This entry is dedicated to…
Jas, who succeeded in the improbable
Corgee & PG, to whom I am grateful for trying

I've been making plans - plans to see friends and acquintances in Europe. They've had a tendancy to fall through, though; I was unable to meet up with both Corgee and PG. With half of my plans sinking, ablaze, into the harbour, I was glad to have another chance.

Jasmine had been in Jordan for six weeks at an archaeological dig, excavating an iron-age house. Having carefully (and, sometimes, not so carefully) removed tons of enshrouding sand, she'd found a few whole figurines (heads alone is the norm) and shards of pottery. That meant it was time to head back to the States… through London.

My sleep schedule is now ~11PM-~7:30AM, so I wake up without needing an alarm, have a good shower, a bowl of cereal (I have groceries!), and leave the house in plenty of time. I understand that it's chic to have a little sign at the airport so the person you're meeting knows who you are, and vica versa. Figuring that Jasmine may have forgotten that I'm tall-skinny-bearded-Jesus-backpack-wearing-long-haired, I decide to make a sign of my own.

Which is when all that extra time that I had had evaporated. I find myself sitting on the concrete steps of a stationary shop at the top of Blackboy Hill, waiting thirty minutes for them to open. Finally, a frail stationary stationaree opens the door and I, embodying a tornado, find what I needed.

Remembering the incident with the bus, I decide to try the intra-city train, only to find that I'll have to wait another half-hour. As I leave in disgust, the woman by the time table tells me it's "quite a long ways" to the train depot; I reply that I walk "quite quickly". A half-hour later, I'm churning into the depot under my own power. Take that, lady.
And, an hour and a half after that, I'm in London. But the journey's not over! There's still an hour-long trip on the Underground to go. But this is not a problem: I read the poetry. I figure that any sufficiently advanced civilization or culture will, eventually, invent public transit poetry: Juneau did, London has. Sadly, Minneapolis and many other places have yet to reach this stage, preferring instead to dwell in the fetid backwaters of cultural cess-pools.
There are also handy signs reminding people to drink water when it's hot. I've heard that for most people the thirst sensation is so weak its oft mistaken for hunger, but this advice stills seems odd, especially in light of the 300% mark-ups the water sells for in the Underground stations. Still, it's nice to see that a little less than half of my car's advertising panels seem to be public information of some sort.

I arrive at the airport and find scads 'n' scads of people. Everywhere. All holding little signs.

It's as if there's some sort of secret SignPolice patrolling the airport, restricting the size of signs. And, you know, I don't like it. When I tell someone I'll meet them at the airport, that I have a sign, so they can't miss me… well, that's what I mean.

I don't mean to say, "Don't worry, I'll be one of thousands of anonymous faces with itty-bitty signs that you'll have to search through for hours hoping you'll find me."; in fact, this is almost the opposite of what I mean.

That's why I made my own sign.

Incidentally, Jasmine landed at a different terminal and so ends up finding me using the tsbJbwlh-approach instead. She's brought a friend with and, since we're were in England, we decide to use her three-ish hour lay-over to get fish and chips.

Now, you may believe, dear Reader, that Fish & Chips grow on trees in England. But they don't, they grow in oceans and gardens.   Remember that.   In order to get our Fish & Chips, we have to leave the airport. This isn't easy, a taxi to central London (where we very much believe Fish & Chips can be found) is 88GBP and the Underground takes an hour to get there. We opt to take the bus to a place known only as… Richmond.

After an hour of the bus plunging directionlessly down little lanes, we arrive at a beautiful bridge over a beautiful river by umpteen-million beautiful Fish & Chips shops. This is exactly when it is revealed that Jasmine's friend's credit-card doesn't work and needs fixing: the goal of securing the friend's financial welfare exists is mutually exclusive with the "eating beautiful Fish & Chips" goal. We decide to pursue the former, because that's what friends are for: money problems, not fish problems.

This ends up taking a lot of time. Emotions run high. When we finally do solve the problem, the friend is tired and hops on the Underground to go find her hostel: Jasmine and I are left with five minutes to get our F&C and find a bus.

The F&C is secured at a little shop in a littler alley: the chips doused with vinegar and salt, the fish hot and steamy. Taking these in our hands, we run after the bus and miss it, which isn't good. Jasmine and I stand there, eating ice cream bars I've bought, and trying to flag down taxis who ignore us. I paint "Heathrow, 10GBP" on the back of my sign and we desparately try to sell ourselves, but to no avail. The plane will leave in 45 minutes.

The bus comes and, as it meanders its way towards the airport, Jasmine and I catch up on the last year in each other's lives. Jasmine explains how, after learning she was going to the wrong terminal, she prayed she'd find me. We arrive at the airport fifteen minutes before departure and run to the ticket machine, which whirrs before telling us that we're too late. At that moment, the garbled voice of God (who turns out to be an airline employee) booms, "You must check through security at least 35 minutes prior to departure."

Undaunted, we find a ticket-lady who tells us the plane's been delayed by an hour and a half; Jasmine had also prayed she'd make her flight home.

As she gets on the plane to take her six hour flight to Chicago, I head to the Underground to begin my own three hour journey home. Whilst leaving I notice that the airport here is much brighter and prettier than when I was first here.

Getting off the Underground, I walk towards Paddington Station (reminding me of the bear)…


Yagi Antennas

On the way I pass a sea of Yagi antennas. Either public TV is popular, or cable and satellite haven't penetrated the market yet. Looking at the antennas, I'm reminded that London's response time for locating and disabling pirate signals is less than fifteen minutes (prompting pirates to use remote or automated operation). I glance around nervously, prepared for a descent which never comes.

Then it's time to head into Paddington Station and catch the train out (which leaves on time).



Check if this is a private message just for Richard:


Kelli - Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 06:27:31 (PDT)
Oh my gosh, I'm so jealous. I would have flown to England just to participate in such an escapade! :)

BW - Saturday, July 18, 2009 at 11:47:31 (PDT)
I thought that your sign would have said "ANWR"! Anyway, your sign-making skills are quite terrific.

Mom - Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 09:30:14 (PDT)
Great that you two could meet up--what world travelers you are! But I'm sure Jasmine wouldn't have needed a sign to recognize you.

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