Monday, February 25, 2013

Dog day

Dog day ladies’ meeting

I’m a military brat. That means that while growing up, we would pull stakes up every couple of years (or months) and have a “PCS” (Permanent Change of Station) and move somewhere else.

While seeing new places and meeting new people was a plus, having to reestablish yourself all the time was not.

That’s the kid’s perspective. Imaging being the “dependent” (term military uses for service member’s family) wife.

The trouble is double when you are not living on a military base. No one understands why you are so . . . transient. Back in the 60s, Mom and Dad bought their first home. It was miles from the base, and Mom was having a party for some group of ladies or another. It was all terribly important that it go well, because Mom was out To Make An Impression. She was about to be inspected, by civilians no less, and she was determined to pass.

Mom made all the foods that wowed the other military wives, including her “color cloud” angel food cake. This was a from-scratch angel food cake that Mom would poke holes into and drop in food coloring, creating clouds of color in the cake.

Hey, it was the 60s!

Anyway, all was just about in readiness, laid out of the table, when Mom discovered that she was missing something. This meant that she packed me and my sister into the car for a hurried trip to the store.

When we returned, our fox terrier puppy, Pugs, had cake crumbs all over his muzzle. Sure enough, he had hopped up and taken a bite of the cake.

Mom went white. The ladies were due in minutes.

“Go outside,” she told me and my sister. One look at her face and we knew to hurry.

Mt sister and I played outside while the ladies arrived in a cloud of perfume. We came back in when they left.

Mom was humming to herself as she cleaned up. It must have gone well. No word about the cake.

Finally, I screwed up my courage to ask.


“Yes,” she replied

“Wha-wha-what about the cake? The one Pugs ate?”

“Oh that,” she replied, “I trimmed the edges and told the ladies I had give you girls a piece.”

Mom always has an answer for everything.

Friday, February 15, 2013



OK, I just went through four days of bad food, no power, smelly cabins and human waste all over the place. Now I have to stand in another line to tell some so-and-such that I want a clean bed, a meal, and a hot shower? I don’t want a two-to-six hour bus ride wearing a bathrobe.

That was the fate of the poor passengers of Carnival’s Triumph.

Let’s not forget medical care. After four days at sea without proper food and dodgy (at best) sanitation, it seems likely that passengers and crew might be ill. From a public health standpoint, should they all have gotten a check-up?

I am glad to read that the passengers and crew of the Carnival Triumph got off the ship in one piece and (hopefully) healthy. It must have been a wretched experience.

In the interests of fairness, I and most of my family was aboard Triumph in December of 2010. We had a wonderful time and if I had the money, I would consider taking another cruise. Engine trouble can happen to any mechanical conveyance.

That having been said, I don’t think that cruise would be with Carnival. It’s not because any of the Triumph crew was bad, but rather the decisions made by Carnival management during the 2013 crisis.

I live near Mobile, so take what I say with that in mind.

First, Carnival brings the ship to Mobile. Good move. If Triumph tried to go to Mexico, there would have been passport trouble for about 900 aboard, and returning to Galveston would have been dicey.

(Dumb question: why were people allowed to board without proper passports? My family had to have all their papers in order when we sailed.)

Mobile offers a state-of-the-art repair facility, and the damaged ship will not have to be towed far to reach it.

But what about the people? Instead of being offered a hotel room (with working bathroom and chance to clean up) when they arrived the night of Feb. 14, most of the passengers where whisked away via bus to New Orleans or Galveston. Those who wanted to stay the night in Mobile had to talk to a Carnival representative when they got off the ship.

Right. A bus trip to New Orleans or Galveston. Or talk to some flunky. With no clear idea of what would happen next. I would hate to be on the bus. Worse, I feel for the folks who have to deodorize those buses.

So, what is wrong with Mobile, Carnival? We have hotels, a cruise terminal (that Carnival deserted in 2011) doctors, hospitals, restaurants and hordes of caring people who were eager to assist people in distress. We even have two airports that could be used to fly the passengers to their starting point.

In short, Mobile was ready, willing, and able to offer the passengers assistance. But somehow, we were not good enough.

A final insult: NBC News reported that one of those buses taking people out of Mobile broke down. I can just imagine the comments from the passengers.

Cruise on Carnival? I don’t think so.