I probably should break this down into about 3 separate posts. But I'm not going to.
Yesterday's travels went quite smoothly. They were interesting none the less.
It is rare that I'm on a flight through one of the major hubs where I don't see at least one serviceman or woman. Therefore, I wasn't all that surprised to see a soldier on my flight from Atlanta to Birmingham. It was a little odd I thought that he was in dress army greens. Usually most of the guys I see are in 'normal' fatigues. About halfway through our 45 minute flight the pilot got on the speaker and told us we had a special passenger on board today. The young man (I can say this because he was probably no more than 20) was escorting the body of a fallen hero home for the last time. We were asked if we would allow him to deplane first to receive the body of his fellow soldier. A man from first class came back and switched seats with him (the soldier was in about row 10 or so) so that he'd be closer to the door. When we landed, we were again asked to let this young man off first. I saw him get up once we got to the gate. Everyone, except for about 3 people in first class sat stock still until well after the soldier deplaned. There were a few people in the back who briefly heckled the standing people to sit down and show some respect. We were told that the fallen hero would be deplaned on the right side and we could watch. I was seated on the left side and couldn't see much other than the wing. I waited respectfully for a few moments and then deplaned.
I was impressed at how respectful everyone was. You could hear a pin drop it was so quiet. Normally people can't wait to push their way off the plane, especially when 30 or 45 minutes late like we were. Nope, not a muscle moved.
All I could think about was my friend Steve. He's over there now. I want him home in one piece. I know why he's doing what he is, but that doesn't mean I quite understand why he has to. This is his third tour in harm's way since fighting began in Afghanistan or Iraq. I hope all our people come home safe. I also kept thinking to myself 'I was half wondering when I'd be on a flight like this..." It was a very sober flight. Definitely food for thought.
Today's training went well. David, my contact, had originally planned for about 10 people to show up. He'd also scheduled 3 days, an Operator level, an Administrator level and a reporting course. Unfortunately, I didn't check out to see if the reporting course was actually going to be appropriate for him. My reporting course is for the EPA level reports, not the state level. Since this is a lime kiln that I'm working with, they don't fall under the newest, EPA administrated regulations, but the older state enforced regulations. Also, he couldn't schedule any operators, so it was himself and 5 other administrator/reporter/I&C tech type people. Therefore, we managed to go through both the operator and the administrator course today. I'm not sure what I'm doing tomorrow. I may be able to escape early and come home Thursday instead of Friday. I'll enjoy that.
The weather here is nice. Unfortunately, I didn't bring Gak's camera and I haven't found anything to take pictures of anyhow. Although it was kinda surreal at the plant. It was the opposite of a coal plant where everything is dingy and grey. Here, everything is whitewashed and chalky from all the lime powder in the air.
Well, that's about all I have to say tonight. Please, no matter what you think of what's going on in the world, keep the men and women who are fighting on their country's behalf in your thoughts and prayers. They need all the love and support they can get. Hug someone here, they deserve it too. Peace to all and *hugs* from the traveling Ratling.
p.s. I can't take credit for today's picture. A friend from a plant out in Colorado took this a few years back on a camping trip. Thanks Joe!