My flickr pictures

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Nothing Fake about Fakebook

This past Saturday night I volunteered for The Current's Fakebook series at The Fitzgerald, featuring Chuck D from Public Enemy, Slug from Atmosphere, and Brother Ali.

Brother Ali opened up the night with his energy-filled hit song Truth Is and got the crowd moving. After a few more songs, he walked off stage and was replaced by Mary Lucia and Chuck D. Mary interviewed Chuck D for about 45 minutes about music, politics, and just about anything. Brother Ali and Slug both performed a few more times, and then Mary wrapped up the session with both Chuck D and Slug together.

If you're not familiar with these guys, this probably doesn't mean much. But to see one of the most influential hip hop artists in history (Chuck D) with some of the area's best local music talent in an informal setting was awesome to say the least -- and the fact that MPR sponsors these events makes them that much cooler.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Monday, April 14, 2008

Northwest is Now Delta* ???

I had heard the rumblings about Northwest Airlines and Delata merging, but for some reason I didn't think it would go through. That is, until I received this email tonight:

As a valued Northwest Airlines customer and WorldPerks® member, I wanted you to be among the first to hear that we have announced a merger with Delta Air Lines. Subject to regulatory review, our two airlines are joining forces to create America’s premier global airline which, upon closing of the merger, will be called Delta Air Lines.

By combining Northwest and Delta, we are building a stronger, more resilient airline that will be a leader in providing customer service and value. Our combined airline will offer unprecedented access to the world, enabling you to fly to more destinations, have more flight choices and more ways than ever to earn and redeem your WorldPerks miles.

They forgot to add the most notable highlight of the merger to their list: more ways to screw Minnesotans over thanks to even less competition.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

China, Our Travels

Most Americans, myself included, are not up to par on Chinese geography. Heck, most Americans would fail a 50 state test. So that's why I've put together a Google Map (have I mentioned before how much I love Google?) of our trip, and highlighted the various modes of transportation in different colors.

And speaking of modes of transportation, they were as diverse as the scenery. We traveled by:

  • Airplane
  • Train
  • Bus
  • Mini bus
  • Subway
  • Taxi
  • Boat
  • Personal car (it was a new Fiat)
  • Bicycle
  • Pseudo bicycle rickshaw
  • Foot
  • Zipline
Our path of travel, as it may not be apparent on the map:

  • Flew into Beijing
  • Overnight train to Xi'an
  • Flight to Guilin
  • Boat to Yangshuo
  • Bus back to Guilin
  • Flight back to Beijing

View Larger Map

Thursday, April 03, 2008

China, The People

Mountains can be beautiful, lakes serene, and bustling cities energizing, but it seems time and time again that no matter where you travel, or what you encounter, it's the people that make the trip (and life) memorable.

So it shouldn't be surprising that the people we met throughout our trip fill a large portion of my memory. I'm going to continue with the list theme and bring you, in no particular order, the people that left the greatest mark:
  • My sis -- Not too many people can travel with a sibling for 2 weeks straight. I think it's pretty cool.
  • Xian, my sister's friend -- Xian was our official Chinese Lifestyle Consultant, Food Connoisseur, Tour Guide, and Translator. Our trip was a vacation when she was around. She walked, I followed. She ordered food, I ate. She hailed a cab, I got in. It was so easy and fun. Thanks sooo much Xian! (not that you'll see this, since China blocks Blogger, but maybe my sister can tell you about this post!)
  • Master Director Wei -- He ran the Yangshuo Culture House, taught Jen and I Chinese calligraphy, brush painting, and taichi. He personally met us in town and got us a driver to his house. He hooked us up with 2nd row tickets to the most popular show in town. His mom(?) cooked us the most amazing meals. He's making a difference for all the lucky travelers that knock on his door.
  • Chinese tourists -- What's with the peace sign anyway?
  • Chinese people that like to photograph white people -- Jen and I couldn't figure it out. Over and over again, people would come up and pose with us as their friend took a photo with their cameraphone. Or, they would try to be sneaky about it and snap our photo in a semi-covert fashion.
  • Chinese babies -- my friend Diana's said it before, and now I believe her. Chinese babies just might be the cutest babies out there. I'm guessing it's the adorable round faces and chubby cheeks. And speaking of chubby cheeks, all toddlers still undergoing potty training would wear these little pants with a crack down the backside, so their butts would be hanging out. It was so rediculously funny and cute -- definitely one of the highlights of our trip.
  • Trinket / Beverage Sellers -- You can't go to any tourist location in China without getting attacked by a gaggle of trinket and/or beverage sellers. Who knew I could get a beer on The Great Wall?
  • Old man with tangerines -- We were hiking past him and for no reason but his pure goodwill he shared his bag of fresh tangerines with us
  • Seven Stars Park Cave Guide -- Our tour guide was super nice, peppy, spoke English very well, and always made a point to make sure Jen and I saw and understood everything. Why can't all tour guides be this way?
  • Shady McShadester -- To the man that sold us Oreos but switched them out with bad imitation knock-offs: you suck.
  • Tibetan man on the bus -- He asked our friend Xian, "Are they 'Hello'?"
  • The Italian Couple -- If it wasn't for an Italian mother and son, Jen and I might still be stuck 20 miles outside Xi'an at the most overrated and random tourist trap on the map. We thought we'd see one more sight on the way to the Xi'an airport. Little did we know that once there, we were stuck. Can we get to the airport from here? No. Could they call a taxi for us? No. However, the local shop owner would drive us to the airport for very small fee of 100 rmb. That's not a lot of money ($14), but it was the principe -- he was ripping us off big time and he and everyone around us trying to "help" knew it. Enter the Italian mother and son duo on a personal guided tour through China. Not only were they going to the airport, but they were on our same flight. Could we offer them any money to pay for the ride? It was out of the question. Grazie mille.
  • Other world travelers -- whether it was the fun couple that joined us for taichi, or the couple from Alaska that shared a Yak cheese pizza with us, or the Australian couple that we ran into unexpectedly in two different cities, or the South African couple on The Great Wall tour that told me of their wonderous year-long around the world trip, traveling throws you into the midst of amazing, diverse, like-minded, interesting, fun, and nice people. It gives me hope.