We landed at Amsterdam Schiphol airport yesterday after a so-so transatlantic flight. It was so-so because the plane was uncomfortably warm the entire flight. I’m used to planes getting nice and chilly mid-flight, but not this one. So even with good seats and stretching out, I find it hard to sleep when I’m sweating. Got some rest and watched a couple of movies, but no real sleep. And I felt it when we hit Amsterdam.

Schiphol is a *huge* airport. There’s a lot of signage, but there are multiple ways to get from point A to B and the signs show you all the options. Unfortunately, to a sleep deprived fur-en-er, options were not what I needed. I needed clarity, but Schiphol doesn’t offer much of that. It’s big and complex. We wandered around for a while, took a wrong turn or two, but finally found our way to our airport adjacent hotel, the CitizenM, using the map feature of my phone. That was an experience. CitizenM is modern and trendy, and its hallmark is tiny functional rooms. In a space about 20×10 feet, there was a modular shower, a modular toilet, a sink, a tiny desk and chair, then a queen-sized bed on a platform. No walls. The modular part of the shower and toilet is that they were inside translucent plastic tubes for privacy, but otherwise just in the middle of the single room. Weird. Logical and efficient, but weird.

The other notable feature of the Citizen is that the guest experience was highly personalized. As the reservation holder, my name was splashed around all the hotel’s systems, including the extensive room automation, all controlled by an iPad in the room. Lights, temperature, TV, blinds, alarm – all controlled by the iPad. It was impressive. The hotel was chock full of art, and the small bar/restaurant on the ground floor was pleasant. All in all, I was very pleased with our short night as a Citizen.

We were quite worried about getting back into the airport given all the recent press about it being the most congested airport in Europe due to labor problems. We were advised to arrive at the airport four hours (!!) before our flight. So, we dutifully left our cozy hotel at 430 in the morning and trudged over to Schiphol, about a 10 minute walk. Even that early, it took us two hours to wait through luggage checks, passport checks, security checks and the massive amount of walking through the airport. I can only imagine what it would have been like at 8 or 9am. But we made it comfortably and now sit somewhere in the bowels of the airport beast, waiting for a bus to take us to our plane. Which will take us to Southampton.

It’s not an engineering problem

My thoughts exactly on Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. Welcome to hell.

In the technology magazine The Verge, editor Nilay Patel wrote, “Welcome to hell, Elon.” The problems with Twitter, Patel wrote, “are not engineering problems. They are political problems.” The site itself is valuable only because of its users, he points out, and trying to regulate how people behave is “historically a miserable experience.” 

Patel notes that to attract advertising revenue, Musk will have to protect advertisers’ brands, which means banning “racism, sexism, transphobia, and all kinds of other speech that is totally legal in the United States but reveals people to be total a**holes.” And that content moderation, of course, will infuriate the right-wing cheerleaders who “are going to viciously turn on you, just like they turn on every other social network that realizes the same essential truth.” And that’s even before Twitter has to take on the speech laws of other countries.

Letters From and American, 10/29/22

Anchors away

Today’s the day. We leave for LAX in a few hours, and from there we fly to Amsterdam. Then on to Southampton, and from there we cruise north along Norway’s coast. This is a whole lot of trouble just to see some energized particles in the solar wind.

We have about a day and a half in Southampton, so we decided to rent a car and see some sights. Stonehenge, the New Forest, and Salisbury Cathedral are all in play. Salisbury was my first European cathedral, many years ago, and it made quite an impression on me. I’d like to see if it seems as majestic now that I’m better traveled.

I’m taking all the Fuji camera gear, and this trip will be the deciding test. If I still get pictures I like better with an iPhone, I’ll declare myself an inferior photographer and divest all the Fuji gear. That’ll be sad, but I have to apply the Dirty Harry rule: “A good man always knows his limitations.” Hard to accept, but true.

Another acid test – if I get sick again as a result of this cruise, that’s it. I’m done with them for the foreseeable future. I know a certain spouse who won’t be happy about that, but…Dirty Harry rule again. I’m tired of losing perfectly good days to illness.

I realized that I’ll miss several other things by being gone the next couple of weeks, not just the elections. UK’s preseason hoops games. Halloween. The peak of the fall leaves in KY. The probable first rain of the season in Socal. Everyday life doesn’t seem so mundane when you have to miss it.

This awful summer of sickness, death and travel has really crystallized my desires for the future. I miss the grandsons, and everyday life with them can be every bit as good as seeing the world. Better. Gonna do something about that when I get back.

Thoughts for a Friday

Big day in financial markets yesterday. Elon Musk bought Twitter for $40 billion. I sold a one bedroom condo for slightly less than that. Why does he get all the headlines?

I just don’t get the Twitter acquisition. Perhaps, just perhaps, Musk can drive its value up via operational efficiencies and some less complicated content moderation. But so what? Musk typically spends his time on transformational, disruptive technology plays, and I just don’t see that with Twitter. Worst case, he made an off-the-cuff public offer/bet of $40B and the SEC is holding him to it. He’s worth $211B, so he can afford it. But what a waste.

We voted by mail yesterday. It was easy except for all the weird judiciary positions one could vote on with basically no information. We did our best – when in doubt, we defaulted to D. In doing so I realized we’ll be gone for the big Nov 8 election, wherein we get to see who wins Senate races, Guv races, and who controls Congress for a while. We’ll be somewhere north of the Arctic circle on that day, floating around in a COVID concentration device.

Speaking of devices, we bought Kathryn a new iPhone 14 this week, and it was *painful*. Apple says they will transfer all your data from the old phone to the new one, but they do a shitty job of it. The guy they had “assisting” us didn’t know what he was doing. When I suggested a direct phone-phone transfer using Bluetooth and NFC (what apple calls Quickstart), he didn’t know what I was talking about. He sort of knew how to do a backup/restore from iCloud, and that’s all.

