The Cranky Ol' Bat

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


Yes, It's About Diapers, But It's Travel Related....Promise!

This isn't going to be a pregnancy blog from now on, I swear. It's still going to focus on travel.

But, courtesy of the Jet Set Brother, here's something I really didn't want to think about in regards to Chinese New Year festivities.

If you're in the Middle Kingdom for the celebration, stick to planes. Yeesh!!!


What Kind of Sports Car Are YOU???

Hat tip to Instapundit....

I'm a Ferrari 360 Modena!

You've got it all. Power, passion, precision, and style. You're sensuous, exotic, and temperamental. Sure, you're expensive and high-maintenance, but you're worth it.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Just When I Could Probably Really Use a Drink.....I Gotta Pass

"Cocktail of the Week" was a semi-regular feature here at the ol' Jet Set Chick. This year, it's going on hiatus till at least October.

Yes, I done got myself in a family way, which is why I didn't post here for a few days. I figured if I did try to post, I was going to have a hell of a time not spilling the beans before I could tell the Tsar.

Since he's the daddy, I figured he should be the first to know (well, ok....after the Jet Set Dogs, my entire OB/GYN's office and the people in the waiting room at the time, and a few people at the hospital where I went to get the blood test to confirm the results). It's been the hardest secret I have ever had to keep. The Tsar's birthday was yesterday, and I told him with a "I Love You, Daddy!" birthday card with two teddy bears on the front.

When he was finally able to speak, most of the words he was able to say were, "Wow." and "this is the best birthday present ever." Then he said, "no wonder you didn't want any beer at the brewpub at dinner."

I guess he's pleased.

Anyway, until we know if it is a boy or a girl, it's Bubba the Hitchhiker. All we do know about Bubba is.....Bubba does not like hamburgers, and isn't crazy about chocolate either. That last one, especially, is a surprise to us, considering I am (or at least was until recently) a chocoholic.

So, if there is an extended abscence on my part around here, say, approximately 2 October, give or take a couple of weeks, you know where I am. The maternity ward. That's not exactly where I wanted to spend my next birthday (yup, my due date is my birthday), but for Bubba I'll make an exception.

BTW, if any of you can think of a good name to go with "Alyona" if it is a girl, that would definitely be appreciated. The Tsar wants that in her name, either as a first or middle name. If it's a boy, it's either Joseph Michael or Joseph Mikhail in honor of the grandfathers. The grandmothers' names, Josephine and Marina, aren't even possibilities. Big nyet to that idea.

I think I know now why expectant mothers are queasy. That weird combination feeling of happiness and anticipation with a touch of being terrified could give anyone a little funny feeling in the tummy. 'Scuse me a bit, I gotta go get the featured beverage of the month around here. Ginger ale.


The Aussies Tell You Where to Go, Mate!! And When!!

I wish I had a good reason for slacking off around here, but I honestly don't. I can't even blame Maureen Dowd's Are Men Necessary? for tearing me away from my duties at the Jet Set Chick.

Let me save you some case you didn't already know, the book sucks. I still have no idea how I managed to get through the first chapter, but was fascinated to hear that the only reason the Tsar was interested in marrying me was because I am his "inferior".

And all this time I thought it was because he liked my accent when I speak Russian, and I didn't drag him to a co-ed baby shower on our second date. (Yes, we were invited to go. Since I actually was looking forward to this date and wanted to see the Tsar again, I suggested we skip and go to a movie instead. He was so relieved, he even went voluntarily to a sort of chick flick.)

No wonder this was still hanging out in the local library branch's "Stellar Sellers" section, gathering dust. My bad for ignoring the sign right there.

Don't ask me about anything other than the first chapter and part of the second. I still think she should have called it something like....well...."Meow Mix" would have worked nicely. It's catty and skips all over the place.

Oh, yeah, this is supposed to be, more or less, a travel related site. So here goes....don't take that book on your next flight.

