A Year In Mill Valley

Archive for July, 2009

What should have been the start of a nice vacation turns into a TSA nightmare

We’re off to the Cape for a couple of weeks. Last year’s trip was heavenly, but the weather has been not so good this year so we’re crossing our fingers that we don’t have to sing rain rain go away come again another day for two weeks.
Caught a limo to the airport. Checked in. All is going great. Then we get in line at the checkpoint, and things start to go downhill.
There’s a line, not that long, but it isn’t moving. Along comes a TSA gal shouting about don’t slow down the line by having drinks in your bags. Fair enough, but the slowness isn’t due to problems with drinks in bags it’s due to a new ProVision scanning machine they’re testing.
At the entrance there’s a sign with an outline of a man with his hands up and elbows out. No explanation of what it is. No explanation of the technology. No explanation of what it does or what the agent sees. Does it see through clothing? Is it safe?
I am personally unwilling to be anyone’s experimental subject so I say that I’m unwilling to go through the machine. Interestingly this is allowed but there’s no notice of this anywhere. We are lead through the metal detector and penned in a waiting area to be frisked.
Before I continue let me note a couple of things. First they are sending about half the people through the metal detector without being frisked on the other side. Second going through this scanner takes a long time. Third they are frisking every single person coming through the scanner. Looking at this all I can think is that 1) they’re testing a new machine, 2) they’re using us as guinea pigs, and most importantly 3) they’re looking to see how sheep-like the public is. How many people will question what they’re doing, how many people will wonder if it’s safe, and how many people will say enough is enough? What’s next asking people to strip?
So we’re waiting in this pen and it’s going on 3-4 minutes and there are a lot of people behind us (our stuff is on the conveyor and no one can get their stuff without ours out of the way first). So I ask a TSA guy – who is doing nothing – when we’ll be frisked and he shrugs something about no one available. So I ask for a supervisor who comes over and says they’ll get to it when they have time. So I say in a loud voice that there are a lot of people waiting and that the backups are due to their lack of procedures and unnecessary friskings and maybe they should change their procedures and get rid of this new machine. I am fuming.
Finally a nice young guy comes over and frisks us and we’re on our way. Almost.
The supervisor comes over and asks if I’d like to make a formal complaint and I say yes. He asked for my boarding card – which he doesn’t need to hand me a complaint card – and I can see where this is going. Here’s my guess…next time I fly I’ll be on a list for extra security checks because this guy just feels like it. I’ll let you know.
That said, we’re on descent into Boston and I’m looking forward to sailing tomorrow morning.

Posted via email from backtalk’s posterous

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Miner 49’er


I don’t know how many times my mother has mentioned that there’s a 49’er in our family (that’s the gold type, not the football type). This year Nathaniel’s class did a project on the California Gold Rush, and so I had him call up Granny Weez and ask her to tell him what she knew. In the interest of putting it down somewhere for posterity, here is what she sent him:

“Gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in California. That is not too far from you, Nathaniel.

John Hogan went from Belfast, Maine, to California to dig for gold in 1849.

He drove a stage coach from Maine to Missippi. He went by boat to Nicaragua. He went by rowboat to San Francisco (that’s the story at least). He found gold, and invested in apple orchards in Oregon or Washington.

He returned East in the last 1800s or early 1900s. My mother Ada J. Mahoney, was a very young girl and remembered meeting him, and that he was planning to go to New York City to see the Wild Bill Hickok’s Wild West Show at Madison Square Garden (ref, ref). One tale has it that he had a horse named “Sweet Marie” in one of the first Kentucky Derby races. Marie was the name of my mother’s older sister (Marie Louise Mahoney).

John Hogan was the Great Uncle of Ada Dowling Mahoney (my Grandmother). The Dowlings were shipwrights from Belfast, Ireland. Maine (then part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony) was the source of pine masts for the sailing ships. Certain trees were marked as the “King’s Pines” meaning that no one except King George’s representatives could cut them. The Dowlings and others liked being far away from the King’s rule in Ireland and founded what is now Belfast, Maine. The were boat builders, ship captains, pilots and stayed on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. One Dowling — Captain John Dowling — was lost at sea in a big storm in the 1920s, between Boston and Portland. Your Uncle Chris has the middle name “Dowling”.

Ada J. Mahoney Horgan, your Great Grandmother, was the daughter of Ada Dowling Mahoney, and John Hogan was her Great Uncle. That means you go back to John Hogan via:
– Your Father: Frank Leahy
– Your Grandmother (me): Louise Horgan Leahy
– Your Great Grandmother (my Mother): Ada J. Mahoney Horgan
– Your Great Great Grandmother (my Grandmother): Ada Dowling Mahoney
– Your Great Great Great Great Uncle: John Hogan

Hope this helps with your class, and is not too confusing.
Love, Granny Weez”

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At The Depot

I walked in the house yesterday after coming home from work, and Nathaniel said “Hey Dad, you’re in Marin Magazine!”. “Really, let me see?” I said.

Sure enough, there I am on p. 42 gracing the article on Mill Valley, looking at the photographer, camera in hand, waiting to walk over to the redwood glen with 15 five and six year olds for Sebastian’s birthday party. You can see one of the party goers — Kleigh — there in the middle, running with feather and fringe flying (Kleigh is Sebastian’s favorite girl friend from his kindergarten class). After a quick note to Lisa Shanower, publisher at Marin Magazine (Hi Lisa!), photographer Tim Porter very kindly sent me a digital copy of the photo…thanks Tim!

Here are a couple other photos from the party.

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