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

Monday, January 31, 2011

The snow is falling

And is blustering a bit too. No matter...I successfully made it to O'Hare from Madison, and am now here at C26 waiting to see if my flight will still go. I overheard one gate lady say that flights after 6pm tomorrow through all of Wednesday are already cancelled. Yikes. That's going to be a HUGE midweek mess, if true.

My time home was great, but I could have easily stayed another day or two. Was a really good time, and never long enough. I'll have to see if i can squeeze in another longer weekend trip soon.

I have some homework to do on the flight, so I'll work on that. In my free-upgraded 1st class seat. Nice.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Yep, it's Friday...

...and this evening I am off to home for the weekend. Mom and Dad are excited to have me coming back if even just for a few days. Should be a nice time, and I of course will be helping with things while I'm back. And thank you already to United for telling me I've scored an upgrade to First Class for my trip from LAX to ORD. Nice.

Kudos to Beth this week - got the job she wanted, and featured on CNN - pretty cool. Check it out - her picture is #10 in the lineup:


I love Switzerland.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

and a quote for today

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

Calvin Coolidge (1872 - 1933)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

and there go the Pack...

Quite a day in Wisconsin for all Packer fans, as the highly anticipated battle with the Bears finally came and we conquered...the Packers will be in the Super Bowl! Even though I think we would have preferred to face the Jets, we will have to beat the Steelers. The next two weeks for news and sports updates will be crazy...I'm sure not much else will be talked about on news stations in WI.

I had a chance to update some posts as well from my trip - new pictures and updates have now been added.

A surprise message also came from the hotel I stayed at in DC - apparently my feedback on the room and my overall experience was received and a nice assistant manager wanted to offer an apology. It didn't come with a voucher, but I'm happy to know my concerns were noted.

Friday, January 21, 2011

quote for the day

I think true love is never blind, But rather brings an added light, An inner vision quick to find The beauties hid from common sight. ~Phoebe Cary

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I have successfully made it back in one piece. Was a long road back, but my bags ended up making it, and nothing was lost so I'm thankful for that.

Was not at all impressed by the hotel I was at in DC - the toilet even stopped working on me before I left (mechanical issue I promise) so I'm not sure if I would stay there again. Overall their service was less than desirable.

And now I'm back at work, whether I like it or not. The jet-lag is still waking me up between 3:30 and 4:30am, so I look forward to being back on my normal system. School starts next week - but not before the Packers win this weekend. I remember dad telling me after the Superbowl in '96 that I should cherish the win since I may never see it again in my lifetime. Maybe we'll all get another chance to see a Packer Superbowl win - that would be special.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

12 hours

My flight was canceled.
I was put on another flight to a different city.
The ORD connection was oversold...
...so no flight to SD.
My bags never made it.
I have no clothes...or toothbrush.
The hotel ran out of amenity packs.

I'm ordering room service.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, January 15, 2011

To the gate

So...they just called us to the gate. Here I go!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

It's not raining in London...

And it's not too cold either. I'm writing this post from the Star Alliance Lounge at Heathrow as i sit and wait for my next flight...which just posted up that it is delayed due to a mechanical issue. Lucky me. We'll get another update in 30 minutes. Everything was on time when I landed, so I guess I'll see what happens.

My Qatar Airways flight here was fine, but unimpressive. For being a 'five star' airline, I wasn't too impressed. My headset was broken and I never got a new one even after I asked. They never did a beverage service the entire 7.5 hour flight - I had to get up and go ask for a drink. And the food was mediocre...a mushroom crepe-ish looking thing and a lamb pita thing for a snack. The guy sitting next to me was also interesting. Extremely over-cologned and asked if I would switch seats with him (he had the middle and i had the aisle). Ha. Nice try. Plus, he was almost too big for the seat and was crowding over into my space. I hate that.

But upon landing, my nice gold Star Alliance card got me access to the lounge, and so I'm enjoying free food and drink, free Internet, and shower service if i want. I'm thankful for this, and even more so on a delay.

