Thursday, December 27, 2012

Flying home

We left the farm at noon, I got to the airport and checked in by 1:00, flight was supposed to leave at 3:17.

Supposed to.

Snow, winds, weather delays. We actually boarded the plane at 8pm, which is when I was supposed to be arriving in Norfolk. Never fear, though, there's a 10pm flight from Philly to Norfolk; I should still be able to make it.

So we de-ice. And wait. The controllers can send off one plane per two minutes per runway, and we have to wait for a slot. Eventually we wait long enough that we have to file a new flight plan. Then we've waited long enough that we have to go de-ice again. Then we wait some more, until we need to refuel. Then we have to wait our turn for the fuel truck. Then of course we need to de-ice again.

Finally, at 12:45am, we take off. Arrive at Philly at 2:15. Everyone wants to get their next flight booked and there's only one gate agent stuck with dealing with us; it's 3am by the time I get that done. No point in taking a cab to a hotel, to get checked in at 4am, when the first flight in the morning leaves at 7.55am and I might be able to get a standby on it. I elect to stay in the airport. Although there were half a dozen people who were trying to leave Toronto on Wednesday night to get to Philly and then England and Ireland; when they missed their connections, they found they'd have to stay in Philly all day Thursday, and wouldn't be able to get to Manchester and Dublin until Friday night. In comparison, I'm not so bad off.

Next time I stay overnight in an airport, I'll look for a spot that doesn't have an ad blaring at me, every fifteen minutes, about how wonderful Philly Airport is and how much I'll enjoy the shops and attractions.

Around 7am I head for the gate. The 7.55 flight is cancelled. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not, but your luggage is set for the flight you're confirmed for, and you have to fly with your luggage; if you go standby, we don't have time to move it. Why didn't the agent tell me that yesterday? Don't know, but that's the way it is. At least I manage to move my confirmed flight from the 2pm to the noon flight.

The noon flight boards around 1pm, then has to refuel. We finally take off around 2pm. Arrive Norfolk 3pm. Collect my bag--which was already at the luggage office when I got there, despite that "you have to fly with your bag" line--and drive to work, arriving at 4pm to get a couple hours in before end of day.

Fun times. But I made it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


On Sunday morning we all bid Mum goodbye, then took a cab to the airport and picked up the rental car. The drive from Montreal to Toronto was no difficulty, except that bits of salt scum would kick up from the road and form a crust on the windshield; I had to keep hitting the "wiper spray" every few minutes for about a hundred miles, until the road dried a bit.
Kelly and Alun and their kids were there; Jenn and John and baby Ella arrived midday Christmas. In the meantime we went to Erin and did a few minutes of shopping; went to a cidery for lunch; and visited the horses.

Josh won Christmas by getting me a pith helmet; Gwen came close, with a set of miniature swords for skewering hors d'oeuvres. Or maybe Gwen won, because she got Diana a pair of opal earrings to match the opal necklace we got in Cairns; there was much oohing and aahing over those.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Friday: Josh and I met David Bush, our financial guy, in the morning; I've exchanged emails with him for years, but this is the first time we've met. Diana and Gwen picked up Josh and I, and we went to Jan and Sally's farm in Sutton. Sally is a sweetheart; we she saw us pull in, she flew down the stairs to us meet us.
She said "if I needed to call a relative for help, the one I know I can most rely on is Joshua."

After driving back into the city--through rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow--and having tea, Josh and Gwen went out and made a snowman, which was actually a snow bear; Gwen made a snow angel; and I' pretty sure snowballs got exchanged. Evening was for reading in the sitting room and library.

Saturday: It snowed in the night, and Josh had unearthed an old wooden sled from the basement, so we went up Montreal mount to do a little sledding. The wind was quite brisk, so we stopped at Maison Smith to get me a balaclava, and everyone else hot chocolate. In the afternoon we went to the Atwater Market; after that we went to the Traditional Family Bowling Match, which I'd never heard of but apparently it's something the Harrington clan has been doing for the last couple of years; even those who're well past bowling age showed up and socialized. Aunt Ann, Aunt Joan, Suzie and her kids, Conrad, Margo, plus another twenty or more.

Followed that with a visit to the Cathedral of Notre Dame for a show about the history of the cathedral, then to the restaurant  Bonaparte for dinner, then home again.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


We landed at Montreal, sailed through Immigration and Customs, and took a cab to Mum's house on Trafalgar. A few inches of snow on the ground, and another eight inches expected tonight. This will be Gwen's first white Christmas; of course Christmas is midsummer for Australians.

