Friday 14th November. Pasadena, Maryland, USA
Fifty-mile-an-hour winds kept me inside most of the day yesterday. The only outside adventure I had was a trip to the garbage dump and the hardware store with Bonnie. She and David had responded to my appeal for work, and had put together a list of jobs they needed done. It was up to me to choose which jobs I wanted to do. Let's see; clean the gutters or work inside? Fifty mile an hour winds? I spent the day building shelves in their downstairs storage room.
David was off to work mid afternoon. I'm not sure I'd like his schedule, working four o'clock till one or two in the morning, although I guess it's not that different to my time working in a restaurant in London. Bonnie has retired from school teaching and is currently completing her doctorate in communications design. This semseter, her work is all independent, so she works to her own schedule. Bonnie's friend Shirley came over last night, and the three of us drove into Annapolis for a couple of drinks.
This morning, I got up early and headed across the street to their neighbour's house. He'd offered me some work, cleaning his gutters and raking the leaves. That ended up taking a lot longer than I'd expected- boy was there some leaves on that lawn! David called me in for a break after a couple of hours; he'd prepared us some corned beef hash and blueberry blintzes. Yummy! When I was done with the leaves, I finished the shelves in my hosts' house and did a bit of painting in their hallway and lounge. What a long day. Dinner was on the table by the time I finished washing out the paint roller. Tonight was another of David's creations; pot roast beef and veges, washed down with lashings of Australian shiraz. I hope they know I'm never leaving!
But wait, there's more! After dinner, David and Bonnie took me to their local bar, the Vicory Lounge. It was karaoke night at the Victory Lounge, and David was bitterly disappointed that I wasn't going to get up and sing 'Tie me kangaroo down, sport'! I was enjoying the scenery and the Guinness, but we had to make a sudden exit, after I was beaten at pool by a shelia! *you non-Australians might not know what happens if a sheila beats you at pool*
Truthfully, we had a date- a date with the huge multi-million dollar printing presses at The Baltimore Sun. Midnight is when they start their print run, and Friday night is the best night to view it. We got there just after kickoff, and David took us on a walking tour of the facility.
"Don't lean on anything and don't touch anything" he warned me, "'cause there's ink everywhere." The place was enormous, and I couldn't get over how fast the huge sheets of newsprint fly through the presses. I guess they have to maintain a fairly respectable pace to print half a million papers in a night!
Next to the sheer size and speed of the operation, I was also impressed by the robots. On the lower floor, there are a number of self propelled, self guided, electronic mini-forklifts that cruise the floor area, automatically delivering massive rolls of paper where they're needed. I think they're guided by some sort of electronic field in the floor, because they follow each other's wheel marks to the millimetre. You have to pay particular attention in this area, 'cause the robots won't stop if you're standing in the way, trying to get a photo of the overhead conveyor! They reminded me of the Daleks from 'Doctor Who'. "Exterminate! Exterminate!"