RTW01 1980-81

In 1980, my company, NCR Comten, sent me to NCR Japan for software support of the first installations of our Networking Communications Processor.  Recently, a reply to my comment in Cook the Beans blog reminded me of that trip and my visit to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, East Malaysia on the island of Borneo in 1981.  This was one episode of that first trip aRound The World (RTW). This brings me back to the original idea of this blog to reflect on journeys and paths that brought me here.

I saved the diaries of my travels during those times for many years.  With our moving on, I wrote up some summaries and highlights and saved on Google Drive.  Much of the information written was technical notes and contacts.  Certain parts of that fourteen month trip are very vivid; other parts are just a mesh of several trips through the same areas.  My notes suggest I left Minnesota around 1 October 1980 and returned to my parents home for Thanksgiving in late November 1981.  Unfortunately, only a few blurry pictures and some scraps of mementos remain from that trip.  The many transitions of life and work resulted in a box or two purloined in various archives and the dumpsters of life, later to be left for collection at the side of the road.

Collecting and Collating digital searches, memories, and artifacts for this post reminded me of several amazing coincidences and connections that played out over the years.

First, a link to the itinerary contains a few notes gleaned from my diaries.  It’s a placeholder for my memory as details begin to fade.  The experience was so new and fresh, I never expected the frustrations trying to remember details today.

Itinerary RTW 1980-81

Itinerary1980-81

Here is the list of cities I visited in approximate order.

St. Paul, MN; Tokyo, Japan; Nikko, Japan; Yokohama, Japan; Kyoto, Japan; Kamikura, Japan; Busan, Korea; Seoul, Korea; Taipei, Taiwan; Hongkong; Macao; Manila, Philippines; Batangas, Philippines; Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia; Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei; Singapore; Melaka, Malaysia; Georgetown and Penang, Malaysia; Bangkok, Thailand; Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar); Rome, Italy; London, UK; Paris, France; Milan, Italy; Belfort, France; Bitche, France; Basel, Switzerland; Mont Saint-Michel, France; Cherbourg, France; Windom, MN

Three artifacts:

Three meetings:

The hardware tech assigned to NCR Japan was Sanford “Charlie” Brown.  After Japan, we worked together in South America, New Zealand, and SE Asia. Our paths still cross.  He taught me how to wirewrap.

In a Singapore hostel shared breakfast table with sisters Bea and Ev from France.  Years later they would pick me up from Luxembourg airport after spending ten days crossing the Soviet Union.

Anura Guruge at ICI UK.  He sent me to consult in Paris and Milan on a remote printer problem.  Some years later, I would find and read his first book, SNA Theory and Practice, in the NCR Japan technical library.  Some years after that, I would work with Lisa Lindgren an associate of Guruge’s consultancy.

Three things learned

Don’t be surprised.  Different cultures, different languages, different circumstances all have their ways of dealing with the situation of the moment.  Some of these will be completely different to what you might find usual.  Observe and Appreciate.

Grammar and Language: “Order word not necessary is.” Along with: “Verbs not necessary.”

In those days, I could live in Melaka, Malaysia for U$S 3 / day.  Knowing that, I only worked for fun from then on. I always knew that I did not have to put up with a bad job after that.

Here is the full map thanks to Google:

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In the years that followed, I circumnavigated (both westward and eastward) the earth many times providing onsite computer networking support.  There were some trips to South America and to Africa.  The type of technical career I did no longer exists.  In the past years, we have deviated from the original route more and more as we have free time to venture to different countries.  Here is my TripAdvisor Map:

TripAdvisorMap

Glimpses of Central America

Here’s a map (thanks to Google) that shows our two month journey pretty accurately through Central America.  The Blue line follows the buses overland traveling up from Panama to Belize, the orange line is the flight back from Belize to Panama at the end.

Route

There is no way I can condense all the feelings, all the surprises, all the vistas in this adventure. I rode in colectivo buses, called chicken buses, truck beds, motorcycles, tuctucs, taxis, and eight different long distance buses (but never Tica Bus).  Colectivos are almost like taking the school bus in Windom, MN, except friendlier and more interesting luggage. I lived in a tree house (see the banner). Hurricane Earl passed overhead in Belize. There were beaches and volcanoes, churches and Maya ruins, Central Markets and festivals. I ate pelibuey, rabbit, ceviche,  tripe, ants, and drank lots of local coffee. Technically, these photos were taken with an iPhone 5 and a few with an iPad 3.


