oxymoron67: (snoopy)
This April, I was flying into Pittsburgh to attend a conference and to visit the family. While the sky was overcast throughout the flight, the rain actually held off until right when the plane was landing. By the time we got to the gate at the terminal, it was a downpour.

I wasn’t all that surprised. See, I have a superpower. When I travel, I bring bad weather with me. Call me Low Pressure Lad.

My friends spotted the pattern over twenty years ago. Every overnight trip I’d take, be it for work, family or vacation, involved bad weather.

And they’re right. Over the years, I’ve brought an ice storm into Indianapolis with me… the remnants of a tropical storm hit Atlanta the day I flew in for a family get-together… the first tornado to touch down in the city of Pittsburgh in over fifty years hit the night after I arrived in the city for a break from grad school.

The list goes on. I mean, the above examples are championship-level events, and I can’t manage weather that extreme all the time. Sometimes, it’s just drizzle or fog.

You’d think that this would be really useful: I could be called in to douse forest fires or end droughts, for example.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. I can’t control it: sometimes I produce ice storms; other times, just really uncomfortable humidity.

Before you ask, I’ve tried to get this power under control, but I just can’t figure out how. I mean, which muscle do you flex when you want it to rain? Is it different than the one for snow? What if I want some combo-pack of weather, like, say, fog and freezing rain? How many muscles does that require? I haven’t been able to figure it out.

Before you say, “Well, what if this power is psychic in nature?”, I’ve thought of that, too. Do you know how difficult it is to concentrate on CLOUDS? I’ll be sitting at some outdoor café looking at the sky thinking, “C’mon, get cloudier! More clouds! FOG!” and then some really hot guy walks by and I’ll be all, “Oooo… he has a nice ass” and I’ll have to start all over again.

Or I’ll be trying to influence the weather while I’m wearing my headphones, and my taste in music will betray me: “Bring the lightning! Bring the thunder! Make it rain!... It’s raining men! Hallelujah! It’s raining men! Amen!”

As you can imagine, that ruins the whole “weather-controlling” mood.

Even if I COULD manage to concentrate long enough, I have to wonder if I’m concentrating on the correct thing. I mean… do I concentrate on clouds? Temperature? Wind?

So, my powers are likely to remain uncontrolled for the foreseeable future.

Still, I have to wonder why I have this power. I mean, no one else in my family has a superpower. Trust me, I’d know: we’re talkers, all of us. We suck at keeping secrets.

Maybe it’s a queer thing. Maybe Mother Nature gives some of her queer children an extra gift to even things out, and possibly to take vengeance on the homophobic world.

If that’s the case, then Pat Robertson would be right to blame us queers for all the natural disasters that strike the U.S., though he is wrong about the underlying cause. It’s not God saying, “Hate the queers” so much as it is God saying, “Be careful or my queers will FUCK YOU UP!”

That would be cool.
_________________________________

This was in response to the prompt "No Capes." I worked with the delightful [livejournal.com profile] porn_this_way, whose similarly themed entry can be found here.

You can read them in whichever order you please. And... who knew? Queers with superpowers are more common than you'd think.

Holidays!

Dec. 30th, 2011 08:40 pm
oxymoron67: (Default)
I haven't been posting lately, mostly because I decided to take time off from my online life while I was visiting the family in Pittsburgh.

Because I'm teaching during the winter mini-term, I only spent nine days there. Normally it's about two or two and a half weeks.

The plane tickets were ridiculously expensive, so I took the train. It was about one third of the cost of the plane tickets. The train was fine: the way to Pittsburgh, it wasn't that crowded. I left the Tuesday before Christmas, before most people were leaving. The trip back yesterday? Sold out.

I spent a lot of time with my eldest nephew, whose ankle hasn't fully healed yet, and will likely need more surgery. There is some sort of medicine that might be able to help, but he'd have to stop smoking to do that, and he's unwilling to do so.

Don't ... just don't.

Meantime, my mom did something to HER ankle, and, between that and her arthritis, was walking like the hunchback of Notre Dame for the few days that I was home. I know she was in pain because the walker was out. She didn't USE it mind you, but it was out.

