Random Stuff from My Life

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Squaw Valley

Well, it's the first morning of my trip. Conference registration doesn't start 'til noon, but I was up bright and early and out of my hotel in Reno on the strength of five and half hours of fitful sleep spent wondering about the fate of my luggage on a too-hard bed.

Yep, that's right: lost luggage again. This time, Alaska Airlines at LAX. When I got to the airport, they said the flight to L.A. was going to be about 40 minutes late. That would have barely given me time to make my connecting flight to Reno. Turns out that the incoming plane wasn't quite as late as originally anticipated, and we made up time in the air. So I had a solid hour at LAX. Just as I sat down and started to read, I heard an announcement: "Flight 2448 to Reno has been cancelled. Please see the gate agent at 31B for rebooking onto the flight that is now boarding." I went over to the gate and said, "Excuse me. Which flight was cancelled?" She reiterated that it was MY flight and gave me a new boarding pass. I asked, "Is the luggage going to make it onto this plane?" "Oh yes," I was assured.

So I'm in Reno. I have the keys to the rental car. The luggage conveyor stops turning. The luggage attendant says, "That's all." There were two of us who were supposed to be on 2448 but got put on 537 and didn't have luggage. "Oh no," says the luggage person, "2448 was never cancelled; that was 2446. I don't know how they got you on this plane. Your luggage should be coming on 2448 as originally scheduled." So I filled out a claim form and went on my way to the hotel. Left a note at the bell desk. "I hope they deliver it before we go off duty at 1 a.m.," says the bellman. So I stayed up 'til... 1 a.m. No bag. Okay, I have a change of clothes in my carry-on. No deodorant, though. No problem. I've survived at least one day of my life deodorant-free, and I can buy a new stick somewhere. What I'm really worried about is the several glass jars of jellies and sauces I had put in my checked bag to create a gift basket for this conference. All highly breakable, and all over-three-0unce liquids, so they HAD to be checked.

The message light was on when I opened my eyes at 6:30. The bell desk has my bag! And better yet, nothing is broken!! All is well.

In other news, I seem to have Conference Cruiser "Car"ma. For my conference in San Antonio last month, the rental-car company gave me a PT Cruiser. Last night, all the rental car company had available was minivans. "Oh no, wait, I found a PT Cruiser that's available."

The drive over here from Reno is spectacular. This is a great time of year up here. 27 degrees with no coat is a little chilly, though.

Driving on I-80 confirms my thesis that California has shitty roads. The highway is like a sheet of glass on the Nevada side of the state line. Hit that magic border and it instantly turns into ruts and potholes. The normal excuse for the state of the roads in California is that, with so many drivers in the Golden State, California roads get more use than other states' roads and thus appear to deteriorate more quickly. In this case, however, that argument is bullshit. There are the EXACT same number of drivers from Verdi, NV, to the state line as from the state line to Farad, CA. There are no exits in between! Blame the state of the road on inadequate transportation funding or mismanagement, but the fact remains that CalTrans is doing a crappy job of maintaining California roads.

They let me check in to my room, even though it was only 9 a.m. It has got to be the tiniest room in the whole place, however. The view is nicer than what I had last year, but the room's about a quarter of the size. I had no idea that the Resort had rooms this small.

Okay, maybe I'll take a nap...

Monday, October 16, 2006

I do... NOT

We went to Stan's youngest brother's wedding this weekend in the Ozarks. After sitting through the service, I thought: "It's no wonder that 70% of Missourians vote against gay marriage." Although it was nice to see family and they were very happy that we were there (and my outfit matched the wedding colors!), the view of marriage underlying the ceremony was positively repugnant. No same-sex couple and exceedingly few straight ones (this was a second marriage for both the groom and the bride) could meet the theological standards evinced in the homily. Nor should they try, IMHO. Still, if this fairy tale is held up to straight couples (at least those of a certain religious persuasion) as the godly ideal, then it makes a lot more sense why the fight for marriage equality isn't just about convincing people of the blatantly unjust discrimination suffered by people who can't get health insurance for their loved ones. It makes statements like Sen. Santorum's "marriage is not about affirming one person's love for another person" make sense. The preacher actually pronounced Stan's brother and his new bride "man and wife." Hello? Ward Cleaver has left the building...

I learned other things this weekend, too. Chief among them was that my recovery time after a red-eye flight is growing longer with each passing year. I think the curve may have gone exponential at this point!

Also: my description of the fully-automated men's room at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport was incomplete. O'Hare has automated toilet seat covers.

And: Missouri had disappointing trees. It's October, right? I was expecting to see some lovely fall color. After all, it's the freakin' Ozarks! But no, no such luck. A few not-very-vibrant yellows, but mostly greens.

Finally, we had a great train ride on Sunday. (Our return flight landed in San Jose, so we had to take Caltrain back up the Peninsula to get our car at SFO.) Now that we don't live on the Peninsula anymore, we rarely get to leisurely absorb the changes and continuities in San Mateo County life. It was nice to get to observe for an hour.

We remarked on our "planes, trains and automobiles" weekend (our car to American Airlines to the rental car to American to VTA bus to Caltrain to BART to our car). Fifty-four hours door-to-door. Whew!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

More on the weekend

One of the things I was going to write about was the hotel we stayed at Friday night. It was the worst hotel experience ever. Here's the capsule version: Wrong exit. Big fight. Line at check-in. Room way away from elevator. Rock-hard bed. Someone else given keys to our room. No soundproofing. Upstairs neighbors' radio at 1:30 a.m. No way to call front desk. Overflowing toilet at 4 a.m. Found out we had never even been checked in! Airport shuttle about to fall apart. In short, a disaster. I don't even want to waste time reliving the experience, but I cannot wait for that survey form from Hilton!

In other news, I found one! Men's rooms have had automatic hand dryers for years. Then they started introducing automatic-flush urinals. Then automatic water faucets. In the past year, I've started seeing automated soap dispensers. But I had never seen one restroom that combined all these features for the complete touch-free restroom experience. Until Monday morning, that is. The men's room at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport is the first one.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Always an adventure...

My husband and I have an inside joke. Whenever things don't go quite the way we planned on a trip, we look at each other and say, "Well, life with you is always an adventure." I have many notes about our weekend adventure to visit my family in Kansas, but I'm wiped out and will save some for posting at a later date.

Tonight I'll just note that I was premature to state that Baylor would be a guaranteed win for K-State, but the 'Cats recovered nicely this weekend, beating Oklahoma State in a come-from-behind victory in Manhattan. And this time, I got to listen to the game, with my dad in the car, driving up Highway 77 through the Flint Hills.

Dad is doing well with chemo, but my brother fell off a ladder while painting the barn roof. This has been a year of bad health luck for our family!

More soon...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

It's raining, it's pouring

Well, okay, not YET. But the first rain of the season was yesterday. I'm excited. I love rain, and living without any for so much of the year sucks. Of course, I'll be totally sick of it by April after living with so MUCH of it for the other half of the year, but for now I'm just happy to see rain clouds replacing the fog.

Apparently they actually got snow up in the Sierras.