Archive for September, 2007

Busy weekend, so here is something I wrote on the train

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

Wedding showers, baby showers and a Saturday with my daughter, alone, for the day today in downtown Seattle…

But as I was organizing receipts and stuff, I found this that I wrote on the train, so I thought I’d paste it in. I was exhausted and bored, so take it with a grain of salt, but I decided to keep it “raw” and not read it before I posted it.

Notes on a train…

 

First, it’s that first class pays for itself just with the electrical outlets. Computer AND cell phone are chartging  just fine, thank you very much. I think I paid something like 50  extra bucks for the First Class pass.

 

Second, I don’t know how the hell to get where I’m going. I kind of know how to get near it, I think, but I forgot to double check it with an e-mail before the weekend. I am completely and totally riding the rails blind, since none of the info offices were open on a Sunday morning.

 

Third, in the daylight I am reminded how awesomely beautiful Southwest England is even from a train. My travels here previously have been spotty, and they all involved work or super intense work “missions.” This weekend has been really nice as a “holiday.”

 

But here is the funniest thing. I keep riding the trains and no one has touched my Brit Rail pass to mark that I have used one of my four days! It’s getting kind of hilarious.  I am suppose to have four days between now and  5/3/08. That’s it. Ummm…it’s the gift that keeps on giving and I probably just jinxed it. [NOTE LATER: If anyone is going to England between now and then I'd be happy to give you a BritRail pass with THREE DAYS LEFT! I only got knicked on the last day on my last ride from Paddington to Heathrow.]

 

The CD drive showed signs of life today. It actually was reading the movie and acting normal, other than the fact it won’t open. But that’s good! It means the drive itself isn’t what’s messed up, it’s the housing thingy. (See, I am a real tech.)

 

On my train there is a really cool “Private” car next to first class. I am so curious I could burst. There is a security guy out front of the entrance who says he can’t say who’s the owner of the car. Everything looking in is blacked out, but when I got out to stretch, it looked pretty damn fancy. The nice thing is that you can’t get from coach to first without going around it at a stop. So breakfast on the train had about, oh, 10 people lined up.

 

Some of which is a band that seems to be famous because of the treatment, but I haven’t a clue. They don’t have the private car, but they are getting fawned over.

 

I sit and listen to my own play list and don’t ask questions.

 

We just crossed the Tamar River. Or River Tamar, whatever. It runs into the English Channel through Plymouth.

 

Now we head into Dartmoor National Park for the final push to where I get off this train, Exeter.Then I take a bus to another train station, I think, and then catch a local line to my destination. Then, I guess I just pay for a cab. It is still unclear.

 

[NOTE LATER: It wasn't a "band" per se when I got off, it was just a bunch of British music and TV executives. And I did get a cab in Yeovil.]

Checking in at the airport will never be the same

Monday, September 24th, 2007

I just checked in for my flight tomorrow online.

Since I am not checking baggage I just go to a kiosk and print out the boarding pass. I have my seat and the time reconfirmed.

Now I digress…

There is an artical in today’s paper that the average person in London shows up a on a surveillance camera every eight seconds! Wow! If you are in the public, about 7.5 times a minute, someone is taking your picture. That just blows my mind.

I can’t check into the next place until 5 p.m. so I am just wasting time after seeing the museums I wanted to see today. Tomorrow, there is one place I really want to go in the morning, a gallery I can’t remember the name of, of course. The big art museums are nifty…but some of the most interesting stuff is in galleries, bank on it.

MSN

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Hello Eric, Your e-mail has been forwarded to Windows Live ID Technical Support. My name is Mary Grace, and I would like to apologize first for the delay in answering your e-mail. I understand that you are unable to sign in to your Windows Live ID, elemay1@msn.com, since your password is not working anymore. Unfortunately, you could not able to use your secret question in order to retrieve it. I can imagine how inconvenient this can be for you, but I am pleased to assist you in getting back to your account. I have checked your Windows Live ID, elemay1@msn.com, and found that you have an active subscription with one of the services of Windows Live. You can reset your password by contacting our Billing Support Team at (800) 491-0118. Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday 08:00 to 18:00 Pacific Time (UTC-8)Saturday and Sunday Closed We appreciate your continued support as we strive to provide you with the highest quality service available. Thank you for using Windows Live ID. Sincerely, Mary Grace C.

