It was a whirlwind trip---the ten days seemed to go by so quick. I flew back to the USA for the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas. I had two talks and several meetings to attend. The first talk was based on a paper that I cowrote with others about the high, and increasing, costs of AMS meetings. The presentation was made for the committee that regulates the meetings. I'm not sure that I had an impact in changing any policy that wasn't already decided upon. It is unfortunate.
The second presentation (and the real reason I went) was to give a short talk on my career at the AMS Student Conference being held that same weekend. This was the third biggest audience I have ever spoke to: about 350 students. Originally, I was scheduled to give an 8-minute-long presentation as part of a panel discussion on "Weather Outside the Lines." I guess being a professor in Finland is a career path that is sufficiently far enough outside the lines to count.
Because of the big ice storms across the southern and central USA prior to and during the meeting, many people couldn't get to the meeting. The luncheon speaker was one of those people. When I arrived at the meeting in the morning, the organizers asked me to substitute for the luncheon speaker. What an honor that was! Fortunately, I was carrying my laptop and could redesign my talk during the morning session for a more appropriate topic. About a third of my talk was about my career path, but the rest was about advice for students. I was very pleased that the conference organizers felt that I did a good job.
I was worried about the drive from Oklahoma to Texas and the return trip. Fortunately, the caravan we formed left before the wet roads started freezing in Oklahoma. On the way back, the interstate was dry, but people had not been traveling due to the ice on the side streets and the impending weather. In fact, the return trip only took about 7 hours, which has to be a record from San Antonio to Norman. So, I was quite lucky on all accounts.
The return trip was interesting. When I checked in at the gate in Paris to obtain my boarding pass to Helsinki, there was some unknown confusion about whether I would get on the plane. Eventually, they gave me a boarding pass for business class, seat 3C. I got on the plane and took my seat. Some other guy came up to me and said I was sitting in his seat--indeed, he had a boarding ticket for seat 3C, too. The flight attendant said the flight wasn't full, so to just take a seat anywhere, which he did. Before takeoff, people came on the plane asking for our boarding passes, somewhat confused because the number of people on the plane didn't match their records. It turns out that this guy was named David Schulte (not Schultz) and some poor check-in person checked him in as me, which may be why I was not given a boarding pass right away. So, we had a chuckle about that.
No big surprise they lost my luggage on the return trip to Helsinki, passing through Paris. This is the third time this has happened to me passing through Paris this past year. Incredible! Fortunately, I could weather the delay in the receipt of my luggage, and I did not have to cart 100 pounds of my crap back from the airport by taxi (I took the bus instead).
- At a conference or meeting, it's always a good thing to carry your laptop, fully laden with your papers, talks, research, photos, and music. You never know when you might need this kind of information.
- Buying comfortable black shoes is only marginally easier in the USA than in Europe. (I brought back five pair of shoes, three of which are brand new.)
- There is never enough time to do everything you want to do and see everyone you want to when home. (I apologize if you were one of the ones I never made contact with!)
- There are things I miss about Oklahoma from time to time, especially the space and comfort of my house and watching the birds in the backyard feeders.
- It was nice to be back in Helsinki again, although all the restaurant eating has got me lazy to cook again.