Louis G. Pol – The Traveling Dean

I began this blog in March 2013 because I wanted to document some observations about my travel experiences in India. As I reflect back on other travel taken prior to March 2013, I wish I had begun posting about my adventures in 2003 as I made my way to St. Petersburg, Russia, or 1992 during a trip to France and Italy, or in 1991 while travelling in Romania and Moldova. Oh, well…

I am the dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (formerly Omaha University). I became the dean in August 2003, which means that at this point in time, March 2017, I have been the dean for nearly 14 years, a very long time in one place for a business school dean. The average stay for a business school dean is about 4.5 years. Prior to being named dean, I was a faculty member here, at Rollins College, and at Memphis State University, but not all at the same time. If you want to learn more about me, I am providing a link to my website http://cba.unomaha.edu/lpol. Also, you may wonder what I look like, so here is a picture.


As you can see, I am in my official dean uniform. The sculpture in the background is one created by Jun Kaneko. You should look him up.

My goal in regard to this blog is simple. I want to share my experiences with anyone who wishes to know more about the places I have visited. At the same time, if you continue to read, you will gain some insight into my opinions about the places I visit and the people I meet. From time-to-time, you will learn more as I offer comparisons of places, including those experienced before I began this blog. I will try to remain apolitical as I write about what I see, but I will fail at times. Keep in mind that it is March 2017, and remaining apolitical is most difficult.

Finally, I enjoy receiving your comments and corrections.


Asleep By Wheels Up – Back to the Desert

It was mid-February, so time to head out west to Scottsdale/Phoenix for the annual University of Nebraska Foundation reception for donors, alumni and other friends. In addition, there is also an alumni get-together for UNO, about 100 people, and 25 or so have degrees from our business college. Keep in mind that we do this in February when the weather is cold and windy in Nebraska.

Scottsdale AZ

On the way out I was asleep by wheels-up, always a good when it is an early morning flight. But, I cheated in a way. We were delayed about 30 minutes on the ground. An overnight light ice storm warranted de-icing before we were airborne, so I had extra time to nod off. However, I didn’t stay conked out for long. Chatty Kathy, Sister of Big Mouth Bill, was in the row right in front of me and her monologue lasted the entire flight. Her husband is a farmer, they own ten houses in the Phoenix area, her dog…Help Me! The poor souls who sat next to her were rushed to a Phoenix Psych Ward upon arrival, and put on suicide watch for a week.

As you know because you have read other posts by me (well, maybe you have), I am still in mourning the loss of Skymall Magazine. You also know that the airline magazines have taken up some of the slack, and are now offering products and services that years ago seemed exclusive to Skymall. So, because Chatty Kathy was yammering on and I did not want to require a mental health intervention upon landing in Phoenix, I began to study (again) the opportunities for purchase in the Southwest Airlines magazine. Think about these:

  1. Got warts? – Electronic wart remover, 3 minute home treatment, 100% successful but, you have to call them to order
  2. Bye Bye In-grown Hairs and Razor Burn! (no I did not make this up) Tender Skin reduces the unsightly appearance of ingrown hair
  3. Pain Zone – Happy New Year, everybody hurts (rub on ointment)
  4. Mosquito Joe – Mosquito control services, buy a franchise and get a cool truck and uniform
  5. com – I find the website name very interesting. You can get get up to $50k for rates as low as 5.99 percent (borrow for vacations, weddings, to pay your taxes, elective surgery)

Southwest The Magazine

My close reading of Southwest The Magazine, a few games of Sudoku, and some writing saved my brain from Kathy, and I could not wait to get off the plane.

Mountains around Phoenix

The NU Foundation event was held at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix. The Biltmore first opened in 1929, and is known for its Frank Lloyd Wright exterior look, even though the architect of record is Albert Chase McArthur. Wright was involved in the project for four months as a consultant. McArthur had been a draftsman for Wright, so it is not surprising that the complex mimics some of Wright’s other designs in Arizona and elsewhere. In addition, as the resort was expanded over the years, Frank Lloyd Wright – influenced elements have been used. It should be noted that Wright distanced himself from the design, disagreeing with McArthur over the block system that is very visible throughout the site.

