Welcome to in transit, a lame attempt at a homepage by Mark Danielson. This site contains a regular journal, photography, rants and other miscellaneous stuff. However, it does not contain information about quantum nonlocality.

Now, if you're still here after that, if you can read this, you're either accessing the site through a device like a screen-reader, have a very old graphical browser or are using a text browser like Lynx (university physics geeks, you're the cause of that first paragraph). You may want to consider downloading a graphical browser that complies with Web standards, such as Mozilla, Netscape 7 or Internet Explorer 6. (Then you'll get to see what this page is supposed to look like.)

By the way, if you have any suggestions on how to make this site more accessible, please e-mail me at mrbula@nonlocality.com.


So I leave for 10 days and suddenly fall happens. 31 degrees tonight. I'm inside with a sweater on. And happy.

London was a lot of fun, and it was cool to hang out with Lisa and visit with Ben, but it's still good to be home.


Well, it's 10:59 AM—I'm working on Eastern Daylight Time now, although I don't know if the plane is—and Continental flight 29 is somewhere over the north Atlantic. We should be on the ground in New York in just under five hours.

The London Eye

Overall, it's been a very enjoyable trip. Yesterday was a bit of a wild card day. The only hard-set plan we had was to visit the London Eye in the early evening. After a bit of a late start, we spent much of the day wandering around and just exploring. We hit Covent Gardens in the early afternoon, briefly pondered the London Transport Museum (it was overpriced) and then wandered over to Buckingham Palace. We didn't tour the palace, but it still seemed very impressive. That said, I'm still a bit perplexed as to why England still feels the need to keep the monarchy around. A bit outdated, yo.

Anyway, in the early evening we made our moderately indirect trip to the London Eye. We'd considered having dinner beforehand, but as all our dinners here had turned into hour-long or greater affairs, we decided to hold off on eating until after the Eye. That turned out to be a good idea: Not only did we get there just before it closed, but Lisa apparently has a mild phobia of heights and confined spaces, so the combination of those two things shortly after dinner probably wouldn't have been a good idea.

And that was it for the day. We briefly went in search of a late meal, and on a number of recommendations walked along the Thames to the OXO Tower. Once there we found the dining options to be rather limited, and so headed back to our hotel's neighborhood instead. Most of the places we'd been interested in had closed by that hour, though, so we resigned ourselves to running over to a nearby Sainsbury's grocery instead. We ate back at the hotel, repacking our bags and trying to make everything fit while doing so. From that perspective at least, dinner worked out well.

This morning was a bit rough. For one, we actually had to wake up at a reasonable hour, something we hadn't done since leaving Madison. Still, getting up and getting out of the hotel within an hour was significantly easier than what followed, namely dragging our luggage onto the Tube and through a crowded Victoria Station during rush hour. As we neared Victoria Lisa commented that pulling the luggage seemed harder than it did on our trip in six days before. "But I think I was working on pure adrenaline then," she added. I found myself in a similar situation. The first day's walk to the hotel must've been one last wind before crashing.

The airport was easy. We arrived three hours before departure, probably an hour and a half earlier than necessary. Screening seemed much less intensive than at U.S. airports. My backpack has a history of attracting attention, but it went right through screening without a problem. Lisa wasn't as lucky and was pulled aside for five minutes to have her carry-on searched. Turns out she'd forgotten a small scissors in it.

Now that I think about it, I wonder how that scissors managed to make it through security from the US in the first place. Mark gets his shoes scanned and his bag torn apart while Lisa wanders through with a sharp metal object without any problems. Interesting.

Well, four hours to Newark. More later.

 ) ) ) 
Newark. Yay.

Newark Liberty International Airport. It's a lot like LaGuardia, only not as sexy.

Our flight into Newark landed on time, but, alas, our departure doesn't look like it'll be as prompt. They say it's a not construction-related delay like the one we got hit with on the way out, but a routing issue dealing with bad storms over the Great Lakes. (I believe that, but have to wonder about the armed guards that boarded our plane and returned with two extra people—one seemingly in custody, another delusional and confined to a wheelchair.) Whatever the case, I'm sure in a warped way Lisa was a bit happy for the delay. She left a bag in the overhead compartment of our inbound flight and had to run to a different terminal (going through security each way) and talk to a number of different security and airport personnel to retrieve it. Not a particulary fun way to end a trip.

