Holidays and absences [3]

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sat Nov 12, 2022 3:34 pm

{{ That sounds like it should accompany someone stripping all their clothes off...then slipping on a banana skin..in black and white!  }}

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Post by halfwise Sat Nov 12, 2022 5:26 pm

That's what makes New Orleans music so much fun - it's evocative of times gone by, and the inhabitants are intent on holding on to that feeling. Don't be expecting any hip hop down there. You won't even hear the Beatles; not playing on a passing radio, not in a mall elevator. They take pride in their traditions.

They'll celebrate the giants of popular music: the whole city broke into parades and tributes when David Bowie died. But they'll keep doing what they've always done with reverence for what the city gave birth to. It's culturally encapsulated like the Running of the Bulls in Spain, and will never die.

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Post by Lancebloke Wed Dec 07, 2022 9:06 am

Just in case anyone is interested.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sun Dec 11, 2022 10:19 am

{{Stunning stuff Lance, didnt realise at first this was your actual trip and footage or Id have got round to it sooner. Some really nice shots in there. You didnt half get close to stuff! }}

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Post by Mrs Figg Sun Dec 11, 2022 2:38 pm

great stuff Lance. what a fantastic trip! cat
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Post by Lancebloke Sun Dec 11, 2022 4:00 pm

Most of the time it was stuff getting close to us!!!

I need these videos to remind myself of what we did otherwise it goes out of my brain after a couple of weeks.
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Post by halfwise Thu Dec 22, 2022 12:40 pm

So I haven't gotten around to mentioning this yet, but every January for the next 3 years I'm going to India, as one of the 3 leaders of a field campaign to measure air pollution in cities at a the hyper local scale. We will be taking a group of students carrying a customized mobile pack of instruments, traversing the largest slum in India and comparing it to a more upscale residential neighborhood, both in Mumbai. We also may measure pollution gradients around the Taj Mahal.

I'm very excited about this, been dreaming about going to India for decades, but only wanted to go if it was with a native companion. So it's me and a couple of environmental professors from another college, one of whom is Indian.

But then a dark side came up: the two from the other college have started backbiting each other. The Indian woman has threatened to leave the grant several times. They have done several trips like this before and are like an old married couple that has dug deep furrows of antagonism they can't climb out of. I've been trying to play the peacemaker, but there's only so much I can do.

Fortunately the students haven't been exposed to this yet, but it's only a matter of time once we are all together. I'm hoping things will change once we're there: the students are so lovely and it helps bring out the best as we try to create the best environment for them. The last few weeks have been horrifically hectic as we scramble to get everything put together, but we are nearing the end.

The other two have formed an amazing bond with the Indian consulate over the last two trips, which has made a huge difference in the visa process. It's nice being treated like honored guests, special reception rooms turned over to us as we glue photographs to applications, etc. I'm hoping the good feelings will wash over the other two and heal their relationship.

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Post by Lancebloke Thu Dec 22, 2022 4:46 pm

That sounds great. I hope you all have a wicked time.

I have had a couple of trips to India but not really had a chance to see much as was through work. Would like to s0end some proper time there at some point.

By the way, I have booked up the hotel you recommended in N'Orleans. You are on the hook if it is a disaster!!!
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Post by halfwise Thu Dec 22, 2022 4:55 pm

I haven't slept there, but my good friend has, so I spent plenty of time in the bar/lobby listening to blues. And you can't beat the location!

If you don't book my suggested hotel in Austin, do take advantage of it as a pre-6th street launching pad.

As for India, I'll be working too, but we are doing at least one cultural event each week. Already have classical music/dance, a religious festival, and visit to the Taj Mahal lined up.

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Post by Lancebloke Thu Dec 22, 2022 5:05 pm

The hotel in Austin we have booked is called the Stephen F Austin Royal Sonesta Hotel which is on 7th Street and a block down from the Driskill.
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Post by Mrs Figg Thu Dec 22, 2022 5:37 pm

halfwise wrote:So I haven't gotten around to mentioning this yet, but every January for the next 3 years I'm going to India, as one of the 3 leaders of a field campaign to measure air pollution in cities at a the hyper local scale.  We will be taking a group of students carrying a customized mobile pack of instruments, traversing the largest slum in India and comparing it to a more upscale residential neighborhood, both in Mumbai.  We also may measure pollution gradients around the Taj Mahal.

