Book Report: The Crossroads of Time

In this parallel-worlds scifi adventure, our hero meets some people who are largely, but not 100% like him; he figures they will all get along OK, and they do. He goes to strange places similar to our own world, but not quite like it. I read this book while riding a Greyhound bus through Texas; it all seemed to fit, somehow.

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Milestone: 13 Million Hits

Wow, it's the site's 13000000th hit. (Sort of. Actually, it probably passed 13000000 a while back. I skipped counting a bunch of hits (most of them?) during October-November. Anyhow.) - - [18/Jan/2009:05:48:16 -0400] "GET /departures/Seattle/11/03623_al_mary_veronica_tom_table_tm.jpg HTTP/1.1" 200 4497 "" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 6.0; SLCC1; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; Media Center PC 5.0; .NET CLR 3.0.04506; InfoPath"

Let's see, what's going on here? Someone viewed the travelog of that road trip to Vancouver that Tom Lester and I took four years ago when we were both between jobs. That page shows a bunch of "thumbnail" graphics--small versions of large photos. Here, the browser is fetching one of those thumbnails, specifically a photo from Veronica & Patrick's place up at the Sixes River in Oregon--in the photo, Patrick's parents and Veronica are sitting around the kitchen table.

The IP address suggests that the user is a customer of Bigpond, an ISP service run by Telstra in Australia. Assuming that Bigpond uses a sensible naming convention, I'm guessing this customer is in Queensland:

$ dig -x

"qld" seems like an abbreviation for Queensland, doesn't it?

Looking at previous hits for that same IP address (presumably the same user), we can see loading lots more thumbnails... Ah, and here's where they loaded the page itself: - - [18/Jan/2009:05:48:14 -0400] "GET /departures/Seattle/11/ HTTP /1.1" 200 45255 "" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 6.0; SLCC1; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; Media Center PC 5.0; .NET CLR 3.0.04506; InfoPath.1)"

I guess they arrived at the page after doing a Google search for road trip recommendations from L.A. to Vancouver. Dang, Tom and I started a ways north of L.A. I sure hope that that Australian nevertheless leaves some slack touristy-time between L.A. and S.F. There's plenty of stuff to see there.

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Book Report: The Forms of Water

It's a novel by Andrea Barrett, but it's not about scientists or even lab assistants. Who knew that Barrett wrote about anyone other than scientists and lab assistants? This novel is about people. Oh, the novel is named after a popular science book, but this is weak sauce if you were hoping for another novel about scientists. The novel itself is quite satisfactory, once you get past the fact that it's not about scientists. But I'm not sure what to say about it. This book compares our thoughts/hopes versus reality; it's a relationship like that of parallax, the distortion that occurs when you look from the air into water... oh gee, I can't believe I'm talking about this. This book is literature. If you want metaphors and themes and stuff like that, this book has them in abundance. It's a fun read if you're into spotting those things.

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Book Report: Uncommon Carriers

I'd read most of these John McPhee essays already, and it was nice to read them again. This collection includes the essay about riding in the hazmat truck. That essay is darned good.

Look, not all of these book reports can be multi-day multi-page epics.

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Book Report: Sand Cafe

I have now eaten ramen noodles that were prepared on one of those espresso machine milk-steamer attachment thingies. I am told that the espresso machine cost a few thousand dollars. However, the noodles tasted pretty much the same as ever. Maybe I should try to turn that into a segue about military spending, but I don't think that's going to happen. Anyhow: the book today is Sand Cafe.

This novel is set in the time of the first USA-Iraq war. Its characters are reporters. Most of the action takes place in a claustrophobic hotel. Reporters sit tight, let the military spoon-feed them news, and whine that the results aren't very good. A few reporters head out on their own and perhaps make a difference. Along the way, there's comedy and romance. This is a fun novel.

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Book Report: Dishwasher

Dave Hill wrote in to say that he'd been reading some of my old web pages. (He didn't say so, but he probably started browsing because he was hoping to see some kind of writeup about the the No More Secrets Game. I finally got a chance to play in a Game with Dave Hill! In the No More Secrets Game! So there should be a writeup! Which I'm working on. Slowly. Well, which I'm slowly procrastinating on.) Specifically, he wrote to say that he'd met Dishwasher Pete. This just goes to show that while I have some book learning, Dave Hill has genuine punk cred.

Yesterday, as part of my strict procrastination regimen, I went to the comic store. There on the shelf was Dishwasher, the new book by Dishwasher Pete. I read it this morning, couldn't put it down. I was staying by the phone, wondering if the BATH3 organizers were going to tell me what I'm doing next weekend, if I should buy a sleeping bag or what... Anyhow, I sat and read. This is the guy with the quest to wash dishes in all 50 states. He wrote a zine about dishwashing with neat asides about labor history. Then the zine stopped. So you might be wondering what happened with the quest? Well, he met this nice girl, and wanted to settle down, so the quest turned into kind of a sprint and...

But that is not the point. The point is that I got into reading the 'zine late in its run, and I didn't know about the early years. This book filled me in on that time. There are other dishwashers who taught Pete secrets of the trade. There are good things in Portland, OR. There are... Look, just go read the darned thing.

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Book Report: Rain or Shine

You want to read this book. It's short, it's easy. It has rodeo announcing, stirring human drama, show business, the changing face of the American West, junk food wrappers. The writer, Cyra McFadden, is the daughter of Cy Taillon, who was apparently the world's most famous rodeo announcer. He toured from town to town, from show to show. For a while, he brought his family with them. They had adventures, dull spots, fights. Go read now.

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Link: ExistentialTraveller

In June of 2005, Tom Manshreck drove from Brooklyn to Alaska. And he wrote about it.

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Site Update: Jan 05 Road Trip Report

Just nine months after the fact, I uploaded a write-up of the road trip that Tom Lester and I took back in January.

You could argue that in 2004-2005 span, I thus completed another unemployed travel trilogy. If so, I hope it's the last one for a while.

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Book Report: Road Fever

What does it take to drive from Tierra del Fuego to Prudhoe Bay in less than a month? Will, determination, and paperwork. A big stack of paperwork. Folders and folders of paperwork. Visits to consuls. Border crossings. Bribing customs agents.

Driving from Tierra del Fuego to Prudhoe Bay is not the story I expected it to be. Author Tim Cahill and adventure driver Garry Sowerby described themselves as documenteros, and they spend a lot of time in South America shuffling documents.

The result is a surprisingly good book. Thanks to Tom Lester for pointing me at it during our January road trip.

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get on the bus

My bus was not full; that broke my plan. My first week at the new job coincided with the company ski trip. I knew a few people at the new job, but not many. Now, on the bus ride back to the bay area from Tahoe, I planned to chat with whoever was stuck sitting next to me. Maybe I'd learn something; at least I'd know one more person. But the bus wasn't even halfway full, and no one sat next to me.

So I finished reading The Storyteller's Daughter, a personal history of modern Afghanistan. And I remembered that there were people out there with real problems.


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location location location

As we waited to get into the puppet show, Tom and I made small talk. I told him that I'd finished reading Linda Greenlaw's Lobster Chronicles, about her adventures getting re-settled at Isle au Haut. Tom laughed. He'd read that book during his big road trip--the one from California to Nova Scotia and back. He'd read that book while in Maine, a ferry ride away from that Isle. So Tom reads a lot; and he reads with style and/or topicality.

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