Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

travel

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

Lots of travel at the moment, hence not too much posting. This week I was in Austin, TX for a couple of days to meet with some very prominent clients, then on Friday I’m off to India for a week to meet with a vendor in New Delhi, and then to Bangalore to meet with our office folks there. The travel is kind of fun, it’s good to meet with other people, but also exhausting – obviously the schlepping around, and emotionally too it’s hard to be away from Emma and Toby.

The upcoming trip to Delhi is going to be interesting, in that it’ll be nice to be on the client side of things, and hopefully well looked after by these vendors, and also because the current weather forecast I’m seeing says that it’s over 100F, with “widespread dust”. Nice.

new photos

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

Just uploaded some pics – there are some from January and a whole bunch from our trip to Los Angeles. Hope you like them

back tomorrow

Monday, March 5th, 2007

Back to snowy Minneapolis tomorrow – we’ve had such a great time here and while it will be good to see friends and the cats etc it’s going to be a wrench to leave the great weather and stuff here. I’ve been impressed by L.A. much more than I expected or was lead to believe. It’s a pretty strange place I think especially in the West Hollywood neighborhood due to so many rich and good looking people being around, but at the same time people we’ve seen have been really friendly and Toby has had lots of smiles and nice comments from people. Also getting around has generally been easier than I expected – I’m quite proud of myself that I have managed to deal with driving here, and even have been able to do the trips today with no map.

california

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

Los Angeles, to be precise. We cashed in a bunch of frequent flyer miles a few months ago to take what is basically a free long weekend visiting some really good friends in L.A. and also to escape the horrible Minnesota weather of the past couple of weeks (tons of snowfall and total lack of greenery). We left on Thursday, all rather stressful on account of a great big snowstorm. Our inbound plane actually made it on time from Boston but we had to wait an extra hour for the crew to come in, then sat on the plane for an hour while the air conditioning failed, then had to wait in the airport for another hour for a new plane, then finally a four hour journey to L.A. Toby was completely great though – very patient with everything – it could have been a lot worse. We didn’t make it to D and J’s till really late on account of having to get the rental car and find our bearings but we did make it in the end.

Yesterday we went to the Los Angeles Zoo, which was a lot of fun. It’s not huge, but there are lots of neat animals to see and it was really good for us to get so much air and exercise after the journey. Just smelling fresh trees and flowers after the long Minnesota winter is so good for us. We did get a little lost on the freeway on the way to the zoo but fortunately I’d gotten a satelite navigation system as part of the car rental thing, so that helped in a huge way otherwise we might still be somewhere in L.A, or maybe even in Mexico by now.

Today we had a great outing with D and J, all the way down Santa Monica Boulevard (they live in West Hollywood right on the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica so it was a straight shot down) to the Santa Monica pier where we saw the ocean, listened to buskers and took Toby on a bunch of fairground rides and some time on the beach. We had quite the tour on the way back, along Mulholland Drive which is the steepest, twistiest road I have been on in some time, plus a lot of it is right on the edge of very steep hills, so I had no time at all to look at scenery, it was quite an exciting drive. Totally mad enormous houses all the way along, and incredible cars too – I’ve never seen so many Bentleys, Aston Martins, Ferraris etc.

Toby’s been doing great, he is a good traveler pretty much all the time, and he’s really taken to D and J and their dog Bacchus. Apart from the sunshine and the sightseeing he has also been appreciating our hosts’ very large TV and DVD setup, so got to watch Cars (again), and was completely made up that Route 66 ends just a block away from where we are staying (click on the image to enlarge):

Route 66

impressions of india

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

You might remember that I’ve been over to India a couple of times for work over the last year, and we’re getting ready to plan another trip for November. It’s quite the place – my photos are here if you’re interested. Today the BBC has a From Our Own Correspondent dispatch from Delhi with the reporter’s first experience of India and the contrasts with China, where he’s generally based. I think his take is probably very similar to anybody’s who has not been there before.

weekend at the lake

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006

Got back yesterday from an excellent few days away. We went to stay with some friends at their parents’ house on Big Lake in Western Minnesota – the lake is part of the border with South Dakota. It was very nice indeed to get out of the city and get some quiet and fresh air. Actually the quiet was relative – it was actually quite noisy with the chirping insects and noisy birds, but it was definitely a good change.

Toby did really well with the travelling, it took about 3.5 hours to get there, but having his friend Silje (the J is pronounced like a Y) ride with us meant that there was lots of fun and goofing around which kept them occupied pretty much the whole way. He was suffering with a bit of a cough which woke him up the first night, but nothing some medication couldn’t fix. He also did well keeping up with Silje, who is a year and a half older than he is. There were a couple of moments where he showed his age, mostly around sharing, but on the whole I think they had a lot of fun together. He particularly worked on keeping up with the speech and generally held his own. Two funny things came out – one was that he was carrying around a toy croquet mallet, and when we asked him what it was he said it was his baby. We asked him its name and he said “um… Shere Khan”. The second one was related to the fact that Silje burned her mouth a little bit on a grilled cheese sandwich. Toby waited very carefully before biting into his sandwich, then announced that he “didn’t get an owie because my tongue is .. helpful, and strong!”

