Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dude, there's a big dead bear outside your store.

When I saw the title of Salt's most recent post, I immediately thought that she was writing about a bear incident that has been making the news in the Bay Area.

I was COMPLETELY off on this one (sorry Salt), but it made me think about this poor headline-making bear some more.

Click here for a link to the news story.

In a nutshell...

A guy walks into a meat market (sounds like the beginning of a great joke, right?) and mentions to the clerk that "Hey, there's a huge dead bear on the sidewalk outside of your store!".

And, sure enough, there was a huge dead bear on the sidewalk outside of the store.

It appears that the 300 lb black bear had been fatally shot in the shoulder and dumped outside the residential area market.

So how does a 300 lb bear end up in front of a meat market?

The Bay Area is just all aflutter with the possibilities.  Even though this is Northern California and we have lots and lots of bears and lots and lots of stupid people and it is bear hunting season, one of our crack local news teams called the Oakland Zoo to make sure they had all their bears.


Zoo Representative:  Huh?


Zoo Representative:  Yah, um, why again?


Zoo Representative:  You know it's hunting season, right?

Reporter:  BLACK BEARS!  AGH!

Zoo Representative:  The Oakland Zoo only has Borneo Sun bears, sir.  We don't have any black bears.


Zoo Representative:  We don't have black bears, sir.


Zoo Representative to colleague:  Norma, please go count the bears.

Norma:  Why?

Reporter:  AGH!

Zoo Representative:  GO COUNT THE FUCKING BEARS!

Needless to say all bears in the Oakland Zoo were present and accounted for.  I can just picture them raising their arms one at a time as the zoo personnel called out the roll...

Zoo personnel:  Bob?

Bob:  Here.

Zoo personnel:  Sheila?

Sheila:  Yup.

Zoo personnel:  Ducky?  ((silence))  Ducky?

Ducky:  here

Zoo personnel:  What's wrong with you, Ducky?  Bob, you can put your arm down now.

Ducky:  nothin

Zoo personnel:  Ducky, did you have anything to do with the dead bear?  Bob, seriously, put your arm down.

Ducky:  ((silence))

Sheila:  Ducky ordered the hit.

Zoo personnel:  Ducky???

Ducky:  Shut the fuck up, Sheila!  Man, dude was an ASSHOLE!  Owed me MONEY.  DUMPED my sister.  Fuckah DESERVED what was coming.  He's TACO meat now, man!

That's one theory at least.

Frankly, my own personal opinion is that the poor thing offed himself after having to watch hours and hours of Meg Whitman / Jerry Brown ads for the California governor's race.  Lost his will to live.

I understand completely.

Friday, September 24, 2010

San Jose Airport Security - 5, Jane - 0

I'm going to vent for a moment and then I promise to maybe shut the fuck up about this for awhile.

Let me start by saying that I'm not an overly sensitive person.  I usually roll with things pretty well.  I don't get upset very often.  As a single mom, I've learned to be pretty tough.

But today, Friday, September 24, 2010, I admit complete and total defeat to the San Jose Airport TSA.

Since the unveiling of the new security equipment at SJC in June, I have passed through their basic security scanners 5 times.

And 5 times I have been subjected to a full-body pat-down.

Today, I went to the airport totally metal, no jewelry, no belt, no watch, NO BRA.  Yoga pants and a tank top, baby!  There was NO chance that I was going to have to endure the pat-down.

The Princess and I waited in the security line for a good 30 minutes, made it past the boarding pass checker, and then waited another 5 minutes or so to load everything in the bins to pass through the scanners.

Only today, I was greeted by one of the new full-body backscatter scanners.  People, these things which have until now been just a vague future impediment - are now operational and way way WAY creepy.

For those of you who aren't familiar with our newest weapon in the war on scary underwear and exploding mascara, here's how this works.

You stand between what looks like two large blue refrigerator-size boxes, hold up your arms and freeze.  A x-ray type scanner takes a full-body (essentially naked) picture of you.  The image is reviewed by a TSA agent in another room who pinky-swears not to make a copy or take a picture of it with his or her phone and post it on Facebook.  Once the image is approved, the hidden TSA agent radios the TSA agent in front of you with the "go" or "pat the fucker down" signal.

The whole process takes a few minutes, holds up the entire security line, is completely and totally demoralizing...

