Tag travel (23)
Germany trip recap
Posted on 2010-11-16 23:28:00
Tags: pictures travel
Full recap behind the cut:
Monday 11-8 11:40 AM (local) Frankfurt
I'm officially 2/3 of the way to Hamburg! Flight from Austin to Charlotte was unventful other than it being on a tiny cramped plane. The Charlotte airport was a nice surprise (since I had 4.5 hours to spend there). I walked the whole thing (no small feat), enjoyed a fresh yogurt parfait, read for a long time, then had dinner at a Cuban place where I saw the NY Giants (my weekly football pick) were dominating. Ordered a steak sandwich, which was heavy on the steak and gave me some stomach issues...
The plane to Frankfurt was a little disappointing. The video entertainment options were pretty good, but you needed a $5 headset or your own pair of the two-pronged headphones (where I swear are designed to be incompatible with every other headphones). Since it was getting late anyway, I just read for a while and tried to sleep, mostly unsuccessfully due to the ridiculously small legroom (after I put my backpack there) and the aforementioned stomach issues. By the time we landed I had already gotten through 2.75 books "today" which is pretty good!
I knew I had a tightish connection (1 hr 20 mins on paper), so I rushed through the airport as best I could. In Austin, the checkin agent said my bag was checked all the way to Hamburg, so I skipped it, stopped to get gouged at a currency exchange booth (Google said 1 USD was around .7 EUR and I got .57...) and went through Immigration. The guy asked a total of zero questions (I guess I don't look suspicious!) and I had nothing to declare so that all went pretty fast.
Then I realized I was out in the main airport and would have to go back through security. Also, I didn't yet have a boarding pass. So I walked all the way to my terminal, cursing my hurriedness and uncomfortableness at taking picture in a foreign airport (giant railroad-style display with >100 flights! A checkin booth for Iran Air!), found a kiosk and got a boarding pass. Then I wondered whether I did need to recheck my luggage to Hamburg or what, but I asked a Lufthansa checkin person and she assuaged my fears.
Made it to the gate with time to spare, although not much. Frankfurt is a huge airport!
I feel a little bad for not brushing up on German more than the very basics. Totally wasn't a problem so far (even the inflight magazine is in German & English!) but I do feel a bit the ugly American, so at least I try to act ashamed!
Although, later when the guy with the food cart comes by:
Me: Water Him: <something that sounds a lot like German>
Me: <Gesture helplessly> I don't speak German (in halting German) Him: OK, what language do you speak?
Me: ...English <confused> Him: <acting offended> We are an international airline
Me: <feeling bad, making excuses that it's hard to hear> Water Him: Ice or no ice?
Me: No ice.
And then, with God as my witness he pours me a Coke. I'm not sure what lesson to take away from this...
Part of what I like about traveling is the unfamiliarity and disorientation of being somewhere new. However, when I've had three flights already and am pretty jet lagged, these become more intimidating than fun. Managed to make it to the hotel, though, so that's something.
soo tired, write tomorrow
Tuesday 9:00 AM
Yesterday I managed to find the NI folks at the hotel. Not having cellphone access is very debilitating! I had hoped to stay up and then go bed early (to beat jet lag), but I found out we had dinner reservations at 8. So I had some time instead to roam around Hamburg while it was still light.
The hotel has WiFi, but you have to sign in and for some reason I couldn't get my phone to work with it. So I decided to go on a mission - find tea, find WiFi so I could check email/let David know I had arrived, and some Rolaids.
I'll spare you the gory details, but this mission was a miserable failure. WiFi was everywhere but it was all protected, and I didn't see any coffee shops that said "Internet" on them. At one point I could see nine different protected networks! After a long time I gave up and did at least get some hot tea and sat inside to warm up - it's in the 40s after the sun goes down.
Stumbled back to the hotel after getting a little lost, and lugged my laptop downstairs (no WiFi in the room :-( ). Thankfully I was able to chat with David and check email. When I went back to the room I noticed that the voltage converter I bought only has two prongs so I can't plug my laptop into it. Not quite sure what to do about this since I have very little free time until Friday. Hopefully the next hotel's WiFi will work on my phone.
Dinner was nice - everyone was very friendly and we chatted a lot. Also, everyone's English is very good, which reinforces the "ugly American" feeling. Oh well. For Tuesday-Thursday the plan is to check out of the hotel, give the presentation (which is roughly 9-4 - my part is 11-11:20), then pack up and go to the airport - hence the lack of free time. Hamburg does seem like a nice city - wish I had more time!
Afterwards we walked back and went up to the hotel bar, which was very nice but I was dead tired by this point. Collapsed in my room at midnight for 7 hours of sleep, which is still a big upgrade!
This morning I dragged myself out of bed, checked out and went up to the presentation room, which is very nice:
I do get three nice LabVIEW shirts out of this. The theme of LabVIEW 2010 is "It's about time", so right now they're having an audience quiz and rewarding correct answers with LabVIEW-branded alarm clocks! Unfortunately it's all in German, so not only do I not understand but it makes me feel more awkward about my English presentation. Hopefuly it goes well!
I just got introduced (with everyone else). I hope he said nice things!
My presentation went pretty well. That was the most relaxed I've ever been giving it in front of people. I got a lot of good questions which is usually a good sign. Apparently I need to talk slower, though.
Knocking on table=applause!
Whoa, this plane has a row 13! I'm surprised we didn't crash.
Wednesday 9:00 AM
We arrived in Düsseldorf (the most German of the cities I'll be in because it has an umlaut! München doesn't count because it's Munich in English) and got a minivan taxi to the hotel which managed to fit all 8 of us with luggage. Arrived at the hotel at 7:30 and started setting up, which unfortunately took until 9 or so, not that I was able to help much. By that point I was hungry, and we went to dinner at the hotel. I had been doing well sleepwise up to that point, but I started to crash hard during dinner, and even got a bit of dizziness which I hope is just a jet lag thing (it happened Monday night as well). I bugged out around 10:30 and went up to the room, was able to connect to the internet and chat with David and check email. I then wanted to charge my phone (used it to work some crossword puzzles yesterday!) but had misplaced part of my voltage converter which took me twenty minutes to find since I was so tired. Went to bed watching the same UEFA Champion's League highlights (soccer) I had watched Monday night.
