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April 2006

Written By: Gary on April 30, 2006 No Comment

It took them over three hours to decide to finally cancel our flight. That’s three hours after it was scheduled to depart, that’s not even factoring in that they had to have some idea there would be problems before the flight was even supposed to leave . We had a plane but no pilots, you’d think that wouldn’t be so hard to keep track of and keep us informed. I know I’m a little crabby from traveling but I’ve definitely been treated better than I was with the way the system worked tonight. If they would have canceled it hours before that I’d have been fine with it but I should have been home two hours ago and I’m just finally in a hotel. They’ve got free WiFi in the lobbys/resturants which is a bonus, but I’d rather have the A/C working…

Please let me clarify: I understand things can be beyond their control, but at 7:30 when they are telling us at when the pilots land at LaGuadia around 7:45 they’ll taxi over and it takes until 10 PM to tell us they can’t get pilots they don’t really care about the customers. All they have to do was keep us informed. If they would have told me at 8 I would have gladly went over to the hotel, ate and gone to bed. They just dragged it out and the story they gave us doesn’t make sense.

We didn’t get anything but a hotel room and a $7.00 voucher for dinner (that’s about 1/2 a burger at the hotel, everything at the airport was closed). Anyone have a good number or address at Delta for me to complain to? Please let me know. (Delta, if I misheard and there’s a free round-trip ticket in the mail for me, I’ll gladly correct this post…)

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Written By: Gary on April 30, 2006 One Comment

So my 7:00 PM flight hasn’t boarded yet. The time on the display has jumped from 7 PM to 8 PM to 10 PM and none of the five employees currently standing at the counter knows why. They didn’t even notice it jumped to 10 PM until I asked. This was all within 10 minutes of them telling us we’d be boarding in five minutes…

They aren’t even sure if the pilots have left St. Louis (the plane is here). This doesn’t even factor in the fact that this gate closes at 8 PM so there shouldn’t be any way it’s actually leaving from this gate.

Wait! It just totally fell off the display now, and they can’t tell me why (“it’s okay” they said).

7:35 PM Update: So they just bumped us to another gate. They’ve got pilots going to LaGuardia (I’m at JFK) who will then shuttle over to here to fly us away. Guesstimate is about 9 PM but maybe as late as 10 PM. I’m usually pretty patient with this stuff, but I’ve been up since 9:45 PM Michigan time yesterday and we headed out to the airport at 11 PM Michigan time (maybe I slept 1.5-2 hours) and I’m beat.

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Written By: Gary on April 30, 2006 No Comment

THE SphinxSo they call the big Sphinx “The Sphinx” since it is so much bigger than all of the other thousands of Sphinxes in the country. I think they said it was carved out of one huge piece of rock. It was big, but it just didn’t do it for me, maybe because it was towards the end of a very long day. There was also a bit of scaffolding in the way that they were using for repairs that didn’t do anything to increase my level of awe.

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Written By: Gary on April 30, 2006 No Comment

So the pyramids were absolutely mind staggering in the size and then I realized it wasn’t even the largest one of the three. Of course there were people all over the place trying to sell you water, soda and trinkets.

One of the best parts was when I walked around one of the big ones and the crowd was dying out. As I rounded the corner one of the smaller ones came into view and there was no one around. It’s was just amazing as the sound dropped and I was able to walk around that side in awe. It was so peaceful as I walked along alone, it really gave me the opportunity to appreciate it more. I think it was the largest of the three at Giza so if you have an opportunity to walk around it give it a try before the sales people and other tourists start to wear you down.

We didn’t go inside. The tour person didn’t recommend it, said the walls were pretty empty and it was a big empty room in the center. It was only $4 or $5 extra for one of them. I asked some people who were coming out and they said it was very hot and and they had to walk about 300 meters bent over pretty far and their wasn’t much too see.

On the other hand I didn’t not go to the laser light show at the Giza sight and I heard it was great. Some people in our group said it was great and so did some others who stayed in the hotel so you might want to see that if you ever get there. It had just been a long day with lots of pyramids and I was too tired…

Written By: Gary on April 30, 2006 2 Comments

So I’m at the Cairo Airport ready to head to JFK and they’ve got FREE WiFi! In case you haven’t noticed while things are cheap here, nothing is free. So we’re very early for our flight but I’m ready, two weeks was long enough to be away from home. Egypt was wonderful, but I’m ready for my own bed and to have the ability to drink tap water and not be afraid to accidentally rinse after I brush my teeth.

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Written By: Gary on April 30, 2006 No Comment

Yahoo! is once again offering domains at $2.99 (probably for new customers and I’m guessing limit one).

THIS DEAL IS EXPIRED!

Written By: Gary on April 29, 2006 No Comment

The pyramids at Giza were Great! I uploaded some photos today (15 more) and some are the pyramids. I gotta catch a bus in 5 hours to get to my flight so I gotta hit the hay. G’nite!

Written By: Gary on April 28, 2006 No Comment

We finally got up close to the pyramids today. Amazing!!!!

More later…

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Written By: Gary on April 28, 2006 No Comment

With Yahoo’s new Yahoo! Go service you can watch previews, flickr feeds, yahoo photos, download music and burn it to a cd. Of course it’ll play any of those files from the hard drive (or CD/DVD) and with a supported video card you can record television in a TiVo like fashion.

Unfortunately, Yahoo! generally chokes with a good idea before they get it done, but this is a great one so let’s see how they do. Especially since they are doing this just after TiVo has canceled their lifetime subscription and is now charging monthly rates only….

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Written By: Gary on April 27, 2006 No Comment

They do the change due to Daylight Savings tonight so while it feels like 10 PM it’s really 11 PM (so I’m off to bed)!

Written By: Gary on April 27, 2006 One Comment



meonacamel

Originally uploaded by garylapointe.

So we went on a camel ride yesterday!

We rode them up a dune (15 minutes) and then back down across the Sahara desert to a village where we had a tour.
It wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be!

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Written By: Gary on April 27, 2006 One Comment

I heard there was another bombing. I’m in Cairo and plan to be in the immediate vicinity for the rest of the trip (just so you know).

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Written By: Gary on April 27, 2006 No Comment

So now we’re off to Cairo, with a stop over in Luxor on the way. Security did a big inspection on my laptop bag. With a few spare batteries, four or five chargers, cables, adaptors, a variety of gizmos it’s probably a total of 20-30 feet of wiring and cables. Fortunately, I don’t get stopped more often. The upside was that I did find something that I thought I lost earlier in the trip.

We had a second security checkpoint and they ignored the bag but I had to remove my belt and check my pockets. I accidentally threw my chapstick in the bin and he opened it up to check it. In Abu Simble (the part I didn’t go on), they said there were eight checkpoints (although that was the day after the bombing).

Later: So after a what seemed like a long flight we spent forever in traffic. But I’ve had lunch now and we’re back in the neighborhood of the pyramids!

Written By: Gary on April 27, 2006 No Comment

So I haven’t had a chance to talk about security here, it’s been on my mind since day one. We’ve had an armed guard with us whenever we travel as a group. This didn’t surprise me, I actually expected a police escort so it was tamer than I thought.

Plus every hotel or museum has one or metal detectors and may check bags (but not likely). I know it sounds crazy but you really get used to it.

I got so used to the guns that one night a few of us were walking in an area that got kind of dark and heard footsteps behind us when I looked and saw it was men with guns my thoughts of fear went out of my mind.

Security seemed to pick up when we went south (especially in Aswan). In the south we did have an escort pickup with one to four security folks and the security guy on the bus.

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Written By: Gary on April 27, 2006 No Comment

So I’ve done really good in the haggling so far. Sometimes insulting the guys by offering too little, but then I factor that into my exchange with the next booth for a same or similar item. It’s amazing on how you’ll be walking away and they’ll keep offering lower offers. If they just had it priced in the first place I probably would have paid a higher price that it might have been marked.

The best I did so far was some guy wanted 120 LE for an item and I got him down to 50 LE for that item plus a larger similar item. Who knows, maybe I could have actually done better.

I’ve walked into a few shops and I can see them debate the price before they figure out what to charge me. Sometimes I just give them this look like “are you kidding?” and it seems like they don’t nail me too much. Most things as still less than you’d pay anywhere else. Even in a fancy resturant I don’t think I’ve every paid more than $2.50 for a Coca-Cola, most times it’s less that $1.

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Written By: Gary on April 26, 2006 No Comment

So the time and dates that come with these messages may not be perfect. Most are when I write them (actually when I start to write them) and I’ve posted them later. I’ve just recently finished a few that I started days ago so you may have to scroll down to see them.

We do their DST time change tonight (I think) so that will throw me off a little bit (and maybe the computer). I’m probably going to lose an hours sleep too :(

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Written By: Gary on April 26, 2006 No Comment

So today I found a small bottle of Coke for about 14 cents (yes, 14 American cents), but I had to drink it there. I wanted to take it with but I couldn’t figure out how much to pay to do that, it was a very non-tourist spot. I actually paid her about 19 cents since I didn’t have change. There were two kids there talking to us (and hassling us for money and pens) so I bought them each a soda too. I’m thinking they were kids of the shopkeeper, I made sure they actually opened them before they. I was tempted to give a few of the kids money but I didn’t think we could get out of the community without the word getting around.

Also had a carriage buggy ride that I was already paying to much for (I was almost running late and I had already haggled him down 50%) but when I got there he tried to jack the price up. I just say no, repeat the price and walk away. Oh, he tried to get me to tip the horse too and then he switched currencies to try and confuse me (about 23%). Keep in mind we’re really talking peanuts with any of these amounts.

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Written By: Gary on April 25, 2006 One Comment

It’s Tuesday and most of the group are at the other site I mentioned yesterday. But I got to sleep!!!! I think I slept for about 8 1/2 hours and then on and off for about an hour (so I got up). Had breakfast, did a nice walk to the Internet Cafe and I’ll head back in a few…

It’s a nice day out but my legs are really sore from yesterday, I might take a carriage ride back to the hotel… :)

Don’t forget I’ve got more photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/garylapointe/ which I’ve been titling slightly better and with more descriptions.

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Written By: Gary on April 25, 2006 No Comment

I got an e-mail from Kelly about some kind of bombings somewhere out this way but I don’t know anything about it.
FYI, I’m in Aswan just off the nile (about 50 feet at this moment) and about as far south as you can go.

UPDATE: It’s WAY north and to the east and it turns out the travel agency called my Mom to say I’m okay (which is funny since I hadn’t heard about it and no one asked me if I was okay)…

In case more happens, Aswan and Cairo are the major areas I’ll be in for the rest of the trip.

