Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 01:27:32 -0500
From: dannyman <email@example.com>
To: DaZeD! Notification <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [dazed] the time is now
well, in the morning i'll wake up, finish packing, clean the floor, and head
out in the beetle to california.
it still seems unreal, but i reckon it'll pass. this is the wackiest thing
i've done with my life since joining the army, and i agree with grandma when
she said this struck her as a much much much better thing that joining the
on friday i returned to chicago and closed my bank accounts ... well, actually
i left about $500 in checking and i've got to balance to make sure nothing
will bounce, but i've a happy bankroll to bring me out here, then a few
thousand dollars with which to pay rent and cover tuition on upon arrival.
then i went by enteract, going out to lunch with vernell and sharon, and
buying pizza in the evening for those employees present.
saturday, i got the two kegs for our party, then went with the family to the
humanities convocation. afterwards it was barbequeing, drinking and hot tub
madness. beth dropped by later in the evening and there was some nice
today? pretty lazy, we woke up late and had breakfast at aunt sonya's. beth
again dropped by and we had a little walk and a talk together. the day was
cleaning and packing and watching tv. we also helped chad grade cs225 exams.
tomorrow? wake up, finish packing, drop off my cap and gown, await the ups
shipment, do additional tuning to the car, pack up the car and hit the road.
i start one week from today - next monday that is. i'm betting lucy will make
it out there without any major troubles. the odometer oughtta flip right
around CA. I'll snap a picture, i promise. one friend observed before i
could think of it the symbolism of making a "new start".
perhaps i'll find some flowers for my hair as i drive through san francisco.
well, consider this a preview of a forthcoming journal entry, and a thanks to
those of you on this list who have played key roles in making my future seem
all the more reasonable. i love you all.
see you on the other side.
.. terminating transmission from urbana ..
dannyman - http://www.dannyland.org/~dannyman/
http://www.dannyland.org/cgi-bin/majordomo for assistance.
Wednesday, 12 May
Wednesday before last I finished my last final, for Geology 118, at about 9AM. I walked out of Greg Hall and toward the crowd and just kept thinking to myself, “Done, Done! DONE! DONE!!”
It’s one thing to be done with a final. It is another to be done with all your finals, and thus with your semester. It is another thing to be done with your last semester, about to graduate. It’s another thing to be done with the last formal education you have any immediate plans for for the rest of your life.
Saturday, 15 May
After relaxing and packing and otherwise casually enjoying myself and trying to tune the car, and visiting Chicago one last time, I woke up Saturday and remember driving over to Piccadilly and fitting two kegs of beer into the back of the Volkswagen – one Honey Brown and one Ice House. Throw in another 100 lbs of ice and you have yourself a party, if you count the propane fillup, and all the food and other stuff gathered by Scott and Chad, and the legwork done on getting the hot tub working, on the part of Scott and Oleg.
Before taking off for Piccadilly, Dad and Gwen arrived. After getting the kegs set up and Mom, Grandma, Uncle John and Jessy arrived from Chicago, we headed over to Foellinger for Humanities Convocation II. A relatively small ceremony by U of I standards, but still probably lasting at least an hour, each of us from several majors, most notably English and Rhetoric, taking our turns to strut across the stage. Everyone was in a good humor.
Upon returning home, some friends of Chad had already arrived and the grilling was beginning. Scott started out strong on the grill, making much food as he had prepared to do. As the night wore on Tunji, Goth Dan, Brijeet, Jay, Tim Skirvin and all the Allenites, ‘toly and Morris and Anne Nowinski and Rene and others showed up. Vern rode the nookie van down from Chicago and Mark Meyer and his girlfriend showed up. What started as a nice cookout got better as the hot tub opened up, and the less inhibited folks, almost exclusively my friends, tried it out. The sun went down, Beth came by, beer in a hot tub … ahhh …
Sunday, 16 May
… and we woke up the next morning … Adam had slept on our couch, and I believe he and Scott were hung over, the hot tub having a dehydrating affect which improves the punch of alcohol. About one in the afternoon we finally got up and going with Chad and Christina over to I think the place is Merry Anne’s. Good breakfast food. In the afternoon Beth came by and we took a walk together and bid some goodbyes. The day was good and slow and lazy, and included the Simpsons going to Japan, which I found hysterical and over the top. Plus a rerun of a good, classic X-Files.
Monday, 17 May
My bike rack and other car parts arrived via UPS in a pretty timely fashion. The last bits were packed in boxes, the rear seat folded down, computers in the way back, under boxes and boxes and blankets. Bike rack and two bikes, one being Erik Gilling’s, on the back. Passenger’s seat held junk food, monitor on the front seat floor, covered by a blanket. Dad and Gwen arrived from Chicago and thus did we hit the road, eventually finding our way up to 80 West and driving on through Iowa until the wee hours when I started feeling punchy and we pulled over in a small town in Nebraska. I slept across the front seat, wrapped in a sleeping bag, legs resting out the driver’s window. Dunno if Dad got a picture of that or not.
Tuesday, 18 May
So in the wee hours did Gwen wake Dad who woke me. She hadn’t heard from Desi and wanted to get back by CO as soon as possible. It was like 0430h or somesuch, and we pulled away from the small town in the early morning dewy air. As we sped towards the highway I saw a deer kick up, its white tail flying along. A little ways down the road we had breakfast, and kept driving through the day, stopping mostly at truck stops like Sapp Bros. Gwen was shopping for an Angel to replace the loaner that was riding on my dashboard. Figured anything that helps me West, including heavenly intervention, can’t hurt.
