Petri Wessman's weblog

Leaving normal, once again

Now I’m leaving normal and I’m heading for who knows where

–Cowboy Junkies, “Leaving Normal”

More or less dropping off the grid now. Flight leaves in… all too few hours, I should already be trying to grab a few hours of sleep. Maybe I will.

Tomorrow Iceland, then in a few weeks Black Rock City. I can already smell the playa dust.

P.S. The Ropecon VTES tournament report is now up. Enjoy.

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Even though it’s hard to believe it now, with rain drizziling down from a leaden sky, last weekend was “Scorchio!”-tastic around the Turku-Hanko seaside (Kasnäs, to be more exact). Even though there’s a lot of trip prep stuff to do, we decided to take the weekend off and go sailing for a few days on a friend’s boat (well, boat belonging to a friend’s parents, to be more exact). We drove down there Friday after work, arriving at the marina a bit after 9pm, after which we settled down for a quick onboard dinner and some drinks. The marina had wifi connectivity, which was a new feature for me even though I’m told it’s quite common nowadays. Somehow, sitting in a sailboat and browsing the web on a netbook was a bit strange. I got over it.

The next two days were hot. Unfortunately they were also a bit on the overly calm side, so we just motored around on Saturday. Sunday the wind had picked up a small bit so we unfurled sails and did some actual sailing. Nothin fancy, but it’s always more pleasant to move on windpower instead of marine diesel… at least when the weather is nice.

Good short trip, and it helped reduce pre-vacation stress levels a bit. Now we’re approaching the point where we actually have to start packing soon; so far we’ve just made checklists of stuff to bring and have done some shopping along the same lines. I got a new camera bag (well, two actually), a new carbon fiber tripod, a small Gorillapod, and some other stuff. Photowise I should be all set now, and I also tested the workflow from CF card to card reader to netbook (Lightroom) to home workstation (Lightroom with some actual processing power). Seemed to work fine. Also cleaned the camera sensor (long overdue and cause for angst on previous Lapland trip) and updated the camera firmware to latest.

It’s always the same thing before a long trip abroad. The few weeks before are hectic; you try to tie up loose ends at work, you try to think of all you’ll need, you try to finish off the most critical parts of your “todo” list. Once you actually get on the plane things lighten up, before that it’s always a bit of a hassle. All this is magified a bit, since we need to do some “extreme packing”: first we go hiking in Iceland, in an area in which there is a real possibility of snow even at this time of year. Then we go to the Nevada desert and Burning Man, where temperatures around +40C are quite possible. Oh, and everything needs to both fit in the airplane loggage allowance and be as portable as possible. We have some experience at this already so it’s not as bad as it could be… but it still needs quite a bit of planning. This will also be the first actual field test for our new high-tech Hilleberg Nallo 3 GT tent, both in Iceland and at Burning Man. If our trusty Terra Nova Ultra Quasar has managed Burning Man, the Hilleberg should too. But we’ll see.

Summer scheduling

Looks like I need to start scheduling my summer right about now, a lot of things need decisions round this time. For example, I just heard that The National are coming to Ankkarock… and of course Ropecon is on the same weekend. Gah. I really want to see The National, they were one of the best “new finds” of last year for me. Good news is that they are performing on Sunday. I’ll probably be able to combo the con Sunday with a rock festival. Somehow. It might involve beer.

In addition, a friend’s paintball weekend thingy lands on top of Provinssirock. Probably choosing the paintball there… sure, it would be nice to see Placebo (again) and Nick Cave, but now that (another) friend no longer lives nearby that would be a pretty expensive trip – I think I’ll opt for the cheaper “run in the woods and get shot” option. Oh, and of course there’s a KMFDM club gig on that same weekend. Already have tickets for that, but not yet sure how I’ll combo everything.

Oh, and we’re planning of maybe visiting Iceland in August, and continuing from there to Burning Man (once again!). Still in the planning stages, but that one will eat up both our vacation time and a chunk of cash. Why Iceland? Because we can. And because it should be less horribly expensive now, due to their financial crash. Sucks for them, good for us.

Having fun takes work, I tell you.

Back in the default world

Boys, now the times are changing
The going could get rough
Boys, would that ever cross your mind?
Boys, are you contemplating moving out somewhere?
Boys, will you ever find the time?