Will update again in a bit. I think I'll try the veggie samosa next...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, January 14, 2011

evening in Doha

Tis my final evening in Doha...my trip is nearing its end. It's a little sad to think that all of this is almost done and soon I will be back to work and school, but I think overall it's been very good. My time here in Doha has been rich with personal experiences and making new connections, as well as seeing some new places and participating in new events I've been invited to be a part of. I'm grateful for the hospitality shown to me by Denny, and am thankful for his willingness to open his home. He has been an invaluable mentor during my research experience, and I'm grateful for his thoughts, opinions, and recommendations. I can only hope I'm able to include him in my research process in the future as I continue on my path of leadership and discovery.

This experience in many ways has reaffirmed my research interest and my desire to continue to investigate this proposed topic for my dissertation. The Qatari students are so very generous and willing to share their experiences, and I'm confident that my future research would be beneficial as Education City and the Qatar Foundation continue to grow and expand their offerings. The hospitality shown to me by the students is a model for others, and should never be taken for granted by us westerners who visit or end up working here. I only hope that more visitors from the US are able to see how special this place is.

real life stats

Just happened to cross over this...couldn't pass up sharing it since I still enjoy D&D:


For the record here are my stats:
Your stats are:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

last day

Today was officially my last day at Education City. Throughout this week I've had a really good opportunity to work with faculty and students on interviews and observations, and overall my time was very well spent. Today though was probably the most disappointing day I've had here. Three scheduled and confirmed interviewees did not show, which puts me under my target number. I'm thankful for the interviews I've had, and overall the data will be very good that I've received. But I'm frustrated by those that did not show, and also frustrated by one school that I ended up having difficulty working at.

I'll have a chance to further reflect on this later, but suffice it so say, I'm just down at this point in the day.

One area that I was able to visit on my last day was the new Student Center - much farther along then the construction site we were at last trip, but still not quite 100% finished. It's due to be open soon, but I couldn't help but take a few updated photos - pretty awesome:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

and around we go

Probably one of the most frustrating things so far with my research has been the occasional time where a student forgets to come to an interview. I've had one student scheduled at least twice that has failed to show up for whatever reason, and while sometimes this might seem like a harmless oversight, after two times it starts to become a general annoyance. It also means my stress level goes up because I'm trying to make sure that I meet my participation goal for this study. I've had an overall successful day and have conducted several interviews, so I'm very glad and thankful for the students that I have spoken to so far. But, tomorrow is technically my last day since it is the end of the school week, so I really only have one more day to get my final participants.
While walking through campus today I took this quick picture - there's just something cool about having a really huge soccer ball sitting in the midst of the green.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

yes, a bus

I neglected to post that at the end of yesterday, I had a chance to take the Education City (EC) Shuttle bus back to Denny's housing complex. I'm not sure, but I think, buses in general like me. EC Shuttle bus, 86 Bus, it doesn't matter what kind, I seem to always be able to catch a bus (or train) within a short period of time. This bus came extremely quickly as well yesterday, and the short ride back was nice. It honestly was a moment in the day, with the sun setting and pavement moving by, to just reflect a little on this experience so far, the time spent working here, and just life. It's those quiet moments on the bus (or train for that matter) as the world goes by that give me the greatest joy and a chance to reflect inward on so many things I'm thankful for. Yesterday ended up being another one of those chances that I took advantage of.

My posts may be shorter the next few days as I work hard to get interviews conducted and classes observed. I did have a chance today to go to the Liberal Arts building though for some proper lunch - Sodexho. Was very good (chicken sandwich grilled) and so far I'm much happier for it.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


My day is off and going already with observations, and I just successfully completed my first interview of the day. It was overall a very positive conversation, and I'm continually impressed by the hospitality and honesty of the students that I speak with. They are genuinely interested in my topic and are very willing to share their experiences. I can only hope that this will continue as I progress along in the study.

