31 January 2013

Science Online 2013, day 1: In which I wonder if this was all a huge mistake

I suspected I was in trouble when I walked into the airport and there was nobody else in line for check in.

Then, airport security mistook me for a chemist. Oh, the indignity.

Sure enough, my 9:10 am flight that I'd come for no longer existed. I was now on a 10:45 am flight. Thanks for keeping me informed, United Airlines. I will say in your favour, United, that your flight attendant on UA 3849 (my 10:45 flight) deserves a raise. She was awesome and funny, and got applause from the cabin twice.

I thought I got to the airport in time to catch my flight to Raleigh, but I miscalculated. The flight depart had been moved up about 20 minutes, and I mistook departure time for boarding time, didn't ask if the flight had started to board when I got to the gate, didn't realize I missed all the boarding calls, and consequently, missed my flight. The next United flight was full, but I managed to get transferred over to another flight on US Airways.

While I waited, the news was showing the wreckage from tornadoes that were caused by the storm that was expected to be hitting Raleigh more or less the time I was supposed to arrive there.

All this put more in a foul mood. I was mad at myself for missing a flight I might have been able to make, and the schedule changes. I seriously started questioning whether conferences were worth it to me any more.

As I flew over the clouds, I wondered if any of them were the storm clouds that were causing so much grief today. I wondered what a tornado cloud looked like from above.

The new flight was not direct to Raleigh. It touched down in Charlotte first, so I had enough time for a bathroom break, but there was no food I wanted to eat nearby. I spotted Emily Willingham (Double X Science), which was nice, and arranged to split a cab after we got off the plane.

Getting off the plane would take some time, however. Just as we were boarding, the weather that I'd seen forecast days before, and watched on the news, finally caught up with us. Heavy, heavy rain that was coming down in buckets like when then turn on fire hoses to make in rain in movies because you need huge amounts of water for it to show up on film. We got on to the runway, and then spent an hour there, because outgoing eastbound flights were delayed until the storm front cleared out a bit.

I finally arrived in Raleigh about 10 pm, something like six hours after I was supposed to have arrived. In fact, I think my entire trip was supposed to last just six hours. I walked into the hotel lobby to check in, heard what can only be described as a din coming form the bar. Science Online was in full swing, all right. I was still feeling foul and wanting sleep, so I went into my room to hide and try to reset my dial to the green zone.

On the plus side, when I checked my email... manuscript accepted!

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