Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Boston. Again. Yeah.

So I've been in Boston this week on business. Anne flew up with my on Saturday, we spent the day seeing a few sites (with many thanks to Kelly for the tips). Anne flew home Sunday morning.

Now when I made my travel plans a month or two ago, I had the brilliant idea that my coworkers and I should fly home on Wednesday night. Typically after one of our trips, we're flying back from the Pacific time zone. Hey, this is Boston! It's just over an hour flight! No problem, right? Meeting's done at 5:00, flight leaves after dinner, I'm unpacked and in my own bed at 11pm.

I checked out of my room this morning, went back to my meetings, we left around 5:30, sat in traffic FOREVER, got to the airport and checked in at the kiosks, bypassing a long line of people waiting to talk to a human being.

We went to our gate, we were there about 2.5 hours early. There had been an earlier flight leaving at 7pm, but we hadn't booked that flight since we figured it would be close timing to get there after our meeting.

My boss and I went to find some gourmet eats at the Pizza Hut express, running into some other people from our organization who were travelling elsewhere. We chatted for about an hour. Then my coworker walked up and informed me the flight had been delayed about 45 minutes.

Then it was another 30 minutes. Then it was another hour.

I talked to Increvil. Thunderstorms in DC, he told me to forget about flying anytime soon. I had other plans.

The 7pm flight was also delayed. But it was leaving an hour before ours. So I had the bright idea to call United, and get us booked onto the earlier flight. No problem.

I talked to Increvil again, who said he spotted a storm that looked like something you see on those Weather Channel "Storm Stories" shows.

Our original, pre-doomed flight was further delayed, departing sometime after midnight. Eeeeyeah, no thanks. Woo hoo, I'm on the early flight!

Then the shock. Someone said the "C" word. Cancelled... wha? No! The used-to-be-7pm-now-10:50pm-flight had been cancelled! The flight I had, only moments earlier, rebooked me, my boss, and two other coworkers on.

If we were interested in the original flight, we could go standby. Oh yeah, it was a regional express jet. Good odds there, huh?

So we were rebooked onto a 6:45 AM flight. We tried to get our bags back, but it wouldn't be practical, but the lady at the bag counter told me I was the friendliest person she had encountered all day. We took another $30 cab ride back to the hotel. We left our bags at the airport.

And get this. They put me in the SAME ROOM I was in all week! Why did I leave in the first place? We could have had a nice dinner, on the company's dime, I could have gone for a nice walk, who knows what. Instead, I sat in traffic for an hour, and stood around breathing stale airport air.

I know my travel woes aren't really all that bad. But nonetheless, here I am, back in Boston, going to sleep for five hours in a $200/night room so I can wake up, not shower, and put on the same clothes I wore for 17 hours today.

And sit next to my coworkers who are wearing the same clothes they wore for 17 hours today.

Air travel. Love it, hate it, gotta do it.

On the bright side, back at the hotel, the wireless connection I bought for $10 had another hour left on it, enough for me to post this to the Internet. And I got to see the last 22 minutes of LOST. Every thunderstorm has it's silver lining.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

On Mission Journals and Such

I read Ned's post from his mission journal, and linked from there over to T&S where Rosalynde shared an excerpt from her mission journal.

My thought: "Uhmmm... Where is my mission journal, anyway?"

Truth be told, it's not that verbose. I know, I know, hard to believe, right? Mr. Yaks-A-Lot could fill a tome without breaking a sweat. I went through stages when I would write more things than at other times. The main reason was the lack of time, and the fact that when I write, I like to write. I want to set the stage, all of the juicy details, the nuance, the humor, etc. When handwriting a journal entry in 10 minutes, that couldn't happen, and so many things were never recorded.

So I found myself saying, "Okay, I'll finish this entry tomorrow." Then "tomorrow" I might get around to finishing today's entry, but then I had a whole NEW day to cover. It was just too much! What I needed was a good laptop, or a stenographer. Come to think of it, a stenographer would have been perfect.

I recall the last month of my mission standing on our patio with a handheld tape recorder dictating the details of my final days and weeks in the mission. Which, truth be told, where among the best--and most grueling. On this particular day I was home sick, so I took the time to record my thoughts for posterity.

Now, where's that tape?!

