On the Chunnel train from Paris’ Gare du Nord to London’s Waterloo, hoping to blog on the train because some well-meaning, but misinformed colleague told me that there was internet service on the train, I am frustrated and pecking away off-line, while playing with the Blue ThinkVantage button on my Lenovo X60s and letting the Wireless finder search for a live connection.
On the outskirts of Paris, in the ‘burbs, where the rioting went down last year, my antenna picked up a ton of wireless signals, most evidently emitted by residential hubs in the banks of apartment buildings that are connected to the French Wanadoo portal. In the countryside, when the train started booking along at a nice clip, still more wireless signals were detected – some doubtlessly other laptops in the same car as my machine — but some definitely public signals that I couldn’t detect and connect to in time.
It would have been fun to bum out the three other people crammed face-to-face with me in the little booth in the so-called business class car by gabbing with someone back in North Carolina on Skype. Europeans are awfully fond of their “handys” and either yak away on them about their lunch experience, or squint and thumb type on them the rest of the time. To Skype away while blogging and chunnelling would have been too geeky for words.
Paris was a fast 36 hours of narcolepsy, conference rooms, and Powerpoints that induced the aforementioned narcolepsy. I decided to walk from the last meeting to the Gare du Nord, Googling a map of Paris to get my bearings before setting off down the Champs d’Elysses, with a side stop to buy my wife an anniversary present at one of her favorite shops.
I swung into the Tuilleries Gardens, sat on a bench overlooking the Place de la Concorde, snapped a couple pix under a rain-threatening sky the color of a bruised sweatshirt, then double shoulder-strapped my knapsack and forged through the tourists past the Opera to Avenue LaFayette for the long march up to the train station. I arrived, 30 minutes later, soaked in sweat, found the Eurotrain ticket desk, and was informed that my train departed at 7:16 am, not p.m, and I was out of luck. I cursed my assistant, pulled out the Amex, and bought another ticket, was told to hustle to make the 5:10, and then cleared French customs, and stood, for five minutes, in an interesting purgatory between the French passport control and Great Britain’s. Was I technically in that brief 100 foot gap, subject to French laws? I was on French soil, but I had just left the domain of the French and had yet to enter the domain of the English. Could I commit a heinous crime and be beyond the law?
Now in London, shaking myself awake before a day of meetings. One more night here, then back to the Cape of Cod for a long weekend of watching crew races, stalking the not-so-wily bluefish, and planting flowers.