18 June 2009

If I Ran Things

My two favorite mind games are "If I Won the Lottery" and "If I Ran This Place."

The reason they stay mind games and not reality is that 1) I rarely play the lotto and 2) I am hopelessly incapable of being in charge of anything more complicated than lunch plans (and even then I manage to take the person with gastric reflux to Yazmeen's House of Fiery Hot Curry and the gluten-intolerant to Barb's House of Carbs).

Gaining Altitude

One of my favorite businesses in the "If I Ran This Place" game is the airlines.

If I Ran An Airline:

1) The maximum allowable size for carry-ons would be the maximum allowable size. Period. Is there an airline that enforces this rule? If there is, let me know, because I want to fly with them and only them. People have wheeled carry-ons that are big enough to pack the corpse of Seabiscuit into. My rule: If you can't carry it on, it isn't a carry-on.

2) No reclining seats. The only thing that happens when someone reclines their seat is that they are 1% more comfortable and the person behind them is 99% more cramped and rage-filled. Upright and locked, baby.

3) Speaking of babies - parents MUST be allowed to be seated with their children. I hear endless tales of parents being separated from their kids on airlines and of other people refusing to switch seats to allow the family to be reunited. What kind of stupid-ass BS is that? Buddy, you're moving. Families get to sit together. Period.

4) Speaking of jerky passengers, flight attendants have the right to perform the Duct Tape treatment on anyone at any time. Come on. You know you want them to.

5) No movies. Have you ever seen a good movie on an airplane? I rest my case. Read, sleep, or look out the window as God intended you to. You're in an airplane, flying, as men have wanted to do for millenia. Now look out and marvel. Yeesh.

Lake Powell Arizona

6) Try our new snacks. They are called "Lithium." They will ensure a nice flight for everyone.

7) We may not charge extra for overweight luggage, but may charge more for turbulence. You pay to go to Disneyland, right? Enjoy the ride!

8) Minimum seat width: the average ass width of shoppers at the Tampa Wal-Mart on a Sunday in late January. Why Tampa? I picked it because it is kind of a silly name. Why Wal-Mart? It's where America shops for value (oh, wait, that's Sears. But not anymore! Sorry, Sears. America is over there at Wal-Mart, picking up their $5 prescription.) Why late January? Because by then, the Christmas cookies have had time to sink in.

9) Minimum leg room: comfortable for the shortest player on the World Championship Lakers Basketball team. (Go LAKERZZZZZZ!) Let's just hope it isn't one of those Muggsy Boggs/Spud Webb years.

10) The barf bag would be called the "Aloha" bag. I learned this on a helicopter in Hawaii. Because the sound of someone throwing up? "A-lohhhhhh-haaaaaa."

That's all for my airline? If you ran things, how would it be?

14 June 2009

Library Science

When I was in junior high school, my class took a field trip to the library at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

In a display case, they had a letter from Ray Bradbury. I can't remember what the letter was about, but to me, the cool thing was that it was on his personal letterhead that listed his home address.

I was too nervous to be seen writing down the address, but I memorized it. I could still recite it today if I wanted, so well did I memorize, but to guard the great Mr. B's privacy, I will refrain.

I wrote him a letter, no doubt something juvenile about how great he was. And about a month later, I got a letter back.

"Thanks!" was all it said, with a big loopy signature.

It made my day. Actually, it made my year. The Great Ray Bradbury, a famous author, had written to me. Me. Me!

Fast-forward 30 years. I covered Mr. Bradbury's appearance as a benefit for a Friends of the Library group. It turns out that he has lost most of his hearing, so we did not get to chat, but that is probably a good thing. I was so choked up that I would have opened my mouth and started bawling like a baby - which is never good for your appearance of journalistic objectivity.

I found out he does library benefits all the time, and that Fahrenheit 451 is not, in his mind, about censorship as much as it is about the value of libraries.

He will appear at our local branch library next week, raising money to keep the branch open for the rest of the year. The annual branch budget is $268,000, a figure I was stunned to hear.

Thousands of people visit that branch. Tens of thousands of materials are circulated. And all on a budget of under $300k.

I recently re-read Fahrenheit 451 and was knocked back by its prescience. The vapid Mildred with her earbuds always in, blocking out the world...the stupid TV shows that wreck people's ability to think...it's all a little too true for comfort.

I spent literally hundreds of hours at that library branch as a teen. I got a bonus at work the other day and immediately tithed to the library - wrote them a check for 10% of the bonus - and I donate all my used books for their book sales.

It may take Ray Bradbury, and it may take a village, but I sure hope we can manage to raise the paltry sum to keep our library open.
Back to top