Grey Frequency’s ShmooCon Diary 2007

Grey Frequencyby Grey Frequency
March 28, 2007

RenderMan and I hitched a ride with Thorn to DC, which was rather convenient since we were all rooming together. We were not very far from our destination when we took a minor detour to visit the NSA Cryptology museum.

In the museum I felt rather overwhelmed. The only museum experience I have had dealt more with art. When Render and Thorn went off in one direction, I played with a display that had a game that encouraged the player to match languages. Through this simple game I discovered I was learning more than I intended to and I was having a lot of fun. However we did not visit very long before it was time to be on our way.

Arriving the day before a Con starts is always a nice thing. One can be relaxed and rest before all the amusing madness begins. It was nice to bump into people and just hang about. I had Leia with me and she took over a couch chair in the hotel room. She was uncharacteristically calm during the Con and did not attack anyone, not even her usual victims. When I went to claim a drawer I discovered a pretty silver bra and dainty white panties. I quickly closed the drawer and Render investigated. Throughout the weekend there was much debate over what to do with these undergarments. I used my Sonic Screwdriver and nothing extra showed up under the UV light.

On Day One of ShmooCon, I waited on a line, Render 0wned a vendor and then we registered. Once I was registered I was looking through the program that was set up to look like a nifty comic. Within the program was a section called Shmoo-ganography. It displayed the first clue that would lead to others. During talks I used my little notebook to see if A=N and shifted the alphabet back and forth. LosT had suggested using two pieces of paper with the alphabet written so I could slide the paper rather than write it over and over. This proved useful in my attempts, however it did not unravel this clue. I was told this method was called “Caesar Cipher” (It would not be until later that I learned that Caesar Cipher refers to being off by three letters) Render then emailed my Mother. She has this genius knack for “crypto quotes” that she sees in the newspaper. She had worked on the clue and found she could not solve it. I believed that to be enough proof that it was not like her usual “crypto quotes.” However, I thought it was awesome that she tried so hard (Thanks Mom!). While staring at the clue I tried to find “Shmoo” in there, and although there were some double letters, nothing I tried worked. The clue began with XYXY, so I thought that perhaps it referred to two men. C4bl3Fl4m3 also had that thought and shared it with me when we bumped into each other. DataWorm had recommended to Render and I a program that had encryption and decryption capabilities.

Time went by and more and more people worked on the Shmoo-ganography. Some tried methods that were over my head. Even when it was explained to me, I could not understand. I saw very clever people stumped by this clue and as the evening went on, I felt less bummed about being stumped. Instead I continued to obsess on the clue. People that hung out in the lobby area shared their ideas and politely listened to my ideas as I displayed my attempts, scribbled ideas and doodles in my notebook. There was a “5” at the end of the clue. So most of us tried to shift letters by five, to pull every fifth letter and try to unscramble the groups this created. I heard quite often that “There are not enough vowels” and it became discouraging that nothing was cracking the clue. I wrote out the alphabet and counted each time letters showed up. I was thinking like I was on Wheel of Fortune and maybe the letters would tell me where to use RSTLN E. Mouse later told me that this is called “Frequency Analysis.” (When she told me that, it made me feel like maybe I knew more than I thought I did.)

I sat toward the front during the talks from 4PM to 6:30PM. I really enjoyed how the first day had talked in a 30-minute format, save for the keynote that had a complete hour. I only missed one talk due to body craving nourishment. Johnny Long’s No Tech Hacking fascinated me. I was amused by how he saw the world and it taught me a new angle of observation. I find that some speakers work from a script and cannot always obtain full access to their minds when in a casual social situation. I had wondered if Johnny Long scripted himself however when I ended up speaking with him later in the weekend, I found him to be just as clever off stage as he was on. Deviant Ollam headed a panel entitled: Boomstick-Fu: The Fundamentals of Physical Security at its Most Basic Level. Although I personally do not like guns and tend to avoid being around them I do appreciate that his panel taught some basics. I wish they had more time to speak, not just because one of my roomies for the weekend was on the panel (Thorn,) but because I think it would have been useful to hear them discuss people that do not believe they can kill a person when defending him or herself. What sort of physchological impact could affect such an individual should they choose to own a gun? Etc. Keynote Avi Rubin was too fantastic for words. When footage is up, I recommend that people check it out.

