It was back in Dallas in mid-December. Air travel from and to Omaha is tricky at this time of the year, especially when your scheduled ride did not dead-head in Omaha the night before. We arrived at Eppley Air Field just before noon, and learned quickly that our flight was delayed 45 minutes. In a very short time, we went from delayed to cancelled. The weather outside was frightful, but in surrounding states even worse. Our scheduled ride to Love Field was not getting to Omaha.

Well, no one cracked up. Folks just got in line to make their route and time changes, with the usual muffled conversations about the weather in Chicago, St. Louis, or elsewhere having some effect on travel plans. The lines that formed up reminded me of the instances when cattle line up and head toward “the barn” when it’s time to be fed. I did not like the vibe in the line, so I wandered off for a short walk. Janet hopped on the Southwest website and snagged up a flight for early in the evening. A kind agent in another line gave us boarding passes. Of course, “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls” were playing in the background, but it’s hard to get into the spirit when your flight has been cancelled. I’ve sometimes wondered why there isn’t a shift away from holiday music when there are a bunch of flight delays and cancellations. Wouldn’t Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” work much better? I like that song, even though it has been much overplayed in the last three years.

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While we had time to leave the airport and return, a below zero wind chill convinced us not to go. There was food and drink to be found along with a growing crowd (more delays and cancellations) of people who apparently had taken their medications before heading to the airport. The complaint level was low, and quiet, and the gate agents were real champs that day. One dog got a bit surly, a bark here and there, but the outbreak was short-lived. Perhaps a tasty bit of pizza or even some beer had a role in distracting the agitated hound.

Extended time in the airport means, for me, extra time for reading and too much time for directionless thinking. After catching up with local, national, and international news, including the latest tweets from the President-Elect, I began to wonder about how many songs there were with cold in the title or being cold as a theme (yes, it was very cold outside). So, in short order, I was back to my iPad to find a list of such songs. And, I found:

  • Cold Sweat (James Brown) – my favorite
  • Funky Cold Medina (Tone Loc)
  • Cold as Ice (Foreigner)
  • Cold, Cold, Cold (Little Feat)
  • Stone Cold (Rainbow)
  • Cold Blooded (Rick James)
  • Cold Beer with Your Name on It (Josh Thompson)
  • Hot Beer and Cold Women (Randy Houser)
  • She Shook Me Cold (David Bowie)
  • Out in the Cold (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)

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After another delay, or two, we were airborne, arriving at Love Field just after 10:45 pm. As we headed toward the rental car van, I was not too tired to observe that the Love Field Whataburger was closed (make a note of that). The rides to the rental car desk and my sister’s house were uneventful, although I did learn of a fight that broke out in the Ft. Lauderdale airport (among family members! fist were flying) that was somehow linked to a flight delay. Anyway. We arrived at my sister’s, 11:30 pm, twelve hours after first arriving at Eppley Airfield, well more than the time needed to drive from Omaha to Dallas.

So, now to the guy in the red hoodie. After a Sunday morning breakfast at Cindy’s, our favorite breakfast place stop in north Dallas, we decided to drive over to Grapevine Lake to take a look at a housing development on the lake. Old downtown Grapevine is a very cool place, with restored buildings, good restaurants, plenty of holiday decorations and an appreciation of its history. Seeing old Grapevine remind me of the days before the construction and operation of DFW. The town and the lake are on the north end of the air field.

I was driving toward the lake and there was a lot of conversation going on, when out of the corner of my eye, my right eye not my left, I saw something you do not see on the streets of Nebraska. My passengers did not see “it”, so when I told them that the guy in the red hoodie we just passed by was packing, they responded that I had to be wrong. I told them that they were busy talking and I was just doing what I do, noticing the stuff around me. They chuckled, and I responded that I would turn the vehicle around so that they could see what I had observed. Sure enough, a mid-20s guy in dark pants (black) and a red hoodie had an automatic weapon strapped over his shoulder and a pistol on his hip (I did not notice the pistol on the first pass).

My sister soon stated that especially since the killings at Sandy Hook she had promised herself that if she saw something like this that bothered her she would call the police, and she did. While open carry is legal in Texas and in other states, seeing it when you live in a place where it does not occur certainly gets your attention. On our third pass, the last one, we noticed that the guy was jogging a bit, then he hid behind a tree, and then moved on down a different street. We hung back after that thinking that we did not want to be his first targets of the day.

The police, four cars, arrived too late, the red hoodie guy was gone and could not be found. We talked to them, described what we had observed, and it appeared to us that they were concerned. Think about this:

  • Open carry is legal, and red hoodie man was not breaking a law
  • Red hoodie man was engaged in some suspicious behavior (in our opinion, hiding behind a tree and jogging, remember he’s packing)
  • Perhaps the “weapons” were an air rifle designed to look like an automatic weapon, along with an air pistol (we don’t know, who else would know?)
  • If you are a police officer, how do you approach this individual? This is legal behavior, but…

Later that day we were in AT&T stadium to watch the Cowboys play the Bucs. The Cowboys prevailed 26-20. Jerry Jones’ house is big, too big for me. We sat in section 451, aka the nosebleed section. Aren’t aliens kept in Area 451? The seats are not inexpensive either, yet when looking down, the field appears to be occupied by big ants in uniforms. If you sit up that high, you end up spending most of the time looking at the giant screen, not much different from your home TV. The screen is so dominant that the crowd is laid back until cheerleaders or Michael Irvin comes on the screen urging the crowd to cheer. Cowboy fans are loyal and vocal, but that stadium (at least for the folks sitting up high) has no soul, no crowd spontaneity. After spending consecutive weeks watching the Bucs play New Orleans (home) and Dallas (away), give me Raymond James stadium with its crazy fans and exciting environment.

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