July 2012

A never ending place of wonder

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve made it to the departure gate…almost…

I got in line to check my bag in. I’m convinced that traveling for longer than ten days without breaking the 50-pound limit is impossible. All that is in my suitcase is clothes for the week, toothbrush/razor/soap type stuff (ALL travel sized), my travel adapter, a phone charger, a towel, and a precision screwdriver set. I clocked in at 49 pounds. This worries me, because if the 8-kilogram limit on carry-ons to London is accurate, I’m not sure how I’m getting that stuff there and back; it may be an expensive proposition no matter how I slice it :/. Anyway the lady at the baggage check-in was extremely friendly and helpful. While they had a self-checkin area before the baggage line, I assumed it worked like the domestic airlines where those only worked if you had actual tickets; I was using exclusively my passport to check in. As it turns out, the self-checkin kiosks worked for people like me as well. Instead of making me use the kiosk and get back in the line again, she was really nice and checked me in. I got an aisle seat, one of the two last seats on the plane.

Once she had my bag, I proceeded to my favorite part of the airport: the security checkpoint. By “favorite”, I mean “the part that I, like everyone else in this building, enjoys the least”. Now here’s the thing: In practice, I don’t ultimately care. In principle, I absolutely do. As I pulled Tiny out of the bag, three different people checked and told me, “only put one laptop in each bin”. It never, ever gets old to respond with “…I did” to the men and women who man the conveyor belts, because their eyes light up in amazement, which is impressive given that they see thousands of laptops every day. Half out of concern regarding whether I actually wanted another X-ray and half out of principle, I opted for the pat-down instead. The guy was *all* business, when he went over the fact that he was using the backs of his hands as he patted down my posterior, I told him, “dude, It’s all good, I don’t really care, do your thing”, but gave the whole schtick just the same. I otherwise had no issue going through security. Also, I came to a decision: passengers 75 and older can keep their light jackets and shoes on while going through security. I now have plans for my 75th birthday, when I will once again, opt for the pat-down.

I’m convinced that for some reason, Delta has put me in about the furthest gate possible. There is an upside to that: I got to traverse the concourse with purpose; normally I peruse it out of boredom, but I did get to see most of the core bits of it. I saw a currency exchange kiosk and thought that I’d save myself a trip on the flip side of the flight. Given the exhorbitant fees in exchanging the currency in addition to the difference in value…well, let’s just say that the Biblical scene of Jesus flipping the money changer tables in the temple seems all the more justified.

Uncertain what the food situation is going to be on the plane and whether I’ll be awake to have any, I decided to stop at one of the ‘alternative’ food places on the concourse to get some form of holdover. I wondered if it actually constitutes ‘alternative’ if such places heavily outnumber the McDonalds/KFC type places to which these shops are designed to provide an alternative. In any case, I got what amounts to a ‘vegan Mounds bar’, an almond/coconut granola bar, and a bottle of strawberry banana Naked. I’ve learned something. There are people reading this blog who are card carrying chocoholics. There are other people reading this blog who can’t stand the substance. Vegan chocolate will satisfy neither. I’d try to isolate the pseudo-chocolate substance based on the ingredients list, but I couldn’t even tell you what language it’s written in.

As posted before, I forgot my trusty M&Ms pillow at mom’s house. This posed a problem, but I figured that pillows would be among the easiest things to purchase at an airport. I stand corrected. I can either get the neck pillows (i.e. utterly useless), or, I did manage to find a Hello Kitty pillow that actually looked comfortable. I debated to the point of looking at the price tag. I’m not paying $30 for a pillow *and* dealing with the explanations. If Delta sells those craptastic airplane pillows onboard, I’m buying one and doubling up on the Unisom. I *will* fall asleep on the flight!

If you only remember ONE travel tip I provide over the course of this blog and forget all of the others, it is this: pack a power strip in your carry-on. Get one with half a dozen outlets, even if you’re not sporting a laptop. If all you’re bringing is a phone or an iPad, great – forget the charging stations. EVERYONE is all over them, and everyone in a close seat in close proximity is eyeballing them, waiting for one of the present occupants to blink. If there are two people sitting next to each other on a wall, it’s because they’ve found an outlet and are holding it hostage, whether or not they are traveling together. Bring a power strip. If all the outlets at your gate (and the ones next to it) are occupied, you can ask to plug your power strip in, charge your phone, and the people who have already planted their flag on the socket don’t have to give anything up to help you. Conversely, even if you’re the one who has found the magical available wall outlet, plugging in through your power strip is the easiest means of making friends at the airport. The only down side is if you end up with four ‘new friends’ and your flight starts boarding.

