The past month or so has been a little crazy from the perspective of both real life and work. I had a presentation to give before the department prior to the Thanksgiving holiday as part of my required tasks in the doctoral program here. That had me rather stressed in preparation for it, as it looks poorly upon myself to do a poor job of presenting the material of the paper I chose for this, or to do a shoddy job of evaluating or critiquing the work presented. That talk went relatively okay, however it was on the observed Veteran’s Day holiday; the turn-out of attendants was rather meager. So meager in fact that the department head decided to send out a mildly berating email to all of the graduate students and faculty, vocalizing the expectations of these seminar presentations and how this ill-suited attendance was not one of them. I was worried at first that I preempted some general berating remark aimed at the entire graduate student body for a unsatisfactory performance in the seminar, but that was clearly not the case, thankfully! Unfortunately, no one opted to fill out evaluation forms for my talk, so I never really got any feedback, aside from the prototypical, “that was a nice talk,” and “you did a nice job!” I am hoping for a little more interest next year!

After my presentation, things were pretty much one after another for a little while. We had a guest seminar speaker come to give a talk for our department whom happens to be a pretty influential person in the field of research that I do. I was originally planned to have lunch with him (along with other members of my lab) and get to listen to his talk, but we had a flight rescheduled for the following evening moved the following morning. Unfortunately, I had to cut and run after lunch, and never got to hear his talk, although I got to hear him mention tidbits that he’d cut himself off talking about because he was going to speak about them in his talk. Grrr!

The rescheduled flight was only part of the following craziness. I found out the evening after I gave my presentation talk that my flight times had been changed (CheapTickets.com never notified me of these, I had to check myself), changed such that my connection flight left before I would arrive at Newark International for that connection flight! Regardless, this needed to get changed; changed it did, they moved our flight from late 6ish in the evening to 9ish in the morning, with a 3 hour layover instead of the original 40 minute one we had. This wasn’t very appealing, since this meant Holly would have to take another day off of work, now that she was already at two days off almost right before Thanksgiving break. We didn’t really have a choice, so we opted for the new inconvenient flight itinerary.

We were flying that day because my mother’s parents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in Austin, TX, and they invited all of their children to come. Well, more of a requiring all of their children to come. It was essentially the ceremony they wished they had, as they didn’t have much of a ceremony when they originally got married; my grandmother was very ill shortly before the wedding, so it was an extremely small ceremony with just them, the priest and two witnesses. Afterwards, my grandmother had to be taken directly to the hospital because she was in such rough shape after that. So this was their way to get all of their family back together (they and their kids hadn’t been together all at the same time in a little over 20 years, if I remember correctly) and celebrate their wedding much more like the way they envisioned it. It went beautifully! I have numerous pictures from it all sitting in my Flickr account if anyone feels so inclined to look at them. I have some video footage as well, but that likely won’t show up until I do some editing with it, likely this weekend.

The night before we left Austin, I checked online once again to make sure our flight itinerary was okay. Lo and behold, our flight plans changed again, and once again without any notification from CheapTickets.com. This time, however, our connecting flight was cancelled. Our itinerary had us flying to Dulles International in Washington, DC, with nothing to get us to Buffalo. I was appalled at this point that they don’t even attempt to reschedule or “repair” our flights. I had to call in again, get put on hold for nearly 40 minutes just to find out our only available flight is after a six hour layover in Dulles!

In Dulles, we find about everything we can do to do. About three hours into it, we’re pretty well bored with it, so we decide to migrate to our terminal and crash there until we leave. We find out about an hour prior to flight departure that our flight is over weight restriction and they need people to give up their seats for a later flight in order to accommodate. Bear in mind, they are offering free round-trip tickets in lieu of the relinquished seat in addition to the delayed return, but honestly I couldn’t stand waiting around for another three hours for our flight home. Eventually, about 15 minutes prior to boarding, they finally announced that they were under weight restriction and would be able to fly. Ironically, however, there was a flight to Pittsburgh that was both over-weight and over-booked, and they needed nine people to give up seats. Nine!!!

Alright, that’s enough for now. I’ll fill in more later!