Joel of Far Outliers
Trevor ap Simon
group, &c. blogs:
A Fistful of €uros
31st of October, 2003 POST·MERIDIEM 01:23
Did I mention how I reached my credit limit in San Francisco? Okay, I’m in Seattle, I check my credit card balance, I’ve leeway of seven hundred Euro before I hit my limit—Euro, now, not dollars, so about eight in the latter—I get on a plane to San Francisco, hang around the airport for a few hours, get a plane to Tampa Bay in Florida via Las Vegas, spend thirty hours drinking and talking in Sarasota and putting my feet in the Gulf of Mexico—hi Jennifer!—fly back via Phoenix, land in SF around 8pm. I ring up Mackers & Jen, ask what plans they have for the evening, nothing spectacular, okay. I go to an ATM to get cash for a BART ticket downtown. It gives me no money. Have I mentioned this is my only source of cash for the trip? That I use it very much in preference to a Cirrus card, because Cirrus Cards transaction fees suck , and apply even when you have money in the account?
I go to a payphone, and use a phone card I’ve bought in SF a few days previously to ring Bank of Ireland credit card services in Wicklow (judging by their area code). I enquire if I’m over my limit, and if so, by how much. The nice lady on the graveyard shift says I am over my limit; that my balance (rather, the amount I’m in the red) is €1,600. I reply and say my limit is €2,000, how am I over it, exactly? She assures me that I’m over it. Okay, I try to be pragmatic, I ask how would I go about getting access to more money now , and commented that if I had known I was about to go over my limit, I would have renegotiated it. She says if there were a banking 365 transaction of €600 lined up, then they could renegotiate the limit and let me have access to cash. I said, okay, I’ll see can I line that up, and end the call.
But, I’ve a more pressing problem. San Francisco International Airport is not really within walking distance of where I was staying, a residential hotel in Chinatown. (I had paid up front for two weeks in the hotel, so at least I’ve somewhere to stay.) You can walk places in San Francisco, but the airport to Chinatown would involve half the night. And the reason I was going to the ATM was because I didn’t know if I had the $4.50 for the BART, the local area train that would take me downtown. So, I empty all my pockets, root in all my bags, and thankfully, got the $4.50 together. I make it to the hotel, and hit Jen & Mackers for the price of a few pints & food over the next few days.
Then I work out that I can survive here; I have a place to stay, my flight home is paid for, Mackers is flush with cash from working most of the summer in a decent job, so I can scab eating money off him with a pretty clear conscience. So, I do, checking and sending a lot of mail over dial-up with my laptop, and Mackers & Jen collect my deposit of $50 when I leave.
I arrive back in Dublin, live off the small bit of money I have in my current account, hit friends for the price of tickets I’ve paid for a while ago. Up until yesterday morning, when I check my credit card balance at an ATM. It’s €1,600. Right, okay, my parents must have paid it off to give me some living money—I hate that, but at least the account number and sort code will be in the records so I can pay them back once my salary comes through. So, I ring up, ask for the details of the transaction that put €1,000 into my account, and the last payment into my account was €900 on the third, nothing since. I ask “So why am I under my limit now?”. And I’m told I was never over my limit. So they turned off my credit card because my spending patterns changed. Which would be okay, maybe, if they had told me this at the time. I mentioned that they didn’t, and that they told me I was over my limit, yeah? Fuсkers.
Anyway, to a less annoying subject. Everyone knows John’s gospel, yeah? The thing that starts
IN PRINCIPIO ERAT VERBUM, ET VERBUM ERAT APUD DEUM, ET DEUS ERAT VERBUM. HOC ERAT IN PRINCIPIO APUD DEUM.
In the beginning was the word, and the word was close to God, and God was the word. This latter was, in the beginning, close to God.
Of course, it may make more sense in Greek, in which it was written in the first place, but I doubt it. St. Jerome may have had problems with the more literate portions of the Bible, but this wasn’t one of them. Anyway, fortune(6) comes out with this, today;
(He opens a tolm and begins.)
It says: “In the beginning was the Word.”
Already I am stopped. It seems absurd.
The Word does not deserve the highest prize,
I must translate it otherwise.
If I am well inspired and not blind.
It says: “In the beginning was the Mind.”
Ponder that first line, wait and see,
Lest you should write too hastily.
Is the Mind the all-creating source?
It ought to say: “In the beginning there was Force.”
Yet something warns me as I grasp the pen,
That my translation must be changed again.
The spirit helps me. Now it is exact.
I write: “In the beginning was the Act.”
— Goethe’s Faust
which I found great. Disrespect for ѕhіtty writing because it’s ѕhіtty writing, ignoring whence it came.
22nd of October, 2003 ANTE·MERIDIEM 09:21
Right, we’ve hailstones, thunder, lightning, and it’s cold enough that I’m going to have to work out how to use the thermostat in the new house, because it’s taking me an hour longer to get myself together enough to leave the bed in the morning. The Latvian guy at German class commented that we don’t have proper winter here; I’m not sure how much more winter I can take :-/ .
16th of October, 2003 ANTE·MERIDIEM 12:27
Back in Dublin, back in work, big project to do so everything else goes to the back of the queue, I’ve no money, but that’s okay. Ideally some lunch would be good. And je ne suis vraiment pas impressionné par cette machine.
