september 2004

So last week Seadragon wrote a post about getting a booth at HampdenFest in a couple of weeks and trying to sell prints and postcards of her photos. She asked for advice and/or partners in this venture, and although I've never taken photos with the aim of trying to sell them later, I'm kind of intrigued by this idea and I'm seriously considering splitting cost of a table with her and trying to sell some of my own prints. But I'm really not sure what about my photography might be of interest to people (if anything), so I would appreciate it if anyone could take a few minutes to look through my archives and let me know if there are any images that you see as particularly compelling, appealing, or saleable.

Pretty much anything from May 2002 forward is fair game, since all of those were taken at a resolution of 3.2 megapixels or higher. I have my favorites, but I'm curious to see what other people might like.

Had my first meeting with Will about the Walters internship yesterday, and I think it's going to be pretty cool. A lot of the setup work has already been done in terms of creating a database structure and developing a data entry standards document, so I'll likely be able to get started with the manuscripts pretty quickly. I'm a little rusty with my cataloging skills since I haven't written a book description in over a year, but I'm going to review my notes from Will's class, and besides, Will and a couple of other people who are already working on the project will be around to give me guidance if I forget anything crucial.

I'm going to be cataloging up to four italian illuminated manuscripts, starting with a book of hours, since that's what we focused on in Will's class and I'm the most familiar with those. Long term, the work I will do is part of an effort to get all of the Walters' manuscripts cataloged with accompanying digital images of the illuminations in each book, but more immediately, this data will part of an exhibit on italian manuscripts that is planned for next fall. It's going to be a pretty hectic semester with two classes, but I'm really looking forward to both the physics class and the internship; since the physics class doesn't have any readings, and I'll be done with the internship by mid-November (leaving me a month to focus on my final research paper for the physics class), I think I'll come through mostly unscathed.

Man. That freaking fantasy football draft lasted forever last night. We started on time, at 5:30, but thanks to a few idiots with no real draft plan and a penchant for overthinking easy picks, picking players who had already been selected by other managers, or doing intensive research on the internet during their two-minute selection window, it dragged on til almost 9:00, well past last year's 7:30-8:00 finishing time. Granted, we did add two new teams to the league this year, but we cut the number of players on each team from 16 to 14, so that should have basically been a wash in terms of total number of picks. I would tell you my lineup, but I left my draft results sheet at work, and besides, there were some strange rules for the last three rounds of the draft that should really be documented fully, and I just don't feel like doing that right now. So tomorrow, then.

Happy birthday, Tori. I miss you.

Joggers always look unhappy.

I've got so much stuff to post, from an extended rant about this year's election to finishing up the chronicles of my trip out to the midwest with Tori. But those will have to wait for another day, because I've got other stories to tell.

I have long considered attending one of the Baltimore blogger meetups, but for one reason or another—out of town, another commitment that night, things like that—I've never been able to make one, and recently they've started to grow to a size and familiarity level that I'm not sure I would be comfortable with, since I tend to clam up in large groups of strangers. I've exchanged emails with several other local bloggers—Casa del Harrison, Seadragon, wordsimageslife, Epiphany, Janlyn, I Spy, etc.—and have come close to setting up meetings with one or two of them at a time so I could get more comfortable with a few individuals before leaping headlong into a big social event, but (despite a near miss with wordsimageslife where we got mixed up on which restaurant to meet at) none of them ever got past the "we should get together sometime" phase, if they even reached that phase in the first place.

Until last week, that is, when I finally met Seadragon in person so we could discuss our plans to share a table at HampdenFest and sell prints of our photographs. We met on Friday for lunch with Julie, and although I was a little shy at first, by the end of lunch Julie and I both felt completely at ease, and Seadragon seems to have had a similar reaction. It was a very strange sensation at first, to be sitting across the table from someone I'd never met before but who I knew so much about and who knew so much about me, but that quickly passed and we fell into easy conversation. Seadragon is exactly the warm, intelligent, funny, caring person she seems to be on her blog, only moreso, and sometimes it was hard to remember that this was someone that I'd technically known for less than an hour. I think it helped that each of us had some idea of what the other person was going to be like before we met, but given how well she and Julie got on even though they had never communicated previously and Julie had never read her blog, I think there was also a natural chemistry.

