Jun 09 2008
One thing about writing posts with Google Docs: You can't divide posts into a header and the part-behind-the-cut with it. With the advent of June in the DC area comes summer, and temperatures that one would expect of the South: hot, sunny, too damned bright, and damned hot. If you factor in the high humidity which tends to come with summer, call it "hot enough to not want to get out of the shower, let alone leave the house" and you've got it right. Temperatures on Friday were around 100 degrees Fahrenheit if you factored in the humidity (the 'heat index' that they've started using in the weather forecasts in the past year or two). Saturday was also in the neighborhood of the low hundreds, Sunday a bit higher, and if the forecast was correct, today's supposed to feel like it's 110 degrees Fahrenheit if you're standing in the sun, a bit less if you're in the shade. It isn't the heat so much as it is the humidity. Handling high temperatures isn't a big deal for me (you're talking to someone who walked around wearing cordoroy and a fedora at DefCon a few years ago) but when you start putting moisture into the air, I've got a problem. I suspect that it has something to do with the humidity preventing the cooling mechanisms of my body from transferring heat efficiently by impeding the evaporation of sweat. In hindsight I probably should have gone swimming this weekend, but all I really wanted to do was lay around reading and move as little as possible. It should be noted that we've had the air conditioning turned all the way up since Friday, and it still makes you feel lethargic. Oh, and I also feel the need to grouse a bit about the cost of petrol in DC. The cheapest I've been able to find thus far has been $4us per gallon, with the highest being $4.29us per gallon (all prices for 87 octane, also known as "the cheap stuff"). Those of you who don't live in the United States are probably shrugging and grousing that you've been living with far higher prices than that per litre for gasoline for well over a decade now, and that I shouldn't be complaining. You're probably right, so I'll let the topic drop here. On Friday night Lyssa and I went out to Ledo's Pizzaria in Fairfax to get dinner after work and spend some time catching up because our respective lives have kept us far more busy than they really should be right now, what with arranging travel for the next few months (plus the possibility that I might go back on road warrior duty after my current assignment is up), the wedding, Jill's wedding, and everything else going on. After letting our food digest for a while we drove over to Orthaevelve's place for sparring practice in the front yard, which is something that I'd not yet had a chance to attend for various reasons. Take seven geeks of various and sundry sorts, add a variety of fighting styles and levels of training (from the highly skilled (Hasufin) to the experienced and wild (Lyssa) to someone with a long reach and little else (me)), throw in a handful of wiffle bats, a couple of shinai, and a small selection of bokken, and turn them loose in the front yard so that they can whale on each other for a few hours. After a quick trip to pick up bottled water (because it was still hellishly hot after sunset, and on top of all of that the mosquitos were eating us alive) we fell into a rhythm of selecting a weapon, selecting an opponent, and going to town. No one got hurt during practice, though the odd blunt force trauma from a particularly good shot landing solidly did leave some interesting bruising. Earlier in the night, the workers from the local power company who were assigned to clean up the fallen trees and repair downed lines in the neighborhood took considerable interest in practice, and had they not been on the clock they'd probably have joined in the fun. As they drove away from Orthaevelve's neck of the deck, a few of them honked the horns of their trucks as they drove past us. Saturday wound up not being what any of us had expected. Our original plan was to go to the Maryland Faerie Festival to spend the day but wound up not going because it was too bloody hot. Pluswhich, none of us had clothing particularly conducive to walking around all day and not falling over of heatstroke. I was planning on going in steam-gear but scrubbed that idea because wearing velvet, a waistcoat and a fedora (to keep the sun off) would probably have killed me. Same with Lyssa and her corset and hairfalls. In other forums, the organizers of various and sundry gothic/industrial dance nights were warning people to not overdress for the night, drink water and not alcohol, and to stay home if the humidity would be too much to handle, which definitely says something. While out and about that morning, I found myself within spitting distance of the Vienna Music Exchange on Church Street. To be honest, there isn't much there - it's a converted apartment (a very small