At the entrance, the video camera ran out of power, so all my pictures are stills.
Inside its entry was a huge space, and its roof was all glass -- as someone remarked, they probably don't get hail storms there. The entry was the only part of it that was not totally packed with people -- which only goes to emphasize its impressive size.
Cut to the part that struck me as odd. I was very strangely aware that they have human remains on display. Call them mummies if you want to -- but it was very plain to me that these were dead bodies and the boxes that had contained them. I am starting to lose sympathy with the people who disturb graves. Yeah, even ones with gold and jewels. It is like there is no line that some people won't cross for whatever motivation.
Marble statues. The Rosetta Stone. Too much stuff -- not even a week would be long enough.
Dinner that night was a repeat of scallops, plus veal medallions and mushrooms in wine sauce. I miss the food.
I studied my maps, and headed for the High Street, and especially for Harrods. During the walk there from the underground, I saw the same cashmere store I'd seen during the bus tour, but I plowed onward.
Harrods was insanely packed. Enterting the store, there is a man handing out store maps. Funny enough, the only other place I'd ever had that happen was Powell's Books in Portlnd, OR. The map was convenient -- I went hunting for the things that friends had asked me to bring back. I spent quite a bit of time looking at tea. They have over 200 kinds, way too many to really understand or compare. I got some black teas to take back. I went to the alcohol department, only to find that they do not carry limited editions, so there was no Hennessey White to be had. Back to the tea area again to visit chocolates, I finally decided on a box of Belgian chocolate to take back for my sister and her husband. I think Belgium and Switzerland have the finest chocolates in the world, though I was fond enough of German chocolates when I lived there.
And then I walked around through the rooms full of bling -- jewelery so expensive that most of the price tags were in 5 figures or more. Beautiful stuff, none of it possible. I left Harrods and headed back to the underground, but the cashmere store grabbed me and I had a good time looking at the stuff they had. I got a Pashima shawl for myself -- shades of pink, though I would have loved to have every color they had.
And on the way home, the disaster I dread. I was climbing the stairs in the Picadilly-Central connection station when lost my balance and fell on a stair landing. It wsn't a hard fall. In seconds I had two tube attendants ready to help me. I told them if I had to fall it was a good place, because I twisted around and put my feet down a couple of steps and stood up. They hung on to me, probably a good thing as the whole world swayed. They escorted me upstairs most solicitously. I went on my way, but had the damnedst time with the train destinations on the Circle line, and I swear I ended up going in the wrong direction twice. Ended up getting off at a stationj where I could get a District train, which I knew would terminate at Tower Gateway where I could pick up the DLR at Tower Hill. By this time the stop at the Tower was an old friend.
That evening I had the scallops at the Italian restaurant. Wonderful stuff.
I did my table sitting, verifying that people coming up were members of the convention before they voted. Lots of jobs, and the only one I did not want was taking payments. At the end of the job I was on my way to Tower Hill.
This year is the 100th anniversary of the start of world War i. This is being commemorated in England with poppies -- 200,000 poppies are being placed around the Tower of London, one for each British soldier killed in the Great War. The first was placed on the anniversary start, and the last will be placed on November 11, which is Armistice Day.
This is the one decent video I took of the tower moat and the tower skyline, nothing but city noise in the background.
In case you can't reach it, here are stills:
I walked all the way around the Tower, and all the way through it. The Crown Jewels are inside. They ae mostly the crowns with the velvet inserts, along with golden maces, swords, and other regalia (yes, orb and sceptre, too). This is the day I put 8 miles on my pedometer, which gave the poor thing such a nervous breakdown that it did not record anything the next day.
Throughout London there are convenient benches and men with fire engine green vests who answer questions from the millions of tourists. Half the time my question was "What direction is the Underground?" though I was actually pretty good about navigating and not getting turned around.
At evening, I had dinner at my favored Italian restaurant. One night, I had mushrooms stuffed with ricotta and spinach, plus prawns in garlic butter -- and tiramisu, oh yes. Another night I tried to have the spaghetti with pesto, but that was the night my appetite crashed, and I could hardly eat anything. Aware of my deficient water intake, I tried to have ice water at every opportunity, even if I was also drinking coffee. This place was right next to my hotel, so it was very convenient, especially since I tended to get there very late.
This particular day I went back to the convention, with the intention of counting site ballots. Someone lurked in in front of me, so I went to the general committee meeting where the count was unofficially announced. There was some "Where do we go from here?" talk, and plans for doing the membership table the next day. Unofficiaily, that night, it was known that Kansas City would be holding the 2016 World Science Fiction Convention.