You're welcome. Remember, I'm here to help.

And the best way I know how to help, if one of your resolutions includes traveling more, is to give you ideas of where to go. A nice list of some of the more suprising times to visit countries around the world has been helpfully provided by the Sydney Morning Herald.

My only quibble? Their suggestion that Finland is a good place to visit any time of the year. Trust me on this, dahlinks.....Sweden. Go for Sweden, especially Stockholm.


I Leave Arizona For a Couple of Months....

And someone I used to know professionally gets national attention in a CNN article.

Back in the day, when I thought I would have wanted to become a police officer in the fair city of Phoenix (population: too damn many.....), I spent my time while preparing for the Academy as a civilian employee of the department. I did a lot of different things there, but the most, um, challenging assignment was as a parking enforcement officer.

(Cue "Lovely Rita" here. And yes, I worked that little outfit as much as it was possible to do.)

I often ended up in Judge Freeman's court. People seemed to think that if they challenged the ticket I wouldn't show up. Heh, heh, heh.....besides, in summer, do you really think I would pass up the opportunity to spend a morning in an air-conditioned court, when my only other option was to write additional tickets in the heat? Uh, nope!

Besides, you should have heard some of the goofy excuses that people would come up with for breaking the laws of traffic and parking. You knew it was a classic when other people waiting to present their cases rolled their eyes and groaned.

"I've never seen a parking meter before and had no idea what it was meant to do."

"My rear bumper wasn't in the red zone, so since my whole vehicle wasn't in there, it shouldn't count."

"If someone wanted the handicapped space, all they would have had to do is ask me to move."

I always liked that where is the handicapped guy gonna park so he can crawl over to tell you to get your lazy ass outta the space?

"I shouldn't get this ticket for blocking the hydrant since there was no fire in the area."

"My plate wasn't that expired."

"Yeah, the meter was bagged....the bag did say no parking....but I left the motor running, so I didn't park. I paused."

Judge Freeman and the other honorable public servants on the municipal court docket had the much harder job. At least I could laugh at the above stupid statements. They had to keep a straight face.

Every now and then, however, you could see a little flash in their eyes when they heard a particularily stupid argument. Especially in Judge Freeman's court, you could see him give a certain kind of stare to a defendant making a really, really dumb statement.

I'm sure he gave that kind of stare to Miss Dickinson, who argued that she should be allowed to use a HOV lane because she's pregnant. That's it. She wasn't racing to the hospital for medical attention, either. She was just preggers, did not claim any medical complications, and thought that her unborn baby should count as a passenger.

I guess she's arguing that she had two people behind the wheel. That's against the law in Arizona and most other states. By that logic, my sister-in-law-to-be wouldn't be allowed to drive. (Something tells me she would argue that the kid doesn't count in that circumstance, however.)

After apparently consulting with the legal geniuses at Arizona Right to Life, they decided to take this case on. They presented several instances in Arizona Revised Statutes that treat the unborn child as a legal person in its own right. Of course, they conveniently overlooked the fact that the instances were for things that could result in the death and/or injury of an unborn child.

There is nothing in the state laws, county codes, or city ordinances that relate to the unborn child as a legal person independent of the mother for any other circumstances besides potential or actual fetal death or injury. No one is legally obligated to make a pregnant woman's life easier. There is only the force of good manners.

Speaking of good manners, Miss Dickerson thought that she could ignore them by going into the HOV lane without additional passengers. That's kinda rude! (But I digress.)

I would be more tempted to accept her argument if she would insist on paying double fare when she rides the bus, buying a second ticket if she were to fly on a plane, paying for two at an all you can eat buffet, or getting another ticket when she goes to the movie. After all, she's got a passenger on board, right?

Somehow, I don't think she's offered to do any of that. I've never met a pregnant woman who has, nor have I heard of any cases where a pregnant woman was charged double for any of those reasons.

