So if you read my blog earlier this week regarding “Hogwarts” this is a slide show I did using photos taken with one of KDMC’s sweet cameras. It was really nice of them to provide me with a camera to take sight-seeing photos. HA! In all honest, this whole trip was probably one of the best experiences of my life.

I’ve got an information hangover

You know that really nasty feeling you get when you wake up the morning after the night before when you’ve been consuming too much of a good thing. Yeah, that’s how I feel today… except that “good thing” wasn’t booze or beer, it was information.

For those that don’t know, I’m currently in Berkeley, Calif., studying on a fellowship to the Knight Digital Media Center. The Web 2.0 workshop so far has been absolutely fascinating.

In just one day, I’ve already keyed in on so many things we should be doing in the FLORIDA TODAY newsroom. How to make Facebook more efficient as a news agency? How to connect our readers with our reporters so our reporters don’t feel like their private lives have been violated and so our readers are visiting the reporters’ pages and seeing their frat party photos from 20 years ago (Matt Reed).

I’m also discovering new places to post and link to and a few new philosophies as well (It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas). I’ll be sharing those with the executive staff at the paper upon my return, but I’ve already got plans for at least two of our reporters. (Watch out John Torres and Michelle Spitzer).

In a word, the bottom line from Monday’s session was to make the content on our site: Useful. Readers care far more about utility then they do sentence structure, at least online readers anyway. And, public service pieces should provide some kind of service to the public. That service has to be clearly defined at the start of a package so that we can state to our readers what our intent is before we start cranking out copy.

Video training today (like I haven’t done this before), using final cut. Totally loving the Newsroom lab in the KDMC space in North Gate Hall. Complete Mac lab. Pretty sweet digs.

OK, so it is 8 a.m. local time and I’m meeting my fellow fellows in the hotel lobby in a half an hour. I should probably start getting ready.

So after Eric’s great suggestion for lunch yesterday, I went back down to the front desk to inquire about “something different” for dinner. Eric had mentioned great ethnic cuisine just around the corner.

But Kai, the new girl working the desk, said that she’d always been disappointed when she tried the food on telegraph and suggested an Indian restaurant down a different street. She warned me that it was a good 15 minute walk.

So I started out and just kind of took it all in. The place screams college town. Old houses converted into apartments… more apartments… more old houses converted into apartments.

I passed a children’s theater (see the first photo above) that looked beautiful. Definitely have somethings to pass on to my friends Leeanne and Kathy at the Henegar Center.

I finally got to my destination. Food was good. Curry for a second time (despite it being from another region) probably not a great idea. Dinner (see other photos above) consisted of curry soaked spinach with a few chunks of lamb thrown in. The bread… now the bread was another story. That stuff was good.

In addition to a good dinner and a nice walk, I also found a 7-Eleven so I could buy provisions. I can’t start my day off without a “monster” and I also thought it best to get a bottle of water there… rather than the $5.50 a bottle VOSS that is provided in the hotel.

Opening reception in T-minus three hours.

I found Hogwarts

I was on my run this morning around the Berkeley campus and found saw this building that was OMG amazing. I’m sure its a “school of” but it looks like it started out as someone’s “home” place is MASSIVE. I’ll see if I can’t get back over there to get a picture before I head out. Fantastic. !!!

OK, so Kathi dropped me off at the Orlando airport this morning at 6 a.m., I thought it a good idea to grab a quick bite for breakfast as I was flying into Salt Lake City, and as my friend Sara has already pointed out today, you never know what you can’t have because of the Mormons (It’s a joke)…

Now, I love good Asian food and apparently the Hotel Durant sits just a block away from one of the most ecclectic mixes of ethnic food in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. At least that’s what Eric, the dude at the front desk, told me. He did, however, mention that I’d want to avoid the Chinese food in the area. He and the girl to his left both smile and chuckled a bit. So I inquired about Thai food.

I love Thai food. Pad Thai was my training wheels introduction to the stuff at a restaurant my brother took me to in D.C. during a visit in 2003. To say I’m willing to be a little more adventurous is an understatement.

So at Eric’s suggestion, for both food and ambiance, went to Thai House. It’s a little hole in the wall about a block and a half behind the hotel. When I walked up the steps and stood on the deck, I felt like I was at home. It felt like a Florida beachside eatery.

I looked over the menu and was trying to decide what I wanted. Then I noticed that they served lunch until 4. While my stomach was still on Florida time and looking for dinner, it was in fact only 3:30 here. I asked the waitress for her suggestions and she pointed to a pork dish and then said “Oh, you should try our lunch special today”… I glanced up at the sign and quickly agreed with her.

So let me break this down for you, included in the special was:

A salad. Simple really lettuce, tomato and cucumber, but with the MOST amazing balsamic-basil dressing over the top of it. I couldn’t stop eating it and I’m pretty sure I may have to go back again before the week ends, just for that.

