june 2001

6.1.01
I've noticed that when I'm writing about my friends and family, I still feel compelled to give background info almost every time I write about them, even if I write about them a couple of times a week. So I've prepared a cheat sheet for the people that I write about fairly often in this space so I won't feel obligated to give you my history with them every time. I'll keep it updated under the "people" section in the "other stuff" navigation menu, but here it is as it now stands:

Tori
This is my youngest sister (well, really my half sister—she is the product of my father's second marriage. But I never thought of her or Dodd, her older brother, as half-siblings. They are my brother and my sister. Period.). She went to the North Carolina School of Science and Math, a two-year public high school with an emphasis on science and math (although the humanities departments are excellent also; a lot of the people I know who went there end up in humanities focused fields. Really, it's just a very creative place.) This is also where my wife and I went to high school (and where we met). She is going to attend the University of Chicago next year.

I just love Tori to death. Although there is a significant age difference—11 years—she is just like any of my other friends. I really enjoy hanging out with her and talking to her. Although I'll probably see her just as often after she goes to Chicago as I have when she's been in North Carolina, something about her going there makes her feel more far away. But I'm sure that's just me translating my natural anxiety about big cities into a fear of her going to one of those big cities. I know she'll be fine, and I'll hopefully even be able to visit her there a couple of times a year.

Carrie
My younger sister, the second child of my father and mother's marriage. I guess she was about two and I was about four when they got divorced. She hasn't finished colleged yet, despite 10 years of off and on attendance at various schools, and she still lives with my mother in Ft. Lauderdale. Carrie got stuck in that rut that a lot of people get into for a few months when they don't know exactly what to do with their lives, but I'm starting to worry that she'll never get out of it after all these year. She's smart, and she could be good at something if she cared enough about it to really work at it, but increasingly concerned that she's just going to waste all of her potential and kind of float through life without ever establishing any kind of direction for herself.

Judy/mom
My mother, of course. She lives in Ft. Lauderdale and works for a for-profit hospice organization in Miami. When she is well, she spends a lot of time in Chicago on business. In November of 2000 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a large tumor (about the size of an egg) and 19 lymph nodes removed. Four of the nodes were cancerous, but they think they got it all. It would have been better if none of the nodes had been cancerous, since that would mean there would be a much reduced chance of the cancer reoccuring. She started chemotherapy (one session every three weeks) in December of 2000 and had her last treatment in early May 2001. She then begins seven weeks of radiation (five days a week) in June. After that, it's just wait and see. Julie's mother also had breast cancer when she was in her early teens. Her mother made a complete recovery and has not had a recurrence in more than 15 years. But she caught hers earlier than my mom did.

Julie
My wife. She and I met in high school and also attended Davidson College together. Our first date in high school was on June 8. That became our anniversary, and eventually the day that we decided to get married on. Along the way, we found out that that date had special significance in my family: on a visit to see my grandmother on my father's side in Florida, my grandmother gave me a journal that my grandfather (who died when I was four or five years old) had kept during the first few months after my father was born. An entry for October 8 noted that it was their 16 month anniversary; counting backwards, I realized that they had gotten married on Julie's and my anniversary. I asked my grandmother about it, and she told me that yes, they had gotten married on June 8, but not only that, June 8 was the date that her own parents had gotten married on (it wasn't planned out by my grandmother and grandfather; they had a whirlwind romance and got married three weeks after they met). For our wedding gift, my dad gave me a crystal dish that belonged to my grandmother with the date June 8 and the names of the three couples that had gotten married on that date engraved on it.

Even though Julie and I knew that we were going to get married by the time we were seniors in college, we wanted to hold off on it until we were both a little more settled. She took a year off to work after college, while I started grad school at UVA. She joined me the next year, starting her first year in a Ph.D. psychology program while I finished my second year of my english masters program. Then while she finished her degree, I worked at Michie, a law publishing company in Charlottesville. We got married when she was a couple of years into her program. We eventually ended up in Maryland, where we live now.

Julie is the most important person in my life; every day I marvel that someone as intelligent, loving, and beautiful as she is has agreed to spend the rest of her life with me. I probably don't say that to her enough in the real world, and I know it's kind of a cop out to say it here. But there you have it.

Jane
This is my mom's best friend from nursing school and my godmother. She is married to a doctor and lives around D.C. I don't see her as much as I'd like, which is due wholly to my own problems with making the time to go see her. She's just a genuinely nice person who has always been supportive of me and my mom. The first airplane trip that I remember making by myself was to visit her in D.C. I must have been around seven or eight, and I remember flying in at night over the city and seeing all the monuments lit up, and wondering why the water was so close to the runway. I really wanted to go up in the Washington Monument, so we were going to save that for last on my trip. We spent a lot of the day at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, which is still one of my favorite places to go, and then headed over to the Washington Monument.

Unfortunately, a storm warning was issued just as we got to the entrance, and they wouldn't allow any more visitors up. I was devastated. We just went back home, me thinking (with an eight-year old's ability to see only a few hours into the future) that I would never get to see the monument. I think that I had already gone to sleep when Jane woke me up at around 10 or 11 o'clock; she had been calling every hour to see if they had reopened the monument. At the time I didn't realize what a pain in the ass it was to drive all the way back into the city at that time of night just so I could go up in the Washington Monument, but I still knew that it was a really cool thing to do that most adults wouldn't have done.

John/dad
I didn't live with my dad most of my life. My mother and sister and I lived in Fayetteville, N.C. (i.e., hell on earth—home of Ft. Bragg and way, way too many GIs) and he lived in Wilmington, a couple of hours away on the coast. He would come and pick us up once or twice a month and drive us back to Wilmington for a weekend visit. He the son of a social worker and a schoolteacher, who despite their meager incomes still managed to send my father to
Duke University, a debt which my father has repaid by sending all of his children to college. He is a good man who I have a lot of respect for. I wish I knew him better, but like a lot of dads, he is fairly silent and hard to read. But I know that he loves me, and that's good enough.

Rachel/stepmother
Rachel and I didn't get along very well during my teenage years, which was probably equal parts me being a major pain in the ass when I was a teenager and her naturally paying more attention to her own children, Dodd and Tori. My relationships with all of my parental units improved dramatically when I moved out at 16 to attend NCSSM, and my relationship with Rachel in particular has slowly grown to the point where I think of her as another parent, just as I think of Dodd and Tori as my brother and sister—there is no longer a real need for the "step" or "half" prefixes in my familial descriptions.

