Monday, June 21, 2010

Latest & Greatest on Montauk

NYTMag does Montauk for the weekend:

US Gets Agressive on Israel Travel Warning

New #travel warning for #Israel, the West Bank & #Gaza advising all U.S. citizens to refrain from travel

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Friendly French? Oui, C'est Possible!

Lonely Planet gets out of Paris and finds some friendlies.  In Defence of Hospitable France:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

In Case You Were Thinking Maybe Kandahar

Businesswoman Rangina Hamidi, seller of Afghan handcrafts, has decided to leave Kandahar for U.S. due to violence, stating that the province is in such chaos, she's abandoning her 7 year quest to help bring her country in synch with the international community.

@lonelyplanet's Top Little Known Neighborhoods

Greatest little-known neighbourhoods #lp

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Violence in Nigeria @TravelGov Issues New Travel Warning

New #travel warning for #Nigeria due to ongoing violence throughout the country

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Himalaya Trekkers Beware: @TravelGov New Travel Warning for Nepal

New #travel warning for #Nepal regarding the current security and political situation

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@nytimes Reports Radio Journalist Killed in Phillipines

Radio Journalist Slain in Philippines

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

FW: Bar Harbor Village Green Hideaway - Year Round Rental in Maine

It's hard to rave too much about Bar Harbor's The Village Green Hideaway rental home. In fact, it is tempting to not review it - no one who's been there wants a mad dash on the place making it harder to book next time.

But The Hideaway is too wonderful to keep silent about. A lovely home in a perfect location - right on the edge of downtown Bar Harbor. The house has, 2 comfy bedrooms, beautiful spa shower, huge kitchen, great living room with cable, comfy fireplace, great work desk. There's a great TV, cable and many, many DVDs. Flawless internet access. The price for a week is just right, too.

Everything is brand new and spanking clean, and the glorious windows let in wonderful light, but the Hideaway is still nestled in a corner off the main path so there's no feeling of being in the middle of town despite the fact that is exactly, happily, where the Hideaway is. Easy walk to the grocery store, fabu restaurants, the movie theater, even the YMCA is close by. For the cross country skiers and snowshoe-ers, Acadia National Park is next door, with the heavenly Eagle Lake 3 miles up the road on which the Hideaway sits.

Late December through early January was a great time to hunker down at the Hideaway, go on hikes in the day and walk to town in the afternoons and evenings. The owner is next door - very sweet to check on renters, but completely respectful of privacy. She's quite the charmer!
Hard to believe anything could make Bar Harbor better, but the Hideaway does. Highly recommended.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Starbucks to Offer Free Wi-Fi in US locations

Via ATT, so good luck, but we'll take it as a nice addition to a doppio espresso and a clean W.C.
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Everyone Knows It's Windy

Ok Clear Plastic Bag, Kathy Frederick has a blog about Windy the Plastic Bag, an actual, 2 year old plastic bag stuck in a tree at Frederick's home. Though the blog is well followed by legions who want more and more shots of windy (bagarazzi can't be far behind), we at HFB can't help but feel that til she landed at Frederick's, Windy was a High Flying Bird. Leaving her stuck on a jagged bough doesn't seem quite right (no one puts Windy in the corner?) so let's all tell frederick to let Windy go. After all, if you love something set it free.
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Thanks, Dad

Nice to hear Dad signed solo sailor Abby Sunderland to book deal before she risked her neck on the waves. Using his 16 year old to support pregnant wife and six other kids, now that calls for a father's day present.
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Brownsville Station - Smoking in the Boy's Room

The mayor of Brownsville, Texas has issued a travel warning for residents headed across the border to Matamoros. Drug cartel shootout at the police station, with seven officers killed. Spillover violence expected in US.
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Prayers Headed For Indian Ocean

While we might want to slap her folks upside the head, we at HFB honor the adventurous spirit of Abby Sunderlund, a 16 year old working on sailing a solo trip around the world. She's now missing in the Indian Ocen with emergency beacons signaling. Our thoughts are with Abby and her family.
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Pointless Single Use Plastic Bags RIP

A super-sad day for our contributor Clear Plastic Bag, as California bans "pointless" single use plastic bags.  So what's a well-coiffed girl to wrap the hairspray and mousse in as she buggys from Kathmandu to Varanasi?

The glamour and glory of it all . . .

I recently found myself stranded in an airport (again) around 1:00 pm. At 5:40 pm. I learned the plane might take off for Nashville before 10 pm but even this news was announced in a vague tone indicating a departure time was iffy at best. Ever the vigilant lunactic, I opened my computer to work and was typing away when my battery died. Great. Now to find an electrical outlet. Aha! There's one behind the trash can . . . and my laptop sits nicely on top of the trash can . . . and it is at the perfect ergonomic height for typiing. So what the hell. Of course, it wasn't until I was deep in a brief that I realized this is one of those fancy electric recycling trash cans. So every time someone dropped in a plastic cup the trash can came alive shaking and shimmying for a full minute before shuddering to a halt. That would be fine if the airport weren't packed and someone was dropping something into MY trash can every five seconds. After awhile it became quite funny, at least to me, and I began to invite people into my office as they cautiously approached the trash can and its current resident attorney.

