All Expedia Sites Are Not Created Equal: Do Your Travel Research

This is an oldie, but a goodie: I’ve had these screen shots kicking around my hard drive for a few years (one of the many draft posts that were stuck in my own head). I was booking a trip to India when I first started at HTC, and my first stop was The price tag? A staggering $5196 Canadian (and this for coach class):


Below is the same trip as booked from, and it’s 52% LESS EXPENSIVE for the same flights on the same dates! There’s a slight exchange rate to factor in there, but not much of one. If ever there was proof how expensive it is to book things from Canada, here’s the sticker shock to prove it!


Japan 2008 Photo Book Completed: View it All Online

Yes, it took me about two years to get this project finished, but I’ve been pretty busy over the past nine months figuring out the whole dad thing! :-) I’m man enough to say publicly that I’ve always had a fondness for collecting memories in scrapbook form; not the frilly scrapbooks that come to mind when you hear the word, but collecting photos and objects from a time or place and putting them in book form. I have a dozen or so cheap and ugly scrapbooks from my teenage years that contain a lot of great (and not so great) memories.

I’ve been wanting to use FotoFusion to create a truly killer vacation book for years, but didn’t manage to get around to it until now. Creating Logan’s baby book was my first attempt at using FotoFusion to create a book that combined photos, text, and my green screen scanning technique for objects. FotoFusion isn’t the easiest program in the world to use, so creating Logan’s book was great practice – I managed to fly through the creation of the Japan photo book in about a week using the skills I picked up creating the baby book. That was after, of course, the months it took to edit all the photos I took, and scan all the objects I collected on the trip.

Below are a few of the pages I created for the book; the final result is 85 pages long, and by next week I should have the book back from Photobook Canada. As you can tell, I created square pages; I opted for the 11 inch by 11 inch book from Photobook Canada. Even after using a coupon code for a discount, after the $15 premium paper upgrade and $15 shipping charge, the book cost me around $120. Ouch! Yeah, kind of a pricey book; the good news is that I only need one copy, unlike Logan’s baby book where I needed several.

Comments welcome – you can check out the full gallery here (it’s easiest to view it in slideshow mode, or full-screen browser mode).

Public Service Announcement: Stand The Hell Back From The Airport Baggage Carousel, Thanks

If you fly more than once a decade, you’ll doubtless have seen the above scenario (photographed at the Calgary airport on my way back from my CES 2010 disaster trip). People line up to get their baggage at the carousel, but rather than everyone standing back a couple of feet so more people can see their bag coming, 99.9% of people cram right up to the rail, often leaning in to see what’s coming – completely blocking the view for everyone else. What ends up happening of course is that you see your bag as it passes right in front of you, and you loudly exclaim “Excuse me!” as you lunge for your bag before it goes by. When I was at the Las Vegas airport, an elderly gentlemen and I were standing a few feet back while everyone else crammed and scurried in front of us. He exclaimed “When I was in kindergarten I learned to take my turn – what’s wrong with these people?”. Preach it old man!

People, it’s just common sense: stand back a bit and only step forward to grab your bag when you see it coming. Thank you – this ends the public service announcement.

Oh, So They Really Do Shut Down The Gate An Hour Before The Flight Leaves?

I feel like such an idiot. Today I was leaving for my flight to Seattle – to attend the Microsoft Mobius 2009 event – and my flight was leaving at 1:30pm. Not boarding, but leaving the ground. I have a NEXUS pass, which allows me to breeze through US customs quickly, so an hour is more than enough time for me to get my boarding pass, go through US customs, then go through security and walk to the departure gate. In fact, I can typically do that in 15 to 20 minutes at the Calgary airport – giving me 20+ minutes sitting at the gate waiting for the plane to board. I’ve always thought I have more important things to do than sit around at an airport, so I tend to cut it close.

Well, today I cut it a little too close…I arrived at the Calgary airport at 12:32 PM, and was at the Horizon/Alaska gate by 12:36 PM with my US customs card completed. There was no one there, so I went over to the next gate to ask how I could find someone to check me in for the flight. I was directed  to the Horizon/Alaska office 50 feet away. I walked in, asked for someone to check me in for the flight, and was told that was impossible – the gate was closed. My jaw fell open and worked silently for a moment, then I sputtered “But…but…I must missed it by only a few minutes! There’s really no one that can check me in? They informed me that Horizon/Alaska closes the gate exactly 60 minutes before the flight leaves, and that once the gate is closed, there’s no way to check baggage – so if I wanted to make this flight, I’d have to go with carry-on only. There was another flight leaving at 6pm today, and if I wanted I could exchange my ticket for that flight at no charge.  Those were my only two choices. Continue reading Oh, So They Really Do Shut Down The Gate An Hour Before The Flight Leaves?

