Sun, fun and law enforcement in Florida

27 02 2014

So last weekend I went to Florida to escape this unbelievable winter here in the Northeast. The endless weeks of cold and the series of snow dumps has certainly toughened me up, but my, it does get tedious after a while.



The first half of our flight to Florida was uneventful, my mother was happily watching CNN on the seat-back television while I closed my eyes to get some rest. It was a late flight, and I’d had a long week.

About an hour and a half from Boston, the two young adults in the row behind me (siblings, it seems) were getting louder as the flight wore on. Their voices carried far naturally, both wore earbuds and talked and laughed over the volume. This grated on me so I turned around to ask them to please tone it down. The girl just looked at me, clueless and pretty liquored up. For the next 15 minutes or so, she and her brother discussed whether or not they were being too loud (in their typically loud voices). During this conversation, expletives began to fly in my direction in, I will assume, an attempt to provoke me. I pretended not to hear. I generally am not easily provoked by immature strangers.

Numerous alcoholic beverages later (that they seemed not to have to pay for) and shortly before landing, they turned aggressive. During the tirade, once again directed at me, “stupid f***ing blond b**ch” was the nicest thing I heard. The flight attendants repeatedly told them to simmer down. When the chick reached over the seat back and slapped me in the head, the party was definitely over. Other passengers called over the head flight attendant, who told them that the were now in very serious trouble.

Mom, just turning off the TV, was like, “Huh? Whats going on? What’s all this about?”

And the girl still wouldn’t stop. She repeatedly pushed the seat-back, and began threatening me (“I’m gonna  get you, you f***ing c**t”), while her only slightly less inebriated brother repeatedly told her to put a lid on it. After landing, her parting shot: “I know what you look like. I’ve got you out on the street. Just wait till we get out on the street. I’ve got you, you dumb b**ch.” This is when the flight attendants finally took them to the back of the plane for a time out.

Still on the taxiway, the captain told the passengers to remain in their seats once we arrived at the gate. There was “a situation on board that needs to be sorted out.” Mom & I were told separately that law enforcement officials were coming, that we would be the first to disembark and that police wanted a statement from me.

When the door opened in FLL, three of the biggest and scariest-looking Sheriff’s department dudes I have ever seen headed straight to where the flight attendants had corralled the foul-mouthed little ones. Mom and I grabbed our bags and headed out of row 21, while a planeload of still-seated passengers stared at us, most of whom wondering what on earth was going on.

Officer Jackson, though scary-looking, turned out to be a very nice guy. Well, to us at least. Mom and I were still reeling from the experience, and the airline’s station manager came to apologize profusely. I have no idea what happened to the girl but I did see her sitting in handcuffs as we left the building.

Ah yes. Florida, LIVE! As we know and love the place.

That plus the 84 degrees F (29 degrees C) and the sunshine is why we keep going back.




12 02 2014

This week I have been engaged in a particularly egregious bout of cyberloafing. The 2014 Olympics started last Friday, and they are taking place 9 time zones ahead of where I am currently sitting. That means unfortunately most of the competition happens while I am still asleep. And that means that the moment I get into the office I have to catch up on everything that happened overnight that I missed.

After selective trawling of internet-disseminated news from several sources in numerous languages, what follows is a true all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of livestream TV feeds direct from Sochi. Though perhaps somewhat complicated to navigate, the NBC Olympics website opens up a myriad of possibilities to keep one occupied and entertained well into the afternoon, Eastern Standard Time. I usually start off with biathlon, then maybe some luge, a bit of snowboarding, and of course the crowning highlights of the games from my perspective: speedskating.


I tried speedskating once myself, because hey, I’m an inline skater, how hard can it be? Answer: A lot harder than it looks. Speedskating on ice is an entire nother ball of wax. First of all, the blade edges are perpendicular to the ice rather than rounded as we well know from hockey or figure skating, designed to glide without unnecessary friction. This allows for ludicrously easy sideways slipping, too. My first move in speedskates was the splits. (Virtually impossible with composite rubber wheels unless you go skating in the pouring rain.) Second, the blades attached to the boots are about as long as my thigh, making it terribly difficult to propel oneself forward without tripping on them and thereby drilling a hole into the surface as one brings ones foot forward to take the next step. Third, the ice (upon which one inevitably ends up sitting, usually sooner rather than later) is wet and terribly cold.

Ice vs. asphalt does have one advantage: when you submit to the law of gravity there is no shredded skin…. only freezer burn.

So anyway, when the Olympic competition ceases for the day, by about 2pm my time, the next major decision is figure out what I will have for lunch and then check out which tape replay to watch. But I  haven’t really gotten into the whole tape replay thing since I know most of the results already. So I decide to write a blog post instead.

Swiss winter fun

19 11 2010

Now that the first snowflakes have fallen in the lowlands of Switzerland, many of my Swiss friends are making plans for the six months of the year when a grey fog the consistency of cream soup descends upon Zurich. What do they do? Head to higher ground of course. Where the sun shines and the danger lurks.

While I too look forward to enjoying good couple of crisp, clear days above the fog-line in the picturesque mountains during this, my sixth winter here, I now know where I’m capable of holding my own, and where I should just not bother to try. Having grown up in the tropical sunshine of Southeast Asia, I will never be a snow bunny, no matter how much money I spend on the accessories.

Nice try, Evelynn.

Analog to Swiss Summer Fun a few months ago, here are a few of the astounding and crazy things that the locals enjoy paying good money to do during the winter. For more information on any of these, or to create your own wild winter adventure, check out the Swiss Tourism Website.

Alpine skiing – A world cup race on TV is kindergarten compared to what Swiss skiers are capable of on their slopes. No wonder helmet sales are up by something like 500 percent every year.

Cross-country skiing – The skis are much thinner and exponentially more unstable requiring exponentially more strength and coordination to stay upright. And Swiss people don’t just go out for a Sunday ski-stroll. Nonononono. When Swiss people strap on their cross-country skis, they end up doing things like this.

Igloo-building – And here I thought this was just for semi-nomadic native peoples in northern latitudes. No, the Swiss have a thing for building igloos, too. A winter weekend in the mountains is not complete unless you spend part of it constructing your own accommodation and then sleeping in it. Believe me, this is nothing for claustrophobics or folks who chill easily.


Please don't try this at home unless you're an architect.

Ski jöring – For the truly insane. Instructions: Attach skis to feet, attach self to galloping horse.

HA! Yeah, right!

Tobogganing (winter version) – Nothing against some harmless sledding down the slope behind your house. But we are talking serious, professional-grade tobogganing here, on near-frozen tracks many kilometers long, almost vertically down the sides of mountains, while sitting on rickety, unsteerable wooden sleds invented in 1883. This sport is generally done late at night (i.e. in the dark), helmetless, and only after an illegal amount of alcohol has been ingested.

This was an activity at my company’s “Rookie Camp,” a sort of basic training for new employees I attended a few years ago. It was scheduled for 11 p.m. and the toboggan run was a sheet of ice. After narrowly missing a large fir tree in the first turn, and then flying out of control, twisting a knee and landing on my butt in the snow in the second turn, I decided my long-term health was more important than any dumb rite of passage. So I walked the rest of the way, all the while keeping eyes in the back of my head and diving for cover numerous times to avoid others who careened down behind me. At the base, hours later, I found out that one member of the group lost control of his sled, flew off the side of the mountain and ended up in the hospital with a concussion and a gash over his eye.

Peanuts, my Swiss colleagues said. Anything less than a crushed vertebrae gets no sympathy.