wtf body

2011-Jan-04, Tuesday 19:12
mindstalk: (Default)
Every time I've stayed in apartment by myself on my travels this trip, I've gotten sick.
London shared studio: no problem
London S. Kensington apartment: cold
London shared apartment: no problem
Paris apartment: cold or something
Amsterdam and Madrid shared apartments: no problem
Chile shared house: some but not much problem, pretty good for 6 weeks with kids.
Boston apartment: cold. Well, sniffles today.
Various hotel rooms haven't been a problem.

Well, I had a non-Airbnb apartment in Edinburgh, don't remember getting sick there. Though I was lethargic.

Blame Canada

2010-Dec-30, Thursday 11:06
mindstalk: (Default)
6-7 weeks later and the express walkway is still out of service. One of the ordinary walkways was broken, too.

Waiting for luggage. I took a nice break for bathroom and wi-fi. I grant that sorting 500 people's luggage going to different countries is a harder problem than a small local flight, but I'm still feeling there's inefficiency.

My host apparently can't find keys, so I've been offered an alternative. *Twitch*

It's so early, my friend on vacation in Hawaii might still be up! Or not, I thought it'd be 6 hours, not 5.

Travellers to the US get their own section here. Because Camada totally isn't a 51st state or anything.

Luggage has started appearing, only 45 minutes after the plane reached the gate.


I pick up my bag where Air Canada put it, and take the US Customs form Air Canada gave me to the US Customs line Air Canada told me to go. Half an hour later, the US official tells me "oh, American Airlines? Go out to Terminal 3". When I tried, a guard intercepted me and said I had to go through Canadian customs. Someone there was surprised I had my bag already. Then I was told, not asked, to put my bag on a belt for T3. Not sure if this was mandatory or some bag convenience, cause I have to pick it up there to take through Customs. Of course, my bag isn't here yet. A woman has asked two drivers to look for it. I'm told I couldn't carry it, as checked it had to be scanned. Again.

Got it, got check tags, got to spend half an hour in US customs, before slinging it on a belt and going through security. 3 hour layover and I'm at the gate with 35 minutes to spare from departure. Boarding was supposed to be 15 minutes ago.

So, flying to or through the US is bad, flying to the US through Canada is bad... Flying from Chile wasn't bad, but that was two years of security theater and tourism-destroying ago. Huh, Toronto is -6 C. But Boston is 0, and rising to 10 in the next few days. Bloomington's going up to 14. Both with rain, mind you. I BRING YOU WARM WEATHER FROM THE SOUTH. I AM AS A RAIN GOD. I forgot to decorate my big duffle so it'd be more distinguishable. I should have asked the girls to do something to it, they'd probably have tied ribbons or applied stickers.

Farewell to Chile

2010-Dec-30, Thursday 08:21
mindstalk: (Default)
Wow, haven't used my phone to blog in a while. On the plane in La Serena, by 18:22 for a 18:40 flight. Didn't leave the house until 17:50. They're close to the airport, which is small and casual. Didn't have to take my laptop out or empty my water bottle. Probably will in Santiago, as well as getting my checked luggage so I can check in again; LAN and Air Canada don't seem to talk to each other.

The attentive to detail will note that this post is not in the "Escape from" series.

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Baby crack

2010-Dec-26, Sunday 22:17
mindstalk: (riboku)
M, 20 months, has come to toddling into my room in the evening or late afternoon. Because I'll be on my netbook, and she's learned from S's iPad that that means entertainment. Of course, I don't have a touchscreen, which she had trouble with -- though I tried running xneko and secretly moving the cat to her finger. But I've played songs with Totem's visualization on -- she clapped to Cam Ye O'er Frae France which I may have said already, and liked Monster's Lullaby -- but I've also started showing AMVs. The weird sounds and weirder graphics hypnotize her, and I'm entertained too. She's too young probably to realize she can't understand the Japanese. Even so, I've wondered what impression some of the wacky visuals make on her brain. Tutu, Macross Frontier, Mahou Shoujoutai, Sora no Woto AMV.

Tonight the older girls wanted to watch, and despite everyone being able to see the baby got angry and pushy and wandered off. mlc23 has written privately about how her 4 year old gets stroppy with TV exposure, and after a TV-less day the kids really wanted more of even my bizarre offerings. So I get to try to infect them with anime. Added Tutu Hold Me Now, a 12K English cover, and Mushishi One-Eyed Fish to the list. They might be fertile soil... though I don't know about reading subtitles, even for the 7 year old. Though she's (still) reading Fellowship.

"They're talking German" (no)
"The mountain is so tall."
"The princess is the beautifulest."
"Does Japan look like that?" (satellite view of the 12 Kingdoms. So, uh, no.)

