Monday, June 13, 2005

She made it!

(Originally posted on Monday, June 13, 2005 by Tim)

So our Thursday quest to get Cathy to graduation was filled with stress and angst, but mostly successful.

As described in the previous post, we had driven over 4 hours to Dulles Airport to catch a flight that would land us at LAX at 9:30 am. Graduation starts at 10:00 am. We had a very stressful morning. It was so stressful that I can?t actually bring myself to write about it at length. Essentially, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Well no, we didn?t run out of gas.

Here is a quick summary of what went wrong at Dulles Airport on Friday.

1. It took 30 minutes to get from the parking lot to the airport.
2. United?s e-ticket machines didn?t recognize that Cat had a ticket.
3. United?s e-ticket machines brought up ticket information for ?Andre Jahn? when I inserted my credit card.
4. An alert United employee directed us to the wrong line.
5. Cat got her ticket fixed but couldn?t fix mine because I was still holding our place in the ?wrong line?.
6. We missed our flight and got put on one with an arrival time of 10:30 am. Remember, graduation starts at 10 am.

It was really a very awful morning. Yet despite all the forces of fate against her, Cat still managed to get to graduation in time to be officially ?hooded?. The bulk of the credit goes to the Caltech Graduation Czar, Deborah White, and Cat?s Dad?s mad taxi driver skills. Jim literally sped up the sidewalk at Caltech, Cat jumped out the car, and Deborah rushed her over to the podium where she was slipped in as the last person to receive her degree at graduation. The picture above is not one taken by me, but one taken by an official Caltech photographer and posted on the Caltech website. I think that Cat?s expression adequately communicates what she had been through that morning.

In addition to the picture, there?s a whole video of graduation on the Caltech web site. You can download if for viewing here for broadband or here for modem. Rather than make you watch the entire thing, I thought I?d point out the important parts. It?s best to watch this while listening to the theme to Mission Impossible.

Under the section labeled ?Presentation of Doctoral Degrees.?
22:02 Cat runs onto the platform in the upper right hand corner of the screen.
22:06 Deborah on her walkie talkie calling Cat in.
22:15 Cat?s name is discussed in the background.
22:40 Cat gets her hood!
22:50 Someone says, ?You made it!?
22:56 David Baltimore (the President of Caltech) has to chase Cat down to hand over her diploma. For those of you who can?t read lips, she?s says, ?Where do I go??

I think that Cat and I have really bad travel karma and Jim and Carol have really good travel karma. Essentially, once Jim and Carol picked us up, everything started to go right. An example of this can be seen in the ?Introduction to Commencement? section of the video. Note that at 28:40 there is a 65 second ?moment of confusion?. Without this ?moment? David Baltimore would have begun his concluding remarks before Cat arrived.

So that was our Friday morning. The rest of the vacation has been a lot of fun and mostly stress free. I?ll try to post more later in the week.

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