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Current location: The Flightpath coffee shop, Austin, Texas

07.06.10

Price of beer in a bar: $4-5ish for a pint of draft
Song currently stuck in my head: The theme from Crank Yankers by Fountains of Wayne

Austin: it’s like “Horse with No Name”, but with hipsters.  In the last 10 days I held a two-day yard sale, packed, cleaned the apartment, had it inspected by the landlord, moved out, flew my cat to Austin, panicked, relaxed and configured a simple travel server.  None of this would have been possible without the help of The Girlfriend, who either led or assisted at every turn up until the airport.  Shit was frictious, to say the least, but we seem to have pulled through intact.  The whole thing feels like an ugly bender; it’s hard to focus on any one aspect because much of it blurs together, sleep deprivation played a major role, and that sense of urgency with which you pursue the next boozy, drug addled scene 2 or 3 days in was eerily paralleled in this instance by the blurred fury of my quest for an empty apartment.  I wanted to hear echos when I spoke indoors, damn it, and anything that didn’t gain ground in that direction was a distraction to be ignored or a sworn enemy to be neutralized.  I had to put it a few days behind me before it started to come into focus.

The yard sale was moved indoors due to threat of rain (and lack of rescheduling options), but this worked out fine.  We met our goals, averaging about a bill a day, and had a family take most of the leftover items in the last hour for free.  Advertising in front of the nearby thrift store helped us move a lot of stuff.  Our goal was to get our stuff to people who could use it and collect a fee for our trouble along the way.  The shoppers were a lively collection of incredibly cool and downright creepy and oddly they seemed to take shifts.  On both days the clientele would start off interesting, young and friendly and transition into offputting, high and/or irritating.  The differences were stark enough that this cannot be chalked up to our mood as the day progressed; I guess the dysfunctional get up late.

After the sale and subsequent clean out (yielding two additional dumpsters of… uh… stuff) it was a bit of a mad dash to get our pack lists finalized and realized.  I ended up making a last minute bag purchase when my existing plan proved unworkable; 8 months to plan and I’m standing at an Uncle Dan’s cash register 2 hours before we’re scheduled to leave for my flight.  Jesus, I may as well have been buying luggage at the airport.  So far I’m very happy with the bag, though it does need dirtied up a bit.  More on the packs later.

I’m still getting used to my temporary homelessness.  My friend’s sister asked where I live and there was no way to sum it up without sounding like a dick (“I don’t have a place to live” comes across as flippant when you’re wearing clean clothes and tapping at your laptop).  I told a guy at the airport that I lived in Chicago and then had to correct myself, saying that I had lived there earlier in the day.  I guess I could go with “between addresses”, which has seldom been more true.

I was supposed to meet a friend at the Austin airport, but the info I had was months old and no longer accurate.  Delta was about as much help as you’d expect and with my poor infirmed cat trapped in a travel carrier at my side (desperately dreaming of sandboxes and fine gravel pits if his subsequent actions are any indication) as the night’s final flights arrived and my friend was nowhere to be seen I started to lose my shit.  I was unable to get a hold of him for a couple of nerve racking hours and I knew finding a hotel in a strange city that would welcome my cat was a long shot.  At about 11:30pm my mother showed up on skype, a little drunk from a retirement party for my father bartended by a heavy-pouring friend, and distracted me long enough to get my head together.  My friend finally called and the original plan was back on track.  Within an hour my cat was out of the case, happily burying the evidence of his most recent meal.

Today I installed Ubuntu 10.04 on a spare laptop that my friend won in a drawing a few months ago.  It’s nice to see what it can do on appropriate hardware.  I’m configuring it as an SSH server for file transfers from the road (using Beyond Compare, finally available on Linux, over SFTP) and populating it with my existing data (music collection, photos, etc) so they can be retrieved from afar if something happens to our local copy (water/robbery/infection/data loss of unknown origins).  Beyond that I’m not getting too ambitious with it; the likelihood of poor connectivity as we travel precludes most other uses and I don’t want to spend too much time maintaining it.  If I get bored I might try to configure a streaming media server.

The dengue epidemic currently under way in Honduras may cause us to rearrange some of our plans, but at this point I’m leaning toward sticking to the original idea (what little of it there is).  This will put us in Utila soon after leaving Belize.  I also still need to pick up some travel health insurance; if anyone has any suggestions please post them to the blog.  If anyone is in Utila or the other Bay Islands, can you give me an idea of the dengue situation away from the mainland?

At this point everything I own fits in or includes the following: 2 forty five gallon plastic tubs (plus a short floor lamp and a small fire safe that wouldn’t fit), 2 duffel bags, a bowling bag and the contents of my travel pack.  The only keys I have belong to a padlock, and right now it’s not attached to anything.

Crazy.

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