Archive for December, 2007

>Bessemer Opinions Top Twelve

December 31, 2007

>Two posts in one day? I figured a lot of people are at work today and bored, so here is something to amuse. But be sure and read the other post of the day as well.

The editorial board of Bessemer Opinions got together and came up with this list of the dozen top posts (or stories) of 2007. Seems that everywhere you turn there is a top 10 or so list, and we had a hard time whitling it down to ten, thus 12. These are not in order of importance, rather they are in chronological order, beginning in February, when Bessemer Opinions first began publishing. I realize there are 14 links here. But 12 stories (or 13).

February 12. Western Star and Tim Hardaway

This was one of the first stories to report the way The Western Star distorts the truth, and the story got me emails from across the nation. Bessemer Opinions will always expose lies, hypocrisy and plagiarism.

March 27 and 29.
Birmingham Falls Flat on Its Face

Birmingham: She’s Fallen and She Can’t Get Up

These two posts are related to Birmingham’s failure to pass an inclusion resolution, which a few weeks later they passed unanimously.

March 1. Who I Would Not Like To Be

This post is about Katherine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal church. I admire her for doing the right thing in spite of misguided opposition. I often post about Episcopal happenings, mainly because they are on the cutting edge of inclusive theology. Full disclosure, I am a wandering Methodist.

April 26. Pat Tillman, Tom Delay and Gun Control

This story just about made me sick. Hypocrisy and spinning by war crazy people.

April 23. Earth Day II, Human Responsibility

The environment is one of the most pressing issues of the day (and has been since the beginning).

May 10. Hatred in Alabama, From a Trailer in Bay Minette to Goat Hill

This one just about makes one sick as well, but hatred against gays has got to stop.

June 21. Murder – 1956

I included this story then and now because I want the people responsible for this to feel guilty, and I want those who might know something to come forward.

July 12. Joe’s Theology

I am not shy about revealing my opinions about any subject.

September 15. The Changing Face of Bessemer

There was a lot of important news out of Bessemer this year, and this story is about news that has not even happened yet. But I feel (and hope) that what is offered here is more important than what our city leaders do and don’t do, because this looks beyond the next election, which is something the elected officials have a hard time doing. Another very important news story about bessemer was This one announcing The Western Tribune hitting the steets.

October 29. Western Star and Global Warming

This post explores one of the stupidest statements ever in print. The reason it is important is that if people don’t wake up and understand what climate change is doing to our planet, and accept that as humans we bear some responsibility for it, we are doomed.

November 2. Consider This an Announcement

This was my announcment that I am running for a delegate seat to the Democratic National Convention as a Hillary Clinton delegate. We will see how the voting goes, and if I don’t win a spot that way, all is not lost. Stay tuned.

November 15. Intelligent Design is not Science

I have been a student of science since elementary school, and my current studies are scientific in nature as well. I hate to see misinformation touted as fact.

Happy New Year.

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Bessemer Opinions Top Twelve

December 31, 2007

Two posts in one day? I figured a lot of people are at work today and bored, so here is something to amuse. But be sure and read the other post of the day as well.

The editorial board of Bessemer Opinions got together and came up with this list of the dozen top posts (or stories) of 2007. Seems that everywhere you turn there is a top 10 or so list, and we had a hard time whitling it down to ten, thus 12. These are not in order of importance, rather they are in chronological order, beginning in February, when Bessemer Opinions first began publishing. I realize there are 14 links here. But 12 stories (or 13).

February 12. Western Star and Tim Hardaway

This was one of the first stories to report the way The Western Star distorts the truth, and the story got me emails from across the nation. Bessemer Opinions will always expose lies, hypocrisy and plagiarism.

March 27 and 29.
Birmingham Falls Flat on Its Face

Birmingham: She’s Fallen and She Can’t Get Up

These two posts are related to Birmingham’s failure to pass an inclusion resolution, which a few weeks later they passed unanimously.

March 1. Who I Would Not Like To Be

This post is about Katherine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal church. I admire her for doing the right thing in spite of misguided opposition. I often post about Episcopal happenings, mainly because they are on the cutting edge of inclusive theology. Full disclosure, I am a wandering Methodist.

April 26. Pat Tillman, Tom Delay and Gun Control

This story just about made me sick. Hypocrisy and spinning by war crazy people.

April 23. Earth Day II, Human Responsibility

The environment is one of the most pressing issues of the day (and has been since the beginning).

May 10. Hatred in Alabama, From a Trailer in Bay Minette to Goat Hill

This one just about makes one sick as well, but hatred against gays has got to stop.

June 21. Murder – 1956

I included this story then and now because I want the people responsible for this to feel guilty, and I want those who might know something to come forward.

July 12. Joe’s Theology

I am not shy about revealing my opinions about any subject.