Later down the road I checked on the monitor, and found that it and several other items had suffered heat damage. You know how Beetles don’t have heat? Mine does! Entire canisters of deodorant had vaporized, my electric shaver had melted, blowing out some battery acid for good measure. The plastic on the front of the monitor adopted a cool Salvadore Dali affect, as Dad described it … hrmmm, well, we cleared off the passenger seat floor, moving the monitor to a position under the bonnet, and the junk food rested on a clothing box which held my cup holder well. On the road again …
Come the afternoon, we stopped at a town that claims to be Buffalo Bill Cody’s home town. I remembered the gift shop from a previous trip out West. The racism tends to bother me, but then I’ve been going to University of Illinois, where the appropriation of Native American culture is a recurring topic of controversy. Not much farther down the road it was time to part company. Dad and Gwen rode their interstate into Colorado and I continued down 80.
Later that evening, I stopped in Chappell, Nebraska. After getting gas, Lucy stalled down the street, and wouldn’t start again. I walked over to a Bar and Grill that was decorated with cattle brands and had a generous taco / tortilla combo plate and a Coke. Back to Lucy, the rest did her no good. It was too late for a mechanic, and I took the sleeping bag and tent over to a nearby campground, which was unmanned.
Later in the night I shifted in my sleep, and found the sleeping bag zipper was broken, splitting down the seams. It started getting colder, and colder, I became uncomfortable. I took a walk back to town, stopped in a bar and inquired about a nearby hotel. Got directions, down the street about five blocks, never found it. Ended up sleeping in the car, this time curled up with the windows shut.
Wednesday, 19 May
I awoke the next morning, and there were two mechanic’s shops within a block and a half. Neither were yet open. I retrieved my tent, and they were still closed. I hunkered down with Lucy as I had the evening before, and for lack of inspiration of what I could do, did a valve job. It was, after all, morning. Well wouldn’t ya know it but she started? Back on down the road!
I puttered along, Lucy less than entirely happy and me suspecting I might have bunged something with the valves. Got out of Nebraska and stopped for gas in Wyoming, with my eye out for a mechanic. No mechanic where I stopped, so I figured I’d stop further down the road. Lucy stopped a few hundred feet from the gas station, and called a tow truck.
Got towed to one place that wouldn’t handle Volkswagens, and then we ended up, with no additional mileage, at Collins Automotive, a shop that specializes in older vehicles. We were greeted by a surly old guy with s short white beard, who said I couldn’t work on the vehicle on his property, if only because they believed that at their shop, it was their quality work. He said also that they normally did appointment work, and could maybe get to me tomorrow. I rode on up to the Holiday Inn on my bike and splurged the $75 to stay there that night. My idea was that he was the prototypical grumpy old sysadmin type of personality, and that by acting meek and staying out of his way, his curiosity would take over, and he’d get to my car a lot earlier than he’d let on.
Like I said, I splurged on the Holiday Inn. Unfortunately their pool was closed, but I got a nice thorough shower and cable TV. Between being alone on the road, the car insisting on failing ever since parting from Dad, the frustration of the night before, the crappy progress that day, and the crochety old coot of a mechanic, and the clean, air-conditioned quiet of the Cheyenne hotel room, and the lack of anything to read, I suddenly felt horribly lonely. I came near tears, read a few passages from the Bible – bless them Gideons, and then screwed myself down, my macho side reminding me that there had been those heading West before me that faced far worse obstacles, and that there was really nothing preventing me from getting to CA on time, whether my Wagen died or not. Nothing to be too upset over really.
So I watched the latter part of that movie where Richard Gere is framed for murder in China, grateful that the very ending was not the cliche I feared it would be. Some more TV, and dozed off to sleep, snug as a bug, as it were.
Thursday, 20 May
I knew those guys would tackle the car, so I headed downstairs, ate a liesurely, if expensive breakfast, and headed back to the mechanics.
Car was good. The bill was impressively modest. Timing had been way off.
Took off down the road, Lucy purring away. Slowed down for the construction that is ever-present throughout Nebraska and Wyoming, then sped up again, speed climbing and … dead.
Walked a few hundred feet back to the construction site, found a manager with a cell phone, called the shop, got some advice, walked back.
Advice no help. Walked back to the construction. The guy with the phone was gone, but another guy in a little car with a cracked windshield gave me a ride back to the repair shop. I offered him a few bucks, as he said he’d been inquiring about a badly-needed job with the road crew, he declined. The grumpy old man of the day before was far more hospitable this time, and when his coworker, Bill, another old guy with a short-cropped white beard and kindly demeanor, who reminded me an awful lot of Uncle Bill McConeghey, returned from lunch he drove out to Lucy in his pickup truck. I’d only made it a few miles down 80. He couldn’t get her started either, and so I rode in Lucy behind a tow strap back to the shop. Not an easy thing, but by riding the brakes I got the hang of it.
Where yesterday I’d gotten a single grouchy old man, today I got a pit crew swarming around Lucy. The two older guys and another in his forties named Bob, they puzzled over why she didn’t start – she had gas and spark. A little exploratory surgery, and the coil was found questionable, and the points and condenser were bad. A coil from an old BMW parts car, and other quick replacements later, tightening down the distributor, and Lucy was happy. After extensive test-driving, I managed to finally get her to start dying again. A little adjust to the carb idle on Bill’s part and she was golden. More test driving and we took off down the road.
And things were good.
And I drove.
And I drove.
Near midnite, I was nearing Utah. Not long later I suddenly lost power, as if I had lost a cylinder. DAMMIT! I got into a truck stop and decided to nap until the morning when I’d do a valve adjustment.
