The Cranky Ol' Bat

Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! - RuPaul


Japanese Plane Ordered to Land on Closed Runway

Air traffic controllers at Tokyo's Haneda airport forgot that one runway was closed for construction work and ordered two planes to land on it. The second one was ordered to change its course at the last minute.

The runway is closed three nights a week during the summer for construction, but apparently none of the 20 air traffic controllers on duty remembered that it was shut down. No injuries were reported.

Only in New Mexico....

A student brought in a huge, foil-wrapped object that caused a middle school in Clovis to go into lockdown. Click here to find out what it was....

Cocktail of the Week

Yes, I know, I've been REALLY slacking with the "Cocktail of the Week." I think the last one I posted was in honor of Yuri's Night back on 12 April.

Even the Jet Set Brother decided to give me some crap about it. Geez.

So, I figure since today is the anniversary of the day I met the Tsar, it would be a good time to feature a particularily romantic cocktail, the Stardust.

I got it from a book called Atomic Cocktails.

1 1/2 c cracked ice, or 6 ice cubes
4 oz well chilled vodka
1 oz white creme de cacao
2 oz Goldschlager

Chill 2 martini glasses. Fill a cocktail shaker with the ice and add the vodka and white creme de cacao. Shake vigorously to blend and chill. Strain the mixture evenly into the 2 glasses. Float 1 oz of Goldschlager over the top of each drink. The gold flakes will slowly descend.

Cue up the Duke Ellington, turn off the phone, and.....enjoy.


60th Anniversary of the Liberation of Dachau

I haven't really heard much about this on the news. I like to think I've just been watching the wrong channel, and not that the importance of this day has been forgotten.

Dachau was the hardest place to visit when I went to Germany about three years ago. It is hard to describe it fully to someone who has never been there.

My most vivid memory of Dachau is that I have never felt so cold in my entire life as I did walking the grounds and going into the few buildings still standing. I know it wasn't particularily chilly or windy that day compared to the other days I was in Germany, but somehow it went right to the bone.

The Jet Set Brother and I had little headsets that related what happened at the different stops. It was difficult to listen to, but you knew it was important to hear the whole thing. Believe me, it's not like when you are reading about it in a history book in your school library. Standing there, it all becomes very real. The ghosts and spirits are still there, and if you don't feel their presence when you walk across the grounds, you're not human.

Amazingly enough, there were people who were imprisoned when the camp started in 1933 who survived until the liberation in 1945. Their stories, and the stories of other inmates are described on the tape and in the exhibits.

The liberators who came to Dachau 60 years ago today found 30 railroad cars stuffed with bodies in various stages of decomposition. Some of the American troops were so shocked and appalled that they shot two groups of SS officers in retaliation. They forced the neighboring townpeople to bury the dead. Although the locals claimed not to have known what happened there, the museum showed pictures of parades mocking the inmates during the time the camp was open.

It will never be known how many victims died at Dachau. Some of the prisoners were exhaustively documented by the Nazis (such as the Jews), and others were considered such untermenschen they were taken straight to their death in the ovens and firing squads without even recording their names (like the captured Red Army soldiers).

Things I'll never forget....the absence of birdsong, as if even the pigeons and sparrows were mourning the lives lost....the almost pretty spot, all leafy and sunny by the camp wall, where so many Russian officers were shot.....and the guard tower gate where others decided to make a run for it when they couldn't take their imprisonment any more. (The recording said that none of them made it. Somehow, I think that all of them made it to freedom even though they never crossed the gate. If there is a God, I hope he gave them the mercy they never knew there.)

There's a work of art to memorialize the victims inside Dachau, and that was the one place I finally cried. Never again, it says. I thought of my mother's relatives who lost their lives in the camps, and wondered if any of my father's relatives died too. (We're not Jewish, but on both sides we're descended from a lot of troublemakers. The Nazis and their allies didn't need much of an excuse to send someone to the camps.)

Even when we crossed the gate and left the camp, what we saw and learned stayed with us. My brother and I are normally talkative, but neither one of us could say anything for about an hour. The rest of the day I alternated between anger and wanting to cry. I didn't cry. I was afraid I would never stop if I started.

So, tonight, I light a candle and hope that my lost relatives and the other victims have found peace.

Places to Avoid Going to If You Ongoing Series of Opinionated Reviews

I've seen quite a few links to the best airports in the world, but according to the BBC, this might be one of the worst.

I think I'll cross Mineralnye Vody's airport off the list of places to check out when we visit the Tsar's homeland, even though I am tempted to track down a copy of "Doctor It Hurts Me".


Think You Know the Answer?

Most airport codes have a pretty obvious connection to the casual traveler. PHX is my own beloved Sky Harbor here in Phoenix, MIA is Miami, and so on.

So....what's up with ORD?

Points if you know which major airport it is, and double it if you know the original name of the airport without clicking here.


Ever Been to Phaic Tan?

This seems about as reliable as your average travel guide to me. Experience "Sunstroke on a Shoestring" without leaving home!

Brought to you by the same people who brought you "Molvania: A Land Untouched by Modern Dentistry".


Trips I Can Almost Guarantee NONE of Your Friends Have Done....

That doesn't mean that I recommend any of them, even the Latvian prison experience.