So the humor went out of that exercise when the maintenance guy came to change out the trash bin and when he opened the door I swooned from the smell. With a fully charged computer I relocated my office to one of the many airport bars. The world just isn't the same without double for a dollar more. It's just wrong to sit with one puny little glass of white wine sweating in front of me. Wrong I tell you. Wrong.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Do the chairs in your parlor look empty and bare?

As the entire world should know (and celebrate) today is the birthday of Elvis, or as those of us with style and class call him, The King.  Do yourself a favor and make at least one trip to Memphis to visit Graceland before you die.  It's just a ton of fun.  Not only can you tour the actual house where Elvis lived with the original decor (!), you can also tour his plane, the Lisa Marie, and visit his grave.  And the souvenirs available for sale are just fabulous.  So head to Memphis and pay your respects to The King.  Thankyouverymuch!

Haiku Hannah

*No explanation necessary for true fans of The King.

Monday, November 24, 2008

And no one's getting fat except Mama Cass

The Canadian Supreme Court ruled last week that obese people have the right to two seats for the price of one seat on Canadian flights.  The Canadian Transportation Agency had decided earlier that people "functionally disabled by obesity" (insert eye roll here) deserved to sit in two seats for the price of one seat.  Several Canadian airlines had appealed that decision to the Supreme Court which then declined to hear their appeal.  I can't believe I'm siding with the evil airlines on anything, but this is just ridiculous.  I think obese people have the right to two seats, but they need to be paying for that second seat.  Why can't tall people with long legs have the right to two seats for the price of one for more leg room?  Why can't people who need to spread out for work have the right to two tray tables for the price of one?  Why can't people who enjoy a freak free zone have the right to two seats for the price of one for more room from freaks?  (Sign me up for that one.)  Where does it end? 
-- Haiku Hannah

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rode hard and put up wet

Here is another example of how Hollywood is so much more savvy, wise, and articulate than the rest of us out here in flyover country.  (And they are so good with the hair and makeup as well!)

--Haiku Hannah

Friday, August 22, 2008

Chinese food IN CHINA?!

My friend Micah is in Beijing for the Olympics and the posts to his blog now actually have me interested in China (heretofore I was not interested in the least). If you're interested in the non-Olympic side of Beijing, his blog is

-- Clear Plastic Bag

Thursday, July 17, 2008

And melt with you

As I’ve mentioned before, I have to have my snacks when I travel. I don’t ever want to be stuck in a situation where I’m hungry and there is nothing to nosh. And I’m a messy eater by nature (I always have a Tide pen handy) and a germaphobe, so I like a relatively clean snack. Enter the Gerber Graduates Yogurt Melts for Toddlers. Yogurt Melts are freeze-dried whipped yogurt snacks. And they are delicious!! They come in strawberry, mixed berries and, my personal favorite, peach. I cannot recommend these enough. They taste great, aren’t messy at all and come in resealable packets perfect for traveling. You can find them in the baby food aisle at your local grocery store. (I will warn you right now though that the baby food aisle is usually full of squalling babies and their sleep-deprived mothers so tread lightly.) Give them a try and let me know what you think in the comments!

-- Haiku Hannah

Thursday, July 10, 2008

It may be years until the day my dreams will match up with my pay

According to the BBC, a 60 year old female beggar named Laxmi Das recently opened a back account (and qualified for a credit card) with 200 pounds of coins she had amassed after 44 years of begging on the streets of Calcutta, India. Her sister said she lived very frugally and saved most of her daily haul of coins. She saved the coins in iron buckets at her house in a shanty town. Police had encouraged her to deposit the coins in the bank to avoid becoming a victim of robbery.

Ms. Das says she saved the coins so they would be available to her when she was too old to beg. I love a woman with a plan!! Take a lesson from Ms. Das ladies and save for your retirement. You can't count on anyone else to take care of you. You have to take care of yourself!

And the next time you are traveling in India or even on the streets of your hometown and encounter a beggar, remember this story. Maybe they aren't just using it to buy alcohol. Maybe they have a pension plan!!

-- Haiku Hannah

Monday, July 7, 2008

Just 13 injured in Pamplona today? Shame.

Just because something is tradition doesn't mean it's a good tradition.

You're not Ernest Hemingway and running with the bulls isn't poetic, romantic, or brave. It's cruel and appalling.

PETA and its use of hypocritical celebrities pretty much grates my last nerve, but I appreciate any fight against the running of the bulls and traditional bullfights.

In the run today:

"Some of the bulls fell and two ended up running on their own. One of those became disoriented, trying several times to turn around and go back toward the starting point. But herders waving sticks eventually guided it to the bull ring where the course ends.

