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Started: 2005-05-17 21:14:00

Submitted: 2005-05-17 22:21:00

Visibility: World-readable

36,000 feet somewhere above western Illinois or eastern Iowa, United flight 943, seat two-three-alpha. Boeing 757, variation and tail number unknown.

I'm not really sure this is going to work, but I'll give it a shot. The problem is that, even with my seat back as far as it'll go (which, given that I'm in coach, isn't much), and the notebook I'm using crammed into my stomach, I still can't put the screen up all the way or position my hands the way I'd assert is optimal.

When I set out on this trip, the option presented itself to use the Official Travel Notebook, only recently replaced as the sole computer of our accountant (who calls himself the "Assistant Controller", whatever that means), or Illyria. The Official Travel Notebook won because it had a working install of Microsoft Office (which I deemed optimal given my intention to start training with a presentation overviewing the XY system), a newly-replaced battery, and a sexy carrying case that I used as my sole carry-on bag. (Having used said sexy carrying case as my sole carry-on bag for one trip, though, I've concluded that my usage was sub-optimal since I managed to loose an important piece of hardware. See the following paragraph.) Had I brought Illyria instead, I suspect I would have had an easier time fitting her on my lap right now, but given the length of this changelog that doesn't appear to have been an important issue.

(I'm also becoming attached to the hibernate (suspend-to-disk) feature. I need to get it working on Illyria.)

At least I can see the screen, which makes sense since it's only thirty centimeters from my nose, where my unaided vision still is able to focus with reasonable accuracy. The CRT hanging from the ceiling three rows ahead of me is a moving blur.

The problem is that I managed to loose my glasses somewhere in Ohio. The last conscious memory I have involving my glasses is carrying them down from the cleanroom storage closet, where I parked my stuff this morning, to Hugh's office. After that I packed a box to ship back to iTi (trying to explain to the federalized rent-a-cops exactly what an industrial-strength piezo-electric ink jet print head is doing in my luggage, carry-on or checked, wasn't high on my list of things to do), double-checked the best way to get from Kent to Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport, went down to the seminar room I had reserved for my use, went upstairs to microwave my old coffee, spent half an hour staring at the Official Travel Notebook writing the first few paragraphs of what will eventually become my trip report, decided I should wander off towards the airport, drove on I-480 through early rush-hour traffic on the southern outskirts of Cleveland, bought expensive gas to fill my rental car (a blue 2005 Volkswagen Passat, complete with the super-cool switch-key), checked in my rental and trying to convince the guy who checked me in that the scratches on the trunk were there when I picked up the car even though they didn't make it onto the sheet (oops), and boarded the shuttle bus where I realized I didn't have my glasses case with my regular glasses. I frisked my luggage (making sure to stick pocket-sized Swiss Army weapon of mass destruction in my suitcase) and failed to find anything. I checked in at the automated check-in counter, thought about tapping "modify my itinerary" when it asked (there was an earlier flight to Chicago I wanted to take but couldn't because the connecting flight to Denver was full), and headed back to the satellite rental facility. The guy behind the counter pushed-to-talk (on a Nextel phone; I'm having trouble envisioning that it's cheaper or more reliable than a set of walkie-talkies) to the people managing the cars themselves, who frisked the car and located a phone charger and some mail apparently left by a previous occupant, but located no trace of my glasses.

On my way back to the terminal, I called Hugh and asked him to look for my glasses. After successfully passing security (which works better when I take absolutely everything out of my pockets), I voicemailed Kiesa, who (upon returning from work; it was about 1830 EDT, or 1630 MDT) undertook to locate my previous glasses, which she found in the King's basement. (Retrieving the remainder of our stuff from their basement (where it moved almost a year ago from my parents' basement), cataloging it, and organizing the boxes currently in my basement have been on my "really good idea" list of Obnoxious House Chores for the past ... four months.) She then drove to DIA, located Yoda in the parking lot (I offered to give her the GPS coordinates I captured when I parked so she could plug them into Google Maps' satellite feature, but she was already underway; bug me later and I'll post a comment with the link), and left them for me so I could actually drive home.

(For some reason, I decided to use my passport as my Approved Government-Issued Photo Identification (TM), probably in response to RealID (#include <party-line.h>), although I'm not really sure why this made sense to me because it's issued by the Department of State, whose secretary holds a cabinet-level position (and is, in fact, fourth in line to succeed the president). My passport is federally-issued identification, although it's not really a national ID card. Hmm.)

So far, the remainder of my trip home has been uneventful. I flew a Canadair Regional Jet (tail number N744SK, seat one-three-alpha; the aircraft was configured in two classes, which I hadn't previously seen on a regional jet) from Cleveland to Chicago-O'Hare, hiked what felt like several kilometers from the very end of Concourse F to the furthest end of Concourse C and waited an hour for my connecting flight. I spent much of the time after loosing my glasses brooding about doing so and desperately trying to figure out what to do about it. (It wasn't until I reached O'Hare's gate charlie-two-three that I learned that Kiesa had successfully located my old glasses, meaning I actually had a viable contingency plan.) When I wasn't brooding, I finished reading The Peace War by Vernor Vinge (I started reading it on the flight out on Sunday), which was a very good book, which made me wonder why I hadn't read it before. (It is also the very first time I've seen the phrase "n*log(n)" in fiction. I guess that's what sci-fi authors with PhD's in mathematics write.) The most amusing part was reading Vinge's prophesy, from 1984, that George Lucas would direct The Lord of the Rings; I literally laughed out loud when I read that.

(2256 CDT: Turbulence. Ick.)

A few quick notes from my trip:

  • While entering the terminal at Cleveland-Hopkins, I spotted a TSA screener camped out above a trash can/ash tray smoking while reading a well-worn paperback edition of Dune Messiah.
  • An elderly woman who required a wheelchair to board and disembark the plane sat in seat one-alpha on my flight to O'Hare. Normally one uses the stairs built into the main hatch to board CRJs; at Hopkins, we boarded using a mobile ramp designed specifically for that purpose (which I hadn't previously seen but jumped at the opportunity to photographically document), and at O'Hare we pulled up to a jetway that had an end-of-ramp plate that provided an almost-seamless interface to the CRJ's main hatch. (We boarded the aircraft at Hopkins by walking through a jetway (gate charlie-three) and descending onto the tarmac on a stair car normally used for boarding larger jets from the tarmac.)
  • While descending into Chicago I spotted Midway Airport, with its distinctive (at least to one who spent much of the past week staring at satellite photos of airports on Google Maps and FAA airport diagrams thanks to The Great Circle Mapper) cross-hatched runways. Ten or twenty kilometers west (it's hard to properly judge distances while flying), just before we performed a u-turn for our final approach on runway two-seven-lima, I spotted what looked like a large circle, almost perfectly round, maybe two kilometers in diameter, attached to a smaller circle to the west.

Tomorrow I get to show up at the office for four hours (or less, most likely) before heading off to Lincoln for Megafest 4.1. I have a special video presentation ready for my arrival, which should be exciting for all who have the privilege to see it. (It'll also be available right here, on this very website, after the World Premier tomorrow night.)