two days with my dad

Georgia trip continued: On Monday, August 4, my mom dropped me off at my dad’s place in Sharpsbug. He spends a large percentage of his time in other parts of the world, but the house he rents in Sharpsburg is in a nice location, surrounded by trees and a well tended garden. He has a porch that overlooks a very large pond, and it was very peaceful sitting there on Tuesday morning drinking coffee and watching the birds, a lone rabbit, and a family of chipmunks go about their business.

We ran some errands, stocking the kitchen after his long stay in Greece, going to a favorite barber, and at one point my dad was going to buy me a massage at a local spa (I had talked about getting one in preparation for the upcoming semester), but alas, they were all booked up. We also rented the The Quiet American (2002), with Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser. The film, based on Graham Greene’s 1955 novel, provides a chilling portrait of American foreign policy as na‘ve and idealistic on the surface, but profoundly amoral and self-interested at the core. It’s a timely reminder, in my opinion. (Also worth a post-9/11 look is 1998’s The Siege, which I watched on cable with my mom. This movie would have been better in the hands of an indie director with a smaller budget and less of a penchant for overuse of a stirring soundtrack, but the screenplay is pretty good.)

There were two points at which I realized that consumer electronics (for those who can afford them) have gotten pretty sophisticated, and you don’t have to be a techical genius (mostly) to use them.

First, at my dad’s gym, the weight machines are all networked to a central computer, located in an ATM-sized kiosk, where you log in before beginning your workout. Then, as you go from machine to machine, you punch in your i.d., and your previous efforts on that machine are presented so you can gauge how much progress you’re making (or not). I was blown away. This is obviously a relatively simple thing to pull off, but I had no idea that someone had actually implemented such a system.

Second, my dad’s car, a late-model Lexus, is a marvel of modern technology. Well, at least it is to me. The highlight is the GPS-enabled computer display mounted in the dashboard. You simply enter the address of your destination, and the computer displays a map of your progress, and also gives you auditory instructions. This was tricky when we drove to Chuck’s place in Atlanta on Tuesday because I was spelling the street incorrectly. Thus, a clash between my way of travelling (“You go by that gas station with the big green sign just after the donut shop and then take a right on the street with all the nice houses.”) and my dad’s car (“Please enter the correct street address”) proved irreconcilable. I won, by the way. It had been probably ten years since I had travelled the route we took to Chuck’s place, and Atlanta has changed a great deal since then, but I was able to recognize enough landmarks to get there. And a cellphone call to Chuck when we were close helped, too.

After being dropped off at Chuck, the Atlanta adventures began…

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