It's not often that I get to leave the lab for other work-related duties, but today I did. Last week, I received an e-mail about a free seminar about managing your chemical inventory. It sounded like it might be useful, so I got permission from my boss to register, then obtained directions from Mapquest. The seminar was being held in a special science and technology complex in Skokie, near where Eugene grew up. Unfortunately, the exact address for the complex wasn't available from Mapquest; they gave me instead a range of numbers similar to that address. I printed out the directions anyway, then showed them to Eugene. He knew of the complex and thought the directions would work. He also pointed out to me that I would have to take one of the Chicago exits off of the highway (detour due to construction). Lovely; between that and the commute during morning rush hour, I started to dread this trip.
Eugene had to leave extra-early this morning, so he did as much as possible (e.g., prepare bottles for day care, fill out the sheet) to help me before he left. Alex wound up sleeping in; I had to rouse him to change him for day care. He wasn't ready to eat before we left, so, feeling guilty, I left him an extra bottle for breakfast. Then I got on the highway.
The highway portion of the journey wasn't as bad as I feared; traffic moved along steadily, and even though it was sunny, the sun didn't cause delays either for east-bound traffic. Even getting off of the highway wasn't bad, and I didn't have to venture into the city itself. In fact, it was easy to follow the directions, and I was on time--until they led me to a community college. I knew that couldn't be the place, so I tried driving around it to see if the street continued on the other side. No such luck. I drove around a bit more and came across the vet clinic where Eugene's dad works. I pulled in, thinking to get directions from my father-in-law. But he wasn't in; the clinic was closed until Halloween.
By this time I was late. I called Eugene at work and on his cell, then explained the situation. He gave me other directions to the complex, but that didn't work out either. I knew I had to be close, though, as I could see some industrial buildings in the area. Finally I pulled into a parking lot and walked around until I found the right address. I was about 40 minutes late by the time I found the seminar. At least there was still time for tea and cookies.
As for the seminar itself? It was essentially a sales pitch for a software/scanner combination. You can print out labels with barcodes for your chemicals and then track them with the handheld scanner. It seems like a neat setup, but it's too expensive for our small lab. Ah well, maybe I'll get some ideas for something we can do on our own.