Road Show

Homer Simpson: [after hitting a deer statue] D'oh!
Lisa Simpson: A deer!
Marge Simpson: A female deer!

The Simpsons, “Bart Gets an Elephant” (3/31/94)

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New Paltz Logo - 3 Color This past weekend I headed up to New Paltz to see some of Daughter’s handiwork.

This time around, she was working on Noises Off, a three-act play which, each time, covers the first act of a play-within-the-play called “Nothing On”. Daughter’s main job was as the Propmaster, so during the show itself she didn’t really have an awful lot to do. Most of her work comes before the show, when she has to acquire or fabricate props, or in-between shows, when she has to repair them. (And don’t get her started on the prop sardines.) As a result, she was able to actually sit with me during the show and chit-chat between acts, so that was pretty fun. But I’m getting a little bit ahead of the story.

Wee One was sidelined from cheerleading because of an injury, and it was supposed to be the end of the season for her. But she managed to bounce back quickly and, about ten days ago, was given clearance and put back into the cheer routine. So Wife took Wee One to the last cheerleading meet of the season, and I headed to upstate New York, solo.

For most of the trip, I listened to an audiobook I’d downloaded (Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys, if you’re interested, and the narration by Lenny Henry is awesome). Since I’m still without my iPod, I accomplished this by plugging the Aux plug into the headphone jack of my laptop and listened away. When I got off the highway, however, I decided that I wanted to concentrate a little more on what I was doing. So I shut off the audiobook and I tuned in to local radio.

Because I was alone, I got to do something that I’m pretty sure Wife hates: I hit the “scan” button and tuned in to all of the radio that Ulster County had to offer, ten seconds at a time. There was the usual mix of rock, country, classical, and so forth, and then I heard…

No. Way. Back that sucker up.

Sure enough, I found myself listening to Frank Sinatra singing about those J-I-N-G, L-E Bells. Christmas music! Well, I reasoned, it’s close enough that stations could start sprinkling in the holiday tunes. But then the song ended and another Christmas song started, this one by Harry Connick Jr. Yes indeed, 92.1 Lite-FM in Poughkeepsie had already gone All Christmas All The Time. I’ve ranted on about this in previous posts, and I expect to do so again, so I’ll let it go for now. Anyway, that plus the displays appearing in the stores the last few weeks impressed upon me that ‘tis the Season and all that. But that’s not all…

I hit a diner and got a grilled cheese sandwich, then checked into my hotel. I dumped off my stuff and it was off to A Night of Theater.

The show itself was fun, as I mentioned above and everyone truly did a fine job. There were a couple of pratfalls that had everyone worrying about the health of the actors involved, and a couple of incidents where Daughter worried actively about the health of the props that had just hit the floor unexpectedly. In the third act, a lamp had been knocked off a table and out of sight behind the furniture. When an actor finally picked it up and returned it to the table, it was still lit. Resilient props, those.

The next morning, we had some breakfast and I wanted to get some apples from a local orchard. I actually had several orders to fill from co-workers, so off we went to a farm about seven miles outside of town, in the town of Gardiner. While there, we picked out roughly two-and-a-half pecks of apples, which is meaningless to anyone who isn’t in Farm Country, so let me convert that for you: we bought a metric shitload of apples. No kidding, I spent about $45 just on apples, and only five bucks of that was for me. My co-workers were really hot for apples, but I confess a lot of that was my own doing, so when I gave them the apples I deliberately allowed myself to be under-reimbursed by about a third. No harm, no foul, everyone’s happy and Do A Good Deed Now And Then, you know?

Anyway, on the way back to New Paltz, we passed a road sign. It had clearly been around for awhile, but someone made a recent addition to it. Naturally I turned the car around and went back so that I could get a photograph of it:

Deer Crossing

Now I know for SURE that ‘tis the season.

Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Smart Guy, That.

Ainsley Hayes: Mr. Tribbey? I’d like to do well on this, my first assignment. Any advice you could give me that might point me the way of success would be, by me, appreciated.
Lionel Tribbey: Well, not speaking in iambic pentameter might be a step in the right direction.

