British Airways, Will You Marry Me?

F-WWSK-British-Airways-Airbus-A380-800_PlanespottersNet_384683

British Airways (“BA”) you are one of a kind. Not many people are fans of the airlines these days, but you are special. Your beautiful spirit has captured my heart  (to the extent possible when one is crammed into a tiny seat with no legroom for 10 hours).

And how do I love thee? To quote Elizabeth Barrett Browning, let me count the ways…

1. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height   

Your Airbus 380 double-deck, wide-body, four-engine jet airliner is the world’s largest passenger airliner, with a body so luxurious and perfectly sized that I can fit in the  bathroom without having to suck in my gut and grease the door frame.

2.My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight   

When I leave my seat to partake in your luxurious bathroom and suddenly in my absence both my kids start throwing up simultaneously, you are there with a kind smile, barf bags, warm towelettes and garment stain remover wipes. You even escorted my third-class kid to privately vomit in the exclusive first-class bathroom. Suck it, United Airlines. Barfing isn’t nearly as fun with you.

3. For the ends of Being and ideal Grace   

You gave me wine that I didn’t even ask for. On both the initial and return flights! Doesn’t get more ideal than that.

4. I love thee to the level of every day’s most quiet need, by sun and candle-light

As it turns out, every day’s most quiet need is an inflight entertainment system with which every seat, even those in the Economy (aka “poor person”) section, is equipped. This fabulous private entertainment system not only includes dozens of free movies and TV shows but also modern versions of Atari game favorites like Space Invaders and Asteroids…not to mention the ability to instant message other passengers you don’t know and are probably sleeping. (This IM thing is a key selling point to Millennials and anyone sitting across the aisle from a dude who took off his shoes and needs to be gently informed that his feet are stinking out the cabin.)

5. I love thee freely, as men strive for Right

If my literary analysis is correct, this line has to do with willing and intense love, which is exactly what I felt when I tasted your delectable gourmet entrees including savory chicken, mouth-watering polenta and dessert pudding which, as correctly described on the package, was an “indulgent blend of milk and dark chocolate infused with fresh orange zest.” Again, people, I was in ECONOMY CLASS.

6.I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

Pure British accents…need I say more?

7. I love thee with the passion put to use

I am so passionate that from now on I’ll plan my vacations around where BA flies. I may not even get off the airplane – I’ll just fly back and forth for a week.

So, BA, what do you say? Will you marry me?

 

Advertisements

Q & A With An Unsuccessful Blogger: Bad Answers to Your Good Questions

I like to pretend I have a blog. I say pretend, because I am not in the slightest bit successful. I only have about 20 followers, 19 of which are family members I force to read my blog under threat of no Christmas gifts. Over the year or so that I’ve been a “blogger”, my readers (aka family members who receive Christmas gifts from me) have asked me many questions about blogging. At the risk of breaking the Unsuccessful Blogger Code of Silence (UBCOS) and being banned from the world of bad bloggers, I will address these questions.

Q: How do you start a blog?

A: If you’re a Millennial, set up an account on WordPress.com and go from there. It’s intuitive.
If you’re from Generation X, get a bottle of wine, go to WordPress.com and pound wildly on your keyboard until you manage to launch a blog or are too drunk to care.

Q: Why do you write a blog?

A: lt’s simple. Since I have to live through this insanity, I had mind as well share the pain. Besides, I have to listen to your crap at the family reunions, so consider us even.

Q: Is your life really as nutty as you make it sound? (Only people with no kids and no job ask this question.)

A: Look, I can’t make this stuff up. If I were that creative I’d be making tons of money as a Hollywood screenwriter. 95% of what I write about I either experienced or observed. The other 5% is the result of hallucinations brought on by the alcohol my kids drove me drink.

Q: What inspires you?

A: It’s not about inspiration. Instead the name of the game is self-preservation, coupled with a strong desire to not go to jail. If I write about the neighbors’ obese, 11 year old, asthmatic Chihuahua, then I don’t feel as strong a need to throttle the thing when I find out that it’s the source of the rattling, wheezing noise every night that had me terrified I was going to be attacked by some kind of deranged science experiment cooked up in their basement.

I know that sounds mean, but in my defense, I pretty much had to keep my karate nunchucks at my side for a year. (In case you weren’t aware, nunchucks are proven to be the best defense against science experiments gone wrong. You don’t even have to know how to use them – just wave them around wildly to look intimidating. Note, however, that you should always wear a helmet when flinging nunchucks around wildly, as there is a 90% chance you will hit yourself in the head…and that hurts.)

