travel

Travel

I have a lifetime goal of "travel more." Such an unactionable goal. More than what?

Year One, establish a baseline: 2015

Travel 2015

Tracking my travel days for 2015.

Did I really do that?

I left my laptop at the X-ray screening area. I cannot believe I did that. I was so busy counting the number of TSA people, and contrasting that number to the number of actual travelers, and scheming on how I'm going to manage to take a picture of this madness, that I walked away from the security area with my bag and my backpack and my shoes, no laptop.

I managed to take the picture, shove everything into my backpack, put my backpack on my back, and tie my shoes before I realized my backpack was light and, holy crap, my laptop isn't in it!

I rushed back to the X-ray screening station, going in through the DO NOT ENTER exit, looking daggers at the woman who briefly thought about intercepting me, and dashed to the screening station. Oh, thank goodness, my laptop, complete with its little green star, was still sitting there on the counter, waiting for me to rescue it, possibly also looking daggers back at me for leaving it.

So, yeah, what is it with all the TSA people here? I mean, do we really need at 2:1 ratio of agents to travelers.

Dear Annoying co-traveller


My dearest, annoying co-traveller,

When it is time to disembark from the airplane, please do so efficiently. We, your fellow passengers sitting behind you, and to your side, specifically request you not wait until your row has exited, then immediately block everyone else from exiting the plane while you dash back two rows to clamour into the overhead bins to retrieve your overstuffed rollerbag that took up all of the bin because you stuffed it up there with a sledgehammer and wedge.

We kindly ask you to wait until people in your row and the several rows behind you, but in front of your luggage, exit the plane, then move back a few rows, one at a time, as space opens up between other passengers exiting the plane.

Should your luggage be in the bin opposite your row, and you were unable to retrieve it before your row started exiting, once again, we request you wait a few moments. Do not, under any circumstances, believe it is okay to knock the woman exiting the row opposite you in the head with your elbow while causally murmurring "excuse me," and reaching into the overhead bin for your bag.

As you are doing this, the row across from you and the remaining 15 rows behind you are all waiting for you to hurry with your bag. The 20 seconds you take to retrieve your bag while placing your well-travelled butt in everyone's way may not seem like a particularly long time to wait for any individual person. However, on a full flight, that 20 seconds translates into (20 seconds * 15.5 rows * 6 people per row * 1 minute for 60 seconds) = 31 minutes of combined lost time for the remaining passengers on the plane.

Do you know what we could have done with those 31 minutes?

I assure you, watching you fumble with your four bags was not at the top of our list.

So, next time, seriously, wait 60 seconds until a gap forms in the line of exiting passengers before you bowl your way over to the overhead bin.

It'll save me from needing ice for the lump on my head next time.

Sincerely,

Passengers of Flight 2657

Gah, I hate flying

Why, oh, why do I continue to fly? Why not just stop travelling, or stick with driving. Ignoring the fact I'm more likely to die driving than flying, or even riding a bike to work, I can't stand flying and am tired of being stressed out by the experience.

Let's start with the lines. There are hundreds of people in these lines. Each of them doesn't want to be in this line. Each of them is trying to get through the line as fast as possible.

So, what do I do in the line? Two hours of sleep where I woke up every 15 minutes meant I was the one who held up the line. I'm the one who took three times longer than the five people behind me. I'm the one who didn't have my ID out when I needed to. I'm the one who didn't plan ahead. Not enough sleep makes me completely inefficient. To all of the people who also showed up at the airport with only five minutes before the baggage cutoff happened, yeah, yeah, it's my fault: show up to the airport earlier next time.

Next up after baggage claim? The security line. The security line where people with no power in life, having never earned the right to that power nor the respect necessary to receive that power, are in a position to dominate the people who come through the security checkpoint. If a person talks back, or, heaven forbids, asks a legitimate questions (like, who do they work for and what right do they have to ask for my identification?), they'll be detained, possibly missing their flight, all on the whim of the idiot security checkpoint personnel.

Fact, you don't have to show your identification to fly, and, even if you did, you would show it to a TSA employee and NOT a random person who asks for it. Check their badges - if it doesn't state TSA and you ask to see his identification, you will guaranteed be searched and detained and harassed. Try it some time. You can make it through to the flight without showing any identification.

Another reason to hate the security lines is because the identification check is a joke. Next time you check in online, save the ticket as a PDF or image. Then, next time you need to go to the gate, edit the ticket, putting in today's date, print, and off you go.

And the no liquids or gels over three ounces rule? Don't declare them before you go through the x-ray machine. 75% of the time, they'll make it through fine. If they don't, declare ignorance and throw them away.

Yeah, annoying, worthless actions called "security" piss me off.

So, after checking my one bag, then making it through the security line, I went to the gate counter to see if there were other seats available. Flying across the county in the middle seat, with little sleep, is not a fun thought, so it was a reasonable request. As I approached the counter, two people rushed in front of me.

