Holiday Travels Part 13 - It Wouldn't Kill You to Burn 10 Extra Calories

Americans are, collectively, pretty fat. This isn't me being a dick; it's statistics, and biostatistics in particular, and epidemiology specifically. Math doesn't lie. That's why it always amazes me how many people ride the escalator or the moving walkway at airports, when stairs and non-moving walkways are a freely available option. Like...pretty much everyone. Except me. I like using my leg muscles. They are some of the biggest burners of calories in my body after my abdominals (and yours too), real powerhouses, thanks in fair measure to bicycling. If I use the stairs or non-moving walkways at the airport, especially with a carry-on bag slung over my shoulder, I can probably burn 10 to 15 more calories than I otherwise would. It's not much, but it's not zero.

I can understand that some people are unfit. Or maybe they have emphysema and pass out on exertion. Or maybe they packed cinder blocks in their backpacks. But everyone? I don't buy it. I can understand it, and in fact appreciate it, when families with small children take the automated route. It entertains the kids and it also keeps the youngsters out from underfoot as I burn extra calories taking the analog route. Win win.

I guess some of it is probably peer pressure too. They are following the herd. If everyone else is taking the path of least resistance, there's a strong social pressure to follow suit. But like my mom says, "NOT ME, MAN!" I enjoy committing micro non-conformities in public (though usually not micro aggressions...see below).

The chick sitting in front of me on this plane from Denver to Madison though...she seems to thrive on micro aggressions. Check out how she draped her coat over her seat so that it's totally in my already super confined space. WTF? I don't know you, beeotch! Maybe she is OC germ phobic and did it so she wouldn't have to touch the seat during the flight, but if that is the case, then she did it wrong. The inside surface of her coat is all over that seat now, and I'm guessing whatever germs are on the seat will be on her the next time she puts on her coat. I'll confess though that I micro aggressed right back a little bit by tucking the slack ends of her coat into the seat pocket in front of me. She'll never even know how many germs the coat will collect on this flight. Again, I am not the dick here. If I were a dick, I'd rifle through the inside pockets of her coat, which I can freely access without her knowledge, looking for bounty. I may still do that, and if I do, feel free to call me a dick. But I have clearly wasted more mental energy than I should have on this micro aggressing millenial's obliviousness. Suffice to say, some people suck and deserve to be publicly ridiculed.

When I started this post, I was sitting at Gate A46 with some time to kill before the plane boarded. I was mostly engrossed in my writing, but my ear space was invaded by a couple of passengers trying to one-up each other on who had the worst recent flying experience. Canceled flights, long delays, re-routing on other airlines that cost them "thousands of dollars." Damn. I am sure glad my air travels have been fairly smooth and painless. I can't back this up with science, but I am pretty sure some people ATTRACT bad experiences, drama, and negativity. There is even a name for it: The Law of Attraction. To wit, you attract that which you put out to the Cosmos. If you think and act negatively, the Cosmos doubles down on sending negative things your way. It works similarly for positive thoughts and actions...the Cosmos sends more good things your way. It sounds hokey, but it kind of fits my empirical observations of the world. There are lots of explanations that don't require cause and effect. The directionality of the Law of Attraction may even be reversed. Maybe when negative things happen to a certain kind of person, they embrace it with a kind of "life is suffering" mentality. Maybe such people conflate negative experiences and minimize positive ones, even though both positive and negative experiences happen to them with about equal frequency, more in accordance with the Law of Averages than the Law of Attraction. This hypothesis holds some water for me because during times when I am feeling positive about my life, I've been more attuned to positive experiences, such as receiving money unexpectedly in the mail or scoring a lucrative music or writing gig. My mind creates the cause and effect, though the probabilities are no different than what would be predicted by random chance.

Anyway, I leave it to you, dear reader, to ponder the ins and outs of your Cosmic destiny. But I advise trying to maintain a positive outlook on life whenever possible. In a very real sense, the Universe is trying to kill you, but thanks to evolution by natural selection (your genes), socialism (in the broader sense of being a social animal), and a planet with "Goldilocks" attributes,* it's actually pretty effing hard to die. In fact, sitting on this airplane (now in flight at cruising altitude, and notwithstanding some significant turbulence) I am counterintuitively one of the SAFEST HUMANS ON THE PLANET. Flying airplanes are ridiculously safe spaces (notwithstanding occasional micro aggressions) and your chances of dying on one are lower than your chance of death from just about EVERYTHING ELSE, even controlling for the probability of sudden cardiac death (R.I.P. Carrie Fisher), which has about the highest probability amongst deadly things of killing you. This includes, I believe (though I can't access the Giant Internet Brain to verify it because my tablet is in airplane mode), death from brain eating parasites. So if you die on a plane, it will probably be from some pathology, and for the record, Carrie Fisher didn't technically die ON the plane thanks to a fellow passenger who was an EMT. She died later in the hospital, which as you might expect is a place with a very high per capita mortality rate.

