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Business Trip in DC

My alarm went off at 6:00. I turned the television on. CNN was covering the storm. Wilmington was getting battered and so was Jacksonville. They checked in with their reporter in Jacksonville. He was literally not able to stand without being pushed off balance by the wind. The camera “pixilated” a couple of times because the wind was moving the truck it was attached to. I wondered about Mom and Dad.

I called Rob at about 7:20. The phone just kept ringing and ringing. I didn’t think this was at all a good sign.

I took the subway back to the conference hotel.

I had the complimentary conference breakfast. It made me make good choices since the selection was very limited. I had two (half dollar size) plain pumpernickel bagels. I took one of those cute tiny jars of Concord Grape Jelly, but just can’t get in to grape jelly on pumpernickel. I still have the jar in my bag.

I attended the first session on UML. It was perfect. I liked the guy’s way of getting familiar with his audience. “How many of you consider yourselves architects?” he asked. Many hands went up. “Well this is what architects will get out of the session.” (Bullet item.) “How many of you think of yourselves as designers?” he asked next. Another show of hands, and a bullet item of what they’ll get out of the session. “How many of you consider yourselves implementers, coders?” Again, another nice number of folks. Another bullet. And finally, “How many of you consider yourselves managers, or project managers?” A decidedly small number of hands went up. “Well here’s what in the presentation for you guys.” Bullet item: You’ll be able to continue getting coffee and snacks for the rest of us, and keeping out of our way.” (Get actual line from slides if possible.)

I left after that session. I was going to stay for the second one, which was about “Microsoft’s Interdev 6.something release.” The rest of the day was really all about detailed programming in ASP, which I know nothing about. I wanted to get back to the hotel, see if Broadreach’s e-mail was back up, and see if I could reach home.

E-mail was still down. (I was expecting some mail from Interleaf about Sy’s visit on Monday.) I checked my Mindspring e-mail; nothing but junk there. I tried the 800 number back to Broadreach. “For the safety and concern of our associates, the Raleigh Broadreach office has closed due to Hurricane Floyd. Blah, blah, blah.”

I tried home several more times. Constant ringing. No answer and no answering machine pickup. I called Jacksonville to see how Mom and Dad fared. I got their answering machine, which I thought was kind of odd. I left them a message with my phone number. About two minutes later they called me. They didn’t hear the phone ring, but they heard the message machine clicking off with my message. Dad sounded tired. Everything was okay – no big damage. A lot of limbs and debris about. They had bought a generator and he had cranked on that thing so many times before accepting it was a bum one. He as to get his money back. Thank God he didn’t have a stroke or something out there trying to get that thing to start. They were watching their little TV. They have phone and power, but no cable. They were going to check in with Vivian. Sounds like Greenville might have gotten it worse than any of us.

I checked the stock market. It’s way down, but Verity is still up a little and Amazon is not down enough. In the afternoon I sold 5 Dec 60 Verity calls for 7 ½. Let’s up the sucker stays down below 60, or at least ends up just below 60 on the third Friday of December. I also bought Priceline.com’s Jan 50 puts for 8 ½. Or I tried to, actually. I’ve yet to confirm that the order got filled. I read an interesting article about Priceline.com, not good for them, which I happen to agree on. I have never been impressed with them, and the article pointed out that what they’re doing is so easily repeatable that they are getting more and more competition. We’ll see.

I had a little fun with all of these conservation notes this hotel has in them. There are two signs. One rests on the nightstand by the bed and says:

Dear Guest:

Every day, tons of detergent and millions of gallons of water are used to wash sheets that have only been used once. Your bed linen is changed every day.

If you’d like to help conserve our country’s resources, you can simply leave this card on your pillow in the morning. Your bed will be make up as usual, but the sheets will not be changed. In this way, we can both help protect our environment.

Then there’s another one in the bathroom that says:

Dear Guest:

This hotel is committed to conserving our country’s natural resources.

Every day tons of detergent and millions of gallons of water are used to wash towels which have only been used once. Here’s how you can help:

A towel on the rack means, “I’ll use it again.” A towel on the floor means, “Please exchange.”

