Daily Archives: August 10, 2012

High Anxiety: Padre Steve and Flight Delays


I am not as good of air traveler as I used to be. I get anxious when I travel by air now.  Sometimes when I fly it feels like I am Mel Brooks at the beginning of the movie High Anxiety http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_phD__FPsQ or Robert Hays in Airplane. The only thing missing from modern air terminals are the incessant bands of religious zealots that used to be a staple of large airport lobbies back in the 1970s.

Almost every time I travel by air I have the title song from High Anxiety going through my mind: “High Anxiety, it’s always the same. High anxiety, it’s you that I blame. It’s very clear to me I’ve got to give in, high anxiety, you win.” 


Despite the absence of those bands of zealots, who I almost miss going to the airport is never fun. It starts with long lines at the check in counter and through the TSA checkpoints, endure more lines at the gates and get stuffed into a packed aircraft next to someone who insists on taking up their seat plus a third of your seat. It finally ends when you pull out of the parking lot after waiting an unbearable length of time at the baggage carousel of doom for the checked bag that may or may not arrive when you do.

However I have this miserable experience down to a science.  I make sure that everything in my pockets can fit in my baseball hat, I wear shoes that come on and off easily and may backpack is set up so that my computer can be taken in and out quickly. I don’t carry any liquids whatsoever even those that are allowed by TSA. I find the trouble of bagging tiny containers in quart size plastic bags to be too much effort to make it worth while.  My backpack which has accompanied me since Iraq fits well in the overhead compartments of most aircraft and I only carry it so I don’t have to check anything at the gate.

Today has been another adventure in air travel. At Houston Hobby Airport the TSA operates the new scanning devices which enable the agents to look at your naked body. This is not new technology. I saw it used the first time in the movie Airplane. Somehow the thought of my naked body being exposed to anyone other than Judy is not comforting. I wonder what TSA does with these images.

Today I flew out of Houston on the American Airlines subsidiary American Eagle. To make it to the airport I had to catch a cab from the hotel and build in enough time for Houston morning rush hour traffic, so I was on the road by 0720. I had, the operative word had a flight that was to depart at 1020 and be in Dallas by about 1130. My connecting flight was scheduled to depart at 1335. That would have been great. Two hours to make connections right? But no, the scheduled aircraft had a mechanical problem and the replacement did not arrive in Houston until 1145. By the time I took off it was 1225 by the time I landed it was too late. I missed my flight by about 5 minutes. It was pushing away from the gate when I got off of the Sky Link train. I was able to get a picture of it as it left.

Now I get to wait until 1830 local time to take off to arrive in Norfolk about 2220. That is 10:20 PM to the no-military types. Thankfully I was able to get some Tex-Mex food and a couple of beers as I wait out the nearly 5 hour interval between flights. At least I don’t have Robert Hays’s “drinking problem.”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pl4plPGRG8o

By the time I get home, Lord willing, or as my Iraqi friends say “Inshallah” it will be nearly midnight, about 18 hours after I left the hotel. I could have driven Judy’s Mustang straight through in just a few hours more.

Oh, High Anxiety, you win… looks like I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue…

Oh well… c’est le vie.


Padre Steve+

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Filed under aircraft, film, Just for fun, Loose thoughts and musings, purely humorous

The Pilgrimage to Houston

I made pilgrimage this week. I spent the past week in Houston Texas for a conference with my church leadership. It was a good week. I learned a lot and since I am a priest in a small denomination with no local parish near me it was good to be able to meet, worship and work with my bishop. Such meetings are important for military chaplains because even those from larger denominations often have to minister in isolation from their denomination which for some leads to problems.

There is danger in being a “Lone Ranger” in ministry and those that become isolated tend to get in trouble more often than those that maintain healthy relationships with their own churches as well as other chaplains from different denominations. Collegiality is important in public ministry, especially the chaplain ministry. Lone Rangers frequently not only lose contact with their roots but also tend to isolate themselves from other chaplains of different denominations that might be able to help them. So for me it was good to be with the church leadership, to reconnect and to see the things going on in the church.

Nationals Relief Pitcher Mike Gonzalez signing Autographs and talking to Fans

I lived in Texas from 1987 through 1994. I first went there in 1983 as a new Army Lieutenant. Texas is an interesting state and contrary to the impressions of many who have not been there it is not monolithic. The various cities and regions have their own unique flavor. Most of my time in Texas was spent in San Antonio or the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. I also served in the Texas Army National Guard while in seminary and during my Clinical Pastoral Education hospital residency. That service allowed be to become acquainted with parts of the state and its people that I would have never have experienced had I not served in the Guard.

However I never spent any time in Houston until last year when I came down for my first clergy conference as a Priest in the Apostolic Catholic Orthodox Church. http://apostoliccatholicorthodox.org . Houston is definitely different than San Antonio or the Dallas, just as it seems that you are in a different states when you travel between Dallas and Fort Worth.

Most places in Texas have a unique hospitality that is more welcoming of outsiders than much of the rest of the South. I think that is because of its unique history compared to the rest of the country. I found that especially true in Houston where wearing my Baltimore Orioles cap stood out from the locals. People were very friendly and helpful everywhere I went and I really enjoyed myself.

Astros Outfielder Marwan Gonzalez hitting a Home Run in the First Inning

I was able to take in a ball game between the hapless Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals at Minute Maid Park on Monday. The Astros lost in extra innings but I had a great seat near the Nationals dugout with a military discount that got me into the game for $20. The game kind of took me back to childhood when I went to the California Angels games in Anaheim. Players from both teams were taking time to talk with fans and sign autographs and I was able to get a ball signed by Houston All-Star Second Baseman Jose Altuve. The man that sat next to me had retired from the oil industry and had moved to Houston in the early 1970s who was bemoaning the condition of the Astros franchise. Baseball fans who suffer with struggling franchises have a unique kinship. We are not like fans of teams that are always in playoff contention and feel the pain of the other. On the way back from the stadium, “Mo” the cab driver who came to the United States from Morocco 30 years ago talked baseball the whole way back to the hotel. He knew the game and the Astros, better than many Americans that  know. That was a enjoyable cab ride.

During the trip I was able to experience many of the local craft beers brewed in the city. There are many of these compared to other cities that I have traveled. I was fortunate to have stayed in a hotel near a new watering hole called the West End which features a large number of these beers. I particularly liked the (512) Brewing Company IPA, the BuffaloBayou 1836 Copper Ale, the Saint Arnold Brewery Summer Pilsner and the Karbach Brewery Sympathy for the Lager.

I am on my way back, well sort of on my way back. My flight is delayed and hopefully it will not screw up my connection at DFW. Last time this happened I made the connection but my baggage didn’t arrive until the next day.

Blessings and Peace, pray for me a wayward traveler.

Padre Steve+

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Filed under Loose thoughts and musings