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flight NZ5, somewhere between Los Angeles and Auckland

Fri Jan 16 12:55:15 PST 2009

According to the in-seat monitor, I'm approaching the equator. I'm south and a little bit east of Hawaii. There is a curiously large amount of occational turbulance. In fact, this has been one of the most turbulant flights I've taken. I had always assumed that the air 10km over the oceans was "calmer" than it is over land. And it may, in fact, be so. But not here, not tonight.

There was a meal served several hours ago, but there were no veggie option. The steward said that it had to be coded into my ticket so that it could be specially provisioned. And since it wasn't, it wasn't. (Yet another reason I'm becoming unimpressed with the quality of Sun's travel agent, American Express.) Since I'm not super strict about it, I ate the chicken and noodles, and enjoyed the Kiwi wine.

While prepping for this trip, I had wrongly assumed that New Zealand was north of Australia. (Yes yes, cue standard jeers about USians lack of geography knowledge. Bite me.), for why else would the travel agent have routed me this way, instead of just a straight shot to Sydney. Maybe it's due to some interaction of flight schedules and travel schedules.

I had originally planned to travel in lockstep with [livejournal.com profile] krow. He's fun company and a seasoned traveller, so when I get tired or confused, or have something else I'd rather be thinking about, all I have to do is follow him, and I won't get lost. But he has tired of the conference speaking concept in general, so clipped of a day from the start of his trip, and a couple of days off the end.

Which is ok, it's not like I'm going to a developing or BRIC country solo on a work gig. I'm travelling to a developed English speaking country, on a simple visa, to a relatively controlled artificial situation (a conference). Really, the only difference between this and my past work travel is the butt-achingly long flight, having to talk to border control people, and I don't have a client waiting for me.

What I've spent a lot of my travel time doing is reading books. Over half the weight of my shoulder bag is books, and there are several more stashed in my roller carry-on.

When I was a kid, I routinely read through over 1500+ pages a week, averaging over a book a day. I no longer read that many "books" that fast. I may do still read that much, but it's now mostly source code, tech docs, blog posts, and email.

So far, I've read three. Greg Egan's most recent novel, "Incandecence". Gladwell's most recent romp, "Outliers". And "The Starfish and the Spider", which is in same genre. All three deserve their own stand-alone review posts.

To be read are "The Black Swan", "Your Brain: The Missing Manual", and "Eat That Frog!". But not right now.

Fri Jan 16 01:32:01 PST 2009

And according the the monitor map, I've crossed the equator. This is the first time I ever have, and the farthest from "home" I've ever been.

My dad made his first trip to Australia in 1960, when he was 19. I doubt that he travelled on something as large as this 747-400. But was it as fast as this? I doubt it had the range, which meant refueling stops. I should ask him sometime.

Now, to try to sleep for a while...

Fri Jan 16 06:40:50 PST 2009

Not the best sleep I've had. We crossed the dateline while I was out, so it is now Saturday, local time. Auckland is 47 minutes away
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A Deluxe King bed at a Hilton. I often sleep in these. It seems a waste, at times...
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I'm finally flying home. This flight was supposed to leave at noon, but we sat on the ground for a while waiting for a flight attendant. I slept thru the takeoff. From my POV, every now and than I would glance out the window and see outside of the gate. And then suddenly the view was replaced with a blue hazy horizon, and green farms and brown hills, six miles down. I was actually booked to leave at 6pm, but I got to the airport early, since the car had to be returned at noon. Thus I grabbed an open seat on this earlier flight.

I've been gone for a week and a half. Someone else has been taking care of my elderly cats, my mail and bills have been piling up, my travel expenses are stacking up in my credit card, and there are many wonderful people in Seattle I miss spending time with.

I stayed in SF for a couple of days longer than I really had to, because I was hoping to spend some time with a friend there, but they never answered their email or messages. I'm sure there is a good reason, but it's still disappointing. Still, spending a couple of days with [livejournal.com profile] jatg has been fun. Her friend Bryce from Toronto was in town, for a "Sheridon College Grads in California" reunion. Getting to see Pixar was great.

Last night, I hung out at Meerkat Manor, and gave Julian Cash some advice and pointers for his project. They hope to go live in two weeks, running mainly on AWS EC2 systems.

