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

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone...hope everyone is celebrating the birth of our Lord safely and sound.

I am happy to report that my coursework for 2009 has officially been completed...I had one last project to work on for Qatar, and that was handed in today. I'm so glad to be done, at least for now. It'll be nice not to have to think about homework for a few days. I'm just hoping now that I'm able to safely get back to WI. The weather is not cooperating very well right now in Milwaukee, and my brother's flight was barely able to land tonight.

Early 2010 will bring a trip to Qatar, and a new adventure!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

semester is done

My final paper is done!

My second final paper is done!

The semester is finally over...1 down, a few more to go.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

wind down time

So...it took me an hour, HOUR, to get to USD tonight. What normally takes me 15 minutes. Motorcycle accident.

Which meant I was half hour late for class on top of it. (sigh) Not good right before it's paper time.

I'm tired.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

yum

What is it about Spaghetti O's that is so wonderful? I should have them more often for lunch.

My book review essay is complete, sans one more read through for grammatical errors. Now on to the final papers.

And, miracle of miracles, the Packers are actually winning. Wonders never cease.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

marching on

I've been pretty happy about how I've been able to keep up with homework and reading so far in my studies. I had a feeling that I'd be more overwhelmed then I would realize, but so far it hasn't been too horrible. Studying over the break though while on the road will be a bit of a challenge, I'm sure. I think the travel part will be very fun. Remains to be seen how the work part will all fit in.

I've been thinking about possibly adding more travel content to this particular blog area...any thoughts on adding some?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

oof

Made it through my first midterm in ages, and now back to readings...oh, lovely readings.

Absolutely great time in Boston this weekend.

Was happy to see the Charles is still standing...and a farmers market outside.

I got to see fall colors and rain...it really made my week.

Back to work though...and lots of fun drama.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

ugh

Ugh...not feeling very well at the moment.

Would someone like to come and help detach my nose so it doesn't run or drain?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

new coke???

Just wanted to share this article...since I love coke so much! : )


A revolution is coming. Will you be ready? After spending four years and more than $100 million, Coca-Cola (KO) has developed a new soft drink fountain that could include over 100 varieties of its drink brands. Using Microsoft's Windows CE operating system and micro-dosing technology found in drug administering devices, the refrigerator-sized dispenser will replace the ubiquitous six and eight variety dispensers. Coca-Cola enlisted Italian auto designers, a former Apple iPod designer, an R&D company founded by the inventor of the Segway, and its own development team that grew from 7 to 50 full-time employees to create the next generation soda fountain.

The Coca-Cola Freestyle will utilize a touch screen similar to those on smart phones and have a single spigot near the center of the machine for vendees. A wide variety of Coca-Cola brands and their range of flavors, including Coke, Diet Coke, Dasani sparkling and flavored waters, Sprite, Fanta, Barq's, Powerade, and Minute Maid, will be represented with their trademark icons on a touch screen. The future of fountains incorporates new technological advancements. The typical five gallon syrup bags will be replaced by 46 ounce concentrate cartridges that will release the microdoses of our favorite drinks. The smaller size means Coca-Cola has room to offer us more than 100 choices. Radio frequency identification chips incorporated in the cartridges will transmit customer preferences to Coke headquarters and aid in supply and replacement of spent cartridges. (Phew! And I have trouble with the eight choices).

The new machines are currently being tested in Atlanta and Southern California. Test Jack in the Box locations in San Diego are offering 104 varieties. Are you ready for Orange Coke, Peach Fanta, and Strawberry Sprite? They're out there. Just don't take too much time looking for them – I hate cold french fries. Coke's testing has shown that a new user typically takes 22 to 27 seconds to make a selection compared to 15 to 17 seconds for a traditional machine. Consider this a public self-service announcement as soft drinks appear to be getting harder. The 40% space savings over traditional machines should make plenty of room for the lines to form. Let's hope they have more than one when they go national early next year. To move the line along, remain focused when choosing our beverages. This may be why they call it drink concentrate.

Monday, July 20, 2009

a monday of fun

Meetings, meetings, meetings...waiting on state budget stuff...a rather full morning, although, if I had to characterize it, I'd say it was a morning that was busy, but at the same time empty.

