Traveller T Shirt

July 7, 2007

Tavel T shirt Andy sent me a link to this shirt, knowing I’d like it. He was right. :)

I had a similar idea for a visual phrase book, but it never moved past the conceptual stage. I always found it easier to pantomime when I was unable to communicate verbally. I’d place the palms of my hands together, bring them to the side of my head and tilt slightly to the right, in what seems to be a universal symbol of sleep. Then I put my arms to my side with my palms up, lift my shoulders, open my eyes wide and perhaps and shake my head gently. This is seems to be a pretty universal look for bewilderment that conveys the “where?” effectively. The result usually involved pointing or a follow me gesture and worked as often as needed. While figuring out food and bathroom pantomime should be an easy exercise for the reader, what I found hard to convey (on more than one occasion, but most memorably in a small town in Tibet) was my effort to pantomime “where can I buy additional credit for my prepaid local sim card for my cell phone”. This precise message was pretty hard to convey even when I had the cell phone in hand and could point at the sim card, but I hadn’t remembered to bring the phone with me that day. Before giving up, I followed a nice man 2 blocks to his shop where he offered the use of his land line, I was directed to an electronics store (that didn’t even sell phones), offered the use of a passerby’s mobile phone, and sent to a store that looked very promising, but in in the end only sold calling cards not mobile phone recharge cards.

But back to the shirt. Besides the difficulty in asking where to do your laundry when the shirt is dirty, I think it has one additional problem. The envelope icon could get you either a post office or an internet cafe depending on the country, and perhaps the age of the person being asked. If it is an internet cafe you want, I’d suggest a keyboard or perhaps a mouse as an icon.

African Aid

June 27, 2007

Boy drinks waterI have been hunkered down working on a new start up, that I’ll tell you all about shortly, but in the mean time I have been reading Marc Andreessen’s blog. It is mostly about entrepreneurship and start ups, but he featured an interview about African Aid (and what a disaster it is). The interview really captured everything I saw in my 4 months in Africa. It is highly recommended reading.

How many countries have you visted?

May 19, 2007

A lot of people ask me how many countries I have been to and I wasn’t exactly sure. I have tried hard not to be a country counter, I like to visit a place and get to know it rather than just getting the stamp in my passport and moving on. I do however love quantification, so I figured I’d take a pass at counting. I might have missed a few, but I think this is a pretty complete list:

I have passed though immigration in the following 44 countries:
Netherlands Antilles
South Africa
St. Kitts and Nevis
United States
United Kingdom

I have also been to all of the following places, some of which required passports, visas or travel permits, and which some people consider to be countries:
Puerto Rico (United States)
San Blas, Kuna Islands (Panama)
Hong Kong (China)
Macao (China)
Tibet (China)

If I were just trying to run up the count, I’d mention that I’ve changed planes or had some equally insignificant contact (like stopping for lunch on the river bank or visiting the intersection of three countries) in all of the following and probably a few more:
New Zealand
S. Korea
Zimbabwe (we chose not to enter to avoid giving Mugabe our money)

You can create your own visited countries map too.

So where have you been?

Another Entrepreneur on the road

As you know I am back in the US of A, but another entrepreneur I know is on the road. You can read about his trip if I am getting too domestic.

Thank you my mystery benefactor

Omaha SteaksWe are still working on getting everything set up in our new home, but the walls have been painted and the floors have been oiled. My new TV has arrived, along with cable and Internet access - in fact I am writing this message on our new Internet connection! Additionally, some very nice and considerate people have been sending gifts. I love gifts and always try to thank my benefactors. In fact I’ll take this opportunity to thank Julie and Seth for the terrific plants. They look great and make the place feel like home. My parents share my love of flowers and have filled the place with fresh flowers that make me smile every time I see them.

Along with all these goodies came a very generous package of Omaha Steaks too, but there was no note or card. We called Omaha Steaks to find out whom to thank, but that said they could not give out the name of the sender with out permission. They put us on hold and call to try and get permission, but were only able to leave a voice mail message. So, generous benefactor, please claim your due thanks! We grilled some steaks tonight and really enjoyed them.

If you were not the sender of steaks but would like to be thanked for sending something nice, or more likely if you’d just like to update your records, our new address is:

Meet Mr. Lieberman

May 11, 2007

Our new houseI just bought a new house in San Diego and I am really excited. I should be fully moved in by the end of this month. A few months after that, I should even have some furniture. I have been learning all sorts of things related to home ownership and I have started to meet the neighbors.

The other night I met a nice family that lives nearby. I introduced myself as Jonathan, and the parents introduced themselves and their children, but the parents said they would prefer if the kids called us Mr. and Mrs., was that OK with us? I thought sure, what do I care…

But then when their daughter said “Good night Mrs. Lieberman,” and I was confused… When did my mom get here? Mrs. Lieberman is is my mother, not my wife, or so it has been up until today. Even though I have lots of friends with kids, they are mostly too young to call me much of anything, so this hasn’t really come up before.

As a kid I remember calling many adults Mr. and Mrs., but it sure feels weird to hear kids refer to me that way now.

But back to the house! Please do come and visit, the weather is pretty darn near perfect and you can walk to the beach. We love guests, we have plenty of room and comfortable guest accommodations.

Registerfly in the ointment

May 8, 2007

Piss on registerflyMore than one loyal reader has asked me, “What the hell happened to the site?”

Register Fly happened! Register Fly was the Registrar I used to register my domain. There is a whole big scandal about the Register Fly exec who was alleged to have spent registration fees on hookers and a $6000 dog, but I cared more about the domains I had (and lost) with them. Their list of woes is long, but in short-I paid to renew names, but they didn’t renew them, I tried to transfer names, but they made it impossible. Such was the fate of I could not transfer the site, I could not renew the site, the site expired and served up crappy ads. Of course no one at Register Fly answers support requests or even picks up the phone.

When my site went down, in desperation, I hired some guy I found on a message board. I knew nothing about him, but I happily gave him my Register Fly account and paid him nearly $250. He transferred 16 domains that I had been unable to get from Register Fly, and after a week managed to save this site, which had expired! It was ridiculous to have to pay to get my own domains back, but I was glad to do it. I had spent weeks and had only been able to transfer 60% of my domains.

I am still stuck over $350 more dollars of useless “Register Fly credit” that I can neither get back nor buy anything with. I still have one domain in process, but I am almost done with the bums.

Here is more information on Register Fly and the class action suit.

Planet Ho - What happens in Vegas…

April 5, 2007

Planet HoWhat happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Vegas is, after all, home to the only Playboy Club in the world and countless strip clubs, but “Planet Ho”? That seems like it is going to far. I mean for a major strip resort to have a “Ho” theme. I guess Vegas really isn’t for families any more.

Planet HoKidding aside, I am in Las Vegas for a quick SPG run to keep my Status and I am staying at the Aladdin / Planet Hollywood resort, where they are still in the process of changing the signage. I thought I’d take advantage of the work in progress for some fun. Here is a nice night shot of Belagio and Paris from my window.

Airline Compplaints

April 4, 2007

Air planeThanks to the smarter travel blogI still have my half written Thailand stories coming, but in the meantime… I saw a recent story from USA Today about Airline Quality based on user complaints. Many other news sources have picked up on it particularly the bit about United and US Air having lots more complaints than Southwest:

“Southwest Airlines had the lowest consumer complaint rate, with 0.18 per 100,000 passengers. United and US Airways had the highest, both with 1.36.” This may be true, but I suspect a selection bias in the fliers as well as a lack of controlling for the weather. I posit that people flying Southwest are: A) Less likely to be experienced business travelers that know how/what to complain about. B) More likely to be cost conscious consumers who will suffer the ever increasing indignities of travel silently. C) Like Hawaiian air (the carrier with the least complaints) Southwest flies routes that have warmer weather and less precipitation.

If you do want to complain about an Airline the WSJ column The Middle Seat Why It Makes Sense To Contact the DOT March 27, 2007; Page D3 points out that “Some airlines admit they do pay more attention to consumer complaints if travelers send them to the DOT, which categorizes and tallies complaints and publishes monthly rankings of airline performance.”

You can complain at: or by calling the DOT at 202-366-2220 where complaints can be recorded. If you are lucky you’ll get a $25.00 coupon for your next flight that costs $400 or more, that you can use only at a ticket counter in the airport. Lucky you!

Where would you like to go?

March 28, 2007

I have been sorting pictures, buying a house and generally dealing with life after travel, but I hope to begin posting again shortly. In the meantime tell me where you want to go:

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