Sunday, August 07, 2011

A Saturday in August

  • It felt really weird to be in my bathroom brushing my teeth at 7am when I had an 8am flight. The ideas of online checkin + not having to drive one (or four!) hours to an airport have still not really sunk in.
  • Flight up non-eventful. Between waiting in the terminal plus on-flight, I got four more puzzles done in the book of Hook 'n' Hex Boston Globe Sundays. Eventually I will finish that book....
  • Although the flight up didn't do good things to my back, for whatever reason; it took most of the walk through the terminal for me to get back to standing up straight.
  • Got my expired MetroCard swapped for a working one. Somehow forgot that the machines in the airport don't take cash, so I guess I didn't have to be so finicky about making sure about cash the day before.
  • The transportation the rest of the way went smoothly; no trouble getting off the M60 at the right place, or getting on the Metro. Although the bus ride did finish off the back pretty thoroughly.
  • Missed the boat the first time past the church, as I was expecting to go in the big doors where the stairs were; except they were walled over. So, back to the courtyard, find the signs, and down to the basement.
  • Got my registration packet and my index card for the team game: "Malia". We were warned to be looking for a team of four, so I figured my group was pretty obvious (and it was). I don't know whether this part was Only Connect-inspired, as there were quite a few generalities (like "Joe") and people who fit into multiple groups (but only one way to get everybody into a group of four, presumably).
  • Did some mingling with the group, as always. Round tables with splinters this year, so no resting your hands on the edges. Ended up sitting with Al Sanders (as last year) plus Joon Pahk.
  • The final tally appeared to be 172 people this year, and in fact they were still trickling in as 11:00 rolled around, so we started a bit late.
  • The play-at-home people are working now, so no more about the puzzles other than JOY. Also, I managed to legitimately beat Joon at one puzzle, but I never finished before Al this year.
  • The group of us at lunch were a little late coming back, so we missed the first bit of Todd McClary's game, which was apparently to come up with a set of names that fit a category that had no repeated letters anywhere (the more letters the better).
  • More puzzles.
  • The group game got off to an inauspicious start, as a large chunk of people had already gone home (we, the Obamas, were short one person, and several groups were down to two), so there was much "oh, just find some people to work with".
  • The group game was straightforward as these sorts of things go; but then even your average crossworder doesn't go for these sorts of things very often, and both of my teammates were stuck at "where are the directions?" So they got the ones with explicit directions and I got the ones that didn't really have them, and between us we made out okay.
  • That final puzzle was hard. And another tie in calling "done", but since Al had an error (one of these years, Al!) it ended up not mattering.
  • The trophies were old ACPT trophies from Ellen Ripstein's closet, which was a nice touch (plus a mug for "Worst Handwriting"). There were a lot of books from Puzzlewright Press, which surprises nobody. There was also an award for "Best former host" which got a lot of applause.
  • They handed out ten prizes for each skill division, so that means I did get to hear my name called. People still remembered to chant, too, which was nice.
  • Some more chat over pizza and ice cream at the end.
  • The trip back was less smooth. I was able to get on and off the subway with no problems. It took me five tries to find the bus stop back to LGA, which is surprising given that most intersections (and this one too) only have four corners at them. I went (twice!) down Lexington Ave instead of down 125th, which just goes to show how bad my sense of direction is after coming up out of a hole in the ground. (It's bad enough just normally.) Plus I was being rained on the whole time.
  • The bus was rather crowded, but the instant we got into Queens it emptied enormously.
  • Upon arrival at the airport, I had convinced myself that my upgrade voucher I had redeemed was usable from the kiosk, which turns out to be not actually true, although I did get a piece of paper telling me to present $49 to the ticket agent. I went up to the agent and told my story, and when he opened up my account, the boarding pass printed out. I gave two ticket agents a chance to take my money, but they both took the opinion "if the boarding pass printed out, it's your seat". I guess that was my prize for the day. That, plus the flight landing about 20 minutes early.
  • I think they added a dollar to the daily parking charge since the last time I flew PHF.
  • This is a large number of bullet points, but it was a large day.
AirTran is leaving PHF a week before the ACPT, so this may be my last trip out of PHF (I'm going to have to look quite a bit for travel plans, since I doubt any of them will be quite the automatic "win" that AirTran from PHF to LGA was, especially with AirTran losing what seems like all of its perks along the way with the merger).

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