The theory of relativity

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I’ve long been fascinated by Einstein’s Theory of Relativity; the concept of curved space and our galaxy being a marble flowing down and around holes punched into the void via black holes and other objects we probably haven’t even imagined yet.

Most particularly the concept of gravity and speed and their effect on time: imagine it, that you could go fast enough to have time slow until it seems to stop; or until you flatten into goo–no one knows the absolute truth.

I’ll be able to see the Theory of Relativity in action this weekend. According to the train schedule, the Empire Builder always leaves Chicago around 2 in the afternoon and gets into Sandpoint around midnight. However, Sunday morning Daylight Savings Time ends, which means we’ll turn back the clock. But the train still gets into Sandpoint at the exact same time.

I’m trying to figure out what aspect of physics is in play. Do we slow down so that time can pass us by? Or at the dot of 2 in the morning, does the train stop so that time can catch up?

Questions of time aside, I’ve decided not to get any kind of internect connection on the trip, but will instead explore my old town, the new parks, and catch up on my reading when I’m not helping my Mom. When I get back, I’ll be starting a new job: working for Broadband Mechanics with Marc Canter.


Travel confirmed

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I take the train to Sandpoint this weekend. I’ll be there at least two weeks, possibly a month, maybe even two. I’m trying to work through internet connectivity, but not sure if I’ll be able to get broadband. All the providers insist on year long contracts, so it’s hard to get month to month. It’s hard to get month-to-month just for modem nowadays.

This week I’m trying to get some odds and ends finished, including the code I’ve been working on, the tutorial, and finishing up any remaining work tasks. I’m a bit distracted though,

Right now I’m trying to figure out how I can pack two laptops, a camera, two extra lenses, a couple of books, and enough clothes (not to mention hiking and regular shoes) into two carry-on bags 28 x 22 x 14, and one personal laptop/purse type bag. Tomorrow I’m hitting the store for the Space Saver bags — squish out the bulk.


Why American businesses are dying

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

A favorite mode of transport for skiers is to take a train to and from their ski destinations. Sandpoint, Idaho–a popular ski resort–does have a train stop but not a train station. As such it has no baggage checking facilities, which means that if you travel to and from Sandpoint you’re restricted to two carry-on bags and your purse and/or laptop or briefcase.

Doesn’t matter if you’re skiing and have skis. Doesn’t matter if you’re taking the train all the way to Florida for a two week holiday. No, Amtrak does not have baggage checking facilities at their stop at Sandpoint, so you have to restrict your baggage for your entire journey because of it.

Perhaps they’ve outsourced their baggage handling to Indonesia, as a way of plumping up their quarterly revenue. I’ve heard that they’re outsourcing the entire province of British Columbia, which is only about 50 miles away. Maybe it’s a northwest thing.

Come to think of it, with software job loss at 20 percent for 2003-2004 alone, maybe I can get a job checking baggage.


New travel plans

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Fall came today. I don’t need the calendar or even the cool weather to tell. When I start to cocoon, I know it’s Fall; when a hot shower feels really good, I know it’s Fall; when I get the urge to make an apple pie, I know it’s Fall; when I like to wear a flannel shirt and cuddle in my chair with all the lights on at 5pm, watching quirky new movies or old science fiction, I know it’s Fall–and it’s not the two margaritas I’ve had tonight talking.

Isn’t it odd how things work out. All the ifs and doubts about traveling leaving things uncertain, and it looks like I may be traveling after all. Monday I’ll find out if I need to head to Sandpoint, Idaho next week; it’s most likely. The trip is for a family matter, not a conference, but I can fake it: create a wiki, start using a lot of superlatives, and find three hundred white dweeby guys to invite. You know, the usual.

If I do go, I’ll be gone for at least a few weeks–perhaps longer. I’ll try to get a connection, and I may be able to get a DSL off my Mom’s Dish, but chances are it will be a modem. I’d do without, but I have existing, as well as new, work. Besides, how else will I post photos of Sandpoint if I don’t have a connection?

Sandpoint is a beautiful, rustic, western town, nestled in the mountains of Idaho, and having a world class ski resort. This time of year is when the town really starts hopping, so one could say that I’m one of the hip and beautiful people for being in Sandpoint in ski season; however, I’ll most likely be driving my Mom’s old Honda, wearing well worn clothes, and little or no jewelry or makeup. Of course, being environmentally sound is the new ‘cool’ thing now, so perhaps I can fake this, too.

Well, except that I’ve never been one of the beautiful people, and it takes one to know one. I’m a small town girl who has traveled around a lot but have never been able to knock the edges off. I’m well read, but not necessarily well lived. I’ve never once spent more than 80.00 for a pair of shoes, and these were for hiking boots that were on sale. I still get hurt by believing people–now that might be the two margaritas talking.