Normally, as a family, we go out and have geeky fun while I'm home, but none of us had the energy. I was slightly under the weather most of the time I was home, one of my sisters was working, mom and the nephew had their issues... It just didn't happen.

I think my family was more upset about this than I was. Since grad school, when I would travel back and forth to visit, I;ve loosened up about things. I'm genuinely happy to spend time with my family AT ALL*, going out to do any of the amazingly geeky things that one can do in Pittsburgh with them is a bonus.

*Anyone who knew me twenty-ish years ago might be surprised at this sentiment.

Still, it was relaxing. And nice to get away. I love NYC. I absolutely love the city, but living here can be exhausting.

I will likely be back in the Burgh in late March/early April for a conference. I don't understand why a conference would announce a call for papers when everyone was on vacation, but whatever. I'll talk more about the conference when I put together my proposal.

I don't really have New Year's plans, mostly because, right now, I;m dealing with an attack of ... um... intestinal distress. This happens to me sometimes when I travel.
oxymoron67: (Default)
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I've always wanted to spend a summer (or year) traveling in Europe. So, let's go with that.

Understand, it wouldn't be the beach. As I sunburn scarily easy* and bright sunlight gives me a headache, the beach is a bad choice.

Besides, imagine my geekgasms as I went from museum to museum in Europe.

*I may have told this story before... if I did, please forgive.

Back in the early to mid-90's, I would go to a Memorial Day picnic with friends at my friend's mother's house. This particular friend also is pale.

Well, one bright, shiny Memorial Day, I was at the picnic, and wasn't paying attention. We were outside playing badminton and croquet and generally having fun. I did not use sunscreen.

By the time dinner rolled around, my arms weren't just red... they were almost purple. I was in an immense amount of pain for two days. My arms cramped up, like my skin had shrunk and was squeezing my arms. Then everything started to peel.

As I discovered when my chest was sunburned the last time, peeling skin and body hair? Not a happy mix.

Anyway, I was sunburned SO badly that next Memorial Day, my friend;s mother brought out sunscreen specifically for me.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I had fun. The train was timely.

My sisters and I met up on Friday at Philadelphia's train station (they drove, I didn't.). From there we checked in at the hotel and went to the Star Trek and Galileo exhibits.

Both exhibits are at The Franklin Institute. Galileo is there until Sept. 6th; Star Trek, until the 20th.

The Star Trek exhibit is worth going to. They had lots of the original costumes, a history of the various ships named Enterprise (including the space shuttle and the aircraft carrier), clips of the various shows and movies, lots of props. It was a very well done exhibit exploring the science and science fiction behind Star Trek as well as its ... mythos, for lack of a better word.

It's interesting, a lot of the props that look so cool on the screen look like toys up close.

We had our picture taken on the Transporter Pad and then on the bridge of the Next Generation's bridge. Erin sat in the Captain's chair, Sandy was in the security officer's spot and I was in the counselor's chair.

It was great. I said things like "That ship that's about to fire on us? I sense great hostility from it."

My only complaint? the temperature of the exhibit. It was ungodly warm. I was soaked in sweat by the time we were done.

After a stop in the Star Trek gift shop, we went to the Galileo exhibit. Honestly, it was more of a "Galileo and his sponsors the Medicis" exhibit, but it still was great. It discussed, very briefly, the rise of the Medici family, and the fact that they not only were great patrons of the arts, but of the sciences as well.

I have some minor complaints with the layout of this exhibit: after a while all the compasses and sextants started to blend together... but the documents were neat, as were the multimedia things. Although one of the mutlimedia stations -- the one that detailed the wars between Florence and Siena-- was done completely in Italian with no English translation.

I could read it... I know Spanish and French after all, but it was a bit of a pain and I lost interest.

After that, we were all touristed out for the day. So we went to dinner and talked smack about family members not there caught up, then made plans for Saturday.

Saturday, we decided we wanted to do a Ride the Ducks Tour. It was fun: it lasted a little over an hour and we went by many tourist attractions then went into the Delaware River for a while.

