2/21/02 – 10:16 a.m., AST
We finally got everything taken care of with the two shipping containers, though 2 days behind schedule. Luckily, it didn’t require a change in our plans… just ate up 2 of our “relax and kick it at the beach after all this shit’s done” days. We ended up having to hire a couple guys to help us move some of the stuff into the first container, as we just couldn’t do it all ourselves. 5 or 6 of the items are really heavy, and we had fewer people loading out than when we got here… so, more help was needed. Got some guys from a local “services” company (couldn’t find movers anywhere in the phone book). The first container went out Monday, and Monday afternoon, the second container was delivered to the house. Tuesday we loaded the second container, which is all of our personal belongings (as opposed to the office furniture and other stuff that belongs to Islandless which is in container #1).
Neph was to leave on Wednesday morning, so Tuesday after we were done working for the day, I ran over to where he was staying (Richard’s mom’s place), picked him up, and brought him over to our pad. We then proceeded to drink heinekin, watch south park, and burn. He had to be out early in the morning, though, so we didn’t hang for too long…
Most of wednesday was used for the final odds and ends… Rob went into town and settled up the phone bill with c&w and the auto bill with the rental car company (we rented a car the whole time we were there; it was very expensive). Meanwhile, Dan and I cleaned most of the house. We ended up leaving it cleaner than we found it; not too tough considering it was sorta dirty when we got there – not to mention the fact that only one of the toilets worked (we got them all working). We also left our appliances there; Islandless had purchased them before we left Florida. We offered them to our landlords, and they decided to buy them from Islandless. The second container still hadn’t been picked up by Wednesday afternoon, since it rained most of Tuesday. Normally rain does not preclude container transportation by road, but on Tortola high in the hills, with the very twisty-turny and steep roads, it does. Finally got ahold of D.A., our trucker-thug extraordinaire, and he made it out late in the afternoon. That evening, Dan finished moving his stuff over to Richard’s, and rob and I stayed at the crib and watched south park and burned some more.
Our flight leaves St. Thomas at 11:30, so we took the 7:20 ferry from West End, Tortola to St. Thomas. We breezed right through customs, both at the ferry dock in St. Thomas, and also here at the airport (in the lobby of which I currently sit, clacking away on Bish). This is the first time I’ve dealt with travel security since Last September, and hardly anything seems to have changed (from the outside, anyway). There’s a uniformed militarist (rotc?) standing on the other side of the airport security checkpoint, and they have this neat little machine which checks for explosive residue, I think. The lady takes this little plastic wand, and clips a piece of cloth through this little eyelet thingy on one end, and then wipes it over one’s bags and such; then she removes the cloth and places it inside a little slot on the side of a big boxy machine for exactly 6 seconds, after which point you can proceed to put yer shoes back on and move along.
Paid $10.50 for some pretty nasty airport breakfast food. Still 45 minutes until we board. We go to San Juan from here, then on to Ft. Lauderdale – back the way we came. First thing I’m doing when we land in Puerto Rico is turning my goddamn cell phone back on – it’s charged up and ready to go. I cannot wait to pay $45 for thousands of minutes per month!! Living in the BVI, I all but gave up on phone use completely, as it is prohibitively expensive, seriously. During the time we were there, we routinely had phone bills ranging from $500 to about $1,200. Granted, there was some long distance calling going on (in some cases, lots of it); but very very little by yours truly, so I just paid my share of the standard connection fees. It will be *so nice* to get back to the USA where people understand competition, and goods and services are provided in a competitive manner… but I digress… not getting into the philosophies involved until this is all through, as I’ve said before. I’ve made some fairly significant realizations, and I want to give everything time to sink in a bit before I write about it.
Oh yeah, check this out… so in dealing with Tropical Shipping to coordinate the return of our containers, we found out that they won’t make it back to Ft. Lauderdale until Sunday, March 10th – way longer than it took them to get down here. None of us expected this; we all made plans based on a relatively timely return of the containers. Since I’ve already got plane tickets, and since waiting around for an extra two weeks would be kinda lame, Rob’s offered to do the ground work with the containers himself, which means I’ll be on my merry way from Ft. Lauderdale at any old time. I’d alloted about a week to deal with the containers, but since I don’t have to now, that’s extra time to do whatever… still want to keep my plane tickets unchanged, though, so that’ll probably translate into extra time with nico and steph ;)
12:52 p.m., AST.
At the San Juan airport. I didn’t realize how big Puerto Rico is last time I was here, but this time, flying in from the other direction, I got to see most of it from a few thousand feet up, and it’s much more populated than I thought…. the zoning is really distinct from the air, with clearly defined industrial, residential, and commercial sections… (some classic shanty town action too).
The flight from St. Thomas to here is a short one; only about 25 minutes in the air. Consequently, we only toped out at about 5 thousand feet, which is the perfect viewing altitude. The Caribbean really is beautiful… blue water, beachy or rocky coast, mountains, hills, un-inhabited islands… it’s all quite tropical :)
Tried to re-activate my phone just now, but I forgot how to dial Sprint operators, and all I get is some error message in spanish.
