Friday night, as I wrote in my journal, was the start of a weekend I was looking ahead to with great anticipation. What made it an interesting day was the fact that right before my work hours were up I was dragged into a meeting, a meeting that I thought for all intensive purposes had been cancelled. It turns out that it hadn't been cancelled but had instead only been rescheduled. I'm glad I attended, because the theatrics that went on in that meeting room were a laugh riot. I really wish I'd brought a tape recorder so as to preserve some of the more amusing tidbits and quips.
Once the meeting was done I was quite eager to put as many miles as I could (19.2, at minimum, with that being the distance between the building and my apartment) between the office and myself. On the way out I was told that I was expected to take some time out from my Friday evening to coordinate a maintenance reboot of the three firewalls located at our campuses in the Southern California region. As you've discerned by my entries from only a day or so ago, I managed to pass that annoying responsibility off to our monitoring/managed services company, which I think in the long run was really the only logical thing to do. Still, it meant getting out of the office late. By the time I escaped the swirling vortex of suck that is the office it was 5:20 PM and I was landed firmly in rush-hour traffic on a Friday, one of my least-favorite places to be. Eventually I made it home, arriving about twenty minutes later than my usual. A quick survey of the parking lot turned up Jen's car, which meant she'd beaten me to the apartment -- small surprise there, since she got out of work earlier and had less traffic to contend with. I was surprised to see that she wasn't at the computer or channel-surfing when I let myself into the apartment, so I poked around and eventually located her in the bedroom, curled up and reading a book. It's always nice to come home to a loved one nestled warm and snug beneath the covers, happy to see you. We chatted for a while, then indulged in a little fun that I won't detail here ... I don't really talk about the more intimate aspects of my private life, and you don't want to read about it anyway.
Eventually we extracted ourselves from the bedroom and made our way back into the world at large. Since we both were a bit peckish we decided to go out and get some chow, which meant a quick run down the street to the Spring Garden. I really love that place, and when I move into the house I'm going to miss the food, the service, the prices and most especially the hours. You just can't beat a twenty-four hour restaurant for sating those bizarre urges you get for a banana split at 3:30 in the morning. Our meals there were quite good, as usual, and once we'd cleaned our plates we decided to scoot back to the apartment and catch some shuteye. Jen had to leave early in the morning for Milwaukee so as to take care of some bank paperwork. Owning the car that you were leasing previously is a Good Thing. Ra decided he was going to be an odd cat during the night and decided to sneak under the covers, trying his damndest to sleep between us. It's very weird coming slowly to consciousness and feeling a warm, furry lump against your chest, licking your chin, and frankly I'm hoping that he won't feel motivated to give us a repeat performance any time soon.
8:30 in the morning Saturday came around far too quickly for my tastes, with my alarm blaring away and Jen not wanting to get out of bed. But eventually I got her awake and shuffled into the shower, and I myself fell back into a fitful dozing while she attended to morning cleansing rituals. When she left I got up and wandered out into the living room, unable to sleep at that point for whatever reason. I puttered around the apartment for a few minutes, hopped online and gave my greetings to those other individuals who were also awake at that stupid hour on a weekend -- of which there were unsurprisingly few. I hopped into the truck around 9:30 or so and took a little drive over to the nearby McDonald's, picking up some breakfast since I was sort of peckish for breakfast (This caught me by surprise, usually the thought of food any time before 10:30 am, no matter what time I got up, is enough to make me feel nauseated). I picked up two medium orange juices, two bacon-and-egg biscuits and a pair of hash browns. Driving back to the apartment I once again passed the bizarre little device that's hanging from one of the overhead street lamps on Salem road, and I started to wonder if perhaps Big Brother hasn't gotten a good establishment in my neighborhood. One of these days my curiosity will get the better of me and I'll walk over there with a ladder and try to figure out just what the heck that little thing is and what purpose it serves.
