Friday, April 27, 2007

Belated Egyptian Recap

The first lucky thing that happened Friday is that it rained. Was planning to walk to the airport shuttle, but I chose to drive because of the rain. Got to the airport early, at 5:49AM. Tried to check in. Check-in machine said my flight was departing at 6:20AM. I definitely booked the 7:45. AA representative said, "Well, you're on the 6:20 now." Got moved to the front of the security line. Got another Leatherman confiscated (I have to remember to take that thing out of my backpack before traveling). Sprinted my ass off down the terminal and just made the flight.

So I wound up in Orange County with lots of layover time. Walked around looking for food. Saw a shop selling a t-shirt saying, "Not all who wander are lost." I wanted to buy it but didn't have any room in my backpack.

Hit the flight to St. Louis. After touchdown the flight attendant listed gates for connecting flights and said, "If the St. Louis area is your home, welcome home." I nearly cried right there. Got the car, drove to Marion while listening to the Cubs lose to the Cardinals. Ronny Cedeño, pinch running for someone (Mark DeRosa, maybe?), had the green light on a 3-2 pitch, the batter walked, the catcher threw to second. Ronny got second base automatically because of the walk but he slid past the bag and the shortstop tagged him out. That was the second out in the bottom of the ninth with the Cubs down a run. I may have got cheated out of snow in my visits to the midwest this year, but at least the Cubs found a way to lose for me. Met the team at Williamson County Pavilion. Wanted to buy a River to River license plate holder and some bumper stickers, but didn't have room in my backpack. Grrrr.

Ran the race. Did pretty well. Wrote about it in the runblog. Wore a jacket and pants all day in the heat to keep from getting sunburned. I got lots of comments. I didn't get sunburned. Southern Illinois is beautiful. I'm sure you all know that I want to live there someday.

After the race I didn't have any specific plans for the night and it wasn't too late so I went back to St. Louis. Formed a plan involving finding a room downtown, wandering around and maybe having a beer somewhere, waking up early, watching the sun rise over the casinos on the Illinois side of the river, dropping off the rental car, going to the airport. Plan was busted by the fact that I couldn't find a room downtown that wasn't way too expensive, didn't know my way around, didn't have a very good map. And I wandered past a bunch of bars and clubs and casinos with a bunch of cops milling around outside and all these people trying to look cool and being loud and drunk, and I was wearing my new River to River t-shirt because it was one of two clean ones I had left, looking really dorky and being quiet and sober.

So I headed out towards the airport, found a motel out there, was so tired I forgot to set my alarm before crashing. Woke up kind of late. But could make it if I hurried. Went to go return the car. I'd seen signs for the rental car checkin the night before, so I followed them. They were for different companies. Looked at the rental car map and tried to reconcile that with what I remembered from watching out the window of the shuttle bus from the airport. This part took about an hour. Fuck. I got to the airport 10 minutes after the flight left. They had me try to make standby on a flight to Dallas, and then try to make standby from Dallas to San José. Fun.

There was a sort of crappy airport bar outside my terminal. I got a banana and a muffin at the nearby Starbucks and then headed for the bar. Ordered a gin and tonic. Bartender said everyone ordered those at the casinos, but almost nobody did at the airport. Well maybe a gin and tonic is good luck. Would I like to make it a double for a few extra bucks? I've gotta make two flights on standby to get back home, so yeah, you'd better make that a double.

I think that's the most drunk I've ever been before noon. With my rather low alcohol tolerance, I don't think I was walking quite straight, or speaking very clearly. But I made the flight! Fifth out of six standby passengers to get called! Win! Sat next to the engine. Tried to read a bit. Observed myself getting soberer. Landed in Dallas.

Walked around the D terminal for a while before eating a burrito and some ice cream (the airport industry made a killing off of me on this trip, but I was stressing out... whatever). Ahead of me on the standby list were a group of three and two groups of two. Eight seats available and I'm in; seven seats I'm out; six seats I'm in; five, I'm out; four I'm in; three, out; two, out. There was one seat. I was in.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Clothing

I am really bad at buying clothes... more bad than all the other things I'm bad at buying, even. I just never feel comfortable in any of the places that I've tried to buy them. So.

It happens that I have two shirts now that are not mine: one belongs to my brother John and one to Dan Linsenmann. I have offered both of them their shirts back, but neither really wanted them. For a while both shirts sat at the bottom of my drawer, but I've started wearing them a lot lately. Even though neither one really looks good on me, I enjoy it.