I wrote this note up, set it on the toilet paper roll, and put another note to the housekeeper pointing to the one on the toilet paper roll, and said to give that one to her manager, and to tell him or her where she found it. It says:

Dear Hotel Management:

Every day, countless hours of hotel housekeeping are used to make two folds at the end of each roll of toilet paper.

This hotel customer is committed to conserving our country’s human resources. If you’d like to help, please provide a sign for this purpose:

“If this sign is placed on the roll of toilet paper, your bathroom will be cleaned as usual, but the toilet paper ends will not be folded into little points.”

In this way we can both conserve our nation’s hotel housekeeping human resources and keep the already exorbitant room rates from rising any further.

I’m thinking about sending that one to the Reader’s Digest. It could bring me $400.00.

I went back out around 4:30 this afternoon. Rode the Best Western van to the Subway station. There was a nice couple and their son from Indiana on the van. They were heading out sight-seeing. I told them that I was just considering at that moment going to Arlington National Cemetery. I haven’t been there for several years. The rain had pretty much stopped. Hurricane Floyd was affecting us here, too. It was quite windy, though. I ended up going for it. Sure wished I’d had a sweatshirt with me.

Arlington was fairly deserted. There were several broken tree limbs strewn about. I think those hundreds of rows of white headstones are very striking. I said a silent prayer of thanks for all of those good people who died for our country. I thought of my dad. I’m proud of his contribution, and sure am glad he’s not among them here.

I walked up to President Kennedy’s grave – the eternal flame. It’s as I remember: President Kennedy, his boy Patrick who only lived for two days on his left, and a headstone off to the right that just says, “Daughter” and a one day date. I guess she was born dead. What’s new since the last time I was here, however, was Jacquelyn Bouvier Kennedy Onasis to the immediate right of the president. It sort of caught me off guard. I was moved in some odd way. I really admired Jackie, and was suddenly right there before her. I paid my respects.

I visited Robert Kennedy’s grave just around the corner to the left, separated by shrubs, and a separate walkway you have to take to get to it. He’s the only one there… the only Kennedy, and the only grave. A headstone in the ground and a small white cross about four or five feet back form the stone. The cross is made of wood, and is chipped or deteriorating in the bottom right corner. It struck me as sad that he was there so alone. Why couldn’t he be buried up there next to his brother? I know it’s because Jack was a President. But it seems like a family should be buried together if they’re going to be buried at all. Then I thought, “I’m really surprised they don’t have a family cemetery, up there in Hyannispoint. God knows there’s enough of them to fill one up.

I left from Robert’s grave and headed back to the subway. It was starting to drizzle pretty hard and I didn’t bring an umbrella because it was to windy to use one anyway. I wanted to visit the Iwo Jima memorial, but it was way on the other side of the cemetery. I would have walked if it hadn’t been so windy and rainy.

I took the subway to the “fruit loop,” Dupont Circle. I walked about, and checked out a couple of book stores (book bookstores, not porn bookstores). I had dinner in a Thai restaurant. It was so delicious. I caught the subway back to the Pentagon City station, and waited outside for the Four Points Sheraton or Best Western bus to arrive.

Just as the Best Western bus took the exit for the hotel, the driver said, “Did you call for us to pick you up?”

I said, “No, I had just come up from the subway, and you pulled up.”

“Oh,” he said, “Because the power is all out over here and the phones are not working.”

Great. I came up to my room. The elevator was still working, and the electronic room keys still worked. I’ve been catching up this journal with the (battery-operated) laptop I borrowed from Broadreach. Serendipity! I probably never would have gotten started if that hadn’t happened.

Rob just called from the Bowling Alley. I thought, “Oh good, the phones are back.” He said everything was all right – our power’s back but the phones aren’t. They probably won’t be back until Tuesday. Geez. After we hung up, I typed on some more in the pitch black for about 10 minutes. Then I thought, “Duh, maybe the lights are back on, too,” and reached over and flipped the switch. Voila!

I’m going to chill out now. Watch a little TV. Read a little. And see nappy.

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