Thursday, June 28, 2007

Updates Pending

Unlike my continual promises for a RavenCon update, you can expect a more detailed update from me soon. ISU is one of those strange places where time dilates and contracts at the same time. It is really hard to believe that I have only been here for 5 days, yet I know that the summer is going to fly by. Things are already beginning to fill the hours. On top of all of the hectic (and fantastic) ISU activities, we also are surrounded by Beijing. There is so much to see, so much to do. There is not enough time.

I came here alone, not having met any of the students in advance. While that is a bit intimidating, everyone is friendly and you never feel alone. I am rather glad that I came alone. (Or perhaps with one other person I already knew.) If I already knew a lot of people, I may have felt more comfortable socializing with that group than meeting the other students.

The weather here is VERY HOT, VERY HUMID, and VERY POLLUTED. There is a lot of walking and you definitely feel like you need a shower at the end of every day.

On a more logistical note, I can't access my blog directly from China. All of my updates are going to be coming through e-mail, so please excuse any typos. I think that I will be able to upload pictures, but not until I get internet access in my room. 

I miss everyone back home, but I am having a great time here with all of my new friends. Please leave me a comment and let me know that you are there.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


I am here in Beijing China at my computer orientation. Things are going well. More when I have time... and an internet connection.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Mostly Packed

It is 4:45 AM on Friday, June 22. I board the plane for Beijing in less than 8 hours. Most everything is packed. I still need to shuffle things in and out of my carry-ons, but the checked bags are done. I can't find some of the books on China that I am looking for. (They are, of course, the ones I bought first and have had more time to be misplaced.) I still need to write some work e-mail. I still need to do some household financial maintenance. I really wish that had time to sleep.

Some of my fantastic friends made me an audio send-off that I now have on 3 different digital devices. It was so sweet and funny. Of course, I cried when I listened to it. Heck, I cry when I think about it. I am truly honored to know such wonderful people. Thank you. I will miss you all.

It is 4:45 PM on Friday, June 22 in Beijing China. A new world awaits me with another turn of the globe.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Lists upon Lists

T-1.5 days

My plane leaves at 12:20 PM on Friday, June 22. I have so many to-do lists that soon I will need a list to keep track of all of my to-do lists. I hope to get at least 75% of it all done.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Panic Sets In

T-4 days until I leave for ISU in Beijing, China and it seems like the world is conspiring against me getting ready to leave. Over the weekend I traveled to Phoenix to visit friends and attend the Wingin' It Pool Party. The flights to and from this event have been close to the worst ever. When first arriving at the Dublin Airport Friday morning, I found the flight delayed over 2 hours. This delay immediately destroyed the entire day's flight plans.

The complicating factor was that I had two separate flight plans, one with airline A, the other with airline Z. Due to the delays, airline A redirected me to Phoenix. The problem was, they never told airline B. I spent hours, on little sleep, arguing with both airlines about why I have two reservations to Phoenix. The overriding fear being that they would cancel my return flight if the situation was not cleared up. Eventually, I made it to Phoenix, ensured that I had a return flight home, and was refunded several hundred dollars in the process. John met me in Phoenix Overall, it was a long day, for me, a 32 hour day.

The party was fun. We had a good time socializing with the podcasting crew in Phoenix.

All was going well until the flight home. We flew from Phoenix to Los Angeles and then planned to take the red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Baltimore. Once the plane landed at LAX, we sat on the tarmac for 30-45 minutes. This delay caused us to miss our flight. Thinking I was confirmed on a flight to Dulles, the customer service agent sent John on a flight to Chicago and then on to BWI.

Unfortunately, I wasn't confirmed on the Dulles flight. We ran over to the gate, put me on the plane, only to find that the open seat they wanted to put me in, belonged to a man in the bathroom. They had to bring back the jet way to get me off the plane.

At this point, the next flight wasn't until the following morning, meaning... no work on Monday and one more lost day preparing for ISU and China.

I spent the night in a crappy hotel (for free) and took the morning flight to BWI. Unfortunately, due to time zone issues, that means I didn't get home until after 5:30 PM.

Should I start counting the time to ISU by hours? Perhaps so.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


My computer power problem was solved Monday night by the friendly hotel staff. They have loaned me a power adaptor that will work with my laptop. While I haven't made a huge blog post, I did get most of my pictures from Howth dumped to Flickr. No titles, tags, or descriptions... but they are there. Hopefully more later today.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Greetings from Ireland

IMG_1929, originally uploaded by Sci-Fi Laura.

I am in Ireland! As you can see in the picture above, I am having a great time thus far. For the next 3 1/2 days, I will be in work meetings, so I won't get to do as much touring.

Unfortunately, I didn't realize that my power adapter didn't have a grounding plug, so I won't be able to re-charge my laptop. So, unless I can find another way to recharge, you will only be seeing limited updates and photos. (This problem needs to be fixed before China)

Never fear, I will be taking many photos for upload when I return. See you soon.

Friday, June 8, 2007

3... 2... 1...

Hooray! Space Shuttle Atlantis launched today!!! Unfortunately, I was running errands relating to my trip to Ireland tomorrow and I missed the WHOLE THING. :_(

Hello to the NASA Academy folks who made it down to the launch. I can't wait to hear the stories, see the pictures, and watch the video.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Flights Booked

I just booked my flights to China. Because I waited so late, my options were more limited than I would have liked. I had to cut out my pre-ISU trip to Ames Research Center. I did add in a post-ISU trip to Ames instead. On the positive side, the change gives me a couple more days at home to get everything together before I fly to Beijing.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

So Tired

One of the last things I need right now is to be sick. I have some sort of virus that is making me so very tired. I don't have time to be sick. Unfortunately, I don't have much choice in the matter.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Chinese Visa

It is odd to have a bit of down time. Currently I am sitting in the Visa Office for the Embassy of the People's Republic of China. I would take pictures, but the office isn't that interesting.

It is fascinating. On the television they are showing a Chinese variety show with 6-year old kids performing hip hop songs and a few little girls performing traditional dances. (Hip hop re-mix of The Sound of Music?)

It is actually sinking in that this trip is going to happen. I have been so busy recently that I might as well be in denial.

There is such a cross section of people here. I keep wondering why l they are all traveling. I wonder if and will be my classmates. As I wait for my number to be called (177), I am making up stories as to why people are here. (The couple with the baby are taking him to China to meet his grandparents, aunts, and uncles for the first time. The woman in the dress and sneakers is going to meet the man she met online. Little does she know but he is the uncle of the aforementioned baby.) No one seems excited to be here, but a lot of people seem confused by the variety show. The Chinese more amused than confused.

Instead of making up stories, I think I will work on this massive backlog of posts I owe you. (Especially since I can't do any paid work here.)

~~~~ Time Passes ~~~~

Well, I got some blog work done, but not as much as I would like. I really need to get a keyboard for my Palm Pilot.

I HAVE MY VISA. They will now let me in the country. Now a lot of other logistics, shopping, and stuff. One step forward, many to go.