Then, we quickly went through the Independence Hall visitor's center -- there was an exhibit there on Philadelphia's role in the Abolition movement and in the Underground Railroad. On our way to lunch, we passed where the Liberty Bell is, but, frankly, I wasn't willing to wait in line for an hour to see a bell.

After lunch, we walked over to the Constitution Center. That was fun. First, there is a performance piece about the Constitution, then we toured the permanent exhibits in the Center. We also bought tickets for the Napoleon exhibit currently there.

I was amazed at the amount of Napoleon's stuff that was there. I knew that Louis XVIII had much of it destroyed when the Bourbons were restored to power after Waterloo, so I didn't expect so many books, letters and articles of clothing. Yet, there they were.

My favorite piece? Discussing Napoleon's exile on St. Helena after Waterloo, well, St. Helena had a very humid environment, so when Napoleon was gardening, he would where his hair tied up in a scarf in the style of Aunt Jemima. (Josephine, herself a Creole from the French Caribbean, showed him the style.)

A really cool exhibit.

After that, we threw pennies on Ben Franklin's grave and then were, again, all touristed out.

Sunday morning, someone at the hotel pulled a fire alarm. This was the only glitch in an otherwise wonderful weekend.
oxymoron67: (Gay Army)
A bit long. )
oxymoron67: (Default)
I've had a busy past few days. On Saturday I attended (and presented at) a language learning and tech conference held at Rutgers. Rutgers' campus is very pretty. I only got lost once. I thought everything was taking place at the language lab, but the event was ACTUALLY being held in the student center. Fortunately the student center is easy to find, as it is pink.

The plenary speaker was a little underwhelming. I can sum up her 45 minute long presentation in two sentences:

1. Learning languages is important!
2. Tech can help!

*sigh*

After that, I attended several interesting sessions, on things like developing spoken language competency exams, microblogging with twitter and the development of a hybrid (75% online) course in French.

Neat stuff, and things I could potentially adapt/learn from for my own job.

My two presentations went well. If there's one thing I can do, it's talk. One was on electronic portfolios, the other an overview of all the different initiatives I'm involved in.

We had a lot of high school teachers at this conference. I loved it, but it led to something I've never done before. After my first presentation, several people came up to me and asked me to sign their certificate of attendance. I wondered why, until I looked at mine over lunch. To maintain a teaching certificate, most states require teachers to do so many hours of training or education per year. Attending an all-day conference is several hours of that. My signature was needed as proof of attendance.


Getting back and forth was easy-- the NJ Transit train dropped me right by campus then I got a bus. However, since the thing started at 9:00, I was on the 7:10 train to NJ, which meant that I was up at 5:00 am to get there -- so I could shower grab some coffee and not feel rushed while waiting for my local train to get me into the city.
oxymoron67: (Default)
We still have a ways to go. )
oxymoron67: (hypnobasset)
This baby is long, but it includes digressions into another travel story. )
oxymoron67: (hypnobasset)
I was at a language and technology conference in Boston all last week. It was a great deal of fun. I left NYC on Monday -- I took the train-- and nothing went wrong! (You'd be surprised how many things have gone wrong when I've traveled.) The hotel was undergoing renovations, but the constructions didn't start until later in the morning and only really bugged me one day.

I had a choice: I could stay in the hotel or save $30/night and live in the dorms for a week. I've already lived that life and am in no hurry to return to it.

The hotel had a free hot breakfast every morning (mmm.... waffles!) and a shuttle bus to the college holding the conference.

The conference itself was lots of fun. I presented twice, and, not to brag, but I rocked my two presentations: one on ePortfolios, and the other on Oral Communication Standards. So much so that I may be traveling to various colleges to talk some more. I was surprised by Friday's sudden hailstorm, though. It was raining really hard, and I had just finished lunch. I was thinking about running to the next session -- it was only two blocks away-- then the hail started. So, I pulled out my ipod and waited.

Still, overall, fun, fun, fun. I love conferences.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Lots of little stuff... )

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