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Friday, February 08, 2008

Home... again

Just a short note for the moment... just got in, about 9pm CST after a bumpy but eventless flight. We left directly from the client office to the airport, so I didn't have time to update the site.

An intense couple of days: 2 day workshop, 8 hours each day. I captured 13 pages of data on process, technology, and publishing. After the formal "day" on Wednesday, our team would meet, have dinner, and then do work from these meetings to prepare for the next day. I ended up having to install an open-source content management system on my pc and did a demo today. I am very sleepy.

So I haven't eaten since 12pm EST, so I am ravenous. Burger Bar was just called and we're gonna go pick up and eat. This weekend I will post a handful of pictures and write more about the trip. Hang in!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Travel sometimes begets drama. For example, I did not expect when I woke up this morning that the following things would happen: Vikas didn't make our flight, I would be on an extremely tiny plane, and that as a result of turbulent weather, I would watch a man barf after we landed.

It's been a day. Worked most of the morning getting things ready, then went to the airport with Vikas. We had a leisurely lunch then went to the gate. As we arrived, the announcer people were explaining that they had overbooked the flight and due to weight restrictions needed to eject some people (after trying to bribe some volunteers with $250 and a next morning flight). Vikas was one of 7 people randomly selected to be denied boarding. So I went on without him, and he started looking for another flight.

The plane was tiny. 3 seats across, 18 rows. "EMB" is the plane type. Extremely Miniature Boeng, I thought. I could have reached from left to right of the plane if I lay on the floor. Tiny! Which meant a lot of turbulence. Going up it was like being on a roller coaster. The flight itself was smooth and we arrived fairly quickly because we had a tailwind behind us. Supposed to be 2:15 flight time and it took around 1:45. Up then down. The landing was pretty rough -- not as rough as the landing in Seattle last year for the windstorm, but because of the smallness of the plane it was a little more intense. I really felt like I was the plane rather than I was in the plane. I wasn't so worried except the last couple of seconds as we were hovering over the runway and the plane rolled pretty dramatically from wind. The pilot handled it fine and we didn't even bump hard.

As I was leaving the restroom, I watched a guy who was on the plane walk in and approach the trash can. He was beet red and he barfed pretty dramatically. Guess the flight didn't sit too well with him. He looked fine a few minutes later at the baggage claim.

Picked up a car at Thrifty about 10 minutes later (the car is a convertible, although it's not going to get much use this snowy, windy, cold couple of days). The drive to the hotel was about 40 minutes, and my internal GPS failed me -- a rare occasion. I partially blame Google Maps for having 3 of the roads and exits wrong. But I turned the wrong direction 3 times. I was able to undo it quickly, but still, my pride is a little wounded. It was dark out, never been here before, google maps told me to go West and meant East. So, still. My GPS rocks.

Checked in to the hotel and met Mike in the lobby (he's our sales minion). Doubletree gives you a warm cookie on arrival. This would have been perfect because it's cold and wet outside, except when I went out to move the car to a parking spot, I dropped the little cookie bag onto the pavement and it rolled out. 5 second rule doesn't apply when it's wet, so I chalked it up to the universe telling me I didn't need the extra calories anyway. /cry

Mike and I had dinner, talked about work, then he went off to a conference call. I went to my room and took pictures of it -- I think the square footage of the room is bigger than the plane I was on. So now just relaxing. Vikas just called and he arrived and we are going to meet when he gets to the hotel. I am about to review documentation for tomorrow and figure out what I am going to capture from the analysis.

So that's it! The day starts early so I will check in later in the afternoon. I want to see comments about the space shuttle - so watch for it!!

Cincinnati Snow

So a lot of people have asked how Cincinnati went. I guess we are all busy because it hasn't yet. I leave for the airport in a couple of hours to head out that way. Subscribe via RSS, below! You will be notified when I post!

The last few days have been a blitzkreig of preparation for this event. On top of that I have spent a lot of time working on several projects at once. It' not so bad, actually. Keeping busy is good for me, but finding the right level where it's not hands-on-my-head stress is the challeng. So far, no 'home-alone' moments. The work level is just about right.

I'll be arriving in Cincinnati tonight about 6pm with my compadre Vikas, who is a great system guy. Snow and rain is expected as we land. I'm renting a car. I've never driven in snow/slush. Hilarity is sure to ensue. However, I am banking on the fact that it's been warmer there and the ground is not so frozen. Plus they are in the north, so they are prepared for these things. The drive is about 30 miles from the airport.

The trip is going to be very quick, so probably not a lot of excursions into Cincinnati proper. I'll have Vikas take pictures as we pass through, and I'll try to find things to write about that you all find so inexplicably interesting/funny.

For the plane ride I'll be reading workflow diagrams (fascinating!) or Al Gore's 'Assault on Reason', which I am in the middle of. Pretty fascinating, for real. He has an interesting perspective on a lot of the political issues going on in our age, with a lot of analysis, history, and context I totally didn't think about. I've been more active in this latest political campaign than I ever have been, and there's an explainable reason why, interestingly. You'll have to read the book to find out why though. Neither of the candidates I've contacted have a solid space policy yet. Irritated, but is to be expected. For late evening cool down, I'll be watching episodes of Battlestar Galactica, lent by my brother on DVD. Good show!

Speaking of space. Space shuttle Atlantis lifts off tomorrow - don't forget to tune in. I'll be in a workshop, so will miss it... booo!!! So, watch for me and post some comments about what you thought. I have to add in my little bit of 2009 NASA budget proselytizing:
WASHINGTON - NASA announced a $17.6 billion budget for fiscal year 2009 to continue exploring the solar system, building the International Space Station, studying Earth from space and conducting aeronautics research. NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale said the increase [of about 1.2 billion] for NASA's 2009 budget demonstrates President Bush's commitment to the agency's missions. With the increase, NASA still accounts for less than 1 percent of the federal budget. The NASA budget includes $5.78 billion for the space shuttle and space station programs, $4.44 billion for science, $3.5 billion for development of new manned spacecraft systems and $447 million for aeronautics research.

Think of how much more we could do with technology and innovation if we spent 2% of the budget - about $120 per YEAR per American, via taxes (we currently spend about $60 a year). That's not even a month's worth of gas for most people. Grrr.

OK. I gotta go. Lots to do, travel, blah blah blah. See you in Cincinnati tonight.