Among other parts of a very busy summer, I spent a lengthy holiday in Europe with family. It was delightful, as European holidays are. It is a far cry from sitting on a beach in the Caribbean with your toes in the sand and a drink in your hand. Accordingly, I would not call our trip relaxing in the traditional sense of the word. Everyone wanted to see a lot, so we saw a lot. That meant we spent some early mornings jamming semi-clean clothes into the suit case and sprinting out the door for the train to the next stop. Still, it was amazing and perspective-bending. Here are my thoughts…..
- Paris has got to be on the short list for greatest city in the world. This is not opinion; this is fact. Forget what you’ve read or heard about rude locals. Yes, they exist, just like they do in New York. Have you been to Miami? That’s where New Yorkers go to get tan and even more angry. The lion’s share of Parisians are warm and welcoming. They will gladly help you get the right ticket in a Metro station or recommend their favorite restaurant.
- France is covered with soldiers toting body armor and machine guns. I’m sad they have to do that, but I’m glad they do.
- They don’t dig ice on the continent. I get it. Just the same, would it kill you to give me enough so that it doesn’t all melt in three minutes?
- Water. They are screwing this up. Tap water is treated like a precious commodity. I know you make money on the bottled stuff. At $9, who wouldn’t? Cut it out. I need to hydrate. Give me water and lots of it. When my water is empty, bring me more.
- The public transportation is incredible. I would gladly park my car and never drive again if given the option.
- I ate like a king and lost weight. There is a lot of walking.
- Speaking of eating, cheese plates for dessert? I’m in, thank you. And the cheese doesn’t come with crackers, so don’t ask. You get a fork and a baguette. And a block of salted butter the size of a car battery. Again, I’m in.
- Cappuccino and croissant for breakfast every day? Sure. I will.
- In spite of all the above, you simply don’t see obese people. It defies logic. I’ve heard all the theories, I just don’t know which ones are true.
- Also in spite of the above, smoking is very much still a thing. I don’t get it. I thought the French smoked a lot. Then I went to Italy. Smoking in Italy is not just a thing, it is the thing. Standing next to a member of the polizia while flicking the remnants of your still lit cigarette onto the train tracks does not even raise an eyebrow.
- Never mind that it is land-locked – the Swiss won the real estate sweepstakes. Nothing should be that scenic. It also turns out that they did well not to adopt the Euro. Switzerland is an absolute financial pummeling. It costs money just to breathe.
- Never assume that the amount of money you spend on a hotel correlates to quality. Your expectations will surely lead to disappointment.
- I love their commitment to maximizing their time out of doors. Whether a picnic in the park, an espresso in a Venetian plaza, or a glass of wine on the banks of the Seine, they are all in.
- It’s easy to forget how far north the heart of Europe is. Paris is north of Montreal. London’s latitude is the same as Adak, Alaska.
- Croatians are incredibly friendly, the dollar goes a long way, and the coastline is stunning. Go there. While you are there, eat a burek. You can thank me later.
- Although our geography is largely to blame, we are woefully behind in the world of languages. It embarrasses me to be around people who speak multiple languages when I can’t even say thank you in theirs.
On a more somber note…
This election cycle has put me in a foul mood. I don’t even like to discuss it, because my would mood worsens until I am borderline despondent. For the first time in a long time, I have no idea who is going to benefit from my pull of the lever. I really don’t. Assuming no viable third-party candidate comes along to save the day – a miracle for which I pray every day – we are most assuredly in a lose-lose situation. The only moderately sound arguments I hear for either side is “at least we’ll get another Supreme Court pick” or “at least she’s not him”. We should expect more. We deserve more. This is what the greatest nation on earth puts forward as options to fill the highest office in the land?
Trump is an idiot. It amazes me that he made as much money as he did. Note that I didn’t call him successful. Can you imagine him handing out a Medal of Honor? I can’t. His ego will be his undoing, as if it hasn’t already undone him. His only redeeming quality is that he speaks his mind before checking the results of polling and focus groups. That’s it. I need more.
Which should make Hillary the logical choice, right? Not really. I can’t get past the fact that she should no longer have access to classified material. I am not a conspiracy theorist, nor am I a Clinton-hater. I think she has many admirable traits. Regardless, if she was a LT in an FA-18 squadron sending TS/SCI e-mails from a Gmail account on her iPhone, she would have lost her security clearances. Every one of them. The Navy stripped clearances from officers who were alleged to have had dinner with a contractor while on a WESTPAC. Should we not hold the presumptive Commander-in-Chief to the same standard? It’s despicable, as is the so-called party of tolerance’s “taco bowl engagement” to secure Hispanic votes.
I’m expecting to be horribly disappointed at the election’s end. My only remaining hope is that, like an alcoholic, we have hit rock-bottom as a political nation and can use this debacle as our wake up call. The two-party system is irreparably broken and no longer suits our country’s needs. I cannot further stomach the requirement for a candidate to adhere to an all-or-nothing menu of political beliefs.
And on yet one more note…
It should be obvious to even the most casual observer that it’s time for me to officially put this blog into Park (of the P-R-N-D) variety. It’s pretty much there already. If not, it’s in neutral on flat ground with chocks firmly in place. Anyone who follows (or followed) this blog and even periodically checks to see if there is anything new deserves more than I can offer.
Just so it’s clear, this is not an event, nor is there any agenda or nefarious background. I simply don’t have the time. Because I don’t have the time, it feels like a nagging obligation, and therefore too much like work. It doesn’t help that I spend a lot of my day at a computer, just like many of you do. I also do a lot of writing at work, and so my desire to sit at a computer at night or on the weekends is non-existent. In short, it’s not you, it’s me.
There is not to be an emotion-laced farewell. I will re-emerge with published material either here, on LinkedIn, some media outlet, or perhaps even back here at this site. I will keep it active and simply turn off the comments for now. Please know that I have enjoyed the dialogues we’ve had via this platform, and that I treasure still your readership and participation. It has meant a great deal to me.