Well, it's 1:13 Easter morning, or, as people like me know it, "Sunday." It's been a long week and, for whatever reason, I really haven't felt like writing. There are a number of people I owe e-mails, some others I owe phone calls, a lot of other things I need to do, but I've just been unmotivated to do so. Actually, I'm forcing myself to write this; usually I write because I want to, not because of some feeling of obligation. Notes about this week, in no particular order:
- I haven't been feeling very well lately. This kind of weather always induces head colds in me, and while my general health over the winter remained pretty good, I'm now paying for whatever optimism I held for the season that follows it. As of today I'm pretty much over it, although I still have the post-nasal drip thing going on. Not that you needed to know that.
- I've been finishing up some reading for Central Booking. Tommorrow--I mean later today--I'll try to write a book review. Watch for me to make an ass of myself while doing so. I doubt I'll try to do this again; the scheduled-reading thing really doesn't work for me.
- The apartment search continues. It's starting to look like wherever I end up is going to consume about half of my take-home income. It's irritating that so many of the one bedroom apartments around here cost just as much as the two-bedrooms do. This seems to be more of a city thing than anything else. In the apartments I've seen in the 'burbs there's usually a noticeable price difference between the one and two-bedroom units located in the same buildings or complexes. I suppose there could be a lot of reasons for this. Maybe there's a shortage of such apartments here, or maybe there's just a greater demand for them.
Eh, that's it. Is there more for me to write? Yes, but it's time for me to go to bed.
Generally speaking, this has been a bad week. I'm not sure where to start, so I won't.
You know you've slept in too late when 2:00 in the afternoon seems like early morning. It's been a quiet weekend: Heather and Rich headed downstate to do something or other, so I've had the apartment to myself. I did a little cooking, rented a couple of movies, worked on a book I'm reading, wandered around some and wrote a lot. Nice.
It was good to visit with Robin on Friday. We spent some time talking before heading down to Figlio's, during which she shared an observation that conversations between old friends seem to seem to run an increasingly-great risk of becoming boring and less-involved as the individuals grow older. Younger friends seem more interested in talking about anything and everything, while those who've known each other for a while tend to watch the quality of their conversations slowly degenerate to the "how was your day" level. While I've seen this happen to many people, and in a few cases have encountered it myself, I generally feel pretty lucky to have avoided the trap with most of my friends. (Indeed, one of the many reasons I look forward to visiting with Robin is because something interesting almost always comes from it. This theory, for example.) Anyway, we hypothesized about causes for a while but found no clear answers. What we may have done, though, is put a conversational curse on the rest of the evening. A more likely culprit is the simple fact she'd been up since 6:30 (?) in the morning and I'd been coming off one of the longer half-months in recent memory. Heck, Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Susan Faludi could have been sitting at the table with us and the most my Jello-like brain would've come away with was "well, the carpaccio was good." But it was nice anyway, and there's always next time.
) ) )
I spent about a half hour before Robin arrived getting dragged through a support call with Compaq. I kept getting put on hold as the rep consulted with others, but was OK with that, as all I wanted was to get my handheld working again. I was standing by the front window, listening to Compaq's dorky music and watching people amble up an down the street, when I saw some guy I didn't recognize walk into the building with a bunch of cables and a case marked with the DeWalt logo. 30 seconds later the phone clicked and instead of the dorky music, I found myself listening to a dial tone.
I completed the support call Saturday, and they're going to have me ship the iPaq in for an inspection. It should only take a week, but I've become dependent enough on it to expect the time to be painful.
) ) )
"Thank you for calling Compaq. Can I get your phone number, starting with the area code?"
"OK, and your name?"
"I haven't heard that one in a while."
"Sorry, we have a guy here named Daniel and we kid him about it every now and then."
I got my driver's license back from Frontier today along with a letter explaining that, yes, I did leave it with the attendant when checking in.
) ) )
This should be a good weekend for decompressing and returning to a more sane and regular schedule. Robin's in the Twin Cities this week and will be dropping by a little later for dinner, so that should be nice. That said, my brain is still toast from the week, so I'm not sure how I'll be in the conversation department.