I'm very excited about this, been dreaming about going to India for decades, but only wanted to go if it was with a native companion.  So it's me and a couple of environmental professors from another college, one of whom is Indian.

But then a dark side came up: the two from the other college have started backbiting each other.  The Indian woman has threatened to leave the grant several times.  They have done several trips like this before and are like an old married couple that has dug deep furrows of antagonism they can't climb out of.  I've been trying to play the peacemaker, but there's only so much I can do.

Fortunately the students haven't been exposed to this yet, but it's only a matter of time once we are all together.  I'm hoping things will change once we're there: the students are so lovely and it helps bring out the best as we try to create the best environment for them.  The last few weeks have been horrifically hectic as we scramble to get everything put together, but we are nearing the end.  

The other two have formed an amazing bond with the Indian consulate over the last two trips, which has made a huge difference in the visa process.  It's nice being treated like honored guests, special reception rooms turned over to us as we glue photographs to applications, etc.  I'm hoping the good feelings will wash over the other two and heal their relationship.


This is amazing news Halfy. I reckon when they see people with real problems around them their perspectives may change. Bickering about trivial stuff will seen silly. All I can advise is get all your shots, don't drink the water, and eat in hygienic places. Getting Montesuma's Revenge can really stuff a trip abroad. What an experience though. Very Happy
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Post by halfwise Thu Dec 22, 2022 7:07 pm

Lancebloke wrote:The hotel in Austin we have booked is called the Stephen F Austin Royal Sonesta Hotel which is on 7th Street and a block down from the Driskill.

Less pricy for the same evening access. 7th street is rather shabby, and 6th street also looks shabby in the daylight, so have your daytime adventures lined up that get you away from there. You're walking distance from the river, go rent some boats, drive around (Salt Lick BBQ in driftwood, etc). You're not there for the hotel.

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Post by halfwise Thu Dec 22, 2022 7:11 pm

Mrs Figg wrote:
This is amazing news Halfy. I reckon when they see people with real problems around them their perspectives may change. Bickering about trivial stuff will seen silly. All I can advise is get all your shots, don't drink the water, and eat in hygienic places. Getting Montesuma's Revenge can really stuff a trip abroad. What an experience though. Very Happy

Oh, the bickering professors have been there before, and she's a native. What will solve their problems is focussing on the students.

We plan on only eating in restaurants, while looking with longing upon the street food. And I've learned the best way to deal with Mr Montezuma is to go on a fast. Sort of obvious in retrospect: what comes out must have come in; and the intestines will recover better if you quit giving them work to do so they can rest.

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Post by Mrs Figg Thu Dec 22, 2022 10:01 pm

very sensible to avoid street food. I heard they sometimes poop in the street. Shocked
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Post by Lancebloke Fri Dec 23, 2022 8:52 am

halfwise wrote:
Lancebloke wrote:The hotel in Austin we have booked is called the Stephen F Austin Royal Sonesta Hotel which is on 7th Street and a block down from the Driskill.

Less pricy for the same evening access.  7th street is rather shabby, and 6th street also looks shabby in the daylight, so have your daytime adventures lined up that get you away from there.  You're walking distance from the river, go rent some boats, drive around (Salt Lick BBQ in driftwood, etc).  You're not there for the hotel.

We are looking to stay at a place called Cypress Hill for a few days between NO and Austin with then just a couple of nights in the city before we fly out.

The Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood is also on our list to visit as well as a couple of other places we noted down (can't think of them at the moment).
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Post by Lancebloke Fri Dec 23, 2022 8:54 am

Mrs Figg wrote:very sensible to avoid street food. I heard they sometimes poop in the street. Shocked

The street food isn't too bad... anything that survives those oil barrel BBQs will survive in an oven!

