Opting Out Of TSA Body Imaging Scanners

On Saturday, April 23rd 2011 My wife and I where traveling home to Juneau, Alaska from Seattle. We had come to Washington State two weeks prior to have our wedding together surrounded by our family and friends. The end of our trip was punctuated by having to submit to an embarrassing full body pat-down by a TSA agent.

As Hannah and I arrived at Seattle’s international airport the afternoon of Saturday, Aril 23rd everything was going pretty normally. We received our boarding passes and checked our bags than proceeded to the north security check point. A tattooed TSA agent (I feel safe already) checked both of our IDs and Tickets before waving us on. Hannah and I proceeded to the first available line to remove our laptops, shoes, jackets and anything metal into the white plastic bins for X-Raying. My wife was directed to a normal metal scanner on the left and I was directed to go through the body imaging scanner on the right. I looked at the TSA agent who directed me down this path and pointed at the body imaging scanner and said “I don’t want to go through this. I opt out”

“You don’t want to go through this?” she asked

“No I don’t”.

“Ok, wait here on the side.”

The TSA agent than called for someone to perform a pat-down for a male. I waited for a short moment and was than directed by another TSA agent to the end of the security line where all my belongings where being carried to. I was then told by the agent that he would be performing a full body pat-down. It was at this time I requested a police officer to observe the pat-down.

“You want a police officer?”

“Yes”, I said “To observe the pat-down”

The TSA officer looked shocked as if no one ever asked for a police officer to observe them doing a pat-down. The agent then hollered across to his supervisor who appeared to be setting at a computer terminal “This person is requesting a police officer to observe his pat-down”.

The supervising TSA officer came down and asked “You are refusing to be patted-down”?

When on earth did I ever say I refused? Are they just looking for a reason to keep me out of the air port? “No”, I said “I am asking that a police officer be present for my pat-down”

This TSA agent looked just ask shocked at my request as the first one. I can’t be the only person here who feels that this procedure is a violation of my rights and my privacy. I find it so hard to believe that I am the only person who has asked that the police observe this at Seattle’s international airport.

“Hang on”, he said and walked back over to his computer terminal and picked up a phone. When he came back he told me that I could take my belongings and step back out of security, back to where I got my boarding pass and contact the police to have them observe my pat down.

I looked at him with a strange look on my face and asked “When I came into the airport I saw two police officers on Segways. I have to now step out of security and call them? Can’t you just radio them over here?” I was started to get frustrated.

“No” He said “If you want an officer to view your pat-down it is your responsibility to request them. You can gather up your items and proceed back out of security and this agent will follow you.”

It was at that moment the mobile phone in his hand rang. As he answered it the other TSA agent who was going to give me my special touches moments before instructed me to start gathering my things. I proceeded to put on my belt and jacket when the TSA agent on the phone motioned for me stop. He finished his conversation and hung up.

“You will not have to go back outside of security. You can contact 911 from here. Do you have a mobile phone?”

“Yes” I answered.

“You can use it to call 911 and request an officer”. he said

I grabbed my phone from one of the white bins and started to enter 911 when I asked “Is 911 the appropriate number for this situation”?

“Yes” he responded

I entered 911 from my phone and hit send.

“Hello, 911 emergency”.

“Hi, Yes”. I said a little nervously. “I am currently at Seattle’s International airport and I would like to request an officer to observe my TSA pat-down.”

“Please stay on the line”, said the 911 operator. I could hear the line click and ring once before another a new person answered.

“Hello, 911 emergency”.

“Yes, I am currently at Seattle’s International airport and I would like to request an officer to observe my TSA pat-down.”

“Oh, yeah, sure not a problem” said the 911 operator. “Which security gate are you at”?

“I am at the north security gate”.

“I will have someone there shortly. Thank you”.

“Thank you”, I said and hung up. “An officer will be here shortly he said.” I told this to the TSA agents waiting.

We all waited for the Police officer to show up. When he did appear the TSA supervisor agent greeted him and stated “He wants an officer to observe his pat-down”. Again saying this like it was the oddest request he had ever heard.

The officer came up to me and shook my hand and introduced himself. He then proceeded to stand-off to the side and “Observe” my pat-down. I say “observe” because the officer’s eyes were glued to his cell phone the entire time of my pat-down.

At this point the TSA agent who was waiting around to give me my pat-down started to explain the process. He would be going over my body with the back of his hands. Starting with my back to him he would rub the back of his hands from the back of my neck all the way down to my heels. Then I would turn around and he would do the same down my front avoiding my genitals. He also explain that he would be checking the waist of my pants.

The agent started by having me turn my back to him while he rubbed what I have to assume was the back of his hands down my back side. I Looked over my shoulder at the police officer who was glued to his cell phone. The TSA agent rubbed what I have to assume where the back of his hands over my ass in a down word motion several times. He did this over my cloths. He spent more time on my ass than any other part of my body. I was feeling that this was very inappropriate and became even more nervous.

He then put what felt like two fingers from each hand inside the waist of my pants a felt all the way around. I should have jumped. I should have said something. I should have indicated that I was not comfortable with this. I should have voiced something to make this agent stop. The fact was that I was just to nervous at the time. I was shaking and scared. This is just not right.

He eventually continued down to my legs. He felt down my legs and the sides of my legs. He asked me to turn around and he proceeded to do the same thing down the front of my body, but avoided my genitals, but only by an inch or two. When he got to my legs he would wrap his hands around my legs and from just below my genitals and slide his hands down each leg. The whole time he did this I watched as Seattle’s finest stay glued to his mobile phone. Thanks for the help big guy.

I have been reading a lot about the TSA fully body scanners and the advanced pat-downs users are having to submit to if they opt out. Users experiences of opting out of the body scanners have been scary. Some people are being told they can no longer opt out. Others are being touched inappropriately (Do you think children should be submitted to this?). If you have been reading the same information I have your next question might be; did I feel that my privacy was violated? Did I feel embarrassed? Do I feel I was touched in ways only my wife should ever be allowed to touch me? That answer to all of these is a very strong HELL YES!

The irony of this is that I had my cigar cutter in my pocket the whole time and the TSA agent didn’t find it.

Hannah managed to catch a small portion of my pat-down on video. In the video you can see myself being patted-down and the police officer looking down at his cell phone. I am doing my best to not show how upset I am.

In hindsight I should have written down the police officers name and badge number. I will just have to chalk that one up to lack of experience and try and do better next time. I hope their will never be a next time. This is seriously not right.

As the two of use left the security screening area and proceeded to the elevator we shared our ride down with a custodian. I asked her “Do you have to submit to these full body imagine scanners?”

“Nope” She said “We all refuse to use them”.

How interesting I thought to myself.

Hannah and I both have a friend who is also a pilot for a major airline. He has told us a couple of times that none of the airline pilots will let TSA use the full body scanners on them. I do find it funny that a government trying to implement a system that not even the pilots of the planes that fly in and out of these airports will par take in.

Where does one go from here? Well I have already contacted the airline I flew with and expressed my displeasure in what occurred.  As someone who flew first class and is upset I hope that my voice will carry a little weight with them. I have also contacted TSA and let them know I felt violated. What, if anything will come of my action I don’t know. I just know I am not the only person that feels this way. If we make our voices heard we can enact change.

I’m A Married Man

Let me introduce you to my beautiful wife.

Hannah and I have been dating for 7 years solid and we have been engaged for 6 of those years. I can’t imagen a better or more beautiful person to spend the rest of my life with. On Saturday, April 16th we made our committee to each other official by getting married.

The two of us had a beautiful ceremony on Whidbey Island in Washington state with my younger brother Abe as our officiant. My older brother Reza was my best man and Hannah’s older sister, Amanda was her made of honor.

The both of us want to thank all our family and friends for all the love and support we have received, not only at our wedding, but over the course of our relationship together. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.

A Wedding And The Lower 48

I really look forward to my trips down south. I love Alaska and Juneau. It’s beautiful in a way that words can not describe. I just find myself missing so many things about Washington State and the lower 48 states in general. Things like walking through a mall and being able to drive longer than 15 minutes.

In just over a week Hannah and I will be coming down to Washington state to get married. So this trip is really going to mean a lot to me. I am going to get to spend time with family and friends I have not seen in years. All these people I love and miss will be all close by for a couple of days as Hannah and I get married. I can’t imagen a more perfect trip.

Before family starts showing up for the wedding Hannah and I will get a chance to spend some time in Seattle and I also hope Bellingham, because Bellingham rocks! Will have a few last-minute wedding purchases to make and just get a chance to get out and see the real world for a change.

Guemes Island Ferry

Thanks to a link I got on Twitter I read that a small photo exhibit showing the evolution of the Guemes ferry over the past one hundred years or so will be going up at the Guemes ferry terminal. The photos depict not only the Guemes Island ferry boats from years past, but they also show the crew doing their jobs and treating their passengers with respect. Oh how things have changed.

I am not a 100 years old. Far from it, but I do remember visiting my grandparents as a kid some twenty plus years ago on Guemes Island and having a much more enjoyable experience ferrying over from island to island then I have in the last ten years or so.


Hacky Sack

When I used to live and work in Seattle doing web hosting support a bunch of us would take frequient brakes to play a couple of rounds of hacky sack. At times we would have the hole company outside playing together. It’s one of the big things I have missed since moving to Juneau. To this day I still keep a Hacky Sack on me a lot of time just in case I run into someone who wants to play a quick game.

Near the end of my time in Seattle I came across a really good Hacky Sack brand and have not changed since. It’s called “Sandmaster Footbag” and I just wanted the chance to share that with you. My experience with them has only been good. They last a long time and can take quite a beating.

I truly am no expert hacky sack footbager. I just enjoy it playing when the occasion permits.

Lets Please Brake Up Weezer

My brother Abe, pointed me to a damn funny post in The Stranger titled: Want to See Weezer Break Up? Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is! Essentially James Burns, of seattle (who I now think is one of the smartest people in the world) has this game plan of getting 10 million dollars together to give the band Weezer, if they will break up.

James writes:

I have never been a fan of this band. I think that they are pretty much horrible, and always have been. Even in the early 90’s.

But this isn’t about me. This is about the Weezer fans. They are our brothers and sisters, our friends, our lovers.

Every year, Rivers Cuomo swears that he’s changed, and that their new album is the best thing that he’s done since “Pinkerton,” and what happens? Another pile of crap like “Beverly Hills” or “I’m Your Daddy.”

This is an abusive relationship, and it needs to stop now.

I am tired of my friends being disappointed year after year.

I am tired of endless whimsical cutesy album covers and music videos.

I’m sick of hearing about whatever this terrible (and yes, even if you like the early stuff, you should be able to admit that they are wretched now) excuse for a band is up to these days.

If all 852,000 of you (really?) who bought “Pinkerton” pitch in $12, we will meet our goal.

I beg you, Weezer. Take our money and disappear.

I am standing behind james by making a donation to this (what can only be described honestly as a) humanitarian cause. If this works and James is successfully able spare the world from another crap fest album from this shitty band I can only hope he will shift his attention to getting other bands to stop.

My suggestions? Lenny god damn Kravitz.

So what happens if James raises the 10 million and Weezer refuses accept it. James has this to say:

One of the most pervasive criticisms of this campaign is that the money could be used for a better cause.

And after reading many of the comments on The Point site and others, I have decided to do just that.

So IF we raise the Ten Million (and remember, no money changes hands until we do,) and IF Weezer declines the money (because calling them “mediocre” would be generous, and they should just go away, really)….

…wait for it…

…wait for it…

I am going to be donating the ten million dollars to RIF (Reading Is Fundamental) programs across the country. Because for fuck sakes, most of y’all’s reading comprehension is for shit, and it appears that most of you don’t read well enough to appreciate humor.

I might also open a journalism school. Teach some of you copypasta “journalists” how to do something called “fact-checking.

Geez oh pete, you people are insufferable.

James is a damn funny guy and checking out The Stranger site and The Point site just to read the comments and his replays is well worth the time.

PAX Prime 2010 – Day 3

Waking up on the last day of PAX was slow and painful for not only myself, but for Hannah as well. I pulled myself out of bed and lazily stood up. That’s when I realized it was the damn hotel bed that had been sucking the life out of me each morning. The bed was to soft that you just melted into it. When you tried to get up in the morning it was like trying to pull yourself out of a quick sand pit. We took a shower and tried to wash away the groggy and stiffness we felt.

Today Hannah, Lyle and myself planned to meet up and spend most of the day in the Expo Hall checking out all the games we didn’t have a chance to check out before. The highlight for me was playing the new Mortal Kombat. Granted, I did not get a chance to see every game in the hall or play every game in the hall but out of the ones I did, Mortal Kombat stuck out as a favorite for me. This game feels more like MK 1 and MK 2 in it’s play and brutality. I understand it is also going to have a mature rating which will make fans of the game think that the game developers are finally starting to listen after 10 years.

Another game I was excited to see was Portal 2. The game was closed off behind walls and the only way to play it was to wait in an hour and a half. So though I did not get to play it I was excited to see that the game had a presence their.

I was so excited to try the demo for Duke Nukem forever. I quickly learned however, that the line for the demo was 2 hours long. I had waited in lines the last two days and I was done with it. So I did not wait to play the Duke Nukem Demo. I texted my friend Alex about this when I learned how long the line was.

Youseph: The line for Duke Nukem is 2 hours long.

Alex: It could be argued that, that line is 15 years long ;)

Youseph: Haha, to true!

Hannah found ‘Kirby’s Epic Yarn’ and played the demo for a while. Lyle enjoyed several Lord of the Rings game demos going on and all of us played a hand full of indie games. Hannah really enjoyed one that will be coming out soon called Swarm.

Not to think we where all about computer and console games on our last day at PAX we spent some time at the Chessex booth buying dice (where the frack where you GAME SCIENCE!) and visiting the hand full of venders that had RPG merchandise to offer.

We ended the day and PAX by attending Omegathon at Benaroya Hall. Omegathong is a weekend long tournament of randomly selected attendees competing for a grand prize. The final round makes up the show’s closing ceremony, past games for the final round have included Tetris, Pong, Halo 3, and Skee ball. This years final round was the OmegaClaw. You should have heard the audience explode when this thing was reveled on stage.

At the end of the Omegathon the three of us had dinner one last time. We said our guy byes to Lyle suggested we do this again next year.