Every Christmas break, my family watches one or two movies together. This year we watched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (with, among other people, Jen Sun and the scandalous Lees). I thought it was pretty dope. The fight scenes were seriously incredible. The thing was, I wasn’t expecting it to be so artsy, but it was kind of an artsy movie. Anyway, it’s a movie I want to see again.
My mom thought it was “great”. This is extremely high praise from my mom. You have to understand what my mom is like. I love her. But about certain things and after a certain while, she just doesn’t care what impression she makes, if that makes any sense. Like, when we were kids, I remember that we discovered Santa Claus didn’t exist (uh, sorry kids if you’re finding it out here) when my sister found our presents from Santa in the closet. But, my sister also remembers one year when we were doing something or other about a week before Christmas and my mom comes in and puts our gifts from Santa under the tree. That also helped shatter the happy illusion. But anyway.
In regards to movies, she just is usually harsh. She fell asleep at Shakespeare in Love. Last year we saw the Green Mile, and her first reaction, as soon as Tom Hanks utters the last line, was, “Tch!” (meaning like, “whatever”) We also saw The Talented Mr. Ripley, and the lesson she got from that movie was, “Don’t be gay.” Uh, sorry Gus et al, but, that’s what she said. After watching Titanic, she said, “she should have listened to her mother and stayed with the first guy and they wouldn’t have gotten into all that trouble.” So yeah, harsh. But, she thought Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was great, so that’s pretty good.
There’s something I love about being in Houston, mostly how families know each other. There’s just a good feeling with that. I can’t totally explain it, it just feels more comfortable, and almost makes me feel closer to people. Just, you understand me better if you know my family. And in the Bay Area, my social circle is so confined to my age group it’s stifling. There are a few moments when I cross it. Like, a couple friends and I had dinner with one of their familes a week ago, and for some reason, I really liked it, it’s just this level of comfort that I can’t fully explain, when I know someone else’s family and they know me.
When I first came to Houston, I was kind of surprised at how frequently everyone was at everyone else’s house here. It just wasn’t what I was used to. I think I just thought it was cool how friends here hang out with each other all the time.
I think I realized that there’s a price for that, though. Just, when you spend all your time with your friends, you spend less time with your family. I don’t know if I’m making any sense. It’s just, at one point in my life, I wanted to be like them, to spend all my time with other friends. But now I think they want what I have – a family that’s mostly comfortable and hangs out with each other.
But something I’ve been thinking lately is that even that can be bad. I heard a few sermons about how in this season we shouldn’t get caught up in the wrong things and selfishness. And that’s true. I’m just thinking now that the “family” can be one of those selfish things. I mean, it’s good and right to put an emphasis on the family during the holidays. I just think, at least right now, that sometimes it can be selfish, where we want our “family time” and want to preserve it so much that we can potentially ignore need around us, and that can’t be good. Like, knowing and seeing someone who’s lonely but ignoring them for the sake of “family time”. That can’t be the spirit of Christmas. So, my current thinking is, in this holiday season, put your priorities straight, and the family should be foremost among them. But, there are times we need to put even that aside, and not hold on to “family time” so strongly that we become selfish. Uh, I don’t know if anyone knows what I’m talking about, but it makes sense to my experience.
So, I’m sure everyone has a story like this, but my trip to get to Houston this year was the worst ever. So, I’m going to L.A. for New Year’s, which means I had to buy round trip tickets to L.A. from the Bay Area, and round trip tickets to Houston from L.A. My flight from L.A. to Houston was scheduled to leave at 3 PM, and I agonized over when I should get to L.A. (arrive at 10:30 and wait a while or get there at 1:30 and risk missing the flight) and Jieun convinced me to get the early flight.
Good advice. I left my apartment at around 7:45 for the airport and found out the flight was delayed. Apparently there was a lot of fog at LAX Friday morning, so a lot of flights were delayed. My flight was delayed about an hour and a half, and I ended up getting to LAX at 12.
