Home alone

So, on Monday morning sara set off to catch a 10:00 flight to Chicago. At around 16:30, she called to tell me she was still at Logan airport. I’m sure she’ll have a few words to say about United Airlines when she returns.

Monday was Patriots Day, notionally a holiday in Massachusetts. It was also a Bank Holiday in the UK. I decided to work anyway, as it was a good opportunity to roll out a redesign of a vital 3GB database while nobody was likely to be needing it. Everything seemed to go more or less according to plan, until some kind of glitch dumped a few hundred old e-mail messages in my inbox.

In the evening, I met up with Mark and we went to Buddha’s Delight in Chinatown. He suggested it, saying he’d never been before. Apparently he doesn’t eat vegetarian very often.

Afterwords he came back to take a look at the iBook and iMac. I also showed him Linux. Some time this week, hopefully, we’re going to try switching his old PC to run Linux—all he really uses it for is web, e-mail, and the usual office tasks involving spreadsheets and writing documents. He’s had Windows Me self-destruct multiple times, and is ready to try something a little more stable.

After that, we played video games—mostly Cookie and Cream, which is a two-player game of almost Nintendo-like cuteness involving two bunnies who have to race through level after level of obstacles, co-operating to help each other past the various hazards. I also showed him Rez, which he agreed is very cool. Then he had to dash off to get the last train home.

Today I cleaned up the inevitable unforeseen problems from yesterday. Obviously the one thing I didn’t think to check (because I hadn’t changed it in any way) was the one thing that broke, in completely mysterious circumstances. Once I’d fixed that up and cleaned out my inbox again, I dealt with various end-user requests, and that was about it for the work day.

This evening I’ve been mostly tidying up and repairing stuff around the house.

San Francisco Part 2

We arrived at Logan Airport in plenty of time. Given that it was about 35 celcius, I felt it was justified to hire a cab rather than lug suitcases on the T. I did my usual thing and tried to remove all metal from my person and put it in a pocket of my carry-on bag, in a vain attempt to evade the metal detector. Unfortunately, something set off the doorframe detector, and I was given a severe wanding. As mentioned earlier, the security guy even asked me to unbutton my jeans—the buttons at the front set off his metal detector wand, so I think he suspected I might have shoved sharp knives into the front of my underpants. Hey, the terrorists are mad zealots…

The flight was as pleasant as any six hour plane flight can be. They fed us, they remembered that I’d asked for vegetarian food, and there was coffee. So that’s three points for United, zero for American.

We got a shared van ride to the hotel. We were taken on a delightful tour of south San Francisco. It turns out to bear a startling resemblance to Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto 3… in fact, SF in general reminded me of Liberty City, right down to the hilly Italian district, the maze of tunnels and bridges, the subway, and the look of Chinatown. Our hotel even had dubious looking clubs nearby offering “adult” entertainment. (San Francisco Tourist Office may use the above endorsements in advertising.)

Yes, as you can guess, some corners had been cut in the hotel department. We were at a Holiday Inn on the edge of the theater district, which is one of the seedier parts of town. Also, I’m told, one closest to some of the best restaurants. If the bums had been aggressive, like their East coast counterparts, it would have been unpleasant. Fortunately San Francisco’s homeless seem to be a mellow Californian type, and pretty much leave you alone. Anyway, point is, it was the only place near all forms of public transit and less than $100 a night, so I wasn’t complaining.

Public transit in SF is pretty good. There are abundant buses, which run until 01:30 or so, followed by “night owl” services. There are also trams, which are mostly authentic old streetcars that have been repaired and put into service as a tourist attraction as well as a form of transport. Below ground is a network of more trams; and of course, there are the famous cable cars, which climb some of the more picturesque hills. A $15 pass got us unlimited travel on all of the preceding. To go further afield involved the subway, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). Aimed at commuters, it heads out to Berkeley and Oakland and the delights of Contra Costa County.

Minority Report

Was supposed to be going out on a boat last night, but there were storm warnings so the skipper cancelled. Mark called, and I ended up meeting him and sara downtown and going to see Minority Report.

As a huge Philip K. Dick fan, I had to see it. I’d gathered that it was good from the reviews, but I wasn’t expecting too much. In the end, though, it’s probably one of the best movie adaptations of a Phil Dick story. It doesn’t remove most of the plot twists, like Total Recall. It doesn’t skip all the religious content, like Blade Runner. It doesn’t have an incredibly irritating opening sequence that gives away the plot, like Barjo. It’s not quite as true-to-Dick as Screamers, but it’s pretty close.

I’ve seen some people complain that the humor is out of place. Well, Phil Dick’s books often contain humor; in fact, Galactic Pot-Healer is more of a comedy than anything else. What was intrusive was some of the mawkish sentimentality; but I suppose a Spielberg movie without sentimentality would be like a David Lynch movie without long tracking shots.

Anyway… it’s worth seeing, in spite of at least one plot hole so gapingly huge you could drive a truck through it. It’s a rare movie that I can’t predict how it’s going to end at least half an hour from the final credits, so bravo to Spielberg for at least keeping me guessing longer than The Usual Suspects or Se7en.

After the movie, we went to Chinatown to find something to eat. Buddha’s Delight was closed, so Mark took us to a place he knew. sara and I couldn’t help but notice that we were the only caucasians in the restaurant, but once I’d noted the fact it ceased to bother me.

The T was packed with suburban sports fans on the way home. I really wish the politicians had called the Red Sox’ bluff and told them to go move to Rhode Island if they wanted a handout.

Pride 2002

Yesterday was the Boston Pride March. I’m happy to report that Dan looks much nicer in person than in his scary mugshot photos. We went ahead a block or so and watched the parade until the BRC contingent reached us, then joined the parade. I took one end of the banner after a while. There’ll be some photos once I get up and plug in the camera…

Mark was with Slice of Rice, the queer Asian group he’s involved with. He was one of the organizers, so he had to go herd them to Chinatown. We tried to wander the stands, but the place was so packed with people that it was an exercise in frustration. Eventually we went to Downtown Crossing, and I browsed the magazines in Borders and got a Frappuccino, then we headed for home.

I then played way too much PlayStation 2. Jak and Daxter is great, but by the time I tried to return to the real world I’d become so used to 3D camera angles that everything seemed weird and out of balance. I felt faintly dizzy and nauseous, and went to bed.

Two days until WipeOut Fusion.

The Mothman Prophecies

Since I missed the MLK day holiday while I was down in Florida, I took a random day off today. I met up with Mark, and he took me to a restaurant in Chinatown and ordered something in Chinese. What turned up was a plate of some kind of dark green beans, a plate of crispy tofu, and some rice. It was good, as was the tea. Then he showed me a pastry shop that sells cakes comparable to Mike’s Pastry, but for under a buck each.

After that, we went to the cinema and watched The Mothman Prophecies. Like the director’s previous movie, Arlington Road, it had a very striking visual style—I used to think that Terry Gilliam would be the ideal director for a movie of “Watchmen”, but now I think it would be Mark Pellington. The soundtrack was adeptly assembled and devoid of cliché too—tomandandy at work. Having said all that, it wasn’t as good a movie as Arlington Road—it never quite achieved the same degree of tension. I’d compare it to a moderately good X-Files episode with better cinematography.