June 13, 2011

Monday Evening Scene

Posted by jez at 9:38 PM

May 28, 2011

The places in between

Paul Theroux:

There are those who believe that technology has hijacked the whole of the visitable earth, snatched it away, miniaturised and simplified it, making travel so accessible on a flickering computer screen that there is no need to go anywhere except to your room. In a related way, the travel book is believed to have been not just diminished but made irrelevant by the same technology. Since we know everything - the information is easily dialled up - and the world has been so thoroughly winnowed by travellers, what is the use of a travel book? Where on earth would you go to remark each anxious toil, each eager strife, or watch the busy scenes of crowded life? Surely it has all been written.

This isn't a new conjecture. In 1972, in a blasé magazine piece of postmodernism, entitled "Project for a Trip to China", the American writer Susan Sontag sat in her New York apartment ruminating on China. Sontag was that singular pedant, a theorist of travel rather than a traveller. She concluded her piece: "Perhaps I will write the book about my trip to China before I go."

To such complacent and lazy minds, here is a suggestion. Try Mecca. After prudently having himself circumcised, learning to speak fluent Arabic, dressing as an Afghan dervish and calling himself Mirza Abdullah, the British explorer Sir Richard Burton travelled to the holy city of Mecca, a deeply curious unbeliever among devout pilgrims. This was in 1853. He published his account of this trip in three volumes several years later, his Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah. The last non-Muslim to do this and to write about it was Arthur John Wavell, of the distinguished British military family. An army veteran, and farmer in Mombasa, Kenya, Wavell developed an interest in Islam. In order to know more, he disguised himself as a Swahili-speaking Zanzibari, made the pilgrimage and wrote about it in A Modern Pilgrim in Mecca (1912). Wavell took the trip in the winter of 1908-1909, more than a century ago. No unbeliever has done it since. Now there's a challenge for a technology-smug couch potato who prates that the travel book is over. Of course, this daring trip is not easy. It is, perhaps, not a journey for a gap-year student wishing to make his or her mark as a travel writer but it is a book I would want to read.

Posted by jez at 9:41 PM

May 10, 2011

A Wonderful Vietnamese Lunch

Delicious and $6.00. The bowl contained, from the bottom up: lettuce, cucumbers, rice noodles, carrots, nuts and grilled shrimp.

Posted by jez at 10:02 PM

April 26, 2011

Lonely Planet's Ambassador

Amy Yee:

Tony Wheeler, co-founder of Lonely Planet, sits in the lobby of an austere five-star hotel here. Soft-spoken and down-to-earth, the 64-year-old wears a gray dress shirt with dark-blue trousers. He has trimmed gray hair and silver glasses, but his amiable face still hints of the youthful, long-haired traveler featured in photos from the 1970s.

Mr. Wheeler doesn't need to stay in budget hostels anymore. When traveling to big cities, he checks into luxury hotels. And why not? He founded Lonely Planet travel guides with his wife, Maureen, nearly four decades ago. Since its launch in 1973, Lonely Planet has sold more than 100 million guidebooks to far-off lands, from Antarctica to Zambia and everywhere in between. And this past February the Wheelers sold their remaining 25% stake in the company to BBC Worldwide for £42.1 million (about $69.5 million) after selling 75% in 2007 to the same buyer for £88.1 million. The Wheelers don't have official roles in the company but will continue as de facto ambassadors for Lonely Planet.

Posted by jez at 7:45 AM

March 13, 2011

The "Foundation That Southern Nevada is Built On"

Posted by jez at 8:03 PM

February 20, 2011

Nevada Museum of Art Panorama


Posted by jez at 9:16 PM

February 18, 2011

Outdoor Art

Posted by jez at 9:49 PM

Packer Fans

Posted by jez at 9:39 PM

January 30, 2011


A "shocking" hotel scene.

Posted by jez at 3:36 PM

January 25, 2011

Three faces of India (and two faces of Tata)

The Economist:

I STARTED the day on Tuesday by visiting Tata's steelworks in Jamshedpur. I found it awe-inspiring. The scale is mind-blowing: 2.5 hectares of industrial muscle. Even more mind-blowing is the steelmaking process itself: the giant cauldrons of molten steel, the huge trains shifting raw materials about, the fashioning of the molten steel into iron sheets. Three things struck me in particular. First, the relatively small number of people involved. Though based in a relatively poor company, this is a high-tech, high-skill, highly mechanised process. Second, the intelligence and enthusiasm of the people I talked to. These people love to talk about steel! And they love to recite war stories from their visits to other steel mills! (I apologise if I lost the plot every now and again). And third, the smoothness of the organisation. Every process seemed to be perfectly choreographed, and everybody seemed to know their role. Tata Steel has reduced its workforce from 78,000 in the mid-1990s to 35,000 today, while quadrupling the amount of steel it produces. We need a similar revolution in the public sector.

Posted by jez at 8:34 PM

January 24, 2011

Winter Travel

Posted by jez at 9:16 PM

January 16, 2011

Christmas in the Terminal

Posted by jez at 3:01 PM

Burger Joint

Posted by jez at 2:02 AM

January 15, 2011

Panorama: Lingotto Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli @ Turin

Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli:

In a fascinating space designed by the architect Renzo Piano inside the historic industrial complex of the Lingotto in Turin, the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli permanently houses 25 masterpieces from Giovanni and Marella Agnelli private collection.

Opened on September 20th, 2002, the gallery marks the final step in the twenty-year-long restructuring process of the whole Lingotto site.

The structure that today hosts the picture gallery of the Giovanni and Marella Agnelli Foundation in the "Scrigno" (literally, jewel box or treasure chest, an extraordinary container that dominates the roof-top test track), is the result of a long historical and architectural process of development that begins at the turn of the twentieth century. After this huge conversion process, the 90 years old building maintains the architectural power and freshness of the car factory designed by Giacomo Mattè Trucco, and wends its way effortlessly to the Lingotto designed by Renzo Piano.

A stunning place, particularly the roof top race track on the old Fiat factory.

View the full screen panorama here.

Posted by jez at 8:10 PM

January 14, 2011

Shopping with the Dog - Turin

Posted by jez at 9:16 PM

January 13, 2011

The Hardy 2009-2010 Annual Report Photo

350K PDF. My dusk Hardy photo appears on the cover of their annual report. It was a beautiful evening. Much more on the Hardy Gallery, here.

Posted by jez at 10:32 AM

January 9, 2011

GPS Follies

GPS Follies

"Ha, Ha, Ha, GPS, GPS!" - a senior Florentine citizen standing outside my rented car's window, pointing at our TomTom GPS.

We followed the TomTom's instructions from Fiesole through Florence to our evening destination: Central Bologna. However, the TomTom directed us to a dead end: impassable train tracks were straight ahead and we had no nearby alternatives.

After providing the elderly man his GPS humor, I completed a U-Turn and drove east toward an intersection. The TomTom protested, but later "recalculated" the route and we were on our way to Bologna, via the Autostrada.

We had a few more odd navigation moments, one in Lyon and another in Parma. All in all, the TomTom performed well. TomTom sells a GPS receiver that contains both North American and European maps.

** A side note. I used the maps app on my iPhone to augment the TomTom (European iPhone data plans are quite expensive for visiting Americans). Xcom Global provides a useful alternative for on-the go connectivity: unlimited use mifi devices. I highly recommend Xcom.

Jean-Louis Gassee's recent GPS experiences inspired this note.

Posted by jez at 7:47 PM

January 8, 2011

Lyonnaise Salad

Lyonnaise salad recipe.

Posted by jez at 9:41 PM

Joy to the World: Christmas, 2010

Joy To the World from Jim Zellmer

Recorded Christmas Day, 2010 in Parma, Italy

Posted by jez at 5:56 PM

Christmas: Lyon - Turin - Parma - Florence - Bologna - Venice; a Few Recommendations

Lodging recommendations & comments:

  • Lyon, France: Artelit. A superb location with a fabulous proprietor. Frederic Jean's friendship and professionalism was a joy to experience, particularly when facing a very difficult parking situation! Highly recommended.
  • Turin: Best Western Hotel Piemontese. A surprisingly spacious facility, conveniently located near the rail station, bus stops and a number of Turin destinations. Great service and a surprisingly extensive breakfast.
  • Parma: A number of hotels were closed over Christmas. We stayed here: Vittorio Dalla Rosa Prati. Friendly service and a fabulous location adjacent to the Baptistry. Rooms include a refrigerator, sink and range so one can shop at the nearby markets and prepare meals.
  • Florence: Relais Uffizi. A charming, small find next to the Uffizi Gallery. Close to everything with very helpful staff.
  • Bologna: Albergo Centrale. Tremendous location in a fascinating city. Don't forget the gelato, which was poetic.
  • Venice: Hotel Antico Doge. Very helpful staff with superb restaurant recommendations. Well located, but smoke seemed to be present in the room, unfortunately.

I am very thankful to have "met" Madeline Jhawar, who suggested the stops in Turin, Parma and Bologna. I am grateful for her assistance and intelligence. I also took a look at Lonely Planet's suggestions, the New York Times travel section and Karen Brown.

We rented a car from Europcar, flew via Lufthansa (insufferable coach seats in my experience but very friendly staff) and used buses, trams, water buses, gondolas and most of all our feet.

Posted by jez at 4:59 PM

December 10, 2010

Tropical Flowers on a Wintry Night

Foster Botanical Gardens.

Posted by jez at 10:44 PM

Incredible journeys

Financial Times Summary

William Dalrymple

Herat, Afghanistan

Herat, in western Afghanistan, is one destination in that tragic country that is still safe, or relatively so. It is one of the most spectacular cities in the entire region and, for a brief period after the death of Timur in 1405, was the capital of the Timurid empire. Here Bihzad illuminated his miniatures; Babur wrote some of the most telling passages in his memoirs; and the Timurid princess Gohar Shad built one of the great colleges of the world. Today there are occasional reports of kidnappings and hold-ups between the airport and the town. But inside the city, there is no sense of tension or danger, and no one looks at you askance as you wander through the mosques, the ruins and the fabulous covered bazaars.

Instead, it feels welcoming, gently prosperous and, by Central Asian standards, surprisingly middle class. On the outskirts, on the hillside of Takht Safar, where the bright young things of Herat gather to watch the sun going down, to picnic, sip tea and listen to music under groves of cedars, mulberries and umbrella pines, you can grasp what Afghanistan would be like if peace were miraculously to break out: it feels not dissimilar, and no more threatening, than inland Turkey. In some ways, Herat feels as if it is high on the Anatolian plateau not far from Ankara; but here, you have the place, and the ruins, to yourself. There is not another traveller to be seen.

When Robert Byron was here in the 1930s he loved not just the grand ruins but also the eccentricity of Herat, and much of that still survives. When our plane touched down on the tarmac, the passengers were not taken into the old 1950s terminal, as the man who had the key had gone off for noon prayers. So, instead, our luggage was delivered by tractor, and dumped on the edge of the apron. It seemed an unsurprising fate for bags carried by an airline, Pamir Air, which at check-in had given me a boarding pass marked "Kabul-Riyadh" and when I pointed out that I was going to Herat, replied that it didn't matter: "They'll let you on the plane anyway."

Posted by jez at 10:32 PM

November 28, 2010

Southwest's Great Culture

We are fortunate to have Southwest serving Milwaukee. Madison service would be that much better, of course.

Posted by jez at 2:14 PM

November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by jez at 9:47 PM

November 23, 2010

Golf @ The Golden Gate

The Lincoln Park Golf Club.

Posted by jez at 10:26 PM

November 21, 2010

Stanley Kubrick Fotografo 1945-1950, Venice

Drew Gardner:

When I was in Venice a couple of weeks ago I caught the Stanley Kubrick Fotografo 1945-1950 show at the Istituto Veneto di Science.

Kubrick started his career, not with moving images but with stills

He started shooting when he was just 17 years old for 'Look' magazine

It is an interesting exhibition for many reasons, with some very beautiful images

Even in his very early work you can see the visual language of his great movies

You get to see the very 'seeds' of his work, they are movies in still form

With a few notable exceptions, you don't see photojournalism 'per se' at work.

What you do see is beautifully directed still images and in my opinion is all the more interesting for that.

Posted by jez at 10:03 AM

October 31, 2010

Theodore Roosevelt Island Photos

More here. Clusty search: Theodore Roosevelt Island.

Posted by jez at 7:56 PM

October 28, 2010

Beautiful Fall Colors

Posted by jez at 10:16 PM

October 17, 2010

Big City Sunset

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:11 PM

September 27, 2010

Bärbel Bohley, artist and toppler of the Berlin Wall, died on September 11th, aged 65

The Economist
COURAGE rarely failed Bärbel Bohley. Others quailed at the hands of the East German secret police, the Stasi. Frail but steely, she mocked them: an eye for the absurd, she said, helped to keep her mental distance from those “brutal, cold, murderous, contemptuous people”. “I will get out of here; you won’t,” she once snapped at an interrogator.

She was right. Born in the ruins of Berlin in 1945, her early life was shaped by the post-war division of her country into western (soon West) Germany, and a Soviet-occupied zone that claimed to be the “German Democratic Republic”. But in the end it was not the bullying communists who shaped the wiry little painter. It was she who shaped them—and their downfall.

Her life as an artist started in her 30s, after unhappy early stints in industry and teaching. Her métier was brightly coloured pictures with dark angry lines, part abstract, part-figurative. Her inspiration, she said, came from Käthe Kollwitz, the great radical pacifist painter and print-maker of the Weimar years, venerated in post-war East Germany. The regime liked that, and her work: she won prizes, including a trip to the Soviet Union. But the promised Utopia turned out to be shockingly grim and grey. In 1980 the idealistic socialist convictions of her youth, long undermined by the regime’s hypocrisy, finally crystallised into ardent opposition.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:12 AM

September 24, 2010

Street Art

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:45 PM

September 3, 2010

A September Country Drive

Posted by James Zellmer at 5:02 PM

August 24, 2010

A Bit of Humanity on the Tarmac

Air travel is no picnic, though it is possible to see humanity every now and then.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:13 PM

What Did We Do Pre-iPhone?

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:10 PM

Mahi Mahi Tacos

Fabulous, inexpensive and a great salad.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:02 PM

Lucky Boy Burgers: A Step Back in Time....

I enjoyed a decent veggie burger at Lucky Boy, a vintage stop in Pasadena, CA.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:59 PM

August 23, 2010

Cold War History

The Nuclear Museum.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:55 PM

Changing Times, From this.....

to this....

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:46 PM

Red Rocks

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:12 PM

God's Glory: A Retreating Storm Mountain Sunset

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:07 PM

August 15, 2010

The Hardy Gallery

The Hardy Gallery
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:43 PM

Door County Barn

Posted by James Zellmer at 4:40 PM

August 8, 2010

Community Yoga

Posted by James Zellmer at 5:10 PM

The End of the Guidebook

Tom Robbins:
I am in Tate Modern with no Baedeker. Nor Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, Time Out or any other type of guidebook. For Lucy Honeychurch, heroine of EM Forster’s Room with a View, this would be a desperate situation. Without a guidebook in Florence’s Santa Croce, she is bereft, close to tears, unsure what she should be looking at, unable to recall any of the building’s history and upset at having no one to tell her which of the sculptures and frescoes is most beautiful.

I, however, am supremely confident. I may not have a guidebook but I am equipped with “Google Goggles”, and thus have at my fingertips more information than exists in any guidebook ever written – perhaps more even than the combined wisdom of all guidebooks ever written.

Disappointingly, Google Goggles are not physical goggles, or glasses of any kind, but an app that will soon become available for iPhones and already works with Android smartphones. Put simply, whereas Google lets you search the internet using keywords, this allows you to search with an image. You use the phone’s camera to take a photo of something – a church, a monument, a painting or a sculpture – then wait a few seconds for the image-recognition software to scan it, before being offered a full range of information about it. The implications for travel are huge.
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:02 PM

August 7, 2010

The Style of an Elegant Bookstore

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:47 PM

July 15, 2010

Why Your Plane is Always Full

Jim Fallows:
I learned long ago the cruel but true principle: other people's travel problems are not interesting.* Corollaries: other people's traffic problems, and other people's weather ("you won't believe how hot/cold/dry/wet/windy it is here!"), also are not interesting. We feign sympathy, but as long as our own flight is on time, traffic on our highway moves along, the weather's nice where we are, we don't really care. (*Exception: unless the occasion for an otherwise-interesting travel narrative, from Paul Theroux to Atlantic site posts.)

Therefore I obviously am not "complaining" in mentioning that I got up before 5:30am today to get an 8:15am flight out of Dulles, only to find an email from the airline saying that the flight had been delayed to 10:45. The inbound flight -- from Dubai! -- is late, and there are no spare planes to go on to San Francisco. OK -- gladder to know now than before leaving the house for the airport, though ideally it would have great to know last night. Nothing to be done. But it was a serendipitous intro to the very next item in the email inbox: a report on how substantially airline capacity continues to be cut. There just are fewer flights anywhere, and more of them are full, than in yesteryear.
Airlines have been very successful at using information technology to slice and dice pricing and demand. Overall, fares are certainly up for most travellers....
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:20 AM

July 11, 2010

A Few Photos

I believe this is a rather rare Shelby Cobra.

A sign of the times: "We will be glad to serve you when you are off your cell phone".


A squirrel seeking dinner

Malt O-Meal

Cooling off...

Dinner at Sea Salt Minneapolis

Art Fair on the Square Madison

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:39 PM

July 3, 2010

A Beautiful Saturday

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:28 PM

June 28, 2010

Vintage Trek Bike

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:39 PM

June 26, 2010

Madison Saturday Zeitgeist....

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:54 PM

June 20, 2010

Strolling Through 19th Century London Today

Brian Barrett:
Augmented reality might be the future, but my favorite application of it yet transports you far into past. StreetMuseum—an iPhone app from the Museum of London—overlays four hundred years of historic images on today's city streets.

StreetMuseum makes creative use of Google Maps and geo-tagging to show users how London used to look. You can use it to check out pictures and info about nearby historic locations, which is has more of a straightforward walking tour feel. But the fun starts when you're actually standing in front of a location in the database. That's when the AR "3D view" kicks in, with views that may look something like this:
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:26 PM

June 19, 2010

Holland Tunnel

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:22 PM

May 25, 2010

"Stinky Cheese" New York City

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:44 PM

May 14, 2010

Iceland, Eyjafjallajokull Time Lapse HD Video

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:25 PM

May 12, 2010

Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields

Oscar Villalon:
It's hard to wrap your brain around the numbers, to make sense of what they portend. Mexico, home to the world's richest man, has had more than 10,000 people killed -- often horrifically -- since January 2007, just a month after President Felipe Calderon declared a literal war on drugs in his country.

Calderon has flooded the country with nearly 50,000 soldiers and federal police to combat the various regional cartels -- Juarez, Sinaloa, Gulf and Zetas -- mostly in the northern and northwest parts of Mexico. The United States, through the Merida Initiative, has committed $1.4 billion to fund the effort. The results have been less than stellar.

According to the Los Angeles Times (the only major U.S. newspaper that has been extensively covering this political and social calamity), not only has the military racked up more than 3,400 alleged violations with Mexico's human rights commission, but in Juarez, the bloodiest of this war's battlefields -- if you can call a city of about 1.2 million people a battlefield -- the army's presence coincided with an increase in slayings. Since 2008, more than 4,000 people have been killed there, though Juarez was being patrolled by about 10,000 troops and federal police. In 2007, there were about 2,300 drug-related killings -- in the entire country.
I visited Juarez 26 years ago.... during a trip into Mexico. The people were wonderful to a stranger.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:44 AM

May 10, 2010

Tai Chi New York

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:54 PM

Brooklyn Bridge - Cold Evening

Clusty Search: Brooklyn Bridge.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:48 PM

May 1, 2010

A Beautiful Spring Morning

Posted by James Zellmer at 2:20 PM

April 23, 2010

A Manhattan Evening Walk

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:33 AM

April 11, 2010

Prayers for Poland, Again

Poland's Embassy in Prague; June, 2009. The banner celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Wall coming down.

Many links on the tragic plane crash in Smolensk. Clusty Search: Katyn film and Solidarity Poland.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:47 PM

A Madison Walk

A Madison Walk from Jim Zellmer.

Posted by James Zellmer at 4:05 PM

March 26, 2010

Hiroshima, Nagasaki: You Are There. A talk by Seymour Abrahamson

Seymour Abrahamson spoke at a recent meeting of the Madison Literary Club.

17.9MB PDF Handout
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:06 PM

March 14, 2010

Las Vegas Sunrise Scenes

A beautiful sunrise. A recent evening panoramic scene of "The Strip" can be seen here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:56 PM

Panorama: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport website. Just in time for South by Southwest 2010.

Click to view the full screen panorama.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:14 PM

February 26, 2010

Honolulu's Kapiolani Farmers' Market

Click to view the photos.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:44 PM

February 14, 2010

Cham Ruins: My Son Panorama - Another View

This Cham Ruins panorama (click to view) was captured in My Son, Vietnam during the month of April, 2007 by Jim Zellmer

Another panoramic scene.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:42 PM

Hanoi Panorama: Temple of Literature, Another View

Click to view the panoramic image. Enjoy a full screen view by clicking the panorama icon in the lower right. Clusty Search: Temple of Literature.

Another Temple of Literature panorama can be seen here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:47 PM

February 11, 2010

Panorama - Cham Ruins: My Son, Vietnam

This Cham Ruins panorama (click to view) was captured in My Son, Vietnam during the month of April, 2007 by Jim Zellmer

Another panoramic scene.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:58 PM

February 8, 2010

Temple of Literature Panorama: Hanoi, Vietnam

Click to view the panoramic image. Enjoy a full screen view by clicking the panorama icon in the lower right. Clusty Search: Temple of Literature.

Another Temple of Literature panorama can bee seen here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:49 PM

January 24, 2010

Lunch With FW de Klerk

Alec Russell:
The last white president of South Africa is deep into his reminiscences on the dying days of apartheid when a fruit fly, no doubt overcome by the day’s intense 35°C heat, dives into my glass of crisp Cape Sauvignon. Unconsciously, I fish it out and make to have another sip. FW de Klerk is having none of it. He abandons the story of his once fraught relationship with Nelson Mandela, raises his hand and attracts the attention of the waitress.

For a moment, seen from afar, it could have been the quintessential apartheid tableau: black servant summoned by Afrikaner patriarch. But this is 21st-century Cape Town and, apart from on remote farms on the veld, that relationship is of the past. The waitress confidently looks de Klerk in the eye. There is none of the pre-emptive cringing that once marked such inter-racial encounters . It is, I reflect over a replacement glass of Sauvignon, a reminder of the revolutionary changes that my lunch guest set in motion almost exactly 20 years ago.

History is moving rather fast in South Africa. In June the country hosts football’s World Cup, as if in ultimate endorsement of its post-apartheid progress. Yet on February 2 1990, when the recently inaugurated state President de Klerk stood up to deliver the annual opening address to the white-dominated parliament, such a prospect was unthinkable. The townships were in ferment; many apartheid laws were still on the books; and expectations of the balding, supposedly cautious Afrikaner were low.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:25 AM

January 23, 2010

God's Glory: Wind, Fire, Surf - Kauai Sunrise Panorama @ Poipu

Kauai Sunrise Panorama @ Poipu 21.868449 -159.444172 by Jim Zellmer. December, 2009
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:38 PM

January 22, 2010

Waimea Canyon Kauai Panorama

Click to view this Waimea Canyon Kauai panorama 22.071472 -159.661410. Clusty Search: Waimea Canyon.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:22 PM

Kauai Sunrise Panorama @ Poipu

Kauai Sunrise Panorama @ Poipu 21.875483 -159.46195.
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:05 PM

January 19, 2010

Maui Sunset Panorama

Quite a beautiful afternoon: 20.646188 -156.442577. Click on the image to view the panorama, and try the full screen icon (lower right).
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:05 PM

January 11, 2010

Kilauea Lighthouse Panorama

Click to view the Kilauea Lighthouse panorama. Clusty search: Kilauea Lighthouse.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:32 PM

January 10, 2010


Kauai flowers at sunrise.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:01 PM

January 7, 2010

Deicing Planes in Sarasota, Florida - using the Sun

Ben Mutzabaugh:
Hundreds of travelers flying out of Florida's Sarasota-Bradenton International were delayed by about by two hours Wednesday morning because of de-icing delays. Sort of.

The Sarasota Herald Tribune writes "airport officials grounded three planes because they had ice on the wings." But, since below-freezing temperatures are so rare in central and south Florida, none of the airlines at Sarasota keep de-icing equipment at the airport.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:38 AM

January 6, 2010

Kauai Sunrise Panorama

Click to view this panoramic scene.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:55 PM

December 17, 2009

Global Supply Chain for Boeing's New 787: The DreamLifter in Action

With the recent first flight of Boeing's new 787, I thought it timely to post a photo from it's supply chain: a converted 747 freighter known as the "Dreamlifter" that flies parts from around the globe to Everett, Washington for final assembly.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:20 PM

December 14, 2009

Berlin's Class War

Feargus O'Sullivan:
Twenty years after it was toppled, the area around the Berlin Wall is becoming a battle­ground again. In the streets neighbouring Berlin’s Todesstreifen – the once heavily guarded “death strip” on the east side – a new conflict is brewing. This time, it is between wealthy newcomers to the German capital’s regenerated core, and less monied residents, who fear being displaced.

Silvia Kollitz, an anti-development activist, is a resident of Prenzlauer Berg, a once dilapidated but now chic district of east Berlin. She feels her local area, with its pretty, tree-lined streets and sleek cafés, is being turned into a refuge for the rich. “The new buildings being put up are just for people with lots of money – who don’t use state schools and look at the rest of us as ‘local colour’ from behind their locked gates and high walls,” she says.

While Kollitz and fellow activists are seeking to halt these changes, they are fighting a strong tide. For the first time since the second world war, Berlin is attracting the international wealthy. Shaking off its gloomy cold war past, the city’s rebuilt centre is now packed with designer emporia, five-star hotels – Berlin has more than New York – and restaurants, sandwiched between Prussian palaces and new ministry buildings.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:46 AM

December 5, 2009

Musée de l'Orangerie Panorama

Click to the image above to view this August, 2007 (hand held) panoramic image of Monet's water lillies. Musée de l'Orangerie website. This journey and image made possible by the generosity of my parents!
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:47 PM

November 29, 2009

St. Stephen's Cathedral Panorama - Budapest

Wikipedia entry on St. Stephen's, or Szent István Bazilika in Hungarian.

Our trip was made possible through the incredible generosity of my parents. We are truly blessed!
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:43 PM

November 11, 2009

Madison's Overture Center & MMOCA - A Panoramic View

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:55 AM

October 31, 2009

'Puzzlers' reassemble shredded Stasi files, bit by bit

Kate Connolly:

East German documents provide a crucial piece of history, supporters of the project say, but putting them back together could take hundreds of years. A computerized system would help, but it's costly.

Reporting from Berlin and Zirndorf, Germany, - Martina Metzler peers at the piles of paper strips spread across four desks in her office. Seeing two jagged edges that match, her eyes light up and she tapes them together.

"Another join, another small success," she says with a wry smile -- even though at least two-thirds of the sheet is still missing.

Metzler, 45, is a "puzzler," one of a team of eight government workers that has attempted for the last 14 years to manually restore documents hurriedly shredded by East Germany's secret police, or Stasi, in the dying days of one of the Soviet bloc's most repressive regimes.

Two decades after the heady days when crowds danced atop the Berlin Wall, Germany has reunited and many of its people have moved on. But historians say it is important to establish the truth of the Communist era, and the work of the puzzlers has unmasked prominent figures in the former East Germany as Stasi agents. In addition, about 100,000 people annually apply to see their own files.

Posted by jimz at 10:39 PM

October 24, 2009

God's Glorious Fall Colors

On display in Madison today. A wonderful, sunny day after several rainy, cold episodes.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:53 PM

Sleeping in the cockpit? It happens, aviation experts say

Hugo Martin:

White-knuckle airline passengers who are already shaken by news that two Northwest Airlines pilots are under investigation for overshooting a Minneapolis airport after possibly nodding off won't want to hear this: Some pilots say cockpit catnaps happen.

"Pilots on occasion do take controlled naps," said Barry Schiff, an aviation safety consultant and retired TWA pilot. "So this is not without precedent."

Although the Federal Aviation Administration prohibits pilots from catching a few z's in the cockpit, several airline pilots say they are surprised that napping mishaps haven't happened more often, considering longer work schedules for pilots and advances in aviation that make planes easier to fly.

The issue of cockpit siestas came under scrutiny this week after the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board announced they were looking into why Northwest Flight 188, from San Diego to Minneapolis, overshot its airport by 150 miles before turning around.

Flying from the west coast last year, I sat next to an international pilot flying home. This pilot pounded coffee (POUNDED!) during our four hour flight. He mentioned the long Asia routes and the typical 36 hour turnarounds. I asked how they stay alert on 12 to 16 hour flights? He responded that cockpit etiquette is set by the captain. If he/she starts to read a book, then the others can do so. We never discussed falling asleep, though, based on the coffee intake, it would seem to be a natural outcome of these trips.

Posted by jimz at 3:35 PM

October 4, 2009

Visiting Costa Brava

Sue Style:
Mention the words Costa Brava and for most people they will evoke visions of high-rise hotels, wall-to-wall traffic, pubs, fish and chips and Full English Breakfasts. Yet 100 years ago, the Catalan poet Ferran Agulló was so moved by the rugged pine-clad cliffs plunging to deserted sandy coves and turquoise waters that he dreamed up the name Costa Brava, meaning “the wild coast”.

Today it can be a stretch to imagine what it was about this famous area that so bewitched people. But a recent trip to this beautiful stretch of coastline, which runs from Portbou on the French border in the north down to Blanes (short of Barcelona) in the south, showed how much is worth rediscovering.

