It's B•U•L•L•E•T S•U•N•D•A•Y once again! Excuse me while I pull out my 44 Magnum...
• Spiceable... Is it just me, or is the Spice Girls one of the greatest musical groups of all time?
• Photoshopable... As I was working my way through filling orders from the Artificial Duck Co. store yesterday, I got a desperate phone call from a fellow designer. He was calling every Photoshop professional he knew, asking if they would help work on some photos he "inherited" for a project that was due on Monday. The previous designer (who was fired) had the photos taken without using a food stylist, and the results were really terrible. I felt bad for the guy, so I volunteered to work on a few images for him. I can tell you right now, you'll never have so much fun as Photoshopping sweat off of a brick of cheese on a Saturday afternoon.
• McDonaldable... Right now I would pay serious cash for a McVeggie Deluxe burger. But seeing as how it's only available at the New York Times Square McDonalds, I guess I'm out of luck. Why, why, WHY doesn't McDonalds roll this shit out nation-wide?
I'll trade you my iPhone for a McVeggie Deluxe!
• New Yorkable... Of course, thinking about food in New York only makes me want to have a REAL bagel. I need to work a trip to NYC in my travel plans just so I can eat for a few days.
• Potterable... In many ways, I'm grateful for the iPhone not just because it's yet another super-sweet Apple product, but because it has distracted the world from talking about the final "Harry Potter" book which is being released next week. Since I'm not impressed with Harry Potter (and love Apple), this works out pretty well for me...
I read the first couple of Harry Potter books and found them to be pretty lame and unimaginative. It seems that any actual creativity is sacrificed for some kind of deus ex machina crap to tell the story ("and Gryffindor gets 170 points pulled out of their ass at the last minute for stupid crap so they can win the House Cup!"). Anybody who thinks Harry Potter is The Shit should seriously check out the The Books of Magic graphic novels by Neil Gaiman (which started long before Harry Potter ever saw print).
• iPhoneable... Yes. I still want a friggin' iPhone pretty bad.
I'm just over 60 orders in on the Artificial Duck Co. orders. More stuff will be coming in on Monday, and I'm hoping to have all the orders shipped by the end of the week! Thanks again to everybody for your patience... just 262 orders left to go!
In the many long hours driving back and forth to Seattle, I've come to love audiobooks. It all started when I was given I Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris on CD for my birthday. After that I was pretty much addicted, and signed up for an Audible account so I could get new books for my iPod whenever I have to travel or drive long distances. They make the time just fly by.
The problem is that chapter breaks never seem to come when you need them.
More than once I'll arrive at my destination, but I'll be in the middle of a good chapter or something, so I'll just sit there continuing to listen until I get to a good stopping point. It's no big deal.
At least I thought it wasn't.
Today I pulled into the city and decided to stop at a corner market for a carton of chocolate milk. But, since the book I was listening to (The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman), was in the middle of something good, I just turned off the engine and waited for the chapter to end. It was at this time I nearly jumped out of my skin because there was a pounding on my window.
"HEY! IF YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BE USING THIS SPACE, WOULD YOU MIND LEAVING SO WE CAN USE IT?" said a large man screaming at me through the glass while gesturing wildly back to some woman double-parked across the street. Not wanting to sound stupid by saying that he'd have to wait until my audiobook chapter was finished, I instead rolled down the window* and replied "Sorry, but I'm waiting for the police."
Don't ask me where that came from.
I guess I figured that if this guy thought police arrival was imminent, he wouldn't want to mess with me. And I was right. He just wandered off with a dazed look on his face.
Which may have been the way his face always looks... I only met him for that one minute, so I wouldn't know.
*Well, techincally I didn't "roll" down the window, I just pushed that button thingy. Do they even make vehicles with manually-operated windows anymore?
Firstly, to all my friends and family reading this who know about the situation here in Seattle... thanks for your thoughts, prayers, and positive energy. This has been one of the longest days in my life but, despite all the delays and the waiting, everything turned out with the best possible results we could hope for.
Waiting, as they say, is the hardest part.
In an effort to distract my head, I put in a very full day. First I went to see Transformers, which was pretty freakin' cool. I love that they never cheated you out of a transformation or a battle. You see everything. And there are few things better than watching giant robots beat the crap out of each other...
Where the film failed me was in the utterly pointless deviations from the actual story. By the time we got to Sam's mom talking about masturbation, I was just plain pissed. It wasn't funny. It wasn't interesting. It was just needless distraction. Why? And then there's the whole military sub-plot that goes nowhere. Why? But worst of all... John Turturro, who I actually enjoy as an actor, plays a character "Agent Simmons" who was so unbelievably annoying and stupid that he very nearly ruined the movie for me. Why? Somebody needs to be in the editing room with Michael Bay so they can slap him upside the head when he makes stupid decisions to include crap like this, because otherwise it was pretty good flick.
Then I went to see Fantastic Four 2, which was better than the awful first film, but still a far cry from what a Fantastic Four film should be. The only real reason to see the movie is for Silver Surfer, who rightfully kicks ass...
I found myself almost wishing that the Fantastic Four weren't in their own film so I could see more of him. That's pretty sad. Overall it was mediocre, but I was glad to have seen it.
And, of course, I stopped to take a look at the iPhone up close and in person. And, of course, it's just as amazing as everybody says it is. And, of course, I want to have an iPhone now more than ever before. Everything about it is just cool. Particularly the screen and web browser, which is mind blowing...
Blogography looks great, and is totally readable in horizontal mode, even without zooming...
A pity that they're sold out absolutely everywhere.
But not surprising.
It's always difficult for me to come up with something to say on Independence Day. Mostly because one of my favorite Blogography entries is from the 4th of July two years ago. I think it pretty much sums up how I feel about freedom, liberty and all that other cool stuff America is supposed to stand for. The entry also has diarrhea and puking in it, which is always fun.
And speaking of fun, I swear this holiday gets more redneck every year...
"Let's get drunk and blow shit up" could one day take the place of "In God we trust" as the USA's national motto (if it hasn't already).
But, of course, we can't forget the flaming balls...
Something else all too typically American here is that "Proud American" is proudly made... in China.
Wow am I exhausted.
And I'm back home.
Unfortunately, magical elves didn't come in while I was away and pack up Artificial Duck Co. T-shirt orders, so that's what I've been doing for the past five hours. Out of over 320 orders placed, I now have only 108 left to ship. Wheeee. I'm on target for having everything shipped out by the end of the week. Almost.
The mailing tubes for the prints finally arrived this morning, but there's a problem. They were out of stock on the tubes I had ordered, so the supplier called and asked if I could use a tube that was 1-inch SHORTER, which I assumed meant shorter in LENGTH. What they ended up sending were tubes 1-inch shorter in WIDTH. Unfortunately, this curls the prints too much. So I'll be sending 47 orders without their prints, and mailing them separately when the correct tubes come in. It's a bummer, but the last thing I want is for stuff to be ruined before it even arrives, so there you have it.
In the meanwhile, I am beginning to forget what it's like to have a living room, because there are boxes of shirts and pins stacked in every corner...
Crazy. Why am I doing this again?
And, in news that makes me go "squeee!"...
OMG! THE CURE ARE GOING TO TOUR THIS YEAR!!! They'll be in Seattle October 8th. Sweet!And, in news that's not really news...
Why in the hell does Larry King still have a job? I've never been that impressed with his "interviews," but the ones I've seen lately have just been awful. Horrendously tragically awful. Half the time I get the impression that he doesn't even know who he's interviewing, or even what he's doing there. Tonight he was interviewing Al Gore, so I tuned in to see when the world is ending. At one point Larry was creeping me out, and I couldn't figure out why... until I realized it was because he had turned into Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. It was only for a moment, but I couldn't stop thinking about it for the rest of the show. And it turns out I'm not the only one who thinks so.
And, in news that makes me want to beat the crap out of somebody...
Monkey Justice is never blind... it just closes its eyes when convenient.
I sat on the news of Scooter Libby's prison sentence being commuted by President Bush in the hopes that my all-consuming rage would abate. But it hasn't. WHAT THE BLOODY F#@%?!? Bush had no problem EXECUTING prisoners left and right as governor of Texas, but he considers 30 months in prison to be "excessive" for a criminal convicted of a serious (if not treasonable) offense? How can this be looked at as anything except a strategic move to keep Scooter Libby from testifying at his appeal... and potentially implicating Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and other top-level administration officials in the crime? What a f#@%ing joke. President Bush said that if anyone in his administration was involved in leaking Valerie Plame's name that they would suffer the consequences. Well, here was his opportunity to live up to his word. Libby was prosecuted by a Republican prosecutor. The judge in the trial was a Republican. The jury was vetted by the Republican defense. "The consequences" of the guilty verdict involved Libby serving 30 months in jail. But not anymore. So much for "suffering the consequences." Next time I have jury duty, I'm just going to vote 100% innocent at any trial I serve on no matter what happens. Why should I bother believing in justice and convicting criminals when a guilty verdict and subsequent sentencing doesn't mean shit to the President of these United States of America?
