Happy (belated) Fourth of July, everyone.

Contrary to most years, my Fourth of July weekend was far lower in impact and more relaxing this time around than it usually is. I've been running short on sleep for a while now and made up for all of that by sleeping as long as I possibly could, over thirty hours in total spread over three days (plus a two hour power doze (like a power nap, only I never actually fell asleep but instead elfnapped, the way I do when I'm on the road) on Saturday afternoon). I actually feel refreshed and clear-headed for the first time in a while. What else are vacations and long weekends for if not catching up on things that you need to get done?

I spent Thursday evening working on a couple of projects around the house, such as rebuilding a couple of test boxen in the lab with the latest versions of various operating systems (I don't yet have enough RAM in any of my lab machines, including Leandra, to run VMware) and reading release notes. I also did some debugging of some Live CDs that I habitually carry around. One day I'll actually sit down and figure out how to make one of my own.

On Friday morning, Lyssa, Laurelinde, and I hauled ourselves out of bed, got washed up, and pulled things together long enough so that we could go get a late breakfast at Amphora in northern Virginia before heading back to her place for the yearly Independence Day cookout. The diner was nearly full and busy, but the staff was on top of their game and saw to our orders briskly, which is the best that you can hope for from a local diner. After that we stopped off at Giant to pick up a couple of things for the cookout and returned home to load up the TARDIS. Before leaving, Lyssa made a batch of her famous baked beans, which we left on the stove to cool sufficiently so that it would be safe to travel with them. The Beltway was surprisingly empty for a national holiday, probably because everyone had already gotten to where they needed to be, so we got to her place in decent time for mid-afternoon. No accidents were seen out there, and we suffered no culinary mishaps during the transportation of our contribution to the cookout, which is just as well - baked beans make one hell of a mess in the back of a car if the cooking pot comes open for some reason. There were already a couple of people in attendance when we arrived: Jason showed up a good bit earlier than we did, and Nick already had the grill heating up in the back yard. I walked in, set down the groceries in the kitchen, and surrendered my keys. I was on vacation from that moment on.

I spent much of the afternoon sitting on the back porch watching vegetables first, and then various and sundry forms of dead critter cook on the grill. I nibbled a bit over the course of the afternoon while Lyssa and Laurelinde knitted in the dining room and other guests hung out in the living room, kitchen, and basement. At some point (probably around 1800 local time) I retired downstairs to talk RPGs and fight with Nick's computer to get it to read my iPod (I don't use iTunes, so I had a hell of a time figuring out why it took so long to come up). Laurelinde went to bed around 2300 EST5EDT, and Lyssa and I headed home shortly afterward to go to bed. We didn't go to see any fireworks because most of us just aren't interested in them. They don't do much for me, so I'm quite content to sit around and shoot the bull for a couple of hours. No one brought any fireworks, either, mostly because there wasn't anywhere safe to set them off nearby.

After waking up on Saturday morning, I spent a little time noodling around on the Net and checking my e-mail while Lyssa wrote in the office and worked on a knitting project. That evening was board game night, which is always a fun affair: Take nearly a dozen geeks, stir in three shelves worth of board and bookcase games, and allow to cook for eight hours. See what happens after the fact. We drove to the local Giant supermarket to pick up a few things for dinner and the day after and then cleaned up the apartment a bit to make room for festivities. Jarin was the first to arrive, and we ducked ouut briefly to go on a munchie run at Giant before everyone else arrived. Sarah and Jason arrived first, followed by Mika, Hasufin, and Cindy. The first game on the table was the bookcase version of Illuminati by Steve Jackson Games. The archetypal game of world domination through bizarre chains of not-quite-cause and surprising effect, the Bermuda Triangle, the UFOs, Bavaria, the Network, the Society of Assassins, and Discordia Herself faced off for control of the planet.

The game had a surprisingly low number of groups controlled by each player and little in the way of underhanded dealing, but lots of negotiation, blatant displays of power, and furious battles of tug of war over heavily contested conspiracies (vis a vis the Post Office, Big Media, and the IRS). Millions of dollars changed hands frequently and feints, counters, and schemes that made absolutely no sense (like Ma Bell controlling underground newspapers and Discordia controlling the pharmaceutical industry) flew. In the end, Discordia took the game by using Orbital Mind Control Lasers to turn Her fifth controlled group Weird, thus fulfilling the Discordian Society's secondary goal (control five Weird groups). We broke for a while and then shuffled together a couple of decks of cards from Z-Man Games' famous B-movie games, Bell-Bottomed Badasses on the Mean Streets of Funk and Kung-Fu Samurai on Giant Robot Island to play an oddball game of writing hilariously bad movie scripts. After five rounds of assembling strange casts of characters and pummeling each other's movie sets with monsters and rampaging police officers, Jarin ended the game and won by having the most points on the table. We played a few more single-deck games that night, like Abduction and Gother Than Thou (been a while since I mentioned that one), but it was getting late and we were all getting tired and gamed out. We went our separate ways around 0130 EST5EDT, and I crashed for the night.

The Fourth of July weekend wrapped up with a quiet breakfast of eggs and leftover cornmeal pancakes. Later in the afternoon, Lyssa and I went grocery shopping to pick up a few things that we'd need for the week (staples, really) from Trader Joe's (which doesn't seem immune to price hikes due to the cost of petrol these days) and then retired home to spend a quiet evening. Lyssa's making good time on her latest project, and I put in some time working on my new walking stick and catching up on my reading.

I wish that I had more to write about this weekend, but we kept it fairly low key (for us) so that we could rest up and enjoyselves, and not run ourselves ragged going here, there, and everywhere. I've got a couple of ideas for articles to work on that I'll probably flesh out and post later on this week, as I finish them.