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Surviving a Texas Storm

April, 2002

April, 2002, LOS ANGELES - The stern new security procedures at airports are not the only cause of travel traumas. There still is good old Mother Nature to compound the challenges. And she can be fiercely punishing.

I was the keynote speaker at a session of the annual convention of the National Association of Elementary School Principals in San Antonio, Texas. It was a huge gathering of about 9,000 people and my address had been well received. I must confess, I felt a smug sense of self-satisfaction with a job well done as I was driven back to the San Antonio airport. It had been showering lightly for the past two days but the highway was now starting to slowly dry off. I arrived more than two hours before my flight was scheduled to depart for Los Angeles so that I could comfortably navigate the strict new security checks. But security turned out to be a piece of cake. I sailed through without a glitch. The only bit of slowdown was when a couple of security attendants recognized me and I stopped to sign a few autographs.

I checked in, got my boarding passes to Dallas/Fort Worth connecting on to Los Angeles, and settled in with a copy of the New York Times. At 3 p.m., half an hour before the scheduled departure time, I gathered near the gate with others to await the boarding announcement. Nothing happened. 3:15 came and went with no boarding. The scheduled departure time came and we were still crowded around the gate. At 3:40, the announcement came. There was a storm headed our way and all flights had been temporarily grounded. However, airline officials assured us, as soon as we were cleared, the plane would be immediately available for boarding, and we would take off -- so we were told not to leave the gate area. The tension that swept through the crowd was palpable. I looked out the glass wall and saw that the sky was cloudy but spotty patches of blue could be seen. I speculated that they wouldn't keep us grounded for too long. I assumed that this delay was just precautionary.

At 4 o'clock, the public address system announced that we were still grounded but that there would be half-hour updates so do not leave the gate area. By this time the churning clouds had crowded out any patch of visible blue sky. Eyes began flashing alarmed looks at each other. But I had flown through storms before. This grizzled traveler didn't think there was any need for undue agitation. But I thought I should at least inform my business manager in Los Angeles that my arrival home would now most probably be delayed.

When I reached my manager on my cell phone, I could hear the alarm in his voice. He told me that his computer airline schedule was telling him that the Dallas/Fort Worth airport was also shut down because of the approaching storm. It looked bad. My connecting flight to Los Angeles had also been grounded.

I looked out the glass wall. Those churning clouds had turned much darker now. I began to feel uneasy about getting on that plane and barreling into those ominous-looking clouds. I'd better find another routing to get back home, I thought. I looked toward the gate clerk's counter and saw a long line forming of people with panic in their eyes. As an experienced traveler, I told myself, I'm not about to be stampeded by the hysteria. I knew how to avoid that crowd. With feigned self-assurance, I grabbed my rolling luggage and began striding for the main terminal ticket counter. It seemed, however, a good number of other people also had the same idea. Exactly what I was trying to avoid. Everybody was coming down the corridor right behind me. I blew whatever cool I had been faking. I began trotting with my luggage bouncing along behind me to stay ahead of the others. When I got to the main ticket desk, a horde of people were already there, yelling and demanding that they absolutely had to get home NOW! It is at times like this that I will be eternally grateful for First Class tickets. There were only two people waiting in the red-carpeted line.

When my turn came, the attendant in front of me seemed almost as frenzied looking as some of the passengers. He had thinning frizzy brown hair and he peered intensely at my flight itinerary through heavy, ringed Coke bottle spectacles. But, he was good. "Try Albuquerque as my connection -- or El Paso," I suggested desperately. "Or Las Vegas." His fingers clicked away at the keyboard like a woodpecker's beak. When they were no good, I spat out, "Try Salt Lake City?" No good. "What about San Francisco?" None worked. They were already all booked up. "But I've got to be back by tomorrow. I have a very important meeting," I pleaded. I could almost see him thinking, "So does everyone else." But he soldiered on silently intent, his eyes fixed on his computer screen. Suddenly, his eyes popped wide and his glasses almost jumped up. "How about through Phoenix at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning?" he asked. "I'll take it," I replied. "But it's on another airline," he warned. "I'd fly you guys because I like you," I assured him, "but your birds ain't flying. A bird in hand is better than a bird on the ground," I quipped now smug again. How quickly my desperation had faded. "But it doesn't go to LAX," he added. "It lands at Long Beach Airport." "That's close enough. I want that flight," I insisted. I had a way home now - but at 6 a.m. in the morning! That meant that I now had to get a hotel room near the airport. I had a new challenge. I know from anguished past experiences how quickly airport hotels can fill to capacity at times like this.

