A Night Of Many Smells

UPDATE 3/31/01: Noders are now pouring into the area by the dozens, in cars, trucks, biplanes, scooters, stolen motorcycles, and even the Mystery Tour bus! All of them are seeking the mysterious treasure buried under the big 'W'...But who will win???

So I wrote on the day of the get-together, as delightful a mental image (to me, at least) as any I have ever come up with.

Robot Roll Call!

I picked m_turner up at the airport on Saturday morning. Michael had said he would look just like his home node pic, complete with fedora, long hair, and beard, and this was absolutely true. He was also carrying a tripod. I assumed that he just carried one in case he needed to support unwieldy objects, but it turned out that he was a passionate amateur phtotgrapher who intended to catch Mother Nature unawares in the hours before the meet.

We headed for La Jolla where after a spell of confused tracking and backtracking we finally located a bistro where Michael could pick up some breakfast. We passed an hour in amiable companionship on a sidewalk bench as he ate his ham and cheese sandwich, after which he set off to find lodgings and scenery while I went to run errands.

That evening my wife Angela and I set off for Porkyland. I was either looking for a guy with a bike and a GPS, or a guy with bleached hair and a Powerbook. I quickly spotted Lost And Found's bleached 'do, but what really sruck me about the trio in front of the restaurant is what others have described in other get-together nodes -- you can just tell who the Everythingians are. I think the essence of the mysterious Everything Factor is this: that we don't look like the kind of people you would expect to show up somewhere together, but we are all obviously joined in a common purpose.

As we talked, others began trickling in in ones and twos. I don't want to take up vast amounts of space with notes on each and every person who attended, but here are a few random impressions from dinner:

The overriding theme in people's stories was odor: things, people, and places ended up reeking of garlic, Lawry's seasoning, lettuce, carrots, and Hormel chili.

owlbreath added an air of intrigue to the proceedings by refusing to tell us who he was. We wore him down eventually in a hard-fought battle of wills, though I was disappointed when my theory that he was secretly The Evil Anti-Quizro turned out to be wrong.

Yurei, who proudly serves in the armed forces, regaled us with tales of fried cockroaches, the seething hatred of Western culture in Bahrain, enraged monkeys in Filipino dumpsters, and the manhandling of an elderly beggar he witnessed in Thailand. This last poor bastard became a bit of a running gag for us rich, lazy, apathetic Americans throughout the evening. Ha ha! Let us laugh at the misfortune of others!

Yurei also mentioned that E2 seemed to be displaying random writeups in 133t-speak. Oh, yeah! I remembered that April Troll's Day was soon to begin. I asked what the current server time was, and he confirmed that it was indeed April 1st. (Yurei's watch displays Paris, London, New York, Tokyo and E2 time. Not really, but that would be cool.) Suddenly I was in the rare position of knowing a secret that no one else there knew. Had I guessed at the fear and anger the event was to engender, I would have said something; but I was reveling in my 'insider' status and just nodded in what I hoped was a cryptic and inscrutable manner and went back to my taco. I'm such a dork sometimes.

My personal award for Best-Dressed Noders goes to Chihuahua Grub and prole, who practically radiated retro cool and hip sophistication. CG is also a spellbinding raconteur and has excellent taste in music, by which I mean "very much like my own". It's a real pity he lives in Reno, a sentiment I think he would wholeheartedly agree with though for different reasons.

Lost And Found is a quiet man, but when he spoke his words had great depth and feeling. He made a mix CD for the occasion, which was just about the coolest thing.

igloowhite is FUNNY. I mean, lots of people there were funny, but his rendition of a public service announcement asking gun-toting rednecks to please check and make sure that a vehicle's abandoned before shooting it full of holes just about brought the house down.

After dinner and a group photo, the greater part of the San Diego contingent went away and the rest of us tried to figure out what to do next. prole suggested karaoke, and thus began a recurring motif of the evening for me: Asking People For A Copy Of The Yellow Pages. The employees at Porkyland denied having a phone book at all, and I suspect if I'd pressed the issue they would have denied even knowing what one was. The bartender next door cheerfully supplied one, but when I mentioned what we were looking for he instantly recommended a pizza place a few blocks away. Huzzah! Who needs the Yellow Pages? Off we go!

We passed a series of shops offering a variety of hilarious merchandise for people who have too much money (a ten-foot tall metal giraffe?) before arriving at Il Forno, where we were informed that karaoke was no longer offered, but we were welcome to go into the room anyway and watch a DJ spin. However intriguing the mental picture, several in the group needed alcohol badly so we abandoned our quest for karaoke and started looking for a bar.

The Karl Strauss Brewery looked promising, even though Yurei had startled a group of well-heeled society matrons earlier on by gesturing wildly at them through the window. The hostess showed us to an impossibly tiny booth which would never, EVER, in a MILLION YEARS, fit our party. While the more beer-hungry among us quenched their thirst at a small table, I ASKED FOR A COPY OF THE YELLOW PAGES and looked for alternatives.

