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Another life update


The previous entry didn't really say much about what I've been up to. Some notes:

Spent most of the week of the 12th dealing with computer issues and house issues. Took most of that week to get my new MacBook Pro successfully backed up. Meanwhile, a fridge repair person came and figured out what was wrong with my fridge, and took steps toward fixing it. And an AT&T repair person came out and fixed my land line; no idea what was wrong with it. And I moved a bunch of boxes around, though there are still a fair number of them in my living room.

Saturday the 11th, I flew to New York.

The visit with Rob was good. Been a long time since I've had more than a brief chat with him. His house is great; it's too bad it takes so long to get to Manhattan from there. Among other things he's up to, he's been doing some neat stuff involving organic food and hydroponics.

The week in NYC was also good, overall. I stayed in the Standard Hotel, a slab of a hotel on giant stilts; every room has one wall that's pretty much just a giant window overlooking the meatpacking district (which appears to be in the process of gentrifying) and the water. Also overlooking the remarkable High Line Park, a park built out of the remains of an elevated railroad track. Nifty!

I was nowhere near cool enough to stay at this hotel. Lots of black glass; a horde of thin hip-looking caucasian male employees with narrow ties, some of whom apparently did nothing but open the front door for guests all day; a weird video collage playing on two screens in every elevator; and a room unlike anything I've seen before. Large flat-screen TV on a post sticking up out of the floor; aforementioned huge windows (I gather that watching guests have sex up against the windows is a popular sport for passersby on the street below); super-arty magazines featuring quasi-tasteful photos of nude women in a rack in the room; a pack of hotel-branded condoms in the bar cabinet, the box of which showed remarkably explicit stick-figure icons of people having sex; a bathroom that had no place to hang towels. And, most remarkable of all, a black-tile-covered shower/tub semi-room with no door, no way to keep the water from splashing out onto the room rug, almost no light, and a large wooden-slat-covered "window" (no glass) into the main room. As one of the reviews I read beforehand pointed out, this is definitely not a room to be shared with a co-worker on a business trip, unless you're on intimate terms with said co-worker.

Anyway, although the room was kind of weird and offputting in many ways, the bed was comfortable and the view was great, and it was surprisingly quiet for sleeping (with earplugs in, anyway), and the proximity to the office (about three blocks) was excellent. So in the unlikely event that I ever have another work trip to NYC, I'll probably stay there again.

Also, half a block away is the non-gentrified Hector's Café and Diner, featuring burgers and fries and gyros and such, served by friendly people. It's open 'til 10:30 p.m. and then reopens at 2 a.m.

The meetings at work weren't as planning-focused as last time, and there was more team-building kind of stuff. Not bad; certainly not as bad as most team-building exercises; but nothing special either, especially since I'm leaving this group soon.

Outside of work, had a nice dinner with Karen K Tuesday night. Wednesday night, attended the aforementioned KGB reading. It was a little overwhelming—the bar was packed solid when I got there half an hour before the reading. I tried to chat with the few people I knew, and a couple of people they knew, but it was too loud to say much. And all through the introductory material and the first couple readings, I was standing up (and could barely see the readers). I had done a lot more walking than usual at Rob's, and my lower back and legs were not doing so well, but there was no place to sit down; by the time of the intermission, I was in too much pain to keep standing, which made it hard to pay attention to the readings. Fortunately, the intermission allowed me to escape to the stairs outside the reading room, where it turned out I could sit comfortably and had a clear view of the reader over everyone else's heads and could hear reasonably well when the reader used a mic. Sadly, Delany didn't use the mic much, and by the time he was reading there was a fairly loud rehearsal going on upstairs, so I couldn't hear as much of his reading as clearly as I'd have liked.

(Btw, it appears that Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind is still (again?) running in NYC, in the theatre downstairs from KGB. Cool!)

But the best part of the KGB evening was after the readings, when much of the crowd adjourned to a nearby Chinese restaurant. I sat at the table with Matt K and Ellen D (the KGB organizers) and Tempest and Mary H and Lilah W and Amy L and Rick B and Cat R and Kris D (those last two being two of the readers) and a couple other people whose names I missed, and various others (including Rajan K (who'd guest-organized that particular set of readings) and Mary K) stopped by the table to say hi. Afterward, we all went to get dessert at the dessert truck, and we stood around on the sidewalk talking and watching the feral mice running in and out of an abandoned Starbucks, and it really did feel kind of like a miniature convention.

Anyway, thanks much to the organizers and the readers, and good to meet those of the attendees I hadn't met before, and to see those I had.

Thursday evening I hung out by myself at the hotel; there were a couple of locals I'd have liked to have seen (though most of my local friends were out of town that week), but I really needed downtime. Sorry to have missed those of you I missed!

Friday I had lunch with Shmuel, then met Catherine O near Penn Station and chatted with her for a while before hopping on a train to Philadelphia. Rented a car, met up with Annie and Tivi, had dinner, hung out with Jim M for a while.

Stayed in the new Best Western Widener, a ten-minute drive from the Swarthmore campus, straight out along 320. I liked it quite a bit—comfortable, friendly, fridge (but no microwave) in room, spacious rooms, a 7-Eleven next door. Far far nicer than the other two hotel-like places I've stayed near Swarthmore (Media Inn and the Howard Johnson Springfield).

Saturday, more of the same. Roundsing that afternoon was sadly underattended—only five grownups, plus Tivi—but good anyway. I love the acoustics of the belltower; it makes my voice sound so much better! Jim suggested that I install big stone blocks in my new living room ceiling. Tempting.

Saturday evening, Jim hosted a games party. It turned out to be board games instead of parlor games, and there were something like 20 people there, and I didn't know most of them, and I kind of melted down for a while; socially overwhelmed and exhausted. But I chatted with Kam on the phone in the hallway for a bit, then came back in and played a couple games of Dominion, which was more fun than I had remembered. But I still don't really get what the fuss is about; I like lots of other games much better.

One of the two natural phenomena that I really miss about the East Coast is the fireflies. (The other is the leaves turning.) For the past several years, I haven't managed to see any on any of my visits out there. It's always the wrong time of year, or the wrong time of day, or I forget to look. So this time I wanted to make sure I saw some. But at Rob's place the previous weekend, I had been doing computer stuff inside during the period when they were active; I came outside just after they stopped. Disappointing.

So I decided to make sure to see them this past Saturday, since it was my last night on that coast.

The sun had set at 8:30, around the time our first game of Dominion ended, and I had been going to go see fireflies then, but various people told me it was too early. So I played another game of Dominion, then headed out with Annie to see if we could find some fireflies. It was maybe 9:30 by then, so I was worried that I might've missed them.

Our first stop was Parrish lawn, where I think I remember seeing hundreds of them on summer nights long ago, but there was no sign of any.

I was sad, but Annie suggested Crum Woods. We walked down to the field house, then out along the path, and saw maybe two dozen individual fireflies at various points along the very dark path through the woods. There were none in the meadow, but there were half a dozen at scattered points around the perimeter. We stood by Crumhenge for a while and watched the lights blinking on and off, 'til a small group of other people showed up to have a bonfire; then we went back to Jim's and played Name Game for a couple hours with the half-dozen people who hadn't gone home.

So, not as many fireflies as I'd hoped for, but at least there were some. Maybe next time I'll go out a little before sunset and just sit watching Parrish lawn for an hour or two until they show up.

Sunday was kind of a blur. I hadn't had enough sleep, and I needed to get some magazine work done. Looked for a public library, to get air conditioning and Internet, but it turns out every public library anywhere near Swat is closed on Sundays in the summer. Sadness! So I found a Starbucks right near the Media Inn, and worked there for an hour or two. Btw, Google Maps is wrong about the location of the Motel Providence; it's actually right near the Media Inn.

Then had lunch with Annie and Tivi, and headed for the airport. Flight home was uneventful, and Kam picked me up at the airport.

The week so far has also been largely uneventful, except for a certain birth (see next entry), and today's Shakespeare Santa Cruz trip, which had also better go in a separate entry 'cause this one's already way too long.


I think Dominion is so interesting because of the deckbuilding mechanic, which is unique in my experience. The flexibility of different cards being available each game is also neat, but not at all uncommon, and is mostly just good for replay value.

This is depressing, but apparently there are many reports (though not yet a scientific determination) that there are fewer fireflies than there used to be, in many areas. We certainly get fireflies in the yard here in Connecticut, but indeed not as many as I remember from years ago.


Josh: Good point; the deckbuilding thing is pretty neat. But I think for me it's not as interesting as the use-cards-for-currency-and-actions thing done by San Juan and Race for the Galaxy. (Which I don't love, but I do think have interesting and unusual mechanics.) (But then again, I'm not immersed enough in the world of gaming to really know what's unusual.)

Jacob: I hadn't heard about that; very sad if it turns out to be true. I would guess that a lot of people's memories of how many fireflies there were in their youth are exaggerated, but even so, it does sound like there may be a problem.

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