I did not sleep well - the room was too hot (the thermostat was...confusing) and the pillows too soft and the bed too hard. I guess I'm kind of a picky sleeper. But I felt decent when I woke up, made myself a cup of tea and headed downstairs.
The breakfast buffet was amazing - I took pictures!
Meats, cheeses, yogurts, mueslis, pastries, and (most importantly) tea! I held myself to two bowls of yogurt with various mueslis and fruit on top. Sooo good.
- I had a dream last night that someone walked into my room, smoked a cigarette, and left. About half of the NI folks here smoke, and at least one used to but quit.
- Voltage converter has been working great, except the American side of the plug has no ground, and my laptop has a grounded plug. Today I'm going to borrow a plug to charge it, but it would be nice to have a more permanent solution.
- My allergies have been quite bad - tea in the morning helps (I quickly learned the German for "tea" is << tee >>), but today I have a headache. Also, I'm tired again...
- Getting through security 10 minutes before boarding = "just enough time for a beer!" Excellent.
- Speaking of which, Lufthansa has free beer and wine!
Thursday 9:00 AM
Another late night - after setting up and dinner we walked to a local Berlin biergarten and had three pitchers of a local beer (Berliner Kindl = very good!)
It was nice to at least see a little of the city, as opposed to Düsseldorf of which I only saw the airport and hotel.
Looking forward to arriving in Munich tonight - already have at least one meeting set up on Friday to talk about work stuff.
Hopefully the jet lag is done - yesterday I crashed in the early afternoon. Probably getting more sleep would have helped, but when am I going to be in Berline again?
Apparently 21 years after the Berlin wall fell, you can still tell the difference between East and West Berlin.
Yesterday's presentation went well - I tried to speak slower and pause more, which took concentration, but hopefully people understand better. People seem to feel comfortable asking questions/talking to me during breaks, which is good.
It's kind of intimidating when everyone else's introduction is a name and position, and then they get to me and I get a minute of quickly spoken German, during which the audience smiles knowingly at me. Still don't really know what was being said...
Friday 7:30 AM
Boy, I finally get to sleep in and I'm unable to sleep past 6. My jet lag seems to bounce around randomly...not sure if this will make it easier or harder to adjust back.
Session went well yesterday - people seemed to understand my part better and I got a lot of good questions. Funny story: someone set one of the alarm clocks we gave away to go off at 11:11, which apparently is the official start of Carnival, it being Nov. 11 (which lasts until Ash Wednesday...weird). They had discussed doing this to all the alarm clocks when we were at the biergarten, so I was surprised it actually happened!
At the Berlin airport I had a currywurst for dinner, which is a sausage covered in curry powder served in a tomato-y sauce. It was delicious! And now I've had beer and sausage here, so I feel like I've "done" Germany :-)
After breakfast I'm going to head into the office - I was going to walk there but it's a bit far so they recommended I take a taxi. But it looks like it's close to an S-Bahn station, and so is the hotel, so I think I'll try that.
I'm in Munich now, which I guess I didn't mention. Very glad to be done traveling for a day or two.
Saturday 10:00 AM
Yay I slept in today! Feeling much better with the timezone, just in time to leave.
Yesterday I did take the S-Bahn in to the NI office, which is very nice. Spent most of the day working and being surprisingly productive. At lunchtime I gave my presentation again for a group of ~15 AEs, which seemed to go well. I also threw in some stuff about how we test LabVIEW at Andreas's request - apparently some of them grumble we don't test at all, which is so not true. Not sure how this part went over exactly...
Came back to the hotel and hung around all evening - was feeling pretty tired and blah. Had Thai food at the restaurant next door to the hotel which turned out to be connected to the hotel, but it was still pretty good.
Today I'm going to hit the Deutches Museum which is very large and and takes two days to go through, so I'll just pick the neat stuff. Then maybe the city center or something.
Kind of a weird day.
I took the S-Bahn to the Deutches Museum and when I got out there were a lot of police just standing around. Nothing was going on as far as I could tell, and I first thought maybe this was normal, but I could see at least 50 officers stationed on corners, etc. Anyway, I couldn't figure it out (and was unsure about taking a picture), so I walked to the museum.
As soon as I got in (after I had bought a ticket) I realized that I had been here before when my family visited Europe right after college. Dang it! So I walked around to the stuff I wanted to see, but fairly quickly, especially since only 25% of the displays were translated into English. Oh well...
So I left the museum much earlier than planned, and when I walked back towards the S-Bahn suddenly there were a lot of police cars blocking the road, and even more police.
There was a group of people between the cars, and police in front of them. But the street was empty, except for more police down the street. At first I thought they were blocking off the street, but someone asked if he could cross and they let him. So I hung around and eventually some people walked down the street heavily flanked by police, and the crowd around me started whistling and chanting "Nazis out!" (or maybe "Nazis auf!") So I think it was a Neo-Nazi rally or something - crazy! I left pretty quickly since it seemed things might get ugly.
Then I decided to visit the Allianz Arena which is where Bayern Munich and TSV 1860 München play soccer. They have some shops that are open even when there are no games, although it turns out there weren't that many, but I got some nice Bayern Munich memorabilia. :-) It also led me to think about an interesting math problem...details to follow. (update: here's the problem with solution)
After that I decided to randomly explore the city - I've had mixed success with this in the past, but being well-rested and having some idea of where stuff is seems like a recipe for success, which today was. I went to the main train station, sat down for a bit and had a snack and read (the Kindle was awesome for this - very light in the backpack and easy to hold food in one hand (far away!) and "turn pages" with the other). After walking around the stores there some more I decided to head back to the hotel for a break before supper.
For supper I headed to the central bus stations, which had some shops but nothing particularly appealing, so I found a local place, which is where I am now. The all-day pass on the S-Bahn really paid off!
Well, I'm finally on my way home. Between the jet lag and lack of sleep and constant plane flights, it feels a little surreal to be headed home. Just finished Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die which was good but creepy and not helping with the surreal feeling.
Pretty impressed with this plane - this time there's only one headphone jack so I can actually use the entertainment system. Watched a Simpsons episode during lunch, and they also have a music section so I'm listening to some Glee and some Gaga which are good reading music. Plus you can see where the plane is/how long until arrival which is very convenient since I don't have a watch.
