Vexing Volcano Highlights First World Problems


Quick! Somebody sacrifice a virgin! If the radar photo above is any indication, Europeans have clearly pissed off Mother Earth with their excesses. After the jump, heartbreaking stories of “tragedy” from some of the world’s most privileged people.

Please note these are victims who, in the face of apparent TREMENDOUS adversity, somehow found the time to locate Internet access, log onto their favorite news site, and write their tale of woe. While we’re not ones to poo-poo the upper classes – after all, they are what keep this trickle-down economy on the rise! – someone needs to rig them up Clockwork Orange-style and show them examples of, you know, ACTUAL SUFFERING. (Quotes below edited for maximum snark without altering salient facts or circumstances.)

“The couple have been stranded at Gatwick and look set to miss their wedding in Antigua. Miss Williams said: ‘When they told me the plane had been cancelled I burst out crying. We are going on a three-week European cruise so I am ringing round all the places we stop [to arrange for a quickie wedding],’ she said.”

“The Barkers have been told they will be stuck in Spain for the next week following the closure of UK airports. They had been due to fly from Malaga to Manchester yesterday after a week-long break on the Costa del Sol.”

“We’re now trying to think of things to do in London to cheer ourselves up and pray we get on a flight over the weekend to make the wedding.”

“I planned to travel to Milan for the International Furniture Fair. The fair finishes on Monday and it’s very difficult to get a ticket.”

I just hope I get home to see the [football] clash between Aberdeen and Falkirk.” (It should be noted that this guy is stuck on an off-shore oil rig, a marvelous location ripe for Shining levels of boredom.)

“Came to Barcelona to watch Barca play on Wednesday night as a treat for my son’s 10th birthday, and we’re still stuck!”

“There was a father and daughter behind me who also had their flight to Paris cancelled. The mood of the people was very angry.”

“Thankfully, my wife and I had no immediate plans in the UK so we have decided to stay in Osaka for another week.”

Prize for Worst. Vacation. Ever. goes to this poor soul: “We’re stuck in Delhi at the moment. We shouldn’t even be here except we had to finish our trek to Everest early as I got acute altitude sickness and had to be evacuated by helicopter to a hospital in Kathmandu.”

And this comment wins the Palme d’Or for obnoxious:

“My business of supplying fresh produce to the retailers in the UK and continental Europe is virtually at a halt. No flights northbound and I can’t send cargo out, so everything is going into the bin. Neville, Nairobi, Kenya”

THAT’S OK, WE’RE SURE KENYANS HAVE ALL THE FOOD THEY NEED. As time wears on, it’s become painfully obvious that even photojournalists are sick of these twats:


Looks like Austin Powers and Zoolander have a plan. And finally, in honor of gettin’ another sister above the time stamp, I present you with the PMILF who will save the world, one killer app at a time:

You can swipe my screen anytime.

One million Britons stranded by ash and food shortages expected [Daily Mail]
Volcanic ash: Your stories of travel disruption [BBC News]
Volcanic ash cloud grounds 16,000 flights Saturday [CNN]

Hey, life is tough in the first world. It’s a great tragedy if I don’t get my exotic fruits at the local shoppe.

Greater than Haiti.

*My parents are supposed to travel to Europe this weekend and are thinking of canceling. They’re traveling by BOAT. The only one really unhappy if they cancel is my sister who still lives with the parents.

@ManchuCandidate: I’m no meteorologist, but I don’t think a ship’s rudders under water will be affected by the ash.

Real fucking plutocrats wouldn’t be caught dead flying commercial. Anyone can whine. A real plutocrat barks a command and a fresh jet appears.

@RomeGirl: When this started, I thought” “what a boon for Cunard.”

@blogenfreude: You can’t get a boat, ferry, train, or bus in all of Europe right now. To wit, @FlyingChainSaw: There were several businessmen who paid GBP700 to be driven to their final destination. Unfortunately, it wasn’t located off a cliff.

My god, the humanity! I’m all torn up about the Antigua couple–imagine the horror. Nice collection of hand-wringing, RomeGirl! I saw that pic of the douche in baby blue on the Beeb yesterday and started laughing.

Add: I am confused about the stranded oil rig workers though. Don’t they usually get transported by helicopters? They shouldn’t have any trouble with ash since they don’t have an intake engine, right?

“Palme d’Or for obnoxious” is a keeper, and gives me an idea for this year’s Stinque Awards (a mere eight months away!): Palme d’Boor.

@mellbell: Ha! Love it.

