Monday, December 23, 2013

Ode to Plebians and Peons

Once a year every year for the past three years I have been gifted a wonderful early Christmas gift. This is indirectly and graciously given to me by all the peasants on their holiday journeys to visit friends and family. I too am about to be on such a journey. I take plenty of trips every year, and never ever get seat upgrades. The reason is that I am just about the very bottom of the bottom of the barrel of fliers with airline status. Each year I attain just a few miles over the minimum for status and thus am among the dregs who are qualified for upgrades (but never actually get them).

But this time of year when the airport gates are packed to the brim and people are packed like sardines into the ballistic aluminum cylinders, the ratio of important people to the rabble decreases. And it decreases sufficiently for an important person like myself to achieve that much vaunted upgrade to first class.

But at this point I have to say, I really don't think first class is all that. It's certainly not worth the money. Sure you have a little more space. Sure you get free drinks. Sure you don't have to wait for the bathroom. But big deal. Of course this is coming from someone who's 5'7" and 140lbs soaking wet. I fit quite nicely into the tiny airline living spaces provided in coach. Of course it's nice to get to hobnob with the elites of society once a year and pretend that I am actually someone; when it's free.

And here I come huge aluminum cylinder filled with recycled air. Be good to me.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Personal Stimulation

I have a new ride that I'm struggling to get a handle on. Big cars are a bit unwieldy and not very responsive so I feel weird driving it. This is what it looks like:

Here's what my old car looked like:

Just kidding, it looks like an old, dirty version of this, except VR6 rather than TDI and a broken antenna:

And everyone who knows me well is instantly curious why I would now have this boat of a car. I've been planning a car purchase for quite a while now, and here I am driving around something that is the last car I would add to my list of consideration.

So why the land yacht? Well, on my drive home last night I noticed the temperature gauge in my car creeping up beyond the its position halfway up the dial.  And by the time I got home it was in the red and steam was beginning to billow out of the engine. Fortunately it at least waited until I was home to blow up on me. This morning I located the nearest autoshop, drove it over, and luckily arrived just about the time Mr Jetta was about to overheat again. 

Being unsure what the prognosis would be and thinking it might cost nearly as much as the car's worth and adding in the fact that I am planning to buy a new car very very soon, I figured I'd rent a car for today and maybe through the weekend for some shopping. A quick call to the enterprise just down the street provided me with a positive response and they drove over to pick me up... in the land yacht pictured above. 

Apparently the prolonged sub-zero temps we've been suffering through lately has put a lot of people in the situation I find myself in, and this was the only car they had left so I got it at a bargain basement price. 

I also found myself in a similar situation earlier this week. I had a plumber out to do some work that I've been putting off for quite some time. In chatting with him it turns out that they're also incredibly busy repairing all sorts of busted and frozen pipes. 

There are a ton of depressing ways to look at our current cold snap, mostly involving personal discomfort.  But apparently the tiny silver lining to this massive thunderhead of doom is a forced economic stimulus. Plenty of people are being forced to shell out extra unplanned cash for bare necessities they (I) took for granted. You're welcome economy. I'm glad to have participated in your stimulation.

Now can I get my money back through massive economic growth next year and a gargantuan raise, please? Tit for tat, you know.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Snow Day!

Blue moons are much more common in the Portland area than snow days. Yet today, we have one. Sort of. 

On my drive in to work this morning I was struck by the ridiculosity of what I was hearing on the radio. A couple of schools closed, a few more with delayed start hours, and all of Portland's school buses were on "snow routes." I know what you're thinking: it must be pretty bad here but not horrible since most schools will still be open. 

Well, you'd be wrong. It's blizzard-like out there! Just check out how bad my drive in was:

I was lucky I made it in. And yes that was just about the worst of it.

In all seriousness, I feel sorry for kids in Portland. I remember how glorious real snow days were. Waking up with a foot or more of snow on the ground with more coming down. Sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast and eagerly awaiting the list of school closures on the radio or TV. Then rejoicing when we heard our school called or saw it scroll by on the bottom of the TV screen.

At which point we immediately donned all our winter gear and ran outside to play. Snowmen were built, driveways were voluntarily shoveled into a single pile so that a sweet fort could be constructed, sled races ensued in the back yard dangerously down the hill and through the woods. Eventually we'd get called in for lunch, which none of us really wanted and it required the enticement of marshmallows doused in hot chocolate for mom to get us to even think of listening.

Then of course we'd hurriedly scarf down our mallows and lunches and immediately put all our coats and gear back on to go back outside and finish off the day. We'd stay out again until near dark when it started getting too cold, we were wet from melting snow and sweat, and honestly were getting way too tired for the excitement to punch through any longer. Later that evening we'd all lay down in bed, but not forgetting to say our prayers, prayers for more snow and another snow day tomorrow!

I hope you're enjoying your winter!