Overheard on a recent visit to friends, Silicon Valley geek edition

“You know, as we were driving up to your house, we almost couldn’t find your exit?”

“Really?”

“Yeah – it’s 404.”

groan.

Further photos from Maine

I’m still way behind on my homework, have a ton of miscellaneous things to deal with, John has a nasty cold, and I have class tonight, but it was brought home to me that I have not yet posted enough about Maine.  More photos and brief commentary after the cut. [Read more...]

I’m back…

I’ve spent the last week in the great State of Maine (since Milo is busily making himself at home on my lap, I first typed that as the "Great Sate of Maine," and when you consider the amount of good food that was consumed, it’s just as appropriate).

It’s awfully pretty there.

John near Bubble Rock

And we had a very good time. Brother Brian also took some great shots, which you can see here , and we also talked about restarting Literagraphica , which has been on hiatus since Bri’s spent the last year and some doing piffling things like starting new businesses and winning awards and silly things like that. He says he’s got things sorted now, and wants to restart the project, so that’s very cool.  I took a pretty nice shot of him also:

Brian at Bubble Rock

And an arty shot of my own:

Aht

That’s pretty much it. We’re trying to get back into the swing of things here – which is always easier if you take an extra day at home before jumping in to real life.  In our infinite wisdom we… didn’t do that.  I’m already really looking forward to the weekend.

Bicycle built for two

We finally rode that tandem bike . Yep, it had to be put off by yet another weekend, because John had forgotten about his out-of-townness last weekend.

How did we do?  Well, we got the thing rolling pretty well and managed to ride it with a fair degree of success around the National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, and Tidal Basin (hullooo, Mr. Jefferson).  We managed to not kill, maim or otherwise injure ourselves, the people who stared at us while walking into our path (ummm… would you walk in front of a moving bicycle with one person on it?  Okay – double the mass: NOW would you walk in front of it?  Apparently, for many tourists in the Washington DC metro area, the answer to that question is a zombielike, "Yessss…. must walk in front of long bicycle…."), and in one gobsmackingly awful moment, a boy of 12 or so on a regular bike who navigated by a cunning sort of scrying of the ground directly under his own feet and managed to jackknife his bike facing us about five feet away in a crowded scrum of other bikes and pedestrians.  (As we rode past the rest of his family, his older sister said, "I am so sorry," with a stricken look on her face that bodes well for her citizenship in the human race.)

Cap’n John had an able hand on the tiller and managed to avoid all of these perils.  I acted as "stoker," pedaling along and making "eeyikes" faces when various perils were before us.

Quieter monuments, like the George Mason, were havens for long-bicycle freaks, and represented the only point at which I even felt like taking out the camera:

John with George Mason

It was a really pretty day, though hot.

I love a pergola.

Here’s the beast:

Da Tandem

The verdict: though we rode it well, it was really uncomfortable.  The handlebars of the stoker’s seat are arranged so they are neither the full drop of a road bike, nor the "sit up and beg" of an old-fasioned bike.  The intermediate position is really hard on the arms, back, and shoulders.  The length and limited maneuverability make for less fun as well.  We decided we’d probably have a much better time just getting up early on a cool fall weekend, loading our own bikes onto Metro (which allows bikes on board on weekends) and tooling around the monuments on our nimbler two-wheelers.

But it was fun enough, and now we can say we did it without any damage to our relationship.

“Ted says hi.”

I was sitting in the departures lounge at LaGuardia earlier this week, talking to my mom on my cellphone (quietly, I need not add). Suddenly, I said, “Oh my – there’s Ted Koppel.”

“Really?” Mom asked.

“Really.”

“Well, tell him I said hello,” Mom said flippantly.

Whoever was in charge of the knobs and levers of the Universe that day was feeling a bit puckish, I guess, because I was seated across the aisle from Mr. Koppel. Handling a huge sheaf of newspapers, he dropped a section, and I picked it up and handed it to him. He thanked me with a smile and I said, “You’re welcome. By the way, my mother says hello.”

He gave me that slightly worried, “Oh dear – should I know you?” look.

“Don’t worry – you don’t know her. I was just speaking with her on the phone and mentioned that I saw you and she jokingly said to say hello.”

He smiled and said, “Oh – what’s her name?”

“Carole.”

“Well, tell Carole hello from me.”

Nice to know that The Giant Head of Ted Koppel really does have a sense of humor.

If I hear “Well, if it keeps us safe…” in a so-called security line One. More. Time.

In the end, I’m not sure which is more troubling, the inanity of the existing regulations, or the average American’s acceptance of them and willingness to be humiliated. These wasteful and tedious protocols have solidified into what appears to be indefinite policy, with little or no opposition. There ought to be a tide of protest rising up against this mania. Where is it? At its loudest, the voice of the traveling public is one of grumbled resignation.

Amen.

(Yes, I’ve been more or less off the grid. Back in a more organized way soon.)

A few short bits about travel.

This year, the grandmothers in my life are getting simple, airy scarves made from kidsilk haze.  Easy to knit, portable on airplanes, and nice warm bits of pretty fluff.  I was finishing the second (for John’s Granny – actually out of kidsilk night – a deep lavender with flecks of silver, perfect for her) sitting next to a gentleman who had informed me that he has seven children.  I admit, I boggled visibly when he told me he had seven children.  At any rate, having finished the scarf and having large leftover amounts of pale pink and lavender sparkle kidsilk, I couldn’t resist swatching them together on the big needles I was using to see what resulted.  When I saw the fluffy bit of luxury that was forming in my hands, I turned to Mr. Seven and asked if any of his daughters were into Barbie.  When I found out that yes, they were, Mr. Seven went home with a very luxe little stole for Barbie.  Perfect for those evenings at the opera, you know.

An airport-bound taxi in Manhattan took me through Columbus Circle, whereupon I saw they have a holiday market at the southwest tip of Central Park.  I wanted to stop and wander, because it looked a lot like the Weihnachtsmarkts that I fell in love with in Germany (though surely minus the street vendors selling gluhwein).  Unfortunately, there was no time.  Always onward.

The last bit is only tangentially travel-related.  Author Neil Gaiman was in the Philippines,  where he conspired with a fan to help the fan propose to his girlfriend at a book signing via Neil’s inscription in her book.  The video link is here.  It’s terribly sweet and cute, in that “major life event – what is happening in two seconds to everyone else is clearly taking half an hour in their personal timeline.”  Since the video isn’t always very clear, the description of the event by the fiance is here.  If Neil Gaiman gets any nicer, he’s single-handedly going to improve the niceness average for the human race by several points.