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KHAAAAAAN!

Posted on Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Dave!I just paid $4.00 for a bottle of Italian Spring Water at my hotel.

I wish I could say that when I close my eyes and drink it, the taste is evocative of Italy... but all I taste is wet. That's a darn shame.

So here I am in San Diego. It's a wonderful place that everybody should visit at least once in their life. If, for no other reason, to make a pilgrimage to the city of my birth. There isn't a temple here in honor of the occasion, but there really should be. Or maybe instead of a temple there could be a statue of me standing in Balboa Park. I dunno. There just needs to be someplace my worshippers can go to go pay their respects and place flowers to celebrate my greatness. And make a donation to the Dave Monument I'm planning to build in the land formerly occupied by Mt. Ranier National Park.

Hmmm... I don't know why it didn't occur to me before, but San Diego would be the perfect place to put my Daveland amusement park! I will convince the city to plow under the San Diego Zoo and put Daveland there instead! What a great location!

Boy, being back to the city of my birth really has me firing on all cylinders tonight.

And speaking of San Diego... there's a few people in town wanting to meet up for dinner on Friday night, if you're in the area and would like to come along, please send me an email ASAP so we can make plans. My email address is at the top of the sidebar on every page.

Kirk says Khaaaaaan

Unfortunately, I landed to learn of the terrible news that Ricardo Montalban had died.

I, of course, loved him as Mr. Roarke on the show Fantasy Island. Every kid growing up in the late 70's did, because he was the epitome of coolness. He'd walk around in those flawless white suits being all friendly and good-natured and "Welcome to Fantasy Island" and stuff. But then he'd occasionally show his darker side... proving that he could be a total badass as well. It's unthinkable to envision anybody else playing the character except Mr. Montalban (indeed, even the brilliant Malcolm McDowell couldn't manage it when there was a failed revival series twenty years later).

But, to me and so many others, Ricardo Montalban will forever be Khan...

Ricardo Montalban as Khan

The role of the maniacal villain in the second Star Trek film was not an easy one to play. Indeed, I'd say it was a thankless and impossible role to play. As written, the part was so badly over-the-top... almost to the point of being comical.

Until it was performed by Ricardo Montalban.

He played the character deadly-serious, and turned in a performance so riveting that it cemented Khan as one of the greatest movie villains of all time (indeed, even the brilliant Malcolm McDowell couldn't top it in a follow-up film, Star Trek: Generations). After watching Star Trek II, I fell in love with all things Trek again, and I really have Ricardo Montalban to thank for it. He will definitely be missed.

Even if you don't like Star Trek, you should absolutely check out Wrath of Khan. Montalban's performance is totally worth it. Oh, and don't forget his masterful performance in the first The Naked Gun movie as well!

Lastly, I urge you to read a fantastic blog entry about what it was like working with Mr. Montalban over at Mark Evanier's News From Me site. He was truly an amazing guy and a class-act.

P.S. All my best wishes to my personal hero, Steve Jobs, for a speedy and full recovery.

   

Gorgeous

Posted on Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Dave!I did not want to come here.

The last quarter of 2008 was a very hard travel period for me. I was stuck in airports and hotels more than I was home. I was dragged from one corner of the country to the other. I was worked to a state of exhaustion that doesn't go away anytime soon. Yes there were fun moments, but it is not much fun. I just wanted to stay home for a while.

But "home" has been a miserable place as of late. Freezing fog has made the days depressing and gray... the nights cold and bleak.

Turns out a few days in gorgeous San Diego may be just what I need.

After work, this was my day.

Drinking Jäger and Stella at a beautiful waterfront bar...

Stella and Jager

Enjoying flawless blue skies and the ocean air at Harbor Island...

San Diego Skyline

Looking for the Super Friends at the Hall of Justice...

Hall of Justice San Diego

Eating Pinkberry with fresh strawberries...

Cup of Pinkberry frozen yogurt with strawberries

In-between all that, there might have been a few more bars and some drinking.

= ahem =

Tomorrow will hopefully be more of the same.

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SeaWorld

Posted on Friday, January 16th, 2009

Dave!Today Hilly-Sue drove down from The O.C. to hang out with me in San Diego.

With nothing better to do until Suzy-Jane got off work, we decided to go to SeaWorld. I used to go quite regularly when I was flying down to San Diego to visit with family in the early 90's, but hadn't been back since. On the way up, she went through Ocean Beach so we could drive through the neighborhood I grew up in. I'd been through a few times before, but this time my dad had given me an address so I could scope out the right place. I was very young at the time I was living there, so I only really remember it from photos, but it's an interesting visit never-the-less.

Then it was time for SeaWorld...

Hillyshamuhat

Overall, SeaWorld kind of sucked. Hilly-Sue and I can have a blast anywhere, so we were able to entertain ourselves despite it all, but still... lame. Not at all worth $65, especially considering that two of the three rides there were closed (Journey to Atlantis, and Sky Tower), and the Sky-Buckets cost $3.00 extra.

The worst place in the park was "Sea Turtle Cove" which was a way-too-small tank where they had stuffed in way too many turtles. Those poor things who weren't sleeping were slapping the windows with their flippers trying to get out. It was about the saddest thing you can imagine, and kind of ruined the rest of the day for us.

But we tried our best to have fun and, if you can get over the fact that these animals really don't have enough space to roam like they should, there are some interesting things to see...

Seaworld

  • After spending entirely too much money for some mediocre food, we headed to the only real "ride" that was open... The Shipwreck Rapids. They warn you repeatedly that you're going to get soaked, but we decided it was worth it to have some fun, so off we went. But it wasn't much fun, it was just plain boring compared to Disney's Kali River Rapids or Grizzly River Rapids. All you get is drenched to the bone with no thrills or fun-time payoff. I spent the entire rest of the day walking in soaking-wet sneakers for nothing.
  • We decided to ride the sky buckets despite my fear of heights, and Hilly's fear of thin wires snapping and plunging us to our death. It was actually kind of nice, but paying $3 each after having already forked over $65 each for admission was lame.
  • We stood in line for the "helicopter moving theater thingy" at the Arctic Pavilion, but the line was NOT supervised, so an entire tour group jumped in line ahead of us. When we got up to the entrance, they told us we had to wait for the next group, even though we arrived well before those who went inside. Explaining this to the people running the place did nothing. Fuck you very much SeaWorld! We were going to be late for Shamu, so we had to bail on the helicopter thing all together. By this point, we gave up all hope of getting our money's worth out of the $65 we paid.
  • Instead we were off to see seals and manatees. Both are cool creatures, and you could even buy fish to feed the seals, but they just don't have enough room to roam and play, which is sad.
  • Ditto for the polar bears and penguins. I'm sure they don't know any better, but looking at a mass of penguins standing around looking bored as they're crammed in a giant refrigerator does not in any way resemble how they really live from the movie March of the Penguins.
  • Shamu was great, as always, but I hated... hated the stupid-ass theme of the attraction which was "SHAMU - BELIEVE!" They tried to shoe-horn in a kind of Disney-esque "magical dreams" type story to the show, but it failed miserably. IT'S JUST WHALES JUMPING AROUND, PEOPLE! GO WITH IT, BECAUSE NOTHING ELSE IS NEEDED!
  • The dolphin show was amazing to watch, and had some fun to it.
  • The only attraction that I can honestly say I loved was the Seal and Otter show: Clyde and Seamore's Risky Rescue... and this despite the fact that it had a frackin' MIME in it. Maybe it's because it was genuinely funny... but mostly because seals and otters are cute.

From there we went back to San Diego's Gaslamp District for dinner with SJ. Here we are showing her our Shamu "Believe" necklaces...

Dave and Hilly BELIEVE!

We ate at the most excellent "Nicky Rottens" where they have a great veggie burger on the menu...

Nicky Rottens Burger

Then it was Pinkberry for dessert, but SJ has all the pictures of us there, so maybe they'll end up online over at Pseudotherapy.

As we were walking back to the parking garage, we ran into a giant talking cupcake!

GIANT TALKING CUPCAKE!!!

She demanded us to go to Heavenly Cupcakes for even more dessert, and who were we to argue? They are indeed, heavenly, as you can see by the halos that come on each one...

Heavenly Cupcakes

The end. Thanks to Hilly-Sue and Suzy-Jane for a fantastic final day in So-Cal!

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Shopping

Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Dave!According to Google maps, I walked almost five miles today.

I don't get nearly enough exercise, so this is probably a good thing. Or would have been if I weren't breaking in a new pair of shoes. As it is now, I've got some nice blisters on my feet that should make travel ever so fun tomorrow!

Anyway... the bad news is that there's not really anything worth blogging about today. The worse news is that I'm waiting for a movie rental to download from iTunes, so I'm going to blog anyway!

Dave's Walking Map of Seattle

WARNING: This is an extremely uninteresting entry. Unless following a boring person through their boring day appeals to you, it might be best to just skip it...

• Glazer's Camera Supply. When I get to Germany I'll be needing to take some photographs for work, so I brought along my camera. Problem is, my battery charger stopped working for some reason. Calling around yesterday, I was unable to find an authentic Nikon replacement, but was told at Glazer's they had a cheap-o generic version for $8.95. After I got caught up on work this morning I walked the 1.2 miles to their store only to find their cheap-o version was actually $24.95. This sucked, because it was too late to do anything but pay $24.95 for a hunk of crap. It works though, so I guess that's something.

Denny Park Sign

• Johnny Rockets. They actually had veggies burgers in stock. I nearly died of shock.

• Macy's. When I was gathering my clothes for this trip, I noticed my favorite Cashmere sport jacket had a small tear in the sleeve's seam. Not wanting to make it worse, I decided to buy a new jacket when I got to Seattle. I hate clothes shopping with every fiber of my being, but managed to find a jacket I liked at Macy's. Alas, it was $350, which was more than I wanted to spend. The guy helping me then said "oh, there's a sale" and wandered off to find out what the cost was. Hoping that it would be under $200, I was dumbfounded when he said the price was $54. Apparently it was half-off since it was an older model, and then there was a massive discount on top of that. SCORE!

• Eddie Bauer. Encouraged by my fantastic luck, I went to Eddie Bauer to see if the shirts I like there might be on sale too. Turns out they were, which means nothing. Usually they don't have any styles I like in my custom "Tall" size, so I'm out of luck when it comes to getting anything on sale. But, miracles of miracles, they actually had five styles I liked... all in my size!! And because Eddie Bauer was having a similar "sale on sale priced merchandise" deal, I ended up getting five shirts for the price I usually pay for just one of them. SCORE!

Karma Donation Sign

• NikeTown. In a state of total euphoria that I managed to get $650 worth of quality clothes for a mind-boggling $114, I was freaking out at the thought of finding similar deals on other stuff I'd like to get. Such as a new pair of Nike hiking boots! But not only did NikeTown not have anything on sale, they also DON'T CARRY HIKING BOOTS ANYMORE! This completely killed my shopping high, so I decided to abandon my pursuit and haul my new clothes back to the hotel.

• The UPS Store. Last night I transferred as much data off my dying MacBook Pro as I could over to my new MacBook Pro. Since I'd eventually like to goof around with the busted-ass laptop to see if I can revive it as a spare, I decided to ship it back home. There's a UPS shop a couple blocks away, so I popped my old MacBook Pro into the new box, carefully wrapped it with a couple of my new shirts I didn't have room to pack, then added all the software I brought to install on my new machine. This bundle got packed into a duffled bag, which I then dropped off to be shipped. Where when they charged me TWELVE DOLLARS for a shipping box. TWELVE DOLLARS! These pack-and-ship places are a fracking RIP-OFF!! I mean, seriously... TWELVE DOLLARS for a cardboard box and some tape?!?

Obama as Lincoln Poster

• Zero Zero. Knowing that I wanted to go back to the crêpe place that Sizzle and I ate at last night, I remembered that the best place to get a haircut in Seattle, Zero Zero, was nearby. As usual, the guy who cut my hair did a fantastic job. And at a fraction of the cost it would have been to stop at Gene Juarez where I used to go to get a decent haircut. SCORE!

• 611 Supreme. The Gruyere crêpe I had yesterday at 611 Supreme was so frickin' amazing that I wanted another for dinner tonight. It didn't disappoint. I only wish I would have had room for the Banana-Nutella dessert crêpe that Sizzle recommended. Next time.

My Crepe at 611 Supreme

• Bartell Drug. Back down to Westlake Center for some last-minute stuff to re-stock my travel needs: toiletries, allergy pills, headphones, snacks, batteries, Botan Ame Rice Candy... Bartell is one of those stores I love, because they always have exactly what I need.

And now here I am after a long day and a lot of walking.

But not nearly as long as tomorrow is going to be...

I apologize in advance.

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Existed

Posted on Friday, January 30th, 2009

Dave!I am typing this at 9:00am from Seattle, Washington, USA. I will be leaving for the airport in an hour.

I am typing this at 11:00am from Cologne, Germany. 26 hours later.

To me, this day didn't exist, and I never really know what to do about that. I blog every day, so something has to go here... but what? How do you write about something that didn't exist? Where did that day go?

Maybe it got lost... like my luggage.

   

Day One: Cologne

Posted on Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Dave!To be completely honest, I did not want to take this trip. I am so tired of traveling as to be near-catatonic, and it would be nice to just like to stay home for a while. But it's important for my work that I be here, so here I am.

Though, now that I'm back in Cologne, I realize that it's a city I feel completely comfortable in. So much so that it's almost like being home. I'm staying at my regular hotel in my regular neighborhood. I know where everything is. I know how everything works. I have friends in the area. I understand German accented English fairly well, and speak just enough of the language (albeit poorly) to get by. The only difference between here and my actual home is the clowns.

Yes, clowns.

For reasons that escape me, Germans love clowns (and David Hasselhoff, but that's another story... possibly related). And since the Köln Karnival is coming up, they're everywhere. You'll be walking around a corner and BLAM!!! There's one of those scary-ass freaky bastards staring at you from a shop window poster...

Scary Ass Clown Bastard

GAH!!!

It's things like this that traumatize my already-fragile mind and will one day send me over the bend. I'll see a scary clown poster one minute, then be running down the street naked screaming "DIE BOZO, DIIIIIIIIIEEE!!!" the next.

Sadly, unlike last year's drunken blog entry, I am too early for Karnival this time. I'm assuming this means there will be no Giant Flaming Wheel of Meat or attacks by transgender viking warriors to blog about.

That's a bummer, but I really have no cause to complain. My flight was awesome despite it being nine hours long. I didn't have to sit by any dumbasses or screaming kids. The movies I rented for my iPhone were all fantastic. My hotel had a room ready for me even though I arrived four hours before check-in. It doesn't get much better than this.

The only bad bit of news was that my luggage didn't show up... assumably having missed my connecting flight in Amsterdam.

But after having a wonderful dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe with some fellow Hard Rock fans, I opened the door to my hotel room and there it was!

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave finds his suitcase!

It's just like magic, and now I'm the happiest boy in the whole world!

Or at least in Cologne.

Given the clown density in this place, that's saying a lot.

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Day Three: Cologne

Posted on Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Dave!This entry will be trimmed down quite a bit from what I was originally planning. Partly because I have something I wrote earlier that I want to post (in an extended entry), partly because I was tied up with a lot more work than usual, but mostly because it's 1:30am and I have to get up early tomorrow for work.

So here I am in Cologne, home of the world's largest candy and biscuit (cookie) show. Though, since exhibitors are down 25% and attendees are down 30%, that's not quite as true as it once was. Hopefully the show will rebound as the economy improves (hah! fingers crossed), because it would be a shame to see it die off like so many trade shows have done in recent years.

If you're interested, here are my notes from 2005 and here are my notes from 2007 and here's my notes from 2008, but now it's 2009, and here are some of the cool things I saw...

Monkey Chocolates

MONKEYS! I usually find quite a few monkey-based candies at the show, but this year the only new one I found was a display model for some kind of chocolate association. It's a pretty good-looking monkey compared to the scarier monkeys I've seen in past years, and I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing?

Sexy Christmas Advent Calendar

STRIPPERS! Here's a way to FINALLY celebrate the TRUE meaning of Christmas... strippers! They could have just had babes standing around in sexy Santa costumes on this advent calendar, but they went the extra mile and included a stripper pole. Genius. And oh so symbolic... I mean, is that supposed to be the North Pole?

Flashing Pirate Pop Candies

PIRATES! And now for something totally fantastic... FLASHING PIRATE POPS!! As if having a pirate-themed candy pop wasn't already cool enough, these sweet tributes to awesomeness also have flashing lights in them! I so totally want to buy a set. I couldn't find out where to locate a retailer, so if anybody ever finds them for sale, PLEASE let me know so I can get them!

Tennis Balls Candies

BALLS! There are plenty of candies here that are simply called "BALLS!" but there's only one I've found that lives up to the name, and that's these little tennis balls candies. They're gum with a lemon liquid center of some kind. These are really well done, and the container they come in makes them look almost real... albeit at a much smaller scale.

Pooh Mini Plush

POOH! Most of the time, the tiny plush giveaway toys that they put in candy boxes are pretty heinous. So imagine my surprise when I saw a tiny Winnie The Pooh plush that actually looked good! Sweet.

Emperor Palpatine and R2D2 PEZ

Yoda and Chewbacca PEZ

PEZ!!! Saving the best for last, I was amazed at the detailing that they managed to get in these super-awesome Star Wars PEZ dispensers. Frickin' sweet! PEZ dispensers not only perform the necessary and critical function of storing and dispensing PEZ candies, but they are total works of art as well. Equally amazing were the new toys made for the upcoming Monsters Vs. Aliens film Dreamworks is releasing...

Monsters Vs. Aliens PEZ

PEZ may very well be the planet's most perfect creation. CANDY AND A TOY... TOGETHER!!! Genius.

Panda Attack!

PANDA!!! And what would the ISM show be without a bear attack? Last year I was almost killed when two ferocious bears were let loose to roam the show, this year I was very nearly mauled by a giant panda. Taken by surprise, I screamed "GAH! PANDA ATTACK!!! and threw a woman from a nearby booth in its path so I could escape with my life. Anybody who envies my traveling to exotic locations around the world and attending awesome candy shows would do well to remember this. My job isn't all fun-and-games... sometimes it's the most dangerous job on earth. I consider myself very lucky to have survived this long.

After I had survived another day and finished up with work, I walked to the train station so I could cross back over the river to "home." For the most part, I find Deutsch Bahn (German trains) to be timely, efficient, economical, relatively clean, and a good way to travel. So imagine my shock when I saw that some asshole had totally painted over my ride with silver paint! One of the best things about traveling by train is being able to look out the windows, but now that small pleasure would be taken from me...

Painted Train

WTF?!? If you're going to deface a train with graffiti, at least be respectful of the people who have to ride in it! And it's not even very interesting artwork! Plain silver? What kind of statement is that? Sad.

After dropping my work crap off at my hotel, it was time to head to my favorite place for eats in Cologne... POMMES DE LUXE!!!

Pommes de Luxe Sign

They take thick-cut potatoes, fry them up until they're golden brown, then drench them in awesome toppings. Most people go for gravy, but I loves me the mayonnaise...

Mayo Drenched Potatoes

A delicious way to end my day before having to catch up with the work that's just waking up back in the real world.

And speaking of the real world...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
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Day Four: Cologne

Posted on Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Dave!Today was my busiest day at work, which was actually kind of nice because it blew by so quickly. Before I knew it, I was packing up my stuff and heading back "home" across the Rhine River. Tomorrow promises to be a fairly light day, so I'm hoping to be able to wander around the city a bit before it gets dark. I've been here many times, but never seem to get tired of exploring Cologne.

In what I can only describe as a life-defining moment, I got to meet OREO COOKIE MAN this morning!! Unlike so many celebrities you encounter, he is very cool in person, and was passing out various OREO products, which made him even more delicious. I wanted very much to give him a hug, but I was afraid he would break in half and spill his delicious cream filling everywhere...

Oreo Cookie Man!

Speaking of delicious, my daily pilgrimage to the Merzenich bakery was rewarded with the biggest Spritzringe donut I've ever seen. It was almost twice as tall as usual, which led me to dub it ÜBER-SPRITZRINGE!!! Just look at my precious...

Uber Spritzringe

I didn't know if I should eat it or tag it and release it back into the wild.

Screw Lord of The Rings, THIS is the one ring to rule them all...

Dave's Uber Spritzringe

   

In even more exciting news, I picked up another photo for my Fahrt Collection. This one is a word I don't remember seeing before...

Zugdurchfahrt

In German, they run all their words together to make really long words. But my vocabulary is mostly forgotten, so it's kind of hard for me to break it down and translate it to mean anything. I know Zug is Train and Fahrt is Journey. I'm pretty sure that Durch is Through... as in "durch die nacht" meaning "through the night." That would make this "Train Journey Through!" which doesn't make much sense. I'm guessing it's more likely meaning "next train doesn't stop" (this train passes through). Or perhaps it's like a catch-phrase meaning "You should travel by train!" (journey through trains).

Good thing my life doesn't depend on knowing what that sign means.

OR DOES IT?

Good thing my ride was on the opposite track.

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Day Five: Cologne

Posted on Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Dave!Today I knew that my work would be finished around 1:00, so I made a promise to myself that I'd get out into the city and see something new instead of whine about how tired I am and watch television in my hotel room. Cologne has a wealth of things to see and do, and I've barely scratched the surface the past eight times I've been here. Besides, the weather forecast called for sunny skies, so why not take advantage of it?

Except the weather forecast totally lied. It was hazy, cold, overcast, snowing, then raining. This made me all "meh" about trudging out into the city, so I decided to just grab a bite to eat and watch television like I always do on my last day. But then I got mad at myself for once again blowing an opportunity to do something different, and forced myself to go out. There's a former Gestapo Prison and Processing Station that's been turned into a museum (NS Dokumentationszentrum), and I've never gotten around to visiting it. I usually put it off because I was told it had very little English, and you really need to read German to get the most out of the extensive Nazi documentation that's on display. Oh well, it's something to do. When I approached the site, I was kind of disappointed. For a Gestapo prison, it's a fairly unassuming building...

NS DOK Museum

The cost to get in is 3.60€ and, for another 2.00€, you get an audio digiplayer which will explain parts of the displays in English.

It gets scary right away as you descend into the basement where the tiny Gestapo prison cells are at. The audio guide explained that the cells were only supposed to hold one or two people, but held up to ten times that amount as the war progressed. How 30 people managed to exist in a mere closet is beyond one's ability to fathom...

Gestapo Prison Cells

Inside the cells the walls had been covered with writing by the prisoners, which they put there with pencils, sticks, lipstick, and even fingernails. Excerpts have been photographed and put on display, which is both heartbreaking and fascinating. Sometimes the prisoners would record their name and the date they were captured. They'd then add a new date each day, until the dates eventually stopped... meaning they had been transfered or, more likely, killed...

Gestapo Prison Cell

Once you head up to the first floor, the museum begins. The entire collection is a giant timeline which charts Germany's path into the Nazi regime and World War II...

Museum Timeline

Museum Displays

That alone would make for an engrossing experience, but where the museum steps it up to the next level is how it puts a face on the victims. As the Nazis rose to power, society started to change. First "undesirables" were singled out. This included anybody not fitting the Nazi ideal of human perfection including the mentally deficient, prostitutes, homosexuals, so-called "lesser races," Jews, and anybody else who didn't measure up to their lofty standards. At first it was discrimination. Then it was segregation. Then it was loss of rights. Then it was detainment. Then it was imprisonment. Then it was extermination. It was a slippery slope that was systematically escalated with a growing frenzy of propaganda.

One of the examples they provided was a man who was accused of being gay. Apparently Cologne had a thriving gay underground back then, and suspected homosexuals were closely monitored. Since this man was married, there's no way of knowing if he were really gay, or somebody just accused him of being gay, but his entire life after being tagged is laid out in the documents which ultimately spelled his fate...

Documentation Wall

Here is where it would be really helpful to read German, but the audio guide explained that the man in question was detained three times before finally being send off to a concentration camp where he died...

Museum Documentation

The next room is dedicated to Gypsies, who were ruthlessly persecuted by the Nazis. Family members are displayed on panels along with the documentation that was collected during their detainment...

Gypsy Boards

All the documents would seem like an unreal abstraction if not for the faces attached to them. Some of the faces are hard to forget, like this little boy, whose entire family was rounded up and put into a camp. He looks so... normal... just a kid who was probably playing with his toys or goofing off with his siblings when he was abducted. It's hard not to look at the worry on his face and try to image what he was going through. Which, I suppose is the entire point of the museum...

Gypsy Boy

From the gypsies you move on to a room for the Jews. As anybody who has even a rudimentary knowledge of World War II already knows, it was the Jews who were the biggest scapegoat for the Nazis as they sought blame for society's problems. In the years leading up to the war, they were continuously ridiculed and persecuted until ultimately their lives were deemed worthless, their existence unacceptable. Once identified as Jewish, a yellow star was sewn to your coat and your fate was sealed...

Jewish Star

The museum also goes on to show how Germans who were opposed to the Nazi party were likewise persecuted and detained, then uses documents like food ration tickets and historic photos to provide a glimpse of what life was like for every-day Germans under Nazi rule...

Rationing Slips

On the second floor the exhibits continue, culminating in a temporary collection that changes from time to time. During my visit, it was a display of art inspired by The Holocaust, including pieces which were created by school children...

Child's Concentration Camp Drawing

The NS Dokumentationszentrum is an utterly fascinating museum, and I highly recommend it. Two-and-a-half hours just blew by in no time at all, and I would have stayed longer if the building hadn't closed at 4:00pm (plan an early visit!).

I hadn't been inside The Dom (cathedral) in a while, so I bounced in before dinner. I don't care how many times I see it, the place always manages to take my breath away...

Dom Interior

Dom Interior

Dom Interior

In reality, the interior of the cathedral is pretty dark and depressing. But seen through a camera with the ISO cranked up, it's stunning.

After pizza dinner followed by potatoes and mayo for dessert, I wandered through shops on touristy Hohe Straße until it started getting dark. Dusk is my favorite time in Cologne, because everything takes on a new life at night. For the photographer, it's magic...

The Dom at Night

Hauptbahnhof at Night

And thus ends my last day in Cologne.

How stupid would it have been to have missed all this because I stayed in my hotel room watching television?

A lesson to live by, I suppose.

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Day Six: Palma de Mallorca

Posted on Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Dave!My flight into Munich was delayed a half hour, which was a problem since my layover there was only 40 minutes. Fortunately, I was in the front of the plane and could sprint to the gate, where I was shocked to see a couple hundred people boarding my flight to Mallorca. Since this is the off-season I was expecting a tiny commuter flight, but instead got a large plane which was filled to capacity. It made no sense to me until we landed, at which time I saw dozens upon dozens of Air Berlin planes on the ground. Apparently, this is a major hub for the airline, and only a tiny fraction of the people onboard had Palma de Mallorca as their final destination.

The reason I'm in the city is to visit the new Hard Rock Cafe that opened up here a short while ago. It's a fairly nice property with a primo location along the Paseo Maritimo, which is a long walkway along the harbor...

Hard Rock Cafe Mallorca

What sets this Hard Rock apart from the norm is the massive deck out front, which spans three levels and can seat three hundred people. In the summer when all the umbrellas are open, I doubt you could even see the cafe...

Hard Rock Cafe Mallorca

I knew the cathedral would be closed by the time I got there, but wanted to visit anyway so I could take some photos. It's supposed to rain tomorrow, and I wanted to be sure I'd have some nice shots of it. Unfortunately, it's not easy to get any nice shots, because the structure is massively huge and in a confined space. There's simply no way of getting enough distance to fit it in the camera (and I've got a fairly wide lens to work with)...

Palma Cathedral

About the best you can do I shoot it from the side, which isn't as interesting as the front, but at least you can fit it in the frame...

Palma Cathedral

The detail in the structure is amazing, and I'd imagine you could easily spend half your day studying all the carvings that grace the exterior...

Palma Cathedral Doorway

Cathedral Statue of Mary and Jesus

Palma Cathedral Carvings

Since I had about an hour before it started getting dark, I decided to explore some of the twisty little roads that branch off into the city. How people drive on streets barely wider than their car is beyond me, but there are cars zipping around everywhere, so the locals apparently manage it just fine...

Narrow Palma Street

If you look up, you're treated to some amazing artwork on the buildings. But the streets are so narrow that the only way you could really see it would be to look out a neighboring building. Somehow I doubt the locals would appreciate me knocking on doors and asking if I can look out their windows, so I just did the best I could by flattening myself against walls and ducking into doorways...

Palma Building Carvings

Palma Building Carvings

Since I'm in Spain, I decided to have dinner at a tapas bar, but stopped at McDonalds for something to drink. The advertising campaign here seems to center around their burgers being made from 100% cow, which has me wondering how the others burgers here are made...

McDonalds Beef Poster

And thus ends my first day in beautiful Palma...

Palma Palms

Tomorrow will be spent running myself ragged playing tourist. I can hardly wait.

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Day Seven: Palma de Mallorca

Posted on Friday, February 6th, 2009

Dave!With only one day to see the city, I had made a checklist of all the stuff I wanted to visit in Palma. Most of the places were churches... starting with the main cathedral which had closed before I could visit yesterday. To see everything on my list was going to be quite a challenge, made even more difficult because torrential rains were forecast in the afternoon. I'm not bothered by rain, but it does make taking photos more difficult.

Nothing opens until 10:00, so I left my hotel at 9:00 in order to make my way into the city and have time for breakfast. McDonalds here wasn't open and doesn't serve breakfast, so I walked around the corner for pastry and a Coke. Then I was off to the cathedral...

Palma Cathedral

The interior was glorious, as expected, even though the primary altar was undergoing repairs...

Inside the Palma Cathedral

Laseu2

Inside the Palma Cathedral

Inside the Palma Cathedral

Across the street is an art museum which had an exhibit of highly-detailed dioramas, like this one showing the birth of Jesus in the upper left...

Birth of Jesus Diorama

But it's the lower right corner which was the most interesting part. Apparently, just outside the manger, there was a drunk guy and his bad monkey present for the birth of Christ. You learn something new every day...

Drunk guy and his Bad Monkey!

From there I wandered around Palma Central, visiting five additional churches. Each was unique and interesting in their own right, even though the basic idea was the same. One church had live organ music. Another had a tour guide. Still another had a bunch of nuns chanting in prayer. All of them had impressive altars...

Extravagant Altar

The Madonna and Child is one of my most favorite subjects in art (my own Davetoon version is here). In one of the churches I visited, I found a statue which has to be one of the most beautiful renditions I've ever seen. Mary's face is so life-like that I kept expecting her to breathe...

Madonna and Child Statue

I eventually worked my way West, hitting such tourist sites as Las Ramblas before the rain came pouring down. After waiting out the flood in my hotel room, I headed back out for a late lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe and to find the final item on my checklist: the Forn des Teatre building, which is kind of famous. I wandered around for an hour, and eventually gave up. Tired of walking, I decided to take a taxi back to my hotel. As an afterthought, I showed my driver a photo of Forn des Teatre and asked if he could take me to it on the way back.

Turns out it was exactly one block down the street from the cafe where I ate breakfast...

Forn des Teatre

After another round of tapas for dinner, I took one last look at the cathedral from the marina...

Looking towards the Palma Cathedral at night

And thus ends my day in beautiful Palma de Mallorca.

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Day Eight: Cologne

Posted on Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Dave!At first I had typed "So here I am back home again..." only to remember that Cologne is not my home. I'm here for just one night so I can get packed up and fly back to my "real" home in the morning. While it will be nice to sleep in my own bed again, I am not looking forward to the 14 hours of travel I've got to endure to get there. Wah.

As I arrived at the main train station here, I overheard a young couple pouring over a train schedule saying "That's the Dusseldorf airport, we want Cologne!" In general, I tend to avoid tourists unless they are in some serious trouble, because it's been my experience that you just get screwed for trying to help out. But I was in a good mood, so I walked up to them and said "If you're wanting to get to the Cologne Airport, your best bet is to take the S13, and you can catch it right up there every 20 minutes or so." They turned and looked at me like I was from outer space before the girl said "But that's not on the schedule!" Trying to remain helpful, I replied "You're looking at a schedule for regional trains. The schedule for the local trains has a giant "S" printed on it. If you walk up to the next board, there should be an S-Bahn schedule there." Still more blank stares until the guy says "I think we'll just wait for a regular train." I had no idea what he had against local trains, and didn't want to start a debate over the subject, so I just said "Okay then, good luck!" and wandered off.

Will I ever learn?

My hotel is just two blocks from the train station, which is kind of a bummer because I've always wanted to experience McClean...

McClean Toilets Sign

It's the "safe and clean toilets" alternative to the toxic waste assault chambers you'd usually find at a train station. And all at a bargain price of 1 Euro per flush!

As expected, Disapproving Woman was waiting for me...

Disapproving Woman says "Not even if you paid me!"

But what I didn't notice until today was that she's not alone...

Hair Salon Posters

OMG! IT'S GEORGE CLOONEY!! Far from being disapproving, he actually seems happy to see me...

George Clooney Poster

After my last cone of potatoes with mayo (= sob! =) and a Spritzringe donut, I decided to catch up on email and FaceBook. Surprisingly, FaceBook still thinks I'm in Spain...

Sexy Facebook Ads from Spain

Aw, they get all the sexy ads! Just look at how they sell their ice cream...

Sexy Magnum Ice Cream Ad

At least I think they're selling ice cream. This could be an ad for condoms.

And on that note, it's time for me to pack my suitcase and try to get some sleep.

When is somebody going to invent the Star Trek transporter in real life?

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Success

Posted on Monday, February 9th, 2009

Dave!So I'm back home. Yippee.

I was going to write up a long, drawn-out entry about how Bad Robert's "poop cycle" theory may have turned out to be reality, but then I decided discussing poop on a Monday just shouldn't be done. Instead, I realized that all my goals for 2008 were achieved, so now I can die a complete success!

My New Years Resolutions for 2009...

  • Try a Pop-Tart flavor I've never had before. DONE! Apple Strudel Pop-Tarts... tasty!
  • Travel somewhere I've never been before. DONE! Mallorca, Spain... beautiful!
  • Visit a Hard Rock Cafe I haven't seen before. DONE! Also Mallorca, Spain... sweet!
  • Drink a beer I've never drank before. DONE! I had a label of Kölsch (Gilden, I think) that was new to me... delicious!
  • Get another Apple product. DONE! I'm typing this on my new MacBook Pro... shiny!

With this rousing success in mind, I think I've earned an early night to bed.

Where I will undoubtedly stare at the ceiling for the next six hours.

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4-4-9

Posted on Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Dave!

Dave York TWO!

   

   

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Shaq

Posted on Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Dave!After reading a nifty story about two guys getting to meet Shaquille O'Neal because of Twitter, I was reminded of my own encounter with Shaq, and had to Google my blog to see if I had written about it yet. Google says "did not match any documents" so I guess not.

Back in the 1990's, Planet Hollywood wasn't satisfied with over-saturating the market with their own eateries, so they developed another chain to dilute their customer base even further... The Official All-Star Cafe. It was the sports-themed alternative to the movie-themed Planet Hollywood and the music-themed Hard Rock Cafe that was endorsed by Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana, Ken Griffey Jr., Andre Agassi, Monica Seles, and (you guessed it) Shaquille O'Neal.

While working in New York sometime in 1995 or 96, I noticed an All-Star Cafe had opened in Times Square and decided to check it out. I'm kind of a theme-restaurant whore, and wanted to see what a 13 million dollar cafe looked like. Unfortunately, there was a long line of kids waiting to get it, so I decided to just sneak a look at the merchandise shop and eat lunch somewhere else. But once I got inside, I noticed almost all of the tables were empty. There were more kids lined up inside, but nobody appeared to be eating. I asked the hostess how long the wait was, and was immediately seated at a tiny two-seater table next to a stage of some kind. My veggie burger and Coke arrived almost instantly, which was nice, but I was uncomfortable eating it because the line of obnoxious kids was just six feet away watching my every move.

And then the room exploded.

I had just taken a bite and still had my burger to my mouth when a commotion started up behind me. Before I could even turn around and see what was going on, my chair was bumped into... hard. I was pushed into the table and my burger was knocked out of my hands. All the while, kids were going nuts around me.

That's when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked up to see a GIANT MAN saying "Sorry about that. You okay, man?"

After I nodded to him in the affirmative, I felt him give my shoulder a squeeze, then watched as Shaquille O'Neal went out the door... awash in screaming kids who were holding up basketballs to be autographed.

I had just been Shaqed!

The two things I took away from the experience were this. 1) Shaq is huge. Massively huge. However big you think he is, take that number and double it. 2) Shaq has good manners. Even though he was being mobbed, he took time to apologize for having bumped into me when it wasn't even his fault... he was just trying to get through the crowd.

Not much of a story, really. But considering I spent most of my time sick in bed, I suppose it's better than telling you about my day.

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Bullet Sunday 123

Posted on Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Dave!It's a very special edition of Bullet Sunday here at Blogography... focusing on the many wonders of the Emerald City itself, Seattle! Vahid came up to see Watchmen and, surprisingly, hasn't ever really played tourist here despite the fact he lives only 3 hours away. We didn't have much time, but managed to squeeze in quite a lot (fortunately he managed to get a late train back home on Sunday!).

• Pike Place Market. Probably my favorite touristy place in Seattle, it's tough to beat a trip to the Pike Place Market. There's shops and eateries for just about any taste or interest, and a good chunk of the day can be spent trying to explore it all. Since there are pictures of the famous Market Sign and flying fish everywhere, I thought I'd skip that and remind everybody that you can see delicious cheese being made at Beecher's Cheese, just across the street from the marketplace. It's a massive task that involves a lot of manual labor, but a lot of fun to watch...

A guy making cheese at Beechers Cheese

You can not only buy their famous award winning cheeses, but also eat a delicious grilled cheese sandwich or some decadent "World's Best Macaroni and Cheese" from their cafe. (Beecher's Cheese Link)

&bull Post Alley. Just south of Pike Place Market, Post Alley is home to the famous Seattle Gum Wall...

Gum Wall at Post Alley

Gum Wall at Post Alley

• Space Needle. Yeah, it's a Seattle landmark that everybody goes to when they visit, but it's still a pretty remarkable place. Since it was due to snow Saturday, we were sure to get there Friday while the skies were clear and blue...

View out the Space Needle

Seattle Panorama Photo from the Space Needle

With my fear of heights, a trip to the top is not the most pleasant of experiences, but you can't argue with the view! (Space Needle Link)

• EMP & Science Fiction Museum. The "Experience Music Project" is one of those "activity-type" museums that either succeeds or fails for the visitor depending on how dense the crowds are. If it's crowded, you may not get to "experience" much at all. But on a Friday afternoon in Winter, crowds were light, so it's good fun. The Music Lab is my favorite part, set up with stations which teach you how to play various instruments...

Entrance to the EMP

Because there's not really a lot of "museum" at the EMP, they've added on a Science Fiction Museum to make the $15 admission price a better value. It's fairly comprehensive, covering many aspects of the genre... from books to film. Speaking as a sci-fi whore, I love the place. Not only do they have one of the original Enterprise models from Stark Trek, but they've also got a number of props, including Captain Kirk's chair and some of the devices used by the characters...

Scifi

If crowds are light, I'd definitely recommend a visit to the EMP/Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. (EMP-SFM Link)

• Underground Tour. Old Seattle was a mess of floods and pestilence, which is why city founders were happy to let it burn to the ground when it caught fire in 1889. They then just built a new city on top of the old, hoping the height would stop the tides from flooding the streets and causing toilets to overflow. Since the Seattle was completely destroyed, there's not a lot to see once you go underground... but it's the tour guides that make the trip interesting (above ground is beautiful, however). Seattle has a very interesting and colorful history, and the tour guides make it all very entertaining...

Seattle Underground

Seattle Underground

After the tour, you can visit a small museum which houses a collection of stuff from Seattle's history... including an original Crapper Toilet, beautifully preserved...

Porcelain Crapper Toilet

• Seattle Public Library. Much like the EMP, I think the Seattle Public Library is a hideous mess from the outside. Only when seen from above does it look even remotely beautiful. From the inside, however, it's quite nice...

Inside Seattle Public

Inside Seattle Public

Idolatry. "Everything I've ever done. Everything I ever do. Every place I've ever been. Everywhere I'm going to... It's a sin."

Bible thumper holding a sign.

• Alki. Sure enough, rain, snow, and everything in-between ("wintery mix") descended upon Seattle on Saturday morning. This made a trip to West Seattle's Alki Point a bit uncomfortable and made for a less exciting view, but it's still worth the short drive over to look back at the city center...

Alki Bird

Alki Statue of Liberty Mini Replica

View of Seattle Pano from Alki

Even better? Dustin joined us for lunch!

• Seattle Waterfront. While not as interesting as the waterfront at other cities (like San Francisco), Seattle's is still worth a visit. A few legendary businesses are located there, like Ivars Famous Clam Chowder restaurant...

Ivars Sign

And Ye Olde Curiosity Shop (home of Sylvester and Sylvia, the mummies)...

Sylvia the Mummy

There's also some nice classic neon signage to enjoy...

Crab Pot Neon

I also love the view looking back towards downtown...

Seattle Cityscape

And that was all she wrote from beautiful Seattle...

Cosmic Beanie Mural

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Hoot

Posted on Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Dave!Immediately after waking up at 4:30am, I put in eleven-and-a-half grueling hours of work that turned my brain all mushy. After I got home from dinner, I put in six more hours. Now my brain is beyond mushy... I am near catatonic.

Which would be great if I could get some sleep out of the deal, except I can't. Despite how exhausted I am, my body simply will not fall asleep. So instead I'm blogging at 1:00am while an owl is hooting outside my window. This is very odd, because I can't recall ever hearing any owls here before. But here he is... excited about something out there. I was going to guess that his internal clock is messed up from moving the clocks ahead for Daylight Saving Time, but then I remember that animals are smarter than we stupid-ass humans and don't have idiotic Daylight Saving Time. Lucky bastard. Why hasn't Obama abolished this stupid crap yet? WHERE'S THE CHANGE I CAN BELIEVE IN?!??

Anyway...

Thanks to help from the charming and lovely Penelope, it looks like we have a venue and plans for the London meet-up on SATURDAY, MARCH 21st... a week from tomorrow! Some people weren't sure if they could make it but, if it turns out you can, please email me and I'll get you the details (my email address is in the sidebar to the left).

Just a quick note that the date for Edinburgh has been CHANGED. While we here in the USA always have Mother's Day in May... in the UK "Mothering Sunday" is in March. And, unfortunately, it's on the 22nd when Davenburgh was planned, making it so that people had to ditch their mum in order to attend. So I changed my flights so that we could have a meet-up on TUESDAY, MARCH 24th for dinner. Hopefully this will allow more people to join in. Let me know if you can make it!

Davedon 2009

Davenburgh 2009

Wow... It is just now sinking in that I leave for the UK on Wednesday. That one sure snuck up on me.

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Currency

Posted on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Dave!And so I'm off to Blighty...

I should be more excited, but all my travel kind of blends together after a while, and it hasn't sunk in that this trip is actually for a week of vacation. Vacation I can't really afford right now, but vacation nevertheless.

In anticipation of the truly shitty value of the US Dollar abroad (and at home, for that matter), I decided to visit my Big Box of Funny Money. This is where I toss all the foreign currency I bring back from my travels with the intent of using it for future trips...

TT desperation.

The problem is that I never remember to take it on future trips, so it just sits there. The bigger problem is that 90% of the money I've accumulated is worthless. That's because it's antiquated money that's no longer in circulation anymore... like French Francs and German Deutschmarks. They may be nice to look at, but the only thing you can use them for is wiping your ass. Kind of like the US Dollar... except US Dollars aren't as nice to look at.

On top of the Big Box of Funny Money was a ziplock baggie containing 108 Norwegian Kroner. This was a pleasant surprise, because I thought I had spent it all last year. 108 of anything sounds like a lot, so I pulled up my Mac's Dashboard to use the Converter Widget to see how much it's worth...

Mac Widget

Holy crap! That's almost sixty bucks!! I should send that money to Karla in Oslo and tell her to buy me something pretty!

Except something didn't seem right. Either the US Dollar has rebounded spectacularly in Norway (unlikely) or my widget is off. I decided to test it by asking how much a hundred US Dollars is in US Dollars...

US Widget

D'oh!! The widget IS screwed up! Off I go to XE to see what my Kroner is really worth...

XE Real Kroner Value

WAH! SIXTEEN DOLLARS?!? That's not even enough to buy a bag of Smash.

The good news is that I found 50 British Pounds and 20 Euro. That's pretty good!

Unless the pound-notes are so old that they're not worth anything anymore. That would be just my luck.

And I'm off...

UPDATE: If you don't mind getting your hands a little dirty, there is a fix for Apple's Unit Converter widget at Mac OS X Hints.

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Day One: SEA->LHR

Posted on Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Dave!The bummer about being a US West Coaster is that a trip to Europe basically kills an entire day. I start out with a local flight to Seattle, connect to a long-haul 10-hour flight to Amsterdam, then RUN MY ASS OFF across Schiphol International Airport so I can get to my connecting London flight that starts boarding ten minutes after I land.

And here I am the next morning in Jolly Olde England.

Now, usually, that ten hour flight is nothing but the sheer agony of being crammed in a tiny seat and unable to move the entire trip... but somehow the travel gods smiled upon me and I ended up getting upgraded to World Business Class. Given the obscene amount of miles I fly each year, I'm used to getting upgraded on domestic flights, but it is a rarity on International trips (which, sadly, is where it makes the most difference).

Suddenly, a trip filled with pain, suffering, and dread becomes a different experience entirely.

And now I'm going to blog about what it's like to travel World Business Class on Northwest Airlines (soon to be Delta). From past experience, I know that there are those who will think that I am an asshole and somehow "bragging" about how awesome I am because I fly first class when "normal people" are stuck in coach. And that's fine. But I think it's important to note that flying thusly is something I could never afford, and only ever get to experience because it's free. Except it really isn't. I had to accumulate 160,000 frequent flier miles last year and spend countless weeks away from home, friends, and family to get to the point where I earn... I fucking earn... that prized upgrade seat. So people can say what they like, because everything has a price... it's just that sometimes it isn't paid entirely with money.

And besides, what else have I got to blog about?

Please forgive the positively shitty photos. They're positively shitty because they were taken with the positively shitty camera on my iPhone...

World Business Class

The first thing you notice is the legroom. Whereas the knees of my 6-foot 2-inch frame are permanently embedded into the back of the seat in front of me in coach, World Business has a freaky abundance of legroom. The above photo shows me at the edge of my seat with my legs fully extended. I can barely touch the chair ahead of me.

World Business Class

The reason for all that space? Your seat folds out into all kinds of configurations, including a bed. Yes, a bed. While not completely flat, it might as well be. Unlike the laughable "recline" position of the teeny-tiny coach seats that crush the person behind you, these seats can actually become comfortable enough to get some sleep. Good sleep.

World Business Class

Along with a seat about a billion times more comfortable than coach, you also get a little amenities kit. Inside you'll find a pen, chapstick (lip balm), switchblade comb(!), sleep mask, a toothbrush with mini toothpaste, and a pair of socks. SOCKS, BITCHES!! It all comes in a lovely zipper bag that's actually very nice. Notably absent are slippers. When I've flown World Business Class to Asia, you get slippers.

World Business Class

Before takeoff, they offer you juice or champagne, but you can ask for anything you want. After takeoff, they roll out the beverage cart and bring you a little box of assorted nuts. The nuts and your drink are refilled as often as you like. You can also go to the galley and grab from their snack basket any time you get hungry, which is crazy when you consider that they feed you constantly. Vahid gave me the book "Soon I Will Be Invincible" for my birthday, and it is freaking AWESOME (seriously, go buy it immediately). Vahid knows all kinds of cool books, yet never blogs about them. He will, however, gladly give you a long list of incredible reads if you see him in person buy him a drink or two.

Note the personal Video System (which is also available in the main cabin at a smaller size) which can map your journey, show you movies, and play music or games.

World Business Class

You are handed a menu with various upscale dishes... hardly any of them vegetarian-friendly. A full dinner and breakfast with various appetizers and snacks are served, all of them sounding just great (assuming you eat meat). As an example, one of our breakfast options was "Egg Pie Florentine with Spinach and Bacon, served with Apples and Cranberry Compote" plus your choice of breads.

World Business Class

Unlike coach food, World Business Class meals are never served in little plastic tubs. It always comes on real glass plates with real glassware and real metal cutlery. And I believe that's real butter too. But my most favorite part? You don't just get "salt and pepper" you get "Natural Sea Salt OR Natural Rock Salt" and "Freshly Ground Black Pepper OR Freshly Ground White Pepper"... YOUR CHOICE! How classy is that?!?

And there you have it. That's how the other half live (and me... on rare occasions). If you have the means (or frequent flier miles), I highly recommend it. I can't speak for other airlines, but Northwest (soon to be Delta) with it's impeccable flight attendant team, great seats, and great food, makes even the longest flights a sheer pleasure with their stellar World Business Class service. Two thumbs way up.

And now, after a fantastic morning wandering around London with flawless blue skies, it's time for dinner...

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Day Two: Cambridge/London

Posted on Friday, March 20th, 2009

Dave!In many ways, returning to London is the perfect vacation for me, because I don't feel under any pressure to rush around playing tourist. I've seen most all the major attractions here on previous visits, so my days can be spent wandering at my leisure. Perhaps discovering some small shop or overlooked oddity that's uniquely London instead of standing in a queue somewhere.

But London and the surrounding countryside have so much to offer... such a massive number of things to see and do that are of historical significance or sublime beauty... that you really can't avoid playing tourist altogether. So when my friend and and fellow Hard Rock Runner, Perry, asked if I'd like to take the train up to Cambridge for a walkabout and some lunch, I jumped at the chance. Partly because I never got to explore the city on my all-too-brief previous visit... but especially because I've been wanting to visit The Fitzwilliam Museum for a decade.

The Fitzwilliam Museum

Regularly touted as being one of the finest museums in all of Europe, The Fitzwilliam has a remarkable collection of painting masterworks by artists such as Monet, Picasso, Titian, Cézanne, Renoir, and Degas... but also features a surprising number of antiques from Egypt, Asia, Rome, and Greece. But all these treasures are almost secondary to the building itself. The interior is an architectural marvel of such beautiful artistry that you could actually ignore everything it contains and still leave with your mind blown. I was disappointed that they don't allow photography inside... but I was positively gutted that they didn't have a book dedicated to the building in their gift shop. A few random postcards or a page in a book is all you get. Tragic, really.

Given that Cambridge is a University Town, there's so much more to see, so off we went. First walking past the remarkable King's College...

King's College Cambridge

Then continuing on for a walk around Trinity College, which is beautiful, but most everything is closed to tourists...

Trinity College Cambridge Grounds

Trinity College: No Tourists!

Trinity College Trinity!

Then off to St. John's College, which offers quite a lot more to tourists, including their chapel, grounds, their "Bridge of Sighs," and a statue of a particularly vicious nun, who's standing on top of some guy's back (?!?)...

Vicious Nun Statue

St. John's Chapel

St. John's Bridge of Sighs

St. John's College

After lunch and some wandering through the market and downtown shops, we boarded the train back south, where I said goodbye to Perry until tomorrow, and headed back to London.

Because meeting up with fellow frequent travelers always makes for fascinating conversations, I was lucky enough to arrange dinner with fellow road-warrior Andre, who was kind enough to journey into the city. His restaurant suggestion, The Texas Embassy, was a fantastic choice... not just because good Tex-Mex is one of my favorite meals... but because the restaurant has an interesting history to it. Texas and The British Empire have an interesting history together, so finding a fantastic Texan restaurant in the heart of London is not as odd as one might think. From there it was a short walk to the pubs of Covent Garden, where I somehow managed to resist the temptation of Jägermeister, despite it being proudly displayed with Red Bull as God intended...

Jager and Red Bull Display at The Nag's Head

And thus ended a perfect day, with Andre off to the train station for the journey home... and me preparing for Davedon tomorrow before passing out...

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Day Three: Davedon

Posted on Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Dave!It's 1:00am and I've just safely arrived back "home" at my hotel after seven hours of bloggity meet goodness.

This morning I went wandering through some London book shops, which is one of my favorite things to do in the city. Independent book stores are all but disappearing in the US as the mammoth chain stores squeeze them out of business, so it's nice to visit the many bookshops they have here. One of my favorite stores is Stanfords, which specializes in all things travel... from books to maps. I could spend hours (days?) exploring the world among the treasures they sell there.

Fortunately, I was able to resist temptation to buy a second suitcase and go bankrupt at Stanfords, because Lady Penelope and The Dutch Bitch had arrived in London! After a quick stop at my hotel room and some harrowing navigation through the construction (deconstruction) going on throughout the London Underground, we met in Sloan Square at Wine O'Clock...

Lady Penelope's Pinot

Dutchy wonders where her wine went.

After Dave from Undeleterious dropped in for a pint, we were off to Henry J. Beans for London's premiere blogger meet-up: Davedon!

Davedon Lanyard

Once at the restaurant, we were warmly greeted by Bec from Out of My Tree. Then Perry was kind enough to join us even though he was probably sick to death of me after our adventure in Cambridge yesterday.

Ireland ended up playing Wales in the Six Nations Tournament, with their first shot at a Grand Slam in 61 years. This was kind of an important event to one of my long-time blogging friends, Anthony from Anthony McG, who missed dinner so he could watch the match and cheer on his countrymen to a heart-stopping victory. Fortunately, he and his friend Paul joined us for a few victory drinks after the game, because I missed meeting him when he was in my neck of the woods.

I was too busy chatting to take photographs... fortunately, everybody else took a million pictures, so I'll link to them when they're posted. Thanks so very much to everyone who attended... meeting the people behind the blogs is what makes it all worthwhile!

UPDATE: The lovely Lady Penelope has uploaded her photos from the evening to Flickr. Below are a few photos of me from her set. To see the rest, click here...

Davedon: Dave and Penelope
Thanks to Penelope for making the dinner arrangements!

Davedon: Dave and Hello Kitty
Penelope brought me a Hello Kitty dispenser with sweets AND stickers. How cool is that?

Davedon Group
Penelope, Dave2, Dutchy, Perry, Bec, Dave (Anthony and Paul showed up later).

Davedon Bill
Let's see... there's our dinner bill, then it's pretty much just Wine, Wine, Wine, Wine, Wine, Wine, Wine, Wine, Wine,, Wine, Wine, Wine, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, and a couple beers. Boy, all those Cosmos certainly add up! I wonder who might be responsible for that?

Davedon: Dave Pope
Apparently, Ireland is backing my dream of becoming Pope, because Anthony gave this Irish Pope Hat to me.

Continue on to the Penelope Flickr Davedon Set...

And that's all she wrote.

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Day Four: London

Posted on Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Dave!Since tomorrow I have signed up for something new (to me) and touristy that demands my getting up at 4:00am, I decided that today I would do — — not much of anything. After brunch with Lady Penelope and The Dutch Bitch, I thought I'd just wander around in this amazing weather... perhaps visiting my favorite comic shop here, then maybe checking out The Apple Store on Regent Street (which had not yet opened when I was here in 2004, and I didn't have time to visit in 2006).

But then Anthony and Paul had raved about their visit to the Cabinet War Rooms & Churchill Museum last night, so new plans had to be made.

After a lovely brunch we wandered beautiful Covent Garden for a bit...

Covent Garden Market

Unlike in the USA where street performers are mostly shit, here in London you must be licensed to perform, so most of the things you see and hear are pretty good. Some are exceptional. Penelope tells me that Covent Garden is famous for their street performers, so anybody here actually had to audition for their spot. One who caught my notice was a lady beautifully singing opera at the Market House. What made her truly special is that her music accompaniment was provided by... a teeny tiny iPod Shuffle! How brilliant is THAT?

Opera With iPod Shuffle!

Surprisingly, street performers are not the only thing which must be licensed. How would you like to be the government agency in charge of the sex shop trade? I don't know why, but I envision the shop undergoing regular inspections by some older, official-looking bureaucratic gentleman... walking the store with a tape measure and saying things like "These dildos are not regulation length and must be removed!" and "I do not see an electronics safety seal on this vibrator!" Though that's probably just me...

Used Books and Licensed Sex Shop Sign!

As I am not much for shopping I bid the girls farewell to headed to a geekier retail experience: FORBIDDEN PLANET!!

Forbidden Planet London Store

It's the ultimate comic book shop, stuffed to the rafters with all kinds of geeky extras like manga, toys, books, games, and the like. Some of the stuff is uniquely British and, of course, all those wonderful UK television shows and movies are well-represented, making it an especially favorite place to hang out in London.

Apple Time!

Apple Store London Regent Street

Now, to be honest, I don't feel compelled to visit Apple Stores anymore. If you've seen one, you've pretty much seen them all, and the variations are not really so overwhelming that you "gotta see every last one." Even with the Regent Street London store being located in a grand old building, the interior is exactly what you'd expect. Or is it...???

When debating whether or not to stop by Oxford Circus and visit the store, I took a quick trip to the online review site, Yelp!, to see if there was anything to-die-for-drop-dead-special about the place. Eventually I ended up at the more UK-oriented equivalent, Tipped, where I saw something really disturbing... one of the reviewers there had this to say: "One more notable fact about the London Apple store. They have glass staircases. And it is rumoured that the sales associates like to stand under them when girls in skirts are going up... DIRTY!" — This kind of threw me for a loop, because that would be very different than the glass staircase at all the other Apple Stores I've been to... so I decided to check it out.

And, of course, the stupid bitch and her "notable FACT" was completely wrong. Just like every other Apple Store, the glass on the stairs is FROSTED. You can't fucking see through it at all. And, just like every other Apple Store, the staircase is completely closed off, so even if the stairs were entirely transparent... there is no way in hell that employees could stand under them and look up girl's skirts. Did this dumbass even bother to visit the Apple Store before writing her review? Because, seriously, it would take all of two seconds to verify that this "notable FACT" of hers is completely untrue. This is why you really have to take online review sites with a grain of salt, because stupid shit like this taints them for everyone and completely defeats the purpose of the site by posting WRONG information. GAH!!!

Anyway, visiting the War Rooms and Churchill Museum necessitated a ride on the Jubilee Line of the London Underground (subway), which I love because it's a newer line with some stations sporting a very cool heavy industrial look, while retaining the brilliant logo identity which is one of my all-time favorites...

Westminster Station

They just don't make identities like this anymore... clean, simple, elegant, functional, distinct, recognizable... and so beautiful. Today it would be all computer-generated gradients with swooshes and all that senselessly stupid 3-D crap that I've grown to loath. With the London Underground, everything is note-perfect. And the typeface (which you can actually purchase) is sublime. A highly readable yet unique take on a sans-serif font that is a graphic artist's dream...

Underground Typeface

A couple of blocks from the station, and here we are at the Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum...

Cabinet War Rooms Museum

Turns out that Anthony and Paul did not oversell it... this museum was absolutely brilliant. Everything they said it would be and so much more. The War Rooms themselves have been preserved in the exact state they were when World War II ended. The audio guide included with your ticket purchase is all very well done, and the displays provide real insight into how the war was fought. After touring the bunker, you can then move on to the Churchill exhibit, which has to be one of the most thorough and complex museum study I've ever seen dedicated to a single individual. And its not just stuffy old displays of his crap either (though that's there too)... there's great hi-tec interactive tools that allow you to explore his life in excruciating detail. Primary of which is "The Lifeline," which is a massive electronic table that allows you to view a timeline of Churchill's life down to individual days. Even if "war museums" are not your thing, this is one attraction that's worth a visit.

The Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum is closely tied to The Imperial War Museum across The Thames so, naturally, I had to visit there as well. Or, revisit, if you will, because I had been to the museum years ago. It's quite nice (FREE!) and features exhibits dedicated to The Holocaust which are not to be missed...

Imperial War Museum Interior

Since I was already in "tourist mode," I decided to go for broke and visit the most excellent Wallace Collection so I could check and see if they have finally made a postcard of their painting The Waking of Cupid by Hughes Taraval. Unfortunately, they didn't, again... which is a shame, because it's a kind of funny and charming piece that would be the perfect postcard to send to a good friend whom I know loves this kind of stuff. Oh well, they do let you look at it online, which is nice...

The Waking of Cupid
Image © The Wallace Collection

My day now having completely flown by (THANKS A LOT ANTHONY!), all that was left to do was grab some pizza for dinner... take the tube back to my hotel... set my alarm for way too early... and try to get some sleep. Or blog... if your insomniac nature gets the best of you.

Which, apparently, mine has. As usual. Even on vacation I can't seem to get a break on sleep.

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Day Five: Stonehenge-Lacock-Bath

Posted on Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Dave!Believe it or not, I've never been to Stonehenge. It certainly seems like something I'd be dying to see... but, for reasons that escape me, I just can't get excited about a bunch of rocks, no matter how fantastic their arrangement and mysteries. Besides, I've been to the Stonehenge in my home-state of Washington and it's in much better condition. But, alas, it's one of those things that people kind of expect a traveler to have visited, so I went ahead and arranged a tour booking. Since I hate f#@%ing tour groups with the burning passion of a thousand suns, this was a kind of big deal for me... but away I went.

An interesting aside here... when you get to Stonehenge, you can't wander through the stones and go wherever you want. Instead you are confined to a roped-off area that keeps you at a fair distance from the attraction. Unless you book an "Inner Circle Tour" from a licensed agency. In that case, you get to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn and be bussed out to the site with 25 other people. These tours are very hard to get unless you book way in advance, but I got lucky on a cancelation when I had to change my trip to Edinburgh...

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

And yes, you can touch the stones. Here is what I expected to happen...

Glowing Rays on Stonehenge!

And here is what actually happened...

My hand on Stonehenge.

Meh.

Feels like a big rock.

Far more exciting was the tour stops in the towns of Lacock and Bath. Especially, Bath, which was wonderful. I've put some pretty nifty photos in an extended entry if you're interested...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
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Day Six: Davenburgh

Posted on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Dave!And so here I am in my favorite city on earth... Edinburgh, Scotland. Not the nicest of days to be in "The Athens of the North," because it's overcast and cold, but it's hard to complain when I'm so happy to be here.

Originally, I was to be in Edinburgh on Sunday for the meet-up, but people pointed out that this was Mother's Day in the UK so I changed it in hopes that more people could make it (far be it for me to come between somebody and their mum!). Unfortunately, weeknights are really difficult for meet-ups because everybody has to worry about work in the morning, so the head-count dwindled from five to four to three to two. Not that the number of people really matters... I'm happy to meet up with anybody I can when I travel, and was very lucky that Andy from Sharing Experiences could make it (if you're a traveler... or even if you just like to read excellent travel stories... his blog is well worth checking out, and I was even interviewed by Andy here).

We met at Bobby's Bar, named in honor of Greyfriars Bobby, a dedicated doggie who spent fourteen years guarding the grave of his deceased master (he reminds me of Hachiko, a dog who met his master at the train station every day in Tokyo, and continued to turn up each day... even after his master had died).

Since Andy is a fellow frequent-traveler, it was great to compare notes and trade travel stories (Sharing Experiences in person, as it were!), so Davenburgh was a total success...

Greyfriar Bobby's Bar

Dave and Andy at Davenburgh

Greyfriars Bobby with Andy's Davenburgh Badge

Tomorrow is supposed to be a much nicer day, so my fingers are crossed as I head off to bed.

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Day Seven: Edinburgh

Posted on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Dave!Just some random snapshots from a beautiful day in Edinburgh...

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Cross

Edinburgh Monument

Edinburgh Church

Edinburgh Architecture

Edinburgh Dome

Edinburgh Bridge

Edinburgh Statue

Edinburgh Bobby

Edinburgh Hard Rock Cafe

And that's all she wrote...

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Percocet

Posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Dave!I've had kidney stones twice before. Other than the excruciating pain, they're actually kind of boring to me now. Mostly because there's nothing for you to do except stay doped up on painkillers and ride it out until it passes. In the meanwhile, life goes on as usual... albeit in a drugged-out stupor.

If only there was a way to make kidney stones exciting again!

Like to have an attack while on an airplane!

Never one to pass up on interesting experiences, this is exactly what happened on my connecting flight from Minneapolis to Seattle. After spending 40 minutes on the tarmac at MSP, I started to get this dull ache in my side. After takeoff, this turned to a sharp pain. After an hour in the air, this turned into searing jabbing pain. Apparently all that water I had been drinking to keep my kidneys clear had no effect.

But fortunately, I had Percocet-Oxycodone with me for just such an occasion. The problem was that the pain made me nauseous, so I couldn't keep the pills down. Instead, I had to writhe in silent torment in my seat (thankfully I had been upgraded to first class so I had room to move around). By the time we touched down in Seattle, I was in total agony. It was all I could do to keep from screaming as I hobbled off the plane and made my way to the taxi stand.

"Is there a good hospital around" I ask the driver while doubled over. "Yes, yes... there is a hospital in Burien" he replies. "Will it take long to get there?" I query. "IT'S ABOUT TEN MINUTES... IF YOU WANT SOMETHING CLOSER HERE IN THE AIRPORT I CAN'T HELP YOU!!" he yells. And so I'm off to Highline Medical Center in Burien with a smart-ass taxi driving asshole who screams in his phone the entire journey.

Once I get there, everything else is routine... paperwork, evaluation, paperwork, a bed in the ER, an IV line inserted, morphine inserted, anti-nausea drugs inserted, CAT scan, doctor consult, paperwork, prescription for drugs, paperwork, discharged from the ER.

Whee.

And I managed to do all that on my layover, arriving at the airport just in time to board my flight home.

Not the worst way I've spent a layover, but certainly the most unique.

Oh well. I'm home safe. Isn't that all that really matters?

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NYC2

Posted on Friday, March 27th, 2009

Dave!The New York blogger meet-up is NEXT SATURDAY! If you want to attend and haven't emailed me yet, please do so ASAP. If you have emailed, you'll be getting an email from me asking for confirmation.Once there's a head-count, we can decide on a venue and get some reservations made. We usually meet early... around 5:30pm... so we won't have to wait too long for a table, and can have time after to hit a bar and chat.

Hope to see you there!

Dave York 2

Now I wants me a real New York bagel.

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Newark

Posted on Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Dave!Weather here in the Greater New York Area is pretty shitty. A lot of flights have been canceled or delayed both in and out. I am fairly lucky in that mine was only delayed two hours.

At least I was lucky until I found out my hotel shuttle stopped running an hour before I landed.

How the hell can you claim to service a major metropolitan airport like Newark and not have a 24-hour shuttle? And, if your hotel is such a fucking joke that they don't have a 24-hour shuttle for a major airport, then why don't you put that info on your website? Oh, that's right... because if you put it on your website, nobody would bother to book your worthless shit, because nobody knows if their flight might be delayed past your shuttle cut-off!

The more I think about it, the madder I get. Not so much for the $20 I had to pay a taxi, but for the principle of it all. Flights are still on delay and will be landing throughout the early morning. When I checked into the hotel, there were at least a dozen key-cards set-up for visitors not yet arrived because of weather delays. In service to your customers, wouldn't you at least try to accommodate the circumstances and keep a driver on-staff a few extra hours?!? If I were the manager and couldn't get anybody to fill those extra hours, I'd bite the bullet and drive the stupid shuttle myself. It's what you do when you're in the business of customer service.

Or so one would hope.

Given all the travel I endure, you'd think that I'd stop being surprised at the shit I get put through on such a regular basis. But I never do. I'm always clinging to the dream that businesses will go that extra mile for their customers... or at least not mislead those customers on their website.

But it's a dream that fails more often than not. A dream that dies a little more with each failure. A dream that shouldn't really be dream at all, but an expectation of how things should be.

But so rarely are.

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Dave York 2

Posted on Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Dave!Once again feeling like the luckiest person on earth that I can show up in a city far from home and manage to find such an amazing group of people who would spend their valuable time hanging out with me. I don't know that I could ever adequately express just how much it means, but every time in every city... from the bottom of my heart... I am so very grateful. Who could have ever imagined that this stupid blog would add so much to my life? The people I meet, online and offline, have made my world so much bigger... so much richer... than I could have ever imagined.

Anyway...

The day was pretty simple, actually. Newark to New York. Hotel room not ready. Upper East Side. Downtown. Johnny Rockets (veggie burgers in stock, w00t!). Hotel room still not ready. Hard Rock Cafe Yankee Stadium. Hotel room ready! Times Square. Dave York. Union Square. Times Square. Good times had by all.

Thanks so much to those who could come along!

As usual, I was too busy talking with everybody to remember to take pictures... but a lot of photos were taken, so I'll be sure to link to them once they're up!

Just some random notes...

• If you're going to visit the brand new Hard Rock Cafe at New Yankee Stadium, it's probably best to NOT do so on a game day unless you have tickets to the game. It took me 20 minutes of going from one place to another to another to another before somebody would actually let me in the cafe. I guess everybody thought I was trying to sneak into the game or something, so I kept getting passed around. The cafe itself is smaller than I thought it would be, but quite nice...

Hard Rock Cafe Yankee Stadium

Hard Rock Cafe Yankee Stadium

• I usually don't like to have blogger meets at Hard Rock Cafes because the loud music makes it hard to talk, and they are usually more interested in turning tables than letting people sit round and chat... but the Hard Rock Cafe Times Square was absolutely fantastic. Again! We had an amazing server taking good care of us, and it was a great experience all the way around. Thanks to everybody there for making Dave York... and now Dave York 2... such a great success!

Hard Rock Cafe Times Square

• When it comes to embarrassing you on your birthday... even when it's not really your birthday anymore... people you consider to be friends will happily report you to the "Birthday Humiliation Squad" so you have to stand on top of a chair in the middle of a crowded restaurant with a flaming hot-fudge sundae in one hand (your dignity in the other) while people scream "happy birthday" at you... all because they think it makes for great photo fodder on their blogs. The bastards!

• When they say "DO NOT TAKE THIS MEDICATION WITH ALCOHOL" on your prescription labels, it's probably a good idea to follow those directions. A couple shots of Jäger on top of my pills had my brain struggling to keep up with happenings around me. Which can be fun... or dangerous... depending on the situation.

• I really am one of the luckiest people on earth. Thanks again to everybody for such a great night!

UPDATE: Photos are slowly coming through. Like this one of my and ETinNY he sent me...

Dave and ETinNY
Peace out, baby!

And this shot of me accepting my un-birthday humiliation from Dawg's Flickr Set...

I'm The King of The World!
I'm the King of The World, bitches!

And some terrific shots from the ever-adorable Poppy's Flickr Stream (she has marked a set for Dave York 2, but only put one photo in there!)...

Dawg, Poppy, Earl.
Dawg and Poppy with B.E. Earl.

Dave York 2!
Robin, Libragirl, B.E. Earl, Me, and Cissa!

Dave's Subway Terror!
How non-New Yorkers envision a ride on the subway.

UPDATE: And now Bellaventa and Libragirl have put up a set on Flickr...

UPDATE: And now Cissa has put up her set on Flickr...

I'll add more as I find 'em!

   

Bullet Sunday 126

Posted on Sunday, April 5th, 2009

Dave!Bullet Sunday from Boston... could there BE anything more exciting?

• Photographic I just updated yesterday's Dave York 2 entry with a few photo links from Dawg, Poppy, Bellaventa, and Cissa! Dawg even has Poppy Streaming Video of me on his site. w00t!

• Friendly. I have a long-time good friend in Boston whom I haven't seen in ages, so I decided to cash in a few frequent flier miles and take the super-convenient Delta Shuttle plane up to Massachusetts. Even if I had paid, it's still cheaper than the train (WTF?) and a lot faster, delivering you from New York LaGuardia's Marine Air Terminal...

Nyc

To Boston Logan in just a little over an hour...

Bos

• Rock. I made a point to visit Boston's new Hard Rock Cafe at the Faneuil Hall Market Place so I would once again be caught up with all the Hard Rocks in the US and Canada. I admit to being a bit disappointed that the exterior is so frackin' BORING, but they did a nice job on the inside... even if it doesn't replicate the more classic stylings of the Boston original at Copley Square...

Hard Rock Cafe Boston 2

Hard Rock Cafe Boston 2 Interior

• Revereware. While waiting for my friend to arrive in Little Italy, I wandered around The Freedom Trail for a while. Boston is a great walking city, packing a lot of great sites in a fairly small area. You can even walk part of the path Paul Revere took on his famous "midnight ride" to warn patriots about British troops arriving, starting at his house (which is now a small museum)...

Paul Revere's House

Paul Revere Statue

Old NorthCcurch Sign

Old North Church
One if by land, Two if by Sea!

• History. The bad thing about Boston is that everything is hugely expensive. The art museums here are anywhere from $12 to $17, which is pricey when you consider I just came from London where many of the greatest artistic treasures ever made are free to look at. New York isn't any less expensive, but at least they have The Met (one of the greatest art museums in the world) with only a suggested donation admission (where you can literally pay one penny and see everything). The good thing about Boston is that their greatest treasures... historical sites and beautiful parks... are free to wander around...

Old Courthouse
The Old Courthouse... site of the Boston Massacre!

Boston Common Park
A small slice of beautiful Boston Common park.

The State House at Boston Common
The Massachusetts State House at Boston Common.

• Graveling. Call me macabre, but the old cemeteries in Boston are probably my favorite attraction. Not only can you see where a number of famous historical figures are buried, but you can also spend hours looking at the tombstones, which are brilliant, beautiful, and sometimes even funny...

Boston Cemetery

Tombstone
Here lies buried in a stone grave 10 feet deep Daniel Malcom...

Tombstone
The workmanship is really quite beautiful.

And thus ended my very short trip to Boston, where I then hopped the shuttle back to New York for dinner at Ray's Pizza.

Mmmmm... pizza...

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Broadway

Posted on Monday, April 6th, 2009

Dave!Sigh. It's my last day in New York.

Times Square has pretty much become a tourist wasteland, which means you run into all kinds of crazy advertising that's inundating you with a non-stop stream of exaggeration and outright lies... like billboards claiming "Dollhouse is this year's most exciting television show!" and "Sean Hannity on FOX News... You Know He's Right!". But the best hype of all comes from the Broadway critic teaser quotes that are plastered on the outside of the theaters. They're all so ridiculously over the top that one has to question the sanity of it all. There's a lot to choose from, but here's my favorite so far...

Ache With Pleasure Sign

Now, when I see a sign advertising something as being "so exciting it makes you ache with pleasure," the last thing I expect to see when I turn around is THIS...

West Side Story

West Side Story?!? Uhhh... seriously? I don't even think anybody gets naked in it!

What kills me is the insane shit that critics will say just to get their stupid crap quoted and their name up in lights.

I'm seriously thinking that I missed my calling, because whoring for critic quote recognition is a job I was MADE for...

 

THIS IS ONE PUSSY THAT'S SO INTENSE... SO DELICIOUS... SO PLEASURABLE...
YOU'LL BE PAYING TO EXPERIENCE ITS THRILLING SENSATIONS AGAIN AND AGAIN!
David Simmer II — Blogography

Cats

 

WHEN IT COMES TO ORGASM-INDUCING ACTS, NOTHING CAN COMPETE WITH WATCHING
THIS HOT MAMMA OPEN HER MOUTH AND PERFORM HER MAGIC ON YOU!
David Simmer II — Blogography

Mamma Mia

 

HERE'S A WILD ANIMAL SO VORACIOUS AND SEXY IT WILL DEVOUR YOUR DESIRE AND LEAVE YOU
BEGGING TO BE RAVAGED SOME MORE! I WAS ROARING WITH GRATIFICATION AND ESTACY!
David Simmer II — Blogography

The Lion King

 

LOOKING FOR A PLEASURE THAT'S DEEPER, WETTER, AND MORE SATISFYING THAN YOU'VE EVER KNOWN?
I HAVE A SWEET PIECE OF TAIL IN MIND YOU'LL BE DYING TO TRY OUT FOR YOURSELF!
David Simmer II — Blogography

The Little Mermaid

   

And on that note, I should probably go to bed and try to get at least a little sleep tonight. These early-morning flights are killing me.

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Day One: Seattle

Posted on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Dave!The day started out really crappy but ended really great. In-between was a whirlwind of activity that I can barely remember...

Airplane Chop!
iPhone seems to get freaked out by high-speed motion.

   

Meh. Tomorrow is when it all begins anyway...

   

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Day Two: Santa Fe

Posted on Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Dave!HELLO NEW MEXICO!!!

The TequilaCon Planning Posse arrived safely in Albuquerque around 1:00 (sans Brandon, who showed up fashionably late). Unfortunately, there's a massive "pow-wow" event here and we had to wait 40 minutes to get our van before we headed up to Santa Fe where good times could ensue.

But even more important than all the alcohol we drank... we got new hats, bitches!

Dave in a Hat!

Dave in a Hat!

All I need are some boots and a turquoise belt buckle, and I think I'm set.

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Day Three: Taos

Posted on Friday, April 24th, 2009

Dave!Last night ran kind of late, so our plans for an early-morning drive to Taos had to be delayed so we could sleep in... and buy boots.

Because the hats we bought yesterday weren't enough. Wearing them with tennis shoes would be an offense to man, God, and nature, so we decided to go shopping for new footwear. The problem is that a new pair of decent boots are really, really expensive. Lucky for us, there are plenty of used boot stores around. A good pair of used boots can be found for under $100.

Like mine. They are pointy. And shiny. And black...

Dave's New Black Boots

Then it was off to Taos, where we drank beer...

Jenny Drink Beer

Brought law and order to the streets...

Sheriff Brandon

Visited the nearby village of Taos Pueblo...

Taos Pueblo Village

Taos Pueblo Village Church

And drove across the steel bridge crossing the Rio Grande...

Rio Grande Bridge

The Rio Grande

Jenny and Mel on the Rio Grande Bridge

And stopped at the beautiful San Francisco Asis church...

San Francisco Asis Church

Mary Statue at Asis

The trip back to Santa Fe was made very interesting when we ran across a road block on the highway. Rather than being able to drive back in a straight-shot, Jenny had to take an hour detour through the mountains. Even now, we're not exactly sure why the road was closed.

And now that we finally made it back home again, it's time to get serious about TequilaCon, which is happening TOMORROW NIGHT! There's a lot of work still to be done. A lot of plans yet to be made. A lot of beer left to be drank...

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Day Four: Santa Fe

Posted on Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Dave!Today was supposed to be dedicated to getting ready for TequilaCon. But before we could get started on assembling swag bags, tagging lanyards, and polishing our boots, a quick trip downtown was needed for some last-minute shopping.

Santa Fe is a beautiful city because all the buildings are pueblo-style like this...

Santa Fe Building

Which is not to say there aren't scarier elements to be found...

PEZ Warrior

The heart of the city is The Plaza, which is nice for walking around and enjoying the sunshine...

Santa Fe Plaza

I found a few more Virgin Mary statues to add to my collection...

Mary Statue

We also managed to squeeze in some time at the Georgia O'Keefe Museum. The artwork was, as expected, fantastic. But the thing I loved most was the amazing quotes that were sprinkled around the building. It really helped to put the works in context, and I was disappointed to find that my $40 museum art book didn't include them...

O'Keefe Museum

And tonight... it's TequilaCon time...

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Bullet Sunday 129: TequilaCon Edition

Posted on Sunday, April 26th, 2009

Dave!It's Bullet Sunday from beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico! I am still in an alcohol-induced Bad Place right now, so we'll see how it goes...

• Assembly. When planning out TequilaCon, you really never know how things are going to go. The biggest question mark is always the venue. Will the establishment embrace the insanity and welcome us, or will they tell us to get the hell out? To see exactly how that was going to play out, we marched down to The Pink Adobe an hour early. Much to our relief, they were definitely willing to help out. Our server, Jessica (who was amazing from start to finish), set us up in a private room upstairs... complete with a private balcony and bathroom! While we were waiting for the space to be set up, we got the party started...

TQ2009 Planning Posse Boots
Looking plenty cowboy in our new boots.

TQ2009 Getting Started with Drinks
Of course, nobody in Santa Fe actually dresses like this.

Jagermeister and Coke
My dangerous dance with Jägermeister begins once again.

• Space The venue was absolutely perfect in every possible way, as Jenny can attest...

Jenny Gets Excited
My name is Nathaniel... I like to DANCE!

• Party Somehow, TequilaCon always seems to work out perfectly. As if Fate has determined that TequilaCon is blessed by the gods or something. This time was no exception. I'm pretty sure that everybody had a most excellent time. Tons of photos are sure to be posted around the internets soon, but here's a couple to get things started...

Tequila People
Tequila People in our personal party space.

Tequila People
Partaking of the powerfully painful Black Dragon signature cocktail.

• Surprise. In what can only be called the TequilaCon surprise of the decade, Dustin flew in at the last minute so that TEQUILA MAN could make an appearance...

Tequila Man
Get ready for... TEQUILA MAN!!

TequilaCon Planning Posse
The Official TequilaCon Planning Posse strikes a pose with Tequila Man.

Once the bar closed down at The Pink Adobe, we wandered the streets of Santa Fe until we found a new bar to hang out in. The official party came to a close at midnight... but some dedicated TequilaConners carried on until the early morning.

All in all... another amazing event. Thanks to everybody who came, the city of Santa Fe, and the gracious staff at The Pink Adobe for putting up with our madness.

Until next year!

   

Day Five: Albuquerque

Posted on Monday, April 27th, 2009

Dave!Since Bullet Sunday was my TequilaCon recap, I saved what I actually did for today. So just pretend it's Sunday and everything will make sense. Or not. Does anything ever really make sense on this blog?

Most everybody went home on Sunday, whereas Vahid and I decided to stick around an extra day. We hitched a ride from Brandon into Albuquerque, where it was assumed that we'd find lots of cool stuff to do. It is, after all, the biggest city in the great state of New Mexico. Never mind that the two things we most wanted to see (Petroglyph National Monument and Sandia Peak Tramway) were out of reach, we were convinced we'd find other awesome stuff to do instead.

And boy did we ever!

Our first stop, was the $8 admission National Museum of Nuclear Science & History. This is actually the "new" version of this museum, having just opened recently in a new location with a brand new building...

Nuclearmuseum1

As a disclaimer, I should preface my critique of the NMONSAH by saying that I have been involved in designing museum displays in the past. It is not an easy task, but it can be a fun and challenging one... so long as you remember the three rules of how exhibit-oriented theme museums work:

  • The museum should tell a story that has a beginning, middle, and end, and lead the visitor through the story in a straight-forward manner... yet not trap them into areas they might want to bypass.
  • The museum should offer two levels of depth (fast/superficial and slow/deep) for two different audiences (adults and kids).
  • The museum should explain the subject matter in an entertaining way.

Unfortunately, The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History fails at all three, despite having such a killer concept and a vast wealth of material to draw from. To be fair, they are probably still working on stuff since the museum is so new, but there are fundamental flaws in the current approach that aren't going to be fixed without a major overhaul.

To start out with, the layout is awful. Not only does it not lead the visitor through the story, it's so badly planned that it's easy to miss stuff, and you have to wander back through areas you've already been in order to see everything. There's no "quick facts" tract for the rushed visitor, no in-depth tract for the intensive visitor... just a mash of "stuff" all jumbled together with no context and little explanation. And while there's toys to play with that are supposed to explain nuclear energy, there's no actual diagrams or displays to tell you what's going on. This is fatal, because every exhibit in the entire museum relies on understanding nuclear energy! Oh well. We tried to have fun anyway...

One of the exhibits was an old uranium mining car. Heaven only knows how much residual radiation had soaked into the metal after all those years, but we took no chances...

Vahid exposed to a uranium mining car.

There's a kind of outdoor plane and missile park, but it's still under construction. Hopefully at some point they will have signs telling you what everything means, because right now it's just a bunch of stuff...

A big plane.

They had reconstructions of Fat Man and Little Boy, though the yellow color on Fat Man didn't seem entirely accurate when compared to archived photos...

Fat Man and Little Boy

Everything else was just a random collection of stuff that somehow tied to nuclear energy, like this Geiger Counter...

Geiger Counter

After the Nuclear Museum, we hopped a $1 bus back to Old Town so we could visit the American International Rattlesnake Museum. It's a tiny $3.50 admission museum, but it gets everything right. There's plenty of cool snakes to look at. There's lots of information for both kids and adults. They even have films explaining how snakes and turtles evolved. On top of all that, they try their best to educate visitors as to the benefits that snakes have for the environment. Two thumbs way up!

Snake!

Snake on Snake Action!

Cute Turtle

Since most everything in Albuquerque appears to close on Sunday, there wasn't much else to do but wander around. The plaza for Old Town is pretty nice though...

Old Town Albuquerque Park

Albuquerque Church

All that was left for us was dinner at Fuddruckers and a wake-up. Our TequilaCon adventure had come to an end.

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Medicinal

Posted on Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Dave!Yesterday's flight home was looking fairly uneventful.

At least it was until I woke up in the middle of the night with that tell-tale agony of a kidney stone working its way down my urinary tract. Then the day became very eventful. I have no idea if this is the original kidney stone I had problems with a while back... or if it's one of the two remaining stones taking up residence in my internal organs. It didn't really matter though, as I never leave home without an entire medicine cabinet's worth of pain killers and other medicinal goodness. I took a handful of pills, waited for them to take effect, then headed to the airport with Vahid for my journey home.

I had mentally prepared myself for the very real possibility that I would be in alternating states of agony and a drugged-out stupor for a week or so. But, after picking up more pills this morning, something incredible happened... all the pain suddenly stopped. I was able to get through the rest of my day just fine and drug-free. Pleasant surprise or devious feint? Only time will tell.

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Worldly

Posted on Monday, May 4th, 2009

Dave!I have been to many places and am lucky to have seen more of the world than most people ever will. And yet, in the grand scheme of things, I've barely scratched the surface. I've never even touched South America or Australia. Major cities like Moscow, Prague, and Mumbai have escaped me. There are so many amazing things on this planet that I will never get around to experiencing, and it always depresses me to think about it.

It's questions like "What if I die before I see Angkor Wat?" that keep me up at night.

People who travel a lot will know exactly what I mean. People who don't get to travel much will probably think this makes me a colossal asshole. And that's okay, I guess. Except I have worked hard and sacrificed a lot to go the places I've been, and am very grateful for the opportunities I've had which have allowed me to do so. Wanting more is just human nature...

Dave Explorers

I've written about this all before, but today something happened which gave me a new perspective on the matter.

I was walking to the mini-mart when I saw some guy standing in the doorway of his motor-home spouting off about all the millions of places he's been and the millions of things he's done. His audience was two older ladies who stood there patiently listening to him toss out the names of cities, parks, events, and sights he's visited. Intrigued, I stood off to the side listening to the conversation, which the man eventually summed up by saying "Yep, I've pretty much seen it all."

My first thought was "I'll bet this guy hasn't even been outside of North America!" because all the places he mentioned were in the US and Canada. This was worth a chuckle, because it always amuses me how some people think that the USA is the entire world.

But one of the ladies did me better...

"Well, you weren't there when I gave birth to my three children, so I guess you haven't seen everything after all."

I would trade ten trips to Angkor Wat to have this kind of life wisdom.

   

Day Three: Savannah

Posted on Friday, May 8th, 2009

Dave!It may appear that I'm writing two entries today. The truth is that I'm writing three entries, because I am also guest-blogging over at Wayne's place.

Savannah is arguably one of the most beautiful cities on earth. I've only been here once before, and barely had time to drive around for a bit before I had to be on my way. This time around probably won't be much different, because I'm working right up until the day I leave. But I still manage to sneak in glances when I can. Today on my lunch I wandered downtown and meandered through some of the beautiful squares that dot the city. These swathes of green are beautiful refuges that, along with the remarkable buildings, give Savannah it's unique character...

Savannah Monument

Savannah Square

Savannah Church

After finishing up work I was going to explore the city at night, but decided to relax at a movie theater instead. I'm still recovering from my bought with food poisoning, and watching a good film would take my mind off things. But which movie to choose? The Hannah Montana Movie or Star Trek?

I went with Star Trek...

Dave Spock

The movie was shockingly brilliant. It somehow managed to respect the material that came before it (literally!) but strike out in a bold new direction that is positively thrilling. Not only is this film dangerously close to dethroning Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home as my favorite Star Trek movies... but it may very well be one of the best science fiction flicks ever made. It's that good.

And now... let's see if some sleep will make me all better.

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Day Four: Savannah

Posted on Saturday, May 9th, 2009

Dave!Having to travel for work is a mixed blessing. On one hand, you do get to go places and see things you might not otherwise have a chance to. On the other hand, when you do go places you are working, and may still not have a chance to see things you want to see.

Such is the case with me in Savannah, where I am tied up the entire day. The only time I have to myself is a one-and-a-half-hour lunch. I also have the evening, but most things close at night and I'm too tired to want to go see them anyway. This makes for a very busy lunch time, as I rush around trying to see as much as I can.

Today was especially challenging because Jester had told me that I absolutely must visit the Bonaventure Cemetery, which is about 15 to 20 minutes outside of town. There are tours that go there, but they take hours, so my only option was to take a taxi and then pay the driver to wait for me while I goof around for a half hour. It was very expensive.

But worth every last penny...

Boneventure Cemetery Walk

Boneventure Cemetery Walk

Boneventure Cemetery Walk

Boneventure Cemetery Walk

I was expecting to see the renowned "Bird Girl" statue (made famous in the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), but it has been moved to the Telfair Museum in town...

Bird Girl statue on the book cover

I could have explored the cemetery for hours, but duty called, and I was speeding back to Savannah before I knew it.

After dinner I was dead-tired but intent on walking down historic River Street at least once during this trip...

Sunset on River Street in Savannah

Sunset on River Street in Savannah

Sunset on River Street in Savannah

What a way to end my day.

   

Day Six: Orlando

Posted on Monday, May 11th, 2009

Dave!My original plan after having finished work in Savannah was to make my pilgrimage to Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach, SC... the theme park that's licensed out by the Hard Rock Cafe. In my quest to visit all things Hard Rock, it's a glaring absence on my list. But the theme park had been having money problems, and ultimately ended up in bankruptcy with a promise to re-open in Spring of 2009. But instead it was sold to somebody else. And since it was no longer a Hard Rock Park, there was no reason for me to visit.

So what to do with my two trade-out days? It has to be something quick and close-by.

Why not visit Hilly-Sue and see her new house in Orlando?

So here I am.

Hanging out with Hilly and visiting some of the cheesy attractions I haven't been to before on previous trips...

TITANIC: THE EXPERIENCE

When you visit this attraction, you have two choices... you can either be accompanied by guides in period costumes who will tell "their" stories of being on the Titanic. Or you can go it alone on a self-guided tour. We decided to go self-guided, just in case the place sucked, so we wouldn't be trapped for an hour on a tour.

And thank heavens we did, because the "Titanic Experience" is pretty lame. We spent most of our time trying to escape, but they lock you in...

Hilly tries to escape the Titanic Experience

As we were entering the museum, I made some smart-assed comment to the ticket guy about going to see Jack and Rose (from the Titanic movie) to which he replied "THEY DIDN'T EXIST!!" I found this funny, because at every turn of the attraction they tried to squeeze in all the scenes where Jack and Rose were at in the movie...

Hilly's Handprint on The Sex Car

I expected the "Captain's Bridge" to have some cool effects... like giant computer screens outside the windows so you could pretend you were steering the ship or something. But no... it's just a wheel bolted to the floor of a small room, so it's like steering a ship at midnight with sunglasses on...

Dave Captain's The Titanic

Since this was the Titanic "Experience," you'd think that you'd get to "experience" stuff. But you really don't... it's more like a museum than an attraction... though they do have a room with a small cut-out of an iceberg that has ice glued on the front so you can "experience" what an iceberg is like. Hilly says it's cold...

Hilly Touches Ice

That look on her face pretty much sums up our "Titanic Experience."

RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT MUSEUM

After our disappointment at "The Titanic," we went to the Universal CityWalk to have a few drinks. Since it was a little to early to be falling into the gutters of Orlando just yet, we then took Miss Britt's advice and went to the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum...

Ripleys Building

And, while it was a heck of a lot more interesting that TITANIC: THE EXPERIENCE, it was still pretty tame. Probably because I had already been to the one in San Francisco. My favorite piece was the "Vampire Killing Kit," which I was hoping they sold in the gift shop. But alas, they did not...

Ripley's Vampire Killing Kit with Cross and Holy Water

PIRATE'S DINNER ADVENTURE

As most everybody already knows, I love pirates. So when Hilly reminded me about the Pirate's Dinner Adventure here, we simply had to go. Sure these things are usually cheesy and crappy and the food is bad... but it's pirates, dammit! The building didn't open until 6:00 for the 7:30 show, so we decided to have lots of drinks at the TGI Friday's next door. That way, we could drunkenly stumble across the parking lot and enjoy the show...

Pirates Adventure Building

Now, when it comes to interactive dinner shows... you only get out of it what you put into it. So you can either buy into the experience by putting on your paper pirate hat and cheering on your team... or you can sit back and make snarky comments about how cheesy everything is. We did both...

Dave and Hilly Are Pirates!

And had a really good time!

The show was fun and well-done, and our table was totally into everything...

Pirates Advanture Stage

Yes, some of it was kind of lame... like when Captain Sebastian The Black told Green Pirate Jose that he could have the Gypsy Wench and do whatever he wanted with her. And what did Green Pirate Jose want to do? Why, take her to the top of the mast so they could hang from ropes and spin around! It was actually amazing acrobatics that were cool to watch... but not very pirate-like at all...

Pirates Spinning from the Rafters

The story itself is fairly predictable, and you see what's going to happen from miles away... but they do try to get in some cool sword fights and other piratey goodness...

Pirates Sword-Fighting

Since this is a dinner show, you also get served food. I was expecting the worst... but was pleasantly surprised at how good our meals were. Hilly-Sue had the chicken, which she said was really good. I requested a vegetarian meal and was served a nice cheese lasagna with vegetables. For dessert you get a yummy peach cobbler with ice cream. Not bad at all.

Overall, this is one of the best dinner shows I've ever been to. But there are places for improvement...

  • We paid for an "upgrade" which got us close to the stage where the action was at. But the food service was a downgrade. People in the back rows were always served first, which is backwards from how it should have been. My food, while good, could have been hotter... but people who didn't pay extra got theirs first and piping hot. WTF?!?
  • The drinks were weak. We bought the special "Rum Punch" for $3.50, but could barely taste any alcohol. Rip-off.
  • You have to pay for everything with cash as you get it. You can't run a tab and pay at the end of the night. But, worst of all... gratuity is NOT included! They ask that you tip $5 per person to your server! This is just lame, because it's not like the server ever has the opportunity to do anything special... they just bring out stuff as it's available. For a show like this, the cost should really be all-inclusive.
  • The show is too long. They really need to cut out about 15 minutes of the more repetitive stuff, because it does get tiring after a while. Especially if you've brought kids, which a lot of people did.

   

And that was our day. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

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Day Seven: Orlando

Posted on Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Dave!I've been to Orlando many, many times. Hilly-Sue now lives here. This means that I've covered the major attractions to death... and Hilly will undoubtably be doing so eventually. Because of this, we decided to explore the non-Disney/non-Universal alternatives, which included Titanic, Ripley's, and Pirates Adventure Dinner yesterday, and Holy Land Experience and Sleuths Mystery Dinner today.

The reason I've never been to Holy Land Experience before has nothing to do with my not being a Christian. On the contrary, I've studied The Bible and its origins more than many Christians have, so the "Christian Theme Park" actually seemed interesting to me. No, the reason I've never been before is because it was bought out by TBN: Trinity Broadcast Network. Putting aside my general disdain for televangelists, I have a real problem with TBN. To me, their gaudy sets and demonstrative speakers do more to glorify TBN and their appearance of excessiveness than it does to glorify God. In my humble opinion, this goes against the example set by Jesus, and I choose not to support them with my money.

Quite understandably, it was my assumption that Holy Land Experience would be overrun by TBN with loads of gaudy, tacky, excessive crap. Turns out I was in for quite a surprise...

THE HOLY LAND EXPERIENCE

We arrived during the first of two daily reenactments of The Passion, so the first thing we saw when we get into the park? Jesus getting severely beaten, then crucified. Not exactly going in on a happy note...

Holy Land Crucifixion

But don't worry, he came back a few minutes later...

Holy Land Jesus Returns

There are several "plays" like this throughout the day, and the actors who reenact these stories are excellent. You can tell that their hearts and souls were into doing the material justice. Their dedication to inspire was, in itself, inspirational to see... even if you're not a Christian.

The park itself is just beautiful, and meticulously maintained. Everything is clean and looking like new...

Holy Land Jesus Statue

The showpiece for the entire park is The Scriptorium. It's an incredible treasure trove of religious antiques that explains the expansion of The Bible throughout the world from ancient times to today... all using a collection tablets, scrolls, and books from throughout the ages. From an educational standpoint, this exhibit alone is worth the price of admission...

Holy Land Scriptorium

Another of their prized exhibits is a scale model of ancient Jerusalem. It fills an entire room, and they have regular presentations throughout the day to explain how the city was in the time of Jesus...

Holy Land Jerusalem Model

There's a section for kids as well, mostly centered around a Noah's Ark theme. You can also go inside the belly of a whale and see what Jonah was up to when he got swallowed. I have no idea what's going on or what happened to his other sandal, but being digested by a whale looks like good times...

Holy Land Jonah in The Whale

All in all, The Holy Land Experience was very well done... not the tacky mess I was expecting from TBN. If you have any interest in The Bible, it's worth a look. If you'd like to learn more about the life and times of Jesus and the foundations of Christianity, it's well worth a look. The only problems I could see were A) the park is rather small with limited things to do, which is partially offset by the low price and free parking, and B) They don't really have enough covered seating and proper viewing space for some of the presentations. In the scorching Florida heat, it's kind of harsh to ask people to stand in the blazing sun for extended periods of time like this.

SLEUTHS MYSTERY DINNER SHOW

After leaving The Holy Land Experience, we had some dessert, got caught in a torrential downpour (complete with thunder and lightning strikes), then wandered The Millenium Mall until our dinner show began at Sleuths Mystery Dinner Theater...

Sleuths Dinner Show

I thought it would be hard to top the Pirates Adventure from last night, but Sleuths was pretty darn good and managed to do just that. Basically, there's a rotating series of interactive plays where a murder occurs, and it's the job of you and your fellow guests to figure out who did it.

The cast was skilled and very entertaining, which is what made the show work so well. As with Pirates, the food was also pretty respectable, and I enjoyed my meal of (once again) cheese lasagna.

About the only thing that sucks about this place is something that (unfortunately) the actors have no control over... and that would be the other people sitting at your table. When we first got there, we sat down with a couple of guys who were great. But then the OBNOXIOUS DRUNKS showed up. A short while after that, the SLOPPY OLD DRUNKS showed up and completed our table.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for getting a little blasted and having a good time at these things... but you have to draw the line when the drunken antics of a few people start to ruin it for everybody. The OBNOXIOUS DRUNKS would be generally disruptive and annoying while the performers were trying work, and that absolutely took away from my ability to enjoy the show. And don't get my started about the SLOPPY OLD DRUNKS... the female of that duo was scary as hell. Without going into details, lets just say I got to see a lot more of this crazy old lady than I ever wanted to see.

As for the mystery itself... it was surprisingly well done. They absolutely give you all the clues you need to solve the puzzle, and that's pretty slick. Each table gets to ask a question of the suspects. I had a question which would have confirmed what I needed to know to solve it, but the OBNOXIOUS DRUNKS were wanting a question about stupid shit that made no sense, so that's what we got. I went ahead and guessed my suspicions anyway, and ended up being right. This put me in the drawing for a prize, which ended up being a cheesy magnifying glass that I won.

All in all, despite the drunks at our table, Hilly-Sue and I had a good time at the show. I'd definitely go again to take in another one of the mysteries they offer.

   

And thus ends my last day in Orlando. Thanks, Hilly!

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Mini

Posted on Saturday, May 30th, 2009

Dave!I am hanging out with my sister and family for the weekend. This is a good thing, because we mini golfed and stuff!

My foot. A golf club. A golf ball.A Mike's Hard Lemonade.
Ultimate golf combo!!

Dave declares mini-golf victory!
Declaring victory after a hole-in-one.

Hole #7: Tatoosh Meadows
TatOOOOOOsh! TatOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOsh!! Plus Fosters... it's Australian for beer!

Golfer Dave
I am so totally golfing here!

A couple of random things...

  • Even when mini-golfing drunk, I can still come in at two under par. That this is two under children's par doesn't bother me. Considering how much I've had to drink, I am totally operating at a children's brain capacity here*.
  • Cyndi Lauper came out with a new album last year and I didn't even know it. Recently discovered the single "Echo" and am in love with Cyndi now. How did somebody responsible for unleashing "Girl's Just Want to Have Fun" come up with something like this?
  • There is no step three.

And now, I must bid your adieu. I have to get up entirely too early tomorrow.

   

*Assuming the child in question was drunk.

   

Crazies

Posted on Monday, June 8th, 2009

Dave!I don't know what it is about me, but I sure do attract the crazies.

Probably because I am a crazy, which I haven't ruled out.

It doesn't matter where I go on this planet, I always seem to end up in some kind of messed up situation with my fellow humans. I've been attacked by a drunken knife-weidling moron in Seattle. I've been chased five blocks by a crack-head in Cleveland who wanted my phone. I've been felt up by gypsies trying to find my wallet in Rome. I've been mugged at gun-point by a psychopath in San Francisco who talked to himself. The list goes on and on. Ask Vahid about the time we were walking down the street in Albuquerque and was accosted by a spaced-out "purebred Italian Mexican" who wanted to have his fellow alcoholics kick our asses... everywhere I end up, the crazies come running.

Tonight, after going to the movies and watching The Hangover I was walking to Johnny Rockets for dinner when another one came out of the woodwork...

Homeless Guy: Hey have you got any change... a nickel... anything?
   
Dave2: (looking up at him from his iPhone) No, sorry, I don't have any cash at all (looks back down at his iPhone).
   
Homeless Guy: Hey! What were you thinking just now?
   
Dave2: (looking back up) Err... I was thinking I don't have any change on me...
   
Homeless Guy: (getting angry for no reason) No. NO! What were you THINKING when YOU first saw ME?!?
   
Dave2: I was thinking "Why is this asshole being so RUDE to me when I'm trying to be NICE?"
   
Homeless Guy: I WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU WERE THINKING!!
   
Dave2: WELL, RIGHT NOW I'M THINKING "FUCK OFF!" SO WHY DON'T YOU LEAVE ME ALONE?

He was still calling "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?" after me as I was crossing the street. And I still don't know what I did to set him off. I treated him with courtesy and respect. I looked him in the eye when I spoke to him. I was as nice as I could be when I explained I didn't have any cash, but it didn't make any difference. I dunno... maybe there's something about me that makes people crazy. That would explain a lot.

And it didn't end there... after dinner I was crossing the street and some guy with a tourist map wants my help. I thought he was going to ask for directions, so I stopped. Instead he told me that he picked his mother up from Swedish Hospital after surgery, and now he doesn't have enough money for gas to get her home. This made no sense at all, because he was downtown when Swedish is up on First Hill, but I guess I have to give him the benefit of doubt since he seemed to be lost. In any event, I'm guessing his mother is stuffed in a car somewhere on the side of the road after surgery, and this makes me sad. If I actually had any money, I probably would have given him a couple bucks, even though this goes against my beliefs of causing no harm.

In any event, it was nice to just be alone for a while after such an exhausting day. It doesn't hurt that The Hangover was such an awesome movie. Most comedies today take some stupid joke and then repeat it to death until the entire movie is run into the ground. The Hangover was refreshingly different. They never let the funny get repetitive or stale, so I was laughing all the whole way through. That almost never happens anymore. Kudos to writers Jon Lucas & Scott Moore, director Todd Phillips, and a fantastic cast and crew for a job well done. A particularly well-deserved shout-out to Bradley Cooper, who took an annoying character that would have driven me insane in most any other movie, and made him totally watchable and brilliant. I liked Cooper in Alias, loved him in Kitchen Confidential, and have been pleasantly surprised at his appearances in movies like Wedding Crashers... I hope he gets more leading roles out of his home-run performance in The Hangover.

And now I should probably call it a night. Tomorrow is a very long day.

   

Baby

Posted on Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Dave!I had such a great time watching The Hangover at the movies last night, that I was planning on seeing a different film tonight. All day long I've been looking forward to it. But as the day became night... the exhaustion set in and suddenly none of the movies seemed good enough for me to make the effort. Terminator: Salvation was almost there, but I've read too many shitty reviews to risk it sucking. I guess I could have seen Star Trek for the third time but, given how tired I am, twice was good enough. Instead I walked to Johnny Rockets for yet another amazing vegetarian burger, then headed back to the hotel so I can blog and get ready for work tomorrow. My life is so exciting right now.

Meanwhile...

Work doesn't seem to be moving very quickly on the new Hard Rock Cafe in Seattle. It looks the same as it was months ago. Maybe they're just working on the inside where you can't see it right now...

Hard Rock Seattle under construction

Given what a colossal Hard Rock whore I am, I'm understandably excited about the new cafe. My biggest worry was that Seattle would get a shitty property, but the artist sketch from the Official Hard Rock Cafe website looks fantastic...

Hard Rock Seattle sketch

They're taking a classic old building and turning it into something special, which is what the best Hard Rocks do. They've also got a great spot... just one block from the Pike Place Market entrance. Hopefully it will do well so the location can stay open for a while... I'd be heartbroken if the cafe I've been waiting over two decades for shuts down after only a year or two. That would suck worse than never having one at all.

I just hope the guitar is right-side up on the finished building. It looks really funny up-side down in that sketch.

   

But what I REALLY hope that the baby in the room across the hall will settle down eventually. It's been screaming almost non-stop for THREE HOURS now. I need sleep tonight!

   

Zero

Posted on Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Dave!I have a pile of work that won't go away. I have 138 unread messages in my email in-box. I have hundreds of unread blog posts. I even have a box of Junior Mints that is only half-finished... when am I supposed to find time to do all that stuff?

Probably after I drive home on Sunday.

But I'm not counting on it.

Every day when I pull into work, a cat jumps onto the hood of my car and attempts to break in. I like him, and have named him Psycho Cat because he never blinks... he just sits there and stares at you with crazy eyes. This morning he ran all around my car looking for a way inside. Eventually he was smart enough to stand on the door, apparently knowing that I had to open it sometime...

Psycho Cat on my car door

Psycho Cat breaks in my car

Psycho Cat ready to attack and be petted

At this point he hopped on my lap and demanded to be petted.

Vicious.

Since I am going to a conference tomorrow morning and a graduation party tomorrow night, I decided to make time for a haircut after work. Fortunately, I'm in Seattle, which has my favorite place to get a haircut ever, Zero Zero...

Zerozerohairlogo

I don't usually endorse businesses on my blog, but this is the coolest place for hair I've found, and the icing on the cake is that they're pretty darn affordable for a full-service salon (my cut was only $25!). But don't take my word for it, read all the rave reviews on Yelp! If you're in Seattle and looking for a stylist, you might want to give Zero Zero a try.

Since it's almost midnight, I suppose I should try to get some sleep.

Work, email, blogs, and Junior Mints will have to wait until tomorrow.

HA HA HA HA!

I lie. I am so totally going to finish off those Junior Mints now...

   

ConFab

Posted on Saturday, June 13th, 2009

Dave!Originally, I wasn't going to be able to attend ConFab in beautiful Lexington, Kentucky because I had previous plans. But eventually everything came together and I flew out of Seattle last night at 10:30pm, arriving at LEX around 10:30am this morning (via Detroit). It was a very, very long night with practically no sleep (which is why I am so very grateful to Mr. Shiny for picking me up at the airport!).

But it was all worth it, because Brad and Turnbaby truly outdid themselves, and a fantastic group of fun people turned up for the party. I had a great time, and once again was amazed at the kind, funny, generous, entertaining, wonderful people you can meet in the blogosphere.

I decided to wear my pirate shirt, which was accompanied by hair styling from Miss Britt and eye makeup from Hilly-Sue. Being a pirate kicked up my innate* hotness up to eleven, and my customized drinking cup completed the ensemble...

Dave2 Cup

Now, according to Twitter, I had sex with everybody at the party and snorted heroin off of Karl's ass. This is a bit of an exaggeration.

So far as I know, the only person who got any pussy tonight was Hilly-Sue...

Hilly Kitty

And now, since I have to fly back home in the morning and it's already 2:30am, I suppose I should get some sleep.

Or at least try to.

   

*And by "innate" I obviously mean "nonexistent."

   

Guitars

Posted on Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Dave!I travel a lot.

Now, "a lot" is relative, and there are people who travel even more than I do... but I definitely get around. Last year it was to the tune of 138,000 miles flown. This year I'm already within spitting distance of frequent flier Platinum status, and the year is only half over.

My point is, when it comes to airplane-related incidents, I've just about seen it all. I've been on a plane where a fire broke out. I've seen a drunken asshole have to be restrained and eventually removed. I've been in an uncontrolled landing. I've been through a bird strike. And a lightning storm. Twice. I've been stuck on the tarmac. I've been stranded, rerouted, and rejected. The list goes on and on.

Of course I've had my luggage lost. And damaged.

Once my luggage was lost as I was flying to a meeting in San Frncisco. The airline kept promising me that the luggage would turn up, and told me not to buy any new clothes because mine were on the way. Finally, after a dozen phone calls over two days with no suitcase, I explained that I had to buy a new suit for my meeting. And since the airline made me wait so long, there was no time for alterations... I had to find a suit off the rack that would fit. And the only one I could find was a $1100 Calvin Klein.

Naturally, the airline categorically refused to pay for that large of an expense... even though it was entirely their fault. It was their fault they lost my luggage. It was their fault they lied about getting it to me. It was their fault they made me wait until it was too late to alter a cheaper suit. It took months of negotiation before I came to a settlement that covered only half my expenses, but the airlines were such assholes about the whole ordeal that I felt lucky to get that much.

So when I see this really cool video by Dave Carroll making the rounds on the internet, I can sympathize...

Of course, we don't know United's side of things here... but this seems so typical that I don't doubt the guy's story one bit. There were witnesses as to the abusive handling, and he did try to report it before the plane even took off, so it's not like United can claim it was "normal wear and tear." They fucked up. They should have to pay for it.

And so now they are.

With a public relations nightmare that's only going to get worse as this thing goes viral (and it will, because the video is so well done that people are going to want to watch it, even if they choose to ignore the message).

So sad that it always seems to have to come to this, but that's modern customer service for you.

UPDATE: And that didn't take long... apparently NOW United Airlines is interested in doing the right thing. But you just know that there are lots of people out there who aren't going to get a fair shake because they don't have the talent Dave Carroll does to make a video. Sad, really.

   

Miyazaki

Posted on Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Dave!Imagine that there's somebody whose work you so admire that they inspire you every day. Imagine that what this artist creates fills you with such joy that your life is better because of it. Imagine that this visionary is one of your greatest personal heroes and you obsess over everything they've released.

Now imagine that this person has decided to make a rare public appearance to discuss these works which have been an inspiration to you for your entire adult life... and you have an opportunity to see them do so live and in person.

That's exactly what happened to me when I found out that animation legend Hayao Miyazaki would be speaking in Los Angeles today.

Needless to say, I jumped at the chance. You just don't pass up an opportunity to attend a lecture with the man responsible for My Neighbor Totoro...

Totoro!

Blogging buddy Howard (from the Web Pen Blog) and I attended the event, and it was an amazing, incredible, wonderful night.

Too many times the best days of our lives go by unnoticed and are only realized upon reflection.

I know this was one of the best days of my life.

   

To read more about Hayao Miyazaki, here's a Wikipedia entry.

But to really understand him, just go watch his films.

   

CatBus

Posted on Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Dave!I am back home for seven hours before I have to turn around and leave again. That's just enough time to pack a fresh suitcase, print my travel documents, grab dinner, and get a couple hours of sleep.

I've had it worse.

The only problem is that my internet is all flakey, so I have to spend my final hours of freedom disconnected from the world. I can't decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, I'm so far behind on reading blogs and responding to email that I may now never get caught up. On the other hand, I can sit down and watch My Neighbor Totoro for the millionth time. I'm still riding on my high from seeing Miyazaki-san last night, and want to take a look at the film while his comments are still fresh in my head. Fortunately, it's a movie I never get tired of watching, and I discover something new every time I watch it.

Besides, I love NekoBasu (CatBus)...

CatBus!

Traveling via flying NekoBasu would be a lot more fun than the three airplanes I'm taking tomorrow.

   

Dallas

Posted on Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Dave!Just back from L.A., and now I am off to Atlanta. Via Dallas. Where I met up with a friend and got to see the brand new Hard Rock Cafe that opened up downtown (just across from Hooters!). The opening of a new cafe in Dallas is bittersweet. On one hand, they have a cafe again after two-and-a-half years. On the other hand, it could never live up to the sheer awesomeness of the original Hard Rock Cafe Dallas which was closed and eventually demolished.

This is a darn shame, because the original property was mind-blowing amazing. Seriously, you have no idea. To get an idea, click here to take a tour.

Anyway, the cafe itself is nice, but fairly unimpressive so far as Hard Rocks go. The exterior is just plain sad...

Hard Rock Cafe Dallas

Hard Rock Cafe Dallas

One can only hope that they hang a giant guitar sign outside one day soon to make it look at least a little bit like a Hard Rock Cafe. Because right now it's just so boring. It looks like a parking garage... which is what I think it is.

The interior design follows the new "L.A. Club Chic" look that they put into the Yankee Stadium property. It's not bad, but it doesn't feel very "Hard Rock" to me. It seems way too polished and trendy instead of classic and inviting. Still, it's not like I can blame HRC Corporate for trying a new look in the hopes that it will interest locals. They need new blood and new traffic in order to keep their doors open, and catering only to tourists in the current economy is disastrous...

Hard Rock Cafe Dallas

After dinner, I rushed South so I could ride up Reunion Tower and see the city at dusk...

Dallas Reunion Tower at night

Except it's closed for renovations.

Which is a genius thing to do in the middle of summer when all the tourists are here. Not.

Oh well. Now I'm off to bed so I can try and get a little bit of sleep before leaving again early tomorrow.

   

Davelanta3

Posted on Saturday, August 1st, 2009

Dave!Well today was certainly a big bucket-full of awesome win.

I spent the afternoon with Beth and Kevin, who were kind enough to go to lunch with me, then wander around MODA for a while. But the real treat was when they took me out to Stone Mountain Park. It's a pretty impressive place, featuring the world's largest piece of exposed granite. What makes it truly amazing is what you don't see... because most of this mammoth rock is buried underground. Hard to believe when you can't even fit the small exposed part into your field of vision from the parking lot...

Stone Mountain View

You can take a gondola to the top, which is pretty sweet considering there was no way I was climbing the thing in billion-degree heat!

Stone Mountain Cable Car

From the gondola, people look like ants crawling over the mountain...

Stone Mountain People Ants

Out on top of the rock is quite a view...

On top of Stone Mountain

From there we went back towards Atlanta for Davelanta3 at The Cheesecake Factory where an amazing time was had by all...

Everybody except Julie at Davelanta 3
Kevin, Beth, Diana, Kim, Val, Mr. & Mrs. Muskrat, Heather, and Anissa...
not pictured is Julie, who ditched our sorry asses so she could go to
a much better party with a group of much classier people!

I have to get up for work in four hours, so I'll post my recap, photos, and links tomorrow. But I do want to take a minute to thank everybody for coming. I can't believe what amazing people show up at these things, and it means the world to me that I get to hang out with y'all. How lucky am I to have made such good friends through this silly little blog?

I just hope that I didn't smell too funny after sweating off ten pounds on top of Stone Mountain.

   

Deprived

Posted on Monday, August 3rd, 2009

Dave!Okay then! I got up at 4:00am yesterday so I could get to work on time... it's now almost 10:00pm a day-and-a-half later... that's 42 hours awake. I might have dozed off a couple times, but it didn't amount to any real sleep. That's tough, because even total insomniacs like myself require rest from time to time.

I never could have made it without the distraction of Twitter to keep me from giving up. Whether it was comparing notes of sleeplessness with @TheMuskrat or joking around about Twitter spam with @AnissaMayhew, it was pretty sweet that I was able to find Twitter peeps out there willing to help me stay awake.

Other than an incident where Jesus appeared to me in a bowl of Apple Jacks cereal, I managed to make it through the 42 sleep-deprived hours with my brain pretty much intact.

I now have 8 hours until I have to pack up my stuff and head back to the airport. I'm hoping a good chunk of that will be spent catching up on sleep, but I'm doubtful.

For reasons I can't even guess, I'm not at all tired.

   

Fee

Posted on Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Dave!Here at DaveAir, we understand that when people fly with us they will need to take at least one suitcase with them. This is a basic necessity of travel, WHICH IS WHY WE DON'T FUCKING NICKLE-AND-DIME YOU WITH STUPID-ASS FEES TO CHECK YOUR FIRST FUCKING BAG! BECAUSE IT MAKES NO FUCKING SENSE NOT TO INCLUDE SOMETHING EVERYBODY NEEDS IN THE FUCKING BASE TICKET PRICE! This revolutionary concept sets us apart from most other dumbass carriers in the industry, and has the side-benefit of freeing up space in our overhead bins for a more pleasant flying experience. It also alleviates the bottleneck at check-in that comes from people having to pay an additional fee that should have been included in the ticket price to begin with.

So stop torturing yourself by flying with asshole airlines who deceive you with low ticket prices only to hit you with idiotic additional fees for something everybody needs... fly DaveAir and leave your all-consuming rage behind!

DaveAir... because flying doesn't have to be an exercise in stupidity and torture.*

   

   

*We said flying... dealing with all the airport security nonsense on the ground is your problem.

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District 9

Posted on Friday, August 21st, 2009

Dave!Today started at 3:30am when I awoke to get ready for my early-morning trip to Portland for a quick meeting. Much to my delight, I got finished three hours early, which meant I had three hours to kill in the city before having to return to the airport. This meant a trip to one of my favorite places: Powell's City of Books.

After an all-too-brief (but wholly unexpected and serendipitous) visit to the City of Roses, I headed back to the airport where I ran into Vahid and Sir, for another all-too-brief (but wholly unexpected and serendipitous) visit before flying out to Denver.

So here I am in The Mile High City, which I haven't been to in six long years. That's a darn shame, because I love it here and wish I had an excuse to visit more often. After wandering down to the 16th Street Mall for dinner I saw District 9, a movie that came out of nowhere to become my favorite film of 2009 so far...

District 9 Poster

South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp has recreated the horrors of his country's apartheid days in a surprising way. Instead of white colonists subjecting black natives to racial segregation... human natives are subjecting alien refugees to species segregation. And what wonderful-looking aliens they are...

District 9 Alien

What's astounding here is how fully-realized the world of District 9 is. By the time the film takes place, the aliens have been around for decades and their presence is treated as commonplace. That the actors were able to inhabit this reality so believably is what makes the story so compelling. You simply believe it's happening as you watch it, even though there are these fantastical creatures wandering around.

The film is best experienced clean... with no spoilers or story points to ruin it... so run, don't walk, to a good theater and see it before all the talk about it diminishes the impact for you.

   

Daveorado

Posted on Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Dave!My day wasn't spent wandering around Denver as planned... but working.

I did get out for a quick walk down the 16th Street Mall in the afternoon, but the heat eventually drove me back to my air-conditioned hotel for still more work. And though I didn't finish nearly enough of what I needed to get done, I finally threw in the towel around 4:30.

Because it was time to meet up with Tug, Hot Doctor's Wife, and Howard at the Hard Rock Cafe for Daveorado!

Daveorado

As usual, good conversation and good times ensued. That I get to continuously meet amazing people like this in my travels is a gift for which I'm wholly inadequate at expressing my gratitude. All I can say is thanks to the three of you for taking valuable time out of your Saturday to let me hang out with you. Hopefully it won't be another six years before I am able to come back!

After dinner, Howard and I decided to get our Tarantino on and see Inglourious Basterds. The film was total genius, and I loved every minute of it. Particularly shocking to me was how amazing Brad Pitt is in the flick... this is easily his best performance since 12 Monkeys. But the hands-down standout, scene-stealing role in the film belonged to Christoph Waltz's brilliant portrayal of Col. Hans Landa. The guy had to walk a very fine line to get just the right balance of humor and terror, and did it so admirably that the film was elevated to an entirely new level of greatness...

Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa

I have no idea how Quentin Tarantino does it. He always manages to write exactly the right dialogue, then cast exactly the right actors to speak it, then direct the entire film flawlessly, then pick precisely the right music to drive it all home. I don't think "visionary" manages to adequately express how astounding a talent he is when it comes to crafting a film, but it's the best word I can think of to describe what it is he does.

Which, in this case, is to create a film that has many levels, yet blends them all so subtly that they disappear into a singular brute-force narrative. By the time we get to the film-within-a-film theater scenes (which seem to be a thinly-veiled commentary on all the killing that the audience has been manipulated into rooting for thus far), all I can do is shake my head in disbelief that any one man can possess such talent...

Inglourious Basterds Poster

I can hardly way to see what Quentin comes up with next.

   

Bullet Sunday 146

Posted on Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

Dave!It's another edition of Bullet Sunday... this time coming to you from beautiful Denver, Colorado!

• I love Ponyo. Yet another Miyazaki masterpiece. Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea is such joyous, imaginative, feel-good fun that you don't even need kids as an excuse to go see it. Pretty much a retelling of The Little Mermaid, the oft-told tale of the little girl who wants to be human has never been seen in quite this way. Featuring some of the most mesmerizing traditional animated sequences I've ever seen, this is a stunning film which trounces the animated garbage we've been inundated with lately (hey, they're making a sequel to Happy Feet!)...

Ponyo Teaser Poster

The main character, Sosuke, is so lovingly crafted that you'd swear he was a real little boy... everything from the way he walks to the way he acts is just captivating to watch. While I prefer to see Miyazaki films in their original Japanese, I have to admit that the vocal talent Disney lined up for the American release is pretty stellar (ZOMG! BETTY WHITE & TINA FEY!) and all the actors seem to ring true to the characters they're dubbing. Well worth seeing in a theater for the sheer spectacle of it all... the pastel-rendered backgrounds are beautiful, and demand to be seen on the big screen.

   

Epic Fail in the dictionary: George W. Bush and Johnny Rockets.

• Failure to Launch. I got to the Cherry Creek Center Theater for Ponyo a little early so I could eat dinner at the Johnny Rockets there, only to find out that they didn't have any vegetarian Boca Burgers. AGAIN! Why am I not surprised? After all, I've been denied Boca Burgers in San Francisco (twice), Santa Monica, Seattle University Village (twice), Seattle Pike Place Market, Seattle Pacific Place, Miami Aventura Mall, Seattle South Center, and Kent Station... why should Denver be any different? Still finding it positively absurd that a FROZEN item can't be stocked in such depth that it won't run out 50% of the time a customer would like to order it. If you're not going to bother to watch your inventory, don't bother putting it on the menu so that people like me don't waste their valuable time going to a restaurant expecting to get the food we want.

   

Denver Capitol Building

Union Station Denver

• Denver and Killer Squirrels. After the movie, Howard and Cameron dropped me off downtown so I could take a few photos around the Capitol Building. After goofing around for a bit, I decided to walk back to The 16th Street Mall for dinner and have a look around Union Station. As I was walking through Civic Center Park, I heard something in the tree above me and turned around to look. Much to my surprise it was a very angry squirrel, who glared at me just long enough to let me take a blurry photo of him...

Squirrel Attack

That's when I noticed that squirrels were everywhere, and they had no fear of humans. One little guy was eating a pile of sunflower seeds somebody had left and I was able to sit right next to him. He barely noticed...

Nutty Squirrel

Just for fun, I was going to reach over and grab a few seeds, but didn't want to risk getting bitten and end up with rabies or something. That would be just my luck.

   

Tarantino Movie Posters

• Film by Tarantino. My most consistently favorite director outside of Hayao Miyazaki is Quentin Tarantino. In my capsule review of his latest masterpiece Inglourious Basterds, I said that the word "visionary" was inadequate to describe his cinematic genius. This prompted one reader to ask me how I would rank his films, which would be thusly...

  1. Pulp Fiction. The Tarantino benchmark which instantly established him as one of the world's greatest living writer/directors. Its every scene is masterfully constructed for maximum impact, where even the slow moments serve to amplify the story to an insane degree. Featuring some of the best contemporary dialogue ever written anywhere, Pulp Fiction became one of my favorite films of all time before I was even a quarter of the way through it. How the three stories within the film weave in and out of each other in a non-sequential manner could easily be taken as a cheap filmmaker's gimmick, but Tarantino uses it to genius effect. As if all that weren't enough, Quentin managed to bring together one of the most perfect casts ever assembled, giving us John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Harvey Keitel, Ving Rhames, and Christopher Walken (among others) in the best roles they are likely to ever have. If ever there was a film that encapsulated the word "brilliant" this would be it.
  2. Inglourious Basterds. Everything I wrote about this masterpiece yesterday is only amplified in my mind a day later. Quentin himself says that this is the closest he's gotten to Pulp Fiction and I absolutely agree.
  3. Kill Bill Vol 1 & 2. A revenge flick so epic in scope that Quentin had to break it into two parts. And while I admit the ending was a bit anti-climactic, in this case it's the journey, not the destination, that makes the whole thing worthwhile. The fight scene between Uma Thurman and Lucy Lui is one of the most beautiful ever filmed. The fight scene between Uma and the "Crazy 88" is one of the most brutal ever filmed. The fight scene between Uma and Vivica A. Fox is one of the most engaging ever filmed. The fight scene between Uma and Daryl Hannah has one of the best endings ever filmed. String them all together with Tarantino's patented quirkiness and it's one of the greatest stories of revenge ever seen on the silver screen.
  4. Jackie Brown This film is a love letter from Tarantino to Pam Grier and her blaxsploitation films of the 1970's like Coffy and Foxy Brown. That he actually got Pam Grier to play the lead role rather than casting an imitator just shows how incredibly smart Quentin is when it comes to choosing his actors (we also get Robert DeNiro, Bridget Fonda, Samuel L. Jackson, and Robert Forrester which just confirms it). The story, based on the Elmore Leonard novel Rum Punch, is a crime caper flick so tightly paced and packed with so many brilliant dialogue exchanges that you never want it to end. The world of Jackie Brown lingers long after the credits have rolled.
  5. Reservoir Dogs Tarantino's debut is a hyper-violent heist thriller where the actual heist is never seen. Given that this would be the most interesting part of this movie genre in lesser hands, Quentin manages to create a far more imaginative film by showing everything but the main event. All the things Tarantino would become famous for are here from the very beginning, and it's a thrilling experience that influenced an entire generation of films that would follow. While not for the squeamish and faint-of-heart, this is a film that shows us exactly what cinematic genius is.
  6. Death Proof While decent Tarantino fare that features one of the best car chase sequences ever filmed, this movie pales in comparison to his other efforts. Which means it's still better than the vast majority of the crap which ends up at the local theater, and I enjoyed it quite a lot. Quentin on his worst day knows more about making an entertaining film than many other directors will ever know. Kurt Russell in the lead role as a sadistic misogynist stuntman is just the icing on the cake.

   

&bull Housekeeping Aggressive. One of the most thankless jobs on the planet has to be that of a housekeeper at a hotel. Forgotten entirely when they do their job well, yet persecuted ruthlessly when they make a mistake, the housekeeper is in the ultimate no-win scenario. Historically, I've always endeavored to be excessively kind and generous with housekeeping staff in order to balance out this wrong, but my attitude has been changing as of late. Because, in addition to being the most thankless job, it can also be the most passive-aggressive career in history. And more and more this is getting to be the case. Housekeepers maintain this front of kindness in service, but all too many of them really don't give a shit and, indeed, are actively hostile in their work.

As an example... in the hotel I'm currently staying (which shall remain nameless, because it really doesn't matter) the housekeeping staff is so horrendously noisy each morning that I have no choice but to view it as intentional. And it begins the minute they exit the elevator... laughing and whistling and yelling and screaming and banging and slamming. Never mind that it's still fairly early and people are trying to sleep, they just don't give a fuck. Across the hall from my room is a laundry chute. What they could do is prop the door open so that the soiled linens will pass silently down to the laundry. But what they actually do is let the door slam shut again and again and again, which is an endless source of banging that is so forceful that my walls shake every time. And heaven forbid that you should want to sleep in, because if you stay later than they like, they will purposely create a huge racket outside your door until you ultimately give up and flee the premises. Every drawer is banged. Every word is yelled. Every cleaning tool is rattled. Every door is slammed. Because the housekeepers just don't seem to give a flying fuck anymore. They're up at the crack of dawn doing a thankless job, and they want you to suffer for it. Over and over and over again. One of these days I'm going to have had enough and scream into the hallway as loud as I can "SHUT THE HELL UP!" knowing full-well that it will only encourage them to be louder. Because that's what happens when you mess with people having the most passive aggressive job on earth.

   

Denver at Night

• Farewell to The City. And that's all she wrote. Tomorrow I'll take a trip to some stores I want to check out which were closed today... and then it's off to the airport and other adventures.

   

   

Denver

Posted on Monday, August 24th, 2009

Dave!There are plenty of things I could blog about, but the only thing that's in my head right now is how I get to sleep in tomorrow. For the first time in months I have nothing going in the morning. No calls scheduled. No meetings to attend. No places to be. No flights to catch. Nothing. I could sleep in until noon. Heck, I could sleep in until 5:00pm if I wanted to. The whole concept is so bizarre that I can't quite wrap my head around it.

Of course, the odds of me actually sleeping in are small. I'm sure my insomniac nature will take over and I'll be waking up at 4:00am as usual... and I'll be bored as usual... so I'll start getting some work done as usual. Oh well. I suppose just the thought of being able to sleep in if I wanted to is enough.

Anyway...

This morning started out early because I wanted to visit Denver's very own independent book store... The Tattered Cover. There are a couple locations, but I went to the beautiful LoDo store on the 16th Street Mall (years ago I visited the "original" store in Cherry Creek, but it has since moved). Much like Powell's City of Books in Portland, The Tattered Cover is a wonderful experience for people who love books...

Tattered Cover Book Store

I then walked around the corner to visit The Old Map Gallery. As a die-hard map-lover, I had been really looking forward to seeing the shop... but it was closed. And there were no hours posted, so I didn't stick around. For all I know they could be closed Mondays, and I'd be waiting for nothing (the website isn't much help either). This is probably a good thing, because a look in the window shows that I would have been dangerously close to spending entirely too much money there...

Old Map Gallery Window

From there it was time for lunch at the beautiful Hard Rock Cafe Denver...

Hard Rock Denver Outside

Hard Rock Denver Inside

And then back to the hotel so I could catch my ride to the airport. The sky, which had been blue with scattered clouds when I left in the morning, had become dreary and overcast by afternoon...

Capitol Building Grey Sky Afternoon

And by the time I got to the airport we were on weather delay. Fortunately, it was only 30 minutes, which put us into Salt Lake City just 14 minutes late (it's the old "we'll make up time in the air" trick!). Or would have if we didn't end up in a holding pattern for ten minutes once we got there.

Marty and Reba (of Banal Leakage fame) were then nice enough to pick me up at the SLC airport so we could head to the Rio Grande Cafe for Dave Lake City 3! The last time we were there I was doped up on massive pain killers for kidney stones and couldn't really enjoy it, so I was really looking forward to eating there again. It was (as expected) delicious, and it's always great to hang out with Marty and his better half...

Dave Lake City 3 Badge

And tomorrow, Depeche Mode, baby!

   

UPDATE: Annnnnd... I was up at 5:15am. That's a whole 45 minutes I got to sleep in!

   

Mode

Posted on Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Dave!Saw an absolutely incredible performance by Depeche Mode tonight in Salt Lake City with Marty and WarpedGirl16...

Depeche Mode LIVE!

   

   

For a spoiler-filled set list and some additional photos, you can get all that in an extended entry.

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Calories

Posted on Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Dave!Despite the fact that Salt Lake City's airport is a mere 6 miles from downtown, it will run you about $20 (+tip) for the privilege of being driven there by a taxi. My hotel, however, pushes for a private transportation company which runs an outrageous $25 (+tip). Having fallen for that trick before, I requested a METERED TAXI instead of the private car. This caused the valet to freak out. He started jabbering on about how a taxi would take a half-hour to arrive, and it only saves you $3... AS HE WAS LOADING MY LUGGAGE INTO THE PRIVATE CAR.

Not wanting to argue, I just went along with the scam. But I was fuming, and nobody got a tip.

I don't give a crap if I have to leave five hours early and book the taxi myself, next time these assholes are not getting any of my money. I cannot wait for Salt Lake's local TRAX light rail to be run out to the airport sometime in 2013. Then I'll be able to tell these rip-off taxi companies and hotel scammers to kiss my ass. I mean, seriously, TWENTY-FIVE-DOLLARS? That works out to over $100 an hour! For that kind of insane money, I expect to get blown after my luggage is unloaded.

Anyway...

When my flight arrived at Boise, Idaho, I got a text telling me that my connecting flight to Seattle was delayed. This meant I would miss my final connecting flight home. Seeing that there was a flight leaving immediately, I ran to the gate and managed to get on the earlier plane just as they were closing the doors. My luggage wouldn't make it home, but at least I wouldn't be stuck in Seattle's airport (WITH NO FREE WI-FI!) until midnight.

The upshot being that I would now have a four hour layover in Seattle, which was plenty of time to grab some lunch.

Which is when I overheard this...

GIRL ONE: Do you want a bottle of water with your salad?
   
GIRL TWO: No, I need to cut down on my calories.

Needless to say, I was mystified... calories in WATER?!?

Davesani Water Bottle

Isn't water the stuff where you look at the Nutrition Facts and everything is ZERO... because it's like... fucking WATER?!?

Davesani Nutrition Facts: IT'S WATER YOU DUMBASS!

Just when I think that people couldn't possibly get any more stupid, something comes along to prove me wrong.

Unless there's some new high-calorie water out that I don't know about...

   

Viva

Posted on Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Dave!It will be a weekend to remember.

Or possibly to forget, depending on how much I have to drink.

   

Welcome to Fabulous Las Daveas Sign

   

   

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Vegas Weekend Day 1

Posted on Friday, September 4th, 2009

Dave!And so here I am in Sin City. I've been a lot of bizarre and strange places, but all of it pretty much pales in comparison to the bizarre and strange stuff you see in Las Vegas. Limos with hot tubs in the back... people puking on the street... half-naked partiers on the sidewalk... gamblers sobbing inconsolably... drunks EVERYWHERE... it goes on and on. Some might say this parade of non-stop debauchery is the ultimate expression of humanity's downfall. I just think it adds to Las Vegas's already considerable charm.

My day began very, very early as I drove to the airport at 4:00am for my 6:00am plane ride. From there I had three quick back-to-back flights which deposited me in Vegas around 11:00am. I packed light to avoid Horizon Airline's STUPID FUCKING $15 LUGGAGE FEE, which allowed me to skip baggage claim and head directly to my hotel.

After checking in, I played the slots for 15 minutes before winnings $200. Yay me! This money got pocketed, leaving me $62 of my original $100 daily gambling budget (which I would eventually lose, netting me out at +$100 for the day).

I'm guessing that was all the luck I'm gonna get this trip. But you never know.

I cashed out my winnings and headed out to have some drinks with a good friend and his wife whom I haven't seen in nearly seven years. That's when the magic began, as we headed out into the wilds of The Vegas Strip. We started out at The Excalibur where I decided to go out and people-watch while my friends played the tables...

Excalibur Hotel Vegas at Night

In wandering around the South end for a while, I came to the inescapable conclusion that a lot of people... a lot of people... come to Vegas to fight. Every 50-feet I ran into people yelling about something. One drunk woman was causing a major scene as she screamed for her boyfriend/husband to "GIVE ME SOME MONEY!!" over and over and over again. Next I'd see two people yelling over who's turn it was to buy cigarettes. More than a couple of times I overheard people fighting over where they wanted to go next. A particularly nasty brawl erupted in front of the MGM Grand Casino because, from what I could gather, one guy slept with his friend's girlfriend and was freaking out because the guy who got cheated on was threatening to tell the guy's mother on him. This might have been funny, except I'm guessing the guys were in their late 30's or early 40's.

In an attempt to get caught up on the USA Hard Rock properties I haven't visited yet, I dropped by the new cafe on The Strip (leaving only the new Hotel & Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma remaining)...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip

After joining back up with my friends and losing $50 at blackjack, the three of us decided to eat a late dinner at the original Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas, located in front of the Hard Rock Hotel...

Hard Rock Cafe Vegas Guitar

The hotel's casino is where I decided to blow my last $12 in nickel slots before we started doing Jäger shots at the bar. Oddly enough, it took well over an hour to lose my remaining money... even at MAX BET. They really know how to drag things out in Vegas... but it doesn't really matter, because the house always seems to win in the end. At least they're patient about it.

My friends were staying at Paris Las Vegas, so we decided to take the shuttle back to the MGM Grand and walk back to their hotel. I didn't have any gambling money left, but my $100 in winnings was quickly consumed in alcohol-related expenses along the way...

Paris Las Vegas Eiffel Tower

After saying goodnight to my friends around midnight, I walked north along The Strip to catch The Deuce Bus back to my hotel, when I saw something interesting at the Flamingo...

Donny and Marie Play with Pole Dancers

Yes, that's right... it's Mr. Morality Himself, Donny Osmond. I find it oddly satisfying that this self-righteous ass is more than happy to tell people how to live their lives according to his beliefs with his lobbying against gay marriage... and yet here he is, right next to his twice-divorced sister advertising at a venue where pole dancers are shaking their ass to beckon people inside the casino to smoke, drink, and gamble (all three of which I'd imagine are also against his beliefs). I guess Donny's moral superiority can be yours... IF the price is right.

But I'd imagine that would hold true for a lot of people in Las Vegas.

Me included!*

   

*My morals can be rented for very favorable hourly rates. Long-term leases also welcome!

   

If you're not afraid of bugs, there's more to today's post in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Vegas Weekend Day 2

Posted on Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Dave!Today was filled with surprises, and all in a good way... for once.

I started out kind of early, because I wanted to head back down the strip and see my friends off before they left to the airport. As we were wrapping things up, they asked me if I was going to the Grand Opening of the Hard Rock Cafe, Las Vegas Strip Edition. I had read that the opening was being postponed, again, so this kind of caught me off guard. So after everybody was bundled up in a taxi, I walked down The Strip and confirmed that the new property was indeed opening up this morning at 11:00.

Score!

After waiting around for 35 minutes, I was the first one "officially" up the escalator to the new venue where I found...

Disappointment.

This is an absolutely beautiful restaurant. Unfortunately, it's a pretty shitty Hard Rock Cafe. And let me tell you why... it's the memorabilia. Or lack of memorabilia, to be more accurate.

From the very moment that Eric Clapton hung his guitar on the wall of the original Hard Rock in London, rock memorabilia has been an integral part of the Hard Rock "experience" for its visitors. When you walk through those doors and see the expanse of one-of-a-kind items, it's like a rock-n-roll museum you'd find in your dreams. For music-lovers, its perfect.

But not here. Not this time.

The memorabilia is so anemic that the place barely feels like a "Hard Rock" at all. It's sad, actually. As an example, here's the bar area. How much memorabilia do you see?

Las Vegas Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip

Uhhh... yeah... there's a few mannequins in the background. And what about here in the main dining room...

Las Vegas Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip

What is that... like SEVEN whole pieces and two televisions? Compare that to but one small corner of the Hard Rock Cafe in Biloxi's hotel and casino property...

Hrc Biloxi2

Or Lisbon, Portugal...

Hard Rock Cafe Lisbon

Or Foxwoods, Connecticut...

Foxwoods

Or Memphis, Tennessee...

HRC Memphis

Or even the cafe they just closed in Salt Lake City...

Hard Rock Salt Lake

... Just to name a few. Now those... those are Hard Rock Cafes!! The memorabilia is so thick you're swimming in it. You have to visit again and again just to see it all. THAT'S WHAT A HARD ROCK CAFE IS ALL ABOUT!!

But this new cafe on The Vegas Strip? Almost nothing. In fact, there are entire sections of the restaurant which are practically devoted to nothing. Here's the upstairs bar...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip

And the mini "Hard Rock Live" stage...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip

And some kind of small VIP room also upstairs...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip

Occasional random pieces hidden away, but really nothing. NOTHING!! This is supposed to be a Hard Rock?!? The only thing that keeps the place from being a total failure is the staff, which is terrific. And also the sweet "Microsoft Surface" touch tables they've got scattered around the joint (like the one behind the curtain above). You sit down, and it's like a giant iPhone on steroids with its awesome multi-touch interface. Here I am looking at pins from various cafes...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip: Microsoft Surface

You can toss them around, rotate them, move them in and out, stack them... or even pinch and pull them to zoom in for a much, much closer look...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip: Microsoft Surface

Other toys include a memorabilia viewer for cafes around the globe which you pick out from an actual spinning globe. This is cool, because it's not like this cafe has much memorabilia to look at here...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip: Microsoft Surface

They even have distractions like puzzles, videos, and even a piano...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip: Microsoft Surface

Alas, it's by Microsoft, so you have to brace yourself for all the crashes and failures...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip: Microsoft Surface

Knowing what this cafe COULD HAVE BEEN almost makes me cry. All that wonderful space that COULD have been crammed with awesome memorabilia from the Hard Rock's extensive collection... wasted. I have no idea who is designing this shit, but somebody needs to stop them. Take the Hard Rock back to what it is at its core. Take it back to what makes it special. Take it back to what people want to see. Take it back to what makes me want to travel the globe and see them all. Take. It. Back.

Sigh.

After goofing around at the Hard Rock for a bit, I headed back to the hotel to meet up with the Official TequilaCon 2010 Planning Committee... Jenny, Vahid, and Brandon. The day kind of went like this...

Drinks. Accusations. Threats. Apologies. Sunglasses. Cigarette holders. News. Drinks. Slots. Slots. Drinks. Craps. Slots. Video Poker. Drinks. Drinks. Drinks. Drinks. Drinks. Slots. Dinner. OFFICIAL TEQUILACON BUSINESS...

TequilaCon Map

Then Walking. Goodnight Brandon. Slots. Drinks. Video Poker. Slots. Walgreens. And lastly, the Fremont Street Experience...

Fremont Street Experience!

Fremont Street Experience!

And there you have it. Just another boring day in Las Vegas, Nevada.

   
UPDATE: I had a long email conversation with somebody who basically asked "who are you to define what is or isn't a Hard Rock?" Which I thought was odd, because they're pretty much self-defining (as the photos I posted above will attest). But even setting that aside, just look at a description of the HRC Hurghada from the Hard Rock Cafe's own web site...

The cafe, while reflecting the charm and flavor of the local architecture, is still a Hard Rock through and through offering an extensive collection of incredible rock memorabilia...

So, even at the Hard Rock Cafe corporate offices, the abundance of memorabilia is looked upon as a defining trait of a good cafe. If I'm seen as "defining" a cafe, I'm only doing so from the definition provided by the organization themselves.

   

Bullet Sunday 148

Posted on Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Dave!Tonight it's a very special Las Vegas edition of Bullet Sunday!

It's special since there's only one bullet. And that's because it's such an incredibly awesome bullet that you would totally forget any other bullets that might appear afterwards.

• ELVIS! The Official Planning Meeting for TequilaCon 2010 ended with a bang when the entire committee decided to attend the Legends show at Harrah's. The acts performing tonight were Britney Spears, James Brown, David Bowie, The Temptations, and (of course) ELVIS!

Here's photos of Jenny collecting an autograph (and some sweat off of Elvis's chest!)...

Jenny and Elvis

Jenny and Elvis

Jenny and Elvis

Jenny and Elvis

Such shameless flirting! I think she's totally found herself a new boyfriend.

And here's a crummy picture I took of our photo with my pocket camera...

TequilaCon 2010 Planning Committee with Elvis

IMPORTANT NOTE: Just to be clear, that is the cuff of Brandon's shirt... NOT Elvis's penis popping out of his pants. Such genius that you'd almost swear that Brandon planned it that way. Which he probably did.

Elivis signed it "To TequilaCon Forever"...

Elvis Autograph

And thus ends what is probably the most perfect Bullet Sunday in the history of Bullet Sunday.

   

Upgrades

Posted on Monday, September 7th, 2009

Dave!Over the next couple days I'm having my blog templates upgraded, so there may be some problems pop up while things get sorted out. I was going to do a redesign at the same time, but I kind of like my blog the way it is.

Blog Broked

   

A couple people asked me "how I did" in Vegas. Since I made it home alive, I'd say I did okay, but I don't think that's what they are talking about... they want to know how much money I won or lost. The truth is that I am not much of a gambler, even though I seem to be luckier than average.

Which is to say that I lose less money than average, because at the end of the day, the casino almost always ends up the winner. Given the addictive nature of gambling, it helps to have a plan. To make sure I don't go broke, I set myself a daily budget based on the total amount of loose change I've managed to collect over the last year or so... $264. This spread out to $64 for the first half-day, and $100 for Saturday and Sunday. My luck played out something like this...

  • Accidentally won on slots when I was using the machine to break a fifty dollar bill. I wasn't even paying attention to what was happening because I was Twittering. When the bell went off I thought I had won the $120,000 shown the "progressive pot" display because the bell didn't stop. An attendant came up and did something to the machine, then congratulated my on my $200 win. Which would be great if I weren't expecting $120,000. Who knew winning $200 could be so depressing? The win cost me a whole $6, and I decided to call it a day... SCORE! WIN/LOSS AS OF FRIDAY: Up $194
  • Usually I keep my winnings entirely separate so I don't blow it all after my budget is gone. But Jenny and I wanted to learn how to play craps, which was a $100 educational loss (does this mean I can write it off on my taxes?). Still, I did pretty good on the slots and managed to win $33 by the end of the day. WIN/LOSS AS OF SATURDAY: Up $127
  • Not content to let my new-found skills go to waste, I blew through my $100 budget in an hour at the craps table (if only I had stopped when I was up $80!). Since this brutal blow to my ego happened first-thing in the morning, the rest of the day would have been pretty boring if I stopped gambling... so I rolled my $127 into big fun on the Vegas Strip. And ended up losing all of it... along with an additional $81. So much for following my own rules. WIN/LOSS AS OF SUNDAY: Down $181

So I lost $181. Which isn't bad when you consider it gave me three days' worth of entertainment AND was under my budgeted amount of $264. This would be great if I hadn't burned through the remaining $83 at the new Hard Rock Cafe an The Vegas Strip buying Grand Opening collector's pins. Oh well.

And now I'm home again... collecting my pocket change for the next time.

   

Tourism

Posted on Friday, September 11th, 2009

Dave!

World Trade Center from Empire State Building

On top of the World Trade Center

View from the Top of The World

Looking up at the Statue of Liberty

World Trade Center from the Statue of Liberty

   

   

Day One: Seattle

Posted on Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Dave!Ooh! It's time for vacation!

I'm departing sunny Seattle for the rain-soaked shores of Glacier Bay, Alaska. At least I'm assuming they're rain-soaked shores, because that's what everybody has been telling me. Whenever people hear where I'm going, it seems to be all they can talk about... "Those Alaska cruises are fantastic... if you like rain" or "You'll love it... if you don't mind getting wet" or "Yeah, I did that Alaska cruise... AND I HAVE NEVER SEEN SO MUCH RAIN IN ALL MY LIFE!" Since rain doesn't bother me much, I'm not worried about getting wet. I am, however, a little concerned that it seems to be the most memorable part of the trip for people who have done it before.

Interestingly enough, Seattle had positively flawless weather today...

Sunny Seattle

Sunny Seattle

But the minute we headed out into Puget Sound, the clouds started rolling in...

Aboard Ship

Looking Aft

Which made for a nice sunset...

Ships Passing In The Night

After the sun had gone, mist drifted in and covered the shoreline...

Sun Has Set

Misty Shore

And now it's getting dark. That must mean it's time for ice cream.

   

Day Two: At Sea

Posted on Monday, September 14th, 2009

Dave!Cruises have their pros and cons. The biggest pro is that you get to visit a lot of places without having to pack and un-pack your suitcase. Your "hotel room" travels with you, so all your stuff gets to stay where it is. The biggest con is that any time you're not visiting someplace, you're trapped on a giant boat. For some people, this is paradise... but for somebody like me, it's paramount to torture. And it's all my fault, I'm sure. I don't like doing arts & crafts. I don't like cheesy trivia challenges or BINGO games. I don't like non-stop eating. I don't like socializing with crazy strangers. I don't like going to the spa. And I really don't like "Broadway-style" shows and crappy comedy routines. That leaves walking around on deck and reading books all day. Which is okay... but not the kind of adventure I'm used to having while on vacation.

But it is relaxing because you get to look at stuff like this all day...

Queen Charlotte Island from Sea

Except...

There are a lot of people onboard. And most people are idiots. And many of those idiots are assholes.

Yesterday after I got onboard, I immediately went to the shore excursions desk to confirm my reservations. I was third in line. The couple at the front of the line was finishing up, and gave their room number to the agent for billing. It was on the lowest deck in a not-so-glamorous area of the ship, which caused the guy ahead of me to say "Gee, they sure stuck you in a crappy cabin!"

How do people like this live with themselves?

For all anybody knows, that couple might have saved money for years for this cruise, and that cabin was the best they could afford. Suddenly a vacation they were excited about was crapped on by some moron with poor manners and a big mouth.

Me, being me, was compelled to say to the couple "Hey, at least you can take consolation that you're not on the jerkwad deck!" which was good for a laugh. Sure this makes me no better than the asshole, but what can I say? I live to humiliate mean people.

Because I will never understand those who gain happiness by bringing misery to others.

Which is why I very nearly screamed "SHUT YOUR FUCKING MOUTH!" to yet another dumbass who was heckling a musician playing on the pool deck. Here was this guy doing his best to entertain people. and he has to listen to some idiot keep interrupting him by screaming "FREEBIRD! FREEBIRD! FREEBIRD!" and "DO YOU KNOW ANY OTHER SONGS?"

People like to joke that I travel so much because I am a global assassin for hire. If that were true, I would kill this stupid fucker at no charge for the benefit of all society.

Anyway, it wasn't all boring today... there was some excitement too.

First of all, I saw a whale swimming outside the window during dinner. He was beautiful as he arched through the water, and it evoked a lot of "oohs and ahs" in the dining room. I didn't have my camera ready, so I can't show you what he looked like, but I can show you what he didn't look like...

This is not a whale!

At first I found it funny when people would get all excited because they thought they were seeing whales, but were instead seeing a piece of wood or a blob of kelp. But after the tenth time it gets pretty tiring.

The second thing that happened is that we were attacked by pirates...

Pirate Boat!

At least I thought they were pirates. It turns out that it wasn't a boat full of evil pirates after all... it was just a pilot boat making sure we didn't crash into the coastline or something.

But we didn't need pirates. There was already evil on board. AN EVIL TOWEL PIGEON WITH BEADY LITTLE RED EYES!! He was sitting on my bed when I got back from dinner...

Evil Towel Pigeon

But the most exciting thing today was the sunset view from my balcony...

Sunset at Sea

Pretty sweet. Tomorrow the ship arrives in Juneau. That'll be even sweeter.

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Day Three: Juneau

Posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Dave!After disembarking in Juneau, it was time to take a helicopter ride over the Tongass Forest up to the Mendenhall Glacier for a walkabout. Definitely one of the more amazing experiences in my life! It was not at all cold, there was no rain, and visibility was fantastic. I took a couple hundred photos, but am too knackered to go sorting through them tonight. I'll just post a few that caught my eye.

NOTE: I know it may look as though I've done some Photoshop trickery to get that brilliant deep blue color on the glacier... but I didn't. That's all real, exactly as my camera recorded it! If anything, it's less vibrant in the photos, because it's all flattened out.

Flying above the freaky ice formations of the Mendenhall Glacier...

Flying Above the Mendenhall Glacier

Blue Mendenhall Ice Cracks

Glacier Cap

Landing on the glacier...

Helicopter on the Glacier

Trekking around in search of glacier ice...

Mendenhall Rift

Mendenhall Split

Glacial Pool

Above a Rift

Glacier Split

Mendenhall Glacier Flats

The helicopters return to pick us up...

Helicopter Landing

Walking around the nifty State Capitol of Juneau, Alaska...

Downtown Juneau

Returning to the ship at night...

Juneau Harbor at Night

All in all... a pretty darn good day!

   

Day Four: Skagway

Posted on Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Dave!Today was a very early day arriving in rainy Skagway.

And the reason it was an early start was because I had booked a river rafting trip through the Chilkat Eagle Preserve outside of Haines, Alaska. The rain wasn't entirely unexpected, because this area is smack in the middle of a rainforest. What was unexpected was that the rain decided to let up the entire time our group was on the river, so it actually made for a fantastic (and relatively dry) morning.

There was quite a bit of mist hanging around which looked really cool, but made spotting the eagles a more difficult...

Trees in the Mist

The mist also made it quite challenging to photograph the eagles, but there were 44 of the birds spotted during the trip so I was able to get quite a few good shots. Since I was on a moving raft I forced a high shutter speed on my camera to keep things sharp. This caused the picture quality to suffer, but at least I didn't end up with a bunch of blurry eagles. Once I used Photoshop to zoom in and add some contrast, they look pretty good...

It's an Eagle!

It's an Eagle!

It's an Eagle!

Overall I shot close to 70 pictures of these beautiful creatures, but it's just not the same as seeing them in person.

After an hour floating down the river looking at Eagles, it was time for a picnic lunch and a ferry ride back to Skagway. The scenery along the was was pretty spectacular...

Harding Glacier in Skagway

Skagway Falls

Skagway Harbor

The town itself seems to be one big tourist trap, and I'm told half of the businesses here belong to Princess Cruise Lines, which makes a lot of sense. Still, it's kind of a charming place that maintains ties back to its gold-rush roots with wooden sidewalks and such...

Skagway, Alaska

I'm not much of a shopper, so it was time to walk along the pier so I could beat the crowds and get back to the ship for and early dinner...

Skagway Pier

Tomorrow is a day at sea. Usually I don't like sea days, but I admit it will be nice to be able to sleep in and relax for a while.

   

Day Five: Glacier Bay

Posted on Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Dave!A day in magnificent Glacier Bay.

Mists on Glacier Bay

Mt. Cooper

Sunny Mountains

Sunfall

The Margerie Glacier

Norwegian Peal Glacier Overlook

Blue Glacier

Blue Ice

Island in Glacier Bay

Johns Hopkins Glacier

   

Day Six: Ketchikan

Posted on Friday, September 18th, 2009

Dave!I don't believe in luck.

That being said, I have been incredibly lucky all-around on this trip. Landed in Juneau... POURING RAIN! But then it stops just in time to trek on the Mendenhall Glacier. Arrive in Skagway... POURING RAIN! But then it slows to barely a drizzle when it's time to raft through the Chilkat Eagle Preserve. Floating through Glacier Bay... POURING RAIN AND IMPENETRABLE MIST! But then, just as the ship arrives at the Margerie Glacier, the sun breaks through and we have perfect visibility. And then this morning, dock at Ketchikan... POURING RAIN AND MORE MIST! But then, after a half-hour or so, it pretty much stops.

As I said, unbelievably lucky.

And then there was today's excursion, which was a float-plane flight to Neets Bay to look at bears...

Float-Plane Flight to Neets Bay, Alaska

Misty Alaska

Neets Bay Fish Ladder

And then I got so unfuckingbelievably lucky that I should probably buy lottery tickets immediately.

Because usually on nature sightseeing trips, there are odds that you won't get to see any wildlife at all. I booked the earliest bear-watch tour I could get since I was told the odds were better in the morning, but even that was no guarantee.

But I was lucky, again, because there were bears to be seen. And it was pretty much as I expected. Little bears off in the distance, looking for food...

Momma Bear and Baby Bear

What I didn't expect was to see a bear up close...

River Bear

I certainly didn't anticipate being just 30 feet away either...

Bear in the Bush

And I about shit myself when I saw bears just 15 feet away...

Wet Bear

Bear Says

So you can imagine how I nearly lost all control over my bodily functions when I saw a momma bear and baby bear in a tree just 10 feet overhead...

Momma Bear in a Tree

As I said, unfuckingbelievably lucky. Having a Bald Eagle show up as I was leaving was just icing on the cake...

American Bald Eagle in a Tree

Then the float-plane arrived to take our group back to Ketchikan... where the rain started pouring again...

Float Plane Landing in Neets Bay

Back in Ketchikan

Eagle Statue in front of the Norwegian Pearl Ship

Maybe I should start believing in luck after all.

   

Day Seven: Victoria

Posted on Saturday, September 19th, 2009

Dave!Today's port of call was the beautiful city of Victoria in British Columbia... except the ship didn't arrive until 6:00pm. So while you do technically get a five-hour visit in the city as advertised, it's at night time. This means you can't really go sightseeing, and many of the stores are closed. I have no frickin' clue why NCL even bothers to stop, except it looks good on the itinerary they sell you.

Fortunately, I've already been to Victoria three or four times, so it's not a big deal... except such a short visit at such wacky hours seems kind of pointless. If there wasn't berthing space to let us dock at a decent hour, why not stop in Sitka or some other port where you actually have time to see things in frickin' daylight?

Oh well.

There's a restaurant here in Victoria I have been trying to visit for years. It's a vegetarian place called "Re-Bar Modern Food" that comes highly recommended.

And deservedly so, because the food there was frickin' amazing...

Re-Bar Modern Food Sign

After dinner, there really wasn't much to do but wander around the Inner Harbor. The tourist shops there are gearing up for the 2010 Winter Olympics, and their Quatchi mascot is everywhere...

Quatchi the Sasquatch!

He's cool and all, but personally, I prefer... FIDDLER DARTH VADER!

Darth Vader Fiddles!

It's getting pretty cold out at night, but roses were still in bloom...

Victoria Rose

The world-famous Empress Hotel looks even nicer at night...

Empress Hotel at Night

Victoria Legislative Building in Lights...

Sparkly Lights in Victoria

And that's the end of my cruise.

But not my vacation... at least not quite yet...

   

Bullet Sunday 149

Posted on Sunday, September 20th, 2009

Dave!Last week I skipped Bullet Sunday because I was traveling but, lucky for me, Hilly-Sue was kind enough to pick up my slack! This week the bullets are back in Seattle, and so am I...

• Finale! Now that it's all over, I have to say that the cruise to Alaska was pretty darn special. Despite some dreary weather in spots, things couldn't have gone better, and the shore excursions were all beyond amazing experiences. If you're looking for a little adventure in your life, you could do a lot worse than exploring the Inside Passage. I booked through Jester's new company, Cruise Avenue, and am grateful for all his advice in getting me the perfect vacation. Might want to see those glaciers now while you still can...

   

• Pandemonium! Just got back from the Pet Shop Boys' "Pandemonium" tour stop in Seattle. It seems like it was just yesterday I went to their first-ever concert here in the city, and now they're back for round two! As expected, the show was amazing. I really like their new album, Yes, and they did a good job of mixing the new material with their classic hits...

Pet Shop Boys Pandemonium Tour Poster

For my fellow Pet Shop fans, the set-list went something like this... Heart, Did You See Me Coming?, Pandemonium/Can You Forgive Her?, Love Etc., Integral/Building a Wall, Go West, Two Divided By Zero/Why Don't We Live Together?, Always On My Mind, New York City Boy, Closer to heaven/Left to my Own Devices, Do I Have To?, King's Cross, The Way It Used To Be, Jealousy, Suburbia, All Over The World, Se A Vida É (That's The Way Life Is), Discoteca/Domino Dancing/Viva La Vida (COLDPLAY?!?), It's A Sin, Being Boring (encore), West End Girls (encore). A pretty sweet set... despite the sound at The Moore Theater being really uneven, and the sound-mix for the show being pretty bad in parts (Neil's vocals during King's Cross were obliterated). Still... well worth attending!

   

• Pet Shop Pics! I was too busy enjoying the show to be much of a photographer, but still managed to grab a few shots when I thought of it. From the looks of things, Neil and Chris have taken the "Cubism" theme of their previous tour and amped it up to the n-th degree, appearing as cube-heads with cube-head dancers and backup singers. As always, it was a pretty impressive production... even when restrained to the small stage of The Moore...

Pet Shop Boys with Cube-Heads!

Dancing Buildings on Stage!

Silver Confetti Finale!

   

• Dee-Jay? I have been to clubs where very talented individuals have crafted amazing mixes of a wide variety of music in clever and interesting ways. These DJ's deserve their title, and work hard to craft an exciting experience for their audience. On the OTHER end of the spectrum, you have people who just take a string of dance remixes with the EXACT SAME throbbing disco beat... smash them together one after another... and call themselves a DJ. Now, it's probably me... I'm just somebody who doesn't "get" it... but who the fuck cares? Apparently, the Pet Shop Boys do, because THAT'S who they had as their opening act... a disco DJ with one throbbing beat after another. I honestly couldn't tell where one song starts and the other begins. It's just a blur of bass and synthesizers (but mostly bass). Yeah, I'm sure this "music" is just awesome to somebody who can appreciate it (or is high on crystal meth)... but I thought it sucked copious amounts of ass. After 45 minutes of this redundant shit, I was ready to jump off the balcony. The only thing I can think of to explain it is that the Pet Shop Boys wanted to bore the shit out of people before they take the stage so they appear that much better. Which is crazy. They don't need it. Things don't get much better than the Pet Shop Boys live.

   

• Progress? They keep plugging away at Seattle's Hard Rock Cafe. Now they've got actual signs up to let people know what's coming (but who knows when?)...

Hard Rock Cafe Seattle

   

• Blue! Man, what a beautiful day in Seattle I came back to from rainy Alaska!

City Fish Market Sign in a Blue, Blue Sky!

   

And thus ends my week of vacation big happy fun time. Back to the daily grind...

   

Guinness

Posted on Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Dave!Guinness celebrated their 250th anniversary today!

Deliciously wholesome and hearty Irish Guinness Draught.

I can't remember when I had my first pint of Guinness, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't here in the US. It was probably in London and I think it was purchased for me. But even though I don't remember where or when, I do remember most everything else. I remember it was a properly poured pint instead of out of a can or bottle or made by somebody who didn't know what they were doing. I remember it was different and delicious. I remember joking about having to eat it with a spoon because it was so thick. I also remember that I had another.

I still drink Guinness from time to time. Mostly at pubs when I see that they know how to serve it up right.

And, of course, I drop by the Guinness Brewery at St. James's Gate whenever I'm in Dublin...

DAVETOON: Dave and Bad Monkey take the Guinness Factory Tour in Dublin

Once when I was in Ireland, I had some time to kill and so I took the Wild Wicklow Tour where I saw something pretty amazing. The Guinness Estate (owned by the Guinness family) has its own lake... Lough Tay. It's a pretty lake in some very pretty countryside, but that's not what makes it amazing. What makes it amazing is that they imported some white sand for the beach there, which looks something like this...

A photo of Lough Tay's white sand beach.

But to really appreciate what this means, you kind of have to look at it from space. Like this image from Google Maps...

Lough Tay Guinness Lake!

And then need to use your imagination...

Lough Tay Guinness Lake Morph!

And there you have it...

It's a lake that looks like a pint of Guinness!

Pretty cool, huh?

Happy Anniversary, Guinness!

   

Bullet Sunday 150

Posted on Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Dave!Sweet! It's the 150th edition of Bullet Sunday!

• AT&T FAIL! I am quickly becoming disenamoured with the AT&T mobile service for my iPhone. At first, everything was swell and I found the service to be on-par with Verizon, my previous mobile provider. But as more and more people jump on the iPhone bandwagon, AT&T's service keeps getting progressively worse. When I was in Las Vegas, I tried to place a call to Jenny across town (who also has an iPhone). We could not get a call to connect for more than a few seconds no matter how many times we tried. Then when I was in Alaska, I was barely able to make phone calls or use data over Edge in any port. I can only guess that the service is overwhelmed whenever cruise ships pull into port (which must really suck if you're a local). You'd think AT&T would build more capacity for these obviously high-use areas, but no. They don't even have 3G. It's as if AT&T is totally shocked over the massive success of the iPhone, and never bothered to prepare otherwise. Dumbasses. If Apple is smart, they'll choose NOT to renew their exclusive contract with AT&T and spread the congestion around on other networks. Which is where I'll be if AT&T doesn't get their shit together.

   
• Ghosts! I like Halloween for a lot of reasons, bit the biggest? THE CANDY! In addition to Candy Corn, which is one of my favorite sweets, I like all the "fun-sized" versions of my old favorites. Even better is the "special edition" items that are released just for the holiday. Like GHOST DOTS! It's one of the best candies ever...

Ghost Dots Boxes

Dots Ghosties!

Awwww... cute! And delicious! Even though the pieces all look the same, they are actually flavored just like the original DOTS candies. The package says "Which Flavor? Which Ghost? IT'S A MYSTERY!" which just makes a fun candy even better!

   
• Bears! After going through the 317 photos that were worth keeping from my trip to Alaska, I've come to the conclusion that I love bears. Of all the images I took, the pictures with bears are far-and-away my favorites...

Tree Bear

Another Bear in a Tree

Lazy Bear

Hello Lazy Bear!

Lazy Bear Walks Away

One day I've got to plan a vacation that revolves around bear-watching. That would have to be one of the best trips for a photographer ever.

   
• Search Me! Today is Google's 11th birthday! Amazing how in all these years that no other search engine has come along which can touch it. I had hopes that Microsoft's "Bing!" would at least pose a challenge and up the search game, but so far I've been unimpressed. Here's wishing Google more innovation (and a little luck!) for another 11 years.

Goog11e Graphic

   
And now I suppose I really should finish unpacking so I can start re-packing for next week. Life. She is a viscious circle, no?

   

Amsterdam

Posted on Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Dave!And I'm off for a wild weekend in DutchyLand with the Bitch that is Dutch...

Bitchsterdam 2009 Poster

   

Also in attendence will be the Lady that is Penelope and the Tai-Tai that is Geeky.

With a roster like this, only time will tell if I manage to survive the event.

Here's hoping that if (by some miracle) I do survive, I'll not be permanently damaged...

   

DutchyLand

Posted on Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Dave!Coming over to Europe, I smoosh two days into one. Going back home, I make one day into two. It's a not-so-pleasant consequence of international travel... but I'm kind of used to it by now so it doesn't bother me that much.

Here was my "day" Wednesday and Thursday, which I am now calling "Wedthurday"...

I got up early to drive to Seattle...

Seattle Drive

Was surprised to see there's already snow starting in the mountains...

SNOW IN THE MOUNTAINS!

Hopped on a plane to Amsterdam...

NWA Flight

Was served warmed nuts while I watched movies (The Proposal and Terminator Salvation)...

Warm Nuts!

Got a butter flower with personal salt and pepper shakers with dinner...

Butter Flower

Watched my progress as I approached DutchyLand...

NWA Map

Got a "bagel" before landing...

It's an un-bagel!

Landed at Schiphol Airport in the early morning...

Schiphol Airport

After The DutchBitch was kind enough to pick me up from the airport, she went to work... and I took the train into Amsterdam to have lunch with some friends! I arrived a couple hours early, so I wandered to the wonderful Van Gogh Museum.

I love the Van Gogh Museum. The world never seems so big than when looking at it through Vincent's eyes. On top of that, the museum itself is really nice with some great architecture to it...

Van Gogh Stairway

After a great lunch with some good people, I decided to stroll through Amsterdam for a while before heading back to DutchyLand...

Amsterdam Canal

Just like many large cities, Amsterdam has some public art projects. My favorite is still the Bears of Berlin, but they've got elephants going on that are quite cool too...

Elephants in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Elephant Detail

Then it was the train back for dinner with Dutchy and some blogger talk.

Not bad for a 36-hour day!

   

Delft

Posted on Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Dave!As the grand Bitchsterdam festivities are not until tomorrow, those of us in DutchyLand early had decided to goof off in the picturesque city of Delft in South Holland. It's a rather important city in the history of the Netherlands, and is famous for it's Chinese-style pottery and being the birthplace of the painter Vermeer.

After arriving in the city, The DutchBitch, Geeky Tai-Tai, her husband, and myself decided to take a speed-boat cruise on the Delft canals. Except the speed-boat never went over two miles an hour, which made for a relaxing start to our day...

Delft Cruise Ship

The canals are smaller than those you'll find in Amsterdam, which makes them that much prettier...

Delft Canals

The Central Square still has many old buildings, though apparently they're not quite as old as you'd expect because the city was razed by fire and then later destroyed again when a gunpowder factory exploded...

Delft Building

Delft Church

Geeky Tai-Tai and The Dutch Bitch outside of the Delf Cathedral...

Dutchy and Diana

Delftware hand-painted pottery is a big tourist attraction and incredibly expensive if you buy the "real" stuff. Fortunately, there's tons of imitation pottery around for the tourist trade...

Dave and Bad Monkey on a Delft Plate

Given that this is the Netherlands, one of my most favorite foods on earth is easily available... potatoes and mayo...

Frites Mit Mayo

But the food for which Delf is made famous is Poffertjes, which are little pancake-type thingies that are served up with powdered sugar & butter and are totally delicious. Much to the annoyance of Dutchy, I kept mis-pronouncing them as "Pooferglarg" or "Poofterjarb" or "Pooferflargen"... which, if you follow any of us on Twitter, was responsible for terrorizing the Twitterverse last night...

Poffertjes

Amazingly, there was a restaurant we found which proudly proclaims that "Bill Clinton Ate Poffertjes Here"... and has somehow survived the experience...

Bill Clinton at Poffertjes Here!

All in all, it was a perfect way to spend the afternoon...

Pretty Delft Canal

After dropping off Geeky Tai-Tai back at Schophol so she could spend some quallity pooferflargen time with her husband (without annoying bloggers around), we goofed off for a while until the celebrated arrival of The Lady Penelope. From then on, it was Wine-O-Clock, pooferflargen, chips & dip, Wine-O-Clock, pooferflargen, Twittering, Wine-O-Clock, pooferflargen, laughing, Wine-O-Clock, and pooferflargen for the rest of the evening and into the early morning...

Dutchy and the Lady Penelope

For everybody on Twitter who had to suffer through the experience with us, I apologize.

But not really.

Because we had an awesome time, and it's hard to make apologies for that.

   

Bitchsterdam

Posted on Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

Dave!The day started off with an interesting twist... the hot water heater in Dutchy's house went kaput. The ladies managed to track down a hot shower for themselves (use your imagination here, heaven only knows I did), while I volunteered to stay behind and take a cold shower. So as to spend as little time as possible being chilled, I devised a plan whereas I would hose myself down, suds myself up, then rinse myself off.

It was a good plan. At first. Hosing myself down wasn't too bad, as it only involved a few seconds of contact with the icy water. Sudsing myself up was equally trivial. Where things went terribly wrong was in the last step.

Because it takes considerably longer to rinse soap off than to put it on.

And the entire time I was standing under that freezing stream of water... I could Not. Stop. Laughing.

Which probably made a terrific impression on Dutchy's neighbors, hearing a guy laughing hysterically while in the shower (let's hear her try to explain THAT one away!).

What finally made the laughter stop was when I looked down and saw the my once-magnificient pooferflargen had shrunk to the size of a peanut. There's just nothing funny about that.

Fortunately, Dutchy's cat was nonjudgmental on my plight...

Kitty

But the morning's adventure in shrinkage was all made worthwhile when Dutchy made my wildest fantasty come true... her and Penelope took me to a snack bar so I could get some frites met mayo...

Frites mit Mayo

But the awesomeness did not stop with the fries and mayo.

It was taken to the Next. Level.

Because I was able to also have a cheese sandwich as well. A cheese sandwich made with "Old Cheese." Beautiful, sexy, tasty, aged Dutch cheese. On a roll. That looked like this...

Old Cheese Sandwich

While I looked like this...

Dave Eats Potatoes with Mayo and a Cheese Sandwich

Then, after a lunch so delicious I achieved orgasm, we went wandering in the local shops so I could make fun of the native products. I think this one speaks for itself...

Douche Creme

Unless you're familiar with the French language, in which case it seems perfectly sane.

But if you are not familiar with the French language, you may be wondering how much more hilarious a product name could get than "Douche Creme."

I'm glad you asked...

Douche Oil and Douche Scrub

I can't quite decide which one I like best. There is a case to be made for both Douche Oil and Douche Scrub. But there was no time to debate the merits of these douchey products because Bitchsterdam was at hand, and we had to head up to Amsterdam. Where we ran across a new batch of elephants! Including this beauty...

Elephant with monster smileys!

... on the way to the Hard Rock Cafe...

Hard Rock Cafe AMSTERDAM!

Where an amazing group of people consisting of Mr. Geeky Tai-Tai, Geeky Tai-Tai, Bra-Dutch, The Dutch Bitch, ME!, and The Lady Penelope got together for a wonderful night of food, drinks, and a lot of laughs...

Bitchsterdam Group

Despite all that, there was still time for my Jägermeister habit to corrupt the innocence of Penelope's seasoned wine-loving palette...

Jäger Shots and Red Bull.

Lady Penelope love Jägermeister

Dave and Penelope Drinking Jager

All-in-all in was a wonderful evening at the Hard Rock Cafe...

Hard Rock Cafe Sign

Because I was the luckiest bastard on the planet this night, as I got to go back home with THIS...

Dave with Dutchy and The Lady Penelope!

All my thanks to The Dutch Bitch, for hosting such a fantastic event!

   

Bullet Sunday 151

Posted on Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Dave!It's Bullet Sunday from my last day in the Netherlands! And what a beautiful one it is... with blue skies everywhere you look. A nice change from the past three days. The weather came just in time, because tomorrow I'm back to Schiphol for my flight home.

• Beach. The Lady Penelope didn't have to fly out until late afternoon, so The DutchBitch was kind enough to take us to Noordwijk aan Zee so we could see the beach (and eat more potatoes with mayo). It was a nice day out, though the wind was blowing pretty fierce. This was great for the chute-surfers out on the water...

Chute Surfers on the Ocean

Blue Sign in a Blue Sky

Bicycle Tire Stuck in the Sand

Dutch Lighthouse

A Scenic Look Towards the Beach

• Blue. After saying goodbye to Lady P. at the airport, we headed back into Amsterdam because I had forgotten my sunglasses at dinner last night. Thats when I saw something pretty amazing... blue sky behind the Hard Rock Cafe! In the half-dozen photos I have from previous visits, none of them have blue sky. But there it was...

Hard Rock Cafe Amsterdam

• Big. In the USA, the restaurant portions are always massive, which means I can't ever eat it all and food goes to waste. Outside the USA, restaurant portions are usually of a more reasonable size, which is nice because I can actually finish everything on my plate without bursting. But when it comes to drinks, it's just the opposite. Order a Coke and they bring you a tiny bottle that costs at least double the price you'd pay in the States. Tonight Dutchy and I decided on Italian for dinner, and I was thrilled to see that they had both "regular" (i.e. tiny) glasses... AND "big" (i.e. "American regular") glasses on the menu. The down-side? I had to pay $7.88 (5,40€) for the privilege of ordering one...

$7.88 Glass of Coke

• Parade. Just because I can't get enough of the painted elephants public arts project in Amsterdam...

Elephants in the Park

• Funny. Last night, Dutchy treated us to some comedy DVDs featuring Irish comedian Dara Ó Briain. The guy is hysterically funny, and positively brilliant in his ability to interact with the audience. I had heard of the guy before because he hosts Mock of the Week from British television, but his stand-up was something entirely new to me. I pulled up Amazon so I could order his DVDs for myself... only to find out they aren't available for sale in Region 1. Nor could I buy them on iTunes. This is a load of bollocks. In the age of digital distribution, it's absolutely stupid that I can't buy a copy anywhere in the world. With DVDs I get it... they cost money to make. But a digital file on iTunes? It doesn't cost anything but a short time to convert the video (which has probably already been done for the UK store!). Like music, the concept of global digital distribution is completely lost on the video distributors. Oh well... until I can actually purchase a copy in my country, I guess there's always BitTorrent. How incredibly stupid that, for all our modern technology, idiotic stuff like this continues to happen.

Dara Ó Briain Live

YouTube has some funny bits and pieces from Dara's stand-up, and a good one is here.

And that's all she wrote for a fantastic visit to DutchyLand.

   

Imagery

Posted on Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Dave!I'm slowly getting all my negatives and paper photos scanned at ScanCafe, so I've started moving on to pictures from friends and relatives. It's been interesting to see how others view the same people and places when comparing their shots with my own. The last batch of scans I sent included images from my brother from some of the trips we've taken together.

The nice thing about traveling with my brother is that he's a professional photographer and takes some amazing photos. The bad thing about traveling with my brother is that all my photos look like crap by comparison.

Thailand...

Thailand Temple

Thailand Statue

James Bond Island

Pattya Sunset

Thai Fisherman at Sunset

The UK...

Dave in Front of Teddy Bear Co.

Elegant Statue

Beautiful Building

BeautyBuilding.jpg

Dave at Holyrood Palace

Dave at Palace

Edinburgh Hard Rock Cafe

Edinburgh Street

DaveEdinburgh.jpg

Celtic Cross at a Church

Nothing makes me want to hit the road again than looking at pictures from past trips!

   

SoCal

Posted on Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Dave!Last night was a tragic turn of events when I couldn't get any sleep. At all.

It seemed as though every fifteen minutes there was an ice emergency going on at the ice machine outside my hotel room. I can only guess that somebody is making the world's largest frozen margarita... or they're trying to keep a dead body from decomposing while they made plans to flee the country (don't you just hate it when the crack-whore you hire for the evening's entertainment goes and dies of an overdose while you're in the shower?).

Oh well. Who really needs sleep anyway?

I did have an absolutely beautiful morning view of the marina from my balcony though. I went to grab my Canon pocket camera so I could capture the moment, and was pretty upset when I discovered that I forgot to slip it into my backpack for the trip. I then decided to see just how bad a job the crappy camera on my iPhone would do, and somehow managed this...

San Diego Marina at Sunrise

Not bad. Every once in a while iPhone takes pictures like a real camera, and it always takes me by surprise.

From there it was work in San Diego followed by a ride to more work up in Orange County. The weather forecast was dire, but other than a few rain sprinkles, it wasn't the armageddon-level event the television meteorologist warned about.

After work I was lucky enough to hook up with Ninja & Bombshell for dinner and kråpflaarg in Irvine, and got to meet the latest addition to their family. It seems like only yesterday they got married, and here they are with an 8-week-old baby!

As expected, a fun time was had by all, and dinner at The Veggie Grill was fantastic. There were quite a few birds entertaining us by goofing off and scavenging around our table. One bird in particular caught our attention because he appeared to only have one leg. But every once in a while he would drop his other leg and go hopping around. Eventually we figured out he had a foot that was deformed, and figured it must have been easier for him to just tuck it up rather than try to stand on it. Tonight as I was looking through my iPhone photos, I zoomed in and noticed his "good foot" was also looking a bit deformed...

Bird with One Foot?

What a trooper! He didn't seem to be malnourished or anything. He just had a little tougher time getting around than other birds, but had found a way to adapt to the situation just fine. Yet another example of nature inspiring us to cope with adversity in our lives.

And thus ends my adventure in SoCal. A big thanks to Ninja and Bombshell for the 150 miles they drove in order to hang out with me today. I am totally not worth that kind of trouble, but was happy to meet up again after two years!

Halloween Caramel Apples

Really, really hoping that my journey home tomorrow is incident-free...

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Airline

Posted on Friday, October 16th, 2009

Dave!The flight home from Los Angeles yesterday was awful.

I know I say that a lot, but usually I'm exaggerating. A little. This time I am not exaggerating at all. The sights. The sounds. THE SMELLS! Not to mention the crazy-ass bitch next to me who did not comprehend the concept of "personal space." It all added up to an epic disaster in travel history that I'm trying to forget.

Until I realize that things could always have been worse.

Which is why I simply MUST get my new airline started. It's the only way I can guarantee that all my flight experiences will be pleasant ones...

   
Except starting up an airline would require billions of dollars.

I don't have billions of dollars.

Which means I've had to go this route instead...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave writes DAVEAIR on a cardboard box and hops inside

It's almost as good.

Assuming I only want to travel from one side of my living room to the other.

Which means I've had to come up with alternate travel plans for my flight to Florida tomorrow.

Darn it anyway.

   

Cross-Country

Posted on Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Dave!I can't blog today because I'm flying all the way to Florida for a visit with Hilly-Sue followed by random encounters with other bloggers and a big Halloween party.


DAVETOON: Lil' Dave is flying to Snackie's house!

   

There are definitely worse ways to spend a week.

   

Bullet Sunday 153

Posted on Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Dave!It's Bullet Sunday from sunny Orlando, Florida!

• Jinkies! Hilly's new cat, Jinkies, is really amazing. She's friendly, personable, independent, fun, and a little bit crazy... all the qualities you want in a kitteh. Except when you are trying to blog, in which case you want the exact opposite qualities. No matter what I did or where I moved my laptop, Jinkies made a point of going there to join me...

Kitty on My Laptop

And ten minutes later...

Hilly's Cat Sitting on My Laptop's Keyboard While I Try to Type!

And fifteen minutes after that...

Yet Another Attempt to Blog

Even trying to dump her off the keyboard fifteen minutes after that resulted in Jinks hanging on for dear life...

Jinkies Scrambling Up My Keyboard

Longest. Time. To. Write. A. Blog. Post. Ever.

   
• Whore! You know when you're on an airplane? And you know that space against the wall next to the windows? That gap above your arm rest like this...

Arm Rest Gap!

As I was sitting in my seat after takeoff yesterday, I felt something nudge my arm. Looking down, I saw that the woman behind me HAD PUT HER FEET THROUGH THE GAP AND SET THEM ON MY ARMREST!! What the hell? How big a bitch do you have to be to put your stinky feet on SOMEBODY ELSE'S ARMREST? Seriously? I was scared to even look at what freaky shit the whore might be doing back there, so I decided to take immediate action. My first instinct was to grab my metal brick of a MacBook Pro and smash her fucking feet so hard that I broke every bone inside. But I really don't need any incidents on my TSA Permanent Record, so I decided to use a magazine and gently nudge her feet off my seat instead. And it worked. For about an hour. Then they were back. So I ended up rolling up my jacket and stuffing it in the gap. That worked for about another hour until she weasled her feet under my jacket. Finally I jammed my elbow back there and left it so she couldn't invade my space again. She ended up sticking her feet in her window well above my head instead. Yes, I know... I have terrible luck with travel. But WTF?!?

   
• Sunset! I also have pretty good luck when I travel. The view out my window at sunset was pretty amazing. And pink...

Pink Sunset!

   
• Nuts! In what seems to be a growing trend amongst airlines, I was served warmed nuts after takeoff. First with Northwest, then with Delta, and now with Alaska Airlines...

Dish of Warmed Nuts

At first I thought it was just a novelty, but now I'm kind of used to it. Even worse, the airlines have spoiled me, and now I'm going to have to go buy me a nut-warmer appliance of some kind. Once you've had your nuts warmed, you really don't want to serve them any other way.

   
• Dive! In other airplane-type news... I was going through my last batch of negative scans when I ran across photos from my very first skydiving adventure. In the first shot, I'm in the plane on the way up and looking like I'm regretting the idea of it all (but am actually just making sure my contact lenses are lubed up). The second is a shot of me on the way down that my friend took. I haven't jumped out of a plane in over a decade now, and am kind of missing it...

Dave Riding up for Skydiving

Diving!

Yep, jumping out of a plane sounds pretty good! ESPECIALLY WHEN SOME BITCH IS STICKING HER SKANKY FEET ON MY ARMREST!!

   
• Twittered! I'm really liking Tweetie 2.0 for iPhone, and one of my favorite features is the "Near Me" view where you can see Twitterers in your area on a map...

Tweetie Two Screenshot

Pretty slick! At the airport it's particularly cool because you can listen to OTHER people bitch about THEIR travel problems!

And now it's time to kick back and watch some television. Tomorrow is a big day...

   

Day One: Disney World

Posted on Monday, October 19th, 2009

Dave!Today Hilly-Sue and I went to Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. It was a lot of fun.

Disney Animal Kingdom Tree of Life

Disney's Everest Forbidden Mountain

Everest Yeti Destruction

Do Not Feed the Animals

Safari Elephant

Safari Ape

Safari Ape

Safari Giraffe

DUCKIES!

DINOSAUR!

Hollywood Tower

Mouse About Town Sign

Indiana Jones Stunts

Mace Windu vs. Vader??

Mr. Potato Head WANTED!

And what adventures will tomorrow bring?

   

Day Two: Magic Kingdom

Posted on Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Dave!Today Hilly-Sue and I went to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. It was a lot of fun.

Walt Disney World Castle

Walt Disney World Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Rollercoaster

Dave & Hilly on Big Thunder at Walt Disney World

Tombstones at Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion

Walt Disney World Splash Mountain

View from the Top of Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World Tomorrow Land

Walt Disney World Halloween Decorations

Walt Disney World's Halloween Party

Walt Disney World Fireworks

Walt Disney World Fireworks

Walt Disney World Fireworks

Walt Disney World Fireworks

And now, breaking back into reality for a minute... this video is from Maine, but its message applies equally well to my fellow Washington State voters...

It still boggles my mind that I am afforded rights in this country that some of my friends are not. It is even more inexplicable how in the year 2009 there could ever be legislation in place to take even more of their rights away. These are people... people... the same as everybody else who are just trying to make their way through life the best way they know how, find happiness where they can, and enjoy the freedoms this country is supposed to be about. Nobody has the right to tell two consenting adults that their relationship is any less valid or special than anybody else's, no matter what they believe. It's unfair. It's un-American. It's inhuman.

Approve Ref. 71 Washington

Related entries at Blogography...
Happiness
Henry
Wrong
NOH8

   

Day Three: Epcot

Posted on Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Dave!Today Hilly-Sue and I went to Walt Disney World's Epcot and World Showcase. It was a lot of fun.

Epcot Ball

Disney Epcot's World Showcase: MEXICO

Disney Epcot's World Showcase: CHINA

Disney Epcot's World Showcase: GERMANY

Disney Epcot's World Showcase: ITALY

Disney Epcot's World Showcase: JAPAN

Disney Epcot's World Showcase: BRITAIN

Disney Epcot's World Showcase: CANADA

And lastly... if only I had $32 burning a hole in my pocket to buy this vintage "Original Mickey" T-Shirt, which I find to be very cool...

Original Mickey Mouse T-Shirt

Thus ends our three days in The Happiest Place On Earth: East Coast Edition.

   

Day Four: Sea World

Posted on Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Dave!Today Robyn and I went to Sea World. It was a lot of fun.

Manta Roller Coaster Sign

   
EXCEPT when we went on the "Atlantis" ride...

Sea World Atlantis Ride

We ended up so frickin' wet that you'd have thought we jumped in a swimming pool. There was not a dry spot on me, and I was thoroughly soaked from head to toe. Getting a little wet on rides like "Splash Mountain" at Disneyland is fun. Getting so drenched that your shoes are filled with water and you're miserable for the rest of the day is not fun. Sea World needs to seriously consider revamping this ride to make it less soaktacular. Oh well, the only thing we could do was laugh about it all, so we did...

Wet Dave and Wet Robyn

Sea World Dolphins

More Sea World dolphins.

Sea World Shamu Show

Shark Encounter Sign

SHARK!!!

Jake the Shark

Another day gone by too soon...

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Day Five: Discovery Cove

Posted on Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Dave!Today I went to Sea World's Discovery Cove with Robyn and Rachel. It was a lot of fun.

Discovery Cove is a different kind of theme park. It's an interactive experience with sea creatures (and birds) that has strict visitor count limits to insure everybody has an opportunity to do all the stuff they have available without being crowded out of anything. Because of this, you can't just "show up" and expect to get a ticket... you have to make a reservation in advance. And while it is quite expensive, it's also all-inclusive, so your food, wet-suit, and snorkel gear are all included (photo/video packages and souvenirs are extra).

Just as you'd expect from the people at Sea World, Discovery Cove is beautifully appointed and immaculately maintained. A lot of thought went into exactly how everything would work, and there is a massive work-staff to make sure visitors are safe and well cared for. The food was all very good, with plenty of choices and some vegetarian options.

The first thing you do is get either a swim vest or wetsuit, snorkel gear, and some special waterproof sun-block that won't hurt the animals (but turns your hair and eyebrows blue-gray so everybody looks like an alien)...

Dave in a Wetsuit

Then you can explore all the different areas for swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing...

Snorkel Cave

My favorite creatures at the park are the graceful and gentle rays, which are happy to glide right by you so you can walk up and pet them...

Ray

Ray

Petting a Ray

Spotted Ray

Spotted Ray

But there are plenty of fish to swim with and look at too...

Blue Fish

The on-site aviary is cool, allowing you to get all up-close and personal with some feathered friends...

Fluffy Bird

Dave with a Bird
Me looking vaguely alien-like with that blue-gray sun-block.

Feeding the Birds

But the biggest "claim-to-fame" activity of Discovery Cove is being able to arrange a personal dolphin visit and swim-along...

Hanging with a Dolphin

Kissing a Dolphin
I won't spoil it for Robyn and Rachel by posting their photos, but I will show them kissing a dolphin so everybody knows that I didn't go around randomly kissing animals at the park... it's part of the program!

Swimming with Dolphins

I am lucky enough to have previously visited Discovery Cove as they were just opening. It was a little more chaotic back then, but now everything has kind of settled down and operates like a well-oiled machine. I do feel that the park gets a little crowded in parts from time to time, but it's never seemed so overwhelming that you can't do something when you want to. And even though it's pretty expensive ($255 with tax), I also think it's a good value for the money given its all-inclusive nature and the unique experiences they offer (even more so when you consider you get unlimited 2-week admission to Sea World included in the package).

The only place where I'm torn is the idea of using living creatures as entertainment. On one hand, Sea World goes to painstaking lengths to ensure the health and safety of their animals, and they are better cared for and live longer than they would be in the wild. Staff is also quick to point out that all performance by the dolphins is strictly voluntary, and if a dolphin didn't feel like doing something they could swim away at any time. Most of the creatures are also bred in captivity, so the life they have is all they know. Others are rescued from situations where they would have died, so Sea World is giving them a new lease on life. On the surface (so to speak) it seems an idyllic life for an animal.

On the other hand, they're not free. Dolphins are highly intelligent, curious, and social creatures who need a much bigger world to live in than some fish tank at Sea World. I hesitate to apply human emotional states to them (hey, who knows?) but it seems difficult to imagine that they could be as "happy" in captivity as they could be in the wild. Sure they could swim away if they wanted to... but just to the other side of the tank. It's not as if they can swim out into the ocean (where they wouldn't be able to care for themselves even if they could). And while performing is optional, all those tasty fish they get for learning tricks and getting kissed by tourists seem to be a hard thing to pass up when there's not much else for them to do.

I can only hope that by being able to visit with these fascinating creatures up-close-and-personal in captivity, people will have more of an interest in preserving them in the wild. Maintaing our human lifestyles takes a massive toll on the environment, and habitats for the animal population are quickly becoming toxic cesspools incapable of sustaining life. If getting people to start caring for wildlife is a consequence of places like Discovery Cove, then maybe the sacrifice animals make by being trapped there is worth it.

In any event, if you can afford the steep price of admission and you're in the Orlando area, Discovery Cove is highly recommended.

   

Day Six: Avitaween

Posted on Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Dave!Your beloved King and Queen of the People's Republic of Blogistan made an appearance at Avitaween tonight...

King Dave2 and Queen Hilly of the PRB

   

Thanks to The Avitables for yet another genius Halloween party extravaganza!

   

Bullet Sunday 154

Posted on Sunday, October 25th, 2009

Dave!Or, probably more like "Bullet Monday" since I refuse to pay the outrageous fees that some airports charge for internet access so I can post this on time.


• Why I love Avitaween: Reason #87. It may sound insane to fly across the country for a Halloween Party, but if you've ever experienced Halloween with The Avitables, you'd know it's actually one of the easiest decisions I can make. It's more of an event than a party, and the work that goes into making it so special is positively mind-boggling. My camera battery died, so I don't have any photos myself, but there are plenty showing up on the Avitaween Flickr Group. Thanks so much to Adam & Amy for yet another fantastic evening, and I'm already looking forward to next year!

Aliens Invade!


• Why I love pussy: Reason #1240 This past week staying at Casa de Hilly, I had grown accustomed to her cat being anywhere and everywhere I go. Brushing my teeth? Pussy in the sink. Going to bed? Pussy on the pillow. Writing in my blog? Pussy on my laptop. Any time we were home, Jinkies was a constant presence...

Pussy in the Bed
Pussy in the Bed...

Pussy on the Computer
Pussy on the Computer...

Pussy in the Sink
Pussy in the Sink...

Pussy Attack Under the Door
Pussy Attacking Under the Door...

Now that I'm home and pussy-free, I admit that it's a little bit depressing to not have that kind of constant attention. One of these days I guess I need to get a pussy of my own.


• Why I loathe John McCain: Reason #2368. It is no secret that I despise John McCain on every possible level. Most of it has to do with his betrayal of POW/MIAs (as I documented in a previous entry), but there is a laundry list of other reasons I wish he would disappear off the face of the earth... not one of them having to do with his political affiliation (as I've said before, I did vote for some Republicans in the last election, mostly on local races). Every single day I'm eternally grateful such a raging asshole never became President of The United States of America. Any disappointments I've had over President Obama's broken promises and meandering around on the issues that got him elected are immediately offset when I think of how fucked this country would be if McCain got elected. And now there's yet another reason... he is so busy suckling from the teat of the Telecom Lobby that even National Security falls by the wayside. I will be the first to admit this conclusion is a bit of a stretch, but it does make a valid point of showing how McCain is more than happy to speak out on issues he knows absolutely nothing about... so long as the money is right. Just politics as usual in the USA, I guess.


• Why I am nearing a breakdown: Reason #642346 After three flights and a car-drive home, I'll have just over eight hours to work, sleep, eat, and re-pack before heading back to the airport for a flight returning me to the East Coast. It sounds bad, but I've had much worse. The problem is that the weather is starting to change, which makes flying a hit-and-miss game of "will they or won't they cancel my flight?" The weather forecast is calling for SNOW back home starting next week, which is an added level of travel horror I'm not really ready to deal with just yet. It seems like only yesterday that a quick 3-day trip turned into an 8-day adventure when snow caused the airports to shut down (but it was actually last December). Fun. Fun. Fun.


And thus ends another travel edition of Bullet Sunday, this time written from somewhere over North Dakota (I think).

   

Knackered

Posted on Monday, October 26th, 2009

Dave!If there are no objections, I think I'll skip blogging tonight. I've been traveling all day and really need to get some sleep.

Good night everybody!

   

Diary

Posted on Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Dave!Ooh! It's a day in the life of Dave2!

Last night I arrived at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport around 11:30pm. I was exhausted from traveling for over 12 hours, and was in no mood to mess with a car rental, but since I had to drive out at 6:00am I didn't have much choice. After getting my stall number from the Hertz #1 Club Gold board, I made my way to the car, tossed my crap in the back, sat down, grabbed the keys, went to start the ignition... and noticed my "keys" were not keys at all. They were some kind of magical transmitter that communicated with the car. Turns out I had been given a Nissan Altima Hybrid, and all I needed to do was have the "keys" inside the car and press the "start" button...

Nissan Altima Hybrid Key
Photo taken from a nice review at About.com.

From there it was only a short drive to the Aloft Hotel at Arundel Mills.

SIDE NOTE: I love, love, love Aloft Hotels. I'm usually a Hilton Whore, but any time I find an Aloft where I'm staying, it is my absolute first choice. Very nice rooms at very nice prices, and service that is second to none. This is the fifth Aloft city I've stayed at, and I have nothing but raves for the chain. If I were to build my dream hotel, it would be an Aloft. Highest possible recommendation.

This morning after waking up, getting showered & dressed, and heading to my car... I noticed it was pitch black and raining... hard. Not the best conditions for a two hour drive into Pennsylvania, but I've had worse. Until it started raining even harder and I could barely see the road. Accidents were everywhere, and the extra hour and fifteen minutes I had added "just in case" was gone before I knew it. I barely arrived to my meeting on time.

Fortunately, the return drive to BWI was much easier. I got back around 1:30, worked for two hours at the hotel, then drove back to the airport so I could drop off the Nissan Altima Hybrid (which I ended up liking a lot!). From there... I decided to hop a train down to Washington, D.C. for dinner in the rain. All my photos are from the crummy camera in my iPhone, so you've been warned...

White House
The White House. I thought for sure President Obama would have come out to say hello, but he didn't. Maybe he wasn't home?

Washington Monument with Construction Vehicles in Front
The Washington Monument. I love this photo, and titled it "Monumental Construction" when I uploaded it to Flickr.

It's the FBI...
The J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building. Conveniently located across the street from the Hard Rock Cafe.

The Hard Rock WA DC
The Hard Rock Cafe Washington, D.C. Kind of boring on the outside, but vintage Hard Rock on the inside!

Hard Rock Cafe Washington, D.C.
The Embassy of Rock. A very nice dual-level Hard Rock property with plenty of nifty memorabilia.

   
After dinner, I hopped a train back to the airport. But along the way I somehow decided that I should continue on into Baltimore since it was only 8:00. Fortunately, the conductor was able to upgrade my ticket onboard, and away I went...
   

Carnival Cruiselines
Tired of Pants? This is the first thing I see when I arrive at Baltimore's Penn Station. My kind of city!

Male/Female Statue at Penn Station
Klaatu Barada Nikto? The first thing you see when exiting Penn Station is a freaky giant aluminum statue called "Male/Female."

Hard Rock Cafe Baltimore
Hard Rock Cafe Baltimore. My iPhone obviously does not do well in the dark.

Hard Rock Cafe Baltimore Interiror
Inside the HRC Baltimore. Yet another classic, beautiful, memorabilia-packed Hard Rock property.

Waterfront in Baltimore
Guardrails?!? Every time I'm in Baltimore, I'm shocked as hell that there are NO GUARDRAILS at the waterfront! What keeps drunks from falling in? Or kids from goofing off and being pushed in? It's just mind-boggling that nobody has been sued over this yet.

   
I had thought I was in Baltimore just a couple years ago, but I can't find any record of it on my blog. Maybe I wasn't able to blog about the trip? I dunno. The last time I can verify that I was here was six years ago on a layover to Reykjavik, Iceland. I know I wasn't here in May of this year, because the Baltimore Sun News Building is still standing.

Anyway... I was too tired to track down a light-rail train back to BWI and arrange for a shuttle, so I just bit the bullet and paid the $35 to take a taxi back to my hotel. I still had a couple hours work to get done, so any time saved would be worth the cost.

And that was pretty much my day today. Now it's time to get some sleep.

   

Escaping

Posted on Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Dave!As I sit here at Detroit Metro International Airport for the third time in four days, all I can think of is escape. From this airport I could go just about anywhere on earth because it's a major hub for Northwest/Delta. And as I walk by gate after gate displaying exotic (and not-so-exotic) destinations, it occurs to me just how easily I could walk up to an agent, have my ticket changed, and be on my way to parts unknown. Preferably someplace without mobile phones and internet. I've been a lot of places around this world, but there are still hundreds of destinations awaiting me, and right now all I want to do is pick one.

Dave Explorers

Alas, irresponsibility doesn't seem to be in my genetic make-up.

Or is it?

If you don't hear from me ever again, now you'll know why.

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Cold

Posted on Friday, November 13th, 2009

Dave!This morning after waking up and working for a couple hours in bed, I took a shower, got dressed, and started packing up my crap to go into the office. Then I walked by my window, saw it was snowing, took my laptop back out of my bag, and sat down on the couch. I just wasn't in the mood to deal with snow on a Friday. Especially Friday the Thirteenth.

After an hour of winter denial, I scraped off my car and headed out into this snowy wonder bullshit.

Though I should probably clarify that it's not the snow that bothers me. It's the cold that comes with it...

DAVETOON: Bad Monkey shivering in the winter cold.

I just don't like being cold.

But even worse than the cold is having to travel in the winter.

Last year I was stuck in Seattle for a full week after weather shut down the entire airport, and busses and trains couldn't run.

Time to mentally prepare myself for my upcoming trips while trying not to freak at the thought of getting stuck. Again. As usual. Because going back through my blog, it seems to happen every year.

Waaah!

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Altitude

Posted on Friday, November 20th, 2009

Dave! GAH! What a horrific day this has been. The only way it could have been worse would be if the police got involved. Though, to be honest, I think my life would be a lot easier if I had a police escort everywhere I go, so maybe I said that too hastily. Where are Crocket and Tubbs when you need them?

Things started with a lovely drive to the airport, which was fraught with peril because the usual round of dumbasses were on the road with me. My favorite was a car that ran a red light at a four-way intersection, swerved into a ditch, bounced out of the ditch, then drove away with his trunk flying open... the door flapping up and down as he sped off. Seriously, where are Crocket and Tubbs when you need them?!?

Once at the airport, I paid the ABSURDLY STUPID $15 FEE to check my bag, and away I went.

My first flight was worse than usual because one of those "guys-who-are-compelled-to-tell-their-life-story-to-unwilling-strangers" sat across the aisle from me... regaling his seat-mate with fascinating tales of his painfully ordinary life... FROM BIRTH! The worst part? HE FINISHED HIS LIFE STORY BEFORE WE EVEN TOOK OFF! Which you'd think would be a good thing, because he wouldn't have anything else left to talk about, right? Wrong! He then had to embellish the mundane tales he had already told... this time with BONUS DRAMA!

After landing I went to board my connecting flight, only to be told I had to go stand in line at the service counter so I could trade in my ticket in for a boarding pass. Thank heavens for that, because what this world totally needs is to manufacture even MORE paper waste for no good reason other than the gate agent is too frackin' lazy to type in my seat number manually, and needs a bar-code to do the job for him. After (finally) getting on the stupid plane, I grab the in-flight magazine where the airline is touting some kind of "green initiative" to reduce waste and recycle more. Usually such hypocritical bullshit is accompanied by a laugh-track, but this time there wasn't one so I had a hard time finding anything funny about it.

The flight itself was fairly uneventful, except for some cackling whore who was laughing her ass off at ear-splitting volume for a good portion of the 5-hour flight. Even with my iPod turned up to 11, I could still hear her stupid ass yucking it up, which was just irritating enough for me to wish her dead... but not irritating enough for me to wander back and choke the ever-loving-shit out of her.

The in-flight map and stats package was borked, as the arrival time was over two hours off and we never flew above 0 ft. altitude for the entire trip. This seemed quite dangerous considering we were going 550 miles per hour...

Flight Stats Showing Us Flying at 0 Feet!

The sunset and in-flight internet were nice though...

The Horizon at Sunset

After landing, I grabbed my suitcase and hopped a shuttle to my hotel at the airport. After checking into my room, I did not pass GO! I did not collect $200. I instead went straight to the bar for dinner and drinking...

It's a Stella Beer on the Bar!

Now that I'm back in my room, it's obvious I didn't drink enough. There's some kind of college event being held here, and people are running up and down the halls screaming and having parties in their rooms. At 11:30pm at night. Which is great for those of us who actually want to try and get some sleep.

Typical.

Can't catch a break... even after the day is done

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Freestylin’

Posted on Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Dave!When traveling during the winter months, I always try to leave a day early to make sure any weather delays or other problems don't screw up my schedule. It's a necessary evil that I usually loathe because the last thing I want to do is be stuck traveling an extra day if I don't have to. But when traveling to Atlanta I never mind so much because there's some really good blogger friends that inhabit the area. Since I didn't have any travel problems, this left me all day to hang out with the gang and do some really cool stuff. Sweet!

The day started out at the High Museum to see a special exhibit by one of my absolute heroes... Leonardo Da Vinci. His works have such profound meaning to me that I never pass up an opportunity to see an exhibit, and this was almost too good to be true. Even better, Kevin, Beth, Diana, and Muskrat were kind enough to accompany me (after a lecture on how we couldn't point to anything with an ink pen because the pen might explode on the priceless artifacts... if we simply must point at something with a writing instrument, golf pencils would happily be provided). I thought the exhibit was wonderful, featuring some incredible pages from Leonardo's sketchbooks...

Sketches by Leonardo Da Vinci

If you're in Atlanta, it's well-worth a stop. The exhibit runs through February 21st.

After lunch in Buckhead, Kevin, Beth, and I headed back down to the Alliance Theater for a show by Chicago's Second City comedy troupe called "Peach Drop, Stop, and Roll." It's a highly-Atlanta-specific performance that shows no mercy in ribbing some of the city's most famous (infamous) places, people, and traditions...

Second City Peach Drop Atlanta

If you're an Atlanta local looking for a laugh, the show has been extended to December 27th, and is worth a look.

Since it's impossible to have too much to eat when visiting Atlanta, we decided to go eat miracle French fries at Five Guys back in Buckhead since there was an establishment next door that has a Coke Freestyle Soda Fountain Machine. This miraculous piece of Epic Win is able to custom-mix over 100 soda flavors on demand, including my beloved ORIGINAL COKE WITH LIME!!

Coke Freestyle Machine

After our pre-dinner, we headed up to Maggiano's Little Italy for real dinner, where we met up with Julie, Heather & Ty-Man, and Muskrat & Deb. A fantastic time (and fantastic meal!) was had by all, though not one of us seemed to think of taking a photograph.

The reunion was made bitter-sweet by the absence of some dear blogger friends, including Anissa, who has been in the hospital since Tuesday after suffering a massive stroke. It was less than four months ago that she was sitting right next to me... laughing along with everybody and stealing a bite of my fried macaroni & cheese balls...

Everybody except Julie at Davelanta 3
Anissa, looking lovely in fuschia on the far right.

For anybody looking for news on how Anissa's doing, her husband Peter has been posting updates over at Hope4Peyton. There was also a nice piece in yesterday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution (thanks to Father Muskrat for the link). All my best wishes to the Mayhew family for Anissa's recovery.

And now I'm back at my four-star College Co-Ed Party Hotel blasting Thompson Twins in my earbuds to drown out the hard-partying in the next room and down the hallway. I requested a late check-out tomorrow so I can (hopefully) catch up on the sleep I missed from last night and tonight. I don't know if that's going to work, but I can only guess everybody will take off for church in the morning to leave me with some peace and quiet for a while.

Fingers crossed.

   

Bullet Sunday 158

Posted on Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Dave!It's Bullet Sunday from a surprisingly cold and unexpectedly rainy section of rural Georgia!

• Bring on The Hate. Just like Friday night, Saturday evening was a non-stop party on the 11th floor of the Hilton Atlanta Hartsfield Airport. No less than six people were laughing it up in the room to the right of me. People were having sex in the room above me (at least I hope that's what it was). The hallway was filled with drunken douchebags until 2:00am. And doors kept slamming into the early morning down the corridor. Sleep was next to impossible, so I begged the front desk to give me a late check-out of 2:30 so I could (maybe) take a nap and not spend my first day of work as a zombie. I then spent my evening listening to my iPod at full volume. It's at times like this I really hate people.

   
• As God Intended. I had read about Google's wonderful gift of Free WiFi at major airports across the USA, and was happy to discover that Seattle was among them when I flew out this past Friday. What I was not prepared for was that this was going to be a gift that keeps on giving...

Free WiFi Forever at Sea-Tac!

That's right... apparently Google is going to continue the free internet at Seattle-Tacoma International INDEFINITELY! This is fantastic news, because I stopped paying for internet access at airports once I got my iPhone, but miss being able to use my laptop. Thanks, Google!

   
• TripIt Social. I think I've mentioned a couple of times how my frequent travels are made much, much easier now that I use TripIt to manage all my travel plans. I simply forward all my confirmation emails to TripIt, and the free service automatically builds my itinerary and keep all my information together in one place. It's brilliant, and has quickly become an indispensable tool. Things got even better when they launched a free iPhone companion app. And I was in heaven when they launched a "TripIt Pro" version which adds flight monitoring and other goodies for a nominal annual fee. Genius!

As I have become hopelessly reliant on TripIt, you can imagine my horror when I found the latest update to their iPhone app crashed every time I launched it. I wouldn't have minded so much if I was using the free version, but I am a paid TripIt Pro member, and expect better. I then Tweeted my frustration thusly...

TripIt on Twitter

Not ten minutes later, somebody at TripIt had seen my Tweet, tracked down my email address, and emailed me a solution to the problem (delete it off my iPhone and reinstall it). Things worked perfectly after that, and then I noticed that there was another update at the iTunes Store to solve the problem. Odds are that TripIt fixed the problem immediately, but Apple's hideously slow draconian "approval" process meant there was a long delay before iPhone users could actually get their hands on it. In any event, way to go, TripIt! it's nice to know that companies are starting to make use of social media for GOOD instead of the EVIL bullshit I've become accustomed to (oh how I hate Twitter spam!).

   
• Dungeon Master Revisited. One of my all-time favorite games is Dungeon Master, which I played constantly on my old Atari ST computer. It was fantasy role playing at its best, and did an incredible job (for the time) of immersing you in another world for hours of adventure. I spent years trying to find a worthy successor, but none came. As computers got faster and graphics got better, flashy animation and complex battle mechanics seemed to take precedence over gameplay. This wasn't nearly as much fun for me, as I preferred the elegant simplicity of the original. So while I can appreciate terrific games like Dragon Age, nothing that has come out since has been able to recapture those heady days and nights I spent engrossed in Dungeon Master back in the late 1980's.

Until now. Enter Undercroft for the iPhone...

Undercroft for iPhone Dungeon Exploring

Undercroft for iPhone White Wolves Attack!

It's so similar to Dungeon Master as to be spooky, but definitely manages to strike out in a direction all its own. I am having more fun with Undercroft than I've had with a video game for ages, and the fact it fits in my pocket is just icing on the cake. About the only thing I don't like about it is the idea that it's eventually going to end. I can only hope that the developer, Rake In Grass, is game for a sequel. If you've got an iPhone or iPod Touch, you can get a taste of the fun for FREE with the Undercroft Lite Demo.

   
And now it's time to get my caffeine on so that I can stay awake all night long for work. Hopefully my brain will not turn to moosh before the job is done tomorrow morning.

   

Inflight

Posted on Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Dave!Hello from 32,019 feet.

I'm on my way home for an entire week (seven whole nights of sleeping in my own bed!), so I'm kind of stoked about that. If it weren't for the massive pile of work I've got waiting for me, I'd be downright ecstatic.

It doesn't hurt that there's WiFi on-board... and FREE, thanks to eBay...

Free Onboard WiFi from eBay Sign

Being able to have internet access while flying is a game-changer. It certainly makes cross-country flights more fun... and productive.

Which reminds me, I should probably get back to work now.

Darnit.

But before I go... what is it with people and napkins?

Every time I eat out at a fast-food place or a food court or wherever they offer self-serve napkins to people, I see idiots taking stacks and stacks of them. This woman who sat next to me today had a carton of noodles with vegetables, a bottle of Snapple, and OVER AN INCH-HIGH STACK OF FRICKIN' NAPKINS!! After I finished my meal, I sat there transfixed, curious to see how many she'd actually use.

The answer?

Two.

She then ended up throwing away the thirty-plus napkins that she didn't use.

And she wasn't alone. Once I started looking, I was seeing people tossing out unused napkins by the hundreds. They were everywhere... left on tables... scattered on floors. It was all so very wasteful... and disappointing...

Bad Monkey wastes napkins while eating cake!

It's no wonder our planet is turning into a giant trash heap... it all starts with the little things.

Today it's wasted napkins in the garbage, tomorrow it's raw sewage in a lake. Such is the world we're building for ourselves.

And we deserve it.

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Almost

Posted on Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Dave!I've been working non-stop for two weeks and then been traveling non-stop for two days. I think I'm dead. All I need now is a voodoo doctor to resurrect me and it's zombie time...

Zombie Dave!

Unfortunately, I couldn't connect with a flight home this evening, so I'm spending the night in Seattle.

I'll look for the voodoo doctor in the morning.

   

Pearl

Posted on Monday, December 7th, 2009

Dave!It's Pearl Harbor Day!

Last year I made my second trip to the USS Arizona Memorial. It's about as beautiful a tribute to those who lost their lives as you can imagine...

Arizona Memorial

Arizona Memorial

Arizona Memorial

Arizona Memorial

Thanks to all of you who gave so much.

And thanks to Jester for having me as a guest on his show tonight. Here's links to the things that came up...

Good show!

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Closure

Posted on Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Dave!As I am likely to do most evenings, I have the television turned on as background noise so I can focus on my work. Tonight my ears pricked up when I heard "Gran Canaria" mentioned, because it's a location very high on my list of places to visit. Partly because it's a part of Spain and I've loved all my previous visits to the country. Partly because it is supposed to be a very beautiful island. But mostly because it's a Hard Rock Cafe location that I haven't been to yet.

At least it was.

Out of habit when I hear the name of a Hard Rock location I'm lacking, I check to see if the property there is still open. It turns out that Gran Canaria isn't. It was closed back in October.

Well, shit.

I guess I should have gone to Gran Canaria instead of Mallorca back in January. Of course, had I done that, then it would have been Mallorca that closed (because I am just that lucky). To add insult to injury, I found out that the beautiful Hard Rock Cafe in Montreal (along with the nifty Skydome location in Toronto) had closed back in September. Oh well, at least I had visited those locations.

Sure I can still visit Gran Canaria one of these days, but it's not the same without having a cafe to check off my list. People can laugh at me all they want, but it's thanks to my Hard Rock Cafe addiction that I've visited several places around the world which I never would have seen otherwise. Fantastic cities like Warsaw, Poland... Fukuoka, Japan... Reykjavik, Iceland... Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia... or even Gatlinburg, Tennessee... and many, many more. It was checking cafes off a list that made me want to go there. The fact that I always find loads of amazing stuff to see and do in addition to a cafe visit is just icing on the cake.

Bah.

Will somebody please give me a million dollars and unlimited airline miles so I can visit all the Hard Rocks before any more of them close down? That would be great, thanks!

   

Housekeeping

Posted on Saturday, December 12th, 2009

Dave!In-between work projects, I've been trying to clear out the clutter... both physical and mental. My latest project has been to go through my massive store of books and get rid of all the outdated texts that are taking up space. I started with old computer manuals and then went on to web reference books for HTML, CSS, PHP, RUBY. From there I jumped to old software books for everything from Lightwave 3D to Photoshop. After that I went on to my travel books collection, which I can never bring myself to throw out.

And found something rather surprising.

Back in the year 2000, I was really starting to put some effort into seeing the world. I would use any excuse to leave the country, whether it was for a week in Japan on a work assignment... or just an overnight to Copenhagen so I could attend a birthday party. I'd go anywhere for anything just to say I'd been there.

I had always been collecting travel guides to dream about the places I could go, but now I was actually going, and my guidebook obsession went into overdrive. It's easy to find cheap travel books, because when a new revision comes out the old revision is put on half-price (or less). And I was buying them by the handfuls. Not only to places I'd already been so I could re-live my time there... but also to places I had no intention of ever going, just to see what it would be like to go there. Soon I was buying so many books that I could never read them all, and decided to stop. Partly because they were just piling up and collecting dust, but mostly since you can get all that information on the internet now.

As I was vacuuming off my collection I noticed that, with two exceptions, I've been to all the places in the dozens of guides I bought. The two books that are left are "Eyewitness Travel Guides Peru" and "Frommer's Australia 2001."

Add India, Amalfi, and Cambodia... and my top-5 dream destinations guide is complete.

All it ever seems to take anymore is time and money to make dreams come true. After re-stacking my travel books back on the shelf, I found myself wishing I had more of both.

Categories: Travel 2009Click To It: Permalink  2 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Overreaction

Posted on Monday, December 28th, 2009

Dave!Look, as somebody who travels frequently, I am all for rules and regulations that will actually give me a better chance of not exploding in-air from a terrorist attack. But this ever-escalating dog-and-pony show in the name of "safety" only serves to punish the innocent and has really got to stop...

Recreational Air Travel is Going Down

   

When it comes to airline security, we've got to pull up before it's too late.

   

Retrospective

Posted on Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Dave!It's the easiest blog post of the year, when I get to re-visit all my entries for the past 365 days and see just how pointless and futile my life really is! Much like last year, a lot of my time was spent traveling. I racked up 164,000 air miles on seven airlines. Unlike last year, I had only minimal flight delays and cancellations, which was a pleasant surprise.

And now the traditional random Blogography snippets of crap from the year that was 2009...


JANUARY

Admitted I have a Twitter addiction.

Goofed around at SeaWorld with mah Hilly-Sue in San Diego, where we rode the Buckets of Death, learned to BELIEVE, and joined the cult of Shamu the whale...

Dave and Hilly BELIEVE!
Seriously, how cute are we in this photo?

Was traumatized when Ms. Sizzle and I were sexually assaulted by Etta James at her Seattle concert.


FEBRUARY

Was nearly brought to tears at the Nazi Documentation Museum in Cologne, Germany.

Traveled to the beautiful island of Mallorca in Spain to visit the new Hard Rock Cafe there and see the sights...

Looking towards the Palma Cathedral at night

Revealed ten honest things about me.

Suffered from my drug abuse.

Said goodbye to a friend and learned what is really important...

Dave and Lisa


MARCH

Disapproved of First Lady Michelle Obama's wardrobe choices...

Michelle Obama Bad Weave

Spent a weekend goofing off in Seattle with my BFF Vahid.

Re-lived my life as one of the Spice Girls...

Had an absolute blast meeting up with friends in Davedon...

Davedon Group

Experienced the "magic" of Stonehenge...

Glowing Rays on Stonehenge!

Back to my favorite city on earth... Davenburgh!

Had the worst airport layover in the history of airport layovers.


APRIL

More blogger meet awesomeness at Dave York...

Dawg, Poppy, Earl.
Dawg and Poppy with B.E. Earl.

Dave York 2!
Robin, Libragirl, B.E. Earl, Me, and Cissa!

Tried my hand at some inappropriate Broadway reviews.

Reveled in the glory that is TequilaCon Santa Fe...

TQ2009 Planning Posse Boots


MAY

Expressed my disappointment with the current state of Cracker Jack prizes.

Explained a problem with my MASSIVE NOZZLE.

Gave a behind-the-scenes look at the Blogography Show when Whall was a guest...

Lil' Wayne Hall enters the stage...

Took a trip to Savannah, Georgia and visited the magnificent Bonaventure Cemetery.

Released the most important iPhone app ever...

Ask Dave! App Ad

Visited mah Hilly-Sue in her new home of Orlando where we got to be pirates and then go see Jesus at The Holy Land Experience.

Started up the Lil' Dave and Lil' Wayne MAC VS. PC cartoons...

DaveToonMacPC.gif

Told ignorant asshole Paul Marx of the Baltimore Sun to go fuck himself.


JUNE

Attended the spectacular ConFab blogger event in Lexington, Kentucky.

Debuted Baby Dave and Naughty Monkey for a guest-post on Anissa's blog...

Baby Dave and Naughty Monkey


JULY

Finally saw Duran Duran in concert with my sister.

Took a look at my wild-and-crazy days of youth...

Alcoholics Not-Anonymous Here We Come!

Revealed the secret of How to Blog the Blogography Way.

Joined in on Blogathon 2009 where I live-blogged new DaveToons every half-hour to benefit Doctors Without Borders.

Had the opportunity of a lifetime when I went to see Hayao Miyazaki speak in L.A. with blogging buddy Howard from The Web Pen Blog.


AUGUST

Ah, the wonder of exploring the biggest rock in the world and the joy of attending Davelanta3...

Everybody except Julie at Davelanta 3

Explained the Love Equality Formula and said NOH8 the best way I know how...

DAVETOON: NO H8

Had the adventure of a lifetime when I guest-posted at Puntabulous...

Super Viagra and Vagina Girl

Gave evidence as to why I was the most adorable baby ever.

Another fantastic blogger meet, this time at Daveorado...

Daveorado

Got to see my favorite band ever, Depeche Mode, in Salt Lake City with WarpedGirl 16 and Marty from Banal Leakage!


SEPTEMBER

Hit Las Vegas with the TequilaCon Planning Posse for event planning, debauchery, and ELVIS...

TequilaCon 2010 Planning Committee with Elvis

Took an amazing cruise to Alaska where I walked on a glacier, then went rafting with eagles, and ended up hiking with bears...

Lazy Bear

Got to see one of my favorite bands, the Pet Shop Boys, at their Seattle concert.

Explored my virtual career path...

Astronaut Dave!


OCTOBER

Just one word: pooferflargen.

And then there was the life-altering experience of attending Bitchsterdam...

Bitchsterdam Group

Showed off my HUGE package.

Said my peace on equality.

Finally got to see the adorable spawn of The Bombshell and The Ninja in SoCal.

Could there possibly be anything better than three days at Disney World with mah Hilly-Sue?

Dave & Hilly on Big Thunder at Walt Disney World

I dunno. But swimming with dolphins with Robyn and Rachel comes close...

Swimming with Dolphins

And so does a wild night at Avitaween and non-stop pussy...

Avtaween 2009 T-Shirt Design

Went Hard Rock Cafe hopping in Washington DC and Baltimore.


NOVEMBER

Learned the Tao of Bullshit with Josherz...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave drops his ice cream cone. THIS IS BULLSHIT!

Made some tentative plans for 2012...

DAVETOON: VOTE DAVE 2012

Back to Atlanta for time with friends and Freestylin' Coke.


DECEMBER

Not a lot, really. I did write this massive blog entry though.


   
And that was 2009. Everybody have a safe and happy New Year as we head into 2010, and thanks for reading!

   

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