Today Dave and I went back to the St. Louis Post Dispatch headquarters to run my chat on @NY.
Courtney's JournalThusday, August 21st, 1997
Despite my sense of uneasiness,--> The web crew was very generous and let me come back and conduct my chat from their offices. We arrived about 10 minutes before the scheduled time (11:30 am est). Fortunately the tech gods were looking down kindly on me and I connected using Greg's 14.4 cellular modem, but the Java gods were not so generous. Error message: "Applet can't start:exception:Java.lang.NullPointerException" This is not the kind of message a tense traveler with deadlines and points of destination, tech problems, and the will to ENJOY oneself as well needs to be encountering 5 minutes after a chat has started. Some may sit back and say I (we) didn't prepare enough, or allow enough time. And yet, this is something none of us anticipated nor have dealt with (with the exception of Greg Elin who did this 2 years ago). Naive? Maybe, but I am an optimist, and think my fellow Ralliers are as well. We believe in the technology and are struggling to make it work. We want to communicate with the world as frequently as possible and are making every effort to do so.
After my chat, Dave and I got some pictures of the St. Louis Post Dispatch website crew.
Pictured above: (l to r) Bill Keaggy, Joe Williams, Virgil Tipton, Jan Paul. Seated: Jennifer Thomshak. Not shown: Jesse Garnier (an intern from San Francisco, who has his own company -- www.stonehopper.com
They use Lotus notes exclusively in a publishing program that allows for reporters to click and code their pages without ever having to learn a <BR> tag. Everything is templated and pop up windows ask for Name of Reporter, Date of report, and other questions to lead to the completed article. Editor Virgil Tipton explained that they are the largest newspaper with an extensive restaurant database. They also created a unique navigation system of expandable folders when clicked on, similar to clicking on a windows or macintosh folder. Virgil created this program, and I was really impressed with how robust and complete it is. Healthfront.com has a "navigator" that uses the same technology. The program also has a search capability more thorough that Alta Vista.
<-- While in their offices, I overheard that "They pulled 'postnet.com' and they lost that domain. Now they're going by 'stlnet.com' or something like that. It only increased my sense of uneasiness. One woman even said something to the effect of, "so now will you go down to the 3rd floor (corporate offices ?) and renegioiate?" -->
Around noon, we left St. Louis -- me with bittersweet feelings. I got to ride on the back of Paul's bike from St. Louis to just outside St. Peter, IL.
We stopped at a Denny's there and talked about how ridiculous it is for cartoons these days to always have some side-kick stuffed animal and prank; the X-Files, the Simpsons, and our plan. We'll s l o w l y progress towards Kansas City today. On the way out from St. Louis, we past an apartment complex "www.discover-riverfront.com" and glided past pillowy billowy volumuious clouds hanging low in a bright beautiful blue sky and SUN!
Being on the back of the bike was an exhilarating experience, for all the reasons you'd expect. The feeling of openness and freedom, the excitiment, thrill, and fear of being so vulnerable and totally exposed. Wonderful. I didn't want to get off, but knew I needed to get work done, so Dave can do some of his writing.
Pictured above: Greg Elin, Justin Greene, Uta Knablein, Paul Eisenberg
We stopped 6 miles from Columbia, MO and I desperate to go running (one of my new favorite exercise activities) went for a jaunt up the road and back. We climbed back in cars and bikes and landed in Sedalia, MO. The State Fair is going on! I went to Wal-mart and bought Wranglers for $12.95. At that price I fiqured I'd stock up.
As we drove into this town, we were fascinated by the desolatness of Main Street. Typical, classic, 1950s style store fronts, movie theaters, and diners lined the streets, till you drove out of town onto an interstate and were greeted by strip malls stuffed with AMC theaters, Pizza Huts, Arby's, Wal-marts, JCPenny's and car dearlerships. We loved the small town main street, and I'm always sad to see them decrepit and deteriorating.
In Sedalia, there was the State Fair going on. We all wanted to go, but of course -- the websites were calling. We did some work, and then went out to see a sunset from a field silhoueted with cows, crickets chirping loudly, and the planets beginning to sparkle brightly. Dazzled and humbled, we made our way back to the motel to share the vision with the others, and then took a dinner order for (where else? Pizza Hut). I worked some more into the night, and fell asleep listening to CNN reveal the Hudson Hamburger meat scandal.
Today was another day of me typing as I had to get my Cyber Scene column in too. Far past the 4:30 deadline, I sent it up around 1:00 am.
Well, no one said Life on the Road was easy... --Courtney