Thursday, March 1, 2007

We are heading to Washington, DC for the weekend. I am going mostly so I can drive around DuPont circle over and over again.

If possible I will try to get a photograph of the dogs expressing their opinion about the state of the nation. The Secret Service will not arrest dogs for expressing dissent, will they?

e.p.c. posted this at 19:34 GMT on 1-Mar-2007 from Brooklyn,NY.

Friday, March 2, 2007

desk dogs


desk dogs, originally uploaded by epc.

flickr posted this at 16:06 GMT on 2-Mar-2007 .

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Frisket and Sailor Scout for Squirrels

Frisket and Sailor dragged me over to Lafayette Park where they scouted for squirrels, participants in the VSCC (Vast Sciurus Carolinensis Conspiracy). Neither took note of the white house in the park across the street. Also see Frisket's blog

flickr posted this at 01:50 GMT on 4-Mar-2007 from Washington, DC.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Slightly sick

I've been off-kilter since some time last week, I think it's a mix of the weather, something I ate in Washington, DC, and the trip to DC and back over the weekend. Nothing serious, just not feeling great and an overriding urge to curl up and sleep for several days. Late-season hibernation I guess.

Sailor is back home after her spaying surgery. Frisket clearly missed Sailor (though once Sailor returned, Frisket made sure to reëstablish who was in charge of the pack). Sailor will spend the next week being babied and pampered and kept away from other dogs while she heals.

e.p.c. posted this at 04:35 GMT on 7-Mar-2007 from Brooklyn, NY.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Monday in the Park with Dog


Monday in the Park with Dog, originally uploaded by epc.

flickr posted this at 17:03 GMT on 12-Mar-2007 .

Friday, March 23, 2007

Packing up and heading west

There's two ways to parse that subject line:

  1. I am packing up, walking the dogs over to Monstermutt, and hopping on a flight to Las Vegas via O'Hare later today to hang around with information architects and help support the local economy. On Monday the 26th I fly to San Diego to hang around with the leading lights of the technology industry and regret supporting the Las Vegas economy. I return next Friday.
  2. On my return, Lisa and I begin the task of doing major, major spring cleaning. Theoretically this is for Seder. However this year's cleaning coincides with a decision we've mostly made to deacquisition certain things, like our house in Brooklyn Heights. There are various reasons for this, none of which I will go into on my public web site. It is a beautiful house and a wonderful neighborhood, we just have come to a moment of clarity about what we want to be doing and how we want to be living that no longer meshes with living in a five storey walk-up brownstone. We will still be in New York City, just a bit west and north of where we are today, assuming a million things align perfectly over the next couple of months (we are on step two).

In other news, Frisket and Sailor get along mostly. There are occasional disputes about who gets to sleep where on the bed (between the dogs, Lisa and I know we've lost this battle).

e.p.c. posted this at 12:00 GMT on 23-Mar-2007 from Brooklyn, NY.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

What happens in Vegas is…

I have been to Las Vegas four times now: twice in 2001, once in 2004, and this current trip. For three of the four trips my luggage has not made it to Vegas. This being the third attempt to coordinate the arrival of luggage with passenger, failing.

The day started out with good intentions, I went to bed at 4:00 a.m., woke up around 8:30, fed and walked the dogs over to Monstermutt where they'll stay for the weekend. I ambled back home, picked up some $ to "invest" in Vegas (what gets invested here, stays here). When I got home I looked at my travel info, secure in the knowledge that I had outwitted Microsoft Outlook's attempt to get me to miss by flight by automatically adjusting my flight information an hour the wrong way. I had a 3:50 flight, with a car service booked to pick me up at 2:00.

I shuffled around, cleaned up, did some packing, probably spent far too much time screwing around with my computer backups, and lo and behold it was 2:00. The car was outside, my bags were somewhat unpacked.

By 2:25 I made it out the door to the car and away we went up the BQE. I started getting a little antsy around 2:50, we had only made it to the LIE. The driver got off the expressway and took some back roads.

It was while we were on these "back roads" (If there are such things in Queens) that I noticed a subtle error on my part: my phone showed my flight departing at 4:10 p.m. EDT. The astute observers here will note that 4:10 p.m. EDT is also 3:10 p.m. EST, which is what the real departure time was.

I arrived at LGA promptly at 3:10, walked up to the check–in and declared I am 99.998725% certain I have missed my flight.. The agent looked into the 1960s era computer and declared: No you haven't, it's going to Chicago so it has been delayed.. I forgot that by natural law, all flights to Chicago are delayed.

I managed to get through security, listening in as a TSA agent explained repeatedly why the gentleman could not have a switchblade on his flight. Boarded, and flew to Chicago.

On arriving in Chicago I thought I'd have time to call my grandmother. Or check into the Admiral's Club. Or maybe peruse Hudson News.

Instead I sprinted from the outermost gate of the K gates back to the main terminal and then out to the outermost gate (H14?) in the H gates at American's terminal. From the moment I walked out the K gate I had, allegedly, 20 minutes before the next flight was to depart (not board, depart!).

So I hustled and made it to the gate and on the plane.

