Posts filed under 'US Trip 2014'

LA International Airport…where the big jet engines roar

As I enjoy my coffee and the foggy view while I wait for my next flight which is about two hours away, I’m listening to Glenn Beck on KEIB 1150 AM The Patriot…and at the top of the hour Rush Limbaugh begins.


Life is good.

Now to hit “submit” before the phone battery dies.


February 12th, 2014 at 03:23am


SGS News Alert: Samuel has landed in Los Angeles. At this time he has not been through Customs.

To borrow some lines from Coast To Coast AM’s George Noory “From the city of angels…good morning or good evening wherever you may be”.

Thick fog in LA this morning. Thank the Lord for ILS!


February 12th, 2014 at 01:41am

And so my trip begins

As I write this, I am at Canberra Airport waiting for my flight out of Canberra. The many things I had to do yesterday took longer than expected, but that was mainly because I decided to spend a bit more quality time with Pebbles than I had originally planned…still, it was hard to say goodbye to her this morning and she looked disappointed that I was leaving. I’ll see her on Skype soon enough, and hopefully she’ll recognise me.

In the meantime, my three flights today (in local timezones) are
QF872: Canberra to Sydney 7:30am – 8:25am
QF107: Sydney to Los Angeles 11:55am – 6:30am
QF3219: Los Angeles to San Francisco 10:30am – 11:50am

After this, I should get to Petaluma mid-afternoon, which will be late-morning Wednesday in Canberra. The only downside I see to any of this is that the fantastic Inga Barks is filling in for Mark Levin today between 10am and 1pm Australian time and I won’t be able to listen to much if any of it live.

I have dug out my old iPod and am taking that along as well as my phone. I believe my Sydney to L.A. flight on an A380 has power outlets, but just to be on the safe side, and because my phone eats through battery power much faster than an iPod, I will be using the iPod. I’m not convinced that any of the movies or TV shows available on the plane will interest me much, so I have stocked up on TWiT.TV podcasts This Week In Tech, Security Now, and Windows Weekly, as well as the podcast of Mark Levin’s radio show. Between that and some music and a very good book, I think I’m set…plus I plan on trying to get some sleep on the 14 hour Sydney to L.A. flight.

I was going to embed tracking maps for the flights, but alas that’s more complicated than I had hoped. You should be able to simply enter those flight numbers in to any number of flight tracking websites or apps if you wish to see the progress of my flights.

Over the weekend there was a bit of flash flooding in Petaluma and surrounds, but the rain has now stopped and the rest of the week is looking like it should be reasonably sunny with daytime highs of about 17 Celsius and overnight lows of about 8 Celsius. At this stage it looks like I have a good chance of seeing some snow in the midwest later in the trip.

Now some photos…

Yesterday on my last walk with Pebbles before my absence
Samuel and Pebbles

One of my suitcases is filled with presents for friends in the US. Here’s a sneak peek.
Suitcase of gifts

And I have taken these books with me to the US. I might not get much reading done, but it’s nice to have the option.
Books: Stalling For Time; Liberty And Tyranny; Miracles And Massacres; The Liberty Amendments

Of these, the one I have taken in my carry-on luggage and will endeavour to read some of on the plane is The Liberty Amendments.

Finally for now, some important notes about contacting me during my time away from the US.

My standard Australian mobile numbers 0405 302 499 has been diverted to my Skype service (02 6100 3640) which will in turn divert to my US mobile number (347) 205-5732. Calling one of my Australian numbers will divert at no extra charge to you, although there will be a delay in the call connecting to me (be prepared for ring times of 30 seconds or longer) and the sound quality might be great or awful depending on what sort of day Skype is having…calling my US number directly will cost you more (unless you’re in the US, in which case it is the cheapest option) but it will also have the best results. Note though that I am on holidays, so if I don’t recognise your number, there’s a good chance I’ll be sending you to voicemail.

My email works as normal.

Mail sent to my PO Box will not be seen until I return in mid-March.

With all going well, I will talk to you again after I arrive in Petaluma.


February 11th, 2014 at 06:30am

Less than a day to go!

At this time tomorrow I should be at Sydney Airport, having flown from Canberra, and be awaiting the boarding call for my flight to Los Angeles.

There is quite a bit to do today. Not much of it has to do with preparing for the trip itself as that is mostly taken care of (apart from packing…I still have to pack as I’m not keen on packing well in advance. I know what I want to pack; I just haven’t packed it yet), but instead has to do with ensuring that all of the arrangements for my absence are taken care of…again that is mostly sorted, but I have a few things to do which could not be done until today, so that should keep me busy.

I also have a few blog posts planned for today regarding the preparations for my trip, and an update to the weather forecasts for the trip.

I will also have to spend a decent amount of time playing with Pebbles today. She seems to know that I’m leaving soon and has even taken up sleeping in my room’s doorway, which she has never done before but something which Nattie used to always do when she was still around.

For tomorrow, while I’m in-transit, I was hoping to embed a little map on this page tracking the progress of my flights…alas that is easier said than done. I should be able to provide links to tracking maps though, in case anyone is interested (it’s funny to think that people in Australia could have more knowledge of my exact location than me while I’m in the air). As I won’t be able to embed a tracking map, I will instead try to find time today or tonight to put together a blog post which I have been planning on writing for quite some time, and which should provide you with some interesting information while I’m flying. Time shouldn’t be an issue as I couldn’t sleep much last night and I doubt I’ll be able to sleep at all tonight, so I’ll need something to keep me busy…but we’ll see how I go. I won’t elaborate on what that blog post might be at this point in time as I don’t want to do what I so often manage to do on this blog (and which brings me much guilt): over-promise and under-deliver.

Right now I must go to the post office, so stay tuned for further updates throughout the day.


2 comments February 10th, 2014 at 09:29am

Griffith by-election

An email to 2UE’s George Moore and Paul B. Kidd in regards to the Griffith By-Election where, unfortunately, the brilliant LNP candidate Dr. Bill Glasson looks set to be defeated despite winning first preferences 43.6% to 39.0% (at latest count) over the Labor candidate.

Hi George and Paul,

I feel sorry for Dr. Bill Glasson. He’s a great man who has put in a lot of effort in Griffith and was forced to put in his time and effort a second time by the duplicitous Kevin Rudd taking his bat and ball and going home when he lost the Prime Ministership to Tony Abbott.

Bill would have been a great MP, but I hope that he can now get away from politics and focus on his medical career.

As for preferential voting…what a joke. A system based on the idea that if you can’t get an absolute majority, you have to rely on the preferences of the least popular politicians…in other words a system which favours the supporters of fringe kooks. First preferences should be the only preference…whoever gets the most votes wins, absolute majority or not. It’s the only fair way.


P.S. I’m leaving for the US for a few weeks on Tuesday. I’m looking forward to listening to US talk radio while I’m over there but will be sure to tune in to you as well. Keep an eye out for a postcard!

1 comment February 9th, 2014 at 10:17am

The joys of foreign voltage

One of the more interesting parts of arranging my trip has been what devices will and will not accept the US voltage (they use 110v while Australia uses 240v).

I plan on taking my laptop, phone, camera, electric razor, and electric toothbrush. They (or the more precise, their respective chargers) will all accept 110v except for the toothbrush. Unfortunately finding one in Australia which will accept 110v is quite difficult, and I don’t really like the ones which take AA batteries as they seem to run out of useful power pretty quickly. Taking a heavy and expensive transformer is not feasible either, and I’m not keen on buying a toothbrush over there which will have the same problem when I bring it back to Australia.

It turns out that Braun do make US chargers for their toothbrushes but don’t usually sell them outside the US (given how small the charger is, I doubt it has room for a multi-voltage power supply). I was able to find one on eBay, however as it is located in the US, it would probably reach my PO Box after leave Australia. Thankfully the nice people at the Quality Inn Petaluma were willing to accept and hold the parcel for me.

The other consideration is the plug style. Even if an Australian appliance can take 110v, it still requires a US style plug. Adaptors for this are common and cheap.
Korjo power plug adaptor for Australian plugs in US sockets
Korjo power plug adaptor for Australian plugs in US sockets
Korjo power plug adaptor for Australian plugs in US sockets

I’m taking two adaptors with me. This isn’t enough for all of my appliances, but I have a reason for that. One will go in the bathroom for my razor (which requires mains power to operate…it is not a chargeable one) and another for the main room. I’m only taking one for the main room as I can’t guarantee that there will be more than one powerpoint in all hotel rooms, and why take half a dozen adaptors when I can take one of these?
A cheap and basic powerboard
A cheap and basic powerboard

Plug the adaptor in to the wall socket. Plug the powerboard in to the adaptor, and plug my Aussie appliances in to the Aussie-style slots on the powerboard.

I went for a cheap and basic powerboard because it won’t have any problems with a foreign voltage as long as it is not being used to draw a large amount of power. A powerboard with surge protection or other fancy circuitry (such as on/off functions controlled by remote control, as I saw with one powerboard) could have problems with a foreign voltage, whereas a cheap and simple one shouldn’t have any issues.

So, with that done, I am almost completely ready to go with a bit over a week until I depart.


