Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The sincerest form of flattery?

These idiots apparently didn't realize Breaking Bad was only supposed to be a TV show: Chemistry Professors Arrested in Meth Probe.

This quote from one of the idiots busted is kind of creepy:

In a 2014 interview with the Oracle, a campus site, Rowland said he was a fan of Breaking Bad. The TV series was about a chemistry teacher, Walter White, who gets a former student to help him make and sell meth. "It was spot on and accurate when it came to the science, and, it has gotten a younger, newer generation interested in chemistry," Rowland said. "I feel like it was a wonderful recruiting tool."

"Recruiting tool". Guys, Walter White/Heisenberg was not supposed to be a role model. Just sayin'.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Customer Service Fail: American Airlines edition

I don't even know where to start with this. Maybe I should try it as a timeline.

12/25/18: The Brother and I are working our way through our first Christmas without Mom. One of the topics of conversation that comes up is my 2019 writers conferences plan and I mention Bouchercon in Dallas in late October/early November. He decides he'd love to see Dallas so he registers for Bouchercon, books his hotel room, and I book our flight on American Airlines, which I've been using since I started going to conferences in 2012 and have previously been happy with.

To recap: December 2018, I book our flight for the following October. I have us flying out early morning Tuesday 10/29 and coming back Sunday morning. I figure this gives me about a day and a half to do a little site-seeing before the panels start in Thursday.

Now, let's jump to Monday, October 28, 2019.
8am: I get the email from American Airlines to check-in online, which I do. I print out our boarding passes.

Later that day, around 4pm, I put poor Sophie into the cat carrier and head to the vet's office. The neighbor that I'd hope could feed her while I was gone couldn't do it, so Sophie had to be boarded for the first time in her life. And since they're closed Sunday, I can't even pick her up when I get home. I have to wait until Monday, meaning another $32.

I get Sophie to the vet around 4:30 and get home around 5pm. That's when everything started going to shit.

It turned out that as I was turning Sophie over to her new babysitter, American Airlines sent me this:

The gist:

One of these things is not like the other.

So, ten months after I plan this trip, I'm suddenly arriving in the evening instead of early afternoon, I'm not getting there until dinnertime. I figure by the time we deplane, get our luggage, and get to the hotel (about 20 miles from the airport) it will be at least 7:30pm. So there goes the first afternoon and evening of our trip.

So many things pissed me off about this:
  • The loss of one day of my trip. If they'd given us more notice, maybe we could have changed our departure day to Monday.
  • Speaking of more notice, how about that last minute change? Would it have killed them to give us a decent amount of notice? The only other earlier options made available to us weren't non-stops and therefore would take longer to get there, making us late arriving anyway. 
  • When I called, I was told they had cancelled a bunch of flights that day out of Burbank, but couldn't tell me why or why we were getting such late notice.
  • One of the problems seems to be Burbank itself - there were plenty of flights out of LAX. I got really spoiled living so close to that airport for so many years. But The Brother didn't want to drive to LAX on a weekday - it's a shitty drive. With more notice, we could have booked a hotel over there the night before and used the hotel shuttle to LAX.
  • And speaking of late notice, if that email had arrived even a half hour earlier - and given how late our flight was going to leave - I could have kept Sophie home for another night, saving her that stress and me another $32.
  • And just to add insult to injury, our 1:08pm flight left about a half hour late.
And I was right - we arrived at the hotel right about 7:30pm and we were exhausted. The Brother had a headache that carried over into Wednesday, so we didn't get much accomplished that day.

I haven't traveled in over a year, so I don't know if American's been going downhill or what. As I mentioned, I've been happy with them in the past, but this clusterfuck was a game changer. It couldn't have been handled worse. We booked this almost a year ago. They had all that time to make changes that we could have adjusted to. To do it at the last possible minute - literally 15-1/2 hours before we're supposed to be taking off - is just shitty customer service and not a good harbinger for future experiences.

Add to the fact that I just hate flying and there was enough turbulence to make this a really miserable flight, I'm really reconsidering future travel. I can drive to Left Coast Crime next March in San Diego, and next year's Bouchercon in Sacramento is just a short Southwest flight away. The Brother and I will definitely make a trip out of it when Bouchercon hits New Orleans in 2021. That one may have to go to Delta, maybe give them a chance to earn some customer loyalty.

Luckily, Thursday, this showed up in my inbox:

First of all, why send this when our trip wasn't even close to over. I wasn't about to give them a reason to fuck up our return trip. And putting a deadline on it? Dicks. And just to put the perfect capper on it, I got busy after returning home and didn't make the deadline. Needless to say it got pissed off and took to Twitter:

This was their anemic reply:

Yeah, thanks.

Friday, November 15, 2019

"The Twilight Zone" on the big screen? Yes please.

The Brother and I got to see six episodes of The Twilight Zone at our local movie theater last night. Also included was an excellent documentary on Rod Serling.

The description of the program from the Fathom Events website:

The Twilight Zone: A 60th Anniversary Celebration will combine digitally restored versions of six quintessential episodes with an all-new documentary short titled "Remembering Rod Serling" about the life, imagination and creativity of creator Serling, whose thought-provoking anthology series continues to mesmerize fans.

