||To this article: It was only fitting that this
article should get bounced around in the ether when I attempted to submit
it to Clarke. When I sent it, I was aware that Clarke was probably still
dancing hulas and sipping pina coladas in a tropical paradise. But the
beauty of e-mail is that it waits. Or it usually does. This time, however,
my submission was returned, unopened with a terse message from the electronic
postmaster: “The intended recipient's mailbox is full.” Considering the
subject of my submission, the irony is not lost on me.
I’m still wondering why I felt a sense of elation when I glanced out
the airplane window above Indianapolis and saw a runway blanketed with
snow. The logical response, since we were minutes short of landing, would
have been panic—isn’t there usually ice under snow? I’m still puzzling
over what thrilled me in such a way. I decided to write down the possibilities
in hopes of gaining clearer insight. Some of my candidates were:
If the plane didn’t make it, I would never have to go through airport security
I haven’t seen snow in almost twenty years and I anticipated long walks
in snow drifts and a chance to make my first “snow angel.”
My brain was in my stomach. All I could think about was my next bowl of
borscht at Shapiro’s.
Thoughts of seeing my best friend for five days obliviated all negative
I anticipated being close by when the Indiana Senate voted 46-4 to outlaw
The first possibility had some merit. I consider myself a seasoned
traveler, having spent on the average two weeks of every month on the road
in recent years. However, the job that required travel ended before 9/11/01.
Since then, the rules of travel have changed so drastically I don’t recognize
To its credit, the travel industry has risen to the occasion, becoming
much more efficient at checking baggage and funneling passengers through
the maze of airport security. Security personnel also appear to be much
more alert for possible dangers, a comforting thought. One has to give
them credit for diligent efforts to find the proverbial needle in a haystack
— one intentional weapon in a sea of shampoo bottles and dirty socks.
But their efforts also succeed, through no fault of their own, at making
the rest of us miserable. Ergo, the travel industry has an uphill battle
trying to attract travelers who don’t have to and don’t want to travel.
The lessons that I learned from the Indianapolis trip, outside of the
fact that a plane can land quite smoothly and safely on a blanket of snow,
taking a laptop computer. It will take a beating, and you will
likely be subjected to delays while it is inspected. My laptop traveled
all around the security area before it finally came back to me. (Neither
my Palm PDA nor my cell phone drew any attention.) I arrived two hours
ahead of time for my flight and, after the laptop experience, I was glad
2 Check your rolling suitcase
at baggage check. Don’t try to carry it on the plane with you. Many of
the major airlines use smaller planes that have overhead luggage compartments
too small to accommodate even luggage approved for carry on. The airline
attendant gives you an onboard check tag and stows larger items in the
luggage compartment. They were quite efficient at returning our bags, but
the chance of a lost bag fouling up a connection weighed heavy on my mind.
To get to those smaller planes, I sometimes had to go outside and up stairways,
another reason to forego the wheels.
3 Dont lock your check baggage. The Transportation Security Administration isn’t crazy
about cable ties either. I used a hot pink cable tie on one of my suitcases
to hold the zipper shut and help me identify the bag on the pick up carousel.
The cable tie was removed and replaced with a red cable tie. A note inside
my baggage stated that the original seal was removed and replaced. It also
gave me instructions to view further travel information at TSATravelTips.
4 Take along some snacks.
No one feeds you and when they do, it’s a tiny bag of pretzels and half
a can of soda. I recommend a lot of chocolate — great for stress.
5 Take along a good paperback book. Paper books entertain, pass security well, and you don’t
have to turn them on and off when waiting for/boarding/landing/deboarding
the plane. I have a complete library of Conan Doyle and Raymond Chandler
books on my Palm PDA, but owing to interruptions and chancy battery life,
I don’t count on this library to entertain me all the time.
6 I also avoid using my add-on PDA keyboard on trips. I have had two keyboards for two
different PDAs and both tend to lock up the system, requiring a hard reset
which wipes out all data. I carry sensitive, trip-related information,
such as itineraries and e-ticket numbers on my Palm. Performing a hotsync
operation in an airport on the fly (no pun intended) would negate the primary
reason for carrying a PDA — that is, quick access to data.
7 When security says two carry-ons, they mean it. My fanny pack was considered a carry-on,
and although my purse and briefcase were quite small, security personnel
sent me back to the desk to check one of my bags. Luckily, I was able to
duck into the restroom and stuff my fanny pack into my briefcase before
The laptop caper was disconcerting, considering that the reason I dragged
it along was to test out its Wi-Fi capabilities. The irony is that Wi-Fi
is proliferating in airports at the very time when taking your laptop on
a trip is least attractive. This may be a boon to handheld makers who are
now incorporating Wi-Fi into their smaller devices. And, of course, for
the business traveler for whom leaving the laptop at home is not an option,
Wi-Fi is still a godsend.
Snow, borscht and good friends are compelling reasons for elation, but
the prospect of outlawing Spam is certainly the real reason for my elation.
It may be quixotic of the Indiana Senate to think that they can effectively
outlaw Spam, but it is a start. The letter of the law, if the Indiana House
now passes it, is that it is illegal to transmit electronic mail that obscures
the origin of the mail or contains false or misleading information in the
An anti-Spam law is becoming a legal necessity because a person is trapped
once Spammers get his/her e-mail address. Responding to Spam, even in a
negative way (such as the “unsubscribe” option) plays right into the senders’
hands. It indicates a “live” e-mail address that the Spammers remove from
the current list then sell to a million other Spammers.
Since I don’t get a lot of Spam, I usually delete it and go on with
my life. However, if I get an e-mail that I find offensive, I tell Outlook
to block the sender. Although emotionally satisfying, blocking a sender
probably yields no better results than using the “unsubscribe” option.
It could flag a “live” e-mail address for the sender. It is also ineffective
because Spammers seldom use the same return address twice.
Recently, Spammers have learned a new trick called “resume highjacking.”
They scan job seeker Websites posing as legitimate employers and grab e-mail
addresses of job seekers. The hapless job seekers are then bombarded with
Spam touting the services of for-pay job Websites and inane how-to-find-a-job
seminars. Being a self-employed contractor, I get at least one of these
Spam has become so pervasive that even the Direct Marketing Association
has joined the battle against it. Some naysayers insist that the DMA’s
participation indicates only that the group wants to water down any legislation
that does get passed. Be that as it may, this action still demonstrates
that if junk mailers throw their considerable lobbying power behind Spam
control, it must have become a serious problem.
Spammers will continue their harassment, however, as long as a few Bozos
are willing to do their bidding. Believe it or not, some people have actually
responded to the Nigerian scam whereby the Spammer pretends to hold an
enormous amount of money that can be deposited into your account for safekeeping.
All you have to do is provide some cash, your bank account number and social
security number to unlock the funds. A Michigan woman is currently under
indictment for embezzling two million dollars from her employer to take
advantage of this “offer.”
Recently, the Wall Street Journal published the address of a website
in the United Kingdom spamhaus.org,
that helps identify Spam gangs. This site posts a list of heavy offenders,
some of which include real mailing addresses. Journal columnist Jared Sandburg
encourages you to “Write to the Spammers in unmarked envelopes. They would
love to hear from you.”