About the Lung Cancer

I had an appointment with a thoracic surgeon yesterday and now have a pretty good idea of what the surgery would be like if I were to opt for that.  I still don’t have any understanding of what radiation treatment would be like, nor a likely prognosis if I were to do nothing at all.  I might hear more about that tomorrow or Friday.

At present, I’m thinking that I’d want to just be put in some kind of hospice care where I’d be kept as comfortable as is legally possible in a red state until I faded away.  I’m not afraid of “being dead” since I don’t think that there will be any me to be dead.  It’s probably a pretty good guess that I won’t like the process of dying; but that’s going to happen in any event; and it might be easier if it happens in a controlled way rather than unexpectedly (like a heart attack or something).  Also, since there’s nobody who depends on me for anything, it’s not like I’d be selfishly leaving anyone behind.

We’ll see how it goes…

I Did a Stupid Thing

I expect to be taking a trip to Hawaiʻi in November [current itinerary]; and with a remarkable (and I hope uncharacteristic) lack of impulse control, I inquired about chartering a plane for the round trip.*

It turns out that I’d need at least a mid-sized jet in order to carry enough fuel to get from the west coast of the Americas half way across the Pacific; and I was given an estimate that, at the high end, is almost one third of my net worth.

The guy I spoke to said that he’d get back to me with a more detailed price, but I haven’t heard from him yet as I write this.  I hope that he figured out that I’m not in the group from which he gets his regular customers, and that he doesn’t have to waste any more time on the likes of me. 😎

*Since I might not be around much longer than that for medical reasons, and since there’s nobody else who depends on this extreme introvert for anything, I briefly thought that it would be OK to significantly spend down my savings on a whim.  On further reflection, I finally got it through my thick skull that a nice donation to a charity (which my current will provides) would actually do some good, and spewing all that carbon into the atmosphere for one fool’s convenience would actually do some bad.  I’ll stick with conventional first-class travel, which is flamboyant enough, and which would happen whether or not I were along for the ride.

ChatGPT Fun

On an Amtrak-related e-mail list that I frequent (AllAboardRailDiscussion@groups.io if you care), one of the regulars had a bit of fun with ChatGPT.  I found it amusing; and since ChatGPT has come up on FtB before, I thought I’d repost it here with the author’s permission.

Alan Klein:

Explain how to change a piston in the General Motors 16-567D diesel engine, using the language of the Old Testament


In the days of old, when the General Motors 16-567D diesel engine was in need of repair, behold, the changing of a piston required a process as intricate as the weaving of fine linen.  Let me recount to you the steps, as if told in the language of the Old Testament.

1.  Verily, gather the necessary tools and prepare the sacred space.  Anoint your hands with oil, and set the engine in a state of rest upon a foundation of solid ground.

2.  Unfasten the bolts that bind the cylinder head and separate it from the engine block.  Lo, the power of your arm shall overcome the grip of the fasteners, as Samson overcame the Philistines.

3.  Once the cylinder head is removed, thou shalt find the piston nestled within the chamber, encased in rings of steel.  Take heed, for the rings must be removed, as a warrior discards his armor before battle.

4.  Carefully, with the precision of a master craftsman, remove the wrist pin that connects the piston to the connecting rod.  As Moses parted the Red Sea, thou shalt separate the piston from its mighty connection.

5.  Now, with the old piston removed, place the new piston upon the altar of the engine block.  Align the rings upon the piston, ensuring they are in their proper order and seated with care.

6.  Inscribe the wrist pin into its ordained position, uniting the piston with the connecting rod.  Let not the pin falter, for it is the bond that shall withstand the fires of combustion.

7.  Once the piston is in place, return the cylinder head to its rightful position.  Tighten the bolts with the strength of Samson, ensuring a firm and secure union between head and block.

8.  Finally, breathe life into the engine once more.  Ignite the fire within, and may the pistons move with the grace of David‘s harp, producing the melodious symphony of power and efficiency.

