Monthly Archives: January 2014

Minecraft – The Artist’s Bane

I have stumbled upon the most disconcerting aspect of building beautiful things in Minecraft.

Texture packs.

I play ‘vanilla’ Minecraft. The game as it is handed down by the developers. I’m prone to doing this, not being one for mods. I heavily modded my last game of Skyrim for instance and while I enjoyed the textures and depth that it gave I found myself frustrated by the crashes that came with it. Texture packs in Minecraft are less damaging to the stability of the game.

But the view…

On a themed server where everyone has the same setup I understand texture packs. On a personal server where the world is your oyster, I understand them. On a random, multiperson server such as our own, they make me frown. Simply because I cannot create my art, for that is what it is, and have it seen as I mean it to be seen. It is a true plight of an artist. Similar to covering the Sculpture David with a fig leaf. It should not happen!

Or, such were my tired thoughts when Fern gave me a screen shot and I blanched in horror.

This is my tower floor in its current incarnation, as I see it.

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This is how Fern sees it.

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Even the Nether Brick doesn’t possess the same rich, burgundy color that it does.

I found myself frustrated. Stupidly so but the fact that how ones art is seen and how one made the art to be seen is determined by a random modifier of the user.

Even her rain falls differently.

I do not know how I will recover.

Minecraft – Lava Lava Burning Bright

Lava is cool. It is also terrible. But it is cool. Lava on the surface is somewhat rare and it led me to feel that it had to be preserved. That was until I really started playing and started finding rivers of Lava flowing everywhere. Still, after turning a few into obsidian (water is amazing) I still felt bad.

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Then I went into the nether. The entire floor of the place is made of Lava.

Still. Lava lays close to all of our hearts. Most of us have died and lost everything a time or two to its dizzying brilliance. I leave in this blog a short story I wrote for the forums about some of the first days on the server and how we learned now to ever, ever carry a lava bucket in our action bar and most certainly, not in our hand.

“Okay its time to have story time and lure more people onto the server.

I only lightly dabbled in minecraft before we started this. Since starting its a ridiculous amount of fun.

Know that survival mode means things are trying to kill you, you have to eat and farm and gather the resources to make whatever meets your fancy.

Three things happened yesterday.

First my husband almost burned down his house. he decided to make his yard his sheep pasture. I suggested that this was not a good idea. After fighting his sheep off and having them run into his house whenever he opened the door he agreed. He was having problems with the gates. They are small. So one day he comes in with a pail of lava in one hand, clicks a gate, manages to click a sheep and dump the lava bucket out.

Only he doesn’t realize what happens. He’s new to this. He just sees a sheep catch him on fire and logs out. I start laughing cuz I am up on the hill. But his house is made of wood so i decide to go and see that it is okay. I turn the corner and to my horror see lava flowing everywhere and sheep and his house and fence on fire.

I panic and start laughing. I am in hysterics and I throw my bucket of water into the lava where it burns up. i ment to dump it. NOw his house is burning and I panic while laughing run inside, craft a new bucket because he doesn’t remember where his are) and run and find water. I manage to come back and dump water on the lava which puts it out. the bad part is the house is still burning. I get more water and start dousing the house. A sheep sets me on fire. He logs back in and dies in a fire. I manage to get the house out with his help after he grabs another bucket. Only he dumps a thing of lava beside the well and burns down the NPc house that was there too. (I have to respawn the village and rebuild it now).

We get the second fire out and he starts herding sheep. He winds up killing a third of his herd for being in his house and with some repairs he decides that he needs to build his home out of stone.

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk”

Yes, I wrote that on my phone. Hence the shortness.

Minecraft – The Day of No Sheep

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Minecraft sheep are kinda cute. They are blocky as is only correct. They graze and turn the grass into dirt blocks which then regrows. They make wool and wool is useful. You use it to make pictures, beds, carpet, and decorative cubes. You can dye sheep all the colors of the rainbow. My herd looks like a bag of skittles exploded.

One of the early things that one does is set up their own supplies. Food, crops, livestock. I have a field full of colored sheep and boxes full of wool shorn from their little sheep bodies. When you shear them they eat grass and regrow their coats. It is a nice little life cycle. I’m going to find something to do with all of this wool that I’ve collected.

If they are allowed life.

Enter Vov.

Having lured Vov onto Minecraft he played single player, immediately figured out how to survive, and took off into the wilderness to build an airship. Other people move a bit slower but not Mr Viceorvirtue. Nope, he bolted off and we had to track him down and throw the basics at him as he hung off a cliff edge building the base support for his boat.

