Category Archives: USA

I’m Tommy, don’t fly me any more

One of those matters I missed blogging on, because of all thats been going on with me, has been the demise of Thomas Cook, the travel agents, and airline over here in the UK recently. Originally started in 1841, strangely enough by a man called Thomas Cook, it decided it needed to expand its base in 2007, and combined with some of the choices made, and the fact that more people now make their own holiday plans online, rather than using travel agents in town centres, they began to run into trouble, and its all just fallen apart from there. I mean, I cant remember the last time I used a travel agent to book my holiday package, so suspect its the last century, in those good old pre internet days.

Funnily enough, in recent times, I’ve only tended to use 3 airlines for my flights (though last flight was actually with Jet 2, to Portugal) to the US, Delta, American, and Thomas Cook, though I have actually flown with Virgin American, and Alaska, on connecting flights for 2 of the above, but all bookings made through those 3.

Though I would never have called Thomas Cook a luxury airline, the premium economy section was fine, all the same. I couldnt say more, because the staff were clearly not that attentive, as my most ‘ironic’ flying memory is flying that way from New York to Manchester. Firstly, despite having booked a seat (and paid extra to do so), they moved me,with no reason given, from a window seat in one row, to a middle seat in the row in front of where I should have been. As far as I could tell, a couple had wanted seats together, despite not booking them, instead of sitting across the row from each other, and what did other passengers who had booked seats, at a cost, matter?

The thing is (strictly not their action, but?) the guy I was now sat next to, was politely asked to switch off his mobile phone for take off, as he should have done, an action he just ignored, continuing to talk to someone on his phone regardless. In fact, he only stopped when presumably we’d reached a height where he lost his connection! Nothing done by plane staff at all, despite him not even hiding the fact he was still on his phone all that time!

To be fair, I had any number of good, and pleasant flights with them too, but given all the safety talks you get, it did make me wonder just how vital they really were at the time? All the same, I will miss Thomas Cook Airlines, they did tend to be the cheapest way to travel to the US, which when you’re on a budget, was always handy. So who I fly with next time, who knows? But Thomas Cook, no more.

OK, video time. For those of you old enough to remember 10CC, I’d call this line up 2, with half of the original group, plus a few others. I’m sure I must have flown with a few Mandy’s in my time, though thankfully none under the sad circumstances of this song

 

Almost born in the USA

Oh, happy Independence Day, America.

Funny thing was, I’d planned to give this a miss for a few reasons. Firstly, I know people are going to want to hear what tomorrow is like for me, with the EEG Scan, and I try not to do too many blogs, as well as too few in a week. But then someone posted a picture, and well, I had to post it, and it could hardly wait a year, so…

Of course, the funny thing about my connections to the USA, so many of them lead to one state, Oklahoma! Of course its where Clara Johnson was born, in territory time, and not only that, but Kate has pointed out to me, its a highly likely target point for my Irish Great Grandparents at the time, if they’d gone west, instead of to England. Given that would have happened just before Clara was born only makes that even more ironic.

Sadly, Kate and I have agreed that even if I get permission to fly, post scans (which I will, if only epilepsy), I wont be going to Oklahoma this year. I think she’d rather have me nearer home, and with the better facilities in New England close by, and in truth, I dont blame her! But if Clara thinks she’s safe, there’s always next year, by which time hopefully things will be really stabilised!

I cant make plans until after the scans on what I will do, as a lot will depend on where, when, and how much surgery I got done, to solve all my issues. A dear friend (or 2) have made it very clear they’d love to find a way to get it done in the USA, and given some of the recent reports coming out about the NHS, who can blame them? But until I know whats the matter with my brain, no comment. But definitely need to get some bits bobbed somewhere in the near future, I’ve pledged for that, and in truth, it will be nice now to get it done.

Its also fascinating to think where I might be now, if my ancestors had gone west to ‘Oklahoma’? Or did one version of my life have that happen, produce Clara Johnson, and only in the other life did they come to England? I know, silly idea, but an interesting thought. Would I have followed Clara’s route, ended up in movies in Hollywood, would I have followed Kate’s route, to New England. Or might I be a happy housewife home in Oklahoma, with children, who knows?