We met again on Saturday in Hampden to take some pictures and scope out the table space for HampdenFest, this time joined by tuesdayscoming, who lives nearby. We spent a few hours with him as our tour guide, wandering the Avenue, taking pictures, absorbing the local color, and chatting in the park (we also stopped into Atomic Books, where I saw but didn't introduce myself to Rachel—I was feeling shy for some reason). tuesdayscoming was also ridiculously easy to get along with, and he stayed with us until late afternoon, when he headed back home and we decided to have drinks at Holy Frijoles before meeting Dodd for dinner at the aptly-named Thai Restaurant to celebrate his new job. Seadragon called J, her beau, and he was able to join us as well, and again I was amazed at how well everyone seemed to get along—even Dodd was contributing to the conversation, which is pretty rare (although not as rare as it was a year ago).

So that was really cool, and although I'm still a bit overwhelmed with the thought of meeting 15 of these people at once, I'm now a little less intimidated and ready to get to know a few more local bloggers in person.

I believe it's possible to make a very good living as an artist using the following statement as your creative credo: People like shiny things.

Terrible day at work yesterday. Sometimes I wonder if the IT department's plan is to make it so much of a hassle to report bugs in our crappy new student information web application that we eventually give up and stop opening items in the issue reporting system, so then they don't have to do any work to fix the problems. Fuckers.

Last night I did the first three hours of my thirty hour internship at the Walters. I was mostly getting familiar with the data entry guidelines, trying to remember how to write a book description, and spending some quality time with the first manuscript I'll be working on (Walters 767, a nice little italian book of hours with illuminations by Zanobi Strozzi). I think I'll be able to pick this up pretty quickly and I'll hopefully be able to get at least seven or eight books entered by November.

It's good to be working with Will again—he cares so much about these books, and he's also really intent on making it easier for ordinary people (i.e., those of us without advanced degrees and a friend at the Walters) to have a chance to experience these books for themselves. Normally I feel like I've got a pretty good handle on things, and I have a lot of confidence in who I am in my professional, personal, and creative lives, but whenever I'm working with Will, I feel like a five year old who tried to pour his own drink and ended up dumping a gallon of grape juice on the carpet. He exudes this very british air of barely controlled chaos (which probably isn't far from the truth given the multitude of complex projects he's working on), but he really knows how to pull resources together and get things done with a tight timeline and no funding, whether it's convincing a professor at Hopkins to help digitize his slides or getting a scholar in London to volunteer time on the Archimedes project.

I still stunned by the experience of getting to look at centuries-old manuscripts the rare books room, and the more I learn about Will's projects, the more I'm in awe of being in his presence as well. I'm feel so lucky and grateful that I get a chance to work with him again, especially because my efforts will contribute directly to a museum exhibit. This is going to be a tough semester, with a regular MLA class in addition to this internship and a work situation that's going to force me to take on a lot more tasks than I had anticipated (I'm losing one of my employee's for six to eight weeks for health reasons, and on a three-person team, that's huge), but I have high hopes that my thirty hours at the Walters will be a pleasant distraction from the rest of my responsibilities rather than an additional burden to bear.


Okay. Back to the travelogue of my trip with Tori, which I should really finish while it's still relatively fresh in my mind.

After arriving late in the evening at Hannibal and spending the night in a hotel outside town, Tori and I ventured back into town in the morning to take a ride on the riverboat and check out some of the other Mark Twain-themed attractions. We caught the 11 a.m. boat just before it left, but since it was a muggy Tuesday morning, we were still able to get a prime seat at the front of the boat. I don't really remember much about it except that it was pretty hot, the tour guide had about a million lame jokes (at least he seemed to be aware that they were lame, though), and Tori and I shared a lime sno-cone after not being able to come to an agreement on cherry or lemon.

After the hour-long ride, we decided that we'd had about enough of Hannibal, so we skipped Mark Twain's cave and the lighthouse and headed across the bridge to the east side of the river, which looked like it would offer a more scenic drive than the west side. It didn't really, but coincidentally that's where the overlook stations were for the next few river locks, so we stopped and had a look at those along the way. They were really cool, but you couldn't get that close to them—I really wanted to walk around on top of the ones in the middle of the river, but I guess that's forbidden for security and liability issues.