Such is Vov. Fern and I chased him down in the wilderness and gave him basics. There is something about bolting into the forest, naked and unprepared that appeals to most of the people that have started to play with us. Sometimes we chase them down and help them. Sometimes they decide they want to rough it and go at it alone. Other’s absorb the hand holding for the first few hours as they walk around and start to feel the tickle of their muse.

Or they are Vov.

Part of his ship is a big, sail. I was chatting with him on Eve and he says that he is going to have to go hunting sheep to slaughter to build his sales. I came to a screeching halt. “You are killing the sheep?” I asked. “Yeah. You saw how many where there.”

Oh. Oh. Damn. Dammmn. You see, Vov’s airship is just west of the valley my husband settled in. My husband bred huge amounts of ship and chickens and then released them into his valley. Vov, being new to Minecraft hasn’t yet spent time learning the spawning mechanics so it just appears to be the valley of the sheep to him. And he didn’t know about shears. But he does know about swords…

I went to the valley. The empty, empty valley and covered my eyes.

The sheep my husband had obsessively bred and released into the wild were all gone. All gone. And all that was there was a giant boat in the sky.

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I ran off to my field and knocked down a fence, luring some sheep out. I dyed them back white and with a handful of wheat I started a breeding program that would horrify any geneticist . Soon, after a few hours of stresses uterus an harvested wheat the sheep population rebounded.

And I discussed shears with Vov.

P.S. Silver has come to the blockside. The movement is spreading.

 

Minecraft – Projects…

It is an inevitable thing that everyone elses project seems to be cooler than my own. Their houses are cooler. Their ideas are fancier. Their planning is better. I walk around with a heavy burdon of shame as I look about the server.

Like Eve, the sandbox concept can be the hardest part about the entire game. Doing what you want is hard. Inspiration takes time.  And you don’t want to do what everyone else is doing.

Still, that hasn’t stopped me.

My first completed project is not very big. I built a shrine to the center of the map. The center would be coordinates 0/-0. They are not far from our town and my husband slapped a marker down there one day. I stumbled upon it while wandering the savanah looking for inspiration and decided to build a shrine.

My first attempt was terrible and the colors garish and I ripped it down. Determined I gave it another go and came up with an elemental theme. I build three structures around the center point and illuminated the center point with a gold block. I then added a house and a long path.

I have a strange taste for conservation and as I carved into the ground I decided to leave much  of it natural. Inspiration hit me at random times and my idea worked out much better than I expected. At least I think so. We don’t have any sold game plan for our world. Go forth. Build. Enjoy. That’s about it.

This is the type of thing I do in minecraft. Today someone was like, “really, you all play it?” Sure. After spending the last week sick as a dog it has been relaxing when I can’t say half a dozen words without a coughing, wheezing fit.

It is best viewed at night.

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I decided to stop fiddling with it and wandered off to my next project. We are littering the landscape with structures and such things, it is a lot of fun. I think we have about 10 highly active people running around and about 18 all told who log in and out. Some have logged in once or twice and some on and off while others are out daily.

We have a road across the landscape that stretches 7 thousand blocks. It was started by Brando and it is called the Kings Highway. It is the spine of the place so to speak.

My newest project is just down the road from my shrine. It is even within eyesight. I decided I wanted to create something large and visually complex. I came up with a hanging city that I am building from the top down to a cavern under it where I’ll stop with it hanging above it. Pictures are hard and I may have to do a video walk through but here is the basics view. It all started with Brando giving me his spare clay…

 

 

 

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Books – The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

There are times when revisiting classics is just a relaxing pastime. Also, with the passage of time the meaning of the stories change. As a child and teen I enjoyed the stories and the different world but as an adult in my thirties I feel that I can appreciate it.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

For classics, hit up the kindle store and look for the free copies put up by the open source, book projects. I’ve picked up a lot of the classics this way and I cruse through them on my phone. I read a lot and pretty much constantly. Books on my phone mean I always have something to chew on at slow moments. I don’t carry a purse or a bag so my phone is a wonderful, wonderful part of my anatomy.

Beyond that, reading these stories makes me smile. Not because they are cute and interesting (which they are) but because I can now appreciate minor details like never before. At one point, my mother who is visiting,  complained about how sensationalized the media has become. I was amused because an hour before, I had read a passage of conversation between Watson and Holmes where Watson bemoans the sensationalism and lack of elegance to the newspaper at the time.

