SO, I wrote this big long entry on Friday about my recent trip to Philadelphia for a work related conference, and by “wrote” I mean I rambled and digressed and went on ten gazillion tangents, as I do, and did not even get to the actual trip part, although I did manage to load up some pictures on the OD media thing for later use. I am double posting (on those rare and infrequent occasions that I actually post at all) on OD and PB, and of course they are TOTALLY different as far as pictures. OD’s easier with the iPad; PB’s easier with the desktop. And that’s largely because I store my pictures on Flickr which in recent years has decided it is not going to play nicely with ANYTHING.
Now it’s Saturday night, I think – yes, yes it IS Saturday night; I have kind of been existing in a bizarre time warp because I’m on vacation for our Christmas break —- yay!!!! —- and we were going to Charleston tomorrow —- yay!!!!—— but our furnace quit working on Monday —- a really big BOOOOO as the furnace is three years old for fuck sake and this is the third time it’s quit working and the second time was a MONTH ago, for double-fuck-sake——-and the furnace fixer guy could not come until yesterday and his verdict was that this time it’s the part that escorts the oil into the furnace itself which has broken, which will require a new part, which they have to order, which will take 3-10 business days to arrive. I’m guessing more like 10 considering it’s a) practically Christmas, and b) we apparently live in the Antarctic now so the frequent snows are slowing things down even more. The one good thing is it’s covered by the warranty.
Anyhow. We have yet again cancelled/postponed our Charleston trip (which you may recall we ALSO postponed in September due to the hurricane, meaning at the time that we would not have had a vacation for a YEAR as we hadn’t been anywhere since we went to Charleston LAST Christmas, so now we won’t have a vacation for… well, way more than a year at this point). Because although getting out of Freezy House sounds great, we can’t just leave the cats to freeze alone, and they would not travel well. AND now we will be going to Baker B’s mom’s for Christmas Day, which is a good thing and we kind of suspect this is all due to Karma and us being selfish and preferring Charleston at Christmas to Baker B’s very nice family at Christmas. His mom is 97 1/2 and although we’ve said every Christmas for the last 15 years will surely be her last one in her house… this HAS to be it. Doesn’t it???!!??? SO. No lovely warm beachy shrimp and beer and walking filled Christmas but at least we won’t have to feel kind of guilty about it.
We do have space heaters. Lots and lots of space heaters, and our electric bill will be $239,100,317 next month but oh, well. And it’s still only about 70 in here at best, which, yes, MANY people apparently view as quite balmy, but I view 70 as meat-locker range temps. Yes, I am a cold-natured princess.
Oh, look, now I’ve rambled and digressed and tangented on THIS entry so I better get to the Philly trip. I’ll try and condense the whole what-it-was thing. And how I NEVER get to travel with my current job, and I LOOOOVE traveling, even for work, and I was just ridiculously excited about getting to go to a two-night conference in Philadelphia. It was a “user conference” for the company that recently bought the paperless system’s company that we use, and I am our “team leader” for the paperless system, which until now has meant basically nothing at all other than I’m the one who gets the incomprehensible emails from the campus tech person and has to call her for clarification which is never clarifying at all because she’s one of those tech people who couldn’t explain how to turn on a faucet and fill up your coffee pot with water. When we had our training for the original system, she took two days to tell us how things were operating behind the scenes, which meant a great big 0 to us, and tried to equate our storing student files with how a car dealership would use the system by the make, model and color of cars. Which meant even more of a great big 0. But we’ve gone over to this new system very recently and I’m on their mailing list, and when I got one about the user conference in Philly, I though, why not see if I can go??? And to my vast astonishment, not only was our dean all for me going, she was actually REALLY pleased that I’d asked to.
I’m totally asking to go again next year.
It was SO MUCH FUN!!! And I don’t actually mean the conference itself, although that WAS shockingly useful – much more useful than I was expecting. There are things that we can do with our paperless system that go far beyond just storing student files in the ether, and, to my astonishment, our campus bought the extra modules so we CAN do workflow stuff and forms stuff and… stuff! I didn’t actually know this till I got back, since we won’t have access to all these extra things until everyone on campus who uses it gets moved over from the old system, so the whole time I was there, I was thinking, “that sounds fantastic! We’ll never have access to it!!!!!” When, shockingly, we WILL.
It was a very short trip – I left on Monday December 3, and it was over on Wednesday the 5th. I flew up, of course, and since I’d never traveled for work with this job and wanted to be sure I didn’t seem extravagant, I got the cheapie tickets which meant changing planes. That was a surprise, as I’ve flown from Charlotte to Philly several times to visit my cousins in Delaware, and even the cheapie tickets have never involved a change of planes. It’s only an hour and a half flight, I think. But suddenly normal tickets are about $600 round trip and cheapie are under $300 so I went for cheapie and plane changes. That was fine going up despite a tight connection at the Norfolk “International” airport. I say “international” because it looked the size of Asheville’s airport – teeny!! I basically got off one plane, took a few steps, and got on the other one. No delays, no problems, got to Philly right on time at around 2:30. Got a taxi, zipped off to the hotel, which was the Hilton at Penn’s Landing, right on the Delaware River.
I had SUCH A FANTASTIC VIEW!!!!
Actually that last one wasn’t from my 15th floor window, but it was from right beneath it on the waterfront. I could have just spent three days staring out the window.
