I had some time Friday morning, so I hopped a shuttle to the zoo. I didn’t have a lot of time to spend at there, since I knew that I needed to get back to the hotel before noon to check out and make it to the airport on time. I somehow missed the bus going back, though, and ended up sitting outside for over an hour waiting for the next one. This might have been irritating were it not for the gorgeous weather and the realization that this is the first time in memory — certainly in the past two weeks — that I’ve just sat and calmly done nothing. It was nice to have some introspective time and relax. Met a nice guy from China, we talked for a while. He spent a summer in Minnesota once, so is the first person I’ve talked to who isn’t afraid of our weather. :-)

The bus ride has convinced me to return to San Diego someday. This is a beautiful area and there’s much that I’d like to see. If OSCON is held here again, maybe I can convince Kiara and the kid to come out with me. She would have been so bored here with me in a conference all day and sometimes at night.

The bus was another opportunity to slow down, look around at the city. There were people on the bus just reading the paper. I wanted to shake them and scream, “Look around, you fool! You’re missing out!” Back home, I read a lot on the bus, maybe three hours a day. But I never read when I’m going through new territory, I love to look around to see what’s around me. And I never read while passing over the Mississippi River, which I do at least twice a day. This is something that I learned from the father of a high school friend, who for decades drove across town and across the river every day on his way to work. No matter how often he saw the river, he told me, it was still a very special moment. Since then I’ve spent a lot of time living quite close to the river, and I still approach it with that same reverence.

Perhaps I need these small moments of peace because I’ve had to deal with such foolishness. Checking out of the hotel, I discovered that they expected me to pick up the $1000+ tab. I had been under the impression that my employer had taken care of this with a purchase order over a month ago when the reservations were made. The hotel clerk brandished his best condescending smile and showed me the list of people whose employers had paid their way, highlighting in yellow where my name wasn’t. Ah. Thank you for clearing that up, Mr. Smarmy.

Thank god for cell phones. I called our office manager, who had made the reservations. While I was off at the zoo, he did some digging and discovered that although the hotel reservations people had told him quite clearly that they accept POs, and he had faxed a copy to the number they provided, the hotel accountants do not accept POs. So I ended up having to put the whole damn thing on my credit card and will have to expedite the reimbursement when I return to work on Monday. I work for the State, for god’s sake, this won’t be easy. Our office manager is on top of things, though, so I have some hope.

So thanks, Sheraton. Except for this one major gaff, your service was superlative. Too bad that this fuckup so badly colors the experience. What gets me — no, galls me — is that in this whole intervening month, no one bothered to notify us that the PO wouldn’t be accepted. So yes, Mr. Smarmy, it is your fault.

I’ve been sleeping poorly all week. Up ’til 2am most nights, up until 4 Friday night. And waking up before my already-too-early alarm went off. This cannot be good. It was when I found myself struggling to explain in email how different web browsers have implemented layers and that scripting them in non-DOM browsers is a pain in the ass that I realized that it was 4am and I was not making sense and may have even been wrong. Tired, exhausted, but unable to sleep. I eventually drifted off for a few hours before I woke up around 8am. Without an alarm clock.

Maybe this is another reason that I don’t travel much. Here I thought that it was because I do the same damn stuff away from home that I do at home: sit in coffeehouses and avoid people. :-) Or maybe that’s why I can’t sleep.

My father-in-law was hoping that I’d go out to the cabin this weekend to celebrate birthdays (in a bizarre quirk of fate, he, my brother-in-law and I all have the same birthday). I cannot imagine anything that I’d like less when I finally get home than to drive across the state. Besides, after I take a good, long nap, I’d like to spend Saturday evening with my family.

Turns out that my dad had an emergency appendectomy sometime last week, and it wasn’t the routine surgical procedure that it often is. I say “sometime last week” because when I found out about this last night, no one seemed to sure what had happened. My dad didn’t really tell anyone until shortly before he was released from the hospital. <sigh style=’frustrated angry’ />.

But I made it to the airport and got home.

It was 108F in Phoenix (40+ C). I had hoped again to step outside to see what 108 degrees felt like: I have been told numerous times that hot heat like that in the desert Southwest isn’t anything like the humid heat here in Minnesota. But airport security is such now that there’s no way I would have time to make it outside then back in through security in time for the flight. Next time.

One thing became immediately apparent: I was no longer surrounded by geeks. On the airplane I was reading Mastering Regular Expressions and kept expecting to be able to lean over and comment on the book. But no, then I’d be “that crazy guy who sat next to me on the flight home.” I was among people who couldn’t care less what a regular expression is, never mind how to optimize one for an NFA engine. Sigh.

Today I got my chance. I had the book with me at a coffeeshop over lunch, and the guy behind me in line asked, “Is that the new edition?” Impressive. The book’s only been out a week. He mentioned that he was hoping to find a DFA that supported subexpressions, and we talked about it briefly while I finished my espresso. I’m just getting into the chapter on regex engines, so this is quite interesting to me but I couldn’t really comment. What should not go without mention is that this is one of the same guys who started talking to me when I was carrying around the a few months ago and feeling quite antisocial.

The book, by the way, is terrific. If you want to really, really understand regular expressions, read this book. In it, Friedl delves into mind-blowing territory, carefully walking the reader through an introduction to regex, a tour of regex flavors and metacharacters (including an illuminating section on Unicode), then gets into the details of different regex engines and how to optimiize for each one. New to this edition is a treatment on regular expressions in Java and .NET, as well as (of course) Perl. Well worth the read.

Once I made it home, I decided to take the weekend off from computers. So it’s taken me a while to post this. Instead I hung out wiith Kiara, did the birthday dinner thing, and painted the hallway down to the basement. I’ve discovered one more thing that I hate doing: painting. Kiara painted the whole basement while I was gone, but wisely held off on the staircase (her balance never being good, it’s even worse in her pregnancy). She is rightfully proud of her work in the basement, but then she’s very results-oriented. I’m not. She can look at a job well done and feel good about it. I look at the hallway and think, “God, I hope I never have to do that again.”

To work, then, much too much to do. I’m going to have to start digesting all the materials and notes I brought back from OSCON.