I'm on the ground, back home in Minneapolis. It's good to be able to see my breath again, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of it as I stay put for a while. Even for someone who typically has questionable luck when traveling, these past few weeks were nuts. Still, there's cleanup to be done: Upon returning to my apartment it dawned on me I haven't really checked my e-mail since I left for SXSW, so over the next day or so I have about 70 messages to read and/or reply to. And then there's all the laundry.
But check with me in a month or so. I'll probably be itching to go somewhere.
) ) )
The trip back to Minnesota was not as difficult as I expected. The check-in at San Jose was a bit annoying, with extra scanning of checked luggage and an additional search at the gate (because my boss was traveling with me he got to go through the same searches I did), but after that there were no problems. Heck, I didn't even get searched when passing the gate at Phoenix. Still, it's odd not having my driver's license on me. I've misplaced it before, but this is the first time I've ever really felt bothered or anxious about its absence. Maybe I've just adopted a police-state mindset. I don't know.
) ) )
Well, I closed out the California trip, so I guess I should close out SXSW as well. The journey back to Minneapolis was fairly uneventful, with the planes arriving and departing on time and Hartsfield-Atlanta remaining as boring and sterile as ever. On the last leg back to MSP I ended up sitting next to a seventh-grader from Florida who was heading up to visit a friend who'd moved to St. Paul. Apparently schools are having kids do book reports in PowerPoint these days. Anyway, he'd seen snow before, but only in the form of those rare dustings that hit south Florida now and then. In Minnesota we'd be greeted by near blizzard-like conditions. I asked him if he had warm clothes, and he showed me the down jacket he purchased the day before the trip. No gloves, though. I suggested that he may want to look into getting a hat.
As it turned out, there was some unexpected onboard entertainment courtesy of the woman six rows behind us. Among things you don't want to hear screamed at 33,000 feet, "Let me out of here!" probably ranks rather highly. Or, if that doesn't bother you, try these:
- "Stop looking at me!"
- "Go away!" (The flight was booked.)
- "Leave me alone!"
- "What are you doing!?"
As that last quote may suggest, they sedated her later in the trip, so the landing went peacefully. As we touched down the seventh-grader looked out the window in awe, unfamiliar with the kind of storm he was about to experience.
) ) )
I've noticed that Heather and/or Rich has a tendency to mimic my soda purchases: I buy some IBC Cream Soda, a few days later a second case appears in the fridge. I buy some Stewart's Black Cherry soda, a few days later some IBC Black Cherry soda appears. I buy some Sprecher's root beer2, a few days later IBC root beer shows up. Interesting.
Speaking of root beer, I now have about fifteen more kinds of root beer to try. I did a bit of a dance when I saw that Baumeister's was listed. There's about a case and a half of it in the kitchen, and it's very good stuff.
Well, it's the last night in Mountain View. I've been out here since Sunday evening for work, and it's been an interesting, if somewhat difficult, trip. It's easy to understand why people fall in love with this place, with its beautiful scenery and comfortable weather. All of it's almost enough to make one forget that the ground isn't as solid and dependable as it may seem.
The trip has sort of worn on me, though. Much of it stems from never really getting a chance to decompress from SXSW, but there have been issues on this trip as well. I sit here typing while my driver's license, the only government-issued piece of identification I have, is in the mysterious hands of the US Postal Service on an untraceable journey back to the apartment in Minneapolis. With all the paranoia and security surrounding air travel these days, this seemingly minor fact promises to be more than just a simple annoyance when flying back to Minnesota tomorrow. Although I didn't realize it until we picked up the rental at SJC, the problem started back in Denver during our layover. One of two things happened: Either I dropped my license on or on the way to the plane or I didn't get it back from the agent when I handed over my boarding pass. From the myriad of phone calls I've been on over the past few days, the latter scenario seems more likely. Mesa Airlines, which ran the Frontier JetExpress flight Craig and I took, didn't get involved, suggesting I lost my license on Frontier turf. (This would seem to be an appropriate time to segue into how disturbingly absent-minded and spacey I've been lately, but, as that would be an essay of its own, I'll defer that effort to a later date.)