Maybe the afternoon will provide me a spark. Would someone like to call and give me said spark?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

instruments on a plane

I know a lot of musicians have to travel with their gear...so this might be a fun (and sad) read:

For those of you who hate to to fly - not from fear of crashing, but rather fear of lost or broken luggage - here's a story just for you. And it's even in music video format.
Dave Carroll, a Canadian musician traveling with his band, the Sons of Maxwell, in 2008 was making a connection at O'Hare on a flight from Halifax, Nova Scotia to a gig in Nebraska when he got rocked - no rolled - at the sight of his precious equipment being hurled around by United Airlines groundcrew. Not only were his axes smashed, but there would be the usual level of concern and assistance rendered for acts of baggagicide, which is to say none:
On March 31, 2008 Sons of Maxwell began our week-long-tour of Nebraska by flying United Airlines from Halifax to Omaha, by way of Chicago. On that first leg of the flight were seated at the rear of the aircraft and upon landing and waiting to deplane in order to make our connection a woman sitting behind me, not aware that we were musicians cried out: "My god they're throwing guitars out there". Our bass player Mike looked out the window in time to see his bass being heaved without regard by the United baggage handlers. My $3500 710 Taylor had been thrown before his.
I immediately tried to communicate this to the flight attendant who cut me off saying: "Don't talk to me. Talk to the lead agent outside". I found the person she pointed to and that lady was an "acting" lead agent but refused to talk to me and disappeared into the crowd saying "I'm not the lead agent". I spoke to a third employee at the gate and when I told her the baggage handlers were throwing expensive instruments outside she dismissed me saying "but hun, that's why we make you sign the waiver". I explained that I didn't sign a waiver and that no waiver would excuse what was happening outside. She said to take it up with the ground crew in Omaha.
After being put through the usual customer non-service wringer - maybe he should have called The Fixer! - Carroll embarked into the seedy underworld of corporate irresponsibility and denial of service that major airlines really excel at. Rather than a simple "sorry, our bad," and an offer to fix the issue, he got a series of more maddening conversations and correspondents with various United personnel, culminating in this gem of an exchange:
Another month went by and I received an email from a Ms. Irlweg, in Chicago I believe. Basically said she was sorry this happened and denied my claim. Some of her reasons included :
* I didn't report it to the United employees who weren't present when we landed in Omaha
* I didn't report to the Omaha airport within 24 hours while I was driving to places that weren't Omaha
* It was an Air Canada issue
* Air Canada already denied the claim (as I mentioned, because Air Canada would not pay for United's damages), but I'm still unsure as to why I needed to report it in Omaha within 24 hours if it was clearly Halifax's responsibility
* Someone from United would need to see the damage to a guitar that was repaired
So after nine months it came down to a series of emails with Ms. Irlweg and, despite her refusal to introduce me to her supervisor, our conversations ended with her saying United would not be taking any responsibility for what had happened and that that would be the last email on the matter. My final offer of a settlement of $1200 in flight vouchers, to cover my salvage costs repairing the Taylor, was rejected.
Ahh, the travel voucher. Is there anything that can make a flier who's been screwed over one way or another by an airline angrier than a travel voucher? It's the proverbial lemon juice in the paper cut - "Here, we made you mad enough over something to pursue claims and actions, but our solution is to force you to use our service again anyway." It's like you're being punished for being a victim.
(And by the way, if United had no blame in this issue, why dole out $1,200 in vouchers in the first place?)
So Carroll, left with no option, turned to YouTube.
He and his band recorded a series of songs about the experience, culminating in "United Breaks Guitars," along with the above video. It's a tremendous effort in straight-forward storytelling, clever video making and a nice back-of-the-hand to United.
Oh, and it's a YouTube hit, churning out more than 466,000 views since it was posted July 6.
Not to mention the publicity it's quickly churning up for Dave and the band for roughly $1,200 worth of guitar repairs.
Of course, none of that makes the story right, which, shockingly, united now seems to get. The airline, headquartered in Chicago, is saying it's learned its lesson, thanks in no small part to Dave Carroll and his video tale of travel woe. So much so, in fact, that they want him to let them use his work as an in-house training guide for their customer service employees on how not to handle a "my bad" situation, reports the Tribune:
Rob Bradford, managing director of customer solutions at United, called Carroll Wednesday to apologize for the foul-up and to ask if the carrier could use the video internally to help change its culture.
"It could be used to improve the way passengers are treated around the world," Carroll said.
For those of us with luggage a lot less precious than a $1,200 song-writing guitar, let's hope it works. But I wouldn't put those hopes in a jar headed for baggage check just yet if I were you.