"Anybody Here Call for an Air Taxi?"

Since traveling by air has become about as glamorous as taking a Greyhound (want proof? Consider, if you will, the thought process behind the name "Airbus" versus that of "Constellation" or "TriStar"), it was only a matter of time before commuter jets became the equivalent of a taxi service.

DayJet of Delray FL will allow people in midsize markets the ability to call up a four seater for the expected cost of slightly more than a full fare coach ticket starting in 2006. Prospective travelers will enter info into the reservations system, such as which cities they want to fly between, a "no later than" departure and arrival time, and the date. If one of the fleet is available, they will get a guaranteed reservation, and the plane will take off even if only one person is aboard. They hope to expand to 30 markets by 2007.

For quite a bit more money, another service christened Pogo and backed by former People Express founder Donald Burr and former American Airlines CEO Robert "take that tomato outta that salad" Crandall will be doing the same thing in the Northeast.


Living La Vida Robot in Phoenix!

When I talk about Arizona here on this blog, it's normally for things like tourist attractions to see or avoid, the weather, that kind of thing. But this article really is something you should read.

Usually when Carl Hayden High School makes the news, it's for something bad. Our local news ninnies haven't said a thing about the fact that just maybe the best damn underwater robot engineers in the nation are four undocumented teenagers who came over the border from Mexico when they were little kids. They beat a team from MIT, for Chrissakes!

If you read absolutely nothing else in the article, check out Cristian Arcega's answer to Tom Swean, the head of the Navy's Ocean Engineering and Marine Systems program as to why they didn't have a Power Point presentation like the other teams did on page 4.

And then, if you can spare it, click here to find out about the La Vida Robot Scholarship Fund. Yes, I know I have been vocal at times about why our government hasn't cracked down on illegal immigration. But, dammit, these kids should be in college, not in the fields.

I've ponied up $50. Anyone else out there willing to kick in some for these kids?

You May Not Be Alone in Your Next Hotel Room!

Most people think that the reduction of pesticide use in hotels is a good thing. And, generally it is.

However, there have lately been reports that bedbugs are making a comeback. The link takes you to a Wall Street Journal Online article (at this time, registration not required) that features a picture of what to look out for during your next hotel stay.


Another Stupid Time Waster from the Jet Set Chick

I do not vouch for the accuracy of any of the translations on this site.

The Tsar says the Russian translation has seven grammatical errors.....and it's a six word sentence!

The Tsar's Worth It, But I Don't Have It....

Ah, the joys of marrying a foreign sweetie. I know them so well.

The endless forms for Immigration, the translation of birth certificates and other documents to get a marriage license, and if you wanted to marry one of the natives in Turkestan, a $50,000 fee to the government for the privilege.....until now.

That's right, until this month, if you fell for a hottie in Turkmenbashi, it was going to cost you (and how!) if you were a foreigner. The government imposed the fee back in 2001. It was revoked without much notice until the new family code was published in the leading newspaper, "Neutral Turkmenistan". The government confirmed that it really was not a typo, but accurate when questioned by the BBC.

Romantic adventurers might still want to pass up the challenge, however. The Turkmenistan government allows very few foreigners to obtain a visa, and closely monitors the visitors and their local contacts.


British Airways Pilot Wins Case

First officer Jessica Starmer won her court case against British Airways, claiming the carrier's "family-unfriendly policies" were behind the decision to not allow her to continue working part-time. Ms Starmer said she wanted to ensure that her 1 year old daughter was cared for properly, which was difficult for her and her husband (a fellow BA pilot) to accomplish otherwise.

British Airways countered that there was no sex discrimination as charged in the lawsuit. They contend that Ms Starmer had not completed the required three years of full time flying (or 2000 hours experience) when she requested the part-time schedule. The airline said that standard was applied equally to men and women, and was necessary for safety issues.

The Jet Set Chick Asks, Where is the Love?

Obviously, not in Berlin. What started out as a rave and grew to a huge party by 1999 has failed to secure corporate sponsorship for the second year in a row. Organizers tried to pass it off as a political event, but a German court determined in 2001 that the city-state of Berlin was not responsible any more for what they determined was a commercial enterprise.

The Love Parade spawned imitators worldwide, but it remained the largest and most famous. The organizers hope to revive it in time for the World Cup of soccer to be held in Berlin in 2006.

Second Shoe Bomber Sentenced to 13 Years

An accomplice of shoe bomber Richard Reid decided that he could not go through with being "a courier of death" and was sentenced in a British court to 13 years.

Saajid Badat faced up to 50 years if he had gone through with his plan to blow up a transatlantic flight from Amsterdam to the United States on 17 December 2001. He sent an e-mail to his family on 14 December stating that he changed his mind and he did not go through with the bombing. Badat claimed that his religion brought him to the brink of killing others, but it also brought him back to reject terrorism and become a religious teacher.


Stupid Passenger Tricks

Joking about a bomb on board a plane is dumb.

Joking about a bomb in your luggage....while boarding a plane in unbelievably stupid.

Think You Know the Answer?

This is a good one to ponder as you head out to happy hour tonight.

What state leads the nation in bars per capita? (They call them taverns there....hint, hint.) This state has seven of the top eight cities in the USA.

