Tag Archives: Travel

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

Scooter, San Francisco, California, 29 November 2014 (One Four Challenge, Week 4)

Standard

Good Morning:

One more look at the original photograph, from week 1 of the One Four Challenge:

DSCN6457

The reds in the middle of the shot offer a nice contrast to the overall monochrome look and feel, but the background reds behind the hands are a distraction, as well as the reds on the extreme left and right margins. My final idea for the scooter picture consisted of using a specialized editor called Color Splash Studio to turn the shot into B&W and then restore only the face, hands, and the front wheel of the scooter to color.

Scooter, San Francisco, California, 29 November 2014; Color Splash Studio Edit

Scooter, San Francisco, California, 29 November 2014; Color Splash Studio Edit

Puts a nice emphasis on the vertical composition of the shot. One interesting aspect of the final result (to me, anyway) consists of the hands. In both pictures, it appears that he wears gloves. In any case, I’ve had enough fun with this shot for now. Have a good holiday week, everyone.

Vonn Scott Bair

White & Blue Series, 5 November 2014. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Descent)

Standard

Good Evening:

Most of my “White & Blue” shots of the sky come from the ground upwards, of course. Presenting a few rare descending shots from a recent flight.

DSCN3444 DSCN3445 DSCN3453 DSCN3454 DSCN3441

Vonn Scott Bair

The Vehicles! (Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure!)

Standard

Good Evening:

Don Quixote had his Rocinante. Darwin had his Beagle. The Sixties had the Volkswagen Microbus. If you’re gonna have an adventure, you’re gonna have to have a vehicle.

Some of these vehicles are more or less permanent fixtures along this stretch of 13th Street; their owners both live in them and drive to work in them. Others belong to people traveling the United States (permanently or just for the summer) who got lucky in finding a free parking space in San Francisco. I’m pretty sure the retired bus is a permanent fixture; don’t know about the rest.

DSCN4628 DSCN4637 DSCN4632

Vonn Scott Bair

Casual Thursday in San Francisco, 24 July 2014

Standard

Good Evening:

Friday afternoon seemed to come 26 hours early today, as the entire Civic Center area simultaneously decided that 3:00 p.m. Thursday afternoon marked the ideal moment to start the weekend.

DSCN3743 DSCN3746 DSCN3748 DSCN3738 DSCN3735 DSCN3756

I have a funny feeling tomorrow will witness one of the most serious outbreaks of The Friday Flu to hit San Francisco in a long time.

Vonn Scott Bair

The San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade of 2014 (Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts)

Standard

Good Afternoon:

The whole event stood as a contrast to 2013. 2013’s parade came mere days after the Supreme Court handed down two historic decisions favoring gay rights. These decisions provoked one giant weekend-long burst of joy throughout San Francisco as gay rights advocates poured into the city to celebrate these enormous victories. Incidentally, I wrote “gay rights advocates,” not “gays” for a reason. Gay rights advocates are not by definition gay; indeed, since San Francisco is mostly heterosexual, it would not surprise me if most gay rights advocates in this city were straight.

This year’s parade? Rather quieter. Years ago, I learned to beware the fallacy of assuming that personal experience = universal experience, but if my experience today holds true, the parade drew fewer people and resembled the well-behaved celebrations of old than last year’s wildly raucous and well-behaved celebration of new. Furthermore, last year’s parade universally celebrated gay marriage; this year’s went all over the map.

I wanted to find a few scenes epitomizing this’s weeks Photo Challenge, but had greater success finding sets of scenes with contrasting elements rather than individual pictures with two or more contrasting elements.

For example, some folks celebrated being gay and in love:

WordPress 062914 Selfie

Selfie on Market Street, LGBT Pride Parade 2014

In contrast, some folks protested gay-related issues:

Chelsea Manning Supporters

Chelsea Manning Supporters

In contrast, some folks protested non-gay-related issues:

Live Cage-Free or Die

Live Cage-Free or Die

I had to work hard to find a single picture with contrasting elements. This was my “best” success.

Pink Pistols, San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade

Pink Pistols, San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade

Gay libertarian gun advocates with rainbow Gadsden Flags. Those contrasts might make the heads of some non-San Franciscans explode, but it makes more sense here. Gay bashing remains a problem, and the Pink Pistols advocate gun ownership so that gays can defend themselves against physical violence coming from homophobics. Or as the sign says, “Marry Rights/Carry Rights/Equal Rights.”

The organized anti-gay protestors with their big bright signs of years past have disappeared (correction: this is the second straight year that I personally have not seen them), but I did see this gentleman who, like our Silent Preacher (didn’t see him anywhere this year), prefers to keep quiet and let God’s words do the talking. When I walked past, a number of other photographers were taking his picture, and he did not mind at all. Interestingly, it is not at all obvious that he is anti-gay. In another contrast, he was the quietest person at the parade.

