Posted by: elraymundo at 7:24 am on Tuesday, September 1, 2009
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Euphoria

I just had this conversation with John:

Me: I’m reading the llama Learning PERL book and one of the first things it says is that PERL uses double-precision floating point blah blah blahs for internal computing. Do I care about that? Or is that information just there for people who really want to know?

John: You don’t care. That information is just there for people who really want to know.

Me: That’s good, because I’ve spent half an hour reading about floating-point calculations and I’ve a.l.m.o.s.t got it, but not quite. And I’m tired of reading about significands and radixes and mantissas.

John: You can stop now.

Me: So I don’t need to know what a mantissa is.

John: Correct.

Then we discussed his fantasy football league, which is something I actually do know something about. And the Baby Jesus giggled in his manger because he was warm and wrapped in fuzzy soft cloth.

Diet Coke and an iPod Touch

Posted by: elraymundo at 8:43 pm on Thursday, August 27, 2009
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Euphoria

Happy: a new iPod touch! The venerable iPod Photo finally gave up its ghost - and to my little white mp3 warrior I dedicate this snippet of lyrics:

To the tune of Smoke on the Water

The screen showed a bad icon
Then died with an awful sound
A funky sound was clicking on and off
As the hard drive ground
When it all was over I had to buy a new device
But swiss time was running out
A new iPod touch would be nice
Smoke from my iPod, I think it’s gonna die
Smoke from my iPod, it’s time to say goodbye


Sad: opening the fridge to discover a Diet Coke has exploded inside.

Diet Coke Explosion

Diet Coke Explosion

Calitastrophic Silver Lining

Posted by: elraymundo at 7:02 am on Wednesday, August 26, 2009
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Euphoria

I finally found a silver lining to our catastrophic year in California: the 44 cents we’ll save by not sending Mike Woodward a Christmas card this year.

Mama’s Got A Brand New Car!

Posted by: elraymundo at 9:12 pm on Sunday, July 26, 2009
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Euphoria, Lotus Blossom

Two pics of La Raymunda in her brand new Mazda - it’s a sweet ride!

Debra in her new car

Debra in her new car

Graham Beck and Cave-Aged Gruyère = Happiness

Posted by: elraymundo at 6:33 pm on Tuesday, July 21, 2009
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Euphoria, Lotus Blossom, Liquid Diet

How does it feel to be home again? It feels cave-aged Gruyère and scrumpdillyicious Graham Beck good! And how cool is The Debra? This is what she had waiting for me when I got home from work today. Total score. \m/

Wine and Cheese

Mets 6, Nats 2, Michael 10,000 Megabazillion

Posted by: elraymundo at 6:00 pm on Monday, July 20, 2009
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Euphoria, Friends, Sports

I went to watch the Nats play the Mets with Jeff W on a perfect summer night with soft air slipping around the upper decks as we sipped Newcastle and he kept score and I rambled on about past injustices and hopes for restoration and how good it felt to be back home in a place we hadn’t really realized had become home after all these years and how peaceful and relaxed it was to hang out with an old friend and just freakin’ be and not worry about this and that and the other and backstory and commas and the correct use of the subjunctive and hopefully, I thought and I think said out loud, this will become a common occurrence, me going to the ballgame with Jeff and the sun slowly set and draped the night sky in my favorite cloak of velvet indigo and the Nats got pounded for their 66th loss of the season as they round second heading for third in what may shape up to be the third most futile season in major league history but we still aren’t as bad as the ‘62 Mets so take that you smarmy obnoxious Mets fans. Salute!

Right Field at the Nats Game
I double-dog dare you to find a better way to spend a summer night that doesn’t involve a Brazilian underwear model

Conference on the Mound
Candlesticks always make a nice gift…

Ok, had to add this comment Sue made to me in chat after she read this post. She and Jefferoo live in Boston, just to put things in context.

Sue: There really is nothing like a baseball game on a beautiful summer night
Sue: with 5-6 beers
Sue: and people yelling “fahhhhk you Jetahhh” behind you
Sue: fenway of course :) :)

(Hope you don’t mind my publishing you, Sue!)