January 31st, 2014 at 12:14pm

US Trip long-range weather forecasts

As my US trip gets closer and I’m trying to plan some more of the finer details of the trip, the weather forecast is of some interest to me as I may need to plan around snow, ice, or other inclement weather. As such, AccuWeather‘s 45 day forecast is of some interest to me. As it is such a long-range forecast, I don’t expect it to be perfect, but if it can be somewhat accurate with general weather trends then it could be a useful planning tool. I’ve been keeping an eye on it for a while and haven’t seen any huge movements in the forecasts so I’m willing to give it some credence.

To that end, each week (probably on Mondays as of next week) I plan to post the current forecast, both to see how it changes over time, and compare it to the actual conditions on the day. For my convenience, I will be posting the forecasts using Celsius temperatures.

February 11. Los Angeles, San Francisco. (I will be flying in to L.A. and then flying on to San Francisco). It looks like there might be a bit of light rain, but nothing to worry about.
Los Angeles AccuWeather forecast for February 11, 2014San Francisco AccuWeather forecast for February 11, 2014

After arriving in San Francisco I’ll be driving to Petaluma and staying there for a few days. It looks like some good weather.
Petaluma AccuWeather forecast for February 11-14, 2014

On the 14th I depart Petaluma and drive to Las Vegas. I should pass through or near these places. The weather looks OK.
Coalinga AccuWeather forecast for February 14, 2014

Bakersfield AccuWeather forecast for February 14, 2014

Barstow AccuWeather forecast for February 14, 2014

My time in Las Vegas looks like it should be pretty nice, and similar to Canberra in Autumn
Vegas AccuWeather forecast for February 14-15, 2014
Vegas AccuWeather forecast for February 16-21, 2014

On the 21st I fly from Vegas to Kansas City via Phoenix. The forecast for that is all good.
Phoenix AccuWeather forecast for February 21, 2014

My time in Kansas City looks good too. Positively balmy in fact.
Kansas City AccuWeather forecast for February 21-22, 2014Kansas City AccuWeather forecast for February 23, 2014

But when I drive to Fort Dodge, look how quickly the temperature drops.
Des Moines
Des Moines AccuWeather forecast for February 23, 2014

Fort Dodge looks like it might be a little wet, but still OK.
Fort Dodge AccuWeather forecast for February 23-25, 2014

The drive to South Bend is looking like a slow one. It’s already likely to take all day, but might take a little longer than I expected.
Cedar Rapids
Cedar Rapids AccuWeather forecast for February 25, 2014

My other main route option bypasses Cedar Rapids and takes me near Rockford, but the forecast is roughly the same.
Rockford AccuWeather forecast for February 25, 2014

No matter the route, I have to go through or near Gary.
Gary AccuWeather forecast for February 25, 2014

South Bend is looking as cold as I would expect, but without the snow I was hoping to see.
South Bend AccuWeather forecast for February 25 - March 1, 2014
South Bend AccuWeather forecast for March 2-3, 2014

On one of the weekdays I plan on going to Hillsdale. I see a chance of snow on the Thursday.
Hillsdale AccuWeather forecast for February 26-28, 2014

The drive to the Washington D.C. area looks very hospitable.
Toledo AccuWeather forecast for March 3, 2014

Cleveland AccuWeather forecast for March 3, 2014

Pittsburgh AccuWeather forecast for March 3, 2014

Hagerstown AccuWeather forecast for March 3, 2014

AccuWeather’s 45 day forecast does not yet stretch all the way through my Washington D.C. area visit, but the bit it can see looks nice.
DC AccuWeather forecast for March 3-6, 2014

So far it looks like the weather will be nice to me and not be as cold as I had expected, but I have to admit the trip from Fort Dodge to South Bend has me a tad concerned, but if the early-morning ice is minimal then it should be fine.


January 22nd, 2014 at 07:33am

At long last, I’m going on a trip to the US

Over the last couple of days I’ve posted some very heavy stories on this blog, so it was great timing that I received official confirmation of my annual leave application being approved, and therefore today I can finally make the details of my trip publicly known.

The pleasing automated email I received yesterday

Long-term readers of this blog would know that I have a keen interest in US politics and the country in general, and have wanted to make my way over there for quite some time. For various reasons I had a few false starts and couldn’t go before now, and had falsely raised the hopes of a few friends over there when I thought I could go, but ended up not being able to go. (My annual leave application has been unofficially approved for months, but to avoid disappointment I didn’t want to go public until it was definitely official)

In late 2012 I saw that it looked like it was finally going to be possible and started forming a few vague plans and saving up my annual leave (hence the reason I can take so much time off work). It quickly became apparent that, as people I know in the US had spread out across the country quite a bit of late, visiting most or all of them was going to be best accomplished by doing something else I’ve wanted to do…go for a driving holiday in a foreign country.

