Monday, October 30, 2017

Airport Blogging, Part 8

I don’t know how many “airport posts” I’ve written in the blog— no time to check now, but I’m guessing 7. ;-)

Travel is EVERYTHING. I’ve said it before that I’m happiest when I’m on the go and I wish I could be constantly traveling. Seriously! It’s magical to get to know new places, it’s just the best thing in the world. At least to me!!

I just wish that traveling wasn’t [it should be weren’t because it’s the subjunctive, but nobody used it, so it sounds so wrong!!] so stressful. Sigh... I mean, generally it all works out in the end, but packing, loading the car, making sure you have all the documents, driving to the airport with time to spare, going to security, waiting at the gate, boarding the plane, the uncomfortable plane ride, making the connections, landing, getting luggage — and then doing it ALL OVER again on the way back. That is stressful and kind of exhausting.

When you travel as often and as extensively as we do (I know I want to travel more, but I am delighted at how much we do travel, I know how lucky we are), you get so used to it that it’s annoying, but kind of second nature to do everything. My sons have been traveling since infancy — my youngest is so proud for having flown at 6 days old!! — and are such pro travelers it’s a joy to behold. It’s also fun to have the luxury of traveling without them!

My last trip, to San Francisco with my son’s robotics team was from this same airport! This is helpful to me because I feel comfortable that I’ve been here before. Ok, I meant to blog to say that I still don’t know for sure if I will be able to board my plane to Argentina because my upcoming flight has a delay. But I hope I can!!  I’ll try to update this post.

The Year of the Unfortunately Thwarted Travels - Part II

Today I leave for another trip, but this trip has also been altered by events outside of our control. I hope it will have a true "happy ending," in spite of the stress it has caused us.

My dad turns 80 on November 6 and my brother decided that it would be a good idea to make my dad's dream to visit Tierra del Fuego -- the Southernmost place on a continent on Earth -- come true. So he talked to my mom and they planned a surprise trip for dad. They also asked if I could come and after consulting with my colleague I decided to find people to help with my classes and to go too!

Well, the first thing that went wrong was that my dad (who was suspicious because of some charges from Argentina in his credit card) went through my mom's emails and found out about the trip. They kept telling him I wasn't going, though, to try to keep at least this part a surprise.

I leave the U.S. today, but my parents and my brother were leaving Brazil on Tuesday, since my brother is finishing his MBA and has classes on Monday nights. Friday night, my brother received a series of ominous emails from Aerolineas Argentinas saying that they had scheduled a general strike for Tuesday 10/31 and that their flights were cancelled!

When I got up Saturday morning I noticed that my Tuesday flight had been cancelled from my reservation as well! :-( We all spent several hours calling airlines and trying to change our flight and we finally did -- except that my parents and brother will miss TWO WHOLE DAYS of a six-day trip. :-( I am missing only Tuesday evening, since I'll get to Ushuaia (the world's Southernmost town) on Wednesday morning. My family will join me on Thursday.

For a moment there I thought we would have to completely cancel, and we probably should have, since my brother and my mom, whose previous tickets had been purchased with miles, had to cancel those and purchase new tickets, which cost them a lot of money!

I hope with all my heart that the trip will be uneventful even in spite of these unfortunate circumstances. I will try to keep you posted!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Year of the Unfortunately Thwarted Travels - Part I

If you're a longtime reader you know our family travels a lot! It used to be mostly within the U.S., to Canada, and to & from Brazil where we are from and where most of our extended family members live. Starting in 2012, though, we began to go on a few trips to other faraway places thanks to my mother-in-law's successful travel agency business!

First it was an amazing trip to South Africa (I wrote 10 posts about that one!) in March 2012, then, a couple of trips to Brazil, and in 2015 we had a long and marvelous "Epic Family trip" first to the Middle East (Egypt, Jordan, and Israel) and then to Europe (Germany, Switzerland & a tiny corner of France -- Chamonix/Mont Blanc). I even created a label about the epic trip so I could link to all posts together here. Last year I barely blogged out trip to Brazil since I didn't have a laptop in which I could download my photos (now I do! It's a work laptop, but I will be using it to blog!), but on that nearly 6 weeks long trip we did two "epic" things, visited Foz do Iguaçu and the Iguaçu/Iguazu Falls (Cataratas do Iguaçu) and spent two short, but marvelous days in Rio de Janeiro.

So, this year didn't begin with grandiose travel plans, except that my brother-in-law K3 who lives in Doha, Qatar (they teach at the American school there), invited the whole family to spend Christmas with them. My mother-in-law decided it would be more exciting if we spent a week in Dubai (United Arab Emirates -- UAE) first, so she booked a few suites there and was planning some outings for us, and then we'd spend a week in Doha. So in the end we were having one major trip in 2017.

