This is the last in what became a 4 part series on my recent business trip to Indiana. If you haven’t read the last few entries, start back at “Greetings from Indiana” so you’re not totally lost.

Well, I write this to you from the comfort of my Yankee Candle laced house. As anticipated, I didn’t bother to set my alarm and woke up on my own accord, and am now “working” from home.

The rest of the night is a bit of a blur. I managed to fall asleep on the floor shortly after stopping that last novel of a blog entry. I was soon woken up to board the plane, at which time I fell asleep again until we landed. After a long hike across the economy parking lot at 3:30am, and probably the fastest trip from the airport to home, I found my way to my bed at 4am.

In the interest of trying to make the best of the situation, I figured I would enlighten everyone by posting “What did I learn last night?”

  • Clouds are evil. All of that crap about nice puffy white clouds being beautiful is a farce, invented solely to hide the true face of evil. Ever fly through a cloud? Ugh.
  • Never fly with someone who is more comfortable than you are in the air. One would think it would be reassuring to be with someone with confidence. It’s not. Anyone with confidence in the air should be not only avoided at all costs, but should be viewed as a danger to society.
  • Pittsburgh shuts down at 10:30pm. If you ever have to fly through Pittsburgh, bring your own food.
  • Pittsburgh also has no power outlets. If you ever have to fly through Pittsburgh, bring a generator.
  • After 1am, Pittsburgh airport is eerily similar the mall in Dawn of the Dead. I’m not making that one up, maybe it was all the closed stores, but I had some serious flashbacks to the recent remake of that movie.
  • In fact, just try not to fly through Pittsburgh ever.
  • Apparently, a plane can be struck by lightning and continue to fly. While this is somewhat comforting knowledge, I never plan on getting in a plane again, so it makes little difference to me.
  • Hindsight is 20/20. You’ll notice at the onset of this 4 entry epic that the only reason I was on this flight was because I got finished early at work. By all rights, I wasn’t even supposed to be on that flight…

In a continuation of yesterday’s epic journey from Indiana to Philadelphia (you might want to start a few entries back at “Greetings from Indiana”), I write this entry sitting on the floor of the Pittsburgh airport, outside the men’s room, near the only power outlet I can find. I say “yesterday’s” trip as it is now 12:15am. A word of warning, as I will not be moving from this spot in the foreseeable future, you may want to get comfortable, perhaps grab a snack, since I sense I’ll be rambling on about whatever may cross my mind in an effort to hold on to my fleeting sanity.

We managed to make it from Indiana to Pittsburgh intact; however I can honestly say it was the hands down worst flying experience of my life (to be potentially topped in an indefinite amount of time when I finally board my flight to Philly). Again finding myself in a propeller plane, we were informed that it may be a “bumpy flight” due to the storms, where “bumpy” is pilot-speak for “scary as hell.” Despite claims to fly around the storms, repeated removal of my head from between my knees only resulted in me witnessing fire and brimstone raining down from the heavens above.

No wait, let me start over. I’m on this fantastic journey with a coworker named Brian. Brian is a former Major in the Air Force, serving a solid 15 years and logging over 5000 hours in the air.

I am a whiny, fragile computer programmer, barely remembering what I was doing 15 years ago and logging a cool 15 hours in the air.

Brian used to be a navigator on B-52 bombers. By navigator, I mean he used to drop stuff… bombs, people, tanks, and a 1200 lb. vibrator about which I followed my better judgment in not asking for clarification.

I defecate myself upon the slightest turbulence. Sorry for the graphic imagery, but bear with me, it’s been a long day.

So amidst the apocalyptic tsunami in which we found ourselves, Brian turns to me and declares triumphantly, “This is so cool.” Upon focusing my attention on the alarmingly close lightning bolts, he proceeds to tell me he has been struck by lightning while flying 8 times.

Eight times.

