Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Play along at home now!

This was in a small plastic wrapper next to my ice tray. The question is...what IS it? I'll post the answer in a week. In the meantime, post your guess to the comments of the blog.

U.K. hotel room observations...

This being my first trip to Europe (and, of course, the U.K./England), I can't speak to whether these things are normal or not for a given hotel. Now, our room rate was £135 ($216.00) per that may influence things here...but I don't think we got our money's worth nonetheless. In the U.S., you would get a really nice minimum 4-star hotel room for that money, if not 5-star.

Heated towel racks. Nice! (Don't touch the bars...they're really hot!)

One view of the room (with terrorist/criminal on the TV). Two twin beds, which I think they knew no one really wanted individually, so they pushed them together to make it, in a sense, a king-sized bed. The workdesk was on the left, where the red chair was facing. And...inexplicably...the hair dryer was fixed inside a drawer of the work desk. I didn't get that.

The closet, and a pants-press on the wall by the door. Nice touch.

The waste baskets were the smallest I had ever seen. I do NOT have big feet. The shoe offers you an idea how small it was.

A no-steam iron. I've NEVER seen one of these in my life. With the type of plug that is used in the U.K. (everything is 240 volts rather than 120 here in the U.S.). In fairness, my co-worker in the room next door had a steam iron, which I later borrowed.

This seemed to almost be the standard everywhere I went, not just at the hotel: the wall sockets all had power switches. Almost all of them I saw...must be a electrical code type thing that requires 'em.

Something to hold you over

Been busy with work here in the UK, and finally got a 'net connection tonight. However, it's past midnight, and I need to get SOME sleep.

Here's a photo to hold you over for now, taken on the way back from the restaurant we ate at tonight. This is typical of the weather pattern we've had for the trip. Including the lack of daylight (the fact it was taken at 9:41pm at night is no excuse for the lack of daylight...).

UPDATE 12/3/2005: I've back-filled and added pictures since this blog was posted.

A good cop/bad cop dinner...

The good...

The bad...

The fish was a sea trout...but it had bones. Small, just thicker than a hair-like bones. Drove me freaking nuts. I only ate half of it. I was so paranoid about swallowing them that I couldn't take it.

The people I work with...when they're in the U.K.

Do I really hang out with these people?

Yes...I do. :)

Update: The parking lot lights just came on as well.

It's 3:53pm...

...and the pathway lighting outside just came on. Boy it gets dark early here in the UK in the winter!

The blog is awake

Went to 10:45pm last night (5:45pm Eastern) and woke up after 7 hours at 5:45am (12:45am Eatern). I'm so glad I jumped time zones...

Internet access at the hotel is expensive, but I will be using it tonight and posting photos. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The U.S. transportation system would be much neater...

...if we had some of these...

British Chinese...restaurants...

The Jade Wok...left this diner jaded by the time dinner was done...

The most meager portion of rice I've ever been served in a Chinese restaurant...until I realized that they were serving everyone family-style (lazy susan was on the table), and that there was more rice on the table. Everyone's meal became a 'rice bowl' affair. So what did I have?

Fried chicken with a chili sauce. As hot as they could make it. Chinese restaurants do NOT make hot food. At all. This was not hot, despite the obvious chilis/peppers in the photo above.

The blog is tired

I'm checked in at my hotel in Birmingham. Finally.


I wonder if they put one of these in everyone's room?

The blog has arrived in England, finally!

Flying over Europe

The weather isn't the best while flying over from Milan to Birmingham, unfortunately.


Not so much anything special other than looking at the sun. And the wing. And my camera's reflection.

The English countryside...

And more English countryside...with lots of snow!

Tiny bubbles...

Y'see, British Airways does it right. They give you a TINY can of soda...instead of wasting full cans on people. One can perfectly fills the standard airline cup you get for your drink...

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow....Italian style

Waiting for our next flight, and the snow is falling heavily...a thick, wet snow. And we need to go out on the tarmac to get to our plane. Yay....

Wonderful weather...just above freezing, with big, wet snowflakes coming down...

View from the shuttle bus that we were forced to wait in, with doors wide open, for 15 minutes before it took us to our plane. No heater...just 35 degree cold, wet wind. Nice.

Pictures from Milan

The first shop you see...the Ferrari shop. Went in and looked around...everything was VERY expensive. A small baby's polo shirt with an embroidered Ferrari logo was €59 (59 Euros), which is about $68. Yeesh! The cheapest thing I could find was a small Ferrari lapel pin for €15. Nope, no way. Not spending money here!

Harry Potter was feeling rather square while we were there...but was doing a good job guarding one of the terminal entrances, ready to zoom off with his Nimbux 2000!

