Monthly Archives: June 2013

That’s Not the Spirit

Spiriti Airlines Airbus A320: Nice plane, un-nice airline

Spiriti Airlines Airbus A320: Nice plane, un-nice airline

On Wednesday, June 12, Linda drove me to the Metro before 5:00 AM. Rode it to Union Station, then the MARC (Maryland suburban train) north to Baltimore airport. Then the fun began: a consulting client had booked me on Spirit Airlines, now classified as an “ultra low-cost carrier.” Cheap ticket. Canceled flight. They were able to rebook me – I was frankly surprised – on US Airways via Charlotte. It took most of the day to get to where I was going, back to Dallas/Fort Worth, but I made it. High point of the journey was a few hours in Charlotte, which will become an American Airlines hub after the two airlines merge later this year; it’s a pleasant, mid-sized hub airport, very clean and well organized.

Landed DFW about 4:30, and hopped on the DART shuttle bus to the Orange Line light-rail line. I wanted to save my client some money and see my travel friend Ken Gilbert (we were in Spain together in March), so I billeted at his house – third time in seven months, nice. Ken picked me up from the train and in no time Ken, wife Peggy, and I were in their favorite Tex-Mex joint, Tupinamba. Total regulars, the bartender brought their drinks without asking. I had a Tecate Mexican beer. We had a good yak, about kids, travel (naturally), and more. It’s always fun to talk with experienced travelers who know their way around the world.

Ken was headed to see his aged parents in Vermont the next morning, and we rode back to DFW. My client picked me up. We had a good meeting, a caloric breakfast at IHOP, and he dropped me back at DFW. Spirit did not cancel the return flight. It was fast and it was safe. But their flight attendants (who are probably pushed around a lot, given that everything, even carry-on bags, costs money) were rigid, practically Soviet. I never flew on Interflug, the airline of the former East Germany, but I suspect their cabin crew were more cordial than Spirit’s. I was glad to land at BWI, then reverse course by train and home.

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St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota: Reunion Time

StOlaf

St. Olaf, namesake of the college

On Friday morning, May 31, Linda and I cruised down the George Washington Parkway to National Airport, flew to Chicago, then to Minneapolis. Into a rental car, and pedal to the metal 35 miles south to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, for Linda’s 40th class reunion. We had missed the last two (30th and 35th) and were really excited. St. Olaf, founded by Norwegian Lutherans in 1874, is a special place in at least a couple of ways. For one, although I didn’t study there, it’s where I met Linda, also 40 years ago. For another, it is a true paragon of liberal arts education. Although I teach in specialized (business) schools, I am a fervent supporter of the liberal arts as a way to prepare students. The conventional “what are you going to do with [fill in liberal arts or natural sciences here]” question takes a narrow view of learning. Specialized knowledge is often overrated: what we need are people who have a broad understanding of the sweep of civilization, who are curious and ask questions, who can read and write well, and who learn the importance of values like honesty, integrity, and gratitude in our daily lives. Those are all things a school like St. Olaf imparts, and does so superbly.

It has been awhile since I included "the view from above": here, one of the remaining steel mills near Gary, Indiana, southeast of Chicago.

It has been awhile since I included “the view from above”: here, one of the remaining steel mills near Gary, Indiana, southeast of Chicago.

We parked the car, registered, and Linda peeled off to a first activity, with her freshman dorm friends. At 5:45, we hopped on a bus to the first Class of 1973 function, a wine tasting and light dinner in a sort of barn a few miles southeast of town. In no time it was all hugs and smiles and laughs. Many students from my high school in suburban Minneapolis were in Linda’s class, which adds to the fun (Linda Bearinger, for example, was in my first-grade class). We had superficial yaks and serious yaks and got caught up on the lives of lots of old friends and comrades.

Sky

One of the splendid older buildings on campus; almost every structure is built of stone, creating an enormous sense of strength and permanence

One of the splendid older buildings on campus; almost every structure is built of stone, creating an enormous sense of strength and permanence

Renovated interior space, looking very Nordic

Renovated interior space, looking very Nordic

More yakking at breakfast Saturday morning, with people of true substance, then to a series of three quick talks from Class of ’73 grads, including one from my friend Jim Grotting, a plastic surgeon who has volunteered all his working life to repair cleft lips and palates in poor countries; he related his experiences. Then to an all-alumni convocation in the chapel, then another Class of ’73 function, lunch. Gary Gisselman, artist in residence in the theater department, gave a compelling talk after the meal, reinforcing the case for liberal education. We then listened to a history prof recount the many changes at the school in the 1960s and early 1970s; this was a place that understood that the world was changing, and worked hard to prepare students for those changes. For example, St. Olaf was an early proponent of study abroad, and to this day it sends a higher percentage of students to programs overseas than any other college or university in the U.S. After a needed nap, we drove into downtown Northfield to the old Grand movie theater, now a function venue, for drinks and dinner and more socializing. Tons of fun.

