About Me

An avid traveler I have had the good fortune to have spent my career in the travel and vacation industry. From Bali to Copenhagen and all points between is where I have been or intend to go. This blog however is specific to the Western half of the United States as I explore this part of the world.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


This morning Sonny and I got up bright and early to walk in the Las Vegas AIDS walk. We had gone to see LeAnn Rimes the night before (Sonny is a fan) and I enjoyed the concert... it was a good time all around. Back to the morning we arrived around 6:30am which was waaay early but Sonny's style and while we got a great parking space we mulled around for about an hour until more of Sonny's team from Travelocity arrived.
I was proud to be Sonny's number one cash contributor to her walk while I was there to keep her company and show solidarity for a good cause. Penn and Teller were the official celebrity hosts and kicked off the walk that looped around an area near the World Trade Center of furniture and the down town area on the edge of the Vegas Fashion District.

There was some live entertainment along the way and plenty of water to keep us hydrated... I hadn't realized how many people where there until we went under a train bridge and you could get a good perspective on how large the crowd really was.

After the walk I had to head home and get ready to get on a plane to Napa Valley for business...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I went to Minnesota and got caught in snow... what can I say? I can't wait to see it in the summer when it isn't so closed down!

Friday, February 23, 2007

My cat Paris

Seems to always come into my office and unleash a flurry of meows whenever I am on a conference call and using the speaker phone...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Carson City for a State Legislative Luncheon

I first must avail my readers of the wacky experience that is the Reno Peppermill. The above photo is what greets you when you enter the casino side of the hotel/casino. I was up in Reno and Carson City to attend a luncheon to meet and greet our Assemblymen and women and to promote our industry. The following are some more shots of the Peppermill...

There is a fantastic French restaurant in downtown Reno that I enjoy very much and it is on along the revitalized area of the Trukee River... it is called Beaujolais Bistro. Below is a poor picture but hey... I was indulging in French wines...

The flight up was followed by a drive down as it is more convenient to drive down to Mammoth Lakes and then continue the drive to Las Vegas than to drive back to Reno and then fly out. It was an extremely windy day as I made my way down to Mammoth Lakes and it made some particularly interesting cloud formations as you can see in this photo...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Private Concert with KT Tunstall

I had a great opportunity to be part of a private concert set up by Travelocity with KT Tunstall, the Grammy Award Nominee. She has been nominated for her song Black Horse and Cherry Tree. She is like 6 times platinum in the UK and is 1 time platinum here in the US as she begins to be recognized. When I went to the concert, I did not really know who she was nor was I familiar with her music or so I thought. However, when her music was being pumped through the sound system I recognized a few songs that I had heard on the radio like Suddenly I See. Because of my wife's relationship with Travelocity we arrived early and had an opportunity to sit down with KT. At first I suppose I was surprised by her small frame... I am 6'4" and she must be about 5' and very petite and understandably a little withdrawn meeting all these people she didn't really know but was open to questions and I recognized an underlying wit and depth of personality and decided I liked her right away and thought to myself, she would be a great person to sit down with, have a Guinness and a great conversation.

After about an hour of meet and greet, about 60 radio award winners filed in to enjoy a private concert with KT. I spoke to a few of them and they were from all over, Alabama, Washington, Mass... and were very excited to have won a trip to Vegas and a private concert.

I snagged a table at the very front of the stage for our party of 4 and the concert began. KT brought only her guitar and some Taiwanese instrument that would sample sounds that she set up before starting a song to either add back up vocals or percussion by beating out a rhythm on the face of her guitar or stomping her boot or both...

I have to say she is a great performer... her guitar was crisp and her voice was strong and clear... she won me over as a fan and as I write this I am downloading her album off I-Tunes. She would pause every couple of songs to do a Q&A with her fans and she proved further that she is quite funny. If music hadn't worked out for her she might have been great at standup.

And, I can't forget to mention that a big part of her involvement with Travelocity for this concert is due to their alignment on the environment. KT is a proponent of reducing pollution that leads to global warming while Travelocity is promoting a program (GO ZERO) where customers can zero out their emissions through a Conservation Fund program that will pay for the planting of trees and replenishment of wilderness areas to reduce CO2 and produce oxygen (of course this only happens through Photosynthesis during the day and at night the respiration process releases CO2 but at a much lower rate than it is consumed during the day).

The concert was held in a very small and cozy venue at the Flamingo in Vegas... after the concert we headed out to continue the celebration an a couple of bars on the strip... fun, fun!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Florida Trip

Made an east trip this past week! Went back to Orlando for company and personal business. It was good to be back in town to see old friends and eat at some of my favorite spots. I was only in O-town for one and a half days and then was off to Key West for another business meeting. It was a somewhat interesting flight out of Vegas however. I sat next to Billy Simms, the Hiesman Trophy winner, a few seats up was Lou Holtz and to my right was Carrot Top. And I wasn't even in first class!