I’m having a bit of a battle with myself, though. On the one hand, in the interests of those who know and understand the Costa Brava, I should button my lip about its delicious coves, its singular small hotels, quirky restaurants and distinctive wines. On the other hand, it was such a revelation to me to discover that the Costa Brava is not all tat and tattoos that I can’t help blurting it out.
Beautiful, indeed. Years ago, I spent an evening on a Port Bou beach whilst the French trains were on strike.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:29 PM

September 24, 2009

The Grillwalker Takes Berlin: Portable Restaurant...

NY Times.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:05 AM

September 20, 2009

Resurrecting the Paris of the Orient

Heba Saleh:
Look past the grime and the disrepair and it is possible to see beautiful buildings in Cairo. But resurrecting the spirit of the city that used to be called the “Paris of the Orient,” is a daunting challenge.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:57 PM

September 6, 2009

Medical Tourism Takes Flight

Leslie Norton:
A growing number of U.S. insurers are paying for patients to have medical procedures performed more cheaply overseas. And that's raising the profile of a few companies you've probably never heard of. Video: Bangkok Bypass Surgery

IN THE PAST THREE MONTHS, THE CREAKY Barron's staff has replaced a hip, two knees and undergone various nips and tucks. Based on average prices, these cost a total of at least $100,000. But abroad, say in Singapore, the tab would have been about $50,000, including stays in a private room, airfare and a vacation for the patients and their companions. Elsewhere in Asia, medical care is even cheaper. That's why more U.S. insurers are considering financing treatment for Americans willing to travel abroad. In fact, "medical tourism" could help rein in the health-care costs that devour 16% of America's gross domestic product.

That possibility is raising the profile of a few publicly traded companies you've probably never heard of: Thailand's Bumrungrad Hospital (ticker: BH.Thailand) and Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (BGH.Thailand), Singapore's Parkway Holdings (PWAY.Singapore) and Raffles Medical (RFMD.Singapore), and India's Apollo Hospitals (APHS.India). Says Prathap Reddy, the U.S.-trained cardiologist who founded Apollo in 1983 and is its chairman: "We bring excellent care at a cost benefit. If the U.S. were to cover all its people, there would be a demand/supply gap. India can step in with equivalent care at one-fifth the cost."
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:27 PM

August 5, 2009

Old Town Prague Panorama

Click to view this scene, which was taken atop the Hotel U Prince.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:25 AM

July 28, 2009

Airbus A380 in Oshkosh!

Dave Demerjian:
Of all the planes to touch down in Oshkosh this week, one towers above all others. That’s the Airbus A380.

We’ve written about the 380 before, and it’s tough to call a plane that’s already in service at three different airlines experimental, but today Airbus gave us – and the rest of the crowd here – something much cooler than your typical commercial jet landing. Flying in from Toulouse (via Milwaukee) under the command of test pilot Terry Lutz, the 380 did multiple flybys over the airfield, showing off for the thousands of assembled plane watchers before touching down at 3:15 local time.

As the plane rolled to a stop, it’s four engines still roaring, we couldn’t help but be awed all over again by its sheer size: 239 feet long, 79 feet high, with a wingspan of almost 80 269 feet and weighing in at 610,000 pounds. Seeing the plane in the company of so many other things with wings (some of them not so small themselves) puts those numbers in perspective. And while it might seem silly to call an aircraft the size of the A380 graceful, there’s no other way to describe the way it gently turned and banked as it circled the airfield before making its final approach. We’ve made it clear from the start that we love this plane, and today in Oshkosh we found a reason to love it a little bit more.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:19 PM

July 25, 2009

2009 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days VR Panorama Scenes

View five vr scenes from "Tent City": Scene 1 / Scene 2 / Scene 3 / Scene 4 / Scene 5. After clicking, place your mouse in the image and pan in any direction.

View a still image library here.

More photos and vr scenes from the Craves Brothers farm, taken last fall.

Crave Brothers website and the Wisconsin Farm Technology Days website.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:01 PM

July 22, 2009

2009 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days - Photos

Website and directions. Many more photos here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:47 AM

July 4, 2009

Independence Day USA

I had the opportunity to recently visit Budapest's House of Terror Museum. The museum is housed in a former security services building and provides a powerful reminder of the forces of tyranny. This photo features victim images above a Soviet era tank.

An appropriate reminder of the price of freedom, today, the Fourth of July, 2009.

An a more pleasant note, Jeff Sullivan posted a gorgeous Yosemite image set here.

It is hard to go wrong at stunning Yosemite! God Bless America.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:23 AM

June 25, 2009

Stunning pictures of the volcano that blew a hole in the sky as astronauts witness eruption from International Space Station

Eddie Wrenn:
Framed by a circle of clouds, this is a stunning illustration of Nature's powerful force. A plume of smoke, ash and steam soars five miles into the sky from an erupting volcano. The extraordinary image was captured by the crew of the International Space Station 220 miles above a remote Russian island in the North Pacific.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:34 AM

June 23, 2009

Southwest Airlines Milwaukee Destinations Announced

Great news for Wisconsin flyers:
WN will enter MKE on 10/31/09.

MKE will have nonstop service to:

BWI: 3
MCI: 3
LAS: 2
MCO: 2
PHX: 1
TPA: 1
This will certainly affect the Madison airport's traffic.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:18 AM

June 21, 2009

The City of Your Dreams

Tyler Brule:
“Could you live here?” and “would you live here?” are two of the most common questions colleagues ask each other at the end of a business trip. Responses rarely take the form of a shrugged “I don’t know” or a half-hearted “I guess so”. Rather, they typically come in vehement declarations suggesting that considerable thought has gone into the topic already. Here are a few I’ve heard over the years:

On the train to Chicago’s O’Hare: “No way. It’s neither one thing nor the other and just look at this sad excuse of a train to the airport.”

In a cab to Vancouver International Airport: “Definitely not for me – seems a bit sleepy and limp.”

In a big Mercedes en route to Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok: “I could do it for a short stint but it wouldn’t be for the quality of life.”

Hitching a ride with an associate to Geneva’s Cointrin: “If I could get a great flat close to the lake and move my five closest friends, then it would be amazing.”

Being taxied to Fukuoka airport: “If I wanted the best of Japan but also great connections to the rest of Asia then it would be my first choice.”

Assessing quality of life is a difficult business and, as a result, surveys on the subject throw up different results.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability ranking, released this past Monday, put Vancouver, Canada, in the top spot out of 140 world cities, followed by Vienna.

Canada, Australia and Switzerland dominated the rest of the top 10, with Melbourne in third place, Toronto in fourth, Calgary and Perth tied for fifth/sixth, Geneva in eighth and Zürich and Sydney tied for ninth/10th. Helsinki was seventh, while London was 51st, behind Manchester at 46th. Asia’s best city was Osaka, Japan, at 13th, while the top US spot was Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at 29th.

Mercer’s quality of living survey, released in April and covering 215 cities, was led by Vienna, followed by Zürich, Geneva, Vancouver and Auckland. Singapore was the most liveable Asian locale in 26th place, Honolulu was best in the US at 29th and London was the highest UK scorer at 38th.

There are similarities between these lists and Monocle’s and the reason is simple. According to Jon Copestake, editor of the EIU report, cities that score best tend to be mid-sized, in developed countries, offering culture and recreation but without the crime or infrastructure problems seen in places with larger populations.

Most of us tend to play some version of the game every time we travel and, while some quickly conclude they wouldn’t trade their current set-up for anywhere else in the world, I’d argue there are considerably more who are tempted to give up their current address for a place that promises better housing, worklife, transport, schools, restaurants, weather, shopping and weekend pursuits.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:01 PM

May 20, 2009

Southwest Airlines Enters Milwaukee

Good news for travellers and business:
Today, Southwest gave the residents of Wisconsin something to talk about around the bubbler.

We’re adding Milwaukee and General Mitchell International Airport to our network!!! Starting late this year, the home of the Cunninghams, the Fonz, Laverne and Shirley, the Bucks, the Brewers, and the Packers will become the 68th airport on the Southwest Airlines route map. (Yeah, I realize the Packers are technically based in Green Bay, but they're the professional football team for the whole state of Wisconsin, so I'll include them here!)

We know many of you in the Milwaukee area are already familiar with Southwest (low fares and GREAT Customer Service!)—but for our Customers that aren’t familiar with Milwaukee, you’ve got a treat in store for you. Besides having a vibrant business base, Milwaukee is just a lot of fun. Amazing food (please, PLEASE visit Mader’s for German food!), the arts (the Milwaukee Art Museum has masterpiece buildings designed by both Saarinen and Calatrava!), the home of Harley-Davidson (don’t miss their museum!), sausage, cheese, beer, sports, the lake….and of course, the people. Good people. Just don’t plan anything other than watching football on a Sunday afternoon when the Packers are playing. You could be very lonely…. *grin*

Milwaukee is going to be a GREAT addition to our network. Wisconsin’s legendary work ethic, which mirrors Southwest’s exceptionally productive Culture, is going to make us a great fit in the land of the Cheesehead.
Likely not so hot for Madison's airport traffic....
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:33 PM

May 15, 2009


Thierry Lagault:
Only image ever taken of a transit of a space shuttle (Atlantis) and the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) in front of the Sun, during the last repair mission of Hubble, obtained from Florida at 100 km south of the Kennedy Space Center on May 13th 2009 12:17 local time, several minutes before grapple of Hubble by Atlantis.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:57 AM

May 10, 2009

Amon Carter Museum

Amon Carter Museum.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:33 PM

BBQ @ Railhead

Railhead BBQ.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:31 PM

May 7, 2009

The Americans in Pyongyang

Isaac Stone Fish:
The first thing our guide Mr. Li said to the people whom he knew had inflicted untold suffering onto his country was “Welcome. I hope you had a good flight.” Then he paused. "We call you the U.S. Imperialists, since you came in and divided our homeland. When some Korean calls you U.S. Bastards or U.S. Imperialists, I will just translate that. I hope that’s okay, I’m just doing my job.”

a Mr. Li was one of the guides on a tour of Pyongyang in October of 2008, the last month that American tourists were allowed access to the city. I visited as part of a group of 25 Americans, mostly young professionals and students; many said they wanted to see the country before it collapsed under the weight of its own obsolescence. We knew beforehand that our movements would be strictly controlled throughout the tour, and that we were not allowed to wander freely. Our guides showed us the parts of Pyongyang that we were supposed to see. Their filtering the trip was a very valuable way to process information in a place so radically different from anything resembling our definition of normality.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:09 PM

April 30, 2009

Scenes: "Read a Paper" - and Turn off the TV

A useful idea, from a bookstore south of the Mason Dixon line. I'd substitute "book, or perhaps ebook" for "paper".
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:35 AM

April 26, 2009

VR Scene: Jepson Center for the Arts Savannah

Click for a full screen VR scene. Jepson website.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:46 PM

On China's Flying Culture

PT Black via Jim Fallows:
My trip was significantly less copacetic - due to "fog" (read: noxious pollution) at Pudong no planes were landing. Our evening flight was cancelled, and the the next day's flight delayed three or four hours. We ended up circling in Shanghai, landing in Hangzhou first, deplaning, and only later flying back to Shanghai. Total trip time: 23 hours.

I observed in my flight mates a similar kind of resignation that you saw - but I don't think it is due to any sort of calmness. Instead I saw a powerlessness in front of authority. Again and again people on the plane turned to me and asked me to call my embassy - saying "they will pay attention to you. But they don't care about us Chinese". One passenger (shanghainese) demanded that they hurry us to Shanghai because we had so many foreigners on the plane, and it was a major loss of face for China. The awareness and sensitivity to the poor treatment of local travelers reached a fever pitch when the biscuits and water came to us as we cooled our heels in Hangzhou. One passenger erupted in fury "Where did that Japanese tour group go? Have you given them better food? Have you given them *noodles*? How dare you!"

(The gate attendant's response is a topic for a whole other post. She, a young and pretty woman with trendy heavy glasses and a bejeweled mobile phone, turned to the angry passenger and said "of course we haven't given the Japanese noodles! We will never forget the Nanjing Massacre!"....)
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:09 AM

April 24, 2009

East Germany, Up Close and Personal

Karlheinz Jardner:
When a West German photographer set off on a trip to the East German island of Rügen just after the Wall fell in the spring of 1990, he captured a world that would soon disappear forever. Twenty years after the epochal event, he looks back on his journey in a first-person account.

I remembered the painting from art class in school: The Chalk Cliffs on Rügen, by Caspar David Friedrich. It seemed legendary to me. On the one hand, I was fascinated by the colors, the pinks, the grays, the greens, and the shimmering blue of the water contrasting with the luminous white chalkstone. On the other hand, I was convinced that although I could always see the painting, I would never be able to contemplate the same scenery in reality. I wondered whether the landscape on the island of Rügen truly resembled the painting. It was a mystery to me.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:50 PM

April 19, 2009

Swamp Art

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:57 PM

Why Sourdough is the Best Bread

Mark Vanhoenacker:
San Francisco's food scene is probably the most vibrant in the Americas. Whether they're starting trends or perfecting them, Bay Area chefs have long been among the world's most creative. But amidst all the innovation, there has been one faithful and beloved constant on the city's many tables: sourdough bread.

It's hard to find someone who doesn't like sourdough, but even rarer are people who know what makes it so distinctive. It's often thought to be a flavouring, or perhaps a baking technique, something pioneered in Gold Rush-era San Francisco. In fact, sourdough is simply bread in which the rise comes not from a package of shop-bought yeast, but from wild yeast that is in the air everywhere.

As the original leavened bread – all bread was "sourdough" until Louis Pasteur's germ theory led to packaged yeast – sourdough has a long and storied past. But as a let-them-eat-cake epoch gives way to home pleasures and the local food movement, sourdough is equally suited to our own times. Classic, inexpensive and uniquely local, sourdough is as fascinating to kids and novices as it is to practiced bakers and mad scientists of all ages.

Sourdough is an ancient art, but with just two ingredients its simplicity is as remarkable as its heritage. Flour and water are mixed and left to stand on a windowsill or kitchen counter. In a matter of days wild yeast take over and the mixture begins to froth and bubble with life. If you've ever wondered at the origins of this or that cooking method – "who on Earth thought to try this?" – sourdough is that rare thing, a miraculous culinary phenomenon that won't give you that feeling. With yeast naturally in the air, it's easy to imagine how an afternoon's forgetfulness in ancient Egypt led to the invention of leavened bread.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:05 AM

April 5, 2009

36 Hours in Hanoi

Naomi Lindt:
NEAR Hoan Kiem Lake in the heart of Hanoi, a digital clock counts down the seconds to this atmospheric city's 1,000th birthday in 2010. There certainly will be a lot to celebrate: the city, Vietnam's capital, has experienced extraordinary growth over the last two decades, evolving from a grim, famine-ravaged place into a sophisticated metropolis with high-rises, sensational cuisine and world-class art. Those shaking their heads at the disappearance of local culture, though, should think twice. For every glitzy mall, there's an incense-filled temple nearby, and cultural influences of the past are still part of the modern-day fabric, from revered Confucian monuments to trendy French restaurants. In fact, it's this zeal for barreling toward the future while always looking back that defines this city.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:09 AM

April 3, 2009

April Fools Jokes - a few days later.....

Holiday Lettings:
This stunning accommodation offers deluxe living in the heart of England's capital city. A gated property with secure parking and armed guards, this is the perfect property to relax in complete luxury. Exquisitely furnished with many priceless antiques, royal collections and rare artefacts. 400 people work at the Palace to cater to your every need, including domestic servants, chefs, footmen, cleaners, plumbers, gardeners, chauffeurs, electricians, and two people who look after the 300 clocks.

The palace consists of 19 state rooms, 600 bedrooms and 78 bathrooms. There is an adequate sized banquet hall to entertain your guests in the evening and a throne room which is an unusual but popular additional feature.

The owners do reside in the property but are discreet and are available should you require any assistance. They also own other properties throughout the United Kingdom. Please contact them for further details.
More: The 10 Best April Fools' Jokes and Econoland.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:25 AM

March 15, 2009

A Gorgeous Bird Video Short

from the Phillipines.
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:02 PM

March 2, 2009

For Some Taxi Drivers, a Different Kind of Traffic

Marc Lacey:
The tour guide’s voice dropped to a whisper as he pointed out the left side of his open-air taxi and said conspiratorially: “See that house? It belongs to Chapo.”

At the spot, where Mr. Félix's brother Ramón was killed in 2002, in an infamous murder.

The State Department warns tourists about the drug wars. The guide recovered his normal tone around the corner, well out of earshot of anyone who might be inside what he claimed was one of the beachfront hideaways of Mexico’s most wanted drug trafficker, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, who is known universally by the nickname El Chapo, or Shorty.

Although Mazatlán markets itself as a seaside paradise in which the roughest things one might encounter are ocean swells, it is a beach resort with a dark side — one that many enterprising taxi drivers are exploiting with unauthorized “narco-tours.”

Mexicans are fed up with their country’s unprecedented level of bloodshed as rival drug cartels clash with the authorities and among themselves. But the outrage is tinged by a fascination with the colorful lives of the outlaws.
I visited Mazatlan many years ago, during college.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:26 PM

February 22, 2009

108 Road Trips from Southern California

LA Times:
There's nothing quite as all-American as a road trip, especially in the West, where a wealth of culture, natural beauty and excitement unfolds before you. Coyote Buttes awaits in Arizona. General Grant Tree beckons from the Sierra Nevada.

To help you tap the region's cache of getaways, we've compiled a list of 108 road trip spots. Distance to each destination is one-way from downtown Los Angeles. Cost of gas is for a round trip.*
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:31 PM

February 11, 2009

Returning Home From a Disney Birthday

I snapped this photo while sitting near a mother and son flying home from a Disneyland birthday trip.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:25 AM

February 3, 2009

On the Bund - New Shanghai

Dan Chung's latest, from Shanghai.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:12 PM

January 25, 2009

Some Very Pleasant VR Scenes

At the beginning of May 2008 I left the United Kingdom for an overlanding motorcycling adventure via Europe and Central Asia's Silk Route into Australia. Whilst looking for adventure and getting to know other cultures, I am also trying to do some good by raising money for Handicap International.If you enjoy reading this page, please consider making a donation. Simply click on the "donate" logo on the top right hand corner of any page. This will take you to the JustGiving website. 100% of your donation goes straight to charity! Thank you very much!
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:16 PM

January 20, 2009

600 Private Jets Expected for the Obama Nomination; 2X the 2004 Number

Robert Frank:
For the wealthy, Tuesday's inauguration is the dream party: a chance to rub elbows with the similarly rich and powerful, to become part of a historic moment, and (most importantly), to get access to the man of the moment.

It also is a chance to drown their financial sorrows in an emotional wave of optimism.

Yet it may come as a surprise that at a time of financial crisis and Green correctness, many of the wealthy are choosing to arrive by private jet.

According to an article in Bloomberg, as many as 600 private jets were expected to touch down in D.C. for the inauguration. The runway at Washington Dulles was closed Saturday to allow as many as 100 small planes to park. And the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said it expected a total of 500 small jets to land from Jan. 16 through Jan 21.

"That would set a record, topping the 300 the airport accommodated for President George W. Bush's 2004 inaugural," an Airports Authority says in the article.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:15 AM

A Crackdown on Vietnam's Press

The Economist:
LIKE their counterparts in China, Vietnam's ruling Communists seem even more than usually sensitive to criticism. This month two leading reformist newspaper editors, Nguyen Cong Khe, of Thanh Nien (Young People), and Le Hoang, of Tuoi Tre (Youth Daily), were both told that their contracts would not be renewed, apparently because they were too good at their jobs. Their papers have assiduously uncovered official corruption, most notably with a joint exposé in 2006 about a crooked transport-ministry road-building unit. The journalists behind that story were punished by a Hanoi court last October for "abusing democratic freedoms". Now it looks as if their editors, too, have been culled. A spate of other arrests last year suggests a wider clampdown. AFP Read all about it (or not)

Ever since the start of doi moi (renewal) reforms in 1986, economic liberalisation has been accompanied by a gradual political loosening. There are around 700 newspapers in circulation. All are government controlled, but some are relatively outspoken. Meanwhile, a young, tech-savvy population has taken to reading opinion on the internet, in blogs penned by pseudonymous authors. These commentators are questioning government policy with increasing zeal. A day after the two journalists were arrested last year, their newspapers openly attacked the government's actions, hitting a few raw nerves. The government now also wants to curb the pesky bloggers, announcing rules in December restricting politically sensitive content on the internet.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:41 AM

January 18, 2009

Winter Sunset Scene

Green County, WI. The cold weather has created some beautiful, clear evenings.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:18 AM

January 4, 2009

Flight at 100; The Next 100 Years

Flight Global:
Flight's first editor Stanley Spooner had little trouble deciding what story would be the lead in our inaugural issue 100 years ago - "A Second Englishman Flies" was our first headline. But back in those pioneering early days, what would Spooner have predicted for the top aerospace story a century later? Even the most enthusiastic aeronauts and aviators in 1909 would have struggled to believe the way in which powered flight would evolve during the magazine's first 100 years: that the aeroplane would be "going to war" within five years that passengers would be travelling in shirtsleeve comfort across the Atlantic at twice the speed of sound within 70 years or that within 80 years a winged spaceplane would be regularly blasting into orbit and returning to earth as a glider.

Predicting what lies in store over the next 100 years of aviation is just as challenging. The framework for the near term (the next 20 or 30 years) is already in place, with new airliner programmes such as the Airbus A350, A380 and Boeing 787 and military aircraft like the Lockheed Martin F-22, F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and Eurofighter Typhoon set to be with us well into the first half of the century. But surely some of the exciting new technology currently in the minds of the industry's boffins will lead to more imaginative creations appearing in the longer term?

There are some fundamental questions that must be answered when examining likely scenarios 50 to 100 years from now: how much oil will be left and how much will it cost? Will the green lobby - and any increasing evidence of serious climate change - have forced the way we travel by air to have to be reinvented? How will the threats to world security/peace influence military aircraft design? And how much of the space exploration dream will have become a reality?
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:35 PM

January 1, 2009

A Short Bird Video From the Phillipines

Romy Ocon:
Common name : Yellow-vented Bulbul
Scientific name: Pycnonotus goiavier
Habitat: Common in gardens, scrub and early second growth.
Total length: 178 mm.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:27 AM

December 26, 2008

Milwaukee's Eisner Museum of Advertising & Design


Current exhibits include: "Ads from the past: Coca Cola". This fascinating museum is a gem in Milwaukee's Third Ward, and at $5.00 a bargain as well.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:06 PM

December 19, 2008

Christmas Lights in the Big Apple

Photo taken from the back seat of a cab on a recent New York City evening.
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:38 PM

December 17, 2008

Christmas Scene

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:36 PM

December 12, 2008

Delight Your Customers

Perhaps it is a sign of the times. Air travel, but for private jets that the very rich and our politicians use, rarely involves "delighting customers". Happily, I can report an exception to this "rule". While on travel recently, I visited the tourist class lavatory, only to find this flower gracing the cammode. Props to the United Airlines employee who took the time to add a smile to my face on that journey. More, please!
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:17 PM

December 11, 2008

Warm Thoughts as Winter arrives in Madison: Hawaii's Big Island at Sunrise

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:47 PM

December 9, 2008

More from Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens website.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:56 AM

December 1, 2008

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens website.
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:53 PM

November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Sunrise

Queueing for Starbucks at the Milwaukee Airport.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:07 PM

November 25, 2008

Protesters Force Bangkok's Airport to Suspend Takeoffs

Anti-government demonstrators swarmed Bangkok's international airport late Tuesday -- halting departing flights -- as opponents and supporters of Thailand's government fought running battles in the streets of the city.

Minutes after outbound flights at Suvarnabhumi International Airport were suspended, hundreds of demonstrators -- some masked and armed with metal rods -- broke through police lines and spilled into the passenger terminal.

The road to Suvarnabhumi.

Thomas Fuller has more.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:53 AM

November 16, 2008

You'll fit right in being poor in Berlin

Brittani Sonnenberg:
If you show up in Berlin strapped for cash, you're in good company. The German capital's sizable student population, high unemployment rate and swelling starving artist contingent makes penny-pinching a citywide obsession.

This is, after all, the city that has not only been dubbed one of the hippest in Europe because of its raging nightlife, plethora of museums, independent art galleries and concert spaces, but it's also known for being wracked with debt. So much so that in 2003, Mayor Klaus Wowereit lent it the accidental slogan: "We're poor, but sexy."
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:32 PM

November 2, 2008

Flughafen Tempelhof Closes: VR Scene

Tempelhof Central Airport (52.482088 13.389716), home of the Cold War era Berlin Airlift closed recently. I had an opportunity to visit in August, 2007 and shot this VR scene.

Flight Global posted a useful link roundup.

A few more photos: Tempelhof entrance, nearby Berlin Airlift Memorial and a closer look (photo from the Memorial's 1951 unveiling).

Berlin Airports: Tempelhof - from the beginning till today. "An important chapter in the history of German aviation draws to a close":
Tempelhof is justifiably regarded as the cradle of aviation. The name Tempelhof is closely connected to the beginning of engine-powered aviation. On 4 September 1909, an engine-powered flight took off for a few minutes for the first time in Germany. With his plane, American Orville Wright ushered in the age of engine-powered aviation in Germany on the Tempelhof airfield. Aeronautical engineering continued to develop at a rapid pace: on 8 October 1923, Tempelhof was granted the status of "Berlin Airport". The central airport Tempelhof developed into the biggest hub in Europe. Tempelhof became the home of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, which was founded on 6 January 1926 in Berlin. 1936 saw the start of construction of a completely new airport of epic proportions. The construction of the largest airport building in the world catered for both Hitler's penchant for monumental constructions and the expected 6 million passengers. During World War II, civilian air traffic increasingly dwindled. After a brief occupation by the Soviet army, the Americans took over the airport in July 1945.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:14 AM

October 29, 2008

Flyover Country

Flyover Country; a sunrise view from Fitchburg.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:25 PM

October 2, 2008

Istanbul: via 100 Panoramas

Dudu Tresca:

These panoramas are the result of 8 days of "panographing" the city of Istanbul, as a guest of Atilla Aksoy from Works, the turkish advertising agency.
This material will be used to promote Istanbul as "European Capital of Culture in 2010".

Posted by jez at 3:06 PM

September 12, 2008

God's Handiwork @ Sunset: Cannon Beach, Oregon

45.880822 -123.962131

Clusty Search: Cannon Beach, OR

Posted by jez at 8:12 PM

August 18, 2008

Ancient Midwest

Keith Mulvihill:

THE earthworks left behind by the long vanished civilizations of the Midwest are harder to spot than the pueblos and kivas of Arizona and New Mexico. For a long time many of them were hidden in plain sight or dismissed as little more than heaps of soil. But the more today's archaeologists learn about the Midwestern mounds, the more intriguing is the picture that emerges from 1,000 or more years ago: a city with thousands of people just a few miles from present-day St. Louis, a 1,348-foot earthen serpent that points to the summer solstice, artifacts made of materials that could only have arrived over lengthy trade routes.
Looks like a fascinating drive.

Posted by jez at 10:23 AM

August 11, 2008

Siesta Key VR Sunrise Scene

Full Screen VR Scene.

Map 27.247581 -82.536145. Clusty Search: Siesta Key. A beautiful beach.

Posted by jez at 5:02 PM

August 6, 2008

Air Travel: 2008 - A Time When Standing Still Dominates

This is one of those moments when a camera in hand meets a scene waiting to be photographed: a beleaguered traveller resorting to solitaire on his PC while waiting for the promised next flight. The blue sky ignores the chaos below. Air travel is certainly, as a fellow passenger lamented, "not what it once was".

Posted by jez at 9:17 PM

August 5, 2008

Pittsburgh @ Night

Posted by jez at 9:45 PM

An Update on Eclipse Aviation

James Wallace:

'As a self-described "aviation nut," Vern Raburn – the former software executive and one of the early employees of Microsoft who remains a close friend of Bill Gates – was well aware of a famous saying in the aviation industry: The way to make a small fortune is to start with a big fortune.

The charismatic, high-tech whiz raised at least a billion dollars from investors, including Gates, who were willing to hitch a ride on his dream that Eclipse Aviation, the company Raburn founded in 1998, could produce light and inexpensive six-seat jets (a pilot and five passengers) that would become an air-taxi service for the masses.

But last week, while Raburn was at the famed Oshkosh air show, where his friend and actor John Travolta was promoting prompting Eclipse Aviation, Raburn was ousted by his board, leaving questions about not only the future of the company but about the legacy of a computer industry pioneer who believed he could draw on software development background to transform general aviation.

Posted by jez at 9:07 PM

August 3, 2008

George Eastman House

Website, Location. George Eastman via Britannica and Clusty.

Posted by jez at 7:21 PM

July 29, 2008

Florida Sunset: Alligator Alley

26.149775 -81.348610. Clusty search: Alligator Alley.

Posted by jez at 4:17 PM

July 24, 2008

Many Glacier Hotel

Glacier National Park, Montana. Clusty Search.

48.796716 -113.656107

Posted by jez at 8:08 AM

July 22, 2008

Waterton Lakes National Park: VR View from the Prince of Wales Hotel

A rather spectacular setting, representing the classic road not taken. Links:

Posted by jez at 8:57 PM

Yellowstone's Old Faithful at Sunrise

VR Scene here.

Posted by jez at 4:49 PM

July 21, 2008

Minimalist traveling a matter of mind-set and tactics

John Flinn:

Packing light is as much about philosophy as tactics. It's about adopting a minimalist ethos that a few, well-chosen possessions will serve you better than a steamer trunk full of impedimenta. Your stuff, after all, is supposed to help you see the world, not burden you.