As this plane was taxiing to the runway to take off, some crackerjack in the seat across from the micro aggressing millenial made a last ditch run for the lavatory. Maybe he made the mistake of downing a large coffee and two bran muffins before boarding, but whatever the case, the flight attendants were in strong objection to this move and pre-empted his ablutionary ambitions, sending him back to his seat. Almost as soon as the plane took off, the guy took advantage of the temporary absence of flight attendants (seated way up front) to bum rush (pun intended) the lav again, this time successfully. I urge and beg my fellow humans, please stop being idiots! I realize our culture and mainstream media glorify and exalt buffoonery, but in this case I strongly back the guiding philosophy of "what would Jesus do?" I am pretty sure Jesus would have taken a huge sh!t before getting on the plane.

I took the scenic route to getting to today's perhaps final entry of my holiday travels (unlucky #13 notwithstanding, I still have only epsilon chance of dying on this plane, where epsilon is a number negigibly larger than zero). I awoke on a memory foam mattress this New Year's Eve morning about 8 AM and found my parents and sister having a granola-ish breakfast upstairs. I opted to make an egg white frittata with a bunch of veggies, after which I bade my sister a huggy adieu, for she had to run off to some prior commitment she had and would not be back before my folks and I had to drive to Denver ahead of our flights home. I had about an hour to kill before we had to leave, so I used it efficiently to practice piano up in my niece's room (she being in absentia sleeping over at a friend's house). About two minutes before I finished practicing, my mom hollered up the stairs at me, "We have to go in about 10 minutes!"

"I'll be ready in two!" I hollered back. As it turned out, we were both off by about five minutes.

The drive up to Denver was pretty smooth. I filled up the rental car with gas at a Sinclair gas station near my sister's house, since I knew the gas stations near the airport rental car places would be overpriced and wanted to minimize the financial hit. My parents were booked in at a Denver airport hotel for tonight, because their flight back to Ohio isn't until early tomorrow morning, and we arrived there early enough to have a trip concluding lunch together at an Applebees across from the hotel. I had a Santa Fe chicken breast with a side of steamed broccoli (it came with rice, which I willfully ignored: "Yo no como arroz."). After lunch, I drove my folks up to the hotel entrance and we hugged out some farewells. I topped off the gas in the rental car before going to the EZ Rental Car return. I discovered the latter was closed but followed the sign posted there that said: If the office is closed, return your car at [wholly owned subsidiary] Advantage. The latter establishment was just a few doors up and the car was returned expediently to the underpaid (I'm sure) Somali (I'm pretty sure) attendant in the lot. Equally expediently, a shuttle bus to the airport was waiting for me, as if on cue.

The rest is pretty straightforward. I passed through TSA security with minimal exposure to micro aggressions and macro idiotics and found my way to the gate where I began pounding out this screed. At the moment, I can sense the pilot making anticipatory adjustments to wing flaps and airspeed as we near descent into Madison WI where I will meet the loving embrace of my soul mate Deborah as romantic orchestral refrains play in the underscore (not). But we will probably go out for a quasi-romantic dinner and debrief each other on our week apart.

I guess I will leave you with this final scene. High fiber lavatory federal regulation violator guy (let's call him Lou...Lou Stoolz) has been trying to hit on millenial micro aggressor (let's call her Mikah...Mikah R. O'Gressor...ok, I know that sucks...I am in a hurry to wrap this up before we land) for about the last half of this flight, to no avail. So I guess that's sort of a karmic reward. Mikah is micro harassed and Lou is micro rejected. Lose lose.

OK, share it if you like it.

Peace out!

*Note: The spatial positioning of planet Earth in the Sun's so-called "Goldilocks Zone" (not too hot and not too cold, but just right to support carbon based life forms) is not, strictly speaking, independent of evolution by natural selection, because the latter is highly dependent on the former. That being said, the scientific consensus that carbon based life is the be all end all of life in the Universe seems somewhat carbon based life-centric to me, and the silicon based Fire People of Regulus 7 are in agreement with me on this.

P.S. Again, after the plane landed and was taxiing to the gate, Lou Stoolz took another illegal run to the lav and was chastised by the flight attendant for violating the universally understood faster seatbelt sign.

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