17 December 2009

trainshow


Not a super-ton to say here...but I figured it's best to push any entry down the page a bit that declares how "remarkably shitty" I've been.  God, it's so embarrassing to read the things I write on here when I'm in a bad mood.  I don't know what prevents me from just deleting all that stuff, other than a misguided desire to preserve...something.  Anyway, I'm much better now. Promise.  As proof, check out all these pictures I took at the Holiday Train Show at the NYBG.

Wonderful to remember once in a while that local tourism and awesomeness are not mutually exclusive.

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16 August 2009

I never do this anymore.

So, I went to London and Dublin last month, and for days and days after the trip, I found myself dreaming up pithy witticisms and observations to put up here chronicling my journey. And, well, it's been a few weeks now and I don't remember most of them. I can tell you that while I was half joking to myself when I planned to say something like "I never want to eat mayonnaise again as long as I live," that particular aversion has not subsided. It might even have grown, in fact. Not unlike my belly after so much mayonnaise.

I took a bunch of pictures on the trip of London (mostly of buildings), Dublin (again, a lot of buildings), and the U2 concert that brought us there in the first place (mostly of aging rock gods). Check them out if you want. Also, I wrote a lot more about the concert at wealsoran.com, where my writings about concerts and the like tend to end up.

Anyway, after the trip to Europe, which was fun but incredibly stressful, I'm just returning from a different kind of trip. I spent last week couch surfing in Los Angeles, and doing very little other than enjoying good friends, good food, and good drink. Oh, and we fired shotguns.

With these two trips under my belt (the build-up-steam and the blow-off-steam), I'm about to take a few very deep breaths, and go under water for 2 months as SAT season revs up again. I'm as ready as I'll ever be, I suppose.

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11 May 2009

Wicked

I spent the weekend in the Boston area for a wedding, and took this picture of the corner of a local newspaper while I waited for a pizza that ended up smacking the Brooklyn pizza smugness right off my face. I took plenty of pictures of people at the wedding, too, which will appear soon in the places that pictures of people often go. Stupid pictures like this one go here on my stupid website. So I can say stupid things about them.

I just got a kick out of the fact that the word "wicked," a colloquialism that finds its way into just about every sentence locally (and is used everywhere else in the world whenever the speaker wishes to mock the dialect of those who worship at the Church of Fenway), is now being used by a cabal of regional papers to promote their provincial web presence.

The days of the local rag may be numbered, but I take comfort in knowing that they're not going down without making caricatures of themselves and reinforcing stereotypes about the people that've kept them in business this long.

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09 July 2008

One more thing about California

In more than one store in the San Diego area, I was offered a choice of a paper or plastic bag. This is something that I remember being commonplace when I would accompany my mom to the grocery store as a kid, but that I've never witnessed in 4 years in New York. What's more, it wasn't just a simple, indifferent "Paper or plastic?"

"Would you like a paper bag," one checkout girl asked with a shy, almost flirty smile. Then she crumpled up her face, as though she had overheard a racist joke at the very same moment that she smelled a fart, to finish the question: "or do you need plastic?"

Honestly, I spent a good deal of the trip dismayed at the fact that one must drive forever to get anywhere in Southern California, but this bit of environmental awareness really warmed my heart a bit.

Yeah, I hug the shit out of trees.

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07 July 2008

California roundup

I'm sitting in the San Diego Airport waiting for a delayed red eye flight back to JFK. What better time to fashion a bulleted list to document and reflect upon -- in a disorganized way -- my trip to Californ-I-A?
  • This afternoon on a double-decker bus tour of downtown S.D., I saw clouds in the sky for the first time all week. A few wispy, white, unmenacing clouds.
  • We rented a convertible for the week, a Mitsubishi Eclipse.
    • The first car I ever drove was a Wrangler, so I know what it's like to drive without a roof, but it's different in California when it's warm enough to do it every day. Also, the Eclipse's engine never stalled dead at 70 mph on the highway like that old Wrangler used to do.
    • I've never really been behind the wheel of even an entry-level sports car before. Don't get me wrong, I love the Yaris, but it was nice to be able to take off on an open road without the fear of an automotive hernia.
  • One really does need a vehicle to do anything here.
  • On a related note, we saw fireworks on the 4th at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, and I have never in my life seen such expansive parking lots. And it still wasn't enough.
  • At the fair, you could pay someone to strap you into an apparatus, and slingshot you straight up a few hundred feet in the air, and then bounce you around bungee-style, upside down and inside out, until you begged for death.
  • They had a swing ride at the fair. I've vomited on a number of carnival rides in my life, but never in so fantastic a manner as I did on the swings at the Big East fair in Connecticut when I was about 10. At least I think it was that fair. I just remember the shirt I was wearing. And the barf.
  • This airport has only one runway, and a plane either lands or takes off every 90 seconds. Why oh why not mine?
  • I just realized an epic fail: I left something I really would've liked to keep in the rental car. Fudge.
  • You know what's really big? An aircraft carrier. Although we didn't go on (who has the time), we did drive by, and The Midway is huge. It's really amazing that something like that can float.
  • If you get bitten by a rattlesnake, apparently, you should NOT ask someone to suck the poison out. Which really makes me think...what OTHER misinformation have I been fed by Hollywood?
  • Of course, when in San Diego, one must go to the zoo. The animal that stares most hungrily at zoo visitors: the Komodo dragon. Animals that dig most enthusiastically in each others' butts: these guys.
  • The people I met in San Diego were, in general, extremely proud of their city. And not in a jingoistic "your city sucks" kind of way (I'm looking at you, Boston), in a charming way. It made me like the city more.
  • Only about 15,000 people live in downtown San Diego (according to the recording on the tour bus). I thought it was way bigger than that.
There's more, probably. But I landed back in New York yesterday, having cut this off when the plane began to board and I wasn't done yet. So...try not to lose any sleep lamenting the incompleteness of a post that, if you really read it, might have been the biggest waste of your time since you watched this.

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03 July 2008

Now that's what I'm talking about.

It's been a long time since I sat down to write here. A lot has happened, too. I had my 5 year college reunion at the end of May, and surely something worth mentioning happened in June, although it became the first month since I made this site that didn't see even a single post.

So I've been down, with regards to the site, but I'm not out. Not as long as life continues to greet me with awesome things like this:That's the toilet paper roll at The Standard in Downtown Los Angeles, from the desk of which I am currently writing this post. Actually, I don't know if it's from this particular hotel or one of their other ones, because I had to find it here via Google image search; my camera has committed Seppuku since the last time I used it, perhaps to avoid the dishonor of snapping this very picture (the first I tried to take upon arrival). Regardless, I was careful in removing that sticker, and I'm keeping it.

Right, Los Angeles. So far it's pretty cool, even without the pooping sticker. We went to The Getty Center, and have had some amazing sushi. We even got to check out a show at El Rey.

The Getty Center was the only time I've been madder about the camera since it broke than I was when I saw the toilet paper -- it's transcendently beautiful. In New York I've felt the few times I've been to the Guggenheim that the architecture of the building remains the main attraction, overshadowing whatever collections reside within. Well, add to The Getty's amazing architecture a panoramic view of Los Angeles (and its smog) from a hilltop, some remarkable gardens and fountains, and a cloudless sunny sky, and you might understand why we didn't see much of the artwork housed inside the buildings. I didn't want to leave.

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02 July 2007

the cliff walk

Was in Rhode Island this weekend for a wedding (congrats Maribeth and Tom!) and finally checked something off my to-do list that's been lingering for a pretty long time. I walked The Cliff Walk in Newport all the way. I'd done parts of it before, but yesterday I did the whole thing.

So the whole thing is like 3.5 miles, but then you have to walk back. That's right this lazy sack of bones made it 7 miles yesterday, which is probably more than I walked in the entire month of May (maybe kidding). Here are some pictures I took that are not artistic at all:
light at the end of the tunnelthis bird stretches his neckOther people have taken nicer pictures and posted them on flickr.

Here's something else that just occurred to me today: the New York Post, that bastion of journalistic integrity and pithy headline commentary, has been making awesome puns and wordplay in giant white block-type forever. Lolcats are awesome and all, I'm just saying that if one is to give credit where credit is due, some credit might be due to the NY Post.