First, the wakeup call failed again, this time keeping me from having breakfast. Since it failed more than half the time, I'll stop mentioning it -- but it would be the one factor that would make me pick another hotel if I ever went back.
"This train is for Bickton. The next stop is...Prince Regent," and so I learned how to get to Excel on the DLR. Bickton, Tower Hill, and Tower Gateway were always my key destinations when getting on any transportation. I got to the table late, but spent my hours there, I snagged coffee and a muffin in the activity area -- which was a much more interesting setup than it sounded at first.
All parties were held from the tents in the evenings, and the big green carpeted area hosted a Quidditch game much of the time. Steps led upstairs to the art show and the dealer's room, which shared another large area.
When I finished doing site selection, I went into the building, which probably housed 100 food stalls, and grabbed a lamb samosa. Even the Starbucks in England had various samosas, and I had veggie and chicken as well on different days. I did my tour of the dealers room, grabbing the one book I intended to get (which was not out in paper in the US). I then went back downstairs and did my Iron Throne selfie.
About as I left, I discovered that my umbrella had disappeared. Looked all over, and no joy. So of course when I got off the DLR at Canning Town it was raining. Hard. I ended up ordering a pizza and taking it to my room. I ate, read, and took a nap. So much for touring that day. I did not even go back to see the convention night life.
Somewhere I have a video that tracks from this end, where the convention centered, back to the end where the cab let me off. When I finally got to the right end, the line monitors pointed to the staircase and said registration started there. Then they looked at me, and at my cane, and decided that perhaps sending me up and down a long staircase was a bad bet -- so they let me into line at the end of the ground floor part. It took until time to work the table for me to get through the line. Absolutely the worst registration I have ever seen at a WorldCon -- I understand the line was actually 1.5 hours long and reached almost to the DLR station.
I went to the site selection tent and spent the next four hours cutting ballots into registration, voting and receipt pieces, and making people sign their registration forms and put their ballots into our spiffy cardboard box. Took a break and grabbed a cheese and onion pasty from the in-hall vendors. Edible but not fabulous. At 2:00 I got out and, following DLR signs, found out that Excel where *I* wanted to be was actually the Prince Regent stop. Hoarding information for tomorrow, I got on the DLR and headed for Victoria Station, where the open top bus tour began.
That was fun. Of course, you would win the bet that this was the day that the skies would open up and pour, right? I got to see quite a lot of London before the weather did the inevitable. Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Parliament, Big Ben. High Street (where I took good look at Harrods, my Sunday destination).
I loved the huge numbers of row houses right in the city, with beautiful, ornate facades. Wnd when the skies opened up, I spent qite awhile still sitting outdoors on top of the bus, crouched under my umbrella. But eventually I went under cover. By the time we got to the Tower of London, it was still pouring, so my first pictures of the poppies were through a wet bus window. We approached over the tower bridge, as famous a landmark as any.
And finally, after repeating quite a lot of the areas it had already been, the bus came back to its starting point. I hit the souvenir shop for tokens to give to people i work with.
This was also the first night that I ate at the Italian restaurant next to the hotel. It was a wonderful place. The first night I had the crab with artichoke hearts appetizer, which was more than enough food for my limited stomach, and just delicious.
Eventually we boarded. I was happy to find that my seat belt fit, and annoyed to find that the seats were so close together that if the tray would go all the way down, it would overlap the seat arm rests by five inches. Ridiculous, and it did not go all the way down. Still, the trip was ok, the food was edible, and there was plenty of water to drink. At the far end, the baggage was easy enough to find and fast enough unloading. I must have looked hammered, because one of the electric cart drivers offered me a ride. I was madly glad I took it, because he drove MILES to get to the main part of Terminal 2 at Heathrow. I decided that electric carts were in my future for sure! From the front of the terminal, I loaded up a push cart and walked a few more miles to the terminus of the Heathrow Express that went to central London. A very nice Express employee let me look inside the locked driver's compartment that was used when the train went the opposite way -- quite a complicated control panel! -- and when we arrived at the end of the line, she hauled my bags to the Black Taxi stand, giving me London advice the whole way.
First cab ride, $70.00 -- and it was the same five days later when I did it in reverse. Glad I got an Oyster card and was determined to learn the Underground and rail system!
I arrived at the Holiday Inn Royal Docks, left a wake-up call for 6:30 AM, and fell over.