Later after the Keynote and a bit of running around I ended up in the lobby. There was a clever and kind man; sadly I do not recall his name. He sat beside me and worked on looking at the clue and coming with words from the sounds the letters might make. For example he would look at “MT” and jot down “Empty.” I loved this new angle and dove right in. Other than thinking XYXY might be two men I had not heard anyone think of the letters being phonic. We did this for quite a while before our minds seemed to burn out. Each time I thought of another possibility I would tell him and he did the same for me. It did not crack the clue, but it was a lot of fun. At one point I heard Eric say “Occam’s Razor” in regard to the last two sets of letters. I asked RenderMan what that could be and he explained that it was something along the line of: The simplest of explanation is most often the truth. It turned out that I was not any closer to cracking the clue, but I was learning a lot.

My obsession with the clue was continuous, but slowed down as I started to drink (vanilla vodka mixed with Sprite) while in the lobby. Then, I took a bit of a break from the clue and alcohol to attend a party. OctalPuss had told Mouse. Then Mouse mentioned it to me and Render was already standing up. At the Toorcon party I ended up sitting about on the couch with Lady Merlin and Mouse. Render was chatting it up with SkyDog and some other cheerful people. When I had to use the bathroom I noticed the bathtub was full of booze and soda. I was very amused when I noticed the tub was full of ice and drinks while the used soap was still on the ledge. The bathroom window was open and there was a very small balcony there. I immediately went to Mouse and told her I believed it was “Mouse sized.” She tested this theory and it proved correct. Mouse had been careful while stepping out the window and did not linger out of doors for long. She appeared to be acting in cautious manner and I think it was a safe and smart choice to step back inside. However, I must confess seeing Mouse with a huge grin hanging out of a window was very amusing. At some point during the party, Render ended up with a woman’s shoe. I believe it was found under the couch and he thought it would be funny to add it to the draw in our room. There was much discussion about this imaginary hooker that was leaving various parts of her wardrobe in everyone’s room. Some time later Render and I left the very pleasant party when we realized how late it was and knew we had to at least squeeze in a nap before the next day.

On Day Two of ShmooCon, I only recall seeing one talk. I had wanted to see a few more but there did not seem to be enough hours in the day to do as I wished. I slept in a little bit and then kept an eye on the clock to make sure I was at Ryan Clarke’s “Extend your Code into the Real World.” I recognized Ryan as LosT and loved the Mystery Box Challenge he had run at this past DefCon. He was very kind and trying to help out with the Shmoo-ganography and overall I just think he is a cool guy, so I was determined to see his talk. I thought that it was going to be very difficult to follow his talk. However, his slides were very easy to understand and he had visuals that pulled in other things to help you understand. For example: He was talking about servos and had an image of Tom Servo to the side of the slide. Seeing Tom Servo, which I recognized, helps me to recall even now that he was talking about a servo. Also he had two people in the audience that never worked with a servo be walked through a simple alteration of the piece. In the end we discovered it was a small step toward working on a bot. I was very impressed that Ryan Clarke took a subject that others make excuses to avoid and made it easy to understand. I found myself motivated to jot down a few things from his talk to look up and learn more about. During the talk was a mini contest. He had set things up so people could connect to a page and turn a red laser on and off. (I love lights and shiny things.) Then there was a link to follow if you wanted to hack. The point was to guess the user name and password. If you paid attention to the talk while working on this mini contest you would see clues now and again in the bottom corner of some slides. There was a comic image of a Shmoo, an Ace with a second card face down and other such clues. Although I tried things like Shmoo, blackjack, ace and other variations… it took some time to think of Shmoo21. I was using RenderMan’s laptop because part of the motivation to hack this username and password was that a blue light would turn on. As I was in the front row practically on top of the light, I wanted to see the pretty light go off. Yep, it just takes a light to motivate me. In the end I was the first to get the username and password (both shmoo21) and with a small delay the blue light was soon on. LosT later in his talk walked everyone through the user name and password. Best of all is that he explained how it all worked. I learned more than just what a servo looked like. It was a fantastic talk.

