spanish nights

cortes ingles

ho hum

To properly picture the Cortes Ingles, start with Macy’s, but then stack a Best Buy on top, then a Crate & Barrel on top of that, a Home Depot design center on top of that, and put the entire stack onto a Whole Foods. There are probably other stores in there too; I only visited 6 out of 9 levels in the one I went to.

granadan fountain

The photo that didn’t make the cut had a woman holding about 100 Sponge Bob balloons.

catalunya paella

A great order by YT.

eagle claws

Don’t ask, don’t tell. It made sense at the time. Perhaps it was all the delicious paella.

I’m back in NJ now, returning to CO tomorrow.

The trip back wasn’t terribly hard, but we had our share of airport incidents. In MAD, a huge group of Italians started screaming at the gate agent near us. You might be asking yourself, “how can you tell if Italians are angry or if they’re just talking?” A good rule of thumb is to count the number of vaffanculos being screamed per minute. Anything over 136 is likely to indicate anger.

In OPO, we got to experience the new TSA security theatre firsthand. They had to delay our flight by 1.5 hours in order to perform a second security check at the gate, wanding every single passenger and inspecting every single carryon. A lot of people can fit onto an Airbus A330.

It’s the second time I’ve been unimpressed with Portuguese airport logistics. During our EU entry, after processing through customs, trying to re-enter the secure area to connect was an absolute joke. Somehow, in LIS, they decided that it would be a good idea for all the connecting passengers to get their bags, go up an escalator to a landing, and go through a single security gate. Except that the landing was approximately 15′ x 15′, so there was nowhere to really form a line once more than say, 20 passengers and their bags were there. As you might guess, things go south quickly when the contents of an entire Airbus are trying to fit on that landing. People and their bags were getting spit off the escalator and hitting an immobile wall of human flesh, stuck behind the incredibly slow single security gate. Of course the people below the landing couldn’t see the cluster above them, so they’d blithely get on the escalator, expecting (like normal people do) that there’d be somewhere to form a queue, not realizing that upon nearing the top, they were about to become part of soul-sucking blob.

So anyway, flying got even worse when we were away and I’m seriously thinking about curtailing my travel in the future because of the buffoons at the TSA. At least I didn’t have to suffer the indignities of being fingerprinted in two phases (first all four fingers, then separate thumb phase) and having a mug shot taken, as our US customs did to every single non-citizen during our re-entry today. I don’t know why anyone would want to visit the US under those conditions. I’d certainly avoid countries with that requirement.

I bet al Qaeda have evolved their business model. When they were in stealth startup mode, taking out a single Sikorsky with a Stinger missile felt pretty good. Then they IPO’ed, experienced some salad days with 9/11 and Madrid, really getting some efficiencies of scale and putting the “mass” back into WMD. But now, like any mature organization, the accountants are running the business, and they’re milking the cash cow for all it’s worth, putting out crappy releases (Richard Reid, the latest idiot Abdulmutallab ) that no true mujahideen would ever associate with (“back in my day, we made IEDs out of liquid hot magma!”), but still somehow sucking billions of dollars from their consumer base.

[In case the analogy isn’t clear, I’m referring to the immense costs of our pathetically wasteful security theatre.]

Somewhere, some al Qaeda dickhead with an HP 12C is laughing his ass off at us, all the way to the hawaladar.