Mont Blanc

Ah, the joys of international travel in coach. Business class fares to Geneva from RDU are obscene, so I flew coach. RDU to LGW, eight hour layover, then LGW to GVA. My friend Alex picked me up and drove me to his house in France, where we stayed up until midnight, and after pastis, fondue, wine and a lot of good conversation I slept until 2pm the next day.

Since the languages of choice in Alex’s family are French and German, I spent the weekend totally lost, although I did play enough with my French Rosetta Stone lessons that I can say, with authority, “Un homme sur la table” (The man is on the table). I can’t tell you how useful that phrase has been, but you can guess.

On Sunday we went to Chamonix, to visit Mont Blanc, the highest peak in western Europe. You can take a couple of cable cars up to Aiguille du Midi, a point on the side of the mountain that is about 1000 meters from the summit.

Unfortunately, the clouds came in as we were ascending and only parted briefly for a view of the summit. Mont Blanc is taller than Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the continental US, and twice as tall as the tallest mountain near me, Mount Mitchell. The second cable car ride was a little scary for me, and I don’t usually have problems with heights. It had something to do with being really close to the rock face during the final ascent.

Just as an example of how the Internet has changed things, we met up with two climbers who had walked up to the Aiguille. They were from the Czech Republic and when they saw Alex’s camera, they asked if he would take some pictures and e-mail them. None of us had a pen so Alex entered in the e-mail address on his phone.

E-mail, digital photos and text on phones are commonplace, but it was a little strange to be using them considering how little modern technology had been used to get us to that point on the mountain.

On Monday I went to work in Geneva. I am working with an old client of ours and as much as I like the Internet there is nothing like meeting face to face. OpenNMS 1.3.7 is really amazing, and I was finally able to address some issues that we had been struggling with via e-mail, once we had the chance to sit around a table and go over them. I’m working on the upgrade now, and I expect performance to be an order of magnitude better on this large installation. These days the network is so good that I was able to VNC to my systems at home, and while not snappy the performance useable – from a continent away. As we worked toward 1.8 it is like we’ve climbed our own mountain, and I can finally see the summit.

Although at times it seems obscured by clouds.