Billy and I chatted a while and not being a huge college football fan... it took me a while to catch on that a) he is famous and b) who he was. I thought he was part of a big group traveling back home as people were walking by as they boarded the plane greeting and interacting with him in a very familiar way, like you would your company manager (the one you like) and Mr. Simms was equally cordial with what turned out to be his many fans. He was nice and down to earth which I thought was pretty cool. I didn't talk to Holtz but chatted with Carrot Top as we walked toward baggage claim. Since both of us are Orlando transplants to Vegas it was interesting to chat about the differences.

The next day after business was taken care of I hooked up with my old right hand, Wui from my days running Hilton Grand vacations International Sales Division better known as ISD. We headed off to our favorite Indian restaurant in Orlando called Dakshin for their fantastic Chicken Vindaloo! It was great to come back after two years and have the staff and owner welcome me like I was still stopping by once a week. The following day on my way down to Key West I grabbed lunch at Firehouse Subs... which is my favorite sub shop in the USA.

The drive down to Key West was not bad at all... I had a Lincoln Towncar signature limited... I was pretty jazzed as it had about 5 miles on it... brand spanking new. Bonus - Sunroof, Negative - a new stereo in a luxury car without XM radio or a jack for my I-pod... lame! I had to rely on my trusty I-tunes FM broadcast attachment. The Cadillac and the Buick Lucern have XM and I-Pod jacks!

The great thing about the Florida Turnpike is the speed limit and lack of traffic. It is an enjoyable ride south.

I arrived in Key West about 8:00pm, checked in and headed down to Duval street to get some eats. I had to stop in to Sloppy Joe's the famous Hemingway haunt for a beer or two. I actually was a bouncer at Sloppy Joe's in Orlando some time ago but that is a whole different story.

The next day I had some time before my client meeting so after answering a few e-mails and making some calls, I headed down to the beach to attempt to look less like a British tourist... you see my ancestry is Danish, English and German... so if I don't spend some time worshipping the sun I look much like that HP bright white inkjet paper sitting in the printer next to you. The beach below is called Smathers Beach.

There was a decent amount of kelp or seaweed on the beach and as I approached bare footed I was glad that I had the presence to see the big purple man o war or whatever just infront of me. I was never a student of aequorea so Man O' War is my best guess. There were a lot of them. The night before there had been a pretty strong onshore wind and I suppose that is how they all got there. To my rescue came a beach comber of the mechanical sort. It was a tractor sized contraption that raked, removed and smoothed the beach in one action.

Seeing that these jellyfish were "floaters" I decided to brave the water after some time in the sun. I live in the desert and it would have to have been a lot more of those jellyfish and circling sharkfins to keep me out.

The client meeting went pretty late into the day but was enjoyable as we had drinks and then dinner at La Trattoria on Duval... excellent service and excellent food! Another place you HAVE to eat at is Blue Heaven... my wife and I stumbled upon this place years ago and were blown away by the food and the experience... go there I command it!

The following day it was a nice breakfast, some time in the sun and then a drive to Miami to catch my plane to Vegas. The drive in the daylight through the Keys is always nice from a visual perspective. Some of the bridges damaged or mostly destroyed stand as testaments to the power of the Hurricanes that blow through the Keys.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Time Warner's Home of the Future

I was reading my January 22'nd New Yorker today and read in the second article under the Talk of the Town section titled Our Changing World about the home of the future model by Edwin Schlossberg hanging in the lobby of the Time Warner Center.

It discussed ideas about laptops in kitchens to look up receives and it made me think back to 1986 when my father Carl Madsen was way ahead of the game in that respect. You see in 1986 when I was a Junior in high school, my parents purchased their first new home... so new in fact that it hadn't been build yet.

My father having working in the computer industry for years with companies such as A.B. Dick, Phillips Micom, Zainax and PRIME was working with what was the leading edge technology. We built our first family computer which was a Zenith Heathkit 80/86 processor with a single 5 and 3/4 drive, 10 inch amber monochrome screen, 20 MB hard drive (yes that is 20 Megabites... I have word documents larger than that) and 16k memory. And for those of you that build computers these days it wasn't nearly as simple as the snaptite proposition of a computer build today... I love reading the forums on overclockers and the tweaks they make to their cmos and cooling... whatever! Imaging standing on an anti static mat, with all of your desktop work area on an anti-static mat and your ankle and wrist attached to bracelets with wires running to said mat? Why all this protection? Because back then you didn't buy a mother board or graphics board with everything soldered on already... you had to do it yourself. soldered chip anchors to the mother board along with diodes, resistors, transistors and every other istor you can think off. Then after you've soldered about 300 different things to the Mobo, but it in the case, soldered 200 things to graphics and modem... you plug it all in and hope you didn't screw one thing up. Guess what... we plugged it in and it didn't work... not because we made a mistake... it was because we had a bad power supply... after replacing that we were off to the races!

