Flying with a Side of Fries

Imagine I sat down at a diner and ordered a burger and fries. I went ahead and paid the $10 and they brought me my plate. At this point, I decided maybe I didn't want to eat the fries, so the waiter says, "No worries, sir, let me take that out of your way." He whisks away the fries and leaves me with the burger. Then he returns with a bill for $5. "What's that for?" I ask. The waiter says, "Oh, that's your change fee." "You mean I'm not allowed to eat the burger I already paid for because I don't want to eat the fries?" So now I've got a $15 hamburger.

Oh, and the waiter went and sold my fries to some other customer for even more money.

Folks, that's what the airlines in this country are allowed to do. I bought a round-trip ticket to DC, but it turns out I'm already going to be in New York next week, so I can't use the outbound ticket. But I still want to use the return ticket so I can come home.

Not allowed to do that. If I don't show up for my outbound ticket, the airline cancels the entire trip. There are no refunds, which I'm fine with -- it bothers me a little that they can both charge me and resell the spot, but I understand opportunity cost. What gets me is that if I want to use the return portion of the trip I already paid for, I have to pay a $200 "change fee". Get this -- there is no change to my flight or to my seat or anything except that some other flight I don't want to take gives them the right to charge me nearly half again as much as the original trip.

It should be illegal for me skipping one flight to have a financial impact on my future flights.

Hotels don't do this. If I reserve a room for Monday through Friday but can't make it until Tuesday, if I call up the hotel, they'll say "You have to pay for Monday, of course, but there's no reason you can't come in on Tuesday. And we won't charge you more."

Ridiculous. And downright greedy.

Newark, New Jersey

You should thank me for not going with a response to What did Delaware?

This guy looks like a mean one.

It's safely chained up, anyway.

This is another in the continuing series of wee toaty explorers, a project to keep me busy while I'm on the road. A nice summary is here. The whole set is available if you click on Wee Toaty Explorers.

More Book Parents

I'm not keeping up very well with my commitment to find parents for all the books I read this year. Here is another table of "If this book and that book hooked up and had a kid book, it'd be..."

This book could be the offspring of Notes


Let's be honest, I was lazy on this one.


Not quite as funny as Wooster, but a quick enough read (like Smith's book). Good enough to try a second one.


I liked this one a little better than the first, but it has a bit of ickiness in it that made me think of The Big Sleep.


This one is very much a keeper. Comparing anything to Locke Lamora is high praise in my mind. This one has a bit more about music in it, which is why I lean toward de Lint. I'm not musical so I don't normally get it when books do the whole music thing, but love and belief in music comes through even to me in this and the de Lint books. Also, I was tempted to add Harry Potter to the parentage. This is a kind of Harry Potter for adults.

To be honest, I've read more good books since November than than I did in the previous 3 years combined.

Exploring Explorers

I think these are the first Wee Toaty Explorers that are explorers.

Another new state! These are in Dearborn, Michigan.

This is another in the continuing series of wee toaty explorers, a project to keep me busy while I'm on the road. A nice summary is here. The whole set is available if you click on Wee Toaty Explorers.


Well, it's surprising how quickly my cultural norm has shifted.

I live in a county in California where it is no longer legal for stores to provide plastic bags. In fact, they can't even provide paper bags unless they charge the customer for each bag. For many, I suppose, this is pushing toward using reusable bags. For me, of course, it has just pushed me to being comfortable walking out of the grocery store with an arm full of cereal boxes and soda bottles.

This is in spite of the fact that I have perfectly good reusable bags from Harris Teeter sitting in the back of my car.

I don't have any objection to the law; I hope it is helping me to either improve my memory or to stop worrying about my memory. I have quickly gotten used to the situation.

So much so that this week in Detroit, I am walking around in awe. I just stopped by Target to pick up two 20 ounce bottles of soda to take back to my hotel. By reflex, the cashier started putting them in a bag. I said, "I don't need a bag, thanks." To which she responded by putting the second bottle into the bag, tearing the bag from its nest of companions, giving it to me and saying, "Too late."

The promiscuous plastic bag distribution is quite shocking, and feels almost obscene, or at least rude. Can't everybody see that not every package of gum needs to be further protected by its very own sheath of plastic with a 7-11 logo on it? I have turned from someone who isn't allowed to have bags to someone who can't understand why I'm forced to take your bags.

So quickly we adapt.


Dang, it's been quiet here. Sorry about that, folks. There are pictures coming soon.

In the meantime, here's my cat.