June 2003


I had dinner Saturday night at McCormick & Schmick’s. Highly recommended, although it’s high teens to low twenties per entree. After that fine seafood, the dinner Sunday night at another restaurant was distinctively less tasty.

I saw The Matrix:Reloaded last night–I was prepared by my brother to pay close attention, so I got a lot out of it. It was awesome, but then I like character and metaphysics-driven movies more than anyone I know. I’d meant to see the movie Saturday night, but my brain made me finish the new Harry Potter book I’d started on the plane that morning. I’m still very much a slave to reading–877 pages in one day.

After the movie last night, I walked outside and looked up Pine Street to see police lights flashing. I walked up the street to find three police cars and a paddywagon, and three cars in a post-crash scenario. Why so many police? Apparently the woman who caused the crash was wildly driving and then got out of the car and tried to get away. When someone tried to take her keys from her, she started raving and trying to attack people. the police arrested her, “strapped her to a board” and took her away.

I love the city.

Tangent: when Brad, Mike, Joe, and I were in New York City a couple of years ago, we saw a fourth floor air conditioner fall out of its window and crash onto the sidewalk, narrowly missing hordes of passersby. We could have sworn someone was hit and seriously hurt (the crowd was that thick), but when the dust cleared, no one was lying there. The air conditioner actually bounced and tumbled into the gutter–it had that much ft/sec squared force.

Frank Miller’s Batman:The Dark Knight in the ’80s had an older Batman–Bruce Wayne had stopped for ten years, but was compelled to take up the mantle again. This Batman was different. He didn’t have the time for niceties anymore–life was too short. His methods were more direct, less subtle–some said more abrasive. He was even more controversial than before, because he couldn’t afford to take the smooth route anymore–things were too important and time was too precious. Still a hero, but reality altered his methods of operation.

I kinda think that’s a bit like Dave Winer since his heart op last year. It’s none of my business really, but he seems like he doesn’t have the time to spend being “noble” while BOGU, as he puts it. It seems like life’s just too short not to tell it like it is. That’s not a bad thing, but it does seem to make him more of a lightning rod for attacks, which is sad.

I just seem to get this impression from reading Scripting News over the last couple of years. I could certainly be wrong–my wife might tell you that being wrong is my strongest trait. 🙂

Want to stop a chunk of your telemarketer calls? Go to the donotcall.gov website to sign up. Well worth it.

This is a federal site. There’s a Pennsylvania equivalent that cut my sales calls to virtually nil, but I forget the web site at the moment.

In light of the last few years, President Bush has a very fine line to walk regarding America’s leadership in the world amid charges of empire-building. The Seattle Times had a good editorial this morning about this balancing act from a former official in the Reagan administration.

(I’m trying to keep these travelogue items light to avoid weighing down the blog to unreadability–I don’t want to “Bill-ify” it, to name the first but not only person to notice the phenomenon)

I got to Dad’s place at midnight, and got up at six for my flight. To get the best fare, my trip out to Seattle went to Las Vegas for its connection–go figure. America West was good, but not serving us a meal on either flight was a ripoff (two beverage services does not compensate). I guess fare wars have killed meals for most airlines.

Almost six hours later, we landed in the Las Vegas airport. It was strange, seeing nothing for miles, and then houses and a city in the middle of nowhere. In the airport, they really did have slot machines in the terminal, something I’d joked about the day before. I belatedly realized that my friend Fran lived right in town somewhere, but my layover was only forty minutes, so I just silently toasted him with my Diet Coke…

As we flew out of Las Vegas to Seattle, I saw brown desert and mountains as far as the horizon, broken only by small threads of long white road far apart.

After my flight to Seattle, I moved down to baggage claim. On my way down the escalator it gave a great lurch and crash, and pitched us all forward as it stopped dead. It never started up again. Bad omen? I don’t believe in them, but it was pretty weird.

On the bus into the city, we saw the cruise ship Star Princess at dock. I’ve never seen a ship that big. It looked like a twelve story high rise building turned on its side and floated in the water.