Anyway I am getting way off point here. Then new house that was being built, after the framing went up was going to be our house of the future in more ways than one. My father and I went through the house with (I wish I could remember the classification of the wire we ran) half inch think bundled cable that contained enough small wires in it to connect three parallel ports if I recall correctly. We ran these wires from the master bedroom, office, kitchen and living room all to what was planned to be a server room in the basement.

During this time we purchased a second computer similar to the first but was an 8088 with faster graphics... an old Hercules card and we didn't have to build it. We then, mostly my father with me looking over his shoulder started sketching out the plans to have a monitor and laser pen in the kitchen to read the bar codes on our groceries to keep a running inventory and automate the grocery list, put a monitor in the bedroom with speakers that would work as an alarm clock and daily planner with reminders for events and tasks and in the office run multiple PC's that would be networked through a mainframe in the basement with multiple printers and dial up to CompuServe in D.C. (CompuServe was about 6 bucks an hour to use back then) This was all pre-internet. I liked the idea because it would be super cool, I would be the only kid on the block and probably in the region if not the U.S. that had this sort of smart home.

Alas, it did not come to fruition but if Mr. Schlossberg wanted to get a head start on the home of the future our old house is prewired and ready to go in Fairfax, VA...

P.S. My father e-mailed me with this update...

The house was built in 1984. We wired it as a "homerun" and not a "daisy chain" so each individual cabling terminated at a single Telco punch down block. We used 25 conductor, shielded with drain cable terminated at plastic electrical boxes with DB25 female plugs and a coax connector. We could have run anything (telco, thermostat, video, computer, printer,you name it) through it. Unfortunately, our concept was ahead of the technology and software available at the time. (Unless you were willing to write your own programs in BASIC, build the interfaces, spend a LOT of bucks, and be willing to troubleshoot the glitches in your very limited spare time. Naaaaah.) But, it's much easier to run cable before the walls are up! Wonder if the current owners did anything with our "home of the future."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


I had a series of meetings with a client in Sedona, AZ this week and while I could have flown... there is nothing like a no traffic roadtrip. Driving in the Nevada and Arizona desert is great... long straight highways, high speed limits, few to no radar traps, other drivers that observe highway etiquette, great scenery, sunrises, sunsets, drastic flora and fauna changes along with climate due to the many elevation changes... I could go on and on. It is a 5.5 hour trip according to map quest which is an estimate based on your grandparents driving the rout. I make it in about 4.5 hours and I've heard of people making it in 4... maybe in a Prius going 95mph with no bathroom or gas stops. I did it in a Dodge Durango R/T making 13 MPG so missing a gas stop is totally out of the question. I took a different rout down into Sedona this trip... 89 which takes you on a multiple s-curve descent to the valley below... can be great, can be decent... depending on who is driving in front of you, a regular person trying to get down to the valley or someone scared of heights that breaks so much you think they are going backwards.

It was a short stay and all business. As I drove out of the Valley I promised myself that I would come back with Sonny and take at least a weekend to explore what Sedona has to offer other than business opportunities.

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Years Day

I feel better already! And when you are feeling better why not go to the highest point around Vegas and relish the crisp air, snow and tall evergreens... Mount Charleston, an oasis in the middle of the desert. Little did I know, but was soon to discover that everyone else in southern Nevada had the same idea! Families and friends with sleds, picnic baskets, snowboards and skis all ascended Charleston for a holiday romp in the snow... I thought I was driving down the strip on a Friday night... bumper to bumper traffic, 2 mph speed limit... but it was all worth it to luck out on a parking spot at the summit where Sonny and I could get out and enjoy the view. From this vantage point coupled with the bright clear day I could see far out into the valley below and wondered what 2007 held in store for me...

New Years Eve 2006

We decided that we wanted to have a somewhat tame NYE but didn't want to spend it at home nor did we want to face the throng of partygoers on the strip where they lock down the area to car traffic for far too long. For a potential local that might want to arrive later and leave earlier... it is a serious commitment... if you are going, you're going... and if you are leaving, you are walking a good portion of the way home...

We decided instead to enjoy a good but more moderate party at a local club/restaurant called Hannah's. We arrived at 10:00pm and from arrival to departure at close to 2:00am we had a great time... I would say it was exactly what we were looking for... Can I say I sooooo need it to be a New Year! 2007 wooohooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!