It would appear my bag, which has wheels on it to make such hustling easier, did not fare so well. It is somewhere between ORD and LAS or so they tell me.

The first two times to Vegas, in 2001, United managed to lose my bags both times. It was during this episode that I learned just how much United appreciated Executive 1K Premier Platinum Gold Commodore Admiral level frequent flyers: really, not at all.

The last time we were here we flew JetBlue. As I think about it, it's unlikely that we checked any bags as we were here for a 2½ day weekend. So JB got off on a technicality.

Basically, I'm 0 for 3 in attempts to have checked baggage actually arrive with me in Las Vegas.

So, depending on whether or not the bag shows up, I may be at Alex's talk tomorrow at the I/A Summit, or I may be hustling the pits trying to win enough money to buy some clothes for the continuing travels. And replacement power supplies for all the devices.

e.p.c. posted this at 06:26 GMT on 24-Mar-2007 from Las Vegas, NV.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Made it to San Diego …including luggage

I am in San Diego, CA now for the 2007 etech conference. Though I had another tight connection, this time at LAX, I managed to make the flight as did my bag.

Over the weekend we had a fabulous dinner at Social House in Las Vegas, NV. We had a testing menu of japanese/asian items. I'm not very good at keeping track of what was good or bad, it all seemed delicious (plus: Sirens of Treasure Island pirate show for free. It's always free.). I do suggest that you pass on the tasting menu if you are at all price sensitive, I don't think any of us thought to ask and the end result was a tad higher than we all expected (it included various Sake and mixed drinks so it's unclear how much was tasting menu and how much was alcohol).

We had an eh meal at Chinois in the Caesar's Palace complex. The food was fine if a bit bland. The service was impeccable through the first half of the meal, then our water glasses went unfilled and it took forever to get a refill on a soda. And no, they weren't that busy, maybe a third–to–half of the seats were taken.

Last night we ate at Picasso in the Bellagio. Picasso is named for the artist whose paintings grace the walls. If you get a window seat you get a close–up of the Bellagio fountains. We were seated at the back of the restaurant (New York riff–raff that we were). The food was excellent, the service quite good (one minor issue: the menu and tablecloth had some schmutz on them. Nothing grievous, just an observation). The bill was comparable to Social House, so Alex and everyone else were quite right to give their credit cards a rest.

I think I broke even for the weekend, not winning much, not losing much either. My options were pretty limited as the table minimums at many of the casinos were $25 and up, too pricey for me.

e.p.c. posted this at 23:28 GMT on 26-Mar-2007 from San Diego, CA.

Friday, March 30, 2007

American Airlines, a multi-pAart rAant

I am stewing at the LAX Admiral's club at the moment.

I would prefer to be on AA180, LAX-JFK. However that would have required a series of events to unfold which did not unfold.

This story starts on Friday the 23rd of March 2007 when I, a naïve young traveler, set off to fly to LAS from LGA via ORD.

Due to my own incompetence in telling time (a skill which I am told I have never been good at), I mistook the 4:50 time on my itinerary as the boarding time, not the arrival time in ORD, which is indeed what it was. I appropriately then booked a car at 2:00 (which I managed to actually get into at 2:20), arriving at 3:05 p.m. EDT at LGA. On arriving I learned that my flight was actually at 4:10 p.m. EST, which is 3:10 p.m. EDT.

I.e. five minutes later

So I approached check-in with trepidation and figured that I would just end up on the next flight. Unbeknownst to me, ORD was suffering its traditional mid-afternoon Friday delays, and my flight had just started boarding.

<yay>

I flew to Chicago. On arriving in Chicago I figured I would have time to relax. Instead, as I wrote last week, I found that I had to sprint from the outermost K gates to the outermost H gates. I believe the total distance is approximately 75 miles. I may exaggerate. I'm fairly certain that I ran over one of those beep-beep-beep carts.

But I made that flight, from ORD to LAS. My luggage did not make the flight though. Instead it took a wandering path, I believe to PVG or CDG or some other exotic destination. I hate to think that it spent all night alone at the ORD baggage room with all of those other forlorn bags.

My bag, in fact, was supposed to arrive on the next flight from ORD to LAS and would be delivered to my room no later than 2:00 a.m Saturday.

Again, as you eleven faithful readers know, it did not arrive on the next flight. In fact it took its sweet time arriving in LAS. And once it arrived, it took close to five hours to make the treacherous passage between the airport and our hotel. Why, I am told many, many dollars are lost in that passage, a total distance of 3.5 miles (I may exaggerate). It was luck, pure and simple, that my bag arrived at all.

As a result of that little mishap, I made a donation to the Las Vegas economy at the Polo store in Caesar's so that I could attend Alex Wright's excellent presentation on the web that almost was at the I/A summit.

Let us skip past the disastrous encounter with the blinking lights machines and tables with fine green felt tablecloths and strange designs to my departure on Monday from LAS to SAN via LAX.

Actually, this series of flights was almost uneventful, though again the very, very short connection time in LAX (approximately 30 seconds to connect via the American Eagle "shuttle". I have a different understanding of the term "shuttle" than used here in LAX).