Oh right, that photo, no I hadnt forgotten. Its a picture of another shy, demure blonde, who would never say boo to a goose. Yes, you know I’m joking I hope, because its Mae West, dressed as the Statue of Liberty. Would I love to wear this dress, you bet I would!

mae west liberty

Maybe next year, somewhere in the USA, who knows, but I wouldnt put good money on it!

Right, the video. Its the obvious song, but its ironic about the way politicians pat themselves on the chest, and have this blasting out at rallies. Why, because its actually an Anti Vietnam song, and not deeply proud of what the USA did. But they just look at the song title, not the lyrics, and… God Bless America!

So what happens now?

Well, I must admit, when I avoided discussing the Brexit vote on Sunday, I wasnt expecting this position, though in truth, I’m not totally surprised it did. Yes, the vote that was due to happen in Parliament today, over the Brexit agreement was cancelled yesterday, when I think even Theresa May realised it was going to end in crushing defeat, and there wasnt a lot she could do about that. The irony of this being that she cant get the votes from the rabid Brexiteers of her party (not extreme enough), or those who wanted to remain (not a sane deal), which just sums it up

So, to quote the blog title, what happens now? In truth, the only answer I can offer, no idea! The media seem nearly as clueless as the politicians on the matter, as I’ve heard answers from every point on the spectrum from Brexit being cancelled, to just crashing out of the EU, and pure chaos ensuing. Or, of course, just about anywhere in between!

It seems May is going to try to renegotiate, even though the EU have clearly said thats not going to happen. Lets face it, why should they want to offer us the most perfect deal, its not in their best position to do so. I’m going to manage to stay neutral on this for one good reason, neither of the major parliamentary parties seem to have half an idea on how to resolve this matter! I also feel less guilty if I do slip up, as I’ve seen 2 colleagues posting decidedly non politically neutral postings on the event today on social media, anyway, lol! 😛 Before anyone says this is anti Conservative bias, I’m not a fan of Corbyn either!

Oh, and to put it into context, without mentioning how I voted again, you could always just look back to my blogs, at the time of the vote (pre Civil Service job days, so could comment) to see how I voted, lol. 😉

The interesting (and possibly fun) thing is, that at some point, May needs to put something to a vote, and given the wide spectrum of feeling in her own party, and the fact that the opposition just want to vote against her regardless, it looks like she will lose the vote at some point, assuming she hasnt been dethroned by her party before then, and nothing would surprise me at present.

My dream outcome, that the office lottery syndicate win the jackpot before March 29, I can declare retirement, and hurry off somewhere hot all the year round, and yes, I might have been there recently, lol. Both so I’m out the country should chaos break out (and medicines is one big issue that concerns me a lot), and so that I can retire comfortably in the EU sun! Well, unless some wealthy American in a warm state goes crazy, and marries me, lol, anyway. Or I find a ‘sugar daddy (or mummy) who wants to set me up somewhere suitably warm. Think the former is more likely than the last two, and thats saying something!

Oh, and two additional amusing moments with a political touch today. Firstly, Theresa May went to see Angela Merkel in Germany today about the current chaos. Funny point, her car door wouldnt open, and let her out. Eventually she did get out, but fine, the film is all over Social Media now, hilarious stuff.

Secondly, in the US, Trump was made to look the fool he is today, when meeting with a pair of leading Democrats, over his desire to build a wall between the US, and Mexico. Yes, he made the threat to shut down the US if he didnt get his way, like a very spoilt child, and they managed to get it recorded for posterity. Way things are going, with luck, some time in the near future there will be a wall around him, a prison wall!

Fine, lets call it quits here, and hope its UK neutral enough, lol. So, video time. A song from Evita, with a very apt line, repeated numerous times.

I still recall…

Its a depressing thing when you can look back on a Republican President of the past, and think that in truth, maybe he wasnt that bad? Maybe thats because of the current man in the role, he can make anyone look good. It was summed up by a picture from the recent G20 summit, where every leader, apart from himself, chose to keep away from him, says it all. But no, this blog isnt about that narcissist!

The previous 2 Republican Presidents in the US had the same surname. Probably because they were related, and but for the middle initial, both were known as George Bush. The senior Bush (1989-1992) presidency has now literally come to a close, as he passed away in the last few days, at the grand age of 94. One worthy note, he was the President who survived to the oldest age, though Jimmy Carter will be in a position to take over that role in March, assuming he lives that long, and there currently seems no reason why he wouldnt?