September 15. The Changing Face of Bessemer

There was a lot of important news out of Bessemer this year, and this story is about news that has not even happened yet. But I feel (and hope) that what is offered here is more important than what our city leaders do and don’t do, because this looks beyond the next election, which is something the elected officials have a hard time doing. Another very important news story about bessemer was This one announcing The Western Tribune hitting the steets.

October 29. Western Star and Global Warming

This post explores one of the stupidest statements ever in print. The reason it is important is that if people don’t wake up and understand what climate change is doing to our planet, and accept that as humans we bear some responsibility for it, we are doomed.

November 2. Consider This an Announcement

This was my announcment that I am running for a delegate seat to the Democratic National Convention as a Hillary Clinton delegate. We will see how the voting goes, and if I don’t win a spot that way, all is not lost. Stay tuned.

November 15. Intelligent Design is not Science

I have been a student of science since elementary school, and my current studies are scientific in nature as well. I hate to see misinformation touted as fact.

Happy New Year.

>Thoughts of Pompeii, The Iraq War, and Happy New Year

December 31, 2007

>You have about 3 1/2 weeks left to see Pompeii at the Birmingham Museum of Art. We made it a family outing on Saturday, and it was a really educational but also moving exhibit.

I have one child who is a senior in high school and one who is in college. One of them studied Pompeii in school, and the other did not. They both went to public school.

The more I learn about other cultures, whether they be in the present or in the past, the more I realize that we are all alike, and we haven’t changed much in all of history. Individuals seeking comfort and luxury, subtle and not so subtle references to sex (homosexuality as well as heterosexuality). People coming together to help one another. People of different classes dying together.

And you never know how an event will affect history. There could have been a young child who died that day who might have grown to understand science and physics in the same way that Newton or Galileo did centuries later. Of course, that can be said about every young person who dies at any time. Take for instance the 3902 American service men and women who have died in Iraq. Or the 80,196 – 87,350 Iraqi citizens who have been killed since we invaded their country. (See “Facts About the War” over to the left) Think of the potential lost.

A movie that shows how a young person’s potential can be lost or found is October Sky starring a young Jake Gyllenhall as Homer Hickam, and this is the true story of the West Virginia kid who for various reasons was pressured to follow the expected path of being a coal miner, but wanted to explore rocketry instead. Has Jake Gyllenhall ever made a bad movie? I don’t think so. This one is certainly worth watching.

In fact, you could rent it today, and watch it while waiting for the New Year! Right after the Auburn Game (Chick-fil-A Bowl), you should have enough time to see the movie before the ball drops, or the bullets fall, as will happen in Bessemer and some sections of Birmingham at midnight tonight. The insane practice of shooting guns into the air to celebrate. What will the story be in tomorrow’s paper? Hopefully not one of somebody killed or injured because of this reckless practice.

Regardless of how you celebrate, be careful, and have a good time. Wait until the lead has finished falling from the sky before travelling home. Happy New Year!!!

Thoughts of Pompeii, The Iraq War, and Happy New Year

December 31, 2007

You have about 3 1/2 weeks left to see Pompeii at the Birmingham Museum of Art. We made it a family outing on Saturday, and it was a really educational but also moving exhibit.

I have one child who is a senior in high school and one who is in college. One of them studied Pompeii in school, and the other did not. They both went to public school.

The more I learn about other cultures, whether they be in the present or in the past, the more I realize that we are all alike, and we haven’t changed much in all of history. Individuals seeking comfort and luxury, subtle and not so subtle references to sex (homosexuality as well as heterosexuality). People coming together to help one another. People of different classes dying together.

And you never know how an event will affect history. There could have been a young child who died that day who might have grown to understand science and physics in the same way that Newton or Galileo did centuries later. Of course, that can be said about every young person who dies at any time. Take for instance the 3902 American service men and women who have died in Iraq. Or the 80,196 – 87,350 Iraqi citizens who have been killed since we invaded their country. (See “Facts About the War” over to the left) Think of the potential lost.

A movie that shows how a young person’s potential can be lost or found is October Sky starring a young Jake Gyllenhall as Homer Hickam, and this is the true story of the West Virginia kid who for various reasons was pressured to follow the expected path of being a coal miner, but wanted to explore rocketry instead. Has Jake Gyllenhall ever made a bad movie? I don’t think so. This one is certainly worth watching.

In fact, you could rent it today, and watch it while waiting for the New Year! Right after the Auburn Game (Chick-fil-A Bowl), you should have enough time to see the movie before the ball drops, or the bullets fall, as will happen in Bessemer and some sections of Birmingham at midnight tonight. The insane practice of shooting guns into the air to celebrate. What will the story be in tomorrow’s paper? Hopefully not one of somebody killed or injured because of this reckless practice.

Regardless of how you celebrate, be careful, and have a good time. Wait until the lead has finished falling from the sky before travelling home. Happy New Year!!!

