Category Archives: Travel

SCANDALICIOUS! Anthony Weiner and Christopher Lee set the stage for the latest gooey, sweet mess

Americans have an insatiable appetite for political scandals, and the cable networks and news media are doing everything that they can to feed our hunger.  The rich and powerful have become the stars of the latest version of reality television, and the elite are now being voted off the proverbial island on a somewhat regular basis.

Frankly, I was pretty shocked during the episode where former Senator Christopher Lee forgot that he was married.  I was stunned during the scene where Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger remembered that he was a father.  I even chuckled when former Congressman David Wu donned his tiger costume and brought some much needed comic relief.  Jeez, I’ll miss him…

I actually blogged about the latest chapter, where agents from the Transportation Security Administration made a cameo appearance and confiscated a professor’s cupcake at an airport security checkpoint.  They concluded that the dessert’s gel-like icing violated federal regulations, and she was forced to surrender the cupcake at the climax of the story.

And then it ended.  Just like that, without any twists and turns, exciting previews or an opportunity to see a political official wearing a tiger costume.  The episode simply faded into the background of our daily lives, lost in our collective consciousness as we turned our attention to the holidays, our friends and family and the upcoming new year.

Well, leave it to the federal government to beat a dead horse, only to revive the poor critter so that it could be beat yet again.  Pop the popcorn and grab the remote – here comes the inevitable sequel.


The TSA is now embracing the use of social media to reach its audience and disseminate pictures with the public.  Somewhere, former Congressman Anthony Weiner is grinning a devilish little smirk.

The agency has recruited Blogger Bob Burns to lead a team that operates its official blog.  He recently used the platform to rejuvenate interest in CupcakeGate by using a bit of humor in defending the confiscation of the suspiciously sweet dessert:

This will be short and “sweet.” Like many of you, when I think of a cupcake, I don’t think of it being in a jar. However, the photo (above) shows the “cupcake” that was prohibited from being taken into the cabin of a plane last month….  I wanted to make it clear that this wasn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill cupcake…

I’m not going to argue for or against the propriety of the seizure of the cupcake.  I do, however, want to note that Blogger Bob Burns has a point: this crazy little confection doesn’t resemble any type of dessert that I’ve squeezed into my diet.  It almost looks like a science experiment gone awry, and reminds me of that jar of half-eaten food that was lost under a pile of dirty clothes during my college years, only to be uncovered at the end of the semester. I was pretty popular with my roommates, but that’s probably a story best left for another day…

You can read the remainder of the TSA’s post here. In the meantime, though, be sure to tune in during the next episode.  You never know when another federal hero will shamelessly forget his marriage, suddenly remember the birth of a child or gleefully prance around in a tiger costume.

TOO BIG TO BOAT: expanding waistlines threaten to capsize vacations

We may no longer need to snap another goofy passport photograph.  The snazzy red fannypacks can remain in the darkest recesses of our closets, next to the chic parachute pants and crocs.  We can now return the trendy new swim trunks, swim fins and snorkels.  It’s time to disappoint our children.

Our holiday cruise has been cancelled, because America has become too fat.

Alright, fine, that last statement may be a little extreme… but…

Safety regulations establish the legal number of passengers that can be carried by many passenger vessels and other boats.  The number of passengers is typically calculated through a formula based upon the average weight per passenger, which the regulations refer to as the Assumed Average Weight Per Person or AAWPP.  Over fifty years ago, the AAWPP was set at 160lbs.

The rise of the fast food industry and a gradual shift to more sedentary lifestyles has resulted in a fairly significant increase in the average weight of Americans since the AAWPP was set at 160lbs.  Our rates of obesity have doubled over the past several decades, and now one in three adults and nearly one in five children and adolescents are clinically obese.  Obesity carries a number of risks, and these risks apparently include the threat of capsizing a boat.

The United States Coast Guard has recognized the.. er… growing trend and increased the AAWPP from 160lbs to 185lbs.  The new rule became effective on December 1, 2011, and applies to ferries, sightseeing boats and American-flagged international cruise ships.  These passenger vessels will now likely need to reduce the number of passengers that are carried at any given time.

So… our holiday vacations have been cancelled because there’s no longer room for our families on the cruises.  At least we’ll now have time to sit back, relax, and celebrate the expansive beauty of January’s finest holidays: National Whipped Cream Day, National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day, and National Cream Puff Day.

FOUL FEET AND A HOLIDAY TREAT: a timely recipe for inconvenience and frustration

You’re tired.  You’re cranky.  You’re cold.  And you’re late.  The crowds are overwhelming, and you somehow found yourself stuck behind a series of yahoos who are obsessed with playing with their smartphones while slowly strolling through a mob of people who are also tired, cranky, cold and late.

The airport is the last place that you want to be during the holiday season.

You’ve removed your belt.  You’ve emptied your pockets.  The crowds are still overwhelming, and the line that you selected doesn’t seem to be moving.  Unfortunately, you’re also stuck behind an overweight gentleman who nearly cleared the area when he removed his shoes and freed whatever demons lurked beneath.

The security checkpoint at the airport is a yet another milestone in your yuletide journey through hell.

You stomach is growling.  You didn’t have time to eat.  You’re hungry.  The crowds are still overwhelming, the line still doesn’t seem to be moving and the fat man’s demons have yet to retreat.  You’re well aware that you’re not going to have the opportunity to pay a king’s ransom for a hot dog, a bag of chips or some other exotic delicacy sold by a vendor near your gate.

The beast in your belly is fightin’ mad, and his guttural roars are a constant reminder that you should have packed a few leftover cookies, cakes and other holiday treats.

Therein lies the problem.  These little nuggets of fun contain a disproportional amount of calories and an unrealistic amount of sugar.  They obviously pose an almost irresistible threat to our health and an unfortunately obstacle to the fulfillment of our upcoming resolutions.  They’re dangerous, but the hazards don’t necessarily begin at the waistline and end at unfulfilled resolutions.

Instead, holiday desserts may well constitute a clear and present danger to everyone’s safety and potential threat to national security.  This means that the last place that anyone wants to be caught red-handed with a cookie, cake or iced concoction is the security checkpoint at the airport.

Wait.  Holiday desserts may constitute a threat to national security?

Of course, and recent events at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada, only serve to illustrate this concern.

Several days ago, Rebecca Hains, a 35-year-old communications professor at Salem State University, was trying to catch a ride on an airplane.  Unfortunately, she attempted to clear the security checkpoint at McCarran International Airport while carrying a red-velvet cupcake.  The red-velvet cupcake was topped with a hearty amount of icing, and this was a problem.  A serious problem.

A federal agent reportedly concluded that the gel-like icing violated federal regulations.  She was therefore forced to surrender her cupcake to the Transportation Safety Administration.

Ms. Hains was obviously not happy.  She believed that the TSA agent encroached upon her civil liberties.

Regardless of the claims and concerns, however, this entry isn’t meant to spark a debate on the lawfulness or appropriateness of the actions of federal screening officials.  It’s simply a recounting of an incident that involved a passenger, an agent and a cupcake… and a warning about yahoos with cellphones and noxious beings lurking in shoes worn by overweight gentlemen.

%d bloggers like this: