Friday, June 30, 2006

The Nation's Writing Contest

Friday, June 23, 2006

Call Me Wendell Whiner, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The HTML Ordered-List Tag

To continue the story:

  1. Woken up at 7am by the very loud cleaning staff in the halls of the Spring Hill Suites.
  2. Eat free breakfast and read free USA Today.
  3. Brush teeth with free toothbrush and free toothpaste.
  4. Decide to go pick up bag and return to hotel to shower and change, figuring that will get me to point where 5pm Nantucket flight seems sane.
  5. Wait 45 minutes for "every 30 minutes" airport bus.
  6. Hotel van appears, drops off passenger, is now empty, and driver says he's not taking us to airport, someone else will, etc.
  7. Ask front desk what the deal is.
  8. "It's not my job to keep track of where the bus is."
  9. *sigh*
  10. A major argument ensues.
  11. After 90 total minutes, already-packed-full bus shows up. We all shove on anyway.
  12. Bus to monorail to Terminal C. It's 11am now. Even if I was willing to wait for another bus, it's too late to return to hotel before 1pm late checkout.
  13. Airport luggage people explain that luggage cannot be retrieved as it is already loaded on to 11:30am flight to Nantucket; only way to get it off is to cancel my 5pm reservation. I don't want to do that, since a fresh shirt might have me ready to wait for the flight. Peri, the best lugguage agent in the world, takes pity on me and gets them to pull my bag.
  14. Call my travel agent while waiting for bag to discuss options. Newark-Boston flights are essentially full all day, all other Nantucket flights are booked solid, thunderstorms expected throughout the region, etc., etc.
  15. Get bag and change into fresh shirt. Aaaaaaaaahhhh....
  16. Fresh shirt not enough to make me want to risk another night in New Jersey.
  17. Find the extemely helpful and well-organized Newark ground transportation desk, who are happy to make arrangements for a 12:15 vanpool to La Guardia. You wait in special heavily air-conditioned area and they come find you when your van arrives.
  18. Call TA and get reservation on 3pm shuttle back home.
  19. Call Nantucket to cancel. Weather observation there now is soupy and non-encouraging, so new plan seems wise. Still feel a little bad for not risking it.
  20. Van has not shown up by 12:40.
  21. Desk calls driver, who forgot me.
  22. Last seat in van. Really more of a half-seat. No seatbelt.
  23. Van covers more ground in one hour than this jetsetter had in the last 24.
  24. Back to semi-home in the shuttle terminal. Say "hello" to familiar ground staff, snag upgrade, walk straight on to airplane, leave right on time for 30 minute flight to Boston.
  25. You thought it was that easy, right? Indefinite ground hold. Another two hours in another penalty box, but they're not going to cancel this flight, right?
  26. Right?
  27. Right. Contrary to whinging from someone with a really really important meeting who wanted to return to the gate so he could videoconference in, we waited out the delay and made it back to the drizzly Hub.
  28. Cab it back to scenic south Waltham.
  29. Check status of the 5pm flight to Nantucket I had been booked on.
  30. It had been cancelled.

If California Were Iraq

I remember in the lead up to the war and the search for WMD's after we "won", the Administration kept reminding us that Iraq is about the size of California, and hence WMD's could easily be hidden (indeed, Rick Santorum just this week apparently found some, but I digress).

So checking out comparative populations, in these areas of approximately the same size, there live 26,800,000 Iraqis and 33,800,000 Californians, approximately a 4 to 5 ratio.

So I look at today's news, and I think I count 42 Iraqis killed or found dead today from this war, just today, which, if I am doing my math correctly (and someone out there will tell me if I'm not) would translate to 52.5 Californians if the war were here in only one of our states.

When I worked at a winery in Hammondsport NY in the summer of 1967 and some of the German workers who were supposed to install the new wine-making machines decided not to come here because of the violence and riots (anti-war and race) going on in this country, I laughed at them -- what could be more peaceful or idyllic than Keuka Lake in the summer? So is that what Iraq is like -- pockets of violence but an otherwise largely peaceful country? That is the message of our national leaders and some commentators.

But how do you argue with the numbers? If 52 Californians were violently killed, 6 apparently purposely mutilated, in a single day, not that unlike every other day, would The Terminator consider his state to be full of good news not being told by the media?

And, of course, American soldiers are dying there as well -- apparently 14 according to this article, in the two days since the death toll hit 2500. Yesterday morning, Imus said 8 American soldiers had been killed that day -- I noticed all day that I never saw that reported anywhere else -- could it be the bad news out of Iraq that is not being reported???

And can we not protect the lawyers who agree to defend Saddam Hussein? I mean, lots of Americans would think it pretty cool if three attorneys who represent unpopular defendants were taken from their homes and shot, but doesn't this country at least owe protection to those bravely trying to ensure the semblance of a fair trial that we insist upon???

Do You Suppose This is True?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Took a bus, walked around

  1. Leave the office in 90-degree heat, pick up bag at hotel.
  2. Un-airconditioned subway to Penn Station.
  3. Train to Newark airport station.
  4. Monorail to terminal.
  5. Check bag, since it's too big to carry on.
  6. After long wait in hot terminal, load up Continental 3180, a half-full flight to Nantucket.
  7. Sit on tarmac for an hour.
  8. Next in line for takeoff.
  9. Plane pulls out of line into penalty box.
  10. Another hour of sitting.
  11. Flight cancelled due to "weather on Nantucket".
  12. Operatives on site confirm that weather is fine on Nantucket, and planes are observed landing well past what would have been CO 3180's arrival time.
  13. Takes 45 minutes to get rebooked on tomorrow's 5pm flight. Continental won't pay for hotel since "weather" caused the cancellation.
  14. Guy in line reports that he's been on all three Nantucket flights today, all of which have been cancelled. Continental may not actually fly to Nantucket.
  15. Make plans to share cab to Manhattan with lovely young lady from flight. Figure I can regroup at the Courtyard and catch a flight on a real airline from La Guardia tomorrow. Things looking up.
  16. Checked bag is in "secure" area of Newark airport, cannot be obtained until 7am tomorrow, and will not be forwarded if I don't pick up. So I am stuck with the clothes on my back and at the Newark airport. Make reservation with the airport Spring Hill Suites.
  17. Monorail to hotel pickup location.
  18. Wait outside for hotel bus. Did I mention it's 90 degrees and I'm in my full work clothes?
  19. Bus to hotel.
  20. No room service at hotel. Front desk doesn't know any restaurants that deliver. Eat Tony's (a.k.a. Schwann's) frozen individual pizza from hotel pantry for dinner and think of home.

I have no idea what I'm going to do tomorrow. Maybe wait for the Nantucket flight, maybe bug out to Boston. Decisions are better left to when I'm rested and rehydrated. Just wanted to vent while I had the chance.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

John & Patty Head West

John & Patty left Earlville Saturday to pick up John's niece from France to do a cross-country in a rather antiquated VW micro-bus. They will be posting to the blog regularly, and it will be interesting! Especially crossing the Rockies.

The blog address, in case the link in the title doesn't work . . .

Friday, June 09, 2006

A few pictures from Ireland...

There were all taken by my friend Kitty.

The view of another island from Skellig Michael

The cliffs on Inis Mor, on Dun Aenghus.

Irish countryside.

Irish countryside from the top of Knocknarea (a mountain with Maeve's Cairn on top).

More Irish countryside.


Mathias in the glen we visited.