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Pooped

If you must poop on the plane, how about a courtesy flush or two? (Discovery)

Last Thursday, a British Airways flight from London to Dubai had to turn around and make an emergency landing at Heathrow Airport. Why?

Because one of the passengers using the toilet expelled a poop so stinky it made the flight unbearable for everyone else. And what’s worse, passengers had to wait 15 hours for the next available flight.

Let this serve as a cautionary tale for air travelers with bowels full of the brown stuff: do us all a favor and dump your load before you get onboard. After all, planes are cramped enough without being crapped, too.

Terror at the Airport

Luke Bresette was 10 years old (courtesy of Bresette family)

Expensive tickets. Baggage fees. Long lines. Delays. Body cavity searches. Terrorist watch lists. Equipment malfunctions.

All of these things are synonymous with air travel in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks. And since that fateful day, I suspect most of us who are forced to travel by plane dread the experience of racing to the airport and dealing with all the stresses involved.

Probably the last thing we consider is the actual airport structure itself. Yet that is exactly what changed the lives of a family from Overland Park, Kansas forever.

On Saturday, Ryan Bresette and his family were returning from a beach vacation and connecting through Alabama’s Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. With him were his wife Heather and his three sons: Tyler, Sam and Luke. Bresette’s daughter Anna didn’t make the trip.

As the family walked towards the gate of their final flight home, they passed under a huge digital sign, the kind that shows arrivals and departures. This was in a new part of the airport that had recently been modernized and remodeled.

Unfortunately, it seems that someone left this sign unfinished because just as Bresette and his brood passed under it, the sign came crashing down. Larry Snyder was riding up the escalator at the time and saw it happen.

“The family was crushed, little kids crushed underneath the sign,” he told local reporters later. “And everybody was scattering to lift it up.” Snyder included.

By the time rescue workers and other technicians arrived on the scene, young Luke Bresette—a fifth grader at a Catholic school in Kansas City—was dead. His mother Heather broke both of her ankles and her pelvis. She remains in critical condition at a Birmingham hospital. Luke’s brother Tyler suffered a concussion, while his brother Sam broke his nose and his leg. At last check, they were both in fair condition, but doctors are optimistic.

What caused the sign to fall? (courtesy of Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

None of this changes the fact that Luke is gone, of course. And though many have said this was simply a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, I tend to disagree. To me, this was a case of someone doing a half-ass job and killing an innocent child in the process. Sure, it was indirect and presumably unintentional, but it still happened. And it certainly didn’t need to.

I truly feel for Ryan and the Bresette family. Losing a child has to be the worst experience a parent can have. And since my own son is also named Luke, I can’t help but think how I would feel if this had happened to me. Not to make light of this terrible tragedy, but it would be like one of those Earth-killing asteroids impacting our planet and ending all life as we know it. Only the asteroid would be overwhelming grief and the life it would snuff out would be my own. I just don’t think I could handle it.

Please pray for the Bresette’s during this difficult time. And pray that Luke is in a better place than the crumbling, darkening world he was just forced to leave. It certainly couldn’t get much worse.

Bugs on the Bus

Did the roaches pay for their tickets? (courtesy of ABC News)

Passengers aboard a Greyhound bus travelling from Atlantic City to New York on Friday got slightly more than they bargained for. Aside from sharing the ride with a bus full of strangers, they encountered hundreds of unwelcome passengers: cockroaches.

At some point during the fateful trip, roaches started pouring out of air vents, scurrying across the floor and crawling all over people and their belongings.

“There’s like a thousand roaches,” passenger Dawn Alexander later said. “And when I say infested, I mean infested. People were in the aisles literally brushing roaches off of them.”

Another passenger described it this way: “I sat down… roaches started crawling up on our clothes, falling down from the ceiling. Everything.”

As soon as the driver realized what was happening, he immediately pulled over and called for a new bus to be dispatched. Passengers were transferred over and, thankfully, completed the remainder of their trip bug-free.

Greyhound is investigating to determine if the roaches came from the bus or from someone’s luggage. But you and I both know they came from the bus. I’m fairly certain someone with a bag full of roaches would realize it as they were packing.

Between bugs on buses and disasters on cruise ships, it looks like 2013 is going to be a rough year for the transportation and travel industries.  Perhaps this is the year we should all stay closer to home…

Flying with crying babies just got easier

Reddit User Gigantomachy

Polite Parents Warn Fellow Passengers About Their Newborns with Candy Gift Bag | Trending Now – Yahoo! News.