Inside the ring one black bull fell down and stayed there for nearly a minute, as jubilant runners scampered about." AP/Yahoo.

Nice. Well done, jubilant scampering runners. Very brave.

And what happens in the bull ring where the course ends?

It's not pretty.

-- Clear Plastic Bag

Ganja Queen: Bali, Bali bad for tourism?

This weekend I watched the "Ganja Queen" documentary about Schapelle Corby, a 27-year-old Australian woman busted for trying to bring marijuana into Bali (allegedly). In the event you have yet to see the documentary, I won't give anything away, but if convicted she could face the death penalty.

Do documentaries and films depicting people being punished for drug trafficking in particular countries affect whether you would ever visit that country?

My answer is yes. Yes, they do. And Alleve is the strongest drug I even get near.

-- Clear Plastic Bag

Friday, July 4, 2008

Dressed for Success(?) in Jasper

As some of you may remember, Japer, Texas, is a repeat destination for this High Flying Bird. While my previous trip was limited to the Ramada Inn and Andy’s Club, on this past visit, I experienced Jasper in all its summer sartorial splendor as I appeared in the 1st Judicial District Court of Jasper County, Texas.

So, what does a well-dressed lawyer wear in Jasper County in July? If you are a male, it’s seersucker, seersucker or seersucker. When I walked into the courtroom, there were four men dressed in light blue and khaki seersucker suits. Then there were the clients. What were the women attorneys wearing? Well, I was wearing a tan suit with a pink shirt. And leopard print shoes from Wal-Mart. Which brings me to the next question.

When you get to Jasper, the Jewel of the Forest but no shopping mecca, and realize at 7 a.m. that you have left your heels at home and your hearing starts in two hours, what do you do? Wear thongs with your suit? Or recall that there is a 24-hour Wal-Mart just down the road? I chose the latter course of action and decided to give Sam Walton’s shoe department a try. Between the tennis shoes, clogs and sandals, I came upon these little gems for a mere $12.74. Not my size, but ok because I won’t be wearing them for more than a couple of hours. Man-made soles and uppers that will likely begin squeeking with heavy wear, but only have to do for a short time for me. And my pants aren’t dragging the ground and I don’t totally look like I’m not wearing my own shoes. Leopard print is not necessarily what I would have picked for a Jasper courtroom, but most of the shoe is covered by the pant and I am not wearing thongs.

So off I go to court, where the Judge takes my motion under advisement, but does not admonish me for my footwear. In fact, one of the women—who had just obtained a D-I-V-O-R-C-E and was ready for some fun—actually complimented my kicks.

-- The Commish

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Our house was our castle and our keep

One of the lures of traveling to a foreign country is observing how the rest of the world lives compared to how you live. One way to get an insider’s view of housing conditions in foreign countries without leaving the comfort of your own home or spending a dime (except for the money you pay to your cable masters) is to watch House Hunters International on HGTV. This show follows people as they look for a home to buy in foreign countries. It is fascinating. You would not believe what passes for a kitchen or a bathroom in some foreign countries. I thought I had the world’s smallest kitchen until I saw the size of one in an apartment in Paris on a recent episode. Tiny doesn’t begin to describe it. It gave me a whole new perspective on my tiny apartment. It’s only tiny by American standards. I’m living large by Hong Kong and Parisian standards baby!!

-- Haiku Hannah

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What Can Your Bra Do for You?

A 24-year-old American hiker stranded in the Bavarian Alps for nearly three days was rescued last Thursday after using a unique SOS signal. Jessica Bruinsma was located after she attracted the attention of lumberjacks by attaching her sports bra to a cable used to move timber down the mountain. According to Berchtesgaden police officer Lorenz Rasp, “She’s a very smart girl, and she acted very resourcefully,” said Rasp. “She kept her shirt and jacket for warmth, but thought the sports bra could work as a signal.”

Bruinsma, who is training for a marathon, went missing June 16 after losing her way in bad weather while hiking with a friend near the Austrian border. She fell 16.4 feet to a rocky overhang, where she spent the next 70 hours on the narrow ledge, sustained by water that she found by breaking into a supply box on the ledge. She badly bruised a leg and dislocated a shoulder in the fall, and the cliff was too isolated for her to climb free, Rasp said.

So there you have it—even if you don’t have flares or a mirror or a way to build a signal fire when you’re lost, you’ve got a way to point out your location as long as you’re wearing underwear! What other uses could a sports bra be put to in a pinch? Would you have thought to use it as a signal flag and send it down a German mountain?

-- The Commish

Monday, June 23, 2008

24 hours in L.A. or how a city stopped serving me attitude and really started serving me

I just returned from a whirlwind 24 hours in Los Angeles. This is a city I have visited dozens of times for work and for fun, but this trip took the record for quickest turnaround time. As it turned out, this proved to be one of my most enjoyable trips as well. When in L.A., my stomping ground is typically West Hollywood. This trip, we stayed at The Grafton on Sunset. Although its stylish glory has faded somewhat, the hotel is perfectly located and the staff could not have been any nicer.

