Almost there...

Monday, April 07, 2003

So, I'm back. I wouldn't recommend British Airways to anyone, but I'm safely home and back at work. It's going to take a formidible amount of effort just to catch up on email.

I got to read three books on the trip: Slaughterhouse Five, Ethan of Athos, and Songs of a Distant Earth. Slaughterhouse Five is a classic, and I figured it was about time I sat down and read it. Not my preferred style, but a good book. The author seems to have been deeply damaged by his WW2 experiences. Ethan of Athos was crunchy sweet profiterole of a Bujold book. Always a good romp. The last was an Arthur C. Clark book. I was really disappointed that one aspect of it wasn't better investigated within the novel. There was a discovery of intelligent life on a planet that had been colonized by humans, but even though an earlier section of the book had discussed the importance of colonizing where there was no risk of interference with an existing intelligent life form, Clark never really dealt with whether or not the colony should do something about it. Anyway, without getting into a major plot synopsis, let's just say it wasn't totally satisfying. Not up to the par of Childhood's End.

Some random observations:
London has been overrun by Pizza Hut, KFC, and Starbucks. There was an average of one Pizza Hut every 2 blocks, with the extreme example of Leicster Square having one on 3 out of 4 corners. I asked one chap about the Pizza Hut thing, and his explanation was that, "Well, we don't do pizza very well here, so Pizza Hut moved in." I thought to myself, "But Pizza Hut doesn't do pizza well either..."

I love that in Paris, a little crepe stand can thrive next door to McDonalds.

We went to the Foire du Trone on our last night in Paris. They had an actual freakshow. If we'd had any more cash left, I would've had to go in. A real freak show. They still exist.

British tv is a hoot. There were so many reality shows that were big dating sessions. There was one where the premise was to find this one guy a life partner in a series of episodes. A commitee picked out who he should date. The episode we watched had him spending the weekend with a black guy. He'd never dated a black man before, and was a little uncomfortable with it. Meanwhile, all I could think was "This would never ever be shown on American television." It's a show where you not only have inter-racial dating, but it's for a gay man. The other show that sticks in my mind is the one set in the salon after hours. Again, the raison d'etre was dating. Everyone there had a number, and you could ask the stylist about number 4, and pass notes, and get the stylists to go talk to him/her for you. The stylists were also generally single/available as well. One of the stylists was the prettiest trans I've ever seen. Brit tv rocks.

I went to the ceili that Josh recommended and found out it was set dancing rather than ceili. Still, I met a couple of great folks - Andrea and Jean Francois. And I got to dance. The thing that struck me funny was that with all the wood floors in Paris, here we were dancing on concrete tiles. And the cast of characters resembled the gang at the Plough significantly.

Rick is all jazzed. He wants to learn French. He wants to go back next year. He wants to change America. He wants a public transit system that works. So do I. I took the train to work this morning. It was a beautiful plan. It got kind of munched by taking the wrong Marguerite shuttle from the station and ended up taking a half hour from the train station to my office. I could've walked much faster. Still, I'll try again soon. It's so nice to ride instead of drive.


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