(Monday Motorway Music™), Tue April 15 – Necessary Preparations

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I believe I may have been guilty of not issuing the warning that this week is really already Easter in Denmark. We are not the most religious people on Earth, yet we have Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Monday all as national holidays. And, on top of that, the year in which you have to spend your vacation days runs May-April – so at this time of year, a lot of people have the last of these precious days to spend. And a week with only three working days to “pay” for what effectively is a 10-day vacation period is too alluring.

So, consider Denmark halfway closed this week. (Note to eventual evil-thinking foreign powers: I don’t belive the Danish Defense Force is off for Easter the same way as the Swiss apparently are for lunch;) )

So, I was not driving anywhere yesterday. Or … well, we were – but for family purposes and only a short drive and that does not really make for playing loud music and listing it.

So instead, we decided that spring is springing enough to change wheels on the car and get the summer tyres back on. A job that every year makes me wonder what people pay for fitness centers for – there are an inumerable amount of squats involved in this task…

DSC05896But, the Primacy Alpin tyres have now been taken off and the rims washed and are currently drying a bit before being stacked in the shed. And the aluminium wheels with the summer tyres are on and ready to roll. Even more so when the pretty worn out tyres have been exchanged for the Primacy 3 tyres that I have in stock, too – but that is a job I am not undertaking myself.

 

That’s Alright – Fleetwood Mac
Hot N Cold – Katy Perry
Heroes – David Bowie
Mustang Sally – The Commitments
En Kort En Lang – Lisa Nilsson
That’s The Way (I Like It) – KC & The Sunshine Band
Get A Job – Gossip
Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed – Matt Bianco
To France – Mike Oldfield
Every Breath You Take – Maira Martins
Tiger Feet – Mud
Hours Of Ours – Sinne Eeg
Rock Is My Life, And This Is My Song – BTO
I Should Be So Lucky – Kylie Minogue
Blue Shoes – Katie Melua

Photos by me.
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Monday Motorway Music™, April 7 – Mileage Achievements of Different Sorts


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The mirabelles sure believe it is spring :) Their dazzling blurs of white are all over the place at the moment – the regular cherry blossoms and magnolias seem not to be far behind. To be completely honest with you, I just about cannot wait until the sheer greem miracle of the beech forest happens.

But – and this is probably typical Danish “oh but wait, we cannot…” reasoning – on the other hand, I am happy that it doesn’t get 25°C like “Bang!” and everything explodes in green and bloom at once. We tried that once in South-Western France in what was there and then an unusually cold spring (probably a quite fair one by Danish measures) – then, in two days, it all happened – sunshine, heat, everything in flower. And … it was just too sudden. Straight from wintery to summery. No, I am a distinct four-season guy, thank you very much.

2014-04-06 19.41.12In other news, it has been a weekend of family and birthdays. My youngest now is allowed to have alcohol served in public places and has the right to vote. Oh my! And I noticed when I got home from a regular grocery shopping run amidst all the family gathering to celebrate – that the car, maybe as a sympathy celebration – had decided to pass a milestone as well ;)

 

Bat Out Of Hell – Meat Loaf
Flying – Nice Little Penguins
Girls, Girls, Girls – Sailor
Girl Can Rock – Hilary Duff
Got To Get You Out Of My Life – Earth, Wind & Fire
By The Time I Get To Phoenix – Cæcilie Norby
Brighter Days – Halberg/Larsen

Photos by me.
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Monday Motorway Music™, March 31 – Spring Seems To Want To Spring

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The trees in our local forest haven’t really turned green yet – except for a few early-type, young and slim and hungry trees and small bushes. But the anemones are coming – slowly turning the forest floor into a carpet of white-dotted green.

I didn’t have any fresh images of that at hand – so you’ll have to make do with Corto, posing nicely for the camera a few weeks ago. Usually, taking photos of Flatcoated Retrievers involve a camera setting faster than 1/125 second ;)

Oh No Mamas Off Her Meds, Again

 

By the way, a small excuse for the gap in Monday Motorway Musics™ – between travelling to the US for work and Sweden for a bit of vacation, I have been off the grid for the last couple of Mondays. At least the trips – especially the US one – included lots of driving with lots of music, part of which included playing, as the graphic eludes to, rather loud music in order to stay, if not healthy, then at least awake.

