...constantly searching to find the best travel deals and places to visit. A never-ending quest for adventure!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pre-flight checkin

Hello - just a quick check-in from Boston Logan as I'm getting ready to depart for my next leg to Zurich, and then on to Rome.

I got here plenty early for the flight, and took advantage of an upgrade deal to score a business class seat to Zurich, which will be very nice for the sleep part.

For those who might be wondering where I'm going, I will be ending up in Doha, Qatar on the night of January 3rd for a three credit independent study trip which will be round one of research for my dissertation. I'll be doing interviews and classroom observations, which i hope will be very successful. But before i get there, I'm stopping over in Rome for a few days...why not? And I shall try to keep up with things here as I go.

Here's hoping all goes well on the first leg of this adventure. All those who are interested in trekking with me just let me know - you are more than welcome.

A few items of note thus far:

1. The security line was just me...no one else was in line. The TSA looked extremely bored. I was almost tempted to ask for a special screening just to give them something to do.
2. The Lufthansa lounge where I am sitting right now is only one room, and no free Internet. When are these lounges going to figure out that internet should just be free if you're in here?
3. As I scan the room, I count...eight Apple products in use (laptops, ipads, phones), no pc's, and one game of Travel Settlers of Catan. Nice.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Here i go

My car is here...I am off to the airport. London and Chicago, here I come.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. If you're lucky, maybe you have snow on the ground where you are at, and can enjoy the time with friends and family.

It's hard to describe how Christmas has been for me this year, but I guess the best way to put it would be that I just feel hollow. This is always a time for reflection about the birth of Jesus and the miracle of His birth, and I want to be clear that I don't feel hollow about that - I'm very thankful for that. But other than that I find myself down, feeling empty.

Here's hoping everyone is having a great day, relaxing and celebrating the Savior's birth. And being safe, no matter where your travels take you.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

semester is almost done...

...hard to believe, but it's true. Almost done. At least for me.

I'm at 17 pages and counting for my final paper. Will be so happy when its done.



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

my fault

Yep...it's entirely my fault. 100%. It's been almost, how many weeks?, and I have not done an update here. There have been many travel items happening for me to blog about, but I've just been swamped. Between school and a ton of projects and homework, and work (trying to build out 14 new classrooms), there hasn't been much time to sit down and write.

Note to myself: need to get back into the swing here!

Especially since crazy things like the guy who didn't want to get scanned at the San Diego airport have happened. Check it out here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

flying in

One of my most favorite airlines to fly is British Airways (if you remember, I flew them last January in Business class to Doha for my Qatar trip using nothing but miles!). And, I was pleasantly surprised this last week with some news about BA - flying direct to San Diego.

The article is here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

love it...


Especially when the Swedish Chef shows up...

it has to be today

1. Couldn't get into work because I didn't have my keycard this morning
2. It's very gray and humid outside
3. As a result my allergies are going nuts
4. I also have a headache
5. Still not done with my writeup for class tonight, in which I have to do a small group presentation.

I'm grumpy.

Friday, October 1, 2010

And then Tuesday...

I was on the road again Tuesday, for a quick one day conference up in San Francisco for a company called Revolabs. They are makers of some incredible wireless microphone units we've been looking at to see if they might work for our lecture capture project.

I came away from the trip with a much better understanding of how to integrate their systems into classroom, and picked up a free spectrum analyzer along with it. Although, not everyone came away with the same appreciation for the information as I did (here comes a story...).

When I arrived I got a place about half way back in the room, so as not to be too eager, and our trainer Eric did a great job of breaking up the morning giving us about a 10 minute break or so each hour, even joking that he was going to take breaks just so that the people who know things already wouldn't fall asleep. But, as luck would have it, about halfway through the morning, all of us in the back began to hear a low growl, which turned itself into an all out snore. Some people really have the nerve. After lunch, I figured the guy probably got the hint, but would you believe he started in snoring again halfway through the afternoon????? So unprofessional.

Revolabs also took us out to a very nice steak dinner right by the airport, and I had the pleasure of sitting next to the trainer at the end of the table. It was nice to share some travel stories, as he travels globally for the company doing trainings (he's in Hong Kong I believe in November). After dinner, it was back to the airport for the flight home (1st class seat this time, thank you United free upgrades for Premier members) and then up for work early in the morning.

Just a very long 24-48 hours.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

a u-e?

I'm not even sure how to spell "uee", or, you-ee, or, that thing you do when you turn your car around on the road. Anyway. However you spell it, I did it yesterday on the 5. It was a weekend of travel (more like day) of travel for me, but after it was all said and done ended up not being too bad.

I had to drive to LA yesterday, and while normally I wouldn't just do something like that on a whim, I had a purpose. I had an interview with the Millenium Momentum Foundation for a scholarship downtown at the Wells Fargo building. I had applied for this scholarship a bunch of months ago, and when I didn't hear back I figured I hadn't gotten it. But, as it ended up, I got an email that said I was a finalist and to set aside Saturday at 11:45am for my interview.

So, knowing that traffic in downtown LA is never good even on weekends, I got myself up extra early and hit the road around 7:15a, figuring I'd hit some traffic and be right on time. What I wasn't expecting was the absence of the traffic. There was none. I also wasn't expecting to miss Exit 3 on the 101 (which I did) and had to drive a whole end past that and do my first "u-e" of the day. After the quick turnaround, I got off on Broadway and headed to the building. Except, I missed the parking garage entrance (since it isn't really signed very well) and because I was on a one-way street, I proceeded to drive around all discombobulated - I had my iPad with me for directions, but navigating the car whilst iPadding the map was a bit tricky and I wouldn't recommend it. After about 15 minutes I found myself driving in a big circle back to Hope St, and to the garage! I had made it. And I had only arrived...2.5 hours early. Lovely.

