Archive for May, 2008

Highlands

27 May 2008 at 12:59 pm
by Berck

We managed to score first class seats to Atlanta. Or is it business class? I really don’t remember the difference. We got to sit in the fancy leather seats up front with free drinks. We slept most of the way, having gotten up early for the drive to Denver. There are flights from COS-ATL, but they always seem pretty full.

After futilely arguing with the guy at the Thrifty counter because I did not consider a fuel-inefficient Chrysler PT Cruiser to be an “upgrade” from whatever little bitty econo box we’d reserved. You’d think I’d remember where courtesy shuttles from ATL are, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had to worry about such things. The remodeled concourses in ATL are nice(r) looking, though.

I had Joanna try to figure out how to get to Nick’s Grecian Gyro with the GPS/Macbook, but before she got it all up and running, I was on Camp Creek Parkway, it all looked familiar, and I remembered how to get there. I ate lunch there every day while I was in flight attendant training.

Nick’s was even better than I’d remembered it. If you go, it’s all about the potatoes with “white” sauce on top. I say “white” sauce because it’s not really tzitziki; it’s so much better. I told Jonah I wanted to take GA 400 north ’till it ended, because that’s the way I like to drive out of Atlanta. Only, it seems the chunk of road I really like there (which I believe is US 19 where 400 ends) went the wrong way, so we took 53 or some such instead. Which was still better than driving the interstate, but not as exciting as I’d hoped.

We stopped in Alpharetta to get a cheap inverter to power the Macbook from the car. It bothers me to no end that one cannot get a decent DC transformer for a Macbook. I would like to smack Apple silly for their refusal to either sell one, or to license their fancy magsafe connectors for someone else to sell one. As a result, I had to buy a DC inverter. And really, the idea is absurd. A car produces AC electricity with an alternator, which is then rectified to 12V DC is now being inverted and transformed to 110V AC, then rectified and transformed again to 16.5V DC. That just bothers me.

As a side note, did you know that there’s an American Girl Place in Alpharetta? Nuts. I almost went in. That place fascinates me, but I suspect my one visit was really probably enough for a lifetime.

Anyway, as I was merging back onto GA 400, I was going about the speed of traffic in one of the middle lanes and looking around for a speed limit sign, when I noticed a cop off on the right shoulder. I managed to get a ticket for 81 in a 65. I wasn’t trying to speed; I was even making an effort not to–I just didn’t realize I’d gotten up to 81 while merging over to the center lane. I was being passed as well. I guess the bright blue PT cruiser made a nice target. I swear, I don’t know how I manage to get more tickets than the rest of the world combined.

The cop was one of those obnoxious military types. “SIR CAN I HAVE YOUR DRIVERS LICENSE AND PROOF OF INSURANCE, SIR.” “It’s a rental car.” “SIR, FINE THEN SIR, I NEED TO SEE THE RENTAL AGREEMENT, SIR.” I handed it to him. “SIR, I PULLED YOU OVER SIR BECAUSE YOU WERE TRAVELING AT 81 MPH IN A 65 MPH SPEED ZONE, SIR.” And so on, you get the idea… (..for forty-five minutes and nobody understood a single word that he said…)

I actually pulled over on the shoulder of the interstate this time, something I don’t think I’ve done before. I always travel to the next exit, and make them follow me there. This pisses them off to no end, but I don’t think it’s safe to stop on the shoulder (particularly to try to merge back in with traffic), and I’m responsible for the safety of my own vehicle. It amuses me that they sometimes yell at me for doing so, despite the fact that these are probably the same cops who talk about how dangerous it is for them to stand next to a car on the shoulder of the interstate.

After getting to Highlands, I mowed the driveway since I had trouble finding it on the way in. Jonah and I went to the store, bought beer and stopped and picked up some burritos. It was nice out, so we sat outside for dinner, and played cards for a few hours until it got dark, then went to bed.

We got breakfast at some yuppie joint that had excellent though overpriced Eggs Benedict, as well as equally excellent and equally overpriced Bloody Mary’s. After that, Jonah droves us around in circles for awhile, and said she wanted to hike a trail. I found an interesting looking one on the USGS map she’d brought with us, and after driving back and forth a few times, we eventually found it. It turned out to be only vaguely interesting, but it was about the right length.

