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My mother and grandmother and I are plotting a road trip west, visiting various people and attractions in Ohio and Iowa. Because of the way these united states are arranged, there will also be a good deal of driving through Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana. Right now, current plans seem to place this trip around the beginning of October.

Off-hand, I don't recall any of you being in this area, but have I forgotten someone who would like a couple of hours of visit? (No promises.) Or suggestions for must-see things we'll be driving past?
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I rode a motorbike for the first time today. (Not as an operator; as a passenger.)

In the dark.

Quite aside from the complete and utter lack of ANYTHING protecting you from the entire outside world, there's something rather terrifying about being on a motorized vehicle that small and not being in control of it. I don't know that motorbikes involve any more leaning-to-steer than regular bicycles, and perhaps less (at least at the speeds one uses on poor dust roads in the dark, when it's cold and the driver has not protective gear other than a jumper (not even hair to keep his head warm, poor guy; I was very grateful for the scarf and gloves shoved in the pocket of my fleece), I don't think about the leaning when I'm riding a bicycle, because at this time it's second nature to me, but it's much more obvious when someone else decides about the leaning and you don't know when it's going to happen.

Also making this more fun, I'd never met the guy before tonight, and probably wouldn't recognize him in the daylight unless he was wearing the same jumper. (Not that I had any doubts about the character of someone Monica enlisted to drive me home, but . . .)

And, of course, there was the fun half-hour or so of getting on the bike, the bike failing to start, discussion about "Wamana battery" and "Brake fluid Kabotu," standing around outside in the dark and somewhat chilly, watching the guys pushing first the one bike (and it failing to start) and then the other bike, taking the other bike off around the block, the other bike not starting, despite a few hopeful coughs, dumping cooking oil in the goodness-knows-what of the first bike, Monica's husband hopping on the bike, eventually the distant roar and headlight illumination of that bike ("It's his, and he knows it better").

Conclusion: Motorbikes seem more temperamental than cars, but also more persuadable.
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What with the whole PREPARING TO GO TO ZAMBIA thing (I leave for orientation on Thursday), this is an issue of relevance for me. A printout of this webpage is going to live semi-permanently with my knitting stuff (and I'm not sure that I won't buy an extra set of Size 1 needles at the yarn store on Wednesday, just to be safe, in case someone decides to confiscate mine, or they break, or something.

But for your reference: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/editorial_1252.shtm

It doesn't say anything about sewing needles or safety pins, though. Luckily none of my imminent projects need stitch markers, so I guess they can live in the checked baggage.
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I've been quiet for a while, I'll admit. I suppose I've mostly been feeling that nothing terribly interesting is going on, so I don't really have much of anything to say. It is properly Autumn, even moving to Winter, and while I love the colors, this season I've been feeling sort of lethargic and haven't gotten outside to enjoy them as much as I usually do. I think it has to do with not having either a person to go walking with or an established pattern of going walking. And while the nearby woods are lovely, they can be a wee bit sketchy to walk in alone. Tegan and I have arranged to go wander around one of the nearby parks on Monday, though, which should be nice.

I seem to be rambling a lot . . . )

In other news, I have 17,704 words worth of NaNo right now. Not all good words, mind you, but this is, after all, nano, and I think they're a great deal better than the stuff I was producing (at a much slower rate) two years ago.
It is November 6th!
When did I become the kind of person who is 1/3 done with her nano on day six? (Admittedly, it's the easiest third, since the plot was mostly already figured out, but hey, I now have an idea for what happens in the second two thirds, which I did not have 36 hours ago, and maybe when I'm feeling ambitious I'll write myself an outline or something, and figure out exactly what sorts of dangerous and semi-dangerous items the Agency keeps in its Peculiarity Vault.)
. . . this business of being unemployed is peculiar.

Although I do have a job interview for this coming week, which is an exciting thing.
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I will be in Northampton from tomorrow (Friday) night until Wednesday morning, and amenable to hanging out. If you are in the area and are interested in hanging out, comment, send me an e-mail, call me, talk to [livejournal.com profile] chocochan, or add secret messages on the Amtrak route between Philly and Springfield.

Also, I just finished reading Cyteen. It was excellent.
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When are folks planning on leaving campus?

(I'll be here through May 24th.)

So -

15 March 2009 05:31 pm
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I'm home, I arrived safely, traveling was traveling (the train was only 16 minutes late! That's practically on time). I'm enjoying being home with my mother and getting to see my dad.

Today's sermon involved the phrase, "Senator Nameforgotten could hang the ten commandments in every courthouse and school in the nation - well, he couldn't, but let's just say for the sake of argument that he could - but there would still be drug dealers and murderers and ponzi schemers and capitalists."
Our new preacher amuses me. He also has a tendency to start a story and then trail off and conclude, "When I started this story I thought it was going to be more relevant and less self-indulgent, but never mind," but he still gives good sermons and is quite charismatic. There's something very personal about them. Also, there's something intensely gawky about him that reminds me of a teenage boy.

