Plane Travel: Kinky Sex, But With Neither Kink Nor Sex.

Standard

Good Evening:

I’ve had it with flying.

I have reached the point where almost nothing can justify paying airlines vast sums of money in order to let them punish you to their hearts’ content. With the sole exception of family emergencies, this car-less traveller will stick to the railroad–an odd experience that offers its own intriguing strengths and weaknesses (and will become the focus of my next post). But tonight I vent. If you want rants, congratulations, you have reached the right blog post!

Although flying to Connecticut was agony, once I arrived, the trip became total enjoyment.  Presenting photographs of the beautiful town of Essex looking its best.

Although flying to Connecticut was agony, once I arrived, the trip became total enjoyment. Presenting photographs of the beautiful town of Essex looking its best.

My summer trip to Connecticut drove me past the breaking point.

Sold-out flights take forever to board and sure enough, this was another one. Stuck on board one of the newer models of jets does not make life better, it makes life worse. First, as usual, the seats shrunk again. I know they shrunk again; I lost weight over the course of 2015, and yet we had more tightly packed seats than ever, less leg room than ever, and less elbow room than ever.

20 Main Street, Essex, CT 21 June 2015

Combine the smaller with seat widths with seat belts that have not shrunk with them and you have serious bondage. Unfortunately, I do not like B&D. Even if I did, the airlines’ notion of kinky hijinks at 30,000 feet tying up people would not feel the least bit–ahem–“interesting,” for the lack of a better euphemism. As you might have guessed, the airline also stuck me in the middle seat.

Great fun. Especially with the overweight gentleman on my right.

Who was the lesser problem.

IMG_7605 DSCN0880

The other one was the bigger problem. He should have considered himself fortunate, standing at most five foot, six inches tall, of average build and sitting in the aisle seat. But when he arrived at our row, he drew himself up to full height, inflating himself with the sense that my sheer existence presented the most offensively existential effrontery of his entire life. He adjusted the sleeves of his expensive-looking silver silk suit as if preparing for conflict. Given his 50-ish appearance and salt-and-pepper goatee, I pegged him as a super-rich executive and wondered what he was even doing in the Economy (hah!) section.

“You’re in my seat.”

“What?”

“Get out of my seat.”

“No this is my seat, the aisle seat must be yours.”

“Stewardess, get this man out of my seat!”

“Here’s my ticket-”

“Get him out of my seat!”

“-I have the middle seat-”

“Stewardess!”

“-you must have the aisle seat.”

He glared at me as if no one had talked back to him since the previous dot-com crash.

“I. Purchased. BOTH. Seats!”

What on earth?!

DSCN0924

The stewardess examined our tickets, and sure enough, the airline had sold the same seat twice. Policy dictated that she could not throw me off the plane, so she made arrangements for Mr. Glare (my nickname) to get a refund on his second seat. Mr. Glare, partially reimbursed, stood by his aisle seat one more time, glared at the human who had the offensively existential effrontery to sit next to him, and sat down, squeezing his five foot six frame against me as much as the armrest between us could allow.

He sat like that for the entire trip.

Except when he moved.

And when he moved, he always accidentally on purpose dug his elbow into various parts of my body.

But nowhere where I might have had him arrested for groping.

DSCN0913

So I sat squashed between an overweight gentleman on my right (who slept for the entire flight and how did he manage that?) and Mr. Glare on my left. As usual, the airline food was overpriced, undersized, and pretty bad, but I had already brought my own meal with me. Sadly, so had Mr. Glare, and lifting his sandwich to his mouth gave him many opportunities to accidentally on purpose lift his right elbow almost to the left side of my face.

After a while, I needed a break from this incredibly important and great human being to whom I should have offered profuse apologies for my puny existence. Made my way to the back of the plane and suddenly suffered a grave and saddening epiphany.

I could never join The Mile High Club.

DSCN0934

Sex on airplanes has never appealed to me because far too many things can go far too wrong, and today far too many things go far too wrong in front of far too many iPhones, but now you can’t do it even if you want lifelong Twitter humiliation. First of all, planes have fewer and fewer and fewer restrooms–this jet only had two. So you won’t have time because someone will soon knock on your door. Second, on this jet they were located inside the attendants’ work station, so you cannot sneak inside. Finally, in order to make more space to cram in ever smaller seats, the restrooms have also shrunk. I do not know how an obese person can fit inside one of these, let alone use them. How can two people get wild and woolly inside such a restroom?