My mother would have been so proud of her native state! Click to check your answer.

UPDATE: Oops. Fixed the link....thanks for bringing it to my attention, Deacon Blues! Serves me right for posting without caffeine.


All Hail the Land Yacht!

Next time you go to fill up, remember, it could always be worse! (Am just finishing up reading "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas".....the Whale must have looked a lot like this when Hunter S Thompson and his attorney started on their second Sin City adventure. I don't want to think about what it looked like after.)

There were a few more things that happened on this day in history, including the start of protesting by students in Tiananmen Square, and the Red Baron got shot down.


A Whole New Meaning for the Word "Airborne"?

I kind of have babies on the brain right now. So shoot me....

But of all the crazy rumors I have heard, this ranks right up there. I remember hearing about the babies born aboard a flight get free air travel for life rumor a while back. This was supposedly the reason that very pregnant women were denied airline passage. I thought it was nothing more than pure crap (both the reasoning behind it, and getting a lifetime air pass). turns out there have actually been two babies who hit the jackpot on different Asian carriers, and one little girl stateside has free BART transportation for life. Click on the link above for the full story!

Viagra....Now With New Kosher Coating for Passover!

Happy Passover to all of the Jet Set Chick's Jewish readers! Since it is coming up, here's some dietary news I bet you didn't know.

I never realized that Viagra was not kosher. Worried observant Jews have found a solution, however. If you encase the tablet in kosher gelatin capsules, according to an Israeli rabbi, it now is permissible to use it during Passover.

Another helpful hint for you from the Jet Set Chick, who is ALWAYS looking out for her devoted readers!

Now I gotta go work off some of those wonderful macaroons!


Welcome to the World, Little One!

Got some news this weekend that I wasn't expecting....but then again, I don't think the mother was expecting it, either.

I'm going to sort of be a Jet Set Aunt around year's end! The mother's not sure of the due date, but by doing the math, there could be a new little Phoenician in December.

So if there's a day when I don't update this blog, don't think I've forgotten about it. I have a bit more responsibility coming my way (backup birth coach, nursery decorator, escort to doctor appointments, and heaven knows what else!) Planning a wedding was way less complicated. There's no way to phone someone in Vegas, give them your credit card number and have them take care of it all for you when it comes to kids. At least, there's no legal way that comes to mind.

Besides, I know a little about what it's like to be pregnant when it is not a convenient time. This was long before the Tsar came into my life, back when I was with the guy known to some of my friends as "the Idiot", and to my late father as "the Jackrabbit". Yes, there's other names they use for my ex-fiance, but I'm trying to keep the profanity to a minimum. I've never forgotten how scared and alone I felt, and I often wonder what that child would have been like if I had not miscarried. ("The Idiot" was happy as hell about that....he was pressing me to have an abortion or give it up for adoption. He was all about avoiding responsibility, financial or otherwise. Thank God I didn't marry that loser!) I didn't tell anyone other than "the Idiot" and my doctor about it for years. If a woman has ever been through that, she can never forget it, no matter how many years have passed.

I know I try to keep this light and not-so-personal, and I'm sorry if I just "shared" too much.

Anyway, I know that the mother reads this blog occasionally. If she does read this post, I just want her to know that no matter what she decides, I still think she's one of the best friends I could ever have, and it's an honor to know her. I just hope I can be as good a friend to her now when she really needs it.

And if the little one ever reads this, remember.....Aunt Kory O can't wait to meet you!

Well, I've Never Been Accused of Being "Rational" Anyway

But then, I don't think that Mark Hatfield Jr., spokesperson for the TSA, would describe Rep John Mica of the House Aviation Subcommittee, of being "rational" either, after he described the TSA as a "Soviet-style screening system".

Look, I've been to the old Soviet Union. Twice. The Tsar lived there. Calling the TSA "Soviet-style" is an the Soviet Union. If they were still around, they'd have a hell of a defamation suit, IMHO.

But my favorite little bit from this article was a quote from Mr Hatfield. Someone must have whizzed in his Meow Mix before he came up with this sound bite:

``When the political posturing is over, rational people will see that American screeners today are the best we have ever had and that they are limited only by current technology and security procedures that are significantly influenced by privacy demands.''

Hint to Hatfield from another guvmint employee: Don't tork off one of the guys responsible for your agency's budget by insulting him. It rarely ends well.


Ever Wonder About "The Sex Lives of Cannibals"?

After reading this book about the island nation of Kiribati, I was sort of tempted to list it as "A Place to Avoid Going to if You Can". But, it just seemed sort of like kicking an injured kitten. Hardly sporting, and does it really deserve that kind of treatment? Nah!

Like many people, I have this image of a South Seas paradise. Tropical breezes, surf, palm trees, white sand beaches, vibrant turquoise and green, pineapples and coconut. I know I've been paying too much attention to travel advertisements, but I'm sure you have some of the same images come to mind when you think of that region.

I even planned on running away there myself a couple years ago when I had the sergeant from hell as my old boss. (If there is any justice, there's a special place in the eighth circle of hell for him in the afterlife....but I digress.) J Maarten Troost actually did leave everything behind to follow his then-girlfriend to the remote South Pacific nation.

