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Cowboy Commandments to Air Travel

For those of you that are regular readers, I will warn you that this is not my normal beef industry related post. But more of an open letter to the thousands of people at airports who cause my blood pressure to rise on a regular basis and have threatened my faith in humanity. To the rest of you, I hope you can still enjoy and maybe learn something.

I am frequent flyer at Denver International Airport to the point that airport parking attendants and TSA officers know me by name (with TSA pat downs the way they are, they should probably buy me dinner too). In my trips, there are a lot of people flying that are inexperienced in air travel and it takes a while to get used to the procedures. The most frustrating part for those of us that fly often is that most of these people also completely lack common sense and manners. It is as if all regard for others goes out the window when they step into the airport. They’ve got places to go and the rest of us are in their way.

So for those of you that haven’t flown in a while, the following can serve as a guide through the process. For those that fit into the second category, this guide will stop people in the airport from giving you the evil eye and wishing they still had their toe nail clippers to see if they could be used as a weapon.

1.       Thou shalt be calm and remain that way. Everyone going through the airport is headed somewhere important as well, so don’t think you are more important than they are. The flight personnel are there to help you get on your flight, they will try to help if you give them the time to help. Just relax. If you checked in on time and security is slow that day, they will typically hold the plane for you. It has happened to me more than once. The only person slowing you down is you. If you act anxious and in a hurry in the security line, you are asking for a patented TSA pat down and the rest of us will be glad to see you get one.

2.       Thou shalt be on time and prepared. Like anything else in life, showing up ON TIME is half the battle. I recommend getting to the airport an hour before boarding time (instead of take-off), so you have time to park, ride the shuttle, check bags, get through security, find the gate, grab a bite, etc. The other half is being prepared. Check your flight status and security wait times. If you can check in online, it usually saves time and hassle. Eat something (preferably not Mexican food) before you get there if you don’t want to spend money on overpriced food.

3.       Thou shalt dress thyself and thy children appropriately. I’ve been in airports in 35 states and 3 countries, and the temperature in every single one was between 70-75 degrees F. You don’t need a coat; just put them in the bag. Your belt, jewelry, shoes, cell phones, wallets, etc. all have to go through the screener, so please just put them in your bag when going through security. Save us all a lot of time and hassle. That goes double for your young children. Every time I fly out of Denver, there is some young couple at security with their 3.5 children that they are trying to get wrangled through security. Organization will save major time and headaches, as will slip-on shoes or boots.

4.       Thou shalt pack appropriately. Ladies, this means please don’t try to push that 50 pound bag weight limit. Half of you will be repacking at the check-in because you are two pounds over, and the people behind you won’t be happy. Have your carry-on packed so that you can get your laptops and such that have to go through the scanner easily. Despite the TSA agents at every airport listing off the things to take out before you go through the scanner, I bet a quarter of travelers leave their laptop, camera, toiletry items (aka the stuff they were just telling you about) in the bag.

5.       Thou shalt read the signs. I would swear that a third of America must be illiterate, judging by people in airports. As soon as you enter an airport, there are signs telling you where to go, what to do and how to make things simpler. But despite ten different signs in three different languages saying all shoes must be removed, people keep walking into the metal detector with their shoes on. You can blame Richard Reid, TSA, and the rest of the world or you can read the sign and put your shoes in the tray.

6.       Thou shalt move slowly. In case you might have missed it. We are all riding on the same planes. Being the first one through security and to the gate gets you there at the same time as if you walked slowly, didn’t bump into me, cut me off or step on my foot. So walk at normal speed, keep your head up and watch out for the 69,000 other people flying through DIA today.

7.       Thou shalt not carry-on thy pet. Just because you put your dog in a Tebow jersey, does not mean it should be flying in the airplane. I’m sure “Fluffy” will make it down below with the rest of the luggage where I don’t have to hear him freak out or smell him have an accident. I can deal with most children on airplanes, because they are my own species and typically act fine as long as they have a toy and some gum so their ears pop. Your dog might be a person to you, but unless your blind or he speaks English, he’s just another annoyance for the rest of us.

