Recovering Quickly

Recovering Quickly

I feel like I am recovering quickly from this upper respiratory infection.  Yesterday’s stay home and rest day is paying off.  All I did today was go to my networking meeting and I drove Elizabethe to her class at the library.

This is an irritating one, but I don’t want to end up with pneumonia like my friend Matt did.  So, I’m taking it slow.

Repeated Discussion

It’s a repeated discussion in our networking group why other business owners won’t join.  I’ve heard excuses from, “It’s too early”, to “I’m too busy”.  As to the latter, in one breath they say they are too busy, and in the other they complain about not getting any work.  Aye, yi, yi.  You can’t have it both ways.

Weather

The weather continues to be cold.  We haven’t got any snow the last few days, but the temperatures are so low nothing is melting either.  It’s just COLD.

I understand people in the southeast United States are getting colder than usual weather.  Places that usually don’t get cold enough to snow are getting snow.  Airports have closed and people are actually dying because of the cold.

Having grown up where it is cold it baffles my mind that people would let themselves get so cold they die.  I can understand getting stranded in a storm and getting hypothermia because you weren’t prepared.  It sounds like some emergency preparedness instruction is due.

Welcome Home

Welcome Home

Several people at church came and said, “Welcome home.”  It’s not like I was gone that long, but it is nice to feel missed and appreciated.  And, it is a big deal going to Israel for 10 days.  Some of these people will never visit.  I hope I can be their eyes (through my camera).

Right after Sacrament Meeting I was nabbed to play piano in Primary.  It was fun.  The kids were sure wound up, however.

Weather

It is cold today.  It’s in the low teens.  As a result, I came home from church and sought warmth.

My fingers, knees and toes are all cold.  I don’t remember my knees getting cold like this before.  It must have something to do with my baker’s cysts.

Dinner

At dinner I gave the sisters a 10 Argot coin from Israel.  I picked up several while I was there.  Most of them are going to grandchildren.

100 Argots make 1 shekel.  They don’t make 1 Argot coins.  The smallest denomination is 10.  They were worth about 3 cents at today’s exchange rate.

They are also about the same size as a 10 Shekel coin.  However, a 10 Shekel coin is worth about $3.  Unscrupulous shop owners may try to pass a 10 Argot off as a 10 Shekel coin.

Dang Snow

Dang Snow

I often welcome snow, but this dang snow is very COLD.  It started off at 9″ and is now about 12″ (and has stopped for the day.)  It took a while to clear the driveway because the snow would fall to the side of the blower and I’d have to go back for a second pass.

Someone posted a picture on Facebook complaining about the 18″ snow.  They showed two things in the picture that were points of reference:  1) a small snow shovel with a blade about 8″ hight, and 2) the 4″ clapboard on their house.  It was 12″, not 18″.

Snowstorms, like fish, are always bigger than reality.

Blog Updates

I’m working on blog updates for days missed while I was traveling.  It is a lot of work, but the feedback has been positive.

It is so cold in the studio that I can’t get things warm enough for my fingers to move quickly.  Brrr… this cold snap is a strong one.  However, I keep plodding (blogging) along.

Winter Projects

I have not touched my winter projects yet.  Of course, the year started with a 10 day trip overseas, and now I’m playing catch up.

One of my winter projects is a posing corner for my Phicen figures.  Elizabethe gave me a hard time that I wasn’t this interested when she was doing Barbie stuff.  Hmmm… I think part of it is Barbie is not realistic, and Barbie doesn’t pose well.

I ordered an older version that is hard plastic so Elizabethe can use it as a dress form.  The silicone ones are too expensive and fragile.

 

Toronto Traffic

Toronto Traffic

Toronto traffic sucks.  To save about $200 I decided to drive to Toronto and fly form there to Tel Aviv.  Let’s see how that worked out…

  • drive there – 3+ hours (This was because it was New Year’s day and no commuters on the road.)
  • Parking for 10 days in Toronto – about $270
  • Drive home 6+ hours (I’ve since learned it has some of the worst traffic in the world.)

Will I do that again?  Probably not.  I might do like my friends the Harmers did.  Fly to Toronto from Rochester and there to Tel Aviv.  I would have come out ahead.

On the bright side, I made it home safely.

Other Messes

I also came home to a mess left by a tenant who simply vacated on his lease.  I’ve never seen such filth in my life.  It looks like I have to replace a microwave oven, carpet, mattress and box springs, as well as paying to have it professionally cleaned.

