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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Old Passport

2005, time for a new passport. I did a pretty good job of filling up my old book with some extended travels in 2001, multiple work trips, and of course around six or seven trips to New Zealand. I forgot to scan the old book before I sent it off for a renewal, but luckily they returned the whole thing with a giant “CANCELLED” stamp in the front. I wanted to save pictures of it for posterity, and there are some cool stamps in there.

Now I have to fill up the new double-sized book (48 pages!) I got within the next ten years.

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Stockholm Photos

On this trip for work I got a chance to visit Sweden for the first time. I flew in early Sunday morning and had an opportunity to wander around the capital city, Stockholm. Beautiful place, very relaxed. I haven’t taken a tremendous number of photos because I didn’t want to duplicate the standard postcard shots that you can find in any travel book, but a few things caught my eye which I thought were interesting enough to share.


(Please excuse the glaring new blue background for my re-instated Gallery site, I need to work on making it look a little more like my blog at some point here)

Tonight I’m flying back to London to give a presentation at the InfoSecurity conference tomorrow morning and then working there the rest of the week. With a number of friends and acquaintances in the city I hope to have at least a couple of good adventures.

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Northern Lights

On a plane flying to London right now. It was a hectic week trying to get everything ready before I took off, so I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep last night. My plan was to force myself to stay awake through the remainder of the day, set my watch to GMT when we flew out, and then try to catch the early sunset to start getting my body on a somewhat local rhythm.

Unfortunately my plan didn’t account for our flight plan taking us over the northern tip of Greenland and fairly near the arctic circle. Here it is 3am adjusted local time and the sun is finally going down, and of course I’m just not that tired. We’re arriving about 6:30am on Saturday morning and I’m tubing over to one of my best friends’ flats for the weekend. Should be interesting to see how human I am. Oh well, he’s taken care of me when I’ve gotten deathly ill when visiting him in random countries before, so this should be a breeze.

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(Delayed) Praise for JetBlue

At the end of my last day in New York I was coming out of a meeting and I got to see something I have wanted to see in Manhattan for a long time; it had just started to snow. I thought would enjoy this new event (for me) by walking a few blocks to visit an old friend of mine for a drink before I headed to the airport.

Let me just say right now, snow in New York sucks. Walking through snow in New York sucks more. Walking through snow in New York, in a suit, dragging a roller bag behind you sucks even more! It didn’t take long to realize that the building-channeled winds did everything in their power to drive snow flakes right in to your eyes, and that the sidewalks and metal grates in the city very quickly become wet/icy/slick death traps for anyone not wearing full-on hiking boots. After meeting my friend I tried to catch a cab out to the airport, but all the drivers were of course occupied or being complete assholes about taking someone all the way out to JFK in the snow (I know, I know, I should have gotten their number). I ended up walking another number of blocks to Grand Central to hop the airport bus out. By the time we got to JFK there was a pretty blanket of white on the ground, although I didn’t realize how much pain that was going to cause us trying to get in to the air.

Long story short, we were delayed about half an hour waiting for a connecting flight to come in, then queued up for de-icing. After being blasted by the little guys in their hilarious high-pressure cherry pickers we got in the queue for the runway. Just before we got clearance our pilot came out to examine the wings and decided we’d been on line for too long and we needed to get de-iced again…which meant we also needed to get more fuel. So we ended up heading all the way back to the gate we had left more than an hour ago! Total delay getting out of JFK was something like five hours…followed by a five hour flight home.

But, if I had to get stuck on the tarmac for so long, I’m glad it was on JetBlue. Their in-seat TV service was a pretty good distraction and the flight crew was nothing but nice the whole time. By the time we got in the air they announced we would all be getting a small travel voucher as appreciation for our patience. And, overall, I’m happy they chose to be safe rather than eager. I’m very happy with JetBlue for cross-country flights, and they will probably be seeing a lot more of my business considering that United has added a $200 premium on top of what should be a $300 fare, just because they put power outlets at each seat and now call the SFO-JFK flight “Premium Class”.

One thing I find interesting about JetBlue though is that they don’t offer any kind of alcohol on their flights. Is this because of accounting issues, cost cutting, or is it perhaps their CEO is Mormon? Hmmmm…..

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New York Snow

Last week I spent a couple of days in New York City for work. I use the term “days” loosely because it was more like 56 hours of non-stop go-go-go. I was lucky enough to be there during the very limited engagement for Christo’s The Gates project strewn all throughout Central Park. I’ve of course heard over peoples opinions through various news reports and blogs and what not, but I wasn’t prepared to take in the fact that IT COVERS THE WHOLE DAMN PARK. That feat of logistics alone made it interesting to my inner geek! As “art” the project is of course interesting and I’m sure there are plenty of sub-texts that I would gloss over if I tried to write anything about its “meaning” or “purpose”. What I will say interested me however is the unexpected attitude of everyone who was there enjoying the display at the same time as me.

