This was not the time to break my over a decade long run of not flying American Airlines. I pretty much only fly United when doing most travel, but I had no choice for this trip from LA to Amarillo, Texas. It was a quick hop there and back in about 36 hours to take part in a rather important event – Andrew Chamblin (a friend and colleague who, you may know, died tragically in 2006) was being inducted into the Hall of Fame of his old High School and so I went along to take part in the ceremony with his family and some of his friends, and address (briefly) the assembled student body (it was such an honour to be asked to do so). It was a pleasure to be able to emphasize someone’s academic achievements in theoretical physics as a wonderful reason to be celebrated to balance out the impressive roster of achievers in other fields who are on their remarkable Wall of Fame – from an Astronaut to various sporting and business heroes. (Maybe a snap or two more will be uploaded:- see later for possible update. Clouds above from the plane are enlargeable with a click by the way.)
So yes, on the way back, one of my flights was on an MD-80 and so I was booked on a flight that got cancelled (like several hundred others – 900 today alone?) . This was not good, since I wanted to be back in LA to go to to Friday’s SCSS. Luckily, while waiting in the hugely long line at Dallas Fort Worth to be rebooked, I was able to call the airline directly and get rebooked and hence (sort of) jump the queue and get onto a flight leaving only a few hours later. Stepping out of the line over to a machine to automatically check myself onto this new flight was all I needed to do to complete the transaction and guarantee my seat. I walked about in disbelief for quite some time, since I could not believe that it could be so simple in the end. Hurrah for centralized computer systems!
I came prepared for thinking on this trip, so the delay turned out to suit me rather well. I’d brought two big physics books from the library that I wanted to read, and had worked through them on the way out on Wednesday. After working through all the interesting bits of the New York Times, I found a book store (I’m now very familiar with lots of the Dallas Fort Worth airport) and picked up a lovely book of short stories by Neil Gaiman and happily burned through about half of it while waiting. Later, while on the plane over to LAX, I got into that mood I love hitting – thinking various physics ideas while scribbling happily in my little notebook.
Sometimes, lots of flights and hanging around airports can be some of the best quality time I can find!
Some Related Asymptotia Posts (not exhaustive):