Thursday, February 24, 2011


I meant to post from New Zealand, I truly did, but there was too much going to the beach and spending all day in my swimsuit and drinking fresh lemonade and just generally enjoying non-life-threatening air temperatures, in contrast to life in Wisconsin. Not to worry, all that pesky fun-having is in the past and I have cast off my Southern Hemisphere indolence and returned to my midwestern lifestyle, where the most fun you can have is engaging in a really satisfying bout of chipping ice off the driveway.

As soon as I left Wisconsin, the state exploded into protests. Which is strange, because as soon as I left New Zealand, there was an earthquake that killed dozens of people. I don't like this trend. I'm worried that if I go over to a friend's house, something really bad will happen as soon as I leave, like maybe they get a nasty case of moths in the pantry or it's not just that they have a high hairline, they really are going bald.

My time in New Zealand was fantastic. In related news, I would like to announce that my kids are rock stars. They were perfectly happy and cooperative the entire time, even to the point where Baby W refrained from pooping during travel. That is a seriously considerate child.

My trip didn't start off well. United told me that because my first flight was delayed "due to weather in Chicago," we would miss all our subsequent flights. It is hard to describe how much I hate United. Sometimes I wish United Airlines was an actual person so that when he tried to friend me on Facebook, I would like so totally ignore the friend request. (Is that too harsh? I'm trying to follow Obama's call for civil discourse.)

I call bullshit on the "bad weather in Chicago" excuse, by the way. According to United, Chicago always has bad weather. United wants us to think that the last day Chicago had weather that did not cause airplanes to be delayed was sometime in the early 1980s. I will admit that "weather in Chicago" is an easy and convenient catch-all to blame bad things on. I am planning to blame "weather in Chicago" for all the bad things in my life, including the fact that notwithstanding all his good qualities, my second child is definitely a tub pooper. Also, "weather in Chicago" is the reason I can't seem to shake this persistent athlete's foot infection. You know, due to all those thunderstorms.

I think United Airlines is hoping that the meaning of the phrase "weather in Chicago" will become divorced from the actual words that make up the phrase, the way that KFC no longer stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken or NAACP no longer stands for National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. We'll just call it WIC and we know it's something very bad. The specifics don't matter.

I eventually did manage to get on various planes and make it to my Air New Zealand flight on time. A flight on Air NZ is totally different from a flight on United, so different that it almost doesn't make sense to use the world "airline" to describe them both. Perhaps we can agree that Air NZ is an airline, and United is a WIC.

When I got on the Air NZ flight, there was a tower of amenities on my seat, including a pillow, blanket, earphones, etc. When they saw I had a baby, they handed me a diaper, a package of wipes, and a tube of diaper rash cream.They handed out goody bags for the kids and even gave a Baby W a cloth bib with a picture of a kiwi bird on it. That's right, while domestic airlines act like the measly package of peanuts they dole out contains the gilded droppings of the golden goose, Air NZ is doing my souvenir shopping for me,

As soon as we got on the Los Angeles - Auckland flight, both kid conked out right away, leaving me with 70 (free) on-demand movies to choose from to watch on my own personal screen.With no kids and plenty of entertainment, it felt almost like one of the 'date nights' that David and I occasionally have, although without the sex. However, Air New Zealand is a full service airline, and I'm sure if I had expressed the slightest interest to one of the flight attendants they would have been happy to oblige.

My return to Wisconsin couldn't have been timed to come at a more interesting moment. Tens of thousands of union supporters are protesting at the capitol building every day to object to the Governor's proposal to make sweeping changes to the collective bargaining power of public workers. More protesters are streaming in from out of state all the time. Anyone who has picked up a newspaper or turned on the radio has heard about the Governor's proposal, but in case you haven't, I know an easy way to sum up his plan: let's just say it's a WIC. 

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