Charlotte Diary September 2000

August 29th September 9th September17th October 9th

Sunday 17/9/00    2551


SouthportPrompted by the film, "I know what you did last summer", I drove down US route 74, and the 211 to Southport. The road ends at the beach, more or less the car park of a seafood restaurant.

This is a small fishing community, with an eye to keeping their houses immaculate, ready for the next film crew to turn up.

Billy Graham alive and well, pounding the air waves with his evangelical message. Quite fascinating to listen to, as I thrashed back up the various interstates. It took him an hour to cover the Three Temptations of Christ.

I've learnt something from that: don't be afraid to repeat endlessly to emphasize a message - my software documentation should be more interesting from now on. Yes, my software documentation really will be more interesting from now on.

Sort of goes against my software mentality that. Isn't the first step of data normalization is to remove repeating groups? Occam's razor doesn't have a chance!

Bread anyone?

Monday 18/9/00    3144

Veggie Dip

Getting vegetarian food is difficult. OK, I'm not veggie - but I am veggie empathic. The ingredients on the tub of "Veggie Dip" I purchased today contains gelatin.  That comes from boiling up Moo Cow bones doesn't it?

Hurricane Gordan

The remains of the tropical storm arrives, dumping rain continuously all day. At least you get proper weather here!

Tuesday 19/9/00    3153


Now added to the collection:

Wednesday 20/9/00    3162

Bell South

I visit our downtown office today. Some scabby little web based database app I wrote a year ago has been noticed. Nice to feel wanted!

I get the tour: 100's of traders with flat panel screens; racks of extremely expensive Cisco kit with optical Gigabit back-planes. 

The reception area has a reasonable museum dedicated to Bell South telephones. Interesting to nose around - cross bar switches to ringing generators - all sorts of good junk.

It's a bit worrying that I know and understand what every bit kit in the museum did - and yet the Cisco kit is so impersonal: anonymous gray boxes with led's.

Real Food

I meet with Jeff and Terry. We have lunch. Real food at last: Indian with proper Tarka Dall.

When you go permie... get...56 paid days off :

Take that IR35!

A Checking Account

I've opened up a bank account - all ready for when I move over here full time. (OK - if) I seem to have spent an average of 2 weeks a year in the U.S. over the last six years so it makes sense. I get given a Visa card with a $2000 overdraft limit - well that's a start!

Any credit history gained in the U.K. counts for nothing!

Thursday 21/9/00    3171


A trip to the bars in SouthPark with the boys and girls tonight. Lee's not driving, so it might get serious.

Beer - darts with plastic tips! and an electronic dart board. Yes, the Brits are in town!


A sunny hot day, but make the most of it: Hurricane Helene is due to piss on us tomorrow.

Friday 22/9/00    3180

Chicago Attempt #1

I drive to Charlotte International Airport, intending to fly to Chicago, O'Hare airport. O'Hare, the busiest airport in the world, is closed. Rain! Pah! So the Friday night soiree in Chicago with Suresh is blown out!

Saturday 23/9/00    3202


Suresh confronts artI leave once more. This time I reach O'Hare airport. I meet up with Suresh by an early 10:00am, thanks to a 1 hour time zone shift and an early start.

Suresh is 'mobility impaired' (I'll get him to supply other euphemisms.) This means he uses a wheelchair for getting around.

He has planned a boat trip: a tour on the Chicago First Lady traveling on the Chicago River to Lake Michigan seeing the famous attractions and landmarks.

He phone the boat tour operator to confirm everything was wheelchair accessible. "Yes it is."

No it wasn't! There are steep steps from the quay to the boat. Not insurmountable - the crew, a fellow passenger and I soon have Suresh installed in the bar on the lower deck.

The tour guide gives a good commentary - and we learn a new phase: "trunion bascule."

OK, the weather is not sunny, but it's comfortable - not humid as in North Carolina. The tops of the buildings disappear into low cloud, reminding us of Hong Kong.

We bloat ourselves in a riverside restaurant. The evening sees us watching DVD's and helping his mate Steve demolish some whiskey.

Low Cloud

SView from the north side of the Hancock observation deck. unday 24/9/00    3214

Chicago walk

Suresh's View from 21 floors upWe take a long walk around the city. There's an excellent panorama from the Hancock Observation Deck.

After helping Suresh lay down some large rugs in his 21st floor pad, I leave for Charlotte. I'm back in my apartment in just over two hours. These planes are just like busses!


Brits leaving a plane treat it like a scrum: be first out. The Americans onboard waited for the passengers in front to move before they themselves got up to move. I embarrass myself by charging off...  there's no point! ...Decorum Please!

Monday 25/9/00    3224

I Return

This will be my last day in Charlotte - Today I'm returning home on the 17:30 flight to Gatwick. Yes, I even had a twinge of sadness leaving my American colleagues: Yes, they work differently - but they're OK.

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