We got hungry enough to stop in at a greasy spoon (the Hat Rack) in one of the many small towns that dotted the highway next to the river, and while the food wasn't terrible, it was a thoroughly unpleasant lunch. The only other outsider there was a salesman who was making his monthly visit to take orders on straws, napkins, etc., from the owner of the restaurant, but at least he was there on business. There were probably 8-10 people in the dining area besides Tori and me, and all of them seemed to be either related to or friends with the owner, because they weren't eating anything, they were just smoking cigarettes, drinking sodas, and occasionally raising their voices at their children (who were busy raising their own voices the whole time we were in there). But we weren't looking for a fine meal, we were just looking to get something quick and get back on the road, so in a way the atmosphere helped keep us going—we wanted out as fast as possible.

We crossed back over to the west side of the river as we approached Iowa and stopped at one more overlook before finishing the drive to Iowa City, this time at a little rest stop dedicated to the Mormons. In case you didn't know, the Mormons started out in New York and set up their first temple in Ohio, but they were viewed as a cult of wackos by most civilized folk, so as civilized folk started to settle nearby, they pushed the Mormons farther westward, eventually pushing them all the way to Utah, where there were no other settlers to object to their way of life. But in between Ohio and Utah they spent several years in Illinois, in a town called Nauvoo on the eastern bank of the Mississippi. The rest stop we were at commemorated the site where they crossed from the west bank, where they had spent a year or so living amongst the established settlement in Montrose, to the east bank, where they founded the town of Nauvoo and built a large white temple, which now sits directly across the river from the overlook. Eventually Joseph Smith, the leader of the Mormon church, was arrested and killed by a mob from Carthage, IL, which prompted Brigham Young to lead the group to their present home base in Utah, but for a time it looked like Nauvoo would be their long-term headquarters instead of Salt Lake City.

It was only about another hour and a half to Iowa City from the Mormon rest stop, and we arrived around 7:00 to find Tori's new roommate chilling out and watching the Olympics. We watched and chatted with her for a while, then went out to dinner with her to a nearby sushi restaurant (Sushi Popo!). To finish off the evening, we had some beer and watched more Olympics, until around midnight when we made palettes on the floor of Tori's bedroom out of sleeping bags and blankets, and fell asleep with the windows open.

Thursday, our first full day in Iowa (in fact, our only full day in Iowa), was undoubtedly the worst of our trip. It started out okay: we slept late and took our time eating breakfast and getting showers before heading into town so we could eat at one of Tori's favorite restaurants, a wrap place called Baldy's. So we were sitting and enjoying our lunch, and I started asking what I thought were fairly innocuous questions about Tori's classes and her goals for her senior year and her plans for after she graduates, and the next thing I know, she's very upset and not eating anymore. I'm still not quite sure what the disconnect was between my curiosity and how she interpreted it, but we went to a park and talked about it for a couple of hours and got past it pretty quickly.

The afternoon was wearing away, and we still had to get Tori's stuff out of storage and get her moved in, so we drove over to the U-Haul place and got a truck; I drove with Tori riding shotgun to give directions. Now, there's a lot of farmland around Iowa City even when you're near civilization, but I started to get a little curious about where exactly we were going when I noticed that we had been driving for 20 minutes and I hadn't seen so much as a gas station. I just assumed that with such a transient population (Iowa City is very similar to Chapel Hill or Charlottesville; the university is the main thing, and most of the population only lives there while they are attending school), there would be plenty of storage places near the university campus. And there were, of course, but thrifty Tori had done her research and found a place outside the city that was $10 or $15 a month less than the ones in town, and even though she wasn't paying for the storage and the cost certainly didn't matter to my dad, she still went with that one because she can't stand to spend one cent more than she has to.

It turns out there was a good reason that it was so much cheaper than the in-town units: in addition to being half an hour away from the university, it was also located on a feed lot and the units were not the hermetically-sealed, climate-controlled units that you would find at most storage places. Instead, these were cheap corrugated metal sheds that provided easy access for the mice and spiders that were plentiful in the nearby fields, and so when we opened the unit, we found tons of mice droppings and cobwebs. Oh, and everything was covered in a thick coating of red dust from the dirt road that led to the sheds. Luckily, Tori had the foresight to put her mattress and box spring in plastic sleeves designed to protect them while in storage, but everything else in there needed a good hosing down before it could be brought upstairs to her room.

