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Doran's Journal - 17 September 1997

Wednesdays have always been one of my favorite days of the week. Wednesdays serve as the climactic mean of the week. It's a sign that reads "As of this day, you have accomplished half of what is neccessary." It is a comforting inspiration that assures you that since you made it this far, you're likely to make it the rest of the way.

Christine and I are looking forward anxiously to the end of this working week. On Friday afternoon, we will depart from our summer home for 1997 and will begin our long voyage west- back into the company of family and friends.

Each day of this week presents us with a list of tasks we must complete in preparation for our departure. On Monday, I made an appointment to get the car's oil changed and the tires rotated. The appointment is for this afternoon at 2 p.m. We also packed a number of items we wouldn't need to get to on Monday- like our tennis and racquetball racquets, some towels and clothes, and a few computer items.

On Tuesday, Christine cleaned the kitchen and we took our plastic and paper grocery bags down to the recycling bins in the basement. I also made a reservation at a Comfort Inn in Omaha, Nebraska for Friday night. I was hoping to get a whirlpool suite again like we got at the Comfort Inn in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on our way out. But the weekend rates made that prohibitively expensive.

On another note, the only way I can ever remember how to spell "Sioux" correctly is by reminding myself that the middle three letters are I O U.

Today, as mentioned before, I will be taking the Subaru in for a lube change and a tire rotation. We will probably also pack a few items this evening as well.

Tomorrow, we will finish packing everything. We will have to take some books back to the library as well and wash our last batches of clothes.

This last weekend, we went to Underwater World at the Mall Of America. This huge aquamarine life exhibit was quite ellaborate. Featuring specimens native in Minnesota, the Mississippi River, the Gulf Of Mexico, and the Carribean, there were lots of fish and other animals to look at.

When you enter Underwater World, you are given a portable compact disc player after they take your admission ticket. The portable CD player hangs by a strap from your neck and comes with headphones. Radio transmitters throughout the exhibit signal your CD player and tell it what track to play. This allows visitors to experience the exhibit at their own pace. While you can go through the exhibit without ever touching your CD player, a fish guide with numbers next to pictures of all the fish lets you key in a specific fish's number on the CD player's numeric keypad to listen to detailed information about that fish.

There is a moving walkway which you can ride and carries you slowly through four large aquariums. The aquariums have plexiglass walls which I estimated to be about three to four inches thick. The moving walkway forms a tunnel through the aquarium. As you move through Underwater World, the fish will swim next to you on either side and above you. It allows you to feel immersed in the marine environment without getting wet.

We saw several different species of shark, catfish, and dozens more. My only complaint about Underwater World was that since the narration accompanying the tour was only available through headphones, I could not record it along with the pictures I took with my video camera. I tried holding one of the earpieces of the headphones to the microphone of the camera a couple of times. I haven't watched it to see and hear how it turned out.

We also paid another visit to the St. Croix Railroad in Hudson, Wisconsin. This time we had our video camera and we were able to get a lot of footage of the trains. Tim insisted I try driving his train around the loop. Aside from getting black specks of coal all over my face and shirt, it was a fun experience. And since these trains are modelled after their lifesize counterparts, I practically learned how to drive a lifesize steam locomotive. I learned driving trains is more about fighting and working with gravity and centrifugal force than anything else. When you are driving a train, you have to be aware of whether the train is currently going uphill or downhill- and since tracks are generally never laid on steep grades, it's sometimes hard to tell what the slope will be.

On our way out to the St. Croix Railroad, we stopped at the St. Croix Meadows Dog Track to capture some of the greyhounds racing around the track with our video camera.

I had my performance review this morning. My supervisor made apologies for not keeping me busy and for not working closer with me. He gave me an "Excellent" review.

Christine's supervisor has asked to extend her internship to allow her to keep working for Cray remotely while we are back in Utah. She has accepted and will retain her hourly rate but will only work 5-15 hours a week while she is in school. She's pretty excited about that.