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July 12, 2000

First entry

So here we are.

I'm copying an idea from several undergrads (Pete, Arun, Perk, Brian -- in no particular order; I have no idea who had the idea first). All besides Evil Brian have their own custom journal scripts (Evil Brian has his hosted on a .com). Similar to batch queueing systems, there's a complciated heirarchy of who is derived from whom, and who stole what features from who else (if the grammar is wrong, deal).

When I decided to get into "that crazy journal thing that all the wacky kids are doing these days", Pete gave me a copy of his journal code, and I thought to myself, "Wait, this can't be right. It's under 100 lines or so. Nope, can't be right." So what did I do? I wrote my own.

One week and 1,887 lines of new C++ code and 875 new lines of PHP code later, I have my own journal system. It's chock full of features; I think it will even write simple Pascal programs for you. But lest we be accused to plagerism, let's give full credit of the other code bases that I stole from to make the jeffjournal package:

  • Shell client: 1,887 lines of C++ code

  • Back end web support: 857 lines of PHP code

  • GNU readline library: 21,222 lines of C code
    While readline actually set me back about a week (moral of the story: be very careful about including configure-generated C header files in C++ code), it is truly cool and extremely useful.

  • inilib library: 2,178 lines of C code
    A truly cool project for reading/writing .INI-style files.

  • minime libraries: 11,585 lines of code
    This is my dissertation project. I pirated the use of the socket and console (i.e., readline) interfaces out of it.

So this is actually... well, it's a lot of code (can't do simple math anymore and am too lazy to fire up bc). Ok, this was just over the top. But what else are you gonna do with a DSL connection?


I plan on having some semblance of a journal out here for the world to see. Readers can expect to see gritty coding nuances, general musings on [un]reality, and lots of other boring things. Probably mainly boring things (I'm a geek, what do you want?).

Readers should not expect to get too many journal entries next week, and should expect to get none the week after that (I'm getting married next weekend; I've been verbotten to touch computers on our honeymoon -- what's a geek to do? Oh yeah... :-).

That's enough for now. Outta here.

July 13, 2000

Jeff's Journal

Got that + thing worked out -- the last journal message made it look like all the journal code stuff was written in C instead of C++. Ugh!

New C++ code
Still has some bugs to work out
Close enough now; sleep

In the words of Jimmy James, "No, I've never... had... much luck with jobs until I stumbled onto this multi-billionare thing."

Jeff's Journal

Eric Roman mailed out an interesting project that he heard about recently: rexec. Seems to be a new project under the old name for transparant and secure remote execution from the CS folks at Berkeley. Printed out the paper; it should make a good read.

More wedding things today; finalizing contracts with the Marriott (pizza-n-beer, yum), finalized numbers to Tippecanoe (rehearsal dinner, yum), table layout for the reception, etc. Getting down to the finer details -- T-9 days.

Spent the afternoon cleaning up the minime code -- I made bunches of changes to the socket and console routines to be able to write the shell client for the journal system (jjc).

Hmm.. just found an annoying bug in jjc: C-h C-h (i.e., hitting backspace twice) brings up the emacs -nw appropros list, but hitting C-g to abort the appropos list somehow makes jjc think that the emacs child has finished, and therefore jumps back to the prompt, but then seg faults and dies. Ugh! Gonna have to fix that one. :-)

Some guy mailed me today about parallel bladeenc today. Apparently, his company (www.scyld.com) is releasing their own MPI soon. He suggested that I add a two-line fix to parallel bladeenc that allows MPI_INIT to fail, and then allow it to procede in a serial fashion. This is a truly cool idea, actually. He was motivated by the fact that they support a "serial" MPI dynamic library that allows mpirun-less invocations of MPI programs. In contains stubs of all the MPI functions and simply fails (i.e., returns != MPI_SUCCESS) if you invoke any of them (e.g., MPI_INIT). Hence, if your code is smart, it takes the failure of MPI_INIT to mean that it should run in serial. So I made the quick change to parallel bladeenc; it'll go out in the next release (whenever that is).

Speaking of parallel bladeenc, I mailed Tord about a week or two ago asking questions about the MP3 format itself -- Jeremy Faller and I spent about half a day trying to make parallel bladeenc generate diffable output to serial bladeenc. We didn't succeed, and actually came up with many more questions than answers/solutions, but we understood why parallel bladeenc's output is different than serial bladeenc's. The parallel output is actually probably lower quality -- something we'd like to fix. But we can't do that until we understand the output format of MP3 more... Still waiting for an answer from Tord. :-(

July 14, 2000

Super karate monkey death car (SKMDC)

Lumsdaine bought us all "RTFM" t-shirts from thinkgeek.com. How cool is that? (I feel a lab picture coming on...)

Other point of goodness: got reimbursement checks from LBL today for my last two trips (my own fault they took so long, actually -- I never submitted the paperwork until fairly recently. And, with suspiciously relevant timing, I got an e-mail across one of the NERSC mailing lists that "deliquent" reimbusement forms will no longer be accepted... good thing I squeaked in on those two trips before they declared me illegal!).

jjc is getting better all the time (read: I'm fixing bugs as soon as I find them). Those random characters were in this morning's journal? They're now a thing of the past. emacs sending SIGINT's to its parent when you hit C-g? Now safely ignored! But wait, there's more! Er... ok, maybe not. Woo hoo!, anyway (like Yahoo!).

Brian's C++ (yes, it's C++... my first journal entry mistakenly changed "C++" to "C " -- how the hell was I to know that HTTP POST encoding uses + for ?) inilib project is now on SourceForge. Pretty kewl. Actually, that web page is probably pretty empty (so far); the project page can be found here.
Did much cool minime hacking today. Lengthy dissertation entry coming next...

Zoom

Spent the remainder of the day hacking minime socket classes (partially as a result of jjc -- because it wants to use no authentication and no encryption to connect up to the web server --
but it was due to happen anyway; better sooner than later). Had to make the authentication and encryption be "mo' separate" than they originally were. This actually led to the sockets being able to accept multiple kinds of encryption and/or authentication in an IMPI kind of way (amazing how this Ph.D. thing really ties in all work that you have previously done...). Also inspired by ssh. It goes like this...

Sidenote: This is lengthy not just because I'm telling people what I'm doing, it's lengthy so that I myself have a record of what I'm doing. Will be quite helpful when I actually go to write that dissertation! Also, I'm about to effectively go on vacation for about 1.5 weeks, and my short term... what was I talking about?

Assumptions:

  • Authentication is a different step than encryption. First you authenticate, then you setup encryption. A successful connection must pass both steps on both sides.