Not that the ends of trips tend to be fun, anyway. I enjoyed my first visit to London, but I think I'm ready to go home. As far as everything else I'm going back to—my job, for example—I expect the next week to be one of reassessment. Not that that's unusual after a trip, either.

Boarding time. More later.


For better or worse, today was the day we learned what all the bitching about the Underground was about. Determined to go on the trip to Oxford we failed at yesterday, Lisa and I actually managed to get ourselves out of the hotel by noon. No matter, though. We might as well have gone when we left the hotel at 1:30 yesterday. While Tuesday was marked by rides on the $4 billion Jubilee line, all new and shiny and modern, today was marked by an attempted ride on the Circle line, a journey that for all intents and purposes could be described by one word: Fucked.

Things started going downhill the moment we got to our home station, Gloucester Road. We stood on the platform for a good 20 minutes watching train after train slide by on the other tracks on a timely, convenient schedule. Finally the word came over the PA that all westbound Circle line trains were delayed indefinitely due to signal problems. Riders to Paddington (like us) and other points north were instructed to take the District line instead. That sounded simple, but it meant making an inconvenient transfer at another station. We did as told, and soon found ourselves waiting at Earl's Court for another District line train that was also delayed. Another 15 minutes passed, and another announcement came on telling westbound Circle line riders to take the District to Hammersmith (wrong direction again) to transfer to yet another line.

It was at that point that my hearing loss became a benefit. I couldn't hear what train to transfer to after Hammersmith, so I told Lisa to stick at the station and let the train go. (From what I could see on the map the alternate route they seemed to be suggesting was far enough out of the way as to be ludicrous.) Then, without warning, the subway gods smiled on us and the northbound circle line came rolling into the station. (I'm not completely sure what the deal with that was, as Earl's Court didn't seem to be served by that line.) We got on, and were at Paddington Station in a matter of minutes.

"That sure turned out well for us," said Lisa, about us sticking at Earl's Court.

"Yeah, but I think they just fucked everyone who got on that other train."

"That's true."

 ) ) ) 

So, uh, anyway, we went to Oxford. The Thames Trains ride out of Paddington was quick and reasonably comfortable, and we were in Oxford within an hour. Oxford was a beautiful old city, the old school buildings gracefully worn and full of history. We walked through the central library courtyard, climbed the tower at the University Church of St. Mary The Virgin, and wandered through the gardens at Christ Church. I probably took 300 photographs over the course of the afternoon, and Lisa may have taken as many as 20, which is a lot for her.

Regrettably—or, perhaps, inevitably—the old city had turned into quite a tourist trap. In a few ares it was only a water slide and a go-cart track away from being Wisconsin Dells, my home state's tragic scenic attraction. We gave up on finding a good local restaurant for lunch and relegated ourselves to McDonald's. There was a small amount of irony in that: Two Americans, in England, eating at McDonald's. Our server was French.

I had the Vegetable Deluxe. It was interesting.

We wandered around some more, but with the hour getting late, we decided to head back to London. Unfortunately, we missed the express and ended up stuck on the local, which lengthened the trip by 11 stops and 45 minutes. At least the Circle line was working when we got back.

 ) ) ) 

Paddington Station seemed to confirm a suspicion of mine. Ever since we landed I've expected people to walk on the left, but instead have found people walking in no orderly fashion, or, in rare cases, to their right. Lisa and I also noticed that the areas we visited usually had as many people speaking French, Spanish and German as did English, leading me to theorize that all the disorderly walking was a direct result of foreign pedestrian influence, not the lack of an English social norm.

Well, at Paddington English was far and away the dominant language, and you know what? Everyone walked to their left.

Speaking of language, since leaving Gatwick we've only come across three people speaking in North American accents. Also, in almost every case I saw someone I thought looked American, they ended up speaking German instead. I'm still trying to figure out what that second item means, although it probably has something to do with my Wisconsin heritage.

