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It’s ‘AGU Week,’ so the first of a series of onsite posts from the annual fall conference written by several regular contributors to The Yale Forum.

NEWPORT NEWS/WILLIAMSBURG, VA., DEC. 8, 2013 — For this foggy-eyed traveler and soon-to-be AGU fall conference participant, the first sighting of the poster tube menagerie came at a small eastern Virginia airport in boarding a U.S. Airways flight bound for Charlotte, N.C.

Across the country, and in particular across the world at that early time, there surely were hundreds of others already California bound, it being, after all, “AGU Week” — the annual ritual of the Fall Conference of the American Geophysical Union, with its roughly 21,000 visitors from across the planet.

Ends up there actually were at least two such poster boards on that small 36-passenger regional jet, so strange that one ended up in the next seat on board the plane. Brief remarks and smiles over the poster-tube phenomenon and its marking the start of another AGU fall meeting.

But, it occurred later, no ceremony, no rituals marking that days being the last on which the venerable airline company would fly as an independent, December 9 marking its official merger with American Airlines, making for the largest single airline company.

Things changed rabbit-like, of course, at Charlotte International, with poster tubes cropping up everywhere for the San Francisco-bound flight. Seems like every tenth passenger or so toted one.

Once past the pervasive cloud coverage shrouding the eastern and midwestern states, the ground from 35,000 feet was sparkling white, the western mountains powdery virtually all the way to Modesto. The Bay area struggled all day to get beyond the mid-40s, and never did.

Bay Area Rapid Transit, BART, from the airport, SFO, to Union Square area. On board that subway were a half-dozen young Chinese poster-tube bearers, freshly arrived and AGU-bound. But that particular train went nowhere, sat still for a good 10 minutes as travelers trickled in … only to wait.

An announcement. Train now out of order. All passengers to debark and move to the middle track for the San Francisco-bound train. Which we did, only to soon be told to re-board again the original train. Which we also did.

An awkward, but not catastrophic, introduction of these young Chinese scientists to our transit efficiency. But so be it.

It’s still, after all, AGU week. Much to come. Much to look forward to as leading earth scientists from around the world gather once more to learn, to share, and to communicate with and beyond their own disciplines and borders. Stay tuned.

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