I rushed to the airport hotel-listing wall with a bank of telephones. The first one I tried was already full. Anxiously, I called the next one. I lucked out with the second. I hurried out of the terminal to a now lightly raining airport landscape. The front of the storm was arriving. I dove into a taxi and rushed over. Thankfully, the hotel was only about five minutes from the airport. It looked like a glorified motel from the outside, but the atmosphere in the lobby was almost like the airport. Frantic people and a screaming baby surrounded the reception desk. The room I finally got was the last available at the hotel. I had to get up early to catch my 6 a.m. flight back so I asked for a 3:30 a.m. wake up call and went up to my room.

Once I laid down on the bed, hunger gripped my exhausted body. I was famished. But the hotel had no restaurant or room-service. Fortunately, I remembered that I'd saved the bag of peanuts and the bag of pretzels from my two flight legs on my way to San Antonio. Munching on pretzels, I turned on the television. "60 Minutes" was on. It's one of my favorite shows. I had written off catching the show because of the travel, but, thanks to this disaster, at least I wouldn't miss tonight's show. I was getting into the program when suddenly the screen was filled with the bold words, WEATHER WARNING.

An ominous voice intoned that a thunderstorm was headed toward Uvalde County with the possibility of tornadoes. Everyone was ordered to stay indoors in a safe part of the house. Then a map flashed on. Uvalde was just west of San Antonio and the storm was headed directly at us, east of Uvalde. "60 Minutes" then came back on but now, at the bottom of the screen, was a continuing scroll with weather updates. Trying to read the scroll and, at the same time, focus on the program, I tried getting back into the show. Suddenly, the WEATHER WARNING sign again broke in. The voice reported that hail the size of baseballs was now falling in Uvalde. The order to stay indoors was urgently repeated. It was getting bad, but I realized I had to get up at 3:30. I had better get some sleep. I muted the television so that I could read just the weather updates and turned out the lights. But I couldn't fall asleep. I kept tossing and turning. Suddenly, the entire room lit up electric white. I bolted up from bed. What was that? Then the room trembled with a horrendous crashing sound like the sky ripping apart. A beat later, a sheet of rain, almost like an ocean wave, slapped at the window. It was followed again by another slap with another flash of lightening. It was terrorizing. It was the same terror I felt as a child in the internment camp in Arkansas. Those Arkansas thunderstorms were the most frightening of my childhood experiences. The storm continued for most of the night. Just as it finally began to calm down and I started to doze, the phone rang. It was my automated 3:30 wake up call.

The hotel had promised that there would be a shuttle service to the airport at 15-minute intervals in the morning. The storm had passed but the street was glistening with rain. I waited under the canopy in front of the hotel entrance. A mini-bus, already filled with passengers and luggage, rolled up. There was just enough space for me to board. The driver announced, however, that there would be one more hotel stop where he had to pick up passengers before heading for the airport. There were about half a dozen sleepy looking people waiting there. Our bus could barely take only one or two more. The ones that forced themselves onboard were two out-of-shape women huffing and puffing with effort. The other waiting people would have to take the next bus. The cramped ride from there to the airport was the last ordeal. The check-in went unexpectedly smoothly. Although I was chosen for the special security check, where I had to take my shoes off, open my luggage, and be "wanded" all over, it seemed like nothing after the trauma I'd already endured. The take off was uneventful and landing in radiantly sunny Phoenix, Arizona, was a joy. But, the happiest was landing at Long Beach Airport. I was home! At last!

