October 15th, 2009


greetings from sunny california!

Yesterday I got up at oh-dark-thirty to catch a plane and get here for the SWE conference. I flew United and we had a nice flight into Denver, I hung out for an hour and then got on a plane bound for LAX. Rumor has it that if you fly United you get to listen to the flight crew radios on one of the onboard channels, but this never worked out and I was kinda bummed. I even asked an attendant about it on the second flight, he was like "Oh I think it's channel 9" but... nothing. I slept a lot of the flight anyway. In Denver I watched us take off from a VERY foggy runway, and as the wings cut into the fog it swept over them like a perfect airfoil demonstration you see with smoke in a wind tunnel. It was really cool.

I posted a question yesterday about how to get from LAX to Long Beach. I also read a post from my SWE section's blog about other members' adventures there... some ladies from my section had a shuttle to get down, and it took them 90 minutes. Not because traffic was bad, but because the shuttle driver picked them up and then proceeded to circle the airport for an hour to get enough people to justify a trip out, then they went all over the city. Have I mentioned that super shuttle sucks? So I definitely wasn't doing that.

I decided to try the metro. I asked a lady at an airport information desk for help, she said to walk down to this blue sign and wait for a bus that said G. She was very nice. I took the G bus to the greenline metro station, bought a day pass for $5, and waited for the train. I transferred from the greenline to the blueline at some point, then took that too a stop about three blocks from my hotel. The whole experience was simple, cheap, and gratifying.

Wearing my fall jacket, brown hat and scarf, I didn't feel like I fit in. The people weren't in "fall" mode, everyone was wearing bright colors and flip-flops. It was dreary and rainy, but the guy across from me just threw on a bright blue coleman poncho on over his Hawaiian shorts and tank top. It's like everyone sees clouds and cool temperatures as a temporary thing to be ignored.

People on the metro were good about obeying the rules: have a pass, no loud music, no food or drink. But they all had drugs. I'm a stupid Kansas girl, I should not be able to identify these things going around me, but I totally could. There was a guy crumbling up some herb in an envelope that I guess could have been tobacco, but I'm used to tobacco looking more brown and less green. There was a guy showing his friend a tiny zip-top baggy of who-knows what. We're in broad daylight at noon and nobody felt nervous about any of this. I didn't feel like I was around criminals or anything. There were families with little kids, students, people talking. It's just that everybody had drugs.

I got to long beach way too early. Honestly I'd thought of taking the blueline north to hollywood, but I forgot my camera and wasn't sure what all it'd be to experience all alone. So I didn't. I ate some pizza for lunch, checked into our hotel, got registered for the conference then walked around. There are lots of stores around and I bought a dress on sale at the Nordstrom Rack, which is like an outlet.

At 5 I met the other women in my group for dinner. We went to the Yardhouse and I had macadamia-nut crusted mahi mahi with pesto sauce that was DELICIOUS. We ate outside and watched the sunset over the shipyards, behind palm trees, it was beautiful. Then we went to the SWE conference ice cream social and had some good ice cream and chatted with everyone. I got back to the hotel, recapped with my roommate about some of the meetings she'd gone to during the day. I didn't so much fall asleep as I did BECOME SLEEP, I barely remember getting into bed. I just know I slept great until six this morning. So now here I am ready for the next day.