Thursday, March 22, 2007

Plans and more Links

The Plan for next three months is now approved, and all bookings are confirmed.

Work-wise, this week is a Quiet-ish. Waiting for rollout of a new version, but that seems to stall a bit.

That gives me time to do some research for an upcoming paper in Edinburgh for the Miracle Scotland Database Forum.

And Luckily, I have Chris sitting opposite and we can exchange jokes. Chris just "queried" the blog. We can link to one-another. His links are Here.

Huh ? Wow!

And we also had good laughs at these guys.

I should also really be doing my expenses. Sigh.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Bookings, Savings...

Our travel agent sends out an email for each itinarary or each booking.

Normally, I just open the "travel" folder in the mail, and from the mail-subjects I know when and where to go.

The mail doesnt contain the exact intinarary, however. It contains a weblink to the page with the complete details. The mail alone is therefore not enough. That is normally only a minor problem: just connect to the internet, type the relevant data in, and presto.

Not so for April, May and June.

For starters, I seem to have very little mails for the coming weeks. Did I forget to request the bookings ? Bank-holiday-confusion again ?

But it gets worse:
I click on all the links, nothing makes sense. From some trips I dont seem to return, or leave. How do I get from Helsinki to Leeds ?

Help - When/where am I supposed to go ?

I puzzle through all the mails, I start making notes, and end up composing a calendar in my own spreadsheet. For starters, I only got half the number of expected mails. And most of the mails have a title that is off by 1 week from the
actual reservation inside (click, surprise: other dates pop-up..???).


Travel-agency is understaffed and overworked, so phone-hell awaits. When I finally get to a person (a very friendly one, but audibly busy), she explains: It is not the fault of the agent (do I care?) It is the consequence of a demand by my employers' bookkeepers. They have tried to get cheaper deals on "combined bookings" (I care even less, but I can sense trouble).

But the combined-bookings have failed in one of the systems, and had to be re-done (Now I care - I feel sorry for her, she had to do all this work, and she has explained this Many, Many, Many times).

As a result, in my emails, I only get to see half the data. It is a known problem, and she will send me new, complete, mails for every itinarary by COB (now I care: we are moving towards resolution).

At my insistant request, she did verify (and sort-of-convinced me) that my bookings were all (re-)done as planned and requested (I care a lot!). I should be ok for seats. It is just the email-notification that hasnt come through yet.

Moral of the Rant: Penny wise and pound foolish !

This has kept several people quite busy for several hours each:

- The bookkeeper to come up with the idea (he probably had to get it reviewed, risk-analyzed, and approved by various manager too. They all mean well, they are just pointed towards the wrong problems. Consider applying that brainpower to knitting tea-cosies for charity. It might cause less damage).

- The ladies at the agent who had to do and re-do my bookings.

- The IT-jockeys at the travelagent who build and later fixed the systems, not to mention the semi-automatic mails.

- Myself, in major panic for two hours, afraid to be marooned in an inhospitable climate.

- The ladies at the agent, again, when they had to explain it all to me (and 420 others?), and who then had to double check everything to get me (only half) convinced that it is all OK now. Maybe others would be more trusting, I'm just a suspicious bugger.

- Most Important: My friendly assistant who though the whole plan was done and dusted, but who will now recieve 13+ more semi-automatic emails to file away. I've already tried to explain it in an email, but I can sense a follow up by phone, and a box of choccies (hm, that box of choccies would have been done anyway).

I'm still awaiting the mails with new confirmations though.

On a more positive note: It was a Beautiful Day today.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Trains - Need a newspaper

Yiihaaa. This cowboy is riding again. Trains, that is.

(insert picture of romantic Western Train ... nah, too lazy)

Sunny. Crisp weather. Smell of spring.
The gentle clickety-rolling of wheels on the pavement.
The comfortable feeling of my Trusted Tumi-trolley handle in my hand,
the gentle hugging of the laptop-backpack on my right shoulder.
The familiar noises and smells of the messy real-world-crowd of train stations.

The only discomfort is the visibility of the mobile-screen: I like to know who's calling before answering. Mental note: increase brightness - screw battery-life.

The Train-parts of the journeys may be less glamourous, but trains and stations feels less sterile then planes and airports. This is much more "real world". And the seats are more comfortable then on planes. More breathing space, more fresh (?) air. There are less queueing moments (even at Eurostar), and more thinking/working opportunities (especially at Eurostar).

Note when I finally got to internet: If trains get cancelled, you can generally take the next one. My flight got cancelled, and I ended up in the wrong city. Oh well: nice trainride ahead tomorrow. More time to think.

I'm Grateful for the thinking-time. Short hops, or Cattle-class long-hauls flight are not a good place to think, as I could find out again last week. And I have a lot of stuff from the last weeks to catch up on, and a lot of notes that still need action, despite two days of pretending-to-work-from-home-ptr.

Minor Niggle: This afternoon, I forgot to bring a newspaper.
Not to read.
I'm reading/writing on my lappy most of the time.
I need the paper to kick off my shoes and put my feet on the opposite seat.
True Cowboy Style.


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