  • Connector and acceptor potentially have different lists of authentication/encryption methodologies. Each entity has a list of auth/enc methods that it will allow -- these lists are in priority order. i.e., "strongest" methods are listed first.

  • The acceptor governs the authentication/encryption choice (i.e., the "server"). As a side effect of this, if the acceptor has no authentication methods defined (for example), the authentication passes (even if the connector has some authentication methods defined).

  • Authentication/encryption methods are indexed by their string names (makes debugging easier, for one thing).

  • Different authentication methods can allow for different levels of security. For example, a "shutdown" authentication is assumedly only given to root -- so that root is the only user who can shut down a minime daemon.

The overall process is just about the same for authentication as it is for encryption, so I'll just describe the authentication.

  1. Connector makes a socket connection to the acceptor.

  2. Acceptor spawns a thread to handle this connection and goes back to sitting on accept(). The new thread (after some internal accounting -- a phrase that will never die) sends an integer count of the number of authenication methods that it has, followed by a '\n' delimited string of the names of authentication methods that it has available (if there are more than 0 methods available).

    Connector receives this count and [potentially] the list of possible names.

  3. If the count is zero, both sides rule that the authentication was successful. If (count > 0), the connector goes through the acceptor's list (in order) and finds if it has any of the same names in its list. If it does, it sends the integer index of the match back to the acceptor. If it does not, it sends back -1 and then hangs up, ruling that the authentication failed because common authentication method could not be found.

  4. The acceptor receives the integer. If it is -1, it hangs up and the thread handling that connection dies (similarly, if the connector hangs up without sending the -1, the acceptor can deduce that there was no match found). Otherwise, both the acceptor and connector call the accept() and connect() methods (respectively) on the selected Authentication object (sidenote: it only makes sense to have two entry points to the Authentication -- it's much easier to have a 2-way protocol where each side knows who they are so that you can have defined challengers and responders, etc.).

  5. The contents of the Authentication::accept() and Authentication::connect() are obviously protocol-dependent (since they now own the socket, they can do whatever the heck they want). Currently, these routines simply return a bool (remember, gentle reader, they were previously setup with whatever initialization/key/etc. information when they were initialized and attached to the Socket instance) indicating success or failure. The only condition that must be enforced is that accept() and connect() both return true or both return false. It would be a Bad Thing if they returned different answers, because then one party will think that it has passed authentication successfully while the other will hang up (upon which case the other party will detect this and also hang up, but it's Not the Right Thing to Do).

Once the authencitation process passes, we essentially repeat the procedure for setting up encryption. So there's multiple potential points of failure: agreeing on authentication, performing the authentication, agreeing on encryption, performing the encryption setup. If any of these steps fail, the whole connection fails and both sides hang up (assumedly with some nice error message saying what went wrong).

So this is the scheme. For all that text above, it's really not that complicated. Now I gotta go implement it. Code to write.

Woo hoo!(tm)

Jimmy James: Macho Business Donkey Wrestler

Learned (i.e., finally implemented) a few things today...

  • As part of a continuning discussion with the guy responsible for the LAM RPM in RedHat, he suggested that I move some of the LAM data files from $(pkgdatadir) to $(sysconfdir). I resisted for a while, because $(pkgdatadir) resolves to ${prefix}/share/lam, which is nicely its own directory. $(sysconfdir) resolves to ${prefix}/etc, which means that we may have some name conflicts with files that are already in that dir. Harumph.

    We discussed/argued this for a little while, but then he played the Linux FHS card, with which I really couldn't argue. So I bit the bullet, renamed our config files to have a "lam-" prefix to guarantee a lack of name conflicts, and changed all the Makefile.am's to use sysconf_DATA instead of pkgdata_DATA. Bummer.

  • But here's the interesting part: one of his points was that he wanted to be able to do "make sysconfdir=/foo/bar all˙˙˙˙" and change various directories at "make" time, not just at ./configure time. This was problematic because I was using AC_DEFINE to set these things in the central lam_config.h at ./configure time.

    My reasoning for this was that this clears up the compile command line a lot -- no additional -D flags are necessary, and various tranlational units can just use the symbolic constants that are in lam_config.h. I still think that I'm right. :-)

    However, there is strength in being able to change such directories at compile time, especially since such behavior is documented in the autoconf docs (arf!). So I removed the relevant AC_DEFINE's from configure.in and acconfig.h and added the appropriate -D switches to all the relevant Makefile.am's.

(Typing this, I noticed that I tend to type an ">" automatically after ".h". This is problematic when you're composing in ˙˙˙˙HTML... does this say something Freudian about my mother?)

So I think that I realized this a few days ago when I had my last e-mail with the RedHat guy, but didn't want to admit it ('cause damnit, I'm still right!). But you really can't argue with the Linux FHS, 'cause everyone uses it...

Additionally, I guess this will influence how I hard-code all directory names in future code. <sigh>

July 16, 2000

Many days no business come my hut

Been working at home this weekend, and caught a few movies on cable. Additionally, saw X-Men with Dog on Friday, and then rented some movies at Blockbuster last night. Here's Jeff's movie criticisms (a fallback career):

X-Men: A good flick. I walked into it not knowing anything about the whole X-Men lifestyle/genre/thing. Walked out having enjoyed a good action flick, seeing some good fx, and (contrary to my criticism colleagues Arun "I've never seen a movie that I didn't not necessarily not throughly perhaps enjoy" Rodrigues and Pete "if the fx weren't done with Linux, it's shite" Rijks), I had no wont of "transformation", or "extreme-transformation", or "super-ultra-bogo-fantasmic-trepedacious-transformation", or whatever the kids are calling it these days. Good story, bunches of funnyisms (e.g., "Prove it" / "You're a dick" -- watch the movie, you'll understand). That and the opening-night crowd made the movie well worth it. The special fx are also worth the movie theater exper˙˙˙˙ience rather than a TV. After the movie Dog was telling me about how the movie actually dealt pretty well with the 30+ years of comic book history that the X-Men series has. Amazing. The movie left a lot of unresolved questions at the end (intentionally, I'm sure), such that there could well be one or more sequels. I'd pay to see them. I'll give the movie 30 minutes.

She's All That: Came on cable Friday night after I got home from X-Men. Cute derivative of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. And since I'm a Shakespeare, I had to like this. It's probably no The Cheerleader, but it was enjoyable, and easy to do some coding to while it was on in the background, so this movie also gets two thumbs up. I'll give this movie 5 minutes --
while I'm a Shakespeare fan, you have to be in the right mood to watch it.

