I have discovered the tram network, so I took it to the Royal Gardens and the Castle. (Also, apparently, to the president's residence, but the Czech army dissuaded me from exploring that area.) I wish we had something like this in Chicago, but then again, we don't have anything like this in Chicago either:
I took a short (5.5 km) walk and ended with a Czech open-faced egg sandwich:
For the record, I didn't stop in the Sex Machines Museum, tempting as that sounded. Stopping ever few meters to take photos didn't help my time. Neither did the perfect weather.
I did stroll around the Czech Senate grounds, which felt a lot different than our Capitol Hill:
It almost felt as if our Senate sits in a building designed to dominate the city around it, while Czechia's sits in a walled garden. There's some profound political theory in there, I'm sure.
I'm in a European-sized hotel room in a European-sized city. I'm also exhausted. But I did get out of Heathrow for about an hour and a quarter, and walked around Ealing a bit:
And now I'm here:
More tomorrow. I'm pooped.
I just got from the curb to the lounge in 18 minutes. No kidding: my bag check line was empty, and so was the TSA Pre-Check queue. I should point out, no other queues were empty; in fact, it looked like the general security queue is long enough to gestate an elephant.
So, at least for the first hour of my vacation, things completely fail to suck.
Boarding pass from Chicago to Heathrow in app? Check.
Boarding pass from Heathrow to Prague in app? Check.
Packed? Uh...sure, once this laundry is done...
I'm serious: I couldn't have planned it better. Remember how I said I booked the early (4:50pm) flight because I wanted to fly on one of British Airways' brand-new 787-10 airplanes, and they swapped it out for one of they're old-ass 777s? Well, I woke up this morning to an email saying that the old-ass 777 won't actually make the trip after all, so they shoved me onto the next available flight on American.
After a not-so-quick call to American Airlines (them, because they issued the original ticket, and long, because British Airways screwed up the rebooking), they got me on the 9:15pm flight on a relatively-new Airbus 380. More to the point, instead of getting in at 6:30 am BST (12:30 am Chicago time), I'm now arriving at the much more humane hour of 11 am BST (5 am Chicago time).
That also puts me much closer to the bag-check time for my flight to Prague, and I'll still have enough time to get out of Heathrow for a bit. I hope.
If not, I have airline status with both American and BA, so the worst case is I cool my heels in the first-class lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3. Not ideal, but not like sitting in genpop with my luggage for 10 hours.
Updates as the situation warrants.
I haven't even left yet and already I've encountered three noteworthy irritations about the first 12 hours of my vacation, two of them involving British Airways and one involving Transport for London. (This will no doubt shock my readers in the UK.)
First, I chose an early-ish flight out of Chicago because when I booked it, BA planned to fly one of their brand-spanking-new 787-10 airplanes with their brand-spanking-new business class seats. But when I reconfirmed my seat yesterday (not my first time flying BA, you'll note), I learned that they will instead fly one of their old-ass 777s with their old-ass seats—and they put me in an aisle seat, which I did not want. I moved my seat without difficulty, but now I'm getting in to Heathrow at 6:35 am for no bloody reason. And because I used American Airlines miles for the trip, I may not be able to change to the later flight. (I don't know for sure because BA's customer service system is offline and won't be back up for a couple of hours.)
Second, they won't check my bag through to my final destination because my London to Prague flight is a separate booking. So my decision to take a 10-hour layover in London has hit a snag, unless I can somehow check my bag when I arrive. At 6:35 am. BA has helpfully suggested I can pay £209 to take an earlier flight, however. FFS.
But third, that might not even matter, because the Piccadilly Tube is shut down between Heathrow and Acton Town all weekend. If I do get my bag sorted, though, it'll be my chance to try out the new Elizabeth Line. At 7am. Which is 1am Chicago time.
