Saturday, January 07, 2006

What I learned in school today.


At the time that my flight plans were made, they seemed like a good idea. I had to go to Nova Southeastern University today to wrap up my last doctoral coursework. Other than dropping off my updated IRB paperwork and touching base with another faculty member there really wasn't much else for me to do there. So I left Buffalo at 6:30 am, arrived in Fort Lauderdale at 11:45 am (head winds were kind of strong today and slowed down the flight). I ran like OJ to get my rental car, I had a nice lunch with several of the faculty, chatted briefly with fellow doctoral students, dropped off my research proposal, and went to class. Class got out at 4:30 pm, so I headed to the airport and got on a 7:10 pm flight back north. I got in at 12:01 am, precisely, which makes my flight an 'overnight flight.' That amused me.

The weather in South Florida wasn't that bad. Here in Buffalo the weather has been miserable soggy wet rain. I got a 'weather alert' email stating that the temperature in Florida might drop into the 30s. I replied that I would pack Bermuda shorts, which was worth a few chuckles from everyone. Who doesn't like a Buffalo winter joke?

Anyway when I got there it was in the low 60s and kind of gray. One of my employees called and asked if I was going to the beach, but I told her that I saw the beach as I flew into the airport. The sky cleared by the afternoon and it was beautifully blue and sunny. It was 'only' 66 degrees so I am sure the natives were freezing, but to this northern boy it really made me stop and think twice about my choice to do Florida in a day.

The whole experience was kind of draining, and I just wanted to document it in case I get the brilliant idea to try this again sometime.

One bright spot (other than the sun which ultimately depressed me anyway) was talking to a cute 5 year old girl named Miranda in the airport. She was kind of active and kept running into my legs while I was dutifully trying to figure out why the power was draining out of the Palm at record speeds (seems that I left the wireless keyboard enabled and the infrared beam sucks up power. Hm.). Anyway the parent of this child was mortified, but I explained that I was used to kids running into me all day so it was no problem. The little girl was just 5 years old but she was a precocious reader. We had some fun reading airport signs.

She started off reading the signs indicating where we were flying, and then started telling me about the signs she read earlier in the day. "One said NO GUNS and NO KNIVES." "Yes," I answered, "we want everyone to be safe on the plane. Then she scrunched up her nose the way five year olds do and said, "Well then what is wrong with bringing 'ornaments' on the plane." I told her that I thought ornaments were fine, but she was insistent, "The sign said NO GUNS and NO KNIVES OR OTHER 'ORNAMENTS.'" Obviously the sign must have said 'armaments' but this was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

"Well why do you think there shouldn't be 'ornaments' on the plane?" I asked her, scrunching up my own nose. She got really serious, and said, "I understand about guns and knives, because they are bad. Maybe they don't want the ornaments to break, because when they break the glass is really sharp and some baby might get cut on it."

"You know," I said, "You are probably right. Ornaments probably woudn't be safe at all." After that she continued telling me about how she would have plastic ornaments when she grew up and she would bring them onto the plane and give them to the pilots. Then we read more signs.

I thought a lot about that conversation on the flight home. Today I talked about Medicare policy for powered mobility devices and continued competency/continuing education policies in different states . There were other topics too. But I think I enjoyed my conversation with Miranda the most.

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