The past two and a half days in the weird city in the bay hasn't been a vacation. I slogged in a good two days of work, plus several hours this morning, on this week's work project. It's meta-test work, basically doing a QA analysis of someone else's QA work, which has to be the one thing worse than doing actual QA. Still, it's important, both to the company, and to one of our partners. When I get done with it, and it gets signed off, there will be a public announcement in the appropriate tech press outlets.

Hopefully, my next piece of travel will be the one in a fortnight, when I fly to Hawaii to spend a week there.
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I look down, through the window, and see Louisiana crawl by under me. The engine is rumbling, low and insistent, right outside my window. If I could stretch out my right arm, my hand would be inside an impossible-to-imagine hell of screaming steel teeth, tearing apart a white hot fireball, torturing the air, it's dying scream carrying me across the top of the sky.

My Seat...

Jan. 19th, 2008 10:44 am
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Great view of the right engine.
My Seat...

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Rochester Minnesota Airport does wifi right. It's free, fast, and doesn't have a captive portal page.

(Update: it's not as good as I thought. They block all XMPP IM sessions. This makes me start thinking "deep packet inspection" and/or "transparent proxy". I'm going to write them a nasty letter.)


Dec. 9th, 2007 02:44 pm
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I got up at way too early, packed my bag, vacated my hotel room, printed my boarding pass (as always, finding a printer was a PITA), and took at taxi from the hotel to the DFW airport. The flight from DFW to SEA was almost empty, but still uncomfortable. AA's seat pitch is about 1/2 inch shorter then the length of my upper legs. Then a taxi ride from SEA to home. (This is what expense accounts are for.)

My cats had not left too much of a mess for me to deal with.

I met up my friend [livejournal.com profile] adrienne_r, and went to the Cirque Du Noc Dealer Bazaar. It was much fun, the selection and quality of stuff was better than years past. She and I did much in the way of teasing and quirked eyebrows and playing with some of the stuff, much fun was had. She almost bought an amazingly affordable leather corset, but the fit and style was not quite right, and that's one of those things that really must be perfect.

Back to the house, I did some more paperwork and some hacking, and then went to the MySQL holiday party, along with [livejournal.com profile] krow, [livejournal.com profile] ein_traum, and David Axmark, who was in town.

The party was at a restaurant / cooking school on the east coast of Lake Union. What this meant was that we all as a group had to cook our own restaurant meal, under the supervision of a trio of chefs. Despite my initial hesitation, I had a lot of fun, volunteering a bit more often than most of the others, and so got to do some fun stuff.

The meal itself was pretty good.

I had planned to go to the last half of the Cirque Du Noc Ball, which ran until 2am, , and had volunteered to help with cleanup after, but by 10p I was getting really really wiped out. So I sent out my apologies, and then crashed into a fitful sleep.
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After I got off the plane in Toronto, I had to waste my time dealing with a pair of Canadian Immigration officers while they tried to decide what to do with me, and whether I needed to purchase a work permit or not. They finally decided not.

The distributed locationless internet-enabled model is colliding hard with the old regime of labor immigration and work visas.
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For this international flight, I didn't give myself enough time, stepping thru the doors at SEA only 50 minutes before departure. Fortunately, the line at the counter was short, and the line at the TSA useless security theater was likewise very short.

If one has a T-Mobile cellphone account, that gets access to T-Mobile hotspots. Why can't AT&T be as accommodating? Or at the very least, have a straightforward way to charge access against one's cellphone. One could run ident/auth via a SMS, or looking at the SIM number, or something similar.

The EDGE/EVDO device that MySQL ordered for me doesnt fit this laptop (PCCard vs PCExpress), and won't even fit my new laptop, (MacBooks dont have card slots at all). So either IT will have to swap it for a USB device, take it back entirely, or let me handoff it to someone in the company with a MacBook Pro.

In theory, the Treo's USB cable will give the laptop internet access. In practice, there seems to be a bug in the current FC7 and FC8 in handling the Treo, no connection, no sync. Annoying on so many levels, and spending a few hours trying to make it work is really what decided me to get off desktop linux for my work computing environment for the time being.

I don't actually have that new company laptop yet, so I'm going to be doing this business trip out of amsu. Which has an old battery, and needs a memory upgrade. I need to decide whether to spend money upgrading it. There is a lot of value in integrating to one environment, and also a lot of value in keeping a completely "my" computer.

