Nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must first be overcome.
Leaving home is a pain in the neck. You must batten down the hatches, erect lights with timers, and be sure everything is unplugged. Also, you have to beg a neighbor to take in the mail, put out the trash containers, and water the flowers. Ours is rather good about it, but she will be on vacation for part of the time. That meant asking my daughter…who makes a face. I will have to remind her by phone (which means that I will miss the rolling of eyes!)
These days, one can check-in the day before on the Internet, but that does not preclude standing in line to check bags. We arrived late, thinking that there would be no line at business class check-in. Wrong. The line was shorter at economy; so, not being afraid of being spotted in such a line, be joined that one. Still, we cut it short making it to the gate, which happened to be the longest walk in the airport. Fortunately, there was no line at passport control or at security, perhaps because we were the last ones rushing to the gate. The plane would be an Airbus 380—a full one—so there were a lot of folks ahead of us.
On this plane, business and first classes are on the upper deck. One does not mingle or even see the economy passengers, because they enter from a lower level in the terminal. Space is a far more important luxury on a flight than food. Being able to raise your legs and to lie flat is a second luxury, not to be underestimated. I have flown to Australia and back in economy and would not do it again.
Weather delayed the plane for one hour (if only we had known before rushing to the gate). A band on thunderstorms over Europe screwed up air traffic. We sat on the plane after boarding (which seemed just like having a smooth flight). It merely meant that the journey increased to 10 ½ hours from the estimated 9 1/2 hour flight time (the time in the old days, before they started cutting corners over the Atlantic).
Take-off in an Airbus 380 is smooth and quiet. They must have added soundproofing. One does not hear engine noise or the gears retracting. My wife still does not understand how such a monstrosity—or a Cessna 150, for that matter—gets off the ground. I have given up trying to explain.
I hope that Airbus Industries put more thought and effort into designing and manufacturing the rest of the Airbus 380 than they put into the toilets. They are small and very similar to ones in Boeing aircraft. The paper towel dispensers are almost worthless. It was rather surprising, since I was expecting progress and perfection. Nevertheless, if you have the choice of aircraft, I would recommend the 380. The ride is a pleasant flying experience…which is the main thing.
Airplane food is always an issue (or fodder for stand-up comedians)—except some airline’s first class service—but I have found all efforts to be “modern” to result in abject failure. This flight was a case in point. Airlines contract famous chefs to “design” their meals and offer variety. This usually means too much weird stuff for my taste. I would be happy with “chicken or beef”. This was the least-appetizing food that I have ever been served on Lufthansa. At least the desert was good. One big surprise was discovering an American wine that I enjoyed: Columbia Crest chardonnay. A rare occurrence.
Service was, as always on Lufthansa, very friendly and efficient. The young girls are always cheerful and helpful. It is rather different than North American carriers, where seniority defines the ones to get overseas flights. I always felt that I was being served by my grandmother.
An even bigger surprise was arriving at a new terminal in Miami. I used to hate the old one, which I had endured for thirty years. Lufthansa is nice enough to keep the economy class penned up until first and business class passengers have disembarked, so we had a head start on the long walk to passport control. There was no line, which meant that we were quickly through to the baggage claim…where we had to wait. The terminal might be new, but baggage handling is still the Dark Ages variety. Miami does not feature Frankfurt Airport automation.
Finally, we were able to plunge into the heat, humidity, and exhaust fumes at the taxi stand. We missed the limousine service found in Dubai, Hong Kong, and Bangkok; instead, we got a beat-up Ford, with dodgy A/C and sagging seats. The driver had trouble understanding our destination: the Mandarin Oriental, one of the leading hotels in Miami.
This hotel provides a good way to ease into the US. Upon entering the lobby, odors and décor reminded me of Asia. Sure, we are in Latin America, but the hotel is Asian-owned. The ambiance and service are unlike that found in American chains. This is also obvious in the restaurants; the staff might be Latin, but the menu is Asian-inspired. It is one of the few hotels not offer spaghetti! The food is rather good, which is a compliment from someone used to European cuisine and critical of what’s on offer in this country.
Our room looks out on Biscayne Bay, Brickell, and a portion of the Miami skyline. I am reminded (only slightly) of Hong Kong, of course without the Chinese or the harbor hustle and bustle. We can see the apartment building where Number One Son lived for one year, before pursuing his aviation career. We can also see Jade, an up-market
condominium building, which featured in my novel, Righteous Revenge. I got the idea of using this location from visiting him.
We managed to stay awake until almost 9 o’clock, when jet lag and unappealing television offer overcame best intentions…
It's the time of month that all (well, some...maybe) have been waiting for...even if it is a few days early. It's because of what I wrote below.
