Sunday, July 31, 2011

Warsaw -- the Tour Begins

Not entirely sure why I’m so tired, as I’ve actually been sleeping quite satisfactorily. OK, sure, I did wake up around 3:15 this morning with a headache, but I was back to sleep soon after I tossed back an Advil or two. (I was actually pleased when I saw the clock said 3:15, as I was pretty energized then, and I figured I had several more hours of sleep coming to me.)

We had a tour of Warsaw today. This was the first tour from our tour company, and, actually, I think the tour guide we had today was not as good as Rafal was yesterday. (Our tour company supplies different local guides on the ground in each city. Our tour director seems pretty good. The local Warsaw guide is a moron.)

No, “moron” is much too strong of a word. (On second thought... the fact that she twice tried to count the group, to see if we all (41) were there, and each time gave up because she couldn’t count that high … yeah, maybe “moron” is appropriate.) She told us much of the same history of Warsaw as Rafal told us, but she was very disorganized and didn’t paint it as clearly. (One particular story was told to us in three separate chunks, as she twice had to stop to tell us something else, and didn’t quickly return to the topic.)

The tour company also gave us great little “whisper” devices, so we could listen to her without standing directly in front of her. She had a microphone and we had little receiver packs and earpieces – so not only could we wander around (the range on ‘em was more than 50 yards), but she didn’t have to raise her voice. Great invention for tours. The downside was that she had no freakin’ clue how to use it. She’d often be looking up at a tall building while describing it – which put her voice right out of range of her microphone. She also wasn’t really on top of the whole idea of her tourists wandering. She’d say something like, “Over here is …” or “let’s walk this way,” without realizing that half of us might be looking at something else and (since we’re listening to her over the device, rather than out loud) have no idea where “here” is. So, yeah, great toy, but she really didn’t take advantage.

Fun that I could keep listening to her ramble on even when I was in the bathroom – and that was a whole floor away.

She was older than Rafal, so totally grew up during Communism. And she confirmed the bit about how the Communists never really taught the true history of Poland. “The Nazis killed the people and the Communists killed their memory,” she said. Very sad. (She did not make the same linguistic error Rafal had – she totally spoke about Polish Jews – but candidly admitted that, until 1968 (when the Communists tried to expel all the Jews from Poland), she didn’t really know any Jews, or have a solid grasp on what a Jew was.)

Sights today consisted partly of Things Warsaw Is Proud Of (the Chopin statue; the largely recreated Old Town; the Warsaw Uprising Memorial statue) and partly of WWII/Warsaw Ghetto/Jewish history things (the Jewish cemetery; the mark on the ground where the wall around the ghetto used to stand; the memorial marking the departure point for where Jews were transported from the ghetto to Treblinka). I suppose the memorial dedicated to the Ghetto Uprising falls in both categories. That was quite impressive – it was made of stone that the Nazis had imported into Warsaw in order to build a victory monument; a few years later, the people turned it around and built a monument which, on one side, honors those who fought in the ghetto uprising and, on the other, serves as a memorial to those who suffered and died there.

What’s really interesting about the whole of Warsaw is that World War II is more immediate here. This makes sense – so much actually happened here, and the City suffered so much from the destruction wreaked by the Nazis – it can’t be easily forgotten or put aside. At the same time, it was only when the Poles got out from under Soviet control that they could really teach and learn about the truth of what happened – so, in that sense, remembering the war is even more immediate because the people are only recently being allowed to do that.

I have pictures of most of the sights I talked about – but I haven’t the time (or speedy connection) to resize and post them. We had a three(ish) hour break after the tour – my sister and I spent most of it having lunch and hunting down (on the web) the story of a dude with our last name who had been buried in the Jewish cemetery here. I was planning to spend the rest of it aimlessly wandering around Warsaw (OK, not ENTIRELY aimlessly – I got bit by mosquitos in the cemetery, so wanted to hunt down some cream to make the bites stop itching) but it started raining torrentially, so I came in and wrote up this post instead. I’ve got just enough time left to run downstairs and post it before I have to change clothes and get back on the bus for our Chopin concert tonight.

Early start tomorrow – we’re back on the bus for the drive to Krakow.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Warsaw -- the Day Before the Tour

(Man, I'm tired.  Probably has something to do with going off on a tour at 9:00 a.m.  I'm not ready for 9:00 a.m. Pacific time, much less Central European.)