Plus, we made an appointment to spend the least time possible in the store, and that was useless. Turns out appointments are no different than walkins -we just got in an electronic queue (that we couldn’t see) and waited behind folks who just showed up. I let the kid serving us know that Apple’s idea of an appointment is different than mine.

Long story short, we declined to spend an hour plus in the store with Apple ham-handedly transferring data, and went home and restored her data to her new phone via the backup I had made earlier that day. In ten minutes. Apple customer service used to be great. Now they try, and they are exceedingly polite, but they’re not very useful.

The new Hillary

More politics. Been thinking a little about the 2024 Presidential election. A lot of folks think Trump is the inevitable nominee, that his sponsorship by the Republican party is a done deal. And the more I think about it, the more I like the idea. Because Trump is in now in Hillary’s shoes.

Hillary Clinton lost because (a) she ran an uninspired campaign, (b) the damnable Comey memo ten days before the election, and (c) the other side turned out en mass because they loathed her. Twenty five years of focused Clinton hatred allowed the conservatives to completely align, and even drew a lot of middle-of-the-roaders into voting Trump. Or more precisely, voting for anyone but Hillary. They hated Hillary with a passion.

Trump is now that person. Everyone now knows what a disaster Trump will be if he regains power, and everyone knows it’s possible for him to win (hello, 2016). Trump’s nomination will galvanize the D party and 100% of the party will vote for anyone but Trump. And we should get a few rational middle of the roaders to vote D just to keep Trump away from power. Trump will get the MAGA vote, that’s a given. But against Trump, Democrats will turn out in record numbers, the D candidate should get all the Democratic vote and the majority of undecideds, IF we nominate someone electable. Someone reasonable. And that’s the critical path item.

Right now there’s no heir apparent on the Democratic side, and that’s good. Remember Hillary, the chosen one whose turn it was. We’ve got two years to identify one or two good candidates and get them prepped for the battle. Right now my short list is:

  • MN Senator Amy Klobuchar
  • KY Governor Andy Beshear
  • MI Governor Gretchen Whitmer

It’s hard to find someone who has the chops and who doesn’t have a fatal flaw. But any of these three would work, IMHO. I really like Beshear, and having a Red state Governor as the Democratic candidate would be intriguing.

Welcome to Pennsylvania

This is what we’re up against in the upcoming elections. Spiteful, delusional, misinformed people. And a lot of barely-contained hate. It’s a tragedy.

News from NOLA

This is terrifying. I’ll never again feel bad for eradicating ants from our house. Yikes.


And we won our golf competition again – repeat champions. We didn’t play our best, but we ground it out and outlasted everyone in our flight. After 45 holes, I’m all golfed out. 47 holes, actually – we played a couple of holes in the flight champions shootout. Didn’t win that one.

I’ve been coming to NOLA for five years to play golf in October, and this is the first time with no rain. Hasn’t rained here in over a month, and according to the locals that’s rare. A couple of years ago the roads were flooded and we had to cancel the tournament.


I don’t think I’ll get to see the UK Blue-White game tonight – it doesn’t seem to be a big priority here in Cajun country. But it’ll be a big deal in eastern KY.


Tonight’s celebration meal is at Boulevard in Covington. Haven’t been there, but Jon says it’s good…postscript, it was excellent.

Sports day in NOLA

Twenty seven holes of golf and I’m sore as hell – haven’t gotten much exercise lately, and it shows. Jon and I did well, finishing either first or second after day one (all the scores weren’t in when we left). Eighteen holes tomorrow will decide the match.

Beautiful, beautiful weather here in NOLA this weekend. I can’t complain about the weather I’ve seen lately – the entire two+ weeks in Louisville, we had cool clear weather. Same here – more like warm and clear, and low humidity.

On the course today there was a local chicken place (Redbird, I think?) serving wings on hole #8. These were the best wings I’ve ever had – crispy, hot, perfectly fried and not messed up with sauce. The guy cooking onsite really knew what he was doing. in fact, those wings were the difference in my game. Pre-wings, I was really struggling, and so was our team. Post-wings, we dominated.

Watching the Padres-Phillies game tonight, and so far the Phillies look much better than the Pads. But it’s tied at 1-1 in the 4th. I may have to just check the score in the morning – likely to be an early bedtime tonight.

Quick hit

This doesn’t surprise me at all. A strong link between consciousness and quantum effects (like entanglement) makes a lot of sense. Though I *am* having a hard time getting the author’s unfortunate phrase “brain water” out of my head. Yuck.

Today Jon and I start the annual Tchefuncta golf tournament. Win or lose, it’ll be great.

Update: After our practice round (a mixed result), we came back to Jon’s place in Covington. An hour or so of loud Tame Impala videos and we’re set for the evening of betting on the tournament (a Calcutta), some good food, and a bourbon tasting. Strategy – avoid a hangover and be ready to win the first round at 9am.

Plan B

My plan for the day went to hell. Was supposed to do a final tuneup round before leaving for the NOLA golf tourney this weekend, but with 93 degree heat this afternoon (see below, new record, woo hoo), it’s not happening. I’ve learned the hard way that heat exhaustion is my Achilles’ Heel. So…staying inside, reading, packing, trying to get my office/desk space better organized. Listening to Tame Impala (natch) on the Klipsch One, wishing for some tone controls. The Klipsch is very bass-heavy.

The Padres play game one of the NLCS this evening, and that may be today’s saving grace. I’m a fair weather baseball fan. When there’s something big on the line, the games are exciting. Mid-season, it can be real boring. Tonight should be excellent – first time the Padres have been in the championship round in about 40 years. And after beating the Dodgers, it’s all just icing on the cake.