Promotion, Promotion, Promotion!!!

Updated June 30, 2007, 19:30 GMT-6. Location: Houston, TX. Trip ended.

Starting mileage: 15350
Time traveling: 99 days, 10 hours (includes 7 days Scrabble)
Days since last speeding ticket (4/6/06): 448
Miles driven: 35240 + 425 (Hawaii) + 50 (Alaska) - 1190
New stores visited: 715. Final percentage: 97% (couldn't hit that 99%!!!)visited not visited
Stores opened in North America during trip: 330!!!
Stores skipped stratragically: 14 (+ maybe 1 new Ottawa)
Stores missed due to Cabal's evil machinations: 3
Stores missed b/c they didn't answer the @#$%^& phone so I didn't know they were open!!!: 1
Stores missed due to poor scheduling: 2
Stores rephotographed: 508
Recognition ratio: 262/664 (51 stealth)
Visual recognition: 20
Visual recognition of DVD: 1
Unmistakably (even by my paranoid self) negative reactions: 8
Coffee consumed: (X - 45) * 4 + 104 = 2784 oz + 40 oz iced coffee + 64 oz French press + 6 shot + 8 oz misto + 13 DoubleShot + 2 Top Pot au laits + 4 oz Blenz + 8 oz Tim Hortons
Stores where I was refused a sample: 2
Spent on coffee: $105.51
Spent on gas: $3,348.75 - $1.50
Spent on tolls/parking: $165.82
Parking tickets: 3 ($39 + $15 + $65 (currently disputing))
Spent on airfare: $398.16 + $215.14 change fee + $219.70 + $105 change fee + $34.90 + $460.80 + $80.43 (parking)
Spent on ferry: $83.48
Spent on rental cars: $167.08
Other expenses: $105.76 (tires) + $4.13 (sheet, toothpaste) + $71.62 (tire) + $239.78 (oil changes)
DVDs sold (at $20, $14 profit - $9): 57
Medication: 10 fake cold pills, 16 real Nyquill, 27 fake Benadryl, 32 fake Excedrin (2 to blunt effect of hunger, 2 to get thru movie), 3 x 10 mg Loratadine, 9 x 30 mg pseudoephedrine hydrochloride, 4 x 10 mg phenylephrine hydrochloride

June 30

Around 7:30, picked up some grub, then back over to the Starbucks for a photo. The really cute barista with the braces who had closed the previous night was there again in the morning, to my surprise. She kind of reminded me of that actress from Ugly Betty, with the braces. I could just tell that once she had her braces removed and had a makeover she would be very glamorous.

Meanwhile, the Vector continue to fuck my brain with its loud shrill. The sound seemed to be at just the right frequency and volume to trigger something primal in my brain and produce feelings of extreme violence. I could visualize myself smashing the designer of the device over and over with a baseball bat, shoving the bat up his ass, then smashing him some more. I was convinced that even the most non-violent of persons, even Ghandi, could be turned violent with prolonged exposure to an annoying noise. I was reminded of the "Noel" episode of The West Wing in which Joshua's post-shooting PTSD was triggered by loud sounds like Christmas carolers and a violin playing.

Approaching Victoria, an honest-to-goodness flock of wild turkeys (I assume they were wild). Might have been the first time I'd ever seen turkeys! I even heard them gobble! They actually do gobble! That's, like, the coolest thing I've ever heard! Later, when I recounted the story to Michael, I was surprised by the absence of enthusiasm in his voice. He was not impressed, and exhibited no love whatsoever for the magnificence of the creature that is the wild turkey. Some people just don't understand.

My trip Houston-ward was complicated by the start of rain. The rain meant I had to perform a manic dance of juggling raising the windows up and down, switching the air between blowing into the car and defrosting, switching the fucking Vector on and off, and stopping/starting the podcast I was listening to every time a Starbucks answered since I was in the process of doing my due diligence, calling stores to find out which had opened.

There was a Best Buy behind the second Rosenberg store, and I took the opportunity to replace the fucking Vector with different model. Worked for about 5 minutes before shutting off. I switched back to original but asked for a list of other brands to try. Fry's was not too far away, so I didn't even open the new Vector, and and instead I went to Fry's bought a brand called Wagan. 150 Watt, and cheaper, only $27.99. About 10 minutes later, it also overloaded, but at least with a softer beep. But I discovered that, unlike the Vector, the Wagan would automatically switch between on and off without my having to turn it on and off. Not perfect, but way better than that fucking worthless Vector piece of shit.

The odd lack of support in my home town of Houston continued at the first new store I visited, where the jerk of a supervisor did not even let me finish my introduction. I was, like "For 10 years I've been..." and he cut me off and replied something like "I know who you are. Sorry, bro, we don't do that." Can't remember exactly what he said, so off-guard was I caught. The supervisor in Lee's Summit who didn't know who I was was one thing--I had to expected that some would react with suspicion. But this guy--jeez, I hadn't even asked for anything yet. A short while later I had to remind myself that his reaction might have had to do with my politics and philosophy. Anyway, just to be clear, dude wasn't a jerk because he didn't offer me a sample coffee--he was a jerk because he brusquely asked what I needed and then didn't let me finish my sentence. Baaaad customer service.

Farther up the road, at the Shipley Donuts, the cashier kept giving me an odd look, as if he suspected me of something. Can't imagine the reason for it, unless he was a racist and reacting to my Blackness. Guy appeared Latino, too. Ain't it just a bitch, that the Latinos are often complaining about racism in immigration policy while at the same time perpetrating acts of racism themselves? Even if this guy wasn't specifically reacting to my race, you know it goes on. Anyway, when he finally finished helping the middle-aged man with the rambunctious kid, he said "can I help you" without even looking at me. Then he gave me the wrong donut.

I approached the next Starbucks with trepidation. The previous supervisor's reaction, combined with past experiences in Houston, had me wondering if some higher-up in the area had sent out an e-mail warning of my arrival and intruction baristas to deal with me Michael Moore style. An APB out on Chewbacca, perhaps?

Meanwhile, I was noticing something different in the designs of all the new Houston stores, plus the two Rosenberg stores. The men's and women's doors were separated from the main lobby by an outer door. I wondered if this was mandated by the county--counties, actually, since the Rosenberg stores are in Fort Bend and the Houston one's in Harris.

Figured I'd have to stealth the mall, and when the non-smiling barista who appeared to be the supervisor also appeared to look like he could have been the brother of that other one, I figured stealth was my best option.

Observed the baristas keenly at the next store trying to figure out which one was the supervisor without having to ask the one at the counter. The problem with asking is that the barista invariably motions or looks or shouts or gives some other indication to the supervisor. If she then turns out to look mean, and I decide not to introduce my project, then I have to leave her with a puzzled look, wondering why I was asking. Well, in this case it was even trickier, because I thought the cashier was pointing to the heavyset young lady that I had been observing for signs of a pleasant attitude. When I finally saw a decent smile, I decided I could talk to this one, but she wasn't actually the supervisor. Turns out the cashier had been pointing instead to the short hairy man with the pocked face. I hadn't kept statistics, but I just had the feeling that the shorter men tended to react more poorly to me than taller men. I can only assume it's because short men are continuously pissed off at being short and jealous of taller men.

Finally rushed to my last store of the trip to meet Michael. The barista who claimed to be the manager reacted with a puzzled look, as is common of baristas who seem to be immigrants, but it was only mild puzzlement, and he obliged with the sample.

Finally made it to the house for some good home cooking, and shortly thereafter crashed and slept nearly 12 hours. It was beeeeautiful.

June 29

8:15, overcast, blah for my reshoot of Broadway & Joliet.

When I jumped to the front of the the car, I noticed in the rearview mirror an elderly couple walking in my direction, presumably on their morning constitutional. The old man appeared to spot me, and he indicated to his wife to move across the street.

I went inside the Starbucks to refill my water, and while there I asked about a breakfast recommendation. A young woman with jet black hair, fair skin, slightly heavy (possibly wearing sunglasses, and it's irritating that I can't remember), recommended a place called Twin Sisters. After passing it up the first time on New Braunfels, I doubled-back and spotted it towards the back of a parking lot. I walked in, went up to the counter, and began looking at the menu. A young waitress with heavily tatooed arms, fair skin, glasses, and a reddish ponytail asked if I had been helped. I replied that I was looking at the menu. Then she looked at me and asked "Are you going to order?" in a manner that made me feel as if she thought I was some homeless person just come in off the street to hang out. I had washed my faced, my hair was okay, not too much stubble, so I'm not sure why she reacted like that. Regardless, I didn't want to give her my business, so I made a mental note of the phone # of the second location and went out to the car. The other Twin Sisters is downtown, and after looking at my map and deciding I wanted to reshoot a couple of other Starbucks, I decided I didn't want to go downtown. So I went back in the restaurant and took a seat, placed my to-go order from a table so I wouldn't have to deal with the redhead. While I waited for my order, I saw the redhead sniffling. Maybe her reaction was due to illness? Later still, she came by my table and asked if I had been helped--she didn't look as mean then as she had at counter. Perhaps I had misread her reaction. Well, better safe than snubbed. Cost me an extra buck though, a tip for the floor waiter, even though I don't like to tip for to-go orders. Preparing a to-go meal is not really "service".

From Twin Sisters I went up to the Nacogdoches & New Braunfels store. As soon as I saw the mess of cars in the parking lot, I figured I was not going to get a better photo, but I still pulled into a space to buy some juice and eat my breakfast. The parking situation was so crazy that, when I saw the driver of the white SUV at the end about to leave, I decided that I needed to get my car into the parking lot across the street before she pulled out; otherwise somebody was sure to take the spot. A stream of traffic was a-coming--the wait for them was sure to be several minutes (for the light to change), so I gunned the engined and blazed across the road. The blue pickup truck closest to me honked, though there was never any danger of his hitting me--I'm too good for that. The real danger was the French toast, which ended up spilling onto my jeans and then onto the floor. Grrr...

As I neared Laredo, the urge to repeatedly yell "JIHAD!" I really wanted to walk into the Starbucks pumping my fist and yelling "JIHAD", but I suspected that would minimize my chances of selling a DVD.

Mariachi Express, bargain-basement flautas.

Outlets, security, calls others and they confer while I leave.

TV criticc on TOTN, more Sopranos talk!!! When will it end???

Hwy 83 & Boca Chica, disguyise

June 28

7:33, blah rain.

Flooding, possible Marble Falls closure, boil water

Madison e-mail, Cheney shot

Yay, after selling a DVD to Ilse after my massage appointment, I figured out where the missing DVD went! To a massage therapist back in Baltimore!

Okay, I reaaaaally need to stop rear-ending people at traffic lights. Or maybe people need to stop stopping in front of me when then should be moving!!! Either way, cost me $200. But really, I'm lucky, that the guy didn't want to file an insurance claim or even take the car to a shop--that would have been painful.

Holy shit, that vulture really should have gotten out of my way! At least I didn't have to pay it $200. Now the question is--do vultures eat their splattered bfrethern.

Ach--game night in Bulverde, a pain in the ass since it's out of the way, and people weren't going to be leaving for a while. Something curious--game night was open to all, but their were no boys to be seen.

Unusual brew, French roast at Walzem.

Blessedly cool.

Feel like PTSD. Kill Vector. Kill Dell.

June 27

7:08, scary dreams including car stolen. Scrabble sadness fading, but replaced by a touch sad-lonely because of dream about Kelly and Michelle.

So close to finishing my trip I could almost taste it.

Big Red

Broken Bow, OK, where the first Klingon landed!

Yay, 4:05 PM, back in Texas!

I went out of my way for this???

Boo!!! Sunny all day from Little Rock to Texas, and then rain, big rain, as I hit D/FW, ruining some reshoots and photos.

Aaah, DoubleDaves peproni rolls, soooo good.

Constant outbursts of screaming at the Vector fuck.

June 26

Wow!!! 25 cents for 2 1/2 hours of parking on a side street near the University store!!!

What the...??? In the 20-30 minutes it took me to park and visit the University store, three different sets of ambulance/fire engine sirens--what's going on in Birmingham???

On the way to reshoot Homewood, Salem's Cafe, where the cook/owner/manager claimed the biscuits were excellent. Umm... no.

Down in Homewood, another ambulance. What is wrong with these people?

Feeling off. About 50 miles from Huntsville the brown/grey sedan ahead of me braked quickly. I should have hit my brakes before I even saw the trooper, but I reacted 1/4 to 1/2 second slower than I should have. No movement from the trooper, but just the fact that I reacted slowly was disturbing.

It was a 47-mile detour to Huntsville (Madison, actually) from a direct route to Jackson, TN, and I had debated whether it was worth it for that one new store, given that I had just visited Huntsville three months earlier and, and that the market appeared to be growing. I finally decided it was worth it, and I came to regret that decision when I finally arrived. The supervisor happened to be an frizzy-haired little bitch with a dour face pocked with slight acne. She looked at me like I was nuts when I asked for a sample, and, then, in an egregious act of disrespect, quietly asked another barista to keep an eye on the safe while she poured a sample. It was questionable whether the act was racist or not, but it demonstrated absurd distrust of a customer wearing a "Starbucking" t-shirt. Of course s he only filled the sample cup half-way, and I wanted nothing more to do with the little bitch, so I just set two dollars on the counter and asked for a short. She asked if I wanted room, and I said just to fill it halfway. She then fumbled around looking for a lid, finally saying she didn't have any short lids, and I said she could just pour most of that coffee out. As she did so, she was shaking her head in a contemptuous manner--yet more horrible customer service. "Oh, you want less coffee--you must be a true jerk," I imagined she was thinking. I didn't even bother to hand her a mini-flyer, figuring she would just throw it out. Once more it appeared that Starbucks had built one store too many, in the Huntsville market this time, and hired somebody who shouldn't ever be in customer service.

On a lighter note, while I was not able to satisfy my mighty Squirt craving directly, the gas station had something called Sun Drop that takes a bit like Squirt.

On Alt-72 west, another craaaaaazy trucker. Almost never run red lights, but I had to do so to escape that fucker for a while. Finally, when I spotted Tony's Country Cooking, I decided to take a break and ditch that fool. Good decision. Huge plate. She offered me two pork chops, but I only took one, but a heaping helping of pinto beans, green beans, cream potatoes. Two cornbreads. And raspberry cobbler, too. What's cobbler, anyway?

Vector fuck continued 2 driv me crzy

Ugh... had to cross back into Mississippi for a short stretch.

Oops! Turned out "Quality Bodyworks" about 15 miles south of Jackson is not a massage parlor, but instead an auto body shop. Boy, did they look at me funny when I got naked and sprawled on the hood of that Corvette.

Body coated in a persistent film of grimy sweat.

Nuts! Back in Mississippi. But maybe since Oliver Branch is a suburb of Memphis it won't be like really being in Mississippi. I'll just try to pretend I'm in Tennessee, and that that dumbass back out towards Covington wasn't really rocking a big-ass Dixie flag on his pickup.

June 25

Finally remembered to pop into an auto parts store, AutoZone, for an air filter, but they don't carry it. Same a O'Reillys. What's up?

Odd experience in Madison. The manager was busy training another barista on how to use the safe. Behind her was a goateed man keeping an eye on things. While I waited for the manager, I went over to the bar and asked for more ice water. The man kept glancing over at me. The whole time I was there, his razor-sharp gaze hardly left me, and it was making me extremely uncomfortable. When the manager did get freed up and and called me over, I made a snap decision to just ask for a short coffee. She asked if they could help me with anything, and I quietly replied "no." The barista who had served me the water asked if I was going to explain my shirt and DVD, and I said "No, I'll just leave." I left as quickly as I could grab my things and some sugar.

Hoping to avoidthe type of belligent confrontation that some Starbucks baristas have instigated in the past, I moved my car all the way across the highway. That was awkward because the parking lot of the other shopping center was inset a few hundred feet and down a hill. To save time, I parked on the shoulder instead and hoped no cop would pass by. Perhaps the manager and Razor Gaze were keeping an eye on me the whole time, because it was at least 3 minutes before I was able to park and start photographing from across the highway, many hundreds of feet, maybe even a quarter mile, away, and as soon as I was in view of the store, the manager came outside and started making a phone call. I got as close as I could without coming onto the property, which is regrettable, because the building was really pretty, and I was reduced to taking some really bad photographs.

As I drove away and approached the interstate, I first saw an unmarked patrol car heading in the direction of the store, and then a Madison Police car. Could have been a coincidence, but I wasn't taking any chances. I've had too many run ins with Southern cops and know that they care more about exerting authority than respecting the law. Almost makes me what to say that Starbucks shouldn't do business in the Deep South, at least rural areas like Jackson, just like they shouldn't do business in China.

By the time I got back to the mall, it was 10:00 AM, and it occurred to me that, with just a few Starbucks in the Jackson market, the manager could have easily called the other two to warn them about me. I decided to take preemptive action and disguise myself. I put on my plaid shirt over my Starbucks shirt and buttoned it up, and I donned a makeshift do-rag. As soon as I got my coffee and left the store, I quickly removed the cloth and long-sleeved shirt in the hopes of throwing the baristas/security off my scent.

45-minute job interview, getting superhot, flies infested car while I was talking.

You know, I kind of like that Celine Dion song.

Dilemma in Montgomery when I heard on the radio that The Wind that Shakes the Barley was to play in Tuscaloosa that night. I had missed the movie in Philly and NYC, and I was very surprised to find it in Alabama of all places. If I managed to leave by 5:30, I could probably drive the 111 miles in two hours. I tried to get the Bama theater on the phone, but no answer. But my decision was made for me because of traffic getting to the Atlanta Highway store. By the time I got out of there it was getting close to 6:00, and I knew I wasn't going to make it, so I rushed up towards Birmingham in the hopes of visiting all 5 stores before nightfall. But by 8:30 it was already too dark, and I stopped in Homewood and decided to stay the night.

Charlies's, lame. County or someone threatening to close down. Sheriff's deputies did an inspection--dancer says it happens regularly. No fun to be had there.

June 24

Left the Scrabble tournament disgusted and disappointed and headed out to Baton Rouge. Stopped for some more reshoots--many of my photos from those early trips were god-awful. At Veterans a grey pickup was parked right in the middle of the parking lot, almost blocking traffic. After waiting a good long time, I went into the store and saw that nobody was waiting for a drink. So I asked the driver of the truck, and older man, if he was waiting for someone. He said he was waiting for his daughter, but he took the hint and backed the car out onto the street, allowing me my photo. As I prepared to leave, a baristas, young, dark-skinned, maybe my height, probably 180 or better, baseball cap, glasses, holding a beverage, walked towards my car and asked, in a sarcastic manner, if I had gotten the photos I needed. As I pulled away, he kept looking at me in a disapproving manner. Another example of how Starbucks misinstructs their employees to disregard the First Amendment. If you know who this barista is, please ask him for me why he hates America?

bermuda triangle, comics, whole foods, evil cashiers

crazy suv lady

no spoon

everything irritated me

Tastee, cast of characters, freaks n geeks, pretty girl busty, but deep street voice, james franco type, morbidle obese striped blue, mentally deficient dark-skin going on codger, heavy man white looked rearted but worked there not, older ladies sitting at tables, cahsier curley b;londe vbrother heathers ftype

A Pontiac Solstice--when did that come out??? Not bad looking, but unfortunately it's American.

Hot as fuck in B Rouge, hotter than NO.

Ahhuas no speak spanish a la carte

June 23

6:45, rush to rephotograph a mess of stores, visit on new one, and then rush to Scrabble.

June 22

5:00, I awoke and lay there, and suddenly I heard the buzzing, the buzzing, THE BUZZING!!! How, how, how had it managed to get in my car? Flew in while I drove from the Starbucks to the neighborhood street, perhaps? And how many times had it feasted upon my blood, I wondered.

Anyway, I moved from the neighborhood and went back to the Starbucks hoping to download, but, to my surprise, the baristas had not yet entered the store, and there was a security guard out front, presumably to guard the equipment for the construction going on in the parking lot. I moved to the other side of the store, where the signal was weaker.

Received a message from a barista who I had snap-judged as "mean". I figured that would happen sooner or later, and I explained it was a necessary consequence of the vicious looks I'd been getting, that I had to decide just by glancing at the supervisor whether she would be mean to me or not.

Timed my morning wrong, dawdled too much online, and didn't reach Gulf View Square til almost 10:00. Detouring to Montgomery and Birmigham was out of the question--just heading straight to New Orleans by Saturday morning was going to be tough if I lost any more time.

No Brown Cow at Sweetbay on Little in Tampa. Learned that the "ASK ME ABOUT" portion of their name tags could specify anything, not just a person.

Reasonably priced spaghetti.

dudes in whiote pickup thout I was drning a beer--they were!

Mighty thirst. Starting to like the "sparkling clementine" Izzie. Not in love with it, but it will do in a pinch. Furthermore, the mixture of Odwalla strawberry lemonade diluted with water plus some Izzie for spice... hmmm, yummy. Still hot as fuck out therfe though.

eyes burning.

Dude, second reference t Nirvana's Scentless Apprentice in a mionth--first on the Lost season finale, and now

In Mary Esther I received the greatest compliment ever bestowed upon my project, that it was "pimp".

called Springhill pleaded, Old Shell downloading, 1:00 AM leave no sodomy

I finally remembered to check the start time for the tournament, which I had been assuming was 9:00 AM. 11:00 AM, actually. D'oh! I could have hit Gulf Shores.

June 21

6:59, ladies talking, feel like I should move.

AAAAAAH!!! SKEETER BITES, SKEETER BITES!!! ITCHY ITCHY ITCHY. Itchy palm, too, but no apparent bite--why?

7:10, #47

Ric's New York Style Bakery & Deli, yum.

8:35, #48, pushy, evil bitchy look, felt compelled to leave as quickly as possible. I must be the most hated customer in Florida. It was the cow comment--I know it!

9:18, #49, cute + not mean = yay

10:10, #50, the rule of thumb continues, young males under 35 tend to react the best to my project, unless homosexual in which case the % drops.

10:50, #51, supervisor dismissive, but there was a customer, a bit heavy but pleasingly busty, wearing a light green dress (not at all cruel) of a felt-like material that, as she walked, seemed to caress her buttocks in such a way as to highlight their curvature. Mesmerizing.

12:10, #52

Finally found a spa with a shower and therpaist available right away. Shower was actually $2.50 extra, but since the 1/2 hour was only $30. it was worth it. Cool name, too, Fountain of Youth. Cool nature-themeed decor too, though I did, for a second, think that the ceramic wolf on the floor was real!

Having showered, I figured it was time to change briefs. Probably a good thing, since the odor of the old pair was beyond noxious--it was making me gag. I should be able to sell them on eBay, if Amy doesn't want them.

Sweetbay, formerly Cash n Carry, has Brown Cow, more Frutzzo yummy.

3:10, #53

3:35, #54

Score Card, dive.

5:05, #55

AAAAAH!!! Bug attacking my eye. Get away, get away! I showered!!!

5:44, #56

Interesting. Golden declisous apple taste reminds me of the long-defunct GatorGum.

Irresistible urge to yell out, over and over, "AREYOUMYMONKEY???"

6:30, #57, so close.

Something weeird at Tyrone Square, G by Guess treating grand opening as if it were a nightclub m not a clothing sture.

La Teresita, needed meat!!! Bait & switch with my tostones. Grrr...

Checked out four clubs in quick succession, didn't go into any, none looked worthwhile or worth the cover charge.

8:12, US 19 & Curlew Rd, running out of time.

Crane? Stork?

8:40, #59, Citrus Park Mall, and it was already too late to reach Gulf View Square before 9:00. Curse you, mall stores!!! So instead I spent some "quality time" on the toilet... a good, long, healthy time, and then I headed over to what I thought was the nearest store, Shoppes of Carrollwood, to do some downloading before it closed. But it was misplotted on my map, and I ended up driving way out of my way, far north on Dale Mabry. On top of that, parking was limited because of construction, and I barely got a signal from where I had to park. I remained until midnight, when I awoke to see most cars gone, except for a couple still chatting in front of the store long after the baristas had left (store closed at 10:30). Reminded me of the days back in Plano when the Circle was still intact and we would hang 'til 3:00, 4:00 AM. Anyway, didn't feel like getting sodomized by a Tampa cop, so I moved to a nearby neighborhood street.

June 20

7:25, and Tone Loc said "let's do it!". Wait.. I'm not 100% surer it was Tone. The voice wasn't low enough. It's so rude when the voices in your head don't identify themselves clearly!

Dehydration headache.

Dammit, still can't escape news of The Sopranos finale, because of news about a campaign video spoofing the ending. When will it end???

9:12, Coral Square, #35, not open when I arrived despite having been told 8:00, and the reason is that the barista I spoke to was actually at the Florida Mall in Orlando. The phone number on the site was wrong. The supervisor at Coral said it had since been fixed, but I do not have a process in place for checking to see if the phone numbers posted on the Starbucks web site have changed.

Face dripping with sweat!

Strathmore Bagel & Deli promises the best breakfast in west Broward.

Butterflies in my stomach.

Ugh--I might just have to declare Florida the state with the meanest baristas. #36 manager (10:08 AM) spoke to me in a sharp, shrill voice, and her gaze was so piercing I did not dare reveal who I was.

10:50, headache getting worse.

Wow, I totally forgot about Veronica Mars!!! I only saw two episodes when it returned. I guess they really must have sucked hard for me to have forgotten about the show.

Only in Florida? Man walking up NE 4 Ave clad only in a bikini.

12:10, #39, hate hospital locations

2:20, #41, both looked a little evil, but the cute one behind the bar had seen my web site and saved me from the evil manager.

2:50, #42, bad vibe from the way the supervisor looked at me. An off-duty barista actually asked what I was promoting, but I had such a bad vibe from the place I told her it wasn't important. Just wanted to get out of there.

#43, rude, rude, rude! Is it the heat that's making everybody in/around Miami bitchy? Fucking hating this place--go on ahead and give it back to Cuba!

Job interview.

Detour to Versailles, and call Dell to arrange laptop repair. Kept on hold for over 30 minutes, and discover I can't manage the photo, making a turn, and keeping the container or rice on my lap at the same time. Thank heavens. Only four grains of rice fell into the coffee, so it wasn't that nasty to drink.

Arroz moro and tostones were excellent, and for only $6.05, which was good thing, because I paid dearly in terms of time for the detour. Traffic on Calle Ocho westbound was slammed. And when standing still there was no breeze--and that meant... HEEEEATTT!!!

killmenow traffic. hateeverybody

6:40, #44.

7:45, #46, finally done with Miami! For a minute.

PANTHER CROSSING??? Ther'es panthers along US-41??? If I try to pet one will it eat me?

sweatmesiter supreme, drrip drip incredble, sheet, towel, briefs, and shorts soaked

June 19

7:25, woke up feeling ungaschungashlisch.

7:30, Federal Hwy & 12th St, #21, zombie-like, spilled water. Supervisor did not want my lollipops, but she took some for the kids.

Oh, no, big big ants, please don't crawl up in my pants!

Native American war cry when I spotted the sign for Paula's Place. Wished I could have recorded it, but the digital recorder I bought last year I quickly found to be almost useless because I simply cannot duplicate the full extent of my vocal insanity after the fact. Speaking of insanity, Paula's was decorated with a clown theme, and the walls were covered with clown photos. I had to wonder how many children had started crying upon entering the place... because clowns are SCARY!!!

Heat and humidity taking toll on my drawz, putrid, possibly noxious. Discolored, too. Wish my blog had scratch n sniff capability so those traveling vicariously thru me could experience the full range of my experience. In fact, my briefs wwre so noxious that I suspected they could be used as a weapon in the war on terrorism. Duct tape my funky drawz to a terrorist's nose, and he would soon be begging to reveal all he knew. Anybody know how to get in touch with the Defense Department?

The heat and humidity was also such that I had to shave a day early because the combination of stubble and sweat on my face was annoying.

9:55, A1A & Pine Tree Dr, #22.

Oh, too bad I already had breakfast, because the Blueberry Muffin Cafe looked appealing, just based on the name.

evil grandma

12:50, Port St Lucie Blvd & Bayshore Blvd, #25

13:20, Treasure Coast, #26.

possible evil gay manager worse sheriff suck palm

Even online, job search slowing me down, updating resume, answering e-mail, the occasional phone call.

Not over yet. One more chance to have The Sopranos finale ruined, on Wait... Wait... Don't Tell Me!. Had to howl for a long time to avoid hearing what happened, though I got a clue. Hope it wasn't ruined.

4:08, #26 & #27, both in the Gardens Mall. Another evil grandma type, with a face like death--I wasn't about to tell her who I was, not with the way she looked at me and said "can we help you." I guess if my face were all shriveled up like that, I might be pissed off all the time too.

And a quick #28, PGA Blvd & Central Blvd Palm Beach, right across the freeway, just opened TODAY!!!

Damn, almost side-swiped by an unmarked cop car!!!

Aw, how cute! But what is it?

5:37, so fucking hungry, but I'm not paying these fucking West Palm Beach prices! $3.95 for a tired looking slice of pizza? $7 for black bean soup?? Why don't they just stick their hands up my ass and pull out my intestines???

6:50, Worth Ave, #29, cool store, mean-looking supervisor. This one wasn't old, but looked mean nonetheless. Why coudln't the supervisor have been the young, cute, redhead barista wearing the sleeveless shirt. Starbucks needs to have a rule--no mean (or mean-looking) supervisors!!!

On Dixie Highway north of Lake Worth I passed a massage place called Relax With Us and decided to check it out. First thing I noticed was "SHOWERS $10 EXTRA". That alone would have been enough to keep me away, but then another sign was worse--"YOU ARE HERE TO RELAX. PLEASE DO NOT ASK THE STAFF ANY QUESTIONS. IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS CALL THE OWNER". Umm... ooookay. Talk about customer-unfriendly. I wouldn't stick around there no matter what the price.

When near Miami I usually hold out for Cuban food, but I was feeling weak and on the verge of a bad headache. So when I spotted Howley's, a diner dating back to the 1950s, I figured it was good enough. It's a good thing the hot dog and fries were pretty good, because otherwise I would have been really pissed when I spotted the several Cuban restaurants just a mile south.

Goddamn!!! Is it my funky odor that's attracting all these mosquitoes/gnats?

#30, prettiest barista in days, with a most coolious name--the type of young woman I would give my left nut to date.

Wasn't until the #31 that I realized that I would probably run into

Once more, race to a couple of mall stores.

#32, #33, Boca Raton, 8:50, barely made it.

Bad planning, drive west towards the Clinton Keith store instead of east towards the older communities. Newer suburbs are harder to sleep in because most seem to be private property. No signs at the Wal-Mart on 441 prohibiting overnight parking, but it closed very early, 10:00 PM, and I didn't feel like risking being awoken in the middle of the night. Drove far enough east to find a street with an apartment complex and cars parked on the sign of the road. No sidewalk, but the street seemed wide enough for parking, so I took my chances that those two cars would stay there all night so that mine wouldn't seem conspicuous. Much heat, much sweat. Cool air outside, but lowering windows was not an option, not with the mosquitoes.

June 18

8:00 AM on the nose up and detoured over to the original Daytona Beach store for a reshoot. No hurry to get down towards Orlando since the first store to visit was in a mall, and I didn't know what time it opened. Maybe as late as 10:00 AM.

Update resumes.

At the Publix, a sign on the pastry case specified to seek help from a clerk. I told the clerk to hand me the donut in the tissue, but she said she had to put it in a bag. I found a manager and complained about the environmental impact, and it was clear from the "you're crazy" look on her face that she couldn't give a flying fuck for the environment. I could tell from the way she nodded her head that she had no intention of passing my complaint onto management.

10:15, Seminole Upstairs, #12.

insist cake

!@#$%^&!!! Waited way too long for an Audi to move to reshoot Lake Mary & Rhinehart, in part because there was a Cuban cafe, Coconuts, next door, and the black beans and rice (moros, or congri) was not ready yet. But the timing worked out--as soon as I got my food, the guy moved the car. My window lasted about 30 seconds. But the food was good, for $3.70, a lot of beans and rice and tostones!

OMG, the heeeeat, the heeeeeat, so sweaaaaaaaaaaaty!!!

12:40, SR 436 & Howell Branch Rd, #13, too slow too slow too slow. "Danger, Will Robinson!!!", danger of getting stuck in outbound rush hour traffic!

3:00, Florida Mall, #15

Grumpy uncaring looking barista at Florida Mall, so I had to stealth.

As I exited the mall I spotted a stand offering crepes. I kept walking, figuring mall crepes would suck. But a crepe craving struck, and I went back. I noticed a container full of pre-made crepes, and I asked the lady about them. She didn't speak very good English, though, and did not understand. She got the attention of a young man, and he explained the pre-made crepes were used when the stand got busy. I said I wanted mine fresh, and he told the lady. But she did not understand, and started to heat up a pre-made one. I lost my patience and left, thinking that this was a good example of why immigrants should not be allowed into the country unless they can speak excellent English. The inability to communicate creates a significant potential for conflict. In order to facilitate communication, the U.S. needs to create transition camps in which all prospective immigrants are housed until they reach a certain level of proficiency with the English language. If they cannot reach such a level, they would be sent back.

Double-drama outside the mall as I rephotographed the Sand Lake store. As a young woman pulled out and I was about to try for one shot, a white minivan/SUV pulled in. When the driver, a middle-aged man with sunglasses and many ID tags, finally pulled out, I quickly backed my car up and began shooting. Simultaneously, a pair of cute young women who were in the store exited, and one them apparently thought I was photographing them and yelled something I couldn't understand, then "...are you serious!". Vain little bitch, she wasn't that pretty.

Then, as I was about to leave, I could see all the baristas gathered at the door, along with a customer, and they appeared to be looking my way. Good going baristas, way to make a customer feel unwelcome. I'm sure that's right out of the Starbucks manual, in the chapter titled "First Amendment, What First Amendment?".

4:00 by the time I headed south to Kissimmee, too late, heavy traffic already.

In Kissimmee, Au Naturel, a nudist store with style.

At Vine and Thacker, the oddest lookin KFC building I had ever seen.

4:25, US 192 & Armstrong, #16.

Ouchie head, why?

5:05, Celebration, #17.

tummy discomfort

6:10, Eagle Ridge Mall, #18, stupid securtity guard flirting with girl at kiosk in front of store, had to wait for him to move,

Son of a bitch! I'd hoped the one trip to Sebring would it be, but along US-27 I passed a building, not yet finished, and a Starbucks sign. Coming soon. Grrrr...

7:05, Lakeshore Mall, #19, wasn't going to reach the Melbourne Square Mall by 9:00, which would mean waiting 'til 9:00 AM. Goddamn all thee new mall stores!

The assault began--I could feel a misquoto bite on my lower back.


9:05, Indian River Mall, whew! Just in time, only because they stayed open 10 minutes past 9:00, and because some guy was willing to open the mall door for me, which had been locked already.

Washcloth smells like spaghetti.

Vero Beach Wal-Mart also prohibited overnight parking, but looking at the sign more closely, it appeared to be a county ordinance. So maybe Wal-Mart wasn't to blame, but rather the county for conspiring with hotel and motel and campground owners to rob citizens of their money.

June 17

For the love of god, more potato chips??? And now they are moving to the front of my car--an invasion!

7:50, not sure how much I slept, if at all, after moving from the Mobil in Hardeeville to the rest area in GA.

Sleep inertia, but cool air in my face pluys DJ Muggs and GZA with heavy bass helped to wake me up.

Didn't look like I was going to find a restaurant open in Brunswick. Chpices

11:25, Yulee. And so it begins, the Florida Flow!

Father's Day call.

12:25, Fernandina Beach. The heeeat, the heaaat!

1:20, Airport Rd & I-95, had to print up a cleaner version of the flyer at OfficeMax and make more copies, plus replace all my podcasts that I had mysteriously deleted.