I dont actually have any lingering memories of his presidency, whether that be for good, or for bad, no idea? What I do remember, he seemed to be better than Reagan, but thats a bit like saying anyone would be better than Trump, maybe?

But yes, apart from all my growing health issues, it makes you feel old that a President you remember serving in the role, dies at that sort of age. Yes, old father time catches up with us all, and seems to be creeping up on me, for sure!

Anyway, due respects, and RIP, George Bush, at least I dont remember anything that bad that you did, and that counts for something?

OK, video time. No, I never know what to put up at times like this, so lets go with a classic song by someone else with the Bush surname, Kate. Probably my favourite song of hers of all time.

Like a fall in the war, like a pawn in the game

I suppose my readers might have worked out by now, that I’m not a fan of Trump. I know, shock horror, and all that. One of the criticisms that so many have made of the Republican party, quite justifiably on the whole, is that no one has had the courage to stand up to his comments, and crazy tweets, but there was at least one man of whom that couldnt be said.

I dont know what John McCain did to annoy Trump, other than not fawning over the ‘Emperor’ and his ‘New Clothes’, but seemingly something did. I’m pretty sure it was the fact that he did tell Trump what he thought about matters, and from time to time, disagreed with him totally. Anyway, for that fact alone, regardless of his political views, I’d have to like him. Maybe it was the fact that he actually served in the military, with honor, something Trump was determined to avoid.

I’m not going to snatch lots of stuff from Wikipedia about the guy to impress you about him, you can do that yourself, if you so desire. In truth, the first time I really came across him, was 2008, when he was the Republican nomination, who lost to Obama. Of course, I had a couple of reasons to want Obama to win, but in a sense, after Bush, he did seem a Republican candidate I could have lived with, but anyway…

Of course, one of the things he did, after falling out with Trump, was to vote down the mess that was the Trump plan to dump Obamacare, in favor of something that would line his friends in the medical industry’s pockets! I’m not saying that compared to our system, Obamacare was perfect, but it was better than previously, and its better than anything Trump wants for non wealthy people in the US. He did that, at a time when he was already critically ill, quite a stand to take.

Anyway, a couple of days he decided to stop fighting the brain cancer he was suffering, and take his chance in the next world. Unsurprisingly, it wasnt long between that decision, and his sad death. I dont know, maybe its because he was an old school Republican, maybe its because he was prepared to say what he thought, not just toe the party line that endeared him to me, but regardless of all that, RIP, John McCain.

OK, the video. 35 years ago, or so, OMD brought out an album that was totally ahead of its time in complexity, Dazzle Ships. I must admit, at that time, I probably didnt get it either, but its one of those things that has developed a fame after its time. I’m not saying I get it entirely, even now, but with the modernity of music, it makes a lot more sense. This wont be everyone’s cup of tea, but then again, neither was McCain, and indeed, neither is Trump!

Just don’t tell Trump!

Firstly, a quick reminder for the newer folk around here, and numbers do seem to have exploded viewing this, so…I’m on holiday now, in Seattle. What this means for those lucky people who know to read both blogs, there’s no point, they just get copy and paste treatment, as most would want to know the same things, and besides, I dont have the time to write 2! So… Yes, I know, its been a while, but more on that in a moment!

Strictly, the holiday made an early start on Thursday, as I went into Am Dram mode again in Cookridge, with a couple of work friends. I would spend time praising the performance to the hilt, and telling you to go see it, but there were only 3 shows, its finished by now, but…It was really good, I must say, as was the meal before that, both the food, and the company.

I was going to post something on Friday re the reduction of stakes on the ghastly machines in betting shops nowadays, from £100, to £2, but firstly I ran out of time, having my hair done (shock horror, I’m not a natural blonde!), and then packing to come here. So it never happened. Mind, as the reduction wont kick in until 2020, I shall probably be rude about the betting industry before then!

