Breakfast potluck

Sometimes Dad hits the nail on the head. From his weekend email report today: “I just finished wading through the email that had accumulated over the weekend, including a whole bunch of spam and some of those sickening sweet inspirational things that would probably make Jesus puke.” He went on to talk about shooting pistols and give a weather report, so if you think my blog posts are random, you ought to try my dad’s email. (Hi, Pop!)

Sounds about right to me. And with that, I’ll continue my breakfast bloggage with a hodge-podge of accumulated observations:

Even luxury gets monotonous. Today I couldn’t face another breakfast of incredibly good lox with horseradish, capers, and minced onion on whole-grain bread. I’m having yogurt and muesli instead, and here’s a yogurt flavor I’ve never thought of: concord grape and coconut. It’s good! It’s white! We’re not in Kansas anymore.

Costs are all over the map here. I turned in several pairs of socks, 5 pairs underwear, two shirts, and a pair of pants to the hotel laundry yesterday. W75,000, about $75. Yesterday in Itaewon I bought five pairs of black dress socks with CK, Hermes, Boss, and Gucci logos (you might note that I’m not calling them CK, Hermes, Boss, and Gucci socks, although they might be) for W10,000, or about $2 a pair. Countless tailors offered to make me custom suits (ladies suits! dresses! you want blazer?!) for $200 or so. (Naturally I had to choose a tailor charging almost twice that, but even so it’s a bargain–I asked about custom suits in San Francisco once and got an answer with four digits, and the first one wasn’t a one, or even a two. No wonder the guy was skeptical about my interest!) Lesson? I should have thrown away my laundry and bought new instead. Oh, well.

Another contradiction: strangers throughout Japan and Korea call me “sir,” yet the tailors in Itaewon yesterday were offering to make me dresses. I can’t help chuckling over how somehow both are wrong.

What is it with hotel art? Why do they even bother? It’s not like anyone ever appreciates it. We either ignore it or despise it. The art in this hotel is innocuous–a vaguely modern abstract in the living room zone, and two small, vaguely antiquey things (one diagramming a parachute, another seashells) in overly ornate gilded frames hanging in the bathroom of all places.

Hoteliers have a hard job. If the rooms aren’t beautiful, we whine, but if they are beautiful, we don’t notice them–we really just sleep, bathe, and dress in them. That is, we sleep if they’ve gotten the things that matter right: comfortable bed, sheets that aren’t itchy, and a way to get the room dark, by which I mean so dark you can’t find the Kleenex on your bedstand. My bedroom at home has loads of light all night long, and it rarely bothers me, but when I’m on the road, my room needs to be dark, because jet lag asks for the tiniest of opportunities to keep me awake.

Why do we say “on the road” and “road warrier” when it’s all about airplanes?

Jet lag is weird. I fly to the East Coast for a week, a meager three hour time difference, and my sleep schedule is messed up for two weeks, but I can come halfway around the world and be fine almost immediately. The nice thing about flying to Asia is you arrive tomorrow evening exhausted from the 11+ hour flight, so you go to sleep, you wake up 8-9 hours later, it’s morning, and you’re switched over, as long as you don’t think to much about how it’s already the day after tomorrow. For me, jetlag in Asia means I wake up every morning around 4am, then sleep some more until about 7am, after which I’m awake for the day. I’m not a morning person in real life, but it’s convenient that business travel makes me one. A week into the trip, I finally slept until my alarm went off at 8am, so I guess I’m getting adjusted–more’s the pity, since it means I didn’t have time for the gym this morning.

Flying back home from Asia is brutal. It’s a slightly shorter flight (something to do with headwinds vs. tailwinds) and you arrive home two hours before you left, and it’s morning, and somehow you have to stay awake for another 16 hours or else your sleep will be hopelessly screwed up for weeks. Since I’m coming home to a week of orchestra gigs and then three-plus weeks in Europe, I can’t afford that, so anybody who has ideas for fun things to make me do to keep me awake on Saturday is welcome to sign up for babysitting slots.

Please, I’m serious about this. Come keep me awake on Saturday. Last time I flew home from Korea (in 1992) I became desparate for diversions the second evening and ended up putting myself in the emergency room to be sewn back up after a bicycle repair accident. Thanks to the trip, I’d just had a tetanus booster and got to astonish the series of residents and interns who came in get my history by answering with great precision a question most people can only guess about. For those of you who are know scratching your heads (I guess I flatter myself that a few people might read this blog, even though nobody ever comments to cop to it), you probably need one–boosters every ten years, folks.

I love nanotechnology. I just spilled espresso on my “nanocare” or whatever they call it semi-plastic (insert brand name here) khaki slacks and wiped it off with my napkin.