Also, I fixed all the alt-texts. EVERYBODY GO LOOK AT UM.

@flippin eck: I think it’s because the ash is starting to settle now, and is in lower altitudes. He kinda explained it in his quote but it was tl;dr.

I can’t wait for tomorrow’s headline: “Duty Free Shops Out of Liquor, Chanel Cosmetics; Riots Ensue.”

@RomeGirl: MSNBC just said volcanic activity increasing … wonder if we’ll be able to do Amsterdam this year.

@blogenfreude: Jesus, that’s bad. Who knows? Maybe we over here should all stand, face west and BLOW. At this point I’m not planning any plane trips ANYWHERE.

@Mistress Cynica: Imagine an entire airport high on Toblerone and Chivas.

oh that i might have been there. i adore a good opportunity to tell these people, loudly, and in their face to STFU. i know these people. i’m surrounded by these people. i despise these people.

This might be a little too 4chan, but is it me, or does the crater photo look like this?

To those who are interested: if a vehicle runs on some kind of liquid petroleum fuel* (piston engine like a car, or turbine like a jet or helicopter), running that engine with significant ash in the air promises the kind of instant death usually reserved for firing squads. The ash gets sucked into either the piston area or the turbine blades, and quickly abrades the fuck out of everything. If you’ve got an air filter to prevent this sort of thing, it gets clogged very quickly, which kills the engine even more quickly and surely (although more temporarily) than just pulling the grit right in. Not conditions anyone should willingly operate air-breathing aparatus in. Full-electric cars, of course, would have no problems beyond visibility.

* Descriptions kept severely simple because I know most of you don’t care.

@RomeGirl: My first thought was this, but it may be a generational thing.

TJ/ Come home steamed on local chow and brew, found some Christian Bale “I’m in Vietnam” piece of drek on the tube. Is this the one where he lost his shit and cursed out the crew? Because it is the worst piece of Vietnam Conflict ™ stereotyping/bad acting I’ve seen since that Rambo critter.

And because of, or despite that, I am transfixed.

@Nabisco: Ha, I just watched the 1990 concert in Berlin last night. You’re right. One generation’s primal scream is another one’s 4chan FFFFFUUUUU. I think Bale lost his shit during the Terminator filming, if I’m not mistaken.

@IanJ: They’ve gotten a couple calls on this on Car Talk – solution is panty hose over the air intake. Black for black cars, taupe for the rest.

@RomeGirl: It’s called “Rescue Dawn”, really the worst bit of B-movie reel I’ve seen in a long while. I finally had to face facts that (a) I was not sobering up with it on and (b) it wasn’t worth watching wasted. SpongeBob in the local dialect was entertaining, tho.

There are worse places to be trapped than Schipol or Barcelona. Like Gatwick or de Gaulle, or Frankfurt, which went downhill as soon as they closed the fetish shop down in the basement close to the S-bahn station. ADD: always entertaining to see the airport guys tooling around the concourse on bicycles, tho.

I liked John Cleese’s solution: hire a car and have it drive him from Oslo or wherever he was to Belgium. Can you imagine driving John Cleese for 800 kms?

@Nabisco: Yeah, but did you see the cush chairs at Frankfurt? All ergonomic and shit. People be napping HARD on them. I love all airports – even CDG, where I once spent every day for a week, long story – so truth be told, I’m a little jealous.

@RomeGirl: You can’t love Heathrow. One can only wish to escape without harm to self or others.

@Dodgerblue: I love LHR, and I’ll tell you why – because my stopovers there are always either my first foray back into English speakers and non-olde-worlde culture, or the last stop to pick up shit at a REAL pharmacy (Boots! HOLLA!). I also love the mass of humanity of every race, creed and color. It’s gets a little homogeneous down here.

@Dodgerblue: @RomeGirl: Had a miserable experience in Heathrow two years ago; lovely flight on Branson’s vanity airline, missed connection in Heave-Ho, churlish attitude by the Help at the transfer desk. For some reason, the Natives seemed a whole lot more friendly than did the Colonials. But you’re right, the cultural stew is fantastic.

@Nabisco: I will do anything to go through Gatwick rather than Hell-row. Having had a root canal recently, I can say definitively that it was better than being stuck at Heathrow.

@Nabisco: Same recently happened to me. Plane was late. It takes an hour and a half to get from Virgin terminal to term 1 for Europe. I had to go Native New Yorker on security’s ass and ended up running through the fucking terminal while they tried to find my luggage. BMI staff were very helpful and Air Austria is adorable.