We visited with Mum first; she's physically frailer than the last time I was here, but still alert and chatty, even though the conversation doesn't connect to anything.

Sevda made dinner for us, starting with a soup of creamed spinach and chicken broth with pine nuts; field greens salad, then Vietnamese curried chicken breast, coconut rice with raisins, and green beans; followed by custard mille feuilles for me and a rich buche de Noel for those who can have chocolate.

After dinner, Josh and Gwen went for a walk in the snow, then admired some of the things in the house; Gwen says many items remind her of things her grandmother had in Melbourne. I saw a shadowbox with my father in law's medals, which I'll get a better look at tomorrow.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

At Mom and Dad's

On Friday evening we all (me, Diana, Josh, Gwen, Zoe) piled into the car and drove up to the mountains, arriving around midnight. Mom and Dad, Tabitha and Chris (and Kathleen, Emma, Luke) and James and Heather (and Ella and Franklin) were there.

On Saturday we set off to find a Christmas tree. There were some trees of the right size in the east field; that is, there were some trees in the east field, and some years ago they were the right size. They seem to have grown a bit in the meantime. So since we were nearly to Reva and Vinson's, we marched up the hill and visited them. There was a round of DeBoe Rules Baseball, in which I was third base for a while--that's "third base" rather than "third baseman." First base was a fence post and second base was the old outhouse; I have no idea how I was selected to be third...
In the afternoon, a tree was actually found, cut, and dragged home. It was ten feet tall and eight feet across, and took up most of the width of the great room. "It didn't look that big, outside" was a recurring comment. But better to be a big, memorable tree than a boring one.
Evening was Josh's birthday party. Josh had suggested a birthday salad rather than a birthday cake--what a change for our carnivore over the past couple of years!--but what he got was cake.

Sunday was church, a bit of backyard football, and a couple of hands of Skip Bo, with Gwen, Josh, Tab, Chris, Mom and me. Important note while playing SkipBo: "That's not cheating, that's just an idiosyncratic local interpretation of the rules."

I drive home on Monday, in Dad's (now "Dad's and my") Oldmobile Aurora. Diana Gwen and Josh will return Tuesday, via Virginia Tech, where Gwen will interview for their grad school.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A secret of Game-Fu

From Eric S Raymond : "when in doubt, play to maximize the breadth of your option tree", and "It looked like I was getting lucky; what I was actually doing was maximizing the number of possible ways I could get lucky." As is noted in the comments on that post, this strategy also applies to life.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Gwen arrives!

Gwen arrived this evening. Josh had thirty roses for her--some at the airport, some at the hotel. They'll spend the weekend in DC and Fredericksburg, seeing some of their DC area friends as well as the National Cathedral and Dunbarton Oaks, then on Monday go to Newark, Delaware for Gwen to interview at the U of Delaware grad school.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

December 6th

On this day:

  • 1240: Kiev falls to the Mongols
  • 1768: first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica is published
  • 1865: Slavery banned in the US by the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment (not the Emancipation Proclamation)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


From Machiavelli and State Power:

We cannot abide State kidnapping, just because they call it the draft. We cannot abide the incarceration of people who ingest the wrong substances, just because they call it the war on drugs. We cannot abide theft just because they call it taxation. And we cannot abide mass murder just because they call it foreign policy.
Murray Rothbard, who earned his Ph.D. from this very institution in 1956 and went on to become known as Mr. Libertarian, said that you could discover the libertarian position on any issue by imagining a criminal gang carrying out the action in question.
Rockwell's thesis is that Machiavelli said that a prince should be prepared and willing to take immoral actions to retain power; the libertarian's response is that what is immoral for an individual doesn't change just because that individual is a representative of the State.

Second Amendment

I've often thought that while I should, of course, have the right to any weapon I can buy, I'm not so sure that the guy down the street should be allowed to carry anything more than a plastic butter knife, non-serrated. That leads to the idea that if people are to have access to guns, perhaps there should be some requirement that they have some training. Larry Correia, however, points out that states with a training requirement are no safer than states with no requirement whatsoever. Mandatory training sounds like it would make things safer, but it doesn't. And policy needs to be set on the basis of what really works, not what sounds like it would work.