Monday, April 18, 2011

Tulsa and the Blue Dome District

"Another masterpiece of Art Deco along Route 66 in Tulsa is the Blue Dome. The Blue Dome was built in 1924 and served as a Gulf Oil Station. This was the first station in Oklahoma to have hot water, pressurized air and a car wash. It was also open 24 hours, seven days a week. The station attendant lived upstairs in the dome itself. "--
The Art Deco Blue Dome Gas Station

     On a recent long layover in Tulsa, OK my first officer introduced me to a smart phone application he had on his device. It finds "Happy Hours" in your area based upon your GPS location.  Now THAT makes for a VERY smart phone!

     We had arrived around noon and decided to try out the "app" later that day.  The first location it found was a place called "Orpha's" about four or five blocks away.  It advertised cheap beer, so off we went.  We walked in and quickly determined that it was not an "appropriate" place for us (more on that later).  
     So next, we set off for "Arnie's" another five blocks away.  It was in Tulsa's "Blue Dome District."  We surmised that if it was in a named district, it had to be decent.  We discovered a friendly place with an outdoor patio that allowed us to take advantage of the beautiful day (as opposed to the dark, smokey questionable first bar).  We sat outside with a $6.00 pitcher of Killians and enjoyed the ambiance, striking up a conversation with a couple seated near us.  After asking us where we were from, and learning why we were in Tulsa, we told them how we came to discover the place.  They laughed and were incredulous when I told them about Orpha's.  "That's where all the homeless people go!"  they laughed.  I asked why the area was called the Blue Dome district. Pointing up, they said, "that's why."
     As I peered up, I saw........a blue dome.  Arnie's is right next door to what once was a 1920s gas station that attracted Route 66 travelers with its Art Deco blue dome.  It is now the hub of Tulsa's downtown nightlife scene.  It is a great area to find pubs and good restaurants.  The district regularly plays host to the best in local bands and is also known for its annual art festival featuring local artists. For more information, here is a link:

     We left Arnie's for a delicious Mexican meal at nearby El Guapo's, sitting at the bar on the roof where I enjoyed some awesome Mahi Mahi fish tacos.  We went back to Arnies, enjoyed the rest of the evening and walked back to our hotel.  Tulsa and the Blue Dome District is now on my list of places to go on layovers.

Blue Dome 1948
The Old Gas Station in its Heyday

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Thank God Airlines Are Getting Rid of Free Pretzels

Saw this article and had to smile.  My airline still serves pretzels, peanuts, cookies and soft drinks.  Imagine the fuel savings we could realize if we got rid of THOSE items!  Remember folks, flying on an airline as a paying passenger is NOT a right, nor an entitlement.  It is a service you pay for and if you don't like what you received in return, then there are other options.

Published: Tuesday, 8 Mar 2011 | 1:48 PM ET
By: Ash Bennington
NetNet Writer, Special to
Fuse | Getty Images

Pretzels are the latest symbol of failure for the airline industry.
Continental Airlines has eliminated its distribution of free pretzels to coach class customers during domestic flights. When an airline stops giving away salty snacks some see harbingers of doom. For example, the New York Times writes:
"To me, the end of the free snack on Continental (which last fall was the last of the major airlines to eliminate free meals in coach) is merely the latest illustration of the accelerating decline in quality, and even availability, of cheap air service."
I must confess: It has never been entirely clear to me why airlines give away anything for free. Or—perhaps more to the point—why the media and passengers become apoplectic when they stop.
What exactly is the economic case for why I should subsidize the free pretzels distributed to my seatmates—with an increased cost to my airfare?
After all, I have no expectation of free popcorn when I go to the movie theater.
An airline isn't exactly analogous to a movie theater when it comes to getting free stuff—it's actually far worse.
Well, we don't expect movie theaters to give away popcorn to moviegoers for a very simple reason: Because popcorn costs money—and why on earth should anyone get something for nothing?
But the case for free stuff in the air is even less logical than that.
Each 'free' item that is distributed to passengers by an airline must be carried on an aircraft thousands of feet above the ground—and that comes at a substantial cost to someone.
That means that every pound—every gram of pretzel, in fact—burns additional fuel, and incurs additional logistical support costs.
Continental airlines, for example, says eliminating pretzels will save the airline $2.5 million a year.
We should applaud them for their cost cutting initiative: If I want pretzels I will pack them in my carryon bag or buy them myself.
Customers of airlines have long complained of Soviet style service in the air—and yet they expect to fly in a magical world where all amenities are provided free of charge.
Let us move to an à la carte model of air travel.
And let the airlines concentrate on the real problems: Managing fuel costs and hashing out the economic viability of their air routes.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fishing Is For the Birds

