Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
2004-12-13
  Being flexible
Surviving travel is one part stamina and two parts flexibility. Today was no different. After having the web-checkin make discouraging comments about my reservation and informing me that I was doomed to present my case in person to the gate agents, I left myself a little extra time in getting to the airport. This ended up meaning that when I arrived at Flagstaff International Airport it was a complete ghost town. My ride was even surprised, and offered to hang around for a minute while I wandered up and down the hallway looking for any sign of life. After convincing myself that the airport had not been completely abandoned, I grabbed my gear and headed in to wait.

This provided me with enough time to break out my tech gear and do a dry run on my mobile warrior settup. I had meant to test it all out this afternoon while at home but of course that didn't happen. It is a miracle that I got out the door without forgetting anything (that I know of).

My first discovery was that the $6 adaptor for my headphones from RadioShack did work (even though the highly knowledgeable professional sales droid said it wouldn't). Second discovery was that the hot-sync cable for the laptop wouldn't fit beside it. Subsequent pondering of this problem led to the realization that if I was trying to plug my laptop into my phone then I could also listen to tunes on the laptop as well. (This mental glitch also reminded me of the old illustration of narrow thinking: being across the street from a bus stop and wishing you could teleport in order to catch your bus. But I digress.)

Any ways, there I was, geeking out, having so much fun comparing throughput rates at two bars vs three; that I was completely ignoring the airline people until they got so frustrated at me that one of them got on the airport intercom and told me to get my butt in gear and show up at security, because everyone else had already checked in and she wasted to close the gate. (It's not my fault that America West Express has such bad service and odd schedules that there were only 7 people on this flight.)

So, on the plane, in the air, a hop and a skip, and down in Phoenix where it was a very pleasant 65 degrees (ok, what is the stupid keyboard shortcut for degrees anyways. Alt-d would make sense, but it's not that. I mean if there's a keyboard shortcut for a smileyface then you'd think they'd have one for degrees. Oh well.)

I get into the terminal and check the boards for my flight, and it says "San Jose: Boarding". So I do a doubletake: ok, its not my flight, its the one before mine. Then I do another take because it says the boarding time is 8:28 but it's now like 8:50. So its either extremely out of date or delayed. I check its gate assignment and the one for my flight and start moving. After doing some quick calculations while juggling several other tasks, I figure its in the same concourse, and even on the way. So its worth trying for.

After a brisk walk across the airport (the odds weren't great enough to justify a run), I turn the corner and spot Gate A18, as well as the tail end of a line of very bored and slightly annoyed travellers. Catching the eye of the gate agent, I enquire about catching a ride.

"Any chance I could go to SJ?"
"Are you on a later flight?"
"You bet, ten pm."
"Any bags?"
"No, of course not."
No self respecting business traveller checks bags. That's just a recipe for disaster. Besides you can't switch planes if you've checked bags: some sort of security nonsense that wouldn't hold up to even three minutes of scrutiny, but those are the rules, and one is not going to profit by getting into a debate with the gate agent about the logic of them.

The gate agent puts down the pile of little papers she was counting or sorting (or whatever it is that airline people do with piles of little squares of papers); taps on a terminal so ancient that my *phone* could run circles around it, and hands me a ticket. Very nice, and a window seat even. I complement her on her superior abilities to procure such a wonderful arrangement from a system designed only to thwart and frustrate travellers (which gets me a little smile) and join the boarding line which has dwindled down to two others in front of me. Thirty seconds later I have cleared the gatekeeper and the door to the causeway is closed right behind me.

100 other passengers are fighting the frustration of the delay, but I was quite pleased with the outcome. It's all a matter of perspective. Not that my patience wasn't tested as well.

Several hundred of us seem to arrive, just as the shuttle buses to the car rentals are on break or something. And when I finally do manage to get on the bus and to the rental counter, I sit there waiting behind two other people while three more buses show up. Forty minutes later the man at the counter has managed to complete the paperwork for one entire rental, which he did by hand because the computer went down.

Of course during this time, I'm playing with my phone, tracking down a previous case entry in bugzilla that matches the new issue filed against lobby_server (a module I am responsible for). So not only am I being productive (and remaining in good spirits), but its billable time. Most excellent.

 
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Life in the middle of nowhere, remote programming to try and support it, startups, children, and some tinkering when I get a chance.

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Paul Graham's Essays
You may not want to write in Lisp, but his advise on software, life and business is always worth listening to.
How to save the world
Dave Pollard working on changing the world .. one partially baked idea at a time.
SnowDeal
Eric Snowdeal IV - born 15 weeks too soon, now living a normal baby life.
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The life of a pilot.

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Jan '04
The second best villain of all times.

Feb '04
Oops I dropped by satellite.
New Jets create excitement in the air.
The audience is not listening.

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Neat chemicals you don't want to mess with.
The Lack of Practise Effect

Apr '04
Scramjets take to the air
Doing dangerous things in the fire.
The Real Way to get a job

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Checking out cool tools (with the kids)
A master geek (Ink Tank flashback)
How to play with your kids

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