Thursday, September 20, 2007

Vacation and Dumping My Computer

Hello everyone!

I'm back!

For those who have no idea that I went anywhere, well I did. And now I'm back. More on that in a moment.

But first, I want to talk about what I returned to. Or should I say, what I didn't return to. What didn't I return to?

A computer that worked.

Now, I do realize that it had been four years since I first purchased my spiffy eMachines T2482 desktop computer, but I never expected it to just throw in the towel so suddenly. Was it the fact that I was gone for a week? I promise, I didn't use any other computers while I was gone. I was still as hopelessly devoted to you while I was away, eMachines T2482, as I was that fateful summer afternoon in 2003 when I first laid my eyes on you in Circuit City in Springfield. There was a sale...

At first, I blamed myself. I mean, I was kinda heavy-handed with my typing. Also, I would download several updates while simultaneously watching a video on YouTube, searching MySpace, listening to a song on Pandora, and writing a paper in MS Word 2000. A lesser person would have dumped you just for having "2000" in the name of one of your programs. Not me.

But then I began to realize that you were giving up on me, not the other way around. Still, I had a difficult time coming to terms with it.

Until I met Toshiba A215-S4757, that is!

You know what, eMachines T2482? You were holding me back! That's right, you were cramping my style! I mean, Toshiba A215-S4757 is a laptop. That means I can go anywhere I want with Toshiba A215-S4757, but with you I had to either stay home with you or sneak around and use one of the computers at the LCC computer lab. That's right, I used other computers behind your back. Where do you think those documents on the flash drive came from? Don't act like you didn't know what was going on!

But now I don't have to sneak around and use those anonymous machines at the lab! See, Toshiba A215-S4757 gives me the freedom I never had with you, eMachines T2482! Or should I say, "Desktop Dumbass"!

But that's okay. We had some good times together, eMachines T2482. But really, Toshiba A215-S4757 showed me just what a cheap tramp you are. I mean, come on, selling yourself for $30 on ebay? How could I possibly respect you, eMachines T2482, after that?

Look, don't make things any more difficult than they already are. Just take your things and leave. Yes, you can keep the floppy disc drive, but the printer, wireless mouse, monitor, speakers, and keyboard all stay with me. I know you need all that stuff, but you're just going to have to find someone else to give it to you. Really, it's for the best.

Anyway, onto the trip...

The whole point of it was to visit Cathy's family in New England. I have to admit that initially I wasn't thrilled about the whole idea of spending time with a bunch of (mostly) old people that I've never met. There was talk about this being the last time we'd all get to be together because everyone was old and hanging in there for us to come out and visit before they pass on and that we'd be horrible, selfish people if we didn't come out, no matter what we had planned.

Incidentally, Cathy and I had had something radically different planned. But we only had so much vacation time available, so New England it was, whether we liked it or not.

But I have to admit, I had a great time. I had heard stories about Cathy's family, how they're all "crazy" and that this was going to be a long seven days. But really, they were all great, and I'm not just saying that in case one of them reads this!

Besides, with a family like mine, I'm used to "crazy" relatives!

We flew out of Portland. On the way to the airport, we saw the strangest thing:

That's right, it's a truckload of soy sauce. Who would need this much soy sauce? I had visions of going to a gas station and being asked if I want regular, super unleaded, or soy sauce. It's not even Kikkoman, for crying out loud!

Our flight went from Portland, Oregon to Manchester, New Hampshire via Atlanta, Georgia. Now I know that anyone with a Rand McNally road atlas, a globe, or Google Earth would be asking, "Why would you go through Atlanta if you were going to New Hampshire from Portland?" Well the answer is...


Well, I'm not sure why. But it was cheaper that way, so there you go.

