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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Room with a foggy view....

It has been nearly four months since I left Northern Ireland for home, which is not a very long time -- and so I felt relatively "at home" on my return depsite the many changes that have and are taking place at Queen's Institute of Governance. In that short period there have been reorganizations (the Institute is now part of the Faculty of Law), retirements, graduations, office moves, job redefinitions and eliminations, etc. In the streets of Belfast there have been major disturbances and a few facelifts in that short period (a couple of new buildings where there was scaffolding when I left, and scaffolding where there were anonymous structures that will only now be missed...). A restaurant expansion here, an expansion of the Starbucks footprint (they finally bought out Equires, a local Starbucks-like chain), and overall a relatively dynamic city like the one I left a few weeks back, but moreso.

Friend Ciaran is allowing me to occupy one room in his "hi-rise" flat -- and I have a great tenth-story view of this low-rise city. At the moment (Sunday AM) it is a foggy view, which is much like it started yesterday as I headed off to lecture in the DGov programme (back to British spelling). By mid afternoon yesterday the day had turned sunny and quite nice -- a great fall day in Belfast, as it would be in New England. I have high hopes for today, although I am likely to spend most of my afternoon in the office preparing for a conference I have been organizing for this week. It is time for me to get the confernece programme in shape....

Getting to Belfast was a bit of a trial. Original plans had me flying in Thursday morning following a Wednesday evening departure from Boston. A radar problem in the Boston/New Hampshire area led me to scratch that plan -- my flight to Newark to catch the Continental Belfast flight was delayed five hours, making the conneciton impossible. Shifting plans forward, my colleagues at Queen's adjusted their lecture schedules so mine could be put off to Saturday (I had one set for Thursday night), and was set to make my trek on Thursday night, arriving Friday AM. Weather problems in Newark almost led to another day-long delay, but some smart thinking by a colleagues' partner (Why not fly to London from Boston and then to Belfast? -- well, of course!) produced a solution that got us (my colleague was also coming from Boston to lecture) to Belfast by 11:30 AM on Friday. Although I was up to the level of coherency for yeasterday's presentations, it took until this morning for me to get over my jet lag -- and just in a nick of time given all that I have to do.

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