In Hazy Burlington

Our last day in Calgary — yesterday — was filled mostly by me repacking all of our bags so we could fly out, and then the actual travel here to Burlington, Ontario. We’re here to visit with family (today is Alex’s family reunion) before we leave for Costa Rica.
Or face the long-distance wrath of scorned relations…
Continue reading “In Hazy Burlington”

Privatize Calgary Transit

I was recently out in the United Kingdom on vacation. If you know my travel habits, you know I rarely stay in one place for long — I like to move around. (Yes, this often fuels or is fueled by my mild obsession with trains.) It means that I often pay close attention to public transit, and how it operates.
While we were in York, a thought suddenly hit me. I’m sure I’d seen this elsewhere, but it hadn’t really registered. The buses weren’t run by York Transit, or Transit Yorkshire, or anything directly related to the city/region government. The buses were privatized through FirstGroup PLC.
And suddenly I thought: Why couldn’t Calgary do the same?
Continue reading “Privatize Calgary Transit”

Ah, snow, my old friend

Late arriving in San Francisco, no thanks to an incoming snowstorm in Calgary. The deicing truck broke down mid-hose, and we had to wait 30 minutes for another one. But it gave me more time to have an interesting chat with my seatmate, who works for Wind River. Software, not the outdoors stuff.
The flight was pretty good — drinks were actually free! Nothing to eat, though. Not even pretzels. Watched Golden Compass. Did some post-vacation photo editing. Both toilets on the train broke down 30 minutes before we landed.
Just waiting for the BART to leave the station. Won’t likely see the guys tonight, though.

A Middle Ontario wedding

My friend Kathryn got married this weekend. A truly wonderful event that forced my hand to leave the comfort of my familiar Cowtown (and miss the opening of the Calgary Stampede) to visit rural Ontario and experience the joyous event.
I gotta say, probably the most relaxful weekend I’ve had in … well, a really long time.
Continue reading “A Middle Ontario wedding”

Air Canada Sucks

Yes, I know I’ve ranted about Air Canada and their lousy service few times before (see [[Christmas in Oakville, New Years Eve in Calgary]], [[Christmas with my Family in Oakville, Cathy Gets Engaged]], [[Canadian airlines need some common sense]], among several), but just when you’d think they’d start to act better, they slap you in the face again.
Continue reading “Air Canada Sucks”

Je quitte Paris!

The flight left Charles du Gaulle at 11:30. That meant, of course, that I had to be there in sufficient time to check in, get through security, find the flight, and so forth.
Thankfully, I’d gone through the trouble last night of finding the RER station at Chatelet-les-Halles. As is turns out, it’s a weird sort of situation. Chatelet is the Metro station. Les Halles is an ex-market area. Chatelet-les-Halles is a station almost mid-way, pretty much right under my hotel, actually. So there was a fair bit of walking to get there and back. Which was fine, no biggie. It was still cheaper than taking a cab.
Albeit a lot more packed. While my trip in on Monday was blissfully free of people, the train was nearly full leaving Chatelet-les-Halles. When we left Gare du Nord, it was standing room in some places. The only stop after that was the airport. It’s effective public transportation, I’ll give you that! (Canadian airports and cities, please take note!)
No elevators this time to slow me down. Just a really long lineup for Lufthansa. It took nearly 45 minutes to weave my way down to a clerk. I had a bit of a terrific thought as I waited. Technically, my flight is Air Canada. What if I had to go to the Air Canada counter? They’re not even in the same terminal. My only consolation was when I’d verified my flight this morning, the Lufthansa website told me my seat assignment. I could only hope that it also covered my Air Canada seat from Frankfurt to Calgary.
Fears bubbled away as the rather cheery clerk (given the insane volume of people) jokingly suggested that my flight was cancelled and that I had to stay in Paris indefinitely. Admittedly, I was briefly tempted to believe him. But the rest of me quickly kicked in — I wanted to go home. I spent about 1/10th the time at the counter as the previous couple. Bag checked, boarding passes for both flights in-hand, I headed for Satellite 6.
That’s the way Terminal 1 is broken up: a central hub with seven satellite areas for boarding planes. And sadly, that’s about literally all there is at Terminal 1. It’s devoid of almost everything else. It’s probably the dullest terminal I’ve ever had the pleasure of waiting around in for an hour and a half. (I prefer to wait in airport terminals, rather than rushing. Too many variables that could lead to a missed flight.)
I had planned my Euro spending carefully, having only barely enough to pay for a muffin at a small cafe in the waiting lounge. That was fine with me — I didn’t want to go home with extra change. Still, I would have liked a ham and cheese baguette.
Like the train out, the flight out was also full. Although I had an exit row, I was seated next to a woman who clearly did not fit in her chair (or really give her late-teenage son any credit for anything). I think this is partly what led to a rearrangement of seats. She was moved to the front of the plane, and the couple across the aisle were bumped a row up. The staff didn’t say why, but since I was allowed to remain and thinner people were placed in the now-vacant aisle seats next to me, I can only assume it was to ensure that the exit aisles could be cleared quickly.
I passed out from exhaustion moments after the plane left the ground. I awoke only when the attendant happened to rather loudly plunk ice in a plastic cup. I was thankful for this — I got my cheese sandwich on dense German bread and a Coke. That would keep me going until I got my meal on the trans-atlantic flight.
Virtually retracing my steps through Frankfurt to find my next flight (including the 700 metre-long tunnel), I rushed along just in case there was a lot of people at security. Given how heavy the airport traffic was, I didn’t want to risk holding things up. As it stands, I didn’t have to pass through security this time — just passport control. While not the speediest passing through, I was asked no questions. Stamp, done.
Just past passport control was my gate, so I suddenly found myself with almost an hour to kill. Boarding would start soon, but my seat row meant I would be among the last called. Not a big deal, and far more comfortable as I wouldn’t have to listen to a jet engine the entire flight.
My rowmate (I love the outside row — only two seats) was an oil driller from Oman, travelling back to his home around Great Slave Lake or something to visit family. He’d been flying already for about 20 hours. I couldn’t believe that level of stamina. I think I’d lose it after that long, personally. (I want to go to Australia someday, but the flight worries me a little.) He started chatting with me almost barely five minutes after sitting down. So much for a quiet flight.
Actually, that’s not fair. He was an interesting person, having seen a great deal more than I have. And made me feel pretty damned petty about my mere 35 degree woes. Where he worked, it was 55 Celsius, not counting the blowing sand. He slept most of the flight, too, likely due to exhaustion.
The flight was mostly uneventful. Some bouncing around (though we had a nasty approach to Calgary due to strong winds), the movies were there and the food was decent. I plugged away at getting these blog entries caught up. And I slept, even if just a little. While I hadn’t been flying for 20 hours before this one, I was still wiped.
My bag was #155 coming off the carousel at the airport. Typical. Pass through customs, and waited to be picked up. Surprisingly not tired, I fully expect to pass out tonight.

Je suis en Paris!

I’m beginning to understand why people hate business trips. You can’t pack what you want (you have to pack for meetings with clients) and you don’t travel necessarily when you want. But at least the locations can be interesting…
The account I work on now is European. They’ve got a massive global presence and are very good to work with. They tend not to hesitate on monetary decisions (unlike most clients), perferring to get the image just right (and understandably so). So when they said that I needed to be present when they were trained with the new RedDot Content Management System, I wasn’t the least bit surprised when they said I had to fly to Paris.
Yes, that Paris. France.
Continue reading “Je suis en Paris!”

Going through Montreal

Under normal beginning-of-vacation circumstances, I would have risen without too much a care about work and prepared for my imminent departure to wherever it is that I’m going. However, things being what they are, I had to work. From home. The joys and detriments of having laptop, a wireless internet connection, and a phone line.
Fortunately, it wasn’t too much work. In fact, the work was a CMS presentation from Interwoven. All I really had to do was watch the LiveMeeting take place, interject with a few words here and there, and answer a few last emails before logging off and going on my merry little way.
Continue reading “Going through Montreal”

Troubles trying to get home

Travelling is never easy. Especially when my best friend Murphy is along for the ride.
I rose late (catching up with sleep lost the night before), and met up with Craig, Jill, and her daughter Jamie in the concierge level for breakfast. Craig did a short presentation on the tools he has for managing the pay-per-click materials for the Hyatt programme. I hadn’t seen it before, so watched with interest. I realized that like with everything else we have, Craig has a great deal to offer for SEM presentations and theory, and that the two of us really need to get ourselves organized within Critical Mass.
Continue reading “Troubles trying to get home”