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Thursday, Oct. 27: driving into the rain

Sara, Patty, Kirk, Nate, and I checked out of the hotel, drove to a nearby mall for breakfast (mostly smoothies, surprisingly yummy ones) and looked around a bit, then Sara and I went ahead on our own on the long drive to the other side of the island.

The transition was abrupt and dramatic--we drove into a cloud of humidity, leaving the desert behind and entering a world where everything was green and rainy.

We stopped here and there, in particular to walk to views of a couple of impressive waterfalls. The rain-forest vegetation was crazy.

In Hilo we parked and walked around downtown a bit. We tried to find a couple restaurants from our guidebook, but it was too late by then (most seemed to close around 2pm), so we walked into a random café where Sara got a pretty terrible salad, but I somehow managed to get a pretty good sandwich and corn chowder.

We poked around the farmer's market a bit--just a few stalls at the time--and picked up some rambutans and papayas.

An hour's rainy drive later we got to the house for the night, unpacked and waited for the others. When they arrived we went for dinner at a local Thai restaurant--pretty good, but too hot for everyone to enjoy.

They were leaving the next day and wanted to see at least something of the volcano, so decided to take the long drive down Chain of Craters road to see what we could of the lava.

It was late at that point, we were all still a little jet-lagged, and the drive down to the lava had all the disadvantages of a narrow twisty mountain road with none of the usual advantages, it being pitch black by this time. But we all made it to the bottom (after losing touch and getting a bit confused about what had happened to the other car) and saw the lava.

It was just a bit of glowing red off in the distance, but was still neat to see. We tried walking a little farther after the road ended, but it didn't look like that would improve the view significantly without walking a lot farther across much more rugged terrain than we were prepared for. So we took the long drive back home and slept. Finally!

Wednesday, Oct. 26: flying to Hawaii

I got up fairly late, caught the shuttle to the airport, checked my one bag and got on without incident. I had Wesnoth and some New Yorkers to entertain me.

When I got off at LAX there wasn't an obvious person to ask where to go for my next flight (on a different airline), nor where there any signs, and the only map I found (eventually, after quite a bit of searching around) was a photocopy taped to the side of one of the baggage inspection areas. After asking 3 people, walking across random parking lots, and backtracking a fair amount, I eventually found the right terminal and got checked in for my next flight.

So now LAX is by far my least favorite airport. I understand that it's very large, but maps and signs aren't exactly rocket
science. Every other airport I know of manages to make itself easily navigable by even the most jet-lagged passenger. And it was ugly to boot.

I had some pretty good Nachos as lunch in the terminal before boarding.

I played some more Wesnoth and read a bit more on the next flight, and also managed to get some sleep.

You know you're in Hawaii the moment you get off the plane at KOA--there's no jetway, just stairs, so the humid tropical air hits you immediately; and the terminal and baggage claim are all open-air.

So I picked up my one bag, took the shuttle to the car rental place, and drove off down the highway. I was a little unhappy about having to find a strange place driving at night while jet lagged, and not having driven at all in months. But it all went fine and I was knocking on Sara's door before nine.

This was the last day of Sara's conference, and her last day at the resort, which she was full of enthusiasm for.

She showed me the beach and the resort's local shark pond. The fish weren't large, but were easily identifiable as sharks, thanks especially to their amusing habit of swimming with their triangular dorsal fin slicing through the surface.

We talked to Nate and Kirk a bit, then I took a shower and collapsed into bed in Sara and Patty's hotel room.

Tuesday October 25

There were more than expected loose ends to tie up at work today, so I worked late, then did some last-minute errands and packed before going to bed around 2:30am, partly on the dubious theory that this would help me adjust to Hawaii time.

I also watched a bit of "The Two Towers" while packing. My parents got me the DVD set for christmas but I hadn't actually had the chance to sit down and watch much of it yet.

Monday Oct. 24

It was a fairly ordinary day at work.

I tried watching "Touchez Pas Au Grisbi" at night, with the subtitles turned off to make myself work on my french comprehension. But I wasn't really concentrating on it.

Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 22 and 23

Sara left early in the morning for her conference in Hawaii. After she left I watched a bit of a Bollywood DVD from the library, then went to juggling. The weather wasn't great, so it was inside, and it was only Noah and I there. But we had a pretty good time.

On the way home I picked up a Dosa and some stuff at Mysore Woodland, which I ate while watching the rest of the Bollywood movie, "Main Hoon Na".

I'd never seen one of these before. It was actually fairly well done, though it had all the trite melodromatic plot turns you'd expect--long-lost brothers, deathbed revelations, etc., etc. It really had everything--besides the melodrama, there were fight scenes, silly slapstick, heavily Matrix-influenced special effects, and of course lots of singing and dancing.

Sunday I stayed home and took care of some loose ends in preparation for the Hawaii trip.