R.E.M. binge.

2:20, Dunn Ave & Hart

2:50, Forsyth & Main.

Decent black beans and rice and tostones from Madrid.

6:20, Kingsley & Blanding, 8th new store in Florida, running behind due to a cluster-fuck of construction, detours, and bad directions to reshoot three stores.

A thirst that neither water nor warm Tradewinds could quench, from the Publix something called Sun Shower brand nectarine-berry juice. Bloated from liquid but still mad thirsty.

Meanwhile, my waist had shrunk so that half my boxers were exposed (switched to boxers from briefs for a sexier aesthetic appeal, for the ladies), and I was feeling 10 years younger.

Still thirsty, try Frutzzo, pomegranate blueberry.

Three pairs of jeans in rotation, and the one I happened to be wearing had a button loose. "Get your hand out of your pants!"

Oh, shit, is that an eagle??? A nearby development, along US-17 in Orange Park, is called Eagle Harbor, so many it was an eagle. Cool!!!

7:40, Hwy 17 & SR 16, 10 in Florida, much farhter behind than I hoped to be.

8:40, #11, Palm Coast Pkwy & I-95.

Boo on the Palm Coast Wal-Mart for disallowing overnight parking! Had to drive down I-95 looking for a suitable exit. Took the US-1 exit because of the Love's Travel Plaza, but it was a mini one, and I feared I would be noticed. SO I drove down US-1 towards Ormond Beach but found nothing until Daytona Beach, a side street across and down from a strip club, the Pink Pony, and in front of a saloon that was oddly enough closed at such an early hour (not yet 11:00 PM even). Air was cool, so it was odd that maybe an hour into trying to sleep I started to sweat. Later, around 1:00 AM, something strange, a voice yelling loudly about how nobody better fuck with him or he would kill, how he was FBI but his cover was blown, how no "nigger" better even so much as look at him. I moved to the front of the car to kiwi, and by the time I was done he had come around the block again. At least I think it was him, because of the loud talking to himself, but he did not notice me. Other characters were out and about, however. At 3:00 AM I woke up again and decided I didn't want to be there when the sun went up in case the resident of the ramshackle house saw me when getting up for work. I continued down US-1 to see what was up, and plenty of sketchy characters shouting out to me, drug dealers presumably, some hooker-looking ladies. Not many cops, but still I chose my next spot carely, on what appeared to be a safe part of town, near the City Center building, next to a pickup. There was a more secluded spot down the street, but a pair of workers, at 4:00 AM even, happened to be trimming the palm trees (gotta keep those trees trimmed, yeah). 7:00 AM kiwi carefully in case somebody came outside and saw me.

June 16

Still chips, evil, like empregnated weevil.

7:10, tried for more, maybe drifted off again but up 15 minutes later.

In Columbia a first, and a concidence. Inside the store the barista on bar had heard of me because her car had been one of those on which I put up a flyer for the Nashville screening way back on March 26. And outside, the supervisor on a 10 reocgnized me because he had actually bought the film, at Best Buy, the first person I had met in person who had bought it.

Cafe Strudel recommended by a barista.

Stopped at the Piggly Wiggly (love that name) in Florence and spotted a new brand of OJ, Kennesaw. I had already breakfasted so did not strictly need juice, but since I'd been doing pretty good on DVD sales felt I could spurge a bit and see if this brand was any good. However, as soon as I got out to the car and took a swig I could tell it was expired. The date wasn't 'til Sunday the 17th, but I know expired juice when I taste it. All other bottles had the same date, so I just got a refund.

Oh, so beautiful, if it werren't like a mirage--a Exxon gas station on the way to Mrytle Beach, $1.09!

Serious miscalculation on my part, to have dawdled in Columbia getting breakfast, and then in Florence on the Internet and grocery store. By the time I headed to Myrtle Beach, traffic was heavy. Saturday in the summer--I should have expected this and hauled ass earlier in the mronign.

Okay, that's weird, a sign for club called "POPULAR SPORTSMAN" on the way to North Myrte Beach depicts a pair ballroom dancing.

Didn't need a shower, but I was craving a massage nonetheless. I expected to have to wait until Florida, though, because I expected pickins along the way to be slim, and thus more expensive. Myrtle Beach, a tourist destination, certainly had to be more expensive. And sure enough the one therapist I found on CL charged $45 for 30 minutes. While not exhorbitant, high when traveling on a budget. But she was very nice on the phone, and something prompted me to call her back and ask if she could see me for $35. She agreed, and it wasn't because she was a bad therapist either--she was excellent, and I wished I had a whole hour, but I didn't want to spend the full $70.

The massage got me worked up, and I'd always been curious about a strip club called Thee Doll House ever since I was a teenager working at a comic book shop and saw a pack of trading cards produced by the club. I'd known forever about the Tampa location, but I'd never been in Tampa at the right time, or with time to spare, or in the right mood. So, with no cover and $10 table dances, I decided to give the Myrtle Beach club a try. Arriving around 4:45, almost an hour after opening, I was very surprised to find the place dead. The bouncer/manager said only two dancers had arrived, still in the back getting ready. He said he would go urge them on, and I told him it wasn't necessary, but he did it anyway. I chatted with the hostess, who, if she were to dance, would surely have been one of the hottest women in the place. But according to her, she personally just couldn't bbring herslef to dance, even though she knew she could make a grand easily on a good night, if not more. When a dfancer finally did come out of the dressing room, it was as I suspected. The ones that arrive first are typically not the most atttractive ones. She looked so disapppointed that I wssn't going to get a dance from her, and I almost felt a littl ebad for her, but I wasn;t there as an act of charity. If I wanted to give money away, I'd donate to public radio. But not to starving children or most other charities, which are really ust socially counterproductive institutions that serve to help the donors and volunteers feel better at the cost of prolonging whatever condition exists, whether hunger or poverty or disaster. A bit grotesque, really, to prolong a child's pain so that you can sleep better at night.

Oh, wow!!! I'd been wondering about the term "seersucker" since reading about "seersucker suits" in All the King's Men. I'd never bothered to look it up, and now Weekend All Things Considered saved me the trouble. As I had figured , the name had nothing to do with the wearer's being a sucker.

Goddamn it! Crazy truckers are usually on the interstate, but this fool was speeding on sa fairly heavily trafficked section of US-17 thru Pawlyeys Island. As hard as it is to type in traffic, it's even harder when you've got to pay attention to an eighteen wheeler behind you and make sure he doesn't get too close!

Big-ass factory, Mittal Steel, in Georgetown, right on the primary thoroughfare. Usually factories that big are on a smaller road or set well back from the highway.

Almost forgot--back at the North Myrtle Beach store the manager reported that a friend had seen the film screened...

On I-526 towards North Charleston I had to put an extra effort into staying ahead of an annoying group in an ugly-ass brown pickup. I was probably doing 90 when I passed a car in full view of a cop coming in the other direction, but with a barrier separating opposing lanes of the freeway. I saw the cop signal to change lanes, towards the right, and I immediately suspected he might be planning to exit and then try to catch up to me. What could I do? I had to gun it to reach the next exit, which was about 2 1/2 miles away. Once I had a chance to look at my map, I realized that it was the worst possible exit, because it put me on Daniels Island, from which there was only one way in or out--no way to reach the North Charleston store via surface streets. I had to kill time buying gas, probably pricier than I could have found elsewhere.

evil grandma type

dizzy, Ridgefield 'til 12:01, Mobil

June 15

Awoke at 7:00 to see a lot of hustle and bustle. A marked contrast, there was, between waking up in Rome, GA, the previous day. Went back to sleep after setting my alarm, and it's a good thing I didn't set it for even 5 minutes past 8:00, because at 8:01/8:02 there was already a parking enforcement guy looking at me next through the window. I lowered it and said I was leaving, and he aske dwhy I hadn't put money in the meter. It was 8:02!!!

That's why people hate meter maids. You give pathetic little people with shit lives even the tiniest bit of authority, and they want to lord it over everybody else. Humans are just too flawed to allow any one human to have authority over another.

Once south of Atlanta and all its Peachtree-named roads, I thought I was free of street confusion for a bit, but I was flummoxed immediately looking for the Lovejoy store, because it's on Tara Blvd, not Tara Rd.

Oh... my... god!!! I can't believe I did that! I was about to backup a few days worth photos onto my external hard drive when it started to have a problem as I connected it to the laptop. At the same time, I was about to copy the previous day's photos to the laptop from the SD card, and with the distraction I didn't do it. And then I formatted my SD card!!! A days worth of photographs, covering a great distance and a bunch of reshoots even... GONE!!! I think I was very close to tears, and had a sick feeling, just thinking about it.

Oh, thank heavens! I found them!!! I had just copied them to a different folder!

While shooting the McDonough Starbucks a group of four high-school cheerleaders walked across the parking lot towards the store. Oh why, why, why haven't I bought that extra powerful zoom lens yet???

Oops--almost left Macon without getting day shots of the two original stores!

Okay, what the fuck is the name of this gas station (in Macon)--there is no name on the sign, just a lightning bolt. Owner must have been a fan of the 90s-era Prince.

More billboards for massage parlors on the interstate to Macon than I could remember seeing around any other city.

Meanwhile, my jeans were sagging more and more around my waist. How was it that my waistline was shrinking, but not my obscenely huge gut?

OMG! Canoga & Sherman finally opened! The listing had been on the Starbucks web site for at least 8 months, maybe longer.

North Augusta fan goodies DVD shower. Had one of my top fan experiences in North Augusta, when I met up with a young woman who had e-mailed and offered a "shower stop". I'd had many offers of places to stay, but as far as I could remember hers was the only offer explicitly of a shower. We met at the new Starbucks, and she greeted me with a bag of goodies, light foodstuffs and other treats. Before meeting her, I had had my doubts about taking advantage of the shower offer, for the simple reason that it seemed strange to shower at a strangers house. But she seemed nice enough, not dangerous. And when I learned she was a librarian I immediately perked, since the "sexy librarian" is a classic male fantasy. With contact lenses, a make over, and some sexy clothes, this women could definitely qualify for "sexy librarian" status. So I followed her back to her place for the shower, now a little hopeful, but a shower was all I was getting. No surprise when I got out, no massage offer. Probably for the best, since her husband got off work at 9:00, and I wouldn't have been surprised if he had rushed home knowing that she had invited a stranger over for a shower. Heck, I'm surprised the husband even agreed. She said that he was pretty open-minded (though not open-minded to be comfortable with her massaging a strange man), and also that she had a lot of skater friends who would come by the house all the time.

On the drive to Columbia, the dizziness, hadn't felt it in a while.

Back in Chattanooga I had made the mistake of dumping potato chips in the back of my car. I got most of them out, but these were magic potato chips, and over the course of the next few days they proceeded to breed. No matter how many I scooped out, if I didn't get them all, in the morning I would find more.

At 3:00 AM I woke up to do my business. As usual, in my half-asleep state any movement of trees looked like a person, changing traffic lights appeared to be cars pointing at me. But this was Columbia, and things were pretty quiet on the side street, Lincoln, I had chosen, next to a park. But after a few minutes, I noticed that there was an honest-to-goodness person, and old man, sitting on a bench inside the enclosed park. And he was reading. Very strange. Suddenly, I saw him looking around in my direction. He must have heard my car door shut when I dumped the kiwi juice, or maybe even my nose blowing. He did not appear to see me though, because of the shade from the trees, my partially fogged windows, and the blankets I had put up against my back windows for cover.

June 14

Oh, mush-minga. I was hoping to sleep until 8:00 to better be able to stay up for the new Fantastic Four film. At 7:00 AM the sky was overcast, making it a great day for sleeping in. At 7:00 I moved around the corner for more privacy, and because the cars turning onto Broad were disturbing me. Couldn't fall back asleep, though.

Interesting. I took a closer look at a photo I had been sent, one that I took at a Starbucks with staff, and I discovered someone had altered the chalkboard we were holding up to read "...Welcome you to Gay Pride Week." Presumably the person who photoshopped the image intended an insult, not realizing that I support the homosexuals, although I don't support any type of false pride. Accomplishments deserve pride--conditions that one was born with, whether sexual orientation or good looks, do not. However, the photo might not have been directed at me, but rather at one of the other partners in the photo. Making the situation more intriguing was that, by coincidence, I had run into one of those partners at a store in Greenville, and he had been a bit cool to me. But his cool demeanor was such that it might just have been his way of talking to everybody and not had anything to do with me. Hard to tell. But seeing this photot, I had to wonder if he himself had seen the photo, thought I was attacking gays, and reacted to me for that reason. Alternatively, perhaps he himself had altered the image and sent it to me out of meanness. Or maybe just as a harmless joke. The upshot of this is that I didn't know whether to categorize the e-mail as Hate Mail, Fans, Misc, or some other category. I hate it when I can't categorize things properly.

8:48, one of the Star Wars themes running thru my head.

Former high school classmate IM'ed me, and she did know know about the movie. I guess that old teacher of mine never forwarded my e-mail to other classmates like I asked? Well, to be truthful, I was a pain in the ass back in high school, so I can't exactly say I expect any favors.

Oh, well, I figured it was too good to be true.

Wait, wait... is there still hope?

Finally got into a Hyundai dealership to see about that "AIR BAG" indicator light. I was told that the things I had under my seat were interfering with the sensors. While I waited I was able to take advantage of the free Wi-Fi. I appreciate this. What I did not appreciate, however, was that they used a filtering software that blocked my Bittorrent download. Also, they blocked adult sites. Fuckers.

Mixed feelings in Atlanta as a barista came up to me while I was still in line and said "Hi Winter" and handed me a sample. He recognized me from the movie, which was cool, and the first such occurrence, but he had seen the movie illegally--it was sent to him by a friend. !@#$%^& I thought, and I wanted to say "Man, you owe me some money!"

Flying Biscuit, yeah baby!

Before the new Fantastic Four movie I killed time with Knocked Up, one of the few outright comedies I've seen. I saw the movie because of the reviews and an interview on Fresh Air, and despite my distaste for the film's theme, that of keeping and unplanned child, which, looked at from a purely rational perspective with no primitive emotional bias, is one of the most selfish and sociopathic acts a human can make. Theft, rape, and murder have less of a detrimental impact on the universe than birthing and raising an accidental child without having a high probability that the child can be raised properly, by which I mean raising the child to be a true human rather than an animal, as most humans are raised to be.

MLK homeless

June 13

6:36, should have been enough, even minus the 15-30 minutes to relocate, but I still felt pretty sleepy. Forced myself up anyway so I'd have as much time as possible to visit all the new Starbucks between Loganville and my cousins in Kennesaw, and thus avoid backtracking. The day already started with backtracking, over 7 miles, to reshoot that Loganville store. But that seemed like a waste when I arrived and discovrered the sun facing the wrong way. I might as well have gone with the dusk shot. Cost me an hour--not worth it.

Bagel Time Cafe & Deli, real fried egss, yay for my taste buds, boo for my arteries.

Okay, the display on my phone is totally backwards, right-to-left. The poor thing is on it's last legs, no doubt!

And my power converted, it had completely fritzed out, meaning I had to keep my laptop off most of the time, and then take it into each Starbucks and plug it in immediately while I was there.

Cat-like howling from the back room of the new Lawrenceville store once all the customers left as a very excitable barista looked for that song, you know that song, from Beetlejuice. She put it on, and much dancing ensued in the brief respite from customers they had. They called it the "theme song" from the store.

Ach! Gwinnett Mall store doesn't open 'til 10:00. I couldn't wait 75 minutes, so my route was thrown off.

As I photoed Moore Rd a young man in a odd-gray-green car pulled up, rolled down his window, and said something like, "If it means anything, I'm from Chicago, and this is the best [yadda yadda yadda] mocha latte I've ever tasted." The way he said it, and the look on his face made me suspect his comment was just a pretense to come on to me. I think what he really wanted to say was "I'd love to taste your moicha latte." Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm just more partial to traveling frogs, is all. I suggested he go to the Starbucks web site. Not to come on to it, but to give kudos to that store. Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with coming on to a machine, necessarily, depending on the machine. That Xlerator, for example--pure sexy.

As I drove east an inclined portion of McGinniss a bird soared along the path of my car, but higher. It appeared to be a awk of some sort, and very elegant. I could get down with being a hawk, I think.

The only thing worst than a Starbucks in a mall is two Starbucks in a mall. At Mall of Georgia... II (!!!), I was given directions to the first and had to double back to find the second. Upon entering, the supervisor/manager was stocking coffee, and when she turned around and asked "What can we do for you?", her look and demeanor was so viscerally unpleasant that I decided not to tell her who I was. Just paid for a coffee and left. On the bright side, I found a folded up dollar bill on the staircase.

Across the freeway from Gwinnett Mall, a Best Buy where I replaced my power inverter. Noticed something new, spanish

Next mall, a cantanekerous old white-haired Foghorn Leghorn type. Decided to stealth that one, too. To make matters worse, I had to wait 3-4 minutes for the coffee to brew, and he charged me anyway. Usually they don't charge you if you have to wait.


Yet another reason why laws are primitive way of maintaining order and should be replaced with a more effective system.

Rushed to German's so we could go have lunch with my other cousins in the area. No DVDs yet, but my mail, and my bundle of joy!

While photographing the Cherokee store, a truck passed behind me, and I could have sworn it sounded like Donald Duck.

As I headed to Ellijay along I-575/SR-5, about 80 MPH, day sunny, windows down with a breeze to cool me off, replacement credit card in my backpack, a new box of DVDs, a messful of comics, I felt a rather peaceful glow come over me, a moderately deep sense of satisfaction.

DVDs arrived just in time, as I sold my final one from the first batch in Ellijay--49 in almost exactly two months!

Why ouchie-head? Hoped not food poison from that Chinese restaurant my cousins picked.

Wrong turn out of the Ellijay store plus trouble finding the new Chatanooga store, plus a craving for Jason's Deli, cost me enough time that I did not reach the Rome store until night, so I had to stay in town. Couldn't find the Wal-Mart according to the directions I'd been given, so I wandered around quite a bit, in part because Cory called. Settled on a space next to a furniture warehouse/company, in front of a big truck. Unsure what time people would show up, at 5:00 I moved over to downtown, Broad Street.

June 12

7:34, not quite 8 hours.

Oh, shabubaruba!!! When I awoke in the middle of the night and turned on my laptop to jot down dream notes, I discovered the random place I had parked had Wi-Fi. I started downloading Daily and Colbert, but the connection was slow, and by the time I got up they were only at 40%. I figured downloading would be faster at the Starbucks, so I headed straight there instead of arranging my car, and I was disapppinted to learn there was no T-Mobile! Mine own fault--I had passed by the store at night looking for a place to sleep, and I had not bothered to check. I broke the Boy Scout rule, always check for Wi-Fi!

On the bright side the zit that had been bubbling up in an awkward location, right above my upper lip, had finally blossomed to the point that I could pop it. Ordinarily zits wouldn't be an issue, since women ignore me anyway, but I happened to be at the part of The Dark Tower where Pimli Prentiss was popping one of the many infected zits on his face. The characters were in a place affected by radiation, I think, that caused them to break out. Kind of creepy to think about, really, but that's Stephen King for you. Anyway, I did not want my face to start breaking out because of radiation.

Before getting back on the freeway stopped at a restaurant I had noticed the night before, Junction. Turned out that breakfast was buffet style, but I was able to order a-la carte. Biscuit could have been really good had it been fresh. Eggs were just nasty. Nastier still, when, in a fit of clumsiness, I tipped over the styrofoam container and dumped egg into my coffee!!! Nasty! I had to drink and eat that! Yuck-o-la. Took me almost a minute or more to chew up those eggs, so yucky was the taste.

Incidentally, under the register at Junction was a b/w photo of a young woman, Trace something Bouye, who bore a striking resemblance to Eva Longoria, but with a face that was not quite as skinny. Never really liked Eva--her face is too skinny

Pelham store, still no Wi-Fi! Rats! I needed Wi-Fi to shave!

Started brushing my teeth and immediately detected an unusual smell. Neither toothbrush nor paste had changed, so it must have been one of the cleaning products used in the bathroom. Unless... unlesss... the previous night, at the movies, someone had broken into my car, stolen the air bag, and coated my toothbrush with a foul-smelling substance!

Wi-Fi at ABC, but bathroom not private. Still, downloaded Fresh Air, and, what was one of the segments. Of course, Sopranos!!! You know a show is influental when every NPR show under the sun covers the finale!

ABC also had plastic forks that were super sharp, sharper than any in recent memory. You could kill a person with these forks. Just holding one made me feel like 007, only not as cool.

Vector brand 225 watt power converter finally starting to flake out--with the engine turned off, the power seemed to cycle on and off.

Nuts, nuts, nuts! I was afraid of this. Down to one DVD left, and I have a discrepancy. According to my records I should have one more, unless I sold one and forgot to record it, or lost one, or misplaced one in the car. AARRGHH!!!

One of the stores was conveniently located near Stax's Original Restaurant, a hearty meal at a great price. But unlike my previous two visits, when they could do not wrong, this time they tried to give me some kind of tomato saucish-type concoction instead of the great northen beans I ordered. Sneaky, sneaky.

My "classic" Nokia phone kept turning off, and when I passed Sprint store I decided to see what kind of replacement I could get for free. After waiting, and waiting, and waiting, a manager asked the rest of us if we had questions. I took the opportunity to ask what phones were available free, and my choices were limited to... one, and not a Nokia. And this free one was of the flip variety. I don't like flip phones. All of a sudden, my ailing Nokia was looking pretty good, and I felt a twinge of separation anxiety.

Didn't expect any clubs to be open so early in a small town like Greenville (even if it was booming enough for 9 Starbucks), but Ladies 'n Lace was both open, had no cover, and had $10 table dances. The place looked like a true dive. No soap, no paper towels in the bathroom. Shabby furniture and fixtures. And the ladies were of dive-quality, too. I would have left quickly, except I happened to spot one, one single dancer, who was actually cute. And somewhat frisky too, even for the $10 table dance--unlike the Rhino, there was no bouncer, just a DJ, and he did not seem to pay attention to what was going on in the back. And, in a rare occurence, the dancer actually solicited me for activites outside the club later. Irrelevant, since nbody short of a Playboy model could have persuaded me to stick around Greenville all day, not unless she was giving it away for free, and even then I'd have to think about it.

Dishwasher Pete gave up his quest for love. Wuss.

Holy shit!!! It's fucking June in Georrgia and HAIL is coming down!!!

Funny situation in Athens as I ran into a barista who had e-mailed me years earlier from Knoxville and promised to "show me a good time" when I got to the city. Well, when my travels finally took me to Knoxville, I did e-mail her, but she never responded. She remembered me, though, in Athens, though it seemed that the enthusiasm that appeared to be in her original e-mail had long since faded. She also seemed like she wasn't into boys, so I'm not sure what kind of good time she would have shown me, but then again, I have a notoriously lousy gaydar.

Cool, perhaps, but hard to read barista in Loganville, the first Katrina I had met in a long time, interesting tattoo, bright reddish hair that had to be colored, right?

Johnny's Pizza and Pasta offers free meals for children on Monday and Tuesday. I was unsuccessful in convincing them that I am totally a child.

I'd thought I'd smelled it before but been too sleepy to be sure. No doubt about it this time, however--the urine residue in the cup left in the car all day long produce a definite popcorn smell. When I took the lid off the venti cup, the smell was pretty strong but dissipated quickly. I could probably avoid the smell by washing out the cup in the morning, but why bother--the funky smell from living in my car for months has to be much stronger.

Woke up around 1:00 AM to hear a radio and see lights next to my car. I could hardly believe it--I had never been bothered at a Wal-Mart before. I immediately told the officer that Wal-Mart authorized overnight parking. He replied that was for eighteen wheelers (wrong), but that this particular Wal-Mart didn't allow anybody in the parking lot overnight. He confirmed that there was no sign posted--they had simply told the cops. Niiice, Wal-Mart. I was miffed that I had already filled my gas tank, which I would not have done had I known I would be ejected. The cop was polite, didn't even ask me for ID, but I still didn't want to run into him again, so I was extra choosy on where to park next and drove out to Snellville, finally finding an office park with many cars in the lot and dark enough that my fogged up windows wouldn't be as noticeable. I figure that's what tipped off the cop. Maybe he thought kids were making out or something.

June 11

6;43, and as I hopped to the front of the car, I felt that the right leg of my shorts had ridden up some. Had the parking lot not been empty, somebody might have gotten a half-moon. Maybe a quarter. Coulda been worse. Could have been a "dangling participle" had "Little Winter" been mispositioned.

Uh-oh. A spot appearing in my frame. I removed the lens and checked the mirror but could not remove the spot. Since I cannot be without my camera for even an instant, which means I cannot send it away for repair, I might have to buy a D80.

Another dilemma--how to avoid finding out what happened to Tony Soprano in the season finale until I can catch up (I'm only a few eps into season 2). The Morning Edition report did not spoil the ending, but then at the top of the hour there was a brief report that I had to turn the volume down and start howling for.

Interesting, the NPR affiliate in North Carolina, at least where I was some 30 miles south of Greensboro, reported on local triple AAA baseball, including what is probably the most well-known team, the Durham Bulls.

Finally reshot Battleground Village, the second store I ever visited in North Carolina. Across the parking lot was a store new to me, Earth Fare, and even though I had already eaten the passable Breyers yogurt from Wal-Mart, I got a craving for that yummy yummy Brown Cow. I'm gonna marry that cow someday!

Another long e-mail from Amy, indicating she had finally seen the film. So she hadn't decided to blow me off yet, but one of her many questions was about strip clubs. I suggested she ask her parents to explain the male fascination with nude females rubbing up against them. So far Amy seemed like a younger, prettier, and thinner version of Jodi, but it remained to be seen whether she was as tolerant. Once again, I had to reserve optimism until she found the explicit strip club photos buried somewhere in my blogs and decided I was a cad.

Hmmm... I can't decide what detracts from a good-looking woman's attractiveness more--smoking, or driving an SUV. Either way it's so very sad to see.

Holy smokes!!! I had missed University Parkway in Winston-Salem for a weird reason. My program stripped leading spaces from the names of stores when downloading from the Starbucks web site, and it turned out that there was already a store named "University Parkway", without the space, in Florida. That sneaky Cabal, at it again! Thankfully, the Cabal cannot control the grass-roots support for my mission, and I was clued into the existence of the store by a barista at Reynolda.

Billy Bob's Silver Diner, vegetable plate was tiny. I was soon hungry again.

This report about Starbucks in Saudi Arabia is troubling, but the issue is more complex than most of the commenters make it out to be. To simply call for Starbucks to pull out of Saudi Arabia ignores the fact that human rights violations can probably be found in every country on the planet, including China, but starting with the United States itself. Just because the U.S. doesn't commit some of the abuses that occur in countries like China and many Middle Eastern countries doesn't mean the U.S. is perfect. Far from it. The U.S. is horrible on human rights, all the way from the Federal government down to local cops (L.A., for example). What should Starbucks do? I can't say. But I can say this--when the majority of the baord of directors and shareholders of Starbucks (and most other companies) go to bed at night, they are not thinking about solving the world's problems. And that is the true problem, the very existyence of people who are not interested in making the world a better place.

Sopranos segment on Here and Now. Sopranos segment on Day to Day. Sopranos segment on Talk of the Nation.

While waiting for a reshoot of Mooresville, one of the young kids in the evil SUV next to me moved into the drivers seat and started playing with the steering wheel. The mom had left the engine running, so I went inside and asked her if the kids knew how to put the car in gear. She said no, but she quickly rushed out to the car. She thanked me profusely, over and over. In retrospect, I probably should just have let the situation develop. If the kids did get the car moving and died in a explosive crash, that would just mean fewer potential SUV drivers in our future.

Usually it's the other way around--it's the supervisor who hasn't heard of me, but this time it was the manager, who happened to show up just as I was asking for the supervisor, and she interceded and looked me up and down like I was day-old-garbage. Well, maybe half-day old.

In Charlotte, strangeness abounded, as I grabbed my money and noticed that the number of single had multiplied exponentially. I had eighteen!!! I usually try to keep it to no more than four (I have a secret stash of five in my backpack). So how did I accumulate eighteen???


The Stonecrest store was in the same shopping center as a Regal cinemas, and the timing worked out for Fracture. Midway through the previews, the projector cut off all of a sudden. I was all by myself in the auditorium, so it was up to me to get the message to a projectionist. I suspected that if I did not, the problem might go unfixed. About 10-20 minutes into the movie, the picture died again. When it happened a third time, I decided to try for another movie. As I left, a projectionist was headed in to tell the rest of the audience (four young men) that the film would not continue. Unfortunately, I had missed the start of the other films I wanted to see. So I had wasted a good hour, plus that might have been my last chance to see the film.

On the bright side, the sun had come out, and I was able to get a better photo of the Starbucks. Additionally, I was able to get to the two Hickory stores and then Asheville before the mall closed.

Worst pizza in recent memory, stuffed, a place in Stonecrest, wish I would have jotted down the name so I could warn people away.

Mein gott, that never ceases to amaze The wheels stop turning, but the rims keep spinning! Truly, this is a wondrous time to be alive and sighted.

Why is my face so greasy today? Bugging the hell out of me.

Oh, and we can't leave out All Things Considered--another Sopranos report.

Across from the mall in Asheville is a movie theatre, but my timing was off. There was another theater, on Hendersonville, though, and on my way out to SC. Timing worked out for Bug. Very creepy movie.

For no apparent reason, the "AIR BAG" indicator in my car was on and stayed on.

Went over to the Wal-Mart parking lot next to the theater. The store was closed, and the parking lot was pretty dark had plenty of cars spread out. Ordinarily that would have been great, but there were two employees out in the lot, smoking maybe. I chose a space towards the back and went through the whole process of changing and arranging my car. But then something creeped me out, something I couldn't put a finger on, and I decided to move along. Nothing that looked suitable all the way out to the freeway, and from that point with the windows down and listening to This American Life, I pushed on to the rest area. Two hour limit, though, and not seeing any other cars, I pushed on to Spartanburg. Found nothing suitable right around the Starbucks, so I headed to a side street near downtown.

Strange dreams. Scrabble slump fears, Matt found a word list, though I was cheating? Drew Allen as a replacement, but for the second divison, leaving me with a bye. My nemesis, identity indeterminate, outdraw me. Tough guy, football player, at the chess tables, scary. Howard leaning back in a car, high on weed.

June 10

8:24, immediately drove over to the Tire & Lube, parked, and went inside to check in. Until the last three or four oil changes, this time the attendant indoors told me I needed to check in outside. Grrr... I rushed back to my car, but another driver pulled up before me. I parked my car behind his and quickly went back inside to look for a manager. I explained my situation, and he promised to attend to my car right away.

Went to the J Clyde Morris store to say goodbye to Amy. Was relieved to see that she did not appear to try to avoid me. But that meant nothing until she had a chance to see my movie and pour (or is that "pore") through my blogs, if she so cared. If she was still talking to me then, then that would be a good sign. I resolved to reserve optimism until then. "Resolve to Reserve"--hey, that would make a good name for an album and song when I finally decide to start my rap career.

Killtronic, I'm lusty but I'm not a perv.
To love all the ladies I resolve to reserve.
Whether with jam or strawberry preserve
I'll give every hottie just what she deserve.

Finally! An audience member on Talk of the Nation Science Friday asked the question that's been burning in my mind for years and years, why the issue of population growth is so seldom discussed in the context of global warming and environmental change. He even asked if the topic was taboo. And the answer from the scientist? Almost five minutes of talking around the topic and never directly addressing the issue! I cannot call scientists, researchers, and think-tankers stupid, obviously, but I am mystified as to why they so stupidly overlook or ignore the most obvious issue for dealing with climate change--the population! Are ehy afraid of backlash? Grow some balls, will ya? Tell it like it is, and like it is is that humans are the problem, and way too many of them!

Clayton store next to Waffle House triggered random waffle urge (RWU).

Damn. but Raleigh PD cars is uuuugly!

At the new Cary store met only the 2nd person to have heard about me from Talk of the Nation.


Wow, talk about close timing. I was already making a left out of the Parkwest shopping center onto Highway 55 when I saw the group of dawdly dawdlers who had parked next to me finally exiting the store. Quickly pulled a totally illegal u and went back for the good shot. The strange middle-aged man sitting outside the store was still photographing his grande paper cup.

Oh, shit, that could have been bad!!! Made the mistake of taking a swig of coffee comingled from three different stores while watching The Daily Show. Almost spit it out all over my car. Don't think I could have scooped or sucked it up fast enough.

Too much time reshooting around Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, plus bad directions, meant I didn't reach the Aberdeen store 'til dark and had to stay at the Wal-Mart. Yay, a night in Aberdeen, NC!!!

June 9

6:36, and a long drive ahead of me to Salem. Thought I could probably hold out with a PowerBar until then, but the Yuck-fil-a sign off the interstate pulled me in with its tractor beam. Fortunately for my gut, the store is in the Bristol Mall, and not open 'til 10:00, and thus I was saved from The Yuck.

But the Yuck struck again, in Christianburg, and was just too close to the Starbucks I needed to reshoot for me to pass up. Inside, I swore to myself that the kid sweeping the floor couldn't have been more than 12. The lady ahead of me agreed, though she did not seem to share my sentiment, nor to care, that that age was too young to be working. Later, out in the parking lot, I saw her taking a toddler out of her car and wonder how long it would be before she was dragging his skinny ass back for an application.

My first three purchases of the day were all for $1.94! Had I been infected with the disease that is religious belief, I might have considered that a sign. But of what?

Aw, no Chelsea in Salem. She was in Texas, of all places.

Dude!!! Pulled into a gas station on US-460 15 miles out of Lynchburg, license plate # "1"!!! Passed on from generation to generation, or bought?


Okay now why does anybody want to live in a town named "Hurt"? Isn't that just asking for pain?

Fly-infested Bojangles staffed by unprofessiolites. Felt gross just standing there, but I was already started to develop a hunger headache, and my map showed few choices along the highway from Danville to Chesapeake.

In Brodnax, VA, a gas station called "Slip-In". Hey, that's my whole philosophy of life. Farther down, a billboard for a real estate agent who looks a lot like Carlos from Desperate Housewives.

Oopsie! Almost suckered by a fake Starbucks at the Farm Fresh in Chesapeake. Sneaky, sneaky!

Finally met Amy at a posh apartment complex that she wouldn't be able to afford for long. Reset the meter and then went for dinner and to see Ocean's Thirteen. She had sounded a bit off on the phone, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but Amy turned out to be more attractive than I expected and had a great personality. Between traveling, Starbucks, and poker, we already had some things in common. During the film, I started to develop fantasies of running off to a casino, winning at the tables, and then robbing the joint, Bonnie and Clyde style. But it was almost midnight when the movie ended, and Amy had to open in the morning, and besides she wasn't the type of girl to rob a casino on the first date.

June 8

6:49, headed immediately south/west for the Wal-Mart, but when I did not see it within a half mile I turned around and decided to try to head back to the Starbucks for a photo and then reach the Wal-Mart to be first for an oil change. Reached the Wal-Mart about 7:02 and saw that it was not a Supercenter and did not have a Tire & Lube Center. It was okay, I was still a few hundred miles from being due anyway.

Aaaaaah, hot and humind in Owensboro, and mosquitos!!!

Rainstorm, and for the first time in 11 weeks (unless my log says otherwise), I took a nap. A good idea, I think. With the lengthened days, it was easy for me to slip into a sleep-deprived state, and I didn't want to prolong that and risk getting zwick.

Finally bought Streets & Trips 2007. $39.99 + tax, but I figured it was worth the price in the time and gas I'd save from getting lost.

