Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Snores. Smooches. Stupidity. Travel!

Today was unique, that's for sure.

Started by meeting an Iraqian. A truly amazing man who has accomplished a great number of things and was a joy to meet. I hope to see him again, just not in Baghdad, where he wants me to visit.

Then spending the afternoon with an Aussie, Brit, and young Swede and getting doused in kiwi lemonade from head to toe just before the young Swede took me to the airport in his BMW sports coupe at tremendous speed.

The airport was fascinating. Usually when I fly in and out of Dubai I'm flying out of Terminal 1 that has flights going to Sydney, Paris, Manchester, Chicago, etc. So you see a wide variety of ethnicities and cultures, but also many westerners. Terminal 2, however, is totally different. It serves flights mainly between the Gulf States: Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, etc. In Terminal 2, I STOOD OUT. With my sport jacket and tan slacks, I couldn't have looked more American if I would have dressed in Captain America's leotards singing 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' with Toby Keith's warble.

The flight from Dubai to Doha was an adventure. Atlanta to Dubai at 15 hours, no problem. Dubai to Doha was an hour and ten minutes and felt like an eternity. First, the flight was terrifyingly rough. Second, myself removed, the collective intelligence quotient on the plane was a number lower than the amount of pounds I've lost since New Years. When the pilot says "Turbulence ahead, please return to your seat and fasten your seat belt," don't get up and walk up and down the aisle demanding a cappuccino. (Yes, this happened.) Plus I was sandwiched between a smelly loud-snorer and a love-struck smoochie-smoochie Arab couple. Honestly, an hour and ten minutes of kissing noises is way worse than five minutes of a Ted Cruz/Donald Trump dialogue.

One other thing about the plane. You know how some people get up and begin removing their belongings from the overhead bin before the plane comes to a full stop at the gate? This happened on this flight too, but the difference was that they left their seat and opened the overhead bins while the plane was still doing about, oh, 200 miles an hour. One flight attendant freaked, shouted "Sit down!" and ran down the aisle slamming all the bins as the plane slowed to only ludicrous speed on the landing strip.

Upon deplaning, a man with five wives (FIVE!) were nonplussed by an escalator. The women stood at the bottom, fearful of taking a step onto the moving stairs. After 30 seconds, they gave up and looked for an elevator. (Why??) And the female half of smoochie-smoochie inexplicably fell on her ass (not related to the escalator). Giggles and smiles ensued between me and a group of nervous, new-to-Qatar Nepalese laborers.

Last but not least, my Kenyon cab driver unwarrantedly laid on his horn ten times whilst delivering me to my hotel.

Least, now that I'm at my hotel, America is waking up and the normal workday email chaos begins.

Phew. I'm having a beer and going to bed.

Monday, November 30, 2015


With the corporate marketing machine in its highest gear of the season, and it being "Cyber Monday," now might be a good time for me to make a plea to all parents and pet owners out there...

Get yourself a good camera! Your kids and pets are adorable, but you're preserving their life-long images on grainy, out-of-focus mobile phone cameras. Sure, mobile phone cameras are convenient, instant, and compared to no photo at all, a good alternative, but they are no match for the picture quality even an entry-level DSLR or midrange point-and-shoot (though I highly recommend the former).

Nikon D3200's and Canon EOS Rebel T5's dominate the holiday market and are great entry-level DSLRs. Right now they can be had for the best prices of the season. One of the things I enjoy about being a photo gear enthusiast is NOT buying the latest technology. Digital photographers are fickle and sell last year's gear for deep discounts. I still enjoy shooting with Nikon's 2006 model D40. So much so that I've considered buying them up and storing them in the closet. When I break, lose, or one wears out, I'll just grab another. It's a simple camera that's easy to use, but with enough features that if I want to get a little creative, I can do that too. (They're selling with lenses for between $150 and $200 on ebay.)

I also own a Nikon Coolpix AW100 point-and-shoot. Cropped to 100%, one can see some digital aberrations, but for the most part, it takes remarkable photos in a waterproof and nearly indestructible body.

