Category Archives: Travel

E-books During Taxi and Take-off

I’ve heard a key motivation behind the FAA requirenent that people “turn off and stow all personal electronics” at the start and end of a commercial flight is that airlines don’t want passengers stumbling over laptops and the like while trying to deplane during an emergency. But I wonder: is there any reason to think that something as compact as a Kindle or an iPad is any more distracting or cumbersome than a newspaper or paperback?

As a frequent traveller, I can certainly appreciate an abundance of caution and a “better safe than sorry” attitude. But as a taxpaying iPad owner, I think I can reasonably expect that some of the ridicolous waste I fund with my tax dollars be diverted instead to something truly worthwhile–like funding a study confirming my suspicion that e-books can safely be put on equal footing with the dead tree variety during taxi and take-off.

Exterior STS-124 Launch Video, With Sound

Video of space shuttle flight STS-124, launched late May 31, 2008, via @adamsbaldwin.  It goes from being mildly interesting to being amazing right around 1:51.  Embed after the jump.

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Passengers Upset in Plane Non-Crash Incident


British Airways apologized on Friday after a crew member mistakenly played an emergency message warning Hong Kong-bound passengers that the plane they were on was about to plunge into the sea.

About 275 passengers on a Tuesday flight out of London’s Heathrow Airport heard the message: "This is an emergency. We may shortly need to make an emergency landing on water," NBC News reported. "People were terrified, we all thought we were going to die," passenger Michelle Lord, 32, told Britain’s The Sun newspaper, which first reported the incident. "They said the pilot hit the wrong button because they were so close together." "I can’t think of anything worse than being told your plane’s about to crash," the Sun quoted another passenger as saying.

I can.  It actually crashing.  Count your blessings and stop yer whining!

Gadgets for the Road Warrior Lifestyle

Now up over at Change Ordered, my list of hardware and software tools for making the consulting lifestyle a little bit easier.

Fortune’s List of the Worst Cities For Jobs

My guess is that if you live in one of these places, you won’t be surprised to find it on this year’s list.  “The Rust Belt, Sun Belt and California fare particularly poorly in our annual ranking.”  Michigan is heavily represented: Troy, Dearborn, Holland all make the list.  The magazine also lists the big cities with the worst jobs picture: Riverside/San Bernardino/Ontario appear there, as do Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Irvine/Santa Ana. 

While California's economy has come roaring back many times before, a resurgence this time will be slowed by the state's increasing willingness to aggressively tax and regulate those who will make it happen.

Or who just decide not to, and go elsewhere.  Maybe there’s a lesson there.

Europe 2010, Day 14: Brussels

230px-Atomium_20-08-07[1] As planned, the centerpiece of our second and final day in Brussels was a bus tour of the city, which highlighting many buildings tied to the cities long history and its more recent role in European politics.  I thought by far the most entertaining part of the trip, however, was the stop at the Atomium, a unique structure built 52 years ago for the Brussels World’s Fair.  Inside is a retrospective of the “world of the future” display from the fair, which showcased advanced technologies and materials (like Formica), a snack bar that served up some seriously tasty waffles (with ice cream), and an observation deck in the topmost sphere.  All very retro.

Europe 2010, Day 13: Brussels

Ah, another day, another high-speed dash across France… I could definitely get used to living like this, though being on the go for so many days at a stretch does get tiring.  Count me as a new fan on Thalys, the national Belgian rail carrier, which in addition to having a terribly fancy first class cabin has onboard power and free Wi-Fi.

We took it easy on our first of two days in Brussels, finding our hotel, just across the street from the Bourse, then walking the block to the Grand Place for dinner.  A visit to Belgian waffle stand nearby and a visit to chocolatier Leonidas rounded out the afternoon.  Next up on the agenda: power nap.  Tomorrow: a tour of the city before heading back to Paris for one last full day in Europe.

Europe 2010, Day 12: Nantes

Most of today was dedicated to travel, as we sprinted from Berlin in eastern Germany last night to western France this afternoon.  As we passed through Paris, we rendezvoused with my friend Daniel, who by chance was in England on business, then continued on to scenic Nantes to catch the Jean-Michel Jarre concert that was the original motivation for the whole trip.

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Jarre is an electronic musician who is very popular here in Europe, particularly his native France, though relatively few people in the US have heard of him.  It was Daniel that first introduced me to his music, way back in grade school, and it has been more than 20 years since I’ve seen Jarre live, so it was a great opportunity.  The concert itself was an amazing; Jarre is quite the showman, and with a history of staging large scale laser-light spectacles in outdoor venues, the man knows how to play a gig.

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Europe 2010, Day 11: Berlin

Today we visited the Reichstag. It was quite a wait to get in-security- -but worth it to see Berlins from (architect’s) glass dome. From there we crossed into what was once East Germany; the wall is almost entirely gone today. but its former path is marked on the ground by a line of stones.

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Following the wall, we came to the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, a display of segments of the Wall (where you could get your passport stumped as was once required to enter the DDR) and finally the site of Checkpoint Charlie, home to a museum dedicated to those who escaped the Soviets over the Wall, and to those who tried and failed.

A quick U-bahn ride and a short walk brought us back to the Hauptbanhof and our night train to Mannheim, where we’ll catch the connection to Paris and points West.

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Sparkling Wine in a Can

306 One of the things I enjoy about traveling is seeing how food is sold differently in different places.  Today’s example is the can of “Prosecco 2Go” that you see to the right, which I found nestled amid the unfamiliar varieties of German bear in the supermarket here in the Berlin central rail station.  Prosecco is a variety of Italian sparkling wine, not unlike a light champagne.  It’s not something you’d expect to see sold in a can next to the Coors in the United States, where, such wines are usually sold as a premium product.