More update

2010-Dec-23, Thursday 00:07
mindstalk: (escher)
18 days since the last one. Not that I've heard much from people stateside!

That dinner party I mentioned was okay. Was an English Speakers Association event. Lots of strangers, and loud. Partly a tasting of Chilean wines, with small portions of food with each wine. And Saturday we went to a day party for the workers at the observatory, again of mild interest to me, though I had a nice walk outside the play area, and saw a couple of horses.

I didn't get chicken pox. The older kids recovered, but now the 20 month old has it.

We've played a bunch of Rail games. I just won Australian Rails! Nice minimalist track along the south, and the cards to make use of it, especially taking nickel to Cook for a 246 total, and then drawing fish to Cook for 10 when I was already built to Port Lincoln. Two more turns, and victory! G wasn't far behind, unlike the previous games of Lunar and Martian Rails, which were S > me >> G, as he got bad luck or made poor choices. I guess we're actually mixing up the victory orders pretty well.

I finally finished the Baroque Trilogy... a week ago, in fact! It even had a decent ending, at least by Stephenson standards. A bit rushed (after 1800 pages!) but some actual closure. Was it fun? Yes. Do I want to re-read any time soon? Hell no.

I've re-read Order of the Stick books, noting some art details I hadn't, like some of the jokes when Roy is interviewing in Origin of PCs, and how the army moves in the battle for Azure City.

I started Henry James' _The Bostonians_, since I'm going to Boston. The edition introduction made me think I wouldn't enjoy finishing it -- unpleasant people being unpleasant to each other -- but the first part is supposed to be a nice social portrait.

I'd started re-reading Sunshine, specifically to take notes about it, but haven't gotten far yet. Distracted by RPG reading, politics news, RPG thoughts, games.

I introduced G' to the joys of black pepper, which she now applies as well as salt to her pepinos, cucumber slices.
S' no longer microwaves her pasta, because G' doesn't, because G' is too impatient or something. I've tried to encourage S' to be her own girl, not just imitate her older sister, but no success.

I made more sets out of my Flickr photos, so there's some more order. Still a lot to do with the 1400 or something photos.

Have made my first sun tea. 3 or 4 green or white tea bags in a mason jar, on the ledge in my bedroom that's both north and west facing -- recall north is solar down here -- and backed by curtains, so it's basically a little greenhouse. It's come out decently, usually a bit more bitter than ideal but it's hard to get my ideal.

I found a metal bar outside that's find for trying pull-ups on. I used to be able to do some, but that was like 40 pounds ago. I've been exercising a bit more regularly, patio jogs, slow squats, push-ups, and some sit-ups, plus single-leg balance, leaving my calves persistently sore, probably from the barefoot patio jogs.


2010-Dec-04, Saturday 19:29
mindstalk: (CrashMouse)
We had Thanksgiving dinner last Saturday, with a few of G's co-workers from the observatory. Good, standard stuff. Played Fish Eat Fish with the kids, and I was the first one out. Then a couple of Catan games with one of the 'workers, so we had 4 people for once. I was introduced as the Catan shark, and gave evidence by almost winning the first and outright winning the second. I think the trend is for me to win Catan, S to win various little Cheapass or bean games, and G to win rail games. I did win Martian Rails in the past week, though it was quite close. I mostly played among the Alpine cities in the center west, such that when the big card to Ares U came up, it was free and fast money for me. We'd played Lunar Rails before; both planets have more interesting boards. Played Russian Rails today, with a much wider spread of scores.

Kids have chicken pox; I just hope my blood test claiming antibodies was on the mark. Mostly the middle kid; the oldest seems to have inherited G's immunity to poxes. Youngest gets to enjoy stomach flu or something instead.

I've made meat sauce here a couple of times, though both times I felt like some addictive element was missing. Don't know what, though. Not enough spice, maybe, or maybe there's some flavor to cayenne besides capsaicin; I've been using red pepper flakes, and not as much as I'd like, since I'm the local spice fiend.

Cleaned out my browser tabs, especially a lot of reading on income inequality. I'll link dump some other time. Been splitting attention between Wikileaks, RPG stuff, and System of the World more recently. Also finishing Noein, and earlier finished Railgun and Sora no Woto. Stephenson is frigging hilarious, at times; the Dappa/Peer/faeces throwing conversation was priceless.

Thanksgiving was followed by a Chilean BBQ Sunday, birthday of another co-worker, held by the family of his Chilean wife. Lots of meat, lots of salads, buttery rice. Hot dogs (salchicas), ribs, chicken -- just for appetizers. Steak (excellent) and pork and chorizo (not so much) at the table with the salads and starches (also corn, and a cheesy potato thing that was good.)

