adventures in a missed flight

Today I had an exciting new experience: I missed a flight. Oh my gracious goodness. First time for everything, right? And I’m normally so responsible! So here’s a photo essay to document the experience. Because I have lots of time to kill before my rescheduled flight.

My flight was scheduled for 8:25 AM, and lately I’ve been too busy to prepare, so I decided to stay up to pack and grab a taxi at 5ish. I closed my eyes for a second and the next thing I know, it’s 7 AM. Whups. Threw stuff in my suitcase, ran out the door, and hailed a taxi. It’s about an hour’s drive, so it was obvious I wasn’t going to make it, but in case there was another morning flight, I thought getting to the airport ASAP was priority.

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In the cab I called the travel agent, and when I was told there were no flights until the afternoon, I had the taxi stop at Twosome Coffee instead, because coffee makes everything better. Newly opened on Taixing Road, between West Nanjing Road and Wujiang Road, it’s located in a great location next door to Cachet Boutique, which is a nice boutique hotel I’ve been working with. The coffee was pretty good, I had an Americano … because I’m patriotic like that.

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Was waiting for the agent to call back with availability, and decided to once again head to the airport, this time taking the Line 2 metro, which is slower than a cab but cheaper. On the train they called and I booked a new ticket leaving at 3 PM.

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I was already way far out in Pudong at that point, so it would’ve ridiculous to go home to wait just to come back an hour later. I arrived at the Pudong International Airport at about 10:30 AM.

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Check in wouldn’t start until 12:30, so I chilled. Wandered around the few snack shops and bookstores.

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Ended up at Burger King even though I had BK for dinner last night … not many options for food outside security. Tried their chili cheese fries, aka Cheese and Spicy Beef Sauce French Fries. There wasn’t enough sauce for the amount of fries and the sauce was too sweet, but they were decent enough and today’s a day for new experiences.

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The check-in process was easy enough, but since I only have a carry-on with me, I much would’ve preferred to use a kiosk, but alas, China Southern Airlines isn’t that technologically advanced.

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Then there was customs, which I breezed through like a boss. I’m so glad they’ve gotten over the whole taking off your shoes part of the screening process! I’m by no means a frequent flier, but I’ve flown enough to know how to get through without getting stopped, having anything confiscated, or beeping in metal detectors – lessons that were hard learned (ah, my favorite embroidery scissors … I’m sorry I had to abandon you in Xi’an!).

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After the security check I still had over an hour, so I browsed the duty free shops.

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And the other duty free shops.

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And the others too. Might as well, right?

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And wandered up and down the terminal. What did I find? More gates – yawn.

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Finally I sat down at my assigned gate, took a deep breath, and opened my suitcase. Wow that was a mess. When I say I threw things in this morning, I wasn’t kidding. And yep, I forgot my toiletries bag. Sigh.

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A gate change brought me to the lower level … which is the same area I waited in on my way to Hong Kong and to Tokyo. Huh.

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Boarding! Ciao! And only six and a half hours behind schedule. It’s been fun (not really)!

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how to survive the library

Since I’ve been spending quite a lot of time in the library stacks of Avery, I thought I’d offer some tips on how to survive the experience. Also, I’m procrastinating. Can’t you tell?

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1. Beware overhead objects. Make note of them, but do not get distracted by the exposed pipes and/or wiring. When you are losing interest in your research material, letting your eyes wander to the fascinating aspects of the ceiling can be disastrous. Do not let your concentration shift upwards. Or sideways. Or any direction other than the next page.

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2. Put some muscle into it. Who said academics were all weaklings in ivory towers? There’s some real force required to shift some of the movable stacks, so throw your shoulder into it and get those gears cranking. Turning them bit by bit only reduces the momentum and prolongs your stay. If there are multiple stacks bunched together, you’re going to have to move each one individually, so just get it over with.

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3. Kick to save your life. If caught between electronically-moving stacks, kick the red/white strip running along the base to avoid being crushed. If you’re caught between hand-cranked stacks, for goodness’s sake, YELL. When you have safely escaped from the enclosing wall of books, smack the person who didn’t check the aisle before moving the stack and feel free to glare at them evilly any time you see him/her in the future.

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4. Don’t get lost. One of the worst things is to go down a row and forget the specific call number, volume number, or issue number of whatever it is you are looking for. That many books in a small area can be disorienting – arm yourself with a list and a game plan. If you have multiple books on your list, make note of which stacks are already open and then work out the best order to retrieve them before you go around shifting stacks. Be prepared for the onslaught of books!

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5. Accept assistance when needed. If you are short, own it. The stacks can go up pretty high and this isn’t the stretching Olympics, so don’t risk throwing out your back, pulling a muscle, or having a book fall on your head. Save your strength for flipping all those pages and grab a step stool. Plus, if there’s a step stool in the aisle with you, you can’t get crushed to death.

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6. Check the clock, at least occasionally. Or you will be in here forever. This is the only exception to #1. When there’s no window and you’re all by yourself, it can be hard to gauge how much time has gone by. If you don’t occasionally glance up at the clock, time will run recklessly wild. You will skip lunch, skip dinner, and before you know it the library is closing and some guy is telling you to pack up your stuff and leave. And then you will look up at him with tears in your eyes muttering about how you’re not done. Avoid that.

Happy researching!

all wrapped up: the phase box

I was in the library the other day looking at some old books, and I went off in search of Diderot’s Encyclopédie. And when I found the row of volumes, the books were all wrapped up and tied with bows. It was adorable.