The terminal 3 concourse at Heathrow is the 7th circle of hell. Without the fun stuff.

@Benedick: Here was our exchange with the Help:

Nabiscos: “we’re transferring, but think we’ll miss our connection”
Help: “Oh no, you’ll never make that.”
Nabiscos: “There are 15 of us all making the same connection. Won’t they hold it?”
Help: “Oh no, it’s already left. I can put you on a later flight, out of Gatwick. Or you can spend the night.”
Nabiscos: “Will you pay for the night?”
Help: “Oh no, we can’t do that. Weather delay, not our fault>”
Nabiscos: “How do we get to Gatwick? Is there a shuttle?”
Help: “Oh, I wouldn’t know about that. There’s a bus, I suppose.”
Nabiscos: “You suppose?? Where do we find it? How long will it take? WILL WE MAKE OUR FOOKIN CONNECTION?”
Helps: “Oh, I don’t know. At least an hour, depending on traffic, I suppose. You could spend the night.

/intermission for exchange of verbal unpleasantries triggered by jet lag, anxious young biscuits and an East Coast upbringing/

Result? We were picked up by a delightful family friend, who drove us to Gatwick. Upon arrival at our destination, met some passengers who had arrived on the original connection. They were pissed, because the plane had waited 45 minutes at the gate for late arriving passengers from US America.

@Nabisco: That sounds like the England I know. I found a whole bunch of them at the security gate having one of those endless “So I said to Mavis… ” conversations the English love. I felt that I’d never left. And let’s face it: Gatwick is hell. Arrive at Gatwick and you will never be admitted to Knightsbridge. They won’t let you in. And unless you’re in Knightsbridge or its environs you are not going to be able to drink champagne in sufficient quantity. Plus it’s miles from anywhere except Croydon and the traffic to the city is nightmarish. Even more nightmarish than Heathrow. Virgin seems to be fine if you’re ending in London but not so good with the connection thingy. I’d fly BA if it wasn’t for the strikes.

By the way, my dear friend there has a car company that picks you up and whisks you to Heathrow for about 3 pounds more than it costs to do it by subway which has become fantastically expensive in the half-century I’ve been away. The drivers all seem to be expatriate Iranian brain surgeons so you get a very good quality ride.

@Benedick: Speaking of the Brits, if I got this BBC channel, “lie back and think of England” would take on a whole new meaning.

on our way home we flew from ben gurion to heathrow, then direct to T&C. it started to snow in the minivan, we had 13 pieces of luggage.
we were rerouted to gatwick in a blinding snowstorm. there were arcade games there!!! i amused myself with them as i was out of surgery for a bartholin cyst (don’t ask) for 24 hours and was stuffed with percodan.
then, back on the bus for an hour back to heathrow, where of course i was treated like a terrorist like every other airport. we had to stay in the airport hotel til the storm passed. it wasn’t pretty.
beaming is truly the best way to go anywhere.

@baked: The OH doesn’t fly so he goes everywhere by ship. A few years ago he was contacted about working in Israel, spent a day on the phone and came back with a route that involved a train to Naples and then a ship to Tel Aviv. The whole thing took about 6 weeks from NYC. No, we didn’t go.

@Nabisco: Daytime TV has many progammes (as they say) that feature bints on very long red sofas who talk to boring people about how they feel about being boring and were they boring from childhood or did they just wake up boring one day and aren’t the Yanks funny but at least they’re not as bad as the French since Yanks are like children but the French are just evil.

One of Mrs RML’s friends was whisked away to Paris by her thoughtful husband for a whirlwind anniversary or birthday or something trip and now she’s stuck there with their four kids at the grandparents.

@IanJ: One of my old legal aid buddies was an engineer before law school. Part of his job involved tossing frozen poultry into running aircraft engines.

@redmanlaw: Part of his job involved tossing frozen poultry into running aircraft engines.

So the transition to law school was easy, then?


@Benedick: I love Gatwick for one reason: the train to Victoria Station. Hop on the train, be whisked efficiently to the city, grab a cab, and be at your hotel (even the ones in Knightsbridge) in no time. My Southern upbringing allows me to score champagne just about anywhere.

@Mistress Cynica: Ah well you’re talking trains. I’m afraid I can’t help there.

@Mistress Cynica: That sounds like how our high school (or for me, post high school) group did it in 1978. I remember Gatwick and the train ride in, Victoria not so much. Upon arrival in the city (well, probably not The City), we immediately wore off our jet lag on a double-decker tour bus.

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