Monday, January 09, 2006

Perfect Vacation, Airport Security and my latest read

Its been quite a while since i wrote some thoughts and actions i have been upto lately. I have been off work from New Years Eve till now and it has been an enriching experience. I cancelled my trip to India...and that was sad for multiple depleted my chance of a perfect vacation and also depleted my pocket of $250. Sometime i wonder, why we have to pay to cancel a ticket? These Airline companies will surely find another person flying to India in no time. If they dont..the travel agencies will be waiting for it to happen so that they can coax a client with higher prices. I understand the cancellation charges for a domestic airline(since i experienced my flight from Omaha to Denver was close to empty and so was my flight from denver to sacramento), but its absurd to charge 1/5 the price of the ticket as cancellation charges.

This was my first New Year since the Millenium that I spent with family and I admit it was a welcome change. I love hanging out with friends and paartying but internally i am family guy per se. I think living in USA makes you appreciate your family that much more( esp if they are in another country) and since i havent seen my parents for 3 years, it was a pleasure to be with them and spend my New Year with them. I would have loved to spend the New Year with family in India but spending it in USA gave my dad some joy as he had a dream to spend the New Year here atleast once.

My idea of a perfect vacation is where you have the following:
1) A bed which permits you to sleep for 12 hrs atleast
2) A great TV and have bountiful of movies and food.
3) Family or Friends.
4) Dont do too much( I recently went to Orlando to meet my best buddies and we were in the hotel or in Daytona beach or a dance club just hanging out. As much as i wished to see Universal Studios etc etc..i did not see it since i would lose time spent with my pals.)

Airport Security in USA is probably the most under-discussed topics of the year. People talk a lot about security officers being racial and some of the reports i hear about racial profiling maybe true but the fact remains that you wont know till you are a victim. I have been almost never been subject to special security screening and since security officers usually base it on computer generated "SSS" on the boarding pass, it is easy to know when you are selected. I got pulled this time in Omaha airport and I observed 10-20 people behind me or ahead of me in the line did not have the "SSS" screening done. I lazed around a little after my screening was done, slowing down the process of me getting up and leaving to my boarding gate and realised that so far nobody in front or behind me had gotten the "SSS" which begs me to the question: Is the "SSS" generated in the boarding pass truly random or is it monitored by people or is it monitored by an AI program that scans First and Last Names generated and matches it to the common English names? I might sound far-fetched and too much opinionated but as soon as they pulled me over I noticed the eyes of the security officers to each other saying " check him ". Technically i was not a victim of profiling but i wondered why non-whites get "SSS" tagged most often?. Another incident in the airport prompted me to say this- One of my relatives had an "SSS" on her kid's boarding pass and the kind was 4 year old. My question to the airport authorities is this: How can a 4 year old kid know anything to jeopardize the security of an airplane or airport for that matter?

I am currently reading Michael Crichton's "State of Fear" which debunks the theory of global warming with some eye-popping facts. Lot of critics recognize this book as a fast paced thriller but many are unsure of believing that the world is not affected by the greenhouse gases. I will discuss more on this topic sometime soon.