As we ate breakfast at the kitchen counter, Carol and I fixated on the TV in the corner. CNN was reporting, ad nauseam, on the foiled terrorist plot in the UK. An innovative plan for mass murder on commercial airliners had become part of terrorist ingenuity. For those of you who are familiar with Bomb Making 101, the plan was horrifyingly simple. The threat from nail clippers would now be taking a back seat to toothpaste. Many of us airline-types had expressed concerns over the possibility of exploding luggage, but very few had considered the latest twist on the theme. Even though I had kept the thought of a cargo explosion in a dark corner of my mind, I was still taken by surprise. Now reality was plotting an ugly course. I would be flying to Europe on this day. Even an armed cockpit couldn't defend itself from this latest scheme. For only a brief moment, Carol and I discussed the possibility of me not taking the trip. But it was a feeble notion. If I hadn't taken the trip then someone else would have faced the same apprehensions. It might as well be me. I smiled and shrugged my shoulders and then hugged Carol goodbye. We looked into each other's eyes for a brief moment. Nothing had to be said. I gathered my collection of black bags and lumbered up the walkway to our driveway. I started my truck and began the drive from our home in Connecticut to JFK. An hour and a half later, when I reached the Van Wyck Expressway, I became part of the usual traffic. The expressway was a creeping parking lot. I felt a grimace come to my face. It was then that I realized that it was just like any other day. It was just like any other trip. But it wasn't until 48 hours later, in the last few minutes of our return leg home from Brussels, that our relief crewmember would unwittingly put it all in perspective. And he would do it by becoming the Cookie Monster. With the traffic behind me and my truck parked at the employee lot, I rode the escalator to the departure level of our new terminal. Although the passenger security lines ebbed and flowed like a New England tide, the difficulty for airline crews at the security checkpoints had dissipated because of procedures that had been negotiated earlier in the day. The TSA had relented, deciding that flight crews could be trusted with toothpaste and shampoo. We lugged our bags onto the x-ray belts just like we have always done. Some crews that were inbound from foreign destinations weren't as fortunate. They were separated from their bags until their arrival at JFK. Often, an entire international crew, having flown for eight hours or more, would stare at an empty baggage carousel for 45 minutes awaiting the arrival of their luggage while passengers marched past them. (Yes, I am aware that it is often our passengers that endure the baggage wait, but flight crews are off the clock when they leave the airplane.) My own security experience at JFK lacked any drama. I felt fortunate. I arrived at the airplane with time to spare. I introduced myself to the flight attendants, some of whom I had flown with on my last trip to Brussels. They gathered in the first class cabin for a briefing. Although professional smiles were on their lips, anxiety was written on their foreheads. I discussed contingencies, communications and responses in the event that a passenger appeared to be mixing an exploding cocktail. With the flight attendant briefing complete, I joined the first officer, Ray, and the relief crewmember, John, in the cockpit. Ray graduated from the Air Force Academy. John was an Air Force C-130 pilot. Both guys were veterans of transatlantic flying. Still being relatively new to the operation, I was fortunate to have their expertise. They began to perform their cockpit duties as if they were choreographed. I soon learned that John is a 6' 4" clone of Jim Carrey, not in appearance but in antics. He has the same rubber face and the same spontaneity. John is one of those people that can make you laugh in the middle of a house fire, even if it's your own. With our checklists completed, and the forward entry door closed, we found ourselves waiting at the gate. Because of the new security procedures, baggage loading was delayed for almost 15 minutes. Considering the fact that we had over 200 people on board, the delay was understandable. We pushed back from the gate and unhooked from the tug. Ray began his first attempt in a series of attempts at securing a sequence for our taxi with JFK ground control. We soon discovered that it wasn't all about us. The combination of security delays and the usual evening international rush hour had turned the airport into a massive aluminum parking lot. The coal-black sky to the west was adding to the congestion. The sky was producing a squall line that was beginning to choke the arrival and departure routes. Ray was finally successful with ground control. We were given a sequence to follow a company MD-80 already established on the taxiway. There was only one issue. Aircraft movement was almost nonexistent. The crawling traffic that I had encountered on the Van Wyck Expressway was starting to look like the Indianapolis 500 compared to what I saw out the cockpit windows. After a few minutes of watching absolutely nothing, I looked up at the overhead panel and glanced at the fuel gauges. For the moment we had no problems, but if the snail's pace continued, the possibility of bringing frustrated passengers back to the gate for more fuel could become a painful reality. I gave the command to shut down our engines until we witnessed some evidence of progress. Predictably, the act of shutting down the engines had the effect of moving airplanes. Within minutes the line of aluminum began to slither forward. I shook my head, smiled, and reached up to the overhead panel. My fingers squeezed the left engine start switch. Ray nodded and clicked the pack switches on the overhead panel to the off position. We began the process of restarting the engines. Unfortunately, our timing was not in sync with the sudden burst of aircraft movement. By the time we were able to taxi the airplane away from the ramp area, our company MD-80 that we had been instructed to follow had passed. A company 777 had unknowingly moved in front of us as we rolled behind him onto the taxiway. Predicting that the mis-sequence would momentarily confuse JFK ground control, I instructed Ray to advise them of our new position. Ray's message was greeted with an enthusiastic, "What-ev-er ... " By the time we reached a holding position on the inactive Runway 13 Left, all airplane movement had stopped. Although the logical decision to shut down engines seemed appropriate, requests from various airplanes to do so were met with a New York style, "Uh ... NO." When the sky went dark and our weather radar display began to fill with a large red blob, I became a mutineer. Eyeing the line of rotating beacons in front of us, I commanded another engine shutdown without advising the ground controller of the decision. If we needed to move we could always start one engine. Judging by the earlier pace on the taxiways, nobody would even notice. As it turned out, within a few moments the storm consumed the entire airport. Nothing moved. In the worst moments of this particular storm, I found it difficult to see the Styrofoam cup of Pepsi in front of my face, let alone the 777 in front of us. When the storm passed and our windscreen was no longer hosting a waterfall, airplanes nearest the departure end of Runway 22 Right began to brave the sky. A mere two and a half hours after our push back from the gate, we were airborne on the way to Brussels. I felt fortunate to have an extra crewmember. By the time we were in oceanic airspace, I was thankful for my rest break. Terrorist plot notwithstanding, it was just another day. Except for the standard HF radio gymnastics and the unending interpretation of the voice behind the static, the transatlantic crossing was a comfortable level of dullness. John's lively conversation made up for the routine.