Thus, with the guidance of ancient wisdom and a touch of modern knowledge, thou shalt have changed a piston in the General Motors 16-567D diesel engine.  May your endeavors be fruitful, and may the spirit of the Old Testament guide your mechanical pursuits.

Varna Trip Report, days twelve and thirteen

[day −1]
[day 0]
[day 1]
[day 2]
[day 3]
[day 4]
[day 5]
[days 6 & 7]
[days 8 & 9]
[day 10]
[day 11]

2023-06-19 05:30−4:

There wouldn’t be enough time for breakfast in the hotel restaurant before I would want to check out, but there was a kind of coffee shop that opened at 05:30 where I got a Danish pastry to hold me over for a while.


I checked out of the hotel and caught a taxi to South Station.

I had originally booked the accessible bedroom in the Lake Shore Limited’s Boston section; but because of track work, my reservation had been changed to a bus from Boston to Albany-Rensselaer where I would board 449.  Since I would rather ride a train than a bus, I changed my reservation several weeks ago to Northeast Corridor train 171 to New York and then the Ethan Allan Express train 291 to Rensselaer.

The station is actually in Rensselaer, NY, just across the river from Albany.

I arrived at South Station fairly early intending to head to the Metropolitan Lounge to let somebody know that I wouldn’t be on the bus to Rensselaer.  I was worried that my reservation from Rensselaer would be cancelled when I was a no-show for the bus.

The lounge hadn’t opened yet because nobody had showed up, so I went to the ticket counter to explain my concern, but the guy I talked to had no clue what I was talking about.  The Met. Lounge opened up a few minutes after that, so I went up there and the lounge attendant assured me that everything was OK with my reservation and that I wouldn’t be expected on the bus.  Since I had a same-day sleeper ticket on 449 out of Rensselaer, I was allowed to wait in the Met. Lounge, have a cup of coffee, and get caught up on the Internet.  I was hoping for another sweet roll or something, but Boston’s Met. Lounge doesn’t put out breakfast-style munchies, just chips and such.  That’s not up to the standards that I remember from earlier trips.


About fifteen minutes before 171’s scheduled departure, I headed down to the train.  The biz.-class car was the first one I came to, so that would be the last car on the train.  The quiet car was right in front of that, then a bunch of coaches, and the café car all the way in front.  I wasn’t about to walk the whole train just to get to the café, so no breakfast for me except for the Danish I’d had back at the hotel.


We departed right on time.  I had a seat on the fireman’s side, so I got to look at all the boats along the shore (when Amtrak’s Shore Line is actually running along the shore, mostly just in eastern Connecticut).


The trip to New York City was uneventful, and we arrived a couple of minutes early.

I had the redcap take me to the baggage checking place where I checked one bag on train 49 all the way to St. Louis.  The baggage guy didn’t want to do that because Amtrak’s reservation system doesn’t recognize 49 as a connection to 449 even though it’s the same damn train departing Rensselaer.  The redcap was helpful to me in convincing the baggage guy that it would be OK.

Once I was rid of my larger bag, I had only my walker and the smaller bag that I’d have with me on the next train, and so I thanked and tipped the redcap.

I went to the Met. Lounge hoping that the attendant would be able to give me a coach seat on 49 which would give me more time in New York to compose this post, but she was a newbie and couldn’t be convinced that 49 and 449 were the same train, so I’m still on 291 from New York to Rensselaer.

The Met. Lounge in New York is fancier than the one in Boston, but none of the food looked appetizing.  I guess I’ll have a late lunch from the café on 291.

ca. 14:00:

Train 291 started boarding and I didn’t need redcap assistance to get me to the train, but I asked at the redcap counter for directions to the elevator down to the track 5 platform.  I’m glad I did because I never would have found it without knowing where to go from the start.  I boarded 291 with only about five minutes to spare.