Here's a deal that's really got my attention: on Olympus's website, they're selling a OM-D E-M10 with two lenses for $499.98. That's a CRAZY deal. I've looked at this rig before and frequently seen it well over $600 with one lens. Plus it's got wi-fi, so you can snap with the E-M10 and move these pictures over to your mobile for instant sharing.  This sale ends tonight. There likely will be another good one to follow, but if you're interested, I'd suggest snapping up this deal.

I've got no skin in the game suggesting you spend your hard-earned cash with these big Japanese corporations, but it's something I've considered often... the  preservation of my friends' and family's precious moments to flat, lifeless mobile camera photographs. Going into the holiday season, there's no better time to invest in an advanced camera. By Christmas, with a little practice, you'll be ready to take great pictures of your loved ones and your in-laws. (I kid! I kid!)

Do it! You'll thank me later!!

(Inset picture: my great-nephew, Graeme, taken with my D40 and Nikkor's 35mm f/1.8G lens--a good lens for shooting in low-light conditions. I'll also admit it's not the best I could do, but with 2-year olds, they don't sit still and you gotta be quick!)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Misguided Expectations?

After reading the U.S.'s, Great Britain's and Australian's State Department advisories, I recently declined traveling to Beirut, Lebanon to attend a meeting at a potential business partner's. All reports, condensed, said something like "DON'T GO."

Now what would be your thoughts to flying to Beirut and then traveling by car for about an hour roughly towards Syrian border? You'd probably conclude with the State Department's advisory. ISIS, Hezbollah, and captured western journalists in orange jumpsuits kneeling before a scarfed savage wielding a large blade would come to mind.

Those are the visions that came to mine. I know Lebanon has been mostly at peace for the last 10 years, but it's not that big and ISIS has made some inroads into this small country.

But then I saw our business partner's New Year's video on YouTube. And wow. Just... wow. It's nothing like I could have imagined. This is Lebanon? I know the journey would still be fraught with hazard. After all, I'm an American, but I'm kind of bummed that I declined this trip. Looks like it might have been fun!

Not what you thought an hour out of Beirut, Lebanon would look like, is it?

This is why I love international travel. Getting out and seeing how people live firsthand and not through the lens of the media. That said, I do recognize that precautions must be exercised and there are some places where we are just not welcome, but I may have been misguided by reports on Lebanon.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

We're ALL in This Together

Watching CBS Sunday Morning's memorial compilation to those we lost in 2014, I'm struck by the thought that those remembered had an opportunity to use full lives to impact or contribute to the betterment of society. When juxtaposed to the news of drive-by slaying last night in Milwaukee of a 1-year old boy, it demonstrates the tragic loss and outrage we all should feel when a life is cut so short.

No opportunity to contribute. No possibility to learn. No chance to love and feel love. 

I don't know what we can do--there appears to be no easy answer--but we should be tireless in our pursuit to bring an end to this senseless violence that is tearing our country apart.

No dialogue unfettered. All means considered.

We're in this together. All of us.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Post with Caution, IMO

Screenshot from

Wow, right? I know neither of these fellows, though I do believe I met Mr. Klemm once.

Another thing I know nothing of is how the grudge between Mr. Camacho and Mr. Klemm was started.

However, what I do know is that, based upon these comments alone, I am much more inclined to give Chef Robert's new employer's restaurant--Madison's Ale Asylum's new Milwaukee establishment--a try before I dine at a Potawatomi eatery.

If Mr. Camacho wishes to comment, that's his right, but knowing that he is the LEAD CHEF at POTAWATOMI HOTEL & CASINO and is making these accusatory and inflammatory comments about a new business in Milwaukee is not in good community character. Let Ale Asylum management conduct their own business affairs, Salvador, just as you'd prefer to have your creations judged objectively and independently. Your pointed commentary subtracts from all of your employer's efforts to market themselves as a good corporate citizen and purveyor of quality and taste.

Personally, I wish you both success. A rising tide floats all boats, as the idiom goes, and besides yourselves, the diners of Milwaukee also win.

Cheers and Happy New Year, boys!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Oh No, Not Another Top 10 List!