AZ Biltmore Lobby

When we travel, it is sometimes the case that we do something really stupid, although it might turn out to be funny. So, here is my Phoenix stupid (me) story. Upon arrival, we boarded a rental car shuttle to take us to the very large complex where cars are picked up and dropped off. Upon boarding what is essentially a bus, I placed my carry-on size suitcase wheels down in the area designed for short-term baggage storage. The bus left the complex, and as it took the first turn, I watched my medium blue bag roll out into the aisle and continue onto the other side of the bus, only to be stopped by the rear exit door. The bus turned again, in the opposite direction, and sure enough, the bag rolled back to its original position. I was seated a fair distance from my bag. Others were closer. But, no one moved. We just watched my bag go back and forth, and for a mile or so. I was in a state of controlled laughter as I watched others observe, seeming to be mesmerized by the back and forth movement of my bag. Finally, we stopped at a traffic light and I walked down the aisle to place my luggage on its side. The entertainment had ended.

Roller Suitcase

There is almost always an image that you just cannot delete during the trips we make. Besides my moving bag, I have another from this trip. For the most part, we are always happy to be returning our rental cars, safe from a last minute car accident, which would result in a missed flight. As we were returning the car in Phoenix, we entered the winding ascent to the return area in the complex. A turn here, a turn there, and signage appears to indicate that you are close to the final resting place. The route is bordered by a concrete wall preventing crazy drivers from straying from the path and causing havoc for others. On the way, there are a few signs of mishaps, crash marks on the wall. How embarrassing! At the end of the path, there is a hard left turn, and beyond that only a few more feet remain before you can de-car. As we approached the last turn, and after driving past a long section of unmarked wall, we saw it – evidence of a crash in the wall no more than 100 feet from where you say happy trails to your ride. Now that had to by psychologically painful, so close yet… Missed flight, yes. Car damage, significant. How do you explain that? You don’t.


3000 Pounds of Additional Fuel

I was in Las Vegas in early February at the AACSB – International deans conference. After boarding the direct flight home to Omaha, the pilot emerged from the cockpit to tell us that our departure would be delayed for a few minutes because we were taking on an extra 3,000 pounds of fuel. Who came up with the term cockpit? The first known reference comes from the brutal sport of cockfighting and refers to the pit in which the fights occurred. By the end of the 16th Century, the term was being used to describe sunken pits or cramped, confined spaces. British naval vessels began referring to a compartment below decks around 1700 as such for junior officer quarters and for treating the wounded during battle. The word was first applied to aircraft around 1914 by pilots during WW1 and then again to racing automobiles by about 1935. I will now return to the story.

When the pilot emerges from his secure place, walks several feet down the isle (to row 2, I was sitting in row 5) and starts talking about fuel, we, the passengers, pay attention. The story went that the snow in Omaha was accumulating (it does that), and when we proceeded east and got close to Eppley Airfield, the runway would need to be cleared (yes, we are all listening intently) and that might take some time. He did not want us to be diverted to Kansas City or Minneapolis. So, we are gassing up in order to fly around Omaha, just in case, as the snow removal took place. (Anyone want to get off and reschedule for tomorrow?) You will be happy to know, although I guess that it is possible that you don’t care, that our ride home was smooth. We did not find ourselves in a holding pattern above Omaha, and when we arrived in Omaha around 1 am, there was not much snow falling, and the runways and taxiways were clear.

Eppley Airport - Snow

Las Vegas is a strange place. It functions along several lines. The hotels and conference centers serve as hosts to a full range of association and company meetings. At the same time, it is a destination for those who wish to gamble and see shows. Sports have become big in Las Vegas, starting with UNLV’s basketball teams of the 1980s and 1990s. With a new NHL franchise (tremendous early success) and the NFL Raiders coming soon, Las Vegas is becoming a sports destination mecca. Its past connections to the Mob are being forgotten, although if you’re nostalgic, or just plain interested, you can go to the Mob Museum.