Right now is supposed to be a "rest period" which confuses me since we left at 11:55 AM Munich time and are arriving at 3:25 PM Philadelphia time. Think I'm going to stay up when I can and sleep if I get tired. Switching time zones confuses me.
The woman sitting next to me said I was in her husband's seat - apparently his passport was stolen and the embassy doesn't have an appointment until Thursday. One of the flight attendants has been sneaking her free headphones, etc. I feel a little justified in being paranoid about my passport all week - I carried it around with me because I wasn't sure if I needed it if stopped by the police, but I've had bad luck with losing things from my pockets (see: San Francisco trip)
The plane to Charlotte also has a row #13 - what happened to the proper respect for dangerous numbers?? The flight attendant announced the flight time as "1 hour, 19 minutes and 32 seconds", and no one else giggled. Pretty sure that's 3 significant digits too many.
Wow, that was more words than I thought.
San Francisco trip
Posted on 2010-10-13 23:37:00
Tags: pictures travel
We had a great trip to San Francisco! Here are pictures:
This time, I didn't write up every single thing we did, just when I had something to say. So:
Monday, we drove out to Fairfield to visit the Jelly Belly factory. The tour was pretty interesting - we got to walk around the factory and saw a bunch of videos about the company's history and how they make Jelly Bellies. Along the way we got to try new flavors of Jelly Bellies (honey is good!) and sample beans that had only gone through part of the process. The scale of the place was pretty impressive. Also, one of the steps is putting the beans through a "sugar shower" which sounds really tasty! The store had free samples and a ton of Jelly Belly paraphernalia. I went a little overboard...
Afterwards we played Putt-Putt. I was a little ashamed because we were very hot, but the high was only in the 80s. Later I found out the high where we were was actually 97, so we hadn't transformed into California wimps. Yay!
The cable cars were neat but a little frightening - it looked like the driver had to grip very tight on hills to keep the car moving. Also, the brakes often took two or three taps to actually stop.
The Alcatraz audio tour was very interesting - the site is still relatively well preserved. There is a very nice view of San Francisco (it's only 1.25 miles away); apparently some nights inmates could hear chatter from parties there.
Pier 39 but had a lot of neat stuff, like an amazing sock store! I got a hot tea and then spent an hour on a ridiculously overcrowded and unventilated streetcar getting home...honestly was a little afraid of fainting. (lesson learned: hot tea is a "sometimes drink")
The Muni system is...interesting. Muni is the public transit system for the city of San Francisco (i.e. not BART, not CalTrain, not any of the 10 other mass-transit options) There are four(!) types of vehicles - cable cars which run a very limited set of routes, buses, streetcars that run on rails and attach to overhead power lines, and streetcars that also go underground like a subway. This was all extremely confusing for a day or so until we mostly got the hang of it. Stops were sometimes hard to see, and the payment system is kind of arcane. For street-level things, you pay at the front when getting on, unless you have a 1/3/7-day pass. (we bought a seven-day one...and then bought me another one when I left it on a bus our first full day here. Whoops!) The passes aren't electronic, so the driver's supposed to verify that it's still valid, which of course rarely happened. In the subway, however, you have to pay cash to get into the station, unless you have a pass, in which case you just...walk through the gates. The linchpin to the system is you can be stopped at any time by a Muni cop to show proof of payment (including a timed transfer if you paid cash), but we rode a lot and never saw one.
The California Academy of Sciences was pricey, but it had a good planetarium and enclosed rainforest environment. And a good museum shop :-)
We saw a fun show called Beach Blanket Babylon. It's a musical revue of, um, pop culture and stuff. Some of their jokes were fairly groan-inducing (bordered on the whole "referencing someone in pop culture=joke" philosophy), but usually either a joke or the music was good in each scene, so that's fine. Rule of thumb: the show isn't over until the big hat comes out. No, the really big hat. Seriously - biggest hat I've ever seen. Oh, and the plot of the 100 minute show could be described in 60 seconds. Just think of it as "Family Guy with music" and you'll be fine.
tripline - decent way to plan a trip
Posted on 2010-09-11 17:35:00
Tags: reviews travel
David and I are going on vacation to San Francisco, so we went through a guidebook and marked a ton of possible activities. We've never been, so I was looking for a good website where we could put them on a map and organize our days. Actually my first thought was to roll my own, but then I thought surely someone must have thought of this. And behold - Tripline!
The website itself seems more organized around making presentations of places you've been or lived, but it works decently well for our purposes. I could enter in attractions or addresses and it would plot them on the map, or I could add a custom marker and drag it wherever. A few annoyances:
- Every time you mouseover a marker the info about it pops up, which is really annoying when you have a lot of markers.
- The markers you put down are in an order and it draws lines between the markers. This makes sense if you're talking about a trip, but if you're planning a trip it's very distracting. So I had to arrange the markers so that the lines were not zigzagging through the center of town all the time, which worked out to be a convex hull kinda shape.
- It seems to get slower when you add too many markers - drawing the map is fine, but when I add a marker all of them disappear and then show up one by one. Once I got up to 25 markers this was a noticeable delay. Similarly, reordering a marker took a little while when there were a lot and sometimes didn't correctly update the numbers so I would have to drag and drop it in place again.
- I'm not a huge fan of the Google Map view they use - it's a terrain one which is helpful to see parks, mountains, etc. but I found it a little difficult to find addresses just browsing around. (maybe it's just me?) Also, you can't zoom in past a certain point...one more zoom level would have been nice.
Anyway, it was very useful once I worked around some of the annoyances and it's definitely nice to see locations on a map rather than just writing down neighborhoods. Kudos!
Palm Developer Day trip: Day 3
Posted on 2010-04-27 22:53:00
Tags: pictures travel
The plan was to wake up at 8:15, which would give me enough time to get ready, check out, eat breakfast, and walk the .8 miles to the Caltrain station to catch the 9:34 to San Jose.
