Date:         Fri, 19 Jan 1996 17:05:00 CST
From: "Stephen H. Karlson 815 753-6980" 
Subject:      WHTMINE (part 1)
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L 

Last Friday, January 12, dawned drab and gray in the Midwest.

The snowstorm that had deposited a shovelable snow on DeKalb had
moved off to the east.  The morning Weather Channel report indicated
that the storm was drawing on warm, moisture-laden air from over
the Atlantic Ocean, and that rain was likely along the coast, with
freezing rain commencing about 25 miles inland, and snow further

A telephone call to United Airlines established that the 11:50 am
flight from O'Hare to New Haven was to leave at 11:50 am (God's
time), on time.

Armed with that knowledge, I set out for O'Hare airport.  The White
Hen Pantry in Sycamore had an ample supply of Irish Cream coffee,
and Charles Sykes's radio talk show out of Milwaukee was taking up
a collection for the Inner City Church of Knoxville, Tennessee.
(Some foolish person had burned the church and was making threats
against a bank associated with the church.  An associate pastor of
that church may be known to you as # 92 on the Green Bay Packers,
Reggie White.)

Anyway, I got to O'Hare, parked my car, rode the people mover to
the United terminal, and entered the terminal to discover that
the 11:50 flight to New Haven would indeed leave at 11:50 from
gate C20.  The C concourse at O'Hare is in the middle of the
airfield, reached by gerbil tube from the main United terminal.
If you've ever seen the United commercial with the neon light show,
it was taped in the gerbil tube.  There's also a synthesized-mod
version of "Rhapsody in Blue" accompanying the light show.

I came out of the gerbil tube and turned toward gate C20.  Along the
way, there is a bank of screens for departures.  As is my habit,
I checked it.  The 11:50 flight was listed as CANCELLED.

(to be continued)

Stephen Karlson         *-- 154393

ATTITUDE is a nine letter word.  BOATSPEED.

Date:         Tue, 23 Jan 1996 13:58:00 CST
From: "Stephen H. Karlson 815 753-6980" 
Subject:      WHTMINE (continued)
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L 

In the previous installment of this story, our hero had joined a
long line of people waiting to talk to United's customer service
representatives about travel plan revisions after the sudden
cancellation of the 11:50 am plane to New Haven.

There were Yale students returning to school, friends of Yale
students hoping to watch the swimming meet against Harvard that
night, and assorted other people all with urgent reasons to be in
New Haven that day.

The options the United agent offered me (and these agents are to
be commended for bearing up very well in the face of storms,
cancellations, reroutes, and non-availability of planes) were to
try again Saturday or to ride on the 1:50 pm plane to Hartford.

I opted for the aggressive strategy, and held a boarding pass for a
seat on the 1:50 plane.  Another passenger in the line had told
the United agent that the Connecticut Limousine Company offered
surface transportation between the Hartford and the New Haven

Armed with this knowledge, I placed a call to Amtrak and established
that there were two evening runs from Hartford to New Haven, should
the limousine not be available, and I then left a message with
Emily that the backup plan was I would be flying into Hartford,
riding the limousine to New Haven, and expected to call from the
New Haven airport around six p.m.  (Had I known the local geography
better I would have planned to disembark from the limousine either
at Yale U. or at the train station.)

That left me with an hour to eat a bagel and quaff a Starbuck's
cappuccino (airport food stands can be good; they _must_ be
expensive), read the _National Standard_, and board the plane.  The
departure agents made sure every seat was filled, and we pushed back
at 2:04 pm, God's time.  A flight attendant made a mild joke, "How
does Cleveland sound for tonight?"

After the takeoff, the pilot reported that he expected to land in
Hartford at 5:05 pm, local time, and that the airport was open.
The clouds parted over eastern Michigan, and we flew over Lake St.
Clair, crossed Lake Erie somewhere east of Cleveland (whew!) and
came up on clouds prior to crossing Buffalo.  The plane continued
on an easterly heading and about 4:40 pm my ears notified me that
we had begun our descent.  Then the sun became visible out my
port-side window (to be continued...)

Stephen Karlson         *-- 154393

ATTITUDE is a nine letter word.  BOATSPEED.

Date:         Thu, 25 Jan 1996 17:43:00 CST
From: "Stephen H. Karlson 815 753-6980" 
Subject:      WHTMINE (continued)
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L 

In the previous installment of this tale, an eastbound airplane
bound for Hartford, Connecticut had commenced a turn to the north.
It was not to establish a base leg or pick up a glide slope.  The
plane remained above the clouds, and the sun continued to assume
pass abeam, vanish in front of the nose, and reappear through the
starboard windows.