Looking at the hundred year gap between the two moments and the same complaint I just shook my head. Every day I hear similar complaints where people say, “It didn’t used to be this way.” I often tell them, “Yes it did. You simply did not notice.” I’m more often treated to blank stares than I care for when I point out these details but I don’t let that stop me.

I have a particular appetite for Victorian era writing. Also, the twenties. Those two periods produced books that tend to open the door into daily life in a manner that fascinates me.

Also, Sherlock Holmes is truly one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever read. He is a true anti-hero if one were to use modern terms. He is far from perfect, recreationally uses drugs, and has the empathy of a rock. Yet, he is a genius, a productive member of society, incredibly talented, and a pain in the ass that is worth working with.

The written Sherlock Holmes is a bit grittier than the serialized, acted versions and one that should be savored in its original form from time to time.

Minecraft – Planning

For the second time I got stuck in a hole running across the landscape with a goal in the distance and my eyes not at my feet.

Yesterday, Fern had to come rescue me while I was making maps and had no other equipment. Today, I had managed to put everything into a box, randomly, and only had a bucket, an almost broken pickaxe and a pile of dirt.

I wound up falling into a very small hole that led into a very deep cavern. I tried to dig out but my pickaxe gave out. I started punching the walls and wanted to cry. Then, I checked my layer and realized I had a 64 stack of dirt in my inventory. I was shallow enough that I could make my way out using the sand that was also in the hole.

Then something started to shoot me. I turned and threw my  bow at the Skeleton Archer. Sigh. Not the useful way to use a bow. I had to retrieve it from a zombie and then work my way out of the hole which I promptly did.

The moral of the story is run around the map prepared, all of the time. Otherwise you might find yourself falling down this hole with no way up.

 

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P.S. Vov has converted to the Blockside.

Minecraft – Glitches and Burning Iron

I will write about my trip home from Vacation, perhaps tomorrow. I have a lovely head cold as a result of an absolutely miserable experience. If I had written about it as soon as I returned home I think I would only have filled page after page with curses.

Instead, a bit about Minecraft.

Having lured Kaeda to the blockside. I’ve enjoyed my last days of vacation at home with the sniffles puttering around the game. I’ve been tweaking my house, dismantling thing and creating more projects for myself. I eventually want to do something boggling and amazing but I don’t know what that will be.

For now, I have started to make a wall map of the area. I went and explored Evel’s tower and he had a wall map which was very, very good. I decided to give one a try for the newbie area and it is coming along nicely. I’m learning a bit more of the technical aspect of the game, such as the ‘chunk’ layout of it and how to interpert the information given in the F3 information vomit selection menu.

Anyway the map is coming along nicely.

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Learning to do these maps has been a fantastic way to waste iron. Lots of iron. And leather. Gah.

 

The second interesting thing is just a glitch. Now and then the world loads slowly. The server needed to be rebooted and it was building the world for me without giving me the shiny, top layer. Instead, I was looking at the underground and the enormous amount of tunneling we had done in the game. The torches show up like beacons and the unexplored areas are black labyrinths. I had had a productive day, finding an abandoned mine shaft that was very, very large, a huge stack of diamonds, and two dungeons during my day. I was interested in the underground. Likewise, I am fascinated by our relentless carving of the world to suit our interests and desires.

2014-01-16_00.30.35In this picture I can see the abandoned mineshaft under my house and indeed a water holder that my husband and I made at a lava lake that we carved our first Obsidian from. Minecraft is about mining and the bulk of the world is honeycombed in this fashion with natural voids mixed with the player made ones. Exploration has a tangible feeling in this game, with underground structures waiting to be found and the treasures (minerals) of the earth waiting to be plucked from the rocks.

 

St Thomas Vacation – Day 7

I’m ready to go come. Being stuck in the elevator was the last little, “time to go” thing.

We got up and lolled around the room and went to town for lunch. There wasn’t much goal wise to the day. We were going to do some shopping. It turned out, when we reached town, that the shopping was all closed. There were no ships in town so ninty five precent of the places didn’t open. And while I would like to say that today I was going for that Gucci purse, it’d be a lie. Unlike the lady that shared one cab ride with us, I don’t lose control of my wallet when I enter the Prada store. In fact, I never entered it because I really don’t care about brands and I have no idea what Prada is except for a vague knowledge that it is… clothing? Handbags? Who knows…

Anyway… we got lunch at Hooters. I brought it up the other day when we were casting around for ideas. I’ve never eaten at one and it seemed as good a time as any to try. He suggested it for today and I reminded him that all the reviews I read said it was terrible service for Hooters food but he wanted to go so why not.

