The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Wednesday, August 09, 2000

Introduction

Let me 'splain. [Pause] No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Inigo Montoya, from The Princess Bride. (1987)

My friend AnnMarie and her husband are moving to Gainsville this week. A few months ago I said I would help her move. Kelly, also her friend, also agreed to help her move.

Well, it's time. Annmarie and her husband Marcus are moving.


Prologue

I got a call from Annmarie around 6:00 pm. I was supposed to met her at 7:30 at her appartment to help her pack and move boxes into the moving truck. This was rather unexpected.

“Can you meet me at the U-Haul rental office?” she asked. “I need to meet Marcus there to rent the truck and I don't want to wait alone there.”

“Sure,” I said. The U-Haul office was close by—about fifteen minutes away from where I live. We hang up and I start preparing to leave. A few minutes later the phone rings. It's Annmarie, this time very frantic.

“I can't find the keys!” she said. “The guy at the U-Haul place is already waiting for us to show up! It's past closing time there. We won't make it!”

“Calm down,” I said. “Where was the last location you saw the keys?”

“Kitchen table.”

“Are they there now?”

“No.” Panic.

“Have you tried your pockets? Purse? Living room? Bathroom? Office?” I rattle off other locations.

“I can't find them! What should I do?”

“First thing is call the guy at U-Haul. Explain the situation to him and see if he can wait a bit longer. Then call me back.”

“Okay,” she said and hung up. A minute or so later the phone rings. “Can you pick me up? I can't find the keys, and he's only going to stay there another fifteen or twenty minutes,” she said.

“Yes, but it will take me about twenty to thirty minutes to drive to your apartment,” I said. To get there, I have to drive north about eight miles, then east about seven miles. Going north is easy, it's going east that sucks up the time.

“Really?” she asked. Panic.

“I'll hurry as fast as possible, but yes, it'll take about that long.” We hang up and I drive over there as quickly as possible. I make it there in about twenty minutes or so; traffic was pretty good. I pick her up and I start driving back west and south to the U-Haul place.

“Marcus has the keys,” she said, in reference to their other car. “Kelly saw him pick them up last night.” So that explains why she couldn't find the keys.

The conversation over there consisted of her being upset over making the U-Haul guy wait, what was taking Marcus so long to drive to the U-Haul place from work and the somewhat poor planning that has been involved. For my part, I was trying to calm Annmarie down, telling her horror stories about past moves I've been involved with (“Yea, the last time I moved it was a last minute thing with me and my friend tossing my stuff in the back of a pickup truck. What a mess.”) and to try and accept the way things are and there is no use worrying about things.

We arrive at the U-Haul office to find their 32' truck sitting in front and Marcus' car there. We enter the office as Marcus is finishing out the rental paper work. He managed to finally arrive and start the paperwork before U-Haul guy left for the evening.

Once outside Annmarie and Marcus have a discussion about the recent events; I take an unnatural interest in the U-Haul truck in question. Thirty-two feet in length and fairly new in condition. Power everything (“for your driving ease”). Pretty nice. Instructions on how to drive it clearly visible to the driver and a lower bed than normal freight trucks for easier loading. Climate control. Automatic. Really just an oversized van with an advertisement for a mining museum in New Jersey.

After their discussion, arrangements are made to drive back to their appartment. Annmarie will drive in front, Marcus in the middle with the truck and I to follow. The drive back was for the most part uneventful even though we did get slightly off track (my fault—I thought the road the office was on went straight through to a major road, only it didn't. We ended up backtracking a bit).

Then it was time to park the truck.


Interlude I

Parking lot design in South Florida is an art. A black art to be precise. A black art that the practitioners take a delightful glee in pursuing it seems.

Most parking lots are designed with a fractal dimension close to two. But the designers of the parking lot where Annmarie live have manged to outdo even themselves and have managed a parking lot with a fractal dimension close to three.

Imagine if you will a hill. I know people here in Lower Sheol might have a hard concept of hill (seeing how Lower Sheol is flat. So flat it's nearly concave), but basically, picture a hill. Now, make a nice slice out through the hill, deep enough to cut below ground level. How hollow out the hill. The slice leads down and the parking spaces are beneath the hill. It gets better though. On top of both sides of the hill are more parking spaces, open to the elements. So there is parking below and on top of these hills.

Now, place these hills hapharzardly throughout the parking lot and cram as many spaces as you can between the score of parking hills. What you end up with is a masterful Byzantine labrynth of a parking lot with a fractal dimention close to three.

The sidewalks that meander throughout this mess approach a fractal dimenstion of two. And the placement of the apartment buildings is random; there is no logic at all to the placement.

The first time Mark and I went to her apartment, it took us ten minutes of navigation through the parking lot, and another twenty of walking around to find her building. The numbers on the reserved parking spots bear no relationship to the building number and the building number has no relation to the apartment number. The building numbers are not in a consipuous place like the side of the building, no. They're embedded in the sidewalk at the entrance to each building.

So you end up with Marcus and Annmarie having parking spots 639 and 640, building 604 and apartment 38.

Their apartment complex is a fractillian hell. And the upshot of all this is:

Marcus can't park the truck near his building. The closest is on the parking hill next to his building, but that would either mean the truck is angled front to back with items threatening to fall out the back (“Watch out! The entertainment center is slipping!”) or angled left to right with items piling along one side.

The closest flat spot is a guest spot off to the right of the building, but even if Marcus managed to park the truck there (and that's a big if), he would still manage to block off part of the parking lot.

Another spot, a few hundred feet in front of the building, is in front of another building on the grass, with a third location, between the two but you have to navigate around the parking hill.

A fourth spot would be to pull down into the parking hill, but that would mean going down yet another flight of stairs (did I mention they live on the third floor?) and blocking off a large number of cars from pulling out.

So Marcus parked in spot number three.

Not a friendly place to move into or out of it seems.


Interlude II

I should mention what a fractal dimention is before I go on, least I loose any more of my small audience.

Imagine a line. That is a one dimentional object—there's only two degrees of movement along a line. Now, square the line and you end up with a plane; a two dimentional object with four degrees of movement—left, right, forward and backwards. Square a plane and you get an object that is three dimentional with six degrees of movement—left, right, forward, backward, up and down.

Pretty easy.

Fractal dimentions are those that aren't whole numbers like one, two or three.

Now imagine a one dimentional object that curves about in a plane. Technically it's not a line, but something that is made up of segments of lines, all connected yet at no point does this object intersect itself. A straight line has a dimention of one. Put a curve into it, and the dimention goes up slightly, say 1.00000000000001 or so. The more curvy it is, the more it curves about and fills up the plane, the higher the dimention goes, towards two. But it doesn't quite become a plane.

An object with a dimention between two and three is a plane that curves and folds around to define a volume.

But the other kicker is that you can only follow along the line (or plane) and can't move outside it. A being who lives along such a line might not be aware that its universe is kinked that way—for all it knows it lives in a one dimentional universe unaware that it lives in something that is higher than one, but not quite two dimentions.

Follow? Good.

If not, don't worry about it. You don't need to really know about it.


Movement I

Kelly was waiting for us at Annmarie's apartment and the between the four of us, found a place to park the truck in the Byzantine labrynth the builders jokingly call a parking lot. The four of us then went to the apartment.

Now, I've been over there before and if you were to ask me if they were packed and ready to load the truck, I would have to say no.

I was rather surprised. I could see them getting the truck tonight, loading some stuff on it now, then tomarrow loading the rest of the stuff and leaving Friday morning for the drive to Gainsville.

In fact, that's what I was rather expecting, because some travel plans I had made months ago were at hand. As I found out, they werent' expecting to leave until Saturday, which put a crimper on my travel plans. I could help them tomarrow, but I don't think I could wait around until Saturday to drive up to Gainsville.

As we talked about how to tackle the packing problem, we realized that several extra supplies were needed. The type that you can only get at Office Depot and Home Depot.


Movement II

Kelly, Annmarie, Marcus and I piled into my car (being the biggest car) and drove across the street to Office Depot.

There we bought several boxes and bubble wrap. Hmmmmmmmm … bubble wrap. Three hundred feet of bubble wrap. Enough bubble wrap to—

Oh, sorry.

Anyway, we didn't find any rope so then it was driving back across town (back towards the U-Haul office) for Home Depot.

