Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Bus trip to the Everglades

I knew there was a reason I didnít like bus tours. Youíd think it would be the bus itself, but I think I spent too much time on a school bus as a child to complain about a relatively comfortable tour bus.

No, itís the itinerary. Yesterdayís bus tour lasted for 5 hours. It consisted of 3 hours on the bus, 1 hour at an alligator farm and 1 hour at the Everglades National Park. Now, you canít do too much about the 3 hours on the bus. But you can do a little. First of all, you can avoid getting lost (twice). Secondly, you can cut the drive time some by limiting yourself to one destination. (Probably a better part of the park than we saw.)

We were warned before hand that the alligator farm wasnít the best place to see alligators...after all, they arenít in the wild there. Then why where we there? For a boat ride. OK. We were also told that there would be two boats. One would have the "wild" ride and the other would have a calmer ride. Since I didn't want to get the camera wet, I chose the calmer ride. As it turned out, the people on the "wild" boat said it wasn't all that wild, and nobody got wet. It's just as well. I wouldn't have wanted the trepidation of damaging the camera combined with the disappointment of the ultimate tameness of it all. The boat ride itself was somewhat interesting. It was neat to be out "on top of" the Everglades.

After that, it was off to the actual national park. We ended up at Anhinga Trail with an hour to sight-see. I decided to walk for half an hour and turn around. About 30 minutes into my walk, I looked around at familiar surroundings. Apparently the trail is a (short) loop. So I sat down for a while to contemplate my surroundings.

Swamps aren't my favorite type of terrain. Still, I was impressed by the large variety of bird life, and the large quantity of 'gator life. Overall, though, the trip failed the crucial test of whether I could have done better myself. In some instances, like the Korea trip, I would have been at a loss on my own. It occurs to me that many of the attendees at this conference were in a similar situation of being in a foreign country. So this trip probably did them well.

It was nice to see another World Heritage Site. Also, the tour was sponsored by Microsoft. I'll leave it to you to make up your own jokes.

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Monday, January 06, 2003

Waking up in Miami

I woke up this morning with the vague sense that something wasn't right. As the fog of sleep slowly lifted itself from my brain, I realized I wasn't at home, I was in Miami. I looked at the alarm clock. 8:30. Hmm, looks like the watch alarm I set for 7 didn't do the trick. I was up 'til around 1:30 last night (my plane didn't get in until 11), so I guess I slept deeply.

Fortunately, the conference is being held at the convention center attached to the hotel, so I actually made it there by the 8:50 opening remarks. And with a Pepsi in my hand. I had to wait until the 10:00 coffee break to grab some Combos from the gift shop.

One of the unfortunate consequences of having the conference in the convention center is that there isn't the free Internet access there often is at these conferences. My choice is either the "business center" at $30/hour, or using the laptop's modem at $1/call. I'm using the latter right now.

Sunday, January 05, 2003

Baby, Baby

We went to the Anne Arundel Medical Center today (Saturday) to visit our friends Martin and Jeanene. Jeanene had their baby at 5:40 this morning. After they finally got a bit of sleep this afternoon, we visited them at around 6. They were doing really well. The hospital was really nice. My allergist is located nearby, and I had my nasal polyps removed there. Anyway, some of the "traditional" ideas about a maternity ward don't apply there. There's a bed in the mom's room where where the dad can sleep. There's no nursery with all the babies lined up; the baby stays in the mom's (and dad's) room. They have high-tech bracelets identifying mom, dad and baby.

Martin handed his son over to Christina; he said if he asked people if they wanted to hold the baby, they felt funny. So he just did it. Then Christina handed the baby to me. Gulp. I had never held a baby younger than several months old. After a moment, I was able to breathe. Then I was able to hear the baby breathe. It was really wonderful, magical, to hear someone that small breathe, to watch him yawn. Amazing. Of course, I wasn't around for the pooping.

Anyway, I look forward to seeing the kid develop. Welcome to the world, Lucas Patrick Burke, and if you're reading this, congratulations on figuring out how to use the Internet. Is it 2006 yet where you are?