April 19th, 2003


1331 miles

Two days and 1331 miles later, here I am with all my stuff in Minnesota. Time to look to the future. What are my goals here? There are two scenarios:
  1. I am here to have a job, save up money for a while, and return to Boston with a new emergency fund once I line up a job back there, or
  2. I am here to try a new way of life, get settled in to this thing called Minnesota, and see how it compares, how my life is different in a less congested city.
The answer to this riddle feeds directly into the question:

Do I want to save a whole lot of money by living upstairs from my parents while I’m here?

I think the answer right now is “wait and see what it’s like.” I’ve got a perfect excuse to stay here ‘til August - I’m still paying rent in Boston - and I can take my time to see what the options are around here. With enough time looking around, maybe I can come up with something truly nice, rather than whatever happens to be on rent.com the day I look.

The only downside to this tack is having to move twice. And that’s really not so horrible, given that the second move can be done very incrementally, across town, with help from my parents and their minivan.

More on the trip coming in the morning, when I will take the time to transcribe my scrawled notes of thoughts while I was driving. I listened to a bunch of NPR (well, Chicago Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Radio) today. It was good.
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more thoughts on the future

Still putting off writing about the drive to think about what to do here.

I’ve pretty much written off the possibility of having a one-stage move, putting everything directly into the apartment I’m going to live in... That simplifies things a bit, gives me more time to actually see apartments before moving in.

I hope I can bring myself to spend the money I don’t really need to be spending, to avoid falling into the trap of getting comfortable living here.
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the drive - day 1 (Thursday)

We left Unseen University at like 8am, and I went to drop by at casa chaiya. After giving her a bookcase and getting some wonderful goodbye hugs (*snif*)... I went and joined my dad on the road.

Getting from Somerville to I-90 isn’t too bad, normally — if you’re not in a 10’ truck. When you’re leading a truck through the streets, suddenly, “no trucks” signs suddenly pop up everywhere. You end up zigging this way and zagging that way... and I ended up failing utterly to find a reasonable way through. I consider this a complete failure at my Advanced Boston Driving course final.

Once we hit the Mass Pike, though, everything went smooth as silk. An hour or two later, I had a bit of a Good Will Hunting moment... At the end, when he’s driving west, he drives down that exact road, exploring a new world. He’s going to find... what?

I called up Ciber, and let them know the good news, that I was on the road... I got a bit of a weather report from the guy, and learned where and when to go. A little before 8am, Monday. A little before 8am. Well. This is gonna be an interesting change of pace.

Then... I realized I was listening to the Prince of Egypt soundtrack, and it was the first... second?... day of passover. Second, right. Was it just a coincidence? Last time that soundtrack showed up in my car was pretty much a year ago. But this time it more involved the big binder of CDs at my fingertips when changing the CDs for the big trip than anything else. Needed my top six CDs for listening to on the road. Then the Evita soundtrack came along, and Juan Peron was singing about going into exile, finding job satisfaction in Paraguay. Hey. Look at me, driving to, um, Paraguay. And hey, look, both the Evita and Buffy soundtracks ask “Where am I going to?” or “Where do we go from here?”

I needed a half-hour nap in the late afternoon, but after that I was able to drive late into the night. We made it to midnight or so. First day statistics:

miles: 665
avg speed: 61 mph
time on road: 11 hours
total time travelling (including breaks): 14 hours
car average mileage: 30.9 mpg

The truck... did a lot worse. 53 gallons bought throughout the day. Plus the tank wasn’t full at the end of the day. It’ll take a little work to get the stats on the truck. But it was almost completely full of stuff.

driving - day 2

We started the day in the hotel room in Elyria, Ohio, watching a little ESPN Classic. Some big NL championship from a few years back was on, and there was a really bad call. Then the Weather Channel warned us of rain, storms, and general gloom in our path. But we made it past Cleveland, onto the west side of it, successfully avoiding the whole rush hour thing. We were timing it to (hopefully) get into Chicago around lunch, avoiding rush hour there, as well.

A little more time with the TV showed me Project Damocles, some kind of Our Man Flint sequel, or something... and ... what made me want to see High Plains Drifter? I forget. But it’s on my list now. We hit the road at 9:45 eastern.

