Day 3 - Krakow and more pleasant surprises

We left our hotel in Frankfurt this morning at 6:45 and headed to the airport. No need to check-in since we had boarding passes. About 5 min after we arrived, we were sitting at gate A2 waiting for our flight to Krakow. Boarding was pretty painless as well - a very short bus ride from the terminal to the plane, a Boeing 757-500. Turned out to be about the smoothest flight I've been on - zero turbulence, and a smooth landing at 10:30 in Krakow. Our bags made it, and after collecting them, it was off to the apartments.

This is where the biggest surprise of the day came in - These things are INCREDIBLE. They are each 2 bedroom apartments, newly furnished, absolutely wonderful in every way, and they have A WASHING MACHINE!!! NO HANDWASHING!!

Day 2 - Frankfurt am Mein FTW!!!

Frankfurt am Main FTW!

I love Germany. Last time I was here (2006, aka the year of the Group From HELL) was pretty much non-confrontational. Biggest story that day - Ms. Frazier left her hat on the Tram from the train station to the Hotel, and we all waved bye-bye as it rode off into the wild mustard and bratwurst flavored yonder.

This time was much different. And so far, better.

We left IAH (George Bush Intercontinental-Houston) about 40min late for whatever reason. Prevailing winds were in the right direction to deal with the unpronouncable Icelandic Volcano (Ekaslkdfhkljasdfjklhasldjkhfasdsomethingantother) so we basically had a direct flight to Frankfurt and arrived pretty much On-Time. We were to have a 5 Hour layover - As of right now (05:32am hooray jet-lag) the layover has morphed into almost 17hrs. What??

At Little Rock National

We're on our way! We've made it to Little Rock National Airport, the best airport in the country IMHO. Cleared security without any issues (except for the student with all the zippers on their pants), and watching the chaos that is Southwest Airlines try to figure out how to board. I prefer airlines that actually allow you to pick your seat before hand....which is why we are flying Continental (or united or whatever you call them these days). A couple of students are trying to scarf down the only pizza they've known (pizza hut) and gulp their last Dr. Pepper (with ice mind you!) before we head for less humid pastures. Keep checking - more to follow.

Weekend Drive

Candy and I took full advantage of the nice weather last weekend to get out and drive around. Some of the fall colors are starting, so we headed up north to see if they were better. In all honesty, we were probably a couple of weeks early, but with our crazy schedules you have to take the opportunity when you can. The area around Lake Norfork was very pretty, as was the part of the route that followed the river up toward Mountain Home. Our route was Batesville - Melbourne - Mountain Home - Bakersfield, MO - West Plains, MO, Cherokee Village - Batesville. Over the 250 or so miles, my Jetta got 38.7mpg - not bad for puttering around the hills...

Customer Service

Dear Companies of the World:

You want our money. We want your products and services. In most cases, there are numerous firms competing for the same consumers. How do we, the consumers, decide which to do business with? Price is only part of the equation. Quality is only part of it as well. Service (especially these days) is yet another KEY part of it. That's right, service. In these days of near-perfect flow of information, prices and quality are fairly uniform. If you want to get us as a customer, and more importantly keep us (costs way less to keep one than find a new one) offer decent service. Most of us do not complain and are not out to cheat you, but that's the way you treat us. When we call or ask questions, answer them. Give us the benefit of the doubt. We are all not liars. In fact, most of us are honest to a fault. If you treat us better, we have a tendency to do the same to you. If you would just watch out for our best interests a bit more, we might not write letters like this one, and might just be inclined to spend more of our money with you. It's a win-win. Think about it, will ya?

Signed,

Disappointed Consumers

UNIX System Monitoring

When you maintain several servers each running several virtual machines and have anything else at all to do, it is impossible to keep your eyes on them 100% of the time. There are a handful of software packages out there that can do this for you, but most are either too bulky, too complicated, or lack the features that you want. Scott Pinkston referred me to one the other day called Monit, which is the first one of these programs that I actually liked. Most of the others just have too much. This one is short, and to the point. Monit installs very quickly, and runs in the background as a daemon. One very simple config file holds the configuration data for the services you want to monitor, and if you so choose, you can have a secure webpage display stats on your services. It can also be configured to email you (or call the beeper, etc...) if certain events occur, and best of all, is super lightweight.

MacBook Upgrade - Snow Leopard

I just finished upgrading my 13.3" MacBook (Intel Core Duo 2.0, 2gb - its 3 yrs old) to Mac OS X Snow Leopard. The installation was absoutely painless - I think that I clicked 1 button and typed in a password and waited....and waited....and waited. It took about an hour to upgrade, but it seems to work perfectly. YMMV.

New York City - Day 4

Today was the best weather we've had the whole trip. Beautiful sunshine and about 80 with a light breeze. It was also the best pastrami sandwich I've ever eaten either. We went to the famous Carnegie Deli and ate way too much for lunch. The pastrami sandwich probably had at least 1.5lbs of fresh pastrami on it. Oh man....I also got some chopped liver which was, as they say, "to die for," and a Potato Knish, which was very tasty. Afterwards, we wandered around the area of Rockefeller Center, seeing all the sites there. We went back into Chelsea and just strolled the streets of that area for most of the rest of the day. Ended it off with a dinner at a very hip thai restaurant, and am now packing for the trip home. The day's pictures are here

The big apple was quite an interesting experience. It is similar to many large European cities I've visited, but at the same time had it's own charm and class. It hasn't stolen my heart away from Paris, but then again, I think that I've left a part of me here as well. Candy loved it. She's still in awe of the size of the buildings, the sheer number of people, and the overwhelming amount of taxi cabs...something tells me this won't be my last trip here....

New York City - Day 2 and 3

We've tried to not do the tourist things, since I am one of the established Anti-Tourists of the world, but over the last days have succumbed to a couple. Last night we went up to the top of the Empire State Building, and the view was worth ever penny we spent to get there. You could see the whole world from up there...today's ride through Central Park in a horse-drawn carriage was a bit touristy, but scored major points with Candy...;o)

New York City - Day 1

Well, we made it to NYC. Left Memphis this morning on Continental Flight 2291 heading to EWR (Newark Liberty International). Equipment was an Embraer ERJ 145 Regional Jet, and was a pretty good flight. Had a slight delay on departure because of weather somewhere between NYC and MEM, but overall not bad. Especially for Candy's 1st trip on a real airplane. Took the train to Penn Station and a cab over to the hotel in the Chelsea area of Manhattan.

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