Once again, I remembered promising to make this a regular monthly feature. For new readers, with enough time to waste on this tosh, I will repeat my earlier explanation of this post. Despite of my disdain for horoscopes, I do recognize the creative talent needed to write such nonsense. Several years ago, I received a copy of the definitivehoroscope. I think this was written by some clever New York advertising copywriter or team of writers. It is definitely irreverent and ironical, but does contain a glimmer of truth (whatever that is). Each should be able to recognize one or the other personal trait or something irritating in someone you know. Horoscopes and alchemy are similar: each "science" tries to produce something of value from nothing. Alchemy has been debunked, but horoscopes continue to thrive. A clever use of words can manipulate the hopes and emotions of certain gullible people. (Where have we heard that before? It seems to be a common thread in thoughts about human beings.) Like robots, all humans are programmed to act in certain ways...which clever horoscope creators have picked up on.
You are sympathetic and understanding to other's problems. They think you are a sucker. You are always putting things off. That's why you'll always be on welfare and never worth a shit.
I spent years traveling the world. My rut was a seemingly endless swirl of airports, airplanes, taxis, hotels, and meeting rooms. Lately, I have been in a very different, less-acitve rut. I enjoy a comfortable life, doing whatever I want on most day...unless my family places demands on my time.
Comfortable routines are not easy to break. It takes desire, work...and demands from another person. One worries about how days will be spend. What should one pack? Will I find food that I like (besides ice cream)? Will the trip be great or horrible? Of course, that's before all the worries kick in about getting there, surviving the indignities of airports, renting cars, finding hotels, etc.
We are off to Florida for 4 weeks. The trip started as a two-week trip, and then my wife decided that this was not enough. Not wanting to stay so long in a hotel, we searched for a condominium on a nice beach. Miami's South Beach is okay, but not for too long. It turned out that minimum rental is two weeks...so that explains it. I will have to find ways to fill the day, but will have plenty of time to read, think, and write. We will take in movies, if anything seems appealing (it is a good way to get out of the mid-day heat). We will surely spend time in those museums of contemporary life, aka shopping malls.
The view out the window, whether it be Miami or up the coast, will be different, and the weather should be better (although Germany is competing with Florida temperatures at the moment).
This blog will become--in addition to its usual mixture of rants, worthless commentary, and foolish photos--a travel report. Whenever it moves me, I will pass on observations, opinions, and photos about things I see and do. It will not all be negative...
It is inaccurate to say I hate everything.
I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.
Hypocrite of the Day Award goes to the latest Republican dreamer to enter the presidential mudfight. This "lady"--being charitable--seems to be the leading contender of the so-called Tea Party. These are the folks that want less government and fewer handouts.
Of course, madame wants to hide the fact that her family collects hundreds of thousands of dollars in farm subsidies--from whom?--the US Government. I guess government handouts are acceptable to these people, as long as they go to family members or to the rich. Average citizens, stupid enough to support such politicians, would not be entitled to much under their rule.
You can fool some of the people all the time...
For the good of the country” and “for national security” are too often used
to cover up incompetence, misdeeds, and outright crime.
I read today that the US government is spending $20 billion per year on air conditioning in Afghanistan. $20 billion!! (That deserves an extra exclamation point).
No wonder the bad guys--whoever they might be--are preventing the US military from "winning", however politicians want to define that. They don't have air-conditioned caves, dugouts, or hovels; they don't need luxuries to fight a war.
No combat is fun or easy. Afghan fighters are defending tribal territory, perhaps with some help; US soldiers want a soft life and all the amenities of home.
I seem to recall that the US were defeated and humbled by little Asian men in black pajamas and tire-soled sandals, who survived on a handful of rice and wet spot in a tunnel. Only the Air Force and headquarters had air-conditioning, but the rest of us had plenty of comforts and ate rather well. Americans take "home" with them to war; the other guys survive on what they are used to...which is considerably less.
Of course, no American soldier would put up with local conditions, so the government would be unable to wage these unpopular wars. Fortunately for them, no politician would dare to suggest cutting military spending.
I thought of Vietnam as a comfortable war, but it seems that life at the front has improved...
For all of those focussed on the big-ticket items in sport, you are missing something worthwhile.
Believe it or not, I like women's soccer/football. The topnotch teams play a version of the game that resembles what I used to play. It lacks the physical brutally, which now dominates the men's game. It is a purer form of the sport.
The World Cup competition for women has started in Germany and will run for weeks. The German team have won the last three titles, adding another facet of hate to an already disliked nation. These girls do not deserve the scorn; they earned those titles through skill, hard work, and dogged determination.
The latest German team won their first match against Canada. The score was 2-1, but should have been higher. These girls are good.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.