Jieun met me there (we were going to have lunch together at the airport). We got my stuff from the baggage claim and went to check in for my flight to Houston. I had to fly America West (which George rightly calls America Worst). I know, I’ve never had a good experience with them, but, by the time I got my tickets, theirs was the only reasonably priced ticket.
SN. I used Travelocity and Hotwire to get my tickets. Travelocity is by far my most favorite online ticket service, the only thing is it’s not always the cheapest. But, it lets you choose every detail, from flight time to carrier, to seat choice, and lets you get an e-ticket, which I like a whole lot better. Hotwire you don’t get to choose a lot of details, and they send you the ticket. Cheaptickets sends you the ticket also. I don’t get that. But anyway.
So, we went to go to the ticket counter, and I saw there the longest airport line I’d ever seen in my life. It stretched past America West’s counter, past US Airways (something like that), past Southwest, and past the escalators next to that, almost to the next section, and it looked like Disneyland – just a bunch of twists and turns in the line. It was utterly absurd.
So what had happened was, because of the fog, America West had canceled a bunch of flights, and delayed others, and so everyone was screwed. The guy at the counter was advising people to go home and try to reschedule for tomorrow. With America West, a lot of flights go through Phoenix and Las Vegas. What the guy was saying is that, if your flight ends in either of those places, stick around, but otherwise, go home, because you’re not going to make your connecting flight, and there are about a thousand people whose flights were delayed/canceled trying to get another flight to Phoenix/Las Vegas and to their destination city after that, and you’d likely just be stuck there.
There was no way I was going to stay in L.A. for a night. Just, Jieun was busy, and I just didn’t want to go through that. So, I called the 1-800 number the guy was passing out to talk to the airline and discuss my options, because the people at LAX were being seriously unhelpful, and it was just too much of a madhouse there to talk to anyone. I mean, there were people who had been in line since like 7 AM and there were people crying and people yelling, and it was just insane.
So I call the number and talk to someone more calm. So, my flight for Las Vegas (I connected there) was supposed to leave at 3 and arrive at 4, and my flight for Houston was supposed to leave Las Vegas at 6. But the flight to Las Vegas was delayed until 4. But that still left me an hour leeway to catch my connecting flight, so the person on the phone advised me that the guy at the LAX counter was wrong, and I should try to get on my flight.
So, I just had to get on the flight, but the line was so long I was seriously worried that I wouldn’t get to the front of the line by 4. This isn’t fully accurate, I know, but I also didn’t want to wait in line for 3 more hours. So, I tried to see what else I could do. I went to the gate to talk to the people there (Jieun saved my spot in line – so glad she was there) and found out if I could gt my bag past security, they’d check it there. But, my bag was too big to get past security – they had to check it. So that wasn’t going to work.
Then Jieun suggested I use the bag that’s in her trunk, which is much smaller and could fit through the x-ray machine. I could switch bags (most of my bag was laundry, which I didn’t need) and would be able to get through security. So she went to her car in the garage to get her bag.
Meanwhile, I noticed the curbside checkin line was moving a whole lot faster than the line inside. But, it was getting rapidly longer. And my line wasn’t moving at all, and I was way in the back. So I made an on the spot decision t switch lines, and just hope that Jieun would find me outside. I already had my tickets, so there was no reason I had to go to the ticket counter; I just needed to check my bag.
The outside line did move a lot faster, and in about 20 minutes I was near the head of the line, and I was feeling pretty good about my decision. And then the people at the curbside check-in announce – “We can only check your bags if you’re final destination is Phoenix or Las Vegas. Otherwise, you have to go inside.”
If I went back inside, I would have added an hour to my wait in line, so there was no way in God’s green earth that I was going back to that line. So, when I got to the front, I was determined to convince my way into getting my bag checked.
The thing is, there was no reason why they could not check my bag. It’s not like they were technologically unable to check a bag that had a transfer. It’s just, they couldn’t reschedule a transfer flight. Since most of the people outside had transfers in Phoenix or Las Vegas, and all flights were delayed, chances were, they were going to miss their connecting flight, which is why they made that announcement.
