Sunday, September 20, 2015

Update: a day in the VIP lounge at GRU, and a bit of a surreal experience

Because of my stupid mistake, I spent the day in the business class lounge at GRU airport.  I guess there's worse places to spend the day, like the deportee detention room, which i wrote about in my previous post.

I talked to my host here, and we decided that since at least 1 of my talks was already prepared, I could record it right here using my webcam, he could play the recording while I'm in flight, and (if all goes well) I land at SFO just in time to do live q&a.  (Unexpected problems require creative solutions.)

So i found a quiet area of the lounge, changed into my Cal polo shirt, recorded myself giving the talk in picture-in-picture mode overlaid on the PPT slides (using the same software I use for MOOC recordings) - that took a couple of hours at least - and exported the video and uploaded to YouTube over the painfully slow Wifi.  Within one minute  of that finishing, the airport security people showed up with my passport to inform me that from now on I'd have to be escorted everywhere, until the moment they escorted me into the actual jetway (strange, since I was unsupervised all day in the VIP lounge).  But since my flight doesn't even start boarding for another hour, one of the security people offered to stay here with me so I wouldn't have to wait at the gate.

So this is surreal.  On the one hand, the security person gets to enjoy the VIP lounge for an hour.  She can't drink on the job, but she's certainly helping herself to the food bar, which isn't too bad.  When I move from the bar to the dining area, so does she.  When I pee, she waits outside the bathroom door.  It's weird because I'm technically still in the part of the airport that is outside of customs, i.e., I'm not actually in the country.

She's not actually reading what I type, but is sitting right next to me, chowing on blue cheese and a fruit salad and mineral water.  I tried to get a picture of Penguin with her, but she was cheerfully adamant that pictures of her are prohibited.  Surreal.  But I did manage to get this clandestine candid when she went for dessert.


So, I guess it is what it is, and I will continue to hydrate myself with VIP-lounge-house-brand vodka until my flight boards.  I invited her to join me in a round, but no go.  But at least it helps take this whole thing in stride.  

Next stop Newark.  Hopefully the rest of this trip will be uncomplicated…

Postscript:  I did indeed land at SFO in time—actually a bit early, since I was able to stand by on an earlier connection flight home, at the expense of a much less comfortable seat—so I arrived at my house, freshened up briefly, and conducted a lively 30-minute Q&A via Google Hangouts with an audience who had just watched my talk on YouTube.  I'd call that a successful recovery.

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