Walking Distance: Martin Sloane, a VP of an ad agency, stops his car at a gas station when he realizes he is 1.5 miles away from Homewood, the town he grew up in.He decides to walk there and finds that he has returned to the past. Season 1 episode 5 – aired 10.30.59

Time Enough at Last: Henry Bemis loves to read but he can find neither the time nor the place to enjoy his pastime. After sneaking down the vault in the bank's basement to read and emerges to find the world destroyed. He sees a great deal of reading time ahead of him. Except for one small unintended event. Season 1 episode 8 – aired 11.20.59

The Invaders: An old woman who lives alone in a ramshackle farmhouse comes face to face with alien invaders, however, the nature of the invaders is not immediately obvious. Season 2 episode 15 – aired 1.27.61

To Serve Man: Michael Chambers recounts recent events on Earth after the arrival of an alien space craft. Chambers attempts to decrypt a book the aliens left behind. The book's title seems benign - but it's not what they think. Season 3 episode 24 – aired 3.02.1962

Eye of the Beholder: Janet Tyler is in hospital having undergone treatment to make her look normal. Her bandages will soon come off, all that to say that truth is in the eye of the beholder. Season 2 episode 6 – aired 11.11.60

The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street: After an unexplained occurrence happens to the residents on Maple Street, a series of events causes paranoia and pandemonium to set in, and the neighbors on Maple Street to turn against each other. Season 1 episode 22 – aired 3.4.60

There were a couple of not-so-great issues. One was that the theater was apparently having problems downloading the program, which was supposed to begin at 7pm. At about 7:25 someone from the theater finally announced they were having technical issues but would begin a in couple of minutes. More than a couple of minutes later we were finally underway. To their credit, they did compensate us by handing out free passes as we left the screening.

The other issue is that I was kind of shocked how muted the audience was. I expected a lot more raucous enthusiasm from TZ fans. I was also annoyed by how many people were coming and going from the theater during the program. It was rude and distracting.

On the bright side, despite their age and being made for 1960's era TV screens, the episodes looked fantastic on the big screen. Props to whoever is responsible for that transfer.

The documentary Remembering Rod Serling started out looking like it was going to be nothing more than an ad for the 2019 CBS All Access reboot, as most of the talking heads early on were producers from that show, but once they got into interviews with Serling's daughter Jodi, family friends, and several of his former Ithaca College students, things really got interesting. There was footage I've never seen of Serling discussing writing in depth that was illuminating not only for the craft aspect, but also an incredibly revealing look at what drove Serling to write the things he wrote. I have a feeling I'm going to be spending most of today going down the internet rabbit hole checking out Serling interviews.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The "Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself" stuff is never gonna get old

I'm one of those people who believe filthy rotten pedophile and general all-around piece of shit Jeffrey Epstein had too much dirt on a lot of powerful people who would prefer not to have said dirt exposed to the world, and so he had to die, and not by his own hand. Too bad. I would loved to have seen that dirty laundry aired. I love it when bad people who do bad things get their comeuppance. And I don't care how rich, powerful or important they are. They're not exempt from the same laws - both common human decency and criminal laws - that govern the rest of us. Well, they shouldn't be.

Apparently I'm not alone in believing Epstein didn't off himself because the internets have been going crazy lately with "Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself" memes and references. This ain't going away any time soon.

Here are just a few I've come across in the past few days. Enjoy!

This next one was a gif that I couldn't figure out how to embed, so I just did screenshots:

A brewery in Clovis, California got into the act:

The Epstein meme meets A Christmas Story:

The Fa Ra Ra Ra Ra part just kills me. And on that note - although I know I'm going to be seeing a lot more of this meme - I'm wrapping up this post.

Update 11/14/19: I knew there would be more I couldn't resist.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

This sight: I miss it

I miss everything about it.

Monday, November 11, 2019


To everyone who has served or is serving, thank you for putting it all on the line for our freedom. You are the best of the best.

Images snicked from the internets over the years. If you see your work here, let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Old Red Museum in Dallas

A week ago this minute I was on a plane heading back from Dallas. That went fast.

Just a few blocks from The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is the Old Red Museum, so named because of its beautiful red brick structure.

Originally built as a county courthouse, it's a huge, ornate building that The Brother and I promptly fell in love with. We could see the clock tower from our rooms at the Hyatt. When it was outgrown and replaced with a new courthouse, it was renovated and became a historically designated building. It is now home to a huge exhibit of Dallas County historical artifacts.

The self-tour is broken up into four sections for the time periods of: Prehistory - 1873, 1874 - 1917, 1918 - 1945, and 1946 - 2007. Each section begins with a brief video giving background on the time period, then you can go around and check out the artifacts from that period.

They have some amazing stuff. Check it out:

1857 grocery ledger:

Morphine kit that could be used to administer painkillers to soldiers...or put down horses in the battlefield:

George "Spanky" McFarland of Our Gang/The Little Rascals was a Dallas native. They have his little checkerboard britches!

The gun in the middle belonged to Clyde Barrow:

Actual Klan outfit. Pretty creepy:

No joke - the first frozen margarita machine was invented in Dallas:

Dallas native Mariano Martinez was inspired by Slurpee machines he saw at 7-11 stores. This isn't even the original - that one was snapped up by The Smithsonian.

Hats off to the museum for having Tom Landry's trademark fedora:

And J.R. Ewing's Stetson:

The museum also has some Kennedy assassination artifacts. The handcuffs worn by Lee Harvey Oswald when he was shot by Jack Ruby:

And a "doodle" made by Ruby while he was in jail for the shooting:

The Brother and I loved this staircase. I got Bradbury Building vibes from it:

The pictures here are only a small sample of what you see in this museum. They've done a great job of cataloging the history of the area. Adult admission is only $10 (less for seniors, students, and kids) and well worth it.