Saturday, January 12, 2008

I've been up 19 hours and it's only 6:45 PM

I planned to write something clever tonight--some clever observations about air travel, Philadelphia, and meetings containing large quantities of librarians--but all that would require brain cells, and mine are taking a well-deserved rest. I spent all day Thursday flying to Philly and all day Friday in meetings. This morning, I got up before 4 AM EST (that's 1:00 AM my time!) to fly home. When I got here, the rain stopped, so I decided to do some yard work. It was actually therapeutic after sitting for about 8 hours, and there are now fewer wild blackberries in my yard and more dirt under my fingernails. But I don't have much energy left for blogging, so the best I can do is a list of some random observations from the last three days. Try to contain your excitement.

  • Flying makes people dumb. There must be something in airport ventilation systems that temporarily damages brain cells, because otherwise-intelligent people suddenly become clueless. They can't figure out how to fit a bag into the overhead bin, they can't walk in a straight line down the concourse, the "fasten seat belt" sign is a complete mystery, "one carry-on plus one personal item" is beyond comprehension, I (I mean *they*, yeah... *they*) become incapable of finding the correct seat, and despite prominent signs, the concept that the carry-on must be less than a certain size is just too complicated to grasp. Hint: If you can hide a body in it, it won't fit in the overhead bin.
  • Philadelphia must have a shortage of cab drivers. When I left the airport to grab a taxi, there weren't. There were quite a few people waiting in line for one, but not a single taxi could be found. When I asked someone why there were no taxis, he just shrugged and said, "That's Philadelphia. Things don't work very well here." Maybe, but everywhere else I've been, cabbies have been pretty eager for business.
  • Independence Hall is really small. I didn't get to go inside (too busy working), but, like last year, I caught a glimpse of it through the taxicab window. I always forget that buildings were a lot smaller way back then. Maybe next time I'm in Philly, I'll actually get to go inside.
  • In addition to Independence Hall, Philadelphia has some more amazing architecture. City Hall is stunning, and Arch Street United Methodist Church looks like a medieval cathedral. I never knew any Methodist churches were that ornate, and I've been a Methodist for awhile. Next to it is the Masonic Temple, which is also gorgeous.
  • Call me weird, but I was intrigued by the two subway stations I visited. The part of the subway I experienced is very old, built in the late 1920s and 1930s. One of the stations, a transfer point, had interesting little tunnels leading to the various lines. It felt very subterranean (yeah, I know, a subway is, by definition, subterranean. But the newer ones don't really feel like it). I think my roommate thought I was nuts. Who gets excited about a subway? But then I'm addicted to Cities of the Underworld on the History Channel, so it figures I'd be interested in old tunnels.
  • The East Coast is fascinating to a West Coast girl like me, because everything is so *old*. In California we had the missions, and some of the Gold Rush stuff was pretty old, but down there 1880 is really old. Here in Oregon, most of our cool old houses are from the early 20th century. But cities like Boston and Philadelphia have buildings that predate the Revolutionary War!
  • I'm grateful that Portland doesn't feel like a big city. I liked Philadelphia, but I can't imagine living in the city (well, at least not downtown). It's so busy and noisy and bustling and crowded. Downtown Portland is rarely that busy unless it's Rose Festival time.

That's about the best I can do. I had hoped to include a few pictures from the trip (and that's all I have, a *few* pictures, because I was working or traveling most of the time), but Flickr is down, so I can't upload or link to anything. Maybe I'll add some later.

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