Greetings from St. Petersburg — the Floridian, not the Russian. Bouchercon gets rolling in earnest tomorrow, so I’m getting ready to make an early night of it.
About an hour before I headed out this morning, the Spawn called and told me my office door was standing open. As this was not how I had left it yesterday, I headed over and discovered that our maintenance guys had been by. Over the years, the classroom building where I work has settled a bit, and it had reached the point where I had to slam the door repeatedly to get the lock to engage. That has now been corrected, and the precious valuable contents of Horse Badorties’s #2 Pad are now safe from random depredations. I then walked by the classroom where the Spawn was, and saw that they were discussing 19th-C. British social ranks (They’re reading Jane Eyre.) This reminded me that I had a book about such matters and other period whathaveyou, and I handed it to the Spawn when I met her in the hallway after class to tell her goodbye. Thanks for looking out for me, kid.
I drove to the Real City airport, arriving the prescribed two hours before my scheduled departure, and as I was loading most of my personal possessions into the X-ray trays, I heard someone call my name. I looked around, and discovered it was one of my friends from the local music scene, and that he works as one of the TSA screeners. We’ve played on some of the same bills, and it was nice to see him. Let the record show, however, that I did receive a pat-down as we talked. The man’s a professional. As I’ve said before, I’m always nervous when I go through these things — not in a cop-behind-you-when-you’re-driving way, but just because I’m always aware that I’m slow and awkward, and am likely holding up the line. But as these things go, this one was more pleasant than most. The power of music. Or something.
From Real City, I flew to Charlotte, where I caught a connecting flight to Tampa. I arrived in Charlotte about 10 minutes prior to boarding, but the airline gods chose to smile on me — the departure gate was only about 100 yards from the one through which I arrived. The flight to Tampa was full, so I wound up apologizing in advance to the gentleman in the seat next to mine for my contribution to the cattle-car conditions we would endure for the next hour and twenty.
He was a good sport about it, though. Of course, some of that may have been because he was going to Tampa for a three-week visit with his dad in celebration of having just completed a degree in engineering from the U of Ottawa. After this, he heads back up North for a job at Labatt’s. I didn’t ask if he gets free samples.
Upon arriving in Tampa, I booked a round-trip with a local shuttle company, so my trip back on Sunday is already arranged. By the time the van arrived a few minutes later, I looked as though someone had dumped a bucket of water on my head. The temperature was about 95 degrees, and the humidity made it feel like 95 Celsius. The van was crowded and the AC was intermittent — in fact, the heater would switch on whenever we traveled uphill. But I survived the trip and got situated before I called Mrs. M to let her know I had completed the trip.
As I was talking to her, I realized that I hadn’t eaten anything since this morning, so I found a decently rated Chinese restaurant nearby and walked there. Once again, cue a sweat dousing. I placed my order, only to realize that as with the van, air conditioning was not among the place’s strengths. Fortunately, there was a supermarket in the same strip center, so I bought some sodas before starting my walk back to the hotel.
And that’s when I discovered something. To get to the restaurant, I had followed the instructions from the map app on my smart phone. When I exited, I saw that rather than walking about three blocks, I could simply cross the street, step over a chain, and cut across my hotel’s parking lot. Clearly, my map app respects the distinction between private property and public thoroughfares. However, that’s not always admirable, especially when one is walking through an open-air sauna.
But I made it back, got some ice, and have set my room AC to 66 degrees. I do hope the shuttle to the convention hotel stays cool, though.
Things get rolling early tomorrow, so I think I’ll wrap things up for now. But stay tuned — there’s sure to be good stuff coming, if my brains don’t boil.