I probably should have included a shot of Linda and friends, but this alumna, Jeanette Dahl, Class of 1943, seemed to better demonstrate endurance!  At 91, she was still going strong.

I probably should have included a shot of Linda and friends, but this alumna, Jeanette Dahl, Class of 1943, seemed to better demonstrate Scandinavian endurance! At 91, she was still going strong.

Sunday morning I walked the campus, and brought this journal up to date. After breakfast, Linda and I attended Sunday worship. One of the many things I appreciate about fellow Lutherans is that they sing with volume and gusto! It was a wonderful service, especially the homily, which was easily in the top few percent of sermons I have heard in my decades of churchgoing. After church, we processed to the dining hall for a last meal with friends, hugged, and said goodbye. Before leaving campus, Linda asked if she could walk from her old dorm to one of her classroom buildings, and I left her to her thoughts as she strolled.

Frieze, Buntrock Center

Frieze, Viking Room, Buntrock Commons

Replica of carved wooden doors of the Oslo (Norway) Cathedral, Buntrock Center

Carving above the Fireplace, Buntrock Commons

We drove to Minneapolis, and I dropped Linda at her mother’s condo for a couple of hours. By splendid coincidence, my pal-for-50-years Steve Schlachter was visiting his mom, and I motored a mile to their house for a quick chat (they were heading to a graduation party). Knocked on the door of two friends, but neither was home. Picked up Linda and drove across town to Ann Hathaway’s; she and her partner Robin were hosting us that night in their home, which after two nights in a college dorm was positively deluxe!

Ann, Robin, their energetic Welsh terrier Finney, Linda and I had a good yak and a beer (well, no beer for the hound, but he tried hard to join the conversation!), then headed east to downtown St. Paul for dinner at Cossetta’s a longtime Italian restaurant. To and from, we admired new housing along the north bank of the Mississippi, walking distance to downtown; when we moved to Texas in 1987, urban planners were just starting to talk about reusing former industrial land along the river, and the results were splendid. Home and off to bed, plumb wore out.

Linda had arranged to meet her mom again the next morning. She dropped me at a light-rail station and I headed to the University of Minnesota, for a meeting with a colleague in the business school. After a good yak with Karl, I walked the campus, on both sides of the Mississippi River. It was so good to also be at my alma mater in the same trip. The schools differ in size, of course, but both reflect the long emphasis that my native Minnesota places on learning. I grabbed an early lunch, burrito and shake, hopped the bus into downtown Minneapolis, then back out on the train to the airport, and home to Washington.

The Mall, University of Minnesota

The Mall, University of Minnesota

 

Maybe it's because this IDS Center (1972) was the first modern skyscraper in my hometown, but I've always thought it reflected the best of modern 20th Century design

Maybe it’s because this IDS Center (1972) was the first modern skyscraper in my hometown, but I’ve always thought it reflected the best of modern 20th Century design.

 

Architectural detail from earlier in the last century: from the original Farmers & Mechanics Savings Bank (1942) and the Rand Tower (1929).

Architectural detail from earlier in the last century: from the original Farmers & Mechanics Savings Bank (1942) and the Rand Tower (1929).

 

 

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Geneva, London, Woburn, Cambridge

Chapel, Kings College, Cambridge

Chapel, Kings College, Cambridge

Was home for three days, and on Monday, May 20, Linda drove me to the Metro, rode to National Airport then flew to New York Kennedy and on to Paris, arriving in cold, pelting rain.  Changed terminals and stood by for the 8:00 AM Air France flight to Geneva.  It departed full, so I waited for the 10:05 departure.  I promised Dylan and Carson that I’d look for Madeleine and her dog Genevieve (children’s book characters); I didn’t see them, but I did spot this interesting looking fellow in traditional garb:

AfricanTraveler

I was happy when the gate agent handed me a boarding pass to sit in the cabin-crew jumpseat in the rear of the 10:05 A320 to Switzerland.  I boarded and introduced myself to the cabin crew, then sat down next to a Delta employee from Singapore.  Just before departure, they told us there were open seats, so we didn’t get the adventure of riding in the galley.  I slept for an hour, and awoke to light rain in Geneva.

