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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day Two - On the Ground in London

Now that I've shifted my internal clock, I see London as a human rather than the walking dead.  My day started like any other, which surprised the hell out of me.  I thought for sure I would wake up at some stupid hour and curse myself, but I woke up at...7a?  How is this possible?  Sleep deprivation the day before - works every time!

Since I didn't have any official business until 9:30a, I decided some early morning exercise would be in order.  They have a lovely fitness center here at the Park Plaza Victoria.  I jumped on a treadmill and started to run.  After about 30 seconds, I found myself saying, "WTF!"  Here I am in London and I'm running in front of a video screen.  So, I shut the thing down and headed outside.  I started down Vauxhall Bridge Road towards the Thames.  I figured I can't get lost running down the street the hotel is on.

Along the way, I passed the morning commuters on their way to work.  There were also many children in their cute little monkey suits on their way to school.  Some of the older kids were enjoying an early morning fag while waiting for the bus.  Some things are the same everywhere.   At 5P a pack (that's over $7.50 for us Yanks), it's an expensive way to kill yourself.

When I got the the Thames, I decided to turn right and run along the river.  This turned out to be a good move because I didn't need to stop for cross traffic.  Apparently, I was the last person to figure this out because there were lots of runners along the river.  Some of them had packs on their backs.  At first, I thought they were doing some sort of special training.  Then, it dawned on me - they are running to work.  I hope they work alone for their coworkers' sakes. As I stopped to turn around, I looked across the river and I swear I saw the factory from the cover of Pink Floyd's Animals album.  No flying pigs, though.

Upon my return, I, unlike my working class counterparts, showered.  Breakfast consisted of English bacon (looked like overcooked ham to me) with pineapple on it, fried potatoes with mushrooms on them, grapefruit slices and juice, a croissant, and tea.  I could have had beans on toast, but I'm saving that one for another day.

I enjoyed some nice sessions of the conference I'm attending, the details of which I will spare my readers.  It was fun meeting people from around the world.  I talked with people from Sweden, Germany, Canada and, of course, the U.K (England and Ireland - no Scots yet).

After an overpriced scotch (getting warmed up for Scotland) at the hotel, I was joined by my friend Larry from Ann Arbor who was recently transferred by his employer, Google, to London.  We enjoyed dinner at a local Thai restaurant.  The food was quite good and the portions where characteristically European, which probably explains why the obesity problem isn't quite as bad here, although it's the worst in Europe according to the morning talk show I had on earlier.  The restaurant was staffed by the most beautiful Thai people.  Only in one of the greatest melting pots on the planet could you field such a first rate home team.  I imagine an advert for Thai people and having 200 show up from which they selected only the most fit.  Try that in Detroit.  I don't think so.

Tomorrow is the first REAL day of the conference.  I'm hoping to see actual sites after the day's events.  Buckingham Palace is apparently only a few blocks away, so I would probably be soundly chastised for not not at least stopping by.

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