The mapping applications get better and better. I took a 6 km hike from Juayua to Nahuizalco through back paths between coffee plantations. I tried to follow electric lines but relied on a couple of Map applications.  Besides Google maps, I use Ulmon CityMaps2Go and Maps.Me


Here are some places I stayed. They might not be for everyone, but provided me with many nice perspectives.  The link connects to the page in Trip Advisor:

Tegucigalpa, Honduras: La Ronda Hostel

San Salvador, El Salvador: EC Tours and  Ali’s Guest House

Juayua, El Salvador: Casa Mazeta

Santa Ana, El Salvador: Hostal Casa Verde

Las Flores, Guatemala: La Casa el Lacandon

San Benito, Guatemala: Buenas Cosas (Off the tripadvisor path)

Belmopan, Belize: Hacienda Tropical

(note: Wife and I started this trip together.  In Managua, she had to take a slight detour through Malaysia to assist her family. Much of this trip was already booked, so I continued on, providing her a vicarious experience.  We are meeting up on the next leg of the journey.)

 

Panama: Three Things

We spent almost a week in Panama, flying from Barcelona via Frankfurt on Lufthansa.

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Over the Alps

We did three really touristy things that every traveler should see.  Rather than do it all in a day on a tour bus, we went by ourselves on local transport.  The links in this list open to tripadvisor.com pages where you might find my reviews for more details.

  1. Old City called Casco Viejo, views from the rooftop of our apartment.
  2. Panama Canal, specifically the Miraflores locks.
  3. Panama Canal Railway.

The way we went about planning this, getting directions from locals, and actually boarding the local buses gave us many insights to life in Panama.

Here are three things I have always known about Panama:

  • The way the Central American Isthmus bends in Panama, the Pacific Ocean is in the East and the Caribbean Sea/Atlantic Ocean is in the West.
  • S. I. Hayakawa summarized a century of American Policy in Central America with this quote, “We should keep [the Panama Canal]. After all, we stole it fair and square.”

  • “A man, a plan, a canal – Panama” is a Palindrome (reads the same left or right).

I had some problem getting my reviews accepted by Trip Advisor.  I described how to access these activities using local transport at local prices instead of a more expensive (albeit more personalized) tour operator.  It’s understandable since Trip Advisor receives advertising revenue from the operators.

Between Abu Dhabi and the Pakistan Frontier

Here are the results of my experimenting with iPad photos from inside an airplane.  I chose our seats in the rear and on the left side away from the sun on our flight from Abu Dhabi to New Delhi. Once we made landfall after crossing the Persian Gulf, we were greeted by the stark desert landscapes of Southern Iran and Western Pakistan.  Someday, when peace and harmony are the norm, it will be an amazing journey crossing overland through this wilderness.  Until then, I must be satisfied with these photos.

Along the coast of the UAE

   

The things we carried

The author Tim O’Brien grew up in Worthington, MN thirty miles from my home town. Three years older than I, our paths never crossed.  I read his original short story, “The Things They Carried,” in the summer fiction issue of Esquire Magazine.  It provides a personal glimpse of soldiers’ lives in Vietnam. I reread the book of short stories by the same name several times. One time for an anthropology class on artifacts and another time when it was assigned reading in one of Daughter’s classes.

Our life and travel seems to have transitioned during our two day stopover in Abu Dhabi.  After almost six months in Europe and european Asia, we now find ourselves in the humble jumble of Indian life. To mark this change, I reviewed everything I packed back in July.  I found seven items that were never used, not even once.

As expected, there’s technical stuff for computers: USB hub, memory card adapter, Chinese nintendo cartridge.  We didn’t have to open any cans nor measure anything. The folding scissors turns out to be redundant as we have a sewing kit and a multitool. The bombiila (metal straw with filter end for drinking loose leaf tea) represents the few things that were just too hard to give away. When we downsized, it was easy to give up books that could be replaced electronically if I really desired to read them again. The treasures that were unique and found in uncommon lands held the strongest grip on me.

These artifacts help me put in perspective what really is necessary for living. Some things that accompany us were just too new to discard.  Now, they are used and have served a purpose. I’m glad I had them but happy to move on. The adventure continues.

Grateful for the Technology

Sometimes there are advancements in technology that filter down to the consumer that simply astonish me. Here are a few that make me stand in awe.