>Alabama: Not very Green, and More

December 28, 2007

>It was a good week for Haden C. White of Homewood. Mr. White had a letter published in the Birmingham News this morning in which he reflected on Christmas spent in Vietnam 40 years ago. He also had a letter (the second one on this link) printed in U. S. News and World Report this week in which he reasons that people do not want to spend money on war movies because that is all we see on TV now.

I don’t know Haden White, but I know that when you go to the trouble of writing a letter to either the paper or a national magazine, it is a good feeling to see your efforts in print. Happy New Year Mr. White, and thank you for your service to our country.

Here in Alabama we learn that we are ranked 48 on the Forbes first ever list of America’s Greenest States. That is no surprise, as our state is controlled by interests who, for the most part, do not care about the enviroment: the Republican Party and the Church (Christian evangelicals, to be precise).

Here is what Forbes says about Alabama:

“So who’s at the bottom? Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Indiana and, at No. 50, West Virginia. All suffer from a mix of toxic waste, lots of pollution and consumption and no clear plans to do anything about it. Expect them to remain that way.”

Here is the caption next to a picture representing our state.

Alabama No. 48 Score: 15.8 out of 50

In short, people in Alabama drive a lot. Only four states had a higher number of vehicle miles traveled per capita. Alabama also manages the fifth largest amount of toxic waste per capita, disposing of or releasing 122.9 million lbs of waste in 2005. It also has not implemented very many energy efficiency policies.

Here is an example of something I noticed on our trip to California. We were in the town of 29 Palms, just outside of Joshua Tree National Park.

We had exited the park to get gas, and noticed they used these vapor recovery nozzles on the pumps.

We filled up, and I got to thinking. We live in a metropolitan area that is plagued each summer with high ozone levels. Ground level ozone is created, in part, when gasoline vapors are exposed to sunlight. EPA Ozone Pollution

We filled up knowing that our contribution to harmful ozone was reduced by using this simple device.

Ozone in Birmingham and surrounding communities curtails economic development, and affects the health of thousands each year.

So why, in our city, county, state, do we not require this type of device on gas pumps? Like I said, we are controlled by republicans and evangelicals, and the republicans are against this because it might cost their gas producing corporate buddies (although the cost would really fall on the gas station owners who would pass it on to consumers) a penny or two. Evangelicals don’t care because improving the environment is too close to the ideals of us “tree hugging liberals”. These are attitudes that need to change in our state.

Here is a tree we saw in a botanical garden, in Palm Springs, but it is native to tropical Mexico. The common name is “Cascalote” and the scientific name is Caesalpinia cacalaco. It blooms in the winter and has thorns on the branches that turn into these sharp knobs on the trunks.

Oh, and people keep asking. This picture:

is of the letter “L” enclosed by a circle with a line through it. “No L” “Noel”

Alabama: Not very Green, and More

December 28, 2007

It was a good week for Haden C. White of Homewood. Mr. White had a letter published in the Birmingham News this morning in which he reflected on Christmas spent in Vietnam 40 years ago. He also had a letter (the second one on this link) printed in U. S. News and World Report this week in which he reasons that people do not want to spend money on war movies because that is all we see on TV now.

I don’t know Haden White, but I know that when you go to the trouble of writing a letter to either the paper or a national magazine, it is a good feeling to see your efforts in print. Happy New Year Mr. White, and thank you for your service to our country.

Here in Alabama we learn that we are ranked 48 on the Forbes first ever list of America’s Greenest States. That is no surprise, as our state is controlled by interests who, for the most part, do not care about the enviroment: the Republican Party and the Church (Christian evangelicals, to be precise).

Here is what Forbes says about Alabama:

“So who’s at the bottom? Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Indiana and, at No. 50, West Virginia. All suffer from a mix of toxic waste, lots of pollution and consumption and no clear plans to do anything about it. Expect them to remain that way.”

Here is the caption next to a picture representing our state.

Alabama No. 48 Score: 15.8 out of 50

In short, people in Alabama drive a lot. Only four states had a higher number of vehicle miles traveled per capita. Alabama also manages the fifth largest amount of toxic waste per capita, disposing of or releasing 122.9 million lbs of waste in 2005. It also has not implemented very many energy efficiency policies.

Here is an example of something I noticed on our trip to California. We were in the town of 29 Palms, just outside of Joshua Tree National Park.

We had exited the park to get gas, and noticed they used these vapor recovery nozzles on the pumps.

We filled up, and I got to thinking. We live in a metropolitan area that is plagued each summer with high ozone levels. Ground level ozone is created, in part, when gasoline vapors are exposed to sunlight. EPA Ozone Pollution

We filled up knowing that our contribution to harmful ozone was reduced by using this simple device.

Ozone in Birmingham and surrounding communities curtails economic development, and affects the health of thousands each year.

So why, in our city, county, state, do we not require this type of device on gas pumps? Like I said, we are controlled by republicans and evangelicals, and the republicans are against this because it might cost their gas producing corporate buddies (although the cost would really fall on the gas station owners who would pass it on to consumers) a penny or two. Evangelicals don’t care because improving the environment is too close to the ideals of us “tree hugging liberals”. These are attitudes that need to change in our state.