So now what do I do? The only thing I could do was sit in my car - I had free valet parking, but it had to be validated, so I couldn't go out and drive around. Plus, it just so happened to be 96 degrees outside, so walking around in my suit wasn't really an option either. After locating a restroom, I came back to the car and proceeded to do some of my readings for class this coming week. At least I could get something done.

Soon it was time for me to proceed up to the 54th floor, so after getting briefly lost in the lobby (there are TWO entrances to the building) I head up the elevator and wait for my turn - at this point, it is 11:15. I feel confident, and I'm early.

Except, unbeknown to me, they were running behind. A lot behind. In fact, so far behind that I didn't end up going into the actual interview until 2:15. PM. That would be almost 3 hours past when I was supposed to go. I learned a long time ago that you need to be flexible with these things, and I just kept telling my growling stomach that eventually I would meet the committee and then all would be well. And in the end, it wasn't a bad thing being later - it gave all of us finalists a chance to network and get to know each other. There were students from UCLA and USC, as well as from San Francisco. I had a very nice conversation with the interview panel, and hope to hear back from them soon.

After that, it was time to hit the road. Back to the 101, and then the 5. Except, while I had been up on the 54th floor having fun, the traffic gods decided that it was time to come out and play. The 101 was hardly moving, and when it transitioned to the 5, it got slightly worse. On a Saturday no less. I've got all the luck it would seem.

I was thankful when the stop and go nature of it finally subsided, I grabbed some food quickly off the highway, and was on my way. As I passed Disneyland and Angels stadium, I remember looking at it and thinking to myself about when I had gone up and touched the stadium on my TCW trip to CA, and how much fun we had. As I kept driving and almost got to Oceanside though, it hit me - the White Sox were playing the Angels this weekend! Wouldn't it be fun to go? So...I pulled "u-e" number 2 and headed back north as quickly as I could, traffic notwithstanding.

I found some cheap $5 parking, got myself a good ticket field level 3rd base side, and watched the White Sox win 6-2! Was a very fun time...when I eventually got back, it really had been a super long day. Driving to LA is no fun, except of course for a scholarship. Here's a pic or two of the game!

Monday, September 20, 2010

another morning pic

Yeah, there was just something about this that begged me to take a picture. I see all sorts of things when I walk to work in the morning...cars, homeless people digging in garbage cans, and even an occasional solitary cat.

Here's hoping that this week is a tad bit calmer. I've got so much reading to do though, that I'm almost not sure where to start. I guess at the beginning would make the most sense. I wish they'd make a machine that would suck all the reading stuff right into your brain...that would save me a lot of time.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

morning walk

There's nothing like a cool, morning walk...kinda like walking in thick soup.

Reminds me of an early Boston morning.

passing the time

Can't think of a better way to pass the time while you're delayed...

Would love to have seen this in person!

The report says that this was the Amsterdam Sinfonietta from the aisles of a KLM 747 flying from Shanghai. The group had just performed in Shanghai, and was heading back home. When the delay stretched toward an hour, members of the Sinfonietta grabbed their instruments and struck up some music.

Check it out :

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day #2

Dear SDSU Chiller Plant:

Many thanks for still being broken. Looks like you won't be fixed until this weekend.

It's 87 right now in office, a new record.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

heat wave

Dear SDSU Chiller Plant:

Thank you for breaking today, especially the main pipe to campus.

It's now 85 today in my office.


Looking to use Dropbox?

If you're interested in using Dropbox, or exploring how to use it, please feel free to use this referral link:



Sunday, August 22, 2010

Walking the Amazon

I only stumbled onto this recently, but this man just got through walking the entire Amazon...as in, along the river from its start to the Atlantic...first person to do it. In 859 days.

I've only started reading, but its pretty amazing.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

another week done

I'm very happy to have made it through this last week. It was probably one of the most trying weeks at work that I've had in a very long time, as we tried to button up several new construction projects and new classrooms. One of our largest rooms, being converted out of old gym space, is still a tad behind but is due to be done this week. At least, that's the plan. Some HVAC was vandalized in the space two weeks ago, so they're still playing catch up.

In the travel department, my next trip on the docket will be a quick day trip to San Francisco in September for a RevoLabs workshop - we're looking to add their products to our Lecture Capture project, and they've had great reviews so far. Guess we'll see how that works out.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

only 20 moves for a Rubik's Cube?

I wonder what computers they used too...


here it is

I've not been very good about writing here as of late, but I hope to rectify that situation starting with this post. The last few weeks have been a tad bit nuts with trips all over the place, but thankfully all flights and travels went well and now I'm back in the swing towards the start of the semester (jet lag finally going away). Yikes.

Today is a 4x10 day for me, so I've been taking things easy. I woke up this morning not feeling 100% - we'll see how I'm doing tomorrow as far as work goes. Not sure if it was something I ate last night or not...could have been maybe. Better to be safe than sorry these days with things going around. The White Sox are playing the Twins on WGN tonight too, so I will take the opportunity to watch them on TV which will be nice.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

bring on the hot

My updates here have been a tad bit slow, but that's only because it seems like I've been running around like crazy the last bunch of days. Besides work and everything else going on, I made a trip back home for my brother's wedding - just a tad bit of a crazy time but he's all married up. Got to spend some time at the farm too:

Tomorrow I'll be in Imperial Valley with Rudy and Kao working on some needed classroom fixes.

Forcasted temperature for Imperial Valley tomorrow: 110 F.

Guess I won't forget my sunscreen.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

now this is different

An American Airline flight made an emergency landing this last week, on an out-of-the-way "tundra-carpeted" island in the far-north Pacific Ocean.