Tonight, some dinner party. I'm not sure what or why, but I borrowed slacks.

No fennel in Chile. Snickers and Milky Way in the store, but not 3 Musketeers.

I've signed up for Arisia. Need to look into actual domiciles in Boston.
mindstalk: (CrashMouse)
Baby M claps her hands to Steeleye Span's Cam Ye O'er Frae France, and seems to like Silly Wizard's Donald McGillivry (sp). S' likes Meg Davis's Monster's Lullaby, which I first discovered from her mother. G' is still reading the Hobbit.

Food is sort of on Spanish schedule here. The rest of the family has breakfast, big lunch (cooked by the maid during the week) at 14 at least for the home crowd, and dinner 6-8. I tend more to have my first meal be the big lunch, with a third meal at 10-midnight. The Deutschule goes from 8 to 13:45, whereas the same ages in Chicago got 9-14:45 (and high school 8-14:45, IIRC.)

My best wishes to any Americans trying to fly tomorrow.

I'm trying to make my meat sauce in S's crockpot, though I didn't thaw the meat in time, and I'm light on the spiciness given local preferences.

S had me try some late-season white Moscatel wine with sweet grapes. I don't positively like it, but I do like it more than typical dry reds. I also had a loquat, common garden fruit here; more seed than fruit so not a big commercial fruit. Artichokes are 8 for a mil from a guy on the way to school, so we're having a lot. That's like a quarter each. Apricots are really good now.

*I'm* making myself big salads everyday, so getting a lot of lettuce at least. Will have to go out for more, since I slept through this morning's shopping trip. I hope my shins will have recovered from yesterday morning's exercises.

I was told last trip that OJ is rare here. We currently have an endless supply of clementines so I don't care. Milk is typically hyper-sterilized and sold at room temperature, though kept in the fridge once opened. I'm not sure if it tastes any worse than normal US milk. You can't buy hazelnuts or brazilnuts here, but they have something of their own they call hazelnuts, smaller than true filberts. Sadly, I wasn't too impressed by the taste.

Oh yeah! Remember me going on about the walls and fences and Mediterranean architecture? I'm told the ubiquity of the walls is actually a development of the past 10-20 years, due to high crime rates as La Serena's population explodes. The fact that visible first-story windows typically have bars on them seems to support this. :-(
mindstalk: (juggleface)
I just got Eldest Daughter reading The Hobbit.

The food store turned out to have a separate fancier cheese section, like US supermarkets, with imported brie and camembert. The Danish brie wasn't good at all, at least by brie standards, more like a block than runny. The native goat camembert is decent.

Yesterday I was going to go for a walk, but G hauled out some bicycles, so the two of us went on a ride instead. 11 km total by his odometer, up the hill and through back streets and down a long road full of schools, including the Deutschule (now recognized by the German government!) that the elder kids go to. That was fun, and I experienced staying in low left gear for a while; lots of uphills.

Biggest other Out thing was going to an art walk Saturday. La Serena has a bunch of statues along an avenue downtown, and an expatriate with a PhD in art forgery and reproduction gave a walking lecture about the statues. Lined up in the 1940s IIRC, in a manner reminiscent of Greek temples, where you step up through a marble gateway into an outdoors sacred space, with statues of the gods and the nature of the gods. Almost all the statues were apparently copies of copies -- like, someone in 19th century Europe making a neo-classical statue inspired by ancient ones, and various students making copies of *that* which eventually ended up here. Or were made here. Or made for use by students here. It also had some modern Chilean sculpture, in local basalt. Photos up on Flickr, though still not organized much.

Otherwise, it's been sleep in, play with kids, read online, go shopping with S, play games wit G&S or just S if G's up at the observatory. I've played tag and hide-n-seek, chalked with the kids (I think that was basking incident day), listened to meltdowns, gotten good night hugs and given rides. I realized that the Alphabet Song is to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle, and told the kids. I've gotten at-length exposure to an 18 month old for the first time, so when people say chimps are as smart as a 2 year old, I have some other calibration point other than 2 year olds to compare that to.

Also gotten a local SIM card, mostly for emergencies at this point, and a new hat, in the same utility space as the one I'd gotten last time at the airport, but which is kind of grody two years later. S picked me up so fast that I'd forgotten to look for a replacement; now I have a white floppy hat with a wider brim and more adjustable strap. Entel seems to offer unlimited mobile data for $70/month. Gurk! I also found dried meat, 'charqui', in the store -- not jerky with flavorings, just dried meat. One's goat, one's horse. Also got a Brita water filter, since the water here is very hard and tastes like LA water; G&S are used to that, and the kids even more so: G' said "what's wrong with this water?" when I poured her some filtered stuff.