291 has a café car like the ones I’m used to on the Chicago-St. Louis-Kansas City corridor trains:  a café counter in the middle, tables at the end of the car nearest the coaches, and very comfortable 2-1 biz.-class seating on the other side.  All the 1-up seats were taken by the time I boarded, but I wound up with two seats to myself for the whole trip to Rensselaer.


We departed New York on-time.  The café didn’t open until 15:20, so there was no time for anything real to eat.  I just had a coke and a bag of pretzels.


After another uneventful ride, we arrived in Albany-Rensselaer about four minutes early.  I made a beeline to the ticket counter where I was assured that I still had my accessible bedroom on 449 even though I wasn’t on the bus from Boston.

There’s a little coffee shop in the Rensselaer station where I had some mac and cheese and a hotdog…not much of a meal, but it was the best that they could do for me.

I’ll have about a two-hour wait for 449.

ca. 18:30:

Boarding 449 started.

It turned out that the 449 equipment had deadheaded from Sunnyside Yard in Queens today, so I probably could even have gotten in my room in New York; but there was no way I could have explained that to any of the ticket agents there.  (I find it a bit disconcerting that J. Random Passenger knows more about Amtrak operations than Amtrak employees do.  Oh, well…)

The 449 sleeper is all the way in the front of the train, so I had a bit of a hike.  As expected, I’m in a Viewliner I accessible bedroom; so I still have no idea what the Viewliner II arrangement is.

I elected not to have dinner from the “flexible dining menu”.  The café car is the next car back, but I didn’t really want anything from that either.

We were basically on-time all the way to Syracuse where I went to bed a little bit hungry, which is probably good for me once in a while.

2023-06-20, ca. 05:00:

I woke up for the stop in Cleveland where we were running about one hour late.

The TA hadn’t made any coffee and didn’t have any extra bottles of water out:  we were supposed to go to the café which was the next car back, so that was OK.  I also got a rather large blueberry muffin for breakfast which was just as good as anything that the TA would have brought me from the “dining car”.

Dolly:  “The Americans have something they call muffins, but they’re just tea cakes with raisins!”
Miss Marple:  “The Americans certainly have a lot to answer for.”
— Agatha Christie, The Body in the Library


We stayed about one hour late for the rest of the trip; and thanks to schedule padding, we arrived in Chicago about half an hour late.  I had thought that they might have shortened the dwell time in Toledo, but that didn’t happen.  In any event, I had plenty of time to make the connection to the last train of my trip.

ca. 11:30:

I opted for a slice of pizza from Sbarro’s for lunch.


The Texas Eagle started boarding, and we departed right on time.  We didn’t get delayed on the Canadian National tracks between Chicago and Joliet this time, and stayed basically on-time all the way to St. Louis.

For some reason, the café car didn’t open until 15:00, already twenty minutes passed Joliet.

I had popped for a roomette in the sleeper on train 21, so I’d be comfortable on my last leg of the trip, and I’d at least get one of the reheated meals in the “diner” for supper.  When the LSA showed up making dinner reservations, he apparently was a newbie as well, and my TA, who I guess was also qualified as an SA, had to help him with filling out the food ticket.  I opted for the baked ziti and meatballs.

TA – train attendant, the crew who assist passengers in the sleepers and coaches.
SA – service attendant, the food service crew.
LSA – lead service attendant.

After a while, the LSA showed up again to say that my dinner selection wouldn’t be available.  Since we had just started the trip, it’s not like they ran out; and I have no idea what their excuse was.  I decided on the short ribs and mashed potatoes which turned out to be not too bad.


Nothing much out of the ordinary happened on this leg either; and thanks to schedule padding, after a brief stop to align a switch which hadn’t been set correctly to get us on the right track, we arrived in St. Louis about twenty minutes early.

