Friday, June 18, 2010

Crazy Times

I've been on travel again; this time to Texas. I would like to take this opportunity to say that the people who design the roads in Texas must be so high on crack that they contaminate every one around them with their toxic stupidity.

When navigating a Texas highway where you are not intimately familiar, you can count on the fact that by the time you see the sign that you are looking for in order to find your way about, if the county even bothered to put one up in the first place, it will be either too small to see until you are ten feet from it, or it will be so perplexed with little road maps and such that you won't be able to read it. Also, it will probably be white instead of the traditional green, as Texas loves to distinguish itself from the rest of the union, and just as surely as the sun rises in the East, the damn thing will not reflect the light from your headlights, so as to make it impossible to see in the dark. There is also the matter of the sign being on the opposite side of the road where you need to turn. Every time.

And while I'm on the subject of street signs, I would like to give a shout out to Sea World to perhaps install a few so that people not from the area may actually find this establishment without driving around in the middle of nowhere looking for the place. You would think that this all common sense, but I can assure you that once you get off the highway, the only way you will find Sea World is if you happen upon it by accident. The shark display is fantastic, by the way.

A couple years back, I was traveling so much that I spent a good third of every month on the road somewhere, or in the air. I'll tell ya, I'd rather drive ten hours in a rental car than go through one security checkpoint at an airport. The whole process is designed to be as humiliating as possible, and I can't see at all where it provides any security whatsoever. TSA is too busy feeling up grandmas and soccer moms to catch Al-Qaeda, or their laughing at the ding-dongs that they get to see with their fancy new scanners. I have to be on a list somewhere as I have to go through one of those "random" machines every time I fly.

If you haven't flown in awhile, it doesn't matter one bit if you have the metal detector friendly shoes or belt any more. Your shoes have to come off, period. I decided this time to use one of 5.11's tactical belts with the polymer buckle, thinking that I could spare myself the part of removing my belt, but pretty boy TSA man with his $90 shiny thing on his shoulder though it best to go ahead and make me remove it anyways so he could give me a fondling, even after I went through the peeping tom machine so the voyeurs could get a good look at my junk.

As far as they have gone with this theater security in airports, I consider those checkpoint people to be less than human, to the point where I would sooner feed my sandwich to a fat puppy than a starving TSA agent. And that goes for the customs people too. If you want to get strip searched by those perverts several times, just go through customs in uniform. Seriously, they will strip search you every time. I guess enforcing their will on the low hanging fruit is much easier than risking a law suit for stripping the guy in the dishdash.

Since I generally frequent military bases when I travel, I do not take a pistol with me as it would be pointless. This time though, it would have given me peace to have it with me. San Antonio is a rough place; while wandering around on foot, the natives instantly took note of my presence, and I could feel their eyes sizing me up. In every major city in America, there are rough parts of town; the trick is to identify that they are not the place for you to wander through flashing your camera, and skirt around them. Sometimes I blunder into them by accident, and it's never fun.

The one that sticks out the most is when I was circled by teenagers in a car while out on foot in Saint Louis. Ten more minutes and it would have been dark, and my ass would have ended up a bad smell in a dumpster.

These days, I advise travelers to drive to their destination. Get a rental car if you have to. If I travel anywhere on the East coast, it is so much cheaper and faster to get a rental car and drive across four states instead of burning up a day at airports. I haven't had a straight through flight in years, and by the time you get done fiddling with shuttle buses and luggage carousels, you will have burned up most of the day anyways. If you drive though, you miss out on all that "special attention" that TSA loves to give you.
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