I walked into the Paducah store, in the mall, and immediately went back to to the restroom. I stood there holding my yank, wondering whether to pull out the Playboy's Lingerie I had in my backpack (always prepared, like a Boy Scout, onlt not homophobic) when I suddenly felt a hunger pang. Just as instantly my mind flashed back to the two ladies that had walked out of the mall holding Yuck-fil-a bags, and I knew that it was going to happen. I wasn't going to be able to prevent it. The craving. The evil craving. While I stirred sugar into my sample, I tried to tell myself, "don't do it, don't do it", but I knew it was a lost cause. I tried to distract myself by checking out the Borders Express for new Plaboy SE's, but not even the new College Girls and Girls on Girls could shake the craving from my bones. I bought the chicken sandwich, knowing full well I would soon regret it.

As I approached the mall doors with my "food", I spotted a tall blonde drink of water about to enter. I quickly changed direction so I would exit through the same doors she was coming in and be able to get a better look at her rack, but she must have read my mind--she changed directions herself and took a different door. Rats!!!

Ach, tipped cup back too quickly and spilled some coffee on my chest and stomach. Had to wipe it up with my fingers and then lick my hand. Glad it had only been three days since my last shower.

AAAAAAAHHHHH!!! I finally ran the query that I had been fearing, and the results were disturbing. Not even two months since I last departed California, on April 12, and there were already 43 new stores opened (not even coutning the ones opening this weekend). Adding in the other states that I had already visited and did not plan to return to, there were 82 new stores, which meant I was already mathematically eliminated from reaching 99% without going back to California.

Okay, okay, I confess! I can't help but be thrilled that Paris Hilton is going back to jail. Hah!

Uh-oh... primary credit card reaching its limit. Had to ask dad to ship me my mail to Atlanta so I would have my replacement secondary card. But either way, my trip was nearing a close, and a trip overseas, if possible, would not be long.

Pretty good chicken, black beans, and wild race from a place called Couva Calypso Cafe in Knoxville. Has branches in Nashville too.

Ahhhh, fou-nananananana! New Asheville store is in a mall!! Screwed up up program, because I would arrive around 10 PM and did not want to wait until 8:30 in the morning!


June 7

7:06, not quite caught up, but I was looking at a 20+ Starbucks day, so I figured staying awake was nooooot going to be a problem.

Oh, no, no, no, no, no!!! After 11 weeks of desperate avoidance, I think I finally got mosquito-bit! And on my earlobe of all places. This is going to huuuurt!

Almost forgot--either Tues or Wed I broke my record of most days on the road, either 73 or 74!

Music discovery at Starbucks, Maria Taylor.

Funny how interpersonal dynamics work--at Boston the manager was training, so I spoke to the supervisor, who looked at me with suspicion and/or puzzlement even before I had annouced my purpose. When I explained what I was doing, her attitude changed not at all. But as I sugared the sample, she went over and gave my flyer to the manager, and when he expressed genuine interest in what I was doing, the supervisor's attitude did a 180. A smile developed on her face, and she asked me to sign the mini flyer I had given her.

A couple of stores later, the manager/supervisor had already heard of me and the film, but he was either extremely exhausted or he wanted nothing to do with me. I got the sense, more than in most other cases in which I received a negative reaction, that this one might have had to do with my politics. Enough time had passed since I had ramped up my anti-religious stance, and I had visited enough stores, that chances were eventually I would run into a barista who had been told that I was on an anti-God crusade. Or that I held other radical political positions. Or that I liked sex a lot. Who knows.

Before heading down to Richmond I stopped at Spearmint Rhino. I typically shunned the California locations for being too expensive, but Thursday in Lexington happened to be 2-for-1 day. Worked for me, and the dancers got more up close and personal than I would have expected from Bible-Belt Kentucky. Nevertheless, I went a little too far and was escorted out by the bouncer, the first time that had happend in 8 or 9 years. At least he didn't threaten to beat the shit out of me like the last time. Still not sure exactly what happened, whether the dancer told the bouncer to keep a close eye out before we went into the back room, or whether he just kept a closer eye out on the all-nude dances, or whether one of the earlier dancers had complained to him that I was being too frisky. Still got my money's worth, but it's a shame I won't be able to return, at least not for a few years, assuming that particular bouncer has moved on, or doesn't remember me, by then. That's probably how long it will take me to return to the area anyway, as Lexington is not along my more common route around the country. But I'm sure I'll return--the risk of getting beaten to a pulp by the bouncer is an integral part of the appeal of strip clubs.

Down in Paris, a first--the supervisor from Paris was there! That had never happened before, running into the same barista twice on the same day.

Tired of unappetizing burritos, I went for the fajitas instead. I was disappointed once again, primarily by the fact that the fajitas were booby-trapped with onions and peppers. Picking them out while on miles of deathly narrow Kentucky highways was mighty tricky, and those in the car behind me must have thought I was drunk. I nearly ran off the road 437 times.

6:45, only 40 oz coffee, allergies not bad, just ate, so why headache?

With five stores down, and five to go, and coffee from four comingled in a venti cup (one shot already downed), I came up with a new technique to protect myself against spillage, partitioning. Since I had three cup colders, I could put samples into a second cup, so that if I spilled either, I would not have to revisit all the stores.

Whew! 20 stores in about 3 1/2 hours, enough to complete the Lexington and Louisville markets. I dub this... the Kentucky Krump!

Curses! About 15 minutes too late for the final screenings at the movie theater in the same parking lot as that last Starbucks. Still have many movies to watch. Since all the caffeine would make it hard for me to sleep, that would have been a good time for a film.

Hot and humid, much sweat before I managed to fall asleep in the Meijer parking lot.

June 6

Alarm woke me right at 7:00 and I was soon headed out to Herndon. All episodes of The Colbert Report appeared to have downloaded, yay!

Finally looked up Hasan (Elahi)'s web site,
. This idea is important. Listen to Studio 360.

Random Yuck-fil-a breakfast biscuit craving.

The shortest, if not necessarily fastest, route from Herndon to Clarksburg, WV, was along US-50. I eagerly took it, because I hope to drive all of that highway someday. And after reaching Clarksburg, I'd be glad never to drive that particular stretch again. Boooooring.

What was that furry creature on the road? It was kind of cute. I had to swerve around it, and as I looked in my rearview and saw several trucks behind me, I feared that the creature was not long for this world.

Oh, shit, The Colbert Report is funny! I was choiking on mty beans and rice and struggling to keep my car on the road!

Another one! This time I got a closer look. I'm thinking beaver, because the road ran along a stream. Scurried back into the woods before I could get a photo.

Starbucks Road along US-19 on the way to Beckley.

The manager at Beckley suggested the furry creature might have been a groundhog.

Really bad burrito from Rio Grande.

A gentleman's club named Southern Xposure had just opened for the night at 6:00 PM, and with spare time to reach Huntington, I decided to check it out. But immediately I found three reasons to skip that club. First, the cashier's booth had one-way glass, so I couldn't see the male cashier/host/bouncer talking to me. In all the clubs I've been too, I've never found such a setup, and it creeped me out. Next, cover was $5, but $10 for out-of-state residents. Wack! And next, dances were between $50, or $35 when the DJ ran a special. More wackness! I turned right around and headed out. There was another Southern Xposure, coincidentally enough, at the Huntington Mall exit in Huntington, but I called this time and found out the same thing about the cover. Just on principle alone, I ain't paying twice the cover just for being out of state. It's not like being from WV is a privilege!

Very cute barista at the Huntington Mall had such a look of awe on her face when she met me. I think I could have had a shot if I had been a regular and able to ply my manly charms. But that was never going to happen since the store is in a mall. And in West Virginia. And if she sees my movie and decides I am crazy.

Strange dreams. Hostel/hotel expensive room $150. Records showed I had spent $209, what??? Shared room with Bill and indeterminate guy, maybe Frank but sometimes skinnier. Out in the parking lot convertible full of bleach blondes, at least seven. Alien spaceship passes overhead I shout to Bill and friend to wake up.

June 5

6:46, early enough for some reshoots in Hoboken before heading south to meet Bonnie. Across from the Newark St. & Hoboken store was a bagel shop, and I got the impression that the cashier did not appreciate the crumpled, damp, and possibly sweaty bills I extricated from my pocket. He wiped them off and set them on the register, an act I had never before witnessed.

Another new event while reshooting 12th & Hudson. While trying to find a good angle, I caught the attention of a blonde pant-suited businesswoman. She stared at me, and my first instinct was to hope she recognized me and would buy a DVD. But then she asked if I was taking pictures of people parking. What??? Irritated, I replied "Don't worry about it." She kept looking at me, and I said "The quicker you get out of my shot the quicker I'll finish and leave." She thought for a few more seconds and then moved her car.

Down to 11 DVDs, sent off payment to Heretic so I could be shipped more.

White Marsh, Columbia (Jessup), and Bowie, then went to see Michelle's new place. Asked her to look up movie listings and discovered Killer of Sheep was playing a E Street. I'd heard a lot about the film on NPR and decided to see it. Arrived a little late because I had a craving for some rice and tostones to go with my leftover stew beef and beans from Amefika's (they had run out of rice, as strange as that sounds).

Found a dark space to park along 10th Street until 1:00 AM, and then I moved in front of the Starbucks on 11th so I could download podcasts and The Colbert Report.

June 4

With a day to kill before the Stephen Colbert taping, slept as much as possible, 'til 7:46. Almost 11 hours--wowsers!

Oh, curse this aging memory! While hanging out at the Elwood store catching up on stuff and watching Heroes again, I noticed a wall behind the counter papered with Starbucks cards. I was reminded of a similar display, but framed, at another store. I was sure I had been to that store in recent months, but I could not remember where it was. Rats! In my younger years I would have been able to pinpoint it right away, 7000+ stores or not.

Grrr... photos on my site not loading. Worried that the servers might have finally been pulled. Decided to upload all the photos to my main site just in case, a process that would take many, many hours. Had to postpone plans to visit MoMA until photos were up. Around 1:30, the old site came back up, so I decided to go to the museum anyway.

Just in case Cory didn't show, or I didn't take him back to his apartment and use his shower, I called some massage places. One number was to one of those agency/parlor type places I dislike, but I was amused by the reply to my question. The person on the phone said, "tipping is at your discrepancy."

Met Cory for the taping of The Colbert Report. It was funny that my first time seeing the show was from the audience rather than on television. Girl in row in front of me was a bit homely, with glasses, a large nose, acne, but she seemed to find the show hilarious, and I guessed that she would be fun to hang out with. Though I never expected to see her again, unless I downloaded the show and looked for when the camera panned to her and then captured the image and blew it up and carried it around with me. But only a creepy stalker would do that.

After the show producer Mark said he had other work to do and could not interview me. Very disappointing. Exposure on Colbert would have been gold.

Took Cory back to Brooklyn and reset the odor meter.

Headed back through Manhattan to get out to Jersey. Debated whether to head down to my spot on Front Street, or whether to find parking in Jersey. Finally decided I wanted to be closer to some stores I wanted to rephotograph in the morning. Ended up driving more than the detour to Front St. would have been because the neighborhoods around the Holland Tunnel in Jersey City all had 2-hr parking restrictions except with permit. Had to move over to Hoboken, next to an empty lot. Around 4:00 AM had to move the car to the other side of the street because of 6-8 AM parking restriction for street cleaning.

June 3

Three LI store on the way to Scrabble, then Southhold.

Keeping the TV show alive through bagels.

June 2

Awoken by Woody at 7:21. I told him I probably couldn't give him a ride to Port Jefferson, but it was good he woke me anyway, because I was wasting light. Those unnecessary coffees from the stores I revisited on Friday actually came in handy, to get me going.

A small dog, chihuahua maybe, wearing booties on each paw? Only in New York?

Great, when I finally decide to do these rephotographs, what do I find? 100 Williams Street, scaffolding. 195 Broadway, street construction blocking my angle. Liberty Plaza, closed on Saturday.

A positive interaction with a security guard, for a change, at World Financial (Place/Plaza/Center?). I had no choice but to shoot in view of him, and I was not able to get the shot I wanted before he walked over to me. But instead of telling me photography wasn't allowed, he asked if I was making a documentary. I replied, "funny you mention that, there actually is a documentary." We got to chatting, and he even asked me to recommend where to go on a cross-country road trip.

Headache lurking in the back of my head. Not sure of the reason. I thought I was drinking enough water, and I had a steady stream of coffee too. 10:19, finally gave in and popped the pills.

As I drive around, hour by hour, the never-ending frenetic character of the City increases, exponentially it seems.

Vanity plate, "NEGRESS"

Fuck, man, some type of gunk, little rocks maybe, from the construction truck, sprayed all over me!

In front of the Allen & Delancey store, a woman screaming at her husband. Anywhere else, the top-of-her lungs screaming would have attracted attention, but not here, not over the traffic and street noise. And who notices these scenes in NYC anyway?

Cop leaning against a wall a door down from the Penn Station LIRR store. I had no choice but to shoot in full view of him. I shot a few frames then went up to him and pretended to ask for directions. Then I went in the Starbucks and proceeded to spill an Odwalla all over the floor. They let me buy a different one. I went back to my position and waited for a good shot. For good measure, I took a photo of the performer behind me, to emphasize the fact that I was a tourist and not a terrorist (alike though the words might sound). The cop, young, made notes in a notepad. About what, I don't know. When I finished, I left as quickly as possible.

Couldn't find parking in time for Radio Golf at 2:00. Cory. Laudry, Radio Golf.

Bar that served as the Firecracker in the quickly-cancelled, but excellent, series, The Black Donnellys.

June 1

Tried to sleep as long as possible in case the midnight movie down in NYC was one at wanted to see, but 7:05 was it.

On the way to Nanuent stopped to reshoot Nyack, and the restaurant Strawberry Place looking interesting. Pretty good waffle. As I headed back out of town, I pulled into Murray's Deli, a gas station, intending to fill up just so I could park the car and take a photo of the restaurant. But then I noticed a sign explaining that the owner had bought out his Sunoco contract and switched to Citgo, citing as the reason not wanting to buy from the "terrorist-friendly countries of the Middle East". I promptly pulled out, not wanting to do business with this idiot.

Nanuet visit was unusual. The barista was nice enough when she went to get the manager, but then while I waited I asked for water. She reached for a grande cup, and I asked for a venti. When she gave it to me, she said she could do it that time, but only grandes from now on. I asked who had told her than, and her attitude suddenly turned sour. I explained that I had visited 491 stores in the past 10 weeks, and that was the first to impose that restriction. She went back into the back, and I had the feeling she was telling the manager something about me, because when he came out to meet me his attitude was definitely one of suspicion. But I can't know whether it was something she said, something about my appearance, something about the neighborhood (strip mall has a security guard), or just the fact that he's probably -from the City (based on his accent).

Shit, I did it again. Down in Hillsdale, I accidentally deleted a photo of Nanuet. I still had another, from a different angle, thank heavens, but I deleted the good angle!

With a day, day and a half to kill in NYC, I had time to try and get photos of some stores that were in buildings that were closed off to the general public after September 11th. I worried that my backpack would be searched and wished I still had that small Nikon 2500. At the first location, the security guard explained the store was only open to tenants and visitors. I said I wanted to speak to the manager, and he pointed me over to a phone with which I could call. I knew that wasn't going to work, so I asked him again, for the head of security. He said he was, and I explained my purpose. He chuckled and asked me to wait while he called his boss, who okayed it. Unlike last time, he did not walk me all the way back to the Starbucks, but rather just used his card to open the gate and let me proceed. As I waited in line I could see him glance over at me periodically, but once I moved up in the line I was out of his sight, and I readied my camera. I ordered a short coffee, and when the barista turned to get my coffee I pounced. She didn't say anything. For a second I thought I was busted when I young man in an official-looking black blazer said something like "hold up". But he just wanted to get in the shot, and I obliged him. Maybe he'll be famous now. I then quipped, "hey, did you used to be in New Edition". Of course, given their ages , it's possible neither he nor the barista had never heard of the band.

On second thought, given how goofy he looks in this photo, I'm doubting anybody will be calling him for a recording contract anytime soon.

The next store was much easier. I just went up to the guard and asked about the Starbucks, and he pointed down the hallway. To take the photo, I had to back out into the hall and expose myself to the guard. I'm not sure if he noticed or not, but I took my shot quickly and got out of there. Didn't risk going for a perfectly framed shot.

As I walked back to my car I passed a man pulling a street vendor's push cart. I was reminded of the movie Man Push Cart even though the man was fair-skinned, not of Asian descent. The cart had a sign indicating German food. Man, that has got to be a hard job, hauling a push cart around the city and selling all day, especially in the extreme cold or heat. A job no true human should have, really.

Next was the one that I thought had been downstairs, but still had a Starbucks logo visible all the way across the building through doors in the front. The back entrance was as I remembered, but I had thought the store was downstairs. Instead, there were just some steps leading to a pit. But that had to be the store, I thought--if not, which one could it possibly be? I had already been through all my photos twice. Anyway, this time all three guards definitely saw me taking some shots, but they said nothing, and I quickly left, unnecessary coffee in hand.

Meanwhile, traffic was as crazy as every in NYC, but I just didn't mind at all. I felt a mild sense of satisfaction from having gotten photos of those stores. Technically, all I needed to do was drink the coffee, which I had already done years earlier, but I felt that the more effort I put into the project, the greater the likelihood that the prophecy would be fulfilled. As long as 909 Third didn't disqualify me. That one was also protected by security, so I asked a passerby to get me a coffee, and I took a photo through the window. And then the store closed. I hoped that once I visited all 30,000+ company-owned stores, the Siren would not deny me her fruit because of that.

Hey, it's the smoke monster!!!

Nuts. Rain. Bad because hot, little wind in the city, I'm going to bake.

900 Third

says something I can't hear over Fresh Air and then quickly reaches out and punches the pole holding up the parking sign

Front St space now meters until 10:00 PM, 11:00, thirst, Borat, no Duane, Aloha Maid, deli Bolthouse, drunkness, pants ass. When I get back to my spot, sure enough, it' been taken, and I have to take a spot a couple of blocks north, near Pine. It is more exposed, but since there was some dude sleeping out on a bench a couple of hundred feet away, I didn't expect to be bothered locked up in my car like I was.

May 31

Son of a bitch! A parking ticket! Said I was over time from 1:00 to 7:00 AM, but there was no sign indicating this! By the time I photographed the Biltmore store, got breakfast, and did an interview with Swedish radio,

Eddie & Son

The Meriden store is a little bit south of downtown on Broad Street, but I took a detour down Main, where my map showed the restaurants were. Stumbled across Spanglish Delights--chicken, rice, and beans wermerely okay, but the tostones were excellent, just the way I like them.

A bonanza!!! Three DVDs at one store, plus one earlier in the day. Four total, the most in a day so far!

Connecticut, extreme allergies! Worst of the trip, even worse that Illinois. Not only congestion, runny nose, and sneezing, but also coughing and itchy eyes. Don't know if this is possible, but when I coughed it felt like I was choking on particles. Pollen? Is it that big? And it also felt like there were particles irritating my eyes. Had to take three different medications to ease my misery.

May 30

Wycleff may have woken kinda high, but I woke up, even after 7:23, after some 10 hours, feeling murklefekurcklisch.

Famished by the time I reached my exit, in Lake George. Noticed the Bank Cafe, operating inside a former bank, and curiosity motivated me to try something called "stuffed French toast". It was merely okay, but also tiny. For the price, I expected a much larger piece of toast.

No new stores in Vermont, but a beautiful day to drive thru the state nonetheless... except for the crazy number of speed traps all along US-4.

Is Vermont a magical place? I awoke congested, and I suffered a steady stream of phlegm as I drove down I-87 and west on US-4. But once I got into Vermont, I was congestion-free for about an hour, ninety minutes. And then shortly after crossing into New Hampshire--congestion again!

Oh, hell yeah! Finally saw the latest Transformers trailer, and I was left speechless by the CGI.

Oh, it's New Hampshire!!! The only state in the nation without an adult seat belt law. Upon hearing that on the radio, I took it off and tried flying free, but it felt so weird. Like being naked, almost. It wasn't long before I had to put the belt back on, because it just felt too weird driving without it.

And gas under $3.00!!!

Man, didn't reach the new Portland store 'til 3:45, and I really needed that coffee--was starting to feel withdrawal.

Ooookay. Driving from Portland to Falmouth along Allen Ave, in a residential area, a sign "HUNTING WITH SHOTGUN ONLY".

Shit, there's a Red Sox game, and the one store to visit in Boston is near Fenway. One sign advertising ballgame parking at the building where the Starbucks is--$30!!! Ridiculous!!!

Haven Bros., homeless, lady sick, Panamanian, loss of sense lights no baseball game

May 29

Wahoo!!! First into the Tire & Lube Center, but only because I decided not to try and sleep an extra 10 minutes. The line had started forming before their 7:00 AM opening time even. But boooooo, they neglected to tell me I needed a new tire until after they had pulled the car out of the bay, which meant I had to wait another 45 minutes--another car was already ahead of me. Grrr... why didn't they tell me earlier.

Deour to Wilkes-Barre was my worst mistake ever. I-81 back through Scranton was fucked, and every other route I took or tried to take was fucked. As I drove through Scranton, I figured I might as well try to find some grub. A restaurant called something "Yankee" or "Yankee" something and advertised Texas Wieners and Hamburgs. And guess what--that was the extent of the menu. Wieners and burgers. No fries, nor nothing else! And I don't know what exactly a Texas wiener is supposed to be, but the ones on the grill were tiny!

Oh... my... god... after over 470 stores, I finally forgot to photograph one. And of all places, it had to be Middletown, NY. While not the most remote of locations, Middletown is not along a route I expect to drive all that often.

passers-by hold up sign, "THEY COMIN' COPS"

No forgetting to photograph New Scotland Avenue, but a different kind of annoyance. I was outside, across the street, on grass that was probably part of the Albany Medical Center, since there was no sidewalk. A guard who wanted for something better to do (after finishing his smoke), and for good grammer, said "Sir, we can't be having you taking pictures." I replied, "Fine, I'll just move out to the public street."

Whew! Despite all the day's delays, I made it to Lake Placid with just enough light left for some decent photos. The baristas recommended Caribbean Cowboy, but it was closed. The nearby Mexican restaurant was overpriced and touristy, so I settled for something unusual--Ben & Jerry's plus the banana I had in the car.

May 28

Finished Scrabble around 2:00, and rushed off towards Hanover--I didn't want to dawdle and risk missing the store in the mall in Harrisburg (Camp Hill).

After a lousy Scrabble performance, I felt a bit drained, and not eager to tolerate hunger for long. My options were limited in Hanover. Though I had a craving for spaghetti, I had to settle for a Mexican place that did not quite serve the burrito the way I like it.

WHAT THE HELL?!?! I detoured through Reading because highway signs reported traffic stopped on I-78, and then as I headed towards Allentown on US-22, traffic stopped!!! FUUUUUUUUCK!!! Never even figured out what it was, whether an actual fire with all the trucks, or just some type of Memorial Day celebration

Despite the delay, got a decent shot of Trexeltown, but I would need a better shot of the South Mall later, and I would have to stay the night for the new store in Easton and the old Easton store. Stupid backups. But it was okay, because I desperatly needed an oil change anyway, and the Wal-Mart was conveniently located near the old Easton store, where I was able to download The Riches.

May 27

Scrabble, Newtown Square

May 26

6:46, rush to Scrabble.

Brief scare at Scrabble when I thought someone had taken the canned DoubleShot I had put in the refrigerator. In my rush to get through Ohio, I had neglected to notate each store when I had bought a DoubleShot with the expiration date of the can just in case I lost one.

May 25

7:08, and pressure in my head, felt like dehydration. Thought I had drank enough water during the night, though. In the bathroom, there was only a trickle, which seemed very unusual given the water I had been drinking during the night, plus the sample coffee from that last store in Wyoming. Strange.

The new South Bend store wasn't in a mall, but the barista at the counter, who turned out to be the supervisor, made me so uncomfortable from the moment I walked into the store that I decided just to stealth it. As I stood there and ordered the coffee and asked for some more water I felt a desperate desire to leave, leave, leave and get away from her disapproving gaze. I went over to the Meijer for food, and I wondered if the barista had been in a bad mood because of her face, which had that look of heavy make-up due to acne.

In the Meijer itself, all the cashiers were older and matronly, rather than the cute sixteen-year-olds that are the highlight of many a grocery store visit. The one that rang me up also happened to seem grumpy. Rainy day and grumpy women--what a way to start a morning.

On the bright side, I caught the tail end of some Aaron Copland on the radio. He's my favorite classical music composer.

Another unexplained itch point, below my left nipple, maybe an inch, and towards the center.

Finally, 29 days after last laundry, socks #1 expired. Rapid cycling really does work (to keep socks fresher).

Holy crow, I can't believe I'd never noticed it before, but the radio refers to the South Bend areFriday, May 25, 2007a as "Michiana"!

Took of my shirt to shave and saw that I definitely had a rash where the focus of the itching had been the night before. It was very oddly-shaped, in two parts--one was like a wishbone and the other just a line. Back in the car, I did notice that the location of the rash was exactly whee my seat belt came into contact with my skin the tighest, every time I leaned over to type. But why after all this time would I develop a rash?

9:30, still headache, still possible dehydration, as indicated by dry eyes and reduced urine output.

11:35, about 80 miles since last stop in Elkhart, normal amount of urine, but headache seemed to be shifting from dehydration-like to more of a cold/flu headache, plus feelish flush.

Around 12:30, hit the interstate, speed increases around Indy, but start crashing.

A multi-colored polka-dotted mixing truck???

On Smiley, coicidence, smiling too much, creepiest barista of the day, lipstick too red, desperately wanted her to stop talking to me.

After two failed sample attempts, at the next store, I got such a bad vibe from the supervisor that I didn't even bother--I just ordered a short. He/she even asked about my t-shirt and movie, but I just said it wasn't important. I

tired hugry short fuse want scream


May 24

6:55, less than 6 hours, horrible pressure in my head. Moved from the Wal-Mart over to the Starbucks to download podcasts while I slept some more, then remembered I needed to see the first 15 minutes of Lost I had missed, and then once I got into it I decided I had to watch most of the episode again before moving on.

Dammit, lost my spare key again!

said it looked like I had lost weight

On 12 Mile, passed a new bagel shop, Bagel Time, where I met my first Albanian person. (that I could remember). She claimed that Albania had not been part of the former Yugoslavia. I found myself unsure, and I was disappointed, because I used to have European geography down cold.

Oh, for Pete's sake! After waiting 20 minutes, during which I went over to the new Troy Starbucks and back, I returned to the Hyundai dealership to learn that the parts department had run out of key blanks. I had to go over to Telegraph & Twelve Mile, well out of my way, the detour made worse by suck-ass traffic. Grrr...

"WARNING--THIS VILLAGE PROTECTED BY WITCHCRAFT". That's probably not what the blue sign said, but that's what came to mind when it flashed by.

3:38, 20 miles from Birch Run, lack of sleep starts catching up with me.

I did not relish judging people based on looks, but after the incident with the Wicked Witch of Lynnwood, I had changed tack and decided to stealth shopping mall stores if they baristas looked mean. In Okemos, the one at the register looked really mean. The one on the floor by the safe, wearing the black apron, I wasn't sure about her, but I decided to take no chances and opt for stealth.

WTF??? On some youth-oriented show on 88.9 around Lansing, MI, the panel was discussing upcoming movies, including the recent TMNT and upcoming Transformers movie, the Power Rangers came up, and I though I heard one of them refer to the "chink" one who posed nude. I about went nuts and reached for my phone but quickly realized I had no number to call to complain. A few minutes later I heard "pink" and the name of the actress, Amy Jo Johnson or something like that, and I calmed down a bit. Maybe he didn't say "chink" after all.

Stupid, stupid, stupid!!! I got distracted and filled the tank, at $3.61, when I should have just put in 5 gallons, enough to get me to Indiana where the gas is cheaper.

Too late 4 food dilemma

After an hour of sleeping maybe, I woke up to mad itching, just below my neck and above my shoulders. Crazy itching, with itch points increasing by the second. I took out my big flashlight and looked at the area in the rearview mirror, and there appeared to be a rash--WTF??? I took a fake Benadryl and hoped that I would not die during the night, nor wake up a puffy red mess.

May 23

7:16, notice Tire & Lube, lady beats me, then get beaten for spaces at Sbux

Billboard on I-70 west in PA, mile 36, "BULLFIGHTING IS COMING SOON".

Chicago radio interview with a couple of call-ins. I'm sure the guy who called me a "load" thought he was being clever, but I've been called worse. And as usual, there was a caller who suggested I was wasting my time and that I should do something to help people instead. Oh, and the host said I am from Columbus--what was that about.

Through western PA, West VA, and Ohio, possibly the worst allergies (I assumed) of the eight weeks, even worse than when I hit Illinois, it seemed.

Geez, the listing for the Dundas & Elizabeth store puts the city as "West Toronto". My map shows no such place, and I have to wonder where they come up with this. The problem is that I'll eventually get an e-mail from somebody telling me that no such city exists.

Newellstown Diner

Columbus Dispatch interview.

Post on CL seeking to watch Lost finale, but no responses. Reach Toledo later than I had hoped, and after visiting the two new stores, I only had 20 minutes before the 9:00. My map did not show very many cheap motels, and the few people I had asked couldn't suggest any, so I had a stupid though, to go over to the Wal-Mart. I should have known better, that all their TVs would be tuned to Wal-Mart channels. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I went over to a place I had seen, the Rocket Inn, but it was just a bar!!! Grrr... It was past 9:00 already, but I figured if I missed the first 15 or so it would be okay, so I kept looking. I headed up Detroit, and at a light I asked a man who said to follow Detroit up to Telegraph, and their I found the Sunset Motel. $20 for two hours, a good price, but the Indian wife attendant did not speak English very well as I tried to make her understand I was there to watch a TV show and that I wanted her to show me the TV to make sure it got the channel. She called her husband, and he took me over to the room. I tried not to look frantic. Turned the TV on. Porn. What??? Switched channels, nothing, until I finally understood the owner was pointing to a switch on the floor, switch from the A to B cable or something like that. Found ABC, and I handed them my ID and then money. Given that a movie costs at least $10 and a shower about that much at a truck stop, I figure I got my money's worth for $20.

Dante's Pizza

May 22

6:40, alarm awoke me, and I was having such crazy dreams that I desperately wansted to fall back asleep. But the time penalty I would pay in time scared me into the drivers seat, and less than 60 seconds lateer I was looking for the first left turn to put me on Richmond (from Adelaide). Had to fight sleep inertia, eye drops at the first light helped, and I was quickly passing the building and looking for parking.

Incorrect highway shield, US instead of NY state, on 404 when veering from Empire onto Ridge.

Oh, I had forgotten about 90.5 in Rochester--still playing great music, an elclectic mix.

Grrr... the phone # listed for the Victor store was still wrong, and with very little time left before I reached the Victor exit, the barista at the nearby Eastview Mall store fumbled as she tried to give me directions, when all she had needed to say was that it is across from Eastview Mall.

Altoona frustration. Johnstown barista told DM I worked for Starbucks and was checking on phone line.

9:42, waaaay to late to have any hope, but miraculously the doors I chose were still open, and after rushing to the other side of the mall, I happened to catch a couple of baristas just before they were leaving, and only because one of them had forgotten to sign out. One of them was a real mensch, and he offered to French press some coffee for me. He had no idea how much of a favor he was doing me, saving me from having to wait 'til 9:00 the following morning. Given that I'd go to sleep at 10:00, I'd probably be up at 6:00 and have to kill three hours. So being able to leave for Indiana helped a lot. Those baristas rocked! They be my niggaz, skin color irrelevant. That's a lesson that escapes many people, that anybody can be yo nigga, even a white girl named Tiffany whose never traveled far from Altoona.

May 21

4:57, toss and turn for about 15 minutes, but couldn't sleep anymore. I drove around and watched the sky lighten. I scoped out Richmond & Adelaide, and learned, from the guard, to my disappointment, that the shops would be closed on Victoria Day. At the time, it appeared I would have to skip the store, not willing to kill time until Tuesday morning.

6:35, radio reporting backups on freeways despite the holiday.

Wow, either that homeless man across from Queen & Bay has some serious vocal talent, or seagulls just sound weird!!! Almost like cats?

Beautiful cloudless holiday morning, no traffic downtown. Photographer's heaven.

8:18, engrossed in photograpy, feeling famished..

11:12, apple, banana, and juice had kept me going, but after 32 two reshoots and only coffee from one new store, I was feeling beat, fo' shizzle. But real niggaz don't quit up, and I am nothing if not a reeeeaal nigga! Cuz there ain't nuthin' mo real than Staaaarbuckin'. Hard-core, thass what I'm talkin' 'bout.

While waiting at a light so I could park and photograph 1909 Yonge, I leaned forward and hit the horn accidentally. A pedestrian who had been crossing the street pointed at the red wagon in which he was carrying a young boy. I shouted out the window, "I wasn't honking at you." This did not satisfy the man, who replied something about how I was honking at the lady in front of me. He was out of earshot before I could reply, and I

Okay, Ontario has a class of workers called "bear technicians".

2:00, lack of sleep finally kicks in on the way to Oshawa, struggle to stay awake, plus mild dizziness. Almost fell asleep at traffic light.

"The Waltzing Weasel"--the best name for a pub ever!

Hell, yeah!!! I totally understood that interviewers question, in French, without needing the CBC translation. The response was harder, because the mother did not speak as clearly as the reporter.

Despite my hunger, I shot right up until sunset, and then I went off a-looking for foodings. Dropped by Plush first to see if the therapist I had had three months earlier was there and to find out when they closed. Olivia looked nice enough, but I had to get food first. The Colombian restaurant was closed. So was the Nicarguan. So were many Italian places. What is up with the lazy-ass Latin peoples??? Meanwhile, the hard-working Jamaicans, all their restaurants were open--who says pot makes you lazy? Unfortunately, the "Caribbean Queen" shafted me doubly--first, she gave me the larger $10 order instead of the smaller one, and I was too exhausted to protest. Second the food was just blah. Not enough beans in the beans and rice for one.

I was so exhausted, in fact, that despite my need for a shower and massage, I just couldn't head back to Plush. I just wasn't going to enjoy the possible (you neve know) erotic portion of the massage if I was falling asleep. I was also very near to House of Lancaster II, and I wanted to give those $10 dances another go, but, like the an old man I was becoming, I let exhaustion dissuade me. Like an old man, I thought that I might take a nap and see if I could wake up before the club closed at 2:00 AM. I actualy woke up at 2:06!

Meanwhile, Michael had e-mailed me about how good the Heroes season finale was (I presume that's what "Wow!" meant). My DH download was successful, but Heroes and 24 were coming down slow as molasses. Hardly any part of the files had downloaded by 4:00, and I was getting a much worse transfer rate than the night before. I figured I wasn't going to get the rest downloaded by 6:00 AM, so I went ahead and decided to move closer to downtown.

Somewhere off Queen St., I spotted something unusual, or maybe not such much for Canada. A fairly young, 21, attractive young woman was walking the street. Lisa's reason--drugs, she honestly admitted. I felt just slightly bad for her, because she was young and pretty and had options. She said he had considered dancing, but didn't know how to get into the business, and thought she needed bigger breasts. I told her she looked just fine for a club. I was once again reminded that the government could save countless women from having to walk the streets for drugs if it just provided drugs for free, just like it should provide food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities for free.

No luck finding good Wi-Fi near parking--bah. I really wanted to watch Heroes as soon as possible!

May 20

7:34, asleep threw comb

Oh, I am the happy happy hamster!
The happy happy hamster am I!
I spin on my wheel, and I do what I feel
From Christmas 'til the Fourth of July!

Grilling made me decide not to cross back to Detroit but rather head to Sarnia, London, and Toronto so I wouldn't have to cross into Canada again anytime soon.

Aye, yo, why so much traffic in London???

