Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Magical Pony Unicorn God of Travel has forsaken me

My extended family practices worship of the Magical Pony Unicorn God of Travel (see here, here, and here for more details). 
The main point is, if you don't travel with due respect and humility for the Travel Gods, you will suffer. And, apparently, I have not been making the appropriate sacrifices. My trip to Ohio was not exactly a calamity, but travel did not go as smoothly as I hoped. I had direct flights between Miami and Cleveland, an easy 2 and a half hour flight in a puddle-jumper plane. (The first mistake: assuming that the flight would be “easy”.) Although I arrived an hour before my flight left, there were some snafus, and I missed my flight. The reservation agent at the gate was very nice, and she quickly booked me new flights, which would connect in La Guardia (so, no more direct flight). An airplane golf cart even whisked me across the entire terminal, and I made it to New York without a hitch. When I got there, however, I discovered that the airport had been evacuated due to a bomb scare. (This was the day after Boston, and it turned out to be some innocent wires hanging from a light fixture.) Luckily, I arrived when the had started letting passengers back into the terminal. Unluckily, American airlines' computers had shut down, world-wide. While I sat there in the gate, flight after flight piling up, it did occur to me that if I hadn't missed my flight, I would have been at Ohio already. I tried to stay philosophical, though, because I was on vacation and didn't have any urgent plans that day. After a few hours, they announced that the Cleveland flights (and only the Cleveland flights, as far as I could tell), would be allowed to board. That was because the flights were tiny, and half-empty. The combined two flights of people in a puddle-jumper, took our boarding passes and used a hole-puncher on them (remember, every single computer was down), and the pilots filled out the paperwork by hand. I arrived in Cleveland 6 hours late, and I counted myself lucky.

The trip back started out more auspiciously. I arrived with plenty of time to spare, and the flight to Miami proceeded according to plan, right until we started circling Miami. That's when they announced that the entire airport was shut down, due to a huge storm. We diverted to Ft. Meyers, on the other side of Florida, to refuel, and we arrived only a few hours late. 

In spite of this all, I can report that my vacation was terrific. I sat around bonfires and talked for hours with my parents, I helped my dad do some maintenance on a old bicycle, and I learned that my brother can make authentic cardamom-flavored, stewed chai tea. My sister-in-law and I shopped for flowers (although we ended up being unable to plant them, due to surprise snow showers). I made coloring books for my niece and nephew. I did all the everyday things that I would do if I lived closer to all of them. And then I counted my lucky stars that we're moving to DC, where I'll only be a short, six-hour drive from my parents.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On my way, more or less

Sunday was my last hurrah in Miami, when I got to march in the Gay Pride Parade in Miami Beach. A group of people from my church, along with some members of PFLAG, marched. A few of us went with an Americana theme, so I went as Rosie the Riveter. I'm not really quite built like the Rosie shown on the poster, so I relied on making the fist and yelling "We can do it" to reinforce my costume.

Then I went home and packed and packed and packed. I leave today for a week-long trip to visit my family, and when I get back, my husband will have taken all those boxes I packed and have crammed them into shipping pods which will take themed Maryland. This is the second time that I've managed to not actually be present for my own move, and I think I'll owe Andrew big for this one.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Room to expand

Our new apartment has 800 square feet of space. (That's 75 square meters for the non-Americans) This is the largest living space Andrew and I have ever shared and it more than doubles the amount of space we have right now. We're a bit giddy at the prospect. Last week, Andrew said, excitedly, "We can have a full-sized trash can in the bathroom at the new place." This is true, because right now we use a a stainless steel ice bucket as a trash can; it is precisely large enough to hold one bottle of wine, which make it a tiny, slim trash can. Personally, I am more excited about the idea of having a couch. In this house, we only had enough room for a love seat. This meant we couldn't both sit on the couch along with the dog, and neither of us could stretch out our full length on the love seat.

So, any suggestions? What would you do if your living space suddenly doubled?

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Big news - we're moving!

My house is filled with boxes and I have a to-do list that's a page long. The cause of all this? We're moving! I'm happy to report that we're moving (back) to the Washington, DC area. In fact, we'll be only a few miles from where we lived back in graduate school. I've accepted a job as an education program manager with the American Physical Society, which is the professional organization for physicists. I think the job is a wonderful opportunity in a terrific working environment and I'm quite excited to be back in DC. This move gets us closer to my parents (only a seven-hour drive) and puts Andrew in range of many universities, which is good for his job prospects. Of course, I am sad to be leaving all my terrific co-workers and the friends that we've made in Miami. We've already found a house, so I'm madly packing so that we're ready when the moving truck arrives in two weeks.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

In which I present a lecture on St. Augustine history

Last weekend we went camping near St. Augustine. I've been itching to visit the city, because it's the oldest city in the U.S. (founded 1565). I read a lot of history before we went, and it can be roughly summed up as follows:
1. The French settled in Florida.
2. The Spanish slaughtered them. Seriously, the valley where this happened is now called Matanzas (Slaughter) Valley.
3. The Spanish killed a bunch of Native Americans.
3. The English invaded from Georgia.
4. The Spanish tried their best to kill the English.
5. Eventually, Florida was transferred from the Spanish to the English, back to the English, and then to the U.S. (but not until 1819).

Basically, it is a very bloody history. This was especially apparent on our trip, since we visited two forts (Fort Matanzas and Castillo de San Marcos) and saw a demonstration of cannon fire.

St. Augustine also had a rather tragic history during the 1960's. The city became nationally known when it planned the 400th anniversary of its founding, but didn't include African Americans in the celebration. As a result of this lack of inclusion and rampant segregation, there were months of protests. The civil rights activists were aided by Martin Luther King, who helped make the St. Augustine protests nationally known so that the Civil Right Act of 1964 would get passed. In the end the Act was passed, but protesters continued to be harassed, beaten, and killed by the Ku Klux Klan while the St. Augustine authorities continued to support segregation. Reading about it made me appreciate how far we've come, even though I know how much work is left to be done to make the country truly equitable.

In contrast to that part of history, the camping was peaceful. We like to camp "rustic", which means no water or electricity at the campsites. Luckily we didn't have to haul our water from home, since they had water at a different part of the campsite. The best part of the camping, as far as I'm concerned, was that we saw an armadillo. It was crashing around our campsite for a good part of the evening - I assume that their armor protects them from the need to quietly avoid predators. The less fun part of our trip was the sleeping arrangements. We threw out our air mattress because it has sprung a leak, so we slept on the ground. Can anyone recommend a good alternative to air mattresses?