In one sense, you have a choice to make: Is it more important to see or to be seen? If it's the former, a carry-on filled with just the essentials will allow you to cover a lot of ground unencumbered; if it's the latter, indulge yourself with multiple wardrobe options for every occasion and just go ahead and pay those extra luggage fees.

For those making the switch to packing light, a few random tips:

-- As you're packing, make two piles: one for items you absolutely, positively need, the other for stuff that would be nice to have. Put the first pile in your suitcase and the second back in your closet.

-- That said, allow yourself a tiny luxury or two. For me, it's a lightweight cotton kimono-style bathrobe, plus an iPod and speakers. Filled with my calendar and contacts, my iPod doubles as my PDA.

Posted by jez at 1:50 PM

July 19, 2008

Athabasca Glacier VR Scene: Jasper National Park Canadian Rockies

The journey to the glacier is an adventure, particularly the "Ice Explorer" ride.

Full screen vr scene.


53.203399 -117.239571

Posted by jez at 8:27 PM

July 18, 2008

Sunrise VR Scene with the BBC at Old Faithful

While capturing this sunrise scene at Old Faithful recently, I learned that the BBC is shooting a 3 part series on Yellowstone. Their videographers, equipped with some very nice equipment, spent the past two mornings waiting for the "perfect" sunrise behind Old Faithful. This scene, on their third day, was best, according to their National Park Service Ranger minder. The program will evidently air in the UK this fall and here sometime in 2009.

Location: 44.460174 -110.829563

The kind ranger also mentioned that she is often asked "where they put the animals at night?"

Full screen vr scene.

Posted by jez at 4:11 PM

July 11, 2008

Lake Agnes Photo

Clusty Search: Lake Agnes Banff National Park Canada. This photo was taken after a hike up from Lake Louise. A pleasant "Tea House" awaits the hiker adjacent to Lake Agnes.

Posted by jez at 10:33 PM

July 1, 2008

Southwest Flies Past High Oil Prices


BOB MOON: We're seeing the results of all this financial turbulence in the not-so-friendly skies lately. Both American and United have announced they're cutting flights domestically and internationally.

Across the industry, companies are trying to nickel and dime their way to profitability, hitting consumers with fuel surcharges or extra fees for baggage, but one carrier has managed to navigate a relatively smooth flight path.

Marketplace's Jeff Tyler looks at how Southwest has steered clear of trouble.

Perhaps one day, Madison will be fortunate to enjoy Southwest service.

Posted by jez at 4:33 AM

June 28, 2008

Lake Wingra / UW Arboretum Clearing Storm Photo

43.050537 -89.411019

Posted by jez at 6:33 PM

June 27, 2008

Midwest Airlines Employees - Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Benet Wilson:

I had to sigh when I read this article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on the draconian pay cuts Midwest Airlines is asking its employees to take in order to survive. Having worked at two airlines during turbulent times, I too faced the decision on what to do when management imposed pay cuts.

In the first case, I took a temporary cut at Mesa Air Group after the horror of 9/11, when airlines didn't know how long it would take to recover from the week-long shutdown of the air system and travelers deciding to fly again. The second time found me swallowing hard as I took a pay cut at Delta Air Lines after the carrier filed for Ch. 11.

But these cuts were nothing compared to what Midwest is asking of its employees -- pay cuts of up to 65% for union pilots and flight attendants to avoid filing for bankruptcy. And this is on top of grounding its MD80s -- almost half the fleet -- and laying off hundreds of workers.

I suspect the days of Midwest's extraordinary service are over.

Posted by jez at 12:07 PM

Cisco TelePresence Coming to a Living Room Near You

Jennifer Hagendorf:

co Systems (NSDQ:CSCO) is set to deliver its TelePresence high-definition videoconferencing technology to the home market within the next 12 months, said the company's top executive this week.
The technology will be available via the channel, including via retailers the likes of Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) and Wal-Mart and service providers such as AT&T (NYSE:T), said Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers at the Cisco Live conference in Orlando, Fla.

"It will probably evolve. At first we'll do it ... where we're very careful on how the channel sells TelePresence and very careful that the rooms are set up right and the cameras are set up right," Chambers said. "Having said that, I think that you will see a combination of distribution points."

Chambers expects pricing of Cisco's home-use TelePresence units to come in below $10,000 depending on what functionality the user wants.

Promising, particularly as the air travel experience continues to deteriorate.

Posted by jez at 8:38 AM

June 23, 2008

Chicago White Sox vs the Cubs: Capturing the "Spirit of the Weekend"

Walking around Chicago this weekend, I observed no shortage of White Sox and Cubs paraphernalia (the two teams played one another at Wrigley Field). This couple certainly expressed the spirit of the weekend.

Posted by jez at 8:59 AM

May 28, 2008

A Tear: Vietnam Approves a $4.5 Billion Dollar Coastal Casino Project. Atlantic City on the South China Sea?

Bruce Stanley:

Communist Vietnam is set to become the latest country in Asia to embrace Las Vegas-style casinos, with a Canadian property developer planning to break ground Saturday on the first phase of a $4.5 billion casino-resort project on the nation's southern coast.

The project, called Ho Tram, will be the biggest foreign investment to date in Vietnam, said Michael Aymong, chairman of Toronto-based Asian Coast Development Ltd., the project's lead investor, with a 30% stake. Its main partner in the project is New York hedge fund Harbinger Capital LLC, which has a 25% share.

The initial phase will cost $1.3 billion and consist of two five-star hotels with a combined 2,300 rooms and a casino with approximately 90 gambling tables, 500 slot machines and an area for VIP customers. When completed in 2015, the resort will comprise five hotels with 9,000 rooms and a second casino, Mr. Aymong said.

Ho Tram also will target vacationing families, with features including an 18-hole golf course designed by Greg Norman, a Cirque du Soleil theater, and a site for guests to swim with dolphins.

"It's a needed project in Vietnam" that, in spite of the country's poor infrastructure, will be able to "effectively compete" with integrated resorts in neighboring China, Malaysia and Singapore, Mr. Aymong said

Susan Spano offers another perspective after a recent visit.

The photo was taken on Highway 1 several hundred kilometers northeast of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

Posted by jez at 8:30 AM

May 21, 2008

God's Handiwork: Over Colorado's Front Range

Posted by jez at 8:50 PM

May 17, 2008

Laptop Security While on Travel

Bruce Schneier:

Last month a US court ruled that border agents can search your laptop, or any other electronic device, when you're entering the country. They can take your computer and download its entire contents, or keep it for several days. Customs and Border Patrol has not published any rules regarding this practice, and I and others have written a letter to Congress urging it to investigate and regulate this practice.

But the US is not alone. British customs agents search laptops for pornography. And there are reports on the internet of this sort of thing happening at other borders, too. You might not like it, but it's a fact. So how do you protect yourself?

Encrypting your entire hard drive, something you should certainly do for security in case your computer is lost or stolen, won't work here. The border agent is likely to start this whole process with a "please type in your password". Of course you can refuse, but the agent can search you further, detain you longer, refuse you entry into the country and otherwise ruin your day.

Posted by jez at 2:01 AM

May 12, 2008

The mother of all on-board ideas, or Why Southwest Airlines Should Fly to Madison

Terry Maxon:

Southwest Airlines, saving passengers' necks since 1971.

Colleague Karen Robinson-Jacobs, who flew to Chicago on Saturday, said the airline had an interesting on-board amenity: free Mother's Day cards for anybody on the airplane who needed one.

Flight attendants announced during the flights that anyone who needed a Mother's Day card should hit their flight attendant call button. On both her flights, Dallas-Little Rock and Little Rock-Chicago, Karen reported the airplane immediately sounded like slot machines hitting the jackpot as numerous forgetful passengers hit their call buttons.

The idea reportedly came from Southwest president Colleen Barrett, who had each originating flight Saturday provisioned with about three dozen cards. But that was not enough to fill the last-minute demand on the Little Rock-Chicago leg, as Dallas-based flight attendant June Zapata ran out mid-plane.

Posted by jez at 1:25 PM

May 5, 2008

Albuquerque's Enlightened Airport

Albuquerque's Sunport has long offered free WiFi for the masses. Passing through recently I noticed that they have greatly expanded the quantity of power outlets available. It is a kind of sport to watch folks vie for any (often rare) open outlets in most air terminals.

Posted by jez at 5:12 PM

April 28, 2008

Last Breakfast in Cambodia

Sichan Siv:

CAMBODIANS and other Theravada Buddhists celebrate their New Year in mid-April. They were not always able to do so. Under Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese rule, those ancient traditions were forbidden, impossible. But now Cambodia is free again and the festivities are in the open. As I wander the country of my youth, I see people spending the long holiday praying at temples and visiting relatives.

And I remember. My family used to hold a reunion on April 13 to mark both the New Year and my mother’s birthday. In 1975, we had no idea that it would be our last. We were all apprehensive about the future, and my mother was distraught because I had missed the American evacuation.

The day before, an officer of the United States Agency for International Development had told me that I had to be at the embassy within an hour if I wanted to be airlifted out of Cambodia. (I was a manager for the American relief agency CARE and had been selected for the evacuation.) Instead, I went to a meeting to find a way to help 3,000 families stranded in an isolated province.

Posted by jez at 7:47 PM

April 22, 2008


Bob Lefsetz's latest on Manzanar brought back memories of a drive down the Eastern Sierra via 395 many years ago. My email to Bob:

Great right turn, one I made in 1990, when I left San Francisco and drove east to a new job in my fun MR2. I took some time on Frost's "Road not Taken" - which indeed made all the difference.

395 has some great history, including Manzanar and The LA Department of Water & Power's Owens Valley H2O grab. I drove East to Tahoe, then South, stopping again for a Mono Lake Sunset. Continuing on past Mammoth, I made the Manzanar stop. No one was around (this was before the National Park Service took over). Somewhere, I have some photos - I'll have to look them up.

Driving further south, I recall the dust, where Owens Lake used to host an extensive habitat, before the water was sent to the lawns of LA.

Some vr scenes:

Virtual Guidebooks

VRMag virtual tour links

Clusty on Manzanar.

Posted by jez at 9:46 AM

April 16, 2008

VR Scene: Toronto's Bata Shoe Museum

Click to view the full screen vr scene. Place your mouse inside the photo, click and pan left, right, up or down..

Bata Shoe Museum website:

Sonja Bata was born in Switzerland, where she studied architecture. In 1946 she married Thomas J. Bata, the son of a well-known Czechoslovakian shoe manufacturer who had emigrated to Canada at the beginning of World War II. His family enterprise in Czechoslovakia had been nationalized under the Communist occupation. From the beginning, Sonja Bata shared her husbandfs determination to rebuild the organization and took an active interest in what was to become a global footwear business.

Over the years, she grew increasingly fascinated by shoes, their history and the reasons why specific shapes and decorative treatments had developed in different cultures. During her travels, she realized that some traditional forms were being replaced with western shoes, reflecting changing lifestyles to some extent influenced by the production of the spreading Bata factories serving local markets.

Since the 1940s, Sonja Bata has scoured the world for footwear of every description, from the most ordinary to the most extraordinary. Her combined interest in design and shoes has led to a very personal collection, with examples from many cultures and historic periods.

This hand held vr scene was taken a few months ago while "stuck" in Toronto during a snowstorm.

Posted by jez at 3:46 PM

April 13, 2008

Clues to the Disappearance of Antoine de Saint-Exupery

John Taglibue:

After the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, the demise of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on a reconnaissance mission in World War II has long ranked as one of aviation’s great mysteries. Now, thanks to the tenacity and luck of a two amateur archaeologists, the final pieces of the puzzle seem to have been filled in.

The story that emerged about the disappearance of Saint-Exupéry, the French aviator, author and émigré from Vichy France, proved to contain several narratives, a complexity that would likely have pleased the author of several adventure books on flying and the charming tale “The Little Prince,” about a little interstellar traveler, which was also a profound statement of faith.

On July 31, 1944, Saint-Exupéry took off from the island of Corsica in a Lockheed Lightning P-38 reconnaissance plane, one of numerous French pilots who assisted the Allied war effort. Saint-Exupéry never returned, and over the years numerous theories arose: that he had been shot down, lost control of his plane, even that he committed suicide.

The first clue surfaced in September 1998, when fishermen off this Mediterranean port city dragged up a silver bracelet with their nets. It bore the names of Saint-Exupéry and his New York publisher. Further searches by divers turned up the badly damaged remains of his plane, though the body of the pilot was never found.

I've read (Le Petit Prince) "The Little Prince" to our children any number of times. Clusty Search: Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Posted by jez at 3:11 AM

April 12, 2008

Taxis in the Sky

Jim Fallows:

True, a cover story I wrote for this magazine seven years ago, contending that the era of tiny, convenient, and relatively affordable jet airplanes was at hand, won an Article of the Year award from an aviation lobbying group. But it would be fair to describe the broader reaction as: Oh, sure! (“Freedom of the Skies,” June 2001, was excerpted from my book Free Flight.) New and more fuel-efficient jet engines; new, quieter, and more comfortable small airplanes; new and more-automated ways of routing aircraft around bad weather and away from congested areas—these and other innovations, I wrote, might make a new kind of air travel more practical for more people. This wouldn’t mean personal aviation in the Jetsons sense—a plane in every garage, people zooming around at will. But it might provide business travelers with something that until then only the truly rich had enjoyed: a fast and personalized alternative to the ever less delightful experience of travel on commercial airlines.

Most readers thought that personal airplanes, like personal yachts, would always be the playthings of the very rich. The familiar (and aptly named) Airbus or Boeing aircraft would have to do, as would impenetrable modern fare structures and the grind of big-airport congestion. It obviously didn’t help that three months later, the use of passenger airplanes as terrorist tools put aviation in general under new limits and scrutiny. Allow new routes and possibilities for air travel? Ha! Everything air-related was destined to be more controlled.

Posted by jez at 8:41 PM

March 23, 2008

Swapping homes helps people see faraway places

Heather Bonner:

When Kate Pavao and Aaron Lazenby moved into their three-bedroom condo in Bernal Heights two years ago, they knew they were making sacrifices. One of them was that there would be no long Hawaiian vacations anytime in the near future.

But then the couple found themselves vacationing in Oahu for three weeks with their 4-year-old daughter, Coco.

They didn't hit the lottery. No rich relative died and left them money. Instead, Pavao and Lazenby discovered what hundreds of Bay Area residents already know. To take your dream vacation, you don't have to pay an arm and a leg. You just have to be willing to share your home.

Thanks to the Internet, home exchange programs have proliferated over the past decade, offering Bay Area residents a way to leverage their biggest investment into dream vacations. And, because they live in one of the post popular places on Earth, they can easily swap their homes for the best locales. Potrero Hill for Paris anyone?

"It really speaks to the pragmatist in me," said Pavao, 33. "You don't have to leave your house empty, you don't have to pay for a cat-sitter. We're paying a lot of money for this place every month. It's silly for it not to be used."

Posted by jez at 6:05 PM

On the Cheap Dollar and Travel to Europe

Rick Steves:

Just when I was getting used to the idea that a euro should cost $1.20, our dollar plummets 20 percent, and now a euro costs $1.55. Don't expect our currency to recover any time soon because, frankly, we're not as rich as we think we are.

But 12 million Americans - the vast majority of them normal working people - had a blast in Europe in 2007. So don't mope. Just get smart and stretch that wimpy little dollar. To help you keep your travel dreams affordable in 2008, here are ways you can take back that 20 percent drop in your dollar's value - and have a more rewarding trip.

1. A bed and breakfast offers double the warmth and cultural intimacy for half the price of a hotel. You'll find them in most countries if you know the local word: Husrom is Norwegian for sobe, which is Slovenian for Zimmer, which is German for bed and breakfast (literally, "room"). In Haarlem, in the Netherlands, I save 33 percent by staying a 10-minute walk from the center and paying 55 euros for a double room with a shower, rather than on the square in the cheapest hotel in town, which runs 85 euros for a double with shower.

Posted by jez at 11:00 AM

March 21, 2008

Milwaukee Art Museum VR Scene

Click for a full screen VR view.

There are some flaws in this hand held scene, but it's a pleasant view of a spectacular space, particularly the day before our latest snowstorm.

Posted by jez at 9:43 PM

March 10, 2008

Evaluating the Proposed Delta/Northwest Merger

Victor Cook:

Doug Parker had a vision. His successful America West had completed a merger agreement with bankrupt US Airways Group on May 19, 2005. With this deal he planned to become the dominant low cost carrier in the country as the new US Airways (NYSE: LCC). And he would be its CEO. The next day CNN reported that "Parker thinks he can buck history and make a success out of merging his more successful airline with one in bankruptcy." The company's press release said:
Building upon two complementary networks with similar fleets, closely- aligned labor contracts and two outstanding teams of people, this merger creates the first nationwide full service low-cost airline.
On September 29, 2005 trading began for Mr. Parker's new carrier. On that day its stock closed a little above $20. Then in a remarkable run-up to November 24, 2006 it was trading at around $63. Doug Parker seemed close to realizing his vision. Close, but no cigar. The run-up was followed by a steady erosion in shareholder value that on Friday March 7, 2008 saw his stock close at just under $11. That represented an 82% loss in value from its peak and a 46% loss from its initial price. What went wrong?
Northwest is Madison's largest carrier. This proposed merger, combined with high oil prices that will dramatically reduce the number of small jets servicing airports like ours may require rethinking local air service.

Posted by jez at 11:20 AM

March 1, 2008

Deserts in Bloom: Late-winter rains in California and the Southwest have nature-lovers and sightseers holding their breath. This could be the best spring in years for seeing wildflowers.

Stan Sesser:

The vistas here in this land of desert and rock feature deep canyons and striated rock formations. But the most impressive sight is yet to come. At some point next month, the gray floor of the desert will be set ablaze by carpets of wildflowers, in riotous shades of purple, yellow and red.

Aficionados maintain that witnessing desert wildflowers is one of the most rewarding experiences in nature. Fall's dramatic leaf color change is guaranteed to happen every year. Desert wildflowers are far less predictable. If good spring rains are lacking, which was largely the case in 2006 and 2007, the flowers don't appear. When nature does cooperate, for two weeks or a month the desert looks as if it has been streaked by a giant paintbrush.

This year is shaping up as one of those lucky years, due to a series of storms that swept California and the Southwest in January, followed by more rain in February. "I'm hoping it's going to be terrific," says Patrick Leary, a professor of plant biology at the College of Southern Nevada, who teaches a course in desert plants. "You suffer and wait and pray for a good year and when that year comes, you have to be out there every available moment. And then it's gone."

Posted by jez at 8:46 PM

February 9, 2008

Wisconsin's Chocolate Delta

Kit Kiefer:

OAKS Candy Corner in Oshkosh is a chocolate mirage.

Its gingerbread exterior yields to an interior that in winter is as sugary warm as the inside of a circus peanut and in summer is as refreshing as a wax Coke bottle. It smells like caramel corn and cocoa butter rubbed into the floorboards with a pair of Red Wing boots. It’s the shop just around the corner in an unremittingly blue-collar part of an unremittingly blue-collar town. It shouldn’t still be there, but there it is.

If Oaks Candy is a mirage, then the Hughes Homaid Chocolate Shop, less than half a mile away, is a figment of Wisconsin’s imagination. An 80-year-old bungalow two blocks from Lake Winnebago, it has only a small neon sign to state its trade and a full-blown candy-making operation in its basement.

But Oshkosh isn’t the only caretaker of these unlikely sweet dreams. There’s Beerntsen’s in Manitowoc, with its plate lunches and ice cream sodas; Wilmar Chocolates in Appleton, with its old-time awnings and row of state-fair prizes on the south wall; Kaap’s in Green Bay, with its jar of jawbreakers on the counter; Seroogy’s in De Pere, with its magical whipped-chocolate-filled “meltaways”; and more, much more.

Posted by jez at 12:53 PM

February 5, 2008

Thinking of Summer: Antibes

antibesbeachzmetro082008.jpg This image of a woman jumping from a rocky cliff into the Mediterranean was taken from a "people's beach" adjacent to the Hotel du Cap [Clusty search]. A useful image as we Madisonians face another snow shoveling event. Clusty search: Antibes.

satellite view

Posted by jez at 9:17 AM

February 1, 2008

Thinking of Summer: Aix-en-Provence

aixzmetro082007.jpgThoughts of summer as Winter continues in Madison. Note the fashionable sushi delivery vehicle, a Smart Car and the smartly dressed pedestrian. Summer in Provence. Much more on Aix-en-Provence here [map]

Posted by jez at 10:01 AM

January 27, 2008

Steve Tabor has organized the desert into bite-size hikes for those unused to dry landscapes

Sam Whiting:

The Desert Trail runs 656 miles through California. Steve Tabor of Alameda has alphabetized it into 26 weekend hikes, A to Z, starting at the Mexican border in winter. When he isn't walking the barren landscape, Tabor, 58, is a pumper and operator at a vegetable oil refinery in Richmond.

"I got involved with a group called Desert Survivors, which is a desert protection organization. I became their president and started leading hikes for them. I got involved in the Desert Trail program, which was supposedly going to go from Mexico to Canada. They had no one to do the route work in California and Nevada.

For many years people were trying to figure out how to do this and there were many different concepts. One guy just wanted to carry no food and no water and try to do it. That doesn't work for most people. We wanted to make it like a backpack trip that the majority of hikers would be able to do. I said, 'Why don't we just do it the way we've done it in Desert Survivors? Instead of having these 100-mile-long segments, have quick bites that people could do in two, three or four days. They should be able to carry enough water.'

Posted by jez at 6:04 PM

January 23, 2008


Robb Coppinger:

Virgin Galactic has unveiled a SpaceShipTwo (SS2) design, created by Scaled Composites, that harks back to the NASA/USAF Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar glider of the 1960s, while Scaled's carrier aircraft, White Knight II (WK2) has been given a twin-fuselage configuration.

To be launched on a Lockheed Martin Titan III rocket, Dyna-Soar was for hypersonic flight research but the programme was cancelled before the first vehicle was completed. Some of its subsystems were used in later X-15 flight research and Dyna-Soar became a testbed for advanced technologies that contributed to projects, including the Space Shuttle.

Posted by jez at 12:08 PM

January 22, 2008

For Champions of Haggling, No Price Tag Is Sacred

Alina Tugend:

MY husband and I hate haggling. In markets in Istanbul or Jerusalem or Florence, where arguing over price is a high art — and after we have given it our best shot — we always feel we have walked away paying twice as much as the seller expected.

And that they are secretly, or not so secretly, laughing at us.

In this country where you are expected to negotiate over cars and houses, we manage quite well, but do not find it fun or exciting. We just want it to be over.

But I have friends who always seem able to strike a great deal in unexpected areas. My friend Lou negotiates a lower price on the oil delivered to his house. On his credit card rates. On hotel rooms. At the gym.

“People are afraid to ask, afraid they’ll be embarrassed or afraid they won’t get the right answer,” he said. “Seventy-five percent of the time, I get the right answer.”

Lou and other successful hagglers are not worried about appearing cheap, as I am, or being turned down, because they start with a different attitude.

Posted by jez at 1:00 AM

January 17, 2008

Free LAX Shuttle to In-N-Out Burgers

Neil Woodburn:

Stuck at LAX for a few hours on a layover and hankering for one of the best burgers in all of California? Well, you're in luck.

There's an In-N-Out Burger just around the corner from the airport, and Gadling knows a little trick to get you there for free.

An In-N-Out is located on nearby Sepulveda Boulevard right next to the Parking Spot--a parking structure that conveniently provides free shuttle service. All you have to do is wait under the red "Hotel and Courtesy Shuttle" sign outside of any airport terminal, and when the yellow and black polka-dotted Parking Spot shuttle swings by, jump on board. It will take you literally next door to In-N-Out. Follow your nose through the back door, across the parking lot, and right inside where you need to order a double-double and fries to enjoy the best layover of your life.

There are a few things to be very careful about, however.

In-n-out is, in some ways, the Culvers of California.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:51 AM

January 14, 2008

A Visit to Iran

Michelle May:

I went because: Iran has been on my list for some time, but it never seemed the "right time." I decided to finally just go and see what was happening there for myself.

Don't miss: Iman Square, Isfahan. Secret Parties, Tehran. The wonderful people, all over the country. Fabulous fabrics from many counties on the silk road.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:23 AM

January 9, 2008

Parc de la Chute-Montmorency


An impressive waterfall, particularly in Winter with ice climbers scaling the heights. Clusty search.

Bonjour Quebec:

The Montmorency Falls, cascading 83 metres down to the river below (30 metres more than Niagara Falls), are situated on a historical site of natural beauty in the Montmorency Falls Park. A cable car runs up to the Manoir Montmorency, where a restaurant, reception rooms and boutiques await the visitor.
Satellite View.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:58 PM

January 7, 2008

Be wary about Midwest's takeover by Northwest

Jay Sorenson:

I believe within four years, Midwest Airlines will cease to exist as an independent entity. Northwest Airlines did the math and found it was cheaper to buy a small competitor than to risk the entry of AirTran Airways as a low-cost carrier smack in the middle of its so-called Heartland market area.

In this case, Northwest is strategically incapable of being a passive investor with TPG Capital. The experience at Duluth, Minn., may highlight why passivity is already a myth.

Midwest announced new flights to Duluth early in its takeover battle. The service was designed to connect Duluth with the Midwest network. Northwest had a lock on daily service prior to Midwest's three daily round trips. One other airline served Duluth, and it only operated flights on Wednesdays and Saturdays to Las Vegas.

Midwest began the Duluth service on March 4, 2007. The takeover involving Northwest was revealed on Aug. 12. On Oct. 19, Midwest announced it would drop Duluth. The city's business newspaper didn't mince words: "Northwest ownership likely affected Midwest decision to exit Duluth."

The following describes snippets of dialogue that could occur in Northwest's boardroom during the next four years:

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

January 6, 2008

New Years Eve 2008 Panoramic Scenes


Hans Nyberg has compiled a great set of New Year's Eve 2008 Panoramas, including one I shot in Quebec City. Thanks much to Hans for a great site and for rendering my scene.

Quebec City celebrated the beginning of their 400th anniversary celebrations that evening. Learn more, here. 2008 is the 400th anniversary of Champlain's landing in Quebec.

Posted by James Zellmer at 5:03 PM

December 22, 2007

An Interview with Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly

Terry Maxon & Suzanne Marta:

Southwest Airlines Co. chief executive Gary Kelly doesn't have any offers out to buy another airline, but he expects Southwest to jump in when the consolidation fun begins.

"At some point, I think we'll probably acquire somebody," Mr. Kelly said in a recent discussion with Dallas Morning News business editors and reporters. "There's bound to be a scenario that we would say, 'That scenario out of these 10, yep, that one would work for us.' We'd want to be prepared for that opportunity that presents itself."

Southwest's investment in bankrupt ATA Airlines Inc. in 2004 offers a good example of being ready, he said. Of course, the airline is well aware of the pitfalls of acquiring another carrier, a strategy it followed in 1993 when it acquired Morris Air and in 1986 when it bought Muse Air.

Perhaps, one day, Madison will be fortunate to have Southwest air service.

Posted by James Zellmer at 2:53 PM

December 3, 2007

An Extraordinary VR Journey - The Latest VRMAG


Editorial Director Marco Trezzini, via email:

Since I believe we have created the best issue of VRMAG ever, I'm writing you with the hope you will accept to dedicate 5 minutes of your time to explore our online magazine dedicated to photographic virtual reality exploration of people, places and events around the world. Almost forgot to mention, VRMAG is a no profit publication, with no ads.

This issue features the closed zone of Chernobyl, Wired NextFest in Los Angeles, Cuba's capital city La Habana, Red square in Moscow, the Palaces where European Royalties lives, New York's Tribute in light, the island of Cyprus's Aphrodite beach, Valentino's exhibit Ara Pacis museum in Rome, the Mayan ruins Chinkultic and Tenam Puente in Mexico, Vienna, the Copenhagen Opera House, Seattle, RedBull AirRace Abu Dhabi ....

For VRMAG showing panoramas of the physical world is not enough,
so we'll take you to Second Life in order to visit Anshe Chung's Picture Gallery Dresden, and to DanCoyote's Full Immersion Hyperformalism and get behind the scenes on the creation of next generation interactive screenshots for the gaming industry, take a visit to an "wellenkreis" an art installation of an endless sine curve in real space ...

You will experience the view a sleeping pill has from it's medicine bottle,
watch the world as a coca cola would do, transport you into a washing machine and feel like your sock. Be a fish and be intrigued by a guy ironing underwater,
enter the head of Hermann's sculpture, chat with Jonathan livingston, experience a bubble party, feel the thrill of extreme canyoning, and much more ...

Visit www.vrmag.org now.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:29 AM

November 28, 2007

"The" way vs "a" way (Japan v China dept)

James Fallows offers up an interesting contrast between Japan and China.

Posted by James Zellmer at 11:02 AM

November 24, 2007

Icy Rescue as Seas Claim a Cruise Ship

Graham Bowley & Andrew Revkin:

They were modern adventure travelers, following the doomed route of Sir Ernest Shackleton to the frozen ends of the earth. They paid $7,000 to $16,000 to cruise on a ship that had proudly plowed the Antarctic for 40 years.

But sometime early yesterday, the Explorer, fondly known in the maritime world as “the little red ship,” quietly struck ice.

There were the alarms, then the captain’s voice on the public address system calling the 100 passengers and the crew of about 50 to the lecture hall, according to passengers’ accounts on the radio and others relayed from rescuers and the tour operator.

In the lecture hall, they were told that water was creeping in through a fist-size hole punched into the ship’s starboard. As it flooded the grinding engine room, the power failed. The ship ceased responding.

“We all got a little nervous when the ship began to list sharply, and the lifeboats still hadn’t been lowered,” John Cartwright, a Canadian, told CBC radio.

