coasts and libraries

turnbuckles, sort of

I was really worried when the flight I was taking to Vancouver Canada was switched at the last minute and I was suddenly on a new plane with no seat reservations. I usually plan these trips pretty carefully — the connections, the things I’m going to do, the places on the plane I sit — and one small derail can send the whole thing down like dominoes. However, that’s not what happened.

I was going to Victoria Canada to speak at the Access 2007 conference, keynote actually. The week previous had been Glory Week in Vermont and I had a lot of fun visitors and things to do so while I worked on my talk I didn’t pay a lot of attention to things like “How to get to Victoria from Vancouver BC” and “How to print out my final set of notes for the talk.” I drove down to Kate’s place right after work on Tuesday, steeling myself for an early morning (well, 9 am) flight so that I could show up in Canada with a reasonable amount of time to figure out the rest of the travel stuff. And then my flight was cancelled.

What followed was a strange series of good news/bad news escapades. My United flight wasn’t flying because of some mechanical thing so they put me on Air Canada. Air Canada, in case you don’t know, is a superior airline. Seats with TVs and music players, really professional staff, decent connections. I even got good seats. Since United’s problem was “mechanical” and I nicely explained the whole “I’m giving an important talk the next morning” thing, they put a note with my old ticket to be cool and put me up someplace if Air Canada couldn’t get me there. Not bad. I transferred in Toronto instead of O’Hare (score!) and found out there was a flight leaving earlier than the one I was one and they were pleased to put me on it. Then I dropped my boarding pass into the heater vent by mistake which it turns out is no big deal — they just printed me a new one.

I got to Vancouver before I was even supposed to have arrived and did some librarian reconnaissance to figure out how to get to Victoria. There are a myriad of ways ranging from expensive and fast to slow and cheap. I had time so I decided on slow and cheap and had a great time taking the bus to the bus to the ferry (which was an amazing sunset cruise which was a totally fortuitous accident). Inside the ferry there was actually a bus which you could get tickets for so I climbed aboard and took the bus off the ferry and down through Victoria. The bus dropped me off about ten blocks from the hotel which I then gladly walked. I even turned down the ride offer of some nice-seeming man on a Harley who kept driving by me.

Then I went to bed. It had been a very long day. The next day I got up and gave my talk which went pretty well though it was a bit of a stretch for me. I hung around for a while to talk to people and hear a few more presentations and then took the Helijet back to Vancouver in about 30 minutes. The previous day’s trip had taken almost ten times that but what a trip it was! I went to a MetaFilter meetup, stayed with a friend of a friend right in downtown Vancouver and took the bus back to the airport the next day.

By the time I finally got back to Logan — at about 1 am after a bunch of weird travel delays thanks to weather — the Red Sox had just won some major game and the taxi stand was completely empty when I got outside. If you don’t know Boston well you may not also know that all public transportation also stops running around this time. I waited and watched as the folks who checked bags queued behind us until there were about 40 people waiting for zero cabs. I was scheming how I could politely ask other people, when my time came, if they wanted to share a cab (I’m not that hip to cab lingo and etiquette) when the guy at the front of the line asked “Anyone else going to Somerville?” which I was. I squeezed in with two other people. Turns out he was going two blocks from my sister’s house and refused to let me pay for anything. I let myself into Kate’s place and was pleasantly surprised to see her still up and chatty, so I got to do a little debriefing about my trip and she told me about the baseball game.

This morning I’m preparing to go to Sturbridge MA for the New England Library Association Conference where I’m giving a few talks on social software, Firefox and library 2.0 pretty much in that order. I don’t think I was on the West Coast long enough to really have jetlag. I have a second bag of clothes here to bring with me so I don’t have to spend all day doing laundry. Also, since this is a conference I can drive to, I’ve brought my favorite pillow. I am usually pretty happy with whatever pillow I have available but figured there was an off chance that the previous three days would have been wretched and I might want something familiar and comforting during my three additional days away. Turns out I probably won’t really need it after all.



One of the things I rarely talk about is the fact that I grew up near a small airport. I don’t think of myself as any sort of airport rat. No one in my family flies a plane. And yet, it’s one of those things that I have a hard time remembering isn’t part of most people’s growing up experience. My sister and I grew up “at the end of the runway” of the Minuteman Airfield in Stow, Massachusetts. We could walk across the street and down the field that my Mom photographs so often and walk along the runway to the airport restaurant. My Mom would go get coffee there and talk to pilots sometimes. I remember they had a pretty good candy machine.

When my sister and I got older we both got jobs there. My job there was my first job ever, minding a coffee shop for a few hours after school. I made $2.10 an hour, plus tips which were scant. I was about 14 years old and at the end of my shift, I’d lock the door behind me and walk home down the runway and across the field in the dark. Sometimes the pilots would take us flying and we would fly over our house. Once I got to ride in a helicopter. We’ve had plane crashes happen both across the street and in our backyard. One was on my birthday. My Mom does some work for the same restaurant, the same people I worked for. They’ve owned the place since I can remember. She helps them with their newsletter, they pay her in gift certificates. We often go eat there when I’m in town. This is just a big explanation for why, when I went flying with my friend Mark (the pilot!) today and he said “Here, you want to fly it?” and handed me the yoke I could say “Oh yeah, I’ve done this before.” We had a really good time, you can check out the photos.

We flew over my house in Bethel, totally obscured by trees, and took a look at the quarry in Bethel which is hard to see from anywhere but the air. Then we headed north sort of following Route 91 and turned in at Route 25 and we were in the hills, just trees and trees and trees, mostly red, some green, pretty impressive. The photos are a pale reflection of how amazing it looked from up there. I looked down trying to find my actual place in Topsham, but it was obscured by clouds.