Monday, July 10, 2017

Some Late Night Notes from Dallas, Texas ...


So here I am in Texas for the first time since Nov. 26 - 27, 1981 (excluding a brief change of flight at DFW back in 1988 or thereabouts).

I didn't expect to be able to post an entry -- but the hotel (the Hilton Dallas Lincoln Centre) here on the north side of Dallas has free Wi-Fi.

View of the National Mall taking off from National Airport, Washington, D.C., 8:23PM July 9, 2017.

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It is quarter to midnight (Central time) as I start this entry, and I need to be up by 6AM in order to be at the workshop by 730AM. It starts at 8AM but there is a breakfast that I'd like to snag. Of note, I brought my alarm clock so that I can be sure of waking up on time (although in my three other workshops that I've attended this year, I've gotten up in time for all of them on both days (well, except for one instance on a second day)).

I also brought two of my smaller stuffed animals -- baby hippo Aurora and a little guy that I think is some sort of spider monkey. I found him in Jones Point Park back on Oct. 26, 2014 as I noted in this entry.

The flight would have been fine despite leaving 90 minutes late except for a shrieking 2-year old boy seated a few rows ahead of me.

It was agony. That shrieking causes me physical pain.

Another view of the National Mall taking off from National Airport, Washington, D.C., 8:23PM July 9, 2017.

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He seemed to be having some genuine problem but his young parents did nothing to stop him and his periodic shrieks punctuated the otherwise interesting serenity of a dusk-into-darkness flight from Washington, D.C., to Dallas, Texas on a July night.

It was just awful and I hate that parents bring their babies and small children on hours-long commercial flights, but I also know that there isn't much of a solution to it short of having dedicated flights for families with young children. Americans seem extra bad at raising screaming young children, but maybe I'm wrong.

Ascending over Northern Virginia, 8:38PM July 9, 2017.

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I do know I wanted to throw the 2-year old out of the jet somewhere over Kentucky or Tennessee, but my supervisor -- who is the mother of a 2-year old and soon to have another baby -- suggested the more practical and non-death penalty-inducing action of just getting some Bose earphones and plugging them into the jack in front of the seat and listen to music.

Oh, yes, I was able to get a window seat. Well, to be clear, I paid for one but when I got to the airport and checked in, I had the option of changing seats to another window seat for free -- and on the "F" (right) side, which I try to get for flights out of DCA in case we do the upriver takeoff (which we did). That seat was not over the wing -- and it had basically two windows whereas the one I had had only one that was out of reach (i.e., not located right next to the seat).

The jet was an A321 and that's how they are designed.

My supervisor ended up sitting in that one just by seat assignment chance after I gave it up.

Dusk jet view over Kentucky, 9:22PM CDT, July 9, 2017.

There was an anvil-headed thunderstorm located maybe 100 miles to the northwest from this point -- perhaps somewhere over Indiana.

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Flying to the southwest at 500 to 600mph, the Sun hovered on the horizon for quite some time -- and it wasn't even pitch dark at 30,000 feet as we started the descent into DFW over northeastern Texas. We also went right over that Land Between the Lakes on the Tennessee - Kentucky border. That area has a fairly distinctive layout / shape.

The jet encountered a cluster of thunderstorms moving south out of Oklahoma and had to dodge between them, which was fascinating to watch in the not-quite-total-darkness -- and it got a bit bumpy for a bit.

We flew into DFW at night over the Dallas/Fort Worth area -- lovely to see although I really would not want to live here -- and took a taxi to this hotel. For the two of us, it cost $45 plus tip. And the taxi driver had lost his toll ticket to get out of the airport. (I caught a few glimpses of the nighttime illuminated Dallas skyline in the distance from the taxi.)

The hotel here seems self-contained. The televisions in the lobby were, of course, tuned either to Fox News Channel or ESPN, but I'm not going to get annoyed by that. When in Rome and all that ...

I'm on the 14th floor of this hotel. I can't tell what direction I'm looking. I have the TV on -- tuned to a PBS channel showing British sitcoms including the old standby "Are You Being Served?"

Very blurry night view of the Dallas area descending into Dallas / Fort Worth Int'l Airport 9:47PM July 9, 2017.

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OK, that's all I want to write. Below is the portion of the Texas entry I had already composed but didn't get a chance to post.

My late stepfather Ray was in the Army and stationed at Fort Hood from January 1980 to November 1981 -- and my mom and he lived over the course of that time variously in Copperas Cove and Killeen including a trailer park near the Killeen Airport. I was 10 and 11 years old and went back and forth between my dad and grandparents in New Jersey and my mom, who prior to that had lived in SHAPE, Belgium from Jan. 1976 - Dec. 1979, during nearly all of which time I lived with my dad and grandparents in Long Branch, N.J.

Although I was only in Texas for a brief period to include the hellaciously hot summer of 1980 and January - November 1981 excluding May - August (when I went back to New Jersey for the summer), it had a somewhat outsized influence on my life.

There was the development of a keen interest in meteorology and then the obligatory fundamentalist religious phase, although we were Seventh Day Adventists -- a sort of anti-fundamentalist fundamentalist sect -- and back then, being "born again" didn't also define your politics as hard right, at least not nearly to the extent it does today. (Today, I'm just back to being a fallen Catholic.)

Yours truly in the Hilton Lincoln Dallas Centre hotel, Dallas, Texas, 11:15PM July 9, 2017.

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We left Texas on my 12th birthday -- Nov. 26th, 1981 -- and began our Maryland life (and what would eventually lead to my D.C. life) three days later (on the day actress Natalie Wood drowned). We drove back to Maryland, stopping for one night in Dallas, where we had dinner atop Reunion Tower in the revolving restaurant then called the Antares and visiting the WFAA-TV studio to meet TV weatherman Troy Dungan (who retired about 10 years ago). He gave me two of his signature bowties that folks would send him and he kept in a small box.

I recall we stayed overnight in Jackson, Tenn., and Roanoke, Va., before arriving in Baltimore, but that's another story.

OK, that's all for now. My next entry will likely be after I have returned home (i.e., on Wednesday),

--Regulus

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