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Written By: Gary on April 24, 2006 No Comment

I am SO tired. I’m in bed right now. And I can’t wait to sleep in. The rest of the group is going to Abu Simbel (sp?) and I really want to see it but I knew I’d be ready to crash around this point of the trip and it’s another plan ride (yuk!), $200 more and have to leave the hotel at 5 am so it seemed like it’d make sense to skip it and save on so many levels.

We saw temples, rode boats and ate lots (as usual) then went for a walk (had to be close to 3 hours) which included visiting a mosque shopping (haggling lots with very little success) and lots of walking.

Tomorrow will be nice to sleep in, access the Internet at the hotel’s over priced rates (but at least I don’t need to carry the laptop anywhere) and eat more! (You won’t actually see this until I get on-line then…)

Written By: Gary on April 24, 2006 No Comment

I’ve had two people mention that they had problems reading this page http://mytriptoegypt.com/.

Can you please send me an e-mail if it looks bad in your web browser? Please tell me your browser, computer and if it’s old or new (the more geeky details the better).

I just made a few changes, so if you had problems and it’s now better, please let me know :)

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Written By: Gary on April 23, 2006 No Comment

So Oliver Twist comes to mind often during these my Egypt trip. I see all these kids running around trying to sell you something. They just swarm you like a group of mosquitoes. It’s hysterical on some level it’s like on some TV show when you see the little kid with little puppies jumping all over them.

Most of the time it seems like the children are very poor but I think many of them are not poor (at least not by their standards). We were at this one place and these little kids were so dirty it just tears at my heart. When we got back in the van I asked if they dirtied them up on purpose, the tour guide laughed and said they were just dirty, “they’re kids, they don’t mind”.


Generally when swarmed it seems like they are in a few groups, they all seem to go back to the same few adults for change. But it just makes me think of the groups of orphans in oliver twist. I’ve spent many dollars/pounds on many of these trinkets if I can haggle down to a dollar or less, it’s a safe bet I’ll get one (unless I already have 15!).

Written By: Gary on April 23, 2006 2 Comments

StargateSo I was on a carriage ride and saw this in the park. It was hysterical if you’ve ever seen the movie Stargate (Kurt Russel / James Spader) or the TV Series Stargate SG-1 (Richard Dean Anderson) or Atlantis. They use a Egyptian artifact like this to travel to other worlds. Worlds still under the rule of aliens posing as guides gods. Gods using names like Ra and Anubis on planets with names like Abadoes and Karnak (these are egyptian names and places).

160Px-Stargate-ColorThe shows uses quite a bit of Egyptology (mythology) and there are always ruins that they have to explore in the show. And occasionally they use some of the old Egyptology stories to figure the interaction between the god/aliens.

See a view of the actual gate from the show.

Written By: Gary on April 22, 2006 No Comment

Today after coming back from the temple of Horus some guys are trying to sell us some water. They offered it at a decent price (one dollar) but after a few seconds I got them to give me two for that price :)

Here’s the cheating part – after about five seconds he chases after two of us and tries to tell me I didn’t give him a dollar and he’s holding up one Egyptian pound. Now this is possible that I gave him the wrong thing and then I realize would have never gotten one foot away if it was the wrong amount and I’m telling him no (but in the back of my mind there is a little doubt still). Then I notice it’s not an Egyptian pound it’s a 25 pesters note (one-fourth of a pound) and I know I didn’t have any (I’m not sure I’ve ever even seen any) since they’re so cheap I would have saved them as a souvenir, the doubt went away and I had to yell at him to get away.


Later: So after that temple trip, we were heading over to take a picture of something that I saw as we were heading to them temple. And we’ve got some guy following us saying “excude me” and “pssst” and we’re totally ignoring him, it’s proably the same guy or someone else trying to sell us something but he was pretty persistant. Finally Lea realized it was someone from the ship so we let him catch up. It turns out the ship was supposed to leave immediately when we got back. I knew this and forgot all about it! (I would have still gone to take the picture but I would have told someone I’d be right back)

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Written By: Gary on April 21, 2006 No Comment

Vallyothekings2GroupSo today we went inside the Valley of the Kings and then over to the Valley of the Queens. It was completely amazing. I just couldn’t believe it. No photos allowed inside but I’ll post some of the photos of the actually valley in the Valley of the Kings (VotK). So there are 63 discovered tombs in the VotK, anything you read will say 62 but they just recently discovered a new one.

The construction they did as they dug into these mountains and was incredible. Tunnels and the chambers were very interesting. Lots of colors still vibrant after all these years (3,000+). In side the huge chambers it felt very moving to see all this work that these people put into constructing these rooms. I bet one of them were 50 feet x 25 feet and 20 feet high and it had to be a few hundred feet into the mountain.

Just incredible. This is what I came here to see.

Written By: Gary on April 21, 2006 No Comment

NilepoolWe are on the ship M/S Royal Orchid and it’s incredible. It’ll hold 60 guests and it’s just the 15 of us! I’m on the top deck right this, I’m in a lounge chair right next to the hot tub and pool. The stars are out and there isn’t a cloud in the sky, I wish we weren’t next to this “city”. It’s just beautiful on the ship and there are so many staff here. I really wish I had taken the 4 nights on the boat instead of just 3, it’s so nice to set up the room and know I’m going to be here for a few days. We’re docked in this tiny little town that I’ll have to look up the name for called Esna.

We’re just going south down the Nile (it flows north) and making stops at different places. We had to go through some locks today to get onto the higher level of water and that was fun to watch from the inside. And I’m watching a goat cross a side-street right now. It’s 9:29pm and it’s still pretty warm out, it’s been very hot lately and it’s going to get worse as we head south towards the Sahara.