So instead of flying to London on BA's newest airplane, leaving my bag at Heathrow for a few hours while I wander London on a beautiful late-spring morning, then coming back to Terminal 3 on the good ol' Piccadilly Line...I may spend several hours in the Terminal 5 Arrivals lounge waiting for my Prague flight to open for bag check.
Thank you for your assistance in these matters, British Airways. And TfL too! You guys rock!
As the right featherweights of the right wing of the Republican House delegation play chicken with the world economy, a Federal Court in Boston weighs a lawsuit demanding the President's chicken starts driving a snowblower*:
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Stearns set a May 31 hearing on a lawsuit filed by a federal workers union contending that the 14th Amendment empowers Biden and other officials to sidestep the standoff with Congress that has threatened a potential default.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the so-called X-date for a default could come as soon as June 1, just one day after the scheduled arguments on the National Association of Government Employees’ request for a preliminary injunction requiring Yellen to keep paying bills — and salaries — as usual.
[Justice Department lawyer Alexander] Ely said he was not authorized to stake out a position on that question and he suggested that the department would argue that the union’s suit is not a proper vehicle to force DOJ to come to a legal conclusion.
“This requires high-level coordination among the U.S. government,” said Ely.
But an attorney for the union, Thomas Geoghegan, pointed out that the claims of an imminent cataclysm from a possible default originate with the very officials named as defendants in the suit.
Josh Marshall says the veritable excrement is inbound at high speed to the ventilation device:
There’s a really stunning report out from the Journal last night. Corporate bonds at some of America’s top-rated companies are now trading at a yield discount to Treasuries. This isn’t quite the same as investors thinking U.S. corporate debt is safer over time. It’s focused on the what happens over the next few months rather than where you put money over time. But it’s still a stunning development, cutting at the very architecture of the world financial system and the United States’ position as its gravitational center.
To put it in layman’s terms, if you need a place to put money over the course of this summer and you need it to be as safe as possible, investors are deciding Microsoft’s corporate bonds are more attractive than bonds issued by the U.S. Treasury.
It’s a clarifying perspective on the impact of GOP extremism and nihilism on the nation’s finances and global power.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) continues to pretend he has any actual sway over the arsonists in his caucus.
I'm going to be out of the country on June 1st. I sure hope the Government continues to pay air-traffic controllers and Customs officials until I get home...
* The metaphor works if you think about it, but yeah, it's gruesome.
A family of red foxes has taken up residence in Millennium Park, Chicago:
The fox family “just walked right in” to the popular downtown park a couple weeks back, said Kathryn Deery, head horticulturalist at the park’s Lurie Garden. The family — two adults and four babies — typically pops out when the park is less crowded in the mornings and evenings.
Deery has watched the “adorable” baby foxes, known as kits, wrestle in the garden and play with food as their parents hunt for rabbits, birds, rodents and plants.
Foxes have been spotted at Lurie Garden over the years, but there’s never been a full family quite like this, Deery said. The garden workers plan to put signs to educate people about the animals and their habitat.
Go to the article for information on foxes, but stay for the photos. They're adorable.
The roofing project continues apace, taking advantage of an exceptionally lovely bit of weather this week. So, yay us, new roof and all. But I'm trying to work at home today—my last WFH day until June 8th, in fact—and the roofers have devised new ways to make it suck.
First came the generator. I don't know whatever reason they needed to put a large generator outside my office window, but there it sat for about 90 minutes. Closing my window helped the noise but not the temperature (remember, they relocated my air conditioners to put roof under them), and a generator makes a lot of noise that can go right through a wall.
The generator finally stopped around 10:30. Finally! I opened the window again and got back to it, until just a few minutes ago when I detected they had started spreading tar right outside my window. Fortunately, this appears to be the final stage of the actual roof replacement, so I expect my home office will be perfectly serviceable again in time for me to work downtown tomorrow and Thursday.
I'm also getting a headache from the VOCs in the tar.
This may be a good time to take Cassie for her lunchtime walk.