Friday, 21 May
Well, I couldn’t sleep. Part of it was the generator in the truck I had parked next to to avoid the flashing lights of the truck stop, and part of it was restlessness from a sound sleep from the lazy night before. Around 0200h I got out, set up the flashlight, and did a valve adjustment. She was a little warm and the valves were mostly pretty happy. Well, putting things back together the flashlight suddenly went out. Weird. Walked to the store and the bulb looked okay, bought some batteries. No go. Returned and picked out a nice-looking maglite. The lady at he counter suggested that the Coleman four-pack of flashlights was a better deal. Okay. I hadn’t been doing so hot lately so I got the four flashlights, hoping they might start breeding, maybe.
Had enough light to get the bikes back on and secured to the rack with bungee cords. And I was off.
Still, she wasn’t the happiest bug in the world, and it wasn’t the valves, and it couldn’t be the timing, I didn’t think. Could it be the altitude?
While I had time to think, slowing to 45 and shifting in to third up them mountains, crossing the Utah border, I thought about heat, and altitude, and thin air, and burning fuel, and warming up and eventually hypothesised that between the thinner air and the cold night air and the middle-grade fuel I had been treating her too, she just wasn’t firing on her cylinders with the power she wanted. Next fill up it was cheap gas, 85 octane if I remember correctly. She started perking up.
Drove through Salt Lake city about 0400h, getting a little lost because of their shutting down I-80 and having a poorly-marked detour route. The sun was coming up as I crossed the salt flats. I pulled in to one of the few fueling stations along the way, a makeshift truck stop which had a gas station, a small store, and a restaurant around back built from two trailer homes. I wanted to keep going, but my body didn’t. Two hours of sleep at the gas station, sitting upright in the driver’s seat, head leaning on a pillow.
Saturday, 22 May
Around 0800h and 0900h I had some eggs over easy and toast and orange juice and coffee in the restaurant. My bill came to less than five dollars. I think I left six or seven, because it was more pleasant than the overpriced meal I’d had in Cheyenne two mornings ago, and I hadn’t eaten breakfast the day before, just a cup of coffee at the truck stop.
On the road again. Wondering if that white stuff on the ground was snow or white sand or salt. Farther west, there was water, but it was still, probably because of its brackishness and probably because the desert is not a very windy place. It shined like a mirror, and was a very nice picture, reflecting the sand and the sky. Surreal. I wanted to stop and explore, but I wanted even more to finish my journey.
Stopping for gas, I encountered a large group of folks my own age travelling in a caravan of vehicles. As I added another quart and hypothesised that maybe they were a church group, one of the ladies asked had I come all the way from Illinois, and that she had a squareback that she didn’t trust very far at all.
I had indeed, I told her, breaking down only a few times, and that it was kinda boring without a radio.
That’s right, no radio. I tried to score one off of Andrew Ho, who it turns out is also coming out this way in the future, but I couldn’t get in touch with him fast enough before leaving town. Besides, the early Wagons had no radios. Heh …
I asked what her group was, and it was from some college tracking some bird … If memory serves the college was Carleton and the bird was the Peregrine Falcon, but I could just be making this up.
And on we drove, leaving Utah, spending much time in Nevada. Boring armpit of a state.
Reluctantly crouched at the starting line
Engines pumping and thumping in time
The green light flashes, the flags go up
Churning and burning they yearn for the cup
They deftly maneuver, and muscle for rank
Fuel burning fast on an empty tank
Reckless and wild, they pour through the turns
Their prowess is potent, and secretly stern
As they speed through the finish, the flags go down
The fans get up and they go out of town
The arena is empty, except for one man
Still striving and driving as fast as he can
The sun has gone down and the moon has come up
And long ago somebody left with the cup
But he’s striving and driving and hugging the turns
And thinking of someone for whom he still burns
HE’S GOING THE DISTANCE!
HE’S GOING FOR SPEED!
She’s all alone, in a time of need
Because he’s racing and chasing and plotting a course
He’s striving and driving and riding on his horse
He’s going the distance
He’s going for speed
He’s going the distance …
That song was on auto-play in my head for a long time. Cake, The Distance. Good song. Ask me for the mp3 some time.
At first I was afraid I was petrified
Kept thinkin’ I could never live without you by my side
But then I spent so many nights just thinkin’ how you done me wrong
And I grew strong
And I learned how to get along …
Ahhh, yes Gloria Gaynor did it well, but then again it’s Cake’s performance that just sort of haunts me.
You know, Nevada is like four hundred or so miles across. I crossed it in one blur, noting the gas getting progressively more expensive as I approached California.
Slowly did I approach Reno. And drove through Reno, and crossed the border, and was asked if I had any fresh fruit or vegetables on me. Nope, just junk food, and you know it was downhill straight through the Sierra Nevadas, or whatever the heck they are. I got 30 MPG. It seemed fitting that my mileage should increase nearly 50% upon crossing the California border.
Around Davis the odometer flipped. I managed to pull over and get pictures with the digits halfway across the line.
And as it was getting on in the evening, and it was on the way, I got off I-80 at San Pablo and tried in vain to find MikeyA’s place, maybe a suprise and a meal.
You know … there be hills in San Pablo. The biggest difference, I thought to myself, was that California has hills. And since they mark not only with traffic signs but with copious pavement markings, driving takes on a three-dimensional aspect. Nothing like pulling away from a stop sign in second gear. There were a few awful scraping sounds as Lucy’s loaded rear end found pavement to scratch against.
Anyway, I found a pay phone and Dana gave me instructions on how to find the liqour store Mikey was workin’ at that night. Found the place no problem and gave Mike a good suprise. He and Dana proved again to be gracious hosts and I communed with their couch another night.