Fortunately, I was tired, and didn't immediately pushed them back. They were both receiving new boarding passes, presumably to sit in first class. I waited until they were done, and explained I was in the middle seat, were there any window or aisle seats available? In full liar mode, she immediately looked down at her screen, played with her hair and, in sharp contrast to the bellowing words she used moments before with the previous customers, spoke very softly, saying there were no seats available at all, I would have to stay in the seat I was in.

I was too tired, and at this point completely angry, to answer, including the two boarding passes you JUST ripped up, did you bother to frackin' look at them?

So, I spent the five hour flight sitting in the middle seat. Fortunately, I spent the first three hours drifting in and out of sleep, and the last two buried in the slides for my talk. Turns out, after I looked up from my slides, one of the two fellow passengers asked me about them. We chatted about computers, work, websites, ultimate, exercise in general and other topics. The conversation was quite enjoyable, broken only by another pleasant conversation with the other fellow passenger sitting to my other side.

The two of them nearly, close but not quite, made up for the horrible start of the day. I managed to secure a business card from one guy. The other one, all I know about him is that he lives in Maryland and works for N.I.S.T, which we joked meant National Institute of Something Technical.

I'll be glad when this day is over, as it'll mean I'll be in Boston, will have met Emily and had an opportunity to chat with George.

Oh, and go to bed. I am so tired.

Boston, here I come!

Time for bed, for two whole hours, two and a half, if I'm lucky. It's 3:30 am, my flight is at 7:20 am, and I'm tired. I've downloaded a list of flickr ultimate photos, which, if I can stay awake on the flights and be motivated, I'll stick in my talk.

Why do I always do this? Why am I always up until some ridiculous hour the night before an early flight?

More importantly, why do I schedule these early morning flights?

In four hours, I'll be off to Boston for my UCPC talk on Saturday.

No, I'm not stressed.

Okay, yes I am.

My Year in Cities, 2006

Following Jason Kottke's My Year in Cities post, I have my list of cities. I'm completely ignoring all of the local cities around here that I don't frequent, but that traveling to is blog-worthy, such as Santa Cruz, Oakland, and San Francisco.

    Chicago, Illinois #
    Winchester, Virginia
    Boulder, Colorado *+
    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada #
    Waimanalo, Hawaii
    San Diego, California #
    Davis, California *+
    Big Island, Hawaii
    Portland, Oregon #
    Grand Canyon, Arizona
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Chico, California +
    Burlington, Washington +
    Seattle, Washington +
    Sarasota, Florida +
    Sydney, New South Wales, Australia +
    Perth, Western Australia, Australia +
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia +

Following Kottke's rules, I've spent "one or more nights in each place. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days." Those marked with a + are ultimate-related cities. Those marked with a # are conference cities.

Not supposed to leave

Clearly, I'm not supposed to travel out of the country.

In a Truman Show-esque catastrophe, everything seems to go wrong when I do, or at least attempt to, travel out of the country. Take Italy with Mom and BJ: My luggage was lost, then delayed by a strike in France that affected only my luggage, and not my mother's or my brother's. My mother wondered who replaced her daughter with a changeling, when I didn't scream and have a fit, but accepted the loss calmly.

I ended up wearing my mother's underwear.

Our honeymoon beginning and end were so traumatic that I've been unable to transfer my written journal entries here without singing "My Humps" off-key at the top of my lungs to avoid the memories, which have thus far always caused convulsions and uncontrollable drooling. Even the travel agent commented that trip seemed cursed after I told her about the birds pooping on my head.

Yeah.

So, imagine my uncontrollable frustration this weekend when, after about fifty hours of sorting, clearing, cleaning, arranging, looking and shuffling, I am unable to find my passport.

I had it two weeks ago. I took it to Vegas Baby Vegas with me, because I hate using my driver's license for travelling. I see no reason why I should show a complete stranger my name and address and, hey, look, I'm heading out of town! See here? Here's my flight information! Call your buddies, rob my house!

A passport doesn't have an address on it, so, even though you know I'm going out of town, you don't immediately know where I live. Not that figuring out where I live is that difficult. I just like to make it harder than looking at a card that I handed you with detailed directions on how to get there.

I don't recall having my passport when I went to Florida.

I did have it on the one day between Vegas Baby Vegas and Florida. I remember dumping all of my bag contents on the floor and having it spill out on the floor. I even remember thinking, "Huh, that's not in the approved location."

I haven't seen it since.

I have an appointment with the Passport Agency on Tuesday morning. I've heard it takes two days to get a new passport, so I'm going to head up tomorrow morning to see if I can get in today, to receive the passport today or tomorrow at the latest.

I keep thinking, oh, it'll show up, just one more box to go through and I'll find it. At some point, I'll have to give up and accept it's gone.

Writing about leaving town is always an internal struggle. On one hand, I'm heading out of town, it's what's happening to me at the moment, I want to talk about it. On the other hand, it's an announcement, "Hey, look everyone, my house is going to be empty for a few days!" I hate that. This time, however, we have house guests staying at the house, feeding the doggies, maybe even petting them if Bella decides to STFU already (though, I'd be surprised at that).