It's summer travel time again! It's kind of ironic that,
this week, I've been off in central Illinois on a business trip.
So I'm putting on a few miles this week, too. Not exactly
vacation travel, though, since I've just been running around from
one customer to another all week -- and from one road
construction delay to another. In this part of the world, summer
also means that all of the roads are ripped up for construction.
It's a tradition. I used to think that they did all of the road
work in summer just because of the cold winters here. Now I'm
not so sure. I could just as easily convince myself that all the
detouring is done just to get people off the expressways so the
sweet corn stands and tourist trash places do better business.
Thanks to the folks we've met along the road this week,
including: Laura Hong Li (& thanks for the Chinese food!),
Nnamdi Elleh, Sachiko Sumida, Sue Yan & Carlos Gallegos, Timothy
McChain, Dale Frederickson, Toshi & Yukari Kawabata, Carol
Becwar, Don Ney, Naomi Ogawa, Alison Becwar, Kathleen Beckmann,
Beth Butler, Bob Martens, Jerry Taff, Ellen Peterson and Tadashi
Umezawa. Thanks to all of you for your contributions, and a
special salute to all of you who sent congratulations on last
week's hundredth Funnies. I realize now that I missed an
opportunity this week... SUNFUN #101 would have been a perfect
time to do a Funnies about poetry. Well, maybe next time. For
now -- time to get back on the road.
Have a great week (and a good trip)!
BILL CLINTON STUCK WITH HILLARY -- FILM AT 10!
On their recent trip to China, Bill and Hillary Clinton made
many stops in interesting and historic places. They also made
one completely unintended stop -- in Hong Kong's convention
center where a computer malfunction trapped the president's party
in an elevator for nearly 10 minutes.
Clinton had just finished speaking to business leaders at
the convention center and was leaving with his wife and White
House chief of staff Erskine Bowles when the incident occurred.
It took Secret Service agents some time to pry open the doors to
release the presidential party.
Clinton joked about the malfunction, which was blamed on
[ In a related development, Special
Prosecutor Kenneth Starr has subpoenaed the
manager of the convention center, three
hundred Hong Kong business leaders, the
president of the Otis Elevator Company and
two elevator repair man to "tell what they
know" about Clinton's whereabouts. ]
Speaking of glitches, Kuala Lumpur International Airport,
the brand new, $2.25 billion airport in Malaysia, was supposed to
be an example of how high technology could run an airport. It
is, but not exactly the way the designers intended. The new
airport got off to an embarrassing start when infestations of
rats and repeated technical problems hit shortly after the
airport opened. The rodent problems have caused flights to be
delayed, with one flight held for nearly 15 hours while
exterminators searched through the plane.
And if it wasn't rats causing delays, it was bugs --
software bugs, that is. The simultaneous failure of the new
airport's computer systems meant that check-in information had to
be hand-written, none of the flight information screens would
work and baggage had to be hand-sorted by an army of volunteers.
"We're doing our best here, we've got so many people and
volunteers using their bare hands to do what the computer should
be doing," said Shaharuddin Yusoff, the acting manager at KLIA
for Malaysia Airlines (MAS).
Thousands of passengers filed complaints about lost luggage,
but airport officials believe that all of the bags are right
there in the airport -- somewhere. (Reuters)
[ And just wait until their computers hit
January 1, 2000. ]
LOST LUGGAGE, TOO ...
At least the airport officials in Malaysia have some idea
where the lost bags are hiding. Not so lucky was a group of
passengers on a flight from Lagos, Nigeria that ran into rats of
another kind. In June, a group of bandits drove up to a plane
awaiting takeoff on the the taxiway at Murtala Mohammed Airport
and pried open the cargo hold. The gang made off with luggage
and other cargo while passengers and crew on the plane were
helpless to stop them, and the modern-day Jesse James Gang got
away before they were caught.
Here are some comments taken from cards and registration
sheets filled out by backpackers in U.S. National Forests in
- Trails need to be wider so people can walk while holding
- Instead of a permit system or regulations, the Forest
Service needs to reduce worldwide population growth to limit
the number of visitors to wilderness.
- Ban walking sticks in wilderness. Hikers that use walking
sticks are more likely to chase animals.
- Found a smoldering cigarette left by a horse.
- Trail needs to be reconstructed. Please avoid building
trails that go uphill.
- Too many bugs and leaches and spiders and spider webs.
Please spray the wilderness to rid the area of these pests.
- Please pave the trails so they can be plowed of snow during
- Chair lifts need to be in some places so that we can get to
wonderful views without having to hike to them.