Yesterday was just a typical US Travel day in so many ways, that I’ll only pass on the interesting details. Yes, Manchester Airport redeemed themselves this time, though they get one more chance to mess up yet. As does Seattle, where a lovely young lady not only helped me through, and got my baggage for me, she actually ran me over to where the hotel courtesy shuttles pick up, and I’m sure thats not in their job description. But the middle one… No, it wasnt bad, just the opposite in fact, really good service, but…

Every other airport I’ve seen in the US (even before I needed this ‘old crock’ service) has either had a separate line for wheelchair passengers, or mingled them into the crew column, or a mix of both. Ah, but this is Vegas, so…Its not the biggest International sector, I suspect it doesnt need it. So there is a crew column, but access passengers…no! Seems we, regardless of nationality go into the US there, in the US citizen queue. So yes, lol, dont tell Trump, but I’m a US citizen, of sorts! Not really, but yes, it was amusing.

Today has been relatively quiet, as I gave the body chance to recover in advance with planning. In truth, with the warmth here, less needed, but anyway… Just to say, for those who care, I now have an active US cell phone again, until next Sunday, so if you wish to talk, for any reason, just ask for number. If I dont know you of sorts, tell me why you want to talk to me, OK? Not saying I wont give it, but just curious, thats all. Only works for 8 days anyway!

OK, there has to be a down point, doesnt there? Yes, there is one, though hopefully the Mariners will sort it out, they have been emailed already. The game was great, the only snag being that the seat was up more than a few stairs, which didnt help, but I got there eventually, with only minimal soreness. No reason they should have known, I’m not obviously disabled (brace is under top/skirt, and fact not mentioned), so how would the poor guy picking my seat know? I did come down after 7.5 innings, I needed to go ‘somewhere’, and never went back up. Actually found a more comfortable seat for the other 3.5 innings, as it went to overtime. Then, after Seattle had won…

Given I was sore, and given there was a sign for a disabled elevator nearby, I decided to use that to get downstairs, rather than struggling down a large number of stairs, in a large crowd of people. Unfortunately, the lady in the elevator had either failed her disability training, had never been given any, or just didnt think it applied to anyone in less than a wheelchair! So when I, and another lady who said she had walking difficulties got into the lift, she bluntly told us that the lift wasnt meant for ‘people like you’, and pointing at a couple of mothers, with buggies behind us, said, “Its meant for them!”. I have no objection to them using it, but it does say its a disability elevator, so… Complaint email has been sent to the Mariners accordingly! Do I expect anything more than platitudes from them? Probably not! But put it this way, not that they will care, but I had planned a second game at some point Friday, or Saturday, but certainly wont be bothering now! I know, whats 1 customer to them, but all the same…

Fine, video time. I couldnt think of a song that really fitted in with all this, so just made a random choice of an under rated Soft Cell song.

The better you bet?

I must admit that when I heard this news yesterday, I was pretty stunned. Mind, its quite apt in the week in which I get (briefly) to Las Vegas, that the US decide to shake up their betting legislation dramatically.

For those who know, here in the UK, betting outlets are everywhere, in the form of betting shops, though according to some, nowadays they are more like mini casinos, or amusement arcades. As I now only go in once a year (or twice, if like this year, I get winnings), I have no idea of the pros, or cons of the glittery betting terminals now in all the shops, as I never even glance at the things. Apart from the Grand National, I havent had a bet since William Hill made me redundant in 2015, nor do I plan that to change…well, in the UK at least!

Up to now, if you wanted to bet legally on any sport in the US, you either did it in Nevada, or through a Nevada outfit, and that was it. Principally Las Vegas, though I suspect Reno had options too. Horse racing, well there is on course betting there, and some states have betting outlets, purely for racing, and thats it! Yes, I have actually been in an off track betting shop in New York State, firstly about 30 years ago (somewhere near Watkins Glen), and slightly more recently, when I went to Rochester, but they were like old fashioned betting shops over here, very basic, not places designed to stay in for hours. But other sports, oh no!

Oh, please, yes, people in the US bet on sports games outside of Nevada, very illegally, but it happens! So anyway, recently, the state of New Jersey started a court case to permit venues in their state to bet on all the other main sports. Yesterday, they won! In the case of Delaware, they seem to have only been waiting on the result of this case to start doing the same. On top of all this, numerous states have got things in early planning stages, and will follow in the near future. Some of those states listed didnt surprise me (Yes, New York was among them), but then there was ‘Bible Belt’ states like Kansas, and Oklahoma, wow! Yes, I could see the irony of me working in a betting outlet in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, in the footsteps of Clara Johnson! No, I dont imagine it will happen, especially with me being Transgender, but I cant deny I would love the irony of that!