Road Tripping USA #3, Day Five

Posted by: elraymundo at 11:40 am on Sunday, July 12, 2009
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Euphoria, Lotus Blossom, Travel, Friends, Jeep

Ah, driving down the road in the Jeep on a gorgeous, soft-aired summer day with a headful of peace of mind, a bellyful of Five Guys cheeseburger and an earful of Ted Nugent’s Stranglehold. Pure bliss.

Ok, so maybe it’s not everybody’s bliss, but it’s my bliss.

La Raymunda and I did the walkthrough of our new townhouse in Herndon today. Debra arranged the rental while we were still in Southern Calipocalypse and the place is great. 2800 square feet of living space with a two-car garage and hardwood floors. The rent is the same as what we paid in Irvine last summer when we rented before buying the house on Stonehaven Drive. The chief difference is that for the same money we get twice as much livable space. Score!!

Our new place is walking distance from the Metro connection in Herndon and just a couple of minutes from the Dulles Toll Road. The supermarket is also within walking distance, as well as restaurants and shopping. There is a Gold’s gym just down the street so I can start dumping all the weight I put on after eating my way through the last several months of turmoil, and Ned Devine’s Irish Pub is two doors down from the gym so I can refresh after my workout. (Just ignore the obvious incongruity there.)

As for the last stretch of our drive across the country, we did it in one fifteen hour shot, driving from Jackson, Tennessee to Virginia and arriving at the townhouse at just before 1:00am Saturday morning. We parked in the driveway, got out of the Jeep and walked up the front steps in the dark and touched the front door to signify the end of the journey home. Then we headed over to Chris and Cindi’s back in our old neighborhood where we are staying until our stuff arrives later this week. Total miles for the cross-country trip was 2841 miles door-to-door and the route was Yorba Linda, CA -> Flagstaff, AZ -> Santa Fe, NM -> Weatherford, OK -> Jackson, TN -> Herndon, VA. Along the way we saw a giant meteor crater, Petrified Forest National Park, the city of Santa Fe, blew through Oklahoma on powerfully gusting winds, ate cheese dip at Stobey’s in Conway, AR and lit our lips on fire at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville. Debra wants to write a guest column about Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, so I won’t say much more than that the place is a Nashville soul food institution and the chicken will burn your lips off. We survived the flames, though, and made it the rest of the way to Virginia.

It’s sure good to be home

Trip Stats
Total Distance: 2,841.68 miles / 4,573.24 kilometers
Arrival Time: 12:50am Saturday July 7
Overall Average Speed: 58.1mph / 93.5kmh
Moving Average Speed: 65.3mph / 105.1kmh
Maximum Speed: 86.6mph / 139.4kmh
Travel Time: 43 hours 30 minutes

Road Tripping USA #3, Day Three

Posted by: elraymundo at 8:31 pm on Wednesday, July 8, 2009
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Jokes, Euphoria, Lotus Blossom, Travel, Jeep

This evening we found the humidity we’d been missing in the perfect climate in Southern Calistupida: it’s in Weatherford, Oklahoma. Something else we found in Weatherford: the proceeds from the sale of the house! Well, the money isn’t actually in Weatherford, but we are and that’s where we looked online to see if the money had been deposited into our account. And hoo-Lawdy there it was. We’ve got our money! Life is good. High-fives all around, my fellow babies!


I may have to rethink my position on Amarillo, Texas. In this post, which I wrote as we crossed the country last June (2008), I described the Texas panhandle as the place “where God ran out of ideas.” That thread evoked an impassioned response from a native of Amarillo who staunchly defended the city. (Check it out - it’s definitely worth reading.) Today, we passed through the area again and to be quite honest it was nowhere near as bad as I recalled it from last year. The weather was nice today - perhaps that was the difference maker. Both Debra and I remember the weather last year as we crossed the Texas panhandle as horizon-to-horizon iron-grey clouds with a fierce, blinding glare from reflected sunlight and high winds that blew crap all over the roads and buffeted the Jeep every which way. Today we had blue skies, 104 degree temperatures and some wind, but nothing insane like it was last year. And as we drove through Amarillo we both commented about it not being such a bad place after all. So, Mr. Amarillo Dude, please accept my apologies. :smile:

I do think, though, that it’s possible Amarillo may have more roadside signs per square inch than anywhere else on earth. Except maybe Vegas.


To the guy we met at the filling station in Tecumcari who lost his wallet in Oklahoma - I hope you made it to Phoenix ok. If we had to do it over again we would have just filled the tank all the way. But I hope we were able to help some and that the nectarine was tasty.