So, to finish the story I was telling, after a night at MikeyA‘s, I spent some time with Aunt Joyce and Harlyn. They live in Alameda, near Oakland and across the bay from Palo Alto, where Tellme is located. Erik is spending the summer working for Cobalt, in Mountain View, near Palo Alto. Well, his family just so happened to move to Alameda as well, so the first week, we sometimes shared the long carpool from Alameda to the West Bay. I spent one night at his house, not wanting to wake Joyce and Harlyn, who live their vegan lifestyles on extremely early schedules which tend to clash with the extremely late schedules of Silicon Valley employees.
A Matter of Housing
That Sunday I accompanied them shopping at a food market, nice weather, nice food. I was extremely intent on finding a place, and it came down to me just about ready to move in to a small room in a nice house with three other interesting guys to the tune of $600 per month, covering utilities. At the very very last moment though, Dave found a place just down the road about a mile and a half from Tellme. Two bedrooms, two baths, pool, sauna, gym facilities. Well, for the $1650 shared between us, I jumped on it figuring this way Dave has a place too. Then it was a happy ending all around because I tipped Joe from the house with the $600 room and Erik Gilling with the shitty commute off to each other and you know, that was probably a good match as well.
Busy Days, Busy Nights
And since then, I’ve been working hard and getting things done at work at a pace that, while slower than I’d like, seems to have earned the respect of my workmates at Tellme. For social activity, I have a large peer group of UIUC alumni. This weekend there was drinking and dancing in celebration of Luther’s birthday. Before that, I recall helping to move Joe in to his San Francisco Apartment. Before that, a party at Brandon Long‘s, where we saw the most excellent movie, Dark City.
Now, by most measures this is a good peer group, a large number of very intelligent guys who have access to a shared body of history to retell and all working in similar professions – there is always something to talk about. Unfortunately, they are, almost to a man, all guys. As much as I enjoy them, the sausage parties have to be complemented by some more balanced activities.
So, always something to do during the day, or on the weekend. I eat out a lot, having made for myself and consumed maybe five breakfasts at the apartment. Due to ever-present phone delays and the busy schedule, I never get around to calling Mikey or Joyce. I need to adjust the brakes on the Volkswagen because the other day I involuntarily blew a stop light.
But, well, we have a phone at home now, DSL on order. The voice T1 at work is finally up, after repeated delays from Pacific Bell, and is not yet production thanks to another delay on the part of MCI Worldcom. Well, since the brake incident, I’ve been biking to work. The other day JG drove me over in his Land Rover and I picked up a cell, er, excuse me, PCS phone … funny little toy, but useful, and it keeps your SysAdmin on call. Since we have but one guy who is the CFO things have been rather weird around Tellme when it comes to buying things. Sounds though, as if purchasing stuff on one’s own credit card and then submitting an expense report is common practice in the Silicon Valley, at least among startups.
Back At The Ranch
So, I’m hoping to slow down a little here in my writing. Let’s talk about this weekend. On Friday Dave missed his flight to a Wedding out in Missouri, owing to bad weather delays in the Midwest. Well, he was rather bummed. I believe that evening was rather slow, because I don’t remember it. Saturday I met up again with Eric and Vernell, who are visiting from EnterAct. We rode up to San Francisco and visited Haight-Ashbury, checking out good music and drug paraphernalia. Eric and I wandered in to this park which was actually a wooded mountain within the city of San Francisco. At the summit was a wonderful view, and some person who had apparently enjoyed too much acid or something as he paced about in circles, speaking of our proximity to some galaxy and how one should either go over, around, under, or through a tree.
Ayup. Riding back to Palo Alto, we collectively checked our e-mail at Tellme. At that last moment I heard of the gathering over at Be for Luther’s birthday. We ate Pizza and walked over to the bars of downtown Palo Alto. Unfortunately, Palo Alto, being a rich college town around Stanford, is not the coolest place to party, but there was some enjoyable dancing and attractive women at a club called Q. Dave desires to go back, and I share that desire.
Sunday … slow day. Waking up around noon, we headed out and picked out a couch at Krause’s Sofa Factory. Neat place, you pick your style, you pick your fabric, you pick your options, like down cushions or a sofabed. Same comfortable sofabed as MikeyA’s place, lifetime warranty on most everything, ought to be worth the price, though we needed only pay a third down and the balance on delivery in two weeks. For some mysterious reason, perhaps our transient status, my credit report for six months same as cash didn’t quite work out. Then we headed over to Fry’s and picked up our Bose surround-sound stereo to complement our TV. Nice system, though we would have had it the week before except for credit problems. I think Discover raised the limit on my card since they received my last payment. In a few months, the considerable spending I’ve burdened it with ought to be whittled down quickly. Vernell had stopped by early with a pretty friend from Georgia. They were heading over to check out Stanford, and then, from what I gather, Berkeley. This left Eric alone at the hotel without a rental car. I borrowed Dave’s car to pick him up and off we went to eat at a Chinese place. We then spent the evening with Little Dave watching another cool movie, Zero Effect. At Luther’s party, I finally got to see The Big Lebowski, yet another great movie I’ve seen at somebody’s house since arriving in California.
You’ve seen what we are. We use your dead as vessels.
Vernell and Eric are over here watching Dark City on our DVD. Dave’s watching it too. Great movie, and the woman is beautiful. She resembles my cousin Erin too, which makes it all the neater.
This morning I slept in some. Taking off for work I headed down El Camino and got my chain lubed up on my bike. I also bought a portable tire pump, and inflated the tires. Well the lube job was no help you see, because I still skip spokes when I push too hard, so I move nice and slow.
I live right down the street from Tellme, about a mile and a half. Unfortunately, this street, San Antonio, has no bike lanes, and the crossing of Central Expressway is exceedingly nasty. What I do is ride down California about half a mile to Rengstorff and then up. Then the ride is pleasant up ’til about Charleston where I lose the bike lane and the intersections get a little contorted. A wise bike commuter would invest in a helmet, but this commuter forgot in his haste to get to work.