Empanadas are a standard food here. Pastry of sorts with meat, cheese, onion, hard boiled egg, raisins, and one olive. Always one olive. I think it's manually placed, not scooped in. I still don't like the olives but the empanadas the maid makes are great. Haven't had store ones.

We watched a couple episodes of MacGuyver, made in the 1980s when torture was still bad, something done not by Bulgarian Communists but by particularly corrupt Bulgarian Communists. "Uncle, surely you don't mean torture!"

Stray dogs are everywhere. Some mix of released dogs, maybe feral dogs, and pet dogs who just go for walks on their own.

Whee! Fun 2 hour conversation with S, like back in college. You can't see it but I'm smiling.

Oh right, also spent half a day doing retroactive budget balancing of my trip. Find delta net worth, add up recorded expenditures, see if they match. Not entirely, and it's a larger gap than I feel can be reliably attributed to the food purchases that I didn't bother recording. I'd like to think I messed up my delta net worth calculation, what with the shuffling money between accounts and credit cards, but it's hard to see.

Still, I can say that average lodgings were $90/day, not counting the free ones, but counting 4 hostel days at $22/day, and 5 Mallaig B&B days at $40/day. Conversely, Paris apartment had $125, and 3 Amsterdam days seem to have been $200. I either messed up very badly there or didn't get the Internet deal pricing I thought I was.

Total intercity travel was $1040: trains London-Edinburgh, Edin-Glasgow, Glasgow-Mallaig-Edin, Edin-Leeds, Leeds-London, Lndon-Paris, Paris-Amsterdam; flight Amst-Madrid. Actually, hmm, I think Edin-Glasgow (twice) isn't there, but that's like $16 per trip.

$146 in credit card foreign currency fees, $92 in ATM card currency and ATM fees.

Accounted-for food purchases average $22/day, which feels quite low, but I'm bad at gut average feel. Many days of eating out expensively, spending nearly that much on a meal, but OTOH I ate in for almost all of Paris.

It all comes out to a bit under $4000 a month, not counting the flights to and from Europe; 2/3 of that is rent, even with expensive foods (though hardly any drinking.) Stay in hostels and buy groceries and you might spend 1/3 of that, though I don't know how cheap hostels in London or Paris are. Glasgow was $22/day but that's Glasgow, and I don't think I could have lived in hostel dormitories for 3 months.

And while pricey, most of my rent money went to Airbnb apartments in London and Paris, at cheaper rates plus more room + kitchen than most hotels would give. I wasn't cheapest, and certainly not planned, but it wasn't most expensive either.

S spent a lot less on 5.5 months in South America, but that was hostels + camping -- I haven't asked how much camping -- plus South America, plus 1990s dollar exchange rate. A fair bit of my trip would be cheaper just with a lower euro, though the dollar/pound relation was pretty much standard; both currencies are weak. Lucky me.

Chilean foods

2010-Nov-16, Tuesday 22:57
mindstalk: (CrashMouse)
Huh, must be a meteor night, going by the LJ banner. Ah, Leonids tonight or tomorrow night. Hmm, sleep or go outside? Oh, there's a security system, no going outside after hosts go to bed. *turns light out* Also, lots of cloud cover.

S took me to Jumbo, a supermarket++ in town. I couldn't find a hat I wanted there. I did find like half a dozen varieties of lettuce, or things called lechuga anyway. I got a couple, one similar to a conventional green-red leaf, one like a small extra crinkly and also extra bitter red leaf. Had them with basil, cherry tomatoes, carrots -- the ones here are shorter, squatter, and sweeter than the ones I'm used to -- and the usual dressing, for my first straight salad in quite a while. I'd looked for sorrel in the market, since R introduced me in SF, but S laughed that possibility off. Jumbo also had a a whole aisle of pasta, with lots of varieties, various spinach pastas, and flavored ones with herbs or oil built in. I was tempted by the dill one -- yes, I'd looked up the Spanish for dill -- but remembered we had some at home so that was silly. Bread selection -- this is why I'd looked up dill -- was eh, though I deliberately got a curry bread and accidentally got a spicey (sort of) bread. I wasn't impressed by the texture of either, though I note I've eaten a fair bit of the curry bread. Makes me think I'm living in Yakitake. "Azuma Kasuma presents Ja-Pan #17, curry bread!"

The cheese cooler wasn't very impressive, apart from being 1/3 Gouda. S was prompted to mention G's French co-workers, who were introduced to cheddar cheese and viewed it as building material.