Dodd
Dodd is a tough one for me to figure out. He has inheirited his fair share of the male family trait of not talking, and since we don't seem to have a whole lot in common (like Tori and I—Rachel thinks that we share the same brain), we've never really bonded as adults. He is pretty smart (he will be a senior at Duke next year), but I don't think he's ever really found anything that really caught his interest in school—it's all just a means to an end to him. My deepest wish is for him to find something that he loves and can make a living at, just as I eventually did.

Regan
Regan is as close to me as a sister. In fact, she and my sister Tori remind me a lot of each other. I met her at NCSSM when I was a junior, but we didn't really become friends until we were seniors. It is hard for me to overstate how much I love her; we only see each other once or twice a year, and we don't talk on the phone that much, but I think about her every day. For a long time she was very restless, attending Dartmouth, taking a year off to be an au pair in Austria, then going back to the States, transferring to Yale, and spending several years in New Haven getting her degree (interspersed with trips of varying lenghths to places in Africa and South America). She followed her long-term boyfriend to Birmingham, Alabama, after he completed his Ph.D. in archaeology at Yale (she was offered a spot in the art history Ph.D. program at Yale, but turned it down because she didn't feel like that's really what she wanted to do long term). In Birmingham, she got a job designing exhibits for the McWane Center, a science museum type place, and was looking forward to a couple of years of quiet domesticity with Nick. But he was offered a tenure-track position at the University of Chicago about six months after they got to Birmingham (which he accepted, of course); Regan decided to stay in Birmingham for a while to finish her two-year contract with the McWane center and then join him in Chicago (which, coincidentally, is where her mother lives). But the long distance thing didn't work for some reason, and they broke up the next summer. She is still in Birmingham for the moment, but her life is a little up in the air, and she's not real sure where she's going to land.

She is one of those people who can pretty much do anything; she is exceptionally talented in science, math, physics, etc., and she is also a gifted poet and writer. As far as I can remember, she is a decent actress and can sing a little too. I don't remember if she plays an instrument, but I would bet that if she doesn't it's merely from a lack of desire. But being so blessed is almost a curse for her; if she had only been really good at one thing, it probably would have been easier for her to focus on that field. As it is, she still hasn't found anything that can hold her attention for longer than a couple of years. I tend to throw around the word genius pretty lightly, but if I had to pick one person I know who genuinely deserves that title, it would be Regan. I'm dumbfounded that she finds me so interesting, but I'm thankful every day that she is my friend.

Tom
I met Tom when I was working for the Michie Company in Charlottesville, VA (Michie was a law publishing company owned by Lexis-Nexis—I think they have since changed their name to the more corporate Lexis-Nexis Law Publishing). He transferred into the department I was temping for about a week after I started there. A few months later, I was hired on full time, and about a year after that Tom started taking classes in the art department at UVA (he had graduated as an English major from UVA a few years earlier). Eventually he was able to get a paid intership in printmaking for a year, and followed that with a two year stay at Tyler, the art school for Temple University in Philadelphia. The second year of his program he spent in Rome, which is where he still is now (he finished his coursework two semesters ago). When he came home for Christmas, he discovered that a mole on his neck had turned cancerous, which was really devastating for me since he found this out just weeks after my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. He had it removed, and thankfully it looks like it hadn't spread (this wasn't just a simple little skin cancer—his doctors were very concerned about his chances). Tom is an Artist, with a capital "A". And I don't mean that in a bad way. He's not arrogant or self-important or any of the negative stereotypes you might have of artistic types. He's just so invested in his work, it's hard for me to remember him being a wage slave for all those years.

SF Jeff
I call him SF Jeff to distinguish him from CO2 Jeff, my boss. He is SF Jeff because he is currently in San Francisco. He used to work with me at a company called Sycamore Associates, specifically for the media division called Buttonwood Media. Jeff and I were pretty good friends, playing cards with two other people in the company once a week and going out golfing once a week, in addition to all the time we spent together at work. I left Buttonwood to work for CO2 in July of 1999; the company was out of business by March of next year (I'm not trying to make a causal connection there, but my leaving was the beginning of an exodus of the talent from Buttonwood), and Jeff ended up working for an educational software company in San Francisco. In March of 2001, that company closed the office he was working for, and he has been job hunting ever since (although he's not necessarily desperate to work; he's even thinking of getting a nice outdoor part time job for the summer and then looking for a real job come Fall).

CO2 Jeff
This is one of my bosses here at CO2. We get along pretty well—we're both pretty laid back, and find the same things funny and interesting. We go golfing together every now and then, and eat lunch together every day. If I lived closer, or if he wasn't so busy with his family (he has two children under the ages of four), we would probably hang out after work more, too.

Doug
Meeting Doug is one of the few good things that happened to me during my two years of graduate school at UVA. We met in a film theory class taught by a woman who, despite her obvious brilliance, chose to use her lecture time as a way to give herself therapy about her relationship with her father. Doug and I got along from the second that we met, and even though we don't see each other very often (he moved back to Long Island after finishing up his time at UVA), I still feel like we're on the same wavelength about a lot of stuff. The one bad thing about him: he's a Mets fan.

6.4.01
Another exhausting weekend. Tori graduated from NCSSM on Saturday, so we drove down Friday night. Worst drive down ever. It normally takes us between four and a half and five hours; this time, it took close to six and a half. And that doesn't even count the half hour we lost because our stupid pharmacy gave Julie the wrong prescription and she had to go back and replace it right before we left.

We hit our first obstacle less than 20 minutes from home. There was apparently some kind of accident the road we take to get down to I-95, and we ended up sitting there for more than half an hour before turning around and looking for an alternate route. Turns out, the cops had already set up a detour a mile or so behind us, but didn't seem to want to tell any of us poor suckers that were still waiting up closer to the accident. We lost just enough time to hit the early part of rush hour in DC, which was compounded by the light rain that was beginning to fall. This in turn slowed us down enough to hit rush hour in Richmond, forcing us to divert around on I-295 and cut over to 85 near Petersburg. And right as we cleared the traffic below Richmond, it started to seriously rain. Not the annoying drizzle that had been falling on us since DC, but a relentless driving rain that made it impossible to go faster than 45 or so before visibility got so poor that I was afraid I was going to plow into another car.

We finally got to Durham around 7:30 and met everyone else at the hotel. Originally we were all (me, Julie, Dodd, dad, Rachel, and Carrie) going to take Tori out to an Ethiopian restaurant that she likes, but she decided at the last minute that she wanted to spend the evening with her hallmates. So Dodd brought a friend from high school and we all went out for barbecue at Bullock's instead. We got family style, which means they just bring you big plates of everything and keep refilling them until no one is hungry anymore. They had fried chicken, barbecued chicken, barbecue, coleslaw, fries, hush puppies, and Brunswick stew. It wasn't too bad, but it wasn't as good as the Barbecue Lodge in Raleigh, where we ate a week ago with my mom and the aunts. Everything at Bullock's just seemed greasier than the Barbecue Lodge, which serves pretty much the exact same dishes.

