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Updated: 12/02/04

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Thursday, 02 December, 2004

Yesterday felt much longer than it really was. Up early for a 7:55 flight to Columbus and it was raining and windy - Gary dropped me at the airport about 6:40. There were HUGE lines for security at both the US Air terminals - next time I will get my ticket and head to the "D" Terminal, since the lines were much shorter. My colleague Andrew almost missed the flight, but made it on just as they closed the door.

We had a few bumps on the way into Columbus - the remains of a nasty weather system that was moving eastward. We arrived a little early and had time for breakfast before our meeting.

We had heard from several people that the winds had really picked up in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast and that flights were being delayed. Andrew and I both had a dinner to attend in New York that evening, so we left for the airport around 3:20 for our scheduled 4:17 flight to La Guardia. I do love the Columbus airport - the elasped time between getting in the cab downtown, checking in and clearing security was twenty minutes. Delta was still showing our flight on time, so we headed to the gate. Around 4:00, the gate agent said that they would begin boarding in a few minutes - it was one of those 50-seat jets that I hate, but at least it was going to leave on time.

Then the Red Phone rang.

Nothing good ever comes from a Red Phone and this was no exception. The gate agent got back on the speaker and said that there 40-50 mph wind gusts around La Guardia and that we were delayed. They would update the status at 5:00. We went to the bar and had a drink until 4:45 and went back to the gate and waited for our 5:00 update.

Good news: our plane had a "wheels up" time.

Bad news: It was at 7:30 p.m.

Since our dinner was scheduled to begin at 7:00, there was no way to make it to NY in time. Andrew had a meeting the next day in NY, so he decided to wait for the flight. I headed back over to US Air to see if I could get on the 7:55 flight to Philadelphia. As I approached the ticket counter, the agent asked if anyone in the counter area was going to Philadelphia. I said I would like to and she said they had just released an earlier flight that had been delayed, but if I hurried, I could make it to the gate. Yay!

Obligatory secondary security screening since I had just purchased a one-way ticket, but since this is Columbus, there was no one else in the security line, so I made it to the gate with no problem. I found out that this was actually the 2:50 p.m. flight that had been delayed for 2 1/2 hours. It was a 737 with only 30 people or so on board. We were supposed to have a 45 minute ground stop in Columbus, but they released us early and with the big tail wind we made it to Philly by 6:45. Somewhat gusty landing, but I've had worse. Not as bad as this, however:

What A Ride! Aborted Takeoff, Bad Turbulence, Landing At Wrong Airport

CHICAGO -- It was a rough trip for 118 people who were on a Chicago to New York flight Wednesday.

They endured an aborted takeoff, a switch in planes, severe turbulence and a landing at an unexpected airport.

United Airlines says Flight 668, scheduled to take off from O’Hare at 6:00 this morning, was forced to abort take off. Passengers had heard a loud popping noise and some saw a bright flash coming from the right engine. United spokeswoman Andrea Arroyo says a stalled compressor is the suspected cause.

Passenger Gary Bonkowski says the aborted take-off happened just seconds before the Airbus 319’s nose was about to lift into the air.

He says the pilot stopped the plane “on a dime”.

Shortly after 8:00 a.m., Bonkowski says he and the 117 other passengers were aboard another Airbus 319 and that plane took off for New York.

On the way to New York, United Airlines spokesman Jeff Green says, there were high winds that forced the plane to land at JFK Airport in New York instead of its scheduled landing at LaGuardia Airport.

Frequent flyer Gary Bonkowski says the turbulence during the flight was 10 times rougher than the worst roller coaster ride you can imagine. He says many people on the plane became sick, vomiting in their seats or running to the bathroom.

Once on the ground at JFK, a flight attendant mentioned to passengers that the plane would be re-fueling and then taking off again so the plane could land at LaGuardia as it was supposed to, but Bonkowski says there was a near mutiny by passengers.

He says people made it clear to the flight crew that, even though they were at an airport they hadn’t planned to be at, they were on the ground and did not want to go into the air again.

United’s Jeff Green says 116 of the 118 passengers exited at JFK. He says two passengers took the ride from JFK to LaGuardia.

[My day was uneventful, relatively speaking.]

Sometimes one reads a story that illicits a, "Well, DUH!" response. This is one of them:

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Missouri's most violent criminals can no longer play video games that simulate murders, carjackings and the killing of police officers, a decision reached after prison officials were told about the content.

Let's see. Violent criminals will no longer be playing games that allow them to be, um, violent criminals. Gee, kind of makes sense to me.

"We didn't closely review these," Dave Dormire, superintendent of the Jefferson City Correctional Center, told The Kansas City Star. "We were told these games had more like cartoon violence."

Cartoon violence? What rock were these people living under? Video games today strive for uber-realism in their graphics, which is evident just by watching the television advertisements for the things.

The Star reported Thursday the state's new maximum-security prison pulled dozens of violent Sony PlayStation 2 games from its recreation center on Wednesday, after officials were alerted to their content by a reporter. Inmates had been using them for months.

In fact, the prison's PlayStation offerings included one of the most violent games on the market, "Hitman: Contracts," in which players use everything from meat hooks to silencer-equipped pistols to carry out brutal contract killings.

In all, 35 of the facility's more than 80 games were removed. Others remain, including science fiction and sports games.

The games were paid for from inmates' purchases — mostly of snacks — at the prison canteen. The canteen generates up to $20,000 monthly and a committee of corrections officials, prison staffers and several inmates decides how to spend it.

Much of the cash is used for weightlifting and exercise equipment. Video games are a new purchase in Jefferson City; prison officials say other facilities have done the same, though it doesn't appear to be the norm.

"It has a good effect on helping us run the prison and make sure they're busy and not trying to work on ways to escape or harm others," Dormire said. "That's kind of our bottom line — public safety."

I suppose it's inappropriate for me to suggest that maybe they should be doing something else - like making license plates or picking up trash - instead of being allowed to play video games.

[I know, I'm just not in tune with the needs of today's criminals.]

Quote du jour:

"Criminals do not die by the hands of the law; they die by the hands of other men."

-- George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950) English dramatist, critic

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