I'm sure it's somewhere in my mission archives. Someday I'll transcribe my mission journal, and then fill in the gaps here and there. I should have done this soon after returning home (kinda like I should have done my mission photo albums after getting home, when I still remembered names, etc.). But, what can I say, in my mind I know the amount of time it will require, and knowing I don't have that kind of time, I never get around to it.

I'm sure there's stuff in there that would make me scratch my head and say, "Huh? What was I talking about?" along with the "Please tell me I did not ever write something this ridiculous" entries.

My parents and a friend or two saved most of the letters I sent them, so I always have those to go through and reconstruct details if need be, though the letters home were a bit more vague, what with my folks being members of another church and all...

So now my plan is this: one day I'll write my abridged memoirs, including the life and times of Elder Eddie, which will be available in a compact 15-volume leatherbound set. Pre-order your copy today!

Friday, June 17, 2005

License Plates

I haven't written much lately, so I figured I'd go through my photo archives and put a picture up. You know, a picture is worth a thousand words, they say.

So I came across some pictures from last year's family reunion in Utah. It was a doozy, over a hundred people I've never seen before, many I will most likely never see again, but it was certainly fun.

While there I snapped a picture of my cousin's license plate (Anne's cousin actually, since all of my cousins live in New Jersey and few could even locate Utah on a map, but we're all family as far as I'm concerned) because it caught my attention:

Is this a new license plate? "Board Utah"? Is that now a choice, or did he doctor this thing up with a sticker or something? So I went to Utah's DMV site (no, it's not a slow day at work, but I am killing time before I go to meet the fam for dinner) to peruse their specialty plates. No Board Utah as far as I could see.

Most of Utah's specialty plates look the same, with the addition of a logo on the left hand side, be it for a school or organization or what have you. On one hand I say "Yawn", on the other hand, it is nice to be able to recognize a plate when you're out driving the interstates.

Take Virginia for example. There are so many designs, colors and styles (about 180), I pity the kids who play "license plate bingo" or whatever, because there's no telling what state it's from unless you (A) regularly study various state DMV websites, in which case I might recommend counseling, or (B) you get close enough to read the state and hope they don't have a license plate frame.

One of our cars has the Jamestown plate, one has the United We Stand, and another has the plain old boring blue on white plate.

There are some odd plates, I must admit. For instance:

No thanks. Don't care for spiders. Is that the school mascot? Oy, "you know you've picked a bad university when..."

I'd have that blasted song stuck in my head every day.

Why would I adopt a bus? Gas for my sedan costs enough, thanks.

Lakers fans might like this one for the colors We have friends who themed their enitre wedding in these colors (big fans)

We went and saw this when I was a kid. And now you can have it on your license plate.

You've got to be kidding me. Haven't seen this one on the road yet.

Is this something you really want to advertise? "Look at me! I'm in a top secret military unit! Shhhh!"

$25 a year for turkeys...? People are lining up around the block to get this one.


So today I booked a ticked to Long Beach on jetBlue. Long Beach is a fun airport to fly in and out of, last year as I was curb checking my luggage Jimmy Buffet was blaring from the PA system.

One thing made me laugh on the jetBlue site. On the final step where you enter your credit card and promise to sign away your life in order to get on an airplane, you click a button to charge your credit card. The text next to it said: "CHILL" and explained that it can take a few moments for the transaction to go through, so not to panic and get all click happy.

CHILL. Good advice. Some of the more stuffy airlines should take that advice.

Friday, June 10, 2005

My arch nemisis, returned

You know it's summer time when I walk outside, go nowhere near any living plant, and end up getting poison ivy.

That vile, nasty weed!

This is undoubtedly the best case I've ever had. Basically the size of a mosquito bite.

Oh, the horror stories I could tell. Last year our then-one-year old crawled near some suspicious looking plants at a ward picnic. I promptly picked him up, and my arm broke out a couple of days later (he was fine--my understanding is some people need to be exposed several times before they react).

The summer before my mission I was pulling weeds at my grandfather's house. Several days later I couldn't move my fingers because of the swelling. And that was after a thorough hand scrubbing and lengthy shower immediately after pulling said weeds.

My sister takes the cake, though. She was about 12, and was visiting a friend in Pennsylvania (after all, "You've got a friend in Pennsylvania") and they went swinging on a big, wooden vine in the woods. Turns out that it was none other than a well-established poison ivy vine. She spent the next week or so covered, barely able to move.