 

To come back on the theme, the weather’s again been very nice this weekend – we’re getting there. I spent most of mine indoors at a 1 ½ day planning session for a scouting training course for which I have been let in as part of the team. But we did make sure to take a few breaks outside – and a few of us even sat in the sun for a while, fleshing out one of the modules. Yay for wireless networks that have coverage on the terraces outside houses :)

Cool Jerk – The Go-Go’s
Rum & Coca Cola – Andrew Sisters (Jojo Effect Remix)
Call Me Maybe – Carly Ray Jepsen
Rock DJ – Robbie Williams
At The Hop – Danny & The Juniors
More Than A Woman – Bee Gees
My Coo Ca Choo – Alvin Stardust
Billie Jean – Michael Jackson

Photo by me, graphic lifted off Facebook (sadly without saving thereference).
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Woo Hoo – 100 Followers

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Thanks, everyone. Writing, after all, is much nicer to do when you know it’s for someone :)

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Cobblestone Flight Review CPH-EWR-(maybe)-DTW on Scandinavian & United

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Let me be frank: I will digress!

In literature terms, I am going to attempt to make this a frame story – while most certainly giving a review of today’s SK909 from Copenhagen to Newark with – if the travel gods allow – a United connection to Detroit, I will also try to spend little time on airlines, what they do and don’t in terms of offering what passengers may want and need and maybe even speculate on some ideas for the future of travel.

Sounds like a big bite – it certainly took a long sentence to get there. My apologies (“I cried when I wrote this song; Sue me if I played too long” as the song goes).

SAS and I came off to a bad start on this one. As I am recommending, I jumped at my phone right after check-in opened, found my itinerary in the SAS app already loaded and stating “Open for check-in”. So far, so good. Picked a seat – 27C, aisle seat middle-block – and, by the way, my usual seat picking strategy held up: empty seat next to me (that I of course gallantly have offered to share with the lady in the E seat) – voilá.

But – when I finally tapped “Check-in”, all I got was an orange error message on top: No can do. Hmmm. Start iMac, run the same process through a browser. Same result. Hmmm hmmmm hrmpf!

Called SAS – where a lady told me that she couldn’t help and that she could see that the ticket was not bought directly with SAS and that she believed that could be it. For the record, I don’t believe that one – the lady who checked me in at the airport (no kiosk/automat thing for me when I have access sans queue to a real live being) said that it was likely because the system couldn’t locate my ESTA registration. She could, it was all fine – and it sounds more plausible. And it doesn’t hide that the system has a cockup if not more. [Update: since this ticket was linked to my trip same place in February and it seems that the rebookings done then has - somehow - introduced multiple changes in this trip, the error may be deeper buried in Star Alliance cross-airline computer system and/or operator-introduced anormalies. Guess I'll never know.]

From there, smooth as silk – nice curry soup in the lounge. With a small glass of beer – which is only relevant because of what follows later.

Until we sat in the plane. And sat. After a while, the captain explained that they had to have a thingumajig changed, 10-15 min probably. After that, an apology for the optimism and adding another 15 min. He didn’t apologise once per quarter – we got off an hour late and will land 45 minutes late.

This is where the travel gods come in – mixed with technology and a bit of my harebrained wild idea thinking. When the second delay update came, I consulted Tripit Pro for alternatives. Actually only to confirm what I knew – the only relevant one would be to get off the plane and across the terminal corridor and get a seat on SK943 to ORD and a United flight from there to Lansing, my ultimate goal.

(No, I am not Sherlock Holmes – a) that was the connection we got the last time things went seriously haywire, b) a colleague of mine actually would be on it, he told me Friday.)

See – I could look up alternative connections from an iPhone sitting right where I was. And the app on that phone holds my connection data. I would bet you that the same information resides in the airlines’ systems (as long as you have your travel on one continuous ticket – at your own peril if you don’t!). So, I am speculating, if an airline wanted to do stellar service to its customers, they could do as follows: whenever a delay as this happens that looks as if it may put connections at risk, somebody could move a mouse and click a button and run a program that did the analysis – these passengers have connections, these ones will be lost or too tight, here are the alternatives. Then buzz those up to the plane or the gate or wherever people are and personnel there could have a word with them if they’d want to chance it or be rebooked? Call it a premium service if you’d absolutely have to – or just use it as a differentiator? I’m sure it could be done – ok, maybe hard with luggage already onboard. But hey, you’ve listened here, haven’t you – so you’re having carry-on only and can be moved just like that. Smart, or?

