Sunday Night

All is well in our little corner of Blantyre as the FORNESSA Networking Meeting begins in a few hours.

Due to flight delays several people were not able to make connecting flights to Blantyre and so approximately 10 people scheduled to attend our meeting are spending the night in Lilongwe.  These folks should be able to catch a morning hop to Blantyre and be at the conference centre by mid-day.  Hopefully.

Other random updates:

  • I am still kicking myself for not buying an additional power converter at the Johannesburg airport.  I was having trouble with the one I brought on this trip and now I am without a power converted.  Luckily Michael has one that I can use (very kind) but we have to share and that is not convenient to either of us.
  • The people who run the hotel are Pastuhn (I think).  The are Muslim and they have a stick no-alcohol policy.  The policy not only forbids alcohol from being served but it also prohibits alcohol from being brought onto the premises.  This is why we had our “ice-breaker” at a nearby Hotel.
  • I wish I could speak German or French.
  • The work of building a functioning technical network for FORNESSA seems more daunting by the hour.  Infrastructures at the institutions seem be even less than I have imagined.   (And I did not expect much.)  However I am feeling very happy about the connections I am making with the Information Managers.  Everyone seems to be highly motivated.  (Of course, it is still Sunday night.)
  • It is 10pm and Michael and I are sitting in the Board Room preparing for tomorrow.  Michael is working on a PPT and I am mostly just checking FS email and being on standby in case he wants to bounce ideas around.
  • Blantyre seems to always be smokey.
  • Still no sign of Maddona.

Afternoon Photos

A few photos from Sunday.  Hope to take more and better quality photos soon!

Gerald and Michael at Lunch

Gerald and Michael at Lunch

Hotel View

Hotel View

Michael Kleine Working Hard!

Michael Kleine Working Hard!

Lunch with Joe

Lunch with Joe

Sunday Morning In Blantyre

Sleep is one of the greatest things in the world.

After almost “face planting” into my dinner last night I somehow found the strength to stumble back to my room where I had one of the best nights rests in days.  Nothing quite like exhaustion to make the bed feel extra comfy.  I doubt I even turned over once before the alarm woke me 9 hours later.

Breakfast was wonderful.  Scrambled eggs, baked beans and toast.  And lots and lots of coffee!

My breakfast companions were three people from Burkina Faso.  One man is a professor of forestry, another is the head of the IT department at the insitution, and the lady is a professor who studies about seeds and germination.  They all speak french as a first language but their English was quite good.  Still, it helped that I have paper and pen nearby to write out a few words that we could not understand when spoken.

Internet is still “touch and go”.  Michael is letting me use his PC to check email and it is a little differnet keyboard layout so you may see more typos than usual.  My computer has also been giving some odd errors but it seems to be working OK.

I have taken photos but uploading them will have to wait for a more dependable Internet connection – or when I have more patience.

Now I am going to check on the meeting location to make sure that everything is set for tomorrow!  Hope to have one last post of the day around 2-3pm ET on Sunday.

Malawi

malawi-flag A quick note because Internet connections in Blantyre are “spotty” at best.

Michael and I made the flights to Malawi without incident and found a taxi into town.  The Hotel is OK but we may change locations tomorrow.  Silly Michael perefers to have a room with running water.  I tell him that he is spoiled.

Actually things are fine and we had an excellent dinner.  (Indian food.)

Almost 9pm local time and so I will call it a night.  Hope to have an Internet connection again tomorrow!

“You Are A Lucky Man”

So…. this was a bit odd…..

While having lunch a man walked past me and stopped to talk.

“Deutsh?  “English?”
English.
“I am a fortune teller.  I can see that you are a lucky man.  I can tell by your face”
Really…….
“Next moth you will be three times lucky”
OK…  (I said with trepidation wondering what scam was coming my way….)
“These letters are lucky for you – these letters mean something:  ‘M’ ‘B’ ‘L'”.
I am still wondering what the heck is going on when another guy shows up and tells me to believe whatever the first man told me.  (Gotta be a scam, or so I am thinking….)
“You must determine what those letters mean.  You are very luck!  Next month.  You will see!”

Then both men walked away…..

A scam?  Perhaps, but doubtful.  They never asked me for anything or came close to me or my personal belongings.  (Or maybe it was going to be a scam and they changed their minds for some unknown reason.)

Just some odd people on the street?  Could be.  There are odd folks everywhere in the world.