After a trip like that, I can't tell you how fervently I pray for the early invention of that Star Trek travel mode called "beaming."

People Reveal The Weirdest Thing About Themselves

Reddit user Isitjustmedownhere asked: 'Give an example; how weird are you really?'

Let's get one thing straight: no one is normal. We're all weird in our own ways, and that is actually normal.

Of course, that doesn't mean we don't all have that one strange trait or quirk that outweighs all the other weirdness we possess.

For me, it's the fact that I'm almost 30 years old, and I still have an imaginary friend. Her name is Sarah, she has red hair and green eyes, and I strongly believe that, since I lived in India when I created her and there were no actual people with red hair around, she was based on Daphne Blake from Scooby-Doo.

I also didn't know the name Sarah when I created her, so that came later. I know she's not really there, hence the term 'imaginary friend,' but she's kind of always been around. We all have conversations in our heads; mine are with Sarah. She keeps me on task and efficient.

My mom thinks I'm crazy that I still have an imaginary friend, and writing about her like this makes me think I may actually be crazy, but I don't mind. As I said, we're all weird, and we all have that one trait that outweighs all the other weirdness.

Redditors know this all too well and are eager to share their weird traits.

It all started when Redditor Isitjustmedownhere asked:

"Give an example; how weird are you really?"

Monsters Under My Bed

"My bed doesn't touch any wall."

"Edit: I guess i should clarify im not rich."

– Practical_Eye_3600

"Gosh the monsters can get you from any angle then."

– bikergirlr7

"At first I thought this was a flex on how big your bedroom is, but then I realized you're just a psycho 😁"

– zenOFiniquity8

Can You See Why?

"I bought one of those super-powerful fans to dry a basement carpet. Afterwards, I realized that it can point straight up and that it would be amazing to use on myself post-shower. Now I squeegee my body with my hands, step out of the shower and get blasted by a wide jet of room-temp air. I barely use my towel at all. Wife thinks I'm weird."

– KingBooRadley


"In 1990 when I was 8 years old and bored on a field trip, I saw a black Oldsmobile Cutlass driving down the street on a hot day to where you could see that mirage like distortion from the heat on the road. I took a “snapshot” by blinking my eyes and told myself “I wonder how long I can remember this image” ….well."

– AquamarineCheetah

"Even before smartphones, I always take "snapshots" by blinking my eyes hoping I'll remember every detail so I can draw it when I get home. Unfortunately, I may have taken so much snapshots that I can no longer remember every detail I want to draw."

"Makes me think my "memory is full.""

– Reasonable-Pirate902

Same, Same

"I have eaten the same lunch every day for the past 4 years and I'm not bored yet."

– OhhGoood

"How f**king big was this lunch when you started?"

– notmyrealnam3

Not Sure Who Was Weirder

"Had a line cook that worked for us for 6 months never said much. My sous chef once told him with no context, "Baw wit da baw daw bang daw bang diggy diggy." The guy smiled, left, and never came back."

– Frostygrunt


"I pace around my house for hours listening to music imagining that I have done all the things I simply lack the brain capacity to do, or in some really bizarre scenarios, I can really get immersed in these imaginations sometimes I don't know if this is some form of schizophrenia or what."

– RandomSharinganUser

"I do the same exact thing, sometimes for hours. When I was young it would be a ridiculous amount of time and many years later it’s sort of trickled off into almost nothing (almost). It’s weird but I just thought it’s how my brain processes sh*t."

– Kolkeia

If Only

"Even as an adult I still think that if you are in a car that goes over a cliff; and right as you are about to hit the ground if you jump up you can avoid the damage and will land safely. I know I'm wrong. You shut up. I'm not crying."

– ShotCompetition2593

Pet Food

"As a kid I would snack on my dog's Milkbones."

– drummerskillit

"Haha, I have a clear memory of myself doing this as well. I was around 3 y/o. Needless to say no one was supervising me."

