Monday, January 10, 2011

Narrow Boats and Aero Planes

From: Les Biggs
To: Jaqueline USA
Josher bow, courtesy of
Date: Saturday, January 23, 2010
Subject: On the Move Again
Hi Jaqueline,
      Many thanks for the invite and one day i might just take advantage of your warmth and hospitality. The urge to re-visit Vegas is still strong and on my to do list.
      If you go for a new boat that is a name i.e. Josher, Crown, Fernwood, you will get a quality boat for lots of cash. Now my boat has a budget shell made by a small company and fitted out by a one man business. At the end of the day it floats and the interior is a very nice American Oak to the sides and ceiling, and i saved £30k by not having a name and some fancy carved woodwork. That extra cash enables me to have a comfortable lifestyle.
      You have a subscription to Canal Boat i see, i also read Waterways World and if you give me your address i will post(mail) some copies so you have more information to hand.
      Jaqueline, I no more think of you as a wack job than any of the other people i correspond with; we are all people with a common interest. Independence is a wonderful thing, hang on to it.
      The solar panel has been installed just 2 days ago and a blog will follow but i will say the English weather is not giving good results but patience is a virtue, think that`s correct.
      At the moment i am at Winkwell, Hertfordshire (try Google Earth) aiming to get past some lock repairs that will close the canal for 3 weeks starting on Monday. You're getting insider information here...The "where am i now" on the blog will show my exact location just this once for you as i will be on the move Sunday AM.

  Dear Sir is over on his side of the Atlantic scratching his head and wondering why I mentioned "Wack jobs." My experience working in distance education has provided me with direct experience interfacing electronically with the mentally ill. 
     Prior to computers, the Internet, and email, those who were too ill mentally to function daily in society were seldom seen and little heard. With the advent of twenty first century technology folks who find it hard to function socially for a variety of reasons suddenly have the world at their fingertips. 
     This technology also allows dangerous individuals--sociopaths and psychopaths--an opportunity to let their fingers do the walking. With the ready availability of our personal information on line, it pays to be wary. I just want to reassure Dear Sir that while I do have a wacky and irrepressible sense of humor (some call it "bent") I am not a sandwich shy of a picnic.
 From: Jaqueline Almdale
To: Les Biggs
Subject: Happy New Year from Pullman WA USA
Date: Sat, 23 Jan 2010  
Hi Les, 
     Well it appears to be warming up to decent winter weather on your side of the Northern hemisphere. And here in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) we’ve had an early bout of spring since Christmas with temperatures in the 50 F (10 C) range and no snow. Last year at this time we had over 6 feet of snow and severe weather warnings which closed the University and kept us all socked in at home. Ah well....Right so no fancy name brand shells. Good to know. I’m enjoying using the design option on the Waterways World web site.
     The Internet can in fact allow some very imbalanced and unhealthy individuals access to us, and I do experience this from time to time in my profession as an academic advisor for my university’s Distance Degree Programs. Our students complete their degrees entirely on line and never come to campus. This allows some extremely mentally ill folks to gain access to our system and create havoc in the on line learning environment. 
     Due to legal issues we have to be extremely careful to provide a long due-process to protect their rights before they can be expelled. In the meantime there is no reasoning with them of course, but they can suck up huge amounts of our time dealing with all the attendant issues—real and imagined. 
     I will follow your blog with interest as the days grow warmer and sunnier. I read somewhere else about a boat with polycrystalline solar panels installed that generate 160 watts in full sun and continue to generate energy on cloudy days. I am a fan of back up systems, having lived through several natural disasters in my life time of epic proportions. 
     I enjoyed your Swedish boy toy blog entry and the chemical explanation of melting ice. I was also mightily impressed with the picture of the temporary glazed window with the use of the kit. The clarity of the view is better than I have managed on some windows at home! 
     I have begin writing my book. I have the forward and the first chapter completed in rough draft. 
     Heading off to Google Earth now to catch of view of Winkwell Hertfordshire.  
Jaqueline X 
Japan Airlines at Anchorage Int'l
P.S. Loved the Frank Sinatra satire on terrorists. As a youngster I used to work at Anchorage International Airport cleaning airplanes. About that time (1977-79) my Sunday afternoon plane was Japan Airlines flight 6 (JAL FLT. 006), which had a consistent bomb threat called in like clockwork. 
     Some fat cat with the FAA decided the best (i.e. “cheapest”) manner to address this danger was to train us groomers to look for bombs—because we knew the interiors of the planes better than anyone else—and well, if a groomer paid $3.25 an hour is blown up there’s not much to miss all the way around. We took an intensive course in how bombs are made, and with what, and were henceforth instructed to go forth and look for them in our daily duties. 
Korean Airlines leaving Anchorage Int'l
     As a result of what I know, I refuse to fly. All of the crap in place at airports to catch bombers doesn't really stop someone utterly determined to blow up a plane. It does however make the average air traveler’s life truly miserable. 
     JAL FLT 006 gave up that Sunday afternoon slot and Korean Airlines replaced it (KAL FLT. 007). It was this plane the USSR blew out of the sky on September 1, 1983.
Yes, it really was like this
           I remember the days when air travel was comfortable and airlines treated every passenger like royalty. I recall real meals (and if they were cooked by Northwest Airlines flight kitchens everything was prepared fresh from scratch that morning) such as Beouf Borgonon, fresh salads garnished with caviar, delicious crusty rolls with real butter and your choice of beverage. Pillows were down and blankets were wool, AND...this was all in economy class.
First class airline meal, 1970
     First class received Filet Mignon, baby buttered potatoes, crab, lobster, champagne, leather slippers, and fresh, hot cloth hand towels along with their slightly larger seats. Now days such amenities are only available to those who are truly well off and can afford to shell out thousands to fly. 
airline meal today
     For the rest of us, a mean experience awaits as they jam you into seats nut-to-butt, charge you for everything from a Kleenex to a drink of water, insist you cannot bring more than 3 oz. of any liquid on board (and believe me that won't stop someone from attempting to blow up a plane), riffle through your checked in luggage--after strip searching you at the airport; insist you bring no more than will fit in a fanny pack on board or they charge $50.00 extra, then they throw a bag of peanuts at your head and tell you to enjoy your trip. 
I believe you have my seat!
     On a flight home to Alaska in 1994 I traveled on a budget flight for the first--and last time. We were packed into our seats so tight I had carnal knowledge of the people on either side of me. My plastic wrapped sandwich came on a bun with a burned, blackened bottom, limp week old lettuce, a thin veneer of margarine, and mystery meat. I was surrounded on all sides by crying babies and antsy children who could not shut up or sit still. I swear to God I thought live chickens were going to pop out of the over head storage cupboards before the flight was done. 
     I wonder how the airplane groomers feed themselves these days. Back when I cleaned planes we were paid the princely sum of $3.25 an hour. In order to survive on our wages we made haste to be the first ones on a plane once it landed and passengers disembarked. 
   The FDA has regulations about food which has flown above a certain altitude. Leftover food on international flights  (untouched and unopened) must be incinerated on the ground, so entire cases of wine, unopened bottles of whipped cream, and dozens of unopened meals were slated for the garbage.  If we could beat the food service truck to the plane, we could have the economy meals that were not opened along with the delicious first class servings of Filet Mignon and baby veg, platters of shrimp, lobster, crab, and some very fine bottles of wine.      
     Our freezers were full of the stuff, and our line managers were always suitably impressed that we hauled ass to the airplane without making two trips. It never seemed to dawn on middle management that we could not have afforded to eat otherwise. Who knew we would look back on our salad days so fondly.