The pilot spoke on the intercom, saying, "Ladies and gentlemen,
the experienced passengers have probably noticed we are circling.
We are in a hold at 28000 feet.  Hartford airport has just closed,
and we are going to make a decision whether to wait for Hartford
to reopen, or to head for Newark."

Twenty minutes later, the pilot announced that we were indeed
going to head for Newark, and that we would be landing there in
about forty minutes.

So, forty-five minutes or so later, we were on the ground at
Newark, and the cabin attendant reported that we would refuel and
then make a decision whether to attempt staging for Hartford.

My seatmate had placed an airphone call to his wife, who said she
was at the Hartford airport, and did not want to leave, it was
snowing so intensely.  I therefore calculated that the plane would
not be leaving for at least an hour, if at all, because of the
refueling delays and the time involved in plowing runways, and that
reaching New Haven from Hartford that late at night was going to
be difficult.  I elected to get off the plane and trust to heavy
steel wheels on sanded rails to get me to New Haven.

There is a very convenient bus from Newark airport to the Amtrak
station, which the locals still call Penn Station.  I found the
Amtrak ticket window and bought a ticket to New Haven.  The ticket
agent said, "We're lucky to be running any trains at all, we don't
know exactly where they are, but your ticket is good on either train
142 or train 94.  Get on the one that arrives first.

So, locate a pay phone and call Emily.  "Hi."

"Where are you?"

"Newark.  I will be on either train 142 or train 94, whichever
leaves Newark first (trusting me ...)

I would have had enough time to hear all of Neal's and Rashmi's
travel stories and to get a good sit-down meal at the station
tavern and prove a separation theorem for nonlinear prices ... but
I cut short the phone conversation in order to be able to get to
trackside quickly.  This is about 7:15 pm, Eastern time.

Another passenger discovered, somewhere around 7:30, that the trains
in question were somewhere near Philadelphia.  So I did some
calculating and figured one of the trains would be in somewhere
around 8:15 pm.  Sure enough, in a few minutes the Solari board
clattered out some train status information that suggested train
142 would indeed show up somewhere around 8:15.

At 8:20 pm the announcer said, "The second train on track 2 will
be train 142 to Boston."  The little red now boarding lights started
flashing.  So up the stairs and into the mist to await the train.

Around 8:25 the first train showed up, a New Jersey Transit job
headed for New York.

At 8:30, the announcer said, "The next train on track 2 will be a
Metroliner that does not pick up passengers.  Train 142 will be the
second train on track 2."

The Metroliner rolled in a few minutes later and then took off for
New York.  Meanwhile, the announcer had said "The next train on
track 3 will be the Silver Meteor for Florida."  The Silver Meteor
originates in New York, and it had arrived in Penn Station from the
coach yards already 4 hours late.  So I was able to watch the
snowbirds troop up to track 3 and await their transportation away
from the snows.  The announcer then said, "The Silver Meteor will
be the next train on track 4.  Passengers waiting for the Silver
Meteor on Track 3 please proceed across the platform to track 4."

I guess it was important to the Amtrak dispatcher that the
inspection train, comprising one locomotive and one track inspection
car, not be crossed from track 3 to track 4 at Bergen or Harrison
interlocking; but that a fifteen car revenue train could make
such a move, and the passengers could schlep their baggage across
the platform.

Somewhere around 8:50, train 142 showed up.  The doors closest to
my location on the platform didn't open, so I had to walk to the
last car to get on.  The train, which conversation gleaned was the
first train out of Washington after noon, was full so I had to
stand as far as Penn Station.  Then I had to keep out of the way
while five carloads of relieved passengers had to march to the
rear end to get out because the doors on the middle cars still
didn't open.

Anyway, I now had a seat close to the bar car, and looked forward
to the next leg of the trip.  A few brave souls came down the
escalator to trackside when the train was announced for boarding
(not as many as I would have thought, given that this was the first
afternoon -- now evening -- train, but perhaps a lot of people gave
up rather than wait for a train that was now about 5 hours late.)

Unfortunately, as far as Amtrak is concerned, Penn Station is more
like the Event Horizon than the Center of the Universe.  They
still go through the ritual of taking up all the seat checks and
closing the lounge car, as if The Pennsylvania Railroad were about
to hand off its train to the New Haven Railroad.  Then the station
staff wait about 5-10 minutes after the train arrives to post a
track for departure and open the departure gates.

