(This page last modified 13 October 1996.)

Wanderjahr: Week 8

Locations: Mountain View, CA; Albuquerque, NM
Dates: 10/6/96 - 10/12/96

This week I went to two tenth-year high school reunions. One group of people had planned an informal picnic-in-the-park reunion, while someone else had contracted with a reunion company for a semi-formal ("business casual") dinner. They agreed to have both the same weekend, which was convenient for me...

The dinner, run by a reunion company called Class Encounters, was on Saturday night. I was nervous; I was sure there'd be almost nobody there I knew, and was half-expecting to have a miserable time. So why'd I go? Well, I missed my fifth-year reunion, and Rob suggested that there'll always be at least one person you didn't know you wanted to see (which turned out to be true here), and I'd looked through my yearbook and determined that there were maybe 15 people I did know I wanted to see and had lost touch with, so I figured the odds were decent (in a 400-person class) that one or more of those 15 would be present. Besides, various friends told me I would probably have a good time.

As it turned out, I did. The company that ran Saturday's reunion made one mistake after another and was generally tacky: played loud '80s music that almost nobody liked, kept turning down the lights in the room, didn't actually have one of the entree choices they'd offered, hadn't bothered to find out that our class was one of the most apathetic classes available in terms of class spirit and such. But it was nice to see the people again. Wished I hadn't left my camera in my car... Saw a couple of people who recognized me but whom I didn't recognize 'til I surreptitiously read their nametags; also a couple of people whom I recognized but who had no idea who I was. Got email addresses for lots of folx, even some I didn't expect to have email (guess that's what comes of growing up in Palo Alto), and found out about the Paly alums Web page. Saw a couple people I'd had crushes on in hs and a couple more I would've had crushes on if I'd had any sense. Saw a couple of the 15 I'd particularly wanted to see, but not many. Encountered a couple of small-world synchronicities (specifically, having mutual friends/acquaintances through completely different routes). Noticed that most of those I knew there I'd known through theatre, which reminded me that I haven't worked a show in years... Found out what various folx are up to, much of it way cool.

Eventually left the reunion around 11 or 11:30, expecting that Sunday's would be bigger (since almost everyone I talked to said they'd be there, and I knew there were several people who weren't there Saturday but were going to be there Sunday). Stopped by the dregs of a story reading and talked with friends for a couple hours, then went home. Too keyed up to sleep at first; read some comics, went back through yearbook, finally went to sleep.

On Sunday, the picnic turned out to be much smaller than I'd expected, but was fun anyway. All my nervousness had evaporated, partly 'cause it was a more casual event and partly 'cause I'd gotten through the hard part the night before. Hung out with mostly the same people as the previous night, plus five or six who hadn't been there the night before. Took some pictures, and left my yearbook lying around; I gather people liked the chance to look through it. (I got the idea from someone else who'd brought one the night before.)

Someone asked me after the reunion, "Were all the people you hated in high school fat now?" I had to say there really weren't many people I hated in high school; I was one of those weirdos who actually enjoyed high school most of the time. Anyway, most of the people I saw hadn't changed all that much; I mean, yeah, it's been ten years, everyone had grown up some and nobody looked exactly as they did then, but there weren't many really radical physical changes.

I was surprised that people's romantic lives weren't subjects of discussion. Nobody asked me (or others I checked with) if I was involved with anyone, and I didn't know about several relationships and even a kid or two until well into various conversations. I had expected that almost everyone would be married, but not many of those I talked to were (or else they just weren't talking about it). Odd, but I actually found it kinda refreshing that this just wasn't an issue.

Summary: Well worth going; wish more people had shown up.

Monday I ran errands: got film developed, picked up mail, bought portable dictionary and encyclopedia (at Printer's Inc., not Borders). My missing mail from a couple weeks back finally showed up at Mail 'n' Motion in Mountain View (who forward my mail to me); they'd made a mistake in addressing it. I hasten to add, though, that they were great throughout the whole process, and I still wholeheartedly endorse them. Wonderful people, and this is the only even remotely negative thing that's happened during my association with them, and even this came out fine in the end. If you have any mail needs in Mtn. View, don't go to a faceless chain with obnoxious employees like Mailboxes Etc.; go to Mail 'n' Motion, on Grant Road. This has been an unsolicited plug.

Was upset to learn, at my optometrist's office, that there's nothing to be done about my clip-on shades, which despite being made specifically to fit my frames are a slightly different shape. Argh. A fiasco from start to finish; I won't go into detail here.

Arthur got home from Europe Monday night, but unfortunately he was jetlagged and had a cold, so we didn't get to talk nearly enough before I left town again.

Had a marvelous homemade dinner on Monday with various folks, saw Gerry's cool holograms. Late that night, I modified all my sgi.com Web pages to point to the correct places on kith.org.

