Staycation 2011: Live Blog
In which I keep the minutes of my 2011 holiday staycation in Silver Spring, MD.
Thursday, 2011-12-22 | Commemorative, Journal
I don't generally live-blog, but I have this uncanny feeling that events worth chronicling have begun to unfold.
Times are approximate; entries are subject to revision:
Wednesday, December 21
- 21:30 - Settled in for an episode of I Spy called "Tatia". The episode has its own IMDB page here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0609476/
- 22:30 - Don't want to won't ruin the ending, but "Tatia" is a real scorcher. Culp and Cos' have more than a few pretty impressive tricks up their collective sleeve.
- 23:45 - http://fuckyeahbridgetoneill.tumblr.com is up. And looking pretty
Thursday, December 22
- 06:00 - Found myself lying awake in bed, rehearsing important points of the mea culpa I will have to deliver later today on behalf of my shop's dysfunctional engineering effort; the dog had been using my leg as a pillow, and my leg had fallen asleep. Check my watch. Climb out of bed. Try not to disturb the dog.
- 06:20 - Ate Peanut Butter Crunch for breakfast. Reflected on the reality of Haitians who, thanks to the successive generations of broad-shouldered Atlases whose heroic free-market fundamentalism has turned global commodities markets into casinos, subsist on cakes made of mud.
Checked reddit. Nothing good.
- 06:50 - Managed a few outstanding crises from work. Hey DBA's: where the fuck is my scheduled data dump? Hey QA: preserving stable clients will always be more important than swatting client-specific bugs; don't make a maniac outta me by skimping on regression testing because client-facing teams' hair is on fire and you're tired of hearing about it: you're supposed to be the grown-ups here.
- 07:15 - Potted a new basil plant in the pot where my old basil died (and was replaced with a solitary radish that I imagine I must have gotten drunk and planted, for some reason).
Feeling bullish on life and hope for the future and all of that.
- 09:15 - Showered, shaved, etc. (Deuce deuce 4 sho sho.)
- 10:40 - Threw the dog into the pickup and drove up Viers Mill Rd. a piece. Picked up four rechargeable AA batteries (and charger) and two 29" wooden stools (for the lab). Retail spots are conspicuously under-peopled. Can't figure if people are working all the way up to the weekend, or if low consumer confidence is keeping them out of the Strosniders' and the Target.
- 10:55 - Jumped on a critical call to discuss what to do about a client who is threatening to walk. Fortunately had my phone on mute when it came out that one of the completely inept contractors we are keeping on retainer is the single thread on deploying the required fixes and he ain't takin' no calls today.
Also unavailable, of course, is the other Great Man of Science whose elegant designs and principled refusal to adjust them have resulted in the unfolding client-relations nightmare.
- 12:10 - After about 40 minutes of gathering some additional, "final touches" ingredients for the shit sandwich I have been preparing all week, I am now waiting for my fellow diners to become available so we can join hands, approach our disgruntled client and smile pretty for her as we chow down.
- 13:00 - Pulled an old, ostensibly broken optical wireless mouse out of the basement last week. Standing at my desk, waiting to join this conference, and trying to repair this thing. Looks like most of the problem is some corrosion around the place where the battery pickups hit the board.
- 13:58 - Mouse is fixed; client isn't going to walk; engineers have their marching orders. Going to try to go off the clock until after the holiday. We'll see.
- 15:00 - Just woke up from a power-nap. I remember falling asleep while spooning with the dog; I woke up and she was curled in a ball with her back against the insides of my knees. I only slept for 25 minutes. What the fuck?
- 15:45 - Returned from a short dog-walk to find a general fracas occurring on NewAthens: something about a the banning of a long-time griefer/forum-troll. Continuing to give it a wide berth.
- 16:14 - Returned to the basement to set a few things up; set up my office-issue Mac Book Pro in place of my soon-to-be-ordered Mac Mini and put on Castevet's Mounds of Ash while I sorted out a few things. That record is fucking great.
- 17:40 - Collected the final demos, rehearsal cuts and lyrics from Nighthawk (the CMT album that never was) into a single zip archive. The youngest recording in the group is dated 2008-03-24: remarkable that it took three and a half years to get around to sorting all of them out.
- 19: 07 - Just finished playing the drums for a little over an hour. This calls for Carlsberg.
- 21:37 - Matt and I split a growler of Fresh Hop Pale Ale (Great Divide Brewing Company) and then split another one of Red Rice Ale (Hitachino).
- 22:50 - Alex arrives! The broiling of two comically thick porterhouse is undertaken. Apparently it takes about 11 hours to drive up from Atlanta, GA to Silver Spring, MD.
- 23:18 - Sean Price likes no female rappers.
- 23:55 - Re-configured the living room to include Alex's kit; we're now up to three different Xboxes and we've got televisions from three manufacturers: Samsung, LG and now Westinghouse. Alex left his wifi adapter at home, however, so "thee Xboxes; one couch" will have to wait for tomorrow.
Friday, December 23
- 02:51 - Wake with a start to the sound of Matt hollering on the porch; when I explained that it was nearly three and I could hear him yelling upstairs, inside the house, he asked if that wasn't cool in this neighborhood; he then offered to turn off the porch light as a concessionary measure. Basically, dudes are tore-off.
- 08:57 - Check my watch.
- 09:38 - Water the re-potted basil; I read somewhere (LifeHacker?) that the trick to a successful re-potting or transplant is copious over-watering for the first few days.
- 10:06 - Matt and Alex just left out in search of a butcher and a consumer; while they're out securing provisions for the holiday feasting and merry-making, my major action item for the day is to finally get that Mac Mini in-house.
- 11:17 - Just got off the the phone with my mother. Turns out my delinquent cousin got scooped up for felony retail theft, in violation of the terms of his probation, so he's sticking with the "lengthy incarceration" thing; my mother also related that her mother (i.e. my grandmother) is concerned that my other cousin has begun to wear makeup at the tender age of 11. Evidently, in my grandmother's time, girls did not begin to paint their faces until high school (at least). I explained to my mother that given all the estrogen in the plastics and the factory beef to which children are exposed, girls are pubescing earlier and earlier these days, and that scientists predict that by 2018, puberty will actually begin in utero, so it's all good.
- 11:28 - Just sat down with the dog for a fresh pickle jar of hot coffee and a little trigger time on Dark Souls: down into the Catacombs today, I think. Life is good on the couch.
- 13:51 - About to leave out with the dog; she could use a bit of exercise and I've got some personal checks to deposit.
- 14: 37 - Just got back; my contact at the Apple Store has checked in, and I placed my order on the Mac Mini. Rough spec: 2.5GHz; 8gb RAM. Total damage: 899.94. Arrives on 2012-01-03.
- 17:43 - All Xboxes connecting to Xbox Live; time to break for dinner. Matt and Alex are set to square off against two Whole Foods pork chops that probably weigh more than one of my arms.
- 19:56 - Dinner is finished. The highlight was feeding the dogs the scraps of last night's T-bone feast: it's funny how your half-retarded, snuggle-puss dog becomes a snarling Hell-beast as soon as the beast flesh comes out.
At one point during the bloodfeast, I would up with my left index finger between whatever passes for back molars on a dog: that shit is still smarting, well after the fact.
- 20: 17 - Having latency and NAT type issues on the Xboxes. I've got my router forwarding Xbox-specific ports (80, 3074, etc.) to my machine, but obviously I can't make that happen for Matt and Alex. Not so good, Al.
- 21:04 - Still no joy. Matt has had enough of network configuration.
- 21:34 - Alex wants dessert: the four of us (including dog) suit up for trip into town.
- 22:02 - Fortunately, the Cold Stone Creamery in the Sim Village is open until ten on Fridays: Matt got mint chocolate chip; Alex had some kind of peanut-buttery, strawberry ice cream suicide.
Saturday, December 24th
- 00:58 - OK. That's about enough for tonight.
- 09:02 - Back in it.
