Category Archives: Travel

The "body clock" I didn’t know I had

No, not *that* one (the oh-my-god-I-gotta-have-a-baby-before-it’s-too-late, clock …that stopped ticking years ago). My flight to Orlando for TechEd was a 6am flight. The concept of me getting up on time for that, much less even being awake at 6am makes my husband laugh his butt off.

I got to bed last night at 11 and set my alarm for 4am. Well, I changed the alarm *time* to 4am, but apparently never pushed the button to make the alarm go off. And I was exhausted so I slept very soundly. Somehow (and this is not normal for me), I woke up in the middle of the night and in my daze remembered that I had a flight so looked at the clock. It was 4:10!

I don’t know how I was so lucky, but thank goodness. Being a bit of a road warrior, I had all of my stuff ready to go and my clothes laid out, so it took me no time at all to get dressed and out the door. And I was sitting in the waiting area at 5:15 with plenty of time to go.

Phew.

Flights are all on time so far so good. Looks like I’ll make it easily for my Ask the Expert Session. The location is "Red TLC- Windows Booth", wherever that is!

Website Graffiti?  Drawing and Annotation with Silverlight

Tuesday June 3rd 1:00-2:00                      Julie Lerman – The Data Farm

In this session you will learn the basics of using Silverlight’s InkPresenter to enable users to draw on your websites and annotate images and video. You will also see the how web services can be used in conjunction with Silverlight to provide more advanced features such as handwriting recognition and database persistence.

Finally! United Red Carpet Club has free wi-fi!

Hip hip hooray.

My only trip so far in 2008 was on USAirways, so I hadn’t realized this until just now as I’m stuck in Dulles for 3 hours because  – oh shock! – my flight from Burlington was delayed and I missed my connection by minutes. As we landed, I saw my plane to Orlando sitting at the gate. I hoofed it down the hallway with my backpack on and my carryon in tow (not great fun in Teva’s), arrived breathless to learn that it had just left. Now why don’t they get the fact that I’m on a connecting flight – one of their own – and just pulling into my gate and just wait another 2 minutes?

Anyway, at least I had the nice surprise of the free wireless to go along with teh carrott sticks and packaged bites of cheese they have for us here in the lounge. Oh, how it makes me miss the Lufthansa and Ai Canada lounges with their real food and (even though I don’t take advantage) local beer on tap!

 

United Airlines now charging for checking more than one bag

I am part of United’s mileage plus program and thanks to the way-too-much travelling I do, am a premier member. (I would have to fly 50,000 a year to get to the next level and I cannot imagine travelling that much more!)

I just received an email alerting me that United is going to start charging $25 for a second checked bag. This doesn’t apply to me because I have “status” with my miles. With the rising cost of fuel, I suppose it isn’t too surprising and possibly an interesting way to avoid raising airfares across the board significantly. This way, you just pay a little extra if you are loading more stuff onto the plane.

But geeze, what’s next, airfare based on weight?

Why I don’t travel in the winter

I change my mind daily about going to MIX.

I WANT TO GO TO MIX. The registrations are dwindling and it will soon be sold out.

But I don’t want to deal with this:

SOUTH BURLINGTON — Today’s ice storm has caused numerous delays and cancellations this afternoon at Burlington International Airport, airport officials said.

Between about 3 and 5 p.m., there are expected to have been two delayed and two canceled arrivals, and another four or five delays and two canceled departures from the airport, said airport Facilities Manager Brian Searles.

“Right now, it’s really all about where flights are coming from,” said Searles. “We’re operational here.”

Searles said a continuing ice-build up could force the airport to close at some point this evening.

People should call the the airlines for more information on their flight, Searles said.

[source today’s burlington free press]

This article doesn’t even mention the winds that have been howling the past 6 hours. It’s not much fun to be in a plane that is landing in high winds on ice covered runways. Been there done that.

And then there’s always the fun at O’Hare. Last April we sat onthe runway for 2 hours when we landed at O’Hare, got on another plane and sat there for 3 hours before we took off. Bah!

When airline delays are a good thing!

I’m in Seattle and on my way home to Burlington. When I arrived at the airport, I saw that my flight was delayed but it didn’t indicate for how long.

