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Sleepily home


Made it home safely from my New York/Swarthmore trip.

Overall a pretty good trip (despite the technical difficulties), due mostly to seeing friends.

Had dinners in NYC with Rob S, Catherine O, Bruce C, and Karen K. Friday, had lunch with Tempest; Friday afternoon, met Sumana and Leonard at Penn Station and hung out with them for a bit before getting on a train to Swarthmore. Good to see all of you!

And apologies to the New Yorkers I didn't manage to see this trip. Next time, I'll try and do a better job of figuring out ahead of time who's living there. (There's an iPhone app that groups your contacts geographically, but (a) it's very slow, because it processes all of your contacts every time you launch it, and (b) that helps only if you actually have everyone's addresses in your address book.)

Anyway, took the train to Philadelphia, rented a car at 30th St, got a little lost trying to leave the station (ended up in the taxi parking lot), but eventually made it to Swarthmore. Had dinner with Annie F, then hung out with Jim M.

Saturday, Jim had arranged a roundsing under the belltower, which was lovely. We'd been concerned that not enough people would show up, but there ended up being at least 14 adults, plus two kids (who mostly didn't participate), plus three or four random strangers who wandered by and joined in for a song or two. The acoustics under the tower were great as usual. There were half a dozen songs that I hadn't sung in a while and I'd forgotten how pretty they were. The weather was nice. My voice didn't behave as well as I'd hoped (usually after a couple hours, my lower register is still doing fine, I just lose the top of my range), but I think it was nonetheless one of the better roundsings I've attended, and that's saying a lot. Thanks to Jim for organizing and running it, and to everyone else for attending and participating.

And at the end, half a dozen intrepid advanced singers (much more advanced than me) did Peter Schickele's "Dona Nobis," which is much much harder than the traditional song by the same name. I had previously heard Swarthmore advanced roundsingers trying to learn this one, and to be honest, I had kind of wondered why they were bothering; from their comments, I had a vague idea that it was gratuitously difficult, and I didn't particularly enjoy hearing the parts I heard of it. I had figured it was one of those songs that people who really understand music can appreciate much more than I can. But it turns out that when it's sung by half a dozen good singers who already know it, in a space with great acoustics, it sounds really pretty even to my untrained ear. Made me wish I had installed a voice-recorder app on my iPhone.

Spent the rest of the afternoon/evening at Jim's playing parlor games.

Today, I had hoped to do things like go for a walk in the Crum and spend more time hanging out with Jim, but I didn't wake up 'til 12:30 p.m. (finally got a decent amount of sleep! more or less--at least an hour of that time involved only intermittent sleep), and wasn't really up and awake 'til at least 1:30. (Odd sleep thing: a couple of times in the past few days, I've had incidents of sleep that I experienced as time jumps--I didn't realize I was falling asleep nor waking up, just suddenly observed that a fair bit of time had elapsed since a moment earlier. Both times this happened, I was sleepy and trying to go to sleep--it's not like I suddenly fell asleep in the middle of doing something else; but it didn't match my usual experience of sleep.)

Had lunch with Annie. Returned my rental car and made it to the airport more or less on time.

Flight from PHL to SLC was uneventful. (Overheard at PHL: guy with big cowboy hat talking on cell phone just after coming through security, telling someone something like "Yeah, I had the usual hassles with my cowboy hat. They always make me run it through the X-ray system. I lost a hundred-dollar hat that way once. [...pause while other person apparently suggested something...] No, last time I tried that it got me strip-searched.") Flight from SLC to SJC was also uneventful, except for the probably 30+ minutes the plane spent wandering around after we'd boarded but before takeoff.

As a footnote to my week of technofailure:

I have a spare battery for my home laptop, but couldn't use that laptop due to likelihood of overheating. I don't have a spare battery for my work laptop. I had a paper book with me, but I was nearly done with it. And I had my iPhone, but couldn't use that during takeoff and landing.

So I read half a dozen submissions on my work laptop on the first leg of the trip, and then it was low on battery so I played Spider and Web on my iPhone for much of the rest of the flight, finally justifying the fact that the Frotz app (Interactive Fiction parser/environment) has been sitting on my phone unused for many months. So by the time I got to SLC, I had two largely useless laptops and an iPhone that was running low on battery. I charged my work laptop a little in the airport while waiting for my next flight, but ran out of electronic options about half an hour from SJC. So I pulled out my trusty pen (I always carry one or two with me, even though I rarely use 'em these days) and wrote some story notes on the back of my boarding pass, then finished reading the book I'd brought, and only spent the last fifteen minutes or so of the flight with basically nothing to do. So that all worked out fine.

But the reason I mentioned this as an incident of technofailure is that after we landed, I discovered that I had three or four one- to two-inch ink blotches all over my hand.

Yes, even my trusty Faber-Castell micropoint Uniball was subject to the technology-failure field. I'm glad the airplanes worked.

Anyway. I'm home now, and very sleepy, and headed for bed shortly.


I have mostly switched to pencils on planes because I haven't yet found a type of pen that is 100% reliable (to not leak) on planes.

I have yet to suffer catastrophic inkpen failure on a train.

I'm still basking in your activities as Swarthmore--round singing, parlor games, time with Jim. How lovely!

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