(A rail pro's tip if you're boarding a through train at Penn
Station: wait in the arrival lounge on the lower concourse -- the
one that goes across to the Long Island Railroad's westerly
stairs.  Find the arrival monitor and watch for the track to
be posted.  Walk down the stairs and board the train after the
New York passengers get off.)

About 12 minutes after train 142 arrived, train 94 pulled in.  The
plan the conductor announced was that passengers headed for
Connecticut stations south of New Haven would ride train 94, and
train 142 would run as a nonstopper to New Haven.  I thought this
was a good plan, but that made our departure contingent on 94
getting through the Event Horizon.  Why Amtrak continues this
nonsense I don't know.

Anyway, about 9:50 train 142,with me on it, started to move, and
I remarked, "The probability of us reaching Boston just went up."

(to be continued.)

Stephen Karlson         *-- 154393

ATTITUDE is a nine letter word.  BOATSPEED.

Date:         Tue, 30 Jan 1996 17:44:00 CST
From: "Stephen H. Karlson 815 753-6980" 
Subject:      WHTMINE (concluded)
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L 

In the previous installation of this story, your narrator had just
remarked upon the probability of his train reaching Boston, and as
it gathered speed he was looking forward to the bar car opening so
he could conclude his journey in style.

Then came this bump from the head end followed by the sound of a
quick service brake application, and the train stopping.  After a
few minutes the conductor advised that we were "having engine
trouble" and that the train across the platform (the 94 train that
had arrived behind us) would probably be leaving first and making
all stops to New Haven.

So, across the platform to train 94, to witness a confrontation
between the cafe attendant, the conductor, and another person who
might have been an Amtrak official over whether the train would
leave immediately or wait until the cafe attendant had taken
inventory of the supplies loaded aboard (just more Amtrak pretending
the train is being handed off from one railroad to another.)

That confrontation was resolved by the engineer announcing, we have
a green light, let's go.  So, off we went, and I refrained from
speculating on our chances of attaining New Haven.  The cafe car
opened shortly after our exit from the East River tunnel, and I
joined the shorter line waiting for beer ... the longer line was to
use the train phone.  As the train climbed up to Hell Gate bridge
I saw the lights of the Ditmars Avenue L station, hi Marie!  (even
if you don't live there any more.)

So the Budweiser was cold and our progress was steady if not
spectacularly fast.  Just past New Rochelle stop, the lady across
the aisle from me discovered that she was missing her wallet ...
probably left it on train 142.  She asked the assistant conductor
for information about what to do.  The assistant conductor's
suggestion: call 1-800-USA-RAIL and ask for the lost and found
office phone number in Boston.

Me:  Excuse me, 142's behind us, why not radio them?

Assistant Conductor:  142 left ahead of us.

Me:  No way, unless they looped us in the tunnel.

AC:  I'll try  Conductor 94 to head end 94

 This is 94's command module, over

AC:  Any chance you can talk to the head end of 142?

 They haven't left New York yet.


Well, the conductor, assistant conductor, and an Amtrak supervisor
then had some radio and cell-phone conversations that may have
communicated to the conductor of 142 that there was a lost wallet
on board, and it may well have been set off at Stamford, where the
lady detrained.  I don't know.

Just past Stamford, I used the train phone to call Emily, and after
several attempts to log onto her computer, spoke with Rashmi.  I
relayed that the train was just past Stamford and should make New
Haven in about 45 minutes.  55 minutes later I walked up the
stairs into the New Haven station.  Nobody.  The Amtrak people
had given Emily conflicting information (first train 142 had arrived
in Boston at 9:50 pm, second, there was no information about train
142 after New York) so she elected to wait until I reported from
New Haven.  Which I did.

Curious weather that night.  Lots of snow on the ground, but it
was warm.  Curiouser the next day.  Out here when it snows a cold
snap usually follows.  As Neal and Rashmi reported earlier, travel
conditions were good Saturday.  So where were all the R.I. and
Boston types?

The party itself ... the other stories are true, mostly!  Thanks,
everybody.  My one observation ... I may have had all that energy
at 19, but until Heather arrived dinner and conversation were
cheerful but subdued ... the excitement of the previous day, getting
there had probably taken its toll.

I'm still nomail, but may be back once all the job candidates have
finished their visits.

Stephen Karlson         *-- 154393

ATTITUDE is a nine letter word.  BOATSPEED.