Just 563 days left...
It's positively frightening how dead the blogosphere has been today.
I can only guess that everybody is on extended holiday from Independence Day, and/or just doesn't feel like blogging now that summer has arrived. Not that I can blame them. The weather here has been incredible lately (92° with clear blue skies) and, if I didn't have work to get done and T-shirts to ship, I'd probably be ditching my blog and out there enjoying it as well.
But I kind of have to blog today because... ooh... ooh... ooh! There's a date for the Chicago blogger meet now...
Mark your calendars for August 25th! Last year in Chicago was a total blast and was attended by a number of notable bloggers, including...
And, of course, ME from right here at Blogography.
This year promises to be equally sweet, and the location will be picked out once we all have an idea how many people will be showing up. An early favorite is the remarkable Pizano's Pizza on E. Madison in The Loop. They, of course, have a fantastic award-winning Chicago Deep Dish pizza, but it's their crispy buttercrust pizza that's the cat's meow.
Oh great, now I'm going to fall asleep with Pizano Pizza buttercrust fantasies in my head.
Home-delivered by Elizabeth Hurley, of course.
Everybody just loves Bad Monkey.
I had to go to the grocery store for a few things today, and was wearing my new Bad Monkey T-shirt for the trip. While I was in the cheese aisle, a little boy who was helping his mother pick out yogurt turned to me and started laughing. "Monkey!" he said, pointing at my shirt. "That's right," I replied. Then there's that awkward moment when I have to explain to his mother that the shirt can't be bought at a store, that it is one of my own creations, and isn't available in kids sizes. I just don't have room to store them.
And now I feel bad, because what kid wouldn't want a Bad Monkey T-shirt?
After cheese, I had to go buy sugar. I used the last of mine when I got a craving for Tropical Punch Kool-Aid last night around midnight. In retrospect, it was kind of a stupid thing to drink before bed, because I ended up battling a bad case of heartburn while trying to get some sleep...
Right now I am taking a break from filling Artificial Duck Co. orders to write in my blog. From the looks of things, I only have 38 orders left to fill. Tomorrow I'll process the postage so I can send the last remaining packages on Monday, and that's that. I'll finally be able to reclaim my living room.
And stop hurting myself.
I finally injured myself with my new tagging gun yesterday. It felt very much like having stabbed myself with a large needle. Mostly because my tagging gun has a very large needle on it. Lesson Learned: If you are going to sell T-shirts and want to label them, use stickers instead of tags.
Back to work...
Wheee! It's Bullet Sunday as I try to figure out what I'm going to have for dinner tonight.
• We're On Fire! In what's becoming an annual event, the valley is on fire. Again. It was no big shock to find out that fireworks were responsible. Again. About the only surprise here is how dumbasses can't seem to remember from year-to-year that lighting fireworks in the dry brush that surrounds us will start a major fire, potentially burning down a city or two. I mean, WTF? It's EVERY YEAR!!
Most excellent photo by Mike Bonnicksen of The Wenatchee World.
• Seven Wonders! After a measure of controversy from Egypt, home of the Great Pyramids of Giza (the only surviving Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), the all-new "Seven Wonders of the World" have been revealed... The Great Wall of China, Petra in Jordan, Brazil's statue of Christ the Redeemer, Peru's Machu Picchu, Mexico's Chichen Itza pyramid, The Colosseum in Rome, and India's Taj Mahal. The only one I really question would be Christ the Redeemer which, while both remarkable and beautiful, doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of these marvels. I would have probably dropped it in favor of either Stonehenge, Neuschwanstein Castle, or Angkor Wat. And, naturally, I believe that no list is complete without the Great Pyramids of Giza, TRULY a wonder of the world...
• It's Zwinky! I keep seeing these completely obnoxious television commercials for some kind of internet site called "Zwinky." Every time it comes on, I'm scrambling for the remote control so I can stop the horrible screaching... "IT'S ZWINKY! IT'S ZWINKY! IT'S ZWINKY!" Then I sit there dazed and confused trying to figure out what the frak a "Zwinky" is. I tried visiting the web site to find out, but the piece of crap isn't Macintosh compatible. Wikipedia says it's some kind of avatar site tied to a web search toolbar, which sounds lame. I've never been happier that some websites are not Mac compatible.
• Hey Whitey! I am getting tired of watching movies and television shows where all the actors have blindingly white teeth. It's very distracting, and I'm seeing it more and more often. Transformers had actors with embarrassingly white glowing teeth... like über-hottie Megan Fox... which very nearly overshadowed the awesome special effects with their unnaturally radiant smiles. Frightening.
• Meet Chicago! Getting some super-sweet RSVPs from cool bloggers planning on making it to the Chicago Meet-Up on August 25th! If any of y'all are planning to come, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can be sure we reserve enough space. This will also put you on a mailing list so you'll get the most up-to-date info as it happens.
And now, if you'll excuse me, it's time for ice cream! ICE CREAM FOR DINNER! Sweet!
I'm in a New York state of mind.
On my first trip to New York City, I had a laundry list of crap that simply had to be done... Statue of Liberty, World Trade Center, Empire State Building, Hard Rock Cafe, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Guggenheim, The New York Public Library, Museum of Modern Art, Times Square... and a dozen other essential tourist haunts that first-time visitors to NYC are obligated to visit. Every morning I would get up and rush around the city trying to see as much as possible before my trip was over.
The last thing on my list was to eat at the Stage Deli. This New York City institution is famous for serving insanely big sandwiches. Seriously insanely big. These things are at least six-inches tall...
And so on the last night of the last day I walked a block behind my hotel (The Hilton) to 7th Avenue and dinner at the Stage Deli.
Where I proceeded to have one of the worst sandwiches I've ever eaten.
But I don't blame the Stage Deli. I blame myself.
It was my fault because I went there and ordered a "cheese sandwich" off the menu which, as you might guess, ended up being nothing more than a bazillion slices of American on bread. It was much like sitting down and eating a brick of cheese. And as much as I like cheese, that's just too much to take. But that's what I get for ordering something off the menu that doesn't work for how they build sandwiches. They gave me exactly what I had asked for because I wasn't thinking, so who else could I really blame except myself?
Which is why I tend to get a little upset when I do a job exactly how somebody tells me to, only to have them turn around and blame me because they don't like the result. But it happens quite often in my line of work, so I tend not to go ballistic when it happens.
Except when I'm donating my time and working for free.
Today I had somebody bitch at me because a logo I made for a charity event had too much yellow in it.
It was a drawing of a ring of stars circling a moon, which is exactly what they had asked for.
So I re-colored it with a variety different star and background color combinations, only to have them get upset because it looked "wrong" that way. At this point they told me that they had a couple of NEW ideas for a DIFFERENT logo since I was having trouble with their "vision." Biting my tongue, I apologized and explained that I am very, very busy this time of year and didn't have time to start all over. They grabbed the work I had done, gave me a terse "thanks" (as in "THANKS FOR NOTHING!") and stomped off.
And then tonight I get a call from a friend who overheard the event organizer bad-mouthing me because I promised to make them a logo and then bailed on them.
Uhhhh... yeah... I don't even know where to begin.
This morning I started organizing all my T-shirt boxes so I could put them up in racks and reclaim my living room floor. Except I found out one of the boxes was NOT filed with T-shirts, it was filled with 28 boxed orders... all needing postage so they could be shipped out. Unfortunately, I had overlooked them yesterday. So I grab the box and head downstairs to my car. But somehow I miss the last step, and end up wrenching my back in an attempt to not fall on my face. The pain is so great that I can barely breath. In agony, I limp back upstairs so I can take a Special Pill to get through the day.
Ten of the orders I manage to get processed on my lunch hour. The remainder I saved for after work so they could be processed and be shipped out first thing in the morning.
So there I am tonight, four orders into my remaining 18, when the USPS web site comes up and says that my credit card has been declined. "Well that's freaky!" I say to myself. "This puppy has a limit of like $10,000 and there's no reason for it to be declined." So I call up USBank to see what's going on.
The ensuing asshattery resulted in my awarding a DUMBASS OF THE WEEK trophy, and it's only Tuesday!
DAVE: Hey. My card was declined as I was trying to buy postage from the online post office.
USBANK: Yes I see that. You've processed a lot of payments from USPS Online, and so your account was flagged as a possible fraud risk.