The Mob Museum

Las Vegas has a playland-like feel to it, but for adults only. The strip, Las Vegas Boulevard, is filled with hotels, restaurants, a mini-Eiffel Tower, a pyramid, and a scaled down version of New York City buildings (e.g. the Empire State and the Chrysler buildings). I stayed at Caesar’s Palace a 300,000 square feet monstrosity that houses a bit of everything. Caesar’s Place opened in 1966, and 90 percent of the resort’s rooms have been renovated (wow, can you imagine staying in a 1966 room?). It’s a great place to go see Elton John perform (sit in the first five rows because you get to go up on stage at the end of the concert), or to play Blackjack, or to shoot craps—there is another two word combination that has no intuitive meaning). So, here we go. Craps is based off a British dice game called Hazard. The term ‘craps’ comes from the roll in dice we now call ‘snake eyes.’ However, in Hazard it was referred to as ‘crabs.’ Over time, ‘crabs’ turned into ‘craps’, and it caught on with the popularity of the game. Try asking where you can go shoot some crabs. I bet that they show you the door.


You are never far away from a slot machine in Las Vegas. Some are big; some are not. The incessant sound of the Wheel of Fortune slot machines is enough to drive a person crazy, unless, of course, you have just won a jackpot. Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 slot machines has Dolly blaring out some kind of song. I bet her momma would be proud. My favorite slot has a Sharknado theme. While many who play the slots appear to be mesmerized by the lights, sounds and action, the thought of playing the slots for more than two minutes, let alone hours on end, is not very appealing, to me. There’s a lot more to do.

The airport in Las Vegas is funky. It’s an old design, complete with frayed and stained carpet, lots of places to drink, sad looking folks, and slot machines everywhere, it seems. I was surprised when I entered one of the restrooms that I did not find the Plants versus Zombies slot machine (yes, there is one of these) alongside the sink. The playlist over the loudspeaker is eclectic and old. Dylan was forlorn and singing … “to be stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues again,” while Rod Steward gave us his best of “Forever Young.” As flights roll up to the gates at Concourse C and passengers deplane, the floor starts to vibrate. Earthquake, no. Too much to drink, no. Airport design, yes. Then Elton John hits us with “Bennie and the Jets.”

There were no Elvis impersonator sightings this time. If Elvis was still alive (I know some think that he is still alive), he would be 83 years of age. Imagine an Elvis impersonator not doing Elvis at 42, but Elvis at 83, sort of borrowing on how Frank Sinatra transformed his look and singing style over 40 years. I’d like to see and hear that. Think of it, “Heartbreak Assisted Living,” (okay, it reads bit ageist, but I am 68 nearly 69 and I know that my time is coming).

LV AirportElvis_impersonators_record

Burning Down the House – The Airport Caught Fire

I was in Jacksonville the first week in February tending to some accreditation business. On the day that I was returning to Omaha, the local early morning news shows reported a fire at the airport (JIA). An evacuation was on, with one wag (poet) talking about the smell of burning plastic with the visibility of New England fog. A short time later, long lines of displaced airline passengers were shown as the coverage of the story continued. These poor souls were having another TSA experience. Think Ground Hog Day, the movie with Bill Murray. Imagine waking to an alarm every morning at 6:00 am only to find yourself in line at security with hundreds, oh more than that, thousands of passengers in front of you. And, you have been rejected for TSA Pre. By the time I arrived at the airport, late morning, all the hubbub was over. I did find the source of the fire. The area had been roped off – a people mover ended up getting jammed up, and no emergency cut-off was activated. Thus, the smell and smoke. (https://www.news4jax.com/news/heavy-smoke-shuts-down-concourse-a-at-jia)


I like the Jacksonville airport. It is well designed with respect to access, security, and ease of movement in one of two concourses, except when the people mover lights up. At the end of security, it is either left for Concourse A or right for Concourse C. However, Concourse B is magically missing. Who designs and labels these things?

I had two very small world stories unfold during my trip. First, I met (unplanned) a former student of mine from Memphis State University (MSU), now the University of Memphis. He was one of the business students who encouraged me to defect. I was once a member of the sociology faculty at MSU. We talked a bit, and I thanked him for his advice—he already knew that I had moved to Omaha in 1984, to join a business school.

the bronx

The second story was one that made the hair on my arms, the little that I have, stand up. I was at a dinner on the first night of the visit, and ended up sitting next to an SBA official. We began to talk and we realized that were both from New York. He asked me where I had lived, and I told him “in the Bronx at 173rd and a street you won’t know, Ward Avenue.” He responded, “I lived on Ward Avenue once.” He asked about the address, I responded, “1214”. He came back with, “I lived at 1229.” We lived on the same street in the mid 1950s! And, not far from each other. He is five years older than me, so we did not go to school together. He did go to high school just up the street, James Monroe, the same school from which my Uncle Vincent graduated.