AND I'M GOING TO SOUTHERN ILLINOIS! I DEPART ON FOOT FOR THE TRAIN STATION IN SANTA CLARA FROM WHICH THE BUS DEPARTS TO TAKE ME TO THE AIRPORT IN SAN JOSÉ FROM WHICH THE AIRPLANE DEPARTS THAT WILL TAKE ME TO THE AIRPORT IN SANTA ANA FROM WHICH THE AIRPLANE DEPARTS THAT WILL TAKE ME TO THE AIRPORT IN SAINT LOUIS WHERE I WILL ACQUIRE MY RENTAL CAR THAT I WILL DRIVE TO A HOTEL IN MARION WHERE I WILL STAY OVERNIGHT BEFORE DEPARTING FOR THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER VALLEY WHERE THE RIVER TO RIVER RELAY STARTS IN UNDER FOUR HOURS.

I am really ridiculously excited about this, and can't sleep. Hopefully I'll crash on the plane. Err... hm. I'll let that stand.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

From the Pages of the San José Mercury News

People astound me. I want them to go away.

I guess last Sunday there was a picture of a woman's feet on the front of the travel section of the Merc News. To be specific, the feet of a woman swimming in the Dead Sea. The picture was for an article about women vacationing alone.

I guess this woman's feet were not very attractive. To be specific, they were "gnarly" and "bony".

I guess the Merc News got a barrage of angry letters from readers, outraged that such unattractive feet had been featured on the cover of the travel section. To be specific, David Mortaz of Los Gatos wrote:

I saw the picture for Sunday's "Going solo" report on the Travel section. That lady had very good reasons to vacation solo. Those were the ugliest, crooked, meanest and nastiest toes and feet I had seen in my entire life!

Can you imagine the horror of seeing those toes for the first time while vacationing on a resort island, knowing full well that you would be sharing the same bed with those Frankensteins!?!

Other readers complained that the ugly feet distracted them from eating, and questioned whether they were representative of women's feet.

I don't want these people in my species. I know Mom told me that I have to share the species, even with people I don't like, but I don't want to let them play with my trucky.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

San Francisco

It had been a while since I was in San Francisco, and I wanted to run a race last weekend, and I found a running club there that holds weekly races for less than the cost of gas to drive to the city. I wrote about it in the runblog. It was fun.

But this blog has been yelling at me, "Hey, Al, quit doing stupid productive shit and blog about the other stuff! Quit ignoring me!" So here it is. After finishing the race I went up to the Sutro Bath House ruins. Story behind them being basically this. The Sutro Bath House stood right out on the northwest corner of the city and held seven swimming pools, the first swimming pools open to the public in San Francisco. Around the 1960s the bath house became unprofitable, and there were plans to demolish it and build... I think it was condos. But before the demolition went through the owner did the math, decided there wasn't as much money in condos as there was in insurance fraud, burned the place to the ground, collected the dough and skipped town. For some reason the ruins were not demolished and the land has yet to be developed. The ruins still stand there to be climbed on.

So I climbed around, took some OK pictures, whatever. I'd post a bunch of them, but I'm too tired to resize them and upload them. Actually, now that I actually look at 'em, most of them look really stupid because the horizon is tilted. Oops.

Then I started walking along the coast towards the Golden Gate Bridge and I saw it.



What I'm talking about, of course, is that trapezoidal prism of a bench in the middle of the path. If I ever own that much land I want to put a bench like that in it. I think it really would fit my aesthetic well. I would have had a picture without all those people in the way, but when I climbed up to get a shot from up above this girl wandered into the shot. She'd been walking along the trail for some time, so I figured she'd just pass through. But instead she made a call on her cell phone. Fortunately, some other people walked in there after a while, so I felt I could take the picture without overloading my sketch-detector. At any rate, I have several closer pictures of the bench. I liked it a lot and was really excited about it. Maybe I was just delirious from dehydration or hypoglycemia. But it really is a nice bench, no?

Another half-hour down the coast I saw the thing that surprised me most:



It's not a maze. There is only one path. It leads to the center. There is no way out. It was only too late that I realized this.



So with these strange items as my sole companions I shall live out the rest of my days in the middle of this spiral. Do think of me fondly, dear readers, as I will think of you.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

One-Way Communication

Two nights ago I was having a nice calm bike ride home from work around midnight when I heard a loud noise from my left side. A car full of what looked like bored teenagers had driven up beside me and the one in the passenger seat had shouted directly in my ear. I'd been hoping to get to sleep right after getting home, but it startled me and I knew I wouldn't be able to go right to sleep after that. I cursed silently at them from a block behind, once my mind had re-oriented itself.

Last night as I lay in bed at 2am a motorcycle started outside on the street. Probably in the parking lot of the bar. Though its rider couldn't see me through my wall or drawn curtains I raised my middle finger at his choice to install loud pipes on his bike and ride it at such hours.

We shouldn't stop bored teenagers from being assholes, and we shouldn't stop motorcyclists from holding a noise competition on public roads. In fact, quite the opposite. Ban mufflers on all vehicles. Ban insincere politeness from everyone. Even if I have no voice for my opinions, let reality show things for what they are.