September 20, 2005

I arrived in State College on time last night which is amazing considering how late I left Geneseo. According to Google Maps, I was going to be at least an hour late. But I was right on time. I got into the store and discovered the guy who was supposed to have installed the server for me to work on had just arrived. Normally the server would have been installed in the morning or maybe the day before. He had had car problems on his way out from New Jersey and hadn’t been able to get there any sooner. So I had several hours to kill. So all that work to get there on time and it was all for naught anyway.

I walked over to Applebee’s which was right across the street from Wegmans and got a beer and ordered some dinner. I figured that I might as well make good use of my time since I was going to be around for a while. I got some wings for Chris since he was having a crappy day and got myself some shrimp and salmon. Once I got the food I walked back over to the office and we had dinner. Boy was that meal good. Now that I eat fish, Applebee’s has a much more appealing menu.

I still had lots of time to kill so I went through all of my mail that I had had in the car and read all of the magazines that I had brought with me. Then I went on eBay and did some shopping and then I hopped onto the MUD and played for a while. I managed to get some good deals on eBay (good is a relative term since none of this stuff was stuff that I actually needed and so, in reality, it was a total waste of money.) I got the video games Skies of Arcadia and Grandia II before leaving New York. And additionally I got Sega Ralley 2, Sega GT and Le Mans 24 Hour all for the Dreamcast. Dominica said that she liked racing games and the Dreamcast is well known for having had some really good ones so I thought that we would try them out. And besides, why own a Dreamcast if you aren’t going to get good games for it? So now we have six and I am bidding really low on one or two more that might be interesting.

I was finally able to start work around midnight (normally I have already finished by then.) And it took me until 3:00 to wrap up. So it was a very late night. I got a hotel room in Williamsport which is where I am working tomorrow night and well on the way home so I have a bit of a drive back up to there tonight.

On the ride to the hotel I finally managed to finish listening to “A Basque History of the World” that I have on MP3. The book is well written but it is, let’s say, exceedingly thorough. It is a rather long book that covers the history of the Basques, the people who live on the Atlantic coast at the point where Spain and France meet. There is a total of about 2.2 million people in this area or maybe slightly more and they speak their own language that is not related to any other language group in the world. But very little is known about their history and so the book spends a little time doing a survey of the time from the Roman occupation of the region leading up to the semi-present era and then spends forever going over every person of any significance at all in the region for the past two hundred years. It was a poor choice, I think, for a book to listen to in the car to keep me awake while I drive. What I did learn from the book is that I absolutely have no interest in ever setting foot in Spain or Basque country. I would love to be able to go to the Iberian peninsula and see all of the history and culture that have happened there but it really is a horrible, cruel, unstable area that hasn’t been able to get a grip on itself for the past two hundred years. Most importantly, it is an extremely dangerous area where there is no check on the police and they can do as they want. It is not a democracy as they have no freedom of speech. It is a crime to ever say anything negative about the government which, of course, means it can be taken as illegal just to run for office if they deem you to be someone that they don’t like. Americans are routinely stopped in the Basque region because the police think that they might be Basque. It really shows how awfully people are treated in Spain. It is a police state with no human rights. They are still a quasi-facist state still functioning like it is 1935. The Basque provinces are controlled militarily so that they cannot leave and because of their and one other non-Spanish regions forced financial contributions to the “country” Spain is able to keep its head above the third world water line. But only barely. But frankly, I have little desire to go to a country where the only thing between you and ten days of state sanctioned torture (yes, that is legal without cause – only if someone is held and/or tortured for over ten days must a charge be brought against them) is a really good relationship with your embassy and a lo-jack device in your butt. And remember, since it is illegal to speak out against the government and since the police are controlled by the government, it is therefore potentially illegal to even mention that you were “detained.” So, bottom line, I am not going there. There is so little to see in that impoverished country compared to so many nice places in the world that I think I can safely bypass it. And the author didn’t, in the end, make the Basque sound all that much better. If I want to see Iberia, I will stick with Portugal, thank you very much.

I arrived at the hotel around 4:15. I had a terrible time finding the place because of the way that the streets are numbered in this town. I actually went past the address of the hotel more than once but obviously there was only one hotel and I wasn’t able to find it because the street numbers clearly directed me elsewhere. I got checked in and into my room and was finally laying down to go to bed around 5:00 am. Boy was I tired. I have also recorded SGL Podcast: Show No. 4 for you. This is the first show that I have recorded while on the road using my laptop.

