I spent most of today practicing one of my more challenging skills: waiting.

The trouble began Saturday night with my flight from Boston to Cincinnati. An unexpected traffic backup slowed the subway-to-airport shuttle bus at Logan to a crawl. I arrived at the ticketing counter some 28 minutes prior to departure. I elected to use the automated self check-in terminal. I normally hate these kinds of contraptions, but unlike those tacky and cumbersome automated check-OUTs at the grocery store, this terminal does not play obnoxiously loud recorded messages at the user. I will not give it any more credit for convenience, though, because after putting me through the usual rigamarole—”Hello, SCOTT D JOHNSTON…” and “touch OK to check in”—it gave me an error screen stating that the privilege of using electronic check-in is unavailable closer than thirty minutes to departure. But twenty-eight minutes? I would have to see an agent about that. As it turns out, the agent merely wanted to share some helpful travel advice (“I don’t understand why YOU PEOPLE always show up so late!”) and have me sign a form waiving my right to baggage delivery in the unlikely event that my bag should take more than a half-hour in its leisurely trip from the check-in to the aircraft.

Next was the security line. As usual, walking through the metal detector prompted the alarm cry of “Hold it. MALE ASSIST!” Followed shortly by the beeping wand treatment, the “limited pat-down” of my belt-line (forgive me for wearing belts with metal buckles!), and the X-raying of my shoes. Sitting on the bench, I tapped my shoeless feet helplessly as the terminal’s public address system echoed “Passenger Scott Johnston, please report to Gate 29 for immediate departure.” Incredibly, I made it on the plane, with tied shoes no less, though the gate agent gave me the evil eye. I swear.

After a half-hour of fruitless waiting by the baggage carousel in Cincinnati, I consulted a man with a walkie-talkie. He radioed his invisible friends below the carousel, who informed me by proxy that I’d better consult Delta Air Lines’ Baggage Services.

Imagine my joy when I learned that my bag was still in Boston, not for any fault of mine, but for a “baggage loader break-down!” My mind was briefly filled with images of a forlorn airport worker who finally lost his mind, throwing bags left and right, as a child throws toys in a tantrum. Reality struck once again, as of course a “baggage loader” is no longer a job, but a machine. A machine perhaps more temperamental than the most dissatisfied hourly workers it replaced.

My bag would arrive on the 10:30pm flight, and the gate agent happily offered to have it delivered. Well, why not? The delivery was to occur between 8 AM and noon Sunday.

By noontime Sunday, without clothes or a toothbrush, I grew suspicious. Delta Baggage Services has a toll-free number that consistently responds with a busy signal. I called the domestic flight booking line, and a salesperson immediately answered. They told me to keep trying the busy number. I entered my assigned number into the Delta web site for tracking delayed baggage. It actually worked: my bag had been given to “Capitol Express” trucking (which apparently bears no relation to Washington, DC). I called the Capitol Express dispatcher in Kentucky, who told me that I would have my bag by 4 or 5 PM, for sure.

At about 6 PM, I called Capitol Express again. A different dispatcher confirmed that it was still out for delivery, but in lieu of offering a new time, he suggested that mine would be “one of the first” to be delivered when the truck reached the East Side.

My bag arrived around 10 PM, a mere 26 hours after I did. I wonder if they drove it all the way from Boston. Or maybe they took it for a stroll in the Capitol. Let the vacation begin!

December 21, 2003 December 21, 2003 archives by Scott No Comments

“Hey furture prisioner of MIT, Kamans !!! CIA !!! Arrested….”
Sometimes I get some pretty strange e-mail. I don’t understand this one at all. But it is absolutely hilarious.

December 13, 2003 December 13, 2003 archives by Scott No Comments

My beloved boat, The Couchamaran, makes its first cameo appearance in a comic strip! Check out the inside back cover of the latest (Fall 2003) issue of VooDoo Magazine.

December 12, 2003 December 12, 2003 archives by Scott No Comments

None of the CAD software I’ve ever used for PC board layout has correctly listed the length of a 14-pin DIP package, which I measure to be about 0.760″. Weird.

December 11, 2003 December 11, 2003 archives by Scott No Comments

There is nothing like the sharp smell of boiling sulfuric acid. As I write this, John is running the first piece through our new home aluminum anodizing shop. A scrap of metal hangs on a titanium wire in a bubbling pot of H2SO4 while a lead cathode, clipped to a ghetto battery charger, gives off its bubbles of hydrogen fizz. Guess I should go to bed and hope that nothing bad happens.

December 10, 2003 December 10, 2003 archives by Scott No Comments

Today’s daily wisdom:
“Get outta da fuckin’ road, you fuckin’ …” (overheard during morning commute)

Check out these incredible pictures of Iraqi militants shooting missiles at a DHL cargo plane on November 22. Then read this article about the French photojournalist who was there.

December 9, 2003 December 9, 2003 archives by Scott No Comments

I dropped off a roll of slide film at Boston Photo Imaging this morning. Now, at work, I find my thoughts consumed by speculation over how the pictures will turn out. I always have this problem.

December 8, 2003 December 8, 2003 archives by Scott No Comments

Snowfall totals available here. Lots of snow!

December 7, 2003 December 7, 2003 archives by Scott No Comments