Long Day’s Journey into Night

After a long airport flight, I’m back in Northridge. It’s great to be in a real city again. It is far too green out there on the East Coast. I don’t know how they live with all those tall green things every. Cities were meant to be vast stretches of concrete, and it always feels good to see that as I flew back into Los Angeles.

Takeoff for the return flight was eventful. We were on a 777, and left the gate early. However, we had a significant ground hold while a thunderstorm passed over us. I was listening to cockpit communications, and was really impressed by the professionalism and hard work of the IAD ground tower. They were routing planes hither and yon, parking them, giving them taxi directions to their parking areas, moving them to 19R, doing a full ground stop, then rerouting everything to 30 because of wind shear alerts. It was also interesting listening to how they referred to the planes: United Blue and White, American Old Paint Job (which referred to one AA jet that was pained in the old livery–neat!). That is also one impressive taxiway system at IAD. It was also weird being on the plane as an intense thunderstorm passes directly over over. Once we made it into the air, the flight was good (the 777 is a real nice aircraft).

It is amazing the amount of work they are doing at Dulles. They have a large number of major projects going on, including expansion of Concourse B, changes and expansion of the main historic structure, a new tower, and a new Airport Train System. They seem to have a full master plan for the airport, including a series of mid-field concourses (and rebuilding C concourse and perhaps D into permanent structures) and a south terminal. This is good to see; it is something LAX has been trying to do for years.

However, the main terminal at Dulles still seems dated, even after the extensive renovations. I remember the old Dulles, with the clickity-clackity signs, mobile lounges to the planes, and the occasional lounge to mid-field. You can still see the vestiges in the terminal design. But now the upper end seems mostly security. LAX is no better: most satellite terminals are dated structures, and you can still see vestiges of the tunnel system that used to be used for returning passengers (as well as the direct connections between Terminals 4-5-6-7).

We drove to Dulles via US 29 and I-495. I was impressed by how fast US 29 was… they have upgraded it to expressway for most of the distance between Columbia MD and I-495.

My meetings went good. It sounds like some of the suggestions I made will have significant impact, and that’s always a good thing.


Color Me Unimpressed

So far, I’m unimpressed with the hotel for the workshop:

  • The directions that are provided are poor, and the signage off of the main road is worse. For the second year in the road I had to circle around twice to find the place.
  • Those who have read ellipticcurve‘s LJ already know this: they have a problem with bedbugs or some other biting insect in some of their rooms. She was covered all over in bites this morning, and was scratching all day. They’ve moved her to a different room.
  • I seem to have been given a room just above the loading dock. Made fun at 5am this morning when the trash trucks came. Luckily, I was already awake.
  • It is now 4:00pm. Housekeeping still hasn’t made it to my room yet. When I called, the answer I got was “Oh, they just haven’t gotten there yet.” I’m sorry, but all rooms should be serviced by check-in time. Update: They got here at 4:05pm. Still too late in my opinion. It was a crew of three.
  • The tea water they served this morning was in an urn previously used for coffee, and not cleaned 100%. Pfew. Not the way to start the morning.
  • Internet access here is $9.95 per day. Now, I’ve gotten used to this on business travel (“Your tax dollars at work”), but I still can’t understand why the Best Westerns and that level can provide wireless for free, yet it is $10/day at Sheratons, Hiltons, etc. One can often get around this by visiting the business center; this is useful to get a boarding pass the morning you leave. Here: pony up the cash folks. They’ve partnered with Showcase Business Centers, and it is $0.49 per minute for computers, and $0.50 per page to print, with a $3.00 minimum. Yes, I can expense this as a legitimate business expense, but they are my tax dollars too! Update: It looks like the Business Center allows you to go to the airline websites and print from there (i.e., boarding passes) for free. I’m sure there’s a way to exploit that (heh, heh), but I would never do that!

Because I’m An Old Fart…

Ah, lunchtime at the workshop, with a wireless connection in the meeting room. Time for another installment of LJ as a memory crutch. The following are some interesting references I’ve learned about at the workshop, which I’m writing down because I’m afflicted with CRS (“Can’t Remember Shit”):

We now return you to your regularly scheduled content. Nothing to see here. Move on.

P.S. And it doesn’t bother me at all that ellipticcurve got moved to an executive suite after finding bedbugs in her 3rd floor room. My room is just fine, and I haven’t had to deal with the after effect of bites!


Busy at the Workshop

Today was a busy day at the workshop. I started out tired, having gotten to sleep around 1am, and getting up at 4:50am. I think I got more sleep the year I took the red-eye. Anyway, we had a full day of presentations… on top of which I’ve been reviewing a number of documents. After I finish typing this, it’s back to reviewing documents for another hour or two. I did get a chance to continue to meet strangers from the internet when countfroggy stopped by the hotel to say “hi”.

Well, back to work it is…


I Just Got In From Los Angeles, and Boy Are My Arms Tired

Well, I made it to my hotel.

Airport Security. The United terminal had an odd security setup. They had separate lines for 1st Class/Premier and for us peons. For the peons, there were two lines (not the six there were last time), feeding two carry-on scanners and a single people scanner. Translation: Slow. It took me about 40-45 minutes. On the upside: I had no problems going through. I did my usual: everything except my boarding pass in the computer bag. Computer out. Backpack through. Shoes/jacket through. Computer bag through. Computer through. Me through, smiling, holding the boarding pass. No secondary checks at all! Not with the electronics. Not with the pens. No problems at all! We’ll see what Dulles is like on the way back Friday evening.

The Flight. The flight itself was long and boring. And hot. We were on an Airbus A320, and I don’t think UAL maintained it well at all. Still, the time passed. Luckily, I picked up a portable DVD player on sale over the weekend, and was able to watch 2½ episodes of Commander in Chief. Damn, the show was just hitting its stride when it got cancelled!

The Arrival. The arrival was OK, but I was amazed by the amount of construction at Dulles. What are they building out there? Looks like another midfield terminal, a metro station, and a bunch of other stuff.

The Dinner. As we ended up getting out of the airport with the rental car around 7pm. So we went to Legal Seafood in Tysons for dinner. Yum!

The Hotel. One of the things I don’t like about Columbia is their poor signage. Yet again (2nd year in a row). The Sheraton Columbia is off this little road that is poorly signed, especially at night. I guess I’m an LA Boy

Now to go do some workish stuff and then get to bed. Tomorrow morning’s meetings come earlier than I would like to think.


I Remember When Travel Was Fun

Well, it is soon off to the airport for a business trip to Columbia MD. I have a 10:15am flight, so I’m going to aim to be there at 7:30am. My fountain pens are shipped (except for one I’m carrying — ugh, I’ll have to use ball points). I have no liquids or gels. All my prescriptions are in their bottles with labels. My carry-ons are ready to go (I’m still trying to avoid checking things — I don’t like how checked luggage is handled).

I’m not looking forward to this trip. Oh, the meetings themselves will be fine. Rather, the whole set of hassles now with the TSA checkpoints, combined with the cattle-car environment of the airplane, have taken the fun out of travel. There are now a whole set of rules and regulations, some of them more arcane than others. Would that I had the courage that this guy had. Sigh.

Travelling use to be fun. Before my daughter was born, I enjoyed travel. For work, I did weekly juants to DC for testing — in Monday, back Friday. Nowadays, I’d just rather stay in Los Angeles. I go out of my way to avoid flying, just due to the hassles.

Is this what has become of us? Have the growing indignities due to safety and security forced us to isolate to areas within a reasonable driving distance? Is travelling now just for the young and single, not for us old folks who remember when it was special, you were treated well, and it was easy to do.

I’ll post once I’m in my hotel.