Eric woke my up this morning at 8:00 to inform me that our servers were offline. What a way to start a day. A total disaster at work and only three hours of sleep in a hotel room in the middle of nowhere. Yippee! I did what I could but was definitely unable to do anything to help the situation from here as everything was offline. I tried to call Dominica but she had just gotten in from work and was probably napping between her overnight shift and her class in Canandaigua. So I called dad and he was going to go over to the office to see what he could do. I had a little gap of time there so I laid down and took a quick power-nap for twenty or thirty minutes. That actually ended up helping quite a bit.

Dad got to the office just after 10:00 am and we quickly discovered that our CPE (CPE is customer premise equipment – the equipment owned by our Internet service provider but located at our site) was not functioning properly. Eric had said that we had had some power issues caused by the lightning storm during the night and that that might have caused problems. So dad reset the CPE and everything came right back online. None of our own equipment had had any problems at all. Which is a relief but doesn’t make it any less of a pain. The really depressing part is that if we had had the new Road Runner line installed already (instead of not going in until next week) I could have at least done all of the troubleshooting and known exactly what was wrong before dad even went over there instead of going into everything blind the way that we did. Oh well. At least it will be fixed soon enough. So by 10:30 everything was working again.

I finally got out of bed around 1:30 with a total of four hours of sleep. Ugh. That is the problem with working the overnights. Even when you have a day off and nothing going on something is bound to happen and you don’t get any chance to actually sleep enough.

I got an email from Andy this afternoon and found out that he has one or two games yet for the Dreamcast that he had forgotten to leave with us. I know that he had Crazy Taxi – which I am pretty sure that everyone who has ever had a Dreamcast has had – but I don’t know what else he might have. Min is excited that we have a collection of Dreamcast games already. It is great getting a slightly older system. It is such a tiny investment to get so much good stuff. It is tougher for people who are really into the fast, 3D action games because those games demand the latest, greatest hardware to make them really cool. But the kinds of things that I play, I am perfectly happy playing on the Playstation, if they are available for it. The reality is that the Dreamcast is decently competitive wth the PS2 though. Since the PS2 doesn’t support high definition output the Dreamcast has a big advantage right from the get go. The PS2 does have more power but not as much more as people like to think that it does. And the Dreamcast is a lot easier for developers to work on so they are more likely to get better results out of the hardware. The Sony is such a bizarre architecture that it is difficult to find programmers who can or who are willing to work on it.

I looked through the hotel’s restuarant guide and discovered an OIP just up the street. Since I have never had a bad meal from an OIP I thought that I would give them a go. Their driver doesn’t arrive until 4:00 so I have to wait for an hour before he can deliver the food but that isn’t all that bad.

Food came at 4:00 and I watched some That 70’s Show while I ate my pizza. What a great show. I played some MUD while I was in the hotel. There is a lot of time without a whole lot to do.

Hurricane Rita is up to a CAT2 and has headed into the open water of the Carribbean. They think that it is gong to hit the Texas coast at Freeport but they are already talking about evacuating the few people who are in New Orleans again.

Dad and I were planning on going out to Ohio this weekend. Min has to work and should look after the puppy so she isn’t going to go.

At 7:00 Dominica called to let me know that Francesca’s family has been ordered to evacuate. They live in League City, Texas and are right in the expected path of the storm. Francesca’s husband has to stay behind because he is on the hurricane response team. He will be stuck there as long as the hurricane level does not rise too high. If they hit Category Four, then he will be airlifted out of the area. Francesca and the girls are headed up to Fort Worth to stay with family up there until they can return.

I am working in Williamsport, Pennsylvania tonight. Handily it is just up to road from where I am staying in the hotel. I would walk there but as I drove here I noticed that the stretch between here and there is not through some of central Pennsylvania’s most respectable neighborhoods and I think that it would be best if I stayed in my car. Hopefully I will be able to get started at a reasonable hour tonight and I might be able to get back to the hotel early enough to actually get some sleep for a change. I have had another week where I just haven’t managed to get enough sleep all week and I just keep getting more and more tired as the week progresses.

Okay, I am off to work and posting early as I try to do. Have a good evening everyone.

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