So I got to the hotel around 3:30, and the agenda for the evening was a “meet and greet”from 5:00 to 6:00 and then dinner. I had already decided I was skipping the dinner. I have to say, not traveling with anyone else from work was WONDERFUL – in that I didn’t have to just go do what everyone else did. Nobody knew me, nobody had any idea of what I was or wasn’t doing—- heaven!!! I planned to register, go to the meet and greet, and then scurry away and explore the riverfront when everyone else went to dinner.
I went to the meet and greet, grabbed a glass of wine from the !!!open bar!!!!, milled around amongst the vendors who were trying to sell everyone add-ons to the paperless system, felt quite awkward and out of place and like I’d just wandered in from the lobby for the booze since I hadn’t even realized I had a name tag, let alone put it on…. and after about 20 minutes I finally finished my wine and cut the meet and greet short by running away to visit the historical area. We were about a fifteen minutes walk from all the interesting stuff like the Liberty Bell. Which lives in a little glass house!
I just viewed it from the outside, although now I’m sorry I didn’t go in to see it and read all the accompanying stuff. I felt rushed and short on time, though.
There were lots of really cool historic buildings and of course now I don’t know what most of them were! This was the area where the Liberty Bell is, though.
Then I went down to the riverfront near the hotel after it got dark.
There was a marina near the hotel, and this strange ship was there. All full of cheery lights. And so was this skating rink, which I could actually see from my window:
Right by the skating rink was a little shopping/eating area where I was able to get a lovely stout, and take it outside to sit by a lovely fire!
Boy that was pleasant. That was also cold and I eventually went inside the little eating area to finish my stout, then finally back to the hotel to order fish and chips from the hotel restaurant and take it back to my room. I did try to find something around the hotel that would be a little more, ummmm, authentic, but I thought it might not be the best idea to wander around a strange-to-me city in the dark. And it was late and I WAS quite tired from all my travels.
Next day was full of conference stuff. First off a really REALLY long introduction thing, which involved breakfast as well, so I sat at a random table with some very friendly people and pretended like I knew what I was chatting about. Then there were breakout sessions which lasted about an hour and a half each. I went to two non-tech-person ones, and they were actually very interesting, to my astonishment. Although the woman sitting beside me in one of them who was listening to a webinar on her phone without earbuds so I got to hear her webinar TOO was quite annoying.
Lunch was an hour and a half, and was billed as a “networking lunch”. You can probably guess what I did. It was not networking. I dashed off to see more historical stuff.
This time I went in the direction of Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest continually occupied street in the US. It’s very short, and adorable –
Then I just kind of wandered aimlessly, until I realized I better get back to the hotel if I wanted to make the last breakout session-
I did make it to another quite interesting breakout session — and then we had the evening free! Like I hadn’t been grabbing free time all over the place already – but this was really nice because two of my cousins live in Delaware and were close enough to meet me for dinner (for anyone who remembers her on OD a gazillion years ago, it was Cousin E’s sisters, Cousin J and Cousin MJ- sadly Cousin E couldn’t make it as she’s further away). They came and picked me up at the hotel, and we went to the Christmas Market in Love Park, and then to dinner nearby. The Christmas Market is really nice – a whole bunch of vendors in tents selling mostly handmade stuff. I am saying “mostly” since there were some things that I have seen elsewhere – for example, these really gorgeous lights which are also on offer from a booth in our local teeny tiny mall.
Everything was all decked out for Christmas, and it was very pretty and lots of fun! Also really cold, but I had expected it to be even colder so was prepared with a down coat and a down vest and a hat and gloves etc etc. Amusingly it was about ten degrees warmer in Philly than at home the whole time, so not quite as arctic as I was thinking it would be way up north.)
We had dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant, and then went back to my hotel and chatted and gazed out the window at the lovely view, and it was SO nice to get to see my cousins and spend fun time with them.
Next day was abbreviated, as I had to fly out at 1:30. In retrospect, and for future reference, I should have requested one more night there, because the conference actually didn’t end till 3:30, but that was the latest flight I could get and still be home before, oh, midnight, since I still have a two hour drive from the Charlotte airport to my house. I was able to go to one more breakout session, then had to call my Uber (my first Uber!!! And I’ll just say right here I am never taking a taxi again if I have an Uber alternative No wonder Uber has taken over. They are fast, clean, friendly, easy to order and pay for, and I didn’t seriously fear the driver was going to kill us both and possibly 10 other people on the highway). And what ended up happening??? Why, I ended up having to stay another night in Charlotte anyhow! Because, of COURSE, Boone got a surprise snowstorm that day- “surprise” in that it was supposed to be a dusting that would be over by noon, and in reality was about five inches and carried on into the evening, so Baker B was worried about me trying to get back up here, especially after my Philly flight was delayed by several hours, causing me to miss my connection. I got booked on another later flight, but it ended up being quite late by the time I got to Charlotte, and the university was okay with paying for yet another hotel- just as expensive, ironically, even through Priceline, but with no view at all. SO, should have just stayed one more night in Philly.
And at least some of the reason for my first flight’s delay was due to de-icing the plane, from this quite disturbing creature who appeared to be staring in at me before spitting all over the wing:
I did have a lovely second leg, with a not-full plane so my seat mate moved across the aisle and I had the window and a gorgeous view of lights below the entire time.
Wow, what a long entry—- but since I’m apparently not going anywhere ever again for the rest of my life that isn’t Boone, Asheville, or Morganton, I suppose that’s okay.
Last updated December 23, 2018