My post to LiveJournal worked, and at the other Wonderland store I was greeted by a really cool-named manager named Cricket. I was genuinely flattered that she had come out just to meet me. There was another barista, extremely cute, slender, dark-haired, 17 (the best age), who seemed to be genuinely into me, or at least fascinated by my project. But as I left, I made an effort to clear my head and convince myself that she was just being friendly as part of her job. No good can come of being overly optimistic about a woman's reaction to you.

As I was stopped at a light after reshooting Dundas & Richmond, a couple of guys who looked like street people seemed to be going at each other. I couldn't tell at first if they were just horsing around or not, but it became apparently quickly that they were for real. I wondered what exactly I could do, given that both the guys looked bigger than me, probably experienced in street violence, and pretty pissed. I wondeed if backing my car up slowly into one of them would make a difference, like perhaps getting them mad at me instead of each other. But that immediately seemed like a bad idea for many reasons, not the least of which was that I am not a citizen of Canada and cannot risk giving the country an excuse to deny me entry. Performing a strictly rational calculus, weighing the usefulness of my mission versus

Had I been in an American city, I probably would have seen a police car within 60 seconds, but not in Canada--cops are harder to find.

@#$%^! gravel road on the way to Waterloo, Oxford County Rd 5.

Had Waterloo call Orangeville, and I was greatly relieved when there was no answer. The time required to detour to Orangeville would have worked against me in my valiant struggle to reach 99%.

On the way to reshoot the Cambridge store I wanted to stop at the Mirage, a strip club where I had had an excellent and unique Canadian experience. Unfortunately, it was closed!!! In just three months, the building had been bought out and was undergoing remodeling. By coincidence, back in London I had tried to get a massage at a place also called Mirage, but nobody was availble for almost an hour, and the $30 special was only good Mon-Sat anyway. Kinda funny, that neither Mirage worked out, lik ea real mirage.

Check, 5/11, look for Hassan's web site.

Holy chilli cheese fries, it's cold in Toronto, towards the end of May even!

With the sky still light and not quite sleepy, despite my sleep deprivation, I had time to drive slowly down Bloor and look at the all the restaurants--it seemed like every kind of cuisine was represented! I spotted the first Nicaraguan restaurant I could remember every having seen, La Bella Managua.

House of Lancaster II, much better experience than 4-5 years earlier.

May 19

Rush to Scrabble.

Rush back to Canton to replace photo.

Craziness in Taylor. First, the parking lot was all bolloxed up with police activity. Then sirens kept going off, and finally several fire trucks passed by. Then the police activity was joined by a town truck removing one or more vehicles and making parking a mess. Finally, a barista at the store who was apparently a gun nut (appropriate for Michigan, eh) and urged me to be safe during my travels in the state by having a gun. Later, when I told him my next destination was Woodward & Mack, he said there were several pawn shops in the area that sold guns... oooookay.

But that was nothing compared to Detroit. Some event, apparently, combined with closed lanes, and I lost a ton of sunlight!!!

Worst border crossing grilling ever. My car was searched on the Canadian side for the first time in six crossings, and an agent who seemed to have a chip on his


May 18

6:45, finally getting up earlier, except 5:45 with the time change

6:58 no liquor purchase lady

BASTARD!!! The only Smallville torrent available when I did a search around 1:00 AM had finished downloading by around 3:30 or 4:00 AM, so I relaxed and slept in peace. But in the morning when I tried to play the video using DivX, a message was displaying stating the file would only play on some player I had to download. Not feeling like a chump that morning, I first googled the URL, and my suspicions were confirmed--the app is really a trojan horse!!! Somebody needs a baseball bat up his ass, god damn it! Now it was to take even longer to download a real file, and since I was rushing to my Scrabble tournament in Farmington, I wasn't going to have time to kill on Friday, further reducing my chances of getting the file.

Heh, a shop called "Square Donuts" on Wabash.

Okay, that was unexpected. A radio station, "The Monkey", played a clip of something upbeat and advertised an electronica show for the weekend... and then "Fur Elise" started playing.

Oops! That sign didn't say "STARBUCKS"--it said "STEAKBURGERS".

Liquidy, for only the second or third time in the eight weeks I'd been traveling. Perhaps it was the 16 samples the previous day, or the oxtail lunch, or both.

Race day in Indy?

On the way to the new store on Washington a siren started blaring all of a sudden, getting louder and louder. I looked around for the souce, and to see if anybody else was reacting, but nobody else seemed to care. At the next light I asked a man driving a Fire Marshall truck, and he said it was a monthly (or maybe weekly) test, since he was a kid.

12:15, only eaten yogurt, donut, banana, getting lightheaded, holding out for food that is both appealing and in proximity to a Starbucks or other Wi-Fi so I can continue downloading Smallville. Why do I have to put myself thru this--because of that motherfucking trojan-horse uploading bastard!!! Behind the Hazel Dell Parkway store, and not a moment too soon, I spotted Angie's Cafe, a cute little plcae that also contained a gift shop and served homemade potato chips. When I ordered I was beyond lightheaded--I was feeling flush and a bit faint.

seat belt enforcement

As early as 1:30 I started to feel the effects of having gotten up earlier, sleepiness. Hadn't felt afternoon fatigue in a while. 3:50, still 30 miles from Muncie on a slow state road, on the verge of passing out. Drive agonizingly slooooow through towns.

Ooh, another La Bamba, in Muncie! I'll pass.

The "Huggy Bear" motel--cute. I might like to stay there just based on its name. Except for one thing--the sign advertising "American Owned". No xenophonic motel operator will get my business!!

In Marion, "Wigger St."--I'm surprised it hasn't been renamed.

Wow--I didn't know a car could actually develop holes in the body from rust, but that pickup that drove in front of the Mario store proved it. -

I am poison monkey sheath.
I rise above what lies beneath.

FUCK!!! FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK!!! Country Club Hills was open last weekend when I was in Chicagoland, but THEY DIDN'T ANSWER THE @#$%^& phone, so I didn't know they were open, and I MISSED IT!!! AARRGHH!!! I NEEDED EVER POSSIBLE STORE FOR 99%!!!

In Fort Wayne, Minnie's Diner, charmingly decorated, but talk about geezerville.

Whoa!!! The wheels stopped turning, but the rims are still spinning. That is soooo cool!!!

Oh, yes, yes, yes!!! Finally listened to Here and Now from a few days ago, an interview with Patti Griffin, and she explained the meaning of her song, "Burgundy Shoes"!!!

May 17

6:45, better but still not early enough, still congested but thinking it's just allergies.

Papa-a-tu-tu-tu-papa papa-a-tu-tu-tu.

The terrorist retirement community? That can't possibly be who the radio station said is sponsoring that show.

Well, fooberoni! I was able to see Lost on the LCD screen well enough while driving north despite the morning sun, but when I reached I-70 and turned east right into the sun, Charlie reached the Looking Glass Station, and the image on the screen darkened. I couldn't make out much detail, so I pulled off the highway and parked in the shade of a DQ. About 15 seconds later, the episode ended. I could have just stopped under the shade of an overpass and saved a few minutes. And lets not even talk about how the episode ended at such a critical moment, but then I supposed that's the right way to buult good excitement for the seaon finale, which should rock!!!

Hmm... a billboard advertising "MUGREEKLIFE.COM". But is that Mu Greek life? Or Mug Reek life?

I like cheese! But not cheese to eat. I like the kind of cheese that you rub on your feet.
The kind of cheese that makes the mad monkeys mellow. No matter the color, whether green, blue, or yellow.

On the way to the Jennings store, on West Florissant, I passed Sweet Pie's, where I once again axed myself the eternal question, why are the oxtails always more expensive???

Louie in Brentwood.

At the next store I got a reminder of just how long I've been at this, when the barista, now a senior in college, told me she had seen my web site... back in high school!

Ahhhh, only one new store in Terre Haute, not two, for the reason that the store locator once again got the zip code wrong. That second store is actually up in Fort Wayne. Good thing I hadn't already passed Fort Wayne, or I would have missed it and been pissed!

Slept fine along a dark street until 1:00 AM and then went over to the far end of the Kroger parking lot and was able to pick up the Wi-Fi from the Starbucks. When I tried to go back to sleep, I felt extremely thirsty, and an intense headache suddenly developed.

May 16

7:10, later than I hoped, but at least I was feeling better. No Nyquill or decongestant the previus night, yet my congestion was minimal.

Sunrise Bakery, slim pickins, cinammon roll.

Before I left Manhattan I stopped for gas and to heat up my leftovers. Inside the convenience store I noticed adult magazines with names like 40+, 50+, 40-50, MILF, etc. The women on the covers very much looked their age, and I had to wonder who exactly buys these magazines. Now, I doubt that there is anybody, male or female, who doesn't understand why men would want to look at 20-something hard-bodied Playboy model types. But women that look like one's mother? Not that they can't be attractive, but what men really prefer these to the younger sort? Not a judgement, just a question.

Reshot Lawrence and popped in just for to make the kiwi, and I noticed something unique--scratch graffiti on the mural. I asked a barista who said that they had considered replacing it when it first occurred, but then they decided to keep it, and it progressed to the extent that the whole mural was covered, all the way to the ceiling. Another interesting tidbit of info is that the barista guessed that I was the Starbucks guy and mentioned that a friend had given him the film, which means that people are liking it at least enough to recommend to others.

Hmmm... got over to the Missouri side, and as I left the Main Street store after exiting the bathroonm,

Well, just bc a restaurant is called Mama's doesn't necessarily mean the food will be good. And despite the awards framed on the wall, the chili from Mama's on 39th was suck-ass.


Country Club Plaza confusion.

Liberty, once again vibe

Whew!!! Close, close call. I was maybe 10 miles from Liberty when I tipped over the tall cup into which I had poured the sample, and some spilled out through the hole in the lib. Fortunately, when I poured the contents back into the sample cup, there was enough that, combined with the residue from the original short cup, what I licked off the lid, and what I scooped off the seat with my figures, I had enough to make the visit count.

DENIED!!! Though many baristas and managers had obliged my request for sample but refused to fill it, the new store in Independence became the first in maybe 18 months and over 1000, maybe 2000, stores where the supervisor refused to oblige my request. I did not ask twice. Then she actually suggested that I needed to contact the district manager. She clearly had not even the slightest conception of the magnitude of the scope of what I was trying to accomplish. I did not begrudge her refusal--her demeanor was polite, businesslike, though the other barista, the one who had initially passed the buck to the shfit supervisor... I didn't like the way he kept looking at me.


Sedalia, is this part of Missouri the Midwest? Rural? Bible Belt?

2:00 AM, Wi-Fi hunt. 4:57, download ended, allowingg me to move to a less conspicuous location. Just down from the Starbucks was a Wal-Mart, and it had gas pumps! Grrr.. I had wasted 30 cents at the station down the street!

Dreams of outright hostility, e-mail, get a life.

May 15

Around 7:10, possibly feeling better. Started raining overnight, blah for my Moline reshoot and Davenport photo, but hopefully by the time I reached Dubuque the sky would be clear.

Wayback Machine!!!

La Fuente, less than mediocre burrito.

Dinner with Bill and Erin, reset odor meter, indie coffee shop.

May 14

6:56--so much for getting on my way before 6:00 AM to beat the traffic. At least I was out of the immediate Chicagoland area, though--the radio was reporting heavy traffic

Before I headed south, I went into the Wal-Mart for a box of Nyquill tablets, the cheaper fake kind this time. As I walked towards the registers, a blonde rounded one of the aisles and looked like she was also heading towards a register, so I quickened my pace. Suddenly, a sharp pain in my left knee. Very brief, but still irritating, that my body was aging so, in violation of the "arrangement" I had made. At the register I noticed a brown-to-red-skinned pock-faced man. I wasn't sure if he was Native American, Indian, or Latino, but I thought I saw hints of Richard Alpert in his face, and maybe a little Troy McClure too.

7:09, from the Wal-Mart I drove south back to the St. John store, technically away from the Chicagoland metro area, and traffic was pretty heavy anyway. But not as heavy as on US-41 northbound--thank heavens for small favors, that I was heading outbbound, at least until I reached Crown Point.

Holy cow!!! I had left my batteries at the St. John's store. Fortunately they had saved them for me.

Twelve Islands, okay biscuit, good bacon.

Still congested, getting worse?

2:51, intense drowsiness, why???

Drove through Bloomington looking for food, La Bamba, bighead

There's a Transylvania, Louisiana???

As I left the University & Main store a dark-skinned man, maybe late 20s, approached my car, and when I stopped, leaned in close and said in a low voice, "Can I get a jump start please." I quickly told him I was in hurry, which was true, because the sun was setting and I hoped to get to Peru while there was still light, but I also got a bad vibe from the guy. I had given many jumpstarts bebfore, and each time, the driver had been standing next to or near his car, hazard lights on, and not one of them had leaned in and whispered--they had just shouted from whereever they were standing. I didn't see this guy's car anywhere.

Wow, the lengths the Cabal will go to to throw me off my game!!! It took me many months, but I finally discovered that the outstanding store in Vermont is not a new store, but rather a renaming, and a weird renaming--they simply added a period to the name. What's the point of that, if not to throw me off? Had I not been running behind back in Fberuary on the way to Montreal, I would have detoured 100 miles, burning time and gas, to visit that store that I had already visited. That Cabal is sneaky!!!

Finally, Peru!!!

Good thing for my map and database, because if I had to rely on my memory, I would have headed straight to Dubuque from Peru and missed out on the new Davenport store. Stopped in Moline, where the older Starbucks was conveniently located in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart Supercenter, so it was easy to pick up the signal and download Heroes and 24.

May 13

At 5:40 I could see a hint of the sun starting to rise over the low clouds, but I was still congested and feeling considerable pressure in my head and decided that sleep was more important. Didn't get up until 7:18, a little disappointed for the light I had lost, but I tried to make up for by hurrying. Then I noticed that the sky was, if not overcast, a lot more cloudy than Saturday, and I grumbled.

Annoyingly foiled in Naperville. I was on my way out the door when a customer who had overheard my spiel to the manager took an interest and had questions about my project and film. She was about to buy a DVD, was trying to see if she had $20, when the manager came over and (politely) said "I can't have you selling [things] in the store." I replied that I had specifically not solicited the sale, that the customer had called me over as I was leaving. The manager responded that I didn't have to leave, but I couldn't sell anything in the store. And you know, when I had explained my project to the manager and given her the flyer, I had sensed something in her smile that hinted of disapproval. See, I'm not totally inept at reading people like the usual autistic geek. What bugged me most is that the store had plenty of customers at the registers waiting on drinks, and the manager went out of her way to stifle my sale. Also, that Starbucks allows people to conduct all sorts of business--job interviews, using the store as an office. I've not doubt that a land deal or two has been negotiated in Starbucks. So why should they care if somebody wants to buy my movie inside the store as long as I'm not explicitly soliciting it to customers (which would be disturbing them--I can understand that).

11:00 AM, sky still hazy. Some sunlight pushing through as the sun rose higher in the sky. Comic book break at Borders to give the sun more time.

Starbucks threw me one of the biggest curveballs yet in the form of a slew of new listings for Starbucks in Macy's. There is one at the Macy's in Bolingbrook, and also one outside the Macy's. At both locations I was told that the Macy's one is licensed. Ordinarily that would have been enough for me, but the twist was that there had been several Starbucks in Macy's in NYC and New Jersey for many years, and those locations are definitely company-owned. Or, at least, they were. I would have to confirm that had not been sold off to Macy's. Oy!!!

Cute name--"my secret hair salon", in Lemont, IL.

1:00, sun finally broke through clouds.

Along Route 171 in Joliet, right by what appeared to be a prison, old style, with stone walls and castle-like towers. As I continued on towards the new store, I drove right through the heart of Joliet, and it was a sharp constrast to the suburbs I had been seeing the past few days. Distinctively older-looking and more worn down, and certainly a world more interesting than the burbs.

2:51, feeling sluggish.

3:18, extremely sleepy, not sure why.

subfriendly suckerpunch

strange call ahead

With the sun fast setting, my stomach was a-grumbling, and I was lured into Jalapeno's by the sign advertising 1/2-priced burritos on Sundays. Well, it took the bartender forever to take my order, then forever for my order to be prepared, by which time the sun had completely disappeared. On top of that, I didn't even get through the burrito before I started to feel ill--a headache started out of the blue. I truly feared food poisoning, and after I left the Starbucks I headed up to the Wal-Mart (not a Supercenter) hoping it would be 24 hrs in case I had an emergency "need" that a cup couldn't fulfill.

Besides making me feel ill, I think the burrito was an alien creature with mind-control powers. When I entered the store and proceeded to the bathroom, I passed the supervisor, and I had an unusual and sudden urge to embrace her. She was reasonably attractive, if a little heavy, but this was not the usual Rob Schneider "The Animal" hump urge that often comes over me, but rather a need for a long nurturing embrace. Clearly, it had to be the alien burrito controlling my mind. A few minutes later, as I gave my spiel and chatted about my project, I had to force myself to leave the store as soon as possible before the burrito's mind waves took over me.

May 12

7:19, and I really wanted to sleep more to help recovery from whatever cold/flu I had developed, but the good light was fast disappearing. The fake Benadryl plus the real Nyquill were still in my system--my nose and throat felt very dry. I'd just have to push thru the pressure in my head and take as many photos as I could before taking a break.

By 8:20 the sun already seemed high enough in the sky to start washing out some colors, depending on how it hit the building, and I regretted the hour of light between 6:30 and 7:30 that I had missed because of stupid unexpected congestion.

Experienced the geographical disorientation again. The Starbucks at Lake & Harlem is in the same parking lot as a Whole Foods, and when I entered its bathroom I noticed it looked different than many I had seen. The one that I visualized was in Philadelphia, and when I tried to mentally compare cities, Philly to X, it took me several seconds to remember that I was in Chicago (Oak Park, technically).

Oooookay. Standing at a traffic light stirring my yogurt when, out of blue, the (rather large) dog in the pickup next to me starts barking. I'm, like, "what the hell!" I started to wonder if the dog could actually manage to jumpt through the partially open window when the driver quickly pulled the dog back and closed the window a little more, like he wasn't entirely sure whehter the dog would jump or not.

Of all the things that cost me time during the trip, this one was one of the strangest. Somehow I managed to no notice the warning dialog and deleted the Date column from my financial database. I needed those dates for my personal records as well as my project statistics, so losing them was a pain. But recoverable. I had a backup from 5 days earlier, and I had the data since then, without dates. Thankfully the records were grouped together by date anyway, and I was able to reconstruct what I had lost without losing too much time.

In Des Plaines I received an enthusiastic reception in the form of a barista who positively shrieked, "It's you!!!" Then she and several rushed to the back to retrieve their cameras, and I ended up feeling like a movie star at the Oscars.

For the second time, out to De Kalb and back--hoped I didn't have to make that round trip every year. A barista recommended Eduardo's for a burrito, but the restaurant was more frou-frou than authentic, and too pricy--I ain't paying no ten bucks for a freakin' burrito, man! So despite having eaten very little, I managed to get by for the rest of the day on just a PowerBar--strange--and called it a night early in Naperville.

Around 1:00 I saw bright lights, like those of a car parked a few hundred feet behind mine. Not unusual when the bars near closing, but these lights persisted. I avoided moving too much, and I slowly peeked my head up and saw light bars on the vehicle. I debated whether he was interested in me--typically, they did not park that far away, so it could have simply been that he had pulled over driver who had already driven off. After a while, I saw the lights moving off, and I was able to hop into my front seat. I checked on my download, and it appeared to be stuck at 84%, so I figured I might as well find someplace else, and I ended up in the Jewel-Osco lot. While there, I got a mad craving for food, which made complete sense since I had skipped dinner and only eaten yogurt, apple, banana, pizza slice, and PowerBar all day.

May 11

6:29, the sun visible through some trees and some haze and/or light clouds, and I felt some pressure in my head. Congestion, but also the beginnings of withdrawl. Definitely could have slept more, too, but it was way past time to get my body used to getting up earlier to take advantage of that morning sun.

Oh, those wacky Canadian... GEESE!!! Holding up Chicagoland traffic, as bad as it already is. I couldn't help but laugh as I saw the line of cars stopped for the geese in my rearview mirror.

Only visited a few stores in the morning before heading down to the city to meet my cousin Raul and go for Colombian food. Afterwards I had a chance to shower and felt greatly refreshed. The temperature in Chicago was actually cooler than it had been in Wisconsin, but the warmer temperatures I had seen in Wisconsin and Minnesota had ripened me at a faster rate.

Dang, I passed right in front of the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. I really wanted to go, but I was too far behind to spend hours in a museum. Once again, it would have to wait.

Holy mochazolli!!! With quite a strong wind, the weather took what seemed like quite a turn for the chilly for mid-May. Not that I minded--I'd stay fresher longer.

Decided to stealth North Riverside Park Mall after the barista who I asked about the closest entrance in turn asked who I was. A very unusual reponse, typically indicative of a barista who has a tendency towards suspicion. When I entered the mall, I had an idea of why, as it was clearly a ghetto mall, packed with patrons who appeared to be of the economically underprivileged variety, many wearing what might have been gang attire, and packed also with very serious-looking security guards. One of these guards was standing on the upper level looking out over the balcony, and right over the Starbucks. Truouble, I thought.

I waited in line, and when I got to the front, I perceived what seemed an unwelcome reception from a female barista cleaning some equipment. Rather than walking up to the register and asking what she could get for me, she just stood there and said something like "Do you want something?" What, did I stand in line for my health??? To my relief, the male barista came up to the register, and I asked him for a short coffee.

When I looked around for the condiment bar, I saw that the security guard had taken the escalator down and was now standing directly in front of the Starbucks--what the hell??? I debated what to do, but by the time I finished concocting my "distributed redeye" he had returned to the top level, and I was able to get a decent shot.

3:30 AM, realized it wasn't allergies that had been plaguing me all day--I was getting sick!!!

May 10

A short bit before 3:00 AM I woke up and found a couple of Lost torrents. The connection was too slow, though, so I went back downtown in front of Theo's and gave that a try. Still no good, and after some slow driving up and down, I finally decided to take a chance on the Starbucks parking lot, where the signal was strong. It was just past three when I arrived, and my car was in full view of Johnson and any passing cops. I relaxed a bit when I saw a cop drive past the store along the side street and then turn onto Johnson without as much as slowing down. With at most two hours before baristas started arriving anyway, I figured I was safe.

I did continue to hear noises, however, probably due in some measure to the relatively higher amount of caffeine I had ingested that day (8 stores). The strangest experience of the night was when what I presume was the delivery truck, a large one, pulled up next to my car, so that when I awoke and peered out the window, all I saw was this large wall of white with red lettering. In might half-asleep and caffeinated state, the sight was eerie.

I once knew a monkey who lived by the sea
I loved that monkey--I thought he loved me
I fed him chicken and I fed him wine
But I never could make monkey think he was mine.

In downtown Grafton, a bar cleverly named The Office.

Cedarburg, charming little town. At the Starbucks, and attractive, if just slightly chubby, blonde overheard my spiel and had plenty of questions. Sybil had an interesting story herself--she had broken a foot after falling while attempting to win a contest... "Drunk of the Week". She did win, BTW. Now, I'm all about competition, but come on! Drunk of the week??? Though congenial and eminently fuckable, this was a person to avoid (unless she learned her lesson).

Across from the pretty Starbucks was a stand named Out & Out, serving custard and sandwiches. As I photographed the Starbucks I realized that I had never in my life eaten custard and decided to give it a try. Like ice cream, but with egg.

Something else unusual, buildings in that area are denoted by coordinates, not addresses. The Starbucks, for example, is W61 N306, a number not understood by Microsoft Streets & Trips, or by me, at least until a real estate agent put down her custard and explained it to me. Later, in Sussex, which has the same coordinate scheme, explained that the coordinates are measured from the Milwaukee post office.

Mixed reaction in Sussex. Negative was the barista who glared at me as I pulled up in front of the store after having snapped a few frames while the parking lot was empty. She was on break, and when she came back in she gave me that suspicious accusatory look that I hate. Thankfully, she was neither the manager nor the supervisor, and so I was able to ignore her during the rest of my stay in the store. The other baristas, in sharp constrast, gave me a rather warm welcome, having me sign an apron, post for a photo with them, and even bought a DVD. Furthermore, a customer had a friend or relative who was a big Starbucks fan and also bought a DVD and had me sign a red piece of paper, a first (red paper).


Whew!!! It had been a while since I had reached the explosive stage, but I had been getting close even before the Potbelly, and by the time I reached the Shorewood store the bathroom was a top-order priority.

Shameful Store of the Day

As nasty as the Sussex barista's glance had been, a barista at I-94 & Holt was downright rude and hostile, shouting at me across the parking lot and then bouncing over with her bubbly blonde blindly-follow-directions airhead to violate my right to freedom of expression. I just ordered my coffee and left, deeming that she did not deserve an explanation given the way she had treated me. To be sure, part of the blame lies with the Starbucks manager, DM, or other higher-up for issuing an unclear or invalid instruction (I've never seen how it is written), but I assign plenty of blame to the airhead herself for following the directions. Remember, neither the Holocaust nor the atrocities at Guantanamo Bay would have occurred were it not for persons blindly following directions. Yes, yes, it's an extreme comparison, but we must never forget that great abuses often start out as small abuses.

While I was blogging, the sun came out, and I pulled out of the parking lot and onto a side street to try for a shot with better light. I could see a barista, not necessarily the original one, staring across four lanes of street at me. I, on the other hand, was being helpful, using my map to guide a lost resident to Southridge Mall. See the difference? Helpful... hostile. Helpful... hostile.

On the way to Franklin I realized I had left my Sharpie in Sussex. With no practical way to retrieve it, I realized that it had actually been to my benefit that they were only sold in packs of multiples.

Then, for no particular reason, I started to rub my fingers up and down my back, and I realized that I was really grimy. I had expected it, that the warmer weather would

Geez, but people don't think sometimes. Drivers routinely pull into a parking space in front of a Starbucks I'm trying to photograph, but in contrast they stop when their path takes them across the line that I'm shooting. The latter is nonsensical, because it only takes them a second to cross, while it can take me minutes to get the photo I want. And just the opposite, it only takes them a few extra seconds to enter the Starbucks if they park in a row not in front of the store, while it can cost me a long wait, or the photo entirely, if they park in front.

Blazing down towards several stores in the far suburbs north by northwest of Chicago was trickier because I was on the phone will Dell, trying to figure out why my order was showing as having shipped, when they were supposed to have called me so I could provide an address!!! Was on hold for a long time and then the call dropped. So I called again, and by the time the agent picked up I was near the Grays Lake store, and I had to juggle his call and my intro and taking the photo so I could rush over to Hainesville and try to get a hint of light. By the time I reached Libertyville, the sun was down, and it was also time for that call from the Overnightscape, which last a looong time.

Got lucky and found a good signal and parking space next to Libertyville store, where I was able to wait for my dowload and also for a better photo in the morning. A little tricker than usual because there was plenty of foot traffic along Milwaukee at the very early hour of 10:00 PM. Finally I pulled my car over to a side street, where there was less traffic, to wait for Smallville to be upload. Around 2:00 AM, when another car left (bars closing), I moved my car back close to the store and was able to finish the download.

May 9

7:40. Not much in the way of breakfast choices in Chippewa Falls, it seemed. After getting to the end of what seemed like a main street for restaurants, Bridge St., I asked a lady , Lili Belle, Gofdy's Country Market, Lindsay's, slow but pretty good pancakes

Disaster occurred, as I discovered my laptop's audio jack was not working correctly, hardly at all in fact. I couldn't drive around the country without music, news shows, and TV shows, nor could I ship the computer off for repair because I couldn't continue my trip without it. So I had not choice, I had to order a new one, and this was going to put additional pressure on my overseas travel budget. And, unless I figured where I could have Dell ship the machine along my route, I'd have to drive back to Houston and lose days.

More HSBC madness--an agent finally called, but only to tell me that my passport wasn't good enough for ID, they weren't counting my car loan bill, and they weren't counting my insurance card unless I refaxed so they could see the hole thing. Assholes!!! I was seething! I hated them all. I very much wanted to find the supervisor who had not returned my call, Pamela something, throw her up against a wall, and viciously sodomize her until she admitted that HSBC doesn't give a damn about the customer.

Sky turned overcast, and I was not particularly motivated to reshoot the downtown store, but I was in the mood to find a cool new place to eat. The Queen Bee on College was rather eye-catching. The sign got me craving home cooking instantly, but alas, the place had shut down at 2:00 PM. But two doors down I found the 1910 Sausage Co., by far the fanciest and most stylish hot dog restaurant I have ever seen. And it was more than pretty--the weiner was pretty good too.

May 8

8:01, and Heroes still hadn't finished downloading even after fours hours. The reason was that I had picked a signal that had a yellow bar but was still too slow. I should have gone ahead and driven to Snelling & Snelby in St. Paul, a store right on the street with several parking spaces nearby. Well, I'd have to finish downloading it later--I needed to get moving. Good think I did, toom, becauase on Selby I spotted the Neighborhood Cafe and entered just in time for the early bird special. As with $10 lap dances and 50-cent sodas, I'm a sucker for breakfast specials. And this one was pretty usual because it included a choice of drink, even orange juice. Most breakfasts I've encountered only offer coffee, not juice. Wasn't great juice, but juice nonetheless.

My route from Oak Park Heights to Hudson took me through Bayport, where I spotted Not Just a Cafe. I wasn't even close to hungry, but just like $10 lap dances, 50-cent sodas, and breakfast specials, I can't pass up cafes with cool names. The menu wasn't much to my liking though, so I just took away some chili. While waiting I noticed an unusual device, a clock combined with a Rolodex-type mechanism that flipped through small rectangular advertisements. I specifically asked the manager permission to take a photo of the device. Outside, I took a photo of the old building, as usual, and just as I was about to leave the other waitress rushed hurriedly across the street asking why I was taking a photo. With no particularly hurry, I took the time to explain to her that people in general do not like being suspected, and that she should assume the best of people, not the worst. I could tell I wasn't getting thru to her, and she kept explaining that they had been robbed the previous week. When I retorted that I did not think going inside to order, then taking a photo in broad daylight, was the way a thief would operate, she just replied that "it's just odd." Again, I tried to explain that she should not fear what is unusual, but I just wasn't getting through to her. Another example of a person who I hope does not raise children, because she will likely pass on to them the same tendency towards irrational fear. I award her the title of "Harmful Human Flaw of the Week." Needless to say, I'm never returning to Not Just a Cafe.

Nuts. Forgot about The Riches. Hard to keep up with this stuff when constantly moving from place to place.

In Red Wing I was torn between waiting for the car and SUV to move, which I could tell could be a while since the drivers were inside having some sort of business meeting. On the one hand it was entirely possible that I would never again return to Red Wing to take a better photo. On the other hand, I had already burned a lot of time in Minnesota and had not yet started catching up on the pace I wanted to be keeping.

Saw the first Cambodian restaurant I'd ever noticed, along US-63 in Rochester. Not bold enough to give it a try.

Coop's Deli, chili only during the winter. No special exception for persons named Winter.

Holy shit! A clip of an old song on Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me! made me realize that the name of the horse in the Beastie Boy's "Paul Revere" is probably a reference to the earlier song.

After Eau Claire I detoured about 20 miles north to a bustling metropolis named Bloomer, to meet the newly-monogamous Kelly. Met at the gas station and then went into town in search of food. No restaurants open, only bars, and the second we found had food--kinda. They had already put it away and had to rewarm it, chicken and a baked potato. Crappy, but it was food, and Kelly picked up the tab. We walked and then drove around and spotted at least six more bars. According to Kelly, it made complete sense, because Wisconsin residents drink a lot.

Kelly confirmed that the pairings of a slightly larger duck with brighter, green/blue coloring along with a smaller brown duck were actually a male and female pair, not an older/younger pair like I had been assuming for years. Which means that my "Fred and Paco" jokes don't make sense.

May 7

7:48, but I couldn't start driving right away because I had forgotten to plot out the stores I need to reshoot. Had to spend 15 minutes doing that first so I'd know which direction to head in. Not that I was thrilled about reshooting any stores, since the sky was overcast. But I had not spent much time at all reshooting stores in MN, and many of my photos were blah.

The strong winds that had been blowing in South Dakota and throughout the route I had driven in Minnesota persisted into Monday, creating difficulty for this small bird who took refuge on the windshield of my car.

Oh shit!!! Optimum Population Trust!!! Finally!!! I had been complaining to myself for years about how in all the news reports on environmentalist I had heard, no researcher or activist had ever mentioned population control. Hearing about this, on top of Richard Dawkins' and Sam Harris' books on atheism gave me hope that I was not going to be completely alone out there in my ideas for a better world.

Aw, shucks! Reporter interested in local story had to cancel because of a fire burning in Northeastern MN.

Did some catching up on my site and Desperate Housewives at Hennepin & 22nd, and had a rare comic book geek discussion with a barista who had finished his shift. It felt kinda good to reconnect with my inner geek, that usually took a backseat to my other interests.

Meanwhile, my level of sexual chargedness had reached stratospheric levels, to the extent that the view of a tall blonde with her back to me, exposing her lower back and occasional hints at her ass when she bent over, sent me into wild paroxyms of arousal, and strong urges to rush over and pull down her sweatpants, consequences be damned. Once again, I was very greatful for my strong impulse control.

Well, I was expecting it--Karen found herself a boyfriend locally in Hong Kong. It was bound to happen.

ATC report on the success of got me wondering if there was any conceivable way that my site could reach that level of popularity.

The new Brooklyn Center was conveniently located next to a megaplex, but for the fourth time that day I ran afoul of a poorly-designed Minnesota shopping center entrance. They had been driving me crazy all day, not being able to figure out how to get into the parking lot the natural way. Didn't matter anyway--I had arrived an hour too late, and once again I missed a chance a Disturbia or Fracture, two movies I wanted to see.

So I headed back downtown for food, and something kinda funny happened. I was looking for weiner--The Weinery, actually, and a good hot dog and great fresh-cut fries, but as early at 9:00 PM it had already closed. So I continued up Cedar then Washington looking for food, and I found just the opposite of weiner, at a strip club called Sinners. I would have passed, actually, except that Monday night happened to offer 2-for-1 dances, and I couldn't pass that up. And I'm pretty glad I didn't, because I finally found that something special I'd been looking for, in the form of a Thai (rare) dancer who was more adventurous than I would have ever dreamed of.

May 6

8:19, probably not enough to catch up on sleep, but late enough in the day that I had trouble sleeping any more. By the time I finished at the store, chatting with a ver interested manager and a customer, it was almost 9:00, the time when Tasha had said she finished her shift. What the heck, I said, and went back to the Kum & Go and filled up. Tasha had not left yet, so I decided to kill time by reorganizing the back of my car, something I had needed to do anyway after the inspection at the border the previous day. The agents had looked under all my cushioning material and rendered my makeshift bed uncomfortable. Well, I can't imagine what Tasha and the other cashier thought as I took everything in the car out, but something about my having returned just at 9:00 must have made them suspicious. The previous night, Tasha had been very friendly when we chatted, and even in the morning when I went in to pay for the gas. But when she finally left the store, she went straight to her car without saying anything, and I could see the other cashier glancing at me through the window, presumably to see if I was going to follow after her. I had not yet finished arranging my car, and even when I did I killed more time by brushing my teeth. I wanted to give Tasha plenty of time to get home and be witnessed by her family/friends. In the unlikely event that there happened to be a murderer in town and he got to her, I did not want to be the last person witnessed around her. There were way too many wrongfully convicted people sitting in prison for my comfort.

DeToy's in a town called Canby, where the old movie theater is for sale.