8.       Thou shalt listen to airport/airline personnel and be polite to them. This is one that will be your biggest benefit. Most airport personnel (ground crew, TSA, flight attendants) like helping people and will guide you through the process making the trip more pleasant if you are polite and follow the rules. If not then you are making their job harder, so you deserve to have a problem. Yelling and cursing them about delays or cancellations has to be one of the stupidest things I see in airports. Though you might be frustrated, being mean isn’t going to get you anywhere, just be polite, explain the situation calmly and you are typically in for some service. If not, you’ll end up in the rat infested hotel on standby for a 10 pm flight two days from never.

9.       Thou shalt not do obnoxious things in flight. Simple things to pass the time on a plane that do not disturb your neighbor: reading, watching movies, listening to music, knitting, sleeping, working on laptop, talking quietly. Things that cause people to contemplate jumping out the emergency exit: having a conversation with someone across the plane, painting your toe nails, loudly eating a packed three course meal on a one hour flight, allowing your child to run around the plane, trying to talk to me about how awesome Jersey Shore is. If you wouldn’t want the person next to you to do it, don’t do it.

10.    Thou shalt not stand directly on top of the baggage claim. You are waiting for your bag. So are the other 300 people that were on the plane. Just step back until you see it then step up and get it. I’m sure you can see it from three feet back. That way the rest of us can get to our baggage without having to step over you and having to risk “accidentally” hitting you in the knee with our bags.

If you follow these simple commandments, your time spent in the airport will be much more pleasant and so will everyone else’s. So fly smart. Be courteous. Travel safe.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Hormones and the Transportation Security Administration

This fall as I was making one of my frequent trips through the security check point at the Denver International Airport, I was waiting in line to have my boarding pass inspected behind a young man who was about 6’ 9” tall. The officer doing the inspecting commented that he would probably be the tallest man to pass through security that day, so being the person that I am I made a comment to the effect of “from the tallest guy to the shortest.” (Side note: I’m dressed in what is normal attire for me, cowboy hat, boots and starched jeans.) To which the officer replied that I would be what is considered normal height before they started putting all those hormones in beef.

So, I was faced with a choice. Do I inform him that the use of hormone implants started in the 1970s which would be more his generation? Do I tell him that 4 ounces of beef from an implanted steer contains 1.6 nanograms (ng.) of estrogen while his soy latte has 30,000 ng. of estrogen? Or do I hand him a fact sheet from Feedstuffs Foodlink on antibiotics and hormones? No, I just controlled my temper and walked on through security because of my distaste for body cavity searches.

This is a problem I run into often in my travels. “Civilians” have little understanding of agriculture and most have little understanding of biology, but they have strong opinons about their food. The simple fact that hormones like estrogen and testosterone are naturally occurring in all mammals, in both sexes and in many other food stuffs seems to escape them.

For my part, I blame professional athletes for their use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and the media for misinformation about the industry. I can understand their banning in sports and the public’s disgust that they might be eating a steer that would look like Barry Bonds or Jose Canseco. But the fact is that the use of growth promotants in the beef industry is much different than PEDs in sports. In the industry, implants and protocols are subjected to a set of rigorous tests and standards by the FDA and beef is inspected by the USDA at every juncture to assure safety. A steer might be implanted for 100-200 days. In sports, performance enhancing drugs are not FDA approved, used at high levels and used over a period of years.

I hope that you clicked the link above and got to read the facts about hormones and antibiotics. Feedstuffs Foodlink provides a wealth of information that can be used in these conversations. Also as you explain that the hormones and antibiotics in beef production are FDA approved, tested and most importantly metabolized before slaughter or give them the information about the amount of estrogen in raw peas (2700 ng/4 ounces) or soy oil (168,000 ng/3 ounces). Please remember that they have probably been convinced that these things are healthier than beef and have consumed them in large quantities, making them slightly hormonally imbalanced. So have patience, it’s not their fault. It’s just their time of the month all the time.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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