It's me, Joseph "Maxnmona" "The Big Man" "Grand Slam Stud" Fink. You probably noticed that I didn't put up an article this Sunday. Some of you probably had your cell phone beep with your biweekly reminder that another one of my articles had been put up, then turned on your computer only to find that there was absolutely no reason to look at the internet that day after all.

I realize this, and I apologize, but I have a very good excuse. For the last ten days I have been in the beautiful country of Rome, which is somewhere near Russia, I think. Maybe eventually I will once again string together a bunch of my vacation pictures and pretend that it is an article, but for now I thought I'd make up for my previous conspicuous absence by providing a short diary of my visit so far. These are my thoughts on events as they unfolded, and as such I make no argument for their grace or insight, and only present them as they are.

Day 1

Arrived in Rome. It's really cool. The toilet in my apartment is different from the ones in America. I spend most of the day flushing it over and over just to watch it go, and soon I realize it is long since dark. How quickly time passes when one is traveling!

Day 2

Disaster! The plug of my laptop somehow does not fit into the electrical outlet. I am glum and spend most of the rest of the day tapping the prongs gently against the outlet in the hope that somehow God will intervene and allow me this blessing.

Day 3

I forgot that I packed an adapter for my my laptop's plug. Oops. I play Bejewled 2 Deluxe Edition for a few hours to celebrate. In the evening I go for a walk but am disappointed to discover that the local computer stores are lacking in their game selection.

Day 4

I decide that today is the day to dive deeply into the Italian experience. I install and begin to play Rome: Total War. I lean back into the chair and look out the window at the brick wall across the street as once again I am victorious. La Vida Dulce.

Day 5

Today my Xbox 360 finally arrives from America. The Italian postal system is disappointingly slow, and I think it has been opened up and used a little bit. Oh well, travel is all about dealing with new ways of doing common things.

Day 6

My Xbox 360 had been broken on transit! The barbarians! I carry it to the Coliseum and throw it at the line of tourists in protest. After some negotiation, I avoid arrest and only face a hefty fine.

Day 7

Italy has soured for me. What started out as a grand adventure is turning instead into a trial of the soul. I bring out my Nintendo DS and play some Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan to get my mind off the disappointment, but it is difficult to concentrate with the other apartment renters constantly talking in Italian, and I repeatedly lose.

Day 8

I do some sightseeing and discover that my $5 rubber flip-flops from Target are not compatible with Rome's cobblestone streets. Who the hell uses cobblestones for anything anymore? The Pantheon is ok.

Day 9

I visit St. Peter's Basilica wearing my "Yes, I am an Atheist" shirt but it gets less reaction than I had hoped. I hang around St. Peter's tomb for awhile anyway, so maybe I get in some people's vacation photos. That'll show 'em.

Day 10

I write this article and eat some pizza. Perhaps Italy wasn't as bad as I thought. Today I vow to make a new start and appreciate Italy anew. But first, I notice there is a flamewar on the forums that needs my attention. The secret to sane travel is a careful management of priorities.

– Joseph "Maxnmona" Fink

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