Anyone who would suggest any of the above justifications for charging a pregnant woman more would be either brave or stupid. Definitely stupid, because under Federal law, that would be discriminatory.

Under Federal law, there are many statutes that specifically prohibit pregnant women from being treated differently than any other woman. They are not supposed to be treated any differently when applying for jobs, housing, you name it. It goes even further and prohibits discrimination against women because they might become pregnant in areas like hiring. The only possible "defense", as it were, to a charge of discrimination in hiring is for cases that would put an unborn child at risk.

If, after she had been stopped, she would have told the officer her pregnancy was at risk, an ambulance would have been dispatched immediately to assist her. That is standard Phoenix Police Department procedure for any circumstance that could have put an unborn baby at risk. Ambulances were routinely dispatched for things like minor fender-benders, a pregnant woman getting hit in the arm, you name it. No citation would ever have been issued.

Got that, Miss Dickerson? Your inconvenience at having to wait in traffic does not justify your bad manners in bogarting the HOV lane. I am certain that other women, some of whom may have been pregnant or thought they might be, were in the lanes next to you, but they didn't think they were so special as to hog the lane simply because they are expecting. By your own arguments, you were not rushing to save the life of your unborn child.

If you needed any further proof of Miss Dickerson's lack of common sense, or even shame, here it is. Not content with wasting Judge Freeman's court time, or the money of Phoenix taxpayers, Miss Dickinson is going to waste Arizona taxpayer money by fighting it in Superior Court.

Never mind that the "I'm pregnant so I should be allowed to drive in the HOV lane" argument has been made before, and been struck down each time.

Never mind that the money could be used for things Arizona Right to Life should be for, like the state's underfunded foster care system, or to promote adoption of special kids.

Never mind that she makes the rest of us pro-lifers look like complete, selfish tools.

Never mind that she is most likely fighting this only because she doesn't want to pay over $400 in fines. Yes, $400 in fines. It is the most expensive citation an officer can write in the Grand Canyon State, higher even than driving without a license, driving without insurance, or having current registration.

Maybe that's why she's fighting it....ya think? wouldn't be anything so crass as that, would it?

Call me jaded, but I bet that's why. After all, that could go for a really cute crib set...sorry....vital birth expenses.

She's lucky she only faced Judge Freeman. I would have jacked that ticket up as high as I could, and directed the money to Aid to Adoption of Special Kids. Those kids need every dime they can get, not selfish broads who think traffic laws don't apply to them.

I just hope the kid doesn't take after mama in that way.

(Editor's note: Yes, she used the word "broad". You should have seen what word she really wanted to use! Oy!)


Get to This Beach Before it's "Discovered"

It's not a country that people think of as a tourist attraction, but Cambodia has some sites of incredible beauty.

Angkor Wat, the abandoned temple complex, has long been the nation's claim to fame. However, recently there has been a building boom along the Cambodian coast in Sihanoukville. Just think of this....a four star hotel on the beach for $125, fine French-style cuisine for $5-14 per entree, top notch seafood, and a new bakery featuring Western-style pastries. You might even catch up on that beach reading you've been planning, since there is not a huge nightlife scene....yet.

Bangkok Airways is planning on adding service to the area since the runway will be strengthened and resurfaced this spring. There are no direct flights right now. heard it here first on the Jet Set Chick, via the International Herald Tribune.....


Maybe You Can Make Some Money on Your Next Trip in Europe?

Under new EU laws upheld by the European Court of Justice, it may theoretically be possible to get more in compensation when you are bumped off a flight than what you originally paid for the ticket.

Don't believe me? Go read the article and find out for yourself.


Did Somebody Say, FREE???

Yes, I did! Get yer happy butts over to Ryanair's website by midnight London time, and you just might be able to travel for free.

Pay the taxes and some other charges, and you can wing your way around Europe until 25 March for free. No lie.

C'mon, you know what to do.....pack some sweaters, and send me a postcard!

Another "Lost Bird" to Join the Flock....

Independence Air will cease operations tonight with its 7:26 pm flight from Westchester, NY to Washington's Dulles. The airline was a favorite with the traveling public, but could not make a profit in it's 19 months as a, well, independent carrier.

It started as a commuter line for United and Delta along the East Coast. High fuel costs, plus the lowered costs of their rivals in bankruptcy, have been blamed for the carrier's demise.

So, what does that mean for the traveling public?

Well....if you have a ticket on Independence for travel after today's date, other airlines are required to honor it for standby travel on the same route. They can charge you up to $50 according to a federal law enacted after September 11. If you had that ticket as a frequent flyer in their iClub, are outta luck. If there were fees associated with that free flight or voucher, you might get that back after the bankruptcy court winds everything up.

Expect to see airfares go up in Independence's markets (the Northeast from Maine to DC). JetBlue is scheduled to start service between Boston's Logan and Dulles on the 17th, so that might help keep prices down along that route. The major carriers that were their competition (United, Delta and US Airways) are likely to jack up the airfares ASAP.


How To Tell If Your Marriage is in Trouble

Man, I love Florida! I thought Arizona was weird, but noooooo....

We Zonies didn't have stories like this.

Yes, I Married an Alien, and I Can Prove It!

Ok, ok....the Tsar is classified by immigration as a "resident alien". Bad joke, I know.

However, for the rest of you who are wondering if....well....maybe that person you were kissing at midnight on New Year's Eve was not a fellow homo sapien, here are some ways to determine if any of your past hook-ups were more out of this world than you thought, courtesy of

If you have determined that you've been far....but you're not sure about your upcoming blind date with a person your buddy has described as "outta this world", use this product. You'll have nothing to fear.

You might turn off a real Earthling, however. It's your call!


So....How's Your New Year So Far?

It started off rather sedately here on the Space Coast. The Tsar had his yearly bout with bronchitis, and my first toast to 2006 was a shot of Nyquil.

Sure hope yours was better!

Anyway, we're planning to go back to Phoenix mid February for the Jet Set Brother's wedding. It ought to be, um, interesting. All I can say is......I really, really appreciate my in-laws in Russia more than I ever did before. Compared to what my brother's getting, they are absolute angels and saints. I will happily go off to work to pay their rent, if needed.

I'm not kidding.

My brother was going to pony up for airfare for his future father-in-law, his fiancee and her daughter.....but ever since the father-in-law had a hissy about the wedding not being in Texas (brother & fiancee, along with almost all of their friends live in Arizona....but, hey, not HIS problem, right?), still hasn't made up his mind about whether he will walk the bride down the aisle or not, and has started to blame the bride for his pending breakup with his fiancee even though she hasn't been near the family homestead in six months, well....let's say the offer has been withdrawn till further notice.

It's gotten to be sort of a car crash scenario going on here. I hate to look, but can't resist the next installment of "Psychoville, Texas"!

(Editor's note...I like Texas. So does the bro. I almost moved to Houston, and he almost headed out to Dallas in 2000. I have the sneaking suspicion my bro ain't heading to the Lone Star State until the in-laws decamp, however. Maybe he'll go to El Paso, but that's as close to these people as he would want to get. I just hope they don't decide to give Florida a spin....this state is weird enough as it is. Plus, I would hate for one of the alligators to get indigestion after chomping on Daddy Dear's ass.)

So, just to have some fun, I think it would be interesting to see how anyone else would send these folks off to my brother's wedding. Comfort is not a priority. Economy is a definite plus, but not required. Extras like meals, seat with a view, fresh linens, are optional, but definitely not required. The only limitation....they have to arrive in one piece. Folded, ok. Spindled? No. No wet spills, or anything requiring medical attention, since I don't know if they have health insurance or not. Mutilated? Keep it to a minimum.

Here's my choice. I'd ship 'em book rate, if I could.