Exploring

Having spent four lovely days in the warm and fuzzy embrace of Toronto, I’m now exploring Kitchener-Waterloo. I spent a few hours here several years ago, and I decided I would come back for a couple of days at some point. That point has arrived.

A few initial impressions that I may or may not expand on later:

  • It seems a lot more like American cities here. It’s very sprawling, and there’s not the grid that you see in Toronto, Ottawa, or Montréal. Development patterns just look a lot more like a small- or mid-sized American city. (EDIT: Speech recognition added a “good” to that last sentence that didn’t belong there.)
  • It also seems a lot more white and Anglo (and Germanic) here. A quick glance at the areas demographics on Wikipedia confirms this suspicion.
  • I wonder how people here react to the fact that most of their broadcast media (TV at least) is based in Toronto, and that there’s nothing really local. I guess there never has been, so they probably don’t notice the difference. That said, this would be a pretty decent sized market in the US. (EDIT: There are apparently local stations here but they were not on my hotel cable.)
  • They do have their own newspaper, though, and like most Canadian papers, it seems a trifle healthier than most American papers.
  • I really love the converted shopping center on University Avenue that’s become sort of a big international food court. I ate there last time I was here and returns tonight as well.
  • I also love my room, and I’m reconsidering whether I want to leave.
  • Canadian public libraries rock the universe.

Pigs and pumpkins

I went to the fair for the first time since 2010. We saw the giant pumpkins and the pigs and the assorted cakes that were already past their prime and starting to look a little worse for the wear. We marveled at the “most effective use of a gourd” winner. Many of the youngsters’ art projects had a very encouraging urban feel to them. I made wry comments as we walked past the Republican party booth and the “right to life” booth (which was, of course, staffed only by men) and I had Methodist hot dogs and cobbler. I somehow too no pictures. My “date” won a ribbon for a dress she made. It was nice.

Canada Saturday for the annual Thanksgiving trip. There may or may not be updates from the road here and/or on the various Twitter accounts.

That’s 16 in prime number years…

Celebrating Rosanna Arquette’s birthday in St. Catherines, Ontario.

Revelations upon hitting age 53 that I forgot to post last month on Rosanna Arquette’s birthday:

  • At some point in the aging process, your beard gets grey enough that neglecting to shave no longer makes you look sexy and scruffy–assuming it ever did to begin with. It just makes it look like you forgot to wash your face that morning.
  • How do people live without obsessions hobbies to take over their lives keep them busy.
  • Just like giving up smoking and leaving San Francisco, getting rid of cable is a decision I have never once regretted.
  • Travel is a much more enjoyable vice than bar- or bed-hopping. I know from experience that it is possible to combine all three, but I would opt for doing the former (and doing it alone) if I had to choose.
  • I enjoy many of the perks of being middle class, though I haven’t necessarily absorbed all the values.
  • Life is a lot more fun when you concentrate on things and people you like rather than on things and people you don’t.

Hi, honey. I’m home!

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Yes, I realize you probably didn’t know I was gone, but I’ve been to Albany/Schenectady, Rochester, and Buffalo (not to mention cameo appearances in Cleveland, Erie, Niagara Falls, St Catharine’s and even my very first sleepover in Delaware). And I’m older now, too!

Pictures and details to follow.

Charleston revisited

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I’ve been threatening to make another roadtrip to Charleston for several years now. This weekend, accompanied by my new car, I did it. Frankly, it hadn’t changed all that much since 2008.

But I took pretty pictures!

Nine years. One waterfall. (OK…two waterfalls…)

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Almost nine years ago, the ex and I did a road trip to Charleston and Pittsburgh that ultimately had lots of implications, but for now, I’ll just mention that we took what was always my favorite “couple photo” on this trip, at a waterfall by the side of Highway 60 somewhere near Gauley Bridge, West Virginia. I’ve been threatening to do another weekend in Charleston ever since, and this was finally that weekend.

More pictures to follow, but yesterday, I happened to take that same back road home because I wanted to shoot a couple of old Kroger stores along the way (and because I fucking hate that stretch of the West Virginia Turnpike between Beckley and Charelston), and I happened upon that same waterfall. I thought it was time for a new photo. I think I’ve held up pretty well over the years. Almost no evidence at all of decomposition…

And for the record, I found a new waterfall I like even better, because the nature is kept at bay by the pair of creepy old buildings adjacent to it.