The West Wing, “And It’s Surely To Their Credit” (11/1/00)

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The other day I was in a Borders Express store in White Marsh. I knew that at some point soon I’d end up waiting for Wife and I wanted to have something to read. As I wandered the store looking for inspiration and wishing I’d brought my Kindle, which already has a dozen books I haven’t read yet, I came across this book:

Linchpin Mr. Godin’s definition of a linchpin is a person who is indispensible. He argues that the current business model in the world is outdated and fading fast, and not being a linchpin is essentially career suicide.

This is not a typical business/marketing book. With most of those, whatever you read will make sense as you read it, but nearly all of it will be gone from your head immediately afterward. Ninety percent of what Godin says in this book is phrased as common sense. And yet, you still have these moments of “Ah Ha!” epiphany as you read the book, moments that stay with you and which inform the way that you approach your job. Even if it’s not specifically “business” as such (as mine is), the idea of breaking some of the molds, making your own rules (especially in their absence) and turning your work into a kind of art form is liberating.

I’m still only about halfway through the book, but I already want to have Godin’s babies, it’s that good. It’s on Amazon.com for $13.99, or you can get the Kindle edition for 9.99. Or you can be a schmuck like me and plunk down twenty-five bucks for it because you’re in the brick-and-mortar store. But you know what? It was worth it.

Yet Another Click on the Nerd Meter

Sally Rogers: My Aunt Agnes was right. You know what she said when she saw Randy at the bowling alley? She said, "Sally, you can’t tell a book if the title’s covered."

The Dick Van Dyke Show, "The Twizzle" (2/28/62)

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It took a few months, but I finally got enough money together to buy this:

Kindle This is the Amazon Kindle. The one you see here isn’t vibrating or startled; I think it’s a demonstration of the fact that it has a wireless connection, so those would be radio waves.

This is probably the coolest e-book I’ve seen. It’s about the size of a paperback novel, but you don’t have to deal with text getting all curvy as it dips into the center margin. The text is crisp and clear and adjustable in size. The unit, out of the box, can hold about 200  books, but there’s a space for a standard SD card of up to 4 gigabytes, which is a BOATLOAD of books.

Kindle_with_cover_2 You can also subscribe to several magazines and newspapers, and a few blogs as well (such as Reality Blurred or BoingBoing). The subscription price is a little cheaper than the newsstand, and you’re not getting any ads. Unfortunately neither are you getting comics or classified ads from the newspapers yet, but perhaps that’ll come in the future.

The books’ format is proprietary to the Kindle, which means that for best-sellers and such you have to order from Amazon. The good news is that the Kindle edition is usually $9.99, which means that even though the Kindle itself is nearly four hundred dollars, the savings over even Amazon’s price means that (in my case, anyway) it will pretty much pay for itself before long. The Kindle can also handle plain text files (such as books from Project Gutenberg), and you can use it to read Microsoft Word files and PDF files, among a few other formats. You could also, if you’re so inclined, store MP3 files on it and listen to music as you read.

OK, I’ve gushed enough, and the last time I was nearly done with this post my browser crashed and I lost the whole thing. So let me say that if you’re as big a reader as I am, this is one gizmo worth checking out.

This Beats Actually Writing A Post

Dr. Frasier Crane: [Reading A Tale of Two Cities to the guys in the bar] "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."
Norm Peterson: Wait, whoa, whoa, whoa. Which was it?

Cheers, "I’m Getting My Act Together and Sticking it In Your Face" (2/7/91)

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Th_najuremonomosm2008blue I hear tell from The Internets that Yellojkt is pushing hard this year on his bid to spread the gospel of January being National Just Read More Novels Month, so I’m setting this post up to appear at one minute past midnight on New Year’s Day, just to start the year off right. So if you’re reading this just after midnight, Happy New Year! Hope you resolved to get a life. Jeez.