Everything was going well - I was out the door at 9, which should have been just enough time. I took a few wrong turns but still manager to arrive at around 9:31, figured out how to buy a ticket, and then saw there were two tracks. I saw a sign that seemed to imply the first set was for express trains, so I crossed to the other side behind some other people and looked around a little. Just then a train started to arrive, and the little pedestrian gates closed so I couldn't get back to the other side, and lo and behold I was on the wrong side. (later confirmed by an actual sign) So I had to wait an hour for the next one. And just a few minutes later the limo from my hotel pulled up and (presumably) dropped someone off. That would have saved a lot of walking.
Caught the next Caltrain (which was very loud and big) to San Jose, and then had to wait for the light rain to downtown, which wasn't too far but I wasn't sure I could walk under the freeway. The Caltrain runs every hour on weekends and the light rain runs every half hour, so I had a lot less time than I planned in the city.
Which turned out OK because I was tired of walking around. I checked out the Tech Museum of Innovation (pretty neat museum, especially for kids) and had a nice lunch at a local cafe, with tea even! It was still an hour until I had to catch the light rain but I convinced myself to at least walk along an island to the art museum, which was nice. It was still early but I didn't want to tire myself out before having to walk back to the hotel, so I went to the light rail station and promptly got on the wrong train. Easy enough to get off and take one the other direction, but I just missed the real train so I had to burn another half an hour sitting and reading. Arrived back at the hotel uneventfully but thirstily (was a little chilly in the morning with no sweatshirt, was a little warm in the afternoon) - and what kind of hotel doesn't have a water fountain in the lobby? The desk clerk helpfully informed me that there were water bottles in the minibars.
Thus ends the trip wrapup; pictures are all up now:
Palm Developer Day trip: Day 2
Posted on 2010-04-27 21:48:00
Tags: pictures travel
I woke up excited and nervous about interacting with people. After getting ready and seeing a few fellow attendees eating breakfast downstairs, I got in the hotel limo with two other people to go to Palm HQ. Chatted with them a bit about the kind of stuff they worked on. When we arrived Palm had breakfast available in their cafe - I grabbed some fruit and sat down with some people and joined their conversation. (Hooray for being somewhat sociable!) Even got one guy interested in FlightPredictor (coming very very soon!)
The keynote started at 9 and talked about a new things coming to WebOS in the fall timeframe - access to the microphone and camera, better file I/O access (yay!), a new database system, etc. After that the company store was open (all items 30% off!) so I got a nice Moleskine notebook with the Palm logo and a new headset. The rest of the day was a blur of sessions - interestingly they had both hour long and 30 minute sessions, but generally the hour long ones were good and the 30 minute ones were less so. I was proud of myself for asking a few questions and going to the Apps Lab to report a bug which we spent 20 minutes examining. Later I got a picture taken with my app (link coming soon!)
After all the sessions were done, Palm had an offsite mixer with free beer and food, so I took the shuttle they provided there. I was feeling pretty socialized out, though, so I joined a group talking with a Palm guy for a bit, got a beer and food from the buffet and then sat alone, thinking someone might join me, and they might not. As it turned out, no one did, and after a while I pulled out my book and read for a while, then just felt like going home.
This was a little tricky logistically - one option was to wait for the Palm shuttle to take me back to Palm and then call the hotel and wait for them, but I wasn't sure if the Palm shuttle was even running since I was leaving so early. The other option was to walk the 3.1 miles back to the hotel, which I decided to do. It worked out OK, but it was a long walk and I took a few wrong turns. Hooray for Google Maps with walking directions on my Palm Pre, though!
When I finally made it back to the hotel, I collapsed for a bit, then ordered a dessert as a reward, and prepared my plan for the next day. My flight wasn't until 5:50 PM so I was planning on taking the Caltrain to San Jose to explore the city...
Here are the pictures (more being posted as I type!):
Palm Developer Day trip: Day 1
Posted on 2010-04-23 21:01:00
I'm in Sunnyvale, CA for the Palm Developer Day. The story thus far:
When I booked my Alaska Airlines flight on Orbitz, there were only like 2 seats available, so I reluctantly took a middle seat. This morning, I checked in online, and there were suddenly more seats available, so I chose 6F, the only window seat.
Andrew graciously drove me to the airport, and I had grabbed lunch (tacos!) and was sitting by the gate when I heard the gate agent mention to someone else that row 6 was right against the bulkhead. This meant that I wouldn't be able to put my backpack in front of me (since there was no seat), so after a little deliberation, I decided to switch, even if it meant no window seat. So I went up to the agent, and she moved me to 7C, an aisle seat. As I was leaving, she said "Thank you, Mr. Johnson". I paused, but didn't see anything on my new ticket that said "Johnson", so I didn't say anything.
Anyway, we boarded, and two people were assigned seat 6D (aisle seat), one of whom was named Johnson. So the gate agent came on and said that Johnson was supposed to be in 7C, so I got up and sat in first class with another displaced passenger while the gate agent went back to the terminal to try to sort things out. Finally after another 10 minutes she said we could just stay in first class!
I felt a little bad that the whole situation seemed to be my fault, but first class is pretty sweet - cushier seats with more legroom and horizontal room, complementary food and drinks (even alcohol! Shoulda taken advantage...) and a personal entertainment system on which I watched an Arrested Development and a Simpsons, and started The Fantastic Mr. Fox before changing my mind and reading.
Continuing the theme of "Greg makes mistakes at other people's expense", upon arriving in San Jose I called the hotel about their shuttle, and after a moment the clerk told me to just take a cab and they'd reimburse me. Pretty sure I was supposed to schedule the shuttle in advance. Oh well.
After arriving and relaxing a bit, I went out walking in search of dinner and something to take notes in at tomorrow's sessions. Dinner was easy to find (an Afghani place right next to the hotel), but finding a place with a notebook took an hour of walking.
Tomorrow should be fun! I just read on Twitter (search for #palmdev for the latest info) that attendees today got a Palm Pre Plus developer phone, so I'm hopeful I will too :-) The hotel loses points for no WiFi in the rooms (cabled only) but gets some of them back for providing tea bags...
Apologies for the length - maybe I should add support for lj-cuts to LJ for WebOS :-)
Posted via LJ for WebOS.
Golden Rules of Travel
Posted on 2009-10-19 10:01:00
Grandma's Golden Rule of Travel: Always go to the bathroom whenever one is available.