So did the call wake me up? Sigh. No way -- so I missed the first tour I was scheduled to take. Oh well, Buckingham Palace only opens a dozen rooms and the gardens for tours in August. No palace for me. I gritted my teeth and took a cab ride down to Victoria Station to get to the Stonehenge tour on time. London is PACKED, far more crowded than New York, and the air perpetually smells like cigarette smoke. New York smells of exhaust fumes -- so the tobacco air was new to me -- and a bit disturbing. I continued to get that scent for at least four days -- it took that long or longer to become an unnoticeable background.
It was sunny and windy at Stonehenge, and the parking was quite a distance from the site. Again, it was stunning how crowded it was. Many of my pictures include bits of the crowd. I managed to get what I call a selfie -- a beautiful picture of the monument in dark silhouette over my left shoulder -- as well as a lot of conventional daylight pictures and at least one closeup video.
I can see that writing about this trip is going to take more time than I thought. At least Stonehenge was the only activity I pursued the first day. I did several miles of walking from the bus down to the monument, and on paths around it. The bus driver was a nice guy, and we talked quite a bit on the trip out. When I returned to the bus he assured me he would not have left without me, though some people had missed it in times past -- and the nearest village is several miles away. He said this was the first trip where all the passengers returned on time. When we got back to London I stopped at a souvenir stand and got a pocket map of London and the public transportation -- so I took my first rides on the Underground and the Docklands Light Rail (DLR) to get back to my hotel. My Oyster card became my best friend for the rest of the trip.
The first day I actually went to work in the morning. I then went to the Murray's home to trade vehicles. I knew I had too much to bring back with me to use the jeep, so I arranged for the use of their lovely minivan. It rides like a dream, and I am glad they allowed me to trade for the trip.
I took it to my house and loaded it up with all the things I was taking. Since I was basically taking two trips, I had a suitcase for each one, plus breathing machine, cooler, underseat duffel, theft-resistant purse, CD case, a sewing machine, and a bin of fabric. This was not enough to really fill the van, and the first time I braked hard, all of it slid forward, which gave me a much better clue of how to pack in the future! I got on the road and stopped someplace in Indiana for the first night. The motel was very nice and cheap, and had some of the best towels I had ever met!
The next day I got back on the road and headed for PA, and my sister's house. The scurvy GPS took me around in circles a couple of times on the PA Turnpike, and then screamed LOW BATTERY and died on me. I pulled into a gas station at close to midnight and called for Denise to lead me in. All I had time for that night was to drag bags upstairs and crash. Inevitably a day behind the wheel with inadequate rest stops leads to swollen ankles and a great need to sleep.
My sister is an excellent cook, and she did handsome meals with fresh fruit, salad, and corn on the cob, chicken and corn pie, English muffins -- her husband is absolutely determined to keep her because she is a jewel. She feels the same way about him, so they are well matched and heading for 40 years. The first day we pretty much just visited. My youngest sister and her companion were also visiting, so we all talked at once, and sorted through old pictures. I hope I can get my son to scan the horde of pictures for future posting -- maybe someone out there knows who these people are.
Sunday I went with all of them to the Mega Church that my sister goes to. It was a new experience for me -- never went to one before. Big screen TVs, lots of music (the tunes were ok, the words repetitive. I'm more a fan of religious classics.) and a preacher who did a "healing" pitch. In some ways it was very Fosterite, though the drinks have to stay in the lobby and are non-alcoholic.
And Sunday afternoon, all their kids and grandkids showed up.
L to R: Peter and Trish Ecenroad, me, Faith and Neave Wise, Jada Burt, Bruce and Denise Ecenroad, Joy and Jason Burt, and Pat Hayward.
We spent the day visiting. The sewing machine and the bin of fabric went to Jada Burt, who is interested in creating anime costumes. She will be going to her first convention later this year. I told her I was probably her only relative who owned a copy of Naruto.
Monday, Denise, Pat and I went to the Mulberry Art Studio and took a private tour of my brother Lewis's retrospective art show. Lew was an abstract artist, and this is the first showing of his work since the 1980s, when he showed his art in New York. He became reclusive and stopped showing, but kept painting.
After our tour, Pat and John took me to a hotel near Newark airport, where I would board a plane for London the next morning.
Only one male ever got in a strike by surprise -- one Dan Murray, may he be cursed into the hell where he belongs. I think it opened his girlfriend's eyes, which could only have done her good.
