Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
2006-01-05
  Gone Flying
Back into the travelling circuit and my opinion of commercial flying is back to its typical rock bottom. The only upside is my expectations are so low, and my level of preparedness is so high; that its not really that bad.

Weather delays on the way out left me stuck in the airport for hours and hours, with no clear picture at any time when I was going to be going. A 30 minute delay stretched out six times is just worse than a three hour delay. With the larger block of time I could have made plans, seen a movie, gone to get a snack. With 30 minutes to go (on a perpetual basis), I'm stuck poking at my phone or maybe breaking out my laptop; munching my way through my emergency supplies of cold pizza, animal crackers and gatorade. My puzzles and movies keep the time occupied, but after the fourth sudoku puzzle and third day of the Daily Show, I just start getting antsy. Its like being on one of those international flights overseas and actually having enough battery life to last the whole time. What would you do? Who can stare at the computer for 12 hours straight. (I'm talking without internet)

bart train

Arriving on the ground at San Francisco wasn't much of a relief, as the connection between the bart and caltrain was to its usual level of precision (the bart train arriving at exactly the same time as the caltrain), and thanks to a closed stairway I missed the one train stopping at the station for at least an hour. Nothing like trying to think straight and maybe code something while sitting outside in the cold and rain, with your legs going asleep/numb under you while you stare at a washed out screen running X Windows over a dialup cellphone link.

That why when we decided to go up to Sacramento to check out things in the colo center and meet with another one of our distributed programmers, it was a relief to go private. Al has his own plane, a 1977 cessna turbo, and it moves at a good clip. We got to the hanger, did pre-flight, loaded up, ran through the check-list, and a few minutes later we were on the go. I even got to steer for a while (thought the autopilot would have handled the job just as well the entire time).

Driving back to the airport in the rental car was so hilarious. Both Tim and I have travelled enough that we have this ingrained sense of urgency as we run through the typical foreign city return. Unable to find an open spot at the gas station, oh-no, we're going to be late. Wouldn't want to miss our flight. Even saying it out loud and laughing at it wasn't enough to entirely dispell the tension.

But after a few loops and turns, we got to the gate. Paid $3 for parking the plane, loaded up and were on our way. What a relief. The view was especially nice as Al had just put in a new windshield, so I got a couple of half-decent pictures out the side of the front window where it wasn't covered with bug splat. That's about all I could do with the camera phone.

 
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