Saturday, March 14, 2009

NYC09: Up Up and Away

The Day Begins
The day starts and at 10:30 I'm out my door, headed for the subway which will take me to Bloor station. From there, I make my way up all the stairs, out into the sun for what seems like the first time in forever. From that platform I board the 511 Exhibition street car, and ride as south as I can. The correct stop is made obvious by the giant statue of two toy soldiers falling over one another.

I assume these states marks the location of Historic Fort York, but I could very easily be mistaken.

The airport is only a three minute walk away. Or, I should say, the entrance to the airports forward base. To reach the main port one must take a three minute ferry ride across a small stretch of water that the city will not allow a bridge to connect. With everyone trying to go green – it seems strange that they would enforce this unnecessary ferry. Still, it's not as ridiculous as the one up in Drumheller, Alberta. If you've been there – you know what one it is.

Porter Airlines
After a quick check-in, as I'm travelling with nothing more than the pack on my back, I find myself in the Porter lounge. I have a new standard in expectations for airport comfort. Here there are comfortable chairs, free internet access via wi-fi and accessible macs, as well as a cafe featuring all number of cookies, juices, teas, and coffees – free of charge. This is no YYZ.

To be honest, had I known how lovely the lounge was going to be, I probably would have arrived here earlier. It's more comfortable than home, yet offers free juice. And as I'm fighting off a cold, I need all the vitamin C I can get my hands on.

Problems Begin
I've never travelled with a computer before – normally opting to record my travel logues in hard covered notebooks purchased from all manner of dollars stores (more often orange in colour than not) – but now that I have one, I decided I might as well try it out.

Settings, Wi-fi access... Alright, pending – pending – pending. What is this?! No DHCPwhatchamacallit available? But there are four wi-fi access points here. The airport loves me. They want me to have the internet. It must be the computer!

I wait paitently while four children play bubble games on the computers. Trying to suppress my rage, I occupy my time accessing the juices. Checking the labels, I realize I'd just consumed one thousand calories of juice, and enough Vitimin C for five days. Success.

A flight to Chicago finally calls the children away.

I do not know, love, or understand Linux. I have brief memories of setting up a redhat box a decade ago, but most of that is lost to me now. Still – it offers me a foothold that some others might not have. On the now-free macs, I look up DHCP problems and the first dozen links are all forum posts from 2007, discussing this same problem as it relates to my specific Asus eeepc. It's nice to know no updates have fixed the issue in the last two years.

After much stressful searching I am told to type “sudo dhclient -r / sudo dhclient” I do this and then try to reconnect. It works! I disconnect to make sure it wasn't just a fluke. No reconnect is possible.

Back to the forums. Eventally I see a static IP might work, so I enter a subnet mask of and an IP address of (to be honest, I don't really know what I'm doing, at all.) But now, when I try to connect – I can. Every time, I get full bar connection. In glee, I open up firefox to check my email. This fails miseraby.

I can not access the internet with any programs, despite my apparent connection. This is most likely due to all those random numbers I typed. Still – I would like to use the internet, so once more I make an attempt. This time I connect. I try a different hotspot. I connect again.

It seems that no problems exist. My last hour of searching and frustration was in vain, because the computer gods seem to have simply been playing tricks on me.

Still – this experence has made me question if I want to travel with a wi-fi box. Perhaps a netbook running windows would be more my speed? I can, at least, fix those.

But now is no time to question that. An all passenger boarding call has just been issued.

In the Air
Though it was only a short flight on one and a half hours, Porter offered free beer and food throughout the flight. This is something that I'd not expected as my recent dealings with Air Canada seemed only to offer such wonders when oceans are crossed.

The Bombardier Q400 is a comfortable plane, seating a very honest seventy people. Watching wheels come down from the props adjoined to each wing made me think about just how much pressure airplane tires have to withstand. The smoke that plumes as they finally touch down is quite the sight, normally hidden, tucked away, under the body.

There is only one downside to the Q400, and it is the washroom. More cramped than a Tokyo Subway during rush hour, simply turning around in it can be a problem. Clearly this is no 747.

The Newark airport. What can be said about it? It's best to leave quickly? I recommend the train that runs from the airport to Penn Station New York. At $15.00 a ticket, it's the same price as the bus. Plus – it claims to run every fifteen minutes. Now while this averages out to the truth – you may find yourself waiting for over half an hour only to be later hit by three trains within eight minutes, as they've managed to bunch up over the course of the day. Before you can even reach the train, though, you need to clear customs...

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