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

Thursday, June 28, 2012

last minute getaway this weekend?

Looking for a last minute getaway for this weekend?

There are some relatively good deals to be had if you have miles:

LAX-FRA - It's a long way to go to Frankfurt from LAX, but Lufthansa (via United's website) is flying each direction and has business class seats available for 50k miles each way, departing Friday and returning through next Friday.  Oh, and it's a direct flight each way - fun!  Or, if you happen to be in San Diego, there is First class availability leaving tomorrow and coming back next week in Biz class for 117k miles.

ORD-IST - Istanbul can also be had from Ohare this weekend into next week, with the east bound leg in First and a return in Biz for 117k miles.

BOS-FCO - Rome is also possible using a Boston departure on Saturday in Biz class and returning next week in Biz class for only 100k miles through United via Lufthansa.

Let the shopping begin!

Monday, June 25, 2012

an iPad for all

Forgive this post being non-travel or point related, but I wanted to share that there is another higher education institution going all out and buying iPad's for its students:


I'm not opposed to such a notion (seeing as though I love my iPad when at work and when I travel) but with so many students already having access to their own mobile devices, is it still the responsibility of institutions to provide that service?  And at what cost?

I also find the last paragraph to be interesting - holding out for accessibility?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Tick Taca

Dear Taca:

Thank you for joining Star Alliance this week.  I appreciate the option of being able to fly and earn PQM's to destinations all over South America.

While I'm not so thrilled that your lower fare classes only have a 50% mileage accrual, I like the redemption possibilities.


Friday, June 15, 2012

BBS Day 7 - Tribute to Veterans

Day 7 of BBS has been nice and sunny, although the heat decided to return in a big way - almost 95 outside right now and will definitely be warm for our assembly tonight.  The morning assembly and job fair went well, and the band really did a great job in making it through - even when the conductors baton decided to take flight during one of the last numbers.  Whoops.  Thankfully everyone kept going and all was well.

After a quick dinner with Chuck down at Miller's, it was time to change and head out.  Hard to believe that our week here is winding down and tomorrow is the last day - one more assembly to go and we'll be adjourning for this year.  I'm grateful again for the opportunity to be here and work with the boys on government and leadership, and they've really embraced the opportunities that have been offered to them.

Tonight we honored our veterans - always a solemn and thankful time. 

BBS Day 6

Congratulations to all candidates!  The inaugural went very well, and all oaths of office have been administered - today marks the day when all agencies will be operating on their own.  It's been a long week getting everyone together and forming this governmental structure at BBS, but I'm very proud to see all the boys involved and taking in the experience.

Speeches from Justice Ann Walsh Bradley and Gov. Scott Walker were very well received, and I also am proud of the band that has come together to support all of the assemblies.  From where we came from earlier in the week having never played together before, we're now a great group and am very grateful for everyone's willingness to play during this week.

Two more days!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

BBS Day 5

Another day has wrapped here in Ripon, and we're edging ever closer to inauguration and a wind-down of activities at Badger Boys State.  It has really been a fulfilling week so far on many levels, and I'm very interested to see who will be representing the State this year as governor. 

Wednesday evening saw the candidates speak and take questions as part of convention after everyone took part in the BBS state photo.  There were many moving stories by the candidates, but I hope everyone remembers to vote smartly.  Always take all factors into account!  Make sure you're informed!  :) 

The band is nearly ready to go for Thursday night - we'll have one more rehearsal to run the songs, and then we'll be set.  We also will have student conductors participating on Friday and Saturday, so the guys are also looking forward to that.  I'm always smiling about having them take part - for some its a thrill of a lifetime to conduct a band this size.  We'll see how it goes!

Speakers on tap at the inaugural include Ann Walsh Bradley and Scott Walker.  Sure to be good!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

BBS Day 4, abbreviated

Sorry this post is getting here a bit later than planned - and it will be abbreviated since Tuesday activities are usually scaled back for me. 

Was a much cooler 4th day at BBS, which was very welcome by everyone.  The humidity was much lower and being outside was actually fun so many of the meetings and group events were enjoyed under the sun.  I got quite a bit of work done in the morning (had to discover what happened to the Col. Bogey March as almost all of my copies of it vanished) and then after lunch prepped before my afternoon rehearsal.  I was once again short on players but by late rehearsal time had about 75%.  This always happens and we're coping as best as we can with the former band numbers for Thursday and Friday.  I had a very nice evening though, as we had no assembly and I was able to catch up and spend time with two of my best friends.  Very fun.

We're back on schedule today with rehearsal and an assembly tonight before the state conventions.  Here we go!

Monday, June 11, 2012

the end of BBS Day 3

So, I decided to treat myself after the evening assembly tonight:

What do you think?

