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Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Category: Memories (page 2 of 3)

Will Prevaricate To Prove A Point

This one’s going to be a bit weird, and may not make a whole lot of sense. I apologize in advance. However, since I’ve sort of glided by on a string of very small posts for most of the last few entries, I figured I’d give my lovely readership a bit of something more substantial to digest. As it were.

The scene is… some sort of event, many years ago. I was a young’un, not yet a teenager even. It may have been a county fair. There’s a chance it was a boat show at the Expo Center. I’m fairly certain that the venue was covered, but don’t hold me to that. The point is that there were various things to see and do, and my family was seeing and doing. Mostly seeing.

The cast consists of myself and… well, probably Sis and maybe Mom and I kind of think that her mother was with us, but I can’t be sure. We were a small group, maybe four or five of us, so maybe step-grandpa was with us, or maybe one out of the string of men in Mom’s life. Maybe it was random other people.

Yes, I’m filing this under “Memories.” Yes, my memory really is this hazy for much of my early life. Deal with it.

At this event we came across a handwriting analysis booth. That’s right, the deal was that if you write a sentence (very likely the best-known of the pangrams, “The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog.”), they’ll tell you what kind of person you are. I was young, bored and gullible, so I gave it a shot. This is back when I could still more-or-less write in cursive.

I don’t remember what else was on the analysis sheet they gave me, though I’m sure it included concepts like “too snarky for his own good” and “probably needs to get out more.” What statement I found interesting was, “will prevaricate to prove a point.” I thought that was an awfully nice thing to say about me. Hey, it sounded good. A big word like that must mean something bold and positive, right?

The elders with whom I traveled finally set me straight. “Prevaricate means lie, Karel.”

Oh.

Looking back, I probably took it to mean something like “persevere.” Ah, well. I was young.

I wasn’t too young to recognize the truth of it, though. There’s always been a part of me willing to sacrifice a bit of truth to convince people of something. Even in my darker days I didn’t really lie all that much about what I had or hadn’t actually done. It’s more a matter of being in a debate and exaggerating my chosen example which illustrates why I’m right. (Of course I’m right. Right?)

And thanks to that handwriting analysis, I keep this fact in the back of my head as often as possible so I don’t let that impulse run away with me. At least, not any more than I can catch myself doing…

Much At Steak

I suppose it’s long past time that I told you about my Denver trip. I’ve only been promising the story for a few months. Yes, I’m a world-class procrastinator.

The Denver story is less about why I went (to learn how to use the systems management interface at my new job) than it is about the dinners I ate. No, really. It’s all about steak, where we found steak, how good the steak was, and the journeys to and from the steak.

What? I like steak.

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They’re both teenagers now? Save me!

My daughter turns 13 today. I am the father of teenagers. Does this frighten anyone else, or is it just me?

Since my mid-week visits tend to run between an hour and two hours in duration, I decided to make Saturday a “father/daughter day” as a kind of early celebration and present. We didn’t do anything too terribly exciting, mind you. The first order of business was food, so we hit the mall for Arby’s sandwiches. While there we also introduced her to the tacky but amusing electronics wonderland that is Radio Shack, and we perused a few other shops (like the occasionally-evil Suncoast, where they had R.O.D. TV #1 on sale… ahem).

After the mall, being the jet-setting family that we are, the plan of action became “go home and play games and watch a movie.” So we worked on her healer Empathy Defender for a while (with some help from a friend in Seattle) and finished the day by kicking back and watching Castle of Cagliostro, one of my all-time favorite movies.

I am reliably informed that she had a good time on Saturday. Hopefully she’ll like her other present, too…

(Happy birthday, kiddo!)

My First Compy

This News.com.com story takes some famous names in the IT biz and asks them each what their first computer was. Then the story invites readers to share their own “first computer” info.

But… you have to subscribe to their website to do so. Wow, no, thanks, I’ll just… hey! I have my own site!

Anyway. I must have been about twelve years old, as I’m pretty sure this was during the later stretch of Mom’s marriage to Mike Schomler, and we were living in the (rather nice) double-wide on the hillside above the Westerdahl property. (My stepdad worked for them at the time. I’ll have to tell some more stories about those years, later, won’t I?) I don’t remember how I came into possession of such a thing, but my first computer was a quirky self-contained lump of metal and plastic dubbed the Commodore PET 2001. It sported a built-in (cassette) tape drive and a quaint chiclet-style keyboard. Yes, it was many years later that I learned to touch-type, as it’s nigh-impossible to do so on a purely rectangular layout. Almost all of the actual programming (from scratch) that I’ve ever done in my life was on that machine, though. Hell, I even still have some of the tapes… though I’m pretty sure they’re degraded beyond all use, now, if not entirely copied over with music I recorded from the radio. (My other favorite toy during those years was my portable cassette/radio deck, after all.)

