Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Flying High

FatherBlog was on a flight from Brazil to JFK Friday overnight into Saturday.

TigerBlog heard from him Sunday and assumed that the flight had been routine. In fact, FB was most of the way through their phone conversation before he mentioned that his flight had to make an emergency landing in Norfolk.

Perhaps you heard about his flight? A warning light came on in the cockpit indicating a possible fire in the cargo area, which prompted the pilot to spray a chemical that extinguishes fires. He then brought the plane to Norfolk.

FatherBlog and the other 241 passengers then had to wait nearly eight hours before another plane arrived to take them to JFK. TB supposes that they also had to wait for someone to clear the chemical off their luggage.

TigerBlog asked his father all the normal questions. What did the pilot say? Was everyone panicking?

FB reported that the pilot came on the intercom and informed everyone of the possibility of a fire. He said that when the plane landed in Norfolk, everyone was told to assume a crash position.

Was he scared? He said he wasn't. He also said everyone on the plane was pretty calm.

He also said that there was no customs office at the Norfolk airport, so they had to wait for hours for someone to be brought in to process everyone once they got off the plane, which meant they were sort of quarantined for awhile.

FatherBlog grew up in a working class area of Brooklyn. He went to Boys' High and then didn't go to college, instead going off to work. He spent two years in the Army during the time between Korea and Vietnam, and he was stationed in Germany during that time.

Since there wasn't much to do - or at least that's how he tells it - he had the opportunity to see a great deal of Europe in his free time. It was then, TB has always imagined, that his father was hooked on a lifetime's love of traveling.

FatherBlog worked hard and built up his own insurance business, to the point that he was able to pursue that love every since TB can remember. TB can't even begin to guess how many miles FB has flown in his life, how many international trips he's made, but it's a big, big number.

His favorite destination is the French Riviera. He's been everywhere, though. Seriously. Everywhere.

Eastern Europe. Central Europe. Western Europe. Israel. Russia. Japan. China. South America. He vacationed in both Turkey and Greece while they fought over Cypress in 1974. He's actually seen way more of the world than he's seen of the United States.

He went to the Vatican once during, of all times, Passover, something he referred to as "a yontov with the Pontiff." For those not versed in Yiddish, "yontov" means "holiday.

Back when TB was a kid, he and BrotherBlog would head off to sleepaway camp, first at a place called Camp Toledo for five summers and then one more at another one, Camp Echo.

During those summers, TB's parents would sometimes go on three-week vacations. TB remembers one took them to Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti and he believes Fiji.

TigerBlog would love to go to Australia and New Zealand, though he's a bit intimidated by how long the flight is. He'd definitely have to go with someone with whom he could have a long, long conversation. Or someone who brought sleeping pills.

For at least one Princeton undergrad, the trip to New Zealand isn't a vacation, it's a commute home.

That would be Julia Ratcliffe, the hammer thrower on the women's track and field team.

Ratcliffe, a sophomore, had a huge weekend for the Tigers at the quad meet with Vermont, Monmouth and St. John's. It was there that she put up a performance that stamped her as possibly the favorite when the NCAA championships roll around.

In fact, her top four throws this weekend all went further (farther?) than anyone else has thrown so far this outdoor season.

Her performance earned her the Division I Women’s National Athlete of the Week award by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. It was the first time a Princeton athlete has ever earned that honor.

Ratcliffe was the Ivy League champion in the hammer throw last year, and she earned second-team All-America honors with an 11th place finish as the NCAA meet.

The outdoor Heps are still nearly a month away and will be held at Yale. The NCAA championships are still two months away, and will be held in Eugene.

That's 3,000 miles from Princeton and 7,000 miles from New Zealand.

That makes it 10,000 miles from here to New Zealand? Well, it's not exactly a straight line, so it's more like 9,000 miles.

Still, that's pretty far.

TB will definitely need to bring someone he likes to talk to if he ever makes that trip.

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