When it comes to travel, I am a machine. I swoop down on airports like I own the places. I know which security line is usually the fastest, and I have my laptop out and pockets emptied as I saunter up. I have my passport out when they’re gonna ask for it, I know which side of the plane seat 8H is on. I know where you can buy some chapstick if you’re near gate 37 in the Tokyo airport. I know where the airline lounges are in each airport, and even got a familiar nod from the lady that run the international shuttle in San Fran. I think, when airport staff recognize you from your last trip – you’ve officially made earned the “seasoned” tag. When I fly business class, I now understand all the buttons and knobs on the seats. Which one scoots out my footrest, which one pops out the TV screen, where the blasted hidden tray table is, everything. I tuck my napkin in the neck of my shirt to eat my prosciutto and scallops. When I’m traveling, you can’t fade me; you just can’t fade me. And I guess that’s a good thing, since I seem to be traveling a lot this year.
Anyway, if you hadn’t guessed by the exposition – I’m again in Taiwan. I got in Sunday night in the middle of a rainstorm that made for a bumpy landing. I didn’t sleep well my first night, had problems nodding off – which is unusual for me. Maybe my body will actually fight the time change this time, instead of sucking it up like it usually does. But anyway, it’s the morning here and I’m feeling beat. I think I’m going to cut out of the office early to go catch up on some Zs. For the first week I’m here, I’m actually staying at my buddy Eric’s apartment instead of the usual hotel. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still at the hotel bar every night. It’s just that I struck an agreement with work to where if I save the cost of Sharaun’s plane ticket out in hotel stay (which adds up to one week), they’ll pick up the cost of her flight. Since Eric was out of town, he and Suzy graciously offered me the keys to their place for that week. It’s a little different than staying in the hotel, but it’s still close to work and is definitely homey.
I’m sitting here listening to this new album by The National, a group I downloaded and mentioned last week – but really only first “listened” to on the plane out. For some reason, walking down the moving sidewalks in the Tokyo airport with this album in the background made it sound perfect, awesome, and now I’m totally hooked on it. The songs are deceptively quiet and subdued, but are all really emotional and in some cases haunting. Anyway, it’s a spectacular-awesome album, really. I don’t know why I didn’t take to it more immediately… but I’m just glad I had the trip over to really sit through it and appreciate it. I’ve been listening to it non-stop since somewhere over the Atlantic… and am nearly ready to call it the hallmark album for this trip. It’s good for that too, kinda has a “Lost in Translation” feel to it. Luckily, you don’t have to take my word for it and can listen to the whole album online at this site. If you only plan to listen to one track, make it “Abel.” If you listen to two, check out “Lit Up.” But don’t be fooled by me throwing you a couple up-tempo numbers… listen to “Karen” for a dose of the lighter (and more poignantly perverse) side of the album.
I don’t know about you guys, but when I have to do a #2 in a public restroom – I use those little tissue-paper seat covers. I don’t know how effective they really are, and by that I mean that I’m not entirely sure what sort of “diseases” can absorb through the hairy skin of my butt and infect my bloodstream. I mean, I can understand catching some kinda skin fungus or something… but it’s not like my actual anus is touching the nasty seat, it’s the relatively thick and protective skin on my butt. Anyway, I use the paper things, even though I’d bet that microscopic “bad guys” that can penetrate my butt-skin could also likely penetrate this thin paper shield. Well anyway, I didn’t start writing this to talk about why I use the things; I wrote this to talk about a problem I have using the things. Here’s my complaint: I go into the stall, pull (first up, then down) one of the papers off the wall above the toilet, carefully punch out the perforated center section, and finally place the cover over the seat with great attention to coverage maximization. Then, I turn around to undo the pants and assume the position – and the damn automatic-flush toilet senses my movement as someone having finished their business. The toilet flushes, and sucks my tissue-paper cover down with it. So I always find myself trying to turn in such a way that the bulk of my body stays in front of the little sensor eye. I turn really fast, turn really slow, even try to hold my hand in front of the sensor… but sometimes you just can’t escape it. Automation is great, except when it automates away my germ-protection.
This cobbled-together thing is getting posted now, just so I can clear the buffer and start with a clean slate.