Google Translate
We are in Batumi, Georgia and the clothes washer is in Russian. Using the scan option in google translate, I am seeing translations immediately without having to retype.

Washing Machine
Washing Machine in Russian
Washing Machine EN
Washing Machine in Russian, magically translated as I watch, the light purple decodes as: START and PAUSA.

Wunderground Weather Map

Georgia Weather
Up to the minute weather in Georgia, Armenia and other republics

Google Maps work in a bus and a taxi.

Google maps work even if wireless card plan not activated.
I have a SIM card from Italy. Here in Georgia, I would need to exchange for a local one to have Internet connectivity. Howerer, just having any SIM card allows Google Maps locate where I am and the streets around me.

My Neighborhood
My Neighborhood

Here are a few scenes from the streets of Batumi

Exactly
Exactly
May26 Park
Our Place in the center, overlooking May 26 Park
Along the Beach
Looking North from the Beach at the Caucasus Mountains.
Valentines Day
One for Valentines Day
Warm Guesthouse
View from Warm Guesthouse

Digital Books / Digital Museums

I have just completed the book, The Museum of Innocence, by the Turkish author and Nobel Prize winner, Orhan Pamuk. This book arrived electronically from the Hennepin County Library. My interest in the narrator is in the descriptions of people and places as he winds his way through our neighborhood in the 1970’s and 80’s. The main character is memorable for his obsessive love of a younger woman and his raki (Turkish brandy) drinking. The only way I can deal with him is by viewing his life as an allegory of Turkish obsession with its national image during political upheavals of that time.

The museum actually exists a short walk from our apartment. The novel contains an admission ticket.

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Since I read it digitally, I only have a digital ticket of admission. So my visit is only through electronic means as you see here.

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Here’s a tour of The Museum of Innocence

Safe in Podgorica with Real Transformers

After other Balkan countries, many travelers have felt a let down on visiting the capital of Montenegro. For me it has been just the opposite. The historical tension of Sarajevo evaporated into relaxed fun of a city that does not take itself too seriously. Perhaps, Podgorica (pronounced Pode, rhymes with rode – Go – Rizza, rhymes with Pizza) has some similarities to Trieste. More importantly, the citizens and visitors are protected by life size transformers. Here are the seven guardians:

Protector of our apartment.

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Parks and Pedestrian areas under control

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Sometimes tourists need to be shaken up a little bit.

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Small or Gigantic, each has a purpose.

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Solar System in Zagreb

The Grounded Sun sculpture by Ivan Kožarić was completed in 1971.  It came to its final location in 1994.  In 2004 Davor Preis complemented it by adding the planets according to scale all around the city.

Grounded Sun by Ivan Kožarić in 1971
Grounded Sun by Ivan Kožarić in 1971

We went on an adventure to see how many we could find, walking and using the trams.  The first one was hard.  We walked around the building several times until a passing local pointed it out.  It was the first time she had ever heard of this project.

Here are our finds:

Mercury
Mercury
Venus
Venus

Earth
Earth

I’m from here; she is too; so are you.

Mars
Mars

Appropriately, Mars is found at a coffee house specializing in sweets.


We looked for Jupiter.  We arrived at one square (Trg in Croatian) only to find we had to continue by bus.  To find Pluto, you need to take a suburban train out a couple of stops and go through an underpass.

It was an interesting experience looking at architecture in a different perspective.  Years ago when M was just learning about space, I made a similar model using the sun as a basketball in the inside court at our Frankfurt apartment on Feuerbachstr.  The outer planets in theory stretched beyond the Deutsche Bank plaza where M practiced bicycle riding on Sundays.

Switzerland, Italy and European Travel

Here is a memory dump of some of the tips and tricks on European travel. These come mainly from my current trip so they are centered around Switzerland and Italy.

First of all the Internet is the go to place for searching and booking travel.

Train / Bus travel between cities

Almost all the train companies and bus companies in Europe have official websites. They usually have several languages, English be the most common alternative. Here are two examples:

Swiss trains

Italian trains

For Buses, my favorite website is:

Eurolines buses

Eurolines just goes all over the place.  These long distance buses result in some off hour departures and arrivals.  Last year in Lithuania we boarded a bus that dropped us off in the evening at Daugapils, Latvia and then continued on to Moscow.