As it happens, NaJuReMoNoMo is, as Yellojkt describes it, "astoundingly easy." All you have to do is read a novel from beginning to end during the month. The only thing that makes this difficult for me is that, while I’m a voracious reader, I’ve been on a curious run of a great deal of nonfiction lately. So I’m going to have to order some new fiction from Amazon and do some re-reading in the interim.

If you’d like to play along, it’s only fair to do a post about it and don’t forget to use some artwork. Yello’s site has a link to all kinds of NaJuReMoNoMo pictures.

This should be fun, no kidding.

He May Be Related to James

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And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’"

George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 3

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A few Decembers ago I was in Florida visiting my mom with GF and the Wee One. As it happened, my ex-wife,  Daughter’s mother, was also spending the holiday season in Florida, visiting her parents. So she was down there with her new husband, a rather nice fellow who looks a little like Jesse Ventura, and Daughter.

Usually, when she’s in Florida for more than a few days, because there isn’t a lot of physical distance involved, Daughter gets to spend a night with the opposite grandparents. So there were plans afoot for her to spend a day with my mother and then she’d go back to Spring Hill after supper. My mother decided to invite the ex and her husband down for the supper; we’d all eat together and then they’d head back.

Then it occurred to her that this might bother me somehow.

So she took me aside, away from everyone else, and said to me, "Listen. I’ve invited (Ex and Husband) down for dinner before they get Daughter."

"Okay," I said. What do I care? I’ve got no argument with anyone here.

"But if that’s going to be uncomfortable for you, I’ll change the plan. They can just come later and I’ll take them out to dinner some other night or something."

"What are you going to do, un-invite them? I’ve got no problem with them. I know you get along with Ex. So what?" And this part was the clincher. "Look. You told me something a long time ago: ‘Always do the right thing. This way nobody can say anything against you.’ This is a right thing to do." My mom actually cried a little at this, gave me a hug and so forth. And we had a decent evening.

It takes a lot of energy to hate someone. It’s incredibly wearing and it’s consuming. It starts to take over your whole being and it poisons your attitude and that of the people around you. Negative attitudes can really suck the life out of you. I try to avoid people like this, but the toughest part about them is that they don’t usually recognize themselves as such. These are the Crazymakers in our lives.

Julia Cameron describes them thus:

Crazymakers are those personalities that create storm centers. Charismatic, out of control, long on problems, short on solutions. They draw you in and the way they can suck the life right out of you would make Dracula jealous. They are a mess. They want attention, they like thriving on drama, and they want help with those problems, but they never listen to you. They don’t care about what is going on with YOU. It’s all ME ME ME. They pit people against each other. They are often late, make dramatic entrances. They are manipulators. They make sure your sense of well being is snuffed before it ever gets going. They are always in one crisis or another. And being the sensitive soul you are, you probably try with all your might to solve their problems, make them happy. In a way, when you do this, you are making them happy because they have all your attention, they are in the spotlight. It gives them POWER, which is a heady thing. We have to have the power to say "no." NO! At first you might feel guilty, like you aren’t being a good friend. Well, you are. To yourself. REMEMBER: Crazymakers:

  • break deals and destroy schedules.
  • expect special treatment
  • discount your reality
  • spend your time and money
  • triangulate those they deal with (create drama, pit against each other)
  • are expert blamers (nothing is EVER their fault, have you noticed?)
  • create dramas
  • are seldom where they belong
  • hate schedules
  • hate order
  • deny they are crazy makers

Another quotation before I go, from Pulp Fiction:

Jules: There’s a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.

I been sayin’ that shit for years. And if you ever heard it, it meant your ass. I never really questioned what it meant. I thought it was just a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherfucker before you popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some shit this mornin’ made me think twice. Now I’m thinkin’: it could mean you’re the evil man. And I’m the righteous man. And Mr. 9mm here, he’s the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could be you’re the righteous man and I’m the shepherd and it’s the world that’s evil and selfish. I’d like that. But that shit ain’t the truth. The truth is you’re the weak. And I’m the tyranny of evil men. But I’m tryin’, Ringo. I’m tryin’ real hard to be a shepherd.