Because we have a traditional tour of Warsaw tomorrow, I booked us a more "off the beaten path" tour.  In fact, that's what they call it:  Adventure Warsaw does an "Off the Beaten Path" trip.  We didn’t exactly do that tour – my folks were with me and there was no way that they were going to climb in and out of the old-school Communist-era van. Instead, the company set up their “private angel” tour for us, which covered everything on the “Off the Beaten Path” tour (except the lunch, the vodka, and the van) from the convenience of a Honda Civic. And we got the guide all to ourselves (which meant that, when my father needed to stop in a pharmacy to pick up a band-aid, we had our very own translator at the ready). (Actually, they needed two translators – our guide was going from Polish to English, and I was going from English to American, as my parents were asking for a “bandage,” when what they really wanted was a “plaster.”)

The tour was very interesting, and it was supported by a couple of interesting visual aids – an aerial view of Warsaw before WWII, and a view of it after. The guide had said that 85% of Warsaw had been destroyed (between the German invasion, the ghetto uprising, and the Warsaw Uprising), and the pictures certainly supported this. Where once there had stood a lovely European city, there was mostly rubble. Which ended up clearing the way for the subsequent Communist government to build all sorts of communist buildings. The result is – as I’d remarked last night – the occasional really gorgeous old-school building, some less well-preserved buildings (some heavily marked by gunfire), many ugly communist-style buildings of the 1950s (often with “People’s” or “Workers’” in the title) some restorations and the rare piece of shiny (often glass) new architecture.

Our guide, Rafal, really knew his stuff, and was pretty accommodating in terms of showing us whatever we wanted to see. But the one thing that sorta weirded me out was that he – in what seemed to be a totally natural manner – talked about “Jews” and “Poles” as two mutually exclusive categories. Don’t get me wrong; Rafal went out of his way to distance himself from any anti-Semetic thoughts, and seemed disappointed that there’s still a lot of distrust between Jews and Poles – but that’s the way he put it, "Jews" and "Poles," as though there are no Polish Jews.

Well, to be sure, they were damn near wiped out in the Second World War (Pre-war, Warsaw had 450 synogogues; now, it has 1) – but he used the Jew/Pole distinction even when he was talking about the pre-war time period, when there definitely were Polish Jews. He spoke of how some of the Poles helped the Jews, especially with hiding Jewish children with Polish families – and while I found that to be a genuinely cool thing, I still sorta cringed inwardly about the language. It probably would not have been difficult (or inaccurate) to have said that there were Catholics in Poland who helped the Jews, but that’s just not the way Rafal has been wired to think. Interesting.

Perhaps the most interesting thing he said, though, is something that he used to pretty much open the trip: he is a member of the first generation in 200 years that isn’t fighting against someone – whether it was Russians, Germans, or a puppet Communist government – Poles haven’t been entirely free to develop their own national identity (and the course of their country) for centuries, and the current generation is really just starting. Communism fell in 1989. To put this in personal perspective, I was in Law School in 1989. I like to think I’ve accomplished a reasonable amount of stuff since then, but I honestly can’t expect an entire nation to have come into its own in that period.

Which is why I ultimately cut Rafal some slack on the Jew/Pole thing. Because, as he pointed out, he had to learn a lot of the real history of Warsaw himself – because schools weren’t allowed to teach the truth about the Warsaw Uprising when the Soviets were pulling the strings.  I was pretty much dealing with a guy who represents the future of Warsaw. Hell, he started his own tour business (and ended up very highly rated at TripAdvisor), teaching the history that he wasn’t taught, and showing visitors the story of the city through its architecture. He’s honest about the problems facing a work force emerging from a communist system (in which everyone had a job, but few people actually worked), and he, for one, seems to have grabbed onto capitalism with a pretty firm grip. Overall, I was impressed by him, and figured that the city has a real shot if the rest of his generation is a lot like him.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Hello from Warsaw!

More precisely, from my hotel lobby.  High speed internet is something crazy like $50/day here, but they've got (not particularly speedy) free wi-fi in the lobby.  I anticipate spending my evenings (and possibly mornings) right here in this chair.  (And you may not get Poland pictures until the next city, as I'm told we have free high-speed there.)

After exchanging a few text messsages with my sister, who had just arrived at Heathrow from New York, we managed to meet up with her (in one of the many little airport restaurants) before heading off to Warsaw.  My folks, who have taken this particular tour before, have an opinion of Poland which, er, suggests there might be a basis in fact to all of those Polish jokes we used to laugh at in Elementary school.  So, when our flight was twenty minutes late, my folks exchanged a glance and said "Poland" -- as if that explained it all.

(Can't say I've experienced much that gives credence to that stereotype -- with the possible exception of the safe in my hotel room, which is located on a shelf at the tippy top of my closet.  I can barely reach it when I stand on the edge of the closet itself, and I have no way of looking inside it (to make sure I didn't leave anything) without bringing a chair over and standing on it.  There is a very long shoehorn sitting on the closet shelf beside the safe -- it may well have been provided so you can sweep your stuff out of the back of the safe.)

So, we made it to Warsaw (Chopin Airport), cleared passport control, were safely reunited with our luggage (hooray!), found an ATM, found our ride to the hotel, and checked in.  With the time we killed at Heathrow, the time we spent in flight (and waiting to take off), and the one hour time change, it was pushing 7:00 by the time we got to our rooms.

My sister (who, as previously mentioned, was still pretty much in transit from New York) was wiped out, so she just crashed, leaving me and my folks to dinner.  We took a little stroll down the "old" part of the city, had dinner at a little outdoor cafe (which conveniently offered English translations in its menus), and ... that's about it.  Our waitress spoke English, which was a definite plus.  She said she didn't speak it very well, but considering that it would take me a week or so to learn how to say "I don't speak Polish very well" in Polish, we were all pretty impressed.

We also felt crazy ignorant.  My folks made conversation with her, asking what she'd studied at university (besides English).  She said she'd studied Polish literature, so my mother asked who some famous Polish authors were we might have heard of.  She started off with a Polish poet.  When we gave her blank stares, she said, "She won Nobel Prize."  This didn't make our stares any less blank, though -- just made us think, "yeah, perhaps we should have at least recognized the name."  She went through about a half dozen other Polish writers, and couldn't get a glimmer of recognition with any of them.  In what was clearly (if you'll forgive the pun) a Hail Mary pass, she suggested John Paul II, pointing out that he wrote some books (as well as, you know, being Pope).  It was a stretch, granted, but we were all able to say, "Oh yes!  Of course!" so that we didn't look like complete idiots.

Initial impressions of Warsaw:  Looks like Europe.  (Yes, I know.)  But, I mean, it has that same old-buildings-next-to-new-buildings thing which you don't get in America because we don't have buildings that are hundreds of years old.  (Although, the Nazis burned the hell out of the place, so a lot of the buildings that look hundreds of years old are simply recreations.)  Also:  they've got that whole former Soviet oppression thing going on (remember Solidarity and all that?) so there are relics of former Soviet domination scattered about.

It is (I think) Friday night.  Walking back from the restaurant, we walked through an open plaza or square, where some woman was playing the fiddle and (a little further down) some dude was dancing with fire.  The hotel itself is located next to the Presidential Palace.  This afternoon, we passed some guy exercising the equivalent of his First Amendment rights in front of a small gathering.  (We asked our hotel doorman what he was saying; doorman said, "He's talking politics.")  This evening, there was a (slightly larger) gathering in front of the Presidential Palace, apparently mourning the previous President's death.  (That's what we think, anyway.  We didn't understand a word they were saying, but there were Polish flags, people speaking ritualized speech, and I saw someone holding a rosary -- so it's a reasonable guess.)

Our official tour doesn't begin until tomorrow night; our unofficial tour commences tomorrow morning (when some highly-rated dude on TripAdvisor is giving us a tour of "the real Warsaw.")

Thursday, July 28, 2011


What was I saying about how I'm pleasantly surprised when things work the way they're supposed to?  Yeah, got a voice mail message (at, I don't know, a dollar a second) which needed an immediate response.  Twenty minutes of dicking around with the phone, my MagicJack, and various cables ... the phone call is unmade and I owe the hotel an apology.  Honestly, though, the MagicJack was behaving and it was a (rare?) case of Problem Existing Between Keyboard and Chair.  Part of me actually thought, "You know, if I had my screwdriver kit here, I could fix this."  Conveniently, the absence of my fix-it kit made cooler heads prevail -- the remedy will be a very sheepish "stupid American" admission of guilt at the front desk on the way out tomorrow.  (I'm still not entirely certain HOW I managed something this stupid.  Let's just say that the next time I take a phone cable out of both the phone and the wall, I won't assume both ends are the same.  Idiot.)  Besides, I damn near knocked the very-breakable-looking lamp off the nightstand while messing around back there -- which was a clear sign I should leave everything well enough alone and let the hotel deal with my stupidity in the morning.  I tried sending an e-mail to what appears to be the contact address for the person who called me ... if that doesn't work, I'll have opportunities to (more cautiously) re-attempt the MagicJack experiment in hotel rooms across Europe.  (Hopefully not leaving a trail of broken phone lines behind me.)