Q: You work full time and have kids. How do you have time to blog?

A: It’s really not as hard as it seems. All you have to do is produce low quality, sub-standard work product and feed your kids cereal for dinner. By keeping people’s expectations low, I find I’m able to squeeze out free time for hobbies.

Q: How long does it take you to compose a post?

A: Anywhere from 2 hours to 2 weeks. I’m much faster now that I don’t have to carry nunchucks around and have both hands free to type.

How Well are you Integrating on Your European Vacation? Take This Short Quiz to Find Out.

In the past two weeks, I’ve written a few blog posts about our recent vacation to Europe to visit my husband’s family and our friends. One thing which has become abundantly clear is that it’s tough being an American in Europe. Sure I lived there for several years, but that was in the 1990’s and I’m clearly out of practice, not to mention old.

To help Americans figure out how well they’re integrating while on their European vacation, I’ve put together this helpful quiz. If you’re American, or just want to play along, then place a check mark next to any of the below things you’ve experienced or done. Once completed, total the number of check marks and read the result which corresponds with your score.

1. Every conversation ends up with a discussion of American politics. You’re slightly embarrassed when you realize most Europeans know more than you do about what’s happening in your own country. You quickly check Facebook for some talking points; if something has at least 1,000 likes then it must be true.

2. Since these European people seem to really know their stuff, you pull out your voters’ guide to the next elections to get their take on your local upcoming propositions. You feel like you’re doing your civic duty now, since you were just going to flip a coin. Let’s be honest people, it’s too hard to actually understand what you’re voting on!

3. Your Swiss friends complain that Americans think Switzerland is the same country as Sweden. Wait, there’s a difference? You probably shouldn’t have copied off your friend’s test in 7th grade geography.

4. You’re impressed by the different coins worth several dollars. In fact, you proudly tip the helpful bartender the biggest coin in your wallet. You later discover it was worth two cents.

5. You spend most of your vacation in London trying not to get run over. Why do they drive on the wrong side of the street anyway? Those wacky foreigners!

6. You get excited at the prospect of eating at a “real English pub.” Soggy peas are exotic, you know.

7. You have to go to the bathroom after eating all those peas, but you can’t fit in the stall.

8. You search your purse for your cell phone to find out what time it is; you forget you’re standing in front of Big Ben.

9. When crossing London Bridge you cleverly lead the family in a rendition of “London Bridge is Falling Down.” An elderly local man passing by gently points out to you that you’re actually on Tower Bridge. You try to convince yourself that you’re really right, since every bridge in London is a London bridge.

10. Even British people insulting you sounds sexy. Who cares what they’re saying, as long as they keep talking!

11. After you get back to America, you try to impress your friends by using British expressions. “Those pub peas were absolutely brilliant. It’s a shame I couldn’t fit in the toilet.”

Score

1-3 Check Marks: You’re a little nutty, but so am I. Overall you’re doing a good job of representing your country. Continue keeping your mouth shut and your ears open.

4-8 Check Marks: You need some help here. Consult a few reputable news feeds and a map before going back to Europe. To really fit in on your next trip, buy a pair of red shorts and ankle socks. At least you’ll look like a native.

9 -11 Check Marks: Call the government and have your passport revoked. No one this crazy should be let out of the country.

10 Signs Your Vacation is NOT Normal

I recently wrote a blog post entitled “Rate Your European Vacation – A Short Quiz.” Unfortunately, I quickly noticed that publishing that post was premature, since we were still on vacation and overwhelmingly subjected to further torture by the Vacation Gods. In pursuit of my mission to provide cutting edge (albeit clearly uninspiring and unprofessional) journalism, I feel it is my duty to continue on with this topic. Thus I present to you, my loyal readers, 10 signs your vacation is not normal (and has probably landed you in the Twilight Zone.)

1. The side of the hotel room’s shower/tub combo is so high, you have to hoist yourself up on the edge and roll over the top. You wonder if pole vaulting in would be easier. Good thing the Olympics are on – you can watch the professionals to learn proper technique.

2. The bedsheets are starched like nothing you’ve experienced since the 1970’s. At least you wake up freshly exfoliated. Now you can cancel that expensive spa treatment you have planned when you get back.

3. The TV is set up so you can only see it by looking into the mirror above the bathroom sink.

4. After running around the ruins of the nearby ancient Roman amphitheater, your kids relax by watching YouTube on their iPads.