- 10:01 - Just finished up with the whole breakfast: fried eggs and grits. Dropped one my of eggs (while attempting to plate it) and fed it to the dog. The fucking dog has been eating like a champion this week. finger still hurts from last night.
- 10:14 - Matt and Alex head out for coffee; for my part, I've got a pickle jar of Just Coffee "Reanimator" and my Dark Souls save to attend: back to the catacombs.
- 12:03 - Two Africans dressed up like characters out of Dickens show up at my door: "we want to give you this magazine about how the Bible cannot be destroyed."
As I consider the cover of the magazine, which shows an enormous granite-colored tome super-imposed upon what look like depictions of civil unrest, I imagine inviting them in to explain how their particular sect's canon is the inviolable one, and how the previous and subsequent arrangements, collections and translations compiled by competing sects are works predicated upon this or that soul-imperiling error. In my mind's eye, what happens next is a free-wheeling Socratic romp, where I thrust with unanswerable questions about unknowable editors beholden to unrecorded contingencies and they parry with mawkish, over-earnest protestations of essential (spiritual?) certainty and riposte with that fumbling, one-hand's-worth-of-greasy-fingers-versus-a-bra-clasp-in-a-pitch-black-closet exegesis for which doorstep evangelists are so well known.
My day dream ends suddenly as one of them moves to put the magazine into my hand and I follow the black felt of his pea coat back up to his face; I mark the petulant, vicious condescension behind his cloying smile, and, with a flash of anger, remember of a sudden that rhetorical disputation in the wild, where religion kills and enslaves, is not the same as rhetorical disputation in the academy. As I close the door on this man who came to my door to advocate for the targeted indoctrination of society's most vulnerable members (e.g. children, the poor) into whichever cult for whatever reasons, I half-shudder/half-shrug: a religious conversion campaign coming to one's doorstep on the eve of a holiday dedicated to peace and the protection of the innocent is a bracing hypocrisy.
- 13:23 - Alex and Matt have returned. They bought forks and spoons, in addition to an assortment of additional provisions. It is time for me to start working on the Xbox networking situation again.
- 15:45 - Walked. Ruminated. Thought about how my burning hatred for religion proceeds from my feeling that the descent into sincere commitment to the literal reality of religious verbiage represents a base state of hopelessness and confusion that, while pitiful in a dog, is unforgivable in a man. Also reflected on why port triggering might not be solving my multi-Xbox NAT issues.
- 16:41 - Matt broke a cabinet in the kitchen--tore the fucker right off its hinge. I made a few emergency repairs. Matt conjectured that whoever worked on the kitchen at 712 Silver Spring didn't give his work five minutes of planning aforethought. I was unable to disagree with him.
- 16:56 - Cracked open a Pork Slap. Pretty good; has a mineral water citrus thing going on.
- 17:31 - Just tried a Samurai Ale (Great Divide). GDBC is really impressing me this staycation. Matt agrees: "at first I was sure that this beer was going to be nothing but a triumph of marketing, but there's really something here." The thing I'm noticing about GDBC is that they're not just naming shit with catchy names in order to put a flashy label on the bottle: every Great Divide I've had in the last five days has actually had a very detectable consonance between the brew and the label. You don't really see that with the craft brewers all the time.
- 18:02 - Alex leaves out in order to drive up Colesville to the Gamestop and see if they'll sell him a copy of Dark Souls: "last minute Christmas gift? Fuck no: I need one copy of Dark Souls for my damn self."
- 18:31 - No joy on the Dark Souls front: the crotchety girl working the counter on Christmas Eve sent Alex away empty handed.
- 21:05 - Dinner is over. Here is Matt's transcription of the menu:
.The hens looked really impressive. The soup was very exceptional. Matt took copious photos with his fancy depth-of-field camera.
- 21:48 - Matt wants to watch Takashi Miike's 13 Assassins. Putting that on.
- 22:53 - Assassins was pretty great. At some point during the movie, I am pretty sure I said something like, "any time I sit down to watch a movie and a 40 minute Kurosawa sword battle is the result, that's a success condition."