It took about half an hour for the checked baggage to make it to the baggage claim area in the station, but I finally got my bag (the baggage guy in New York had done the right thing after all) and drove home on city streets rather than blast down I-55.

About all I could do when I got home was some minimal unpacking.  I listened to the Cardinals’ game on the radio (they lost again) and crawled into bed, which is why writing this report and posting it had to wait until the next morning.

I still owe the blog a report about how the meetings went in Varna.  2023-07-12:  I got sidetracked by the cancer business and don’t really remember much about the meeting.  I’ll try to do better after the next trip in November.

Varna Trip Report, day eleven

[day −1]
[day 0]
[day 1]
[day 2]
[day 3]
[day 4]
[day 5]
[days 6 & 7]
[days 8 & 9]
[day 10]

2023-06-18 06:30+2:

When I checked in at the hotel, I had declined the “breakfast included” option because I doubted that I’d have 21€ worth of food.  What I hadn’t been told is that the breakfast buffet would be the only option until lunch time.  I had breakfast anyway; and when I went by the front desk to inform them that I had done that and still needed to pay, I discovered that the price would now be 26€. 8-(

My Icelandair flight to Keflavík doesn’t depart until 14:10, so I won’t need to check out of the hotel until 11:00 or so.  That will give me plenty of time to catch up on the usual on-line reading and to craft readable prose for, and publish, my day-10 report.


I asked at the information counter where Icelandair’s check-in place is, and they told me number 2.  When I got there, they told me that Icelandair wasn’t there yet, and I’d have to wait until 11:30.  At 11:30, still no Icelandair.  I asked again, and a very nice woman behind the counter looked it up and said I should go to check-in 0.  I didn’t even know that there was such a place, but I was directed to go through a door to security and saw the check-in 0 sign just above the door.  I never would have found that just searching around.

As expected, I checked one bag; and they put a baggage tag on my walker and told me where to sit to wait for the wheelchair assistance.  It took a good fifteen or twenty minutes for them to arrive; but when they did, I followed the wheelchair guy to the bulky baggage check-in place where they took my walker; then I got wheeled to a first-class lounge.

In the lounge, I had a couple of meatballs, some rice, and some Pepsi Max; but I didn’t want to eat very much because I’d get fed again on the plane.

ca 13:20+2:

Another wheelchair guy showed up to take me to the gate, and after a wait of about ten minutes or so, down the jetway to the plane.  This airplane has nine rows of what one expects for business-class seating.  I’m in seat 2D on the aisle on the copilot’s side in the second row.  (Do airline folks talk about the pilot’s and copilots’s sides of the plane.  I’m guessing that they actually say “port” and “starboard”.  I’ll have to ask somebody.)


We landed in Keflavík right on the advertised.

There was no wheelchair at the plane’s door.  I had to walk the entire length of the jetway, stopping once for about 30 seconds to lean on my carry-on bag’s handle for a bit, where I met the wheelchair person who took me to the Saga Class lounge.

My flight to Boston doesn’t leave until 19:05Z, so another wheelchair will come for me around 18:20 or so.  I’ll have about two hours to wait.

I didn’t want any food; but I found a place where I could get my computer out and write, and proofread, this post up to this point.

ca. 18:50:

My wheelchair still hasn’t shown up and, particularly scary, my flight has disappeared from the departure board.  I started to ask about the flight at the Saga Lounge desk when the wheelchair person arrived without the wheelchair.  She had to go someplace to get one.  I asked about the flight not being on the screen any more, but the lounge attendant just sat there without saying anything.

After heading through passport control (I’m now leaving the Schengen area), we headed for the gate where passengers were standing in a boarding line, but the line wasn’t moving.  My being in a wheelchair allowed me to cut in line right behind another passenger needing assistance.  We stayed there for ten or fifteen minutes with no clue what was happening.