I’ve often wondered if I will ever have a “life changing event.” I don’t think I really need one, I’m pretty happy with how things are now and I don’t see a need to jumpstart myself into any drastic changes. To me, being struck by lightning while in a plane qualifies as a life changing event. And the first of said changes is to adopt a policy of never again coming within 500 yards of an airplane. This psychopath not only decided to tempt fate again, but upon repeated signs from the powers that be continued to partake in airborne activities.

Where was I? Oh ya, so we survived, ending up in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh, derived from the words “Pit” meaning “pit” and “tsburgh” meanng “of hell.” White-knuckled (and white-faced as well), I race over to my next gate. This is at about 10pm. The flight was supposed to leave at 10:20. After quick call to Meg to tell her I’m alive in Pittsburgh, I found myself pacing in an attempt to get blood flowing to my extremities.

Jay’s Life Sucks, Take 1 – Broken plane. There was an issue with the air conditioning exhaust, which was to take an hour to fix. I do the math. That equates to a 5 minute call to Meg to tell her I’ll be late (later than the original 1am expected arrival at home) and 55 minutes to bitch and moan. And bitch and moan I did, let me tell you. In the middle of my rant, they announce they have a new plane for us. We pick up all of our belongings we “may have brought with us” (something about that phrase bothers me) and like a herd of cattle, we graze down a few gates.

Jay’s Life Sucks, Take 2 – Philly is closed. Due to thunderstorms, we can’t leave because we have no place to land. It’s roughly 11pm now. I don’t know how many people have been in the Pittsburgh airport, but it’s quite a site to behold. I repeatedly accidentally referred to it as a mall. There are a ton of brand name stores, including Victoria’s Secret, GNC, and Staples. I don’t imagine I’ll ever understand why there is a need for a Victoria’s Secret in the airport. Regardless, there is also a food court. Everything from McDonald’s to TGIFridays, Ben and Jerry’s to Wok and Roll.

ALL FRIGGIN CLOSED.

The airport is booming with people. It honestly looked much earlier than 11pm with the amount of people that were around. And for some reason, the airport food court shuts down at 10:30. So now I am here, frustrated, tired, and worst of all, hungry. In a fortunate turn of events, I happen to have two protein bars that I will have to cower into a corner and consume lest I be mobbed by the gang of fellow hungry, pissed off Philadelphians. Also somewhere in this timeframe, we moved to another gate. Moo.

This takes our story to about midnight. By this point, I’ve resolved myself to going into work late. The time I arrive at work is proportional to the amount of time I spend in this godforsaken airport. It originally started at getting in at 10, then it moved to 11, now I’m not even planning on setting my alarm and will arrive when I’m good and damn ready, if at all. Something about being across the state of Pennsylvania at 1am screams sick day.

The flight attendant guy picks up the phone again to address us. Formerly greeted by anticipated and hopeful passengers, he now cowardly lifts the receiver to his mouth in anticipation of the boos and hisses he is about to receive for his news. I tried to start a “You suck” chant, but it didn’t take. Nevertheless, this man is now the most hated man in the airport, and I believe he honestly fears for his life.

As a side note, one of the other guys on my flight just joined me. We are starting a small clan of computer dorks that hang out outside the men’s room in order to get power. We huddle over the laptop screens as if drawing heat and light from them. Which we are, since they dimmed the lights an hour ago. No joke. We have gotten a few goofy looks from our fellow, would-be passengers, but joke’s on them, I’m not bored.

As another side note, my computer just informed me there may be a wireless network in the airport. When I finish this, or at least stop to take a break and get feeling back in my legs, I’ll have to do some recon in an attempt to post the trials and tribulations of my night in real time. Not like real time would matter, since everyone else is asleep in their beds right now. I hate you all.

Where was I? Better question, why are you still reading this? Sorry, I went off on a bit of a tangent there. Again, bear with me, it’s been a long ass day.

Oh ya, so the flight attendant gets on the speaker. Turns out, the storm passed and Philly is open again.

Jay’s Life Sucks, Take 3 – Now Pittsburgh is closed. I wish I was kidding. I look outside, the fire and brimstone we had passed through earlier has caught up to us and is now screwing with my life again. This takes our hero to 12:45.

