Friday, May 13, 2005

It's been a week since I last posted!

Well, it's been quite a week! After my last post (a week ago), I spent most of the week at the STC conference in Seattle. I stayed at the Sheraton in Seattle, a hotel I've always enjoyed. Most of my time was taken up with Board meetings of one kind or another. When I wasn't doing Board meetings, I was doing grip-and-grin and face time. The biggest problems were finding a breakfast with actual protein for under $20 (the Sheraton is phenomenally expensive) and getting up in time to find it before the Board meetings.

My duties on Saturday evening were actually quite light and I was able to slip off to the monthly Vanguard party and see a lot of old friends from years and even decades ago. It was held in a gorgeous old Craftsman house on Capitol Hill--I was looking at a lot of things and getting ideas for our house (which is contemporary Craftsman).

Sidenote: I miss Seattle, darnit! I'd really like to live there again, but I don't have the half-million bucks or more to buy the house I'd like to have.

But despite having too many morning people there, it was rather nice. There wasn't anything particularly unexpected about what went on at the Board meetings (I've been on a Board of Directors before), but it was the kind of situation where I listened a lot and tried to get as much context and history as I could. The Goddess of Goodness joined me for the banquet and looked faaaaaabulous in a black dress with white scalloped edges and a lot of pearlescent sequins. The next Board meeting's coming up in September in Denver (a lovely town).

Wednesday night, I went to dinner with a bunch of friends. In the course of swapping stories, I heard one that I must pass on... but there's a back story to it, as follows:

The former g/f and I went to Vegas over the Christmas weekend, 1996. It was a pleasant little vacation. We saw Rita Rudner, a stand-up comedian I’ve always liked. The funniest joke she told during her act was “Hypnotists are really big in Las Vegas right now. [They were—we’d seen ads for at least three different hypnotists.] The best hypnotists around are Siegfried and Roy. They come out on stage and say ‘Hi, I’m Siegfried.’ ‘Hi, I’m Roy.’ And then they just stare at you. And for one brief moment, you’re utterly convinced that they’re heterosexual.”

But I digress from the back story. So, anyway, while we were there, we were mungeing around downtown and stopped in at Bally’s late at night for food. It was maybe an hour before Christmas Eve officially started, so there were perhaps half a dozen people in line for the restaurant in this huge marble foyer that was designed to hold maybe 150. There were these two young guys in their early 20s talking animatedly behind us in line. They were spouting numbers, letters, and acronyms, and talking about Igor. I first figured that they were role-playing gamers, D&Ders, or computer gamers of some kind and that Igor was a player character of their’s. I rapidly came to understand that they were chess players: one of them was carrying a large folding chessboard and I realized that it was chess moves. One of them was reading from a book of games and saying “...So {move, move, move, move, move} produces an ending that’s only so-so, but if he’d instead done {move, move, move, move, move}, he would have had a much more impressive finish.” Okay, but the phrase “But Igor would do....” kept coming up and I couldn’t figure out what was going on.

Things became clearer when Igor showed up from the restaurant, a tall, slovenly, and really bombed Russian who asked where the professor was (I gathered that everyone was down in Vegas for some kind of chess tournament and being squired about by a professor). The two guys said that the professor was down on the casino floor--we were upstairs--playing blackjack. Igor was telling them about his great love and admiration for the professor and proceeded to pull a folded piece of paper from his pocket and started reading them a poem he’d written to this effect. There was the careful waving of the index finger on the free hand to emphasize the passages and he swayed back and forth slightly during the process. The two guys managed to defuse him and he shambled off downstairs in search of the professor, whereupon the two went back to talking about chess games.

Now, I didn’t come up with this line, it’s an old joke, and you’ve all probably heard it before, but it was the perfect application for it: I leaned forward to the g/f and said in a low voice, “You know, I do so love hearing chess nuts boasting in an open foyer.”

She didn’t like it at all.

A person could go their whooooooooooooole life and not have a setup like that. The Gods were very good to me that Christmas season.

So, as the looks of horror and gasping noises were dying down, Brian McCaleb said that he had a story to share. He wasn't trying to top mine, he said, but it was definitely in the same genré:

Many years ago, when Brian was in college, he had a Dodge van. It was the same Dodge van we all knew: a big, clunky box that had the engine sticking up between the driver's and passenger's seats. (I had been riding shotgun in one of those about the same time as Brian's story and even leaning on the engine cover when it blew two rods right through the oil pan. Exciting stuff!) It was the night of Brian's first date with a woman named Glorietta. He was showing her all the great things he'd done to trick out the van. They climbed into the front, he stuck the key in the ignition, turned it, and nothing happened. Drat! He pulls the engine cover up and peers in. Glorietta, from the passenger seat, said "What's wrong?" Brian looked up and responded "Sick transit, Glorietta."

My punchline may have a classic charm, but Brian's is multilingual and much more elegant. Personally, I think he takes the prize.

After dinner (nobody pummeled us), I went back to the hotel and dropped a few things off and then had a chance to get out and see an old friend. We stayed up talking until 2:00am. It was great but I stayed out waaaaaay too late, as I had to drive south in the morning. I headed back to the hotel, caught up on email for an hour, and fell over, knowing that it was going to be a long day.

I picked up a couple friends on the way out of town and dropped them at SeaTac Airport. It wasn't significantly out of my way and it gave me a chance to spend a half-hour with them when we weren't being surrounded by people. Packing up the car was a challenge, as I was travelling heavy and they were, too, but I was able to get us squeezed in with a truly amazing quantity of luggage in the back of the Subaru. It'd have been hard to do this for hours on end, but it worked for half an hour well enough and I do so like spending time with these two.

From there, I hit I-5 south. I discovered that the rack of cassettes I'd grabbed didn't have tapes in all the cassette cases, so my music selection was seriously limited, but I survived. I caught up with a few phone calls, listened to music, and bombed on down the road.

I almost ran out of gas around the Jefferson turnoff (exit 244), so I turned off to find a gas station. Silly me: there isn't anything until you actually get to Jefferson, which is 6 miles to the east. It was a very pretty drive and downtown Jefferson (pop. 2580 as of July 2002). Downtown Jefferson and the trip there and back is actually pretty enough to merit a sidetrip from the freeway just to see it... but the gas station was all the way on the far side of it, which had me quite worried that I'd not find one in town and be in deep kimchee for sure.

Suitably filled up, I headed south again. I stopped in Lebanon for a break, grabbed coffee with an old friend who I'd never actually met face to face before (we'd always been in vastly different parts of the country until just recently), and got home. After emptying the car and getting a quick sandblast--it was a very long, hot day--we curled up and watched "ER" and I fell asleep.

It's good to be home again.


No comments: