Tentative Road Trip Plan, Late Summer 2004
Agressive? Yup. It includes over 6000 miles in 16 1/2 days—roughly 40% of it on two-lane roads—with stops planned for Phoenix, San Diego and Portland, all where I know people, and Vancouver, where I don't. It also includes lengthy stops at Banff and Olympic National Parks. There are a lot of variables that could prevent it from happening, of course, not the least of which include buying a house or experiencing a vacation-veto at work. We'll see. Right now I'm aiming for late July through early August, although that's somewhat flexible. (I'm planning on having the Turkey Party in late August and would like to have a couple of buffer weeks between the events.) For the short term, I have a lot of research to do around prices and locations, as I really have to keep the entire trip under $1500. If I don't think I can do that, I'll probably have to scale the trip back some.
In other news, I need a new car.
~ ~ ~
Fair warning: The first person to call or write to lecture me on the fine points of vehicle depreciation will get smacked.
I took a vacation day today, my first since I headed down to visit Sarah last December. I didn't do anything particularly exciting—I changed my cellular provider, cancelled the cable and worked on my 401k—but in a way that was kind of nice by itself.
That said, I do need a real vacation. I'm just not sure when or where it's going to be. Okay, that's not completely true, but my plan for the latter part of summer is so aggressive I'm not convinced it's actually a good idea.
More on that later. Maybe.
Items Noted Elsewhere:
NY Times "We screwed up on Iraq" Edition
So, this evening I get home, and I'm hungry, so I eat some Oatmeal Raisin Crisp. And then I think, hmm, I could use some caffeine and sugar. So I drink some Dr. Pepper.
Friends, let me warn you: That is a very bad combination. Avoid it at all costs. Trust me.
~ ~ ~
This evening The World interviewed Edmund Sanders, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times based in Baghdad, on Iraqi reaction to President Bush's speech last night. Response to Bush's plan to tear down the prison at Abu Ghraib was not what many would've expected:
"One thing, though, that was unanimous, was that nobody understood why it made sense to tear down the prison... At a minimum it was a waste of a resource. You need prisons, to tear one down didn't make any sense to them. And a lot of people felt the main reason for this was that the Americans were embarrassed by what happened there and they wanted to sort of cover it up... Even the interior minister said today that there's nothing wrong with the prison, it's the people that were in the prison."
General rule to go by in the future: Regardless of whether actions are done for the good of Iraq or for political gain back in the States, any future U.S. actions will be greeted in the worst possible way by the majority of Iraq's citizens. This will include every significant step we make up until the day we leave, and quite possibly the very act of leaving itself.
If you're interested, the audio file from the interview is available here in Windows Media format. And with that, I'm going to try to stop talking about politics for a while.
While I'm generally not one to give President Bush credit for much of anything, I have to admit he put in a pretty good speech tonight. Granted, he did go off on a tangent linking Iraq to terrorism again—a link that wasn't there until we cleared Saddam out of the way to make it possible—but, overall, his words still seemed lucid and, dare I say, reasoned. OK, they seemed disturbingly naive as well, but that's still a dramatic improvement over everything else we've been presented with recently.
That's not to suggest I'm hopeful, of course, as civil war still looks just as likely as representative democracy. But since the invasion is already ancient history, and since there's no moral way for us to simply back out, we probably just have to hope like hell that this entire mess will work out like the administration hoped it would. And hey, if it does work, maybe Iran will fall next, only without the messy unilateral military action.
And if it doesn't, well, we're kind of screwed. But you knew that already.
~ ~ ~
Eh, maybe I spoke too soon about the Iran bit. From Newsday: Sources say U.S. funded arm of Iraqi Congress was used by Iran. An excerpt:
The Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that a U.S.-funded arm of Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress has been used for years by Iranian intelligence to pass disinformation to the United States and to collect highly sensitive American secrets... "Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the United States through Chalabi... to provoke the United States into getting rid of Saddam Hussein," said an intelligence source Friday who was briefed on the Defense Intelligence Agency's conclusions.
It was the third time the subject had come up in less than two weeks. Copious amounts of alcohol were involved this time around, but other than that the conversation was pretty much the same:
"Danielson!" The bar was noisy.
"How old are you?"
"We're just talking... How old are you?"
"What? You are not 28."
"Yeah I am."
"Fuck you. When's your birthday?"
"July 13th, uh, July..."
"Bullshit. Show me your license."
"Show me your license. You are not 28."
I handed him my license.
"July nine, 2007," he said. "What?"
"That's the expiration date, dumbass."
"July nine, 1975. You are 28."
"That's what I said."
"You're 28. Fuck you. And you talk to me like that? Show a little respect."
After the mock-altercation, I turned to some witnesses. "Did you listen to that?" They both laughed. "Do I really look like I'm 33?" One answered yes, the other answered no way. I pursued the affirmative answer. "What, is it the beard, or..?"
"I don't mean to be mean, Mark, but it's this." She ran her finger along my hairline.
"Dammit. I've had the same hairline since middle school."
"You know that. We know that. No one else knows that."
Items Noted Elsewhere: Fahrenheit 9/11 Edition
This morning I discovered Edward Jr., the philodendron residing in my living room, had put down roots into the floor and the back of my couch.
I should probably get it a larger pot.
~ ~ ~
"I don't know," I said. "Sometimes I just feel I'm not getting anywhere."
"Have a little patience. How old are you? 34? 35? You're still young for where you are right now."
"How old did you say I am?"
"No you're not."
"Yes I am."
"You are not 28."
"Uh, I am 28."
"I don't believe you."
"Well, I'm closer to 29, but..."
"You're full of it. Show me your license."
I pulled out my driver's license and handed it to her.