My preferred airlines are Alaska and SouthWest. Yet the agency, for this and the next two trips, has well, has booked me on AA. I last flew AA about 10 years ago, and I hated it. The seat pitch was such that I literally could not put my knees in front of me and my feet on the floor, and the cushion was old hard and flat.

They seem to have gotten better since then, but not very much so. There isn't room for my backpack under the seat in front of me, and I'm painfully wedged in trying to keep an angle where I can type and see my screen. And the overhead light is burned out, so no bookreading.
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It's too damn hot here in Seattle. It's too damn hot in my room. I have the fans going, blowing over ice water and towels. My cats are too hot. It's too hot. I leave for Boston tonight. Food has been obtained for the cats, my `scrips are all filled, bills are paid. I still don't have a ride lined up from Boston to Chesterfield, but I'm sure something will come up. I'm partially packed. I think I can actually get everything I need into my backpack, and not have a seperate carryon. I've got the audiobook of His Dark Materials on the MP3 player to listen to on the flight.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something.
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I'm at the Diesel Cafe in Boston. It looks like they've about doubled in size since the last time I was here. Their wifi network recognizes my username from the last time I was here, but not my password. The sandwich is good, but the chai is not up to standards I got used to in Seattle. (To be fair, I'm sure there are east coast foods that are made poorly in Seattle.)

[livejournal.com profile] zzbottom picked me up at BOS Logan Airport this morning, fed me breakfast at his place, and then I hung out for several hours at his auction shop, before taking the commuter rail into the city core, and then the T to Davis Square. Thanks Paulo! It looks like the North Station refurb is finally finished. They were just starting it when I moved out of Boston in `99, and it still wasn't done the last time I went thru it, last year I think.

I forgot to take my high quality letter opener off my keyring last night, and the TSA found it in my backpack and confiscated it. F'wads. The TSA goon seemed actually hurt and defensive when I said "I guess it's your knife, now." I will always consider their agency a sick joke and their staff to be, at best, wastes of perfectly good air.

I flew my "usual" from SEA to BOS, Alaska Airlines redeye. My own experience for that airline is they consistently suck the least for longer haul flights. Every time I've flown a cheap ticket on a "big name" carrier in the last decade plus, I've regretted it. So whenever I can, I fly either Alaska, or Southwest.
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I'm going to be in Boston from Wed May 30 to Wed Jun 6.

[livejournal.com profile] judyg's graduation party is on the 2nd.

She doesn't know I'm coming.

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When I book travel on an airline or travel website, there should be a feature to download the itinerary as an iCal.

Other related secondary "shoulds" are to download/SMS/SyncML the itenerary to a cellphone / blackberry / smartphone / PDA, and to insert it into Google Calendar.

When my confirmation is emailed to me, it should have an attachment with the iCal object.

Update: I suggested this to AlaskaAirlines website at the same time I wrote this LJ post. I just got the following email back from them:

Dear Mr. Atwood,
Thank you for your suggestion. We have forwarded your email to the web development team. I have heard that they are looking into this feature.

Customer Care for alaskaair.com

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Do I know anyone in Las Vegas that I could couch crash at this next weekend?
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Friday night I got back home, arriving on schedule and without event from SJC to SEA.

Saturday was originally going to be spent going geocaching and then soaking with a friend. But that got changed because it looked like Linuxfest Northwest was something that I should be at. But then that got rescheduled. But I was still so flattened from being "on" for the previous five days, I spent the time decompressing. Late in the afternoon, I swapped a few IMs with [livejournal.com profile] papertygre, and then we went to [livejournal.com profile] ocicat's bd party, and then later gaming with some of her friends from CMU who had just moved to Seattle.

This morning, [livejournal.com profile] papertygre and [livejournal.com profile] alacrity gave me a ride to the airport. He was heading to Las Vegas for a tech conference, departing a couple of hours before I was.

My flight from SEA to SLC was the best kind. Uneventful. I slept most of it, and winked and grinned at the toddler seated next to me the rest of it.

Why am I in Utah?

My brother [livejournal.com profile] pheonix_jade is getting married on May 1st.

Tomorrow my dad is going to take me up to Weber County Airfield, were we will do a bit of maintenance on his Mooney, and then go for a flight.
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depart Wed Nov 15, SWA 1352, SEA to SLC, 11:40AM to 2:40PM
return Sun Nov 19, SWA 555, SLC to SEA, 3:55PM to 5:00PM


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Mark Atwood

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