We did wander around town for a few minutes, it took us way longer for us to walk the roundabout way past the guards and back to go up the stairs than to walk down the street and back. And we spent a bit of time negotiating for a candy bar too. Here’s how it went:

Me: How much for a Galaxy Ripple

He: 10 LE (pounds egyptian)

Me: I laughed it was so high (about $1.86)

He: 7 LE

Me: Shrugged

He: 2 for 10 LE

Me: 3 for 10

He: Sold! (or something like that).

Me: Happy with my purchase of 3 dusty candy bars that I probably still paid too much for.

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Written By: Gary on April 21, 2006 No Comment

Egyptpirates1Egyptpirates2So earlier our Guide told us we’d see pirates down by the dam. Sure enough, as we slow down dozens of rowboats surround the ship. And it’s “street” vendors trying to sell us stuff.

What they do is toss it up 4 floors for us to look at and it hits the railing and falls back down into the water. He throws another and it goes over us and lands in the pool. It’s really hard to negotiate when they are down so far. A few of the ladies bought some nice table cloths, I didn’t see anything I liked enough to have him send up (and then have to send back down arguing all the way). But it was just hysterical to see, we were all laughing the whole time. It’s just so bizarre.

Then we watched them leave to lay siege on another ship…

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Written By: Gary on April 20, 2006 No Comment

In Luxor we’re staying at the Sofitel Pavilion Winter Palace it’s pretty grand (but our rooms need a refurbish) and I’ve got a great view (see photos).

We’ve been to Karnak (I just posted a few more pictures some with people in it go give a sense of scale) and the Luxor Temple (shots also posted, the night shots are from here) and the temple and more. I’ve got so many more photos (and stories) but not enough time…

We did a sunset boat ride. And tomorrow we’re crossing the nile to see the sun rise. I’ve got to be up and ready to leave at 4:30 am, plus I’ve got to be packed because we go the ship right after and we’ll be on the Nile for 4 days!

I’m so excited to not have to pack again for 3 nights! And it’s the boat, so it doesn’t have to be “airplane neat” just so I can carry it all!

I’m assuming that the Internet will be sparse for a while since I was told that ATM machines probably won’t be at most of our stops (I’m assuming WiFi is more sparse than ATMs are).

As a reminder here are my flickr Egypt photos .

Written By: Gary on April 19, 2006 One Comment

Karnaktall1GarykarnakAfter we flew to Luxor we went to the Temple of Karnak. It was very hot (I finally found a hat to buy) and everyone (and there were lots of people there) were all always trying to get into the shade. They started building this complex 3,000+ years ago and it took over 1,500 years! This place supplied me with a lot of great photos (I just don’t know if I can get them uploaded).

FYI: Luxor contains 1/3 of the world’s monuments (the rest of egypt contains another 1/3), I’m not sure what exactly defines a monument.

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Written By: Gary on April 19, 2006 No Comment

Modem7200So I’ve got cheap dial-up in my room in Luxor but I’m only connecting at 7200 bps!!!! It’s pretty painful but it’s only $2 an hour and I don’t have to leave the room (I think that’s a plus as long as I time things right). I probably won’t be updating a lot of photos though…

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Written By: Gary on April 19, 2006 No Comment

So we’re on the plane on our ride to Luxor in the south. It’s either a new plane or recently refurbished, it’s very nice. It’s a huge plane for such a short ride (1 hour), it does go to Beirut after it leaves Luxor (I’m not sure how far that is). We’re off to Karnak to visit today.

I’ve got to say the thing that I like least about this is that packing and unpacking from all the moving that we have to do. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like that but I was hoping I was wrong…

I think we check into a hotel for two nights and then I think the cruise is on the nile for the next three nights. That will be nice traveling to other places but having the hotel do the traveling for me. :)

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Written By: Gary on April 18, 2006 One Comment

Mecairomuseum-1So here’s a picture of me in front of The Museum in Cairo Cairo Museum for Egyptian Antiquities..

 

Written By: Gary on April 18, 2006 No Comment

Nightpyramid2Nightpyramid1It took few attempts but I managed to get the camera set right to take this picture at night of the pyramids in Cairo, but I got a few and they look pretty good for being dark out.

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Written By: Gary on April 18, 2006 No Comment

INTERNET: The hotel I’m at only offers wired Internet in the business center (it is 24/7) they want 20 LE (egyptian pounds) which is probably about $4-5 for 15 minutes, I think it’s a little better deal if you get 30 minutes. But when it’s closed (most of the time) you have to get someone to open it. The bonus for me is I have the laptop pretty prepped for what I want to do: I’ve already written e-mails and hit send, I’ve written posts (such as this one) and saved them, I only have to hit send and I’ve organized the photos I want to upload. So 15 minutes is actually quite a bit of time since I have the laptop. Anything more and I’d probably just be screwing around. They are working on wireless in certain areas but it’s not complete enough to work (but it is complete enough to stop you from using it).

