In flight

<Written earlier today while in flight. Couldn’t post it via the weak in-flight KLM network connection.>

Ah, modern technology. Here I sit looking at a more or less real-time display of where our 787 Dreamliner (what a cheesy name) is, writing on a laptop and sipping good Portugal wine. We’re coming up on Nuuk Greenland now at 35,000 feet and 605 miles per hour, only 4265 miles from LA. Just around the corner.

KLM business class is pretty sweet. Great meals, good enough wine and a comfortable pod. Sit, recline, or stretch out and sleep. I know, I know, white Anglo-Saxon male privilege and all. So sue me, I didn’t choose my birth. I was very lucky in the “could have been born in that situation” lottery – I very seldom forget it. Traveling the world gives you a lot of perspective about how others live and how great we have it in the middle++ class in the US. I’m grateful for that, and I don’t know if I would have been strong enough to be the same person if born in a war zone, or in poverty, or handicapped in some serious way.

We’re about eight hours from landing, and I can’t wait. A movie or two ahead; probably a nap. Then just the final hurdle of driving home in LA traffic. It’ll take me a month to get rid of this jet lag – we’ve been back and forth between GMT and GMT+1 for two weeks now, and suddenly we’ll be in GMT-8. I expect to have quite a few days with random naps and some sleep struggles.

I think this will be my last cruise for a while. I have a lot of things to do that I don’t do well (or at all) on a cruise. See the grandsons, lose some weight, do some writing. There’s no excuse for not doing the latter two, but…gotta face reality. Plus, cruises suck up a *lot* of time before and after – a 7 day cruise becomes 10 days, etc. This one’s going to suck up about three weeks.

Time…it’s the ultimate equity play, the ultimate resource. There’s only so much of it, and you don’t know how much you have in the bank. I’m increasingly aware when I waste it, and very thankful that I occasionally have the opportunity to trade money for time. Time trumps money these days.

Seven hours and thirty minutes now. See you in Socal.

Final leg of a long journey

Aaaaaand here we are at the end of a long journey. We’re out of the hotel in Amsterdam, past airport security and passport control, and inside the KLM lounge. In about 18 hours we’ll be in Fallbrook.

Hard to decide where to start with topics. We’ve done and seen so much. First, just a few observations given the last 2-3 days in Amsterdam, Bruges, and Southampton (briefly).

  • Bruges, perhaps all of Belgium, is spotless. Very clean and well-kept. Amsterdam, not so much. In fact, Amsterdam city center is downright filthy. The canals are beautiful, but…it ain’t Bruges.
  • Both the Dutch and the Belgians know how to make some fries. It’s a well-honed craft with them, and bless them for it.
  • I’ll never look at an Aurora Borealis picture the same way. Turns out they are seldom visible to the naked eye, but the more sensitive sensor on modern cameras picks up the glow easily.
  • Another lesson learned – if you’re going to try and see the Lights, check the moon phase. A full moon is the worst situation (what we had). A new moon or dim moon gives you a much better chance.
  • The trains in Europe are a marvel. We in the US are absolute morons in comparison. At the central station in Amsterdam, you see people boarding trains for London, Paris, and the little town 10 miles away. And the airports have the train stations on the same property (doh!).
  • And don’t give me any of that crap about the US being so much larger. Mass transit simply takes planning and cooperation, and in the US we have neither.
  • KLM automated systems – passport readers, boarding pass readers, etc. – aren’t working so well today. Or not at all. I wonder who did their automation, and if today is the norm or just a bad day?
  • Wifi access to Internet is a modern necessity, almost like air, water and food. You just can’t do much without it. Most sites and apps won’t work well on 5G cellular (whatever the fuck the local carrier defines 5G as). Life is too short to spend waiting on a spinning screen icon.
  • My $25 burger in the Amsterdam hotel was (a) a surprise price, and (b) not that good. But at that point I was too tired to care.

On another topic – US politics. I am very, very happy that the mid-terms were not a red wave, but in fact were a repudiation of everything MAGA and Drumpf. The 60% of the US with a brain actually showed up and voted. I think SCOTUS’ removal of Roe and the Republican’s alienating everyone not white, rich, and straight were the big factors. Now that the Republicans have started saying the quiet part out loud in terms of bigotry, hate, religion, and misogyny people are finally understanding who they are. Or maybe they always knew but had some cover due to euphemisms and formal talking points. But no more, and that’s a great thing. Fascists gonna be fascists, and once they fess up, you better believe them.

By the way, I forgot to mention that we saw the original Groot in the Nordic Maritime Museum in Tromso. He didn’t say much, but there he was in all his wooden glory.