Bad Luck Travel

I think that sometimes its better for me to just stay home… I got sick, got lost, and got stranded at the wrong airport all during my latest trip.

The adage “if it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all” really fits me this week. After spending most of the week (Tuesday through Friday) down in LA for my new job I managed to really rack up the bad luck points. Here are the highlights:

  • The rental car company gave me the wrong directions to my hotel, leading me on a 1 1/2 hour tour of some of the scariest areas of LA
  • Once I got to the hotel, I found they allow pets in some of the rooms. While pets should not have been in my room, the elevators have a distinctive wet dog smell
  • The walls of the room were paper thin, allowing me to hear both the conversations next door and the bathroom visits from across the hall
  • Many of the people I visited with on the trip were seriously sick, as in go to the doctor and stay home with lots of fluid and rest – sick
  • On the last day I must have eaten something that didn’t agree with me because I was up all night with stomach pains, I tossed my cookies, got about 1 hour of sleep, then had to get up at 4:30am to catch my flight home
  • The flight home from LAX to SJC is supposed to be about 55 minutes long. Mine took about 5 1/2 hours. Fog at SJC made us circle for an hour before diverting to Oakland, where American Airlines had to figure out what to do with a plane full of angry folks

So there you have it. That was my week in a nutshell, or at least the really bad parts. I left out the bad customer service stories because they simply couldn’t measure up to the rest of the trip. Better luck next time, I suppose.

One more ski trip in the books

After 3 more days have passed I have now paid off the Heavenly ski pass. Good conditions but a tough last day

I have just returned from another Heavenly ski trip. Now that I’ve been up there more than 6 times the season pass has paid for itself. That is good news. The bad news is that the runs were jam packed with people over the 3 day weekend (since some companies observe MLK day in the US) and many of them were inconsiderate weasels.

In the course of two days I was fully run over by a snowboarder who just said “sorry dude” after tackling me to the ground in a semi yard sale bending my right thumb all out of sorts. Later I would find he severely cut into my skis. That evening I awoke at 1:30am to find the upstairs neighbors rocking out, and after confronting them I again got a “sorry dude” while they continued their noisy gathering until well into 3:00am. At a little after 5:30am one of the cabin mates got up and started making coffee, giving me a grand total of about 2 hours of sleep.

I really need to take a vacation from vacations, I think.

TiVo's Death Nell Near?

Straight from CES 2005: DirecTV intends to compete with and replace the TiVo units they offer with there own DVR solution.

I’m glad I didn’t make it to CES 2005 this year, otherwise I would have to hear this directly: DirecTV is building their own DVR and intends to dump TiVo. Now this isn’t completely new news, but when put together with other comments they made this week (MPEG4 broadcasts for local HD, home media centers) DirecTV seems determined to separate themselves completely from TiVo, and leave us current Direc-TiVo owners high and dry.

TiVo isn’t sitting still, they announced that they are building a new class of stand alone HD TiVo just for cable and that they are partnering with Microsoft to offer a TiVoToGo service for sharing content around the home. They aren’t dead, but they are looking closer to death every day.

Good thing I have friends with access to Windows XP Media Center Edition. That may have to be the next new PVR/DVR for my home… and bring with it a TV regime change away from DirecTV. It won’t be a sudden change, but its got me thinking I need to get a solution together soon. Maybe SBC’s new IPTV solution (working with Microsoft) will save me? Right.

The Tao of Spare Change

Today I converted a years worth of spare change into useful dollars again. But it did cost me.

After procrastinating far too long, I took in a bundle of change to the local Safeway and used one of those change counting machines to convert it back into useful currency. On the way in to the store I probably lost $2 or so, plus another $1+ from the house to the car. Anyway, after what seemed like an eternity (in reality only a few minutes) of noisy shaking and clanking, the machine spit out a receipt that read like this:

Change counted: $242.58. Counting fee: 8.27% Redeemable Value: $222.39

Now I’ll admit that it isn’t fun to take change and make it into dollars, but is a $20 fee on that conversion really necessary? I suppose I’ll never get the satisfaction of asking that question, since no one at Safeway has anything to do with that machine. I do get the satisfaction of knowing that I filled up the coin conversion machine so completely that it warned the next customer that it was full and could not take their change.

In the meantime it looks like I have some walking around money again.

Another Weekend, Another Ski Trip

Mark off two more days of skiing at Tahoe from this season’s books. Well, almost two days.

I spent this past Sunday and Monday up at Heavenly skiing, using up some of those pre-paid season pass days where I can. On Sunday the skiing was pretty good, temperature was in the 20’s, and the lifts weren’t too crowded. There was a base of about 8 feet of new snow since my last trip up, so it was pretty easy to ski.

On Monday everything changed, however. The temps dropped into the 10’s, visibility went to nearly zero, and the few people on the runs we saw were having a tough time keeping upright, thanks to high winds and no ability to see. The day was cut short due to the weather, but on the way down I found the California side of the mountain to be nearly clear of fog and wind. Wish I’d been on this side of the mountain all day!

New Look for a New Year

After much pain and suffering a new, faster loading and cleaner layout for the web site is live. Too bad IE sucks when viewing it.

I didn’t know if it was going to happen there for a bit, but I’ve managed to pull together a cleaner, faster loading look for the site without too many personal headaches. You should find everything running quite a bit faster now as I eliminated a large chunk of the graphic files that had to be loaded each time the pages were built.

The downside of all of this is that the new layout is even less IE friendly than the one before it. IE just seems to suck at dealing with standards, and this site is using more and more of the CSS and XML layout goodness so that I can continue to support it over the long haul. That means if you are viewing this site with IE it will probably (no, definitely) not look right. I recommend you go get Firefox and try it. It is far faster and more standards compliant (not to mention newer) than IE.

Movies: The Aviator

It was a surprisingly good film with Leonardo redeeming himself in this biopic role as Howard Hughes. Recommended.

I saw The Aviator recently and I walked away impressed. I was pretty confident in its accuracy thanks to a recent interview of the director, Martin Scorsese, and I wasn’t disappointed. What I was afraid of was Leonardo DiCaprio and his seemingly impossible task to act like a real person. He surprised me with a good, one would almost say moving, performance as a prolific and later delusional Hughes. Kate Blanchett does a fantastically good job as Katharine Hepburn and Kate Beckinsale does as well as Eva Gardner. They both help move the story along while remaining true to their characters and being easy on the eyes.

It’s an accurate portrail of Hughes’ life and a good movie matinee for rainy days. I call it highly recommended.