– Isitjustmedownhere

"When I was younger, one of my responsibilities was to feed the pet fish every day. Instead, I would hide under the futon in the spare bedroom and eat the fish food."

– -GateKeep-

My Favorite Subject

"I'm autistic and have always had a thing for insects. My neurotypical best friend and I used to hang out at this local bar to talk to girls, back in the late 90s. One time he claimed that my tendency to circle conversations back to insects was hurting my game. The next time we went to that bar (with a few other friends), he turned and said sternly "No talking about bugs. Or space, or statistics or other bullsh*t but mainly no bugs." I felt like he was losing his mind over nothing."

"It was summer, the bar had its windows open. Our group hit it off with a group of young ladies, We were all chatting and having a good time. I was talking to one of these girls, my buddy was behind her facing away from me talking to a few other people."

"A cloudless sulphur flies in and lands on little thing that holds coasters."

"Cue Jordan Peele sweating gif."

"The girl notices my tension, and asks if I am looking at the leaf. "Actually, that's a lepidoptera called..." I looked at the back of my friend's head, he wasn't looking, "I mean a butterfly..." I poked it and it spread its wings the girl says "oh that's a BUG?!" and I still remember my friend turning around slowly to look at me with chastisement. The ONE thing he told me not to do."

"I was 21, and was completely not aware that I already had a rep for being an oddball. It got worse from there."

– Phormicidae

*Teeth Chatter*

"I bite ice cream sometimes."


"That's how I am with popsicles. My wife shudders every single time."


Never Speak Of This

"I put ice in my milk."


"You should keep that kind of thing to yourself. Even when asked."

– We-R-Doomed

"There's some disturbing sh*t in this thread, but this one takes the cake."

– RatonaMuffin

More Than Super Hearing

"I can hear the television while it's on mute."

– Tira13e

"What does it say to you, child?"

– Mama_Skip


"I put mustard on my omelettes."

– Deleted User


– NotCrustOr-filling

Evened Up

"Whenever I say a word and feel like I used a half of my mouth more than the other half, I have to even it out by saying the word again using the other half of my mouth more. If I don't do it correctly, that can go on forever until I feel it's ok."

"I do it silently so I don't creep people out."

– LesPaltaX

"That sounds like a symptom of OCD (I have it myself). Some people with OCD feel like certain actions have to be balanced (like counting or making sure physical movements are even). You should find a therapist who specializes in OCD, because they can help you."

– MoonlightKayla

I totally have the same need for things to be balanced! Guess I'm weird and a little OCD!

Close up face of a woman in bed, staring into the camera
Photo by Jen Theodore

Experiencing death is a fascinating and frightening idea.

Who doesn't want to know what is waiting for us on the other side?

But so many of us want to know and then come back and live a little longer.

It would be so great to be sure there is something else.

But the whole dying part is not that great, so we'll have to rely on other people's accounts.

Redditor AlaskaStiletto wanted to hear from everyone who has returned to life, so they asked:

"Redditors who have 'died' and come back to life, what did you see?"


Happy Good Vibes GIF by Major League SoccerGiphy

"My dad's heart stopped when he had a heart attack and he had to be brought back to life. He kept the paper copy of the heart monitor which shows he flatlined. He said he felt an overwhelming sensation of peace, like nothing he had felt before."



"I had surgical complications in 2010 that caused a great deal of blood loss. As a result, I had extremely low blood pressure and could barely stay awake. I remember feeling like I was surrounded by loved ones who had passed. They were in a circle around me and I knew they were there to guide me onwards. I told them I was not ready to go because my kids needed me and I came back."

"My nurse later said she was afraid she’d find me dead every time she came into the room."

"It took months, and blood transfusions, but I recovered."


Take Me Back

"Overwhelming peace and happiness. A bright airy and floating feeling. I live a very stressful life. Imagine finding out the person you have had a crush on reveals they have the same feelings for you and then you win the lotto later that day - that was the feeling I had."

