Random Happenings

Random notes and pics about events in the life of a not-your-typical Computer Science grad student. (Yes I am a nerd, but I don't live and breathe the SciFi channel, well maybe Stargate SG-1...)

Friday, July 14, 2006

It's a three-ring circus

And no, I am not talking about Ringling Bros. that just rolled into town this week.

Today, most of my research group left for a robotics conference in New York City. Most of the organization for the conference fell into my advisor's lap, so the Parasol lab troops have had a lot of work to do the last few days to get ready. Anyway, ten of us were traveling together, so it has been quite a day to say the least!

Everything was going smoothly until we got to the airport in Houston. (We even left College Station on time, no small miracle.) The rental car company's computers were down (I won't name names), and we had to wait forever before they figured it out and let us go. Our safety net was quickly disappearing as the clock ticked on.

We arrived at the airport terminal and quickly practiced our 100-yard-dash-with-loads-of-luggage-and-conference-materials skills. (It was a close tie between me and Roger.) We found our fearless leader at curb-side checkin just as she was learning that they restricted the plane because it was getting too heavy. We managed to squeeze our way on with her elite status (she has billions of frequent flyer miles), but I honestly don't know how much you want to push the plane's weight limits. It is, after all, going to hurl us through the air thousands of feet above the earth's surface...

We made it through airport security and to the gate. Luckily, the plane had been delayed so there was a little time to rest. I thought that this would be a good time to finish my lunch. As I pulled out my food from my bag, physics kicked in and my french onion soup went soaring. Instantly, everything moved into slow motion as globs of soup danced through the air. It got on absolutely everything, including all inside my favorite red bag. Everyone stared at me in utter shock for a few moments until I desperately looked around and asked "Could someone get me a paper towel?". That broke the trance and a couple of people ran to the bathrooms to get help. It took a while, but we eventually cleaned it all up. There was very little damage. My red bag, however, will never be the same.

It's time to board, and my advisor can't find her boarding pass. She starts to panic because the flight is overbooked and she won't get her seat without it. A few of us run back through the terminal looking for it while she begs for another. Lydia spots it lying innocently on the floor and hands it to me. I then run back to the gate shouting "Nancy! Nancy! I've got it!". She looked really relieved. I am not sure that it made up for the infamous soup incident, but it was a start.

Our advisor forced us to check our luggage and carry the conference materials on the flight. And I quote, "The conference materials our more important that your luggage if they get lost." When we tried to board the plane, the attendant told us that the boxes wouldn't fit and we would have to check them. We protested, "But we measured them! They're within regulations!" He responded, "It doesn't matter. I can look at them now and tell you it won't fit." As he was starting to take them away, one of our students got our advisor. She came out of the plane and had a brief "discussion" with the attendant. The end result was that we could try to fit them on the plane. After much squeezing, pushing, and grunting, we did manage to get all the boxes stuffed into the overhead compartments.

Once we took off from Houston, everything settled down. I am happy to report that the remainder of the trip had little complication. We checked into the dorm rooms at NYU. The rooms were sparse (to say the least) but mostly clean. We were "issued" bed linens. With the numbers printed down the side, it did feel a little like joining the army. (My roommate commented "or like being in jail", but I prefer to take a slightly more optimistic view on things.) My only complaint really is the lack of a shower curtain. We had the hooks, just no curtain. With such a small bathtub, it was quite an acrobatic feat to shower without flooding the entire bathroom. They told us they will find one, but I am a little doubtful.

We found this wonderful little Japanese restaurant by the dorms for dinner. I had three different kinds of spicy fish rolls: spicy tuna, spicy salmon, and spicy white fish. We snacked on edamame for an appetizer and were served an unidentifiable flavor of ice cream for dessert. It was really really good. Roger and Olga got the party boat and even Xinyu from China enjoyed the sushi.

Now that I have a full tummy of yummy yummy sushi, life is good and I am ready for bed.


Anonymous sara said...

I just had some great sushi the other day, too, at Central Market watching an awesome oldies cover band. Next time you're here, we'll have to go try out my other favorite sushi place, near Rice Village, for some more good eats!

11:59 AM  
Anonymous sara said...

Whoops, sorry, I learned my lesson and will "preview" next time to make sure the links work! Here it is again.

12:02 PM  

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