Monday, Tuesday: DC to Ann Arbor

I did some more computer stuff Monday. In the afternoon my parents dropped me off at the Takoma Park metro station and I did last weeks trip in reverse: metro to Union Station, train to Toledo, bus to Ann Arbor, then a walk back to work.

I had a nice time sitting in the lounge car eating dinner and alternately reading and watching the world go by.

I read some more of "House of Leaves", and made it through another quarter or so of the very fat complete version of "Bone" that Helen loaned me before I left. I also watched most of "In Good Company", which was an irritatingly predictable Hollywood treatment of some supposedly relevant topic (corporate layoffs and politics--but does it really matter what?).

The train was very crowded--presumably everyone was returning from Memorial day weekend--so for once I actually had a seatmate. I tried hard, but just didn't manage to get any significant amount of sleep at all, so by the time I made it to work Tuesday morning I was pretty shot.

So by early afternoon I split and took a long nap at home. I was worried that'd throw off my sleep schedule even more, but as it turned out I had no trouble getting to sleep again that night.

Sunday: computer problems

I spent some time in the morning, then more later on, trying to get my dad's antivirus software working. After entirely too long with tech support, their final suggestion was to uninstall and then reinstall. His copy came with the laptop, there was no CD, and despite the fact that he had a paid-up subscription, they didn't seem able to give him a way to download another copy. Arrrg!

We also got my mom a new computer--a bottom-of-the-line emachines box which seemed nevertheless quite capable.

Setting it up, though, I'm acutely aware of all the small things that could be done to screw it up, and all the ways you could click on just the wrong thing and end up in some confusing situation.

I don't quite understand how non-computer geeks survive these days. I know that my computers sometimes do weird things that require troubleshooting, but I'd always assumed that was just because I had some idiosyncratic Linux setup. My parents are on Windows, doing only very normal things that their software is supposedly designed to do, but still it all seems very fragile. And when stuff breaks their computers are hostage to the software companies who are the only ones that can really fix anything. Blech.

My dad showed me some of his pictures from his and Helen's trip to Mali. Wow, looked like an interesting place.

Saturday: 20 years

I spent the morning working on some more frustrating computer stuff.

From 3 to 6 there was a reception at a local hotel celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Montgomery Blair Science Magnet. I'd been in the very first class of the program, and my sister in the fifth. Many of the people there weren't born yet when I started high school, but there were 7 or 8 people from my class. It turned out Lorrie had actually been in Ann Arbor (and met with Peter) pretty recently. And she was there only because she'd run into Howard in Tokyo a few weeks ago (she was at a conference, he's there working for google). Anyway, it was fun to catch up with them, and with the teachers: one of my computer science teachers and my guidance counselor had died recently, but I think all the others (except the original director of the program) were there.

Afterwards Helen and I went out for dinner with Marcus and Howard.

Friday: A Midsummer Night's Dream

My dad met me at Union Station, then my mom met me and him at the Takoma Park metro station.

One of the excuses for this trip was to set up the network at my parents' house so they could all use their new DSL connection. But it turns out there wasn't much to do--the DSL modem from their ISP came with built-in router, dhcp, ethernet switch, and wireless access point, so it was just a matter of plugging things in.

After they'd napped--I was tired, but afraid if I slept in the afternoon my sleep schedule at night would get even weirder--we met Helen on for a picnic on the grass outside the amphitheater where The Shakespeare Theater was doing a free showing of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

One of the picnic goodies was a packet of wasabi peanuts. I think the secret to enjoying them is proper breathing technique--breathing out through your nose in particular seems to be a mistake.

As we went in they asked if we had cameras. I didn't answer. These days, that's such an obviously ludicrous question--do they expect people to hand over their cell phones?

The play was very well done, of course--especially the sets, costumes, and lighting. The humor seemed overdone sometimes--I occasionally wished they'd let us decide what was funny for ourselves instead of hitting us over the head with it. And there are parts that just always seem to me to drag on, regardless of how well done. I've never gotten the play-with-in-a-play bit. But still, it was funny. A brawl in a "lake" (recessed into the front of the stage, it looked like it was probably not actually more than an inch or two deep) was especially good.

Thursday to Friday: Toledo to DC

I read for a little on the train, then tried to sleep.

There were noisy children in front of me and a group of friends behind me who seemed to find *everything* hilariously funny. But I had no seatmate, and managed to make myself reasonably comfortable, after some trial and error. I probably got 5 hours of sleep or so in the end.

The next day we mostly followed a river, with lovely green hills all around. I also find the human activity by the tracks kind of interesting to look at. Trains, houses, trailers, mysterious industrial works, ruins, graffiti, etc.

I had an omelette in the dining car for breakfast, sat in the observation car a while, and read some more at random from House of Leaves, which continues to be interesting.

The train arrived at Union station an hour and a half late, about average for that train, I think.

Thursday night: Ann Arbor to Toledo

I met Sara for dinner at Eastern Accents at 6:30. I had a couple buns for dinner. We walked up to the Amtrak station and she waited with me till the bus came, a few minutes late, at around 8.

When it came I took silly pictures of her waving outside the window. I wondered what they needed such a big bus for to take a half-dozen people from Ann Arbor to Toledo. As it turned out, it was by way of Detroit, and by the time we got to Detroit it seemed nearly full.

Anyway, I got a start on House of Leaves. With the unusual format I felt particularly free to dive in however I felt; so I went through the table of contents, tried to decipher some of the appendices, read a couple random passages from the middle, then finally went back and started the introduction.

By that time we were in Toledo, and I was pretty hungry. The train to DC was only running 25 minutes late, leaving me with maybe a 40 minute wait. It was dark and chances of finding food outside the station at that point seemed slim so I just got a couple snacks out of the vending machine and figure I'd hope the snack bar on the train hadn't sold out yet.

After my snacks and a bit more reading I found myself a wall outlet and wrote this, while I copied my random blurry pictures from the full camera card.

reading to look forward to

I finished my Lupin book the last night, and it was back to "La Vie, Mode D'emploi" for the bus ride to work.

But the book group Sara and I go to is reading "House of Leaves" for next time, and it looks very long and complicated. So I picked up a copy at Dawn Treader and plan to get a serious start on that on the train to DC tommorow.

The "train" is actually a bus that leaves Ann Arbor at 8pm to meet the train in Toledo at 10:45. Given Amtrak's record, that's likely to be closer to midnight. It'll be interesting to see how that works.

Anyway, with lots of reading to look forward to, life is good.

band idea #1023

Listening to the stirring BBC News Hour theme this morning, I realized that someone needs to start a band devoted entirely to covers of the theme music for news shows. It could become the first band with a full-time typewriter player.

hydrogen, lupin, illusion

Saturday night I played with hydrogen a bit. It's fun for a while, but no matter what you do with it seems to sound too much like a drum machine....

Sunday I mostly sat around and read the Arsène Lupin book I started last week. It's kind of preposperous at times, but mostly fun.

Sunday night I watched Renoir's "La Grande Illusion", which I expected to be boring for some reason, but I ended up liking a lot.

My folks finally got their DSL up and working last week. They only have the one laptop hooked up to it right now, though. I'm visiting next weekend and figure I'll spend some of the time trying to get their network set up.

should I move my blog to drupal?

I've been keeping a blog of sorts by hand for a while now. But I'm going to try out Drupal for a while just to figure out whether I like it better.


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