Monday, May 21, 2007



If I wanted my holiday to end in ruins, they'd look like this:

Just returned from splendid family doin's, as we graduated the last of

-- four generations represented, lots of
pomp and circumstance, toasting and blubbering, ooh-ing and coo-ing, and all the good stuff. Enough good fun to make some among us forget that their flights had been delayed by hours-- but heck, that was all about thunderstorms.

However, it's tough to come away from such good times, to board the little plane familiar from so many trips...

[no, I'm not kidding -- this is it -- the Beechcraft 1900] ...
and have it all come apart. [the travel experience, not the plane -- this time]

The Little Beechcraft Engine That Probably Could holds 19 people. I have never yet been on one filled to capacity-- until today.

The reader will recall that the last u
nhappy adventure on this same route involved the same plane carrying 6 [SIX] passengers and 6 [SIX] pieces of luggage, of which one [mine] failed to appear. It was eventually reclaimed after much misery about two weeks later.

Today, as noted, the plane was filled. The perky blonde pilot (it's too small for an attendant) approached those sitting at the emergency
exits to 'splain how they work. A dignified white-haired gentleman with a thick French accent was clearly distracted and not listening-- he pointed out the window opposite him and said, "The luggage." The perky pilot didn't click to the message right away, so the gentleman 'splained it to her: he had seen his luggage on a motorized cart being driven away from the plane.

Miss Perky 'splained, getting less perky and more condescending-- you see, when there is a large amount of luggage the plane can't carry all the weight so some of the luggage has to be "bumped."

The explanation is so absurd that it takes a minute or so to grasp what this woman is saying in Anglais: when the plane is carrying 19 passengers, it is unable to carry the 38 pieces of luggage those passengers are legally permitted to check. This is secret knowledge which rarely comes to light because under normal circumstances (a) this plane is never full, and (b) this route caters to business commuters who never bring much checked baggage.

This is secret knowledge to which many people are privy, with the glaring exception of the passengers who have never been informed that their legally permitted luggage isn't actually permitted on this plane.

What ensued was an absurd conversation between Pesky Pilot and gentleman as to what h
is options were: he could sigh and accept that his luggage was sitting out on the tarmac and would (hopefully) follow him later on the next flight; he could deplane, retrieve the luggage, and take his lumps as to arranging for a later flight. "Is there another flight after this?" He asked. "I don't know-- I'm just the pilot, I don't have any information about the schedule."

That, my friends, was a cool-headed, bald-faced LIE. Pilots assigned to the PVD-YYZ-Beechcraft-run just fly back and forth on that one-leg route all day long. They know exactly when it flies. They may not know if seats are available, or if it will be cancelled due to low reservation numbers. But they know the daily schedule like their own names.

She continued to claim ignorance of anything relevant, and told the increasingly impatient as
sembled passengers that we couldn't get moving until the gentleman had heard all she had to say about deploying the emergency exit door.

Finally the passenger in question accepted his fate, and agreed to proceed to his weekend convention without any of his belongings. Turns out he was one of several on the plane going to the American Society for Microbiology's 107th Annual General Meeting at the Metro Convention Centre. I suspect they will not be returning for another 107 years.

So we departed PVD with about half a baggage-cart of luggage sitting on the ground. We arrived at YYZ and watched as three full baggage-carts of luggage were removed from our little planette (we sat and watched while we waited 10 minutes for the gate agent to arrive, so she could assist us with deplaning-- presumably by standing outside and pointing to the door-- check out the plane again, above, and try to figure out what else a gate agent might possibly be needed for).

We took the inexplicably long bus-ride to the terminal, passed through Customs fairly quickly, and arrived at the baggage carousel just in time for the buzzer-signal that our bags were about to emerge. The conveyor belt spat out about 6 or 8 bags. That was it. No more. No soup for you.

The majority of th
e 19 passengers stumbled in disbelief toward the lost luggage desk, manned, as usual, by only two or three harried people. Forms, descriptions, promises, all played out in the ritualistic dance and dialogue of
the deaf. We plan to return to the airport this evening, get our permission slip from Lost and Found, and wait to be escorted, two-by-two, into the sacred spinning precincts of the baggage carousels, and try to reclaim what is rightfully ours: 6 [SIX] checked bags, belonging to three of us, some of which we know were left behind and others of which may just have gone AWOL between the plane and the terminal.

We will face down the typically clueless, helpless, graceless, defensive, rude, and ethically-chall
enged Air Canada employees who go through the motions of carrying out the business of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority-- neither institution capable of grasping the basic organizing principle behind a police lineup or a Rockettes kick-line.

This blog
stands behind its previous pronouncement on this issue:

If the only way to get to Heaven was on Air Canada, I wouldn't go.

When my mood improves, I will wax eloquent on the emotional passage when the last fledgling leaves the nest, and on the the unfathomable cuteness of the Grandchild. They deserve a better frame of mind than this.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


The word over the wire is that Britain's Prince Harry (Henry-- the Spare, not the Heir) will not get his way on the subject of his military deployment, having been denied the chance to earn his stripes in Iraq.

