Apr 17 2010 (Apr 17 2017)

The Happy Cab, Part I

Part I of the log I kept during the 20 hour drive on the IA Happy C ab (#iahappycab) that took us back from Warsaw, Poland, and the 1st Polish IA Conference (now UX Poland) to Hamburg and Copenhagen on Saturday April 17 2010. Featuring Eric Reiss (ER), Jim Kalbach (JK) and his wife and mixed media star Nat (NK). As much as John Cleese we had to beat the Eyjafjallajökull cloud and get home, but on a slightly smaller budget. Enjoy Part I. Here is Part II.


06:30 Sharp. We leave Warsaw on the happycab.

06:32 Configuration is Eric in the shotgun seat (“He has a shotgun, I believe, so he better be first” (JK)), Nat, Jim in his Zen position, and me.

07:00 Half an hour into the trip and still basically getting out of Warsaw. Music is rapidly degrading from barely acceptable to seriously disturbing. Undecided between sleeping and taking notes. Will do both.

07:05 Nat asks if I'm hashtagging these notes as well. … Of course I am #stupidquestions

07:08 Zig-zagging at 120km/h among slow tractors and the early morning traffic

07:12 I can predict I'll be totally wasted in the end.

07:14 Roadtrip Rule #1: no drooling on someone else's shoulders

07:15 Roadtrip Rule #2: you do your shirt first

07:16 Nat takes pictures of these very notes and calls them “old style tweeting”

07:20 Jim provides in-trip navigation via smartphone.

07:30 Jim gives his best “This is your captain speaking – fzzz” speech and tells the crew that the ETA for Hamburg is around 4pm

07:40 ETA calculations for the rest of the trip prove to be difficult. Besides, Jim is tweeting Roadtrip Rules and spoiling everything for me.

07:50 Getting all jiggy with consonants in so many different languages

07:55 “Should be a TV show. Poles, want to buy a vowel from the Italians?” (JK)

07:56 “But careful you might get another 'z'” (ER)

08:05 Been driving for 1 hour and a half something and still no autobahn in sight. Jim and his navigation gizmo are confident there is one somewhere near Lodsz, but the rest of the crew doubts we are even close to Lodsz and that Google Maps really knows its way around here.

08:10 BTW, did I say it really looks like Northern Italy? Could be any stretch of road between Capodiponte and Limone del Garda.

08:15 Ramazzotti is on the radio. Europop is king.

08:20 Being picked on by evil American.

08:25 In-car navigation back in action, now with effects (gizmo lowers from above). Captains says we just hit the highway.

08:27 Damn. Pit stop. Couldn't really appreciate the highway, could we?

08:33 On the road again. Shortest break ever. Now have real paper to write on thanks to Eric basically killing himself to get luggage out of the trunk.

08:35 Discussing the intricacies of calling shotgun before a drive in the US. Fascinating stuff.

08:37 Strangely enough, no IA / UX discussions started yet. Should I throw in some bomb and hide?

08:40 ETA to Hamburg is now 7h 12m. Suspiciously precise, if you ask me.

08:45 We are on an everything is miscellaneous (ha!) radio station (JK). No one bites, especially since Bittersweet Symphony is on and we feel the spleen.

08:50 Asked to fill some 30 characters for Jim's pit stop tweet I add 'Go Liverpool'. What else can you say.

08:55 Daughter calls in to check on dad: are you behaving? Mostly.

09:00 Roadtrip Rule #3: No multitasking

09:05 In line waiting to speak to Jim while he tweets (see Rule #3)

09:16 It's waffles time. Finally warming up to some EuroIA-related conversation. Dire Straits on the radio with “So far away”.

09:17 Roadtrip Rule #4: No instruments allowed except for the snarkophone.

09:18 “That includes bad vocal impressions of instruments” (JK). Damn.

09:30 Captain report is now our ETA in Hamburg is in 6h 15mins. Discussing if #iahappycab is actually hurting our brand.

09:35 Sudden braking due to trucks overtaking each other joyously if a little carelessly (“Truckfight!”) spoils the magic moment with everyone singing along to “Walk of life” (yes, it's a Dire Straits moment, and no, no one was drumming along. It's forbidden. See Rule #4).

09:45 Agreed that this is going to be twook (tweet + book).

09:55 Past a toll gate and running at 150km/h through the Polish countryside. Still looks like Italy.

10:04 Tomato soup is apparently finger food in Denmark.

10:10 An awkward moment trying to assess if Poland can be said to be a drive-through or a drive-over country.

10:15 Restaurants are the thing now, and American pizza (OMG). Heated discussion. Not saying that anything that has “American” in the same sentence with “pizza” is sci-fi. “Polish pizza from NJ is the best. The one with ground sausage” (JK). Apparently you should check out Chitch's. Trying to bring back the focus to Warsaw and Polish cuisine.

10:20 Jim reads volcanic ash cloud report. Situation is worsening.

10:30 Second pit stop for gas. I mean, gas: this happycab runs on LGP. Eric befriends a cutesy old dog.

10:35 Plenty of garden gnomes around.

10:37 Peter Bogaards (@bogiezero) tweets his best: thanks Peter!

10:40 Hitting the road again: now Jim rides shotgun and Eric is middle-back, and drooling (NOT ALLOWED! Roadtrip rule #1). The Beatles are on. Go Liverpool.

10:42 Just realized the backseat is an infirmary. Eric has more cold and cough drugs in his pocket than Jacob Nielsen Alertbox posts.

10:45 Eric calls out loud Tyskie for no apparent reason. Find out he tweeted about it being beer o'clock while he's stuck with a redbull. Told ya.

10:50 Cap'n K's log says 4h 42mins ETA to Hamburg. Interesting insights in garden care: too acid a soil allow moss to grow easily. I must say that this pearl of wisdom alone is worth this whole trip. My heart is filled with gladness and joy.

10:57 Eric drooling again on me. I think he does that on purpose.

11:04 Request issued to Cap'n K for non-lousy in-car travel info.

11:12 “Fzzz – crack. Temperature in Hamburg is a frisky 11 C, mostly cloudy”. Mh. Took too long.

11:18 Coined new aphorism: “ life is an open tweet”. What else there is to know.

11:20 This produces sudden spurt of creativity. Eric wakes up and declares that “tweets are the fortune cookies of cyberspace”. Then gets back to drooling.

11:25 Now we also have a name for the utter superabundance of useless visual documentation: it's picturitis. The person engaging in such an activity is an egorazzi.

11:30 Radio Djs in Poland talk as fast as any other Djs. And they are equally annoying.

11:32 Discussing the cloud and possible causes. Early rise reduces our choices to either Jared Spool (@jmspool) blowing off steam or an act of God. Not useful. Changing subject to garden gnomes.

11:39 Our ETA is now 3h 45mins to Hamburg. Approaching the German border.


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