Prime Time


Serving Time

A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person.

- Somewhere on the Web

Source: Funny Times August 2000

World's Most Remote Pub up for Sale

One of the world's most remote pubs has gone up for sale - and is expected to fetch up to £4 million.  The Birdsville Hotel in the Australian outback is 875 miles from the nearest city, Brisbane.  The pub, on the edge of the Simpson Desert, is one of the most famous in Australia and is visited by about 45,000 travellers each year.  Jo Fort, who has owned the Birdsville with her husband, Kym, for 27 years, said: "Sometimes you've got to know when enough's enough."  Mrs Fort said that there had been considerable interest in the sale: "People who don't even drink beer have a beer in the front bar here," she said.

The first European explorer to venture into the area was explorer Charles Sturt who described it as a "desperate region having no parallel on Earth".

Source: 14 December 2006

As Flights Come to a Rest, Ramp Crews Fly into Action

Captain Craig Sherman inspects the main landing gear of Delta Air Lines Flight 1905, a Boeing 737-800, at Newark Airport

by Al Frank

It was almost 5 o'clock one Tuesday afternoon at Newark International Airport.  Quitting time for many but not for the Boeing 737 pulling up to Gate 46B at Terminal A.  Delta Air Lines Flight 3701, arriving from Salt Lake City, had begun its day with a 6:20am flight out of San Francisco.  From SLC it flew to EWR, where after barely an hour on the ground, it would fly back and then on to Bozeman, Montana, finally bedding down for the night at 11:26 after flying 4,880 miles and carrying 378 passengers.

A long haul, yes, but 12 hours in the air is about average for each of the 600 planes in Delta's fleet.  Planes don't make money on the ground, so airlines keep them running as much as possible.  That not only means a tight schedule, but also keeping airport turnaround times short.  That's a challenge met daily by platoons of ramp workers at EWR who not only get bags on and off the planes but also fuel, cater and clean them - most of the work being done between the time passengers from one flight get off and the next group boards.

From its first flight at 5:50am to its last at 9:30pm, Delta goes through 88 such turns every day at EWR, where it's the second-busiest airline at an airport with 1,400 flights daily.  For its 30- to 70-seat planes, and Delta Express flights to Florida, turn times are a mere 35 minutes.  Larger aircraft, like the Boeing 737, are allotted an hour.  "It's mad science," said Michael Podett of Morristown, who closed his 35-year airline career last week at EWR, where he had been Delta's station manager.

The turn for Flight 2162 began as soon as ramp agent Leo Sorto of West New York slowly raised his arms to the 12 o'clock position, signaling with the luminescent wands in his hands that the plane's nose gear was on the mark at Gate 46B.  After the wheels were chocked, the cargo bays were opened and bags began to flow from the plane, even before the jetway was snug enough against the cabin door to allow passengers to safely exit.  In the meantime service trucks began converging on the aircraft.

First came Lazaro Chora of Elizabeth.  Wearing rubber gloves and a splash guard over his face, he opened a small hatch near the plane's tail and hooked up a hose and began pumping the toilet's contents into a small truck that can carry waste from up to five narrow-body planes.  As he finished, he guided another truck driver in close to the curved fuselage near the rear door.  Four cabin cleaners would use the ramp extending over the truck's cab to bring in their manual carpet sweepers and to unload some five or six bags of trash.  Meanwhile, another truck was pulling up to the galley door at the front of the plane, and a fuel truck would soon follow.

In all, Podett said, it takes about 14 people to tend to a larger aircraft's needs during a turn.  The process is slightly different on smaller planes making shorter hops and on the no-frills Delta Express operation.  On those planes, there are no meals, just water and soda.

"The job is interesting," said Heber Alvarez of Elizabeth, as he stocked the galley of an Atlanta-bound McDonnell Douglas MD-88 with bottles of red and white wine.  In a lower compartment, he had already stowed individual trays garnished with a place mat, napkin, flatware and a wineglass on its side.  In the truck parked just outside, Ronald Corbin of Newark, who has worked as an airline caterer for 15 years, double-checked the count of hot meals brought from the flight kitchen for first class.  On tonight's menu: ravioli stuffed with asparagus, chicken breast and key lime pie.  "We're a team," Corbin said of Alvarez, adding that they usually work 12 flights a day.