We stopped by Gordon Ramsay’s new restaurant at The London West Hollywood. In concert with the hotel, the restaurant is absolutely gorgeous. We just sat at the bar for cocktails and a snack from the bar menu. The luxe white and brass and dark wood surroundings would have been enough, but the scallop starter we had now ranks in our top 10 best bites ever. We so completely freaked out about the dish, the bartender brought the chef (not Gordon Ramsay) out so we could discuss in detail. The staff could not have been any friendlier. What’s happening to you L.A.? You’ve stopped serving me attitude, and just started serving me.

After finally making ourselves leave the London, we had dinner at Take Sushi. Located on Sunset near North Vicente, it’s a just a skinny slip of a place. Right around the corner from the Viper Room and across the street from the Whiskey, our neighbors at the sushi bar were eyeliner-rimmed, tattoo-sleeved rockers. Absolute seminal L.A. rocker perfection. (And the sushi was delicious and shockingly inexpensive).

Time for a disco nap (and then the remaining 12 hours).

-- Clear Plastic Bag

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I want candy

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned my love of all things candy to you before. Well, you can add another candy-themed destination to your list of places to go. The Island Fudge Shoppe in Hilton Head, South Carolina is a must visit. All their fudge is to die for, and they offer 16 varieties (it’s a fudgeapalooza!!). I’m particularly partial to the peanut butter fudge. It’s HEAVEN. Heaven, I say! Craving some delicious fudge but nowhere near Hilton Head? Never fear, dear readers. You can order online!! Give it a shot. Your girl Hannah won’t steer you wrong when it comes to the candy!!

-- Haiku Hannah

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Then and Now

Having been fascinated with the idea of Cuban travel after Castro's resignation, this story couldn't help but catch my eye.

Do you remember where you were that fateful Easter morning in 2000 when federal agents stormed the home of Elian Gonzalez's relatives on the orders of Janet Reno? What a brouhaha that caused! But what else was there to do? His cousin Marisleysis famously told a Justice Department community relations officer, “You think we just have cameras in the house? If people try to come in, they could be hurt.” The family was not just going to obey the orders of the United States government—the government of the country that they presumably felt was far superior to that of Cuba. Did they think we had no laws at all?

But now look who’s all grown up—Elian has joined Cuba's Young Communist Union. While the story has gotten some press, there haven’t really been any retrospectives or comparisons of what Elian is or could have been. Funny how things that can get people so riled up at the time have ways of fading. . .

-- The Commish

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Coffee, Tea or Humiliation?

The Transportation Security Administration is installing security scanners that can see through your clothing with millimeter wave whole body imaging in 10 U.S. airports (they forsee installation in 30 airports by the end of 2008). Random passengers (that means you big-boobed blonde) will be shut in a glass booth while a three-dimensional image is made of your body beneath your clothes. And, yes, the scanners will reveal your sexual organs and all sorts of other details about your body, but don't fret because your face is blurred! USA Today quotes James Schear, the TSA security director at Baltimore-Washington International Airport as saying that with the detailed pictures "(y)ou can actually see the sweat on someone's back."

This guy is such a comfort!

Reportedly, you are allowed to choose between the "harmless" millimeter wave scan and the traditional pat down.

While the TSA says, basically, eh, it's no big deal, the ACLU (probably not surprisingly) says we'd all be shocked if we saw what they saw.

The Dallas Morning News has an image from one of these types of scans on their website. Take a look.

So, will you be a scanner or a patter?

-- Clear Plastic Bag

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Six for One

The number of gadgets that I travel with today has increased exponentially since the days I boarded a plane with nothing but my battery-operated Walkman cassette player and a couple of mixed tapes. These days, I need my cell phone, Blackberry, iPod and PlayStation Portable, all with their various chargers so that I don’t run out of juice at a critical moment (particularly when playing a game that will send me back to the beginning to kill the Soviets all over again). But who wants to pack all those adapters and cords? They could take up half of your carry-on!

Enter the chargepod! This little gadget has one AC/DC adapter that plugs into a hub with 6 spokes. You can get the right cord to go from the hub to your phone, iPod, etc. . . Not only have you done away with individual power systems, but you can also plug everything in and charge it all at the same time, so you don’t need multiple outlets, either. And it really doesn’t take any longer to charge them all than it would if you plugged them in by themselves.

The chargepod is not cheap, but with American Airlines now charging $15 for the first checked bag, we need all the extra space we can find in our carry-ons! Skymall sells a bundle that includes the AC/DC adapter, hub and 6 of the most popular cords for $99.95. But I recommend that you go straight to callpod’s website and customize your own: It’s a little more expensive, but you’ll get the right equipment for each of your electronic gadgets. Both systems also come with a handy pouch for storage and packing.