- 23:36 - Alex wants us to watch the first ten minutes of The Warrior's Way.
- 23:55 - Warrior's Way was a bit of a let down. Comical magical realism immediately following a Miike samurai movie is unacceptably crass/cloying. Matt is convinced that the hero is being played by a Korean pop singer whose professional name is "Rain". Maybe some other time.
Sunday, December 25th
- 00:01 - Putting on The Last Boyscout.
- 00:58 - Turned off The Last Boyscout about an hour in; dudes are passed out.
- 09:37 - Someone's in the shower. I need to get out of bed in order to open the shade to let the basil get some light.
- 10:07 - Matt and Alex have left again: they expect to find a CVS and a chain grocery store open. I expect to greet them with a hearty "I told you so" when they return.
- 10:36 - Ugh: just made the mistake of fucking with Peanut Butter Crunch before sundown again. Feel like an alien face hugger is about to hatch from my abdomen.
- 11:14 - Dog and I hit the couch. Reanimator is still doing it. Still in the fucking Catacombs (although, technically, it's the Tomb of Giants now, but FIWE).
- 13:01 - Matt and Alex return. Apparently a Safeway was open. Matt saw a dude buying several frozen dinners and three frozen pizzas. "If he's spending Christmas alone, he's probably a horrible person and he deserves it." "Hey: I spent Christmas alone last year." "Yes--exactly: you're a horrible person." "And I definitely deserved it."
- 14:08 - I leave the Catacombs and see videogame sunlight for the first time in three real days. The dark humor of the coincidence is...whatever.
Monday, December 26th
- 00:33 - Beat Alex's Zangief as Honda: calling it a night; going out on top.
- 08:24 - Back on duty.
- 08:28 - Alex is (asleep?) on the couch; Full Metal Jacket is playing on his laptop.
- 08:56 - Against my better judgment, I am about to to start working the stack of work emails.
- 10:14 - Alex has returned with his own copy of Dark Souls.
- 13:36 - Tentatively finished with the work email bit. We'll see if I don't fall back into it. Smells like someone is burning animal flesh downstairs.
- 13:43 - Just made a truck payment and wrote a rent check. Hooray for adulthood.
- 15:15 - Took the dog on a walk; encountered a gaunt, painfully inbred-looking Great Dane who stood chest high on me and eye-to-eye with its diminutive lady owner.
- 15:48 - Found a "Rat Kup" rat poison dispenser by the creepy, spider-habitat sink in the basement where Matt's cats have been playing. Further investigation of the scene revealed high, un-reachable (even by cats) shelves where other ancient-looking cups containing the fully decomposed forest green "dust" were found.
Symptoms of exposure to or consumption of rodentcide include lethargy: how the fuck do you tell if a cat is lethargic?
- 16:19 - The good Dr Roy of the Ambassador Animal Hospital around the corner on Sligo Ave. does not think there is much chance of acute exposure; we're going to collect some evidence, CSI-style, and bring the cats and the evidence around tomorrow so that the docs can assess the likelihood of long-term effects.
- 17:42 - Just fucked around with stuff in the basement for about 30 minutes. It's coming together. My turntable has some kind of weird short where the pop of the needle on the record causes one of the RCA outs to go dead until you jiggle it. Thinking about chasing that around with the micrometer tomorrow.
- 18:03 - Back to the real: logging back into the murder simulator for some more Dark Souls.
- 21:48 - Starting Redbelt with Matt and Alex.
- 22:03 - Alex is out cold, sawing hell of logs.
- 22:41 - The Eagle just phoned in to confirm a.) his arrival time tomorrow, b.) where he plans to dine and c.) that the Bulls will win, so long as he watches the entirety of the game that they are playing.
- 23:57 - Just finished Redbelt: turning in before midnight. Feels good.
Tuesday, December 26th
- 07:46 - Dog is barking. What is she barking?
- 08:17 - Alex is parked in by...someone?
- 08:35 - The person blocking Alex's truck turns out to have been a nurse, minding the old lady next door. Once she moved, Alex hit the road just as the clouds burst and the rain that brought him in resumed.