The job can be challenging when planes arrive late, due to weather or airport congestion.  "I like it when I have more time to do everything correctly," said Mariame Toure of Newark as she wiped down a lavatory sink.  In any event, thorough interior cleanings take place every night.  By the time passengers begin to board, the cabin is again quiet, much like the poor shoemaker's shop after the fabled mice completed their midnight shift.  But the turn team's efficiency is much appreciated by the pilots responsible for keeping the planes on schedule.  After the first of two round trips between Newark and Boston one afternoon, John Andriulli said the busy EWR crews are pros.  "They do a great job, with good service getting the planes in and out," said Andriulli, a four-year veteran for Atlantic Coast Airlines, a Delta affiliate.  "If you can't make a quick turn, you can't be on time."

Al Frank covers Newark Airport in his column which appears Tuesdays and Thursdays; he can be reached at or by calling (973) 392-5808

Source: The Star-Ledger (Morris County Edition) Thursday 6 September 2001 photo credit John Munson

The above article was written before September 11, 2001, after which airport routines drastically changed - at least from the passengers' perspective.  This article speaks of trucks driving up and cleaners, suppliers and various other employees swarming over the plane in order to get it turned around and back out as fast as possible.  Does the truck driver have open access to the plane, but if he goes home to get the wife and kids and returns to the airport as a passenger, is he subjected to body and shoe searches to board the same plane he had free access to earlier in the day?  Are all trucks scanned?  Each trip?  Searched?  Dogs used?  Are the drivers subject to daily pat-downs?  Probably not.

New Zealand Prime Minister

On Marriage

by a.victor-hacker_666

"If I hadn't gone into politics, I would not have married."  New Zealand’s Prime Minister Helen Clark - who does not use her married name - has revealed her marriage is a "necessary evil", which would help put an end to rumours she was "a barren lesbian", according to a newly published biography.  Clark, 51, viewed as one of the most popular leaders the country has had, is married to public health academic Dr Peter Davis.  The austere stateswoman has rarely let people see into her personal life.  Friend and adviser Brian Edwards has been allowed access for the biography, Helen: Portrait of a Prime Minister.

Clark, Labour Prime Minister since 1999, has been a major player in political life here since winning Auckland’s Mount Albert electorate in 1981.  Edwards notes that even winning the party nomination had been a major achievement as she had been hampered by rumours that she was a lesbian.  "It was a difficult campaign," said Clark in the book.  "As a single woman, I was really hammered.  I was accused of being a lesbian, of living in a commune, having friends who were Trotskyites and gays, of being unstable and unable to settle to anything."  New in parliament, she remembers one of her own party’s senior members referred to her as a "barren lesbian" and claimed that Davis was also gay.  There were rumours, Edwards writes, that her real lover was Catherine Tizard, who later becomes governor-general.

Senior party officials finally prevailed on her and Davis, who expressed indifference to the ceremony, to marry.  "I didn’t mind one way or the other too much," he told Edwards, "but I don’t think Helen was too keen.  We were involved in this larger game of politics.  Helen is strong willed and her whole life has required her to bend that will at certain times."  In these things, I go along with Helen.  "If Helen wants to do it, I’ll do it."  Clark said she cried over getting married, calling it "a necessary evil."

The rival Right Wing National Party continues to push rumours over the marriage, she said.  "They’re relentlessly, personally nasty.  The one thing I hate is the National Party.  I think they are loathsome people. I do."

On the 1999 elections, her then rival, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, was illustrated as a mother-of-two.  Clark’s lack of children was made into an issue.

Helen Clark may be reached at

Source: Saturday 9 March 2002

I have a couple of comments.  I certainly don't mean to imply the prime minister is gay.  But what I'd like to ask is: what would it really matter?  For the most part, homosexuality is hard-wired into a person like eye colour or height.  We can do without discrimination against innate traits.  I'm not saying the personal lives of politicians don't matter - what you do in your off hours declares to some extent the type of person you are: your value structure, interests, and energy levels.  But like any other human, what politicians do discreetly behind closed doors is not my concern - unless they live next door and are starting a fire.  By that I mean if the results of their actions are damaging to others, then perhaps it's my business at some point.  Frankly, Helen Clark not having children means she has even more time to spend focusing on leading the country.  In my opinion, she's doing a sterling job.  Thanks, Helen!  You continue to have my vote.

