Tuesday, January 31, 2006


A friend of mine sent me this article about an American Muslim's reaction to the movie Munich. I think this person has encapsulated a lot of what I and many other American Muslim's feel regarding the Palestinian issue, we are bonded together by a strong faith. Palestine is the one issue I assure you, that ties all Muslims, liberal or conservative, new or old, together, I think below explains, to a large extent, why we are so unified in this one issue.


`Munich,' seen through one Muslim's eyes
by PAMELA K. TAYLOR Religion News Service
As a Muslim, I wasn't sure I wanted to see "Munich" -- after all, it's a
Hollywood movie about tracking down and killing Palestinian terrorists. I
anticipated Hollywood's stereotypical Arabs -- violent, barbaric, subhuman
-- coupled with heroes who are no less violent than the bad guys, but whose
deeds are glorified.
True to my expectations, the film was raw -- I cried through most of it.
Contrary to what I had imagined, though, director Steven Spielberg defies
stereotypes and asks tough questions that it would behoove Americans,
Israelis and Palestinians to ponder.
To be perfectly clear, my heart bleeds for the Palestinian people. They are
my brothers and sisters in faith. But more so, I see they are today's
Cherokee. Today's Shawnee. They are fighting for their homes the same way
that Native Americans fought for their homeland. America acknowledges 150
years after the fact that we did not act very honorably by the Native
Americans. I can't help but think that 150 years from now, Israelis will
find themselves with a terrible angst over the means they used to wrest
Palestinian lands from them.
My heart also bleeds for the Jewish people -- for the Holocaust, for
centuries of anti-Semitism. I can understand their desire for a safe place,
a place where you don't have to wonder what your neighbor might do to you
tomorrow. I can relate to wanting to live in a place where your beliefs and
holidays are not a curiosity.
Back in the 1800s, Native Americans were portrayed as blood-thirsty savages,
but now we see them as a desperate people trying to save their way of life.
Back then, we committed atrocities -- giving them blankets laced with
smallpox germs, committing a massacre at Wounded Knee, signing treaties we
never intended to keep -- and justified it, saying we had to do whatever it
took, that we had to meet violence with equal, if not greater, violence. Now
we look on our behavior with shame.
Today, we see the Palestinians as extremists, terrorists and violent
radicals. Pretty much whatever is done to them is excused because of their
own violence. I wonder if they will someday be seen as a desperate people
trying to save their homes, their way of life by any and all means, and if
our responses will appear as shameful as our treatment of the Native
Americans. I am not saying that killing athletes or bombing pizza parlors
and buses is in any way justifiable, even when you are waging a war. Muslims
need to confront and eradicate terrorism in our ranks.
But, like the movie, I question whether the appropriate response is even
more violence -- whether targeted assassinations, collective punishments,
bulldozing homes and extrajudicial imprisonment can ever offer a solution.
The roots and the endlessness of the cycle of violence -- vengeance upon
vengeance upon vengeance -- portrayed in "Munich" is a reality we rarely get
to hear in the American media. Every act of violence going on in Palestine
and Israel today is justified, on both sides, as a retaliation. They did it
to us -- we have to answer with the same, or worse.
The current cycle of violence and retaliation and more
retaliation, on and on, will never lead to peace; it will just continue with
more and more bloodshed until one side or the other succumbs.
This issue is particularly important for Americans, not only because the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict has widened to become a conflict between
America and Islamic extremists, but also because we are now in the process
of deciding how best to respond to terrorists. If we succumb to the desire
for revenge, if we resort to extralegal measures, are we any better than the
terrorists? "Munich" argues no, we are no better, and I agree.

Monday, January 30, 2006


Back from London - very short trip indeed!

Feeling a little disjointed so this post might sound weird, sorry in advance.

I had an incident on this trip that got me thinking. When coming into London, I was completely harrassed by the British Immigration girl. She was behaving like a prat! What bothered me was that she was a girl like me, a Western raised Indian girl. I have noticed I get the worse behavior, customer service from these girls, people who are closest to me in life experiences. Why is that? Are we not suppose to be sisters? Why are we so antagonistic to each other - when were we conditioned to behave like that? You don't see it in other groups or am I just not noticing? Now-a-days, I go out of my way to avoid having to deal with one of these girls, because I know they are going to be rude to me. Trifling.

Besides, I always get annoyed with the British immigration people who give me a hard time coming into England, I often feel like saying, "hey, hey, hey, see this eagle seal on this passport - that means I'm American - the greatest country in the world. So piss off you wanker, I'm not coming from some war-torn country to mooch off your stupid national healthcare system and see asylum! Besides after what you did to my ancestors in India, why would I want to be a British citizen?!"

