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The Amtrack Coast Starlight.
November 10th, 1999

I'm Dribbling Off
I sometimes complain about short term memory loss or at least what I call short term memory loss. Forgetting names I should know and then remembering them later. Embarrassing lapses, people you've known for years at the office, people I've worked with in the past, but no one really scary yet like my sister. Or my mother. I've lost a cousin or two, but I have a number of them, most of whom I don't see very often. I occasionally think about this. Does it get worse (yes), but how much worse? Like this evening.

This evening I suffered a lapse that doesn't really worry me, I guess, although maybe it should. I find it vaguely humorous. I drove down to meet Dick and Sam for dinner in Fremont after work, arriving 20 minutes late because the traffic was heavy, sat down at the bar, ordered a beer and, sipping the beer, remembered a short series of emails we'd exchanged moving the dinner date to next Wednesday the 17th.

I thought about that, sipping my beer, remembering the heavy traffic I'd just passed traveling in the opposite direction, thought about time and traffic and then ordered dinner. The drive down wasn't so great and the drive back wasn't so great, but "wasn't so great" is, you know, not the end of the world and meanwhile here I am in this restaurant bar with a nice beer, some salsa and chips and pretty soon now, some chicken taquitas.

Young men were talking with attractive women to my right. The attractive women were smiling. A bowling program was playing on the television set back up above the bar to my left. Life was OK and drinking beer in Fremont at a comfortable restaurant bar waiting for food to arrive was OK too. As I said, I should have thought more about this dinner on Wednesday, maybe pasted a reminder note somewhere obvious. Mentioned it to one of my more coherent coworkers.

Today some of us hopped into a van and drove over to a company located near the Oakland City Center at a Warriors basketball team promotion. Oakland airport. My boss knows the Chief Information Officer at this company so we were going over to see a system they're using called Citrix. You hear people talk about "thin clients", PC "devices" connected to a network where all the computing is done on a central server rather than on the PC itself. The only traffic over the network wire are your keystrokes and mouse movements going to the server and the resulting displays traveling back to your monitor. No software on the PC at all, other than some code that allows the PC to boot and make the initial connection to the server, or, in some cases, just a programmable chip with enough code inside to negotiate that initial connection. No copies of Microsoft Word sitting on your local hard drive. No real need for a local hard drive at all. Everything done by the server at the other end of the wire. Or modem.

I mention this because it was personally interesting and because the whole PC revolution originated with a cry of "one computer for every user". Now we seem to be looking at a model that resembles the old central mainframe with dumb terminals. The PC will always be around in some form, but the mix will change and for the first time I think we'll see "thin clients" not only in our kind of organization, but in homes connected to the Internet. The idea of owning software (or a license to use software) will give way to models that include loading software as you need it, load software as you need it from the site you're browsing and being charged, how? By the minute? Part of your ISP fee? Making you read ads from a mail order book company? The pace picks up and just gets quicker and quicker.

I booked a sleeper on the Coast Starlight going to Seattle this morning over the Internet. There were no sleepers available for the return trip so I booked a flight on South West Airlines. $393 to travel to Seattle, $83 to return. No comparison. I'd much rather take the train and pay the money and that's always been true except for all those times I didn't have the money. Some things do get better with age (and income). Some things.

Mr. Wuss is spaced out with his head resting on my left wrist, bouncing just a little as I type. I worried about him earlier sitting at that bar, remembering I'd put out some of the piss thinning wonder cat food prescribed by the vet this morning (which he wouldn't eat), but not really putting out enough for him to eat when he really got hungry. He'd cleaned his dish all right when I returned, but he didn't seem particularly upset and he's been ignoring the refill I put out from the open can I keep capped in the refrigerator. Cold tasteless mediciney good for your urinary tract cat food. Yummy.

Tomorrow I'll schedule the next sonogram. They said two months. Other than being hungry all the time he's acting normally, peeing when and where he's supposed to. Maybe we'll get lucky and the crystals that have been forming in his gall bladder will have dissolved and he can get back to some kind of maintenance diet that he finds edible. So he doesn't meow and look at me like I'm responsible. Which I am, of course, but after a certain age you learn to take the blame. Part of the contract.

I am informed by my cousin that his daughter is reading this regularly at Washington State University where she is a student. Don't tell your father I occasionally say "fuck" and talk about drugs, OK? I know, I know. Nothing you don't hear every day over, um, coffee, but your father, you see, is almost my age and wouldn't understand.

It's late now. I'm dribbling off and talking rubbish.

The banner photograph was taken on the Coast Starlight last summer. The singer was singing away at the Warriors basketball promotion at Oakland City Center last week.