The thing is, having talked to the person on the phone, I was pretty sure that even with the hour delay, even if it were delayed up to a half hour more, I would make my connecting flight. So I didn’t need or want to reschedule my connecting flight. All I wanted to do was get my bags checked. Just like someone going to just Las Vegas or Phoenix. There was no reason why the curbside people couldn’t do that.
But argh, they wouldn’t just stop and think, and they kept repeating their mantra about how they could only check in people ending in Phoenix or Las Vegas. This is a big pet peeve of mine. When workers don’t think about why they’re supposed to do what they’re supposed to do and just don’t listen at all. Use your freaking brain. I’m not asking to reschedule! I just want my bags checked! Why can’t you do that? It takes no longer than anything else. But these people were idiots who just wouldn’t listen. Which I wouldn’t mind as much if they weren’t determined to be so rude while doing it. I ended up convincing them but it took 15 minutes of talking. But there was no way I was going back inside to that madhouse. No way.
So, I was feeling pretty good. I got my bag checked and now for sure was going to be able to get home that day. I found Jieun, who was rightly angry at me for ditching her without telling her where I was going, and after a bit we parted, without having eaten. It was about 2:15 by that time. The whole line experience had taken about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
So, I ate lunch and read a bit and waited for the plane. I kept waiting for the flight time to be moved back, but the screens kept showing a 4:00 departure time, which was good. Then 4 PM rolled around and the plane wasn’t even there yet. And I’m getting nervous. Finally, it arrives at 4:20. The people get off and we get on the plane at about 4:45. It’s close, but I’m just hoping we can take off soon; it takes about an hour to get to Las Vegas, and my flight’s scheduled for 5:55 to Houston. I can maybe run over and convince them to wait for me and my luggage.
And I’m waiting and waiting and we’re not taking off. And it turns out they need to fix a lamp on the plane. Which doesn’t get fixed until 5:05. I’m still hoping against all hope to catch my flight. And then they inform us that all the toilets on the plane are broken, and for health reasons they need to have at least one working one, so they’re fixing that. So we wait some more. Then they decide to load up the plane, which is mostly empty, with other people waiting for flights to Las Vegas. And loading people on a plane just takes forever. So, we don’t end up leaving until 5:40, two hours, forty minutes after the scheduled time, one hour, forty minutes past the time on the screens in the airport, and about an hour after everyone had been loaded on to the plane.
So, I missed my flight from Las Vegas to Houston. So, I had to get a new one. So I go to the America West service desk at Las Vegas. It’s a short line, but the slowest line in the history of mankind. The people there spent more time complaining on the phone about how there weren’t enough people there to help all the people in line (all of whom were on my flight from LA to Las Vegas that had been delayed forever and had missed their connecting flights) than actually helping people. But eventually, I got a seat on the 11:40 flight to Houston, as well as a voucher for a free dinner at the airport.
I was a little worried about my luggage. America West has a partnership with Continental, and my original flight from Las Vegas to Houston was on Continental, so I had no idea where my baggage would end up. The service desk guy assured me it would be OK. He said America West has extremely good lost baggage rates. It is, in his exact words, “the only good thing about our airline.” That’s a proud employee.
So, I hung out at the Las Vegas airport for a few hours. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there, but this airport is incredible. It’s just very technologically advanced, and has a very clean, modern design. It was actually kind of fun to hang out there. I ate at the Cheers restaurant (surprisingly good fish and chips) and read a bit.
Then I flew to Houston, arriving at 4:30 AM. I was pretty worried about my mom – she was supposed to pick me up at 10:40 PM, and I hadn’t been able to get in touch with her before she left for the airport, and her adventures at the airport is another story, but Paul Jung ended up picking me up. So we wait in the baggage claim, and all the bags come out, and mine isn’t there. Great. So I fill out a claim form and think, maybe it ended up at Continental. So we go there. And, amazingly, among the rows of unclaimed bags there, I find mine. I’m condensing the story, but that’s basically what happened. So, then we go home and I get home at 6 AM.