We live and learn.  One lesson I’ve learned from this is if they are slow getting their initial deposit paid, you probably don’t want them for a tenant.

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Living in Filth

How do people live in such filth.  (This photo doesn’t do it justice.  That orange spot, center bottom is a bleach mark (and there are many) where he tried to clean the carpet with who-knows-what.  The sad part is, why bother cleaning the carpet when you live in filth?

To Do List

I have a major to-do list for today.  This is just one item.  I will be updating and adding updates from my trip in the next few days.

It’s nice that we don’t have Toronto traffic in Rochester, because I have some errands to run.

Jerusalem Post Office II

Jerusalem Post Office II

… continued… Jerusalem Post Office II

Omar’s Place

Our next stop is Omar’s Souvenirs.  Omar’s place is in the area behind the bus station near the Garden Tomb.  Omar is the world’s best woodcarver.  On our way to his shop we cut through the bus station and market place.

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Bagels

We stopped for bagels.  Bagels in Israel are long.  They are almost a loaf of bread.

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A Jordanian Man Walking Through Bus Station

You see a few people wearing kefias (headdress like the one in the picture above).  Red and white usually means Jordanian.

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People Shopping in the Marketplace

 

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Arab Fried Chicken or AFC for Short

As we got close to Omar’s office, Omar came out of the barbershop and yelled, “Are you coming to see me?”

He came over and gave me a big hug and asked how I have been doing.  We came in to his shop and one of the first things John found was this…

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Jesus Rescuing Peter

Everyone got something at Omar’s, and then Omar treated us to juice and lunch.

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Harmers with Omar
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Omar’s Brother and the Harmers

Off we went to our next destination – through the Damascus Gate.

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Kid Singing and Carrying a Load

Another Stop

We made another stop at the Garden Tomb.  It was raining and nobody was there.  That allowed me to snap a couple of photos with the place empty.

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The Garden Tomb
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At the Damascus Gate

Pool of Bethesda

We stopped to see the place where Jesus was condemned to death.  From there, it is only a short walk to the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed a man.

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Church at the Seven Stations of the Cross
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See Inscription on Plaque in Photo
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Pool of Bethesda

Soon we found ourselves in tight alleyways and before long, on the school grounds.  A man showed us around pointing out various sights around the old city.  He then walked us out of that quarter of the old city.

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BYU and the Mount of Olives from the Wall Ramparts
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Razor Wire Guarding Tangerine Tree
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Harmers, the Friendly Man, and the Bakers
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Me and the Friendly Man
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About the Wall
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Entrance to the Ramparts

We ended the day in the Yahuda area. I went for 1/2 a shawarma and a Coke. I’m glad I didn’t order the WHOLE shawarma.

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Shawarma and a Coke

Jerusalem Post Office

Jerusalem Post Office

There’s a lot of good in Jerusalem, but the Jerusalem post office isn’t one of them.  Think of going to the D.M.V. in California just to get a stamp to mail a postcard.  Yes, it is that bad.  And knowing this, I opted to wait outside and take some pictures on the street while others went to buy some stamps.

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Modesty in Dress is Expected in Israel
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A Typical Street Scene

Linda and John finally emerged from the post office.  Linda showed me her Israel stamps featuring the Statue of Liberty.

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Stamps
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Public Transportation

Front Desk

Backing up to earlier in the day, here’s a picture of John at the front desk of our hostel.  I love the sign on the wall, “Come on, get a room.”

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John at the Front Desk

The guy behind John was one of my roommates – Andrew.  Andrew is from the U.K. but currently living in Germany.  He was one of 3 of my roommates last night.

Garden Tomb

We boarded the train and road three stops – Jaffa Center, Jaffa Gate and Central Bus Station.  The bus station and Garden Tomb are back to back as you will see from my pictures.

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Matt and Becca on the Train
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Entrance to the Street Where the Garden Tomb Is
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Linda and Becca Outside the Garden Tomb
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John Near the Bus Station Taking a Picture

This is an old section of town just outside the Damascus Gate.  It is largely an Arab population in this part of town.

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Skull Hill – aka Golgotha
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Our Guide with Golgotha in the Background
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An Old Photograph of Golgotha
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Golgotha as it is Today

On to the Tomb

The Garden Tomb is one of two sites believed to be where Jesus was resurrected.  Several Latter-day prophets have commented this is the place.  Before getting to the tomb, our guide stopped and showed a winepress and explained this was a garden at Christ’s time.

