Leaving Reflections | Projections 2009, travel marathon part two

Thanks, everybody, for coming out to the Job Fair and attending my talk at Reflections | Projections 2009. Though I should have predicted that scheduling a talk on Saturday morning means that attendance will be somewhat sparse. Thanks to the conference staff with special shout-outs to Kim Vlcek, Bhargav Nookala, Jim Wordelman, and Matt Dordal for taking care of me during the conference.

Returning to Seattle was also a minor adventure. On my way out out of town, I stopped by Papa Del's, generally considered the benchmark for Chicago-style pizza, but they don't sell single slices for take-out, and I didn't feel like eating an entire pizza. I guess I'll have something to look forward to at my next visit.

For the drive back to O'Hare, I once again stopped in Bourbonnais, this time at Mancino's Grinders and Pizza, which appears to be another Midwestern restaurant chain, though I didn't know it at the time. My rule of thumb when traveling is "If I've heard of it, then don't eat there." Translation: Avoid the national restaurant chains; eat something local. It may be great, it may not, but it'll be different.

I took too long of a dinner break, and when I arrived at the airport, the ticket agent told me my flight was taking off in five minutes. I went through security (no line!) and raced through the terminal. Of course, when you're running to your gate, your gate is inevitably one at the far end of the airport. As I ran past a pair of twentysomething white guys, one of them shouted, "Run, Chinky, run!"

Wow, I haven't heard that epithet since elementary school.

Up until that point, my interactions with the fine people of Illinois were uniformly positive, and I had found them all to be unfailingly polite and helpful. I'm going to give the state the benefit of the doubt and say that the guy and his buddy were visiting from another state. (Like maybe New Jerkland or something.)

I arrived at the gate in time. I'm not sure, but if I wasn't the last person on the plane, I was definitely one of the last. We landed in Seattle at around midnight, but since the last train to downtown Seattle departs at 12:06am, I asked my wife to pick me up.

Although I caught Alexis Ohanian's talk (and enjoyed it), I had to leave early to catch my flight and missed Ryan North's talk, which the post-conference chatter suggests was a monster hit. I'll have to wait to catch it when the video is posted.

... until I met a man who had no feet: My travel day was nothing compared to the gentleman in the seat next to me, who was in hour 25 of a 30-hour itinerary: Minsk to Kiev to Warsaw to Chicago to Seattle to Kennewick to home (the last leg by car).

More travel day chatter: The scientists on the Polaris Project have to suffer through a four-day trek from Bellingham, WA to Cherskiy, Russia even though the two cities are only 3000 miles apart. Reason: Federal regulations.

Comments (21)
  1. John says:

    Don’t worry about it; there are assholes everywhere.

  2. mastmaker says:

    Finally, you emulate us!

    My friend and I did this in Singapore airport in 2002. When we came out of immigration and started running, a couple of security people start running with us asking about our flight and calling ahead to hold it while we board. The flight took off within a minute of us getting in.

    We were so late, they had already unloaded our luggage as a security measure (we were in 24-hour transit at Singapore, so our luggage was booked through). The checked-in luggage eventually reached us a day or two later.

  3. James Schend says:

    Whenever I’m stuck in an airport it helps to remember that when "Around the World in 80 Days" was written, it was considered science fiction.

  4. Gabe says:

    My way of finding a good local restaurant depends on where I am. If I’m in my car, I use the GPS’s built-in Zagat guide. If I’m some place with Internet access, I go to http://www.flavortownusa.com to find a place nearby that has been featured on "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" on the Food Network. Another good strategy is to find some place with a chef — bad restaurants don’t have chefs.

    I also like to go places I’ve heard of but have never been to. For example, I’ve heard of Wolfgang Puck but had never been to one of his restaurants. When I was in Seattle and found out he had a cafe there, I had to try it.

  5. Ryan Phelps says:

    I have a Korean friend who played football in high school.  He would have to remind the opposing team that he was technically a gook and not a chink.  If you were going to insult him, at least have the brains to do it correctly.  Kind of like Steve Martin’s rant in Roxanne.