I forgot to tell S this, but S' age 4.5 knows what "basking in the sun" means. Or at least applies it to people lying down on towels; as I was just sitting on the patio, my claim to be doing it was disputed. I tried to tell her about lizards on rocks. Anyway, I'm impressed at the phrasal vocabulary there. G' has been impressive too but is 7, the daughter of two verbally fluent Techers, and reads a lot, so I'm starting to take it for granted. After all when I was her age I was 6 months away from reading Moby Dick and had read much of Malory, so really she's just performing at par. :p Of course, I didn't know three languages.
mindstalk: (thoughtful)
Both update and thoughts on the psychology of housing construction.

Yesterday I left the compound for the first time. What do I mean by that? My current home isn't that big -- house is a decent size but not huge, grounds feel comparatively small, though given that there's like four contour levels the square meterage may be higher than it feels. Still, not that big. But there's an opaque wall all around the property, with the house inside. There's sightlines to high parts of neighboring houses, and to the lower parts of the city -- we're on a hill, see countour lines -- but still, wall. Wall and gate to the street.

So it's rather easy to go Outside -- open a sliding door and step onto the patio and into the sun, or even out onto the grass, to childish cries of "but you're not wearing shoes, Damien!" -- but whichever way I go out, I'm still in private, domestic space. And it's full of light and companionship. Whereas going Out, into public space, means going through the wall as well, and there's not much of immediate interest out there. So it is that on my last visit -- albeit over holidays, with friends I hadn't seen in 3 years -- I got out on my own once in ten days, and I think late into the time at that. This trip, I made it Out on only the third day! And I can't even credit schoolday, because the kids were back by then, and I'd happily slept through the morning.

But still, it takes effort, and even S notes that for herself, which got me thinking about contrasts...

The walled area design is nearly universal here, though sometimes it's just a fence instead of full wall. I saw a bit into a gated community, and there you have individual walls inside the community walls. I think this is common in old Mediterranean architecture, for whatever reason, though I've heard more than once of Arab or maybe Egyptian design of presenting a blank exterior so as to not attract tax collectors. I also recall that S grew up in LA on an even larger area, fenced and maybe half-walled off, so she's used to one's land being an airlock or moat between the house and the world.

By contrast, I grew up with a high fence around most of the back yard, but if you went out the front door there was a 10 foot walk and some shrubs to the sidewalk. Many other houses were similar, though with grass instead of shrubs, though some did have front fences -- often more decorative or dog-repelling than functional, though, since if you needed to knock you'd just open the gate and go to the door, rather than pressing a buzzer out by the sidewalk. Anyway, go outside one way, and you're still private, but go out the front door and you're Out, and conversely the public can come right up to the front door. In san Francisco, there wasn't even then 10 feet; go out the front and you were on the sidewalk, though you might have a long backyard hidden away. (Really hidden, given that homes were wall to wall leaving no space for peeking through.)

Southern style in Atlanta seemed similar, with the addition of an open porch, inviting a mixing of a relaxing homedweller with public traffic. Bloomington has that too sometimes. Bloomington also has a fair number of homes where even the backyard isn't fenced off, it's just open rolling lawn, and I've now identified why that felt so odd to me. I'm used to half-walled property, so fully walled feels antisocial, but no-walled feels overly open and exposed, and very trusting.

Then there's apartments, where you often have to get your shoes and keys just to go Outside for some sun and fresh air. So there's more incentive to cave up, but if you do get Outside you're automatically Out as well; you're either a total recluse or unavoidably public.

I should note that the "antisocial" bit above is a bit of illusion on my part, or rather the idea that we were any better kind of is. We didn't have a front wall, but we had an enclosed porch used for storage; mostly, we weren't public any more than we had to be. The two exceptions are my playing on the sidewalk as a child, and the fact that someone wanting to get our attention could come up to the door. Then again, that last bit feels like a big deal; places where the door is accessible feel less intimidating to me than ones with a wall, or even an unlocked gate. Especially if the resident has to come out all the way to see you, vs. shuffling down to the front door. Of course, that's what intercoms and these days probably camera screens are for, but still, it feels like Money and Reclusiveness to me.

Tangentially, I recall the apartments I was in in Paris and Madrid, with basically multiple airlocks of gates, with the Madrid ones likely to kill you in a fire because you literally couldn't get out without a key. My Oakland residence was simpler, just an outside fence with gate and intercom.

Nothing much to say from my walk itself. I found a few places, managed a bit of sub-pidgin communication, and found a chocolateria selling bon-bons, though these weren't the ganache-filled truffles I was expecting. Makes sense I suppose, given $4 for 15 or 18 pieces.

Flight spam 3

2010-Nov-12, Friday 19:02
mindstalk: (Default)
I had a Tim Horton's chocolate dip. It was ok. Most notable thing is that the mass of the doughnut is like light fluffy cake, not inherently grease ladedn like I think US doughnuts are. Not that I have many.