...and, today, ended in a pat-down anyway.  Even though I had on me no metal, no jewelry, no belt, no watch, no bra.

So somebody I'll never see or meet saw me bare-ass naked today AND I got patted down anyway.  Without - I might add - notice or permission.  The TSA woman just moved in and started working me over.

I hate it.

I get that we need to have security to protect us from scary things.  I get it.

I know that TSA says that the full-body scanners are "optional".  But their definition of "optional" is full-body pictures or full-body pat-down.  I'm not sure which is worse.  The "option" is printed in tiny print on signs in the security area.  These signs also provide you an example of the image that the scanner takes....which is detailed enough to show if you need to lose a few pounds and are hiding it under a big sweatshirt, if you are Team Tampon or Team Maxipad, or - for the boys - if your penis is playing scared turtle.

For the record, this is not me

I've also heard anecdotally that TSA seriously frowns on passengers opting out of the scanners and treats those passengers to aggressive full-body pat-downs.  I don't know what an "aggressive" full-body pat-down entails, but I've had the regular kind and it isn't much fun.

So you submit and hope like hell that the TSA agent that you can't see is actually a decent, respectful human being, who is definitely not making copies of these naked pictures of you and your daughter so that he use them to spank the monkey in his basement later.

When these controversial scanners were first introduced by TSA, I remember thinking that it wasn't really a big deal.  Whatever.

But it is a big deal.  Maybe it doesn't bother everyone.  Maybe it's because I'm a female that it bothers me so much.  I do know, without a doubt, that the actual experience is completely and utterly humiliating.

I wish that I could avoid it by booking my flights out of one of the other two area airports in the Bay Area, but it is estimated that there will be 500 of these damn things operational in airports across the country in the next few years.  There's no getting around the future.  It seems that the future is 1984.

Big Brother is here and probably judging your muffin-top and penis size.

Just sayin.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Since we're talking about boobs and flying...

And we really were.  Awesome, right?

I was in Philadelphia over Labor Day weekend.  In order for me to get home in time to meet the Princess's flight from Portland, I had to leave pretty early in the morning on Monday.  So I booked an 8 AM flight out of Philly, which left me with more than enough time to get back to San Francisco.

Of course, since I had to leave so early, it didn't make any sense to actually - you know - sleep, so the Boy and I spent Sunday night in Atlantic City.  And when I say "spent Sunday night" I don't actually mean booked a room and slept.  I mean we played craps, had dinner, drove go-carts, played skeeball and walked around aimlessly until about 3 in the morning.  The Boy even won a pig/cow thing for me by throwing darts at balloons as hard as humanly possible.  I was glad to see that all those years of training had finally paid off.

I had never been to AC.  It's fun, in a "I really don't want to come here a lot but it's kind of entertaining once in a while" kind of way.

Pig/Cow came to dinner with us at Buddakan

The Boy took this picture.  And since he's not here to defend himself, I can tell you that I totally kicked his ass and lapped him at least once.

Caesar's was a little excited about Boardwalk Empire

We also saw the best sign EVER on an ATM in Caesar's that said "We're sorry, this game is out of order".  I wanted so badly to take a picture of it, but I was afraid that if I took a picture inside of the actual casino, the cast of the Sopranos would come out of nowhere and kick my ass.

We drove back to Philly, I picked up my stuff and went to the airport.

And it was EARLY.  And I was tired.  I dragged my tired ass through security (without setting off the scanners...go figure) and went in search of some breakfast.

I found a Le Petit Bistro, ordered my food and got in line to pay.

You know how when somebody breaches your personal space, your radar goes off and you shift your position to put more space between yourself and the offender?  This is exactly what happened to me in line.  I felt a woman move right up - and I mean RIGHT UP - behind me.  So I moved forward as much as I could without invading the space of the person in front of me.

And then she moved forward too.  She's yelling to her husband across the room, grabbing drinks, reaching around me for silverware...all of it IN MY SPACE.

Now I'm irritated.

I move up as far as I can to the cashier to pay.

The cashier hands me my breakfast and my change.  I can once again feel this woman inching closer.  I turn slightly to put my change in my purse and I can actually feel this woman's boobs IN MY BACK.
At this point, I'm not just irritated - I'm pissed.

Me:  Lady, BACK OFF!

Lady:  What?!  I don't touch you.