Posted by James Zellmer at 5:00 AM

November 19, 2007

15 places to visit to see the real California

LA Times:

1. A Salinas storyteller's tale

Salinas, Monterey County

It is always a challenge to commemorate a life, never mind a writer's life. Unlike museums devoted to sports legends or war heroes, a museum that honors a man of arts and letters must reflect his quiet, solitary pursuit. Which is to say that such a repository may be unbearably dull. How delightful, then, is the National Steinbeck Center at the end of Salinas' Main Street, a place whose undercurrents deliver shock after tiny shock -- here an arc of unknown history, there a jolt of social commentary. The museum is just a couple of blocks from where townspeople burned Steinbeck's books, enraged at his perceived betrayal of them and agriculture, the economic star then and now ($3.5 billion worth of crops in 2006) of Monterey County's show. Never mind that he was a hometown boy -- you can see his Victorian birthplace just up the street from the museum and have lunch there -- he was Judas to the growers and landowners portrayed unsympathetically in "Grapes of Wrath" and "East of Eden." The modern-looking center may seem incongruous with the unpretentious persona of the author, whose work won Pulitzer and Nobel prizes. But like his books, it shines a light on the issues, using film clips and displays that are muted set pieces, occasionally somber but never dull. To see this place and the fields that surround Salinas is to understand that Steinbeck's so-called Valley of the World is really the Heart of California.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

November 14, 2007

Flying the Ultra No-Frills Airline

Scott McCartney:

Passengers departing on Skybus Airlines from Columbus, Ohio, walk out of a brand new terminal and traipse across the tarmac to board their planes. In some cities, travelers fetch their own luggage off luggage carts. The airline has no telephone number that customers can call.

With fares starting at $10 one-way, do you expect more?

Skybus Airlines Inc., now six months old, brings a new level of bare-bones service -- and very affordable prices -- to the U.S. skies. The carrier also raises the question of just how cheap U.S. travelers will go to travel. So far, many seem to be willing to go very cheap. At a time when bus companies and Amtrak struggle to attract customers, and many travelers still gripe about the loss of in-flight meals and the addition of so many airline fees, Skybus filled more than 80% of its seats all summer.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:43 AM

November 3, 2007

Angkor: When It Rains, You Score

Stephen Brookes:

Rain was lashing against the side of the plane as we broke through the clouds. Below us, Cambodia stretched out like a perfect disaster: fields flooded to the horizon, palm trees whipped by the wind, a sky so dark and heavy it seemed about to collapse. As we dropped closer, we caught a glimpse of two people pushing a truck through knee-deep water, struggling to keep from being washed away.

"It's fantastic!" I said to my wife, whose hand was clamped on mine in a vise-like grip. "It looks like we timed this perfectly!"

We'd come to Cambodia to see the famous temples of Angkor, those magnificent ruins that make up one of the most extraordinary landscapes in Asia, if not the world. And we'd come in July -- in the heart of the monsoon, which sensible people had told us was pure madness. Wait until the dry season, they said, when the skies are clear and you're guaranteed as much sunshine as you can handle. Go during the long, wet summer -- when more than 50 inches of rain falls -- and you're certain to get stranded in your hotel, swatting at mosquitoes and hoping you don't come down with malaria.

Posted by James Zellmer at 5:27 PM

November 2, 2007

Hanoi: Temple of Literature

More photos and links here.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:56 PM

October 8, 2007

Fall Colors: Upper Mississippi Valley

Buena Vista Park, Alma, WI. Map

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:36 PM

October 1, 2007

The Need for New Maps


If it were not for Rand McNally, I wouldn’t know I was in Europe, separated by an ocean from my family and friends. As far as I’m concerned, the urban culture of Berlin is closer to the culture of New York City than it is to, say, the German hinterland, to say nothing of the American hinterland. It is only through a certain way of looking at the world — from the privileged view of the orbiting satellite, in this case — that it appears the way it does. Our traditional maps, from the rough sketches of the Middle Ages to the latest map/satellite hybrids of Google, place geographic proximity above all other considerations in terms of importance.

But what about cultural proximity? Lifestyle proximity? “Energetic” proximity? What about the fact that I can take a direct flight (more or less) to any world capital, but to get to a mid-sized city in the States, I have to take two or three? It costs more money and takes more time to get from Denver to Upstate New York than it does from Denver to Amsterdam, Paris, or Milan — wouldn’t that make Denver CLOSER to the European capitals than it is to small cities in its own nation? That is my contention.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:05 AM

September 30, 2007

Lonely Planet Releases Afghanistan Travel Guide

John Flinn:

See where the retreating British Army was massacred! Marvel at Osama bin Laden's old Tora Bora bunker! Gaze upon the crater where the giant Buddha statues of Bamiyan stood before the Taliban blew them up!

Or maybe not. Tourism in Afghanistan, it's safe to say, is a tough sell these days. Nobody is touting it as "the new Croatia." Kabul and Kandahar never figure in the hunt for "the next Prague." And don't look for the war-ravaged country in the next installment of "Where in the World Is Matt Lauer?"

All of which makes Lonely Planet's new Afghanistan guidebook the most eyebrow-raising title of the year.

The 244-page guide contains all the usual write-ups of mosques, mountains and museums, plus colorful maps and 17 pages of enticing photographs. But turn to the "Dangers & Annoyances" section, and instead of the usual cautions about bedbugs and pickpockets you find a warning about "the danger of an insurgency in the south, plus warlordism and terrorist violence in some other parts of the country."

Lonely Planet's new Afghanistan guidebook

Posted by James Zellmer at 5:48 PM

September 25, 2007

Opus on Air Travel

Classic Opus Cartoon.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:29 AM

September 23, 2007

France & America


Paris Sunrise: August 2007 (taken while zooming around in a Paris cab driven by a former exchange student - who spent a year on a Iowa dairy farm).

Interesting interview with French President Nicolas Sarkozy:

“I want to tell the American people that the French people are their friends,” he said. “We are not simply allies. We are friends. I am proud of being a friend of the Americans. You know, I am saying this to The New York Times, but I have said it to the French, which takes a little more courage and is a little more difficult. I have never concealed my admiration for American dynamism, for the fluidity of American society, for its ability to raise people of different identities to the very highest levels.”

Mr. Sarkozy, who has been accused of being too enamored of all things American, said he considered France and the United States to be on equal footing and somehow better than many others, because they believe that their values are universal and therefore destined to “radiate” throughout the world. The Germans, the Spaniards, the Italians, the Chinese, by contrast, do not think that way, he said.

I had an opportunity to visit with a French Foreign Legion officer while on travel. This man mentioned that he had served with Americans in many places, including Afghanistan, Bosnia and other locales. I asked him for an impression of America after these interactions (he's also travelled to the states with family): Resources. He said that when the Americans arrive, they always seem to have incredible resources. An well equipped base can be in service within "days".

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:24 PM

September 18, 2007

Travel Nightmare

Wayne Slavin:

I don’t normally post personal items, but I think that everyone should know about some of the horrible things happening at San Diego International Airport and with Delta Airlines. I wrote this immediately after the events that transpired so that I would have an accurate log.

Summers are the busiest travel time of the year. Each year more than 750 million passengers move through our country’s airports raking up more than 800 billion miles of travel. (Source) Along with the increase in demand, air travel complaints are up as well. (Source PDF)

Now, we all know this year has been a special one for the airlines and air travel as a whole. From the JetBlue hostage crisis, the terrorist “dry runs” on airport security around the country, and the most recent debacle on Southwest Airlines where they asked a woman to cover up because of her lewd attire.

Also, after learning about Xeni’s experiences, reading Bruce’s article, I decided to post this. Here we go!

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:32 PM

September 16, 2007

Vino Volo

Vino Volo:

Home » About Vino Volo

About Vino Volo

At Vino Volo, our goal is to bring the world of wine tasting and retail wine sales to where it is most convenient for air travelers. Our innovative wine tasting restaurant and retail stores are specifically designed for passengers and our website is available to continue serving them even after they leave the airport.

Vino Volo (derived from Italian for "wine flight") combines a boutique retail store with a stylish tasting lounge and bar, allowing guests to taste wines in a comfortable setting. Vino Volo serves great wines from across the globe by the glass or in tasting flights. All wines poured are also available for purchase by the bottle, allowing travelers to purchase wines to take with them or have shipped to their home (subject to state law).
Our Stores

Warm wood tones and comfortable leather lounge chairs welcome travelers into a sophisticated yet approachable post-security retreat in the airport terminal. Every Vino Volo location has an integrated retail area showcasing the wines being poured and offers elegant small plates to pair with the wines. Customers enjoy items such as locally-produced artisan cheeses, dry cured meats, and smoked salmon rolls wrapped around crab meat with crème fraiche. All of Vino Volo's dishes are available for customers to enjoy in the store or packaged to carry with them onto their flight.

7-10 new stores are planned for airports in 2007. We encourage you to check our website periodically for updates on new locations.
About Taste, Inc.

Vino Volo is owned and operated by Taste, Inc., founded in 2004 and backed by industry leaders in wine, retail, and the hospitality industries. Vino Volo plans to open several dozen stores in airports across the country in the next five years. Taste, Inc. is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Taste, Inc. is led by executives with deep industry expertise. Doug Tomlinson, Taste's CEO, has over 16 years of career success in launching and spinning off new businesses. Doug has helped several Fortune 500 clients start new businesses or divisions and has been featured as a cover author in Harvard Business Review. Ellen Bozzo, Director of Finance and Administration, has over 20 years of experience in multi-unit retail finance, including the role of Controller for Peet's Coffee & Tea. Joe LaPanna, Regional General Manager, has over 19 years of experience in high-end restaurant and wine retail management as well as managed the expansion of two major restaurant concepts. Carla Wytmar, Director of Development & Marketing, is a 20-year veteran in the food & wine industry, having worked with Hyatt Hotels Corporation, The Walt Disney World Company and as a consultant to top chefs and wine companies across the country.

Standing behind the Vino Volo team is a group of highly-credentialed investors and advisors with over a century of combined experience in retail, hospitality and wine that include the founder of Ravenswood Winery, the founder of Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, and the CEO of Jamba Juice, among others. Each member of this group sits on a formal Advisory Board and actively consults to Vino Volo on its development and execution. "Taste, Inc. DBA Vino Volo" is the California-based legal entity behind all Vino Volo operations.
About our Team

Vino Volo prides itself on building teams dedicated to customer service and with deep expertise in wine tasting and retail. Customer service is a cornerstone of Vino Volo's strategy, and Vino Volo invests heavily in training its talented staff to make wine approachable. A highly trained team of Wine Associates helps customers explore and enjoy Vino Volo's wines. The company also has a patented tasting framework to ease customers through the wine discovery process. Vino Volo is redefining service in airports, recently ranking #1 in customer service among over 900 airport stores mystery shopped, and is the recipient of the Airport Revenue News 2007 Award for Highest Regard for Customer Service.

Vino Volo offers some of the best opportunities in the wine industry, including:

* Intensive training program on service and wine
* Opportunity to continuously taste and learn about wine
* Annual retreat to a wine region of the world
* Full benefits package to full-time employees
* Competitive compensation package

For More Information

Visit our stores or Contact Us. We look forward to hearing from you!
Anything that can make airline travel more enjoyable is a welcome development, so beleaguered travelers take heart: Vino Volo…the leader of upscale wine bars at airports. – Wine Enthusiast

Posted by James Zellmer at 2:50 PM

September 15, 2007

A conversation with Ed Iacobucci about the reinvention of air travel

Jon Udell:

In Free Flight, the seminal book on the forthcoming reinvention of air travel, James Fallows tells a story about Bruce Holmes, who was then the manager of NASA’s general aviation program office. For years Holmes clocked his door-to-door travel times for commercial flights, and he found that for trips shorter than 500 miles, flying was no faster than driving. The hub-and-spoke air travel system is the root of the problem, and there’s no incremental fix. The solution is to augment it with a radically new system that works more like a peer-to-peer network.

Today Bruce Holmes works for DayJet, one of the companies at the forefront of a movement to invent and deliver that radically new system. Ed Iacobucci is DayJet’s co-founder, president, and CEO, and I’m delighted to have him join me for this week’s episode of Interviews with Innovators.

I first met Ed way back in 1991 when he came to BYTE to show us the first version of Citrix, which was the product he left IBM and founded his first company to create. As we discuss in this interview, the trip he made then — from Boca Raton, Florida to Peterborough, New Hampshire — was a typically grueling experience, and it would be no different today. A long car trip to a hub airport, a multi-hop flight, another long car trip from hub airport to destination.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:03 PM

September 13, 2007

Midwest Airlines Overture to Northwest - Bad for Flyers?

Tom Daykin:

Northwest Airlines Corp.'s planned investment in the corporate parent of Midwest Airlines came about after Midwest Chairman and CEO Timothy Hoeksema contacted his counterpart at Northwest - about one week after Midwest shareholders elected three board members nominated by rival suitor AirTran Holdings Inc.

Also, Northwest's planned ownership stake in Oak Creek-based Midwest Air Group Inc. would be around 47%, based on its level of equity investment in the transaction.

Those facts were disclosed today in a preliminary proxy statement Midwest Air filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The document includes previously withheld details on how Midwest Air reached its sale agreement in August with TPG Capital, a Fort Worth, Texas-based private equity firm, and Northwest.

According to the statement, Hoeksema on June 22 called Doug Steenland, Northwest chairman and chief executive officer, and "discussed Northwest's interest in exploring a possible transaction with us."

The conversation was "following up on a call (Hoeksema) had placed in early June," the statement said, without specifying a date.

I've noticed that Midwest is no longer competing for the lowest (or lower) fares to many markets from Milwaukee and Madison. Northwest is often lower, largely to compete with AirTran. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.... I assume this was one, perhaps of several reasons why Northwest would like to keep Midwest around - higher fares within their near-monopoly upper Midwest markets. Southwest may well address the upper midwest market - a boon for local flyers.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:19 PM

September 6, 2007

First Look at Branson / Rutan's Space Terminal

Bruno Giussani:

Making private space travel possible and accessible to everyone has been a recurring topic at recent TED conferences, discussed by speakers such as Burt Rutan at TED 2006 (watch his speech), Peter Diamandis at TEDGLOBAL 2005, Richard Branson at TED 2007 and others. This week the first images of the central terminal and hangar facility at New Mexico's future private spaceport have been released.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:22 AM

September 4, 2007

The 7 Wonders of the World in Full Screen VR Panoramas


Posted by James Zellmer at 9:45 PM

August 31, 2007

Merci Pour Les Roses :)

One of my favorite recent photos, taken in the 5th - Paris.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:10 PM

August 30, 2007

Continental Airlines Smart Move


Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAL) today announced that it has implemented new functionality at continental.com that allows customers to change flights online as part of the company's ongoing effort to improve the customer experience.

Customers whose flights may be impacted by disruptions, such as severe weather, now have the option of going to continental.com to change their flights in addition to contacting a Continental reservations agent or their travel agent. The new system allows Continental to make real-time updates to re-accommodation policies and recognizes when it is appropriate to waive change fees or additional fare collections.

"Customers want to be in control of their travel experience," said Martin Hand, vice president reservations and sales resources. "This is another step toward empowering our customers with the latest technology to make changes effortlessly when the need arises."


Posted by James Zellmer at 9:42 AM

August 25, 2007

A Report on GPS Navigation Systems


Many of today's new cars offer in-dash GPS as an option, and some offer it as standard equipment. The earliest models were CD-based, lacked detail and had a robotic voice. Nowadays, any in-dash system worth its salt is DVD-based, so maps for the entire country have more detail and Malaysian maps will usually fit onto a single disc. In-dash systems are usually more expensive than their portable counterparts, but they usually feature larger screens and integrate better with other vehicle electronics. And even when the signal is lost, the car's sensors will keep tracking the car on the map until the signal lock is regained.

Posted by James Zellmer at 5:54 AM

August 22, 2007

Dollar Diplomacy: How much did the Marshall Plan really matter?

Berlin Airlift Memorial at Tempelhof Airport U-Bahn Platz der Luftbrucke 52.484141 13.387412

Niall Ferguson:

t was “the most generous act of any people, anytime, anywhere, to another people,” its chief administrator declared. It was “among the most noble experiences in human affairs,” its representative in Europe said. It was “the most staggering and portentous experiment in the entire history of our foreign policy,” the young Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., who served on its staff, wrote. Foreigners concurred. It was “like a lifeline to sinking men,” according to the British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin. It “saved us from catastrophe,” a manager at Europe’s largest tire factory declared. Sixty years after Secretary of State George C. Marshall outlined the need for economic aid to stimulate European recovery, in a speech at Harvard University’s commencement on June 5, 1947, the plan named after him continues to be fondly remembered in donor and recipient countries alike. In our own time, liberal internationalists have periodically called for new Marshall Plans. After the collapse of Communism, some economists maintained that the former Soviet Union was in need of one. More recently, there has been desultory talk of Marshall Plans for Afghanistan, Iraq, and even the West Bank and Gaza. When critics lament the allegedly modest sums currently spent by the American government on foreign aid, they often draw an unfavorable contrast with the late nineteen-forties. Yet some people, at the time of its inception and since, have questioned both the Marshall Plan’s motivation and its efficacy. Was it really so altruistic? And did it really avert a calamity

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:05 AM

August 6, 2007

Waiting for My Air Taxi

Jon Udell:

One powerful force that’s dispersing economic opportunity is of course the Interent. A decade ago there were a few lucky souls who could pull an income through a modem. Today there are lots more, and we’ve yet to see what may happen once high-bandwidth telepresence finally gets going.

But a second force for dispersion has yet to kick in at all. It is the Internetization of transportation — and specifically, of air travel. That’s where Esther Dyson comes in. She’s investing in several of the companies that are aiming to reinvent air travel in the ways described by James Fallows in his seminal book on this topic, Free Flight. In that vision of a possible future, a fleet of air taxis takes small groups of passengers directly from point to point, bypassing the dozen or so congested hubs and reactivating the thousands of small airports — some near big cities, many elsewhere.

There are two key technological enablers. First a new fleet of small planes that are lighter, faster, smarter, safer, and more fuel-efficient than the current fleet of general aviation craft with their decades-old designs.

The second enabler is the Internet’s ability to make demand visible, and to aggregate that demand. So, for example, I’m traveling today from Keene, NH to Aspen, CO. If there are a handful of fellow travelers wanting to go between those two endpoints — or between, say, 40-mile-radius circles surrounding them, which circles might contain several small airports — we’d use the Internet to rendezvous with one another and with an air taxi.

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:31 PM

July 19, 2007

AirTran's Presentation to the Midwest Airlines Board of Directors

Presentation via www.sec.gov.

Airliners.net extensive discussion.

The demise of Midwest into AirTran will be a dark day for travelers....

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:18 AM

July 15, 2007

Vietnam Faces

This is an interesting image, taken from a slow boat on the Thu Bon River, just south of Hoi An, during a recent trip to Vietnam.

Australians, Americans? What might be on their minds - the War, friends, travel? Their faces seem to imply many, many words. A few more notes and links on Vietnam can be found here.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:08 PM

July 14, 2007

China's Online Population Explosion

Deborah Fallows:

There are now an estimated 137 million internet users in China, second in number only to the United States, where estimates of the current internet population range from 165 million to 210 million. The growth rate of China's internet user population has been outpacing that of the U.S., and China is projected to overtake the U.S. in the total number of users within a few years.

The influx of tens of millions of new online participants each year can be expected to have far-reaching consequences for the Chinese population, for China itself and for the larger world. At the very least, the internet will offer ever greater numbers of Chinese a much more sophisticated information and communications world than the one they currently inhabit. And because the Chinese share a single written language, despite the multiplicity of spoken tongues, it could have a unifying effect on the country's widely dispersed citizenry. An expanding internet population might also increase domestic tensions that could spill over into China's relations with the U.S. and other countries while the difference between Chinese and Western approaches to the internet could create additional sore points over human rights and problems with restrictions on non-Chinese companies.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:40 PM

July 13, 2007

Lufthansa Pondering an Economy Class Sleeping Area

Via Airliners.net:

To increase the travel comfort on intercontinental night flights, Lufthansa is thinking about a separate sleeping area within Economy Class. There, you would have the possibility to sleep in beds with an angle of 180� (Full Flat). This option could be booked instead of a seat.

In the future, when booking a night flight with Lufthansa from Johannesburg to Frankfurt, would you generally be interested in booking into the sleeping area instead of a seat in Economy Class?

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:33 AM

July 8, 2007

Notes from Bora Bora

Rosemary McClure:

A dream landscape emerged as our dinghy sped through turquoise waters toward the uninhabited South Seas islet of Tapu. Here, on a triangular speck of sand and coconut palms at the bottom of the world, red hibiscus, white gardenia and yellow plumeria blossoms were strewn on the water at land's edge. As we stepped from the boat, a sommelier offered flutes bubbling with Dom Perignon. Behind him, china and crystal sparkled on a dining table positioned in shallow water at the edge of the lagoon. A French sous-chef, wearing a tall white toque, worked nearby, partly hidden behind a grill disguised by palm fronds.

It was just another day in paradise for the staff of the St. Regis Resort, Bora Bora, where producing dream scenarios is part of the job. On this April afternoon, staffers were helping a couple celebrate an anniversary, and I had tagged along.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:10 PM

July 7, 2007

Beautiful Turkey VR Scenes

Keith Martin posted some beautiful VR scenes from Turkey.

Posted by James Zellmer at 2:39 PM

June 24, 2007

Lonely Planet founder scopes out sensationally bad places

John Flinn:

In nearly four decades of incessant globe-trotting, Tony Wheeler, the co-founder of Lonely Planet, has seen nearly all the planet's sensationally wonderful places. He's also seen the great places, the pretty good places, the so-so places and the not-too-bad places. There wasn't much left to do but to start collecting passport stamps from the really bad places.

The result is one of the most oddly compelling travel books in recent years, "Bad Lands: A Tourist on the Axis of Evil -- With Additional Excursions to Places That Are Slightly Misguided, Mildly Malevolent, Seriously Off-Course, Extraordinarily Reclusive and Much Misunderstood."

Wheeler pulled off the Axis of Evil hat trick: Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Then he moved on to Afghanistan, Burma/Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and George W. Bush's new favorite country, Albania, for a nostalgic look at the bad old days under Enver Hoxha.

The obvious question is, uh, why? I asked Wheeler this over lunch in San Francisco recently.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:37 AM

June 20, 2007

Into Middle America (Wisconsin), but Staying on the Fringe

Matt Gross:

As Paul tinkered, his friends sat around drinking beer while heavy metal played on the radio. “This is your truest Wisconsin experience,” mIEKAL said, “hanging out in an auto garage in the middle of nowhere.”

Wisconsin, however, announced itself with no such subtlety. After a weekend in Chicago, I’d driven west across Illinois, finally turning north amid the big estates near Forreston. Once I was over the state line, hills swelled up from the prairie, the sweet smell of manure wafted from dairy farms, and advertisements urged me to indulge in Cheddar cheese and frozen custard, bratwurst and ButterBurgers.

By the time I drove through New Glarus — a surreal town modeled on a Swiss village complete with chalet-style buildings and street signs in German — I knew I hadn’t simply entered a new state, but a new state of mind.

As culturally distinct as Wisconsin is, I was heading for a place that sat at yet another remove from mainstream America: Dreamtime Village, an intentional community of artists situated in the driftless hills of southwest Wisconsin (so called because they escaped the rough, cold touch of ice age glaciers).

Once known as communes, until the word became overly associated with hippies and other cultural relics of the 1960s and ’70s, intentional communities have a long history in this country, going back to the Shakers and even, I suppose, the Pilgrims. I’d long wanted to visit one, to see how utopian ideals were surviving in the more cynical America of today, and so I logged on to www.ic.org and searched for intentional communities in Wisconsin and Iowa. At first, I found what I had expected: devout Christians, pagan farmers and a polyamorous “family” (my wife, Jean, vetoed that one). Almost all, however, wanted serious members, not casual visitors like me.

Posted by James Zellmer at 3:29 PM

June 15, 2007

Rory Stewart in Kabul

Paul Kvinta:
Stewart, who now heads a nongovernmental organization called the Turquoise Mountain Foundation (TMF), had come into Aziz's good graces by way of his ongoing efforts to save the Old City from imminent destruction. One could be forgiven for assuming that, in Afghanistan, such a threat might be related to Taliban missiles or suicide bombers. But in counterintuitive fact, the culprit is a real estate boom. Everywhere in Kabul, bulldozers are flattening whole city blocks of traditional Afghan mud architecture to make room for modern glass-and-concrete buildings, fueled by billions of dollars in aid money and opium profits.

Stewart and I had spent the morning slogging through the mucky, trash-strewn lanes of the Old City, specifically a quarter called Murad Khane on the north bank of the Kabul River. Initially I had a hard time appreciating exactly what it is that's worth saving. Murad Khane is a warren of boxy, flat-topped, one- and two-story mud buildings laced with winding passageways so packed with decades of uncollected garbage that street levels had risen seven feet (two meters) in some areas, forcing residents to contort themselves to enter their front doors. There was no plumbing, no sewage system, no electricity. Residents relieved themselves in the open. Loitering men smoked hashish.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:27 PM

June 13, 2007

Interesting China Photo Set

The Washington Post.

Posted by James Zellmer at 3:33 PM

June 10, 2007

Ancient Road, Timeless Trip

A few extraordinary photos from a drive across the 'stans.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:36 PM

May 31, 2007

Vietnam's Growth as a Tourist Destination

Bruce Stanley:

Paul Chong was searching for paradise on a beach in Vietnam.

Mr. Chong, the head of business development at Singapore's Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, came here on a weeklong mission last August to scout sites for a luxury resort. He had journeyed by car and plane up the coast from Ho Chi Minh City before arriving at a tiny fishing village near the central city of Da Nang. In a remote cove reachable only by rowboat, he and three colleagues explored a two-mile stretch of beachfront.

"We fell so much in love with the site that we didn't leave until it was pitch black," Mr. Chong recalls. In March, Banyan Tree won a license to begin building the Laguna Vietnam, a $270 million complex of hotels, villas and spas.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:34 AM

May 13, 2007

World's Most Beautiful Beaches

Lots of pictures.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:00 PM

May 6, 2007

Saying No in Saudi Arabia

Frances Linzee Gordon:

'A guest is a gift from God' goes the popular Arab saying. The hospitality of the Middle East is legendary, and Saudi Arabia had proved no exception. During our weeks on the road and over the course of the 11,250km we clocked up, our car had become so stuffed full with presents that I now called it 'Abdullah's mobile bazaar'.

We stocked everything from the choicest dates and most luxuriously packaged boxes of chocolates to lavish coffee-table books, the finest coffee beans and even a pearl necklace. Saudi generosity was overwhelming, and it did not seem in any danger of dwindling.

The Red Sea port of Jeddah was our final destination. Considered the most cosmopolitan town in the Kingdom - and somewhat wild, degenerate and dangerous by the country's more conservative kinsmen - Jeddah had a palpably relaxed, seen-it-all air. On the private beaches outside town, we even came across bikini-clad girls on jet skis.


Posted by James Zellmer at 12:11 PM

May 2, 2007

Fabulous Gallery of Recent North Korea Photographs

Yannis Kontos pays a visit, by Marianne Fulton:

If one is tempted to think photography isn't important – witness North Korea.

Photojournalists are not welcome and their attempts to obtain a visa are rejected, as were those of Yannis Kontos. He tried for three years to travel to North Korea as a professional photographer. He wrote in his November 2006 Dispatch [http://www.digitaljournalist.org/issue0611/dis_kontos.html] that his luck changed when he traveled as a tourist. But tourist cameras are also restricted to choreographed events and sites.

Kontos described his working conditions while trying to capture everyday life, in part:

"Almost 80 percent of my pictures were taken in secret using several different methods to avoid the attention of my minders. Frequently acting and feeling like a spy using my camera's self-timer, most of the time I was shooting without looking at the viewfinder, even from inside a bus or a train. I managed to catch the mood of the country and little by little I collected enough material for a story. Every night, I was downloading my pictures in secret to my MP3 player, unbeknownst to my roommate. …

Posted by James Zellmer at 11:23 AM

May 1, 2007

Red Tape for Tourists visiting the US

Cory Doctorow:
America is rated the world's most unfriendly destination for foreign travellers in a recent global poll. The War on Terror (which includes a $15 billion fingerprinting program that humiliates every visitor to America's shores and has yet to catch a single terrorist) has destroyed America's tourist industry, killing $94 billion worth of tourist trade, and 194,000 American jobs.
There's something to this challenging issue. A driver on Hong Kong told me recently that passengers destined for most countries, other than the USA can check in (and check luggage) downtown, then take the train to the airport and go right to the gate. The security "friction" does have significant costs all around.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:18 AM

April 29, 2007

Hoi An Market

Hoi An Vietnam
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:18 PM

April 20, 2007

"Save the Cookie"

Midwest Airline's website dedicated to remaining independent. An Airtran takeover would be a disaster...
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:32 PM

April 17, 2007

Comical Cingular (AT&T)

Where to begin?

Prior to a recent Asia trip, I needed to obtain a SIM Card for my old Cingular (AT&T) phone that would work while on travel. (I now use a Verizon phone due to our experience with Cingular's poor network coverage - dropped calls on John Nolen Drive, for example).

I called Cingular and explained my requirements: a prepaid SIM Card that would work for 30 days while on travel overseas. The telesales representative explained their different services, including data, worldwide calling and various monthly minute plans.

I provided my credit to close the transaction and a few days later, the Cingular SIM card arrived. I also requested the codes to "unlock" my old phone. Unfortunately, despite our prior long term Cingular arrangement, they insisted that I had to use the phone for 90 days before they would provide the unlock keys. This would prove to be a problem when I found that the SIM card Cingular sold me did not, in fact, work internationally.

Fortunately, a friend let me use an old phone, which would accept any SIM Card - easily purchased in most countries.

