Saturday, March 22, 2008

It Is One of Those Days....It Has Been One of Those Weeks!

Last year, the Society of Toxicology meetings were held in Charlotte, NC and I went along with Dave to experience the South. This year, SOT came to Seattle. 7000 scientists along with families in some cases moved into downtown and experienced our city. Last Saturday, we had a good friend and toxicologist visit us from Pennsylvania along with his good friend, a toxicologist from Little Rock, Arkansas.

On Sunday, we went downtown because Kaley was the featured entertainment at the annual awards ceremony. She reluctantly played the piano because her number one passion is singing but it was still glorious.

On Monday evening, we had a good friend and toxicologist from Dundee, Scotland and another from Germany join us for dinner at our house. Kaley helped cook and we had marvelous conversation with these charming men. I have learned enough science in the last 35 years by osmosis to hold my own in discussions and to be able to ask intelligent questions.

In the midst of all of the SOT activities, I have had contractors at our house everyday because our remodel project is still not finished. In addition, with Kaley's break and birthday, we have enjoyed the presence of her boyfriend from Portland and one of her college girlfriends from San Francisco.

On Thursday night, we prepared yet another dinner for good friends and married toxicologists from Virginia. The husband in this duo has miraculously survived Stage 4 melanoma because he managed to get into a scientific study. It helps sometimes to know the right people. Our dinner with these people was especially special and reminded me the importance of appreciating wonderful friends even if they live far away.

On the previous Wednesday evening, I accompanied Dave to two receptions and one dinner in three different banquet rooms at the downtown Seattle Sheraton. I swear he knows all 7000 scientists. At the very least, they all know him.

"John, I'd like you to meet my wife."

"Hi, John. Welcome to Seattle. I do believe we met in Charlotte."

"Oh yes. We may have met but Charlotte is a blur to me." Whoa! I must have really impressed this guy because I remember our entire conversation about his house and everything and yet I am a mere blur to him?? And on and on the evening went.

"Nice to see you again." "Nice to meet you." "Are you enjoying Seattle?"

"It didn't rain as much as we thought it would in Seattle in March."

"We enjoyed your daughter playing the piano. You must be so proud." Yea, right. Everyone was talking so loudly, you could not even hear her even with the open and miked grand piano.

One conversation did stick out and made me happy. Atop the Sheraton and in the presidential suite, Dave left me to go see what he could see out of the wrap around windows. I noticed an African American woman standing near the bar. Believe me, out of 7000 scientists, women are not a huge percentage and black women are rare so I approached her and asked her where she was from. "I am from Pennsylvania and you?"

"Oh, I live here and actually, I'm just tagging along with my husband," and I pointed to him across the room.

"Oh, you are married to Dave. Everyone knows him. He's a really wonderful guy."

"Well, yes he is....for the most part. I mean sometimes he can be irritating." Yes, I really said that.

The woman laughed and nodded, "I bet you mean because he works all of the time---kind of a workaholic?"

"Exactly. You would not believe the number of times I have considered throwing his lap top into Puget Sound---especially since last fall."

The woman responded with a touching tribute to my man. "You know, I owe Dave a lot. It is because of him that I was on the K-12 education board and because of him that I was considered for council. Being picked for such things is...well...not always easy...for me, if you know what I mean." We continued our conversation about Seattle and the fact that SOT attendance at this year's meeting was a record as it was 10 years ago when it was in Seattle. People like to come to Seattle.

In the car, on the way home I reiterated my talk with the woman and Dave said, "You mean Elaine? She's great--very bright and highly qualified. Yes, I did push for her. I mean look at SOT. It is kind of a white guy deal and we need to do something about that. Geez, I didn't know she even knew who I was."

"Ah, she definitely knows you and is very grateful." Sometimes doing the right thing may seem obvious but perhaps it isn't as obvious as it should be. Wow! I felt good inside. I don't think I'll throw his lap top into Puget Sound after all.

Yea, I was feeling grouchy and overwhelmed at times this past week but Easter has a way of making you think about what is truly important.

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Olympics a few minutes ago. The mountains are out.

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Spring with daffodils. Photo this morning from the back yard.

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See the noisy eagle? Dead center of the photo.

Happy Easter.