I travel the country on business, sometimes the world. Come see where I've been.
Talk about perks, my job has one of the best ones I can think of! I travel in the course of business, delivering classes for my employer. I am a Senior Training Specialist for Motorola Solutions, and teach classes on a wide variety of subjects centered around 2 way radio communications. I'm qualified to deliver approximately 30 different classes, but about half of those are 'Legacy' classes, and are not in demand anymore. My students are technicians, those who maintain, program, calibrate, and repair large 2-way radio systems. Some of these systems are statewide, and use TCP-IP networking to allow sites to communicate with others. Some are small, traditional type radio sites. The size doesn't matter, in each case the systems must be kept operational at all times, since many of them are Public Safety Systems. So I get to travel, sometimes frequently, 3-4 weeks in a row.... where am I this week?|
This probably won't have daily entries, but I will make entries when I get to go somewhere, and keep an updated list of coming trips. My schedule changes faster than the weather, so don't be too surprised to see me list an upcoming class, only to remark later on that it is cancelled, or delayed. Delays are fine of course, but a later date might mean that someone else gets to go instead of me,,, Well, here we go with this, let's see where it takes us.
|Date: Week of September 9th
Locale: Battle Creek, Mi
This week finds me in Battle Creek Michigan to deliver a class to the Federal Protective Services. It's the same class as last week in Suitland Md, with the same issues concerning equipment on hand. Once again, the students have been great at understanding the limitations we face, but we've done a decent job in discussing key things with their equipment. I would love to tell you more about the classes, but frankly, I think you'd get glassy eyed from boredom quickly.
Other than the class, I have to say that Battle Creek is pretty interesting. After all, it's known as the cereal capital of the USA, and at one point had over 100 cereal manufacturers here! That's pretty amazing in and of itself, but where the class is being held is something worthy of a novel. Not just any novel, but maybe a horror novel, or at least a deep mystery. Now why would I say that? Well, it's quite the story.
The Kellogg brothers (John Harvey Kellogg and W.K. Kellogg) had the Sanitarium built as a Spa of the Day. Yep, I too thought Sanitarium = Hospital for the Insane, but it's not even close to that. It was built as a Spa where Harvey promoted a healthy diet (shades of today and how we are looking eat less processed food!), but also some bizarre treatments, even for adults. Add to this that John Kellogg had some very disturbing ideas about what caused young children (male and female) to start 'experimenting with self pleasure'. The things he did to both boys and girls would have him in prison quickly in this day. I want to keep my blog E-rated, so I can't describe what he did here without changing the rating. But you get the idea. So here we are, almost revering Kellogs in today's world, yet a lot of what he did would cause us to think of him as a pervert.
Historic/Interesting Places Visited:
The Battle Creek Sanitorium http://www.asylumprojects.org/index.php?title=Battle_Creek_Sanitarium This is quite an interesting read. Especially when you look up Harvery Kellogg, and his practices.
I will spend the next week working from home before traveling to Plattsburgh, NY the following week. Til next time, be good to yourselves and those you love, and WRITE!
|Date: Week of September 2nd
Locale: Suitland, Maryland
This week found me in Suitland Maryland for a class with the Federal Protective Services. You probably just did what I did when I saw their name. "Federal who?" Th e Federal Protective Services are part of the Department of Homeland Security, and that's about all I know about them.
This was an interesting class to deliver because they had no equipment we could access. Well, for the most part that is. Let's say that the most important piece we needed to access was no where nearby, and while we could have accessed it over the network, we couldn't do any testing on it without being there. It just made for an interesting delivery is all.
The students were great. They understood the limitations imposed by the lack of equipment access, and we worked together to make sure they had the necessary information needed to support their system. It was a short class too, only 3 days, and because we couldn't do much in the way of hands-on activities, I was done by noon today. Sadly, my flight was at 6pm, and I just didn't feel like getting out much, so I sat around Reagan Airport in Washington DC for 5 hours, waiting to fly to Illinois. Getting an earlier flight would have resulted in additional charges, and since I already had a reserved seat the same day, I couldn't really justify the expense of it. It was okay though, I spent the day relaxing, or trying to.