We went to Joy Tsun Lao for lunch today to celebrate my cousin Naomi's birthday, and both Naomi and her brother behaved quite well - although they were not pleased by the St. Patty's Day parade which made the drive take an hour instead of twenty minutes because we had to make this giant circle to get around it.

And then I helped in the latest installment of The Turkey Saga. I have now stuck gooey green stuff underneath a turkey's skin preparatory to stuffing and baking it. (The gooey green stuff was actually pretty nice; it was slightly warm and smelled of sage.)
The oven is still way too hot, but I think mom set it to about half what it should be and it's hopefully about right. She says that the new stove is coming on Wednesday.
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A question - is anyone still going to be here by Friday dinnertime, or will it be me all on my lonesome for 23 hours because my Friday class is slightly too late for me to catch the Friday train?

. . . at least it's not "Fried Calamari, Secret Sauce," like they're having in King-Scales.
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Losing your passport shortly before you leave Spain would have been a really stupid thing to do, particularly since you had it last week.

Next time, check all the pockets of your backpack before having a minor freak-out. Better yet, don't let there be a next time.

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I'm back. I have internet again. I've checked my 65,000 e-mails, and am now looking at catching up on LJ (although, on second thought, perhaps I should put away all of the clean clothing in my room first. I won't be able to make my room clean before this evening (when I'm going to the birthday party of one of my mothers' friends), but I could at least make a dent in the moving-back-from-college cum two-weeks-of-vacation-junk stuff to be unpacked and or put away. Since, looking at the pages if epics that my flist has written in these past two weeks, I doubt that I'll manage to read anything like all of it before running off again.

That's really all I have to say at the moment. Later I'll tell you about vacation with my family, and the complete and total absentmindedness of my six-year-old-cousin, and perhaps some dreams, and how far the Delaware Water Gap has fallen from its once ritsy glory.
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Oh, the joy )
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I actually heard back from the Spanish Consulate today )

Maybe I'll e-mail s-m b now. She'll be a nice antidote for Slowness in Answering E-mails.
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Interesting to note that while I got from Philadelphia to Amherst (~270 miles) in six hours, it took me another hour and 45 minutes to get from Amherst to Northampton (~8 miles). Oh, the joys of the no-school schedule. The train ride was very nice, though. Uneventful.

The only other thing of note is that when I got back to my room I had a message from someone wanting to know if I was a math professor leading an internship to Bolivia. In case you're curious, no, I am not a math professor.
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So I arrived. The trip home was . . . uneventful. Also long, but that was expected. And, truth to tell, the time spend on the train was less than expected (although total travel time was more than expected) due to the fact that the train arrived 50 minutes late, caught up during the ridiculous amount of time spent waiting in Connecticut (I left school at 12, and the train was supposed to leave at 1:19. At 4:00 I was still sitting in New Haven, CT, and that was on time.) and managed to be half an hour late again by the time we got to Philly. Not that I'm complaining. Well, except about the fact that my fingers got cold while waiting for the train. My fingerless gloves are in my other coat, and I can't read in polartec mittens. But if that's the greatest hardship I have all break, I think that I'll be able to manage. Somehow. Also, many thanks to Talia for Trickster's Choice. Grab and Go was suprisingly good (yay for mozerella and tomato salad, even if the cheese and veggie sandwich turned out to be cheese, one leaf of lettuce, a few lone carrot slivers, and perhaps three slices of pepper . . . someone needs to teach that school how to make a proper sandwich . . . or perhaps I should just kidnap an icepack so that I can have actual meat on these trips). I got into Philly before 10:00 last night.

Being home is very nice. Particularly the wood-stove part. Even if my room is frigid. Oh, right. I like it that way . . . although a little less frigid would be okay. Maybe I just need to convince Aclysm to come be a handwarmer. She seems to have figured out the petting business, even if her purr could use some work. More on being home again later.

So far today, I have )
It's going to be a marvelous break. Even if I miss all of you college-people.

Oh, and for the record, I have once again rediscovered my hate of AOL's browser. But I don't want to go through the bother of installing Firefox on dad's computer.
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I got home last night - that is, this morning. I did not get enough sleep last night (this morning), and I'm tired enough that my imagination is going off on little trips without the rest of me, but I am home. And while the trip home was not the worst trip I've had from Noho to Philly, it certainly wasn't the best, either.

I guess the tale starts with yesterday morning.
I woke up at 6 or so, and lay in bed a while, enjoying the fact that the temperature was very nice. I glanced at the clock, noticed that it had become 6:20, and decided to get up. I awoke to the sound of the phone ringing. Glancing at the clock, I discovered that it had somehow become 7:45. My dad was on the phone, and the import of his message, more or less, was, "Hi, I'm about 5 minutes away from your dorm. Can you let me in?" I begged at least ten minutes, and hurried to get up and dressed. I knew that my dad was coming up, but he said late morning, which I assumed to mean twelve-ish at the earliest. It transpired that dad had spent the night sleeping in the car at a reststop somewhere, and had been woken up at 5:30 in the morning by a guy knocking on the car window, wanting gas money.
At 7:45 yesterday morning, my room was only partially packed, and I still had papers to finish. So dad packed and I finished papers, and then we both packed, and we eventually got off at about 3:30 (okay, I admit it; it took longer to pack than I thought it would - next year I will add an extra day to my estimate. Of course, it didn't help that the washer decided to malfunction and my last load of laundry was dripping wet when I took it out of the washer, or that dad accidentally filled my waterbottle with powerade, and other fun things like that.). I called my brother to tell him that we'd probably be home about 9:00, which he deftly translated to 10:30.
We'd hardly been on the road at all (and dad had just finished explaining how he'd found a new route that was much better than going through NYC) when we hit traffic. We crawled for a while, and eventually dad pointed out that we were getting low on gas. After that we got moving again, but seemed to have hit a stretch of road that was completely devoid of gas stations. Dad started getting worried that we would hit more traffic and be run out of gas, so we pulled off in a little town right after the Tappenzee Bridge. After wandering around the gas-less country roads, we found a sign for the business district of Piermont. Neither of us saw anything that looked remotely like a business district; in fact, it looked like more hilly country with some houses dotted here and there - but we decided that it was probably the best bet, and pulled off the main road. After going down a steep incline on narrow, tightly-switchbacking roads, we arrived at a flattish bit by the river that looked like an upscale town, but we didn't see any gas stations. We asked a few pedestrians, who told us that our best bet was probably to go back to the highway and look in some other town over there. So we went back up the switchbacks (I am glad that I was not driving; I do not think I could have started the car on those hills after stopping at the stopsigns), along the country road, crossed whatever highway we'd been on, and entered the town of Nyack. We asked some more pedestrians who directed us to a gas station. The gas was 40 or 50 cents per gallon more expensive than other places we'd seen, but at that point dad was just glad to get some more gas in the car. We got sandwiches there as well, and tried to head back to the highway. And couldn't figure out how too. We wound up driving on some little country route, perhaps 100 feet to the left of the highway, unable to find any signs for a junction. After wandering around another little town with poorly marked routes (or perhaps it was more of Nyack), we did manage to get back on the right road, headed in the proper direction. A ways along, we stopped at a rest station and got out to eat our sandwiches. I refilled my waterbottle (but, unfortunately, neglected to empty out the diluted powerade that was already in it). Once on the road again, we ran into more traffic, although not as bad as we'd seen in Connecticut. I soon discovered that the water-with-some-lemon-powerade had a distinctly nasty flavor, and only drank out of it when I was thirsty enough to not mind the taste.
We got to New Jersey, and I stopped paying much attention to anything, just letting my tired mind out for a romp. Somewhere about then I called my brother to tell him that the original ETA (that we would be home at 9:00) had been discarded in favor of something more like 10:30. He had the grace not too say "I told you so" too loudly. I let my mind wander, and only paid attention again when dad started making noises to the effect that he thought we'd missed our exit. We stopped at the nearest rest stop, and upon consulting a map, discovered that we had indeed missed our exit, but dad glibly announced that it would be okay; we could transfer to such-and-such a road and come into Philadelphia from the south. I was tired from all the packing, in somewhat of a stupor from sitting in the car so long, and quite possibly dehydrated as well, so I didn't really pay much attention to the details. After another long while of driving, we got to the end of whatever road we were on - without having reached the junction with whatever road dad had picked out. We pulled over to consult the map and discovered that while the two roads ran nearly on top of each other for a while, there didn't seem to be a junction to switch between the two, and at any rate, we didn't seem to have any choices but to keep going on the road we were on. We wound up in Wilmington. Now, I have nothing against Wilmington, but Delaware is not in the "Quickest ways to get from Massachusetts to Philadelphia." However, it was late, and at that point I didn't really care anymore. Somewhere about there it occurred to me that I had dismantled my room when I left, and that I was going to have to find sheets and make my bed before I could sleep in it, which was a charming thought.
Right about the time we crossed into Pennsylvania, dad and I both switched from the kind of sleep deprivation where one is tired to the kind of sleep deprivation where one is hyper. This was probably a good thing, because we'd only just gotten inside Philadelphia limits when we discovered that there was some kind of accident on 76, the main road to get from where we were to the part of the city that I live in - there was a line of unmoving cars on the entrance ramp, and people were backing up and pulling off into a side street. We decided to join the group on the side street, and had a lovely scenic tour through run-down bits of South Philadelphia before we found another way onto 76. There we encountered another problem - or perhaps more of the same - because, in true Philadelphia fashion, the entire road had been ripped up, and the four-lane highway had to fit into two slow moving lanes - and then one slow moving lane. But we eventually got through that, and I discovered, through reading the roadside posters and then asking my dad, that the favored Democratic mayoral candidate is named Nutter. He seems a decent fellow, but I wish that he had a different name.
We got home at 12:30, completely exhausted, to find my brother waiting up for us. When told that he ought to have been in bed hours ago, he announced that he didn't have school today. We didn't bother to unpack the car.
I woke up at 7:30 this morning, bright and early. I suppose that it cold have been worse.
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So I was just trying to figure out where the PVTA stop in Amherst is for a friend of mine who's coming to Conbust and taking Amtrak into Amherst, and in looking at the schedule, my eye happened to fall on the little box *End of December and Spring Break service, which says that there's reduced service from March 19-23. But that's okay, because I'm leaving on the 17th. But just to make sure, I thought that I'd check the next little boxes for No Service and Service Ends Early. AND THE SCHEDULE SAYS THAT THERE ISN'T ANY SERVICE NEXT SATURDAY! When, excuse me, but I need to get to the Amtrak station in Amherst. Not only that, but Ingrid's coming with me, and she also needs to get there. I can't leave on Friday; even if I didn't have class until either 12:10 or 4:00, I've already bought the Amtrak ticket for Saturday.
So I need to get to Amherst. Can I walk? More to the point, can Ingrid walk, because she'll have more baggage than I will, and she doesn't handle cold as well. Is there some other way to get there? The PVTA site (which, by the way, is supremely unhelpful) says that the last bus from Smith to Hampshire is at 7:30 Friday night. I do not want to spend Friday night sleeping on the street in Amherst. I don't want to spend Saturday morning until 1:19 there either. My guess would be that this is also not high on Ingrid's list of things to do over spring break (although I haven't actually asked her).
Is there another way to get to Amherst? I've heard about taxis, but people say that they have strange hours, and goodness knows if they'll be running over spring break - besides, I'm not keen to pay for taxi fare.

