Shoulda made that left turn (no, really)…

It was actually a lot of fun revisiting Albuquerque after almost twenty years. This is a city that appreciates its roadside heritage and recognizes it both as a part of American history and a tourism opportunity, and I was happy to see that a lot of the built environment–though not all of it–had survived since my last visit, and that a beautification and transit project was happening over the full length of Route 66/Central Avenue. This was a work trip so I didn’t get to do as much exploration as I might have liked, but I did also get some Groceteria research done.

And then came the trip home, which allowed me to experience a major U.S. air travel meltdown firsthand. Here is a timeline of my 36-hour trip home:

Wednesday:

8:00 AM MDT: Get an alert that my 1:15 flight to Atlanta has been delayed by two hours, which will cause me to miss my connection. I easily rebook the final leg and am happy that I get a few extra hours o explore.

2:00 PM MDT: Possible additional delays, but my coworker and I arrive at the airport since the rental car is due. We don’t realize at this time that there is a major weather issue in Atlanta that is about to cripple air travel nationwide.

4:00 PM MDT: It begins to look like our flight may be cancelled. The very helpful and friendly gate staff offer to put us up for the night at an airport hotel, which is not the usual M.O. for weather-related delays. We take them up on the offer and rebook for Thursday. I get booked on a very indirect route via Salt Lake City, but I score first class. This pleases me.

7:00 PM MDT: We have dinner in the hotel restaurant, where it takes two hours to be served a cub sandwich and a beer.

 

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Thursday:

4:00 AM MDT: I wake up and head to the airport for my first class fight to Atlanta via Salt Lake City. Alas, it is not to be.

6:00 AM MDT: My flight to Salt Lake City is cancelled. Fortunately, I manage to get on a direct flight that leaves about the same time, actually putting me In Atlanta earlier than the other route would have. Unfortunately, I’m in middle seat in coach rather than first class, and there’s a very annoying manspreader next to me, who will feel me knee very often over the next few hours. I am cranky, after all, from only having had a Kit Kat for breakfast.

11:00 AM EDT: I arrive in Atlanta. I finally eat. I find my gate and prepare for a four-hour wait for my connecting flight. The airport is a nightmare, with hours-long lines at every service desk. I feel pretty confident, though.

3:00 PM EDT: Just before we are to board, my flight is delayed for an hour. There is apparently no flight crew, though the plane itself is at the gate.

4:00 PM EDT: More delays. I’m getting apprehensive, but they’re still staging passengers so I don’t worry too much. Updates from the gate crew, however, are alarmingly infrequent.

5:00 PM EDT: My flight is cancelled. After pondering for about five minutes what I would need to do to get booked on another flight (one that would probably also get cancelled), I say “the hell with it” and reserve a rental car. I take the airport train to pick it up and find myself in line with a family who are about to rent a car to drive to Detroit for the same reason. There are a lot of people renting cars; I’m amazed I got one so cheaply and easily.

Friday:

1:00 AM EDT: Having driven over 300 miles from Atlanta, I finally get home. Just for fun, i check on the later flights I could have booked. All were cancelled. At least I made the right call for once.

Sunday update:

Delta meltdown: Delays drag into Sunday, improvement is slow

Five things about Albuquerque

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In no particular order:

  1. It was the subject of a song my dad used to sing to me as a joke when I was little. I have never been able to identify the actual song. I imagine it was from a TV show sketch or something.
  2. It’s the place where Bugs Bunny should’ve made that left turn.
  3. It is the home town of Ethel Mertz (a/k/a “Ethel Mae Potter. We never forgot her.”)
  4. It’s the only place I’ve ever been pulled over by a police officer who subsequently apologized to me for doing so.
  5. I have to go there the first week in April for a conference. For the record, I will not be taking the itinerary below.

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June. Soon.

I’m not sure exactly what to do with myself starting in June.