I was physically combative from a young age, which probably made me a lot less afraid than I could have been.
In college I went to do laundry with a female friend, using her hubby's car. As we were leaving the parking lot a man ran up and grabbed her door handle. I peeled out of there and may have grazed him -- and if so, all the better. Yeah, I tend to be hostile toward men who run up to the car and grab the door handle.
But like all women I have walked at night with my keys between my fingers. I have driven like a demon when pursued in a vehicle. How not? You just do what you have to do. Drive like mad. Push the beggar off onto the floor. Whatever.
Yeah, even someone who has had a small amount of trouble has incidents within a lifetime. I do believe that it happens to all women...and when we discuss this I do not give one little fart about the menz.
I wnt to work for a few hours because we have had so much dumped on us. I may do a few hours on Monday as well If I get filled with energy.
Think good thoughts at Jim Murray, who is in the KU Cardiac ICU for tests after a mild heart attack. They will be doing something to him after said tests. Probably including a Denial of Bacon Order and a Red Meat Cease and Desist.
When I got the messages I put another couple of logs in the stove and set it to run all night. When I got up this morning there were enough coals to just pile more logs on for a continuing fire.
Last night I had a bowl of chicken soup for dinner, and for some reason I was completely full halfway through it, so I just had the other half for breakfast. OK, chicken soup is a weird breakfast -- but the way my nose is feeling it can only do good.
I recently went to the Baen web site and I looked over the book bundles. I found a John Brunner bundle, and I'd only read two of the six titles. This is kind of surprising because I own over 40 Brunner books. I bought the bundle because I don't have either of the two repeats as e-books, so now I have those on the computer. I probably have 700 books on my nook -- with backups on my pc. That is another bookshelf or two I haven't had to buy and load. I still get some tree books -- just not very many.
It reminded me of being young and doing Christmas Eve at the Black's. All the relatives of the Green side of the family would gather, and they did traditional things as a group. One of the things they wanted to do was sing carols, but it was ...less than musical. None of them knew the words to carols, and no one but me could go past the first verse of anything. All those years in church choir made me a regular carol music box. So I decided to do what I could to fix this.
I went to the Town Crier in Lawrence, and they had books of carols for fifty cents, so I bought at least 10 and took them to the next Christmas Eve. When singing time came I passed out the books and decreed that this year they would actually sing the darned things!
Gods, but I was a pain in the butt.
Still, Carl's mother saved the books and brought them every year. They really did need them.
I have been shopping for a phone. I am not quite sane -- the one I like is over 600.00. Ack! For a phone! Maybe I should pick an earlier model. The way I am about phones no doubt an earlier one would work just fine for me. It's not like I will watch movies all day or anything.
I am also pretty sure I will pick a new company and leave Sprint. Their damned store kept me in line over an hour just to find out that I couldn't do anything I needed to there. So here I go -- tomorrow I will go get a new phone an a new company.
Meanwhile, I am working on getting the company that had my stolen car on their lot removed as an approved company for stolen vehicle storage. They were a real piece of work, and I hope I can get their business taken away. No one should have to deal with these scum.
I belong to a group that is considered "critical" -- because if they lay us off chances are high that the government will be sacrificing money that they could be billing to people who are filing late with large income gains. Of course the budget wrangle and the debt ceiling wrangle are going to make employment chancy in any case -- and even if they lay us off they will likely demand to have us back in 3 weeks since the late-filing deadline is October 15. That creates a mini-spike of late returns, and we are part of the group that deals with those, too.
Oh sure, they keep grumbling about laying off all the seasonals until January, but I can't see it happening. And if I'm wrong? Oh please don't throw me in that briar patch!
In some ways, a writer friend defined what the conventions was like -- but did it a dozen years early. The main accessory is a cane -- or a scooter for those who have lost even more mobility. I had been doing without a cane for months, but the size of the convention center soon sent me down to my car to get out the emergency cane I keep in there. My hips could only take so many miles of cement floor before they screamed. My pedometer said I walked over five miles on Thursday, so the poor things had reason. I usually don't do much more than 2 or 3 in a normal day.
The graying means that a lot of playfulness is gone. Costumes were not very evident. Most people were in pants and Ts casual. I guess all the costumes go to DragonCon. The writers cleaned up very nicely for the Hugos. Mur Lafferty's dress was outstanding. I'm envious.