You heard it here first :)

We’re now 1,718 km out from CPH and the meal service has just been cleared away. And here comes the next airline marketing thought. See, SAS has just jumped on the “no frills” wagon and decided that beer, wine and liquor along with the meal is for sale only. Reasons quoted in the press have been savings and extra revenues.

Well, let’s see. I acknowledge that this is anecdotal evidence – but looking around me, max. 10% of the passengers bought anything. One saving mentioned was that there would be less need for loading drinks – but as everybody seemed to be having a can of soft drink instead, I don’t see much of that. Amount of beer and wine goes down, amount of Coke Zero goes up – how big was that saving again? Unless, and I didn’t check that, soft drinks are for sales as well when it’s not connected to the meal service.

Of course, as the steward who ran the soft drinks trolley said, “enjoy those while you can – nobody knows how long that will last!” And there’s another effect of the change – the cabin crew clearly came across as hating having to be the frontline people who had to implement a downgrading of the service that they, I’d say, had been happy about being able to offer.

Revenues, then. Let’s say 20% buyers. 264 seats in total on a A330 – business class and SAS Plus gets served – say 200 pax in economy. Average purchase … 150DKK. That makes 40×150 = 6,000 DKK. Or the equal of just a few passenger tickets.

Given how much more alike airlines get – same prices, same planes, same seats, same time to destination, same, same, same – what are the differentiators that airlines can choose? They may be different from business travellers (though Bob knows that we also have to look for pricing) to holiday travellers – but I am actually starting to think that if I have a choice between two different airlines on a route and the price difference is not startling, then I may well start looking at the service level on board. And while I am a devout happy SAS flyer and Eurobonus member since 1992, let me just say that Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian – all Star Alliance – offer better onboard service. And so does British Airways – and the One World program seems to me to offer at least as good returns in terms of awards per flown mile.

So maybe these reductions “because people only look at the price of the ticket” is not what you want if you have a wish to keep a customer base. I do not have high thoughts of myself as a trend maker – but I am convinced that if that thought has come to me, it must have come to many, many others.

20140320-142144.jpgBack to the flight. Though the screens in the plane kept putting us on the ground 45 mins late, it was actually an hour later than scheduled when we touched down. And you should think that they’d had time to clean up for us but nevertheless there was another plane blocking our access to the gate as we taxied in. So all in all we probably were in the terminal at 17:25 or so. With an 18:19 departure, that was going to be fun…

I’d asked the crew – they’d told me that immigration in EWR was fast and efficient. A fellow passenger that I chatted with in the immigration queue – which was shorter by a good deal than in IAD a month ago but still took about half an hour – said that she’d be told that United would be alerted and aware and there to help. Well – we didn’t see any assistance. But United, in my experience, never does.

Security in the A terminal is a story all by itself – I’ll write that up as an airport review next. Suffice it to say that I made my connection against all odds.

So, my dear home airline – malfunctioning internet check-in, reduced onboard service, an hour’s delay plus connection advice and assistance well short of optimal. You can sort of tell that I am not impressed with you, I guess. It’ll be two Cobblestones only – and to be honest, you get one of them for our long relationship, not on performance this time.

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Monday Motorway Music™, March 10 – Music, Spring & Blog Housekeeping

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What is that? I have no idea – my iPhone 5C is sometimes rather trigger happy when I take photos and I get the odd odd shot. Usually as quickly deleted – but something about this bluesy image stuck with me a little bit. Accidental art. Or something.

The “boring” stuff first – at least, I have an idea that housekeeping isn’t on many Top 10 lists of Yay! Things to do!! I have taken the consequence of the CCM articles – Cobblestone Cooking and Music – reaching to #4 and added a background page on what that is all about. See – the link’s right there in the bar at the top. Or here, if you’re lazy.