The landscape changes in a hurry once you turn south off I-25 east of Santa Fe and head toward I-40 (assuming you get past the road construction that was underway on every road in New Mexico). The rolling green mountains (not the craggy, granite-y stuff of the Rockies farther north) quickly gave way to scrub lands just north of Santa Rosa, which then flattened out as we turned east and stayed pretty much flat and sagebrush-y until we got to the easternmost part of the Texas panhandle, where the land broke into gently folded canyons cloaked in green. That part was quite pretty. Once we hit Oklahoma the greenery broke into patches of the red clay which Oklahoma is famous for. And somewhere along the line we picked up the humidity. Training sessions for Virginia, I guess.


The enchiladas at Johnny’s Comet II New Mexican restaurant were just as fantastic this time around as they were last year. We both ordered one red, one green. If you’re ever passing through New Mexico on I-40 and hit Santa Rosa, you owe it to yourself to try the enchiladas at Comet II. The restaurant is just off the interstate on Historic Route 66 and the food is affordable and simply out of this world. Service is friendly and fast, too. Sandy, thanks again for the tip!


There is an indelicate joke which goes like this:

Q: What’s the last thing to go through a fly’s mind when it hits your windshield?

A: It’s asshole.

Judging from the looks of the Jeep’s grill and the constant squeegeeing of the windshield I’ve had to do over the last three days, there is a veritable galaxy of sphincters stuck to my vehicle.


Last but not least, Soly and Jovan, thank you sooooo much for your hospitality! It was great to see you both and thank you for putting us up and taking us out downtown and for sharing the fig bodywash. Best I’ve smelled in years. :)

Road Tripping USA #3, Day Two

Posted by: elraymundo at 6:59 am on Wednesday, July 8, 2009
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Euphoria, Lotus Blossom, Travel, Jeep

In the early afternoon on Tuesday, on I-40 just west of Gallup, New Mexico, we finally exhaled.

That’s when Genelle called with the news that our house sale had finally recorded. The loan had funded, the title transferred and we were no longer responsible for the property. The last hook this idiotic year had in our lives was gone.

We’d held our breath for almost four months, from the day in mid-March when I lost my job and we knew we had to sell. Given the way the rest of the year had gone, we only wanted to get rid of the financial obligation before some other shoe dropped and screwed us further. Two offers fell through on the same day, less than a week after the house went up for sale, and the final offer - the one that closed yesterday afternoon - was riddled with delays. Final close, for example, was seven days after the contracted date of June 30. But with that one phone call we felt the burden of the house slip away. We high-fived in the Jeep, laughed and whooped and celebrated as we drove, knowing that now we can really truly get on with our lives.


I smell like figs this morning.

We left Flagstaff late yesterday, not getting out until 10:00am, and after stops at Meteor Crater and Petrified Forest National Park we ended up on the short end of time and decided to take the Interstate to Santa Fe to have dinner with Soledad and Jovan instead of making the long, scenic drive across the top of the state to Taos. I’m glad we did, not only because it was great to catch up with Soledad and to meet her man, Jovan, but because Santa Fe is coooooool.

Soledad took us downtown, where we ended up at The Cowgirl BBQ on Guadalupe Street, drinking margaritas and mojitos and eating appetizers for dinner to celebrate our house closing. The downtown area is built around a central square like many of the South American cities we’ve seen, and the architecture is consistently southwestern, which was great because it gave the downtown area a well-defined sense of place. Cowgirls starts with an open courtyard, jammed with tables and backed by a bar, with an indoor dining area off to the side. The crowd was eclectic and funky - lots of dreadlocks and biker leathers and some mohawks and body piercings - and when I asked Soledad if the crowd was locals or tourists she said, “Both. But if they look a little strange then they’re locals.” The city is filled with art galleries and performing arts centers and seemed very walkable and I was surprised when Soledad told me only 80,000 people live in Santa Fe. I guess I got used to much bigger populations in the LA area, where someplace like Fullerton has over 100,000 residents. Anyway, I’m making a mental note to keep Santa Fe in mind if and when we ever decide to move again.

Oh, one other thing. Soledad and Jovan’s shower: awesome. Great water pressure, heats up quickly, and well-stocked with shampoo and other shower stuff, which is why I smell like figs this morning.


