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Boston Strikes Back

Started: 2005-10-15 09:38:07

Submitted: 2005-10-15 10:22:35

Visibility: World-readable

At the moment, I'm on US Airways flight 175 from Philly to Denver, somewhere over middle America. (I have an aisle seat, which makes it difficult to track where I am, and this Airbus A319 isn't equipped with personal seat-back video terminals that let me see our progress.) Astute readers will notice that this isn't my originally-scheduled flight. I was supposed to fly home yesterday evening; just as I was getting ready to leave the customer's site just before 1400 EDT so I could make my flight out of Boston at 1630, I got a call from a US Airways computer telling me that my flight was canceled, and inviting me to call reservations to make alternate arrangements. I called and was given two options: A flight through Pittsburgh leaving at 1520, or a flight leaving Saturday morning at 0730. I didn't think I had any chance of making it to the airport in time, especially since I still had to gather my stuff (which would take at least three minutes), drive to Logan, deposit my rental car, take the shuttle to the terminal, check in, pass security, and board the aircraft in one hour, twenty minutes. I thought I was cutting it close by waiting until 1400 to leave. (If I were already on my way I might have tried it.) I checked other last-minute flights; even jetBlue's 2130 flight to Denver was US$299. I wasn't going to pay that much money to get home earlier, so I took the 0730 flight, called to extend my rental car through the following morning, booked one night at the hotel I stayed at, and went to a very late lunch with Shawn, an engineer from home (and a fellow Walla Walla graduate, although he was three years behind me) who took over the actual operation of the system, now that it was mostly working and I had done everything I could on site. (This means that there might not actually be a sequel; after this trip, I'm not sure I want to go back.) I gave Shawn the lay of the land, my five maps (four of which I expensed), my tour book of Boston, and recommendations on what to see in Boston; he'll be out for the weekend, since he's running the system next week and we wanted him to have one day overlap with me to learn how to run it. (I think we gave our customer the impression that Shawn knows how to run this specific system, which isn't exactly correct.)

After three frantic days in Boston (Tuesday through Thursday), Friday was a nice change of pace. When I checked into my hotel for the night, I didn't have any pressing tasks to complete before the next day; I was almost bored for a while before I looked through the tv episodes I downloaded onto Illyria and decided to watch Stargate: Atlantis. Body-swapping episodes have been a staple of sci-fi television for longer than I can remember; Atlantis at least had the decency to put two people in the same body.

My alarm woke me up at 0500 EDT Saturday morning. (Just in case you were wondering, that's a horribly indecent hour. Not to mention that it's 0300 MDT.) I didn't bother showering or eating breakfast; I didn't have any clean clothing, and it would have taken too much time. I checked out and headed south on I-93 in the pouring rain. All went well until I discovered that the Big Dig itself was closed (probably from the leaking concrete); I followed the signs pushing me off the highway I knew onto random surface streets somewhere on the northern edge of Boston. I recognized generally where I was, from touring Boston last time I was here, but not well enough from a vehicle perspective. (Shawn got screwed up in I-93 closing early Friday morning, after his flight landed; when he mentioned that to me I set a flag to double-check to see if I needed to have a backup plan, but I failed to do so.) I didn't have my maps of Boston, having given them to Shawn (how hard is it to drive from a hotel I know to an airport I know, which I've done several times before?); the best I had was a vague mental map of Boston via vehicle, something superficially resembling a sense of absolute direction, and a GPS whose batteries promptly died. I found I-90 mostly by luck but couldn't head eastbound, towards the airport; I wandered east on surface streets until I found an "I-90 east/Airport" sign... that led me into Boston's road maintenance station. (I don't think I was the only one misled; there were several other vehicles wandering around.) I left the road maintenance depot and immediately saw a sign pointing me towards the airport. In short order I was in the Ted Williams Tunnel heading under Boston Harbor.

This wasn't the first time this week I thought of my new words of wisdom:

Sometimes you're lucky; sometimes you're good; and sometimes you can't tell which.

I found my rental car drop-off without incident, took the shuttle to the terminal, queued to check in (as I feared, Logan was crowded in the pre-dawn downpour), and made it to the self-check-in terminal, which gave me a cryptic message about "see an agent"; I queued to talk to a human and eventually discovered that it had in fact spit out my luggage tag. The agent took my id to the other end of the counter; a minute later another agent returned with my boarding passes and pointed me to security.

At security, I learned that I had been selected, once again, for special screening. The TSA agent said this might happen if I didn't show up for a previous flight on the same reservation, which I suppose is technically true.

Once I passed security, I grabbed breakfast and headed to my gate. The flight out of Boston was especially bumpy for the first half-hour. I do much better with turbulence than I used to, but for a while it was a bit much for me. Once we finally cleared the clouds, I saw the sun for the first time in a week. It was still sunny as we landed in Philly. I caught my connecting flight to Denver without incident, and now I'm amusing myself at 36,000 feet above North America, with about ninety minutes left before we touch down at DIA.

Last night, a list of things I might do crossed my mind. This list isn't a list of goals, or things that I will do; they're just bizarre enough that I might end up doing them if circumstances are right.

  • Cross an ocean in a sailboat.
  • Write a requiem mass. (Probably as a rock anthem.)
  • Live as an expat in Geneva, or maybe Victoria.
  • Write a rock opera.

In related news, one thing that I am considering doing is writing a bad genre novel for National Novel Writing Month in November. (I thought about doing it last year, but then the situation at work went straight to hell in a handbasket.) I have no real idea how to describe the novel I'm going to write (which is the same one I was going to write last year); it's not really genre fiction at all, although it does involve some currently-unrealized technology. Of course, I haven't actually written it yet, so all bets are off on what it will be when I'm done. I might not actually write it, depending on how the rest of my life goes, and if I do I'm not sure I'll actually show it to anyone, but it should be fun.