ANYWAY, today was a very nice day, setting aside the Unfortunate MagicJack Incident (and my father nearly doing a header down the stairs).  After a good sleep-in and breakfast, we headed out to the RAF museum in London.  This was actually quite impressive -- lots of aircraft on display (largely WWI and WWII); a whole building devoted to the Battle of Britain; a simulator ride or two.  It was pretty cool.  Here's my folks standing in front of a, er, plane.
(Yeah, we're gonna have to have words with the automatic settings on my camera.  Dad's shirt:  yellow.  The plane:  not so much.)

THEN, after a brief stop back at the hotel, we went off to have dinner and see a musical (Sondheim's Road Show).  While I'd never seen the show before, I was actually somewhat more interested in the theatre itself -- the Menier Chocolate Factory.  It's a very small theatre (I guess it's the English equivalent of Off-Broadway) which has put together some incredibly well-received productions (which have made it across the Atlantic).  So I was pleased to finally see a show there.  Besides -- perhaps because the place really is a former chocolate factory, their restaurant did a divine warm chocolate brownie.

And that's about it for the London part of this journey -- we're catching a plane for Warsaw tomorrow morning.  (Goodbye free internet.)  (Oh.  Yay!  My email made it where it had to go.)  The adventure is about to get rather more adventurey.  For now, at least, we're accustomed to the time change, and we managed to cram two shows, a scenic walk, and a museum into a day and a half.  Not bad.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Awesome Power of the Captain America T-Shirt

Before I forget (and before it becomes no longer timely), I must take a break to discuss the Awesome Power of my Captain America T-shirt.

As you know, the movie opened with midnight screenings on Thursday night.  My local favorite theater (the Arclight) had a Members Only screening at 9:00.  I was so there.  I was so there even before I found out about the free posters for everyone and the cap/T-shirt raffle.

And when I returned from getting popcorn, I discovered that my friend and I had won a cap and T-shirt.  Cool!  She took the cap; I took the shirt.

I wore it once over the weekend and received a lot of positive feedback (and I did a lot of marketing for the movie -- you're welcome, Marvel).  I'd be in line at a store, or getting my nails done, or whatever, and I'd invariably get, "Did you see it yet?"  At first, I didn't know what they were talking about, but then realized it was the shirt.  So I'd say, "yeah" and talk up the movie.  (Because the next question would be, "Was it good?" and I'm thinking, "If it had sucked, I wouldn't be wearing the damn T-shirt.")  

The thing ... the awesome thing ... is that the T-shirt has magical mood changing powers.  Mostly for me.  Because sometimes, when you're running around trying to get stuff done (particularly when you're about to leave the country), you can get a little grumpy -- especially when there aren't enough registers open, or they're out of whatever you went there to buy.  So, here's me, ready to lay down a dose of Grumpy Customer on someone, and they say, "Did you see it yet?" and I'm immediately transformed into Happy Movie Fangirl.  (One guy even asked me to tell him about the post-credits tag scene -- I was more than happy to oblige.)

It worked so well, I wore the shirt again today (yesterday, whatever).  And it worked again.  Not only at the store where I made a last-minute adapter-plug purchase, but also at airport security.  And I was totally in Grumpy Traveller mode -- my friend who drove me to the airport lost track of time, so was nearly an hour late picking me up, and we hit a ton of traffic, and the bozo customer occupying the one check-in desk agent was on his phone and taking way too long with his transaction -- so, by the time I finally got checked-in and went upstairs to security (where I usually try to force a cheery disposition, since I know TSA people take a lot of crap and don't really need any more), so, yeah, by then, the cheery disposition was definitely a bit forced, and all of a sudden I find myself discussing the relating merits of Captain America and Harry Potter with the screeners while I'm taking my shoes off.  And it wasn't just me making nice with the people who were going to look at fuzzy(ish) pictures of what was going on under my Captain America shirt, it was 3 summer movie fans sharing a brief connection.

I hope "Cap" would be pleased.

We're Here ... Because We're Here ... Because We're Here ...

Made it.  Whew.  I'm currently in London, with my parents, on the "prologue" to what I've been calling the Central European Extravaganza.