 ) ) ) 

Dinner this evening was much better than last. We ate at another Italian place—for some reason there are a lot of them in this neighborhood, maybe it's another result of all us silly tourists—and unlike yesterday there was no tepid food or discouragingly bad music assaulting our ears. Afterwards we went for a walk through some (seemingly) residential neighborhoods near the restaurant. The hotel we're in is a bit rough, but the nearby residences seem exceedingly expensive.

 ) ) ) 

Well, once again it's getting late, so it's time for me to turn in. I'm a bit sad that this evening is the last full-vacation evening of the trip, but like the beginning of the vacation, it hasn't really hit me yet. The things we have planned for the day tomorrow should be fun, but I'm more looking forward to tomorrow evening. We plan on closing out the trip with a visit to the London Eye to take in the city. It should be a good way to look over what we covered, and maybe make plans for a future visit.

Well, as if on cue, the iPaq just told me its battery is low, so that's it for this evening.

More later.

 ) ) ) 

Oh, one more thing, before I forget: Happy birthday, Michael!


Well, Oxford didn't happen. Lisa and I both found ourselves up way later than expected (I had too much caffiene and Lisa, well, I'm not sure), so we decided to delay the trip to Oxford a day. Considering we got up only a few minutes before noon, that was probably a good idea.

As an alternative, we moved up our Wednesday plans and took the Tube to gawk at Canary Wharf, basically a Skidmore, Owings & Merrill/Cesar Pelli replica of Houston recreated in London sans freeways. From there we headed over to Greenwich to visit the Royal Observatory. Greenwich seemed to be a bit of a pit, but the observatory was very cool. (I keep thinking I have to pick up Dava Sobel's book Longitutude, and the visit was definite reinforcement for that.)

The Prime Meridian lent itself to a number of obvious photographs, and while we stood there we watched a number of people balance on the meridian, straddle the meridian, and kiss on the meridian. I stood over it myself while composing a photograph, and soon found my brain rummaging through the cliches as well: One arm to the East, the other to the West. One leg to the East, the other to the West. One eye to the East, the other to the West. One testicle to the...

Oh, nevermind.

After leaving the observatory we wandered down to the Thames where we discovered the Cutty Sark was on display. Neither of us had any idea it was there, and while it was closed to visitors at that late afternoon hour, it was still cool to see.

canary wharf tube station

We had a number of options to get back to Canary Wharf to catch the Tube. There was the Docklands Light Railway, a rather trashed and unimpressive service I wasn't particularly enthused to revisit, a number of bus lines, a ferry line down Thames, and, apparently, a pedestrian tunnel under the river. Of course, we took the tunnel. It was a rather weird experience, all narrow and tiled and cramped. It was difficult to imagine the amount of expected pedestrian traffic that would've been cause for the construction of such a passage. We were in the early rush hour as we passed, yet we probably saw only 20 other people during the walk. Then again, the tunnel was built a long time ago, so it's probably safe to assume alternate transportation between London and Greenwich has changed a lot since then.

Forgetting that Lisa is a bit claustrophic, I made a couple of jokes of how we'd have to swim out if the tunnel failed. She didn't seem particularly amused and told me she'd seek revenge at some later time.

From the tunnel we found the light rail system again, took it to Canary Wharf, rejoined the Tube (during the evening rush this time, very crowded) and headed over to Tower Bridge to look at the bridge and the idiot (and, unfortunately, American) magician hanging in a plexiglass box a few hundred feet from it. The bridge was very cool. As far as David Blaine goes, well, I'm not quite sure what to say. We got to see him relieve himself. I guess that must be worth something.

 ) ) ) 

And that was it for sightseeing for the day. We made the decision to cut the evening short, mainly in the hope of avoiding a repeat of last night's unintentional 3:00 AM bedtime.

Dinner this evening was a bit of a disappointment. For whatever reason, we decided to try the Italian place across from our hotel. The food wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either, and the service and music sucked. Oh, how horribly did the music suck. I mean, if the light orchestral version of "Blue On Blue" wasn't enough, we were confronted with a pan-flute version of MacArthur Park. Yes, that MacArthur Park, quite possibly the worst pop song ever recorded.

Well, once again, the iPod's battery is about to give out, so I guess it's time for me to end for the day. More on everything later, including how the handicapped accessible trains on the Tube aren't really handicapped accessible. And stuff.


