Thursday, November 25, 2010

Back in Europe

I left snowy Seattle for, well, snowy Minneapolis, my first stop on the way back through London.  The blue skies over the northern US contrasted nicely with the sculptured snow spread across plains and mountains below.  Lovely to look at from 30,000 feed with a flat light. Still, it seems early: only November and a whole winter still ahead of us.

The flights were uneventful: No trouble from Opt-Out day, and I didn’t get a chance to refuse the scanners. It looked like fewer people were being pulled out to go through them.  I’m now 122,600 miles towards the 125,000 miles that elevates me to Delta’s top-tier status for frequent (insane) fliers.  I’m not sure what it benefits me: 125% mileage credit and free lounge access?  What I’d really like is transatlantic upgrades when I’m traveling economy.

Minneapolis was momentarily exciting.  I had a 4-hour layover so I ate a nice meal and tucked into the lounge to get some work done.  The computer was being balky and I was struggling to get mail and files loaded.  The flight left at 10I pushed it to 9:30 before packing up to stroll over to the gate.  Only I’d forgotten that I was at the remote lounge, completely across the airport from the gate.  As I swung into the concourse, the overhead pager started calling “David Hampton, your flight for Heathrow is now closing.  Report IMMEDIATELY to gate G4”.

Ack!  I started running along the moving walkways, but the bags were heavy, the dinner was to rich, and I wasn’t making good time.  The airport-wide announcement repeated every few minutes.  G18, turn right, and head along the long axis.  Blowing snow whipped past the windows: they couldn’t possibly be leaving ahead of time.  I rounded the corner at G5, the gate people were waving, I jumped through; they closed the doors behind me.

I sagged in the seat, out of breath, belongings in a tangle.  The girl next to me pretended to to notice, studying the de-icing outside. Cheez, there was still15 minutes before pushback!  I sighed and picked up my book, but fell asleep before takeoff.   Whatever it was about, I don’t want to push it that close again.

I’ve commented before that there have been a spate of books railing against lazy socialist European social models lately.  Thus, it was nice to find this new item by lefty-lawyer Thomas Geohegan subtitled “How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life”.  He mainly inestigates Germany’s Social Democratic social policies and statistics, concluding that the European model offers a valid alternative to “buy cheap, buy bulk’ US alternatives.

Thumbing through it, make Europe so livable from my perspective: overall quality of life, slower pace, cultural richness, high-grade public transport, and multicultural diversity.  Still, it’s nice to see someone put a positive spin on European social institutions, considering their pros and cons rather than just demonizing the differences.

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