May 29th, 2008

running, bomb tech

In Search of Science Fiction

So after an amazingly not-so-frantic night of mostly packing in between goofing off and some desultory cleaning up, I got three hours of sleep before being towed to the airport by myrrhianna. I was a little afraid of being late, but I cleared baggage checking and security in not quite record time, delayed by a few too many people needing too much help at once, including a cursing man, and then forgetting to unclip the keys from my waistband, after having been so careful about divesting myself of cellphone and even necklace.

That mild embarrassment over, I double-timed it to my gate, where I sat down and waited with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. They were asking for volunteers to take the next flight, as this one was overcrowded. I called Guide Dog Aunt to see if she'd be up for picking me up a little later, because I could use a free flight, but she wasn't in. Slightly before boarding was due to begin, they announced that the service crew had found "a maintenance issue". I called Guide Dog Aunt and left another message about that, once it proved to be a little more time-consuming than they'd thought. When we started boarding an hour later, I left another message (but didn't get to finish my frappucino).

I'd asked for an aisle seat. Airline seats are small, I am not small, and it is best for everyone if I do not attempt to get my elbows in my seatmates' business. So naturally, my aisle seat (17C) was being sat in by the elderly wife of the elderly gentleman in 17B. As the plane was late, there were people behind, and communications were limited, I took her seat, 17E. The discerning may note that this, in a 6-seat-wide jet, is a middle seat. A short comedy act involving me, my two neighbors, assorted baggage, and the sonofabitch seatbelt ensued, but all was settled for the duration of the flight after that.

What was either some piece of machinery acting up or a barking dog started making regular and very loud noise from the baggage compartment below, practically right below my feet, as soon as we started to taxi out. This interfered with my enjoyment of the flight safety instruction video, always a top hit entertainment choice. The pilot had said that the problem was a dodgy fuel valve, which had been replaced, so I was a little nervous, even though I don't recall fuel valves barking. Fortunately, whatever it was quieted around the same time we hit the air.

The lady next to me doesn't like takeoffs or landings. At least, I figured that's what is meant by it when she clutches her rosary, crosses herself, and whispers something inaudible. I could be wrong. They could be the same sort of religious experience for her that they are for me. I take joy in leaving the ground. As the divine is symbolized in part to me by the natural elements, I give each their respect when entering their domain. Air is one of my elements, and I feel quite literally uplifted when flying, especially on ascent. It had been too long since my last flight.

I mostly read. I had brought A College of Magic with me, and given the advanced years of the little old lady next to me, I figured this was a better choice than the adventures of one drug-addled gonzo journalist, even though I did have only a few pages left. I get so little quality reading time these days that the short flight zipped past, just as the hour of waiting had.

They let us turn on our cellphones as soon as we'd come to a reasonable halt after touching down, and an asynchronous dischord was heard throughout the cabin, the bootup tones of a hundred different cellphones. I was in the middle of composing a broad-blast tweet (Twitter, LJ, Myrrh, Dawn) when my phone rang. It was Guide Dog Aunt, wanting to know what baggage carousel I'd be at. Excellent timing! (I later heard she'd had to call Spintherism (no LJ) to look up that the flight was late. Hooray for technology.)

I found Guide Dog Aunt at the prescribed baggage carousel, by her haircut as the light was blasting through the window as I descended to baggage pickup level. We got my bags, and we headed off, only slightly foiled by the confusing parking garage. Hooray for San Francisco!
running, bomb tech

Plywood Plane

After arriving at Guide Dog Aunt's place and going through the formalities of seeing the dogs, being barked at by the dogs, hauling in groceries and saving them from the dogs, and shooing the dogs the hell outside, Guide Dog Aunt proposed some light entertainment: go to Home Depot and pick up supplies for making a Doggy Wall (a barrier to keep Bad Doggies on one side of, and Good Doggies on the other, to be jammed in a corridor baby-gate style) for her workplace!

After about half an hour in the garage looking at the prototype and deciding what needed to happen in the production Doggy Wall, it was time to head out. So we did. And we spent a cheerful while gossiping, hefting plywood to load it on the cart, selecting only the finest 2x4s, and enlisting the help of a bemused salesman to find the inexactly-described hardware needed, for something that I have every faith will be a "pest project" in the fine tradition of Mama's pest projects. (Dad calls them "pest projects" instead of "pet projects", because he finds it more accurate and also more amusing.) Mama's philosophy is to measure once or so, and then cut, and then maybe trim a little if needed. Mama is not destined to be one of the world's carpentry greats.

