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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Vacation Staging

Greetings from the AA Flagship Lounge at JFK! I've successfully made it this far and will soon take off for Zurich. My first flight was uneventful - I sat next to a nice SDSU grad who was in the way to visit her son for a week. Had a nice conversation with her as we went. We arrived 30 minutes early, and I'm hoping for a smooth flight over the water.

My blog access might be spotty the next few days, but I will try to post as I can.

The week is almost done!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

No coat

Well...I'm now officially resigned to the fact that my coat is gone. 

No word from the Delta Ops people at MSP, and no responses to my messages or electronic information sent. 

I'm sad.  And will need to be creative for a coat the next few days while traveling.

Guess I also need to start coat-shopping for when I get back.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Coat update #1

Wanted to share an update on my "blunder" from last night of leaving my coat on Flight 1389 from MSP-SAN.  Just got call from SAN Delta ops...

The coat was not located here.  A kind lady said she checked all over the gate as well as ops/lost&found, and no coat - there was a good chance it went to its next location since they didn't do a cabin "clean".  So...after a quick check on the plane routing, my plane went back to MSP this morning as Flight 671, landing at noon.  I called and left a message just now at MSP's Delta Ops area, as well as doing the website form again. 

Maybe someone in Minneapolis found it...here's hoping...

Did I really just do this?

I did something last night that I have never done...never ever.  I've flown on a ton of different airlines, carried a bunch of different luggage and bags, and hauled a whole lot of different stuff.  But last night...upon getting back to San Diego...I left my new, black, winter North Face coat in the overhead bin.   And I didn't realize it until I got to work this morning.

Here's hoping that Delta pulls through for me - I called and left messages at the airport, and also filled out their online form.  Part of me is resigned, though, to the fact I probably won't ever see it again.  It's a great coat, and an expensive one that did not have my name anywhere on it.  I had worn it on the first leg from MKE-MSP, but then took it off when I boarded the flight to SAN and stuck it on the inside part of the bin next to my Skyroll.  When I got off, it never occurred to me to look for it - I just grabbed the Skyroll and went.  When do I ever carry around a winter coat in San Diego? 

Anyone want to take a wager on whether or not I get a call back from Delta?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I can't believe I'm stooping this low...

Tonight I begin my trip back to Wisconsin to speak at the WALE conference on my research.  I'm excited to be sharing what I learned, excited to be back at WLC for a few days, and excited to hang with my dad (who will be attending the grade school conference just down the street).

But there's one thing I'm not excited about - flying Delta.

I know, I know...those of you who know me are probably wondering what happened to me.  How could I ever buy a Delta ticket?  Skypesos, after all, are not worth anything in flight mile currency.  The last time I flew Delta was well over 6 years ago.

What happened to me was this: money.  I hate money.  And since this particular ticket was only $250 compared to United's offering at the time of $400, I had no choice.

So I went the cheapest route.  And I hope I don't rue the day I made the decision, as I can't be late getting to the conference.

At least I'm flying a 767 from here to Atlanta, which will make it more tolerable.  But still...it's the principle of the matter.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

United Double Miles promotion? Not the greatest

...and that's saying something.  United has tried to match the recent Southwest double miles promotion, and it comes up way short.

The terms and conditions though make this pretty weak (my bold). Take note the lower fare classes are not included, and the offer doesn't apply to tickets already purchased:

  1. Offer is valid for segments with an origin and destination within the 48 continental U.S. states on flights marketed and operated by United and United Express, which includes domestic travel within international itineraries. Offer excludes travel to or from Alaska or Hawaii.
  2. Registration is required before travel on united.com.
  3. Offer is valid on tickets purchased between October 21, 2013, and November 21, 2013.
  4. Offer is valid on travel completed between October 21, 2013, and November 21, 2013.
  5. Members can earn double award miles on base miles earned for travel in F, A, J, C, D, Z, P, Y, B, M, E, U, H, Q, V, W and S fare classes.
  6. Double miles are defined as two multiplied by the base award miles otherwise credited in connection with qualifying segments.
  7. You can earn the bonus an unlimited number of times in accordance with these terms and conditions.
  8. Offer is only valid on United and United Express and is not valid on United-marketed codeshare flights operated by other carriers.
  9. Offer is not valid on government fares.
  10. Passenger must be a member of United’s MileagePlus program to qualify for this offer.
  11. This offer is not combinable with other non-combinable offers.
  12. Bonus will be posted to the member’s MileagePlus account six to eight weeks after the end of the promotion period.
  13. This offer does not apply to Premier® qualifying miles (PQM), class-of-service bonus miles, class-of-service PQM, Premier bonus miles, redeemable bonus miles or other promotional PQM.
  14. Service charges for ticketing with a United representative in the 50 United States and Canada are $25 by phone, $30 at a City Ticket Office and $35 in person at the airport. Ticketing charges may vary outside of the U.S. and Canada and based on MileagePlus status level. The ticketing service charge does not apply for tickets purchased on united.com. Service charges are subject to change. 
Come on, United...you can do better!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Educause Day 3

We wrapped up Educause on Friday morning with a final keynote, and a few remaining small group sessions.  The highlights are below:

Learning space discussion from Buffalo State

The main room is similar to our LRS B - but they have mediascapes in every corner
Crestron/Extron mix to handle switching
Air touch table same as ours
Node chairs from Steelcase
No Apple Tvs
Convinced most faculty would change methods, but it's about empowering
Does library have training?
Faculty seen as "partners" over time
NCSU learning space toolkit used - http://www.Learningspacetoolkit.org

Air media vs Apple TV? Looking at air media down the road....

CIO search session - strategies to get yourself known

Optimizer vs transformer vs strategist - how candidates are classified
Communication, collaboration, ability to execute - key attributes
Building your brand is most important
When creating a Resume, include professional profile - 5-7 sentences
Insight of institution and culture - "why do you want to work" question...can you answer it?
Taken a risk/lesson learned...what have you done to stand out?

Hope that I can attend next year!  Orlando is much farther away...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Educause Day 2

Another great day at Educause. The sessions overall have been impressive, and I'm finding myself taking a lot of notes and doing quite a bit of highlight sharing.


Multi device, multi OS session covering what is best strategy to get updates done?
BYOD really now seems to be BYOE (bring your own everything) - how do we support it?
Attitudinal barriers are key area of focus to changing instructional design
Universal design at front end is key
Adaptive learning technologies sessions - draws on observation to inform new learning processes
Knewton, cckf, and loudcloud are adaptive technologies available
Final CIO roundtable was excellent - perspectives on being successful

One day remaining!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Educause. Day 1

Had a very successful day 1 at Educause. As this is my first time attending, I had some high expectations for the sessions and speakers, and thankfully I was not disappointed.

Our morning started out with a talk by Sir Ken Robinson, and we heard his perspectives on life, education, and where we've come from over time as we adopt new ways of operating smarter.

Highlights of the sessions:

Simplifying Copyright is not as ways as it sounds
Faculty are not always aware of resources available to find materials
There is a lack of data to make decisions on acquiring media
The CIO session noted ideas about how to facilitate technology changes
A session on Learning spaces was not well put together - was disappointed in content
Mediasite session was the best of the day - new updates will allow for user created content upload and publishing

Looking forward to Day 2!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Heading to Educause

I'll be hitting the road to Educause in Anaheim later today through Friday, and am planning to do recap posts at the end of each day on major highlights.  I may even be updating as each session progresses if I can find Internet...

Hope everyone has a great week!  (and if you'll be making the flight over, be sure to send me a note!)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Last Chance! US Airways Share mile promotion!

Tomorrow is the last day of the US Airways Shared miles promotion.  Just as a reminder: If you have a US Airways account, you can transfer up to 50,000 miles and get 100% additional.  The fee breaks down to $567.50, so it's a minimal per-mile assessment.

You can find the link here.

I'll be passing on this one for now, but hope to take part in the next 100% promo.

Friday, October 11, 2013

$499 flights to Ireland? Yes!

Kayak.com shared an update today on some great fare sale prices to Ireland - check out the dates above for more information, but if you have the time and money, this looks to be a very good deal!  I have yet to make it Ireland for a visit, but I know of others that rave about the experience they've had in Dublin or Belfast. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

T minus 3 weeks...

Next week begins a month of running around for me, culminating in a planned trip to Zurich to mini-celebrate finishing my PhD on the 31st. I got a pretty good deal to fly American over, and was able to make use of two Systemwide Upgrades to get me in Business class the entire way!  Definitely will be nice to sleep flat on the way over, as well as enjoy the perks and entertainment on the way home. 

But before I go, I've two other important events to attend.

First, I'll be up at Educause in Anaheim next week - after all of these years in higher ed, this will be my first Educause trip.  In the past it's been hard to get to when it's been held in Florida, but since it's in Southern CA this year, my department is sending a contingent!  Should be a great trip.

After that gets done, I'll be flying out to speak at a conference at my alma mater in Wisconsin on my research from Qatar the next weekend.  I'm looking forward to being back on campus, and it will be a bit odd when I stand up in front of everyone the first time instead of being in the audience! 

Three weeks of travel fun...it shall soon begin!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Etihad adds LAX to its route map

That's right folks - another option to get to the Middle East will soon be here!

USA Today article

What I like about this option is it presents another fantastic way to utilize American Airlines miles - up until now, the only reliable redemption option was through New York (JFK). 

It also means that I have another option to consider when looking to book flights back to Doha.  I'd prefer to stay on United if at all possible, but I won't rule out going this direction if the price (and miles) are worth it.

Flights are slated to begin June 1st.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Place of the Day: El Oriente

I had a blast last year visiting South America for the first time, and couldn't beat the price I found to fly me round trip from LAX to Lima ($250).  It was worth the time, as I was able to visit Cuzco and Machu Picchu and really get a first had view of the forested mountain areas of that region.   There are many more places like that to visit in South America, and I wanted to highlight another that takes you much closer into the Amazon:

Known as "the East", El Oriente is Ecuador's wild region of tropical Amazon rainforest.  It's probably best to visit one of the eco-lodges on the first trip, where you can see a variety of animals and plant life, including monkeys, tree frogs, and birds of all kinds.

There are always flight deals (it seems) over Thanksgiving to reach this region, so keep your eyes out for deals.  It's high on my list for another visit!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Place of the Day: Medina

During our first trip to Qatar, we had the opportunity to visit the Fanar where we had a chance to explore and learn more about the Muslim faith.  As part of that experience, besides visiting the mosque and prayer areas, we heard about the holy sites that are revered in that religion and are part of a collection of historical locations.  One of those sites I'd like to highlight is in Saudi Arabia:

Medina - Saudi Arabia

The al-Nabawi Mosque is considered to be the second holiest site in Islam after the Holy Mosque Al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca (probably the most well-known site).  Built in 632 A.D., it is built over the site of Mohammed's tomb and house and is visited by many people every year.  The sheer numbers of people that frequent this place should put it high on your list to visit if you're in the region and looking for some history.  Other places to see in Medina include the Old Bazaar and the Madain Saleh Tombs, which some have called a smaller version of another famous site, Petra. 

Getting to Medina might be a bit of a challenge, but airlines such as Saudia will get you there in good order.  Make sure to check visa and cultural restrictions before going.

Good luck!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

US Airways Buy, Share, Gift miles and 100% bonus - limited time!

It's been the talk of the blogosphere, so I'm sharing it here as well.  If you have a US Airways account, this could be a very valuable way to top off your account for a trip you have coming up.  Just transfer up to 50,000 miles and get 100% additional.  The fee breaks down to $567.50, so it's a minimal per-mile assessment.

You can find the link here.

Don't forget your US Airways account has to be open for at least 12 days in order to take advantage of this offer!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A favorite dish when I travel

If there's one particular dish I search for when I'm traveling, I'm proud to say it's Mac n Cheese.  There are so many varieties out there that I can't help myself in trying new concoctions. Add some meat?  Sure!  Try a different cheese?  Why not!

Travel and Leisure is highlighting the best Mac and Cheese across America:

Best Mac!

I'm proud to say I've tried the Mac N Cheese at The Old Fashioned, and it was amazing...prepared just right, not overly cheesy, and with a lot of flavor.

What's the best you've had?