March 17th, 2002

default, pepper

Random thoughts

Chapter 4 of In Our Image has been like pulling teeth. Long ago when I was writing "The Lighthouse" I hit a scene that took months to get through--it only worked when I abandoned it entirely. The problem, evidently, was that the scene didn't happen. Maybe I need to rethink what's going on in this chapter entirely.

Last night a friend and I ate at "Chillada's," a (fairly) new taqueria that opened up a couple miles from my apartment. Pretty good--and it's nice to see more taquerias opening in the area.

Intermedia, the place I used to work at, just announced more layoffs--part of layoffs across the board at WorldCom this time. The scuttlebutt is that virtually all their Tampa operations will be gone by the end of the year. I wonder whether I'll still be at NetPoodles come December. For all my protesting, it does look like I'm going to be there until something really drastic happens, doesn't it?

I've bumbled into yet another online personality test--this one a career-matching one, for a fee. (You get a "free sample" which is just to one side of completely useless. I'm tempted, but can't shake that "haven't I been here before?" feeling. If I'm told "you'd be good as a computer programmer," well, thanks for the newsflash. If I'm told I really seem to fit a career that requires training I don't have, what do I do with the information? "Get the training" is an obvious answer, but as the cliché goes, it's easier said than done.

Decision for the day, then:

  1. Pay a little bit for the information and see what career counselors would be likely to tell me at this stage in my life.
  2. Follow the old TRS-80 programming maxim, "Never check for an error condition you can't handle."

Actually, it's probably a decision for the evening. I dropped into bed for a nap (ha!) at 9:30 yesterday night and woke up again at 6:30 this morning, and I've been sitting here poking around until almost 10:00 a.m. I feel like I should have been out of the apartment doing something over an hour ago. My apartment lease is up at the end of May, and I'm seriously considering moving--although that's another implicit dilemma, of course: I won't feel comfortable moving (or indeed signing any lease, even a new one here) unless I hear something about NetPoodles getting more money. Or unless I get a new job by the end of April, of course.

So off to... somewhere.
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Notes from the field

6:51 pm, Orange City

I'm at a Fazoli's just off I-4, not too far from where it meets I-95 on Florida's east coast--just west of Daytona Beach. A few years ago I thought of Daytona Beach as driven entirely by the tourism generated by one week in the spring. It still gives that impression--but the week has changed. Before it was Spring Break. Now it is Bike Week. I've stopped for dinner here; Fazoli's is a chain of fast food Italian that doesn't exist in Tampa Bay. They aren't great, but--as heretical as it is--they're the equal of a lot of "neighborhood Italian" diners, and better than some. When I'm out on a pointless jaunt around the state, if I can't find a neat-looking independent restaurant, I'll at least try to find a place I can't go to back home.

The drive today took me through Ocala (where I stopped for lunch at "Lee's Famous Chicken," which also appears to be a chain we don't have in Tampa) and on through the Ocala National Forest, down a detour on an awful dirt road to a scenic lake, and north to Palatka and Ravine Gardens State Park. I finished shooting a roll of film that's been in my camera forever and discovered the roll was not the generic Fujifilm 200 I'd thought it was, but instead a roll of Portra 160VC. Portra's better film but it's more fragile than drugstore film is, so I don't have any idea how that'll come out.

After poking around the park--yes, indeed, it's a real ravine in Florida--I kept heading east until I hit A1A, right on the Atlantic ocean, and drove down through Daytona Beach until I hit US 92, which took me, well, to this Fazoli's. And on this drive, something odd happened.

See, I've never been to Palatka, and I drove through a couple towns I've never visited like Crescent City. But along US 17 (the road I headed north on after crossing the national forest on SR 40), I started passing fern farms, and I thought, "Hey, is this going to be that town that claims to be the national capital of ferns?" And it was. (Pierson, if for some reason you're interested.) And I realized I'd been there before. I've almost certainly been through Crescent City before.

And what occurred to me was the thought: After Palatka, I've been everywhere in Florida.

This isn't really true, of course. I've hardly been to Miami. I've never been to Panama City. I've driven through Marineland, Florida, twice (the most recent time being a couple hours ago) but I've never been to "Marineland," the park the town's named for (and that the more famous Sea World parks were modeled after, at least until Busch took them over and started adding roller coasters).

But I couldn't shake the thought. The problem with Florida--well, besides six-month-long summers in which both Fahrenheit temperature and relative humidity regularly break 90--is that you can't really explore anywhere else on a day trip, or even weekend trip, if you live anywhere south of the Panhandle. The state doesn't look big on a map, but that's because it's thin. The problem is that it's not just thin, it's tall. From Tampa, getting out of the state on I-75 is five hours; getting from here to Tallahassee is a little more than five hours and still leaves you with over an hour to go to get out of the state on I-10.

Time to hit the very familiar I-4 and head back. Part of me would like to stop at a coffee shop on the way back... but I don't have a destination in mind, and I probably don't have time if I don't want to go straight to bed when I get home (which I shouldn't do). I'll settle for vending machine cappuccino from a rest stop, which has its own unique appeal.

Postscript: I actually stopped at a Dunkin' Donuts maybe twenty minutes later for fresh decaf with too much cream and sugar. (After two glasses of sweet iced tea at Fazoli's, I didn't need more caffeine.)