A young couple about to take their first flight with twin newborns decided to be proactive and considerate of their fellow passengers. Before the flight, they distributed goody bags to everyone on the plane that contained some candy, an offer for free earplugs (in case the children cried) and the following note:

Hello! We’re twin baby boys on our first flight and we’re only 14 weeks old! We’ll try to be on our best behavior, but we’d like to apologize in advance just in case we lose our cool, get scared or our ears hurt. Our mom and dad (AKA our portable milk machine and our diaper changer) have ear plugs available if you need them. We are all sitting in 20E and 20F if you want to come by to get a pair. We hope you have a great flight!”

Of course, one passenger couldn’t simply smile and say “thank you.” Instead, they said, “This is considerate, but aren’t we all adults who can understand that babies are prone to bouts of crying?”

Yes, many of us are adults, but it’s always nice when someone goes out of their way for their fellow man. And personally, I thought this was a very nice and refreshing gesture. Therefore, I will end with what could be my catch phrase of 2012:

Be good to each other.

Fondled at 15,000 feet

airplane

Photo credit: shyb

New Jersey man charged with sexually abusing sleeping woman on plane – CNN.com.

The “friendly skies” aren’t all that friendly anymore.

After enduring baggage check fees and humiliating airport security, a woman traveling from Phoenix to Newark boarded her flight and nodded off.

When she awoke suddenly, she found a strange man seated beside her. He was asking her to kiss him, and his hands were in her shirt and shorts.

The New Jersey man, Bawer Aksal, was detained and arrested for sexual abuse. He is currently being held on $100k bond.

I am amazed by this guy’s Devil-may-care approach to meeting women. Did he really think this would work? Obviously.

In his mind, I guess he hoped she would be so turned on that she would ignore the fact she was being violated. And I’m sure there are a percentage of women who would react in this way. It would be rare, so Aksal would have to travel a lot and get busted a lot.

He’s probably just another pervert trying to get his rocks off and desperate to involve some unsuspecting female. Similar to the guys who film themselves masturbating in public and spraying women without their knowledge, on subways and such.

These strange folk are out there and if you’re not careful, they just might get to you…

Get off my island!

View of the town of San Juan Bautista from sea

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Australian Government Votes Man Off Island – Yahoo!.

More than twenty years ago, businessman David Glasheen leased a third of Restoration Island, Australia, with the intention of building a resort there. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out.

The stock market crash of the late 1980s robbed him of millions and alas, there would be no resort. But that didn’t stop Glasheen.

He’s spent the last twenty years living on the island with only his dog and a freaky mannequin. A modern-day Robinson Crusoe. Not for long, though.

The Australian government wants its land back. And since building a resort was part of Glasheen’s lease agreement, he will likely be sent packing soon.

I can certainly understand where the Australian government is coming from, but I have a solution that might suit both parties. The land, of course, should be returned to Australia and thus available for development. However, a small tract of land in a remote area should be given to Glasheen so he can continue living there.

Once a resort has been constructed and guests start visiting, stories of the island’s wild resident could be intentionally circulated as a marketing ploy. Trips to his “native habitat” could also be arranged at two-hour intervals, with reservations available year-round. Furthermore, Glasheen could even be employed and provided with some basic acting training so he can really “sell it” when tourists are near.

Sounds like a money-maker to me…

Watch what you wear in the air

Cleavage

Cleavage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Airlines can say: You cant wear that – Yahoo! News.

Although it’s well within their rights as private companies, more and more airlines seem to be reacting to the attire of their passengers. And people are being refused service as a result.

In one case, a traveler with a four-letter expletive on her t-shirt was asked to keep it covered with a shawl for the duration of the flight. Another passenger was sporting a satirical shirt that read “Terrists gonna kill us all” and was barred from a flight in Buffalo, NY.

Okay. I can understand why that second person was denied.

What surprises me is that earlier this spring, a woman was confronted by an airline employee because she was showing too much cleavage!

And because of this, I am outraged! If cleavage isn’t safe, then what is?

The Desert Inside

As an agnostic, I am always skeptical when people claim to have life-changing, religious experiences. Whether they are visited by God in a dream or see the image of the Virgin Mary in their corn flakes, I normally write these off as some kind of side effect of blind faith or a misguided attempt to grab some attention.