Guide Dog Aunt had brought a length of rope and a lot of enthusiasm to get the plywood tied to the SUV. First we situated the 2x4s, which was relatively easy, even though she'd brought three left gloves and only one right. (But Clan Fayoumis does not need gloves!) Then we got the plywood up on top, which was a little less easy but a lot more straightforward (only one way to put it, and that's up, versus the number of angles tried with the 2x4s), albeit punctuated by my scanty and potentially inaccurate knowledge of Arabic, which is limited to what is possibly the word for "screwdriver", which is what I said as the cart with the one remaining sheet of plywood tried to run away across the hilly parking lot into some other cars. (I caught it.)

Guide Dog Aunt then tied the plywood to the roof rack, which was a more involved process than it sounds, given that she didn't remember how it was properly done, and fussed around with it for a while before I reminded her what time it was (there was a thing she needed to go to with one of the dogs) and she tied it on fast and sloppy and hoped for the best.

Flat things on moving vehicles provide a certain amount of lift. "Can you watch it to make sure it doesn't fly off?" she asked, and opened up the sun roof. In the way these things happen, I found myself with my left arm twisted up and out through the sun roof, clinging to the sketchily tied-down plywood as my aunt glared at the navigation system and told it that she wasn't taking any freeways, thanks. A glove joined my efforts. A stoplight or two later, my brain kicked in, and I unrolled the actual window, and stuck my right arm out to grasp the plywood. I switched arms every now and then, much to everyone's amusement.

Some guy pulled up alongside us in the right turn lane and cheerfully advised me that by the time I got home, I would be strong enough to hold up the entire house, based on my grab on the plywood. My aunt and I cracked up laughing. By this time, she'd retrieved gloves enough for us all, and was holding down her side of the plywood out her own window with her left hand, making for one-handed driving on her part. I told her the cautionary tale of Mr. Out and his cellphone; she did not attempt to drive with her knees.

At least two police cars were going the other direction, close enough to home. I started laughing harder. We didn't get pulled over, although we'd been attracting all kinds of funny looks from our fellow motorists.

Unloading was a breeze compared to loading. Guide Dog Aunt just had to untie all the knots she'd tied. She wondered why the rope was so dirty; I pointed out she'd been grubbing it around on that dirty parking lot. Guide Dog Uncle made an appearance, and was not visibly impressed by his wife's explanation of either the materials or the project.

She did get to the dog event reasonably on time, so all went well there. We have yet to construct the thing, as I was dead tired from only three hours of sleep. I imagine that will also provide hours of entertainment.
running, bomb tech

Awesome Day

In place of a full writeup of the awesome day I just had, because Tuesday was a two-parter, I shall summarize for now.

Met up with JD and Lacey, hugs all around. Walked to LJ Central, were collected by janinedog and henrylyne, walked to South Park via the tree-huggers and the tree that really needed a hug (street tree tipping over), collected other people including tupshin, got lunch, had lunch and chatted a lot, walked back to LJ Central, did not see any orange shirts, walked to a Muni train station, waited for and then caught a train that featured chattering teenage girls, debarked at Castro, wandered up and down Castro a bit, collected a rainbow disco ball for JD, gelato for us all, and books!! My knees having started to give out, we all went our separate ways.

I took the Muni train to where JD said there was a BART station. Unfortunately, the place I got off was not the most BART-y looking location, and I compounded the problem by walking in the wrong direction, based on some rather logical but wrong guesses. A quick call to amberfox repaired the situation, and I was soon emBARTed, although not before running into an unsavory character in the station. The Information Man, who is homeless, is more savory than that dude, or at least has better social. Just sayin'. I enjoyed BART quite happily, and disembarked at the correct station. Guide Dog Aunt picked me up.

My knees were being a pain in the, well, knee, so at length I was situated with frozen peas on them. This caused amusement in IRC.

I shall leave you with an amusement, NSFW, found by one or more of my esteemed colleagues: Spanky! Spanky!
running, bomb tech

I did approximately nothing today, save for about an hour of hammering on the book. -- this cake looks good and has not got flour.

If you haven't already, please go vote in the lj_election_en election; there's about an hour left at this point. legomymalfoy got a death threat. This upsets me. I'm sure that proper channels are being followed to deal with this, and it had better be some random kook stirred up by all this mess, but omgwtf.

To lighten the mood and bring the sanity level back near something OK:
running, bomb tech

Real Vacation

Today, I slept to a sufficiently luxurious hour, woke up, discovered the sauna setting in the shower, poked at the computer, had some tea, went back to bed with a book and took a nice solid nap, poked at the computer some more and actually got maybe an hour of work done on the novel, had supper, went for a short walk down (and then back up!!) a long hill, watched the director's commentary on The Dewey Cox Story (we watched the movie last night), and made some plans for tomorrow's adventures.