I'm posting this from an airplane that is currently 37966 feet above Port Stanley, Ontario. It's -78 Fahrenheit about 7 feet from where I'm sitting.
And I am currently on the internet, while my position is updated on Google Maps in front of me in almost real time.
There's just enough turbulence to be annoying, but not enough to be upsetting or frightening. It should stop in in about 15 minutes, if I am reading the map I have from Weather Underground in another tab correctly. A small child a few rows behind me is having a full-on tantrum. I feel really terrible for her parents, who are doing everything they can to calm her down. I am very grateful for noise-cancelling headphones.
Now we are over Detroit. Hi Detroit, sorry I keep missing Penguicon.
This is the first time I've flown with in-flight internet, and while I totally understand that a lot of people take this completely for granted, it's pretty awesome to me that I can do this. You see, I remember a time when our headsets were nothing more than plastic tubes with uncomfortable foam cylinders on the ends. We paid up to $4 to use them, and we watched the most banal and idiotic programming ever, because it was all we had. I remember airlines switching to headsets that were deliberately incompatible with our Walkman (remember those?) headsets, so they could continue to charge us outrageous fees to be "entertained" in-flight.
The captain just turned off the seatbelt sign, earlier than I expected. (In my defense, I was estimating my position.) My Weather Underground map says that the flight should be smooth until we get over the Colorado/Nebraska border. When I was a kid, turbulence freaked me out. When I was a teenager, and understood what caused it and how planes were designed to handle it, it stopped freaking me out, but I always wanted to know about how long it would last. It's was easier to deal with something like that when I knew it would eventually be over. It blows my mind that I can not only be online, but I can access a map to find out that information for myself.
Behind the Google Map, I was listening - live - to The Rachel Maddow Show until it ended. now I'm watching Vanguard (probably the greatest investigative journalism show on TV today) on Current TV. Anne was watching a rerun of The Big Bang Theory next to me, and now she's channel surfing.
We're over Lansing, Michigan, right now. Someone with math skills may be able to figure out how fast I'm writing this.
I know it's not a big deal to a lot of people, but the fact that we can do this brings me as much joy and excitement as being able to carry a mobile version of the Internet in my pocket. I was so excited, the very first thing I did once I got connected was tell Twitter, "I don't know what's more amazing to me: that I can say, "hey, I'm online from the airplane," or that I can say it to 1.6M people at once."
All of this is prelude to something I really wanted to post about, which is in itself a prelude to what I imagine will be a fairly lengthy post about PAX...
Last night, I joined Scott Kurtz, his awesome former intern Mary, and Kris Straub in the lobby bar for a quick Guinness. We didn't get to see each other very much during PAX (I almost reflexively wrote that #PAX) so it was our only chance to catch up since we last saw each other.
The lobby was filled with gamers, playing all sorts of games: Magic, Dominion, Settlers, a euro board game I didn't get close enough to positively identify, but could recognize from the scoring track.
After I'd finished my Guinness (about 5 rings, I guess, for those of you who know what that means; it was the end of the con, after all) a guy who I figured was in his early thirties stopped me on my way back up to my room. He pointed to the guy next to him, who had some card games in his hands, including Zombie Fluxx and We Didn't Playtest This at All.
"Would you like to play with us?" He asked.
I told him I'd love to, but I was on my way upstairs to go to bed, because I'd had a really long day, and I was pretty close to dead on my feet.
He told me that he understood. Then, I saw this look in his eye that told me he wanted to say something more, so I waited a second, and he continued. I'm going to recall the things he said as best as I can:
"I've played games my whole life, but this is the first con I've been to," he said.
"That's awesome," I said. "You picked a great place to start, but I should warn you that you've been ruined for all future cons that aren't PAX."
He grinned and said, "I really wanted to play games with people, but I'm here by myself. I wouldn't have had the courage to find people to play with if I hadn't heard your keynote where you talked about playing games together. So I just came down here and found some people who were playing, and joined them."
I felt myself starting to tear up. This had been a theme throughout the weekend, because I lost count of the number of people who told me something I said in my keynote inspired or validated them in some way. Shit, I'm tearing up now just thinking about it (while I'm over Lilly Lake, Wisconsin, listening to South Park behind the map).
"So I started playing with them, and that guy over there," he pointed to a guy sitting on the other side of a nearby table, "has a weekly game night that he invited me to. I'm going to start playing with him.
"I just wanted to say thank you, because if I hadn't heard your keynote, I wouldn't have come down here to play games, and I wouldn't have met these guys. This is something I've wanted my whole life."
Something was seriously getting into both of my eyes. I would have hugged him, but I was doing my best to leave a PAX without getting sick, so I gave him the Iron Guard Salute and told him how much it meant to me that he took the time to share his story.
See, I try to speak as eloquently as I can about why I believe games and gaming are meaningful and important, and why PAX is awesome ... but it's never going to be as meaningful or as good an example as meeting someone who exemplifies those words.
I'll have much more to say about PAX when I get home and have time to reflect on the weekend, but now I'm thinking about watching something on-demand, just on principle ... or maybe I'll build an amazing downtempo playlist from the giant MP3 library, and listen to it while I play my DS.
Whatever I do, I'll be doing it from the future, where I live, because I am one of the luckiest people in the world ... but I'm waiting until South Park is over, because this one (about Catcher in the Rye) is surprisingly funny.
(For those of you who are keeping score at home and need closure, I'm now over West Liberty, Iowa.)