I feel for the kid-- as a military parent I know that, despite the obvious dangers, there is a sense in
which any member of the professional military wants to be a part of the landmark action of his particular era, to be able to say that he did as hard a duty as any of his comrades and will thus always be able to see the lay of the land through that shared lens.

But it is equally clear that Prince Harry's presence
would plant an extra bed-sheet-sized target on the back of every British soldier in proximity to him, for kidnap, assassination, and whatever else the beasts of Basra could manage.

We had an interesting dinner a couple of weeks ago with a couple who have between them (and whose children therefore share with them) multiple British Commonwealth passports/nationalities, which explains why these residents of Canada have a military son not in Afghanistan with the Princess Pats and other storied Canadian regiments, but in Basra, Iraq, with the Blackwatch. We shared with them the isolation felt by any resident of a still deeply anti-military Canada who has a son or daughter in uniform, made worse by the fact that ours fight under the flag of a different country. We (us two) at least have the advantage of living just over the border from a good 150 million people who appreciate the honour in military service and understand how we must sometimes fight to the death for certain principles-- not to mention being within arm's length of the huge network of active civilian support of military personnel and their mission.

Our friends with the son in Basra have no connection to any such network, and were so grateful to have people to talk to about the good work of their son's compatriots. I was delighted to be able to point them to the recent articles by Michael Yon, describing, with immense admiration, the hard-scrabble fighting by the Basra-based Brits.

Of one thing our newfound friends were absolutely certain: they did NOT want Prince Harry deployed anywhere near their kid. They were in agreement that a deployment to Iraq would probably be the making of this particular Royal Pain, but his ascent to manhood had every chance of exacting a price, out of the hides of others, far beyond its worth. We're all very sorry that the young fella will miss the Big Show, but that's life-- and we'd like to hang on to it, thank you.

The truth is, if he's really determined, I bet he could find his way into some hot battlefield action without all the damned fanfare-- there's more than one way to carry forward "a little touch of Harry in the night." He'd just have to morph into a real rebel instead of the conventional drinking/shagging/swastika-wearing case of arrested development he has so far been acting out in the tiresome "ne'er-do-well rebel" mode that generations of princes have affected. Instead of disappearing to the family hut in Mustique, he should go to ground for six months or so, and later let it be known that he had disappeared to Mazari Sharif. I bet it could be done. You just have to think outside the Royal Box.

Sorry kid. Better luck next war.

Intellectual and theological featherweight,
physical heavyweight,
political deadweight --

McDead at 73.

Now checking out the whole 72 Virgins thing for himself.


* "RATS!!! It's Papist!"

That's right, Jerry. Neener, neener, neener!

But even Falwell probably doesnt deserve a Hitchens obit.

Friday, May 11, 2007


from Marine Corporal Tyler Rock [who, you'll recall, had a few choice words for Senator Harry Reid -- Rock seen here on his last day in Ramadi, having worked his way through four years of re-enlistments]
its weird not being there anymore. its almost likes ramadi is mine. thats odd to say but like i feel awkward leaving it for someone else to take care of. haha. almost like i dont think they can do the job. granted. i know they can and im glad to not be there anymore but i guess its the whole parent-child thing. all the other guys feel the same.
The New York Post wanted to know if Rock was the genuine article. So in the process of verifying his identity, he got off a few more good shots in the email exchange:

the truth is that we have done much more for the people in iraq than is posted to the people. ramadi was a terrible place in the beginning of this deployment (september). now the police in ramadi are doing patrols everyday and coming back with many, many IED’s and other explosive ordinance. the civilians are coming to us and telling us where the insurgents are. that should scream to the people back home that the iraqi’s want our help. they dont want insurgents in the area. all the insurgents are, are thugs and gangs. just in larger scale and more weapons. they terrorize the people to get what they want and the people are fed up with it. we dont “just blow things up”.

we care about the people here. we want these people to live as free as we do back home. thats why we are here. if we didnt care then why would we be working so hard to rebuild what is destroyed. we give them water. we give them food. and we respect their way of living.

with the other topic. my opinion is what i already stated in the email to pat. i am a marine in iraq that isnt getting the support from a senator that should support his fellow americans. when was the last time he was here. what does he know about us “losing” besides what he wants to believe. the truth is that we are pushing al qaeda out and we are pushing the insurgency out. we are here to support a nation.

Hat-tip for all of this to Young Americans documentarian Pat Dollard, who also provided the following clip from the Neal Boortz radio show. It's got lots of patriotic production values, which are nice but not necessary to the message. Watch and listen-- spread this word. And when push comes to shove, think about making that trip to D.C. if the day comes that we have to march on the chamber and wrestle it free from the turncoats.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


"Bill Clinton warns of looming disasters"

Here's one:




Things in Fred Thompson's favor:

(a) James Dobson has questioned his religious credentials.

(b) Ambassadorable Joseph Wilson the Freakin' Fourth has called him a traitor.

(c) He was smeared by the L.A. Times (for having once played a white supremacist on television).

(c) He drives a red pick-up.

(d) He found a way to stuff it to Michael Moore, Fidel Castro, and Hillary-care all in one article.

The kind of guys who've been hanging around my garden this week:

The kind of guys who have not been hanging around my garden this week:

However, I did host
a gathering of