For the next few hours, I was awake and very, very bored. I alternated between listening to MP3s, reading (Jen brought along her Jurassic Park and The Lost World omnibus. It was sort of fun to go back and reread Jurassic since it's been years since I've actually read the novel... which is a true pity, since I own a collector's edition of the movie. More hours were killed lazing around, toying with the PlayStation 2 or teasing the cat with the laser pointer (until such time as the batteries went utterly and irrevocably dead). I started to fret a great deal around 4 PM when the cable company still hadn't shown up to reinstate the connection. Tick-tock, tick-tock, it was soon five... and no cable guy. Now I'm getting annoyed, and starting to think that I'll just call them on Monday and tell them not to bother reconnecting me and to refund my damn money. Amazingly enough, though, the door bell rang around 6:15 and when I answered it I was greeted with "AT&T Cable!" Well, hallelujah, he finally decided to come grace me with his presence. Truly, I am blessed ( Can you sense the sarcasm? It should literally be dripping out of your monitor right around now). As you saw in my entries on Saturday, my life was filled with irony in that the same gentleman who was dispatched by AT&T to disconnect my service for nonpayment was the same guy sent out here to reconnect it. I spent some time outside, watching him as he worked, noting the different tags that were on the line to indicate I was supposed to remain disconnected, the different color coding for bandpass filters... things like that. I can say now with total assurance that the cable system that is serving this building is total and utter crap. I will have DirecTV when I get the house, oh yes. Digital is good and knowing that my funds aren't going to line AT&T's pockets is even better. They're rapidly moving up the ladder on my shitlist for the antics they pull.
Jen eventually came "home," sometime around 9:30 or so. We watched a bit of TV, then snuck off to bed to get some shuteye. Sleep was slighly less interrupted by Ra that evening, but for some reason I was being bothered a lot by the light that was coming in the bedroom window from the street lights and passing cars. I guess I should get a sleeping mask or something to cover my eyes. Perhaps I'm part avian....?
Sunday morning I was woken up bright and early, much to my surprise. Surprise rapidly turned to pleasure, and once again I'll skip the details. Jen and I finally got up and took our showers around 10 or so in the morning. We played around on the Internet for a while, then decided to go get a brunch at my urging.
Let's play Good Idea, Bad Idea. Good Idea: Getting Brunch. Bad Idea: Having the exact same idea that every other person in the neighborhood is having because it's FATHER'S DAY. ARGH! Denny's was packed full with a long wait, and Spring Garden wasn't much better. Neither Jen nor myself were particularly up to the challenge of trying to eat KFC for early lunch, so I hit upon the idea of driving a little ways down the street and having a meal at a Schlotzsky's Deli. Much lunch was had. I also got to experience the joy that is jalapeno-flavored potato chips. Num! I need to get my own bag of those....
After we consumed our lunch we took a moment to marvel at what a great day it was, and how favorable the weather was. Not too hot, with a nice breeze that didn't make things frigid either, scattered clouds to give alternating shade and sunshine. We decided that hey, it wouldn't be so bad to go take a walk in the park, so I directed Jen over to the nearby forest preserve. It was a good thing we were smart enough to bring along a pair of water bottles from Schlotzsky's, purchased on our way out. Parked the car, got out, looked around and then hit the trail. I made sure to mark the time we got on the trail; it was 11:50 AM exactly. We made pretty good time, but we weren't exactly out there to power walk or anything like that. Mostly we just wanted to get out and have a leisurely stroll. We saw a lot of bicyclists and rollerbladers, but only one or two joggers and next to nobody just out walking like we were. It was interesting, we got to see some people flying model planes... a blimp (I couldn't tell, but it didn't look like the infamous Goodyear blimp), a couple creeks, and discovered that part of the trail was once a road. That was sort of fun to explore. Somewhere along the line I did something very stupid -- I took off my shirt. We'll come back to that later. I mused to Jen that fysco had gotten me sort of interested in Geo Caching, and that some of the spots we'd "discovered" by wandering off the beaten path looked like perfect places to either find one or set one up. All I would need to do either would be a GPS unit of moderate quality, but that's about $300 I'm not willing to spend right now. I'm still reeling from the cost of getting Jen's brake system repaired, so I'm not exactly rolling in cash and I'm still trying to save up for the house... bummer.