After a while, I got wheeled down the jetway to the plane, but they still weren’t ready for us.  If I hadn’t had the wheelchair, I’d have been hurting.  It’s not walking that’s a problem for me; it’s that my back doesn’t want me verticle for more than a few minutes without having something to lean on, and so standing in line for more than a couple of minutes doesn’t work well.

OK, I made it on the plane, so I guess I’m really headed for Boston after all.

We finally pulled from the gate at 19:50Z…yet another 45-minute delay on top of the reschedule I found out about a couple of days ago.  I have no clue why we were so late.  The current estimate as of 18:30−4 (I’ve already set my watch to Boston time as I write this) is for an arrival around 20:40, give or take.


We pulled up to the gate.  After about only five minutes or so, I was told that my wheelchair was waiting, so I got off the plane.

Next was immigration.  I had gotten Global Entry before COVID, and it was still valid, but I had stupidly neglected to bring the paperwork with me on this trip.  That turned out to be not so bad since being wheeled around in a wheelchair gave me license to cut in line.

I then got wheeled to the checked baggage place where we got directed to two different carousels.  My bag finally showed up at what turned out to the the right one, but much later than expected.  It should have been one of the first few off because of the Saga Class “priority” tag, but it wasn’t.  I was getting worried that it had been lost, but I got it eventually.  While we were waiting, the wheelchair guy went to the large baggage claim and got my walker; so after he wheeled me to the exit, I was independent again and headed for the Hilton Boston Logan which is connected to the airport, but it’s quite a hike.


I finally got into my hotel room; and since my body clock still thought it was 04:15+2, I basically just fell into bed.

2023-06-19 04:00−4:

I didn’t sleep well for some reason, so I got up early, reprogrammed my scanner with all the railroad frequencies I’d need for the train trip, and finished writing this post.

The final two days probably won’t get published until I get home on Tuesday night.

Varna Trip Report, day ten

[day −1]
[day 0]
[day 1]
[day 2]
[day 3]
[day 4]
[day 5]
[days 6 & 7]
[days 8 & 9]

2023-06-17 04:00+3:

I got up early to watch the end of the ballgame on mlb.com.  Six to one Mets after eight; the Cards failed to score in the top of the ninth.  That’s now a six-game losing streak…this isn’t the Cardinals’ year.

After the game, I got caught up on my e-mail and blog reading; and I’m now ready for the day.

Today is the last day of the meeting, a plenary session where we take formal votes.  There are usually 30 or 40 motions; but since all the real work is done in subgroups, it’s expected that most of the motions, if not all of them, will pass by unanimous consent.  If history is any guide, we should be done by the morning break; and I’ll be able to begin working on my report of the meeting.


I’ll just zoom into the plenary from my room.  That worked pretty well yesterday, I won’t have to pack up my computer and drag it to the meeting room, and I’ll be able to finishing packing for my trip home during the meeting.


As expected, we’re done.  I’ll have more about the meetings in another post.

I was checked out of the hotel by 10:30 and so had plenty of time for lunch before getting the ride to the airport; but I’d had a big breakfast and didn’t really want to eat anything more, the result being that I had about three hours to wait for the taxi that I had scheduled.


The taxi showed up a few minutes early.  It was the same guy who had driven us from the airport about a week ago.

ca. 14:00:

I had to check my walker and get wheelchair assistance again.  One thing I noticed, and I can’t remember whether I’ve mentioned it before, is that folks who are being pushed around in wheelchairs get to cut in line at security and at passport control.  I’m not sure that I deserve to do that, but I’ll take it. 😎

The wheelchair guy had to go through the security theater as well.  I apologized for making him put up with that, but he just laughed.  I guess it’s a normal part of the job.

I was dropped off at the business-class lounge where I had a small sandwich and a can of Coke Zero.  The wheelchair guy showed up at the lounge again in time to get me to my flight; but I only had to go out a door on the flight-line side of the lounge where there was another of those trucks that rises and lets you board the plane through the galley-side door.