5. The hotel furniture your kids are relaxing on is so old you suspect it too may have belonged to the Romans. You entertain yourself by inspecting it for Latin inscriptions.

6. You find some.

7. The horse you take a selfie with while visiting your brother in-law’s farm keeps nudging you until you show it the picture. You wonder if it wants you to tag it on Facebook.

8. You watch in awe as a wasp lands on your dinner, bites off a piece of meat and flies away with it. You consider trying to sic that wasp and its relatives on the hotel’s manager, who turned off your Wifi without telling you and then went to bed.

9. After watching the Olympics every night from his bathroom sink mirror, your English-speaking dad has managed to pick up enough German to fill you in on all the highlights. By the end of the first week, he starts correcting your German grammatical errors. You fear what will happen now that he’s switched to the Italian channel.

10. You spend every morning at the hotel breakfast buffet trying to figure out how many packs of hot chocolate you have to steal to make up for the outrageous cost of the room. On second thought, you might recoup your losses more quickly by selling the Roman artifact furniture on eBay. Your plan is foiled when you realize the manager still hasn’t turned back on your Wifi.

What Kind of Parent are You? Take This Quiz to Find Out.

I’m a bad parent. There, I said it. No matter how much I want to be a good parent, I usually end up either yelling at my kids, drinking alcohol or staring at my iPhone. Sometimes, I even manage to do all three at the same time. If you are not sure how you are doing as a parent and would like some honest feedback, then take this quiz. (Note that if you end up with the result of “douchebag parent”, I probably know you and will see you at next month’s PTA meeting. Don’t worry, the results of this quiz are anonymous.)

1. Your daughter makes the school honor roll, you

A) Are proud of her. Her hard work is paying off.

B) Run out and stick the “My child is an honor roll student” bumper sticker on your minivan. Now all the PTA moms at drop off and pick up will be secretly jealous.

C) Are irritated that she still got a few B’s. Your competitive streak might be getting a little out of hand. You wonder if there is medication to help wackos like you. In the meantime, you find those third graders that got straight A’s and challenge them to a duel.

2. It’s time for your child to choose an instrument for the school music class, and he chooses the trumpet, you

A) Tell him that’s a great idea. What a fun instrument!

B) Enroll him in private lessons 5 days a week, so you can brag to your friends and everyone in the supermarket about how well he plays.

C) Try to convince him to play the flute instead. Trumpets are too loud and you’ve got your nerves to worry about. When he complains, you offer to let him switch out the flute for the triangle. Hey, the triangle is a respectable instrument!

3. Both you and your kid take karate lessons. You:

A) Love that you have found an activity you can bond over.

B) Make her wear her karate gi and belt to school so everyone will be impressed by her clear martial arts superiority. You decide to wear your gi and belt to the next PTA meeting for the same reason.

C) Accidentally split her lip while teaching her some sparring moves. After the bleeding stops, you try to console her by showing her all the bruises you got from your lessons last week. Two years later she still hasn’t let you live that down.

4. Your 7 year old has started putting on makeup every day, you:

A) Let her wear it around the house but explain that she’s too young to wear it in public.

B) Take head shots and send them to the nearest modeling agency. You can’t wait until everyone sees her in the next Walmart ad.

C) Get her to teach you how she does that neat thing with the eye shadow.

5. Your kids’ rooms are a mess, you:

A) Patiently explain that this is unacceptable and supervise them as they clean up. You help put away those toys that go on the top shelves.

B) Put everything away yourself. The Mom’s Club is coming over, and you want them to think your kids are neater than their kids.

C) Yell and scream. When this doesn’t work, you yell and scream louder and threaten to throw everything out that is cluttering your house. When your kids finally start cleaning up, you find at least ten items that have been missing for months, including the remote control. At least you can finally watch tv again.

6. Your children take swimming lessons in the summer. You,

A) Watch their progress at every lesson and cheer them on.

B) Take a video of another kid doing the butterfly and pretend it’s yours. No one can tell who that is in the water anyway, so your deception will never be revealed.

C) Watch the first five minutes and then drift off for the rest of the hour. You gotta sleep where you can; yelling at your kids all morning was exhausting.

7. Your child is hungry for breakfast. She asks for pancakes, you:

A) Show her how to make them herself and watch patiently as she spills flour all over your freshly cleaned kitchen floor. No worries; that’s why they invented vacuum cleaners.