More tomorrow…

We went to the Forum in Harrisburg to see Alyssa’s dance recital tonight. She was great and she had a great time. It was her first (she’s five), and I was definitely reminded of a certain sister of mine’s recital of, um, just a few years ago. 🙂

If you’ve never been to The Forum by the way, it’s a pretty cool place. It’s a large, round Greek building next to the State Capitol building. The ceiling is painted like the Sistine Chapel with all the constellations in their Greek forms, with lit five-pointed stars all over. I got to ask Drew “Where’s the crab? Where’s the bear?” and others. He loved it.

Unfortunately, the show was so long that I had to leave at intermission. Alyssa was finished dancing, but it would’ve been nice to see the whole thing–she stayed with Mommy and Drew for the rest of the show.

But I left for Philly and a plane to Seattle in the morning.

Yesterday we reconfigured every school for new IP addresses for Internet traffic. We had to touch every router, every printer, and a few machines. The amazing thing was that we did it in a few hours, and it worked. We left yesterday breathing a sigh of relief.

Then I came in this morning. The first thing I noticed was that the map on my network mapping computer was blinking red. I’d lost two elementary schools. Great. Why did my network break?

One school relayed its signal to us through the other, so I figured that the problem might lie with the relaying school. I drove down to check, and called our secretary to let her know what’s up. “Oh,” she says, “I wonder if it’s the snake.” The snake?

Yep. Apparently a huge snake fell on the power lines outside the school and blew a few breakers inside the school. By the time I got down there, the electrician had fixed the breakers. I rebooted the router and we were in business.

I never saw the snake. I don’t know who disposed of it. Just when you thought you’d seen it all…

My time is more limited nowadays, but it was nice to change the front brakes myself on my Legacy today. 195,695 miles and still going strong. They wanted $75 to replace brakes that cost me $19 at the parts store.

Of course, one of the front wheel lug nuts partially stripped as I took it off. I’ve never seen anything like it. Nothing can ever be simple with me.

But WD40 is my friend–it helped get the nut off, and the nut managed to rechase the threads when I bolted it back on. So it’s OK for now.

My bigger concern is why the two small bolts that screw the front discs/rotors onto the wheel are missing on both sides. I’ve been driving this way for 30,000 miles, so I don’t think that my wheels will fall off tomorrow, but I do plan to ask Larry about it when I take it in to him for inspection on Friday.

Once in 1983 (if I recall correctly), Bill Brownlowe and Elaine Zaleski were driving Irene Zaleski’s Vega up to the Poconos (where we were all camping) and the wheel started acting funny. They pulled off the turnpike’s Northeast Extension into a plaza and jacked the car up. The wheel fell off.

Yep, I’ve got a tangential story for just about everything–it’s just my way. I just hope that doesn’t happen to the Legacy.

On the way back from Ohio Saturday, Joe and I decided to swing by Penn State (my alma mater), since we’d just visited Kent State (Joe’s alma mater).

After a drawn-out search for dinner (my fault–I always have to explore every option) and a side trip to Eastern Outfitters, we decided to stop by The Phyrst. The Phyrst is a local bar at Penn State with extremely good vibes (I did meet my wife there on Saint Patty’s Day in 1988, after all). It’s in a basement on Beaver Avenue near Allen Street, if you ever get up there.

The bar (the literal bar inside the Phyrst) had been torn out and replaced with one along the wall last summer, but otherwise it was the same place I remembered. We settled in and relaxed. The place gradually filled up with people and a pleasant hum of noise permeated the room. It was relaxing, calming, almost soothing.

Until the voices suddenly thundered out from one of the tables:
“WE ARE TABLE NUMBER THREE! NUMBER THREE! NUMBER THREE! WE ARE TABLE NUMBER THREE! WHERE THE H#$L IS TABLE FIVE!”

Table Five’s answer was even louder. I’d forgotten about the “interactive” aspect of the Phyrst. Perhaps relaxed and calm weren’t the words I was looking for.

But it was a lot of fun. The Phyrst Phamily took the stage at ten and the traditional singalong began. Good times…look for yourself.

I saw another story about the end of production for the original VW Beetle.

Now if only they can get the new Microbus out the door…

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