On the way down I got to watch people. There was the young man in our elevator that sprung out and almost slammed into the older gentlemen getting on. Nether was looking at where tehy were going. The young man was looking into the distance and the older gentlemen at the ground. My husband has had an issue with women in teh elevator stampeeding over him when hes trying to enter or exit and giving him dirty looks.

It wasn’t terribly busy. I buzzed and fussed over the menu and ordered to much food. Our waitress was a very pretty young lady in little black shorts that made sure half of her butt hung out, as it should be. The food was okay and my husband decided to use their vote for me sign to get 10% off of our check. It required texting some competition we don’t care about. The meal was fine, I ordered another Mango Tango. I feel like an idiot saying that out loud. The food was okay and things were fine until some sports game came on and they cranked the volume up so high that I could not have a conversation with my husband without learning forward and yelling.

We asked for our check and I went to wash my hands. I came back and no check. We waited around and finally, after about ten minutes, the check came. Our bill was around the amount off the check was three. The sign said 10% off of our check so my husband waved the waitress over and asked why he did not have 10% off of his check.

Before the waitress came back I suggested to my husband that it was the bill without drinks. He ran the numbers through his phone and said no, it still did not add up. When she came back she said, “Oh it is 10% off of one check!” I rolled my eyes but said, “Fine, I’ll vote for it as well so that we can have the full thing,” and she told us no. It is one per table and off of one check.

Yet, that didn’t add up ether. If one just added up my husbands food it still was not 10% off. He was pissed and left no tip.

We then swung by the grocery store again to check for aloe gel for his burn. It turns out it was as ridiculously expensive as the hotel so he opted to just keep using the coco butter. I decided to buy some random candy that looked interesting and went to pay. The cashieir looked at my card and asked for my ID. I blinked at her and told her I didn’t have my ID on me. I had my hotel card, my credit card, and a twenty dollar bill. She wasn’t happy with me. I wasn’t happy with her.

You see, I have some experience on how credit card theft and fraud works. On top of that the entire system is stupid. If I sign my credit card anyone can use it. So, technically, if I sign my card in front of her suddenly it is okay to use. Yet, if it is stolen it is still stolen and whatever. I was going to pay with cash but she decided this one time was okay and said, “You need to carry your ID in the future to use this.”

I have weird reactions to things at times. Normally, I’m pretty laid back and easy going about almost anything. Then, someone will say something that just pisses me off and she happened to do that. But, I bit it down, and smiled. I’m sure it was a horrible, ugly smile but what can I do. I’m not sure if being scolded by strangers is something that happens to most people or if I am just special and it happens to me wherever I go. Hell, when I went to London I got scolded by the lady because my passport had been through the wash and it made her mad.

We wound up having  a taxi driver call us a taxi and headed back to the hotel to chill for a bit before we went swimming. That was when I noticed the Jacuzzi people. You see, the other day we noticed Jacuzzi on the pier and Jacuzzi tubs in the grassy area out front of the hotel. My husband thought they might be storage but I felt that it was to staged for that. Well today, we have the door open and we’re just enjoying the weather and quiet when it get noisier and noisier and noisier until I looked outside to see people all over the Jacuzzi tubs in some kinda tour and information thing.

I guess some kinda convention is going on.

We figured out that we can’t precheck into our flight so we went to go swimming before it got dark. The chick was there again, topless again, sunbathing. Whatever works for her. We went and played in the water while discussing various little new articles we had seen. We swam until the sunset and then we picked up drinks at the bar and went back to our room.

This time he got a different type of drink in a bucket. This was coconut and mango rum with pineapple juice.

I paid for another over priced Mango Tango (I feel so stupid every time I say or think that name) with no alcohol. It is delicious and I vowed to get an industrial strength blender to allow me to make my own non-alcoholic drinks at home.

We ordered roomservice as well. Almost the same thing as the day before. It came prepared differently but the food was still delicious. And afterwards we went to the beach to see it at night.

The ocean at night is dark and uninteresting. I’m probably supposed to say that it was romantic but it was disappointing. I love the night but the islands are more amazing during the day. It was also very cold and I got to listen to my husband shriek and sequel, sounding like Jabba’s little pet every time he got splashed.  That was an ongoing thing the entire week as well. I can’t help but laugh at him as he reacts to the water being cold. But I have fond memories of the water. Such as the pretty little thing in the fancy blue and silver Bikini that got faced punched by the Ocean while she was being high maintenance with her boyfriend. That was a fantastic moment that I will treasure forever.