I called Cingular upon my return to express my disappointment. Farrah in Halifax was as helpful as could be expected, given their organization. She phoned their "sales" department to see if I could obtain a refund. The "sales" person told her that they "don't sell SIM Cards"! I mentioned that while I'm unhappy with Cingular, I'm glad she had that experience with sales, particularly while I was on the line.

Bottom line: If you are looking for a world phone, look elsewhere. I've heard good things about T-mobile, though your mileage may vary.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:07 AM

April 15, 2007

Private Room Websites in Europe

Arthur Frommer:
If a "private homestay" is the key to an affordable visit to London, the same is true in Paris and Rome. Different from bed and breakfasts, homestays are the rental of a single room in a house or apartment whose owners are supplementing their income by taking in transient visitors. Such lodgings are available for as little as $35 to $40 per person per night, as compared with at least double that price (and sometimes more) for a room in a modest, commercial guesthouse or tiny hotel.

In my April 1 column, I listed several organizations that make such rooms available in London, such as www.happy-homes.com and www.athomeinlondon.co.uk. Immediately, I received letters requesting similar Web sites for low-cost private homestays in France and Italy.

-- Paris room rentals: The notion of taking a foreign visitor into one's apartment was once anathema to the average, privacy-seeking Parisian. To do so just wasn't "French." In a cultural shift that I won't try to explain, slightly more than 200 Parisian families now have begun renting rooms in their homes or apartments -- and these make up the inventory of three Parisian bed-and-breakfast services (more commonly known as chambres d'hôtes) offered to tourists from around the world.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:40 AM

April 14, 2007

Arctic Eagles Bid Mud Hens Farewell at Alaska Airlines

Susan Carey:
They called themselves the Arctic Eagles. For years, they flew Alaska Airlines passengers on the lonely routes from here to 20 remote outposts across the nation's largest state. With limited instruments and little air-traffic control, they faced blizzards, bear heads, gravel runways and volcanic eruptions.

But after 25 years, the Eagles are being disbanded.

Alaska Air two weeks ago retired the last of its dedicated fleet of banged-up old Boeing 737-200s affectionately known as "mud hens." As the airline expands its routes, it is sending the roughly 60 pilots onto newer aircraft that they'll have to fly to California, Mexico and the East Coast as well as the Alaskan destinations.

Alaska is no longer their exclusive fief, either. Some of the airline's other pilots will be able to fly the Arctic routes as long as they're "checked out" on some of the most demanding airports.
I flew on one of these Alaska Air flights years ago, it took a few tries to land at the fogged in airport. Sat next to a woman who lost her husband - an air taxi pilot - in a crash.
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:19 PM

Hanoi Scene - March 2007

Posted by James Zellmer at 3:16 PM

April 8, 2007

Happy Easter!

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:27 AM

April 6, 2007

Sunset - Bangkok

Posted by James Zellmer at 5:43 AM

March 22, 2007

Exploring Antarctica

Washington Post. Fabulous.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:39 AM

March 21, 2007

Madison's Overture Center: 1999 and 2006

Compare a 1999 view with a fall, 2006 scene of Madison's Overture Center:



Virtual Properties.
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:06 PM

March 18, 2007

Airlines Learn to Fly on a Wing and an Apology

Jeff Bailey:
Airlines are getting serious about saying they’re sorry.

After a spate of nightmarish service disruptions, American Airlines, JetBlue Airways and others are sending out more apologies, hoping to head off customer complaints and quell talk of new consumer-protection regulations from Congress.

But no airline accepts blame quite like Southwest Airlines, which employs Fred Taylor Jr. in a job that could be called chief apology officer.

His formal title is senior manager of proactive customer communications. But Mr. Taylor — 37, rail thin and mildly compulsive, by his own admission — spends his 12-hour work days finding out how Southwest disappointed its customers and then firing off homespun letters of apology.
Fascinating look at Southwest Airlines' culture. I hope they fly into Madison soon.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:28 PM

March 17, 2007

Joshua Tree National Park

National Park Service website. U2's Joshua Tree (not this tree).
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:12 PM

March 15, 2007

Pictures from the Sky

An amazing collection.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:39 PM

February 23, 2007

Lake Michigan Sunrise

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:34 PM

Flying with the Storm

Gathering Storm, San Carlos, CA Airport: Thursday, 2/22/2007Click for larger photos
Above and below the clouds: Iowa and Madison: 2/23/2007
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:29 PM

Zatar Restaurant

"Eclectic Mediterranean Cuisine".

Well worth stopping. Reminds me, in some ways of Madison's excellent Himul Chuli, with a Berkeley twist or two. Zatar's website. KQED has a review [video]. Click for larger photos. Kelly's salad was superb.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:58 PM

February 4, 2007

Antarctica Photos

Duff Johnson:
In January of 2007, I travelled to Antarctica (specifically, the tip of the Antarctica Peninsula and environs) with my wife and stepfather.

This page is intended to offer a few stills, some movies and a thought or two on the experience. Nothing heavy, I assure you.

It is not my habit to promote my latest vacation. Antarctica is so extraordinary, and the tools for recording memories are (nowadays) so capable that I decided to "give it a go".
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:44 PM

January 26, 2007

Rio Grande River: Big Bend National Park

Posted by James Zellmer at 5:13 PM

January 22, 2007

Interesting Discussion on China

Janes Pethokoukis:
When will the Chinese middle class push for greater political freedom to match growing economic freedom?

The $64,000 question. The extent of the ideological bankruptcy of the Chinese Communist Party is not widely understood in the U.S. It claims single party rule because it is the trustee of the 1949 Communist revolution governing democratically for China's workers and peasants. Its problem is that communism is in reverse worldwide, and under the doctrine of the "Three Represents" invented by Jiang Zemin, the party now accepts that class war is over and that it must represent all Chinese society. In which case: Why no accountability? Change came in the Soviet Union with the fifth generation of leaders; the fifth generation of leaders succeeds Hu Jintao in 2012. I don't expect any change until after then, but my guess is that sometime in the mid-to-late 2010s, the growing Chinese middle class will want to hold the Chinese official and political class to account for how they spend their taxes and for their political choices.
The Wall Street Journal posted an email interview with Friedman which included a few words on China.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:18 AM

January 13, 2007

Travel Scenes

Tarantula: Wikipedia | Clusty. Big Bend National Park.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:43 PM

A Traveler's Look at Russia, Via its Airports

The Economist:
WORKING as a journalist in Russia, with its eleven time zones, its endless steppe and perpetual taiga, means spending a lot of time in the air. It involves flying in planes so creaky that landing in one piece is a pleasant surprise —then disembarking in airports so inhospitable that some visitors may want to take off again immediately.

But, if he has the strength, beyond the whine of the Tupolev engines and the cracked runways, a frequent flyer can find in Russia's airports a useful encapsulation of the country's problems and oddities. In their family resemblances, Russia's airports show how far the Soviet system squeezed the variety from the vast Russian continent; in their idiosyncrasies, they suggest how far it failed to. They illustrate how much of that system, and the mindset it created, live on, 15 years after the old empire nominally collapsed. Russia's awful, grimy, gaudy airports reveal how much hasn't changed in the world's biggest country—but also, on closer inspection, how much is beginning to.
Traveling in Mexico many years ago, I remember purchasing a ticket at an airport for an AeroMexico flight to the Pacific Coast city of Mazatlan. Walking away from the counter, I glanced at my paper ticket and noticed that there was no seat assignment. I quickly turned around and inquired as to where I might be sitting. The flight (horribly delayed) was sold out. I asked why he sold me a ticket? "There might be another flight...". And, there was, 10 hours later.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:12 PM

January 5, 2007

Nice Machu Picchu Photo

Scott Howard.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:20 PM

Hype & the Denver International Airport

I heard the hype while living in Denver nearly 20 years ago. $2.5 billion (turned into $5 billion) was necessary to avoid all of the current airport's problems during snowstorms. Mayer Federico Pena lead the charge with his reward coming later - the highway to the new airport (DIA) is named "Pena Boulevard".

Mike Boyd tells the "rest of the story" in the Grinch Comes Clean:
"All Weather Airport? Oh, That Was Just 'Hype'..." ...Along With Most Of The Other Stuff DIA PromisThis Christmas, it wasn't just chestnuts that got roasted on an open fire. Denver's "all-weather" airport, the one that was built to unclog the Western skies, the one that was going to be the glorious technological beacon for all future airports, got roasted big-time in the national media. Justifiably.

Denver International got cooked on something called "the truth."

For almost two days before Christmas, the airport was shut down due to snow. At most times of the year, and at most other airports, this would have been not much more than a page three human interest story, with interviews of passengers stranded like refugees in a big terminal, being asked really deep questions, like, "How long have you been standing in line?" or "When do you think you'll get home?" Or, "Gee, you gotta lot of luggage there." Anything to fill a 90-second piece that's been done dozens of times before.
But this wasn't just any time of the year. And it wasn't at just any airport. First, it was an event that messed up the Holidays to some degree for perhaps as many as 100,000 people. That meant there were interviews with stranded soldiers from Iraq, their precious leave daysdia2.JPG (13614 bytes) being consumed by a closed airport. Then there were the perfunctory pictures of bewildered young families stuck in the terminal, surrounded by despondent little kids fearful of missing Santa Claus, holding the package containing the ThighMaster they were going to give Grandma for Christmas. High profile, newsworthy stuff.

Second, it took place at an airport that was built on the promise that it would never happen. DIA had repeatedly told the world that it would free mankind once and for all of the scourge of flight delays. Mystical DIA, they promised, would handle any - that's right - any weather. No exceptions. Any weather. And when they said all this, they were dead serious and took condescending shots at any infidel who would question it.

A couple of notable quotes from the days when the City was building DIA. These from 1992, for example:

"It's the world's first all-weather airport. We will be able to operate as well in a in a blizzard as Stapleton does on a sunny day..."

or, how about this:

"...We can still land 90 planes per hour in a blizzard..."

In fact, these wonderous promises were made by DIA officials and City politicians as the foundational reason to build this magic new $2.5 billion - now, over $5 billion - airport for the Mile-High City. "Weather delays will be a thing of the past," one of the breathless promo pieces said. Another, aimed at the bond houses that were to finance this thing, claimed, "An all-weather airport, capable of landing three streams of aircraft, no matter how bad the weather..."

In a blizzard? Since there are no arrest records indicating these people were smokingsnakeoil2.JPG (11535 bytes) funny cigarettes or having Timothy O'Leary parties, it's clear that they were saying this stuff with a straight, sober face in an attempt to claim something that they knew wasn't possible nor true. In English, it's called a lie.

At the time, The Boyd Group and a few others went on record, pointing out that, unless they could get Jesus to be a sub on the engineering contract, the chances of DIA being "all-weather" were zero to none.

Aviation Cognoscenti: The Emperor's New Runways. But this was a billion-dollar project, and there was lot of money to be made. So, virtually nobody else in the aviation industry - not the alphabet groups, not the FAA, not even the aviation media, dared say anything. They wanted to remain politically correct.

They all knew, or should have known, that the "all-weather" claims, as well as many others concocted to support the project, were simply not true. But they said nothing.

Perfect Storm: Snow. No Santa. Four Networks. And A Dumb DIA PR Stunt. Of course, DIA has closed on many occasions due to weather. A couple of times, "officially" closed, and on a lot more occasions, functionally closed when airlines simply couldn't operate, yet the bureaucrats would claim DIA was "open" - it was just those silly airlines who refused to land on runways covered with snow, or where they couldn't taxi to the gates. Or in dangerous wind-shear conditions. Or not operating because of those dumb consumers who couldn't get to the airport because the meandering 12-mile access road was impassible and unplowed.

In those instances, nobody much noticed. But then came The Nightmare Before Christmas. From a public relations standpoint, it was DIA's Perfect Storm.

As would be expected, when DIA shut down, the national media descended to do the usual perfunctory Grandma-got-run-over-by-a-flight-delay stories. But then they noticed three things that didn't make sense.

The first was the actual amount of snow that it took to close the airport in relation to it's all weather, better-than-any-other-airport-in-bad-weather claims. Unlike the rest of the region, which saw in some cases almost four feet of white stuff, DIA got 19 to 22 inches, depending on the source. Even with wind, it was neither a 100-year storm, nor of a size particularly unheard of in Colorado. The second thing that got their attention was DIA's announcement that it would not open for almost 24 hours after the last flake had fallen and the bright Rocky Mountain sun came out. Almost a full day. This at America's supposedly most technologically-advanced airport. Red flags went up.

But the third thing that got the media's investigative juices into hyper-drive was when DIA's PR staff opened their mouths and started spitting absurd excuses in all directions. The reasons for the delay in re-opening, they explained confidently and condescendingly, were the huge snow drifts - at first, claimed to be seven feet high, and later the drifts grew in the press statements like Pinocchio's nose to a whopping 12 feet. With a straight face, they told this to network reporters who had just easily traversed the all-four-lanes-open access road, with little or no evidence of such Himalayan-like snow drifts.

Adding to the intrigue, DIA's PR staff arrogantly claimed that the airport had done everything perfectly - in fact, they said they had no reason to change anything in the future. The PR stunts became more silly when they couldn't answer repeated questions regarding why the 12-mile access freeway was clear and open and free of 12-foot drifts, yet all six of DIA's runways were still closed, its ramp areas were clogged with snow, and it couldn't operate for nearly a day after the weather had cleared.pino2.JPG (26150 bytes)

Looking around the terminal, seeing hundreds of people stranded, soldiers from Iraq spending their holiday leave sitting on the floor in their desert fatigues, and passengers around the country messed up due to 20 inches of snow at a $5 billion facility that was supposedly going to do away with weather delays, and things just didn't add up.

The media smelled a cover-up, which is like waving a t-bone steak in front of a hungry Rottweiler.

If They'd Just Told The Truth Right Off... The truth was that, as humans do sometimes, somebody dropped the ball and DIA found itself without a plan to handle a 20-inch snowstorm. A screw-up. But instead of simply coming out with the hard facts, the airport PR hacks went into their usual tell 'em anything mode, a technique that's worked well in the past, but backfired badly this time. By the time the airport finally opened, DIA's PR department had less credibility than Saddam Hussein as a candidate for term life insurance.

But finally, the intense national coverage led the airport to come clean. They announced at a press conference that indeed, they didn't have an adequate snow-management plan, and - countering their original contentions of operational perfection - they were even going to hire a "snow consultant" to fix things, as opposed to relying on the snow job its PR people were providing.

But the damage was done - Denver was splattered all over the national news as an airport to avoid if there is any chance of bad weather.

A Murder-Suicide Pact In The Works?. And that brings us back to the all-weather claim made by DIA and tacitly supported by a host of financial hangers-on, in order to prove the need for the new airport.

After being repeatedly badgered by reporters on the all-weather claim, including the two quotes above, the Airport's long-time chief spokesperson finally blurted out:

"... I'd like to choke the person who came up with that (all-weather) term..."

Within hours, the Denver media dug up the intended strangle victim. Oops. Guess who was behind those all-encompassing quotes? Put it this way - we now have Denver's first pre-announced murder-suicide. Grab your trachea, guy, and squeeze vigorously.

But it gets better.

All Those Great Promises? Oh, Never Mind. The real story was when this same chief DIA PR official was questioned on a radio talk show on December 28th about the original promises and claims made by the City of Denver, its officials, and DIA supporters in order to "prove" a new airport was needed.

The host asked why DIA and the City had made claims for the airport that they knew not to be within several zip codes of being accurate. The PR guy's response was clear.

Yes, of course, he admitted, the airport and the City used what he termed as "hype" and "hyperbole" to sell the need for a new airport. They did so, he noted, to get public support. Basically, he admitted that DIA put out outlandish projections, including the all-weather jive, to mislead the public.

Cutting to the chase, he admitted that they lied.

When asked why public officials would say things they knew not to be true, he took the Nuremberg defense. The public officials were just following orders. At the time of construction, those would be coming from none other than Federico Pena, who went on to greater heights of hyperbole, being responsible as DOT Secretary for the ValuJet FAA cover-up that killed 110 people.

Lots of "Hype" & "Hyperbole" Behind DIA. We could get into the other jive-lie claims - like how the new airport would win new nonstops to Asia (topographic, operational and demographic issues essentially preclude it) or how it would increase service for smaller airports in the region (ask the smaller communities in the area that lost service from one of two hubbing carriers) or the ridiculous concocted nonsense that DIA would attract new service from points all over Europe. (Today, DIA has nonstops to three European points, far from the dozen or so, with over 50 weekly departures, that the airport was supposed to magically attract by 1993.) Or the "hyperbole" that Stapleton couldn't be expanded to handle future growth. (The airport's 1988 EIS outlined growth potential to over 70 million passengers.) No, it didn't default on its bonds, at least not yet, but it has been re-financed a number of times, and, according to the former head of the SEC, it loses money. And the delay stuff? Check out the first three years of operations. Even since then, it's nothing spectacular. Weather delays are not a thing of the past.

There's lots more, but now, they've admitted that we can't trust any of the claims on which $5 billion's been spent to date.

But It Exists. So They Need To Be Honest Going Forward. DIA is here. It's operating. And it needs to be supported.

But that doesn't change the fact that it was built on lies and doctored data that were obvious at the time, but conveniently ignored by a lot of aviation sectors who knew better. Now that they've come clean, it's a lesson that needs to be learned.

We're proud that The Boyd Group was among the few in the consulting field that pointed out these things from the start. Too bad some of our colleagues in the business were afraid to stand up lest they offend a politician or lose out on some business.

The nation needs more airport capacity. But when snake oil is needed to support a given project, it's a political boondoggle, not a capacity project.

(c) 2007, The Boyd Group/ASRC, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:00 PM

December 31, 2006


Happy New Year!
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:26 AM

December 21, 2006

Interesting OAG Travel Data

IAG Blog:
“The facts show that scheduled airlines offered more seats in 2006 than ever before with more than three billion seats being made available to the flying public,” said Duncan Alexander, managing director, OAG. “At a very conservative estimate of a 70 percent load factor that means over 2.3 billion passengers will have flown during 2006. That is more than 6.3 million people flying every day of the year on either business or leisure.”

“Given the schedules already in the OAG system for the first quarter of 2007, the trend of more seats and flights being offered by the world’s scheduled airlines, and more people flying on both long and short haul, looks to continue,” he said.
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:22 PM

Top 10 National Geographic 2006 Photos

National Geographic News:
Purported pyramids, giant jellyfish, and a number of pythons that swallowed more than they bargained for were among the stars of this year's most popular news photos.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:29 AM

December 18, 2006

Details on AirTran's Midwest Desires

David Bond & James Ott:
A two-month exchange of letters between Leonard and Hoeksema, published in an AirTran filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, reveals that Midwest rejected an initial AirTran proposal more than a year ago--for $4.25 per share, according to Skornicka--and that things got testy in mid-November after Hoeksema told Leonard he would present an assessment of the offer to Midwest's board at its regular meeting on Dec. 6.

Leonard replied Nov. 22 that it was "unacceptable" for Hoeksema to wait for the board's next regular meeting and suggested that Midwest's management wasn't carrying out its fiduciary duty to shareholders. He also hinted at a hostile-takeover attempt--"[O]ur passive response to your rejection of our original offer is not the pattern that you can continue to expect from us." Hoeksema reassured Leonard Nov. 27 that Midwest wasn't dragging its feet.

ALSO, LEONARD TOLD Hoeksema that the merged airline would "significantly increase jobs in a way that Midwest could never do under any possible scenario," and that it would "materially improve the scope and frequency of air service in Milwaukee and Kansas City . . . far beyond anything Midwest can offer as an independent company." Milwaukee and Kansas City are the origins or destinations of 83% and 13% of Midwest's service, respectively.
Nice bit of digging in AirTran's SEC filings. Nothing good will happen if the AirTran takeover occurs. Dennis McCann recently gave both a try.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:24 AM

December 13, 2006

Nothing Good Will Come of a Midwest / Airtran Merger....

Jeff Bailey:
AirTran Holdings is roughly a tenth the size of its main competitor, Delta Air Lines. So AirTran executives would seem unlikely cheerleaders of a potential merger that would make Delta 60 percent larger.

But the recent $8.5 billion takeover offer for Delta by US Airways has found a fan in Joseph B. Leonard, chief executive at AirTran, which, like Delta, flies routes across the Southeast from its hub in Atlanta.

“I’m rooting for it,” Mr. Leonard said yesterday in an interview, after announcing his own proposed takeover of Midwest Air, an airline based in Oak Creek, Ill., for $290 million.

Mr. Leonard may relish his role as underdog but that is not why he hopes the carriers merge — he just wants to see fewer jets in the sky. After all, US Airways’ proposed takeover would reduce the two airlines’ combined jet fleet about 10 percent.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:59 PM

December 11, 2006

24 Hour US Air Traffic Animation

IAG Blog:
This is a very interesting sight. It depicts flights across the U.S. in time-lapse over a couple of 24 hour periods.

It has already garnered nine awards: #49 - Most Viewed (All Time) - Arts & Animation - All #39 - Most Viewed (All Time) - Arts & Animation - English #87 - Top Rated (All Time) - Arts & Animation - All #37 - Most Discussed (All Time) - Arts & Animation - All #27 - Most Discussed (All Time) - Arts & Animation - English #46 - Top Favorites (All Time) - Arts & Animation - All #39 - Top Favorites (All Time) - Arts & Animation - English #79 - Recently Featured - All #16 - Recently Featured - Arts & Animation - All
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:34 PM

December 3, 2006

Greek Blue Cave Photo Gallery

Natural Arches:
These two beautiful arches are located near the Blue Caves at the north end of the Greek island of Zakynthos. Unfortunately the boat trip from the city of Zakynthos to the Blue Caves no longer visits these arches. Photo by Dimitris Raptis, who has a very nice web page about the island of Zakynthos.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:31 PM

December 1, 2006

Air Travel Liberalization

Randy @ Boeing:
Earlier this year an important study came out, taking a look at the economic impact of liberalization. And I've been meaning to share it with you and talk a bit about what it means for our business.

Over the past 25 years, three main forces have radically changed the airline industry: the regulatory environment, airplane/aerospace capabilities, and airline strategies/business models.

First, changes to government regulations have been critical in shaping the airline industry. Since the deregulation of the U.S. market in 1978, we've seen a dramatic shift in domestic and international markets. And we've also seen increased liberalization - even "open skies" - in international markets. This freer market access has had the effect of intensifying airline competition and causing airlines to focus more on what passengers want.
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:07 PM

November 25, 2006

Extraordinary Service in an Era of Low Expectations

My cell phone rang, displaying an unknown number while driving home from a Thanksgiving trip via the airport. Shannon from Milwaukee's fine airline - Midwest - called to say that one of her coworkers found homework in the seatback of the plane we just vacated. She thought it important and wanted to know if we had a FedEx number so she could send us the missing homework via an overnight package.

Let's just ponder this customer service outlier, or "black swan [more]" for a moment. We live in an era of low expectations:
  • Politics: Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss:
    But Ms. Pelosi’s damage to herself was already done. The well-known shortcomings of Mr. Murtha were broadcast for all to see — from his quid-pro-quo addiction to moneyed lobbyists to the grainy government tape of his involvement in the Abscam scandal a generation ago. The resurrected tape — feasted upon by Pelosi enemies — shows how Mr. Murtha narrowly survived as an unindicted co-conspirator, admittedly tempted but finally rebuffing a bribe offer: “I’m not interested — at this point.
  • Black Friday retail tactics:
    In Lewis Center, Ohio, near Columbus, Cindy Milsap, 43, and her daughter, Ashley, 20, woke up before dawn to drive to the nearby Wal-Mart Supercenter, which advertised a 52-inch high-definition television for $474. “We don’t really need a new TV, Ms. Milsap said. “But at that price? C’mon.”

    But the bargain eluded them. The “limited quantity” in the ad, she said, was three TVs — all sold by the time the pair arrived.

    Those customers left in peace.
  • The oxymoron that is "airline service":
    With overcrowded airplanes, little civility in dress or demeanor of passengers, few meals, fewer amenities, industrywide salary cuts of epic proportions, and (the worst sin of all) airlines canceling pension plans because they've robbed the fund of hundreds of millions, far too many of America's airline employees are shell shocked, depressed, disillusioned and resentful. In effect, we're now an industry full of employees going through post-traumatic stress and wondering why we ever thought it was fun.

    And that, in a nutshell, equates to bad and inattentive service with a "who cares" attitude. Morale, in other words, is the key, and it's in precious short supply today.
  • 2006 Airline Quality Rating website.

I remain astonished that a Midwest employee cleaning the plane found said homework, took the time to give it to someone who could find the owner, lookup their contact information, make a call, obtain the shipping information, place the papers in a FedEx package and send it our way. Everyone involved must actually care about the customer. What a concept. I hope that these words, in some small way encourage others to fly Midwest. There is indeed, no better care in the air.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:41 PM

November 24, 2006

Detroit Thanksgiving Day Parade Panorama

Mark Houston
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:44 PM

November 9, 2006

Mt. St. Helens VR Scene

Fullscreen 360
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:58 PM

November 5, 2006

A Chat with JetBlue's David Neelman

Judith Dobrzynski:
With Washington often, umm, unable to focus--"It took 10 years to get an energy bill passed that has had little effect," Mr. Neeleman interjects--he sought counsel on the capital's ways. As a result, he got professional help on the bill's language and learned about the legislative process. "The advice I got was to go get RAND and other thinkers to write about it--those are the guys that they listen to," Mr. Neeleman says. He has spoken with RAND about doing an economic impact study, but has not commissioned one. And, as he put it, "I got a couple professors"--names of people he might enlist in the cause. Who?--I ask. "From the American Enterprise Institute and Brookings Institution," is his reply.

Mr. Neeleman has also visited the White House seeking support. "They're looking at it," he says, but were noncommittal. He believes "it should sail through Congress," and would be happy to "testify for my country and for our industry." This earnestness, along with his resolve, is obvious throughout the interview. As I'm leaving, Mr. Neeleman stops me to point out--no, to declaim--a framed quote on the wall outside his office. It's from Teddy Roosevelt, and reads, in part: It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena . . . who--at the worst--if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:50 AM

November 3, 2006

Interesting MetaData: Madison Air Travel Searches

Kayak's 25 Most searched destinations from MSN are based on 1,235,978 total searches on Kayak over the past 2 days. All prices are per-person for round-trip tickets.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:04 AM

October 25, 2006


Posted by James Zellmer at 12:50 AM

October 24, 2006


Posted by James Zellmer at 9:47 AM

Cisco's New Videoconferencing System

Sarah Jane Tribble:
One industry analyst described Cisco's system -- which the company calls ``telepresence'' -- as far superior to other video conferencing products, typically accessed or run over the Internet.

Chambers has touted the new technology as so lifelike that it could replace corporate travel, saying that Cisco will cut $100 million in expenses by reducing travel 20 percent in the next 12 months.

The system uses software the company created and runs on a network powered by the company's own routers and switches. The pictures are displayed on a 60-inch plasma screen with 1,080-pixel screen resolution, which is four times better than the standard television and two times better than a high-definition television.
The increaasing unpleasantness associated with air travel makes these products compelling - along with software only tools like Skype with video.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:10 AM

October 17, 2006

Sustainability workshop, Akumal, Mex, Nov. 6 -12

Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA) will offer a sustainability workshop, November 6 – 12, in Akumal, Mexico.

I began volunteering for CEA in 2000, and Akumal is as close to paradise as I’ve ever experienced. Located 60 miles south of Cancun, the shallow, crystal-clear water and sandy beach of Akumal Bay define tropical perfection. Shops for renting snorkel and dive gear are right on the beach. The small, but stunning, Tulum ruins hug the sea 10 minutes south of Akumal, and the jungles hide many, many small sites that you can visit on your own or with a guide. Additionally, local guides can lead exceptional nature walks, and CEA staff give entertaining and educational presentations nightly.

The course will cover alternative technologies for the production of energy, the treatment of wastewater, and the disposal of solid waste. The course will be taught in Spanish, though nearly all of the instructors and students will be bilingual. See more details at http://www.ceakumal.org/sustainability_workshop.html.

Contact Ed Blume (ed@ceakumal.org) for more details on Akumal and tips on how to get there as cheaply as possible.

Posted by Ed Blume at 10:28 AM

October 10, 2006

Sunrise: Loveland Pass

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:37 PM

October 8, 2006

Recent Rental Cars - Hot American Iron: Hertz Ford Mustang Shelby GT-H

Preparing for some travel recently, I recalled reading a snippet of information somewhere that Hertz was bringing back their famed Mustang Shelby GT-H (called the Mustang GT350H in the 1960's). Carrol Shelby's Shelby Automobiles modified 500 Ford Mustangs [Shelby GT-H] and shipped them off to Hertz where they can be rented through the end of the year.

Following are photos and notes from a recent rental:

The journey began at the Hertz rental center where a "manager" must review the car and complete an extensive checklist with the prospective renter. The vehicle check includes the engine seal, placed to make sure that there are no repeats of the 1960's practice of renting a GT350H and swapping engines (removing the powerful Shelby engine and replacing it with a lesser standard Ford motor). A nearby young father with babies in tow genuflected repeatedly as the manager checked over the 350 GT-H for me.

That the 'stang is shipped with no transmission options [a slushbox (5 speed automatic transmission) is standard] is perhaps one of it's only failures.

Checking out of my hotel one morning, I walked over to the GT-H and observed another person genuflecting. This time, the enthusiast was a man in his late 50's. Interestingly, this guy mentioned what great values the Shelby Mustangs are as he had just purchased a BMW Z4 M coupe - car that I'm sure is no slouch.

The GT-H attracted attention everywhere. Nancy wondered what was wrong with Ford that they could not capitalize on this type of devotion.