Continue reading “Switzerland, Italy and European Travel”

Wireless / Rootless in Trieste

I use an iPad for my meanderings around the city. Four weeks ago I went to a mobile shop and obtained a pay as you go mini sim using the WIND service. TIM is the other service. It is operated by Telecom Italia (Mobile). The promotion for 6 GB for 15 € (U$S 20) was too good to pass up. It allowed tethering to Wife’s ipad and to the laptop in emergency. At 3G speed, not easy to use up a Gigabyte quickly. Outside on the street, in parks, and in buses, reception is excellent. Inside the apartment is another story. This is an old building with thick walls.

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From our lower floor, this is a view of my wireless access. Sometimes the iPad needs to be held just right to get connectivity. Those sessions remind me of the old days adjusting indoor TV antennas. It adds another dimension to life here.

It makes it easy to get out to see the city. A brisk 20 minute walk from our central location takes us to most of the important areas.

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A. The Pirona bakery and coffee shop frequented by James Joyce.
B. The train station and bus terminal. See my day in Koper or getting things done.
C. Pedestrian street XX Setembre.
D. Grand canal, an Antonio Church, our dentist.
E. Piazza Unita with beautiful views at dusk of the sea and the turn of the century buildings.
F. San Giusto Castle where I have taken many panoramic views.
G. Engelman Garden for some contemplation time.

I might touch all of these in a single day. Maybe, I will start with

un capo in b

at the Pirona:

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How did we decide to come to Trieste? What called us here? We are reading Jan Morris’ Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere. It does not provide any answers. Instead, it leads us to some interesting questions and some interesting personalities. Not only James Joyce looked for inspiration here, so did Sir Richard Burton (the explorer). Mahler, Freud, Casanova, all spent some time here.

Day trip to Koper, Slovenia

This excursion reminded me of changes. The last time I was in Slovenia it was part of Yugoslavia, a million dinar were worth about five dollars. We purchased our tickets for the Trieste – Koper bus yesterday. This morning we boarded and headed south passing some of the same streets as we took to Muggia. After 45 minutes, the bus stopped and everyone got off. Looking around, we seemed to be in the middle of warehouses. With locally provided wi-fi, we discovered that the bus terminal and the train station (A on the map) were at the outskirts. On buying our return tickets to Trieste, we could purchase local bus tickets. Waiting around for something that looked local, we saw a typical city bus pull in. Luckily, it was the terminal stop for the #2 bus so we were able to rush across the lot and board. The bus followed the blue line. We descended at B and followed the green line up to the cathedral and main square at C. Continuing from there we looked for the market. Maps and “In your pocket” guides are not exactly up to date with these smaller cities.

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Following the coast around we viewed the harbor, the yachting area, watched sailing school lessons from the pier, and went to lunch at D. Then an ice cream cone and back up the hill for Coffee and wifi at E.

Times have changed, taking a local bus in the past was really an exciting challenge. Now, with a roaming data plan, I could see right where the best stop for exiting. I am struck at my dependency. I used up my roaming quota and had to follow my nose. Luckily, tourist information still has free maps for the city.

The cool breeze on this cloudy day reminds one of change in seasons. Political and technological winds are in the air, once the magic is in the air, we can only move on, no way to go back. Maybe it is the caffeine writing here.

Two Weeks in Trieste

It is now just over two weeks since we arrived in the Stazione Centrale on the first warm day of the season.  It appears the real summer weather began on our arrival.  The last few days saw thunderstorms and the hot humid air changing to brisk sea breezes.  We are learning more about the city through walks and taking care of the day to day chores.

Trieste looking north towards Dolomites with Castle Miramare (white spot on right)
Trieste looking north towards Dolomites with Castle Miramare (white spot on right)

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Here are yachts reflected in the bay after the Saturday rains.  It has not been all walks and vistas either.

 

Streets down to the bay
Streets down to the bay
Recharging razor batteries
Recharging razor batteries

 

 

 

 

My initial impression was that Trieste was quite flat.  From our central location, we get plenty of aerobic exercise.  Definitely better to head out in the morning during the hot days.

There have been technical adventures too.  My solar energy interest continues and I am staying clean shaven.  No more mustache with freshly charged batteries.  Our kitchen only gets sun from nine to ten.

 

Beyond this, the PC crashed in windows requiring a complete rebuild from the recovery partition.  The worry about choosing the wrong option and losing everything raises the anxiety level.  Over three days, I re-installed apps and verified the recovery.  It looks like nothing was lost.  Nearly everything exists in some form in some network cloud somewhere.  It was nice to not have to recreate from those sources.  Connectivity like the sun is a bit limited by our interior location.

