Commentary: Open your minds, America –

Commentary: Open your minds, America –

Just read some thoughts about the debate about health care at the link above, and I have to say, I don’t think the scope is limited to the health care debate.  I am reminded about arguments even within my extended family (so far, the immediate family seems pretty unanimous — but then, we haven’t discussed everything) of the recent political past.

On the other hand, I also remember eavesdropping on the “my country right or wrong” arguments between my mother and great-grandfather back in the ’80s.

What do you think? Was there a time in our collective past when it was not so terrible to consciously change one’s mind on an important and meaningful topic? If we’ve lost that ability (if we even ever had it…), how can we get it back?

We need it, don’t we?

Travel Deals

I seem to get flooded with travel bargain e-mails on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I’ll scan them and post the most interesting-looking ones. Airfare deals tend to be my focus, but I’ll keep an eye out for hotel/rental car/cruise offers as well.


They’re having an Adventskalender sale event. Everyday a new deal, looks like a lot of 2-for-1 ticket bargains. We really like AirBerlin – no frills, but the fares tend to be reasonable and Nürnberg is a hub for them, so you can get to nearly all of their destinations from there. And the Nürnberg airport is very quiet and very accessible, even if you don’t have a car. Look at each day for the terms & conditions (travel period, booking period, etc.).

British Airways

Fare and hotel sales available here. This looks helpful for long-haul flights. The prices listed on the page reflect roundtrip fares from Hamburg, so the prices will fluctuate for flights originating from different German airports. Booking period is Nov. 27 – Dec. 8 and travel period ranges from Nov. 27 to Mar. 31 2009. I have no complaints about BA, other than the high probability of having to transfer at Heathrow (*gack!*).

Corinthia Towers Hotel

Going to Prague anytime soon? Maybe you should, because you can stay at this very swanky joint for only 70€/night. Corinthia is part of the Wyndham chain and they’re pretty nice – in the same league as Hyatt or Westin. The info page from Travelzoo is a little more forthcoming about the terms than the hotel booking page itself. You have to book by Dec. 17, there are blackout dates on Dec. 31 and Jan. 15-16 and the deal is good until Feb. 28. Unfortunately, I can’t see when the beginning of the stay period is. You might have to figure that out via trial and error on the hotel’s site.

Those look like the best picks to me. Got any tips on other sweet deals? Please feel free to post them in comments! I love finding out about other people’s favorite travel resources.

Skiing Recommendations?

We are thinking about perhaps doing some skiing in February. I’ve never actually skied before – just tagged along with others – but we’ve been twice now to Zell am See in Austria. It was nice, but we’d like to explore a different area. And with potential visitors for winter, we’d like to have a variety of options.

Does anyone have suggestions for somewhere else to ski, preferably in Germany, Austria, Italy or France? We like Switzerland, but having to change currencies is a bit of a downer. Tell us your European ski stories!

the IRL meetup

Tonight we met the Eurotrippens. They are really cool people.

One thing we Sarah noticed: they are the first American couple we have ever met over here where both parties are American. I thought that couldn’t be true when she first said it, but when I think about everyone else from our budding little ex-pat community in Regensburg (thanks go to Christina for her organizational efforts), they’re all not a couple, or not both American.

One thing I noticed: meeting people in real life, with whom our first contact was via our blogs or other websites (or, in our case, a BBS) has been a singularly cool experience, every time.

In roughly chronological order:

  1. Sarah (homerun on the first at-bat!)
  2. Miss-Efficiency and her husband via BookCrossing
  3. Zmrzlina via BookCrossing
  4. Ron & Kaori via BookCrossing
  5. a bunch of German bookcrossers at various meetups
  6. Margot and Nick, indirectly via BookCrossing
  7. Christina and Rainer
  8. and now B and Jim

Are we just lucky? Or are you all as thrilled with your on-line meetups as we are? You can post anonymously if you want.