As I walked over to the south end of the park from my hotel around 8am on a Thursday morning, the sky was crystal clear but the winds blowing down the concrete canyons of Manhattan were bitingly cold. As soon as I got to the perimeter of the park, the open spaces let the winds abate and I was able to concentrate on the structures themselves and taking a few pictures without wondering why I couldn’t feel my ears anymore. Wandering around and clicking a few snapshots I was greeted with a smile and a kind word by almost everyone I met. This is a first for for me anywhere in New York City. I though maybe these were all tourists come to see the latest pop installation. But there were too many friendly people for them to all be tourists, and there were definitely a number of people too well dressed to be from out of town. What was it that was making so many New Yorkers act so friendly this early in the morning. Maybe it was excitement about seeing new life and color in a city that has had a very difficult few years. Maybe it was pleasure at again being on the forefront of modern art (especially with the recent re-opening of the famed MOMA). Or maybe it was simply an overload of orange color? Whatever it was, any amount of time spent within the living display was worth it for the general good vibe alone.

I’ve linked to a few pictures I took and a very wide panoramic below

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Tiring Travel

I’m finally flying home after a record three-week trip for work. Due to a conflagration of various meetings I had to be on the East Coast for the majority of November. I was in Atlanta during Election week for a meeting of the Mail Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG), went to DC the next week for a summit on email authentication at the Federal Trade Commission (and to poke my head in on the IETF meeting), and then returned to Atlanta for the INBOX Email conference (didn’t even get a chance to attend Usenix’s LISA, also in Atlanta). You might say that November saw a perfect storm of meetings.

Being comfortable with extended travel ever since I was a kid, I thought that it might be easier/cheaper/more fun to just combine these all in to one mega-trip, booked a round-trip in and out of Atlanta three weeks apart, and made plans to visit friends and bring Alexis out for a weekend in DC. I was mostly wrong on all three counts.

It seems as I’ve moved to the next phases in life, being at home has become more important to me. Back in college I could never fathom the idea of taking a week of vacation from work and just staying home; now I somewhat relish the concept. I like traveling to and seeing interesting new places, but most of the business travel I’m doing these days is to places which are neither interesting nor new.

Its definitely not all bad. I’ve been seeing a lot of old friends who moved far away, getting to explore different parts of the country with my wife and with others, but in general I think I’m going to make an effort to turn my US business trips in to tactical strikes on meetings instead of longer planned stays. Contrasting my mod after this trip with an even longer six week period this summer where I was somewhere different every week, I was much happier when I was home each weekend and away from it three nights or less a week.

This is just a shift in priorities. Having dinner with a friend and ex-coworker from our Professional Services group the other night he expressed the same change in sentiment, adding, “when I was 22 at a much larger consulting firm, I abused [long road trips].” Exploration on the companies dime was just a much more interesting prospect before we built nests for ourselves at home with house, families, and friends.

I’m not complaining (about anything beyond this extendedness of this trip), but its an interesting lesson learned. Time to write a little bit about the highlights now!

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Photographias del Nueva York

More…

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I’m on a JetBlue flight from OAK to JFK right now and just noticed a flyer in their collateral tray that said they are now offering free WiFi connectivity at their locations in JFK’s Terminal 6 and Long Beach airport. Good to know for the flight home!

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It seems like most of the time when I’m flying back from Seattle, the lines at the airport are always really, really, really long. Today I got here at my usual less-than-one-hour-before time and figured I just would be standing in a snaking line, waiting for someone to come by and fish the overdue people like me out. Just as I got in line for the newly combined B/C Terminal security (remodeling), I noticed a tiny sign that said “Handicapped/Airline Club Members Only”.

Since I had my Southwest Rapid Rewards card on me (rare, lucky occurrence) and I had already checked in and printed out my boarding pass before I left for the airport (!?!) I was able to go through an much shorter line that no-one else seemed to know about. Woo-hoo!

I think they accepted frequent flyer cards from a number of other programs, so I’m definitely going to go home and load up all of my program memberships in to some sort of travel companion!

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Seattle then New York

Busy travel schedule coming up. Tomorrow night I’m heading up to Seattle for some work and then a bachelor party for my best man, Rob. Sunday I come back to the Bay and then Monday I fly to New York City for a week of work meetings. This will be the first time I’ve been there since 2000 and am really looking forward to it!

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