Back Home -- 12/16/00

I'm exhausted from my travels.

Partly this is due to having a cold the entire time... not a really bad cold (Nancy had one that kept her home from work a week ago Friday and she was still sick enough to stay home on Monday) but still, enough to wake up most mornings with a scratchy throat and a stuffy head. Landings bother my ears at the best of times... as we lose altitude I drink a lot of water and then start chewing gum like crazy to help equalize the air pressure in my ears... and this past week I had to put up with five landings. Sunday I had that flight from Providence to Toronto, then on Wednesday from Toronto to Minnesota, changing planes at Chicago, and finally on Friday from Minnesota to Providence, again changing planes in Chicago. Five landings. Each one bothered my ears more than the one before. Last night's landing at Providence really messed me up. My ears are still clogged; in fact, I even saw a doctor today (no apparent infection, prescription for Rhinocort to ease congestion).

Of course, I don't know why we had to meet in Toronto for two days and then in Rochester, MN for two more... why not do it all at one location (say, Honolulu, for example?)... Okay, so the Toronto meetings had perhaps 18 to 20 people attending (some people were presenting but also attending) but only half of us went on to the Minnesota meetings.

It snowed in Toronto Monday and Tuesday, eight or ten inches or so in the downtown area. Wednesday morning I headed off to the airport. Had an interesting taxi driver. We were discussing the U.S. elections and I mentioned Colin Powell as being someone for whom I would have been happy to vote and he told me that he had once driven General Powell to the airport in his cab. When I got to the counter to check in I was told that my 11:25 flight from Chicago to Rochester had been cancelled but they were able to rebook me on a 3:05 flight. My flight from Toronto to Chicago boarded on time, but we spent a long time sitting on the runway before we finally got cleared for take-off. In fact, if my 11:25 connecting flight had not been cancelled I would probably have missed it because we didn't reach the gate at O'Hare until 11:20. The weather forecast for Chicago that I had heard called for light scattered snow, mostly flurries... well, it looked to me as if they got at least five inches of scattered flurries that afternoon! Of course the 3:05 didn't leave at 3:05. The plane we were supposed to board was a flight originating in Washington, but it apparently turned back or landed someplace else, so they substituted a plane that was coming in from Minneapolis and the 3:05 became the 4:05 and we finally boarded around quarter past four and eventually (after pulling away from the gate and taxiing and then just sitting there for a while) we took off.

Rochester was cold and windy. There was a lot of snow on the ground, but the snow in the air could have been flurries or it could have just been blown by the wind from the sonow on the ground. I got together with Ray, a technical writer from Toronto whom I had met at the Toronto meetings. He wasn't renting a car but he was staying in the same hotel I was, so I gave him a ride to the hotel. After unpacking and relaxing a bit we went for a walk around the downtown area (hotels, stores, Mayo Clinic) and then found a place for dinner. Back in my room I connected my laptop and found myself answering work-related email until midnight. (Oh, okay, so I read some -- but not all -- of my Yahoo email.)

Thursday night the eight of us from out-of-town who were attending the meetings got together for dinner. Two were from Japan, Ray was from Canada, the rest were from Raleigh and Charlotte (uh, and I think one guy was from Austin.) We had a good meal and a good time talking. Back at the hotel I did some packing and more work-related email. I also checked the weather forecasts for Minnesota and Chicago and Rhode Island. Snow was predicted for Minnesota, beginning late Friday afternoon (I was booked on a 4:45 flight) and sleet and freezing rain Friday night in Chicago, possibly changing to snow. (The Saturday forecast for Rochester included high winds and low temperatures and a possible minus fifty wind chill.)

Fortunately we were able to wind up our meetings early and I was able to leave a few minutes before eleven. At 11:08 I was at the airline counter at the airport attempting to get rebooked on the 11:15 to Chicago... this was possible only because take-off was delayed due to traffic and weather in Chicago. Only after I had my boarding pass did I drop the keys off at the Hertz counter before running to the gate. I got there just in time to board. The pilot pulled away from the terminal and parked near the runway. He explained that take-off probably wouldn't happen until 12:20 but he wanted to be able to be in the air within minutes of receiving permission. So we sat there and sat there and then we got clearance to take off and we did. It takes about forty-five minutes or so of actual flying time to get from Rochester to Chicago. My flight to Providence was scheduled to depart at 1:10 but I was not worried. I figured it would probably also be delayed, and even if I did miss it, there are a lot of flights from Chicago to Providence. I got off the plane at 1:14, dashed to gate H5 where, indeed, I found that the flight had been changed to a 1:40 departure and then to 1:50... I think we pulled away from the gate around two and spent some time on the taxiway, but finally took off and had an uneventful flight to Providence. (Except, of course, for my ears clogging up during descent from altitude.)

I had left my car in the long-term parking run by Thrifty Car Rental, so once I had my suitcase all I had to do was stop at their rental counter so they could call ahead, catch their shuttle van, and when I got to their lot my car was waiting for me, running and already warmed up... so I reached home around seven p.m. (instead of one a.m. if I had been on my original flights and if they had been on-time.)

I spent some time this morning on my laptop, more work-related email, etc.... then to my doctor about my ears (and I did get a flu shot while I was there) and did some grocery shopping (just a little, big shopping tomorrow) and came home and caught up on my personal email and read journal pages and wrote this... and now I think it should start fixing dinner... it's seven p.m.

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