Travelling back to Indy …

Hah, I thought I had a plan … this time I tried to avoid the two chaos airports Chicago and Newark. So I took a United flight through Washington. But I did not know that I should not take the *last* flight. So it happend what had to happen (yes, I can’t travel without problems, I’m basically haunted). We arrived in Washington and were stuck in Immigration forever. Those nice people had three of the 12 available counters open – no wonder it took 1.5 hrs to make it through.

My flight was already boarding when I finally entered the US (how stupid). Anyway, the clerk gave me the gate number and told me to run (I was told that I had a good chance). I ran … ran, ran, ran, ran … oh man, it was in another Terminal *argh*. And the shuttle transport was too slow (the clerk told me). After about 2 miles constant running (I’m not a bad runner), I arrived at the gate … it was just closed and the bridge pulled off the airplane. Oh man, I was sooo mad.

Ok, so it was 9:30pm and I went to the United counter to ask for a hotel or something (US Airways gave me a free hotel stay the last time this happened in Chicago) – but United did not! Those people … they claimed it was the fault of the airport and the immigration people. Whatever, it wasn’t my fault either and they did not step up. So I had a pleasant night at Terminal 2 in the Washington airport *ugs*. I could not sleep of course …

Anyway, I took the first flight at the next day which arrived in Indy at 10. But I had to wait for the next available Limo (missed my reservation the night before) until 12 … I was so mad :-/. I finally arrived at “home” at 2pm – after 36 hours of traveling. I’m still alive – barely.

US Airways, United, Chicago and US again …

Oh my god, I begin to believe that I will never travel without
complications again. So, in a previous post, I described how I moved my
flight back to Germany to December 10th (today). Hah! That seemed to
just have worked fine … seemed. So I arrived at the US Airways
check-in (the first leg of the flight was a US flight to Charlotte at
1:50pm). And hah! They automatic check-in did not find a ticket … the
clerk had also not any idea that I was supposed to have a flight today.
Oh man, I was of course freaking out and very very persistent (blocking
the clerk for about 20 minutes). And, hmm, after some while we got it
resolved and I had a ticked with the neighboring United ???? Ok, don’t
ask, I have no idea but I was happy after I received all my boarding
passes :). The schedule that US sent me via email (and also orbitz told
me) was not existing anymore. But see, how flexible they can be when
they have a persistent and angry customer :). Note to self: just go
there next time with a fake printout and bum a free flight *g*.

Anyway, this flight was 3:50pm through Chicago … two hours later, but
it would only arrive 35 minutes later in Dresden (less layover) –
perfect! I tried to avoid Chicago in the original ticket (which was
through Charlotte) because from the four times I travelled through
Chicago, I was stuck two times. Anyway, I was happy to have my boarding
passes. Chicago … is another story in itself because this weird city
seems to have the strangest weather ever, like today. The flight that
was supposed to leave 2:30 was still in the gate at 3:30 when the
borading for my flight was supposed to start *argh*. And there were tons
of people with connection flights standing in line. And then they told us
that they give priority to the people that had the earlier flight. I had
several guys going to Europe in front of me and it looks like we would
all miss our connections. Some of them rented a car to catch their
flight – that was too late for me. So yeah, no way to Chicago … and
about 50 people in front of me in line at the gate. So it looked like I
would only get a flight the next day … but I had to give my talk at
the next day *argh*. Anyhow, I had the cleverest idea of the day :). I
went back to the check-in and complained to them. And I was the first
one who had this idea, so I was able to catch the boss to tell him my
story. He was really cool and working/flirting closely with a clerk from
US Airways. So my proposed solution was to re-book me to another flight
through Charlotte with US. There was a flight, but there were no seats
from Frankfurt to DD anymore … but I still had my original boarding
pass. So we did some happy mixing, many confusing conversations and
finally, after approximately one hour of discussion with the two, two
boarding passes to Charlotte and Frankfurt with US. And the friendly guy
even got my luggage re-tagged (oh man, I hope this “blue tag” thing
works!!!!). And the queue behind me counted 45 people – I am pretty sure
that I was the only one of the Chicago travellers who made it to Europe
today :-D.

Btw., they have some kind of internal accounting system. It looks like
United bought a ticket from US for me. The price for the one-way to
Frankfurt was EUR 350 :), not 2000!!!!