Grandpa's Golden Rule of Travel: Don't back up more than you have to. (this is more of a driving rule)
I am proud to present
My Golden Rule of Travel: Always pack boxers and sleep pants, no matter what the temperature is outside.
This rule has served me well :-)
Honeymoon quick wrapup
Posted on 2009-08-08 18:24:00
Tags: pictures honeymoon travel
We had a very nice honeymoon. Hawaii is a really beautiful place. Maui is great for relaxing and sightseeing, and Oahu seems nice for shopping and whatnot.
We kept too busy on Maui. I don't regret anything in particular that we did, but we should have scheduled fewer activities and had more relaxing/recovery time. It's been a while since we had a vacation that we planned for ourselves, so hopefully we'll remember it for next time.
Amazingly, I didn't get seriously sunburned!
Stuff we didn't do this time but I'd like to do next time:
Maui: Surfing lessons, parasailing
Oahu: Polynesian Cultural Center, swimming with the dolphins at Sea Life Park
Full honeymoon pictures:
Texas Bowl was awesome!
Posted on 2008-12-31 14:13:00
Tags: pictures travel essay
That was a lot of fun! We got to the game early and walked to the stadium (avoiding the $20 parking), got some food and sat in our seats. We were literally four rows away from the field, at the 35 yard line. Visibility would have been better had we been a bit higher up, but being that close to the field was pretty fun. Reliant Stadium is huge!
I haven't watched a Rice football game since I graduated, as far as I can remember, so the team was very different. When I was there it was a lot of running, and a pass play almost qualified as a trick play because they happened so rarely. Rice ended up running a decent amount, but their passing game was stellar. Chase Clement (their senior QB) is quite good - he ran for Rice's first touchdown and threw for a few as well. He was good at avoiding the pass rush too - on one particularly nice touchdown throw he did a neat little turn to throw off the rusher and had plenty of time to step and throw.
Jarrett Dillard (Rice's All-American WR) was pretty amazing too - he made some nice catches (my dad says he has a 42" vertical leap!). James Casey sometimes lined up at tight end, sometimes at fullback, and he returned punts and was the holder for the field goal kicker :-)
Rice tried a few trick plays including a flea flicker (QB hands off to the fullback who takes a few steps, tosses it back to the QB who then throws a long pass) which didn't work, and a reverse followed by an attempted pass which would have worked but it was a bad throw. One that did work was with four wide receivers lined up on the left, Clement quickly threw to Dillard and then took off to the right. Dillard took a few steps, stopped and threw it to Clement who waltzed in to the end zone. It was awesome :-)
Here's the game recap - it was never close at all (Rice won 38-14 but went up 38-0 and then started taking out first-string players). The downside was that it wasn't that exciting per se, but it was nice the coach got to take out Clement and Dillard to a standing ovation.
The stadium was reasonably full and there were unsurprisingly a lot of Rice fans, including NI's former VP of R&D who I ran into. We got some good cheers going and stuff :-) I went with my dad and sister (not wonderjess, the other one who refuses to get a LJ account...) and had a lot of fun! Got to use my new camera for the first time and it performed well - took a lot of good pictures that I'll post when I figure out how to download them...
Edit: pictures now up!
just so I feel caught up
Posted on 2008-12-29 10:52:00
Tags: travel gay politics links
Back from vacation! Christmas and related activities were good and fun and relaxing. Enjoyed spending time with family and got a lot of work done on whereslunch.org - only remaining things on my list of "must fix before launching" are dealing with IE and possibly adding tag editing (which will be a pain).
Driving back to Houston tomorrow to watch Rice play in the Texas Bowl, and driving back the next day - glad I have a plan for that now.
There has been some controversy about Obama inviting Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration. He's the pastor of Saddleback Community Church and while he has focused on poverty and the plight of AIDS victims, etc., he did endorse Prop 8 in California. It turns out he did so on a Friday 10 days before the election on his church's website (not anywhere more public) and neither he nor his wife donated money to the campaign. Obviously I don't agree with him, but I'm all for engaging people we disagree with, and Rick Warren is no James Dobson or Fred Phelps. Plus, it's just an inauguration - not like he'll be writing policy or anything like that!
Oh, what the heck...some more links:
- 90% of the copies of World of Goo are pirated - yeah, yeah, I know not all of those people would buy the game, but this is kinda depressing. It's cheap ($20), it's DRM-free, and it's a good game!
- The US Census Bureau just released the 2009 version of the Statistical Abstract of the United States = tasty tasty data. Maybe I will do a project in R...
- A Russian professor predicts the breakup of the US in 2010. The map at the bottom is pretty awesome. I definitely think states like Kentucky and Tennessee would be excited about joining the European Union. Sheesh!
- No big surprise: text messages costs carriers nothing - I didn't realize SMS was designed to fit inside a control message, neat!
links links links links links links links links
Posted on 2008-12-11 14:31:00
Tags: travel gay politics links
- A collection of tourist scams that I found interesting.
- James Franco and Sean Penn kiss on camera in "Milk" and get lots and lots of questions about it.
- Obama is crazy popular these days, way more popular than Bush or Clinton were when they came into office. 79% say they won't miss Bush and 48% say he's been worse than most presidents.
back from beach, more Palin
Posted on 2008-09-02 10:21:00
Tags: travel politics
Port Aransas was fun. I got sunburned but they're mostly gone by now. Better recap will follow at some point in time. But, for now...
I'm feeling a lot better regarding Palin than I did on Friday. Turns out she's more conservative than I thought especially on abortion and sex education - she supports abstinence-only education, which will prompt an angry rant sometime this week.
And it turns out her 17 year old daughter is 5 months pregnant and will marry the father. I don't think her daughter is fair game, but it gives a slight "hypocrisy" angle to the abstinence-only education which is enough to give the story legs. As Atrios says, "Policy matters".
And she hired an attorney today in that trooper scandalish thing. And...well, here's a list. (was a member of a fringe group wanting a vote on Alaskan secession, did actually support the "bridge to nowhere")
Anyway, announcing the pick on Friday seemed like a good idea at the time but now it seems like these stories are gonna overshadow the Republican convention.
back from Maine
Posted on 2008-08-17 15:20:00
Tags: pictures travel
Well, we're back from Maine! Here are pictures, and trip recap is behind the cut:
Left on Wednesday and, after the plane stopped in Baltimore (thought the flight was non-stop but apparently not), made it to Manchester, NH. The Southwest gate agent in Baltimore was nice enough to let us off the plane for a few minutes so we could grab some dinner. It was weird being in an airport that we were so familiar with!