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30 May 2007

Little Rhody Brand Frankfurts

Far and wide have I traveled, long have I searched for my white whale. This weekend, I am happy to report, one of the final (and almost certainly the most elusive) obstacles crumbled at my victorious feet.

Ed Robalasky (pictured center) is the proprietor of Little Rhody Brand Frankfurts, and represents "probably the 4th or 5th" Robalasky generation to run the family business from an unassuming corner lot in Johnston, RI. While their culinary accomplishments are many, none are so triumphant, so famous and so infamous as their distinction as the sole hot dog provider to The Ocean State's very own NY System weiner restaurants. My devotion to these comestibles is boundless and well-documented, but it was only on this fateful Memorial Day weekend that my quest to prepare my own NY Systems in the state whose name they carry was rejuvenated with the discovery that the unique hot dogs that are so integral to their taste are indeed available for purchase.

We got a 10 lbs. box (also pictured). Which I can all but guarantee you amounts to more hot dogs than you think it does. It should go without saying that I have already for some time been in possession of the requisite spice mix. Soon, so very soon, I will stack wieners up my very own arm. I've been tittering with excitement, unable to sleep, for days.

One last note about Ed: It is with no small sum of reverence that I tell you that I witnessed with my own eyes Ed persuade a vegetarian of 15 years to eat a hot dog.

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22 May 2007

hello my treacherous friend




I finally spent the money and developed the last 4 rolls of film that have been following me around since college*. A sizable chunk of them ended up being pictures from the cross-country road trip my friend Sarah and I did the summer before our senior year, from Portland (the farther one) all the way to Providence. Lots of pictures of animals, rock formations, and geysers. Some of them came out pretty okay.

But as you can see above, I also spent considerable time my senior year developing my healthy obsession with centipedes; running for my camera every time a centipede scampered across my floor (which was basically every day). Some shots came out okay, although just like the last time I did this, it's easy to tell these shots have been sitting around undeveloped for around 5 years.


*I can't believe how shitty it felt to pay money to see my pictures. What a long way we've come.

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16 April 2007

of balls and weiners

made it up to providence this weekend for just under 24 hours to attend the wbru rock hunt. and to play golf at my old favorite rhode island course. and, most importantly, to eat my weight in new york system wieners. the golf was fun and even though i was terrible, i didn't lose a single ball. the wieners were heavenly, of course. as is always the case, i didn't have nearly enough time to see everyone i wanted to and it was all over too fast. and as for the rock hunt...

all 4 bands were good. the blizzard of 78 (formerly delta clutch), arcadia landing (formerly slik willy), triangle forest, and hello mahalo. but it was triangle forest that ran away with the show. i wrote more about them on mog. they're good. check them out.

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19 March 2007

let's get on the same page

  • i got my hair cut. short.
  • that grey hair really is sneaking up on me.
  • i'm in san jose now for work. but as i think i've probably said before, the inside of a conference center looks mostly the same no matter where you go. same with airports and hotel rooms.
  • i do, however, have a king-sized bed in this particular room. last night i slept sideways.
  • i am sick as a dog and i can't seem to shake it.
  • there are forklifts whizzing by me every few seconds, which is pretty cool. did you ever see that german forklift safety video? it's awesomely bloody and campy and i never did find out if it was for real or not but it sure is awesome.
  • i'm in computer transition. it's not really an excuse for not writing on here since transition or not i am very rarely more than 30 feet from a keyboard. it should, however, make the music recording process a bit easier this time around.
  • i do, eventually, plan on recording some more songs.

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28 February 2007

dublin: everything else

here's the rest of everything i scribbled in dublin. i feel like a butthead for being to lazy to type this out for so long.

last night we ate at eddie rockets (like johnny rockets, only eddie's). surely a very expensive market research study is behind this. [turns out they're not connected. who knew?] Similarly so for tk maxx. [who are connected to tj maxx.] i ordered the atomic burger in desperate search for some spice (they don't seem to like spice very much here) and even though it had jalapeños and chili on it, it was still...middlingly spicy. but delicious.

we've done a ton of tour bus rides. some of the drivers tell the same jokes as each other ("if you look closely at the ground level of the department of defense, you can see de-fence!") but they're all quite funny and it's a surprisingly effective way to see some things you don't have time to see up close. i'd recommend it to anyone.

you can walk pretty much everywhere here in about 10 minutes. the crosswalk system is mind-boggling, so everyone jaywalks. which is dangerous if you're always looking the wrong way for oncoming traffic. on more than one occasion we could have known first hand what it would be like for a double-decker bus to crash into us (to die by your side...). the walk signals here make laser gun noises to alert you that it's ok to cross the street.

i've taken a lot of photographs of buildings. and statues. i've already forgotten the stories behind most...but they sure are nice to look at. it's a beautiful city. you can see basically all of it from the guinness storehouse's "gravity bar," which is only 7 stories up.



guinness is like budweiser here, which is funny. they have branding in the windows of almost every pub. it has the same effect on the locals, it seems, as budweiser's stateside omnipresence has: people who order guinness seem to me to be people who only drink guinness. everyone else drinks cooler beers, like bud and heineken. crazy world.

we toured the dublin castle today, which remains a functional government building. strange to think that ireland has only been a completely sovereign nation for 85 years. they've had a woman president since 1995 and will until at leat 2014. cool.


saw a fish & chips place that apparently springsteen himself has visited (lots of other famous folks, too) but we'd already eaten chips at a different place across the liffey, about a 10 minute's walk away. [too bad really, apparently burdock's has the best fish & chips in all of ireland, if those reviews are to be believed.]
it was supposed to rain the whole time we were here. we fly out tomorrow morning, and no rain yet. [it did rain the morning we left.] it's been about 40º - 50º F, too. which is outright balmy compared to nyc lately. i'd really like to stay here a while longer.

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26 February 2007

dublin: first impressions

god damn, i am miserably bad at following through with my promises these days. blame crackdown. here's the first bit of pictures and some scribblings from my recent trip to dublin. i've tried to remain faithful to whatever it is that i seemed to mean at the time.
(most of my pictures look like this. i have no idea what it is.)

i find myself eavesdropping a lot. on every conversation i can, actually. i like the accent, i guess. and how they call people "lads" instead of "guys."
(molly malone statue at grafton street)

our hotel room is nice. the bathroom sink has a shallow basin and a faucet with comically aggressive water pressure, which makes for a pretty cool booby-trap.
(looking out over dublin from the top of the guinness storehouse. i'm getting my hair cut really soon, mom.)

the city's centre (see what i did there?) doesn't have many (any) tall buildings.

there don't seem to be any investment bankers lurking about here.
(the black stuff.)

the street signs (when there are any) are right on the corners of buildings and they're really easy to miss. it's easy to get lost but the city seems small so thusfar it's also been easy enough to get found again.
(awesome neon sign in temple bar. why indeed.)

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19 February 2007

jetlag

i sure have missed you. i thought about you a few times while i was gone, even. "gone where," you say? well, for the first half of last week i was bumming around in the waldorf=astoria*. long story short, a free room came by way of my girlfriend (work related), and there aren't many things that i like more than sitting around and doing nothing, which is exactly what i did there while she worked. then at night we had some nice dinners. i didn't take a single picture of the place. so...imagine a hotel room. that's what it looked like. the rest of the events that transpired there need not be repeated.

and then we took off for a weekend in dublin. regular jetsetters, we are. and i did take a lot of pictures in dublin. i'll be posting a bunch later. i scribbled a bunch of notes to you while i was there, too. i'll spend some time later in the week decoding from those pages what it is exactly that i meant to tell you. i figure wherever i can, i'll include pictures to break up the babble. that'll be keen.



so i'll catch up with you soon with some irish shit. right now, it's bedtime. work tomorrow, you know.

* did you know it's a hilton hotel? gross.

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20 May 2006

as you were

ruby left a pretty insightful comment the other day about how life just picks up right where you left off when you get back from a long trip, and how discomforting that can sometimes be. i guess because so many things can happen to you when you're far away (and how...) and then you get back and your friends are the same and you do the same sort of dumb things with them.

today it was really nice out in new york. we wanted to have a beer on a porch. but neither of us have a porch.

my friend, however, does live in a building that has a roof. a roof that's strictly off-limits to tenants, but a roof nonetheless. so, ignoring the sign that said the roof was off-limits except in emergency situations, he began to climb the rickety ladder with a plastic bag full of 2 large asahi cans. i mean these cans are big.

so he's about 15 feet off the ground on this ladder when the bag somehow breaks just enough to drop one but not both of them. i'm lucky it didn't break my head, i guess. i pick up the severely dented can, and carry it up with me as i follow him to the rooftop.

it's some serious shit up there. i guess the reason it's restricted is because the tenants of the top floor have staircases that go up to it and it's basically divided into two private porches for those two apartments. so there's one that's all fenced in with a hot tub and a garden and signs warning about trespassing and security cameras and lasers and guard werewolves.

the other one appears to be under construction. there's some 2x4's nailed together in what will eventually be a really nice deck, and some bricks in patio formation as well. and a bunch of ladders and supplies everywhere. so we're standing on this unfinished deck and just as my friend opens the beer he just dropped 15 feet (he was decent enough to volunteer to take that one) and tries to catch the firehose-volume spray in his mouth only to soak his entire face and head, the owner of the apartment comes up the stairs with this crazy-man look on his face like "what the fuck are you doing on my roof."

so he says "what the fuck are you doing on my roof," and my friend apologizes profusely and begins to clean up the huge amount of spilled beer from the outdoor wooden porch with his shirt (i think that was an unneccesary gesture, but to each his own). then the guy goes back downstairs and we decide to cut our losses and leave before he calls the cops or something. so back down we went, and instead of enjoying a beer in the sun on a new york city rooftop, we enjoyed a beer in his apartment and played video games.

usually i don't bother with stories like this because there's no way they could be as funny to you as they were at the time, but this time it just seemed indicative of the way life so quickly goes back to "normal" (hah!) when you return from a long trip.

everything is different, but still a lot is the same.

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19 May 2006

stockholm four

i'm home now. already a part of me feels like i never left new york and another part of me wishes i never left stockholm. i think i slept for about 10 hours total the entire time i was there, and i'm about to start trying to catch up, but i wanted to jot down a few last things i thought of that i'd like not to forget.
  • almost all the swedish folks i flew close enough to notice ordered two drinks every time the stewardess came by. i didn't even know you could do that. and always black coffee. the coffee there is almost an entirely different experience from the coffee we drink here. very strong and thick.
  • my last night out there i got to see some non-touristy spots and they reminded me of some of the bars i like in new york city. i guess cool places aren't that different anywhere you go. i still chickened out when it was my turn to order drinks though and even though i was told how to do it in swedish i still did it in english. i'm ashamed to admit that.
  • it is impossible to know how old people are there unless you ask.
  • i guess they have a fashion thing right now that sorta imitates the roaring 20's. which is kinda cool.
  • i mentioned before about the baffling lightswitch in the hotel. i eventually figured out that when you first enter the room you're supposed to put your keycard in this slot near the door as the master switch. but now that i'm home i can show you this video i took.
  • i also mentioned the music before, too. well, they have a show there (i think it's called eurovision) which is kinda like american idol in that it's mediocre pop talent that you vote for with your cell phone, but it's also kinda like the olympics in that each country is represented by a band. it's mostly pop music, and mostly in english. i watched it for a pretty long time while i was getting ready to go out one night. the finnish entry was not only not pop, but it was something i had heard before. i think i even may have linked to it from here before. watch this video for lordi - hard rock hallelujah, and then imagine the shitkicking elation i felt when i got to see these guys do it live with roman candles and sparklers shooting out of their guitars and them in full demon costumes, before and after eastern european kelly clarkson wannabes. oh man.
so that's all i can think of. it's long past time i hit the hay.

update: i found a vid of the lordi performance i saw. well, the bbc broadcast of it, anyway.

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18 May 2006

stockholm three

the back of the keycard to my hotel room says the following (only in english, which is just about the only thing that's not printed in both english and swedish. i thought this was worth sharing:

"if you find this key card, please read below. until 12 o'clock tomorrow, this card is valid in one of 532 rooms or in one of 17 conference rooms at the clarion hotel stockholm. however, if you are a thief do not even consider visiting us, as we have very good security both inside and outside the hotel and our front desk peronnel (sic) have eyes like hawks. if you are a guest or potential guest and would like more information about some of the different benefits we can offer you whilst staying at clarion hotel stockholm, please contact the front desk at telephone number (blahblah), and they will be happy to share with you all the great arrangements we have with our partners
below."

then it goes on to list some partners. but how weird is that?

in other news, i hate to keep saying the same thing over and over, but it's basically the only thing i can think about. i am absolutely the most exhausted i have ever been in my life. between the jetlag and the 3am party nights and the fact that the sun rises at around 4am, it's been a long week.

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16 May 2006

stockholm two

  • apparently tipping a cab driver is the most confusing thing you can ever do in sweden.
  • there's been something i wasn't able to put my finger on about this place, until a nice british fellow named nigel that we've been spending time with pointed it out. people stare you in the eyes here. according to nigel, that's true about all "scandies." but coming from new york (or london) where people would rather poke their eyes with a fork than look into yours with them, it's rather unnerving.
  • the toilets here have two flush options. from what i can gather (based on the size of the buttons) one is your standard flush, and one is for when you really mean business.
  • the money here is strangely sized. like coins in the us, all the different denominations for the paper money are different sizes. and the exchange rate is roughly 7.5 kronos to a dollar, which is tough math to do on the fly in your head. so i have basically no idea how much money i've been spending.
  • last night i went to a bar made totally of ice. you drink out of glasses made of ice. they give you a parka and mittens. it was awesome, but also basically a commercial for absolut vodka, which was the only liquor they served. also it was etched into the ice walls in a bunch of places.
  • i am so tired that i am having trouble remembering things. this happened to me the summer that i worked at a golf course and had to wake up every day at 4am, too. when you don't sleep you don't remember.
  • i haven't been taking as many pictures as i should.

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15 May 2006

stockholm one

I’m writing this at around 11am Stockholm time (which is somewhere in the middle of the night in dear old new york. I haven’t figured out the wifi in this hotel yet, so i won’t be posting immediately, which is why I mention it. In fact, I haven’t figured out the lightswitches in this hotel yet. They are baffling. Here are some initial impressions of Stockholm.
  • Even from the airplane, this place looks a lot different than anywhere I’ve ever been before.
  • People here are attractive and well dressed to the extent that it’s intimidating. i expected that, but I didn’t expect that.
  • The fonts on the highway signs are blockier. Everything is cleaner.
  • I am really tired.
  • So far everyone’s been really friendly. For my part, I haven’t been very talkative.
  • I realized on the plane when the guy who I sat down next to greeted me in Swedish that I know less than nothing about this place. Not even how to say hello. or whether they’d drive on the left or the right side of the street here. (it’s the right.) who just gets on a plane to fly across an ocean with absolutely no idea what he’s getting into? This guy.
  • There is no bureau in this hotel room. And not enough hangers. But the bathroom is majestic.
  • The pop music isn’t bad when it’s not in English. Or at least, I can’t tell it’s bad. The pop songs in English are pretty awful, although i guess american pop songs are just as awful. The tv in the room was on when I got in with a message welcoming me by name, and a pop radio station on. I’ve left it on while I unpack because I like listening to the dj’s. I don’t understand a word of it but I’m pretty sure they spent 3 minutes talking about transsexuals.
  • the cab took me past a bunch of american football fields, so i guess they play that here.
  • I am in over my head.
Ok. I should change my clothes and get over to the convention center and meet up with everyone. No idea how I’m going to do that. I always thought it would be cool if you could commission a catapult to just launch you wherever you wanted and there would be big foamy landing cushions everywhere that the catapults were programmed to hit. I know they don’t do that in new york, but maybe I should inquire with the concierge. You never know, right? Or I guess I could just take a cab.

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