Well, it's our second full day in London, and, thankfully, the first day we both haven't been dragging from jet lag. It was a busy day, briefly marred by rain, but fun nonetheless. After an unexpectedly late awakening—we didin't get up until 11:00—we took the Tube to the Tate Britain, with plans to wander around and see Parliament and the Thames afterwards.

Rain delayed the second half of those plans, but the museum was very cool. Lisa is a big fan of JMW Turner, and she really seemed to enjoy the exhibition of his work. I'm not nearly as big of a fan by comparison—more of a person with a polite interest—but I still found the exhibit very enjoyable. This probably doesn't speak well for me, but the most memorable moment at the Tate came not from a work of art, but from some commentary posted next to one of the paintings. These "personal views" popped up from time to time throughout the museum and were usually written by museum directors or artists. I found them quite interesting and developed a tendency to gravitate to them before the formal explanations of the works. That said, I was a bit shocked to find a painting depicting the 1781 battle for Jersey described as a fight against the frog eaters. The explanation made more sense when put in context of it's author, though, some actor by the name of John Clese.

 ) ) ) 
the tower big ben resides in

We planned on walking along the river after the Tate, but, as said, the foul weather forced us to delay those plans. We headed back to the hotel instead, making a brief stop at a nearby grocery store to gather some staples for the next few days and hopefully head off some of the excruciatingly high prices in this city.

By themselves, it's not the prices that are that bad. It's the exchange rates that are killing us. I find myself multiplying everything by 1.6 and continuously being annoyed by the results. Yesterday I had a small tuna and cucumber sandwhich with a 500 ml bottle of Dr. Pepper. Cost? Roughly $9.00 American. It was good, but not that good.

This evening, after a hour-long visit to the Internet cafe across the street to clean out the 500-some emails clogging my three mailboxes, we hopped back on the Tube to check out the Parliament building. Because of the rain I'd only taken two photos earlier in the day, but in slightly misty weather of the evening I more than made up for it. It's difficult to hit the exact number, but I probably took over 100 photos during the two and a half hours we walked around. (That's restrained, really). Anyway, we walked up Victoria, crossed the Thames to gawk at the London Eye, crossed back and wandred down Embankment to the Blackfriar's Bridge. From there we took the District line back to the hotel. In all, it was sort of an early end to the day, but consindering we want to go to Oxford tomorrow (and have risen from bed between 10:30 and 11:00 both full days here), it seemed like an appropriate decision to make.

 ) ) ) 

Well, that's pretty much it for the day. I guess I'd like to make one design observation before I turn in: London seems to be a city of opposities, the underground clear and understandable, the street system borderline incomprehensible. Now, with the streets I recognize that any city founded in 50 AD by the Romans is going to be laid out on the basis of two basic things: One, where the sheep walked, and, two, what would be most confusing to invading foreigners. That said, would it kill this city to put up some street signs? Sure, there are signs on some of the buildings, but I've come across many intersections that have been completely unsigned. Also, there seeems to be a tendency to only sign side-streets, leaving the aterials blank. While I'm sure this is OK for people who use the streets on a regular basis, it completely sucks for anyone new to the city, or, for that matter, the neighborhood. I wouldn't be surprised if Londoners get as lost as often as visitors do.

Another gripe are the crosswalks. At first I suspected the "LOOK RIGHT" and "LOOK LEFT" warnings on the ground were just a public courtesy to keep stupid foreigners from getting their asses splattered over London's asphalt, but it only took me a couple of hours to realize the city is an incredibly messy mix of one-way streets and unorganizd intersections. Those notes seem essential to anyone trying to move around th city, but they're inconsistent and easy to miss. There's striks me that there would be a better, eye-level solution for pedestrian and driver alike: If it's a one way street, give it a one-way street sign. Drivers know where they can go, and pedestrians know where the traffic should be coming from. (I say "from" as I've seen people drive the wrong way down one-way streets a number of times since we got here. People seem to take one-ways as a suggestion more than anything else.)

Also a good idea: Crosswalk signs. Really. I've seen so many narrow brushes with death here it's not even funny.

That said, other than the delays and trashed stations, the Underground rocks. It's well-signed, extensive, and very, very understandable.