So I ran to the gate to Charlotte (they made the plane waiting for me 🙂
and now I’m in the A330 towards Frankfurt! Hah, actually, I made a
perfect deal with that. So I had some funny problem-solving discussions
(I really enjoy this), felt cool because I finally made it, got a *much
much* better airplane with personal video system and laptop power (my
oringinal flight was in one of thise crappy Lufthansa machines), and I
guess I will get some things when I call US Airways later to complain
about this all :-). So the only drawback is the food … and yeah, I’m
just holding one of those butter-rolls (100% fat stuff) in my hands
*bah* – that must be a US airline. But, seriously, I really enjoy the
laptop power. I have been able to work 6 hrs of this flight intensively
and finished my 2 papers and 3 talks completely! We’re landing in 35
minutes in Frankfurt and I hope that I’ll get to Dresden in time (with
my luggage, but I’m not so sure about this).

Ok, I’m in Frankfurt now! Yeah! Germany! Back to the German organization and preciseness … not quite :-(. Lufthansa did not have a seat for me :-/. They told me that my ticket was cancelled. Great, but they gave me a new one because I looked like killing somebody. Anyway, after I git my ticket, I worried about my luggage and I went to a clerk to ask. Man, back in Germany … everybody is *sooo* unfriendly. It’s amazing! This Lufthansa employee refused to check my luggage for about 5 minutes because she explained me that if she would do this for everybody … blablabla. But I insisted and the guy behind me got annoyed of waiting jumped in my boat and also asked her. Anyway, eventually she checked on the luggage … and … hah, she did not find it. But I know that it was there because I checked it at the checkin in Charlotte. Ok, they found it boring 30 minutes later on some conveyor belt in another terminal and somebody even transported it to my plane. Oh man, if you don’t do everything by yourself.

But I arrived! That’s it for now …

IU Travel, US travel and flights between US and Germany in general

It begins to get weird if you’re trying to buy a one-way ticket. Those
tickets cost generally more than $2000 (sometimed >$3500) while a
rount-trip ticket is about $700. Weird, huh? So of course, I’m not
stupid and booked a round-trip to use it later for the tripe back. So it
happens that this trip is a conference trip to Germany and the flight
should be booked by IU travel. Hah, but I already had the first part
(form my arrival flight) and I did not want to pay the stupid $2500 for
a one-way where a two way was only $700. BUT: IU travel wanted/tried to
force me too. Seriously, they know about this problem, and they have a
“policy” that does not allow this. So they wanted that my lab wates
$1800!!!!! But I did not want this … so screw them … I booked
myself! Man, it took me 4 months to arrange this travel. This baurocracy
is as bad as in Germany, I never expected this.
But – how weird. I found out that this policy is actually mandated by
the US government! They want two-way flights and I even found out that
*not* taking the flight back is kind of illegal. Huh, good that I can
take it. I think I would loose my legal status if I don’t take it. But
yeah, that weirdness makes me then come back to Germany at least once
per year *g*. Oh man, this stuff sucks ….

SC07, Cluster Challenge and no sleep

Update: visit also my Cluster Challenge page 🙂

Not much to add to the tagline. I was at SC07 :). Oh, if you don’t know this conference … it’s one of the biggest in CS. There were about 9000 attendees this year. Actually I was supposed to go there to give my talk , but it turned out to be different. Shortly before the conference, I got suckered into this cluster challenge thing. It promised to be a lot of fun, and it was eventually. But it also costed a lot … beginning from huge time investments before the conference, weekends in the lab over sleepless night during the conference and finally some more problems that shall remain unmentioned. We will see if I will do it again …

My talk was a catastrophe. It was well prepared (in breaks during the cluster challenge preparation) … so a test-presentation went pretty good. But I did not think about a possible risk … technology. My MacBook stopped working properly as soon as I started the presentation (in front of the whole SC audience!!). Ok, so we had a backup-PC and I had my slides on a backup USB stick that Microsoft gave me for free before that. I should not have trusted this thing! So the talk went on .. pretty ok, but suddenly the USB stick (plugged to a MS Windows PC!) stopped working. The fiddling began again and finally we (the chairman and me) made it work again. Oh my god … everything failed! A total nightmare! But the audience was pretty patient (I guess they know about technical problems pretty well ;)).

Some pictures from my talk:

Yes, there were quite some interested people asking questions afterwards!

Ah, and something else … I lost a bet (as you can see :)):

Yes, I impersonated Pikachu! I turned into the Stony Magnet ;). But yeah guys … it did not work … so the real Stony magnet (which worked *amazingly* well!) is here:

More intercontinental travel fun :)

Yeah, another 48 hours travel. I’m in the middle right now :); sitting
in my “hotel room” and I’m proud that I was able to defend my power
outlet tonight. It’s 7am in the morning … my travel started yesterday
9:30am. The flight in Dresden began adventurous, the plane had some
“technical problems”. I saw a dozen technicians fixing the an engine in
front of our window. It was unclear if we can fly at all … and I was
the only passenger with a connection flight. So they offered me to
re-book me over Munich to Paris. But I decided to wait (mainly to
prevent a luggage loss!). Anyway, the flight was not cancelled and the
airplane worked (I mean I’m still alive but ask me for funny details ;).