Sidenote - Happy Chinese New Year! The Year of the Dog.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Friday This and That

Just a few random thoughts from Virginia Gal....

Why do people enjoy humilating themselves on national television by trying out for American Idol? Come on, some of these people have to know they can't sing. Anyone who brings a prop or dresses funny, I think is just trying to get their fifteen minutes of fame. It was funny the first few seasons, but now it's just tacky and passe, been there done that. (of course my short Indian dad loves these audition episodes, he laughs and laughs).

I am so annoyed with some people at work. As the office clears out, more and more cubicles are going empty, including the nice big one across the hall from me. Since December, when the guy in that room left, I've been using it to say my afternoon prayers. I swear to God if every Tom, Dick and Harry hasn't stepped into that room when I'm praying - crikes - what is that about?! The room sits empty all day, the ONE minute I go in is the one time everybody and their brother-in-law needs to inspect it?!! Sheesh!

So the Danish Royal Family finally had the christening of His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Frederick and Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary's baby (who was born back in October). The baby's name is Christian Valdemar Henri John. I like it! This child is now second in line for the Danish throne (after his dad). Wonder if they are looking for a nice Indian-American girl to be on this kid's staff hmm.....

Steve Colbert is a genius. Watch the Colbert report - he is doing a DEAD-ON impression of Bill O'Reilly (yes I've seen him when flipping channels) - it is hilarious!

Again disappointed by the completely ineffective Democratic leaders in Congress. Seems Alito will get the nod for Supreme Court.

Righty-o, I'm off to London for the weekend, will be back Monday!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Selective Democracy

Just when I think I can't get anymore frustrated by this dingbat Bush administration, I wake up to hear the latest in their absurdity.

It seems overnight, in Palestine, Hamas, a known organization with terrorist links, won the elections. Hamas will now lead the government in Palestine. Note, Hamas WON an ELECTION - which means the people of Palestine voted for them, it was all done using the vehicle of democracy. Hamas did not forced their way or overthrew another body of rule. They won fair and square (unlike some who shall not be mentioned, see 2000 presidential election).

The Bush juanta comes out immediately and says, "we will have nothing to do with a terrorist group." Hey, hey, hey - they might be terrorists, but they won using democracy. The people of Palestine chose them. G.W. and friends have no problems greasing the palms of leaders who have no ties to democracy (see Saudi Arabia, Pakistan) but now suddenly they turn their back on a government that was achieved through the very medium they shout they are protecting.

America and those oh-so patrotic Americans who drive around with yellow ribbons on their cars, claim that we have gone to Iraq to fight for democracy. The definition of democracy is "government exercised either directly by the people or through elected reprsentatives" - Webster's New College Dictionary. Nowhere in that definition is there an approval clause. It's funny in a way, so many right-wing parties are winning elections lately - not just G.W., but in Canada and now in Palestine (Hamas is religiously based miltant group, if that isn't right wing, what is?).

If we are truly fighting for democracy than we have to let it bloom without our constant interference. This means that sometimes the flower that comes out won't be something we find pretty, but we should be happy that it grew using our methods.

With smary Scott McClellan proclaiming that Bush and friends, "will not work with Hamas" he is once again showing the administration's hypocrisy and double standards and the continued ineptness of handling foreign affairs.


sidenote - following up from yesterday's post - British Airways is having a big fare sale! Doing the Virginia Gal calculations (adding taxs and fees), the prices look good - roughly $500-$600 for a roundtrip ticket to various destinations in Europe from various gateways in America. Remember the ticket will be cheaper if your departure and return dates are between Monday-Wednesday, if you leave from an East Coast location (NYC, PHL, BOS, EWR, IAD) and if you stay one Saturday. Tickets must be purchased by February 2, 2006. Travel must be completed by June 30, 2006.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

View from the 23rd Row

First must thank everyone for the birthday wishes - it was so nice and made me feel loved and special. It couldn't have come at a better time! Perhaps for once my birthday horoscope was correct, "You are one of the most lucky and fortunate individuals born under your sign."

And now back to regularly scheduled programming...

Random Kath got her passport a few days ago and is contemplating her first trip abroad. This got me thinking about making summer travel plans. One of the big things I've learned from years of air-traveling, is plan ahead. Timing is everything in buying an air ticket.

Thinking of going to Europe for the summer, buy now! All the carriers will be having sales soon, they want those planes filled before the season even hits.