2014-03-08 14.53.12As to spring, it has been so lovely in the weekend and still is – I can see through the window and even feel the sunshine’s touch, here on the wrong side of the window pane. That made us go for a nice long walk with the dog in the local forest on Saturday, down to the local brewpub. A good glass of Tripel Blonde in the sun (the dog had a bowl of water) and then an equally nice walk back. Mmmm :)

The music, then – the piano playing in Hammy’s Boogie is so amazing that a) I actually heard it twice, b) was keenly aware of why I stopped playing piano many, many years ago as my talent honestly, really wasn’t there. But the joy of music and for a really good pianist is still there!

Hammy’s Boogie – Darts
Gold Dust Woman – Fleetwood Mac
Clair de Lune/Ballerina – Styx
I Maschi – Gianna Nannini
The Real Thing – Lisa Stansfield

Images by me.
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Cobblestone Cooking Music vol IV – Cake and A Classical Danish Lunch-thing

Here’s the fourth instance of CCM – and now there’s a little bit of introduction to the thinking behind…

  • Sinne Eeg, Hours of Ours
  • CV Jørgensen, Skygger af skønhed

First the baking. Basically, we had a leftover minor bucket of absolutely-not-homemade strawberry jam. “Roulade”, we thought – and I probably need to figure out if that is the correct English word… Actually, in general, vocabulary will be a challenge here – suggestions in the comments will be much welcomed!

  • No Doubt, Don’t Speak
  • Gnags, Slingrer ned ad Vestergade

Split 3-4 eggs, whip the yolks with an equal number of tablespoons warm water and some sugar to a pale yellow, light, airy creamy substance. Whip the whites very stiff, whip in a bit of sugar with a touch of vanilla, turn them out in the bowl of yolk/sugar. Take 6 tablespoons (flat, no top) of flour, 5 of potato starch (can corn starch do? no idea!) and three teaspoons of baking powder, mix and sieve on top of the egg mix. Gently!! mix – I use a balloon whisk – as you’ve painstakingly put a lot of air into this and as much as possible, it should stay there.

  • Six Was Nine, Drop Dead Beautiful
  • Roxette, Hotblooded

Spread the – dough? batter? – on a baking plate covered with baking paper. Aim for a nice rectangle. Bake for 10 min at 200°C. Prepare another piece of baking paper on your kitchen table, sprinkle it with sugar. When the cake’s done, take it from the oven and turn it upside down on to the sugared paper. This is so much easier to do if you have a set of helping hands!

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Brush the paper that is now on top of the cake (was below in the oven) with cold water and gently peel it off. Spread your jam evenly on top and then as firmly as you can, roll the cake from one end. Remove jam that’s spilled out and wrap/roll the roulade into the sugared paper and leave to cool and set.

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Note: when the cake gets out of the oven, you do not have much time. The cake needs to be rolled while it’s warm and “pliable”.

Enjoy.

  • Foreigner, Waiting For A Girl Like You & I Want ToKnow What Love Is

Now for a completely different animal – Danish “leverpostej” (liver paste or pate, sort of).

  • Bachman Turner Overdrive, You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet
  • Amy Winehouse, Back To Black

You start with very finely minced liver and lard – calf or pig. Mix so that there is not lumps of lard, if it wasn’t minced together. We don’t mince our own – no hardware for that – but Danish supermarkets carry these things frozen.

Finely, very finely, grate onion, add in along with salt and pepper, a little oregano and allspice.

  • Niki & The Dove, Last Night
  • Daft Punk, Get Lucky

Add eggs and then make a roux of butter, flour and water. Mix the whole thing together and put into suitable baking forms. We use ceramic ones – these are brilliant in that they can go straight from freezer to oven. Thus, we make 4-5 of these at once – they’re maybe 20-25 cm in diameter – and put one in the oven, the rest in the freezer.

  • Barbara Streisand, The Way We Were
  • Starship, Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now

Bake, 200°C for 45-60 min depending on the size. Eat while still warm (can certainly be eaten cold, too – but nothing, or at least not much, beats freshly made, warm leverpostej) on rye bread with slices of cucumber or with pickled red beets. Or – to top everything else – with crispy bacon and champignon that’ve been sliced and fried on the pan. Serve with a good, cold beer – today it’ll be an IPA from Skovlyst. And Beth Hart has it nailed down in the song that ends this cooking event – it is as Good As It Gets!

