Tuesday, June 29, 2010

ASME annual meeting: Pittsburgh

So with all of the excitement of my awesome trip, as well as returning to a country wild with soccer fever, I'm sure I can be forgiven for not blogging of late! So lets start from the beginning...the ASME meeting in Pittsburgh.

So I left SA on the 3rd and flew through London, Washington and finally to Pittsburgh! After running around the airport looking for an info desk, lugging my bags behind me (you have to pay $4 for a trolley) I managed to get a shuttle to the 5star hotel they put us in. Coincidentally, I ended up sitting next to someone from the conference in the shuttle, who just happened to be on the board of directors of ASME! Now that was very cool and I got to get a breakdown on what ASME is all about and some of the exciting new initiatives that are being launched like the Ideaport.


The Ideaport is an online system where just about anyone can submit a bright idea to the society...As long as the idea alligns with ASME's vision and mission statement, it will be seriously considered for implementation! Right now, ASME is working on key proposals dealing with Energy, sustainability and many more!

The conference was great and I met tons of people from all over the world. From Japan to Lebanon to Mexico, all sorts were gathered at the beautiful Omni William Penn hotel. I already have my work cut out for me as it looks like I will be taking on the head of one of the subcommittees as well as looking into setting up a South African students' section at UCT! If you think all of this is really exciting, you're right! It really is.

After three nights in Pittsburgh, I was off to Chicago...Getting food poisoning from the conference food wasn't really great but luckily I'd met some awesome people who were just so helpful, including my roommate Wendy and another committee member from Pakistan, Usman. Despiite this hiccup I managed to see a bit of the city from a river cruize that I took with two other members.

Pittsburgh turned out to be quite an interesting little place, having been a thriving industrial hub of steel production (before cheap Chinese imports put them out of business). Evidence of this golden age remains in the 400+ bridges that can be found around the city. Being at the apex of three rivers, Pittsburgh has a unique geography that necessitates the hundreds of amazingly designed bridges that can be found.

I really wanted to visit the Carnegie Science Centre and Andy Warhol Museum but didn't have the time. If I ever again visit this quint, city, at the forefront of the USA's technology industry, I'll be sure to do more sight-seeing, and maybe take in a game at the local baseball stadium!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Wait is Over!

Well the day has finally arrived! I am leaving for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at 18:40 this afternoon and am so excited! All that stands between me and the next milestone in my life/ career is completing a report, sorting out some admin and +- 22 hours flying time.

Wait, say what? 22 hours flying time???? !!!!????

I must be crazy, especially since I absolutely loathe flying...I know, its silly and irrational, but I hate it! There are just so many crowds and queues and all the waiting! It's the waiting that really kills me. You have to get there a whole hour before (3 hours for international), check in then wait to board, wait in a queue to get onto the plane. Wait to get to your seat, wait to take off...Then you're up in the air, which is the really looonngg awful wait. When you land you're so excited and eager to get back onto solid ground but noooo, you must wait to disembark, then wait for you luggage!

Wow, that system is so filled with wasted time its hard to believe that we put up with it at all! I know that airport companies are trying their very best to improve queuing systems and baggage sorting systems etc, but lets just stop for a second and think about all the people that fly every day out of one airport in one large city. Think of all the doctors, engineers and business people, as well as the mothers, brothers and friends who, as part of their jobs or travels, have to spend so much of their time waiting. Now lets multiply that by all the people that fly in all the cities around the world! What a waste!
Firstly, some of these are highly skilled people whose time is valuable to the economy and the wellbeing of our country! If you had to sum up all of the hours they spend waiting, how much awesome good could these people do with this time?

Sure, its important for them to get to their destinations to be able to do all this 'good work' and add value to society as a whole, but all that waiting isn't getting them any closer to their destinations, its keeping them away!

How many lives could be saved, bridges built international relations forged? When these people go home to their loved ones, are they fresh and bright and in a great position to be an attentive husband, a caring mother, a giving sister? Or are they bushed by the fact that their 2hour flight actually stole 5 hours (including travel to the airport) from their day and was a drain on their soul?

Well, its obvious that I'm becoming a real "lean" thinker...remind me to explain what lean is all about, after all, it's probably going to be the direction my career will go in in the next few years at least...

Keep well and take care...Enjoy the Soccer! I had to give away 3 Italy-Paraguay group match tickets because of my tip, but its all worth it!