Ron Halbrook and I arrived safely in Manila, and are preparing to depart for Angeles City where our first set of classes will begin tomorrow. The flight from Houston to Manila went fine. I was able to study for upcoming classes, send several emails (see below), and catch a few winks. This trip involved more than 24 hours from start to finish. By the end, discomfort was pronounced. However, a good night’s sleep accomplished wonders. Running 10 km on the motel treadmill helped with aching joints and stiffness.
Government. On the second leg of our trip, as we were boarding the plane from Detroit to Japan, US Customs Agents were persistent in questioning various passengers about the amount of funds they were carrying. Law permits passengers to travel w/ large sums, but if you carry more than $10,000 USD, you must declare it. Failure to do so can result in the forfeiture of said funds. I was asked how much money I was carrying and how long I was staying in the Philippines. I honestly and accurately answered those questions. The agent replied, “Are you sure?” I looked him in the eyes and said, “Yes.” He sent me on my way with no further questioning. In contrast, two women were detained because they kept changing their story. I suppose there is a good reason for such procedures, but it felt like another case of intimidation by an intrusive Big Brother.
Take-off. Instead of a dramatic lurch forward, the Boeing 747-400 lumbers down the runway like a 350 lb. linebacker, leaving passengers to wonder if the plane will actually lift off the ground. According to Answers.com, the maximum gross takeoff weight of a 747-400 is approximately 900,000 pounds. Despite requiring a much longer runway than the smaller jets used in domestic flights, speed gradually increases until this big bird gently and gracefully takes flight. Amazing.
Communication. How much do we value communication? United Airlines offered 24 hours of in-flight internet access for $16. I purchased this add-on, hoping it would increase productivity on a very long flight. Unfortunately, this special did not include international flights. Pricing jumps to $50 for that privilege. Needless to say, I declined the offer. However, this got me to thinking, “How much do we value communication?” Based upon the way folks walk around w/ nose-prints on their iPhones, oblivious to their actual surroundings, you would think it would rate pretty high. How much time do you spend on Facebook, checking email, or sending text messages? How much time do you spend actually talking to those you love? What about your relationship with God? Do you communicate with him regularly and often?
Gotta go for now. Love to all. Later, Gator. Yours, Mark