The plane was like the one in which I had flown eastbound:  all the same 2-2 seating with the first nine rows designated business class.

The flight departed and arrived on time; and it was just a 1.5-hour flight, so the food service was very simple and the cabin crew were kept busy providing only that.

The wheelchair guy met me at the plane door and took me through passport control to enter the Schengen area, then directly to the gate for my next flight.  I got there just as boarding was about to start; but thanks to the wheelchair pusher cutting in line, I boarded the plane before everybody else.

Like my Berlin-Vienna eastbound flight, the plane had all 3-3 coach seating with the first four rows designated business class and the middle seats unsold.

We sat for a while after boarding was complete:  it seems that one of the passengers didn’t check in, and so the crew had to search for them and then remove their checked baggage from the hold when they weren’t found.  This made us about half an hour late.

This was just a one-hour flight and so the cabin crew were kept busy the whole time with the simple food service for the first four business-class rows.

The wheelchair met me at the plane door again, and I was wheeled to the regular baggage claim where my one checked bag showed up after only two or three minutes, and then to the large baggage claim place where my walker already was.  Once I had my walker, I was on my own and walked across the street to the hotel.

I have the same accessible room that I had a week ago:  still a glass-top desk which doesn’t allow using an optical mouse; but I have a workaround.

Icelandair has changed my KEF-BOS flight times such that I’ll get to my hotel in Boston with my body clock thinking it’s the wee hours of the morning on the next day.  The posts for my last three days might not show up until I get home Tuesday night.

Varna Trip Report, days eight and nine

[day −1]
[day 0]
[day 1]
[day 2]
[day 3]
[day 4]
[day 5]
[days 6 & 7]


Nope, the shop didn’t have the kind of адаптър that I wanted.  Oh well, I’ve been using the two-prong adaptor without the ground connection all week, and nothing bad has happened to my computer yet.  I have no reason to doubt that it’ll continue to work just fine.

I also ordered a taxi for 13:30 on Saturday.  It’s about a half hour drive to the airport, so I should get there around 14:00, two hours before my flight’s scheduled departure.

2023-06-16 07:30:

My alarm clock failed to go off again, so no time for breakfast for me.  I wound up zooming into the meeting from my room, which worked just fine.  The only disadvantage was that I had the “Do not disturb” tag hanging on the doorknob and so didn’t get my bed made.  That’s OK since I wouldn’t have done that at home either. 😎

I haven’t written about the area I’m in because I don’t have much to say.

Across the street from the hotel is a strip of sidewalk shops where one can buy various kinds of kitsch; and there are lots of fast food places and bars, all of which have an open-air look to them.  Just beyond that is a large beach on the shore of the Black Sea.

My room is on the rear of the hotel, and from my balcony I can see a moderately steep slope up the side of a ridge, and basically nothing but other hotels almost all the way up.  A couple of them have a very bleak look on the outside, so I’m guessing that they might be Soviet-era constructions.  The good news is that there’s also plenty of greenery, so it’s not all buildings to look at.

Curiously, all the signs in my hotel are written in both Cyrillic and Hebrew script.  I guess this hotel caters to Israeli tourists.

I can’t give you this American’s (probably misinformed) impression of Bulgarian culture because I don’t think that I’m experiencing it.

I hope to have something more interesting to write about tomorrow.  The meeting will be over in the morning so I can start writing about that, and my trip home will begin in the afternoon.

Varna Trip Report, days six and seven

[day −1]
[day 0]
[day 1]
[day 2]
[day 3]
[day 4]
[day 5]

2023-06-13 04:15+3:

I had set my alarm for very early in the morning hoping to catch the last few innings of a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game.  (First pitch was at 02:45+3, and I wasn’t about to get up that early.)  It turned out that the hotel’s internet connection was down.

I checked at the front desk later in the day, and it turned out that their internet is normally up 24×7; it was just broken this morning and had been fixed.  I should be able to catch some of tonight’s game (in the wee hours of tomorrow morning in my current time zone).

