December 2007 Archives

The Good, The Bad, And The Iowa

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Yesterday was the start of our annual Hajj to Iowa for the celebration that is Christmas. It is rarely pleasant, but it occasionally bearable. This year's quest, however, might have taken the cake for sheer orneriness.

During the football season, there is a 3 hour window during which all I want to do is watch the Giants. Now, if you think about it, there are 168 hours in the week, and I want to spend 3 of them watching this one game. Not a huge amount to ask, right? Well, the Giants played their (up to this point) most important game of the year yesterday from 1-4 PM. Our flight was at 1. Of course.

However, that is to say that our flight was "slated for 1" or "estimated for 1" or even "theoretically, there is a plane that might leave around 1." Actually, it left at 4:30, but who's counting?

Thus, the first leg of our journey actually went quite well. I had my laptop, an internet connection, power for the laptop (I had to sit near a column to grab hold of one of the few wall outlets available to the public--what's up with that?), and the wonderful Slingbox sitting at home. I tuned into my home TV and got to watch the entire Giants' game, finishing with me sitting on the plane with my internet connected modem card and my laptop on the little tray table and the guy next to me watching along with me. Definitely not a bad start, even if we were delayed 3.5 hours.

Moving onto the plane, I ended up sitting next to someone who went to U of Cin the same class as we did and spend a fairly pleasant trip chatting with him on and off, ultimately exchanging email addresses with a promise to keep in touch.

This is where the semblance of pleasant died. The dreaded "connecting flight."

I'm a firm believer that if you want to fly somewhere, NEVER take a connecting flight if you can avoid it. If you're headed somewhere like Chicago, at least you take your flight and you eventually get there. My new friend, for example, was late, but was home and done. 3 hours late, but whatever. We, however, had missed our connecting flight, and were doomed. DOOMED, I say!

Upon alighting onto the Chicagoland area (always makes it sound like a theme park to me, but what do I know...), we were met with a hard working O'Hare gate attendant who was efficient, helpful, and, ultimately, someone whose death I planned in painful ways later on that night. We had just barely (by 3 hours) missed the 3:40 flight to Dubuque on which we were scheduled, and he informed us that the 9:05 flight to Dubuque that day was cancelled. However, he was able to get us on the next "flight", a "ferry flight" leaving at 8 PM. As it was already 6:30, we decided we'd better move it, grabbing some food in a bag along the way for the kids after we got near the gate.

Ah, yes. What gate was that flight out of? Looking at the "big board", we see...nothing. It's not listed. So, we look around for our helpful, hard working gate agent and he's nowhere to be seen. Of course. Walking around to 3 other people who, theoretically work for American Airlines, we were told "Oh, the other flights for Dubuque all leave out of G17, so I'd go there", and "it's not up on the board because they don't have a gate for it yet", and "I don't really know much about the American Eagle flights, so go over there." SO helpful, right? Grabbing the kids, we haul ass across the entire airport until we get to the infamous American Eagle "G gates", which are downstairs from the regular G gates, and seemingly in the disused basement of a back door off a side stairwell. It is also packed with people, some of whom might have been mooing--I can't be sure. I make a beeline for a gate agent, kids and wife in tow, kids panting for breath, and ask her where our flight is. She doesn't know either.

Now, at this point, I'm getting a bit disconcerted. Is this a Magical Mystery Flight? Does it come from Neverland? Is it invisible?

Ultimately, none of those significantly more exciting answers turn out to be the truth. In fact, the "flight" to Dubuque turns out to be a bus. A bus that is "boarding in 20 minutes". And, of course, a bus that is boarding on the other side of the airport.

Once again, we move, this time to the food court area where we load up on things "to go", and, almost literally running, we make our way to the "bus/ground transportation" wing. No one there knows anything and the one person in the whole area that might is behind the desk of a line 20 people long. Finally, exasperated beyond belief I spot a septuagenarian pilot-type sitting on a bench and ask him. He tells me that it's back the way I came, make a right, and straight on 'till morning. Unsurprised, I head off that way, running again, with kids in tow until we actually DO find the "gate", which, in this case, is a door. For the first time in a while, we're actually with other people who have the intension of making it to Dubuque this evening if possible. Hope springs eternal.

It's now 7:30 or so, and we've made it where we need to be for the bus-plane-thing. We're in the right place. We're ready. Problem? No bus-plane-thing. No information. No clue. No one knows where it is, when it's coming, or even, for sure, what gate-door-thing it's coming to. So, we all wait, bitch, and hope that we're in the right place. Finally, at around 9:30, we get on a big 'ole bus which leaves around 10 for Dubuque. Along the way we find out that the roads are too bad in Dubuque to get to Kim's parents' house that evening, so we're staying with Paul & Anne. Finally, at about 2:00 AM we stumble out of the bus, get picked up by Paul & Anne, and are in bed, warm and snug, by about 3:00 AM. On a day that started with us leaving at 10:30 AM for the airport, we've been traveling for a solid 16-17 hours.

Just for comparisons sake, it's about 18 hours BY CAR to Dubuque from our house in NJ. Yay for air travel.

At least the Giants won.

Santa's doings

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So the kids were discussing the logistics of Santa today in the car as they headed for MSU. Last night, Kim took them to the mall to visit with Santa, and they were trying to determine if that was the "real" Santa or not. Ellen suggested that there are "replacement" Santas that supplement the real Santa in malls. She added also that there must be at least one from each country because otherwise they wouldn't be able to speak the language. Finally, she worked out the basis for an Elf pay scale, based on cookies and the relative values of one to the other. Ginger snaps, were, apparently, the pennies of the cookie world, with 3 of them to one sugar cookie, and then cascading upwards to the fig newton, which if the math works out, would be worth about 10,000 ginger snaps.

Katie decided that the mall Santa in whose lap she perched last night must have been the real one for two reasons: 1, his beard felt real, and 2, he knew how Rudolph was doing when she asked about him!

How can one argue with logic like that?

assorted bits

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a few vignettes from the kids:

The other day, Katie with my parents:

Katie says "we're all related anyway."
mom: "what do you mean?"
katie: "well, we're all related to each other anyway if you go back 5000 years."
mom: "and what was before that?"
katie: "cromagnets."
mom: "ah. And what was before the cromagnets?"
katie: "spiders and cats."
mom: "and before the spiders and cats?"
katie: "thats all i know about that subject."


Today, ellen and i are at "funplex" and she wants to ride on go karts. As they're $10/ride, i decline. There are some soda machines nearby and i suggest we split a soda. As i'm going to buy the soda, ellen says "opening the soda bottle will constitute a binding agreement to allow me to ride the go karts..."


More to come if i can remember...

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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