Sorry about the long intermission. I was in Irvine, CA last week, and the students were pretty demanding, so I never had the time to stop and blog.
The trip to Irvine was nice. A friend from work (fuzzy) was on the flight from RDU to DFW, so I had company. Then I caught an earier than planned flight from DFW to Orange county, which was cool. Even cooler, I had a row of 3 seats to myself. The only bauble was that my luggage didn't catch the earlier flight. So I had to pick it up later. No problem, John Wayne Ariport is small and my hotel was nearby.
Irvine/Orange county is really pretty, what I could see of it. I should clarify. More accurately, OC needs clarifying. The air is, well, brown. No other way to put it. It's not hazy, or foggy, or misty, it's just brown. Now and then, if the wind was blowing, you could see that there were mountains nearby. But if the air was still, you could only see the tops of those mountains. There is also a beach. The air seems to get cleaner as you near the beach, but Go-LLY there are a lot of people there. Just too many. If half of them up and left, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. There'd still be too many people. But they sure are polite. I complain about bad customer service (because I hate that) and the east coast seems to have some very serious customer service problems. But in OC, every service worker smiled, looked me in the eye, and said "hello" or some other appropriate greeting. Sometimes it was even a little alarming-- 6am, I'm coming into the hotel from jogging, and I'm tired, sweaty, smelly, and trying to slink up to my room to shower. The hotel person behind the desk Stood Up to say hello to me. At 6am. In Atlanta, I could walk right up to the desk holding Chocolate Bars and $20 Bills I'd still never get a straight-on look in the face, much less a Hello, from the person behind the desk at the hotel. In DC, I'd have to be holding a gun to be noticed, and in Manhattan, a gun would just annoy the desk clerk.
So needless to say, I reveled in this friendly customer service a little. Being a southern girl, it doesn't matter whether the politeness is genuine or not-- that isn't the point. The point is that it's cheap and easy to be polite to people, and it makes everyone just a little bit happier. OK, sure some people don't care about politeness. But they're in the minority I'm sure, and besides they probably aren't very polite themselves, so why waste time worrying about what kind of customer service they prefer?
After the Irvine trip I flew home (first class all the way back!) and we rode our bikes a lot over the weekend. A mere 10 miles on Friday night (renegade nighttime mountain biking!), about 50 miles on Saturday in the hills, about 60 miles Sunday (Tony got extra miles because my chain broke and he had to ride off for help) and a 25 mile recovery ride in the hills on Monday. We were trying to get in some last-minute long miles before the MS150 this weekend. And my birthday is this weekend too! I'll get to eat LOTS of cake because 1. birthday cake on your birthday has no calories and 2. we're riding 150 miles in 2 days, so the calories will burn off before lunch on the first day.
In other news, I'm still reading Les Miserables, The Unabridged Edition. About 1/4 of the way through it. For the most part I really like it, but I just spent 2 evenings reading about the battle at Waterloo. I'm not really sure why, but Monsieur Hugo thought that we should know. A semester-long survey course entitled "all the piddly details of Napoleon's last stand at Waterloo" wouldn't say as much as Victor wanted us to know. Only my mother could have given as lengthy a treatise on the battle, punctuated with descriptions such as "oh, the soldier, I can't remember his name, but he also fought at Austerlitz, he was posted next to the guy who grew up next door to the old woman whose son was a weaver? Remember? He used to weave the most beautiful fabrics, and his mother once made a flag from this fabric which was carried into battle in 1817, and they found it hundreds of years later, your father and I saw it at the Musee D'Armee in Paris. Anyway, that soldier, who was next to this man's grandmother's neighbor..." Last night we finally finished talking about Waterloo, so the story will go back to being lots of misery-filled fun.
(With apologies to my mother. You know I love you mom, but I've learned not to ask what a movie was about if I'm paying the long distance bill. ;-) I wouldn't want you to be any other way)
I hope everyone had a good labor day weekend!