Five a.m. wake-up calls

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ugh--this has been a tiring trip. They all are. It's amazing how much better I feel, though, when the last session has ended on the final day of meetings. I'm flying home tomorrow.

I'm in Albuquerque again. As work trips go, coming to Albuquerque isn't bad. By far my favorite work trips are to the UK, but they're in a separate category. I don't go there alone--I can't, not without risking a violation of ITAR-- the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. If I get a TAA, a Technical Assistance Agreement, I can go alone, but by the time that comes through continental drift will have brought the US close enough to the UK for me to shout across the water. In the meantime I can only go in the company of someone from the US govmint. Anyway, because I'm never alone over there, I always go out to eat with the guys I'm with, and we go to pubs together and drink beer. I like John Smith's Extra Smooth--it's my favorite beer, and I only drink it when I'm in the UK.

Albuquerque is a different story. I usually come here alone to attend meetings. I was lucky this time--I planned the trip early enough to get a room at my favorite hotel. By that I mean my favorite hotel that offers rooms at government rates and is right across from the airport. The only downside to staying here is the restaurant downstairs. When I'm tired and I don't feel like going out I eat here, but it's expensive and it's impossible to get a light meal. Last night I wanted a light supper--a bowl of soup, maybe, and a glass of wine. No Can Do here. I ordered trout, the lightest-sounding thing on the menu, and was served a huge portion, breaded and fried and covered with cream sauce and buttered crumbs of something, piled on top of a mountain of rice pilaf on a large platter. I ended up spending more than my total per diem on dinner. Tonight I drove to Appleby's and spent less than half, in spite of ordering an expensive margarita.

One nice thing about last night's dinner--there were only a few people in the restaurant and the waiter hung out by my table and talked to me. I usually hate eating alone in restaurants--except at Kyoto where I sit at the sushi bar and talk to Hiro, the sushi chef--so it was nice to have someone to talk to.

Tomorrow I'll get home just after dark. Mike got home shortly after I left on Monday so it'll be great to see him, and the dog will go insane with happiness at the sight of me, as always.

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