Windows Live ID Technical Support


Dear Mary Grace C. and Microsoft

An 800-number doesn’t help me very much in the UK and I am actually sick of trying to solve this here and spending anymore time on your screwed up system. Talk about getting shafted at the wrong time. Everything about everything is connected to that account, which is my fault, but to not have you make a simple phone call to the local, LOCAL!, number I provided to help me fix this is silliness. You expect me to pay three dollars a minute to sit on hold? Noooooooooooooway that is going to happen.

Eric

Hello Eric,

Thank you for writing back to Windows Live ID Technical Support. This is Olive and I understand that <PROBLEM STATEMENT>. I know how important it is to resolve this issue and I am here to provide you with the necessary assistance.

Currently, Windows Live ID only provides e-mail support to help our customers. We believe that to best serve the needs of all our members, our support system should be universally available through e-mail.

I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience, but in order to properly address your issue you will need to contact our Billing Support Team for they will be able to appropriately assist you on this matter. For your convenience, I have provided below the support page and telephone number where you can contact them.
 
Support Page – http://www.qwest.com/customerService/

Telephone Number – (800) 491-0118

We appreciate your continued support as we strive to provide you with the highest quality service available. Thank you for using Windows Live ID.

Sincerely,

Olive
Windows Live ID Technical Support

Terrible first thought

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

But I swear when I heard Marcel Merceau died, this was my thought…

“If a mime dies in the forest, does he make any sounds?”

I even got to thinking about whether people take a seriously choking mime seriously.

Oh, my friends, it got worse…

Do they bury him in a real box? Do they wipe the white paint off his face? And at the eulogy, do they say his voice was already silencd from an early age?

ka-CHING

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

I’m in awe of the fact how little reporting in the US news media is being done on the bottom falling out of the US dollar. The Euro and Pound both have gone up about 10 percent since Friday and my stupid American money just gets worth less and less. While most of the United States is doing the weekend-thing, markets around the world are dropping the dollar and buying gold.

Let’s put this in Eric perspective…last week, when I got here, I paid three pounds for a pint of Extra Cold Guinness; that pint cost about six dollars US. Today, as I sit and drink a pint that cost the exact same thing, it’s about $6.80. I know, it doesn’t sound like much but, think about what the hotel costs are in US bucks. You can not find a room for less than 90 quid right now. That’s about $180 a week ago. Today, it’s about $204.  Granted, these are the “retail” rates, not the official rates, but the world is devaluing the dollar. A friend and I figured that the dollar lost 10 percent against the Euro at the exchange kisoks while we were sleeping last night!

People: The dollar is freefalling and no one is really noticing in the US. At least major news organizations. Maybe I’m wrong, and just not reading the right stuff online. I aologize if that’s the case and I eat my hat.

It’s 5 am here…do you know where tech support is?

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

I have spent more money trying to figure out how to get my e-mail to work than I pay for the damned e-mail. Grrrrrrrrrrr. I’m pretty pissy right now, to say the least.

Up and Down Over and Out, but I know one thing…

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

I’m beat after a week in the UK…

I’ll write more later, God knows how much there is to tell. But honest to God, no lie, I am in London and this is the first internet access I have had since I arrive last week. Loooooooooooooooooooooong story, but if there is an EBF in Northern Europe, I just endured it.

And now, MSN-Hotmail has decided it doesn’t like the UK me from an unsecured wireless network. So I am stil kind of stuck. To get to mt T-Mobile account, I need a username and password to get onto the wireless. But to get that, I need access to my MSN-hotmail. But to get on my Hotmail…well, you get the picture. So I am relegated to roaming London and every once in a while turning on the computer (you know, at lunch and for a beer or something) and seeing if I can bum a ride off an unsecure network. I believe this is what Jack Kerouac would have done.