2023-06-14 04:30:

I watched the last two or three innings of the Cardinals’ game using mlb.com’s Gameday feature and shouldn’t have bothered:  they lost 11 to 3.


We sometimes have evening sessions in which interesting topics are discussed but no formal decisions are taken.  I think I can talk about tonight’s since it has nothing to do with C++.  One of the meeting hosts is giving a talk about the history of the Cyrillic alphabet and its phonemes.

It turned out to be a short video about the history, then a quick introduction to the alphabet, practice saying some things like hello and goodby, and finally a short video about Bulgarian culture.  This geek would have prefered more history and practice pronouncing the various letters, and less of the conversational stuff that I probably won’t ever use.

After the talk, I asked one of the hosts to write down how to explain to a shop keeper that I’d like to buy a Bulgarian-to-American power adaptor with ground.  (I have a two-prong adaptor which works, but I’d like to have the ground connection.)  It seems that what I need is an адаптър эа електричестбо Американски стандарт.  I think I’d be able to pronounce that without embarrassing myself too badly, but I’ll probably just show the shop keeper the piece of paper with the description written on it.  I’ll try that tomorrow during the lunch break.

— Бил Сиѝмор

Varna Trip Report, day five

[day −1]
[day 0]
[day 1]
[day 2]
[day 3]
[day 4]


Today begins the real reason for the trip:  attending a meeting of the ISO standards committee for the C++ programming language.  I’ve been given clear instructions that I’m not supposed to write anything about the meeting itself until after it ends on Saturday, so my daily posts will be mostly about the hotel and the area around it.  I’ll have a single post on Saturday or Sunday night giving a feel for the kinds of issues we discuss.


A very nice breakfast buffet is included in my hotel accommodation…eggs, sausage, potatoes, fresh fruit, sweet rolls…the usual stuff.  One thing I like about traveling to Europe is having baked beans for breakfast which is unheard of in the U.S.


Last night, I had stupidly tried to use a US-style power strip; when I turned it on, I fried it; and the outlet that I plugged my computer into quit working as well.  I reported that to the front desk on my way to the meeting this morning; and I was worried that I had damaged the hotel’s electrical system in some serious way.  I went back to my room at the morning break to find that the outlet was working again.  I guess all I did was blow a fuse.  (*whew*)

Towards the end of the morning session, I was starting to nod off.  That happened to me during the last meeting in Issaquah as well…I guess I’m getting too old for this; and I left about half an hour early and went back to my room for a quick nap.


The meeting hosts, chaos and VMWare, are graciously providing a buffet lunch to all the participants.

I didn’t see anything in the agendas for the various subgroups about which I might have something interesting to say, so I just went back to my room, took an after-lunch nap, and finally got caught up with my FtB reading.

I’m happy to have learned of the deaths of several horrible people, Pat Robertson, Silvio Berlusconi, the Unabomber, and James Watt.  I also learned that Boris Johnson is resiging as an MP.  So far, so good.  Now if we could just get rid of Putin, Kissinger, the Sacklers, you know the list…


That was about all I could handle today, and I didn’t want an adventure, so I went to a pizza shop across the street for a slice.  When it came time to pay, they wouldn’t take my credit card…it was cash only which I didn’t have.  Fortunately, there was a cash machine just a few meters away, so I was able to pay what I owed.

Varna Trip Report, day four

[day −1]
[day 0]
[day 1]
[day 2]
[day 3]

2023-06-11 07:00+2:

Although I set my alarm correctly last night, I stupidly forgot to turn it on (*duh*).  I woke up just two hours before my flight’s scheduled departure.  No breakfast for the likes of me…just a quick sponge bath, then checking out of the hotel and making a beeline to the Lufthanza check-in place (which handles Austrian Airlines).