B) Ignore the request and instead spend 2 hours making a “European” gourmet breakfast that your kid and the rest of the family hate. You then post the pictures on social media. Damn, you’re good.

C) Throw some frozen pancakes in the microwave but forget to turn it on, because you got distracted by the text message you just received. You admit you’re not good at multitasking.

8. Every night you,

A) Read at least 20 minutes with your child. It’s been proven that reading with children leads to success.

B) Falsify his school reading log so it looks like he reads 4 hours a day. His teacher will be so impressed!

C) Drink wine while you and your kid watch Wheel of Fortune. C’mon, people, that show involves reading! Good thing you found the remote.

9. You find out someone is bullying your kid before school, you:

A) Talk to the school principal and the bully’s parents to try to resolve the issue.

B) Cry to anyone who will listen about how your baby is being treated unfairly.

C) Tell your kid to jump out of the bushes and ambush the bully. Those karate lessons are expensive, so you mind as well get your money’s worth.

10. Your 11 year old wants you to teach the class’s volunteer art lessons for the third year in a row. However, her class is full of psychos who have managed to traumatize all the teachers they’ve had since kindergarten. You,

A. Agree to do it. In a few years, she won’t want you anywhere near her friends.

B. Bribe the class with homemade cupcakes. Make sure the yearbook committee shows up for the photo op.

C. Do it, but jump out of the bushes the next day and scare the crap out of everyone who didn’t listen. The principal forbids you from ever teaching art lessons again.

Scoring:

Mostly A’s – You are a great parent and undoubtedly played classical music for your kids when they were babies. Why are you taking this stupid quiz? Go do something productive as usual.

Mostly B’s – Congratulations, you are a complete douchebag. Like you, your kid is a sniveling brat with no friends. Maybe if the school bully slaps you a few times, you’ll wake up to reality.

Mostly C’s – Like me, you stink as a parent. You love your kids, but you’re too exhausted to have much patience. On the bright side, at least you recognize your shortcomings. That should count for something, right? Consider checking yourself into therapy and, in the meantime, don’t teach art.

Rate Your European Vacation – A Short Quiz

As much as I look forward to our family vacations, an analysis of our trips has revealed that there is at least a 50% chance that events of an inexplicable and downright bizarre nature will take place. In fact, these odds shoot up to 90% for our European travels. Now, don’t get me wrong – I love Europe. Not only did I live in Switzerland and Italy for most of the 1990’s, but I married a European. That said, I have noticed over time that our vacations to that continent seem to be increasingly stranger, not to mention somewhat distressing.

If you’ve recently traveled to Europe and are wondering if your vacation was fun and normal or weird and depressing, then take this short quiz. Just place a check mark next to any of the below occurrences you experienced. Once completed, total the number of check marks and read the result that corresponds with your score.

1. The flight is so outrageously expensive you wonder if the kids really need that 529 college savings account. On the bright side, the plane ride includes a dinner that is surprisingly delicious. In fact, you are even tempted to post a picture of your meal on social media… that is, until you realize that no one will be impressed, since the tin meal tray makes your delectable polenta look like a Lean Cuisine.

2. Your kids forgo the tasty food and instead down an entire bag of Goldfish crackers while watching an endless loop of Peppa Pig on the inflight entertainment system. You definitely won’t post a picture of that dinner.

3. Despite the lack of turbulence and the Dramamine you shoved down their throats, your kids take turns throwing up for the duration of the 12 hour trip. You pat yourself on the back for having had the foresight to pack everyone a change of clothes in your carry-on. Your happiness is short lived, though, when you realize you forgot the mouthwash.

4. You are staying at a three-star hotel, but the usual amenities that you take for granted are missing. Instead of miniature bottles of shampoo and conditioner, you inherit the half-empty bottle of body wash the last guest left in the shower.

5. You can’t use the body wash, because there aren’t any washcloths.

6. You realize after washing the remaining vomit out of your hair (with the shampoo you brought yourself) that you have to go to the hotel reception to ask for a hair dryer.

7. While handing you the hair dryer, the hotel’s manager proudly declares you can keep it in your room for the duration of your stay, since he “has enough of them.”

8. You’re grateful, since the last hotel you stayed in didn’t even have a hair dryer…you had to borrower one from your in-laws, whom you were visiting down the street.

9. The hotel maid nearly walks into your room twice while you are naked, since there aren’t any “Do Not Disturb” door hangers. You wonder if the door hangers are in the same dusty storage facility as the washcloths.