MONEY CONVERSION: I did what I usually do, I went to the ATM. I took out 1000 LE (think of it as a cursive L like the Brits show it) and when I checked my bank’s web site I see they took out $174.56 with a $1 surcharge (that’s about what I thought it should be). I should have checked the sign at the bank for their conversion…


PHONES: No one can tell me what it’ll actually cost to use the phone in the room (actually they’ll tell me but if you ask two other people you get three different answers) and they have no pay phones here. They said I can use my AT&T calling card (but I’d still pay some undefined rate), but last week when I called AT&T they told me Egypt didn’t allow foreign phone cards to be used. So I went back up to the business center and Skyped out (using Skype computer phone software). I had to pay for the computer time and a few cents through Skype but it was still pretty cheap and now my Mom knows I’m alive (she can’t check the net to see if I’m posting, which infers I’m alive).

PENS: I couldn’t find the pen they supplied with the room so I went to the desk and asked for another one, you’d think I had gone and asked for a second television set. A call to housekeeping and hassling a maid I did finally get a new pen.

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Written By: Gary on April 17, 2006 No Comment

I guess I should mention I’m staying at the Mena House Oberoi . Their site says:

“This palatial hotel in the shadow of the Great Pyramids in Cairo has enchanted guests since 1869. Located in forty acres of jasmine scented gardens, Mena House Oberoi has played host to kings and emperors, Heads of State and celebrities. Its royal history is reflected in luxurious interiors that are embellished with exquisite antiques, handcrafted furniture and rich textiles.”

It’s listed here as a five star, the complex is great but the room is the same as any other room somewhere else (actually it needs a little fixing up). But I thought you might want to know…

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Written By: Gary on April 17, 2006 No Comment

I do have a few more photos my Flickr feed from Egypt, click to see my flickr Egypt photos (hopefully I’ll work on the descriptions later) you should be able to get some idea if you click on the photo and read the “tags”. If you haven’t seen them yet you can view a slideshow.

Internet access isn’t as easy as I hoped so we’ll see have the rest of the trip goes…

Written By: Gary on April 17, 2006 No Comment

So I forgot what people said it was going to be like here:

  • People trying to get you to buy things.
  • Trying to take you to the pyramids or a camel ride.
  • Trying to be your taxi
  • The incessant honking on the roads (there are so many honks you don’t know who it’s aimed at).

    When I say “what people said”, I mean people and books and web sites and TV shows and the tour guide.

  • Written By: Gary on April 17, 2006 One Comment

    So now that we have Windows on a Macintosh? Why not OS X on a Wintel machine (a stereotypical windows machine). How many people might buy it whil ewaiting for vista?

    Written By: Gary on April 17, 2006 No Comment

    My first pyramidPoolpyramidHere’s two photos of the pyramids to hold you off until I get better/closer shots.

    The one on the let was my first view on the way over (you have to look through the windshield), the second is the view from the pool at the hotel!

    Click any of them to enlarge for a better view!


    This one is my outside porch at the hotel.Egyptporch

    Written By: Gary on April 17, 2006 No Comment

    So the EgyptAir flight from JFK to Cairo took off way late, we sat in line on the tarmac for a long time (about an hour?). The really cool part is the had a camera up from and they pumped the picture to the TVs in the plane so you could watch the take off as if you were up front. Not too bad so far but I’m about ready for a nap. Dinner was salmon (bleh!) they were out of beef :(

    I’ve got a few movies and TV shows I brought along so I’ve been catching up on those. Plus, I finished the new Alex Rider novel Ark Angel which Target accidentally put on the shelves a few days early so I was excited to buy that for the trip the night before I left.

    It was a really long flight and I couldn’t sleep at all, I finally got about 90 minutes sleep and woke up with about 90 minutes until we land. But when combine this with the fact I’ve been on the go for about 24 hours and only had about 4 hours sleep to start I’m really thankful for the 90 minutes sleep…

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    Written By: Gary on April 16, 2006 One Comment

    So we’re waiting in line for security and the person watching the x-ray machine has called up two other people. I’m talking to the other people in line and our general consensus was if you need that many opinions then pull it. Of course it was my tray that they were inspecting. I’m still glad they checked, if there is confusion clear it up and make me and the others feel safe.

    It turns out it was my neck pillow, now I’ve never had one before but it’s a lot of air time I’m doing on this trip so I decided to get one. I got the one with the foam balls inside but Target had one clearance that had a little vibrating massager in it. It did actually cross my mind that it might cause a problem but I forgot. Why the problem? It’s a pillow with a button and some wires that run to a battery that them run to a motor. I can totally see why they stopped me for it.


    The odd part is in my carry on I have all this electronics stuff: digital camera, video camera, spare batteries, cables, chargers, power cords (w/extensions), iPod and all sorts of wires and wireless gizmos for the trip. It’s a really nice bag but I wish it had room to fit my new SLR digital camera (it’s too fat for the bad).

    They checked every thing I had in that tray (but not my other trays). So at the next security point I’ll put the pillow in it’s own little tray so thaty don’t have to spend time inspecting my cell phone, camera (w/charger and stuff) and my bad with water, books, bananas and whatever else I travel with. He didn’t say that was the rule but it was implied in our conversation.

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    Written By: Gary on April 16, 2006 2 Comments

    So I just watched this week’s Veronica Mars episode. It was a strange one with the ghosts of the bus crash haunting her as she figures out the clues in her dreams (and following up on them while she’s awake). I think there is only a few more episodes until the end of the season (and until we know who did it).

    It seems she came to the conclusion that the bus crash was her fault, she believed that at the beginning of the season but realized/decided that it wasn’t. I’m not sure what happened this episode to make her change her mind.