I think something reminded me I wanted to try guitar lessons sometime. I could do that here, now. I should have the time for it, right? So far I’m finding I have time for setting up things, and it’s nice. We’ll see what happens starting Monday with time. I guess maybe it was the NPR radio show that was reviewing A Mighty Wind. I gotta see all those Christopher Guest movies.

Let’s see... I quote the Beatles, “I see your smile and it moves me”... or is that Trina Hamlin? It was from one of those albums in my disc changer.

I have a scrawl here, “last supper, Vinnie Testa’s” Oh yeah, I had a last supper of sorts on the first night of Passover. Whatever. The Prince of Egypt thing is more relevant than that bit of timing silliness.

Early on, I was starting to have an ache in my right elbow and shoulder. I started doing stretching things for it a bunch, and seeing what I could do to keep it all right. But it didn’t really get worse or go away at any point... By the end of the day it felt like mild tennis elbow. [note: it seems to have gone away very quickly overnight, and I almost forgot I had had any trouble of that kind at all]

Day 2 statistics:

miles: 666 Collapse )
avg speed: 59 mph (Chicago slowed us down a little on the inbound side, despite our planning)
time on road: 11:15
total time travelling: 13:15
car average mileage: 31.4 mpg

Another post forthcoming on the political thoughts I had while listening to NPR (Chicago Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Radio, and Minnesota Public Radio). It turns out NPR is much more engaging than music, and makes the time pass much more quickly on the road. Or maybe I was just getting better at the distance driving thing.

Total trip:
miles: 1331 (how leet is that?)
time on road: 22:15
total time travelling: 17:15
elan montage

illiberal democracy

Day 2 of the drive, I was nearing Wisconsin, and the guy who wrote the book “The Future of Freedom — Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad” came on the radio. The show was “On Point” and it was a call-in show. He said some really good things, talking about the fight between liberty and democracy. It’s all about how pure democracy without any brakes on it are really dangerous, and how the Bill of Rights, the Constitution in general, are instrumental in making the US a land of the free. And the thing that truly makes the US great is this compromise that gives us democracy while putting brakes on the power of the majority.

And that’s what we’re missing in places like Nigeria and Iraq, where elected governments are frightening and intolerant. Nigeria is going to have a vote between a Christian and a Muslim for president, and I shudder to think what that could possibly end up meaning, no matter who wins. Shootings, ethnic cleansing, or even milder things like laws passed based on religious scripture, like laws against women showing their faces in public.

But anyway, this guy’s point seemed to be that we needed to ease Iraq into it a bit, giving them something a little more authoritarian until they were ready. No, that’s not what he said either. All he was really saying was just elections isn’t enough — the safeguards are needed, too, to provide true liberty.

But the thing that struck me oddly, and made me call in to try to get on the show, was the comment about their society needing to get to a point where democracy could work first. A “modernization” of society, he called it.

I was going to ask about how this “modernization” he refers to is, in essence, “westernization,” in both appearance and truth, and point out that, at its heart, the Bill of Rights is an agnostic set of principles.

Religion is an attempt to find spiritual guidance... but it is also a way to gather political power. It was one of the first ways they did it, and it was extremely effective for a very long time. The US’s true claim to greatness was, in some ways, divorcing itself from any given established religion, and forming a secular state.

He also talked about how pure democracy has never been seen to work, but many countries (Chile and Taiwan, notably) had started out authoritarian and been eased into a US-style democracy, and these have worked...

Hmm. I am rambling quite a bit here. I would have liked to have known what he would have said to that. Maybe I’ll buy and read his book. It appears to be on Amazon, and his name appears to be Fareed Zakaria.

I just don’t know. It seemed to make a lot of sense while I was listening to that show.
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    tired tired

other political tidbits from day 2 of the drive

More ramblings drawn from scrawls in my drive-time notepad.

The flu ended World War I? Huh. Apparently the Chinese are more dependent on Middle East oil than, well, us. Wolfowitz? Some big guy under that Rumsfeld guy, some kind of evil? Gotta look into that.

One thing to do to change this country, to change the world, to change the future, would be to get into journalism. And to learn Arabic. And to go out there, and find out what’s actually going on. Or something like that. Uhh...