-- The Commish

D.C. or Austin? Wherever You Go, Come to Play

I want to thank Kay Bailey Hutchison for once again proving that she is the loser of all losers. MSNBC just asked her if she would like to be John McCain’s running mate (there’s been a lot of talk of getting a woman to run with McCain to grab some of the angry Hillary voters) and KBH replied, “John McCain has a long list of great people to choose a Vice-President from; I do not want to be on that list.”

The thing that irritates me is that Kay Bailey got into this game, and we all supported her – as a woman, as a conservative. She’s in the starting line-up because we have repeatedly put her there, but she refuses to really get in there and play. She hasn’t made any impressive moves in the Senate; she just shows up every now and then to support something a Texas man has done. In fact, she spends most of her time in that most important of positions whining about how she doesn’t really want to be a Senator and maybe she’ll just come home and run for Governor (where we already have a conservative in place, thank you very much Kay Bailey). And now, when she could: (1) help the Republicans actually win the presidency in what is going to be one of the most difficult battles of our lifetime; and (2) make history for women by possibly being the first woman Vice-President, she’s just not interested.

That’s great Kay, come back home to Dallas and throw tea parties with your society friends. But will you please, please, please, hurry up and vacate your seat so we can get a woman from Texas up there who gives a you-know-what about what we are trying to do? We have wasted almost 30 years hoping you would do something, and that’s our bad – you’ve made it clear for years now that you’re just up in D.C. socializing and have no interest beyond supporting oil company legislation, adopting kids and shopping for old lady suits to wear with your collection of brooches. At least have the decency now to move over and make room for someone who cares.

And for those women out there who love-love-love Kay Bailey and hate-hate-hate Hillary Clinton, you must, at least, admit this: Hillary came to play.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Not Going Swiss

I've had a representative from the Swiss investment firm UBS hounding me for my money. He was awfully young and cute, and I was seriously thinking about giving him a crack at earning me some money. Well, I have just found out a few things about UBS that I didn't know. Of course, I'm talking about this DOJ investigation into the UBS and Phil Gramm dealings. But in researching that, I also found out about the 2006 $100 million fine the U.S regulators hit UBS with, for transferring dollars to Iran and Cuba against U.S. sanctions and then trying to hide the transactions. I've also seen the resulting lawsuits alleging that UBS's actions have helped fund Hezbollah, Hamas, and other Islamic terrorist organizations.
I've never liked the Swiss much - this neutral stuff is just a facade to do business with everyone, including all the criminal regimes, across the globe and their theft of Jewish billions following the Holocaust is despicable. Still, I don't know how much of the latest allegations are true - I guess we'll see - but the $100 million dollar fine for doing business with Iran is proof to me of UBS's egregious anti-American wrongdoing, and I won't send one nickel of my money to UBS because of it.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

AA and Customer Service: An Oxymoron

I recently flew to Atlanta on everyone’s favorite airline, American, and the experience was not to be missed. First, AA cancelled the flight immediately before mine. The gate agent announced that my flight was already oversold, and that everyone from the cancelled flight was automatically on the standby list, so no passengers should need to speak with her. Apparently, some concerned customers actually did feel the need to confirm what was going to happen with their travel plans, and others wanted to check on their seat assignments. After about 10 minutes of a steady, but by no means overwhelming line, the gate agent made a new announcement. This time, in no uncertain terms, she decreed that no passengers were to ask her if they were standby or for a seat change. “If we don’t have time to ‘work the flight’ because you keep asking for assistance, the plane may go out with empty seats, and that will be your problem.” Being confirmed on the flight, I was not terribly concerned with this new directive, but isn’t dealing with customers’ questions the gate agent’s job?

Once we got past the gate agent, the flight attendants were even more prickly. As always, they announced that there was limited carry-on space, so to utilize the seat in front, etc. . . But then they went a step farther—we were instructed that if we got on the plane with a carry-on bag that would not fit in the overhead bin or under the seat, then it would be checked not on our flight, but on the next flight out! Since when has that been the policy?! And the carry-on situation is only going to get worse, with the new baggage charges.

Seems to me that the customer service agents employed by AA are becoming even less worried about the customers and service than ever before. They have always been less than helpful, but never simply declared that they were not going to help at all, so don’t even ask. And what else do they have to do during the boarding process besides deal with carry-on baggage?

The final straw was the pilot’s unnecessary announcement that we were going to arrive in Atlanta 10 minutes early, which we certainly did. But only so that we could sit on the tarmac and wait for a gate. Early arrivals are the greatest lie in the aviation industry today. . .

While en route, though, I sat next to a recent graduate of Texas A&M who wanted to talk. I indulged her for a few minutes, during which I learned that she was working at her first job out of college and she really, really liked it because the people were all really, really nice to her and the window of the office faced downtown and the refrigerator was stocked with cokes. Oh, to be young and Gen Y. . . On the way back from Atlanta, I sat next to a guy who announced to me that he’d had to pee since Alabama, but that’s a story for another time. . .