WATER FOUNTAINS. Just saying. Better water than the sulferous stuff I got in SFO. I can't believe I thought that was better than Zurich water. Maybe something happened?

Read more... )

I note that my flight-luck continues: despite the intimations of delay and the lack of advanced boarding passes or cell phones, I arrived on time with no more trauma than you'd expect of a 24 hour journey and no lossed other than the pistachios, rye bread, and dates I threw away thinking to expedite my Customs.


2010-Nov-11, Thursday 19:47
mindstalk: (rogue)
I do feel rather emotionally recharged for the week in SF. Seeing friends! Talking to people! Seeing close friend for long, and other close friend I hadn't even seen last year! Seeing other people! This despite any actual group dinner, and family friend being sick, and not hearing back from the actual family. Seeing SF itself was good, and finding Dark Carnival, and all the comforting "I'm in my culture and familiar space" stuff, though the nostalgia teeters on homesickness too. So many friendly people here! (Well, there.) But I should be able to settle into Boston, right?

Seeing G&S and the kids should be great too, though I'm also a bit nervous about the 7 weeks aspect of it. It made sense at the time, but it's also a week longer than I've stayed with them before, and that was pushing my welcome.

OTOH a couple waiting to go have a kid might be different than a couple with 3 kids already. I won't be the most disruptive element in the house this time. And there's always taking some off-season vacation housing, as I'd offered to do. I might even want it myself after a while. Just no enthusiasm for it now, just want to curl up and be Epicurean, in the food and friendships sense. Not as much as a week ago, but still.

Flight from SF 2

2010-Nov-11, Thursday 19:24
mindstalk: (Default)
Miserable. Cramped, and not falling asleep despite blindfold, earplugs, pilllow, heaphones on classical music. All week I've had this thing where I fall asleep readily at bedtime, get 4-5 hours sleep, then get stuck awake, with at best drifting off later. B&R probably thought I was a slug, seeming to sleep in all morning. I've never slept well in planes, or anywhere outside of beds, but still.

5 hour flight, as just the first leg. Gah! Whine whine, self inflicted agony.

Oh, no free meal on this 5 hour flight. Not that I want one, just noting. Lots of drinks offered. "Coffee? It's Starbucks, and free!"

16:40, 3:40 from gate departure.

My next flight is Air Canada; I get to check in with them in Toronto. Despite having, you know, checked in.


A situation which really confused immigration, and I got told I should have printed out an itinerary. But they let me through, after more "why are you traveling and what do you do?" questions, I found someone to give me a boarding pass -- not trivial inside the secure zone at 21:00 -- and discovered another store that doesn't have 3 prong adapters. Passed on buying a bunch of ice wine. And no, ATT prepaid doesn't work here.

Free Boingo wifi does, though! And a food court with tables! I can eat bread and camembert. Or buy Tim Horton's donuts. Hmm.

Wednesday catchup

2010-Nov-10, Wednesday 18:52
mindstalk: (Default)
Still in Oakland. Flying to Chile tomorrow.
I've told like fanw and mlc I saw Jane Saturday; I saw her Friday. Yes, I'm pedantic.
Saturday we went to the Ferry Plaza market, where I found dates but not honey dates and the prices were high: $8 for medjool vs. $3 in Union Plaza back in the day.
$3.50 for one pomegranate though it was a very red and juicy one.
Met Pick One and Lee, had good pastor taco, enh fish one.
I got off downtown, did some used jacket shopping, I hate the mass but I won't totally freeze in the Andes or Boston.

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Happy and sad

2010-Nov-07, Sunday 00:00
mindstalk: (Default)
Stayed in yesterday until meeting old college friend Jane for dinner and four hours. Happiness! But private.

Today B&R took me to the Ferry Building farmers market. I found dates and broke my heart. Bunch of varieties but no honey dates, and medjool for $8 per pound instead of $3. I think I want the other farmers market, less touristy. $3.50 for a single pomegranate here. Possibly good, but...

Bought odd dates and dried fruit at Rainbow Groceries, then we had lunch with the Techer formerly known as Pick One and his gf, at El Metate. Good taco pork al pastor, I have had better fish tacos. Great water, I wonder if that was just SF's glacial supply. Caltech conversation mugging ensued, as it tends to do with 3 or more of us. R is so adapted and assimilated that she asked Jane what House she was in, when I brought Jane home for a bit last night.

Was too late for efficient attendance of the Asian Art museum, but I got off downtown, ended up doing some shopping; I'll now have some defence against a trip into the Andes, or Boston in January. Radio Shack still doesn't have power converters for Chile, though.

Oakland port has huge quadupedal cranes. I compared them to skeletal brontosaurs, B&R to At-ats from Star Wars. It is apt.