We made our way through prairie grass, forest and over a couple of roads. Ultimately we ended up at a park that was only half- to three-quarters of a mile away from the deli -- right where we started! That was when we decided we should turn around... but then we thought "We've come this far, why not just follow the loop the rest of the way around?" The logic didn't seem too broken at that point, and it was still early in the day, we'd only been walking for something like an hour and forty-five minutes or so. On our way through the park area we found a Frisbee that was laying on the grass, either forgotten by some child eager to go home or the like. We tossed the disc around for a bit, and had some fun with that. It's weird, but you discover that you can indeed forget how to throw a Frisbee. I think Jen was getting frustrated because a lot of her throws went high and wide, but she was getting back some of her aim towards the end. Eventually we got tired of that and actually started sweating, so we dropped the disc back roughly where I'd found it and continued our way up the trail. Another quarter of a mile or so down the trail we passed what looked like an abandoned service road. I thought that it might provide us with something of a shortcut so I convinced Jen to sneak under the fence with me (She was nervous because it had two "No Trespassing" signs on it, I said it was doubtful at the very best if anybody would "catch" us since there was rust on the lock). We started walking down the trail, and the further we went the weirder things felt. I remarked to Jen that it was odd that the Illinois Bell would have spent all this money building a road, installing a bridge over the creek (we saw ducks and a heron down in that area) and laying the first batch of cable (what I saw hanging from the poles looked like it would only hold 6 pairs at best) and then just up and abandon it. As we got past the creek and marsh area we saw a couple fields that had been corn fields last year and this year were bean fields. Judging by the way the weeds were growing in the fields and the tire patterns in the weeds between the road and the field I judged that there had been somebody in there doing something, but I wasn't sure what. We kept walking. It was when I saw the blown-over fence that I suddenly realized what that road we were on really was -- it was an old driveway! I told Jen that I figured in another few minutes of walking we'd come upon an abandoned farm, with a disconnected electrical meter (I saw the lines above on the poles) and probably nothing left of the buildings but some foundations and ashes. Sure enough, we came up the hill and found a pile of wood and cinder blocks, along with the aforementioned power poll with the electricity meter yanked out of the box when service was disconnected, the phone line laying in the ground, and the sign the buildings had been in a fire. Lots of interesting stuff in the debris, everything from the brake calipers from a pickup to a chunk of HVAC ducting. We investigated further, following a partially overgrown sidewalk, and discovered what we figure was where the house was. It was, near as I can tell, struck by lightning. Everything was destroyed, the tree by the foundation was burnt to a crisp, and there was something laying nearby that I can only hazard the guess was the top of their water heater. What else would be composed of fiberglass but have a chunk of white PVC sticking out of it?
Judging by some of the debris by the barn/shed we found, I think the farm was originally being used, then either abandoned or donated (or leased) to the forest preserve. Why else would there be three or four signs for the Cook County Forest Preserve laying in the rubble? I figure when the house finally went up it took the shed with it, the farmer didn't really care so long as he could still access the fields now and then and the park folks just decided to install the gate at the end of the driveway (where we'd originally come on the path) to discourage squatters from setting up camp as well as to prevent teens from driving down there to drink or get their freak on.
