I am back in World Headquarters once again after our trip across the pond. It was a marvelous sojourn that lasted but one week. We did a variety of things but the pace was perfect. A sight here and there but moreover a chance to spend some QT with the Kenny’s of the UK. Christmas there is steeped in tradition and there was an air of festivity as we went to dinner on Christmas Eve and then on to carols and Mass at what seemed to be at least a century old church. Splendid!
There was one notable absence during our stay. News! The kids don’t watch the telly that much and as is true throughout the world, our goings on in the States don’t demand all that much attention overseas. So upon our return I curled up in my old leather chair with a week old copy of The Week which remains on of my favorite sources of update. This of course was the year end edition and I was struck by a section on polls of what we Americanos think of the current state of affairs.
It seems our mood is dark. 70% of us think the US is on the wrong track. An equal number think we are not as great as we used to be while 60% think the American Dream is broken. Ironically we tend to blame this all on Washington with Obama, the Congress and even the Supreme Court in our crosshairs. Unless we changed our mode of government while I was gone I think in two cases we elect these representatives. And don’t we have the power to get rid of them? Sorry. Why screw up a good story with a touch of reason?
It goes on to enumerate our acceptance of same sex marriage and pot but religious intolerance is on the rise. A fascinating discovery was our distaste for technology. More than a plurality thinks it makes us lazy,illiterate and is ruining our interpersonal communications. How many I Phones and Android devices were given this Christmas? Like Nancy Reagan championed awhile back, can’t we just say No? Ah yes,when in doubt blame someone else.
The section that captivated me was devoted to our fears. It seems 85% think that a large scale terrorist attack is just a matter of time. I believe there will be an attack but I am not quite sure how large it will be.However I can tell you I am not staying up nights thinking about it. A whopping 60% think there are sleeper cells imbedded in our society. 45% think our government could use the military to seize control of certain states and 44% believe machines with artificial intelligence could wipe out our civilization. That’s scary. Not the events but the fact people are having these notions.
Intriguingly this all supports our current political maneuverings. I am going to figure out what is petrifying you and tell you I can fix it. Even better I will chastise any opponent in sight who thinks I am not right. He or she is the Anti Christ and damnation will occur for anyone who doesn’t vote for me. Now you may think think this is absurd but then again you may think it is true. As if this whole thing was not whacky enough we can refill our popcorn box because William Jefferson Clinton is about to arrive on the scene. The sheer prospect of Willy and the Donald locking horns over sexism should sell better than Star Wars.
This whole fear thing is becoming endemic in our society. Growing up I had to learn to “Duck and Cover” in the basement of St Mary’s grammar school. That was nothing compared to our present day world. We worry about germs and allergies. ISIS is right alongside the food we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink. We freak out that our kids won’t get into the right school or won’t have the right friends or God forbid not marry well, whatever the hell that is.
I have mentioned it before but I really think we are losing it. Incredibly we are paranoid about the government prying into our innermost thoughts and yet will tell the world of our every moment and thought through Facebook and Twitter. We worry about Big Brother but we are buying drones by the thousands. This thing called anxiety or worry seeps into our vey pores. I meet people who can’t believe Kathy and I would have the balls to fly to London. Okay maybe that last one is just me. I am not being critical but quite frankly laughing on one end and feeling very sorry for these people on the other.
I am an optimist but at the same time a pragmatist. I am either too stupid or too old to be afraid. Life comes at you in so many ways if you try to hit every curve ball thrown at you,you are going to be terribly disappointed. Shit will happen! I think the difficult part today is that people haven’t seen the bad in a really long time if at all. We don’t focus on the root causes of things but as usual just try to treat the symptoms. There are very specific reasons for our maladies and yet we don’t have the time to sit down and understand what they are and how to take evasive or corrective action.
All these fears and percentages above are just a state of mind. A matter of perception. We crave the good old days. A sort of Norman Rockwell, Mayberry notion. Fuggedaboutit! We got it good here. Real good. In 2016 my simple resolution is to look at things squarely but with a particular bent to the upside. Alfred E Neumann used to appear on every Mad magazine cover with a goofy grin that smacked of innocence and not taking himself too seriously. That is one vestige of yesterday I can embrace. What,Me Worry? Never. Happy New Year to all and
Ted The Great
On Christmas Day in London all public transportation (trains and buses) are closed for the entire day. You can drive car or walk but that’s it. The Queen comes on the telly at 3:00PM to address the Commonwealth. Doesn’t say all that much but people watch. They have parties to view it. Beats Obama.
Heathrow Airport in London is fascinating. These are some facts I “borrowed” from their site.
More than 70million passengers pass through every year – six million more than the UK population. Heathrow is now the third busiest airport in the world after Atlanta in the US and Beijing, China.
Heathrow sells more than 26,000 cups of tea, 35,000 cups of coffee and 1,050 bottles of champagne every day. More than 974 tons of chips(French Fries) are sold every year
One bottle of Chanel No 5 is sold at World Duty Free at Heathrow every nine minutes.
Breakfast is the most popular meal of the day at Heathrow with almost five million eggs, 6.4million croissants and 4.5million rashers of bacon served every year. The number of pastries sold annually would line a runway in both directions 350 times
Safety vehicles are fitted with a digital scarecrow system that plays the distress calls of various bird species to scare them away from runways.
A total of 27,260 separate items have to be stocked on to a Boeing 747-400 before it departs on a long-haul flight. With space at such a premium careful calculations are made to ensure sufficient quantities for 377 passengers are carried without waste and to keep down fuel costs. The items loaded include no more than 233 toothpicks, 58 loo rolls, 2,000 ice cubes (five per passenger), 1,263 items of cutlery, 340 safety cards, 1,291 items of crockery, 650 paper cups, 337 blankets, five first aid kits, 220 drinks stirrers, 735 glasses, 99 full bottles and 326 quarter bottles of wine, 435 sickness bags (1.15 per passenger) and 164 bags of nuts in Club World.
One plane takes off from Heathrow airport every 45 seconds.
.Terminal 5, which is humongous, has 30 miles of baggage conveyors, 2.8 miles of tunnels and 44 baggage reclaim belts. Around 53million pieces of luggage are processed every year.
The Heathrow Animal Reception Centre (HARC) receives and cares for more than 80million animals each year, including 45million invertebrates, seven million live eggs, 28million fish and 13,000 cats and dogs. ?????
GO IRISH! GO BRONCOS!
Welcome back, Han. Happy New Year!