Thursday, September 22, 2016

Trip To Kansas City

(Barbara Lane posted about Winstead's a famous drive up restaurant that has survived decades.  Barbara, I just want you to know I saw your comment after posting the blog and want to tell you I had breakfast there!  Great as always!)

Visits home come with baggage.  Lots of memories both good and bad.  This trip will probably be the last one for quite some time.  It was fun and there is nothing like seeing family.  That said, Kansas City has nothing to offer me anymore.  I guess 40 years and the passing of time takes its toll.   My little brother still lives there and a sister leaves about two hours away.  Out of ten kids most are spread around the U.S. and getting them together is a real chore and one that no one seems to want to tackle anymore.  

My brother and his wife from Hawaii came into town for a few weeks.  They'll be visiting friends, family and also taking a side trip to Winnipeg.   My cousin Marian lives in Winnipeg and will be moving to Massachusetts just before winter sets in.   We went out for dinner along with a long-time family friend.   I was able to visit with my brother and his wife several times.  They stayed at the hotel next door.  

My oldest nephew and his wife are die hard Royals fans.   She's a head nurse and he is a teacher at the University of Missouri.  There son is 14 and a freshman in high school.  He's into robotics and loves his video game.  In the picture below you can see from l to r my godson from Germany, my little brother, nephew, his mother and yours truly!  They like Mexican food and wanted to take me to an authentic Mexican restaurant.  Well, it was Mexican, but it was more like TexMex.  Very good food no doubt.  I loved the enchiladas.  

Seeing family was fun and I'm glad I had the opportunity to make a stop off after my course from Pennsylvania.  Part of the trip was paid for and made it easier to stay for more than a couple of days.  I had a nice hotel on the Country Club Plaza although it has become very expensive.   This is an excerpt from the history of the Plaza:

The Country Club Plaza (often referred to as The Plaza) is a privately owned American shopping center in the Country Club District of Kansas CityMissouri.
The center consists of 18 separate buildings representing 804,000 square feet of retail space and 468,000 square feet of office space.[1] The standalone buildings are built in a distinctive Seville Spain theme and are on different blocks mostly west of Main Street and mostly north of Brush Creek and blends into the Country Club neighborhood around it and the whole area is often simply called the "The Plaza."
It was the first shopping center in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile.
We live a few blocks from here and I spent many a summer hanging out, walking around, rebel rousing and having a coke and a smoke.  It has changed quite a bit but for the better.  It is much more of an upper-class shopping area than it was back in the day.  The surrounding apartment towers are now tony condos for the up and coming in the city.  Breakfast and lunch out and evenings at cocktail bars are all the in thing there now. 

One thing that isn't mentioned in the above about is that the Kansas City and the Plaza are known as the city of fountains.  Here are just a few.  Funny that they are mostly nudes for a place built in the 20s and in the Midwest to boot.  

I guess it would be a great place to spend a few days but it just seems like the city is empty.  No one on the streets and people certainly don't do much walking.  My little brother and I went downtown to the city market which like everything else has turned into a posh place to eat and buy produce.   The Steamboat Arabia is also housed down by the river.  The steamboat sank in the Missouri river in the mid 1800s and was found 30 years ago buried in a cornfield as the river had shifted its course over the years.  Arabia was a cargo ship and was loaded with goods.  They were amazingly preserved and a museum was open which as I said houses the remains of the ship as well as store fronts that stock all of the products, clothing, jarred foods, hardware and more.   It's truly like walking back in time.

Well, my time came to an end on Tuesday as I had rental car with a weekend price.  I think I mentioned the fact that the four-day weekend was at $9 a day but had I kept the car until then next day the total would have come to $350.  I found an economy hotel a mile from the airport with shuttle service.  I dropped off the car in the late afternoon, they picked me up and took me to the hotel.  The next morning bright and early at 4 a.m. they took me back to catch my flight.  I hope it's true that TSA may be replaced by something else.  What a waste of energy and time.  The took my bag for inspection but piddled around for 15 minutes before inspecting it.  I made it to the plane (less than 30 meters away) before they closed the door.  They announced a 3 minute warning before closing the door and the TSA said, "well, that happens".  They didn't give a rat's behind.

I just had to post this pic of a Kansas City policeman on patrol at the airport.  God forbid there was an emergency, he'd never make it.  Too bad you can't see his front side.

Friday, September 16, 2016

U.S. Immigration - Your Not Going To Believe What I Say

Yesterday was a travel day.  I went from Monterrey, Houston, Chicago and into Harrisburg.  Then a rental car to Reading (pronounced Redding).  

In Houston it was a mad dash to get through immigration and on my flight to Chicago.  All my flight were tight and there was little room for tolerance.   First off, there was a struggle between gate agents and maintenance over who was responsible for moving the sky way to the plane's door. 

Finally got and the dash to immigration was on.  As we headed down the terminal which is a long and winding road, a 747 unloaded 300 people from China.  Running, running, I got there and to my surprise the system in Houston has been streamlined.  You go to a kiosk, scan your passport, enter your flight number and airline.  It prints out a slip with your picture on it and off you go.  There was no waiting and the immigration agents were very very friendly.   I wonder if the Obama administration has had something to do with it.

Anyway, it's 5:30 EDT and I'm getting ready to go to the high school.  I always drive by at night so I won't get mislead by the GPS or directions.   It's 10 minutes from here.  That's what you get when you make your own reservations.  Usually I end up 45 minutes away when the office makes the reservations.  The system, Concur, is a great online reservation system for everything I do.  I'm glad the company implemented it.

Tonight, off to Kansas City.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Off To Pennsylania - Then, A Family Visit

I'm off for West Lawn, PA tomorrow morning.  The flight leaves very early in the morning and I would have to get up at 3 a.m. to get to the airport to meet the U.S. airline requirements.  I have accumulated a lot of points.  I didn't want to leave the car at the airport so I am staying at a Holiday Inn at the airport.  No cost and I have the points.  It worked out well and there was a great manager's happy hour too.  

The shuttle leaves every thirty minutes so I can sleep in and not have to have Juan take me to the airport.  Tomorrow is a long travel day with stops in Houston, Chicago and then to Harrisburg.

Today was an Independence Day celebration.  Times have changed.  Friday is a national holiday so they decided to have the event today.  Why?  It it were tomorrow no one would show up as they are off on Friday.   Sad but parents take their kids out of school to go on a three-day weekend.

I'm excited to be visiting my family in Kansas City.   There is a shindig on Sunday the 24th with more family but I can't stay that long.  Too much to do and I need to get back home.  I'll come back home very early Wednesday morning.  I'll get to see a brother from Hawaii, my godson from Germany, my little bro, some nieces and nephews and an adopted sister  (she's really my sister-in-laws sister but we always have thought of her as a sister). 

Not sure who else I'll see but I am looking forward to four days of visits.  I got a great deal on a car at $9 a day.  Considering there is a huge event in K.C. this weekend and rates were going as high as $350 for a week.  I held out thinking worse case I could use Uber.   This worked out well.  Also, I found a promo after making a reservation at Extended Stay on the Plaza.  I called them two days later and they honored it.  $99 off the four nights.  Pretty good!

If you don't know what the Country Club Plaza is, check it out.  Also, check for Kansas City, the City of Fountains.  I'll be posting pictures along the way.

Friday, September 9, 2016

My Job Isn't Always Glamorous

We almost took the rv out for the weekend.   However, something came up and made it impossible.  Besides that, it's a bitch to get the rv back to the house on a Sunday afternoon because of traffic from the highway.

I was in Mexico City again this week for two days.  I know I travel a lot, visit great places and sometimes have the opportunity to enjoy it.   The next two months will bring me quite a bit of stress but not in a negative way.

One thing I do and I don't talk much about it, is create commercial presentations for new texts.  When I do this, my work is scrutinized by publishing editors.  They're tigers and are eager to tear you to pieces.  They have to.  It's their job.   I have been working on this project for the last eight months from bringing U.S. materials to Mexico and now adapting some of those materials to form new materials for the Mexican market.  I don't do the writing but I am always asked for feedback and once the material is ready I work on creating the commercial presentation.  It's not easy because it has to attract academics but at the same time sell materials.

I've submitted my work today in the form of what we call a rough draft although it is in presentation form.  Not complete, lacking original artwork from the publisher, I am awaiting their response to see if we are on the right track.  The email is sitting in my inbox as we speak but I never read these mails by myself.  Being very sensitive, I take my work seriously as I am an educator and not a salesperson.  The end user is my personal and professional goal.

Tonight we will read that mail and I will work from there.  It always works out but the criticism can be hard to swallow.   This time around I made it clear that we do three drafts with immediate feedback.  We'll see what happens.

Thursday I fly to Pennsylvania to teach a course and then four days visiting my family in Kansas City.  After, I have two weeks to finish the project and prepare for a company kick off where I will present the new material.  If all goes well, it will be presented at the national convention which this year takes place in Monterrey.