Of Planes and Rain and Atomic Alerts

After a whirlwind adventure around the globe, I am finally ready to go to sleep in Waging. I don't really know how long it's been since I slept... maybe a day or so. I'm still functional and everything - actually a little more than I would be had I spent the entire night studying.

Here are a few observations from my travels:
1) Whit was right! At least, I think it was Whit. I remember someone describing mysterious vehicles at Dulles airport. The conversation went something like this:

"So, it's a tram?"
"No, not a tram - there's no track."
"Ah, we call that a bus."
"No, it's way bigger than a bus - the cabin is like 20ft off the ground"
"so, it's the body of an AT-AT with huge wheels instead of legs?"
"basically, yes"

Here's a pic of the beastie - ripped from Google Image search:

2) You are now asked to pre-board a plane. I know this sounds like a George Carlin routine (it might be, actually) but what the hell is pre-boarding? You're either in the plane or you're not - there really isn't an appreciable quantum flux between the two. If they mean "line up" then the French have already come up with a brilliant word for that - "queue."

3) Stepping into London-Heathrow is like stepping into Hell. First of all, it breaks the cardinal rule of places-I-am-forced-to-sit-for-long-periods-of-time: There's no free wifi. Second of all, things are so bass-ackwards right now that you get off the plane in the middle of, well, a plane parking lot, then you get on a bus that takes you to the airport. Then you go through some sort of Einstein-Rosen bridge into an alternate dimension of helpful signage slapped onto a completely unhelpful building. Once you've been waling for half an hour, you begin to think the signs are just toying with you - like Garrett Steele is in a booth somewhere - in a white lab coat, thoughtfully jotting things down on a clipboard. Finally, because there don't seem to be nearly enough terminals for the number of flights, you have to wait until 20-30 minutes before departure before you figure out just where your plane is. Of course, this leads to what I call the "Heathrow Shuffle" where despairing passengers walk from their seats to the departure screens, then back to the seats, then back to the screens.

4) You can drive really, really fast in Germany. In the rain. With an American passenger who learned quickly to abandon all fear, lest he actually leave a crease in the passenger seat.

5) I am the bringer of water - apparently it hadn't rained a drop in Waging until I arrived. Stay tuned as I wrestle sand-worms and lead a guerrilla uprising.

6) I am the bringer of nuclear accidents - there was a coolant leak at a nuclear power plant in Slovenia. When something like that happens, an alert scrolls across the bottom of the television screen - which is fun, if your German is really bad and all you can parse is "europaweiten Atomalarm" (Europe-wide atomic alarm). Initial reports look like there's nothing to be worried about - but initial reports always look like that

Today, my towel came in handy for: drying my hands