Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Alaskan Adventures

The thing I didn't mention in the previous post is that my business travel was to Alaska.  There was a conference up there and afterwards, I stayed for a few days extra.  My sister Rachel flew up from Vancouver to join me in exploring the Alaskan countryside.

We took a train from Fairbanks to Denali National Park, where we spent two days.  One morning we had a wilderness tour in the park, which consisted of riding along the road in a bus with a tour guide, periodically stopping for pictures, especially when wildlife crossed our field of vision.  We saw many animals, including moose, caribou, fox, and a lynx.

We also saw the dramatic Denali landscape,
and Mount McKinley.

I took so many pictures, my camera ran out of battery power and I had to stop.  I am not much of a picture-taking person, but I felt compelled to preserve the experience somehow.

For most of the rest of our time, we hiked around some trails at the entrance to the park, and admired the rushing glacial melt and the spectacular peaks around us.
I was fascinated by all the ice on the ground, still melting.

The sun essentially did not set the whole time we were there -- at best it was twilight for a few short hours before the day began anew, so we had to draw the curtains tightly if we were to get any sleep.

It was a really amazing experience that words cannot begin to describe -- and neither can pictures.  To be in a place so untouched by humans, so wild, so vast, so rugged -- it was a very emotional experience for me.  I pretty much could not wipe the goofy grin off my face.  I exclaimed at the amazing landscapes, the high mountain peaks, the wild animals.  I felt so connected to the natural world -- more connected than ever before.  I could see why people fall in love with Alaska and stay, despite the harsh conditions.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Business Travel

I am on business travel this week, at a conference.  Overall, I am having a lot of fun.  But there are moments that are not fun, especially for a woman business traveler in a male-dominated field.  Over the past four days, I have had the following experiences:

  • My supervisor's supervisor (hereafter referred to as Boss) and I were traveling on the same flights.  Upon boarding the plane, I saw Boss was already on, so I made a comment to him about the legroom of his seat on the plane.  His row-mate volunteered to trade seats with me in exchange for payment so I could sit next to Boss.  I suggested he take it up with Boss, since he is richer than I am. The guy discounted monetary wealth as unimportant and waxed rhapsodic about happiness and the quality of life.  At that point his words combined with the creepy vibes I'd been getting from him made me realize what type of payment he was thinking of, so I declined and disengaged from the conversation.  My suspicions about his motives were confirmed when Boss told me the guy had invited us to join him in the airport lounge.  (Hint: he was not interested in Boss's company.)
  • Upon checking in at the hotel, I was asked if Boss and I were together.  No, we are not.  Also, he has kids who are my age.
  • At a social event, I was mistaken for being married to another one of my colleagues.  At least this person realized that I worked in the same place as my would-be spouse.
  • Conference attendees get free breakfast at the hotel restaurant.  This morning, I was charged for my breakfast, because I was obviously the spouse of one of the men I was eating with.
These are small slights, but they all add up to make business travel a lot less enjoyable for me than it is for my male colleagues.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Child Logic

Vinny has a cough and a bit of a cold, so yesterday morning I gave him some children's cough syrup before school.  I went into the kitchen with the breakfast dishes and left him at the table to drink it down.  While I was rinsing them off in the sink, I heard him say something to the effect of, "I wonder if this would help my nose, too."

When I returned to the dining room, I saw that his nose was all red -- the same color as the cough syrup.  He had tried snorting some of it into his nose, I soon found out after he started screaming in pain!  He kept telling me it was an accident -- but I think it was only an accident in the sense that it unexpectedly hurt him.

I helped him blow his nose and get all the cough syrup out.  He was a little freaked out because he mistook the red dye in the cough syrup for blood -- probably because his nose was burning so badly.  He whimpered for a while but eventually the pain went away.  I stressed to him the importance of using medicines as they are supposed to be used.  My doctor prescribed me some nasal spray in an effort to help my sad sniffer -- and I explained to Vinny that if I swallowed the medicine meant to be sniffed, I would be in trouble.  Hopefully he understood, but even if he didn't, I suspect that this experience will warn him off of trying to snort any kind of illicit drugs!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Electric Car Update

I was supposed to get my Nissan Leaf this month.  Unfortunately, with the earthquake in Japan (where this year's Nissan Leafs are being manufactured -- if you buy one next year it will be made in Tennessee) that date got pushed off until July.  It is too bad because the last time I filled the tank of my Volkswagen Beetle it cost me more than $41 -- and that was with a $0.50/gallon discount.

But July is better than never, and really, there are so many worse things that earthquake did than delay the arrival of my car by two months, that I can't complain.  It's just that I'm really excited about getting it so it kind of stinks that I won't get it as soon as I had thought.