Here we are stranded
Somehow it seems the same
Beware, here comes the quiet life again

– Japan, “Quiet Life”

We’re back. Actually, we landed on Saturday evening, with myself feeling like a stranger in a strange land. I guess it’s a sign that the trip was a good one, I feel like I’ve been gone much longer than the 2,5 weeks. Playa time.

Jetlag struck back on Sunday, we woke at 3.30pm thinking it was morning. Heh. I’m now more or less back in the normal Finnish sleep-wake cycle, and actually doing some of this “work” thing again. Strange stuff.

Burning Man was the same as ever, and also different. I guess that’s one of the points of the thing, and one that people complaining that “it’s not like it was in the early days!” tend to miss. Our camp was fun, and we met some new wonderful people and met up with some old friends (some in a really serendipitous manner).

I’ll write more about the trip later. I also have a ton of pictures, which I’ll publish when I process them – that’ll take a while, though.

I think it’ll be quiet life for us for some while now, if for no other reason than that our credit cards are feeling the strain of all this travel (and other things). Quiet life good, in moderation.

On the other hand…

As a quick side note: the “post-release” tournament for the new VTES expansion, “Lords of the Night”, will be held on Sunday Sept 30th (12:00, Fantsu). I’ll add info about it on the VTES page, also ,soonish.

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Leaving normal, again

Looks like the EC report and the Ropecon report will have to wait, I’m out of time and mentally already out on the Playa.

Off the grid, out of the rat race.

Plane leaves tomorrow morning, wakeup is around 5am. Tomorrow San Francisco, Monday Burning Man. Back in 2,5 weeks.

The wind in my heart
The wind in my heart
The dust in my head
The dust in my head

– Talking Heads, “Listening Wind”

Man I’m losing sound and sight
Of all those who can tell me wrong from right
When all things beautiful and bright
Sink in the night
Yet theres still something in my heart
That can find a way
To make a start
To turn up the signal
Wipe out the noise
Receive and transmit

– Peter Gabriel, “Signal To Noise”

Now I’m leaving Normal
and I’m heading for Who Knows Where

– Cowboy Junkies, “Leaving Normal”

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Playa time

Burning Man

We didn’t intend to go this year, with the house purchase killing our finances and available vacation time being uncertain. Bu then… we started looking at vacations and thinking “hmm, I guess we could sqeeze in 2 weeks in there”, and “well, it’s not that expensive, all things considered”. And “we really need a proper vacation”. And…

So now we have flights to San Francisco booked, and are heading for the playa once more, along with two other co-conspirators. No huge detours this time: we fly to SF, rent a minivan or some such, shop around (in Sacramento, probably), and head for the desert. On the way back we’ll probably drop by Hot Creek (yay!), Death Valley and (perhaps fittingly) Disneyland. We’ll see. We have a car and several days to fill, no need to make binding plans.

We might be hooking up with the Group W / Math Camp guys this year round, looking forward to that – they were good folks. Also need to email other people we’ve met the last couple of times and see if we can manage to meet up again. It’s always a bit random trying to meet specific people among 35k+, but it usually seems to work out somehow. Serendipity.

This year I think I’ll be walking around quite a bit, with camera and monopod. Methinks this is the ideal workout for our newish 70-200 L-series IS zoom lens. Also want to take some early-morning walks with camera, you get some nice shots that way. Always time to sleep a bit later when the sun is in “deep fry” mode.

Otherwise, life goes on. This weekend I think we’ll start actual work on Operation Cat Alcatraz, stay tuned.

Was out playing VTES at Valtteri again last night. First game I had a new experimental deck out: Alicia Barrows and friends recruit Escaped Mental Patients & Muddles, and Alicia Inspires them to great deeds (4 aggravated / 6 first strike, in particular). Alicia also votes, and Sennadurek uses Emergency Rations (and Consume the Dead) to chow down dead allies and bloat. I actually won the game with that, though largely it was due to fortunate table position. A bit unexpected. Second game also resulted in game win with my Sebastian deck. It works pretty well, but still has trouble reliably getting intercept on the table (and pool gain is also a problem). Will need to tweak some more. Third game had me in a worst-case position, with my Temptation deck between two rush decks. Ouch. Managed to last a while due to table politics, but it was a losing proposition from the start. Good fun, though did get home a bit late (around 1.15am). Yawn.

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