Still in GRR

With my work wrapped up yesterday, I headed to the airport. I made two wrong turns along the way, but still made it in plenty of time for the flight. At check in, the agent told me that the flight was delayed, and since they might be sending a smaller plane, I could volunteer to get bumped for a travel voucher. The best she could do for re-booking was to get me home at 3:30 in the afternoon. That was too late, so I declined the offer.

There was no hurry to get to the gate, since the flight had been delayed about 30 minutes. When I did get to the gate, there was already a long line at the counter. After some time, they announced that the plane was going to be even later, and everyone should get in line to check on connections and re-book if necessary. As the line snaked along slowly, our flight continued to be delayed further, and nearly everyone was going to miss their connections.

While waiting in line, I called the airline reservation number to see what was available. I was told that my connection was delayed a little bit, and I should chance making the flight. The only re-booking option was the same flight that got me in at 3:30. By the time I got to the desk, the arriving plane was nearly here and the agent was pretty harried. She had no paper to print boarding passes on, she had an arriving plane, and about 20 people who still needed to be re-booked. She re-booked me on a morning flight and gave me a voucher for a nearby hotel.

As I was waiting for the hotel shuttle, I was talking to the pilots of the arriving plane that was to return back to Detroit. When I asked about the delay, I heard what is probably a typical story these days about incompetent maintenance personnel, understaffed airline staff, and the domino effect of evening delays as they push back morning flights due pilot off time. I finally got to the hotel at 9:30, three and half hours after arriving at the airport. I went to the Old Chicago Pizza restaurant. I had a draft local brew, a Michigan Brewing Co. IPA to wash down a Chicago style pizza.

Here I am, back at the airport waiting for my morning flight to Detroit, with a connection home to Raleigh. At least this airport gets it, and offers free wireless.

On a Private Beach on a Michigan Shore

I am currently on a client visit to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and I took the opportunity of some evening free time to go see Lake Michigan (5th largest lake in the world, and the 3rd largest of the Great Lakes). I drove to Saugatuck, an artsy community on the Kalamazoo Harbor.

Saugatuck Town Hall, a town known as the San Francisco of Michigan

Kalamazoo Harbor, Michigan

Across the harbor, and across a small strip of land is the Lake. I went to Oval Beach, which is a large public beach acces. It was very serene at sunset (which comes late in the westernmost point of the eastern time zone). Gentle waves lapping at the shore. No birds. No boats. No airplanes. And hardly any people. You have a view of the lake horizon of about 180 degrees.

Sunset on Lake Michigan

Since this is an inland body of fresh water, there are rocks at the shoreline, rather than shells. I collect some interesting colored rocks (reds, blues and specked).

We got us a Convoy

Through some strange confluence of the forces of the Universe, great Western movie director, Sam Peckinpah directed the movie Convoy, based on the late 70s song, and starring Kris Kristofferson and Ernest Borgnine. While on the surface this seems like a cheap rip-off of Smokey and Bandit, which came out the year before, this is actually an inverted western where the rogue anti-hero is the good guy and the sheriff is the bad guy. Even though they drive trucks, rather than ride horses, this movie is filled with standard Peckinpah slow-motion sequences and extreme close-ups to heighten the tension.

As many movies made in the 70s, there are social issues that underlie the story. This is not a great movie, but like a car wreck, you just can’t look away.

Late Night Coffee

I finished up what I was doing on my computer, turned it off and went into the kitchen to make the coffee (on a timer) before going to bed. We were out of coffee, so I had to run to the store. It’s only a 5 minute drive, but what a pain. I wasn’t sure if I would find a squirrel in the car, in the grocery store, or in the coffee pot (just kidding).

Car Trouble: A Dramatization

I am getting ready to leave for work, and everyone else had gone. I open the garage and carry my briefcase out to the car. I put my briefcase in the back seat and leave the car door open. I have a few more things to carry out, and after I put them in, I shut the back door.

I get in the car, crank the key and put the car in reverse. I begin backing out of the driveway and I hear a clicking noise. I haven’t turned the music on yet, but I can’t really tell where it is coming from. The noise gets louder and faster. I haven’t left the driveway yet, so the change in sound can’t be related to the speed of the car.

I plug my ipod in and begin searching for a song. I can’t really do anything about the clicking sound this morning, so I just put that in the back of my mind. I pick a song by Dinosaur Jr with loud thrashing guitars. This seems like a good way to wake up, since I haven’t had enough coffee yet. While I am thinking of it, I pick up my travel mug to take a sip of coffee.

All of a sudden the clicking sound has become a screeching sound, barely audible over the music, but there is a flash of gray fur coming at me. Whatever it is, scratches my face, scratches my arm and makes me spill my coffee all over my lap. I scream and slam on the brakes. My legs are burning, my face is bleeding and I have no idea what happened.

I open the door to climb out and twist my ankle. I fall down into the road, leaving the door open. Immediately a squirrel runs out of the car and scampers up a tree. I realize that I never turned my car off and it begins to roll down the street. I try to get up, but I can’t put any weight on my ankle. I watch my car roll into a tree in a neighbor’s yard.

I take out my cell phone, but I forgot to charge it last night so the battery is dead. I set the phone down, close my eyes and wait.

Disclaimer: Do not try this at home. Stunt drivers on closed track. No animals were harmed in the making of this story.