My family picked us up and we drove back to Old Orchard Beach, ME. The cottage we were staying in was small (and the stairs were creaky!) but nice enough. The next day we walked down to the beach and walked along the beach for a while. We walked around town and picked up some souvenirs, including a half-pound of fudge and almost three pounds of Jelly Bellys. (this is too many Jelly Bellys, by the way)
I tried lobster for the first time - it was...OK, but nothing spectacular.
Thursday afternoon we walked around Portland and saw something about a renewable feast being put on by Cultivating Community. Of course, the whole eating local thing was offset by the fact that we flew up there, but whatever. The food was pretty good, although the meal lasted for a while and it was quite chilly by the end.
Friday we walked around the beach some more and almost played a game of mini-golf before Aunt Rebecca, Uncle Barrett and company arrived. Walked around some more with them and had a nice dinner at a local place.
Saturday morning we walked down to play some mini-golf before dropping wonderjess off at the train station and driving back to Manchester for our flights. We barely took off before a thunderstorm rolled in, and in fact we barely landed in Austin before thunderstorms came in (or at least the rest of the flights were delayed).
It was nice to have some time off!
we are in austin
Posted on 2007-09-25 00:17:00
Made it to Austin, checked in to our apartment, stuff gets here Wednesday(!) so we have lots to do. *yawn* Will be at game night tmw!
unstuck not in st. louis
Posted on 2007-09-23 23:39:00
After all the hullabaloo over the car, it turned out to be a big bust - we turned it on this morning and not even the check engine light was on. Took it in to the service place (who only sold tires on Sunday, no service) and the guy said if the check engine light was off, they couldn't find the code anyway and so it was probably fine if we didn't notice any handling problems, etc. We drove over 700(!) miles today, nary a warning light to be seen. Went through 280 miles of Missouri, a lot of Oklahoma and are in Hillsboro, TX right where 35E and 35W become plain ol' I-35. We were on the road for just over 12 hours so we're pretty tired but we got a room with a whirlpool and we get to sleep late so we should be fine for the less than 3 hours of driving tomorrow. (I think - it's only 3.5 hours from Dallas to Austin, right?)
stuck in st. louis?
Music: scenes from "Dodgeball"
Posted on 2007-09-22 21:05:00
Our journey thus far!
We got up early Friday morning, packed up the remainder of our stuff (including our computers which we had kept connected one last night), checked out of our apartment and went over to work one last time. Wandered around for a little bit, finished our last meeting and took off!
Good time was made as we passed through the long skinny part of Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, a little tiny bit of West Virginia, and a lot of Ohio before stopping in London, OH. (just west of Columbus) Lunch was at a gas station Blimpie which was decent and dinner was at a Cracker Barrel which was quite tasty. (we'd never been to one before) Stayed in a bed & breakfast which was kinda pricey. Neither of us had stayed in a B&B before so the whole thin gwas a little weird - felt like being in someone's house. Did get to use the whirlpool and read on the second-story porch swing.
This morning we had a nice breakfast and hit the road again. Got to Indiana and had lunch at a White Castle (our first time! an adventuresome trip, kinda) which was greasy but good. In planning we kinda forgot about the time change, and combined with the extra distance we had made the first day we got to St. Louis earlier than planned. Met up with Carrie and her boyfriend Chris (who I had never met) and her two roommates and walked to dinner at Fitz's. I had a root beer float which was delicious, and Carrie had a "quesadilla burger" (a burger with cheese with tortillas as buns) which is genius!
Walked back to her apartment, took lots of pictures of her apartment (which is quite roomy) and got back in the car to go another 100 miles. Except after around .2 miles the master warning light went on with the check engine light, as well as something with the hybrid system. Well, crap. Pulled off into a gas station, waited a minute, turned on the car again with the same warnings. Called a few local dealerships (thanks for the info Carrie), none were open tonight or even tomorrow (curse you weekends!), although Carrie did know a place that was open on Sunday. After that long conversation and booking a hotel room here, turned on the car...and the master warning light and the hybrid system lights were off, leaving just the check engine light. (I've had the check engine light come on before, got it checked out, nothing was wrong) Sooo the plan is to get the the places that are open early tomorrow and hope they can take a look at it. If not, well, maybe everything's OK.
So, wish us luck tomorrow! I'll try to twitter one way or another...
two weeks to yuma...i mean austin
Posted on 2007-09-07 09:37:00
Tags: travel cluesolver
We leave two weeks from today! Here's the route we're planning to take, going 6, 8, 8, 4 hours per day, stopping for the night in Ohio, Missouri, and somewhere close to the border between Oklahoma and Texas.
Things are coming together for the move. I'm going to finalize the movers today (going with Bekins), djedi's car is all set up to magically reappear down there, etc. Wish it would just hurry up and happen now. Two weeks isn't too bad though.
We raid Karazhan again tonight! I have high hopes.
The clue solver is not going well. I rewrote it using just propositional logic (no first order logic) last night, and it still gets stuck on very simple queries. I think I may have screwed up the resolution algorithm as it deduces all sorts of unhelpful things, so I guess I'll look at that next. If all else fails I could always just do the Monte Carlo-like simulation omega697 suggested, but I'm going to be disappointed if I can't actually prove things. Oh well.
For the clue GUI I'm thinking of trying out the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) to make a spiffy interface.
in a new york minute
Posted on 2007-08-27 10:28:00
We're back from our NYC trip - I have lots of pictures that hopefully I'll get around to posting this week. I twittered some while we were there. My highlights, djedi style:
It was fun, and I'm glad we went when it's only a short train trip away!
Greetings from the most anti-gay state in the nation!
