Hat Off to Harvard.

Three weeks on the road and counting… no, that can’t be right – since I’ve lost count! Of everything. The number of flights, hotels, cities, taxis, friendly maids, and of course the zillions – or thereabouts – of interviews, roundtables, presentations, lectures, partner meetings and negotiations. I’m a bit fuzzy on the what and where of the last 21 days. If I try hard and really get the old memory working – a few bits of spatiotemporal data do start to appear, but it’s still all a bit blurry. The best way of giving the cognizance a jolt is by looking over my photo archives – my own special personal pics on my laptop (sorry, I’ll be keeping those to myself!) and public ones – on Flickr and Instagram.

Yesterday we found ourselves at the place where a Tea Party led to no less than the American Revolution – Boston. I’ll skip the business part of the day and get straight into the more interesting bit – checking out some of the local must-sees, actually, one in particular.

The suburbs of Boston, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (curious official state title considering this place’s association with fighting the country with the original, biggest and baddest commonwealth! Maybe not, we are in New England, after all :), are home to the oldest, most respected, most prestigious, (and I’m sure there are many more mosts this place can claim) university in the USA (the world?). Of course I’m talking about Harvard, in the town of Cambridge (not to be confused with town of the same name in the UK – also home to a multi-most uni).

To say this place impresses will hardly come as a surprise. Of course it impresses. It has an aura about it – the unmistakable aura of academe, something I both respect and have fond memories of (back in my home country). A magical bookish atmosphere against a backdrop of imposing classical 18th-19th century architecture. Lush!

Incidentally, it was here where the Oscar-winning A Beautiful Mind was filmed.

Well that’s enough words. Let the pictures say a thousand things more than words ever could…

Not red rock; red brick

More: Hat Off to Harvard…

Boutique Art – Modern Hotel.

Hi all! We’re still darting about the U S of A… California, Arizona, Illinois, Kentucky, and on and on and on. As before, there continues to be few opps for tourism (well, apart from Arizona, already mentioned), while opps for work in various shapes and sizes are plentiful. Along the way we’ve been coming across assorted anomalisms and atypicalness, invariably snapped by D.Z. before you’ve time to say photogenic (I think he’s moonlighting as a travel photographer, you know. In fact I’m sure of it!) Here’s one such oddity. This one in the Windy City: More: The kunst continues …

Flickr photostream

Instagram photostream

The Grand Canyon State – Continued.

Northern Arizona is famous for its astounding landscapes. In a relatively small area that can be covered in a car in just two or three hours there are three unique red rock formations.

First, there’s the world famous Monument Valley, offering breathtakingly beautiful panoramic views. Alas, we didn’t manage to get up close to it ourselves – only flying over it on a plane; but that was still enough to overload the senses with the place’s grandiosity.

Second, there’s Antelope Canyon. This is a mind-blowing slot-canyon – a big crevice in red sandstone. This is how it looked:

More: And regarding the third …

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Red Rocks Rock!

Howdy all!

Been quite hectic of late on the road, and quite a while since I’ve downed tools (laptop, microphone) and chilled a bit in a nice location – even though there’ve been plenty of interesting and unusual places along the way. Let me make amends…

So here we are, at the aptly titled Enchantment Resort, Sedona, Arizona, USA.

This is a real nice hotel and with really picturesque surroundings. It has cabins scattered about the valley and amazing views of red cliffs all around. Breathtakingly beautiful! And the weather ain’t bad of course either. The resort also has a golf course, allegedly a super-duper spa (didn’t get round to trying it out), and wild deer perma-guests that occasionally appear in the clearings around and about the grounds. I really recommend this place if ever you’re in sunny Arizona.

As is often the case on the more exotic of my travels – since pictures speak louder than words, let me give you some photos; no – lots!

More: Red Rocks hotel…

A Hard Day’s Shooting in the Desert.

Howdy!

I love my job. Sometimes it gets really fun. But sometimes it gets mega-fun, like today…


It’s been high time to replenish the arsenal of corporate photos for a while now, so we thought we’d do it properly – and where else but in a remote corner of Arizona, of course! It was out here on the landing strip of Sedona Airport – up on a hill surrounded by desert – that we had a real-pro photo session… which lasted a whopping six hours! We decided to let photographer-to-the-stars Jonas Fredwall Karlson do the shooting, after he did such a great job with the pic for an article in Vanity Fair some time back. He really knows his stuff!

Sedona’s a popular place with the New Age lot, apparently. Nice place. Super views. Unusual place! More familiar to us in these unfamiliar surroundings was the jet we flew in on: we’ve flown on it quite a few times already, but to an airport atop a hill in desolate wilds like this – that’s a first.

Let me go over the last few days in order.

It all started off with a bit of time travel – Dr. Who or Back to the Future style (take your pick). On November 1 at around 5pm Tokyo time we flew out of the Japanese capital and traversed Pacific Ocean to land in Los Angeles, California – at 11am on the same day, November 1. Doctorin’ the Tardis or what?

But after that nice bit of time gain it pains me to say that it all went downhill from there. From touching down to leaving the airport we had two (TWO!) hours waiting around in various lines – passport control, customs… and to make matters way worse, all the waiting around was topped off with killer dose of I-truly-couldn’t-care-less American “service” at every turn. I guess our negative first impressions this time were made worse for just having just been – later that day! – in Japan. What a contrast!

Anyway, getting on with business… in LA we had a (surprise!) busy schedule. First I spoke at the UCLA; then we got together with our regional partners and partied; and next morning we were on the plane and heading for Sedona.


UCLA campus

Here’s a view of the airport’s runway on approach. We landed not long after.

And some more shots of the surrounding landscape…


Not our plane!


That one’s ours! It’s not all work, work, work, you know :)

From Columbia to Colombo.

Hi all!

Now, if you’re not too hot on geography, I’m writing this from Washington, D.C., with the D.C. standing for District of Columbia, don’t you know. There’s another Washington – Washington state – on the other side of the American continent, but without the D.C. There’s a Colombia – the South American country; then there’s Columbia University in New York; there’s Columbo – the TV detective fond of beige sack-like raincoats; and to add to the confusion, round the other side of the globe there’s Colombo – the largest city of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), which is where we’re headed today.

Our three days in Washington whizzed past like a film on fast-forward: As per, we were whizzing about all over the place getting to event after event. And I really mean whizzing – just like a (non-D.C.) squirrel in a wheel – unlike the local squirrels here, which royally, haughtily and languidly stroll about parks as if they own them – not the easily-startled beasts I’m used to.

I won’t tell you all about all the events we took part in here – there’s not much point and it’d probably be pretty dull reading! (Note to event organizers/participants – your events were not dull to me :) I’ll just share with you one comment about the Billington Cybersecurity Summit where I got to speak about cyber threats, more info on which you can read here.

I really enjoyed personally meeting a whole lotta highly placed officials at the event and discussing with them in some detail the topic of cybersecurity and fighting computer maliciousness around the world. I was pleasantly surprised by how much these ladies and gentlemen – on whom a lot of US policy and thus security depends – know about the subject, and especially pleased to discover that their positions are very much like mine. Phew.

Work done, come Saturday we were able to get a bit of sightseeing in. We even managed to visit a couple of museums. The National Museum of Natural History we didn’t think too much of – all those dug-up mastodons and dinosaur bones look kind of unconvincing. While the Air and Space Museum… oh yes – that was more like it. All sorts of interesting stuff to see there, from the Wright brothers’ first airplane to the very latest drone. There are Messerschmitts, an SS-20, a Pershing, copies of Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz, and so on and so on. I decided against taking photos – there are plenty on the Internet. But it’s best to see it all in the flesh, of course.

The White House

More: Columbia-Doha-Colombo …

Kamchatka-2012: Fishes, Not Phishes!

Days 20-22 (6-8). Rafting.

Kamchatka’s hardly known for its rafting: none of the rivers are all that lengthy – only long enough for three or four days rafting at the most. Calm rapids, calm swells. Almost all the rivers I know about here are pensioner-level! Therefore, rafting on Kamchatka is recommended only as an addition to other activities, as a wind-down exercise to allow those blisters a brief respite, and of course to get one’s fill of fresh fish!

Kamchatka Dock

More: The fish menu …

Kamchatka-2012: Tolbachik and the Northern Fissure.

Hardy tourists are attracted to Tolbachik in high season like… like office workers to social networks during office hours! But this year there were even more tourists than usual – maybe too many. The Leningrad Base we were staying at was filled with more than a hundred tourists from different countries – with groups from Poland and Germany among others. But this is quite understandable really, since there’s so much to see here. Besides the black-red desert and hills of the Northern Fissure there’s also Ploskiy (Flat) Tolbachik to check out – a must …

More: Kamchatka-2012: Tolbachik and the Northern Fissure.. . .

Star City.

Greetings all!

Here we are again. September. The holiday month of August over, and it’s back to work – which for me means back on the road or, rather, in the plane. This season is set to see me doing my usual globetrotting thing, but with the itinerary including some new countries and new events. Goodo, gotta keep some novelty in there! The schedule needs to stay real flexible as plans can easily change real quick, as experience has shown many times. This year I may even break my previous record – or maybe better put, dubious record – of 100 flights made in a year. This year I’ve already notched up 59… (I keep careful count of them, just in case).

But between Kamchatka and the next whirlwind tour, I really wanted to “lay low in MOW” for a few weeks, get my bearings, regroup, ground myself, and all that – and re-familiarize myself with the abode and city I – on paper – reside in. I figured this necessary as I’d started forgetting which switch is for the kitchen and which for the hall! Thus, today – a story and pics about a trip to a really interesting place in the Moscow Region – the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City. This place is really something – I highly recommend a visit. A day excursion can be arranged where they show and tell you all, let you poke and prod the various exhibits and climb inside the spaceships in which they train cosmonauts (who keep appearing in the hall walking about to and fro, to the delight of the excursioners).

You can clamber inside the reentry capsule of Soyuz in which cosmonauts return back to earth. The guides go into all sorts of detail about space missions and the landing back on earth, about particular cases, and so on and on and on… I won’t tell you it all here. Best see it and hear it all for yourselves in the flesh.

Training Center Dummy

More: centrifuges, hydro-pool, planetarium and MIR space station …