It's the water you need to avoid, including ice in drinks, fresh salads that have been washed and brushing teeth.
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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri Dec 23, 2022 10:50 am

{{ Im not sure Id like to be among Indians slums, not just for health concerns, but I think the sheer weight of those folks circumstances would be soul crushing. }}

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Post by halfwise Fri Dec 23, 2022 1:28 pm

Actually Dharavi has an entire thriving economy. Many businesses choose to operate there to escape regulation, it's a fascinating place. There's also several dance schools that feed into Bollywood.



Lance, I think you should visit San Antonio River Walk. I have no idea what Cypress Hill is.

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Post by Lancebloke Fri Dec 23, 2022 1:31 pm

Halfy - meant Cypress Valley.

https://www.cypressvalley.com/
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Post by halfwise Fri Dec 23, 2022 5:37 pm

Great location! You will love the hill country.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri Dec 23, 2022 11:14 pm

{{ The Hills Have Eyes! No }}

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Post by halfwise Sat Dec 24, 2022 12:38 am

These hills have armadillos!


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Post by Lancebloke Sat Dec 24, 2022 9:05 am

halfwise wrote:Great location!  You will love the hill country.

We did try to take some of your recommendations. Smile

Only thing we now need to sort out is car hire from Toronto all the way to Austin. That is going to be both hard to arrange and expensive!!

Seems ot is best to book about 3-4 months in advance so too early now.
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Post by halfwise Sat Dec 24, 2022 1:18 pm

Maybe you can save some headache by taking a train from Chicago to Nashville. That will keep each of the two cars in the same section of the continent.

Yeah, rental cars are cheaper if you return them to point of origin. Otherwise you often end up renting at airports and they figure they've got captive customers so are free to jack up the price. You are stuck with large companies, but maybe if you take a cab from the airport to a different lot it will be cheaper? I've done this before to save money, but it was a round trip; not sure if open ended trips will grant the same savings.

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Post by halfwise Sat Jan 07, 2023 12:54 am

Brief report from India.

Arrived last friday morning, could see the pollution that brought us here from the air. The typical ramshackle shops lining the streets, the chaotic traffic with 3 wheeled taxis (Rickshaws in India, Tuk-tuks in south america), the warm climate and bucket baths all make me feel comfortably back in the third world where I spent a couple years of my life. Most students have taken it in stride (many from Latin America themselves) though we have had a couple get sick and want to leave.

The equipment has been hectic: we requested a special package made of low cost sensors, and our vendor only had 6 months to prepare. The end result is the CEO drove critical components to my house the day we left, and even took me to the airport to ensure fulfilling his agreement of getting them to us in India. Then two of his India based employees flew in and spend all night assembling them. So we had to start work with equipment I had never touched before.

I had tried writing analysis software intended to make everyone's lives easier, but found that not only were modifications needed, but everyone's computer compatibility and technical knowledge were all over the map, and had to keep rewriting especially to accommodate the splintered PC environment. Macs were relatively easy, and not just because I own one. So I've been so busy for the last week recoding and preparing training materials that I had no time to notify anyone back home that I was still alive.

The food at the hotel is great, and it's painful to avoid street food to fend off mr Montezuma. And it's so cheap, as is transportation in the little rickshaws, and you get a wild ride to boot. I've come to the conclusion that it makes absolutely no sense to retire in the USA; everywhere else is cheaper with better food. I already had mexico and spain on my list; adding India.

Mumbai is so safe that young women wander the streets alone at nigh without concern. The only real risk is having your phone die so you can't show a map to the taxi drivers to get home, as they will not understand you 80% of the time even though english is an official language. Actually they often can't read a map, so you need the phone to guide them in this huge city of 15 million.

The two professors I'm travelling with are well connected, and we've been welcomed by the Maharashtra governor (an absolutely charming old man), and have great relations with a technical university for women. We held a training session for our students there, and their students hung out to watch, and could follow along easily through all the twists and turns of python and command line manipulations. I wanted to steal them; it's hard to find students with such skills in the US.

So India's good. Except for the technical hangups I've been quite happy.

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