Fight Club: Arun has been raving about this movie for some time now, not to mention that I've heard the soundtrack dozens of times (Arun has this h˙˙˙˙orrible habit of playing the same CD over and over and over and over again. I must not have trained him well), and I've been meaning to rent it for quite a while (it's actually on the pay-per-view circuit right now). Normally I am morally opposed to renting movies that are on the ppv circuit, but since I'm immanently moving to Kentucky where they just recently got running water, advanced technologies such as "cable" (much less "HBO"), "electricity", and "toothpaste" are foreign concepts. Hence, I figured it was ok to rent this. One word to describe this movie: trippy. A most excellent movie. If you like messed up, intelligent, dark, and just generally trippy movies, I can't recomend this one enough. And a bunch of dark humor, too. Great line: "Ah... flashback humor." Two thumbs up. This is a 50 minute movie (the penultimate rating of 60 minutes is very, very hard to achive. This was close).

Dogma: "Mass genocide is one of the most exhausting a˙˙˙˙ctivity that one can engage in. Next to soccer." Any movie with Loki in it automatically starts off in the lead. Not for the religious faint of heart, though -- very irreverent and an extremely satirical view of religion and whatnot. All star cast, and extremely funny. Gets a little slow in the middle (which was a bit disappointing -- should have had more Affleck/Damon dialogue), but still has an overall goodness. Who knew that Alanis Morissette was god? I'll give it 5 minutes.

BTW, the rating system goes like this:

  • 60 minutes: fantastic movie. Go see it without delay; do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not stop at Dairy Queen on the way.

  • 0 (no units, also known as "sympathy"): A take-it-or-leave-it film. You'd see and, and probably... well, you wouldn't enjoy it, but you wouldn't not enjoy it, either. It's a very middle-of-the-road kind of movie. Meaning that if it was available and you had the time, you'd watch it. But if it inconvenienced ˙˙˙˙you in the slightest, it wouldn't be worth it.

  • 100 feet: Horrible, absolutely awful movie. Avoid it at all costs. If you surf by it by accident when it starts showing up on cable, avert your eyes immediately for fear of being blinded, and hit the mute button so that you will not become more stupid for having heard its dialogue.

That's it from Jeff's movie criticisms today. The rest of Saturday and probably most of today will be wedding planning stuff...

July 17, 2000

Jimmy has fancy plans, and pants to match

More wedding stuff today. Spent all day waiting for a friggen' package from UPS that never arrived (they tried to deliver it Friday, left a note saying that they'd deliver it Monday). Ugh. Got lots other wedding planning stuff done, though.

Helped Don Peterson with some C++ stuff today. I sent him a bunch of code (that I actually tested), and then discussed mods to this the rest of the day (well, actually discussed my typos in the mails mostly
-- 'cause I was sending him mods that I hadn't tested -- ugh!).

Talked to the DoD investigator that covers this area again today. An undergrad who graduated from CSE a year or two ago is in the Air Force (did the ROTC thing here at ND) is being assigned to a "sensitive" job in the Air Force. I've talked to this investigator several times over the past several years about various other students who I knew who went on to various DoD/DoE jobs. Pretty standard stuff, actually -- not as impressive at it sounds. :-)

He's a nice guy. I've talked to him about his daughter (she's a Signal Corps LT, like me) and various other military stuff (he's ex military himself -- a warrant officer). We talked about the person he came to talk about, and then we chatted for a while before he left.

Sepeta is coming over later to watch Fight Club.

July 19, 2000

Donkey, donkey, donkey, donkey, donkey

Whoo hoo!!

Here we go into the home stretch... Journal readers should not expect another journal entry for about 1.5 weeks or so. It's Wednesday before my wedding, and I likely will only be in sporatic contact with internet-enabled computers (a new innovation, so I hear) for a while. There's much to do, and little time to do it!

vacation has been enabled, and I've proverbially passed the buck to others for the next 1.5 weeks.

My wedding day comes
Friends and family to South Bend
Screw the rest of you!

I wasn't an english major for nuttin'. Did I mention that I'm moving to Looieville?

See you all in 1.5 weeks.

("Hey, does anyone know how long Jeff will be gone?")

July 31, 2000

To the moon!

Back to reality.

What a week. This'll be a pretty long journal entry, as I have abbreviated entries for the entire past week in this one entry, as I have had little to no computer access the entire time (and I wanna know who bet that I would check my e-mail while on vacation -- they lost!). Some notes are kinda sketchy 'cause I didn't start taking journal notes until Friday or so. You'll deal.


Friday, 21 July, 2000

T-1 day. I spent the morning in the office hurriedly trying to finish the wedding program. My Big Thing was that the music had to be in the program (i.e., not just the words). Tracy's church in Looieville only puts the words in the Sunday programs, and it really annoys me because I don't know all their songs, and it makes it really hard to sing them. Since we have a lot of non-Domer folks coming to the ceremony, I wanted to put the music in the program.

So here's another problem: I decided to do the program in MS Word on the assumption that Tracy would be able to edit it as well. i.e., I could do some work, e-mail it to Tracy, have her make some edits, send it back to me, and repeat as necessary. Bad assumption on my part -- Tracy's MS Word couldn't read my file (i.e., it came out at garbage), even though they were the same version of word.

Know what I like about Microsoft products? Nothing at all.

Also particularly annoying is the scrolling behavior when in two-column landscape mode (that I used 'cause the programs were folded in half). If you go to the bottom of the left column and hit the down arrow, one would expect to go to the top of the right column -- i.e., go down with the text. Nope -- you go to the top of the left column on the next page. There's other non-intuitive (IMHO) scrolling like that was well. Needless to say, I was strongly wishing that I had just done the whole thing in LaTeX by the end of the ordeal.

I ended up scanning in the music and placing them in the document. It all turned out ok in the end, but I think that Word really made it take longer than it should have. Ugh!!!

Renzo (the best man) and Lynn (his wife) picked me up and we ran to Kinko's to run off the programs (I had some nice paper that I wanted to use). Kinko's could do it by 9pm at the earliest, but we needed them at the rehearsal at 5pm, so that was no good. This was kind of frightening, because Kinko's has never failed me before.

So we went to Copy Max (of Office Max). They were able to do it just fine. Dr. Romi was working, so I said hi to her as well. While they were doing it, Renzo and I went to pick up our tuxes at Bernardo's. Both of us needed slight alterations to our tuxes (which they do on the premises). While we were waiting, my dad called and was surprised when I reminded him to pick up his tux (<sigh> --
good help is so hard to find these days!). So I told him I would pick him up shortly and get his tux with him. John Shipman (another groomsman) also called during this time, so I told him I'd pick him up as well.

Renzo and I finished, swung by the Marriott and picked up my Dad and John and promptly went back to Bernardo's. We ran into Mark Payne (Tracy's brother, another groomsman) and her father getting fitted for their tuxes as well. After getting all of that straightened out, we ran by Copy Max and picked up the programs. John's response to the text that I wrote about him in program was, "Jeff, I have two words for you: rat bastard." BTW, be sure to ask him what "wizard fries" are. :-)

I got dropped off at my apartment so that I could change and go meet Fr. Hesburgh (Fr. Ted wanted to meet with Tracy and I for about an hour before the ceremony and have a chat). Tracy met me at his office on the 13th floor of the Hesburgh Library right at 4pm. While we were waiting, I looked around his waiting room and noticed a corner of it completely filled with military stuff. I saw a big picture of an SR-71. Apparently its the same SR-71 that he flew in and broke mach 3.3 in. This guy has had an amazing life, and is still a really down-to-earth guy.

Tracy had never met him before; I'd met him a handful of times. We had a nice chat, and Fr. Hesburgh gave us his collected wisdom of marriage from his life (he was a marriage counselor for many years, and has probably married thousands of couples in his time). I'm really glad that we were able to have him preside over our ceremony in the Basilica at Notre Dame -- it was way cool. If you've never met Fr. Hesburgh, I highly recommend making an appointment and just going to have a chat with him. He loves to meet with people (particularly current students) to just shoot the breeze. He's got some amazing stories and is probably the most famous person you or I will ever meet.

After our chat, Tracy and I went over to the Basilica for the rehearsal. The Basilica staff is very Draconian about schedules --
you have 45 minutes for your rehearsal, and that's it (which is completely understandable -- 4 couples get married there every Saturday; it takes a finely tuned machine to keep it running smoothly). We ran over a bit, but they were not able to interrupt Fr. Hesburgh (it's his church, after all!), which, I have to admit, we were kinda counting on. :-)

The rehearsal dinner was at Tippecanoe Place, and went very well. My dad gave a really nice speech at the end, and gave me his self-winding chronometer (a highly tuned watch, for all you laymen) that he got from Luzern, Switzerland (which, coincidentally, is where Dr. Lumsdaine's family is from, and is the name of 8 machines in the LSC) when he was a teenager. He gave a good speech which included the following statistic:

There are approximately 90,000 living ND graduates. Jeff has been at ND for the graduations of about 25% of them.

Wow -- if that doesn't date me, I don't know what will!

John, Renzo, and Darrell came over to my apartment for a cigar and a beer or two to calmly round out the evening. We hung out by the smoking table for perhaps the last time. There was a party going on in the apartment above mine, which was very amusing. Jeremy Faller and Kevin Barker their respective weekend significant-others showed up after a while, too. So we were all hanging out by the smoking table, which was fun.

After everyone left, it was just Kevin, Danielle, and me left at Chuck's old place. I packed for the cruise, and laid out my clothes for the wedding tomorrow.


Saturday, 22 July, 2000

Ms. Tracy Payne and I were married in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of Notre Dame on 22 July, 2000. Renzo and Lynn came and got me around 7:30am. Did a bunch of pictures before the ceremony (my parents were late... <sigh>). The wedding ceremony went well (aside from a little confusion about my name... :-). Pictures were good, too, but very numerous (a little rushed in the church, 'cause Hesburgh's homily went a bit long, but hey -- it's his house, he can do whatever he wants! Plus, it was a pretty nice homily :-). Oodles of pictures down in the grotto and whatnot, and then a limo with Renzo and V to the reception (Marriott, downtown South Bend).

The reception was a blast. It was way cool to see so many friends and family all in once place (thanks, everyone, for coming!). Started with a typical receiving line followed by dinner (ok, it was really lunch, but you have to s/lunch/dinner/g for a reception -- it's a protocol thing). Gotta love being at the head table -- you get served first! There was an open bar, etc., etc. Renzo gave a good best man toast. Cutting the cake went really well, too -- Tracy and I did an impromptu (and very minor) cake-on-the-nose deal that apparently went over pretty well (many "aww..."'s and "that's cute"'s, etc., etc.). When I was eating my piece of cake, however, Jeremy Faller had the verve to say right in my ear, "Hey Jeff... seafood!"

As a Pavlovian response (no, really!), I turned around to face the crowd, and did seafood with my wedding cake. Tounge out, cake/icing everywhere -- the whole 9.7 yards. True class all the way (Tracy was so proud. No, really!). Many flashbulbs went off, so I had better get a few copies of those pictures.

Sidenote: the only thing that I knew about my wedding for the past several years was that there was going to be free alcohol available during the whole schameel (Irish catholic and all that). We had an open bar before dinner, freely flowing wine during dinner (reference: Jesus/"that Cana wedding"), and open bar again after dinner. I mention this only because I was particularly proud to see the whole ND crowd cheer and stampede for the bar as soon as it opened again after dinner. I salute you, my fine feathered friends --
you inspire us all (reference: Bill McNeal/News Radio).

Many people danced, which was cool. The DJ did really well --
played all the typical ND songs which kept everyone dancing (except for the Madonna song, which cleared the floor -- and I again blame Faller [guilt by association]). I'll spare the details here, but I danced a good deal of the time, and still managed to greet most of the guests at least briefly.

After the reception broke up, we had a pizza-n-beer party (again in the Marriott) a few hours later in which a good number of people showed up (more than we anticipated, actually -- we ran the Marriott out of pizza, so we switched to hot wings). More way coolness, 'cause the setting was much more informal than the reception.


Sunday, 23 July, 2000

After all that, Tracy and I had to get up at 3:45am to catch our 5:15am flight to Miami (V drove us to the airport). Aside from being early, the flight went well, and we boarded the Royal Caribbean (RCCL) cruise ship Voyager of the Seas. It's an amazing ship. It's the largest cruise ship in the world (although not the largest ship in the world -- there's still a few oil tankers that have that prestigious honor). Here's some impressive stats about the ship:

  • It has more crew space than RCCL had on their entire first cruise ship.

  • I think there were 3200+ passengers on this trip; 108 honeymoon couples.

  • Voyager is several times larger than a US nuclear aircraft carrier.

  • It's so big that it has 2 wake-reduction generators under the ship to limit the size of its wake while in port.

  • It has no rudders -- it has three propellers, two of which can rotate 360 degrees to steer the ship.

  • Voyager has a climbing wall, miniature golf course, inline skating track, ice skating rink, countless pools, hot tubs, and bars, a full theater, 3 story dining room, a 3 story promenade, billions of deck chairs, etc., etc.

  • It's just fricken' huge.

Voyager is a most excellent example of Engineering with Extreme Prejudice. Tracy and I actually borrowed my friend Darrell's 3-tape video series about the design and building of the ship. My deep admiration and respect goes out to all of the designers, architects, and builders.

So anyway, we arrived in Miami with no problems (although we were dead tired), and got to the boat via a shuttle bus. Did I mention that it's a big fricken' boat (hitherto referred to as BFB)? There was a monstrously long line for check in, but it actually went pretty quickly, and we got on the boat in fairly direct order.

After wandering aimlessly for a little while, we found our cabin (#7572). It had a little couch, mini table, dresk (i.e., combo dresser/desk), several large dressing mirrors, a mini safe, a closet with several shelves, a bathroom, a queen-sized bed (or possibly king-sized -- we never did figure that out), 2 nightstands, a phone, and a balcony. The balcony had two chairs and a mini table. The amount of furniture makes the whole arrangement sound larger than it really was; it was actually fairly... cozy (we're convinced that the cabin was actually built around some of the larger pieces of furniture [reference: Engineering with Extreme Prejudice]). But it was ours for the week, so it was perfect.

We wandered around for a bit (did I mention that this was a BFB?) and had lunch in the Windjammer Cafe.

Sidenote: It seems that they use the same names for things on all RCCL boats. Tracy and I took a cruise on Granduer of the Seas a few years ago, and it also had a Windjammer Cafe . Indeed, many of the other cafes, bars, pools, etc., etc., had the same names on Voyager as they did on Granduer. Coincidentally, the Cruise Director (i.e., the main PR face) was the same guy from our previous cruise on Granduer. This must have been a promotion for him --
Voyager has been at sea for less than a year (launched in November of 1999), and apparently RCCL took the brightest and best from its other cruise ships to staff it.

Sidenote: Food on a cruise ship is amazing. There's no end to the supply of it and it's all free. Drinks are just about the only food that you pay for. Sodas and regular stuff like that come free when you're having a meal, but you have to pay for them when you get one from a bar, for example. Alcoholic beverages always cost money. But you pay for everything with a cruise charge card (which also serves as a room key); no cash is used on the boat. Pretty handy, actually. And it works out well for RCCL, because you have no concept of how much money you're spending. Anyway, cruise food is never ending; there is really good food available just about 24 hours a day. It's a truly amazing feat of logistics, actually --
providing chef-level food (i.e., with all the little garnish decorations, ice sculptures, people in tall white hats, etc.) for so many people in various locations around the BFB around the clock. Let's call it Cooking with Extreme Prejudice.

We had a mandatory muster drill before the ship sailed. This is apparently required by maritime law in an attempt to prevent the need for movies like Titanic from ever being filmed again. All passengers meet on the muster deck underneath their life boat and stand in rank and file to for an attendance check (kinda like the Army). Our muster captain's name was Regina. Even though it was 4:30 in the afternoon, it was hot in the Miami port. The passengers were somewhat restless, but we got through it.

There was a lot of activity in the port while we were sitting there, waiting to sail; powerboats, jet skis, and even a water-based airplane were going hither and thither. Some powerboat even sped by the entire Voyager and mooned the entire BFB during the muster drill. Needless to say, this involved having his ass in the breeze for probably a full minute or so as his boat sped down the length of the BFB. True class!

We got a package with our cruise that entitled us to a bottle of Champagne in our cabin upon sailing, so Tracy and I enjoyed it on our balcony while sailing out of Miami Port. It was amazing to see how many powerboats, jet skis, and people on shore stopped to wave as we sailed. Indeed, a large number of cars pulled over on the highway to watch us go, too. Since there are a non-trivial number of cruise ships that have Miami as their home port, you'd think that Miamians would be jaded to seeing the cruise ships set sail. Apparently not. But this does raise the question: why is the fundamental human response to seeing a cruise ship sail by to wave? Without fail during the entire week, whenever we sailed by some group of people, one or more of them would wave. Is this a Pavlovian response? Have all of us, in some prior life, been conditioned to wave at cruise ships as they go by in order to receive a food pellet? Maybe it's just Waving with Extreme Prejudice.

We also discovered that our room's TV actually functioned as an interactive system that provided not only tons of information about our scheduled island stops, but allowed us to order room service, check our cruise charges, order excursion tickets, etc., etc. Pretty neat, actually.

The main dining room serves dinner in two shifts: main seating and second seating. Tracy and I opted for second seating. It is typical for cruise ships to ask a few demographic questions about you when you buy the ticket for the purposes of (among other reasons) finding compatible people to seat you with during dinner. However, there was some kind of mix up with our table. The matrid'D (whatever) took us to our table, but it was filled to capacity with 80 year old ladies. So they had to move us to a different table (which wasn't a bad thing
-- while I personally have nothing against 80 year old ladies, we were glad to sit with people closer to our own age). Amazingly enough, they did this with big paper maps of the entire dining room rather than on a computer. We got moved to table 476 with the following people (whose names we did not remember at all on the first night):

  • Randall and his 8 year old son Blake from Texas. Blake (who appeared to be both highly intelligent for an 8 year old as well as highly annoying), only showed up to dinner once that week, though, and Randall only showed up twice. Indeed, you can get food just about anywhere on the boat -- the main dining room is not the only place to get dinner. I guess they didn't like us. Bah.

  • Marty and her 18 year old son John. Friendly folk from the San Francisco area.

  • Tina and her 14 year old son Peter. Also friendly folk from New York city.

  • Mercedes and her ?15? year old daughter Daniella (not sure I spelled those right) from Florida. Nice people, but kinda quiet. They also usually sat directly on the other end of the table, so Tracy and I didn't get to talk to them much.

All in all, a pretty likeable crowd. Not exactly our age bracket, but much closer than the little old ladies at our real table. Tracy and I thought it highly ironic that we, the honeymooners, were at a table of divorcees with their children (indeed, we were pegged as honeymooners on the first night), but it actually worked out really well. As you'll see below, we got along quite well with everyone and had a great time all week. Indeed, we were frequently among the last to leave after dinner every night.


Monday, 24 July, 2000

This was a day at sea en route to our first destination: Labadee, Haiti (see Tuesday). Tracy and I did nothing, and did it all day. I mainly read Cryptonomicon while Tracy sunned on deck (while I did come back with a little bit of color, I'm not much of a sun worshiper. I sometimes come out of Cushing at ND at night and am surprised to see that entire weather systems have moved in and out during my day at work, completely unbeknownst to me).

