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posted by [personal profile] ctseawa at 02:08pm on 01/04/2013 under ,
I have a lot of saved up vacation I should use and not a lot of money I can use to do so. Staycations just don't work for me, I need to be away from the house (and preferably away from the city) because otherwise I get bord, log in, and start doing work.

I'm looking for inexpensive travel options. Doesn't have to be right now but sometime in 2013 would be good.

Ordinarily this would be a year I'd go to Australia for a SAGE-AU conference but they're not doing those anymore (sadness). Last time I had this much vacation banked I went to Oslo for 6 weeks as a visitor at Oslo University College's masters in system administration program (an option I'm considering again). It would be interesting to do something I haven't done before, though.

Any suggestions?
Mood:: 'tired' tired
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posted by [personal profile] ctseawa at 05:29pm on 10/01/2011 under , , ,
In reply to the actual physical postal letter I sent United last month explaining that I'm not flying with them because of the TSA I received the following letter:

January 05, 2011

Dear Mr. Damon:

Thank you for contacting United Airlines.

I understand your concerns regarding security screening.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) assumed responsibility for security screening for all major U.S. airports, effective November 19, 2001

I will forward your feedback to our senior management, so they understand how the experience impacted your perception of air travel.

We appreciate your e-mail (sic) and hope to see you on a future United Airlines flight.

(person name)
Customer Relations

Ok, for now I'm going to ignore the missing . after 2001 and failing to notice that I'd taken the time to actually write and post a letter instead of dashing off email. What I'm not going to ignore is the complete lack of saying anything meaningful. A.k.a a failure to communicate.

Hopefully that senior management will actually say something.

Na, not going to happen.
location: Seattle, WA
Mood:: nonplussed
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United Mileage Plus
P.O. Box 6120
Rapid City, SD 57709-6120

Premier #xxxxxxxxxxxx

Dear Sir or Madam,
As an examination of this year's records will show, I have done very little traveling with you — to the point where I will no longer be a premier customer next year. I have always felt that a regular customer should let a company know why they have reduced or stopped doing business.

In this case the cause can be traced to a simple acronym:
The TSA has managed to finish changing something I used to look forward to with joy-filled anticipation — travel — and turn it into not only something of a drudgery (the industry changes in the past 10 years did that, though premier status helped mitigate that a bit) but now something to be actively avoided. At this point I look forward to travel with about the same level of joy and anticipation I would a protracted visit to the dentist. With the deployment of the backscatter scanner and seriously invasive pat-downs my desire to go to other places via air has reached an all-time low.

If the supposed security represented by these activities were real I would probably be more willing to tolerate them but it is quite clear from the analysis that not only is it not helping to keep us safe but is instead actually achieving the terrorists’ aims of spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

In conversations with friends who likewise were heavy travelers it has become clear to me that many of us are avoiding airline travel whenever possible. I have been doing most of my long-distance domestic travel by Amtrak. The one flight I took this year would have been booked on the train but time constraints prevented it.

It is my hope that the carriers, realizing the lost revenue unwilling travelers like me represent, will begin pushing back against the TSA and their security theater. You can get me back in the air by making it pleasant (or at least not actively unpleasant) to travel again.

Sincerely yours,
Lee Damon
Mood:: 'angry' angry
Music:: Up in the air, Junior Bird Men
location: Seattle, WA
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posted by [personal profile] ctseawa at 08:44pm on 15/02/2010 under
I'm thinking of taking a 2-week foodie tour of rural France sometime this Fall (late September/early October most likely). I don't want to go alone. Is anyone interested in coming along with me? I've no idea how much it'll cost, I'm just starting to consider the possibilities. Ideally it will be a trainventure.
Mood:: 'contemplative' contemplative
location: Seattle, WA
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posted by [personal profile] ctseawa at 01:30pm on 31/08/2009 under
I'm back in Seattle. Did you miss me?

Time zones. Feh, who needs 'em?
Mood:: 'tired' tired
location: Seattle, WA
Music:: Men at Work - Down Under
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posted by [personal profile] ctseawa at 09:39pm on 07/08/2009 under
Yay, Brisbane. Had a great time in Sydney. Looking forward to a quick tour here then on to Gold Coast for the SAGE-AU 2009 conference.
Music:: Koomurri - Sacred Lesson
location: Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Mood:: 'sleepy' sleepy
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posted by [personal profile] ctseawa at 11:33pm on 05/07/2009 under , ,
I just got home from a quick trip up to Canada. For my few European friends I'm sure this doesn't sound like anything unusual - you go to other countries for day trips or the weekend all the time - but in the US it's always a bit odd to say "I'm going to this other country for the weekend."