DAVE: Ah! Well, it's not fraud. It's really me! So if you'll fix that, I'll get back to work.
USBANK: I can't fix it. You have to get the post office to call in and get an authorization code.
DAVE: Er. I can't do that. It's a computer program. There's only tech support, and they can't process charges.
USBANK: Sorry. There's nothing I can do.
DAVE: Uhhhh... really? Well can you transfer me to your fraud department so I can tell them to stop declining charges?
USBANK: No. You have to get the post office to call.
DAVE: What?!? Why does the post office have to call? YOU'RE the one that is wrongly declining charges! Transfer me to the fraud department!
USBANK: They won't even talk to you because there's no actual fraud involved. There's nothing we can do.
DAVE: Are you kidding me? Transfer me to a supervisor before my brain explodes.
The supervisor goes through the exact same spiel about not being able to turn off the fraud flag, so I change gears...
DAVE: What if I was trapped in a foreign country and needed to charge a plane ticket back home on my credit card? Or what if I was deathly ill and the hospital wouldn't treat me until the charges went through on my card? Would you just let me die then?
USBANK SUPERVISOR: We do have the ability to authorize charges for an emergency.
DAVE: Great! I am using USPS online to send life-saving medication to sick children in Africa. So if you'll just fix this and approve my charges, I'll get back to work...
Of course, nothing I said made any difference. USBank simply refused to assist me at every turn.
Now, don't get me wrong, I think fraud detection is wonderful thing. It's really great that they have a system to monitor risky behavior so they can prevent fraud. But how utterly stupid is it that you can't call and get it turned off when the charges are, in fact, valid? How could anybody think this kind of moronic shit is good customer service? Does this make any sense what-so-ever? What good is a credit card that can be declined because of possible fraud, yet cannot be fixed when fraud is disproved?
Thus USBank has rightfully earned my DUMBASS OF THE WEEK award for being really stupid in their fraud control department.
And we'll see what tomorrow brings. I guess if my credit card is still being declined I'll have to go stand in line at the post office and buy postage the old-fashioned way.
"USBank Five Star Service Guarantee" my ass. I don't even give them one star tonight.
"Do you find me sexually attractive?"
"Yes, Robert. Yes I do. You are a very sexy man."
I was up working until 1:30am this morning, so when my mobile phone woke me up at the crack of dawn, I wasn't really in the mood for The Bad Robert Experience. It takes a certain kind of tact and mental clarity to have a conversation with him, neither of which I possessed at the time.
"Seriously. I'm emailing you a photo..."
"No. No. No. No. No. Do not email me a photo, Robert. It's too early for me to see a picture of your ass or whatever."
"Hah! Funny. No, check your email. I need you to look at something."
Knowing I would regret it, I hung up the phone and started groping for my glasses on the night-stand. Once my spectacles had been properly situated on my face, I then grabbed my MacBook and waited for Robert's 1.2 megabyte attachment to come through. With each passing second my mind was racing with speculation as to what I might find when the download was complete. Porn? A new tech gadget? Porn? A new motorcycle? DONKEY PORN?!?
After a few moments, the photograph had arrived. It looked something like this...
The ensuing conversation went something like this...
DAVE: You've grown a mustache?
ROBERT: It's cool, right?
DAVE: In a kind of 70's porn star way. I was kidding before, but with that mustache you actually are a very sexy man!
ROBERT: I know! But Super Deluxe Girlfriend hates it. She says she doesn't find me sexually attractive now, and won't let me have sex with her again until I shave it off.
DAVE: Oh well, it was good while it lasted then.
ROBERT: No! I want to keep it!
DAVE: Are you insane? Why would you give somebody as hot as Super Deluxe Girlfriend an excuse not to have sex with you?
ROBERT: Eh. She'll come around.
DAVE: Dude. You are seriously mentally impaired.
ROBERT: Yeah, but I look totally awesome!
Spoken like a man who hasn't yet been denied sex long enough to miss it.
I give him a week before he's willing to shave not only his mustache, but anything else she asks him to...
Whenever I have a bad day, I watch the last five minutes of the film Millions because it never fails to put a smile on my face. For convenience' sake, I have it cued up on my TiVo for immediate viewing at any time.
The fact that I am watching it most days now is not lost on me.
Today was filled with a non-stop parade of nasty surprises, so I just finished watching the end of Millions twice...
Things that make me go ARRRRGH!
• Best laid plans... Today I found out that all my intricate and carefully-scheduled travel plans may have to be completely changed. The thought of having to spend hours altering reservations and rescheduling my life fills me with a dread beyond my ability to articulate.
• Steve Jobs is a cruel mistress... I received a package from Apple this morning. Thinking it was my new iPhone, I ripped into the box with a glee usually reserved for a tub of Snack Pack chocolate pudding. But it wasn't my iPhone. It was the car charger for my iPhone. Apple says PSYCHE!! The current scheduled delivery date for the DavePhone is while I am out of the State, which is what makes this little tease particularly cruel.
• A pain by any other name... My back is still jacked up, necessitating that I spend every waking hour medicated and every sleeping hour drugged. My life goes by in a hazy blur and it feels like zombies have eaten my brain. Fortunately, I have a T-shirt for that.
• Master of my domain... Some guy is starting up a blog indexing service site (or whatever) and emailed to tell me that they had chosen "Blogography" as the name. Since it would be "confusing" for people to type in "blogography.com" and have my silly blog pop up, they want to acquire my domain. So I do what I always do when this happens, I write back and tell them that the very least I would be willing to accept for it is $500,000. Apparently, this was taken as some kind of joke, because he came back with a "maximum offer" of $750 and a hint of legal entanglement. Maybe it's the pills talking, but I find this really funny.
• It doesn't get much worse than this... The most watchable thing on television just now is Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties. Since I am doped up on pain killers and beyond caring, I'm just going to leave it running (despite the film being abhorrently bad). How could anybody watch this crap without being medicated?
Now, if you don't mind, I'm just going to lay here and moan in agony for a while...
During the height of Garth Brook's popularity throughout the 1990's, I was nearly suicidal. I 100% loathed his "music" and, since it was absolutely everywhere all the time, there was no escape from it. When he dropped off the face of the earth in 2002, nobody was more thrilled than I. To this day, one of my greatest fears is that Garth Brooks will come out of retirement and stage a massive comeback, dooming me to once again be inundated with his crap.
In the meanwhile, I continue to be haunted...
After a week of 100° heat and clear skies, the valley was unexpectedly overcast this morning. Then, around 10:30, booming thunder filled the skies and we were in the middle of a downpour. As I was working away at my desk, two women walked by my window screaming the lyrics to The Thunder Rolls by Garth Brooks. And, while I did take some small satisfaction in that they were getting drenched by the rain, this horrifying ordeal has me wanting to drink copious amounts of alcohol until I pass out.
Alas, I can't get drunk because I have too much work to do and, unfortunately, it's all rather complex and cannot be tended to while wasted.
Or can it?
I am pretty amazing at my job... perhaps I can do it while drunk?
I dunno. I suppose it depends on whether or not every Garth Brooks fan on the planet decides to send me fun hatemail and leave insightful comments like "GARTH BROOKS IS THE BESTEST SINGER EVER, SO GO F#@% YOURSELF, A$$HOLE!!" just because I dare use my blog to state my opinion on musical talent (or lack thereof).
Hey. The rain has stopped. Must be time to listen to some Chris Gaines!
Bwah ha ha haaaa!
When you travel a lot, people are always attempting to solicit advice or ask questions about the places you've been. What's your favorite city you've been to? (Edinburgh, Scotland). What's the most incredible thing you've seen? (The Great Wall of China). What do you feel is the most romantic city on the planet? (Paris, France). Where is the best food you've eaten in the world? (Rome, Italy). What do you consider to be nature's most beautiful sight? (Bryce Canyon, Utah). Where did you find the friendliest people on earth? (Bali, Indonesia). What city outside the US would you most like to live in? (London, England). Where do I go to change my life? (Thailand).
And the list goes on and on. Name a place I've been to, and I've undoubtedly got some great memory of something I've seen, done, or ate there.
But, surprisingly, one of the most often-asked questions is this: "What's a place you've been to that you hate?"
I never know quite how to answer this, because I don't "hate" anything (with the possible exception of Ann Coulter, but she is evil incarnate, so that's okay). I try my best to take only the positive away from anything I might experience, and let the negative go (blogging is good for that). Which is why I have had unpleasant aspects to my travels from time to time, but I don't dwell on them so much that I end up "hating" anyplace I've been.
Except, maybe Atlanta.
