Thursday, September 18, 2003

Vermont



I just got back to San Diego after visiting E in Vermont for two weeks. Flying in, it was once again apparent just how much of a desert it is here. Vermont was so green, lush -- and this place here is a desiccated wasteland with an overabundance of automobiles. But, the surf is good sometimes. Anyway, soon enough I'll be neither here nor there, as I'm packing up to head to Colorado again in two weeks. And I just found out they've already had three days of snow in Summit County.

The trip to visit E was really good -- I kind of knew it would be. The only bad part about seeing her is always the end when one of us gets on a plane. When I first got there I met her cross-eyed black cat, her sister's black lab, and her sister, M, who seemed to be working out in the gym the whole time I was there. For the first social outing we went to E's annual family reunion at a lake near Middlebury. My first time meeting a gaggle of New Englanders, and I was struck by how quiet and understated the whole group was. In most other large groups the social scene always gets dominated by loud personalities, but here the game was to fall into single conversations and draw people out -- no one was getting drunk and speaking too loudly about their business life. Hmm, maybe I was the loud one? During one conversation I was labeled as a "flatlander" -- Vermonters' label for anyone not from Vermont. My argument that I was mostly living at nine thousand feet in some hills called the Rockies failed to impress upon the man that this label was perhaps ironic. E was rather painfully self-conscious about forgetting the names of the relatives she kept having to introduce me to. But she did remember the names of her mother and father, whom I spent some time talking with. Her dad is a short, bearded intp -- reminding me disconcertingly of an oversized Ewok -- who seemed unhappy about where his professional life had taken him, but happy about his daughters and the bigger picture of his life. Mostly we discussed books. Although, he did raise the emphatic point during dinner that he thought E was wasting her life in conservative jobs instead of following her love of writing. It struck me as a contrast to my SJ parents, who keep telling me I should get a normal job. Heh, guess kids always rebel. During the talent show it was pretty obvious the main entertaining talent belonged to E's sister Brie, who was barely larger than her guitar but managed to produce some beautiful music. She's a professional singer-songwriter, or at least struggling to make it as such, and she deserves to since her stuff is great -- qualifying as quite good ecto. (email me if you want a link to some mp3s)

Since it was Vermont I consumed way to much Ben&Jerry's ice cream, and we drove past the factory while lost and looking for a hike. The hike was up a pretty trail through several varieties of forrest to a windy peak called the Camel's Hump. Apparently this was a "moderate" hike, but I must be totally out of shape since my legs were sore for three days afterwards. Snowboarding in two months is really going to kick my ass, again.

I spent the weekdays working on physics and goofing off while she was at work. I've been waiting all summer for Apple to update their powerbooks so I could get a laptop. But I'm not above being totally ridiculous, so I just said screw it and packed up my 30lb imac and checked it through to Vermont and back. Turned out to be a good idea, as it still works, but I nearly had a nervous fit at Dulles airport when I saw baggage handlers throwing bags out of a plane door eight feet up. Now, of course, I'm back and my newly released laptop is on its way. I sold my soul to Apple, again, but damn is this going to be a sweet little bag of chips. First thing I'm going to do with it is use Mathematica to generate the eigenfunctions and values for the Laplace and Dirac operators on CP2. I was very happy on the plane to Vermont when I discovered that the nice coordinates I had picked for the four dimensional CP2 manifold resulted in a fortuitous separation of variables for the Laplacian. Man, I'm a huge nerd. Here is physics and computer stuff riddled through my personal life. But I really did get off the plane in Burlington feeling "Yeah, I get to see E", "Yeah, my variables separated", and "Damn, I hope my computer is all right" -- pretty much in equal measure.

The next Saturday we drove to Montre'al. I knew the place was "French Canadian," but I was still surprised to suddenly be in a very foreign city of exclusively French speakers after a drive of an hour and a half. At one point, I was so taken back by the sudden pressure I felt not to speak English, and not knowing more than five words of French, that I caught myself bungling words out in Spanish and/or Italian -- heh, pathetic. G brain: "Hmm, I must switch over to speaking 'Foreign'." It was an interesting place -- what I would imagine as a cross between Paris and Pittsburgh. The people out and about, walking as they do in any European city, seemed quite young and above average in looks. The place seemed more "N" than most american cities, which are all pretty "S."

Anyway, I'm back in SD. Waiting for my new powerbook, goofing off, and looking forward to another season of Colorado snow. I'm getting used to seeing E in little pieces of time -- and I'm not so happy about it. This will probably mark the first time in history I will be telling a girl "Really, you should follow the advice of your father." Heh.

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gar@lisi.com