Worst American airline?

graphThe big American airlines are likely doomed to extinction. It may be impossible to run a full-service national airline in the USA.

I flew American Airlines recently and concur that their service is crappy. American flys more unhappy passengers than anyone else.

Most annoyingly, American (and most airlines) are adding unexpected fees to delay the inevitable bankruptcy.

Baggage restrictions have been tightened supposedly because of fuel savings if we take less luggage.


On American you can take 2 bags each weighing up to 50lbs. If you check only 1 bag weighing 55lbs they immediately want you to pay a surcharge. If you resist in anyway (fuss with the bag for a minute) they give up on the extra fee. This scenario happened to me on all 3 AA flights.

Airlines ignore their luggage rules as they ignore their carry-on limits. It’s just another way to get you to pony up more cash.

I have little respect for big airlines. The sooner they are displaced by leaner upstarts, the better.

With so many big airlines suffering, will you? – Sep. 15, 2005


website – Newsvine.com

Peter and Joyce Long have a great set-up for keeping up with the “news”. They have satellite radio at home and in their vehicle set to BBC, the best mainstream news source in my opinion.

They have TIVO set to record BBC world service TV.


Yet I feel this traditional news reporting format will continue to decline. Fewer and fewer media competitors will spend less money covering even fewer stories.

American news coverage is particularly dismal.

newsvine logoWhat will replace it?

Interactive news services where readers vote, comment and even write the news. My service will include much more gymnastics and hiking content than most. It will be individualized to my interests.

The best known of these upstart news sources is Digg.com

But the best (though it includes mostly American content so far) is NewsVine.

Newsvine – Get Smarter Here

travelogue – Florida retirement?

I visited Peter and Joyce Long at their new active retirement community just outside Ocala, Florida.

It’s a perfect Truman Show gated community catering to those age 55 or older who no longer work — but who refuse to slow down!

36-hole golf course, softball fields, swimming pools, aerobics, dance studio. 80 clubs and organizations catering to every interest, even synchronized swimming. We were waiting for the fitness centre door to open at 6AM each morning.

Two neighbours were both recently widowed. They met through the Singles Club and are now getting married.

If you are currently living in a SITCOM (Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage) you want to email Peter — peter.long@longsworld.net — to learn more about what it is like to retire to Florida.


Also, check Peter’s photos of our Kayaking and Cycling day trips. Flickr (free) membership required.

Next travelogue on this trip >> Daytona Beach, Florida

travelogue – monkeys in Florida


This is Joyce Long from a TV interview where she was asked her opinion of another huge new proposed housing development which threatened to pollute pristine Silver Springs — the world’s largest limestone spring.

Joyce and I in a double kayak pushed hard up river because other boaters told us that monkeys had been spotted. These must be the most northerly monkeys in the wild in North America. They are descendents from escaped movie monkeys.

Six Tarzan films were shot here.

monkeys in Florida

Next travelogue on this trip >> Florida retirement?

travelogue – Key West, Florida

… Homer: Florida?! But that’s America’s wang!

… Plant Psychiatrist: They prefer “The Sunshine State.”

I first learned about Florida from Miami Vice.

Sonny Crockett was the coolest cop on TV. He drove a Testarossa!

I wanted to put on expensive shoes (without socks) and drive that Ferrari to Key West. In the end I managed to drive a Chevy Nova rental — but without socks!


Ernest Hemmingway's house from 1931-1940. Descendents of his 6-toed cat still live here.
Ernest Hemmingway’s house from 1931-1940. Descendents of his 6-toed cat still live here.

See annotated photos of the southern most end of the USA by jumping to my photos on flickr. 

I know what you are thinking. What ever happened to Rico Tubbs? (Philip Michael Thomas)

travelogue – Holocaust Memorial, Miami

A few quiet streets away from the insanity of South Beach is a stunning memorial of the Jewish holocaust. Many visitors driving by only catch a glimpse of the giant bronze arm reaching for freedom.


Sculpture of Love and Anguish was created in 1984 by survivor Kenneth Triester. The arm has an Auschwitz tattoo and features terrified prisoners scrambling to escape.

The official website of the Holocaust Memorial.

No matter how many times I hear the story, it still drops me like a hammer.

I think of Sophie’s Choice.

I think of Schindler’s List.

And I think how impossible it is that genocide is still happening in the world today. 😦



travelogue – South Beach, Miami

If you’ve got it, you flaunt it at South Beach.

True that.


South Beach has a similar “vibe” to Santa Monica and Venice beaches in Los Angeles.

I love the art deco architecture. This neighbourhood was “a crime-ridden collection of crumbling eyesores populated primarily by drug-crazed lunatics” in the 1980s.

art deco

Surprisingly, I loved Miami. Loved the diversity. There is no better people-watching anywhere.

Amazingly the traffic is quite light (if you stay off the Ronald Reagan Turnpike).

I’ve never seen so many beautiful women in one place. Some are on the South Beach Diet: caffeine, cocaine and cigarettes.

American Airlines Arena, home of the Miami Heat. I saw my first NBA game (US$10). Shaq was still lumbering back and forth.


See more annotated photos of Miami by jumping to my photos in flickr.