-- The Commish

Thursday, May 29, 2008

And after she packed, when she looked back, there were no tears in her eyes, and that’s got me worried thinking maybe my baby’s gotten good at goodbye

I have a confession to make. I’m an over-packer. I have been all my life. I remember when I was little and one of my sisters gave me her old, beat-up school backpack to play with, and I used it to pretend I was a (wait for it) backpacker. Even then, I had a hard time getting the backpack to close because I had packed so much stuff for me and my doll. Several years ago I was seriously making efforts to reform and vowed to become one of those people who never checked a bag. I bought a small rolling suitcase (easy for fitting in overhead bins) and managed to carry it on with everything I needed for a weekend trip to Dallas. I was so proud of myself. But that was just before the great airplane liquid restriction of 2006. I can do without a lot of clothes, but I need my liquids people!! It takes a lot of stuff to look this average! So I gave up my quest and went back to checking my bags and consequently, over packing. Lately though, I’ve been embarrassed by the amount of stuff I require for a weekend trip and sick of waiting in fear wondering if my luggage will emerge at the baggage . So I’m taking up the quest once again. I just ordered a ton of mini-storage containers from The Container Store to make it easier to fit all my liquids into the ever so tiny (to a product hag anyway) plastic quart bag. I’m trying to figure out as many powder and non-liquid substitutes for the numerous potions it takes to achieve my supreme average-ness. I, Haiku Hannah, over-packer extraordinaire, vow to pare down, de-liquefy and CARRY ON!! We can’t let the terrorists win!

--Haiku Hannah

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

FreeDUMB Awards

Et tu Southwest? Even our darling Southwest Airlines has gone to the dark side. Trying to book a quick trip to Los Angeles using Rapid Rewards Award and have been indoctrinated into the painful world of their new "Freedom Awards" and having to use TWO (that's 2 "A" coupons and 2 "B" coupons) awards for the trip because of new seat restrictions but, geez Wally, I can convert my 2 Rapid Rewards into 1 Freedom Award and I'm not subjected to the restrictions. Per Southwest, it's "a great new Award travel option for Rapid Rewards Members".

No, it's not. NO IT IS NOT!

I miss the good old days of $3 gas and simple Rapid Reward awards.

- Clear Plastic Sad Bag

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Austin, Texas: No. 1 + A Travel Warning

A "Top 10" list was recently released naming the top Memorial Day destinations. You can read the complete list on, but for those of you already loading up the iPod with Haiku Hannah's song recommendations and heading to the list's #1 destination, Austin, Texas, be aware of the following:

Austin, Texas is a Stinking Hellhole of Sin (and Putrification)

I live here and those intellectuals and their spirit (and canvas bags) will slow down the line at the grocery store.

- Clear Plastic Bag

The living is easy

Memorial Day is fast approaching, and it has always signaled the start of summer to me. I’m all giddy at the prospect. Even though I’m many, many years out of school and working for the man, it’s just not as painful in the summer. In honor of the rapidly approaching good times, here is a playlist to get us all excited and in the summer mood!!

School’s Out – Alice Cooper (School’s out FOREVER!!)
Summertime – Josh Rouse
Holiday – Madonna (It’s time for the good times, forget about the bad times)
The Sea - Morcheeba
Summer Love / Set the Mood (Prelude) – Justin Timberlake
The Summer Wind – Frank Sinatra
Gimme Some Loving – The Spencer Davis Group (No it’s not about summer, but I always thought they were saying “Gimme summer loving” growing up so it’s in.)
Magic - The Cars
Summer Madness – Kool & the Gang
Beyond the Sea – Bobby Darin
Cruel Summer - Bananarama
Theme from A Summer Place – Percy Faith
Summer in the City – The Lovin’ Spoonful
Summer Breeze – Seals and Croft (makes me feel fine)
Ocean City Girl - Ivy
Surfing U.S.A. – Beach Boys (Tell the teacher we’re surfing)
Summertime – DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
So Nice (Summer Samba) – Bebel Gilberto
Summer Sun – Koop
Hot Fun in the Summertime – Sly & The Family Stone (and everything, it’s cool, ooh yeah)

Have a great Memorial Day!!

-- Haiku Hannah

Friday, May 16, 2008

SPF (Sun Protection Freak)

Pale and freckled, I do my best to avoid the sun but the reality of living in Texas is that the sun is gonna getcha, girl. I never leave the house without sunblock. The one time I did, I panicked and pulled a bag over my head and shortly thereafter a new neighbor came by to introduce himself and I'm standing there with a canvas grocery bag (I'm "green"!) on my head (the purple handles did create a stylish flair, though). I've tried a variety of products, but Neutrogena just came out with my current go-to SPF, their Age Shield Face Sunblock SPF 70. I've been using it for about two weeks and while July and August will be the true test, I have sweated and, so far, it hasn't done the usual burning lava run into the eyes. I read one review where the woman said she quit using it because it left some white streaks and she had to check the mirror after she put it on to make sure she had rubbed all those in. Oh the humanity! Not that! I've had several skin cancers removed (most courtesy of a spectacular chest burn received at a Red Hot Chili Peppers outdoor concert) and a little white SPF white streak should not be a deterrent. You should put any SPF on at least 15-20 minutes before going outside and give it a chance to soak in a bit. Check the mirror then. The Age Shield can give you a bit of a mildly kabuki appearance initially but once it's had a chance to mellow for about 15 minutes, either it goes away or, pehaps, I've ceased to care. All in all highly recommended. If you're on your way to a fabulous beach vacation or just out mowing your yard (c'est moi!), I highly recommend the Neutrogena Age Shield Sunblock.

