December 21, 2007: Driving Home

All I Want For Christmas Is You (in HD.)

Today I am working from Warren so I have a bit of traveling to do. I had to run some errands this morning to get us ready to leave for over a week. There is a lot to do. It was around nine twenty when I finally escaped the apartment with everything turned off and ready to lie dormant for ten days or so.

Dominica went in to work at normal time this morning. She is working a normal, full day but they have a special team pot-luck lunch thing and she took vegetarian meatballs in as her contribution. They were a big hit.

I got to the platform at the Broad Street Station in Newark just in time to miss the train. I had to wait quite a while for the next train to come and it ended up being late too. By the time that I got out to Summit, New Jersey there were no more corporate shuttles running out to Warren. Craptastic.

So I started calling around trying to find a cab company. That took several tries as the place that is recommended by the railroad simply said that they didn’t service Summit today and hung up. The second place that I tried was out of business. Eventually I came upon Suburban which sent out a taxi for me that ended up costing almost sixty dollars to get to work from Summit where the train dropped me off. Not a good start to the day.

It was eleven thirty when I finally got to the Warren office.  I ran around and said hello to everyone, got set up on a workstation for about ten minutes and then we were all off to Figaro III on the north side on Interstate 78 in the A&P Plaza for the team Christmas lunch.  Lunch was awesome.  About two and a half hours and probably five bottles of wine.  I had salmon ravioli in a brandy cream sauce which was really amazing.  Very good food.

The afternoon flew by between the long lunch, getting in late and just running around the office talking to people that I haven’t seen in months.  I haven’t been to the Warren office at all in a month or more as it is and was only there two or three times in the month preceding that.

I stayed in the office until relatively late for a holiday weekend Friday night.  Only one other person from our entire team was later than me and he was stuck supporting an issue.  I worked until just barely after six when Dominica pulled in to pick me up.

The BMW is loaded down with stuff to take to dad’s house.  Between Christmas presents and stuff that we just need to move there is hardly any room in this tiny car.  It is a good thing that we weren’t trying to take Oreo too as there was just no room for that.  Our plan this week is to swap the BMW for the Mazda PR5 which has Nokian snow tires on it that will be perfect for Dominica driving in the snow.  The PR5 is just easier to deal with in bad weather.  And this will give us a chance to put the “for sale” signs back in the windows in New Jersey for a few months.

The weather was perfect for driving tonight and there was hardly any traffic at all as we headed out of New Jersey.  We stopped at the Panera Bread on PA33 North heading up towards Interstate 80 from Interstate 78.  It was a delicious dinner and we picked up a pastry ring to take to dad’s house too.

As we were pulling out of Panera I noticed a “Game Crazy” that was open in the same parking lot.  We needed a Nintendo Wii component cable (a travel one as ours it attached to our bedroom Westinghouse LCD) and a travel remote sensor bar for the Wii so we ran in and picked those up.  We have the Wii with us so that we could play it at dad’s house this weekend.

We took our new route to avoid the Interstate 81 construction zones around Scranton, Pennsylvania which involves take Interstate 80 west to Williamsport, PA and then i180 West to US15 North / Future Interstate 99 up to Corning where we hop back onto i86 and then i390 to Sonyea, New York.  This route seems to cut about an hour off of the journey compared to taking the more northerly route that goes mostly through New York’s Southern Tier.

It was just about midnight as we pulled into dad’s driveway.  We hung out for about two hours before calling it a night.

We unpacked the new OLPC XO (One Laptop Per Child, aka $100 Laptop) and checked it out.  Our first impression was that it was incredibly tiny – much smaller than we had been imagining and we had been imagining that it was going to be pretty small.  It is very cute and very solidly built.  It is impressive to hold.  You feel very confident in its manufacturing.

We powered up the OLPC XO and gave the software a try.  The XO is based on a custom variant of Red Hat’s Fedora operating system using a custom graphical environment known as Sugar.  The laptop is definitely slow but is quite usable.  It has a 1GB flash storage system for it’s main storage and 256MB of system memory which is pretty good for such a lightweight device.  It can take advantage of USB Memory Sticks or Secure Digital (SD) storage as it has one SD slot and three USB ports.

The screen is small but very sharp and impressive.  We have been hearing amazing things about the XO’s screen technology and it was rumored to be quite ground breaking and it certainly is very usable and readable.

We checked out a few of the built in applications like the word processor, the BASH terminal, journal, TurtleArt, Python programming and the oscilloscope.  The last one being an endless source of fun for dad and Min.

We were not able to get the unit online tonight as dad’s wireless isn’t currently hooked up.  We will need to turn that on tomorrow and see what this thing can do.

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