The only damper of the last 24 hours has been some bad food that I ate. At least, I'm 99.9% sure it was bad food. Last night Denny and I went to have some wine with some other friends after making a quick bite at home, and about half way through the visit my stomach just hurt. I'm normally not one to leave a get together, especially one with good wine, but I just couldn't do it. I got back, took some medication, and went to bed. I was out by about 9:30 and didn't wake up until 6:02a. I'm still not 100%, but I'm here - it's too important for me to do this work and get these observations done and I just can't afford to miss. Thankfully, I had a good start to my morning - so I am pretty positive at this point. Wish I felt better though.

My schedule for the rest of the day is busy - another class at 11 and 12:30, and another interview right after at 2. Here we go...back to the grind.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Day 1 - Data Collection

An early morning today for me, as I am off and running on day #1 for data collection. A nice change for the morning though was the fog - its been so nice here each morning that a foggy morning was a surprise.

I have classroom observations throughout today, and just heard from my contact downstairs about my interview list which I will also confirm later this afternoon for the rest of the week. My plan is also to head over to NU today as my contact should be back from the US.

starting up


Spending my day in prep for activities tomorrow, and wanted to write a quick note.

I forgot to add my daily temperature check yesterday, but today seems a bit warmer...78 to be exact. I know, I know...someone who lives in San Diego so fascinated about the weather is probably just a tad odd so I'll curtail it.

Denny was kind to share some articles today on comparative education and educational transfer that I will read and reference. We had a nice talk last night about my research, and he suggested these might give me some perspective as I consider this work moving forward toward my dissertation. I'm still very excited about my topic and the chance to look at an area of importance for such a fast-growing location in the world.

I'm going to keep my eye out for any technology references as well - most of the branch campuses in the Middle East rely on technology to reach back to the US or other world partners for supplementing each program, and it plays in important role in collaboration between faculty and other students.

This next week is going to be busy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

weekend is here

Happy Friday, everyone!

I'm very happy that the weekend is here, and today has been a very nice day overall.

This morning, Denny invited me along to go to church and so we left around 9:00am for the 9:45 service. The name of the church (which meets in a house/villa) is Grace Fellowship, and I was happy to go along with him. It's not a specific denomination per say, but probably the best way to classify it would be 'Christian'. It's made up of many different ethnic backgrounds and beliefs, and I even saw a few friends from EC there which was nice. The pastor (who was a Presbyterian pastor from North Carolina) talked about forms of idolatry relating to Isaiah, and one form he brought up was how education is like a form of idolatry, especially if you let it take over your life and it becomes your obsession. After thinking about it for a little bit, I can see his perspective on how that might be. A very thought-provoking experience.

After church we came back and spent some time at home, and then Denny invited me to come along with him to see a special Ottoman exhibit at the Museum. It was fun to go back to the Museum (my last experience there was our USD group meeting outside by the palm trees last January) and the exhibit was very well done. It focused on the art related to Istanbul and the history of the city and culture. Having seen that, I told Denny that I needed to add Istanbul to my travel list. There was also a video montage showing current pictures of Istanbul and overlaying those pictures with the works of art on display which was very well done. After we saw that, we spent a little time in the museum and then it was off to get some food. And...we decided on Egyptian at the new Cultural Village.

The Cultural Village was not here when our group from USD was here, and you have to go beyond the West End to get there but it's right on the water. It's a really nice new development for food and entertainment. Many different places for restaurants to grow into, and it also has a Colosseum type space for larger performance groups. The restaurant we ate at was excellent - I can't even begin to pronounce or type out the food we had, but it was good. I'll let the picture show you.

Time to wind down.

Music to sleep to tonight...Scheherazade.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

official update from yesterday - federer/nadal

Good morning, everyone -

Here is the update from yesterday, as promised: overall, not bad.

