Saturday, February 9, 2008

Lift Off

Traveling brings remarkable moments of uncanny timing. Some would consider these moments as serendipitous, I consider them a blessing. A recent trip to Orlando brought such a moment to me. When I woke up on Thursday, February 7, the chance of a space shuttle launch was basically 30%. I didn't even know that there was a launch scheduled until that morning when I turned on the news. A space shuttle launch gets very little attention, except in the central Florida area, where folks still pay attention and care. Throughout the day, the chance of the launch varied from "go" to "no go", but I still held out hope.

There is a spot at the very top of the parking garage at the Orlando airport that provides an excellent vantage point to watch the launch. Many people camp out here on top of the garage if they can't travel the 50 miles to Cape Canaveral to see a launch up close. I actually got the chance to see a launch up close with my family in the early 90's. It was a night launch and it lit up the night sky. It was amazing and it was another one of those moments when we just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

The collective gasp of people crowded on top of the Orlando airport parking garage is a moment I'll always remember; together we all watched as a burst of light and fire erupted on the horizon and the shuttle lifted off.

I have included two pictures, one is the shot I took with my camera phone and the other is the same image that I adjusted so that the fire from the rockets is more noticeable. Keep in mind that this is a shot taken with a camera phone from 50 miles away.

Acapulco was great...but....

Sometimes I am forced to accept the most difficult work assignments. Recently, I worked in Acapulco for 3 days. It wasn't easy dealing with the 85 degree weather while it was -25 degrees in the Twin Cities; someone has to do this though.

No trip would be complete without a mishap, which, naturally included the Mexican police. While driving the 20 km from the city to the airport of Friday morning, I was pulled over by the police. I could write paragraphs about this, but basically, the 3 (!) policemen told me I was in big trouble for speeding and running a red light. I was not speeding, nor ran a red light, I was so uptight driving in the crazy traffic that there is no way I would speed or run a light. This was going to cost me though "amigo", stated the cop. "How much is that going to be", I retorted. "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh", stated the cop as he tried to determine how much to rip me off by. "3,750 pesos amigo
(1 USD = 11 pesos), you follow me to police office to pay, it will take 5 hours........unless (I knew this was coming), you pay me and my amigo's 1,000 pesos." "What?" I stated! "What if I don't have it?", I said. "Oh you have it", the cop replied. So, keeping in mind that I was now already running late for my appointment with the Mexican government fueling office, I reached into my wallet and handed the crooked cop 5 $20 dollar bills, $100 dollars to make him and his other two "amigo's" go away.

I was very upset and still had to go work for 10 hours.

After spreading my story to the locals, it was explained to me that these cops did not even have jurisdiction on the federal highway I was driving on. Simply put, they noticed I was a foreigner, assumed I was traveling to the airport and knew that I wouldn't have 5 hours to pay a ticket. Of course, they would never have taken me to the police station, they would have been fired because they are not to give tickets to tourists. We are all their economy has there.

There are good points too. I was able to have lunch on the beach after work with the local employees at this small spot under a canopy of palm branches. The cook brought over two fresh Red Snapper and asked which I wanted. After picking, the fish came back grilled over coals. The combination of the local company, fresh fish and the view made the trip worth all the trouble with the police.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

From Kim

I recently checked out "my" blog and discovered a GIANT picture of me (can someone fix that?...never mind, I'll do it myself sometime) and some blatherings about cows! I wonder who did that? I (meaning Kim, Steve's wife!) DO have a life outside of "AuldsWorld" and thought you may be interested in what I really do. When I'm not herding cats at Farmington Middle School West, I'm taking graduate courses at the University of Minnesota to meet my teaching license requirements. I'm currently enrolled in "Teaching Film, Television, and Media Studies" and one of the requirements is to maintain a blog. I decided to keep it separate from Aulds World because my instructors read it, but to give you a link so you can check out the reason why I hardly blog here! So that's where I'll be for the next three months while you're reading Steve's...publications.