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, November 15, 2006

“How many words per day was that again?”

So, here it is, November 15th, which marks the halfway point of NaNoWriMo, and the expectation of having 25,000 words done by the end of the day.

My current count?

Let's see … la de da … carry the one … dum de dum … and I have a total word count of …


The Magic 8 Ball says: Outlook not so good.


A night at the carnival

[Carnival—American style]

“We have to go on the Ferris Wheel,” said Bunny. “We just have to.”

“Okay,” I said. It's one of the few rides I don't mind at carnivals. “Although it's pretty big.” I also have a fear of hights but it doesn't always manifest itself—it's a fear that is partially situational, but that, as Alton Brown would say, is another show).

The carnival itself was in the parking lot of a large strip mall along US-441 and Glades, in Boca Raton, Florida. There are few fields left empty here in Lower Sheol anymore, so I guess they set up where ever they can these days.

[Look at all the people] [Where do they all come from?] [You'll shoot your eye out, kid!]

It was rather slow by the time we showed up, near 9:00 pm. Whether it was due to the hour of the day, or the day of the week, I don't know. But there were hardly any lines to speak of. Bunny picked up the tickets and as we waited (there was one rider on the Ferris Wheel when we queued up) we bantered with the carney. The carnival is operated by a larger company that has several “units” out at any one time (one here in Boca Raton, another one in Ft. Lauderdale, and a few down in Miami) and that what we were looking at wasn't just a Ferris Wheel, but a huge Ferris Wheel, some 90′ tall.

A few minutes go by, and the wheel stops. We get into one of the gondolas, the wheel lurches forward a few cars, and a group get into another gondola; the carney explaining to the other group that the groups need to be spaced to keep the wheel in balance.

And we're off …

And it's clear by the time we peak over the top and are on the way down again that this isn't just a Ferris Wheel, but the Ferris Wheel. Vertigo kicked in and I just had to get off, but it took another three trips to get the carney's attention, and then me waving off Bunny as she tried to help (we were walking down a plank off the ride) but I really needed to get grounded, as in “standing on solid ground, now.”

[All the deep fried heart attack specials you could want]
[Time to make the funnel cake]

After calming down a few minutes, we headed off to the Funnel Cake booth. I'm neutral towards deep fried dough but Bunny loves the stuff [Update Friday, November 17th—Bunny wishes to let it be known that she loves funnel cakes and not just any old type of fried dough –Editor], so she got a funnel cake (she found it good but she's had better—I found it okay myself) and I got a soft-serve ice cream cone (I didn't get sick on the Ferris Wheel, I just couldn't take it).

[Back and forth, round and round …]

Next to the Ferris Wheel was this outrageous ride. Not only does it swing back and forth, but the end, where you sit, spins. I found it horribly disorienting just looking at the thing, but it was very pretty with all the lights. It looked like something you would find in Las Vegas. Or on the set of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

[Ohh … look at the pretty lights] [Close Encounters of the Third Kind] [Fling them all to outer space]

High Anxiety

About that Ferris Wheel ride

I have acrophobia (and not vertigo as I always thought, much to my surprise) but it doesn't always manifest itself. In fact, I've ridden Ferris Wheels before without problem, although I don't think I've ridden one quite as large as the one earlier tonight.

[“There's no place like ground …”]

It was not a pleasant experience.

As a young kid, I remember hanging out with my friend Duke and we would climb and walk along this fallen tree spanning a rather large hole in the ground (as a young kid, I would have sworn that the hole was 50′ deep but in reality it was probably not more than 10′ or so) without thought. We would also clamber up and down hills with a 70% grade or so (although at that point they cease to be hills and more like “cliffs” or “stupid kids—you'll fall and shoot your eye out on that cliff!”).

In high school, as part of Drama, I would set lights and to reach the FOHs I had to go outside the auditorium, enter the electrical breaker room, and climb up a vertical ladder. The only portion of the ladder you could see was at the bottom, in the electrical breaker room, where it went up past the ceiling. Once past the ceiling of that room, it was a) pitch black as there was no lighting, b) the ladder was surrounded by a steel cage and c) there were walls on two sides of the ladder (front and back). So not only were you cocooned on the way up, but the lack of light actually helped as you couldn't see anything, up or down. So the acrophobia never got a chance to kick in there.

And once up at the FOHs, I was too busy setting lights to really think that the only thing keeping me from a fall of about 60′ was chicken wire.

At FAU I also worked on the stage crew for the auditorium, and while it was no biggie to go up in the catwalk system that extended out over the audience, and even work spotlights from a platform about 40′ up in the center of the audience, waiting an hour for my cue could get … interesting (“Hmmm … I wonder how I'd survive if those four bolts right there were to fall out … oook”).

I also used to hang out on the roof of various buildings with friends at FAU, and even climbed out through the observatory (on the top floor of the Science and Engineering Building) onto the roof (where one mistep meant a real nasty fall) but I could never work up the courage to go out onto the top of the Social Sciences Building (and when my friends did that, I had to physically lie down on the ground the acrophobia kicked in so hard).

But I'm fine in airplanes. In fact, I love window seats and I get a thrill when the plane takes off and lands (I love watching the ground fall away, and watching us descend to land—go figure).

I've also ridden in cable cars, but the last time I did that I was 11 or so. I had a chance a few years ago in Palm Springs, California but declined when I actually saw the grade (and I'm getting short of breath just reading the specs on the website—sheesh!).

Last year in Las Vegas, Hoade and I snuck up to the upper floors of the Luxor Hotel and on each level is a floor to ceiling window overlooking the interior of the hotel. I couldn't even get within 10′ of the window, and even Hoade was apprehensive at approaching to take pictures.

So yeah, having ridden Ferris Wheels before, I thought I could handle it.

Apparently, I could not.

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