Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Work Travel

Last week, in my first work-related travel in over six years on the job, I spent two days in Tampa attending a conference.

(Note #1: this was completely unrelated to the upcoming Republican National Convention. In fact, given that the conference consisted mostly of EPA employees, EPA contractors (that's me), and state air quality agencies, perhaps the conference I attended is the polar opposite of the Republican National Convention.)

(Note #2: I also attended a conference in Chapel Hill for work a couple of years ago, but that doesn't count.)

Why did I go six years without traveling for work? Well, with my job, there's really no need. We deal with regulatory stuff rather than research, so it's not really appropriate for us to present our work at conferences. (Our EPA clients often do, but that is appropriate, since they're the decision makers.) And the EPA folks we work with are all right down the street, so there's no need for big "get togethers" and whatnot for business purposes. In fact, the main reason I went to Tampa was for a training seminar, rather than to attend the conference itself.

Amber, meanwhile, used to travel a lot for work, both domestically (Green Bay, Baltimore, maybe a couple of other places?) and internationally (Mexico, Switzerland, India, Italy). She got off of those projects once we started our family, which in a way is too bad, because only after she stopped traveling did conferences in really nice places like Vancouver and Sydney come up on the would-be itinerary. I never went to any of those places with Amber, but I might have gone to Vancouver or Sydney with her.

Pretty much everyone from the Triangle who attended the conference flew to Tampa, of course. But I like driving, and the cost of a rental car plus fuel would be about the same as the cost of a round trip plane ticket, so my company let me drive. Hooray! But if the conference were any farther away, I think I would have opted to fly; at 650 miles, Tampa is about the farthest away conference location I can justify driving to instead of flying, unless we were going to take the entire family and extend our stay or something. (Statistical note: I haven't flown in any capacity since March 2008.)

Given that it took six years to attend my first out-of-town conference, it'll probably be a while before number two comes up. But suppose I do travel again for work sometime. Where in the country would they send me? (It's practically an impossibility that they would send me out of the country.)

Well, here's where the last several of EPA's "Emission Inventory Conferences" have been held, prior to this year: San Antonio, Baltimore, Portland (Ore.), Raleigh, New Orleans, Las Vegas, San Diego, Clearwater, Atlanta, and Denver. You know, except for Baltimore - and, let's be honest, Raleigh - they usually put these conferences in some pretty nice places. Let's go! (Although thanks to the GSA, it'll probably be a while before we have another government-sponsored conference in Las Vegas.)

Actually, once every six years is fine. I'm glad I don't have a job that sends me somewhere every single month. I'd miss my family too much.

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