What a great weekend! We had an 8:00 flight on Friday night - we got to the airport around 6:00 so that we could get something to eat first. I had printed out our boarding passes before we left, and since we weren't checking bags we breezed through security and went to the Asian "bistro" in the C Concourse. We had eaten there before and it was . . . okay. This time is was . . . less than okay. Oh well.
We headed to the gate and found that the inbound flight was delayed due to weather. Standard refrain at Philly International. It was going to be about 20 minutes late, so Gary went to look around the shops. As I waited, the agent at the gate called my name to approach the counter. I went up and she said, "Would you like to put your name on the list to upgrade?"
[Hmmm . . . let me think about that.]
"Sure," I said. She put our names in and said, "It looks pretty good, I'll call you up when we're ready to confirm."
When Gary got back, I didn't mention anything. After a few minutes, the gate agent called both our names and we went up. Gary said, "I thought we were already checked in." I played dumb and she took our boarding passes, issued new tickets and handed them back. We went back to our seats and Gary looked at the ticket. "Did we just get upgraded?"
[Yes. Yes, we did.]
So fast forward about six hours and we were in our sporty Mustang muscle car headed to Pasadena. We got to the hotel around 12:30 a.m. and hit the sack. Saturday morning, we both slept in, then went down to breakfast around 9:30. There was an anime store in Pasadena that Gary wanted to visit, and we decided to walk. Unfortunately it was a bit farther than we thought, and when we finally got there, the store didn't open until noon. We grabbed some cold Starbuck's beverages and caught the bus back into the center of Old Pasadena. As we were walking back to the hotel, Mom called. Dad hadn't eaten anything and needed to get some food into him, so we came back to the hotel to meet them. Unfortunately, the restaurant wasn't open for lunch, so we walked a couple of blocks to a "Cheesecake Factory." Dad and Gary had burgers and Mom and I had salads. It was quite tasty.
After lunch we went back to the hotel to get the car and drive back to the anime store. Not a great selection. Gary bought a couple of things, then we took a little drive around Pasadena. We came back to the hotel to rest and get ready for the wedding. Mom called a little after three and said that Dad had forgotten his dress shirt so he was going to head out to look for one. We went down around 4:00 to drive to the church for the 4:30 wedding and found that the bride's parents were still there, so we figured we weren't going to be late. In fact, there was a limo driver out there looking for the Hagander party. We drove to the church and found street parking.
When we entered, there were no ushers, but some people were already seated. It was quite warm in the foyer, so we went to sit down. We ran into Ron, looking excellent in his tuxedo, and he said, "The good news is, we are going to be having a wedding and it is going to be today, but we don't know what time." We took our seats about 4:20 or so. Mom and Dad arrived a little after 4:30 - Dad couldn't find a shirt but he looked fine in a short sleeved green checked shirt and black trousers.
Word was that there was an issue with the hair-dresser, but everyone in the church was relaxed about it. After all, it wasn't like any of us had other plans for the evening. I said hello to Pam and Jacque, we waved to Selso, Jenny and the kids and to Paul, Jeff and Lucia. We saw Debbie and Harry and Claire as well.
The two guys behind me - friends of Mark's - began placing bets on when the wedding would start. By the time it did - around 5:40 - one of them had won $300!
When the wedding did start, it was lovely. I thought Mary looked just like Grace Kelly. The pastor made light of the delays and worked them into his sermon, talking about how marriage was not always perfect and did not always go as planned. Several relatives and friends read scriptures and Mary's brother Jarrett, sang a lovely solo.
After the service we all went outside and saw all the relatives. We said hello to Mur, who looked just lovely in a new dress. We drove back to the hotel, left the car there, and walked to a restaurant a couple of blocks away where the reception was being held. What fun. Great food, lots of laughter, dancing. Mary had obviously done a lot of work and the whole thing was just great. We walked back to the hotel with the Jeff, Lucia, Paul and the Luanavas around 11:00.
The next morning, we got up, showered, packed and went downstairs to meet Mom and Dad for breakfast. We saw Mary and her brother and some friends having breakfast - no sign of Mark as he was still sleeping. We had breakfast, saw Mom's Japan pictures and said goodbye to Ron, Pam, Jeff, Lucia and Paul. Off to the airport for our 1:00 p.m. flight.
