It's a long way from Sydney back to Maryland. Unlike my outbound flight, there wasn't a lot of excitement this time. The trans-pacific flight went off fine. I plowed through three of the books I brought with me - the book on the siege of Petersberg ("The Last Citadel", 1864-1865, US Civil War) was very good. The author used a lot of primary source materials - after action reports by commanders, individual soldier's recollections and letters, and some of the archival material from "The Commitee on the Conduct of the War" (a Congressional commitee that examined the war effort during and after the war). If you are a Civil War buff, this is a great book.
Anyway, things went fine to LAX. Then I had to go back through security - and I had a small contretemps with one of the rent-a-cops at the entrance to the security line. It seems that my travel back was too big (and yes, it's bigger than the size specified - it's a garment bag). However, no one else with outsize bags was being hassled - the rent-a-cop had some bogus ideas about how the other bags could be folded. After a little back and forth I did an end run - I went to the other security line, where they had sane people working. With that out of the way, I had 3 exciting hours to spend in LAX.
As it happens, I paid my way into the USAirways club last year, and my membership is still valid. That got me into the united lounge, which was certainly nicer than the main concourse. This is when I found out that the "powers that be" at LAX have signed up the world's most ineffectual WiFi vendor - some bozo firm called Boingo. When you spawn a browser and the site uses T-Mobile, or Wayport (or any of a number of other services), you get an HTML form to login to. Simple, no fuss, no muss. Not these morons. No, first you register. Then you download a Windows client (I guess you are just SOL if you have a Mac, or Linux). That client allows you to access the WiFi. To top it off, it was up and down the whole time I was there. That still wasn't the dumbest part though. First, you have to register. Ok, you get a browser page - hit the link to the "Try it Now!" page. You get a list of one option - $21.95 per month for a year.
Well, that's useless, so I went to dialup. However, it turns out that they do have "pay as you go - it's just well hidden. You have to follow a link labelled "Change the Promotional Code", delete the code from the input field, and then submit - at which point you get a pay as you go option. Who's the blazing idiot who came up with that? Someone who's driving theory was "yes, I want fewer customers now?" At least I was able to get news updates and mail.
So now I'm back home, exhausted (I've had two Fridays this week). I'll sleep well tonight, and with luck, won't have any jet lag. We'll see...