Kiribati, specifically Tarawa, where the author lived, has the turquoise seas and white sand. It's got wreckage left over from a bitterly fought World War II battle still lying around.

But it's also got a disposable diaper problem, erratic beer and food replenishment, and during the time that Troost lived there, a horrible fascination with "La Macarena". Not to mention,"As far as I could tell, the government spends a lot of time drinking and brawling. No workshop on global climate change is complete until the assistant secretary of the environment has passed out in a pool of beer barf ..."

The book itself is a hell of a vicarious adventure. If nothing else, you'll learn what to bring and what to leave home if you ever do run away to a remote island. Check it out sometime!


Update on Previous Story: 15 Year Old Following in Her Father's Footsteps

Back on 6 April, I posted this about Alicia Hempleman-Adams, a girl trying to match her father's accomplishment in walking to the North Pole from Baffin Island.

She did even better, beating him by one day to finish in 10! Way to go, girl!

I've Been to Nizhni Novgorod, and I Wouldn't Want to be Sober There, Either!

Two American girls have been sent home from Russia for drinking vodka.

Yes, you read that right.

The girls signed a form stating that they would not smoke, do drugs or drink while studying in Russia prior to their arrival in Nizhni Novogorod. It clearly stated that they could be sent back, and they are now facing getting expelled from their unnamed universities, according to this story from "Russia Makes It Funny".

One of the girls was busted when she was found in the hospital with a head injury (sustained when she fell down while intoxicated), while the other was in the local drunk tank when her host family and the program administrator went to the police to look for her. The drunk tank girl was also later hospitalized.

Both were sent home on 11 April.


13 SFO Bag Smashers Caught Stealing from the Troops

(Tip of the hat to .com at Rantburg for this one...)

A group of thirteen baggage handlers ripped off over 200k worth of electronics and other items sent to servicemen and women stationed in Okinawa. All of them were employed by a carrier called Aeroground, which had a contract with the military to deliver packages overseas.

After receiving complaints that expensive items were missing from their mail, military investigators along with the US Postal inspectors set up surveillance at the San Francisco airport. A postal inspector bought 15 items later reported missing from one of the defendants.

The people named as defendants by the U.S. Attorney's Office are: Arthur Chester Orogo Balmes, 24, of Hayward; Leonardo Ugalde Briosos, 51, of Daly City; Rodolfo Ugalde Briosos, 52, of Daly City; Francis Arnel Ronas Maroto, 25, of Sacramento; Rafael Martinez, 24, of San Bruno; Douglas Quintana Meehleib, 40, of Daly City; Gabriel Jose Navarrette, 19, of Pacifica; Jesus Jose Navarro, 22, of Burlingame; Arnel Tabangcura Salaver, 46, of South San Francisco; Fetongi Mamahi Sanft, 20, of East Palo Alto; Vaea Tangitau Sanft, 19, of East Palo Alto; Sosaia Toviko Tauelangi, 20, of East Palo Alto; Segundo Bendo Tiongco, Jr., 40, of San Francisco.

(On a personal note, I have never served, but one of my acquaintances is currently stationed in Yokohama, doing the kind of job these idjits obviously don't value. Throw the book at 'em!)

Food and Drink Alert for This Site!

I've never been much of a girly girl, in spite of the fact I love the color pink. Most of the obnoxiously chick things I can deal with....except for romance novels. I don't know what's worse, the so-called "stories" with their amazingly overdone prose, or the covers.

I just wish my Photoshop skills were this good! I'd have submitted something months ago instead of making snarky comments at the bookstore.

Happy Birthday to Dana Garr, The Jet Set Chick's Favorite Sky Harbor Employee!!

Unfortunately, she couldn't get tonight off, so she's going to be working on her birthday. That always sucks!

If you see her lurking around the terminals (think a younger Demi Moore, without the skank factor), wish her a very happy birthday!


TSA: The Nation's #1 Carrier of Foot Fungus?

I have really hated having to take off my shoes every time I take a flight nowadays. The TSA actually has the unmitigated gall to say it is "voluntary", but try to get through security without doing it. Voluntary, my royal American a$$!

I always thought it was merely uncomfortable, but now it looks like it is unhygenic as well. Bleah!


Possible Personal Kingdom for Sale!

If you happen to have a spare 2.5 million British pounds lying around, you might be interested in an island for sale complete with heliport and pontoon bridge. It's also snake and rat free!

The 45-acre Green Island is in an area currently even more pricey than Singapore or New York, and also comes with a bungalow and Scandinavian A-frame house.

Any takers?

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's......the Incredible Popeman?

That's right, they can't even leave the poor man alone now that he's dead.

Pope John Paul II has become a comic book character in Colombia, called The Incredible Popeman. He's got holy water, communion wine, and special green chastity pants. I sort of thought the real pope already knew how to fight Satan, but it turns out the new, improved Hell fighter got some advice about the topic from Superman and Batman.

I just hope the Incredible Popeman has better covers than the Man from Krypton. Warning: some of these are so bad you might think they were photoshopped. I fear not, gentle readers.


Golden Years on a Cruise Ship?

It sounds like an urban legend. Some elderly person decides to spend their remaining days at sea on board a cruise ship, taking the rest of their lives as a permanent vacation. Is it for real?

