Budget Travel and Budget Cars

Haven “t been sleeping in a tent for four years. Last time it was several years ago in the Pocono mountains when we went fishing. They gave us a spot for setting up a tent, and I was pleasantly surprised finding a electric and cable TV wires sticking from the ground. America! There was a pond with a fish and we were told that all caught fish should be put back in the pond. Yeah, right!

But this weekend we went to a different campground ndash; it was in the woods right by the ocean. No TV or electricity this time. Posted sign reads that alcohol is not allowed here. Had to hide our beer bottles during lunch time. Kind of stupid. Why did I even go to such a place? Our friends (they are bikers) discovered it a couple of years ago and spend most of their Summer weekends there. This camp is located in a trendy area ndash; 10 minutes drive from a place with lots of fancy stores and restaurants. So they kill three birds with one stone ndash; ocean, sports, good restaurants and crowd. Booking a hotel in this area starts from $400 a night on weekends.

We decided to get out of our house for this weekend too, otherwise we “d be spending it just as any other day doing stuff around the house. For example, my wife likes it clean. Finding a cleaning lady is not easy in our area. ..

After a short three hour drive we arrived to a gorgeous park-like area, and I said, “Honey, if we did not come here, I “d be mopping floor in the kitchen at home now! rdquo; After setting up the tents we ate, and all of a sudden it started raining. We ‘ve jumped inside our tent (borrowed from someone) and quickly fell asleep for an hour or so. We woke up because the water was dripping through the tent. The next 20 minutes I spent with paper towels trying to get the water out from the tent floor. Hm… Mopping the kitchen floor was replaced with mopping the tent “s one. Mom used to tell me when I was a kid, “Try not to borrow, have your own rdquo;. Mom was right. Will definitely purchase a tent later this month.

The rain was over, the air was fresh and we went to a nearby city for a cup of coffee, followed by a promenade and a dinner in a good restaurant.

Here “s the picture of my wife Natasha and our friend Irene.

I “m not going to tell you who is who on this photo and the name of the city. In the near future, you “ll be able to run a program and identify not only the place but even people shown on the photo. Have you heard of semantic Web? Watch this presentation . By doing comparative analysis with other photos published on the Web your can recreate the image of Notre Dame de Paris from the image of a small piece of the wall. People are happy to publish their images on the Web.

Several years from now, expect some of them screaming about violation of privacy. Sure, just by looking at an anonymous photo on Flickr, you “ll be able to see the name and address of the person and trace his or her movement around the world.

I rarely use the word “cool rdquo;, but this demo was more than cool, wasn “t it? First social engineering sites like Facebook or myspace made the job of FBI and CIA a lot easier, but it will get even better when these image analytic programs will become available.

On Sunday morning, we went to the beach. I remember a phrase from my school English text book: “The weather is beautiful today, isn “t it? rdquo; This was really the case and we ‘ve spent it on the beach and then ate some lobsters at the lobster ‘s farm.

On the way home, my wife dropped me off at JFK ndash; had to catch a flight to Tampa, FL on business.

This was my essay called “What did I do over the weekend rdquo; and I was not planning to write anything else, but hellip;

On the arrival I went to Budget Rent ndash;a-Car. Last week, I “ve been reading that car rental companies are not doing great because of the high prices on gas, but I did not know that it “s that bad. In the past, getting the process of picking up a car was a 5 min deal ndash; put your initials declining all extra insurances, and get the key. Now it turned into a high sales pressure process.

Here “s how it went (I pre-paid $219 for mid-size car for a week). The woman over the counter asked me:

“Do you need GPS in the car? rdquo;

“No, thanks rdquo;

“Do you need full coverage insurance for just $24.95 a day? rdquo;

“No, thank you rdquo;

“For just $20 a day we can upgrade the car to convertible rdquo;

“No, thanks ndash; who needs a convertible in Florida in August? rdquo;

“Do you need liability insurance for $14.95 a day rdquo;

“No thanks. What kinds of cars do you have in the mid-size category? rdquo;

“Chrysler PT Cruiser rdquo;

This was a lie. The Internet advertised Chrysler Seabring or the like, which is a lot larger rdquo;

“What “s your airline? rdquo;

“Oh, with this airline I can upgrade you to a convertible or Chrysler Seabring for $15 a day rdquo;

“I don “t need it rdquo;

“Do you want to prepay for gas, and in this case you can return your car without the need to fill the tank. We “ll fill it for you ndash; our price now is $3.85 a gallon, which is cheaper than at any gas station rdquo;

“I don “t believe this. Usually rental cars charge a lot more for the gas rdquo;

“No, it “s $3.85 for a gallon rdquo;

“OK. rdquo;

“Are you sure you don “t want to upgrade to a convertible rdquo;

“No, I want to get out of here asap rdquo;

She prints the rental doc, and I see that she added $68 to the initial price.

“What “s this? rdquo;

“You “ve agreed to prepay for the gas, so you can return the car with the tank as empty as you can. rdquo;

How do you like that? If on the moment of return you “ll have a half or three quarter of the tank full, you already prepaid $68 for the rest. What a deal! I got an idea. I can sucked out the remaining gas into a canister and take it with me. I “m not sure though if the airline will allow me to board the plane with the canister of gas. Nay, too risky.

“No, I don “t want this pre-paid gas deal. Redo the whole thing ndash; I “ll return you the car full of gas rdquo;.

When I went to the parking lot to pick up the car, it was Chrysler Seabring. She was playing all these games knowing that I “m entitled to Seabring and she had one.

Budget Rent-a-Car is full of shit.

Good night.

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