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.

about me, sort of

I know the whole universe sometimes seems like it’s just this blog now, but there’s a lot here. I did update the “about me” page today, for the first time in a few years. I didn’t write anything new, just copied the Valley News article that was published about me and now no longer online, in flagrant violation of applicable copyright. I guess if there’s one thing that blogs and continuous partial broadcasting have taught us, it’s that there’s never a whole story. So this is another freeze frame from back when that article was written. Close readers will notice a few teeny inaccuracies, but it’s really mostly right. I added a few hyperlinks but otherwise it’s just how it was in the newspaper.

update: in the “weird timing” category, I ran into Valley News writer Alex Hanson, who wrote this article, at Onion Flats this evening where I went for dinner. I don’t think I’ve seen him since the interview.