We headed back up to the room. I picked up my last over priced drink because what the hell. Its delicious. That was when the scenic elevator broke down. It all seemed fine and dandy. We pressed the button, got on, and went up. The elevator stopped, the doors started to open then they closed and it sat there. We sat there as well. Hmm. After a while it decided to go back down. It went to the bottom, jerked, and went back up and disgorged us on our floor. We stepped out with a briskness. We get the hint Hotel. We’re out.

We also learned yesterday that the sign on the door to the outside lies. When open the AC does not turn off. Broken it may be but its been a delightful mix of temperatures ever since we realized this. We’re on the not so scenic side of the hotel with no balcony. We expected this since we are burning Marriott points for the room. I think not spending three thousand five hundred dollars we’d be paying (taxes not added in) if we were staying here with cash just to have a balcony.

The hotel is older. It is solid concrte which leads to interesting angles. But, it is updated and in good repair. There are little things that you start to notice such as the paint and some wear and tear on tihngs. The fence surrounding the tennis court is serious erroded away by salt water. I find myself staring at it as we pass it each time, amazed by the simple chemical reactions mixed with time.

Also, complaining about our missed water day has caused us to have a water stockpile.

This was a nice vacation, I will give it that. Still, I don’t see myself coming back. Next time we hit the Caribbean we’re probably going to do a southern Caribbean tour.

Tomorrow is home. I’m ready to go back.

St Thomas Vacation – Day 6

Hello sunburn, you are finally here. At least, for my husband.

We set an alarm again today to get up. We wanted to swim earlier than we have been. Our 0830 alarm went off and we slowly got around to waking up and getting up. In the hallway, there are children laughing and the sound of running up and down… up and down the hallway for what felt like an hour.

We eventually dress, and slip out to the buffet. There was a short wait and we got a very nice seat with a nice little view.

There is an odd wave between being ignored at places and being overly paid attention to. We had three people ask us how things were in the space of five minutes at one point. One was a manager type who was checking in with everyone and making friendly. We managed to project, “We don’t want to talk” and she didn’t linger at our table.

They had mango with the fruit today, joy! I gorged on fruit and we went back to our room, digested, and went down to the beach to spend the day in the water.

Around 1500 hours we got out and got some drinks. He tired the voodoo something which is about 6oz of various rums and some fruit juice with ice. I had a Mango Tango without the rum (the price it turns out was still the same. Sigh). It was delicious and he was tispy. That is when I noticed that he had rather bad sunburn.

Back in the water with my now buzzed spouse. I won’t call him drunken but his balance could have been better and he had a serious case of the giggles. That was when we noticed that the girl from yesterday was back. She was sun bathing, topless.

Now, I don’t have a problem with the human body. I hate that we act as if it is shameful to see ourselves. At the same time I do have a problem with her laying topless with his friends around on a beach that isn’t topless. It just seems impolite to him. Now, whatever, his female companion and his life but I feel that its a pay attention to me type of thing.

Her bathing suit was mostly straps so she would wear it over her nipples (which are pierced) for them to flop out every time she got hit by a wave. It was somewhat amusing. I’m glad she is comfortable with herself.

So we swim and swim and I am noticing my husband getting redder and I’m getting cold and tired but he is happy and buzzed on the sheer amount of rum he has consumed. When we finally get out of the water, because I tell him I’m done, he is sun-burnt on his face and arms.

Sigh. We’d done pretty well keeping that from happening. Because he wears a swim shirt it does not extend to his full torso. I’m pretty tanned as well. I’ve reached a state of golden brown and my hair is starting to streak blond.

We settle down, consume some water, clean up the salt and sand, put some coco butter on his arms and face and decide on Chinese food for dinner. Tomorrow, the last night here, I will be having skirt steak at the hotel again. There are also four bottles of water again. I’m not complaining.

Tonight, the cab rides are calm. There are no ships in port that we can see. Everything is oddly quiet for a Saturday. Things were super quiet for a Friday, yesterday. Today, we just tell the driver a close restaurant to where we really want to go. We then skip across the street to get some more ginger beer and forget to buy his aloe gel.

I did take a picture of the most fascinating spread.

I mean… spreadable cookies? I took a picture instead of buying it simply because it’d be silly to buy it here when I can probably get it on amazon.