So Then Every...

So Then Every…

However, a few other Christians made a contrasting amount of noise.

Dignity, A Catholic Organization

Dignity, A Catholic Organization

Freedom in Christ Evangelical Church

Freedom in Christ Evangelical Church

ReconcilingWorks! (Lutheran).

ReconcilingWorks! (Lutheran).

We Will Marry You!

We Will Marry You!

The Episcopal folks had quite the advertising slogan, didn’t they?

The commercialization of the parade continues unabated. I will let others debate whether the virtues of corporate acceptance outweighs the vices of corporate exploitation, but I will point out that the most popular fashion accessory I saw consisted of these:

DSC_0047

Yes–those are Burger King crowns.

Again, I caution both my readers and myself against taking my own observations for universal experience, but this year’s parade seems to represent a return to the norm; a fun annual get-together for all kinds of people (heteros definitely outnumbered gays this year) and all kinds of families.

Reason #822,201 to Love San Francisco: The Tiny Universes of San Francisco

Standard

Good Evening:

And one more thing about San Francisco. We have tiny universes here. Little nooks, crannies, alleys, backyards, and miniature parks that popup in the middle of your perambulations, taking you by surprise.

DSCN3479 DSCN3480 DSCN3481

You can find these in the same stretch of Noe Street as Reason #822,200, a small collection of even smaller parks and even smallest sights. In this part of Noe Street, the residents work together to maintain the mini-parks and assorted greenery, which means they also end up relaxing on the park benches they maintain.

And that’s when residents become neighbors.

Vonn Scott Bair

Reason #822,200 to Love San Francisco: The World’s Smallest Lending Library?

Standard

Good Evening:

Nah, it probably isn’t, but it’s the smallest I’ve ever seen.

DSCN3477

The first four blocks of Noe Street rank among the most picturesque and unknown beauties that even most San Franciscans haven’t visited. As this library can attest, Noe Street can have a real everyone-knows-everyone  neighborhood feel. Check out the only rules of this library.

DSCN3478

It’s official; San Francisco is magic.

Vonn Scott Bair

Reason #822,199 to Love San Francisco: The Fashion

Standard

Good Evening:

I’m guessing here, but this might be legal in San Francisco.

DSCN3469

He wore a mask, a necktie, socks, sneakers and a handbag. And not much else. In fact, the only other item he wore was a sock that covered his um, er, uh–his rhymes-with-sock.

He didn’t seem to mind that people noticed him or pretended that they didn’t.

DSCN3474

Welcome to San Francisco. Where we call this business casual.

Vonn Scott Bair

Reason #822,198 to Love San Francisco: The Poetry

Standard

Good Evening:

I still have not discovered the person who first said or wrote, “The surreal is that which lies at your feet,” but I found another example of sidewalk art today. This particular writer has a unique style of handwriting, and you cannot mistake him or her for anyone else.

DSCN3467

Shawnty has a distinct style of writing: very short poems, almost but not haiku, and mysterious, evocative imagery that lends itself to multiple interpretations.

This and the next three posts all came to me in the course of two hours during my errand run. I will publish them in the order in which I encountered them. This just happens some days; San Francisco just wants to show off just how much San Francisco is San Francisco.

Vonn Scott Bair

Freewheeling Two-Wheeling in San Francisco (Weekly Photo Challenge: On the Move)

Standard

Good Morning:

Has the rest of America’s major cities committed so strongly to two-wheeled transportation as San Francisco? Personally, I don’t know; over the past few years, acting and writing projects have kept me tethered to the Bay Area, so I have not had the chance to see for myself.

But San Francisco has invested heavily in making over itself into a green city, and two-wheeling has become a part of that. I look forward to seeing how/if this will continue and perhaps grow in both San Francisco in particular and America as a whole. Ten, twenty years from now, how might our cities appear? What might the car/bicycle ratio become?

I have my own very crazy idea for how we might make human-powered transportation more palatable & popular: the tricycle. An grown-up adult version, of course. The greater width of the tricycle vs. the bicycle will make it possible to add at least a little bit of storage, something the bicycle sorely lacks:

DSCN2843 DSCN2852

I did say it was a crazy idea, didn’t I?

Those green squares (middle, right edge of picture) plus green stripes indicating bicycle-only lanes, appear everywhere in the city, and I hope they have proven helpful in making commuting safer. However, you don’t necessarily have to ride a bicycle to take advantage of them.

DSCN2668

While bicyclists enjoy (and deserve) new-found influence in setting City policy, I think some of them might be pushing things a bit far in terms of their road etiquette. While car-slapping has not yet become a favorite pasttime, I saw another example on Friday at the intersection of Grove and Polk. Only two bicyclists this time, navigating their green lane, which might explain why the driver of the white car didn’t see them before he attempted to turn right from Grove onto Polk, nearly hitting the first rider. He shouted, “Not cool, man!” and continued on his way, but the second biker added, “Yeah, man, totally not cool!” and slapped the car.