On our flight from Atlanta to Manchester just before we left the gate, the flight attendant got on the loudspeaker and said, "This is a non-stop flight to Burlington, Vermont..." Immediately, everyone on the plane (about 50 people--it was a small plane) simultaneously gasped. A couple people said, "You mean Manchester, right?" He got back on the loudspeaker and said, "Sorry, that's Manchester, not Burlington," and all 50 people simultaneously exhaled with such force that I thought the sudden increase in air pressure would rip apart the plane if it hadn't been designed to handle rapid air pressure changes.

We made it to New Hampshire and hung out for a few days at Cathy's Grandma Taylor's house:

This was my first time meeting Cathy's mom's side of the family. Her Grandma is 94 years old and still living on her own.

I guess some developmental company was in the process of finalizing a deal to buy her property. Their plans include demolishing the house and then building a road and 7-8 new houses. I had mixed feelings about it. I got to see the blueprints, and they were going to include public green space, walking trails, and lots of natural forest around each of the lots (they had about 10 acres to work with). And the house was in pretty rough shape after years of neglect, so it probably wasn't worth repairing. But still, all I kept thinking was that there were a lot of memories that were going to be destroyed with the house, and they weren't even my memories.

The house bordered a small farm:

Have you ever seen corn that tall? Well, now you have! We didn't find any children living in it, though. And no dead baseball players came out ready to play a game, either.

We walked through the corn and ended up at the Nashua River:

It was very quaint. Incidentally, "quaint" was the appropriate word to describe everything in New England.

Along the river was the New Hampshire-Massachusetts state line, and there was a stone marker to, well, mark the border:

I'm not sure why there's a border marker in the middle of nowhere, but I had fun jumping to one side and saying, "I'm in New Hampshire!" and jumping back and saying "I'm in Massachusetts!" over and over again. I think everyone else was annoyed by the eighteenth time I did it. That didn't stop me from doing it another 65 more times!

We got to enjoy some of the wildlife more than they enjoyed us:

Does this picture make my fingers look fat?

Here's a baby snapping turtle being held by Uncle Jim:

He looks thrilled (the turtle, not Jim).

I like this shot:

It's a frog in a puddle with the clouds reflected in the water. I didn't intend for the reflection to end up in the shot, but it did, and I'm not complaining.

They do weird things in New England:

Nobody in our group had any idea what "Meat Bingo" is. We wondered if it's regular bingo with meat awarded to the winners, or if meat was somehow involved in the actual game play. Did they use, say, pepperoni slices to mark their card? Or was a piece of pork on a fork dipped in barbecue sauce used to stamp the cards? Or maybe types of meat were used in place of the B-I-N-G-O letters: "Pork chop 34! Brisket 49! T-bone 11! Ground chuck 62!"

Alas, the event happened before we got there, so we'll never know.

Not only do I not know what Meat Bingo is, I have no idea what an "Ass-Plus Community" is:

I tried a local carbonated beverage called "Moxie":

Moxie is somewhere between cola and root beer and... raw sewage. I drank a couple liters of it, though, mainly because I needed something to mix with the booze.

I had heard that New Englanders love Moxie, but most of the New Englanders we came across either didn't like it, had never tried it, or had never heard of it.

I do find the guy in the orange jacket pointing at me to be a bit threatening, though.

And speaking of booze, here are the before and after photos:

You may notice there are more bottles in the "after" picture than in the "before" one. Well, that's because we went back to the liquor store a few times!

New Hampshire liquor stores are funny. They're state run like Oregon and Idaho, but they're about ten time the size. Since the three of us (Cathy, her sister, and I) couldn't agree on what to get, we decided to buy a bunch of the little bottles.

I suppose I should explain the purpose of the booze in the first place. It started out as a joke: "We're going to need a bottle of booze to get through this week," turned into "Well, maybe it would be nice to be able to have a swig every now and again to take the edge off," and then turned back into "We're going to need a bottle of booze to get through this week," except no longer joking. Unfortunately, being the dumbass I am, I bought a bottle here in Oregon and proceeded to forget to pack it. So it was off to the liquor store for us.