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I had seen books in archival phase boxes before, but usually the boxes are fairly new, constructed of mounting board or some such, and the closures are Velcro. These boxes however, were … um, not really boxes. Only the front cover, spine, and back cover had hard surfaces, and the flaps that go around the pages’ exposed three edges were a flexible sort of textile. Not exactly archival.

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Oh, and I got really nervous at one point when the corner of the page CRUMBLED AT MY TOUCH. Woah. I wonder how long those books sat there before I messed with them. Pretty neat to see books that are super old, but at the same time, it’s kinda nasty thinking about how many people have touched the pages before you, and as you’re flipping through the pages, you’re basically breathing in dust particles that have been trapped for YEARS.

libraries are scary

I’m not a big fan of libraries. I just don’t like the smell or feel of musty dusty books. Don’t get me wrong though, because libraries are amazing places. Why should you buy books when you can have access to them for free? However, not all libraries are created equal. And the stacks are always the worst part of any library.

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The C. V. Starr Library is great in terms of its content and I go there quite often, but I have to spend most of my time below ground where the stacks (and majority of books) are … and it’s not a very happy place. The ceilings are low, not all the lights work, and I’m always afraid I’m going to drop something down to the floor below, get my foot stuck in one of the openings, or take a tumble down the stairs in some of the aisles. Sigh. Those stacks always make me so anxious!

cutting up glossies

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is being re-posted here for my own sake.]

At work, I’m organizing files to be archived. In the file cabinets there were some magazines, but only certain articles were relevant for the archives, meaning … I had to cut up an Artforum. ACK!

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I am one of those people who does not write in books. I don’t highlight. I don’t even fold pages. I just do not mess with publications. It seems so blasphemous. And then to CUT UP a magazine, especially one like Artforum? Sadness. Pure sadness in my mind. Especially because according to the archiving procedures, I had to cut out the relevant articles AND the cover … and the rest of the mutilated glossy could go into recycling.

Sigh. I have a stack of Better Homes and Gardens and I don’t even tear those apart. I might place a post-it note on an article to get back to, but I don’t think I could bring myself to destroy it. Oy. Yes, I’m a bit neurotic about these things, but it truly pained me to cut up those magazines!

being bad

Okay, so … I’ve been procrastinating. I’ve pretty much been chilling out at my apartment and being a useless human being. To be fair, I was sick over the weekend so I just laid around drinking water and eating crackers, but that’s really no excuse for my laziness. I have watched A LOT of television shows on hulu.com though: Kings, New Amsterdam, The Listener, Jack of All Trades, and Death Note. Oh, and last night I went out and saw “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”. I actually enjoyed the movie and thought they did a pretty good job with it, but I think they over-emphasized all of the teenage relationship drama.

I have been somewhat good though. I finished reading “Prodigal Summer”, which I found to be an okay book. Not exactly my type of novel since it just felt too static. I’m not sure if that’s exactly the word I’m looking for, but most of the novel is written from within people’s heads, so there’s not so much action but a whole lot of thinking. It was well-written and I can see why it’s a rather successful novel, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Now I just need to finish off “Mere Christianity” so I can finally return it to my friend. I borrowed it over a year ago. Yeah, I’m a bad friend. Hm, that reminds me that one of my friends still has my copy of “Sophie’s World” from a year or two ago.

I haven’t boughten anything unnecessary in a while either. Well … I did buy one spool of ribbon, but it was just one! It’s just simple 5/8″-wide white satin ribbon, which is always useful, right? That’s my justification. Oh, and it was just a dollar too. Forgive me? I also caved and asked my roommate to buy me some croissants for me because I was craving them. I’m trying to finish off all the food that I have before I move, so I wasn’t supposed to buy any more food. But a girl needs a little indulgence once in a while. And today I finally pulled out some boxes and am starting to pack. Okay, that’s not exactly true. I did pull out some boxes, but they’re still empty at this point. Oops.

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is re-posted here for my own sake.]

spring cleaning

Ah, that time of the year again, when you realize just how much crap you have accumulated. For me, it was mostly papers. Old notes and tests that I always told myself I’d go back and review, but never did and now have no inclination to ever do so. I think the oldest papers were from 2004 … five years! Sheesh, I can be such a pack rat. So I started the long process of going through all my folders and sorting the stuff I wanted to keep (a very small pile indeed) and papers for recycling. The latter stack is about eight inches high and I’m only about half done.

But I also found some pretty cool stuff mixed in with my old school papers. Namely, some black and white images my sister had found in some old book and some old bookmarks that match my summer reading! I borrowed “Mere Christianity” from a friend over a year ago, and since I still haven’t read it and we’re graduating next year, I figure I really need to read it and hand it back. And then my sister bought me “Prodigal Summer”, so I’ll read that. I was just uber-excited because I found both green and gray bookmarks that match the covers! Ah, the simple joys in life.

So yes, I’m supposed to be working on projects and what-not, but I’m cleaning and organizing for the time-being with a lot of planning on the side. Once I get back to my apartment and I start a more normal schedule with school, work, and reading, it’ll probably be easier to set aside some crafting time. Well, that’s the plan. And in even sadder news, froze the hard drive, did nothing, so now I’m kind of screwed. I could shell out for professional recovery of my files, but that costs money which I don’t really have.

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is re-posted here for my own sake.]