I started planning the trip based on driving everywhere and stopping in interesting places along the way. This plan, due to time and budget constraints, turned out to be a “go go go” trip with minimal time in each location, so then I started dropping some of the places that were of a lower priority (I can always see them at a later date) and then with a solid basis for a plan, added a little time in some places to give me more time to account for possible weather delays and a public holiday.

What I ended up with is this.

Click map to enlarge

This map shows all of the main destinations for my trip. How I plan for it to unfold is like this:

Tuesday 11 Feb
Depart Australia. Flying from Canberra to Sydney, then Sydney to Los Angeles, and Los Angeles to San Francisco.

Thanks to the time difference I should get to San Francisco around the middle of the day, however I am not staying in San Francisco as I am hiring a car and driving straight to Petaluma which is a small town about an hour north of San Francisco.

With all going well, I should get to the hotel with a couple hours left before sunset.

Wednesday 12 Feb and Thursday 13 Feb
On the Wednesday I’m going to visit the studios of, Leo Laporte’s technology podcast network (I interviewed Leo when TWiT was just starting to grow back in 2006) and am planning to use the rest of my time in Petaluma getting over any jet lag and doing some sightseeing around Petaluma and San Francisco.

Friday 14 Feb
The full day is set aside (and will be needed) for a drive to Las Vegas. I’m sure there will be a few stops along the way, and I plan on ensuring Bakersfield is one of them.

Saturday 15 Feb – Thursday 20 Feb
This time will be spent in Las Vegas with the possibility of some brief trips to nearby places of interest. People who have been reading this blog for a long time will know that I have quite a few friends in the Las Vegas area…my visit to Vegas is probably not going to be the normal visit of a tourist but I’ll still be doing some of the “tourist things”. I have arranged to meet some friends in Vegas already and hope to make many more plans as well.

Friday 21 Feb
On this day I will be returning the car I have hired and will be flying to Kansas City. I could not get a direct flight to Kansas City and so this trip will take most of the day, but is quicker than two full days of driving. Upon arrival in Kansas City I will be picking up another hire car…one more suitable for the rather cold locations which make up the rest of the trip.

Saturday 22 Feb
I’m looking forward to seeing the interesting sights of Kansas City and meeting a friend who used to live in Vegas.

Sunday 23 Feb
I’ll be driving to the town of Fort Dodge, Iowa on this day. This should only take a few hours so I may have a bit of spare time in Kansas City in the morning and some in Fort Dodge in the afternoon.

Monday 24 Feb
This will be a day for some sightseeing in Fort Dodge and meeting Bill Grady (Bill and I interviewed each other a few times in 2006 and have kept in touch since). Bill is a really good guy who now runs a news website for Fort Dodge and to whom I give lots of credit for sparking a lot of my interest in US news and politics, and being the first person to properly explain to me the 2nd amendment and its historical reason for being.

Tuesday 25 Feb
I’ll be driving to South Bend, Indiana on this day. Given the distance and the fact that I lose an hour by crossing from Central Time to Eastern Time along the way, the full set of daylight hours has been allocated to this.

Wednesday 26 Feb – Sunday 2 March
South Bend, near the Indiana/Michigan border will my base for this time.

Long-term readers of this blog would be familiar with the name Casey Hendrickson. Casey now resides and works near South Bend and I’m looking forward to meeting Casey and some other friends in Indiana during this time.

Other highlights will hopefully include a trip to the nearby town of Hillsdale, Michigan where the fantastic Hillsdale College is (seeing their life-size statues of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and other historical figures is something I’m very excited about), and I’m looking forward to trying out a new shooting range at Rocket Guns in Goshen, Indiana.

Monday 3 March
Another one of my full day drives…this time to Arlington, Virginia which is just outside Washington D.C.

Tuesday 4 March – Friday 7 March
I’m very much looking forward to seeing D.C. and a lot of the nearby spots including Baltimore and Leesburg. If time permits, I might also make a day-trip out of a visit to a friend in New Jersey.

Saturday 8 March
This is the day that I depart from the US. I’ll drop off the rental car and fly out from Reagan International Airport, heading to Canberra via airports in Los Angeles and Brisbane. I’ll be back at home late on Monday the 10th of March, leaving me the better part of two weeks at home before I have to go back to work (and probably make up for my absence with Pebbles).

I’m looking forward to it very much and will provide some more details before I go. I also hope to keep this blog updated with details from my trip while I’m over there.


January 8th, 2014 at 05:02pm

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