So, I left Palo Alto at 7:45 AM PST, and get to my house in Houston at 6 AM CST. About 20 hours to get from Palo Alto to Houston. When it usually takes me like 6. Absurd. Like I said, I’m sure a lot of people have stories like this, so, I’m not saying it’s a big deal, it’s just my story.
The weird thing is, I wasn’t that bothered by everything that happened. Honestly, it was kind of fun. Not that I ever want to do it again.
Of course, the reason I had to go through that was because I waited so long to buy my stupid plane tickets. Ugh, I’m such a procrastinator.
Speaking of which, I realized two things from reading Eric Yang’s last entry. One, Eric is not a procrastinator. Two, Eric has zero idea what it is like to be a procrastinator. Zero.
He says procrastination is bad because “it’s less efficient.” This is why I say he has zero idea what it’s like to be a procrastinator. He also says how procrastinating makes writing a CS program that would take 3 hours ahead of time take 8 hours when procrastinating.
See, to me, this is a fundamental misunderstanding of procrastinators. I know a lot of procrastinators, me foremost among them, and the thing is, we’re incredibly (I do mean incredibly) efficient at doing things when we have to, that is, at the last second. We get so much done it’s insane. The most common sentiment among procrastinators isn’t, “Why didn’t I do this earlier so I could have been more efficient,” but “Why can’t I be as efficient when I’m working ahead of time as I am at the last second?” Seriously, ask procrastinators, and this is what they’ll tell you. For Eric, it’s probably not true, because he’s fundamentally not a procrastinator, and so he can’t relate.
Anyway, for procrastinators like myself, if we work ahead of time, it takes way longer. We just can’t do it, be efficient working ahead of time. We’re just too easily distracted, and what would take us a few hours at the last second takes us dozens of hours when we try to work in advance. I mean, it’s this characteristic that makes us procrastinators. We’re just fundamentally unable / unwilling to work efficiently ahead of time. Again, I’m just saying Eric can’t understand because he’s not one of us.
And of course, Eric’s way is better. It’s better not to be a procrastinator by far. I love how Eric’s experience and mine at Stanford were so far apart. At Stanford he learned study skills? Huh? And how to manage his time? I don’t know, maybe we just took a different CIV, but I didn’t learn that at all. I’m serious, just different worlds.
Anyway, yeah, it’s not good to be a procrastinator, but for those that are so inclined, what Eric says is pretty much not true. We’re much more efficient when we work at the last second, as opposed to well in advance. Far more.
I really don’t understand why I procrastinate. Maybe part of it is knowing I can get away with it. I graduated, got decent grades, and procrastinated my way through it, knowing all the time that I could pull off what I needed to at the last second. I’m sure if I couldn’t do that, I would have been different.
I don’t know, there are just a lot of reasons for it, I guess.
I also don’t buy Eric’s Tyranny of the Urgent thing. Mostly, how something can be urgent without being important. Huh? Explain that to me. If something is urgent, it must be at least somewhat important – it’s impossible for something to be urgent and have no importance. Otherwise just don’t do it. But then, it’s not urgent.
To me, urgency is kind of good because it identifies what’s important. Like I said, it’s impossible for something to be urgent unless it’s somewhat important. And again, as a procrastinator, I kind of need this, it’s what makes me work. It helps me realize what’s important and devote all my energy to it. Without that urgency, it’s just harder for me to be motivated. It sucks.
I think what Eric is saying is not that urgent things aren’t important; that’s almost impossible by definition. It’s not that we shouldn’t do urgent things. It’s just that when we leave things until they become urgent, we don’t do other things that are perhaps equally or more important that never reach a level of urgency. That I buy, not that there are unimportant urgent things.
And yeah, that’s true. Procrastinators are more efficient at the last second, but the problem is we spend the rest of our time not doing important things, but by and large screwing around. That’s not good.
But anyway, I was struck by Eric’s entry how much he’s not a procrastinator at all.