Jay’s Life Sucks, Take 4 – Pittsburgh is still closed, but even if it opens, we no longer have a crew for the plane. So we have to wait at least another 90 minutes for a crew to show up. In doing so, they move us to yet another gate (that’s number 4 for those of you keeping track at home), which is where I sit now, having found the only other power outlet in all of the Pittsburgh airport. It’s 1am. People are attempting to sleep, sitting up, laying on someone else, or just flat out on the ground. I too am going to attempt to sleep, so I’ll finish up this story at a later time.

… or “I’m the Geek – Volume 2”

Still trapped in the cultural and social hotspot of America that is Fort Wayne, Indiana (see today’s other entry), I figured I would comment on recent events that have once again caused me to wonder how I am the one labeled as the geek.

I have quite a bit of computer stuff. A certain bridesmaid who likes to work with dead people and the mother of a certain flower girl had their share of comments on the absurdity of me owning so much computer stuff. To a certain extent I agree. On the other hand, it’s just what I’m into, so I don’t see the issue. The aforementioned hecklers, as I’m sure many women reading this would agree, don’t seem to understand the need for so much equipment.

Two words for all of you: Coach bags.

Meg has recently expressed an interest in purchasing one of these seemingly ordinary, yet undoubtedly magically enchanted by some otherworldly force, bags. She’s shown me a few of them.

It’s a bag.

It’s a bag with a little label that says “Coach.”

And above all, it’s an expensive bag.

Yet for some reason, these bags possess a quality that men cannot see. We just cannot comprehend what makes these bags so desirable. Perhaps, we lack the mental capacity to comprehend the divine nature of these bags. Maybe they emit a hormone that men do not possess the receptors to notice. Half the time, I can’t even tell a Coach bag from any other purse.

Even more disheartening is trying to figure out how these bags achieved the mystical power they command through leather and buckle. Who first saw a Coach bag and said “I’d pay $400 for that!” Who heard that and then said, “From here on out, I shall charge $400 for all of them.” How does a brand name become a brand name? If there are any marketing majors out there that can shed some light on this, I’d be most appreciative.

Perhaps Coach bags are the yang to the yin that is men’s obsession with electrical gadgets. Yet somehow, if this dichotomy does in fact exist, the net result is still that I am “the geek”, and the woman counterpart is “in style.”

Last night, I flew out to Indiana for a business trip. My first adventure on a propeller plane, it served to remind me why I am a firm believer in the concept that had God wanted me to fly, I’d have been born with wings. The work stuff went extremely well, and not only do I get to go home a night early, but I am actually writing this entry from the airport. As a goof I figured I’d power up my laptop and see if they had a wireless network. Sure enough, “Fort Wayne Airport” appeared in the list of available networks. One registration page, promising not to do anything evil, and I’m in. The real paradox is that I have a ton of homework I should be doing right now, but I am oddly compelled to utilize this Internet access simply because I have it. Pavlov would be proud, I just feel wrong not using an Internet connection in a strange place. As I sit here in the bar, drinking myself to the point where turbulence becomes bearable, I figured I’d clue everyone in to the differences between Meg’s business trips and mine.

One of the differences in living with Meg versus living alone is what happens when one of us isn’t home. Tonight, I’ll get home to find the house almost exactly as I had left it. The changes will likely be due to Meg cleaning or straightening up something. The house will linger with the aroma of an overpriced Yankee candle. Ahh, home… just three white-knuckled hours away.

Meg also went away on business last week. Sunday night found me alone, superficially enjoying the place to myself while harboring an unacknowledged loneliness. However, Meg’s arrival was not met with the same olfactory overload my own return will likely experience. Rather, Meg arrived home to the proverbial bull in a china shop. The house had been extremely hot last week, so I spent a night on the couch on the less brutal second floor. Rather than the typical coffee table magazine, Meg found an alarm clock, remnants of a bowl of cereal, a blanket, and a pillow (and absolutely no stuffed bears, no matter what Meg would have you think).