There is no direct flight from Omaha to Jacksonville. So, a choice must be made (airline plus fly-through city), and I chose to fly American through Charlotte. I had been warned about that place, but I did not pay enough attention. The Charlotte Douglas Airport (CLT) is a mess. It is jammed with people scurrying to their next flight, trying to make their way through and around one of the strangest airport designs on the planet. See the layout below. It looks like some five year old was given a set of Legos and asked to design the Charlotte airport. Twenty or so minutes later, that child came back with this design. She or he got tired toward the end and that explains Concourse E. So, imagine landing, taxiing a long time, and parking at Gate E 17 (walk down stairs, there is no jet bridge). Your connecting flight (mine) to Jacksonville is parked at Gate C3. The race is on. People mover, no. Grab that suitcase and go, fast. I should count myself lucky that my Jacksonville flight was not at B14. Concourse A is scheduled to open in summer 2018. So, some poor fool will land at the end of Concourse E, Gate E-33. Next stop A12. Call a cab. This is not an airport for an older demographic profile. Too bad, I like Charlotte, just not the airport.


Here’s Johnny

Some of the readers of the blog will know this phrase, in two contexts. First, the Johnny Carson show (starring a famous, but troubled, Nebraskan) ran from 1962 to 1992. The announcer for the program, Ed McMahon (you may remember him from commercials for American Family Publishers, “You may have already won $10 million,” or Free Credit Report .com) would introduce Carson each night with the pronouncement, “Here’s Johnny.” The second way you may know this phrase is from the movie “The Shining.” A crazed Jack Nicholson uses the phrase, axe in hand, and he’s chasing Shelly Duvall (his wife) and she tries to escape the hotel in which they are staying (https://youtu.be/WDpipB4yehk).

Stanley Hotel

I was in Denver the last week in January for a UNO alumni reception as well as to visit with three college of business alumni. During the weekend, I drove up to Estes Park with one of our development directors and we stopped at the Stanley Hotel. The 1980 movie is based on a novel written by Stephen King and published in 1977. It is set at the Overlook Hotel (Timberline Lodge in Oregon). It’s a haunted house story, (incredibly well-written, and the move is excellent, although King does not think so, if you like having the poop scared out of you every few minutes). In 1974, Stephen King and his wife, Tabatha, checked into the Stanley at the tail end of the tourist season. They quickly discovered that they were the only guests in the hotel, and were told their room (217, for them and in the movie) was haunted. The great writer, King, took it from there.


The Stanley Hotel has an interesting underlying story. Freelan Stanley along with his brother, Francis, invented the steam-powered automobile, which was known as the Stanley Steamer. Stanley had been stricken by tuberculosis, and when his condition worsened in 1903, he sought to find a place to live (at least for part of the year) that had dry, fresh air and a good deal of sunlight. So, after a lot of consultation, he and his wife chose the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. They spent the summer of 1903 in Estes Park. His condition improved markedly and the decision was made to continue to spend summers at Estes Park. Stanley then decided to turn Estes Park into a resort town (that’s what it is today), and in 1907 construction commenced on the 48 room Stanley Hotel (it now has 142 rooms). Construction was completed in 1909, and by 1917 Estes Park was incorporated. Nearly 110 years later, it is both a resort site for a person looking for a few days, or an entire summer, away from it all, and a place for tourists, like me, just to visit and take photographs for an hour at a time. (FYI: Freelan Stanley passed away at 91 years of age.)


