Friday, November 16, 2007

Cornell is Gorges

I was in Cornell giving a talk on The Mobile Phone as a (Massive) Data Collection Platform (slide deck here, 63.1 MB PowerPoint file).

Traveling to Ithaca, NY from Seattle, WA took me approximately 36 hours, though it was worth the wait (Ithaca is gorges, of course). I had a two-layover flight: from Seattle to Cincinnati, from Cincinnati to Detroit, and then finally Detroit to Ithaca. It's the second layover that ruined me. NWA indiscriminately bumped eight passengers off the flight from Detroit based purely on their ticket price (fine, understandable, it's the economy of seats). As a bargain shopper, I proudly had the cheapest ticket (thanks Expedia!). However, being bumped meant a night in a shoddy Detroit hotel (are there any others?) where I was promised but did not receive deodorant, toothbrush, and all other bathroom necessities. However, they did get me toothpaste... oh and a free round trip ticket on NWA (which would only be indicative of times to come).

On my way back from Ithaca, I had a slightly more streamlined flightplan: Ithaca to Detroit and from Detroit to Seattle. My departing flight out of Ithaca was supposed to leave around 6:30AM. I arrived with a fellow graduate student, who just happened to be taking the same flight out and had thus driven us both to the airport. While checking in, I observed the person to our direct left arguing with the ticket agent--it appeared she had just been bumped from our flight. I immediately thought, "uh, oh, not again." Sure enough, my colleague and I were both bumped off this flight as well (yep, another free round trip ticket on NWA). This time, however, I was a seasoned bumpee and thus I negotiated for a first class ticket to Seattle and a free breakfast (on top of the round trip voucher). The only downside was that the departing flight took out of Syracuse instead of Ithaca. We took a one hour cab ride on NWA's dime to Syracuse where I was met with an accusatory stare and some deriding comments from an NWA ticket agent who asked me why I wasn't checking in 45 minutes before my departure. I was too sick and tired to argue.

Needless to say, this was the worst air travel I have ever experienced. Thanks NWA! I should note, though, that the two round trip ticket vouchers paired with the first class ticket back to Seattle definitely mitigated my troubles (as it was meant to) though I can say I would have much preferred to achieve my original flight plan in both directions.

Touring Campus
Given my flight debacle, I didn't have as much time to tour Cornell and the surrounding area. Jofish was kind enough to quickly walk me around on the night of my arrival. The next three pictures were taken from the sixth floor of the Johnson Museum building. The fourth one is a photograph I snapped while walking around campus before my talk.

Information Science Building
Hanging Out After TalkFirst Class Return Flight
First class food. Salad with fresh vegetables, a warm roll,
fresh fruit, white wine and a Dove chocolate ice cream bar.


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