Well, in one case, yes it is. I had heard about the Florida lady who was living onboard the Queen Elizabeth II, and I have been assured that it is true by none other than the crew of that luxury liner.

Click on the link and learn why it may not be such a bad idea after all. Maybe me & the Tsar will do that when we're retired!

Two Charged in Russian Airliner Explosions

An airline employee who accepted a $36 bribe to let a passenger on a Sibir Air flight after check-in had ended and an airline ticket scalper in Russia have been charged in the near-simultaneous dual airliner explosions that happened last August 24 in Moscow.

They have been charged with aiding and abetting terrorism and commercial bribery. A police officer has also been charged with negligence in the incident. It is believed that two Chechen females blew themselves up after being temporarily detained by the police officer.

The airline employee and the ticket scalper have pleaded partially guilty.

Nothing Found on Black Box Recovered from Afghan Air Crash

The flight data recorder commonly called the black box that had been recovered from the February crash of a 737 in Afghanistan not only had no data from the fatal crash, but was also found to have no data on the previous 25 flight hours the plane was in service.

The black box was sent to the United States for analysis, since there is no facility capable of doing this in Afghanistan. There is no explanation as to why the black box malfunctioned.

A second black box that records the conversation between the pilots and the air traffic controllers has not been found. Both boxes are designed to withstand a crash and transmit signals to enable them to be found.

Twenty four of the 104 passengers aboard the Kam Air flight from Herat to Kabul were foreigners. The plane crashed into a mountain during a blizzard, leaving no survivors.


The New Zealand Prime Minister Had a Slight Turbulence Problem Yesterday....

(Editor's note: I originally posted this at Rantburg under my other alias, Desert Blondie, but a lot of people got the wrong idea when I used the title "NZ PM in Mile High Drama" bad!)

A plane carrying the New Zealand prime minister was forced to land when a door swung open in flight, causing a drop in altitude. Two police officers flying with the prime minister were unable to shut the door of the small plane, and held on to it until the plane landed at a nearby airport. No injuries were reported.

Cocktail of the Week

I know I've been slacking on the job here. It's been way more than a week since I posted the last cocktail recipe. And no, even though Tsar Charming insists on calling it "Tropical Pork", I'm going with "Sparkle Girl" in honor of my buddy.

But since Yuri's Night is today, well, I had to get off my chaise longue and come up with something for the celebration. I got this out of my new book, Atomic Cocktails. This one seems perfect for saluting that space pioneer.

Rocket Man

1 1/2 oz vodka
3/4 oz Galliano
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1 с crushed ice
1 oz 151 proof Demarara rum
1 sugar cube

In a blender, combine the vodka, Galliano, lime juice and crushed ice. Blend until thick and slushy. Pour the mixture into a 6 oz cocktail glass. Invert a teaspoon over the mixture, tip-end angled slightly down and just touching the side of the glass. Slowly pour 3/4 oz of the rum over the spoon so the rum floats on top of the drink.

Pour the remaining rum into a shot glass. Spear the sugar cube with a bamboo or metal skewer and dip in the rum to coat.

Using a long stemmed match, and stretching your arms away from your body, carefully light the cube and lay it on top of the rum float to ignite. The flame should be small, but stand back. When the flame dies out, remove the skewer and serve.

Yes, it's a little bit involved, and slightly dangerous. Your local bartender will probably refuse to make it, so be careful if you try this one at home, kids. You don't want to end up like my Albanian fishing buddy. (A friendly reminder from the crack Jet Set Legal Advisor, Billing M Hours.)



And now, headlining in the Jet Set Lounge TONIGHT...with a musical tribute to Smiling Yuri...take it away, William Shatner!


Not Exactly a Virgin Atlantic Ad Campaign....

None of the photoshopped parodies in this episode of Something Awful's Photoshop Phriday have any redeeming social value. But I do like the homage to Hunter S Thompson (just finished reading Hell's Angels yesterday. I would give almost anything to be half as good a writer as he was. RIP.)

Probably not safe for work, probably you will be offended by at least one of them, definitely not for children. Go look!

Libya Takes Back Money From Lockerbie Escrow Account

Libya has withdrawn half a billion dollars from an escrow account set up to pay damages to the families of the Pan Am flight that crashed by Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.

They claim that the final part of the agreement, which required that the State Department remove Libya from a list of nations that support terrorism, still has not been met. Each family of the 270 victims has already received $8 million in payments from Libya.


This WTF Moment Brought to You by Qantas!

A Qantas passenger was surprised while waiting for his flight at Sydney International Airport when he glanced outside to see a baggage handler cavorting on the tarmac wearing the head mask of his camel costume.

The baggage handler has been suspended and could be fired at the end of Qantas' investigation.

State Department Removes Travel Warning to Israel

The State Department has removed the travel warning it has had in place regarding Israel for the past two years.

Israel had been upset about this, saying that it had contributed to the decline in tourism to the Holy Land. The new statement issued this week tells Americans to carefully weigh the necessity of travel to Israel, to defer all unnecessary travel to the West Bank, and to avoid Gaza entirely.

