Friday, November 9, 2007

Four Days in Hammond, IN

I just finished 8 presentations in 2 days at two schools in Hammond, IN. I got to talk to students, teachers, and parents. I love it when I get to talk to all three groups. Regardless of whether they agree or disagree with all or part of what I have to say, it get's them all on the same page and discussions can take place based on common ground. You can read about the presentations at NWI or 3DWiredSafety blog, but this post is just about the trip and the people I met along the way.

Normally I would fly out of Philadelphia, but for this trip I drove to MA and dropped off my wife to visit our new grandson and flew out of Logan. My daughter who lives in MA told me that they avoid Logan like the plague and fly out of RI whenever they can. However, I figured it was a Monday and the middle of the day. How bad could it be?

It started with a one-hour bus ride from Newburypot to Logan on the C&J Trailways line. It was a new bus, comfortable seats, tv programming, music, and even an AC outlet for laptops or whatever you might want to plug in. Next time I'll have to bring my laptop or a microwave.

I glanced up at the screen and saw a show with a woman who looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn't place her. I plugged in my headset and listened for a while. It was comedy. I could best describe it as I Love Lucy with a brain. When the credits rolled, I saw that I was watching Life with Elizabeth with Betty White, a show I don't remember. But then again, that was 1963 and it was my sophomore year in college. I don't remember much about those years.

We arrived at Logan with not traffic problems and I braced myself for what might be coming next. When I walked into the terminal, there was noone ahead of me at check-in and only three people ahead of me at the security check-in. I stopped at the book store, got the last copy of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Largest Mercenary Army, sat down and read until my flight boarded on time.

Everything was going smoothly until the doors closed. About 30 seconds later the pilot announced that due to high winds at O'Hare, they were going to keep us on the ground for an hourl. Sooooo close, but Murphy had to step in and enforce his law. I guess I really can't complain. It probably would have been the same situation regardless of what airport I used.

It seems that there is an unwritten law that when I take a trip I MUST forget something. It's never anything critical, but it's something that I would use. In this case, I was going to rent a car and I thought I packed my GPS. Unfortunately, I just peeked into my bag before I left and what I thought was my GPS was actually my digital camera. So it was going to cost me $8.95 a day to rent one.

It was 30 miles from O'Hare to my motel and it only took an hour in Chicago traffic. The Ramda was nothing to write home about, but it was clean and the people were friendly. There was a decent restaurant just outside their door with about the most efficient wait staff I've come across. The only place where I got more attention was on our 25th anniversary when I took Jill to NYC and wen't first class all the way. We went to Maxwell Plum, which was still open then. We had our own personal waiter and unending attention. After dinner, I reached to pour Jill a second cup of coffee and the waiter almost dived to the table to intercept me. That's a bit TOO much attention.

Hammond used to be hopping back it the days of steel and rails, but now it has gone the way of many similar cities. It has downsized and adapted to the new times. No traffic problem, not much crime, but enough of the inner city problems so that I wouldn't classify it as a sleepy hamlet.

I gave presentations to 4th-8th graders, teachers and parents at St. Stanislas School and well as similar talks to 7th-12th graders, parents, and teachers at Bishop Noll Academy. Both schools had great student bodies and staff members. It was a hectic two days. They were tiring, but painless and trouble free.

The trip home was uneventful except for two things. At O'Hare my belt set off the medal detector. At Logan, I had asked if I should take it off. They said no and it went through fine. So I didn't ask at O'Hare. Had that been Phila., it would have meant a full pat down and probably a full bag check. Not so at O'Hare, probably because the line was short. They just made me take it off and go through again.

When I arrived at Logan, I did and OJ through the airport (that was a sprint, not a murder) to try to make my bus, but I just missed my bus by about two minutes and had to wait another hour. Now I'm here in MA and chilling with my daughter and grandson who is just waking up. Enough with the blog...

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Murphy's Law and the 1 Cent Tripod

Last month I became a grandfather for the first time. We traveled from NJ to MA for a 10-day visit. Of course I took my camcorder and tripod. During our stay there were a lot of visitor many of who had babies and stored their gear in our room. When I arrived back home, I realized that I was missing my tripod.

I called to my daughter. Maybe it was still at her house. Nope. Both of my nieces, one of whom has twins were there. Maybe it got bundled in their things. Nope. The tripod was missing.

We joked that it might be with the spare key to her house which I also managed to lose.

It's now a month later. Neither item made an appearance and we are getting ready for another visit. That reminded me that I'm still missing my tripod and that it's time to replace it. So off I went to eBay where I find a tripod auction with bidding starting at one cent and it was ending in 22 minutes.

The first thing I noticed is that the shipping is $15.55, which means the seller has built the price the tripod into the shipping costs. Still, a $15 tripod isn't bad. I decided to see if I could win it for a penny. Lo and behold, that's exactly what happened.

Later that day as Jill and I went shopping, I told her that I figured the tripod would definitely surface, because I had just purchased a new one. No sooner had the words left my mouth I opened the trunk to put some packages in. I moved a blanket sitting there and.... Well, you guessed it. The tripod was there.

Anyone out there want a tripod. It's yours for free. All you have to do is pay $15.55 shipping.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Turkish TV, Tea and Coffee

Today I did a 9 minute Internet safety segment on EBRU TV, a Turkish owned and operated satillite TV station in Somerset. It was a trip!

Merideth Parker, the host of Daily Connections was articulate, inquisitive, friendly and charming. When the interview airs, it will be available on the web. I'll write a little bit about it in my 3DWiredSafety blog and post a link here to the program when it airs on the web in about 2 weeks. For this post, I want to tell you about my experiences at the station.

As Educational Technology Director for WiredSafety, I get a pay check of $0.00 for the charity work that I do, but I do get the cool title and a few perks, one of which is appearing on TV shows.

I've been on all of the major stations, but I always enjoy visiting smaller stations. This company is a relatively new satellite start up. They've been broadcasting for about a year and have their studios in Somerset, NJ. When I walked into the offices, there were no security guards, sign in sheets or bureaucracy. It was refreshingly unlike the major stations, which understandably have such procedures.

Oscar greeted me and directed me and another guest to the "green room" and pointed us to the cafeteria where we could have coffee, tea, cookies, and other goodies. It was there that I found another distinct departure from the major studios. In the coffee room there was a considerably more emphasis on tea. There was a large tea making unit, on the top of which sat carafes of Turkish tea. Below it was a hot water spout for diluting the concentrated tea. I probably should have asked what proportions are best, but I didn't and for my first cup of Turkish tea and used about 1/4 water. In retrospect, I probably should have gone about 50-50. The resulting tea was about the color of my usual morning coffee. I figure it will be 2-3 days before I get any sleep. LOL

The show is taped in unedited 9 minute segments in a very comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. Guests are followed by a cooking segment done by Arzu. In yesterday's segments she showed viewers how to make Turkish coffee and baklavah. The crew and guests get to chow down on her cooking between shooting segments. They offered me the coffee, but considering I was already walking about 2 inches off the ground, I passed and just had some of the heavenly baklavah.

Between the tea and the coffee I know what puts the whirl in the Dervishes. Add to that Arzu's cooking and might also explain why everyone in the studio was so chipper, but I really think it was just a very friendly work atmosphere and genuinely nice people.