You know, one thing about this economy is that, with everyone looking to reduce their travel costs and airlines shrinking their offerings, it's not impossible to get there from here, but it can take a while if you want to get there economically. Since airfares were weirdly high from Boston to Toronto, to get a doable fare I ended up taking about seven hours to get to ASAE and The Center's Annual Meeting in this lovely Canadian city, a trip that only actually requires an hour and a half or so of air time. Oh well, I always wanted to spend some quality time at the Newark airport.
Note about spending too much time in an airport: After a while, I started to notice myself really craving things that in hour one I didn't care about at all. Like a watch I noticed while killing some time in the Swatch store. I don't need a new watch. I don't want a new watch. It would never occur to me to even think about getting a new watch. But by hour three, I was becoming obsessed with a cute little number. Fortunately, I managed to make myself walk away, but it was a close call.
Toronto is as pretty as I remembered it (it's been a few years since my last visit here). The weather is similar to what it was in Boston, minus some of the oppressive humidity. The streets are clean, the people nice, the tourists touristing like they'd get a new Swatch for everything they checked off their must-do lists (OK, so I'm still a little obsessive over the watch thing).
Should I admit this? Oh, might as well...I'm not staying in the ASAE block. Due to the high air costs, I had to save somewhere, so I looked outside the block. The price was right at the Strathcona Hotel, and it didn't look scary from the Web site. It is, in fact, pretty nice so far. My room isn't huge, but it's clean and nice, and the front desk guy is a sweetheart, very helpful when I had problems connecting to the Internet. I'm still having problems--I can't connect from my room for some unknown reason, though I can get online elsewhere in the hotel. So, I'm typing this sitting on the floor in the hallway just outside my room. Hope my neighbors don't mind!
I'm contemplating trying to find out where the cool kids are hanging tonight. Or maybe I'll just go to bed early (what a concept!) so I'm ready to roll in high gear for the opening session in the morning.
One more note: When I was going through customs, the LCD displays saying what the various lines were for had a welcome message for ASAE attendees. So when she asked me what I was here for, I said for the ASAE conference. When I said I was just here until Tuesday, she chastised me for not staying longer, because "everyone else is staying for at least five days." I only wish I could, but I have to get back to work next week!
Also at the airport: I almost was run down by a galloping herd of TV journalists, people waving Kenyan flags, and assorted other folks who were chanting and yelling and generally causing a ruckus. It turns out that I got here about the same time as a Canadian woman named Suaad Hagi Mohamud who is in the news because she was denied re-entry into Canada after a trip to visit relatives in Kenya (story is here; what a saga). Then the journos had her coraled in the road right in front of my bus as we were trying to leave, which did not please the bus driver one bit. But we eventually got out, as I hope that poor woman did.