About Me

My photo

I'm a 30 something who loves to travel.  I have a full time job and enjoy writing (or blogging) about my travels.  I've traveled through several countries in Europe as well as Russia and Egypt.  I also enjoy domestic travel in the United States, including Disney.  My long term travel goal is to do a round the world trip.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pilots and technology

In my surgery recuperation I was watching a show from one of the History channels (how many are there now?) about runway incursions - almost accidents.  They highlighted the 1977 crash of a KLM and Pan Am 747 - the deadliest crash in aviation history, a story of how a dozen little things happen to make a gigantic crash, it's terrible and didn't have to happen.

But the crash did happen and it had lead to some improvements to prevent such crashes from happening again.  The show moves on to talk about some of the technology to prevent crashes.  I have to admit I watched parts of the show 3 times because I kept falling asleep, so I don't remember what any of it is called.

-There are changes to runway design/layout - such as making taxiways that do not go through runways.  Takes a lot of money and 10-15 year until completion of such a project.
-Then there are red lights they can put in runways that will go on when a plane is going on a runway so that other planes know not to cross - costs lots of money.
-Technology that monitors planes and when it sees a possible incursion redirects the planes (or maybe just 1 plane).  From the show I thought this was starting to be used, but then they said no on is using it, so not sure what the story is.  It does cost a lot of money though.

Then I was reading a blog post which mentioned the whole Ryan Air wanting to get rid of co-pilots.  I had heard some pilot talk about how that might not be as crazy as it sounds with the new technologies coming out, it feels weird, but that doesn't mean it's wrong.

But back to my thoughts about the technology that identifies incursions and redirects planes.  I was resisting, I mean, doesn't the controller know better (possibly the guy who didn't realize it was happening in the first place).  Uhhh, ok, the computer knows which way it's directing planes and is giving everyone the same message.  Hmmm.  I remember watching some other show about plane crashes where the controller gave bad information and didn't correct an incursion.  I'm leaning towards the technology (and you should only know how technology hates me lately).

I'm switching back to Ryan Air's plan to get rid of co-pilots.  While it still doesn't feel right, I think if the technology is there, maybe it's not such a bad idea.  Most plane crashes have to do with human error, if we get rid of the humans wouldn't we reduce the chance of a crash?

In the meantime, wear your seatbelt on the taxiway, it's dangerous there!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Where am I?

I want to apologize for not posting as much lately.  I have a whole bunch of excuses, some better then others.  But here's what's been going on...

I was busy with my day job at one point, I worked a lot of extra OT in October, then the first weekend of November I was away for a Penn State game - got to see Joe Paterno get his 400th win against Northwestern.  It was one of the best games I've even been to, the crowd was great (once the team started to score), I could barely hear the Blue Band for most of the game!

I bought a new computer, a Mac and I'm so confused by it, I keep finding new issues every time I try something new.  My brain hurts whenever I try to deal with iphoto.  There's been success and hysteria, but I'm still wondering where exactly my pictures are on my harddrive?  Let's just say that technology has not been my friend lately.

Then I had surgery and I'm still feeling doped up over a week later and I stopped taking the good drugs a few days ago.

So what does the future hold, until I sort out a couple more things posts will come out slowly.  When will things sort themselves out?  I wish yesterday, but I'm thinking another 2 weeks.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Creepy Toys and free museums in Edinburgh

While I was at the Scott Monument in Edinburgh the group I was with got chosen to do some surveys, as part of it the girl mentioned some free museums in the city and recommended the Museum of Childhood, located on the Royal Mile.  But she left out the part of the creepy toys there...

The museum is primarily a bunch of displays of different toys from various periods in history.  Some were cool, others were just creepy.  There were a lot of dolls.  Big dolls, little dolls, fancy dolls, simple dolls.  Even a doll with it's head on backwards.  It was one of the nicer dolls, but it still reminded me of chucky.  Who makes a doll display (presumably, one of your nicer displays in a toy museum) with a doll with its head on backwards? 

And what about all the doll houses and the like?  How about one for a butcher shop, complete with toy dead animals to hang in the window.  Huh? 

Overall the Museum of childhood was ok.  It has some interesting things in it, but it also had some weird and creepy things.  But, it was free.  I wouldn't put this on the top of your list of places to visit in Edinburgh, but if you're passing by and have a half hour to kill then stop in.  This musuem is a good if you're traveling with children, as they'll be interested in the toys, yet there is a small gift shop, not a big money sucking one like we have in the US.

In contrast I did stop at The People's Story, another museum on the Royal Mile.  At the time I thought it was kinda lame, but in hindsight, for a free museum, if you don't mind guiding yourself (I had done quite a few attractions that included an audio tour and got lazy) through a musuem, this one wasn't too bad.  It is also a free museum so you shouldn't get your expectations too high, but it's another place you can fill a half hour or an hour of time and maybe learn something too.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ghost Tours

I did two ghost tours on my trip, one in York and one in Edinburgh.  York is known as the most haunted city in the world, so it's a great location to do a ghost tour.  In Edinburgh my tour was actually ghosts and ghouls by Mercat tours.  I did enjoy both tours, but the one in York was MUCH better then then one in Edinburgh. 

I think the company that did the tour in York is called the Original Ghost Walk of York, Contiki arranged it with a guide named Clive and he was fantastic!  Clive was the kind of guy who you could tell did ghost tours because he loved the ghost stories themselves, not just to make a buck.  He was very authentic, knew the city well and didn't do the theatrics that are often complained about in these types of tours.   I did notice other tours in York while we were on ours that had a lot of theatrics, this was not one of them.

In Edinburgh I had a tour with Stuart from Mercat Tours, you could tell the tour was more scripted with a bit of theatrics (but no one jumped out at you).  But it was a good tour, it covered a wider variety of the history of Edinburgh.  Crime and punishment, life in the city throughout it's history and we went into the underground vaults for most of the ghost stories.  It had a lighter, cheesier feel to it compared to my tour in York.  But it was still enjoyable and not over the top.    

The one thing I liked about both tours was that they made the city come alive a little more and in a different way.  I wouldn't necessarily do a ghost tour to learn about a city, but if you're looking for a tour in the evening, or something other then a straight up history tour then a ghost tour is a fun way to see a city.  How cheesy you like your tour is up to you, but I did like the more authentic style of tour better.