Tag Archives: Travel

Fourth Con Travel Log (Day 1 – Friday)

Over the weekend I was up in Cleveland with the good people of Restore the Fourth. As with our protest on July 4th, I traveled up to Findlay the night before to hang out with Brian and the lady Buckley, and plan the following day’s course of action. Most of this was written at the Buckley dining room table. It’s kind of a special thing to write in the house of one of the writers you admire. Wonder why Brian never writes at my house?

It’s definitely a bummer to be away from the little red haired girl for most of the weekend. I left straight from work, so really our last night together was Thursday (Wednesday if you take into account the church meetings she had Thursday night). Still my wife is very supportive, both of the windmills I choose to tilt at, and for me spending time with my friends. Fortunately, we were able to hang out for lunch up in Delaware, which is always a treat.

Friday turned out to be a pretty hectic day at work. This often seems to be the way of things. Thursdays are actually my favorite day as they seem to be the calmest and most efficient days for me. Friday always pretends like it’s going to be a lazy day, and ends up being the craziest day of the week, coupled with the fact that I am leaving for a trip with no time to say goodbye to the wife, or even the dog. I’d say goodbye to the cat, but she probably won’t even realize I’m gone since most of her attention has been captured by a giant stuffed catnip pepper we got for her a few weeks ago. Every time I see here with it I sing a few bars of “I’m in love with a pepper.”

I’ve been having mixed feelings about Restore the Fourth lately, and hadn’t actually been planning on going to this rally until about 10 days ago. I think part of it is the energy expenditure. I’m still pretty worn out from getting the Fractal book out, and I’m gearing up to work on Surreality, so my reserves are kind of low. It’s definitely an important issue, as even the last few weeks have shown. But time away, even to see friends, can be a little taxing.

But at the same time I do enjoy a good trip. I spent some time putting together a mix CD for the car ride (yes some of us don’t have an MP3 plugin or satellite radio, and I hate wearing headphones while driving). Some Pomplamoose to lead out the mix, some solid Massive Attack, Fatboy Slim, Bonobo and Olafur Arnalds in the middle, and 99 Luftballoons to finish it out. I was in a bit of a weird mood, but that’s not exactly unusual. I also spent a decent bit of the night before trying to decide exactly what technology to take with me. It should give you some idea of where I am in the “real book experiment” when I tell you that I seriously considered leaving my paperback behind, as I was already taking two eReaders. The netbook is of course a necessity (otherwise how would I obsessively check Bundle Dragon and compose posts like this?)

The rest of my packing was done in kind of a hurry. I’ve been reading Wil Wheaton’s Just A Geek, and Thursday night, since the wife was at a meeting, I thought I’d finish my current chapter, do some Surreality reading, and then pack. Suffice it to say I now have some legitimate reasons to say “Damn you, Wheaton!” as I ended up reading him for over an hour, and getting nothing done on my book. Still breaks are good, and maybe I’ll have to take a crack at some of the book reviewing rules my dad post last week.

I got out of work pretty close to on time and marveled at how quickly I can get out of city life and into farm town. There are times when I think of Delaware as being on the edge of the big city, and a drive up 23 can certainly reinforce that fact. It kind of pleases me that most of what separates Mr. Buckley and me is along the same street, and it also makes for little need for directions, except when navigating through a subdivision where most of the streets begin with “fox”. Every time I drive up to Findlay I pass “Coons Candy” which boasts hundreds of different varieties, but for the life of me I’m never sure when they’re open (turns out 10-6 most days).

Seeing as how it had been a long day, and I had an hour and a half or so’s drive, I stopped at a Steak and Shake to try a cookie dough milkshake. I love cookie dough (it is probably my favorite ice cream ever) but as a milk shake, especially one eaten while driving, it was not terribly practical. Every few sips a chunk would get stuck in the straw, and I’d have to chew my way halfway down to dislodge it. Dietetic in a strange way I guess. I finished right around the time I passed the large pro-life signs about 10 miles from the end of 23.

The evening was spent largely celebrating the big BDB’s birthday, where I learned that Mrs. Dash can do wonders to zucchini. Brian’s prep for the rally gave me some time to chat with the lady Buckley, whose coming cubicle situation is unenviable. But best of all Brian and I had some time to talk about writing, this time story related and not the latest fractal iterations. Not that I don’t still love fractals, as Friday’s post should be good evidence of, but it has been a real treat to get back to fiction. I can’t wait to share this book with you, and hopefully others soon.