We did a lot of lounging around while the kids zoomed about, but also got the chance to do some active things – I went kayaking on the lake two mornings in a row which was excellent. It’s good exercise but also very peaceful and I loved it. I didn’t realize that there were pelicans living on the lake, and we got really close to a small flock of them who were sitting on some rocks. I wouldn’t want to get too close – their beaks are really long. We also got to ride on Silje’s grandpa’s speedboat. I persuaded Toby that it would be fun so he sat in the back with me in his little lifejacket. As soon as we left the dock he got unhappy and said that he wanted to go back, but once we got going at moderate speed he relaxed a bit. However when the throttle was opened wide there was a fair bit of terror, but mixed with hilarity as he got spray on his face. I think he really enjoyed it despite his worries.

We also spent a fair bit of time just paddling in the lake – the water was warm and very comfortable. Toby was very interested in the tiny minnows which came close to the shore, but wasn’t happy about going any deeper than the water being up to his knees. I’m sure he’ll get more used to it in time, and we should really join a gym so that we can take him swimming more.

The kids totally wore themselves out each day, which was a good thing on Monday night with all the racked of fireworks from the neighbors and other houses around the lake. Once Toby was in bed I went out to watch the displays, but much cooler for me was seeing a bunch of fireflies meandering around the house.

All in all an excellent time, and I think we’re feeling well rested and that we had a very good break.

austin day 2

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

Lots and lots of busy work today. I don’t really like being away from home but if I’m getting a lot of work done it feels more worthwhile. It’s certainly good to be meeting up with my co-workers in the other location.

Last night I was quite wiped so after working till about 8pm I just had a bowl of soup from room service and watched the movie Syriana – really outstanding.

Speaking of food, most people I’ve spoken to have advised me to eat barbecue and Tex-Mex food here. I did indeed have barbecue yesterday for lunch, and today was taken to a rather self-consciously hip little taco place, which does small soft-shell tacos, so you need to have two to make it a lunch. I had a totally delicious fish taco and another tasty one which had pork and spicy sauce. Yum.

in texas

Monday, June 26th, 2006

I’m in Texas today, visiting our office in Austin. I flew down last night via Memphis – nice easy flight, exactly 43 minutes to change planes which was perfect to get from gate to gate past the Elvis and Sun Records tourist stuff stores. I was upgraded to First on the Memphis – Austin flight – I guess it was nice to have more breadth in the seat, and I got a free glass of wine in an actual glass made of glass, but I wouldn’t have paid the extra for it.

Staying in a pretty nice hotel with a nice spacious room, but it’s a bit of a culture shock having gone from a full house (Paul and Claire and Sam and Lauren are staying for a month before moving back to the UK) to complete silence. It’s always a bit strange getting ready on my own in the morning. It sounds from Emma like Toby didn’t like his established routine of sharing breakfast with Daddy, but I think he coped OK.

Work is good here – I’ve been in some really worthwhile meetings already. Really decent bunch of folks too. They took me out for lunch to a little barbecue place which did a brisket sandwich and a drink for five bucks. Delicious. The place was done up all old-style Texas with wood walls and maps and country music on the stereo. Everywhere there are reminders of the Texasness of the place – the stores and malls are Texas this, Lone Star that.

gator raid

Monday, May 15th, 2006

One thing I forgot to mention in my previous post (and an excuse for that headline) about being in Florida – the extensive news about the unusually high number of alligator attacks in the last week. Three women have been attacked and killed in the last seven days, compared with only 17 fatalities from the animals over the past 58 years. I would assume that none will wander up to our hotel…

in orlando

Monday, May 15th, 2006

I’m in Orlando, Florida for a few days attending the StarEast software testing conference which is a little bit fun and a big bit useful. First observation is that software testers aren’t the most attractive bunch in the world, but I think that we’re generally better looking than software developers (and we like to set the bar low). I’m staying in the Rosen Centre Hotel which I guess is one of the many conference hotels around here – it’s right next door to the gigantic Orange County Conference Center and there are plenty more hotels within walking distance. It’s all a bit sculpted and landscaped but quite nice – plenty of palm trees and stuff. The strange thing about the hotel is that about 80% of the guests are software geeks and the rest seem to be Brits on vacation – it’s a slightly incongurous mix.

I had a good learning session on test management today, some of which reinforced and reassured about things we’re doing already, and tomorrow a session in improving test methodology and process. Probably not very exciting for people who aren’t in my line of work, but this is why they pay me the medium bucks and I find it quite interesting. The whole point is to make it so that when you’re building software you do it right first time, and even if you think the subject is esoteric and boring it probably has a fairly major affect on your life if you consider all the computer systems which touch your life every day.