As far as Frontier, well, they've been an interesting organization to deal with. I shouldn't rip on them--after all, I was the dumb-ass who lost my driver's license--but it's obvious that they're not the most organized airline in the world. It took endless conversations and no less than eight phone numbers to get a hold of someone who could help me. Over the next day and a half I found myself on a first-name basis with a guy in baggage services named Gary, although I never seemed to find where my ID was, just where it last had been. It all came to the inevitable conclusion this morning:
"Well Mark, I've got good news and bad news."
"We found your license, but we mailed it to your address."
Great. We went to the airport this evening to see if I had any chance of flying back to Minnesota. The general consensus seems to be a yes, although I should expect to be searched at just about every turn. As far as getting home goes, I'll believe it when I see it.
But enough about that.
We drove up to San Francisco last night, and, well, I fell in love with the place. It's not a city in which I could live--after all, I'm all about winter and that gracious season preceding it--but I do need to come back and spend some time wandering up and down the hills, around the bay and through the parks. The views are wonderful, the streets human in scale, the trees craggy and droopy and enveloping. We didn't spend much time in the city, but we did have enough time to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, turn off at an overlook and watch the sun slowly set on the city. And that bridge? That bridge is damn cool. We also wandered around some tourist areas a bit, but nothing to write home about.
Beyond last night's brief trip up to San Francisco, there's not too much to mention other than the food. The only thing better than good food is good food you can put on an expense report1. I left MSP with $24 in my pocket and of this writing have $14 left. (I bought a soda while waiting at MSP, paid the $3 toll for crossing the Golden Gate and left a tip each morning for those taking care of housekeeping at the motel.) Meals so far, starting Sunday night and skipping breakfasts: Chef Chu's, a spiffy Chinese place near the hotel; ________, a Mexican restaurant serving the best darn chicken burrito I've ever had (and I've had lots of chicken burritos); Passage To India, where I ordered some tasty chicken vindaloo (which, unfortunately, I was unsuccessful at weeding all the peppers from); In-N-Out Burger, a partial result of my coworkers seeing my face when sushi was floated as a lunch option; and, finally, Garden Fresh Vegetarian Restaurant, which was pretty good as well. Beyond that, tentative plans for tomorrow include a stop at Krispy Kreme before heading to the airport. Heh.
Other stuff worthy of note over the past couple of days:
- I got to ride in a coworker's EV1. It's an impressive little car with much better performance than I expected. Given a reasonable price it could easily be a competitive car for the commuter set. It really makes me wonder why GM seems so intent on sabotaging the project.
- There are dead dot-coms all over the place. The gutted excite@home offices we drove past last night would've been comic if not for all the unemployment associated with them.
- Multi-story motels with wood floors and ceilings can suck, especially if you're on one of the lower floors. It sounded like they were herding cattle up there last night.
- Speaking of motels, what's the point of a bottle of bubble-bath for a room that only has a shower?
- We drove around the Stanford campus for a while this evening. As I looked out the window, I made rash, unfounded assumptions about the people walking along the streets: Money, brains, money, money, brains, money, immigrant (brains), money, Spandex (money), brains, money.
- All of that having been said, I feel obligated to note that, as far as business objectives go, the trip was reasonably productive.
Well, the battery on the iPaq is running low and I need to get to bed, so I guess that's all for tonight. Tomorrow's traveling should be interesting, although I'm not looking forward to it. We'll see.
Well, I'm back from Texas, and I'm toast. A long, vegetative weekend would be good for me. Of course tomorrow I head off on a business trip to Mountain View, so no chance of that.
SXSW was fun, but wasn't as good as previous trips down there. That's mostly my fault. I'm inherently antisocial in nature, and while I was able to turn that off in previous years, this year I pretty much failed and kept to my introverted self. Other than a few brief conversations, the only people I talked to were those I'd coordinated with in the weeks leading up to the conference. Granted, the disaster known as the flight down didn't help much. It sort of set my mood for the week, and I was never able to completely get over it. The cheap-skate decision to stay in a hotel up on I-35 worked against me, too.