Posted on 2006-08-26 21:13:00
Tags: moving travel
Ah, Roanoke, Virginia. So nice to end up in such a nice nice hotel as this. There's a nice whirpool with rotating lights (and two mirrors), big flat screen tv, and the place is huge. Will put up pictures when we get there :-)
So, the first two days: fairly successful in terms of driving. Today, not so much. Since things had gone well we decided to stick with the plan of the Blue Ridge Parkway. First problem - I-40 near the North Carolina border was down to 45 mph (fairly curvy road - it was in a national park, so makes sense). But we stuck with it and took it over to the parkway. Now, the speed limit on the parkway is 45 mph the whole way, which we hadn't realized. Also, the drive is kinda scary if you go 45 mph - there are tight turns, especially with changing altitude (think roller coaster!) Finally, for some reason they let bikers go on the road (it's one lane both directions with absolutely no shoulder, and usually the trees are very close to the road). Now I'm sure it's an awesome (but tough!) ride with the scenery, but this is seriously dangerous because you have to either slow to a low speed to stay behind them or try to pass them quickly, which is scary because the road is fairly narrow and on a lot of the turns you're lucky if you can see a second in front of you. So that was scary.
Having said that, the view was absolutely gorgeous - we switched off drivers so we could both see the scenery. There are lots of overlooks where you can stop and take pictures, which I did :-)
So originally in my mind we were going to take the Blue Ridge Parkway the whole way to Roanoke, then spend the night in Charlottesville (another 120 miles). This was right out, because the 45 mph speed limit meant we would get there at like, oh, 3 am or something. (don't forget, we changed timezones which cost an hour as well) So we took the first "exit" off of the parkway (which were few and far between - I was a bit worried about running out of gas!) and decided to take some roads to get back to I-81. Apparently "state road" in North Carolina means "nice mountainous road where speed limits are 35 mph for long stretches of time", so this took for freakin' ever. Finally we were going to stop before Roanoke in Wytheville, but the hotels I called were all full up, so we bit the bullet and drove to Roanoke, where we are now. Yesterday we averaged 58 mph for the day, including stops (500 miles in 8.5 hours) - today it was 45 mph (500 miles in 11 hours) which makes a huuuge difference.
Luckily tomorrow's drive will only be around 300 miles so we don't have to get up early or anything.
Last night we watched The Break-Up while in the whirlpool. The movie ordering system was weird - you had to tune the TV to channel 2, then pick up the phone and press the "movie" button (which was on a box also tapped in to the phone line), then use the remote to select the movie, then swipe a credit card through the box to pay for it. Seems unnecessarily complicated...
- This morning right before we checked out, a guy in the hall said "so, you're from Texas" (I was wearing my Texas ARML shirt). I said yeah and he asked where my Kinky for Governor bumper sticker was. I was surprised to hear this in Tennessee :-)
- At lunch today (Subway for the third lunch in a row!) the girl making my sandwich said I looked like George from Grey's Anatomy (which I haven't seen). After looking at the picture, I guess I can see a resemblance...
Tennessee, our Tennessee
Location: Cookesville, TN
Posted on 2006-08-25 19:34:00
Tags: moving travel
Howdy! We've stopped for the night in Cookesville, TN. Had a good trip today - went just under 500 miles, so we're doing well enough. The only traffic we hit was in Nashville which probably cost us 20 minutes or so...
In terms of sickness, I'm probably a little better than yesterday, but I feel kinda feverish right now. Hopefully a stint in the whirlpool will at least clear up my sinuses. Speaking of which, do most hotels have rooms with whirlpools/jacuzzis nowadays? Because most of the ones here do, like the ones in Hot Springs. Maybe we've just never looked for that before, but we're totally doing so in the future :-)
Cookesville is a weird place - we've only seen the part right near I-40, but there are tooooons of hotels and restaurants (Jack in the Box, Wendy's, Chili's, IHOP, Ryan's, Steak and Shake, Starbucks, Subway, Outback are all within 3 blocks...and there are more I'm forgetting) right near our hotel. It seems like there may be a college right around here, based on the age of people at Wal-Mart and the conversation I overheard at IHOP, which might explain some of this...
One of the upcoming Alamo Drafthouse events we saw at "Snakes on a Plane" was the showing Chuck Norris movies with Chuck Norris himself in person, which looks awesome. I'm really gonna miss the Drafthouse.
Tomorrow is more driving, probably around the same amount (so our Sunday drive will be easy, especially since we have to get to Columbia by 5 PM), but we're gonna take the Blue Ridge Parkway for a while tomorrow which is supposed to be very scenic. I'm excited about that :-)
LJ - Arkansas edition!
Location: near a sweeeet jacuzzi!
Posted on 2006-08-24 20:17:00
Tags: moving travel
Howdy sports racers! This post is brought to you by the good folks at Clarion Resort who provide tasty tasty free high speed internet in every room. Not to mention the sweeeet jacuzzi in the room - we're totally going to use it again and watch TV in it after this :-)
The drive today went relatively OK. We're in Hot Springs, AK now which is right about on schedule in terms of distance (maybe a little farther than we needed to go), and the nice part is we got here around 5:30, so we got some relaxing time (sweeeet jacuzzi!) before heading out to a nice Italian place for dinner. The bad news is that my allergies are freakin' killing me. I don't know if it's a cold or not, but I was blowing my nose all day long and it's really starting to get raw from all that. I bought some of the fancy Kleenex(TM) with lotion on them which usually helps, so we'll see how that goes. Hopefully a good night's sleep tonight will help too.
Hot Springs (population 36,000) seems like a relatively nice place, although we drove through downtown to get to dinner and it looked a bit run down. Bill Clinton grew up here, and they converted his old high school into the Cultural Center of Arkansas, which is "a large complex where artists and performers may live and work". Although now that I search on that, one of the only places this shows up is in the brochure I'm currently reading. Maybe it's not finished yet?
Here's a random question - why is it standard practice to tip waiters 15% of the cost for food and drink? I can understand based on the number of drinks and entrees ordered, but is it harder to keep track of and deliver an expensive steak than a simple angel hair pasta? Or is this just an easy approximation to the number of entrees and drinks ordered? I know hosts and busboys get part of the tips - do the chefs as well? Because that would make sense, since presumably the more expensive meal is harder to cook.
Tomorrow the plan is to stop somewhere in Tennessee (we'll be spending a ridiculous amount of time in Tennessee, going from the southwest corner to the northeast corner), so hopefully I'll be able to post again if we can find another nice hotel :-)
back from graduation!