A piece of tempura pumpkin: Sweet, salt, crunchy, yum

And then the entree: Shrimp, organic pumpkin, red pepper, carrots in a red curry sauce served with brown rice.

Seriously for $8.95 I couldn’t beat it. Such good food. More to come.

I have arrived. After checking into the Hotel Durant, just west of Telegraph Ave. in the heart of Berkeley, I set out on my first of what I hope are many adventures this week in discovering the sites, sounds and flavors if you will that this town has to offer. More on the flavors in the next post (or see my latest check in on Foursquare).

After a brief bite to eat and a stroll along Telegraph Ave., I decided to seek out North Gate Hall — Home to Knight Media Digital Arts and my host for the week. I’ve heard all the granola munching, tree hugging stereotypes that Berkeley has to offer but the point that gets lost because of the “Hippies” is that Berkeley is a really beautiful campus.

It didn’t take me long at all to find my destination (even without a map in hand or my iPhone guiding me.) So looking forward to this week. Check out the pics and get ready to be jealous about my food find for the day.

Rocky Mountain High

OK, so the second let of my flight to Oakland may not have had a dog in the cabin, but it certainly sounded like there was one in the luggage compartment below.

As flight 1160 from Salt Lake City was taxiing out for take off there was a sound from beneath the plane that truly sounded like someone was sawing the vehicle in half.

Fellow passengers questioned the flight crew:

"What is that sound?"

"Oh, its just the dog"

"The dog?!?!?"

"Yeah, the one we keep on the wheel down below that makes the motors run."

All humor aside, there were some tense moments en route to take off. As we progressed farther away from the terminal, the sound from below changed from someone sawing the plane to a much more familiar sound. Anyone whose experienced the total seizure of an car’s air conditioner compressor can relate to this sound, the shrill of belts on a pully system that are being moved by one pully while another is frozen.

I tried to focus my nervous flier energy on the view out the window. Having only had a short layover in Salt Lake City, I thought it best to take in as much of the Rocky Mountains as possible.

Strange. My mother made me listen to John Denver over and over and OVER again as a kid. When I was four, the first song I sang wasn’t “The Alphabet Song” or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” No, I was brainwashed into thinking that “Grandma’s feather bed” was a children’s classic. They would make me perform when friends came to visit.

Having said that, I now understand the inspiration to his music. I get (at least a little) that whole “Rocky Mountain High” philosophy that brought Mr. Denver fame and made my mother swoon for him as my wife did for David Cassidy and my daughter does for Justin Bieber (yes, I know. God help us all).

And so I watched as we took flight and the mountains disappeared with the turn of the plane. As for the noise, it stopped sometime time during takeoff.

Oakland soon.

He’s not in San Quentin anymore? Then how you gonna know where he’s at? Woman sitting next to me at Salt Lake City airport. (help me)
Salt Lake City layover en route to Oakland.

Salt Lake City layover en route to Oakland.

Why is there a dog on this plane?

So the journey has begun. Though I’d like to say the first leg of the trip out was uneventful… however…

Those of you who know me well, know that I am NOT an animal person. I have to be around an animal for a hefty amount of time before a grow any kind of attachment. People who compare their attachment to their dogs with my attachment to my child should be committed.

Yes, I get it. It cries. You feed it. It poops… well, if you walk it at Gleason Park apparently you just leave a mess for someone else to clean up. Yeah yeah… blah blah blah… I get it. you love your dog. But your dog isn’t a child, you or your spouse didn’t squeeze it out of you… sorry… not the same. Anyway… I’m getting sidetracked.

So you’ll understand my absolute annoyance and frustration when I sat down in my seat on the Delta flight to Salt Lake City and started hearing the “yips” from a small dog seated somewhere behind me.

My first though was it was a child playing. (that’s cute) Then I heard it again and thought I must be hearing things. But no, sure enough seated with her “Mommy”, was a dog. I don’t know breeds it just was. Excuse my anti-caninism… but they all look alike.

And I couldn’t tell you the dog’s name either because “Mommy” never once tried to console or quiet the dog on takeoff… At which time it was discovered there were TWO canines on the flight. Hand to God, it sounded like a freakin’ kennel.

Now my first instinct was to ask the owner to quiet her dog. Luckily, the seats on either side of the aisle next to me are occupied by the understudies for Ronnie and the Situation on “Jersey Shore" … Well on the version of "Jersey Shore" where they haven’t discovered the gym yet… But still.

"Ay, you gonna shut that dowg up?"

"Excuse me?"

"I’m tryin’ to. Now could you shut the dowg the hell up? I’d hate to stain my hand on the colored water in the can ova der tryin flush him."

It was beautiful. It was like Joe Pesci came in from “Good fellas”… “Excuse me? What do I look polite? If you sneeze, do you think I’m gonna bless you? No. Now shut your (bleep)ing dowg up before I put a bullet in him.”

We didn’t hear from the dog again.