KLM Flight Refused Permission to Enter US Airspace

A KLM flight enroute from Amsterdam to Mexico City returned to Schiphol Airport yesterday due to the United States' refusal to allow two unidentified undesirable passengers to cross American airspace.

The plane was not scheduled to land in United States territory, and the pilots were only informed of the decision as the flight was nearing Canada. Upon return to Schiphol, the remaining 285 passengers were put on another plane to Mexico. The two passengers were not detained by Dutch authorities because they saw no reason to put them under arrest.

The unwanted passengers were not identified, and KLM officials referred all questions back to the Americans. Both sides are looking into what caused the communications breakdown prior to the flight taking off. KLM, like other foreign carriers, vets its passenger lists with security services prior to flight operations.

My Blueprint for Future World Domination!!

I have always thought that the "wear bright colors" point on this list works wonders when part of an evil plan.

Click on the link and read this now. Food/drink alert.....


"I Don't Care if Your Name is Charles Darwin....We're Booked!"

The Galapagos Islands are one of the very few places where the best time to visit is the time when the rates are the lowest. That time of year happens to be right now. April through May is when the local fauna starts acting like college kids on Spring Break, and the local flora bursts forth in all its glory.

If you want to see it sometime, however, traveling to the Galapagos requires planning. You can't just decide on the spur of the moment to take a gander at a blue footed booby. The amount of visitors is strictly controlled so that the park is not overwhelmed.

It's not too early to start planning for 2006. Most of 2005 is already booked, but if you want to try your luck, this article from Frommer's has some great information on your options for a unique vacation.

This Bomb Detector Also Can Sniff Out Copies of "Gigli"

A couple of years ago, my brother was sent by his company to Kuching, Malaysia.

He's still in therapy because of it....

Anyway, one of the (few) things he liked about Kuching was the fact that he often got to see American blockbuster movies before I did, due to the lovely local custom of pirated DVD's. His copy of the first "Lord of the Rings" movie, complete with shaky Mandarin subtitles at the bottom of the very grainy picture that he purchased for $2 or so remains his favorite. He watched it a couple times during the long flight back to the States.

However.....if he were to try that now, he'd be busted. Malaysia has just agreed to install new X-rays at Kuala Lumpur International Airport and one other in Penang state to detect the counterfeits, courtesy of the Motion Picture Association of America. Supposedly they'll help find firearms and explosives too.

I don't know what's more frightening, having to prove that you really did spend good money on a crappy movie, or the idea that Kuala Lumpur didn't have a decent bomb detector until the MPAA bought them one?


Bye Bye, TSA?

Believe it or not, the TSA has actually been on borrowed time since November 2004. That's when the agency's charter was scheduled to be renewed....and nothing has been done about it.

Of course, the fact that some senators ended up on the "No Fly" list probably didn't help. Or the fact that it's losing it's third director in three years. The employees stealing luggage or x-raying each other instead of luggage weren't one of the bright spots, either.

But don't tell Paul C Light, a public service professor at New York University. He considers them to be one of the federal government's success stories of the past fifty years. (Thank God I'm a State employee!! - editor)

That's the statement that really torked me off, to be honest. Quite frankly, if I behaved at my job the way I've seen TSA screeners behave at theirs, I'd have been fired a long time ago. I have never seen so many public employees go out of their way to win "Rude Employee of the Month" as I have at the airport.

Yes, I know....stress filled job, people's lives are at stake, blah, blah, blah. Honey, I've been there and I've done that, in more hazardous situations than an air-conditioned airport terminal. I've directed traffic in downtown Phoenix during the Diamondbacks' opening day, and when they were playing a popular team like the Dodgers or Cubs on a hot summer Saturday. No shade, 110 degrees, for two hours, trying to avoid the little old ladies who could barely see over the dash, and protecting the drunk pedestrians from going out into oncoming traffic. The only protection I was allowed to carry was.....sunscreen. As far as I'm concerned, if I wasn't allowed to get snippy in that situation, the pampered little twit who is enjoying his "power" as he rummages through my dirty laundry shouldn't be allowed to get snippy either.

I sure hope those little idjits enjoy their "power"....because, last week, a private company called FirstLine Transportation Security just won approval for liability coverage under the SAFETY act. What does that mean? Well....remember the old days when private companies handled airport screening? They could be back, starting in FirstLine's Cleveland base.

I just hope they don't offer the screeners the possibility of getting other government jobs when they get replaced. The remaining public employees don't need their special kind of "customer service skills".

Think You Know the Answer to This Question?

You are going from the Atlantic to the Pacific through the Panama Canal. Which direction do you go?

Here's the answer, smartypants.

Newest San Antonio Tourist Attraction....the Mile High Club?

Well, maybe. San Antonio Air Tours will help you out if one of your goals in life is to join the club, at least until the FAA makes a determination within a few weeks if they can continue to offer the service.

Interested? Get thee and thy sweetie to San Antonio's Stinson Airport with $250. (They've already been banned from "family-oriented" Castroville airport....and an airport manager at Stinson has removed the brochures from the lobby.) Close the curtain between you and your pilot....and, er, enjoy your flight.


World Ended Yesterday....Did Ya Notice?

The world was supposed to come to an end yesterday, according to racist Warren Jeffs, head of Arizona's polygamous Colorado City.

