Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Journey

Johnny Cash sang a song titled "I've Been Everywhere" that became widely known as the background jingle for a hotel chain. I kind of feel like I sometimes channel the man in black as I get on yet another plane bound for yet another city. This time I am traveling to Houston, Texas (also known as The Bayou City, Baghdad on the Bayou, H-Town, Magnolia City, Capital of the Sunbelt, Clutch City, The Big Heart, Screwston, Hustletown, City of Syrup, and Space City). Some folks love to travel, I guess it is that Charles Lindbergh or Amelia Earhart spirit of adventure gene that some come pre-packaged with. I missed out on this personality trait and tend to look forward to travel with all of the unbridled glee as one might have planning a visit to a thick-fingered proctologist.

Today I am making the full round-trip journey to Houston. Back and forth. To and fro. I will cover nearly 3000 miles. Up early and back late. Non-stop action, no time to take a breath. Ugh! But I am traveling for an important meeting. My graduate student is defending his Ph.D. thesis and it is a pretty big deal for both of us. Three years ago his research advisor died after a long battle with health issues, and I ended up taking over. For three years we have worked side by side to bring this project through to fruition. Along the way we have gotten to be friends. In addition to spending countless hours discussing and reviewing and critiquing the analysis details and results in all of their gory detail, we have also talked a lot about chess and baseball and life. I guess this too is all part of the process of mentoring and advising. Likely just as important as the research training itself.

So today I will see a bit more of the city of Houston than just the inside of its airport. Actually, I will really only get a chance to see the inside of a University conference room for two or three hours before I start the return trip. It will be a long day. That's fine. This trip is more about the journey that I took to get to this point.