Finally, if you’re a Verizon customer wondering what it’s like to be a T-Mobile customer, come to Kennedy airport. I’ve experienced multiple dropped calls, super slow connectivity, and plenty of pings north of 200ms. My T-Mobile phone is intentionally left at mom’s to enable me to text overseas, but I do wonder if the reverse is also true – I’d wager plenty of money that T-Mobile has better throughput here than Verizon, but presently, I’ve got no means of verifying that.

Alright, unless something crazy happens, I hope for my next post to be made from Frankfurt in some form or another. Then again, I am flying DELTA, an acronym for “Doesn’t Ever Leave The Airport” from a frequent flyer whose judgment I trust.







The saga begins

Quick post from the Air Train to Kennedy:

Bad news: Mom’s NAS was out of storage space.
Good news: it now has storage space.

Bad news: I got to the platform to catch the 3:45 train to Jamaica at 3:48.
Good news: the train was eight minuses late.

Bad news: forgot M&M travel pillow at mom’s.
Good news: testing to make sure I get missed call notifications while gone worked. Also, WordPress mobile obviously works.

Til the concourse!

Hello World

I should be either sleeping or packing. Instead, I’m sitting here killing time texting a friend (who incidentally is also awake) and listening to Avril Lavigne remixes on Youtube. Katy Perry may be “Wide Awake”, but me…not so much. So yesterday was “run random errands until I drop day”. I learned a lot about foreign currencies, namely that my bank charges a fee for every transaction I make in Euros or GBP, and I missed the bank that doesn’t charge such fees by approximately 20 minutes. So, pro travel tip, if you’re going to be dealing in foreign currencies and need to deal with bank accounts, make those errands the first legs of your trip, and do it on a weekday. Anyway, once that was done, I got a few new articles of clothing, got some random travel stuff (I’m no germophobe, but I make an exception for airports), visited a client, got some more random stuff (I desperately needed shoelaces for my dress shoes), and headed home. Now I’m avoiding random household prep chores i really should start. Also worth noting to those that know me is that I decided to make two notable and intentional omissions from my packing list. First, I’m leaving my digital SLR camera at home. It’s one more thing to charge, I don’t feel like packing it, and I can’t carry it on me with the more stringent travel requirements of international travel. The second, and possibly more surprising omission, is that I’m also leaving my really nice Denon DJ headphones at home. I bought a cheapie pair of earbuds to accompany me on the trip, and while I’m not looking forward to listening to audio through them rather than through the beautifulness that is audio from my HP-1000 set, I figure that it’s again one less thing for the airlines to hold against me regarding carry-on restrictions if there turns out to be a weight limit.

Before I do that though,  just a few general notes from the outset:

  • This blog work with RSS. If you know what that is, it should be helpful; subscribe at the top. If you don’t know what RSS is, Google it. It’ll be helpful for you too =). Here’s a head start: Windows-running friends, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, and Outlook handle RSS pretty well. If you don’t use any of those, try this program: (http://www.feedreader.com/download). Android phone holders, check this app out: http://tinyurl.com/88ft2el. iPhone owners, Safari does RSS natively.
  • If you want to know when I’m going to post, it’s going to be “when I have the time and inclination”. If I don’t post, it’s probably because I didn’t have either time or inclination.
  • I disabled comments on this blog intentionally. I do welcome feedback; please feel free to e-mail me if you’d like to respond. If you don’t have my e-mail address, text me. If you’ve got neither e-mail address nor my cell number, ask someone who does.
  • Per the previous point, I do still get e-mails, text messages, and missed call notifications while I’m away. I’ll do my best to respond to both while I’m gone, but please keep in mind that there is a six hour time difference so I may not get back to you at a desired time and inversely may get back to you at an undesired time. Additionally, realize that I have full intentions on returning everyone’s communications upon my return, I *am* traveling internationally, and thus maximizing my time while gone is my primary focus. It’s not personal.

And with that, I shall stop procrastinating, finish packing, and deal with those other last minute odds and ends before I go.


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