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Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Holiday Cheer

We’re staying at my sister-in-law Wendy’s place in Chicago over Christmas after a wonderful visit to Madison—where we celebrated my son Jonathan’s graduation from the University of Wisconsin.

This may be a hurried post because I’m on a dial-up connection here, and there’s only one phone line. Wendy’s two twenty-somethings are here, along with my two. Phone use is, needless to say, limited.

But I do want to squeeze in a few words while I can about the thrill of the past few days. First there was watching Jon receive his degree. Then celebrating and bar-hopping with Jon, his beautiful girlfriend, Ali, three of Jon’s best friends and former roommates, and Jon’s cousins—a superb group of young people. Madison, by the way, is a bar-hopper’s delight. Of course, Jill and I could only manage a limited circuit of the bar-hop, after which our aging bodies had to retire for the night.

Then, the icing on the cake—my visits with Dorothea Salo and Frank Paynter—my very first blogger-meets. Unfortunately, my tight schedule didn’t allow for much time with either, but it was still a memorable experience for me to meet face-to-face with two people that I read almost daily.

In both cases, I found that the real person behind the blog is very much the person I’ve come to know in the blog. It’s no doubt due to the fact that both of these sterling individuals are such excellent writers, and both are what-you-see (and read)-is-what-you-get.

Seeing Dorothea

We spent a very pleasant hour or so at Dorothea’s place and got to meet her husband, David, and the famous goth-kitties, admirable creatures who reflect some of their mistress’s qualities—curious, direct, engaging, and friendly. Just as it’s stimulating to one’s intellect to read her blog, so it is to be in her real-world presence.

I’ve often experienced--when I’m attempting to interact with someone of Dorothea’s level of intellect—that I’m being treated with condescension or impatience. That is so totally not what you get with Dorothea. She’s right there with you 100%, even though she could wipe the mat with you intellectually. A great attribute.

Jill and I also enjoyed meeting David and hearing about the Lord of the Rings movies and thumbing through the amazing book of photographs of cast, crew, locations and outtakes from the films. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful book of which only a few hundred were printed for distribution to people involved with the film. We felt so privileged to be able to see it. A big thank you to Dorothea and David for inviting us over.

Seeing Frank

Monday morning, Frank and I squeezed in a breakfast meeting on Frank’s way to work. It was horribly early given my carousing the night before, but definitely worth getting up for. Even at seven in the morning in the sterile confines of an empty, soulless hotel restaurant, Frank manages to project that same twinkly quality that we’ve all come to know and love on the pages of his blog.

It was quite a coincidence that his son had just graduated that weekend as well. I mentioned that it was the first time I had ever been to a college commencement. We both remarked on the fact that when we were in college in the sixties, no one except dorks and establishmentarian ass-kissers went to their own commencements. It was very politically incorrect (actually that term hadn’t yet been invented. I think bourgeois might have been our derisive term of choice—a classier term if I may say so).

Frank filled me in on some of the blog happenings that I had missed during my travels—e.g. the new blog by Chris Locke on Corante. Looking forward to checking it out when I have more time.

When it came time to present the check, the server intuitively sensed that, of the two consultants sitting at the table, Frank was the one with the fat contract. I made the obligatory and perfunctory protestation, and Frank generously waved away my feeble attempt. Next time it’s on me, old boy. I do hope we can do this again sometime, only in a more casual setting with our wives joining in.

All in all, a special time for this blogger. Now it’s time to relinquish the phone line and wrap some presents. Happy holidays to all!


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