Posting from my own house in Minneapolis; I made the trip home in just about 24 hours door-to-door in the end. Didn't sleep much on the planes, so I've effectively been awake for over 40 hours now. Bright sunlight for over 24 hours will do interesting things to the internal clock. (At least in the Arctic there's a discernible 'midday' and 'midnight' -- whereas thanks to all the flying west I've done today, it's been bouncing around between about noon and 4 pm all day for me.)
In other news, consider me a permanent ex-El Al customer.
My interactions with them today have been nothing short of disastrous, ever since early this morning when the Magic 8-Ball of Terrorist Profiling they use apparently came up red alert on me. They even called in the airport's Director of Security to pop a few (inane) questions my way. Was it the Egyptian visa stamp from my vacation in the Sinai? Did they somehow have a record of my visit to Bethlehem, despite not having visibly taken down my name or any information from me at the time? Or was it just a routine case of random harassment of the not conspicuously Jewish? It's unclear to me, as they are of course not allowed to answer any questions about security procedures.
Long story short, I was declared highly suspicious and was only allowed to board the plane with the clothes I was wearing and a few odds and ends in my pockets. Everything else, including flimsy backpack, two (!) laptops, all my lab books, and various other essentials, they forced me to check. At the last possible moment. Suprise, suprise, not one of my bags showed up at the customs baggage claim in Chicago. El Al is probably still sitting on them, since as of a few hours ago the tags had yet to show up in the Iberia/American/One World Alliance Overmind.
Yes, I'd imagine most of my luggage will make it back to me. But even the American Air baggage agent was shocked that they'd check laptops as luggage, never mind that they did it for me without so much as a by-your-leave. So at this point, I'm mostly just hoping that my advisors' laptop and not mine is the one stolen by the intervening handlers.
So, I have the name of the schlemeil who appears to have been running the show, and once I've actually got my belongings in hand again, I'll be writing sternly worded letters to his boss's bosses. As for the rest of you, if you've ever cared for me at all, never, ever fly El Al.