Partly because I've had more bad things than good things happen to me in Atlanta, making it difficult to let go, but mostly because the traffic there is the worst I have experienced in the entire world. Los Angeles, which is widely accepted as the worst traffic city in the USA, is a piece of cake by comparison. Shanghai? Beijing? Tokyo? Paris? Rome? Seoul? They have nothing on Atlanta. Sure there are cities like Lagos in Nigeria which could rightfully claim the title, but I haven't been there, so for me it's always been Atlanta. I would rather be kicked in the balls than have to navigate Atlanta traffic... especially in the summer heat.
So guess which major American city had to be forced into to my itinerary yesterday?
Unfortunately, NOT a complete list of stops in the Tour de Dave 2007.
Now, I'm sure that Atlanta is a perfectly lovely city to visit on vacation or something... there's a lot to see and do there... but to have to go to Atlanta for work is absolute torture because of the f#@%ing traffic making everything miserable.
And then there's the peaches...
The last time I was in Atlanta, I decided to treat myself to some Georgia peaches after having wasted two hours in a massive traffic jam just outside the city. My hotel which had a very nice restaurant, listed peaches and cream on the menu, which only makes sense because Georgia is "The Peach State," and tourists are going to want peaches so they can experience the state properly. So I got my peaches and was eating away when my waitress dropped by for small-talk. She asked me how I was enjoying my fruit, and I replied that it was pretty good, but tasted the same as Washington peaches back home. That's when she dropped the bomb that they probably were peaches from Washington or, more likely, California... or maybe even China. Apparently Georgia peach production drops every year, because orchardists just can't compete with the imports. Much like Washington's famous apples, I suppose.
Horrendous traffic, scorching heat, and fake Georgia peaches. Now that's something to look forward to.
Sunday, Bullet Sunday... here I come!
Unfortunately, I have to go to work today, so it's a short one...
• Guest Appearance! I'm filling in for Hilly over at Snackie's World on today's Snackie Sunday...
Of course, since everybody who is anybody already reads Hilly, I guess you already knew that. But just in case you are one of those people who read their blogroll in alphabetical order, I thought I'd let you know so you can skip from the "B's" to the "S's" and answer my super-snoopy questions right away.
• Super TV! Man, is there ever some good television happening in the off-season...
Rescue Me is as amazing and shocking in its fourth season as it ever was. Burn Notice features Bruce Campbell and Gabrielle Anwar in a supporting roles, which is reason enough to watch, but it is an incredibly well-written and acted show as well. The Closer is probably one of the best dramas to hit television in years. Top Chef is drastically more watchable than last season's really bad run. Traveler just keeps getting better and better with each episode (but is on ABC, and so it will probably be canceled). Psych is back, and hasn't lost any of the magic that made it so much fun last year. And let's not forget that Sci-Fi has a new Flash Gordon series dropping on August 10th! I am such a TV whore.
• Gay TV! And speaking of good television shows for summer, I was gifted an episode of Rick & Steve, World's Happiest Gay Couple from the iTunes Music Store and laughed my ass off. The show is not even close to politically correct, and SO wrong in many ways that I actually felt bad about laughing in parts. But it's a cute cartoon, so it's not like you can feel too bad...
Think of it like milking a cow. Men are just smellier, stupider cows.
What's amusing here is that if the show had been created by straights, it would undoubtedly be considered homophobic, offensive, and be accused of propagating gay stereotypes. GLAAD would be calling for a boycott, and people would die. But, since the show-runners are gay and it's airing on a gay television network, it suddenly becomes okay. I'm not exactly sure how to feel about that, but you can watch a funny trailer for the show here and, for the braver of you, the first five minutes of episode 1 is here.
• Emergency! Friday I got to make a midnight run to the emergency room as a chauffeur. Again. As it was a Friday night in the middle of summer, there was a wild assortment of party-related emergencies, including underage alcohol poisoning, and a girl in the room next door that tried to O.D. (who didn't want to provide her last name, because she didn't want her parents called). After they were forced to take a urine sample so they could treat her, the conversation went something like this...
NURSE: Okay... what are you on? What did you take?
MOANING GIRL: Nothing.
NURSE: What. Drugs. Did. You. Take?
MOANING GIRL: No drugs.
NURSE: NO drugs?!?
MOANING GIRL: NO DRUGS!! I'M NOT TAKING DRUGS!!
And fifteen minutes later the nurse finds the doctor in the hall...
NURSE: Here's the test results.
DOCTOR: Well there's a big surprise...
Yes, big surprise, IT WAS DRUGS!! Who lies about doing drugs after they've had urine sample taken? Oh, I don't know... A DRUG ADDICT MAYBE? For big stupid fun entertainment, nothing beats an E.R. on the weekend.
But I'm in no hurry to go back any time soon.
Last night before I went to bed, three bloggers I read announced they were quitting. I wonder if there's a virus going around or something?
After reading such upsetting and tragic news, my mind turned to Jesus.
This was a strange experience for me, because I'm not a Christian. But I am a hardcore art lover, and Jesus has served as an inspiration for a lot of really good art throughout history. His story, while inspiring to those whose faith is built upon it, has always seemed quite sad to me... the poor guy was given a destiny to die horribly for the sins of the world, and that cannot be an easy burden, even for the son of God. But, like it or not, Jesus accepted what he had to do, and believed his sacrifice was the entire purpose for his being.
The one I really feel sorry for in this story is Mary.
She may have been the vessel for Christianity's savior but, when you set that aside, what she really was is a mother.
A mother who loved her son very much, only to have to watch as he was tortured and killed. I don't care how deep your faith is, this is something that no mother should have to experience. And yet I am reminded of it over and over again as I traverse art galleries around the globe. For the most part, the bulk of this art is divided between the two most significant events in any life... birth and death.
First there's all those images of Madonna and Child. Jesus has just been born and Mary is always depicted cherishing him, just as any mother would feel toward their new baby...
And then there's the pietà, which shows a grief-struck Mary cradling her dead son. I don't care whether you are a Christian or not, this is a powerful and painful image. And no interpretation of this event is more heartbreaking that Michelangelo's masterpiece, La Pietà, which is housed at The Vatican's St. Peter's Basilica...
It's difficult to get from a photo, but the sadness carved into Mary's face is enough to bring a lump to your throat and make your heart ache for her. What could be more tragic?
Certainly not somebody shutting down their blog, but that does make me kind of sad too.
All this talk about Jesus has reminded me of a drawing I created last year for a digital Christmas card that I sent to some of my art friends, but never dared show on my blog... until now...
I always worried that people would see this and think "OH MY GAWD! DAVE THINKS HE'S JESUS!!!" But that was never the intent. I just used Baby Dave to make this interpretation of Madonna and Child my own. As the above text hopefully illustrates, I have the upmost respect for Jesus, Mary, and their story... and this drawing is meant to be an homage, not ridicule. I put a lot of care into creating it, and it's easily one of my favorite DaveToons ever. I'm probably inviting all kinds of hatemail by showing it, but it seems a shame not to share when it means so much to me.
Unlike most interpretations, where Jesus is somber and stoic, I wanted my Madonna and Child to depict baby Jesus as happy and joyful as possible. This was not easy given how crude the drawing is, but I tried my best because I like to think that Jesus was a happy baby. Given his ultimate sacrifice, it would be nice to think that he had a happy childhood... wouldn't it?
Hmmm. I am tired enough that I may actually get a good night's sleep tonight.
I am trying my best to think of something that hasn't gone wrong today. Turns out there isn't anything. Despite my hopes, I didn't sleep AT ALL last night, and it's all been downhill from there. To list everything that's gone wrong would depress even me, so I've decided to just list the top five...
• In my sleep-deprived state, I grabbed a bowl for my Captain Crunch cereal and knocked a coffee mug off the counter where it landed on the top of my foot. I now have a big welt there and can't tie my shoe. This wouldn't be a big deal, except my shoe keeps falling off, causing me to fall down and embarrass myself a lot. It's like being drunk... but without the benefit of being totally wasted.
• I am sitting here with a sticky-wet lap because the bottle of Coke I had on my break decided to overflow all over me for some reason when I opened it. It came straight from the refrigerator, so I have no idea what made it explode. I must have angered the Coke gods or something.
• Artificial Duck Co. store orders are starting to be returned to me with an "insufficient address" notice. Yet when I look in tracking, the address is complete (heck, they won't let you ship anything WITHOUT a complete address!). Apparently the postal service's Click-N-Ship is, in fact, Click-N-SHIT... because it generates bad labels. The glitch appears to be random, because when I track packages before and after the faulty label, they've been delivered. So, if you've been waiting for a T-shirt order and haven't gotten it... that would be why. I am re-shipping them immediately after I get the return, and will generate a new tracking email so customers will know what happened...