American Airlines Flight 175 from Dallas/Fort Worth to Tokyo had to land in Alaska, arriving safely at the Eareckson Air Station on the state's remote Shemya Island Sunday afternoon

The island, at the far western edge of the Aleutian Island archipelago, is actually closer to Russia's East Coast than it is to most of Alaska. The island is about located about 1,500 miles from Anchorage -- Alaska's biggest city -- and about 2,000 from its original destination of Tokyo.

The Associated Press sets the scene, writing that after arriving "on the treeless, tundra-carpeted island, the mood among the passengers ranged from fear to the thrill of such an experience in the middle of nowhere, said Maj. Spencer T. Van Meter, 611th Air Support Squadron commander at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage. He also described passengers as 'very happy and appreciative.' "

The Tokyo-bound flight made the emergency landing in Alaska after a fire warning light malfunctioned, an AA spokesman said Monday. AP reports "it turned out there was no fire, despite the warning light from a cargo compartment of the Boeing 777. [AA spokesman Tim Smith] said the 197 passengers were evacuated while cargo was removed. No injuries were reported."

That's quite an adventure...in the middle of nowhere, no less. Guess they couldn't all get off the plane to go to the bathroom.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Morning...already Wednesday here. Short weeks are nice.

Realized I haven't written in here for a few days, but did my best to enjoy the last holiday weekend. I think I succeeded.

Next week I'm off to WI for my brother's wedding. Busy busy.

Monday, June 28, 2010

cloudy Monday

What is it about homeless people garbage-can diving? As I walked to work this morning, it was a 50 year old lady behind some house...if you're gonna do it, don't tiptoe or sneak around. It's less obvious to those of us who see you that you're probably not supposed to be behind the house. Wish I would have taken a picture but my hands were full of donuts.

Definitely a June Gloom day to start.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day 6

It's Thursday, and here we are - already the Inaugural is tonight, and all of the guys are out voting for their candidate for Governor. Been a pretty good week overall so far, and tonight is the capstone before the guys begin a day and half of working state government. As far as past Badger Boys State's have gone, I think this one has probably been the smoothest, including the rain we had earlier in the week. Even taking the picture last night went without TOO much of a hitch.

My band has done an outstanding job - I'm always impressed by our first rehearsal and immediate assembly, and now the guys are really into the groove. I have a number that will 'guest' conduct starting tomorrow, so that will be fun too. I'll try to sneak a picture or two tonight and post later. Tonight's speakers include Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, and Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton.

Will be a long night.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 4/5

No assembly on Tuesday night - not a bad thing. It's the almost mid-point of the week where everyone is running for offices, getting elected, and finding out how the campaign week works. There's always a buzz of excitement...its fun to see how the guys react to all of this stuff.

I even got to eat some Johnny V's today! Such fun.

Our assembly tonight was a tad bit odd, as we had two counties awol for the start due to the photo, and then the colors were called back early when they weren't supposed to. Oops. Made it through...tomorrow night is Inaugural!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day 3...more fun

Enjoyable day for the most part, culminating in our evening assembly and featured speaker JB Van Hollen.

Only thing...he was late arriving. I get the word with only one more song to go before we're supposed to start, and am asked to 'stall'. A conductor's worst nightmare in most cases. :) But not in my case - we grabbed another song, and off we went. No problem.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 2...a tad late

Sorry this is a bit later than I thought...was going to post last night but it just got too late.

Our assembly went well last night - no big problems to speak of. The featured speaker was Charles Wiley, a very well-known journalist who is a great speaker for the guys.

Got back and had our post-assembly meeting, and then I tried my best to stay awake and stay up to work on some things and be online...unfortunately tiredness got the better of me.

Now on to Day #3. Looks like I might be able to do lunch with my sister on Tuesday. That will be nice.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Day 1 craziness

Just not feeling right today. Maybe it's the humidity or whatever, but I've had better days. I must persevere though...have no choice. I hope i get out of this funk.

I spent my morning running around and trying to setup my band stuff, although I didn't get much help and ended up hoofing a lot of it myself. That's ok.

Registration was supposed to start at 1pm, except all of a sudden the word came they started 15 minutes early for some reason. Good thing i wasn't in the gym yet (sarcasm). Argh.

Then we were supposed to be done at 3:30 for meetings to start, except that buses were late and i didn't get out until almost 5. Not good, plus i still had to figure out how to seat the 91 guys i have in the band and maybe eat still.

Thankfully, it all came together well tonight and we made it through. Thank goodness.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Made it

I hate Frontier.

Maybe hate is too strong a word, but I highly dislike it regardless. Reasons?

Well to start, i have yet to not stand in line at the ticket counter for less than 40 minutes to check in. Why do airlines only schedule one person to do check in for a flight of several hundred?

Second, seat rules are dumb. I was sitting in my aisle seat next to a large overweight woman when finally they closed the doors and we were going to leave. In front of me was one guy alone in a row of three to himself. He promptly moved to the window when the door shut. So, a seat open in front of me, I thought it the neighborly thing to do and move up to give this lady (and me) more space. So I moved, got in, and the large lady decides to ask the flight attendant if it's ok her friend moves up to sit next to her. Dumb. Meanwhile on my right, another lady has risen to move to the open seat in front of her opposite me. Now the flight attendant has a problem with all this moving as the friend moves in by the large lady. She tells the person on my right she can't move up because these are the "special" seats, and makes her go back. But, she ends up letting me stay in my new seat...after all of that.

This same flight attendant almost an hour later only gives me ONE chocolate chip cookie...I had to ask to get the second. Dumb.

My flight was slightly delayed in leaving SD, but ive made it safe. Now on to the fun at will commence.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, June 11, 2010

off again

Packing is always so hard.

Why can't someone invent a machine to just pack a suitcase for you, thereby alleviating the need for you to actually have to sit there and figure out how to fit everything in? Would make life a whole lot simpler.