Through out the day I doodled a bit more with Shmoo-ganography. I looked at the XYXY part and tried to line things up as coordinates. The day before it seemed that everyone was helping each other out and now this day everyone just kept asking if anyone got it yet. It had already passed frustrating, but I continued to throw every idea I had at those letters that were melting my thoughts. Nothing seemed to work. When I realized that so many people were giving up, I thought it was sad. The day before was exciting with everyone chatting it up and trying to crack the clue. Render and I kept giving Heidi and Bruce updates of how people were asking about it and no one was getting any closer. We were told there might be a typo with the number at the end of the letters. It was soon after that a clue to help with the clue was told at the different talks. It turns out it was encrypted in “Fairplay.” I had never heard of this so I used Render’s laptop to check out and found a description on the Wikipedia. All that I absorbed was that when there is a double and X is placed. So the word COOKIE would be COXKIE, or so I thought. It would not be until later that I learned it would be COXOKIE. The program that DataWorm suggested helped us play with the Fairplay. (Thanks DataWorm!) I felt like there was hope again and once Render had the program I swiped his laptop and tried anything from ShmooGroup to Moose. I kept a list of words I tried and crossed them out as nonsense just stared back at me. In time Render took back his laptop and slipped into a talk.

Having some time to myself, I checked out the Lock Pick Village. There I saw Mouse explaining to a group of people that were gathered around how a lock works. They hung on her every word as she explained how to use a lock pick. Her charisma just flowed over the group and I smiled just watching her do her thing. Once she noticed I was near, I drew closer and was soon given a lock to play with. Although I am not good at lock picking, I find the activity soothing in a mindless way. I made the acquaintance of a few people standing nearby and found their company very pleasant. Johnny Long came by and checked things out. He was less than three paces from me, and I took the opportunity to give him my positive review of his talk. His method of observation as displayed in his talk was very interesting, yet I found that although we had seen things differently it was just as easy to reach the same conclusions. He had noticed a type of sunglasses someone was wearing and I noticed their posture. By comparing notes I believe we both learned how to see more when observing our surroundings. It was fun speaking with Johnny Long, however the entire time I was attempting to open a lock and it would not bend to my will.

When standing around working on a lock, I find that most people (this includes me) are like children that received a treasure map. Following the steps toward the X they hope to find the answer to some mystery. When a lock opens up and the unconscious smile appears on their faces I know the treasure has been found and the mystery solved. I find that each time I get a lock to open, I feel this overwhelming urge to jump up and down while applauding. However I restrain myself and simply grin like the Cheshire cat. When I asked Mouse if she had ever done a talk, she said no. When I pressed on, she explained that she believes Deviant does a fantastic job covering talks on the subject. On this I feel I must agree, however should the two of them ever stand on a stage together to talk about locks and lockpicking, I believe it would be a great success. Soon I handed over the toys lent to me and I meandered away.

The Hacker Arcade was just a hop, skip, and half a jump away from the Lock Pick Village. There was Duck Hunt on a huge projection. C4bl3Fl4m3 attempted to teach me how to use the Wii controller to turn the crosshairs and to shoot. My body did not seem to want to do anything I wished it to and I soon gave up. I would like to try the Wii when I am not as tired and when my limbs are shaking less. However C4bl3Fl4m3’s patience and tutelage was greatly appreciated. There was a Galaga and a variety of other games. Then I saw it, the game called Simon. I tried a few quarters and discovered I was very bad at this game. Yet, I thought it was a lot of fun. The lights were pretty in a simplistic way and I loved hearing the notes as the game created a random pattern for me to duplicate. I found when I counted each movement I improved. I believe my worst was 4 and my best was 13. There is a slight possibility I reached 14 but nothing past that to be sure. I soon ran out of quarters and this conveniently corresponded to when RenderMan was getting out of the talk.

Render checked out Michael Schearer’s “The Church of WiFi presents: A Hacker in Iraq.” The room was overly packed (which is why I did not attend) and it took sometime for Render to follow the current of people toward where I was standing. I was given a very positive review and know I will be checking out the footage when it is available. The two of us meandered about for a while, as the traffic leaving Michael Schearer’s talk was massive. However Render wanted to speak with Michael and a table was soon claimed. I explained that I made friends with the game Simon and the EFF soon received donations of quarters from those near me. Every quarter went into Simon. Some people gave me pennies, nickels and dimes. At the end of the weekend I went to the registration desk and told them of this spare change. They had a bag set aside and I handed it all over including a dollar I never got the chance to convert to quarters.

Not too far away I caught a glimpse of what looked like LosT displaying contact juggling ability. I excused myself from the table even though by this time there was a small crowd at the table. I have a deep adoration for jugglers and felt compelled to get a closer look. When I drew near I discovered that OctalPuss was behind a pillar and displaying her abilities as well. I was lent a ball to try to learn with. Both LosT and Octal were very patient and gave me a few beginner exercises to learn how to get comfortable with the ball. I had so much fun I wanted to hug them both for helping me out. I have attempted contact juggling before at a Ren Faire but was not given detailed instruction until standing with Octal and LosT. Octal is relatively new to contact juggling in comparison to LosT. She understood my difficulties and gave me interesting ways to look at the task to help me improve. While watching LosT I realized his skill is where I aspire to be. I do not know if it would be possible to be as good at it as him, but that will not stop me from trying. Before walking away Octal had explained she had extra drinks and had shared one with me. Through out the weekend she offered more than once and as long as a clean cup could be found I had a drink with her. (Thanks Octal!)

When I returned to the table Render had to run off for a bit. I watched the things all around the table and took out my notebook. Although I still was not getting far with the Shmoo-ganography, I started to write out more ideas for passwords. I figured this was the first clue and that the password would not be so difficult that it would prevent it from being guessed. When Render returned we soon had to move. Render was scheduled in the Hack or Halo room for 6:30 on the Hack side and C4bl3Fl4m3 was scheduled on the Halo side for 7:10. We had enough time to split a meal and throw Render at the table.

In the Hack or Halo room, I was watching people play Halo while speaking with C4bl3Fl4m3 and Lou. Lou was this fantastic person I kept bumping into. She knows a lot about a lot, but it was her first Con. Anything she did not know she openly confessed and was willing to learn. That just made her very cool in my book. Lou and I watched as C4bl3Fl4m3 worked on her settings for Halo. Then we just chatting a bit as Lou talked of how she signed up for the Hack side of the room. She was scheduled to go up after Render and I assured her that we’d ask him for tips. We were there chatting long enough to see C4bl3Fl4m3 play. She had said she is not good at Halo and just wanted to get one kill. So we cheered her on and she succeeded in getting that one kill. She was not the lowest on the board that round, as someone else did not get a single kill. (Congrats C4bl3Fl4m3!)

I was soon summoned away as Render was on the Hack side and needed me. One of the riddles encouraged you to use the script from a movie. As the movie was WarGames and Rob T Firefly likes to recite such movies with me all the time, I proved useful. Once I learned that on the Hack side, the person competing was the only one to have a keyboard, but they could have countless people whispering in their ears I was very amused. I sat with Render and went through the pages he had. I was pleased to not be completely pointless and asked Render if we could linger to whisper in Lou’s ear. He agreed and for the next round Lou was on her computer and she had me reciting a movie and Render helping her with the tech side. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot just by shoulder surfing. I really appreciate Lou letting us play with her. She is awesome. (Thanks Lou!)

Render and I parted ways with the lovely Lou and made our way to the lobby. There Thorn and others were working on the Shmoo-ganography. The first part of the clue was solved and many people were on the second part. I was sad that I did not get past the first part myself and from being around everyone I was hearing references to binary and Morse code. One man was looking at zeros and ones on a page and reciting to his neighbor two sounds and “dash.” I had mentioned that I never knew that Morse code could be spoken. I was entranced listening to this language I could not speak. I wish I could recall the names of these two people but all I can remember is that they were working with Thorn and how nice they always are to me. I could recognize their faces in a heartbeat, but I have a terrible memory for names. If I do not see a name written (business card or otherwise) it does not seem to stick. Render ended up getting a call from Mouse at this point and slipped me a napkin with a room number. She wanted me to meet up and since the night before the girls pulled me aside, I thought it was a repeat of the night before as Render was remaining behind. So I told the table it was time for me to hang out with the girls now and off I went.

I have poor direction sense. On my way to the room I had to ask someone that worked at the hotel to look at the room number I had with me and to give him directions. The woman seemed very amused at my expense but was not cruel about it. It was not long that I was knocking on the correct door. Mouse let me in and I saw there was LosT and Steve. I mentioned that I thought I was being called up to hang out with the girls and apologized to the guys for accidentally mislabeling their gender. I soon discovered that it was the three of them that had moved past the first clue and somehow along the way Mouse is calling me their leader while Steve and LosT confirmed that they believed me to be part of their group. I had not realized this contest had broken into groups, but was relieved that this trio had moved past the Morse code section and I had not accidentally cheated. Though I soon felt bad that I had said I was going to hang out with the girls, and it ended up being a team meeting to work on the Shmoo-ganography. I do not fancy falsehoods and the next day I confessed to Thorn that I truly believed I was meeting up with a few girls. It seemed to just roll off his shoulders. I do not think anyone thought anything of me running off and here I had felt terrible thinking I had lied.