  6. Another Voice says:

    the part of the story containing the racial slur made me very angry.. But there are idiots everywhere.. Do they deserve to be mentioned in a blog? I don’t know… Haha… I am just wondering what these guys would say If they knew your income…

    [If they knew my income, they’d tell me to go back where I came from and stop stealing jobs from “real” Americans. -Raymond]
  7. Dennis says:

    My wife and I were passing through Salt Lake City last July and overheard someone say, "No chink food either" as they passed a Chinese restaurant.  We both looked at each other in shock and said, "People still say that?!"  Amazing.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Wow, I originally read that as "chunky".  I thought maybe he was making a comment about your weight.  (I’ve never met you, so I don’t know how much you weigh.  I guess I assumed that it’d be more common to be called one name than the other in public.)

  9. Michael G says:

    1) Papa Del’s is the Champaign-Urbana benchmark for Chicago-style pizza, but the pizza in Chicago proper is better yet.

    2) If I have checked luggage, I never run for a plane.  It’s not worth it to arrive and find your luggage didn’t make it.  (Of course for a short weekend trip, you probably just had carry on…)

    3) Shamefully, it is completely possible that those jackasses were from the area.

  10. Bob says:

    I was sad because I had no shoes, then I met a man with no feet, and stole his shoes. What? He wasn’t going to use them.


  11. Puckdropper says:

    I did catch your talk at U of I, and wanted to say "Good job."  I enjoyed it quite a bit.  It was worth the trip.

    Thanks for signing the book.

  12. Paul says:

    Thanks for coming out, Raymond!  It was great to meet you at the job fair, and I really enjoyed your talk.

  13. Kim says:

    Hey! Thanks for coming out to see all of us in Illinois. I apologize that we are not all awesome. I really enjoyed getting a chance to talk with you, and hope we will get the opportunity to do it again someday when I am spending slightly more time in Seattle!

  14. configurator says:

    I love running to catch flights!

    It happened to me once because I confused the boarding time and departure time. I was sitting in the lounge, watching TV on my laptop and drinking a Diet Coke, when suddenly I hear them calling for all passengers of the flight… I looked at my boarding pass again, then at the watch – I had one minute to cross the airport. I was late, but the plane hasn’t left and they haven’t taken out my luggage, so they hurried me on board… There was someone else who was one minute behind me. When he got on board I saw them closing the doors, and the plane quickly began to taxi, then stopped, and the captain said that we missed our scheduled departure window and since the airport is extremely busy we’ll have to wait about 40 minutes for a new one.

  15. Jonathan Wilson says:

    Maybe the airlines should just stop allowing these "last minute" people to board the airplane.

    If you arent at the gate on time, your bags get taken off the airplane and you aren’t allowed to fly period.

  16. Blah says:

    Jon, Most of the time, the late people are late because of the airline running late with other flights.  Its not really their fault.

  17. David Walker says:

    I was disappointed in the Chicago pizza I had at Papa Del’s.  And I like pizza.  It just seemed too thick and undercooked.

    Chez Panisse, Alice Waters’ restaurant in Berkeley, makes a good pizza and a great calzone.  But it’s entirely different than Chicago pizza.  (And when you go to Chez Panisse for the first time, there are better things to order from there than pizza.)

  18. Gabe says:

    If you want Chicago-style pizza in Berkeley, Zachary’s is the place to go (http://www.zacharys.com/).

  19. John says:

    Amano’s is the new benchmark for Champaign-Urbana deep-dish, in my opinion.  http://the217.com/articles/view/amano_s_pizza_serves_it_up_chicago_style

  20. dave says:

    “Up until that point, my interactions with the fine people of Illinois were uniformly positive, and I had found them all to be unfailingly polite and helpful. I’m going to give the state the benefit of the doubt and say that the guy and his buddy were visiting from another state. (Like maybe New Jerkland or something.)”

    I had that preconception about NJ as well.  When I traveled there to provide some training, I found it was only the area around Newark that had a high jerk quotient.  The rest of the state was made up of wonderful hosts, students and general people.  They did talk a little funny, though.

    [I wasn’t referring to New Jersey when I wrote “New Jerkland”; I was just making up a name. (Actually, I was more worried that people would think I was referring to New Zealand.) “East Jerkland” would probably have been better. -Raymond]
  21. Dave says:

    My wife is from East Jerkland, you insensitive clod!

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