I think he got a bit confused about the partial eclipse that will be visible tomorrow in the southern part of North America.

Places To Avoid Going To If You Can.....An Ongoing Series of Opinionated Reviews

Back when the Jet Set Chick was wasting her daddy's money studying really, really hard to get that degree, I often daydreamed about places behind the Iron Curtain I wanted to visit someday. Someday, I told myself, I will go to Moscow....St Petersburg.....Vilnius.....Tallinn....Prague.

Kaliningrad, Russia's forgotten outpost on the Baltic, never popped up on my radar back then. It was forbidden for foreigners to go to the country's only year-round northern port, anyway.

I thought it was because of strategic military value, and all that. Possibly not. After reading this article from the BBC, I now think maybe it was to protect tourists from the locals.

New Hotness....Ice Hotels!

I don't think I'll ever convince the Tsar to try the newest craze in the hospitality world. He's had enough freezing temperatures for one lifetime, thankyouverymuch.

They're cold, they're made out of ice, and there's no potty. But if you are willing to shell out the bucks, you just might luck out and get some penguins in your room. Click here for the full article.


15 Year Old Following in Her Father's Footsteps

For some reason, I keep running across things mentioning ice, snow, and frozen lands. Maybe because today is the anniversary of Peary & Henson's arrival at the North Pole.

Anyway, I came across this article about a 15 year old British girl trying to become the youngest person to hike to the North Pole. She's already the youngest person ever to be at the Pole, thanks to a plane ride to meet her adventurer father when she was eight.

Good luck to you, Alicia Hempleman Adams!!

Passenger Kicked Off Plane for Porn

A plane returned to the gate and kicked off a passenger in South Africa when he swore at a flight attendant who took away his porn magazine over the Easter weekend.

At least, that's what I think happened. South African English is a bit weird...The only thing I've ever heard of mentioned in this article is Cape Town.

Unexplained Puking....It's Not Just for Cruise Ships Anymore!

An investigation into what caused about 60 people to suffer vomiting and shortness of breath on 21 February in Melbourne's Virgin Blue terminal has turned up bupkis.

The inability to determine a cause has been blamed on delays in calling for specialized medical help. Flights were affected for two days after the incident, and 47 people had to be transported to local hospitals for treatment.

The constabularies had better luck dealing with a situation at the Hobart airport, however.....(somebody ought to be shot for the headline.)

When Reading "The Jet Set Chick" Has Lost it's Charm....

You can start reading LAX's own monthly online newsletter. I'm not making that even features a concession of the month!

I'd rather have a cocktail of the month, but then again, you all know how degenerate I am. ;)


Maybe Colorado's Not So Bad After All!

One of my good friends lives in Colorado and can't wait to leave. I doubt that this would make her stay.

All I know is me & the Tsar wish they would pass a similar law in Arizona!

British Flyers Get Metal Cutlery Again

We seem to be banning more and more items on commercial flights this side of the Atlantic, but British regulators have now determined that metal cutlery, knitting needles, and scissors with blades less than 3 cm (the typical size for embroidery scissors) will be allowed starting 25 April.

British Airways claimed that they had been asking for just such a move in light of improved security measures and increased passenger comfort.

Get Ready for 12 April!

Ready to party like the Jet Set Chick and Tsar Charming?

Well, there's something Russian we're going to celebrate, and it ain't Stolichnaya. (Ok, it might be included. But it's not the reason.)

It's a worldwide remembrance of "Smiling Yuri" Gagarin's flight on that day in 1961 aboard the Vostok 1, when he became the first human in space. He died about seven years after that flight while piloting a MiG, so since he can't be here to get down, let's knock one back in his honor on the 12th!

(BTW, if you want to celebrate something American, on that date in 1981, the first space shuttle was launched....)

Click to find out if there is a party near you!


And You Thought British Footie Fans Were Nuts....

Greek volleyball fans in Thessaloniki had to be dispersed with tear gas and pepper spray when they refused to leave the airport today.

They wanted to greet the victorious Iraklis Thessaloniki team upon their return from Crete. Iraklis defeated....some other team to win the Greek Cup final. Anyway, the local police wouldn't let the 500-strong crowd in, and they rioted. No arrests or injuries have been reported.

USS Akron Anniversary

Ask most people what the deadliest dirigible disaster in American history was, and they will tell you it was the Hindenburg.

Over twice as many died on the USS Akron on this date off of Atlantic City when it ran into a cold front. A second ship sent out to save survivors also crashed, killing two more and bringing the final death toll to 75. The crash of the Akron marked the end of the US Navy's blimp program in 1933.

Another Time Waster from the Jet Set Chick

Think you got what it takes to snag a historical hottie? Click here and see if you can snag your very own prince, dictator, or military genius!

I keep striking out.....good luck to you!!


United Airlines Plane Catches On Fire in Denver

A United Airlines flight to La Guardia Airport in New York had to abort takeoff when one of the Airbus A320 engines stalled and caught on fire Friday evening.

The crew and passengers evacuated the plane via emergency slides. The only injuries reported were some sprained ankles. No other flights were affected, and the passengers continued on to La Guardia about 4 hours later.

Bombs Explode in Thailand, One Dead at Airport

Two bombs exploded in southern Thailand today. One of the bombs exploded at the ticket counter of Hat Yai international airport, killing one person and seriously injuring 20 others. The airport was a popular starting place for tourists exploring that part of the country. At this time, it has not been closed, but flights have been delayed to Bangkok.

Hat Yai, the largest city in the region and its commercial capital, has a large Muslim population. Muslims recently have rebelled against the Thai government, and five days ago an Indonesian Muslim group was trying to broker a peace deal between the government and Muslims in the region. 630 people so far have died in the uprisings since 2004.

Want to Know What it's Like to be a 911 Operator?

A long, long time ago, I used to be a 911 operator for the City of Phoenix. I wish I could say that everyone who called honestly needed police help, but some of the callers needed psychiatric help more.

If you don't believe me, click here to find out.

I only wish that kind of call was as rare as finding a bright blue diamond, but it's not.


Memories of the Pope

It's hard for anyone who was brought up Catholic to watch the news right now. For many of us, John Paul II is the only pope we knew. He has been the pope for 26 years, far longer than any other pope in the history of the Church.

It is hard for non-Catholics to understand just how surprising it was when he was first elected. When his predecessor passed on, it was just assumed that another ancient Italian was going to take his place. After all, they had been the popes for the previous 400 some years.

"The Pope is what??" the Italians at St Joseph's Church said when they heard the news. I was pretty happy myself, having to put up with a bunch of dumb Polock jokes when I was a kid from the half-Italian family across the street. We were of Eastern European descent, but to them, everyone with a funny sounding Slavic name was a Polock. All of those stupid jokes faded away as it became better known that the Pope could speak, what was it, many languages, and wasn't a klutz.

My dad had promised to take me and my brother to Rome someday, and he did after I graduated from high school. He took it upon himself to make it a Catholic heritage tour, and somehow arranged to get tickets to a private audience with the Pope. 5000 people from all corners of the world were crammed into the place.

I remember the unofficial competition between the Latin American contingent and the Poles to make the most noise in honor of the Pope. It was at least an hour before he was scheduled to arrive, but from one end of the room you would hear a "Juan Pablo! Amigo! Colombia esta contigo!" answered by some choir singing out in Polish at the other end. Not to be outdone, some other group would sing along to a guitarist in Spanish behind us. In front, there was some other group trying to join in the noise fest, but the Poles and the Latins joined forces to drown them out.

When he finally arrived, the place went nuts. I don't remember what he said. It's been about twenty years and lots of tequila since that day. I do remember his presence, even from the back of the room. I remember how happy the audience was to see him, and the outpouring of love for John Paul when he acknowledged the crowd. When he walked down the aisle to leave, my brother and I were pushed aside by a tiny, determined nun that we nicknamed "The Battle Penguin". Neither one of us went to parochial schools (our atheist mama wouldn't allow it), but we knew better than to get in the way of a determined sister.

He was also the first Pope to visit Arizona. We were lucky again and got tickets to see him at Sun Devil Stadium (only about a third of Valley Catholics could attend...there weren't enough seats to accommodate everyone). An acquaintance of mine dearly wanted to go and we gave him the tickets instead. We watched him on the television performing Mass there. When I think of the Pope, I remember him as he was on that day....strong, alert and dedicated to his faith.

That's what made it so hard to watch his last appearance this Easter. I don't think any Catholic really expected to see him celebrate the most important Mass of the year, but it was still surprising to see this once vigorous man crying at his window when he acknowledged the crowd. I think he knew it was the last time. When they showed the crowd, it looked like they realized it, too.

Now on CNN they say that his last words have been "You come to me, and for this I thank you."


Chicks Only Hotel Floor Opens in Durban

Ladies, if you really want to get away from the men in your life, the Royal Hotel in Durban, South Africa has just opened a completely female floor in their hotel.

It will be serviced solely by women, and will move around the hotel for security reasons. And, of course, there is an extra charge to be on the chick-only floor. (You could see that coming a mile away, right, ladies?)

Holland America Sued Over Unsanitary Cruise and Hookers

81 year old Bernice Oltman and her son Jack are suing Holland America in Seattle because of repeatedly overflowing toilets, crew members eating off of the buffet tables and crew members trying to pick up hookers when in port during their Valparaiso, Chile to San Diego cruise last month.

The Oltmans want compensation for their pain and suffering, but also for loss of earnings and the colonoscopy and hemmorhoid surgery they say was necessary after being on the stinky ship.

EU Threatens "Visa War" With the United States Over Passports

Ignoring the fact that they were already given a one-year extension to get in compliance with regulations requiring biometric information in newly issued passports, the EU has threatened to retaliate if it is not given another extension to the policy.

At stake would be the revocation of visa-free traveling for 15 current EU member states. The EU estimates that only six of them will meet the deadline of October 2005.

27 countries currently have agreements with the US government to allow citizens to travel without visas. If the countries want to maintain their visa-free status, they are required to issue the new high-tech passports.

James Sensenbrenner, head of the congressional committee on the judiciary, has already warned Franco Frattini, the EU Commissioner for Justice and Security, that another extension is highly unlikely in view of Americans' security concerns. The EU responded that it may start demanding visas from Americans if the deadline is not extended yet again.