I’ve returned from visiting Kevin’s family for Christmas. I had many pleasant experiences, but the trip wore me out more than previous trips have. I’m not really sure why.

o We ate at Rose City Diner, a childhood memory of Kevin’s that was shut down and just recently re-opened. I had fried chicken, and it was yummy.

o I went to Hollywood for the first time, and explored the big temple complex at Hollywood and Highland. Then I discovered the handprints at the Chinese Theater. Then we ate at Cantor’s, which was another Experience, and quite an enjoyable one.

o I played a 6 hour session of Texas Hold’em in the annual Christmas poker game (on the day after). Actually, I lost all my money about five hours in and switched to being the dealer. I was the third person to do so. I’d been concentrating so voraciously throughout the game that when I no longer had cards to play, I turned into a total chatterbox. After last year’s unpleasant game, I had a lot of chats with Kevin about poker strategy, and practiced a lot of hands… unfortunately, while I think I played reasonably well, I got terrible hands. Fortunately, Kevin made back my money plus some. 🙂 The chip winner for the night was Cathy, but Patrick, Kevin’s brother, had the star for Most Impressive Comback.

o Change of environment and change of drinking water always kills me. Twice I drank a few sips of wine and was immediately attacked by agonizing stomach cramps: instant hangover from too little water. On poker night, I drank water religiously through the game so I could indulge after I was out of the game. It mostly worked.

o Christmas: Kevin had spent two days feverishly searching for stores that stocked his desired presents to Patrick and me. He eventually gave up and printed out images of the items and boxed those up as IOU vouchers. I’m pretty happy with what he actually gave me, though: iLife ’04 (aka GarageBand, a piece of music loop and editing software), a perfectly sized laptop bag (that is, my 12 inch laptop fits into it and there’s room for two accessories and that’s it) and it makes me happy because it’s as light as a bright memory. So tiny! I had been using a messenger-style bag for my laptop and I hated it as it wasn’t safe at all. I also got a midi-usb cable so I can connect my keyboard to my laptop. Yay! The boxed papers were a gift certificate to my health club’s spa, and a specific digital camera. However, since I KNOW how much the iLife and laptop bag cost…. well, the camera seems like too much on top of that! So we will talk. Whim has already suggested several other alternate gifts but whim typically misleads me.

I also recieved a new wireless router, and a gorgeous microfiber down blanket from Cathy (for my unheated office), and a beautiful glass sculpture candle-holder and diary from Patrick. And Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories! Must finish the first one now.

Kevin and Cathy got their Roombas. ^^ It was a fun little exchange, with Cathy deeply excited about Kevin’s robot, and then Kevin hauling out hers (unwrapped) from his suitcase. It was a great moment. We played with CathyRoomba some, of course, and it seemed to do well on her wooden floors and scarce carpeting.

We also plugged in KevinRoomba at home, and after a couple of hours of charging I convinced Kevin to try it out. The little guy survived our deeper carpeting and made a valiant attempto to vaccuum a hall that hadn’t been vaccuumed since Thanksgiving (but isn’t a high traffic area); it’ll take a while before the Roomba can whip our dog hair problem into shape.

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