Baltimore, 2001

My first business trip for the new job, a pre site visit trip to Johns Hopkins University. Went with my two supervisors, well, we were all there, but travelled mostly separately.

Mon Dec 17

We were all supposed to go to the airport together, as agreed upon at lunch, leaving at 1pm. I ran back up to my desk to get my backpack (all the carryon that I needed for an overnight trip, business trips are so much easier to pack for) and then couldn't find either Steve or Kiyo. Poof. Gone. No response to email or phone. I waited until 1:30, since my flight was later than theirs and then gave up and jumped on the Green line train. Made it to the airport with 2 hours to spare before my flight, did a very quick e-ticket check in at Logan, passed the id check by the military personnel, but security stopped me for a wanding and a bag check. My metal pill box was the culprit (at least I'd remembered to leave my Swiss Army knife at home!) but they didn't open it when I assured them it just held Tylenol. I was at the gate by 2:30, sat and read for a bit, had a bowl of clam chowder at the Legal Seafood kiosk (not as good as the Cambridge location), along with some bitter iced tea. Read some more. I boarded almost last when they called the flight, since I was in the bulkhead row. Stuffed my bag in the last overhead bin in first class. No one was in the window seat, so I moved over from my middle seat and had a comfy flight. The snow in the afternoon changed to rain by the time we took off, but there was no delay. It was a smooth flight, between cloud layers with the sunset tingeing the sky pink to the west of us as we flew south west. My seat mate was nervous on landing, and I started to worry a bit when it took a long time for the wheels to contact the pavement. I could see the traffic jams on the highways as we were coming in to land.

I found the taxi stand easily, and an SUV was next in line. There were no jams on I95 (I've been on too too many sections of this highway), we hit a couple of stop lights on Calvert and then we were at the Inn I was reserved into, across from JHU. The door person absconded with my bag but I rescued it and paused to fill in my taxi receipt. My reservation was okay, I went up to the 3rd floor, past the exercise room (forgot work out clothes and swim suit), freshened up in my huge room (I've lived in smaller apartments!) and headed down to the dinner and talk. It was much more formal, in table setting, than I had expected - 3 forks, 1 spoon, 2 knives, and a wine server prompting us for our choices at each course. The attendees were typical scruffy programmers mixed with the admin types in suits, so it wasn't so bad. Still no sign of Steve and Kiyo, though the others were just finishing the salad course. I nibbled on mine after greeting Gabor, our contact. Then the buffet opened up and I snagged some chicken breast, crab cake (seems to be an area specialty), stuffed cheese potato (yum!), beans, and was finishing my cake slice when Steve and Kiyo arrived. Their flight was delayed 2 hours as they had to wait for a light to be replaced on the plane. Our table was full by this time, so they sat at the next one. Ours was a very international table, only one American plus one Canadian (me), 2 from France, 2 from Hungary, 1 Russian, and one Israeli. We had an introductory 1.5 hour talk after dessert on robotic assisted surgery (over 100 slides! someone obviously didn't tell him the secret of one slide per minute of talk). One of the older admin guys was snoring on and off through the talk. We talked with the presenter a bit after the talk and then broke to our separate hotel rooms. I ironed my shirt, left a message for a friend in Chicago that I'd hoped to talk to that night, did some sit ups to counter the huge dinner, listened to my next door neighbour trying the connecting door, and managed to not quite be lonely.

Tues Dec 18

The wake up call came through 5 minutes before 7am - I guess they had a lot of calls for that hour. I always trust the wake up call more than the vagaries of the random clock radios that hotels provide. I struggled up out of some very odd dreams, which included an old house with a dessiccated body in the attic along with my old monitor box and ski boots, it was a huge mostly empty space, and the body somehow fit. I went down for the continental breakfast offered before the main meetings started - the bagel and cream cheese filled me right up. Morning summary presentations and breakout meetings. Not surprisingly, the meetings ran late for lunch (pasta, shrimp and bread). I ran up to get my things and checked out before noon though. Steve, Kiyo and I ducked out on the afternoon, leaving our manager to deal with it. We went over to the CISST lab at JHU proper with Herve and Steve and I cornered Atilla and talked about code development, while Kiyo and Herve focussed on the robot control package that the lab had finished. It was a *nice* day as we walked over, sunny and warm. The cobbled walk over to the lab was nice, with red brick buildings lining it, their white framed windows gleaming in the sun. We all went back to the hotel and the main meetings, and I dropped into the robotic surgical assist breakout.

I ducked out at 4pm and shared a cab with Steve and an admin guy to the airport - the stranger picked up the tab. I was told I could go right through and check in at the gate, so I headed for security. As I got closer to the line, I saw that it continued around the corner. And continued. And continued. Apparently there had been a security breach earlier and the 1/2 mile long line was the result. And of course there was a childrens choir caroling and moving with my part of the line. I put in my earplugs and was much much happier as I waited the hour in line. Once I got to the metal detector I went through with no problems, then grabbed a drink, got my boarding pass and found out that they'd moved my seat from my reserved middle one (next to the friendly guy in front of me in the boarding pass line) to a different row in a window seat, with a huge guy in the aisle that pushed the skinny middle guy into my space. The flight was delayed, then less delayed, and we finally took off at 7:20 instead of at 6:35. Then they delayed us in a holding pattern over Providence before we could land at Logan at 8:40. I headed back to work, picked up my bike, and went over to the Middle East for the Angels of Light show, which band didn't actually take the stage until 11, so all my rushing to get there for 10pm was for naught.

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