Blogosphere Part 1: From San Diego to Los Angeles
Sunday, February 16, 2003
Heh. No sooner than I posted to Blogger and to ‘405 and WebSanDiego did the train pull away.
Bam, no connectivity. I put Macstumbler on so I could look at what APs go by. But realistically, the train goes too fast for me to join an AP and do anything useful.
If I had mail queued up, I suppose I could have something, perhaps a cron job, continually trying to send it out. But not in the standard desktop application way. If I had Outlook running, I hit “send” and it finds no outbound server, or no conduit to the larger net, and it’ll rudely shout back on me that the operation failed.
But if it were set up to run autonomously, relentlessly, it might be possible to have my operation completed. It would just keep going and going — always looking for a live connection — never asking for human intervention. Theoretically, because I have a unix box here (this goofy, lima bean shaped computer holds 30 years of unix history in its heart of hearts) I could set a cron job to run every second or half second to try and complete a mission.
Hm! A few minutes back we passed WindRiver in Sorrento Valley. I can’t tell if they have an AP. But many months back I went to a presentation there given by the folks who took over Ricochet, local company NetHere. Which reminds me, my car was dead the other night — causing me to miss the Association of Internet Professionals meeting. I really did want to attend. Not in the cards.
A few minutes back we passed surfers. The sky is lovely, but not that golden lovely sunset color.
We’re stopping now. Solana Beach Station. Didn’t these trains used to stop in Del Mar? No AirPort networks in range. I used to work in Solana Beach. About a mile from here – EduPoint. But this station is new. Very nice, at least from what I can tell on the train. It’s used by Amtrak Trains as well as by The Coaster. I think it’s maybe 500 yards from the beach. It’s recessed, though, so there’s no visible evidence that we’re near water at all.
I should be taking pictures. The water (I can see the water again, I think this is Encinitas).
Aha! To the east across a lagoon there are six hot air balloons in the sky. The sky is not really clear. It’s a bit hazy. But I’ve been in a hot air balloon before. It was wonderful.
The Porter (Conductor?) is taking tickets again from the new passengers from Solana Beach. When I was a kid he would have had a friendly hat. Part of the nerve system of the train. He’s got a walkie talkie strapped to him, and he’s all business. No time for pleasantness. I bet he’s overworked. When I was a kid Amtrak was still thought of as a Government agency. What’s its status now? I’m not even sure whether it’s privatized or part of the federal government?
When I was a kid I loved this train ride. We lived in Alhambra and other parts of L.A. We lived right next to L.A. County Hospital for a while. But we (my mother and I) would take train to come visit my Grandparents (at the time, all were still alive) in San Diego.
Encinitas. My Macstumbler is pinging like crazy. We’re moving very fast now, many wireless access points going by.
The train whistle blows. So many bungalows and apartments and condos go by. Going very fast. Maybe 70 miles per hour? How fast does this train go, anyway?
For the minute of 4:41pm 10 wireless access points flew past us. Very impressive. Is that attributable *more* to the density of access points in this expensive place (Carlsbad) or or to the speed of the train? Probably both. It’s better not to draw too many conclusions from it. More lagoons go by.
It annoys me that MacStumbler does not record the times when you save a log file. An oversight by the programmer I suppose.
“Gather your belongings for Oceanside” comes the announcement from the Pilot (Conductor?, Driver?).
And we are stopped at the Oceanside Transit Center. They have a big parking lot. It looks friendly and new. I see a sign for NCTD. I don’t know Oceanside very well.
Two Japanese girls in front of me chatter this whole time. It adds to the futuristic feeling I am getting today. The last few days, really. I think it’s the reading of William Gibson. His new book is set in the present, as opposed to the science fiction he’s been writing for 20 years. But I think I think now that we are very much living in a kind of unbelievable future.
I think of the dystopia by Terry Gilliam, Brazil. There is a restaurant scene and a bomb goes off, and the people who are not actually bombed, that is, dismembered and injured by the bomb, keep dining. It’s not such a crazy scene anymore. Terrorism happens, and life goes on.