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  • Jevetta Steele, Calling You
  • Beth Hart, Good As It Gets
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Friday Bicycle Music™, March 7 – Enjoying the Gifts of Nature

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Woohoo! First bike ride to work this season – I have now officially declared spring!

I checked my logs and it came in sort of mid in the performance spectrum on averages and only two minutes slower than the first ride of last year. But – and this is the good part – almost a month and a half earlier than last year. So chances galore to make it a good long season :)

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The sun as seen above was orange and beautiful and greeted me just around the first kilometer mark. 3°C and no wind to speak of – the latter still seems to be the case some 3-4 hours before I call it a day and a week and head home. And that is promising as yesterday’s forecast had a 7 m/s headwind planned. Keeping fingers crossed.

On top of the sun and the calm and beautiful weather, I had a doe gallopping across the path only some 30 meters in front of me in the last of the forests that my route takes me through. And when I came to the first of the lakes that I pass, two majestic swans were idly paddling, leaving wakes as about the only ripples on the water.

Apart, of course, from the exercise, those things – the sun, the bird song, the rare glimpse of deer, the smell of pine, the wind on my face – are the reason why I bike. Such a pleasure and such a privilege to be able to experience. In the words of Sheryl Crow from the list below: All I Wanna Do! Well –  not all, maybe, but certainly an important thing to me.

Kayleigh – Marillion
Rette Mich – Nena
Guns And People – Eric Serra (Subway Soundtrack)
Listen To Your Heart – Roxette
Elisabeth – CV Jørgensen
The Way To Your Heart – Soulsister
Flashdance (What A Feeling) – Irene Cara
Dead Ringer For Love – Meat Loaf
Morgen i april – TV-2
Burning Down The House – Tom Jones with The Cardigans
Hallelujah (live) – Paramore
My Melancholy Blues – Queen
All I Wanna Do – Sheryl Crow
Rough Boy – ZZ Top
Babe – Styx

Images by me and the Runmeter App.
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Monday Motorway Music™, March 3 – More Mental Motorists

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Not today’s queue. Far too much space between cars here..

Not a word about misuse of alliterations, please ;)

But today was yet another Monday where traffic took a hit – because a couple of cars apparently took it upon themselves to hit each other. So transit time was 2X normal – and that was dodging the route with the accident, once I woke up enough to realise that the slow, crawling queue was slowly crawling rather more (should that be less?) than on a normal morning.

Now, that’s one thing – going slow when you’re on the route that is subject to an accident further ahead. But had I been going the opposite way, southbound, where I saw maybe four of five kilometers of very, very slow going – I’d have been livid. The absolutely only reason for that queue was that morons in cars apparently needed to pass very, very slowly to gawk.

Gaaah!

I know I have recently ranted about it here – but, really people? Just. Don’t!

In other news: Could anyone tell me where February went and how it got away with doing it that quickly? I’m at a loss to explain either.

Crime Of The Century – Supertramp
Gimme All Your Lovin’ – ZZ Top
Moving On Up – M People
I Kissed A Girl (Rock Mix) – Katy Perry
I Want It All – Eurythmics
Traffic Radio – To Figure Out Why There Was A Queue
Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
Wap-Bam-Boogie – Matt Bianco
The Lady Is A Tramp – Tony Bennett & Lady GaGa
Wicked Game – Chris Isaak
Nine Million Bicycles – Katie Melua

Image by me.
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Monday Motorway Music™, February 24 – A Busy Week

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Probably won’t have time to look much to the left and right this week – it’ll be hectic, so eyes firmly on the road ahead, so to say. At least, then, it was nice to have that sunrise to start a Monday morning with (especially when comparing it to a not so fun one recently).

Department event, closely following a major product launch, business manager meeting with an update to give, two meetings at the same time Tuesday (makes your head spin, doesn’t it), a full 12-hour planning day for some Scouting on Saturday. And stuff, regular stuff in droves. Oh, and I have my birthday in the middle of it, too :)

Short list – mostly as that Disco Inferno thing is looong (10 minutes and change). Had me bumpin’ in the seat, though!

Disco Inferno – The Trammps
Distant Dreamer – Duffy
The Chain – Fleetwood Mac
Dizzy – Siouxie and the Banshees

Image by me.
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