Celebrities (And Snakes) On A Plane

I have no commentary other than... Beeker is my favorite.

Vaction Blogging 1: Stuck in Limbo

Airports are like purgatory for the vacation traveler. You have to pay the price, so that you can get to the golden destination. In my case the price was 11 hours in various incarnations of the Airbus 318/319 and the lovely airports in Denver, San Francisco, and our own lovely BNA. But it really was worth it when I got to the golden destinations of San Francisco, rocky beaches, redwoods, and wine.

The funny thing about airports…. They’re a huge pain, especially the bigger ones like San Francisco. But they’re also kind of freeing. You’re stuck there, you can’t do anything productive, so you can just sit around and do nothing without feeling bad about it. Granted, if you don’t plan ahead and bring your own entertainment, sitting around doing nothing can be its own form of hell.

The San Francisco airport is ginormous. It has multiple terminals, and each terminal has multiple boarding areas. The potential for interesting exploring and people watching (my favorite is when they come to the end of the moving sidewalk) was enormous. But not to be. Each portion of the various terminals has its own security area. I really wanted to go exploring, but I wasn’t really interested in being that guy that needed a cavity search because he suspiciously went in and out of several security checkpoints. Don’t get me wrong, it was still like my own little slice of Walmart with crying babies, rednecks, hippies, and the rest. But I wish I could see the rest. (Obviously I don’t fly a lot.)

On the way from the airport to downtown San Francisco, we kept passing these freeway signs that said “Monster Park”. At first we thought it was the dog park dedicated to pit bull type breeds, but then we drove by Candlestick Point and saw the stadiums. Apparently Monster Park is the name of the football stadium where the 49ers play. I assume the naming rights were bought by Monster.com. Makes me wish our stadium had a cooler name.


Random Info Learned in San Francisco

Did you know that The Onion has a weekly dead tree edition?

We get weekly tirades about how symphony goers think they are better than baseball fans, they get cutting sarcasm and great parody with film reviews. (And ads for medical marijuana with a coupon for free baked goods.)


Warning: Upcoming Vacation Blogging

The Lady Friend and I just got back from visiting a bridge engineer's mecca. San Francisco, location of the Golden Gate Bridge. We also went to various places in northern California, including Sonoma County (where I was buzzing by noon on a Friday).

If the mountain of things to do doesn't fall over and trap me underneath, I'll be vacation blogging later this week.

For now I'm going to leave you with this story... While in Sonoma County, we stayed at a lovely little place in the town of Guerneville. There's really not much there, but while strolling through town we came across a store called Hemp and Chocolate. The window had a display of t-shirts with the captions 'Good Bush' and 'Bad Bush'. The example of 'good bush'... cannabis of course. The exmple of 'bad bush'.... the President. I wish I had taken a picture.


Insult to Tax Injury

Every year June 1 is a day that makes my blood boil. You see, the state’s fiscal year starts on July 1, so June 1 is the deadline they use to collect for some tax collections. I’m not going into income taxes versus sales taxes here. I’m talking about something very different. A tax that doesn’t apply to that many people, so the general public doesn’t care. Unless it’s to think that the people it does affect deserve to be taxed extra.

What I’m talking about is the professional privilege tax. The Tennessee Department of Revenue defines the privilege tax this way:

The professional privilege tax is levied on the privilege of having an active license to practice certain professions, businesses or occupations listed below:

You can see the full list of professions on their website. It includes accountants, brokers, chiropractors, doctors, lawyers and, of course, engineers.

The thing all the subject professions have in common…….. you have to obtain a special license to practice any of them in the state of Tennessee. Now I don’t have a problem with requiring a license for some things. I wouldn’t want my accountant designing a bridge I have to drive across, and I wouldn’t want any of my colleagues to do my taxes. But this is getting out of hand.

The state legislature first says you can’t practice without getting a license, which of course is provided by the state and not an independent party. But the license isn’t free. You have to pay annually or semi-annually to keep it. But not only do you have to pay for your license, you have to pay an annual tax on it. Essentially the legislature found out that they had a list of people that are hostage to them because they work in their chosen profession at the discretion of the state. So they decided to pick their pockets for an extra little something. They make you get a license, then they make you pay tax on the license to keep it. How can this not be illegal?

Not only does the whole scheme seem illegal to me, but it’s inconsistent as well. Teachers have to be licensed. Why don’t they have to pay the privilege tax? My guess is because they have a better lobby than the rest of us. From what I’ve heard, you don’t mess with the NEA.


The Day After

The day after a blogger meetup is fun. Where else do you get the story from so many different perspectives? It's a little bit like reading the same novel multiple times with each from the perspective of a different character. The Great WKRN Blogger Party (tm) last night is a prime example. Sounds like a good time was had by all. Darth Vader even took time away from crushing dissent in the outlying systems, and kicking puppies to put in an appearance and have a beer with the homeless guy.

So why didn't I go? Well.... several reasons, and none of them are as good as the ones Adam Groves came up with. (except #5, Blake Wylie is The Man)

The main reasons I didn't go are the cash bar (bloggers need free beer too WKRN) and prior plans with some friends. But I started thinking about whether I would have gone if I hadn't already made other plans, and it caused flash backs to the high school homecoming dance. I would have been in a room full of people whom everyone has heard of, and if anyone had noticed me it would have been to say "Who's that guy with only the initial on his nametag?" or "Does that guy have a blog or is he just stalking Aunt B?". The only difference between that situation and high school is that all you bloggers are interesting because of the things you write about, not just because you're a football player or cheerleader.

I've been reading blogs for a lot longer than I've been writing them and I've made a lot of observations. The blogosphere is a strange thing. It's a lot like any other niche community of hobbyists or people in the same profession because everyone is brought together by their blogging. But it's different because the one thing everyone has in common isn't their hobby, it's how they share about their hobbies, their opinions, and their life.

What I actually wanted to do when I sat down to write this post was comment on all these blogger friendships that have sprung up. You can see it happen if you read the same blog for an extended period of time. A lurker turns into a casual commenter. The casual comments blossom into intellectual curiousity and the in jokes that every blog has. So it's very great to see all these conversations and friendships develop right before your very eyes.

The most interesting thing about this process is that it doesn't seem to have happened to me. Only one person actually responds to anything I say. (Well occasionally two people, but only if I annoy Brittney.) My non-digital life is fullfilling enough for this phenomenon to not seriously bother me, but I can't help but speculate on the cause. My basic theories involve me being boring/not saying anything new or interesting, or me being just to annoying.

The internet has done some revolutionary things to life. It helps you put regular people into the same category as celebrities. You read about people so much you know a lot about them, but you don't actually know them. The only difference is that you get your information from the source, instead of People magazine.

Oh yeah, also Katherine Coble looks nothing like I expected and I thought Rex L. Camino would be taller.