London, easyEverything and the countdown timer

The internet cafe is not as common in the US cities I frequent as it is in the European cities I visit…I’m a fan. The easyEverything shop is quite interesting in that the amount of time you get for a unit of money (in this case a british pound) changes depending on the time of day and demand. We popped in this afternoon after a day wandering the city and got 20 minutes for a pound…we bought 40 minutes and it was gone before you could get oriented at the chair!! I went downstairs to renew our accounts as erik stayed and continued working…each workstation has a countdown timer that looks like this:

Well, erik’s got down to nine seconds as I stood in line waiting to pay…as I gave the guy the money, he punched up the account info and added the time…barely saving all of erik’s hard earned work. Ahhh, the adventures of internet access.

We are now staying in Surbiton courtesy of David and Maryse O’Neill who are off in South Africa getting married. It’s unfortunate our visit with them couldn’t have been longer, but we moved our flight to make sure we got to see them at all! We are having some trouble with the rail system and ended up in Epsom last night instead of surbiton. We realized we had gotten on the last train from london and it was not heading to our correct destination!! We hopped off and queued for a taxi. The taxis were coming at a rate of about one every 20 minutes and we were easily 5 people back in line – arg! We got to talk to some people in line though and that was a lot of fun. The funniest exchange went something like this(sorry dave/maryse):
Guy in line: where you heading to?
me: surbiton
guy in line: surbiton?! well, I guess somebody has to go there!

I, of course, am not complaining at all as I get to stay in a nice place for free!

The weather is cold and rainy. This is to be expected and I was warned quite a bit about that before I ever got here. As erik and I walked around, erik pondered aloud “what advantage does london have over new york or boston, as far as the city goes?” This is a good point. London is a large city and as I’ve said before a large city is first and foremost a large city…the local culture and flair comes in second to the normal city things: large crowds, busy streets, and people asking for money from you wherever you turn. I see a few advantages to london from my viewpoint: i have some good friends here already, easy access to the continent for travel, and I already know the language! The downsides are cost of living, lower pay, and having to watch the exchange rates closely.

We ate today at a noodle shop called wagamama – it is the model of efficiency. The tables all run parallel to each other and run the length of the room. You are directed to a seat (european style with no real regard for “your” table…strangers sitting at your elbows) and the server comes by to take your drink and food order (after ample time for you to figure out what you want, of course) and punches it into a wireless device that sends the drink order to the bar and the food order to the kitchen. He then writes down the numbers of what you ordered on your paper placemat and scoots off. A moment later somebody else comes with your drink (confirming the correct location by noting the drink number noted on your placemat) and about 3 minutes later the food starts coming. All the food is cooked on demand (familiar to jack in the box fans) yet it is fast and fairly affordable.

The british airways london eye is an interesting attraction. You get to see all of the city and it is quite fancy in design and construction. We noted a couple of things that would prevent it from working in the US though.

  • The wheel keeps moving all the time…some greedy lawyer would find a way to file a lawsuit if somebody fell or something.
  • about 25 people ride at a time. This is quite comfortable. You could probably fit about 40 people in the capsule with little to no room. The 25 people per capsule number is quite generous and allows everyone to wander around the capsule and get a great view without much delay.

We had a fun night out on the town last night and got to visit with james and jayne pearce. We had a great time and got to talk about everything from air traffic control to pickup lines that are bound to fail. Here’s one from james hayward that I don’t recommend: “How much for a coffee?” Especially if the girl you are talking to is not a waitress at the place! We got a good kick out of that but I couldn’t talk him into asking her boyfriend the same thing when he walked by the table.

Well, once again the countdown has begun and time is running out on my account.

Cheers!

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