Where to go to find these sales - either hit the carrier's websites directly or I find Expedia and Travelocity give great deals (plus they let you compare prices). Not finding the price you want, continue checking weekly or even daily if possible, a sale could hit at any time! Keep in mind some carriers don't use these sites (Noteably Southwest). But know this, you will get your cheapest deals on-line - airlines want to do away with telephone reservations.

Also think outside the box, for example, going to London? British Airways might have the fare for $550 from Washington DC but Icelandic Air could have it for $500 out of Baltimore - that's $50 you can spend on yourself. It's all about playing around and looking. That is the beauty of the internet - you can quickly search and find fares. (Also when looking at sales, add another $100 to the listed "sale" price, cause that is what you will pay in taxes and fees!)

One last thing - sign up for as many airline's e-alerts as you can. These weekly newsletters give you a heads-up on sales, future routes (where there are always introductory low prices) and last minute deals. Sometimes you can find a real gem in these notices and it costs you nothing!

Happy hunting!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me!


Today January 24th is Virginia Gal's birthday!! In honor of the day, I thought I'd tell my blog birth story. (I was going to include a photo of myself but this stupid blogspot is acting up, I'm actually writing this post again, it deleted my first draft, urgh!).

It all started after the 2004 presidential elections. I was very depressed over the results, having wanted John Kerry to win. I didn't like GW and felt him and his cronies were going to lead the country in the wrong direction. I couldn't believe this had happened and felt all alone. Knowing my misery, I had a friend who sent me some funny forwards about Bush, Republicans and the stupid people who voted for Bush. In one of those emails, she included a site to cheer me up - http://www.sorryeverybody.com/. I loved it! Here were all these other people who were like me - liberals, open-minded thinkers who couldn't believe that Bush had won, again!

Going through the pages of shots of people apologizing for Bush's win, I came across a photo of a guy who had his blog address splashed across the length of the picture. Having heard about this neat world of blogging but never experienced it and desperately wanting to be around similar-minded people, I thought I'd give this person's site a go. He had voted for Kerry so he couldn't be all bad, no? It was the magnificently fabulous Pax Ramano. The blog was funny, a blend of current events, Hollywood, his daily goings-ons and sometimes political rants. I took to reading it everyday, it always brought a smile to my face. Soon I was a regular, commenting and being included in sing-alongs (more Sound of Music please!).

One day Pax wrote a post about a fellow blogger of his, a friend who had just been given some bad news. Pax asked us readers to visit this chap's blog and give him some love. My heart went out to this blogger who had been told at 30, that he had Parkinson's disease. I couldn't even imagine how hard that could be. Even after giving my sympathies, I started visiting this gentleman's site daily, to check to see how he was doing. Soon, I feel madly in love with Adorable Tony. He and I are so much alike, both love strong Southern men (Anderson Cooper, John Edwards), Buffy the Vampire Slayer and watching the idiosyncrasies of people.

After about eight months of being a regular on both Pax and Tony's sites, Adorable Tony began a campaign to get me a blog. I was hesitant, I'm not that computer saavy and I wasn't sure anyone would want to read what I had to say. Six months later, I'm glad Tony was successful in persuading me to do this. This site has been a great outlet for me to vent, to think outloud or just to ponder deep questions about life at al.

From Pax's site, I have found Lost, Merci, Snicks and Piggy&Tazzy. From Tony I've stumbled ontoMaidink and Brenda and through her Laurie and Divine Calm. From P&T, I've found Belinda. From Laurie, I came across Mizbohemia. PissedoffPencil found me (thanks!) and through him I found Random Kath. Random Kath put me onto London Underground and via that site, I found JoeinVegas. Of course there are also my friends who have started their own blogs, Molly Malone and P- . These are my regular reads. However, I am starting to visit other locations and hope to become part of those cyber families as well.

Thanks to everyone for sharing their lives with me. I have enjoyed reading all the interesting posts that have made me laugh, cry or just nod in agreement. I appreciate you visiting this wacky hypenated American, lifting me up when I'm feeling down, getting outraged on my behalf, laughing at my weird sense of humor....just listening. Thanks for including me in this wonderful world of blogging. I couldn't ask for a better birthday gift.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Die Smooth Jazz Die!

Car-pooling into work this morning, driver had the smooth jazz channel on. I hate smooth jazz! This is not music! It is musak - you know that canned crap they play in elevators or dentists office. It's vile - no beat, no harmony, nothing to sink your teeth into. This is not the classical jazz channel, which plays the good stuff, like "Take Five" or anything by Ella Fitzgerald. No smooth jazz plays Sade and Kenny G, or worse, electronic keyboard verisions of pop songs - shudder.

