SpaceShipTwo Unveil – VSS Enterprise

10 12 2009

So how did I get invited to such a high-profile event? Well someone pretty cool discovered my last blog. 😀 hehe. I don’t like to get too wordy but what a great opportunity to be at the release of the first Commercial Spacecraft. WOW.  I was inspired if nothing else. I talked to so many amazing people, the pilots, the engineers, entrepreneurs, authors, and well even…. socialites (people who carry their own camera crew…haha).  I  didn’t get to talk to Arnold Schwarzenegger; he was ultra protected from really interacting with anyone.  I probably would have been too nervous to approach him anyways…haha.  He was definitely the most “entertaining” speaker of the night.  Ended with “I’ll be back!” Of course I got a picture with my man Sir Richard Branson 😉  Here is my Photo/Video Blog:

Richard now kissing the Governor of New Mexico’s butt 😀 hehe

Arnold Schwarzenegger

These videos make my heart race a little now…at that moment I was freezing to death

Virgin Galactic is definitely a good insurance policy for aspiring Astronauts 😀

A huge thanks to all the pilots, engineers, entrepreneurs who make wonderful things like space flight happen.  You are my heroes 😀

And a special thanks to my new friend Craig Wichner and future Astronaut.  You are the best!

The End (hehhehehe) -Richard Branson’s Butt

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Sir Richard Branson

24 11 2009

Richard Branson arrives at Air Venture with White Knight II


Sir Richard Branson comments he got the first ride because he is the Virgin 😀

Rich Branson kisses Burt Rutan

Pretty much the least fashionable and happiest day of my life 😀

My pics from inside the cockpit (check out the Simpson sticker):


My New Ride Home 😀

I had at least 5 sales guys at Oshkosh say to me (like I was a little girl): “I bet you want to learn to fly now.” No Mo**** F***** I know how to fly! :-p  See if I ever buy a plane from you 😀 Not sure whether to correct them, slap them, or smile and be a “lady” 😀





Rate East Africa

18 11 2009

1) Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls)  3.5 Stars

Pro:

  • intriguing political atmosphere and its effect on the people
  • Many action packed activities: Walking with lions, riding elephants, the infamous bungee jump, Gorge jumping
  • Enjoyed the hippy dive bar I went to

Con:

  • Victoria Falls did not live up to its name (atleast in May)… I like Niagra
  • Activities are high priced

2) Zambia (Zambezi River) 2 Stars

Pro:

  • Campsite on Zambezi River was beautiful
  • I love monkeys and there were thousands everywhere, also animals invade your campsite.. ever see the book “Monkey Portraits” (LOVE IT!)

Con:

  • lack luster overall

3) Malawi 4 Stars – Personal Favorite

Pro:

  • the reason it is my favorite is not because it is the best but because it involved connecting with the culture and the people
  • People in Malawi are very friendly and happy even though they are the poorest (makes you open your eyes ALOT)
  • The Area is beautiful, very lush, very relaxed and most of Malawi is on Lake Malawi

4) Tanzania 3.5 Stars

Pro:

  • All about safaris, and Masaii Mara culture, Snake Park is a must campsite
  • Ngorongoro crater is absolutely the most amazing spectacle in nature

Con:

  • Serengeti was lack luster, in fact null luster (but only because of bad timing… MAKE SURE TO GO ON SAFARI WHEN THE MIGRATION IS THERE BEFORE YOU SPEND $400

5) Zanzibar 5 Stars

Pro:

  • An island in the Indian Ocean almost speaks for itself. All Day Snorkeling, boating  and huge lunch was well worth the $10?!?!? what
  • GO TO KENDWA ROCKS BAR ON HE NORTH SHORE AND DON”T FORGET THE MARKET ON THE SOUTH PART
  • It is not just an Island, it has sooo much culture, history, and don’t forget to take a Spice Tour… well worth it!

6) Nairobi, Kenya 3 Stars

Pro:

  • It is Nairobi, you must say that you have been there
  • You are instantly a celebrity if you are White. I felt like Britney Spears (maybe not a pro)

Con:

  • People Stalk you and hassle you
  • It is not particularly safe
  • Sites are nothing spectucular, unless you go kiss a Giraffe like me 😉 look at my travel page

7) Masai Mara (mostly Kenya) 4.5 Stars

Pro:

  • The GREAT MIGRATION WAS HERE…. sort of. Not in full force but it was here.
  • Felt like I was on the National geographic, scouting around… Kenya has more liberal laws about driving right up on animals
  • The Masaii Mara culture is interesting. From circumsizing girls/boys to killing lions for manhood.

If you would like to see pictures check out my Flickr or you can facebook friend me (let me know who you are and why you are adding me!!!)  And as always, leave comments and feel free to ask questions.