Longtime (or, let's face it, casual) readers will know I'm kind of a fan of London.  As a vacation destination, it pretty much rocks.  We've arranged two days here before my sister meets us and we're off to Warsaw.  Plane got in around 2:00 (a few minutes early -- surprising, seeing as we took off about 30 minutes late -- I see this as just more evidence that airlines overestimate their flight times, so that they can say, "Hey, we have a 90% on time record!").  Since there were three of us, we pre-booked a transfer to London (rather than taking the train) and (also to my surprise) the car was there.  So was my text message from the car company -- which meant that (a) they are reliable; and (b) the loaner international cell phone that Verizon sent me actually works.  (Digression:  My mother's cell phone, a Droid 2 World, didn't.  We spent the ride into London on the phone (mine) to Verizon's tech support in order to make hers work.  Apparently, they activated the wrong SIM card number.  Don't ask.  But, see, when stuff like that happens so darned frequently, I'm actually quite surprised when things work the way they're supposed to.)

I'm proud of my folks (well, my mom, mostly) for how well they handled our whirlwind first day in London.  Quick stop at the hotel to change out of clothes we'd slept in (or hadn't) on the plane -- then off to the underground.  We wandered around the stalls at Covent Garden for a bit (I'd hoped to see some vendors I'd bought from last time I was here, but it's very hit and miss around there), and off to dinner.  My dad started to fade at this point -- so it was a good thing we had theatre tickets for just me and mom.  We pointed dad in the direction of a taxi, and mom and I walked to the theatre.  After that, mom was even awake enough for a walk along Waterloo Bridge.  It's one of my favorite things to do in London -- a nighttime walk across the bridge is beautiful and peaceful and centering.  For me, anyway.  I realize this may be a bit quirky of me -- I think that most people find "centering" experiences to be those in which you're out in nature -- getting away from city life, I guess.  For me, I tend to do all that touchy-feely re-finding myself in the middle of a major metropolis.  (On the plus side, it isn't my metropolis, so I guess it satisfies the whole getting-away-from-it-all requirement.)

Please forgive the rambliness,  There may (or may not) have been about 3 hours sleep somewhere over the Atlantic -- but I've been awake for quite some time and I feel the coherence slipping.  Still, both of my parents commented (with, I think, some amount of stunned appreciation) on how the hell I was so energetic after all that travelling.

To which I can only respond:  I'm in London.

Monday, July 25, 2011

In the Dark, No One Can Hear You Lick Your Plate

OK, so Groupon had a deal for Opaque, which is a restaurant where you eat totally in the dark.

Totally.  In the dark.

I'd actually been wanting to try this ever since I first read about the concept (Dans le Noir -- in London, although I think it originated in Paris).  Basically, you're in a pitch black dining room (your waitperson is blind, which helps), they plop food in front of you, and you do your best to eat it.  Dans le Noir works on a "surprise" menu basis, where you pick one of four types of food (e.g., vegetarian), tell them about your allergies, and then try to figure out what they've put on your plate.  This sounded cool to me.

Opaque follows the trend, although the menu is not a surprise.  (You choose from two or three selections for each course.  Wimps.)  It's also crazy expensive, so the Groupon seemed like a good idea.  I bought it figuring that by the time it expired, I'd be dating someone.

Yeah.  That plan went well.  It was supposed to expire last weekend and I hadn't used it yet.  I mentioned this to my new co-worker at the office, and she thought it'd be cool to go.  Offered to split the cost of the groupon with me.  This sounded like a plan.  I called Opaque to make the reservation...

... and they were sold out.  BUT, they would extend the Groupon another few days and take us the following Wednesday.  They normally aren't even open on Wednesdays, but they were opening to accommodate all of the groupons.  So, Groupon Night At Opaque it was.

Here's the thing.  Opaque is located in the back of a nightclub.  And since it's dark in there, you have no idea where you are exactly.  I couldn't shake the vibe that we were actually in some tiny little back room.  I mean, it isn't like they had to splurge on decor -- I'm not even certain the floors were anything other than unfinished cement.  Just something about the feel of the place -- it didn't feel like a nice restaurant where they'd turned out the lights; it felt like a table crammed in some anteroom between the nightclub and the kitchen.  "The ambiance was lacking" is what I'm trying to say.

So, my pal and I went to the empty nightclub (not much action on a Wednesday), sat in one of the booths, and placed our orders from the "check this box" menu.  This was phoned in to the kitchen staff in back.  Then, our waitperson was called.  She met us at the door to the dark room and escorted us (single file, hand on the shoulder of the person in front of you) through a short maze of turning corridors (to make sure no ambient light sneaked in) to our table.  Once seated, she told us what was on the table.  In this case:  tablecloth, rose petals (very tactile), a napkin with silverware rolled in it, and two little bread plates in the center of the table.

She came back with our drinks.  I'd ordered a hot tea -- it was served sorta warm in a bar glass.  (That was OK with me on both counts.)  She put the drinks down and told us where they were.

I immediately moved my drink to where I wanted it to be.  I mentioned the rearranging to the waitperson, and she approved -- apparently, you're supposed to put things where you want them, even though that will mess things up for when she has to clear the table.

They'd left the tea bag in the tea, which called for some early-stage two-handed work in the dark -- I managed to remove the bag and place it on a little plate (she'd brought a little amuse bouche with the drinks).  It felt like I didn't drip tea all over the tablecloth, so this gave me confidence.

Actually, I had quite a bit of confidence on this almost from the start.  I'd read a lot of reviews about the place before I went, and it seemed like eating dinner here was navigating a minefield.  For instance, when she gives you a basket of bread, she says there's a little dish of butter in there, and everyone apparently sticks their finger right in the butter.  Perhaps just because I'm cautious (and/or methodical), I sort of started the proceedings by patting my fingertips all around the table to map the place out in my head.  Whenever the waitperson added something, I'd feel for where it is, figure it out in relation to everything else, and work my way around the edges of the plate.  So when the bread came out, both my companion and I gingerly felt around the basket until we found the little unexploded butter mine, and worked around it.  Easy peasy.

Not so easy was figuring out where stuff was on your plate -- unless you wanted to take your fingers to it.  And, really, why not?  It isn't like anyone can see your bad table manners.  But I was determined to do that only as a last resort, so I tried feeling around with my fork and, whenever I met with resistance, tasting whatever was there.  This, too, had its potential pitfalls.  Like with the "lava cake" dessert, when my first forkful was the mint leaf and my second was only whipped cream.

One thing I was particularly curious about was whether I'd eat less when I couldn't see the food.  I mean, are our eyes a big factor in determining when we're done?  Or do we eat the same amount whether we can see the food or not?

Answer:  Inconclusive.  I didn't finish the salad, although I couldn't say whether that was because:  (1)  I really didn't want any more; (2) all I could taste was the dressing, so it wasn't that exciting; or (3)  after six or seven forkfuls, I didn't want to press my luck on stabbing my plate with the fork and hoping to pick up food.  

The lava cake, however, was completely demolished. 

My friend and I initially laughed over our inability to eat in the dark, but, by the end, it was (rather surprisingly) a non-issue.  We'd even worn clothes we weren't that attached to, in case we spilled -- but we both ended up without a speck of food on us.  (I can't always say that when I'm eating with the lights on.)  We enjoyed the meal and had a really good conversation.  We ended up staying there for a total of about 2 hours, just chatting in the dark and picking at the remnants of our desserts.

As an aside, though -- I think Opaque hires their wait staff because they're blind, not because they're particularly good waitpeople.  Ours kept coming by the table fairly frequently to ask if we were OK -- it was nice at first, but, after dessert, when we were just chatting, it got kind of annoying.  Finally, when she said, "Are you OK?" for the zillionth time, I jokingly asked, "Are you trying to get rid of us?"  To which she replied, "Yes."  (OK, maybe, because we're in the dark, we missed out on the fact that there weren't any other empty tables and lots of people were waiting.  But, perhaps a, "Would you like to continue your conversation in the lounge?" would have been a bit more polite.) 

Of course, we didn't continue our conversation in the lounge.  We could have, but when we were back in the lounge, we could see what time it was, where the hell we were, and that there were all those people around us -- and there were a dozen reasons to stop talking and get going.  Being in the dark suspended time and location, and that was pretty darned cool.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Quick One

(So much to report, but too much work to have time to do it.)

Today, I was working at home.  The cat was sitting by the window (in a raspberry-flat box that is her current favorite place) and she jumped up and ran -- this suggests someone was coming up the walk to my door.

It was the FedEx Ground guy delivering a package.  Apparently, he was in a hurry and didn't want to ring the bell and wait to see if I was around to sign for it.

I know this because, as I saw him walking away from the door (presumably marking "nobody answered bell" for the delivery), I heard him loudly call, "Ding Dong!"