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