    Written By: Gary on April 16, 2006 No Comment

    “Friends don’t let friends eat store bought ice cream!” You can get this on a T-shirt for free if you pick up 48 oz. of ice cream to go at Coldstone. You MUST bring the coupon! I’m actually not a big Coldstone fan, but I thought this was a great idea for a t-shirt. (I’m assuming the link will die when the offer is over…)

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    Written By: Gary on April 15, 2006 One Comment

    My day actually just got better! Here’s why…

    So, I never finished the followup to my previous Alex Rider post, it was to lay the ground work for this post. There are spoilers here so if you’ve just recently started reading these novels you’ll want to not read this. As you know from my last post, they killed the hero of the series and it totally blew my mind.

    What shocked me a few weeks ago is that I saw there was a sequel coming out, which really can’t happen since he’s dead. I went and re-read the last few pages of Scorpia and he was dead as a character could be. So the name of the new book is Ark Angel so even with the title they acknowledge his deadness. This book isn’t supposed to come out for a few more weeks. But I saw it on the shelf at Target tonight!!! I bought the hardcover (I never buy hardcovers), I know it’s just a kids book but so is Harry Potter…


    In addition to the new book they’re releasing a new “gadgets” book called (appropriately) Alex Rider: The Gadgets, I forgot all about it since I got so excited about the other book…

    So I’m also assuming this is a bit of marketing for the new Stormbreaker movie that is supposed to be out this summer. The movie stars Alex Pettyfer (as Alex), Ewan McGregor, Mickey Rourke and Alicia Silverstone. Stormbreaker was the first Alex Rider novel so I’m glad they started at the start.

    In the books, he’s the reluctant hero, I hope that’s still the case, they don’t portray him that way in the preview. Looks like a July 21 release date in the UK, not sure about here. Oh and since I know I mentioned a few times that he died (right?) I thought it was worth pointing out that the have all over the preview site “Stormbreaker” with the tag line “You’re never too young to die”, that’s just a weird thing to say, isn’t it?

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    Written By: Gary on April 15, 2006 No Comment

    So the weather was great again today. Lots of sunshine. Not too hot. Great day.

    I got my Christmas invitations mail out. Why? Because the family has been having Christmas too early lately and I want it closer to Christmas. So I’m formally inviting the family or when I want to have it this year. So I sent out Christmas-ish invites (glitter was on them and now it’s everywhere) and a map with directions for those who don’t remember where I am. I’m probably at the opposite end of the map than everyone else, but I’m right off the expressways (I-75, I-96, I-94, M-39) so I’m probably a shorter drive because of the time. Plus this is one of the items on my 101 in 1001 list, having it is, not just the inviting…

    Plus, I took the sports-coat with the permanent ink into the cleaners the other day and I went to pick it up today and they got the stain out! I wish I had taken the shirt in too, I think it’s already in the trash. I should look up their name so I can give them credit (they’re on the south side of Ford, just west of Dearborn city hall).


    Oh yeah one bad thing, Mark spilled a big cup of coffee all over my living room floor but I think most of that is cleaned up. Right now, I think parts are cleaner than before it spilled, but I’d rather have it looking a little bleached than brown. I won’t know for sure until it dries later…

    Written By: Gary on April 14, 2006 No Comment

    So Wednesday I mentioned this this Toast video. I thought it was unique, but I guess everyone has something about it or different versions on-line:

  • Cartoon of “Yeah Toast!”
  • Buy the book
  • Crazy girl toast
  • Music video
  • Toast Live
  • The Lyrics
  • Another video
  • Get the mp3

    How have I not heard this “song” before?

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    Written By: Gary on April 12, 2006 3 Comments

    Just had to try this since all the cool kids are doing embedded links like this to YouTube:
    And yes it’s totally stupid, but still, I laughed pretty hard when I watched it…

    Found at Nicole’s.


    YeahtoastI promise any future links to YouTube will not be this huge ugly embedded display. It’ll be a little link like this or an embedded image like on the right…

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    Written By: Gary on April 12, 2006 One Comment

    Egypt map from wikipediaIt’s about four times the size of Michigan with about eight times the number of people. Although I think Michigan is about 40% water and Egypt is less than 1%. Click the map for a detailed view of the country (I’ll be traveling from Cairo to Aswan and spots in-between).
    Total area: 1,001,450 sq km = 386,559.7 sq miles
    Land only: 995,450 sq km = 383,857.7 sq miles
    Water only: 6,000 sq km = 2,316 sq miles
    Border countries: Gaza Strip, Israel, Libya and Sudan
    Population: 78,887,00

    More info at the CIA World Factbook Egypt page and at Wikipedia.

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    Written By: Gary on April 12, 2006 One Comment

    Since it’s all I’ve been thinking about lately I finally changed the layout to match the theme of my upcoming trip! If you see any of the old theme (blue and/or snowflakes) popping up please let me know!

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    Written By: Gary on April 12, 2006 2 Comments

    Tvisto2500So I got a new cool toy, it’s a TVisto Lite 2500. Think of it as a mini-hard drive that hooks up (and is powered) by your USB 2.0 port (Macintosh, Windows, probably anything), then you drag video, mp3 and photo files over to it. Then you go hook it up to your TV/stereo system (with the included cable and power adaptor) and a menu pops up and you can play the video, mp3 or photos on your TV and speakers. You can use the buttons on the box or the included remote control. It’s an easy way to get those files off your computer and play them on any other TV/stero at home or at a friend’s. It’s awesome!


