Sunday, December 31, 2006

Geneva: Day One -- A comedie of errors

So this is what I wrote on the first day of our ill-fated Geneva trip. Started off as a downer, but in the end, worked out as one of our best vacations and one of my favorite cities. Will post more for pictures. Here are first thoughts, for posterity.

A comedie of errors, as A- called it.
Vacation is hard stuff. It started with a general lack of snow that plagued europe and cancelled most of their ski events. Thus we shifted our ski in chamonix plans (also because M and A- were tired out from the holidays) to just a general paris/geneva trip (thinking that part of our flight had a paris stop over, it should be easy.

One, enroute to the airport, we got a flat tire, so we made our way home quickly (fortunately, we had given ourselves plenty of extra time so despite our dawdling, we still had time), switched cars, which was quite an ordeal as my car was out of gas and full of unused skis. Two, made it to airport on time, but somehow, new fare rules meant we weren't allowed to exit at Paris. We were forced to use the ticket or pay a $3000 penalty. How stupid is that. We had already booked/paid for a hotel in Paris. Tried hard, ran up against a wall of computer mediated bureaucracy. Three, resigned to going to Geneva, we resolved to take a train back to Paris when lo and behold our bags didn't make the connection, they were left in Paris. The irony is that as a result we couldn't go to Paris because by the time we got there, they'd wind up in Geneva. After waiting all day in the airport, until our bags arrived, all the trains sold out except for first class which costs about $500. So we decided to cut losses and stay in Geneva, at over priced (ridiculously) but still 5-star hotel that was supposed to be a last night splurge, but became a 5 night splurge.

The hotel, (Mandarin Oriental Hotel du Rhone) proved to be way past prime, (later saw only a 3.5/5 tripadivsor rating, with earnest but illinformed staff, mistakes on breakfast, ridiculously overpriced wifi ($150 for access while here), and rotting mandarin oranges in our room.

Though did finally get a good nap. Randomly found a nice local place with only one item on menu, le relais de Entrecote (perfectly cooked medium rare steak) with fries. And dined w/ locals in this amazingly cosmopolitan city.

Ended tonight with a fantastic shower though. Finally an upnote (after searching and being constantly disappointed all day). One of the best I've ever had. After a very long, dirty day (had a nice quick run at nicely appointed gym), and mm, two headed shower, nice tingly piping hot temperature controls, and nice spicy prickly shampoo and body gel. Hopefully, the rest of the trip can only be up.

Geneva (as I feared) is a boring city, (barely worth a day) but should have exciting day trips to small medieval castle towns around the lake, as well as nearby french annecy. Plus, exciting Red Cross museum on social science. Something very geneva.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Windows Vista vs OS X

The New York Times today has an annoying article today about how Vista is a rip-off of OSX. This is annoying because what no one ever notes is that OS X stole plenty from Windows 95, including opening folders in the same window, including the task bar. And desktop search, Google has had for some time.

But most annoying is the mac ads that all say Macs are better because they come packaged with lots of nifty stuff (like iphoto, imovie, etc...). Windows was moving in that direction, when anti-trust lawsuits instigated in part by Netscape and Apple forced them to stop, though of course that exact sort of "bundling" was part of Netscapes and Apples plans the whole time. Hypocrisy. (In A-'s words) Feh!

That said, Mac's are tempting. Many of my tech savvy geek friends have jumped on the bandwagon for the native Unix capabilities. If only they were lighter, I might have gotten one of their laptops, especially with the dual-boot option and just run Windows. Maybe my next laptop...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Studio 60 and the wide-eyed wonky post-cynical X-Mas spirit

Despite the show’s shaky start, I have started to grow fond of Studio 60. It is still the awkward bastard chimaera of West Wing’s plots and actors implanted into the backstage of a Saturday Night Live sketch comedy show, but the strange dissonant weirdness somehow appeals to the novelty seeking side of me.

It also still recreates a lot of what Sorkin did right in the West Wing. In Excelsis Deo, the first season Christmas episode, is regarded by many (including me) as possibly the best West Wing episode. Similarly, the Christmas episode of Studio 60 this week just worked.

Though fully acknowledging in Sorkin wonky style, the hypocrisy of a literal interpretation of Christmas, the show fully embraces the greater spirit of Christmas, as personified by the show’s Jewish headwriter, who becomes Christmas’ biggest advocate.

I know the show was saccharine cheesy, as it tried to find the nobility in all of its characters. But I liked that, the wide-eyed wonky post-cynical idealism, a picture not of the world as it is, but like West Wing, a picture of the world as it should be.

(plus the music rocked)