In the Loop

In the Loop: May 13, 2008 Archive

Bye-bye, old (toxic?) cup. Hello weird replacement.

Posted at 10:30 AM on May 13, 2008 by Jeff Horwich (2 Comments)

Not the deepest blog post ever...

Out with the old...
newcup.jpg with the new.
But my brain is functioning well enough this morning to make a clean break with my tea mug of five years. It was a tough decision, but it had to be done:
  • * It's made of possibly toxic plastic (I haven't confirmed this),
  • * ...which has partially melted because it has metal inside and I once nuked the mug by mistake,
  • * ... besides which I haven't really washed it more than four times since I got it.

It does however have a lid, which I really like, and sentimental value: It was given to me by my Rochester reporting colleagues when I moved from St. Cloud to St. Paul in 2003. I think it's funny that this mug which I suspect has been leaving toxic traces of plastic in my body says "Mayo Clinic" on it.

I don't think a workday has gone by that I have not used this mug in five years. It was a sad, if brief, trash-can funeral.

My temporary replacement (temporary, because it does not have a lid, which is essential as much as I carry my tea around) is valuable mostly for kitsch value. I got it for free when I refilled an inkjet cartridge at OfficeMax. It features images of a heavily tattooed man and woman, whose backs sport the reminder to "Save Money on Ink."

Am I veering too close to the true blog aesthetic with a post like this? Perhaps. I'll have a sip of tea, refill some ink cartridges, and think it over.

(btw, I'm currently drinking Republic of Tea "Acai Green Superfruit" tea -- $15 a tin. Not sure if it's worth it. I think I'll have to wait another 40 years before I learn whether all these extra antioxidants are doing me much good.)

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Are you a 'Black Diamond' at airport security?

Posted at 1:10 PM on May 13, 2008 by Jeff Horwich (8 Comments)

(TSA graphic)
WSJ's Scott McCartney (subscription may be required) brought some popular attention today to the new Black Diamond airport security screening program now rolled out at a few airports by the Transportation Security Agency (eight cities so far, according to the Journal).

Basically, you're supposed to sort yourself based on how much of a hassle you're likely to be going through security.

To simplify the concept (at least for skiers) they adopted the "black diamond," "blue square," "green circle" code: Are you an "expert," a "casual traveler" (though apparently not frequent enough to be an "expert" yet) or are you a green circle "family" or "special assistance" case?

The TSA (here's their latest press release) has a scintillating and dramatic video that takes five minutes to walk you through basically what I just explained in about 50 words.

McCartney's column is upbeat; people in Orlando certainly seem to be fans. The idea is increased speed for people in a hurry, and less stress on slower people.

My big question is the middle category. Now...I'm not an everyday business traveler. And I'm hesitant to declare myself an expert on anything. But when it comes to going through airport security...dare I say I know most of what there is to know?

Who has been on a plane more than twice in the past five years who is not basically an expert? It's hard for me to imagine someone arriving at the security lanes and thinking, "Now, how does this whole thing work again? I'm supposed to walk through where? I'd better take the casual route 'till I can wrap my head around this dag-burned system."

Then again, maybe I'm missing something. What additional levels of knowledge might I still need to attain black diamond level?

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