I still don’t approve of this; a driver doesn’t need a gun to act out road rage on a biker.

One more, then it’s off to the Civic Center Farmers Market for yours truly.

DSCN2836

Vonn Scott Bair

Welcome, Future Commuters of America! (Weekly Photo Challenge: On the Move)

Standard

Good Morning:

Sometimes whilst practicing The 30 Shot for street photography, I will point the camera directly behind me and take pictures–having no idea what the camera might find. Another luxury of digital cameras; pixels cost a lot less than film, and no one has to see the 90-95% of the pictures that don’t work out.

But 5-10% of the time, the point-and-shoot finds something like this, a group of toddlers on the move getting their first taste of public transit:

DSCN1591

OK. This might have some potential, but it will require some work.

First, in the grand tradition of street photography, a black-and-white approach.

DSCN1591_2

All edits performed in iPhoto. I kept to the original proportions of the shot, which left a little much foreground, plus the subjects of the picture don’t really stand out as much as they should. So this time, and 8×10 crop, keep the color, and make a few adjustments to bring out more detail.

Welcome, Future Commuters of America!

Welcome, Future Commuters of America!

The red makes such a huge difference. My only regret (possibly fixable in Photoshop Elements) is that the face of the woman on the left is still a little too dark, although I do like how the woman on the right appears as the leader of this expedition/training session on how to ride public transit. Fairly satisfactory, pending future work.

Vonn Scott Bair

Vintage Street Car Logo Samples (Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters)

Standard

Good Evening:

If you awaken in a strange city that you’ve never seen before, and if you see what look like 50 foot long hard candies rolling up and down the street, you woke up in San Francisco and you are looking at our vast collection of vintage North American street cars. They are colorful.

Can’t deny it; some of the old time logos of San Francisco’s vintage street car system, maybe designed by someone in the office during the 1930s who dabbled in painting during his or her spare time, have a certain character lacking in some the more professional designs I see today.

DSC_0209 DSCN0040 DSC_0125 DSC_0124 DSCN0016 WordPress 042714 TRIC

See what I mean? Here’s a shot of the Dallas:

DSC_0215

By the way, do you also see what I mean about the candy-colored paint jobs?

Vonn Scott Bair

The View from the Artist’s Garret (Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top)

Standard

Good Evening:

From now until at least the end of September, you can count on Golden Gate Park hosting something, anything, many things on the weekends. Today is both Easter throughout the world and 420 Day in North America, so the park hosted a huge number of celebrations of both events, including everything from small family picnic gatherings to big concerts. Some folks managed to combine both.

At the end of the day, people had to walk home from Easter and/or our biggest cannabis holiday. That meant walking down Haight Street, which means walking past my home.

A genuine, honest-to-God Artist’s Garret on top of an Edwardian, on top of the street.

Bicyclist Heading Home, 20 April 2014

Bicyclist Heading Home, 20 April 2014

420 Celebrants Heading Home, 20 April 2014

420 Celebrants Heading Home, 20 April 2014

It does give one a new perspective.

One thing that does mildly irritate me about outsiders’ perceptions of San Francisco is the common mis-perception that we are all a bunch of wild-eyed church-burning atheists. To mis-quote the late great Herb Caen, fercrynoutloud. I mean, come on, folks, look at my city’s name. That’s Spanish for Saint Francis. Thanks to the large populations of people with Irish and/or Italian and/or Hispanic ancestry, San Francisco has a large Catholic population. Oddly, people don’t notice.

Microbrews and American Spirits, 20 April 2014

Microbrews and American Spirits, 20 April 2014

These two are Irish sisters who live in different apartments in my Edwardian (one moved to the US many years before the other). They made up the third (I think) group of partiers on our front steps today. Twas a grand day indeed of warm weather and clear skies, and I look forward to a fun time in my town this summer.

Vonn Scott Bair

The Popular Abandoned (Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned)

Standard

Good Morning:

From the day it opened in 1896 until the day it was abandoned in 1966, the Sutro Baths did nothing but lose money. Didn’t matter if the Baths were baths, or a museum, or a concert hall seating 8,000, or a skating rink, or whatever else, the Baths lost money. They didn’t even succeed at closing; they tried to demolish the Baths, but Adolph Sutro’s mad obsession burnt to the ground instead.

So how can the abandoned become so popular?

DSC_0123 DSC_0112 DSC_0056 DSC_0034

Just one of those paradoxes, I suppose. Greece has its Parthenon devoted to Athena, Egypt has its Great Pyramid of Giza devoted to a pharaoh. San Francisco has a financial disaster. Of such is abandoned immortality made.

Vonn Scott Bair