apartment, let's be clear) on the second floor of what used to be a townhouse with music racked on the walls and piled two crates deep along most every wall. You literally can't turn around without knocking stuff over. However, if indie label or rare metal of every kind are your thing, this is the place that you want to go. Through a stroke of luck, I found copies of The Pleasure Principle by Gary Numan and the Tron soundtrack on vinyl for less than $20us (though they're going to have to wait until I get the turntables hooked up). What Lyssa and I ultimately wound up doing was driving out to Laurelinde's place in Maryland to pick her up for the weekend. The rest of her family would be out of town for the next few days, and we didn't think that it was a good idea to leave her alone in nasty weather with an ongoing fibromyalgia attack. So, to that end, we hit the store to get stuff for the next day or two and then hit the DC beltway headed for Maryland. It was smooth sailing until we hit exit 33, at which time traffic slowed to a crawl for no good reason. There were a few cars parked on the side of the highway that had broken down but they didn't seem to be the cause of the slowdown.. still we eventually made it through, though we decided to wait at Laurelinde's place for an hour or so to let the traffic jam on the other loop of the Beltway break up (we were slowed to a crawl headed northward, but things were at a complete standstill heading the other way due to a couple of car crashes). We decided to kill time by having a cup of tea before heading back out onto the highway, and thankfully by the time we got to that part of the beltway the wrecks had been cleared up, which meant not having to sit in traffic for any longer than was strictly necessary. Lyssa and Laurelinde opted to stay at home while I headed out to Stacy's for the last few hours of the Mad Scientist Coffee Klatsch. I'd wanted to get out a little to stretch my legs a little and get some coffee, and discovered that my coffee was actually less hot than the air outside... Orthaevelve brought the rock samples that she'd picked up at an estate sale for Lyssa and Laurelinde with her, which meant that my backpack went from forty pounds to seventy-plus pounds in the space of a few minutes, though she did pick up some beautiful amethyst plates and a well formed and cut geode the size of my fist for far less than the $40us budgeted by Lyssa. I picked through her bin of trash rocks and found a couple of odd pieces that I'd like to practice stonecarving on, as well as one that I think I can carve a TARDIS key out of eventually. Rather than go out with everyone to dinner when the coffee shop started filling up with kids (the little league game must have wrapped around 1900 EST5EDT on Saturday) and risk the police being called on us for some of our topics of discussion (parents are amazingly twitchy these days) I opted to head for home because Lyssa was roasting a chicken for dinner and I wanted to change clothes again (I kept soaking them with sweat this weekend). On Sunday morning we decided to go to Amphora for breakfast, and probably ate too much when we got there. The sun was already beating down on us, and the rest of day passed slowly, as only days in which you were never meant to go outside can. We wound up going home to cool off for a while and doze, though I hacked around for a while on Windbringer. Later in the afternoon I drove Laurelinde back home to Maryland and then did the grocery shopping for the week to stock the house up. In between those two things I ran into a bit of car trouble before even getting out of the parking lot: my car's electrical system shut down without warning, which left us coasting down the road. Thankfully I was able to get the engine turned over again, but Laurelinde and I decided that it would be best to drive to the nearest gas station and take a quick look under the hood. As it turned out, the TARDIS was dangerously low on coolant (which probably didn't have anything to do with the unexplained power failure, though whenever things are dangerously wrong she tends to let me know) so I picked up a gallon jerry from the gas station's pro shop and topped off the reservoir. I'm going to check the engine oil before I head home this afternoon just to be safe. That aside, there isn't a whole lot else that I can really write about on the afternoon, I'm afraid: grocery shopping is grocery shopping pretty much wherever you happen to go. Heat, humidity, price of gas, blah blah blah.. I won't bore you with anything more about that. I will say that after tearing into the leftovers with Lyssa for dinner I sat down to experiment with Truecrypt's whole disk encryption support for Windows. It really is as simple as my cow-orkers made it out to be... you know, I'm going to split this out into a separate post to keep from boring people. It really doesn't belong mixed in with a recap of my weekend.