For context, it’s been a a really hectic year. I hoped to take it a little easy once the tenure stuff was done, but I ended up doing an extra consulting gig and taking on an entire semester-long class I hadn’t planned to teach. In the midst of all that, my mom fell and broke her neck (which was not quite as serious as it sounds) and had to move to a new facility for the second time in a year. I’m also chairing a  search committee, I have a grant application in play, and I’ve published three articles this year. And then there’s that whole “selling my house, dealing with the $22,000 oil tank, and moving” thing.

But somehow, all the major stuff seems to be ending pretty much simultaneously over the next few weeks. I’m not quite sure how to react.

Vacation will be a good start. I haven’t decided on the ultimate destination. I thought about going back to Pittsburgh because I enjoyed being there so much last weekend for my conference presentation. I’ve also considered Toronto and/or Montréal, because I probably won’t be headed that way this fall like I usually do. I may go somewhere I’ve never been. Or I may just sit on my ass watching “Cagney and Lacey” reruns and Criterion films on Hulu.

But it should be lovely…

On the road (foreshadowing)

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So I’ve kind of started pondering a pretty monumental road trip for this fall, the like of which I haven’t attempted in many years. No real details yet, but most of my ideas center around Winnipeg, and one of my drafts got me as far west as Alberta.

I know I have some readers in the prarie provinces, so if any of you want to remind me how boring I will probably find some of the vast spaces between all these cities (seeing as how I don’t much care for nature and the great outdoors) now would be a good time to rein me in a bit.

An alternate agenda would replace the western provinces with time in the US Midwest–specifically my first trip to Minneapolis in almost two decades. But I’ll probably still go to Winnipeg either way. It fascinates me. And after this year–what with the tenure process, all the teaching, and all the consulting work on the side–I deserve a big trip.

Inspiration includes this, which led to much geekerage and to this.

Otherstream at 20: 2013

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Despite an incredibly depressing start, 2013 turned out to be a really good year for me. I relocated to the house where I grew up, traveled a lot, and started having the slightest hint a social life again (which is about all I’ve ever really been able to stand anyway). And then there were the antidepressants–both the pills (which helped a LOT) and the cat with whom I had a brief relationship (which helped more than I might have thought as well). Music was a big help too.

The web stuff was maybe not some of my best ever, but that’s OK. Feeling like a human being again was nice.

January

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Otherstream at 20: 2012

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Let’s just say I visited some very dark places in 2012. I’d love to say I handled it with my usual good humor, but that might be a stretch. Maybe the best thing to say is that I lived through it. And lost weight. What i really hate is that the big entries on the site stopped being about anything other than me. The big anniversary comes on Wednesday.

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Otherstream at 20: 2011

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I thought this one was going to be harder to put together than it actually was. which says, I guess, that I’m finally over the worst year of my life. Or that I’ve gotten better at ignoring it. Or something.

In 2011, I lost two of the most important people in my life. Neither of them actually went away; they both just changed in ways that drastically altered our relationships. My ex and I split up after almost ten years, and my mom developed dementia. I’m not sure the website ever quite reflected how devastating this was to me. I actually wrote more about the latter than the former, but that doesn’t necessarily correlate with the proportionate effect of each. Sharing specific details about the breakup didn’t really seem fair or appropriate, although it is possible to read between the lines de temps en temps.

Despite everything, I was very successful at establishing my new career during 2011, and my October trip to Canada (the start of a new tradition) resulted in a lot of positive changes for me, not the least of which was the fact that i started listening to lots of new music again.

For the record, some of these posts were made public after the fact and did not originally appear in this same order (basically I “sneaked” them in retrospectively) so regular readers may have missed them.

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Otherstream at 20: 2010

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In 2010, I got my first tenure-track position (which is working out quite nicely, thanks), my ex and I recommenced living together full-time after five years of the bicoastal thing (that didn’t end well at all), and I didn’t write much of any consequence. Highlights follow on the march to the big anniversary on 13 January.

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