Then something truly spiritual happens to me and I don’t know what to think anymore.

I have experienced a total of three things in my life that might be classified as religious experiences by true believers. To me, they are nothing more than strange occurrences with at least some plausible explanation, even though it might not be abundantly clear what that is.

The first came on a warm summer evening when I was seventeen. The sun had just set and I was cruising down a country road on my way to a party in the boondocks. A friend of mine’s parents had a farm—complete with a spitting llama—and since they were out of town, this weekend’s “throw down” would be hosted there. Without their knowledge, of course.

I was a few miles away in my Honda Prelude, the sunroof open wide and an REM cassette in the tape deck. Suddenly, I sensed myself floating away and before I knew it, I got the sense I my spirit was drifting above the car. Not only that, but I was looking down on my physical body in the car, still driving to the party. The whole thing only lasted about ten seconds, but what I saw was pretty vivid and slightly disturbing. And you know what the funny thing was?

I was stone, cold sober. All my beer and liquor still sat unopened in the trunk. It was pretty freaky and I’m still not sure what to make of it.

Bath, NC

My second “religious experience” happened a few years later on a boat dock in Bath, North Carolina. Bath is the first incorporated town in the state and has lots of cool history, including some ties to legendary pirate Blackbeard. My buddy Chris lived there, so I visited as frequently as I could. Weekends were always filled with music, parties, seafood bakes and sailing. It just didn’t get better than that.

One night, in a semi-drunken stupor, we found ourselves lying on a dock and staring up into the clear, star-filled sky. Suddenly, there was a meteor shower and it seemed as if the darkness filled with shooting stars. At that moment, I felt a certain oneness with nature that I can’t really explain. It was like a warm blanket of peace being draped over me.

Sadly, I haven’t really felt anything quite like it since. Unless you count my final “religious experience,” this one years later in Roswell, New Mexico.

I was visiting the UFO museum in Roswell—the alleged site of a UFO recovery in the 1950s—and camping in the southern New Mexico desert. By this time in my life, I had traveled fairly extensively, at least within the continental United States. But this was my first extended stay in the southwest.

As I stood outside my tent one evening, watching the western sun descending on the horizon, I felt a sudden and sweeping sense of belonging. It was if I was supposed to be in the desert, a climate I love, by the way. Yes, it is sandy and has lots of fun stuff like rattlesnakes and scorpions, but it is also dry, colorful and, in many ways, clean… like a blank canvas on which to paint your life’s story. And I can’t explain why, but I felt my story should be told there, among the cactus flowers and sagebrush. The desert invaded my soul.

English: A bowl of Kellogg's Froot Loops cerea...

A bowl of Kellogg’s Froot Loops cereal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe I’m reading too much into these random life experiences, but they always stand out to me. And the fact I remember them so vividly—when memories are starting to get a bit foggy—is significant. I don’t know if they were religious experiences, but they were definitely spiritual. They all had a deep and lasting effect on me.

But I’m still confused. And I suppose I’ll forever be agnostic. Unless I happen to see something in my own corn flakes someday soon.

I wonder if I can use Froot Loops instead?

Cruising

I have only been on one cruise in my life and that was back in the late 1980s, while I was a sophomore in high school. Back then, cruise ships were pretty simple. There were no massive Oasis of the Seas behemoths with rock walls, wave pools and luxurious promenades. You basically had rooms, a restaurant, a bar, a casino and your standard one or two pools to choose from. Of course, this was considered top-of-the-line at the time, but would likely rank as some kind of floating dinghy if judged by today’s standards.

The trip was sponsored by my Spanish class and, as it turned out, only a handful of people went. I was fortunate that my parents agreed to send me, but they were always willing to fund my travels and wanted me to broaden my horizons. So I soon found myself in San Juan, Puerto Rico with my teacher and three other guys. We had a tight-knit group and fortunately, my Spanish teacher was a pretty free-wheeling and wide-open person. She liked to have fun and wanted us to have the best possible time. To start the ball rolling, we strolled towards the San Juan docks—roughly an hour before our boarding time—and found a liquor store. Nothing was more exciting than being 16-years-old and buying several bottles of fine, Puerto Rican rum. Unfortunately, I dropped one on the street and watched it shatter a few moments later, but the other bottle survived and served its function.

