In-flight entertainment

I’m writing this on my laptop while flying over the blackness that is Lake Ontario at night. Through the clouds, I can occasionally see some lights off to our left, which must be the east end of Toronto, or possibly even further east, like Pickering or Whitby. I’m on Air Canada flight 310, flying down to Reagan airport in Washington DC. Tomorrow and Wednesday, I’ll be meeting with some contractors who are doing a security evaluation of the database product that I work on, Adaptive Server Anywhere (ASA). This evaluation is required before a software product can be used by the US government and its agencies, so getting the evaluation done opens a bunch of doors for our sales people. I’m the technical lead on the project, so over the past three years, I’ve put together lots of documents describing the product and how it works, and written lots of tests and documentation about these tests. It’s been a long and ardous project, but for the most part, it’s been part time – a few hours here and there, rather than 8 hours a day every day. I will be glad when it’s all over though.

Starting this morning when I got up, I’ve been very nervous about this trip. Not because of what will be happening when I get there, but the flights themselves. I can’t explain why – I’ve flown many times, and I’ve never been the least bit nervous about it. In my previous job, I flew down to Boston all the time – probably averaging every other month over three years, as well as a couple of trips to San Francisco, one to Naples, Florida, once to DC, and once to New York City. And that’s just work trips with Comnetix – I’ve flown to Baltimore three times with Sybase (though not for over 5 years), and many times on various vacations. I’ve never been nervous flying, but I had butterflies in my stomach all day, and they got worse as the day went on.

My only guess as to the reason is that it’s the first trip I’ve taken away from my family since Ryan was a baby. The most obvious fear is that the plane will go down and Gail will be left to raise the boys on her own, and they will grow up without a father, and that idea scares the hell out of me. I have every confidence in Gail’s parental abilities, and I’m sure she’d do fine, I just don’t want her to have to. The weird thing is that Gail and I flew down to Las Vegas back in October without the kids, and I had no qualms about that. If there was, um, an incident during that flight, the kids would grow up without either parent, and would be raised by my sister. With all due respect to her, that would be far, far worse, and yet, I felt no nervousness about that flight. I don’t get it.

Looking out the window, I can still see lights off to the left. We must be far beyond the lake now, over New York state somewhere. For some bizarre reason, I felt this urge to time the flight, so I started my stopwatch as soon as the wheels left the ground – 29 minutes and 30 seconds ago. Actually, flying time is supposed to be about an hour, so we’re probably at our cruising altitude of 25,000 feet, and roughly halfway there.

We started boarding the flight around 5:45, and just before then, I realized that Gail had already picked up the boys, and was probably at home fixing dinner. The boys would be in the family room, glued to today’s episode of What’s New, Scooby Doo? which we tape every morning. I thought of calling just to tell them that I love them, but this would be weird for me (telling them that I love them wouldn’t be weird, I do that all the time, just calling from the airport specifically to tell them). I know that Gail would immediately ask me what was wrong, and I don’t want her to worry about me, so I didn’t call. I hope I get to the hotel in time to call before bed – I’d really like to talk to Ryan and ask how his day went – he had a test on owls, which they’ve been studying for a few weeks now. Did you know that an owl will eat pretty much anything smaller than itself, including bats, rabbits, and even other owls? I did not.

Sometimes talking to Nicholas on the phone is fun too – he’s too young to have any real concept of how far away I am or when I’ll be back. Ryan, simply because of his age, has a much better understanding of the concepts of time and distance. I keep forgetting how much younger Nicky is – almost three years. Nicky sometimes talks about Figgy and the fact that he died — and then asks when he’s coming back. When we tell him that Figgy’s not coming back, he never gets sad, he just sort of says “oh, right”, as if he simply forgot. Ryan, on the other hand, started to sniff and almost cry when we drove by the vet’s a few weeks ago, because he remembered that that’s where we took Figgy when he died.

The captain is talking now – we’re at about 15,000 feet, and we’ll be touching down in about 10 minutes, so I’ll have to shut the machine down now. I’ll probably write more on the return flight.


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