Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Day Barack Obama almost had me arrested

In February 2009, I had the pleasure of travelling to the United States as the representative of my employer to take part in a 4 day global conference. It was only the second time I had ever been to the USA, so I was excited as you might expect. My destination was Rochester, New York.

The trip was fairly uneventful, though I did get to go and gaze in wonder at Niagara Falls. Truly magnificent is about all I can say. I highly recommend it, if you ever get the chance but watch out for those nasty Canadian border guards. They were very suspicious of me. Me? I me am do I look like a drug courier? OK, maybe, but that's beside the point. It was definitely much easier coming back into the US from Canada than the other way around.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the story.

Rochester is a strange city. Looking at it today, it feels like it is a shadow of its former self. The two main and very well-known employers in the region - Kodak and Xerox - have gone through some tough times. I remember I drove to the Global HQ of Kodak and around the Xerox Business Park to have a look. The Kodak Museum was a sad looking building indeed, which is a shame because of the history of the company and what it would have meant for the local economy "back in the day". The Xerox buildings didn't fare much better, but they were spread out over a few places - in the CBD of Rochestet itself and suburbs called Webster and Henrietta.

I often wonder who names towns and suburbs. Here in Australia, we have a few places named after Aboriginal words. The football team I follow is from Parramatta, which is derived from the combination of two Aboriginal words - burra and matta - which mean "the place where eels lie". The name of my team is the Parramatta Eels. See, it makes sense. Then there is Wagga Wagga ("Wagga" for short). The word Wagga (or Wahga) means crow, the double-word therefore means "many crows". Now, I've only been to Wagga once - to have a new radiator fitted in a mate's Valiant - but I don't recall seeing "many crows". Perhaps in years gone by.....?

(To be continued)