It’s always interesting to connect to college alumni, and on this trip I caught up with people from multiple eras. Recent graduates know me as the dean, while those from the 1980s and 1990s remember me as a professor, one who taught a class they took in marketing research, business demographics, statistics or some other subject. Those from earlier years don’t know me at all. My longest visit on this trip, almost two hours, was with an alumnus from the class of 1953. He’s the same age as my dad, and like my Pops is filled with great stories from an earlier time in the kind of detail that make his subjects vividly come to life. One advantage of having been our dean forever is that I have talked extensively over time with alumni from the 1950s and 1960s, and have become friends with many. So, as our conversation unfolded (this was the first time we had ever spoken), we were able to make connections through people that we both know. I could give him updates on his old friends/fraternity brothers, and he gave me insight into their lives as younger people. I look forward to following up with his old friends (and encouraging thing to reconnect) as well as further visits with him when I travel back to Denver. Once again, I am living vicariously through the lives of our 20,000 plus alumni. That’s a lot of fun.


Don’t Touch That Frozen Lizard

I was in Tampa the first week of the new year, visiting/interviewing my mother, talking to a friend and collaborator, and avoiding some of the coldest-of-cold weather that has haunted us in Omaha for some time (the wind chill will reach -25 degrees F this evening, January 15th). Not to be outdone, a significant cold snap took over a few days before I arrived in Tampa and lingered until I departed. At one point, the weather folks were warning people not to pick-up/pry-off dead looking Iguanas (off the ground or from shrubs, bushes and trees) because, while they might look dead, most were not—they were simply very cold! I don’t know how many weather report watchers/listeners heeded the warning, but I am sure that the lives of many of our green, gray or brown-skinned friends were spared. Note: I once had an Iguana, Golem, who at his passing was about three feet long, and green. When he finally went to where dead lizards go, he was 13 plus years of age.

frozen-iguanaGreen Iguana

My interviews with my mom, Giovanna, aka Jean, took place because I intend to write a lot more about my families: how and why they came to America and what it was like when they were the ones who looked different, spoke with an accent (or did not speak any English at all), did not have much education, and came from one of those undesirable countries. I will be using the interviews with my mother and others, along with recorded data (e.g. ship manifest and census data), to create narratives about their lives. I also intend to integrate historical events with the stories in order to bring them to life, again. When my grandfather Giorgio, aka George, died in 2002, I reflected on his life by considering all of the major historical developments that had happened in his 97 years. He was born only three years after the Wright Brothers first flight, lived through two great world wars, suffered the effects of the Great Depression, watched our country put a man on the moon, witnessed the fall of the wall, and finally saw his home town attacked and the towers come down. Imagine a life that spanned those years!

Moon Landing

Of course, we visited /attempted to visit two of our favorite restaurants, Fortunado’s for pizza, and Frenchy’s for grouper sandwiches/peel-and-eat shrimp. Well, we did not get to Frenchy’s. They were closed for repairs. So, we went a short distance up the beach to Palm Pavilion. Yes, we had grouper sandwiches and shrimp. No, we did not eat outside, it was too cold.


One more story. My grandparents were relatively poor during the depression, and my mother recalls living in a few tenement houses. At the same time, my grandmother’s friend Rose, Aunt Rose as I knew her, had money and connections. One day, Rose told my grandmother to be ready for a special visit. The Italian and world boxing heavyweight champion Primo Carnera was going to be in New York, and Aunt Rose was going to bring him to their apartment for a visit – wow, what a treat. My grandmother (Ersilia or Elsie as she was known) was tasked with keeping the visit quiet. Mr. Carnera did not want a big crowd awaiting him when he came to their apartment. Well, Elsie couldn’t keep this secret, and some others, and word spread here and there among all those Italians in the neighborhood who wanted at least a glimpse of the big guy. When my Aunt Rose arrived at the tenement house with Primo in tow, a real mob had formed, making it less-than-easy to get into the building and up the stairs. Finally, after working his way through the crowd, this huge person entered the front room of the apartment and found his way back to the bedroom where my mother, sister and two brothers slept (it was already evening). My mom’s recollection of this visit is: he had such a deep voice when he said, “hi Jeanie,” he was huge, and he had big feet.


The FedEx Flyover

We went to Memphis the last week of 2017. The University of Memphis was playing in the Liberty Bowl for the first time in the 59-year history of this bowl game (Fact: Paul “Bear” Bryant coached his last game in the 1982 Liberty Bowl versus the University of Illinois. He passed away a short time later). We wanted to see The University of Memphis, formerly Memphis State University, play. While they lost 21-20 to Iowa State (the officials were superb), we had a fine time. However, it was a “Memphis Cold” day in the stands, 32 degrees when the game ended, and damp. It’s the kind of cold that runs all the way through you, and more than once. We were happy that it was not raining. The coldest I have ever felt was in Memphis at 33 degrees and raining/snowing – worse than Omaha at minus 15 degrees.