"I never feared death afterward and am relieved when I hear of people dying after suffering from an illness."



The Light Minnie GIF by (G)I-DLEGiphy

"I had a heart surgery with near-death experience, for me at least (well the possibility that those effects are caused by morphine is also there) I just saw black and nothing else but it was warm and I had such inner peace, its weird as I sometimes still think about it and wish this feeling of being so light and free again."


This is why I hate surgery.

You just never know.



"More of a near-death experience. I was electrocuted. I felt like I was in a deep hole looking straight up in the sky. My life flashed before me. Felt sad for my family, but I had a deep sense of peace."



"Nursing in the ICU, we’ve had people try to die on us many times during the years, some successfully. One guy stood out to me. His heart stopped. We called a code, are working on him, and suddenly he comes to. We hadn’t vented him yet, so he was able to talk, and he started screaming, 'Don’t let them take me, don’t let them take me, they are coming,' he was scared and yelling."

"Then he yelled a little more, as we tried to calm him down, he screamed, 'No, No,' and gestured towards the end of the bed, and died again. We didn’t get him back. It was seriously creepy. We called his son to tell him the news, and the son said basically, 'Good, he was an SOB.'”



"My sister died and said it was extremely peaceful. She said it was very loud like a train station and lots of talking and she was stuck in this area that was like a curtain with lots of beautiful colors (colors that you don’t see in real life according to her) a man told her 'He was sorry, but she had to go back as it wasn’t her time.'"


"I had a really similar experience except I was in an endless garden with flowers that were colors I had never seen before. It was quiet and peaceful and a woman in a dress looked at me, shook her head, and just said 'Not yet.' As I was coming back, it was extremely loud, like everyone in the world was trying to talk all at once. It was all very disorienting but it changed my perspective on life!"


The Fog

"I was in a gray fog with a girl who looked a lot like a young version of my grandmother (who was still alive) but dressed like a pioneer in the 1800s she didn't say anything but kept pulling me towards an opening in the wall. I kept refusing to go because I was so tired."

"I finally got tired of her nagging and went and that's when I came to. I had bled out during a c-section and my heart could not beat without blood. They had to deliver the baby and sew up the bleeders. refill me with blood before they could restart my heart so, like, at least 12 minutes gone."


Through the Walls

"My spouse was dead for a couple of minutes one miserable night. She maintains that she saw nothing, but only heard people talking about her like through a wall. The only thing she remembers for absolute certain was begging an ER nurse that she didn't want to die."

"She's quite alive and well today."


Well let's all be happy to be alive.

It seems to be all we have.

Man's waist line
Santhosh Vaithiyanathan/Unsplash

Trying to lose weight is a struggle understood by many people regardless of size.

The goal of reaching a healthy weight may seem unattainable, but with diet and exercise, it can pay off through persistence and discipline.

Seeing the pounds gradually drop off can also be a great motivator and incentivize people to stay the course.

Those who've achieved their respective weight goals shared their experiences when Redditor apprenti8455 asked:

"People who lost a lot of weight, what surprises you the most now?"

Redditors didn't see these coming.

Shiver Me Timbers

"I’m always cold now!"

– Telrom_1

"I had a coworker lose over 130 pounds five or six years ago. I’ve never seen him without a jacket on since."

– r7ndom

"140 lbs lost here starting just before COVID, I feel like that little old lady that's always cold, damn this top comment was on point lmao."

– mr_remy

Drawing Concern

"I lost 100 pounds over a year and a half but since I’m old(70’s) it seems few people comment on it because (I think) they think I’m wasting away from some terminal illness."

– dee-fondy

"Congrats on the weight loss! It’s honestly a real accomplishment 🙂"

"Working in oncology, I can never comment on someone’s weight loss unless I specifically know it was on purpose, regardless of their age. I think it kind of ruffles feathers at times, but like I don’t want to congratulate someone for having cancer or something. It’s a weird place to be in."

