Category Archives: Odds & Ends

Things from the other parts of my life

The world in a blink — had to share this!

Check this out!!! Awesome!!!

Two minute time lapse photos.
Joe Bush got a high school assignment to make a video production. He chose history as a theme and tucked it all into two minutes. Took pictures from the Internet, added the sound track MindHeist by Zack Hemsey (from the movie Interception) and then you get something like this. It’s an intense ride, fasten your seat belt.  Joe Bush surely got a A for effort
Full screen—Volume on

Hang on to your seat, and don’t blink


Passport fees to increase

New Schedule of Passport Fees to Take Effect on July 13, 2010

On June 28, 2010, the U.S. Department of State published its Schedule of Fees for Consular Services in the Federal Register. The schedule includes fees for passports, immigrant visas and other consular services. The changes will take effect on July 13, 2010. The revised fees will cover actual operating expenses for the 23 domestic passport agencies.

The most significant changes are increases in standard adult passport fees from $75 to $110 and standard minor passport fees from $60 to $80. Passport cards will increase in cost from $20 to $30 ($15 for minors). The Department of State expediting fees remain at $60 per application.   The Department will begin charging $82 for adding extra pages to existing passports, plus applicable State Department $60 expediting fees. In the past, the Department provided extra pages in a customer’s passport, at no charge. The Department found that the cost of the pages themselves, having the pages placed in the book in a secure manner by trained personnel, and of completing the required security checks results in a cost to the U.S. Government more than $82 per passport book, therefore, the Department will charge the same for previously free service.

Willamette Intl Travel suggests that the traveler request a larger 52-page passport book offered by the State Department for travelers who anticipate needing more than 28 visa pages over the lifespan of the passport.  Any passport applicant may request a larger book at the time of application by including a letter of explanation.  The larger passport is issued at the discretion of the Passport Office and is available at no additional cost.

The adjusted fees are based on a Cost of Service Study completed by the Bureau of Consular Affairs in June 2009. The study, which was the most detailed and exhaustive ever conducted by the U.S. Department of State, established the true cost of providing these consular services, which the Department recovers through the collection of fees.

In their official public announcement the State Department says, “While the Department of State is aware of the financial impact this fee increase may have on individuals and businesses, its passport processing operations must be self-sustaining to the extent possible, and it has accordingly set these fees at a level that will allow cost recovery–and not more. The Department also maintains that the increase in passport fees is not significant incomparison with the overall costs of international travel.”

Thank you to Willamette International Travel in Portland for bringing this to my attention.

There is a story with every car!

One of the pleasures of participating in car shows is the chance to meet so many nice people.  And all you have to do is ask them to tell you the “story of their car” and you are on your way to making a new friend.  Attending the 2010 Oregon Mountain Cruise in Joseph, OR this month was one of those opportunities.  Sitting in line to park in the car show took a bit of time, and John went back to talk with the gentleman in the white Cadillac behind us, then telling me that he’d learned that the man was driving “his dad’s car.”  I thought that sounded great–so I went back to say hi, and share that I had MY dad’s car at home, too.  That’s how I met Mike Brennan.  He said, that yes, the Caddie was his dad’s car–and his dad was Walter Brennan, and this was his last car.  (Now do you see why he looks so familiar?!)  When Walter Brennan wasn’t working in Hollywood, he was with his family ranching in Joseph, OR.  He moved the family there in 1941, and became an active part of the community.  Mike shared with me many stories of his dad and the legacies in the town, stories of the car, and living in Joseph through the years.  It was clear that Mike is very proud of his dad, and his community.  It was a delightful day!  Mike has given me permission to share the photos and his story, and asked that I send him copies of the pictures.

All you have to do is ask tell me the story of your car!  You meet the nicest people!

The Packard goes to Michigan

Love a road trip!  Last summer’s adventure was driving back to Michigan with the Packard  in it’s trailer, to attend the Good-Guys car show in Columbus, OH.  It was a great year to drive across country, after spring rains to make everything green–including the Bad Lands.  While in Michigan, my dad got to take a spin in the Packard.  Love the picture!

I’m not in India!

I had been increasingly excited about flying out last Thursday for a Collette Vacations familiarization tour of India!  India was probably my first “dream destination” as a child, to see the Taj Mahal!  This was a great opportunity to go there, and explore the possibility of escorting a group to India sometime in the future.

Do you ever have a premonition that something isn’t going to happen?  I had some feeling that this tour might not happen, for terrorism reasons, or some other undefined cause.  So I didn’t tell people much about it, or even get my visa until the last moment.  But when we got about a week away, I was pretty confident.

HA!  So after my usual pre-trip packing frenzy, we flew out of Portland early last Thursday morning to JFK for a connecting flight to Brussels.  Suitcases full  of items to give to  Mother Teresa’s Ashram, which the Collette Foundation supports, and visits during tours.  After an uneventful flight, we made our way to Terminal 8, for a Jet Airways flight to Delhi.

That’s the first we heard about the impact the volcano in Iceland was having on the world!  Our flight was cancelled until the next morning.  About 18 of us in the Collette group met at the terminal, in phone contact with the Collette offices.  THAT’S why I travel with a cell phone, even for use only in the States! (Note to self:  Next time, pack the phone charger in your carry-on!)

By that time, the Collette office already had a motel reservation in place for us–finding some of the last rooms in the airport vicinity. We’d leave our luggage checked for the hoped-for flight the next morning. Transportation was on it’s way!  The lodging was a Super 8 motel, in Jamaica, NYC–which turned out to be clean and comfortable.  Much better than a night in JFK on a cot!  John & I walked a few blocks down the street to a deli for a sandwich for dinner–the cashier laughed and said “You aren’t from around here, are you?!”  She knew as soon as we’d said a word!  She was so friendly, and sorry that we were having a trip delay.  (One of those tiny interactions with a local person that just makes your whole day better!)

Friday proved to be a hectic day for the airport.  All flights to Europe cancelled to avoid the risk of flying through the volcanic ash.  Collette determined at noon to cancel the trip, and quickly arranged flights home for all of us.  By 11:00  PM, we were home in Washington State, watching the news!

A long way to go for a night in a Super 8 and a Rueben sandwich!

Now we just hope the trip can be rescheduled before our visas expire!  And all sympathy to the many, many travelers still trying to reach their destinations.  I hope they have found a friendly person knowing “You’re not from around here, are you?” and providing some peace in the journey.