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badice.com ~ travel musings for the masses

I have a trip coming up soon and I have been debating which routing I want to take to and from the destination for weeks. This always happens. I try to get the most out of the trip by choosing flights that have longer routes optimal for sleeping on the way to the destination and routes that work best for my schedule for the return. On this particular trip I could fly a new carrier, RyanAir, to Berlin’s Schonefeld airport, overnight there and fly Berlin-Tegel to Newark and then onward to Portland or I could fly to Amsterdam, overnight there and then fly to Houston on a Boeing 787-9 (a new type of plane for me) and then onward to Portland.

I ended up choosing the latter flight option because as a few people pointed out on Twitter, wouldn’t I want to avoid Newark at all costs? Well sure, but I love trying out a new carrier and I really enjoy Berlin. The Amsterdam flight will be fine and I am staying at the on-airport property Sheraton so it will be a quick 10 minute walk to get to the check-in counters in the morning, but I am still questioning my decision.

This is the one aspect of travel that I am terrible at, the actual planning. I question myself over and over and over and usually come to a conclusion only to continue questioning myself until I actually take the flight. Then who knows, I may question myself again later.

In any case, here’s to 2016 and seeing new places!

Iran’s blogfather: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are killing the web (The Guardian)

Even before I went to jail, though, the power of hyperlinks was being curbed. Its biggest enemy was a philosophy that combined two of the most dominant, and most overrated, values of our times: newness and popularity. (Isn’t this embodied these days by the real-world dominance of young celebrities?) That philosophy is the stream. The stream now dominates the way people receive information on the web. Fewer users are directly checking dedicated webpages, instead getting fed by a never-ending flow of information that’s picked for them by complex and secretive algorithms.

I miss when people took time to be exposed to opinions other than their own, and bothered to read more than a paragraph or 140 characters. I miss the days when I could write something on my own blog, publish on my own domain, without taking an equal time to promote it on numerous social networks; when nobody cared about likes and reshares, and best time to post.

The whole article is worth reading but that last paragraph is a truth I can’t agree with enough. It seems like it is harder and harder to just write something and have someone read it or take a picture and have people enjoy it. Instead everything has to be “curated” and cared for to catch as many views and likes as possible.

I am even guilty of it here. On Twitter I linked to my link post here rather than the article itself. I want people to read my thoughts on the article rather than the article alone…

What it feels like to be adopted at 17

This beautiful and sad story of pain, suffering, and ultimately redemption and healing is worth reading.

Afterwards there was a moment when I hugged my mom, and all my siblings came around me and wrapped their slinky little arms around legs or purses or whatever they could get to. My dad even bumbled in on it, and he’s not one to get very emotional. I was shaking and I couldn’t let go of my mom — memories of the things they had done to fight for me over the years shot through me like fire. I closed my eyes and rested on her shoulder. I had found my way home. These people had always been my family.

Seeing as we are just a few days from Christmas, I thought this was a fitting story to share (even though the original is a couple of years old) since it took place around the same date in 1943. The story is that of a B-17 crew that was trying to make its way back to England after being heavily damaged during a bombing mission over mainland Europe. The crew was injured and the plane was flying lower and slower than usual, making them a giant target for German anti-aircraft gunners and fighter pilots. The German fighter pilot who rose to intercept them instead, incredibly spared them.

As Stigler’s fighter rose to meet the bomber, he decided to attack it from behind. He climbed behind the sputtering bomber, squinted into his gun sight and placed his hand on the trigger. He was about to fire when he hesitated. Stigler was baffled. No one in the bomber fired at him.

He looked closer at the tail gunner. He was still, his white fleece collar soaked with blood. Stigler craned his neck to examine the rest of the bomber. Its skin had been peeled away by shells, its guns knocked out. He could see men huddled inside the plane tending the wounds of other crewmen.

Then he nudged his plane alongside the bomber’s wings and locked eyes with the pilot whose eyes were wide with shock and horror.

Stigler pressed his hand over the rosary he kept in his flight jacket. He eased his index finger off the trigger. He couldn’t shoot. It would be murder.

You can read the full story on CNN or buy the book, A Higher Call, from Amazon (Referral link).

It’s a great story and a reminder of the grace and mercy that we can show each other everyday, even in the hardest of circumstances.

Why isn’t it much, much faster to fly west in an airplane, given that the Earth is spinning at 700-1000 miles per hour relative to its center? This video answers that question and even describes how some routes are faster going west due to upper level winds caused by the Coriolis effect.

This, along with great circle paths are some of the fascinating things about air travel .

The Grouchy Chef

Before you get to the menu, you first have to get through the manifesto.

It’s a binder of rules presented to diners at Mukilteo’s Grouchy Chef restaurant.

No shoveling food in your mouth like at some cheap eatery (or at home).

No blowing your nose or fixing your makeup at the table. No clinking crystal glasses. No shorts. No sandals. No personal requests. No frills. No substitutions.

Don’t like it?

Eat elsewhere, said Takayuki Masumoto, the chef with the curmudgeonly persona.

Interesting dining concept. I especially love that Chef Masumoto is doing four-course dinners for $15. Maybe if I get some time I will have to make a trip to Snohomish County.

The alarm buzzed, I rolled over, shutting off the annoying chime I set it to like I do every morning. I sat up, started to move my feet from the bed to the floor and all of the sudden it felt like I was floating. “I must still be really tired” I told myself as I put my feet on the floor and stood up. Then I was reaching for the wall balancing myself. Straight to the restroom and then back to bed, the whole time feeling like I was falling over. I send an e-mail to my boss: “Not feeling well, will work from home today.”