The ship was moving at 17 knots which meant that it was really windy on deck. Some things that I have noticed so far:

  • Many families are using walkie talkies to communicate with each other on the boat. I wonder how well they work -- i.e., if you're in the depths of the BFB, do they really work well enough to talk to your mother on the upper pool deck?

  • The staff on the ship use 2-way phone/walkie talkie things to communicate with each other. And they even work when we're out at sea, miles from any possible commercial cell coverage. So do they have their own cell on the boat itself? Hmm. Interesting.

  • The rank of the officers on the boat is widely different: the lowest seems to be indicated with shoulder boards that have a narrow white strip on a wide yellow stripe. But the shoulder board strip combinations are widely different after that -- different widths of yellow and white stripes, sometimes white on yellow, sometimes just plain yellow, etc., etc. I'll try to figure this out over the course of the week.

  • All several hundred cash registers on board the BFB (the various shops, the bars, etc.) all use flat screen touch-sensitive monitors. No keyboards. This must have cost a large chunk of change! But it seems to work well for them -- very little footprint and no additional keyboard, and you can do all data entry with an index finger. Didn't really get a chance to look at them (they're inevitably always facing the other way), so I don't know what OS they were running, but it's probably either some flavor of Windoze or a custom OS/application. Probably 'doze.

Had lunch at an on board Johnny Rockets (reference: cruise food, above). Apparently, Johnny Rockets is a chain of 50s-style burger joints, complete with the staff in white aprons, paper hats, 50's music blaring out of jukeboxes, etc., but I'd never heard of them before. Had a good burger and shake (but it was not a $5 shake, mind you). I think the most surreal point of my Johnny Rockets experience was when the whole staff got up to do the Hand Jive when it started playing over the jukebox. Let me clarify exactly why this was surreal: the entire staff was multi-ethnic -- not a single soon-to-be-DWM (i.e., no Caucasians) among them. This is not intended to be a racist statement -- it just struck me as odd to see the Hand Jive, in which you picture John Travolta and a bunch of other decidedly white 50's males with greased back hair and leather jackets, performed by people from other countries (literally; every staff member's nametag also identified the country that they were from --
Voyager's crew was from something like 50+ different countries). Their English was markedly better during the song, too; is that how America is known and identified? By show tunes from Grease? If I ever get mistaken for a foreign spy and am interrogated by the CIA, am I going to have to (in addition to knowing all the world series and superbowl winners from the past 100 years) be able to sing any Grease show tune upon command?

We also attended a wine tasting in the afternoon. We got to sample nine different wines, which was pretty cool. Most of them were good, but I didn't like two of them. The people at our table (don't remember any of their names) immediately pegged us as honeymooners as well.

We went to the show before dinner -- an "intro" show, which had several acts, all punctuated/MC'ed by the Cruise Director.

Dinner attire was "smart casual" -- I wore my new suit. John showed us a game called "spoons". It's one of those "try and figure out the rules" kinds of games, so I won't go into detail here. I happened to figure out the rules first, which was irritating to the others at the table (reference: cocky, flippant, arrogant). I then introduced everyone to "Big Black Frying Pan" which, although different, is along the same lines. Tina was about ready to murder someone by the end of dinner because these games can be quite frustrating when you can't figure them out, but much fun was had by all.


Tuesday, 25 July, 2000

We arrived at RCCL's private area on Haiti: Labadee. In the words of a stand up comedian that we saw on the boat, "Labadee is apparently the Haitian word for 'damn hot'." Labadee is a little peninsula with nice beaches and all the usual water sports. Tracy and I rented a jet ski and took a tour several miles down the Haitian coast with it.

Neither of us had ridden a jet ski before, and it was BIG fun. We had to watch a Yamaha safety video before skiing off, which featured a perky US Coast Guard officer giving all kind of rules and safety tips. I found this pretty ironic, since we were in Haiti.

I drove down the coast, and Tracy drove back. Did I mention that jet skis are way fun? (reference: Top Gun movie, "I feel the need... the need for speed!", reference: Fr. Hesburgh's SR-71 flight) Our guide pointed out some nifty things about the island, all of which I promptly forgot. For safety reasons, they had us drive in a single file line, [supposedly] 100 yards behind each other. We got suck behind Slow Redhaired Lady twice, which was kind of a drag (pun intended), but other than that, the speed was great.

Jet skis are not hard to drive: just squeeze the trigger/throttle, steer with handlebars, and go. The only trick to get is that the steering is waterjet-powered, and can be delayed by fraction of a second or so -- something you have to get used to and compensate for.

The driver wears this harness thing that has two hand grips on the side for the passenger to hold on to. Since I drove down first, I had the harness on first. When we switched half way through the trip, we were somewhat rushed (since no one else switched drivers), and Tracy didn't adjust the harness at all, and it fit very loosely on her (there's just more of me to love, that's all!). Hence, the hand grips were pretty useless to me, and Tracy almost bounced me off the jet ski a few times. Much, much fun. I highly recommend it.

After the jet ski tour in the morning, we went back to the ship, got lunch on board (although most of the food service had been temporarily moved to the island), and went back and lounged on the beach for the rest of the day (i.e., I sat in the shade and continued the Cryptonomicon).

There was a "repeat cruiser"'s reception where they were passing out Champagne like water, so Tracy and I naturally attended. Got a closer look at the Captain's rank: 4 medium-wide yellow stripes with a big yellow diamond at the top. I think there are a small number of other ranks that have yellow diamonds as well.

The dress at dinner was "formal". I had rented a tux from the ship to wear that night (they tell you ahead of time that two dinners will be "formal dress"). This was Blake's one and only appearance at dinner, and he annoyed everyone by figuring out the spoons game within minutes (I told you he was smart!).

We went to the show after dinner, which was a stand up comedian. He was ok -- somewhat repetitive, but we laughed.

Sidenote: friends of mine mentioned that they didn't want to go on Voyager because it's just too many people -- the tendency to wait in line for things would be just too much. However, I've noticed that we rarely wait in lines very long. They seem to have the crowd/traffic control issues worked out pretty darn well (reference: Engineering with Extreme Prejudice). Yes, there are billions of people around, but once you get past that, it doesn't really impact much. There are, however, a noticeably larger number of children on this cruise than there were on our last cruise (many other people have remarked on this as well).

When we returned to our room, we found a manta ray made of towels on our bed. Very amusing and rather cute -- it was made by the cabin steward when he made up our room. I think our cabin guy from our last cruise did something similar as well. A friend of mine told me that when she went on a cruise, their cabin steward would make crash-test dummies from their clothes. For example, when they came back from dinner one night, there was a pair of legs and feed sticking out from one side of the bed and a body, arms, and head sticking out of the other (all made with their clothes), making it look like the bed had fallen on the crash-test dummy . Funny stuff.