- Clear Plastic Bag

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hey soft bones I'm just carrying on an old family tradition

The Billy Carter Service Station Museum is now open in Plains, Georgia. The museum is in the renovated service station where Billy loved to entertain the media during his brother's time as President. Jimmy first proposed the idea for the museum and made a donation of $50,000 to kick off the project. While I don't personally care for that attention-seeking-Hamas-loving-international-buttinsky Jimmy, I always thought Billy seemed like a fun guy (who can forget Billy Beer). So the next time I'm in the vicinity of Plains, I'll be sure to check the new museum out. You should too.

-- Haiku Hannah

Monday, May 12, 2008

Just eat it

USA Today had an interesting article recently on the veritable tossed salad of rules created by the Department of Agriculture and enforced by Customs and Border Protection that regulate what foodstuffs you can and cannot bring into the U.S. For example you can bring in fungus routed by pigs in France, but you cannot bring in canned corned beef from Ireland. You can bring in kangaroo jerky from Australia, but not chorizo from Spain. Parmesan? Yes. Brie? No. Cheddar? Yes. Ricotta? No. Read the entire article here, but before doing so enjoy Tina Fey's sandwich or love dilemma at an airport security gate:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Come fly with me

I had to change planes at Chicago's Midway Airport last Friday night. Was I ever pleasantly surprised. Apparently they have made major renovations, and it might be my favorite airport now.

1. I had to go from concourse A to concourse B which we all know can be dicey when you don't have a ton of time between flights. Well, Midway has more of those moving sidewalk thingies (yes, that is a technical airline term) than any airport I've ever been in. If only they could renovate the idiot masses who can't quite follow the instructions that if you are standing on the moving sidewalk you should stay TO THE EFFING RIGHT so the walkers can pass ON THE EFFING LEFT. Despite the idiots in my way, I made it from one concourse to the other in no time and had great people watching along the way.

2. The ladies rooms were pretty fabulous as airport restrooms go (which admittedly isn't a very high standard of comparison). There were walls and doors in the stalls that went almost all the way to the floor (probably a reaction to Tappin' Larry Craig) and plenty of hooks to hang all your bags on.

3. There are plenty of restaurants and shops to choose from along your moving sidewalk way. I'm always unpleasantly surprised by the sad selection at some major airports.

4. At the gate area there are counters with seating and electrical outlets set up for recharging your electronics and surfing the internet. There was also plenty of regular seating at the gates even with a busy Friday night crowd.

All in all, I'd have to give Midway two big Hannah thumbs up.

-- Haiku Hannah

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Who Needs A Tetanus Shot?

High Flying Birds about to go off on fascinating adventures, that’s who! And you may need a Hepatitis, yellow fever or Japanese encephalitis vaccine, as well!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an astonishing amount of information on the Traveler’s Health section of its website: You can go there and click on your destination and see immediately what medications and vaccinations you may need to get before packing your knapsack and grabbing your flight. If you are going to Italy or most any other European country, the CDC recommends that you make sure all of your routine vaccinations are up to date, such as measles/mumps/rubella, diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis (whooping cough) and polio, and also suggests the Hepatitis B vaccine if you plan to sleep with the local population. (The CDC actually recommends Hepatitis B for anyone not in a long-term relationship. Who knew?) For the more adventurous traveler off to places such as Belize or Brazil, you might want to get the Hepatitis A to go along with the B, regardless of how you plan to spend your evenings, as those countries have intermediate to high levels of endemic Hepatitis B virus transmission. Typhoid and yellow fever vaccines should also be on the list, depending on exactly what adventure you are planning. And before you fly off to assist the cyclone victims in Myanmar, throw in a Japanese encephalitis shot, as well! The site also contains Travel Notices and other safety and security information for your destinations, as well as myriad tips on what over-the-counter health aids you should pack.

Once you have decided that you need some vaccinations, where to go? Why, your state or county health department, that’s where! The CDC also provides a handy link to those: My recent experience with the Dallas County Health Department was remarkably quick and easy. The nurses were knowledgeable about the required vaccines and seemed genuinely interested in my upcoming vacation. One even told me she had the best job in the city, because she got to all over the world through the people who came to the clinic!

Even if you are not traveling anywhere exotic, it’s probably a good idea for all High Flying Birds to remember to keep up with routine vaccinations. You don’t want to ruin your trip to New York or Vegas or even Oklahoma City because the guy across the aisle from you has whooping cough...

