I’ve been out of the country for a few weeks, but am now back (see below for the gruesome details). Thus regular posting will resume. First the important stuff.  If you take a cruise bring your own salt and a shaker. No cruise line I know of has decent salt shakers. They tend to use glass and metal grinders that yield nothing but frustration. A regular salt shaker should do the trick as you’ll be keeping it in a temperature and humidity controlled environment. Bring a container of salt (like the one below) to replenish the shaker if you’re on a long cruise. If you have a medical condition that requires a low salt diet, ignore the above.

I’ve been bringing my own salt shaker to meals away from home for decades. It started when I was the chairman of the research board of the Chicago Heart Association. The cardiologists couldn’t agree on a chair so they sued for peace by anointing a nephrologist. The meetings were held over lunch which was served by local dietitians at the CHA office in downtown Chicago . Of course, they were horrified by just the image of salt, so it was banned. Not being a cardiologist, I could use my personal salt shaker with impunity. The cardiologists looked at my salt shaker and its tasty crystals with longing and desire. I would have gladly shared, but they were afraid of the wrath of the dietitians and gloomily ate their saltless sandwiches.


America’s regional air service resembles air travel belonging to the age of the Wright brothers. I  am often forced to use one of these at the DFW Airport. I think it’s named after a bird. Repeated exposure to this airline has dulled an already diminished memory, but I think the avian at issue is a vulture. Coming home we had a very tight connection between our incoming flight and the Vulture, but I wasn’t worried as in more than three decades of flying the scavenger, it had never arrived or left on time. So I knew we’d make the flight. Sure enough, the incoming flight was delayed by about an hour and a quarter.

This regularly scheduled delay gave me time to once again savor the surroundings which are devoted to the Vulture. As if charged with containing an epidemic, the airline is sequestered in its own wing of the airport. It’s so far from the real airlines that you have to take a plane to get back and forth from the main terminal. The Vulture is a low cost line so they keep, goats, sheep, and chickens in the terminal to defray costs. But the livestock (the animals, not the passengers) are kept apart from the putative fliers by wire fences.

Another economy move is to clean the terminal just once a week. If you get there on the wrong day of the weekly cycle you will be ankle deep in popcorn, tissues, shredded paperback books, diapers (both used and unused), soda cans, paper coffee cups, mustard envelopes, plastic watches whose batteries have died during the wait for a plane, 8 track cassettes, twisties, potato chips, bubble gum, pizza crust, mah-jong tiles, blankets, pacifiers, rabbit-ears, clothespins, bedroom slippers, keys, charge cords, bees nests, Crackerjack prizes, Samoan postcards, false noses, lensless glasses, toasted marshmallows, broken pencils, The Twelve Pillars of Wisdom, racoons, wire hangers, Alice & Jerry first grade readers, monocles, poker chips, bread crumbs, I Like Ike buttons, temporary tattoo patches, stirrups for one legged riders, lost fedoras, knee braces, and the left halves of suspenders.

The gates and corridors have a population three times denser than that of the lower east side of Manhattan in 1910. This abundance is because for every passenger who gets to fly on any day there are three hanging around waiting for flights that will not arrive until the next blue moon or which have been cancelled by a higher agency that does not deign to communicate with the  huddled masses of the quaranteed terminal.

Finally our flight arrived to exhalations of triumph from the poorly paid staff behind the departure gate.  Unable to afford uniforms they were clad in togas. But in less than a minute, their expressions returned to their quotidian frown as they announced that the flight supposed to take us home was cancelled because it was too cold to add fuel to the tanks of the benighted plane.

Eventually, we found our way to another airline in a part of the airport where it was warm enough to refuel the plane. And that’s how my vacation ended. Of course, our bags are still lost in luggage limbo. But as I said above, regular posts will recommence.