Monday, November 22, 2010

So I was walking around Chicago a couple of weeks ago...

Work occasionally sends me away from Motown, and such was the case a couple of weeks ago (nudge/hint to people inclined to wonder about my blogging frequency of late).

I was gone for a full week--a real rarity--but it was something that had to be borne. Since I know Chicago about as well as the topography of Mars, I was cabbed about a lot. Returning to my hotel room on Tuesday evening, I looked forward to dinner and an early sleep. Waiting for the elevator, I arranged my things and grabbed for my hotel key card.

Hmm. Wallet's not in that pocket.

Cue the Wallet Search Macarena--slapping from pocket to pocket until it's found. Very arhythmically, but there you go.

By pocket slap five, I'm starting to develop a nervous tic. Lather, rinse, repeat. No wallet.

Oh, s__t.

It probably fell out in the cab--no worries. I'll just call the cab company using the receipt.

Receipt's basically illegible, with the only recognizable sections saying "Cab Transportation."

I sprint to the service desk of the hotel for some help. Any help. Help! The nice lady behind the counter helped me as much as she could, but Smudge Taxicab was not one she was familiar with.

"Maybe they ran the charge, and you can call your credit card company to find out who it is?"

Great--and clever advice. After struggling to get a good contact number, I called the card company. To quote Mr. Spiccoli: No shirt, no shoes--No Dice.

Hadn't been run yet. But at least they could cancel the card before any damage was done and send me a new one before I checked out of the hotel three days hence.

Which was a start--but I was still without ID. Try to enter any major buildings today without an ID? Can't recommend it. In fact, I was facing the fact I couldn't even get back into my hotel room.

The head of security greeted me, and quizzed me about the contents of my room. We went up to the floor, and he entered the room--carefully shooing me away so I couldn't cheat.

He exited the room, a clear and rising note of exasperation in his voice: "Now, listen Mister..."

I cut him off quickly, and pointed out something I had just noticed: "We're on the 18th floor." At the outset, I had told my room was on the 21st.

Instant mollification: "Oh. Guess that would do it."

We get to the 21st, and after a thorough examination, he said "All right--you check out. By the way, you're going to need to make a police report so you can get on the plane to leave town."

I thanked him, and settled in with the prospect of being stuck in the room, unable to do the work I was in town to do, being sans ID. But at least I was in my room, and ran an internet search for all of the cab companies in Chicago, hoping to find something from Smudge.

There are a lot of cab companies in the Windy City. Defeat.

In despair, I called my wife, eager to hear a sympathetic voice. I finally get through, and we talk for a little while, but not long, as she's driving home with the kids. She'll call when she gets back home.

Good enough.

Ten minutes later she calls back, lottery-winning excitement in her voice:


As in, yes, Blockbuster Video. She then rattled off a contact number for Chuck, whom I mentally surnamed Easily The Greatest Human Being Walking Our Planet.

But the phone number was odd--it was a home (for us) area code, not a Chicago number.

I shrugged it off--perhaps Chuck was a clairvoyant. I called.

Chuck picked up the phone--yes, he knew about my wallet. And yes, Chuck worked at the Blockbuster nearest our home. How did he know about my wallet?

As it turns out, Chuck had been contacted by a woman named Kristi, who had found my wallet and called him. Chuck gave me her number.

Two orders of bafflement magnitude then became three--Kristi also had a Michigan area code. Never mind. This was good bafflement.

I thanked Chuck profusely, falling just short of offering to name a hypothetical son after him. Charles is a sound boy's name, though...

I call Kristi's number.

A pleasant voice answers and says--Yes! I have your wallet! In Chicago!

She'd found it on the street, walking around with her daughter after visiting the American Girl store on the Magnificent Mile. She'd be delighted to turn it over to a fellow Michigander! Her family's hotel was about a mile away.

I ran an internet map and walked over without incident. By the way, some advice--avoid walking unaccompanied on Columbus Drive at night--it seems like a bad call. The fact I was disheveled, big and moving with a purpose probably helped.

I reached the hotel and met Kristi, who turns out to live in an Oakland County suburb with her children and husband. She saw the wallet sitting there, opened it up and decided she had to get in touch with the poor guy from her home state who had to be in full freakout mode (yep!). She didn't want to fish through the wallet, so she pulled my Blockbuster card and used that to contact me.

Really? Really. We also talked about daughters and the American Girl store, including my Rachel's recent purchase of Lanie. Not so BTW, the American Girl store would be an easy place to go bankrupt.