Mapquest says that it's 8 miles from the Alumnae House to the Amtrak station in Amherst. Eight miles isn't really that far, but it would take me two or three hours worth of walking, if the weather were optimal, I wasn't carrying anything, and I didn't get lost. It would take less on my bike, but Ingrid doesn't have a bike, and I would have the issue of what to do with my bike once I got to Amherst. I don't want to leave it there, and I'm not even sure if I can take it with me.

Also, I hate mapquest. It's being very useful, but its utter inability to find ANYTHING is soon going to drive me crazy. That is, crazier than I've already been driven by this whole PVTA not running next Saturday business.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I'm sort-of at the end of my tether here.
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I'm supposed to go along with my brother to track out his route to school (never mind that he's 14, entering high school in September, and perfectly able of taking care of himself) so I have 30 minutes (again) when I don't have anything particular to do, and here I am.

It is a bit awkward, because the trains don't run very often, and we would have had to drop everything and run out the door to catch the 1:00 train (and everything includes my lunch/breakfast - whatever the first meal of the day is when you stay up late reading and then sleep away the entire morning). I don't care for skipping meals, and I wanted a more leisurely schedule, so now we're stuck waiting until the 2:00. (And why I need to go along is a bit beyond me. It's not as if he's unreliable and needs a nanny.) Which leaves me with not enough time to really paint anything, so that cuts a chunk out of the time things could have been drying, as well.

In good news, one of the books I got yesterday is Diana Wynne Jones' Tough Guide to Fantasyland, which is killingly funny. It's set up as a guidebook/glossary for the worst sort of stereotypical fantasy novels made into a tour. It gives info on Caravans and Ambushes (all 4 types, from the sort early in the tour where you and your Companions are left for dead and everyone else is actually killed, to the sort where you find the remains of a friendly party that was carrying an important piece of information or going to get help, to another sort that's escaping me right now, to the kind at the end where you can finally ambush the forces of evil and slaughter them, even if you're helplessly outnumbered). There's also a guide to Companions, complete with color-coding so that you can tell if they're friendly or not by the color of their hair, eyes, clothing, etc. And I've only gotten to letter C so far. I recommend it for fantasy fans who aren't above laughing at themselves and some of their favorite authors.

Dinner last night (that which I was rushing off to) was quite good, with a traditional Honduran meal, and loads of excellent conversation, as well as a very cute and amusing three-year-old to spice things up.

Well, I'm pretty much out of things to say, and I need to go collect my stuff anyway - so goodbye.

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