As I learned on a recent web surf, poison ivy contains urushiol oil, which is what causes the rash. Ick. I found some interesting facts...

All you ever wanted to know about Poison Ivy plants

Urushiol Oil:
  • Only 1 nanogram (billionth of a gram) needed to cause rash
  • 1/4 ounce of urushiol is all that is needed to cause a rash in every person on earth
  • 500 people could itch from the amount of oil covering the head of a pin
  • Specimens of urushiol several centuries old have found to cause dermatitis in sensitive people.
  • 1 to 5 years is normal for urushiol oil to stay active on any surface including dead plants
That's mean stuff!

Common Myths About Poison Ivy

So while I love living in an area with plenty of trees and lush vegetation, it does have it's drawbacks. If last year was any indication, my ivy-induced "mosquito bite" will just be the beginning.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Lunchtime in Newton, Iowa

Reading about Sariah's husband's cross-country adventure reminded me of a similar trip I took about 4 years ago.

We were moving from Utah back to the east coast, and logistically it made sense for me to drive out, and then for Anne to fly out a few days later.

So I left in our car, the back seat providing a temporary resting place for our numerous household plants. A week or so before I had taken the car in for a mechanical once over, and had the typical routine maintenance performed.

I noticed it somewhere in Wyoming. It was rather subtle. A slight hesitation now and then, as though a cylinder wasn't firing. It resulted in a pulse in the steering wheel.

Must be my imagination. Besides, I've got to get there! The movers are coming, I have to do a walk through on the house, plus a million other things. Go, go, go!

Day 1 I stopped in Kearney, Nebraska and stayed at a weeks-old Holiday Inn Express. Day 2 I got an early start, and was half tempted to go non-stop until I reached my destination. I could do it, I was wired!

But that hesitation continued nagging me...

Finally I couldn't stand it any longer. I had just finished lunch in Newton, IA, and pulled into a service station. The friendly, grease-covered gentleman there told me he was swamped, but the Chevy dealer was right up the street.

I drove through the town. It was a warm, summer day in August. I liked the town instantly. The service people at the Chevy dealer told me that their mechanic was at lunch, he'd be back in an hour.

I tried not to look like an impatient city guy who's in a big hurry. I looked at some new cars, just in case one would be cheaper than the mechanic. I sat in the lobby, and listened to a couple of farmers chatting away. One had just stopped by, it seemed it was his usual route. He came in to shoot the breeze with his friends.

His name was Con, I suppose short for Conrad? We got to talking... harvesters, combines, and his new GPS system for monitoring crop growth and fertilizer application.

Speaking of GPS, that's when my cell rang. It was my dad, wondering why I had been in the same place for the last two hours. Thanks to a new service, my family members could sign into a website and see where I was on my journey. He figured either the thing wasn't working right, or I had run into some kind of trouble.

And there I sat, in that dealership showroom on a warm summer day, the doors propped open and a nice breeze floating through. At some point, the quiet mechanic slipped in and told me the car was ready--a spark plug cable had some cracks in it, and to replace it had taken quite a bit of time since that cable runs through the nether regions of the engine compartment.

A swipe of the credit card, and I was back on the road. It was a nice timeout while it lasted. And now when I think of cross-country journeys, I think of the time I unwillingly spent an enjoyable afternoon in Newton, IA.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Steam bath, anyone?

Summer has officially arrived here.

"But Eddie," you might say, "Summer doesn't officially begin for another 2 weeks."

Here in the mid-Atlantic we don't go by the calendar, we go by the hygrometer. In other words, the humidity! We've had weeks of cooler-than-normal temperatures, and the humidity has been notably low.

That all changed yesterday, when temps lurched over 90 degrees and the humidity made it's first significant appearance of the season. It's just as well, the kids have been wanting to run through the sprinklers for weeks now.

Which brings me to my next point. Is there a church building anywhere with properly functioning HVAC? When we moved into our building, the A/C was cranking and I half expected to see ice crystals forming on the interior walls of the chapel. Personally, I thought it felt great, but I can understand why some people complained--it was too cold for most people and cooling a building of that size to 60 degrees in the middle of summer would cost a fortune. Adjustments were made, and ever since it has been stuffy on the good days, and downright steamy on days like yesterday.

Is there no happy medium? If not, I vote we set the system for frigid cold and include a note in the bulletin for people to pack a sweater.