On Tuesday, we had brunch at Hobee's, my favorite brunch place; then I went in to SGI and saw lots of folks, a kinda haphazard collection based on who I could find in their cubes when I happened to go by. Was really nice to see folks; I already miss all the friends left behind in the Bay Area. I guess I should realize that wherever I am I'm going to miss friends elsewhere... Sigh. I also miss the computing power and network speed, but I don't miss the job itself just yet.

Josie gave me a few copies of the VRML book. I spent some time nitpicking at various problems with it, but really I'm completely thrilled. The book looks good; it looks thinner than I expected (though still fairly hefty at 400+ pages), but substantive. I looked at four or five other books that claim to be about VRML 2.0. Found that one of them is almost a verbatim reprint of the SGI spec site as of April, including a bunch of stuff left over from the spec proposal we wrote in January (I commented, "Hey! I wrote this sentence!"); another covers almost everything about modern 3D graphics except VRML 2.0; another is simply a survey of available browsers. There's one decent-looking one out there besides ours: the one with Laura Lemay's name in big letters on the front cover (even though apparently she did not in fact write any of it). But the layout is cluttered, the info is slightly outdated (ours is based on the absolute final 2.0 spec), and the emphasis is on how to use specific authoring tools. So I think when ours hits bookstore shelves, sometime in the next week or two, it should go over well.

Wednesday, flew back to Albuquerque. (I'm leaving out the list of who I saw where and when in the Bay Area, since I'd be sure to leave some people out; suffice it to say I had a great time and wish I could've stayed longer without jeopardizing my chances of getting to Boston before the leaves finish turning.) The flight was uneventful, which I consider a good attribute in a flight.

Spent Wednesday evening through Friday mostly dealing with email and working on my Web pages. Finally released Web-page info to 100+ individuals plus two mailing lists. On Thursday, the site got over 750 http requests (a request can fetch a document or an image, so for instance the green bullet on my home page requires a separate fetch); the average number of hits per day before that (since kith.org first went online) was about 11, with most of those being me testing various things. I'm pleased to see (from quick skimming of the logs) that some folks are spending up to half an hour perusing my pages; glad there's enough here to keep people's interest. (Btw, for those concerned about privacy, I only get the IP address of the site you connect from; if I want to find out the actual site, I have to track down the name associated with the address, and there's no way to determine the individual user who made the request.) Friday was slower, down to a little under 200. A few people have sent corrections and additions, which I've been slowly incorporating -- thanks much for the comments! I hope really soon to inaugurate my Words 'n' Stuff weekly Web column, which I hope should attract a steady readership. And of course I'll keep updating my travelogue as I keep moving.

After a series of misadventures, I finally decided Saturday morning to purchase my own copy of FrameMaker for the Mac (I've been using SGI's copy, with their permission, but it self-destructed recently); it's ridiculously expensive, but it's the only software I know of that can do everything I want in a word processor. I discovered that, among its other faults, Albuquerque boasts two major computer stores which aren't open on weekends... Sigh. Ended up mail-ordering it from MacZone, but it won't arrive 'til Monday. Spent most of the rest of Saturday hanging out and writing for SWAPA; also, Rob and I worked out an outline for another screenplay, but further work on that will have to wait 'til the previous one is in better shape.

I began making actual travel plans for the next leg of the trip, but since I haven't worked out details yet I think I won't be leaving for another couple of days.

Movies, Books, etc.

Mighty Aphrodite
The parts involving the Greek Chorus were marvelous and funny; the parts involving Woody Allen were mostly boring. Helena Bonham Carter does a great American accent.
A Walk in Wolf Wood, Mary Stewart
Fairly good children's book, but nothing really exciting.
Blind Voices, Tom Reamy
Reamy's only novel; pretty good, once you get through the parts that sound too much like Something Wicked This Way Comes. Not as powerful as some of Reamy's short stories, though.
Devil in a Blue Dress
Quite good; a cross between The Big Sleep and Chinatown, only with way more black characters (and way more very interesting minor characters). Fairly violent, but that's part of the noir genre.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Marvelous and moving; very dark and scary in some places, superb colors and of course animation, snappy dialogue, good songs by Menken and Schwartz. If only Disney were willing to make adult movies, this could've been perfect; the weakest parts were the parts that catered to kids (like the gargoyle sidekicks).
If You Can't Live Without Me, Why Aren't You Dead Yet?, Cynthia Heimel
Delightful collection of Heimel's columns on gender roles, writing, parenthood, and life. Heimel is witty, thought-provoking, and aware of stereotypes, and doesn't claim to have all the answers.
Cry the Beloved Country
Spectacular landscapes, but disappointing over all. Would rather hear James Earl Jones read the book (which I love) aloud.

Jed Hartman <logos@kith.org>