How I Cracked Travel to Europe (under $1800 for 21 days in 13 cities)

9 11 2009

ab2So I just broke up with my boyfriend who told me the only reason we had to split was because if I didn’t like Italy or the things he did it would always be a problem.  Um, ok…Some Men are really good at making up fictitious and ridiculous scenarios. Nevertheless, I won a $1400 Final Cut Studio Software from one of his film festivals. Lucky, eh? Perfect consolation prize I say for being a supportive girlfriend ;-).  I had no use for it even though he did… So I Sold it soon after! Time to plan a trip.  Cheers!  I was only making $25,000/yr from graduate research at Georgia Tech and living in Atlanta. So how do you travel when you are strapped for cash and avoid debt at all cost. Count your pennies, travel really dirt cheap  and ask advice from an Indian guy 😉

The two keys to my savings:

  1. Fly in to London ($600). Most expensive city so I saved money by never staying there but traveling through it twice to see all the sites.
  2. Book with Eurolines Bus ($300 for 15 nights unlimited travel) I saved all my money by busing overnight except from Amsterdam to Rome(where I spend a day and a night)…It was beautiful to see the landscape and meet unusual people on the bus.  Otherwise, I woke up everyday in a new city, in a new country.  Perfect for me.

Eurolines is only for International Tickets at all times so the rest of the rules apply based on this premise:

  1. List your TOP cities before hand  but don’t worry about the order (you must be flexible but have priorites as tickets are not always convenient or available)
  2. BOOK Next ticket AS SOON AS YOU GET THERE….wait till they open if you must (you can purchase first ticket prior to entire trip)
  3. Go to further destinations first then work your way back just in case 15 days run out and you are not back in London
  4. Move on to next location if ticket isn’t available for days in a place you don’t really want to be….come back or not
  5. I recommend extra days in Rome, Paris, London, Munich, and French Riviera
  6. I took Day trips to Amsterdam, Prague, Brussels, Barcelona
  7. I traveled in early May (other off seasons would be even better) for less packed buses
  8. Traveled to French Riviera via train from Marseille…went to Nice and bused for 1 euro between there and Cannes, and Monaco
  9. If you are really cheap like me…. Make sure whatever you bring is something you can carry around all day.  If you are not sure you’ll need it, you won’t.  I would say the only thing I really needed was my neck pillow to sleep and something to keep me warm…ponchos can be useful if it rains, good shoes are always a must.)
  10. Cool trick: use only neck pillow case and stuff it with your socks and underwear…etc. Saves space, keeps things organized.
  11. I stayed with some friends too (tell people you are going…. you never know who knows someone or who is willing to open their house to you, and there is always couchsurfer.com) Good Luck!

Downside:

  1. Eurolines does not care about you…they will drop you off at 4:30 in the morning and you must wait for Metro and to book tickets…mornings were cold.
  2. No bathrooms (pee on the bus before they drop you off!!!)
  3. Sometimes where they dropped you off was not the same place to purchase tickets (but usually in a reasonable walking distance)
  4. If the bus was full (only once or twice in May) you had to master sleeping up straight (my neck pillow is my friend)

The other $800 was for museums, food, souvenirs, and the few cheap hostels where I stayed.  They ran about $16/night (sometimes with free food).





Thoughts on East Africa

28 10 2009

My trip to Africa was not to  feel like a more enlightened “white person” so I could go back to the states and brag about how it has added meaning to me life or that I helped save a tiny village…. I hate phonies. It was primarily for personal growth and to learn about the world around me. Everyone has asked how was Africa? How was Africa? I wish I had finished putting my thoughts into this earlier but here are some short stories and thoughts:

“Idle Men, Laboring Women, Frolicking Children”

These are words I read from the Dark Star Safari as I was experiencing it around me. I’m sure he writes it better so if you want to know more just read his book about his travels from Capetown to Egypt. Why does he say “idle men, laboring women, frolicking children.” First I got the jist that most of the men just don’t like real work. I came to Africa with the opinion that of course Africa needs help, food.  Now I truly believe, You can not help those who do not help themselves. As we drive along the bumpy road men are passed out face first on the ground. What are they doing? Probably passed out drunk. Women are walking the streets carrying 50 pounds on their head with a baby strapped in a towel on their back while men are doing nothing. Kids are running about dirty, shoeless half the time, and completely unattended. Why is this? Their parents fathers are drunk and their mothers are either working or infected with HIV and dead because their husband slept around and infected them. This is told straight from a friend I made over there, who hates his father, his mother was dead and his grandmother raised him. I am not saying they are all like this obviously but if you are going to help you need to get to the root of the problem. And, I am not saying if they are in a crisis like a natural disaster or water shortage you don’t help people. Otherwise, only education will help.  There was plenty of food and resources but without parents willing to work and provide for their children there will be hunger no matter where you go….that is just the way it is. Food is not the problem… people are.

Christianity

When I went through Malawi I had a weird conversation with the oldest African man outside his house about how Malawi is a friendly country because they are a Christian country. This was probably the poorest country we stayed and also the friendliest. I am by no means an advocate for religion but if it gives someone hope when they have nothing to hope for is it worth it? Sometimes I think maybe so. But what if it is really causing them to have blind hope for a distant future and thus be stagnant about their current predicament.  Is being ignorant to reality or truth worth the happiness and contentment it may bring some people for the moment? I don’t know you will have to answer that for yourself. They are a peaceful country and one makes me question why this is when nothing but the worst is happening around them. Many of their family member, parents are dead from HIV and many of them are starving and survived a serious drought. A simple water bottle made a young boy run off like he had the “golden” ticket.