Off to the China King for another delicious dinner. It was busier today but everything was still quiet and calm for a weekend night. In my mind I had assumed that this would be a huge party town on the weekend. Maybe, January is just too off season for it? Still, the night was beautiful and cool without being cold. We’re just comfortable enough with navigation to walk happily. Today, no random man approaches us and asks if we are lost although I did say to my husband, “They are probably checking us to see if we are looking for drugs.”

Ahh drug deals, the shady back streets and corners that they occur in. More than once we’ve had to close our bedroom door as the sweet, nauseating scent of marijuana fills our room. On the beach it often passes over you for a while, from the beach front rooms. Even as we sheltered under a tree from a rain storm the man standing on the porch above us was smoking it. While illegal on St Thomas it is what people expect to find on the islands I guess. The smell makes me ill but I know plenty of people find it to be divine.

And we had dinner and we walked back to the Shipwreck Tavern but this time we knew better than to order desert. There were several little bars bouncing and going. I remembered that I hadn’t written about my adventure at ‘da lime in da coconut’ which is a tiny hut that serves drinks.

We stopped for something cold and nonalcoholic. Frozen drinks fit that bill. The lady doing the bar tending seemed new at it. She kept forgetting what people wanted while asking people to yell orders at her. That is an art that you don’t step behind the bar with. There was another guy who seemed to be working there but he kept running in and out with things. I finally followed him around the back of the little hut while pretending I was just enjoying the view, to find him catering to a pretty little tourist girl with drinks and fresh coconut. Interesting.

He finally came back to help the other bar tender and made our drinks. When we tried to pay he tried to charge us for alcoholic drinks. We got into a brief spat that we did NOT have alcohol in our drinks as he looks at us as if we are crazy. He is the one who just made them a minute beforehand and yes, some people don’t come here with the intent to get sloshed.

Back to reality, people are partying. It is something I’ll never fully understand. There are no cabs at the Shipwreck Tavern. As we wait, one arrives but it says off duty on its dashboard. A guy bounces out of the passenger side door and starts to yell at some random car in the street. Hes walking around, waving his arms, bellowing at things and then sees us and asks if we want a cab. I’m somewhat wide eyed and debating if I’m going to have to kick him as he tries to herd us to the cab and says the cabbie is his uncle and the best driver around.

“He has an out of service sign up,” I point out and am told not to worry about that. I peek at the driver who says, “I’m not his uncle he just talks a lot of shit and its fine.” It turns out it was the same cab we rode in the last time we did this exact same circuit. Amazing coincidence? Anyway, it was a sane cab trip. Our first set of sane cab trips.

At the hotel my husband decided to switch the cards on our room. He holds the room with his corporate card. This puts the 700 dollar hold they made on that card and keeps his personal card free. He then flips the cards and pays with his personal card where the money is sitting, waiting. Some places don’t drop holds quickly at all. We’ve had holds from hotels and rental cars linger for a week or two.

He does the thing where he pays things onto the card and then pays the card immediately from his account. No interest and card rewards are the result. It isn’t something I suggest for anyone with finical instability but when done properly it works nicely.  He did that trick and then did a reverse payment with his rewards points that paid for our entire Vegas hotel tab back in October.

Anyway, he just dropped the money on the card so its not free yet. They tried to put the hold on that card and it didn’t work. They asked for his other and he stared and said, “I don’t have it on me,” and walked away. The receptionist was a bit upset. We didn’t know she’d clear the entire card out of the system.

Back at the hotel we re-coco buttered my husband and just settled in for the night. One more day and then off home. I’m ready to go. All this activity has left me stiff and tired and I miss my bed and even the crushing affection of my doberdemons as they try to embed into my body at night.

St Thomas Vacation – Day 5

What does one do with sand in their hair and the knowledge that one’s husband can do magic?

Sleeping in is a delicious luxury. I’m tired. All of the stuff we have tried to do and places we have gone and constant trips out weary me. I wake up and collapse again and sleep for a few more hours. I’m rested for the most part but the days are full of swimming. Such as today.

We decided to use our ferry ticket to go and get breakfast and take a cab back. Breakfast was really lunch but I’m a stickler for my first meal being called breakfast. We wandered back to Jen’s Kitchen. The second experience was not as good as the first. My salad was nice and done how I wanted if I ignore the red and green peppers I had to pick off. It isn’t their fault that common favorite items are unappealing to me. My husband’s curried chicken was cold. He was not pleased at lukewarm temperatures and child bites of chicken. It was tasty but not hot and even I found it to be warm but not anything close to hot.