-- The Commish

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

TripAdvisor's Traveler IQ Challenge

How well do you know the world? Don't get started on this challenge unless you're at peace with wasting time and acknowledging that your geography skills may el sucko.

Take the Traveler IQ Challenge!

-- Clear Plastic Bag

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Beware the PNR

Last fall my six-year-old niece was selling magazine subscriptions for a fundraiser at her school. I had just reupped on my National Geographic Adventure magazine, Vanity Fair wasn’t offered, and another kid had already gotten me for Sports Illustrated. So I decided to try Frommer’s Budget Travel. It’s a really interesting read, with lots of lists, such as the 10 greatest tourist traps and the best airport bars. Of course, most of those bars were in places like Sidney, Australia, and Tokyo.

This month, there was a column featuring confessions of an airline agent. Apparently, they really don’t know when there are flight delays because all of the computer systems run independently of each other and frequently there is no internet access at the gate! And, of course, it always pays to be really, really nice to them if you want a shot at getting your upgrade or a ticket on another flight when yours is cancelled.

More importantly, however, for High Flying Birds, ticket agents are always updating Passenger Name Records, or PNRs. These computer files, which contain basic details on passengers’ trips, are accessible to most agents at check-in counters and departure gates. Agents generally use PNRs to record special requests by passengers, but sometimes they also comment on a person’s behavior. A friend of the agent's discovered this after she had a heated argument with a ticket agent about getting an upgrade on a flight to London. When she reached her gate and inquired again, the agent remarked on her "inappropriate behavior" at check-in, and the friend was stuck with her economy-class seat.

The details in PNRs are also fodder for airline-employee gossip, especially when shocking behavior is involved. Passengers once complained about a woman breast-feeding her Chihuahua on board a flight, and an airport supervisor in the arrival city put the incident in her PNR. Within hours, a gate agent came upon the PNR and shared it with countless other agents across the country. In fact, the agent noted, she and her former colleagues still talk about it to this day!

You can read the whole article here:

You might also want to check out this on-line exclusive list of the world’s weirdest hotels:

-- The Commish

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Big D
Lock up your bouncers
kiss your season goodbye 'cause
Pacman is coming.

Oh little dollar
why are you so weak and frail
ass kicked by euro.

Pollen on my car
sharp numbing pain in my head
spring is a beyotch.

My longed for beach trip
bright shining hope through winter
will never get here.

--Haiku Hannah

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ain't that lonely yet

Two Australian newspapers, the Herald Sun and The Sunday Telegraph, are reporting that author Thomas Kohnstamm has claimed to have made up parts of the travel guides he wrote for Lonely Planet. Kohnstamm has since backtracked from those remarks and claims they were taken out of context. (Maybe he should be running for president.) He says that most travel writers aren’t able to visit all of the places about which they write. Okay, what up with dat? If I’m relying on a travel guide, I want the author to have actually set foot in the location. Am I in the minority here? We’re not talking about writing fiction here people. It’s a TRAVEL GUIDE for crying out loud.
--Haiku Hannah

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Is AmNorDelConU Air Just Around the Corner?

We’ve all heard about the proposed merger between Northwest and Delta, but what exactly does it mean for High Flying Birds? First, travelers can expect fewer deals and higher fares on some routes, because it could trigger a wave of consolidation within the airline industry. Continental Airlines has reportedly had talks with the parent companies of both United and American. And “[a]ny type of reduction in competition is not good for consumers,” according to the CEO of, a price-finding Web site. Airlines generally try to keep flights as full as possible, and the proposed new carrier would likely continue that trend by decreasing the number of flights to the same locations, according to industry experts. Fuller planes and fewer available seats, in turn, would allow airlines to cut back on the supply of cheapest seats, charging more on average per seat. Check to see the cities on which US News believes the Delta-Northwest, or a potential Continental-United, merger will have the most impact. Looks like High Flying Birds in Minneapolis, Detroit and Memphis are going to be the big losers.

Second, combined with Northwest, Delta will be the #1 airline in the United States; #1 U. S. carrier to Japan; #1 U. S. carrier across Europe; #1 U. S. carrier in Africa; #1 U. S. carrier in the Middle East and India; #2 U. S. carrier in Asia; and the #2 U. S. carrier in Latin America. How long will American stand for that? Might we see a Continental-United-American merger? That can only bode ill for fares and choices in air travel. How about if all 5 of the big boys merge and we just have one national airline?

At the same time, however, the price of jet fuel has risen 55% in the past few months, while fares have only increased by 6%. Industry analysts say the fares must increase in order to offset the cost of fuel, but obviously cannot absorb the entire increase.

Regardless of whether we may or may not be in a recession, and whether airplanes will or will not fly based on the whim of the FAA, travelers so far have not indicated that they are going to decrease their air travel anytime soon. What effect do you think the merger and increased cost of jet fuel will have on your travels?

-- The Commish