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Started: 2003-11-26 18:56:43

Submitted: 2003-11-26 20:58:23

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Monday evening Willy dropped by to capture video for his music video assignment for video production class so he could work on it over Thanksgiving break using the video editing software he found on Bethany's computer. Capturing the video was a no-brainer; Gem and I left him to capture while we visited Louisville's library. I picked up two books that might be interesting; Gem picked up a handful. Back at home, Willy finished capturing the video and I tried to figure out what I needed to do to compress it into some brilliant format for Willy to sneakernet back home. After a few minutes of contemplation, I decided to divx-encode the video, which worked fairly well, except that it took entirely too much time to actually encode. Mom and Bethany dropped Willy off and returned after a while. Sitting around and talking for a while wasn't long enough to let the video encode, so Gem gave Mom her apartment keys and I promised to leave the burned cds on the corner of the dining room table for easy pickup Tuesday morning.

Tuesday morning (which would be yesterday), I woke up right around 0800 (nice and late for a week-day morning, but it was the beginning of my vacation) and discovered, to my great horror, that my ogg-reencoding process from the previous night had failed in some mysterious way; apparently oggdec decided it didn't want to output wav files like it had in the past. This threatened to thwart my attempts to listen to more music on my iPod. I quickly prioritized the music I wanted to listen to, reencoded one recently-ripped album, uploaded it to my iPod, and all was happy.

Gem and I left at 0907, tossed my large suitcase (packed with both of our stuff) into Yoda, and headed down to take the newly-opened Northwest Parkway along the northern fringe of the Denver metro area to DIA. We stopped twice to pay US$3.50 in toll total (the newly-opened stretch was free for the first two weeks) and made it to DIA shuttle parking at 0945. The shuttle showed up in six minutes and took us to the terminal. We checked in after a fast-moving queue, walked to bridge to Concourse A, and braved the slightly longer security queue.

Upon passing through security, we had two hours before our flight departed at 1220. We wandered Concourse A, took the train to Concourse B, and eventually returned to gate A36 when my backpack started to get heavy. Our Airbus A-319 (with a fox painted on the tail) eventually arrived. We were on the third-to-last row, in seats 20E and 20F, with a great view of the tiny fox painted on the vertical fin sticking up from the wingtip. I glued my nose to the tiny window as we taxied and took off. The Direct TV on the LCDs on the seat backs was a nice touch, but the channel selection didn't speak to me. (I would have paid the US$5 to watch SciFi, or maybe one or two others.) I listened to my iPod and read The Scar, by China Miéville, reviewed on Slashdot recently. I picked it up at the library not long after reading the review and thought it was greatly entertaining.

On our descent into Portland, we broke through the clouds and experienced some turbulence, the only we had on our two hour, twenty minute flight. I was fascinated by the scale of the clouds, towering high above and below the plane. Halfway through the clouds, lightning struck not far from the wingtip with a loud crack. (It looked to me like the lightning ended at the wingtip, as if the wingtip itself had been hit, but the captain came on the intercom when we landed saying lightning had merely struck nearby.) We broke through the clouds above Troutdale, the easternmost suburb of Portland, and landed to the west, along the Columbia.

Upon rendezvousing with Gem's mother and picking up our suitcase, we headed to the Olive Garden for a late lunch and then to Powell's City of Books. I wandered through the sci-fi, found a few signed books (some of which tempted me) and ended up buying a mass-market paperback Perdido Street Station, also by China Miéville, and a trade paperback The Cuckoo's Egg, by Cliff Stoll, which I checked out from Boulder Public Library and read a dozen times during my teenage years.

When we reached the Stone Estate last night, I took my GPS out onto the lawn, performed the signal-acquisition ritual, waving it at the sky, and determined my coordinates: 46°10.231' N, 122°55.344' W.

This morning, Gem, her mother, and I headed to Rose Valley School, an elementary school outside Kelso where her old teacher Mr. Wilson is the librarian. We got a little tour of the school and learned the major issue he faces: entering books into the system, cataloging them as necessary. It's easy enough to enter one book, but dozens of books take a while.

Tristan showed up this evening, and his girlfriend Jessica is supposed to show up sometime on Friday. (Astute followers of the life of my brother-in-law will recall that he was dating Jessica back when Gem and I got married, but they broke up not long thereafter, only to get back together not all that long ago.) He's fascinated by my iPod, just one of the many toys I brought with me.