Arriving in SAN, I stayed at the Hyatt Manchester which had a room for me …eventually. To be fair, no one could have dreamed that everyone who booked a room would actually expect to check into their room. It is totally unreasonable, otherwise why would the computers allow hotels and flights to be overbooked or oversold?

I got a room, and attended ETech 2007. I have written up my conference notes at 202 Accepted.

I so enjoyed my time at ETech that I realized I must rush home to tell all of the many wondrous stories and magical mysteries I learned of at ETech and thus prepared to return to NYC via SAN,LAX, JFK, EWR, LGA, ORD, and whatever other paths I could be routed upon.

First, I tried calling the Aadvantage Gold Number. The VRU hung up on me after mangling my strange Aamerican Aaccent and converting my Aadvantage number into something profane.

I tried the 800 number again, got to something claiming to be a human, who told me in no uncertain terms that there was no possible way to leave SAN any earlier than the flight I was booked on later tonight.

As we all know, I am naïve about the majicks of travel. So instead I consulted the wizards at Expert Flyer who told me, in no uncertain terms, that the Aairline was reporting in its reservation systems several seats available in the class of service I had paid for.

Full of vim and vigor, or at least of myself, I set off for SAN. On arrival at SAN's Terminal 4 I learned that I could not get help at the American desk because, silly me, I was flying on American Eagle, which is a completely separate entity (though with strangely similar lettering, branding, and conveniently coordinated schedules).

So I took the Red Bus. An aside here: in San Diego, the Red Bus is the bus that loops around the terminals. This is not the actual color of the bus, in fact the Red Bus I took was actually white. I concede that I am color blind, but I believe that I can reasonably tell the difference between Red and White. The Red Bus looped me and another lost soul around the airport to the commuter terminal.

On arrival at the commuter terminal I was faced with my greatest challenge: getting someone to give a damn.

The staff would really appreciate it if you used the automated kiosks. But I needed manual intervention with the gods of SABRE. All of this fancy schmancy Internet computer stuff is write-only when it comes to ticketing. Once you have bought a ticket, you cannot SHOULD NOT please dear g-d why on earth do you want to change your ticket?

So, time passed (including a flight to LAX) while I waited in line. I wanted to try changing my flight and actually rebook onto an earlier flight.

The agent convinced me that it wasn't worth the USD$100 change fee to rebook and that I could just fly standby.

The agent, succeeding in convincing me of this plan, neglected to tell me that a flight to DFW had been canceled earlier in the day, rerouting those passengers onto the commuter flights to LAX. And also, Aamerican Eagle load management had decided to swap out the RJs they were using earlier in the week for Saab turboprops, which incidentally seat half of the people that fit on an RJ.

So I missed the first couple of flights to LAX.

I held out hope, and eventually the 3:15 flight had one extra seat available and I got on that flight (by the way, to anyone else stranded in San Diego, there were actually at least four extra seats on that flight, and possibly eight if the last row was available for sale).

The 3:15 flight took off at 3:30.

The last flight (AA 180) to JFK would be taking off from LAX at 4:30.

The total flight time, conservatively, from SAN-LAX is 30-40 minutes.

The connection would be tight, but that is de rigeur for American on this trip.

We approached and landed at LAX with no problems.

We tAaxiied to to the commuter terminal and got off the plane, again with no problems.

We waited for a shuttle back to the main terminal.

And waited.

I looked at the time and it was 4:15.

And waited.

The shuttle arrived and took us to Terminal 4, stopping briefly to contemplate a collection of baggage containers which had parked themselves on one of the roadways, tying up traffic.

I got off the shuttle, took an escalator up (this probably was a mistake), started to walk then sprinted to the relevant gate. I arrived just in time to hear the warning bells that are used when the jetway is backed away from the plane.

I had missed the flight. There was no room for negotiation, no room neither for whining nor whinging. The next flight is at 9:30, a red-eye, which I'd been trying to avoid but will now try to fly standby on (I'm booked on the 10:30 p.m. which will be fine if I miss the 9:30 p.m.).

Which returns us back here, to the LAX Admiral's Club. I'm not alone, there are many pissed off people here, for one reason or another (DFW seems to be a disaster today for reasons I can't discern).

And I'm just going to sit here quietly and stew. See, had I rebooked I would have been on the passenger manifest for the flight that I just barely missed. And American would know I was on the American Eagle flight. And thus there was a chance, a far better chance than I had without rebooking, of getting on the flight.

It really would have been worth the change fee to rebook, even accepting standby on the commuter flight (conceding that the reservation system may well not have allowed a booking on the 4:30 flight since there were no seats for sale on any of the SAN-LAX flights before then).

And recruiters and headhunters wonder why I do not want to return to the wonderful life of the traveling consultant.

e.p.c. posted this at 01:07 GMT on 30-Mar-2007 from Brooklyn, NY.

Slightly acerbic and eccentric dog walker who masquerades as a web developer and occasional CTO.

Spent five years running the technology side of the circus known as www.ibm.com.

More about me here.

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