Sadly, the only state I’m going to visit this year isnt on the list, Washington, and I dont think Florida was on them either, and thats only a maybe at this time. But yes, sports betting in the US, legalized, who would have thought it? So if anyone needs experienced staff to run one of these outlets for them…? Be a fun thing to do before retirement, I must admit!

Right, video time. The moment I knew I was blogging this, this song came immediately to mind. Not one of those songs that The Who are remembered for, but anyway…

You give me wheelchair rage

Well, not strictly, I hope, but yes, we’re approaching that time of year when I discover just how many people go out of their way to avoid people in wheelchairs! Only one trip so far, and I had low expectations, even then, but yes, it was pretty shocking, even then.

Yes, Saturday sees the delight of the flight across the Atlantic (I love the travel, just hate the long hours sat on a plane), which gives me the delight, now that I am disabled (thankfully not badly) by back issues, of travelling through airports by wheelchair! In truth, last year, 2 out of the 3 would have got good marks off me. Unfortunately, the one that didnt is the one I’ve got to use again, Manchester. Hopefully this time they wont leave me sitting at the gate, but not full of confidence. The show coming back wasnt great, but not entirely their fault, as I seemed to be the only 1 of 4 people who wanted a wheelchair to greet them, who actually requested it. But even then… Still, hoping that will be better this year.

Las Vegas, and Seattle, I have no idea about, to tell the truth, be interesting to find out. Though for Vegas at least, I am wondering if the wheelchair comes complete with slots machine lol! I’m sure it doesnt, but… Las Vegas should be straightforward, given I’m being helped off 1 plane, through Immigration and stuff, then on to another plane, no issues there. I’m not sure what might happen if I get a ‘Jobs Worth’ at Seattle though, as I will need to struggle out of the chair, and go off and get a hotel shuttle, with no one to greet me? Beat him over the head with my handbag, maybe, lol?

As for all the people who will either ignore me totally, not get out of my pusher’s way, or both, I’m sure there will be many! Wheelchair rage, I’ll try not to!

The other amusing landmark on the way out is my ‘state bagging’ number, as for the first time in a while, it will be going up, to 24! Not bad for a Brit, is it? Yes, first time in Nevada, even if it will only be an airport terminal, joining Georgia with that honor. Before health woes struck both of us, the plan had been to hit 24, and maybe 25, last September in New England, but no go. Vermont was the main target, Maine the maybe. One of them might yet be 25, and halfway, but Florida, and Oklahoma might be possibles for that honor. All depends on a lot of things in future, we will see. The one big area where I lack states is hardly surprising as a Trans lady, its the ‘Deep South’! Georgia is it, and as I say, thats airport only, at Atlanta! Doubt that will change much, in truth, and in all honesty, beyond the ones mentioned, the only other possibles to visit are at extremes, Alaska, and Arizona! Well, New Mexico, if I get an alien invite, but seriously…

Right, video time. A bit of a hint, and in this at least, a bit of a Welsh accent, great stuff. I cant believe I havent used this before, in truth

Bit of a wild world

Oh fine, the amusing irony of tonight’s blog is that I know it will get one like, because a certain person is going to be tagged in this. Why its amusing, is because the guy seemingly loves Trump, and therefore anyone who uses his name as a tag, the blog gets liked, even if the opinion is less than favorable, like mine, because he clearly never bothers to read them. So thanks for the like, ‘Aussie Conservative’, and thanks for not actually reading it.

The previous times I needed a US Visa (long, long before ESTA, and they only work for tourists, anyway) involved going to the US Embassy in London, answering questions, being dutiful, and respectful, and all that. Oh fine, not all tourist visas used to get that treatment, but I suppose from time to time, they had to tick the boxes…But yes, anything more significant, and off to the Embassy you had to go!

The thing is, since those times, terrorism has become more of an issue in the world, and someone has decreed that the old Embassy building in London would have been difficult to protect. So back in 2008, George Bush made plans to move it to a safer building, outside the center of London. Yes, Donald, it wasnt Obama that made the decision, it was a Republican! But lets face it, niceties like the truth have never bothered Trump, so…

So hear we are, 10 years later, and its ready to open. I will miss the old building, and I certainly wont enjoy the extra travel if I have to apply for an Acting Visa, but I’m sure I’ll survive. Probably wont need to concern myself about it, but just in case…? In truth, I’m only assuming that in these days of doing everything online that it isnt initially done over Skype, or something, and only requires a visit in some cases? No idea, if I ever need to find out, I’ll let you know.