Wednesday, 26 July, 2000

Arrival at Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

We slept in and got room service breakfast (reference: cruise food). We lounged around our balcony and continued to explore the ship before our afternoon excursion into Jamaica.

We signed up for a yacht tour that left right from the same dock as Voyager. The first stop was the Dunns River Falls. The falls were actually impressive enough -- a gently sloping 900 feet in the vertical direction, quite beautiful, and you actually can climb the falls (the main attraction). However, the climb was actually somewhat frustrating, because you are limited by really slow people in front of you, so you can take about 3 steps and then have to wait. So we both walked away from there with a less than "that was awesome" feeling.

The yacht tour continued on to some waters off the coast of Jamaica for snorkeling. We were further annoyed that they didn't have enough snorkel masks for everyone on the boat, and Tracy and I had to wait quite a while for someone to finish before we could go snorkeling. And then the water was really choppy, and Tracy got a little queasy. So all in all, the yacht tour was kind of a bust.

The BFB set sail again around 5pm, heading for Cozumel, Mexico. We went to a honeymooners reception that night, where, again, Champaign was poured freely (who can ignore free alcohol?).

Dinner attire was "casual". Can't remember anything eventful from dinner, but I'm sure it was fun. :-)

When we returned to our room, there was a towel elephant waiting for us.


Thursday, 27 July, 2000

Another day at sea, this time en route to Cozumel, Mexico. We basically did nothing all day again; I continued reading Cryptonomicon and Tracy sunned on the deck.

We went to the Bingo game in the afternoon. They play all week and have a rolling jackpot (more below). We didn't win at all (they play 5 games in one session), but it was fun anyway (must be deep-seated Irish/Catholic roots in me that enjoys a good rowdy, full-contact game of Bingo -- Bingo with Extreme Prejudice).

Dinner attire was formal, so I wore my tux again. I had a blue paisley vest this time, though, instead of the standard black cumberbund that I wore last time. We had a formal portrait taken too (same package as the champagne in our room when we first sailed). But we didn't go to the main dining room -- we went to the quaint Italian restaurant that you have to get reservations for (although everything is still free -- reference: cruise food). The food was excellent, and we got a nice bottle of wine with dinner.

Went to the show after dinner, entitled "Dreamscape" where we met up with Tina, Mercedes, and Marty. The theater is really quite excellent, and I haven't really talked about it much yet, so I'll describe it now. It's a 2-floor theater (main floor seating and a balcony), very nicely decorated such that you can easily imagine that you're in a mid-sized playhouse in London. The stage setup is very high-tech -- they can do many different kinds of effects and have tons of props, curtains, booms, etc. They even have an orchestra pit and movable sections in the state (i.e., in the vertical direction, which was handy during various portions of the shows). The sound booth was in the back on the first floor, and the lighting booth was in the back of the balcony (why do the lighting cronies always get shafted?). Full bar service on both floors with waiters/waitresses, which was nice.

"Dreamscape" was a bit trippy, but parts of it were good. My favorite part was several people dressed up in [apparently] velcro suits that would throw themselves up on a wall (Letterman-style) in various shapes and letters and whatnot. Very amusing. There was also a stand up comedian at 12:15am that we wanted to see, but we had to get up early for our tour in Cozumel, so we didn't go.

I accidentally put the "do not disturb/please make up room" card out facing the wrong way -- it said "do not disturb" so we didn't get a towel animal this evening. But we heard that it would have been a little dog.


Friday, 28 July, 2000

Arrival at Cozumel, Mexico.

We signed up for a rather lengthy tour of the Tulum ruins -- a Mayan city. This is actually on the Mexican mainland, not on the Cozumel island. So we took a ferry to the mainland, and a bus to the city itself. Our tour guide took us around the city a bit and told us all about it. Very cool stuff, actually (note to self: gotta investigate the Mayan numeral system -- the Mayans were really into math and calendars in their lifestyles and religion). Only a few buildings were left standing, but you could walk around much of it.

This was apparently the last city that the Mayans built, and actually enclosed it within a wall (which is evidently unusual for them). They did some amazing things with sunlight -- they made specific holes in walls and buildings so that on the equinox and solstice, the rising sun would appear in specific places in rooms, walls, etc., etc. Truly, the entire city was built with fundamentals and exactness that required Engineering with Mega-Extreme Prejudice. I wonder whether many modern contractors could achieve the level of exactness that the Mayans did (piping sunlight through strategic holes in walls and buildings across the entire city, for example --
amazing).

The city was directly on the coast, too; there were paths down the cliff which the city was built on to walk down to the beach (important for sea trade, apparently). They even had a light house to warn for reefs and whatnot.

After returning from the Tulum tour, Tracy and I ventured out to Cozumel itself for some shopping. I was looking for a good t-shirt, but came up empty (they all appeared cheesy to me. It's amazing how I'll take and wear any freebie computer t-shirt, but when it comes to buying one, I'm extremely picky). Tracy got a silver necklace. We walked around a bit and saw the waterfront of Cozumel, but then had to return to the ship before it sailed.

One surreal experience: on the approximately 3-5 minute cab ride from the BFB to downtown Cozumel, I saw 42 Volkswagen Beetles. Yes, 42 (and that's not even counting the VW busses). Not the new models -- the old-style VW beetles (and many of them were fairly new). Absolutely incredible. If you ever have a desire to get a VW Beetle, go to Cozumel. Apparently they still have a VW Beetle factory in Cozumel, hence, in an amazing show of local support, everyone proudly drives around in their locally-made Beetles yelling whatever it is that proud Beetle owners yell (in Spanish). Either that, or it's just amazingly cheap to buy a Beetle there.

Dinner dress was casual. I introduced Peter to the concept of placing a sugar packet on the handle of a fork (or spoon, but forks give straighter trajectories) and slamming down on the curved end to launch the sugar packet across the room. The heavier sugar packets work better, such as pure sugar cane sugar. It's actually amazingly hard to do right -- it's difficult to get any distance our of the sugar. It's a delicate balance of placing the sugar correctly on the handle of the utensil and hitting the other end just right to get any kind of distance. If you don't perform these steps just right, any/all of the following will happen:

  • the sugar packet will only go straight up (and therefore straight down)

  • the sugar packet will veer wildly off-course and end up in the soup of someone at an adjoining table

  • you'll end up launching your eating utensil across the table/room

What followed was a medley of sugar football, where just about all of us at the table tried to make field goals from as far a distance away as possible. I actually managed to make one down the length of our [fairly long] table into Marty's lap (a perfect 3 pointer, if I do say so myself!). The rest were comical attempts that usually ended up horribly wrong (oops) followed by our whole table pretending that nothing happened ("Jeez, I don't know sir -- we don't have any sugar packets mysteriously ending up in our soup. Must be a problem with your table; you should call technical support."), punctuated by waiters, wine stewards, or any other Person of Responsibility walking by. Great fun was had by all (mothers included!).

