number of ways technology has enhanced my life. also: my new car

new (to me) car

Here is a story about ways technology has enhanced my life.

I got a car. Here is a photo of it. (1) For some reason I like having two cars. Part of this may be that I like having a back-up car. Part of it may be that it costs almost nothing to insure a second car in Vermont. Part of it is that I’ve wanted a wagon for quite some time and the opportunity presented itself. So, this is my new (to me) car. It needs a name.

The way I got it wasn’t really your typical deal. In fact, it’s a neat story. My pal Erica just left her librarian gig at Cornell to start a nifty new job in San Francisco at Second Life. (2) She was selling her car on Facebook. (3) You might know Erica because her blog and my blog are the first and second blogs that show up on Google when you search for “librarian” (4) Yeah, that’s us. I saw the photo and said “oh hey that’s the car I need.” My car is totally fine, but ever since a scary run-in with a guardrail last winter, I’ve been thinking I might want something a bit more AWD-ish. Plus, I’ve wanted a wagon or at least something I could, in a pinch, sleep in. I haven’t slept in a car in a few years now, but I like having the option.

Since these cars are basically Vermont’s State Automobile they’re tough to get good deals on. And I don’t really enjoy driving all over the place looking at cars from Craigslist (5). So, Erica’s seemed decent and when I said the price was maybe a little high for me, she made it not a little high and I emailed (6) and said said “I’ll take it”. I sent her a check through my online bank. (7) It was forwarded to her in CA. She mailed me the title and the bill of sale. I called my insurance company. They emailed me proof of insurance. (8) I got a ride from my very good friend Forrest out to Ithaca (thanks Forrest! I met him on MetaFilter (9)) where we found the car in the Ornothithology lab parking lot with a note to me and the keys under the mat. Erica said “It’s the one with the flying spaghetti monster (10) on the back, to distinguish it from the 45 other green subaru legacies in the parking lot.”

We drove back in tandem keeping a sharp eye out for danger. The trip would have been shorter but Forrest heard on the radio (11) that there was a huge wreck on 87 North and we took a detour through Saratoga Springs to avoid it. I got home and made a few moves in an online Scrabble game (12) to chill out, answered some personal and work email, (13, 14) prepared a book to put in the mail for (15) and went right to bed.

really back

So I went to bed as soon as it got dark last night and slept for 14 hours. The fact that I can still get away with this indicates to me that it’s okay to keep taking redeye flights if it saves me some money. The loose outline of my trip is this

– Get to Portland late at night Friday and go out for beers with Sara and Steve. Marvel in that yokelly way how great it is to go out for beers at 11 pm and have a GOOD BEER. Crash out.
– Go out for brunch at the Vita Cafe and have corncakes and bacon with real maple syrup. Drink more coffee than is good for me. Yammer on about maple syrup and tastiness of same back home. Ogle all the great tattoos.
– Wandered around the Saturday Market and some junk shops. Started in with my tired “you know this is the sort of thing that everyone has in their barns back home and here they sell it to you for $50” spil. My friends are very nice to ignore this.
– Checked in to crazy hotel where the gal at the desk asked me “Oh are you part of the Arizona Wests, they’re a wealthy rancher family…” I felt like I let her down a bit when I said no. Despite this, the rooms were nice. Fancy hotel but still, free Internet and coffee.
– Dinner with Josh and Angela at Bush Garden. Very nice chill time before the crazy party.
Crazy party.
– Planning meeting with MeFi heads of State at a suitably late hour the next day. TravelFilter launches this week sometime. It will be fun.
– Got in touch with my friend Lisa DeGrace and spent a few hours helping her prepare for her Sundance Ceremony and also getting coffee and shopping for toilets.
– I got a haircut at Rudy’s. It looks great. For future reference, my barber told me that the cut I like is a “Graduated A-line Bob” Good.
– Hangout time with Steve and Sara including Lebanese food that was totally OMG tasty. Stayed up too late.
– Chill out day the next day. Then walk around time checking out the library. Then dinner time with Steve and Sara and Hiram and Melissa (two new MeFi friends) including some excellent dessert and the movie Valley Girl projected on to the back wall of the dessert place.
– Dropped at airport, redeye home, work and doctor’s appointment, then bedtime.

away and return

I was away. MetaFilter had an eighth anniversary party in Portland Oregon and I got flown out to attend. I also got to see some friends I haven’t seen in a while and meet some new ones. I like Portland. It feels like Seattle did when I first got there, before Seattle got hinky and most of my friends moved away. The MeFi party was at Ground Kontrol, a video game and pinball arcade. MetaFilter sprung for free games all night and an open bar. Maybe 120-130 people showed up over the course of the evening, some I knew, some I didn’t know. I got a high schore on Tempest but it didn’t last. I did some more hangout stuff over the weekend — photos and links forthcoming — but now I have the “I waited to come home til the last minute” problem where I was on the redeye last night and I’m at work today. Sleepily at work.

wallet reunion!

penny farthing
So I got my wallet back yesterday and on the way to getting it back, I had a party. Let me explain.

