Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Travel - Chronologically

Monday, August 29, 2005.
Getting up at 3:50 am. Have a coffee, try to squeeze the last remaining things squeeze into the suitcases. I put them one by one in the rental car.
At 4:35 am I leave the house, leave Thousand Oaks, heading on the 101 freeway towards LA. It is still dark, the road is empty, as to be expected. Slowly, the sky gets brighter.
Fill up the rental car with gasoline, then return it.
Now I am on my own - 4 big heavy suitcases + two carry-on bags. One by one I lift them otno the shuttle bus to the terminals.

Then, when checking in, a problem: two of the suitcases weigh each 95 pounds, one is 75 pounds. The permitted limit is 70 pounds. Any overweight causes the excess luggage (only two pieces are for free, the rest wold cost a fee - I already had checked that a few days ago on the phone with the airline) to be charged at tripple rate. This would make my luggage almost more expensive than my flight ticket: $375 per bag! The airline attendent offers me a cartboard box, so I could have a 5th luggage piece, but each of them would then weigh less than 70 pounds. I agree, move to the side of the ticket counters, and start unpacking my cramped suitcases. Now I have 3 additional luggage pieces, but each costs then "only" $125. Well, moving to another continent is not cheap.

When standing in line of the personal X-ray scan, I meet two of my colleagues from work. What a surprise - they are on a business trip to the US East coast. A bit chatting, I grab something to drink, then we board the plane. Despite my "Frequent Flyer" Gold status, I did not get a First Class upgrade. Oh well...

Three hours stop-over in Detroit. I did not see my colleagues at the airport, as I had to make a phone call right after landing - greetings to you, guys! -, and I walk around through the airport shops. As I did not buy the lunch package that was available on the plane, I decide that for the last time for a long time, I would eat Mexican, a Fajita-Burrito. Of course, this here is not Southern California Mexican, but Detroit-style Mexican...

A one hour delay of the boarding - maintenance problem with the oxygen in the main cabin. I buy a noise-cancelling headset, a book about Great Britain, and a currency converter. Might need that to track the expenses.

Nice entertainment system on the plane! The movies can be stopped and continued individually for each passenger. I watch "The interpreter", "Monsters, Inc.", and "The Kingdom of Heaven", as we fly through the night. Do not feel sleepy at all - I had slept on the 4h flight to Detroit.

The night is short, and day breaks soon. Then a medical emergency - one passenger gets sick. We make an unscheduled stop in Shannon, Ireland, around 7:00 am local time. The passenger gets carried off the plane where he received medical emergency attention. After one hour stop, with refueling, we take off again. A brief look at Ireland during this stop, from the small windows of the plane. Deeply green landscape, natural fences out of bushes and trees parcel the land into segments. Several layers of thick clouds ly over the island, as we climb up again.

One hour later the plane arrives in Amsterdam. Since I have plenty of time, the delay does not matter. I enjoy one of those excellent Holland herring rolls and stroll around in the airport shops. No purchases - I have now to begin saving money.

The flight to Leeds is delayed too: we are already on the bus that should bring us to the plane on the tarmac, but then we are called back into the terminal. A stewardess had called in sick, and the airline could not quickly find a replacement. With 1/2 hour delay we take off.

Finally the jet lag catches up with me, and I doze off a couple of times during the short flight to Leeds. Sunny weather at the arrival at Leeds airport - a friendly welcome for me at this new place. Catherine and Graham are here to pick me up and show me to my new place to stay - a very nice welcoming gesture. I pick up my rental car, and Graham drives ahead to show me the directions. They help me with my luggage, carrying it up the stairs to my new residence. Later we have dinner together at a nice restaurant, and after that we have a beer at a local pub nearby in Headingley: with a hand-pumped "Tetley Bitter".