I talked to Meyers about this for a while on Friday and he stated the obvious: When shit like that happens, you simply need to get over it. While I've always admired his almost expert ability to ignore that which gets in the way, it's never been something I've been able to do on a consistent basis. I suppose it would probably help if I actually liked dealing with people. More often that not, I don't. That's probably not healthy.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to next year, with a resolve not to make the same stupid mistakes again. Some of the solution will be structural, like staying downtown instead of wherever happens to be cheapest. It would also be good if I could drag one or more of the designer-types I know down to the conference. That way, I'd have someone who could smack me upside the head should I start acting like a dork. (Not to mention the fact they'd really like the conference if they went. But I've been telling people that for years.) Or, I could just do like I did last year and actually go and talk to people, but that's probably too obvious.
This is starting to sound like I'm in some self-help group or something, so I'm going to go and do laundry now.
And the next thing I knew, I was in Houston. Ok, that's not entirely the case, but the Houston part is true. It's a little after 11:00 in the evening and I'm sitting at a Kinko's a few miles from my motel. But I guess I should back up a bit.
Where to start. I'm at a Kinko's because my iPaq took a dive at the end of the last session yesterday. I'd been using the trusty little handheld, along with the portable keyboard, through just about every session and panel without anyone commenting on it. Then, with the Design For Community panel wrapping up and the masses filing out of the room, people started commenting on it. Now, granted, one of the auxiliary reasons I preferred the bright and shinny handheld is because it seems to have a tendency to attract cute techie girls that walk around with Apple PowerBooks, but now was not the time: There were some good points made at the end of the panel and I was desperately trying to record them while they were still fresh in my mind. "Doesn't that keyboard have a great touch," asked one woman as she nudged by. I agreed, babbled with her for a few moments and then went back to my typing. "That's such a great handheld," said another. Feeling a bit like a cult member who just stumbled across another member of the same faith, I nodded and listened to her go on about how much she loves hers. While doing so I pivoted into the aisle in an effort to keep typing while allowing others in the row to exit. While an attempt at courtesy, from a practical standpoint it ended up being a mistake. The iPaq was suddenly exposed to the traffic in the main aisle and within five seconds another audience member (carrying a Dell laptop, incidentally) whacked it with her bag. The Compaq did a graceful little swan dive to the floor, landed with a metallic thunk, ejected its stylus and flickered briefly before regaining its picture. Picking up the iPaq and stylus, I found, much to my dismay, that the stylus would no longer lock in its slot. I then tried to reconnect the handheld to the keyboard, at which point I really got ticked off. Instead of recognizing the keyboard Windows tried syncing with it. Grrrr. I screwed around with it for the next fifteen minutes in a futile attempt to get the psuedo-laptop working again, but eventually relented and called the keyboard manufacturer. I'm not sure why I did, as I already knew what they were going to tell me: "You're going to have to reinstall the driver." To do that, I needed my home computer, 1200 miles away.
So, anyway, as said, I'm at Kinko's. In Houston.
When I planned sticking around an extra day after SXSW it had been my assumption that I'd go on a day trip with Austin as my home base. The silliness of that struck me Monday night, and I decided that if I was going to explore the Houston area, Houston would be a better place for me to do that from. I'm staying at another Ramada, and, hey, can I pick the strange ones or what. The Austin Ramada Airport (as in the old airport that was closed after they opened Austin-Bergstrom a few years ago) wasn't in that great of shape during last year's visit, but has gotten even worse since then, crossing over into that gray area where the value of the rate is no longer worth it. The rooms have gone downhill significantly, the towels are more tan than they are white, and, hey, there's an entire room missing thanks to an unfortunate automotive incident a few weeks back. The one here in Houston is cleaner and in better shape than the one in Austin, but that doesn't negate the fact there's mold on the inside of the shower curtain. (Next year I'll probably try to stay downtown at one of the official conference hotels. I'm actually OK with slum accommodations, but being downtown with the other attendees would definitely be better for meeting folks and networking. Duh.)
