Let me give you a quick update on what has happened since I saw any of you last in Pittsburgh. The morning of my departure, I hauled a whole carload cardboard over to recycling and another carload over to Goodwill. Kevin thought he was coming over to pick up the housekey but ended up helping me with the last bit of hauling (and sweating). My thanks go out to him and to all of the gang that packed the truck with me the night before.
At 11:30 I parked over by the Squirrel Hill library and saw the new SureLogic offices located above Uncle Sams Subs. No visit would be complete without a visit to Uncle Sams, so we dispatched with that too. At 12:30 I returned to my car to find that some generous soul had taken it upon himself to help me haul away my suitcase and laptop bag, which I had left locked in the car. This was not a serious obstacle for him as he came prepared to break the rear window. After chatting with the police, I searched the area in case the crooks had stashed the stuff they couldn't sell for crack into nearby bushes. Along the way I met nice folks including Alan Newell's widow who lives a few doors away.
At 3:00, surprisingly chipper, I headed out on my trek for William's house in Chicago. The day was sunny and not too hot so I simply rolled down the remaining three windows. At 4:30 I glanced down to see the "idiot light" all lit up on my dashboard. After a few minutes of confusion, I decided my alternator wasn't working and got directions to an auto parts store from the tollboth guy. The little town outside of Youngstown Ohio (itself a pretty little town) had a couple polite and sympathetic older gents working and suggested I take a look to see if indeed my alternator belt was still there -- and it was not. Presumably it's now alongside the road somewhere. They pointed me at a small mechanic's shop a mile away and they were able to put it back on. Nobody was getting their car fixed that day and I'm not even sure more than a dozen cars passed on the road during the half hour I was getting the belt fixed. Slightly delayed again, I was on the road and made my way to Munster IN later that evening.
William gave me a beer, Christy gave me a hug, and the rugrats ran around giddy. Then we piled in the car to go get passport pictures. You see, while I was driving, William and Christy were busy mitigating the damage of the breakin. William had arranged a meeting at the passport office downtown Chicago the next day, since the thief had made away not only with my laptop and bag, but also my passport, eyeglasses, toiletries, running shoes, t-shirts, checkbook, you-name-it if you need it at the last minute. And I was departing for Toronto (you need a passport for that now, eh) for a work trip as soon as it arrived in Colorado. So we scooped up $50 in toiletries and passport photos and headed back. Christy had called around and had quotes to fix my window.
But the window was not to be fixed. Neither place was able to locate a replacement window in the US, though they could fly one in from an Audi dealership in Canada by next week. One of the places was kind enough to wrap the window with stick-on plastic wrap, though that didn't tolerate 75mph for very long. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
On Wednesday, after my arrival in Munster the night before, I headed downtown with William, who works in the UBS building on Whacker Dr. I found the passport office not far away and, since I had my "important files" box in the trunk, was able to show my birth certificate and other stuff needed to prove I'm really me. That and $160 will get you a passport in roughly 5 hours in Chicago. While waiting for the passport, I ordered a Thinkpad X61 laptop over the phone and haggled the price down $80 from one of those slippery NYC joints. I was much relieved when it arrived, despite being shipped overnight to an address that wasn't my home.
Thursday, I spent half the day getting the laptop minimally ready to do work on the business trip starting Sunday, glad that none of my files live permanently on the laptop, instead permanently residing on a server at my house. More on that later. We also drank beer and were merry.
Friday, I departed on the 13-hour trip from Munster to Denver. The plastic stayed stuck on the window but making a racket for about an hour. Then it peeled up and started flapping at the bottom. That made a terrible amount of noise. I was happy to pass 18-wheeler trucks because their draft would stop the buffeting and noise. Eventually it hiked up to cover about half the window and the noise died down to just obnoxious.
Leaving Chicago, I had to pay a toll. The road was curving around and exiting the main highway and then split into cash and iPass lanes and during all this fuss I got the impression that I was screwing up and exiting the highway, which I didn't want to do. So I tried to merge back in, and had to stop in the danger triangle before the crumple barrels before I could find a gap and get back in. But no, I was wrong, and apparently was avoiding the toll by going through the iPass part. So I owe Chicago 60 cents which I'm sure will compound in some computer account until they repossess my spleen for repayment. I'm considering mailing them a dollar bill and an explanation and wasting a bureaucrat's day trying to match that up with whatever electronic naughty list they keep.