I don't know how people can listen to this stuff? Why, why, why?? Most of the music on this channel sounds like it is from the 1970's, from some dark lounge with shaggy green carpet and wood panels. It always evokes images of open shirted men who wink and say, "hey baby." Creepy kind of guys who reek of smoke and probably wouldn't pay child support if the need arose.

There is no way to dance to this stuff. I am not against any other music, I like anything that makes you want to move. My CD collection is an ecclectic mix of pop, country, alternative rock, Indian, urban rap, even Latin music. All these things have some life into them, unlike smooth jazz which lies there like a dead worm on the sidewalk. I just don't get it - why listen to something you can't even tap your foot to?

Sidenote - thanks to Ms. Molly Malone who hosted a lovely birthday party for Virginia Gal this past Friday. Much kudos from all of Virginia Gal's friends. A good time was had by all!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Reese Witherspoon

This was the topic I wanted to talk about yesterday, until my so-called friend peev'ed me off (but we won't go into that).

I love Reese Witherspoon. My crush and I were talking about actresses who we thought were pretty (yeah, don't ask how we got on that topic) and I mentioned Reese. When many people think of her they automatically think, "cute." But she is more than that, she is this pretty girl and a strong Southern woman. She is genuine, someone I would have gone to college with - who would have laughed at my weird self-depricating jokes and always said, "hello" to me. We might have sat down and watched Friends together. She would always have a kind word for me and I likewise.

She is sincere and un-fake, openly admitting to going to marriage counseling. She was so honest about it - that maybe her fairy tale life wasn't so fairy tale, I thought that was couragous. Better than so many Hollywood types who babble on about how much in love they are and than six months later getting a divorce.

I'm a fan of Reese Witherspoon because she and I are a bit alike. We have strong work ethics. We are a bit of modern mixed in with tradition (her family is being raised with strict Southern values). We don't mind taking digs at ourselves and never take ourselves too seriously. I love when people call me cute. Everyone calls her cute.

I so hope she wins the Oscar this year - it will be a victory for petite, cute, cheery, humorous, honest, hard-working girls around the world!


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bad Taste in my Mouth

I was going to post on Reese Witherspoon, who I love, but will save that for later.

I just opened my email and read a note from a so-called friend in NYC. It's the same guy who went off on me a few weeks ago about how bad Western-raised Indian girls are - how we are evil etc etc.

Well, I thought he was getting better but I was so wrong. After this weekend, when I had a bad hair day and saw my crush, I asked this friend would he lose interest in a girl if he saw her with bad hair. His answer.....yes. Also, the girl should send a picture looking her best to make up for this faux pax.

What the hell?!! Are you that superficial?!! Are you seriously telling me if a girl has ONE bad hair day - you would drop her? Oh my God - are you interested in her to be a trophy or for long term, someone good to raise your children and grow old with?

I felt like emailing him back and saying, "I'm sorry, but if that is seriously your thinking, that a bad hair day is enough to lose interest, than you do need to re-evaluate why you are not getting married. What is important to you? Why are you getting married? Do you want a partner or a pretty servant?

I suppose to my thinking, if you really like me, you'll like me for good days and bad, cause trust me I don't wake up looking like a supermodel (I wish!). You'll like me because I'm a nice person, because I have a good sense of humor, because I care about my fellow humans, because I don't take myself too seriously, because I root for the under-dog - not because at 28, I'm a pretty face (ugh, dummy you do know that people age, are you going to drop my ass for a younger model when I start to get wrinkles?).

So now I've started the day angered - great...just great.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

View From the 23rd Row

Hubs and hub cities. If you fly domestically in the US, hubs are a way of life. Most major domestic carriers use hubs. Hubs are exactly as they sound, a place where the air carrier funnels in all these flights from various locations and than flies back out - like a bicycle spoke (hence you'll hear about a hub and spoke system). Hubs are a way of filling up planes and increasing revenue or keeping expenses down, whichever way you look at.

If you are flying, particularly in America, it is important to know your hub cities. Tickets tend to be cheaper from these locations, more availability of flights arise from these areas and my favorite, worst customer service comes from these sites. Beats me why this is (poor customer service in a hub city) perhaps because you are the top dog you feel no need to work on being nice? All I know is that many of my experiences in hub cities have not been as pleasant as remote locations.

Hub cities usually have the long delays, because they are so jammed with flights coming in. Hubs can be very inconvenient for the customer, making you make a connection. Hub airports are bigger (miles and miles of gates) and more elaborate (shopping malls, fancy restaurants). Hub airports are where you will often change carriers, with some big name international carrier putting you into that city and than some smaller American carrier taking you home.