Friday Oct. 21

My laptop suddenly stopped suspending with recent kernel versions, so I figured it was time to learn to use "git bisect", a nifty tool for doing a binary search through the kernel history for the change that caused a particular problem. In this case the guilty party turned out to be an alsa developer somewhere, who responded quickly with a patch that made it in just before the new kernel release. Cool!

I probably should have run straight home after work to keep Sara company on her last night home, but instead I wanted to see the japanese professor from yesterday introduce tonight's movie, "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence". I didn't get much from it except that the director was a great dog lover--something fairly obvious from watching the hound in the movie.

The movie itself was quite interesting to watch. Visually it was a combination of traditional flat anime with sequences of digital animation that were suffused with an odd golden glow. One of the most interesting things to watch was the very well-observed expressive hound. The plot and dialog were overly serious and abstract in a way a lot of anime seems to be.

Thursday Oct. 20

This year's fall Japanese film series is organized around the recommendations of three professors, who each chose three themes, and are each giving lectures about them at various times during the term. Today a Japanese guy that picked three anime films, including tommorow nights, was giving a lecture at the School of Social Work, so I figured I'd go. I hung out in the building--not having been in before, it was interesting to see--and got a little work done before the lecture.

The lecture was a bit hard to follow--his english was good, but heavily accented. But he had a few interesting things to say. All I can remember a month later is that he was very insistent on the importance of the idea of "the suit" and of "a-nationality", the latter I guess having to do with the habit of a lot of filmmakers (in anime especially?) to use this vague sort of metropolitan mishmash as the setting for their movies.

inconsistency, early October

I return to this thing after ignoring it for a couple months and find there are entire weeks that I can't find anything interesting to say about. Does that mean I may as well have not lived those weeks? Did I do lots of interesting things that I do remember but just can't associate with those weeks? Who knows.

I do remember Peter B. from Lustre visiting us for a day at work, which was very interesting, though cut short somewhat--it turned out he was only in town for a day (which I find bizarre--if I'm going somewhere for a day I'd just as soon stay a little longer...), and for some reason we'd thought he be there a couple days.

On Friday, the 7th we went to the our first Japanese film series movie for the fall, "Diary of a Shinjuku Thief", which I can't really say I understood but was fun to watch. We had Dosai at Madras Masala beforehand.

Graham, Nicole, and Azalea visited us for Saturday, the 8th, and we did the usual things--breakfast out, lunch at Madras Masala (I have a high Dosa tolerance), lots of Graham's obsessive grocery shopping in between. Nicole was irritated at Graham for the obsessive grocery shopping and the non-stop travelling with baby in tow. Both of them seemed to think Azalea was in a terrible mood, though she seemed pretty agreeable to us, so she must be a relatively quiet baby. We enjoyed seeing them in any case--next time we'll have to visit there.

Sara showed us all some huge puffball mushrooms in the forest on the other side of Broadway, and we brought a couple home. One of them barely fit on the shelf in our refrigerator.

Tuesday, the 11th, our science fiction/fantasy book group had its annual book-choosing meeting, which has become increasingly long and contentious as more people have started showing up with more suggestions. In the end we came up with a pretty interesting list, I think.

Friday, the 14th, we saw the Cowboy Bebop movie at the japanese film series. One of the characters is a Corgi, a big attraction for Sara, but maybe a bit of a disappointment in the end--the dog was cute but didn't really do that much. The movie had its points but some of it (especially the ending) seemed kind of uninteresting.

Casque d'Or, library

Friday night we watched "Casque D'Or" over dinner, which was reasonably fun but won't change either of our lives.

Saturday afternoon I spent in the library, alternately working and reading a volume of the comic "Preacher", which I felt had a clear target audience that I wasn't a member of. The work actually went reasonably well as, by some fairly dumb brute-force debugging, I managed to understand something new about the privacy code that I'm trying to finish off for submission.

The library must have had a new order of comics come in recently--I left "Preacher" there, but brought home a Sandman volume that I hadn't read yet, "Fables and Reflections". That night I read Sara to sleep with the first few pages of "The Hobbit"--I was trying to remember the names of the 13 dwarves--then I read the first couple Sandman stories. I liked them more than I usually do. I'm particularly happy to have learned the story of the San Francisco man that proclaimed himself Norton I, Emperor of the United States.

Lessig and more

Friday afternoon I went to see Lawrence Lessig speak. He was inspirational, and had some fun examples, but I don't feel that I learned all that much.

Afterwards Peter and I had dosas (dosai??) at Mandras Masala and, went to his loft for a little while, then met Sara at Rackham to see E. O. Wilson speak.

As it turned out the auditorium was full and we had to listen to speakers in the room next door. I wasn't terrifically interested. Peter fell asleep.

Lessig's talk had been a keynote at a weekend-long conference on plagiarism and originality hosted by the Sweetland center. So I went to a couple sessions Saturday and then hung out with the jugglers a bit.


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