Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   worst bloody mary
Sunday, January 4 2015

location: Orchid Garden Resort Ecolodge, Hattieville, Belize

After a somewhat leisurely breakfast (featuring those flat little corn tortillas, refried beans, and a tomato sauce), the people calling the shots at Orchid Garden had us pack all our belongings and load into separate vehicles according to when our planes were scheduled to depart from the Belize International Airport. Gretchen's parents would be flying out first, then Gretchen and me, and then finally the family from Pittsburgh. We would be in the car with Gretchen's parents and all of us would go directly to the airport, while the Pittsburgh people would get one last trip to the "baboon sanctuary" for another experience there.
But truth be told, we didn't go directly to the airport. For some reason Christine (who had been even more unctuous this morning than she'd been all week) wanted to give us a last minute tour of her mansion, which is just off the grounds of the Orchid Garden resort to the east. Christine had the first fllor set up like a museum, a cold, austere place where nobody would actually want to live. The surfaces were white tile and white walls, and along all the walls were glass display cases containing her collections. These were consisted mostly of polished stones whose crystals and other grains resembled photographs of landscapes. She also had a collection of dried root masses that resembled cranes engaged in courtship. There was also a bottle collection that pointedly spanned the entire history of post-Columbus Belize, starting with ancient wine bottles, moving through dusty old rectangular rum bottles, and concluding with several transparent plastic water bottles whose lack of historical gravitas had me thinking of recycling bins. It was a strange tour, and we were hurried through quickly. Only then were we off to the airport.
Customs and security at the Belize airport was fast and easy, meaning we'd have a long wait in the airport (the Orchid Garden evidently believe in playing it super safe when it comes to airport departures). Gretchen was excited by the low low liquor prices in the duty free shop, and really wanted to get a bottle of that cheap rum we'd been mixing with our dinner fruit juice every night. We were all set to also get some strangely-cheap Grey Goose Vodka and other staples of the top shelf when we thought to ask the helpful duty free shop guy what would be happening when we went through security again in the Atlanta airport. Unfortunately, he said, it was probable that we would go through security there and we'd have to check any large bottles of liquor. And, since checking bags these days typically costs $25, it would be hard to realize much in the way of savings with such a strategy. So we abandoned the large bottles and instead bought a few of those tiny bottles so loved by alcoholic upper middle class white women. We also bought a variety of tiny bottles of habañero hot sauce, since that had been one of my favorite things about Belize. As for the rum, it was just as well we couldn't bring any of it home; we'd been unable to find the specific kind we'd been drinking at Orchid Garden, which, when drunk straight, had a distinctive chocolate flavor. The biggest bummer for me was that we wouldn't be getting any cashew wine. I'd never gotten a chance to try it.
Eventually Gretchen's parents boarded their plane for Miami and disappeared, an hour passed, and then the Pittsburgh crew showed up, fresh from their last-minute howler monkey adventure. The monkeys hadn't come as close this morning as they had yesterday.
When Gretchen and I finally boarded our plane, we discovered we'd both been given aisle seats again, but this time the aisle divided a set of three seats from a set of two (what I referred to as a three-two setup, and which I don't think I've encountered before). This meant that one of us (me) was trapping a single stranger against the window. As luck would have it, though, the two people Gretchen was trapping against the other window were part of the same family as the teenage girl I was trapping against my window. With a little negotiation, Gretchen and I managed to make it so we sat together alone in the two seats on the smaller half of the plane.
Gretchen had bought a small flask of expensive rum with the idea being that we would drink as much of it as we could before going through security in Atlanta. In the end, we were able to drink it all. I drank mine straight, while Gretchen combined hers with Sprite (I think). I spent the flight mostly reading articles in the New Yorker, which is the what I usually do. It was not a long flight, so I didn't take any Ambien or otherwise fall asleep. Happily, there were no babies on the airplane. And, as far as we could tell, there were no celebrities either.
We went through customs followed by airport security in Atlanta, though everything was so streamlined and efficient there that the whole thing was almost a joy. Most of the work of customs in Atlanta is now being done by robots (individual unstaffed terminals), and the main job left to the human race is to stand at possibly-confusing junctures in the process to cheerfully repeat instructions (in English, so there's that) over and over to the stream of people walking past. Though massive, the Atlanta airport has been carefully designed to thwart confusion, with plenty of signs, color coding, and attention to design details.
Once past Atlanta security, we had a multi-hour layover to dispose of. Mercifully, though, the Atlanta airport has a lot of things to do. It's like a very large shopping mall. We'd done some research and knew that it had a Chipotle, so that was what we'd be doing for dinner (or, technically, lupper), but this would involve riding around on the internal train system, since the Chipotle was not in any of the terminals we needed to actually be in. Early in our intra-airport travels, I thought I needed to go numero dos, but when I got to the bathroom I realized that I'd been fooled into thinking this by a combination of a full bladder and a bruised tailbone from yesterday's 40 foot tall slippery slide. Later Gretchen briefly entertained the idea of perhaps getting a drink at the bar in P. F. Chang's, but the smell of Asian seasonings was too repulsive after the week at Orchid Garden.
We ate our Chipotle near a window in a strangely-private wing of a food court. I had a burrito, of course, while Gretchen had hers as some sort of salad. There was free WiFi, and, unlike the free WiFi in the Belize airport, it was actually usable.
We lucked out on the flight from Atlanta to Albany; yet again, the plane had the three-two arrangement of seats in coach, and we'd been given two adjacent seats in the smaller two half. On this leg of our journey, I mixed myself a very strong bloody mary using Mrs. T's mix from the drink cart and a generous pour of 160 proof Devil's Spring. But that unpleasant chemical flavor was still there, Mrs. T's spices couldn't mask it, and it was by far the worst bloody mary I've ever drunk.