My first day here in the UK is over, and after I unpacked all my suitcases - surprisingly none of them was missing when I picked them up at the baggage claim - I have a good night sleep.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Living in Southern California

Southern California is characterized by many contrasts. In the geographical sense, there is the contrast between the ocean coast and the mountains. There is the contrast between the metropolitan urbanity and the rural backland of small towns. Mountains that are snowcapped in winter, border on the Mojave desert with its hot and dry climate.

Many different aspects are together in a relatively close distance from each other. A great variety is available, making life very pleasant and providing a lot of opportunity for outdoor activities.

I will miss the warm air and the blue sky of this region!

Newbury Park and Thousand Oaks with green hills in Winter. Posted by Picasa

Spring flowers at Gorman Hills. Posted by Picasa

Mojave desert in spring. Posted by Picasa

View from airplane towards north, into the L.A. basin. Foreground: peninsula Palos Verdes. Back: St. Monica Mountains. Between: populated L.A. basin and coast. Posted by Picasa

Los Angeles downtown, as seen from Mt. Wilson. Posted by Picasa

Downtown Los Angeles. Posted by Picasa

Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles. Posted by Picasa

Surfers in the evening in Ventura. Posted by Picasa

Beach houses at bike path along coast. Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 19, 2005

My last day at work

Today is my last day at Rockwell Scientific. Since April 1996 I have worked here as Research Scientist / Program Manager, and I enjoyed working on software technology developments and interacting with customers.

Now I move on, to a new environment, to a new country.

I have lived in the US for almost 10 1/2 years - quite a significant portion of my life. Originally coming from Germany, I studied for one year in an exchange program at SUNY Buffalo, and later came back to work in the high-tech industry. I always
appreciated the openness and entrepreneurship that is so prevalent in US society.
But as life goes on, a new opportunity came across: working in academia as "Professor for Creative Technology". To accept this offer, I would have to move to the UK, to Leeds. This is quite a step, from the sunny warm Southern California (vicinity of
Los Angeles) into the cooler Northern England. But it is also a step towards being closer to home and to the European cities, to which I like to travel so much.

Well, I will miss all the friends from my work. It has been great working here in the US, and I might come back some day. But now I am ready to move to "Yorkshire".

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Pictures from Japan

Before I wrote my welcome message, I had uploaded a few pictures onto this blog, which I took during my recent trip to Japan. This trip lasted only three days, but it was a great experience. It has been the fourth time that I visited Japan. This time, I spent one day each in Tokyo and in Nagoya, visiting first the 13th Industrial Virtual Reality Expo & Conference in Tokyo and the World Expo in Aichi.

About this blog - welcome!

Already a few years ago, when the term "blogging" was not known, I intended to create a site on the web where I would upload my comments on events and interesting issues. However, I never found the time to do this, and to maintain a specific web page for this seemed like a lot of work. Then, blogging became a phenomenon, and everyone who wanted, could publish their thoughts to a worldwide audience. Due to my lack of time, I completely missed this trend. Now, I finally jump onto the bandwagon quite late. But the threshold for starting a blog is quite low, software is easy to setup, and maintenance of a blog also has become very simple. So finally, I am ready for blogging.

The question comes up, what this blog is supposed to be. Do I want to spread out my whole life, in front of the general public? No. But I want to share a few thoughts that occur to me once and then, to share some of the observations I make, to share a little bit of my individual experiences. I also will share some of the pictures I take in various places, as documentation for my friends and colleagues.

I hope that you enjoy this blog, and I hope that I will be able to find the time for more or less regular updates, to keep this blog interesting.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Nagoya. View from hotel room. June 2005. Posted by Picasa

Tokyo architecture. June 2005. Posted by Picasa

Strange flowers in park. Tokyo, June 2005. Posted by Picasa

Tokyo. Street near Shimbashi. June 2005. Posted by Picasa

Tokyo fish market. June 2005. Posted by Picasa

Tokyo city houses. June 2005. Posted by Picasa

Tokyo waterfront. Humid summer day. June 2005. Posted by Picasa

Sunrise over Tokyo. June 2005. Posted by Picasa

Tokyo at night. Seen from the waterfront. Posted by Picasa