When in Italy, eat what's right. I eventually got hungry and! In Italy! Figured I'd atleast TRY pizza over was generally the same, but the cheese had a sharper edge to it...almost like a nacho cheese. Their 'combo' was 2 slices of pizza (only needed one, they were HUGE) and a Diet Coke (sorry, 'Coke Light') was €7 (~$8.10).

Got to Milan!

Getting off the plane, onto the take a bus to the terminal from here. Look how big that engine is compared to the people next to it!

Our plane was named 'Argentario'. The plane behind it was 'Leonardo di Vinci'.

And, in what would be proper U.S. TSA fashion, except we're not in the U.S., we have to go through security...again!

Bah, it's only 2:30am for me...I can take this!

It's almost sunrise over Europe...

Been night most of the flight over...finally getting a peak of daylight on the horizon...

Coming into France now...

...just south of La Rochelle and north of Bordeux.

Breakfast was a warm biscuit with..i.I think...turkey, and possibly cheese. And a small danish. And coffee. And orange juice. And water.


Flight update

We're over the Bay of Biscay, just about to start flying over France, and I haven't gotten up all flight. Haven't really needed to. I'm on my 4th movie...couldn't sleep. Just got done with Mr. & Mrs. excellent movie....and I just started Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Not a bad movie selection overall.

They turn on the cabin lights...time for breakfast (it's 6:30am in Italy). Yum! Wonder what we'll get.

An hour and 35 minutes to go.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Blogging from halfway across the Atlantic

Nice economy. All the alcohol you want to drink (I'm 4 glasses of red wine down), dinner was a beef dish, and I'm into my second movie (Fantastic Four, first was The Island). My seat even has it's own coat rack. The night sky is beautiful. Lotsa stars.

37,000 feet. 2302 miles since we left. 646 mph. -76 degrees F outside. 2597 miles to go.

Movie...and a dinner...or is it the other way around?

Hmm...a nice selection of movies for me to choose...right from my seat! And a convenient coat hook!

Dinner! A bottle of wine (2 glasses worth), a beef dish, pasta, dinner roll (sitting in my coffee cup), some vegetables and a dessert I forgot to uncover.... Not too shabby!

Final views of home...for now...

Downtown Coral Gables in the top-middle of the photo

The Orange Bowl, and above it Little Havana and then Coconut Grove

Downtown Miami and Key Biscayne (the island at the top of the photo)

South Beach (technically, Miami Beach)

I spy...with my little eye...

...the plane that we'll likely be taking back to Miami from Paris on Friday...

Off to the UK! The long way!

The blog (me) is going to Europe for business for a few days...Birmingham, England to be exact. Via Milan, Italy.

It's going to be a long, long flight.

I leave Miami at 4:35pm Eastern and arrive in Milan at 7:55am (1:55am Eastern). I then leave Milan at 12:35pm (6:30am Eastern) and arrive in Birmingham at 1:35pm (8:35am Eastern). I will be at meetings from 8am-5pm (3am-12pm) Wednesday and Thursday. Friday I have a 6:30am flight out (1:30am Eastern), arriving home at 2:35pm (Eastern) after switching planes in Paris.

Sounds luxurious, doesn't it?

Waiting around for the a packed terminal...


Sunday, November 27, 2005

An old favorite...Jiffy Pop!

Haven't seen one of these in years. Thanks, Target!

Ready to eat!

Evil ducks....unite!

And, what's even spookier..notice how all their eyes are glowing. I think the white one is the leader.

Somewhere....over the...

We left the zoo at the perfect moment...right when it started to rain...and were treated to a beautiful rainbow.

Lions and tigers and bears...oh my!

My entire family (and by that, I mean my local sister, her husband and daughter-in-law, my parents, my sister from Colorado and her daughter, and my wife and kids) went to MetroZoo today and had a blast. I think today was singularly the most perfect day I've ever had at any zoo. The temperature was just right, the sun and clouds were just right, the animals were all about...and my family got along wonderfully! The kids had a blast...

White bengal tiger

And a normal one

I like to move it, move it. I like to move it, move it. He likes to...MOVE IT!

Okay...they didn't get up and sing and dance for me. Unfortunately.


This girl turtle was avoiding the boy turtle like you wouldn't believe. I can understand why. I've never seen a turtle run that fast. If I had video taped it, sped it up and played Benny Hill music, it would have been hilarious!

Nice gorilla...block everyone's view...

Hi, Mr. African Elephant!

Otter! Swimming about...and they chirp like birds.

Lions! No male, tho...even though they have one. Somewhere.

A type of stork...but I forget the name.

Meekrats! I mean, meerkats! I saw a great special on a HD channel recently where a guy studied these in the wild. In the wild...they do not consider humans to be predators and will climb all over you. Must be fascinating as hell.

Hey, the animals are taking pictures of us! Who's the freak in the mirror?

My Orangutan relatives never seem to be very excited when I visit...

Flamingos...a Florida staple!