Posted on 2006-05-23 11:10:00
So wonderjess graduated this weekend, so I made the trip up to the ol' ROC to be there. It was a lot of fun! I took toons of pictures that maybe I'll get around to putting up tonight.
One downside is that I think I picked up a slight cold or something from my family (three out of four of the others felt sickish yesterday)...although I feel much better today than last night! (my flight got in around midnight and I was exhausted from travelling)
The way UofR does it is there is a ceremony for everyone in the morning, but they don't call names and nobody walks. You receive your diploma in smaller ceremonies on a per-department basis. So, the four of us got up early Saturday morning to get good seats - we got there around 8:15 for a ceremony that started around 9. The trouble was that when we got there, it was cold, windy and rainy. Luckily, it stopped raining before the ceremony started and the wind died down some, but it was still darn cold. To pass the time, Carrie and I and Mom played a word game - we each picked a word before it started that we thought would be said the most, and counted how many times it was said. Carrie beat us both by a lot. For your enjoyment, take a guess which word won!
[ Fill out Poll ] [ View Poll Results ] [ Discuss Results ] [ Close Poll ]
Poll #734605 The graduation word game!
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 13
Which word was uttered the most at U of R graduation?
back home, finally
Music: some sort of tired music or something
Posted on 2005-08-17 22:26:00
Tags: travel charlottesweb
I'm back in Austin!
So I left on Friday afternoon to go up north and see my family. Unfortunately my flight out of Austin (to Cincinnati) was delayed an hour or so, but since I was going to have a three hour layover in Cincinnati, no biggie. Ate dinner in what is possibly the most depressing airport concourse in America (Cincinnati terminal 3 concourse C...to be fair, it was under construction, but it was all concrete and harsh lighting. Yuk!), then went on to Burlington (after a 15-minute delay or so). Got in around midnight and made it to Plattsburgh around 1 and promptly fell asleep.
Saturday and Sunday were spent cleaning and packing stuff up. Maybe I should back up. My grandparents (on my mom's side) have lived in Plattsburgh (upstate NY) for 50 years or so, but they're going to move to live in Hanover, NH (in the summer) and Houston (in the winter). There are a number of reasons for this, the most important being that it's getting harder for my grandma to get up stairs (the bedrooms are upstairs), and this way they'll get to be closer to their kids (my Aunt Rebecca and Uncle Barrett live in Hanover). So, this was all planned and stuff - then my grandma fell and had to get pins in her hip. So now she's in a rehab center in Hanover (more on this later). So, us plus Grandpa went to clean and move stuff to Hanover, except that we didn't know what stuff to keep and what to get rid of, etc, since a lot of it is Grandma's.
Anyway, so we drove to Hanover on Sunday via Burlington (dropping my dad off at the airport so he could go home) and Waterbury (where the Ben and Jerry factory is! Mmm...). We visited Grandma before getting to the condo - she's doing quite well, her physical therapy is going well and her spirits seemed relatively high. Then we unloaded and unpacked. Monday and Tuesday we spent visiting Grandma and Aunt Rebecca and Uncle Barrett and their children (our cousins, for those of you keeping score at home) Ethan and Chloe. That was fun.
Then, Tuesday, time to leave. Everyone else's flight left at 2:15ish and mine left at 5:15ish, so I hunkered down for a long stay at the airport - finished a few books and learned some more lines. Then, the flight was delayed two hours (this means six hours at the Burlington airport, which, while not as depressing as the Cleveland concourse, is extremely boring. The only "shop" inside security was a snack cart, from which I bought trail mix and a cinnamon roll), and we finally left. I was told that my Cincinnati-Austin flight was delayed 20 minutes, so I might just make it if things went well. We were a little later getting into Cincinnati than we had predicted, things did not go well, and I spent the night in Cincinnati.
Which, I used to always sort of want to happen, being an adventure and such. But I was really tired by this point, and disoriented (Cincinnati is in the Eastern time zone, fyi), so I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have. Plus, the flight they put me on the next morning was scheduled to leave at 8:53, and they asked me when I checked in what time I wanted to take the shuttle in, and I didn't know if they had breakfast or not so I said 7:00 to be sure I had enough time. Which meant I had to get up at 6:30, and they did in fact have a nice continental breakfast there, waffles included. Oh well. The room was quite nice - it was actually a suite with refrigerator, couch, and 2 TVs (I have pictures!) but I just watched a few episodes of Law & Order, took a sorely needed shower, and went to bed.
Next day! (i.e. today, or at least today when I started this entry...) Got up, was exhausted but made the shuttle no problem. This flight was a "true" Delta flight and not a Delta Connections thing, so I got to go to terminal 3, concourse B which was a very nice concourse. So I walked around it some, then sat down and read and waited for my flight. Unfortunately, it was...wait for it...delayed due to fog. (for the record, all 4 flights I went on, plus the one I was scheduled for and didn't go on, were delayed) Anyway, it left about an hour and 15 minutes late, and destroyerj was nice enough to pick me up (and got a speeding ticket on the way back, for which I felt bad).
So I get home by way of Wendy's (mmm!), and got home. At this point I knew that I had to work the booth at NIWeek from 4-7 and that I had Charlotte's Web rehearsal from 6:30-9:30 (so I would be late to rehearsal, and probably not get dinner in there), so I hurried and tried to find an electric razor so I could shave (there's another story in there, but it's uninteresting), and failed. Then I checked my email: hallelujah, Charlotte's Web rehearsal cancelled! Woohoo!
But I showered and went down to NIWeek, worked the booth which went fine, then came back here by way of NI (drove a coworker there) and Chick-Fil-A. My main task for tonight was to try to install Win98 and WoW (and Skype) so I could be ready with that (since I'm not having much luck making WoW work under Linux). Fiddling around with the hard drives took much longer than I thought, but I eventually got things set up and Win98 partially installed, only to have it reboot when it tries to finish the install. Whee. So now I'm working on XP. This stuff is gonna work, dang it!
This entry is getting long, so I'm gonna wind it down. Which is convenient, because I'm about out of things to say. djedi gets home tmw, which'll be nice. And I'm doing pretty well learning my Charlotte's Web lines, which is good since we're supposed to be off-book by Monday, which means some work is required this weekend.
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