The even worse part of the deal is that I can't simply re-print their incorrect labels... I have to buy a NEW label, then request a refund for the original label. I'm not holding my breath that I'll be getting my money back. I'm sure they'll somehow make this my fault.
• A critical Fed-Ex package I am waiting for is lost. The only thing that tracking shows is a departure scan, then nothing. Nobody has any idea what's going on. It's as if the thing just evaporated in mid-air. In the meanwhile, I'm screwed. There's no way to meet deadline on my current project now, and I have no idea what's going to happen.
• Due to some stupid crap I didn't understand, the cost to change my airline tickets to my new itinerary was outrageously expensive, so I ended up keeping my old ticket and just adding a second ticket. So now I fly to where I am no longer working, then fly to where the new work is, then fly back to where I need to be so I can fly back to where I don't need to be so I can fly home. The airline industry has got the biggest scam going with their complicated, incomprehensible fare calculations. Why can't everybody just abandon this antiquated way of doing business and switch to more simplified and easily understood fare rules like Alaska Air? With Alaska, every segment is selected with full knowledge of EXACTLY what's going to happen if you need to make changes to it. And, since every segment has separate rules, you don't f#@% up the rest of your fare when you only need to add or change a single piece. I love this because it's a straight-forward way of doing business, and doesn't screw customers when their travel needs change. I mean, seriously, LOOK AT HOW SIMPLE IT IS...
When I fly Alaska, I simply choose "value" fares for segments I am sure about... then pay a little more for "full flex" on segments I'm not. Simple. It frustrates me that other airlines can't be this honest when you shop for fares, and makes me wish Alaska had more routes. Because, seriously, how logical is it that it's $1200 cheaper to buy an additional new ticket than adjust an old one?
• And here's the worst part of my entire day so far... it's only half over! Now that my lunch break is done, I've got an entire afternoon of even more horrendous crap to look forward to!
I want to go home now, climb into bed, and start the day all over again.
Or drink a fifth of Jack Daniels.
One of those two things.
So there I was, waking up after a good night's sleep* so I could check my email, when Harry Potter dropped by for an unwelcome visit.
The very first email I opened was sent to my Blogography address, and had a subject line of "Hard Rock Cafe Hong Kong." Thinking that somebody had news of yet another unfortunate cafe closing, I opened it up only to find that is was a photo collage of pages from a book with notes scrawled above them. But not just any book, it was Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, the final book in the series (not yet released).
This was completely baffling. From appearances, the person sending the photo had fully intended to spoil the book for me. They knew me. They knew I like the Hard Rock Cafe. And they used an email subject they knew I was likely to open. About the only thing they didn't know is that I don't care about Harry Potter, and have read only the first book, part of the second, and made it through the third only by skipping large chunks of it. So seeing all these spoilers meant nothing. The sender's address looked disposable, so I didn't even bother replying.
A couple of emails later, and it's a comment notification for my blog... that turns out to be nothing more than a dozen Harry Potter spoilers typed out in ALL-CAPS (left anonymously, of course).
Why would anybody work so hard to ruin a book that I'm not even interested in? I can only assume that I am not alone, and soon the entire internet will be plagued by juvenile assholes with nothing better to do than try to ruin the ending of the book for people. I just wish that I could figure out what in the heck they have to gain from this. If making other people unhappy is their incentive, that's pretty frakin' lame.
*Last night I adopted drastic measures so I could finally get some sleep... PILLS! Two sleeping pills, a melatonin, and a Midnite, all combined into a sleep cocktail that managed to knock me out for an entire seven hours. I worry about trying this kind of thing too often, but it's nice to know I can get some drug-induced rest from time to time.
And now, before I go, why not head on over to NYC Watchdog's Cereal Wednesday... not only is he one of the best-dressed vloggers out there, but you could win a box of Krusty-O's cereal!
Because I love Mocha Momma more than life itself, I'm joining in on her BlogMe Ten Second Intro meme!
But before I start... the best new reality show ever has just started airing: Victoria Beckham: Coming to America! The one-time Spice Girl is moving to the USA after her super-star soccer player husband, David Beckham, was awarded a gazillion-dollar contract to play for the L.A. Galaxy. I've always loved Posh Spice, but now my infatuation has escalated to an entirely new level...
Scorching hot Victoria Beckham photo taken from Just Jared.
There's just something about seeing Posh take her drivers license exam at the DMV that's totally compelling television to me. I think I actually squealed a little when she passed. By the time we got to the Victoria Beckham dress-up sex doll, I was hooked.
And now on to the introduction (which might be 10 seconds if you read really fast)...
I am a graphic designer, which is a career I fell into entirely by accident. I've designed or worked on just about anything you can think of over the past 20 years... catalogs, advertising, packaging, video games, architecture, clothing, book covers, album art, movie storyboards, posters, magazines, logos, web sites, software, user interfaces, children's toys, comic books, DVD menus, airplane graphics, board games, instruction manuals, maps, and much, much more.
I love to travel in my spare time, and enjoy visiting Hard Rock Cafes around the world.
I am a vegetarian, and have been since a girlfriend dragged me into it back on Earth Day, 1986. After becoming a vegetarian, the relationship lasted four more weeks. The diet stuck, and has lasted over 20 years. I can't give up dairy though, because I love cheese and chocolate pudding.
I am not religious, but study Buddhism and try to live my live according to Buddhist precepts. My friends and family mean more to me than anything else. I still think Elizabeth Hurley is the most beautiful woman on earth, even though she went and got herself married.
I'm Dave. Nice to meet you, and goodnight!
The big news in Western Washington today is that Seattle's King County Board of Health has mandated that chain restaurants with 10 or more locations must post nutritional labeling on their menus and eliminate trans fats. This is all done under the pretense of improving health and fighting obesity, but is so monumentally stupid that I can't help but wonder if anybody on the Board of Health has a grip on reality.
Banning the trans-fats I get. Trans-fats are evil and should be destroyed.
But being forced to put calorie, fat, sodium and carbohydrate information on your menu in full-size type? Did anybody bother to think this through? Ordering at a fast-food restaurant can already be a confusing, time consuming task to many people... what happens when the menu board has to be twice as big to accommodate all this extra shit? Does anybody really need to be told that a veggie salad with lite dressing is a more healthful meal than a triple hamburger loaded with cheese, bacon, and mayonnaise? Is this really going to come as a huge revelation once the menus have changed? When Taco bell alters their menus, are people going to die of shock that deep-fried dishes covered in sour cream and cheese have fat in them? Really? People can claim ignorance, but is that an excuse to punish the restaurants?
I mean, seriously, look around. Food manufacturers have already spent billions of dollars updating their product packaging with Nutrition Facts (twice!), yet medical cases of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease show no sign of slowing down. If people won't take the time to study nutrition intake while they are eating at home, why should anybody expect that they'll bother to take the time while at the McDonalds drive-up? This is yet another case of trying to crack an egg with a sledgehammer, burdening companies with major expenses to initiate changes that will have little (if any) effect.
Do I think restaurants should be required to provide nutritional information to their customers?
I think it is perfectly reasonable that consumers be informed as to what they are eating. As a vegetarian, this is something I can appreciate. Not only should customers have access to nutritional information at a restaurant, but a complete list of ingredients as well.
But let's be realistic here.
There's no reason that restaurants can't hand over a brochure or pamphlet with this information for those who request it. Why force everybody to change their menus and reader boards? This is not only impractical, but a very dangerous precedent as well. If people don't care enough to take an interest in their own health and can't be bothered to ASK for nutritional information of their own free will when they need it, then too damn bad. I am tired of government deciding I am too f#@%ing stupid to figure out for myself what constitutes a proper diet. So long as the information is made available upon request, demanding a restaurant to go through all this extra expense is grossly unfair.
I say that if restaurants are required to deface their menus with this shit, that EVERY F#@%ING TIME politicians and local government officials appear in media... from newspapers and television appearances to personal correspondence and an election ballot... that their salary should be listed after their name. Knowing how much money these power-abusive idiots make to come up with this stupid crap is information that could really make a difference.
Today I'm packing up my undead monkey and heading over to Geeks of Doom to review the movie I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry starring Kevin James and Adam Sandler (a direct link to the review is here). This is a pre-cursor to my becoming a columnist there in mid-August, after an invitation by site-runners (and my good blogging buddies) Empress Eve and Dave3.
For those of you not familiar with "Geeks of Doom," it is the group blog formerly known as "GeekZine," which quickly became one of my favorite news sites because it's packed with geeky goodness on comics, television, movies, and pop culture. With the transition to Geeks of Doom now complete, it's an essential daily read for me, and I'm honored to be writing for the site...
