Saturday, September 30, 2017

F.U.N. in the U.K.

A (wireframe) archer defends the Tower of London.

"Defending The Tower"


I'm areligious, but nuts to that. This is a new fave quote from my UK travels.

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.
- C.S. Lewis, brainy quote
The quote is etched into stone at a memorial to C.S. Lewis in Westminster Abbey.

Here's a more detailed description of what C.S. Lewis means with his quote.

UK Top Ten

I visited my favorite mathematician in the UK last week. Now, I could actually put some energy and creativity into this and give you a well thought out, comprehensive treatise on my expedition.
But... nah. Here's my top 10 list. (smile)

I was blown away by the courtesy and professionalism I encountered at Heathrow.
Check this out.

Sir. I'm sorry to bother you, but would it be possible for you to participate in a random bag check prior to boarding your flight?
- UK airport security (aka TSA) at Heathrow asking to inspect my carry-on bag
Across the board, the UK service people were outstanding. The customs guy cracked jokes with me about how boring computer science is. The airline people herding me into the ticket kiosks were competent and friendly.

America's TSA is the opposite. It's a disgrace. Discourteous. Incompetent. You see a dozen of them standing around and milling about. In line, the one designated lackey frowns and yells the same instructions over and over again at travelers. The odd thing - it all seems to be by design. TSA thinks they're international cops or something, browbeating travels as part of some grand, ridiculous interrogation.

The UK has it right. TSA should be a service job. And bonus round - I'll bet professionalism and courtesy would actually increase security as a side effect.

2. UK = history
The big difference between the UK and the US is history. In both Cambridge and London, I strolled along and ogled buildings that have been around for hundreds of years. London has been an important city for more than a thousand years. It's overwhelming for a bumpkin from the midwest to comprehend this (aka me). It makes for a great vacation!

3. Cambridge = college town
Get this... Cambridge includes more than 30 colleges:
Of all these, it's pretty clear to me that Murray-Edwards is the best:

The result of this college concentration: Cambridge is an uber-college town with young, thin, energetic young people all over the place, biking hither and yon. It's very fun.

4. Best of Cambridge
The best tourist-y thing in Cambridge (by a wide margin) is the American Cemetery:

The cemetery honors thousands of US soldiers who died defending the UK and Europe during WW2. It's beautiful and truly moving.
The runner-up in Cambridge is the Fitzwilliam Museum: What an amazing art collection! And bonus - I bought this year's Christmas cards in the gift shop. (ho ho)

5. London = bustling
London is abuzz with activity, man. There are at least a couple dozen gigantic cranes towering over the city involved in various projects. Some are new construction, and some are rehab projects. Big Ben and the Parliament are undergoing massive reconstruction efforts. I believe the tour guy said the cost is more than 3 billion pounds. He joked: You'd think spending that much money, we could get new buildings. (ha)

6. Best of London
The best tourist-y thing in London is just as easy: Westminster Abbey. This building has a unique combination of artwork, grandiose architecture, and history. I did the tour, and it was spectacular. Like the American Cemetery, I could have spent a lot more time there.
7. Brexit = Trump
The similarities between Brexit and President Trump are uncanny. I saw a little UK news in my hotel room, and it was CNN deja vu all over again... shameless, unapologetic propaganda. In just a few minutes, I learned that:
  • Prime Minister T May is a blithering idiot.
  • Brexit is stupid and will lead to the downfall of the entire country. 
  • The people who voted for Brexit are ridiculous and should be ignored.
All this "news" was delivered with snide sarcasm and shameless bias. I say: Good luck, Brexit brothers!

8. Brits love rules
A big difference between Brits and Americans: Brits love rules. Americans disdain them. For example, I laughed at the long posters near fences proclaiming that bikes couldn't be locked up here, along with a long list of possible penalties, etc. Given the British (and European) psyche about centralized authority and socialism, it makes the Brexit vote even more impressive.

9. Smoke em
There's much more smoking in the UK. All outdoors, of course, because they have anti-smoking rules that are similar to ours (even in pubs!). But I got no sense of the stigma toward smoking that we have here in the US.

Yes, I like this. I like it a lot. Smoke em if you got em, boys!
If the nabobs ban something, then I applaud people who say "screw you" and do it anyway.

10. Deep Positivity™
Shit, it's great to be happy and healthy. It's great to be successful and confident. It's great to be... yadda yadda. I'm a lucky guy. I even have a blog! (ha)

But there's a deeper level of satisfaction and happiness when I see my kids doing so well, leading happy and healthy lives. That's some Deep Positivity™, man. I reckon that's pretty much universal, but it's always worth mentioning. Cherry on top: my tulips are great people and great fun to be around.

I visit Tulip #2 in San Antonio next weekend.
As the Brits would say, lovely.
cheerios... yow, bill

PS - The Tower of London is so BIG, I only got half of it in this shot. The white tents are part of a festival going on that weekend.

"Half the Tower"


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