The food still tastes good and everyone is friendly. I find the close sitting by the gentlemen that seems to run the place uncomfortable. He talks to everyone, is very personable, and gets ones order right but he sits so closely. These are the times that I remember how very, very east coast american I am and personal space dependent.

We wandered out from breakfast and took a cab back to the hotel. It was time to go swimming. On the way inside I saw that the lemon water and fruit punch were back out. The other day I asked the gentleman at the towel hut what was in the lemon water. He looked at me like I was a simpleton and said very slowly, slowly as if one is speaking to an utter idiot, “Water. Ice. Lemon. Orange.”

Okay. Well, later that same day we swung by the one inside the reception and they have a red punch thing. I went over, excited and asked, “What is it?’ This time I was told, “It is fruit punch.” I got excited and he poured and glass and said it was, “Rum punch.”

Oh. I don’t drink. At all. My husband sipped it and said, “Oh yes, its rum.” Damn. The guy was shocked when I sighed and said, “No thanks,” and we passed by. My husband was making faces and said it tastes like it was about 1/2 run. This was near the time share desk so I think its part of the inhibition lowering.

To the elevators we went. This time, the doors opened and a slender, black woman sauntered out. She had on a steel colored bathing suit that was mostly strips and stripes. Her hair was coiffed in an intricate style and she daunted by, eyes narrowed with quite the, “Oh yes, I am amazing looking” attitude. I was fascinated by her body language. A pretty thing indeed.

We went up to change. Our room had been tended. I was worried it might not have been. The last time we wandered out close to noon they didn’t clean it. This time we had four bottles of water. I guess the entire, “Where is our shit?” thing worked.

I found myself pondering things like theft. When out and about one will bump into little stands of water. They are people sitting in an open, well traveled area with a cooler full of ice and water bottles selling them for a dollar. When we were on the open cab, headed back home, they’d run up to the cab and see if anyone wanted water while we waited at lights. I found myself wondering how many bottles of water wind up in those coolers. I guess it sounds like I am calling people thieves and maybe I am but there is blatant thievery and there is unused product. Not receiving our stuff the other day made me wonder about accountability.

We went down to the water. Our path involves somewhat convoluted travel through the hotel. The add hoc nature of some of the structure is revealed in these paths through hallways of rooms that lead to a door that goes outside (with no lock to come back in) that leads to steps that goes around and down to the beach. There is an elevator called the scenic elevator or something like that. It is very old, very slow, and breaks down constantly. Our second trip on it we met someone from the hotel who told us that they didn’t know what to do with it. It broke down constantly and the parts were no longer being made for it. Why he told us this I don’t know but it has broken down once so far, forcing us to walk up the mountain side of steps. I don’t want to walk up those steps when tired from swimming.

To the water we went. We have a little pattern now and set up quickly and go get in the water. We only use one beach chair to hold our stuff since we don’t sit on the beach. The beach itself is quite large, with thick fine sand and a great view. The thing is there is barely ever anyone in the water. I figured, maybe I smell? Maybe I’m gross and scaring them? But most people seem to want to lay in the sun or sit there and drink and drink and drink.

Yesterday, on the way back up, we met a man so intoxicated that he appeared to have some form of mental retardation. He was pretty clear eyed and stabled but the thick, fumbling, slurred speech was pretty amazing.

We swam and swam and swarm. This is when I lost my sunglasses. The ocean will take her due. I was grabbing handfuls of sand. Why, I don’t know. I love doing it. And a second wave came right behind the first and slamed into me. I could only close my eyes and hold my breath as I tumbled around and was slammed by a third wave. Water is so amazing violent at times.

When I came up to clean my eyes and nose my husband said, “Where are your glasses?” I blinked at the tint free world and said, “Gone.” Oh well. 9.99 out the window. But this is when magic happens. For over the next few minutes I hopelessly grope in the water. We are again bashed by a serious set of waves and my husband comes up, sputtering, with my sunglasses in his hand. He had scraped along the bottom and his hand caught hold of them. While my hair tie was lost my sunglasses were found. I was reminded of the exact same trick, done in Nassau by myself, three years before for a boys 200$ pair of Gucci Sunglasses lost in a similar matter. The ocean it seems does not care what price the sunglasses are.

Storm clouds crept across the horizon. The water became more turbulent and cooled. The flavor changed as well, getting more of the deeper tang of deep water. It was getting late and we had planned to swim early, something we’ve failed to do. On the beach, many people had left and a few new ones arrived.

