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November 30, 2001

Travel Sucks

Joy, joy. Another day, another day trip. I dropped Kelly off at school yesterday morning, then I ran back home to gather together my gear. It took about 45 minutes to drive to the airport. I parked in the parking garage, since Mentor reimburses travel expenses, and I figure they oughta pick up the higher rate since they're asking me to travel. I had my first intimation of how things had changed when I parked. They'd cordoned off a chunk of the garage nearest to the terminal, with dire 'tow-away' warnings all along the plastic mesh fence partitioning the area. This was nearly a quarter of the parking spaces!

Once inside I noticed that the airport proper was pretty empty. It's post-holiday, and my flight was after the morning shuttle-rush, so that's at least partially understandable. I met with Dave, my boss, and John, and we made our way through the security gate. I got a more thorough going over with the magnetic wand when my belt buckle made the scanners beep, but no strip searches .

I never saw any National Guard in PDX, but Dave claims to have seen one. There was a bicycle cop riding up and down the concourse, but since there were maybe a total of fifteen people in our immediate area, he had nothing much to do. Eventually we boarded our flight, which was less than a quarter full. I moved to a seat where I had empty seats on all sides, and spent the flight reading up on OpenSSH to learn about getting a secure X Windows connection with work from home.

We picked up our rental car in San Jose, stopped by the Mentor offices to pick up some other folks, then proceeded to meet with Company X (not going to mention what we were doing there, for NDA reasons). These guys had a really nice office, and a cool conference room with a view. There, is that vague enough for you?

After the meeting, one guy who had lived in San Jose tried to give us directions to Germania Haus, a German restaurant, before he went home. Of course we couldn't find it with both hands, so we drove around until we found a Thai restaurant, and ate there. The food was pretty good, and Dave picked up the tab. We stopped to eat since our return flight wasn't until 8:45pm. That's what you get when you try to book business trips at the last minute.

On the way back to the airport, we passed by the San Jose Coliseum (yes, it's called Logitech Ice, but c'mon), where there was a huge crowd, being directed by traffic cops. At first I though it was a WWF match, since the marquee was advertising that. But after a little while, it became clear from the dress of the attendants that this was a Sharks game. The Sharks are the San Jose hockey team, and they're quite popular. In case you're curious, here's a recap, wherein the Pittsburgh Penguins lost to the San Jose Sharks.

We got to the terminal early, so we went for snackies, and I went to a gift store and bought Kelly a stocking stuffer for Christmas: an S. J. Sharkie plush keychain. He's carrying a surfboard, kawaii!

Mexicana Airlines was really busy last night, with at least two plane loads of people waiting in a long line at their ticket counter. I was trying to figure out why there'd be so many Latinos leaving at the same time, and I still can't figure it out.

We went through a somewhat more thorough security check to get to our gate, and now I actually saw two National Guardsmen. And four policemen! The gate was crowded this time. Our flight was delayed 'due to security issues in Portland', so I didn't actually get to leave until 9:20 pm. The flight was nearly full this time around, so I guess red-eye flights are busier than late-morning flights. Okay, it was only 9:20 pm, so it wasn't a red-eye. Jean says it was a 'pink-eye' flight. Aggh! Don't touch anything!

The woman sitting next to me told me that she flew down to San Jose that morning too. In her case, her flight was cancelled, and they put her on a flight to Oakland, where everyone on the flight was bussed to San Jose! So I guess I got off easy. The flight was uneventful, and I disembarked and walked to my car with no further incidents. Well, not until it came time to pay for the day's parking. It turns out that since the last time I went on a business trip for Mentor and now, they've doubled the price of one day's parking in the garage. It's now $32! Luckily, I had that much and only that much in my wallet. I had been debating buying Jean a T-Shirt at the San Jose gift shop, and decided to wait for something better. Now I'm glad I did.

I got home around midnight, and took another half hour to an hour to unwind and go to sleep. That's when I discovered that mild respiratory infections and air travel don't mix. I woke myself up coughing frequently, and as a result got very little sleep. I spent today taking it easy, working from home on my OpenSSH X connection. And I got that working! Cool!

Two 'ominous' notes. While walking through the terminal Dave was talking about his visit to Helsinki on business, and I mentioned that my Dad's side of the family if from Finland. He wanted to know if I had been to Finland and I admitted that except for Canada, I'd never left the United States. "Well," he said, "we'll have to do something about that." I seriously doubt he'll find a convincing business reason to do that, but it's unsettling anyway.

The other 'ominous' note was that he offered to meet these guys again in a few weeks on the East Coast! And he used the word 'we'! Help me! Help me!

Posted by dpwakefield at November 30, 2001 05:34 PM