Hmm, still have cell signal in underground BART in downtown SF and Oakland, unlike near the airport.


Dinner, discussion of college, cooking, and chocolate. It's really fun hanging out and talking with friends, vs. the isolation of individual travel. Once again my basic Epicureanism, and extroversion with respect to the right people, are attested to.

Cheap dates

2010-Nov-04, Thursday 17:32
mindstalk: (lizsword)
I got to be social already! My old manager from Cogit was working at home nearby, so we met by Rockridge Bart and we went for coffee. Hadn't seen him in 8-10 years, fun catching up, plus he paid for a really good iced mocha.

Then I figured I'd make a pilgrimage to Dark Carnival, the good SF/horror bookstore in Berkeley. Everyone hears about Other Change of Hobbit, because it's downtown, vs. buried on Claremont near Oakland, but Dark Carnival has a far better inventory. Happily, it was still there. I went "Yay!" The cashier guy seemed unimpressed and unwilling to talk much. I got a book for a friend I hope to meet, so I could support them without acquiring horrible extra mass; they didn't have King's Peace, so I got Sunshine.

On the way over I'd noticed a middle school I don't remember, thought I probably just never noticed it, and that Albertson's or Andronico's seems replaced by Trader Joe's. On the way back I stopped by a bakery, tried their Swedish orange rye bread, rejected it, and went to TJ. Medjool dates for $3.49 A POUND!!! Pistachio nutmeats for $10/pound, which is way more than the $4/pound they used to have. Didn't think to check whole wheat pasta.

Popped into the Rockridge branch of the Oakland library. Nice architecture. But they're closed Sunday and Monday, and random days. Go go California budget cuts. I'm serious when I say that part of the reason I want to go to Massachusetts is that they deserve my tax dollars far more.

Problem with re-watching lots of AMVs on the plane is now I have half a dozen earworms fighting in my brain.

I'm not used to suddenly being 3 hours behind Bloomington and webcomic updates, rather than 5 hours ahead.

Guess I should lie down before dinner. Only got 5 hours of sleep, despite my best efforts.


2010-Nov-03, Wednesday 22:37
mindstalk: (Default)
Accidental activation of Web and Youtube killed my Vodafone credit. No email for Blake; oh well, he'd been told that no news was probably good news. I'm told 1600 swiss Francs for an upgrade, in cash. Wait, I don't know what the exchange rate is... Neighbor went and moved, so I've got a central aisle seat with an empty neighbor, though guy in front will be in my face soon. (Edit: I was wrong about that) 12 hour flight. There are metal things beneath the seat in front, so I can't put my backpack there. Empty seat next to me, so I can put it there!

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Escape from Madrid

2010-Nov-03, Wednesday 12:52
mindstalk: (Default)
A bunch of private showers don't have curtains, just bathtub and shower head. Others, or in hotels, have a clear divider near the head, but it doesn't go all the way, so that a bad shower angle can easily flood the room. Like this morning, until I got it under control.

8 am airport shuttle is more like the "arrive at 8:08, leave at 8:11" shuttle.

I swear my duffle is spontaneously generating weight. Felt really heavy yesterday despite having my Spanish books in my backpack. Might be better today, after sifting through and throwing out some dead weight -- like the Paris guidebook I'd completely forgotten I'd bought. Forgot about my Paris map too, though I'm keeping that.

Big Sky morning, with lots of scrub, like blend between LA and bus stop Montana.

Found my old US SIM card; I'd even put it in a sensible place. So when I get to the US I can rez my number, assuming AT&T has been charging it for the past 3 months.

I get the impression that the shuttle driver doesn't know which airlines are in which terminals. Good thing I looked it up. Hope I remember the right one.

It'd be nice if the hotel listings on mentioned not just the existence of an airport hotel shuttle but how often it runs. Or when; someone might care about a :00 hourly shuttle vs. a :30 one.

At least the 20 minute estimate to T1 was accurate. My duffel ran afoul of the carryon weight limit of 8 kg, at 12 kg. So I took my clothes bag out, leaving 6.5 to be checked-in. I bet it won't reach SF on time but I don't think I need it for anything urgent.

Security fast but I forgot to empty my water bottle. At least I have my other empty bottle. But, insurrection! There's no water fountains, even inside security! Where's my little bit of America? What the hell, Europe?

Part of me cries seeing the direct Santiago flights on the screens. And passing the Ryanair Santiago boarding. Wait, Ryanair? Maybe Orbitz just didn't know about direct flights cheaper than $4000, and I had to look elsewhere. Crap.

Gang of loud Spanish people in the bathroom banging on stall doors.

Boarding is at 9:25, once again the opposite of online which implied boarding would close by then.