While I made use of a variety of other machines (those of friends and classrooms) in the years since I gave up on the PET, it wasn’t until the mid-’90s that I owned a computer of my own again. Ah, back when a 486 was a wonder to behold…

Madcap Citybuilding Fun

Among the things the kids and I got up to over the course of last weekend while I was staying at their place was a fun-filled game of Carcassonne. Now, this is one of those games where there are two stages of scoring. Someone who’s far and away in the lead during the main part of the game can get screwed when it comes time to add up partials, farms and trade goods. Case in point:


Alex was blue, Erica was red and I was yellow. He had the trade goods advantage (yes, those are his barrels and textiles at the bottom of the picture) but only one little chunk of farmland. Erica had equal share of The Unfinishable City with me, but I managed to connect both of my farmers, thus cutting her out of that scoring opportunity entirely. (Alex helped, mind you. He didn’t realize until later what a bad idea that was. Heh.)The Unfinishable City? Oh yes, indeed. Let me show you:


This is what happens when the time-honored tradition we call “horning in” is taken to its (il)logical extreme. I started a city, then put my builder on it. Erica positioned herself to horn in on it, and added her builder. Once she succeeded at that, I horned in again to take control of the city, which was followed by her doing the same yet again. She actually tried to get a third meeple into the fray, but it sat on what became the two-point micro-city, because of the straight-through city piece (with the shield) I played above it.Eventually the whole thing became a place to sink city pieces that couldn’t really go anywhere else usefully. By the time the place looked like what you see here, we had only about sixteen tiles left in the bag. No, that thing wasn’t going to be finished, even had I wanted it to be finished.

Ah, I love Carcassonne…

The Great Genesis Road Trip

Back in the distant reaches of time, namely 1992, my distant but still good friend Steve McMullen and I cooked up a scheme. The opportunity to see our all-time favorite band, not just once but twice in the same week, simply could not be passed up. This is back in the days when you could get free tickets to really big concerts just by working at a radio station, and so I procured tickets to the Tacoma Dome show while Steve bought tickets to the Dodger Stadium concert. We both managed to get floor seats, good ones even.

Here’s the catch: the concerts were three days and most of the west coast of the USA apart, and I didn’t drive. (I still don’t, mind you.)

Steve, bless his diehard-fanboy soul, drove up from L.A. to Portland to retrieve me. Wendi and I were living with her folks at the time in that big crowded house on Ivon Street. Steve also arranged crash space with his folks in Seattle so we could catch at least a bit of shuteye before the big drive south.

The Genesis show in Tacoma counts as the first time I’d ever seen my favorite band live on stage, and it was an exceptional show. I especially loved the old medley, as well as some of the longer pieces and the inevitable drum duet.

That night we slept, and early the next morning we started southward. Steve drove almost straight through. We didn’t have the time to actually stop anywhere for the night. Sure, we were fueled by enthusiasm and the energy of the previous night’s show, but that can only carry you so far. I remember a dreary, dry, flat stretch of I-5 in California during which we had no choice but to pull over for a couple of hours and catch some brief shuteye at a rest stop. As it is, we still made it to his place just in time to get a solid night’s (and most of the following day’s) sleep.

My one and only visit to Dodger Stadium involved nothing to do with baseball. This time Steve and I knew (more or less) what to expect, so in some ways we could relax and look beyond the most obvious parts of the live performance and really get a feel for everything that was put into it. The set list was a bit different, but the showmanship still impressed the hell out of us. Mind you, Phil still goofed up the lines to a particular song the same way in both cities, but that was made up for by the amusing change to the lyrics of “I Can’t Dance” for the live performance. All in all, it was another outstanding show.

I crashed on Steve’s living room floor once again, then took the Greyhound home. That was, sad to say, the last time I saw my old friend, though we were in touch for a few months longer. I do wonder what he’s up to nowadays… and what he thinks of the last Genesis album, for that matter. Heh.

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