exile begins

I’m on the 11:00 train to Swansea (via Newport, my stop). The trip here was no worse than usual, I guess.

Yesterday morning, I got some cycling in while Gloria went to yoga. We had some bagels and some ice cream, and then we started running errands. I picked up Thrones and Patriots for Godfrey, some chocolates for Godfrey’s girlfriend, and some batteries for my game boy. I also grabbed some protein bars from the office; I think I’ll try to eat more sensibly this time than last. I don’t think my last trip was a diet disaster, but it was certainly very different than my usual eating habits. I might as well try to stick to them, while I’m here.

Once the errands were done, we headed home and watched the TV for a while. We watched two episodes of Farscape (we’re now past the halfway mark in season one). We also watched Bullitt, a Steve McQueen cop movie, in which he creates the prototype for the superior “Dirty” Harry Callahan character. It was OK.

We had some chicken caesar salad, and I did some last minute packing. I felt a bit proud of myself, this trip, as I remembered to pack everything on my own, with only a little prodding from Gloria. I knew all the things I’d need, got them together, and packed them nicely into my little IQE gym bag. Then, as we prepared to leave, she said, “You packed socks and underwear, right?” This could have been a very unpleasant trip indeed! Fortunately, there was still room in my bag.

I’d weighed my bag before leaving home, and it was something like fifteen pounds. I saw that the limit for carry-on baggage was less—thirteen pounds, maybe. The passengers in front of me were being ordered to repack their suitcases to get the overweight bag under weight. Fortunately for me, my ticketing clerk never asked about my bags, other than, “Do you have any bags to check?” What surprised me more was the implication, by one of the “what can you take onboard” signs, that I was only entitled to one carry-on and no “personal bag.” That is, no laptop case or attache. It seemed like most people were ignoring that restriction, so I didn’t feel guilty about it.

Waiting for the flight to board, I found myself sitting across from two teenage girls and one of their mothers. The girls were talking about politics, and it was all I could do to not interrupt them and explain that they’d be well-served to learn the proper distinction between conservative and liberal thinking. I’m so /tired/ of “conservative means Republican, liberal means Democrat.” Maybe I should have, but I usually get annoyed at people butting in to my conversations, so I refrained. (Then again, people who butt in to my conversations are usually uninteresting and have nothing of value to say.)

Just as they called for our flight to board, Taps began to play. I think it might have been someone in the gate with a trumpet. It was weird, and not very comforting.

Onboard, I was seated on a center aisle, behind one of the big horizontal dividing walls. The good thing about that is that there’s plenty of room because there’s no one in front of you to lean back or full the space under his chair. The bad thing is that there’s no wall to lean against. The worse thing is that the wall in front of these seats have baby-changing stations built in. That means that they like to seat mothers with babies there.

I started off beside two mothers, each with a baby. The one directly beside me, fortunately, left. She was a really large woman, and was taking up more than her share of space. She was replaced wby an elderly Indian woman in a sari. I think she was the other mother’s mother. I would have had no objections to her, had she kept her elbows to herself and refrained from stepping over me and into the aisle constantly.

The seats had new entertainment systems. The games were mostly lame, although they could be played against other players. I kicked some ass at Trivia, but lost my last round by trying to answer too quickly. I said that Cape Cod was in Maine. Ugh! The trivia game would have been much better if it was faster. I also played a little chess against the computer, and it won. I saw, at the end of the flight, that I could watch the Office Christmas special. I watched the first half, but then the entertainment systems were shut off. It was good, but depressing. I’m looking forward to seeing part two.

Customs went quickly, and it was nice to have zero bags to claim. Once at Paddington, I had about an hour to kill, so I changed the $100 I’d taken with me, got some bizarre breakfast from Burger King (photos taken), and just sort of sat around for a while.

Now I’ve been trying to stay awake on the train, but I think I’m going to give up and try to get just one more hour of sleep, so I can try to stay up until a reasonable bed time tonight. Also, sleeping may help me ignore the horrible stench of gas; someone on this train is stinking the place up, and it’s putrid.

Written on May 30, 2004