Here is a tree we saw in a botanical garden, in Palm Springs, but it is native to tropical Mexico. The common name is “Cascalote” and the scientific name is Caesalpinia cacalaco. It blooms in the winter and has thorns on the branches that turn into these sharp knobs on the trunks.

Oh, and people keep asking. This picture:

is of the letter “L” enclosed by a circle with a line through it. “No L” “Noel”

>United Air Hell

December 27, 2007

>I really should say “United Ground Hell” because the flight attendants and the crew were great. But their agents at the check in kiosk could care less. And as I found out yesterday, their telephone agents who deal with customer concerns could care less also.

United Airlines has problems that go beyond my little episode, as this story from Chicago tells us. Yesterday they were into their third straight day of cancellations, angering thousands, if not tens of thousands, of customers over the Christmas holiday period. But contrary to what the Chicago story says, yesterday made at least the fourth day in a row for concellations, because our flight on Sunday was cancelled as well.

But that wasn’t even the problem. Because our flight home was actually scheduled for Saturday. We arrived at the Ontario, CA airport one hour before the time our ticket said our plane would leave. Slow downs on the interstate from Palm Springs delayed us a little bit, but not much.

We did not know that United had changed our flight time, so when we tried to check in at the kiosk we learned the flight was closed. No more check ins. According to my cell phone, which I think has pretty accurate time, we were 34 minutes before takeoff.

Now I know it is recommended to get to the airport two hours before scheduled take off and all, the fact is that on the United Airlines ticket envelope it says “Reservations and seat assignments are subject to cancellation for any customer who fails to check in and obtain a boarding pass at least 30 minutes prior to sceduled departure…” and on their website it says the same thing.

I would later learn that the web site “recommends” (not requires) you be there 1-1/2 hours before departure if you plan to check baggage.

They would not relent. Now, the Ontario airport is about like Birmingham’s. It was not busy, there was no one in front of us when we arrived to check in, and no one behind us while we tried to negotiate entry onto the plane. We were right next to security, and there was no line there. So we could have easily made it on to the plane.

Over the next several minutes I heard a man at the next kiosk arguing with the agent becuase he was being bumped from a flight. His flight was overbooked, he had tickets, and he was arguing that he was being bumped because he had acquired his tickets by using miles, rather than purchasing. The agent denied this was the reason, but regardless, he was bumped from his flight due to overbooking.

Around that same time another agent who was trying to find flights for us for that same day finally said “There is nothing. They are all overbooked.”

My conclusion is that our flight was overbooked as well, and since we were (almost) late, they had already allowed someone else to board in our seats. Grrr….

Before I go on, I assure you that others have had bad experiences and are spreading the word.

Here is Lono, for instance, who takes a little time each day to hate United Airlines. Not so much for problems with overbooking and such, but because of this. A couple of years ago, he wrote:

Guess what United decided today, with the company still failing in bankruptcy, and still nowhere near ever making a profit?

United CEO could get $15 million in stock


Three executive vice presidents at United would pocket restricted stock and options worth $6 million each, and four senior vice presidents would each receive equity grants worth $3 million. Thirty-one other company officers would each get $750,000 in grants, and 366 other managers would receive $100,000 in equity.

Wow. I mean, just… WOW. The company went teets up, laid everyone off, went into bankrupcy, reneged on the retirement for all their employees… then gave the suits millions.

Here is Kent’s experience Here


Here is Olivier’s experience Here

So it’s not just me. Anyway, we were rebooked for a flight on Sunday (same flight number, same flight time). But on Sunday, we arrive about 2 hours ahead of departure (the only thing within sight of our cheap hotel room was a Circle K and a Jack in the Box, so not much to keep us from shuttling the quarter mile to the airport), only to be told our flight had been cancelled. Bullhockey.

So they scurried around and found us and another guy seats to Denver on a flight out of Palm Springs (had we known…) and promised to get us there to make the flight, which was leaving in less than two hours. Now, it is impossible to make the trip in less than an hour, so we could not get there one and a half hours ahead of time, but I guess on Sundays at another airport that does not matter.

We entered the airport about 10 minutes before departure, and were told at the counter there was “no guarantee” we would get on the plane and there was “no guarantee” our luggage would get loaded, and that we needed to “run” to the gate.

Well we ran, and I was still getting dressed (I had to remove my belt and of course, my shoes in security) as we crossed the gate (with the gate attendent saying “Go, go,”) running.

But we were on a plane to Denver, and already had boarding passes for the flight to Birmingham.

In Denver we went to the gate where the monitor said If you have a boarding pass you do not need to check in again.” So we didn’t. Mistake.

Instead we went to a pub and ate nachos and fries, and headed back to the gate at the scheduled boarding time. We were in the middle of the pack, and when we reached the gate the agent said “Uh-oh, something’s not right.” Someone was in our seats. She got the 20 second version of my frustration of the last two days, and assured us we would get on the plane. She would just have to remove someone else from the plane so we could have seats. In the meantime, please go to the end of the line.

Well, we got on the plane, those two other people are probably ticked off and blogging about it right now, too.

Here is what United told me yesterday. We were late, and because we were not there 1-1/2 hours before departure, we were denied. They said the flight was not overbooked (even though the agent at the counter said they were all overbooked). I don’t believe them.

They told me that “recommended” (1-1/2 hours) on their web site means “required.” Really, that is what she said. They made up their own definition. But if that were true we should not have been able to board in Birmingham, or in Palm Springs, so that is bull.

They told me that the 30 minute rule on their ticket envelope and on the web site refers only to travellers without checked luggage. Really, that is what she said. They told me I was supposed to know that is what it meant. Really, even though it does not say that in print anywhere.

They will not pay for our cheap hotel room, and offered a pittance compensation equal to about 1/4 the cost of our ticket. In the form of vouchers. And there is another example of their ineptness.

I was told that with the vouchers I have two options.

Use them to purchase (well, part of a purchase) a ticket to anywhere in the continental United States by phone, or in person at the airport. You can not use the voucher for purchases over the internet. If you use the voucher at the airport, you have to have a reservation “on hold”, made by phone, of course, before you can use the voucher. Also, the voucher has to be mailed back to them to make the purchase. I wonder how long you can have tickets “on hold” before you lose them…like during the time the vouchers are in route by mail to United. How archaic.

But that is how they explained it. I asked if the terms would come with the voucher, she said yes. I hope the voucher is written in better “English” than I heard over the phone, and maybe it will make sense.

Dave (and his commentors) says it all, in few (not so nice) words: I hate airlines

And like Stan I wonder what United is thinking. I told the agent on the phone, that after talking to her I was convinced that United does NOT care about customer satisfaction, it is all about feeding the corporate officers and managers.

I hope Ron Paul adds the airlines, United in particular, to his list of corporate fascists that he says is ruining this country. More on that later. For now, I have to think about where to fly on my final United flight, paid for in part with their “travel certificates.” After that, never again.

Update: A reader alerted me to this site through a comment, and it is worth sharing.

Untied Airlines (spelled that way on purpose).

United Air Hell

December 27, 2007

I really should say “United Ground Hell” because the flight attendants and the crew were great. But their agents at the check in kiosk could care less. And as I found out yesterday, their telephone agents who deal with customer concerns could care less also.

United Airlines has problems that go beyond my little episode, as this story from Chicago tells us. Yesterday they were into their third straight day of cancellations, angering thousands, if not tens of thousands, of customers over the Christmas holiday period. But contrary to what the Chicago story says, yesterday made at least the fourth day in a row for concellations, because our flight on Sunday was cancelled as well.

But that wasn’t even the problem. Because our flight home was actually scheduled for Saturday. We arrived at the Ontario, CA airport one hour before the time our ticket said our plane would leave. Slow downs on the interstate from Palm Springs delayed us a little bit, but not much.

We did not know that United had changed our flight time, so when we tried to check in at the kiosk we learned the flight was closed. No more check ins. According to my cell phone, which I think has pretty accurate time, we were 34 minutes before takeoff.

Now I know it is recommended to get to the airport two hours before scheduled take off and all, the fact is that on the United Airlines ticket envelope it says “Reservations and seat assignments are subject to cancellation for any customer who fails to check in and obtain a boarding pass at least 30 minutes prior to sceduled departure…” and on their website it says the same thing.

I would later learn that the web site “recommends” (not requires) you be there 1-1/2 hours before departure if you plan to check baggage.

They would not relent. Now, the Ontario airport is about like Birmingham’s. It was not busy, there was no one in front of us when we arrived to check in, and no one behind us while we tried to negotiate entry onto the plane. We were right next to security, and there was no line there. So we could have easily made it on to the plane.

Over the next several minutes I heard a man at the next kiosk arguing with the agent becuase he was being bumped from a flight. His flight was overbooked, he had tickets, and he was arguing that he was being bumped because he had acquired his tickets by using miles, rather than purchasing. The agent denied this was the reason, but regardless, he was bumped from his flight due to overbooking.

Around that same time another agent who was trying to find flights for us for that same day finally said “There is nothing. They are all overbooked.”

My conclusion is that our flight was overbooked as well, and since we were (almost) late, they had already allowed someone else to board in our seats. Grrr….

Before I go on, I assure you that others have had bad experiences and are spreading the word.

Here is Lono, for instance, who takes a little time each day to hate United Airlines. Not so much for problems with overbooking and such, but because of this. A couple of years ago, he wrote:

Guess what United decided today, with the company still failing in bankruptcy, and still nowhere near ever making a profit?