Gretchen drove us home from the Albany airport, which was just as well because my vision, particularly my night vision, seemed to have deteriorated further while we were in Belize. Yesterday, I'd noticed myself having trouble focusing on distant birds in the sky even with my glasses on, and tonight on the drive home, I had difficulty reading road signs that were more than about 100 feet away. They seemed to be blurry in a way that suggested my astigmatism had worsened, though it was also possible that I was having lingering drug effects from the Benadryl (diphenhydramine) I'd taken as a sleep aid at the end of my battle with diarrhea last night.
Back home in Hurley, we soon accounted for all the cats and dogs, all of whom were delighted and a little surprised to see us. It seemed that our housesitter Rob had burned almost no firewood (it looked like he'd tried to start a fire and given up), so I quickly kindled a raging fire and went around the house turning down the thermostats. For our climate, it was something of a balmy evening, with temperature above freezing somewhere in the 40s Fahrenheit.
I'd been expecting the delivery of a small portable hard drive from, though it looked like Rob hadn't gotten it. So I went on the Newegg site to track the package and saw that it had been delivered. But I looked in all the usual places and it was nowhere to be found. Had someone come along and stolen it from the front of our house? I asked Gretchen what I should do, and she said I should wait for tomorrow's daylight and go look for it then. There was no way in hell I was going to do that. So I went out again with a flashlight and carefully checked the length of the driveway. There it was, a small cardboard box under a fucking bush! It had, of course, been soaked by the drenching rains that had recently come through. Well played, cynophobic UPS man! But when I opened up the box, it appeared that the interior was completely dry. And the hard drive itself was in a plastic envelope. I'd avoided a whole unknown path of tsuris.
Considering myself still on vacation, I cracked open the big bottle of Hop Manna He'Brew IPA that Gretchen had gotten me for Christmas (it was alright, though having been forgotten in the freezer had caused some its carbonation to escape) and watched last Friday's episode of Gold Rush even though it was by now after 2:00am.

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