Cruising to Iowa was uneventful (except for the noise). But in Iowa I-80 was closed because of the flooding. I figured they'd just detour us around some low spot and was surprised to find myself driving due north (away from Denver) for an hour before cutting West. After an hour or so on US-21 West, and seeing no signs about the detour, I tried cutting back South on I-35. After an hour it rejoined I-80 but the signs said it was still closed from the flood. So I looked at the GPS map and decided to keep heading south to I-70 and drive across Kansas. Turns out that the real world is bigger than the 30 pixels on the GPS so a few hours later I was able to resume my westward journey on I-70. Around 10pm after 15 hours of driving I stopped in Hays KS to get a motel, but after looking at 5 places I discovered there were no rooms at any price because of a wrestling tournament that weekend. I kept going West, feeling quite sleepy now, to WaKeeney where I bargained the price of the last remaining room, the suite, at the Super 8 motel. Yes, I normally only stay at 5-star places but it was the only place in world famous WaKeeney.
Saturday, after 15 hours of driving the day before on my 13-hour trip, I got up early and after another 4.5 hours was in Denver at Chris' house. Chris had taken me literally when I said the night before that I'd be getting in around noon, so he was off wrestling alligators to prepare for the half ironman triathlon that he's running in the fall (the alligators part is an exaggeration but the other is not). I headed up to Boulder and met up with Rob Oberbreckling who, as I expected, was in his garage machining new parts for his gyrocopter. We had some lunch
and ice cream and checked out my new house, which is fabulous. I will send pictures soon. We also checked out the remnants of the Groupedia server. I had sent it to him FedEx so that I could have it up and running in Colorado before I turned off the backup server in Pittsburgh. But no, FedEx had turned the neat box and styrofoam into mush and had jolted the computer hard enough to dislodge the hard drives and send them banging around the computer breaking everything in their path. Oh, did I mention that it was insured for $500 but the receipt was secured in my laptop bag?
This has been terribly long winded so let me wrap it up. The trip to the client in Waterloo ON has gone quite well even if Desmond and Hans did sneak out early leaving me to finish up the work today. The glass place in Boulder should be able to fix my window tomorrow or Friday. The moving truck will be delivered Friday morning and the truck gone in the afternoon. My friend from CMU Rajesh will be visiting me in Boulder this weekend but little does he know that he'll be helping me assemble his bed and find the sheets. Oh, I met my neighbor across the street and mentioned how much I used to enjoy sitting on the deck of the West End Tavern enjoying a beer and watching the sunset. He mentioned that he owns that restaurant and the one next door. I am 100% ready to get off of this plane (I'm flying back to Denver now) and relax on a rooftop patio and enjoy a beer with my troubles behind me. Who is with me?
PS My porch has a swing. It rocks.
PPS This was written on the plane last Wednesday. Here's an update since then: FedEx wants the busted computer for an indeterminate amount of time to evaluate its bustedness, so I haven't given it to them yet. After many trials (thanks Greg and Rajesh!) the server is back up and running. If you can't get to groupedia.com now, you should be able to in a few days when the DNS entries have propagated. 2 of the 3 hard drives were working but wouldn't you know it, not the boot drive.
The window in my car was fixed yesterday. I've been to Target at least three times to get standard house move-in stuff. Yesterday I got two genuine plastic burled wood trashcans. Most boxes are unpacked and unbelievably no ncie dishes were broken (except for a few daily use glasses that I didn't pack well). I have yet to find my scissors or pens.
Don't hire those moving guys I did. I told them, if you protect nothing, protect these 4 things. Three of the four were damaged. (1) the glass on the china cabinet is broken, (2) the front of the sideboard is scuffed from rubbing, and (3) the fronts of the speakers rubbed on the only rough spot on the trailer wall, right through the cardboard and about 3mm into the wood, right at eye level.
Internet is fussy in the house. The first two DSL modems didn't work. It's nice to own the house and be able to run cables where you want. But when it works it's fast, and Qwest is coming out to find the problem. The house is full sized on the first floor but has sloped walls on the 2nd. So they've made the walls flat but put lots of funny triangular closets in.
There's been a lot of obstacles, but I'm still glad I'm here. 7th street is really quiet, with a great canopy of trees. I've got a small front yard and porch, and a great back yard and two car garage. When I had to drop my car off for the window repair, I rode back and forth with my bike on the Boulder Creek Trail. The mountains are about 4 blocks from my front door. There are exercising folks everywhere, and they recycle. I'm back home.