United CEO could get $15 million in stock


Three executive vice presidents at United would pocket restricted stock and options worth $6 million each, and four senior vice presidents would each receive equity grants worth $3 million. Thirty-one other company officers would each get $750,000 in grants, and 366 other managers would receive $100,000 in equity.

Wow. I mean, just… WOW. The company went teets up, laid everyone off, went into bankrupcy, reneged on the retirement for all their employees… then gave the suits millions.

Here is Kent’s experience Here


Here is Olivier’s experience Here

So it’s not just me. Anyway, we were rebooked for a flight on Sunday (same flight number, same flight time). But on Sunday, we arrive about 2 hours ahead of departure (the only thing within sight of our cheap hotel room was a Circle K and a Jack in the Box, so not much to keep us from shuttling the quarter mile to the airport), only to be told our flight had been cancelled. Bullhockey.

So they scurried around and found us and another guy seats to Denver on a flight out of Palm Springs (had we known…) and promised to get us there to make the flight, which was leaving in less than two hours. Now, it is impossible to make the trip in less than an hour, so we could not get there one and a half hours ahead of time, but I guess on Sundays at another airport that does not matter.

We entered the airport about 10 minutes before departure, and were told at the counter there was “no guarantee” we would get on the plane and there was “no guarantee” our luggage would get loaded, and that we needed to “run” to the gate.

Well we ran, and I was still getting dressed (I had to remove my belt and of course, my shoes in security) as we crossed the gate (with the gate attendent saying “Go, go,”) running.

But we were on a plane to Denver, and already had boarding passes for the flight to Birmingham.

In Denver we went to the gate where the monitor said If you have a boarding pass you do not need to check in again.” So we didn’t. Mistake.

Instead we went to a pub and ate nachos and fries, and headed back to the gate at the scheduled boarding time. We were in the middle of the pack, and when we reached the gate the agent said “Uh-oh, something’s not right.” Someone was in our seats. She got the 20 second version of my frustration of the last two days, and assured us we would get on the plane. She would just have to remove someone else from the plane so we could have seats. In the meantime, please go to the end of the line.

Well, we got on the plane, those two other people are probably ticked off and blogging about it right now, too.

Here is what United told me yesterday. We were late, and because we were not there 1-1/2 hours before departure, we were denied. They said the flight was not overbooked (even though the agent at the counter said they were all overbooked). I don’t believe them.

They told me that “recommended” (1-1/2 hours) on their web site means “required.” Really, that is what she said. They made up their own definition. But if that were true we should not have been able to board in Birmingham, or in Palm Springs, so that is bull.

They told me that the 30 minute rule on their ticket envelope and on the web site refers only to travellers without checked luggage. Really, that is what she said. They told me I was supposed to know that is what it meant. Really, even though it does not say that in print anywhere.

They will not pay for our cheap hotel room, and offered a pittance compensation equal to about 1/4 the cost of our ticket. In the form of vouchers. And there is another example of their ineptness.

I was told that with the vouchers I have two options.

Use them to purchase (well, part of a purchase) a ticket to anywhere in the continental United States by phone, or in person at the airport. You can not use the voucher for purchases over the internet. If you use the voucher at the airport, you have to have a reservation “on hold”, made by phone, of course, before you can use the voucher. Also, the voucher has to be mailed back to them to make the purchase. I wonder how long you can have tickets “on hold” before you lose them…like during the time the vouchers are in route by mail to United. How archaic.

But that is how they explained it. I asked if the terms would come with the voucher, she said yes. I hope the voucher is written in better “English” than I heard over the phone, and maybe it will make sense.

Dave (and his commentors) says it all, in few (not so nice) words: I hate airlines

And like Stan I wonder what United is thinking. I told the agent on the phone, that after talking to her I was convinced that United does NOT care about customer satisfaction, it is all about feeding the corporate officers and managers.

I hope Ron Paul adds the airlines, United in particular, to his list of corporate fascists that he says is ruining this country. More on that later. For now, I have to think about where to fly on my final United flight, paid for in part with their “travel certificates.” After that, never again.

Update: A reader alerted me to this site through a comment, and it is worth sharing.

Untied Airlines (spelled that way on purpose).

>Defending my Opinions…Responding to Letters

December 26, 2007

>I hope everyone had as wonderful a Christmas Day as I did. Christmas here, Christmas there, Christmas all around.

Today the world returns to normal. Not that we can’t continue to enjoy the holidays and the good feelings that they bring us. But serious blogging resumes, and of course, that is what makes the world go ’round. Now, somebody is going to take that serious, and comment how big-headed and misguided I am. If that’s what they think, oh well. They are probably of the misguided koolaid drinker type that continue to check out this site. They are welcome, they might become enlightened.

Take for instance Dr. Doug Smith of Bessemer. He recently responded to my column questioning president Bush from December 12 in The Western Tribune.

For those who do not read the Tribune, here is Dr. Doug Smith’s letter:

In response to the Joe Openshaw left wing, liberal Democratic way of thinking (Dec. 12 column, “Counting time left for George Bush”), I would like to respond.