  1. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm! Jammed into seats like chickens,lousy meals, did anyone like your good self search the plane for bombs. Beginning to think it best to stay in the UK.
    Yep that`s it decision made, sorry America i`m still coming because the best thing you have to offer is in Pullman............but not for long.

  2. Dear Amazing Jacqueline,
    I read more of your posts (and Les's). Very good. You are incredible. What you've gone through is not what I've gone through, not what my neighbor's gone through, etc. But what you write about is every woman. At least every single woman. Questioning, unsure, blazing ahead in spite of tradition. Very good. I spend so much of my time in my own head, I'm not always sure that how I'm thinking is good or normal. I don't mind not normal, (hey-I live off grid!), but I absolutely want to be and live WAY better than how I see America living and being.

    Oh Jacqueline. What an interesting life you're living. I wish you well and blessings.
    Love, Carol

  3. Les,
    to quote Al Green's song, "Here I am baby, come and take me, here I am baby..." Two weeks and six days--and YES, I am counting every day, every minute until I am in your arms.
    All my love,

  4. Carol,
    Thank you for posting to my blog! I have such great respect for you because you are living an authentic life by deliberate choice--and as we discussed previously to my discovering narrow boats and English canals--I wanted to live a life of simplicity off the grid just as you are doing.

    You may not always be sure of your choices but you never stop questioning things, asking "Why," and also "Why not?" You make a point to reach out to other women to share what you know with great generosity. You are one of my life mentors and role models, and I am so pleased that one of my students has gone on to become a dear friend.

    Soon you will be in bella Espana,"drinking Spanish wine, flirting with Spanish men," hiking with your buddies and having a fabulous experience. I cannot wait to hear all about it!

    I am delighted you are reaching for a joyous celebration to cap off the earning of your degree. You deserve it!!
    Love and hugs,
    P.S. Here's to women everywhere who live in their heads yet find the courage to reach out beyond personal and social boundaries, for new experiences in the world!!