By the time we set sail on the Carla Costa, I was thoroughly soused. And I pretty much stayed drunk the entire time.

Giving a 16-year-old access to a cash bar is a dangerous thing. For the five days I was on the ship, I must have moved up and down the bar menu a dozen times. There were drinks I had tried before—like pina coladas and daiquiris—as well as libations I had never heard of—like a Golden Cadillac, which was actually quite delicious. The bartenders were all extremely friendly and served me without question. Granted, I was over six feet tall and looked a lot older than I was, but they never seemed to care. I learned later that there was no real drinking age, but at the time I felt like I was masterful in my deception.

The destinations we visited across the Caribbean were exotic and absolutely gorgeous. There was beautiful architecture, interesting people, crystal blue water and tons of activities and excursions. In St. Thomas, we jumped on the Kon-Tiki party raft and spent hours tooling around to different coves and lagoons. A steel drum band played nonstop while we chugged bottle after bottle of the most delicious rum punch known to man. I even went drunk snorkeling, which turned out to be pretty hilarious. At one point, I thought I found some kind of sea anemone floating near me and followed it for half an hour. Then I realized it was simply a grape someone had tossed off the boat! Needless to say, I’m glad no one else witnessed my stupidity.

On the ship, I had spent some time in the casino and even made friends with one of the Australian dealers, a beautiful young woman named Olivia. But the gambling bug truly bit me once we arrived on the French island of Martinique. A Peugeot taxi cab took my friends and me to one of the premier casinos on the island, where I proceeded to spend almost all of my cash on blackjack and roulette. Fortunately, this is where my pattern of “breaking even” began. As I was walking out—dejected and sad after dropping a sizable chunk of cash—I put my last dollar into a slot machine and it hit! I ended up replacing all the money I lost, almost to the dollar!

A different kind of excitement was waiting for us in Caracas, Venezuela. That’s when a small force of armed militiamen stormed the ship and arrested a young couple who were transporting more than 60 pounds of marijuana, all of it packed tightly into garbage bags and loaded into suitcases. We weren’t allowed to disembark and I never really got to see Venezuela, but there were some advantages to the situation. I ended up hanging out with one of the soldiers—as well as his German shepherd—and even got to hold his machine gun. He unloaded it first, of course, because who knows what my intoxicated ass would have done otherwise. I’m kidding!

The most memorable thing that happened on my only cruise—and also the most disturbing—is that I finally shed my virginity. Sorry if you’re reading this, Mom. Sadly, I can’t even remember the girl’s name because to be honest, we were both pretty hammered from drinking all the rum punch I purchased in St. Thomas. There was a condom involved, as well as a lot of slipping and sliding, but otherwise I remember almost nothing. Thankfully, it was mutual and I still spent a lot of time hanging with this young woman and her friends as the cruise concluded. We said goodbye as we gathered our things and disembarked—again in Puerto Rico—and I never saw or heard from her again. Looking back, this was probably for the best.

As I mentioned, this was my one and only cruise experience, but I would certainly welcome the chance to take another if I thought I could afford it. A lot has changed in my life and I’m sure traveling with my wife and son would prevent me from doing what I did the first time. Nothing can ever replace the time I spent in the paradise of the Caribbean and its beautiful islands, but I’d certainly be willing to try!

The Dark Side of Summer

Summer is a season of joy, energy and pleasure. It’s the time when people take vacations from their workaday lives, setting out for the beaches or some exotic locale to experience true relaxation and well-deserved enjoyment. There is fellowship with friends over great barbecues of burgers, hot dogs and ribs. And long, cool evenings filled with chirping crickets and buzzing cicadas.

But below the surface lies a dark underbelly that most recognize, yet few dare to mention… until now. Join me, dear readers, as we seek to uncover the dark side of summer.

A hot sweat

The obvious reason for many of summer’s woes is the sweltering, sometimes unbearable heat that descends on many parts of the world. Some might say it gets “hotter than a camel’s nuts,” but I would have no reason to mention that here…. whoops. Sorry about that.

It has also been established that crime increases during the hot, summer months, most likely when someone’s air conditioning breaks and they go ballistic. Of course, there are lots of folks who work outside and simply have to live with it. And I am certain some of them eventually snap since exposure to such high temperatures—especially when people aren’t hydrated properly—can do crazy things to human behavior.