I'm nearly all together again, having just unpacked and now repacked for the trip back to BBS. I will be updating again while I'm there, as I should have Internet for the entire week.

Here's hoping everything is on time today. A small tear in my eye for the fact I'll be flying on a Frontier plane today called 'Midwest'. Sad.

Started to add pictures...most of the May entries are complete.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

pictures to come

As promised, I will be adding pictures shortly to my various posts from the UK and Germany, so stay tuned for those as they pop up for each. I took over 400 on the trip, so I've got a few to choose from.

Prep for BBS continues...I've got a good head start on my rehearsal schedule, and also planned performance pieces. My flight leaves mid-morning on Friday and arrives later afternoon to Mitchell direct. Pretty happy about that...nothing will get lost.

I've got a few errands to run before I leave...was thinking I might try to get myself another pair of jeans before I go. Its another good excuse to also check out what's new at the Apple Store. :)

I'm also pretty psyched about earning Premier status on United after this last round of flights...no bag fees for all of next year!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

back in SD

Made it back in one piece to San Diego, and back at work today. Ugh. My system is jetlaggin', and all messed up. But hopefully that will subside soon.

Friday I'm off to BBS...whirlwind week of travel.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bon voyage

We're about to board...all on time so far.

Next stahallte: Philadelphia

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Winding down

A little hard to believe that it's already Sunday and the trip is winding down. Time flew by but I think G&G had a really fun time.

My time in Heidelberg was good...missed Leah but I know she's living it up in Poland. Was nice to have a little me time and relax. I walked for a while yesterday and just enjoyed the time to check out the town again. So many little shops to choose from. Couldn't find many wine shops though...too bad.

Tomorrow we leave not too early in the morning for frankfurt's airport and our ride back home. I'm sure thankful I was able to do this trip. Will write more from Frankfurt when we get checked in. I hope the flights are all one time

Quite a bit to when i get back before I head out to BBS on Friday. Busy busy.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Here we go to Oberammergau

Friday so far...and into Saturday:

1. Got up on time - 3am is early

2. Forgot printed out train sheet at house (argh)

3. Left contacts at house in bathroom.

4. Made it to Munich but train track work meant schedules were all mixed up. (sigh)

5. Met man at station who just flew back from Riyadh and Doha, Qatar. :-)

6. After all that still on time to make it for check in.

7. Anyone going to the play should be required to shower before it starts. It was a very smelly night for me between two large guys.

8. Free Wifi at the hotel made me very happy.

9. Here for the first two sunny days in three weeks of rain = score for us.

10. Dinner at the restaurant - we were joined by three little old ladies from Norway, one of whom was from the same area in Norway where i need to do my genealogy! Remarkable coincidence. And info exchanged.

11. The play was awesome. Very well done. G&G were so glad they could come. Me too.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, June 3, 2010

On the road again...

Thurs 10:38a

...and off to Karlsruhe and our next stop. No problems getting on the train this morning, and it will be about five hours to get there.

Probably wont have a ton of time to write tonight, as we will need to sleep early and be up to catch the train to Oberammergau at 4:00a. That's not going to be fun.

We made it safely to Otto's house, and of course received a warm welcome. They are also so very happy to have us come and stay, and just being able to visit I think is very special. They have quite the greenery around their house too...

Excellent wine was also consumed by all. After all, we are in Germany.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Oof, was it hard to wake up this morning. Not sure why, but I could have slept in all day today. Was kinda blah and not feeling well either this morning, fortunately am doing better now. I blame the spargel.

After a nice breakfast this morning, we were up and out for some local fare. First stop was Aldi. I'm not sure exactly what the fascination is with Aldi, and I don't think I've shopped there once in my life. But G&G sure do like it. It just seems to me to be a jumbled mess of products all smushed together on shelves. We also stopped so grandma could get some Rennie.

Next we were on to the local outdoor market, that was actually very full of people and vendors. It was fun to see the neat German cakes and other food...fish from Amsterdam! Was a bit cool though...no sun this morning.

In the afternoon Ruth took us to Detmold to see the castle and the sun finally came out. We had a cranky old tour guide guy lead us, who also chided me for taking pictures. I took a few anyway. Just because he was cranky. (one highlight from the tour was seeing a clavichord that Brahms used to give lessons when he was in residence). Then afterwards we drove back to another small town and stopped for a quick break to have some cake at Haus Berkenkamp. Strawberry. Yum.

The resident cat :)
Tonight after dinner, as a surprise we went to Burg Sparrenberg which overlooks Bielefeld. Got many good pictures that I will share later (Below). And soon, it will be time for schlafen.

Overall, not a bad day. Tomorrow we leave for Karlsruhe.

PS - Did I mention Ruth has an amazing house? Pictures below.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

10 items of note for the trip so far

Figured it might fun to share, in no particular order.

1. I really like European breakfasts. Just something about the rolls, meat, and kuchen. That being said...

2. ...I've had so much spargel this trip it might just be coming out of my ears. Whole spargel, cooked spargel, even spargel soup. Wanna guess what dinner was tonight? More spargel.

3. Coke definitely tastes better over here. Not yet sure why...might have to google it later.

4. All this ethnic environment over here, yet we have to listen to "Eternal Flame" on the radio during our first fancy lunch with Erika.

5. Breakfast this morning at the Pommern Zentrum was to "The Ketchup Song". Yikes.

6. Watching grandma look out on the countryside as we zipped along.

7. I'm 6/6 on train catching so far (knocking on wood)

8. Only one iPad battery charge needed.

9. I really do like well-prepared Schnitzel.

10. Not having the ability to upload pics from my camera is a little frustrating.

Next stop, Bielefeld


Currently zipping along at 200 km/hr on an ICE train to Bielefeld, and figured I'd write a quick note. We've made our connections well so far, and this is our longest ride of the day. We'll make one more stop in Hannover before switching to the last train. I think G&G's friend will pick us up when we get there. Not sure what food for tonight will be.