I arrived on time in Paris … but … but … it turned out that my
luggage was still in Dresden *argh*. Yeah, I suspect the intelligent
Lufthansa personnel did not load my luggage in case that I get
re-booked. But ok, they told me that it would arrive 9pm … that’s
actually the best that could happen because I planned to stay and work
at the airport anyway. So I did not have to watch my luggage *AND*
Lufthansa gave me a dinner voucher to make up for my inconvenience ;-).
I had a great dinner (20 EUR) in the noblest restaurant that I could
find (it took me 30 minutes to find it in this freaking airport). But I
have to say that this whole thing seemed rather unorganized because I
had to leave the security area to get the dinner and there was no real
way to get in again to pick up my luggage because I had no boarding
card. And the Lufthansa folks did not really know what to do :). But
this was also resolved after several trials …

I picked up my luggage and a trolley and occupied the only power outlet in the
whole terminal. It was the only one I could find after a 45 minute
search :-/. And it was in the security zone … so that some guy tried
to throw me out. But I was fighting hard … and won :). The first guy
left pretty frustrated after I told him my “je ne parlez pas francais”
:). The second one knew (some) English … I kept telling him that I’ll
leave later, several times. He told me that he will call the police … but it was
the only power outlet!!!! I waited for the police and nobody came. I’m
still here and it’s 7:15am :o). I guess I won …

That’s my sleeping space for the night *ugh*.

Ah, now I’m finally in Bloomington – without my luggage :-/. They lost it again, isn’t that great! Two flights, luggage lost twice. I guess it was because my flight in Newark was delayed by three hours. It was even worse, we were standing “in line” in the airplane for 45 minutes on the runway. I hate Newark …. the funny thing is that this also happened the last time I was flying through that airport. Reminder to self: avoid this airport, it sucks!!!! I hope they’ll at least deliver my luggage to my home as I was told earlier.


Some pictures from the conference …

I am talking about non-blocking collectives here – we had an interesting question/discussion session afterwards :).

  The reception in the French Senate – pretty classy ;).

Not too much more going on so far (besides some “pub-events” :-))

Hotel Doisy Etoile, Paris

Only four words: “do not go there”. It’s bad, it’s worse, it’s terrible! Actually the terriblest hotel I’ve been in.

The bathroom had no curtain … so people on the street were perfectly able to watch us on the toilet *and* in the shower.

The toilet reminded me of 70’s GDR design … I thought we’re over this …

Yeah, no shower curtain … but moldy walls :-/.

Other things:

– it’s expensive (165 EUR, I guess we get 10 EUR rebate)

– the rooms are extra tiny

– there isn’t even real soap or something …

– there is a scaffolding in front of the window

– of course, construction noises (drilling, hammering) starting 8am

– we have only one key-card (oh, and it began to stop working every evening … and the clerk was making fun of us *grrrr*)
– the key card is needed to have electricity in the room
– there are no spare outlets … wanna connect a laptop – disconnect a lamp, wanna connect two laptops – sit in the dark

– the automatic door is blocked with a piece of wood in the early morning (so you can’t get in even if you have a card)

– the breakfast is ok … but expensive (10 EUR)

– the shower (or what looks like a shower) is amazingly bad!!!! There is no water pressure at all, it feels like a very light rain :-(.

Houston …

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been at the HPCC07 conference on Houston. I gave a talk and chaired a session there … and was hanging out a lot (of course :)). I’ll just post some commented pictures as I know that you’re all tired of reading:

I lived in the Texas Medical Center (apparently the biggest Medical Center worldwide) … look at those hospitals!!!

Just some of them actually …. there were dozens of those hospital skyscrapers!

and full of puddles like in Bloomington. I felt like home!

but then a policeman with a cowboy-hat … not home anymore. Certainly not!

more indications of being in Texas … they served Mexican food (here Taco chips and Guacamole) at the conference …

Oh yes … the tour guide was standing in front of this picture named “Flowers” and discussed for about 10 minutes that this is her favorite picture. So guys, does this remind you of some earlier talk of some talks given in Chemnitz. I guess somebody has something in common with Texans ;).

More Texas oddities at the sidewalk …. weird people!

Yes, I did really chair a session … was pretty nice :)!

Oh, this was the only techno club in Houston … apparently closed since a while :-(.

That’s all folks!