Posted by: elraymundo at 2:10 pm on Monday, June 30, 2008
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Random

Normally I am up before seven in the morning. Usually about six is when I wake up, scratch what needs to be scratched, putter around, wake up, surf a little, make coffee for The Debra - all that sort of thing. But last night we stayed up late watching Fellowship of the Ring and afterwards I read a bit more of the novel to Debra before bed, so falling-asleep time was about 1:00am. So I slept soundly through six o’clock and had just started working on sleeping through seven when my cell phone rang and I awoke to the blunt force trauma of a Christina Cheney banzai charge slash telephone conversation.

I love Christina. Love her to death. Known her since our early days in college (just after her MASSIVE big hair days) and all through her years of dabbling in nascent web industries and into her consulting life and jet-setting between Hawaii and LA and New York. She’s a great, very dear friend. But if a Shelby Cobra could go 0-100-0 in ten seconds then Christina could do it in five. But maybe without the stopping part.

So the phone rang at seven and I answered it in an utter fog and upon my pushing the Answer button and mumbling “This is Michael” I was assaulted by Christina, bayonettes fixed.

I have yet to recover.

sugartits:/ # kill 19560

Posted by: elraymundo at 2:14 am on Monday, June 30, 2008
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Random

I hate samba.

I Love LA Freeways

Posted by: elraymundo at 2:11 am on Saturday, June 28, 2008
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Euphoria

Ask me why I love driving in LA.

“Why do you love driving in LA?”

I love driving in LA for the sheer thrill of slicing across five highway lanes in four tenths of a mile at 80mph in order to get from the I-5/57 on-ramp over to the Orangewood exit. And because no one seems to mind that traffic moves at 80mph! High-speed paradise in 86° weather with the top off the Jeep and the iPod cranked. Yahoo!


Posted by: elraymundo at 2:11 am on Friday, June 27, 2008
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Euphoria, Lotus Blossom

After five hours of man, chown, chmod, %@$#^, and other handy commands, I have phpMyAdmin installed and password protected.

I also have a DDNS service up and running and some other stuff that I cannot remember at the moment. All that and I had time to read Chapter 12: Flight to the Ford from The Lord of the Rings to The Debra earlier this evening. And eat a delicious broiled tiger shrimp in ginger lime sauce dinner, too. (”The shrimp were very nicely priced at one of my international markets, I might add,” mentions La Raymunda.)

Spoiler: Frodo makes it across the river. And Liv Tyler Arwen is nowhere in sight.

Addendum: Please agree with me that sugartits is the perfect hostname for a server. Can I have an amen?

Update: Completed the top-level Books page on the new TeamRaymond site.

I Am A Linux God

Posted by: elraymundo at 11:20 pm on Wednesday, June 25, 2008
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Euphoria

I just turned on Apache and downloaded, moved, and untarred my first tarball.

I even renamed a file.

I am a Linux God!

(Hey, how do I log in as root through the GUI?)

Update: Oooh, I VI’ed a file! boing! boing! boing!

The Fullerton DMV

Posted by: elraymundo at 1:48 am on Wednesday, June 25, 2008
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Lotus Blossom

La Raymunda and I went to the DMV today to register our cars and get our California drivers licenses.

Two soul-crushing hours of my life that I will never get back.

On the positive side, I passed the written 36-question examination on the first try. You’d like to think that after nearly 26 years of doing the same thing over and over again that one would be able to answer a few questions correctly. I did miss four questions, the answers to two of which I strongly disagree with the State of California. For those of you keeping score at home, The Debra missed four questions, too. But we are now both licensed drivers in California and are now legally obligated to submit to CHP breath, blood, and urine tests at any time.

On the negative side, I didn’t get the Jeep smogged before I tried to register it. The mumbling young lad behind the desk took my $184 and then told me that he couldn’t give me a valid registration until I had the Jeep smogged. California, however, now has my valid 184 dollars. So after I get the Jeep smogged I get to go back to the DMV and have more of my life-force sucked out of me.

Why Details Matter

Posted by: elraymundo at 1:39 am on Wednesday, June 11, 2008
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Random

Reason #1 why restaurants should make sure all the letters in their neon signs work:

When the “G” in “Black Angus” burns out it ceases to say “Black Angus” and instead says “Black Anus” and, well, that just isn’t nearly as appetizing, is it?

A Long Post Written on a BlackBerry while Driving through Texas and New Mexico

Posted by: elraymundo at 8:29 pm on Wednesday, June 4, 2008
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Random

The Texas panhandle is where God ran out of ideas.

Or, as La Raymunda put it as we drove through Amarillo, “What a horrible, horrible place. Yuck.”

We’re on Day Four of our second trip across the United States in the last six weeks. Whereas we took the Jeep to Southern California via a northern route that passed through Minnesota and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, this time we are taking a more direct route along Interstate 40.

La Raymunda just proclaimed the Texas panhandle west of Amarillo as unsuitable for human habitation. “What a miserable place!” Then she made a face like she’d just eaten a squishy, rotten fruit. Then she added another “miserable!” for emphasis.

It really is miserable here in Texas. The temperature is 98 degrees, the wind is blowing almost 30 miles an hour (that’s roughly 37 degrees and 48kms/hour for you Euros), and there is a white, glaring, dust-filled haze that blocks the sky from horizon to horizon. Most of the trees we see (and there aren’t many) are dead, the buildings are nasty-looking and dilapidated and there is virtually nothing but stunted, dessicated grass stretching away to eternity in every direction. Surely this is where the lost and the damned go to die.