After that, we returned to the house for beer and board games. I wasn’t very impressed with either of the board games we played. We went to dinner at another yuppie joint serving French food that night. I had some very french steak (mediocre steak drenched in a wine reduction sauce) with pommes frites. Served in a double old fashioned glass. Because if you’re paying too much for french fries, someone should bring them to you in a bar glass. Jonah had some very good and not-very-French tasting lamb shank with vegetables. The best part of the whole dinner was the very good crème brûlée. Still not as good as that restaurant in Mobile that had crème brûlée with a chocolate layer…

The drive back was uneventful, and we managed to find the Brick Store Pub without much difficulty. I haven’t been there since 2003 or so, and their beer list has simply gotten out of hand. I had 3 excellent beers, (two of them Belgian beers I’d never had before) a burger even better than I remembered it being with near-perfect pub chips. I had Jonah drive us to the airport. I had no idea where the crew line in Atlanta was, since ATL SIDA badged employees can bypass security, or at least could. I don’t have such a badge anymore, and Jonah certainly doesn’t, so I set about looking for crew lines. I tried the First Class line, but they wouldn’t let us in there. (Because I’d showed him my crew badge. If I’d shown him our first class seat request cards, that would have worked.) I eventually found the correct crew line, which was apparently manned by the slowest, loudest TSA woman ever. This being Atlanta, you’d figure she would be a fat black woman. Nope, far, far worse: an Indian. Normally, the hold-up in a TSA line is the bag x-raying. In this case, the bags got through just fine, but there was a huge hold up while the TSA woman yelled at every person going through the magnetometer individually, often sending them through multiple times, with confusing instructions of “Stop! Go! Come here! Don’t move! Come this way! STOP! WHERE’S YOUR BOARDING PASS????” And keep in mind this is the crew line. We know how to go through security, really, we do.

At the gate, I realized from studying the screens (which show the standby information for approximate 2 seconds every 3 minutes) that one of us could get first class, but not the other. When the gate agent called me up to ask, I gallantly told her to give Joanna the first class seat.

I proudly reported this to Joanna who was very disappointed. She’d wanted to sit together so we could watch a movie on the laptop. I told her she could watch a movie without me, and I’d watch it at some other time. This didn’t seem to make her happy either. She wanted to sit in coach together. Insanity! I guess she just doesn’t need room like I do. I went back and got the gate agent to change the seat assignments, which she happily did. Next time I’m taking the first class seat for myself. Sheesh.

But we got an exit row, so it wasn’t all that bad. And we got to watch Juno on the way back. After seeing the trailers for it when we watched Lars and the Real Girl, I’ve had high expectations. All the best lines were in the trailer, which always annoys me, but it was still great. Excellent, even. Watch it if you haven’t, though I suspect that I think Jonah and I are the only two people who haven’t seen it, because Netflix is slow that way, and we don’t go to the theater.

There are some pictures.

Goodreads can bite me.

26 May 2008 at 9:34 pm
by Berck

I don’t really want to be good reads friends with you. But I can’t seem to work a stupid web form, and clicked the wrong box.

So, I’m sorry to the few hundred people who needless got a goodreads invite to me, and I’ll never give an email password to a 3rd party site again.

Geohashing

24 May 2008 at 12:02 am
by Berck

Some people are taking this geohasing thing way seriously. If I weren’t going to Highlands, NC tomorrow, I think I would join these crazies. I may do it some other day. This seems as good a way to meet people I might like as anyway. Course, I’m totally no actually in the Denver graticules, but since my area is also split into 4, it’s also pretty confusing. Just going to theirs (if they pick one for any given day) seems swell. And I have a shirt to wear!

I totally think I’ll do it next weekend

That time I wore the xkcd shirt that I didn’t actually talk about.

23 May 2008 at 8:31 pm
by Berck

I really thought I had. But I can’t find it.

I was in this bar in St. Louis, a real hole in the wall late at night. This fellow with a beer gut, a beard, and a lazy eye saunters up to me and exclaims that he loves my shirt. “No one understands science anymore, no one! Just look at the world trade center…” and he launched into a diatribe about the melting point of steel and the ignition point of jet fuel. Rather than pointing out that no one ever claimed that the steel in the world trade center melted (It doesn’t have to melt in order to lose enough strength that it will collapse), I simply nodded my head. I tried to explain the cosmic background explorer data to him, and he was actually interested. Then he started talking about Douglas Hofstadter, whose books I also appreciate. Despite my best effort to keep him away from tin-foil-hattery, he kept coming back to the subject. Rob eventually bought the guy a beer, but then walked off and left me alone with him. And that was really a cruel move: fueling the guy with beer, and then leaving me to the consequences. That said, he was perfectly nice fellow, just not all there. By the time the bartender kicked us out, the three of us were his only customers. Apparently the tin-foil-hatter was a regular, since after he finished Rob’s beer, he borrowed money from the bartender for his next two beers. I’ve never seen anyone do that before, but I do lead a somewhat sheltered life.

Alas, there was no beer.

23 May 2008 at 5:21 pm
by Berck

I just talked Wifey into picking up a Louie’s pizza and beer. I used to make a pizza every Friday night. Now I have Wifey pick it up. Despite all the raves about my pizza, it tastes better when someone else makes it. Other folks don’t tend to make potato pizza though. I’ve considered resurrecting Friday pizza’s after acquiring (thanks, Mom!) the best book on pizza ever, but it hasn’t happened yet. I wonder if I’ll be happy with my pizza by the time I’m 90. Not that I’ll live that long.