The attention was amplified when a red late model Mustang GT followed us around for a few miles. The driver caught up during a stop and asked to look over the Shelby. He had just purchased this late model red GT and wanted for a bit of engine action ("ear candy"?). After the Shelby sprung to life, he revved the GT's V8 and moved down the road.

Fellow drivers and walkers pointed at the GT-H frequently as we enjoyed the fall aspen foliage. These images provide a brief photo summary of our route:

Two Fords: the Shelby GT-H and a propane powered Ford Pickup.

God's glorious canvas provided a great backdrop for the journey.

Independence Pass

Hoosier Pass
The Hertz Shelby GT-H, a rather enjoyable break from the usual rental car. Hertz will apparently auction their fleet in early 2007 - though autoblog says that they will be sent to "select dealers" for sale (one was sold at auction during the 2006 EAA Airventure for $250K).

I was pleasantly surprised by the fuel efficiency - mid 20's. I have to agree with Nancy, who wonders what Ford is missing by not leveraging the popularity of these cars. The number of decelerating Porsche drivers, pausing to take a look (C2, C4 and Turbo) was certainly illuminating.

Bob Elton might provide a bit of information with respect to Ford's lack of Mustang brand identity leverage.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:12 PM

October 5, 2006

Good News for Inexpensive Flights to Europe

In a move bound to drive British Airways and its Irish CEO nuts, Ryanair has launched a surprise takeover bid for Aer Lingus. The deal values Aer Lingus at 1.48bn euros (1.9bn dollars). Predictably, the spin started immediately. "This offer represents a unique opportunity to form one strong airline group for Ireland and for European consumers. We will expand, enhance and upgrade the Aer Lingus operations," said Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary in a statement. "This offer, if successful,means both companies will continue to operate separately and compete vigorously in the small number of routes on which we both operate, currently around 17 of the approximately 500 routes operated by the two airlines," he added.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:57 AM

October 3, 2006

Colliding With Death at 37,000 Feet, and Living

Joe Sharkey:
With the window shade drawn, I was relaxing in my leather seat aboard a $25 million corporate jet that was flying 37,000 feet above the vast Amazon rainforest. The 7 of us on board the 13-passenger jet were keeping to ourselves.

Without warning, I felt a terrific jolt and heard a loud bang, followed by an eerie silence, save for the hum of the engines.

And then the three words I will never forget. “We’ve been hit,” said Henry Yandle, a fellow passenger standing in the aisle near the cockpit of the Embraer Legacy 600 jet.

“Hit? By what?” I wondered. I lifted the shade. The sky was clear; the sun low in the sky. The rainforest went on forever. But there, at the end of the wing, was a jagged ridge, perhaps a foot high, where the five-foot-tall winglet was supposed to be.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:50 PM

September 30, 2006

Milwaukee Passenger Detained over "idiot" barb

A Wisconsin man who wrote "Kip Hawley is an Idiot" on a plastic bag containing toiletries said he was detained at an airport security checkpoint for about 25 minutes before authorities concluded the statement was not a threat.

Ryan Bird, 31, said he wrote the comment about Hawley -- head of the Transportation Security Administration -- as a political statement. He said he feels the TSA is imposing unreasonable rules on passengers while ignoring bigger threats.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:16 PM

Glorious Fall Day

Twin Lakes Nordic Lodge.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:37 PM

September 11, 2006

9/11 Legacy: Five Years, still Fears?

Flight International:
Almost five years after the World's single most bloody act of terrorism - when hijacked aircraft were flown into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon building - aviation was again last month at the centre of another terrorism scare.

This time, UK security services foiled an alleged plot to bomb transatlantic airliners. 9/11 changed history, prompting the invasion of Afghanistan and the continuing US 'War on Terror' that led to the ousting of Iraq's Saddam Hussain.

But what has the lasting legacy of the 2001 attacks been on aviation? The industry has recovered strongly after a two-year nadir, but US airlines are still feeling the effects. And what of aviation security? Are we ever going to be able to terror-proof air travel?
Mike Boyd has more:
This, we would submit is only the tip of a very obvious and well-known corrupt iceberg. Five years after 9/11, there are more holes in aviation security than an Arkansas stop sign during hunting season.

Truth Doesn't Really Matter, Apparently. We covered it in detail last week (go there), so there's no point in trying to review the range of really stupid news stories we'll see today - the ones generally with the headlines that imply, "Security Much Improved Since 9/11" or "Passengers Adjusting To New Security Measures" or a range of other examples of slapdash journalism.

As you're regaled today by push-piece media stories, outlining the great "improvements" in aviation security, just ask yourself the following:
as does IAG along with Jeevan Vasagar.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:53 AM

September 10, 2006

"Ban Carry-on Luggage"

NYT Editorial:
In a directive whose logic is not always apparent, the Transportation Security Administration has spelled out what airline passengers can carry on board with them, what must be placed in checked luggage, and what can’t go on the plane at all. Knives must be checked but knitting needles and corkscrews are allowed in the cabin. Up to four ounces of eye drops can be carried aboard, with fingers crossed that multiple terrorists won’t combine their allotments to exceed the limit. Laptops, digital cameras, mobile phones and other electronic devices are permitted, so never mind any warnings you’ve heard that they could be used to trigger a bomb. The bomb ingredients themselves, notably liquid explosives, will be kept out of the cabin by a ban on liquids, gels and lotions, except for small amounts of baby formula and medications.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:45 PM

September 4, 2006

A Gray Labor Day on State Street

A view from the Overture Center.

Sort of a quintessential Madison scene: A Volve, The Orpheum, Capitol, Bus Shelter and a chain restaurant.

Meanwhile, in Tibet.....

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:00 PM

September 3, 2006

Who Knew? Third Coast Surfing in Sheboygan

Sheboygan is the Capital of Freshwater Surfing because the county juts out 10 kilometres into Lake Michigan, meaning winds from most directions cause water to swell and form waves. It doesn't hurt that the Williams brothers constantly hype their Malibu of the Midwest.

"Lake Michigan is an inland ocean, it can create waves in excess of 24 feet (7.3 metres), two and a half stories, several times a year," said Larry Williams, pointing just down the 10-kilometre stretch of coastline. "North Point is now considered the Mount Everest of freshwater surfing. We had top California surfers come in here and they were backing off on a lot of waves.

"We get more waves than anybody else (on the Great Lakes), more quality waves, bigger waves, because where we're sitting, from North Point to North Pier, about a mile, it's really a deep bay and the waves sweep in."
Surfer Movie Endless Summer II visited Sheboygan some years ago.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:48 AM

August 26, 2006

Woodward Dream Cruise VR Scenes

Mark Houston:
For the 12th year, the Woodward Dream Cruise rumbles and squeals its way up Woodward Ave.

Featuring thousands of classic cars and hot rods. The Dream Cruise is a auto enthusiast dream, and a celebration of Michigan's long and important automotive history.
More here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:42 PM

August 19, 2006

Casting a Net for Better Airfares

Dave Demerjian:
You board your flight to Chicago, $600 ticket in hand, and do a quick survey of the people sitting around you. Turns out 13D paid only $300 for her flight, while 14E shelled out nearly $1,000 for his. It's a reality of air travel that infuriates passengers, but now several new travel websites are promising to demystify the seemingly nonsensical world of airline ticket pricing.

It was exasperation with existing online travel tools that led Robert Metcalf to develop flyspy, a site currently in alpha mode using fare data from Northwest Airlines.

"I once spent six hours combing through different websites," says Metcalf, who wanted to see how prices changed if he flew into a different airport or adjusted his travel dates and length of stay. "I ended up compiling all the data I gathered into an Excel spreadsheet, and started wondering why there wasn't a site that provides this kind of functionality."
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:17 AM

August 14, 2006

Midwest Airlines Expansion Plans

Steve Lott:
Midwest Airlines in the coming months will make several significant fleet decisions that will guide the carrier through a planned network and schedule expansion. This marks a significant turnaround for the airline, which barely averted bankruptcy three years ago.

Since its 1984 launch, Midwest was always known for its product and service, which was better than many of its larger competitors. The airline won praise from business travelers for its all-first-class seating and a full meal service, even on many of the shorter flights. Following the post-9/11 crisis, however, Midwest quickly realized that its product alone would no longer bring in the revenue premium it once received.

The carrier stumbled for several years but was able to win labor concessions and relief from aircraft lessors during the summer of 2003 that kept the carrier out of bankruptcy court. That same year, after facing a barrage of competition from low-cost carriers, Midwest diverged from its original strategy by adding seats to its MD-80 fleet and targeting leisure passengers with a new "saver service." The carrier kept its Boeing 717 fleet in the traditional all-first-class "signature service."
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:10 AM

August 13, 2006

Changing the Air Travel Story

Seth Godin:

Over the last five years, security measures have gradually eroded the way people feel about commercial air travel. Today's events (“imminent” mid-air bomb plot disrupted) and the government's reaction to them will, in my opinion, mark the tipping point for an enormous amount of business travel by commercial air.

I'm delighted that the talented and brave investigators foiled this plot, and I'm saddened that we live in a world where something like this could even happen... the fact remains, though, that a key element of our lives has been changed, perhaps forever.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:56 AM

August 8, 2006

Sharing Resources Worldwide

It is our mission to make surplus and recycled medical supplies, durable medical equipment and related items/activities available to needy populations around the world in order to improve the health and quality of life of the recipients and to empower the recipients to live with increased dignity, independence, and hope.

This is how we Recycle Resources and Restore Hope... Around the world.....
Great local group.
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:43 PM

July 20, 2006

Storm Photos

A few recent storm photos:New Mexico


More here and here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:15 PM

Stressed Air Travel System?

Flying around recently, amid full planes, high fuel prices, employees who have endured some tough years and challenging weather, it seems to me that the airlines, while trying very hard to make money, are really stretching their employees and systems. Juggling planes and tickets amid cancellations and delays one night, I ended up on a 777. Passengers boarded the full flight, were instructed to close the overhead bins and buckle up. Minutes before departure, the steward announced that there were no pilots. They would be arriving in 45 minutes and we were free to get off the plane..... The steward, when asked, mentioned that they just found out about this (no pilots! - seems odd in 2006 that they were not aware that the pilots were not around, what with elaborate crew and equipment management software). I grabbed my bags and ran over to my prior, delayed flight, swapped tickets and was later on my way.

This, and other recent examples make me wonder how far the airlines can push their systems and people.... I also noticed a number of rather rude passengers along with some great, hard working airline employees.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:06 PM

July 16, 2006

Southwest Utah Trip: Zion National Park [N 37 13.027' W 112 58.064']

More photos here. [N 37 13.027' W 112 58.064']
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:22 PM

Southwest Utah Trip: Bryce Canyon National Park [N 37 36.249' W 112 09.396']

Many more photos here. [N 37 36.249' W 112 09.396']
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:03 PM

July 5, 2006

Vilas Park

Vilas Park.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:02 PM

Wednesday Evening Concerts on the Square Scenes

This week's concerts on the square featured a beautiful evening for the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra - somewhat of a contrast to last week's threatening skies.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:57 PM

Fireworks VR Scene on the National Mall

Abigail Pheiffer.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:05 AM

July 1, 2006

A View Near the Kiva Koffeehouse N 37 46.332' W 111 25.022'

Kiva Koffeehouse.
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:40 PM

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument & Grovsner Arch N 37 27.267' W 111 49.969'

More photos here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:20 PM

June 28, 2006

Southwest Utah: Hell's Backbone Bridge

An "exciting, backroad, scenic adventure". Well worth the trip. Learn more about Hell's Backbone bridge.

I posted additional photos here.

N 37 57.984 W 111 35.638
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:41 PM

June 25, 2006

Southwest Utah Trip: Lower Calf Creek Canyon Hike

Photos and Links

N˚ 37 47.618' W˚ 111 24.896'
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:56 AM

June 23, 2006


The Economist:
Happy 20th birthday to our Big Mac index.

WHEN our economics editor invented the Big Mac index in 1986 as a light-hearted introduction to exchange-rate theory, little did she think that 20 years later she would still be munching her way, a little less sylph-like, around the world. As burgernomics enters its third decade, the Big Mac index is widely used and abused around the globe. It is time to take stock of what burgers do and do not tell you about exchange rates.

The Economist's Big Mac index is based on one of the oldest concepts in international economics: the theory of purchasing-power parity (PPP), which argues that in the long run, exchange rates should move towards levels that would equalise the prices of an identical basket of goods and services in any two countries. Our “basket” is a McDonald's Big Mac, produced in around 120 countries. The Big Mac PPP is the exchange rate that would leave burgers costing the same in America as elsewhere. Thus a Big Mac in China costs 10.5 yuan, against an average price in four American cities of $3.10 (see the first column of the table). To make the two prices equal would require an exchange rate of 3.39 yuan to the dollar, compared with a market rate of 8.03. In other words, the yuan is 58% “undervalued” against the dollar. To put it another way, converted into dollars at market rates the Chinese burger is the cheapest in the table.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:48 PM

June 18, 2006

Boulder, Utah Photos

More photos from our recent journey. This time, the Boulder, Utah area:

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:53 PM

June 17, 2006

Capitol Reef National Park Photos

I've posted some photos from our recent visit to Utah's Capitol Reef National Park here.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:43 PM

June 15, 2006

The Road Not Taken

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:12 PM

June 13, 2006

Capitol Reef National Park


Check out all the photos here.

Posted by James Zellmer at 3:52 PM

June 12, 2006

Aviation Security Perspectives

Mike Boyd:
CHICAGO -- A U.S. air marshal removed himself from a Southwest Airlines flight Thursday after dropping a clip of bullets on the floor just before the plane was to take off, an airline spokeswoman said..."Since he was no longer traveling incognito, he decided not to continue on the flight, ... He picked the bullets up immediately."
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:21 PM

June 6, 2006

Eyes in the West Are on Federal Land Sale

Julie Cart:
Its mild climate, stunning scenery and proximity to several national parks have helped make Washington County one of the five fastest-growing counties in the nation. But like many rural Western counties, it has little room to expand: 87% of its land is owned by the federal government.

Now, Utah's congressional delegation has a plan to remedy the problem, one that is being closely watched by nearly a dozen Western counties with similar growing pains. The plan is also being scrutinized by conservationists who warn that it would set a dangerous precedent, making thousands of acres of public land available for private development as well as offering a windfall for local agencies and special deals for politically influential officials and property owners.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:25 PM

Lower Calf Creek Waterfall

N37˚ 49.753' W 111˚ 25.291'

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:42 AM

June 2, 2006

North Rim, Grand Canyon: California Condor

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:37 AM

May 31, 2006

Hickman Bridge

N 38˚ 17.470' W 111˚ 14.004'
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:49 PM

May 30, 2006


N 37˚ 12.723 W 112˚ 57.632

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:54 PM

May 28, 2006

"There's Very Little Happening Here"

N 37˚ 54.132 W 111˚ 25.411
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:01 PM

Bryce Sunrise

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:00 PM

May 18, 2006

A Speedy Visit to the "Honda Powered" Indy 500

I recently had an opportunity to briefly visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (home of the Memorial Day weekend Indy 500 [satellite view]) while the teams were practicing. A surprisingly large crowd was on hand to watch the drivers, mechanics and managers test their vehicles, systems and methods. Many, but not all teams had quite a number of computer operators keeping an eye on all aspects of their cars.

There's not much of that at the Speedway, but when it does occur - only a split second - it is jarring.

Danica Patrick easily grabbed most of the crowd's attention. A group of fans and photographers never left her team's side. More photos here.

You did read that right. Honda powers all of the cars in this year's race. Evidently Honda has dominated recently and the teams coalesced on their engine this year.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:21 PM

May 10, 2006

A Day in the Life of US Air Traffic Control

NASA, via Edward Tufte.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:46 AM

May 7, 2006

Pull Over Harley, Looks like Honda's on Your Tail

Michael Taylor:
n fact, police in the United States have been using motorcycles since about 1912 when the nascent Harley-Davidson Co. started outfitting a few departments with them. The cycles turned out to be a godsend for traffic enforcement -- they could chase speeders through traffic, and they could get to the scene of an accident far faster than a patrol car. This basic principle still holds true.

For nearly 100 years, Harley has dominated the U.S. market -- the company said last year that its motorcycles "are presently in service with some 2,800 law enforcement agencies nationwide."

Now, however, Honda, the world's most successful maker of motorcycles, is testing the law enforcement waters here. Honda has the largest share of the U.S. civilian motorcycle market, with 26.9 percent of all new bikes sold in the United States, followed by Harley with 23.7 percent and then a handful of other manufacturers, according to figures for 2004 provided by the Motorcycle Industry Council.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:05 PM

May 6, 2006

Lake Geneva Update

Leslie Levine:
THE casual atmosphere and laid-back state of mind are what Mike Moses finds most appealing about Lake Geneva, a popular weekend destination in southeastern Wisconsin, about 80 miles from Chicago.

Sitting in Chuck's, a popular gathering place in nearby Fontana, Mr. Moses, a Chicago accountant, noticed a $200,000 Lamborghini parked next to a beat-up old Jeep. "The beauty of Lake Geneva is that no one could've guessed the driver of the more expensive car," said Mr. Moses, who bought a two-bedroom 1937 Cape Cod cottage in Lake Geneva two years ago. "Everyone's wearing jeans and sweatshirts. No one is flashing their wealth."
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:51 PM

May 3, 2006

Vail at the Crossroads

Nancy and I skied Vail years ago. It is a great mountain, but the term "village" really doesn't apply any longer. Jared Jacang Maher asks if they must tear down a local landmark to save it. There's been no shortage of controversy, including the defeat of two council members:
Crossroads not only stands at one of the town's most prominent intersections, it's a convergence point for wealth, power and mountain-sized egos, for small-town politics with big-city politicking. The official arguments may focus on topics like height and zoning, but citizens on both sides of the debate see the struggle as more epic, as a fight between Vail's old-time founders and its younger newcomers for what the town is and what it should become. Emotions are high, and the stakes are huge. Because despite its theme-park attributes, Vail is a real place, with real residents who live and work here, who are born and die here, and who love and hate each others' guts -- all within town limits.

Like the facades of many of Vail's early buildings, Crossroads is faded and cracked after decades of exposure to sunlight and snow. Built in 1969 on the East Meadow Drive corridor, the 60,000-square-foot, horseshoe-shaped complex wraps around a parking lot with three stories of condos sitting above a ground floor of retail. The two biggest tenants -- Clark's Market and the Crossroads Cinema -- both pulled out last month, citing slow business and deteriorating facilities.
Reminds me a bit of the local Whole Foods / Hilldale / Sentry Foods battle.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:03 PM

May 1, 2006

Gorgeous Evening Paris VR Scene

Check it out. Via Virginia Postrel.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:47 PM

April 24, 2006

Microjets: Eclipse 500 Certification

Joseph Anselmo:
an a former copy machine repairman who happens to be friends with Bill Gates reinvigorate the general aviation industry by adopting the low-cost, mass production model used for personal computers? The world is about to find out.

Not long ago, it appeared the answer was a resounding "no." Eclipse Aviation founder Vern Raburn gathered his team on a dismal Saturday morning in November 2002 to figure out whether the company had a future. Raburn, a pioneer in the personal computer revolution, was aiming to develop a six-seat jet that would sell for less than $1 million, bringing jet ownership within reach of thousands of new customers. But his penchant for risk had put Eclipse in big trouble.

The Albuquerque company, with funding support from NASA, had bet big on the development of an advanced, radically cheaper turbine engine. The technology wasn't panning out in time, however, and there was no Plan B. Investors, lured by Raburn's earlier successes at Microsoft, Lotus and Symantec, were running out of patience. Eclipse had two options: stick with the balky engine and pray for a miracle, or delay launch of the aircraft by several years and try to hang on while it found a new engine.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:21 AM

March 18, 2006

A Delightful Few Days Skiing at Wisconsin's Whitecap Mountains

A March visit to Whitecap Mountain

Spring break 2006 presented an opportunity to check out a ski area that was within a reasonable distance (avoid flights) and promised a decent amount of snow. I surfed the web last week seeking such a destination and found Whitecap, a resort that Ski Magazine has posted favorable words on the years. Those reviews, along with a very attractive package ($199 per person for 3 nights, 3 day lift tickets, 2 dinners, 3 breakfast meals, rentals and a one hour daily group lesson) sealed the deal.

Whitecap is an easy four hour drive north from Madison. We arrived just as crews were clearing snow from last weekend's 20 to 30" storm - creating great midwest conditions for our visit. Whitecap's founder: Dave (an amazingly active guy), mentioned in between bulldozing snow, grooming trails, cleaning rooms, helping with the lifts and feeding wood to lodge fireplaces that a number of cars were stuck during the storm (see photo) and the resort lost power for a short period of time.

Our package include a room in the Whitecap Lodge. This facility provides very convenient ski in/ski out access, nearby parking, a large hot tub and indoor heated pool. The only downside to the lodging was the smoking rooms nearby (be sure to request non-smoking if that is important to you). Perhaps living in Madison has made it far too uncommon to encounter a smoking facility. I was surprised at the number of smoker skiers. The rooms had plenty of hot water for a decent shower. Some include a kitchenette while others feature a microwave and small refrigerator.

Whitecap's 43 trails provide a great deal of variety, from wide, well groomed slopes for beginners to some quite challenging (viewed from a chair lift) double black diamonds. The requisite bunny hill is available for newby's. They also offer a tiny slope with a "magic carpet" for those just starting out. The other extreme, at least from a view perspective is the double chairlift that goes up Eagles Nest Mountain and continues, if you'd like, over a valley to the top of Thunder Mountain.

There was never a wait at the chairlifts and whitecap provides plenty of terrain to keep one busy for several days.

Links & Commentary
Go Ski's discussion board has some useful comments.

Bill Semion took a look at Whitecap's new trails a few months ago.

I've posted some additional photos below.

Dave takes pride in his family oriented destination, as well he should. There's also a golf course for summer fun.

Posted by James Zellmer at 11:50 AM

March 6, 2006

Taos Ski Valley

Lisa Reed:
I'm here for the famous Taos ridge, which offers some of the most difficult, unspoiled terrain in any ski area in the country. The ridge is double-black-diamond terrain accessible only by foot; to get there, skiers must take lift No. 2 to its highest point, take off their skis and hike up a steep trail to the top. Because of the hiking and the double black diamonds, skiing the ridge has a hard-core cachet.

Not that I'm all that great a skier. But Taos's "learn to ski better week" is about to change that, with a immersion program at its much-praised ski school. When you sign up for the "learn to ski better" program, you are assigned to a group at your level (there are many levels; "expert" alone has 10 different gradations, with the highest one being professional, and then ski every morning, Sunday to Friday. You're on your own in the afternoon to practice what you've learned.

I came here last January to learn to ski better, and to ski terrain that was fun and challenging for me. Here is what I was not here to do: ski tedious blue runs just to keep a friend company; squabble about whether to stop for lunch; spend two hours looking for my missing nephew. These things tend to happen when you ski with friends and family. Inevitably, people have different skill levels. Last time I was at Taos, I went with five friends and family members. We skied together the first hour of the first day and then broke apart. No two of us were at the same level.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:44 PM

March 5, 2006

A Pleasant Saturday Morning at Tyrol Basin

I've been avoiding trips to local ski areas from many years. The AA tag on my ski bag tells the story. The last time the bag was used was a flight from Albuquerque to Dallas - our last pre-children ski trip. The ski bag, along with my boot bag made the journey from Dallas to Madison in 1993.

Living in a four season climate, my recreation thoughts have generally drifted toward warm weather vacations. However, and perhaps giving in to the inevitable, I put my fun but evidently outmoded skis (purchased at Denver's Gart Brothers during my days there) in the car and made the short drive to Tyrol Basin early Saturday morning.

A glorious, sunny day, there were perhaps 15 cars in the lot as we walked toward the ticket office. The temperature and conditions were quite good, with only a bit of ice detected here and there.

Moments later, standing on top of the basin, I enjoyed the view and thought that it was quite pleasant to be within an hour's drive of this place.

While checking out the basin's runs - all except the moguls, my thoughts turned to:

  • Training:
    I saw two (surprising) examples of skiers evidently losing control and requiring ski patrol assistance. Years ago, when I learned to ski in a more serious way (via a Swiss instructor at Loveland), he advised that I take a lesson at the beginning of each ski season. I think this is correct - and I spent a bit of time on Tyrol's bunny hill last weekend, regaining my alpine perspective.
  • The Road Not Taken:
    Like Frost, I prefer the less travelled and popular routes. Tyrol makes it easy to turn right off the main lift and ski down toward another lift, where very few people where skiing (moguls - not for me, but the black and blue runs were enjoyable). I chose this route quite a few times and very much enjoyed the views, serenity and a rather quiet late morning outing.
  • Safety:
    There's quite a bit more safety enhancements than I recall. A large, orange plastic fence now greets the skier as she turns off the triple chair. An out of control skier will be caught in this, rather than careening down the hill.
  • The rise of snowboarding:
    Just starting to take off when I last skied, snowboarding is big time, today. I can see the friction between traditional alpine downhillers and snowboarders.
  • Variety:
    Snowboarders, downhillers and telemark skiers mingled reasonably well at Tyrol. It's great to see a few telemark folks sliding downhill.
Finally, my eldest added these notes:
You are weird skiing is odd and my lower back is sore!!!!! Overall it was a fun experience, and I would love to go more often next year!!! Thank you Nora for teaching me!!
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:01 PM

March 2, 2006

Bali VR Scenes

Well worth it on a rather cold Madison evening.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:22 PM

February 8, 2006

Fossett Flying Farther

Steve Fossett is aloft, again in the Global Flyer. This time, flying farther. Follow the flight here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:54 PM

February 6, 2006

ACC Shorts Crash

So why do we keep track (from time to time) of ACC? We like ACC because it's an example of good ole American homegrown ingenuity. ACC's aircraft are Shorts 330s and Shorts 360s, which were once commuter passenger aircraft. Shorts was once an independent aircraft manufacturer based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, now no longer building aircraft but instead a parts-manufacturing division of Bombardier. The Shorts factory is at Belfast City Airport, which in recent years has taken an increasing share of traffic into that city (versus Belfast International).
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:42 PM

February 1, 2006

Interview with Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly

In the first installment of our new segment "Conversations from the Corner Office," Kai talks with Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly about building a corporate culture, and why the customer isn't necessarily always right.
Southwest continues to have a market cap greater than all of the other airlines, combined. Perhaps, one day, they will serve Madison.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:36 PM

January 30, 2006

The Chocolate Bomber

John Tagliabue:
Every three weeks, a FedEx flight departs Zaventem Airport on the edge of Brussels carrying Michel Boey's products to the United States. Call it the chocolate bomber.

"It is exactly as in wine," he said, receiving a visitor amid heavy aromas of dark chocolate. "Once, wine was wine. Now we appreciate smaller quantities, but the quality is better."
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:22 PM

January 26, 2006

Beautiful Photos from China

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:16 PM

Man Behind the 747 Tells His Story

James Wallace:
Sutter, white-haired and soon to be 85 but still razor-sharp, has finally told his life's story, and that of the 747, in a book with aviation writer Jay Spenser.

"747: Creating the World's First Jumbo Jet and Other Adventures from a Life in Aviation," won't hit book stores until May. But last week I received an advance copy from the publisher, Smithsonian Books.
via enplaned.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:06 AM

January 25, 2006

World in Motion VR Scenes

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:14 PM

January 14, 2006

World Snowmobile Racing Championships - Eagle River

Joe Drape:
But the wintertime blues disappeared Friday night, Day 2 of the 43rd annual World Championship Snowmobile Derby, which residents herald as the Indianapolis 500 of snowmobile racing.

Jimmy Blaze followed a fireworks display, which opened Friday Night Thunder, by defying physics and doing a back flip on a snowmobile to the whoops and mitten-muffled applause of the 10,000 people who crammed on a snow-covered hill at Eagle River Derby Track. The temperature had dropped to 25; the wind chill made it feel like 11 and a steady snow fell.

Hundreds of the young men and women in parkas bearing the logos of their favorite sled manufacturers, like Polaris and Arctic Cat, arrived by snowmobile. Families, too, planted camping chairs in the white bowl, but while mothers and fathers watched the racers hit 100 miles an hour on the track's icy oval, their snowsuit-bundled children found a steeper hill for body-sledding.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:24 PM

January 5, 2006

Northwest's Pilot Scope Clause Contract Negotiations

Sort of an abstract issue, but relevant for Madison, particularly with the growth of 50 to 100 seat aircraft in and out of Madison


Interesting look at labor issues for Madison's #1 air carrier:

Northwest's scope clause is, in fact, particularly onerous relative to scope clauses at other major airlines. United, Delta, American & US Airways can outsource (to regional airlines) aircraft up to at least 70 seats (US Airways can even outsource some aircraft of 86 seats). Continental's limit is 59 seats, but can do a virtually unlimited number of those.

The issue at Northwest is particularly acute because Northwest flies smaller mainline aircraft than any other major airline. Northwest itself flies over 100 DC-9s (photo above). These geriatric aircraft (many of them over 30 years old or more) have just over 100 seats. Click here for further DC-9 data.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:30 AM

January 4, 2006

Boyd's 2006 Aviation Forecast

Mike Boyd posts some useful reading for any serious air traveller.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:39 PM

January 3, 2006

New Year's Eve Panoramas

Hans posts some fabulous panoramas from around the world
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:00 PM

January 1, 2006

2005 World Wide Panorama

Panoramic photography around the world. Well worth visiting.
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:21 PM

December 26, 2005

Paris Secrets

Susan Spano passes along some tips for those traveling to Paris including a cooking supply store that Julie Child visited and a rather expensive hotel.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:55 AM

December 25, 2005

E-170/190: A bit more comfort for small(er) city air travel

The United Express E-170 was a rather pleasant surprise. I flew this 70 seat jet several times recently and found that I could:

  • Stand Up Straight (impossible in some of the smaller 50 seat jets)
  • Get some work done
  • Walk a bit
Jetblue has ordered a bunch of the slighter larger E-190's. We'll see more of these, likely direct to Madison.