When we got back to our room, there was a towel monkey hanging from the ceiling in our room. The best part was that he was wearing Tracy's sunglasses. It was so funny that we had to take some pictures with it.


Saturday, 29 July, 2000

Another day at sea, this time en route back to Miami.

Yet another day of doing nothing (one of the important reasons we took this cruise -- to relax!). Much more reading of Cryptonomicon and jotting notes for this journal down.

We went to the afternoon session of Bingo -- the rolling jackpot was over $10k. It works like this: the last game of the session is always "cover all", meaning that you have to get every number on your board before you can call Bingo. They start the week with a coverall bingo jackpot of some value X (which is some complicated formula that has to do with how many people play, the number of letters in the Roman number representation of number of seconds since midnight on January 1, 1970, and number of revolutions the engines have made since sailing away from Miami). You win the jackpot if you cover your board within the first 50 balls called. If no one wins, the jackpot rolls over to the next session (where a new and entirely different formula is applied to calculate the new value of X to add in).

So anyway, it's not unusual for the jackpot to be huge by the end of the week. During the last session of the week, the jackpot goes to whoever is the first to cover their board regardless how many balls it takes. Hence, everyone and their brother (and their dog, cat, and platypus) shows up for the last session. Tracy and I got to within 2 numbers on one of our boards, but didn't win. The jackpot was actually split between two winners -- lucky sods.

Nothing else memorable that day -- just lots of relaxing. There were some interesting lightening storms off the port side of the boat within the clouds and whatnot; very beautiful. Some rain actually came over the boat, too; Tracy and I were sitting in one of the covered hot tubs at the time and just watched the sheets of rain plummeting down onto the deck, with various thunder claps and lightening flashes. Cool.

There was a "goodbye" show before dinner which had several kinds of acts magic, comedy, music, dancing, etc. Not a bad show.

We played more sugar football at dinner (casual dress). John wasn't there last night, so he was introduced to it this evening. Two of Peter's friends joined us during desert (their parents had already finished dinner and left), so we introduced them to sugar football as well. I repeated my record-setting distance, but also flipped my fork all the way down the table as well, knocking over a glass and scaring the bejesus out of the new kids (no pain, no gain). Again, more fun was had by all. An elderly woman at an adjoining table was glaring heavily at us. Marty pointed her out to us, and as a unit, everyone at our table turned and looked at her (reference: cocky, flippant, arrogant). Most amusing.

The string quartet came by our table this evening and asked for requests. John, being a smartass, asked for "Stairway to Heaven". And wouldn't you know it -- they knew it. I've never heard Stairway rendered on an acoustic guitar, two violins, and a huge bass before. Most interesting. They did a pretty good job, I have to admit! But it was still surreal.

Tracy and I had a final stroll around the ship after dinner, and then went back to our cabin to pack (you have to put your luggage out before midnight so that they can collect it for debarkation in the morning by order of your flight time). No towel animal this evening; bummer.


Sunday, 30 July, 2000

We ran into Marty, John, Tina, and Peter in the morning right before debarkation. Said goodbyes and the like.

Flight from Miami to O'Hare was no problem (although the mysterious ecosystem that we call "airline travel" [hitherto referred to as the Nemesis] somehow changed our flight number and moved back our departure time by about 15 minutes. While this was slightly alarming (since the Nemesis had previously not informed us of this fact), it was actually no big deal because our layover in Chicago was supposed to be over 2 hours). However, upon arrival in Chicago, we discovered that our flight to South Bend had been canceled. Doh!!!

What followed was several hours of standing in line, attempting to communicate with lower echelon Nemesis peons (LENPs), and generally trying to discover a) where our luggage was, and b) how to finish our journey to South Bend. These are seemingly simply tasks, however they proved to be difficult to find answers for.

The location of our luggage is still a mystery -- it is currently lost within the vortex of the Nemesis. We hope to find it tomorrow (Monday); multiple LENPs assured me that it would find its own way to South Bend, and magically be delivered to my door. I attribute this proposed luggage self-exploratory behavior to the non-Euclidian properties found within the Nemesis (reference: price/distance ratios found on such sites as BizTravel, Travelocity, etc.); indeed, to my knowledge, my luggage has never moved itself before, but it is relatively new luggage (just got it this past Christmas), so it may have habits that I am unaware of. We ended up getting a rental car voucher from American and driving back to Sound Bend (which turned out to be uneventful).

Since we got a point-to-point rental (i.e., ORD to SBN), mileage and time don't matter -- the car just has to be at the SBN Avis terminal within 24 hours -- we decided to spite the Nemesis and drive straight to Macri's and celebrate being home with some Big Beers. Most excellent.

We're back in Turtle Creek now. Spoke briefly with Dog on the phone about news from the past week and checked my e-mail; only had 10MB of new mail, or 360 new messages (much, much lower than I thought, but I did unsubscribe from most lists and remove myself from most aliases before I left last week). Read some of the most important-looking messages; I'll check the rest tomorrow. Found several messages for Jeremy Faller on my answering machine (which I find rather amusing -- most were from a woman from his moving services who adopted an increasingly annoying tone that Jeremy was not answering her messages). Also found that the ceiling in my bathroom is leaking from the apartment above me again -- the floor was rather wet and smelly. Gonna have to talk to Turtle Creek management about this tomorrow.


Monday, 31 July, 2000

Well, this journal entry has taken a good amount of time to write, so we get Monday as well. :-)

The LENPs have located our luggage, and indeed, it has mysteriously made its way to South Bend by itself. We picked it up when we returned the rental car. Since then, it hasn't moved by itself (at least when I was looking); it must be tired from the trek to South Bend from Chicago.

Tracy and I spent the rest of the day packing her car with more junk from my apartment. There's now very, very little left. Mainly my TV, VCR, the server, an ND flag, some clothes, and all the junk in my office. Gotta take my stereo receiver in to Best Buy to get serviced, though -- I think 2 of the 3 video channels have been fried over the years (it's under warranty, so the service should be free. Woo hoo!).

Gonna go head in to work now, see if I can catch Lummy before he heads back to Cali, and say hello to everyone in the lab.

About July 2000

This page contains all entries posted to JeffJournal in July 2000. They are listed from oldest to newest.

August 2000 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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