In rebuttal to Openshaw’s conclusions about Iran and North Korea he obviously only read a little of the report. Iran can restart its nuclear weapon program and produce an atomic weapon within one year.

They only need the nuclear nmaterial which they are producing as I write this. They didn’t have weapons grade material in 2003, but they are producing. If Mr. Openshaw thinks that Iran is not a threat to the rest if the Free World then he is misguided.

If he really is concerned that the psychopath that rules North Korea might not believe President Bush’s diplomatic efforts, then he thinks exactly the opposite of most of the world.

Why should anyone trust North Korea when they have broken every treaty that they have signed.

If anyone thinks that that psychopath who has starved over a million of his people is not a dnager to the rest of the world has their head in the sand or somewhere else.

As far as misleading the American people in the Iraq war Openshaw evidently doesn’t remember Kuwait or all the Resolutions of the United Nations that Saddam Hussein failed to comply with or the money he paid to the families of terrorist bombers who killed Americans or the intelligence gathered by our allies.

I guess Openshaw thinks like John Kerry that the UN and diplomatic talking would have won the heart and mind of Saddam.

Mr. Openshaw, you and your mentors, Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Charles Schumer, Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, Hillary Clinton and other liberal Democrats are the biggest danger to this country, NOT President Bush. You are entitled to your ridiculous opinion but that don’t (sic) make you right. Mr. Openshaw are you kin to Neville Chamberlain?
Dr. Doug Smith
Bessemer

Where do I start? I guess at the beginning. Dr. Smith (oh, by the way, Doc, I’m a Dr. too but you did not offend me by calling me Mr.) pays me a compliment, referring to my left wing liberal way of thinking. Thank you!

According to the “the report” Iran is continuing to produce enriched uranium, for civilian purposes. This is not weapons grade material. Learn a little, Dr. Smith. The report goes on to say that if they used the uranium to produce a weapon, it would take until the middle of the next decade. Not next year. Try seven years.

And I never said Iran was not a threat. My concern was the way Bush is dealing with the threat, by threatening war (WWIII), and lying to promote his cause. Read about the report here .

Here is a headline from Fox News web site: “Bush Administration Credibility Suffers After Iran NIE Report.”

President Bush is not respected in the world, that is a fact. Even the Brits are falling away. A survey from last year shows that “only 14 percent of those surveyed supported the view that Britain should “pursue a foreign policy agenda closer to that of the United States;” 45 percent believed that “Britain should position her foreign policy closer to that of the European Union.” Research Europe

That article sources several other polls that show sour attitudes of the British people with U.S. policy.

So Dr. Smith, if our closest ally is in disagreement with us, do you really think the rest of the world loves us. Travel abroad, listen to people.

But, I also never said North Korea was not a threat to the United States or the rest of the world. I made no comments regarding their leader or supporting their leader. It was our leader George W. Bush that I was critical of. Don’t accuse me of not thinking rogue nations are a threat to our security. But let’s deal with them in ways that might get results, while at the same time restoring our standing in the world.

What does Kuwait have to do with our current war in Iraq? Nothing. Quit trying to spin.

Dr. Smith brings up Saddam’s payment of money to “families of terrorist bombers who killed Americans.” Yes, he paid money to families of Palestinian suicide bombers, and I admit, I am not sure if any Americans were killed in any of the bombings that Saddam paid money for. But I am sure that Saudi Arabia also pays money to suicide bobmers, and they are on of our “allies.” (Yeah right). When are we going to invade them?

As for the intelligence gathered by our allies, why even bring that up. It was just as faulty as our own.

And as for my ancestry, I do have roots in Britian, but Neville Chamberlain is not on our family tree.

Here’s another letter from last week’s paper:

How can you allow such seditious material in your fine newspaper?

Joe Openshaw doesn’t have a clue about the truth.

Harvey White
Hueytown

My response to Mr. White is that rebellion is needed in this country. And it will come in the form of an election in November 2008.

It doesn’t bother me at all that The Western Tribune prints letters about my columns with opposing viewpoints. A conversation is much more interesting when it involves two or more people. I just wish those who opposed me watched the news and understood world events, rather than just drinking the toxic Republican (Fox News) koolaid.

If anyone would like to respond to the paper about my column or the letters, you can submit letters to the editor (300 word limit) thewesterntrib@bellsouth.net, fax to 205-428-0015, or mail to 1530 3rd Ave. N., Bessemer, AL 35020.

Comments are also welcome here.

Defending my Opinions…Responding to Letters

December 26, 2007

I hope everyone had as wonderful a Christmas Day as I did. Christmas here, Christmas there, Christmas all around.

Today the world returns to normal. Not that we can’t continue to enjoy the holidays and the good feelings that they bring us. But serious blogging resumes, and of course, that is what makes the world go ’round. Now, somebody is going to take that serious, and comment how big-headed and misguided I am. If that’s what they think, oh well. They are probably of the misguided koolaid drinker type that continue to check out this site. They are welcome, they might become enlightened.