By the way, mixing Bailey's and Pepsi--bad idea!

We also went to Target. Cathy's sister lives in Alaska, and they don't have any Targets (yet), so whenever we hang out with her in the lower 48, we have to go to the local Target.

The one in Nashua was cool, though, because it had two stories. A two story store is usually not a big deal. The JC Penney'ses and Macy'ses of the world are usually two stories, but have you ever seen a shopping cart in one of those stores? Neither have I. But every Target I've been to is loaded with those red plastic carts. Of course, this presents a problem because you can't take a cart up and down an escalator. This Target solved that problem by building an escalator specifically for carts:

Of course, I had to get a cart just so I could try out the cart escalator!

Interestingly enough, there was a Latino family speaking Spanish in the store. We were almost as far away from Latin America as we could be while remaining in the US, but there they were. This amused me because I knew that it would really piss off the xenophobes out there, though I know this family probably has to deal with a bunch of crap from them all the time.

After New Hampshire, it was off to Vermont to see our friend Kate. We passed a cool waterfall along the way:

My first thought was that I should try to climb it. But thankfully, there was a sign to explain to me how stupid my idea was:

I guess people wised up by 1978. It's a good thing, too, because they were running out of room on the sign!

We made it to the small, quaint town of Warren to hang out with Kate for a few hours. I don't have any pictures of that, though. Just imagine Kate in a small, quaint town. If you don't know Kate, just picture someone you don't know in a small, quaint town. If you don't know Kate and you've never been to a small, quaint town, just imagine someone you don't know in some place you've never been to.

We then headed to Massachusetts to visit Cathy's Dad's side of the family. On the way, we went back through New Hampshire and passed two coach buses on the freeway. The one in the back was ordinary enough, but the one in the front said "McCain 2008" all over it. "Holy shit, it's The Straight Talk Express!" We couldn't take any photos because by this time, it was dark outside, but the bus's interior lights were on, and we could see inside. "Hey, that's the back of John McCain's white, combed-over head!"

Of course, it would have been much more exciting to see someone with a better chance of winning the election--someone like Tom Tancredo, Mike Gravel, or Richard Nixon's rotting corpse. But hey, what can you do?

Eventually, we made it to Massachusetts. There was a different sort of wildlife there:

For the first time, I got to see turkeys fly. It's just like seeing pigs fly, except the pigs are smaller and have feathers, wings, and a beak.

We also went cranberry picking. Here's what cranberries look like:

And I always thought they were shaped like a can.

This was also when I learned how to pronounce Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg. I never said I learned how to properly pronounce it.

Later we crawled under a fence (not realizing there was an open gate just a few feet away) to go see an old stone church:

The photo is dark, but I like it that way. It's foreboding!

Cathy's other Grandma was pretty cool, too. She had a bunch of jigsaw puzzles that we worked on. Finally, she dug out the puzzle that "no one has ever been able to put together." Of course, we had to try, and Grandma kept stopping by and saying things like "I should have given you one of the easy 300 piece puzzles, instead," and, "This one's too hard. Why don't you try an easier one?"

That only encouraged us more. Eight hours later:

We had help on this one from Cousin P.J. He's a pyrotechnician and gets to blow stuff up for a living. He's also the only Asian person I've ever met with a New England accent, so that makes him double cool in my book! Here's a video of his work:

Finally, we flew back to Portland, drove for two hours to Eugene, and made it home to my broken computer. Since then, I've been busy getting a new computer, getting my books for school that starts Monday, trying to figure out what the deal is with my financial aid, and working the whole time. Vacation is definitely over!

Today is a good day to call in sick. Where's my phone?


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Anonymous Greg said...

Holy crap, that is the longest blog entry in history. I checked. I only read the first paragraph, and then I got tired.
Call me when the movie is released.

10:17 PM, September 26, 2007  
Blogger Rob said...

What can I say--photos take up a lot of space.

10:40 PM, September 26, 2007  

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