On travel, of which I do a lot

That’s so Colorado

Thursday, September 3, 2015 

“…Not allowed in the cargo hold: lithium batteries, e-cigarettes, personal vapes.”

Posted at 13:04:47 UTC

Category: placestravel

United’s Magic Trays

Thursday, September 3, 2015 

@United has new coach trays that are coated with a material that has an amazing coefficient of friction.  They are not sticky at all—there’s no adhesion effect—it is all friction.  Even low surface energy plastics don’t slide on it at all.

The approximately 75-80° angle in the picture is the point at which the cup topples over itself.  It isn’t adhered to the surface and it doesn’t appear to slide at all before toppling.

Super Friction Tray

This would be the perfect coating for a smart phone pad in a car.

Posted at 11:00:39 UTC

Category: Fabricationphotoplanestechnologytravel

Lufthansa Business Class

Friday, February 27, 2015 

I’ve occasionally had to buy business on poorly planned Lufthansa intra-Europe flights. While Lufthansa long-haul premium seats are possibly the best in the business, on short-haul/intra-Europe flights, LH business class seats would seam a little mean in most carrier’s coach sections.

There is no difference between coach seats and business class, none at all. In business all middle seats are blocked out, but that isn’t that hard to find in coach. It is efficient to scale business, it involves only moving a rack-mounted divider that is the only obvious differentiation in the classes.

In both the seats are substandard to the amenities one usually expects, especially on a long haul flight:

– little padding on the seats
– cramped seat pitch (worse than econ +)
– typical economy seat width
– no in seat power (not even a usb port)
– no personalized IFE

Such limitations would be cheap in economy, but in business they are, perhaps we should say “disappointing.” Neither the economy nor the business class zone is going to leave the passenger well-rested (IST-FRA is a long enough flight that rest matters); such a flight is a grim endurance test for everyone. But it is very egalitarian in shared suffering, though not particularly egalitarian in pricing.  And were LH business not priced competitively with other carrier’s business, the disparity in services wouldn’t seem quite so jarring.

LH is, of course, efficient and well organized, but every other airline I’ve flown that has a business class has far, far better business class, even those that can’t really manage the basics.

Posted at 17:01:05 UTC

Category: planestravel

Basra Snow Storm

Sunday, February 8, 2015 

I was feeling a little left out, reading posts by people digging out of snow storms and here I am in Basra where it gets down to 10C at night sometimes and usually hits the mid 20’s during the day.  Rough.  But the weather here came through with our own sort of snow storm.


Blizzard Brown-out conditions

Starting to look like a brown-out!



Snow covered yard furniture!


Obligatory shot of the yard furniture getting covered.


I've got snow on my head!


Kitty’s head is starting to show some accumulation.


Can't see more than a few hundred meters with this snow!


With all this blowing through you can barely see a few hundred meters!


starting to accumulate!


It’s really starting to accumulate. Where’s the snow blower?


Takes special cleaning to get that snow off.


It takes some special cleaning after playing out in it.

Posted at 06:20:38 UTC

Category: catsphotoplacestravelweather

Cat Watch

Monday, February 2, 2015 

Cat Watch
The twins resting after a busy day.


The Twins

Posted at 17:48:24 UTC

Category: catsphototravel

Family Feud Basra Style

Saturday, December 13, 2014 

Gunfire is pretty common here, perhaps even more common than in Oakland though usually for the same reasons: celebrating holidays, sports victories, weddings, that sort of stuff.  It is kind of fun to listen to and watch tracers and stuff, but usually the villa is also celebrating in an obvious way; when you hear gunfire you also hear cheers, at least at night.

This evening the house was quiet, but the gunfire sure wasn’t.  The guys tell me it was a tribal feud in the neighborhood, quite close from the sound of it.  This is a low-fi recording from my phone.

Posted at 17:13:13 UTC

Category: Audioplacestravel

Power Adventures In Iraq

Friday, December 12, 2014 

Plugging things in here is always an adventure. Most of the outlets are the horrible giant British style so they have interlocked grounds, but most appliances are European style, so plugging things in means either using something to jam open the ground interlock, breaking the interlock tabs with force, or dispensing with the plug entirely and just stuffing bare wires in the holes.

When using the latter method, it turns out the British plugs are actually kind of useful because toggling the ground tab with a screwdriver uses the interlocks to bind the wires in place.  You just hope the ground pin is wired to ground, not hot.  Usually it just isn’t wired to anything.

Most appliances and power strips here come from China and are the sort of manufacture China was famous in the US for about 30 years ago: taking something out of the package usually breaks it.  The wires inside are so thin it is amazing they survive and grounds are never, ever actually connected.  I have cables that on the inside have a ground insulator but no ground conductor inside the insulator.  Awesome!

But we just rewired the new villa and even though the ground isn’t wired (of course), the outlets are new and seem like they’re decent quality.  And we even got British style plugs to dispense with the highly problematic and very melt-prone plug adapters.  All seemed good until….

Uh oh.  Maybe it just needed to create a little vent….



Nope.  Melt down.  Good thing these have a built-in fuse…  (which is still fine, though encrusted in melted plastic).


Posted at 15:27:24 UTC

Category: phototechnologytravel

Cactus Farmer

Wednesday, December 25, 2013 

A few years back, when I was in 3rd or 4th Grade, my brother and I went to visit David and Jesse Lenat at their Cactus Farm. While we were exploring the green houses, their dad, Richard, gave us each a cactus to take home.

Mine lived in a small pot near the window through the rest of grade school and high school and then my mom cared for it through college. It grew into a little cluster of pencil thin green, spiky pads over the years.

After I graduated, moved to California, and got an apartment in SF; I was home for Christmas one year and took one of the pads wrapped in tissue to California. It grew well there and now produces big, bright yellow flowers every year.

This Christmas, I stuffed two tiny buds into glass bottles and brought them to Iraq and planted in the yard with one of the cat’s help (paw in the background).

Posted at 03:01:17 UTC

Category: catsGeopostphotoplaces


Friday, November 1, 2013 

destroyed tank.jpg
Posted at 12:51:24 UTC

Category: photoplacestravel

A Day Out And About In Basra

Sunday, March 10, 2013 

A day spent out reviewing alternate sites where unexpected underground obstructions impact construction means a chance to make new friends.

Iraqi Guards.jpg
Two of the excellent officers assigned to our detail get us through traffic and keep us safe.

New Friends.jpg

These days the attention we attract is welcome and fun.

Posted at 08:11:06 UTC

Category: placestravel