In April, I think, my husband decided to go ahead and purchase our tickets to go on the trip. We were flying in and out of Dubai because it was cheaper, and would buy our flight to and from Doha later (it's less than 1 hour flying, and pretty cheap). As you may remember from reading/listening to the news, it turns out that because of the TV channel Al Jazeera and some other disputes, several Arabic countries (UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia & Bahrain) decided on a blockade against Qatar in the early summer, hence completely destroying the plans for our trip.

Of course we were the only ones who had actually bought tickets, so we had to think of alternate plans. United was kind enough to let us switch the flight from Dubai to Doha, Qatar, and also the date, from Christmas from Thanksgiving. I wasn't very happy about this because my thinking is that if you're spending more than 3K on a trip it should be longer than six days, but whatever... In any case, you won't believe what happened! Lufthansa cancelled its Frankfurt Doha flight ENTIRELY back in September. Seriously!! And the annoying customer service people at United kept saying our flight was ok (in spite of us telling them we'd read in the news Lufthansa had announced the cancellation), until they found out it wasn't (DUH!) a week later and called us frantically several times.

In conclusion, we asked for our refund and had to sadly tell our brother-in-law, SIL, nephew and niece that we wouldn't be visiting them after all. :-( I felt sorry for the kids who were looking forward to having guests! We debated going to Europe (our initially desired destination before this whole brouhaha started in April) to meet up with K3, but he bought their tickets to fly here instead, so the whole family will meet up for the holidays (my mother-in-law rented a house in the Poconos, PA, since there are 17 of us. We are hoping to hit a few indoor water-parks there, since we don't know if it will be snowy/cold enough to hit the slopes).

That's all there is about that huge thwarted trip, but there's one more messed up trip (not entirely!), and I hope to blog about that shortly!


Thursday, October 26, 2017

66 or 23 more posts to go

Once more, I want to pursue the "silly" goal of 117 posts in 2017.

If I find it too hard to write 66 posts, which would be PRECISELY one post a day until Dec. 31st (yikes!!), I'll settle for 77. ;-)  That's way more manageable, only 23 more posts to go!

In any case, if I post daily in November, I should be good, shouldn't I? (old NaBloPoMo!) In any case, I know that once I get going, or "start talking writing" it'll be easy to keep going.

So... yeah, I have a feeling that 66  more posts would be relatively easy. OK, let me post this and get started right away! I feel good about the prospect of blogging more often. I just wish the Blogger app still worked so I could blog from my phone more easily. Now with a bigger screen I can probably manage doing it from the browser.

I'll be back soon!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I really don't know...

... why I'm not blogging more or, I mean, much, or at all.

There's no good reason, perhaps the main one is that I have the (probably correct) impression nobody reads anymore, it's no longer a community. And I HATE that I spend so much time on stupid Facebook because I want to continue to have some relationship with people I met through blogging.

Sigh... such a lame reason to waste time on social media!

Everything is going ok. My title at work has changed. It's supposed to make us feel less bad, or to make us almost believe that we actually have some professional dignity. It's the same title of TT faculty, with "General Faculty" attached at the end.

It's a cosmetic change. No pay raise, no other benefits. More work because some service will be required -- they need more people to populate committees that will "promote" other faculty to the same "fake" rank.

I am sorry if I am horribly bitter about all this. I've hardly had the courage to blog about it... it is what it is. I will, after my review next year, have some actual stability, and that's good, but I want to be able to take a semester leave without losing my job so my husband can take a sabbatical and we can go live in Europe for about 6 months. Maybe it will be possible -- but by then the kids will be older and probably won't come with us. :-(

I am not very happy about my teaching, as usual... but everything is going ok.

I have a trip coming up, but I hope to blog about that in a separate post.

My mom turns 77 in 4 days and my dad will be 80 in two weeks -- that's the reason of my trip, BTW.

OK, more later!

P.S. (ETA 10/24, 10:50 am) What makes me more depressed is that for our "promotion" only research about pedagogy counts. We have ZERO intellectual freedom. I mean, we can do some research, publish, present (no funds to go to conferences, BTW, only with grants that only let us apply for pedagogical stuff again), but it won't count. And this "lower," second-class pseudo tenure is becoming the norm. I know I should be thankful that 1) I have a full-time job; 2) I have a multi-year contract and hence higher pay; 3) I will actually have stability.

Sigh... why can't we do research too if we were trained for it and are passionate about it. Are we really such a threat to the tenure system? Is it our fault that there aren't enough jobs to go around and too many of us?

As I'm getting older and more bitter I begin to regret having gotten a PhD. WHAT FOR???? Academia is the worst, it really is. 

And I guess it makes perfect sense I haven't been blogging. I don't want to be whiny and annoying, so why even write here? :-(