I was bound for a business-aviation trade show my young friend Jonathan Nicol invited me to attend, which was conveniently at a convention center adjacent to the airport terminal.  I needed to put on coat and tie; happily, a spotlessly clean and large men’s room presented itself, and in no time I looked legit.  Ambled into the big Palexpo hall, got a conference badge and lanyard, and walked for blocks to Jonathan’s Stratajet stand to greet him and his colleagues.

The hall was filled with some familiar brands, like Rolls Royce, Boeing, and Rockwell Collins, firms that also sell to airlines, and lots of stuff that was new to me.  It was an interesting place.  The afternoon passed quickly; we stayed on to host some visitors for drinks at the stand, then hopped in taxis to go into the city.

Hardware on "static display," 2013 EBACE

Hardware on “static display,” 2013 EBACE

Stratajet had arranged Airbnb accommodation for me in an entire small apartment quite close to the center, and Jonathan’s swell assistant Christina had picked up the key, so it took me no time to feel at home, in that case on the 6th (top) floor of a large building in a mixed-social-class neighborhood close to the center.  The apartment was really nice – spotless (Switzerland, naturally!) and well equipped.   But I didn’t have time to relax, because Jonathan was hosting a team dinner at a fondue restaurant, so I changed into casual clothes and zipped out the door in light rain.

The view from my flat, looking south toward the foothills of the Alps

The view from my flat, looking south toward the foothills of the Alps

The end of the team dinner

The end of the team dinner

Apart from an hour between airport and main train station in 2008, I had not been to Geneva for almost 20 years.  It’s a lot more like France than the eastern, German part of Switzerland – not exactly dumpy, but far less pristine (graffiti on walls, for example) than Zurich and other cities on the other side of the confederation.  Dinner was fun and filling, but by 11 I was exhausted.  Walked home at a brisk pace and clocked out.  Slept hard, no time-zone woe.

Up early the next morning, out the door by bus to the exhibition hall.  The day passed quickly, but rather than going out with the Stratajet team, I opted to do some work in the apartment and grab a quick dinner.  Well, okay, McDonald’s was not exactly a traditional repast; Switzerland is so expensive, and a simple meal at a neighborhood place was going to run 30 bucks, and on my dime.  Did a lot of reading that evening, and got eight solid hours of sleep, meaning I was adjusted to European time (in recent years the time change had interrupted my cycle, but – knock on wood – may have grown out of it, based on happy experience the last two trips).

Jet-2

More hardware at EBACE

Back to the show for the last day.  At 9:30, Jonathan was one of five panelists in a session on transformative IT in private aviation, an interesting discussion.  Paddled back to the stand, yakked with a few more people, and at 1:45 said goodbye to the team.  A small-world moment: on the way out of the building I ran into Chuck Evans, a colleague formerly at Bombardier in Toronto and now at Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth, Texas.  Had a good discussion about their efforts to revive their core helicopter business, which Bell neglected as they focused resources on an aircraft that to me has never worked, the tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey.

From a Swiss lunch, Geneva Airport

From a Swiss lunch, Geneva Airport

Flew EasyJet to London Gatwick at 3:50, walked a long way through the North Terminal, onto a shuttle, then to the Gatwick train platform.  England was on high alert following the grisly terrorist attack on a soldier two days earlier, and as I waited for my train, two policemen brandishing automatic weapons (and I mean guns held high) ran past on the opposite platform, followed by four more officers and a black-and-white spotted sniffer dog.  I immediately empathized with the hound, who jumped up on his handler for a cuddle before setting to work.  They boarded a train and disappeared.  Whoa!  With that excitement done I cued British music on my iPhone: Elgar’s great “Nimrod,” one of 14 variations, his opus 36; then “Jerusalem,” an unofficial U.K. anthem.  Then, as I boarded the train, Eric Clapton’s “Layla.”  Ya gotta mix it up!

