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Day 2: Detroit. Have mercy. October 23, 2006

Posted by Bill Carroll in Air Travel, Cranbrook Institute of Science, Detroit, Extreme Farewell Tour.

Sunday October 22, 2006
12 PM
Leaving the Detroit Airport

The day started innocently enough, but then it always does.  We rallied at 6:30 to go to the St. Louis airport, and after stacking a cab full of luggage, I slipped into the front passenger’s seat.  I guess the driver hadn’t imagined having someone in the front seat, but I found a bit off-putting the half-full cup of brown liquid with twelve cigarette butts in it that was sloshing perilously in my cup-holder.  I had visions of a brown shower if there were any potholes along the expressway, but it didn’t happen.

When using one of the automatic ticket machines at an airport, you should know that any sentence that begins “For your convenience…” roughly translates to “In order to inconvenience you…”  In this particular case, it read, “For your convenience we have rebooked you to a later flight.”  Say what?

I herded us to the counter and decided not to tell the whole story of the XFT, although the attendant would have been enthralled, I’m sure.  Instead I simply said we had appointments in Detroit and could she explain what was going on with our flight.  What I’m about to tell you makes No Sense Whatsoever, but the reason is because our flight out of Detroit had been cancelled due to a schedule change.  Why that impacted our flight in the morning is a mystery, but with a bit of patience we were back on the early flight.

Or rather, we were booked on that flight.  As we made our way to security, we stood at the back of a 45 minute line.  But since we arrived an hour and a half early, and paragraph 3 only took twenty minutes, we still had time.

Not everyone was so fortunate.  The man in front of me still had 20 minutes of line and 20 minutes before his flight.  He went up to plead his case.  I saw him 20 minutes later sitting next to the screener, despondent.  I tell this story in order to illustrate a fine point of the security system.  If you ever look down at your boarding pass and see “SSSSSSSS” it means you have been randomly selected for full dress review (or undress as the case may be.)  This process disassembles all of your bags and searches you in that intimate sort of way.  He had the infamous “SSSSSSSS” and was dead in the water.

The current procedure allows you to take liquids through security only if a) the individual containers are 3 ounces or less and b) they all fit in a one-quart Ziploc bag.  Dennis has a clear vinyl zipper bag and has been testing the Ziploc-only rule.  He has passed the first two flights after some close questioning—especially in St. Louis, but more on this later.

Judith at Mickey D’sWe got to Detroit, rented the car and off we went.  Lunch was a fast stop at McDonalds, and we maxed out on Monopoly pieces with a chicken sandwich meal and a couple of ancillary drinks.  We are now in proud possession of an instant winner small drink, and various other bits of trash that may eventually prove useful.  Judith did not eat all her Large Fries.

Since Judith would be relinquishing her title as HOT after this stop (well, really she’s more of a Handler on Tour, Taking In Everything or HOTTIE) we let her pick the music.

What’s In The Player:  “Judith’s Workout Mix” or “Tunes for Elliptical Trainer and Water Bottle.” This is particularly pertinent with the large order of fries steaming away in the front seat.  Good stuff—mix of old Motown and relatively new dance; ranging from Michael McDonald to Black-Eyed Peas; Dexy’s Midnight Runners to Eiffel 65.  The second CD was Madonna’s first album, which contained the hits Holiday, Borderline and Lucky Star.  This 1983 offering was a middle school favorite of Judith’s and really showed me no evidence that Madonna would have the star longevity she turned out to have.

Sunday, 7 PM
Detroit Airport

Another dynamite afternoon.  The Detroit Section’s annual event was held at the Cranbrook Institute of Science.  Established in 1930, it is first a natural history museum, housing a great collection of minerals and paleontology artifacts.  The Institute is part of a spacious green campus that is home to other institutes and a number of schools.

Denise Grimsley of BASF is NCW chair.  She greeted us and escorted us first to the bullpen where donuts, sodas and various other essential nutrients were housed.  Still being full from the fries, we went to the auditorium where the University of Detroit Mercy Chem Club was preparing for its Chemistry Magic show.  Professors Mark Benvenuto and Matt Mio presided.

Gina Ludwig of Henkel took the initiative to alert Senator Debbie Stabinow’s office, and a member of her staff extended her greetings to the crowd.  This particular show was a great learning experience for both presenters and audience because there were numerous glitches in the first show, and the students came through like pros.  The kids loved it.

Tiger BillDetroit is as nuts about baseball right now as St. Louis is, which is not surprising.  In an obvious and appreciated attempt to co-opt me, Mark invested me with a Tigers home jersey, which I wore during the afternoon and for all the pictures.  I traded an official XFT t-shirt, which of course does not represent any kind of a championship, but we like ‘em.

There were a number of other schools represented: Wayne State, Oakland County Community College, Lawrence Technical University and the Roeper School.  BASF and Henkel were out in force, and volunteers from GE Plastics and Ash Stevens also did hands-on science with the hundreds of parents and kids present.  There were experiments from the NCW tip sheet for this year and previous years.  You keep thinking these things can’t get any better, and then they do.  And two more slime recipes.

At 4 we were off in the car back to the airport.  There was yet a nasty little mission to be accomplished.  We still had to exchange our Northwest tickets for the cancelled flight.  We had backed up reservations with United, and were given seats, but the agent let us know in no uncertain terms that we were considered refugees and if any bona fide United passengers showed up, well, we would be removed from the plane.  Whatever.

I passed security with no problem, drawing compliments for my correct use of the Ziploc bag.  Dennis’ 1 liter—not 1 quart; vinyl not polyethylene, zipper—not Ziploc bag was called into question, and he was sternly lectured that with heightened need for security such deviations from standard issue could simply not be tolerated.  He was advised in the future to get religion on this—and a Ziploc bag.  There may now be an all-airports bulletin to be on the lookout for him.

So we’re off to Chicago.  It’s an early call tomorrow as LaTrease Garrison joins us for the longest driving day of the trip.



1. Marisa - October 23, 2006

…And we reminded everyone about the quart-sized bag requirement at our pre-tour meeting! Alas, there’s always one that’s got to test the limits! 🙂 So, Bill, you’ll be tired of McDonald’s by the time I take over as “Handler”, right?!!! Have fun on your long road trip today, and thanks for celebrating NCW Xtremely!

2. Howard Peters - October 23, 2006

Happy Mole Day.
CHAL will be starting the Avagadro Society soon.
He was a lawyer before he was a chemist.
So was Lavoisier, but then he lost his head over it.

3. Bill Carroll - October 24, 2006


By definition, we’re not tired of McDonalds until we win the $5MM. You can throw the food away or send it to relatives but WE NEED THE GAME PIECES.


CHAL defines cutting edge, whether heads are involved or not.

Great to see you last weekend.


4. Christine - October 24, 2006

Leave it to Dennis to provide such entertainment. Please don’t let them take him away… I need him back here in the office!

And so what sort of tour will there be when you win the $5MM? 🙂

5. Bill Carroll - October 24, 2006


We’re going to dress him up and send him back tonight. As to the $5MM, since we haven’t won it yet, we’re planning on donating it to Project SEED. Of course, if we did win, some might be tempted to launch the Extreme Escape Tour, but not us.


6. LaTrease - October 24, 2006

Dennis is headed back–a little frazzled, dazzed and confused but I think he’ll be up to the challenge of another work day! Thanks Denise (and Kate S.)–you guys are great!

7. Ted Gast - October 24, 2006

GO CARDS!!!!!!!!

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