So without further adieu here is a list of some air carriers and some their hub cities (to find a complete list, check out the airline's respective website):
American - Chicago O'Hare (ORD) , Dallas-Forth Worth (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA) and I believe Boston (BOS) and New York City (JFK).
Continential - Newark (EWR), Houston (IAH).
United - Washington Dulles (IAD), Chicago O'Hare (ORD), San Francisco (SFO), Denver (DEN), New York City (JFK).
Delta - Atlanta (ATL), Salt Lake City (SLC), Cincinnati (CVG).
Northwest - Detroit (DET), Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), Memphis (MEM).
US Airways - Philadelphia (PHL), Charlotte (CLT), Las Vegas (LAS), Phoenix (PHX), Pittsburgh (PIT).
AirTran - Atlanta (ATL).
Alaska Airways - Seattle (SEA).
International (very partial list).
Air Canada - Toronto (YYZ), Montreal (YUL).
British Airways - London Heathrow (LHR).
United Arab Emirates - Dubai (DXB).
Air France - Paris (CDG).
Alitalia - Rome (FCO).
Lufthansa - Franfurt (FRA), Munich (MUC).
SAS - Copenhagen (CPH).
ANA - Tokyo (NRT).
Air New Zealand - Auckland (AKL).
Quantas - Sydney (SYD).
Austrian - Vienna (VIE).
KLM - Amesterdam (AMS).
Olympic Airways - Athens (ATH)
South African Airways - Johannesburg (JNB)

Sidenote - My crush flies out of London today, leaving for good. Not sure when I will see him again, if ever. Sigh, I'm depressed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Playaa's, Love and London

I'm back from London - it was indeed a short trip, two days. Nearly didn't even make it out as my sister and I's connecting flight domestically (I don't live non-descript airline's hub city) was pretty full. But London we did go and it was fun!

Saturday night we hung out with some very good friends who are from America. Four American girls chilling in Southhall (Little India), laughing and joking, a good time was had by all.

The trip did have its adventures - namely the guy I like. I had emailed him earlier in the week to say I was coming but didn't hear anything from him. So on Sunday morning when my sister and I were sipping hot chocolates at Starbucks (yes Starbucks in London, so sue me for going to something I'm comfortable with), I gave this guy a call and got his voicemail. I figured he was out traveling and not in London. I was not meant to see him this weekend. My sister and I went on our merry way, shopping and joking and just being silly in London. We were to go out to one of my friend's homes later in the afternoon, around between 2 or 4pm. At 2:30 we started heading out on Oxford street, when we passed Selfridges and I told my sister, "we should go in." That took an hour. Than my sister wanted to stop at some antique store she liked in Notting Hill, so we head out that way. It was there that my guy called. He was in town, packing up to leave, he wasn't at work (why he didn't get my note), his friend was with him and why don't we met up for coffee. Of course I said, "yes."

Him and his friend and me and my sister ended up spending the whole evening together. It was fun and boy did I get to learn a lot about this guy from his friend. Long story short, he is a player of the highest order. He and I are friends which is why I think he doesn't, "play" me. But why do I have to have affection for him? My head knows this can come to no good but my emotions don't follow suit. How does one tame a player? Is that even possible? I'm so not sophisticated and game playing that I don't think I should even bother. Besides I looked so average this weekend (barely any makeup, hair frizzing a little bit), he probably has lost all interest in me (I get the impression he only likes a pretty girl when she is seeing someone else). What is wrong with me?!

I do think it was providence, divine intervention that I saw him this weekend, all these last minute stops coming up postponing my visit with my other friends. Especially since this is his last in England.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Friday Shout Out and More!

My fabulously wonderful friend, Molly Malone has started up a blog that you must go visit! Redheadedrover.blogspot.com is a quirky mix of politics, family, life etc. Molly is a natural comedian and it comes out in her writing, particularly to her one imaginary fan, Niamh, in Shopshire, England. Browse at your leisure, you won't be sorry you stopped by!

United States Figure Skating Championships are on - this is very big! These championships are essentially Olympic trials for Torino. Already some big upsets. One of the girl favorites, Alissa Czeiny, fell twice in the short program, now stands in fifth and well, is a long shot to go. That is a shame, she is a pretty skater but America's women's program is too deep, they won't send her without a two top finish here. 2002 Bronze medalist Timothy Gabel might not be going either, he landed in fifth also. But he has been flaky since the last Olympics so this comes as no surprise. Finally the pair team of Inoue and Baldwin are all the way down in fourth and with America only being able to send two pairs teams, this does not bode well. However, in their case I could see the USFSA giving them the second slot - just cause international Inoue and Baldwin are America's best hopes for a top ten finish. All very fascinating for a figure skating fan.

