Sunday, 19 July 2009

Travelog part II

Last night was spent with Ysadri, a Thresher I've known for a number of years online but never till now met in person. She's lovely. :) We dined at a Thai restaurant that she recommended highly, and then spent the evening nattering and poking around on Traal - talking to Skan on the Skype, chatting on Citizen, and so on. Our train TO her town was ten minutes late, and I (thinking as I do of suburban services) thought we ought to ring her and say that we'd be late, but she assured us that ten minutes' lateness isn't all that much. The following day - that is, this morning - we had a northbound service due to leave at 11:35, we thought; turns out it was actually scheduled for 11:08, but it was running late. How late? Uhh..... three hours. (What is the use of timetabling something as accurately as 11:08 if ten minutes late is normal? It's like trying to tell time by the hour hand alone and then give accuracy to the millisecond. Makes no sense whatsoever.) Fortunately we had a fairly free connection with our next service, but it did mean we had only about half an hour in the Chicago first class lounge (yeah, people with sleeper tickets get the top notch treatment), and no time to ride the suburban system, nor even to look around the station, before boarding our next train. However, we're now on board, happily on the way to Washington DC where we will connect with a southbound service.

Dinner on board the "Capitol Limited" train is similar to what we had on the last sleeper, the "Southwest Chief". So are the carriage arrangements; curiously, we got compartment #4 both times. Opposite us (in compartment #3) is a lady named Diana; we got to chatting, and ended up going to dinner together. She's rather fun, has some interesting political ideas (and has thought them through), and knows how to hold a conversation over dinner. Was an enjoyable dinner; plenty to see out the window too, with sailboats (one of her interests) and trains a'plenty. I'm now back in the compartment, and we've crossed the boundary to Eastern Time, so we're now on the only timezone we'll need for the rest of the USA part of this trip. Traal has been informed of this change. I don't know what time Clippy thinks it is.

We're still completely dependant on finding wifi somewhere. The first class lounge has both wifi and power points, and Ysadri had a good connection that we were able to make use of (she has the connection, but no computer to use it with - hers died, it died, it died... I was all ready to build her one on the spot, but we had no idea how much time we'd actually have available (if I'd known the train wouldn't be leaving until nearly 3pm, I might have considered it, but expecting it to be at 11am meant no such opportunity), so she's still comp-less); but outside of those places, there has been nothing reliable. Every time we stop at a town, I check to see if there's any open networks, and once in a while I'm rewarded with one; other than that, we're stuck working offline. I don't so much mind blogging offline, but I'm coming to realise that most of the good Windows games I play actually involve the internet (MTGO, Kong, and of course Thresh) - all my best single-player offline games are written for OS/2 and reside on Stan. Oh well. Plenty of blogging to do, plenty of coding I can poke around with.

Interestingly, Michael's phone often can't pick up 802.11 that I can. So in spite of having been specifically bought to relieve pressure on the Traal, the phone is spending most of its time doing other duties (GPS speedo or compass, games, etc), and Michael's uploading Clippy's Logs from Traal as before. Oh well. Fortunately we get a good connection every day or two. I don't think we could manage else.

6:12AM (EDT). Got up and departed the sleeper (M's still asleep) to drop myself in the lounge. Outside is a lot of greenery; above us is an unbroken grey mass of cloud. There seems to be a lot of mist around, too, or else there's thick fog. Not sure which. There's either a lake or a river beside us, I think, which could cause mist. Anyhow, the upshot is that, while there's greenery in the near distance, all the middle and long distance is pure grey. I'm not sure where we are, although an examination of timetables would probably tell us. (Seems it's a river, as we still have it beside us.)

6:30AM. I'm going to need to get myself a Melbourne-time clock. That probably means coding something up. Hmm. Also, I finally got around to renaming all the RHains MP3s that had sat around all this time. I did a bit of Python to parse the XSPF playlist (which is an XML file) to produce a list of desired filenames, list comprehension on os.listdir() to get a list of current filenames, and then map(os.rename,b,a) to do the actual work. Beautiful. I love Python.

Hmm. For a while, we had left behind the fog or mist or whatever it was, but it's back now. I hadn't noticed us change altitude much, so it can't be that we were above it. Not sure what the cause is.

12:53PM. We're approaching Washington DC and the end of this leg of the journey. Over lunch (at 11AM) I got randomly chatting about geography - remarking that I'd seen plains, islands/rivers, mountains, and forests, but no swamps - and discovered that the young lad on the table opposite plays Magic! After lunch I grabbed my box of cards and we went to the lounge for one game. Then back to the sleeper to gather stuff and do final pack up while we pull in to the station.

1:36PM. ClubAcela (first class lounge) facilities open to us, as sleeper passengers. As in Chicago, power and wifi, so I'm happily blogging. Will probably get time to do quite a bit of gunzelling but we're not going to leave the station (on current plans).

Next leg will get us down to Marah's. Wheeeee!

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