Other than that, it’s not a bad place at all.

We left Virginia on Sunday June 1st, coming south on I-81, spending most of the day in Virginia before finally picking up I-40 shortly after crossing into northeastern Tennessee. We spent the night in Knoxville and, after crossing the Mississippi into Arkansas the next evening, The Debra wondered how we could have only been in two states after two solid days of driving. “Last time, with the Jeep, we went through ten states in two days.” Which is true, I said, but this time the states are bigger. It’d been a long time since I’d driven through Tennessee the long way and I’d forgotten how long it took.

In Knoxville we ate at a restaurant called The Restaraunt of Doom. We ordered a plate of fried green tomatoes for an appetizer. After the server brought them to the table she asked for the rest of the order.

“Do the noodles that come with the seared ahi tuna have any peanut oil?” asked Debra, who is very allergic to all things peanut. The server said that yes, as a matter of fact they were drenched in peanut oil. “For that matter,” the server continued, “so are those fried green tomatoes you’re about to eat.”

The server went on blithely to say that they fried everything in peanut oil, eliminating half the menu options in one shot, then said that they used peanut oil in the au jus, which was the base for the gravies and sauces used in the items on the other half of the menu.

Debra leaned across the table and whispered, “I think they’re trying to kill me here.”

Anyway, after a long conversation with both the server and her manager about the joys of extreme peanut allergies (nausea, projectile vomiting and death), Debra managed to special-order a dish that would not make her barf or her head explode. The whole episode reminded Debra of a time when a vendor she worked with during her time with Time Warner Cable - a vendor whom she had difficult relations with - once left her a well-intentioned gift basket on the desk in her hotel room during a conference. The gift basket was stuffed with peanut brittle, peanut butter and crackers, peanut spread and granola bars made with peanuts. She called it the Assassination Basket.

We just passed a big yellow sign saying, “Welcome to New Mexico”. “Thank God we’re out of Texas,” said Debra.

The landscape has changed already. There are distant mesas on the horizon, the glaring haze has given way to clouds and blue skies and the wind has even died down. I bet gas prices are lower here, too, and everyone sings with soft, angelic voices.

Memphis was a let-down. We wanted to eat dinner at a barbeque place recommended by Mark Furstenberg, but it was Monday and the place was closed. So we crossed the Mississippi into Arkansas and headed 100 miles or so north to Caruthersville, which sits in the bottom of the Missouri boot heel, fronts the Mississippi River, and is the birthplace and hometown of one William H. Dorsey III, Debra’s step-father.

If I recall correctly, the sign at the town limits said 7,670 souls lived in Caruthersville, and that it was the county seat of Pemiscot County. President Harry Truman, a Missouri native, visited the town on many occasions and has a street named after him. In fact, William’s father served in Washington, D.C. with Truman during the Truman administration. Two streets are named after relatives of William’s: Ward Street, which is one of the main drags through town, is named for his great grandfather and there is a smaller residential street named after the Schult side of his family. There’s even a white stone bench sitting out front of the public library which is dedicated to William’s aunt. The name Helen Jacobs Schult is chiseled in beautiful letters on the front edge of the bench.

Caruthersville struck me as a timeless place, where not a lot has probably changed in sixty years. The river still chugs by, occasionally overflowing its banks (by over 40 feet in 1997), the downtown streets see more foot traffic than cars (although not much of either) and where everyone knows everyone, from the hotel clerk and the waitress at the Roundhouse Restaurant to the clerks at the post office.

Tuesday we left Caruthersville and dipped south again into Arkansas, where we picked up I-40 again and turned back west. We were headed for El Reno, Oklahoma, my own father’s hometown and old stomping grounds. I still have a lot of family out there and when we pulled into town we were met by two aunts, one uncle, four cousins, three spouse-in-laws, a youngin and a dog.

We all headed into town, driving through old residential neighborhoods, to eat at Johnnie’s Onion Fried Burgers, a local tradition which was supposed to be DA BOMB. And while the burgers were ok, I have to be honest and say that Five Guys in Virginia still holds the burger title for me. But we had a great time telling stories and catching up on the fifteen years or so which had passed since I’d been in Oklahoma. I’m real glad we made the stop and got the chance to see everyone.

After hanging out in Rachel and Benny’s living room, looking at old photos and taking new ones, we retired to Sarah Wilkins’ home on the other side of town. Sarah and my father have been friends since the early 1800’s and we relaxed and chatted and caught up on days gone by. We slept in (the guest bed at Sarah’s is uber-comfy) and didn’t get out of El Reno until after 11:00.

When we finally did get our butts in gear, we drove out of town on a battered remnant of the old Route 66, which used to run right through El Reno before the Interstate killed it. In Clinton we spent some time looking at some pretty cool exhibits - the rooms are laid out on a decade-by-decade basis - at the Route 66 Museum. The museum has classic cars, signs, music, photos, and artifacts of the different eras, from a psychedlic hippie van to a jukebox playing Elvis. It’s definitely worth stopping to check out.

And now we’re about 40 miles from Santa Rosa, New Mexico. We’re going to try and make it to Carlsbad tonight so we can see Carlsbad Caverns in the morning. But first, it’s been recommended that we stop by Comet in Santa Rosa and sample the red enchiladas. I’ll let you know how it goes.