I've been presented with more than a few offers to write and draw for other blogs and websites, but have always turned them down... even when they were going to pay me. I just never felt that there was anything I wanted to say outside of Blogography. But this opportunity proved entirely too tempting, and the idea of working with Eve and Dave was something I just couldn't pass up.
I'll be sure to mention when I have an entry up in case anybody is interested... or you can head over to Geeks of Doom and subscribe to their webfeed. The information contained within may very well save your life*
*In the event of zombie invasion or other geek-related disaster.
Oh snap! It's Bullet Sunday in the dark, as I try to desperately crank out the bullets on a laptop battery with just 15 minutes of power left! Better not waste any more time...
• Everybody loves hate-mail! Is there anything more special than waking up to an in-box that has eight email notifications from people who hate your guts that are leaving comments on your blog? And this time it's not even the Dooce Posse! Oh no... this time it's a group of people complaining about a rant I made against public fingernail clipping almost two years ago. Apparently, a customer printed this out and took it to a restaurant where they experienced the same thing, and the employees did not find it funny when the boss got all pissed at them. This is MY fault? Sometimes I envy the life of little rocks.
• Everybody dies, bitches! Turns out the Harry Potter Deathly Hallows spoilers I was emailed the other day were actually legitimate. This makes me really sad. It also makes me angry. But mostly sad. If I had been a Harry Potter fan, the end of the series would have been spoiled before I would have realized it. I wonder if it's a good time to be a Harry Potter smart-ass at the local bookshops again?
• So close and yet so far... How friggin' cruel is THIS...
My iPhone has traveled across the earth, and is now just 3 hours away at a FedEx warehouse over in Spokane...
It might as well be a million miles away, because I'm leaving tomorrow. sob!
• I'm givin' her everything I got Captain... OMG! In the name of all that's holy, I am now running on reserve power's shutdown notice! I knew I shouldn't have gone to Google Maps!!
• Travel Gymnastics... Usually, in order to make a connection out of Seattle for an east-bound flight that arrives at a decent hour, you have to take an insanely early 5:20am flight out of our tiny local airport. Since I knew that I would be working tonight until the wee hours, this was not a very good plan. So instead, I am flying out on a later flight and arriving tomorrow night. Ordinarily, this would not be too terrible, but I then have to get up early the following morning so I can fly to Atlanta in time for work. I am not much of a morning person when it comes to flying, but I just can't seem to avoid it. Oh how I envy people that live in Chicago who can get direct flights to just about anywhere in the country in 4 hours or less!
GAAAAHHH!! If there are spelling or grammatical errors in this entry, I don't have time to think about it! Please don't run out of juice before this entry posts. Please don't run out of juice before this entry posts. Please don't...
If there's one thing I really hate... really, really HATE... it's being lied to.
I am sitting here in Minneapolis when all of a sudden there's an announcement that the inbound aircraft has been delayed, and we will be an hour-and-a-half late getting into Milwaukee. Well, shit happens, and I'm not too upset about it. If I got angry every time a flight was cancelled or delayed, traveling anywhere would be a miserable experience because there's very few times that stuff doesn't go wrong anymore... flights are always being delayed or canceled.
And then I see that the "delayed inbound aircraft" is coming from Seattle.
Which seems odd, because I just came off of the inbound flight from Seattle.
Which means this was NOT our original inbound aircraft. A quick check confirms our actual aircraft landed on time and originated in Anchorage.
Which means that Northwest is lying to everybody.
And that's stupid.
If they simply said "we've had to change aircraft because we fucked up" or whatever the TRUTH is, I'd be fine with it. But instead they keep announcing over and over again that the reason for our wait is that the inbound aircraft has been delayed. Probably because that sounds more like it's not their fault... hoping that people will assume it's the weather or something. Naturally, this leads me to believe that it IS something that's their fault, because why else would they lie?
And I really hate that.
Lying Northwest Airline bastards...
The real kicker is that if I would have booked this later flight out of Seattle in the first place, I would have had two more hours to goof around at home this morning. Or maybe even sleep-in after having worked until 1:30am.
But instead I'm sitting here being lied to.
UPDATE: And, of course, they lost my luggage. Instead of sleeping-in tomorrow morning, I have to get up and (hopefully) collect my suitcase at the airport instead. Another night of 4-hours sleep. Yay. Thank heavens for my emergency underwear stash in my backpack.
UPDATE: It's 2:00am and I am in my hotel room. Which smells like feet.
UPDATE: Feet which have stepped in a pile of shit.
OBVIOUS OBSERVATION: Clearly this has not been a good day.
UPDATE: My luggage was on the morning flight. Woo hoo! But I did have to pick it out from the carousel amidst loose cans of meat. Somebody packed up a box with food and it busted all over the place. Since I was starving from not having eaten all last night or this morning, I was very near grabbing a can and biting through the metal to eat it. But then I remembered I am a vegetarian. Now that I'm back to the hotel, I'm going to turn the air conditioner ON, take my pants OFF, and have a nap.
PS: The reason I didn't have the airport deliver my bag to the hotel is because I was told delivery runs are scheduled, and I may not get my bag until noon or later. Since I am flying out around then, it was worth the 10 minute shuttle ride to the airport so I could be sure I got it.
And It's just a frakkin' cool as I knew it would be...
Amazing how handy it is to have Google Maps and the entire internet with me everywhere. I find myself turning to iPhone constantly, and I've only had it one day. Heaven only knows what my life will be like once its been fully integrated. Sure AT&T's EDGE network is painfully slow, but do I really care when I'm out in the middle of nowhere and need driving directions? To get un-lost, I'm happy to wait a minute for a map.
What really gets me is how great this is for a version 1.0 product, and I can't fathom what cool stuff Apple will be adding in the next update. iPhone is an incredibly functional and useful tool that's a joy to use. And, get this... the phone quality is not sacrificed... calls are SO much nicer than with my old P.O.S. mobile phone. Now that I have iPhone, I can't imagine going back to anything else.
Side note: Dave's wish list for iPhone 2.0: GPS functionality that integrates with Google Maps. Automated voice dialing.
Anyway, on my way back from work, I passed through Thomaston, Georgia, and couldn't resist stopping at the local Piggie Park drive-in for a grilled cheese sandwich and some fries...
My sandwich was a very reasonable $1.35!! I can't remember the last time I paid under $2.00 for a sandwich...
The place has been around since 1950, and is very popular. Even at 2:00, the place had a steady stream of customers. At the lunch hour it must be over-run...
And from the "totally tasteless but funny department," I saw this sign for a mailing service today...
Tonight will be my first night in four days where I'll actually have time to get some decent sleep. Needless to say, I am looking forward to that. The only thing that worries me is the impending thunderstorms which iPhone says are due to hit both Georgia and Wisconsin for the next couple days. I wonder what the odds are that I'm going to be stuck in Atlanta? Given my luck, the airport will be completely destroyed.
Oh well. It's not like I'll care... I'VE GOT MY iPHONE, bitches!
Today was a day I've been looking forward to for weeks now, because I was going to meet up with fellow blogger Beth and her husband Kevin so we could go to WORLD OF COKE!!
This is actually the NEW WORLD OF COKE, which only just opened in May. It replaces Old World of Coke (which I visited years ago), and is twice as huge... with an advertised SEVENTY different Coke products available for sampling from around the world! Sweet!
This was going to be an awesome opportunity to meet some readers (which I always enjoy) AND drink my beloved Coke with Lime until I pass out from a sugar-induced coma.
The tour starts out with a waiting room where they inundate you with Coke memorabilia, then brainwash you into submission with an all-Coke audio soundtrack that features Coke soundbites, jingles, ads, and slogans throughout the years. Kevin was too smart to be brainwashed and found it all to be pretty funny, but I was converted into a Coke Zombie almost immediately. I'd like to blame it on the fact that I'm not in my native time zone, but the simple truth is that I'm a sucker for a good advertising jingle...
Coke Zombies ate my brain!!
They don't let you go to the Coke sampling room immediately... oh no... you have to watch a Coke film, walk through a Coke room, say hello to the Coke polar bear, see a mini Coke bottling plant, experience Coke in 4-D, and visit the Coke pop-art display first.
Then, AT LAST, it was time for my Coke with Lime!
I was so excited! Soda dispensers with drinks from around the world were here!
I didn't drink anything all day in anticipation of this moment!
Only to find out that WORLD OF FRAKKIN' COKE DOESN'T HAVE COKE WITH LIME!!!
That's right... NO COKE WITH LIME IN THE ENTIRE WORLD OF COKE!! They will let you sample the most horrendous tasting substance on earth (a soda called "Beverly" from Italy, which makes you want to die it tastes so bad) but you can't sample the divine elixir that is Coke with Lime.
My day was pretty much ruined. I went to World of Coke all happy and full of joy and stuff... but then left with nothing but a crappy free souvenir bottle of regular-old Coke...
The only reason I didn't kill myself right there in the middle of World of Coke was that Beth had given me this super-sweet baseball cap which she custom-embroidered with DaveDevil on the back...
Yes. Yes I know. It's like one of the coolest things ever. And having it put me in such a good mood that I didn't even feel like taking a flame-thrower to World of Coke until it burns the ground... even though it's totally justified, given that you can't get Coke with Lime there.
But I still kind of want to go back tomorrow with a crate of limes and vandalize the building with them. Maybe knock out a few windows and smear pulpy bits of smashed lime all over the walls...
Or maybe I could just alter their signs so that everybody will know the TRUTH...
Oh well. Life sometimes sucks that way.
Before we parted ways, Beth decided to improve her Dave Number...
She now has a Dave Number of TWO, which means she's part of that elite class of people who no longer have to pay taxes, always gets upgraded to First Class, and gets a 25% discount on chocolate pudding and cheese products at her local grocery store. The real advantages of such an awesome Dave Number, however, cannot truly be measured... it's the psychological benefit of knowing that you're a much cooler person than most everybody else on the planet who hasn't been lucky enough to meet me yet.
After seeing World of Coke without Lime and saying goodbye to Beth and Kevin, I walked across the plaza to visit the Georgia Aquarium, which is kind of nifty. It's a pretty big building, but it kind of has to be since they have WHALES inside of it! They're those freaky white Beluga whales, but still fun to watch.
In order to kill time and miss rush-hour on the MARTA train, I walked back to the Hard Rock Cafe so I could have a quick bite before returning to my hotel. They've changed things around since my last visit, but it's still a great property with a really good staff. I wasn't going to buy anything, but they had some cool new city pins, and I couldn't resist. But, then again, I never can. Hard Rock pins are like my Kryptonite or something.
I am still totally loving my iPhone. One of the coolest pieces of tech I've ever owned. But today I did find something that's not so great about it... the camera. I purposely left my little Canon camera back in my room because I thought I'd take all my photos with the iPhone camera. But it turns out that the thing sucks pretty bad for photos. Low-light situations render the camera practically useless, and iPhone isn't much better in really bright light. Unless everything in the frame is perfect lit in a way that's not too dark and not too light, you ain't going to get very good pictures. Kind of sad for a $600 mobile phone, but I guess it can't do everything. Fortunately, Beth had her camera with her so I had something to post here today.
Tomorrow it's back to work work work...
Note to Delta Airlines... delaying a two-hour flight by 30 minutes because you are waiting for CATERING TRUCK is not cool. Not cool at all. I'm willing to bet a million dollars that if you had asked everybody waiting for that flight if they would rather take off on-time OR be delayed a half-hour so they could have a half-can of Coke and a snack on a short two hour flight... the vast majority would tell you to shove the Coke up your ass. Seriously. Thirty frickin' minutes late for a tiny bag of peanuts and a cup of soda? Are you shitting me?!?
Anyway, just like iPhone had said, there were thunderstorms over the mid-west which made for a very bumpy flight. The ultimate irony would have been if it were too rough for beverage service, but the cabin stewards were real troopers. Probably because they were afraid the passengers would revolt if the half-hour wait for Coke was all for nothing.
When I finally landed in Milwaukee, I was lucky enough to hop in a cab driven by a foul-mouthed taxi driver who loved saying the f-word at the end of every sentence. Curious to see if he would realize it, I started dropping f-bombs myself at every opportunity. If he noticed, he didn't react. Very quickly, my cab ride started sounding like an episode of Deadwood...
Twenty minutes later I was dropped off at my favorite of all Milwaukee hotels, The Intercontinental. Twenty minutes after that, I was eating giant beer pretzels at the Rock Bottom Brewery... a trip which was made slightly more difficult than usual because the Kilbourn Bridge that links the two was closed.
And here is where things get interesting.
As I was leaving the restaurant, I ran into a small group of people. One of the people in this group was a cute, but very, very drunk girl. The reason I say she was drunk was not because she was stumbling around and slurring her words... but because she was offering oral sex in exchange for a ride home. The group thought this was hysterical, and kept egging her on. I was tired and in no mood to deal with it, so I moved as far away from them on the sidewalk as I could, trying my best to blend in with the buildings.
My efforts were in vain, because she ran up to me almost immediately...
DRUNK WHORE: I mean it, whip it out and let's go!
DAVE2: No, no... we can't have that. You might choke to death, and then where would we be?
- At this point, her group is laughing uncontrollably -
DRUNK WHORE: But I need a riiiiiiiiiiiiide!!
DAVE2: Ah, sorry, I don't have a car. But if you want to walk back to my hotel, I'll give you a T-shirt.
DRUNK WHORE: But I need a riiiiiiiiiiiiide!!
She then goes stumbling off into the night... going wherever it is drunken women go on a Thursday night in Milwaukee.
As I continue on my way back to The Intercontinental, I pass a very nice-looking restaurant that's completely dead. I can't see a single customer inside. In an effort to drum up business, the valet notices me looking in the window and asks me if I have ever eaten there. I say I haven't, and ask if they have a full bar. He says that they do, and I should go in and check it out. I then sigh and express my regrets... "I'd love to but, with any luck, there's a drunken whore waiting for me back at my hotel room."
Alas, this turned out not to be the case, but it had such a nice ring to it that I'm going to have to keep it in mind the next time I need an excuse to get away from somebody.
I ended up working all day, escaping only long enough to grab an early lunch before being picked up for a meeting an hour-and-a-half away. Ordinarily this wouldn't give me much blogging fodder, except fate decided to intervene along the way.
And everything began with Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five.
For some reason I woke up this morning wanting to re-read Slaughterhouse Five for the hundredth time... probably because I've been getting lots of "friend requests" from GoodReads, and books are on my brain. I already have a copy of the novel back home (doesn't everybody?), but wanted to read it on the flight home Sunday, so I made a mental note to pick up another copy at the Border's down the street.
When lunchtime came around, I headed out to the book shop, making a stop at Jimmy John's along the way (I don't particularly like their sandwiches, but they build them really fast, and I was in a hurry). Rushing through Border's, I find a copy of Slaughterhouse Five, then grab a copy of Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down (which I've been meaning to read, and noticed was on sale for $4.99 in hardcover!). After paying for my books, 25 minutes of the half-hour I gave myself for lunch have evaporated. I resist the urge to run back to the hotel, but start walking as fast as I can.
With my mind focused on what I have to get done this afternoon, I round the corner on to North Water Street... and get sprayed with... water. Not a lot of water, but enough that my arm is wet.
In a mild state of shock (and irony, this being Water Street), I turn to where the water originated and see a guy standing there with a water bottle and a smile on his face. He then screeches "WOOF! WOOF! BYE-BYE! BYE-BYE!" at me. Obviously the guy is mentally challenged, and suddenly I don't know what to do. Part of me wants to rip the bottle out of his hand and dump it on his head with the hope that he learns it's not polite to spray people, but I just stand there. Ultimately, I conclude that I have no idea what the etiquette would be for the situation, and start walking back to the hotel. No harm was done, my shirt will dry, and life will carry on.
Except I keep reliving the moment over and over again in my head.
And now I am really upset with myself for not having said anything.
But not for the reason you might think.
I am worried that this guy is going to spray somebody who won't care that he is mentally handicapped. Somebody who decides to beat the crap out of him. I thought I was being kind by ignoring what he had done, but now I am thinking that it might have been kinder to have said something.
It's decisions like this which define us, and I think today I failed myself.
My hand brushes lightly down the length of her thigh, resting just above the knee. A cloudburst had come earlier that morning and the smell of it had clung to the length of her hair, teasing me of summer rains from better days. Feeling very much at home I draw myself closer until it feels as if she was breathing for the both of us. Happy now, I close my eyes and drift away. As I leave the waking world behind there's a sound, subtle at first, keeping me from crossing over. Driven to distraction by something I cannot name, I hover short of unconsciousness, the ears of my mind's eye alert. Louder now, the sound comes to me. Crying? The enchantment of my hope for slumber broken, I awaken. The crying turns to a wail and saddens my heart. "Baby, what is it? Why do you cry?" But words do not come, just more cries of her anguish that grow louder and more painful as the minutes crawl forward...
SQUAAAAW! SQUAAAAW! SQUAAAAAAAAAAW!
I awaken for real this time, and scramble for my glasses on the bedside table. Who the hell is in my room and why are they crying so loud?