The day was spent working. I started cleaning up on account of some investor stopping by tomorrow. Yesterday our new office manager, Vicki, started working. Today while cleaning I found the receipt for the cell phone and gave it to Andy. At that point he and Vicki wondered if it was too late to get a refund, as Vicki has connections with another cellular provider to get us a deal on these nice Nokia phones. Ah the costs of a hasty startup. This though, is just a minor inefficiency that pales in comparison to the FUBARs I’ve come to expect from other organizations I’ve dealt with. If this is the worst that Tellme can do, they are a righteous employer indeed.
Another cool story … we have some legacy ethernet cables that were made before I came to work here. They were made by Angus, who doesn’t actually know how to make ethernet cables, but is also red-green color-blind to boot. Since the process involves laying out orange, brown, green and blue wires in a specific order … well, an ethernet cable, botched, can still work. Sometimes though said cable will provide little troubles. Well … on the inevitable occasions that someone experiences network flakiness, I check the cable, and if it’s an Angus cable, I have one more variable to eliminate.
Fun, actually. I think the funness derives from the fact that Angus is pretty good-natured about his cables. He did his best under the circumstances, and now I can fix it. What is more frustrating is when you’re in a situation where your predecessor was simply incompetent, but passed themself off as an expert. Another thing that has been surprisingly pleasant about Tellme is that everyone seems to have a positive, cooperative, team attitude. This kinda stuff is found more frequently in a start up.
Well, later on I got the call from Eric. He and Vern swung by and we went out to this really good burger joint over on El Camino, and now we’re here, at the house, and Dark City is playing.
Ah, so yesterday I drove over to Wal Mart and picked up some Liquid Wrench and a kit with a 2 ton jack and jack stands. And I adjusted the brakes. They’re better now, though not as good as I’d like … some of those adjusting stars are damned stuck. I’ll take it some place professional and hard-core perhaps.
Got to work around 3:30. Then I figured to punch down the Ethernet cables I could to the patch panel once and for all, while I installed FreeBSD on a machine to determine if Apsfilter and Samba could do a better job of sharing a printer than NT Workstation. Been bleeding my forehead trying to figure out how the freak Windows 95 clients were supposed to print to the NT Workstation that had adopted the printer before my arrival. FreeBSD and Samba proves to have better interoperability with Windows than NT Workstation does. The irony is not lost on me.
Since the machine I found happens to be a PentiumIII at 450 Mhz, and I was installing FreeBSD, and the graphics card looks pretty bad-ass too, I’m using the print server for my new desktop machine. It is too hard-core to be a humble printer server.
Left work around 3:30. My message about getting printing to work was well received, especially with the Windows 98 crowd. Slept in. Then I went to the Men’s Wearhouse and spent a lot of money. I bought a suit, shirt, two ties, socks, fancy shoes, some italian sandals, hell a belt, uhmmm. I even got a Men’s Wearhouse credit card. My first suit. Well, I bought about half a suit once for the Allen Hall formal one year, but this time I got all hard-core.
With the Men’s Wearhouse credit card, you get free pressing.
Anyway, then I did the laundry, eating at this chinese greasy spoon. Greasy food, but well, a big plate o’ stuff for $4.90, probably the best deal I’ve had yet in California.
Oh, I got the car washed yesterday too. There’s this big ol’ place on El Camino right by the house (like, a block or two away) where this army of Mexicans in blue shirts cleans your car inside and out for $13.25, I think it was. There’s a sign that says that they recycle the water, so going to the car wash uses less water than doing it yourself. And they give you lemonade and popcorn so it’s just really sweet.
I think the guy who gave the car back was hoping for a tip though. Next time. While they didn’t get all the little insect guts that had been pounded onto the hood at 75 MPH and then cooked on in the California sun over these past weeks, the car was really clean … I like it. Had that newish feeling.
Well, the plane leaves tonight at 11 PM. Mom is gonna meet me for tomorrow morning’s 4AM layover at O’Hare.
Friday morning I slept in, having stayed at work ’til 0330h the night before setting up a FreeBSD box to support Windows printing. So on Friday I bought a suit and came in to work and took it easy. Later in the evening me and Erik and Joe met up and we rode out to San Jose to catch the 11PM redeye flight to Chicago. There we met Erik’s grandparents, and I met up with mom and we ate breakfast during our layover.
As we flew in to Urbana, I started to look around the little Turboprop as it smelled like someone had cut a nasty one. Nope. Rene picked us up at the airport, and I relayed a story about how once the NetDev guys picked up some Cisco guys at Willard, and the first question one of the Cisco guys asked was “What is that smell?”
Agriculture. Shit. You no longer notice it after about five or ten minutes. But this was the first time I had flown in to town, at least during the growing season.
We went shopping. The Webber grill that we wanted to buy the Webers and the knife set were taken. Instead they got some nice pots and stuff. We wrapped these in Curious George wrapping paper and found a card with a couple with a child on the cover dressed as jesters. On the inside we got it to read “See what happens when you fool around? Congratulations … on getting married!”
There had been talk of wrapping presents in porn, but there was concern that the in-laws might not be impressed.
We dropped by h0l and got dressed. there were pictures aplenty being snapped of individuals who you would never see dressed up or in a Catholic church – and there we were, dressed up really nice in a Catholic church.
For the ceremony, the Priest talked about web development, because Rache is a web developer, and proceeded to explore the idea of marriage through the principles of good web design. He did awfully well and the sheer absurdity of it was elicited many chuckles from the computer geeks in the crowd. Normally, this sort of stuff would just seem stupid, but the wacky metaphor was in keeping with the wacky couple. Besides that the advice was sound – old common-sense wisdom repackaged in something a little more entertaining.