So we’re headed to Highlands, NC tomorrow. I presented Jonah with a list of choices. Her first pick was Istanbul, but she wasn’t willing to take today off work, and the flights were booked Saturday. Highlands was her next pick. Strange list. I would have preferred London. There are a couple flights with over a hundred empty seats from JFK-LHR. Probably because they’re at the wrong freaking time. You don’t go leave NY for Europe in the morning so you can get there late at night, it just doesn’t work. Anyway, Jonah wanted Highlands, which I’m sure will be cheaper, even with the car rental. So, it was my idea, but she’s very excited about it. I’m sure I’ll be more excited when I actually get there. Mostly I was really excited when I had the idea that Ben and Amanda could meet us there, but since I’m incapable of planning anything in advance, and they’re somewhat more normal people, that didn’t work out.

I was going to shave this morning, since I can’t ride in the cockpit with a beard. The whole oxygen mask thing, or so they say. I think it has more to do with appearance. And I don’t get that. As my sim partner pointed out, airline pilot’s uniforms and titles and such all came from the naval industry. And a crusty old ship’s captain is *supposed* to have a beard! Anyway, I forgot, and I still haven’t. I’m not sure if I will or not. This is my last chance to have a beard for a long time, but on the off chance that there’s one seat left in a plane for Jonah and one seat in the cockpit for me, I don’t want to get left behind. This scenario, though unlikely, is possible.

I wanted to write about my xkcd shirt that says “Science it works, Bitches”. At this point in my life, I only own three T-shirts that actually have something on them. That one, my 557th Flying Training Squadron shirt, and an EFF T-shirt. I’m not sure what’s become of the rest. Like my “got root?” shirt. I really got tired of explaining that one, though the misery was worth it for the time I ran into the chick at a free concert in Atlanta with a “Chix dig Unix” shirt. Mostly now I just wear plain black shirts, since I have 10 of them, that being what I wore underneath my flight suit. (Well, before that we wore yellow shirts, so I’ve got a half-dozen of those as well, but given the choice between black and yellow, I pick black.)

I’ve already mentioned what happened one of the last times I wore the shirt. [It seems that I did not actually mention it, I just thought I did. And in retrospect, I don’t even think that was the day.] Though I wanted to, I don’t think I mentioned the reaction the shirt got at the Arby’s in St. Louis. The black guy behind the counter just loved it. “Yeah, man, Science… it works, BITCHES! That’s great!” The girl who took my order was smiling about it as well. When I relayed to Jonah that it was, unexpectedly, a hit at Arby’s, I realized how out of touch I am with the world. Jonah’s claim is that geeks like the shirt because of the unexpected juxtaposition of “Science” with lay-speak “Bitches”. I’m not sure this is the case–I like it because there seems to be some doubt among the less educated about whether or not science works, and this gives me an opportunity to proselytize for science. Anyway, Jonah thinks the folks at Arby’s liked it for the same reason: the strange juxtaposition. A dorky white guy, with a shirt that’s talking about science, but it’s got “Bitches!” on the end, which they can relate to.

But, there’s more. See, I didn’t really think much about the fact that the shirt has the word “bitches” on it, but it really bothers Joanna. I figured in today’s world, “bitches” on a shirt is hardly outlandish. I think you can even say, “Science, it works, bitches!” on TV.

(A side note. Todd has pointed out that the shirt needs another comma. I think I agree, but the the fact that SCIENCE is in big letters on its own line makes it not as noticeable. I could attack it with a white-out pen, but I worry about the result. It is, after all, my current favorite shirt.)

But Jonah thinks you have to be a little ballsy to wear the shirt in public. (Here I thought you had to be a little ballsy to wear a shirt with “Fuck This Court” written on it in the Supreme Court. (oh, wow, I love the internet. One can buy a whole assortment of Fuck This Court gear. Though they do ask that you don’t actually wear it to court, unless you’re willing to get charged with contempt. Sissies. I somehow doubt anyone’s going to be buying me one of those.) Anyway, she’s further convinced that the shirt attracts a certain sort of girl. I’m not sure quite how she put it. That it attracts the sort of girl who likes misogynists and is likely to wind up in an abusive relationship. I have a few problems with this statement: First, that there’s a type of girl who likes misogynists. I’ve had plenty of girls accuse me of misogyny, and I’m sure none of them have liked me because of it. I’m also not sure how Jonah determines that the girl who worked at the photography museum in Manhattan likes misogynists, or was attracted to me, just because my shirt said “bitches”. Or that the term “bitches” in that context is even remotely misogynistic.

Anyway, I dutifully explain the back of the shirt and the Cosmic Background Explorer data to anyone who comments on it. They don’t seem interested, even though they should be. Ahh well. I like that the shirt controversial, even though I had no idea it would be. I was also considering the “Stand back while I try science” one, which without the word “bitches” must be less controversial.

I think that in the name of social science, maybe I’ll get a shirt that simply says “bitches” on it and see what happens.