I left Seattle on the 07:45 train Friday morning. It was the most crowded I'd ever seen the train station. There were two trains departing and both were completely full. The one to Portland left a few minutes before ours but not enough that you'd have noticed. The ride up was quite uneventful and I got to Vancouver around noon. My host met me at the train station and we took a quick jaunt to his place to drop off baggage before heading off to lunch.

It was a weekend of very good eating, some fantastic Jazz (final weekend of a Jazz festival), sight seeing on little boats and sky train trips 'there and back again'. It was a bit warm but not so lethal that you had to stay in the air conditioning all the time.

My host was great as always. I think I put a bit of a cramp in his food routing with my wanting to try all these good (and not cheap) restaurants. I really appreciate him putting up with it. :)

I'm home now, it's late and I have to go to work tomorrow. I might write more about the trip another day.
location: Seattle, WA
Mood:: 'tired' tired
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posted by [personal profile] ctseawa at 11:50pm on 19/04/2009 under , ,
I made a quick weekend trip to Portland, catching the 07:30 train down there Saturday morning (almost missed it because the bus took a re-route that got me to the station well after they'd started loading - I was the last passenger to board). I met up with two friends (Poni and Z) and we went to Flavor Spot for lunch.

NUMMY! Waffles as sandwich. I don't think I'd make a special trip just to get them but if I were in the neighborhood I'd certainly drop in.

We went to the Japanese Garden and I took several hundred photos. It's a very well done garden with lots of winding paths that make it look much larger than it is. Some of my pictures even came out, I think.

After the garden we went to Joel Palmer house for dinner. This time we splurged and had their Mushroom Madness tasting menu.

Oh dear. It was expensive but oh so worth it.

- Started with a mushroom risotto with truffle oil
- next was a tomato & mushroom soup
- then half a portabello stuffed with locally made Gouda cheese and drizzled with a red pepper sauce ... then the chef owner came by and dropped about $10 worth of Oregon black truffle on our three plates.
- then a mushroom tart
- then a halibut on rice with a ginger & soy & chantrel sauce
- then a pork stew with papardelli noodles and more sliced truffles
- and then a 3-item dessert dish with black truffle ice cream (and more sliced truffle), a very light cheesecake (more of a ricotta pie) and a chocolate torte type thing.

After dinner we returned to Portland. Z headed home but Poni and I stayed up chatting for an hour or so and then fell asleep.

This morning Poni and I went to brunch at a Scandinavian place where we met up with another friend of mine (met over 10? 11? 12? years ago at a Usenix conference) and his wife. Brunch was great. We waited about an hour for a table but I think it was worth it.

After brunch Poni and I headed over to the Chinese Garden and I took another 100 or so pictures then we went over to Voodoo donuts where I picked up 4 different donuts (they were all out of buckets of day-old, darn it) and then back to the train station for the trip home (stopping at a Dim Sum place to pick up some Bao for me to eat on the train).

My train luck was better than it has ever been. We arrived at Seattle's King Street station such that I got to the bus stop about 1 second before the bus that takes me home pulled up. The trip home took just over 4.5 hours from when Poni dropped me at the station to when I opened the door to my house.

A good, but exhausting, weekend. I'm really glad I got to see people and wander around Portland. It was a bit sunny both days, I think I got a bit of a burn even, but the weather was otherwise very nice.
Mood:: 'tired' tired
location: Seattle, WA
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posted by [personal profile] ctseawa at 10:34pm on 29/03/2009 under ,
I've been asked to give one of the keynotes at this year's SAGE-AU conference. It looks like I'll be making that trip to Australia this year after all. They've also picked up the tutorials I offered.

Yes, I am very happy about this. :)
location: Seattle, WA
Mood:: psyched
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posted by [personal profile] ctseawa at 04:36pm on 08/01/2009 under
Amtrak called. They've pulled the good train that runs between Seattle and Vancouver and replaced it with a lame one - probably through April. My business-class seats are gone (refunded, all $26 of it) and there's no dining car, just a stand-up-and-buy-then-go-away snack bar. It'll make the 4-hour run a bit less fun but still not nearly as horrible as the bus ride would have been.
Mood:: 'disappointed' disappointed
Music:: I Never Thought I'd Live to be 100
location: Seattle, WA


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