The Transport Geek had not been on the Gatwick-to-London route for a few years; for the decades when American landed at LGW, I became well familiar with this 28-mile run, and was comforted to see familiar sites: the Budget Motor Centre, still a bit tattered, in Horley; Wandsworth Common, where in 1990 we filmed scenes for an AA TV commercial; and the famous Battersea Power Station, decommissioned and awaiting redevelopment.  Caught the Tube two stops west to South Kensington and found my hotel, the Regency.  Washed my face, changed clothes, and walked briskly west on Old Brompton Road to The Blackbird, a favored pub in Earl’s Court.  Gotta keep moving.

At 7:05 one of my favorite mentees, Fabio Scappaticci, came in, smiling.  I’ve known Fabio for a couple of years, since his MBA at Cambridge, and have stayed in touch, trying to be helpful to his career.  He’s a wonderful fellow with a varied background (aeronautical engineering to development assistance in the eastern Congo).  We had a pint of my fave London Pride, then continued the discussion at Masala Zone, an Indian chain I had favored for its reliability.  The banter remained good, but the food was just okay, and the chain has been scratched from the list.  Said “Ciao,” to Fabio, and walked back to the hotel in the rain.

How to tell you're staying in a posh neighborhood: the Ferrari dealer two blocks from the London hotel

How to tell you’re staying in a posh neighborhood: the Ferrari dealer two blocks from the London hotel

Up Friday morning, down to the hotel gym for a bike ride, worked in the room, and ambled over to Imperial College London.  It’s an impressive institution, mainly focused on the sciences and engineering, and they do a superb job of explaining what they do, for example, a series of small temporary displays in the business-school lobby that summarized recent faculty research.  Arriving early, I wandered into a connecting building that housed the mechanical engineering department.  More displays of applied intelligence, including the front fan of a Rolls Royce Trent aircraft engine.  The laboratory had large windows, and you could look down to an enormous lab floor.  It was all about brain power, and when I began my lecture at 11:30 I remarked on the value of that resource, especially in nations like Britain and the USA.

Queen Victoria, in the lobby of the Imperial College Business School

Queen Victoria, in the lobby of the Imperial College Business School

Fan, Rolls-Royce Trent 500 aircraft engine

Fan, Rolls-Royce Trent 500 aircraft engine

After the talk, my host Omar Merlo (who would also host my talk at Cambridge three days hence) and I headed to the cafeteria for lunch and a laugh.  Omar is a good-natured guy, and we get on well.  I walked back to the hotel in the rain.  The original plan was to meet another friend at 3:00, but he was tied up with business, so I worked the rest of the afternoon in the hotel room (pretty boring).  At six I ambled around the corner to the Hereford Arms, an agreeable pub on Gloucester Road, for a pint, and fell into a delightful conversation with a couple from Yorkshire, down to visit their son.  We yakked about simple things, the weather, house prices, family, but it was still a pleasure.  I bid them goodbye, and headed to the Tube, east and south to Vauxhall on the south bank of the Thames, then south a half-mile into Lambeth and Hot Stuff, a simple, small Indian restaurant I first visited in September 2012 (an article years back in The New York Times pointed the way).  I wanted another spicy meal, in part to offset the mediocre dinner the night before.

And I found it.  Hot Stuff is a sensational place.  The chalkboard menu listed weekend specials, and at the bottom it read “Extra Value Big Mac Meal, About 2 Miles That Way”; indeed this was about as far from corporate foodservice as you can get.  Raj Dawood, owner, chef, and cheerleader, was on hand, and I reintroduced myself.  “I remember you,” he said.  We visited briefly, and he peeled back into the kitchen, then out among the tables, greeting diners, and doing all the things that make him an admirable entrepreneur.  The dinner was superb and less expensive than Masala Zone.

Raj Dawood, owner of Hot Stuff and model entrepreneur

Raj Dawood, owner of Hot Stuff and model entrepreneur

I headed back to the Tube station, but instead of hopping on the train, I walked across the street, registered for 24 hours of access to the rental-bicycle network that Barclay’s Bank sponsors (hundreds of locations all over central London).  Once registered, rides of 30 minutes or less are free, and I unlocked a sturdy cruiser and took off, north across the Thames then west along the north bank, following a wonderful dedicated bike lane, painted blue and labeled Cycle Superhighway CS-8.  When that path turned south and crossed the river, I continued west on a busy street, then north toward my hotel.  There were no available slots at the facility across from my hotel, nor the one a few blocks west, but fortunately the touch-screen on the second rental kiosk directed me to another location a few blocks north, where I dropped the bike (information on bikes and return slots is also available on a mobile app, way cool).  Walked back to the hotel, smiling broadly.

On the CS-8 Cycle Superhighway

On the CS-8 Cycle Superhighway

Saturday was the first sunny day since leaving home.  Woo hoo.  I headed first to the gym for a brisk ride, then after breakfast out for a short, but real, ride.  I took a Barclays bike a couple miles north through Kensington Gardens, returned it on Lancaster Gate, and walked a couple of blocks to the Peter Pan statue.  It had been several years since I saw it – earlier in my visits of London, it was a frequent destination when running (something my knees no longer permit).  It was good to see Peter, happy as ever.  The park is crowded on a nice day, locals and tourists, dogs and horses, inline skaters and cyclists.  Rode back to the hotel, picked up my suitcase, Tube to Euston (railway) Station.  They wanted the equivalent of $13.65 to deposit my suitcase for a couple of hours, so I dragged it with me.  Almost across the street was the Wellcome Collection, the museum and exhibit space.  Their description says it all: “a free destination for the incurably curious”).  As I wrote in 2012, Sir Henry Wellcome (1853-1936) was born in Wisconsin and moved to Britain as an ambitious young pharmacist, to help found Burroughs Wellcome (now part of GlaxoSmithKline), one of the companies that industrialized British pharma.  His fascination with material aspects of medicine and health – and his huge curiosity – propelled him to amass a collection of more than a million artifacts.

Peter Pan, Kensington Gardens

Peter Pan, Kensington Gardens

The museum has a permanent collection and fascinating temporary exhibits.  I headed first to the latter, an art exhibit titled Souzou, which translates imperfectly from the Japanese as either creation or imagination.  A description from the program: “The artists in this exhibition have been diagnosed with a variety of different cognitive, behavioral, and developmental disorders or mental illnesses, and are residents or day attendees of specialist care institutions.”  Visitors were invited to consider how these artists interpret the world.  Many had difficulty learning a challenging written language. I really liked Toshiko Yamanishi’s “Mother,” four drawings expressing love for her mom via movement and color, not words.  Best of show was Shota Katsube’s collection of 300 little figures (1″ high) made solely of shiny twist ties – mainly people, but also a scorpion and a dragon.  It was a hugely broadening experience.

No photography was allowed in the Souzou exhibit; this is from the printed program

No photography was allowed in the Souzou exhibit; this is from the printed program

A year earlier, I had visited “Medicine Man,” a thematically arranged sample from Wellcome’s vast collection, but with plenty of time before my train I returned to marvel at more stuff: surgical tools, amulets, even one of the bizarre drowning-revival appliances placed along the Thames in the 18th century (I will spare readers the detail, save to mention that the procedure involved the other end of our body).  The exhibit nicely interpreted therapies and practices that have varied over time!  Truly a remarkable place, strongly recommended next time you’re in London.

Three samples from Wellcome's enormous collection: an artificial hand, a medicine bottle, and an ancient Egyptian canopic jar for storing parts of the recenty deceased

Three samples from Wellcome’s enormous collection: an artificial hand, a medicine bottle, and an ancient Egyptian canopic jar for storing parts of the recenty deceased

I grabbed a quick sandwich, hopped on the 2:54 train, and less than an hour later was in Milton Keynes, 50 miles north of London.  Walked out of the station and soon a car horn heralded the arrival of the Cunnison family: my friend Martin, his swell wife Tara, their five-year-old twins Beatrice and Henrietta, and in the back of the Land Rover their seven-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog, Phoebe.  I worked with Martin for nearly two years on AURA, the inflight entertainment system we attempted – but failed – to develop.  When Steve the angel investor wisely pulled the plug on it 14 months ago, I was a little cranky, but not with Martin, and we’ve kept in touch.

It was great to see Tara and the twins again.  We headed for a forest park, so the twins could ride their bikes – they’ve just learned to ride without training wheels (called stabilizers in Britain).  We had a nice walk in the warm afternoon sun, then headed home for a huge, and I mean really big, dinner: tuna tartare appetizer, beef Wellington, lots of vegetables, and apple and red currant crumble for dessert.  We all ate together, and it felt so good for this traveler to be part of a family, if only for a few hours.  After the meal, Martin explained and showed me his new venture, a wireless entertainment system that is now flying on a test aircraft and about to be offered for sale.  And perhaps the high point: reading Beatrice and Henrietta a book I had brought from the U.S. (one of the Fancy Nancy series).   Martin kindly drove me to the hotel.  I was so glad that I visited; they’re true friends.

Twins-Bikes

Committed cyclists at age 5!

Artists hard at work on portraits of Uncle Rob

Artists hard at work on portraits of Uncle Rob

Sunday was again sunny, a lovely morning.  After breakfast I walked about a mile to the suburban Milton Keynes bus station and hopped on the X5 to Cambridge.  About a third of the way there, I struck up a conversation with my seatmate, Uui Igie, a mechanical engineer on the faculty of nearby Cranfield University, one of Britain’s specialized postgraduate institutions – oriented to engineering and applied science.  Uyi (from Nigeria) specialized in gas turbines so when I explained that I had spent a lifetime “near” jet engines the conversation flowed.  We mainly stayed on the topic of turbine power, and I learned a lot – his research focused on preventing degradation of industrial turbines (not aircraft engines) in harsh environments, for example the effects of salty air on offshore oil rigs.   A nice T-t-S experience.

My seatmate, Dr. Igie

My seatmate, Dr. Igie

We arrived Cambridge at 11:30, and I said goodbye to Uyi.  Strolling briskly north on St. Andrews Street, I wore a huge smile, outward expression of my joy: there are few experiences I value more than being in Cambridge and staying at Sidney Sussex College.  The porter there gave me the key to room H11, “my room,” and in no time I was at home, bringing this journal up to date.

Went for a good walk mid-afternoon.  Although I’ve been here many times, there’s always something new to see in Cambridge.  Today it was some narrow lanes, cows grazing on common land along the river, and a nice rehearsal among the scaffolding at Great St. Mary’s Church.

A classic Cambridge scene: bicycles and event posters on an iron fence

A classic Cambridge scene: bicycle and event posters on an iron fence

Detail, university building

Detail, university building

Cattle grazing on common land, near the River Cam

Cattle grazing on common land, near the River Cam

The former Foster's Bank, St. Andrews St.

The former Foster’s Bank, St. Andrews St.

Rehearsal

Rehearsal, Great St. Mary’s Church

At 6:15, the bells pealed above the chapel at Sidney Sussex College, marking the start of Evensong worship on Trinity Sunday. The new chaplain, the Rev. Paul Brice, the choir director David Skinner, and an all-male choir entered. High point of the service was an outstanding homily from Ruth Armstrong of the university’s Institute of Criminology. She had just earned her doctorate, and preached about her research on a faith-based program for newly-released inmates in Texas, and about what her experience meant to her own faith. As tradition specifies, after service we had drinks in the Old Library adjacent to the chapel. There I struck up a conversation with Sidney’s first-ever composer in residence, Eric Whitacre, a dynamic young guy who I later learned (from Googling) was quite accomplished – a Grammy award and tons of commissioned choral work. But as befit his rural Nevada roots, he seemed like just a regular guy, modest, funny, energetic. For a sample of his genius, take a look at this: http://youtu.be/D7o7BrlbaDs.

We headed to dinner at high table, where I met another interesting person, Jane Spencer, who was praelector and dean of the college, responsible for administrative aspects; specifically, Jane was rewriting the college’s statutes and ordinances, the governing documents. But we mostly yakked about children and the challenges of raising them. After dinner, port and cheese in nearby room, where I was able to get to know Ruth a bit better; she knew a lot about Texas, and in a truly small-world episode, was married to a fellow who was once a chef at the Mi Cocina (Mexican) restaurant a half-mile from our house in Richardson. Whoa! Luis now owns the Mexican restaurant in Cambridge. A cool guy, from Guanajuato. Also yakked briefly with Kirsten Dickens, the college’s admissions director. As always, really interesting people, substantive, and totally committed to the school.

After breakfast Monday morning (it was a Bank Holiday in England), I rented a bike and rode three miles west to the Cambridge American Cemetery, the only U.S. military cemetery in Britain. Linda and I visited it briefly in 2005 (and I visited the huge cemetery above Omaha Beach, Normandy, in ’07). It was Memorial Day, and their website noted an 11:00 ceremony, so I had to be there, in the final resting place of 3,812 brave souls, and another 5,127 names of those missing in action – most from the (naval) Battle of the Atlantic and the aerial bombing of Germany. The University of Cambridge donated the land and the American Battle Monuments Commission, a small federal agency, manages the cemetery.