So, anyway, Houston. This city is fascinating. Granted, train wrecks are often fascinating, and to a large extent that's what this city seems to be. Wait, I take that back. It's more along the lines of a car wreck. I swear, there's desperation in the road design here, be it HOV lanes built at the expense of left shoulders, ten lane freeways nowhere near the downtown area and ten-story interchanges every five or six miles or so. (Wisconsinites, and many Illinoians, know the Marquette interchange in Milwaukee because of its massive size. However, down here, very fourth of fifth major interchange is worthy of the Marquette.) The downtown area (if where I was actually was the downtown--there seem to be a number of areas that could wear that designation) is like a modernist's wet dream. It seems the entire city was built in the last 30 years, and for all the money invested, well, it's pretty boring: I've never seen such a massive skyline that's so uniformly dull in the evening light. All windows, little else. (Oh, a couple of the older buildings have lit crowns. And the Enron Headquarters. What does that say?) Outside of the downtown area, I've never seen a city that's so dense yet unrepentantly unfriendly to pedestrians at the same time. For the most part, Houston not only seems to be a giant suburb, it seems happy to be a giant suburb.
That said, I can't completely dismiss a city that seems to be taking a very progressive stance on light rail. Some of the areas did look comfortably livable, too, and I did see some impressive parks. But, for the most part, this city is just strange.
Or maybe it's just Texas.
Anyway, I haven't spent all my time in Houston. Today I headed down I-45 to Galveston. They hang tourist-traps like flypaper down there, but the city still seemed pretty cool and worthy of a longer, more involved visit. Today I drove around for a few hours, looked at the graceful old buildings, drooping trees, huge beaches and big boats coming into the bay. I walked down the shore a bit, put my hands in the water, talked to the other tourists and took a lot of photos. Actually, I took too many photos, and I wasn't careful in how I took them, as I ran Cannon's battery out. Dammit. I went into power-conservation mode for the rest of the day, shutting off the LCD on the camera and shooting blind. (It'll be interesting to see how well those photos turned out. Assuming they do turn out.) Instead of taking I-45 back up to Houston, I took the Port Bolivar ferry and headed east on TX 87, gawking at the houses on stilts along the way. It was a good afternoon.
This evening, after grabbing dinner and recharging the camera at the Ramada, I headed downtown to walk around the skyscrapers. And, well, you already know what I think about that.
Well, it's Thursday now, and I have to head back to Austin in nine hours, so I should probably hit it. US 290 was a pretty easy drive Tuesday evening. I wonder what it's going to be like during the day. One sort of has to wonder how they decided the speed limits on it: In some areas the road crosses the miles in freeway form, with a large grass median and ample shoulders. The speed limit on those stretches? 55. In other areas the road is a four lane, non-divided highway with no median, tight lanes and no shoulders. The speed limit? 70. Go figure.
Well, it's early in the afternoon here in Austin. I just skipped out of the Peer-to-Peer Journalism/Weblogs and Collaborative Media panel after it became evident I didn't share the assumptions the panel was based upon. It started with Meg Hourihan talking about how untrustworthy the media is (CNN is owned by AOL, etcetera) and degenerated from there. OK, so some of those concerns are legitimate, but the idea that the traditional news media (CNN, NY Times, NPR) just isn't trustworthy is both clichéd and absurd. (It also assumed that most journalists working for large corporations are more than willing to sacrifice their journalistic integrity to the party line, which, of course, is a load of crap.) The breaking point for me was probably when Doc Searls commented how boring and useless Nightline's 22 minute newshole is and most of the audience nodded in silent agreement. Figuring it was only a matter of time before indymedia.org came up, I decided to leave. Nice people, and I strongly support looking for alternative sources of information, but the panel clearly was not going to be my thing.
This morning's panel on P2P vs. The Enterprise was much more interesting. I've pretty much put myself on the P2P track here. I'm not sure why, but, aside from this afternoon's session on weblogs, it's been very engaging and worth the time. Despite the entire Napster fiasco, everyone seems to have an energy about them that's reminiscent of the Web five years ago. By comparison, much of the now-traditional elements of the Web (what's new in design, etc) seems downright boring in comparison. Everything that seemed big two years ago is smaller and less brash now, too. Heck, even the keynote is being held in a tighter space.
As far as yesterday goes, after lunch with Kevin I caught the keynote and the OS Tools For Online Community and Collaboration session. Both were good. Then, last night, I caught the screening of hacker documentary Owned. It was a spiffy film (if a bit heavy on music by the Propellerheads), and made me wish I'd caught the earlier screening of Cyberman. Whatever the case, despite the enjoyable nature of the two conversations I had standing in line, it's probably not good for me to stick around film people too much. But that's all I'm going to say about that.
