February 2006 Archives

nothing happening here

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I got a laugh out of Mike by telling him about my Valentine's Day dinner. I was staying in a hotel in Albuquerque, so I went to a restaurant alone. It was so crowded that I sat at the bar rather than wait for a table. Mike thought this was hugely funny--nobody sits at the bar on Valentine's Day, according to him. Then he realized he was making fun of the way I'd spent Valentine's Day, while he had spent Valentine's Day sitting in his room drinking beer and playing video games. Just saying.

I proved to myself on this trip that I can catch a 6:15am flight. Okay, I made it to the gate just in time to hear the announcement "All passengers should now be on board," but that was because of the insane line to get through security at the Oakland airport. I started the trip in DC, flew to Denver, then Albuquerque, Phoenix, Oakland, Chicago, and back to DC, and the worst airport by far was Oakland. Best airport: Albuquerque. Albuquerque has a lot going for it, I must say.

I didn't have time to check the Cingular connection at the Oakland airport, obviously, but I'd gotten online at the hotel in Oakland using Cingular. I didn't have time to get online in Chicago, either--I had a very short layover. Nevertheless, I'm now addicted to the Cingular wireless technology.

Phoenix Airport

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I've got a very brief layover here. In just a few minutes I've got to board a plane for Oakland. Just time enough to pop into a noisy, smoky, bar, pay $8 for a glass of wine, and check the connection.

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm loving this Cingular wireless technology. It's slow--well, about the speed of dsl: 528kbps. I'm spoiled by the 4Mbps I get over the cable connection at home. Still, it's a blast to be able to get online from anywhere.

Driving Drunk

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A title to grab the attention of the reader, to be sure.

I'm in Albuquerque, and the weather is so beautiful here--its' one of those times when you think: I could live here. Tonight our plans to have dinner with the guys from the UK fell apart (the DTRA guy was too exhausted, I was too hungry to wait), so I drove to Cervantes, a Mexican restaurant a few miles from my hotel, and had dinner alone. Something about the air here makes each pinpoint of light from the city shine so brightly that the city looks like a vast scattering of jewels--a dragon's lair spilled across the desert. The moon was incredible as I was driving to the restaurant--full and bright, and low in the sky, hovering just over the shoulder of the mountain in the near distance. According to the moon just to the right, it's 99% of full and waning, but I can't imagine it looking any rounder or brighter.

Cervantes serves good New Mexican food, puffy sopapillas with honey, and great Margaritas; we ate there when I was out here in February. I ordered the chili relleno dinner and two "silver coin" Margaritas. With a big meal--and I ate enough for three--I figured I'd be good to go. It was only as I was paying the bill that I realized I was reeling from the alcohol. I considered my options: taking my chances driving back to the hotel, or leaving my rental car at the restaurant and asking the hostess to call a cab. If I did that, was there any chance of my getting to the meeting on time in the morning? Probably not. I drove the short distance back to the hotel: a straight shot down Gibson, a right turn onto Yale, and I was back safely.

I realize how lucky I was. Had I been pulled over, I probably would have failed a sobriety test--if not by alcohol level, then surely by ability to walk a straight line. It would have cost me so much, and I'm not just talking about money. Worse yet, I could have caused an accident. I drove flawlessly, but I knew my reaction rate would be slow if anyone pulled out in front of me unexpectedly. I considered the likelihood of a child running into the street--no, it wouldn't happen on Gibson at night.

I think of myself as a fairly "heavy drinker" because it's my habit to have a couple of drinks in the evening after work. But my favorite drink these days is bourbon and ginger ale, and I fix it thusly: 5 or 6 ice cubes in a tall glass, one shot of bourbon, then fill the glass with ginger ale. I fix gin and tonics the same way. I'm always blown away by the strength of drinks served in restaurants. Whereas I add a shot of bourbon to cut the sweetness of the ginger ale, a bartender seems to add a bit of ginger ale to soften the bite of the bourbon. I can drink two of my own drinks and feel perfectly fit to drive, but I can't drink two of the Margaritas at Cervantes.

Next time I'll leave the rental car at the hotel and take a cab to the restaurant.

more airport blogging

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Apparently cingular wireless also works from the Denver airport--better and better. In fact I have a better connection here than I had at Nat'l--every circle of the connection meter is filled.

My flight out of Denver has been delayed, turning this into a 3 hour and 40 minute layover. What an itinerary. By the time I get to my hotel in Albuquerque my internal clock will think it's 2am. I will have spent close to 9 hours sitting in airports, at a cost to the guvmint of something like a thousand bucks. Oh yes! Didn't I mention that? These are all "billable hours", and I take home a fraction of what the guvmint pays for my services.

My battery icon shows 56% remaining, which it says is good for 2 hours and 43 minutes. So...I should think of something to say, huh? Too tired--guess I'll just go read some blogs.

airport blogging

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Last night we had our first major snowfall of winter. My neighborhood was a winter wonderland this morning, with every branch of every tree weighed down with several inches of snow, large masses of snow bending the branches of pine trees and balancing precariously on power lines. It was incredibly quiet. More quiet than I would have wished actually, because the power was out. A large branch had come down on the line one street over.

It's a bummer that we got our first deep, beautiful snow the night before I have to leave for a business trip. Fortunately Mike came home this weekend to pick up Saint, and he shoveled the driveway this morning. Unfortunately, I got to the airport and discovered my flight had been cancelled. I was supposed to catch a 1:40pm flight to Chicago, then fly from there to Albuquerque. Instead I'm booked on a 5pm flight to Denver. So I'm sitting in Reagan National Airport--at a small table near gates 29 and 31, through one of which I'll be boarding a plane a couple of hours from now.

I brought this new laptop with me. It's got built-in connection capability of every available kind, so because I have several hours to kill here, I signed up for Cingular wireless service. Supposedly I can get online wherever a cingular cell phone can pick up a signal. Obviously it works here at Reagan Nat'l--hurray. It's expensive though. The laptop came with a 30-day free trial, so I have some time to decide whether it's worth it. I may decide it's not, but still, pretty neat technology.

New toy

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I'm staring at a tiny screen. It measures 9 and 3/4 inches by 5 and 3/8 inches. Otherwise known as "11 inch widescreen", because it's 11 inches on the diagonal, and the height to width ratio is that of a widescreen movie theater. The whole computer is 7 and 3/8 inches by 10 and 3/4; smaller than a piece of paper. It's less than an inch thick.

I bought myself this Sony VAIO laptop for traveling. The company I work with had given me a laptop, but it was old and clunky and weighed a ton. I wanted something small and light. This laptop is unbelievably small. It weighs 2 pounds, 12 ounces. I love it. I am enchanted by it.

I didn't, however, intend for this to me my *only* computer. It was to be for travel only. Until I came home from work today and heard a horrible noise coming from my Dell. I don't know how near-death the Dell is. It still boots up and I can still use it, but I've transferred all my pictures, music, and important stuff to this tiny machine. It has a 60Gb hard drive, so there was plenty of room for all my personal stuff and my work stuff as well.

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