- The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me
awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals.
- A small deer came into my camp and stole my jar of pickles.
Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call xxx-xxxx.
- Reflectors need to be placed on trees every 50 feet so
people can hike at night with flashlights.
- Escalators would help on steep uphill sections.
- Need more signs to keep area pristine.
- A McDonald's would be nice at the trailhead.
- The places where trails do not exist are not well marked.
- I brought lots of sandwich makings, but forgot bread. If
you have extra bread, leave it in the yellow tent at V Lake.
- Too many rocks in the mountains.
The owner of a tourist trap in West Virginia decided to go
out of business because the state won't put up signs advertising
his tourist trap so people could find it. The name of this hard
luck, hard-to-find enterprise? "The Lost World."
[ But then it wouldn't have been lost... ]
WHERE IN THE WORLD?
Travel agents have a tough job. Not that they are out
breaking rocks or hauling construction materials, but they do
have to deal with the public while trying to cope with an airline
ticketing system that's like something out of a Monty Python
"Yes, I can get that for you for $200 if you leave Monday at
2:35AM and if you buy your ticket two weeks in advance, but not if
you stay less than three days or leave before the weekend, except
on Friday when there's a surcharge of $20 unless you are booked
for business class travel and only if your flight is to a hub
city and the moon is in the last part of it's waning phase."
No wonder people end up a little confused. The following
are actual stories told by travel agents about their experiences
(and you wonder why US citizens generally score lower than the
rest of the world in geography):
- A client called in inquiring about a package to Hawaii.
After going over all the cost info, she asked, "Would it be
cheaper to fly to California and then take the train to
- I got a call from a man who asked, "Is it possible to see
England from Canada?" I said, "No." "But they look so
close on the map."
- A secretary called in looking for a hotel in Los Angeles.
She gave me various names from a list, none of which I could
find. Finally, I had her fax me the list. To my surprise,
it was a list of hotels in New Orleans, Louisiana (which has
the state abbreviation LA). She thought the LA stood for
Los Angeles and that New Orleans was a suburb of L.A.
- A man called, furious about a Florida package we did. I
asked what was wrong with the vacation in Orlando. He said
he was expecting an ocean-view room. I tried to explain
that that's not possible, since Orlando is in the middle of
the state. He replied, "Don't lie to me. I looked on the
map and Florida is a very thin state."
- I got a call from a woman who wanted to go to Capetown. I
started to explain the length of the flight and the passport
information when she interrupted me: "I'm not trying to
make you look stupid, but Capetown is in Massachusetts."
Without trying to make her look foolish, I calmly explained,
"Cape Cod is in Massachusetts, Capetown is in Africa." She
- Another man called and asked if he could rent a car in
Dallas. When I pulled up the reservation, I noticed he had
only a one hour layover there. When I asked him why he
wanted to rent a car, he said, "I heard Dallas is a big
airport and I need a car to drive between the gates to save
- A nice lady just called. She needed to know how it was
possible that her flight from Detroit left at 8:20 AM and
got into Chicago at 8:33 AM. I tried to explain that
Michigan was an hour ahead of Illinois, but she just
couldn't understand the concept of time zones. Finally I
told her the plane went very, very fast. THAT she believed!
- A woman called and asked, "Do airlines put your physical
description on your bag so they know whose luggage belongs
to who?" It turned out that she had travelled to Fresno,
California, the airport code for which is "FAT."
- I just got off the phone with a man who asked, "How do I
know which plane to get on?" I asked him what exactly he
meant, to which he replied, "I was told my flight number is
823, but none of these planes have numbers on them."
- A woman called and said, "I need to fly to Pepsi-Cola on one
of those computer planes." I asked if she meant to fly to
Pensacola on a commuter plane. She said, "Yeah, whatever."
- A businessman called and had a question about the documents
he needed in order to fly to China. After a lengthy
discussion about passports, I reminded him he needed a visa.
"Oh no I don't, I've been to China many times and never had
to have one of those." I double checked and, sure enough,
his stay required a visa. When I told him this, he said,
"Look, I've been to China 4 times and every time they have
accepted my American Express."
THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN SPEAKING...
- I flew on Ryan Air recently, just as the plane started
moving backwards the South African captain announced on the
intercom: "Tally ho! Chocks away!!"
- Once on a flight from Houston to Mexico City, the captain
gave the takeoff announcement as: "This is Continental
Airways Flight XXX direct to Mexico City. We will be
departing in 5 minutes. If Mexico City is not in your
travel plans, this might be good time to speak to one of the
© 1998 by Bill Becwar. All Rights Reserved.