During a recent class in Schaumburg, one of my students told me to visit National Harbor, about 5 miles from my hotel. Wow, what a nice time I had there. Went there Wednesday and Thursday for dinner and had a great time. It's an area on the waterfront (Imagine that. It's called National Harbor, and sits on the water!) that consists mainly of shops and restaurants. I was interesting the restaurants, not shopping. Had a pretty good meal both nights. You'll see my note below about one of the restaurants.
National Harbor has quite a few statues around the streets. You can see Maryland Monroe and her famous dress being blown up from behind scene, Rosie The Riveter, famous presidents, and a recreation of the famous couple kissing in NYC when it was announced WWII had ended.
The Walrus Oyster and Ale House http://www.walrusoysterandale.com/assets/walrus-nh-main-summer2019.pdf Their menu appealed to me, that's why I chose this place. Their Fried Artichoke Hearts, Farmhouse Saison Beer Batter, Home Made Beer Salt, with Spicy Remoulade. Yummy appetizer. For dinner, I had their Shrimp & Grits. It was good, but no where close to the fantastic dish served at Fleet Landing in Charleston, SC.
Graces Mandarin http://www.gracesrestaurants.com/menu/ I chose this location for Thursday mainly because their menu featured a Crab Stuffed Avocado. I had that in Fort Collins Colorado last year; loved it, so thought I'd have it again. Wasn't anything like the dish served at Smokin' Fins in Fort Collins. It was good, but a major disappointment just the same.
Photo's From Visit:
I will spend the weekend home before driving to Battle Creek Michigan Monday to deliver the same class to this customer again. Til next time, be good to yourselves and those you love, and WRITE!
|Date: Week of August 26th 2019
Locale: San Diego, California
The flight home from San Diego was interesting for a couple of reasons. First, the man seated next to me wore a ball cap and polo shirt emblazoned with 'Golden Eagles Hot Shots'. He wasn't the only one, there were about 9 others wearing identical shirts and caps. We started talking, and I had to ask what/who the Golden Eagles are. His answer was a little surprising.
The Golden Eagles are not a Sports Team or something similar. They are employees of the Bureau Of Indian Affairs, and members of the Sycuan Fire Department of the Kumeyaay Nation. They are one of three in California, and you know I had to look them up. Here's what I found out.
The Sycuan Fire Department / BIA Golden Eagles Hotshots organization was established in June 15, 2000 initially as a Type 2 crew. In August 2001, the Golden Eagles received status as a Type 2 initial attack hand crew, which provided the opportunity to take more advanced assignments. By January of 2003, the BIA recognized them as a Type 1 training crew, and by October, 2005, the Crew was fully certified as a National Interagency Hotshot Crew, having met all the standards and qualifications necessary to become one of the nation’s elite type 1 hand crews.
We talked a little more, I discovered they were flying to Miami to provide hurricane relief support. I have to tip my hat to those men, they do a valuable service that many people don't think about very often.
Then, there was the layover at O'Hare. It was long (fine by me), but it was towards the end of it that struck me funny. I was at the gate waiting for my flight, and noticed a flight leaving for Clarksburg, West Virginia about a half hour before my flight. What struck me as funny, was there was only ONE passenger on the plane! I really wondered who that passenger was, but never found out. But, in the process, I thought of a small skit that could be done with that in mind.
Imagine Tim Conway (RIP) and Harvey Korman in a Carol Burnett skit. Tim is the airline gate attendant, Korman is the only passenger on a flight that will soon board. Also, Tim is the 'Oldest Man In The World', a character he made famous. Harvey Korman's tickets reveals he's in Boarding Group 6, even though he's the long passenger on the plane. When it comes time boarding, Tim Conway starts going through the standard airline verbage of boarding groups. He offers boarding to disabled people, and looks around patiently, as if waiting for anyone to come forward and board. Then he offers boarding opportunities to Active Duty Military. Again he waits. Then those with special airline boarding privileges. Finally he announces boarding group 1, then 2 through 5. Each time, he waits 20-30 seconds for people to come forward. Meanwhile, Harvey Korman, the lone passenger is waiting, wanting to get on board, and knows he's the only passenger. Each time a group is called, he tries to board, only to be rebuffed by Tim. By the time group 6 is called, Harvey Korman is beside himself, and can't locate this ticket. Eventually, Tim Conway closes the gate, and it's about 10 seconds later that Harvey Korman finally finds his lost ticket. Well, okay, I guess you have to have seen Carol Burnett Episodes similar to this to appreciate it. Try this one...
Til the next time, when I'll write about my visit to Suitland Maryland. Take care of yourself and those you love, and write!
|Date: Week of August 26th 2019
Locale: San Diego, California
This week finds me in beautiful San Diego to deliver a class to the county of San Diego. The topic is two classes, but there's a lot of overlap in delivering them. Fortunately the customer asked us to deliver it in four days instead of five, so that helped a lot in the timing of the modules. Instead of making it two classes, I treated it as one. Let me explain.
The first part of the class was on what we call the GTR 8000 Expandable Site Subsystem. It involves a base radio, and the other equipment mounted in the rack that makes this part of a larger system. The second class is called Simulcast, a method of transmitting the audio over a wider area, increasing the customers ability to remain in communication. Well, the radio sites in the Simulcast System are GTR 8000 Expandable Site Subsystems. You can see the overlap, and our problem delivering both classes back to back. Treating it just one class with a focus on the GTr 8000 part made it a lot easier. It went smoothly and the students seemed to receive it well.
I arrived a bit early on Monday, and thought I'd visit the San Diego Safari Park. If you like seeing animals in the closest thing to their natural habitat, visit this place! Also, once class was done Friday, I decided to play tourist a little, and visited Cabrillo National Monument. It was the first place a European stepped foot on the west coast of what became the United States. Great views of the ocean and harbor from high above the coast!
94th Aerosquadron https://94thsandiego.com/ This is such an interesting place to dine at! They exist at small airports in large cities. I first found one of these in Miami in 2004, and have since visited one in Wheeling Illinois (now closed), Columbus Ohio, Atlanta Georgia (100th Bomber Group is the name of that one), the Proud Bird near LAX, and one somewhere in Pennsylvania, but for the life of me I can't remember where. The food is excellent, with an atmosphere that's even better.
Duke's La Jolla https://www.dukeslajolla.com/menus/dinner/ If you know me at all, then you know how much I love Hawaii, and the great food you can have there. Duke Kahanamoku was the man who brought surfing to the world, and an Olympic Champion Swimmer. The food here is better than most places I've dined, with a wonderful Hawaiian atmosphere.
Photo's From Visit:
Historic/Interesting Places Visited:
San Diego Zoo Safari Park https://www.sdzsafaripark.org/ I was here about 17 years ago, and it's changed dramatically. No animals live in cages, they are in the wild essentially, on 1600 acres of land! Of course carnivores are separated from the herbivores with large walls separating them. A great place to visit and spend an afternoon, though I was pretty beat at the end of the day.
Cabrillo National Monument https://www.nps.gov/cabr/index.htm
This site honors Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European to set foot on what became the west coast of the United States in 1542.