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Panoramic of the Garden Tomb Area
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The Garden Tomb
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In the Garden Area

On our tour I saw this girl wearing a Sac State shirt.  I walked up and said, “Sac State!  My alma mater.”  She looked at me like, “REALLY!”

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A Girl From Folsom Wearing a CSUS Shirt

Dead Sea II

Dead Sea II

Something is funny about WordPress.  If I add too many photos it crashes on me.  So, here’s the Dead Sea II, as in Part II.

When I last left you we were at the Baptismal Site of Jesus.  Well, here I am at the site.

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Me at the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ

John wanted to put his feet in the water.  While I’m perfectly content to keep my feet dry, I have no problem photographing those who want to get wet.

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John Getting His Feet Wet
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Self-Baptism

Across the river is the Country of Jordan.  Many visitors come to that side too.  I found it interesting how two years ago, Google Maps would take you to either side.  Now, it acts as though the Israli side doesn’t exist.  Hmmm… I smell politics at Google.

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Looking at Jordan (the Country)

We chatted with two IDF soldiers.   They were friendly and nice.  U.S. relations with Israel are at a peak right now.

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Two IDF Soldiers Pose for a Photo
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Getting Ready for Baptism

Masada

Masada is our next destination.  It is an amazing place to visit.  It gives insight to Herod.  Herod is the man who ordered all baby boys killed in an attempt to kill the Promised Messiah.  Well, we know how that turned out, and we also know how things turned out at Masada.

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View from the Top

I rode the tram to the top with Linda and Becca.  In the pictures you can see a square below.  That’s one of the Roman encampments.

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John and Matt Just Little Specs

In the above picture, there is a hairpin turn.  Those two dark specs on the trail are John and Matt.

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John and Matt on the Trail part 2

Now they are quite a bit closer.

How Low Can You Go

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Tres Amigos

I love this spot.  The lowest place on earth.  It’s something to say you’ve been there, and you’d go back if you need to.

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The Dead Sea

We watched the sun go down and it was a beautiful sunset.

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Sunset at the Dead Sea

When we got back to Jerusalem we found a shawarma shop.  I decided to try falafel again.  This time it wasn’t as bad as the first time.  Becca convinced me when she said how much she loves the stuff.

Verdict – it was better this time, but not something I’m wild about.

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Shawarma in the Yahuda District

The Dead Sea

The Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is our destination today.  A good healthy breakfast is what’s required for a visit to Masada.  (My heel is killing me.  I’m hoping I’m not a slow-down for the group.)

The breakfast here is different for Americans.  They eat salad for breakfast, however, salad to them is chopped cucumbers and tomatoes.  They also have chocolate/hazelnut spread on bread, boiled eggs and apples or oranges.

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Our Abraham Hostel Dining Room

Yes, that is a foosball table in the background.

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The hostel in Jerusalem is pretty low budget.  You rinse your dishes and put them in the dishwasher racks.  Matt volunteered to do the dishes today.  (Matt’s a great guy.)

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Matt Washing Dishes
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Outside the window a Jew begins his day with morning prayer.

The view from the hostel isn’t the most picturesque, but it tells a story.  Below we load in to Jumpy for a trip down to the lowest place on earth – – the Dead Sea.

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Jumpy Getting Loaded

Sea Level

As you drive from Jerusalem you drop down to a valley.  It is dry, desert land.  Part way down the mountain is a sea level marker.  It’s a good place to stop for a picture or two.

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Becca, Matt, John and Linda at Sea Level
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Me at Sea Level
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Sushi the Camel

Each time I visit here I see Sushi the Camel and his owner.  This is the guy’s full time business, and this is his location.

When we reached the bottom of the valley, guess what?

We saw an entire herd of camels!

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Herd of Camels

Baptismal Site

I remember incorrectly.  I thought the baptismal site was quite a ways from the main highway from Jerusalem going east.  We drove to it first.

There are many improvements since I was here two years ago.  The road is paved all the way.  Before it was dirt.  While there are signs warning about mines, there are fewer.

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Becca, Linda and John and a Mine Field
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John at the Gates of a Church with Landmines

The water’s edge has been set up to accommodate tourist as well as people wanting to be baptized.  I found it interesting so many people were baptizing themselves.  They put on a white shift, entered the water, and dipped down.

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Becca and Matt at the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ
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John and Linda at the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ

to be continued…

Toronto to Tel Aviv

Toronto to Tel Aviv

I picked up Matt and Becca Baker at their home and the three of us drove to Toronto to catch our flight to Tel Aviv.  Toronto to Tel Aviv is cheaper than JFK (New York City) to Tel Aviv.  So, we’re doing it this way.