One of the worst travel experiences of the past year was a 3 hop flight to the west coast (including a business stop in the middle) on a 50 seat jet. Rather cramped....

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:35 PM

The Lives We Live

Changing planes at O'hare recently, I stood next to an early 20's woman trying to fly standby to Dayton, Ohio. I discovered that she structured work to support her travel wants.

My fellow traveller said that she joined the Air Force out of High School to "see the world". The Air Force promptly sent her to Dayton, Ohio for the length of her tour. Now in the AF reserves, she works part time for United Airlines loading bags at the Dayton Airport and for the local Marriott hotel (also part time). These jobs provide incredible travel benefits - unless one cannot obtain a timely seat.

The recent fruits of her work?
  • 7 Days skiing in Switzerland while staying at a local Marriott.
  • A few days on Oahu, again at a Marriott
  • Hong Kong, checking out that city's Marriott
I assume these benefits make up for the cold nights loading bags on to 737's at DAY.

Merry Christmas!

Barry Ritholtz says stuff doesn't make us happy.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:23 AM

December 19, 2005

Top Ten 2005 National Geographic News Videos

National Geographic News:
Killer hurricanes, swarming sharks, and wildlife fighting for survival headlined this year's most popular videos from National Geographic News. Replay the year in science, nature, and exploration with 2005's top ten videos.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:02 AM

December 8, 2005

Air Travel: The Battle over the Wright Amendment

Virginia Postrel nicely summarizes the battle over the Wright Amendment which limits air travel from Dallas's Love field:
Schnurman's tough-minded coverage of the issue demonstrates the great virtues of distant newspaper owners. His paper is owned by Knight Ridder, which isn't entangled in local crony capitalism. The Dallas Morning News by contrast seems terrified to even voice an opinion on the issue. (And I'm not just annoyed that they turned down this piece on the grounds that they'd already run too much on the topic. In fact, I'm delighted. D Magazine paid me twice the DMN's rate, and I like them better anyway.)

Viewed up close, the whole Wright discussion demonstrates the wisdom of my old boss Bob Poole, who has spent at least two decades arguing for airport privatization. Locally, the only thing any politico seems to care about is what's good for DFW Airport and, secondarily, for the airlines. The traveling public doesn't count--either in the political equation (too diffuse) or, apparently, in airport management. Anyone who's had the misfortune of traveling through DFW knows that, with the exception of its new Terminal D, it's hardly a comfortable or accommodating place. Neither does it seem to maximize revenue. No mall developer would use space so pathetically.
The article is also an interesting look at the "devils bargain" that sometimes occurs between politicians and the mainstream media.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:46 PM

November 23, 2005

Madison, From the Air

I took this photo from a recent Canadair CL-65 Chicago - Madison flight. Doc Searls posted a high altitude view from a BOS - SFO 757 flight.

Posted by James Zellmer at 4:22 PM

November 9, 2005

Midwest Foliage Information

The Foliage Network provides "accurate foliage information for various locations across the United States. During the months of September, October, and November, The Foliage Network collects data from our foliage spotters twice a week".
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:52 AM

November 5, 2005

The Rise and Fall of Regional Jets

Living in Madison conditions the frequent traveller to the unpleasant experience of flying in regional jets. The 30 to 70 seaters are rather cramped with minimal luggage space. Having said that, their airspeeds are in the same league as the big jets. The Boyd Group points out that Canadair recently announced the end of 50 seat CRJ production, an aircraft frequently seen at MSN. Boyd points out that the market is changing, back toward turboprops and larger 70 to 90 seat jets. Gary has more.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

October 22, 2005

The Way to Mt. Fuji

Toshio Fuji published a gorgeous VR journey: The way to Mt. Fuji. Quicktime VR

Posted by James Zellmer at 3:36 PM

October 21, 2005

God's Glory: Southwest Fall Colors on The High Road to Taos

More on the High Road to Taos here. Sort of related: Doc posts some great aerial shots over the Sierra Nevada (I agree with his perspective on the landscape).
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:03 AM

October 9, 2005

Hut to Hut Ride

Washington Post:
Hut System's seven-day, 206-mile route from Telluride to Moab, Utah, is almost completely on USDA Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management roads, unpaved but well-maintained. Each segment averages about 35 miles a day. The route is not technically difficult (there are a few glorious stretches of single track available as optional routes), but you must be in decent shape to handle more than 16,000 feet of ascents at an average altitude of 9,000 feet. (The company offers a Durango-to-Moab route that is even more challenging.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:55 PM

October 6, 2005

Travel Podcasts via Lonely Planet

The usually excellent (though some of their latest books make me wonder) Lonely Planet has launched travel podcasts. Fabulous!

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:09 PM

September 25, 2005

Country Collectors

John Flinn:
The fact that news of this probably has never reached you attests to what an impossibly distant and godforsaken place Bouvet Island is. Only a few dozen humans have ever left their footprints on it, and it's a safe bet most of them would happily have passed on the honor.

But there is a small and obsessive group of people scheming, plotting, cajoling and ultimately trying to buy their way there. They are known as country collectors, and they spend their lifetimes journeying to the farthest and most obscure reaches of the globe, from Abkhazia to Umm Al Qaiwain, filling their passports with rare and exotic stamps. Bouvet Island is to them what Everest is to peak baggers, what the British Guiana 1c magenta is to philatelists, what the Apple Tree Girl 141X is to collectors of Hummel figurines.

Only a tiny handful of country collectors -- precisely eight by one estimate, "not quite 20" by another -- have ever managed to cross Bouvet off their lists. The most recent is a 40-year-old dot-com millionaire from San Francisco, Charles Veley, and he believes this, along with all his other peregrinations, qualifies him as the most well-traveled person in the history of the world.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:35 AM

September 20, 2005

Airline Bankruptcies

The Boyd Group:

Their problems were that they got caught in the headlights by fuel prices that went up a lot faster than they could adjust to quickly. True, both were in the process of getting their labor costs down - something that American, Continental, and United have already done. When jet-A went to over $2 a gallon, the immediate need was to conserve cash while labor and other cost reductions were achieved.

Lots of "experts" go into diatribes about how these legacy carriers have unsupportable cost structures and route systems, dating from the days of regulation in the 1970s. Sounds great, but it is more nonsense. It's missed by these grand prognosticators - most of whom have never worked within the airline industry - that if oil had stayed right where it was at the beginning of last year, as most of us expected, these filings would not have taken place.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

September 17, 2005

Ansel Adams' Autumn Moon Arrives

Ben Margot:
As the moon rose in the evening sky, a crowd gathered at Glacier Point to relive an iconic scene captured by photographer Ansel Adams more than 50 years ago.

About 300 amateur photographers, astronomers and other spectators came Thursday to watch conditions align to repeat the scene in the famous Adams image "Autumn Moon."

Astronomers nailed down the exact time and date that Adams snapped the photograph in Yosemite National Park in 1948 — and determined that the sun and moon would return to the same positions Thursday.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:21 AM

September 12, 2005

Road Trips: Dylan & Bono on Minnesota's Highway 61

Steve Dougherty:

Back on the highway, Doc and I followed the Mississippi as it curved wide and muddy between skyscraping bluffs sculptured by glaciers and smoothed by wind and water. We passed through Wabasha, where posters remind visitors that the town was the setting for the "Grumpy Old Men" films and the National Eagle Center offers tips for birders who flock to the surrounding bluffs to watch bald eagles make their seasonal migrations.

At Lake City, where the Mississippi widens into Lake Pepin, strollers on a two-mile riverfront walkway can look out upon waters where an 18-year-old Ralph W. Samuelson is said to have "discovered" the sport of water skiing in 1922.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

September 10, 2005

New Orleans Photos

I last spent time in New Orleans in 2002 with several previous visits in the '90's. The place was in many ways beautiful, but I could always sense tension in the city. I've posted some photos from this visit here. A more recent set of photos, Five days with Katrina provides quite a contrast with my 2002 digital images.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:29 PM

September 6, 2005

We bid adieu to the Summer of 2005

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

September 5, 2005

Another Glorious Wisconsin Weekend

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

August 28, 2005

One of my Favorite Places: Mendocino, CA

Cindy Loose:

The Road North from San Francisco to Mendocino Is Just Like Big Sur, Only Better

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

August 26, 2005

The Road Not Taken

Sometimes, it pays to leave the Interstate for the Road Not Taken. Pennsylvania's Lancaster County is well worth a visit. Life does not have to move at 100Mbps... Satellite view.

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:15 AM

August 22, 2005

Northwest Machinist Strike: Well Laid Plans Kept Their Planes Flying

Micheline Maynard:
Over the last 18 months, the airline analyzed every job represented by the mechanics' union at every airport and calculated the skills required to fix each of its planes. It then decided how many of those workers it actually needed and what kind of replacements it would require in the event of a strike.

Some differences between the airline's old and new approaches began to appear.

Before the strike, union rules specified that only members of the mechanics' union, known as AMFA, could deliver planes to airport gates. But on Saturday, the pilot of a Northwest 757 in Detroit, upon discovering his plane was not ready, hopped into a pickup truck and went to the hangar to fetch his plane, rather than keep crew and passengers waiting, airline officials said.

Meanwhile, members of the machinists' union, which usually handles tasks like baggage handling and customer service, took on the task of cleaning Northwest's cabins between flights at its hubs here and in Minneapolis, a job that was previously done by the mechanics' union.
Northwest is the Dane County Regional Airport's (Still without WiFi!) largest airline. More.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:40 PM

August 18, 2005

One More Ephraim (Door County) Sunset Photo

Click to view a larger version.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:12 PM

August 15, 2005

An Ephraim Sunset

Here's a larger version of this Door County, WI sunset photo. Satellite view.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

Door County Breakfast? Think a bit different at Good Eggs in Ephraim

The general temptation when considering breakfast out in Door County is to visit one of many restaurants, including Sister Bay's Al Johnson's and the Sister Bay Cafe across the street. Just this once, resist and drive over to Ephraim where Good Eggs is literally whipping up egg wraps. These wraps, which can include bean salsa, mushrooms, peppers, cheese, onions, potatoes and chicken are simply delicious. This is rather high praise coming from someone who does not eat eggs. Check out these photos (click for larger versions) and stop.


Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

August 11, 2005

Northwest Goes after the Small Airlines with Non-Stops to Las Vegas

Northwest Airlines, Madison's largest air carrier, announced new non-stop service to Las Vegas yesterday. This service competes with an existing non-stop route flown by Allegiant Airlines. The major airlines have often used this tactic to drive low fare competitors from the market. Northwest flies several non-stop routes from Milwaukee that compete with local favorite Midwest Airlines. These flights are unusual in that they do not require connections on NW's Minneapolis, Detroit or Memphis fortress hubs.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:04 PM

July 31, 2005

Innovation, Burt Rutan and EAA's Airventure: "We bought the engines on ebay"

20MB Quicktime Video
SpaceshipOne/White Knight, making it's way east to the Smithsonian, flew during Saturday's EAA Airventure Air Show. I captured a 20MB video clip of several passes along with SpaceshipOne's landing. You'll hear designer Burt Rutan address the crowd during the aircraft's flight, using "Military Power". Enjoy! Rutan also mentioned that the aircraft would make one more stop at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio before reaching it's final destination; the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. the video is a bit jerky at the beginning, but my handheld technique improves after a few seconds :)
Earlier this week, Rutan and Richard Branson announced a joint venture to form a new aerospace production company to build a fleet of commercial sub-orbital spaceships and launch aircraft.

I'll post more photos and videos over the next few days.
John Robb has been pushing for the government to support, in a big way, competitive private space initiatives ala the X-Prize rather than spending $3.2B annually on 1970's technology - the shuttle. Robb also mentions how "big buck programs are a source of power in the Pentagon". Robb has more ideas on the Government's role in all of this and makes a rather startling but true statement:
Unfortunately, it is only a matter of time (short) before the shuttle program is done in due to a failure (hopefully, not on this mission's recovery). After that happens, this is all we have.
More Videos: Marine AV8-B Harrier VSTOL | B-17 Takeoff. My father took a number of photos earlier this week.

More photos here (click to view larger versions):
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

July 18, 2005

Fossett Crosses the Atlantic in a Vickers Vimy

Financier and adventurer Steve Fossett flew a replica of the first airplane to travel nonstop across the Atlantic recently. Aviation Week:
Pilot Steve Fossett and navigator Mark Rebholz took off from St. John's, Newfoundland, on July 2 at about 7 p.m. in fog, heavy cloud cover and strong winds. They had a good tailwind until midway and made most of the trip under cloud cover, not seeing the Sun until about the last 5 hr.

Fossett and Rebholz expected the crossing to be completed by 4-5 p.m. the next day and, in fact, landed at 5:05 p.m. Irish time, setting down safely at the eighth hole of Connemara golf course. That was a slightly better result than the original June 14-15, 1919, crossing by Royal Flying Corps pilot Capt. John Alcock and navigator Lt. Arthur Whitten Brown. They ended up nose-down on soft ground after a 16-hr. crossing that included an ice storm.
More on Fossett
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:16 AM

Lessons in The Art of Travel

Tim Moore:
I always go straight to the nearest supermarket, to find out what the locals actually eat and drink, rather than what the guidebooks say they do. Essential for making informed restaurant decisions later, and a dependable entertainment in itself: there's always some arresting indigenous twist on a theme, such as lobster-flavoured Walkers crisps, and you can usually count on spotting the likes of Frische Dickmilche or Fockink Anis on the shelves.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:08 AM

July 16, 2005

Bold Air: Wisonsin Air Taxi Service

Kathleen Gallagher:

Radlinger's vision is that business travelers would be able to pull up 15 minutes before departure at a smaller airport such as Timmerman Field, West Bend or Waukesha's Crites Field, hop aboard a plane aRadlinger's vision is that business travelers would be able to pull up 15 minutes before departure at a smaller airport such as Timmerman Field, West Bend or Waukesha's Crites Field, hop aboard a plane and take off, making their total trip not much longer than the actual flying time.

"People are tired of the inefficient, cattle-call mentality of commercial and low-cost carriers, the lack of service and the inability to fly direct to a destination," said Radlinger, executive vice president of Bold Air, which has headquarters in downtown Milwaukee. "If they can get where they're going faster and in comfort, at a price competitive with what they're currently paying, that's a no-brainer."

Bold Air would likely charge about the same or slightly more than the commercial fare on a route, Radlinger said. He hopes to begin offering flights by the second quarter of 2006.nd take off, making their total trip not much longer than the actual flying time.

"People are tired of the inefficient, cattle-call mentality of commercial and low-cost carriers, the lack of service and the inability to fly direct to a destination," said Radlinger, executive vice president of Bold Air, which has headquarters in downtown Milwaukee. "If they can get where they're going faster and in comfort, at a price competitive with what they're currently paying, that's a no-brainer."

Bold Air would likely charge about the same or slightly more than the commercial fare on a route, Radlinger said. He hopes to begin offering flights by the second quarter of 2006.

Bold Air, with it's non aircraft ownership approach is slightly different than the emerging "microjet" initiatives underway, including Dayjet as well as Pogo, among others.

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:09 AM

July 9, 2005

Monterey Bay: New Species Flashes Red, then Kills Prey

David Pearlman has more.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:20 PM

Gorgeous Western Australia Beach VR Scene - with a Dolphin

Peter Murphy shares a gorgeous Quicktime VR Scene from a beach Western Australia Beach, with a dolphin!
these dolphins btw are very curious about cameras and people and this one made its way slowly along the line of people half rolled on its side looking at everyone ... when it came near to me I put down my camera nearer the water to get a closeup view and it came closer ... and then spouted water thru its blowhole onto my (precious) lens! -- something they quite regularly do to cameras apparently (... but with a bit of cleaning it was ok)
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:19 PM

July 3, 2005

A Glorious Wisconsin Travel Weekend

The weather does not get much better than this. And, no mosquitoes.... Visiting or thinking about a local trip, travel Wisconsin is a useful site. These photos (click to view a larger version) are a quick reminder on this 4th of July weekend that we all have much to be thankful for.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

June 29, 2005

The Benefits of Southwest Airlines

Madison needs Southwest. Here's why:

Many of their fares are lower when
booked as a round trip, or a multi-leg, in advance. However, unlike almost all other airlines, all of their fares are either fully refundable, or you get a full credit. There is no penalty for canceling a "super dooper" low discount fare. As a result, most travelers on SW book round trips, and then do not use the return leg, or even a leg in the middle of the itinerary. However, irrespective of whether you turn up for any part of the trip, the first leg, or the last, your itinerary remains in place. When you're done with your trip, your unused portions are either refunded automatically, or sit as a credit to be used whenever you want.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:03 AM

June 16, 2005

Zawodny: The Big One?

Jeremy Zawodny wonders if the Big One is on the way.... I lived in San Francisco during the "pretty big one": Loma Prieta and posted a few recollections here, along with notes from AnchorBanker Brian Zimdars.

UPDATE: Chan Stroman emails:

I'm late to the party, but enjoyed reading your recollection of the '89 Loma Prieta. I was in the Russ Building on the bedrock side of Montgomery street when it hit--the building tipped back and forth solidly for what seemed like forever while we all ran to the stairwell. Later, we walked to a colleague's apartment on Telegraph Hill, and yes, the sunset that night was eerily beautiful. My husband was in the Macy's warehouse in South S.F. ("South City") and narrowly missed having some high shelves with heavy stuff crash down on his head. Back in our flat in the Sunset, other than a couple of framed pictures askew on the walls, nothing was damaged. Thanks to this experience, I'm permanently sensitized to quakes...and bolted straight up in bed here in Madison just about a year ago (epicenter Ottawa, Illinois) just about a year ago.
Visit Chan at www.bookishgardener.com (lots of interesting items, particularily the gardening posts).

Posted by James Zellmer at 5:40 PM

June 15, 2005

Northwest Airlines' Fortress Midwest Strategy

Susan Carey writes about Northwests' "catering to travelers between small and midsize cities in the Upper Midwest. This "heartland" gambit aims to keep fares higher and discourage discounters from flying there. .... Going one big step further, Northwest also has been expanding aggressively with nonstop flights between nonhub cities, so that more passengers don't have to make connections through one of its hubs when flying to some domestic cities."

This strategy has manifested itself with 50 seat jet non-stop flights between Madison and Washington's Reagan National Airport (though at inconvenient middle of the day times) and a variety of non-stops from cities like Milwaukee and Indianapolis to New York, Washington and other east coast destinations. This is also an attempt - futile, I think to kill Midwest Airlines.

Northwest is largely betting that flyers will put up with the small, uncomfortable jets in an effort to grow frequent flyer miles (the hidden secret here is that frequent flyer miles are growing more difficult to use by the day, unless you use a lot of them.....)

On a related note, the Boyd Group has written about the declining utility and economics of 50 seat jets for some time. They recently mentioned growing demand for 100 seat planes. I think, unfortunately, it will be difficult for Madison to grow service with 100 seat aircraft - I hope I'm wrong on this. Microjets will likely be one popular alternative in places like Madison.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:37 AM

June 12, 2005

Schneier Disects the TSA's "Trusted Traveler Program"

Bruce Schneier:
I've already written about what a bad idea trusted traveler programs are. The basic security intuition is that when you create two paths through security -- an easy path and a hard path -- you invite the bad guys to take the easy path. So the security of the sort process must make up for the security lost in the sorting. Trusted traveler fails this test; there are so many ways for the terrorists to get trusted traveler cards that the system makes it too easy for them to avoid the hard path through security.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:03 AM

May 15, 2005

Vienna VR Scenes

Peter Winkler has posted some great VR scenes from Vienna.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

May 1, 2005

My Drive from Los Angeles to LAX

My recent LA visit included the drive from downtown LA to LAX. I captured what I think is LA's essence in this photo essay: The 110 to the 105 to LAX. Screen saver or desktop background version of this photo (900K).
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:59 AM

West Coast Volcano Threats - USGS

USGS 2005-1164: A look at US volcano early warning systems:
The United States has abundant volcanoes, and over the past 25 years the Nation has experienced a diverse range of the destructive phenomena that volcanoes can produce. Hazardous volcanic activity will continue to occur, and – because of increasing population, increasing development, and expanding national and international air traffic over volcanic regions – the exposure of human life and enterprise to volcano hazards is increasing. Fortunately, volcanoes exhibit precursory unrest that if detected and analyzed in time allows eruptions to be anticipated and communities at risk to be forewarned with reliable information in sufficient time to implement response plans and mitigation measures.
Keay Davidson takes a look at California's three most dangerous volcanoes.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:44 AM

April 25, 2005

Six Nights on El Capitan

Danial Duane on seven climbers trapped in a storm on Yosemite's El Capitan last fall for six nights.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

April 12, 2005

People Who Make Our World Work

Flying around these days can be a real hassle. Periodically, though, one has the opportunity to choose the road not taken. In this case, rather than using a rental car, I chose a 4:15a.m. shuttle from Santa Fe to the Albuquerque Sunport.

These conversations make up for all the hassles.
The tale begins in 1881, when a Barcelona native stopped in Santa Fe on his way to settle in Colorado's San Juan Valley. Locals told him about something called a homestead opportunity. Finding the scenery and people of Santa Fe agreeable, he never completed the journey north to Colorado.

"Very smart, but not educated", the immigrant settled and built a business in his garden. Growing and selling jalapenos, carrots ("this big!"), corn, peppers and more, he married and raised five sons. The boys carried water to the garden from a nearby river seven (7!) times per day. Buyers quickly snapped up his two annual vegetable crops.

One of his sons (the shuttle driver) served our country in the marines from 1949 to 1969, starting at Camp Pendleton, moving to El Toro, Korea, Vietnam and Okinawa, becoming a DI (Sargeant). He served in Korea in 1950 and Vietnam from 1960 to 1965. It was "hell". "I have nine lives". A traveller asked what was the favorite part of his military service, "there must be one": "Furlough - getting out of hell, I could see my family".

Today, this 75 year old veteran spends his time driving a few shuttles each day from Santa Fe to Albquerque's Sunport, fly fishing (catch & release) near Taos, making an annual visit to relatives in Spain and checking up on his daughter and grandchildren.

As I left the early morning shuttle, he proudly mentioned that he starts the day with 100 pushups and shows off to younger guys by doing 25 one arm pullups.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

April 8, 2005

Air Wisconsin Loses United Airlines/Express Contract

Thomas Daykin:

United Airlines "was trying to put the squeeze on Air Wisconsin" when it put that business up for bid, said Michael Boyd, president of Boyd Group Inc., an aviation industry consulting firm in Evergreen, Colo.

He said United's executives probably figured they could force Air Wisconsin to cut the prices it charges United Airlines to keep that business.

"Air Wisconsin ruined that little game" when it reached the agreement to provide financing to US Airways in return for getting a piece of its regional carrier business, Boyd said.

I think United might, perhaps be squeezing too hard (perhaps they have no choice). Having recently flown through Chicago, it seems that American's regional jet operation is less chaotic.....

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:45 AM

April 4, 2005

United Replaces Some Air Wisconsin Routes

PR Newswire:
These 30 aircraft will fly on some routes previously operated for United by Air Wisconsin Airlines. As the company indicated in an announcement to employees late last month, United also is considering reductions in the United Express fleet to further reduce spending on U.S. domestic capacity, given high fuel prices and the current fare levels.
Air Wisconsin is based in Appleton and recently invested in US Airways as part of a deal to redeploy aircraft.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:00 AM

April 1, 2005

Midwest Airlines & Northwest Battle it out in Milwaukee

Midwest, in a somewhat bold move, is expanding Milwaukee service to Northwest's fortress hub in Minneapolis. (Northwest has been expanding nonstop flights from Midwest's Milwaukee hub to several cities in an obvious effort to kill their much smaller competitor).
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:24 PM

Belle Isle Aquarium VR Tour


Designed by Albert Kahn, opened to the public in 1904. The Belle Isle Aquarium is North America's oldest continuously operating public aquarium. The aquarium is the home of 146 species, many of these are native Michigan fish. The building itself is a one of kind. The interior is a classic example of early 20th century architecture.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:27 AM

March 25, 2005

Wet, Wild..... Wisconsin? - The Dells as a Major Destination

Neal Karlen:
The lobby of the Kalahari Waterpark in the Wisconsin Dells at check-in time on a recent Saturday afternoon was equal parts Marx Brothers anarchy, Andy Hardy freckles and "Dude, Where's My Car?" goofiness. Just as the line to the front desk began moving, five revelers barely into their teens hijacked an empty luggage rack, and with one pushing and four aboard, raced, shrieking, around the lobby, which seemed roughly the size of a par-three nine-hole golf course.

I quickly cruised the lobby in search of my friend Julia, a fine-arts administrator who did not want her last name used because she was embarrassed even to be seen in the Dells. Not finding her, I went back outside and ran into a traffic jam. The gridlock consisted mostly of two types of vehicles trying to get near this hostelry, which has a 125,000-square-foot indoor water park, the largest in the country. On the one hand were the monster-size recreational vehicles, which disgorged the incoming families. Going up against them were teenagers revving the engines of a score of pizza-delivery cars, lined up like impatient taxi drivers at the airport as they waited to drop off their wares and rush back for more.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:14 PM

March 24, 2005

Northwest Adds Milwaukee Flights - trying to kill Midwest Airlines

Tom Daykin:
In adding service to Denver, Northwest is creating another direct challenge to Midwest Airlines, which is owned by Oak Creek-based Midwest Air Group Inc. Northwest in February added daily service to Pittsburgh and Toronto, destinations also served by Midwest Airlines.
Note that Northwest is using cramped regional jets, which, I don't believe will be much of a problem for Midwest to compete with.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:59 PM

March 6, 2005

Inspiration + Taking Risks + Execution = Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum

A glorious view, worth the flight and/or drive. Visit. I continue to believe that this is a much, much better long term investment than Miller Park. Perhaps new Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio can make something happen.... (Baseball downtown would have been so much better).
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:34 AM

March 5, 2005

Madison Airport: New Non-stop to Washington (DCA)

Northwest Airlink announced non-stop regional jet service from Madison to Washington Reagan National this week. This is useful, although the times are rather odd (early afternoon - perhaps a time when regional jets are not that crowded on other routes).
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:34 AM

March 2, 2005

Customer Service 101 - Midwest Airlines

I hope Milwaukee based Midwest Airlines continues to survive the industry's turmoil. They do provide great service (and actually respond to email, what a concept....).
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:57 AM

February 22, 2005

Portugal VR Scenes

Santiago Ribas posted some wonderful Quicktime VR Scenes from Portugal here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:30 PM

Detroit Auto Show VR Scenes

Mark Houston has posted some very, very nice Quicktime VR scenes from the North American International Auto Show. If you like cars, you'll like these scenes.
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:30 PM

February 20, 2005

The Gates (Central Park) VR Scenes

Elizabeth Gentile has posted some lovely VR scenes from Central Park, site of Christo & Jean-Claude's The Gates. Scene 1, 2, 3, 4. Well worth checking out.

Kate adds:

In Central Park, there is a great work of art, called The Gates. There are many gates that have beautiful flags hanging from them. They are made by Christo & Jean-Claude. The works of art will be on display for two weeks.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

February 13, 2005

A drive through Lodi, WI

Local Blogger Ann Althouse takes a drive through Lodi (with some pleasant photos).
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:46 AM

February 10, 2005

Apollo 17 Moon VR Panoramas

Hans Nyberg has put together a very nice panoramic scene (with audio) from images taken on the moon by the Apollo 17 crew.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:51 AM

February 8, 2005

Changing Planes at O'Hare: God Smiles on Me!

I've now experienced this sort of a very pleasant, unexpected airline experience twice.... in 15 years. Changing planes recently at O'hare, I literally jogged from one end of Terminal B to the far end of terminal F in 9 minutes, trying to catch an early flight to Madison. I arrived at the gate with 6 minutes to spare.

The gate attendant waved me through and I walked outside, toward the 50 seat jet. A member of the ground crew then told me that because the Canadair jet's doors had just closed, I had to return to the terminal. During this discussion, the Air Wisconsin (United Express) Pilot sent another ground crew member toward me to walk me to the plane. They opened the aircraft and I walked on board.....

Flying through O'Hare several times the past few months, I noticed that flights are far more reliable and predictable than one year ago. I emailed Kevin LaWare, Air Wisconsin's Vice President of Operations to thank him for this vast improvement in service.

LaWare is in a tough spot, working with a bankrupt major carrier (United Airlines). United is evidently shopping their regional services again (squeezing prices) - putting some more pressure on Appleton based regional carrier Air Wisconsin.

I'm impressed with their service and hope they continue to improve.

UPDATE: The Boyd Group takes apart a recent Wharton Study on the airline industry's problems.

Hot Flash - January 31, 2005

Misinformation. Bad Conclusions. Outright Errors & Idiotic Opinions.
More Reasons To Home-School Kids
Beyond The 12th Grade

Anybody catch the missive put out on the airline industry last week from the Wharton School of Business?

It got great press circulation, which is quite unfortunate for Wharton. If the date was April 1st, we might have an explanation as to why the document was issued. But short of that, all we can say is that higher education in America apparently isn't what it used to be.

The Article, "Why Most Airlines Are Caught In A Tailspin" should have been titled, "Why Are People Paying To Get An Education From This Place?" (If you have the stomach, a link to the article is provided below.)

For those into wild conspiracy theories, it could be a terrorist plot. There's evidence that dozens of university professors have been abducted and forced to live trapped inside the hallowed walls of universities for so long that they've plumb lost all contact with the outside world, not to mention reality. The sinister result is that thousands of American students may be graduating each year without enough real-world skills to properly boil an egg, let alone enter the business environment.