Shock of shocks … there is snow in Chicago, so my flight through Chicago was potentially delayed. If it was delayed more than 1/2 hour, I would likely miss my connecton to get home – the last one of the night.

Normally, this would have made me unhappy. However, for the past two days, I had been trying to reroute my flight to Binghamton  or Syracuse NY so that I could attend a family funeral but it was going to cost $450 to make the change – with no option to use miles to pay for the difference. I had decided I would just fly home to Vermont, get up at 5am and drive the 5 hours to Syracuse.

But the delay ended up solving the problem for me. United was able to change my flight to go to Binghamton without any charge. This I can’t complain about.

In the end, the Seattle to Chicago flight actually left on time, but I’m very happy that I’ll be able to get to my parent’s house tonight and we’ll just work out the logistics of my getting back to Vermont later.

Watching the weather and air travel patterns

With the inclement weather all over the U.S. right now and a nasty forecast of snow & sleet for Burlington tomorrow morning, I’ve been watching the weather in Vermont, Chicago and Seattle as well as what’s going on today with flights between those cities. I’m supposed to fly to Seattle tomorrow.

 

One great tool for watching flight patterns between airports is from the FAA’s flight delay information – Air Traffic Control System Command Center website.

 

Another trick is just to go to United or whatever airline you prefer and ask it to show status for all flights between your destinations, rather than a specific flight #. SO I can see that flights between Burlington and Chicago today, some were cancelled, the 12:30pm flight left and arrived on time. The later afternoon flights are seriously delayed (eg 5pm flight delayed until 8pm). So it’s all over the map. Tomorrow morning, my key piece of info will be when the flight FROM Chicago heads to Burlington because that plane turns around and flies back to Chicago which is the flight I’m supposed to be on. Snow & sleet also makes for interesting travel to drive to the airport, much less worrying about planes landing there. But pilots continue to amaze me when they make perfectly normal landings in conditions that have me white knuckled and with a racing pulse. I’ll stick with the day job.

 

Halfway through Conference Season!

In the past month (plus a few days), I have flown across the country twice (one was an overnight trip to San Diego for an INETA talk, the other was for a few days for some training in Redmond at Microsoft) and driven to Boston twice (4 hours each way, once for COde Camp, and then again for REMIX) and Montreal once for a user group meeting.

STill ahead of me in the next month (plus a few days) are three more cross country trips. Las Vegas for DevConnections, Vancouver for DevTeach and then back to Seattle for another quickie trip.

(And before you ask, no, I am not interviewing. You should know me better than that by now. πŸ™‚ I’m just trying to learn a thing or two and rack up those miles.)

Emergency! Emergency!

We had a wee scare last night flying from Washington/Dulles into Burlington (on my way home from a quick trip to San Diego to do an INETA talk … that blog post is still on my laptop :-)).

It was a late night flight, due to land at 11:30pm in Burlington.

Five miles before we got to Burlington, the airplane’s monitoring system reported excessive heat in one of the front brakes. The worst case scenario was that on touchdown or cruising down the runway, the brake could catch fire and it was quite close to the engine so…scary potential.

The flight attendants (both young and neither had yet been initiated with an emergency landing before this) had to prepare us very quickly with the news and for an emergency landing. Tighten the seat-belts, tuck into a ball, brace yourself against the seat in front of you (I had a wall that was a little far away). There was no time really for much else. They did a fabulous job.

I live with a general disbelief in anything bad happening to me or my loved ones. My parents have both survived minor bouts with cancer; my father has been in two car accidents where the car was totalled and he walked away; my husband cracked his head open on a rock face while we were hiking and while there was a LOT of blood, missing teeth, a scalped scalp and huge gashes to be stapled up, he recovered perfectly and they even shoved his teeth back into his gums and they remain there today. My Newfoundlands are living to ripe old ages beyond the norm for this breed of dogs.

So yes, I live in a little fantasy bubble world.

And because of that, while I was certainly shaking a little, I didn’t really think that anything bad would really happen. And it didn’t.

We landed. Nothing seemed to happen out of the ordinary. We did an emergency evacuation of the plane because the potential for fire and explosion still remained. Since I was up front I just went down the stairs like I normally would (vs. jumping off the wing like a lot of other people had to). Nobody was hurt. The plane didn’t catch fire.