Saw on the news that some punks in Ft. Lauderdale beat up (with bats) three homeless people. I started to cry. How could anyone do that? Homeless people are the bottom of society, the most defenseless, many suffering severe mental health problems. Beating on them (one died) is like kicking a puppy, reprehensible. Where is our morality? What kind of society are we creating that these, looked like affluent white kids, would feel a need to do this, to physically harm another human being, for what gain? What do these poor people have in their lives already anyway? Why would you hurt them further? oh great, I'm starting to tear up again.

Right, I'm off to London for the weekend - see y'all Tuesday!

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.
Martin Luther King Jr., "Strength to Love"

Thursday, January 12, 2006


I've been tagged by everyone's favorite Swede, Pissed Off Pencil!

I'm to write five weird things about me (this shouldn't be hard, I'm self titled weirdo).

1. I love to sing LOUDLY, in the car to whatever music I'm playing. I'm a freaking American Idol when behind the wheel - its beautiful.

2. I'm still a little afraid of the bathrooms on a plane. As a kid I avoided the bathroom doors that you had to push in and even today, given the opportunity, I'll go for the bathroom with a knob over the push door. Plus the flush scares me, I'm always afraid that it is going to suck the whole seat out, leaving this big gaping hole.

3. I love to eat ice. Anywhere, anytime, I can chomp away. I think this is because I'm iron deficient. For this past holidays a friend got me the best gift, an ice shaver!

4. I wear Spongebob Squarepants fuzzy slippers around the house and I'm 28. Aaaaand we wonder why I'm not married : )

5. I get obsessed if the library claims I didn't return a book but I did. This has happened to me three times and each time I become a regular Sherlock Holmes, trying to track down where my book went, because I knew I had returned it. Always it turns up on the shelf, someone forgot to re-check it in. I swear I think someone at the library has it in from me, trying to get me in trouble.

You're suppose to tag five people, but I'm only tagging three, Lost, Merci and Laurie, cause they haven't updated their blogs in a bit, or at least the last time I checked.

sidenote - this morning on the radio they were doing a game show bit and they asked the 20-something girl contestant, "this man's wife was in tears yesterday after he was being grilled by the Senate" and the girl had no idea who the person was. Geez, how sad is that? Where does she live, under a rock? Its only been in the news for the past five or six days. What does this say about our society? I bet if they had asked her who Jennifer Aniston is dating, she would have known. Sad, sad, sad.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

View From the 23rd Row

Independence Air

Last week low-cost carrier Independence Air closed its doors. Why does an airline shut down? In a nutshell, costs. The expenses outweigh the revenue. But how can that be when air tickets are not that cheap? It in this business environment it is relatively simple - everything costs more, but the price of the seat goes down. Fuel prices alone can cripple an airline.

I think in Independence Air's case it was probably a case of everything costing more - labor, fuel, slots at Washington Dulles airport. And though their flights were mostly full, people can't understand why they went under. Again, simple math, if you pay say $2,000 to fill up the plane gas tank, another $10,000 for the crew (including gate to gate agents and bag handlers and benefits for everyone), another $2,000 for misc. costs (fees, taxes, cleaning etc), you now have to have the passengers cover the cost. So let's say the plane seats 50 at an average ticket price of $150, you only make $7,500 - that is almost $7,000 short! Keep doing that for flight after flight and you got yourself a problem.

"But Southwest does that and they are in the black?" Ahh the Southwest factor - three big things keeping Southwest floating despite their insanely low ticket prices. A) low labor costs, they don't pay their employees the standard rate for the airline industry, they pay lower. B) They fuel hedged back in the 1990's, so they are paying lower costs on oil per barrel cost (very smart move!). C) they fly out of smaller airports, where there is going to be less cost involved, gates are not as expensive etc.

The airline industry is glamourous and many a businessman has tried to get into the party. It is easy to start an airline, almost laughably easy but as Branoff, Pan-Am, Eastern, TWA and now Independence Air have proven, making an airline successful is no joke.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Eid Mubarak!

Today is Eid ul-Adha. I woke this morning and went to Eid prayers and afterwards celebrated with family and friends over lunch at a family friend's house. Tonight will call my cousins and far-flung friends and wish them blessings of Eid.