Everyone sure likes the train scenery so far. Many of the planted fields are just coming up and the farmers are out.

Sleep last night was so great. I zonked out right away. Woke up this morning, showered and got ready before we quickly went to the church on the property because Erika wanted me to meet the Dr. guy who plays the organ at the church. The organ there was very nice, and unfortunately I didn't have anything along to play. But the Dr. guy whipped out one of Bach's Orgelwerks books and did quite the demo. Woulda needed some practice time for that. I think he was quite pleased.

After a nice breakfast spread of meat and bread, we parted ways with Erika to the train. She was so happy we could come. Soon to be to our next adventure.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, May 31, 2010

Travemunde, here we come

Probably one of the only major fears I had about this trip was not being able to get to the right German places on time. The last thing I wanted to have happen was for this part of the trip to get messed up, as these are G&G's special friends and places to go. I'm very happy to report though that after a very early morning, a very fast flight, and a round about drive we have successfully made it to Travemunde! Thank goodness. (good sigh). Here are the fun details...

An early morning flight from Gatwick meant an even earlier morning departure, so naturally the fear of not hearing the alarm go off meant that none of us got any sleep last night. I put earplugs in and still didn't sleep well. So when 3am finally rolled around, it didn't take long for us to get ready.

Our cab was on time and it was off to Victoria station to catch the train...or so I thought. The plan was to catch the 4:30a train to the airport, but our wonderful cabby offered to take us all the way for less money than the train tickets. Score! An hour later we were at Gatwick, checked in, and munching on some breakfast (no beans this time).

Our flight was called on time, and after a quick tarmac walk to board, we were off. No flight problems at all, and we landed on time to Hamburg with our bags waiting for us. Then the fun began.

(:30 commentary - my goal of having enough German vocab learned at this point to at least let myself feel functional was not at all reached. That being said, I am just in awe of my grandparents. They can step right in and be conversing the minute they walk off the plane. I'm so thankful to be here.)

First time in the Hamburg airport, so naturally I'm not sure where the trains are exactly, but within about five minutes we had them found and we were down to the tracks and going (no attendant meant taking a chance our passes weren't stamped, but thankfully we didn't get stopped and thrown off). Hamburg's main train station was not at all marked for main regional trains, so after getting the passes stamped, and only miss-climbing one set of stairs, we found our train to Lubeck in first class.

Pictures will be added later, but I really think G&G liked being able to ride the train and see the countryside pass by. It's very different than driving a car. And i would say a little nervousness about the unknown of doing this type of new travel soon wore off. That is, until we got to Lubeck and had to switch to go to Travemunde.

For some reason, we were told the trains were not running there and our only option was a bus. I like busses. They tend to like me. :-) But in this case, it was very confusing...everyone we asked said to do something different. Finally, the 30 bus was located and we hopped on for a 35 minute ride to our next stop, which we hoped was the same as where we were supposed to go. Thankfully it was and we made the slow walk up the hill toward the Pommern Center, after confirming exactly where Erika lives. She was so happy to see G&G it almost can't be described.

The next few hours were a bit of a whirlwind. Erika took us out to eat at 3:30...i had the largest schnitzel I think I've ever had and it was so good. Plus, it was my first time to see the Baltic. Travemunde is right on the water, and i got some nice pictures. After that we went back to the center for dessert, and that's when my tiredness started to catch up with me. I haven't had to fight that kind if tiredness in a long time, but Grandpa was fighting the same. Eventually we had to head out for dinner again, which for me and Grandpa meant soup, and also two Jaeger shots (it is Germany after all). Now after all that, I'm really tired. Really. Tired. Oh my goodness so tired.

Sleep shall happen soon. Cant wait.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday touring

"Mind the Gap." Those announcements never get old.

Hard to believe its already almost 5... The day sure sped by. We just got back to the room to wind down a bit now before the evening is upon us. We will sleep early tonight so we can catch the morning flight from Gatwick to Hamburg on Easyjet. Hope its as easy as they claim.

Let's see...where should I start.

We got up this morning and were able to try the free 'english breakfast', which actually was quite good. Eggs, toast, sausage, ham, and baked beans. Very yum (of course, I avoided the beans). G&G sure liked them though.

Then we hit the road to Sloane Square to try to see the flower show. Except that it ended yesterday. Whoops. So we walked sound the square and then headed down toward London Bridge (which was not falling down). We took some pictures of the The Monument and the tower then walked on the river walk toward the Tower of London. We decided to not go in to see the Crown Jewels, but rather walk around the castle which was very fun. The Tower Gardens were in bloom, and there were also medieval demonstrations to watch. I got a quick bite (G&G were still full on beans) and we hit the train for Green Park and Buckingham Palace. The weather was so great today...sun and a nice breeze that made walking and picture taking very easy. Ducks and swans a plenty. We even took a 15 minute lawn chair siesta until the keeper guy came around and wanted money from us. Oops. We ran away...

...to TRAFALGAR SQUARE! (just for Shannon). We found Grandma a UK map, and then I thought it might be fun to swing by Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (where we sang on WLC choir tour). Great memories of course (mostly of our performance and when my recording gear burned out and caught fire during warmup on the Steinway). They've completely redone the shop area into a wide open spot for walking and rehearsing. Very nice. We decided to get some food in the shop, so G&G had some soup and I had apple crumble. Mmm.

After a quick listen to evensong choir song warmups we headed back (they're doing Brahms Requiem next week). Now shall commence relax time and probably packing up.