We decided on the Princess Pub, which was downtown. Astonishingly we managed to keep our little convoy together on the way there and found ample parking in Little Italy. I realized with horror that I had left a whole mess of stuff at the brewery so I went up the bar, ASKED FOR A COPY OF THE YELLOW PAGES, and called them from a pay phone outside. Huzzah! They had my stuff and would hold it for me! By this time I too needed a drink, and it was with a sense of great relief that I joined the rest at a table.

Chihuahua Grub fed a slew of dollars into the jukebox and every song he picked was a delight. Conversation turned to Everything 2; we wondered about the fate of Malcolm Frink, lavished praise upon noders we admire (stand/alone/bitch's ears in particular were no doubt burning a continent away), and discovered shared interests based on C!'s we'd bestowed (I fessed up to being the one who'd soft-linked igloo's Hunter of Fascists, Ha Ha Ha! to Libra, establishing a common liking for writer Don DeLillo). I visited the men's room where I scrawled www.everything2.com on the sports page tacked to the wall above the urinal.

And then it was time to go. Noders from far and wide bid each other goodbye, expressed a heartfelt wish that we do this again sometime, and wearily rolled off into the night in search of much-needed rest -- except perhaps for prole, who wanted to drive to Los Angeles. Despite the mid-evening stumbling blocks, I think it went well overall. Angela and I had a great time, and I look forward to seeing these people again. Thanks to all who showed up and especially thanks to chrisjh, AKA Chris the Recommender, who led us to Porkyland.

Big Tall Super Maximum Fun Bomb Weekend Yes Go!
(a liar's account in two honest parts)

Faster, SUV! Pollute! Pollute!
(how we got there)

prole was lying on the grass because she was dead, i think, and respectfully airing out the smell of her formaldehyde bath so as that it wouldn't be overpowering once we were inside the vehicle and speeding happily from San Francisco to La Jolla (quick pronunciation guide: "la jolla" is pronounced "la jolla", you know, with all them fancy ferner accents and rolled r's and whatnot).

The vehicle itself was a mammoth, a Ford Super Deluxe Bang Bang Funtime with all the fixin's: leather exterior, gas powered CD player, tail fins, afterburners. I had stolen it from my mother who is, at this moment, still passed out on her kitchen floor from the cornucopia of tranquilizers I fed her. The SUV gets 20 gallons to the mile and kept threatening to tip over, roll, and explode with every curve and lane change.

Not to say that the journey was monotonous, but we took to playing drinking games after the sun had set. This obviously made driving the behemoth more interesting, as I usually play drinking games to lose. We were drunk on the sweet scotch of interstellar interstate travel. This was another ordinary day of an ordinary weekend on an ordinary planet. We stopped at Pismo Beach and took turns pushing each other on a mysterious swing set on the coast. After swing-jumping into the ocean, we felt it was time to move on.

By the time we hit Santa Barbara, we had moved from drinking games to strip poker and felt that it was best to find a place to stop for the night. The UCSB area was strangely abandoned, a mass alien abduction having apparently occured the night before. I asked a gangrenous local what the hell had happened, but his only words were, "Spriiiiiing breeeeeaaaaak..." He then tried to suck prole's brains with a silly straw, so I socked him in the sternum and we fled to a no-tell motel by the Santa Barbara airport.

Being bare-ass naked, we felt the best thing to do once at the motel was drink and watch TV. An artsy film about infidelity and insanity was on the tube and somehow enhanced the experience of the alcohol. A note about the motel: there were vaulted ceilings and cigarette burns on the nightstand. The shower was a hermetically sealed cleaning apparatus. It was a strange little place.

Here's the sum total of our combined rememberences of the rest of the evening:




(your prurient thoughts here)






No doubt something ribald must've happened. No doubt except for the fact that we awoke atop a pile of Games Magazines and Eskimo Pie wrappers. Eventually, it was all too obvious what had happened. We had succumbed to our desires and gone on an all night logic puzzle spree. I'm so ashamed. I used to be such a quiet boy.

The journey to La Jolla the next day was uneventful, save for the five thousand eunichs shaking our car and screaming, "Free Mumia!" We made it to Porkyland, purveyors of exotic Mexican foodstuffs impossibly wrapped in non-digestible cornhusks, and immediately spotted the large group of noders that had assembled there. They were wearing wooden masks and making sacrifices to the God of Olfactory.

The evening was obviously just getting started.

Upscale Suburban Drinking Establishment 1, Karaoke 0
(what we did when we got there)

Meeting noders was exactly how I expected it would be: conversations were started by one of us asking a question, and then the rest of us would add our replies in sequence. Most lines of dialogue were glib comments followed by an anxious expectation for C!'s and upvotes. Eventually everybody settled down, remembered how not to be complete social muppets, and talked about smelly things and rural mishaps.

It soon became apparent that Porkyland would no longer contain our need for the two necessities of life: karaoke and booze. m_turner took the picture of the assembled Porkyland group luckily just minutes before the locals came along and cannibalized the less fortunate members of the group, people whose names I had forgotten even minutes before I learned what they were. Our numbers were reduced to eight strong, so we ventured forth to bars unknown.

The common bond of the remaining group (if I remember correctly, it was Quizro and his wife, Yurei, igloowhite, lost and found, m_turner, prole, and myself, not to mention a small green space alien named "Kajamagoogoo" that only Yurei could see) was a love of ludicrousy. I was able to talk to Quizro and spouse (whose professions are belly dancer and international superspy, respectively) very briefly about El Fisico Nuclear before the group managed to pass a veritable warehouse of useless items that would only serve to overpower one's living room. Just in the storefront window was a pair of five-foot tall goblets (for the subtle alcoholic: "but i only have a glass of wine a night!"), an ornate wooden butler whose hand is forever held out to either receive a tip or some skin, and a herd of cast iron giraffes. We must've passed this place three times in our various travels that evening and each time we found new ways to extract rich, fruity merriment and nutritious vitamin funni from this establishment.

The blind led the blind towards the lost dutchman's hidden karaoke bar, and nobody could've been happier. When we arrived at what appeared to be Quizro's alleged karaoke happy funtime making plant, but apparently the place had ceased its off-key singing operations. We were ready to assume attack formation when Yurei (ironically, because he was the evening's head of military operations) suggested we go back to the bar where all the underage girls were.

We unanimously consented to this idea and withdrew our forces stealthfully into the night.

Finding a down-to-earth pub with an atmosphere conducive to conversation in La Jolla is somewhat akin to finding the hay in the needlestack: painful and fruitless. We arrived at the upscale brewery and they seated us a) in a two-foot-by-two-foot square room that was slowly being filled with deadly asps and b) nowhere near the underage girls' volleyball team. m_turner barely got to make a comment along the lines of "if there's grass on the field..." when he succumbed to the poison just as the combined strength of igloowhite's latent southern roots and Kajamagoogoo's magic space powers freed us from our brewery prison.

Quizro then asked the hostess for the yellow pages and some antidote.

After we licked our wounds and found a practical way to carry m_turner's corpse around without arousing suspicion, ala Weekend at Bernies, we decided on a proper pub in San Diego named, frighteningly enough, "The Princess". I struggled to remember my days as a tarot reader in a futile attempt to glean some sort of psychic guidance for the rest of the evening, but it was a moot point: I was never a tarot reader. We packed into three cars and headed down the freeway. lost and found handed me a double CD set with various audio encodings of the videodrome signal, thus completing his last requirement for his merit badge in E-V-I-L.

The Irish pub was in Little Italy, which didn't seem to phase that many of us. I fought the battle of the jukebox with someone who kept trying to pollute the noise around us with the latest Santana hit. A five dollar bill and a vague promise to include Margaritaville in the playlist (which I ended up fudging on because I'm that kind of asshole) won the day. There was much debate on the recent E2 accounts for sale / Malcolm Frink debacle, talk of secret messages over the urinal, seat swapping, flame juggling, radar describing, and belly dancing at the table. The sexual tension was thick and non-existent. Men wept openly. Women grew moustaches and rode Harleys. Somewhere, the world stood still.

And then the night was over, now, the night was over now. The waitress kept leaving subtle hints, like the bill, so we stiffed her and ran for the border. I won't talk about the next ten years that we spent in a Mexican prison, but I will let you know that the donkey show thing isn't just for entertainment. Eventually the group dissipated on good terms and we made plans to record a reunion record sometime in the spring. prole and I swiftly debated the merits of impersonating m_turner in order to get a hotel room, but lost and found beat us to the punch, so we undertook the two hour process of finding the only place to stay in the San Diego area, all the while believing it was all just some exceptionally cruel April Fool's joke.

At long last we gave up and instantly willed ourselves back to our respectful homes. And that's how I spent my summer vacation.

Carless in Gaza

-or-

How I got the SoCal E2 Get-Together, and what happened once I got there

230 miles roundtrip to a place I have never been before, so that, sight unseen, I could meet people I've never met before, and do all of it without the use of a car. This was my goal.

There are some qualifications, of course. There always are. I had at least acquainted myself with a couple of the folks by reading their writeups. And I was very gratefully ferried about a bit in a Yurei's Toyota truck. That's the disclaimer.

So, at noon, I log onto E2 to make sure this thing is still going to happen. This is my final go/no go. After that, I'm off the net, rigged out, clicked on, and bound for La Jolla. I dash off a quick update to tell folks I'm inbound, and to look for the dork on a red Cannondale.

I've preflighted the bike - checked the tires, the charge on my running lights and headlights, degreased and lubed the chain, tuned up the breaks. I've got a change of clothes, rain gear, toothbrush, headlamp, spare batts for headlamp and GPS, tool kit, spare tubes, patch kit, u-lock and cable, vest, arm warmers, helmet, sunglasses, pocket knife, and cellphone. My Garmin 3+ GPS is mounted on the handlebars, with the waypoints I loaded in the day before. I weight myself. I'm toting 35 pounds of gear. My bike weighs 26 pounds - total loadout is 60+ pounds. And I told myself to pack light.

1300 hrs - I leave the house and roll down Sunset. It's a fast ride to Union Station in downtown LA. I was speculating what I was going to have to do with the bike. When the moment comes, I just dismount and push the bike in the front doors. Nobody cares. This is because Union Station acres-large structure operating at about 20% its designed capacity, drafted at the peak of the age of rail. Passenger trams sped across the polished floors, mothers pushed giant kid-rovers loaded with children and kid-gear. I was lost in the background clutter. I grabbed my ticket from an automated kiosk and read The Two Towers until it was time to board

1400 hrs - We're told to board on track 11. The tracks are all accessed from a central concourse that's big enough to run a rural highway down the middle of it. I give into temptation and actually ride my bike the 200 meters down to the ramp up to the track. Time to apply the "national park" rule: when dealing with first-come first-serve distribution of space, take the slot that involves the longest walk. The lazy Americans all jam into the two cars right by the ramp. I am literally the only person in my car for two hours - because I pick the car on the end of the train. To be fair, I ride to the end of the train, which makes it pretty easy.

The train is a marvel. The Amtrak Surfliner sports beautiful double-decker cars with the organic lines of contemporary design. I take my bike right on and hang it from the vertical mount at the end of the car. The train is made in America! I can't belive it. I was sure it was going to be from Canada or Sweden, the way everything with that functional euro-design is. Built by the fine folks at Alstrom in Hornell, New York, the train is the embodiment of everything that is right with train travel. Every car has two restrooms, one of which is handicap accessible. The handicap restroom is entered using a sliding door that moves along quadro-circular arc. It's huge! Plenty of room to change clothes, put clean diapers on your baby, and feel like you aren't a Gemini astronaut while you're using the can.

More of the same with the seating. Parties of 4 can sit facing each other, euro-style. Unlike airplanes, where the seating is designed with weight economy as the main design factor, the seats on the train are like a cross between a good task chair and a lay-z-boy. 6'2" Igloo was extremely comfortable. Every seat had 120v ac power. Try getting that on an airplane. Driven by an massive diesel-electric, this baby has current to burn.

Unlike a plane, there is very little overture and preamble to starting. No jetway, just walk right on. No taxi to the runway. The conductor calls, the doors hiss shut, and the trip begins. You cross between cars on the upper deck. I stow my bag and head back to the cafe car to get a cup of coffee.

Heading south, out of LA, you get the impression that this is the backstage of the city, where all the infrastructure and maintenance for the big show between Hollywood and Malibu takes place. The train passes enormous piles of crushed glass, sorted by color, waiting to be recycled. We pass an acre of shopping carts, more shopping carts than you've ever seen in once place. Once you see it, though, it's obvious - all those shopping carts have to come from somewhere, and economies of scale dictate that it's cheaper to have one distributor handle them all.

We click past giant windowless white cubes - logistical hubs for nameless companies. Outside one of these, I see a group of Latino men eating their lunch. They are eating beneath a cluster of palm trees. The door open behind them is 3 feet thick, revealing a lightless interior. White fog spills out onto the roots of the palm trees. The men are dressed in massive insulated overalls, they look like the forgotten Mexican Sherpas for Scott's Antarctic expedition.On the straightaway between San Juan Capastrano and Oceanside, my GPS clocks the Surfliner making a solid 90 miles per hour. Godspeed the Surfliner.

Near Irvine, under the shadow of a 7-story high hangar of unknown purpose, an entire subdivison lays abandoned. A low progression of identical brown duplex stucco homes stretches into the distance. There are unused basketball hoops. Some of the windows still have their curtains up. Where did the people go? Did they climb aboard the experimental aircraft housed in the hangar, and fly off into ten thousand singing tomorrows?

1600 hrs. I detrain in Solana Beach. Up on the street, I fire up the GPS unit. Under my "waypoint" view it says: PORKY1 9.2 MI. "PORKY1" is the waypoint for Porkyland, where the get-together is slated to begin. I begin pedaling, making good time - running at a solid 17 miles an hour. I am the human-powered cruise missile, out of the tube and on track. Then I hit my first hill.

The thing I didn't do as planning for the trip was to run an elevation profile. This is where you plot your path into a map program, and then have the program compare your route to the terrain. The profile will tell you where the hills are, their grade, how long they are, total gained elevation, etc. I didn't do any of this because I tend to overplan, and I was trying to be more easygoing california guy about the whole thing. In my mind's eye, the land between Solana Beach and La Jolla is a flat alluvial plain, paved with small, bike friendly roads. It's next to the ocean, after all.

This would be a valid statement on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It would be valid within the LA basin. But it flies in the face of California's geology. The first hill is a doozy. It takes me about 30 minutes to get over it, as I climb past the Torrey Pines State Reserve at about 7 miles an hour. At least my second assumption was right - the roads are great - smooth, with a wide bike lane.

1730hrs - I'm finally getting close to La Jolla. The breadcrumb trail on my GPS is like a long, wiggly snake. My ground track has wound up being around 15 miles. I've done over 100 in a single day, but not with 35 pounds of gear and not on a mountain bike. The traffic thickens up. The GPS says I've got about 2 miles to go. I am nearly killed by a soccer mom as she yaps on her cellphone and pulls wrong-way into a do-not-enter bus lane. The bus screams to a halt, horn blaring. I am screaming at the woman "YOU CAN'T DO THAT! YOU CAN'T DO THAT!". She never even gets off the phone as she continues to drive one handed.

I make it out alive. Up ahead, the road goes from 4 lanes to 2. At the end of the merge, this big white guy has parked his pickup truck and thrown on his hazard lights. I take a look at him and think, "Great. This motherfucker is lost and when he asks me for directions, I'm going to say, 'I can give you the UTM Grid coordinates for Porkyland, the Holiday Inn, and the Amtrak station in Solana Beach.'"

I roll to a stop. The guy is maybe an inch taller than me, buff, with a Tim McVeigh high-and-tight flattop. Definitely military. "Are you Igloo?" he asks.

I do a kind of mental doubletake, "Uh, yeah. That's me."

We shake hands. "I'm Yurei. I saw you and said, 'Cannondale, GPS on the handlebars, headed southbound. That's got to be Igloo.'" I'm pleased that Yurei read my posts. I'm even more pleased that he's observant and drives a pickup truck with a bike rack in the bed. 3 minutes later, we're on the road. Very shortly thereafter, Yurei, who tells me to call him "Screech", says, "It's got to be right near here." I say, "Yes, the unit says it's 150 feet from here." We both look up and there it is.

I'm looking for a guy with bleach blonde hair - lost&found. Yurei and I spy him sitting right outside. The hair is a tipoff, but he also looks totally unlike everyone else in La Jolla, that is to say he doesn't look like he works as a financial analyst who drives a Lexus SUV and wears a polo shirt on the weekends. Lost is a pretty quiet guy, but as the evening progresses and he gets a couple of kamikaze's in him, he loosens up considerable. He was my fellow ethanol lobbyist during the post dinner chaos. Ok, "chaos" is a strong word. There were no instant replays of pigs gunning down brothers in the streets, but there was a kind of amorphous stage of aimless wandering that actually turned out to be some really golden conviviality.

Slowly, the group coagulates. Quizro and Spouse arrive, who also don't look like Risk Management specialists that lease an E-class Mercedes and golf at Palm Springs on the weekend. They instead look like the gentle yet hilarious observers of humanity that they are. The Quiz has a kind of wide-eyed look about him that belies a person who is obviously a keen student of human nature and a guy that is able to relish the absurd in any situation.

Many folks have shown by now (see robot roll call). I was really worried that people wouldn't want to talk. I get asked by the burrito gal running the cash register where I'm from. "You are not from here?" she speculates. I tell her I'm from Virginia. This becomes something of a recurring riff for the rest of the evening, that I am of the Celtic peoples. It can be included with Chihuahua's white rural america riff, and the great leitmotif of "landscape as smell." Foax, Chihuahua is one funny motherfucker. The guy was an unending font of local color on Reno, Nevada - a place I never really thought about much, but now really really want to visit. In particular, I want to see the abandoned mine with the cyanide pits. I'll check my rifle with my baggage, and with any luck I'll get to shoot some holes in an abandoned vehicle.

The unstructured time begins. At the time, I was amused with the clusterfuck factor, but was later really happy that we had the time. Everyone jawed, dorked out. Yurei had his picture taken as the Iron Giraffe Ranger. Prole quietly sang Costello's "Allison" to herself as we walked along. I was disappointed for her when the karioke thing failed to pan out. She really wanted to sing. Perhaps, in some alternate reality, she would have burst into song, about how there was no karioke in Gilead. There would have been a couple of male backup vocals as the song and dance number spilled into the street, Prole in the lead. It was one of the things I thought about on my bike the next morning.

2300 hrs - Yurei bales us out. As a local guide he grabs the initiative and takes us down to this great pub down in San Diego's Little Italy (which I never knew it had till I was standing in it). M_Turner has a glass of white zinfandel, his second of the evening. There is something simultaneously ridiculous and appropriate about this. M has this Grizzly Adams beard, and a big pony tail. I imagined him slugging down pints of porter, the foam caught in his moustache. Nope, the guy wants a glass of zinfandel. But he drinks it like he means it, so it fits like a glove. There was a kind of slow boil glee to the guy that made the wine the right tipple - sipping at the fun of the evening, savoring the buzz. As I corner Quiz for cooling my Hunter of Fascists WU, Yurei is explaining phase-array radar to Chihuahua. This involves some serious diagramming on the back of a coaster. Chi is eating it with a spoon. This is how you know it's an E2 crowd - everyone has this kind of latent omnivore state that gets clicked on, and then they set about interrogating the world. It's something that I've always taken as a sign of intelligence, of being alive. Kids do it all the time, but most adults cruise on by on autopilot. To look at Chi_G only moments earlier, deconstructing the jukebox, you would not think he would be having this conversation with Y, but he's not just politely listening, he is in full-on question-and-answer mode with Yurei on the difference between search radar and targeting radar.

It's over. Yurei is a real brother-of-man and runs me back to my hotel. I go into full geek mode, guiding us in with my GPS, reading it by the light of my headlamp. Yurei talks about building out a night-vision friendly headlamp. We are both unregenerate gearheads. I fall into bed, and puzzle out my ETD for tomorrow (it already is tomorrow) as I fall asleep to a commercial for an herbal breast-enhancement product.

01 APR 01, 0700hrs - I wake up to mariachi music. I am pretty hung over. In my "pack light" approach, I have no pain reliever, no powerbar. This won't happen again. Time to hustle. I shower, dress out, police the room for stray gear, and hit it.

It is a long brutal grind out of La Jolla. The town is silent, seemingly abandoned, perhaps visited by the experimental aircraft. A light, cold mist falls over the road. I'm cranking up to the Torrey Pines headland. I hit the flats, roll past the Salk Institute. Then it's on.

The hill I had climbed yesterday. I watch my speedometer climb to 45. The bike spins up, the gyroscopic action off the wheels makes it feel like I'm on rails, indestructible, a one-man locomotive. The pines pan past. I sing "Allison" to myself as the Pacific breaks into view, the surf driving in as long white ribbons of foaming water. The hangover is gone, I smell the ocean in the onshore flow of air, and am suddenly suffused with a high pure joy. It is an easy ride back to the train.

Flying out was rather uneventful, rather empty airplanes. Followed the San Andreas fault down - its very obvious from the air. San Diego was overcast as I flew in... I've got to go back some day when I have more time. Picture a mountain range if the water level went up 1000 feet. Mountain top islands in a sea of billowing white.

Flying in got there just a few minutes late. Quizro was late too, it all worked out. With Quizro's wonderful sense of direction we eventually got to La Jolla and after a quick brunch, I wandered about the streets looking for a hotel. I can't make too much fun of Quizro's location finding abilities - I wandered for somewhere between 30 min and an hour looking for a place to eventually find it two blocks from where I had brunch.

$120 for one night?! In the kiddy room!? Oh well. It was two blocks (a different direction) from Porkyland and I could find my way back to it without too much trouble.

So, I head off to the beach. Got some pictures of mission style churches (after developing note - I still need more work with architectural photography). Took a look at the Museum of Contemporary Art - they had an 'odd' piece of art that was a plane crash - made me feel real safe. Got some pictures of the ocean - especially waves. A number of pictures of children racing ahead of the waves. Lots of pictures of waves.

Head back, shower out the salt.

Dinner

The quest for alcohol and karaoke:
So, after a bit of Mexican food, we were told of a place that had karaoke at prole's behest. Thought we found one next to the Hard Rock Cafe. So a quick jaunt down to find that the place only had DJs that spun. There are still questions if the spinning is of records, or just around. Wandered back to a micro-brewery and found a table that would fit half of us. Half of us had a drink (I got a glass of Woodbridge white zinfandel) and we had another lead on a different pub - bit quieter. Many were impressed at my ability to chug wine (I'm sorry master brewer of Woodbridge, it really is a good wine, I just didn't have time to enjoy its flavor).

Walking back to various cars, we passed a young girl's softball team to which I made a crude joke about grass and youth. May I blame the buzz? Once again we gazed upon the stuff in the windows of the store. I have a picture of Yurei riding the bronze giraffe. I still want to know what someone would do with an urn that is 5' high and a wooden man that is 2' high.

Arriving at an Irish pub (no karaoke) we sat back and discussed many things. My first glass of wine (above) was downed in 30 seconds, the one there took closer to 2 hours. I wish I knew what it was - not that it matters. It wasn't exceptional, or bad... yes, it was a rose.

There were many conversations. Some of them are not repeatable. They may or may not have included

One of the above was not discussed. None will be admitted too... well, one was - but other than that.

After leavening, headed back to various sleeping establishments. Lost and Found crashed in the other bed.

Got up the next morning. Checked out. Reserved a shuttle to the airport. Shuttle arrives at 5:15, its 11:00... hmm... hum de dum. Lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe - all three waitresses had a nose ring. Finished up the 800 speed film roll, mostly sea life and fountains. Browsed various stores of La Jolla and got some ideas for some things. Had a few Blumenthal moments and picked up some tips (aka post cards) on nature photography. Found an interesting martini glass candle. Killed time. Took a shuttle to the airport and killed some time. Got on the flight that was delayed 10 min.

The flight back I figured might as well shoot the 1000 speed roll. It had been X-rayed on the way south and I wasn't sure if the film was good or not - best to take pictures that I wasn't too attached too. They actually turned out very good - sunset from the airplane window.

Upon arriving at San Francisco, we were in a holding pattern for awhile, things were slow. There were questions if we would actually get diverted to another airport. The landing was the worst I'd ever had - high winds are not fun and feeling a tip-ish thing after landing is a rather harrowing experience. Waiting for the gate the plane (757) was getting noticeably buffeted by the winds while standing completely still!

Got my bag, and it turns out I had missed the chartered bus by ~15 min (plane was rather delayed landing). I had to get back to San Jose to get my car. After waiting for a bit, the 20 other people in similar situations went up to the United desk and asked them when the bus would be there. It was ~9:30 pm. The next bus was to be 11:50.

Now, if you were an airline, and 60% of a flight is delayed, would you hold the plane? If instead it was a bus with (in theory) a more flexible schedule, would you at least get another one quickly? Let me phrase it this way - United sucks! Eventually, some of the group got in another mini-bus and others rented a car. A taxi from SFO to SJC costs $117!!! A group of us (4) found a door to door shuttle that cost $60 for 4 people to the same destination - $15/person. It was better than waiting another 2 hours for the scheduled bus.

Finally at home!

All in all... a good time.

Group photo is on my homenode.

Hey, it was fun (if you count being ignored by everyone but Yurei). m_turner's picture didn't even pick me up! I was sitting right there but I was camouflaged against Chihuahua Grub's shirt. Dang!

Still, you can learn the most interesting and useful things hanging around people from Everything2. For instance, never disguise yourself as a dog in China for you'll run the risk of being eaten but it's okay if you are around the Celtic or Germanic peoples because they love their dogs. Also, don't sleep in trucks outside of city limits in the rural states because people of questionable gun-control ethics tend to shoot first and knock later.

Looking for the karaoke bar was a tad boring. I mean, walking around downtown La Jolla (Spanish for "Family Jewels") in the cold, damp, and dark -- no photosynthesis for me, I tell you -- evening looking for a place where I would be allowed to lip-synch myself to some bimbo's or bozo's creepy love song. I'm all shook up, un-un-hunh.

Alas, I was reduced to crawling around on the sticky floor under the booth table we all crammed into. When we went to Little Italy I got stuck riding in the back with Igloowhite's Cannondale! Brrr! No one offered to take me in for the night, either, so I had to bum a ride back to the top of Mount Soledad to catch some rays from the radio transmitters with a bunch of moth-eaten pigeons just to stay warm.

I wanted to play Polio but nobody could remember the rules and, besides, nobody brought the chalk.

Still, eavesdropping on a bunch of drunken monkeys has always been one of my favorite pastimes. And I do have to have something to put into my reports back to the mothership: When the time comes to set up the bomb, announce that "all your base are belong to us". They will laugh and not take it seriously. Then, when you tell them to make their time it will be too late! HA HA HA HA.

The bonfire stood ten feet. The fingers of flame stretched out to tickle the underbelly of the setting sun. The sand was still warm to the freshly bared feet. The sky was awash in brilliant hues of red and orange just before it faded to the muted pinky purple that I love so much. The sun had bidden us a cheery goodnight. One by one the stars came out to greet us as the moon showed us her silvery glow. She called to us revellers. We felt the pull.

Chihuahua Grub pulled out his boombox and assorted music collection to get the party hopping. The ambience was set. Suddenly, he ripped off his shirt, beat his chest and let out a howl. A little unnerving, I must say, but still, he had this strange animal magnetism about him. It could have been the rum drinks. The rest of the guys felt the call of testosterone in that rebel yell. They too joined the Grubster, bellowing for joy, bare chested into the night. Then, they started rhythmically dancing around the fire in a male bonding type ritual. Let me tell you, it was a sight to behold. Prole, Quizro's wife, and I put bags over our heads so as not to be recognized. Ask Quizro! He's got a pic to prove it! Quizro's wife was unsettled by the whole thing until I explained to her that sometimes guys just needed to let off a little steam to release some of that testosterone vapor. (kind of like playing football)

A new tune came on and that's when Quizro's true..um..talent surfaced. He started singing like Austin Powers to "I Touch Myself". The posturing he did elicited amused delight from the women. None of us exploded, so no Fembots here! That's some mojo he's got there! m_turner took a photo to blackmail him with at a later date. (pssst, I think the Evil Anti-Quizro will pay top dollar for that shot!)

"Hot, Hot, Hot" started playing. Igloowhite insisted we make a train and that he got to be the caboose. If he was so hot, hot, hot, why was he wearing socks on his arms? Ah, well, who am I to judge? It's not like I'm sitting atop the Totem Pole of Fashion these days. Lost and Found used a great many adjectives. I briefly wondered if he had swallowed a dictionary. He disappeared for a while. We found out later that he had issues with the bathroom stall. I didn't want to delve too deeply into that particular topic.

Someone found a bit of driftwood and yelled, EVERYBODY LIMBO! . We did the limbo until AElien (ok... SOMEBODY put me out of my misery and msg me how to make that symbol! I beg of thee!) grabbed the stick shouting, "NO! NO! It's everybody mambo! Like this!" We threw many grapes at him, all of the grapes in our possession. He had woefully misled us about his mamboing capabilities. He ran to the ocean waves to escape us laughing at our lousy aim. (You try skipping grapes in three foot surf)

We went back to our tropical drinks and frolicking. More illicit revelling in honor of Dionysus until we finally collapsed on the sand around the dying embers of our fire. We were completely relaxed in a warm fuzzy way. (again, could have been the rum) Prole started singing Kumbaya. One by one we joined in offkey harmony as the sun reached out to caress us with a good morning touch.

A falling stick aroused me from my slumber. ALAS! I was not on the beach partying it up with everythingians, but lying atop our picnic table under the stars. I swear I saw the moon wink at me! I should have known it was a dream. Prole singing Kumbaya? I smiled as I climbed into our camper deciding to pay a visit to e2. You already know what REALLY happened THAT night! ;-)

I've been living in La Jolla for almost a decade now. I've wandered down the scenic drive to the downtown area plenty of times, and I know the area rather well. I used to get drunk at the Karl Strauss brewery and then stumble about for hours. Just doing the usual stuff though, like getting some coffee at The Living Room or going out on the breakwater to watch the large, nightly congregations of seals lounging about.

But Porkyland? I hadn't a clue where that was. The name conjured up images of a Porky the Pig version of Chuck E. Cheese's. I figured its entrance would be decorated with a 5 foot high ceramic statue of a big fat pig. I even half expected to see John Cusack in the back wearing a pig's snout and singing Van Halen songs. It turned out to be some fairly standard Mexican restaurant hidden away near a grocery store. Whatever. It did have some amusing napkins. On the counters of the restaurant were essentially these oversized toilet paper dispensers and you'd pull out a stream of paper, tearing at whichever periodic perforation you wanted. Pretty cool.

I think it was Yurei who donned a stream of napkin paper as if it were his scarf, and he was a WWI flying ace. With his flattop haircut and his shirt that said Guerilla Tactics, when you added the faux pilot's scarf, I couldn't help but remember that Russian pilot from that cheesy 80's movieThe Experts. (Does anybody else know that movie? I see it every so often on TBS or something.) Anyhow, if you know the movie, and if you remember the Russian pilot, that's what Yurei reminded me of with that scarf.

Anyhow, I only stayed around for the dinner part. I had to get somewhere else by 9pm. But I got into the picture. I'm the pale blonde haired guy buried in the middle of the picture looking fairly serious and/or glum. So I didn't get any of the drunkenness that other people mentioned. I just heard lots of funny stories about: The Celtic People, that white supremist photography shop in LA where my germanic appearance should pick me up some good deals, the interesting cuisine of Bangkok, enough information about Reno to encourage me to take my AR-15 with me if I ever go there, some funny speculation as to how some scientists ever found a correlation between one's optic nerves and the back of one's knees, and some vague references to chupacabras. All in all it was pretty damn funny and I'm glad I went.

Also, ribald ongoings between Chihuahua Grub and prole freaked me out when I first heard of them. See, I hadn't really checked out all of the attendees prior to the get together. And when those two arrived, they dressed so alike and sort of looked alike, so I had this personal theory that they were twins or something. So I was thrown for a loop about 1/4 of the way through Chihuahua Grub's writeup. Am I the only one who noticed how similar they looked? Maybe it was just that they both had equivalently good fashion sense.

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