In case you’ve been wondering what has happened to the past three weeks’ entries here, I’ve just returned to Finland from 2 weeks and change in the US: Attending a conference on the teaching of philosophy in American schools, exploring the haunts of my childhood with my new “significant other”, making contact with each of my parents (and their spouses) with to personally congratulate them on turning 70 this year, and exploring what has changed and what has remained the same in the land of my citizenship and early socialization. I’ll write an entry here on each of those aspects of the trip in the coming days, but for now I just wanted to let everyone here who might care about such things know that I’ve made it back to Finland for now in one piece and I’ve found things here on the east side of the pond at least roughly as I expected.
In the past 5 days I have taken off and landed in commercial airliners a total of seven times. Since waking up at 6:00 a.m. EDT in Gun Lake, Michigan yesterday morning I believe I have slept approximately three to four hours. The time from checking in my suitcase in Grand Rapids to checking it back out in Helsinki was approximately 26 hours. The time from walking out the door of the house I was visiting until walking in the door of my own apartment was approximately 31 hours, including fetching the car and the dog and attending to the needs of each.
There was a slight delay in takeoff yesterday morning on account of an electrical storm blowing through which kept the plane from refueling on schedule. It was a fairly impressive little storm to watch at that. Coincidentally, when we came into Helsinki-Vantaa there were some impressive sized thunderheads drifting around, and when I finally got out of the terminal there was the edge of a very localized shower passing over the bus stop area, and the distinct smell of ozone in the air. Then as I drove out into the Finnish countryside to pick up the dog I passed through an area where rain was coming down in sheets, followed by the most spectacular rainbow I’ve seen this year.
Needless to say, all of this dramatic weather made for some rather bouncy flying conditions in places –– even more ups and downs. At no point was I seriously close to tossing my cookies from motion sickness, but there were plenty of times in which reading was out of the question. A couple times the normal coffee service in flight was either postponed or cancelled for safety reasons as well. But none of the connections were missed due to these weather challenges.
I had to leave my dear Fadia in a part of New York that was less than ideal, but I’m not worried about her in the slightest. Growing up on the “wrong side” of Apartheid as she did, and having run a successful business since, she knows how to handle herself in challenging urban settings. Nor is the ethnic mix in Queens Village anything for her to be afraid of. Even so, some of the signs of the cheapness in the neighborhood were rather disturbing. But that being said, there was a certain Dutch satisfaction at least, after paying over $10 each to get to her hotel by mass transit, in figuring out how to get back to the airport for only $2.25 each.
We also had a chance to get a nice fried seafood combo plate from a local fish market, and then to take turns freshening up a bit in her room before I continued my journey. That turned out to be fairly significant: twice while being frisked by security agents after that I had occasion to say, “Good thing I had a chance to put of fresh underwear.”
And of course none of this has jack to do with philosophy, per se. If you think of some ways it might be relevant to the subject areas, do please tell me. But like I said, if you’ve been wondering what’s been keeping me from writing lately… now you sort of know.
More coming soon.