Got a water refill from a food place.

Check-in asked for my passport but security only asked for my boarding pass. It seems that if I'd managed to print out a pass that I could have arrived at the gate without showing ID. Or boarded the plane. Gee, like a flying bus.


Boarded. Took a while to taxi and take off, but hopefully it's included in the time two hour "flight", 800 miles, cruise speed of 500 mph. Ascent and acceleration seemed gradual. As it happens, the airline magazine has an article on how fragmented European airspace is, 47 traffic control agencies for an airspace the size of the US, and how this often means burning 25% more fuel than needed. There's a Single European Sky initiative underway, but in the meantime planning a route here sounds like a doctor dealing with insurance in the US.

Most of the plane announcements are in German and English, though one also came in what I think was Chinese. Definitely tonal and not Japanese, though sounded a bit odd, not that I know much about Chinese. Or Cantonese vs. Mandarin, or even which one I've heard more of.

Magazine also had a photo of inside Atocha train station in Madrid, where I apparently missed seeing a large indoor tropical garden in the waiting hall. Aww.

Crossing the snow-capped Pyrenees.

Food: croissant, decent; coffee, weak; OJ, standard. Followed by chcolates, the attendant smiled when I got excited at Swiss chocolate. But it's milk and pale brown. Still good. She also thought I'd be able to make my gate.

Was re-watching AMVs -- yes, I have a lot on my phone, and someone remind me to send James the good Haruhi suzumiya AMV links, if he's going to start watching -- but they're showing Tom and Jerry. Is it still funny without sound? Yes. "Professor Tom", "Snowbody Loves Me" -- though I think the music would help on this one, especially with ballerina Jerry, and weird, Tom seems to feel bad about freezing Jerry, and they get along at the end.

Oh, I forgot to mention the animated safety video. 3Dish, not quite Incredibles, maybe more like the Final Fantasy movie?

Not long to get through passport control and trap to the International terminal. Security, otoh... I just love how we need to go through security to go between secured areas. .aero is a new TLD the wifi uses.

Some Middle East looking guy had to be told to have his bag xrayed, and his jacket, and his shoes.

No water fountains! Took a chance on bathroom tap water. Swiss water should be really good, right?

At gate with half hour to spare. Not actually boarding yet.

Spanish lessons

2010-Nov-02, Tuesday 17:50
mindstalk: (Default)
So, I think I wanted "¿Cómo (yo) salo sin la llave?" "How do I leave without a key?" Actually, hmm, maybe "¿Cómo puedo salir sin la llave?" "How can I leave without a key?"

Went for airport hotel. Stupid wifi here is a paid username password pair, and it objects to being used on more than one computer at once.

What's with Cómo vs. Como? Wouldn't Como be pronounced Cómo anyway?

Went shopping. Area is full of monochrome terra cotta brick buildings, but the supermarket is large and has a newly seen diversity of cheese and meats. That would have been interesting were I sticking around longer.

Hotel is funky. Funk name, "taCH by Clementhoteles", with an umlaut over the a. Dim lighting in the hallways that I think is trying to be hip rather than creepy.

Food: feel cheap, so figured I'd eat bread, jamon serrano, and camembert, with mandarins for fiber. Poor me. :)

Bad start

2010-Nov-02, Tuesday 13:50
mindstalk: (angry sky)
Good thing I don't believe in omens.
"The butter is too hard, let's try microwaving it in its container. Oh, the box has foil in it, now it's caught fire. Oh good, I can blow it out. But it's smokey now, let's open the porch door. Hmm, I can't. Let's turn on the stove air vent. Oops, that was the release catch, not the on switch, and the grill fell down and broke a plate..."

Though I had better luck earlier. I'd stepped out, and ran into the doorman. I've been concerned about how to leave tomorrow morning, given that you seem to need a key to get out of the building -- which seems like a massive fire hazard. Anyway, how to leave my key and leave if no one else is up? If I'd had time I could have planned out a grammatical question but as it was I forget much of what little I know, like puedo (I can) or sin (without), and ended up waving my key while going salida (exit), manyana (morning, or tomorrow), seis (six) pointing at my watch. This did produce an answer: he showed me that the mail slots are big enough to drop keys into, so I can open the door, prop it open with my copious luggage, drop keys off, and escape.

Assuming I don't just relocate to an airport hotel, which is tempting for getting up an hour later.

Had vague plans to take a high speed train (30 minutes) to Segovia or Toledo, am thinking that won't happen. Another night of 5.5 hours of sleep followed by not falling back to sleep, plus wanting to print out my boarding passes -- though at least I got better seats online, if I don't make my connection it won't be for lack of being upfront in the first one -- and seek my American SIM card.

April 2019

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