I realize that lately I have been radio silent both on LJ and IRL, and I want to apologize for it. I should have planned better for the inevitable year-end crunch for both work and Christmas. I've skimmed my email, but am not done with it, and have only barely looked at my flist since 12/19. At the very least, I owe bear_left
(I am so sorry for your loss), and manley1
some long overdue replies. Now that I am back from my annual holiday adventure (details below), I have some time to work on that. Thank you for your patience.
Way back in May, I booked my flight home (United; SEA<->ORD<->AVP). As regular readers of my journal may remember, United changed the flights on me several times. The last time was back in October: my flight out was supposed to be on Sunday from about 11am until 9pm, which was perfect; neither leaving too early nor arriving too late. They changed that flight to be from about 1:30pm until midnight, or I could have changed to 6am to 3:30pm. Yuck! I was already getting up for a 6am flight on the return, and was not eager to have to do it both ways, and the later flight would kill the whole next day. In the end, I convinced the agent to let me rebook on Saturday, taking the late option. Since I'd already planned Sunday as a dead day for travel, this was fine.
I chose wisely.
As you may have heard, Seattle got some serious snow, and it started arriving on Saturday about 2 hours after I was scheduled to depart. They were, as expected, looking for volunteers to give up their seats, and announced to the people waiting standby that things didn't look good. After boarding, the couple sitting next to me on the plane inquired about giving up their seats (since they were only going to Chicago, and so didn't have any flight to connect to), and inquired when they could expect to get there, maybe the next day? The attendant responded "Oh, no, all tomorrow's flights and most of Monday's are canceled, and the rest are totally full. You won't get there until after Christmas." The couple blanched, and declined. Yikes! Good thing I changed my flight! Though, it did mean that I missed all of the snowy fun in Seattle. Curses! The one big snowstorm in years and I'm not here to revel in it!
My flight to ORD got there just fine, but the connection to AVP was, uh, less smooth. It left from gate F10. Did I say 10? I meant 12. Did I say 12? I meant 11C. Did I say 11C? I meant 4A. Did I say 4A? I meant 9. Did I say 9? I meant 7. Now, none of these gate changes were announced. No, you just had to occasionally look up an notice that the "Next Flight" was no longer listed as "Scranton/Wilkes-Barre", and then go find where you were supposed to be and move. Awesome. Mixed in with these gate changes were a total of three hours of delay. It could have been worse, though, like the flight to Kentucky next to us, which was delayed for several hours, only to be canceled because they were missing one flight attendant (scheduled one could not be found, and there was no one else available). Or the flight to Madison, which was delayed several hours, then finally boarded, and had to wait for the deicer, and then, 20 minutes after disembarking, couldn't take off due to mechanical problems and was canceled, so the plane came back to the terminal and everyone had to get off. Of course, by the time we took off, there were (we learned later) a total of 5 baggage handlers working the whole airport (it was after midnight local time), so we were on the plane for another 90 minutes waiting for the previous luggage to be unloaded and ours put on. *sigh* Did finally get into Avoca after 4am. Bleah.
The rest of the holiday went wonderfully, though. Got some great shopping in, saw all my local relatives, including all my siblings (we were all home for the first time in years!), and had the usual amazing assortment of our traditional Christmas foods (mushroom soup, babalki, fish, rice, lobster, nut and poppy roll, Italian Christmas cookies). The only downside was listening to all the conservative bullshit (Obama is responsible for all the bailouts, he's destroying the country, we're going to become Socialists.... *sigh*). For a while I was keeping track of a list of hilarious "facts" that I learned on this trip (did you know Kentucky doesn't have any mountains? :), but I tired of that.
Got some great gifts, too! A fancy Harmony universal remote, some DVDs, picture frames, a bread knife, a Dunder Mifflin hat, and more! My big present to myself was a Roomba 550 from Costco. So far, it's great! Wish the dustbin was bigger, but it does a good job vacuuming.
The other adventure was my brother Joe's flight back to Seattle. He was traveling through Newark, and his AVP->EWR flight was canceled! So he pre-checked-in for his EWR->SEA leg, and we drove him down to Newark. My flights back the next day were fine; just a 30 minute delay.
Had a great, great New Year's, doing my usual low-key walk to the Space Needle to watch the fireworks. As I expected, they more than made up for last year's malfunctions and provided a world-class show. It was one of the best fireworks shows I've seen in some time, in fact.
The one black spot was that I did get back to some... worrying news at work. They were making all of PD take Jan 2 off as PTO. This has never been a good sign, in my experience, so I suddenly became a bit concerned about how we were doing as a company. I talked to our financial guy, and he explained the reasoning behind it. I mostly believe him, and I'm less worried than I was, but I'll be keeping my eyes open a bit wider.
Still, I am enjoying my 4-day weekend; don't get one of those everyday. I'm using it to unpack, do washes, clean up the apartment, and catch up on many, many overdue chores. I also want to get a start on my goals for 2009 (will be posting about that tomorrow).
But, I am home safe, and will be back to normal before long.