And...the video to go with it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

some commentary I had to share...

Discount airliners Southwest, AirTran, and Frontier all announced fare sales yesterday. Many other carriers quickly followed. After reporting a traffic decline in June, the airlines are doing what they can to get more people on planes. A couple of discount airlines overseas have a different approach to get more people on planes. Spring Airlines of China and Ireland's Ryanair said they want to eliminate some seats altogether. Seats take up room and these discounters believe they can get up to 40% more passengers aboard if they have them stand. It works on subways and buses. Why not planes?

Spring Airlines currently has only 13 planes, but its passenger numbers are on the rise and it added new routes. The airline will only take a partial delivery next year of the 14 extra planes it ordered because of plane production lag time. It estimates adding standees could lower the carrier's cost by an estimated 20%, add 40% more capacity, and lead to lower airfares. Spring Airlines is confident the proposal will pass because it was suggested by China's vice premier Zhang Dejiang. As told by Spring's president, "He suggested that, for a lower price, passengers should be able to get on a plane like catching a bus, with no seat, no luggage consignment, no food, no water, but very convenient." Spring's president contends the safety belt is the most important feature and will still be required around the waist. He says Airbus has been consulted and the proposals were deemed safe.

Ryanair was inspired by the Spring Airlines idea. It estimates it can carry 30% more passengers on its shorter routes while trimming costs 20% as well. The CEO says talks were held with Boeing about standing room designs. Fliers could be perched on stools and strapped in. Ryanair has a history of cost cuts. After October it will no longer have conventional check-in. It will have online check-in only. Another proposal is to have passengers carry all their luggage to and from the plane themselves, or be charged significant fees. Another money maker under consideration by Ryanair is a coin slot on plane lavatories. Remember to pick up that pocket change at security.

The idea of having airline passengers stand probably won't fly with the Federal Aviation Administration here in the U.S.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

happy 4th

Happy 4th weekend - hope everyone had a wonderful relaxing weekend.

Monday, June 29, 2009

detained for a video?

Now, I'm not one to normally complain about such things usually, but if you haven't heard about this, it's worth a look.

This link is to a video shot on a Jetblue flight of some passengers getting into it about unruly children. And...the grandma ended up being detained for shooting the video. I love it.

http://www.elliott.org/blog/heres-the-video-that-got-grandmother-detained-on-jetblue-flight/

I'm gonna have to agree that I think screaming children on a long plane flight is unbelievably annoying, especially if you're trying to sleep. Parents have to assume a measure of responsibility when it comes to that kind of travel, and not necessarily blame the airlines for it.

This one's also good:

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/13712690/detail.html

I love how they were about to use 'restraining tape'. Whoopee!

Monday, June 22, 2009

4 hours of...hm...

I had another one of those interesting airplane experiences again last night on my way back...I'm lucky I always manage to get an aisle seat. The guy sitting next to me in the middle spot was...hm, how do I describe it...agitating the whole time? Maybe that's a bad word to describe it. He was just moving all the time. adjusting this, adjusting that. And of course he had to try to spread his legs out (since he was a bit taller) and that meant encroaching space of mine and the guy at the window. Another sign he was a space hog...he needed to have the armrest up, but just between him and me, and not the other guy. Oh, and he got yelled at by a flight attendant for not turning his phone off. Lovely.

Tomorrow I will get back into my workout regimen after being gone this last week. That'll be good.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Day #7

Good evening, all -

The final assemblies of the day have now passed, and overall everything went smoothly. The morning assembly was a standard one with the joint session of the legislature, and all went ok for the most part (until the music ran out on the guys marching in. Last night they ran up there, this morning they trudged. Whoops.)

Tonight's assembly and tribute to our veterans was very well received. The slide show of the week was excellent, and the overall tribute program went ok. A few small items:

1. Need to go over lighting again next year. A nice candle-lit retirement of the colors was interrupted by all the halogens coming on. Oops.

2. The flags were supposed to wait until the candles were lit, but instead they ran out. (chuckle) It was a nice candlelit circle though.

3. My band was perfect on the slideshow tribute. Right down the timing. Nice work, guys.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

and then there was Day #6

All in all, a very nice day - the rain stayed away for the most part, which was nice. Maybe it will storm later! I love storms...

I got to see my sister and nephew today too, which was very fun and almost unexpected (didn't realize they'd be home so quick this week). So we went and did lunch, and had a very wonderful time with Jack. And Uncle Rich.

Tonight was the big Inaugural - the band was simply spectacular. The guys did awesome. A few items of note:

1. Talking into a mic while people are loudly clapping doesn't work. Don't try it.

2. It's helpful to involve the color guard in all aspects of the program which do involve the color guard. That means, tell them what's going on.

3. Rehearsing in a space ahead of time always helps...not seeing the choir today at the end of my rehearsal made me a bit nervous.

4. The end of the program consisted of a last minute 'the band needs to get the color guard out...now' moment...and my guys responded. Flawlessly.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day #4 and #5

Yeah, so Day #4 actually did not contain an assembly...lucky me! Mainly, since I was able to head down to Milwaukee and get together with Ang and Ben. Had a really great time, and a rainy drive back, but it was worth every minute. We're all very close and I never get to see them, and being so far away means I have to take advantage when I can.

Today, some small minor issues...nothing too horrible.

1. I only had 20 kids show up (out of 85) at the start of rehearsal today. Not good. Most were in sports or campaigning, so now I will reassess the schedule and make some recommendations.

2. We had the BBS picture today (all the guys in the shape of WI), which actually went pretty well. The assembly happened afterwards (running down the hill to get back to play, only to not have a speaker ready when we were done. Oops).

3. Then the speaker (who finally did show up) called to have the colors removed in the middle of the program - not as it was supposed to be, which mean the Color Guard was not ready and neither were we. When he asked the 2nd time (everyone still trying to figure out what was going on), the color guard ran into position, I ran to the podium, and up and out the flags went. Yep.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

an interesting Day #3

Yeah...see what you think:

1. At 2:30am yesterday morning, a drunk intruder was found in one of the Counties (ala Dorm buildings) and apprehended by both the County and City Counselors. Nevermind that the County counselor in that building happens to be a Dane County Sheriff...oh, and the guy admitted he was there to burgle.

2. During the day yesterday it was determined that a citizen was missing from one of the counties - a very rare occurrence actually. The boy was later found - a relative had picked him up due a family emergency, and didn't bother to tell anyone. Talk about a frantic main office...

3. Atty General J.B. Van Hollen spoke last night to the guys. Was able to say hi and goodnight to him before he left last night. : )

So much fun!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

that which was Day #2...

Happily, the group seemed to be much more put together tonight. Our pieces went much better, and overall, received several compliments.

Items of note:

1. The Color Guard still doesn't seem to know what a normal vocal cadence is. After I tried to help them, it got worse - now they have seemingly have no rhythm. 'forward, march' is not hard.

2. Charles Wiley's best observation of the night to the guys: "Life is tough. But it's even tougher when you're stupid."

3. Most interesting moment of the night: The Color Guard forgetting the Pledge, and having my band have to stand, sit, stand, sit (not knowing what's going on) and rush play the guard out. Ahhhhh. They did good.

that which was Day #1

Highlights from Day #1 up here in Ripon:

1. "Clear the Aisle!" Nothing like a little drama to start the first assembly

2. Registration went approximately an hour over. Translation: setting up an 85 member band like a madman

3. Saying thank you and goodnight to Scott Walker as I left.

: )

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

conundrum

So...what does one do when one is sitting in an aisle seat next to a person on an airplane who has to get up and go the bathroom every hour...

Grumble?

Swear?

Block their path?

Monday, June 1, 2009

thought of my day

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~Jer 29:11

I need to think about this passage more often.

Friday, May 22, 2009

commencement begins

Yeah, it's only commencement day, so of course I have to wake up not feeling 100%. Just my luck of the draw I guess.

9,996 graduates, here we come.

Random thought of the day: I think they should just give every American a free car, given all the problems with the companies. That would solve inventory problems.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

argh

Can i just share how much I detest having to run around and shop for cars?

Thank you for your time.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

blah blah

Yeah...that's kinda how I've felt the last few days.

There's no rhyme to reason for it...I'm just blah.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Favre-o-mania

Oh, this article is just way too good to pass up.

This Favre crap just makes me sick.

new blog

Hi all -

In order to consolidate some things, and mainly because my new grad school email will be through Google starting this fall, I've decided to transition things over to this blog account. Hope you can find it alright.

So it begins!