Some true fotune teller?  Of couse I would like to think so.  (Thenagain, if he said that something horrible would happen I would not want him to be for real. ;-) )  Guess I’ll just have to wait and see if “M, B, and L” give me good luck next month!

Salmon Pizza

Salmon Pizza

Salmon Pizza

At mid-day I took a quick ride into town and had lunch at a sidewalk café.  (Not the Starbucks!).  In the mood for pizza I noticed an Italian place and was soooo happy to see Salmon Pizza on the menu.  I have had salmon on pizza before and I always wonder why more places do not serve this dish.  Yummy!

Traditional Viennese café

Traditional Viennese café

Traditional Viennese café

Submitted without comment.

Friday Morning in Vienna

Exciting View From My Hotel Window

Exciting View From My Hotel Window

ahh….  a good nights sleep…..

The stopover at the Vienna airport has not been cheap but I believe adding this extra day has is well worth the time and expense.  Wednesday/Thursday I could feel myself getting drained from the flight over the pond and, considering my past experiences with international travel, I need plenty of rest to make sure I stay healthy.

And thanks to Ambien, I was able to sleep though most of the night.  :-)

This morning I did a smattering of work while I had a long leisurely breakfast with LOTS of coffee to ensure that I am going to stay awake though the day and be adjust to the correct timezone.  So far, the physical adjustment has been MUCH easier than going Asia.

Now is time to gather my things.  Checkout is at noon and because I have a few hours between clearning my room and meeting Michael for our next set of flights, I plan to take the train into town in search of the famous Viennese Coffee.

Quarter Mile Radius

It is night fall at the airport and I am ready to call it a day.  Not much to report so far…..  I walked around the area (“the area” is probably not more than a quarter mile radius from the hotel and consists of the airport terminal and surrounding parking garages).  Even though a train trip into the town Centre was fairly cheap, seeing Vienna will have to wait until tomorrow or some other day.

Tomorrow will be about doing some more pre-work for the meeting, trying to find a cache, and taking a few photos.

Tomorrow night will be about staring another set of plane rides to the south east of Africa.

Austria

flag_austriaI have made it to Vienna!  Well, to be precise, I have made it to the Vienna Airport Hotel which is  about 100 meters from baggage claim at the airport.  Downtown Vienna is a few miles away and I don’t think I will be seeing that anytime soon.

The first set of flights were uneventful except for turbulence flying through a storm from AVL to ATL.  My luggage made it fine and that is a HUGE plus

Overall the 5,000+ mile trip took 21 hours (door to door).  Not too bad considering I had to go through customs in Frankfurt.

After arriving at the hotel I have slept a few hours and now my big decision is to:  a) do some more prep work for the upcoming meeting in Blantyre, b)  walk a mile to a Geocache, or c) fall back asleep…..

So far, spending “quality time” with the pillow is looking like the best option.

There’s a song that they sing when they take to the highway

Though the Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frosting
With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go

–Sweet Baby James

I always loved those lyrics from James Taylor.

I am now at the Asheville airport.  Today the Appalachians seem dream-like and there is about 20 miles behind me and 20,000 more to go.

Thought of the Day

Is there anything more stimulating than creating a Powerpoint Presentation?  (Besides watching one, of course.)

Policy Podcast: Making a Passport

From the State Department’s YouTube channel: “Under Secretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy and State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack discuss the production process for creating a passport and its security features.”

The video is a bit long, 10 minutes, which makes it outside the normal range for Web delivery but it’s kinda interesting.

A more interesting thought is why don’t more US Federal agencies take advantage of video?

Can you imagine a “US Forest Service YouTube Channel”?

FORIC Prototype Web Pages

I finally got around to making prototype Web pages for the FORIC project tonight.  Dunno why I had such a mental block for doing this work but I think it is because I wanted the pages to be “great”.    Finally I decided that there is no way I could do a “great” prototype because the the process is so new and the requirements are not set.  Even though I want more, I had to settle for “something”.

Lots more work to do on the Web site and on the PPTs but I gotta sleep too….

FORIC Prototype

FORIC Prototype

There is no teleporter!

I just looked over my travel schedule and see that I will have a minimum of 85 hours travel time. These 85 hours do NOT include travel to and from airports – just time in planes or in airports waiting on the next plane.

85 hours.

That is:

  • 3.5 days of travel
  • 57 hours of air time
  • 28 hours in airports waiting on the the next flight

Ahh… the joys of international travel! :-)

Airport TerminalInside the PlaneAirborne