Whatever the reason, it appears that in the rarified intellectual atmosphere of these supposed towers of higher learning, some professors are denied any real counter-input to some of the crackpot ideas they come up with. In their world, they have no competition - they print and say what they will, and if a student disagrees, it's F-city for the kid. This system has produced a whole genre of academics that are so far from reality that they'll need a visa to get back. And, referring to the terrorist plot concept, a lot of what they're teaching our young what can only be described as intellectual el toro doo-doo.

wharton1.JPG (57823 bytes)But, because of the "prestige" of the university, much of this sheer nonsense gets printed as fact. Not just funny opinions, but information that is so inaccurate as to cast doubt on whether some of these institutions aren't really just joking. This past week we were regaled by just such an article.

Again, this is from the Wharton Business School, no less. Not East Upchuck Community College. It's from the school that's just sooo highly rated in cranking out MBA grads in full metal jacket mode to save American business.

Rule One: Get The Grade. Don't Argue With The Prof. In the article, three learned Wharton faculty opined on what's wrong with airlines today, and what must be done to fix them. What they missed is that before one can promulgate solutions, it's always nice to get a grasp of the problem first. One can only hope that their students don't buy into this stuff.

All We Need Is Three. The professors have determined that since there are only three automakers left in America, well, then that's about the right number of airlines we should have, too. "This industry, like others, is an oligopoly," one professor noted. "How many domestic automakers do we have? Three. The airline industry should be like that."

Just three airlines is all we need. And, according to the profs, Southwest is the model. No discussion of the fundamental economic and structural differences between airline systems. No investigation of the reasons that Southwest was profitable last quarter. No, the sages have spoken - just three airlines is all we need. Just like the automobile industry. Come to think of it, when the conclusions from these guys are fully considered, maybe that rule should be applied to B-schools, too.

Don't Argue The Theory: Airline Bankruptcies Definitely Cause Other Bankruptcies. Forget readin' writin' & 'rithmatic, these guys are buried in the wonderful world of theory, often insulated from any taint of reality. In that regard, the Wharton Brain Trust concluded that if one airline goes bankrupt, it will "cut prices" thereby causing non-bankrupt carriers to do so, with the result being that all carriers will be tossed into the murky depths of bankruptcy, too.

Wow, what a revelation. What great theory. What great textbook babble.

And in the real world, as proven over the past two years, it's a giant 55-gallon drum of hogwash.

Gee, it seems that these professors missed the story about United being in bankruptcy for over two years, and somehow their grand domino theory hasn't played out. To start with, they've missed the fact that United has not had any real control over industry pricing. That's because airline pricing involves a whole lot more than just costs at one airline, bankrupt or not. Too bad they don't know this. But the statement, "The government allows a carrier to dramatically cut costs in bankruptcy and then push others into the financial abyss"  has a nice, front-of-the-classroom ring to it. Even if it is total garbage.

Go ahead, students, be sure to remember this idiotic ooze during finals. Get the grade. Tell the prof what he or she wants to hear. Then after you graduate, ignore it, because it's nonsense.

Mired over their heads in academic quicksand, these professors are oblivious to the fact that bankruptcy isn't the only way that airline costs can be pared, union work rules changed, and operational systems made more effective. Too much involved in trying to prove theories instead of learning about the industry, they failed to note that while United wallowed in bankruptcy, other carriers, such as American, Continental, and Northwest, proceeded to get commensurate cost savings without filing Chapter 11. They latter two did so before going to their unions for concessions. If fuel had not jumped 40% in 2004, they likely would not have done so at all.

There goes the sacred textbook theory. It's a shame these guys haven't noticed what's gone on in the last three years. But, they're on a roll...

Chapter 11 As A Blood Sport. Then the Wharton trio danced into glittering generalities. "It's ludicrous to allow a company to go bankrupt repeatedly," one of these academic luminaries declared, implying that the number one O&D market for legacy carriers is to the local bankruptcy court. Here's a fact that their students likely know, but won't say for fear of getting an "F" in the course. Of major airlines, there have been very few "repeated bankruptcies" - Continental being the most obvious before the recent double-header at US Airways - and that was ten years ago.

Somebody Call AA's CEO - Quick. He's Been In Chapter 11 - And Didn't Know It. But having a working knowledge of the airline industry may not be a prerequisite for professorship at Wharton. One noted, "Continental and American, both of which restructured in bankruptcy, should be able to keep flying." Hello, Ivory Tower. Continental came out of bankruptcy a decade ago, which makes the challenges it faces now a non sequitur regarding how it restructured back then.

And American has never "restructured in bankruptcy" as these professors so confidently declared. Real world to the Wharton Brain Trust: You don't know that? Y'all should be pretty embarrassed spouting out stuff that proves you don't know what's going on in the industry. Do you really teach students this inaccurate drivel?

More Trendy Panaceas. The professors in the article worship Southwest, which is okay. But they kept implying that every airline should be like Southwest. "For instance, Southwest pioneered the concept of standardizing its fleet - using only Boeing 737s and thus saving on training and maintenance costs..."   It would be nice if they had any idea what a "737" is.  Or more correctly, what 737s are.The fact is that Southwest, until it retired its last 737-200 last week, actually had three types of aircraft. The -200s, the -300/500s, and the 737-700s. They look a lot alike, but there are fundamental differences in these three types.

What these guys - who, shockingly, are actually teaching our children - don't understand is that a "standardized" fleet has mission limitations. The 737 low-cost model can't deliver system passengers and revenue from Bangor or Beijing. If all airlines were like Southwest, or just two out of the three these clowns think are all that's necessary, over half of all US communities that now have scheduled air service would find themselves singing the blues.

News Flash, Professors. There's Something Called Alliances. These professors just kept on coming with statements that proved beyond doubt that maybe MBA degrees aren't all they're cracked up to be. Get this gem of wisdom: "I'm sure a foreign carrier would buy US Airways because it would like access to the US Airways network," one stated.

What we're sure of, professor, is that you need to get up to speed on what's going on in the airline industry. Hello, up there. US Airways is having trouble accessing the traffic on its own network. Oh, and by the way, have you ever heard of the Star Alliance? Well, we'll go slow so you can keep up. The Star Alliance is a system that already allows foreign carriers, like Lufthansa, to get access to the US Airways network. They don't need to buy US Airways to get access to that lucrative Elmira-Athens traffic. If you had a clue about the subject matter, you'd never have made such a moronic statement.

And, It's Those Union Rules, Too. No academic paper from the intellectual stratosphere is complete without a perfunctory attack on those nasty, bat-wielding labor unions. "For instance, legacy carriers are saddled with union rules that boosted salaries..."  Heck, let's not pop their bubble. We won't suggest that these guys take the elevator down to where 2+2 really equals four. They don't need to identify those "union rules" and whether they even exist in many cases after three years of concessionary contracts at carriers like American, United and others. Or how Continental and Northwest had success in paring operational costs before the recent spike in fuel costs, and how they did it before asking for any labor concessions.

We won't suggest they take a gander at the current maintenance contracts at Southwest and at, say, American. Or, the fact that some of Southwest's contracts could be a real challenge for the carrier going forward. No, we won't rain on their parade. Facts need to be set aside and made secondary to sacred theory. This is academia, right?

If you're interested in visiting intellectual fantasy land, click here to view the entire article.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

Gorgeous Death Valley in Bloom VR Scene

Paul Fretheim posted a gorgeous Quicktime VR scene shot recently in Death Valley, CA. Amazing VR.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

January 29, 2005

Winter Geneva, Switzerland Photos

Beautiful, icy, winter photographs of Lake Geneva.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

January 19, 2005

Air Travel: Getting worse or?

Tuesday's launch of the up to 800 seat Airbus A380 is a useful time to consider the state of air travel:

  • Milwaukee based Midwest Airlines has substantially reduced it's award winning business class service. I imagine the wide seats will be gone completely in the near future. Tom Daykin takes a look at Midwest and wonders which direction they will go. I frankly think they should take another look at slightly up market service. The race to the bottom is never a successful strategy.
  • The use of regional jets (50 to 100 seats) continues to grow. In effect, we passengers are packed in tighter than sardines on these small jets. Some airlines fly these things on 1000+ mile routes. Not a great way to travel.
  • The emerging microjet or air taxi business offers an interesting glimpse into the future. 4 passenger jets....

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

January 17, 2005

Fakra, Lebananon Mediterranean VR Scene

Fadi Saikali shot a gorgeous VR scene 2000m above the Mediterranean Sea in Fakra, Lebanon. Enjoy!
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:45 PM

January 16, 2005

Huygens Descent Quicktime VR Panorama

Rather serious travel :) The mission to Saturn-Titan. Jon Summers has posted a Quicktime VR panoramic scene from photos taken on descent. JPL's Cassini-Huygen site.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:20 AM

January 15, 2005

Moscow Subway Panoramic Scenes

Gorgeous Moscow Metro VR Scenes.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:26 AM

January 7, 2005

Seeing the South Asia Tsunami, Up Close

Michael Dobbs recollects his time with the Tsunami on Fresh Air. audio

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:04 AM

January 6, 2005

Madison Air Service: Whither Southwest?

Southwest Airlines announced new Pittsburgh service today. The Madison market is perfect for Southwest - hopefully they will move into Madison soon.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

January 2, 2005

Hawaii: Maui's Haleakala Sunrise Photos & Video

Click on the photos to view larger versions of the images. Visiting the "house of the sun" is quite an experience. Maui's Haleakala crater sites at 10,000 feet. It's quite a drive up from the beach - at 4:00a.m.

Mark Twain described Maui's Haleakala Sunrise as follows:

It was the sublimest spectacle I ever witnessed, and I think the memory of it will remain with me always.
Enjoy the complete sunrise via this Maui Haleakala Crater Sunrise Movie with music. Webcam.

Background links: alltheweb | Clusty | Google | MSN Search | Teoma | Yahoo Search

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

January 1, 2005

New Year's Eve Times Square VR Scene

Jook Leung, once again captures the moment in a quite splendid way via this midnight, 2005 New Year's eve Quicktime VR Scene. Somewhat related, the latest Worldwide Panorama is now available here.

Posted by James Zellmer at 4:25 PM

December 27, 2004

My Case for Amateur Snorkeling: Maui Sea Turtle

Floating in about 4m of water off Makena, Maui, I was startled by the sudden appearance of a sea turtle, swimming out from nearby coral. He was less than 1 meter in front of me, as this 7MB Quicktime movie shows.

I was later told that some people feed them hot dogs, which unfortunately explains his proximity. I was advised to keep an eye on my fingers. Screen saver jpeg sea turtle image (215K). The images were captured with a Canon S70 digital camera and a WP-DC40 underwater case.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:10 AM

December 26, 2004

Shooting the Tube: Hawaii Surf Photographer Don King

Derek Farrar:

King is particularly proud of a recent project, Stacy Peralta�s big-wave surfing documentary Riding Giants, which this year became the first documentary ever to open the Sundance Film Festival. The film features King�s footage of tow-in avatar Hamilton surfing sixty-foot beasts at Jaws. "It was one of the best swells there ever," King remembers. "Perfect, perfect waves, and super huge. Riding Giants is a really entertaining, well-made film, and the stuff we shot that day is some of the most amazing surfing I�ve ever been part of. It still takes my breath away."

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

December 23, 2004

From Paris: Gorgeous Eiffel Tower VR Scene

Check out this gorgeous Quicktime VR Scene, shot from the 3rd floor of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Eric Rougier

Posted by James Zellmer at 4:36 PM

December 19, 2004

The Art of Running A Small Business: Big Island Eco-Tours

This work marks the beginning of a periodic series this site will publish on interesting small business owners. Small business, as many know, are the engines behind real job growth. Put simply, we need more people to get creative, chase their dreams and start a business (triple this need in the rust belt where traditional manufacturing jobs are going away).

Today's 3 degree (did it get that warm?) Madison weather means it's time to visit Kona, Hawaii and take a look at Dan McSweeney's: Captain Dan's Eco-Tours. Or, perhaps more appropriately, the art and study of whale watching. Dan has taken his passion - marine biology - and made a life's work out of it along with a real business. He also brings a certain art, or style to the whale watch process.

Read on.....

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:24 PM

December 10, 2004

Hanauma Bay

Click to view larger photos. Learn more about Hanauma Bay here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:25 AM

December 5, 2004

Interesting Aerial Photos

Take a look at these gorgeous aerial photos - shot by remote controlled airplanes.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:56 AM

December 1, 2004

Beautiful Sunset VR Scene from the Eiffel Tower: Paris

Eric Rougier has posted a gorgeous full screen Quicktime VR scene from the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Enjoy.Quicktime.

Posted by James Zellmer at 4:23 PM

November 23, 2004

Brad Livingston: Madison Airport WiFi News

Brad Livingston, Director of the Dane County Regional Airport sent me this note today regarding their plans for WiFi (Wireless Internet) access. Let's hope this happens as it has been a long time coming. Meanwhile, IATA Director-General Giovanni Bisignani is taking on the monopoly, high margin suppliers around the air transport industry. The Economist takes a look at Bisignani's interesting initiatives.

November 22, 2004

Mr. Zellmer:

I have been asked by County Executive Falk to respond to your e-mail concerning progress with respect to the airport�s installation of improved cell phone and Wi-Fi connectivity within the terminal building. The State of Wisconsin Department of Administration is currently developing a Request for Proposal document for the purpose of soliciting proposals from interested companies that wish to provide cell phone and Wi-Fi access services for various locations throughout the city and county, service within the airport terminal will be included in the scope of this project. This process is occurring in an expeditious fashion and will conclude with vendor selection and specific site implementation in the first quarter of 2005.

Thank you for your interest with this facility improvement.


Bradley S. Livingston, AAE
Airport Director

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

November 4, 2004

WiFi Hotel Review

HotelChatter features a useful review of Hotels that offer WiFi (wireless internet access). Via WiFi Net News.

Dane County Regional Airport still, as of Tuesday, does not have WiFi!

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

October 25, 2004

Spectacular Arboretum Fall Color

We took a ride through the arboretum today. I managed to shoot a few rather nice photos of the beautiful fall color. Click on the photos and view a 1024 x 768 version. This size can be used for a desktop background image on many pc, linux and mac computers (save the large photo to your computer):

Enjoy it now, before winter grey begins :(

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:03 AM

October 22, 2004

Surviving a Fall Sierra Snowstorm

12 stranded hikers found safe; common sense and prayers, the hikers used their heads -- and kept the faith. John M. Hubbell, Meredith May and Ulysses Torassa:

It could have been disaster. Death in the utterly quiet wilderness, two miles above sea level. With nobody around to know you're gone.

But it turned out differently for three groups of hikers that were imprisoned by weekend snowstorms in the Sierra Nevada high country. All of them were rescued Thursday, and the real tale of their ordeal is that in many ways it wasn't an ordeal. They were pretty experienced in the outdoors, they had good equipment and, most important in the eyes of professional rescue workers, they stayed together.

On Thursday, as they were brought to safety and the hugs and kisses of their loved ones, they told their stories.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:34 AM

October 7, 2004

United cuts domestic flights, expands international routes

I doubt this means much for Madison flyers, other than more connections to similar sized 50 and 80 seat jets [I once flew Madison - Denver - Boise - San Francisco in one day, all on 50 seat jets :( ].

I have to think one or two of the "major" airlines will be gone in the next two years.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:32 AM

September 6, 2004

A drive west on Highway 14

James Dannenberg takes us west on Highway 14:

U.S. Highway 14, known as the Frank Lloyd Wright Memorial Highway, begins due west of town and winds through beautiful countryside, past some of the pieces of the puzzle that make up the self-professed "world's greatest architect." I drove this bucolic byway last September, on a perfect autumn day when the deep greens were just beginning to turn to gold in anticipation of the long Midwestern winter.

You could cruise the 120 miles in a few hours and revel just in the Wisconsin landscapes. But there's a reason it's called the Frank Lloyd Wright Memorial Highway: This fascinating, complex architect was born, lived and worked within a figurative stone's throw of U.S. 14, and much of his spirit remains along the way, in his buildings, including Taliesin in Spring Green, and in the hills and fields of western Wisconsin, the inspiration for Wright's conception of "organic architecture," which emphasized the synchronicity of structure and nature.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:23 AM

September 4, 2004

Tokyo: Tsukiji Fish Market VR Scene

Ian Orgias shares an interesting Tokyo VR Scene [Quicktime VR]

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:59 AM

August 27, 2004

Tokyo VR Scenes

Toshio Fuji shares a nicely done Quicktime VR Tour of Tokyo's Urababa area.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:20 PM

August 24, 2004

Hippie Bus

Spud Hilton takes us on a journey with the Hippie Bus:

It's 5 a.m. and my left leg is wedged irretrievably between a couple of Brits, who are spooning in somnolent bliss as our strangely loaded bus trundles through the Sierra foothills.

Everywhere are bodies on mattresses -- a tangle of blurry-eyed Brits, shaggy-headed Germans, curled-up Kiwis -- languorously sprawled as if acting out a page of an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog, only with more clothes.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:20 AM

August 16, 2004

Stunning Volcano VR Scene: Reunion Island

Romuald shot a beautiful VR scene of an erupting volcano, from the air via an ultra light.

Posted by James Zellmer at 3:37 PM

August 15, 2004

Saturday in the Sun - Monona Terrace

A very Madison scene, from Monona TerraceMap

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

August 14, 2004

12th Century Swedish Church VR Scene

Jonas Carlson shares a beautiful Quicktime VR scene of the convent church of Varnhem in Sweden.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:31 AM

August 12, 2004

Paradise off Highway 10

The Hertz airport shuttle brought a must unexpected surprise today. The inquisitive driver asked if I was flying to Denver. No, I said, San Francisco was my destination. "It will be 40 degrees cooler there than it is here in Phoenix." I replied that it was 107 last night, when I landed.

"My place is wonderful, and cool. I have cottonwoods on my property which provide a very pleasant shade. In fact, during June, I put up a hammock under the cottonwoods, setup a fan and slept outside at night with my three golden retrievers. Beautiful."

Where might this paradise be?

"50 miles west of Phoenix, 2 miles north of I-10, the other side of the White Mountains. I bought the 10 acres 50 years ago for $250.00 (!). I bought it and planted those cottonwoods." My annual property tax bill is $60.00. Those golden retrievers keep an eye on the property during the day.

How's the commute?

"I drive 65 (the I-10 speed limit is 75). I arrive before all those people flying past me."

I asked if civilization has encroached on his paradise?

"There's no one within 5 miles."

With that, I continued my journey to San Francisco.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:47 AM

San Francisco Ferry Building Photos

San Francisco's Ferry Building recently re-opened after an extensive (and well done) renovation. I took a walk through the building and snapped these photos recently.

I noticed a growing selection of soy milk products in one of the establishments.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:40 AM

July 29, 2004

Tin Can Tourists or life on the road

Dick Gordon:

Jack Kerouac wrote: "Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life."

His words are the creed of the RV set also known as Tin Can Tourists, Gypsies and Escapees. These ramblers whittle their lives down to the bare necessities, have a yard sale, sell the house, grab the kids, stuff themselves into a thirty foot home on wheels and hit the road.

Some move on every three days, some stay a month or more and work, some home-school the kids parked beside the Grand Canyon. Once they've tasted life like this, they don't want it any other way

Posted by James Zellmer at 2:04 AM

July 26, 2004

Beside a Wisconsin Lake

Christine Cozzens on visiting Lake Manitowish.

Posted by James Zellmer at 3:21 AM

July 20, 2004

Stunning Apollo 11 VR Scene

Kudos to Hans Nyberg. Nyberg put together a stunning Quicktime VR scene of Apollo 11's moon landing from old NASA photographs.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:51 PM

July 18, 2004

25lbs of King Crab

Travel can often be interesting. This evening, I sat next to a retired executive returning home from two weeks panning for gold in Nome, AK. He mentioned that he had 25lbs of king crab in the cargo hold ($4.99/lb) just off the boat....

Posted by James Zellmer at 11:39 PM

Dining in Santa Fe

Dave Winer is in Santa Fe. The excellent India Palace restaurant features delicious East Indian cuisine. The Fodors says:

Even seasoned veterans of East Indian cuisine have been known to rate this deep-pink, art-filled restaurant among the best in the United States. The kitchen prepares fairly traditional recipes -- tandoori chicken, lamb vindaloo, saag paneer (spinach with farmer's cheese), shrimp biryani (tossed with cashews, raisins, almonds, and saffron rice) -- but the presentation is always flawless and the ingredients fresh. Meals are cooked as hot or mild as requested. Try the Indian buffet at lunch. AE, D, MC, V.

Posted by James Zellmer at 11:43 AM

July 9, 2004

Pic du Midi VR Scenes

Gilles Vidal sends notice of a beautiful set of VR scenes from the Pyrenees: Pic du Midi.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:23 AM

July 5, 2004

The Old Iron Road

David Haward Bain's latest: The Old Iron Road is an enjoyable book that describes his family's vacation tracing the route of the first transcontinental railroad.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:06 PM

Stefan Gossner Photographs the US Southwest

Enjoy the gorgeous photos.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:04 PM

July 3, 2004

Romania Photos

Sheila posts some very nice photos from Romania

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:21 PM

July 1, 2004

Spaceship One Photos

Richard Seaman posted some beautiful photos of last week's historic spaceship one flight.

Posted by James Zellmer at 11:04 AM

June 26, 2004

Sulfur Island

P. J. O'Rourke on Iwo Jima or Sulfur Island.

From February 19 to March 26 of 1945, 6,821 Americans and about 20,000 Japanese were killed in the fight for the island.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:24 PM

June 20, 2004

Monday's Private Manned Spaceship Launch

Mojave Airport, with its stands of refreshments (orange soda and doughnuts) is the site of Monday Morning's Spaceship One Launch. This will be the first privately funded initiative into orbit - paving the way for space tourism. Mike Hodgkinson updates us from Mojave. Mike Melvill is the pilot of this Burt Rutan designed craft. Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen has backed the project with $20M.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:00 PM

June 18, 2004

The King of the Alps dies at 103

Zermatt based Ulrich Inderbinen, who made his last Matterhorn ascent at 90, died Monday at the age of 103.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:08 AM

A visit to Thule

Berkeley explorer may have stepped on ancient Thule.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:03 AM

June 13, 2004

Lots of Water in Watertown

Watertown is a very wet place, as these photos show:

The city has encouraged locals to spear as many carp as possible. Watertown, it's in the water.

No trip to Watertown would be complete without a visit to Ebert's Greenhouse Village.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:45 PM

June 12, 2004

Vacation in Orbit?

Guy Gugliotta on the X-Prize:

The idea is to create a new tourist industry: "For the last 30 years, people have thought that space flight is only for a select number of government employees," said Peter H. Diamandis, chairman and president of the X Prize Foundation, the competition's organizer. "We want to change that mind-set."

Posted by James Zellmer at 2:06 AM

June 11, 2004

Versailles Restoration: Bosquet des Trois Fontaines

One of the 15 Ornamental groves in the gardens of Versailles will be reopened on June 12th.

It marks the latest in a series of American gifts to restore the great creation for Louis XIV of Andr� Le N�tre and Charles Le Brun. After the second world war John D. Rockefeller gave millions to restore the place, convinced that the chateau and its gardens were of wider than French significance. Americans then responded generously to storm damage in the 1990s, and now the American Friends of Versailles have given $4m and years of voluntary work to help French experts recreate the Bosquet des Trois Fontaines (the Three Fountains Grove).

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:40 AM

May 30, 2004

Travel - Virtual Parks Update

A quite extraordinary site: Virtual Parks, has just published a list of full screen Quicktime VR Panoramas.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:13 AM

May 27, 2004

Rock the Garden - Looks Great!

Minneapolis's Walker Art Center features Rock the Garden 2004 (June 18). Looks like fun! Featuring David Byrne | Tosca Strings | Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra among others.

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:41 PM

May 24, 2004

Travel: Libya?

Susan Spano takes us along on a US tour group's (Mt. Travel Sobek) journey to Libya:

Best of all, Libya, like China in the 1970s, remains largely untouched by the despoiling hand of commercial tourism. There's a prevailing air of naivet� and freshness unlike any I've ever felt.

Visitors have been trickling into Libya all along. It received 300,000 foreign tourists last year, mostly Europeans drawn by Libya's fabled Roman ruins, considered the best outside Italy, and its sandy Saharan south, which in the last decade has taken the place of strife-torn Algeria as a destination for desert treks.

Then he showed me how to cross the street in Tripoli, where the roads aren't divided into lanes, there are no stop signs and vehicles move in herds. You walk out bravely, with a raised hand and index finger pointing heavenward, as if to say, "Fail to stop at the risk of Allah's wrath." It worked.

Lonely Planet has a Libya Travel Guide.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:52 PM

May 23, 2004

Sea of Cortez

Echoes of the 'Sea of Cortez'
NPR profiles a modern day re-creation of Ed Ricketts' and John Steinbeck's journey through the Sea of Cortez, of which the log and narrative was published as The Sea of Cortez.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:58 AM

May 3, 2004

Surfers not put off by sharks

Matt Sedensky writes about surfers & sharks (I remember discussing this issue with abalone divers when I lived in California....).

KAHANA, Hawaii � Sam George can't believe the audacity of surfers who seem to return to the water as soon as the blood of a shark attack dissipates � even though he's one of them.

"Once the blood cleared and the paramedics got off the beach, I'm as silly as the rest," said George, San Clemente-based editor of Surfer magazine.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:06 AM

April 15, 2004

Whoa - Greektown Dinner!

Detroit's Cyprus Taverna: More on this later. Needless to say, it was quite an excellent dinner (try the lamb special & the vegetrian plate). [map]

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:40 PM

April 13, 2004

Worldwide Panorama is up!

Don Bain, Director of the Geographic Computing Facility at UC-Berkeley, has posted The World Wide Panorama. These Quicktime VR scenes, including one from Mineral Point, were shot March 20, 2004 in celebration of the Equinox. Enjoy - there are some extraordinary scenes.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:31 AM

April 11, 2004

Roanoke's O. Winston Link Museum

Virginia Postrel writes about the new 0. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke, Virginia (Link recorded the waning years of steam locomotives)

The museum is in the former Norfolk and Western train station, which famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy redesigned in 1947. As Modernism's Victoria Pedersen writes: "He completely transformed the 1905 neoclassical station, adding 22-foot ceilings, marble walls, terrazzo floors, a futuristic wall of horizontal windows and a dome. He also designed a concorse leading to the train platform that featured the first passenger escalators in the Roanoke Valley, cutting-edge technology for the period." The new station was the epitome of streamlined modernism. But what that meant in the Virginia of a half century ago is spelled out in the letters above the door in these photos from the Library of Congress collection, the first of which Modernism reprinted

Posted by James Zellmer at 11:21 AM

April 1, 2004

Yosemite's Restoration Plan

Rene Sanchez updates us on Yosemite's $440M plan to "change human activity in and around the glorious & beleaguered park".

I posted some photos from a 2003 trip to Yosemite here.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:45 AM

March 31, 2004

Cherry Blossom Time

Think Spring! Washington Post's Cherry Blossom Guide

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:32 PM

March 18, 2004

Bahamas Island Hopping VR

Beautifully done Quicktime VR and Video tour of the Bahamas (58MB)

Rather appropriate on a cool, snowy Madison day...

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:13 AM

March 17, 2004

Virtual Parks - New Tour!

Load QuickTime VR panorama of this scene in a new window

Virtual Parks has a beautiful new Quicktime VR tour of California's Eastern Sierra, starting at Florence Lake (near Bishop, CA)

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:15 AM

March 12, 2004

Stunning VR Scene from China

liu zen shares a stunning Quicktime VR Scene from China:

Situated in the northeast of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region,
Guilin has always been famous for its scenery and culture.Guilin is a
karst basin surrounded by mountains. The Li River flows through Guilin
from north to south.

Liu's email: liuyz37@hotmail.com

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:12 AM

March 10, 2004

Ice Climbing VR Scene - Extraordinary

Ignacio Ferrando Margelm shares a stunning Quicktime VR scene from a recent ice climbing expedition (I don't know where this was shot)

He shared this note: "The wheather was fine to do this (max temperature -8:C) but not for my foot fingers.... I wait 2 hours in place and lost some sensibility..."

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:08 AM

March 7, 2004


Today's windy/cold weather makes French Polynesia very tempting.... (Quicktime VR Tours)

(From Quicktime News)

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:22 PM

March 6, 2004

Hot Tub

Affendy Awalludin shares a very nice Quicktime VR Hot bath in a natural pool scene from Perpignan in the South of France. (650KB)

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:26 PM

February 29, 2004

Afghanistan/Iraq Aerial Photos

Mountain Mists

A very cool gallery of photos from a Marine aviator, here. Shot with a Sony DSC-F707 digital camera. There's a lot of very impressive stuff in his portfolio. Thanks to instapundit.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:21 PM

February 24, 2004

Pier Wisconsin Unveiled

Acting Milwaukee Mayor Marvin Pratt and Pier Wisconsin officials made public the long-awaited redesign of the $46 million lakefront education center at Municipal Pier. In an earlier interview, Pratt called it "spectacular" and "a wonderful addition to the lakefront."

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:47 AM

February 10, 2004

The Eastern Sierra, CA

Stunning, beautiful, visit! (we did last year)

Bridgeport is one of those California places Californians don't think about much. If you drew a line due east from Petaluma, across the valleys and the mountains, you'd hit Bridgeport, about 115 miles south of Reno and 90 miles north of Bishop.

It's as pretty as a postcard, nestled in a wide valley with the Sawtooth range of the Sierra Nevada to the west. The highest peak is the 12,264-foot Matterhorn, named for the Swiss mountain.

Highway 395 is the town's main street, and it runs past old white houses, and a modest business district surrounding the 123-year-old Mono County Courthouse, plunked like a Victorian wedding cake in the middle of town. There is even a cannon on the lawn. Carl Nolte, SF Chronicle.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:49 AM