I’m trying very hard, some days.

Reader’s Digest, Writer’s Cramp

I snared this from Keb (whose new blog may still be on the QT, I’m not sure), who snagged it from Ms. Chatty, who got it from Hothouse Momma and I bring all this up because between the bad links and the right-click protection, HHM is where I had to copy the text from.

I think yellojkt is working on this too, so I hope I don’t steal his thunder, here.

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What do the books I’ve read say about me? What would your list look like? I borrowed this from someone in the blog-o-sphere. It reminded me of books I want to add to my reading list. There are several books that arent on this list, that I have read, but just arent on this list. Look at the list of books below.

  • Bold the ones you’ve read
  • Italicize the ones you want to read
  • leave blank the ones that you aren’t interested in.
  • Do with this information what you will. I don’t tag people but feel free to play along.   

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)

2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)

5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)

6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)

7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)—Only got about halfway through, get it?

8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)

9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)

10.A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)

11.Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)

12.Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)

13.Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)

14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)

15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)

16.Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)

17. Fall on Your Knees(Ann-Marie MacDonald)

18. The Stand (Stephen King)

19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)

20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)

21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)

22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)

23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)

25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)

26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)

27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)

28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)

29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)

30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)

31. Dune (Frank Herbert)

32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)

33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)—in my on-deck circle; unfortunately that pile is packed in a box

34. 1984 (Orwell)

35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)

36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)

37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)

38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)

39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)

40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)

41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)—My mother loves this one but I couldn’t get through it.

42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)

43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)

44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)

45. Bible—a decent chunk of it, anyway

46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)

47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)

48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)

49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)

50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb) but I don’t remember anything about it.

51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)

52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)

53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)

54. Great Expectations (Dickens)

55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)

56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)

57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)

58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)

59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)

60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)

61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)

63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)

64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)

65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)

66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)

68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)

69. Les Miserables (Hugo)

70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)

72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)

73. Shogun (James Clavell)

74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)

75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)

77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)

78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)

79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)

80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)

81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)

82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)

83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)

84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)

85. Emma (Jane Austen)

86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)—Another one I just couldn’t get through. I couldn’t buy into the conceit. My mother may have disinherited me for this.

87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)

89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)

90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)

91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)

92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)

93. The Good Earth(Pearl S. Buck)

94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)

95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)

96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)

97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)

98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)

99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)

100.Ulysses (James Joyce)

Take That, Yellojkt

People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order, so they’ll have good voice boxes in case there’s ever anything really meaningful to say.

—Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle (1963)

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I wasn’t going to post this, since I saw it on Danielle’s site and I tend not to carry stuff over even when I participate. But then I saw the result.


You’re Cat’s Cradle!
by Kurt Vonnegut
You believe quite firmly that free will deserted you long ago and far away. As a result, it’s hard to take responsibility for anything. Even though you show great potential as a leader of a small 3rd world country, the choices are all made ahead of time. You’re rather fond of games involving string. Your fear of nuclear weaponry is trumped only by your fear of ice.
Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

For what it’s worth, it’s a coincidence that I prefer most of my drinks without ice. Coincidence! You hear me!?

Drumming Up Business

Next Wednesday, St. Mark’s United Church of Christ is holding a discussion with Amy Sens, who is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School. There will be a light supper followed by a discussion of The DaVinci Code. Everything starts at 6:00 and if you want in on this, you can call the church at 410-644-5466.

I’m not a religious type (if I were doing an online dating profile I’d be in the "spiritual but not religious" column), but I do like St. Mark’s. Pastor Lucy has been a very strong supporter of the local community. Plus, she’s just too nice.

The Wee One will occasionally go and participate in some of the church’s special programs, so I’ve been to a few of her services. One of the things I’ve noticed is that her congregation tends to be a little bit older. I’m actually surprised that they don’t have better access for the handicapped into the sanctuary area.

I presume that most churches are having a little bit of trouble attracting a younger crowd, and that’s why they’re so often willing to grab onto any cultural item that’s somehow relevant to them. Put together a Bible study group and you’ll likely see some of the usual faces, but combine it with one of the biggest best-sellers of the past few years and now you’ve got an event!

Some churches have done the same with The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by drawing Aslan as a symbol of Jesus’ sacrifice, or The Passion of the Christ, both of which draw positive images of the whole story. The DaVinci Code represents a pretty full-force attack on Biblical tenets, so the discussion may be a little more heated.

It may be an interesting discussion. I’m not sure whether I’m going to attend. I think The DaVinci Code raises some interesting questions but the biggest question of all, which I don’t think Amy Sens can answer, is why such a dreadfully-written book can make it to the best-seller list?

It Doesn’t Always Pay to be Smart

I’m learning that one slowly. I don’t have to be right all the time anymore.

Sometimes that works out and sometimes it doesn’t. I have one example of each and they’re related to the same incident.

On the one side, I visited a school to observe a student. I was told that the student has a taxi arranged as part of her educational program. All well and good, but the taxi wasn’t documented appropriately. When I pointed this out, I got a hand wave and a complaint of "Oh! Those forms are so redundant, so what." Yeah, maybe they are, but this is how you fill them out so why invite grief doing them the wrong way? I said nothing, instead saying, "Ah…okay." Now, this is the closest I came to a confrontation with anybody there that day, so I can only assume that this is what they were talking about when they later complained that I was "pompous" when I was there. So I guess it didn’t work that time. I didn’t get sucked into the argument but it was probably clear that I’d cut short a debate.

I knew that these people weren’t going to like what I had to say (because they’d done several things inappropriately), but when they did it was such a big deal that I commented to my boss later on that there was "weeping and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments," which is a cliche at best and a mixed metaphor at worst. Maybe (probably) I shouldn’t have put that in an email, since he thought I was talking about him. Oops. But the other thing that he says upset him was that the phrase was both Biblical and sexist.

Huh? Biblical, sure: "weeping & gnashing" comes from several places in the Book of Matthew (and once in Luke). None of them are gender-specific as far as who’s weeping (or, in one case, wailing). "Rending of garments" appears throughout the Bible and again has no specificity; it’s simply an expression of grief. I’ll let you do the lookups.

But am I going to bring this up? No, sir. When you’re on the carpet you can NOT appear to be smarter than the guy yelling at you; it’ll just make him angrier. Plus, it’s really kind of beside the point. So, for a change, I managed to keep my damn mouth shut and took the abuse. The only thing I said was that I was going for a cliche rather than a sexist remark and let it go at that.

Nevertheless, the leadership maxim stands: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. If you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

At least, I think it does, anyway.

Warmer Weather, Longer Days

Yesterday? Was a very long day.

I had to present make-up training for the people who missed it the first time around. I did a good enough job that they asked me to do the make-ups for everyone in the city who missed it the first time. We’re talking nearly a hundred people. That’s a lot for a training session. They decided to break it into two smaller groups at 90 minutes each. So I have 90 minutes to present what was originally almost three hours. On a topic that nobody trained ME on; they just gave me the book and said "go teach this stuff."

God DAMN but I’d be good at this if it were my job. At least, somebody thinks so.

So the morning started with two minor disasters. First, I couldn’t find the memory stick on which I’d saved the PowerPoint presentation. With no presentation, I’ve got a white screen and not much else. Suddenly it occurred to me that I’d emailed it to my boss and that the document would still be in my Outlook "sent" box. That’s the good news. The bad news is, that also means that it’s on the City server so in order to get it, I have to use a dial-up connection to access the city server (since I’m still at home) and download this file that’s over 2MB. At a 26Kbps connection. It took nearly a half hour to get it done. (Basically it has to download twice. Just trust me on this one.) And away I go, to the training location.