Well, the battery on the iPaq is getting low, so I have to quit. More bitching about transportation, and hopefully a report on Oxford, later.


So, we're in London. It's later in the day now and I don't feel too focused on writing, so this is going to be short.

Forgetting for a moment that neither Lisa nor I was able to get any significant sleep while on the plane, the trip to London went fairly well. Hurricane Isabel, which seemed a threat to the trip no less than three days ago, was not an issue. She'd completely blown past Newark by the time we got there. Instead, we found ourselves suffering through an inbound delay caused by runway construction. That made for a tighter connection than we would've liked, but in the end we made it through OK.

Saturday was spent in a bit of a fog. We both planned on crashing for an hour or so when we got to the hotel, but that accidentally (although not unexpectedly) turned into a four-and-a-half hour naptime. We forced ourselves to get up and be active for the rest of the evening in hopes of achieving a normal sleep cycle for day two. After grabbing lunch at a nearby deli, we walked to Kensington Gardens, looked at the swans floating around in the pond, sat on a bench by the Broad Walk and watched people stroll and skate by. We didn't talk much, probably because neither of were completely awake.

 ) ) ) 

Today was more coherent, although I don't think either of us have completely adjusted to the six-hour time difference.

The highlight of the day was The British Museum. It was a stunning museum, of course, and it would've been easy for us to spend the entire day there. Time being at a premium, we ran through in under four hours, the only area we spent significant time at being the London 1753 exhibit. I know we were just scratching the surface of London history in the hour we spent walking through the exhibit, but I'm glad we did. A little context when visiting the city is better than no context at all.

That said, some of the museum experience was a bit jarring. Aside from museums that were intended to be hands-on, I've never seen a museum so completely overrun by its visitors. People walking through the halls could often be seen crawling over the exhibits, and I mean that literally: Oooh, look at the ancient artifact. Let me touch it so it can soak up the oils off my fingers! Hey, can I lean on this, too? I'm working under the assumption (or at least hoping) they had cameras on some of the halls, as most didn't have any staff members in them.

I mean, it's just the collected history of the human race we're talking about. At least the Rosetta Stone was protected, although Lisa said it had been open to the masses the last time she'd visited.

 ) ) ) 

The rest of the day was a little less involved. We hung around Trafalgar Square for a few minutes, searched for and eventually found 10 Downing Street (it's not very prominent), walked under the Horse Guards building, edged St. James Park, went shopping at a grocery in our neighborhood and retreated to our hotel. And that was pretty much it.

And now, I think it's time to sleep.


We're in London. I am so fucking tired.


Well kids, I'm off to London. I'll put in some entries along the way, but due to my non-wired status when traveling, I doubt any of them will be posted until early October.

In the meantime, here are some new additions to the photo album:


Things are starting to look better for the trip out on Friday. Isabel is tracking south some, and while Newark's forecast still calls for heavy rain and strong winds in the morning, it's nothing that should shut down the airport. I wouldn't be surprised if we ended up getting delayed for four or five hours, but that's better than losing an entire day due to cancellations.

I'd approached today as the last normal day before the trip, but that's really not the case. I've found myself spending much of the late evening wondering what critical item I'm going to forget when I head down to Madison on Thursday. The power adapters? My traveling journal? The flight confirmations? My passport? Place your bets now.

 ) ) ) 

It was a very long day at work. At least the evening was pleasant.

 ) ) ) 

I don't know why I've gotten so political the last few days, but here's a good editorial from the StarTribune: Truth / Too little of it on Iraq.

I think I'm done now.


"So you have a layover at Newark?"

"Unfortunately, yes."

"That sucks."

"Yeah. It could be worse, I guess."

"Like how?"

"I dunno. I suppose I could live in North Carolina. 130 mile-an-hour winds aren't anything to screw with."

"No doubt. It sounds like there's a lot of price-gouging going on for plywood down there. Last night on the news they were saying that it's two or three times higher than usual."

"Well, that's not all lumber yards acting evil, though. The government has put in some huge orders for lumber for the Iraq reconstruction."

"And it makes that much of a difference?"

