Hogarty, WI -- May 2003

Part 1: Dulles Airport

I hate my copy of Practical Cryptography . Mind you, the book appears to be well-written and sound, and I would generally recommend its perusing and its purchase. It is simply my copy of it that I hate. In the last-minute bustle before heading to the airport, my wife called to me, "Don't forget to bring a book." I have been reading going through Practical Cryptography to improve my understanding of current cryptographic mechanisms, and thought that the quiet of central Wisconsin would provide me some opportunity to browse, even with my six-year-old son present. Bringing the book was a complete afterthought, and I carried it in my hand and not in a bag. The importance of this will be demonstrated shortly.

Unfortunately, I printed the wrong e-ticket information the night before, and missed the flight. I had, for some reason, not noticed that the e-ticket I printed was dated February instead of May, and that it only went to Chicago, and not all the way through to Central Wisconsin Airport(CWA). The end result is that my son and I missed our planned flight. At Washington Dulles Airport, this is not normally much of a problem, but United has recently removed as many personnel from domestic checkins as possible (replacing them with electronic kiosks, and if you have a problem the feeling appears to be that if its your own damn fault (as it was in my case) you can just wait in a different line (specifically, the international checkins, which aren't serviced by robots) and the humans there can deal with you. Unfortunately, I left my book at the e-ticket booth. Fortunately, the otherwise unhelpful robot-agent ("ticket agent" doesn't really apply) brought it back to me.

So we waited in another line--for international checkins. The International Checkins Ticket Agent was momentarily confused when I said I was flying to Central Wisconsin, but she understood when I explained that I had missed my flight and needed to book another. She determined that my best bet for getting to O'Hare to make my flight to CWA was to attempt to fly "stand-by". That is to say, they would try to squeeze me on the plane. However, I would not be able to check my bags with her because I was not actually booked on the flight yet--that would be handled at the gate.

I have carried my Leatherman SuperTool on my person for several years. Knowing that recent scares have prohibited knives and such from being carried on planes, I packed it in the bag I was going to check. But because I was flying standby, I couldn't check my bag. Because I couldn't check my bag, I had to carry it through security. Which means the Transportation Safety Administration ( TSA ) drones saw it on the X-Ray machine and confiscated it.

So off my son and I went to the concourse, using a Mobile Lounge that are the trademark if Washington Dulles airport. If there is a slower and more expensive way to shuttle people from one concourse to another, I certainly hope I never see it. Eventually my son and I reached the gate, and were paged almost immediately to go to the desk. "Wonderful!" I thought. "Surely that means there will be room on the flight." Nope. I'd left my copy of Practical Cryptography at the International Checkin desk, and unless I go claim it, it will be considered a security risk. No, nobody could bring it to me, because... it could be considered a security risk. I find it ironic that a book about cryptography, the use of which is considered a munition but the printing of which is covered by the First Amendment, was deemed a potential security risk. But of the people involved, I bet I was the only one interested in that irony.

So... I got to hustle myself and my son (and my bags) back onto a mobile lounge, go to the International Checkin area, collect my book, go through security again ("Hey, you look familiar." "Yeah, but you've still got my pocket knife."), go back to my concourse via mobile lounge, and return to my gate. To wait.

And wait we did. All the premier members boarded, all the economy class passengered boarded. Then the lowly scum-sucking stand-by's were called one at a time. Some other lady got called before me, then my name. I approached the desk, and was given one ticket. I looked at it. What about my son? "Oh, well, he doesn't have as many miles as you do, so he's a lower priority." He's six. The gate agent moved onto the next person while I stood there baffled. The next person, who will scored numerous karma points, said, "Bump me. Keep the dad with his kid. That's a no-brainer." The gate agent shook his head, and handed me another ticket.

I photographed none of this. It happened too quickly, and even if I could have, I don't see the point of it. But there are more pictures below. Really.

The house at Hogarty looked more-or-less as it has for the last 10 years. A wasp had decided to build a nest over the kitchen door, but that appeared to have happened not this year--it was mercifully unoccupied. That didn't keep me or my son from being scared of it. There were numerous other nests some of which were piled on top of each other, plus a couple of hornet's nests [ 1 2 ]. The kitchen door was also rusting, which I took care of later in the week, and the front door has been damaged (apparently by vermin) sufficiently to permit a good amount of water to come in. The latter will be a highly unpleasant job to repair. Unpleasant enough that I don't want to attempt it.

The house is near a gravel pit that was drained 40-plus years ago. Parts of the Eau Claire river flow through it [ 1 2 3 4 ].

On memorial day, I took my son to the Dells of Eau Claire. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 But it's more than just forest and river. There's also a dam, too. 1 2

Our neighbor has decided to add to his junk heap. That is just one of about a dozen junk heaps, some of which I'm sure go back 40 years. In the heap photographed I could clearly see a recliner chair, television, washing machine, screen door, oven range, and something that I can only assume was a football-shaped beer cooler. Other heaps have similar stuff, but some have more empty beer bottles and kegs than others.

Our neighbor also decided at some point to build a motorcycle dirt track that my son enjoyed running over (sometimes with his grandmother in tow). The local kids ran their dirtbikes over the track a handful of times when there. It's annoying, but I suppose it's what this "freedom" business is supposed to be about.

Life in this part of the country is a lot different than I have grown accustomed to. I think this says a lot about it. Yet somehow, I didn't get to read much more than a parapgraph from Pracitcal Cryptography. That is why I don't like the book--all that hassle for it, and I didn't even look at it.

Here are a couple more pictures I can't think of anything to say about: 1 2