Me:  Lady, you imprinted your boobs in my back.  I can tell you your bra size.

Lady:  ((huffy silence))

Thankfully, she wasn't on my flight.

And I'm still not sure if I should feel amused or violated.  Or maybe both.

Regardless, I have decided that (1) I definitely need a break from the general population; and (2) on future flights I need to wear the sharpest Madonna-like bra possible in order to properly defend myself from this situation in the future.

It might even be worth setting off the security scanners.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

TSA considers my bra a threat to national security.

Flying sucks.

I know this is not any kind of earth-shattering revelation, but it seems to have sunk to new levels of depravity and humiliation.

And sometimes you don't even have to actually fly.

Every other weekend or so, the Princess flies to Portland to visit her father.  Since the Princess is 11 and in order for her to be able to fly on her own without an adult, I have to pay a super-special fee to the airline of somewhere between $25 and $100 - depending on the airline - each way.  This extra fee is very important and compensates the airline for....


Actually I'm not sure what this fee is for.  Maybe the extra pat on the head from the gate agent?  Frankly, I think the airlines find it somewhat comparable to checking a heavy bag....they put a sticker on her and everything.

Regardless, because she's a minor, I'm allowed to take her through security to her gate and wait there until takeoff.

Lately, she's been flying out of San Jose because the rates to Portland are slightly less expensive.  The San Jose airport is very cool and mod and screams "I'm the Silicon Valley airport, bitches!"  It is also in the process of a massive remodel, which has included the purchase of new high-tech security scanning equipment that I'm pretty sure can see what I had for lunch.

Everybody needs a nemesis, right?  The San Jose airport security scanners are my nemesis.

EVERY TIME I walk through these damn things, I set off the alarm.  EVERY TIME.

Now, I'm a pretty seasoned traveler.  I know the security drill inside and out.  Laptop out.  Liquids in baggie out.  Belt off.  Scarf off.  Shoes off.

I usually stick with my "safe outfit" when I know I have to face security in any airport...cotton cargo pants (with no metal rivets), t-shirt, wrap, ballet flats.  All comfy and metal-free.

But every time I walk through the damn security scanning machine at San Jose I set off the alarm and am then treated to a super-special pat down that includes what is essentially a breast exam by a TSA agent in front of a large crowd.  It's so great.

I've come to the conclusion that it must be the underwire in my bra that is setting the damn thing off.  So each time, I try a different bra.  Each time I am hopeful that THIS is the bra that TSA will finally concede is not threatening to national security.

This last time, I kinda lost my shit.  I was wearing metal-free sweatpants, a tank top, simple bra with thin underwire and socks.  I intentionally broke every fashion rule in the book JUST so I wouldn't set off the damn scanner.  I was ready.  I was pumped.  There was NO way any beeper was going to go off.

So I sent my daughter through the scanner first.  Nothing.  Good to go.  Whew.

And then I followed her.




Me: I have NOTHING on me to set this off?  Do I look like I have metal on me????

TSA: Ma'am, do you have an implant?

Me:  What?  It's my bra.  I'm telling you it's my bra.  It's got to be my bra.  I like nice bras and they set off your scanners.  Please don't make me go through the pat down.

TSA:  Please step over to the screening area, ma'am.

Meanwhile, my daughter, who has witnessed this interaction a few dozen times already, is rolling her eyes and trying to pull half a dozen things off the security belt by herself.

Me:  My daughter needs help.  Can I help her get our stuff?

TSA: You can't touch your things.  Sorry.

Me: Fuck.

They then proceed to once again feel me up in front of a large crowd.

Me:  I haven't been to my OB/GYN in awhile.  Do they feel healthy to you?

TSA:  I'm sorry about this, ma'am.

Me:  They're nice, right?


TSA:  It must be your bra, ma'am.

Me:  Ya think?  Now can you please explain to me how I can wear a bra and NOT set off your scanners?

TSA:  I don't know, ma'am.

Me:  Should I take my bra off in line?  Put it in a container with my shoes?  

TSA:  You can go collect your things now.

It's here where I decide this is a battle I'm never going to win and leave in a huff.

This whole series of events has now left me in mortal fear at the security checkpoint at every other airport.  I break into a sweat at about the same time I'm putting my shoes in the bin.  I hold my breath and pass through the scanner.  AND IT NEVER GOES OFF.

The Princess flies out of San Jose again next weekend.  I swear I'm going to reach underneath my shirt while in the security line and do the under-the-shirt bra removal.  Set the girls free and sail through security.

There's no rule against that, right?

How come Lady Gaga doesn't have to put up with this shit?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Forgive me, San Francisco...

Everybody knows that when you live in an area that attracts tourists, that you never EVER go to those places where tourists congregate.  Ever.

I grew up in northeastern Ohio and never once visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or the Football Hall of Fame.  Ohio is evidently very good at "halls of fame", but not much else.  That's really all Ohio has.  Oh, yes, and Amish places.  But I only went to see Amish stuff when out-of-town family members visited and my parents threatened me with bodily harm if I didn't shut up and show proper awe and appreciation in front of our guests for the dozen or so Amish cheese factories that I was forced to endure on any given trip.

So when my brother called to ask me if he and my niece could come out to California and stay with me for a week to "see the sights", I knew I was fucked.

As a current resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, I have intentionally avoided many of the most well-known attractions in the area.  Don't get me wrong...I'll admit freely that I've caved on a few.  You try living in San Francisco with a child and NOT take a ride on the cable cars.  I dare you.

However, I have gazed across the bay at Alcatraz hundreds of times and never felt the slightest interest in joining the herds of tourists who make the pilgrimage to the Rock.

But my brother wanted to see Alcatraz.  He's from Ohio and technically a tourist, so he's allowed.

I'm a resident.  Visiting Alcatraz is most definitely against the "code of residents".


I wanted to be a good sister and aunt and host though, so I caved, loaded my houseguests and the Princess in the car and headed to the pier to catch a ferry to Alcatraz.

For breaking the code, I fully expected the ferry to sink or for Clint Eastwood to pull me into a cell and take me from behind (oh, wait, that one isn't necessarily a bad thing), but it was uneventful and moderately entertaining.

So strapping Clint Eastwood to my body under a large coat and impersonating a pregnant woman would be frowned upon?

You can't just "take the tour".  You have to "live the tour", right?  I wore a stripped scarf for costume authenticity.

Yah, yah...there's pretty scenery too.  I tried to blend in by asking my fellow tourists what large beautiful city this was in a non-specific European accent.

I inevitably had to pay the karmic price for breaking the resident code.  I came back from Alcatraz to a big fat ticket on my car for parking in a private lot illegally.  Evidently, the dude that I paid $20 to in order to park my car wasn't actually technically "employed" by the lot and walked away with a nice crisp $20 bill.  

(For the record, I argued with the company that owned the lot and made the - I think - valid point that they should really do a better job of monitoring their lots in order to prevent this type of fraud.  No response.  I paid the fine.  CENTRAL PARKING CAN SUCK MY ASS!  I may start off every posting from now on with CENTRAL PARKING CAN SUCK MY ASS!)

I feel better now.

Anyway.  I had already tempted fate and lost so I figured that I had nothing else to lose and volunteered to take my guests to the mother of all Northern California tourist spots....Monterey.  Home of wildlife, beaches, golf courses, and shameless John Steinbeck souvenirs. 

If you follow the random goings-on in Northern California, you would know that the famous sea lions of San Francisco's Pier 39 up and left for the most part a few months ago.  They were predominantly male and I suspect that they were just kinda pissed off that their marriages had been revoked by Prop 8 so they deserted in protest.  Just a theory.  

Nobody really knew where these proud gay sea lions went.

Well, I found them!  In Monterey, baby!

Proud gay sea lion.

Proud gay sea lion pack (or herd or flock or gaggle or swarm or something) in Monterey.  But, seriously, no proud gay anything should smell this bad.  Can nobody quietly slip them some Axe Body Spray and a breath mint?

So, forgive me, San Francisco.  I have sinned and broken the code...but I paid $20 to the universe and found your damn sea lions.

We're even.

"Fuck you, Jane.  I smell fabulous!"

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I have a note from my mom...

Actually I don't have anything that good as an excuse for my absence.  It has more to do with surgery / bad head cold / single-parenting an 11-year old / travel / and back-to-school.

Yah.  That's about it.

More posts coming very soon.  Thanks for not leaving me.

And thanks to Candice for poking the body to make sure it wasn't cold.