    It plays MPGs, AVIs, MP3s and PGs (it plays some DVD files semi-successfully). When it arrived I was confused since it was only 5.2“ x 3.1” x 0.7“ (13.2cm x 7.8cm x 1.8cm) big. I thought it took a full size drive (my mistake I confused it with a larger model) and wouldn’t have ordered it had I realized the size, but I’m so glad I did (plus you can use it as a portable hard drive). You have to put your own drive in it (I put in a 10GB I had lying around the house) by literally popping it in and putting in 4 screws to close the case. I’m picking up a 60 or 80 GB drive the next time I see one on sale.

    This is the Official Site. They list some additional models that hold full size drives and some play some more file formats but this is great so far!

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    Written By: Gary on April 10, 2006 3 Comments

    My favorite sports-coat, a pocket, a permanent marker and a loose cap. Of course you realize there isn’t a good ending to the story…

    Anyone have any Sharpie cleaning instructions?!?


    There was a dress shirt involved too. But it’s much harder for me to find a jacket (any kind) that I actually like…

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    Written By: Gary on April 9, 2006 4 Comments

    So it was a great day so I got a burger and went down to Hines Drive and ate my lunch and took some photos with my new camera. I really like the camera and part of why I like it is why some people won’t like it, it’s got the manual controls. These controls let you make all sorts of adjustments and you can easily get more control over your photos.

    Closefar1A
    Closefar1D
    Thats the same spot with pretty much no camera movement (although the dog and it’s owner did move). Now I’m not saying you can’t do this with a regular digital, it’s actually pretty easy to do in this sample case, but you kinda have to cheat to do it. The camera just makes it a whole lot easier to do.


    Closefar2DClosefar2AHere’s another comparison sample, I saw some buds starting to appear and thought I’d get some pictures of spring really trying to pop her head out. These are the same branch but with the focus set completely different.

    You actually get some pretty good detail with the camera. Here’s close up of the same buds (the second one from the top) and it looks pretty good. I still need to learn more about the resolutions and playing with the other adjustments.

    Here’s the full photo or at least it’s one of the sequence. With this one you can see by the stem of the buds on the right and the left you have enough control to get one of them in focus and not one of the others even when they are really close together.

    So far, I really love my new camera! (That’s the Digital Rebel XT for those of you just tuning in.)

    Written By: Gary on April 9, 2006 2 Comments

    So I got my Canon Digital Rebel XT 8MP Digital SLR Camera (with an 18-55mm Lens) and I really like it! I’ve wanted it for a while but it’s the upcomming Egypt trip that inspired me to finally purchase it. (This was also one of the items on my 101 in 1001 items list so you can read a little more about the purchase itself in it’s completed entry over there.) So I got it with the 2GB card (and a spare 512MB) and the last few days I picked up a mini memory reader, a case, a filter (mostly to protect the lens) and one of those things with the rubber band around the lens to hang onto the lens cap so you don’t leave it anywhere.


    I really like the fact when you “click” the button it instantly takes the picture. And I like the control it gives me over the pictures. RebeldialI dislike the fact that the knob has confusing symbols and letters on it (I think I’ve got most of them figured out now). It’s got an LCD screen on the back, would it be so hard to have a mini manual built into the camera for review when you’re not so sure? I think any device should have this: iPod, camera, mp3 player, DVD player or anything with a display (it can’t take that much effort).

    Written By: Gary on April 8, 2006 One Comment

    So on my local news tonight they were talking about this Jet Lag Calculator (needs pop-ups turned off). It asks you a half-dozen questions and gives you recommendations on when you should expose yourself to light (bright lights help) and when to avoid it (dark sunglasses help to avoid light). Kinda interesting, I may give it a try…

    For more tips go to the British Airways Jet Lag information pages.


    For my trip to Egypt (when I arrive there) they suggested:

    Day 1
    Avoid light between 9:00 am to 11:30 am
    Seek light between 11:30 am to 14:00 pm
    Day 2
    Avoid light between 5:00 am to 7:30 am
    Seek light between 7:30 am to 10:00 am

    Hmmm… I should check the time difference now with the changes last week.

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    Written By: Gary on April 7, 2006 2 Comments
    1. Do you like chicken?
    Yes. I get that a lot when I eat out.
    2. What is 1 food you can’t live without?
    Probably just plain ol’ steak!
    3. Are you an early bird or a night owl?
    Without questions I’m a night owl.
    4. Chocolate or vanilla?
    Vanilla ice cream and shakes, chocolate everything else.
    5. Are you more of a cat person or a dog person?
    No.

    Did they ask all the meat questions on a Friday during lent on purpose?!?

    From The Friday Five.

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    Written By: Gary on April 6, 2006 One Comment
    What is the most useless thing you have in your wallet?

    I don’t actually carry a wallet, it takes up more room than the items, which makes the wallet the useless part. But to stick with the theme of the question, today I did wonder why I had a receipt from Arby’s in my pocket from three days ago…

    Found at Question of the Day.

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    Written By: Gary on April 5, 2006 No Comment

    So I’ve complained before about my long route to JFK airport in NY from Detroit (via Atlanta). So today I took a trip out to the airport (DTW) to see what Delta could do for me. Janine was very helpful, I find they are way more helpful in person than on the phone (plus they print you out your ticketing information, which I like). We had pretty much narrowed my best options down to going to NY the day before and spending the night (which is an option I would have considered). So we canceled the tickets and then realized that my tickets were bought in a way that she couldn’t substitute them (actually I think she could have but it would have been only $12 credit). But then she had a problem rebooking the original flight. So we (she) called somewhere else, three somewhere else’s actually, but she finally got someone to answer and they fixed me right up! I failed that mission but it was worth a drive on a nice day (and $5 for parking). I’ll bug the travel group once more (maybe twice) and see if I can get someone there to fly me in the day before.


