Tue, 15 Nov 2005

Not that Cambridge

As predicted, the morning was not productive at all. At one point I slightly became concious and saw sladen fetching his bike, opening the door and telling me "Back in two hours!". We didn't know anything about him until 24 hours later. As we started waking up, we tried to think of a plan for the day. The morning was gone, though.

Clint took us to a restaurant two blocks away for breakfast, or actually brunch, because that was the only food in many hours. I ate some "pancakes" with banana in them, and barely could finish them; they are very filling. We went to the promenade for a last look at the Manhattan skyline and took some pictures while we tried to figure out what to do.

A last view over Manhattan

Mako was developing a plan in secret, though, which involved micah and his car. Micah found out soon after. We went back to Clint's, expecting to find sladen somewhere, but we didn't. I packed my things, and when we really needed to go, we resolved to put his things in the entrance so he could find then and do whatever he wanted on his return.

We went on the Metro to Union Square, where, hear this helix, I saw TONS of raperos doing their break-dance thing (ok, maybe not tons, but I did see them). And two blocks away, we arrived to the most incredible book store.

Mako has blogged many times about buying very rare books at the Strand for ridiculous prices, but this was totally unexpected. The Strand is huge. On the outside, there's carts with hundreds of second-hand books, all for one dollar. Mako used to go there and browse the books to find interesting stuff. The Acetarium is full of them! Most of the dollar books are total crap though. A very high percent talk about god, religion, "our troops" and stuff like that. Mentally filtering what might be good and what is not is not easy when you haven't done it before.

Mako started scanning the shelves as soon as we arrived, and every now and them he'd pick some totally stupid title. I was on my own shelf, missing many good stuff, while mika, Clint and mako did their own. Clint found quite a few titles, but mako didn't find anything good. I got lucky though, and found the precious book of the day: The Spanish Anarchists. The heroic years 1868-1936, by Murray Bookchin. Although old, it was in very good condition, and mako immediately asked if I was taking it. :) I won!

The inside of the Strand was incredible too. Three very big floors packed with books, plus the half-priced "reviewer's copies" at the basement. I was totally overwhelmed by the amount of books I'd be interested in buying, and the limited weight I should be carrying back, so I did my best not to look too carefully.

For a few hours, I didn't have a too clear idea of what mako's plans were. At some point, micah phoned him and we rushed to the PATH, the train that goes to New Jersey. Apparently we were meeting micah at Newark, but I still didn't know why we had to go there. During our ride, I could see how pleasant New Jersey is to the human eye. Miles and miles of heavy industries. I'm pretty sure it's the ugliest place I've ever seen. What I couldn't see, and I'm still disappointed, is any of the viciously arrogant rats of the New York metro system. Mako had told me about how they look at you, like saying "if you come down here, you'll be left with 9 fingers", and the incredible number of them on the tracks. Unfortunately I couldn't see any. I blame Michael Bloomberg.

At Newark, micah appeared in his car, and we all hopped into it. We apparently were going by car to Boston... including Clint. I was puzzled, as he had to work on Monday, but he'd said that he'd simply "come back". There was a problem though, mako had dilinger's keys, and he was going back to NYC from Boston, and we didn't have time to get to Boston before he left, so we had to find a way of leaving the keys in NYC so he could get into his appartment. Finally, mako resolved that Clint would be left in a cold street, in a rough area of NYC, and he would handle the keys problem. I still didn't understand what was going on.

We headed North, and I quickly fell asleep on mika's lap. I'm getting old. When the car stopped again and I suddenly woke up, I looked ahead and... HORROR! We were at the door of a McDonads. WTF WAS GOING ON? So it seems that when you're on the road, there's no much other choice than shit food. After a quick discussion with mako about how badly those burgers taste, I quickly went back to sleep, until we were in Boston. It took a while to find a parking spot, because all of them "permit only". It's impossible to park if you come from somewhere else.

I was finally at the Acetarium, a very cool flat in Cambridge, 15 minutes away from the MIT. It was 3:30 in the morning.

The day after, we woke up pretty late, and as I opened my laptop and found a privmsg from sladen, he was was knocking at the door. This man has an incredible ability to disappear and reappear when he's most unexpected. Apparently he managed to grab his stuff in NYC, fetch the bus and arrive at 2AM in Boston, meeting dilinger at the station, and mako as he went out to MIT.

micah and I went to explore Boston, but never managed. We consumed a few hours when trying to ship some equipment to micah's colo, and then trying to find food. When we were ready to go, micah got a very badly timed call, which made him go back to the Acetarium: a server at work was dying or dead. At one point, it was late enough that going to Boston wasn't worth it, so we went to visit the Media Lab instead.

On our way there, micah and I kept chatting about this and that, and found out how small the internet is. We both know a bunch of common people from uncommon places like Perú, from our involvement in social projects in the net like Indymedia and Sindominio.net.

The MIT is incredible, specially the Stata Center by Frank Gehry. We wandered around as we only got voice mail from mako, until an hour later we found we was like 20 metres away from us. He gave us a tour through the Media lab, and it was incredible. I had never seen something like that. Every lab was colourful and fun, and very cool developments were going on everywhere. I also saw the coolest mame box ever, with an arcade case and everything.

The Stata Center, right next to the Media Lab

After the tour, micah and I headed back, while sladen stayed to have a look at one of mako's projects. When we got back to the flat, there were a few people already there for mika's sushi party, and I rolled my first sushi rolls, which was fun. A bunch of Debian people joined us, including zufus and gravity, and had a great chat with them. The party ended way too late and after too many beers.

sladen used his secret disappearing abilities, and a few colleagues from mako crashed, so there was a bit of overbooking. Mako's solution was simple. mika, him and I could share their bed.

I can't say I have slept too much, because mako would keep pulling the blanket and leave me out in the cold, and I was trying not to squish mika. But it went ok, although we discovered too late that mika was hot while I was cold, and we swapped our places just before we ended up waking up.

Today, we'll go find the Freedom Trail and walk a bit around it, meet gravity and zufus for lunch, and I will sadly have to go back to Cambridge, quickly pack and head to the airport to catch my plane. My hours in North America are expiring.