I checked out of the Ramada this morning. Later this afternoon, after the sessions have ended, I'm going to hop in the rental and head over to Houston. I've never been there, so it should at least be partially interesting. (Maybe I'll get a photo of Domokun in front of the Enron headquarters. Whatever.) Sure, I'll be missing events tonight, but I've been feeling sort of anti-social compared to my visit down here last year. I'm not sure why that is; maybe it had to do with the 18 hours of forced community I had to live with on the way down here. Besides, I've never been a party person, especially by myself.
Well, time for the keynote. Next time I write here, I'll probably be in Houston.
11:06p.m. Interesting day today. My wrists are sore from taking notes--the iPaq on the lap isn't the most ergonomic setup--but it's still a lot easier than writing with pen and paper. I somehow put myself on the open-source track today and am glad I did. This morning's session on open source legal issues was quite interesting, as was the afternoon session on open-source tools for community sites. The latter ended up having to change rooms, as we were getting kicked out for those going to the simplicity in design session, which had more people then expected and hence needed a bigger room. (Why am I not surprised?) I got into a couple-minute discussion about Mozilla before the session started; it's nice to be around people who take that project seriously.
I skipped the day's second session period so I could grab lunch with Kevin. He led us to the Castle Hill Cafe on 5th St., which was damn good and reasonably priced to boot. I got to pick his brain about Central Booking--how he came up with the idea, how he got started, where he hopes to go with it--and got some input about that bloated project I've been slaving away at since 1996 yet have nothing to show for. Understandably, he told me I'm probably biting off more than I can chew and that it may be a good idea for me to start simple. (Funny how everyone seems to be clear on that concept except me.) We also talked about Austin, rents in San Francisco, urban planning, patriotism and a bunch of other stuff. All in all, it was a pretty interesting lunch.
Well, I'm running out of battery power so I have to quit. More later.
) ) )
Six months. So, anyway...
It's 1:06 in the morning. Not counting those 30-45 minutes I half-slept in Kentucky, I've been up for 38 hours. After coming close to nodding off during yesterday's keynote, I decided to skip the last session and try to get some sleep. The hotel was really noisy, though, so none was accomplished.
Fray Cafe was quite enjoyable. There were a lot of good stories, as well as two that reminded me why people like me shouldn't try telling stories to large crowds.
I was fairly incoherent all day. People I talked to probably thought I was on crack or something. Speaking of incoherence, I'm probably at that level right now, so time for me to turn in.
Well, I'm in Austin. As expected, I missed the first panels of the day and most of the second panel. It's 2:13 as I write this and, considering I effectively got no sleep last night, I've been up for 30 hours. The keynote is about to begin. When it's done, I may skip out in hopes of getting some sleep before Fray Cafe starts later this evening. Whatever the case, I expect to sleep well tonight.
Five thoughts at 11:50p.m., Eastern Standard Time:
- I'm in Kentucky.
- Flight 1889 arrived at the gate five minutes after my connection was scheduled to depart; of course, that flight was on time.
- I'M IN FUCKING KENTUCKY.
- They're putting me on a direct flight to Austin tomorrow. Estimated time of arrival is at 10:52, which means I'll be missing the session discussing what exactly "independent content" is. (I really wanted to see that.) However, if things go at least halfway smoothly, I should be able to catch the two later sessions and the keynote.
- See #3.
I have a 6:00 wakeup call. Delta's paying for breakfast, after which I have to get myself back to the airport before 7:30. What a day.
) ) )
Well, what a fucked up day this has turned out to be.
It's 7:47 in the evening (that seems like some kind of strange joke) and Delta flight 1889 is finally going somewhere. I won't be getting to Austin today. If I'm lucky and one tight connection in Cincinnati is made, I should be getting into Houston around 11:10. That's a big if: This flight was delayed again when it left, and now I'm only going to have a 10 minute layover at Cincinnati, an airport I've never been to before. I'm not the praying type, but if I were, I'd be praying right now.
