Conventions And Conversions

I started this blog to write about my trip on the Trans-Mongolian Express. I initially expanded it to include my June 2012 trip to Malta and ultimately to encompass most of the trips I’ve taken subsequent to 2013.

The first trip taken in May and June of 2013 began in the Washington, D.C. metro area, moved to Beijing through Frankfurt via airplane and then across China, Mongolia, and Russia by a train that took me as far as Saint Petersburg before finishing back in D.C. by airplane again passing through Frankfurt. Because most of my reporting takes place from Asia and Europe and includes twelve or thirteen time zones (the confusion will become clearer in a later entry), I will use universal time throughout.

I will also conform to the preferred local measuring systems. Thus, outside the United States I will use the metric system and report temperature in degrees Celsius. For travel within the U.S. I will use the Imperial system and Fahrenheit measurements for temperature.

If you are unfamiliar with these conventions, they are:

Time: 0:00 – 11:59 are a.m. hours      12:00 – 23:59 are p.m. hours     Thus, 15:30 would be 3:30 p.m.

Temperature: 0 Celsius = 32 Fahrenheit. To convert to Fahrenheit, for every degree Celsius add or subtract 1.8 (or 18 for every 10) to 32. Thus a temperature of 20 C converts to 68 F (32+18+18=68) or -30 C converts to -22 F (32-18-18-18).

Distance / Speed: 1 Kilometer (Km) = about .62 Miles so 1000 Km = 620 Miles. 80Kph = about 50 Mph. Using two-thirds will give you a very rough estimate.

Weight: 1 Kilogram = about 2.2 pounds

Area: 1 Hectare = about 2.47 acres

This is the list of my fellow travelers on the Trans-Mongolian Express:

Groud Sugarin – Our tireless tour leader (may be referred to as G)

Erin Munro – The excitable now 19 year old from Australia (may be E)

Rosemary Murphy – The well traveled and other Aussie in the group (Rose or R)

Anne and John Mackay – The Kiwis on other end of the age spectrum from Erin

Luciane Persch – Our Brazilian trip Ninja and translator for Ana (Lu)

Ana Luiza Ribiero – Also Brazilian and with Lu, the queen of the shoppers

Although my opinion will be prevalent throughout, I will italicize rants.


$1 = about 7 Chinese Yuan

$1 = about 1,350 Mongolian Tugrik

$1 = about 32 Russian Rubles

One addition to the site includes my Thanksgiving trip to Atlanta in November 2013. No conversions are needed. However, on that trip, my grandniece Maya, pointed out that I’ve omitted the story of the origin of the site’s unusual name. And since she inspired it, I’ll include it below.

I have also added a transcription of the journal I kept on my 2014 summer trip to the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota and traversing the Great River Road. The latter follows the Mississippi River from its source in Lake Itasca, Minnesota to Venice, Louisiana which is as far as one can drive in 2014.

I have added a summary of the weekend blitz to Iowa with my friend Arnie when we took in three Maryland versus Iowa sporting events in two days. I again use local time and measurement conventions in the other trips category.

There’s also a journal of my 2015 trip to Scotland, Scandinavia and Finland. You can find this in the category called Scotland and Scandinavia 2015.

In 2016, I traveled to the Balkans and Budapest. The site will include a recap of that trip and will revert to the European conventions. I booked the trip through Overseas Adventure Travel which specializes in small groups. Our group consisted of a dozen travelers plus the tour leader. For privacy, I will list only their first names:

Alison, Jackie, Geanie, Trina, Diane, Art, Linda, Marie, Judy, Pat and Connie. The group leader is Damir.

My newest addition is the report on my trip to the Rocky Mountain states of Arizona and Utah and a second trip west that included Alberta, Canada, a bit of South Dakota but with most of the time in Wyoming and Montana.

Beginning with the 2017 trips, I’ve also decided to use the 24 hour clock when reporting times for all journal entries.

In some of the entries, you’ll see segments written in green italics and others in blue italics. The green italicized text contains supplemental information that I think is interesting but not necessarily crucial to understanding the surrounding subject matter. Passages in blue sometimes represent a rant but are always expressions of my personal opinion. Read them at your discretion.

Gruncleodd – the evolution of a name

At a Thanksgiving dinner three or four years ago our family began discussing a bit of confusion arising in nomenclature for certain family members. Parent is clear. Grandparent and grandchild is a clear relationship and great grandparent to great grandchild is a natural progression. However, uncles and aunts skip the “grand” stage and got right to “great” while nieces and nephews remain grand in relation to their great relatives. Maya (my grand niece), who was I believe seven at the time piped up that she would settle things and I would henceforth be her “gruncle.” She was also experimenting with pig latin so I was Gruncle Odd-tay. And now you know the origin of



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