21 July, 2005

A dreary and windy day. Perfect for a walk on the deck.

The view from the very top as well as one of the many cameras watching us.

The view that almost nobody took advantage of today.

There's a little basketball court on the roof.

And a little tennis court to match.

These are devices necessary to the operation of the basketball and tennis courts.

The BBC became viewable today and many probably wished it hadn't.

This was the tube train that almost blew up earlier in the day.

And today's nearly bombed bus. How weird is it that the #26 was going to a place called Hackney?

This is the library, where books are kept locked up at night. Trust only goes so far, after all.

The rules about dumping garbage overboard. Apparently when you're 25 miles or more out, anything goes. Except plastic.

Another boat was spotted in the distance.

As the winds increased, the BBC was chopped into bits.

England is now within sight. At least on the map. We won't actually be seeing land for a while to come.

21 July, 2005

Day 5. BBC came back into range today right in time to let us know about the latest terror scare. Two weeks to the day after the terrorist attacks in London, an apparent duplicate attempt was made. Miraculously, all four devices failed to go off. Some bomb maker is probably getting chewed out by his fellow terrorists at this very moment. It's so bizarre though. The QM2 was on its way to London the last time this happened and I wondered at the time what it must have been like onboard to hear the news. And now I get to experience it, albeit to a much lesser degree. Everyone I met today had heard about what had happened. One guy had concluded that the only way to deal with things from now on would be to simply search everyone who looks Middle Eastern before they get on a tube or bus. He wouldn't say it on camera unfortunately.

It really upsets me to see how Blair and Bush have so totally fucked their own people, both by getting them killed in an absurd invasion/occupation and also by helping to introduce the concept of suicide bombings in their respective countries. What victory have they won? They've stirred up a hornet's nest because they didn't understand hornets and now we all have to deal with the mess. Not to mention all of the money that has been poured into this big waste of time which could have gone into fixing so much of what is wrong in both of our nations.

And now they're talking about introducing laws in England that would make it a crime to "indirectly" support terrorism. That means if you say something that a potential terrorist could latch onto as justification or affirmation for his/her actions (such as "This is exactly what England had coming"), you could be dragged away in the night. And while they're introducing this twisted legislation, these very same people are spewing words like "we must not let them shake our resolve or change our values." Do they really not listen to what is coming out of their own mouths?

The fact is, England most definitely had this coming and it's only a matter of time before it begins to happen in the United States. What did we expect? You can't occupy countries, impose your will on populations at the point of a gun, and lead a crusade of "democracy" throughout the world and not expect some sort of severe reaction from the many people who don't see it your way. And suicide bombs are the perfect weapon to use. How can you possibly stop someone from attacking when they don't mind dying? There's literally no defense and it winds up scaring the shit out of everyone and getting fools to repeal the values and laws that are supposed to be what we stand for in the first place! Since our leaders and our soldiers are so heavily protected from everybody and everything, guess who winds up becoming the victims of these strikes? Sure, I blame the idiotic fanatics who are now causing so much panic in our streets. But I also blame our own idiot fanatics who seem to think they can mold the world into some sort of Disneyland for the West. And it's the latter who had the power to keep this destructive game from starting in the first place.

But enough about that. Despite the resumption of live TV and its unwelcome news, the QM2 is chugging ever closer to Southampton dock. We can now see England on the map showing our progress. Still a ways to go but it now seems in the foreseeable future. As this is the longest I have ever been on a boat, I wonder what it will feel like to set foot on solid ground once again. I do so hope England is still there when we arrive.

I was very excited today to see another boat passing by. That kind of thing doesn't happen very often out at sea. And the boat we passed (which was heading west) seemed so small and empty. It turned out to be a tanker but I had to wonder just how many people were on board and how they were passing their time. Perhaps I'll find out when I ride the freighter across the Pacific in September. It's all about redefining loneliness.

The whole day was wet and stormy. Not many people ventured outside. So naturally I spent more time than ever outdoors today. In fact, I did what I wanted to do ever since I came on board. I walked the length of every floor on the ship. Of course there are many hidden areas that I wasn't able to gain access to. But I covered everything that was accessible from the top of the ship on the 14th deck to the employee hive on the 1st deck. For every floor, I went up one corridor and down the other on the opposite side. If there were balconies, I made a second trip down those. If anyone was watching me, they would have had no doubts as to the state of my sanity. But it kept me from going stir crazy, gave me some much needed exercise, and satisfied a bit of my curiosity. I think I may finally know where everything is.

The ship has well over a thousand employees serving the needs of the 2500 or so passengers. And they seem to be specially trained to be extra nice to anyone who's a passenger. Not once in my hours-long sojourn did anyone ask if they could help me in that all too familiar obnoxious tone which really means "you don't belong here." Whether it was a hallway that led to a dead end, a restaurant that was no longer open, or a club that was still setting up, nobody stood in my way or questioned my motives. And that's also true of the passengers. It's clear I don't fit in here. But that's been reinforced primarily through my own thoughts and not from anything anyone else has said or done. (Of course, I can only imagine what they're *thinking* but that's another issue.) Getting back to the huge amount of employees, part of their being nice to everyone mandates that they say hi to you whenever you pass them. And of course it's only polite to respond in kind. Try to envision how many employees I passed while walking up and down every hallway on a city block long 14 level boat and you'll understand why today set a personal record for the most meaningless pleasantries I've ever exchanged with complete strangers. It was wonderfully unsatisfying.

I also finally hooked up with the immigration people who stamped my passport with Saturday's date. That's kinda cool by itself. But the funny thing was that I was literally one of a handful of people who hadn't finished the procedure yet. I had just assumed that there would be a lot more of us who weren't so punctual. The consequences of not showing up to this appointment included having your name read out on the boat's loudspeaker. I heard two names read out at the end of the day. Those are the people I need to meet.

I also bit the bullet and looked at my Internet bill. Pretty bad. Over $400 in charges, most of it incurred during the "Off The Wall" upload. I sure hope you all listened at least. I'll be trying to get some of that taken off because of the many net problems that were occurring but we are in the middle of the ocean after all so I'm not going to get all "American" on their asses by bitching and moaning and carrying on in a loud voice. I'll just find another way to get even if it comes down to it.

Tomorrow is the last full day on the boat and hopefully it will be a little nicer outside than today. As I write this in the middle of the night, the wind is howling at my window. I've always liked that sound on land. Here at sea it's slightly less comforting but it's still pretty awe inspiring.