As expected, they made me check my walker through, so I’d need wheelchair assistance in Berlin, Vienna and Varna.  They took my one checked bag at the check-in place, but left me with my one carry-on bag and my walker; and I was directed to another place — I can’t remember what it was called, but it was something like “Mobility Assistance”.  I signed up for assistance there and waited for four or five minutes until a guy showed up who took me to the place where they checked my walker, and then to a truck that took me to the plane where it rose and let me in through the door opposite the one used for normal passenger boarding.  I made it aboard with about half an hour to spare. 😎

The flight from Berlin to Vienna had all coach-style 3-3 seating, but they didn’ll sell the middle seats in the first four rows.  That’s business class on this flight.  We did get very nice complimentary food and beverage service; and I was ready for it since that was my first meal of the day.


We landed in Vienna right on time.  The guy giving the wheelchair assistance met me at the airplane door and took my carry-on bag; but I had to walk behind him up the boarding ramp.  It turned out that he had an electric cart, not a wheelchair; and I got sat down in it just as my old back was starting to complain.  He took me through the passport check, at which time I officially left the Schengen Area, and because I’m one of those fools who hasn’t been able to quit smoking yet, dropped me off at a Raucherzone (I learned a new German word today) that was close to the gate where I’d board my next flight.

Just passed the designated smoking area was a small café; and although I’d had a late breakfast aboard the plane from Berlin, it wasn’t much, so I bought a schnitzel sandwich and a diet coke which I took to the gate.  After eating the food and drinking most of the Coke, I sat for a while watching the world go by expecting to have to walk from the gate to the airplane.


Shortly before boarding would start at noon, another guy showed up, called my name, checked me in at the gate, and drove me in another electric cart to an elevator where I was told to wait for somebody else who would help me the rest of the way.  He arrived about five minutes later with a wheelchair and took me down the elevator to another one of those trucks that lets you board the airplane through the right-side door.  The plane was spotted, not at the gate, but out on the tarmac; and I was the first person to board.  It was another ten minutes or so before the first of two busses from the gate to the plane arrived with more passengers.

The plane from Vienna to Varna was more narrow and had all 2-2 seating, the first few rows — I don’t know how many — being reserved for the passengers with business class tickets and who got the special service.


We arrived in Varna almost on time; and I was told to wait in my seat for the wheelchair assistance.  It was another of those trucks that rises to the level of the right-side door, so I got on and waited a few minutes while they helped an older woman who needed a great deal more assistance than I did.  She and a couple of companions were dropped off somewhere, then I was taken to an entrance that was very close to the checked baggage area which I was able to walk to with only minor complaints from my back, and where I met the colleague who was offering me a ride to the hotel.  (I wish they’d let me identify them…I’d have some very complimentary things to say, and not just “thanks for the ride”.)

It turned out that my walker showed up at the regular checked baggage place, and so I then had the walker and both of my bags and was reasonably independent.  If only I’d been allowed to have my walker with me the whole trip, I wouldn’t have needed all the wheelchair assistance.  The good news is that I had something to write about. 😎

It was about a half-hour drive to the meeting hotel which is in a touristy place on the Black Sea.  The driver warned us that most of the eating places in the area were really bars aimed at young party goers.  Indeed, my colleague said that there were four people behind them on the plane who mostly talked about the parties they’d be going to.  That struck me as a pretty expensive party.  Also, I guess for American tastes, there’s a Subway (sandwich shop) and a Waffle House right across the street from the hotel.  I might have more to say in future posts if I do anything interesting in the evenings, but at present that doesn’t seem likely.

It seems that many in our group showed up at the hotel at about the same time, and the line at the reception desk was quite long and moving slowly.  It reminded this erstwhile electronics technician of p-type conduction in semiconductors:  it wasn’t so much about people moving forward as it was about spaces for people moving backward. 😎

I didn’t do much after checking in, aside from catching up on my e-mail and other reading, and writing this post.  It’s now time for bed.