Link to Profile Semperoper, Dresden Sieg (auf dem Siegesäule), Berlin Brandenburg Tor, Berlin Skyline, Frankfurt am Main

Friday, July 27, 2007

Life is a Bowl of Cherries?

This seems to be a July pattern, me disappearing from the blogosphere. What have I been doing?

Growing cherries on my balcony, for one thing. The first crop was staggering! 14 of them in all. Two more seasons like this and the tree will have paid for itself, though the poort tree is not so likely to make it through two more seasons on the balcony. It really needs to find its way into real earth so it can spread its roots. There might be a real-life analogy in that for me, but I generally prefer to live in denial, so I'm going to ignore it.

I've been keeping moving. I have to, because on of the other things I've been doing is eating. Creme Brulee ....

and massive amounts of cookies from this seducitve little baker in Strasbourg. France is the culinary equivalent of Amsterdam, and there's this little cookie shop where the ladies thrust a sample of their wares at you. It's hard to resist, and I don't.

And I've been flying. A lot. Here's Brussels National Airport from the air. This was one of the few holes in the clouds on my last trip to London. I've been to England a couple times, but it was solid IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions ... a technical way of saying you can't see much) On my last trip, I spent two hours actually flying through clouds and another hour and a half flying around some that were building into afternoon thunderstorms ... didn't want the rough ride.

I've been to London a couple times this summer, but I didn't really see much of it from the air until my instrument approaches to the airports (Biggin Hill and Cambridge). So no nice shots of the white cliffs, but I'll head that way a few more times in the months to come. They do get sunshine in England ... just doesn't seem to be happening much this year.

Speaking of flying, I'm actually writing this from the US, where I've gone for the annual Experimental Aircraft Association "Airvention" at Oshkosh. I'll write more on that later.

I will say that there are some things I really miss about America, but there are some things that I do not. In other words, I've ranted quite a bit about the things in Germany that bug me, but now its time to turn my keyboard on my home country.

One thing I do not miss are shabby hotel rooms. Both in terms of repair as well as cleanliness. I'm not talking about the high end places, where an unclean room is unthinkable at $300+ per night. But the average places at around $100 to $150 per night ... which is still a lot of money ... are simply appalling. And it is that way all across the country.

I stayed in a EUR 40 per night "dive" in Ostend a couple weeks ago, and the room was far cleaner than the rooms I've had here in the past couple of weeks. And the breakfast was much better.

Which is another funny thing about traveling in the US these days. A number of these mid-range hotel chains have started offering what they call breakfast. At Double Tree it is "made to order," which means you can get a somewhat decent omelette. At many of these places you can oast a bagel and have a styrofoam bowl of cereal (I'll let you decide which was more foam ... the bowl or the cereal) and some juice.

The problem I have with buffets is that the average human is somewhat sloppy. The difference between breakfast buffets in Europe and the US is that in Europe they actually have a couple of staff tending to the buffet somewhat regularly so that it doesn't look like a hostpital emergency room after a major train accident. In the US, in many of these places at least, it is the harried night manager who is rushing to keep the thing stocked while answering phones. As for cleaning it up, the solution seems to be to forget about it. And he or she is usually a recent immigrant.

I keep hearing that the US needs its vast (12 to 20 Million strong and growing) pool of cheap labor to do the jobs that Americans won't do. Well, news flash, the cheap labor pool doesnt' seem to be doing those jobs so well themselves, so wake up and smell the coffee.

And finally, my fellow Americans, when there is one syrup dispenser at the waffel iron, what makes you think you can take it to your table for your private and exclusive use. There might be an analogy or parable in this for the state of affairs in the world, but I'm out of here before I really get myself in trouble.


Anonymous Maribeth said...

Glad you are back and posting. Have missed you!

11:46 AM, July 29, 2007  
Blogger christina said...

Wow, and we thought you were just taking a nap or something. Welcome back!

P.S. I would consider catering but I'm afraid the health department would close me down once they saw the state of my kitchen. :-)

7:43 PM, July 31, 2007  

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