Yesterday in Doha: 75, and sunny

It marvels me how the temperature has stayed exactly the same so far while I've been here, and I mean, exactly. Very little deviation at all. On my last trip, it seemed like it changed a little here or there, but this trip, very steady.

I was very happy overall with the work I got done yesterday, which was mostly confirming up my observation schedule at Texas for this next week. With Debra not back till Sunday at NU, I've now got 99% of things setup at Texas and ready to go. I'm working out of an empty office up on 3rd floor, which will be good for interviews and writing up transcripts when I get that far. One of the student affairs staff was available to help me print some things yesterday which was great (consent forms) and I think I'm set to go at the one place. I'll plan to check in with Debra on Sunday morning and hopefully get the NU plan set shortly thereafter.

It was also fun to walk over to the Carnegie Mellon building for lunch - the cafe there was a favorite for our group when we were here. Just not the same without Darbi here though.

Once I got things wrapped up I headed out and back to Denny's, to switch things around since Justin still had his tickets for the Open available and I heard back from Jimmy (one of Denny's friends) that he was interested in going. So, eventually we hit the road and off to the stadium for my first ever live professional tennis matches. Starring (drumroll please): Federer in the first match, and Nadal in the second.

And yes, we really were that close.

The chances of being able to see both of the top players in the world play on the exact same night in different matches must be astronomical. But, I was able to do it and Justin's seats put us in the 9th row Center Court...which of course lent itself well to taking pictures. My small camera just doesn't do justice.

Was a very nice time overall...very thankful I was able to go.


Hi all -

It's been a long day, and I'm on my way to sleep, but will do a short update and then fill in more when I wake up.

I was able to get my classes for observation squared up today, which was great - I'll be able to confirm NU's hopefully on Sunday.

Thanks to Justin I was able to watch a few live matches at the Qatar ExxonMobile Open tonight...my first ever live tennis matches.

More to come in the morning...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

running around

Happy Wednesday, everyone -

Today in Doha - 75 degrees and sunny.

I got a lot accomplished today, and I'm very happy about the process so far in getting things arranged for my study. While I had hoped to get as much done ahead of time, the reality of being here and working in Doha means that sometimes things have to be done with less notice. In the case of my study, that has also proven to be true.

My meeting with Cyndy went very well this morning. I've got a space to work out of for the interviews at Texas, and already two students lined up with three or four more to come for next week. I'm very excited about that. I also have one confirmed student from Northwestern, and will confirm the others on the 9th. Things seem to be shaping up, which means I'm worrying less about reaching the number of students I need. A good thing for sure. :)

After my meeting I called my driver guy and off we went to Villaggio so I could grab a bite to eat and figure out my phone situation. It's going to be much easier to communicate with interviewees by having a local cell phone, and so I figured I'd check out Qtel and Vodaphone and see which is better for a sim card. The Qtel place had only one service rep working and a line of 10 people, so I didn't wait around there. The Vodaphone place was much quicker, and I got a plan I can cancel if I want to when I leave (but also works in the UK and Germany). Not bad. So, I now have a local number...very happy about that.

Tonight I had a great time - Denny invited me to come along to the LeaderShape event happening in Al Khawr and it was my first time attending one of the LeaderShape events. The students did excellent work, and the panel of speakers was excellent. Of particular note for me was Dorthe Bergholdte's brief talk about leadership and power. I appreciated her thoughts based on her position and that just because you have power in a position doesn't mean that you have to wield it - sometimes its better to let employees work from their strengths and be available to assist or coach when needed. It reminded me a lot of our discussions with Terri on the role of power and authority. I also ran into Jill and a few others from YPI, so that was fun too.

Overall, a good day.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Day #1 - Doha

Today in Doha: 75 degrees and sunny

Not at all a bad day. I spent most of my day working on my contacts list, and heard back from one participant that I will plan to interview coming up this weekend.