The thing is, Trump, as President, was going to come over and open the new Embassy. Then, he got the message delivered to him that, just maybe, he might not get the fawning welcome he was expecting! So he’s decided not to come, and his excuse for not doing so, relates to the baloney about Obama taking the decision to move it (not true), and that it cost too much (pretty much all the cost was recompensed by the sale of the old building), so thats shot him down in flames.

Oh, and on top of that, he’s seemingly sold a large number of fighter planes to Norway that only exist in a video game! Yes, so unless he knows something we dont (stop laughing here!), he’s telling even more lies! I think he has sold some planes, just not the ones he’s claimed to have done! Oh, and he’s described numerous countries (predominantly non white countries) as s**thole countries, so another diplomatic gaffe on top of everything. Anyone would think he was a white supremacist or something? Oh, wait…?

Believe me, I’m glad he’s not coming here, not that I would ever have seen him, mind, but I’m just glad we wont have to stand the taxpayers costs of protecting him. Still one year down, only hopefully 3 to go?

An old classic tonight, from Cat Stevens, who lets face it, Donald wouldnt be a fan of! But I think he sums up his effect perfectly!

Of All The Gin Joints In The World…

Today is one of those landmark anniversaries that people probably dont tend to remember. But in the US at least, its one of those major landmarks in civilization. What, I hear you ask, no doubt? Darlings, as a good flapper would explain it, it was the end of Prohibition. Yes, on the 5th December, 1933, that period of so called temperance came to an end! Given that it had started on the 17th January, 1920, thats quite a period that the US was supposedly dry.

Of course, in truth, the only thing that changed 84 years ago, was that drinking suddenly became legal again. I have no idea if those first few years, whether the imbibing of alcohol did stop, or not. What is clear though, is that by the mid 20’s, speak easy’s and gin joints, all illicit, had appeared in most major cities, and probably most other places as well.

Its definitely fair to say, that by the late 20’s, any young flapper worth her bobbed hair, and short dress knew where to get a drink when she wanted one. And lets face it, many people were far too happy to provide them for her! And yes, I’m pretty sure that alcohol touched Clara Johnson’s, and most other young actresses, and dancers lips long before the end of 1933! In fact, I’d be disappointed in her if she didnt! However I suspect they had to watch how much they drank if they were performing the next day. Well, maybe…?

Its said, and I have no definite proof of the fact, that the night prohibition ended, Jean Harlow was in a warehouse in Los Angeles, err, celebrating, as the lorries drove off, laden with beer for the bars, joining in the celebrations. Let me say, I wouldnt be at all surprised, knowing her, if that was true! But as far as I know, its only hearsay, so lets leave it there, OK?

Of course, the irony for me, is that at the moment at least, I’m one of the temperance brigade. No, not willingly, just being sensible, as the medications I’m on arent meant to be mixed with alcohol, so being a good girl… So yes, I’ve had one day of drinking alcohol in nearly 6 months! For that, I laid off the painkillers for 3 days, as instructed, and all was fine. Well, yes, I did feel slightly sleepy, but that was as far as it got. Since then, none has passed my lips…angelic look…

Do I miss it? No, not really, but then again, I’ve never been a big drinker anyway, so not a lot to miss. There have been a couple of times when it would have been nice to have a glass of wine, but I’ve stayed on the pledge lol! PS If anyone knows of a no alcohol, or low alcohol wine I could probably get away with drinking at Christmas, please let me know!

However, there are, even now, what they term ‘dry counties’ spread across the US, mainly in the ‘bible belt’ zone, but I suspect not all of them are. Then again, I remember when I was younger, that there were parts of Wales, and Scotland especially that were dry on Sundays! Not sure if that still is the case, mind.

The only other thing I wonder, is what happened to those illicit drinking places? I suspect many became legal bars, though I’m equally sure a good number shut down when all the fun went away.

Right, video time. Well, you could say all those wicked young flapper girls were this, prior to 5th December, 1933, I guess? Not that they cared, I’m sure, but… This is a one hit wonder, in every sense of the word, not hard to see why!