Friday, May 6, 2016

Day 1-2: SFO – Paris - Madrid

Day 1-2: SFO – Paris - Madrid

Why is "Beth" laying on the couch covered with a towel?

Portuguese of the Day (POTD) Hello: Olá

First: We're getting ready to remodel the kitchen at the loft, and here are the before pics:

Because the living room art has been moved during the remodel

We’re traveling with SA&DA, flying on Air France to Paris and then on to Madrid. We’re all in business class, upstairs on this plane, it is fine and yet not quite as luxurious or professional as on some other airlines. We’re due in at 11:35 for a connecting flight to Madrid leaving at 12:35.
Viola Frey anticipates 2016 by creating a huge piece entitled: The Donald (note the red tie!)
Skip the next two paragraphs if you’re afraid of being contaminated or infected on a future trip that requires making a connecting flight

There’s an old systems truism: when one thing goes wrong, often (always?) everything else after that goes awry.  With about a half hour to go the plane is on time, and then slows down. After landing, there’s a long taxi to the gate, then it takes a long time (a long time!) to connect to the jet way; then we need to take a train to another terminal…and the train stalls at the first stop, can’t close the doors; and we have to go (slowly) through security and passport control (and fortunately not when landing in Madrid); the gate for the Madrid flight is the furthest away from security (think a much larger version of United terminal at Ohare and going from one end of the H to the other) and when we finally get to the gate we see the plane…and the flight has closed, it’s exactly 12:35.
THB comment: more flights, fewer connections made

So, now we’re in the customer service queue, in the “Priority” line because we have business class tickets. There’s only one person (in a wheel chair) in front of us and probably 10 in the non-priority line. Time goes very slowly in the Priority line. Then they bring on someone to help us that reminds THB of his grandmother (and not in a good –nor  efficient - way). Time really slows down now.

Good news (after a half hour of “service”), we have business class tickets on the 3:25 flight to Madrid (which isn’t that far off anymore), vouchers for free food in the airport, and the flight isn’t that far from the priority lounge.  However the new flight and lounge are a long way from the customer service desk. This is one way to help get over jet lag: walk all over Chuck Day Goal airport. We also manage to get phone help to reach the transfer service to coordinate our new arrival time in Madrid and the ride in from the airport to the hotel.

We’re in Madrid around 6pm (as are our checked bags, PHEW!), check in to Urso, a lovely hotel right in middle of downtown, freshen up, and stroll a bit to a food court where we dine on tapas and wine and cerveza, a nice way to end the day. Things are cheap here: ½ pollo con frites, $6; two glasses of wine and a cerveza, $10;   7 mini-sandwiches with a variety of fish toppings, $8. And, at 8pm, crowded! That’s because this is the pre-game meal, the real thing isn’t until 11pm (when we’re trying to sleep and get past jet lag).

Book Review #1: A Field Philosopher’s Guide to Fracking: How One Texas Town Stood up to Big Oil and Gas, Adam Briggle: Yes, the author is a field philosopher (what the hell is that?) and got involved in a city overrun by wells being fracked for natural gas extraction next to residences, public parks and near schools, which resulted in a ballot measure to ban fracking inside the city limits. Not good: pollution, noise, destroying the water aquifers, sick locals. Big money vs local indignation; health vs mineral rights. Briggle lays out the issues between precautionary (heavy analysis before action) and proactionary (nothing gets done without acting) viewpoints (this must be the philosophy part). THB wishes we were more precautionary when it comes to innovation (see the 40 Years On post), and here are Briggle’s 3 commandments (and ones that THB heartily endorses):
1.    Those most vulnerable to the unintended harms must give their consent to the risk, or at the very least be compensated for any harms done
2.    There must be a robust monitoring system and learnings established
3.    The original innovation must be readily renovated based on learnings
A great story, a light touch with the philosophy lectures, a state sorely tilted to letting oil and gas companies have their way with the citizens, and a terrific outcome (sure to be appealed). So far, THB’s #1 in 2016 (and THB knows it is not for everyone)

Book Review #2: When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanthi: A young neurosurgeon finds out he has stage 4 lung cancer and dedicates a large portion of his remaining time to authoring this book. It’s become a (posthumous) big bestseller (it is very short, more long magazine article length) and one that THB struggled with: are doctors more valuable to society than other occupations? Does dying become a justification for putting religion and science on the same level? Are you in a loving relationship when you work 100-120 hour weeks and your wife is also a doctor? Should a doctor with a serious illness be back in the OR? Well written, and the memoir up until he’s diagnosed is nicely done. Neutral 


  1. Looks like you went to the Mercado de San Anton. I was just there last summer and I went back to that Market often for quick bites while I stayed in Chueca.

  2. It was the Mercado San Anton, and we also went back! Anonymous? hmmmmm....

  3. It was the Mercado San Anton, and we also went back! Anonymous? hmmmmm....