When my son, Joseph was fourteen he was at that age where the primitive drive of the male species to hunt or fish for something, kill it and eat it was evident.  It is that age old rite of passage.  Something male Homo sapiens cannot avoid no matter how sensitive we are.  It is a primal urge.
I have never been much of a hunter, still suffering from the trauma of shooting and killing a robin red breast with my BB gun as a boy.  I cried over its lifeless body before giving it a proper burial and eloquent eulogy.
Fishing fulfills that urge for me, though it is still hard to clean fish as I look into their eyeballs.  Some are such beautiful creatures.  But fishing is relaxing and far less guilt-inducing since I rarely catch anything and I release many of the fish I do catch.
During a week-long stay at a beach house in North Carolina, Joseph and I decided we were going to catch some dinner.  Whatever we caught that day was going to grace our table that evening.  With bait and gear, we proceeded to paddle our boat to the sandbar in the middle of the sound our beach house overlooks.  From there we would fish into the deeper part of the sound because, we knew that is where all the really big fish are according to the “big water, big fish” theory.
After casting our lines, we placed our rods into the holders stuck into the sand.  We then began to walk around searching for minnows we could net for bait.  I would occasionally glance at the poles to see if there was any action while Joseph and I discussed the merits of various minnows we spotted in the shallows and tidal pools of the sandbar.  Shortly, I glanced at my pole and saw it suddenly bend down.
“I got one!” I exclaimed excitedly, running towards it.
Disappointment and surprise greeted me upon reaching my pole as I realized that what brought the line down was not a fish, but a seagull that had flown through the nearly invisible line, becoming entangled in it.  It was flapping helplessly on the surface making a tremendous commotion, squawking and shrieking loudly.  I could see the line had wrapped around one of its wings.
I pulled the line with the attached seagull in towards the shore and reached out to free it pulling my hand away just in time to save my fingers from certain pain.  I could see that this was not going to be easy.  Meanwhile Joseph stood by watching incredulously.  The squawking created by this one seagull was deafening.  I sent Joseph to get our dip net and my pocket knife.
It was about this time that the skies began to darken.   As I awaited my son’s return, I glanced up at a scene straight out of Alfred Hitchcock’s horror movie, “The Birds.”  Jonathan Livingston Seagull’s family and friends had gathered.  A tinge of fear ran through me as I recalled one of the victims of that movie whose eyeballs were missing.
“Hey, I am trying to help him, really!  I am trying to set him free!  Please don’t attack me!” I pleaded to the gathering fowl as a new sense of urgency began to fill me.
Joseph returned with the dip net and the knife.  Looking up he said, “Wow, Dad, they look really mad.”  He was always such an observant child.
“I know.  While I free this guy, you keep an eye on them and don’t let them attack me!” I exclaimed, not really knowing how he was going to do that.  He kept vigil for me as I attempted to free the trapped gull, which I was now convinced was the leader of the pack above me.  Placing the dip net over his head to protect my hand from his snapping beak, I carefully reached for his wing and cut the line free with my knife.  The part of his wing that the fishing line had wrapped around had lost some feathers, but it didn’t look too bad.  I lifted the dip net away from his head, and after scampering across the water, Jonathan Livingston was airborne once again.
Above the gathering flock of vengeful protectors slowly dissipated, following the freed bird.
My son and I looked at each other and began laughing.  “What a catch!” I said.  “What a fish story!”
We didn’t catch any fish that day.  Instead, Joseph and I went to the seafood market and bought some nice fillets.  We enjoyed recounting the story over dinner and thought of that seagull flying around perhaps telling others of his adventure that day.  Joseph’s primal urges were somehow placated by his heroic defense of his Dad from vicious beasts.  I also felt somehow redeemed for senselessly killing a beautiful robin a long time ago.