Today, Suzie and I visited Banks, a friend of mine from Team Interrobang that has reached autonomy with me meaning our friendship doesn’t require the excuse of Team Interrobang. I didn’t expect this to happen as Banks and I have little in common on a superficial level except for maybe our common love of Napoleon Dynamite. Banks and I are on the same ethical page in most cases and follow a motto of action of “you do it because it’s right”. He and I have different epistemologies powering our decision engines but even from such a disparate base the synchrony of our conclusions is striking.

From 2012-02-17 Banks'

Banks’s second daughter very much took to Suzie and showed both Suzie and I her collection of Star Wars figurines and her talking Storm Trooper helmet but only Suzie received privy access to the contents of her Nintendo DS.  I think kids from the ages of 6-20 have a sense for when someone older than them is closer to their age than their parents and generally take to them.  I’ve experienced this a lot in Scouting and I regret that this will flip for me within the next five years.  For Banks’s daughter, Suzie is on the youth side of that divide but I’m fine with being some variant of “Uncle Arcanus” and simply being the bringer of cookies and cake balls.

From 2012-02-17 Banks'

As always, Banks provided me and mine a nice dinner and Suzie and I departed northward shortly after.  I had a large dinner, had sat most of the day, and was feeling somewhat loagy so when we arrived at Peter’s I used the gym.  I changed and Suzie commented that I tucked in my exercise shirt.  I do but mostly to prevent chaffing from the elastic band of the waist and to help restrain my gut but this sartorial choice was still chuckle-worthy.  I responded by hiking my shorts up to around nipples and lacing them behind my head.  Someone has a cell phone shot of this.

I wanted to meet Peter Jerde in Chicago for lunch, which turned into a late lunch, which turned into dinner.  Upon entering the greater Chicago area I encountered something I’d largely missed so far on my trek across vast open landscapes and barely tamed wilds: traffic.  It was novel at first, the idea of having a car immediately in front of me that was moving at a speed of less than 10 miles per hour seemed neat.  Maybe I could get out of my car and greet them, see how their driving was going, but as the slowness entered the second hour of moving 7 MPH or less I became…unaffected.  While being passed by a windblown Arby’s bag was disheartening, having driven about 10,000 miles, the context of traffic was a temporary inconvenience that moved my average speed for the entire trip down on the order of a tenth of a mile per hour, I’ll live.

Pants and I met at a Wendy’s where we were both hoodwinked by a savvy salesperson.  We were both asked “medium or large” a false choice as small was also an option but a question to which everyone I heard picked one of these two.  Tricky.  We ate, he showed me his Prius modifications and I shortly thereafter left for Fort Wayne, a 2.5 hour drive.  I was cruising along thinking I’d get to Banks’ house shortly before midnight, the time I’d told him I’d arrive when he shot me a text asking me where I was.  Oh.  Crap.  Prior to 2006, Indiana didn’t observe DST, making it effectively in the Central Time Zone when the rest of the country was under DST.  In 2006, Indiana started observing DST again, a fact I forgot, making me an hour late.  I floored it.  I screamed across towns and Rt. 30 shaving minutes off of my route… until I hit a speed  trap about 3 minutes from Banks’ house, erasing any semblance of a benefit from my speeding.  The ticket was for $181, but again context, a mere 1.5 cents a mile.

This weekend was dedicated to the craziest thing doable these days short of drinking from a microwaved Nalgene bottle: Meeting people in a strange town that you met on the Internet.  Team Interrobang is a little shy of 16 months old and we decided to have a meetup at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo with the plan that Friday evening would be spent staying over at Banks’ (Chad Bedwell).  I picked up Tardbagel (Jeremy Churchill) on or about 2:30 at the 5 1/2 hour to Ft Wayne began.

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Tard, stunned with joy.

I’ve never considered PA particularly exciting driving-wise except for some stretches over the Appalachians and around Pittsburg.  I learned a new type of boring driving through Ohio.  If you want to recreate the experience we had, I strongly recommend you stare at the following images in fullscreen while making snarky comments about people and feeding dollars into a papershredder to simulate the burning of gas.

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Boring #1

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Boring #2

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Boring #3

I wanted to get a quality shot in Ohio of us at an intersection showing both roads going into infinity but I didn’t want to agitate the case of deep vein thrombosis that was building up after sitting on my duff for roughly 10 hours.

The roads weren’t just boring, but an epic, periodic kind of boredom.  Even in the spartan areas of PA houses exist in clusters of 3-7 even in the boonies but Ohio went house with small backyard surrounded by hundreds of hectares of nothing followed by another house surrounded by hundreds of hectares of nothing.

There was a brief moment of farce when we asked the GPS for the nearest fuel and we were directed to a “Sunoco” that was actually an abandoned rail station surrounded by sorghum fields.  On the way we passed a sign for “Jim’s Custom Meats” which depicted a pig giving the “a-okay” sign.  This was preceded by a 30 mile stretch where the GPS was convinced Rt 30 was 50 yards to our right.  The half hour of “off route!  Take next right to route 30.  Make left on route 30. Off route!”  is slightly above “da da da” as things I hate to hear when driving.

IMG_1091-20090612-Friday at Banks

The highlight of the drive in was by far Tard’s slurpee in Ft. Wayne.   This is quickly followed by a close second by the collection of anti-abortion billboards of which my favorite is always “abortion stops a beating heart”.  One had a blank billboard below it on which I wanted to write “except in cases where the fetus has yet to develope to the point where it has cardiac cells or has some congenital developmental defect, but I doubt it would have lasted long.

We met Banks in Ft. Wayne after almost having to pull a General Lee to hit the McDonalds’ parking lot and he took us to “Flanagans” the stereotypical Scotch-Irish cultural island that every city of at least 100K people must have where I ordered the “Flan-jitas” which I pronounced as such with a hard j.  The server attempted to correct me that it was “fə-hē’tə”.  I think a bit of her died inside when I showed her the butchering on the menu.  The Flan-jitas were expensive and I should have gone with the Flan-burger with some Flan-diments.

Back at Banks’ I wind-mill slammed my 70-200 lens into the pavement but that was balanced out by the splendor of seeing the Jimmy Johnson room which contained a lifesized cutout wearing a straw hat and the bumper of his car after a victorious race of some sort.  This abutted his fallout shelter/exercise room which contained enough soup for him and his family to walk to southern Ohio in case of zombie invasion.

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Banks gazing lustfully at Jimmy Stewart

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Just in case

IMG_1100-20090612-Friday at Banks Banks also has a dog, Tootsie Roll, which he rescued.  At some point after doing so, she ate a bag of Tootsie rolls without dying although after 5 years she acted like she was still on a sugar rush from that incident.  In addition to the “Oh, shit” stock Banks basement had a carpetted bathroom.  The room in which I stayed had a shelf of books which I was told were signed, which is interesting as the shelf has a paperback copy of the Iliad.  Even if Homer has been dead for two millenia and may not have existed, I have no doubt Banks could get his signature.

This was the end of day 1.  All photos available below:[flickr album=72157619668029842 num=5 size=Thumbnail]