We went back to her condo and got the stuff unpacked after a little mishap with the neighbor's mailbox while I was backing into the driveway, and then decided that it was another good night for sushi, beer, and the Olympics. After returning the truck, we stopped by Target to pick up a few necessities for Tori (including some new Spongebob sheets, which I would have on my bed if they made them king size), and then made our way back to Sushi Popo before heading to the condo to finish off the six packs we had bought the night before. We sat outside on the deck for a while, watching the local kids do donuts in the high school parking lot, and just enjoyed the evening. The Olympics were calling, though, so we watched those for an hour or two before heading to bed. Tori got to sleep on her newly unpacked mattress, while I inheirited her sleeping bag to add to my floor palette. We made sure to set the alarm this time, because the next morning we needed to leave relatively early to meet our parents in Chicago for the weekend.

My new class with the physics professor is really cool. There's not really a syllabus, there's no required reading, and he just talks for two and a half hours straight on topics ranging from the reason one tribe (us) achieved dominance over all other humans on the planet to the reason that Bohr's ideas on the nature of the universe never achieved popular acceptance to an explanation of the four major strains of religious thought in the world (primitive, terah, eastern, and humanist). He read us passages from "The Rubaiyat" before explaining that in the middle east, Omar Khayyam is better known as an astronomer who in the 12th century calculated the length of the year to within 26 seconds; he went into great detail on a radical scheme to overhaul the calendar so that each month would have 30 days and the periodic adjustment would happen by adding an extra week called Newton every few years; he used is Powerbook to play us a 19th century recording of Alfred Lord Tennyson reading "The Charge of the Light Brigade". There was much more than this (that's all I can think of without my notes in front of me), and although at first blush it might have looked like he was just hopping randomly from topic to topic without any real plan or structure, by the end it was quite clear that there was a strong underlying theme, and that this was really just the opening salvo in a semester-long discourse. I'm very excited about this course; I've had very few disappointments in this program so far, but this seems to me to be exactly the kind of course that I was hoping to find when I enrolled two years ago.

Two things yesterday that made me happy: the first was in morning when I was walking from my car to the parking lot. There was a light rain falling, and as I crossed the street to campus, one of the groundskeepers rode by on his riding mower, hat off, face raised upwards, and grinning like a monkey, just enjoying the feel of the rain on his face. I made my way up the stairs that led to my building, and by the time I had reached the top, he had curved around on the road that snakes around the edge of campus and was crossing my path again, still happy as a clam. I thought he had seen me watching him as he passed in front of me before, smiling slightly as his joy infected me, and when he saw me again, he stopped his mower, and motioned for me to cross in front of him. The he grinned sheepishly, put on his baseball cap, went on his way. We shared a moment, the two of us. It was a good way to start the day.

Later, exhausted after a full day of work and 3+ hours at my internship, I stepped outside into the alley behind the Walters and was immediately struck with the quality of the light in Mt. Vernon. It was overcast and the air was humid; the clouds reflected the city's light back down from the sky, while the streetlights had a nimbus around them from the moisture in the air. The area around Peabody can feel cold and desolate at night, but last night it felt warm and full of life and light. I was eager to get home, but I stood for a moment in the midst of the the vendors getting their tents set up for the book festival this weekend and just enjoyed the glow of the electic lights reflecting off the stone facades of the buildings on the square.

I'm increasingly convinced that we're going to get rained out, but Seadragon and I are wrapping up our preparations for HampdenFest on Saturday anyway. Yesterday we each spent a few hours printing out the last of our images using the excellent photo printer in the DMC, and tonight I'm going to get my mats and spend the evening preparing my prints for sale (unless, of course, it's already raining cats and dogs, in which case I might invest in a much cheaper package of plastic sleeves as an emergency backup just in case it stops raining long enough for us to set up our table). Anyway, here are the photos I have selected (as usual, you can click on the thumbnail for a larger version):

Some of these photos are among my favorites of all the ones I've ever taken, while others were chosen more to test the printer and figure out what it was good at and what it wasn't. Still, I like them all, and I think if the right person wandered by (and as long as our prices aren't way off), I could sell prints of any of these 23 photos (I've made duplicates of the 7 that people seemed to like the most, so I have a total of 30 prints). I'm actually very pleased with how great some of these came out paper; the photo printer did an excellent job of keeping the colors saturated the way I like them. I've worked almost exclusively in the digital realm (well, I did take photography in high school where I used film, a darkroom, etc., but digital is all I've done since I started this site), never seeing the need to spend the time and money to transfer my photos to an analog piece of glossy photo paper. Even if we get rained out or if we don't sell a thing, I think this has still been a worthwhile experience for Seadragon and me, and I think we'll both be up for trying this again at a bigger festival in the future.