Office Depot is bad enough, but Home Depot—three guys in a Home Depot. Those stores are dangerous if you aren't careful and even Annmarie was nearly carried away with all the stuff you can get there.

Both Kelly and I had to restrain Marcus and Annmarie from a spending spree and limit themselves to just rope. And some tape. Rope, tape and a tape dispenser. Rope, tape, tape dispenser and …

Start over.

No body expects the Spanish—

Nope, wrong sketch.

Both Kelly and I had to restrain Marcus and Annmarie from a spending spree and limit themselves to rope, tape, tape dispenser and the Spanish Inquisition.

Sorry.

Both Kelly and I had to restrain Marcus and Annmarie from a spending spree and limit themselves to rope, tape, and tape dispenser.

We then ran for the parking lot, which fortunately had a fractal dimention below two.

Afterwards, we went to Burger King for dinner.


Interlude III

I find it rather disturbing that television is infiltrating our lives so much that you pretty much can't go anywhere and not find a television.

Most T. B. O' McFlynagin's have them. And it seems several fast food restaurants, like Burger King. I find them annoying, if only because since I watch so little television I get sucked right in.

That is, if I can see it. It's also bad if I can't but the other people with whom I'm eating with can.

Television is eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil. But you know that already.


Movement III

Back at the apartment, Kelly and I help Marcus and Annmarie pack. I end up with the job of packing two rock water fountains, two modern lamps and a wok into their original boxes.

I was amazed that they kept the original boxes. Me, I toss the box pretty much immediately. But not Annmarie and Marcus. Much surprise there.

Kelly made runs to the truck, loading the area above the driver with light boxes, mostly clothes, which Annmarie was packing away.

On a return trip, Kelly informed the rest of us that the truck had a warning sticker slapped on it—it was illegally parked and action was immediately required.


Movement IV

And sure enough, on the driver side window of the truck was a towing sticker. Amusing since it would take an industrial sized towing truck to tow a 32 foot truck.

The sticker indicated the truck was illegally parked and the additional comment made it unclear if the truck was illegally parked because it spanned two parking spots and on the grass, or if the only questionable part was that it was parked on the grass.

This made Annmarie worried about the truck being towed so we spent the next half hour walking around the Byzantine labrynth jokingly called a parking lot trying to find a place we could park it.

We found none.

We then discussed where we could park it. Not much choices. We called Mark since he lives in an area with no association along a dead end street. He indicated that it might not be a good idea since one of his more surly neighbors was sure to call the police.

Marcus then said he would park it at his parents house as their driveway was big enough to hold the truck. We had no real choice but to do that. So he moved the truck, Annmarie drove their two cars into the guest spots the truck was parked over, and I followed Marcus to his parents house while Kelly and Annmarie stayed behind for more packing.

We dropped the truck off and drove back. Kelly and I spent another hour or so helping with the packing before leaving.


Denouement

In the parking lot, Kelly and I hung out to talk for a bit. While out there, we could see Annmarie and Marcus through the sliding glass door on their porch, still packing and at one point from their third floor apartment we even heard them.

Kelly was so amused he called them on his cell phone.

A few minutes later we both left.

I got the feeling that that was the last time I would see Annmarie in South Florida.

Obligatory Picture

[Don't hate me for my sock monkey headphones.]

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

You have my permission to link freely to any entry here. Go ahead, I won't bite. I promise.

The dates are the permanent links to that day's entries (or entry, if there is only one entry). The titles are the permanent links to that entry only. The format for the links are simple: Start with the base link for this site: http://boston.conman.org/, then add the date you are interested in, say 2000/08/01, so that would make the final URL:

http://boston.conman.org/2000/08/01

You can also specify the entire month by leaving off the day portion. You can even select an arbitrary portion of time.

You may also note subtle shading of the links and that's intentional: the “closer” the link is (relative to the page) the “brighter” it appears. It's an experiment in using color shading to denote the distance a link is from here. If you don't notice it, don't worry; it's not all that important.

It is assumed that every brand name, slogan, corporate name, symbol, design element, et cetera mentioned in these pages is a protected and/or trademarked entity, the sole property of its owner(s), and acknowledgement of this status is implied.

Copyright © 1999-2017 by Sean Conner. All Rights Reserved.