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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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Like my brownhouse:
Tuesday, July 23 2019

location: Room 5115, cruise ship Vasco da Gama in a port on Rügen Island near Sassnitz, Germany

This morning Gretchen and I went to Club Bistro, the big buffet restaurant at the back of the Lido Deck. We were joined at our table by a round father and pudgy son from Bristol in southwest England. It wasn't long once we started talking that the topic turned to Brexit. When they claimed that "both sides" were spreading lies about it, I knew something was amiss in their world view. It eventually turned out that they were pro-Brexit, though their reasoning was pretty weak. Their main complaint with the European Union was that it was wasteful, though the only example they offered was that every few weeks the headquarters is packed up and shipped either to Brussels or Strasbourg. Later Gretchen would ask Kelley and Brian if there really were vegans (and perhaps others with a leftist outlook) who supported Brexit, and she said that indeed there were, though they weren't as numerous as Brexit's moron and racist constituencies.
Our ship had docked at the German island of Rügen in the Baltic, and one of the things on that island was the town of Sassnitz. A free shuttle had been provided to get us to and from the harbor port to Sassnitz, and we took that with Gretchen's parents. A long staircase up from where the bus disgorged us made it prudent for us to have our own separate Sassnitz experience from our older companions, though we spent most of our time in Sassnitz with Suzanne and G, the latter of whom was keen to find out more about the Hanseatic League (a collection of late-Medieval merchant guilds based mostly in Northern Europe; for some reason I'd learned something about it in high school but nowhere else). Our stroll took us through an unremarkable village and then down to the beach, where we went as far as some chalk cliffs (though they had coinpurse-sized flinty nodules embedded in them) and then turned around and walked back along the coast to the village. Along the way, Suzanne told us about some surgery she'd recently gotten for Crohn's Disease, and then she and Gretchen compared their tiny scars. I, of course, had them all beat with my enormous vintage-1983 Meckel's Diverticulum surgery scar.
Along the Sassnitz boardwalk, Gretchen found a shop with pottery cups worth buying while I mostly waited out in the sun and watched the seagulls interact with the people. It was a beautiful, mostly cloudless day with temperatures in the low-70s. We'd been concerned by the low-60 temperatures and drizzle back in Kiel, since we'd packed for conditions more like those of the American east coast at this time of year (that is, hot and humid). But if it was going to be sunny and warm "enough," maybe our teeshirts and shorts would also be "enough."
I caught the shuttle back to the ship on my own and ended up in "the Dome," a large bar at the front of the boat on the 12th floor. Nothing much happens in the dome in the daytime, so it seemed like a good place to work. But I was mostly distracted by intense interest in multilevel marketing. [REDACTED]
Later, in the early afternoon, I was trying unsuccessfully to catch a WiFi connection out in the middle of the boat on the 9th floor when I ran into Gretchen's parents. They'd all apparently made arrangements to dine tonight in The Waterfront, the largest non-buffet restaurant. It's located at the back of the boat on the 7th floor. Trying to get to that restaurant, we ended up in a staff-only hallway whose walls were covered with multiple flatscreens, all of them off. It was like some sort of black mirror art gallery, though these screens must serve some function for relating information to the staff.
After dinner, Gretchen and I watched the sunset from the small pool in the back of the boat and then wandered until we found the Hollywood Bowl Theatre, a large two-tier theater at the front of the boat on the 7th floor. We entered the higher tier on the 8th floor in the middle of some sort of musical performance. A number of very young looking vocalists in full vampire costume were on stage performing songs from a musical called Vampires (which neither of us had heard of). It featured lots of high crotch-revealing kicks from the female dancers. Though the singing wasn't especially good, it was obvious that a lot of practice and effort had gone into this production, and somehow I got drawn in, and we stayed for the performance of songs from several musicals (which included Cats, Les Miserables, and Beauty and the Beast. I'm known for not liking musicals much at all, so Gretchen was surprised that I wanted to linger there for any time at all. [REDACTED]

Stockpiled buoys at the Rügen Island cruise ship dock.

Windmills off the German coast (viewed from the south).

Hall of black mirrors in a staff-only hallway on the Vasco da Gama.

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