10. The shop across the street from your in-laws is literally called “ISIL”. Once you recover from the shock, you can’t help but wonder what they sell.

11. Your kid wakes you up at 3 a.m., because she fell asleep on top of the covers and is cold. You are not amused, since the combination of beer and sleeping pills you tried out to combat jet lag was finally starting to work.

Score

1-4 check marks: you had a little bad luck, but overall you really did have a great time. A little vomit and jet lag never hurt anyone, so stop complaining and go make a photo book of your adventure.

5-8 check marks: your vacation was a little rocky, but at least you got to visit family and friends. Don’t blame Europe; you had some weird experiences at that motel you stayed at in New Mexico. Next time bring your own washcloths and hair dryer and get your 7 year old to make you a “Do Not Disturb” sign. Also, stay in a more expensive hotel, you cheapskate.

9-11 check marks: to numb the pain, keep drinking beer with sleeping pills. The good news is, thanks to your kids, your memory is shot; give it a year or so and you’ll be ready to hit the Old World again.

 

 

 

 

Jump Into That New Job With Confidence

Dilbert New Job

Starting a new position can be somewhat nerve-racking. Not having changed jobs in over 7 years, I was somewhat anxious when I started with my new employer recently. Of course I was also really excited, having left my prior employer for an intriguing opportunity (translation: “more money”).

But, even with dreamy thoughts of the new gas-saving, carpool lane-eligible Chevy Volt I was hoping to purchase with my increased salary, as my first day approached, butterflies filled my stomach. Would I be able to win over my colleagues with my brilliance and wit? Would my office have a couch in it? Would I be able to map the new printers to my computer when the IT guy fails to show up after 3 days of nagging? Would the coffee machines be even less hygienic than the grimy coffee pots I was used to?

Well, rest assured, two months down this new road, I am here to tell you that if you too are contemplating making a leap to new employment, there truly is nothing to fear. In fact, you should be confident. You will soon find that, money aside, there really are some great upsides to the new gig and when it comes down to it, the usual stuff you’re used to at the workplace isn’t much different. Here are some concrete examples, to put you at ease:

New Upside: The travel expense and timekeeping systems are easier to use.

Usual Stuff: In theory this is true. In reality, you have no idea, since it takes weeks to actually get access. To avoid wanting to throttle someone in IT at your new company and winding up explaining your violent actions to Human Resources, don’t go on any business trips or get sick for at least a month.

New Upside: The Human Resources Department has a direct support line staffed with helpful, internal employees. 

Usual Stuff: When you finally get access to the timekeeping system, you realize after running a few calculations that your vacation isn’t accruing correctly. The external, non- Human Resources staff who are responsible for fixing the issue, argue with you that the “computer isn’t wrong.”

New Upside: You work with a really friendly group of people who take time out of their day to teach you the ropes.

Usual Stuff: You still have no idea what the statisticians are saying. (Tip: just complain loudly about “data quality” and shout “chi-square” (pronounced: kīskwer) every few minutes, and you’ll make it through the discussion.)

New Upside: You hear about an exciting new project at the company.

Usual Stuff: You find out the project is staffed with consultants who get paid obscene amounts of money to put together colorful presentations with “swim lanes” (complete with “swim sprints”) and made-up words like “ideation.” When you look more closely, you find they were too busy doing important consultant stuff to worry about spell check or slightly racist undertones in their “user profile” slides.

New Upside: You get a huge new office with a couch. Wow, you’re really moving up in the world.

Usual Stuff: Facilities can’t seem to fix the overhead light which makes a constant loud buzzing noise. It looks like there will be no napping on that couch after all. Besides, it’s easier to work from home than sit in traffic for an hour.

New Upside: Working from home means you get to see your kids more often.

Usual Stuff: Your kids find every opportunity to interrupt you. You consider padlocking your office door and investing in a noise cancellation headset.

New Upside: Once you have access to the travel expense system, you travel across the country on exciting business trips.

Usual Stuff: Your last flight home is delayed by two hours, because no one can figure out how to fix the plane’s coffee maker.

 

As you can see, there really is no reason not to take on that new opportunity that recently presented itself. In addition to the many favorable things that await you, you won’t be pushed too far outside your comfort zone, because you will still get to deal with the same crap you’re used to. And if you have an extra bit of luck like me, the germy coffee pots will have been replaced by a Keurig.