The school I have to go to is pretty carefully hidden. What’s more, the building in which it’s located was originally a much larger high school. What the city has done is break it into smaller schools within the same space. So School A has this part of the building, School B has that part and so on. And Schools A, B, C and D are all separated from one another via locked doors and gates, etc.

Naturally, I park on what turns out to be the polar opposite of the building from where I need to be. I walked into the 8:30 training session at 8:25. For all that, we actually got our crap together (there was a minor electrical issue) and were up and running by 8:45, which is pretty typical even when everything’s in place on time. (There are always people who arrive late. This city has a pretty casual relationship with the clock, lemme tell ya.)

The sessions went well, overall. The middle- and high school people gave me the usual raft of crap about things because they think that anything that comes out of my mouth can’t apply to their situation, but for the most part I held them off, had relevant answers and got generally good reviews. At least, they wrote mostly nice things on the satisfaction surveys and that’s what (literally) counts.

Afterwards I ran back to my School of the Day but it was already 1:00 by then. I still had to finish putting together some paperwork for my boss so that I could deliver it to his house in Pikesville. Then I’d be free…free as a bird until 7:00, when my Bookcrossing.com Meetup group hooks up for its monthly meeting. Great, except that there was a short stack of stuff that needed to be taken care of NOW, dammit. So I didn’t even get started on the paperwork packet until after 3.

6:00 and I’m knocking on the boss’ door (I got a little lost). Now I have less than an hour to get to the Meetup (where I’m supposed to be running the meeting), from Pikesville to Columbia. If you’re not local, trust me; it’s not walking distance. And the first thing I have to do is find out how to get to the Beltway from where I am. I know it’s around here somewhere…at least I’m smart enough to ask for directions before I get out of the neighborhood.

Zipping down I-695 and then I-95. I’m tired, I’m hoarse, I’m hungry, I kind of stink (it was hot in the room we’d used for training!), my hair is a wreck. Yeah, I’d be a total babe magnet if only everything about me were different. I actually manage to get into the immediate area of the Meetup at 6:45. I duck into the nearby Target and buy a hairbrush, some cotton and astringent so I can clean myself up a little bit anyway. Then into the Borders and straight into the Men’s Room before anyone spots me coming in.

I emerge from the porcelain chrysalis, a beautiful butterfly. Or, presentable at least.

The Meetup went well, about our usual two hours, but by 9:15 or so I was just plain starving. I don’t care if it’s late; I’m getting food and an adult beverage. One of the members has family in the area; she volunteered to help me find a decent place and this way I wouldn’t have to eat alone. I felt bad that, with all the running around I didn’t bring any books to exchange but it didn’t stop me from leaving with two. One is by Oliver Sacks. He’s a fascinating neurologist who’s written about several of the patients and their unusual medical conditions he’s come across. The book I got is called The Island of the Colorblind and looks terribly interesting. The other is one from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. I get the feeling that you either really dig this series or you don’t. So far I’m kind of meh. Therefore I’m not linking it. Take that! In your face, Pratchett!

Columbia, Maryland is a planned community. It’s planned all the way down to the smallest detail. And one of the details, apparently, is that there are no independent businesses. Every store is a chain. I’m sure it works in general and it’s a nice-ish place to live, but it feels soul-less. One of the oddest things about Columbia is the names of the streets. "Sicklebar Way" or "Satan Wood Drive" are typical names around there. Go look it up. OK, "Satan Wood Drive" came about because of a typo, but the fact is, nobody really blinked for literally years because it’s such a Columbia, MD kind of name. They fixed it a couple of weeks ago, after nearly 30 years.

So I had a pleasant, if late, dinner at the Don Pablo’s across the parking lot. We were going to hit the Lone Star Cafe but we couldn’t figure out how to get there from where we were (and we did try; we just wound up back where we started each time). The only thing that sucked about it was that the bar closed early because it was midweek and we only had one beer each. But if that’s the worst complaint you’ve got about going somewhere with someone, then what the hell; I’ll take it.