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Airline Delay Jeopardy.

“Welcome to Airline Delay Jeopardy the game that costs you time , patience and maybe a few years of your life.

“Lets welcome our next contestant Dan. He is an engineer from Colorado. Welcome to Airline Delay Jeopardy Dan.”

“Thanks Alex but they know who I am, I was just here.”

“Oh contraire Dan. It may look like the same set as our other game “Airline Fee Jeopardy”  but the stakes are quite different. You will be risking your precious time , patience and perhaps your entire trip.”

“I suppose you want me to be excited about that also Alex?”

“ Of course Dan. What could be more invigorating than the apprehension you feel from your first flight delay to finally boarding, perhaps hours and even days in the future.”

“Yea , be still my beating heart Alex”.

“Are you ready to play Dan?”
“ Do I have a choice Alex?”

“No , No you don’t Dan so put on your big boy pants and lets play “Airline Delay Jeopardy.”
“Um, yeah they’re on, my pants that is. Oh yea, lets play”.

“Now you’re talking Dan. So pick a category.”
“Lets go with “What Else Could Go Wrong “ for 50 Alex.”

“Good Choice Dan.”
“It’s the only category Alex.”

“Yes but none the less, here is your question”. “Dan you are traveling from Washington Dulles and your plane has changed gates. What obstacles await you”

“The new gate is not near a bar Alex?”
“Funny Dan but that is not the correct form or answer. Remember to answer in the form of a question.

The correct answer Dan would be “What is to get to the new gate you must either go back through security or take a shuttle that will take you to the new gate.  Once you get there you will find that the gate assignment has been changed back to the original gate. I hope you like shuttle busses Dan”.

“But I am not going to DC Alex.”
“Well lets face it, your final destination is a crapshoot Dan.”

“Quickly choose your next question Dan, we have more people to delay.”

“God forbid I get in the way of that Alex. I will choose , hmm, how about the next question in the same category for 100 Alex.”

“I sense sarcasm Dan.”
“Who me? Of course not, it’s more closer to smarminess”.

“Dan you are flying out of Kansas City. What exciting reason for a delay could be headed your way?”

“Your definition of exciting is different from mine Alex so I have no clue.”
“ Now you’re not even trying Dan.”
“Yea I’m sorry Alex, when it comes to airport delays I’m an underachiever.”

“Well Dan in this case your delay is due to your plane has no potable water. You can’t go anywhere when your bathrooms are out-of-order Dan.”

“Apparently  you also have a different definition of potable Alex, unless you are traveling with your dog.”
Now that you mention it Dan, it really is more smarminess than sarcasm. Choose your last question Dan. “

“Oh goody Alex. I choose……the next question for 150.”

“Dan you are traveling from Denver to Kansas City ,what uncomfortable situation could you be in?” “Well Alex, the fact that we are finally following my flight plan tells me that I am in for another delay. I hope it’s just a slight one”

“Well Dan you would be kind of, sort of, wrong. When you get to the airport you discover that your plane has changed gates. This in itself is just a minor inconvenience. When you get to the gate you find out that the plane has been delayed by 15 minutes.”

“So I was right Alex.”
“Dan haven’t you learned by now? It’s the old bait and switch. Once you get on the plane , runway delays will cause it to increase to 40 minutes.”

“Well that is still not too bad.”
“Your a half full kind of guy aren’t you Dan. There is one more part to this answer. There is no cool air flowing through the cabin and your plane is waiting with the sun shining on your side of the plane and from what I hear you’re a human furnace.”

“Oh swell Alex. That’s sarcasm by the way. I am having a hard time trying to fill the glass on this one Alex.”

“Let me help you with that Dan. This is a great chance to enjoy a sauna that you would normally pay for.” 

“ I am paying for it Alex. Believe me , I’m paying for it.”

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Uncle Bingo’s Travelling Road Show

It is strange how sometimes life’s paths seem to take us away from our initial goals, but if we just give them a chance and play out the hand,  we may get what we wanted in the first place.

It was the year 2000 and the world had just survived the current disaster de jour, the millennium had come and gone and the various tools of its destruction had failed to cause a nasty smell let alone bring on the four horses of the apocalypse.  The biggest hammer, the millennium bug, the software version of the plague  had come and gone with very few casualties save for the Japanese man who had feared nuclear destruction and fled to Australia with a blow gun, a flak jacket and a chemical warfare suit.  It’s true folks . I couldn’t make that up.  I am not sure that qualifies as a casualty but I am sure his friends missed him.  It was also the year that I finally got off my butt and did what I had been talking and thinking about for some time, Uproot myself from Northern Virginia where I had landed after graduating from college. I had been there for fifteen years and I had made some really great friends but I wanted to be a little closer to my family. I had two nephews who I saw once a year and I had a niece on the way. I wanted to make sure that she did not know me as ” the uncle that showed up at Christmas, brought me a present and whose name I had to be reminded of”. Of course when they’re young they probably would take two out of three as long as one of the two are “present”.   Ok , not to fully take the air out of the “ he is such a family guy” sails but I also wanted to be in a place where I could enjoy the outdoors and ski more. I had taken up skiing several years before and I needed to make sure my jones could always be met.  Hey, when the knees are gone I am going to have to lean on my family.

I found a job in Boulder Colorado and in June of 2000 I jumped in my Mustang and took the long way to Colorado via Michigan to visit my brother. While I was there my niece had entered the world. Perhaps it was just a coincidence that I was leaving for Kansas the next day and would see her soon. Perhaps not. Perhaps it was her way of insuring that I would never forget her birthday.  Six hundred and some odd miles later I was visiting with my newborn niece.  While I was experiencing some trepidation at starting my new life, I completely forgot it while contemplating her new life. Funny thing about birth , it tends to put things in perspective.

