kespernorth: (Default)
Well, we made it. Eventually. The flight was delayed two hours getting out of Paris for no good reason that we could discern, but I'm sitting here and looking out the window at the placid blue waters of the Meditteranean. We finally got in at 2 AM local time, were at the hotel by 3, and now it's 9:47 AM, so I'm still more than a little fried, but... here we are.

The hotel wants twenty bucks a day for internets, so I won't be checking in much. But we're alive, we're here, and by any and all possible gods we're going to salvage a vacation out of this yet.

I hope those of you in Seattle are surviving in the face of the chilly doom.

paris

Nov. 30th, 2006 06:43 am
kespernorth: (Default)
Posting from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. The tubes are very clogged here, so I'll make this short. We flew all night and go to the Louvre at about 7:30 local time in a fog so thick we couldn't hardly even see the end of the wing. As in, the only way we knew we were near the ground was when the tires hit the pavement.

We had about ten hours to kill, so Allyson and I decided to take the train into the city. We ate lunch at the Louvre and wandered through the Egyptian Antiquities wing before making a pilgrimage to see the Mona Lisa. The Louvre is vast, and I found the architecture almost more eye-catching than the artwork.

After that we sat on a bench on the banks of the Seine for about half an hour (1 Seine == .5 Thames in width) and watched the riverboats go by before deciding that we were exhausted (we last slept when?) and wanted to just go back to the airport and park ourselves until our flight goes.

Which is what we're doing right now.

On the upside, the strike in Israel is over, so by midnight central Europeam time tonight we should hopefully be landing in Tel Aviv, and we can get some sleep.
kespernorth: (Default)
We have the best luck and the worst luck imaginable.

So an ice storm hit Seattle the night before we were due to leave Seattle. We got up at 5 AM and started calling cab companies and found that none of the buses or cabs were running. But luckily, my parents were willing to get up before dawn and drive across the bridges to take us to the airport. We made it to the airport an hour and ten minutes before departure... and then saw the vast line winding through the terminal. Probably a couple of thousand people in it. Probably about a two hour wait. But luckily Continental sent a ticket agent out to comb through the line and sneak us around to the special security line, which whisked us right past those thousands of poor bastards and out to the gate. We hopped on the plane to Newark, crossed the country (I watched Lady in the Water), landed and settled in to wait out the 7-hour layover to Tel Aviv.

And then the Israeli public sector workers' union went on strike and all land, air, and sea borders were closed.

Our flight was cancelled. The airline put us up in a hotel and booked everyone on later flights. A lot of people had to wait around till Thursday or Friday, but luckily we were two of the fourteen people who got booked on the very next flight to Tel Aviv at 3:50 EST the next day (today). We figured this out while everyone else was still flailing around uncertainly and even got to refine our seat assignments. We finally got to the hotel at 2 AM and collapsed for eight hours before returning to the airport. We waited in lines and were bored. Finally it was announced that the strike was still ongoing and all flights to Israel had been canceled for the foreseeable future.

At that point, our hopes for salvaging anything at all from this vacation collapsed.

But when I called Continental Reservations to arrange a refund and a flight back to Seattle, I managed to get the airline to try sending us to Tel Aviv through Paris on Air France, as Air France hadn't cancelled their flights yet and they have a codeshare agreement with Continental. So now we're boarding a 777-200ER for Paris in about twenty minutes.

I sure wasn't planning to go to Paris when I got up this morning, but, hey, what the hell. If we still can't get a flight to Israel we'll probably just spend a few days in France before going home. After all, it's better than being stuck in Jersey.

The thing is, awful as this sounds, we were the lucky ones in all this. We got hustled past the 2000 person line, we got to the airport safely, we got seats on the very next flight (hey, sure, it was cancelled but it's the thought that counts) and each time stuff went wrong we while we launched into action and got our flights figured out or improved our seat assignments or made alternate arrangements to go through Paris or whatever while everyone else was still flipping out at the gate agents. Sure, it's fucked our vacation up beyond recognition, but we're so much better off than the rest of these poor people it's not even funny.

Unfortunately, Allyson is horribly sick and losing her voice. I'm still waiting for a "fortunately" on that one. Universe make Ally better plz.
kespernorth: (Default)
It has been a somewhat busy weekend. Yesterday we cleaned the condo, or at least a sizeable portion of it, which took us most of the day until we met [livejournal.com profile] sapphyre_dragon at Dillettante's, then went to my friend Bo's housewarming party.

Today we had brunch at Co Co La Ti Da before I dropped Allyson off in Ballard for a cooking class and I went to (try to) pick up a big four-drawer filing cabinet and get our regulators serviced prior to our trip to Israel in nine days. The filing cabinet wouldn't fit in the car, but [livejournal.com profile] fallenpegasus has very kindly volunteered to take me out there in his SUV to pick it up once he arrives back in Seattle this evening. He doesn't know it yet but he's got dinner coming in return.

Work has been a bit frustrating -- a lot of people have been out sick and it's impeded my ability to get things done (to say nothing of my being sick lately as well). I've also been stymied by a lot of technical problems lately that I haven't been able to solve, or haven't been able to solve as quickly as I'd like, which has left me feeling a bit less confident about my abilities in that area.