I noticed that the lovely young lady was slowly walking along the beach. She had on jean shorts which were cut down from a pair of jeans. For some reason, as is common in this particular mode of self made clothing she had left the pockets intact but cut the pants themselves all the way up to the waistline. So there was lots of leg and bathing suit on display, and white cotton pocket hanging down, kind of confused and conflicting.

The rest of her party wandered onto the beach. There are conventions here. How anyone expects them to be productive, I don’t know. But now, there are five black men and this lovely black woman at the edge of the water. She, with an audience, comes to life. All of them hover on the edge of the water. One, makes sure to lift the edges of his swim trunks when the water splashes him. She walks the length of the beach sometimes playing in the surf and often avoiding getting wet. Yet, her  jean shorts get wetter and wetter.

My husband and I are cold now. The sun is going down and its been covered by clouds for an hour. The ocean is cool and we are tired.  We decide to get out and go rinse the bulk of the sand from ourselves and head up. I rinse off my feet on the steps. The girl brushes up the steps past me. I move out of the way of my husband and she approaches. They have a conversation and he turns the water on. She moves her foot forward only to be blocked by his. He cheerfully washes the sand off of his Vibrams and she stares at him for a moment and then flounces away. He continues to rinse off while I laugh into my towel.

It seems that their conversation went like this:

Her: Oh, I wonder how this works.

Him: Like this. He presses the handle.

She goes to rinse her toes as he holds the water for him only to find out that he had zero interest in holding the water on for her to wash her feet and washes his own.

We wash down a bit better at the main rinse off. Between those two moments she has shed her shorts and is now only in her metallic Bikini and actually in the water. Finally.

“She expected you to rinse her feet for her,” I say to him.

“I don’t know why.”

“Because she is pretty and you only have your fat, dowdy wife to deal with.”

“She had no tits.”

And we went back inside. Up on our floor there was a small child playing hide and go seek from a parent in the hallway. Another was playing with barbies. We skirted all of this activity, prayed that they’d not be noisy all night, and slipped into our room to debate dinner, the future, and sand.

A lot of sand comes off in the shower. My hair is a ratty, snarled mess from the water and I have to wash it out. I fill the tub with sand which is to be expected. However, after my hair mostly dries and I go to oil it I notice that I have dandruff. When I look closer I see that it is sand. Lots of sand. Tangled in the kinky mass of my hair. I’m shedding it slowly, everywhere. It is a weird feeling. At least it is clean.

Today was repeat day. We went back to the Green House.

We had to wait for our taxi which is expected. I was staring at the storm doors. They are folded back and open the entire main floor to the sky. The breeze blows through and through and the place is amazing. Yet, storms rage through this place and these doors, beautifully fashioned and lacquered do close. I decided to look at the supports. The holes where the pegs go in to lock the doors down are barely used. They don’t close these doors often. I find the brilliant livability of the weather hard to take in sometimes. For this area, this is winter. Most of the natives have on long pants and many wear long sleeves as well.

Will I grow used to these taxis without wondering about death? The trip was fine until the road he wanted was closed. The route we took led us higher into the city and its narrow backstreets littered with cars half parked in the street half on the sidewalk. He wiggled that van through amazing turns and twisted it around drop offs and parked cars as we navigated the roads. At one point he had to pull his mirror in because we were a breath away from the other car. I don’t get motion sickness but I do get ‘oh my god horrible road conditions’ sickness and staggered out of the cab wondering how this is normal for anyone.

Dinner was again good. My burger was excellent for a well done burger. It was startling. The wind was blowing and the place is open air. The cool breeze cools the food quickly but that is rather normal it seems. I watched the guy from the last time we where here rubbing down another car with a cloth. He spent the entire meal on this one car until the driver came back. I think that he is watching the car for the owner.

Another man, was begging some. He came to our window and asked each of us for a dollar. We said no. I do wonder what happened in life to turn him from a vibrant, energy filled young man such as the ones on the corner to a skeletal figure asking for change. We watched a car load up with people and the passenger offer the driver a shot, which she refused. We watched another car park and the driver get out with a shot in his hand. We watched a series of cop cars go racing off somewhere, their sirens a pale high pitches whistle in the night.

We caught a non authorized cab ride back to the hotel. He wears his seatbelt with a pin so that it can’t retract. Seatbelt usage is not common we’ve noticed.

Back at the hotel we order desert from room service. After an hour my husband calls them to ask WTF our piece of pie and brownie are at? He is more polite than that but that is the gist of what he asked.

And now, I’m tired. We’re going to have breakfast here tomorrow and try to hit the water early.