But there is nobody in my room, and I quickly realize that the cries are those of birds flying outside my window.
AT ONE O'CLOCK A.M.!!!
What the hell? Don't birds frickin' sleep in Milwaukee?!?
I never did get back to sleep. I tossed and turned for hours until 7:30 rolled around and I decided to get up and go to Bruegger's Bagels for some breakfast. They're not "real" authentic New York City bagels, but they don't suck too badly (and NYC is a fourteen hour drive from here).
After a couple of hours spent following up on emails I figure I might as well write in my blog and then see if I can take a nap. There's a lot to do today, and being well-rested would help matters considerably.
It's Bullet Sunday from mid-air as I cruise home on Northwest #807! And, since you're not allowed to be shooting bullets on planes anymore, I'm sure an Air Marshall will be along directly to escort me off the flight.
• Security! I continue to be amazed (but not surprised) when people show up late to the airport and decide that they should get to cut in line at the security checkpoint because their flight is taking off in ten minutes. Tough shit! Maybe if you miss your flight, you'll remember to haul your lazy ass out of bed and get to the airport early like everybody else standing in line. I would have loved to sleep-in for an extra hour this morning, show up late, and then cut in front of the line... but I'm not a complete douche.
• Erasure! Having never seen them in concert before, I leapt at the chance when I found out that Erasure would be playing in Milwaukee, and met up with blogging buddies Diane and Heather for the concert, which was held at the Pabst Theater...
Erasure was formed when Vince Clark quit my favorite band ever, Depeche Mode, and split from his follow-up band, Yaz. The story goes that he had intended on doing some new music projects with a rotating roster of singers but, once he started working with Andy Bell, the partnership stuck and they've been making music for over two decades now.
The show, as you would expect from a group with an ecstatic gay fan-base, was FAAAAABULOUS! All the music was beautifully keyed by Vince from his MacBook and a small sequencer, the three ladies backing up the group on vocals were suitably talented, and Andy... well, Andy was Andy... pouring his flamboyant little heart into a remarkable performance that elevated this concert to one of the best I've seen. Given the intimate nature of the rather small Pabst Theater, the glitzy stage for the show had to be condensed a bit, but was still nice. Our first balcony seats offered up a terrific view (thanks Diane!), and the sound was great. The set list had a large amount of new material, but it was the old favorites (like Chains of Love and A Little Respect) that brought the crowd to their feet. All-in-all, it was a great show and I would gladly see them again.
Except next time I'll dress appropriately...
• Young Love! Surprisingly, the opening act for Erasure was really pretty good. This came as a pleasant surprise, because usually concert openers suck ass. The band was called "Young Love" and had an eclectic rock-pop style that made them a good fit for the tour. I'm hoping that their stuff is available on iTunes so I can buy some of it.
UPDATE: Yep, turns out they're on iTunes! Sweet!
• iPhoneable! There are so many things I love about my new iPhone that it's tough to narrow down what's best about it. But right now it would have to be the fact that it has an unlimited data plan. Because nothing makes me happier than being able to tell overpriced airport internet providers to kiss my ass. Having to pay $9.95 for an entire day of access always pissed me off, because a layover doesn't usually go over 3 hours (and $10 for 3 hours is a big rip-off). AT&T's EDGE network may be slow, but iPhone allows me to use it for everything I need... checking email, approving comments, reading my feeds (thanks to NetNewsWire's brilliant new iPhone-optimized site), and kill time surfing the internet. One of my best purchases ever.
• iDead! At least it was one of my best purchases ever until it died just now. With plenty of battery power, I was listening to music on the flight when iPhone just went black and would not turn back on. Taking a wild guess, I held down all the buttons at the same time and eventually iPhone rebooted and everything was fine again. Odd. Hope this doesn't become a regular thing.
And that's it for Bullet Sunday because we'll be landing in 20 minutes. All I have to do now is change planes in Seattle, make one final hop over the mountains, and I'm home!
I am a total Apple whore, because Apple has actually earned my unwavering love and devotion over the years. I love their high-quality products, think they've created the best computer user experience on earth, and never think twice about buying their stuff because it always exceeds my every expectation. Until something went terribly wrong.
I am not a big fan of bluetooth headsets, especially when they're being worn around when no phone call is taking place. As I've mentioned, I think it makes people look like they're a Star Trek Borg or a Giant Dick...
But they are handy to have when you are taking a long drive, and so I went ahead and bought Apple's specialty headset for my iPhone. It's pricey... $129... but I figure it's worth it if it will allow me to be safer while on the road. The unit was on back-order for several weeks, but finally arrived yesterday.
If I were reviewing Apple's iPhone Bluetooth Headset, I could sum up my experience in four words... Steaming Pile Of Shit.
Seriously. Worst. Apple. Experience. Ever...
When it arrived, I followed the instructions and "paired" the headset with my phone by using the included charging cradle. It's all very cool, because the iPhone then displays the battery level of both itself and the headset. Except the pairing doesn't work. I would pair them, even confirm they were paired in the iPhone settings, but nothing works. The phone would route sound to the headset, but no sound would come out.
Referring to the inadequate documentation, I followed all the steps they offered... unpairing/re-pairing. Resetting the phone. Turning settings off and on. Blah blah blah blah. Eventually, some magical combination got the headphone working, even though the sound quality was not very good. Even worse, the unit does not fit in my ear very well (even with the foam pads they include). Any vigorous activity would cause the thing to fall out. Figuring that this was probably the way all Bluetooth headsets worked, I gave up and went to bed.
Only to wake up and find that the headset had run out of battery overnight.
After charging it up again, I had the exact same problem as before. The stupid thing would NOT play sound, even though the iPhone says it was sending the call's audio to it. I played around for an hour, following all the troubleshooting tips like last time, but never could get it to work again.
Well fuck this.
There is no way I am keeping this $129 piece of crap, so I go online to the Apple Store to arrange a return. Except, for reasons I cannot possibly fathom, Apple doesn't accept returns online for defective crap...
How incredibly stupid is that? With no other choice, I wait for my lunch break to call AppleCare as requested.
After welcoming you to AppleCare support, the computerized voice starts its spiel. Ordinarily, I don't mind automated systems, because they often prove to be more efficient at routing calls than real people. AppleCare's robot, however is particularly stupid. Here is what I remember from my first call...
APPLECARE: Just say the name of the product for which you need support. For example, say "Mac Pro" or "iPod."
DAVE: iPhone Bluetooth Headset.
APPLECARE COMPUTER: I'm sorry, I don't recognize that product...
DAVE: iPHONE BLUETOOTH HEADSET!!
APPLECARE COMPUTER: I'm sorry, I don't recognize...
APPLECARE COMPUTER: The wait time for an operator may be several minutes. I've found that I can help most calls...
APPLECARE COMPUTER: So I can route your call properly, please say the name of the product you are needing help with...
DAVE: FUCK OFF!
APPLECARE COMPUTER: Okay, what kind of iPod do you have? For example, say "Shuffle" if you are calling about an iPod Shuffle.
APPLECARE COMPUTER: I'm sorry, I don't recognize that product...
When somebody fucking says "OPERATOR," that's the point when the automated system needs to IMMEDIATELY put you in the queue for an operator. Don't keep trying to convince people to use your stupid shit if they can't get it to work in the first place! This is remarkably bad form, and a true surprise from Apple, whose service is usually impeccable.
A second call to AppleCare, and I get myself put in the iPhone Support queue... for 52 minutes... AT WHICH POINT THE SYSTEM HANGS UP!!! FIFTY-TWO MINUTES ON HOLD FOR NOTHING!!
What the hell?
This time I call The Apple Store, hoping I can return it directly where I bought it and bypass AppleCare. No go. The system immediately transfers me back to AppleCare... where my call is answered on the first ring! WTF?!? Then everything proceeds as it usually does, with my getting the immediate, friendly, competent service I'm accustomed to when calling Apple. They process my return in a few minutes, and I'm good to go.
So I guess it nets out like this: Apple iPhone Bluetooth Headset: surprisingly bad. AppleCare Support: good as usual (once I finally got there). Not surprisingly, this bump in the road hasn't soured me on Apple much. I guess everybody screws up sooner or later. Perhaps because I am so ecstatically happy with my iPhone, it's easy to ignore my bad luck with the headset? This is easily the best mobile phone I've ever had, and I love it more every day. And, despite numerous warnings about AT&T's wireless service (or lack thereof), I've had excellent coverage everywhere I've been with it... certainly no better or worse than my previous service with Verizon.
Anyway, I do find it comforting to know that my Apple Whore status remains unchanged.
It's kind of nice to be a total whore from time to time.