A good day had by all. I'm very happy that London has turned out very well. Now, on to leg #2.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The end of Saturday

Finally back after a very long day. G&G had a very wonderful time as we next visited Stonehenge and Bath. The weather cooperated sort of as the rain came on and off and tended to just be a bit of an irritation.

What we didn't expect was traffic...it took almost 1.5 hrs to get to Stonehenge and lunch. After getting stopped and at a standstill in the road, as most of the bus slept, Grandma's announcement to the tour leader was, "well, this must be the slow boat to China.". Love it. She soon fell asleep though, and fun pictures will follow. :-)

Stonehenge was very rainy, and had lots of people, but was nice to walk around and see. It was at the end of this walk and back to the bus where i talked with another older couple from our bus who went on about how wonderful it was to visit here. When i asked why, the guy (i believe his name was Mikhail) told me he never was able to travel with his family in his job for thirty years. I asked him what he did, and he said he was in music and i said I was too and that I was a vocalist. That's when he told me he was a Principal violinist for the Moscow Philharmonic for years and now lives in CA. (!) Had a very nice chat with him and his wife. We also had a very fun time getting to know another person from the states, Beth, who just moved to London temporarily for her work. And, another couple from San Diego was also glad to talk for a long time about the Padres and Chargers. Too much fun.

Bath was equally as nice, but I was disappointed that we only had an hour there due to us being late. The ruins were very great to see, and unfortunately there were a ton of people to wade through. Then we hit the trail for our 1.5 hr ride back to London and some quick dinner. The day is done.

The Bath is still steaming!

Not sure on tomorrow yet. Maybe the tower of London will call our names.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Windsor castle 11:45a

Of course, it had to start to rain JUST as we were entering the outer gate of Windsor. Not torrential, but still enough to be annoying. Who forgot his umbrella at home? That would be me.

Our first stop was the Queen's Dollhouse area. I think Grandma really liked the house and the dolls around there. Most date back to the late 1800's/early 1900's.

(:10 random diatribe of the day: what are the chances for me to be trampled by a Japanese tour group while on a castle tour? Apparently pretty good. I hate being stepped on.)

The state apartments were very nice, but an 11:30 meet up time meant a quick exit as the changing of the guard was commencing. Overall not bad...even getting Grandma in her rain poncho was fast.

Now we are off to Stonehenge and lunch. Rain, rain, go away.

As a side note: since the iPad was just released in the UK yesterday, every time I get it out to write I've been a pretty popular guy. Word is that queues were very long here to get them. Everyone wants to see it and I'm happy to oblige - gives me a chance to practice one on one training too in a few cases. No problems as yet...it functions well on the O2 and Vodaphone 3G networks and wifi is fast. A few apps have crashed on occasion but not too bad.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday morning tour time 10a

And...we're off! Made it to our pickup point this morning early, and now we are on the move for tour time. It's still a surprise for G&G so far, but we are heading to Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and the Queens Dollhouses, plus to Bath to see the Roman Baths. It's not raining yet either, so that's promising.

Sleeping last night was ok. Being on the basement level I thought we would get cold, but instead it was quite warm. Was nice to sleep in a proper bed though. Grandma said she thought she heard noises overnight...i told her it might have been the boogie man.

I'm glad that our place is near the train stop...makes it much easier to get out and about.

Still pinching myself that I'm back in London. Even more fun that G&G are here too. Best comment heard so far: "well I just can't believe how old everything is..."

This guy was crazy good.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, May 28, 2010

Made it

We made it. Got through customs pretty fast (considering it was a long line) and then got to the Underground. Filled the oyster cards and as I was in line to get a ticket for me, a girl ran by and gave me her day pass since she didn't need it any more. Score one for me!

Got to the hotel and room which is very close to the train. Will do a review on it later.

Time for a nap.

First time on the Tube!

North Sea Fish and Chips...yum.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

PHL-LHR. We finally take off

After a delay which seemed to take forever, we finally made it airborne out of Philly. Our primary issue was mostly the weather as rain and lightning halted ramp operations. That caused a major flight backup to the tune of 50 planes waiting to take off right as we were boarding.

Then after finally getting on the plane, the captain told us that we were number 25 in line...another 30 minutes at least before we leave. not fun. Finally our turn came and off we went. Finally. Only 2.5 hours late. With no ability to use electronic devices.

Our food was fair - chicken and rice. Had a chance to watch Sherlock Holmes. Sleeping was another matter. The cabin for the most part is quiet but the light from the restrooms is just bright enough to annoy. So...how to remedy? No eye cover means a sweatshirt turned backwards makes a hood a good face cover. Finally some rest. That is, until i'm shaken awake for a restroom break. Me in the lucky aisle seat.

Here's hoping the tube is running on time...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Here we go! SAN-PHL

This post is being written from 35000 feet as I make my way from San Diego to Philly. The flight so far has been smooth with no real problems. I even got my luggage on without needing to check anything (sorry Jon). Yay for some vacation and family time. My brain needs a break.

Was a tad hectic getting on...why do the gate personnel see fit to constantly announce how many minutes they have left to get us boarded? Telling me in a hurried voice you have 6 minutes left to get 36 of us boarded is not going to make us sit faster and get bags stowed. And after all of that hurrying, we ended up sitting on the plane for almost 20 minutes anyway. At least they serve Coke on these flights...

There is a lady across the aisle who is using a Palm to play Bejeweled right now...people still use Palm (or should I say HP) devices???

Props to Airbus on the newer A321 planes...much more roomy than the old 319's and 320's but the overhead bin rattle on takeoff and landing needs some serious attention. Luggage nearly flew out when a bin opened up.

My seat mate (christina) is on hher way back to NH having just visited and surprised her bf in San Diego who is in the Navy on the Halsey. I enjoy having nice seat mates who understand how to fly.