Taking a train, too, to Sandpoint; to sit for 36 hours and read or look out the window, as it flows from St. Louis to Chicago, through Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana, before arriving at Sandpoint. Long enough to be an adventure; not so long as to be tedious.

I hope to get some of the code I’m working on finished this weekend, first, so you can try it out as I’m traveling. As such, things may or may not break at times in these here parts (see, I’m already getting in a Western frame of mind). However, it’s the weekend, and weblogging goes into a slump that is only woken by photos of very cute little kittens; as such you most likely won’t notice.

I’ve also downloaded and tried the Flock Browser. Contrary to the *jaded pundits, I thought it was rather fun to play with. I’ve even posted to the Plugins weblog with it. But enough with fun–I have code to write; fueled by two margaritas, it might even do something I don’t expect. Like now, when I save this…

…update, and it worked out of the box. Damn, I’m good.

*Though I rather liked the Skype comment by Mark Evans

Places Travel


I thought I would point you to several photos being uploaded to Weather Underground, here and here now associated with search and rescue in New Orleans as well as the coast of Mississippi.

One of the photos shows Gulfport, or what was left of the town. When I drove to Florida this last spring, I had planned on staying in Biloxi, but it was Saturday night and most places were filled with gamblers. Instead, I ended up staying in Gulfport.

I had also planned on exploring a bit that night–checking out Long Beach and maybe the Lighthouse at Biloxi. However, it took so long to find a place, it was too late to explore. I found out that the Lighthouse is still there. Biloxi is gone, but the Lighthouse is still there. I have a chance still to see it, and the 450 year old Friendship Oak. It only lost a few branches. And I just found in a message board that Mary Mahoney’s, the oldest operating hotel in the States is still standing, too.

The next morning on my trip, I thought about stopping in Beauvoir, Confederate President Jefferson Davis final home. I decided against it, though, because I’d have to wait a few hours for it to open. I figured I would plan a trip down to the Gulf Coast specifically and catch all the places then when I had time to devote to each.

Instead, I stopped by a MacDonald’s and bought a breakfast biscuit (yes, I’m bad–but I love the MickeyD’s breakfast biscuits) from a wonderfully charming young black woman, and went to a rest area and watched the dawn over Mobile. The city of Mobile is still there, but Beauvoir is gone. All that’s left is a bit of floor, some frame, and a few bricks. There’s a note on the website about keeping people updated about the upcoming Hurricane Katrina. In the note that opens, it still has coverage of Camille. Why update a site that no longer has any meaning?

On the way down, I bypassed New Orleans — I didn’t want to deal with the traffic. I remember my first trip there several years ago. I was giving a day long tutorial at a conference, and went down by myself. I caught one of those shared ride vans from the airport, and during the trip, mentioned I hadn’t been in the city before. Before dropping me off at my hotel, the driver drove through the French Quarter and showed me places I needed to make sure to visit before going home. Then when he dropped me off at the hotel, he looked into my eyes, his dark brown and very intense, and warned that I was not to visit these places by myself at night. I said I wouldn’t.

The next day I spent teaching class, but I had several hours the next day before my plane took off and visited the French Quarter and the Saint Louis Cathedral. The Cathedral is the oldest in the country–built in 1720, before this country was even born. It also has a fascinating history. From Frommer’s:

The cathedral formed the center of the original settlement, and it is still the major landmark of the French Quarter. This is the third building to stand on this spot. A hurricane destroyed the first in 1722. On Good Friday 1788, the bells of its replacement were kept silent for religious reasons rather than ringing out the alarm for a fire — which eventually went out of control and burned down more than 850 buildings, including the cathedral itself.

I’m sorry and this is terrible, but I laughed out loud when I read about the bells kept quiet and the church burning. I’m sorry. I know I will burn in hell for my humor.

The building now standing was built in 1794, and though the outside is supposed to be ‘okay’ as Frommer’s would say, the church is not known for it’s outstanding interior. I had read this before going down, and so only visited the exterior. I tried to find photos of the interior tonight, but the web site doesn’t load. Of course it doesn’t. I don’t know what I was thinking.

I have a refigerator magnet from Bourban Street in the French Quarter from my trip. Me and my beloved refrigerator magnets. I picked up a couple in New Orleans, and this is the one I had given the roomie. When I sold all my stuff that was in storage in California a couple of years ago, my collection of magnets was in one of the boxes. I had hoped the person who bought it would send me the collection, but I imagine it ended up on eBay. My roomie has ‘loaned’ me his collection. Nice of him — gives me a little of my history back.

I think roomie was hoping that the nice, clean, new french doors would remain clean and pristine. No, no — dotted all over with magnets, now. Some wonderfully cheesy. One of my favorites is a little minerature mug of beer that sticks out. Another is Betty Boop and Route 66. Then there’s the painted shell from Florida, and the car from Wall Drug. Perfect.