Here's how the day went. I got to the airport on time, checked in at a reasonable pace and got to the gate with 50 minutes to spare. Then things started falling apart, both literally and figuratively. The Twin Cities was snowbound this morning, so there were a lot of cancelled and delayed flights. The flight before ours was delayed, temporarily blocking the gate. At that point connections still looked possible, but that quickly disappeared when it became evident the MD-80 was leaking hydraulic fluid. So the connecting flights were toast, but Delta insisted they'd be able to find new connections for us in Cincinnati. Boarding started around 3:30, but the booked flight was only half-full when the pilot came on and announced that a piece of equipment on the plane had to be replaced. Northwest--which does Delta's maintenance in the Twin Cities--didn't have the part, so THEY HAD TO FLY IT UP FROM ATLANTA. Before kicking us off the plane, they told us the part would be getting in around 4:00 and that the repairs should be done by 5:30. With that, Delta was no longer promising connections at Cincinnati.
Passengers piled up in front of E-15's counter to rebook. The line was tortuously slow, at one point moving at one person every 20 minutes. It was recommended by some attendants that we should go out to the check-in desks and try rescheduling there, as it would probably go faster. I was one of the few who took that advice, and although I swore a lot when I saw the line after I passed through security, it turned out to be a good deal. It took me an hour to rebook. Two hours later, people were still standing in the line back at the gate.
Even with other airlines brought into the picture, no options were left for getting into Austin today. With expectations of Sunday being the highlight day of SXSW, I was desperate to get there, so I asked if they could get me to Houston. The woman at the desk said they could, so I was booked. After getting my new itinerary, I went and changed the routing for my baggage and rented a car from Alamo. That last act doubled the cost of transportation for this trip, but, as said, I want to be in Austin tomorrow.
Well, we're going to start our descent, so I have to pack up. I better make that connection. More later.
Well, it's late in the evening and I'm packed and ready to go. There's a rainstorm outside, complete with thunder and lightening. Travel advisories have been issued for five major airports; in the next 20 hours, I hope to fly through two of them.
If things go well the next time I'll be around to update this site will be on Thursday. If things go poorly, I'll probably be writing here tomorrow. If things go really poorly, this site will never be updated again and my parents will have to figure out what to do with my belongings. But even I'm not that big of a pessimist, so see you Thursday.
) ) )
Tomorrow's travel situation is starting to look grim. It's been a dry winter, but the beginning of the weekend will greet us with a winter storm warning. They're talking four to eight inches overnight with a good possibility of freezing rain. I'm not worried that MSP will shut down--after all, it's a northern airport and is prepared to act like one--but a delay in my flight could be critical. The scheduled layover in Cincinnati is only 55 minutes. Anything that could keep me from getting there on time is likely to be a problem.
One day to SXSW.
) ) )
Didn't go to work today. Woke up this morning, felt like crap, decided the commute wouldn't be worth it. Spent most of the morning and early afternoon fighting a headache. Opened windows. That helped. Were my problems simply environmental? Went for a walk. Felt much better. Came back home. Ok at first, now I feel like crap again.
Tomorrow is the last day of work before Texas and SXSW. Should be fun.
) ) )
Side effects of staying home sick: Lots of laundry done, bed still messy. Lots of partial sentences in e-mails and journal. Ideas tossed, projects ignored, time wasted, unnecessary thoughts thunk.
Three days to SXSW.
) ) )
Spent about an hour on the phone with Lisa last night. As usual, it was good to hear what she's been up to. That said, it seems whenever I talk to someone back back in Northeastern Wisconsin, I always end up hearing about some stupid and/or appalling news story going on over there. Unfortunately, last night's call was no exception. Another station was saying that as many as 60 individuals have been attacked by this guy. Gah.
) ) )
The roommate/boyfriend combo is more annoying than usual tonight. They're back in her room right now, singing to each other like mogwais.
) ) )
Well, I moved most of the site over to the new design this evening. The resume will probably happen tomorrow. I'm not entirely happy with how the album came out, but, then again, I sort of expected that when I came up with the design. I haven't really done any testing yet, so results may vary.
) ) )
Now they're singing Violent Femmes songs.
Four days to SXSW.
) ) )
Well, it's a little after midnight. I'm tired but have way to much caffeine in me to even consider going to bed. Rest would be a good thing, though. It's going to be a busy week. Considering how excited I've been about going, it's almost laughable that SXSW isn't even on my radar right now. After all, a week from now I'll be in Austin. (Two weeks from now I'll be in Mountain View.) There are things I need to do before then I haven't even started to think about.
