Lots more travel this weekend, including Parker and me spending two days in a place without Internet. (My phone at least had a little from time to time.)
Now back home, I have to figure out the rest of my day before rehearsal. Parker, for his part, is sleeping on his own bed right now for the first time in more than a week.
Well, we made it to Heathrow only an hour late, and scrambled to get our initial findings out to our director in the 45 minutes we had available in the lounge...until our flight to Chicago was also delayed an hour and fifteen minutes. Really I just want to get on the plane and sleep. But then I also want to get home with enough time to nap before an event I've been looking forward to. So, here's hoping the published delay right now is the real delay, and I still have a couple of hours to unpack and change.
Also, I was off just a bit in my surmise how the credit card transit tickets worked. It's not that Norway has less transit theft than other countries (though I suspect this is true anyway), it's that you have to swipe your credit card to get out of gates when you arrive. Still, we left the hotel at 5:20 and got to the airport by 6. That's pretty impressive.
I like traveling to Europe because it reminds me that technology can combine with public services in ways we will not see in the U.S. for 30 years. Yesterday it was a magic button that made a taxi appear in seconds. Today it was a bit of wasted time that led to two discoveries, one of which was that I wasted time.
My business colleague and I, used to very long lines to get paper train tickets as well as some predictions about our cognitive abilities at 5:15 tomorrow morning, decided to swing by the local train station to get our airport express tickets. It turns out, they don't use them. You simply swipe your credit card at a small kiosk and—bam—you have a ticket good for six months.
In other words, we could have simply walked to the train station tomorrow morning, swiped our cards, and climbed aboard, without waiting in line and without getting a paper ticket.
My colleague, having noticed that coming in from the airport no one challenged us for our tickets, asked, "how does that even work?"
I thought about it and realized that in Norway, very few people steal public services. Also the conductors have handheld computers that can read credit cards and match them with pre-payments.
Imagine if Metra did that. It might be convenient. Or if Metra and the CTA could get their asses moving on making Ventra cards good for both. It might wind up being something like the Clipper Card in San Francisco, a transit card that works on most public transport.
The basic point is, how much lost productivity do we have in the U.S. because we under-fund public services to the point where they can't invest in cost-saving technology? And what will it take to get Americans to stop voting for people like Bruce Rauner, who is guaranteed to try starving Chicago-area public transport for four more years?
Ouch, what a grim outcome from yesterday. Republicans took back the U.S. Senate by running the most negative campaign in history, promising nothing, which is exactly what they'll deliver. People angry at the slow recovery elected the very people who caused the recovery to go so slowly. Also, yesterday's voters were really, really old and white, much more than predicted (as midterm voters are usually older and whiter than those who vote in presidential elections).
The worst story I heard about this election was the report out of Louisiana last August that a third of Republicans there didn't know whether Bush or Obama botched the Katrina disaster.
Oh well. Two years of total gridlock in American government are coming. I hope Ginsburg stays in her chair until 2017...
Except for one minor problem, this has been a good trip. I'll have photos of the super-cute hotel probably this weekend. And the meeting today went surprisingly well, notwithstanding the 10 times I had to leave the room.*
One amazing thing happened: at the end of the meeting, we stopped by reception and asked about getting a taxi. The receptionist pushed a button on a small device, which promptly spat out a receipt, which she handed us. By the time we got outside the building, there was a taxi waiting. Amazing. Why don't we have these things in the U.S.?
* The minor problem seems to have come from a salad I ate Monday for lunch, and has has made it unlikely I'll get to experience any great dining here in Oslo. I am not pleased.
It's coming up on 11:30 am back home, so it's 18:30 here in Oslo, and I'm finally settled and unpacked. The bed looks so tempting. I have to stay up until 9pm, I really do.
Photos and stuff eventually. Right now I really, really need a shower.
Posting will be sporadic the next couple of days, to say the least. At least Norway is a more advanced country than ours, with ubiquitous WiFi, so there will be some new items here.
I don't know why, exactly, but Dutch daredevil Nik Wallenda walked from Marina City to the Leo Burnett building last night the hard way:
Wallenda, 35, began by walking more than two city blocks from the Marina City west tower to the Leo Burnett Building. That first crossing — which took 6:51 minutes and was done at a 19-degree slant across the Chicago River — set the world record for steepest incline for tightrope walking between two buildings.
Wallenda took a Leo Burnett elevator down to the street and returned to the Marina City west tower, where he wore a blindfold as he crossed to the east tower in 1:17 minutes. The feat was completed at more than 500 feet, making it the highest blindfolded walk recorded.
I mean, hey, why not, right?
The Apollo Chorus of Chicago will perform at 3:30 this afternoon at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago, right by the Chicago/Milwaukee Blue Line stop.
We'll perform two movements from Schubert's Mass in A-flat, five choruses from Händel's Messiah, and a few other pieces (including a beautiful soprano duet by Monteverdi).
The church is gorgeous. I mean, gorgeous. Even if you don't hear us perform you should at least poke around the space.
Oh, did I mention the concert is free? You should still subscribe, so you can hear us perform the entire Messiah in December and the entire Schubert in March.
Ah, FitBit. I'm guessing the device only stores time stamps and not time-and-date stamps. I'm also guessing they haven't worked out daylight saving time, either. Because apparently going to bed before 1am CDT and getting up at 7:30 CST was only 5½ hours. (It was actually 7½.)
This seems related to a problem I saw Wednesday. I got to Atlanta just past midnight and synced my FitBit to my phone—which had already switched to Eastern time. Since the device never got past midnight, it's daily summary value started at the total step count for Tuesday, so my total steps for Wednesday and for the week were overstated by 16,000.
Look, I get that time zones are hard, but they're not that hard. It's also not hard to use date-time stamps with unambiguous values—for example, always using UTC internally and only using local time to display and calculate things that depend on local time.
I've got a support incident open with them. I hope I can help them fix this problem, but it may be a hardware issue. That's disappointing.
Meanwhile, I'll make my first attempt at a workaround on Tuesday morning after I land at Heathrow. (The flight crosses local midnight in Chicago but not London.) I'll sync the device in Central time before changing my computer's time zone to GMT, so that it will have experienced midnight in its local time zone. Then I'll re-sync in GMT and see what happens. At the very least I'll get some data on what is causing this defect.