Was in California last week, enjoying a mini-vacation to Sacramento, Lake Tahoe and San Francisco. Quick observations – Tahoe is gorgeous, like Lake Winnipesaukee with the Rockies as a background. Sacramento is dull, even according to the people who live there. UC Davis has all the architectural distinctiveness of a 7-Eleven, but great coffee. And San Francisco is still unbelievably expensive.
My first week back is mostly too boring to write about, though I guess if I had real writing talent I could make my laundry, cleaning and conference calls much more intense and riveting than they really were. Anyway, one subject I know everyone likes: cute babies!
Here’s a good alternative and non-technical take on globalization from Micheal Totten, wanderer extraordinaire and definitely not rich, republican, or conservative. Money quote:
Globalization isn’t all about America. It’s not about making every restaurant, coffee shop, and retail outlet the same. It’s about exchanging goods and ideas. That exchange goes both ways. Countries that trade may grow more alike over time, but they also become more internally varied.
I do wish Starbucks made it to Chile before I did. It’s not like every café would have been a part of the franchise. Plenty of locals are now discovering what they’ve been missing. Some of them will never tolerate instant coffee again. Starbucks is almost sure to inspire local competitors. They’ll take a North American idea (which actually first came from Europe) and then they will make it Chilean. Local cafés won’t be displaced. They will be born.
So what did I do with my two weeks? Nothing interesting enough to write about, apparantly. I don’t normally slow down much in winter, but this year seems to be an exception, or it did until I realized why I was so run down earlier this week–caffiene withdrawal! Yes, I inadvertantly bought two pounds of decaf from Dunkin Donuts; one for work and one for home. I blame my personal decaffienation for my failure to notice this until someone else pointed it out. Anyway, when I realized how severe my withdrawal was, I decided it’s time to take a break from coffee. Really I’ve known this for awhile, since I no longer actually feel a coffee buzz, but being sleep all day and ready for bed by 8pm tears it. I’m back to juice and water for awhile.
My other not-really-interesting story is our (the ‘rents and I) visit to Plimoth Plantation on Black Friday. As the name suggests, this is the historical park outside Plymouth, MA. They have reconstructed native and pilgrim villages with interpretive staff, but their real business is hosting modern and 1620-style dinners. More on that later.
The villages were interesting for their historical accuracy (I assume) but even more interesting was the contrast in political correctness. Signs on the path warned us that the native staff are “real indians” (not necessarily Wampanoag) and are not in character. Visitors are to please refrain from whooping, using words like “squaw”, “chief”, “brave” etc.–apparantly “indian” is alright. The pilgrim staff on the other hand are reenactors, are in character, and we told that they will speak with the attitudes and ideas of their day. This turned out to mean, in one case, a lecture on how the Irish are “very much like the savages”. Silly, not that it’s a big deal. But this is Massachusetts afterall.
The star of the trip was the Mayflower II, a 1950s reconstruction of the original, which was just a charter and went on to other jobs and an unknown fate after the Pilgrims’ voyage. The ship is in excellent condition and is taken out sailing a few times a year. I had the impression that it’s possible to crew on it, but will need to check into that more. If so, I know what next year’s vacation will be!
The 1620 Thanksgiving dinner was a mixed bag. The food was interesting and good, with the centerpieces being mussels saute’d in the shell, pumpkin squash, and english “cheesecake”–basically a sweet-ish quiche without the ham. There was some rather mediocre entertainment that reminded everybody (literally, all the strangers around us mentioned it) of a rennaissance festival, and the company left something to be desired. You sit at long tables as in a pub, seats assigned by last name. I was wishing for a pretty girl to sit across from me, and I got my wish–sort of. She was cute alright, but in high school and didn’t want to chitchat with someone old enough to drink. I’d have probably been the same way at her age, but it made it a long hour and a half. My mom told me later that a guy my age sitting near her was from Alexandria. I knew I should have taken the inboard seat!
Just want to toss this out: Micheal Totten’s hilarious attempt at storm-chasing as he drives his new-to-him Acura RSX home to OR. He is far more likely to be washed away by rain than kidnapped by terrorists. If I ever get to meet the guy, let’s hope photography and beer are involved!
How exactly did a week go by since my last post? Feels like I put it up yesterday. Anyway, since very little worth babbling about is going on with me lately, let’s step into the way-back machine and visit a time when a lot was happening. This post and maybe the next few will feature excerpts from my personal journal on my first trip to Europe, the summer after I graduated high school in 1993. I’m copying them word for word and as close to the original formatting as HTML allows; you are fairly warned that the language and thoughts are those of an 18-year-old, and accordingly lack 30-something social graces. Enjoy!
Day 1, Lancaster, Pa. Franklin + Marshall College
forgotten items list
Today we had 2 largely useless meetings, I discovered that Mr. Schoonover is an asshole and he acts like a faggot, we practiced for an insane, point-of-diminishing returns amount of time (almost 10 hrs.) and we were locked out of our dorm by some pencil-neck security man. The guy that came to unlock the door was straight from central casting. he could have been on C.O.P.S. He got out of his jeep and said “You guys locked out here?” duh! How many pennsylvanians does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Bugosh quotable quote #1:
“let’s start with the trumpets. -Oh, that’s a french horn.”
Bugosh, whose first name was (I think) David, was the head band director. The program was to put together a band made up of high school students from around the eastern seaboard, and go around western Europe seeing the sights and playing concerts. An interesting concept, and the actual experience …well, read on:
19.20 (7:20 p.m.) , Koblenz, Germany : July 1
The drive from Brussels was long and almost uneventful. We seem to have had bad directions and got lost. Also, the air conditioner on the bus is incapable of beating the heat with the sun shining in through the windows. We arrived at the hotel an hour late, hot, sweaty, irritable and tired. As am I. time to sleep.
And that quick-and-dirty graf wrapped up my entry into Europe. It was a marathon trek from Lancaster to NYC, to Brussels and immediately (I think–we did tour Brussels at some point but that may have been on the way back) to Germany before we took a real breather. Tomorrow, northern Germany!