What is Eid ul-Adha you ask? From Wikipedia (who says it better than I do), "Eid ul-Adha is celebrated by Muslims worldwide as a commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son for God. Muslims who can afford to do so sacrifice domestic animals, usually sheep, as a symbol of Ibrahim's sacrifice; this sacrifice is called "Qurbani." The meat is distributed amongst their neighbors, relatives, and the poor and hungry. Eid ul-Adha is after Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia."

Eid Mubarak!

Monday, January 09, 2006


Side note - Didn't travel this weekend - surprisingly relaxing, caught up on sleep and chores and hung out with good friends who are like sisters (next time no horror movie watching though, I'm still scared!).

Flipping television channels recently and stopped on Access Hollywood whose main storyline was, "Why Lindsey Lohan is in a hospital." Egads, why do I care?! Really is there nothing more important in the world than following the lives of these shallow vapid people who occupy Hollywood? What is wrong with me that I get sucked into "are Tom and Katie still a couple?" WHO CARE'S??? Why do we follow these things with such interest? My God you can't watch VHI anymore without being inundated (sp) with celebrities. I particulary enjoy hating, "The Good Life of so and so" which proceeds to make us feel bad about our lives because we don't have four birthday parties in four different cities and spend $500 for weekly facials a la Paris Hilton (why is she famous btw?). I'm just befuddled and amazed by our celebrity culture. What are we teaching children by idolizing these weirdos (oh come on you know celebrities are a little off their rocker, heck look at Renee Zellwegger, you can tell she is a loose cannon, crazy)? These people's lives are one big indulgence to themselves, who adhere to their own moral code. Take for instance the self lovefest that is the Oscars, Lord what isn't a bigger example of the
egotistical society that is celebreality?

Maybe its just as I get older, I can see these Hollywood types for what they really are, fakers, Wizard of Oz's who don't want us to look behind the screen. And yet people follow these celebrities, people so wholy unrelated to their lives, like God's, why?

At the same time I hate those snobby people who, when you are trying to make conversation at say like a dinner party and bring what I consider the safe topic of Hollywood gossip, reply with a "I'm so busy I don't have time for that" or the equally elitist "I don't care about those things" as if they are some how above it - puhlease! They are just losers who don't keep up with current events.

Another issue where I'm a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde - I just don't get our celebreality culture.

Friday, January 06, 2006

This and That

Thanks to everyone for their comments yesterday - it helps to know that I'm not crazy and Western girls are not bad. I was/am still very upset by my friend's angry reaction and wonder if all Western Muslim guys think the same way - how does this bode for my future than?

Sad, sad week for many in America, I feel for those miner families in WV, my grandfather, uncle and his family live in WV. Contrary to Hollywood myth, people from WV are generally down to earth, friendly and welcoming (not hood-wearing racists). My grandfather is often saying antagonizing Anti-Bush things and so far he hasn't been visited by any gray men. Also the poor employees of Independence Air, I feel for them (will comment more next week) - how's that for the dummy prize ("hey you've spent all your money on Christmas, now you're out of a job! Dada dada da da").

Washington DC's Metro (subway) system is looking for a new voice to say "Doors closing" etc - you can send in your audition tape to WAMATA (I'm talking to you Molly Malone!). Someone was saying the other day that they should change the announcements to be more real i.e. instead of "Doors closing" they should say "doors are closing, either get in or out, moving a couple of inches forward isn't working, haul your ass!" I like the idea of reality announcements.

Continued outrage over the corruption by not only the Bush administration but by some Republicans in Congress has me reading more and more of ms. Molly Ivins - she is a hoot, check her out!

Major ice skating news (yes I'm totally into figure skating) - Michelle Kwan is NOT competing at Nationals. This means for her to get a berth on the Olympic team she will have to be chosen by the United States Figure Skating Association and bump one of the other girls. I have no doubt this will happen, she still has a better chance at medaling than some of the younger girls. Besides Michelle is the darling of the USFSA. I love Michelle's skating and I think she was robbed in 1998 by that twit Tara Lipinski, but honestly she is a very long shot to win the gold, she hasn't competed internationally in a long time and she came in 4th last year at Worlds. It would be a great story if she did though. http://www.usfsa.org/
Also ice dancer Tanith Belbin got her American citizenship so her team can compete in Torino - this is huge! Belbin and Ben Agosto are one of the top three teams in the world, they have a great chance of bringing home a medal to America, plus really shaking up the ice dancing competition (what a change from 2002, which was predictable to the point of boring). I'm excited, I love watching Belbin and Agosto! Now I just hope my Chinese team of Shen and Zhao get better in time to get to Torino and beat the good but so dull Russians in pairs. Closer to the Olympic's, I Virginia Gal, an avowed figure skating fan, shall give my predictions.