When i land it will be off to the next gate in the hopes that Grandma and Grandpa made it. I hope that their flight is all on time and they make it to the right gate. Philly is kinda big...

Yay for iPad apps to pass the time.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day before departure

It's been a good day overall, with lots to catch up with before I head out tomorrow. The team did an outstanding job with GMCS 333's speaker installation, and I'm proud of the way the room has been upgraded since its original setup. I think that faculty will be very happy with the audio in the space.

Tonight will be mad packing, and final things before I head out tomorrow from here at 11am to Philadelphia first, then onward to London with the grandparents.

I also will be blogging (I hope) as I go, and doing some testing with a new tool that I have to work with. I'm curious to see how well it works on the foreign networks and data systems.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

SDSU Commencement


I'm happy to report that we are nearly wrapping up our technical and broadcast responsibilities for SDSU's 2010 Commencement exercises. It's been a long weekend, filled with occasional glitches and hiccups, but for the most part things have been very successful. Our broadcasts to Cox Cable and Time Warner have been well produced by the staff, and David and Bill should be commended for their attention to detail and follow through on our final product being seen by San Diego County residents. The general staff also deserves a round of thanks for their work on Friday and in preparation of equipment before the recognition ceremonies started.

Being here this weekend also allowed me to work on a number of projects in the hopper for summer building, and gave me some focus time for scheduling. Monday-Wed of this week is finishing up a speaker installation in GMCS (before I jet out on Thursday).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Long week ahead

Here we are at the start of the long week of the semester, also known as Commencement Week. The festivities kick off tomorrow morning with some testing, a final test on Thursday before the broadcasts and ceremonies start Friday morning.

I made it back in one piece from La Crosse this weekend, visiting home for my brother's graduation from College. He's already got a good job for the summer, and I'm so proud of him for his work and for graduating with honors! I was happy to make it, and my flights were all on time with no major issues to report. I had to rent another car from MSP, but it ended up only costing me $29. Quite a steal! Plus it was nice to spend time with mom and dad, and also see Aleah and Laura. So cute!

Bring on the week ahead - tomorrow night is my last class of the semester and final presentation. Almost done!

(and...it looks like I may be heading back to Qatar in January...stay tuned)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wrapping up...sort of

Good morning, all -

I am happy to report that I am nearly done with the semester - one paper and one presentation to go next Monday. Can't wait.

In the meantime I'll be on the road back to WI for my brother's graduation in the morning - shall be a short trip since I've still got homework to finish up, but will be nice to be back with the fam for a short time.

Let's hope this Orbitz itinerary holds up...last one was interesting.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

the week ahead

Good evening, all -

Figured I needed to do an update, as this week promises to be a long one. Tomorrow night is my first presentation evening for my 608 class, where a 10 minute academic presentation awaits me. Tuesday night is my final class for 579, and I also have a 20 minute presentation to do for that one. Lucky me. Wednesday night I hopefully will go and practice a little, since Thursday is the Joint Ascension service that I have to play for. And then Friday morning very early I'm on the road again to my brother's graduation, which should get me back here on Saturday in time to finish up my final paper for 608 which is due next Monday. It also will let me prep for the 2nd presentation for the 608 class next week Monday night. Then, that class will also be over, as will my first year of doctoral classes. (sigh) Yikes.

Almost there.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

did you get entered?

For a trip on the new Airbus A380 - for free!

Hope everyone was able to enter!

Trip of a Lifetime

US youngsters too fat to fight?

Some of our generals think so...

Blamed on post-school lunch laws? That might be a bit of a stretch...no pun intended.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

what to do

Very rarely do I encounter a time where I'm generally unmotivated. There always seems to be something of an inner drive that pushes me forward, whacking me upside the head when I'd rather be just not doing something or otherwise procrastinating. And maybe it's just the rather long and stressful week I've had at work and trying to make sure that things are steady with projects and other events going on. But I must say...in regards to homework and writing papers right now...

I am unmotivated.

I'm not truly in the mode of procrastinating, per say. It's not that I'm looking for an excuse just to not sit down and write the paper. And I'm not finding myself doing other specific things that would be taking me away from writing.

I just don't want to do it.

I have a plan to write it this week, with a bulk of the plan to do the work happening this weekend. I'm confident I will reach my goal, and conquer this paper.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

ash ash and more ash

Hello everyone - I hope you're enjoying a nice weekend so far and getting a lot done.

I continue to be amazed at the news reports and stories coming from travelers in England and Europe proper. Continued flight cancellations and airport closures across Europe are causing empty airspace that hasn't been seen since WW2. Stories of stranded people in airports on cots and other passengers taking taxi rides for thousands of dollars across Europe continue to show how much these natural disasters impact daily lives. Here's the main gist of one story:

Mike Gore from Redditch: "We have just arrived home after a 2,000 euro ($2,700, £1,760) taxi ride from Courchevel in the French Alps. We are five adults and three young children.

"It was a tough decision to outlay the extra cash, which cannot be recovered from insurance, but with deteriorating prospects of a flight home any time soon and the cost of hotels in France, we are just relieved to be home having a nice cuppa.

"The taxi driver, Matt, has still got to get back and explain to his wife, as the fare was originally only to Geneva Airport."

I'm honestly thankful I'm not traveling overseas in anyway right now...except for the possible adventure something like this might provide for a vacation. Can you imagine a few extra days in Paris or Zurich because there's not a single airplane flying in Europe?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

the end of Midwest Airlines

Alas...it is official.


Even though the cookies might stay, its a sad day. So much for Midwest being an elite-style airline. That is now but a thing of the past.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

United Airlines incident

Maybe its just that I'm much more attuned to Qatari news since I was recently there, but this is just crazy...

