looking for a few good ideas

  amongst the irregular verbiage

Night of the Living Stupids

Well, the weeks have rolled by, and the time for our trip to the midwest to the head office has  come again. 

We normally check Karma in to a cat hotel for our trips away, but this time, we figured that we would only be away a couple of nights and we could safely leave him at home with a couple of extra bowls of kibble and some bowls of water.

We packed quickly on Tuesday morning and drove down to San Francisco to catch our flight with time to spare. No problems with traffic, thank goodness. Arrived with plenty of time, only to find that - you guessed it! Due to morning fog, our flight out of SF was delayed an hour, and its scheduled departure time would result in our missing our connecting flight. *sigh*. This time, we were prepared, and with the help of a young Gary Oldman behind the counter, we changed our connecting flight to a later one, on American Airlines instead of Delta. Cool, we thought, this will work. 

And basically, it did. We had time to spare in SF thanks to the delay, so we grabbed a sandwich each for lunch and waited for our flight to be ready. By the time it left the ground, it was an hour and a half delayed, and even our re-booked connection was looking iffy, especially when we realised that because we had to change airlines, we would probably also have to change terminals - in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, where airports are bigger than small countries and terminals therefore further apart. We had to run and catch a bus that took us to the American Airlines terminal and yes, we actually made our flight in comfortable time. 

So, our fears were unfounded.

It was about 9:00pm before we took off though. As the aircraft climbed up out of the Dallas area and headed North, I looked out of the window at the suburban expanse, all street lights and patches of darkness. Then I noticed something strange... a pulsing, flickering light seemed to be racing along the ground, jumping from street light to street light to house, like a pulsing rabbit of light fleeing along the power cables. It was weird. I couldn't figure it out. Was it possible that a power surge looked like this? Couldn't be - It wasn't moving fast enough, and lights weren't burning out, just flaring, and it was always in one place at a time, like a single entity.

Then we flew over a lake or other body of water, and I saw what it was - it was the rising moon, reflected in parked car windscreens and backyard swimming pools! It was beautiful, and I spent a few minutes admiring the reflection in the lakes and rivers and things until the terrain changed and it was no longer visible.

After "de-planing" (yuck) at Little Rock, and collecting our luggage, we checked in at the Avis counter, and we were told that we'd got in so late that there was only one car left! Uh oh, we thought, what kind of thrashed reject is it going to be? As we walked out into the brisk night air of the Avis car park, we could see that the car in slot nineteen was... the same bright red Pontiac Grand Am with Georgia license plates that we'd had last time we were here!

It's always a crap shoot whether we get lost on our way to the hotel, because we have to negotiate two interchanges and three highways, and everything is either West or East, even when it is going North/South. With supreme skill, however, we avoided problems and finally checked into the hotel.

It turns out that there is a law in Arkansas whereby a hotel can not force anyone to leave, so if someone in a room decides on a whim to stay an extra night, they can't force them to vacate the room, even if there are people trying to check in who ostensibly have a valid booking.... You know where this is going, right?

Well, we were just in time, because there was one room left, and there were people coming up behind us who also had the intention of staying there. The room was a smoking room which was a bummer, but we decided we'd take it. The efficient front desk manager yelled out, "get housekeeping up there to deoderise the room - and start calling the other hotels!!" 

The next day we had several productive meetings with people who didn't hate us, which was somewhat reassuring, although we had to keep saying things like, "we'd love to keep working on this, but tomorrow we find out what we will really be doing, so we can't promise anything..."

There were other depressing things that happened to counteract any excess good feelings that may have stuck around, but I'm not going to go into details.

The next day we had more meetings, including the dreaded team meeting, and I think as a whole it went well.  The good news is that - as far as we can tell - our new boss has confidence in our team and isn't worried about the quality of our work and contribution, but rather, intends to deal with the "communication breakdown" as the euphemism goes by persuading the other parties to act responsibly. Or something like that. It is nice to have someone going into bat for us. It should be an interesting next few weeks. The bad news is that we still don't really know what roles and responsibilities he has planned for us.

We left for the airport straight after the team meeting, dropping off the car and checking in. No delays, good!

The flight to Dallas was quick and painless, with the remains of a beautiful sunset to enjoy for most of the trip. We got to our connecting gate with plently of time to spare, but not enough to get bored. Everything was going like clockwork!

We boarded the next plane - it was one third empty, yet somehow there were three of us all crammed up in one row - and just as we expected the doors to close, the announcement came over the intercom: "Sorry about this, but 15 minutes ago our co-pilot was informed of a family emergency back home, so he is catching a flight to San Diego. We've called in for a replacement co-pilot, but they'll be a delay, could be one to two hours. If you wish to get off the plane and walk around the gate area, you are welcome to do so..." Argh! 

We decided that Karma would just have to look after himself for a little while longer, and after banging my head on the chair in front of me several times, moaning "The Day of Stupid's Revenge! Debts must be paid! It was too good to last," we found a vacant row to wait it out.

Well, about 15 minutes later, the intercom came on again: "Well, good news folks, the flight to San Diego is also delayed, and the copilot has determined that he'll get home faster if he comes with us to San Francisco and catches a different connecting flight, so we'll be ready to depart in a few minutes, as soon as we've collected all our passengers". Hooray!

Because the flight is only about two-thirds full - if that - we stayed in our vacant row with no-one in front or behind and settled down for a pleasant flight home. Typically, as soon as I commented to Lisa on this fact, someone climbed into the seat behind me and started kicking the back of my chair.

Ah, well. I didn't care. We were going home, and at least with no-one in front of me, I had no fears of the seat suddenly reclining and crushing my laptop screen.

There is nothing quite so awesome as seeing a thunderstorm at night from the air. I've written about this before, and as I write this (flying home to SF on the last leg of the trip) a flash from outside the plane caught my eye. I shut the laptop up to cut the light from the LCD screen and upon looking out the window, I realised we were flying above a cloud bank that was being lit up from inside with great flashes rippling along its length. I never guessed that clouds were actually pink when lit from within.

That's enough from me - my laptop battery is looking a little empty, and I might get to doze the rest of the flight.