Where I was when the lights went out

Left the Bay Area on the morning of the Great Blackout of 2003. Oakland Airport turned out to be one of the most peaceful and least crowded spots in the Bay Area: vast open space, never more than three or four vehicles moving at the same time, each in its very multi-mile corridor. Parking was $8 per day, more than 99 percent of the airports in this country, where parking is generally free, but less than it costs to park a car at the O-town airport. Flew over Yosemite Valley and crossed the Sierra at Tioga Pass (10,000′) where N505WT began to be buffeted by turbulence that continued for three more hours (the price of having slept late). Somewhere over south-central Nevada a JetBlue pilot called Air Traffic Control: “This might sound crazy, but have you heard anything about a blackout in the New York area?” After a few minutes, the response was “You’re not going to like this but LaGuardia, Newark, and JFK are all shut down.”

After four hours in the air it seemed the better part of valor not to fight the line of thunderstorms looming over Bryce Canyon so I landed one ridge short at Cedar City, Utah. It turned out that a big Shakespeare Festival was in town. Back in 1971 the good folks here built a replica of an Elizabethan theater and have filled it for six weeks every summer ever since. I got the last ticket for Much Ado and was shocked at how poor a grammarian Shakespeare was. This play alone contains a character asking “with who”, someone modifying “perfect” (“perfectest”), and a character saying “you learned me” for “you taught me”.

7 thoughts on “Where I was when the lights went out

  1. I never thought much of Shakespeare as a writer either. Too many cliches. “All the worlds a stage…” c’mon let’s see some originality.

  2. Spent the great blackout of 2003 in Windsor Locks, CT (BDL); New York (LGA); and Boston (BOS) with an Embraer 135. The airports were a complete mess, at least on the passenger side. On the aiplane side it was nearly a ghost-town. I will remember it as the only time I actually chatted with a LGA ground controller. Usually I have to wait several minutes to get a word in edge-wise just to get a taxi clearance. 16 hours later I completed 3 flight legs.

  3. Most of the rules of English grammar and spelling came along after Shakespeare, come to think of it. And many of the rules are arbitrary and somewhat pointless anyway — though since I make a living as an editor, I’m glad most of them exist.

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