I will spend the weekend at home, and fly to Washington DC for a class just south of the National Mall next week. Til next time, be good to yourselves and those you love, and WRITE!
|Date: Week of August 19th 2019
Locale: Schaumburg, Illinois
This week I became the student when I was asked (told) by my manager that I would be there. I was originally scheduled to work from home, so really no difference to me in many ways. This class was called 'Fleetmapping', which probably sounds a little strange to most of you. In many (almost all) companies (our customers), the workers who use radio are divided into groups. This is because when they transmit on their radios, they should talk to their co-workers, not just any one at all. Thus, the radios are programmed to allow this to occur. Not only that, the rack mounted radio system nees to be properly configured and programmed to allow communications to occur over a large area. Modern two-way radios can communicate over wide areas, often on state wide systems. They can roam much like a cell phone (but don't ever tell a cell phone technician they work just like that, because you'll be corrected quickly).
This class allows us to teach customers how to align their users into groups, giving them the same capabilities (modern radios can do a lot of different things), that every one in the group has. To me it sounds easy, but complex at the same time. You have to know quite a bit about radio programming. I do, since I can teach radio programming on every radio we've engineered for public safety use since 1990 or so. Probably a little earlier. Fortunately, most of the older radios classes are not taught anymore, and that's a good thing. You also have to know a bit about configuring the radios, radio users and groups, in the system. A course I don't teach. I know a lot about it, but not near enough to teach the class. Learning this class will help me in that one of course! Now to study, and learn as much as I can about this class...
I will spend the weekend iat home, then fly to San Diego for a class with San Diego County. Til next time, be good to yourselves and those you love, and WRITE!
|Date: Week of August 5th
Locale: Torrance, California
This week saw me visiting Torrance California for a class with the city of Torrance. I had hoped to meet Jeff is Buzz Lightyear and Octobersun , but we were unable to connect. I've often wondered about 'broadcasting' where I will be (or am) at the start of a week, just in case there are WDC members around who would like to meet for an appetizer or what.
This was a good class, when it comes to Networking knowledge, I had a mix of students. Three of them knew as much (and in some cases more) than I do about that subject. The other seven had a varied networking background, ranging from complete beginner to pretty experienced. As a result, I made the three subject matter experts my assistants in class. They were very helpful in guiding the inexperienced students, since I can't be at all lab setups at the same time. The only issue, was trying to get them to not answer questions right away, thereby giving the inexperienced students a chance to think and answer. If I hadn't done that, I don't think they (the beginners) would have learned much at all.
Some of us went to lunch together every day, which was really good. Tuesday was particularly good, because we went to the Torrance Farmer's Market. I really enjoyed experiencing that, and had an excellent spicy Tuna Poke bowl that day. Dinners were spent alone obviously, and surprisingly, I didn't venture far. Let's just say I ate lighter, and less all week long and was quite happy doing that!
Blue Salt Fish Grill http://bluesaltfishgrill.com/food-menu/ This place was so good the first time that I went back for a repeat visit! I could have dined there all week, but try to eat at a variety of places, so didn't. Sometimes I wish I had. Their Hawaiian Style Salmon Poke was excellent, while their Peri-Peri Prawns were a bit spicy. Not too much though.
Big O Fish Brews And Grill Well, I don't usually visit establishments that don't have a website, so don't ask me why I ended up here. I walked in, and knew I was in the wrong place. Don't get me wrong. I never felt threatened, the food and service was good. It is just a place that I would never willingly visit. Oh well, live and learn.
I am home for the weekend, having arrived last night at 11:30pm. I had today and most of tomorrow free, but will drive to Chicago tomorrow afternoon/evening to deliver a class in Schaumburg next week. It's gonna get busy though. I have classes in Suitland Maryland, Two in Denver Colorado (a month apart), Battle Creek Michigan, Philadelphia, Plattsburg New York, San Diego, and two that I'm assuming will be in the DC area, since I'll be with the Secret Service and the White House Communications Agency. Til next time, be good to yourselves and those you love, and WRITE!
|Date: Week of July 22nd
Locale: Central Illinois
A short entry here. The month of July has been a pretty relaxing one for me. I've not been scheduled to deliver a class due to a scheduling error. One might think they are keeping me idle for a reason, but that's really not the case. Next week, and the rest of the year are pretty busy.
