Monday, May 26, 2008

Prius Training

Today's Washington Post has an interesting story about a phenomenon that Schlepp has long been aware of: how Karl's Prius trains you to drive more efficiently. We knew about that long ago when Karl was graphing the mileage of his new Prius with every tank of gas. Mileage kept increasing (to a point) as Karl responded to the two engine-battery performance screens that could be displayed on the console.

Caro went so far as to describe the Prius as a video game disguised as a car. The object of the game was get the highest mileage possible. Fill up at the corner gas station and nearly coast home so you can park it overnight in the garage with 83 mpg on the computer. Drive up to Los Alamos and back (90 miles and 2,000' vertical feet) while not falling under 50 mpg.

Today we came back from a quick weekend trip up to White Rock to visit the parents and help out around the house. We came back via State Road 4, the Valle Grande, the Ponderosa pine nursery at milepost 34, and High Country Gardens in Bernallilo. Even going over a 9,000' pass up by St. Peter's Dome Road, we scored 53.4 mpg.

Hooray, we win!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Back from Turin

Well, as quickly as we were gone; we're back. About 44 hours dealing with travel compared with 20 hours of KMS meetings at UNICRI plus another 12 hours of formal socializing. We got out for a couple hours late on Friday afternoon in a light drizzle for a bit of shopping: perfume, chocolates, and a glass paperweight.

Dinner was at a nearby restaurant called Kipling for reasons that are still unclear to me, but the food and wine were excellent. The starter was beautiful tray of three seafood appetizers: salmon with mango chutney, a whitefish (BaccalĂ ) with capers, and black pepper-encrusted tuna with a balsamic reduction sauce. For the first plate, I had gnocchi in a very fresh and light tomato-basil sauce. The second plate consisted of seabass filets wrapped around asparagus with a butter sauce and the slightest drizzle of balsamic. Combined with a fine Barolo, it made an excellent repast.

But Saturday morning, after a restless night with poor sleep, we were up at 4:00. We were off to the airport around 5:30 after a bit of a struggle getting a taxi. The flight to Paris left at 7:00 and only took an hour or so. After a three-hour layover in CDG, we were off again, this time to Atlanta.

At first blush it could have been horrible--I was seated next to a small infant--but she was amazingly well behaved and quiet the entire trip, even on descent when ear-troubles bother most children. The furry one quickly made friends and the long flight across the Atlantic was a pleasant one.

After a dash through passport control, customs, and ATL, we caught our flight home with about ten minutes to spare. Even though only 3-1/2 hours long, we were in a window seat and that always makes for a claustrophobic flight despite the view. We much prefer aisle seats.

Next thing we knew, we were home in Albuquerque, about 24 hours after we had awakened and it was only 6:30 PM Saturday. Like Dickens' ghosts of Christmas, we had done it all in one day.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Another day of the UNICRI Knowledge Management System meetings. We were finished and back at the hotel by 3:00, in time for a nice lie-down. At 5:00 the bus picked us up and we headed out for a tour of the city before winding our way up one of the highest hills in town with wonderful vistas even with cloudy, cool weather. At the top was the Basilica di Superga.

Turn around and there's a magnificent view of the city with the Po River running through it. Alas, the day has been cloudy with a bit of rain. Here's Schlepp and Laura, our workshop coordinator, who did such a great job of feeding us, arranging for buses and airport shuttles, and generally keeping everything moving smartly.

Afterwards we made our way to the nearby Trattoria Bel Deuit where we enjoyed the local wines and again many, many courses. After finishing the meal, there was of course, espresso (no cappucino after 10:00 AM!).

The drive down was in the fog, which made the blind curves all the more fun. Here we are loading onto the bus, which gives you an idea of the visibility. Lower down the mountain things improved considerably as you can see here on YouTube.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Arrival in Turin

Twenty four hours after leaving Albuquerque, Schlepp is in Italy. It was a long but uneventful trip. Got to the strangely named "Jolly Hotel" around 4:00 PM European time. After a brief lie down, it was still sunny outside, so we took a walk, had our first gelato, and basically tried to keep from falling asleep too early.

Here's a chocolate gelato, before...

and after...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Travel Schlepp on the Road Again

Travel Schlepp and his human, Karl, are off on another jaunt this week. Monday they leave for Turin, Italy via Delta Airlines, Cincinnati, and Paris. It promises to be one of those weeks with little free time and more hours spent in airplanes than in meetings.
Turin looks to be a beautiful city full of cathedrals, ancient architecture, and historic facades. More importantly, it is the birthplace of solid chocolate. Schlepp's entire Tai Chi class is eagerly awaiting Karl's return with a suitcase full of Italian chocolate.

This trip is to attend a meeting with the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Institute (UNICRI). Although a small agency, they work hard to stop illegal activities like drug smuggling, slavery, and the illicit transport of chemical-biological-radiological-nuclear weapon and equipment. The conference is a kickoff meeting regarding their knowledge management system, which will likely be built upon a Plone framework. For now though, its a time to listen and to understand their needs--what they need to do to accomplish their mission.

Its a little scary for Schlepp--the last time Karl and he did a knowledge management workshop, it was in Bonn, Germany... Sept. 10-12, 2001. Knowledge management will always be linked with 9-11 and the awful events of that day.

As a side note, Terrance is doing fine, wandering about mostly in the Vinca. Yesterday he happily snacked on some shrimp we left out for him. He has such refined tastes.