Take for instance Dr. Doug Smith of Bessemer. He recently responded to my column questioning president Bush from December 12 in The Western Tribune.

For those who do not read the Tribune, here is Dr. Doug Smith’s letter:

In response to the Joe Openshaw left wing, liberal Democratic way of thinking (Dec. 12 column, “Counting time left for George Bush”), I would like to respond.

In rebuttal to Openshaw’s conclusions about Iran and North Korea he obviously only read a little of the report. Iran can restart its nuclear weapon program and produce an atomic weapon within one year.

They only need the nuclear nmaterial which they are producing as I write this. They didn’t have weapons grade material in 2003, but they are producing. If Mr. Openshaw thinks that Iran is not a threat to the rest if the Free World then he is misguided.

If he really is concerned that the psychopath that rules North Korea might not believe President Bush’s diplomatic efforts, then he thinks exactly the opposite of most of the world.

Why should anyone trust North Korea when they have broken every treaty that they have signed.

If anyone thinks that that psychopath who has starved over a million of his people is not a dnager to the rest of the world has their head in the sand or somewhere else.

As far as misleading the American people in the Iraq war Openshaw evidently doesn’t remember Kuwait or all the Resolutions of the United Nations that Saddam Hussein failed to comply with or the money he paid to the families of terrorist bombers who killed Americans or the intelligence gathered by our allies.

I guess Openshaw thinks like John Kerry that the UN and diplomatic talking would have won the heart and mind of Saddam.

Mr. Openshaw, you and your mentors, Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Charles Schumer, Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, Hillary Clinton and other liberal Democrats are the biggest danger to this country, NOT President Bush. You are entitled to your ridiculous opinion but that don’t (sic) make you right. Mr. Openshaw are you kin to Neville Chamberlain?
Dr. Doug Smith
Bessemer

Where do I start? I guess at the beginning. Dr. Smith (oh, by the way, Doc, I’m a Dr. too but you did not offend me by calling me Mr.) pays me a compliment, referring to my left wing liberal way of thinking. Thank you!

According to the “the report” Iran is continuing to produce enriched uranium, for civilian purposes. This is not weapons grade material. Learn a little, Dr. Smith. The report goes on to say that if they used the uranium to produce a weapon, it would take until the middle of the next decade. Not next year. Try seven years.

And I never said Iran was not a threat. My concern was the way Bush is dealing with the threat, by threatening war (WWIII), and lying to promote his cause. Read about the report here .

Here is a headline from Fox News web site: “Bush Administration Credibility Suffers After Iran NIE Report.”

President Bush is not respected in the world, that is a fact. Even the Brits are falling away. A survey from last year shows that “only 14 percent of those surveyed supported the view that Britain should “pursue a foreign policy agenda closer to that of the United States;” 45 percent believed that “Britain should position her foreign policy closer to that of the European Union.” Research Europe

That article sources several other polls that show sour attitudes of the British people with U.S. policy.

So Dr. Smith, if our closest ally is in disagreement with us, do you really think the rest of the world loves us. Travel abroad, listen to people.

But, I also never said North Korea was not a threat to the United States or the rest of the world. I made no comments regarding their leader or supporting their leader. It was our leader George W. Bush that I was critical of. Don’t accuse me of not thinking rogue nations are a threat to our security. But let’s deal with them in ways that might get results, while at the same time restoring our standing in the world.

What does Kuwait have to do with our current war in Iraq? Nothing. Quit trying to spin.

Dr. Smith brings up Saddam’s payment of money to “families of terrorist bombers who killed Americans.” Yes, he paid money to families of Palestinian suicide bombers, and I admit, I am not sure if any Americans were killed in any of the bombings that Saddam paid money for. But I am sure that Saudi Arabia also pays money to suicide bobmers, and they are on of our “allies.” (Yeah right). When are we going to invade them?

As for the intelligence gathered by our allies, why even bring that up. It was just as faulty as our own.

And as for my ancestry, I do have roots in Britian, but Neville Chamberlain is not on our family tree.

Here’s another letter from last week’s paper:

How can you allow such seditious material in your fine newspaper?

Joe Openshaw doesn’t have a clue about the truth.

Harvey White
Hueytown

My response to Mr. White is that rebellion is needed in this country. And it will come in the form of an election in November 2008.

It doesn’t bother me at all that The Western Tribune prints letters about my columns with opposing viewpoints. A conversation is much more interesting when it involves two or more people. I just wish those who opposed me watched the news and understood world events, rather than just drinking the toxic Republican (Fox News) koolaid.

If anyone would like to respond to the paper about my column or the letters, you can submit letters to the editor (300 word limit) thewesterntrib@bellsouth.net, fax to 205-428-0015, or mail to 1530 3rd Ave. N., Bessemer, AL 35020.

Comments are also welcome here.