Just Watch Me

by Helen Clark

I'm not naturally paranoid but I'm very conscious of having to lead a squeaky clean life.  I've been effective and it would be to the advantage of the United States administration to have me discredited.  So I never drink and drive and I don't want any personal smear which could be hurtful.  One of my colleagues warned me at the time of the ANZUS row that his contacts in the Auckland underworld were saying I was one of several people being watched.  I don't think New Zealand security was behind that...

Source: Head and Shoulders: Successful New Zealand Women Talk to Virginia Meyers 1986

Not THAT Closely!

Cops Collide with Clark's Car - Again

by Brent Edwards

Prime Minister Helen Clark may need protection from her own minders after two driving mishaps in the past six weeks.

During a telephone interview with The Evening Post early today, she was shaken when the police car following her ministerial car in Auckland bumped into the rear of her vehicle."  Jesus, I have just had the police run into the back of my car again," she said.

Papers could be heard falling to the car's floor.

Miss Clark, who had been answering questions on the health committee review of cannabis, took a few seconds before reassuring The Post she was okay but said the incident was the second time in six weeks her car had been hit from behind by police.  "Don't worry, I've got a driver," she said.

Since a Sunday newspaper published a map showing where her Auckland home was located, security measures have been tightened.  Miss Clark complained about the publicity and said her home had already been the target of drunken men coming on to her front porch late at night and calling out to see if she was home.  But now she might also need to take security measures against the police officers assigned to protect her.  Members of the police's Diplomatic Protection Squad (DPS) follow ministerial cars closely - closer than the accepted safety distance - to prevent other cars getting between them.

Head of the DPS, Detective Tom Stenhouse, refused to comment on today's incident or about the driver training officers received.  "I am not going to start getting into any discussion on the phone about things like that," he said.

But the incidents are unlikely to improve relations between Miss Clark and her minders.  Since becoming Prime Minister Miss Clark has remained based in Auckland, rather than making Premier House in Thorndon her home.  That has reduced the need for DPS protection here.

As well, Miss Clark, whenever possible, travels without police officers.  She took no one from the DPS on her recent trip to New York.

Source: The Evening Post Friday 15 September 2000

"Oh, Shoot!  It's the Cops!"

Police Shoot at Each Other in Seattle

Seattle police officers in two cars fired more than 20 rounds at each other at an intersection after they mistook each other's vehicles for a stolen police car.  No injuries were reported.  Zachary Davis, 18, was arrested after he returned the missing car to a police parking lot, a police spokesman said.  Davis, whose father was an officer killed on the job in 1995, is a longtime friend of some officers.  He was jailed for investigation of auto theft, eluding police, and impersonating an officer.

Source: USA Today Wednesday 11 July 2001

Four Police Cars Collide During Exercise

London - Traffic snarled for miles on a highway in northern England on Wednesday after four police cars collided with each other and blocked the road, apparently during a training exercise.  Three officers suffered whiplash while another - who had to be cut out of his vehicle - was more seriously injured, although there were no immediate details.  No other vehicles were involved, and the police cars did not appear to have been on their way to help out at another accident.

"As far as we are aware only police vehicles are involved, no members of the public," a spokeswoman for Lancashire Police said.  "At this stage we think the vehicles were involved in some sort of training exercise but we have yet to have that clarified."  The vehicles collided on the northbound lane of the M61 highway near Chorley in Lancashire, forcing the closure of two lanes of traffic.

Source: Associated Press Wednesday 22 September 2004

Just Like in the Movies...

Source: submitted to them by Katherine Lonsdale

I Could Be a Travel Agent if I Had an Office Like This...

I presume this photo is real.  I can't really tell from the picture, but it would be nice if the fish could freely swim from one end of the room to the other - get some exercise, stay i shape.  (But, then, I don't suppose fish get fat, do they?)

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