The Sweet Ride We Rented Last Week: 2010 Mustang


I was in British Columbia last week, more specifically in Tofino, Comox, and Nanimo. We flew into Comox to travel to Tofino for the wedding of Ashely’s sister Chelsea. We had rented a car to drive from the Comox airport to Tofino, a drive of about four hours or so – and I’d heard the last led of the journey had some pretty twisty roads. We’d had a Ford Taurus lined up for rental, but when the Budget representative asked me if I wanted to upgrade to a 2010 Mustang convertible for $25 a day, it was hard to say no. Back in my early 20’s the Mustang was my “dream car” and I’d made a goal for myself of buying one by the time I was 25. That didn’t quite work out, so renting one for this trip seemed like the next-best thing. What a fun car to drive! Oodles of power, and it handled really nicely on the roads. Definitely a car I’d rent again!

Hello From Las Vegas


In Las Vegas for CES 2009. Feet are sore. Too tired to type in complete sentences. Wore a pedometre today, walked 12,888 steps. Might not seem like a lot, but my feet are yelling at me. So tired. Hardly slept at all last night, woke up at 5:15 AM to fly to Vegas. Staying at the Wynn Encore. Got great coupon, only $20 more than staying at the Sahara. Wynn Encore is nice, but like all Vegas hotels it takes 20 minutes of walking to get anywhere, all routed through the casinos. Staying in Vegas for the longest time ever for CES: five days, leaving Sunday. Seems like an eternity already. Did Pepcom Digital Experience tonight, brought video camera, didn’t use it as much as I should have. Going to sleep now…

Finally Home For a While

What a whirlwind the past couple of weeks have been! While in Mexico on vacation for a week (photos still being processed, sorry Rafe!) I managed to catch a cold, likely from someone on the airplane. I had three days of enjoyable vacation followed by four days of a chest cold that brought with it a lot of coughing and hacking. The cold quickly moved into my head of course, then I became that guy you see in warm paradise locations blowing his nose as if he were in a freezing climate. Let me tell you, that sucked. Of course, it did mean that I wasn’t up for much more than sitting by the pool and relaxing, which was the whole point of this vacation, so it wasn’t all bad. But it was mostly bad when I then caught some sort of a stomach flu bug from Ashley in the latter part of our week-long vacation.

After getting back from Mexico and being with with a cold and minor flu, I spent most of the weekend holed up watching movies. Then last Monday I had to get on a plane again and fly down to Seattle for the fall Mobius 2008 event, cold and flu still in full effect. I had lots of fun there, but definitely wasn’t on my game – not eating anything but dinners will do that to you. I’d eat dinner each night to see if my stomach was back to normal, but it never was, and we all know how that goes. Mobius ended on Wednesday night, and that night I was coughing so hard I had trouble breathing (with thoughts of the expensive American health care system running through my head), so I got in a cab at midnight and went to the nearest 24/7 pharmacy to get some meds. I managed to make it home, where I promptly collapsed into the fetal position and tried to coax my immune system into functioning. The combination of a cold and flu is frustrating, because when I’m not eating on account of my stomach, my immune system is being starved of the fuel it needs to fight the cold. It was just ugly.

Monday of this week was the first day I felt like I had any energy, so I’m now in the process of digging myself out of two weeks of backed-up email and work. The thing I hate most about going away on holiday is the work that piles up when I’m gone. There’s so much to do, and we all know how productive the week leading up to Christmas is (as in, not very). But I’m on the mend, and so glad to be home – even if home is a cold, frozen wasteland at the moment.

Japan 2008: Day 5

Our fifth day in Japan was a busy one – we did our first full-day tour, which had six stops, including Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji Temple (also known as the Golden Pavilion), Kyoto Imperial Palace, Todai-ji temple, Deer Park, and the Kasuga Taisha Shinto Shrine. Many pictures were taken, and there’s a video showing several of the sites as well.

On a photographic note, I converted a few more of the photos in this set to a high-contrast black and white…I like the way they look, but I’m still trying to hone my own type of B&W look for post-processing.


(I’m writing this sitting on the floor of the Vancouver airport…back in Canada! Almost home…so sleepy.)