12th of October, 2003 ANTE·MERIDIEM 03:15
Thu Oct 9 18:51:20 EDT 2003 / Thu Oct 9 15:51:46 PDT 2003
Okay, since the last entry I’ve gone to Seattle, drunk a lot of beer, met a lot of Seattlites, came back to San Francisco, immediately caught a plane to Tampa Bay via Las Vegas—they have slot machines in the departure lounge in that latter, which was a little disorienting—met the impossibly cool Jennifer, drank some more beer, ate some grits (they’re surprisingly boring, for something that always seems to outsiders to have been an eccentric regionalism, it’s decent breakfast food), saw what used to be one of the Ringling Brothers’ mansions, which uses far too much marble for something that has pretty much direct exposure to salt water, walked barefoot in a swamp, used a children’s playground’s swings in the wee small hours of the morning, stuck my hand out a car window and was surprised by the differential in heat and moisture compared to the air-conditioning inside. It’s warm and humid there, as you’d expect, but I was disconcerted by the force of it.
I’m now on my way back to San Francisco, this time going via Phoenix, Arizona. I’ve only slept for a few fitful minutes on planes over the last three days, and I’m afraid I’ve left too much of an unintentionally grumpy impression on Jennifer.
Sat Oct 11 14:30:34 PDT 2003
Hmm, I should have put up the above long ago, but I seem to have found things to do. Anyway. Since then, I got to San Francisco, met Amy and Vernon, walked around a lot, realised I’ve reached my credit card limit, a little unexpectedly (next few months will be lean, but that’s okay, I’ve had fun). Drank some more, slept some more, all good.
1st of October, 2003 POST·MERIDIEM 09:32
Friday, September 26, 16:04 TZ=Europe/Dublin
Flight was scheduled to leave at 2.45PM; apparently they boarded it, had everyone strapped in, noticed a technical issue, tried to fix it for fifteen minutes, then had to unload it. I wasn’t there, I went and bought a tri-band phone (nnngh; long-term I intended buying a Sony P800, with touch screen, handwriting recognition and useful stuff like that. I made this plan back in July sometime, thought it’d be a) generally cool; being able to type on buses is something I would have a use for and b) be useful for the US, especially since my C45 wasn’t a tri-band handset. I ended up having to move and pay deposits in September, so I put off buying the phone, thinking that a) was the only reason for buying it. Silly me.)
Monday, September 29, 19:08 TZ=America/Denver
So, my machine crashes—there are issues with the RAM, so if I put it on my knee for any length at all, I’m pretty much guaranteed a hang. Next time I get a chance to type anything on it—so, now, Monday—is in Colorado Springs airport, ready to take a flight to San Francisco via Salt Lake City. The weekend was very good; I stayed at one Nathan’s house, with several other people who were visiting from one of the mailing lists I’m on. Nathan’s married to Michelle, and they have two kids; all these people are cool.
Friday night I arrived late, and stayed up talking with them until around five AM; then I got a mail from someone at work, informing me that some modifications I had made to our website before I left had broken it. So, I fixed that, then got to sleep about six AM local time. (About 10am Dublin time; bear in mind I had got up and 5.30 AM on Friday, and hadn’t slept since.) Saturday, a couple of us went to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, which involved three hundred specialised breweries, samples, and lots of “party fouling” (apparently drinking with a headache isn’t done in the US, so shouting loudly when someone drops a beer is fine. They should probably reconsider that.)
Sunday, we saw some of the Rocky Mountains—this is a beautiful part of the world—did a few minutes “camping,” which involved looking at a river in a very scenic part of the world. Then got some great Italian food & wine, shot some pool, drank some beer, had some good conversation. Pretty useful day.
And then today. Nothing too exciting in the morning. I got into the airport, early afternoon, got informed I had been selected for “tagging”—so far, there’s no holes in my ears involved, thankfully. My rucksack was unpacked, stuff put into it, and I had to get patted down, take my shoes off, and Stuff. Impolite, anyway; I’m only a terrorist every other day. I’m looking around me, and of the ten people within five metres of me, two of them are wearing items of clothing with the stars and stripes on them, one of them has the Star Spangled Banner as his phone ringtone, and another is wearing a t-shirt that says “The Second Amendment — America’s Original Homeland Defense.” I’m glad I’m not living in this place; I’d find it wearing to have conversations with people who would do that every day. Which I imagine would be necessary.
I’m meeting Mackers and his girlfriend, Jen, in San Francisco, and going drinking and stuff. It will be good to see them. Mackers is working hard, so there won’t be much bumming around with them. They don’t have an apartment, so I may not stay there that long; it’s more fun to spend money on plane tickets than on hotel rooms, and I’ve been offered floors and/or couches in Seattle.
I’ve also booked a return flight to Tampa Bay, in Florida, to visit another person from the same list for a couple of days. That’s pretty much at the end of my stay, though, so I won’t have any feedback on that for a while.
We just took off from Salt Lake City, and it’s the first time I’ve regretted not having taken a camera with me. The countryside around the town is amazing; occasional outcrops of hills, small mountains and huge plains with huge pools of water that have changed colour because of the amount of salt and other minerals in them. And of course, the fantastic weather in this part of the world means there’s no problem seeing any of this.
That’s all for the minute; summary, this is interesting and fun, I’m glad I’m here, I’m going to be probably a lot more zen and sane when I come back :-) .
 Unless you happen to have an explosive device that’ll fit inside a laptop’s structure.