21 January 2002

Mickey Mouse operation

Well, here I am in Disney World.

I’m here for an IBM internal conference. Pretty much the whole of the IBM software group sales organization for the USA is here, along with Canadians and some Latin American folks. Tomorrow I have the first of many long meetings filled with information that could be communicated by e-mail much more effectively if you could trust sales people to read their e-mail.

The plane trip down was uneventful. I was surprisingly calm about the whole thing, said goodbye to Richard and told him he really needs to write more LJ entries, and got the T to Logan. As the train passed over the salt and pepper bridge, I suddenly thought to myself: why am I on a train? Why did I drag my suitcase through the snow when IBM could have paid for a taxi? Ah well, I could use the exercise.

Then I realized that I turned off the heating in the house, because I didn’t want to reprogram the thermostat and leave poor sara to work it out when she got home. Except now she’ll get home and the house will be freezing, and I’ll be down here in Florida basking in 25 celcius sunshine. I’m not sure what I should have done, as the “Hold Temperature” feature didn’t seem to be working.

At Logan I actually made it through the metal detector without setting it off, in spite of forgetting to remove my watch. I can’t work out why sometimes it beeps and sometimes it doesn’t. (Maybe titanium doesn’t trigger it? Except then, surely people would make guns and knives out of titanium?) I didn’t get wanded either, and they didn’t search or drug-test my bag. Nor did they ask me to turn the laptop on to prove it was a genuine laptop.

Discussing random logistical issues with the rest of the team, I suddenly realized I hadn’t thought to cross-check that they’d booked me to check in at the hotel on the same day they’d asked me to fly down to Florida. You’d think that would be the sort of detail you could leave to the travel planners, but of course you’d be sadly mistaken. A quick phone call to the hotel sorted things out, luckily, or I could have been pulling an all-nighter.

My seat was in the last row of the plane. It was narrower than I remember airline seats being, and since the plane was heading to Florida, naturally there was a large late-middle-aged woman wedged in next to me. The flight attendant came back just before takeoff and asked if I’d mind being moved to the front of the plane. I asked if there were any small children at the front. He said no, he was trying to move them back here. I said in that case, I would very much like to move to the front of the plane.

So I found myself sitting next to a cute guy who does something relating to DB2 that I probably would have known what the job title meant if I’d been at IBM for long enough. He was mostly interested in talking to the guy to his right, though, so whatever.

Once again, no food or coffee for security reasons. Since I’d had to be at the departure gate at noon, and there wasn’t any food past the security checkpoint, I basically didn’t get any lunch.

Got to the hotel, checked in, Ryan fell asleep watching American football on TV and I didn’t have the heart to wake him. Rested for a while, then played Nethack a bit. Then we all went out and I finally got my first proper meal of the day.

The hotel room is about what you’d expect an $80 Holiday Inn hotel room to be like. Unfortunately, since it’s a Disney hotel, it’s $270 a night. If you’ve never been to Disney World, the most surreal part of it isn’t the amazing and pervasive fakeness of the surroundings—rather, it’s the prices. I’ll admit I’m no gourmet, but food is easily double what I’d normally pay in Boston. Anyone visiting from a cheaper part of the USA must get major sticker shock. You can easily end up paying $8 for a burger and fries.

Don’t bother looking for me online. I didn’t know it was legal to charge by the minute for calls to toll-free numbers, but apparently it is. I’ll be writing offline then quickly uploading.

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