Liberty Bowl 2017

We have been to many sporting events over the years and have seen the full range of pre-game entertainment. Bands march, all kinds of folks are honored, people jump out of aircraft and land in the middle of the field, mascots come out or are carried out, and loud jets, one or more, engage in fly-bys that are very loud and impressive. I can now report another first, for me. It was a pre-game FedEx flyover (big honkin’ jet), moving close to the stadium, pitching its wings as if to say, “hi to you fools sitting in that cold stadium”. And, you guessed it, that big honkin’ jet came around a second time. I think I saw Tom Hanks waving to us from one of the windows, but I can’t be sure. Mr. Wilson? Think about this: The AutoZone Liberty Bowl being buzzed by a FedEx jet.


Of course, we made our way to the Rendezvous for ribs and such, twice. On the first visit, we caught up with my friend and collaborator Rick. He gave us an update on things Memphis, in particular how the city succeeded in bringing down (moving) the statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis (more below). We also talked about his latest book project, a new treatise on applied demography. It’s always good to see Rick. The second visit to the Rendezvous occurred after the Liberty Bowl, this time with my brother-in-law, Gary. The wait list to get seated was reasonable, about 45 minutes. Yes, it was a full rack of ribs again, together with beans and the usual spicy slaw. This year marks the 40th anniversary for me regarding the Rendezvous – I ate there the first time in 1978.


Concerning statue removal, the city council as well as the mayor of Memphis had a clever way of proceeding. They knew that the Tennessee Historical Society would never (well, not anytime soon) allow for the removal of the two statues. They already renamed both parks in 2013. Forrest Park became Health Sciences Park (it is adjacent to the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Campus) and Confederate Park, home of Jefferson Davis, was re-named Fourth Bluff Park. On December 20, 2017, the City of Memphis (mayor and city council) sold both parks to a private organization, Memphis Greenspace Inc., for $1,000 each. Soon after the sale, cranes went into action and very quickly the statues were off to an undisclosed location. It turns out that the historical society only has a say with respect to statues and such when said statue is located on land owned by a city, county, state… Once the parks were no longer public land, the new owners could do whatever they wanted with the statues. And, they did. (Note: we have not heard the last here.)

memphis-statues-come-downDavis Statue Removalmemphis-statues-empty pedestal

One more statue item for consideration. The statues are seen by white southerner as part of the culture of their region, commemorating the brave men who stood up for states’ rights. But, the statues were not erected right after the Civil War. The Nathan Bedford Forrest statue was erected in Forrest Park in 1905, at a time of racial unrest in Memphis, and 50 years after the end of the war. The Jefferson Davis statue was erected in Confederate Park in 1964, just as the full force of civil rights/voter rights legislation was becoming the law of the land. The reader is invited to draw their own conclusions about the meaning of the statues.

One final item. We stayed in a hotel near the Memphis International Airport, just a short distance from Graceland. From time-to-time, we like to drive past Graceland to observe the new improvements and changes to the neighborhood. Yes, the Lisa Marie is still an attraction and for a small price you can visit. We had also read about a new hotel right next door to the King. Holy moly, it is large! The Guest House at Graceland is a luxury hotel with 430 spacious rooms plus 20 specialty suites. It fits right into the Graceland experience.

The Guest House at Graceland

Guangzhou – My First Time in South China (Was That a Rooster Ringtone?)

Three of my colleagues and I travelled to Guangzhou in early November to visit current and potential partner universities. Guangzhou is in the southern part of China, a short distance from Hong Kong and Macau. The city was once called Canton, a name derived from the Portuguese word Cantao.