And I could feel the emotional climax of the ceremony. I nearly shed a tear myself as Rache shed her own kissing the parents. I’m so glad for them.
After that the reception was at Jumer’s. We waited around awhile, visiting a kitten shower thrown by the Champaign Humane Society. Cute little kittens. I donated $20 and felt like a rich, well-dressed out-of-town pimp and was told that my generous donation would fix a cat.
So on into the reception. We were all chugging White Russians. By all I mean many of the Allen Hall crowd. Well, I had plenty of White Russians because I figured as much as I spent to be there, I would certainly make the open bar worth my time. I was good and drunk when dinner rolled around, and that buffet sobered me up startlingly well. The heavy consumption of Caucasians was attributed to the Big Lebowski by many. For my part I know that movie certainly made them seem appealing. Weird.
And then did the music start. During the dollar dances DB ran out of people to dance with him. I emptied my pocket of change for the privilege. When the bouquet was tossed, Chris and another gal struggled over it for a minute or two. It was an impressive site and a tie was declared when the bouquet was ripped in half.
Ya gotta respect motivation and tenacity sometimes.
And then the garter was tossed. I ended up up front, which is kinda weird and that thing flew right for me. Well, I musta fumbled or missed it and a spun on my heels and saw that sucker on the floor with a ring of shoes around it. The guys in this crowd are are mostly as timid as I’ve ever been and after the ordeal for the bouquet I think they were a little spooked, as I managed to spin around and dive to the floor and back up the six feet entirely uncontested.
Now I have a collection – one from prom.
And as the night wore on and the dancing got down, I met up with Miss tall, blond and slender in a nice blue dress. We danced and she macked the digits outta me. Jennifer is DB’s cousin, she stands at 6’2″ and could look me in the eye. Perhaps what I really need is to go dancing where the tall women of California do? Anyway, later Moshen told me that her dad had made inquiries about me. How flattering.
Around 10PM we danced arm in arm to the strains of Miss American Pie as is a midnight tradition among the Allen crowd. I headed back to h0l and as I never did get to hear from Chad or Scott, my old roommates, I spent the night on the couch there.
The next morning we had brunch at Yen Ching’s which was not a great idea but then nobody had great forceful opinions. G0ff talked us into playing this game called Cosmic Encounter – “The Game that Breaks Its Own Rules” – and you know, it was a lot of fun. Good party game for a bunch of smart geeks. It is … something else indeed.
Beth came over but only for a short while. Lasagna was cooked and we settled in to watching “The Pirates of Silicon Valley” which showed three times on TNT. It was the early days – Steve Jobs and Woz versus Bill Gates. You could tell the god guy was acid-dropping, blue box-making, Thing-driving, long-haired Steve Jobs at Berkeley, as opposed to the high-strung, dorky, conniving, fast-car driving Harvard snot Bill Gates. It was a fun movie to watch especially in the presence of geeks. Though I missed some plot points on account of the noise.
The next morning was breakfast at Perkins. Erik then went to discuss his academic career with the CS department and I went to the Quad to hang out on a nice day and await Beth’s call for lunch.
Which never came.
To my pleasant surprise the CCSO Lab at the Union let me in, so I spent a few hours responding to old e-mails when Beth finally got through, and we got to meet for about a half hour. Better than nothing.
Back to the airport, barely catching the plane. Erik’s grandparents were at O’Hare again, and Erik’s grandma kept offering us junk food. I fit what I could, figuring somebody back out here would eat it, though probably not me. And again we were in the air, on a less-crowded flight than the one we had come on.
Joe picked us up, and I spent some time trying unsuccessfully to help him get a bastardized old ‘486 box to boot … FreeBSD. It’s not going to work … but Joe … eh, I made him drive me home.
Where the news is that yesterday Dave left Taos Mountain to go and work for Confiniti. Today at Lunch I was eating with Rod, Hadi, and Scott Banister, a UI alumnus who I knew through his early early early creation of Submit-It. Anyway, it was all good because Scott knows the guy running Confiniti and had heard just yesterday that they were looking to fill that position.
Small world. He knows the UI eGroups crowd too, and told me that the repeated interconnections between everybody will get weirder and weirder the longer I’m out here.
The Bay is sucking people out here, and the computer friends you may remember from the old days may well be out here.
Anyway, It’s like 2134h and about time I rode home and played with the printer I ordered and should be here today.
So, what has happened since last here I did spake? The biggest thing is Lucy is not feeling well. I adjusted the brakes, and while they work, I’d like them better – tight adjusting stars, you know? Well, she doesn’t idle anymore …
So i figured I’d take her to this impressive sounding place – AutoWorks, for the royal treatment.
They called me back saying she had severe rust damage and couldn’t be racked, or given the things they really should do it would be just way more than the car is worth fixing.
Oh woe is Lucy. Poor girl. Too long in the Midwest.
But I need a car that’s happy enough to get around, and so, searching the Excite classifieds, I found a Volvo station wagon.
Now this is the car I need – an old car with a solid reputation, that never dies, and being a wagon it can haul shit around. I could buy lumber to build my bed and other shopping ordeals without having to drag anyone else, like Dave, along with it.
You see, shoping with Dave is not a good thing. He’s even more of a guy than me, and the conclusion tends to be the first, nice, expensive sonsumer item. Well, by bedroom needs much more personality than that.
So, once I score a ride, I’m going to check this puppy out. It’s stick shift even, and the $1,000 is right in my price range.
And so, Rene and Heather are visiting, breaking in the new sofabed, making some use of the new DSL connection, putting some mileage on my shower, and leaving a nice female influence on the apartment. Not that these ladies are poster children for any female stereotype, running around crusading against the messiness that has encroached on the apartment, but things just seem cheerier with them around, for whatever reason.
