30 Jul

Drone cars for hire?

This made me consider a niche for drone car pilots–with robotic cars so far off and so many people out of work, it’s the new Uber or a chauffeur for everyone. Maybe even an easy way to get my kids to drive me around when I’m too dangerous to do it myself. (You know, like in a year or two.)

It could be a cottage industry or a variant on big customer service centers. You come to work each day, slide into a bucket seat with your coffee at hand and a screen in front of you. No texting, though.

12 Nov


It’s funny how much we need to touch a thing, even through an electromechanical surrogate, to feel deeply about it. Most of space exploration involves travel out, in, and around, and the photos, sounds, and other data bring ooohs and aaaahs, but not till “we” land do we gather round the screen and feel like we’re part of something larger. Yes, it’s a huge technical challenge to land, especially on a hurtling chunk of whistling badlands, but that’s not why the swell of emotion. It’s the difference between we saw it and we made it.

29 Sep

Eye of the Tourist: Spain Facts #1

The day after I was laid off from my job of 12 years, Deborah and I took a planned (and mostly paid for) 11 day trip sans kids to Barcelona, Toledo, and Madrid, our first time traveling together alone in more than 28 years and our first mutual trip to Europe (I’ve been to London, she’s traveled through Italy).

Presented in no particular order (recycled from yesterday’s series of Facebook and G+ posts):

Manna is made from mazapan.

Families and especially older couples walking arm in arm in the evenings is a beautiful thing.

Paola and Rudolfo at Artisticbb Madrid are some of the coolest people we met on our trip (and excellent, laid back hosts). Cheap, pretty rooms, great breakfasts, two blocks from the Prado, stumbling distance from everywhere else.

Pantomime is the universal language.


There’s no (or little) bullshit retail coffee culture. No agonizing over pulling the perfect shot. Or sniffing shots to make sure they’re perfecto (I’m looking at you, pervy mustachioed barristas at Public Domain coffee). There’s no Your coffee drink in 30 seconds or we kill another barrista. You ask for coffee, they pull the shots like lightning, and boom, Caffeine Bob’s your uncle.

Riding the bullet train is like riding in a bowl of pudding (or one of those old Cadillacs as big as a whale). It’s sad we haven’t been able to make this happen.

In an example of European innovation, men’s urinals have gull wings (they’re practically wrap-around). In an example of European independence, men still manage to pee all over the floor.

Wine is very good and very cheap. Even their 4 buck Chuck is better than our 10 dollar bottles. (Maybe they save the crap wine for Sangria–not that I cared, I was a tourist, Jim Bob, the sun was making tostada of us, and that was fruit punch from heaven.) What the hell, America? If we need to subsidize wine a bit more, let’s do it. I’d rather pay taxes to winemakers than corn and soy farmers.

If the US Republicans want a Christian nation, they need to lower the price of wine and build real cathedrals (or at least churches that reach up). I’m pretty much a panthiest and the first little Spanish cathedral I walked into had me reachin’ for imaginary rosary beads. If the Demos want to inspire us, do the same thing–just make the churches Unitarian. (It helps if you know what it takes to build stone arches that last for hundreds of years.)

When your travels become mundane (because sometimes a city is just a city), append “in Spain” to your location and feel the magic happen.