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Again, more pictures and thoughts on Charleston to follow…

Shoulda made that left turn (no, really)…

It was actually a lot of fun revisiting Albuquerque after almost twenty years. This is a city that appreciates its roadside heritage and recognizes it both as a part of American history and a tourism opportunity, and I was happy to see that a lot of the built environment–though not all of it–had survived since my last visit, and that a beautification and transit project was happening over the full length of Route 66/Central Avenue. This was a work trip so I didn’t get to do as much exploration as I might have liked, but I did also get some Groceteria research done.

And then came the trip home, which allowed me to experience a major U.S. air travel meltdown firsthand. Here is a timeline of my 36-hour trip home:

Wednesday:

8:00 AM MDT: Get an alert that my 1:15 flight to Atlanta has been delayed by two hours, which will cause me to miss my connection. I easily rebook the final leg and am happy that I get a few extra hours o explore.

2:00 PM MDT: Possible additional delays, but my coworker and I arrive at the airport since the rental car is due. We don’t realize at this time that there is a major weather issue in Atlanta that is about to cripple air travel nationwide.

4:00 PM MDT: It begins to look like our flight may be cancelled. The very helpful and friendly gate staff offer to put us up for the night at an airport hotel, which is not the usual M.O. for weather-related delays. We take them up on the offer and rebook for Thursday. I get booked on a very indirect route via Salt Lake City, but I score first class. This pleases me.

7:00 PM MDT: We have dinner in the hotel restaurant, where it takes two hours to be served a cub sandwich and a beer.

 

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Thursday:

4:00 AM MDT: I wake up and head to the airport for my first class fight to Atlanta via Salt Lake City. Alas, it is not to be.

6:00 AM MDT: My flight to Salt Lake City is cancelled. Fortunately, I manage to get on a direct flight that leaves about the same time, actually putting me In Atlanta earlier than the other route would have. Unfortunately, I’m in middle seat in coach rather than first class, and there’s a very annoying manspreader next to me, who will feel me knee very often over the next few hours. I am cranky, after all, from only having had a Kit Kat for breakfast.

11:00 AM EDT: I arrive in Atlanta. I finally eat. I find my gate and prepare for a four-hour wait for my connecting flight. The airport is a nightmare, with hours-long lines at every service desk. I feel pretty confident, though.

3:00 PM EDT: Just before we are to board, my flight is delayed for an hour. There is apparently no flight crew, though the plane itself is at the gate.

4:00 PM EDT: More delays. I’m getting apprehensive, but they’re still staging passengers so I don’t worry too much. Updates from the gate crew, however, are alarmingly infrequent.

5:00 PM EDT: My flight is cancelled. After pondering for about five minutes what I would need to do to get booked on another flight (one that would probably also get cancelled), I say “the hell with it” and reserve a rental car. I take the airport train to pick it up and find myself in line with a family who are about to rent a car to drive to Detroit for the same reason. There are a lot of people renting cars; I’m amazed I got one so cheaply and easily.

Friday:

1:00 AM EDT: Having driven over 300 miles from Atlanta, I finally get home. Just for fun, i check on the later flights I could have booked. All were cancelled. At least I made the right call for once.

Sunday update:

Delta meltdown: Delays drag into Sunday, improvement is slow

Random thoughts (mostly) unrelated to April Fool’s Day

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Yesterday had more texture. Today is a bright, sunny spring day in North Carolina, which means, of course, that I do not particularly wish to leave the house because of the bright (and the pollen). So I’m taking care of things at home. And creating bullet points:

  • A month or so in, I ask again why I never used Plex before. It’s pretty wonderful, especially with my new router. Having everything I own from porn to film noir to home video on every device in the house rocks.
  • Credit Karma Tax. Love it. It was quick and painless, helped along by the fact that I no longer have itemized deductions since I no longer have a mortgage. If I hadn’t had a few thousand dollars in one-time freelance income for a consulting project I did, my taxes would have taken all of five minutes. And no fucking TurboTax fees and add-ons.
  • Anyone have a good commercial VPN provider recommendation? I’d been thinking of going with one for quite a while and in light of recent events I’m pretty sure I will.
  • For the record, it’s kind of discouraging realizing that your home state is more concerned with college basketball than with your basic civil rights.
  • Lovely. North by Northwest is having one of those TCM limited screening things, and i’ll be crammed into an airplane for both dates.
  • Best April Fool gag this year from NPR.
  • I’ll be in Albuquerque next week. That’s just not something one gets to say all that often.