Back From Vacation

I’m back from an amazing vacation in Costa Rica. A week free of email, phones, and all technology, hiking in rainforests, hanging out in small villages and enjoying a relaxing time. Now I’m in New Jersey (with the totally opposite weather) spending a week with my parents. Pictures from the trip have been put online. Our itinerary was: Nuevo Arenal (day 1 and day 2) Monteverde and Santa Elena (day 3, day 4 and day 5), and Allejuela (day 6). I also kept a travel journal, which I’ll post in pieces online.

Off On Vacation

I’m off on vacation for the next two weeks. One week in Costa Rica then a week in Jersey visiting my parents. I doubt I’ll be blogging much while out. I am also carrying both phones on me so I may be reachable or even blogging from the Audiovox as I am now (Houston gate E8 baby, land of hicks).

Payment Systems in Bay Area Transit are Brain Damanged

BART, Muni and CalTrain all have different ticketing systems. This is brain damanged. Allow me to break the problem down for you. Muni owns a third of CalTrain, with the rest belonging to San Mateo Transit District and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. BART is a cross county transit authority thing. BART has their stored value style paper cards, Muni has $1.25 single fare tickets (which, mind you, don’t apply to the Muni run cable cars) and CalTrain has single trip, 10-ride and monthly passes. Notice how they’re all different? This is totally brain dead. What’s worse is the four stations in downtown SF that Muni and BART share: switching between them is a ticketing headache. How hard would it be to have an integrated fare system to let people move across the entire Bay Area? I’m not even asking for other agencies, like SamTrans or VTA or Golden Gate Transit. There are too many agencies fighting over this and it’s leaving the public at a disadvantage. Even the bridges have a unified system under FasTrak. Unless the state steps in and does something about this, it’ll continue to be brain damaged.

MSN Spaces

If you are remotly interested in blogging and online publishing you’ll have known that MSN’s blog+more offer launched mid last week, called MSN Spaces. It’s good stuff, like I mentioned earlier I’m moblogging over there. The very whizbang (IMHO) feature is the “gleams” that updated Spaces produce in your MSN Messenger buddy list. Very cool integration.

The one very wierd consequence of having a a blog product in your own company is that lots of people who you generally only deal with professionally start to post about their personal lives and you get a very interesting view in to their day to day (non work) lives. We’re all a bunch of freaks.

BART Connecting to SFO is Brain Damaged

Have you ever taken BART in to SFO? It’s awesome that it connects to the airport now but as could be expected from public transit in the United States, it’s brain damaged. Coming across the freeway, where the 101 and 380 combine there is one track that goes over the concrete jungle. ONE TRACK? Wait, wait. Let me back up a minute. First of all, the connection to SFO from BART is a one-off line. It’s not part of any loop. From all city trains you have to get on the SFO train (and not, mind you, the Milbrae train, since those trains end at Milbrae, a whole one stop from SFO). While that’s brain damaged in it’s own right, worse yet is that freeway crossing — there’s only one track. That means that if there is a train leaving the airport, the one on the other side of the freeway has to stop and wait for the airport side one to cross and vice versa. Brain damaged.

Gift Visa Card

I recently recieved a gift Visa card that had a bunch of interesting information about credit card operations on the back, so I’ll share:

  • Resturants and beauty salsons: It’s customary for service-oriented merchants to automatically factor in an additional 25% to cover any tip you may leave on the card. If your total bill, after adding in the additional 25%, exceeds the amount on the gift card, it will be declined. You should ensure your gift card has an available balance that is 25% greater than your total bill.
  • Gas stations: If you pay at the pump, the terminal may check to see if you have funds to pay for an amount up to $30 worth of gas. You can avoid this problem by prepaying for your gas inside the station.
  • Hotels or car rental agenices: Companies specializing in travel services may automatically factor in an additional 25% to cover incidental charges that you might incur. You should ensure that your gift card has an available balance that is 25% greather than your total bill.