I thanked her profusely (Kristi's a good name for a girl, too--but we have a Christina, after all) and floated back to my hotel, praising God's providence and the good-heartedness of complete strangers.

I'm also going to Blockbuster and pricing wallet chains.


Why the Hell did this man have to be humiliated?

[Thomas D.] Sawyer is a bladder cancer survivor who now wears a urostomy bag, which collects his urine from a stoma, or opening in his abdomen. “I have to wear special clothes and in order to mount the bag I have to seal a wafer to my stomach and then attach the bag. If the seal is broken, urine can leak all over my body and clothes.”

On Nov. 7, Sawyer said he went through the security scanner at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. “Evidently the scanner picked up on my urostomy bag, because I was chosen for a pat-down procedure.”

Due to his medical condition, Sawyer asked to be screened in private. “One officer looked at another, rolled his eyes and said that they really didn’t have any place to take me,” said Sawyer. “After I said again that I’d like privacy, they took me to an office.”

Sawyer wears pants two sizes too large in order to accommodate the medical equipment he wears. He’d taken off his belt to go through the scanner and once in the office with security personnel, his pants fell down around his ankles. “I had to ask twice if it was OK to pull up my shorts,” said Sawyer, “And every time I tried to tell them about my medical condition, they said they didn’t need to know about that.”

Before starting the enhanced pat-down procedure, a security officer did tell him what they were going to do and how they were going to it, but Sawyer said it wasn’t until they asked him to remove his sweatshirt and saw his urostomy bag that they asked any questions about his medical condition.

“One agent watched as the other used his flat hand to go slowly down my chest. I tried to warn him that he would hit the bag and break the seal on my bag, but he ignored me. Sure enough, the seal was broken and urine started dribbling down my shirt and my leg and into my pants.”

The security officer finished the pat-down, tested the gloves for any trace of explosives and then, Sawyer said, “He told me I could go. They never apologized. They never offered to help. They acted like they hadn’t seen what happened. But I know they saw it because I had a wet mark.”

Humiliated, upset and wet, Sawyer said he had to walk through the airport soaked in urine, board his plane and wait until after takeoff before he could clean up.

“I am totally appalled by the fact that agents that are performing these pat-downs have so little concern for people with medical conditions,” said Sawyer.

Are any of us more safe because we can be groped and soaked in our own urine before flying? Is there some history of seniors with colostomy bags hijacking or plotting to hijack planes I'm unaware of?

Hey, Madame Secretary--it's against *my* religion to be groped by someone who isn't my wife. When can I expect some "adjustments" on *that*?

Happy Belated Quas Primas Day!

The Feast of Christ the King, 85 years young.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

I guess we won't have to make Costco runs for toilet paper any more.

We'll just go to the nearest ATM instead.

Election Night Special.

I'm neither blissed out nor displeased with the election results. Getting cranked one way or the other is a bad idea generally, and an even worse one with a volatile electorate and another election less than two years away.

Still, I was following some national races with interest (the state/local ones were less compelling for whatever reason), and generally speaking the candidates I was rooting for pulled it out: Marco Rubio, Allen West, Dan Webster, Sean Duffy, and Chip Craavack. The last was especially satisfying, as it resulted in the ouster of the faux-life Jim Oberstar, who deserves a lot more of the blame for the failure of the Stupak amendment than poor Bart Stupak.

But, overall, not particularly giddy--both parties have a lot of work to do to get us out of this mess, and the old bumpersticker sloganeering of the past isn't going to cut it.

"Qantas. Qantas never crashed." "Qantas?" "Never crashed."

A big thumbs up to the level-headed crew from Qantas who managed to land their massive Scarebus after an engine apparently exploded.

After the plane touched down in Singapore, the engine closest to the fuselage on the left wing had visible burn marks and was missing a plate section that would have been painted with the red kangaroo logo of the airline. The upper part of the left wing also appeared damaged.

One passenger, Rosemary Hegardy, 60, of Sydney, told The Associated Press that she heard two bangs and saw yellow flames from her window.

"There was flames — yellow flames came out, and debris came off. ... You could see black things shooting through the smoke, like bits of debris," she said.

Although it was nearly 90 minutes from the time of the explosion to the plane landing, there was no panic inside the aircraft, she said.

The captain addressed the passengers immediately by saying "'I'm sure you realize there's a problem. We have to find out what the problem is,'" she said. Shortly after that, the captain explained that an engine had failed and needed to dump fuel before landing.

The Synodage of Satan.

The Catholic Church announces that it is discontinuing support of its previous OS.  I mean, TC and the Coddling of the Krauts makes that cl...