A consequence of summer’s heat that is often overlooked and underestimated is sweat. When you stay outside for any period of time in 100-degree weather, you’re going to sweat your ass off, as well as your feet, your back and every other eligible body part. I even think my hair was sweating one time. And when your hands sweat, you suddenly develop what has been called “butterfinger-itis”: the inability to hold anything in your hand for more than a few seconds without dropping it. Drop something you really care about—like your tune-loaded iPod—and your summer could take a very dark turn.

Bikini

Bikini (Photo credit: memoflores)

Lust is a four-letter word

As the temperatures rise each summer, the layers of clothing people wear—especially women—diminish. And nothing says summer better than its ultimate apparel: the bikini. In terms of the Seven Deadly Sins, lust is a big deal. But whoever came up with the “big seven” likely never faced a beach full of bikini-clad women. This is arguably a male issue, but seeing so many beautiful and unashamed ladies running down the beach with next-to-nothing on does something to you. Further research might even discover its value as a mind-control technique, perhaps one that could be militarized and unleashed on enemy soldiers. The “bikini battalion” has a nice ring to it.

How would you like that cooked?

Of all the species on Earth and all the living things that inhabit our beautiful planet, human beings are the only ones who consciously choose to cook themselves. Every summer, Homo sapiens of all shapes and sizes head outside to soak up some ultraviolet rays from our glorious sun. They slather themselves up in all sorts of lotions and sprays designed to protect their skin, but most likely useless or only mildly effective at best. For hours they bask in the light, occasionally turning to evenly distribute their tans. As their skin tightens and browns like a cooking turkey, they lie for hours, thumbing through their Nooks and e-readers or sipping pina coladas. At sunset, it is back home to rub on the aloe and tenderize the hide for the next day’s cooking session. I say stick a fork in them; they are definitely done.

Déjà vu

Perhaps the most horrible and disturbing thing about the summer is this: the rerun. You simply cannot find anything original on television during the summer months—at least not under normal circumstances. This summer, we have the 2012 Summer Olympics to keep us busy, but television programming is normally a barren wasteland of reruns, reality shows and seasonal news nonsense. “Want to know how to make your own suntan lotion from common household products? Join us at eight.” Give me a break. About the best thing on is ABC’s obstacle-course challenge “Wipeout.” Everything else basically blows.

The Sandman cometh

Although I appreciate the beach as much as the next guy, I will never understand how sand can infiltrate nooks and crannies all over my body that I wasn’t even aware I had. Days after returning home, it comes pouring out of clothes that have been washed and I even see a trail of it on the floor of my shower. If the CIA could develop recording equipment that appeared as sand, they could monitor almost anyone for a pretty substantial period of time. I should probably patent that idea…

Creepy Crawlies

Being outside is nice, isn’t it? Of course it is, at least until all the bugs come out. Suddenly there are ants invading your kitchen, palmetto bugs the size of small children and blood-sucking mosquitoes everywhere. The fall and winter will provide a brief respite. But for now, it’s the summer of the insects and we are what’s for dinner.

The Getaway

Be warned: the summer season is the travel season. Even when gas prices are sky-high, people still venture out and descend upon tourist attractions and vacation destinations from coast to coast. They cut you off on the highway, steal your reservations at restaurants, and help guarantee at least some of your time won’t be relaxing. And people like you and me, who want our journeys to be safe and painless, are often at their mercy. Just never forget that road rage can kill. Happy motoring!

The darkest side of all

I saved this for last since it is clearly the darkest side of the summer: the movie theater. Film companies flood the market with blockbusters of all shapes and sizes, and the trailers entice us as we sit home on our sofas and easy chairs. Unfortunately, you actually have to go to the theater to see these movies, and that’s where everything drifts into true, immeasurable horror.

For whatever reason, some people seem to go to the theater just to watch the pretty pictures and eat some noisy-as-hell snacks. They keep their cell phones on, invade the darkness with light from their text messages and talk amongst themselves with no regard for those seated around them. And if you’re really lucky, there will be some young children who shouldn’t be in an R-rated movie, yet remain to drive you crazy with their antics and disturbing lack of parental guidance. Nothing is worth this trauma, so now I just wait for the DVD.

The summer of 2012 is winding down and the fall is upon is. For this final month or two, please be aware of the warning signs so you never succumb to… the dark side of summer!

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