I also had a chance to run over to LuLu and get some groceries, as well as make sure I knew where the main buildings were in the complex. I didn't stay here last trip, and so I figured it might be a good idea to get my bearings a bit.

Then tonight was a grabbing a quick bite to eat with Denny, a stop at the grocery, and getting ready for tomorrow. I will meet with my contact at Texas A&M after 10 and work to confirm up details for where I can work while I do interviews and also which classes I might be able to attend.

Oh yes, and Denny invited me to a LeaderShape event tomorrow evening starting at 5:30, so I'll be off to that as well as get food. Should be interesting.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Made it

Hey everyone...

Just a quick note to let you know I made it safely to Doha, and to Denny's villa.

My flights today went ok - I got to see Athens and Bahrain along the way, which was nice - and landed right on time with my luggage following me. Very happy about that since on my last study trip my luggage was missing for a day or two.

The EasyJet flight was fast, and it was my first time flying Gulf Air and I have to say that it wasn't bad...very quick and no hassles.

Fun notes:

1. Hearing Silver Bells playing throughout the Athens airport. Silver Bells? Really? And it was the Bing arrangement too.
2. Didn't have to take my laptop out at Bahrain or Doha, or my travel liquids. Nice.
3. New arrivals area at the Doha airport made passport check and visa a LOT faster. Much better than my first experience in line for an hour.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Sunday in Rome

Good evening, everyone -

Today ended up being a very nice day for walking in Rome, despite a few rain showers in the later afternoon. After getting up on time this morning, the shuttle was off with me in it by 9:30 for a mid-morning arrival to central Rome.

My first goal was to get to the Vatican Museums, and so off I went after a quick walk by the Pantheon (in the midst of morning services) and made to the Vatican in about 50 minutes. Not bad. Except, my book reading skills must have been off because the museum ended up being closed...read the wrong thing in my book. So I spent a little time in the Square for pictures, and headed back to get some shots at a now open Pantheon.

A walk toward the Trevi Fountain was nice, and after a quick bite to eat I was off to the Forum. The line wasn't too awful - only 30 minutes (and I had two old German ladies cut in front of me in line) - and soon I was walking in the ruins. I decided at that point though to head to the Colosseum right away since I knew the lines would be long, and I got in on a tour right away which was great. The catacombs are closed until February, but walking around on each level was nice and good for pictures. After about an hour, I was off back to the Forum again before it closed, and spent time in the main ruins.

After that, I took a few pics of where I stood on New Years (minus all the people for perspective) and walked back toward the Piazza where I grabbed some food and waited for the shuttle. All in all, a good day. Now I'm just packing things up and will get ready to head out tomorrow morning early. It will be a long day of flights again, but should be good. I stop over in Athens and Bahrain and arrive later tomorrow night in Doha and will be staying with Denny which will be nice.

Before I sign off though, Go Pack Go - I just tried the DirecTv supercast, and I'm watching RedZone channel right now...maybe I'll get some of the game before I sleep!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


What is it about authentic Caesar Salad and authentic spaghetti that taste so good?

Maybe it's because they're authentic.

New Year's Adventure in Rome!

Happy New Year to all!

I successfully made it to Rome, and New Year's ended up being quite different than I had thought it would (let alone the fact it was going to be New Year's in Rome).

Landing at Fiumicino, I was confident I remembered the airport and where exactly I needed to go. Only problem: I've never had to try to get a shuttle before. The last time I was here I took the train and that was so easy - not so easy to find a hotel shuttle. Not only that, but the cab drivers have moved into the terminal to look for business, so I was barely out of baggage claim and I had three guys asking me if I needed a cab. Seriously. The curb is where you live, not in the terminal.

I waited for my bags for about 45 minutes, and, of course, mine were the last to come out of the chute. The last 15 minutes of waiting for me were the usual "oh great, of course it would be my bags that don't make it after I see everyone else getting theirs", but happily they arrived with no problem. Then I proceeded out to the curb...where nothing is labeled.