Whoa!  When I got to the airport, long term parking is EXPENSIVE here.  I’m beginning to wonder if it was such a good deal to fly from here.  Oh, but we’re splitting the parking expense.  It might workout okay.

Matt and Becca made it on the flight and we met up with John and Linda at the Toronto Airport.  We’re all going to be on the same plane together.

The Flight

The people at Air Canada are nice and friendly.  The plane is a new Boeing 787, however, I am not impressed with the cabin.  They took the cheap way out.  I’m sure it is fun for the pilots and perhaps the crew, but here’s what isn’t good about Air Canada’s rendition of the 787…

  1. The seats are too narrow.
  2. The seats are too close together.  (Delta probably has barely 12″.  I think this had about 9″ between the front of the seat and the back of the seat in front of you.  For a size 11 foot… that’s not enough.)
  3. For a brand new model, the air quality still sucks.  When will they figure out how to fix the smells and stuffiness on an airliner?

Tel Aviv

We touched down in Tel Aviv and were on our way to pass through the passport checks and getting our luggage.

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On Our Way Out of the Airport
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Passing Through Passport Checks
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Passing Through Passport Checks

We got our rental car in Tel Aviv and they discovered it had a leaky roof.  So, we had to wait about an hour for them to find and clean a van for us.

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Worn out from the flight
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Jumpy – A good name for this van
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In the Van en Route to Jerusalem

The van is a Citroen Jumpy.  It’s a fitting name for a van with a Jumpy clutch.

Jerusalem

We arrived at the Abraham Hostel in Jerusalem, got checked in, and took some time to get settled.  I’m in a 4-bed dorm room, and so far, it looks like only one other person is in it.

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Father Abraham

The dorm room was too small to photograph and not impressive, but above you can see the hallway.  But, for the price… it isn’t bad.  5 nights for about $220 and that includes breakfast and earplugs.  (Yes, they have free earplugs so you can blockout your roommates’ snoring.)

Our next stop is the Mount of Olives and the Orson Hyde Gardens.  There we viewed the old city and then visited the Catholic’s version of Gethsemane.  I say the Catholic’s version because we don’t know exactly where Christ suffered and bled, just that it was somewhere on the Mt. of Olives just outside the city walls.

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A Jewish Funeral Procession

Traffic was held up and Matt spotted this funeral procession.  He stopped so I could jump out and get this picture (above).

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Outside the Orson Hyde Gardens
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Matt and Becca Baker
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John and Linda Harmer
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Gethsemane
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Matt Baker Describing the Location

Dinner

Dinner on the first night at any new location is always difficult.  Matt and I knew of places, but finding a place was another story since is getting late.

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What Are They Looking At? (I can’t remember)

We discovered a market I didn’t know existed.  (It’s rather cool!)  We went looking around and found a shawarma shop that was closing, and so we kept looking.  Finally we found a shawarma/burger place open.

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A Nice Burger with a Mid-Eastern Flavor
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Our Little Sidewalk Cafe
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The Jewish Market Area

It’s back to the hostel (the building with Abraham at the top) to get rested for a big day tomorrow.

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Our Hostel

 

New Years Eve 2017

New Years Eve 2017

It’s New Years Eve 2017 and I’m going to bed early.  I’m doing this because tomorrow I leave for Israel first thing in the morning.  I want to be well rested.

Being the 5th Sunday, the Priesthood and Relief Society meetings were about the new curriculum for adults.  I see this as a step closer to a Zion Society.  It’s an inspired and good move.

Matt, Becca, John and Linda are all excited about the trip.  While I’d like to say nobody is excited as I am, it wouldn’t be true.  We are all excited.

Missionaries

Elizabethe has been bugging me to make her curried chicken recipe.  So, I made it… with my own twist.  She told me this is what she’ll be living off while I’m in Israel.  I told her I will be eating shawarma.

Travel Anxieties

I get travel anxieties.  I anguish over things like… what if they make me check my camera bag (I don’t like being without it when I travel).  Or, what if the tell me I can’t take my beef jerky on the plane, etc.  They are all based off previous experience.  The problem is TSA is not consistent.  (Personally, I think some of them confiscate stuff to keep it for themselves.)

That said, I have found travel from this area to be less stressful.  Most of my bad experiences were at Oakland.  Rochester is great… oh, but I’m not leaving from Rochester.  I’m leaving from Toronto and I’ve never flown out of Toronto.