There was an incident tonight on a United flight to Denver with a Qatari diplomat. They even scrambled jets.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Northern Mexico/Southern CA earthquake today

Hi all -

If you haven't seen or heard the news, southern California just experienced the effects of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that originated in northern Mexico, just to the south of Mexicali (which incidentally is also close to SDSU's Imperial Valley Campus in Calexico and third campus in Brawley).

This officially was my first earthquake that I've felt, and Karl had the pleasure of being on Skype with me when the whole building started to shake. It actually shook so much for so long that my cuckoo clock on the wall started itself. Gotta admit it was a little unnerving to feel it and just sit there as the walls are rolling around you. I actually wasn't sure what to do at first...Karl asked if there was something I should be doing, and I just blurbed out that I had no idea. Guess I'll add it to my list of things to read up on pretty quickly.

Anyway, check out the map above for the intensity San Diego felt - we are in the moderate category.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

some news on Jetblue...

This week has turned into a travel-heavy news week...check out the word from Jetblue and American (the oneworld alliance just got better!):

In a move that seems likely to catch many industry observers by surprise, American Airlines announced this morning that it will form an alliance with New York-based JetBlue. The move comes amid increasing competition for the lucrative New York market, where Delta has been expanding during the past year. That has pitted Delta against several airlines with a major presence in the New York market, notably American, JetBlue and Continental.

More info.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Midwest/Delta part ways

Ever since Midwest gave up flying directly to San Diego, I've been rather ambivalent about trying to fly them, and in fact have reduced my mileage accrual in favor of other larger airlines and networks. When I did fly them, I accrued Delta miles, figuring that once everything stabilizes I could go back to Midwest in earnest.

Sadly, it seems like all of this is continuing to spiral downward with the announcement today that the Midwest/Delta partnership is now ending.

If you want access to the Delta network for flying, you better book your reward travel now. It all ceases on June 7th. No doubt more changes will be forthcoming.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

a tale of some time off

Yep, that's right - a whole weeks worth coming my way. Thanks to furloughs (Arnold) and Cesar Chavez, I have this entire week off of work. Unfortunately not from homework.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

on my next genealogy trip to Norway...

...this will definitely be a place I want to go and visit. The Lofoten Islands in Norway are located above the Arctic Circle. The Lofoten Archipelago, which consists of several main islands, offers scenic fishing villages and rugged outdoor activities. During the summer, the islands experience sunlight 24 hours per day, or midnight sun, and the opposite in the winter with polar nights.

This site offers more info: http://www.lofoten-info.no/

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The tourney has begun...

...and already an upset! Sorry Notre Dame...you were the first.

An interesting note regarding what you can get for free on planes these days (courtesy of ST.com):

With Continental pulling the plug on free meals, you may be wondering what, if anything, you can still get for free in coach on a domestic flight. Well, here's a list, and you can see, it's not a long one:

* AirTran: Soft drinks, blankets/pillows, XM satellite radio
* Alaska: Soft drinks, blankets/pillows
* American: Soft drinks, in-flight programming/radio
* Continental: Meals (ending this fall), soft drinks, blankets (select flights), pillows; in-flight movie/radio, some Delta on Demand options (including live satellite TV, games, and music).
* Delta: Soft drinks, small snack, blankets/pillows, in-flight movie/radio
* Frontier: Soft drinks
* JetBlue: First checked bag, unlimited snacks, soft drinks, DirecTV, XM satellite radio
* Hawaiian: Meals (most long-haul routes), blankets/pillows
* Midwest: Soft drinks, cookies (select flights after 10 a.m.)
* Southwest: First and second checked bag, small snack, soft drinks
* Spirit: Nothing
* United: Soft drinks, blankets/pillows (international), in-flight movie/programming/radio
* US Airways: Soft drinks, in-flight movie/programming/radio
* Virgin America: Soft drinks, satellite TV, video games, 3,000-song music library, seat-to-seat chat, music video library

("Soft drinks" includes soda, water, juice, coffee, tea, etc., but may not include energy drinks and other specialty non-alcoholic beverages.)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

an airline bailout?

Just when I think that maybe, just maybe, the government won't get involved in any more things to spend money, this crosses the wire.

Seriously? An airline bailout? Seems a bit of a stretch.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Can it be...San Diego is back?

I almost could not believe it when I read it...

Midwest Airlines is bringing back San Diego for non-stop flights as a seasonal service and as such is having a limited time sale.

Crazy cheap searches right now for June/July...$214!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

passport fee hikes?

I already hate the number of fees you have to pay when you travel and fly, but this is just another thorn if it actually goes through.

You might just want to renew early if you can to avoid it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

the end of Midwest Airlines?

Not a good story to start your morning, especially if you have family in the Midwest.

This article doesn't sound too promising.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Crowded planes

Good morning, all!

A big thank you to Karl for sharing this article on Crowded Planes and oversize travelers...definitely makes one think.



And...some solutions.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

For those flying east...

...sounds like it might start to be tricky flying through JFK:

What Happens When JFK Closes its Biggest Runway?

Good to note, especially if coming from the west coast. Taking advantage of the early flights isn't really an option.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

wrapping up...sadly

It is already Sunday evening (and now Monday evening), and my family headed out today. It's been very fun to have my parents and grandparents visiting, and I must say it will be sad to see them go. Being so far away means that I don't get to be with them much anymore, and I was so happy when they told me that they would all come and visit at the same time. I managed to get all of my homework done in between too, so I'm not at all behind. Thankfully.

One of the highlights of the weekend was a surprise trip I had planned to take them to Ensenada...didn't tell them where we were going until we were in the car and already on the way down there. One of my buddies from work was kind enough to come along and show us where to go, so thankfully we didn't get too lost. The weather was beautiful, and so were the sights...and food!

The coast...just beautiful.

This was a favorite... :)

The Three Amigos!

Back to work.