I left my wallet at the mall somehow on Friday, I have no idea how. Casey and Sandee — who live in New Hampshire nearish to the mall — offered to go to the mall to pick it up. I asked them what would be a good way to meet up to exchange it and they said “Why don’t we come to your place to grill stuff on the 4th?” Sounded good to me. I invited some other people.

They went to the mall where my wallet was locked in a safe that very few people knew how to open, but they persevered. I got a lot of definite maybes from people who already had some stuff to do on the 4th. After the parade (photos of all of this here) I came back to do some prep work. I made turkey/pork burgers, two salads, some angel food cake and cut up some peppers (for the grill) and strawberries (for the cake). I also had some Spirit of America Little Debbie cakes because I thought they were hilarious and they were on sale at the dented can store.

My wallet was returned to me. People came to eat food. We had a good time. It rained like the bejesus. I was a little pleasantly surprised that except for cash money (which I had to borrow from a friend for things like eating) I could safely do without everything in my wallet for almost a week. I don’t really need my library cards to check out books. I didn’t need to buy anything on credit. I wasn’t flying and didn’t get pulled over while driving. The supermarket let me use their discount card. I didn’t need emergency road service or health care.

Today one of my projects is to take all my stuff in my wallet and photocopy it so that if I ever lost my wallet for real, I can more easily straighten this all out. I’m also going to take a dremel tool to my health care card which has my social security number on the front of it. I had previously crossed it out with permanent marker, but I think it’s time to make a stronger statement.

odd little iphone day

I did not get an iPhone. I’ve been a cell phone user for about two months now, I don’t need a cell phone that costs more than I make in a month at one of my jobs. Oh, and they don’t have service in Vermont. I’m sure you can use them here, but I wouldn’t be able to get an 802 number. However, I was definitely iPhone curious so when my friend Casey said he was going down to the Rockingham Mall to wait in line, I said I’d swing by and say hello and see what was happening. It was a good time. I took a few pictures. I made a little video. I watched my Flickr photostream fill up with pictures of people with their new phones.

Once Casey got his phone registered we messed around with it a bunch. The interface is impressive. It’s not Mac-like at all, and to me it felt sort of intuitive, but I’ve been around computers a lot. It does some pretty basic things fairly well: phone calls, photos, video-watching, music playing (great speakers actually) and has some really killer mapping tools. The on-screen keyboard is a little tough for people with big hands and as near as I can tell there’s no other way to interact with it. It took forever to sync up the first time. And, of course, it’s $600 or so. The line-waiting experience was so weird, so staged, so hypey but the people were really nice and chummy. I like geeks. I even met a guy who had been linked on MetaFilter which was a fun story.

The last time I can remember waiting in a really long line for anything that wasn’t food in Eastern Europe, a roller coaster ride, or airport security, I think I was buying Violent Femmes concert tickets in high school. We camped out overnight in Boston and got fourth row seats. This was before Ticketmaster was a huge Internet business so if you waited in the big line at the box office you’d wind up with something good. There were maybe 100 people in line at the Apple Store when I stopped counting and I think the bulk of them wound up with phones. While Casey was making his purchase I noticed that the store model phones were active so I stood around making iPhone calls while he finalized his purchase.

At some point in the whole crazy mall experience — when do I ever go to malls anymore? never — I misplaced my wallet which I realized the next day right before I headed home. After a few phone calls it turns out that the mall security people had it and all my crap was still in it. I had spent a lot of the drive back making a mental list of what was in my wallet [credit cards and library cards mostly] and getting to not spend the rest of my saturday reporting all my stuff missing or stolen turned out to be the high point of what was still otherwise a very entertaining start to my weekend.

note: for those of you who were wonderng why you couldn’t comment all of the sudden (this past month) without being part of my “team” it was just a momentary blip. I suddenly got a ton of comment spam while I was on the road, turned comments off until I could deal with it and then… forgot. Feel free to comment away. Thanks to Kate for pointing this out.