Let me back up and start at the beginning:
- The Reunion -- The reunion was a blast. And I'm not just saying that because I helped plan it. As previously mentioned, we had money left over, and started out by giving everyone $10 and a free drink ticket. That probably helped. But the really fun thing was just seeing all these people again. In my role as de facto class webmaster, I have a vague idea of what a lot of people are up to. But in terms of really keeping in touch, there are only a few folks that I actually communicate with regularly. So it was a pretty cool thing to see all these people in the same place having a great time. Everyone seems to be doing well -- and it's amazing how many different paths people have taken. A lot of people still live in Maryland, but there are also outposts in Seattle, Florida, St. Louis, NYC, and just about every other corner of the country. There are doctors, lawyers, actors, computer programmers, marine biologists, aircraft carrier drivers, and (yikes!) parents of four children.
The evening was, if anything, too short (the hotel cut off our electricity to get rid of us!) and ended with an increasingly drunken party at a local dive bar on Route 1.
- The Tradeshow -- Entirely by accident, the reunion coincided with a major trade show in Washington, so I the company actually paid my way to DC! Once the reunion was over, I spent a few days hiking around a massive exhibit floor in DC's brand new convention center. I also managed to schedule a visit to another division of our company on Wednesday to look at a system we're considering buying.
On Thursday I was supposed to join my Mom to go down to my grandfather's farm and see my grandmother in the nursing home. However, my mom was planning this little excursion, and I was shanghaied and forced to fix computers at her office. So we were off to a late start to begin with. This was followed by the two hour drive to the farm, a hurried lunch at the Stanardsville Dairy Queen, and quick visits to the farm and the nursing home.
My mom was supposed to be back for a 7:00 meeting, and I had a 9:00 flight, so we burned rubber up Route 29, only to hit massive traffic jams as we approached the city. (You would think heading into DC in rush hour would be easy, but not so much.) In an attempt to avoid the beltway traffic jam, we tried staying on I-66 toward downtown. When that didn't work, we got off, and partly due to garbled directions phoned in by my dad, ended up winding across half of northern Virginia before finally cutting through downtown and back up into Maryland. My mom was late for her meeting, and meanwhile my dad was throwing all my remaining belongings into my suitcase and rushing to meet us so that I could get to the airport on time. Needless to say this wasn't really the most relaxing day.
- Back in Nashville, I figured everything would calm down for a while, and got ready to enjoy a complete weekend with no plans. Which worked well, until Sunday morning, when one of our key servers had a heart attack on the table during scheduled maintenance and refused to wake up. So I was called in to work and spent most of the next three days there. We finally got things back to normal at 5:00 AM on Tuesday.
- Independence Day -- Once the crisis was resolved, I made a split-second decision to fly back up to DC for the 4th of July weekend. My yougest brother was home from the summer camp where he's currently employed, so I got to see him for the first time since last winter. I was pondering the idea of trying to go downtown for the big national parade, but am glad I didn't since it was called off early due to a deluge of biblical proportions. Instead we had a quick family cookout in between rainstorms, and then I went to a party at a friend's apartment in the city. Last year they had a good view of the fireworks through their window, but this year the smoke was blowing towards us and we mostly saw clounds. Still, it was fun. As I drove back up Georgia Avenue toward home, the city streets were sputtered and popped as the locals experimented with their own (illegal) fireworks. It was fun driving through it all.
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Takoma Park had been the subject of good-natured ribbing for delaying its festivities until Monday, but the city had the last laugh when the day dawned sunny and dry. Unfortunately my brother left that morning to meet a new group of campers. But my parents and I did our annual march over to old-town for the festivities. As always, the parade was a hoot, with various organizations and neighborhood associations turning out. As the Post pointed out,
Grant Avenue offered up a giant gray-and-yellow cardboard Humvee that was propelled Fred Flintstone-style by nearly a dozen hot and sweaty denizens of that street. Labeled "Weapon of Mass Consumption" for its figuratively unquenchable thirst for fuel, it careened wildly right and left along the route with Dan Robinson as driver.
"Every five seconds, we run out of gas," he explained with a grin.
The presidential campaign was never far removed, with marchers in the Sherman Avenue "Bush Country" entry chanting, tongue firmly in cheek, "Don't think -- vote Bush" as they passed by. "Billionaires for Bush" appeared a few minutes later, in tuxedos and evening gowns.
We spent part of the afternoon planning my parents' trip to Italy this fall, and then grilled again for dinner. After dinner my dad and I trekked over to Takoma Middle School for the local fireworks. And thus ended by Independece Day extravaganza -- the next morning I was back at work and trying to catch up. So this is only the second time I've spent a full day at home since the middle of June. Whew.