Excitement in Marshall as, by coincidence, a barista had just seen the Starbucking trailer on YouTube and recognized my t-shirt when I walked in. I was photographed half a dozen times, I sold two DVDs, and even received an unusual gift, a photo of the store signed by all the partners present. And perhaps more unusual, one of the baristas claimed she was in cotrespondence with Jay Leno and submitted jokes to him all the time--dubious, but I guess it's possible. She said she would pitch my story, but I wasn't going to hold my breath. Leno just didn't seem interested in my story,which I found more interesting than many of the guests I'd seen on the show.

Eggs and toast from DeToy's hadn't carried me very far, nothing appealing in Marshall or Fairmount, so by the time I reached Mankato I was might hungry, and Erbert & Gerbert's sign caught my eye, solely based on their catchy name. Cold sub, like Jimmy John's, which I don't like, but still decent, and the chicken chili (perhaps my first time trying some) was ok.

A first in Shakopee, the first time a manager had been photographed with me at two different stores.

Massage prices in Minneapolis seemed to be higher than I remembered, and it looked like I was going to have to wait until Chicago, but somehow I amazed myself by talking the one of two therapists who called me back into dropping the price from $45 to $30. Heck, when I told her I was on a budget and trying to stick to $30, I was expecting her to propose something like $35 or $37, to split the difference. I wasn't expecting her to say $30 was fine, but I certainly didn't argue. And on top of the discount, I got a heck of a massage. Almost like finding that very special Starbucks.

Could have made it out to Plymouth with light, but with the sky still overcast, I had little motivation and just saw Spider-Man 3 again. It was good that I had already seen it once, because I was less bothered by the loud child than I would have otherwise been. At one point, somebody else loudly told the parent to take the child out, but he did not. Since I didn't particularly like the scene in which Peter Parker dances poorly, I took the opportunity to go inform a manager, who sent a guard into the auditorium. But despite my directions, the guard stood on the wrong side of the room, and the kid's random ejaculations continued. Another example of a parent who should never have been allowed to procrapate.

Suitable parking near downtown took me a few minutes to find, but I finally found a good spot along Loring Park. Parks are pretty good.

May 5

6:59, extremely sleepy, but I had to leave immediately and drive pretty fast if I was going to have any chance at getting into the tournament. A little tricky at first, because I had to fight more sleep inertia than I was used to, since I usually waited a few minutes to wake up before starting to drive.

Heh, passed a town named Starbuck on Highway 2 near Winnipeg.

After a quick grocery stop reached the community center about 15 minutes before the tournament, but, despite my hopes, all players were present, and I was not able to get in. I wasn't all that disappointed, though, given that other than one other player at my level, everybody else was significantly lower-rated, dipping as far down as the 1100s. I was a lock to win 1st or 2nd, but I might still lose ratings points if I didn't win most or all of my games.

Torn up about whether or not to skip Thunder Bay. On the one hand, I was getting sick of long drives. On the other hand, I really wanted to hit that 99%. On the other hand, it was looking like the time required to visit the more remote stores were actually hurting my chances of hitting 99%, because new stores were opening in that time.

The day was overcast and there was occasionally drizzling, all in all lousy conditions for rephotographing stores, pretty bad luck for remote Winnipeg. I still tried, and not far down from the Academy store, I finally found, after nearly three weeks, a suitable massage, on Academy. Just $35, Canadian, for the 1/2 hr. After nearly 10 days, the shower was great. The therapist was also very good, and not completely conservative, but still not as open-minded as I would have preferred.

The interrobang??? Who knew?

Had to go inside Kildonan Crossing to kiwi, and while I was there tried to get the opening date, but it was useless, like pulling teeth. The question just seemed to irritate the barista "helping" me. Where do they hire these people, who don't seem to understand customer service, jeez. Admittedly, my ever-increasing hunger, almost to the point of lightheadedness, might have had an effect on my perceptions. I had an apple, banana, juice, and a PowerBar in the car still, but I was holding out for a good meal before starting the drive back down to ND.

Finally, out of desperation, I decided to give Pita Pit a try. Overpriced and yucky.

Painful throbbing.

Around 1:00, starting to crash.

Oh, sweet! CBC segment about risk-taking ended by playing R.E.M.'s "Wall of Death", a B-side I had never previously heard on the radio. And a song I had not heard in a long, long time, since those fucking fuckers broke into my car and stole the CD case that had all my singles, including my really expensive and hard to find Erasure singles!!! THOSE FUCKERS!!!

Well, that was a strange one. The secondary strap from my backpack dipped into the lidless coffee cup I had in the car, necessitating that I suck the coffee from it. Kinda gross, seeing as how that strap had probably touched the ground a thousand times, including the floor of countless bathrooms. I felt ill.

5:11, still good to drive, but headache, more fake Excedrin, more tablets consumed in recent days that during much of the trip.

Freshly showered, I decided to check out the one strip club in Fargo when I saw it had dances prices as low as $10. Then $10 dance was tame, but there were a few unusualities to make the stop worthwhile. First, the club was divided in two, a sports bar and the topless club. Not necessarily unusual, but the fact that both had gambling, slots at the former and blackjack in the latter, was. Lots of female patrons, too--that seemed unusual. But what caught me totally by surprise was that, as I was leaving, what appeared to be a family--father, mother, and two girls--entered the club. I assumed they were going to the sports bar, but the girls still looked younger than 21.

What the fuck??? Tried to sprint across the street for a quick reshoot of University Dr when my right thigh suddenly cramped up!!! I never cramped before I got old!!!

In an unusual act, the dancer from Northern had recommended a club in Watertown, SD, where I just happened to be headed anyway. As tired as I was, and with strong winds and rain, I definitely would have stopped at the first rest area, but the Fargo dancer had claimed there were more liberal girls at Southfork. Never underestimate the motivational power of tits & ass--I pushed through the fatigue, the strong winds, the darkness, and the rain that turned into an all-out downpour as I neared Watertown. If I were a religious man (and thank god I'm not), I would have through a higher power was trying to keep me away from that booty.

At Southfork, the first thing I noticed was a sign "WE NO LONGER ACCEPT CHECKS"--okay, what the heck kind of strip club ever accepted checks? The dancers were indeed more up close and personal than in Fargo, to the extent that I had to gently push the one giving me a couch dance away a couple of times to avoid her taking me to a point I didn't want to get to. But the club was nothing special, with one exception. Besides the regular $20 couch dances, the dancers also offered table dances for a minimum tip of one dollar! For that price, I got a table dance from each of the six girls working over the course of a couple of hours--some were little more than air, but others got up close for a good 30-60 seconds--a hell of a bargain for a buck!!!

Oddly enough, I found myself focused not on any girl from the club, but from the cashier at the Kum & Go station where I had stopped to get directions to the club. The young woman, college age, was a bit homely, with acne and bad teeth, but still attractive in a girl-next-door, flaws-can-be-fixed kind of way. I went back to the Kum & Go to see if she was there and when she was getting off, and I had a strong urge to try and offer to pay her for a lap dance, more than anything curious if she would take the money, and how much, but I just couldn't pull the trigger. Too much uncertainty about how she would react.

Wal-Mart conveniently located behind the Starbucks (or is that the other way around). The strong winds that plagued my drive down to Watertown continued. Later the next morning I would learn the wind gusts had reached 50 MPH, and they were strong enough to rock my car throughout the night and create a whistling noise as the wind hit my windshield. It was kinda cool, actually.

May 4

8:30, only 5 hours sleep. No particularly hurry, but I felt awake enough to move on so I figured I'd shoot the two stores before the sun got higher in the sky and then nap later.

Found a bagel shop on the main drag, but they did not fry their eggs. The employee recommended Tally's, and as I was about to head over there Brandon called, and we agreed to met there. Sold a DVD, took a photo, and chatted for a while. During the converation I asked why he had moved to South Dakota of all places, and he replied that it was because of his job, as a pastor. I did not pursue the topic. Later, he asked me what I had learned from my travels, and then got more specific, asking about faith. I quickly told him I could not discuss faith with him, and later I made sure he understood it was not personal.

So there it was, it finally happened, what I had been expecting, that somebody who I met through my Starbucks project, a fan, if you will, would bring up religion, thus putting me in an awkward position of not wanting to diss the person, but not wanting to express even the slightest hint of tacit approval of religion. Brandon was cogenial and claimed to be open to different ways of thinking, but of course I expected that in the future I would meet people who would be insulted and possibly become hostile.

Split decision, with the manager of one store very interested in my project, while at the other store I did not even bother to introduce myself, because of the way the manager reacted when I asked for a sample cup. Not a sample, mind you, but just a sample cup, so that I could measure the correct amount of the coffee from the first store (where the magaer had not foundd the cups). She glared at me and asked why

Unexpected massage parlor i a town called Bell Fourche. Good price, $25 for a 1/2 hr, but unfortuantely no shower, so I had to pass. Actually, given that the therapist who was in session answered the phone, I probably wouldn't have wanted to see her anyway, because I dislike when a therapist answers the phone during my massage time.

Actually, as I drove up US-85 and then looked more closely at my map, I realized Belle Fouce is bigger than I though. Even though it was not yet time for the big motorcycle festival, I still saw plenty of choppers around. Might have seen more if I had driven through Sturgis itself, which is what the Main St manager had indicated, but Streets & Trips plotted a different route.

DQ hot dog not as bad as I expected.

Not great, but reasonably priced angel hair pasta with meatballs from Pizza Sammy. Over the next few days I would see at least one other Pizza Sammy, in MN I think.

A delay at the border crossing because it was apparently understaffed, but not a lot of questions. Not too many options for stopping shown on my map along Highway 2, and I considered taking the Transcanada, an extra 10 miles, in case there was a rest area. Decided to take my chances with Hwy 2 anyway, and I ended up getting screwed by a time-consuming detour along shit roadways around Wanawesa. Tried to sleep there, but got a bad vibe, so I drove on another 18 miles to Glenboro. All the while I was amazed that I was still awake and not dizzy or losing consciousness for split seconds like usual. It was about 1:00 AM when I finally stopped. I likened it to the miracle of Hanuka, wherein my stamina lasted much longer than expected.

May 3

Woke at 6:30 and the light was perfect for a photo. But with 750 miles to Rapid City, SD, I wanted to sleep as much as possible before calling the radio station and meeting the reporter. Finally decided to get moving at 7:01, and the first order of business, while changing, was to crank up Lost, as "The Brig" was billed to be an important episode.

First one last hit of Tim Hortons, and I kept my promise to the radio guys and gave their coffee a try. Tasted very weak. Reminded me of the late nights a Denny's after Starbucks had closed.

While waiting for the reporter from the Medicine Hat News, I called up the radio station. After a quick update they invited me to go over to the studio. After the reporter showed up and we chatted a while, I backtracked a bit to Redcliff and did another update and plug for the movie on air. Not done yet--the TV station also wanted me, and I waited for them to dub a film clip and then we headed over to the Starbucks. Ended up leaving the city much later than I had hoped, but the publicity was important even if I was risking the Spider-Man 3 screening.

I usually cut my gas close so I can fill up cheaper on the U.S. side, but it's a good think some gut instinct warned me against doing that this time, because there was no gas on the U.S. side of the Wild Horse crossing, not for a good distance to a town called Havre.

Not many questions at the border, but they did have me fill out a customs form--couldn't remember having done that too many times, if at all, except for air flights.

First night in a while sleeping less than eight hours. I didn't think I was that fatigued, so it was a surprise to get a headache. But a couple of fake Excedrin took care of it, and I was able to stay away for the entire 760 mile distance, blazing as fast as the smaller highways permitted for the first part of the trip, and then blazing as fast as rain permitted. Had to go out of my way, into Billings, to the Kinko's to fax that info to the credit card company, and that cost me a lot of time. Even with Billings' low population there was a rush hour delay. But I had to eat, so I grabbed a quick burrito, not bad, and later I made up some time by stealthing the two stores. Ended up reaching Rapid City with an hour to spare and quickly learning that selling out was not an issue.

Meanwhile, during the afternoon I had been trying to coordinate with a fan from Rapid City who had expressed interest in seeing the film too. Unfortunately, I had gotten one of the digits wrong and left a message for a stranger. A stranger who thought it would be funny to call me back and pretend to be Brandon. Had me going for a while, until I heard laughing in the background. Later, the real Brandon called, and I figured my mistake. But later, when I neared RC, I got the number wrong again. This time, the person on the other end said "I think you have the wrong number." I was tired and frustrated from the rain, and I decided it was too much trouble and that I would wait to see if Brandon called.

After the film I went off in search of Wi-Fi. After some wandering, I found a reasonably strong signal. But after I finished changing, out of the blue (the darkness, really), a small black car swerved around the corner, pulled a u-turn, and parked in front of me. The driver hopped out, went through a gap in the shrubbery and presumably into the house. Maybe a minute later he returned to the car and drove off around the corner. I turned my attention away, and a minute later I thought I saw the car parked on that cross street, facing me, as if he was observing me. I was pretty tired, so I was sure what I saw, but I took no chances and moved along, downtown, where there were plenty of parking spaces and a halfway-decent signal.

May 2

7:53 After a week and an ever-growing tear, it was time to switch briefs. Perhaps time to discard this pair, but I have to wonder if I can sell them on eBay, signed and certified with the names of the Starbucks I visited while wearing them. Probably not going to happen, but they did come in handy as a rag to dab in gasoline and wipe off the adhesive from he Seattle parking stickers from my window. I had to get rid of the gasoline smell, though, and s I decided to hang them out the window. When I got to the next Starbucks and an attractive blonde seemed to glance at my car, I had to wonder if briefs hanging from my car window would have an effect on my "cool factor", you know, with the chicks.

Rocky Mountain sheep warning along 1A as I approached Canmore.

Canmore, scenic town

Can't see it from this angle, but that bird was big--what's it been eating? I felt bad for it, though, because when I chased it to try and get a better shot I learned it could not fly.

As I neared downtown Calgary I turned off Democracy Now podcast found a cool station, 90.9, playing some good hip hop, including The Roots. I could not help but move my torso and arms to the beat, much to amusement of a man in a burgundy minivan who spotted me before I spotted him and stilled myself.

Tastebuds & Co Cafe, thought the sign read "Tastebucks" at first and wondered why they had not been sued.

Finally passed a Latin American restaurant, La Casa Latina, with dishes from various countries, but the prices were ridiculous--$16.95 for a "bandeja paisa". I tried to order plaintains, beans, and rice separately, but amazingly, the chef said they were low on whole kidney beans and would not sell them separately, only the refried beans. Fuck that.


Worst wrong turn ever, leaving Deerfood Meadows, accidentally got on Deerfoot Trail northbound instead of south, during the rush hour. Cost me at least 30 min, if not more. All the while, the clock towards Spider-Man 3 at midnight in Rapid City, South Dakota was ticking ever downward.

Whoa! Louisiana plates! Is that a Katrina refugee?

5:28, no lunch yet, just two donuts, sooooo hungry. Almost gave in and went with corporate burrito from TacoTime Cantina, but I called up a reserve of willpower and walked away, leaving the cashier with a befuddled look.

Wow, Calgary is truly a world-class city, if the rush hour traffic is any indication of that.

Also a Western city, if the young woman in the boots and black cowboy hat, blasting country music from her stereo, is any indication.

Finally found reasonably-priced spaghetti, Pizza Delight, $7.69, but a 20-minute wait, which the little wench of a hostess failed to tell me up front. Only after she had taking my phone #, my name, and then worked out the change on a calculator did she drop the time bomb. Grrr...

Fuel 90.3 rock station pretty good.

May 1

I never lied to you, but if I did, it was only to cover the uncovered squid.

Marlon, Cooling, 7:27

60-90 min wait at the Tire & Lube Center at the Wal-Mart in Spruce Grove, but the car was already overdue for an oil change and I had no choice. Burned much of that time cleaning up the back of the car and buying Q-Tips anyway, then walking across the highway to the Starbucks and shaving. So it wasn't that bad a wait, and then things got better. A woman overheard me talking to the supervisor and became very interested. Turns out she was a freelance journalist and expressed interest in a story. Since I still had to wait for my car, I obliged her, and not only did I get the possibility of a story in Canada, but I sold a couple of DVDs too!

Couldn't remember if the bargain pasta I had had five years earlier had been on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, but there had been a restaurant that sold me some very reasonably priced spaghetti, like around $5 o $6. A manager at one of the Starbucks confirmed that he had heard of such a Holding out for pasta Tuesday.

Heading into the city on Stony Plain Rd. I passed Magic Touch Massage and decided to see what the prices were. I was pretty much already sure the place wasn't for me, when, just a few hundred feet away along the sidewalk was a sign that reads something like "THIS COMMUNITY DOES NOT TOLERATE PROSTITUTION" and gave a number to call to "Report-a-John". The woman that greeted me at the door did not even offer up a pretense of a real massage--she just quoted a price of $200. Nope, wrong place for me. But beyond that, the price was ridiculous for another reason. The woman was older, with a worn, perhaps scarred, face, and a slightly masculine air about her body and voice. I couldn't imagine why anybody who had options would want to pay her $200, but, there it is.

On 109th St I saw a sign for Karma Sutra Massage, which looked interesting. The place had changed to Legends, and was even more obvious--a sign along the stairway warned that it was "ADULT ENTERTAINMENT" (18 years old to enter), but I'm glad I entered anyway, because I got a bit of a treat. The receptionist was not in the waiting room, and so I just walked around. When I noticed a big TV monitor that read "Main Menu", I thought it said "massage menu" and walked into the room. Oops--it wasn't for customers, but just for the "therapists", and I caught one of them changing, bare-breasted! Well, wasn't that a pleasant surprise. Several of the other ladies I saw, more clothed, were still pretty good-looking. A place to keep in mind, if I ever wanted to spend that kind of money.

Curses--finally passed a place advetising a pasta day, but it was Monday, not Tuesday.

"$5000 REWARD FOR RETURN OF STOLEN BOBCAT"--are people allowed to keep bobcats in Edmonton???

Passed another massage parlor, Studio 118 on 118th, and my research continued. This one had a more reasonable door fee, $25, and the girl who spoke to me was reasonably attractive. Had it just been the $25 session and massage, I might have stayed for that shower, but there was also a $60 minimum tip, plus the girl said her specialty was reflexology, not massage. Never bought into that whole reflexology thing. And, given my altered physiological state, I really needed the focus to be on thge the massage, not the extra goodies.

However, I did end up scoring, a mother lode of old Playboy special editions, from the early 2000s and late 90s. The bookstore owner said they were really hard to come by, presumably because people collect them more than the regular Playboy magazine.

One finally try at massage, from Rhythm Massage on 108th Ave. The coupon in the free weekly advertised $25, but only in April. It was May 1st, and the lady at the door said she could not honor the coupon. For that reason alone I wouldn't have stayed, even if the lady hadn't looked 10-15 years too old and too worn to be wearing the short schoolgirl skirt. Really--she wanted to charge $125 for a handjob--was she insane? I was reminded of an expression a former boss used to direct at me, routinely--"what type of drugs are you on???" He would usually add, "no, I don't really want to know."

Once again, even though I didn't get the massage I wanted, the detour worked, because farther down the road I stumbled across the Calabash Cafe, Caribean food--pretty good oxtails. They were served with rice and something called pigeon peas. No idea what they were, but they tasted pretty good.

A barista had mentioned a shortage of labor being a problem for Starbucks' expansion in Alberta, and several times during the day I heard news items to that effect. It was no coincidence--the date was May 1st, an international day for labor. I cared not a whit for this, because oppressed workers are victims of their own irrationality. What I cared about was whether the labor shortage would slow down Starbucks' expansion, thus easing my burden in this extremely remote part of the continent.

Mental note, 66th St south of 14, another Carribean place, and a Latin cuisine place.

Indiscriminate use of the word "shit" on a youth radio program.

Just as I reached Ponoka, an ambulance, fire rescue truck, and RCMP unit all merged onto the highway. Accident up ahead, no doubt, and the potential of a big backup. I had to find a balance between racing to get ahead of as many vehicles as possible before traffic backed up, and catching the attention of the RCMP ahead of me and the one a mile or two back. Fortunately, a man in a small white car was in as much of a hurry and raced past me, so I was able to tag along at 85 until we reached the scene of the indicent. Then the dumbfuck decided to rubberneck, and I had to honk at him. I fucking hate rubberneckers--wasting people's time for no good reason, just to satisfy their primal curiosities. Grrr...

Another torrent removal e-mail.

Finally remembered to download American Doll Possee. At first I was shocked that the price has higher than usual, $14.99, but later I realized it contains 24 tracks (though some are very short).

Lots of downloading to do, exit Country Hills, find first neighborhood, then drive really slowly in a suspicious manner until I find a combinaition of strong signal plus place to park.

E-mail from the lady from the Calabash Cafe alerting me that I had dropped a credit card. She had already called the company and they had blocked it. AARRGHH!!! Now instead of having her send it to Winnipeg for me to pick it up I would have to wait weeks for a new card to arrive in Houston and then be sent to whereever I would be. And without that new card, I wouldn't be going overseas!

April 30


Something unusual on the way up to Prince George along Highway 97, place names with references to miles from some point to the south. 70 Mile House, 100 Mile House, 150 Mile House, and business names indicating the mile, like 99 Mile service center, etc. Since Canada uses kilometers, I found the mile references particularly unusual. place names references to miles, not km

Cool, radio reports new Tori out this week.

Employee says Safeway in Canada the same company, but Organics yogurt only available in large.

Mandatory Tim Horton's.

Blue informational signs list local radio stations--wish they had those in the States.

Listening to the award-winning This American Episode about Guantanamo, and I cannot help but have a real fear that I will end up there one day. All that has to happen is for the U.S. to put my name on a list at some border crossing anywhere. I could be flying into London to visit Starbucks, and next thing be on my way to Cuba for indefinite detention.

Finally, Prince George!!! 2600 miles from Houston, farthest point by car, by 500 miles. And also, my 7000th store, probably.

Road check around McKenzie, first I could remember.

Dude! AB road shit

Was that a moose??? Whatever it was, it was big, and I'm glad it wasn't on the highway because, unlike the deer I once hit, that thing would have destroyed my Hyundai. oooo... that's what the big sign with the bright yellow mooose on it means--it's a warning!

rest area scratching smooth area

April 29

Slept until 8:03. With no interview or ferry schedules to keep, there was no point depriving myself of slept, especially with a very long drive to Prince George coming up later in the day.

Strange dream during the night, that a manager had let slip that Starbucks was planning on going into bankruptcy. Not because the company wasn't doing well, but rather as part of a strategy to obtain more debt. Absurd, of course, but it was a dream.

In a separate dream, I could hear the song Sweetness Follows. I was very glad to be able to crank up iTunes and get the song out of my system.

Hope, Darrell's. Rolly's, lots of motels, Hope Hotel Cafe

uphill on 5, flurries

Hey, how did Fred and Paco get all the way up to Penticton from San Diego???

Went over to Cherry Lane for a reshoot, and as I was walking into the store to ask about the date, some guy stormed out of the mall entrance shouting "FUCK" over and over. He sat down on a bench, not exactly in my intended frame, but close enough that he might notice me and wonder if I was photographing him. I wondered if I should go back to the car and get my pocket knife (lot of good that would do) or my bat (kind of obvious, I thought). Thankfully by the time I left the store he was walking back into the mall.

Baristas at Cherry Lane suggested the Dream Cafe. Since the French toast from earlier had sucked so bad, I decided to give breakfast another try. Pretty good toast, eggs, potatoes, and something different, chorizo.

At the new Westbank store a reasonably attractive blonde noticed the DVD around my neck and seemed very interested in the project and film. She invited me to chat outside with some of her other Starbucks-loving friends, and at first I wondered why outside. Was she planning to kidnap me? Kill me? But then I realized she just needed a smoke.

Jamie was very nice, but despite my hopes, she did not buy a DVD, nor did she offer to become the "something special" I was seeking.

After I finished taking my photos and drove off, I noticed her brown sweater way at the end of the street. It hadn't occurred to me she might be on foot. I went down the street and offered her a lift. She replied that she was going to some bible camp, and the implication I understood was that the camp was in an opposite direction from the Starbucks she knew I needed to visit. Ordinarily I would have told her I didn't mind going out of my way, but the words "bible camp" were all I needed to hear to spur me to move on, thinking "what a waste, another mind ruined."


While reshooting Bernard & Pandosy I went inside to find out when it had opened, and when I went outside an RCMP was, apparently, confiscating a squeegie from an (apparently) indigent young man. I find those squeegie people to be a pain in the ass, but I thought the Canadians were a bit more liberal than that, supposedly the moral compass that the United States lacks (forgive my use of of the subuseful word "moral").

Anyway, after talking with the man a while, the cop went inside for Starbucks. Of course.

At the first new store in Kelowna, the visit went awry immediately when, upon exiting the bathroom, I found that the baristas had moved my DVDs from where I had set them and thrown away my sample cup. I didn't like the way they were looking at me, so I decided not to tell them who I was or about the movie, and just left as quietly as possible.

Predator Ridge?

Shit!!! Now Turkey is facing political turmoil, and that is one of the countries I hope to hit in a month or two. Andthen there's also France, where if Nikolas Sarkozy wins, weeks of strikes are predicted.

Got the first word that Starbucking was mentioned at an official Starbucks function, a conference of some sort.

Vern's pizza, dour-faced

Took me long enough, but finally subscribed to the This American Life Podcast! And then I noticed, holy shit, PRI has a shitload of shows available on podcast!!! I'll never suffer dead air again!!!

Well-spaced rest areas, so I was able to drive a good distance before stopping. Probably could have gone another 48 miles, but what was the point?


April 28

At 7:00 I moved over to the Canadian Tire lot so I could be first for my tire. Good thing, because after they finished at 8:45, plus a lengthy 5-minute delay to ring me up, I barely made the ferry terminal with 5 minutes to spare.

While waiting for the tire I went over to Starbucks and tried a bear claw. The Happy Valley juice was delicious as always, but the bear claw I could have done without. I introduced myself to the assistant manager, and she seemed friendly, but later on I could hear her whispering something, and when I heard "7,000", I knew she was talking about me. At the same time I heard something about calling Seattle, and I saw a barista on the phone and occasionally glancing at me. I wondered if they were reporting me to Seattle, but later it seemed more like they were calling about a piece of equipment malfunctioning. Still, you never know, when people whisper about you, what ill consequences might ensue.

During the ferry ride, random urge to be in the Midwest, like rural Indiana.

Interesting. Signs on the Earls Cove-Saltery Bay ferry mandated that passengers not remain on the vehicle decks during the trip. I saw the signs and wondered if I had been breaking Transport Canada regulations during the times I had slept in the car during the rides to/from Vancouver Island. When I got back on the Langsdale-Horseshoe Bay ferry I noticed passengers remaining in their vehicles, and I did not see any signs prohibiting it. Why on one ferry but not another? Same company, BC Ferries, and same government agency, Transport Canada.

Road to Squamish sucked serious ass. Really slow about half the way due to construction. Very narrow lanes.


parking danger Chris Morgan

shit almost mesmerized, curves, shadows

Cannot stand these shabutonic ass muhfuckas.

So is it my dark skin, my demeanor, or perhaps my hair? At the Langley store I carful of attractive young females pulled up next to me just as I was about to back up for a photo. I waved at the driver and then rushed over to the her side and waved again. The (perhaps) racist little bitch looked at me like I was fixin' to rob her, and I almost had to coax her to lower her window so I could ask her to move the car a space over, which she did. Of course, if she had had any intelligence at all she would have taken the other row of parking spaces not in front of the store. Reminds me of a line from a Killah Priest song, "Walk beside white women they start holding they purse. I just asked you for the time, bitch--what you got anyway? Some of the Indian's turf." Point being, a dark man approaching a white woman is just as likely as not to see a hint of fear or concern in her eyes, even if she smiles and talks polite. Well, at least I didn't get lynched.

Well, it finally happened. After a week of teasing, the zipper of the smaller pouch of my backpack finally stopped working, thus rendering the pack useless for an overseas trip, or any flight whatsoever. Sucked because I had not even gotten two years out of it, after spending a ridiculous $90 in London after the Canadian suckpack tore within 24 hours of use.

Well, I finally did it, something extremely unusual, I think, and perhaps amazing. 21 days without climax, beating the 20 days from a few years earlier, and perhaps my longest time ever, depending on whether I really managed 6 weeks in college as I remember. I was rather proud of my mental discipline. Whether or not few ejaculations is really healthy or not I'm not sure about, but I have definitely learned that delaying gratification results in more intense experiences.

Chilliwack corn, and I don't care.

April 27

One last hit of Top Pot, and then it was finally "Oh, Canda" time!

A bit of sadness as I left the range of KEXP's signal.

Super ghetto gas station at the Wal-Mart in Tulilalip. Not only did the air/water machine charge 75 cents, but when it cut off before I had filled all tires, the Mirastar attendant said they (Wal-Mart or Mirastar?) took no responsibility, that I had to call the number on the machine. Of course nobody answered. And the only reason I was using the machine anyway, instead of just having the tires filled along with the oil changed I needed was that the stupid Wal-Mart wanted to charge me more for 5W-20. That on top of a 90-minute way. No, way, man--for that price I could find any other lube shop off-speak and have it done in 10 minutes!

Plenty of questions at the border, but not maybe about my name, not like last time. Took a while, but the agent did not choose to register me.

I suffered through my intensifying hunger while reshooting several stores and visiting one new one because I was fixated on that chili from Siegel's Bagels. Thus is was particularly disappointing when I arrived to discover that the chili is no longer on the menu. The young man who made the chili was still there, but the boss told him to stop making it, long ago, because they just weren't selling enough. Dammit. I loved that chili!

The district manager at Park Royal Indigo happened to be chatting with the manager, and the supervisor introduced me to them. The DM said something interesting, something like "you're the one with the blog." Very usual that she mentioned my blog. That, combined with the way she reacted and looked at me during our conversation, made me wonder whether somebody had specifically alerted her to the more blunt and candid observations that make it into my blog.

Hit the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal around 4:15, and given the schedule I had seen I considered myself lucky I would only have to wait an hour. Could have been two. But what I didn't consider fortunate was the price--$46.60!!! When I had looked at the fare schedule I had been under the impression that the cost would be about $10 each way. Wrong!!! The cashier said the $46.60 was round trip, and I sure hope she was right.

I was surprised to find that from the terminal I was able to walk thru a gate into the town of Horseshoe Bay itself. During all my previous ferry trips I had been limited to whatever shops were on the terminal property. I spotted a Blenz Coffee, which I had seen before, though I can't remember where. Good thing they had Wi-Fi and power outlets, because the coffee itself, the Peruvian organic, didn't do it for me. I dumped out most of it.

Upon boarding the ferry I spotted a black-haired, fair-skinned young woman, accent indeterminate (possibly European), reading The Bridges of Madison County. Since I had read the book twice and thoroughly enjoyed the movie, I decided to try to engage her in conversation, but she wasn't having it. That's how you can tell women find you utterly unattractive, when they won't even speak to you even though you have a common interest.

Did Gibsons and Sechelt as quickly as possible and then tried to rush to the Earls Cove terminal, but the drive turned agonizingly slow when me and the pickup I was following first got stuck behind a truck, who eventually used a turnout, and then a bus driven by an asshole who refused to use the turnouts.

A moment of confusion at the terminal when I saw nobody taking tickets. Turns out the $46.60 I paid was good for both ferry rides up the peninsula, but not for the return.

Turned out I was the last passenger vehicle to arrive, and I think I waited no more than 5 minutes before cars started moving. Had I dawdled in Gibsons or Sechelt or not been as aggressive about passing cars during the remainder of the trip, I might not have made it. And that would have been too bad, because the sunset offered some really great views.

Oh, that's soooo not fair! I got all excited when, in the bathroom on the ferry, I saw a shower. But it didn't work!!! It was only connected during a 15-hour passage available only during the summer.

Oh, how typically Canadian, I suppose. Halfway thru the ferry ride, an agent came on the intercom and announced the score of the hockey game, 1-1.

April 26

A horrible, horrible dream during the night, that something in the lens of my camrea had broken when I was out in the middle of nowhere. Not really--Minnesota, maybe 10 miles along the interstate from the city, but in the dream it seemed like a horrible ordeal, but also an opportunity to buy a D80. Maybe that's what the dream was telling me--buy a D80!

At 5:31 I did not notice anybody at the Thrifty counter, and I remembered that the automated phone message had stated 6:00, not 5:30 like the Hertz people told me. At 6:17 I saw two ladies at the counter and walked over, half-asleep, to make sure they had my reservation. But I told them I would be going back to sleep for about an hour and pointed to the corner. At 7:16 I saw a line of several people and decided I needed to get a move-on. When I got up to the counter the agent told me that they had just run out of compact cars! I gave her what was probably a nasty-ish look and explained that I was just over in the corner, that they could have woken me if they were going to run out of cars. She ended up putting me in a larger car, which was kinda okay, but I was still going to end up spending more on gas.

While waiting in line I thought about removing my undershirt, but as soon as I stepped out into the parking garage I was glad I kept it on. No, it was not bitterly cold as one might imagine of Alaska, but it was mighty nippy still.

Even with the sun in my face it was still a sweet view of the snow-capped mountains on the way to the first store, a sharp contrast with the lush green mountains of Hawaii.

Good reception at that first store, scoring a mug. Less so at most of the other stores. The assistant manager at the second store warned me that I should head to Eagle River instead of the Diamond store because it would be very busy. I should have listened to her, because there was quite a line, the store was a man down, and as a result the whole experience turned sour for a while. Most disturbing was that a lady patron shouted something at me when I passed by her, and she insisted I had bumped her or stepped on her or something, and I had zero recollection whatsoever of having come into contact with her.

Barista at the downtown store recommended the Downtown Deli and Cafe. Biscuits this far from the South, and decent ones too--I was pleasantly surprised. Instead of bacon I had the reindeer sausage. Figured I might as well try it, since I had not seen such on a menu anywhere else. It was okay--not great, not bad, mostly just... different.

Can't say why, but for some reason Anchorage feels more American than Hawaii. When I'm driving around Hawaii I still have this feeling of alieness that I do not feel in Anchorage.

Finished at Eagle River with plenty of time to spare. Did some driving around, in part just checking out the city, but more importantly seeking a strong Wi-Fi signal so I could watch Lost. At Tudor & Lake Otis, across the latter from the Starbucks, there is Golden Donut with Wi-Fi. The manager/owner claimed that their donuts were excellent, better than most, so much so that customers would buy them in bulk and freeze them for later consumption. I was dubious, but it was indeed a pretty good donut. I preferred Top Pot, but I expect to make a return trip.

Reshot three of the stores, and then with time to kill still I considered the massage I was now badly in need of, at a place with an interesting name, Dhani Massage, that looked interesting. Earlier, as I had driven around, I had passed no fewer that three oriental massage parlors, none of which seemed appealing. But despite my (physically) stressed-out feeling, I wouldn't need a shower for a few days yet, maybe longer depending upon the temperature in Canada, and with the U.S. portion of my trip nearly two weeks behind the schedule I would have hoped for, I needed to conserve the cash.

Similarly, I did not want to spend a lot on lunch because I was not yet really hungry after breakfast and the donut. I found nothing appealing on the way to the airport, but about a mile or two past it on Minnesota I passed Angelina's, a Filipino place. I found it amusing that I had stumbled across Filipino restaurants in both Hawaii and Alaska within days of each other. Nothing looked particularly appealing at this place, but I had to eat, and the soup with noodles and ground beef fo $2.99 was sufficient.

Sleep during the flight was made more difficult by a strange itching all over my body.

Upon arrival took a bit longer than I had hoped to get back to WallyPark, from where I rushed to a Starbucks to check movie listings. I was tired, but I had decided I wanted to see The TV Set after all. But I was too late.

I also noticed, via Google alerts, that torrent files for Starbucking had been posted. I immediately notified Alex and Bill and sent a message to one of the sites explaining it was copyrighted material and that theft affected me directly.