So if it's not raining, stop by and see us from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. We'll be at the flea market portion of the festival, which we've been given to understand is just off the main drag in the parking lot of the Bank of America of West 36th. You don't have to purchase anything; just come to give us moral support. But if you wanted to buy something...

Things are getting all out of order here—I still need to finish telling you about my weekend in Chicago with Tori and our parents, and also tell you about my mom's visit the weekend before last—but today I want to follow up on my attempt to sell photos at HampdenFest with Seadragon on Saturday.

By my use of the word "attempt", you can probably already guess how it went. We knew that there was a good chance the rain from Ivan would cause problems for us, but we got our photos prepared anyway and made plans to call each other at 6 a.m. to see if it was a good idea to set up at 8 a.m., when the flea market portion of the festival began. It was raining pretty steadily then, so we decided to check in again at 8 a.m. and see if things had gotten any better, hoping that we could get in at least three or four hours at the flea market (we considered the last two hours, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., to be the most important anyway, since that's when the flea market would have overlap with the larger festival).

At 8 a.m., Seadragon said that things were looking pretty clear in Baltimore, so Julie and I got ready, packed up all of my photos, and headed into the city. Unfortunately, it started to rain as soon as we left, and it continued all the way into Baltimore. I called Seadragon from my office and we decided to wait a little while longer, but by the time the weather started to clear around 11:15, we reluctantly agreed that it would be best to bag it and try again at another festival, since by the time we got over to Hampden and got set up, there would be at best an hour in which to sell our wares. So that really sucked. Even though neither of us were convinced that we could sell anything, we were both looking forward to getting our prints in front of the public and seeing what kind of reactions we got.

Since we were in the city anyway, we decided to go to lunch and maybe check out HampdenFest if the weather continued to improve. We picked up Seadragon and J from their place around 11:45 and headed to Pete's Grill, which has recently gained notoriety as the favorite breakfast spot for gold medalist and Baltimore native Michael Phelps. There was a long line, and although it cleared out pretty quickly after we arrived, it was clear that four seats together weren't going to open up any time soon, so Seadragon suggested that we head over to Hampden and have lunch at Golden West. After a slightly stressful time finding parking (I'm no good in the city, especially when streets are closed off and everyone is looking for parking) and a couple of delays for socializing (including a sighting of Fate's Fool, who I've corresponded with but never met, and who I've now seen but never met because she had to hurry away to feed her little sister), we finally made it to Golden West and got a table around 1:00. I had the chorizo burrito (as did Seadragon and J), which was incredibly good, while Julie opted for the french toast with bananas and walnuts, which she said was the best french toast she'd ever had (even though she didn't finish it).

After lunch, we wandered around HampdenFest for a bit, stopping to grill a photographer who was selling his wares and check out his price list and packaging. I bought a nice little 5x7 matted print from him for $15, which was a little overpriced, but it was a fair trade for the knowledge Seadragon was able to extract from him about selling prints at little festivals like this. Towards the end of the street, a wooden 10x10 roof blew off of one of the booths while we were standing nearby (although the rain had stopped and the sky was blue, the remnants of Ivan were kept the wind blowing pretty steadily). No one was hurt, but if we had taken a minute or two longer, it could have easily hit one of us.

On the way back to the car, I heard a band that I liked on the Atomic Books stage, and it turns out that I really did like them—according to the schedule, it was Double Dagger, a local group I've followed for the last year or so. If I had known for sure it was them, I would have lobbied to stay longer and watch them finish their set, but since I wasn't sure, I was content with the two songs we heard as we made our way back to the car. The afternoon was wearing on, and Julie and I needed to get home so we could take a nap before meeting Dodd for dinner that night.

The original Star Wars trilogy is finally out on DVD today, after years of pleading by geeks everywhere. I don't know exactly when I'm going to find the time to watch any of them, but you can bet I'm going to own them before the end of the day.

Okay. I know it's been a long delay, but here is the second to last day of my trip out to Iowa with Tori, which happened just about a month ago. At the end of my last entry on this trip, Tori and I had gotten her stuff out of storage and unpacked on Thursday and were preparing to drive to Chicago to meet dad and Rachel for a weekend in the city.