The rest of the house didn’t fare much better. The kitchen, while clean, was cluttered with drying tupperware, ready for next morning’s preparation of my lunch feast (I’m up to eating 5 meals a day at work). I didn’t think it was possible, but there were actually more scattered water glasses than days Meg was gone; the mathematics of how this happened are mind-boggling.

The moral of this story is three-fold. The first is to give credit to Meg for putting up with my lazy ass. To the women readers, which likely includes a number of soon to be married knotties (and again, I shall comment on you folk very soon), have patience. We don’t mean to be this difficult to live with. To all the single guys out there, ranging from soon to be married to taking his sweet ass time getting engaged… well, you’ll have to e-mail me to find out how I get away with all this.

Lovely, just found out my flight is delayed 40 minutes. Looks like the forecast calls for thunderstorms between Indiana and my arrival in Pittsburgh as well. Time to switch from beer to something stronger…

Like so many other nights, I stopped at the gym after work and thus arrived home after Meg. As it had been a good 2 hours since I had last eaten, I made my customary bee-line to the kitchen, briefly glancing over to acknowledge Meg’s presence, who was on the couch in the living room. Rather than checking the day’s events on theknot.com, I found her watching TV. But she wasn’t watching the news or Real World or anything, well, normal. She was watching a wedding video. Part of me wanted to believe that it was someone she knew; however the consensus of the monkeys in my head was that this was some random couple’s video.

Luckily, seeing the fear in my eyes she quickly pointed out that it was a demo DVD from a videographer. My initial paranoia as to Meg’s wedding obsession level subsiding, I found myself somewhat interested in the DVD. On one hand, the geek in me wanted to examine the production value, sound, video, etc. (which incidentally was surprisingly good). However, another part of me was intrigued to watch the antics of these random people. I figured at bare minimum, watching a bunch of drunk people dance is always funny.

So I indulged for a while. In the midst of a mental calculation of the cost of the videographer against the number of times we’ll actually watch the video (more on this in a later blog, but this is definitely a topic I will be revisiting), we arrived at the introduction (or as my wedding-inept self put it, the “announcement”) of the bride and the groom. A concept that I don’t believe I’ll ever fully understand, I do see the room for creativity and the introduction as a way to express the personality of the couple. A friend of mine came out to the Star Wars theme. That’s a cool idea, and if you know the couple, it works very well.

However, this particular wedding was a bit… how do I put this? Trashy. As bridesmaid after bridesmaid, or “BM” as you knotties would put it (more on you people in a later blog too, trust me), bounced their way into their room and out of their dresses, we couldn’t help but laugh. Again, it’s one thing to have fun. It’s another to have flesh bubbling out of every opening in the dress.

The highlight of the introduction, of course, was the bride and the groom.

I’m a WWE fan. I’ll admit it. Lucas and I have joked about how the introduction would be funny if set to a WWE background. For Lucas and me, the joking stopped there.

However, for this couple, the temptation was apparently too much. For those that can appreciate it, they were introduced to Rick Flair’s entrance music. Every three steps the groom stopped to give a hearty “WHOO” to the rest of the guests. He then proceeded to circle the room, giving high-fives to all of the guests and nearly scaring the poor grandmother into an early grave. This was soon followed by the Hulk Hogan “listen to the crowd” ear motion to all four sides of the dance floor (those that watch WWE know what I mean and to those that don’t, it looks as absurd as I’m sure you are imagining). While this gallivanting was taking place, the bride found her way to the center of the dance floor and proceeded to flex for the guests, following suit with the bridesmaids and nearly spilling out of her dress. Again, Hulk Hogan made an appearance as she mimicked the classic three Hogan poses (come on, you know what they are). All the while, the groom is still running around like he just won the Superbowl.

And these people decided that it would be ok for the videographer to show this to all of his potential customers.

There’s actually more to this wedding. The garter ritual was especially trashy, but that’ll have to wait for another blog entry (I’ll try to get to it soon because I know all of the monkeys in my head are scrambling to replace that image with thoughts of getting cavities filled, memories of working at HP, and the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard.).