April 25

Touched down right around 5:38, on time, and as soon as I deplaned I rushed to my car and up to the 2nd & Lenora store to get as much sleep as possible while finishing some downloads. At 8:00 I decided I need more sleep, so I went ahead and paid the 75 cents for 30 minutes parking. At 8:30 I pulled the car around the corner and paid for another 30 minutes. At 9:06 I finally felt kinda caught up on sleep and headed up to Wedgewood to complete my triptych of Top Pot donuts. On the way, I stopped at a place called Hogan's to leave my laundry. When I returned to check on it, I was pleased to discover the place has Wi-Fi!

After receiving a response to a message I posted on CGP, I went over to the Queen Anne store to meet Rebecca for some Scrabble. I set up copies of the DVD on the table, and a few minutes later one of the baristas asked if I was selling them and said they didn't allow selling inside the store. Thing is, I hadn't solicited anybody and I had no sign advertising the DVDs. They were just sitting there, propped up for visibility. I replied that I was not planning to solicit to anybody, only hoping to get others to ask me about the DVD. After agreeing that I would do any selling outside, he left me alone. Later, as he was leaving after his shift, he wished me luck. I got the impression he didn't really care if I sold DVDs or not, that he was just trying to following orders.

I lucked out, and Rebecca offered me use of her shower, thus eliminating the need to find one before boarding the flight.

After some debating back and forth, finally went with WallyPark at $8.95 (+ tax). Since I arrived at 8:48 and my return flight was not scheduled to arrive until 9:01, I would almost certainly have to pay for two days unless they billed in day fractions or I managed an earlier flight.

Boarding started around 9:50, well before the 10:00 PM time indicated on the ticket. By the time I boarded, around 10:00, it looked like almost everyone was on board and that we would be able to depart early. Oh, how wrong our hopes were. Several passengers did not arrive until the last minute. But the big delay was due to something freakish. As the plane started backing from the gate we well a jolt and loud thump. After some time, the pilot informed us that some sort of tow bar on a truck that was pushing (or pulling) us back from the gate had broken. As a result, they had to check the plane and replace the bar, and the upshot was that we did not arrive in Anchorage until past 2:00. Thrifty had closed by then, and so I had no choice but to camp out in a corner of the rental car area. Fortunately, I had anticipated this possibility and brought, in addition to the sheet I bought on Maui, my light blanket. I was able to use the latter to provide some cushion from the cold concrete ground and cover myself with the sheet, and all in all it was not that uncomfortable.

Before I chose that corner, I had wandered around looking for a row of seats long enough for me to stretch out. I never found them, but when I stumbled upon an earlier where there was construction, I was reminded of the film The Terminal.

April 24

Up at 6:02 and over to the Starbucks to wait for the sun to arise above a mountain formation that I was later told is a volcano. I watched Heroes while I waited, but I wanted to take my photo and leave as quickly as possible because of the looks the manager had given me.

A longer wait even at Henry Street, without getting photo I wanted. A customer sitting outside asked me about the photos, and I eagerly pitched the movie. Then I groaned when he revealed that, had I arrived the previous day, the parking lot would have been almost empty.

The next two stores were up the coastal highway, and the views were pretty sweet. Most interesting was the black volcanic rock visible during part of the drive.

During my driving on the island I noticed signs demarcating various areas called "districts". What is a Hawaiian district, exactly?

Aloha Luigi

I missed an earlier standby flight by minutes again, but with more serious potential consequences. There were no flights between 1:00 and 3:58, which came as a shock to me, because I had made the mistake of assuming that there would be a flight to HNL every hour at least. As a result, somewhere in Japan, a young schoolgirl named Yumi inexplicably transformed into a donkey. And as a result, I face the possibility that I might not be able to visit all three new stores on Oahu in 2 1/2 to 3 hours (and 3 would mean cutting it close for my 9:00 flight). The problem would likely be Waianae, which, while only 28 miles from the airport, was also along a smaller highway that was likely to be congested during the rush hour. And that 3:58 flight would put me in HNL right in the middle of the rush by the time I rented a car.

I quickly put my error to the side when I saw how comfortable the seats in the lobby (downstairs from the actual gates) looked. They were perfect for lying down, and I settled in for some good sleep. But before I had a chance to fall asleep, I heard announcements that a flight to Honolulu was boarding, on an airline called Go! I immediately went into rush mode, heading over to the gate to see if there were seats. Yes, the agent said, but I would have to buy a ticket from the main lobby. I went back downstairs and first found the Hawaiian counter to see if my ticket was refunable. Nope, but I could use it for up to a year, as long as I cancelled it to avoid the $50 no-show fee. Of course I did not expect to return within a year, but you never know. Then I rushed back and forth, finally asking at information, to find the Go! counter. Nobody there, and a sign saying something would arrive 15 minutes after boarding!!! So I rushed back through security to the gate and explained to the agent, who called the counter and set up a ticket purchase for me. All the while I had been cursing myself for not having thought of taking another airline sooner. This was something that should have occurred immediately to me, a person who supposedly can think outside the box. Ten years earlier, I thought, I surely would have come up with a myriad alternative plans on the spot. But now, middle-aged, it appeared I was getting dumber, like Homer Simpson at some point during the run of the show (which some viewers think is when it jumped the shark).

Upon boarding the flight attendant had me sit in the back for takeoff, but as soon as we reached the correct altitude I moved to an empty seat in the first row (no 1st class on Go!, apparently). As we neared landing I put on my shirt and coat, uncomfortable though they were, so I could more quickly retrieved my backpack and deplane first. It was one of those planes that required deplaning onto the concrete outside and then walking to the building. Or, that is to say, trotting, for me, as fast as I thought I could without alarming security. I found the car rental shuttle area, and by coincidence Avis passed next, with cars available, so I made it 4 consecutive rentals with Avis in three days. Left the airport at 3:30 with 94 miles to drive.

I wasn't on the H-1 for more than a few minutes before I ran into traffic. I feared that the jam would last all the way to Waianae, but thankfully it let up after a few miles. Still lost more time though, at the store itself. It had just opened and was the only one on that part of the island, so it was apparently a novelty--there was quite a line. Additional frustration as I couldn't make the barista understand that I needed a sample and just ended up having to insist that she take my money for a short, most of which, of course, I poured out.

FUCK!!! Despite all the care I had taken to sort out the discrepancy between the store names on the Starbucks web site and the Starbucks Hawaii site, I missed one, Kailua Village, also known as Kailua Village Shopping Center. The upshot is that I drove all the way to the east side of the island for nothing. In fact, I hadn't needed to spend the extra $35 to take the earlier Go! flight--waste of money. In fact the whole trip to Hawaii had been a fiasco, planning-wise, and much more expensive than it needed to be.

April 23

Body two hours ahead, when the arriving cars of the Home Depot employees woke me around 4:00, I felt fine to get going. But there was no point. Starbucks not open, and pitch black. I had to force myself to try and sleep more. I wasn't sure where in the time zone Maui was, but it was almost 6:00 before the sky was light enough for any kind of decent photo. But grrr... it had started raining during the night, prompting me to exclaim in the old language, "ranet-yi pom shuu!!!. I killed as much time as possible in the morning hoping for sun, at the Wal-Mart, checking e-mail, and doing a radio interview.

Grrr... discovered that my the plug for my car power converter wouldn't fit into the HHR's slot (it did during previous rentals), which would mean I'd have to take the laptop into each Starbucks for charging. Since I only had six to go, I hoped that it would work out.

Mm... mm... mm... much better tasting scone than on the mainland.

Store too busy in Piilani, and manager looked too gruff, so I ordered a short coffee. $1.56--jeez, Louise!!! That's about the most expensive short anywhere in the U.S.

Pricier than I hoped for, but only by about $150 over what I expected to pay, and I really wanted those six Anchorage stores, so I went ahead and booked Alaska.

After 1 1/2 days of mental fatigure, I had started out the day feeling the love of Starbucking once more. But after queer looks and reactions at three stores, plus the frustration of having to wait for cars to move at each one, plus the inability to find out when the stores had opened, I was starting to hate Hawaii.

Finally! Score!!! No, no what you're thinking. Something much better than sex, and something I think I'd better keep from the prying eyes at SODO.

Well, after getting luck a few times with the standby flights, my luck finally ran out. Ultimately, it was the delay buying a soda and then a burrito that did it, and I missed the 2:03 flight by what must have been mere minutes. The time passed quickly, however, and I was soon on the plane, and almost instantly feeling like I had spent most of the last day and a half on a freaking plane, with no end in sight, especially with the addition of Anchorage to my itinerary. I also felt like I had spent the better part of a day and a half not knowing where the fuck I was, what time it was, what day of the week it was, who the fucking President was, etc.

Close call with Avis in Hilo. The initial printout came out at almost $70. When I asked why, the agent immediately said he could adjust it by using a multi-island code, bring the price down to $34--a very important lesson learned.

Visited three stores in the area, then drove around looking for food. Seattle on a Filipino restaurant, on something called "pork n peas"--I wonder why that never took off the same was tha tprk n beans did.

Only make it as far as Waimea and sleep for a while. At 1:35 drive to Kailua-Kona, and I find the weather considerably warmer--whereas in Waimea I had put on my thermal pants, I was able to take them off in the coastal city. Still, sleep was tough, and I had a headache most of the night, and dehydration. That usually happens when it's very cold, so I can't really say what the reason was.

April 22

Awoke at 5:49, 10 minutes before my alarm was to go off. I considered trying to cut it a little closer and sleep some more, but it's a good thing I didn't. It looked like I had plenty of time when I reached the vicinity of the airport, but on the the way I had realized that if my return flight arrived at 5:50, I probably wouldn't get out of the parking lot until 6:10 at the earliest, maybe as late at 6:30 with delays, and so I didn't want to enter the lot before that time and have to pay for an extra day. So I killed some time--but an unexpected distraction here, a breakfast there, and next thing I knew I was, if not quiet hurrying or concerned yet, not prepared to use up any more time. So when I discovered that SEA does not have economy parking like I expected, I was disappointed that I had not gone for the far cheaper options outside the airport ($9 vs $22), but even though it was not yet 7:00 and my flight wasn't 'til 8:35, I didn't want to risk any more delays.

Good thing, because their was a good-sized line to check-in at NWA, a good sized line at security, and I also needed to brush my teeth, clean my ears (those could have waited), buy some Chapstick, and buy another copy of Song of Susannah. Despite having had plenty of time, I had still forgotten things. The Chapstick, the small tube of toothpaste, which meant I had to discard the large tube. I had brought my coat, but I had forgotten to remove the unnecessary cap and gloves from the pocket. And all these omissions despite having traveled extremely light. No spare clothes, even--just a small towel, washcloth, and boxer shorts in case I was in a hostel room with women, though the pair of briefs I had put on were relatively new and didn't allow for bits to hang out. But farndangle it, I forgot to bring an extra pair of socks!

Anyway, I ended up cutting it pretty close after all, getting lost on the way to the correct gate, then having to take a shuttle train, and arriving past 8:00, when boarding was well underway. I sat in 33-C next to an elderly Asian couple, perhaps/probably Japanese, and the man spoke enough English to say "Good morning" and ask if I lived in Hawaii. I was on my laptop and wondering if he was going to think me rude, if that was what he was telling his wife, but it turned out not to matter, because the couple, and their friends,

Hey, that's pretty cool. A man seated a couple of rows back was talking about a Dean Koontz book he was reading, and then I looked to my left, and Dean Koontz, bearded, was sitting two seats down from me! Then I realized I was just dreaming--it was just the attractive brunette and her boyfriend (or kissing brother) sitting next to me. What was strange was that their really was a man behind me talking about Dean Koontz. So somehow I was able to hear and understand his words while dreaming at the same time.

The couple next to me turned out to be newlyweds, off to Hawaii on their honeymoon. I resisted the urge to say "I'm sorry." What was the point? Given that the man was popping a copy of Eragon into the portable DVD player, it was clear he was disposed to making poor decisions, like getting married.

The 757-300 OW airplane was the most cramped I could remember having ridden, excluding small propeller planes. The aisle was extremely narrow, and this became a great inconvenience about midway thru the flight when the lines for both economy-class restrooms extended past six people, maybe seven or eight. I had never seen so many people waiting in line for the restroom on a flight before. At one point, the front restroom freed up, but none of those in line for the back one noticed--I tapped one young woman on the back and let her know, but then I let the others fend for themselves. That line persisted for a while longer.

The flight was longer than I had expected, five hours. I had forgotten to put that apple in my backpack, and the breakfast plus PowerBar were not being enough. I started to get a headache, probably worsened by a bit of caffeine withdrawal. I had only had about 12 ounces the previous day. I had planned to have more with the Top Pot donut, but it had been closed. It's a good thing I waited until the end of the day to drink that last 4-ounce sample, otherwise my withdrawl would have been worse. Still, I had an hour before touching down, then 2 hours 'til my next flight, and then 37 minute flight plus time to get to that first store. I expected to be really hurting by then.

After a while the headache became bad enough that I had to take two pills, and when we touched down I decided to get some coffee at one of the fake airport Starbucks. There were certainly plenty of them to choose from, and I felt more than a little relieved about my decision long ago to only visit real (company-owned) stores. Still, the sample fake coffee, generously offered by the supervisor of a kiosk outside the main building, who had seen me on Unwrapped, came in quiet handy for easing my withdrawal.

I had considered trying to get to the Borders Ward Center location by taxi, but when the dispatcher estimate $35, one way, I quickly forgot that idea. I didn't really expect it to be cheap, and it's just as well, because I had thought my flight to Kauai was at 1:30, but was really

As stressful as it had been booking the flights to Hawaii, as soon as I saw the first Starbucks on Kauai, I felt this warm feeling of satisfaction coming over me. A little bit closer to my goal.

Okay, that's weird. Random roosters hanging out in the middle of a shopping development.

All three stores on the island turned out to have parking in front, requiring me to wait for the best photo. This waiting was in conflict with my desire to get back to the airport so I could try to take an earlier flight back to HNL, and then to Maui, on a standby basis.

Geez, even the cops wear Hawaiian shirts.

Made it onto the 4:55 flight back to HNL, and the next flight to Maui. Whew.

I waited too long to look for a hostel found nothing, so I decided I needed an HHR. I had an Enterprise reservation, but they didn't have any HHRs, so I had to switch to Avis. For $30, using the HHR to sleep in was a great deal as long as I found a safe place. After a burrito and two Starbucks, I bought a sheet and pillow from the Wal-Mart and went to the Home Depot parking lot across the street, where an employee was iffy about whether they cared about overnight parking. He said the cop did patrol, but that I might be okay if there was no trouble. Seeing three other cars there, I took my chances and was not bothered. I did have to move farther back around 4:00 AM when workers started to arrive tho.

It was chillier than I expected. I had not brought an undershirt expecting to sleep shirtless, but I had to keep my t-shirt on anyway, which would reduce its life-until-washing. Even had to put my jeans, and, more disappointingly, socks on. I had hoped to let the socks air out during the night. Finally, the pillow, which was more expensive than the one I usually buy for $2.82, was too soft for my head, but this worked out because I was able to return it in the morning without feeling cheap.

April 21

At 5:17 the sky was already starting to lighten, but I needed more sleep. I went ahead and headed over to the Starbucks so I could warm the car, though it did not warm much in those few minutes driving.

At 6:30 I wasn't sure if I had slept enough, but I decided to get going anyway because the uncertainty of how much time it would take to to get to Wenatchee and crossing the border. Unfortunately, just as I was about to get ready to take a photo of the store, I man in about the biggest consumer vehicle, other than a Hummer, a Ram 2500, Big Horn Edition, pulled into the parking spot. I had to ask him to back up, and he did so despite giving me a suspicious or impatient look, but I screwed up and forgot to put the battery in my camera. When I went back to the car to get it, I guess the man lost his patience and pulled back into the store. I hoped he would get his coffee and go, but he sat down.

I couldn't be too irritated at the man, since he had initially moved, even if reluctantly. But he must have said something to the baristas, because when I pulled in front of the store to wait for him to leave, I could see them staring at me thru the window. That, I was irritated about, that the man had decided to be suspicious.

Around 7:00 another man walked into the store, and the first man turned to him. Not a good sign. Sure enough, the second man sat down and started talking to the first, I had the feeling they might be there a long while. Since the other two spaces in the building were still empty, I began to suspect construction, though I would expect a contractor to know better than to park right in front. Regardless, after another 18 minutes I decided I was cutting it to close and had to leave. Besides that new store, I wanted to reshoot four other stores, and by the time I finished up at Post Falls and calculated the distance, I knew I was cutting it way too close.

It was a stressful drive along US-2 trying to go as fast as possible but slowing down for every oncoming car until I could see it was not a cop. Regardless, the slowdowns through towns were enough that by the time I approached Wenatchee it was clear I wasn't going to make it. Once I got phone reception, I called to find out about changing the flight. Perversely, and a little obscenely, it would have cost over $800 to rebook onto the flight leaving out of SEA that I was going to take anyway once the flight arrive from Vancouver. So I had to go for 8:35 the next morning, for about $200. I wasn't happy about it, but it was better that missing my flight outright.

On the bright side, I had time to shave. I had neglected to shave as I rephotographed and visited stores in a hurry, and my face had been itching something awful all day.

Besides rebooking the flight to HNL, I also had to push back my flights to LIHUE KAUAI, Maui, and Hilo, another $105, making the trip total over $800--hideously expensive. If I did not end up reaching my goal of 99%, then that trip to Hawaii would have been a waste, and I'd be pretty pissed.

Mother bitches! I stopped to rephotograph North Bend, got the shots I wanted, and though I'd never have to go back there again. But as I left the parking lot, what did I see but a drive-thru coming soon!! AARRGHH!!! Why, why, why does North Bend need a Starbucks across the street from a Starbucks??? North Bend???

After sitting for a good while at Issaqua Meadows uploading photos and on hold with Hawaiian Airlines, most of the cars, except a fucking Hummer, cleared out of my photo all of sudden. I knew it wouldn't last, so I shot like a motherfucker from a variety of angles and distances. A young woman in a blue sweater, shoulder-length dirty blonde hair, maybe wearing glasses, attractive, asked "What are you taking a picture of?" I had no time to waste, nor even a desire to explain, so I ignored her. She stood there a second or two and hten kept walking. And you know what--it felt good to ignore the attractive woman for once, instead of the other way around.

Melanie was worthless, but I really needed that shower, especially before getting on the plane. Actually, the white kitten, badly in need of having its hair combed, was more interesting, despite the scratching.

Damn, but KEXP is a good station! Just the chance to listen to it some more takes a little of the sting out of having missed my flight. Fuck ClearChannel, fuck Infinity Broadcasting, and fuck that other mega company whatever it's name is!

Ooookay, three weeks about does it--time to change shirts. Actually, if I leave the funky shirt hanging for the three days I'm in Hawaii, maybe I can get a few more days out of it.

Aw, farndangle it! I knew I should have set that copy of Song of Susannah down next to that pole while photographing North Bend. Needless to say, I forgot it. Only reason I had it was because I had to wait for a stupidly parked car to move. Grrr...

Oh, no! I was all set to complete my plan to visit every Top Pot Donuts in the world, but the Wedgewood location closed at 6:00 on Saturday. Another disappointment in a long string of disappointments that day, and I felt mentally tired. So I took my take-out pork chops from Thompson's POV over to the Olive Way store and tried to engage the customers in a rousing chorus of "I Am the Happy Chicken Man", but they would not bite. And here I thought Seattlites were such a gay and jolly folk?

As a final injury that day, I had a shocking revelation!!! The Starbucks web site had listed the wrong zip code for a Spokane store, and my map had plotted it down by Walla Walla, causing me to miss it. In fact, I had passed right by it earlier that morning and thought about trying to rephotograph it, not realizing I had never been there. I was livid when I found out. Then I realized I had been to Spokane twice since the store opened! AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!! MOTHERFUCKERS!!! THAT MOTHERFUCKING CABAL WILL DO ANYTHING TO KEEP ME FROM MY GOAL!!! I HATE THEM I HATE THEM I HATE THEM!!!

Back to my usual spot on Battery St--I really need to write a book about the best places to camp-park (campark?) in cities around the country. One cool thing about the parking space I chose (of several in that row) was that, in the middle off the night, I woke up and raised my head, and thru the side window the first thing I saw was the shining Space Needle in the background and the bright neon of the Pink Elephant (car wash) just across the street. You don't get sights like that when waking up in most hotel rooms, buddy.

April 20

Alarm at 7:59 to move my car from the meter, with disappointment to see that my laptop had turned off before my Smallville download completed. But no time to worry about that--first order of business to head back to Pike Place Market and try for a better photo. Conditions were not ideal, but I will keep trying. Pike Place Market never gets old.

Second Top Pot, for breakfast. Still very filling, tided me over for a looong time.

Well, that's something I don't see every day, even at Starbucks. A man, perhaps young, perhaps not, with a face indicative of some condition like Down Syndrome, exited the Starbucks hurriedly and spastically, looking back as if pursued, and then Scrabbled toward the QFC. Odd.

In Edmonds, a traffic sign that reads "AVOIDING SIGNAL PROHIBITED"--what does that even mean???

After reshoots, reshoots, reshoot, it was almost noon when I reached the first new store of the day, in Lynnwood. I knew the manager was going to be trouble as soon as she said "Oh, I know who you are." It's hard to say whether it was contempt or disdain in her voice, but her tone was unmistakably negative. She did give up a sample, but with an attitude that made it seem like a great ordeal. I completely expected that she would not fill the sample cup, and I didn't even ask--I just bought a short. Nor did I give her a movie flyer--she would have just thrown it away. As a final insult, the bitch became the first in 2-3 years to try to prevent me from taking a photo despite knowing my purpose (in the U.S.). Of course, I had already snapped a photo, a bad one, very quickly, but she wasn't going to let me get a better one. Yet another negative Seattle-area experience, continuing the ironically odd pattern of shabby treatment in and around Seattle

@#$%^ Bothell QFC store--four attempts and I still can't seem to get a photo that I like!

Second off reaction in a row. This time the man in charge had been to my site and knew about the movie, but there still seemed to be something off about his demeanor. I had to wonder if it was me, my intensying headache and general haziness from fatigue.

My fatigue and headache had apparently done nothing to blunt my libido, because my reaction upon seeing the hostess at the Brown Bag Cafe was unmistakable. With all the blood rushing to one part of my body, I felt lightheaded and weak-kneed every time she leaned over. Even after paying for my biscuits and eggs, I chatted with her as long as possible, until some customers walked in, and I did my darndest to look her square in the eye as much as humanly (or should that be manly) possible.

Oh, goddammit!!! Because of the manager's tone at the Lynnwood store, I was distracted and forgot the three copies of the DVD I had taken. I didn't want to speak to her again, so I called the Terrace location and asked the assistant manager if she could have them transferred over, under the pretext that the store opened earlier on Saturday and I would want to visit early so I could get to Vancouver on time. Unlike the other manager, this partner was much more helpful, and about an hour later she called back to say the DVDs were ready and waiting for me.

Getting in and out of Moses Lake too much longer than I had hoped. The town was not directly on the interstate, and there was actually a rush hour across the bridge (a bottleneck) around 5:00 PM. Getting to Spokane before sundown would be iffy, but I need to eat, so I stopped at Inca Mexican Restaurant,"Best in the Basin"--okay, what's the basin.

A few hours later I came to regret waiting for that burrito plus all the reshooting I'd done. No, actually I regretted more that I had not headed out to eastern WA first like I had originally planned, in no small part because Orting had wanted me to wait at least 15 minutes (but probably more) for that coffee. The reason was that the new store in Ponderay was closing at 9:00, earlier than I would have expected for a Friday night. That meant I was going to be cutting it close, or not make it at all. Depended on how quickly I could get through Spokane. And that turned out to be not quick at all, because the Five Mile store was pretty far off the interstate, and the direct street to it was closed. All the while I worried about Ponderay, not even imagining that a Spokane store, Market & Garland, would close as early as 8:00 on a Friday. But it did, and thankfully the doors were still open and I didn't have to plead with the baristas.

But by the time I reached the interstate again it was clear I wouldn't reach Ponderay in time, and so I had to call the supervisor, and he agreed to leave coffee for me. On the bright side, my trip east had come just at the right time, because the new store in Hayden had opened that very day. Actually, I was a little disappointed, because had I known, I could have headed out east on Thursday and been the first customer on Friday morning.

Anyway, I lost an extra 5 minutes in Hayden because the store was on the wrong side an awkward intersection, and as I raced up US-95 as fast as the truck I was following would allow, I worried that the supervisor would renege, or that they would finish closing and he would take away the coffee. I didn't arrive 'til about 9:42, after a wrong turn, and thankfully the coffee was still there. Two, actually.

It had been days, maybe even a week, but the dizziness returned, during the drive up to Ponderay. Only mild this time, and didn't last long.

On the way back, spilled a bit of the comingled coffee from three stores on my jeans--not much, but enough that I had to take my jeans off and suck on them for a while to ensure I consumed enough for the prophecy.

It was around 10:30 by the time I got back to Hayden, and I wasn't going to get very far if I kept driving, so I decided to stay there and get better photos in the morning, of both stores. I parked as close to the old Hayden store as I could so I could finish downloading, and because that side of the parking lot was well-lit and completely empty, I worried that if I was still there after the Albertson's closed at midnight and all cars left, I'd be cop-hassled. But I only had to stay 'til around 1:00, I think, when my download finished, and I was able to move down to a quiet and dark residential street a block down from the new shopping center.

April 19

One silver lining in having stayed in Enumclaw--a pretty good breakfast from "the Kitchen".

Coincidentally enough, in this week's Lost, Sawyer walks into Kate's tent while he is changing, and he, too, cannot keep his eyes off her (more fully exposed) body. I can totally relate.

Oh, god, no! No, no, no, no, no!!! They didn't release a hip-hop version of Patrick Swayze's "She's Like the Wind", did they? They couldn't possibly have done something so absurd, could they?

Oh, that was a sweet moment. Waited maybe 10-15 minutes watching The Black Donnellys while waiting to upgrade my utterly awful photo of 176 & Meridian. I didn't think I was going to get a completely clear shot, so I was going to settle for one pickup in front (instead of two). But as soon as the second pickup moved, a lady pulled in with her burgundy minivan. I had to do it, I had to ask her to back the vehicle up, and just as she did so, the other pickup and the smaller car towards the end left. A completely clear shot!!!

12% grade on S 274 St... nice.

Oh, hey, "Bad Medicine"--hadn't heard that song in a while. Now it will always remind me of Phoebe aka Danger Girl.

Sweet views of downtown Seattle from West Seattle bridge and SR-99 northbound. Too bad no safe place to stop for a good photo.

I had been worried about visiting the new store on the 40th floor of the Columbia Center (Tower). I wasn't sure if there would be security. But my worries were for naught. The tower is much like a shopping center on the bottom levels, and the 40th floor is in fact a Sky Lobby. Photography was no problem, as visitors go up to the Starbucks to photograph the views all the time.

When I had reached Olympia and other areas near Seattle on Wednesday, I had not felt the glow, but once I got into the city proper I started to feel it, and once I hit downtown and started photographing... man, did I feel the glow big time. I just love Seattle and photographing downtown, so much that I didn't even mind the rush hour, it had been so long.

And before it seems that the buildings are all I love about Seattle, I have to mention the women. Oh, the women. So much better than L.A. women, and probably friendlier than New York women.

My best Seattle reception at Two Union Square, but there was a downside. The barista excitedly chatted with me, and then a customer who over heard also chatted with me, and then two guys stood in the doorway blocking my shot until I asked them to move. But it was too late, by about one minute. A ticket, $39. AARRGHH!!! I would have to have sold three DVDs to make up.

How and why is an alley closed???

Finally, time for Top Pot Donuts. I had planned to visit all three locations and have a donut from each, but after finishing that first donut, I knew it would be impossible--much too filling!

Finally revisited the Belltown store for a sample. For 7 years I had been haunted by the possibility that the coffee I spilled when I originally visited the store, before I was so diligent about going back to ensure I had consumed enough to ensure fullfillment of the prophecy.

I wasn't that hungry because of the donut, but I knew I would have to eat some more before bed, so I went ahead and stopped at Thompson's POV. They were out of meatloaf, so I had the oxtails. Really pricey, over $14, and the amount of the sides, red beans and rice, was relatively small. In fact, it seemed like a smaller amount than on previous occasions, and much, much smaller than what I would have gotten from a Latin American restaurant. I needed to find me one of those in Seattle, fo sho. There was another soul food restaurant in Houston that was pretty pricey--two, actually, and I had to wonder why it was that these restaurants, generally in underserved and economically depressed communities, were able to charge such high prices. The neighborhood, incidentally, must have gotten worse, because I saw more signs posted all around: "NO PUBLIC TOILETS"; "NO FREE WATER".

After a break to see Hitchcock's Spellbound at, of all places, the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), I had to decide between leaving for eastern WA right away or camping out in downtown Seattle. I chose the latter, so I could wander around in the wee hours, and my decision was validated by excitement. First Sierra the presumably homeless young woman who was vehement about how she hated staying the night on Aurora because the people there drank too much--she wanted me to drop her off a bit south of the city, under the 99 highway. A different homeless person, sex not quite clear, used a new trick to get mine, and other drivers attention--he/she pointed down wildly at my tire, as if there were something wrong, and when she got my attention asked for money for the hot dog stand. There was also the mystery of the whether the ever-lackluster Lusty Lady had really moved to the west side of 1st 20 years ago like the old attendant insisted. I was sure that it had been on the east side 7 years ago when I worked for Microsoft.

But the highlight of the evening, and the reason I love big cities in the wee hours--where and when else could you see a barefoot girl in a sun dress lie down in the middle of the street, 1st Avenue to be precise. Good thing she was with a date, who waved a red handkerchief and lifted her up off the street after one car veered off upon seeing her. Though clearly drunk, the young woman was attractive--I really didn't want to see her squashed.

April 18

During the night it had started to rain, and I bemoaned the effect the clouds would have on my potential photo. When I got up at 7:30, the sky was still overcast, but I began to see a hint of the possibility that the clouds might break. I killed time at the store working on adding to my article, and when it became apparent that the white pickup truck blocking my photo was not going to leave quickly, I went inside so I could keep an eye on its driver (for when he decided to leave).

I glanced and the bulletin board, and sure enough my mini flyer had been removed. I wondered if it had been done by the morning crew, but I suspected it was the shift supervisor from the night before who had given me borderline unfriendly looks. My flyer's removal was particular irritating since the board only had two flyers and was more than 60% empty. Seemed almost spiteful to intentionally keep other customers from learning about a film that Starbucks fans would naturally find interesting.

Waited over an hour for the pickup to move before giving up, and then when I came out of the restroom I saw the man packing up his stuff. But it was irrelevant, because the parking lot was full, and moreover the drive-thru line was unending. I couldn't use the photo.

Saw nothing appealing for breakfast on the way out of town, so I stopped in at the Winco Foods. Wackiness ensued after a cashier informed me I had left my keys at the register. They had been taken to customer service, where any hope I had of impressing the attractive (but with a nose-ring, not to my liking) hippie-like redhead (maybe brownish-red?) faded into dust as I repeatedly dropped the apple I was juggling along with the banana and yogurt.

Tillamook brand yogurt. I didn't think it was bad, just not to my liking.

Just before getting to I-5 I passed Sunrise Bagel and decided to pop it. But the place looked to clean, to sterile, to trendy perhaps, and I quickly left. Can't really say why. Maybe it was the frat-looking boys in line, or maybe the flat panel television on the back wall, which seemedd totally out of place in a bagel shop. The young woman with the laptop sitting on a couch was attractive enough, but she, too, seemed out of place. Or maybe it was just the donut still sitting in my stomach signalling that I didn't really need more bread, especially since I planned to visit all three Top Pot locations in Seattle later that day.

Oh no, this is not good. Finally got thru all 13 tracks on MCC's new album, and I am disturbed to find a number of religious references that seem uncharacteristic. Did she undero some sort of brain-damaging experience since her last album? I would need to read interviews with her in the hopes that she would say that the references wreren't meant to be explicitly religious.

Oh shit, it took a second listen but I think I got it--MCC's "Houston" is about Katrina. I'm definitely getting slower in my old age.

An interesting sign along SR-305 in Poulsbo, "DELAY OF 5 VEHICLES ILLEGAL. MUST USE TURNOUTS". I would see the same sign along some other Washington highways.

Interestingly enough, given Howard's comments towards the beginning of the film, as I photographed the new Poulsbo store there was a Homeland Security agent in a large white kidnap van parked near the store.

Another subfriendly reception, in Sequim this time. That makes two days in a row that I have driven a long-ass out-of-the-way distance (like the Oregon Coast) only to experience less-than-desirable welcomes. In the big cities is one thing, because you can't please everybody. But it would seem that a barista would at least have to appreciate that a person drove all the way out beyond the boondocks just to visit the store. More and I more I was thinking of taking the monetary hit and visiting stores incognito, except that would have a dual impact on my finances because I wouldn't sell any DVDs that way. I had to face it, if I wanted to sell DVDs and make traveling money, I'd have to put up with the subfriendlies.


From Sequim I raced all the way back so I reach Orting and Enumclaw with some light still in the sky. I had to stop and reshoot three stores right along my route, however, and so I was completely surprised when I reached Orting, snapped some photos, and found their door closed... at 8:00!!! AARRGHH!!! Just 8 minutes late!!! I put an article up against the window, and a barista had heard of me, but she wouldn't open the door. Wanted me to wait until they finished closing. Oh, I'd heard that story before, from the evil manager in Yakima. I didn't really think these were going to call the cops, but I had to leave anyway in the hopes of shooting Enumclaw with some light. Road was too slow, though, and I didn't make it, so I ended up getting fucked all around.

Inside Enumclaw the supervisor seemed really interested in my mission at first. But she was hot. I mean, really hot. I mean, Playboy model, high-end strip club calibre hot. The hottest barista I had seen in 170 stores during that trip, and quite possibly since Boise back in November. Her blouse revealed just the tiniest bit of cleavage when she bent over to look at my DVD, and I felt something a-stirring down below. I told myself repeatedly, look her in the eye, look her in the eye, but the pull of her bosom was just too strong. She must have noticed my eyes darting down at some point, because her demeanor changed completely. Instantly, she became dismissive, and talked curtly, as if to indicate that she wanted me to leave as quickly as possible "Okay, bye now, have a nice trip." and such. When I went back into grab my camera batteries, her expression and voice turned unmistakably sour as she asked "did you take pictures in here." I said no, just of the outside, and she quickly replied "Okay, bye, have a nice trip." or something like that. Bugs the hell out of me, how an attractive woman goes through the trouble of putting on make-up and making herself look as hot as possible but then becomes upset when a man dares to look.

I had planned to head from Enumclaw to Yakima via lesser highways, a shorter distance, but when I reached the store I decided I was already feeling too drowsy. Wandered around looking for food, but the baristas were correct--the only places open, other than yucky fast food, were bars. So I went for a different type of dinner, from QFC--banana + Boltbouse Farms brand fruit smoothie +... Kit Kat.

April 17

Woke up to an alarm for the first time in a while, because of a radio interview. Should have let the call wake me, b/c I was still pretty sleepy from the previous night's wee-hour wanderings. After sitting in traffic, then in front of the now-remondeled West Linn store doing the interview, the morning proceeded to drag on and turn into afternoon before I had even visited the 2nd of two new stores. Reshoots consumed a lot of time, but much was also consumed writing an article for The words did not come easily--I felt blocked for some reason, despite the coffee.

On the bright side, the delays allowed for some sun to break through the yucky clouds so I could get better photos.

The manager at Nimbus recommended a restaurant down the street, El Tapatio. The way she described it, I was under the impression it was a combination Mexican/Chinese restaurant. I hadn't seen too many of those combo joints around and was curious. But when I got there, it appeared that the restaurants were separate: El Tapatio and Great Wall.