Well this getting a bit long for a post in which I drove and ate good food. There are five of us in the car up to Cleveland tomorrow, for a good 2.5 hours each way before our 3 hour time in the public square. I’m excited to see how many people turn out, but even if it’s only a few I know we’ll have a good time and spread some awareness.

Better get to bed before the netbook dies. Cheers!

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How My Wife Got Schooled By Santa On The True Meaning Of Christmas

Last week my wife and I vacationed in southern Indiana in celebration of our 4th anniversary. We stayed near French Lick, home to wineries, antiquing, and just a stones throw up the road from Santa Claus, IN.

For those of you not familiar Santa Claus, IN, or as I initially referred to it “the creepiest place on earth”, is a year round Christmas town. Nearly every store and business is prefaced by Santa or Christmas (i.e. Santa’s Auto Repair, Christmas Dollar Tree, etc.). And of course they have a huge Christmas store, with just about every Christmas related thing you can think of, including a real life Santa.

Santa’s of every shape and size grace this store. You’ve got Santa on a motorcycle, a $4000 Santa napping on the moon a la Dreamworks kid, and somewhere toward the middle of the store you’ve got a display of “kneeling Santas”.

Here’s what a kneeling Santa looks like for those who’ve never seen one:

kneeling-santa_2

 

Now my wife and I are standing in front of this display when she comments to me that she doesn’t quite know what to think about kneeling Santas and that it seems a little weird to her.

I should comment before we go any further that I both have my wife’s permission to tell this story (and use this title) and that I agreed with her that these were a little weird though before I got a chance to say it out loud …

Not two seconds after she says this to me than we look up and are met with a real live Santa. See this Santa doesn’t stay confined to a little chair to take pictures all day, but rather wanders the store randomly encountering the patrons. When they say you better be good because Santa Claus is watching you, in this store they mean it.

My wife and I are a little startled and we both say “hello … Santa”. Now this is a good Santa, real beard and *ahem* belly, and a great coat, gloves, boots everything.

Santa: “This is my favorite part of the store.”

My Wife: “Um … because of all the Santas?”

As it turns out we were standing in front of this Santa’s favorite display, one he had advocated for being in the store last year. He discussed with us how Santa dated back to the early centuries, and how he wasn’t always the symbol of materialism he is today. We both stood there listening, not exactly sure what to do. I mean … you can’t be rude to Santa, even if he wants to read you a story in the middle of a store.

To this Santa, Christmas is not about the materialism of Black Friday, and of gimme gimme gimme, but is really about the birth of Christ our lord and savior. Rather than thinking of Santa as a symbol of materialism, like most of the other Santas in the store, this Santa was well versed in the origins of his myth and how they coincided with what Christmas was really all about. He used Santa as a way to tell this story to kids who might otherwise be too caught up in all the other distractions of Christmas.

The mother of one child who had sat on this Santa’s lap asked how many gifts a child should get for Christmas, to which this Santa replied, well … the baby Jesus only got three and he was our savior.

Interesting guy this Santa, certainly an example of evangelism thriving in unusual environments.

Even in the “creepiest place on earth”.

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What’s In My Bag?

I always pack too much on trips. I was on a two day trip labor day weekend, most of which would be spent in the car or at a wedding.

Here’s what I packed (excluding clothing which I am surprisingly I pack very lightly):

– My netbook (adapter, mouse, mousepad)
– 6 flash drives totalling 180Gb of storage
– 3 physical books (2 thin, 1 medium for research)
– Zipped portfolio containing CDs, 5 pens, notepad, composition notebook, playing cards and a booklight)
– Digital camera (charger)
– A 3 outlet power strip and cigarette lighter power adapter
– My Kindle Touch (loaded with 6-7 albums, 4 This American Lifes, Apps and Games and my usual 1500+ books)
– Earbuds

Here’s what I used:
– Kindle Touch to write 6 blog posts, play Scrabble and listen to music (no TAL).
– Maybe 20 minutes research with 1 book, 2 pens, and the composition notebook.
– The Camera at the wedding.
– Power strip mainly to charge devices I had with me that I did not use.

I’ve traveled on long car rides all my life and I’m never realistic about what I’m actually going to do. Part of it is to give myself options, but many of the options I bring are unrealistic. Some may be becuse I am working on a lot of projects and think somehow I will work on them all. And I have gotten a lot of work done in the car (two weeks worth of blog posts ain’t too shabby).

But I think my dad’s got it right when he says I just like to travel around with my stuff. And it makes for a heavier load. Maybe someday I’ll realize the Kindle (or even less) is all I really need, but probably not for a while.

What stuff do you carry that you really don’t need? Why do you still ferry it around?

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