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About markeb

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    Northern Virginia
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  1. Interesting framework. Most of the questions were predictable. A lot of them are inside baseball and probably seem minor, but they really aren't. And the IT piece will absolutely be a nightmare. I'm looking at my TRICARE medical record, for instance, and the flu vaccine I got at a pharmacy last year is listed as a medication, not under immunizations. Hope there are some details in the works somewhere...
  2. Actually answered that, but it's in a long answer. Absolutely! Some pubs can get kind of crazy in the evening, but kids are fine. I gave a longer answer above. Some pubs are really small, some are a lot bigger. Too many these days have the same menu of burger and nachos, so look around a bit.
  3. That's unfortunate.For the US, your personal exemption requires you to carry the item with you, so no duty on the first $800 per person, essentially, combinable for a family. The duty on most items shipped really isn't that much anyway, but now you'd have to figure in shipping, etc., and you'd probably only really look at larger businesses that already have international shipping. Kind of kills Travelex and Global Blue in the UK! It's going to be interesting to see how this whole process impacts sales of EU items (clothing, shoes, cosmetics, etc.) that had been good buys in London the last couple of years (at least for US travelers). Bond Street could look different... As long as you can still buy whisky at Heathrow!
  4. Yes for the Tube. Had to dig (not on the visitor page) but TFL says only touch in on busses and trams.
  5. Oyster Cards: Did you find the Visiting London site on TFL? That's probably your best source of information. You can order visitor cards for delivery to the US and have them ready to go when you arrive. You can also use contactless credit cards, iPhones, and Google Pay, but the Oyster is still probably the easiest. Also easy to top off, and you can get a refund when leaving. Cash and ATM's: Please reconsider this. By far and away the easiest, most affordable way to get pounds is from a bank (important that it's a bank) ATM. You won't need many. London has become almost cashless. Seriously. Yes, small vendors probably are looking for cash, but it's just so easy to take cards these days. We spent 7 nights in London over this last New Year's and I probably used less than £20 in cash. Theatre: What day of the week? Different shows will have matinees on different days, in general. Visitlondon.com has good information, obviously currently dated as the theatres are dark. Look up "Come From Away". It's one of the best, and accessible, musicals I've seen in years, and the London production (pre-COVID) was outstanding. It also has a straight through roughly 100 minute running time, which could be useful for your last day in London. Windsor is well worth the day, BTW. I might try to catch a show or two during your initial stay and go to Windsor from the airport area. Pubs: Kids are fine. Yeah, after work is a different crowd from lunch or early dinner. If you actually expect to enjoy a decent pint, look up pubs on CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale), and recognize that most pubs in London today are sadly part of a large chains. You can find some that aren't chains, with work, or I personally find the Fuller's pubs to be a good compromise. There are museums everywhere. Depends on where you're staying, what you're doing, and your interests. National Gallery is amazing, the British Museum is also incredible, and the Imperial War Museum is likewise fascinating. But there are many.
  6. Source? The mutations have so far not significantly impacted the immunogenicity of the SPIKE target. It is not the flu, nor is it mutating like the flu.
  7. JB included the information to visit the stack of rocks at Stonehenge (seems to be a UK joke; I've actually been twice and enjoyed it), but more importantly Salisbury. I don't know what there is to do see at Highclere, but Salisbury is a wonderful city to just explore. The cathedral is amazing, and you have the opportunity as JB says to see one of the 4 original copies of the Magna Carta. There's a very nice Market Place, and some very nice pubs. The Haunch of Venison is sort of a must see (apparently still independent, JB?), listed by the Campaign for Real Ale, and has its own little slightly macabre "resident". I never was into Downton Abbey, but if you were, then Highclere may just be a must see, but do look at all there is to do in Salisbury as well. It's one of my favorite cities in the UK. A lot will depend on how much time you really have in port. Oh, and UK weather in the fall: Could be hot, could be cold, could be in between. Will probably rain, but might not. Layers, layers, layers. And if you're going to spend a day walking, one pair of water resistant to water proof comfortable shoes (like sneaker style hikers). The same will probably serve you well on the ship, although I've never done a TA, but have done a summer UK to Norway to Iceland and used most of my layers along the way.
  8. Getting away from the Kaiser following unification is kind of a common theme. Probably means the family wasn't Prussian. Could be Hessian or Bavarian, for instance. Do you know if the family was Catholic or Lutheran? You can do some regionalization on religion, although most of the maps are current, not mid to late 1800's. Do you know where they originally arrived in the US? There are also some patterns, some of which are actually more than a little funny in the 21st Century. For instance, a fairly large group migrated to Texas through Galveston in the mid 1840s from Hesse. At that point in time, the Hessians and Bavarians probably hated each other more than they hated the French (post Napoleon time period). They settled in a couple of areas north of San Antonio, in the Hill Country, and established New Braunfels and Fredericksburg. In the 20th Century, New Braunfels became a tourist destination in Texas, hosting an annual festival called Wurstfest (pronounced worst, not vurst), with prominent Blau mit Weiss (blue and white) Bavarian flags... Do some research on what you can do. In a bizarre way, the train trip, a little walking around, and maybe a short river cruise, on your middle day, could be more relaxing for your mother than the go-go-go that Amsterdam can become. And if I read correctly, you'll have another day on your return before flying home. It would be a long day, and I ordinarily wouldn't even suggest it, but it is something to think about. And I'd personally want to get out of Frankfurt towards Wiesbaden or Mainz where there's a little countryside, but that's a drive you almost certainly won't have time for. And the Frankfurt airport is just a (nicer than average) huge airport for a layover, inside.
