journal for 2003-12-28


OK, I meant to write much more day-by-day during the holidays, but I didn’t. It’s too bad, because I know I’ll forget some things.

christmas in florida

It’s Sunday, and I’m in Pensacola at Gloria’s parents’ place. We’re going to watch Finding Nemo. (At the moment, “we” doesn’t include Gloria’s mother, who’s taking her mid-Sunday nap.)

So far our visit has been OK.

We flew out of ABE, which was nice. We just had to drive five minutes to the airport and sit around for a while. It was pretty calm, there, and I was amazed to notice that there was an 802.11b network with no weird restrictions. I ssh’d back to home and chatted for a while. I also placed an order for a bag—more on that later.

From ABE we flew to ATL, which was not at all calm. The airport was crowded, much to our surprise. We flew from EWR to New Orleans a few years ago, and it was dead just about everywhere. Anyway, we had a layover in Atlanta for over two hours, so we stopped at TGI Friday’s and ate a nice lunch. The flights were both fine, and we had fine seats on both planes.

Nate and Laura, Jennifer, Frank, and the boys were here when we arrived, and we exchanged presents pretty soon afterward. I got a whole mess of Ferero Rocher (and other sweets), some icehouse pieces, a book of architecture photos, the Cryptonomicon, and season one of the Office on DVD.

We had some tasty leftovers and eventually turned in.

Friday we went to Alabama for lunch. On one hand, that might sound farther than it really was. On the other hand, it was really far. At first there was some objection to driving an hour just for lunch. Most of this evaporated when we learned that there was also shopping to be done. For lunch, we went to a place that featured “Throwed Rolls.” Guys with racks of hot rolls circulated through the place, throwing them to hungry guests. The food was all down home style stuff, and it was good. I couldn’t decide what I wanted, so I got fried chicken. The rolls were really great. I must remember to make a nice hot dense white bread after my trip. Then I’ll smother it with butter and honey. It will be good. The less fun part of the experience was the gag service. The waitress would drop a pitcher of cola, but it would turn out to be solid. Or she’d squirt ketchup all over a guest, but it was actually red yarn in a ketchup bottle. To be frank, it was annoying. Still, the food was good. I’d go back just for the rolls.

After lunch, we went to a giant store that sold mostly pottery and crafts stuff. It was the kind of store that held absolutely no interest for me, and we were there forever, or at least an hour, anyway. After everyone was done there, it was suggested that we go home. While I wasn’t really interested it doing a lot more shopping, I was also hoping that our epic journey into Alabama hadn’t just been for red yarn ketchup and miles of ceramics. We decided to go to a nearby outlet center. Most of the stores there didn’t interest me too much, and I was actually annoyed with “Music for a Song,” where most of the popular CDs were eighteen bucks. What the hell? Am I naive to believe that a CD store with a name like that, located in a discount center, should charge less than Amazon or FYE? The place was vindicated, though, when I found the two Season Two boxed sets for the Transformers for a total of $85. (Normally it would be about $120.) I also got some mentos. Later, some socks, too.

We went to McGuire’s for dinner; that’s a local Irish steakhouse we’d been to the last time we were down. Gloria and I both had the prime rib, and it was great.

Yesterday, we did lunch with the whole family down here. We went to a sports bar called Brews Brothers, and it was just fine. I got some pictures of the whole family, but I didn’t manage to get good single shots of Nate or Laura, who’ve left now. (I’m trying to update my address book.) For dinner, we had some leftovers in the form of turkey sandwiches. We watched some of The Office, but I’m not sure anyone enjoyed it but me. Everyone was really sleepy.

This morning, I wandered out of bed just in time to see that Gloria and her parents were all dressed up for church. As I was unwashed and poorly dressed, I stayed at the house and watched some Transformers. When they came home, they brought Krispy Kreme doughnuts, where were really as good as everyone has said. While they didn’t get them hot, Gloria’s mom correctly noted that eight seconds in the microwave made them totally awesome. We had glazed and apple cider doughnuts.

We’re going to have lasagna for lunch. Beyond that, I don’t know much about our plans for the rest of the week. At some point, Jenn wants to get out for dinner with just the four of us (that is, not Gloria’s parents). That’s OK with me.

christmas in bethlehem

Christmas at home was pretty standard. Mom made some awesome Manhattan clam chowder, despite her panicked claims that she had no idea how she’d done it before. She also said she didn’t know how to fry fish, which I found almost completely impossible to believe. She fried some, and it was jsut fine. We had baklava for dessert. It was OK, but a bit too dry for me.

Steve showed up around 22:00, which was earlier than we’d expected him, and that was good. I drank some Anchor Steam, which I’d never had before; it was an awesome beer. I also had some egg nog, when we opened presents.

I’ll put up photos of my haul later, as I did last year. Among other things, Gloria gave me a gift certificate for a Timbuk2 bag, which I ordered while waiting at the ABE airport. I abandoned my long-held idea of getting a German flag bag, and instead got something that seemed like it would match my jacket. I don’t really expect to see it before my trip, sadly. It would be nice to have it for my period of exile.


It’s about time for my exile to the UK. There were no development meetings in all of 2003, which was a real bummer. I’ll be leaving for London on Saturday the 3rd. I expect the travel to stink, and the first day’s lodging to be awkward. They couldn’t get me into the normal hotel for the first night, so I’m further up the road. I’m hoping someone can give me a lift in on the first day; Trevor tells me it isn’t walking distance.

Written on December 28, 2003