– LizardofDeath

Unleashing Insults

"I remember when I lost the first big chunk of weight (around 50 lbs) it was like it gave some people license to talk sh*t about the 'old' me. Old coworkers, friends, made a lot of not just negative, but harsh comments about what I used to look like. One person I met after the big loss saw a picture of me prior and said, 'Wow, we wouldn’t even be friends!'”

"It wasn’t extremely common, but I was a little alarmed by some of the attention. My weight has been up and down since then, but every time I gain a little it gets me a little down thinking about those things people said."

– alanamablamaspama

Not Everything Goes After Losing Weight

"The loose skin is a bit unexpected."

– KeltarCentauri

"I haven’t experienced it myself, but surgery to remove skin takes a long time to recover. Longer than bariatric surgery and usually isn’t covered by insurance unless you have both."

– KatMagic1977

"It definitely does take a long time to recover. My Dad dropped a little over 200 pounds a few years back and decided to go through with skin removal surgery to deal with the excess. His procedure was extensive, as in he had skin taken from just about every part of his body excluding his head, and he went through hell for weeks in recovery, and he was bedridden for a lot of it."

– Jaew96

These Redditors shared their pleasantly surprising experiences.


"I can buy clothes in any store I want."

– WaySavvyD

"When I lost weight I was dying to go find cute, smaller clothes and I really struggled. As someone who had always been restricted to one or two stores that catered to plus-sized clothing, a full mall of shops with items in my size was daunting. Too many options and not enough knowledge of brands that were good vs cheap. I usually went home pretty frustrated."

– ganache98012

No More Symptoms

"Lost about 80 pounds in the past year and a half, biggest thing that I’ve noticed that I haven’t seen mentioned on here yet is my acid reflux and heartburn are basically gone. I used to be popping tums every couple hours and now they just sit in the medicine cabinet collecting dust."

– colleennicole93

Expanding Capabilities

"I'm all for not judging people by their appearance and I recognise that there are unhealthy, unachievable beauty standards, but one thing that is undeniable is that I can just do stuff now. Just stamina and flexibility alone are worth it, appearance is tertiary at best."

– Ramblonius

People Change Their Tune

"How much nicer people are to you."

"My feet weren't 'wide' they were 'fat.'"

– LiZZygsu

"Have to agree. Lost 220 lbs, people make eye contact and hold open doors and stuff"

"And on the foot thing, I also lost a full shoe size numerically and also wear regular width now 😅"

– awholedamngarden

It's gonna take some getting used to.

Bones Everywhere

"Having bones. Collarbones, wrist bones, knee bones, hip bones, ribs. I have so many bones sticking out everywhere and it’s weird as hell."

– Princess-Pancake-97

"I noticed the shadow of my ribs the other day and it threw me, there’s a whole skeleton in here."

– bekastrange

Knee Pillow

"Right?! And they’re so … pointy! Now I get why people sleep with pillows between their legs - the knee bones laying on top of each other (side sleeper here) is weird and jarring."

– snic2030

"I lost only 40 pounds within the last year or so. I’m struggling to relate to most of these comments as I feel like I just 'slimmed down' rather than dropped a ton. But wow, the pillow between the knees at night. YES! I can relate to this. I think a lot of my weight was in my thighs. I never needed to do this up until recently."

– Strongbad23

More Mobility

"I’ve lost 100 lbs since 2020. It’s a collection of little things that surprise me. For at least 10 years I couldn’t put on socks, or tie my shoes. I couldn’t bend over and pick something up. I couldn’t climb a ladder to fix something. Simple things like that I can do now that fascinate me."

"Edit: Some additional little things are sitting in a chair with arms, sitting in a booth in a restaurant, being able to shop in a normal store AND not needing to buy the biggest size there, being able to easily wipe my butt, and looking down and being able to see my penis."

– dma1965

People making significant changes, whether for mental or physical health, can surely find a newfound perspective on life.

But they can also discover different issues they never saw coming.

That being said, overcoming any challenge in life is laudable, especially if it leads to gaining confidence and ditching insecurities.