Had to stop working on my article before having a chance to revise because all of a sudden I face time pressure. I needed to head down to Wilsonville, where Hollywood Video happens to be located, to deliver a copy of the film to a lady who writes for an affiliated site, Alex or the publicist could have sent a copy, but I thought it advantageous to get it into her hands immediately so she could watch it and interview me before the release day. Unfortunately, by the time Friday rolled around, she had not yet contacted me, and I feared that she had decided to pass on an interview and that Hollywood would not carry the film.

I made my fourth and final Oregon stop for gas in Tillamook, and for the third time the attendant was female, white, young, and reasonably attractive. In all my time gassing up in New Jersey, where full service is also mandatory, I don't think I ever encountered a single female attendant. Unfortunately, this one had a really crappy attitude, and when I came back from the restroom I discovered the fucking bitch had filled the tank, $28.04 instead of the $13.00 I had requested, thus costing me somewhere around a buck (as the gas was cheaper in Longview, WA).

After my Tillamook stop I came up with a new word to describe the reactions of baristas who pretended to be friendly and appreciate my mission but really just wanted me to leave as soon as possible--"subfriendly".

A great view of nature, contrasted with an evil bulldozer in the foreground, primed to continue the destruction of the environment with construction of yet another unnecessary development.

Tillamook Bay

At the Warrenton store, where the barista initially seemed curious about the film but then turned subfriendly, a group of young women was sitting around a table, and they were joined by more and more arriving, holding books. I asked it it was a book club, exclusive to women, and one replied that it was a Bible Study group. I quickly turned away and went back to sugaring my coffee. As I left, I was saddened that all those seemingly nice women were undergoing the brain damage that comes with religous indoctrination, and I wished I could do something to stop it.

Downtown Astoria seemed interesting, with restaurants I was curious to try out, and even a couple of strip clubs or go-go bars, Annie's Tavern and Desdemona. I had to pass them all up though in my hurry to reach the Longview store before sundown.

Another town named John Day? Who was this guy???

Heh, a cute combo, Coffee and Tanning, at a place called Some Like It Hot, in Clatskanie.

Bridge to Longview.

Reached the Longview store at 8:12 and began shooting immediately. A deliveryman might have been asking me why I was photographing, or he might have been talking on one of those Trek-like hands-free phones--I couldn't hear either way, and I just ignored him.

Finally found a suitable flight, not to White Horse or Anchorage, but back to Hawaii. Good, because I needed those stores to get to 99%, though I really wanted those 6 Alaska stores too.

Geez Louise, Mary Chapin Carpenter's new album had been out since March 6 and I had not been aware.

It took me more than an hour to book the Hawaii flights, by which time it was well past 9:00 PM. By the time I found some food in town (a donut), it was past 9:30, and I figured I might as well just stay there and get a better photo in the morning. I picked a parking spot along Commerce Ave, and I noticed what appeared to be the same cop circling around a series of blocks over and over. I also noticed "NO CRUSING ZONE" signs posted all around--not just downtown, but extending as far out as where the Starbucks was. In the middle of the night, when I woke up and drove around town, I only made one circle before finding a spot closer to the Starbucks, because there were plenty of cops, both Kelso and Longview, to be seen all around.

April 16

Up shortly after 7:00 and immediately rushed back to the Tire & Lube center for some tires. The Starbucks was conveniently located across the street (or is that the other way around). I was surprised to find T-Mobile so soon after its opening, and in such a remote location, and I ended up staying longer than I expected. But that's okay, because I managed to sell another DVD just by having them sitting there.

Jesus Christ how many fucking religious stations are there in this city??? Like every other one on the dial!

Blew through the two new Boise stores in a hurry to reach Prineville by sunset, but the sign for European Day Spa caught my eye. I had a good vibe from the young therapist available, and she was willing to offer a half-hour even though not on the printed menu. Good massage--she was much more accomodating than I expected. She goes on my list (though I don't expect to pass thru Boise much) but what was really interesting was the shower, unlike any I had seen before. There were a total of six nozzles, three on each side, shooting water. Kinda interesting, for a first-time experience. A little puzzling, though, figuring out how to turn the water off--turned out it was controlled by a key outside the room.

Wow, how long ago must that Sav Mor gas station have closed, to advertise gas at $98.9???

First gas after crossing over into Portland was in Baker City. Oregon mandates full service gas, and I'd gassed up in the state plenty of times before, but this was the first time I could remember young and attractive female attendant. Wowsers.

Started getting extremely drowsy, but I hated to waste the chance at shooting the store with some light.

Damn, I noticed too late that I could have exited I-84 sooner and taken a 20-mile shorter route via US-26.

View point on US-26.

John Day must have been a heck of a dude. I passed a town named after him, a John Day river, another town named Dayville, and the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

What??? The Prineville store had closed at 7:30!!! Why, why, why??? I went ahead and set up the tripod and took some photos, a good thing, because as I did so I noticed a head moving inside the store. I called, and the barista picked up, and I explained my predicament. She had no problem selling me a DoubleShot thru the drive-thru window--no convincing was necessary. I still considered staying the night for a better photo, but then I realized that the store faced west, so I wasn't going to get the best photo until sunset anyway. So I left for Portland, a more fun place to spend the night anyway.

Felt fine for about half the 146 mile distance to Portland and then I started to feel the dizziness, but I lowered the window and managed to push thru most of it. When I finally spotted a rest area, about 50 miles away, I slept until about 1:30 and felt much better.

April 15

Became a little concerned when I passed a strange brown moving object that at first appeared an animal writhing in pain on the ground. But as I got closer, I could see that it was a horse, and as it got up it appeared fine. I'm guessing it was rolling around on purpose, maybe to scratch its back? Must suck not to have hands to scratch yourself with.

Over three hours after I left the Wal-Mart, I reached the Starbucks in Steamboat Springs. Yes, parts of the drive were pretty, but I had no longing to repeat the trip. After the long drive, it was a little disappointing that the assistant manager did not know who I was and expressed some incredulity at my story despite my having the DVD around my neck and copies in my hand. But the manager happened to be there, too, working drive-thru, and he had heard of me and seemed genuinely pleased that I had come buy.

A customer and the manager recommended a Mexican restaurant named Azteca's downtown, but when I passed a place calling itself "Freshie's" and serving breakfast, I decided to give it a try. I liked the vibe of the place, in addition to its name--the waitresses seemed attractive enough, but not in an Abercrombie & Fitch kinda way. I did notice, however, that the clientele appeared all White, with the exception of one young woman who, as I expected, did not consider herself "Caucasian" and gave me a strange awkward look when I asked her. I figured she might not appreciate my question, but sometimes you have to break a few eggs for blogging accuracy.

Holy cow, a night speed limit in Colorado! I thought only TX had those.

Passed the town of Wamsutter--only relevant because, when I worked for Input-Output, the big survey we were preparing for was in Wamsutter.

Cashier at the Exxon said a bar-b-q place was pretty much my only non-chain food option at the Rock Springs exit where the Starbucks was. Didn't feel like bar-b-q, so I went with something easy and hoped it wouldn't be too yucky, Pizza Hut.

I was really drowsy as I headed to Evanston, and I wondered if I would make it without a nap. Just out of curiosity I calculated the distance from Evanston to SLC, and I was stunned and tickled to learn it was only 80 miles! That was the best news I'd had in days! I was so used to the long ass drive from Denver to SLC that it hadn't occurred to me that I had already burned a lot of miles on the way to Steamboat Springs and then Rock Springs. I soon passed a parking area, and it was very tempting, but with just 64 miles to Evanston I decided to push a little farther. I was surprised to see yet another parking area maybe 20 miles down the road, and I almost pulled in, but I told myself I can always drive 40 miles in daylight. I'm... not... that... old!!!

Goddamn kids!!! Doing 85 MPH+ on a winding mountain downgrade. Even I'm not that crazy!

Sweet view of the mountains on the approach to SLC.

Rushed into the new SLC store in a hurry to get out and get up to Logan before the sun set, but the store was fairly empty, so a couple of customers overheard me telling the baristas about the film. They say the DVDs in my hand, and after asking some questions decided to buy one. My first sale to non-baristas!

With that delay, reached Logan before sunset looked really doubtful, especially since I had to get off interstate. So when I spotted the Peruvian El Chalan, just a few blocks from getting on the interstate, I figured I might as well get some good grub even if it meant spending the night in Logan.

Another sweet view of mountains, heading north on I-15 this time.

As I neared Logan it looked like I was still going to have light. As I cleared the mountains and hit the valley, with nine miles to go, it was clear that I was going to have light, but I suddenly wanted more. The Peruvian meal hadn't been more than blah, and I was really regretting those 10 minutes I lost, which would have made a big difference in availably light. I finally rounded the curve into town where the highway became Main Street, an from that point the remaining miles were agonizingly slow. Between the speed limit, the traffic, and the red lights, I could almost see the sun setting minute by minute.

At least I go ta decent enough shot that I could move on towards Pocatello. Starting the day there would increase my chances of reaching Portland by Monday night. I like spending the night in Portland--many fun and interesting memories.

Rest area conveniently located about 15 miles south of Pocatello. I slept until about 2:07 and then headed up into the city and drove through town. Almost completely dead. Only excitement was a couple of cop cars around some car that had been sitting in a parking lot. But when I circled around, they were gone--no arrest, no beat down.

April 14

Interesting. I received an e-mail stating that the sender enjoyed the movie (and giving advice on finding cheap accomodations), but unsigned and coming from the e-mail address dvdmovie1. Now, it's possible that the person did not have an existing e-mail address, or, more strangely, actually used dvdmovie1. But that's unlikely. I have to guess that the person created the e-mail address in order to hide her identity. Which begs the question--what is it about me that was so scary? And was that perception mostly created by the movie, and not my in-person demeanor? Prior to the film, I received plenty of e-mails from people I had met at stores, baristas and non-baristas, and none had created fake e-mail addresses. So it must be my portrayal in the movie, then?

I wasn't sure if the Wal-Mart Tire & Lube opened as early as 7:30 on Saturday, so I slept until 8:07 before rushing off to Lakewood. Stopped to reshoot 16th & California, and also the cool Sheridan store in Edgewater where wackiness ensued. As soon as I pulled into the parking lot I noticed a duck looking at me. In that second or two a lady pulled into the parking lot. Fearing she would park in front of the Starbucks I started running towards the store shooting wildly trying to get a good shot. When I finished and glanced at the lady's face, it was apparent I had startled and/or frustrating her as much as she frustrated me with her untimely arrival.

The duck came, presumably, from the lake that sits opposite the Starbucks, offering a great view!

Oh, foo-blubber! As interesting as wandering up and down Colfax always is, I must have cruised too long because I overslept and did not reach the Wal-Mart for my oil change until close to 9:00, and wasn't out of there 'til almost 10:30, which means I lost many hours of the best light for my reshoots.

The reshoots dragged on as I found myself waiting at many stores for cars to move so I could get a better shot. It looked like I was going to burn the entire day, but since I was still thinking about how to handle that Prince George opening on the 26th, I didn't mind killing time. But all I had to eat was an apple, banana, juice, yogurt, donut, and power bar, and by afternoon I was getting lightheaded. I was holding off on lunch because I had a craving for a hot dog from Mustard's Last Stand. I finally made it, around 4:00, and the food helped, but my headache persisted for a different reason--withdrawal. I had made the mistake of drinking the coffee from that last store the night before instead of saving it for the morning. That meant I was at about 19 or 20 hours without coffee, and I could feel the withdrawal headache setting on fast! When I finally got up to a new store, in Thornton, and had that coffee, it was a great relief!

Comic break at Borders.

Reached Johnstown just in time to catch some good light, and then I rushed across the highway to the Centerra shopping center to see if I could catch Disturbia. I was 45 minutes too late, so I went to look for dinner, at a place called Biaggi's recommended by a barista. I ordered the spaghetti and meatballs, overpriced at 10.99 (+ tax), and I gave the waitress a twenty. Then I gave her two more so she could give me a ten back as change, but she thought it was a tip and kept it. That fucking bitch, I thought! It wasn't bad enough the spaghetti cost $12, but she wanted a $2 tip on top of that for taking the order? Fuck that, I thought, and just asked her to cancel the order. No way was I going to ask for my money back and then eat whatever food was brought back, with who knows what type of spit or filth in it. What a waste of time, made even worse by the tight parking situation. These assholes didn't help.

This was cool, though.

Did not want to start the drive to Steamboat Springs that late and then risk tiring out and not finding a place to park, so I hung out at the Starbucks 'til almost 10:00 and then headed over to the Wal-Mart Supercenter.

April 13

No no no no no!!! NPR reports that a class of drugs that had become ineffective against gonhorrea in Hawaii and California has now been declared ineffective throughout the rest of the country, leaving just one class of drugs for treatment. That really sucks. If bacteria become resistant to that last class of antibiotic, I'll have real worries. I might have to restrict my extratesticular activities to high school and college virgins exclusively.

Halfway decent biscuits from the Donut Shop Plus, and then I was on my way towards Glenwood Springs, after a stop in Rifle to reshoot and to do a radio interview. Pretty store in Glenwood Springs, and a very congenial manager. Good sun too, though that changed as I continued west. At least there wasn't much snow, though, I was not much delayed and was able to meet the folks from Mania TV about when we had planned (after rescheduling, that is). As if the 16th Street Mall didn't have enough stores already, I passed yet another coming soon one.

I had meant to eat after the Mania interview, but then, after an overcast morning and early afternoon, the sun decided to come out, and I had to suffer my hunger for the chance at better photos--had a ton of Denver area-reshoots to do. Started getting lightheaded, though.

I was not actually in the mood for a burger, but when I passed CityGrille on Colfax and saw the banner advertising the "best burger in Denver", I decided to put that claim to the test. But when I walked in and saw a sign for a deluxe burrito, I quickly changed my mind. Couldn't have it, though. For some reason that the bartendress could not explain, the burrito was not available to go. Strange. But the burger did not disappoint--no sirree! I had to say, damn, that's a good burger.

I had already given up on finding a massage after sunset on a Friday night, but at the last minute Mila called me back. After finishing my reshoots I was able to head over there for an 8:30 appointment. I was expecting that would give me enough time for an interview with, but Alex did not call until about 8:35. Still, Mila was able to take me as late as 9:00, and I made it just in time for a pretty darn good massage. She even cut me a break by offering me a half-hour rate, which she said she didn't do.

Just stayed right where I had parked for the massage, in front of what seemed a combination office and residential building on Logan, next to a dumpster. Dumpsters are great for blocking people's view of the back of my car.

Usual late-night wanderings along Colfax--always people up and about at all hours and the occasional blare of sirens and cop cars speeding off in some direction or another. This time the center of attentionw was the gas station at Colfax and Colorado, with about 4 cop cars there. Fun stuff.

April 12

Up at 6:05 expecting that by the time I finished watching Lost the sun would be out, but the episode was not up yet! Curse the bones of the ancient elders, I said! At least I was able to watch Friday Night Lights, or most of it, until the sun peeked out over the hills. But my photo was marred by a car parked in front of the store. It was odd that the car was there because there were no customers in the store, and the Baja Fresh wasn't even close to open that early. Later, just as the sun peeked out, I learned that the car belonged to a barista. For shame--baristas aren't supposed to park in front of the store!

Heh--that's pretty funny. I finished rephotographing the Main & I-15 store and got back in my car to hear the XXX (Lenny Black???) skit about the two Starbucks across the street from one another.

And something else unusual and amusing, a combination Chinese restaurant/donut shop.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram interview.

Oh, hell yeah!!! The Producers in Las Vegas starring... David Hasselhof! It's soooo too bad I have to reach Denver my morning and will have to miss it.

Serious storm blowing into town, with winds strong enough to blow dust all over the place, including my eyes and even into my car. Touchpad ended up all gritty. But I was more worried about whether the storm would slow me down, as I was running out of time to reach Denver.

Third new Las Vegas store in a shopping center still under construction, and with construction trucks marring my photo. Damn, Vegas, you growing too much!!!

Snow as I neared I-70 on I-15, and then some of I-70. And how I was soooo hoping not to see any more snow for the rest of the year.

AARRGHH!!! After wating years for the right moment to make the long drive to Prince George, a third store appeared on the locator, but I finally called and learned it won't open until the 26th!!! That's about a week too late, unless I somehow kill time, like by flying to Hawaii and Alaska and playing Scrabble or something. Grrr...

Whew--thought that cop was coming for me. I was following a guy, and we couldn't have been doing more than a few miles faster than 75 MPH, so my guess was he saw me glancing down at my laptop screen. But after a tense minute as he picked up speed and caught up with the group, he ended up pulling someone else over. In Richfield at the gas station I asked the older man I'd been following if he had noticed why that other guy got pulled over, but neither one of us had any idea.

Rushing to try to reach Denver, so I had to go for the first few available, KFC. Nasty as ever.

Wasn't quite dizzy and disorientec as I reached Clifton, as it was only about 8:30 Mountain, 7:30 Pacific, but I could feel that I wasn't going to be able to drive another three hours. Since I was probably going to miss my 8:00 AM interview, I figured I might as well stay in the area and get a day photo. I thought it would be quicker to head to the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Grand Junction than to drive around Clifton at such an early hour to find suitable parking, but when I reached the Wal-Mart a sign prohibited overnight parking. And it wasn't a Wal-Mart rule, but rather a city ordinance. Bah. Thankfully, there was a side street not too far away next to an apartment complex and theater.

April 11

Well, foobers! Up at 6:35 to the chirping of pudgy black-feathered little birds hopping up the hill I was sleeping next to. I rushed off towards Sonora in the hopes of reshooting the two old stores, plus the new store, in the sweet morning sunlight. Only after a short while, when the rain drops started hitting my car, I realized that, once again, the morning was overcast. And my hopes that the clouds would part were dashed by the radio report of more rain.

Finally had a chance to stop at Sue's Angels Creek Cafe, that I had I made a mental note of the last time I rolled through Angels Camp. Unlike most cafes I'd been to that served biscuits, the menu at Sue's explicitly stated that you could have toast or biscuits with the standard egg breakfasts.

Grrr... drove right past the new Oakdale store, not quite yet open.

Oooookay. Today's lesson is: Hot coffee poured onto the open wound on your thumb = bad!!!

11 days since last laundry, in Houston, and I finally had to break out a fourth pair of socks. The first pair had reached toxicity several days earlier, but the second and third had remained below the odor threshold for longer than I expected. By throwing a fourth pair into the mix, I was sure I could get one or two more days out of #2, and #3 was going to be good for many days yet.

Barely reached Victorville in time to reshoot several stores while there was still like, and then visit the two new locations. It was almost 8:00 by the time I finished, and I wouldn't be able to reach Henderson before the Starbucks closed, so I figured I might as well pop into the some strip club that didn't seem to have a name, just "Gentleman's Club". Well, after just a couple of minutes I decided the place didn't deserve a name--it was too much of a dive even for me. Grabbed a quick burrito and sped up the interstate, wondering if I would escape the dizziness that night.

To the best of my knowledge, only one store in all of California I hadn't visited!

Oh, but that burrito was nasty! I think they put all types of yucky sauces in there. Let's avoid Los Ranchos in the future. When I got to Barstow, I parked near a Starbucks so I could continue downloading, and as I was getting ready for bed I saw a black cat prowling about. I don't like animals, or cats, but I had not yet dumped out the rest of the burrito, so I said what the hell. When I opened my window, the cat scurried away, but as soon as I threw the food out onto the pavement it must have smelled it right away, because it came slowly creeping back. First it nibbled up the bits that had spattered, then it started on the main part of of the burrito. But hours later, when I woke up and checked on my download, most of the burrito was still there. Now that's a nasty burrito, when not even a cat will finish it.

No disorientation that night, but something different. I'd felt it earlier in the day, a sort of pit towards the back of my skull. Maybe this is normal, except it hurt when I put even a little pressure in the pit. Later, in the middle of the night, when I woke up, just slightly touching the pit stang like heck. I really hoped it was just a pimple, and not something dangerous.

April 10

More dissatisfactory service, this time unrelated to my project. I was just hanging out at the Davis & Stevenson store watching 24, and when I was ready to leave I went to the restroom first and left my water on the table. Barely a minute, I'd say, and the water was already cleaned up. I asked for another, and the barista who had taken it apologized, but when I tried to explain that I had complained about this before, another barista became defensive and then dismissive, wholly unresponsive to my concerns.

Sold my first DVD, whoo hoo!!!

After reshooting Duckhorn I missed my exit for the next store, but it worked out because I stumbled across the Uptown Cafe (and Pizzeria), a little bigger than a hole-in-the-wall, but with that definite type of feel and charm. While I looked at the menu I made eye contact with a strange little man eating at a table. He said hello, a strange act from somebody dining, to say hello to a stranger. Couldn't get a read on the guy, so I just avoided looking in his direction. Biscuits were decent, and home fries, with cheese and onions, were, as promised, good (even though I don't like onions).

Something different at Arden & Morse--not a barista, not a security guard, but rather the property manager questioning why I was taking photographs.

It had only been three days, so I could have gone a few more without a shower, but with a possible three days before reaching Denver, and no places on the way that were likely to offer good massage choices, I decided to see what the Euro Spa I passed on Arden had to offer. $30/30 min was a good deal, but they were busy. So I stopped at their other location, not far off the interstate in Rocklin. The massage was just okay, nothing to write home about, but what was really disappointing was the pricey nature of the oddly-named Italian cafe (Strings). $11.80 for spaghetti and meatballs. I made a mental note that Rocklin was a pricey area, but with no more stops to Reno, I had to eat.

Oops!!! Forgot about that 4:30 interview--should have skipped the massage and spaghetti so I could reach Reno in time. Just lucky that I had phone reception in Truckee.

Back in Flag City I had mentioned to the manager that I planned to hit Sonora later that day. A customer overheard and warned me that SR-108 was closed. My shortest route was actually SR-4, but when I got to Reno I checked the Cal-Trans site anyway and discovered that the pass along 4 was closed, so I had to take 88, 20 miles longer. Later, when I actually reached California, there was a big sign alerting drivers to the closure of Ebbetts Pass, so I wouldn't have gotten stuck anyway.

It was barely 8:00 PM in Carson City, and I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep for hours, so it was with trepedation that I headed out towards Sonora. I knew the drive at night along the curvy hilly highway would be rough, and sure enough it was hard to focus at first. But at some point, while listening to Fresh Air, and after lowering the window (and turning on the heater), I regained my focus, and I didn't have any trouble all the way to Jackson. It was 10:00 PM by then, and I didn't want to push it, so I looked for a place to park. Jackson was very small, and no parking spaces seemed suitable, but just on the edge of town I decided to try this side road, and I found a row of cars parked next to some industrial area.

April 9

6:50 and overcast. How can this be??? Three overcast mornings in SoCal ruining my photos, and now an overcast morning in the Bay Area!!! Curses!!!

Hah!!! Another example of the Starbucks everywhere effect, as the new store in Union City, at Mission & Tamarack, happened to be at the very same apartment where I regularly went to get a massage while working in Hayward. Same thing happened back in Houston, where a Starbucks opened less than a mile away from where I had worked for six months. Rule of thumb--if you wait long enough, a Starbucks will open nearby.

NBC turned out well--first, I got on their live mid-morning news, and then we taped a segment for later than evening and the weekend.

One of the segments on NBC11's mid-morning newscast for Monday's was called "The Quills" and featured local booksellers discussing current books. One of the day's offerings was a book called Thermopylae, relevant, I suppose, because of the recently-released film 300. After the segment, a lady named Kathy took the bookseller back to the "Green Room" to pick up his books, and then she took me over to the studio to wait at a table. I was amused to find on the table a small piece of paper on which the bookseller had written some notes about what he would say--"Democray - not, totalitarinism, not. Monotheism - not - Axis."

From San Jose I had to detour through San Francisco to pick up 50 copies of the DVD and then drop off the poster at Alex's. I had rushed as much as possible, but of course I caught a lot of rush hour traffic eastbound. By the time I made it to Benicia, Brentwood, and then a backtrack to Vacaville, the sun was setting. No rush to get to Sac-town at that point, so I quickly checked movie listings and learned Grindhouse was playing a mile or two away. I rushed over there and was able to pick up the film almost right where I had left off on Sunday night. Afterwards, the street across from a Starbucks in same parking lot, Davis & Stevenson, was suitable for parking and downloading.

Nothing really special about the random taqueria in Antioch where I ordered a flauta, except that I received a $2 bill as change--cool! I think I will keep it.

April 8

Rush to Scrabble tournament.

From Scrabble I stopped at Dorsey's Locker for a vegetable platter (trying to consume less meat) and then rushed to Alameda (catch the evening light) and then Century Landing to see Grindhouse. Mistake. I shoudl have known better than to see a movie like that, that attracts young audiences, at a ghetto cinema (any cinema where many patrons talk thru the movie). After an hour of that crap I left and exchanged my ticket for The Hoax. Only a few patrons--none talking. Then I headed over to my park in Fremont, the one where I slept for weeks until I was able to move into a rented room close to my Hayward job. No rabbits.

April 7

Oh, come on!!! This is Southern California, so why has every single morning been overcast??? I couldn't sleep past 6:26, so I headed to the old Cajalco store and killed time waiting for the sun to burn thru some clouds. By 8:30 it still hadn't happened, and I got restless to get a move-on.

Unlike the previous three days, the clouds did not part, and the entire day was overcast, thus marring countless photos.

Random pancake craving well into the afternoon, triggered (and satisfied) by Flappy Jack's.

Finally scored a great massage, though I had to backtrack a bit, to Corona, but it was totally worth it.

Racing up the 101 towards Ventura, 8:00 PM and dark, but no dizziness. Wow!!!

Checked again, but still no info on the song playing in the bar when Kate bought Cassidy a drink.

At 9:34, just before crossing the Santa Barbara County line, I felt my first hint of dizziness. The feeling increased, and at first I was not sure if the winding nature of the highway helped or hurt. Later I decided that it hurt, especially trying to keep up with an SUV doing 80 MPH. Shortly before reaching the rest area an additional factor was added, gusts of wind. I had been unsure of whether I should try and push the additional 40 miles to Santa Maria, but the effect of the wind on my car, and the resulting effect of that on my ability to focus, prompted me to pull over.

Dreaming, rabbits, bunnies, doggie (real?), explosion, plane crash, interview face

April 6

At 7:05 I felt ungachungaschlish, and the reason was clear--I had only had coffee from three new stores the previous day. I wanted more sleep, but the rescheduled interview was in 10 minutes, so I bucked up and rushed over to the Starbucks so I could do the interview from there.

Yuck, yuck, yuck, still an overcast sky in the morning.

In sharp contrast to Downey, the staff at the new Paramount store not only left my flyer up, but they highlighted the release date and web site info!

My camera caught the attention of some skateboard punks outside a store in Redondo Beach. One of them glared at me, while another said something I couldn't understand. I shouted back, I wasn't photographing you. "Are you sure?" he retorted, and I said yeah. I had to resist my natural inclination to tell him to mind his business because, as long as I was holding an $800 camera, I was in a vulnerable position. Even if I managed to set my camera down to defend myself in case he came at me, the other kids would most certainly take the camera. It seemed like a no-win situation to pursue the aggressive approach unless I carried a weapon, and this would introduce the possibility of trouble with the police.

Pollo Grill, not so good chicken.

Oh, great. As I crawled towards the CBS studio wondering if I would arrive by 5:30, I was far from heartened by the sirens of a passing suburban with the words "BOMB SQUAD" on it. Still, I made it in time, though the segment itself was far from exciting. I just hoped it helped sell DVDs. One of the publicists, though, was hot!!! I think maybe that's why the camerawoman had to shoot me from the waist up.

With only 20 ounces of coffee in two days, by 6:00 PM I was really starting to jones. Expecting heavy traffic east on I-10, I had hoped to catch The TV Show at one of the nearby theaters to kill time. But it wasn't playing 'til 7:30, and I didn't want to wait that long while my headache worsened. So I decided to brave I-10, and I was amazed to find almost no delays out to my exit in Pomona. Wow!!!

Interesting. As soon as I crossed the San Bernardino Count line on Mission Ave, from Pomona to Montclair, there were two massage places right away. Different laws, maybe?

Okay, I'm really hating those fucking black SUVs with the white hoods. Black plus white = cop in my mind, and it's just wrong to be driving around looking like a fucking cop.

Okay, that is the third time I've heard the expression "Wait for it." in the past year. First was in Superman Returns. Then in an episode of Justice League, which actually precedes the film by years. Is this expression becoming trendy?

Down in Corona I had my worst customer service experience of the trip so far when the supervisor dismissed me with a wave of her hand and told me to wait on the other side of the store. She was down on the ground, presumably in front of the safe about to count money or something, and she was basically telling me that I looked like I was about to rob her, that I looked like a criminal. I didn't even bother to wait and explain who I was. I just pulled out money and asked for a coffee. Since they didn't have any brewed, I grabbed a DoubleShot and tossed three bucks on the counter, saying I wanted to leave as quickly as possible. Of course, 30 seconds later I was back in the store to retrieve my camera battery, and as I left again a different barista came out apologetically with a drink coupon.

Across the interstate from the next store was a Wal-Mart. Not a Supercenter, but open all night nonetheless. But for some reason the lights and the traffic, cars driving thru the lot, prevented me from sleeping, and I left. I went back across the freeway and found what appeared to be relatively new residential areas. I wandered around a bit before finding a suitable space, and I noticed more rabbits than I had ever seen in my life. They were all over, in yard and out on the street.

April 5

Hmmm... I wonder if there will ever come a time when I see the sign for I-10 West Santa Monica and not think of the Everclear song.

Interesting. A different type of blueberry scone at the 26th & Santa Monica store.

Yuck. Another overcast morning, although that did give me an excuse to hang out in Santa Monica waiting for light and watch Friday Night Lights.

Took me a long time to update my site and catch up on other stuff, so much so that I was in Santa Monica until noon, by which time the sun had come out. Finally! Time to catch up on dozens of reshoots. L.A. being L.A., I suppose that I should not have been surprised when two people thought I was a papparazzo and asked who I was photographing.

After three days of seraching in vain for a suitable masseuse, I decided I really needed a shower and went to some Thai massage place on Melrose along my Starbucks-reshooting route. The coupon in the L.A. Weekly was slightly deceptive--the $35 was for the Thai massage, not for Swedish. But the girl gave me a $5 discount off the $50 price. Still, for $45 I got a damn good massage, and a loooong shower that made me feeel huggable again.

By lucky coincidence there happened to be a Colombian restaurant a block from the massage place, La Fonda Antioquena. Unfortunately, the steak and chicharron were far from the best I'd had.

Make that three people--this one straight up asked if I was papparazzi.

Turns out using most of the day to catch up and reshoot photos worked out just fine, because the publicist set up an interview with the local CBS affiliate, huge in a market as large as L.A. But they couldn't shoot until 5:30 on Friday, so I would have some time to kill.

After my lack of sleep Wednesday night, I called it a very early night on Thursday, around 9:00. My parking space was a first, next to an oil derrick! And this was just down Long Beach Blvd from the Starbucks, on the other side of the 405. Who woulda thunk it?

April 4

Yuck. Overcast sky, ruining the photos I was hoping to take in the morning.

After almost two weeks of more-or-less constant rushing with only brief respites, I finally had plenty of free time in my schedule to sort of relax and catch up on the 70+ e-mails that had been building up in my inbox. Oh, I had responded to most of them, but I had not had time to properly categorize them and make sure I'd addressed every issue. Anyway, it felt food to catch a breather.

With the extra time, I was able to wait at the Mission Viejo store for the supervisor to make me a French press. Not that I cared about the coffee, but I figured obliging him would give me additional opportunity to talk up the film.

Did not manage to clear the OC before my hunger started to overwhelm me, so I wasn't going to be able to make it to Versailles for lunch. I stopped in at El Pollo Loco in Santa Ana, and I waited in the drive-thru line only to learn they would not have chicken for 20 minutes. Bastards!!! I continued to drive, and the yogurt, banana, and apple were fast wearing off. I was really feeling the effects of the coffee, and I wasn't even at 10 yet for the day. I finally spotted another Pollo Loco, but I got confused about the drive-thru line, perhaps because it had been intentionally painted the same shade of yellow, and I ended up ordering from some local Mexican place called Alerto's by mistake. But it was okay--for $3.77 it was a mighty decent burrito. Not great, but adequate.

No love in Pico Rivera, where the baristas didn't even wait 'til I had left before taking down my Starbucking mini-flyer. As I got back into my car I saw one of them go around the bar to where the bulletin board was and then look down at something in his hand as he walked back to the bar--pretty obvious considering the look that the supervisor had given me when I described my project.

I ended up not being able to visit all the stores I wanted to before having to rush up to Burbank for my radio interview. I had mixed feelings--on the one hand I would have to backtrack to those stores on Thursday. On the other hand, I had needed the break anyway. 13 days of feeling rushed was starting to take a toll on me. While I sat in the lobby of AM 1150 (and other stations), one of the receptionists started talking to the other about the British sailors captured by the Iranians. She had many of her facts wrong, and it was clear she was not an avid follower of the news. Sadly, she is probably typical of the predominantly ignorant American public.

From the studio I rushed to the Scrabble club in West Hollywood so I could get as many games in as possible. I also managed to get another player to invite me over to his apartment so I could watch Lost.

Afterwards I hung out next to a Starbucks in Pasadena downloading until about 2:00 AM, having trouble sleeping the whole time. Cesar had mentioned that Pasadena prohibited parking on the streets without a permit after 2:00 AM. I did not see a sign along the section of Fair Oaks where I had parked, but I wasn't sure that that made me safe, so I waited for my download to finish and moved on.

April 3

Up at 6:36, and the presence of T-Mobile at the Cortaro store allowed me to start watching Monday night's 24 while checking e-mail and updating my site. I was torn between finishing the episode and reaching Yuma earlier.

Dammit, missed a radio interview cause I left my phone in the car!!!

However, I did get a chance to do a little bit of promotion when a group of district managers on their way to a meeting in Phoenix recognized me and asked to take a photo. Of course I gave them a flyer and asked them to spread the word.

Oh, gosh darn it! Bush is going to be in Yuma next Monday, but I'm passing thru today. And I had soooooo wanted to meet him. So sad.

Left Cortaro much later than expected, past 8:00 AM. I hoped to make up the time on the highway, but it was not unexpected that I had to drive an hour at 75-80 MPH before a car blazed past me that I could follow. I would have kicked it up to 85 by myself except that the white car far ahead of me looked like it might be a state trooper, and I did not want to get close enough to see.

No Horizon yogurt at the Wal-Mart, so I tried Blue Bunny, also low fat, instead. Awful.

Wow! The route to the new Chula Vista store sucks hard. A big chunk of Proctor Valley Rd, outside the Chula Vista limit, is dirt and gravel!. I mean, it's good that there's actually undeveloped land around San Diego, but it's sad that it will soon be ruined.

I met Greg at another new store near Chula Visata to deliver the Playboys, and then I rushed downtown, still hoping to make my massage appointment after visiting three more stores. At the Horton Plaza relocation I had the misfortune of trying to take the photograph just as a very odd man was in front of the store. He came over and said he was a traveling monk and then started going on about how coffee was bad for people. When I said that I really needed to take my photograph and go meet somebody he replied that I looked stressed out and needed to relax. He asked if I had tried time management. Unfortunately, I could not walk away from the loon, because he was in my way for the photograph. So I had to keep saying "thanks for the advice" over and over until he finally left.

I had called Roosevelt & Rosecrans for directions, because my map indicated that it was on a Naval Station, and it turned out the station had closed and was now a new development. Parked right in front of the store was a puke green/brown Crown Victoria that read "PUBLIC SAFETY". I wasn't sure if that was security or some type of law enforcement, and I wondered if the baristas had guessed that it was me and called it in. Of course I was just being paranoid, and the baristas actually turned out to be fairly excited to meet me.