This Sunday we had a party – a good handful of folks came to eat dead cow, and we made nice with neighbor Bruce, who has a grill that we used. It was a good party. Max was there, as well as Joe and Jason. Jason I’d never met before, though we’ve both given each other considerable shit online in the past. He was not at all unlike I might have pictured him, had I ever bothered to picture him. So that was kind of neat. Pat and Jay appeared from Tellme, others from Confinity, and Joe and Brandon Long from EGroups. Little Dave, who is also a neighbor, works for Hotmail, making him a FreeBSD administrator in Microsoft‘s employ. He mentioned that Microsoft was hiring. Somewhat tempting, and if I didn’t already have this Tellme gig, I just might be hip to it. You see, it would be working for the Devil, but from the way Dave tells it, their FreeBSD operations are exceedingly hard-core.
As an illustration of how close the connections run between professionals out here, I met this guy, Sanford, who I think works for EGroups. At one point he was on the cell phone and mentioned that he was at a party with some Confinity people. He was talking to Rod, who works at tellme, who realized Sanford was at my party, and thus conveyed his greetings.
Uhmmm, yeah, so we hung around ’til sort of late mostly talking a lot. Joe had some cool stories about his life in his fraternity, something the rest of us had never bothered with. Then Joe and Jason told some other impressive tales of exploits from their undergraduate days.
And on Monday we rode CalTrain into the city. Joe picked us up and we bummed around Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf for a while, and visited the Ghirardeli chocolate factory for some Sundays. I got much flack for ordering a cheeseburger at a seafood place, but I stuck to my guns, as I just didn’t feel like seafood, and wasn’t hungry enough to spend more money on it. I had a cheaper dish at the sushi bar on Saturday for the same reason – sushi is fine by me, but I wasn’t hungry for it to justify the expense, though in both cases both the seafood and the sushi looked awfully good.
And yet, I hate to see food go to waste, so I was stealing leftover fries from Erik and leftover potatoes from Joe, even though I was as full as they were. I guess I’m funny about food. I remember when I interviewed MikeyA took me out to the same area, and while I had already had a “meal” at McDonalds, I ordered a steak, to be a good guest, you know? Well, as we started eating, I paced myself nice and slow. Mikey thought I was not going to finish. Well, I just kept eating a way, getting it down. Yum yum, eat ‘m up. I finished before him, and he was startled.
Vern has observed to Sharon that I’m funny about food. I’ll have to get introspective about that and write up some bullshit about it here some time.
Twice to Berkeley in as many days past. Yesterday Joe Doyle and I drove out to Berkeley to check out this 1983 Volvo Station Wagon. It’s maroon with a few rust spots, good engine, as far as we can tell, good brakes, new muffler, odometer broken at 135,000 miles, a good interior, missing front grill. Oh and its stick, the overdrive connector relays are broke, the fan doesn’t seem to work, and there’s some problem with battery drain. There’s a loose bit of trim over the windshield and sufficient evidence of duct tape having been employed to compensate for it. The clutch is very easy and the transmission sticks after some good driving.
I paid $800.
Then we drove to Zach’s Chicago Style Pizza in Berkeley – the only good pizza in California. And we headed home.
Today, Rene and Erik were keen on visiting Berkeley, but we don’t have BART, and CalTrain is not that cool. Well, what the heck, I drove them.
I was inclined to lend the car out, but not having it insured yet, I thought it better if I drive, because if anything did happen, I’d rather curse myself than my friends. Berkeley is nice. The campus is hilly and wooded, like I remember Indiana at Bloomington when I used to visit Jeong out there, only with more architectural variety. We walked up and down transit street. For lunch, in the Berkeley spirit, I had the healthiest meal I’ve had in a while – half a roast beef sandwich and a cup of split pea soup, and lemonade.
And we drove home. Three one-ways between Berkeley and Mountain View and there’s still plenty of gas left, so I know she’s not a guzzler.
And what to do with poor Lucy? Dunno, hang on to her for awhile. She’s still insured for Urbana, so I guess I’ll hold on to her until I know better. I feel bad at the possibility of neglecting her entirely, she got me out here well enough, and boy was that a trip! I felt guilty just removing my tassel from her rear-view mirror and moving it to the Volvo.
For Sale, to A Good Home … when I have cash to toss around, I could buy a Thing, a convertible, or just another really nice bug. I hate to love her and to leave her. Analyzing this philosophy, perhaps what I really need is a woman or a girlfriend, so I can handle the cars in a less anthropomorphic fashion.
Lotsa nice vehicles around Berkeley. Lotsa fine women too. I really like getting out of the Silicon Valley. Too many geeks around here, making San Francisco or anyplace else in California seem all the more wonderful in contrast. The Stanford Campus, about a mile away, is also nice, but it’s Stanford – expensive private school. I come from large state University folk.
On the way home we dropped by Alameda. I found Aunt Joyce’s place on Wood Street successfully, but they weren’t home. We returned the map we’d borrowed from Erik’s mom. The Gillings recently bought a new house in Alameda and will be moving from their rental some coming weekend. There will be college students on hand to pitch in for pizza and beer.
Mmmm, Chicago Style Pizza and Beer.
So this morning I slept in good and hard. I like sleeping in and while I still plan on building a real bed, money allowing, the sleeping bag on the floor … so firm, really really comfortable, if a bit chilly at night.
Today I jumped in the car and hit San Francisco all by my lonesome. I got off the highway as soon as I hit a traffic jam. I headed through some streets, over some hills, though a few neighborhoods. By sheer chance I passed right by Brandon Long’s apartment, and later I’m pretty sure I was really close to Joe and Lorah’s.
