We're just back home from an eight day trip to Virginia to see the in-laws. It was almost a nine day trip, thanks to American Airlines, but that's another story, the only hero of which is the Washington DC National Airport authority, who thought to provide a small sanctuary for parents of screaming babies in the form of a privacy room for nursing mothers, wherein we all took a nap and retreated from the madding holiday airport crowd. There was also an heroic American Airlines clerk called Sterling that finally ended our limbo by overriding a glitchy computer system -- after two other clerks had failed.
We were in the DC airport from eleven am through nine pm. By my count there were six departure delays involved, caused by one broken plane and one late plane, plus the aforementioned computer glitch. We even climbed onto the bus to go to the plane once, to be turfed off again.
We'd like to say we're not flying this FUBAR airline anymore, but it is the only one that goes from Bangor to DC.
I told Aimee that the whole episode was a deliberate
plot on her part to get me to stay up and see in the New Year for once!
I'm usually in bed by nine pm, even on New Year's Eve. When you live in a different time zone, on a different continent than the one where you were born and raised, it's hard to draw a line where one solar year ends and another begins.
The purpose of the visit was of course for the kid to see her uncles and
aunts and grandparents. This was duly achieved, as were a number of
home improvement projects. So I shouldn't, and won't, complain. But I'm quietly ecstatic to be home. It was the best of luxury after our poor tired cranky kid was finally put to bed, past midnight on New Year's Eve, and after a nice shower in my own bathroom, to sleep in my own bed. Today I got up and did my own chores in my own dooryard, and was a very happy man. I don't know what is such fun about feeding sheep and moving snow and firewood, but to me, it's infinitely preferable to traveling.
I also had a number of car and truck repairs to begin this morning, the partial result of a comedy of errors that took place the night we left. I had loaded our ancient Camry with all the luggage, but once wife and baby were also duly loaded, the headlights wouldn't come on, even after changing the fuse We switched the luggage to the Matrix and took that to the airport, but not before backing the Camry into the pick-up and smashing the bumper cover. Not a great way to start a trip. Additionally, I'd managed to back the truck into a tree at the daycare place, smashing a lamp unit, which was ordered and arrived while we were away. Then there's the small matter of our "new" but slightly broken Honda Insight hybrid, but that interesting wee beastie can wait for a post all of its own.
For today, after feeding sheep and moving the snow that had fallen while we were away and digging out the firewood pile so we could switch off the oil furnace (we don't allow our house-sitter to run the wood stove, for fire safety reasons), I switched out the lamp unit on the truck and got that vehicle working legally again. The Camry, whose engine had been running all this time to warm up the icy snow that was attached to it, had meanwhile somehow fixed its own headlights. Go figure, but they now work. I'm going to check the wiring diagram to see if there's a headlight relay and switch that out for a new unit, if there is one. That's the best explanation, other than a faulty switch unit. But I was happy to have this vehicle serviceable again too.
Tonight, we will celebrate with family homemade pizza night.
There now follows an interlude of a couple weeks before the semester in which my attendance at work is not strictly required, but after the New Year's weekend is over I'm going to go in anyway, just for the pleasure of it. Several colleagues and I have a new building to move into, for research and teaching, essentially a purpose-built sustainable energy demonstration laboratory, and am greatly looking forward to moving in, as well as rationalizing, repairing, and sorting all my teaching demonstrators and research and other equipment before the new semester.
I have high hopes for this new building. Essentially I want to make it the cool, go-to-place for sustainable energy information in Maine and even New England, and am very excited about the prospects.
There'll be more, much more, on this new era in my professional life later, here and on my teaching and research blog.