We had joked a couple of weeks earlier about getting air horns to set off of Tori's graduation. She had actually complained to me about it, hoping, I think, that I would find it distasteful as well and prevent it from actually happening. She was wrong, though; I thought it was a hilarious idea, and actively supported it when it came up at dinner. So we all went over to the nearest Wal-Mart and got three of the little personal size air horns (I wanted to get the big ones that they carry on tugboats, but they cost like $15 each and dad didn't want to blow $50 on a joke that we might not even have the guts to follow through with).

It was still only about 9:00, so we decided to go over to NCSSM and let Tori know that we actually had the air horns. We found her upstairs in the auditorium, watching the end of some lip syncing competition which I think happened when I graduated but I can't really remember for sure. It was hosted by Dr. Miller, an English teacher who has been at Science + Math since it opened 20 years ago (he taught be the first half of British Literature when I was senior and also wrote one of my recommendation letters to Davidson, which he also attended as an undergrad).

We were starting to get tired after that (Tori had only gotten a couple of hours sleep the night before and she was already starting to show some signs of serious fatigue), so we dropped by Tori's room to pack the last few things so that she could check out before graduation in the morning. Then it was back to the hotel, and, mercifully, sleep.

Tomorrow: Graduation day.

6.5.01
On Friday night I had decided that I wanted to get over to campus relatively early on Saturday to try to shoot some general footage that I might use in a video I was thinking about making of Tori's graduation. So Saturday we got up around 6:30, packed up, had breakfast in the lobby of the hotel, and got to NCSSM just before 8:00. We wandered around taking shots (mostly stills) of some of the more recognizable parts of campus, and ended up sitting down for the ceremony around 9:30 (it was scheduled to start at 10). My grandfather and his wife, Laryce, also showed up about then; I was very glad they came—even though he lives nearby in Raleigh, he's not related to Tori, and I thought it was really nice that she sent them an invitation.

My dad and Rachel sat up in one of the front rows that were reserved for members of the parents' council, and the rest of us (including my brother Dodd, who showed up at the last minute) sat a little farther back next to a tree (they have been holding the ceremony outdoors for about 10 years now—when Julie and I went there, it was held in the gymnasium of a local community college). Even though it had rained the night before and it was a little overcast and threatening early that morning, the weather for the ceremony itself was beautiful, with the sun drifting in and out of the clouds and filtering through the leaves of the trees in a way that made you think you were watching time-lapse video.

The speakers weren't that great. They have a student speaker (who is selected by means of an essay contest—they don't have valedictorians or salutatorians at NCSSM because almost everyone who attends would have earned one of those honors at their home high school) and a normal commencement speaker. The student speech had a few too many cliches for my taste, but she did hit upon one truth about going to NCSSM that you don't really understand fully until you've been away at college for a year or two: when you look back on what element of NCSSM stays with you the longest and has the biggest impact on you, it's not the great teachers or the excellent equipment or the unique opportunities available there (although those are definitely things that you remember), it's the people that you get to spend time with. And even that might sound a little sappy to an outsider, but there really are special bonds that are built at NCSSM that you just don't get at a normal high school. The cliques are a lot less cliquish and everyone is more open to other ways of thinking.

I got some shots of Tori and Erin (Tori's cousin, who also graduated from NCSSM on Saturday), and we did end up using the air horns when Tori walked across the stage, although she says that she was so out of it that she didn't hear them. Afterwards we did all the standard stuff, taking pictures with her friends, talking with faculty, etc. We didn't hang around too long, though—dad and Rachel had already gotten Tori packed up and checked out early that morning so that they could get on the road right after the ceremony and get back home in time for dinner.

Right before we left, Julie and I got a chance to speak with Dr. Warshaw, who is now the principal of NCSSM, but who was my advisor and Julie's professor when we attended. He asked us about what Tori was doing, and when we told him that she was going to the University of Chicago, his immediate reaction was that she could do well there if she wanted, but that the undergraduates are generally overlooked and it's hard to get the same kind of attention from teachers there that students from NCSSM are used to. That worried us a little, because that has been our big concern about Tori going to Chicago all along: that she could end up getting lost in the shuffle and kind of hung out to dry if with no friends and family around to give her support through the rough times. I mean, I think she'll do well there, and things will certainly be easier if she can make some new friends quickly, but I don't think she really realizes what she's getting herself into. That's a problem that a lot of people graduating from NCSSM face: most people select their college thinking that it is going to replicate their NCSSM experience, which it never does, even at a small, close-knit community like Davidson. And usually these differences are amplified at a big university (UNC-Chapel Hill being the exception; since around 60%-70% of each graduating class goes there for college, you already have a built-in peer base from members of your own class and from seniors who graduated the year before you). I know that eventually she will make the transition and adjust to Chicago's style, but I still think that it's going to be harder than she thinks it will be.

It was very strange seeing Tori graduate from the same school that Julie and I graduated from 12 years ago; it feels more like five years, and Tori still seems like she's about 10. Walking around campus, very little has changed. Sure, there are lots of new buildings (they have a nice auditorium, a gym, and another dorm), but the atmosphere is still the same as it was when we went there. In fact, walking around and looking at the students, they look like the same people who went to school with us, just with different clothes and different names. I don't know; I feel old all the time anyway, but this made me feel really old.

6.6.01
After Tori's graduation on Saturday, we all (me, Julie, Dodd, dad, Rachel, Carrie, and five of Tori's friends from her old school who had driven up for her graduation) went out to an Ethiopian restaurant called the Blue Nile. I had never had Ethiopian before, but man, was it good. You could see influences from Indian, Middle Eastern, and French cuisine in the spices and ingredients. Even the iced tea was amazing, flavored with cinnamon and honey for a taste that was intriguing without being overwhelming.

The way they serve the meal is they bring out a big platter with a huge piece of bread, kind of like a crepe, but softer, thicker, and spongier and served cold. They also bring out baskets of this bread to help you scoop up the dishes—you aren't supposed to use utensils. Initially there are three little salad piles for each person sharing the plate (up to four people share one plate—they are pretty big)—sweet pea flower (which our server told us was a chickpea dish), lentil salad, and potato salad. The sweet pea flower was really good, but the other two weren't bad either.