I actually decided to take some PTO this week, and spent it here at home relaxing. But, I still couldn't get away from work stuff entirely. I spent an hour on conference calls Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, then another 5-6 hours reviewing the files we talked about in those calls. So much for PTO, huh. To be honest though, the only reason I scheduled PTO is so I wouldn't have to worry about what to do this week. I knew I'd end up working. The curriculum development team in Poland has done an excellent job in modifying the courses I'm responsible for, which is why I was on the calls, and reviewing the curriculum.
Next week I teach an on-line class from home, then head out to Torrance California for a class, then Schaumburg for class delivery there. See, I told you it will pick up! Last August will find me in San Diego, and after Labor Day, I have classes in Maryland, Battle Creek Michigan, two in Denver, and Philadelphia. Of course I can't seem to stay away from Schaumburg, so have a couple more classes there. With three weeks that can be filled, my time between now and years end will be busy. Plus, I'm already scheduled for classes in 2020! Two weeks in Folsom, California, and two weeks in Algeria. We'll see when those actually happen, and if they'll stay on my schedule. Til next time, be good to yourselves and those you love, and WRITE!
|Date: MONTH of July 10, 2019
Locale: Central Illinois
This month I will be home. All Month! Oh wait, I will be in Schaumburg at least part of the week July 15th. Please don't get the impression I hate being home, far from it! It's just that I'm used to teaching, meeting new people and seeing new sights. Sometimes, 'revisiting' new sites. So being home for a month in the middle of the summer will be different. And believe it or not, I'm actually taking a week's vacation too! No idea where we'll go, will have to wait and see. Might end up being a 'Staycation'.
Monday I will be in Schaumburg for a few days. We just obtained a new piece of test equipment that none of us know much about. We have a class being delivered by field techs, and I've been asked to attend. Yep, the people who are actually in the field working with the customers we train are going to train some of us on this device. Ironic, isn't it?
It's not all bad here at home though. I will work on the weeds that are threatening to overtakehave overtaken the front and back yards. We have ground ivy in the back, and it's tough to get rid of. I have a pretty powerful poison to use on it, but we have two dogs, that use the yard daily. In the front, it's wild African Violets that are growing, well, like weeds! There's also a couple of things I've been wanting to get done around the house, not to mention working on course curriculum and hands-on activities for a couple of courses. So it's not like I'll be sitting around doing nothing.
My next trip will be to Torrance California the week of August 5th, assuming my schedule doesn't change, and it shouldn't since the class is less than a month away. I'm hoping to get together with Octobersun , Jeff is Buzz Lightyear , and anyone else who's in that area at least once for lunch or early dinner. I know Schnujo is in the LA area, maybe she'll join us, who knows? Anyone else in the greater LA area that might want to join in? Let me know, no plans are set yet, but I'd like to get something done soon, so need to contact Jeff and Octobersun soon, once I have travel plans set. Til next time, be good to yourselves and those you love, and WRITE!
|Date: Week of June 24th
Locale: Albuquerque, New Mexico
This week finds me in Albuquerque, New Mexico for a class with the Bureau Of Land Management. While I have delivered several classes in New Mexico, I have never delivered one in the Duke City, the place I call home. I spent 10 years of my childhood here going to school, it's where I graduated High School (West Mesa, Class of 72), and despite the problems the city has, I love it there.
The class was a tailored class, combining three classes into one week. If delivered fully, it would have been almost two weeks in length, but the price would have doubled. Besides that, they didn't need a lot of the 'Death by Powerpoint' involved in so many course deliveries. That was eliminated (I provided the Powerpoint materials in pdf file format for their future reference), and we worked with the software the whole week. This worked well for them, and being typical technicians, they loved it. In case you're wondering, we are currently working on modifying our approach deliver our classes in a manner similar to this, and not concentrating so much on Powerpoint Slides.