Took me much longer to meet Greg and get to the stores I needed to, and I ended up missing my massage appointment, with the nicest girl of the ones I'd spoken to in SD (and that wasn't very many, b/c for some reason few people were returning my calls, just like in Phoenix).

While heading to 30th Street. & El Cajon I took a wrong turn, heading the wrong way on Washington, and I took that as an opportunity to reshoot a couple of stores. Just one, actually, because the original Hillcrest store, much to my surprise, had closed! Just a week earlier, and it wasn't just I who was surprised, but several other patrons who had directed me to where the store used to be. Oh, and the kicker--it's being replaced by a gourmet coffee shop. The Starbucks effect in reverse!

I popped into this Spanish restaurant in Hillcrest, but the menu was too fancy and there were no lentils to go with the rice dishes. The host mentioned a Caribbean place and a Cuban place nearby, but I could not find them. Sun setting, I finally headed over to the 30th & Cajon Store. My map showed a couple of soul food restaurants nearby, but both appeared to be closed. Dang, I was striking out both on the food and the massage fronts. With the freeway just a few blocks away, I finally gave up on Latin food and went into Tioli's Crazy Burger because the sign, and a bunch of review articles on the window, said it was a good burger.

About 7:20, not quite dark yet, and the disorientation started. Not sure if it would have started anyway, or if it was a combination of the high rate of speed (80 MPH) and the

April 2

I went back into the store in the morning, and the manager, who recognized me from the older store, was much nicer than her supervisor had been. Hung out for a long time waiting for some heavyseat scruffy dude with glasses to put down The Tender Bear and move the white GMC that was blocking my photo. About 30 minutes later the man finally got a phone call and started to leave. I grabbed my computer and battery charge and started to rushed off... and had to stop myself as I realized my electronics were still plugged in. I managed to catch myself before I yanked them out of the outlet, but somehow I managed to lose my balance. Keeping the laptop from falling was my priority, and I ended up taking a pratfall that amused and concerned half the patrons. I reassured them with a quip, "that's why I don't play sports." Undeterred, I rushed to my car and backed it up right after the GMC, parked in a nearby spot... and witness a small grey car pulling in. I rushed over and knocked on the window and quickly explained to the lady that I had waited 30 min for a picture. She was on the photo and a little startled, and then she shook her head and said no even before I finished speaking. Then no again, so I just rushed off and took my picture. That lady immediately earned a spot at the top of my list of candidates for the "Most Selfish Bitch of 2007" award. Her plate is Georgia, 9389QF, BTW. If anybody out there knows how to look this up, please send me her address so I can send her a nasty letter. Actually, better yet, please send her a nasty letter for me. Don't send me her address. Because if by some coincidence she gets smacked around for being so selfish, I don't want to be a suspect.

On a brighter note, Malone's, recommended by the Starbucks manager, made a pretty good fried-egg bagel sandwich, plus had Wi-Fi to boot!

The highway south from Flagstaff involved a steep descent, 6%, enough to put uncomfortable pressure on my eardrums. As I listened to music, I noticed something for the first time, that the base seemed to be more muted than the treble.

Better luck rephotographing Prescott--the kind lady was more than happy to pull her car back. But then at the new store, another dismissive barista, and with a vicious stare. And, I hate to say this, because I support homosexuals, but I seem to remember getting the most vicious looks from apparent-homosexuals in response to my quests. This is just the ones that were dismissive, mind you. And of course I can't say for sure that the barista was homosexual. I myself have been thought gay by many people throughout my life. Perhaps I misread him the same way that I've been misread. Regardless, I don't think I misread that vicious stare.

Outside, I experience a rare treat in the form of a customer who saw me with the camera and purposefully did not park in front of the store. Of course, there were several other cars there blocking my shot, and the sunlight at 11:00 AM in Arizona was bright enough to wash out my colors anyway, but I appreciated the gesture. Wish the guy hadn't seemed a little weird though--felt kinda bad thinking that since he'd tried to do me a favor.

What the hell??? Why am I tossing money away? For the second day in a row I lost money to the wind--this time when I yanked my jeans from the back of the car to put them on. And this time i definitely lost big bills, maybe even 30 bucks!

When I had left California and headed to the East Coast, where there are no Safeway stores, I had completely forgotten the Organics brand yogurt. This puzzled me, that I would go a full six months without the image of that yogurt, which is very good. Seriously, something is happening to my mind. Furthermore, as I was leaving the Safeway I dropped my money again. At least I was inside where there was no wind, but I had to worry. Dropping money, dizziness, losing my balance--I felt like I had just turned 70, not 35. Either that or I was suffering from the onset of some neurological condition.

I hit Surprise around 1:00, and the radio reported 88 degrees at the station, presumably in Phoenix. Didn't feel anything like 88. Down it Phoenix proper it was definitely warmer, but 88? I know the dry heat feels cooler--I've been to Phoenix and Las Vegas countless times, but it still felt cooler, and I was glad for it. Not that I wasn't sweating like a pig and driving around shirtless, mind you.

Traffic already seemed heavy even at 3:00--it looked like I had blown my chance to beat the rush out of town. So I decided to see what a couple of the strip clubs along Grand were like during the day. Teasers still had the $5 chair dances, but there were only two girls. Several customers left for that reason. I was able to get the attention of one quickly, and she was more than decent-looking enough to make a $5 dance worthwhile. Then she went on stage, and rather than wait I headed down to the Alaska Bush Company, where I was stunned to learn that the dances in the afternoon were also $5. I wouldn't have expected this because the girls there are hot. The $5 dance was so worth it I could have gone on and on, but the dancer went up on stage. I got the attention of another and tried the $10 VIP dances (plus $10 to get in). It's not that the VIP wasn't worth it--far from it. Much better for $10 than at most clubs I've seen. But not really worth the extra money over the $5 variety.

I visited the newest store at 4:30, and since I still had not gotten calls back from any of the massage therapists I had contacted, except one who charged too much, I decided to go sit in horrible rush-hour traffic for a few hours--I would at least be able to get a day photo of the new Tucson store and perhaps get some dinner from Irene's, if they werre open (no guarantee).

Fuck. 6:04, sun still in the sky, plenty of sleep the night before, but yet the dizziness started.

Oh... my... god... I'm really losing it! I passed Arizona Pavilions on the outskirts of Tucson and saw a STARBUCKS COFFEE sign. I immediately went into panic mode and desperately called the Ina store to see if Arizona Pavilions was licensed. The barista insisted all stores were company owned, and I had to correct her. She gave me the # for P, and that barista insisted the store was company-owned but could not tell me when it opened. I had already backtracked 1-2 miles and was about to pull into AP when I looked at my database and photos and saw that i had indeed visited, in Dec 05. But i had no memory whatsoeever of ever having done so. I'm going senile!!!

Passed The Loft on Speedway and considered popping in to see if the ower/manager was there and pitch the film. I quickly decided that would be a waste of time. He had already failed to respond to my e-mail, and the thing of it was, theater owners probably made the right decision not to screen Starbucking, because we just weren't marketing it in such a way that attracted big crowds. I had thought Sonoma, with 100 or so people, would be the norm, but perhaps they were the exception.

Darn it, Irene's closed, or they changed their number. I didn't want to go all the way downtown to find out and then not be able to find decent food before getting on the interstate, so I just went over to Ten's for a bit, had my fill of fun, and then found El Charro Cafe on Speedway as I headed back to the interstate. While I placed my burrito order I looked back through the kitchen door and almost did a double-take. In profile and from the back, some guy, Pancho maybe, looked enough like me that I thought I was looking in a mirror. He passed by me a couple of times, and I was instantly reminded of the images of myself from the film. Which, incidentally, don't really look like me to me. That Starbucking film dude looks like somebody else.

Managed to stay awake enough to finish the burrito, but I quickly started to fade after that. Rather than pushing a great distance, over an hour, to the rest area, I stopped at the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Cortaro.

April 1

As I had hoped, the Tire & Lube Center at the Wal-Mart in Los Lunas was indeed open on Sunday, a relief for me because the car was already at 4,000 miles, and by the end of the day I expected to have driven another 500+. While picking up some groceries I noticed Horizon organic yogurt for the first time at the Wal-Mart. But hours later, when I finally got around to eating it, I could not bear the taste. Don't know if it was because it was the lowfat variety or because it had been sitting for some 3+ hours.

I fared no better a the Range Cafe, which had been recommended by Jeff from the Fountain for its biscuits. I may give them another try--perhaps the biscuit will be better fresh.

Oh, they almost got me! I was about to start some fast and furious blogging about a dumb-ass NYC politician trying to regulate cell phone rings, but before I got to it I realized what day it was.

A bunch of reshoots, two new stores in Rio Rancho, and then off along a route I had not really wanted to every drive again, along US-550 to orthwestern New Mexico. But it wasn't that bad, really, a bit scenic actually, and pretty fast. I soon reached Bloomfield, and then Farmington, where the supervisor reacted in a rather unusual manner. She was really into the coffee and wanted me to report on the Komodo Dragon blend as if I were doing a coffee tasting. She also wanted me to take a coffee passport. I tried to explain that my project was not about coffee, and this seemed to irritate her.

Oh praised Siren, thank you! I found the photo of the Rt. 4, Englewood that, for months, I thought I had missed. I had been really worried about that store and even considered trying to find some original baristas from the store to recreate a pseudo-experience. But the photo was there all right, unlabeled, and I could hardly contain my sense of relief.

Wackiness in Gallup when I stopped for food and gas. I was in shorts, so my cash was in hand, and when I put my shirt on the wind blew the money out of my hands. It was a strong wind, I despite my speed I was not able to reach the bills before they got to the street. I had to wait for cars to pass, and by that time the bills had reached the other side of the highway and I lost track of them. Had I known for sure they were singles, I would have let them go because I was in a hurry to reach Flagstaff before sundown. I finally found three bills, all singles, and I wondered if I had lost any 10s or 20s.

Much worse that losing the money, however, was the food. That Church's in Gallup had to be the worst fast-food chicken I had ever had... ever!!! The chicken was rubbery, the fries tasted like styrofoam, and the biscuit was tough. Awful!

Jeez, this is getting troublesome. Only 7:00, not dark yet, not tired, but experiencing vertigo. I struggle to understand why at the supposedly young age of 35 I'm having this difficulty driving. After 310 miles, the last 100 of which had been very difficult, it was great to encounter a supervisor in Flagstaff who gave me the "Chinese coffee torture". That is to say, she repeatedly failed to fill the sample cup to the requisite level while at the same time giving me an impatient and unwelcome look. Then, while I was paid $1.54 for the 1/8 ounce of coffee that I needed, she still continued to make me feel very unwelcome.

Since I didn't reach Flagstaff in time for a day shot, I decided to stay the night. I figured I'd try out one of the local strip clubs. But I assumed too much, that there was even one in town. The Internet did list one, on San Francisco St, but when I got there and found the address it turned out to be a bar called The Joint. Oh, well, I thought--I'll just catch up on sleep. I parked nearby, and as I laid down I wondered if the music from the heavy metal show would wake me. Wasn't a problem, but the cars parking and leaving were a bit of a distraction.

Woke up at 3:05 restless and started to drive around downtown. I had always thought of Flagstaff as a big city, so I was surprised at how quiet the streets were. Just when I had decided the town was dead in the wee hours, I was surprised again to spot a woman walking along the road. I offered her a ride, and she was a little strange, the way she had me go to several locations looking for a bag she claimed to have left with a friend, but in the end she proved the principle that a woman who is willing to get into a stranger's car is more likely than not to be adventurous.

March 31

At 5:00 I decided I felt well enough to drive, and seven minutes later (after eye drops, de-beddification, and defrosting) I was on my way. 10-20 after that I was already struggling to stay awake. About an hour later I pulled into a picnic area, but I was not able to fall asleep immediately. I figured I could sleep for another 1-2 hours and still reach Mesilla by 1:15 (with the time change), but I didn't want to waste time tossing and turning. So I kept driving, and it was a constant struggle to stay away and keep my eyes focused on the road.

Even when a fast-moving car finally passed me and I was able to follow, its taillights barely helped me focus on the road. The 2+ hour wait for the sky to lighten was agonizing, and when it finally did I was sorely disappointed to discovered that the light was not helping me stay more alert. Finally I decided to kick off the remainder of The Black Donnellys. I usually avoid having the video on while on the freeway because it can make me disoriented, but in this case the video actually woke me up, and I was fine for the rest of the drive. And with latest episodes Friday Night Lights and The Riches also on my laptop, plus the 80 MPH speed limit upon hitting Kerr County, the rest of the drive went by much faster than during previous trips.

Foodwise, pickings in Fort Stockton were slim, so I settled for one of the few things that I will eat from the evil McDonald's, a biscuit sandwich.

On the outskirts of town I passed the Comanche Motel... and Hostel! I was very surprised to see a hostel in such a small town.

As I entered the El Paso city limits, around 10:30, I spotted a strip club, "The Red Parrot", with a sign advertising "NON-STOP GIRLS". But the parking lot had all of one car, so I guess they stopped after all. Deceptive advertising!

I reshot three stores in El Paso, several on Mesa St. Along the way I thought had I lucked out when I spotted JB's Cafe, but when I finally got back on the interstate I discovered I had been snookered--they gave me an English muffin instead of a biscuit!!! Bamboozled!!!

After the disappointing turnout in Nashville, and perhaps because of the rush to get to Mesilla, I had not built up the same degree of excitement and anticipation about the screening there. For that reason, the 40 filmgoers we got, which looked like a lot more in the much smaller auditorium at the Fountain, seemed like a success to me.

I'm sure the two articles, one in the college newspaper and another the the primary paper, helped bring some people out, and I couldn't help but wonder what some press could have done for us in Nashville.

One thing about the Fountain, though--the audience skews heavily older (and Anglo, according to the guy in charge). I doubted that any of them would either buy the DVD or blog about the show. But older people tend to have more children and grandchildren, and maybe they would mention the film to family members.

About the only youngsters that showed up were a group led by a scruffy goofy-looking dude, maybe even drunk, who had tried to open the outside door about 30 minutes into the show. I asked if they were here for the show, and he replied, with a confused look, "what show. Um, uh, no."

Contrary to my preconceived notion, the predominantly elderly crowd seemed very interested in my quest, and Jeff had to eventually cut off the questions so we could get into Black Gold. After the show we walked to a local Mexican restaurant. Because of the press, Jeff had been expecting a larger crowd, and we speculated as to why. Those who attended seemed to enjoy the film, and I couldn't help but think that if we could just give people the correct idea of what the film was about, that more people would come out.

Jeff had to get back for the screening of Curse of the Golden Lotus, which I was curious to see but too tired. I took off to reshoot a couple of stores, and after I had dawdled a while waiting for that perfect photo it occurred to me to call a nearby yellow dot, Ruidoso. It had opened!!! And I had barely enough time to reach it, so once again I found myself rushing, rushing, rushing. Before I lost phone reception I callled the store and asked them to save me coffee, but it turned out I need not have worried. US-70 moved very quickly most of the way, and in fact the speed limit kicked up to 75 MPH around the White Sands Missle Range.

Even before I reached Ruidoso it had started getting hard to focus, but US-380 was not very far away, so I gave it a go. I definitely could have made it to US-380, but the additional distance to the first rest area on I-25 was a stretch, so when I saw a roadside park I decided to pull over. Sometime between midnight and 2:00 AM I think, I awoken by the sound of a car. It was sooned joined by a couple of others, and from the sounds of it, they were kids. I decided to leave in case they decided to mess with the car, though by the time my windshield defrosted they were gone. But I was awake and felt fine to drive, so I pushed on to that rest area on the interstate.

March 30

11:05, finally left the house in Houston, but actually getting out of Houston was an ordeal. First, I had to do my homey Michael a solid and drop off some comic books, and this took me out of my way and caused me to hit soooo much traffic. Not that I wouldn't have hit traffic anyway. Add to this several missed exits, plus the distraction of an interview with a Savannah paper, and I cleared Katy much much later than I had hoped.

Added to the delay getting out of Houston there was the discovery that two coming-soon stores near Austin had opened that day, plus one three weeks earlier, meaning I had a total of four to visit. On top of that, Ilse managed to squeeze me into her schedule, and I couldn't pass that up. Finally, I had a craving for DoubleDave's that took me out of my way. It was 8:32 before I finally set off for Mesilla, with 628 miles to drive. 621 if I took a highway shown on my map as cutting from I-35 to I-46, SR-46. But even though seven miles shorter, would it be fast enough? As soon as I exited I-35 and saw the construction, I decided that it would not. Maybe in the future, though since the highway skirts the edge of New Braunffels, I expect that traffic will increase to fill up the extra lanes.

As I drove through San Antonio, I wondered how far I would get before the dizziness started, but then I realized I had another problem. I had actually seen the lighting 15-20 minutes earlier, but it took me that long to realize what it meant--storm!!! Sure enough, the radio confirmed that a serious thunderstorm, with hail, was heading east. I quickly pulled over to inspect my map, and I was relieved to learn I-10 would take me in a northwesterly direction out of the city. If I moved fast enough, I could miss the storm.

I did indeed escape the path of the storm, but I could not escape the dizziness and disorientation. I was losing the ability to focus, and it was a struggle to drive 85 miles to the rest area. When I stopped at 9:50, I was a little worried that I would not be able to drive fast enough in the morning to reach Mesilla in time, but it would have been dangerously foolish to continue.

March 29

Dang, still no T-Mobile at the Starbucks in Huntstville. That makes at least two times I've pulled off the highway in vain.

Quite a bit of ground to cover around Houston, from far north to the south side, and by the time I reached the center part of the city and reconnected with the Buffalo Grille, I was might hungry for those biscuits, bacon, eggs, and cheese. Death for my heart, but mouth-watering. And then when I reached the house in Houston, first Lost, then home cooking, pig's feet, mm, mm, mm.

No time to rest before heading out to reconnect with Treasures, where I was a little disappointed to learn that, as a dancer put it, Thursday was the new Friday. The place was packed, which made it hard to get the attention of (desirable) dancers. By the time I got home it was very late, and my chances of leaving early in the morning were pretty slim to none.

March 28

Up at 7:25 and feeling better, but for some reason the DoubleShot I had saved gave me a queasy feeling. Not a good feeling; otherwise, the Eagles would have written a song about it.

Distance signs read "STILLWATER Y30". Never seen such a designation before. Could only assume it was indication that the freeway split, like a Y.

SON OF A BITCH!!! When I labeled my Memphis photos I discovered I had missed Houston Levee & Winchester! Why??? Because the dot was on the wrong place on my map--waaaaay off, in Georgia! At first I thought I might have accidentally moved the dot myself while scrolling the map, but after replotting all the stores I learned the true reason. The zip code had been entered on the Starbucks store locator as 30817 instead of 38125--big difference. It appeared that the nefarious Cabal was at it again, and with a new tool in its arsenal of tricks intended to keep me from visiting every Starbucks. Curse you, evil Cabal!!!

A worrisome development on the way to the Edmond store. The song "Twist and Shout" came on, and I found myself wholly unsure of whether that was the Beatles or not. This is, of course, ridiculous--you can't possibly confuse the Beatles for anyone else. Unless... dementia, caused by finally turning 35, was setting in.

Now that's something I don't see every day. An old man, in overalls, suspenders, and a straw hat, standing on the side of I-35 south of OKC with his thumb out. Had I not been hauling ass so I could get to Houston by the time Lost aired, and had my car not been packed full, I might have stopped. He didn't look dangerous. But he also looked frail enough that he might have had a rough time scrunching into the passenger space with two cases of Tradewinds in the way.

THE VET license plate. Not sure why he speed up to pull in front of me and slow down, then sped up when I tried to pass, but it wasn't long before he stopped whatever it was he was up to.

Meanwhile, on the radio, a reporter was asking random people on the street who Alberto Gonzalez is. I'd say a surprising number did not know, except that the number is not so surprising. Just sad.

On the way to the new Euless store I made a quick stop to "deliver the ginkgo", if you know what I mean.

At Cooper & Park Row one of the baristas commented that she wished she could do something like my project. I replied "there's nothing stopping you." "I have a baby," she said. After asking her age (22, much too young!) and that of her baby, I told her that she would be free to do anything she wanted at 40, still a young age, provided she did not have another child. I purposely restrained myself from inserting "screw up" in that sentence. Regardless, the smile faded from her face, and it was clear she did not appreciate my assessment. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why procreation must be regulated. Humans, most of them at least, tend not to make rational, world-beneficial, decisions about procreation.

March 27

At 7:32 my head felt like it was in a vise. But I didn't feel sleep or groggy in the slightest, so I got a move-on in the hopes of reaching Tulsa in time. I took two cold pills immediately, and then I followed them up with two fake Excedrin for good measure.

Oh, nasty! I sneeze-coughed a thick glob of yellow-green phlegm onto my steering wheel. Because the wheel vibrates at high speeds, the effect was that of an undulating slug crawling downward. Yuck.

Outside the new Bartlett store I saw three white pills on the ground. My first thought was to wonder if they would help ease my symptoms, but I took the better part of caution and left them alone.

Holy mackerel! A Crescent City Beignets in Memphis??? I was about to shout out, like Flava Flav, "Yeeeeah boooyeeee!" when I pulled in front and realized it was actually just Crescent City, a New Orleans-themed restaurant. Darn it. But at least they did have beignets on the menu, so I had to give them a try.

It had to happen--I finally spilled the kiwi juice as I was moving the cup from between my legs to the cup holder. Thankfully, most of the smelly liquid landed in two of the three cup holders, and I was able to soak it all up with socks, briefs, and a shirt and then tie them up in a plastic back to keep the odor sealed in. I mean, it's already my car--I don't need to mark it as my territory.

Learned a new term at the Jacksonville store "blue collar rush". Apparently those workers get out at 3:00, not at 5:00.

My first donkey sighting! Along US-62.

Well, just when I thought I'd seen every kind of barista reaction to my Starbucks project, along come a surprise. Hard to describe

March 26

The big day in Nashville, and with my inconvenient cold/flu, I hoped to get as much sleep as possible Sunday night. But with a lot of caffeine in my system and general anxiety over the screening, I was lucky to get nearly 8 hours.

For some reason I had printed way more mini flyers than I could have distributed to even all the Starbucks all of Tennessee. So I did that really annoying thing of putting flyers on cars all over the place. I'm always irritated when I find some stupid flyer on my car, but I guess I can understand now.

After more than five years, I finally had another sit-down breakfast at the Pancake Pantry instead of to-go. The pancakes did taste better fresh, and they were just as filling as ever--went right to my gut!

The Belcourt Theatre, site of the first official commercial theatrical screening of Starbucking (not counting the festivals).

Hey, will you look (listen) to that--George Strait just covered Kelly Willis' "Wrapped". Sure hope she made some bank for that.

After a couple of soft tacos from S.A.T.C.O. (San Antonio Taco Company), I headed over to the 21st St Starbucks to wait until the Belcourt needed me. The cold pills I had taken seemed to have little effect--my nose continued to run. I added some Nyquill into the mix, even if it meant I wouldn't be able to drive too far west from Nashville after the show. And then, just for good measure, a fake Benadryl.

I headed over to the Belcourt at 6:40 with nervous anticipation of how many people would show up. Only four in the auditorium when I arrived... not a good sign. Thankfully for my sanity, as I sat in the lobby I could hear people buying tickets for Starbucking. Every time someone bought a ticket for The Host I thought "D'oh!". I had thought tickets would be $7 + $1 service fee, but they were actually $6 + $1, which meant we had to sell 84 tickets across two shows to break even, not counting the $42 for the poster and the $3.49 for the poster tube and the shipping for the DVD.

Only 21 for the first show, and I found myself hoping we could just sell 42 total and at least get half the money.

Just 12 in the auditorium at the point that the film started. Ouch. Not a good sign. Losing a good bit of money on this little adventure in wackitude. But there was one positive note--the partner who had been kinda not really dismissive the previous night showed up and explained they had just had had a bad day at the store. So it wasn't any attempt Starbucks part to quash knowledge of the film locally, but it was still disappointing that an e-mail never went out to the local partners. Or that if it did, that nobody seemed to have seen. The barista did tell me that he had heard people thinking the film was like Super-Size Me, and I wondered if there was anything we could have done to keep that preconceived notion from getting out.

I waited out in the lobby during the second screening, and the wait was agony as my pain worsened and my nose continued to run. But I made it, and the Q&A seemed well-received. No sooner did we finish than I took off, stopped at Jimmy John's for a plain slim, and rushed west to the rest area 38 miles away, fingers crossed that I would have the energy to make it.

Holy shit that was scary!!! Less than 1 miles from the rest area, I felt my entire body "spasm" like I was going to lose consciousness involuntarily. The whole event lasted for maybe a second, but during that time I felt genuine fear that I was not going to be able to stop myself from falling asleep.

Rest area prohibited overnight parking, but when I woke up at 2:05 and saw both the van and the sporty black car still there, I figured I might as well stay. I asked the restroom attendant if the troopers made people leave after two hours, and he said no. Still, shortly before 5:00 I felt well enough to drive 40 miles to the next rest area. Didn't want to overstay my welcome.

March 25

Got up around 7:37 and noticed the sky was light, but the sun not yet peeking up over the Wal-Mart. I went inside for groceries and to give the sun time to get higher. While paying for my groceries another cashier yelled out--"Hey, stop that man!!!" I tensed up and got ready to sprint and tackle somebody, but it quickly became clear that the man had just forgetten one of his grocery bags. Nothing to look at here, folks.

I supposed it was no surprise that, given the proximity of the race track, half the patrons were wearing either NASCAR or Dale Earnhardt t-shirts. But the ducks out in the parking lot--I'd never seen such a sight at a Wal-Mart before. I like ducks. They remind me of a group that used to hang out around the bayou behind the house in Houston, and how my grandmother used to go out and feed them.

While I waited for cars to clear out from the drive-thru lane so I could photograph, I noticed an SUV with "JUST MARRIED" on one window and on another, "BRISTOL BOUND BABY!". I had to assume that they were from even more rural territory where there are no Starbucks, and that for them moving to Bristol was like moving to the "big" city.

Hey! Shirtless dude! See, I'm not the only one, so quit starin'.

8:34 as I drove thru the "other" Bristol, in TN, and all along US-11E, on the way to the racetrack I presume, were folk hawking tickets. Farther down I started to see people walking down the highway, and then I noticed something new to me... "race camps". Dozens or hundreds of RVs camped out near the racetrack. I was glad I had gotten up when I did, because as the morning dragged on I figured that highway would be backed up all the way to town. As it was, I did see a slight slowdown when I passed right by the track, but it warn't too bad. Much worse was the sight of all those George Bush supporters all in one place, many the type who would fight to the death against any attempt to change the status quo and solve the world's problems.

Momentary confused as I approached an intersection that read "TO I-26". My map didn't show I-26 anywhere near Johnson City. The closest stretch was down in NC, in Asheville. Man, I needed a new map!

A sneeze and some soreness in the back of my throat.

I hit I-81 at exit 57 at 9:38, and traffic was backed up for a mile in the other direction, plus the distance to the speedway exit. I considered myself lucky that I had only been delayed a few minutes.

Before heading down to Alcoa I stopped in downdown Knoxville, Market Square, for a huge biscuit from Tomato Head. Had been a good 2-3 years since my last visit, and it looked like all the remodeling had been finished. Saw a black fence peppered with flyers, and I put one up for Starbucking. Promotion, promotion, promotion.

As I continued on towards Chattanooga I was possessed by the strange urge to listen to the theme from the old cartoon, Underdog. I'd have to try and download it.

Internet cafe on University in Huntsville--don't see too many of those in the US anymore.

On the way out to Athen I stopped at Showcase Showgirls where, in the 18 months since the first time I visited, either the dance fee had gone up from $20 to $20, or my memory had gone completely to hell.

No doubt about it--definitely sick.

What the heck are those creatures? Otters? Do otter hang out on the roadway?

Coffee County, TN--heh.

8:20, and I was really feeling the sickness despite the cold pills. My nose was running continuously.

The previous week I had called the local training center to see if they could get word out to the partners. The message had been relayed to a district manager who called me and seemed genuinely interested in helping get the word out. Thus I was disappointed when none of the Nashville-area stores I visited Sunday night had heard of the film screening. I finally encountered one, on West End not far from the Belcourt, but vibe I got from the barista was dismissive. No... that's not the right word. Not dismissive. Maybe... awkward. Like maybe he had been told I was coming and told to humor me but not put up any flyers. Hopefully just my imagination.

Adding to my disappointment, none of the radio or TV stations I had e-mailed had gotten back to me about an interview. I was extremely grateful for the blurb in the Nashville Scene--that was about the only thing that was going to get anybody out to the Belcourt.

March 24

Slept past 7:30, longer than I had hoped, but the rain and drizzle that had persisted thru the night offered little incentive to crack-o-dawn it. At least my photo of Winchester was halfway-decent, making the trip worthwhile, though I was miffed to learn that a couple of new stores would be hitting the area over the summer. Shoulda expected it tho.

From Winchester to Rockville I had a choice of routes of equal distance, either back down route 7 and the toll road to the Beltway, or via US-340 and US-15 to Frederick. I chose the smaller, untraveled (by me) road, in the hope of finding some good grub, and sure enough I ran across John's Family Restaurant right away. I mustered the best southern accent I could manage as I asked the waitress if I was far enough south to get biscuits. Mmm..., biscuits! Hadn't had biscuits in a good while.

I skipped the bacon with breakfast. Now that I had turned 35, it was time to cut out more of the fat, cholesterol, and other yumminess.

Blah at Rockville Town Center, but I was amused when I returned to my car to hear Click n Clack talking about sleeping in cars.

One last task before I left the area, to make absolutely sure that two new stores listed had not actually opened. No phone # listed yet, so I called nearby stored. It was easy enough to find out about East Market at Fairlakes, but finding out anything about Woodland Park Crossing was like pulling teeth. I called six different stores without being able to get any information. I did better by googling "Woodland Park Crossing", and I was able to get a location, but it would be an hour detour from Fairfax. Without confirmation, I wasn't going to make the drive.

Further delayed at East Market when I noticed a barista, on break, with her blouse's top buttons undone in such a manner as to give a tempting glimpsed when she angled in certain ways. I could not help but gaze as much as possible, through the window, from my car, from the roof, from beneath the sewer grate, as I was asking her a question (just a pretense to get close). I regretted not having bought that really high-powered telephoto lens yet. Oh, why must these coffee cuties tease me so!!!

In downtown Culpeper I popped into Dee Dee's Family Restaurant, where patrons are apparently allowed to grunt unintelligibly at other customers so long as they do it off in an isolated room. Maybe he was part of the "family".

As I enrouted to Lynchburg I noticed a new yellow dot in the general vicinity. Harrisonburg. I called, and sure enough it had opened the previous day. I didn't think I had time to do both, and Lynchburg was only a few weeks old, so I headed out to Harrisburg so I could get on I-81 and make better time down to Roanoke. Once on I-81, I realized I could have still detoured to Lynchburg, but that would have cost me a chance at daylight photos of three Roanoke-area stores. Not wurf it.

Driving thru the Shenandoah National Park took some concentration, but once US-33 flattened out I had time to think again, and I noticed that I did not feel the sense of freedom that usually pervaded the start of previous road trips, when I had money in my pocket and no hurry to get anywork. This time around, with the pressure of promotion the movie, and the need to reach Nashville quickly and run around distributing flyers, my trip felt a lot like work.

Hit Roanoke in a rush to leave and reach Bristol. The supervisor was interested in setting up a photo in front of the store with other partners, but after waiting a few minutes while I checked my e-mail and some other stuff, I had to apologize and beg off. For the same of speed I grabbed a sandwich from Yuck-fil-a. By some miracle, I actually got through most of the sandwich before getting that sick regetful feeling.

Inflational ouch! Chick-fil-a sandwich and small fries $4.00, a good 4-7 cents more expensive than that last time I remember buying one.

Meanwhile, every time I sprinted to take a photo or for another reason, the pain in my right thigh flared up. The reason was no mystery--it was Thursday's attempt, my last until my travels ended, to run a 5-minute mile. The pain was a constant reminder that I had finally hit middle age.

Sore throat did not last, but now congestion & sneezing.

After a drive that was relatively slow because of the large number of state troopers along I-81, I reached Bristol at 9:20. I had hoped to kill time until my 10:00 PM interview, but then I remembered the time difference. I actually had over an hour to wait, and I was tired, so I was going to have to sleep and get woke up at 11:00. There was a Wal-Mart Supercenter conveniently located across from the Starbucks, and this would make it easy to camp out 'til morning and get a good photo.

Felt a little bit of something something during the night, but nothing specific. Unable to tell if I was getting sick.

March 23, 2007

Oh, no, no, no, no!!! Packing up so I can leave my rented room and rush to Nashville, and I feel a soreness in the back of my throat. Noooooo!!!

Left later than I hoped, 9:20, but managed to move fast enough on the PA Turnpike to reach Lititz by about 11:10. Waited as long as I could, almost 45 minutes, for a fan who had e-mailed me, by coincidence, the previous afternoon. Finally I had to go because the rain was going to slow me down, and I still hoped to meet Jill before 4:00 PM so I'd have at least two hours to make it to the Capital Gallery store.

Lancaster to Hanover was slower than I expected because, in addition to the rain, the route took me through some fairly slow back roads. One road, Bugalow Rd, was hardly more than dirt and gravel. Had I not pushed to finish up at work on Thursday, there would have been little chance of reaching Capital Gallery by 7:00.

But I wasn't out of the woods yet. Made my meeting with Jill shortly after 3:00, and cut the massage short so I could leave at 4:00, but the detour turned out to be very costly because traffic out of Baltimore was unusually (or so it seemed) heavy. The radio reported a backup on 395 due to a collision, so I decided I might as well try to stop at the Hustler Club for 2-for-1 dances. It all depended on finding parking. I got lucky and found a space, but unfortunately my memory had failed me--2-for-1 dances ended at 4:00. So I only spent 15-20 minutes in the club, but when I exited traffic seemed to have lightened none at all, and as I crawled toward the interstate it was looking doubtful that I could hit Olney and Rockville before DC.

As delays continued even after I hit 395, it looked like I wouldn't even be able to make short detours to reshoot stores in Columbia and Laurel. Then, as I passed I-695 to find traffic still backedup up, even with 75 minutes to drive 35 miles, I started to worry about reaching DC in time.

Back when I worked in Elkridge traffic towards DC in the evening was light, so I figured it was a collision. I decided to cut over to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, which meant I definitely had to skip the reshoots. I moved quicker for a spell, but traffic soon slowed down. The slowdown didn't last too long, though, and I was able to reach Capital Gallery by about 6:40. Good thing I never even tried to hit Olney and Rockville.

Got hellah lost (bad signage, I say), heading out of DC and trying to get on I-66, and I had to turn myself around twice and finally take a busy surface road. I did not reach my cousins' in Ashburn until almost 9:00, but it was wurf it--they had some mighty good grub waiting for me. They also happened to be watching three neighbors' kids, all of whom seemed to like Starbucks, and I used that as an opportunity to plug the movie as much as I could, to encourage them to tell their classmates.

Despite my cousins' entreats, I insisted on leaving rather than spending the night because I knew I'd get up late if in a bed. I stopped for gas down the street, and when I turned around I saw a Starbucks. Blast! These Starbucks are now so prevalent that I can't even remember which store is which. Oh, I figured it out quickly enough from my database, but I was left with a fond longing for days when I was younger and there were fewer stores and I did a better job of remembering them all.

After waffling a couple of times between Olney and Winchester, I finally decided to head out to the more remote Winchester so I could take a photo early in the morning. The store was conveniently located in the a parking lot with a grocery store new to me, Martin's, that was open 24 hours.

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