Monthly Archives: April 2010

Volcano Flights and Flowers

Most of the European airspace is still shut down this morning, at least according to Eurocontrol the group that manages most of the European commercial airspace.  The backstory is a volcano in Iceland that has burped a huge plume of volcanic crud high up into the atmosphere.  Commercial aircraft can’t fly safely through it, so more than 70 percent of the trans-Atlantic flights are cancelled. 

Volcanic dust is almost as soft as baby powder, if you were to run your hand through a bowl of it on the ground.  The problem is commercial aircraft move fast, so even something as soft as talc, at 550 kilometers per hour, is highly abrasive.  Volcanic dust acts like a sandblaster on the aircraft in flight and gums up the inner workings of the engines, causing the potential for catastrophic failure.  Therefore, no flights:  The reasoning is sensible and sound.

What the mass flight cancellations also show us, is how interconnected we have become and how commonplace we view our global abilities to get somewhere.

Take flowers for an example.

Holland is a global clearninghouse for cut flowers.  The flowers arrive by air cargo from places like Kenya, Israel or South America from the growers, are auctioned, then shipped out, less than 24 hours later to places around the globe again by air cargo. 

With the suspension of air cargo flights, the supply chain for cut flowers is in the ditch.  Horticultural products are perishable and a three day delay in shipping means those beautiful, fresh, scented Kenyan-grown pale baby-blue sphincter begonias are now looking tired and grumpy. 

The distributor will take a look at the shipment when it arrives in Miami and reject it. It looks like crap as it has been sitting in a warehouse for three days, waiting for a flight out of Holland to North America. 

The local florist won’t have that very specific shade of baby-blue sphincter begonias for someone’s prom corsage in North Podunk. 

There will be tears and lifelong recriminations for “ruining the happiest day of my life with these crappy flowers that don’t match my prom dress that I spent weeks trying to find and get all the matching accessories and makeup so I can look like a real princess on my Prom!  I hate you!”

All because of a volcano in Iceland.

There are other stories, like people from Pakistan who are stuck in the Departures lounge in Brussels, because their flight was forced to land in Belgium, due to the volcano, but they don’t have a visa for Belgium slo they have to stay in the International Departures lounge and can’t actually leave, as they’re not allowed to enter Belgium without the right paperwork.  Nobody knows where their bags are, as they can’t unload the bags, as the flight wasn’t going to Belgium, so the bags are embargoed and the people can’t actually leave the International Departures lounge to go to the baggage carousel to get their bags so they could do something simple like, change shirts?

Eight or nine years from now you’ll see a crack hooker lurch up to your car at a stoplight.  Odds are her prom was ruined, her self-esteem destroyed and she spiraled down the ladder to the lowest societal rung possible without actually entering the legal profession.

All because of a volcano in Iceland.

Sunshine, Apologies, Outrages and Sandy

This has been one of those weeks where a whack of stuff got wrapped up or put out there in the public eye.

Number one with a Taser was the RCMP apologizing to the mother of Robert Dziekanski, the victim of four RCMP officers taking liberties with their training and killing Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport.  RCMP Deputy Commissioner for the Pacific Region, Gary Bass delivered the news.  About freakin’ time. 

The Sunshine List, is an Ontario government document that tells us innocent taxpayers who is sucking how hard on the government teat.  It is the list of salaries of the various government, hospital and public offices that exceed $100,000.  Hospital executives like Jeffrey Lozon, president and CEO of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto has a package that compensates him around $700,000 a year. 

Which explains why I do not give to any hospital or health care charity or lottery.  If the head honcho has a carpet in the office that is thick enough to lose children in, they’re making too much money and not directing the cash to the real business of hospitals:  Healing sick people. 

The job of the head of a health care foundation, or CEO of a hospital does not need to be remunerated at Lehman Brothers levels.  HR and management consultants who mouth platitudes about “executive compensation grades” and “a market-competitive package” should be made to stand in the ER waiting room for six hours on a Saturday night to find out what a hospital really does and who really does it. 

It sure as hell ain’t some paper-pushing bureaucrat behind a $10,000 mahogany desk.

On Tuesday there was an Associated Press report of 21 infants washing up on a riverbank near Jining in Shandong province.  Apparently the remains were labeled Medical Waste and included children that appeared to be several months old.  Along with the weekly “120 Killed in China Coal Mine Explosion” headline, the more I look at China, the more I see a country that has learned all the worst capitalist lessons possible and is determined to put all of them in place at once. 

Incidentally, a Chinese company is looking at buying Volvo, so even the Birkenstock-wearing class can sleep soundly knowing that their safety-eco car was built by political prisoners.  Any manufacturing residue and toxic by-products will be very deliberately placed in the land surrounding the ‘organic’ agricultural farms that grow your garlic and vegetables.  Please enjoy.

Sandra Bullock has ‘come out of hiding’ according to various fansites and has started proceedings against her hubby Jesse James.  James is suspected of breaking certain marital vows regarding sexual exclusivity and Sandra is understandably deeply offended. 

We have no opinion regarding her choice of spouse, but be assured Sandra, if you need some serious revenge-makeouts, I can always offer my services.  It would be a personal sacrifice, but I suppose I could suffer through. 

Big plus?  Headlines like “Academy Award Winner goes to Pizza Joint with No-Name Dork in Ottawa” and “Random Moron Captures Sandy’s Eye in Canadian Capitol” are a vast improvement over the press you’ve been getting lately.  I’ll take one for the team, just so you know, restraining order be dammed.

By the way, it’s Easter, technically a Christian celebration, which we now mark by force-feeding children as much chocolate as is possible under the guise of hunting for eggs that a rabbit brings in a basket and hides in the garden for all the good little girls and boys. 

How we got from crucifixion and resurrection of the main character of the Christian religion to a commercially-sanctioned sugar-buzz festival is beyond even the twisted capabilities of the marketers of the Pet Rock.  The new slogan for Motel 6 during this time of the year is “Bring Three Nails, We’ll Put You Up For The Night.” so at least there is some tie in, (called synergistic guerilla viral cultural meme placement in MBA-speak) to what was a significant occasion on the Christian religious calendar.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, A day off work we go…