I wanted to charge up my iBook battery a bit before getting on the plane to FL., so I found a nice conspicuous spot against a wall, such that Bish might attract passers by. Got one guy :) (has a pc, needs something small to travel with for Photoshop and such, will be getting an iBook soon :)
1:57 p.m., AST
In the air to Ft. Lauderdale now… After we got on the plane, but before we took off, I noticed that the numerous TVs that hang above the isle were showing some sort of pre-flight programming. Apparently American Airlines has a new policy of soothing passengers with a collage of nature shots + classical music. Dew drops reflecting sunlight. Time lapse shots of clouds though a bunch of bare trees. Extreme close-ups of plant life. Ahh, I feel better already :) I wonder if anybody else (besides Dan, who commented on it also) saw it as an obvious attempt to appease passengers…
Things to do once back in FL:
– Activate cell phone
– Make frivolous calls to people across the country
– Find some great Indian food
There isn’t a great deal of material things that we wanted but didn’t have in the BVI. As I’ve mentioned before, my basic necessities are pretty slim, especially in terms of belongings. I’ve always been big on not owning much more than I could carry; if it came down to it, I could ditch everything but what I could carry and be okay with it. The past months have reinforced this philosophy for me, as I’ve moved all sorts of stuff all over the place. I realize of course that physical equipment / items (furniture, etc) are necessary in some cases; certainly in the case of a .net startup. My participation in Islandless includes help in setting up / breaking down, and of course I did make use of some of the furniture (sweet bigass desk). Having said that (and also knowing that I won’t be unloading either of the two containers), I can say with relative certainty that I won’t be hauling around another heavy-ass [insert large, unwieldy, heavily polished and thus nearly grip-less piece of furniture here] for as long as possible. I hate to bitch, but god damn, I hate moving. This hate is not based on a small sample, either ;)
One good thing I think I’ll take from the BVI is my newfound ability to not spend lots of money on stupid shit. I didn’t realize how quickly it adds up, or how hard it is to pin down a constant expenditure of small amounts of cash on little things like chai or food or cab rides or whatever… but once I was removed from the land of consumer temptation, I became more conscious of just how much money I can save if I don’t spend it :) Working for Islandless, I made about the same as I did working for VoiceStream; even though my major expenses were fairly low back then, the minor ones pretty much kept me from saving any significant amount of money. In the BVI, both my major *and* minor expenses were quite low, so I ended up with a chunk of change that should hold me until I start getting paychecks again.
I also now have better eating habits; much of that I think is rub-off from Dan and Rob. It’s not that I was eating horribly before, but I didn’t pay as much attention as I should have. Now I’m used to eating rice and fake meat and all that stuff, and I like it. I plan to get myself a rice cooker once I get back… rice prepared with a rice cooker is at once cheap, fast, easy, and tasty (with a little soy and perhaps some steamed broccoli or tofu)… just can’t go wrong :)
I really want a new g4, but of course it must wait until I get a job (though believe me, the temptation to just buy a top-end dual ghz powermac is very strong). I’ve never used anything faster than a 733, so I’m sure I’ll crap in my pants when I sit down at Damon’s dual ghz mac. It’s okay though, I’m sure I’ll have hardware lust in some form or another for many years to come.
2/22/02, 3:50 p.m. EST
We arrived yesterday in Ft. Lauderdale without incident. Rob’s dad left his car at the airport, since he’s out of town, so we just drove it back to his place, which is where we’re staying anyway.
Almost immediately after we got to the house, we headed straight for the goddamn tv. Yeap, still pretty bad… possibly even a bit worse than I left it a scant 6 months ago.
Ordered some Thai takeout last night, watched Hunt for Red October on VHS.
Today we went grocery shopping. It was most excellent to return to the expected selection of goods and prices… even though we shopped at a health foods store, we still paid less than we would have for the same stuff in the BVI (not that we could have even found half of the stuff we bought today in the BVI).
JPC got Earthlink DSL right before he split town, so it’s currently in a non-functional state. The DSL itself seems to be provisioned and linked, but we don’t know the PPPOE login info… but JPC returns this evening… of course, once you read this, I’ll be back online ;)
I got my phone re-activated, at high cost. I foolishly didn’t cancel my service before I left for the BVI. Actually, there’s a bit more to it… I did call to cancel, but the Sprint phone lady told me that Sprint would soon have presence in the BVI. That, combined with the fact that there was a $150 cancelation fee, allowed the phone lady to convince me not to cancel my service, but rather to move to the cheapest plan until service was available in the BVI, at which point I could return to my previous plan. What ended up happening is that I had to have my credit card changed, since I got ripped off before I left, and I don’t think Sprint ever got the new info. Consequently, my account racked up several months worth of service charges, plus a cancelation fee. It cost me almost $500 to get the damn thing turned back on, but now it is indeed functional. I’ve got a new number, too… I’ll let you know ;) Once off-peak time rolls around, I think I’ll make some calls tonight.
2/23/02, 1:33 p.m.
Just chillin’ :)