We've been looking for new office space, and as I'm on the selection committee I've been spending some time going to each of the different properties we're considering and poking about. I enjoy this immensely because it's got all the fun parts of shopping for a house -- looking at various spaces, imagining what they'd be like to live/work in -- and none of the lame parts, like dealing with paperwork or worrying about the mortgage. We're still looking to stay in Pioneer Square or the southern end of downtown. I'm hoping that we'll end up in a labyrinthine, high-ceilinged space on the top floor of a converted warehouse at Madison Street and Western Ave (likelihood of Bjorn not having to share an office: high), but it's more likely that we'll go for something on the sixth floor of the Dexter Horton building at Second and Cherry (likelihood of Bjorn having to share an office, or worse yet ending up in a $%!$#!@#!#@! cubicle: high). But each space has things to commend it, and I have little reason to complain.

I am very much looking forward to our trip to the Middle East. I always find that the best therapy for anything is to get away from everything you know and visit a place you've never been. I've been having trouble getting motivated lately -- worse than usual -- and I think the break will help.

I'm also finishing the outstanding tasks required to do my thesis and finally finish my graduate degree at UW next quarter. I need to do the final push to get all that done before we leave a week from Tuesday.

So that's what's up with me. It has been entirely too long since I have seen many of you; we should change that some time, shouldn't we?
kespernorth: (happy irken logo)
The company is sending my team (read: me and one other guy) on an all-expenses-paid trip to ApacheCon US 2006 in glamorous Austin, Texas. I'll be leaving on October 8 at 10:45AM and returning at 11:45 PM on Friday the 13th (heh), on a Frontier Airlines Airbus A319, connecting through Denver International.

(don't worry, [livejournal.com profile] chemicallace: I'm not going to make you take me to and from the airport at those hours :) )

This is fantastic news for me, because it means that I'll get to network, meet more folk in the open source community, and go to lots of workshops and tutorials to expand my skills. I'm very excited about this.
kespernorth: (Default)
A couple of weekends ago, Allyson's old friend Justin came to visit, and we took him up to Vancouver for a highly enjoyable weekend of food, drinks and sightseeing.

We managed to sidestep a half-mile-long line at the border by skipping over to the truck crossing when we reached Blaine, where there was a much shorter ten-car wait. Upon arriving in Vancouver we checked into a Hostelling International hostel on Granville Street (which was LOUD, but as we were on the third floor and facing away from the street it was much quieter in our room). Settled in, we headed off to a bar that had good food and music; I also discovered that I actually like Lagavulin; strange since to date I have not enjoyed any of the whiskey-type alcohols I have tried.

The next day, we went to the Vancouver Aquarium at Stanley Park, and Allyson and I took pictures of the sea lion that made the *boomf* noises that amused us so during our last visit to that city:

boomf-type creature! )

Allyson has suggested a certain resemblance between myself and the sea lion species, a suggestion I find somewhat difficult to disagree with.

After the Aquarium, we enjoyed lunch at the Granville Market, suffered the ignorance of otherwise pleasant shopkeepers ("There's a war in Israel?") and eventually went back to the hostel for a pleasant nap and spree of internet-usage.

That evening we went out for a night on the town. We greatly enjoyed an Asian restaurant that served tapas (tapas appear to be big in Vancouver) and managed to make everything quite delicious. Unfortunately, the name escapes me at the moment, but I recommend it quite highly.

Plans to hit the Sin City goth club night were changed by a certain degree of apathy on our parts, but we dressed up a bit prior to going out anyway. I thought this picture of Allyson was lovely:

Allyson looking gorgeous, and the Tarantinoesque visage of Justin )

We decided to try a wine bar in Gastown that sounded interesting, but we were disappointed to discover that it had been closed for about two years. We wandered around Gastown for a time looking for somewhere else to enjoy drinks and conversation, and eventually decided to honor the hobbit habit of Second Dinner, and decided to enjoy some sushi and a surfeit of steamed soybeans over another series of drinks. Justin took great delight in the ritual exclamations in Japanese exchanged by members of the waitstaff, which in turn appeared to amuse them highly.

As the night grew long and our drinks multiplied, I got a call from [livejournal.com profile] leiden saying that he, [livejournal.com profile] inevitability and others were at a jazz club on the other side of town, and suggested that we join them. Unfortunately we were already in a somewhat unwieldy inebriated state and did not feel able to make the journey, so we finished our evening and returned to the hostel to sleep.

The next day we visited the H.R. MacMillan Space Center, which is housed in a really neat-looking retro-futurist building, the sort that looks like a mushroom as designed by Apple Computers. We watched an embarrassingly bad science film on the possibility of alien life and wandered around the exhibits for a time. One thing that was at once pleasing and saddening was how quick and helpful the staff of the Space Center were -- pleasing, since it made the experience a good one, but saddening, because it really suggested that they don't get very many visitors. Its halls were fairly empty, and I for one had never even heard of it before that weekend, for all that I have visited Vancouver regularly all my life, and my passion for all things astronautical is well-known.

We whiled away a few more hours in Vancouver shopping before leaving Justin as he would be staying on in Vancouver, having enjoyed our time in the city. The words "Why couldn't we live here instead of Seattle?" were often said, the answer of course being that our patience with the institution of socialism is highly limited.

All and all, a highly enjoyable and much-needed weekend away.

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Kesper North

February 2011

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