Dubai, view from Burj Khalifa
It's that time of year when everything is in list form. There's the best album lists, the people who left us lists, the worst dressed lists... I believe I even saw a list listing the 10 best lists!

Well it's time for a list of my own. 2014 for me, will be a year noted for travel--particularly international travel. In one 3-week span I visited four continents. Definitely a personal record!

So without further delay, here is my list of my favorite, new-to-me cities I visited in 2014:

10) Riyadh, K.S.A.
Colombian countryside outside of Bogotá
 9) Querétaro, Mexico
 8) Cali, Colombia
 7) Guadalajara, Mexico
 6) Dubai, U.A.E.
 5) Manchester, U.K.
 4) Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
 3) Vancouver, Canada
 2) Paris, France
 1) Bogotá, Colombia

It was challenge to try to put this list of interesting cities in order, but I asked myself this question: which city would I most like to visit again?

Beautiful Puerto Vallarta
You may be surprised that I've placed Bogotá over Paris, but during my two visits to Bogotá I found the city's frenetic energy intoxicating. It's a little bit intimidating, but everyone I encountered was friendly and the rural areas outside of the city are astoundingly beautiful.

Puerto Vallarta is the only place on this list that I visited voluntarily, i.e., not for work. After having visited numerous warm weather vacation spots (Cabo, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, etc.), Puerto Vallarta is my favorite. Not only is it beautiful, but it's got a charm and energy that are unique. It's a great place to stretch your legs, get off the resort and explore.

Here's hoping 2015 presents additional opportunities for worldly experiences, for me and for you!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Leaving Walker's Point *sniff*

(For maximum effect, cue Sheryl Crow's "Leaving Las Vegas" at the bottom of this post first.)

I'm not going to lie. This week, I have a very heavy heart.


From 1990 to 2005 I was employed by manufacturing companies that made in their homes in the 'burbs. Franklin, Sussex, Waukesha... I worked 'em all. Then, in late 2004 an opportunity arose for me to work in Walker's Point neighborhood. Once I decided that the role was a good career fit, I was delighted to accept a position that permitted me to work daily in the city of my birth: Milwaukee.

It was perfect. I had a job for which I was well-suited, I was comfortably near my Wauwatosa home, and I got to work in the burgeoning and gentrifying neighborhood that is Walker's Point.

While the job had its occasional shortcomings, working in the 53204 more than made up for it. To be gainfully employed in Walker’s Point was a benefit that never would appear in the employees' handbook: eat at great local restaurants, take mind-clearing walks to The Milwaukee Public Market, lunch daily (if you wished) on marvelous Mexican food, happy hour on Wednesday nights at Steny's with coworkers, lakefront runs after work and on and on.

I have loved it. And along the way (not entirely separate from the advent of social media), I have made and fortified some great friendships.

However, my nine-year run is about to come to an end. The business for which I work is moving to Pewaukee. This Friday will be our last day at 201 West Walker Street.


And I'm really gonna miss it.

If you haven't been paying attention, Milwaukee is where it's at. It's not only my hometown, but it's the place I want to be. It has so much going on and it's been fun to be a part of its rebirth as a modern 21st century American city.

Here's an example of one of the things that I'm really going to miss: coffee. Oh, not that I still won't quaff voluminous amounts at our new corporate home, but the availability of good coffee from our city's fine shops will be stunted. When I drive eight miles from Wauwatosa to Walker's Point in the morning, with only the slightest deviation from a straight-line, I can hit the following:
My new route will take me straight west through Wauwatosa along North Avenue. Fortunately, there is a Colectivo at 92nd Street. After that, well... I do remember seeing a PDQ somewhere out on County F.

Me, west of Hwy 100. Imagine that. For the last nine years you had a better chance of seeing Elvis eating a banana split at Leon's.

To get through the week, I'll focus on the good stuff: our business does need modern facilities and the building that we will inhabit was built to our specifications. That will be nice and I am definitely looking forward to the updated facilities.

But dang, it sure would be nice if Cielito Lindo would drive that taco truck of theirs out every once in a while.

Plus, just a thought .... Steny's West. ;)