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Tales from the Gryphon

Blog postings related to travelling

Manoj's hackergotchi
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Thursday 31 January
2008
Link: Back from DC

Posted early Thursday morning, January 31st, 2008

License: GPL

Back from DC

Both Judy and I managed to make it to DC for the annual company Christmas dinner, held this year at the tail end of January, since we could not otherwise arrange for a common meeting time. We spent Friday driving around Sterling, VA, looking at houses for sale -- and deciding that the lots they sat on were too cramped for our tastes, having lived out in the country for so long as we have. Had authentic Dim Sum for lunch.

The party was a success, since someone had brought along a inflatable play jungle for the kids, and food was interesting and the conversation fantastic. Judy left on Sunday; I had to recycle the rental car and the hotel room, since after I had set u0p the trip it turned out that I had to stay back longer in DC for business. I ended up returning on the 31st; and every single one of these three plane flights was delayed or cancelled.

Manoj

Saturday 10 November
2007
Link: Adventures in the windy city

Posted early Saturday morning, November 10th, 2007

License: GPL

Adventures in the windy city

I have just come back from a half week stay at the Hilton Indian Lakes resort (which is the second time in a month that I have stayed at a golf resort and club and proceeded to spend 9 hours a day in a windowless conference room). On Thursday night, an ex Chicago native wanted to show us the "traditional" Chicago pizza (which can be delivered, half cooked, and frozen, via Fed-Ex, anywhere in the lower 48). Google Maps to the rescue! One of the attendees had a car, and we piled in and drove to the nearest pizzeria. It was take out only. We headed to the next on the list, again to be met with disappointment; since making the pizza takes the best part of an hour, and we did not want to be standing out in a chilly parking lot while they made out pizza. So, I strongly advocated going to Tapas Valencia instead, since I have never had tapas before.

Somewhat to our disappointment, they served tapas only as an appetizer, and had a limited selection; so we ended up ordering one tapas dish (I had beef kabobs with a garlic horseradish sauce and caramelized onions), and my very first paella (paella valencia), with shrimp, mussels, clams, chicken, and veggies. We ate well, and headed back to the hotel. As we parked, and started for the gate, I realized I no longer had my wallet with me -- so back to the restaurant we went. The waiter had not found the wallet. Nor had the busboy. The owner/hostess suggested perhaps it was in the parking lot? So we all went and combed the parking lot -- once, twice.

At this point I am beginning to think about the consequences --- I can't get home, because I can't get into the airport, since I have no ID. I have no money, but Judy can't wire the money to me via western union -- because I have no ID. I need money to buy greyhound tickets to get home on a bus ... and then there is the cancelling credit cards, etc. Panic city.

While I was on my fourth circuit of the parking lot, the owner went back -- and checked the laundry chute. I had apparently carelessly draped the napkin over my wallet when paying the tab, and walked away -- and the busboy just grabbed all the napkins, wallet and all, and dumped it down the chute. Judy suggests I carry an alternate form of ID and at least one credit card in a different location than my wallet for future trips.

If that was not excitement enough, yesterday, I got on the plane home, uneventfully enough. We took off, and I was dozing comfortably, when there were two loud bags, and the plane juddered and lister to the port. There was a smell of burning rubber, and we stopped gaining altitude. After making a rough about turn with the left wing down, the pilot came on the intercom to say "We just lost our left engine, and we are returning to O'Hare. We should be in the ground in two minutes". Hearing the "in", a guy up front started hyperventilating, and his wife was rubbing his back. My feelings were mostly of exasperation, I had just managed to get myself situated comfortably, and now lord only knows when we would get another aircraft. When we landed, the nervous dude reached over and kissed his wife like he had just escaped the jaws of death. And he asked if any of us knew statistics, and if we were fine now. (I was tempted to state that statistics are not really predictive, but hey). It was all very pretty, with six fire engines rushing over and spraying us with foam and all. When we got off the plane the nervous dude headed straight to some chairs in the terminal, and said his legs would not carry him further. He did make it to the replacement plane later, though.

Turns out it was a bird flying into the engine that caused the flameout. Well, at least I have a story to tell, though it delayed getting home by about three hours.

Manoj


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