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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Boy, was I happy to see Norfolk

Tuesday morning I drove to the Manchester, NH airport, on my way to Norfolk, Virginia to speak at Old Dominion University. It'd been a few months since my last speaking engagement, so I was raring to go and actually glad to get away for a few days. The snow was starting to get to me at home.

My flight to Reagan in Washington, D.C. (the connecting flight) was delayed. I checked in and found I had to pay $15 to check my one bag (I had to fly to St. Louis the next day to do training at another conference, so I couldn't do just carry-on). Say what? I thought the first checked bag was free? But nooooooo. US Airways only lets the "high end" mileage members get free checked bags, not us lowly ones with a regular mileage card. Oh, pfft.

I get on the plane with a lunch I grabbed from Quizno's (kids meal, which was half a sub, chips and soda for $4.50) and was glad I did. Now they're charging for beverages, even a glass of frelling water. Coffee and tea is a buck, soda/water $2 and booze is $7. Yikes!!

Got to Reagan and found my flight was going to be delayed until after 2 pm. No biggie. Called Gretchen at ODU and let her know my flight would be late. I didn't have to speak until 7:30 pm, so she wasn't worried.

Then the cancellations began. A big storm in St. Louis and elsewhere began disrupting flights everywhere. One flight (not mine) to Norfolk was canceled. I almost began to bite my nails. My flight was delayed again, this time to 430 pm. Then to 502 pm, then to 522 pm. I called Gretchen each time, in between talking to Chris to get weather updates from him watching the Weather Channel.

My flight finally came in, but we didn't board until well after 5 pm. And first we had to take a shuttle bus to the little plane. Got on the plane and then had to wait to be de-iced. That took for-ev-er. Finally got in the air close to 6 pm. Well, no dinner or going to the hotel for me.

And get this: No charge for beverages on this US Airways flight. And people who gate-checked their rolling suitcases didn't have to pay $15. That is not frelling fair!! Make it consistent in pricing or don't do it at all. Believe me, I'll be writing US Airways a letter when I get home. Hmph.

Got to Norfolk at 7 pm. Met Gretchen and we ran to baggage claim. I told her I hoped she didn't mind me giving my presentation in what I was wearing - jeans and a winter top. She didn't care. These were college kids, after all. Got my bag, ran to her car. She zipped from the airport to ODU in record time.

Grabbed my stuff and ran inside. About 65 people were in the audience. It was now 745 pm. I apologized and said I literally just came from the airport. They were good about it. I talked while I set up and got a few laughs. The tech guy that was supposed to be there didn't show up, so I ended up connecting everything myself. It's a good thing I know what I'm doing, eh?

Started the presentation and focused on Facebook, Myspace and Juicycampus.com, targeting students from ODU who have profiles on Facebook and Myspace, showing them what I found. I emphasized the high unemployment rates (with screenshots of recent news stories) and told them what they put online could cost them grad school or a job. My message got through. I got a lot of great questions and when Gretchen emailed me the evals yesterday, all of them were great. Most said they appreciated my honesty, enthusiasm and that I was entertaining (Dane Cook, watch out!).

Gretchen drove me to the hotel, which was literally across the street. I checked in, ordered room service (this was at 9 pm and I was starving), called Chris, ate and pretty much collapsed in bed.

The next morning I got to enjoy the mild weather - in the 30s. Which is bathing suit weather compared to the below freezing we've been having, ha ha. Enjoyed some danish and coffee in my room, then packed for my next adventure, er, speaking engagement, as a trainer at the DoD Cyber Crime Conference in St. Louis.

Back to snow and cold weather. Brrrrr.

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