But I headed home before that ever happened. I left on Saturday because by Friday night I had pretty much done what I wanted to do. Maybe that statement is the sorriest thing -- that I could run out of things I wanted from a WorldCon before the big events occurred. I still plan to go to London. I am pretty sure the city will have things I want to see even if the convention turns into something I'm done with early. And if worldCon is in KC in 2016 (which looks probable at this point) I will be there. That would be a full circle, however, and probably my last WorldCon -- as Kansas City in 1976 was my first.
Unfortunately, I suspect I have acquired a hernia. The gall bladder that used to be in that area is gone, and hernia is about the only thing that works with the feeling. I will go to the doctor in a bit over a week, and we will see what comes of it. Got to avoid any gym activity that stresses the abdominal area meanwhile -- that hurts like blazes. But I will continue all the things that I have been working on. I may never LIKE the gym, but I am resigned to going there and the people are friendly, both members and staff. I continue to lose, but more slowly. About 63 down. Hey, as long as it is down things are ok.
And now for the fact that it is August -- specifically the third weekend. Third weekend of almost every month is KaCSFFS. I joined in August of 1982. I still remember John J, John Taylor, Pat Taylor, and I walking to the meeting, which was at Torre's Pizza in Westport. There were maybe 25 of us in KaCSFFS at the time. I still remember what it was like, walking with the others. I even remember what we were wearing. Ah, an excess of memory. The best that can be said for me is that I appreciated my good times while I was living them.
I am not a fan of all this exercise, but the threat of not having strength as I go down in size is enough to make me go. Also it's possible I can avoid saggy wings if I do what I have to, so ... .
I got a couple of iPods, some ear buds and head phones. Music does make biking easier. On things I have to count, music sometimes makes me lose count, but I just set the number back and continue from some lower number, just to make sure it all gets done. Up the weights. Think about adding new things as it gets easier.
Exercise. Still not my favorite.
Allons enfants de la Patrie
Le jour de gloire est arrivé !
Contre nous de la tyrannie
L'étendard sanglant est levé
Entendez-vous dans nos campagnes
Mugir ces féroces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras.
Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes!
Aux armes citoyens
Formez vos bataillons
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons
Meanwhile, Buster is mending. He was sick last week and I took him to the vet. The news was not great -- he had a blockage in his urethra. Fortunately, it spontaneously unblocked before the vet had to knock him out and use a catheter. He now has prescription cat food which costs more than my food. I also got him a kitty water fountain to see if I could lure him into drinking. The only places he would drink before were in the kitchen sink and in the toilet. The fountain is working great, and now he doesn't have to jump on the counter for a drink. He goes over and visits it every now and then, which is a real improvement.
6 week post-surgery visit today. I seem to be doing better. A bit less tired. Next week has a FIVE DAY weekend with the holiday, the sequester day, and my regular day off. Good times.
Those bikes are demonic -- they cut out if you go too slow, and I am as slow as you can imagine. Oh well, the pedals move even slow, and any exercise is better than no exercise, yes? I hope that they will have classes at times I can take them. Right now I still can't sit on the floor and then get up. 40 pounds to get to there -- hey! it used to be 90 pounds. Maybe by July. The weight is falling off, and I am on 2T of food per meal until 7/1 or so. After that I get 3T!! Yeah, with 4 protein shakes a day to get 80 grams, it is definitely a high protein diet.
Those poor suckers in Texas.
I even went so far as to get Gerber oatmeal so that there would not be anything rough on my stomach at first. Of course I add applesauce and cinnamon, but hey! No reason your tastebuds have to suffer.
I need to look into smashing the chewable vitamins to powder. They are just too big to be tolerable. Maybe tomorrow. Or maybe I can find enough Gummy vitamins so that I can eat a bunch of them instead. It will be at least a week before I get near Costco. I still have plenty of supplies -- I only need milk replaced any time soon. I haven't eaten any pudding or yogurt, It has been baby food, tomato soup, and cottage cheese for the most part.
The cat got at the empty baby food jar. It was not scraped and he had his paw in it and was pulling out leftovers and licking the paw. Cats.
All the items are checked off the packing list. Whew..
I always seem to be tired on Thursday, so of course Thursday night is when I have to bag up the trash and haul it out. This neighborhood is flooded with dogs off the leash, so all of it has to go in cans, not just nice bags you can drag. Four bags out and in cans, one can to the street with one to go. I'm recovering here!
The fun part of living here is the rest of the wildlife. I can see the tracks where deer have crossed the yard, and where rabbits hopped through the snow. As I waited for the realtor, the tracks in the snow made me pretty sure I was going to live out here.