And then there are the other things. The boring things. The regular things I've been putting off. My car is overdue for an oil change. I need to get the muffler fixed. Laundry. Taxes. The cable bill. All of it waits. Have I done anything useful or interesting with the time resulting from these non-pursuits? No, of course not. I meant to call Sarah tonight to see how her new apartment is. I meant to call a couple of other friends to see what they've been up to. I meant to clean my car, I meant to run some errands, I meant to do the dishes, I meant to catch up on some reading. The operative word here, of course, is "meant."
What I've been doing is sitting on my ass, playing on the computer, trying to write, failing, and, more than anything else, thinking. That last one can be dangerous, especially when I'm in a mood for second-guessing myself. There aren't many things I'm really good at, but second-guessing is one of them. Try to beat me at it and I'll kick your ass. Why these subjects pop into my head when they do, I don't know, but when they do, they have a tendency to stick.
Are they things I'd change if I could? I don't know. Maybe. Could I change them? Probably not, so it's probably best for me to just stop thinking about them.
It looks fairly certain that I'm going to be living somewhere else at the beginning of July. Our lease expires at the end of June and with Heather and Rich looking to move to Tennessee sometime around October, it would be prudent to grab an apartment during the season the market tends to be the most flexible. I'm in a better financial position than I was two years ago, so I'll be getting a place by myself. Heh. The four percent vacancy rate helps, too. It's not spetacular, but is much better than the one-percent rate we were confronted with before. I already have a number of leads, many of them in decent buildings at reasonable prices. It may also be an opportunity to move onto a busy, noisy street like Hennepin or Lyndale, locations Heather vetoed during the previous search.
) ) )
I'd been meaning to do it for a long time, but on Friday I finally walked into Discount Video and got a membership. I was sold on the place the moment I inquired about a movie I'd been unable to find anywhere else.
"Do you have a movie called 'The Beast?'"
"The late 80's film about a tank crew during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan?"
"We have that. I think it was filmed in Israel. I assumed you weren't talking about the 1997 science fiction movie about the giant squid."
"I'm not familiar with that one."
"You don't want to be."
Just back from the SuperValu, I set the bags on the floor. "Bad news on the grocery front."
"GJ's was sold."
"They're probably going to close it over the summer for remodeling."
"Yup. Next thing you know, there's going to be tiled floors, dim lighting and employees who take care of your shopping list while you get a foot massage." Not to mention the elemination of the only normal grocery store left in the Uptown area of Minneapolis. Fuckers.
Well, I have a lot more I could write about this evening, but I'm tired and have an incredible headache. You know that scene in Alien where the creature explodes from her ribcage? Well, I feel like I'm about to have something like that happen to the top of my head.
) ) )
I was a couple of minutes late, but that was OK as the meeting hadn't started yet. "I was not at peace with my fellow commuters this morning."
"I used up all my buffer on 35W. Then on 55 some guy blocked an intersection, causing me to hit the rest of the lights."
"If you come in before 10:00, you want to hit the first light after the bridge at middle-to-late green. If you stay around 65 m.p.h., you have a good chance of hitting green lights all the way to 63."
"You're way too detailed about your drive."
"At 63 and Yankee Doodle the don't-walk signal goes solid five seconds before the light turns yellow."
) ) )
Well, I figured it was about time for a redesign. I was aiming for sort of a ticketish look, although I'm not really sure if I came close to that or not. For now only the journal section is going to look like this as I work to iron out any kinks that may pop up. The rest of the site--with the exception of the archived journal entries, where I've decided to archive the design with the content--will get switched over to the new look as the month progresses. (Or, maybe, I'll do it this weekend.) The colors are not Web safe, so browsing experiences may vary. (The site should be a darker blue with some purplish accents here and there.) It has been tested and seems to hold in Netscape 6.2/Win2000 and Win98, IE6/Win98, IE5.5/Win2000, IE5/Mac, Opera 5.12/Win2000 and Opera6/Win98. The design is set to turn off in Netscape 4x, IE4 and earlier, but should still be readable. If you run into any problems, please let me know.