    Plus I ran into a guy from high school, I actually recognized him but had to read the name tag to be sure. I think he graduated two ears before me it took us a few, but we figured out that we knew each other from yearbook. So I got to chat with him for a few minutes while waiting for Janine.

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    Written By: Gary on April 5, 2006 2 Comments

    BootcampSo Apple just released a beta of their new program called Boot Camp that lets you put Windows on a Macintosh! This software allows you to put Windows and the Mac OS on new Intel Macintosh computers and you choose which one that you want to boot. No emulation! How cool is that?!?

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    Written By: Gary on April 5, 2006 No Comment

    Profcast Logo SmI’ve seen Profcast demoed and it’s pretty cool. In essence you talk while doing your PowerPoint or Keynote presentation (Mac only) and creates an enhanced Podcast with the images in it! The site says: “ProfCast is the ideal tool for recording and publishing your live Keynote or PowerPoint presentation. All elements of your presentation, including slide timing and voice narration, are recorded. You can then publish your complete presentation on the Web as a Podcast, complete with RSS support.”

    I’ve been meaning to buy it and I finally did this week, why you ask? Because they’re having the “Happy Birthday Apple Sale!” and only charging 30% of the price (30 years of Apple) so it’s only $10.50!

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    Written By: Gary on April 4, 2006 2 Comments

    On Wed. Apr. 5, 2006, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 in the morning, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.

    Found at Amy’s.

    Written By: Gary on April 3, 2006 4 Comments

    She had 1 penny, $400,000 and $750,000 on the board so they offered her $375,000. A very generous offer as the show goes. If she doesn’t take the money she has to open one more. She said she was a gambler so this should have been easy and Howie pretty much spelled it out for her that there were 3 options if she picked the case:

  • She could pick the penny and the offer would go up (probably to about $575,000, IMHO) and you could play between $400k and $750k or go.
  • She picks the $400,000 case and the offer stays at about $375,000 (the logical spot is the same amount, but I think Howie inferred it’d go up) and you should quit.
  • This is the worse option, she picks the $750,000 and the offer drops to $200,000 (Howie did the math for her on this one and I’ve never seen him be specific before) and you’d have to quit then.

    It’s all a win at that point, so to me you keep on playing. At that point even making a bad choice you still have $200,000!!! And the good choices (66%) are better!


    She would have been my hero if she kept going but even so she’s still a winner (and she really doesn’t care what I think anyways). She took the $375,000 and ran. I would have been tempted too, but the odds were pretty good to keep going.

    God they dragged it out, she had already started playing last week and they kept her going for another 75 minutes this week (lots of ads). Although they did show some behind the scenes stuff…

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    Written By: Gary on April 3, 2006 3 Comments

    So this morning I grabbed a banana to take to work. Later in the day it hit me, “where’s the banana?” I never did have it turn up before I left. Now that I’m home, something smells like something’s rotting a little and I can’t figure it out.

    I’m wondering if there’s a connection…

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    Written By: Gary on April 3, 2006 No Comment

    It’s back again but only once per customer. Once again, Yahoo is having a killer deal with new domain name registrations. Only $2.99 for a year!! Get your name, your kid’s name or business name before someone snatches it up. Usually it’s $9.95 but quite often you can get it on special for $4.95.

    Unlike previous deals you can only get one year at this price. And you don’t have to use Yahoo for anything else (most web servers let you host your domain name anywhere). Back in the old days of the ‘net, it was $50 a year with a two year minimum (I’m not kidding). I’ve been using this for a few domains since the last deal and I haven’t had any problems.

    THIS DEAL IS EXPIRED!

    Written By: Gary on April 2, 2006 No Comment
     
    Mathematics
    100%
    Engineering
    100%
    Journalism
    75%
    Chemistry
    67%
    English
    58%
    Philosophy
    58%
    Theater
    50%
    Psychology
    50%
    Biology
    42%
    Art
    42%
    Dance
    33%
    Linguistics
    33%
    Anthropology
    25%
    Sociology
    25%

    So I took the quiz and I scored in the area of Engineering/Mathematics. “You should be an Mathematics or Engineering major! Like Pythagoras, you are analytical, rational, and when are always ready to tackle the problem head-on!”

    So I saw this at Amy’s and thought it’d be interesting to do. I scored pretty much in the area I thought I’d hit. I think the only reason I hit so high in the Journalism and English areas is because blogging influenced some of my answers to the writing and expressing questions. I’m surprised that biology didn’t show up higher but who knows how they figure the out. There was no computer or education areas in my results (or any that I’ve seen) so I’m assuming it’s not an option.

    Go to QuizFarm to find out What is your Perfect Major?

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    Written By: Gary on April 1, 2006 2 Comments

    Wireless extension cordsThe problem with all my electronic gadgets is getting power to them all. I’ve thought about wireless speakers but you still have to get power to them where ever they are. They’ve finally figured out a way to use microwaves (7.2GHz range) to “beam” power from an outlet to another location in the same room (line of sight). These wireless extension cords should have a range of 100 feet (although ThinkGeek says they’ve tested them up to 300 feet) which is way more than enough. This will totally change the way I’ve got my living room configured! (And they’re only $34.95!)

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