Then the server starts to bring out other dishes, spooning them into the middle of the bread-plate where they will be shared. They brought out collard greens with potatoes, curried green beans, carrots, and onions, spicy chicken and beef dishes, spicy red lentils, and curried split peas. The dishes are brought out one at a time, so by the time the next dish arrives, the previous dish has been mostly consumed and there is room in the middle of the plate for the new dish. It was all really good, especially the chicken, the beef, and the red lentils. The collards had a very nice flavor, and the split peas were also interesting. And they take whatever is leftover and wrap it up in the bread-plate like a tortilla so you can eat it as a meal later.

I was a little disappointed in Tori's friends, who hardly ate anything at all. There was even one whose father was a chef who wouldn't try anything except the chicken, and even that was done reluctantly (I don't know; I guess the same way I expect a teacher's kid to do well in school, I expect that a chef's child would be open to new culinary experiences).

Afterwards, we all sat in a little room on cushions on the floor and participated in the coffee ceremony, which was kind of like dessert. Our server joined us, lighting incense and passing the cups around one at a time until everyone had one. It was very strong and sweet, flavored with sugar, cinnamon, and cloves. Our server told us about Ethiopian customs and society, and explained about how some of the dishes were made.

It was cool. Even though I was in a minority of the people who enjoyed the restaurant, it was a very Tori kind of restaurant, and at least no one will forget where we all ate that day. There are supposed to be some Ethiopian restaurants down in DC, so maybe we'll try another one for a special occasion.

6.7.01
One sure sign that your ad campaign could have been better: they devote a whole segment on "The Daily Show" to making fun of it (Slomin's Shield, I'm looking in your direction).

6.7.01
Sometimes when I come out of a cold office building and get into my car on a hot day, I just like to sit there for a couple of minutes and soak up the overwhelming, stifling heat that's built up. It's like the time I came back from a six month visit to England, and I walked out of the terminal in Raleigh into the humid June day and felt warmer than I had in almost a year. I just wanted to absorb the heat; I could feel it slowing down time, I could feel the sweat starting to form on my bare arms, I was breathing in the near-liquid air, and it was pure zen.

6.7.01
Mom started her radiation a couple of days ago. She's pretty bummed out right now, and no one's really sure why. She's only got six more weeks of treatments (and six months of chemo behind her), and after that she can look forward to a week at the beach with one of her best friends and a resumption of her normal travels in her job. She seemed pretty good when I saw her over Memorial Day weekend—a little easier to wear out than usual, but other than that pretty normal. Her hair was just beginning to grow back, so she still didn't really have any eyebrows or eyelashes, and she looked like a big baby when she wasn't wearing her hat.

I guess her feeling down could be due to a lot of things: she's just reached the end of her rope with the whole treatment thing, even though she's relatively close to the end now; she doesn't like that she can't go anywhere for the next six weeks; or she's nervous because in six weeks the part where you're trying to kill the cancer is over and the part where you start waiting to see if it comes back begins.

Or it could be something else. My sister Carrie, who lives with her, was away for about a week to visit my dad and attend Tori's graduation, so mom simply could have been lonely without Carrie there to help her through the little day to day stuff. Carrie got back last night, though, so hopefully she'll be able to lift mom's mood a little.

6.8.01
Full of questions today...

6.8.01
Can ghosts hear music?

6.8.01
When was the last time you went to ZDNet News when you didn't see a warning about some newly discovered security flaw in a Microsoft product?

6.8.01
Does Orlando Jones know that no matter what he does in his career, no matter how many dramatic roles he may have, no matter how many awards he might win, the easiest way to identify him is always going to be as "the 7-Up guy"?

6.11.01
I think that what happened in Terre Haute this morning is appalling, but as usual, the media has managed to make the experience even more disgusting.

6.11.01
And don't get me wrong. I don't think that McVeigh was innocent or anything. He was a pathetic, cowardly, remorseless killer of innocents, waging a terrorist war on an enemy that only existed in his mind. If anyone deserved the death penalty, he did. I just don't think that anyone does.

6.12.01
Last night I could swear that I saw a commercial that claimed that the dog in the ad was sensitive about her age and her skin. But that can't be right...can it?

6.12.01
Last Friday night was our fifth wedding anniversary (and our thirteenth anniversary of being together in general), but Julie and I decided to keep it pretty simple. First we went to find a geocache that had been planted the night before relatively close to where we live (we haven't gone geocaching in a while now, but with the warm weather finally here, I think we're about ready to start doing it on a more regular basis). As we had hoped, we were the first ones to find it. We took a coin that was minted for Sears' 100th anniversary in 1986 and a Windows XP CD opener (I mean, it's for opening the plastic wrap on CDs in general, but it had a Windows XP logo on it) and left a pack of gum, a North Carolina quarter, and some glow in the dark alien things.

After that we went and got dinner at the Jamaican restaurant in Germantown that we used to eat at all the time when we lived close by. Then we went home and watched "Bug's Life" on DVD. Pretty basic, I know, but that's really what we enjoy.

6.13.01
there is something about
writing in lowercase
and
very short lines
that makes ordinary words
feel more like poetry

6.13.01
We watched "Traffic" on DVD on Monday night. I never saw it in the theaters, even though Tom and Tori both told me that they liked it a lot. It was pretty good, even though the moral heavy-handedness interfered with me being able to connect with the characters as people. The blue-for-back-east and yellow-for-out-west filters didn't bother me that much, even though there were times, especially with the desert scenes, when the images looked a little too washed out. And despite the fact that it was shot largely with handheld cameras (Steadicam operators need not apply), the actual cinematography was quite beautiful in many scenes; I particularly remember one shot where Michael Douglas' helicopter was landing in Mexico City that was pure poetry.

And speaking of Michael Douglas, he wasn't too terrible in this one, although you'd think he'd want to get away from playing the rich, WASP-y, somewhat clueless white guy at some point. I've never really liked Douglas' acting, except in Falling Down, which was probably a better movie despite the fact that it was also pretty preachy and rendered its characters with almost cartoonish exaggeration. Maybe it was Robert Duvall's detective character that really helped give that movie the credible center that Traffic seemed to lack in some way, although it tried through the twin points of view of Benicio del Toro's Mexican cop and Douglas's judge who has been newly appointed as drug Czar, each trapped, in their own way, on the front lines of an unwinnable war with no clear enemies.

Overall I liked Traffic pretty well, although I think it would have been a better movie if some of the characters had seemed more like real people and less like abstract figures that are just there so that the film can deliver its Big Message to the audience. I haven't decided if I'm actually going to buy a copy. Maybe if I find it used.

