August 31, 2010


Yup, I'm at it again. I'm in the midst of 24 hours of travel at the moment. (I didn't even realize til yesterday that it ended up being that way.) But like I said before, though my travels may look glamorous, they are done (fairly) on the cheap. Which is why I'm flying from LA to Minneapolis to Amsterdam (where I am writing this), and now about to jump on a train to get to Berlin. Thats the downside of flying using frequent flier miles - sometimes you just gotta work with what ya got. In the end, it'll all be fine... I dont think anyone trekking across Europe should be whining about it. So I won't. (at least not now - I reserve the right to later) Come on along, the next weeks should be interesting... maybe.. :)

August 29, 2010

traveltip: speak

Forgive me if this states the obvious, but sometimes I am surprised by the reluctance of people I talk with to travel to Europe because of hesitancy about the language barrier. While I'm sure this applies other places too, my experience in Europe has always been fairly easy. The biggest advice I can offer is to try to learn basic phrases in the languages of the countries you go to. It isn't even so much about being able to speak them, but moreso to start an exchange that way and show that you're making the effort. Its a sign of respect, and sadly one that Americans often neglect. Once you fumble through a phrase, the common response is a smile and "I speak English." Don't start in English and expect them to speak it as well - most anyone in the US would be equally offended by someone expecting that in their language. (The difference, of course, is that we rarely do speak theirs.) When going to Italy to work the Olympics, NBC sent us a basic language phrase card that fit in your pocket. It was incredibly handy. Now you can find sheets like this online and print them yourself. They're great to check for basics like numbers or days of the week and greetings. And if nothing else, ask someone. When in Prague, I found myself completely clueless about language, so I asked the desk clerk at my hotel how to say basics like "Thank you," "please" and "I'm sorry I don't speak Czech." As I left, he stopped me to say "that was really nice of you to ask." Don't deny yourself the opportunity to experience other worlds. Just make the effort. It pays off in spades.
  • free printable travel phrase guides
  • August 28, 2010


    Finally getting to the update promised a few days ago... My friend Matt from Manitoba came to visit for a few days this past week, and on Tuesday afternoon we took a road trip along the coast up to Ventura. It was the first time I had spent any time in Ventura or Oxnard instead of just driving past, and for some reason I always thought of them as farther away then they are. Once we got past the ugly mess of Malibu, the rest of the drive was really nice. We left in the afternoon (after food trucks, of course!) and were there before evening to wander the town, grab dinner, and wander some more, along with taking the unplanned scenic route on the way there and back. It was one of those "why don't I do this more often" things and I'm glad Matt pushed me to go.

    August 26, 2010


    yeah, still a little busy. So those pics I promised from our road trip will have to wait. Instead enjoy the California sunset from the freeway heading into downtown... In a few weeks I'm gonna be homesick for these sunsets.

    August 24, 2010


    Sorry for blog absence. My friend Matt has been visiting the last few days from Manitoba, and on top of everything, its been a pretty busy period work-wise. He's been great at putting up with my split attention, but today we finally got in an afternoon and evening road trip up the coast and back. More details tomorrow, but here are some pics in the meantime...

    August 20, 2010

    optimistic austerity

    Continuing with the themes of "stolen" galleries and and travel (particularly travel to Germany and France, where my head seems to be stuck lately outside of work stuff,) this is some of the work of German photographer Matthias Heiderich. I'm not sure how I stumbled upon this originally, but I believe I came upon his Behance gallery via I especially love his Color Berlin series and how well it captures the space and tone you can often find in Berlin - a mixture of austerity and optimism that is so prevalent. And as the page mentions, you can also buy prints of his work. Check it out here:
  • Behance: Matthias Heiderich
  • August 18, 2010

    well toned

    If you've traveled by train in France, you probably know the distinctive musical tone that begins all announcements over the public address system in their train stations. (click the top link at the bottom of this post to hear it) Its one of the most distinctive sounds I've ever heard used for something like that. At first it seemed odd; in time it became comforting. And now its a cue that instantly conjures up the feeling of being in some amazing place in the middle of some adventure. (Of course, I suppose if you are a commuter there, it could just as easily give you a sense of dread.) Its everything a jingle should be - singularly distinctive and recognizable, but versatile for practical as well as commercial uses. While searching trains for my upcoming trip, the tone came into my head. I don't know why I never thought to look before, but a search brought up all kinds of tributes, including longer songs and music pieces. Two of my favorites are linked below. I don't know whether the top one is created by a fan or a longer commercially created version of the tone, but I like it either way. The second is clearly a fan-created techno song. If nothing else, they're amusing, but from a marketing perspective, they're also a tribute to how well the jingle has tapped into the soul and psyche of their customers. To me, they just bring up that exciting feeling of another adventure in Europe.
  • SNCF announcement tone
  • SNCF longer version of jingle music
  • SNCF remixed as techno song
  • August 16, 2010

    stolen moments

    My Dad sent an email yesterday with a link to this gallery of 70 amazing photographs called "Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943" from the Denver Post. They say that these are some of the only color photographs of "the effects of the Depression on America’s rural and small town populations," and were taken by photographers from the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information. They're an amazing look at daily life from most any aspect that you can imagine, but they especially intrigue me knowing that this is the era of both my Mom and Dad's childhood - not to say that either grew up specifically in environments like those pictured, but knowing that viewed as a whole, that this was the state of their America. The collection is worth a pause.
  • Captured: America in Color 1939-1943
  • August 15, 2010

    stay there

    Its no secret that travel is my biggest vice. If there's anything I "waste" money on, its travel. That said, I go to great pains to make my travel affordable, so its far from as extravagant as it probably looks. While there are cheaper ways (my sister is a pro at that and often stays at hostels, which are often much nicer overseas than the typical US hostel,) one thing I find myself doing more often is renting apartments instead of hotel rooms. You can still find amenities like internet, plus you usually get a kitchen, and sometimes even washing machines (a bonus on long and overseas trips - pack less, wash more). You also have more privacy and they're often as nice if not nicer than a hotel. But best of all, you experience neighborhoods more like a local instead of a tourist. This is much more common overseas than in the US, but its gradually catching on here, especially due to sites like On airbnb, you can rent an entire apartment, a room in someones place, or even just a bed or couch in a shared space, depending on your preference, budget, and level of adventure. Another good site to look for in the US is, however that is generally geared more toward vacation rentals, so places are often bigger and higher priced (plus searching for specific availability is extremely difficult on Or, dont forget to use Google, especially for overseas travel (or maybe Yahoo, now that Google has become evil.) Since this kind of travel is more common for Europeans, there are lots of sites, often city-specific, that offer listings. The pics above are all places I have stayed for less than I would have paid for a hotel in places from Vancouver to Boston to Paris (sometimes as little as two nights.) I'm in the midst of finalizing this years European adventure, and for the first time it looks like I may be doing the entire thing with no hotels. Stay tuned to see how it goes.

    August 13, 2010


    Sorry for the blog silence lately, a lot of stuff going on always means the blog falls to the wayside. So, you guessed it, you get another gallery of some recent (and not-so-recent) pics. As always, if you're curious what I'm up to or what I'm thinking or what I think is interesting, the best and most efficient place to check is my twitter feed.

    August 10, 2010


    just a few pics from the recent weekend in Washington that didn't make it in any other postings. Most of these are from around the Columbia River Gorge where my Dad grew up.