Bruce is a very good host. We had this plan that when Sean got back from Tampa, he'd call, and Bruce would come over. But it turns out that Bruce's back was NOT hurt, as Sean had reported (he still insists that's what he was told - it was never resolved why he was told that), but Bruce's Great-uncle passed away at 9. Bruce and Cheryl had to go to Virginia Beach. From what Bruce said about his great Uncle, he sounds like a great guy, and will be missed. But since he'd been in his car almost nonstop since last Sunday, he called me on Saturday, saying he'd prefer to have the meeting at his house. When Sean called on Sunday, I told him, and he agreed.
So, we went to the FanTek house, which ... for me, is kind of like going back home. There are a lot of things of my past there. First, there are a few items that actually used to belong to me, and when I moved into the FanTek house back in 1987, got fused with their collection. Then, when I left, I didn't take them with me because I was moving to a smaller room. So it's kind of weird to see, "Hey, those are the towels that my mother bought for the yacht back in 1978... in Bruce's bathroom." Just weird stuff like that. They also have a few items I grew up to from my room, like posters and a stuff. I don't say this because I want them back, I say this because it's kind of cool to visit them, and know they have gotten more love and attention than I would have given them. In addition, they still have stuff I remember buying with them. When they moved from the small house in Hyattsville to the one in Mount Vernon, we were short furniture. There was a several month period, when I was between jobs, that Bruce kept my spirits up by having me tag along with him. Usually to shop. Bruce, Cheryl, Liska, and I (maybe Debbie, too) would go "garage sailing," as Cheryl called it, to get stuff we needed for the house cheap. Some of the relics are still there, like their kitchen table (bought at a Reston garage sale), the "bathtub chairs" (bought at a Reston swap meet), and just assorted items from my memories that make me realize that FanTek holds better memories of my youth than any other place on Earth. I hadn't been there in a while, in fact, so long, there were massive changes that Cheryl said, "Uh... we did that years ago, Punkie." Like removing the carpeting in the living room, getting a new gas stove, and the Jacuzzi (which I knew about from the list). I have made a mental note to go more often.
We started out with the CCNA, and Cheryl kept apologizing for the mess which hadn't been moved since the con unloaded into their house. She told me a tale that she finally got rid of the Registration Box, a box so heinous, it refused to close properly, and could not be locked. In fact, it would spring open and scatter stuff everywhere at each con, apparently. Sort of an explosive piñata of money, address cards, and loose pens. I had brought my luggable Compaq Personal III computer (a relic from 1989), which has already been set up to talk to Cisco routers. But the keyboard started to stick again, and that made typing a wee bit hard. Then Chris Schafer called, and Bruce had to help her with her new computer (which she won at the raffle), which had died after one of her grandkids hit it. Bruce figured out he had to go and fix it. We took apart the two non-working clones of the machines, and found out that the chips in them (AMD 2000's) were "factory seconds," and the motherboard were PCChips, the cheapest motherboards still allowed in the US (my exaggeration). After a lot of testing, we think most of the parts in these boxes are junk (I am not so sure about the hard drives, either, for instance), but we're going to try and resurrect them at some point.
Then we ate dinner, which was fish, veggies, bread, and "spuds." More talking. Cheryl seems really interested in Aerospace and Aeronautics, and talked about her future degree in management through a little known local college called Capital College, which was mainly for engineering students, but has recently expanded. It sounded great! Sean was full of admissions advice, and was interested in some of their credit programs.
Then Albedo came by to pick up his sweater he left at the house, and we all discussed subnetting for a while. Then we broke for dessert, and then it was time to go home. I had a really good time. Sean and I discussed going to Fantasm again, even though some of you have already mailed me about how sad and pathetic it is. But we have friends going (like Tiger), and Sean and I have already attended one disastrous con, why not attend another? We pretty much make our own fun. We discussed dressing as pirates and Mexican bandits for not other reason than we could. Besides, I just have to see the merchants at this con!
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000343.html