We left around 9 on Friday morning, hoping to meet dad and Rachel in Chicago around 1 or 2 (we were staying at the Westin near O'Hare because that's where dad's conference was, and their flight arrived around 1:30). The drive was boring and uneventful, but still, after all the driving we'd done in the past week (not to mention sleepin on the floor for two nights), I was tired and ready for a nap by the time we go to Chicago. Alas, it was not to be. We checked into our rooms and then almost immediatley headed over to the El to take a train to downtown. We weren't sure exactly what we were going to do, but we figured we'd just wander Grant Park for a while, have dinner in the city, and maybe see a show or something like that.

I wasn't too wild about the show idea, to be honest, but by the time we got off the El, dad had decided that this was definitely what we were going to do, so he found a place that sold last minute tickets at reduced rates and settled on Blue Man Group, which everyone else had seen before but I hadn't. After we got the tickets, we wandered over to the Millenium Park, a section of Grant Park that had been reworked for the year 2000. I actually enjoyed that a lot: they had a giant sculpture that looked like a jellybean made out of mercury, another little area with two glass towers that had water streaming down the sides and an area in the middle with a shallow pool of water that you could wade in, and a great outdoor concert hall designed by Frank Gehry (there was also a Gehry bridge that connected the Millenium Park to another section of Grant Park). We spent quite a while there before wandering down to the central part of Grant Park to see Buckingham Fountain, which I'd never seen in person before.

As the sun set, we wandered back into urban Chicago to find a Giordano's, my dad's favorite deep dish pizza place (which is popular enough that all the downtown locations were listed on the city map that our hotel gave us). The first location we tried was closed for renovations, but we only had to walk another few blocks to get to the next-closest one. There was a wait, but they were smart enough to let you place your order while you waited for table, which meant that your dinner would be ready about the same time you got seated since it takes about half an hour to cook a deep dish pizza.

Now, I've had deep dish pizza in Chicago before (in fact, I think I've probably had Giordano's before), but I had no recollection of how big it was, so I let dad do the ordering for the boys (he and I like meat, and Rachel agreed to share with Tori, who is a vegetarian). I didn't find it alarming that he ordered a medium for us while the girls got a small because Tori generally doesn't eat a lot at meals (she's more of a constant grazer, and at formal meals she tends to focus on dessert more than the main course), and she and Rachel were also sharing a salad. But when the pizza came, I swear, I was stuffed after only two pieces. When my dad finished all four of his pieces and took a half of one of mine, I tried to start a third piece, but after just one bite I felt like I was going to die. I felt bad not finishing my allotment, but then again, based on the size of Rachel and Tori's pie, I doubt I would have been able to finish half a small, either.

(I found out something very disturbing about Tori on our trip: she does not have the normal filters for knowing when leftovers have gotten unsafe. Her mother is too paranoid about it—if something stays out of the fridge for longer than half an hour after you have it wrapped up, she'll throw it out—but Tori is not paranoid enough. During our trip to Chicago, she saved the pizza from Friday night which remained unrefrigerated until she ate it for dinner on Sunday night back in Iowa City, while she saved some thai leftovers from Saturday night for lunch on Monday, which were also unrefrigerated from Saturday night until Sunday night when she got back to her condo. She told me that she had recently eaten yogurt that was unrefrigerated and several days past its sell-by date, and while we were on a particularly desolate stretch of interstate with no place to stop for food, she ate a cracker from a package of peanut butter and cheese crackers that had expired 18 months previous (which thankfully tasted so awful that she didn't eat any more of them). I don't know how you can grow up in this country in this day and age and not get a little disgusted by food that hasn't been refrigerated properly, but somehow Tori has totally missed out on this valuable piece of cultural knowledge. Blech.)

After dinner, we took a cab to see Blue Man Group. It was pretty entertaining, but there's something not right about a franchise that has nightly performances in five cities around the world and which is worth millions of dollars trying to do biting social commentary about how art has been consumed by the commercial interests of the world. I mean, I know they started off as a little independent theater show, and I can't really blame them for capitalizing on their success, and in all honesty I really enjoyed watching them construct songs out of improvised instuments, but still, it was like watching Wal-Mart complain about discount stores.

After the show, we took the El back to the hotel, and I tried to wind down and get to bed quickly so I could get up early and catch the shuttle in to the Art Institute.

