fairly large chunks obviously missing. I surmise that no one really wanted to lay eyes on these in their place at the bottom of the living room steps that we went up and down a down times a day.

FYI – we never referred to these statuettes (I guess) as “putti”. We called them “the angel statues” or “Those things over there”.

Hey Hey LBJ

Love your cute little baby ears, Lyndon.


photo found at Our Presidents

Happy Birthday, LBJ!

On August 27th, the LBJ Library and Museum will offer birthday cake and refreshments so that visitors can commemorate the birthday of Lyndon Baines Johnson. He would have been 105 years old.

Ah Lyndon. there was nobody else like him.

The way things were: a styrofoam baby boogie board, SPF-nothing and a wet dog.

Here’s two lovely little birthday videos from 1964. I can’t get the audio on either one of them. It is a pity.

In 1964, LBJ cuts his birthday cake in the shape of the United

LBJ at his birthday party in Atlantic City, is greeted by crowd in various national dress. One group begins to sing “Happy Birthday.” Sign says Happy Birthday. link

Update: Here’s the NBC footage of that same birthday celebration at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City. this one has audio and a few bonus moments:

  • Danny Thomas glomming onto LBJ’s arm for the march to the cake then photobombing the cake cutting itself
  • An orchid corsage pinned to Lady Bird’s trim handbag
  • Lyndon laughing as he waves a big knife in the general direction of the Kennedys

Shopping Tip Of The Day

I’ve been carrying around an Urban Expressions “Sandra” wallet in Kelly Green for about three years. I say wallet because that’s what they call it but it’s really a self-contained universe all on its own. It’s got two open-wide kisslock sections, a deep zippered pocket and some easy access card slots – that’s a lot of storage for the average purse, let alone wallet.  I do put it in a big purse or a laptop bag as the situation calls for, but I most often carry it alone into stores or out to dinner. It makes a quite a sensation when you slap it down on the bar at Martini Night.

I love this thing so much that I’m sharing my Shopping Tip Of The Day with you. It regularly retails for $35 – 40 but Shoemall has it now in gold metallic and black patent finishes for $14.00 plus 20% off and free shipping.  That’s $11.99 for a $40 item. And when you consider that this is a knock off of a combination of Hobo’s Lauren and dear departed Laurette  wallets which go for $110 – 160+, just think of the savings.


Here is my own (I should say “old” because I just bought the gold one from Shoemall) rather lumpy but überfunctional wallet, shown both packed and unpacked:


On one side, I keep my money, my phone and my earbuds. On the other – and this is what makes this wallet so fabulous – I carry:

  • a baggie full of antibacterial handwipes, bandaids, safety pins and a Tide Pen
  • my rarely worn but sometimes necessary  clip-on name badge
  • whatever jewelry I take off while I’m on the road
  • a random key to something
  • an ink pen
  • a comb
  • a folding mirror
  • a pill box
  • an emery board
  • 2 lipsticks
  • my good luck hope the plane doesn’t crash Padre Pio keychain
  • a magnifier
  • a small note pad

When the wallet lies open, there are the usual credit and insurance cards and driver’s lisence. I keep receipts and some extra folding money in the zippered part. Really, it’s miracle of function and design.