6.14.01
I have been having much fun chatting with the Googly Minotaur lately.

6.14.01
I've got this notion that Rousseau's "Confessions" was the first weblog, but I don't really have the time to develop it fully, so I'm just going to throw it out there.

6.14.01
If aliens had come down and given us cameras thousands of years ago, would human culture ever have produced any painters? Is painting and drawing an art form that evolved solely because of our need to represent things visually, and one that therefore would not have ever been developed if we already had devices capable of rendering things visually for us?

6.15.01
Some days you just don't have anything interesting to say even when a lot of interesting things are happening...

6.20.01
Lots to write about, but I probably won't do a proper post until tomorrow. Tori and Rachel came down on Thursday for the Scholastic Awards ceremony in DC (Tori won for a short story). Rachel left on Saturday afternoon to go to a conference in Chicago, but Tori just left this morning. While she was here we went geocaching, saw Tomb Raider, went to the American Visionary Art Museum, and saw an Orioles game, among many other things. More details to follow soon.

6.21.01
Astronaut Bread: It's the Bread of Astronauts

6.21.01
So on the season premiere of South Park last night, they said "shit" 162 times (I know this because they helpfully included a counter in the lower left corner of the screen. That's the same as the number of games in the current Major League Baseball regular season, but I don't think that's of any significance). And that doesn't even count the times it was written on t-shirts, hats, etc., that appeared on various characters throughout the episode. It was funny about the first ten times, but after that it just looked like they were doing it to see how big a fine they could get from the FCC for violating the seven dirty words rule an obscene number of times. Still, I guess it's about time somebody did it. Most people use that word on a daily basis, and tv pretending like only sailors and cops talk like that is a little ridiculous. I can't help but wonder if the FCC will just ignore it because they know it was purposely designed to be an outrageous publicity stunt, and the more attention they pay to it, the weaker their stance that tv shows shouldn't be allowed to use that word will look. I'm sure the South Park guys would love it if this went to court. You have to wonder, though—if they let it slide with South Park, how are they going to stop Howard Stern, etc.? It'll be interesting to see if there's any backlash from this.

After South Park, I watched the new Martin Short series Primetime Glick, in which he puts on a fat suit and pretends to be a washed up talk show host who asks questions which are wholly irrelevant and who often doesn't even know how to pronounce his guests names properly. Steve Martin (who I like a lot) and Bill Maher (who reached his pinnacle in DC Cab) were the guests for the first show, and they were pretty good. I'm not normally a big Martin Short fan, but I thought this show had some promise based on the promos that Comedy Central has been running for the past couple of weeks. And it was okay, but not as funny as the promos. I'll give it a couple more chances before I decide whether it's really worth watching regularly.

6.21.01
I was really looking forward to the Tomb Raider movie a couple of weeks ago, knowing that if they did it right it could be the first great action movie of the summer and also the start of a franchise that could produce a few more winners down the line. But the week the movie came out, it got slammed by pretty much every critic in America. Some reviews simply lamented that it wasn't as good as it should have been, but a few called out the director (Simon West of Con Air fame) as the specific the cause for the movie's numerous flaws. Rather than enduring another crappy action flick that wasn't anywhere near as good as it could have been, I decided not to see the movie at all.

But then Tori came, and we decided one night to go down to Rockville and do the dinner and a movie deal offered by California Tortilla, which is right next door to the movie theater. And it was either see Tomb Raider or see Shrek again (which I really wouldn't mind seeing again some time, but all three of us had seen it together just a couple of weeks earlier). So Tomb Raider it was.

It wasn't as bad as some of the reviewers made it sound, but it was definitely a disappointment, and I could see how someone who had been really looking forward to it could have been driven just a little crazy by how unnecessarily bad it was. Angelina Jolie was great, nailing the British accent in a way that Kevin Costner can only dream of, but she was pretty much the only bright spot in the movie. Most of the action sequences were shot terribly, especially the opening sequence where Lara is training with a robot. Even the scene where a squad of masked paramilitary troops invades her home to steal an artifact left something to be desired, even though it was far and away the best action sequence in the film. But it had the potential to be a really great scene, one of those ones that's almost like ballet. Which is what they were going for, I'm sure, but it was crippled by poor editing and/or poor camera work.

The flawed editing was just one of the film's many problems. Another big weakness was the hopelessly cliched supporting characters. Lara's butler and tech guy, who were supposed to be comic relief, came off alternately as clueless and moronic, instead of charmingly British and endearingly eccentric, which is how it felt like the screenplay wanted them to be portrayed. Her ex-lover/rival archaeologist just seemed like a greedy sleazebag, although it was clear that we were supposed to feel some sort of respect and admiration for him since Lara did. And the main villain, who was obviously meant to recall the snake-like charm and intelligence of the French archaeologist in Raiders of the Lost Ark, instead was just stupid, mean, and vulgar. Even though you knew he had to die, you didn't even really care that much; his evil was so banal that you feel like it really wouldn't have mattered that much if he hadn't gotten the comeuppance that the plot demanded.

The plot was also ridiculous, focusing on the Illuminati and an ancient artifact that lets its owner travel through time, and it was disturbingly similar to the South Park episode a couple of years back that starred Robert Smith, Sidney Poitier, and Barbra Streisand as transforming robots fighting over some magical triangle. But there have been plenty of actions movies that haven't let their nonsensical plots hinder the audience's ability to enjoy them (Terminator, Under Siege, Mission Impossible, etc.), so I can't really place any of the blame for the movie's overall terribleness on the story or the writing. I guess I really have to blame the director for this mess. This is a spectacular, Joel-Schumacher-murdering-Tim-Burton's-Batman-franchise level travesty, and if the director gets all the credit when a movie is done well, then he should also get most of the blame when it is an obvious failure that could have been done well if the people in charge had any clue about how to compose a scene and give depth to the characters.

I don't know. It's probably worth seeing on DVD, since the poor directing and editing don't know how to take advantage of the power of the big screen, but I'm not sure if I'd go out of my way to see it in the theaters. The sad thing about all this is that this movie is going to make piles of money ($70 million already in its first five days), which means that this Simon West idiot will be given another job directing a big budget movie. Let's just hope it's one that no one cares about seeing in the first place.

6.22.01
The new CO2 site is up now. Finally. The old one was only 4 1/2 years old, predating my joining the company by more than 2 years.

6.22.01
Music is never really music until somebody mentions Mexican food.

6.22.01
I was going to write all this stuff today about going to Tori's award ceremony last Saturday, taking her geocaching on Sunday, and going with her to the American Visionary Art Museum and an Orioles game on Tuesday (Monday I went to work, although we did do another geocache in the afternoon with Max's nephew Mike, who is visiting this week). But instead I stayed up late playing around with my Diablo II characters under the most recent patch, which makes drastic changes to the game in preparation for the expansion pack that will be released next week. So I'll try to write about all that stuff this weekend, although I'm sure that I'll still log several hours with Diablo II. And Sunday's pretty much a wash since we're going to Pittsburgh for the annual family day at the convent where my grandfather's sister is a nun.

6.25.01
Biology is little more than tedious memorization.

6.25.01
You know how you see those jackasses on the road that are driving so recklessly that they are obviously in need of a ticket to keep them from causing an accident? On the way home from work last Friday, I was almost blindsided by a minivan that went through a red light and made a left hand turn into traffic. This was no it's-yellow-so-I'm-going-to-gun-it-and-hope-for-the-best running a red light; this van didn't even appear until after our light had turned green and the lanes of traffic had started to move forward. Everyone around me had to slam on their brakes to keep from hitting or being hit by this vehicle, nearly causing a massive pileup in the intersection.

As it happened, I ended up about fity yards behind this bozo, and was still cursing the traffic gods for letting people like that drive around without being spotted by police when suddenly I noticed red and blue lights in my rear view mirror. I pulled over to the side and was promptly passed by the policeman, who then proceeded to pull over the jackass and write him a ticket. I guess sometimes the traffic gods do actually dole out justice; it was nice to be there to see it for once.

6.25.01
The main reason that my parents let Tori come and see me last weekend was so that she could attend the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards ceremony. I had never heard of these before, but apparently they've been around for over 70 years now, and have been won by notables such as Andy Warhol and Truman Capote. There are over 250,000 entries each year, which first compete in a regional competition. The 50,000 entries that are recognized regionally then compete in a nationally, where only 1100 receive national awards. Tori won a gold national award, of which there are only about 300 awarded, for a short story called "Pete" that she had written the year before during mini term (when I was at Science and Math, we used to call this Special Projects Week, where you take a week off from classes to focus on a single project. During my two SPWs at NCSSM, I ran DNA gels and was part of a team of about a dozen people who painted a giant mural of scenes from children's books on one of the underground corridors on campus).

Tori really didn't want to go the ceremony, but to convince her to come visit I told her that we could skip the ceremonies. I hadn't really decided whether or not I was going to keep that promise; as boring as I found things like that when I was her age, I still thought it might be cool to go with her. I never got a chance to find out what I would have done if she had come up alone, because at the last minute Rachel decided that she was going to come up, too. Of course, none of us had any idea about how big a deal this really was; Tori downplayed it, and none of us really saw the schedule of events until that weekend.

Rachel and Tori got there on Thursday night because there were some preliminary activities in DC on Friday. Julie and I went to work, planning to meet them in Bethesda for dinner with Uncle Bert and Aunt Sue at a Thai restaurant. The two activities on Friday were a reception at the Corcoran Gallery (where the artistic creations that won nationally are being displayed for the next month) where the winners were each supposed to make a square that would be put on a quilt that was to be displayed at the awards ceremony and then later at the Corcoran (the funniest of these was one that said "I [heart shape] BOOBS" and the two "O"s were drawn in pink with nipples in the middle; I think that whichever adult was supposed to be overseeing the students' creations must have been extremely overwhelmed to let that one slip by). Later that day there was another reception hosted by a writer and actor for Xena and Hercules who was to be one of the speakers at the awards ceremony.

Dinner with Uncle Bert and Aunt Sue (who I had only met once before and very briefly at an event for Rachel's family in Richmond) was interesting; Bert is a research doctor who fits the part of the absent-minded professor perfectly (he actually works in Frederick at Fort Dietrich doing research on inheirited diseases), and Sue is a very eccentric and forceful character who is deaf in one ear and who uses that disability to conveniently tune out anything that she doesn't want to hear. But it was fun, because Sue always has a lot of interesting stories.

The awards ceremony itself was held at the Kennedy Center on Saturday morning, and Aunt Sue was going to meet us there shortly before it started at 11:00. We had to get there by 9:30 because Tori had to get there for a rehearsal, so we got down to the metro about an hour or so before that. To get to the Kennedy Center from the metro stop, you had to walk past the Watergate hotel, which I had never consciously seen before. It's really not that pretty a hotel on the outside, especially considering how much it must cost to stay there, but from the street you can peer into the center courtyard, which has a couple of white fountains with unearthly blue water and a view out to forest greenery that I didn't think was possible in downtown DC.

The only other time I think I've been to the Kennedy Center was to see a musical called "My American Cousin" (which starred Donny Osmond) when I was about 7 or 8 years old—the same trip where Jane took me to the top of the Washington Monument at night. I'd forgotten how big the Kennedy Center was, which is weird because it must have seemed even bigger when I went as a child. I kind of liked it, all high ceilings and long straight corridors, even if it had the same retro 50s feel as the Watergate.

We left Tori with the rehearsal organizers (one of whom looked and talked just like South Park's Big Gay Al) and went over to a coffee shop housed in the Watergate to get some breakfast and kill some time. When we returned to meet Aunt Sue at what she called "the Kennedy bubblegum head" (a bust of JFK that was done in that kind of slapdash, unfinished-looking style that was popular in the 60s) at 10:30, she wasn't there, so Julie decided to go get programs (extremely well-produced, featuring excerpts from the winners' writing and images of the artistic creations) while Rachel went out to get a breath of fresh air (i.e., smoke). At 11:00, we decided that we would go ahead and get seats and then I would come back out to the lobby to wait for Sue, but we ran into her just as we started up the stairs to the balcony. She had been there since 10:00, and seemed to have no recollection of the fact that she had told us to meet her at the bubblegum head.

The theater was also oddly 50s-influenced—weird gold plating everywhere and a hexagonal pattern that was echoed around the room, even in the ceiling and chandeliers. I had brought a book along in case the ceremony got too boring, but it really wasn't that bad. I guess there were about 300 award winners there (the silver award winners were also invited, and I guess they made up about half of the students who attended the ceremony), and the way the program worked was that someone would speak for a few minutes while the organizers got a batch of students in place backstage, and then each of the students would come out onstage, say their name, where they were from, and what they had won an award for. The speakers consisted of a short taped message from First Lady Laura Bush, the president of Scholastic, the writer from Xena and Hercules who Tori had met the night before (he was actually pretty funny), the guy who creates art out of etch-a-sketches (who had won a Scholastic award when he was younger), an astronaut/PhD/MD/dotcom consultant, and a couple of other people that I can't remember.

I thought the part where the students came out and said their names would be really boring, but it was really pretty fascinating to try and guess what each student had won their awards for. For instance, all of the goths won for either Sci Fi/Fantasy writing or metalsmithing, and most of the ones who were overweight won for computer graphics or the aforementioned Sci Fi/Fantasy writing).

Unfortunately, the ceremony ended way late, and so we had to yank Tori out before she could exchange information with any of her fellow winners (I'm not sure if she wanted to, but she did say she'd met a few cool people that morning) because Rachel had to catch a plane for Chicago at 4:00. It was already after 1:30, our car was an hour metro ride away, and once we got to the car we still had at least an hour drive to get to the airport. Of course, traffic was crazy, and we barely got to the airport by 3:45. It turns out that the weather had delayed
Rachel's flight anyway, and she ended up sitting in Baltimore until sometime after 5:00, only to be sent to Philadelphia for a layover where she had to wait several more hours before she was able to get on a plane to Chicago.

The one thing that I didn't about the ceremony was the kind of elitist tone that most of the speakers took. Almost all of them said something like "You are the best of the best" and "This is your day of validation". I know that the whole point of a competition like this is to give a confidence boost to young artists and writers so they know the work they're doing actually is good and that they do actually have some talent, but the tone suggested more "you are better than other people" than "you are good at something and should continue to do it if it makes you happy". And almost all of the speakers said something derisive about athletes or jocks, a pretty easy target for this crowd. Like most other geeks, I had a lot of resentment towards the jocks at my school because of the undue amount of attention their achievements on the field received and the tendancy to overlook their failures in the classroom, but I just didn't think that was the kind of message that needed to be reinforced by some obviously intelligent and well-rounded adults.

Even though Tori had to play the part of the disinterested teenager, especially because her mother was there, I think she kind of enjoyed it. And it was cool that she got some recognition for a piece of her fiction. I don't know if she wants to pursue that any further, but I think it's good for people to have a creative outlet in their lives, whether it's part of what they do for a living or not, and I hope that this will encourage her to continue to develop her skills.

6.26.01
Carnies built this country. The carnival part of it, anyway.

6.26.01
On Sunday (now two Sundays ago—I'm getting a little behind on my log) we decided to take Tori geocaching. We actually did two caches; there was one in Patapsco State Park that we had looked for before, but it turned out we were on the wrong side of the river and we didn't have enough time to find a suitable crossing point, and another a few miles from that one that looked like it would be relatively easy to find.

The first one was near what the locals call a waterfall, but it's really just some rocks in the river that create a small rapids area. This is the one we had searched for before, so we knew exactly where to start our search. It turns out that there was parking lot not a tenth of a mile from the cache, so we parked there and started to zero in on the cache. The search area was around a steep embankment on the edge of the river, and we assumed from our readings that the cache was probably at the bottom of the embankment close to the water. So we spent about half an hour climbing up and down the bank, trying to get an accurate enough read to pinpoint the cache. The clue said that it was hidden in the roots of a tree, so after a while, I followed a hunch and went to the top of the ridge and started looking for any sizable tree on the edge of the embankment whose roots were partially exposed due to soil erosion. On my third try I found the cache in a large bucket that had once held magarita mix. I called Julie and Tori to the top of the bank, and we all sat in the woods for a few minutes going through the contents of the cache and leaving our log entries.

After that we went to a cache about 20 minutes away that was located in a park behind an elementary school. We parked at the wrong parking lot, but it only cost us a ten minute walk on a well-used trail, which was fine, because the whole point of this hobby is to be outside walking around. Everyone who had visited this cache before us left dire warnings about going through thickets of briars to get to the cache, and that there was a clear trail to follow that made the going much easier. So when we came to the edge of the woods and I spotted a small trail winding its way through the briars, I figured I had found the right path. In the early going it wasn't too bad—every now and then a briar would snag my sleeve, or I would have to duck under a couple of strands that had grown across the trail, but the path remained relatively clear.

Soon, however, the trail began to get so overgrown that some parts of it were impassable; after about twenty minutes of fighting through these and getting nowhere (I was also trying to use the GPS to point us in the right direction), I told Tori and Julie just to wait where they were and let me find a way out so that all three of us didn't have to wander around getting torn up by the briars. I eventually found a clearing, and then spotted a trail nearby (which was obviously the trail we should have used in the first place, but when we came to the fork where you had to choose between that trail and the one we ended up on, the GPS pointed much more strongly in the direction of the soon-to-be-briar-filled path—from the log entries on the web site, looks like most people have made that mistake). From the clearing I directed Tori and Julie on the easiest path to get to the right trail, and from there it was a very short, easy walk to the cache site. We all had scratches on our arms and hands (we learned long ago never to go geocaching in shorts, even if the terrain is rated as easy), but there was nothing serious.

The cache was hidden where trolls live, and so we sat on the edge of the small wooden bridge for a while and leisurely perused the items in the cache (one of them was an "I Love Lemurs" bumper sticker—she did her NCSSM mentorship at the Duke University Primate Center—that Tori had left in another cache we had visited on her last trip to see us). We took the easy trail on the way back and left a warning about the briars on the geocaching website for future visitors. But I'm sure they'll ignore it just as we ignored all the previous warnings left on the site by the people who had found the cache before us.

6.27.01
I wish that Tom Hanks would go back to making romantic comedies without the romantic part.

6.27.01
I went to work last Monday when Tori was here to put some finishing touches on the new CO2 web site, but I wasn't planning to stay all day. Instead, after working for three or four hours, I was going to take Tori to another geocache close to Frederick. Among the many caches we've visited in this area, I'd started to notice that one of the items consistently left in caches by a certain geocacher was something called a chainmail ball, which had been described by some of the people who had taken it as a hackey sack made out of chainmail. I'm not particularly into hackey sack or chainmail, but I started to get obsessed with getting one of these things. I had just missed finding one several times, with people taking it from caches I was visiting the day before I got there (on two occasions I had missed getting one by only hours).

Anyway, there was a cache near Frederick that had been placed by the maker of the chainmail balls, and a note on the website said he had just visited the cache to make sure it was still there and had replaced the chainmail ball which had been taken by an earlier visitor. I was determined to get there before someone else visited it and finally get my hands on one.

Max's nephew Mike, who will be a senior in high school next year, was visiting that week, so I asked him to join us. He wants to be a designer like Uncle Max, so he was just hanging out at CO2, working on little projects that Max was giving him. He was a really nice kid—smart, funny, very knowledgeable about internet issues for someone his age. He had recently been involved in a free speech dispute with his school—he and his friends had made a web site making fun of the fact that the school had taken almost all of a $95,000 grant and given it to the athletic department, with virtually none of the money going towards the art, music, or computer departments, and had been told that they had to take it down or they would be expelled.

So the three of us took off for the cache after lunch. It was a decently long walk (about a mile), but after an initial steep hill, it was fairly leisurely. It wasn't too hard to find, and the chainmail ball was still there, so I took it and left behind a Pokemon keychain bubble blower. It is actually a pretty cool little thing, but I'm just glad I got one so I can stop obsessing over it. Now I've got to find one of those chainmail pouches he also likes to leave behind...

6.28.01
I still believe in the excellent joy of the Pong.

6.28.01
The Diablo II Expansion pack came out yesterday. Just when you think you're getting over a game...

6.28.01
On Tuesday (again, a week ago Tuesday), I took the whole day off from work so that Tori and I could spend the day in Baltimore. We were meeting Julie for an Orioles game after she got off work, but Tori and I got there around lunch time so we could see a few of the other attractions in downtown Baltimore. We got there around noon, had lunch at the harbor, and walked around a little before heading over to a museum for the afternoon. I had taken Tori to the aquarium when she had come to visit a couple of years before, so I wanted to do something different this time; I decided that we should go to American Visionary Art Museum.

Wow.

A few of my friends had mentioned that I should try to go, and Max went a few months ago and had good things to say about it, but for some reason I had never gotten around to making a trip, even though it's pretty easy for us to get to downtown Baltimore. But I'm thinking about becoming a member now. It's hard to describe exactly what visionary art is (they have some pretty good explanations of what it means to them on their web site), but generally the pieces on display were made by self-taught artists who started to create their art when they were in jail, homeless, in an asylum, etc. Some of the stuff is just mind blowing: a prisoner who embroidered 2" x 4" canvases using thread from unravelled socks (the pieces have 1200 stitches per square inch and are incredibly detailed, including gradients in the sky and reflections in mirrors); a man with a hearing disability who was misdiagnosed as retarded—he couldn't paint using traditional methods and ended up cutting up postage stamps into tiny, tiny pieces and making mosaics out of them; a kleptomaniac who would take the objects she had stolen and wrap them up in cocoons of yarn to keep people from knowing what she had stolen; and a homeless man who used metal twine, found objects, and Christmas tree lights to fill a barn with what he called "healing machines".

And there were many more, from incredibly detailed abstract pen drawings to a model of the Lutsitania made out of 193,000 matchsticks and 5 gallons of glue that took five years to build (I didn't even have time to look at the third floor, which has an exhibition about encounters with aliens). Even if you don't like the art itself (which is impossible), the biographies of the artists are fascinating. It wasn't exactly folk art, although some of the pieces had that feel to them (again, the AVAM web site has a really good explanation about what distinguishes visionary art from folk art). It was really about those rare times when obsession and art collide in a person with no formal artistic training, someone who's just driven to create and is making it up as they go along. That might be why I liked it so much; I've always been fascinated by people who let their obsessions create a whole new world for them to live inside of and end up transforming the world around them in the process, like Laurence Gieringer's Roadside America, Brother Joseph Zoettl's Ave Maria Grotto, Ed Leedskalnin's Coral Castle, and Ferdinand Cheval's Palais Idéal. This was a museum dedicated to the art of people like them. I'm going to take Regan when she comes, and Julie and I are going to go sometime before the current exhibition gets taken down in September.

So I guess all I can say is that you should go to this museum. There were some pieces there that didn't do much for me, but the ones that clicked with me resonated so deeply that I'm going to be thinking about them for a very long time. The variety of pieces and the raw, unfiltered creativity shown in these works of art is just ... well, it leaves me speechless. If you are anywhere in the vicinity of Baltimore, go to this museum. I just can't say enough about it.

6.29.01
"Fools Gold" by the Stone Roses is the best nine minute and fifty-three second song ever recorded.

6.29.01
The most useful thing I learned in high school: touch typing.

6.29.01
I wonder what this log would be like if my teenage self was writing it.

6.29.01
Okay. This will be the last entry about Tori's visit. After we went to the American Visionary Art Museum, we met Julie at Camden Yards for an Orioles game. Tori's visit coincided with a Davidson alumni event there, so we got our tickets through them, thinking maybe we could get good seats cheaper than we would have otherwise (we didn't—they were in the upper deck and only a dollar less than they would have been if we had purchased them ourselves). The email that the alumni people sent out said to pick up the tickets at the main gate, NOT AT THE WILL CALL WINDOW (that's how they emphasized it in the email, and I'm further emphasizing for this story). Now, there are several gates at Camden, at least three of which could be considered main gates, but we decided that they must mean the gate that is right next to the ticket office where you can pick up will-call tickets. We all met there around 5:30 and just sat around talking and watching people for a while (the email also said that you wouldn't be able to pick up tickets until 6:30). We got to hear a fascinating discussion of the upcoming technology advancements at the Baltimore Police Department from three cops standing nearby (all reports will be entered electronically and all officers will have either an onboard laptop or a Palm in order to quickly exchange information or send reports back to headquarters) and spent a lot of time with a six year old girl whose father was selling programs outside of the stadium.

Anyway, 6:30 comes and goes, and we don't see anyone who is holding a Davidson sign or wearing a Davidson cap or anything like that outside of the gate. So Julie and I decide to split up and check the other two big gates while Tori stays behind to see if anyone shows up at the gate we were already at, but after 15 more minutes of walking around and looking for anyone with any kind of Davidson paraphanalia, I'm ready just to give up and buy our own tickets and worry about getting reimbursed later. As we're on our way to the ticket window, we literally bump into the trio of Davidson alumni with the tickets; the only indication of this was the Davidson sign that one of them is holding. At waist level.

And where had they been hiding all this time? That's right—the will-call window. Stupid me for following instructions.

The game was pretty good, though—the Orioles had a young pitcher who I'd never seen before who pitched very well, and the team hit a combined four home runs in their victory. They could be good again in two or three years, if their younger players continue to develop and they trim some of the deadwood and replace it with decent veterans.

So that was Tori's visit. This was a good length, not like the last one where it felt she was there and gone before we got a chance to do anything. She might come one more time before she goes off to Chicago, and we're also hoping that she'll be able to make a couple of days at the beach with my mom and Jane in August. Someday I want to live in the same town as her, have her over for dinner once a week, and just be able to hang out with her. That would be cool.
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