That’s how my Friday started. It is now Tuesday, four days after I first experienced the worst vertigo in my life, and that vertigo is still around, rearing it’s ugly head any time I try to do something quickly. Turn my head; Falling. Bend over to grab something; Falling. Rollover in bed; Falling. Normalcy seems to have come to a screeching halt on Friday. The doctor’s office was booked full when all of this hit so my wife took me to a non-emergency clinic, neither of us put vertigo into the “critical” column, ruling out the emergency room. I’ll just say the drive there involved a lot of nausea (and its results).

The staff were prompt in looking at me and quickly ruled out a neurological issue. They settled on something I had never heard of, vestibular neuritis. Essentially it is an inflammation of the inner ear, usually caused by a viral infection. There are not a lot treatment options, basically control the vertigo, nausea, vomiting, etc. as much as possible. The staff at the clinic said it could be a week or a month until it dissipates. The vertigo medication has done little to relieve my symptoms but my body seems to have adjusted to the nausea, at least somewhat.

After a short discussion, my wife and I decide a second opinion is in order and I made a follow-up appointment with my family practice for Monday night. We went and the doctor again confirms no neurological worries as well as the vestibular neuritis diagnosis. My vertigo is not dependent enough of direction to be BPPV, which has a few different treatment options. There is also a slight chance that what I have is something called Meniere’s Disease, but the doctor wants to hold off testing to see if my symptoms dissipate.

Today, Tuesday, has been a little worse than the last two days. There is ringing in both of my ears and I don’t seem as “sharp” as I did yesterday. Doing little things like taking a shower have become tedious adventures that require my full attention. I think the only way to describe it is to imagine being on a Merry-go-Round and spinning as fast as you can, then stepping off and trying to do your taxes. Now apply that to everything you do. Even this post is hard to write. Focusing is not easy when you are putting a lot of brain power into making sure you don’t fall over. I am otherwise healthy though, so when we walked down to the car to go to the office, I’m sure I just looked drunk.

I am otherwise healthy. I have to remember that. This puts on hold a lot of things that I had planned and it triples the amount of work my wife is doing on day to day basis but she has taken it in stride. We can hope and pray this dissipates quickly but if it doesn’t, we keep moving together. Well, I’ll probably be a few steps behind her holding her hand, balancing myself.

Craig Karamin and Ezequiel Minaya for the Wall Street Journal:

Marriott International Inc. said Monday that it has agreed to acquire Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. in a deal worth $12.2 billion that will create the world’s largest hotel company with more than a million rooms globally.

Under the terms, Marriott will forward 0.92 share along with $2 in cash for each Starwood share, for a total of $11.9 billion in stock and $340 million in cash. The transaction has a value of $72.08 a Starwood share.

I can’t say that I am thrilled by this news. I used to stay at Marriott properties almost exclusively and was never all that impressed. There were a few standout locations that I enjoyed staying at but a number of them were poorly maintained or just poorly built (lots of noise through the walls). My Marriott status was Platinum for quite a while but I never saw much benefit from that status and I actually had to deal with Marriott’s rather quick expiry of points more than once.

At the end of the day, these buyouts and mergers are not about you and I the customers but about the shareholders and the health of the business. We will have to wait and see what this means for the different aspects of the rewards and loyalty programs of both hotel chains.

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The NY Times piece on what is happening to the Nazi sites in the historic city of Nuremberg is a look into the conundrum of up-keeping history while not honoring it.

In this city, the rallying point for Hitler, is the largest piece of real estate bequeathed by the Nazis, and a burden only increasing with time.

First comes the sheer physical size: a parade ground bigger than 12 football fields. A semicircular Congress Hall that dwarfs any structure at Lincoln Center. Great Street, more than one-and-a-half miles long, with no structures on either side — a modern Appian Way where the storm troopers strutted between the old Nuremberg of Albrecht Dürer and the rallies idolizing the Führer.

Then there are its troubled history and the far stickier question of what to do with it. “These are not simple memorials,” said Mathias Pfeil, chief curator of historic sites in Bavaria, “because they symbolize a time we can only wish had never happened.”

I have visited Nuremberg quite a few times and the Nazi sites always strike me as a strange intersection of history, hatred, and remembrance. Last time I visited I was with my dad and grandfather and there happened to be a heavy metal festival taking place on the site, with Metallica being the headliner. It was strange to hear metal being played as you read about the horrors of the Holocaust. During my second visit to the city, I even wrote in the caption for this photo about the strange dichotomy at the Nazi rally grounds.

Hitler stood here multiple times to give speeches during Nazi rallies. On this particular day it’s being used for a children’s marathon. The German people are torn on how to use these landmarks, they cannot be forgotten, yet they should not be glorified.

Zeppelinfeld Stadium
So where is the line between teaching younger generations about the atrocities committed in the name of the Third Reich and glorifying it? The story touches on the fact that most Nurembergers under the age of 25 have no historical context with which to view the rally grounds. They have always been there during their lifetime and associated with nothing that resembled war or struggle.

If you do visit Nuremberg, the Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände (Documentation Center at the Nazi Rally Grounds) is a fascinating and sobering look at how the Nazi party took hold in Nuremberg, Munich, and finally Berlin. The center also tells the story of the Holocaust, the eventual loss by Germany, and the Nuremberg trials. It is on the site of the rally grounds and you can walk around them after visiting the exhibit.