Observing Humans Under Stress in the Airport

Being stuck in the airport is a great chance to watch people deal with disappointment and things outside of their control. Observed today:

  • The Grumbler: Vents aimlessly to anyone in earshot but not loudly or with any attempt to do anything to fix it.
  • The Busybody: Has to find something to do that’s demonstrably “doing something” about the situation because there’s nothing they can really do. Can usually be seen leaning againsr a column, gesturing wildly to someone on the other end of a phone call… who of course can’t see them. But we can. We can.
  • The Demander: must go up to the gate desk every ten minutes for an update. The more trips to the desk, the more red they are in the face and the longer their stride.
  • The Cheerleader: They’re just happy to be there and will loudly proclaim how wonderful everyone is being. Constantly fetching things for other members of their party. I have a feeling the cheerleader is the busybody when traveling solo.
  • The Relaxer/Fatalist: this is me. Weighs the situation. Decides they can’t do anything. Sits there reading and waiting for updates and silently wishing the grumbler had a better conspiracy theory and the busybody would express their distaste a little quieter.

And then there are the shell-shocked parents trying to wrangle angry toddlers who’ve had their routines even more disrupted than they would have been without a delay. These are really the only group I feel bad for. They all look so desperate for relief. Hang in there, parents. It gets easier.

Did I miss any? Who are you?

Taking the Boys to Atlanta

Max’s Blue Man Group Audition from Kevin Lawver on Vimeo.

The boys and I went to Atlanta last weekend to hang out with my pal David and go to the Georgia Aquarium. We stayed in a hotel right downtown, went to the Children’s Museum, ate at Legal Seafood, went swimming, watched a movie and had a lot of fun. The pictures are here and there are some more videos to come.

My Second Trip to The British Museum

The lion from the main entrance of The British Musem

This was my second trip to The British Museum. My first was in October of 2007 with a friend from AOL, but we could only stay for about an hour. That’s not nearly enough time. We only got to see the Rosetta Stone, some mummies and a little bit of the Assyrian collection.\
My only touristy goal on this trip was to really dive in and see a lot more of the museum. And boy, did I. Ann and Tobey met me, and we spent a great almost four hours wandering through history. I won’t go in to how the museum came to possess its collection, but it is amazing. If you get the chance to go to London, give yourself a good half-day to wander through it. It’s truly unbelievable.\
I took almost three hundred pictures, so it’s going to take me some time to upload them. They’ll all end up in the set on flickr eventually.\
I was particularly fascinated by the statues from India and Asia, especially the ones depicting Hindu deities. If anyone has recommendations for a “beginners guide to the history of Hinduism”, I’m all ears.

Categorized as travel

Why I’ll Be Tired Later

a police car races down the street

I have a very long day of cab – train – airport – airplane – airport – airplane – airport – car ahead of me. The hotel fire alarm going off around 3AM and my inability to get back to sleep so far is not going to help the situation.\
I have a lot of photos from my trip to The British Museum to post, but they’ll have to wait until I get home.

Categorized as travel

Talk about burying the lead

I want to blog, except I don’t really have anything to say. So, mundane details it is!!\
Max received his first quarter report card. He got all A’s and E’s (exceeds expectations) except in music where he got a ‘meet expectations.’ He has school until almost 4, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for more than homework, dinner, and a bit of down time. I want to get him into sports or music, but most of them start too late and keeping everyone healthy for more than 2 weeks in a row has been a challenge.\
Brian has school three days a week and really enjoys it. He gets a little bit of Spanish, music, and art. Considering how inexpensive it is and the fact that they had openings, I am surprised of the quality of care. He had a check up last week where he was pronounced mostly healthy. He has slight allergies and eczema, which we are treating with OTC allergy meds and fish oil. He was really well behaved for the almost 2 hours we were there. Several of the staff commented on it. :)\
Kevin works a lot. He also grills a lot and listens to music. I think that is all I have to say about him.\
The doctor upped my dosage of anti-crazy medicine. YAY! I love not being crazy. I’m not sure if it is working yet. Kevin could probably tell you though.\
We went to a bbq over the weekend that was set here: iconic Savannah. It was really beautiful, like a movie setting.\
Since we have family just outside of DC, I am thinking of taking the boys up for Obama’s inauguration. It’s the day after MLK Day. Imagine all of the fun parades and festivities! The 10-hour drive is kind of daunting though since it will be just 3 weeks after our last 10-hour drive and Kevin won’t be coming with us.\
On Saturday, Nov 15, there is a national protest against Prop 8 in almost a hundred cities across the country. Check for a location near you here. We’re taking the kids down to Jacksonville to participate since it is closer than Atlanta. It also seems like a better choice since Florida just passed a similar measure.\
Last Friday I took the boys to the beach because I thought it would be the last nice day. But nope! The boys have today off for Veteran’s Day and the weather isn’t bad, so we are going to the beach again. YAY for living so close to the beach.

This and that

  • I’ve misplaced my iPod. I am bad enough at cleaning the house with it, I can’t imagine what I’ll be like now. Booo. I need my crutch! I am going to dig out our 80s-inspired iPod that is the size of my head and see if I can duct tape it to my body. That should get me through the day, I hope.
  • The kids didn’t have school yesterday so we went down to Kevin’s office for lunch. The boys were happy when practically the whole office went with us. They just looooooove Kevin’s coworkers. Brian especially enjoys spending time with the office manager, Juliet. He makes sure to sit with her and walk with her and give her hugs. He got mad at me once and said, “I don’t love you anymore. I just love Daddy and Juliet.” A couple of weeks ago a bunch of us went out to dinner, including Juliet’s parents. Brian was really excited to meet them. I joked that he was meeting the in-laws. It’s so cute to watch and Juliet is so nice to him.
  • I had a (bad) dream last night that we were moving to Utah, where we would be isolated in our liberal, hippie views AND we’d have to deal with constant four-foot snow. Kevin was thoughtful enough to buy lots of Christmas decorations so our new neighbors would like us, though. Hmm.
  • As far as I can recall, I have never voted for a winning presidential candidate before. (I honestly can’t recall which candidate I voted for when Clinton was reelected, which wasn’t my first election.) It’s nice for that streak to be over.
  • We’re going to the in-laws for Thanksgiving and I am really looking forward to seeing everybody. Kevin’s brother and his family, including a baby, will be there. YAY. And an aunt, cousin, and and a grandma are coming too. Lots of family time! I love it when the boys get to see their extended family. The downside is that we are staying in a hotel, which is my least favorite thing to do with kids. Worse than 4 hours at the Health Department without a lunch break, even. But that is what happens when your family quadruples in size, yes? So, nice problem to have, all things considering.

The Many Misadventures of One Kevin P. Lawver

I made it home. What a week. I posted before about what I did on the flight to China and that was the last you heard from me. Well, Saturday night, my laptop died. It suffered a complete hard drive failure. Even using Arun system disk, it couldn’t find the hard drive controller. Hopefully, this means the drive itself is OK and I can get the first day of pictures and all the stuff I worked on on the flight there off.\
But, that left me in a tough spot. I had no laptop, spotty access on my blackberry (which is OK for staying semi-connected and consuming small chunks of data, but doesn’t work very well as my primary connection to the “collective”), and I usually charge the blackberry with the laptop. Thankfully, I’d thrown a little USB power thing in my backpack just to see if it would work for charging the DS Lite.\
So, I took notes in a W3C meeting longhand, on paper… yes, I stood out. Yes, my fellow nerds gave me a hard time about it (good-naturedly, of course). Yes, it sucked not to be able to upload photos, browse the web, read feeds and hack.\
But, the worst part of the trip was my asthma. Beijing is extremely polluted, and I was affected by it. A couple times, I took a walk around the neighborhood (the hotel and conference center is right across the highway from most of the major olympic venues), and came back wheezing. The one free day I had, I took a “test” walk in the morning to see how I’d do, but had to cut my walk short and take multiple hits on my inhaler to stop the asthma attack that followed. So, I didn’t really go anywhere or see anything outside of a four or five block radius of the hotel. I didn’t want to get stuck somewhere having an asthma attack where I don’t speak the language and didn’t know where I was or how to get back to the hotel.\
There was a great dinner, with entertainment provided by students from Baihong University, and I love hanging out with W3C folks. We even got a game of werewolf together. Doug Scheppers and I cleaned up the village as werewolves and won handily. It was only slightly unfair as Doug and I are both seasoned werewolves, and we “feasted” on a game full of first-time players.\
Now, I’m home and it’s going to take me a few days to get back on schedule. A twelve hour time difference is crazy, and I don’t think I ever got quite adjusted to it, so maybe it’ll be easier coming back.\
I’m off to bed, hopefully to sleep for many many hours. I’ll hopefully post pictures tomorrow once my laptop situation is taken care of.

Categorized as travel, W3C

Losing Time, Gaining Time

I spent fourteen hours on a plane yesterday, racing the dawn over the North Pole, getting from Dulles to Beijing. In my sleeplessness, I started thinking about how weird travel days are when you cross timezones. I lost almost a whole day, timewise, being in the air. A fourteen hour flight really took twenty-six hours off my calendar. I didn’t get to “live” that day, and on my personal calendar, it’s compressed to a tiny fraction of what it would have normally been. But, on the way home, I only “lose” an hour and forty-five minutes, so that day gets stretched out. It’s weird, and something only crazy people trapped in airplanes or pot smokers should think about.

But, since I was trapped on a plane for fourteen hours, I decided that I should keep a little diary of all the stuff I did on the plane. Here it is, minus bathroom trips and meals (they fed us twice):

  1. Read half of The Writing Life
  2. Watched Wizard People, Dear Reader version of Harry Potter
  3. Wrote a queue processor (it’s so freaking cool, I can’t believe I did it on a plane with no internet access and just my little Ruby pocket guide). This killed a good two or three hours.
  4. Listened to some CBC Radio 3 podcasts and Sunparlour Players
  5. Flew over the North Pole, but couldn’t see anything because there were clouds everywhere… total white out.
  6. Watched Ricky Gervais’ Politics stand-up special
  7. Watched The Amazing Screw-On Head (Mike Mignola series pilot about civil war robot secret agent. Yes, it’s awesome)
  8. Watched some Strongbad E-mails and Abigail’s Teen Diary
  9. Watched the first episode of The X-Files.
    • Love that they don’t wear seat belts, the smoking man really smokes in the office, and Scully has shoulder pads.
  10. Played with hbase. I got it running and created a table, but didn’t do much more than that.
  11. Worked on the blog’s admin interface.
    • Bummed that in Firefox I have to wrap HTML5 elements in order to style them. Bah, humbug.
  12. Stubbed out the blog main and entry page. Not how it’s going to stay.
  13. Played some Sudoku (Brain Age 2 on my DS Lite). I’m trying to go back and redo games where I made mistakes and get all my times on the Basic and Intermediate ones under ten minutes. I have no idea if those are good times or not…
  14. Finished The Writing Life. I love Annie Dillard. The Writing Life is a short little book, only 111 pages, but just like Holy the Firm, it’s dense, packed with lots of great quotes, thoughts on writing and life and some of the most beautiful prose you’re likely to ever read. I’m so glad I stumbled on Pilgrim at Tinker Creek last year.

Beijing is big, noisy and “hazy”. Today, it’s big, noisy and drizzling, so I don’t think I’ll be going out. Plus, meetings start soon and well, why go out when I can stay in and nerd it up with a bunch of… nerds?

I’m seriously jet-lagged. I did all that stuff above while pretty much everyone around me slept. I don’t get how people can go to sleep at one in the afternoon and sleep pretty much straight for fourteen hours, but almost everyone around me did just that. I was there, trying to be quiet, either reading, watching something or typing. I got my upgrade to first class, which made things much more comfortable. I highly recommend it.

It’s 8:30AM on Sunday morning. My internal clock is somewhere on a train between home and here. If you see it, please tell it to hurry up. I’d like to feel human again.

Categorized as travel