"I guess so. Heh... Maybe they should get people from the Pentagon to go and tell the people standing in line that they're doing their part to fight the war on terror."

"I don't know if that would work."

"Probably not."


A small list of items that could, theoretically, hamper Friday's outbound trip to London:


 ) ) ) 

1:32: Mark takes a break from work and turns on the Packer game.

1:32: Mark notes the Packers are ahead 17-3.

1:33: Mark watches Farve throw an interception.

1:34: Mark turns off the Packer game.


Two worthwhile editorials from The New York Times: Two Years On, and The Other Sept. 11.

 ) ) ) 

Mark Fiore: A Nation Remembers II.

 ) ) ) 

Photos of my neighborhood from two years ago today.


The terrorists have already won. Or maybe people are just stupid.

 ) ) ) 

I just realized that next week at this time I'll be packing. When I leave work the following Thursday, I won't be heading home. Instead, I'll be on my way to Madison, and the next day on the way to London. It doesn't feel that close yet, but I guess it is.


If early indications turn out to be correct I may actually get my new car back from the mechanic next week. (For those counting, the car has been in the shop for two months, 10 days.) Whether I'll trust it enough to drive it to Madison the day before I head to London is another matter.

 ) ) ) 

The week so far has been very busy. Lots to write about, almost no time to write it in. I'll probably have to do a lot of catch-up writing this weekend.

what a bunch of geeks

Random quotes from this evening's dinner with a bunch of Minneapolis/St. Paul MetaFilter members at Joe's Garage:

  • "It's a great habit."
    -Ted, while offering a cigarette, on smoking.
  • "They have a lot of two-legged deer hopping around over there."
    -Me, on deer in the DMZ between North and South Korea. (Jared had an interesting response to that one, but it was too long and complicated to quote.)
  • "You're getting laid a lot."
    -Jennifer, on Nathan and a friend getting drunk on PBR and watching the first five Star Trek movies.
  • "It sounds like death is coming for you."
    -Ted, on my luck with dogs, cliffs and automobiles.

For each quote listed above, there were another 10 or 20 more worthy of mention but regrettably lost to the ages. Whatever the case, everyone seemed to have a good time. MetaFilter has become known for irresponsible rants and childish bickering, but this evening brought the exact opposite. Everyone I met proved to be humorous, intelligent, and witty. It was definitely a group that could stand to meet for dinner or drinks every few months or so.

 ) ) ) 

"What's that?"

"Those are pancakes."

"I'm from the Midwest, I know what pancakes are."

"But these are website pancakes."

"They're what?"

"It's an inside joke for everyone from the site to identify each other with."

"Have you ever gone on Google, typed in 'weapons of mass destruction' and hit the 'I'm feeling lucky' button?"

"'These Weapons of Mass Destruction cannot be displayed.'"

"Oh, yeah. I love that."


"He was actually kind of buttoned-down and conservative-looking."

"Kind of like you."

"Only in better shape and with straight teeth."

"What? It's not like if someone asked me to name someone who had crooked teeth, I'd think of you."

"That's because I tend to keep my mouth shut."

"I don't know about that."

 ) ) ) 

On a completely unrelated note, my brother was up here over the Labor Day weekend. It was a lot of fun to see him. It was a busy three days: We hit a number of good restaurants, went to the state fair with Heather and Rich, visited the MIA, rented a few movies, toured a few of the locks along the Mississippi, explored Minnehaha Park, taunted the cat and did a lot of sight-seeing.

My brother has mellowed in a lot of ways and is even displaying occassional moments of contemplation, but in others he's still the old Michael: Walking down First Avenue around a quarter to midnight on Saturday we passed a group of girls dressed for clubbing. One of them smiled at him, and he replied in a way only confident, cocky kid like he can. Without slowing for even a step he smirked, shrugged his shoulders and kept walking. We were a good ten paces away before her response was yelled back towards us. "Asshole!"

"You know, it would've been nicer if you'd just smiled back at her," I said.

"But I can't help it," he replied. "I didn't even think about it. It's just the way I am."

I'm not sure I agree with that, but, then again, that's just an older brother talking. There are a lot of other things to cover from his visit, but I'm going to be pretty busy over the next few weeks, so this may be it.


[Entry Deleted]


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