Tuesday, March 17, 2015

It's not that easy bein' green

                                 Bein Green by Kermit the Frog:
It's not that easy bein' green

Having to spend each day the color of the leaves
When I think you could be nicer being red or yellow or gold
Or something much more colorful like that

It's not that easy being green

It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over
Cause you're not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water
Or stars in the sky

But green's the color of spring

And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like an ocean
or important like a mountain
Or tall like a tree

When green is all that is to be

It could be you wonder
But, Why wonder, why wonder
I'm green, and I'll do fine
And it's beautiful, and I think it's what I wanna be

Like Kermit, I have had a hard time embracing “bein green.” I am pale green at best. Decades ago with the advent of the recycling bins I tossed something plastic into the trash and my friend asked me why. I told him I just really wasn’t that interested in the environment. What tiny difference would my contribution make…enough other people were doing it.

Then the indisputable argument: "What about the world your kids are going to inherit? And your grandkids?” Once I finally remembered to have kids, I had to care. I was moved to get a little greener.

Earth Day began in 1970. It went global in 1990 but that was still three years before I had my first child. Call me a late adopter but the truth is I haven’t even made a concerted effort to become greener until recent years.

Watered Down Attempt

I am perhaps the most well hydrated  person on earth.. I consume a minimum of five 21 ounce plastic bottles of water daily. I have then at work, I have them in my car, I sneak them into movie theaters in my purse. That means our household has to have a constant supply of at least three 24 packs from Costco on hand to feed my habit.
Supply enough for Armageddon

But then I learned from my son, who attends a “liberal arts” college, that plastic bottles just aren’t cool. Campus kids use refillable water bottles .All of them have a CamelBak or some other brand accessorizing their backpacks like the green badge of courage.

So, I started being “open minded.” The first step was refilling my plastic waters instead of throwing them into the overflowing recycling bin. To be honest, I didn’t do this, my husband (much greener) did it for me. 


And then, mirabile dictu, on Christmas of 2014 I asked Santa to give me a refillable water bottle. Now I can carry this proudly into business meetings and people don’t  look at me like someone who has just arrived with a small bag of turds.

My very own reusable bottle

Just Say No (if you can hear yourself)

Here’s one thing I will never go green on—the air drying machines in public restrooms. They are abhorrent and they don’t work. As my son once said, when he sees one of those he knows he will be drying  his hands on his jeans, a sort of modern day Mr.Greenjeans.

To raise the ante on office greenery, our adminstrators have installed the new and modern Dyson hand dryer. This thing is louder than sitting in the front row of a Rolling Stones concert (yes, I’ve been there,this is not an analogy). 

The Dreaded Dyson

I turn to the paper towel option immediately. I’m afraid the only way I will ever become more green in this department is with the return of the “ladies room attendant” who hands you a cloth towel at the sink.A lovely tradition. I think the last time I saw that service was at The 21 Club in New York City. Please bring them back America. It’s a jobs creator and environmental winning combo.

Paper towels, ahhh

Ways in which I have glady gone green:

Nailed It

  • Going to The Dry Bar to have someone else use their water and electricity supply to blow dry my hair.
  • Buying a Mini Cooper. My car-bon footprint is that of a toddler’s.  
  • Getting my nails done green

So I’ve made inroads into getting green. I'm green light. But I am afraid I will never be forest green. The color doesn’t become my complexion.

But as Kermit concludes by the end of his lament:

I'm green, and I'll do fine

And it's beautiful, and I think it's what I wanna  be

Now I think, at least.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Monday, March 2, 2015

Seat Back Impressions: First time on Frontier and Alaska Airlines

Frontier Airlines: Washington National Round-trip to Memphis 

First of all what the hell is an airline named Frontier doing flying that route? They also go from St. Augustine, FL to Newark. Perhaps I bring a personal bias about the term “frontier,” having grown up in the desert, the real "frontier." The word connotes the vast underpopulated regions of the unknown—like Yuma, or Death Valley—or  California--whatever comes next if you travel west from Tucson. Back in the day, Tucson had a tiny little airport with about five airlines. One of them was Frontier.  I envisioned a pilot in jeans, boots and a cowboy hat casually strutting across the dusty runway climbing the stairs two at a time before jumping into the saddle-fitted cockpit to take control.