"You're kidding me. You are 28."
"I told you..."
"Get out of here. You're 28. I don't even want to talk to you."
~ ~ ~
Two days later, different people, similar conversation.
"Do I really look like I'm in my mid-30s?"
"I knew the beard added a few years, but..."
"It's not just the beard, Mark."
Walking out of the camera store this evening, I paused to read the note taped to the back of the battery charger I'd stopped by to pick up: "Mark Danielson—Bought D70, did not get battery charger. Be nice to him."
~ ~ ~
So, anyway, I have a new camera. I'd hoped to run downtown to test it out, but the threat of inclement weather convinced me to keep my new (and very expensive) toy inside. The result of that decision was practically inevitable.
I know the above photo is a bit grainy, but considering I took it in a very dim room and with the camera's sensitivity set to the equivalent of ISO 1600, I'm fairly pleased with the results. Also, on a non-technical note, the cat made the unusual decision to sit still for the three seconds it took to take the photo, so I'm pleased with that, too.
I'm meeting Diana for coffee on Sunday. Baring any threats to my life or property, she'll probably be the D70's first human subject.
What CDW wasn't able to accomplish in six weeks Mark was able to handle with an open Thursday evening and a short list of local camera stores.
I know it's probably not good to derive much joy from material goods, but this makes me very, very happy.
~ ~ ~
Update: The camera kit was missing its battery. Dammit.
~ ~ ~
For the record, Wednesday ended with me home sick in bed. It wasn't the preferred outcome to the first half of the week, but I suppose it was better than some of the possible alternatives.
1:50 a.m. I just got back from a walk, a late one even for me.
Sunday was kind of weird. Monday topped it, and then Tuesday completely topped Monday. I'm not sure I'm ready for Wednesday is going to bring.
"Hello, thank you for calling CDW. How may I help you?"
"Hi, I just got an email that said I should call in to confirm an order."
"Can I have the order number please?"
"Okay, let me pull it up here. Hmmm. It says it's been cancelled."
"You cancelled this order."
"I never cancelled the order. I've been waiting for it since April 6th."
"That's what it says."
"I never cancelled the order."
"Let me read through here. Jennifer Bossick is the account manager... Did you talk to her?"
"Not today. She called the day after I put in the order to confirm it, and I called her towards the end of April to see what the status was."
"It says here you didn't return her confirmation calls, and that you didn't respond to two confirmation emails."
"Hold on. I got one email from her on April 14th telling me the camera was still on backorder—it didn't ask me to confirm anything—and another today saying I had three days to confirm the order."
"I'm sorry, that's what it says. I could put in a new order for you if you'd like."
". . ."
"Let me see... Oh, it looks like they're out of stock."
"You were just showing them as in stock on your site a few days ago."
"Well, it looks like they're not in stock right now."
"How long is the wait?"
"Let's see. Nikon is saying they should deliver more around the end of the month."
"You've got to be kidding me."
~ ~ ~
"Hey, I'm just calling it as I see it."
"Actually," I said, "you're calling it as you perceive it."
~ ~ ~
Well, it looks like Minneapolis is about to get hammered. 5:30 in the afternoon and it's like night outside. The neighborhood's warning sirens aren't on, but I can hear those of other areas in the distance.
They're saying there's a tornado down in Brooklyn Park now. Not good.
~ ~ ~
Okay, I'm going to grab my camera and do something stupid. Later.
~ ~ ~
Update, 6:15 p.m. The storm blew by quite fast and dropped a lot of hail, but not much else. That's good, of course, but it made for boring pictures.
Also, the cat went apeshit this evening, although that wasn't completely unexpected.
~ ~ ~
Update 11:45 p.m. Just got back from a walk around the Isles. Lots of tree damage, including a couple of larger trees that were completely taken out. It's kind of sad, really.
In related news, my nose hurts. But more on that some other time.
Lisa was up in the Twin Cities for work this weekend. She had Saturday afternoon off, so we wandered around Calhoun, got robbed at Cheapo and had dinner at Bar Abilene. I made the unusual decision to travel sans camera and pen, so the photo opportunities and funny conversations that usually would've been recorded were instead lost to the ages. Such is the nature of a poor memory, I suppose. Or maybe that's just the way most people operate. I guess I wouldn't know.
~ ~ ~
"You're not working this weekend, are you?"
"Not today. I have a friend dropping by this afternoon."
"What about tomorrow?"
"I have some things I have to take care of."
"Well, kind of."
"Hey, I'm taking a vacation day on the 28th."
"Oh yeah? Where are you going?"
"Uh, nowhere. I'm just taking a day off."
"Just stuff. I have some daytime errands to catch up on."
"You need to get out of Minneapolis."
~ ~ ~
The photo album is on hold again. Thursday's late-night transfer to the new design failed in a rather spectacular fashion, so the old blue look is back, and it may stick for a while. That's kind of frustrating. The album is the one section of the site I'd like to automate, but so far I haven't had any luck finding a system that does anything close to what I want.
77 degrees in Minneapolis today. Maybe I should put in my air conditioner.
I mean, it's not like I'm going anywhere.
My weekend summed up in three bullet points:
- Friday: Met with a number of fellow MetaFilter geeks at the Black Forest Inn in Minneapolis. A good time was had by all. Photos here. (Yes, the photo album is still using the old design. At least that section of the site is breathing again. Watch for photos from Ben and Lisa's housewarming later this week.)
- Saturday: Mark decides to trim the cat's nails, and makes the tactically-poor decision to execute the task in a room full of open windows with tweeting birds just outside. Putter's nails are now dull, but Mark was left with a large nail cut across the bridge of his nose.
- Sunday: Mark decides to renew his car insurance. The results were less than satisfactory: