Please, help me, oh wise ones in the corner store by Cooper Union.

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Random Observation/Comment #128: “If you’re good at something, never do it for free” unless you’re really nice like the STA travel magical helpers.  These guys didn’t have wings, halos, tails, horns, excessive fur, additional limbs, or disproportionate body parts – I checked.  They’re just that one-stop shop, fully utilizing the Internet at their fingertips.  Bless you.

If anything is taught to the “Engineers of our future,” it’s the warning of reinventing the wheel.  I think the emphasis of this school developmental process is not memorization, but the personal optimization of internal algorithms, data structures, and subroutines.  What I mean is; we’re all just learning how to learn and use our resources wisely.  If everyone started from scratch, we’d never keep up with Moore’s law.  It’s like asking someone who wants to write a book to build a typewriter and invent ink, first.  At some point, we must accept our technology and propel it as a tool.  That’s what makes us, as homo-sapiens, special – our developed frontal lobes give us the ability to plan ahead and use tools.

Although this concept is easy to spot around us (just take a look at any invention and see how it’s commercialized to offer a more convenient way to perform a task), it’s terribly difficult to follow as an engineer.  This rule of not reinventing the wheel would work if the world wasn’t filled with such incompetence.  Sometimes your project is built with metal bars and the parts that you’re given are made of plastic Legos.  The functionality of that little wheel might exist, but it just doesn’t fit.  Duct-tape might work, but where’s the aesthetic appeal in that? I speak for all engineers when I say that we’ve had those frustrating moments when we’re completely perplexed by how much time and hair would have been saved if they simply wrote a few lines of documentation.  Isn’t it great to see comments around functions that simply say, “/*Fix this later */.”

Never the less, it’s useful to have references and it’s obvious that we all have different ways of thinking.  Replacing this unique individualism with a hive mind would be amazing with instant communication, but it would lose that “thinking out of the box” shyt everyone keeps talking about (just say “synergy” and I’m sure some business-major will jizz in his pants).

Oddly enough, planning a trip is similar to writing a computer program.  Well, it’s actually nothing like writing a computer program except for this one thing (and even that one thing doesn’t really tie in that well).  A lot of people have traveled the world and they’ve felt their need to express their feelings about this privilege through their pictures, books, reviews, blogs, or well-paid television series.  I’ve emphasized the research phase of travel planning in previous entries, but I should mention again that no one knows what you want to see, better than yourself.  Some people love nature, while others love museums, so plan your trip according to your own (and travel partner’s) desires.  Remember the purpose of this trip – is this a honeymoon or vacation or self-help book in the making?  How does this relate to computer programming?  I don’t remember.  Moving on…

Someone actually found vacation planning to be a viable job market – go figure.  This means that there are angels in matching shirts, ready to book your flights, hotels, transportation, and give suggestions on places to visit with great prices.  If this isn’t in STA Travel’s motto or mission statement, it probably should be:  “Here at STA Travel, we understand the value of exploring the world safely and within your budget.  A live representative is waiting inside and ready to fulfill your travel planning needs.  ::rawr::”

Obviously they can’t do all the work for you – you have to know when and where you’re going, and how much money you’re willing to spend.   Actually, that’s about it.  I told them the days I’d like to travel and places I’d like to go along the way, and they just printed out the plane tickets (after paying them, of course).  Even if you have your own connections with travel agencies, I would suggest using STA travel as a major research resource.  Learn about where you want to go, and then speak with them to see if it’s possible within your timeline and budget.  They’ll help you solve the NP complete problem and tell you the must-see places along the way.  They’ve done this so many times that they know exactly what you need to plan a fun vacation at a reasonable price.

By the way, I am not getting paid by STA travel to write this (although I would like to – actually this blog would be quite an elaborate sham for an advertisement).  They honestly work efficiently and walk you through the checklist to make sure your itinerary can, at least, prevent a few heart attacks from your worried parents.  Poor planning will probably build a terrible plot for an action/horror movie.  Imagine showing up to a foreign country without these essentials: Accommodations, Local activities, Transportation, and clean socks.  It would be a horror movie, for sure. (And I would watch it, enjoy the suspense during the movie, and then complain about how bad it was afterwards).

~See Lemons Happy to Receive a Helping Hand