Grizwald Got Us There
Foxy Got Us Home

But it turns out this Frontier Airlines is NOT your father’s Frontier Airlines. The new Frontier was launched in 1994, is based in Denver and serves 76 locations.The old Frontier Airlines existed from 1950 to 1986 and the first president and co-founder was my husband’s namesake, Harold (Hal) Darr.  We discovered Frontier when looking for cheap flights from Washington DC to Memphis, TN where my son attends college.

The Frontier flight I was on was a brand new plane, out for its third excursion. When the flight attendants were wheeling the cart near me I heard one of them inhale deeply and say “Ahh, I love the smell of new airplane” with much the same relish as Lieutenant Colonel William "Bill" Kilgore when he said “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” in Apocalypse Now.

Frontier Airlines name their planes after animals. Oh yes they do. Per the company website “Our spokesanimals represent our character, commitment to service, and humorEach airplane carries a unique spokesanimal from their "stable” of 50. Read their bios at Frontier's stable.  My favorite is Oscar the Otter whose quote is: "Mi aeroplano es su aeroplano."

The Stable

We flew on Grizwald the Bear outbound and Foxy the Fox on the return. Their images are on the tail and disturbingly, also on the wing. If you are seated on the wing and look out the window, it appears an animal is there. It’s a bit like that 1963 Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” where the man was convinced that he saw a "gremlin" on the wing of the plane. [Millenials, please refer to Nightmare at 20.000 Feet]

Humor in air travel is a core value of mine. It helps me forget I am flying. One of the best lines was when a Southwest flight attendant, during the safety announcements, said: “If you are traveling with a small child today, what were you thinking?”  So when I received a thin paper napkin with an image of Grizwald the Bear saying that the napkin could also be used as an eye mask, I thought that was pretty good. Plus the staff refers to the plane as said animal throughout the flight. Gotta love airplane anthropomorphism.  

Alaska Airlines: Washington National Round-trip to Seattle
The "Smiling Eskimos"

Alaska Airlines, on the other hand, has a “smiling Eskimo” as the logo on the tail. We don’t know his name, his likes or his dislikes. He represents the no-nonsense nature of this airline. When I booked my reservation I was slightly disturbed by the low flight numbers. DCA to Seattle was Flight Number One and the return was Flight Number Three. Really? Why do all the other airlines have flight numbers in the thousands?

Are we the virgin flight for this leg? Reading the history, there is nothing virgin about Alaska Airlines. It started in 1932 with a Stinson single engine three passenger aircraft. Glad I missed that. But not so glad I missed 1967, when to celebrate the Alaskan centennial, the flight attendants dressed in Edwardian outfits. Alaska gets nothing but praise in the industry—in 2010 it was ranked the most efficient airline operating in the United States. In 2014, JD Power and Associates ranked Alaska Airlines highest in customer satisfaction of traditional airlines for the seventh consecutive year. I can see why.   

Alaska Airlines flights are all-business and yet the pilots are kind enough to keep you informed and reassured about the progress. I find this comforting. I hate radio silence from the cockpit. It makes me think something is wrong.

Was it the Hat?
I liked the airline as soon as I boarded because the two flight attendants greeting me told me I was cute and fawned over me. I was wearing my red winter hat with a black flower pinned to side.Who cares about complimentary drinks when you can get free compliments?

My seatmate was a Millennial.  When he saw that I was reading David Foster Wallace, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, he warmed to me right away. There’s no better way to bond with a Millennial than to be reading a book by a drug-addicted suicidal author. We talked about the writer's brilliance  and went immediately to the big DFW question: “Have you read Infinite Jest?”  He said he had not but he knows someone who has. I doubt it. I don’t think anyone has finished it. That’s why it’s called Infinite Jest, suggested one writer friend of mine—David had the last laugh on us. I asked The Millennial if he had flown Alaska Airlines before and how he liked it. He said no, and he didn’t much care for the cold attitude of the flight attendants. I said: “They liked me. They told me I was cute.”  The Millennial said: “It’s the hat.” After a suitable interval of witty repartee, we parted ways to sink into our isolated activities of choice for the next seven hours.    

The flight was flawless.

I Just Wish They'd Told Me about the "Salmon Thirty Salmon"