Thursday, January 11, 2007

Laptop fixed and some observations on the road 

I actually had the cure for the laptop problem in my previous post
figured out before I got off the plane in Armenia but needed time and
quiet to do it. But here I am writing the blog from my hotel room
now and so it's fixed. (Short story: Do not ever do a full shutdown
of an X41 ThinkPad on your X4 dock. The battery seems to not come up
when you go to turn on again, and for some reason the power supply
isn't recognized. Solution: take out the battery, unplug the laptop
entirely and give them about a five minute rest. Then reconnect and
you should be able to power up.)

Early observations:
1. The new terminal at Zvartnots airport in Yerevan is open. To
show you how these airports are used as revenue centers, after you go
through immigration -- itself all gussied up with electronic signals
to send you to an officer and a much better visa processing system --
you must step through a shop with Armenian goods and souvenirs before
you get to baggage claim. Now THAT, my friends, is vertical integration!
2. There is no WiFi in Charles de Gaulle. Indeed, as airports go I
really dislike it. The queue for getting through security to the
gates was miserable and chaotic (I eventually succeeded in getting
someone to let me into the VIP line, mostly by bluff) and the
officers there are a testament to the French work ethic
[/sarc> Awful, awful, awful. The bus service between terminals is,
well, interminable.
3. While I'm going on about airports, Detroit is no longer the
hellhole I remember it as. Clean and airy, good wifi. Regrettably a
long way between bathrooms. And let me give a A+ rating to the TSA
people at my hometown airport. St. Cloud has the most helpful
officers I have seen in any airport. You got something you can't
carry on? They get it to the checked baggage if possible. No baggie
for your gels and liquids? They have one for you. And after flying
through there a few time they remember my name (which is memorable,
true, but it means someone made an association.) Now if we could
just do something about the lack of coffee out there...
4. So someone picks me up to take me to the hotel from the
airport. He has a nice sound system with the removable face on the
stereo. Would I like some music, he asks. Sure, I say. What does
he play? Barry White. Who plays Barry White any more (except Eric
Kusilias on ESPN Radio as his outro)? Who plays it in a transport vehicle??