A significant portion of the structures found in the city of Guangzhou and Guangdong Province date back to the 19th and early 20th centuries, although some temples, public buildings, and housing are much older. More recent rapid economic growth has brought a burst of contemporary buildings, and the central business district is as modern as any found in the world. I am attracted to modern architecture and saw much of it in many areas of the city. Many of the world’s best architects have designed the buildings that make up the Guangzhou skyline.

temple_of_the_six_banyan_treesGuangzhou Modern

Guangzhou is large with respect to population, nearly 14 million persons. At the same time, when travelling around Guangzhou I never had that ‘very crowded’ feeling, such as the one felt in Beijing, Shanghai, New York, or Los Angeles. Automobile traffic moved smoothly, and many inhabitants choose public transportation, motorcycles, motor bikes, and bicycles to move about. As expected, there is much more walking from place to place than is found in most U.S. cities. Many pedestrians wear surgical masks to stave off the effect of air pollution, a problem many days of the year.

The city is also divided by the Pearl River. The parks and walkways which border the river provide a non-harried alternative to the bustle of a center for business and finance. I spent a wonderful evening on a cruise of the Pearl River. A combination of lights on different size and shape river cruise vessels, bridges, and buildings gives rise to a party atmosphere, one that makes any visitor want to go back and do it again.  I have written about the Chicago River tour in a previous post. It was good. This one was better, although having a tour guide who knows about the development of the river would have made the ride really outstanding.

The university visits went well. We signed an agreement with Guangzhou College of Commerce (GCC) for a 2 plus 2 program. Students will begin their business education (in English) at GCC and after two years transfer to our college of business for the completion of their program. Both institutions will award a diploma. There is much more work to do in preparation for the arrival of the first students in 2019 (106 have signed up for the program), and the planning process, which has begun, will help us create a supportive transition to life at an American university. We will send a delegation of CBA and UNO support staff to GCC in early Spring 2018 to assist the students, well in advance of their travel to the U.S. During our time in Guangzhou, we also signed an agreement with Jinan University. This arrangement will bring graduate students in economics at Jinan University to our college.

While the visit in Guangzhou was excellent, travel to and from Guangzhou was challenging. The Omaha to Detroit to Beijing to Guangzhou route had one too many stops (note: fly to Hong Kong and take the train to Guangzhou). We had every kind of delay one could wish for, or not. The Omaha to Detroit leg was fine, and the transition to Gate 75 (Terminal A) was smooth. The new parts of Detroit International Airport are quite nice, with much of the real estate resembling a very nicely appointed indoor mall. Then the travel wheels fell off, not literally. Departure time from Detroit to Beijing was scheduled for noon. We left gate late, no problem, but then we pulled out of the queue for departure. We seemed to be touring the grounds of the airport, turning left and right, giving all passengers a chance to see the tarmac and taxiways from lots of angles. Then we stopped and were told that the pilots were in touch with Atlanta about a ‘problem’, the one word we never want to hear (but better on the ground than at 30,000 feet). An air sensor in the crew’s quarters was giving a bad reading. Well, after about three hours, the pilots gave up, went back to a gate, and we got off.


So now we needed another ride and fresh pilots because they had timed out and had gone home to watch re-runs of the Apprentice (not really). So, there we were pilot-less, plane-less, and for some legless (a bit of drinking was going on), humming plane songs like Fly Me to the Moon, a Time for Me to Fly, and Treetop Flyer; waiting, hoping… After nearly four more hours we had pilots and a ride. We were wheels-up seven hours after scheduled departure.

By now you know where this is going. We arrived in Beijing way too late for our connection to Guangzhou. After 90 minutes of sleep (shower too) at a nearby hotel, we were once again up and travelling back to the airport. We thought that we had an early morning flight to Guangzhou, and we even had confirmation numbers. But the geniuses at Delta, China Southern and China Eastern had different ideas and we could not board. After multiple phone calls, assurances that all was okay, and general run around, we finally were on our way to Guangzhou at 10:30 AM. In total, it was 41 hours from boarding time in Omaha to landing in Guangzhou!


So, what was that Rooster ringtone? Well, during one of our university meetings as one of our Chinese hosts was making a presentation (we were listening intently), someone’s phone rang (not one of ours), and a rooster began the usual cock-a-doodle-doo. The phone’s owner was quick to shut it off, and I suspect that not everyone even noticed that there had been a rooster calling out. So, you ask, why the rooster ringtone? I thought about this for a while, and then thought about what animal might be connected to 2017. You guessed it, it is the Year of the Rooster.


Happy holidays!