Ah! The glory of our public libraries! I was relaxing on my Tuesday after New Year's day off, sleepin' off a cold 'til about 2PM, when Benjy moved in for the month. Well, I finally struck out to enjoy the fine day and wandered over to the Mountain View Public Library, where I finally got me a Mountain View Public Library Card. Now, if you were to go through my wallet, you'd find three public library cards in there, as opposed to two grocery "savings club" cards, and one Illinois driver's license.
Yup, I still haven't gotten licensed in California. They require you to do so after you've lived here ten days. On that note, San Mateo County claims that I owe them three hundred dollars for some unspecified reason. Fuck'em.
Yesterday I drove Joe over to Berkeley so he could check out a motorcycle. He bought me some Zach's Pizza in exchange and I got to see MikeyA again, since he lives out that way. Joe wasn't too impressed with the rusty, kinda ratty old Honda, and is looking favorably forward to the bike in Los Gatos he'll be checking out this evening. I showed Mike my car, and he was duly impressed.
So, back to the glories of the Public Library ... I was wandering around, checking out the place, and I found racks and racks of CDs. You can borrow them for a month! Woah! "Mp3s!" I thought to myself.
Well, I wandered upstairs and found a small room dedicated to the Mountain View historical society. And within that room was a very elderly lady whose parents, she claimed, had been born in Mountain View, as she had. I was curious about our office complex, which sits up along the railroad tracks, and we talked about what she knew about it, that it used to be the Pacific Press, and she had a booklet somewhere in the collection called "Streams of Light" which was a history of said press, with old photographs of the place. Well, on Wednesday I brought our office manager, Terry, some xeroxed photos from that book, of the main office as a printing press, with saw-tooth ceilings that were later converted to the big, spacious thing we have today.
Some day I can perhaps share that with y'all. She also had insurance maps from various areas, laying out Mountain View bit by bit.
I wandered about some more, found a couple Science Fiction books to check out, and managed to read about half of Kim Stanley Robinson's _The Blind Geometer_ when I couldn't get Beethoven's Ninth symphony out of my head. So, I wandered back to the CD rack, found a five-CD set containing all of his symphonies, and proceeded to check out my warez.
I'm listening to Beethoven now. Would you believe that the loan period for books and CDs is one month!? As they'd say around here, that's hella-long!
So, I flew home for Christmas. I got my plane tickets at the last minute so I ended up flying Southwest as their idea of a price gouge is to charge extra money for non-refundable tickets if you are foolish enough to purchase them less than two weeks in advance. The flights back home to Chicago were very pleasant. As we took off from Kansas City the flight crew read off the pre-flight instructions: "'twas two days before Christmas and all through the plane, the passengers were stirring ..." and the pilots fired up the engines on cue with "on Dasher, on Dancer ..." First time I've heard applause for the pre-flight instructions.
But I was pleased merely because Southwest managed to get me to Midway with a timely competence that American thoroughly lacked last year. It is unfortunate that Southwest has always been more expensive for me under "normal" conditions (round-trip flights booked in advance) but for what it is worth, any time I will need to do a connecting flight during the holidays, I'm going to pay a few dollars extra for Southwest, because even in blizzard conditions, they make the planes go! And their staff have some personality.
Oh, and in last year's journal entry, I made fun of American as being "almost as friendly and reliable as Greyhound." Well, I've always thought of Southwest as the Greyhound of airlines, because they mainly focus on making things go, and not on unimportant stuff like assigned seats, food, and extorting the very best ticket price from their passengers. But now that I think of it, Southwest are more reliable than Greyhound. And their staff come off the same way, a sort of forced nonchalance conveying that they don't care so much about your comfort, just that the vehicle will move when they need it to. Well, except that on Greyhound it is easier to believe that they don't care. It's a bus for crying out loud!
Ahhh, I babble.
So, Midway Airport was extremely packed, and the pick-up area was choked solid. Uncle parked a few blocks away in a construction area and rode his bike in to find me. I then walked to the van, glad that I travel light, and we headed for Grandma's. We stopped at Wendy's along the way, and I gulped down the 3/4 pounds of greasy meat that is their triple cheeseburger, because hey, I'm in Chicago!
Christmas was nice. I don't remember a heck of a lot other than that I got what I wanted - the enjoyment of being there. Jessy got me a picture, nicely framed, for my desk. Mom gave me a quilt that she stitched up by hand, which I'm kind of afraid to put on the couch just because how fast will the cats destroy it? And mom had wanted a digital camera, so Grandma helped me wrap my USB CF adaptor in an interesting way for mom to open. This device hooks up to a computer and lets you download pictures from it. It is a very strange Christmas gift to receive. When she unwrapped it and looked puzzled, I handed my camera over to her, explaining what was what.
Well, my old camera should serve her well, and she is pleased to have it. I've found s'more bits and pieces to send to her (hi mom!) but, well, here's my own sneaky, underhanded reason for giving her my camera: it means I got to buy a new one!
Yessirree, the Canon Powershot S100 is what I've wanted in a digital camera all along. For $500, it comes with a rechargeable battery, and it is extremely tiny! It nestles happily in my cargo pocket, where its slightly chunkier predecessor would swing around wildly and pound on my leg. It is almost too good, as it takes pictures at 1600x1200, where the old camera did a modest 1280x960. I'm already thinking to adapt the CGIs from my porn site to my picture collection, with the added enhancement of dynamic resolution adjustment. In English, that means that you should be able to click through a slideshow of my pictures at like, 640x480, and not have to download, process, and scroll around 1600x1200 pixel monstrosities!
Well, to explain what all this means ... when you first install, say, Windows, you get a screen that's 640 pixels wide by 480 pixels tall. Most sane people bump that up to 800x600 or 1024x768. At home I have a 1024x768 display. At work I've got a huge 1600x1200 display blazing across twenty-one diagonal inches of monitor! At this insane resolution I tend to just have several windows on the screen at a time, side-by-side and overlapping. Even at work, I usually had to scroll around on pictures from my old camera, just a little. Now, even at work, scrolling ...
So any pictures you see on my web site, like mom, above, are cropped from their originals. In fact, I generally try to keep images somewhere below 640x480, as that is the "lowest common denominator" for most of the civilized world. But we've all got different displays, and my camera is giving me enough data to fill even my screen, so I want to rig it up to give you what you want!
9 November, 2000
H O M E