Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Glad We Had a Tailwind

It turned out that the combination of Amtrak Capitol and BART would have left me with an unacceptably-small time leeway on Sunday, so I got up extra-early, planning to catch the 7 AM bus over to the BART Station. However, I got myself together so quickly (and had done so much packing the night before) that I was ready to go by 6:30 AM, and rather than sit around for 30 minutes, I decided to just walk to the BART station.

According to my pedometer, this came to 4,000 steps, which is close to 4 km or between two and three miles. It took less than an hour, and I was still there before Sunday's later opening at BART. OTOH, carrying my full computer kit (including the new, heavier work machine) on my back left me with sore neck muscles that never went away.

It's just as well that I was on the first train of the morning. After changing from a Fremont-Richmond train to a Dublin/Pleasanton-Daly City at Lake Merritt, there was a BART-wide announcement that due to "police activity" at San Leandro, all trains were being halted and turned back at Coliseum and Bay Fair. (See the BART map if you're not familiar with the BART system. I'd just transferred from an orange to a blue line train, although the lines are never called by their color codes.)

I breathed a sigh of relief. The problem at San Leandro must have happened only a few minutes after my train passed through, and probably before the second train of the day (trains run every twenty minutes). Had I not caught the first train, I would have been stuck at Bay Fair hoping I could get on a bus to Coliseum. More than likely, I would have had to find a taxi (if I was lucky) and pay a whole lot of money to get me over to SFO.

Even as it was, I only got to my gate at SFO just as they were starting to board it. I still had to wait about ten minutes before they got around to boarding my group, and I probably had around twenty minutes remaining slack or more (I wouldn't have stopped to grab coffee and a breakfast sandwich after clearing Terrorization had I been running that late).

After the massive amount of space in international first class to Australia, being squashed into ordinary coach on a 757 for the flight from SFO to ORD was a real letdown. I had an aisle seat, which was a small blessing, but the armrests don't lift on that plane, which caused me a lot of trouble trying to get up and down to use the lavatory. The worst problem was that the person in front of me did a full recline on his seat as soon as we were off the ground, making my cramped space even worse. It also meant that I simply couldn't get my right leg inside the "form" of my seat and had to leave it sticking into the aisle down the outside of the seat. (I had to be really careful when they came by with the carts.) With the seat ahead of my fully reclined and with my outside armrest not able to fold out of the way, there wasn't enough room for me to swing my right leg inside without clobbering someone.

It was not a comfortable flight at all. I envy the man next to me, who fell right asleep. Not me. I couldn't sleep, and I couldn't even think about getting any work done. At least I'd had the presence of mind to get my noise-canceling headphones and my book out before getting to my seat. If I'd waited until getting seated, there's no way I would have ever had enough room to get them out of my briefcase wedged into the space in front of my feet.

Oh, and the sound system in my seat didn't work. The PA announcements sounded, but nothing else. So no From the Flight Deck to serve as a distraction during the flight. I got out the MP3 player (it's in the headphone case) and listened to episodes of It Pays To Be Ignorant and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.

We arrived at ORD at least 30 minutes early thanks to a strong tailwind, and given how uncomfortable the flight was for me, I was very glad of it. I did get a little bit of worry at baggage claim when my bag still wasn't there when nearly everyone had left, but it turned up in the very last batch of bags, presumably because I was pretty late checking in for the flight. (Not later than the minimums, but close.) Then I screwed myself over, having forgotten that the rental car shuttle for Avis (and other major renters) pick up curbside here, despite the somewhat misleading "Shuttle Bus Center" signs. I thus traipsed over to the Shuttle Bus Center and stood around for twenty minutes wondering where my bus was before twigging to my mistake and retreating to one of the terminals and getting over to Avis.

The drive out to Aurora was routine and uneventful, thank goodness. The weather is clear (although slightly cold — above freezing, though), and the road construction through which I threaded on my last few trips out here appears to be over, giving us four lanes out as far west as IL-59, which was my exit.

I'm in a Staybridge Suites, which suits me just fine as it's yet more Priority Club credit, albeit not as much as I'd wanted as I ended up making the wrong choice when registering for a promotion earlier this year. The irrevocable choice, which only affects the last three months of 2010, undervalues long continuous stays, because it gives a specific credit for "stays," not total spend or room-nights. My one night in Central Point northbound counts as 1, as does the one night going the other way, but so do the five nights I'll be here in Aurora. I registered for the promotion a while back, before knowing I'd be out here, and if you're making a bunch of single-night stays, the choice I made works better. Oh, well, this ends up being one extra "stay" anyway, and one I ordinarily wouldn't have had at all, as Staybridge is not my company's preferred hotel here. They put me here because their preferred hotel is sold out this week.

Incidentally, and somewhat out of order, I noticed that he hotel has a notice on the refrigerator asking if there is anything that would keep me from ranking them as "very satisfied," should I get a survey from the hotel later. I think I'll take them up on that challenge and point out to them that the adjustable-height chair at the work area won't adjust up and down and is at the lowest level. With me being so tall, that means I have to sit with my legs folded far back under the chair. Let's see if they can fix it.

As I headed out I-88 toward Aurora, I found the ESPN Radio World Series pre-game show on the car radio. After checking in to the hotel, I got my bags moved in and popped over to the nearby Meijer grocery store to lay in groceries for the next few nights. As usual, it is a bad idea to grocery shop when hungry, but I tried to hold myself back. I just wish I'd remembered that the chicken-to-go in Meijer's hot case here has never been any good — certainly not as good as the take-out chicken at Safeway in Fremont. This isn't the first time that the chicken I bought from that store tasted as though it had been under the heat lamp for a week.

However, bad food choices aside, I was very happy to get back to the room just after first pitch of tonight's World Series game, and even happier to watch the game unfold as I had dinner, unpacked, and got ready for bed. Go Giants! One win away from the first ever World Series for the San Francisco Giants! If my co-workers think I'll want to head out for socializing after Monday's session, they've got another thing done: I have a date with the TV for Game 5 on Monday night.
Tags: baseball, giants, travel, work, world series

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