My iPod died as we left Meteor Crater. This did not please me. I reset the stupid thing over and over and all I could manage to get from it was a frowning iPod icon with a message in tiny font telling me to visit Apple’s site on the web. The Debra tried to get me to de-grump by playing ABBA on her iPod - her logic being that no one can be grumpy while listening to ABBA. (I bet Jeff Watson could, though.) So we rolled across the desert listening to Dancing Queen. Miraculously, the iPod started working again at a gas station in Gallup. Unlike a previous well-known resurrection, it only took three hours, not three days, for my iPod to come back to life. And I’m glad that it did. It made celebrating that phone call from Genelle much more fun.


Meteor Crater is HUGE. You can see the rim of the crater as you approach from the north. It looks like a low ridgeline off to the left, but it is actually where the rock and sediment settled after being thrown into the air when a massive meteor impacted 50,000 years ago. The place is privately owned and cost fifteen bucks a pop to get in, but it’s well-maintained and the visitors center has a museum, with a small movie theater and several displays describing meteor impacts, how and why they occur, and the incredible amount of energy and devastation they release when they kiss the earth. The crater itself is 4000 feet across and the sediments around the bowl of the crater were flipped upside-down by the impact: the really-old-stuff is on top, near the rim, and the less-really-old-stuff is near the crater’s floor.

We took a spin through Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert after leaving Meteor Crater. Since we were there at midday the light was no good, but it was worth the drive - especially for the roadside views of Painted Desert, which stretched northward in tumbled red hills and canyons. If you’re into rocks, there are plenty of petrified trees scattered all over the park, with a huge collection at Crystal Forest. Apparently the area used to be low-lying wetlands and when trees fell there, they were instantly immersed and minerals seeped into the wood and what you had left afterward was a petrified tree. I’m no geologist, so having seen one petrified tree I had pretty much seen them all, but it really is interesting stuff if you can catch a ranger talk and explanation of the petrification process.


Debra had a nice moment yesterday. We were driving between Gallup and Albuquerque when she looked backward out her window and suddenly asked me to stop. I took the next exit, for a town called McCartys, and she pointed to a mission built against the north face of a cliff on the south side of the interstate. The church was Mission Santa Maria and I drove along a frontage road until we were directly across from the building with a field between us. “I saw that church seventeen years ago when I came through her with Wendelin,” said The Debra, “and I always wanted to take a picture of it, but I couldn’t then.” She had been watching for the church ever since we crossed the state line and she just happened to look back at the right moment and see it settled on the hillside against the cliff. The light was perfect - it was late afternoon - so I drove among the roads of the ghost town until we got to the base of the hill. Debra happily took pictures and then we returned to I-40 and continued east.


We have a long drive today through eastern New Mexico and the Texas panhandle and into Oklahoma. It doesn’t look like we’ll get an early start since the beautiful wife is still asleep. I’m sort of hoping we can catch one of Oklahoma’s famous late-afternoon thunderstorms.

Hooray for Baguettes and Stinky Cheese!

Posted by: elraymundo at 10:46 pm on Monday, January 5, 2009
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Euphoria, Family

So today wrapped itself up nicely.

I opened my email in a bit of a grumpy snit because The Debra and I are trying to choose the photo we will use for our (late again) Hannamas card. After looking at the same three photos 600 times and with no end in sight and with The Blessed One still unable to make a selection, I autocratically, dictatorially, and - with great sweeping gestures - grumpily  (I’m not patient with these sorts of agonizings, even though they almost always lead to excellent decisions) told my Lotus Blossom that I would email her the pics and she could look at them over and over and over and over (and over) again without me and that I would be more than happy with her choice.

Not only was she able to make the choice without me (and, as I expected, I love her choice), but when I opened my email to send the pics to La Raymunda, I found two Amazon gift certificates in my inbox from my parents, sister, and cousin Damon. Total score!!!

I told my family that normally I would have to say that their gifts were too generous, but since we are currently unable to afford air I told them that this year I heartily and unhesitatingly accept! So I bought the French language software I’ve been jonesing for for the past year and a half and I hereby promise to buy a baguette and some stinky cheese - in French, of course - on each of their behalfs the next time we are in France. Thanks mom and dad and Lisa and Damon!!!

French Software
This is that which will produce stinky cheese.

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