Friday, March 09, 2007


We're time travelling again!

Ping-ponging about the time zones of the US. We've been from PST, which I think is Pacific Standard Time, one hour backwards to MST, or Mountain Standard Time, in Phoenix, then forward one hour to Mental Time in Vegas, then back two hours to Central Standard Time in Houston, then forward an hour to Mountain Time again in Denver, now back another hour to CST in Minneapolis.

Are you still with me? I'm not sure I am. I'm not even sure I've got any of that right.

Then there's feet above or below sea level. Newport Beach, of course, is right at sea level. Coming back from Phoenix and Vegas we hit 275 feet below sea level in Death Valley. Houston, Texas, is about or below sea level. Denver, Colorado, is nearly 6000 feet above.

Today we dropped a dizzying 5250 feet to Minneapolis. And plunged from springtime in Denver to snowbound winter in Minnesota.

Okay, so we were up at 6am this morning in Denver, which was 7am here in Minneapolis. We flew two-and-a-half hours north and east, and found ourselves sitting at 7pm this evening in the concert hall of a Catholic school, listening to schoolkids playing drums and brass and woodwind instruments.

What were we doing there?

Well, if you'd told us at 6am that this is where we would be thirteen hours later (no, hang on, only twelve hours later - 'cos we lost an hour), I wouldn't have believed you.

But, in fact, there is a perfectly logical explanation, which goes like this...

We're staying in Minneapolis with the daughter of our friends the Jensens from Beverly Hills, Los Angeles - our old neighbours from France. Still with me? Okay. So the lady in question is Elizabeth, and she and her husband Tom, kindly offered to put us up (or put up with us) while we were here. Tom and Elizabeth have a daughter, Sophie, who is sixteen-and-a-half, and a huge fan of the China Thrillers.

Elizabeth had lined up a dinner party for our arrival, inviting a friend of Sophie's who has ambitions to be a forensic pathologist, along with her parents. Also on the guest list, were Sophie's boyfriend, Nolan, who has a Chinese father and American mother. They, too, were invited. So all the character elements of the China Thrillers would have been present.

Then it was discovered that there was a school band concert that night. Nolan plays the drums and had to be there. Sophie, of course, wouldn't have missed the concert for anything - even me. And her friend who wants to be the pathologist was also in the band. So naturally, her parents wanted to go and see her perform. Then Tom realised he had a conference that day and wouldn't be home until nine.

So you can see how Elizabeth's best laid scheme went completely agley. It left just she, me, and La Patronne. So we all went to dinner and had a great time in a Minneapolis restaurant called Tryg's, wolfing down ribs and chicken and calamari, and killing a bottle of Pinot Noir, before going to the concert to pick up Sophie, and meet everyone we would otherwise have met at the dinner that never was... if you follow.

Anyway, this is where we are now. Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the heart of the midwest. Seven hundred and fifty feet above sea level, in Central Standard Time, with two book events tomorrow.

That's before we lose another hour flying into Eastern Standard Time in Pittsburgh on Saturday!

Except that on Saturday night, they're switching to Daylight Savings Time three weeks earlier than usual, because someone in Congress read a thirty-year-old report that said money and energy would be saved on electric light. No one told them, apparently, that companies would have to spend millions re-programming their computers, and that people get up earlier these days - and since it will be dark, will be burning electricity.

And I suppose it means we'll lose another hour. Or do we gain it...?

Oh, I give up!

Elizabeth and La Patronne in the snow...

Nolan by the big bass drum...

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