I am currently sitting in a pub across from speaker’s corner in Hyde Park. I can even here them yelling and cheering.

And I’m blogging.

It’s a funny world.

More later for sure…

A good ol’ fashion bank run

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

Have you ever seen “It’s a Wonderful Life“? Remember the scene where George Bailey tries to explain to everyone on a personal scale that there is no need for them to cash out?

A real life version is happening in the UK. Northern Rock, one of the region’s largest banks is getting run over by people wanting all their money. Because Northern Rock asked for help from the Central Bank in the form of credit, BOOM! everybody wanted their money.

There is no George Bailey to explain to them what’s really going on and that there is no need to panic. Instead, the bank went defensive and just made the staffing so week that they couldn’t process the hundreds of people fast enough, which made them look even weaker.

It was an interesting strategy that seems to have backfired. They just made one teller at each branch and let the lines stack up, while other employees scoured the long lines explaining there was nothing to panic about. But they were no Bailey Savings and Loan. Not a good plan for looking stable. Now people are mad and wanting their money after spending up to 12 hours in line. The bank gets today off, Sunday, but I have a feeling that on Monday it’s toast.

Here’s the biggest problem…no matter how much you have in savings at Northern Rock, the most you can get is about $60,000 in federal insurance. So everyone with more than that in savings want their money and they want it NOW!

I have never watched a bank run in real life. It has to be the worse possible scenerio for a bank, and of course, that’s an understatement. They are talking about it on the BBC news this morning and the word “panic” comes up a lot.

 Panic, frenzy, hysteria…whatever you want to call it. I have just never witnessed a run.

Wow.

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

I was in the living room of the B&B tonight and met a couple in their 80s who lived in Coventry during the war.

Two hours of what the night of Nov. 14, 1940 was like as the Germans bombed Coventry. Amazing. It was like sitting and watching a documentary.

They fucked the hell out of Coventry on one night. The then girl, hid under a staircase for the next three days, the boy hid in a cellar. But they both described the glow all around as the city burned. And they can tell you it was the 14 of November of 1940.

And then they talked about April 8, 1941, and sounded like this had longing for it being called something. They went on for two hours talking about the bombings of Coventry.

Very cool. I could be at a pub or something on a Saturday night, or I could be read to see the sights tomorrow…but my coolest thing is a couple of old people chatting over tea.

I’m not much of a birdwatcher

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

But that’s what I did today. I took a couple of plain on rides on the coast that go slow and you can find lots of beach and birds.

It was only a short trip, and I wish I had a camera.

Lots of stuff common back home on the beach at Ocean Shores. There were egrets, hawks, herons, etc; and a lot of ducks.

But walking on the beach, the two birds that caught my attention as “cool” were the “oystercatchers” and “curlews.” I’ve probably seen them before, but not by the thousands and thousands. Maybe there were hundreds of thousands.

It was a nice morning trip, and it was short enough that the conductor on the train agreed to not ding my BritRail pass for a day because of it, or charge me anything since there was no first class. I was back in Penzance by noon.

Ate lunch, and then shopped. Well, I was doing all the sightseeing stuff, but there are all these end of the season sales in the main shopping district. The problem is that I couldn’t figure out what was a good deal, so I didn’t buy anything. See, I’m a guy and it’s just not a sixth sense in my DNA. I think I missed a major bargain on some sandals, but I already have better ones. I also do not have a clearly Penzance souvenir and time is short.

Tomorrow morning I go from here to Essex and then on the the town closest to my hotel for the conference. This B&B rocks because it’s about 250 feet to the train.

Tonight’s dinner will be Cornish game hen! Pub style. Found the place this afternoon and in 10 minutes they start  serving them. I’m not big on chicken, but when in the heart of Cornwall, do as the Cornish do!