Friday, December 15, 2006

Travel tips

Just started packing my suitcase last night. I'm heading up to Idaho to spend some time with my family, and I just realized, I haven't seen snow since 2002! Living in the sonoran desert can do that to you I guess. But as I packed my bags, I got to thinking about some of the recent changes by the TSA regarding carry on items.

* Always verify baggage limits with your carrier. Some airlines allow only 2 checked bags, some allow 3. Be aware that if you go over the free limit, excess fees will come into play, and you pay those fees one way - if you're still heavy, oversize, or have too many bags on your return flight, you'll have to pay again.
* Your airline may allow 1 carry on and 1 personal item, but the aircraft may not be able to handle it. Many smaller commuter jets, like the Canadair Regional Jet have limited carry on space. Larger carry on bags may have to be placed beneath the seat, or gate checked.
* Beverages are not permitted through security. Drinks purchased after you've been though security may be taken onboard.
* When it comes to toiletries in your carry-on bag, remember 3-1-1...items weighing no more that 3 oz in a 1 quart bag, 1 per passenger. These items should be kept at the top of your luggage, just in case the TSA agents need to take a closer look at your bag. Of course, there's no limit on the amount of these items that can be placed in checked luggage.
* And always during the holidays, remember to give yourself at least 2 hours to checkin for your flight. Checkin and security lines will be long. In fact, if you check in too late, while you may still have 45 minutes left before departure, if the lines are too long, you may be denied boarding.

Happy flying and have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I didn't see Marion . . .

. . . the librarian, but the last three weeks have been great as I've rediscovered the local library. Since moving out to the sticks, the local library options have been limited. The town we live in has a small modular (read: trailer) home that manages to squeeze every book they can into the limited space. Unfortunately, there's not that much more room, and the offerings are a bit scant. One day after work, I drove through a part of town I hadn't been to before (I work in a metro area, but live in a bedroom community miles away) and discovered a branch of the metro library. I also discovered that anyone living in the county, not just the city, could become a patron. It's only been since November 28th that I discovered the library, but what a great three weeks. And here's the kicker. For those who know me, or read my blog back in ... what was it March? I had an article or two on the state of comics. I've read at least a hundred graphic novels and comic trade paperbacks since getting my card, and I'll tell you, I've found some new winners.

Ultimate Spider-man. Wow. When I first heard about it, I was part of the camp that wondered why in the heck Marvel wanted to throw out 40+ years of continuity to create a new universe for tweens to discover classic Marvel characters. I mean, yeah, the clone saga was pitiful, but we're talking Spider-man here! John Romita, Steve Ditko, Todd Macfarlane, Erik Larson, John Romita Jr, the list goes on . . . Spidey's the supreme example of what could happen to any of us if we got bit by a radioactive spider - life sucks, we try to make it better, but it's always a roller coaster. You don't mess with Spidey. Or so I thought. Cut to, what is it now, six years later, and boom, Ultimate Spiderman has just celebrated issue number 100. I've picked up the trades out of curiosity, and I've read them a bit out of order. I can't say I'm much of a Brian Michael Bendis fan, a lot of his stuff is too "adult" for my tastes, but he nailed Spiderman on the head. For me, it feels like a natural progression as Peter discovers his powers, loses Uncle Ben, finds love from Mary Jane, and disowned by Aunt May. It's great writing, great art (by Mark Bagley), and something a lot of books don't have - heart.

Another book that has heart is "Herobear and the Kid." This book has received a LOT of praise, and I even picked up the first issue a few years ago, but it's only been over the last few weeks that I've read the first volume. I've read "indy" books since the days of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and I love "Bone." "Herobear and the Kid" reminds me a lot of what I found interesting about Bone when I first discovered it. Something about the black and white creates a sense of innocence and wonder in these books, and in this case enhanced by the animated pencils of writer/artist Mike Kunkel. In it's later issues, Bone got a little too serious, compared with its beginnings. I don't think that'll be the case with Herobear. It's loaded with heart, and dare I say whimsy. I can't wait for the next installment now.