Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Worst Airport Ever

Atlanta.  Nothing about this place is good. 
The lights, the muzak, the inefficient seating (why all the footrests?), the unavoidable constantly-running tvs which resulted in me being fairly convinced that I had actually contracted the flesh-eating bacteria, the veggie lo mein that actually resembled an unnatural spaghette bolognese (the only thing Asian about that mess was the name), the lack of Starbucks or any other coffee/tea shop, and the fact that you have to walk half-way down the terminals (ten minutes) before you hit the bank of screens that tell you where your flight is leaving from.

It can be depressing if you're doing lots of travel to the Deep South, as Atlanta is the major midway point for everything in and out of the region.  However, the Charlotte (NC) airport is also a possible connecting point, and I highly recommend it.  Clean and bright, no tvs, multiple speedy Starbucks, and a respectable sushi bar.

(Please note: I'm not a Starbucks person, as I'm not a coffee drinker.  But Starbucks is reliable in that no matter where you are, you know exactly what you're going to end up with when you purchase something.  As per what you purchase, I recommend an Earle Grey tea with added vanilla syrup and cream.  They might be momentarily confused, but it'll always work out.  They'll put the vanilla in, and you add the cream yourself.  Tasty!)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Huntsville Airport

These are the advertisements in the Huntsville airport, which really speak to the industry in the area and the types of people that generally pass through.  No high-end fashion nonsense here.

These escalators brought to you by Boeing!

This is by far my favorite ad.  It's so Team America, with it's missile-taloned screaming eagle.  Not even pretending to be anything but what it is.  Glorious.

Fifty years of support to the Warfighter?  Good job guys!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Huntsville Botanical Garden

If for some reason you find yourself in Huntsville, Alabama, rest assured.  There is ample non-deep fried foodstuff available due to the large Seventh-Day Adventist population and in addition to the awesome Space and Rocket Center, there is a large and well-maintained botanical garden.
I was returning to Huntsville for work again, this time with an assistant from another southern university.  We met at the airport (we were carpooling during the visit) and if she seemed cool, I hoped to convince her to come with me to visit the garden.  Happily, little convincing was needed, and she turned out to be the perfect assistant!
This was exactly what was needed after hours of airports (Atlanta airport - I still hate you.)
There are a large number of more formal didactic gardens which are themed, like the Tea Garden (containing plants and herbs commonly found is teas) and the Shakespeare Garden (including the relevant quotes on little plaques next to the various plants).

There is also a butterfly house and a large children's garden, making this a second good stop if you have kiddos and you're in town to check out the Rockets (I'm like Tourism Huntsville or something, but it's true.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Solar Queen

One of the most wonderful things about visiting Canada this summer is that this was Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee.  As you may or may not know, Canada is a commonwealth nation, and the Queen is the head of state.  Ultimately, it could be said that it was her fault that I had to walk 40 minutes in knee-high snow to get to work every morning, for months, when I lived there.  And then forty minutes back home at the end of the day.  But not really uphill...  (See: Manifestation! and More Manifestation!)

Anyway, Jubilee means Jubilee Swag.  I scored a commemorative mug at the Scottish & Irish Store around the corner from the ThinkTank.  And this gem from Chapters, the big chain bookstore in Canada.

You guys!  It's a solar powered QEII!  She has a little solar cell in her handbag, which powers her perpetually waving hand!  She is sitting next to my bench at the lab now, right on a sunny windowsill, where she is perpetually waving at me.
(This is not my picture: I found it on The Google.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

J'ai trait une vache! Or, Ottawa!

Ages ago, when my friend Canada Justine (girlfriend of former roomie Canada Steve) was in Philly for a conference, we started chatting about one of our mutual favorite (Canadian) musicians, and how a new record was out, how lives shows were so awesome, etc.  In the course of that, I said something along the lines of, "If he's playing at Bluesfest, I'm coming up to go to the show with you."

Of course, the list of musicians playing Bluesfest pops up, and guess who is playing the main stage a couple days after the early July holidays?  City and Colour.  So I start looking for airplane tickets...

Luckily for me, something intriguing popped up at work, which didn't necessarily require a visit to Ottawa, but which certainly was helped by a visit to Ottawa.  In short, some art showed up and I had questions about the artist's materials and techniques.  The artist was Canadian and was represented in all the major Canadian museums.  The National Gallery of Canada had some written references on the artist, and a couple speedy emails to Supervisors Greg's wife, the Lovely Anne, and I was set to visit the conservation labs at the Library and Archives Canada.  

So my visit was justified!  I had to do some research, close my Canadian bank account (like Mitt Romney, I too had an overseas bank account - but that's where the resemblence ends), and go to an awesome show at a massive outdoor venue with a friend!  Yay Canada!

First stop: the library at the National Gallery.  I was a little confused how to get into the library as a regular patron: as an intern, we had a clever little back door we could use.  And we were allowed to wander directly down into the compact shelving to browse.  But it all worked out!
How delightful.  Stuck to the back of the paper towel dispenser in the bathroom off the stair-ramp at the Gallery.  People: when you visit the Gallery, the bathroom to go to is the one off the stair-ramp, right at the middle.  There is never a line and it's always tidy.
The old roomies only had green tea.  Since I require stronger stuff in order to function, I hiked it down to the Loblaws to pick up some Tetley.  Note: now in Canada the British Blend has become Tetley BOLD.  It's a nouvelle allure.  Canada's a Commonwealth Nation after all.  Colonies are out, as it British Blend.  BOLD is in.
Even though the States have long since thrown off the Yoke of the Oppressor, our strong Tetley continues to be called British Blend.  This is nonsense: we should have Tetley BOLD south of the 49th parallel as well!

Anyway, the art research went even better than hoped-for.  And the concert was fabulous.  It was perfect weather for an outdoor show.
We sang along with Dallas (which is how Justine refers to the singer/songwriter of City and Colour, like they're besties).

My flip flop broke on the way out afterwards, so I had to ride the bus home looking like that drunk girl, even though I wasn't remotely drunk.  I ended up taking both off and walking barefoot back from the bus stop to the International House of Pancakes.  Which is something I would contemplate only in Canada, as it is so very clean there!  

Justine and I ate crumpets back at the house and recapped the show to a friendly but ultimately uninterested Canada Steve.  Oh well!