When I hit Market Street I found some parking on Larkin between Golden Gate and McAllister. I’ll tell you this, as a young driver parallel parking isn’t the easiest thing in the world. As a young driver from Illinois, parallel parking on a hill is a real pain in the ass.
Fortunately, it was an SUV downhill from me with this big pedestrian grater on the front, so my bumping against it left no visible damage. It’s good to know those things are good for something – parking practice.
I walked down the Street, and saw the gold-gilded City Hall … a very nice building with a rotunda that looks more like a state capital than anything else. Chicago’s City Hall is this large, square, concrete building that takes up a city block and extends right to the sidewalk. This contraption has state flags and well-kept palm trees all in a row up front of it.
I had to pee and so stepping in to the nearest municipal building realized I was entering the library. Well, after finding the bathroom, which reminded me of this bathroom I think it was in a Terminator movie, where there was a center kiosk with sinks and mirrors, then some urinals, and toilets. Well, I recall this movie where Arnold, I think it was, was hiding in the bathroom, and he and the bad guy shot it to shreds and scared this poor dude on the toilet who was reading as he went about his business.
I also registered for my Library Card. I figure it’d make mom proud.
I spent some time checking out the library. The architecture is very modern, lots of metal and glass. Nowhere near as big as the University Library (I think Illinois has the largest Library in the country.) or the Harold Washington Library, but a nice place all the same.
Leaving the Library, I found myself in a BART station, marveling at the eight or so transit systems in the area and thinking to myself what a nice thing it is that they saw fit to unify the transit system in Chicago back in 1945. BART isn’t a normal subway – it doesn’t go around the city, it goes through it. It’s a regional system. But then to call San Francisco a city would be to consider Chicago to stop at Fullerton. Errr, well, I really can’t compare. If you think of the Bay Area as a whole as a city, it starts to make sense, only you have to see the business district – the downtown areas, spread out among a few urban centers instead of one single one.
And interesting place.
Walking back toward the car, (I’d left late and downtown San Francisco was a bit dead.) I came back by City Hall and its surrounding government building comrades. There were these fat pigeons sitting casually on the sidewalk. Well, I had to stoop and study them. Haven’t seen pigeons for a while. I walked closer, and closer, in a non-threatening way, interested what sort of personal space they wanted. Hard-core street pigeons aren’t afraid of people, they just like to have enough distance to get out of the way and not get squished. Well, turning away from the pigeons I found myself talking to this writer / sometimes homeless guy named David.
We talked about pigeons, about how they feed cooperatively, without fighting. He said he’d seen a lady feeding a blind pigeon earlier on. A blind pigeon is a severely fucked animal. Since they bob their heads for balance, I guess using their eyes … well this guy kept falling over as he walked. She kept throwing the food close to him, so maybe he could smell it and get at it. Was that a cruel thing to do, David mused?
Looking at that question now, I suppose if you can’t put the thing out of its misery, there there’s nothing cruel in trying to help it find life comfortable.
Anyway, I headed back, through the streets, finding myself on the highway, and back. I’m at work now, trying to help clean a few ends here at Tellme. Joe’s having a pizza party at his house at seven. It’s 1808h here. This is no ordinary pizza party though, he says they’re FedExing pizza from several pizzerias in Chicago and they’re going to compare to some pizza home made on the part of his roommate.
All I’ve eaten today is a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, so I’m certainly in the mood for pizza!
So, I checked out Tellme’s web site yesterday in the morning and what did I
see when I clicked on
Well, it made my ego swell ’til I realized that my picture was selected at random from a bunch of pictures.
Cool, said I.
And well, we take some stuff from Tellme, we take some stuff from Beth:
And now we quiet down those of you who complain that I aint got enough
pictures around the place.
So uhmmm …
The Adam Sandler movie where he adopts a kid is really funny. Wild Wild West I enjoyed because I knew darn well to ignore the plot, and there were scantily-clad ladies, though not too much of it. The acting was great, but the movie was dumb. Uhmmm, oh South Park is a total blast – go see it! And I saw Eyes Wide Shut.
Well, it’s Stanley Kubrick’s last film, and I’m not sure he finished it before he left us. I found it interesting, but rather long and seeming to lack a point. Maybe its the sort of thing like 2001 where it’ll be more appreciable down the road after I’ve had a long time to digest it and have read the book. There’s some interesting stuff in there about eroticism and sex and relationships between men and women and sex and sex and so forth. Probably a good late-night getting-to-sleep-dozing-off-on-the-couch sort of affair.
What other movies have I seen lately?
Run Lola Run kicks complete butt. It’s this German film where the red-haired protagonist spends most of the plot running desperately to get 100,000 marks to save her boyfriend from buying the big one inside of twenty minutes. It’s very fun and the techno/industrial soundtrack sounds really good, and I’m not even in to that sort of thing.
It’s the kind of movie Goth Dan and Brijeet would really enjoy together.
The other day it was the weekend and so I rode CalTrain in to San Francisco. On the way back I sat closer to this group of Japanese Stanford students who sounded like they were forcing themselves to speak in English. The effect was slow speech with very distinct words and a different tone pattern. It sounded like a sing-song text to speech engine.
That I should think a group of girls sounded like TTS sounded like I spend a lot of time at Tellme.
Apparently, Silicon Valley startups, or at least Tellme and Dave’s employer, Confinity, provide food for their employees. This is something of a fringe benefit or an incentive for working long hours. The result is that neither one of us ever eats at home – it’s either company food or a restaurant. The affect of this is that someday we’ll clean our kitchen nice, but neither of us is really eager to enter it without any motive that is greater than my own fear of what I might find.
You see, I speak for me.
I should probably go home. It’s 0041h on a now Thursday morning.
Maybe I’ll bitch about something later.
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