No Star Wars for me yet. I mean, I own the DVDs now, I just haven't had a chance to watch any of them yet. If I was a good little nerd, I would have taken the day off yesterday, purchased a copy at 10 a.m. sharp from the closest Best Buy, and spent the entire day indoors watching Episodes IV-VI consecutively with the blinds closed to keep out any hint of daylight. <sigh> Sometimes I miss college.

I can't believe it's only Wednesday. I feel like I haven't had a day off in weeks, I have my internship tonight, one of my supervisees is leaving for two months to have surgery for her carpal tunnel (which puts her workload squarely on my shoulders, since I'm already understaffed and I can't milk any more out of the rest of my team), and our hell week starts this Saturday. It's a good kind of hell, but it's still going to be difficult to get through. It starts Saturday with an Orioles game, then Sunday is the Decemberists, Monday is my physics class, Tuesday is Wilco, Wednesday is my internship at the Walters, and Thursday is another Orioles game (followed by our final game of the season on Saturday). The earliest I'll get home any of those nights is on my internship night, when I'll probably walk in my front door around 9:30 or so. I feel like I'm backlogged on my blogging now, but it may well take me until mid-October to recount everything that's going to happen in the next ten days, especially with the limited amount of time I'm going to have for writing.

Am I crazy, or is it a little early for Halloween decorations? And I'm not talking about seeing them on store shelves, I'm talking about glowing orange jack o'lanterns plugged in and spread out on the front lawn. What the hell? By next week they'll have their Christmas stuff up.

Look, Jeff—you know I love you, man. And you know I love Connie, too. But right now, I have to put Thunder's well-being first, because what you're doing is wrong. Don't force me to involve the authorities.

The baseball game Saturday afternoon was great—the weather was perfect, the fans were enthusiastic without being loudmouths, and the O's took an early lead and never looked back, but they were never far enough ahead that there wasn't drama when a Tiger got on base. Probably one of the best experiences we've had in the last couple of years.

We decided to switch our tickets for the last game of the season against Boston next Saturday from our normal seats to club level seats, after a recommendation from our car dealer, who has full season tickets. He traded some of his tickets in so he could bring his whole family to a game and sit in the club level, and he raves about the experience every time we see him. We've wanted to give it a try since then, and we figure Saturday will be a pretty good time because it means we're far less likely to be sitting near rowdy, obnoxious, rude Red Sox fans (some of you might think those qualifiers are redundant, and I'm pretty close to agreeing with you—the Sox fans are no better than the Yankees fans, at least in Camden Yards).

We also went to a Decemberists concert on Sunday night at the Recher Theatre, but I'll probably do full write-up of that in the next couple of days and post it to notes.

Man. This physics class is pretty intense—I thought the first couple of weeks were going to be pretty math-heavy, but I'm starting to think it's going to be 13 weeks straight of non-stop equations. I think I've found a good way to approach it, but right now my head is feeling all soupy, so I'll fill you in later.

By the way, according to our professor, this is the key to everything:

ds^2 = dx^2 + dy^2 + dz^2 - c^2dt^2

The little ^ denotes that the next number is a superscript, so that's a whole bunch of stuff squared. Other than that, all I remember is that d is a constant, s is a point in spacetime, and x, y, and z are distances between two points (so that dx is like ∆x, or the distance between two points on line x, or point x1 - point x2). He didn't explain that last bit yet, the part that starts with the c, but he told us that's how you work time into Einstein's special relativity.

We only spent half an hour on this part—the rest of class was spent on similar equation building (during which time I realized just how much I've forgotten about basic algebra, which I used to be quite good at). I'm enjoying this class, but it makes me remember exactly why I became an english major after I left NCSSM.

Work is really pissing me off this week, or more specifically, the bastards who run the enterprise IT department are really pissing me off. I can't believe it's only Wednesday—it feels like I've been doing nothing but dealing with their bullshit for a weeks.

Yesterday I got an email from Joey F. Peon (

Subject: Woe is me

I am just a lowly peon... never will I respond to your message.


Of course, I've never sent email to this person or this email address, and this is probably some new kind of scam/spam because it was sent to a non-existent address at my domain (those all get dumped into a catchall account), but I can't imagine what it's for—there was no other text, no attachments, and the email was plain text, so there were no embedded images or code that could send data back to the sender telling them that this was a valid email address. Plus, my spam filter gave it a score of -2.6 (5 is the minimum score needed to be considered spam, and it's usually pretty good about identifying junk mail). Anyone have any guesses?

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