You'd think that airports would make it a point to put where shuttles or buses pick up, but it would seem as though FCO focused mainly on the taxies. I wandered to the left outside first, watching cars and buses go by, then walked back to the right and eventually gave in to asking information. I hardly ever do that, but I didn't want to keep walking aimlessly. The nice girl told me to walk across the traffic, two lanes in fact. There definitely is not a sign hanging to do that. I followed a Chinese family across the two roads, and sure enough - there is my hotel pick up area. The shuttles come every 40 minutes, so I waited. And eventually one came - I was the only passenger.

This Courtyard Marriott is very nice, and I have a good room. I was tired when I got in, and proceeded to take a nap before running downstairs and getting some dinner. The hotel restaurant has a great menu, and I tried some linguine with basil and parmesan which was excellent. Then...I went back to up my room to decide what to do.

The hotel runs a shuttle to central Rome, and the last one was scheduled to depart at 10:40p - perfect. That would get me there just around the right time and before midnight. So I went downstairs and reserved my spot. About 30 minutes later (during my nap) the phone rings and its the front desk. All the final shuttles of the day are canceled, due to New Year's, and the last one left 20 minutes ago. Arrr. Why didn't she call me sooner? There was still the option to shuttle to the airport and take the train, so I got myself together, and went down to try and do that option. Except, that the girl wasn't sure if that shuttle was running either since no one was there. One of the porters who was leaving to go off-duty was standing there though, and he volunteered to drop me off at the airport to catch the next train to downtown. What luck!

So off we went - to what I thought was the airport. In about 2 minutes we both realized that I only spoke English, and he only spoke Italian and French. Whoops. After much hand gesturing, nodding, me saying 'si', and what I thought was the road to the airport, I found that we were on the highway going towards the city. Guess I must have gestured the wrong thing, but at least I didn't have to take the train. The porter drove me near Palazzo Venezia and then let me off, since the whole city center was shut down to traffic.

I walked towards the square, whilst at the same time trying to look at my map about where exactly I was. This was not so easy in the dark, and with a ton of people walking around. Since there was a long stream of people heading in a certain direction, I gave up on the map and just followed the crowd. Ended up being easier than trying to figure out where I was. Through back and side streets we went, with more and more people joining until we were in the Foro di Nerva.

I can't even begin to describe how many people there were. It was unlike anything I had ever seen or experienced, and as everyone tried to wind there way through the crowd, it got more and more difficult to find a space. There was a concert on the Via Imperiali, so that road was closed and everyone had to just find a spot to stand. Eventually I got a spot near the railings of the Forum, but some groups were lighting off M-80s and other fireworks so you had to be careful not to get too close.

As midnight neared, the crowd kept getting bigger and soon I was sandwiched in between two ladies and this one weird guy, and everyone around had their bottle of champagne ready to go. The porter had given me an umbrella, which I thought was for rain, but as the clock ticked I saw umbrellas open and I figured out why - spraying champagne. Too bad I was so scrunched I couldn't move to open mine.

3, 2, 1 - Buon Anno! The champagne sprayed, the crowd cheered, fireworks went off...and I ducked as flying cork bottles and champagne were flying everywhere. :) It was amazing to be in the heart of Rome for New Year's, and it is an experience I won't soon forget.

Nor will I forget trying to get back to the hotel. Of course, with a million people in the Forum, getting a cab back to Fiumicino would not be easy, and it wasn't. There was no shuttle running, so a cab was my only option (along with another half million or so Italians). I waited at a taxi stand for about an hour and a half, and finally one came and I hopped in ahead of the other 40 people waiting. Whew.

I made it back - 2:30am - and then off to sleep. Since most major attractions are closed on January 1st, the rest of the day for me was relaxing and enjoying not having to do anything. Tomorrow I shall get up early and head to the Vatican, as well as the Forum.

Happy New Year.

Here's the video - not long...was a trick to shoot it on my camera: