10 June 2004

Fascinating article about bagels and white collar crime. A former economist went into the office bagel delivery business and learned all sorts of interesting things.

(New York Times article, free registration required. Link by way of the Business Opportunities Weblog.)

Posted 10:38 AM

07 June 2004

Just back from a week in Scotland. I didn't realize how badly I needed a vacation until I took one. It was very enjoyable and very badly needed. It's impossible to summarize a week, or an entire country, in a few paragraphs, so this is just a collection of impressions.

The Scots were universally warm and friendly. We only encountered two less than polite people the entire trip, and neither was Scottish.

Scotland is very proud of its identity as a nation, even though it's part of Great Britain. We saw many more St. Andrew's Crosses (the Scottish flag) than Union Jacks. The most beloved Scottish heroes fought against the English, and when a plaque commemorates a great victory over "the enemy," the English is usually who they mean.

The Scottish countryside is very beautiful and very rural, much more rural than the parts of England that I've seen. Edinburgh, the capital, is smaller than Boston. The Highlands between Aberdeen and Inverness are a lot like central Pennsylvania. The Trossachs north of Glasgow are a lot like the California coast, only the mountains aren't as high and there's more water. Lots of sheep, some cows, not very many humans.

I'm pretty sure that all of Scotland is within 100 miles of either the ocean or a major lake. Most restaurants had lots of fish and beef on the menu, very little of other meats. The low-end food was generally better than in the US; "fast food" in the US sense was difficult to even find.

Great Britain is expensive. Things cost the same number of pounds that you would expect to pay in dollars--a newspaper is about a pound--but pounds are worth more than dollars. Petrol is really expensive: about 75 pence per liter.

Scotland is very far north, with Edinburgh at about 56 deg. N. (Juneau, Alaska is at 58 deg. N) This time of year, that means almost 20 hours of daylight. Of course, in the winter, it means 20 hours of darkness. The weather was mostly gorgeous, with some cloudy or rainy mornings but mostly sunny afternoons.

Driving on the left is easier than I feared. The hardest part is centering yourself in your lane: we had lots of close calls with curbs, parked cars, and stone walls, but sustained no damage. The second hardest part is remembering to turn wide on the right, and tight on the left, instead of vice versa.

Rotaries are extremely common. Typical directions include the phrase "go through a succession of roundabouts." They're generally less chaotic than Boston area rotaries, which made their backwardsness (clockwise instead of counterclockwise) easier to deal with.

Favorite road signs:

"Oncoming traffic in middle of the road" -- usually precedes a one-lane bridge, of which there are many.

"Beware: Free range children"

Photos will appear in the Photolog as I get my film back and/or get around to uploading them. Watch the upper right corner. There are vast amounts of information about Scotland on the web, but AboutScotland is a good place to start.

Posted 09:48 PM

Ten years ago this week, I attended a presentation on the DRAM industry by a French economist. He began his remarks by thanking his American audience on behalf of France. His boyhood home, a village called Verville-sur-Mer, overlooks a beach that, 60 years ago this week, became known as Bloody Omaha.

Posted 10:19 AM


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