  9. I'd generally agree with staying in the Netherlands versus a rushed trip to Germany, but do you know where in Germany her family is from? German unification "officially" only occurred in 1871, although it was the result of political and military actions dating to around 1848. So, at the time the family emigrated there probably would have been multiple German speaking independent states, each of which was (and in some ways still is) very different geographically, politically, religiously, and even the language is different. And, unfortunately for what you're asking, Germany's long axis is North to South, so if, for instance, the family is from Southern Germany, such as Bavaria, that's as far from Amsterdam as you can go. Cologne (Köln) is probably the the closest to Amsterdam. You can make the trip in under 3 hours on an ICE high speed (read expensive) train, from Centraal to the Köln Hauptbahnhof (main train station). The Hauptbahnhof is in the middle of the historic district, on the Rhein River, adjacent to the Köln Cathedral, and the Opera House. It's surrounded by Kölsch houses (local beer of the area). Someone's who taken the train will have to tell you if the ride is scenic or not. But unfortunately, that's probably the only place I'd seriously consider a day trip, and it would be a relatively short stay. For tomorrow, it looks like an 8:08 departure from Centraal and a 17:46 return, so you'd get to Cologne around 11:00 and back to Amsterdam around 20:30. Around 6 hours on the ground. You might have time for a couple of hour Rhein River cruise; I think that will get you down river through some of the castles (that's been about 25-26 years ago...), and give your mother a chance to sit and watch for a couple of hours. The only reason I'd even consider it is 26 years ago my wife's grandparents visited us when we were stationed in Bavaria. I'm not sure where in Germany grandpa was from (since the family was Baptist as long as anyone knows, probably not Bavaria), and they had about a week with us, but we drove from north of Regensburg to Berchtesgaden. He was probably 85 at the time, and had never been back from childhood. We'll never forget him staring out the car windows the entire time we were on the road, just trying to soak it up. He passed four years later, and we still have the cheap Bavarian souvenir hat he bought on the trip...
  10. I agree with others that I've found the CC events to be a mixed bag. I've done more of them on RCI than X, but some of the same considerations. Smaller groups are generally better, and people in the smaller groups tend to mingle more. If there are a lot of CC members onboard, there tends to be more 'clustering' for lack of a better term, and I've found it not unusual to have large family groups or large groups from the same area, or just groups of people who've sailed together and know each other. Nothing wrong with any of that, but it doesn't always lend itself to getting to know people. And we're probably not joiners. I've been to some (probably RCI, not X, but could be the same) where there's a second or third level hotel officer, deputy assistant to the assistant activities manager, coffee, pastries, OJ, and water. A few words to the group, a drawing for door prizes, and then it just breaks up. I've also had the CD show up and the event last for a half hour or more. It depends. On the other hand, we've had better luck with roll calls, and successfully arranged transportation from London to Harwich a few years back for a RCI sailing. And we met people in the Diamond Lounge on RCI, and in Michaels the one sailing we did a Sky Suite on X.
  11. Yes. That's the long answer that I didn't feel like writing. 10th Amendment... Most of the public health authority in the US is at the state and local level. The federal government has significant authority at the borders, and interstate. But otherwise, it's mostly state, tribal, county, and city authority. And it would be tied up in court. And transportation is its own little world as well, as you say.
  12. Not mandated. They’re doing it on their own... No federal mandate. Which was the point.
  13. It's been awhile since I looked, and it seems like it was somewhat counterintuitive, but I believe you can see the general ship's excursions under each port of call, but the actual one's offered on your cruise will only show up for sure in your planner once you're booked. At least that's my memory!
  14. Did anyone else get the Cruise Critic Weekender e-mail today? Had a definite clickbait subject: How Do Cruise Critic Readers Feel About Cruising from Florida? It worked, and I almost never click on the stories in these emails. With all the talk about safety on the ships and in foreign ports, and admitting I knew Florida had largely loosened most restrictions, but wasn't really paying much attention since I'm not traveling to Florida anytime in the near future, the article had some interesting observations: "Florida's new push to ease restrictions amid the ongoing pandemic is seemingly at odds with what the cruise industry is trying desperately to do: Persuade the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that its COVID-19 procedures, which include mandatory PCR testing, mask wearing, social distancing, and the requirement that cruisers take only cruise-line sanctioned shore excursions, are robust enough to prevent the spread of coronavirus onboard." and "It is not immediately apparent how a cruise line would force people to wear masks on cruises departing from Florida ports where that mask ban can't seemingly be enforced at the terminal level." "Industry publication Port and Terminal writes..." "might have "doomed Florida's cruise restart to failure" as the international cruising public -- not just Floridians -- needs to be convinced that safe and healthy cruises can resume from ports of call that are also safe and healthy." The article appears to be under Cruise News. I just found it surprisingly blunt for Cruise Critic, and does nothing to ease concerns expressed on this and similar threads of exposure enroute to the cruise. And there are others quoted in the article that would accept the risk and just vacation in Florida rather than deal with the healthy sail requirements on the ship. Interesting times...
  15. That's why COVID would go on the top line. The other things are also supposed to be listed. And they probably had pneumonia, etc. You're either misunderstanding or misinterpreting what I wrote; COVID would cause the pneumonia, multiple organ system failure, etc., which should be reflected in the database. So it's odd to me that 94% of reports include other information and 6% do not. Which is usually either a matter of time, or different interpretations of how to report. And beyond stupid is unnecessary.
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