The websites I have found the most useful are those for transportation:

Trieste Buses

Italian Railroads

Switching between the Italian and English pages helps with my vocabulary building.

Ciao amici.

C_in_B (origins)

My brother used the handle “M_of_U” (Master of Universe).  In contrast to what I was feeling as I worked on my Masters degree (2004-2008), I chose C_in_B (Chained in Basement).  My avatar for much of my network presence comes from that time, dark holding a cup with my beloved Uruguayan mate (pronounced with two syllables: mah-teh).

featured on  wired cover 13 june 2007, scanned for facebook on 13 june 2009
I and 4999 others.

This issue of wired appeared in my mailbox in July 2007.  A few months earlier I had seen an offer to send in my picture for an article in the July issue.  I goofed up my email address and did not get the confirmation that I was chosen.  It was pretty surprising to everyone when the issue arrived.  There were 5000 subscribers who received specialized issues showing how future magazines could be individually crafted.

Of course, my thesis for my Masters examined the networked self so as an analogy for the printed work, I am holding my favorite abacas. 

Once I think of better associations for C and B, I will post them in the comments.  Cheers in Belfries.

Linux and Citrix Windows Escape Shortcut

This documents the Ctrl-F2 key Super(Window)-S key to break out of a Windows machine under Citrix and access other Linux Workspaces.

I access a Windows7 virtual PC through Citrix running on my Ubuntu12.04 Linux Desktop.  The Host configuration causes Windows7 to run in full screen mode on one of the Ubuntu Desktops.  The simplest way I found to escape from Citrix/Windows7 control to access Ubuntu workspaces is to first press left Ctrl/F2 together.  Then press the Superkey (Windows logo)/s together.  The Workspace switcher pops up like this:

Screen Shot after Ctrl-F2 / Super-s
Screen Shot after Ctrl-F2 / Super-s

 

Windows7 runs in the upper right workspace.

From here I am free to roam any work space, start other applications, close windows, and so forth by double clicking the appropriate window.  Returning to Windows7 is a simple as accessing the Workspace switcher again and double clicking on the upper right workspace.  I hope this simple trick is useful to you.  Cheers.

I categorize this as travel also because having a virtual Citrix PC at work allows me to connect to work and keep on top of situations while travelling.  I have connected not only sitting in a hotel room but on a bus between Riga and Vilnius.

 

 

A Linux / Citrix / Win7 afternoon hung up with Ctrl-Alt-Del

A dog day afternoon, hot and humid and computer maintenance.  I connected in to my office using Citrix virtual PC under Linux.  I stepped away for awhile and the security setup locked the Windows 7 welcome screen.  I tried all my tricks using Ctrl-F2 and Super keys.  Finally, I discovered a virtual keyboard can be displayed from the welcome screen.  Using that keyboard, I was able to enter the Ctrl-Alt-Del sequence and then my password.  Back in business for another day.

I clicked on the ease of access button at the bottom left, checked the Type without keyboard box, then waited patiently.  After a minute, the virtual keyboard on the right appeared, and I proceeded to mouse-click the Ctrl button, Alt button, and then the Del button revealing the password screen.  Back in business after entering my password.  Since I searched the internet forums in vain for this answer, I will add one more post about Citrix running under Linux.

Win7_unlock

Wifi in her pocket

One exciting aspect of this trip is trying out new technology options. M has wifi in her pocket from TEP Wireless with a wireless hub that allows up to 5 wifi connections. With a couple of discounts and renting for her time in Cambridge came to around U$S 4 per day. It is reasonable fast at 3G but drops to 2G inside the hotel by the airport. She has found it works very well with text apps, blog reading, skype messages, and some facebook.

I have a SIM card from Keep Go for my Ipad. The plan was I would be connected and I would tether K. It is basically a roaming service and once it was installed it did not allow tethering. On the other hand, my Ipad maps are super for getting around the city and following where the buses are going in real time. We have never been lost. I am not familiar with all the different types of SIM cards, so it was a little guessing on making the proper order. Also there was no way to check it out until arrival in the UK. With great relief my Ipad connected while we were waiting to exit the plane at Heathrow.

I will post more on this with some pictures and more reports as we check in with M.