Maybe the whole of the world has been living with the reality of terror for a long time. I suppose America is still coming to terms with it. We’re fearful but blasé at the same time. Dealing with that kind of paradox is a commonplace I think.
We are near Pendleton now. The train’s path is between the North and Southbound lanes of the 5 freeway (in other places it would be called a “highway” or an “interstate” — but here we call it a freeway. The conventional wisdom is that it’s Camp Pendleton that prevents San Diego from being absorbed into the Los Angeles Megalopolis. But San Diego is absorbed — more than we care to admit. Camp Pendleton is huge. Marines train here. Marines who are now bound for other parts of the world. Or already there. Ready to die for… well, what are there to die for?
For oil? Certainly.
For peace? We hope so.
To fight terror?
I have no good answers here. Anything I start to type rings false. I’ll leave it at the fact that I don’t see us doing a full-scale invasion, occupation, and Marshall Plan for Iraq that ends in sweetness and light. It’s madness as far as I can tell. Madness.
This is getting to be a long piece.
BBEdit just told me it’s 1052 words long.
The sky is dark. Dark clouds out on the horizon. We’re coming past the Border Patrol station now. It’s not active today. “No waiting at the Border checkpoint” as the radio stations would say — ticking off their traffic reports for California’s commuters. I again think of how glad I am to be a mass-transit rider. I got the call on my car today. Apparently I have a cylinder not firing at all — 10 pounds of pressure in it. They’re going to open it up and have a look and see what’s what. Monday I should know more about what will happen and what it will cost. I start to feel very emasculated when I think about not having a car. But really I can do without for a while. I’ve gone without before, and I suppose it works out perfectly that I have a job I can get to only using mass-transit.
We just passed the San Onofre nuclear power plant.
5:08pm. San Clemente. Former Home of Richard Nixon, right? I forget. But we’re in Orange County now, either way. We’ve left San Diego’s confines. The Blogosphere event is in another 2 and a half hours. If all goes well I’ll be there about half-an-hour early. Maybe I’ll get a French Dip sandwich at Philippe’s? I remember going there once. As a kid. Sawdust on the floors. I was very short, so I must have been maybe 4, or 5, or 6 years old. It left a strong impression and I really loved going there. Philippe’s is another thing I learned to romanticize about Los Angeles.
Why do I love L.A.? I don’t know. I simply do.
A sweet older Japanese woman is complaining of the cold on the train. The cute (well, I assume they’re cute, I’ve not seen them from the front) Japanese girls drop out of Japanese and into English to commiserate with her.
Hmmm. Am I racist to immediately call any Japanese girl “cute.” It probably is. Not a negative serotype. Well, maybe negative in the sense that I limit my ability to understand someone else fully. But not negative like a lot of racism.
It’s funny, I want to delete that last paragraph. But I’m leaving it in. Yeah. Leaving it in.
I hadn’t planned to write stream-of-consciousness all the way to Los Angeles, but that’s the way it’s turning out. It becomes hard to imagine anyone reading this. There’s no editing to speak of. There’s only masses of words and thoughts as I progress.
One of the Japanese girls asks the haggard looking Conductor about turning down the Air Conditioning. He brusquely replies that “it’s all automatic” as he goes by.
Another Station. Which one? I forget. Orange County all runs together. Ah yes: It’s San Juan Capistrano — I see the signs as the train moves out of the station.
The Japanese girls I now realize are women in their 30s. Not so cute. They’ve moved to get a better piece of the trains climate. In their place are two kids. No more than 17, 18. They ask the older Japanese woman across the aisle to take their picture. Well. the blonde girl asks her. She smilingly obliges. The couple is cute. But I think I mean something different about this “cute couple” than I meant before about “cute Japanese girls.” I think I need to think about this latent, subtle racism I have. It’s a kind of dismissiveness about Japanese.
I’m fearless. I wish I had not committed to putting this online. But I am not fearful. I am, at least part of me, an exhibitionist in this regard. It’s a kind of experiment: “what would happen if I put my thoughts online? even some of the more private or embarrassing ones.”
So far it’s been okay. I use discretion I think.
A baby cries. Something jarring about that sound. Puts me on alert. It’s a wail — my primitive brain and my instincts tell me the baby is uncomfortable. Motion sickness maybe? Do babies get motion sickness?
As Leah would say “I’m getting tired of this game.” I’m weary of putting all this i. I’ve been typing essentially nonstop for an hour and a half.
Irvine Station, coming up. I’d almost bet money there’s an AP here. But there’s not. This is a long stop. I wonder… why? There’s an abandoned … airstrip? to the west now. Hangers? Weeds poking up through the cracks. Is this the old Marine Base? And is it completely abandoned? I can’t think of the name of the air base now — if you said it to me I’d know it. If I had google at my disposal I’d be able to figure it out.
There’s an LED display in the car, 8 rows forward of me. It says
“Enroute to Goleta” Why does it say this? I have no idea. I don’t recognize the name Goleta. It has said this same thing the whole trip. Is that thing supposed to show station information? Like for the deaf? Some kind of accessibility feature of the train? If it is, it’s not doing a very good job!
More APs blink past. The sky is dark, but outside the well-lighted train I see huge zeppelin hangers. Yes, real big blimps. No blimps though.
Zeppelins, now that’s! futuristic!
… in a Hugo Gernsback kind of way.
Speaking of futuristic, let’s have a look at Macstumbler. I like looking for interesting names for people’s wireless networks.
noseload …I like that name
SHADOWFAX …wasn’t this an 80s band?
pissoff …surprise! this one has WEP encryption on!
pure corn network
We’re in the Santa Ana station. No wireless here.
The moon is out and bright despite the cloudiness. Is it a full moon? This is another question I can’t answer without an active internet connection.
Fullerton Station. When I first moved back to California in 1995 I lived here first. I lived with my friend Chris and his wife and their daughter and his wife’s Mom. It was small but it was really a great jumping-off point. I remember getting a PO Box. Get an address. I remember going to Kinko’s to work on my resume. I hadn’t yet “gotten” on the internet. I had just started subscribing to Wired Magazine, and it followed me from Charlottesville to Fullerton. Those were heady days. I remember fighting with the California Dept of Health Professions to get me a real license to practice respiratory Therapy. $525 to rubber stamp my NBRC certification. Yes, I still resent that State licensure. But I still maintain it. I’ve still not practiced Respiratory Therapy since I got my first web job. I’ve thought about doing educational/community sites for people with lung disease though. I’ve wanted for a while to combine my medical background with all this web stuff I know. I feel very much like the two main domains I maintain say a lot about me.
Let’s break them down:
I love the web with a passion. It’s empowering and amazing.
I was born here. Lived away from it for many years, and returned 4 years ago.
- dot org.
I’ve always liked the notion of community service. I used to work in a library. I worked in medicine. I like the notion of nonprofit ventures that support the general welfare.
I have always hesitated to, but delighted in, calling myself an artist. I certainly have an artistic sensibility. I try and see the poetry and lyricism of the world.
respiratory care is the only thing I’ve been formally trained in. It’s the only thing for which I have a college degree. It was the thing that moved me from lost and wayward kid, to serious-minded and directed. It was how I managed to grow up.
- dot com.
and yes, I need to take part in commerce. Bruce Sterling talks about how artists have always worked for patrons. Maybe they’re not mercantilists in Florence a few hundred years ago, but there are always patrons.
I did some formatting of this thing. Checked my things. Batteries in the camera. Ready to roll. The site of the event should be walking distance for me. Less than a mile from Union Station says Mapquest. And I’m all about walking.
Pulling into Union Station. Goleta is the final destination for this train. But I’m outta here. The conductor says to:
“enjoy your stay wherever you end up tonight”
… what a nice thing to say.