Being home gave me a chance to connect with a few people, but sadly, my immediate family is no longer with us. If I may bore you for a moment:
James Dorrell Sr. - January 28 1909 - September 6, 1971 (Age 62)
Frances Dorrell - April 10 1920, April 6 2013 (Age 92)
Olivia Anne Dorrell - September 23 1952 - September 26 2007 (Age 55)
Dennis Edward Dorrell - October 17 1956 - September 16 2009 (Age 53)
Terry Lee Dorrell - January 9 1960 - October 17 2017 (Age 57)
I've long known that my father and siblings all passed relatively young (In their 50's and 60's), while my mother died in her early 90's. I've decided I am like my mother.... So while I couldn't visit immediate family, I did manage to see my niece Diana, and reconnect with a couple of High School friends.
I did not 'play tourist this week, so no interesting sights to speak of, However, Monday when I was heading to work, look what I saw approaching my car!
I had to be quick to snap his photo, and did so with my cellphone. Sadly, the photo is not near as good as it should be. And contrary to what we all 'learned' by watching Saturday morning cartoons in the 60's, a Roadrunner cannot outrun a Coyote. The coyote is much faster.... I lived in this state for 10 years, and never saw one of these. I did see one driving back to Illinois once after visiting my terminally ill brother, but it was a quick look, since it ran across the highway in front of me.
Tomasita's https://tomasitas.com/menus/albuquerque-menu/ Being home, how could I resist a typical New Mexican dish? I had to have their Chile Rellenos. Two New Mexico chiles stuffed with cheese, covered with a bread crumb batter and served with green chile, rice, and beans. Yummmmmm!
Los Cuates https://loscuatesrestaurants.com/pages/menu For starters, I had their Ensalada De Guacamole, and an Indian Taco. Even better than Tomasita's!
Ponderosa Brewing Company https://www.ponderosabrewing.net/food-menu/ This was a change of pace for me. I love Micro-Breweries, and had to visit this one. Very good food, though the Green Chile Cheeseburger fell apart a little while eating it. I had a 'flight' of their beer, and it was excellent!
Well, because of the holiday, and an error with the schedule, I have the next four weeks with no delivery! At least as of now. I will be busy though, working on developing hands-on activities on a couple of new pieces of test equipment, and who knows what else? Besides, the schedule could change, though I doubt it. Til next time, be good to yourselves and those you love, and WRITE!
|Date: Week of June 17th
Locale: Atlanta, Georgia
This week finds me in Atlanta delivering a class to Motorola Shop Technicians. The class is about System Networking as it applies to Motorola Radio Systems. The students this week are from shops all over the southeast for the most part, though one was from Juneau Alaska, and another from Seattle.
I hadn't taught this class in almost two years, having last taught it in Sheboygan, Wisconsin in August of 2017. Thankfully it hadn't changed much in that time, so though I was a little rusty, all went well. There was one student who wanted to hang with me in the evenings, so we had dinner together each night. I have to confess that I wasn't all that impressed with his choice of restaurants. The second one he chose was a Colombian place though, so I knew that would be different. And it was. Different, but good all the same.
Oyster Bay Seafood Restaurant https://www.oysterbayseafoodcafe.com/menu Wow, was their Smoked Fish Dip Yummy! It was topped with a ring of Jalapenos, and as luck would have it, my student (Mark) couldn't eat hot stuff, so they were all mine.
Three Blind Mice http://www.tbmrestaurant.com/dinner-menu/ This place is really a wine bar and restaurant. It was good, but not as good as Oyster Bay. I had their special, a Blackened Redfish, and it was excellent.
I am home for the weekend, well one day is all. Tomorrow I fly to Albuquerque where I grew up! While I've taught several classes in New Mexico, this is my first time teaching in Albuquerque. To say I'm looking forward to the week would be an understatement. Til next time, be good to yourselves and those you love, and WRITE!