Once we'd had our fill of exploring the ruins we turned around and headed back down the driveway. I was starting to show signs of getting a sunburn, and Jen was complaining that her feet hurt, so when we finally emerged from the Preserve into the embracing arms of civilization again we decided to walk across the road to the deli, sit down, get some more water and then continue on our way. When we finally got to the restaurant I checked my phone and found out we'd been walking for almost three hours straight as it was now 2:40 in the afternoon! It only took us a minute or two after we sat down in the air conditioned goodness of the building to decide we were going to wimp out and not walk all the way back to the car. The most direct route, along the roads, was riddled with danger since there were no sidewalks... and Jen's hiking boots were still breaking in so her feet hurt too much for another four miles of abuse. At last we broke down and, using my cell, we called twanfox to ask him to come pick us up. Much to our relief he agreed and soon we were packed in his Mustang, making our way back to the parking lot where Jen's car was. The poor thing was still tired and sore from the walk so I drove on our way back, stopping over at Baskin-Robbins so that we could have a little ice cream treat to reward ourselves for our hike and to help cool us down.
Once back at the apartment I got a chance to look at myself in the mirror and evaluate the damage. I definitely was in the sun too long without sufficient protection: I had burns on my (balding) forehead, on my shoulders, on my back, on my stomach, on my chest, on my arms, on my nose... pretty much everything exposed got crisped to some degree (I was, at least, wearing jeans during our hike so I was spared the indignity of burning my legs... Jen got that). We showered again to clean ourselves up (as well as to remove any unwelcome passengers we might have acquired while walking through the Great Outdoors), donned our clothes again and then went over to the local (good) Denny's for dinner. After we ate we walked over to the Jewel-Osco that shares the parking lot with the Denny's and got some gel to lather on our poor abused skin. Jen got something that was 100% aloe, I got an aloe/vitamin E mixture to try and keep my skin from becoming too violently painful to walk around in. Damn this fair skin, and damn my job for preventing me from spending more time out beneath The Yellow Face That Burns (known to those outside of the IT industry as "the sun"). When we got back from shopping we watched a little TV, and then it was time for Jen to head home so she could get back at a decent hour. I retreated to bed not long after she left, gave my dad a call to wish him a happy Father's Day (occasionally I can play the part of the dutiful son, yes) and then decided to sleep. That was around 11:15 last night.
I got up an hour late this morning, having hit my snooze bar about five times. I just couldn't muster the energy to get up and drag myself into work, for some reason. When I did get up, I took a look in the mirror again.
I look like a frigging lobster, fresh from the pot. Crack me open, dip me in butter....
Showering was an interesting experience. I had to keep the shower from getting to hot, and I couldn't scrub myself down very hard. I applied more lotion very generously when I got out of the shower, paying particular attention to my shoulders since they chafe under my dress shirts when I've got sunburn (I know from the sunburn I got last year at Summerfest). Then I tried to brush my hair with my usual brush.
That hurt. No, let me explain to you: it hurt lots. Keep in mind that I'm blessed with just the right set of genes to ensure that I've got a nice case of male pattern baldness going. That, plus the stress I've been subjected to repeatedly over the last three years, plus the beating my hair follicles took at the hand of the chemotherapy... all this has gone to make what hair I do have left is very, very, very thin throughout. This means the sun could get through rather easily. This means that my scalp is also sunburned.
I don't think that I have to explain to you that brushing one's hair should not make one cry out in pain and then stagger backwards in shock and dismay.
So I'm going to have to take very particular care of myself for the next few days. Lots of lotion shall be applied as I try to ease the transition of this skin to the replacement skin. With luck I didn't fry things so badly that I make myself a prime candidate for skin cancer some twenty years down the road....
Tomorrow I get up at the hour I lovingly refer to as "o'dark-thirty." That's right, everybody's favorite bitchy panther will be getting up at 0300 hours CDT on Tuesday, the 18 th so that he can make it in to work by 0400. Once there, he will be coordinating a number of projects and installations at the Kansas City, MO site. Then at roughly 1100 hours (if all goes well), he will get to coordinate an installation of a network appliance from NAI's Sniffer division at our campus near Seattle, WA. This means that bitchy panther should be going to bed so he can get at least four hours of sleep before the craziness begins...
...but first, it must put the lotion on its skin.
This Is What KLF Is About