Meanwhile back to the Shmoo-ganography. I believe it was LosT that encouraged the idea of viewing the source which is how they saw a hint that the zeros and ones were Morse code rather than binary. I had entered the room at a point when they are looking at a picture. I suggested zooming in a lot to look at the individual pixels. On the page we were looking at it seemed that we were looking at two of the same image but the second one looked broken. I did not have a laptop, but everyone else did. While I was leaning over Mouse ready to check out a zoomed in image, Steve and LosT were suddenly in a state of ready to jump up and down. The two of them had the idea to check in a Hex editor or something along that line. They each saw the hidden message within a fraction of a second from each other. Everyone was ready to run out the room when my suggestion to write down the answer, rather than speak it, was taken into consideration and followed.

It was a race against time. Everyone ran to the elevator with me trailing behind. Down the elevator and out the door of the hotel, with me ever trailing behind. We did not delay to stop by Render to tell him. We passed CK3K and TwinVega as we made our way away from the hotel. This crazy rush to leave was because all of the Staff and Shmoo seemed to be at a party in a bar less than ten blocks away. We had no idea who to run to, we just knew we needed someone official. There was a cab that seemed to be placed there on purpose as it waiting just for us. We all piled in. I believe the total (including the driver) made a tight fit of seven or eight people. I had to hold onto the door to make sure I did not fall onto the driver. The driver seemed a bit lost and dropped us off with a vague pointing finger while saying, “I think it is over there.” LosT paid the cab to cover all of us (Thanks LosT!) and there was more running and me trailing behind. We passed the place, backtracked and got our way in. Up a thin stairway into a crowded party and then Bruce was handed the small notebook with the solution written down. The party was too loud. I could not make out any words. The room had odd dark and changing light so I could not read any lips. The only one close enough that I could view was Mouse and she was able to communicate that we had gotten there first. We did not linger. Out into the refreshing night air we took a leisurely walk back toward the hotel, and Mouse called Render to let him know where I was.

Mouse, Steve and LosT had ordered pizza before looking at the hex editor thingy. They had believed the Shmoo-ganography would keep them busy for hours (as it was very difficult the day before). So we ended up back in Steve’s room again. There I was shown the hex editor thingy because in the excitement of before there was not enough time to explain in detail. I was then taught some basics in binary, how to count from zero to fifteen in hex, the definition of “radix” and a few other things. I felt like I was taking a side course and although it took a bit for it to sink in, I understood it in the end. I learned that people (having ten fingers) naturally count in base ten. However The Simpsons (having eight fingers) would count in base eight. If a person lost a finger (making the total nine fingers) they would count in base nine. There was a small discussion of what base would a pirate count in. If a pirate lost one hand they only have one hand (five fingers) however with a hook (five fingers, one hook) it was up to debate between base five or base six. It was concluded that the hook makes pirate radix equal base six. Render and Deviant ended up joining the room and the conversation. I grew tired and it was not long before we all split ways for the evening.

On day three of ShmooCon, my mind was burning out. So I stayed in the hotel room and cleaned up a bit. Render was scheduled to be on a panel at 11 AM and I was not going anywhere until then. I did not touch the drawer with the stranger’s undergarments and was later told that Render disposed of them. Leia was totally ready to leave, but had to hang out a bit longer as Render retrieved me, stuffed a croissant into my mouth (so I would not starve,) and we went to Al Potter, RenderMan and Russ Housley’s “Stander Bodies … What are These Guys Drinking?” Sadly I was pretty clueless through at least half of this and only started to fully comprehend the discussion when the audience was allowed to ask questions. Although I think Render is pretty nifty, this was my least favourite talk that I attended. I admire that they tried to reenact a conversation and do things off the top of their heads. However for the topic they were covering I think at least some parts would have been easier to follow and get involved in if it was half scripted. There was a fourth fellow on the panel, and he had difficultly getting his hands on the microphone. Considering how these talks are recorded and that some people in the back might not have heard clearly, I believe if there were four microphones on the stage it would have improved the panel by leaps and bounds, while eliminating the minor struggles there were for half the panel to be heard.

Immediately following the panel that Render was on was The Shmoo Group’s “0wn the Con.” I have gone to “0wn the Con” for each ShmooCon and love how it is explained where the money came from and where it is going. The work that the Shmoo Group does is fantastic. Learning where everything comes and goes makes it easy to feel a strong appreciation for the work that must go into such an event. (Thanks Shmoo!). Render was not present during this talk because he was retrieving our things and checking out of the hotel room. After “0wn the Con,” I slipped off to the Lock Pick Village that was almost completely cleaned up. I put the last of my quarters into Simon, and had fun doing so. Someone mentioned something to me while I was playing. It was something along the lines of being really into the game, like a trance or something. I cannot recall the exact wording. My concentration was broken and I replied, “I was.” My tone was much ruder than I had meant it to be, and I turned my head to see who had spoken and no one was there. Whoever you were, I am sorry for being a meanie.

Render swung by and some of our things were stashed with the Lock Pick Village pile and the rest was with the bell captain. Thorn let us know that he wished to leave earlier than planned. I think it took us about five minutes to come up with alternate plans and let Thorn know he would not have to worry about us. He then gave me a spare quarter and after double-checking that we would be okay, he was on his way out. I ran over to Simon and used that quarter to play the game. (Thanks Thorn!) Render and I listened to the One Laptop Per Child panel through the wall. I learned a lot and did not see the faces of my teachers. When that panel was over we moved to the other side of the wall to watch Closing Remarks.

“Closing Remarks” is always a bummer because it lets you know that the Con is over. I had more fun at ShmooCon 3 than most of the other Cons I have gone to. (Nothing yet has beaten my first HOPE.) With Shmoo-ganography my team (Mouse, Steve and LosT) … we called ourselves Pirate Radix (Thanks Steve for coming up with our team name.) We tied with another team and all of us received Shmoo cups and a free DVD of one of the recorded talks. I snagged “Extend your Code into the Real World.” I intend to get a servo and follow along with the instructions to alter it. I never played with a servo before and since those two guys were new to it and were able to follow, I figure I can too. Render was given a pretty iPod Shuffle for 0wning the vendor. I believe it was a contest to mess with the Con network and since no one admitted to doing so and Render flippantly called out that he 0wned a vendor, he won by default. We’d been sharing the iPod Shuffle I won last year at ShmooCon, and now we each have one.

After closing remarks I lost count of how many people shook my hand or hugged me. I am going to miss a lot of people and hope they show up at DefCon this summer. Some pictures were taken and a group of us walked to an Indian restaurant. I never ate Indian food but soon discovered that I loved the smell of everything. I had to order off the kid menu and when white rice was served I ate a lot of that as well. I believe I had an addiction to rice. It was not long before we were back at the hotel and everyone was packing Deviant’s car. Render and I shared Girl Scout cookies with everyone. GM1 was sick of seeing Girl Scout cookies and did not partake, but I enjoyed noshing on a few.

Deviant had to drop off GM1 and some things at Heidi and Bruce’s house. There was a small party going on. Render and I felt bad for crashing the party, but once Heidi and Bruce knew we had hitched a ride and had not meant to crash the party the notion was dismissed as nonsense. The two of them were very hospitable and Bruce gave us a tour of their beautiful home. (Thanks Heidi and Bruce!) By the door we came in there was a child playing a video game I never saw before. As soon as I expressed interest the clever child explained what each aspect of the game means and does. Then his brother joined in and soon I realized I was sitting down having an intelligent conversation with two very well behaved children. I thought the game was adorable and I was told it was Pikmin. I am not familiar with the console as the last consoles I played frequently with were the Coleco and original Nintendo. I only recognized one of the children I was speaking with, but it was not difficult to realize I was talking to Heidi and Bruce’s children. As I am an aunt of many and have seen children from very rowdy to practically silent, I recognized good behavior when I saw it. I made sure to complement these two brothers to their mother. The two kids were behaving better than some adults I saw during the weekend. They were kind, clever and very refreshing. Deviant, Render and I did not linger too long for there was a road calling to be driven upon.

Deviant drove Render and I to Philly. There we discovered a fancy expensive train had a long wait. Kindly, Deviant drove us further and gave us a bit of a tour of places he knew of. We got dropped off at the Hamilton train station in New Jersey, which proved to be much cheaper. (Thanks Deviant!!) This happens to be within five miles of Kymus’ house, so when we had a 45 minute wait, we called him. He was in NYC and quite amused to receive the call. It was a bummer to not be able to meet up. The train arrived and we had to step down onto the train tracks, cross on small boards, and climb up into the train. I never experienced this before and considered it to be quite the oddity. It was not long before we made it to Penn Station in NYC and was hopping onto the LIRR back toward my house. After a cab ride we were in my house around 2:45 AM and very tired.

It was a long and full weekend. It was full of adventure, learning and entertaining conversations. I very much look forward to returning next year.