Monday, May 2, 2011

On the road again: Austin, day 1

Nothing makes me happier than getting up early after very little sleep to begin a long day of travel.

Actually, most things make me happier than that, but nonetheless, today began that way.

Many aspects of the two flights were excellent: I was able to get upgrades to first class. The planes had bandwidth on offer. The flight attendants brought me plenty of water and Diet Coke (no Coke Zero yet on American Airlines planes). I plowed through a great deal of work.

For timing and other reasons, to reach Austin I ended up flying through Chicago, which is rarely a great plan. The weather there was mildly turbulent, but what made us quite a bit late leaving O'Hare was the plane's door. After all the passengers had boarded, they closed the door, which definitely looked closed, and a warning light said it was not fully sealed. The pilot followed procedure, delayed the take-off, and brought maintenance on board to fix this problem.

I applaud that choice. Make me as late as you need if the alternative is ascending to thirty-five thousand feet and then having the door come off the aircraft.

To my amazement, however, not all my fellow passengers agreed with the pilot's decision. Several said that if the door looked closed, it probably was.

I never want to rely on any of those people.

Fortunately, the pilot held to his rule book, the maintenance people did their jobs, and then we took off for Austin.

Our landing there was a bit of an adventure, with turbulence bad enough that many people around me were clearly having a lot of trouble handling it. Plane turbulence rarely bothers me, so I noticed it only when I realized our cabin had gone suddenly quiet and many around me were staring upward, eyes closed, mouths moving silently.

We landed without incident, however, and after collecting my checked bag--which TSA searched again; they really love my stuff--I headed for the rental car.

What a POS. A Hyundai Sonata with over 25K miles, stains on the back seat, and stuck in multiple places on its body little red stickers indicating damage, the car amazingly managed to look better than it drove. A constant drizzle--what is it with me and bad weather in Austin?--had left the streets slick, so even touching the gas lightly so agitated the drive-train squirrels that the wheels couldn't hold. It didn't help that the tires were in bad shape. As were the brakes. And the alignment.

I don't care how hard they try to make a Hyundai look good on Burn Notice; I've never driven one that was worth a damn.

Dinner was in keeping with my Austin traditions: BBQ at The County Line On the Lake, followed by a small sampling of flavors at the Amy's at the Arboretum.

Fortified and with my brain power amplified by the healing power of BBQ, I headed back to my room for a long evening of work.

Which I shall now continue.

Tomorrow, client meetings!


Todd said...

Never, ever drive a Jeep Liberty in the rain. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

I will not drive one in the rain, I will not drive one that has stains. I will not drive one if it's wet, I will not drive one with a pet.

Mark said...

I've never owned a Jeep, Todd, so that is good to know.


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