and i'm back

Monday, June 28, 2004, at 06:19AM

By Eric Richardson

Several long days of silence there... Thursday, very early in the morning, Kathy and I flew out of LAX and made our way to Minneapolis. There we met up with my grandparents and headed south, bound for a wedding in LeRoy, MN. I didn't have Internet access for a few days, which really wasn't that big of a deal, but I did have several things that I was going to mention here and now can't seem to remember once I have the opportunity.

Travelling afforded me the opportunity to get started on volume 2 of Neil Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, The Confusion. I'm actually about 600 pages in at this point. I felt like Quicksilver bogged down in the middle, but I haven't really felt that about The Confusion. The reading's been pretty quick and easy to follow (well, as easy to follow as you can be in a 2700 page series).

Yesterday Minneapolis airport conned me into getting excited by WIFI signs, but then it turned out to be a for-pay system. $6.95 got you a day's access, but that wasn't worth it to me since I was only going to be there and using it for a little over an hour. DNS lookups worked without ever signing up and authenticating, though, so if you could hide your data somewhere in there you could eek out a bit of a loophole.

Driving through Minneapolis yesterday we noticed a light rail line from town to (almost) the airport that seemed to be unusually full and well-staffed. I guessed that it had to be an opening weekend. A newspaper front-page in the airport confirmed that this was the opening weekend for the Hiawatha Line. The stations and cars looked really nice, and with the line eventually connecting the airport and the Mall of America, I think it should be able to carve out at least a tourist nich for itself. I don't know enough of Minneapolis to be able to say how it will do for commuters. They're using a fare policy similar to LA's, with no fare boxes but random inspections to ensure compliance. The Bombadier cars they're using seem a little shorter than the Siemens P2000 cars LA uses on the Gold and Green lines, but I can't seem to find length or seat information for either right off.

Lots more I could say about how rural that part of MN is, but I'll refrain for now. Many towns with populations under 1000. 20 miles to go get pizza, etc.

It's good to be back.