There was a lot of excitement on the runway. Many firetrucks and emergency vehicles and two guys in Hazmat outfits who looked like astronauts inspecting the plane.

It struck me as odd that I was the only person who walked VERY far away from the plane (you know, just in case.). I just kept going further and further out in the field by the runway.  And an hour later, I was allowed to go back on the plane to get my stuff out of the storage bin and I headed home.

One poor girl had been so terrified (possibly she has some past experience that this too closely resembled) that she couldn’t stop crying for at least an hour. She had her boyfriend there to comfort her.

So, I got another day out of it. Didn’t even bother calling my husband since it was nearly midnight; I knew he was sleeping and all I had to report was “Hi honey. I’m here. The plane didn’t crash or blow up and I’m still alive. Talk to you later.”  But I call him with that report after every single flight, which means generally twice in a day, since most of my flights include one stop over. So it didn’t seem necessary to wake him up for that.

Snakes on a plane?

News stories about flying on planes always catch my eye because I travel a lot. Here’s one from www.cnn.com today:

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — Customs officers at Cairo’s airport have detained a man bound for Saudi Arabia who was trying to smuggle 700 live snakes on a plane, airport authorities said.

The officers were stunned when a passenger, identified as Yahia Rahim Tulba, told them his carryon bag contained live snakes after he was asked to open it.

Tulba opened his bag to show the snakes to the police and asked the officers, who held a safe distance, not to come close. Among the various snakes, hidden in small cloth sacks, were two poisonous cobras, authorities said.

The Egyptian said he had hoped to sell the snakes in Saudi Arabia. Police confiscated the snakes and turned Tulba over to the prosecutor’s office, accusing him of violating export laws and endangering the lives of other passengers.

According to the customs officials, Tulba claimed the snakes are wanted by Saudis who display them in glass jars in shops, keep them as pets or sell them to research centers.

The value of the snakes was not immediately known.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Flying in April to avoid snowstorms? Ummm think again!

I am currently in Seattle where I did some really fun presentations (thanks INETA) at Bellingham.NET and South Sound .NET (in Olympia) on Wednesday and Thursday. (I’ll write about them in a separate post). I put off travel until April so that I could avoid winter travel problems. That didn’t work out so well.

Flying to Seattle on Wednesday through O’Hare proved to be (as usual) quite a problem as Chicago had a big fat snowstorm. When we landed at O’Hare, we had to wait one and a half hours for gate. Then I got off one plane and onto another. They boarded us (huge plane) and then we sat on the runway for 3 and a half hours before taking off for Seattle! Unfortunately, arriving in Seattle over 5 hours late meant that I was unable to drive the 2+ hours to Bellingham. So I boarded a 6:50 flight to  Bellingham and actually started my presentation at 8pm! (That was 11pm my time.) Luckily, Paul Mehner had driven up and did a fabulous two hour talk on Workflow while they waited for me to arrive. So they got 2 hours of that and then 2  hours of LINQ to SQL. A double header. After this, Paul and I drove (well, Paul drove) the 3 hours south to Olympia where he lives and I stayed overnight at his family’s beautiful house on the Sound.

The next night I did my talk at the Souht Sound User Group and then spent the rest of the time with Camey Combs and her family, visiting the very cool Olympia Farmer’s market and being treated to a fabulous home cooked meal. I’d call it a home away from home except they don’t serve food like that in my house! πŸ™‚

Today is my trip home. I fly from Seattle to Washington D.C. and then take a small flight to Burlington. However, Burlington is expecting a major snowstorm tonight – 100% chance, sleet and snow with 5 – 9 inches expected. So I don’t have high hopes of getting home tonight. I have a great back up plan to stay at Andrew Duthie’s however (MSDN Dev. Evangelist in Washington D.C. area) . (All links coming but I’m typing quickly so I can go board my plane.)

So place your bets. Will I get home tonight? Will the little prop plane fly into a big snowstorm and land in burlington at 11pm? Then will I drive another 1/2 hour in the big snowstorm to my house? We’ll see how it goes.