Let’s sum up. No free food. Tiny amounts of overpriced bad food. No room. Plenty of unpleasant travelers. Smaller and smaller seats. The unkinkiest of kinky bondage for people who don’t like that at all. No sex even you’re foolish enough to want it. Fewer and fewer restrooms with longer and longer waits in line.

And you have to spend how much money to pay people to abuse you?

And you have to spend how much money not to enjoy any of what you bought??

How much money???

So I’ve switched to trains. Plenty of idiosyncrasies, but overall an experience with which I can live.

As you will see in my next post.

Vonn Scott Bair

The Chronicle of a Death and Resurrection Foretold: The Sequel.

Standard

Good Evening:

You might remember the tales of a hideous 60s office building on the 100 block of Van Ness Avenue from a little over a year ago. Well, one other equally hideous office building sat next to it, short, blue-green and perpetually filthy, has now died in preparation for its own resurrection, presumably condos starting at $340K as did its neighbor (although given rents in this town, perhaps starting at $400K might prove closer to reality).

But whereas the first office building got recycled–literally, recycled–the second one had to come down. However, tearing it down or demolishing it with explosives could not come into consideration for safety reasons. So they took it apart.

Piece by piece. As you can see in these pictures. First step: seal it up completely so they could remove the glass without the risk of the occasional shard crashing to the sidewalk.

DSCN7035
DSCN7202 DSCN7355

When finished, the somewhat ragged unveiling.IMG_7559

I thought they might keep the interior intact and recycle the building after I saw this, but the building is much too short for a profitable condo conversion. The investors will need something perhaps twice as tall to make a profit.

DSCN1378 DSCN3202 DSCN3463

And there you have the (current) result. Death complete, resurrection to follow.

Vonn Scott Bair

A Christmas Shopping Experiment.

Standard

Good Evening:

So there I stood in the middle of what must rank among one of America’s largest shopping malls, waiting for the Mother Unit, Sister Unit, and Niece Unit to finish shopping for presents and feeling most relieved that I had finished last week, when an idea for an experiment struck my misanthropic mind: how many people will walk past me smiling by the time my family walks out of the store?

The mall was jammed, I mean big-time jammed, so within a minute maybe 150-200 shoppers had passed me when the family joined me.

Only one person had smiled, a young woman carrying an infant daughter and cooing at her.

That was slightly more than I expected.

You see, I had noticed that everyone seemed miserable, even the ones telling their fellow shoppers they had found the perfect gift. And few people spoke to anyone. Most had down-cast faces, vacant stares, exhausted postures, but perhaps you already know how they appeared to me; rather like Munch’s famous figure in The Scream, except too tired to do even that.

This is “the most wonderful time of the year?”

No one looked successful, cheerful or happy, even the one who might have enjoyed great success finding presents judging from the loads they carried.

I wonder if malls do that to people. I did most of my shopping in the Upper Haight last weekend and my fellow shoppers looked much more cheerful. Perhaps the nature of the stores did something to folks in the mall. Every single store was a franchise, even the spa, while the Haight still has a fair number of one-store businesses or whatever the technical term might be. Perhaps the combination of an enormous mall with nothing but franchises affects people, alienates them. Now this is rank speculation (and the rankest sort of rank speculation), but what if those poor folks in the mall felt, for lack of a better word–processed?

You know, not like people. Processed.

Have a great holiday everyone and *please,* for your own sake–smile.

Vonn Scott Bair

Under the Overpass, 19 December 2015. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Gathering)

Standard

Good Afternoon:

San Francisco has gotten hit with a huge El Nino in recent days, one downpour after another, with only slight respites of light drizzle and the occasional sunshine. At the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, where I work, we go around with sheepish grins and tell each other, “This weather is terrible! Isn’t it wonderful!” Whilst it remains unlikely that a single wet winter will completely undo the drought, most San Franciscans feel a bizarre combination of irritation and delight.

Not so much our homeless population.

Finding any means of protection however slight against the elements becomes more difficult in weather like this. For this reason, large numbers of homeless have sought refuge under the overpass along 13th Street in the South of Market neighborhood. I would guess that the number of improvised shelters have quadrupled. Any amount of protection will do, but some pieces of real estate have more value than others:

DSCN3276 DSCN3280

Even these lucky ones cannot completely avoid the wet.