Got to see some rain this morning as the day got started - a nice change from the heat we've been having so far.  I always enjoy it when it rains...just calm and peaceful.  I got my work for the morning done, and then was able to meet up with a friend and former colleague from WLC who works near here - enjoyed some lunch and caught up.  My afternoon rehearsal was a bit sparse to start (as athletics began today) but eventually I had about 80% of the group arrive.  Always tough to run our more formal pieces without the full group, but that will be the norm now for the rest of the week.  We'll make it.

Tonight's assembly keynote featured Wisconsin's Attorney General, J.B. Van Hollen.  He's a very good guy and had a very personal message to share with the boys tonight about public service (I like the fact that he's a St. Olaf grad).  We also saw the city mayors and the state patrol get sworn into office.  County campaigning will soon begin!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

BBS - Day 2

Gotta love Wisconsin weather - it's after 10pm and still 86 degrees.  My allergies are not having a good experience with it so far tonight.  Oh well...

A very successful Day 2 at BBS is now winding down.  The band did another excellent job tonight, and we even managed to put together the color guard portion in rapid speed.  I'm continually amazed at the gifts and talents the guys have at playing their instruments - such an impressive experience to be a part of.  Swing March was the hit of the evening - seemed as though the assembly really enjoyed it.

Tonight's featured speaker was Jim Santelle, the US Attorney for Eastern WI.  He's a former badger boy and has also been a city and county counselor in the past.  Was great to hear him - we ran into each other prior to my afternoon rehearsal and it was nice to chat for a little bit.  His experience working with the Justice Department in Iraq is fascinating, and speaks volumes about his knowledge and character.  To be able to advise and lead a new judicial system in a foreign country is an amazing accomplishment.

More fun in store for tomorrow...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

BBS - Day 1

Happy first day of Badger Boys State!  Well, it's actually winding down now, but it still was a good first day.  If there was any one thing that I might change, it would be the humidity - don't have to deal with this in San Diego, and it reminds me how much I (and my allergies) don't really enjoy it.  But, all is well - made it through!

I'm going to do my best to blog the week again, so check back for updates as we go.  The whole trip started out pretty fun - got upgraded to first class again on my flight here, and was very grateful for family picking me up from the airport and getting me up here to Ripon.  I also had an opportunity to spend time with family last night before all the festivities started, so I was very grateful for that.  I don't get back here as much as I usually think I'm going to, so I was very appreciative of the time.

Was a whirlwind day - the first one always is.  When all of the guys are showing up, it's a lot of pressure to get everyone registered and to their proper 'home' (ala city) for the week.  I managed to get all of my setup work done ahead of time so today was very smooth.  Registration took its normal 2.5 hours to complete, and after it was all said and done I have the largest band I've ever had - 104!  Rehearsal tonight went ok - always rough to start, but after 50 minutes we were rocking and into the first assembly. I'll be curious to see how much attrition I have tomorrow - I usually lose a few guys in between but the numbers stay pretty high. 

Charles Wiley was our guest speaker tonight - he always does a good job.  The guys like his no 'b-s' style.  Tomorrow night we've got Jim Santelle, US Attorney for Eastern WI.  Should be great!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

taking a trip to Karlovy Vary...er, Carlsbad?

Nope, and I'm not talking about the one in California that is fairly close to where I am.  I'm talking about Carlsbad in Bohemia, Czech Republic (also known as Karlovy Vary).  It is today's "place of the day":

Carlsbad, Bohemia, Czech Republic

Apparently this location was home to Beethoven, Brahms, Bach, Liszt, and others who made visits to this spa town.  The mineral waters in this particular area of the country have made many towns famous, and Carlsbad is still known for the variety of springs still present.  It's located about 75 miles west of Prague, but might be worth a quick stop to check out while you're passing through. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

a trip to Yemen?

I have a fond place in my heart for Qatar, given my study trips there as well as upcoming research in the fall.  Suffice it to say I can see myself living there based on how welcoming everyone is and how amazing the environment is for education and learning.  So...I thought I'd highlight a "place of the day" that is close to Doha and would be on my list of places to visit (providing that it's safe):

Shibam - Wadi Hadhramawt, Yemen

This is a very remote but spectacular oasis of fields and orchards, surrounded by desert.  It also is the largest wadi (or oasis) in the Arabian Peninsula.  Made famous by trade routes from the past, this has some of the most beautiful mosques and minarets in Yemen.  You can get here by flying into Sana'a and making drive from there. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Qatar Airways/United partnership ending

Well, this is lousy:

Qatar/United partnership to terminate

Even though United flyers weren't able to accrue PQM's on Qatar, this is definitely a loss (given that Emirates is no longer a partner with United and Virgin Atlantic is gone too).

Flying Qatar was truly an amazing experience in customer service and comfort, and it will be sad to not have that dual option to fly.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

how not to get a free flight

Normally I'd be suspect of such things, but when this happens in my own town, I start to wonder:


It only begs the question - how is this possible?  If you set off alarms, and then manage to get all the way on a plane without being noticed, something is wrong with security.