The Cranky Ol' Bat

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


See Ya Next Year.....

Hi there, Jet Set Loungers! I will be back in the New Year. Right now, have to get ready for the wedding in February.....and have to explain the "Trapped in the Closet" episode of "South Park" to the Tsar. (It was a rerun about midnight on "Comedy Central".) I'd tell you more about that show, but I don't want to get sued by the Scientologists.

Take care and see you in January!


That's Dyadya Tsar and Tyotya Kory to You!

This Christmas brought two surprises.

1) I'm going to be a bridesmaid in my brother's wedding, and

2) I'm going to be an aunt. A real, genetically linked aunt, not just "my buddy's having a critter" kind of aunt.

The wedding's tentatively in February, and my new niece or nephew is going to make a splashy debut sometime in September. I hope it's the 17th, since that's when the daddy's birthday is, or on the 25th, since that's mine & the Tsar's anniversary.

The Tsar is tickled, too. This is the fourth little bundle we've heard about since April. (We also just found out that an old friend of mine's wife is having their first daughter any time now in Okinawa. She's in the specialty hospital there for pre-eclampsia, but is doing well, thankfully!)

In any event, this little girl or guy already has $5 for the college fund, courtesy of the Jet Set College Scholarship Program (aka Kory O & the Tsar).

Now, for the first time in my life, I actually have to get one of those weird looking dresses I'll never wear again. My little brother's worth it, though.

I hope this holiday season brought you some wonderful surprises and good news, too!


A Little Weird, But Potentially Useful

Let's say you want to call your buddy in Antananarivo. (Madagascar...What the hey, right?) You just have this hankerin' for some vanilla beans. But....maybe he's asleep?

Before you start letting your fingers do the walking, why don't you check this world timetable first?

It's not really useful. But I thought it was kind of cool, and it might keep you from unwanted wakeup calls to wish "Merry Christmas", "Happy Chanukah" and "Happy New Year!"

Do You Know What Today Is??

Yes, it's time to break out the metal pole, air your grievances and engage in feats of strength. Festivus is here!

I'm just not sure if I should go out to Ace Hardware to get the pole, or if I should just order one from this place for next year.

Yup, Jet Set Brother, meet next year's present! The nice, tabletop model is rather tasteful.

Happy Festivus, everyone!


Well, That Doesn't Inspire Confidence....

Japan Air Lines has had a rough year. It sure didn't get any better when it was revealed that a couple of engines were reversed during scheduled maintenance this February in Singapore......and no one found out until seven months later.

It wasn't a security or safety problem, but still.....not good. Not good at all.

Apparently the plane made 440 trips since the reversal without any problems.


Time to Find a New Doctor!

My heart ultrasound came back perfectly normal, and better yet, everything is just the way it should be. Even my blood pressure is back to normal. Not a thing wrong, thank God!

It's just how the rest of the appointment went that is pissing me off.

I've been feeling kind of tired lately, and my toes feel like I've been walking on snow. My skin feels cold, and when I take my temperature, it's well below normal. So I told the medical assistant, and he starts asking me if I'm coming down with a cold. I don't have any of the usual symptoms that I get, so he starts asking me some other stuff. Yep, have the dry skin thing, tingling in my hands, sore throat.

He tells me, hmm....maybe thyroid problems?

My blood work came back normal, but....he then whips out a card with symptoms of thyroid deficiency on it. I've got at least 3/4 of them.

Let's ask the doctor.


Doctor comes in, looks at the blood work, and says, nope.

Then comes the part that pissed me off.

He starts insisting it is depression. I don't think so, and tell him why (never heard of being cold all the time as a sign of it, and it's not like I feel sad/weepy about anything. Just tired.) He's ready to whip out the old prescription pad right there. It has to be, he says.

Ok, I say....explain why I feel cold all the time in Florida.

He says because it's winter. Very funny.....why do I feel that way even when I am wearing a pair of sweatpants under two blankets? And the furnace is on?

He looks confused.

Early menopause?

I thought you had hot flashes, not constant cold.

Finally he agrees to have me take some more tests. In January. He then asks me if I still had that Singulair stuff he prescribed. I said yes, but I stopped taking it when my arm went numb and woke me up from a deep sleep. The pharmacist told me to stop taking it immediately, and the medical assistant had said that numb feeling meant I was allergic to it.

The doctor then said, well, we'll try it again later.

WTF????? I remember very well how nervous the pharmacist sounded when he called me back after looking up that side effect. The drug site for Singulair even has that bolded on the side effects page.

And this guy wants me to take it again?????

Let me get this straight. I spend December nervous about my damn heart and blood pressure(I pretended it was ok, really....but c'mon. I was more scared about it than I wanted to admit), I get smart answers when I ask what's going on, he's ready to pass out Prozac like candy, I have to fight with him to get a test to rule out thyroid problems, and...he wants me to continue a medication that gave me a bad reaction?

Uh, no. No way.

So, I drove off to the beach, cranked up the seat warmer and the car heater, and watched the waves to calm down. I'm going to see another doctor next week. I hope he'll take me seriously, at least.

It's not the possibility of depression that bothered me. My mother had it, I'm sure of that. I'm sure I had it after my parents' deaths, and it could come back again. If that's what it is, ok, I'll take Prozac or whatever. But somehow I doubt it. (I want to go do things and see places around here. I still get plenty accomplished. Whenever I felt depressed, I just wanted to hide or run away, and nothing got done.)

I could have handled it if he told me that maybe I just had a really weird cold. If he would have bothered to look at my throat, to see if it's just a regular old sore throat, that would have been great.

It's just the total dismissal of what I was telling the guy that torked me off. The suggestion about trying Singulair again didn't help, either.

I'm almost afraid to go to the gynecologist he recommended for my annual checkup later this week. What if he's as bad?

Maybe I should go ask my dogs' vet for a reference. Why is it so easy to find a good vet, and not so easy to find a good human doctor?

Well, I got to go and crank up the furnace.

I sure hope it's just a cold. A very weird one. Will keep you posted.


Not Sure if H P Lovecraft Would Approve of This...

When my mother, the former Miss Slovenian Hottie 1948, was a teenager, she used to read tales of Cthulhu on chilly Wisconsin nights. I never got into them myself, but I remember her telling me about the stories of evil gods who wanted to kill everyone on the planet.

It scared her. Me, on the other hand, being a spoiled child of the 80's....I could relate.

I would have rather read stuff like the song lyrics posted here. There's a few Christmasy type songs, so I think I'll memorize one in case I get dragged up for some karaoke somewhere.


Fun With Air India

I bet passengers on this flight think they spent way too much time on whether or not their flight attendants are fat.

Click on the first link to find out more about the delayed flight from hell. I wonder if Festivus is big in India, because these passengers sure had plenty to bitch about....

We Don't Need No Steenkin' Passport Control!

Approximately 100 travelers got into South Africa on Thursday without going through immigration controls.

The travelers were coming into Johannesburg from Lagos, Nigeria when they found no one at the passport check. They waited for over an hour for someone to show up. When none of the officials did after two urgent pages, the passengers just went through the checkpoint.

No word on whether they stamped the passports themselves.....


Forget Christmas....

St Valentine's Day is coming up in a couple of months. You got a sweetie? Maybe you might just want to hit the road if the answer is no....

Don't give me "travel romances never work out", either. The Tsar was on a temporary work visa when we met, and we're coming up on our second Christmas together in ten days. (It's also our 1 and 1/4 anniversary....awww.....)

Even if it doesn't last a lifetime, well....maybe you will always remember that foreign destination with a big ol' smile for years afterwards. That is not a bad thing, my friends, oh no! There's two reasons I still fondly remember Bimini and Costa Rica.

I know that's all fine and good, but you want real advice whether it's looking for forever or just for a pleasant week. Information about where the odds favor you is also good to know. Fair enough. Check out this article from the Sydney Morning Herald, and make those reservations now. Some of the best locations don't even require Americans to get a passport.

Personally, I'm thinking about encouraging my maid of honor to go to Ireland in September, if she ever gets rid of that pathetic wack job who stood the Tsar up as his best man. I still have this thing for brogues, and that's all I'm sayin'. ;)

And, DragonStorm, remember that conversation about where to move? The Virgin Islands has some good diving...


"I Love Big Brother....I Really Do!"

I don't know what would be worse for employee morale....having to watch this video, or finding out that the rental fee for the DVD or VHS is $275. If the HR idjits bought the stupid thing, it would cost close to $900.

Trust me, the clip at the link is bad enough. The last little bit with ol' Gramps seeing the light is pukeworthy.

It would probably be more beneficial for employee morale to rent "Care Bears Meet Alien" at Blockbuster and get the gang some popcorn....and a hell of a lot cheaper!

UPDATE: The link above has been wiped out. Somebody's little tiny feewings must have been hurt. But, of course, since any company with the cojones to charge an outrageous amount of money for a training video wants to be sure that suckas can still order it, all they did was move it on their site. Check out the video clip here.

And if you want to send the link on after you view it, be sure to hit the "go back" button on your browser to get a good http to pass on. Otherwise it goes to the link that doesn't work any more. Some people are just sooooo testy!

Yes, I have "THE ATTITUDE VIRUS"! And so do the fine people at

"And Another Air Marshal Rides The Bus...."

(With all apologies to the ghost of Freddie Mercury for the above title)

Apparently having decided that they have made the skies safe despite being woefully undermanned, the US Air Marshals are now experimenting with patrolling other means of transportation in new "VIPER" ("Visible Intermodal Protection and Response") teams. The teams consist of two air marshals, one canine team, one or two transportation security personnel and one local law enforcement agent.

Keep your eyes peeled, and you may see them over the next three days on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor and Los Angeles rail lines; ferries in Washington state; bus stations in Houston; and mass transit systems in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington and Baltimore. Some will be undercover, others will be in TSA jackets.


Luxe For Less Bucks....

Is Christmas or Chanukah starting to depress you already, and the presents haven't even been unwrapped yet?

In desperate need of a discount getaway as the chilly temperatures outside darken your mood even more?

Well, kids, what if you could have a first class destination waiting for you at a discount?

Check out some of the dream vacations on Luxury Link's Auction Page. The packages are generally at small luxury hotels, but every now and then there's something like the French culinary cruise (hey, at least you don't have to worry about someone burning your rented Peugeot, oui?) Some of them are deeply discounted, like the Bavarian family-owned hotel that has a package for a little under $800 (normally about $2200).

If you've been dreaming about a family getaway, there's a Tuscan farmhouse for 16 with your name on it (and plenty of local vino to share). Or....forget the screaming kids, hole up with your honey in Aruba.

There are also fixed price options available if you wanted to lock in a certain package. If there's a destination you have always wanted to visit, chances are they have a package for that area.

Most of the auctions have the minimum price acceptable listed. If it's in your budget and looks appealing, why not give it a spin?

Or are you one of those people who insist on paying retail????


Travel Warning Update....

Considering that this morning, I awoke to news of a guy freaking out on a Honolulu-bound Northwest flight from Los Angeles, a report of unnamed "youths" rioting on Sydney beaches, and a bomb blast in Athens, it seemed like a good time to take a gander at what our various guvmints are warning their respective citizenries about overseas travel risks.

The British Foreign Service is recommending that its nationals avoid Gambia due to malaria and armed bandits along the road to Casamance in Senegal, Liberia because of probable violence erupting during the elections, rural areas bordering the Democratic People's Republic of the Congo and Burundi due to possible rebel attacks, and Lebanon (do you really need to be told why??). Ivory Coast and Somalia are still no-go areas according to the Queen's Government.

The State Department has not issued a new travel warning since its 1 December advisory about going to Nigeria. There's just a few little lack of law and order in the country, escalating tensions between Christians and Moslems, the indifference paid to airplane maintenance, targeting of the rich and/or expatriates for kidnapping, and of course, the ever present 419 scammers turning violent on doofuses who think they are going to strike it rich in Lagos once they help this nice person who emailed them....

Canada advises that you get your happy butt out of the Galeras region in Colombia due to increased volcanic activity. If you are in the area, remember that nasty ash and sulfuric acid eruption back on 24 November? Yeah? Well, it may not be over yet, kids. Andale, pues!!!

New Zealand would say git the hell out of areas on the Ecuador side of the Colombian border, the Albanian border around Bosnia-Hercegovina/Kosovo (land mines), and Pakistan, where they advise Kiwis to prepare to bug out. They also want you to know that if you would like to see volcanic activity in Vanuatu, be prepared to sign a liability discharge stating that you understand there is no such thing as a "Zero Hazard" when you insist on poking your head down into the crater.

Don't mess with the Kiwis, especially the Maoris....

And last, but not least, the Aussies advise you to stay out of Angola....not only because of civil unrest, but also because there are indications that the Marburg outbreak may not be completely contained.

Bon voyage, and safe travels to all denizens of the Jet Set Lounge!


Want a Deal on a Chrysler Crossfire?

Well, me & the Tsar already bought our Subaru Forester, so we can't take advantage of this. But if you have had your eye on a new Chrysler Crossfire, click here to get $7100 to $8900 off of the price, courtesy of

And even if you don't want a shipping this weekend at both (until 11 December) and (order over $25 by 16 December).

Save some $$ for your 2006 travel fund!

easyCruise Takes Easy Potshot at Carnival

(Hat tip to The Travel Bloggers....)

If spending nights at sea in tacky ballrooms full of old folks is not your idea of a holiday then is for you! Any similarity with Carnival ships is purely coincidental.


So says an ad in the Miami Herald, anyway. But the catfight gets even better...

The ad reignited a public feud between easyCruise and Carnival that erupted this summer when Haji-Ioannou called the Costa Magica's decor ''tacky'' on Sky TV. Carnival's chairman and chief executive, Micky Arison, fired off an angry e-mail chastising Haji--Ioannou, noting, ``Although, based on what I've seen of your ship, you're an expert on what's tacky.''

On that note, well....Arison's got a valid point. Consider the easyCruise....a boat with a garishly orange logo splashed on the side, no portholes, meals not included, the only "activities" a six person hot tub and a bar. And, oh yeah, cabin cleaning is extra.

However, it starts at $24 a night double occupancy, the boat goes during the night so you can party on shore, and you only have to stay on the tub for a two night minimum.

Maybe I should see if Sparkle Girl would be up for this hostel at sea....I don't think I could talk the Tsar into it....


Just in Time for the Christmas Shopping Season!!

A possible strike at Korean Air!

Yes, if some of your Christmas shopping needs from the Land of the Morning Calm are not already on the shelves of your local Mega-Lo Mart, they may get tied up for a bit if the strike drags on. (Korean Air carries half of that nation's air cargo.)

About 3/5 of flights are expected to be affected Friday. The guvmint may intervene like they did with Asiana Airlines, and force the pilots back to work if it is considered vital to national interests.

Hey Guys, Leave Your Prettiest Dress At Home if You Are Heading to Nairobi

A transvestite Burundian will be deported from Kenya after being charged with immigration offenses. He has already paid $700 in lieu of detention for six months.

Alexandra Kwizera was drinking coffee in a restaurant when he got busted for having inaccurate documentation. His passport says he is a she, and Kwizera didn't really impress the conservative Kenyans by dressing as a chick for his court date, either.

Man Dies After Freaking Out on Plane

Sorry, guys, can't be snarky about this one...

A reportedly mentally ill Florida man was shot by air marshals yesterday at Miami International Airport after he freaked out on a plane and claimed to have a bomb in his carry on luggage.

Rigoberto Alpizar was reaching for the bag when he was shot. No explosives were found in the bag or on the plane after the incident.

Condolences to the man's family and the air marshals involved. (Yes, the air marshals. I wouldn't want to be where they are right now....wishing that they would have been able to tell that there wasn't a bomb.)

No one else was harmed in the incident.


Dallas is Feeling the Love.....

Finally, one of the stupidest legacies of any former member of Congress is being slowly struck down. The Wright Amendment restricted travel from Dallas' Love Field to airports either within Texas or states that border Texas. (Maybe if you are old enough, you might remember Rep Wright. He opposed Reagan's tax cuts not on philosophical grounds, but simply because people might spend it at McDonald's....I guess he was getting his campaign money from Burger King. Yup, that mental dwarf. He was responsible for this idiotic travel restriction, too.)

Southwest Airlines has been allowed to fly to Missouri from it's headquarters at Love Field starting this month. Love Field is much closer to downtown Dallas, and it is expected to draw some traffic away from the headache that is DFW, home to American Airlines.

Of course, American Airlines will match the fare, and will open up its dormant gates at Love Field to take on Southwest on its home turf.

Southwest is planning to charge $129 one-way to Kansas City and St Louis from Love Field, with the occasional seat going for $79. American was charging $253-$599 for the same destinations from DFW.

American and DFW are expected to lobby hard to ensure that no other destinations are allowed to join Missouri.

What a Week!

Sorry about the extended vacation. I was freaking out a little bit about the heart ultrasound. Not that it would help the situation, of course.....

The whole procedure took about 25 minutes. I got a good view of the valves inside. As far as I can tell, I gots all the parts and theys all working. The cardiologist apparently didn't have a fit once he or she looked at them, so I didn't get called in early to hear bad news. The tech taking the ultrasound didn't seem concerned, so that's always a good thing. (Remember, any time you are expedited for any medical procedure.....chances are, something inside you is pretty F*&%-ed up.)

I celebrated by cranking up the intensity on the treadmill. It might sound crazy, but the way I was thinking is this: if there is a little boo-boo on the heart, I would have heard about it by now. The best thing I can do for myself right now is to strengthen what I have in the ol' ticker.

I also started to eat a little better and take some vitamins and fish oil. I don't know if that's helping my heart, but my skin isn't so dry and my knees aren't as angry in the morning, so at least I'm getting some benefits.

I also met up with my good buddy Blake in Orlando over the weekend. He's looking for a good place to be single, since apparently a lot of people are heading out of PHX. I was able to give him one answer: not Central Florida. Try Miami or Texas or Chicago...or even Seattle first. Any ideas out there?

But the biggest news of all was the birth of my good buddy's daughter, at 3 minutes past midnight on 4 Dec! (Remember how I polled the general audience here for name suggestions a while back? That was for her.) Seven pounds, eleven ounces. I forget how long.

Oh yeah, her name? Good question....still hadn't picked one, as far as I know. So, I'm calling her NINA until I hear differently (abbreviation for No Initials, Name...or Anything). My other choice was "the Critter", but that's more appropriate for early pregnancy when you don't know if it's a boy or girl.

Anyway, mom & NINA are doing fine, and hope you all are too!