We checked in - unfortunately we weren't as lucky about upgrades for this flight. It was a full flight and we were sitting well in the back, but aside from some minor turbulence, it wasn't too bad. We arrived back in Philly a little after 9:00 p.m. and were back home before 10:00. I cooked up some shrimp and we had Cajun-Shrimp over Romaine Lettuce with some Lemon-anchovy vinaigrette and then to bed.
[Hope that Mark and Mary are enjoying Maui!]
Had a lovely lunch with Eva and Diane yesterday. We went to "Tria" and had a selection of small nibbles: Gorgonzola-stuffed figs wrapped in Prosciutto, Roasted Almonds, Peppers tsuffed with Tapenade and Feta Cheese, Bruchettas with Tapenade and with Brie and Strawberries, and two grilled paninis. It was delightful!
Technology is an amazing thing. I got to the office today around 7:30 a.m. and watched live streaming video of the space shuttle landing at Edwards Airforce Base in California - they touched down a little after 8:00 a.m. E.D.T. It was still dark on the west coast when they touched down, but they had infrared cameras that were tracking the shuttle as it was coming in. Very cool.
[Welcome home, Discovery.]
Let's play "Cause and Effect", shall we? According to a new report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycle deaths are up sharply over the past few years, even though overall highway deaths continue to decline. I wonder why that is?
Last year, 4,008 motorcycle riders were killed in highway accidents, up 7.9% from 2003 and 89% higher than in 1997, according to a new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report. Meanwhile, passenger car deaths dropped 3.2% to 19,091 last year.
The increase in motorcycle deaths has spurred Congress to add $3 million to a federal transportation bill for a study on motorcycle crashes. President Bush is set to sign the measure this week.
"What we need now are answers, not theories," said Tom Lindsay, spokesman for the American Motorcyclist Association.
We need answers? OK, let's read further:
In 2003, the most recent year for which statistics are available for motorcycles, the fatality rate was 38.38 per 100 million miles traveled. In 2002, that figure was 34.23. By contrast, the fatality rate for all highway drivers has improved for decades and in 2004 was 1.46 per 100 million miles traveled.
Rae Tyson, spokesman for the highway administration, said blame may lie partly with states that have scaled back helmet laws. A study released by the agency Monday showed an 81% rise in motorcycle deaths in Florida in a three-year period after the state repealed its law in 2000.
Motorcycle groups opposed to helmet laws point to the changing face of bikers. Jeff Rabe, lobbyist for the Modified Motorcycle Association of California, said more "middle-aged executives" are riding powerful machines without training. "There's a huge group of people ages 35 to 50 who have purchased motorcycles," Rabe said. "But they're still beginning riders."
Hmmm. Is it because of the scaled back helmet laws or the "changing face" of bikers? I have an idea that the lack of helmets may be changing the face of many bikers, and not in a good way.
Being a cyclist, I am out on the roads on my bicycle most weekends. I ALWAYS wear a helmet. I mean ALWAYS. Despite looking geeky and ending up with "helmet hair", I cannot imagine riding on streets without a helmet, and my max speed is probably only 20-something mph. The idea of riding an open machine going 60+ mph in traffic without a helmet is unfathomable to me. One slip, or a nudge from a car and it can be all over.
There is (obviously) a huge lobbying group behind the repeal of helmet laws. As a states' rights fan, I can see the reasoning behind allowing states to make the decision and giving the choice of whether or not to wear a helmet to the individuals. There is the question of potentially higher hospital costs for those who chose not to wear helmets when they ride, although the fatality percentages in states without helmet laws has increased more dramatically than the overall injury percentage. If you are in a severe motorcycle accident without a helmet, it seems it is much more likely that you will not require any additional hospitalization because you won't even make it to the hospital.
But what cheeses me off are the lobbying groups that try to point to anything other than the obvious to explain the increased fatalities. I'm sure that beginning riders are involved in more accidents than experienced riders, but I would not expect that to explain the percentage jumps like the ones we are seeing.
How about this: you have the right to do something really, really stupid, as long as you sign a waiver stating that you and you alone are responsible for what happens to you as a result.
Quote du jour:
"Marriage is a book of which the first chapter is written in poetry and the remaining chapters in prose."
-- Beverly Nichols: Wedding Quotes
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