Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Threat Level is Orange

Hans is driving down from Fairbanks to fetch me; he called this morning from Cantwell, where there was an extraordinary amount of background noise. Normally when we go through Cantwell on our way to and from the Alaska Press Club conference, we gas up at Cantwell, and it's dead quiet. (There was one exception, when a blizzard had created near-whiteout conditions. That was the time we got mooned by some impatient immortals.) This year, however, there's apparently some sort of snowmachine happening, and the place that Hans called from had all kinds of laughter and conversation and bustle in the background.

There's a peek of sunshine coming through, which dovetails with the weather prediction last night, that the wind would shift for a while in the late morning and then come back straight from the volcano to Anchorage. However, my flight isn't scheduled until something like 1 pm, by which time who knows what will happen. I still haven't been able to get through to the airport to take a flight credit/change, whathaveyou. I've been using my boarding pass from yesterday as a bookmark. Keeps it functional.

Had a great but extremely pricey dinner at the Corsair restaurant last night, in the basement of this building. It was odd, eating alone, just sitting there listening to the background music, being annoyed by a loud-voiced woman at a nearby table who kept up a stream of incredibly vacuous commentary on her dogs. The dogs sounded ill-trained, and the woman hardly let anybody else get a word in edgewise. It made me think about the kinds of conversations I have at dinner or in public places. I can see trading entertaining dog stories, but really, how long can one carry on a monologue about the dog running around the neighbors' yard and getting the dogcatcher called on them? Not really very witty anecdotes, and more repetition and just plain dullness than I thought was possible in real life. It was like a long, drawn-out,not very funny low-budget sitcom performed by a very bad actress off stage.

The conversations I hear in the Eagle there's all sorts of interesting topics and thoughtful discussion, witty jokes, anecdotes of reasonable complexity or pertinence. Politics, religion, science, construction, music, poetry, books, dance, body language, social interaction....I mean, even when the people I know talk about dogs, they at least have something sensible to say. This was just DULL. Still, I probably missed parts of the conversation, because the people who were with her seemed to have quieter voices, but still. For those of us forced to eavesdrop because of the sheer volume of a voice in a restaurant, it would be nice to listen to something intelligent. If somebody was talking like this in the Eagle, everyone would get up and move away from the speaker, or they'd be cut off because they would obviously have descended past the point of higher brain functionality and be unable to drive themselves home.

Ah, yes. Orange. The color of interminable waiting, of dull conversation, of travelers' disappointment and annoyance, of excruiciatingly stupid television programming. Of petty security bureaucracy.

I have to say, however, that the Era Aviation people have been pretty helpful through all this repeated attempts to get out of town. And the coffee cafe ladies were great.

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