Monday, June 27, 2005 2:08 PM
part 14

Between the airport and the hotel in Virginia was a sign that said "Big Bethel Road". I wonder if it's something like a "Whole Lotta Rosie".

We visited a restaurant that had "appetisers" which contained more food that I'd eaten during the previous several days. It's no wonder that people are obese in this country.

Near the hotel is undeveloped land. It seems to be a favourite place for fireflies, a large number of which were flying up and down. They began by dropping while dark, then lighting up and flying up, then dropping again while dark. They looked like little rockets on the way up.

More travel, more aeroplane experiences. One needs identification to get on the plane. In the time between the checkpoint and take-off, someone managed to lose her identification. How?! The same passenger was seen later wearing a tiara. This explains much.

Philadelphia airport has white wooden rocking chairs instead of the benches or flat seats that exist in some other airports. They're not especially comfortable, but they look nice.

The airport has a food place called "chao". Assuming that it's a person's name, perhaps the owner avoided the possessive term (despite the apostrophe) because it would look like "chaos". I suppose that the name is meant to be pronounced "chow" as in food.

Another visit to Seattle involved the usual hotel without a reservation for me. So far, there has never been a problem to find a room, so I've been lucky in that respect. Of course, I managed to lock myself out of room at one point. It's become a tradition, after all.

At the last Microsoft conference, the "food" for us was a boxed lunch, while the food for the attendees of a different conference was a cooked breakfast, three course lunch, with snacks that include sushi, and there was a barista making coffee. This time, perhaps an indication of a shift in the budget, the catering was reversed, and the food for us was higher quality, while the food for the attendees of a different conference was the boxed lunch.

In Iceland, the water smells of sulphur. In Los Angeles, it smells of chlorine. I don't know which is worse.

More funny signs:

"cross traffic ahead" (damn cars!)

"yield to pedestrian when flashing" (flashing pedestrians? Only in LA)

"accessible entrance", as opposed to inaccessible entrance.

Ling-Li and I went to see Mars when it was visible from Los Angeles. The observatory is quite a long distance, and since the planet was visible only at night, we waited until nearly 10pm to go, hoping that the crowds would be smaller... and while they might have been smaller, they were by no means small. It was worse than being caught on Laugavegur in Iceland on December 23rd (Christmas Eve Eve). When we arrived, there were so many people that there was no way to identify which queue was for which telescope. During the first couple of hours that we were there, the queues hardly, and I was ready to leave. Ling-Li wanted to stay, "just in case", which turned out to be exactly the right move. Sure enough, as the 1am closing time approached, suddenly the crowds thinned greatly, as enormous numbers of people decided that they wouldn't manage to reach a telescope, and went home. With minutes to spare, we reached the largest of the telescopes, and the owner was sitting next to it. Upon seeing that no-one remained besides us, he was happy to talk about the telescope, interesting features to see on the Mars surface, etc.

At half-past midnight, my phone rang. Another computer virus outbreak? No, "Hi, this is ____. Can I use your parking space? Someone has parked in mine". He might have had more to say, but I'd hung up at that point. If you buy a car that's so expensive that you can't park it in the street... don't involve me.

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