I locked my bike and took a seat. It was a wonderful and emotional ceremony: national anthems, some short speeches, including a stirring one by Richard Klass, ABMC commissioner, who told stories of real people who came back and who did not come back. He noted that fully one-third of the airman did not return. The final tribute was a flyover by the Eagle Squadron, five World War II aircraft: a Boeing B-17 bomber, and Hawker Hurricane, Supermarine Spitfire, P-47 Thunderbolt, and P-51 Mustang. That these birds are still airworthy and going strong is itself remarkable. I thought about my dad and the tens of thousands of others from a bunch of nations who pulled together to push back dark forces of tyranny. God bless them all.

Graves

Piper

WreathBearers

Flyover

I rode back to town for a conference call, then zipped out on the rental bike for another ride in the sunshine, east along the River Cam, out to the village of Fen Ditton and back. At four I met one of Fabio’s Montreal friends, Louis-Philippe LaRocque, studying for his MBA at Cambridge. To say we bonded quickly would be an understatement: he had worked for Air Canada for several years as a lawyer, and we immediately agreed on lots of stuff. Just a great chat.

Louis-Philippe La Rocque

Louis-Philippe La Rocque

Returned to my room for a quick bit of work, then headed out for a last pint, at The Eagle, the storied pub I’ve often written about in these pages. It had been a few years since I went to the back of the pub, to the separate room known as the RAF Bar, which during World War II was a popular haunt for British, U.S., and other airmen. The ceiling is covered with squadron and other names, a tradition that dates to 1940, when, it is believed, a local RAF warrior jumped up on a chair, and with a cigarette lighter burned a first inscription. On Memorial Day 2013, seven decades later, I gaze up to see “199 SQDN,” “BERT’S BOYS,” and other notations. And again say thanks. Grabbed a plate of Singapore noodles at Dojo, and walked home. A big day.

Ceiling, RAF Bar, The Eagle, Cambridge

Ceiling, RAF Bar, The Eagle, Cambridge

On Tuesday it was time to stand and deliver the last lecture of my “spring term,” at Judge Business School. After what seemed like an unprecedented three days of full sun, it was raining steadily as I walked across Cambridge from college. Stopped, as I usually do, for daily prayers in St. Botolph’s, a small church that has been on Trumpington Street for almost 700 years (I learn something new each time I stop, and that day it was that Botolph is the patron saint of travelers). The talk in Omar’s branding class was not until late afternoon, so again as is custom, I set myself up in the school’s common room and worked the day away, pausing to meet Jochen Menges, one of my other Judge hosts, and Katia Damer, a psychology grad student who was, like Jochen, researching aspects of charismatic leadership. I helped her with an experiment somewhat similar to one of Jochen’s from late 2011: they recorded two versions of me speaking, one with lots of engagement, voice inflection, eye contact, and the like, the other with none of those things. An hour after that I presented a talk on airline advertising, and the term was over (no exams to assess – nice!).

Front Door, St. Botolph's

Front Door, St. Botolph’s

I walked back to college, changed clothes, worked some e-mail, and headed back out in light rain to Loch Fyne, a seafood restaurant near the business school and site of the dinner Omar has for many years hosted for me and any MBA student that wants to join us. It’s a great tradition, and I’ve kept in touch with lots of dinner mates from previous years, like Fabio. Joining Omar and me that night were Louis-Philippe from the day before; a Korean married couple (both students) who had studied in the U.S.; a German woman; a fellow from Maine who had joined a U.S. Navy nuclear engineering program right out of high school; Candas, a Turkish lad who had just accepted a job with Amazon UK; an Italian from the same town (Lucca) as my maternal grandparents; and a Moroccan guy, Mohammed, good natured about his adventures with U.S. airport security. It was, as always, a fun evening. On the way home, I paused to browse in the window of Cambridge University Press on Kings Parade; the myriad book topics were a last splendid signal of the enormous brainpower at that university. I am so fortunate to be invited.

Was up well before six Wednesday morning, brisk walk to the railway station, fast train to London, Tube to Paddington, Heathrow Express train to the airport, and two flights home, the first on one of American’s splendid new 777-300s.

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