It seems like both a lot and very little has happened since I last checked in with this form of communicating with the outside world. But since I haven’t dialed in for a while, it’s probably good to put out the obligatory “not dead yet” missive.

The car thing from the last post worked out fine. After a truly comedic attempt at stuffing Fish & Madeleine into the Smart Car and then resigning to putting them on the Hertz shuttle, we went to one of the four people working behind the Hertz counter and it was thankfully not the same person who gave me the half-car in the first place. With Priceline already committed to investigate the issue of why’d I’d gotten the wrong car and send me a settlement in the next fortnight, I was hoping someone could possibly actually resolve the issue without me forking over more cash. The guy looked at the mismatch of car I’d reserved and car I’d been given like something crazy had happened, resolving to quickly restore order for free. I refrained from pointing out his crazy co-worker who’d bluffed me into the joke car and ran to get the keys and mileage from same. We spent the rest of the weekend cruising around in a spacious Toyota Yaris. You know, a car with both four seats and four doors!

The rest of the weekend was a great time – hanging out with Fish, Madeleine, Gris, Anna, and occasionally Nagrom as we interspersed discussions of politics, history, and race with Boggle, Yahtzee!, Bang! (one-word and exclam-heavy games only, apparently), tennis, and watching World Cup matches. Also got to see a very little of Jaque and Jenny both at a dim sum breakfast the morning of the wedding and at the wedding before they departed early. Saw even less of DK and Sara amidst their nuptial fervor, though their ceremony was beautiful right up until the officiant made the bizarre decision to pelt us with sexist Red Skelton jokes as we were contemplating the sanctity of their vows and commitment. So it goes. Catching up with both, especially DK and his parents, who remembered all the old crew, was great fun and it seems they’re putting together quite a good life in LA.

Then it was back to Russ’ where we completed our second-ever conquest of the World Cup for Denmark on the ultimate (World Class) level before checking in with the Wilsons in the first-ever conference with all of us in the Pacific time zone. The power of Skype has definitely been impressed on me in the last few weeks, between my video chats with Emily and periodic other conversations over free computer-to-computer networks. Also at Russ’, I saw two movies which probably join “The Corporation” as required viewing for the thoughtful person these days. And as scared as I was that “The Corporation” came out more than half a decade ago, it’s downright terrifying that both of these movies date from the time when I was barely verbal. Anyway, add “Koyaanisqatsi” (1982) and “My Dinner with Andre” (1981) to your upcoming playlist. I have since discovered that the former has two sequels, but they don’t quite have the same power of the original it seems, despite some thematic verve, especially in the conclusive piece subtitled “Life as War”.

Been in Albuquerque since a 7/7 flight where I overheard my two rowmates encouraging each other in their love in America and infinite faith in its power to both rebound and offer infinite opportunity to all. Made some major progress on editing thereon between the eavesdropping, and now stand a little over a third of the way through editing The Best of All Possible Worlds. Given the encouraging feedback that’s been coming in for all sorts of my creative endeavors, I’m really looking forward to hearing what people think of this one as a real departure from my past novels. Also newly reinvigorated to start submitting ADO to agents when I hit the sweltering East Coast once more. Everything’s coming up Milhouse.

Albuquerque has been the usual good mix of New Mexican food (Frontier 2, Waffle House 1, Garcia’s 1 as of this writing), long conversations, and perfect warm weather. The yard is in full bloom and I’m starting to believe all the bees left alive on the planet are actively engaging the flowers in my parents’ well-tended garden. The house is less changed than usual as my Dad struggles with arthritis and my Mom seems to be prone to pulling or straining various things. They’re doing well otherwise, though, in good spirits and with plenty of energy. The new cat, Nesbitt, has also been a joy, though he seems more thoughtful and reserved than any of his species I’ve known in the past.

Today just got word that Cliff Lee, one of my favorite and briefest Mariners, has been shipped to Texas in exchange for Justin Smoak and a bevy of prospects. Given the pitching staff and prospects to come, the length of Lee’s contract (ending after this year), and the need to restock our farm, it’s clearly a great move. Especially looking at the 34-51 record they’ve compiled, an inexplicable shock that’s the sum total of bad luck and an abandonment of the very concept of clutch hitting. The team continues to build around the right things, though, and I have to believe that the new GM will be able to continue to work magic that will hopefully lead to a breakthrough. But this season is over and I guess I don’t mind much, since it takes the pressure off going to Africa and feeling like I’m missing something back here.

Other than the friends and family I’m trying to see before I go, there’s just not much to miss.