Vacancy *blink* Vacancy

If anyone is considering a European trip this year and you want to come see us, please let us know relatively soon. We already have one definite set of guests (hi Mom & Dad!) and two more tentative pairs of visitors. We don’t need your completed itinerary; just drop us an e-mail or comment here on the blog if you’ve considering coming to our neck of the woods. We like aiding in travel planning and having some kind of heads-up will allow us to get an idea of our schedule over the next few months.

international justice and family surprises

I just found out my cousin is also overseas doing some important, meaningful, helpful work with the International Justice Mission. I knew she’d traveled a lot in college, but I didn’t know she got a MSW or was into that sort of thing at all, really. I think that’s very, very cool.

What kind of neat stuff have you learned about your family lately?

travel jonesin’ some more

So this is going to be a very travelly Fall for us. We’re looking forward to that after having not traveled pretty much at all since [our roadtrip in May]( “France isn’t such a stuck-up place after all”).

    We’ve got

  • Mikey in the headlightsa visit from Brian and Mikey from K.C. coming up at the end of the this month, in which we’ll do a small roadtrip down to Innsbruck, Austria and continue on to Lake Garda, Italy
  • click it for a big ol' imageNate and Carrie’s wedding to attend in Michigan in October
  • Carolyn and Max’s trip over Thanksgiving week, in which we’ll train it to Salzburg, catch the Sound of Music Tour, train it further on to Vienna, hang out there a couple of nights, and fly back to Nuremberg on AirBerlin.

But that’s not really enough, is it? There are **four** months left in this year, and we’ve only got trips planned for **three** of them. What a *Schande!* Plus, I got a mandate from my boss earlier this month to chop down my overtime hours as much as possible by end the end of the year.

Sounds like the perfect opportunity for a 10-day cruise in December. Check these details out:

Can you think of any reason not to do this? Price seems great, destinations seem nice. The only possible snag might be getting to and from Savona, Italy, but I figure we could train it (overnight) or fly to Genoa or maybe even fly it one way and train it the other way. Seems too good to pass up.

Can someone please explain to me again why gun control is not a good idea?

I read this story on ISCABBS this morning and couldn’t help but wonder how the anti-gun control advocates can justify letting the Freak of the Week (such as this prize specimen) keep a firearm and not tell anyone about it.

Maybe a right-winger’s response to this kind of incident would be something like “well, sure, there are the occasional nut-jobs, but this guy’s looniness should not be allowed to infringe on my sacred gun-toting rights.” But then I have to ask:

Should the deciding factor in the question of whether an individual be allowed to possess a firearm really be “how often has this person shot at innocent people (whether or not they are public safety workers)”?

Put another way: we do we wait for a (near-)tragedy before taking someone’s guns away?

Do you shop online? Everytime I do, it just about kills me.

I tend to be a big fan of shopping online, especially for dorky things like computers and cell phones and sidekicks and palmOS devices, but everytime I do, I think the anticipation is going to kill me and I promise myself that this time I’ve learned that it’s not worth it and next time I’ll just buy at a store and spend the five bucks more in order to save myself the shakes and hives and teeth gritting that comes from not having what is rightfully mine since I’ve already paid for it, dang it!

So, here’s the backstory:

I bought this computer online at on the evening of June 28. On June 30, gave me a shipping confirmation and payment receipt and an estimated delivery date of July 5-6. I bought this computer through but actually *from* one of the merchants in their zShops. Then on July 5 I got a payment confirmation from (the zShops merchant). That annoyed me somewhat, because I thought it’d already been in transit for 5 days at that point. Then on July 6 I got a shipping confirmation from them. “Great,” I thought to myself, “it’s already supposed to **be here** by now!” Then later on the afternoon of July 6, I got a note from the company stating that they were about to mistakenly ship me the wrong model, because that’s what their supplier sent them by mistake. They wanted confirmation from me that it was OK to ship this wrong model to me instead of the one that I ordered. The “wrong model” is actually more expensive and has a nicer display (at least according to the spec sheets I found online), but it’s another delay in the whole getting-Cliff’s-new-computer-to-him chain. But I’m getting a nicer computer for the same price, so I can’t really carp about it.

But I want it **now**, and it was supposed to be here by **now**!

(I know, I know…”somebody call the whaaaaambulance.”)