Friday, June 22, 2007

Finally home

Sleepy participantMy hectic month of conference traveling is over, and I’m back in San José. I just finished my 14th trip to Europe since the first one in 1980; there’s been almost one a year since 1996, and two in the past five weeks. I’ve also done 3 conferences in that time, and 4 in the past 3 months.

Some random observations: the Danes are as bicycle-mad as the Dutch, but the other countries I visited are not. I still think flat has something to do with it; we love bikes here in California, too, but so little of the state is flat (or compact) enough to make them useful to the average citizen.

Europe seems more smoking addicted than the US, but (at least in Northern Europe) is marginalizing smokers the same way while leaving it legal enough to collect the tax revenues. In the summer it’s not so bad, but being forced to smoke outside in December in Denmark seems like a more severe punishment than doing so in California. I’ll be curious to see how the British smoking ban on July 1 goes.

European airports are even worse than US airports (if that is possible) in not having power outlets at the gates. In one airport (I think Schipol) I used the Coke machine outlet, which I wouldn’t have known was possible except someone else had left it unplugged. Heathrow will gladly sell you Wi-Fi access but don’t expect coverage at the gate. (In San José, I can usually get a signal on the plane.).

And hopefully the next time I’m back at Heathrow the insipid HSBC airport ad campaign will be long gone. It was cute for about 5 minutes, but after that the implication is that the people who would manage your personal fortune at HSBC are about as deep and insightful as to the drivers of global business as the editors of Vanity Fair or Esquire.

Picture: European Academy of Management opening reception, May 16.

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Hui said...

aha...funny people and funny observation!
I can also see some "homesik" in this post.
Well, Danish bicycle-mad is partly because of economical concern---driving car is expensive in Denmark.

Joel West said...

Driving a car is expensive in all of Europe. But I think bikes are practical in Denmark and Holland because they are flat; there are parts of Switzerland (like most of California) where the hills are too steep for casual cyclists.

Cycling is also difficult when it is too hot: I am curious to see how many cyclists there are in Spain.