riesling at noon
Wednesday, January 11 2012
location: near Sligo Creek Park, Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland
I've been a fan of Sparkfun.com since at least 2006. They sell a wide variety of fun electronic gear allowing the competent hobbyist to, among many other things, interface a computer to the physical world. The first time I ever made a device that connected an arbitrary physical system to a computer, it was with equipment bought at Sparkfun. So when they announced a "free day" wherein they'd be giving away $100 credit every 12 seconds, I thought, "how many people like me could be out there competing for such a thing." Well, today was the free day, and I found out. Sparkfun keeps bots from playing by forcing people to type in quasi-legible captchas. After about ten minutes of typing them, you start feeling like a Chinese gold farmer. I'm too embarrassed to admit how long I did this, but it was long enough to realize that only the more fucked-up-looking half of a re-captcha has to be typed-in accurately. (The other half is used to help OCR documents, so I hope the OCR people have a way to flag obvious nonsense.) Despite all the time I put into this stupid game, I did not win a $100 credit. Happily, most of these were probably won by people in Indian and China.
For lunch, Gretchen and I went to a wine bar called Adega, where we both got meh portobello sandwiches and split a bottle of riesling (her choice). I would have picked a different wine, but it was so exciting that Gretchen was willing to split a bottle of wine in the middle of the day that I let her pick the bottle. I had the eggplant fries with my sandwich, which, it turns out, are a lot better if one sprinkles them with salt. The other customers in Adega seemed to linger over their food, never really sampling their eggplant fries. It had the vibe of a place famous for its two hour lunch breaks. Perhaps that was why it also seemed to attract an enthusiastic customer base of policemen.
Originally we'd planned to maybe catch a matinee viewing of a movie, but the only reasonable option was Mission Impossible Number Whatever (at this point, is it really so impossible?), but then it wouldn't be on an iMax screen. So we bagged it for the time being and wandered around. I led us into a dreary (Gretchen used the word "ghetto") toy store where graduation caps were displayed on all the signs, implying somehow that toys from this place would make your children smart. But it was the same old crap: pink girlie shit for girls and scale-model bulldozers and neutered post-9/11-chemistry kits for boys.
At a nearby mall, we went into yet another Marshalls (no The Gap here) and I managed to find a shirt worth buying. Gretchen remembered how this particular mall had evolved, starting from humble beginnings as a department store. Now it has a four-story central atrium, but retail sophistication continues to elude it; despite its marble tiles, the main clothier is still a Marshalls.
There's a cluttered little coffee shop on Georgia Avenue called Zed's Café that looked like a nice place to surf the web or read an actual physical newspaper. The guy working there was really nice and when we both ordered soy cappuccinos, he threw in a little gooey puck of something from the pastry display. Unfortunately, it wasn't vegan and tasted disgusting.
Back at the house, Gretchen watched teevee for awhile and then announced that she wasn't feeling well. The wine hadn't played well with her chemistry. So, instead of going out for another meal, we ended up making our own dinner. Gretchen had pasta, and I made a rudimentary chili with beans and onions. Eventually we watched an episode of Bored to Death that happened to be on my netbook.
Marie (aka "the Baby") on the pool cover this evening, floating on the surface. The pool at Gretchen's parents' house is heated, so it's surprising it took her so long to discover it.
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