Have a good weekend!
From the television show Wings
Brian Hackett: [after a suggestion is made to make s'mores] No, I hate s'mores!
Joe: How could you hate s'mores?
Brian Hackett: Because that's the stupidest name for a food, like "It's so good, I want s-more," Those are so stupid, they should be called stupids!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Double Standards

Two days ago I found out from a friend that he had secretly been engaged and was planning on getting married soon. The reason he reveled all of this was because, unfortunately, the engagment was called off abrupty by the girl around the New Year holiday.

My friend is from Pakistan (only being in America for roughly 13 years) and the girl in question was like me, first generation child of Indian parents, a Western-raised Pakistani girl. I expressed my sympathies to this friend when I heard about what had happened, I think any normal human being would do that no?

He wrote back with this long diatribite about how horrible all Western raised Pakistani/Indian girls are - how we are not true Muslims cause we don't follow the rules and stay in our place per Islamic law, we are indecisive, how we want a career and don't want to stay at home and raise families, we are always unhappy. He also than said "I'm going back to Pakistan to get married," because girls there are young, pretty, innocent and will be happy with any guy, especially one who can bring them to America, where they will have a better life."

I am so tired of hearing these stupid arguments from stupid Muslim Indian/Pakistani men. Women, people, are not so black and white. We Western girls are not the spawn of Satan and the girls back home are not all Stepford wives. It is a double standard that these guys hold for us Western girls, they want us to be everything, smart, pretty, religious, funny, heart-warming, never get mad, perfectly cultured but they themselves don't need to be any of the above. We should just be grateful that these mini-Gods, these men, deemed to allow us in their presence (can you tell I'm pissed?!). And when they go back home, they will pick the first girl they meet, she doesn't have to have all these standards that we Western girls must meet just because she is from back home (where getting married is a career sport).

I'm writing all of this because I didn't say anything to my friend. I know he is hurting and wants to lash out at anyone and anything and if I don't vent here, I'm prone to deck my friend the first time I see him, or worse say to him, "hey Brad Pitt, why don't you look at yourself, maybe there is something wrong with you?! What makes you think you are such a damn good catch that you need to be so picky?! Do you follow everything according to Islam and your role as a man?"

He's my friend but right now I'm hoping he does back home and get some girl who cleans his clock (and is fat and ugly to boot!).

Right, glad to get that off my chest - I'm going to go back to my desk now and eat children and spread the plague, per my Western girl upbringing.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

View from the 23rd Row

Starting today, till the end of my tenure with non-descript airline, I shall begin a weekly column of my advice, tips, anecdotes, gossip and general rantings about the world of commerical aviation.

I love working for an airline, a job I've wanted since I can remember - the one outstanding perk of free flight benefits makes up for all the crap associated with a desk job (a la Dilbert). Besides which, I've always had a passion for flying, starting when I was eight and went with my family to India. Everything to do with airlines excite's me - airports with busy people rushing here and there (even now when I'm depressed, I'll go to the airport and just watch the planes). Its neat to think of all the places people are going and coming from. I adore the rush of when the plane takes off, speeding down the runway, the rise in your stomach as you leave ground. I love the feeling of authority as one walks with assurance down the jetway to the plane or vice versa. I always feel cool when I do that :) Watching the luggage wheels turn, determining the fate of the passengers - if their bag comes the experience was good, if not, it was bad, very bad.

Therefore, I am now going to impart all of this zeal in my blog - really who better than a frequent flier - airline employee to provide airline and/or flying advice, no?

So for the first post, I'm suggesting a primer, a good book to read about how airplanes work, the safety standards behind commercial aviation and some of the basic mechanics about the airline industry.

Ask the Pilot by Patrick Smith. I just finished it and found it very informative, relatively easy to read, short and only biased in certain areas (very pro-pilot, go figure as it was written by a pilot).


Check it out and enjoy - more from the 23rd row next week!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Missing Monday

Case Type: Endangered Runaway

DOB: May 29, 1991 Sex: Female
Missing Date: Oct 17, 2005
Race: Biracial Age Now: 14
Height: 5'6" (168 cm)
Missing City: NORFOLK
Weight: 105 lbs (48 kg) Missing State : VA
Hair Color: Brown Missing Country: United States
Eye Color: Brown
Circumstances: Both photos shown are of the child. Christina was last seen on October 17, 2005. She may still be in the local area. Christina's nickname is Tina. Christina is Biracial. She is Asian and White.
Case Type: Endangered Runaway