May 01, 2006

Off to Computers, Freedom and Privacy 2006 in Washington, DC

We headed out to Washington, DC, where I'll take in the Computers, Freedom and Privacy 2006 conference, along with some sightseeing. Yumi is tagging along.

We had a bit of excitement along the way in Toronto, where we changed planes. There was extra security on for flights into Washington's Reagan National Airport because of its close proximity to the center of government. We had to clear security again before entering the departure lounge, with all carry on baggage checked by hand.

We boarded the Embraer 175 and after awhile the captain came on the PA system and said there was a glitch with a computer and they would have to power down the entire plane and reboot it. It took about 90 seconds in darkness before they fired it back up. Then a few minutes later he came back on the PA with a command to deplane immediately and leave all personal belongings behind because a fuel truck near the plane was smoking. The plane was only about a third full so we scrambled off quickly.

After about 15 minutes back in the departure lounge, the captain said there had been an electrical problem on the fuel truck, and that the fire marshal had cleared us back onto the plane. An adventure to start the trip! We departed about 45 minutes late.

The ride in to Washington was spectacular in the dark with the major monuments and government buildings lit up. The approach to Reagan National provides an excellent view of the Mall, and you can see why they have the extra security for Reagan flights. It?s only seconds from the flight path to major sites. Yumi tried to snap a photo or two, but the turbulence resulted in smeared streaks of light.

The L?Enfant Plaza Hotel was a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps it was a "4-star luxury" hotel 20 years ago? The TV in our bathroom is a tiny old thing, the toilet paper roll doesn?t stay seated, the furniture is somewhat "distressed" and there is generally a tired air about the rooms and hallways. The mini bar was not stocked, though I suspect that if it had been we would have avoided it anyway -- prices for room service and hotel restaurants are not encouraging for us hillbillies :-).

I was also disappointed to find that the hotel's wireless Internet access was not included but cost an extra $9.95/day or $24.95 for three days. I guess now that so many people are free from usurious hotel telephone charges, hotels are trying to make up the lost revenue in high-speed Internet access. Seeing as I have to do homework for my Royal Roads MA in Professional Communication course while I'm here and interact daily on online discussion boards, I had no choice but to cough up. Dial-up was an option, but it would have been irritatingly slow.

Posted by Paul at May 1, 2006 11:52 PM