Saturday, November 17, 2018

It's not Vienna, but it brings back memories

My parents took me to Disney world once or twice. We drove down both times, stopping at cheap motels along the way, and stayed at cheap apartments a ways from the park. I had fun, especially when I went as a small child. I got my picture--a polaroid--taken with Minnie. The second time, I was a teenager (it was my mom, a friend, and his visiting teenage niece and nephew), but I don't remember being much more aware of the difference between our Disney adventure and that of the people who clearly weren't skimping. As a child (and teenager), a friend and I would hang out at the Disney Store, and elsewhere at Faneuil Hall, and at Copley Place. We enjoyed playing amid the ritz, window shopping and occasionally splurging on a loss-leaderesque, quasi-affordable souvenir. It was more wonder than aspiration. Then we outgrew it, at least the window shopping and longing for overpriced trinkets. I remained in awe of the business travelers at the hotels in and around Copley; I hoped to be like them when I grew up.

Last Sunday I flew down to Orlando for business and made my way to a chi-chi hotel. I could've gotten a cab reimbursed, but I opted for a SuperShuttle to save my employer some money. The first few rows of the shuttle were filled with tourists (and those staying a ways out). I looked at the guy in the back row with me--specifically, at the logo on his messenger bag--and knew he was going to the same conference. You know I don't generally start conversations with strangers, but the truth about introverts is that we buckle under small talk; we can handle real conversation. For the hour, hour-and-a-half long ride, we talked about a range of work-related issues. It was--especially to an introvert--a welcome sense of community. If anyone else in that van listened to us, they'd have hardly understood a word (that is not, if it needs to be said, a knock on them; merely a point of contrast: I was exactly where I needed to be). I don't know how I got to be someone who fit at the conference, who can hold my own with the technical people. I showed up feeling a bit of an impostor, but managed to connect with most of the people I talked to. By the end of the week, I was going to Disney Springs for dinner with my SuperShuttle buddy and his friends.

How I became that person is more of a wonder to me than how I became the person who gets dropped off at the chi-chi hotel close to Disney after the front rows of the shuttle empty out, at first at cheap motels and then mid-price hotels. All of them higher-end than what my family stayed at when I was a kid. I was always aware of it--every time I walked by a family staying at the hotel on their own dime, the kids dressed for Disney world--but not intrigued. I noticed the ornate granite counters and mother-of-pearl drawers but would have traded them for a better shower. I don't even prefer big, corporate hotels; I rarely choose them when I travel personally, and not just because of cost.

Some of the things we aspire to when we're younger are as satisfying as we think they'll be, every time; some become routine to the point we don't notice them anymore; some disappoint us. Some make us want even more.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Photos from the replacement camera













 









Saturday roundup

Late to this, but here's an excellent take on New Yorker festival-gate.

The error in Bannon’s headlining The New Yorker Festival would not have been in giving him a platform to spew his hateful rhetoric, for he was as likely to convert anyone as he himself was to be shown the light in conversation with Remnick. The catastrophic error would’ve been in allowing him to divorce his ideas from the fascist practices in which they’re actualized with brutality. If he is at all relevant, it is not as a thinker, but as a (former) executive who has worked to build the Trumpist edifice of power that cages children and is dismantling mechanisms of democracy.

Mr. Rogers, practicing the kindness he preached, became a vegetarian. On that note, here's a fantastic excerpt of a review of a ferry:
Here are some people who don't suck. And more people who don't suck:


Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sunday roundup

What a tragic week it was. Heartbroken for the victims of the Pittsburgh shooting. Furious about the motivation. This thread.
Donate to HIAS.

Housing is the key. Housing first.

Don't call the police on black people for existing.


Cold fusion is actually a thing, if you have muons.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

My camera for two weeks

I don't love my camera. I bought it because it was indestructible (and waterproof), but the picture quality isn't great. I didn't realize that until  I was disappointed with my Peru pictures, because I didn't have time to test it out in the months before the trip. Since then, I've been disappointed with my South Africa, Balkans, and Borneo pictures, and I want a better camera for my next trip.

I did a bunch of research (let me tell you how sick of online product research I am, between my kitchen appliances, mattress, and other stuff) and settled on a refurbished Panasonic Lumix. I was wary of getting a refurbished camera, but I came to realize I wasn't going to get the quality I wanted for the price I wanted with a new camera. I was determined not to make the same mistake; this time, I would test out the camera and figure out how to use it. So the first thing I did was take it around town. It did not disappoint.


The zoom was amazing!






I took it to North Carolina and it performed well. I took close pictures of gargoyles from far away. Yay new camera!

I went to transfer the last of the NC pictures when I got home... and the viewfinder was shot! I hadn't dropped or otherwise damaged it in any way (if I did, it was very, very sensitive to minor contact). Luckily, I'd discovered the issue in time to return it and get a new one. I ended up finding one model up new for the same price. Let's hope that one lasts!

North Carolina

The Biltmore is overpriced AF, but with the Chihuly exhibit, it was worth it.















 Most of the wine was mediocre at best.
The next day, we hiked around Chimney Rock.





 Later in the week, we tasted more wine.



 And played trivia overlooking Lake Lure.
 And drank more wine.
 And ambled around Asheville.
 And drank more wine.
 And communed with landscaped nature.