Its strange, now that I live in Colorado I do more traveling then I ever have in the past but I see my family more often.  Usually I can arrange my travels so that they take me through Kansas for a visit. If I am not traveling I have been known to jump in my Mustang (yep the same one) for a short cruise , they are only 7.5 hours away when there is no construction on I-70 and the highway patrol cooperates.   It was during one of those “short cruise” visits during the fourth of July where my niece gave me the nickname that I love and will go with me to my grave*. Out of the blue one day she said to me “Your not Uncle Dan, You’re Uncle Bingo”. Of course her logic was solid when I asked why, “I dunno just cause you are”.  Works for me.  It also seems to work for the rest of my family who affectionately call me  , I am sure its with affection, Uncle Bingo or just Bingo.

So if you hear the sound of fun coming your way it may be the circus or you may just be getting a visit from Uncle Bingo’s Traveling Road Show. Don’ t worry, it will be entertaining and I hardly ever leave a mess. Well nothing that can’ t be cleaned up or forgiven by the next visit.

*Oh sure ,when I am an 80 year old man “Uncle Bingo” will sound kind of weird but when that time comes it will just be “endearing” or creepy. I’m betting on the former.

Family, Much Harder to Say Goodbye Than to Love

   Family reunions come in all shapes and sizes and for many different reasons.This particular one happened because of the passing of two members. To know the Oneills is to know chaos. Rarely any gathering happens in this family without parts of the group getting lost, showing up late or leading the entire group on a path that not even GoogleMaps, MapQuest and even GPS could lead them back from.

   The passing of loved ones often leads to the pondering of ones own timeline. Specifically how short it is. I am somewhat relieved to report that due to one of the funeral services I can check off two items from my bucket list. Item number 372*)Spend a confusing hour in the basement of a mausoleum and number 373) Be chauffeured in a golf cart through a cemetery. Yes, conveniently I have planned consecutive items for the same location. The Oneill’s may not know where we are going but we are organized on the way to not getting there.

    Items  372 , and 373 were achieved during my Grandmothers life ceremony. I call it a life ceremony. It was about the celebration of her life and wonderful family and friends. All of the people to be in attendance showed up early for the ceremony. This should have been a harbinger of things to come. We had all  formed a motorcade to Los Angeles from San Diego where the previous day we held the life ceremony of my Uncle. That ceremony was a beautiful tribute to a veteran in a military cemetery and went off without a hitch. Perhaps that was due to my Uncle not being an Oneill by blood.  Members of the family were concerned for those that would have to brave the 405 , the 5, the 805 and  whatever 05 was involved in leaving LA during rush hour on a holiday weekend. Since we had all arrived at the cemetery ahead of time an effort was made to start the ceremony early.  Now if I had claimed I heard the strains of Beethoven’s fifth symphony when this decision was made I would have been label “nuts” but I swear it happened.

   Which leads me to bucket list items 372 and 373. From the main building of the cemetery or the “greeting area” ** we caravanned over to the mausoleum section of the cemetery. Rolling up to the mausoleums, yes plural queue the Beethoven, we entered en masse. Now as is usual with this group , someone ( we are never really sure who the someone is in these family debacles) suggested that the ceremony was on the basement floor. To be fair there was no official “greeter” from the funeral parlor, perhaps they themselves were confused as to where they were supposed to be doing the  greeting.  Perhaps back at the “parlor” . In any case a majority of the group decided that was a good idea which is how I found myself checking off number 372. After close to an hour, during which several party members went to find out what was going on and never returned*** and some official funeral types never showed up  to smirk and tell us we were in the wrong place, we decided by ourselves that such was the case and the best move was back to ground level. I for one hailed any decision in a cemetery that moves me back to ground level. Returning to the main floor we were greeted by official funeral types who were ready to take us to a different mausoleum via golf carts. Check off number 373. My sister and I jumped into a golf cart while my niece caught a ride in a limo. I am not sure how she wangled that. She’s only eleven. I have never ridden in a limo and that is a lot higher on my list. After a distance that was so short it was comical we arrived at the proper mausoleum for a ceremony at ground level.

    The ceremony itself was simple and beautiful. Memories were shared , kind words spoken and tears were shed. In a little over an hour we had experienced a lot of what life has to offer, grief, confusion, love and laughter. Now some of you may be thinking that  I am a sick individual for making light of the death of loved ones. Those of you thinking that do not know me and my family (either side) very well. This is how we deal with grief , confusion and life in general, we laugh. When my father passed away ,  my mother , my siblings and I had to make the arrangements. The experience can be a bit macabre  and at some point we grounded ourselves with our usual coping mechanism. We laughed. After looking at caskets and making ceremony choices we had completed the arrangements to the sound of an accompanying old-fashioned credit card reader, the kind that slide with an unmistakable “ch ch” sound. To the chagrin of the funeral directory we likened it to the sound of another angel getting his wings and broke out in laugher while the director looked on in horror. Imagine that, surrounded by death and he was aghast at laughter.

    It was said by several family members that , while the funerals were an occasion of sorrow, they did bring us together once again for a family reunion and we were grateful to be in each others company. Once back in San Diego, more memories and laughs were shared until it was time to bid adieu and anticipate the next occasion the Oneills will wander confused but together.

*Yes its a long list. How could it not be, It covers a lifetime.

**Confusing enough. Anywhere two live bodies can congregate in a cemetery could be a greeting area.

*** Now to be fair they may have returned but it was the basement of a mausoleum. It  was dark and damp and I was perhaps a bit cranky.

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