Blanket Drying Out After Downpour, 13th Street Near Folsom, San Francisco, CA, 19 December 2015

Blanket Drying Out After Downpour, 13th Street Near Folsom, San Francisco, CA, 19 December 2015

Others make do with partial protection.

Broom & Shoes, 13th Street Near Harrison, San Francisco, CA, 19 December 2015

Broom & Shoes, 13th Street Near Harrison, San Francisco, CA, 19 December 2015

Some might not have even that much.

Hell Ride Crew, 11th Street near Valencia, San Francisco, CA 19 December 2015

Hell Ride Crew, 13th Street near Valencia, San Francisco, CA, 19 December 2015

Worst of all, no matter how well meaning, any and all attempts at solutions seem to consist of and/or end in shouting, blame and lawsuits. Anyone can see that San Francisco’s recent prominence in the national consciousness results from the fact the income gap here absolutely dwarfs the income gap nationally, and one nightmare scenario consists of America turning into a middle-class-free version of San Francisco, containing the few extremely rich and the many extremely poor. I took that quick and easy quiz in the previous link and discovered that nationally my income was slightly above average and places me in the 57th percentile, an excellent result when you have all of The Good Zeroes: zero kids, zero cars, zero drugs, zero mortgage, zero debt.

However, by San Francisco standards my income fit in the 38th percentile. Lower middle class.

Well, I have defenses, but most people don’t.

So whatever you see in these pictures, wherever you live, it can happen there.

The wind and rain in my neighborhood have just take a turn for the heavier.

Vonn Scott Bair

Recipe: Maple-Sriracha Glazed Carrots.

Standard

Good Morning:

Just in case you need something bright orange, vegan and zingy for your holiday table.

Maple-Sriracha Glazed Carrots

  • 1 lb. carrots cut into 2″ long quarter-inch thick julienne (or use 1 lb. of baby carrots)
  • 1 Tbsp. neutral flavored oil
  • Maple-Sriracha Glaze (see below for two versions)

I like my cooking time short because of a preference for very crunchy carrots. You may cook the carrots longer–it’s your stomach, make it your food.

Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat until it starts to shimmer.

Blanch the carrots in boiling water for 15 seconds, drain thoroughly.

Immediately add the carrots to the oil–watch out for splatter!–and stir until coated in oil. Keep cooking, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or if you prefer softer veggies, 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze according to one of two versions:

I’m Nice with Spice

  • 1 tsp. Sriracha
  • 5 tsp. Maple Syrup
  • Salt and Pepper; OR

I Bring the STING

  • 1 Tbsp. Sriracha
  • 1 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
  • Salt and Pepper

Whichever glaze you choose, combine all ingredients into one bowl.

At the end of your preferred cooking time, scrape the glaze onto the carrots and stir until thoroughly coated. Keep cooking and stirring for at least one but no more then two minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl, and serve at once. Serves 4-6.

This yields a very small amount of glaze as I prefer only the thinnest coating on my carrots. You may choose to double either version.

Options: Use toasted sesame oil instead of a neutral oil. Add 1/2 tsp of Chinese Five Spice blend to the glaze. Or both.

Vonn Scott Bair

A Sleighride of Santas (Weekly Photo Challenge: Gathering)

Standard

Good Morning:

Someone (not me) defined insecurity as the first time a child sees two Santas simultaneously. What do we call this?

Santas & One Gingerbread Man

Santas & One Gingerbread Man

‘Twas the annual worldwide Santa party last weekend. The Gingerbread Man was a nice touch; even Santas get hungry.

Vonn Scott Bair

City Vehicle Yard, South Van Ness & 13th Street, San Francisco, CA 19 December 2015.

Standard

Good Evening:

One of my big influences as a photographer is Photo-Realism, a painting movement prominent about 40-50 years ago. Ironic. One of the subjects the Photorealists loved to portray consisted of automobiles, either singly or in gatherings. So here is a photograph in the Photorealistic painting style of a Photorealistic painting subject.

City Vehicle Yard, San Francisco, CA 19 December 2015, 1:26 p.m.

City Vehicle Yard, San Francisco, CA 19 December 2015, 1:26 p.m.

It’s OK, I don’t understand me, either.

Vonn Scott Bair