The Smell

 Half of the people had a very strong, strong odor. It was pretty consistent. One person I traveled with gathered that it was probably because they were not getting enough water and their kidneys were excreting odor. I thought it may have been the food. And, I am sure it had to do in part to their bathing habits but… At the end of this trip it may have been my imagination but I started to smell like it. So either my clothes and everything was just soak in the odor from playing with children or I started to smell bad too. I thought it may have been the addition of curry to most of the meals but that was just a crazy Morgan hunch. And maybe it is my imagination but it seemed to linger quite a big after the trip :-/

Dinner at the Locals

A small group of us were invited to dinner somewhere in the village. We stayed at the campsite on the beach and walked with one of the merchants into town for at least 45 minutes.. He went to buy a few things from the very nonexistent market. A girl on the side of the road selling something green. And a few small tomatoes. He asked us if we wanted to sample the rotting fish. We were not sure if this was a joke but I don’t think it was. The fish were covered in flies, hundreds of flies. We tried to give a polite no and continue on. We headed back off the road onto “something” of a trail through shrub and haphazard gardens. We arrived at a few houses constructed from clay and straw roofs, maybe some were aluminum. Our host was a younger guy and so we ended up at one of the smallest homes not much bigger than 200 sqft with 4 rooms. He asked us to wait in the foyer. He came back through the old wornout sarong that was hung in the doorways with a bamboo mat for us to sit on the floor. We chatted briefly then he headed out the back to chop up fire wood. The food was prepared in a small structure (hut) separate from the house. I have an excellent video of his female “landlord” making the food. He had a young baby girl and wife and was taking care of this nephew for whatever reason I can imagine. He had two women, both not his wife prepare the food. It seemed almost as if they were friends but I didn’t understand the social reasoning behind it. The best I got was that when he paid to rent the house it came with a cook so his wife wouldn’t have to. This cook may have been cooking for the whole area, it was not quite clear. We ate with our hands and the mealie-mea (doughy to gather the messier foods).

Being a White Girl in Africa

Was it safe? Well for me..hmmm… Mostly. I was on an overland tour most of the time so I felt fairly safe. However, I had a few big scares to say the least…Nairobi and Zambia. Zimbabwe felt fairly unsafe at the time as well.. the government was in shambles and people were extremely intense in their begging tactics. It seemed Malawi was the safest country… our tour guides let us wander the town freely, visit, make friends, eat dinner, drink at the “local” bar which was no bigger than a 10 by 10 room a mile away on a beatin trail. I sat on the bar and it was lit by a single candle because the power was out (very normal occurrence). Zanzibar was also very safe and cool to meet other interesting white people if this was your intent…. Tons of white hippy types hanging at the market square on the south side. Also, Kendwa Rocks is probably the coolest bar on the North Shore and a must go place (we swam to this bar but you can lodge there).

Conclusion

I have so many other stories and I could probably write a 1000 page book on this if I wanted to but I just won’t. So what have I learned from Africa: (1) Africa is not all about HIV, Starving Children, and Animals. It is a Beautiful Country and the Most Amazing shock for me were the stars. Sometimes the unexpected is the more rewarding experience. In the U.S, you never see even a small fraction of all the stars, galaxies I saw in the sky. Look at my pictures, you will mostly see what I mean. I felt like I had experienced “Heaven on Earth”. (2) You can’t help those who aren’t willing to help themselves. Of course if a much richer person is giving you a hand out you will take it and feel no sympathies, you will also take it for granted like it is chump change to them. The hand that feeds will keep on feeding. Yes people are poor, they allow this. Half of them are pretty content with the way they are living, they know of no different and everyone else lives the same. Otherwise, the men are LAZY and half the time corrupt and you won’t find one person who would try to debate to me otherwise. This is not a resource problem, this is a cultural problem and I am sure they will change with handouts unless they were taken away and they felt they had no other way. Otherwise, they just don’t care, are happy…. some do feel helpless to their corrupt governments and people (but honestly, I work the Intelligence Community, our government is not all peachy keen…there are people involved).

Back in America

My first impressions upon coming back to the U.S. was “Wow, look at all this shit. How did it get here?” ..particularly since I arrived in NYC. This was probably the biggest eye opener of all…COMING BACK.  Home looks so different when seen through different eyes.   I looked at a simple 4-legged chair differently.  Life was so simple back in africa. You had the clothes on your back and maybe a pot to cook in. I miss that…I really packed nothing, and traded anything I didn’t need anyways, including underwear. 😀

Sorry if it is not perfect grammar or spelling… I don’t have time for perfect.  You read it!  I will have other posts on Africa…advice, more fun less serious topics, how to, anything you want to know in the next posts?