Posted on Sunday, February 1st, 2009
I'm pretty exhausted, so this Bullet Sunday may or may not make sense.
In other words, it's the same as every other day here at Blogography.
• Approval. If you were reading my blog last year around this time, you might remember Disapproving Man. He lived in a window I passed every time I walk to or from my hotel here in Cologne. On my way to work... he's there. Back from work... he's there. Out to dinner... he's there. He's always there. Always looking at me with that disapproving smirk, mocking me...
Well now Disapproving Man has been replaced by Disapproving WOMAN! Just look at her! She has that exact same smirk on her face...
What a bastard she is! I don't know how I'm going to survive her glare of judgement first thing every morning!
• Psychotic. You may also remember that last year I got an official Kölner Karneval scarf. I wore it even though there was a clown on the thing because it made me look totally hot...
This year the scarf is even more terrifying. The clown isn't just scary, he's psychotic-scary. And not psychotic-scary in a good way either... it's more of a "I eat baby kittens and light things on fire" kind of pedophile psychotic-scary...
• Parenthood. Last Wednesday while I was at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport waiting for my suitcase to arrive, I saw a baby trailing along behind her mother with a bottle in one hand, struggling to keep up. The mother wasn't paying attention because she was busy talking on her mobile phone. The baby wasn't too steady on her feet, and as she tried to move faster and faster to catch up with her mom, she lost her balance and face-planted on the floor. The mother turned around when she heard her baby crying, walked back to where she was, reached down and jerked her up by her arm, snatched the bottle off the floor, then proceeded to scream at the poor thing with "I'M ON THE PHONE!!"
Throughout the entire ordeal the only time she stopped talking on her mobile was to yell at her kid.
I was about as angry as I've ever been, and felt like shouting "SHE'S JUST A BABY AND DOESN'T UNDERSTAND YOUR SCREAMING YOU STUPID BITCH! TRY PAYING ATTENTION TO YOUR KID SO SHE DOESN'T KILL HERSELF TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH YOUR IGNORANT ASS!!!" And then I would have bitch-slapped the fucking idiot so hard her lips would have flown off. Why have a child if you're so self-absorbed that you aren't going to pay attention to it, then punish it for something that's your fault? Seriously. Mother of the year.
Anyway, after work today I wanted pizza, so I walked down Hohe Straße to get a slice from a shop I like there. It's Sunday, so most everything is closed, but I thought I'd walk around a bit anyways just to see what's new.
Once I got to the Lego Store, I turned around to head back, and noticed a man with a small child heading towards me. The little guy was trudging along like a champ as the father pointed out things in the shop windows for him to look at along the way. The man was very patient, taking small steps so the child could walk at a comfortable pace, and holding his hand the entire time.
It was hard not to compare this to my experience at the airport earlier this week, and it brought a smile to my face knowing that there are still parents out there who give a shit...
It reminds me of a line that Keanu Reaves has in the movie Parenthood which goes something like this... "You need a license to buy a dog or drive a car. Hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But any asshole can be a parent." How true it is.
• Shitty. I'd just like to state for the record that the SwissCom wireless I'm paying ridiculous money for is sucking copious amounts of ass. The signal completely drops out every 5 to 10 minutes, which is really inconvenient while you're trying to coordinate work with your computer back home. If it were free, I wouldn't have much cause to complain, but it's something like 17 Euros a night, which is over $20 in US money. That's pretty heinous, even when the service is flawless, but the fact that it's complete shit is almost too much to bear.
And, on that note, I'm going to re-connect to the internet (AGAIN) so I can upload this nonsense and get to bed.
Tomorrow, there may be candy...
Posted on Monday, February 2nd, 2009
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.
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?
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?
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!
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! 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.
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...
PEZ may very well be the planet's most perfect creation. CANDY AND A TOY... TOGETHER!!! Genius.
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...
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!!!
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...
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...
Posted on Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009
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...
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...
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...
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...
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.
Posted on Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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.
Posted on Thursday, February 5th, 2009
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...
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...
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)...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
And thus ends my first day in beautiful Palma...
Tomorrow will be spent running myself ragged playing tourist. I can hardly wait.
Posted on Friday, February 6th, 2009
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...
The interior was glorious, as expected, even though the primary altar was undergoing repairs...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
After another round of tapas for dinner, I took one last look at the cathedral from the marina...
And thus ends my day in beautiful Palma de Mallorca.
Posted on Saturday, February 7th, 2009
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...
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...
But what I didn't notice until today was that she's not alone...
OMG! IT'S GEORGE CLOONEY!! Far from being disapproving, he actually seems happy to see me...
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...
Aw, they get all the sexy ads! Just look at how they sell their ice cream...
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?
Posted on Sunday, February 8th, 2009
This probably won't get posted until Monday given that I'm traveling all day, but oh well.
• Clueless. One of the comments I got when I had blogged about being in Mallorca and mentioned it had rained for a few hours that afternoon went something like this: "HA HA HA HA HOPE YOUR ENJOYING GETTIN DRUNCHED WITH RAIN IN SPAIN HA HA HA HA!" When stuff like this happens, I never know exactly how to interpret it, so I just delete the comment and that's the end of it. Except this time the person kept coming back again and again to leave the same comment, which I kept deleting. Finally I got an email from him saying "I think your comments are broken because mine aren't showing up." Uh huh. How do you email a clue?
• Comforted. For domestic flights, I usually get upgraded to First Class because I fly a lot and am special like that. But they don't upgrade you on international flights, which is where you'd most want to be upgraded because they're so darn long. Ten hours in a tiny seat squished next to another tiny seat is just not fun. Which brings me to my question of the day... exactly how small and unbearable can they make coach seats before they just end up strapping you to a milk crate? After an hour, you're hurting. After ten, you're praying for death. The seats are unbelievable uncomfortable, and should be banned under the Geneva Convention as a device of torture. I would gladly pay $100 extra to have even a small amount of personal space and a decent place to sit. Where is the airline that services the "PLEASE GOD LET THE HORROR OF AIRPLANE TRAVE END!" market?
• Robbed. On the plane-ride back to The States, one of the many movies playing in the entertainment system was The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. This is one of those polarizing films that you either love because it's so beautifully crafted and touching... or hate because it could be considered exploitative and simplistic. I love the film, and watched it again even though I had already seen it twice. Once it was over, I wondered for the thousandth time why the two lead actors, Asa Butterfield as Bruno and Jack Scanlon as Shmuel, were overlooked at the Oscars. Was it because they were kids? I dunno. Because, in all honesty, they easily had the two most powerful performances I've seen in a film all year. The movie was also one of the most beautifully shot, but it wasn't nominated for Best Cinematography either. Typical...
• Analog. Sorry, but Obama is getting off to a pretty shitty start with me. After our government has already delayed the transition from analog to digital television broadcasting for YEARS, we finally got a four-year deadline of February 17th, 2009 so all the feet-dragging citizens would have an incentive to join the 20th century. But then, thanks to Obama begging Congress to extend the deadline, it's been extended. I am so sick of this stupid shit. Like what... now they're going to set a NEW deadline saying "this time we really mean it" and expect people to take it seriously? Procrastinators are just going to keep ignoring the transition until they're televisions stop working. And that's what it's going to take... whether it's in one week or one year. SO MAKE THEIR FUCKING TELEVISIONS STOP WORKING! These delays are costing us millions and won't make any difference. If this "delay until it goes away" bullshit is indicative of how Obama is going to handle the infinitely more serious problems the USA is facing, we're all fucked. Politics as usual, I see.
And now I wait for my final connecting flight home.
Posted on Monday, February 9th, 2009
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...
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.
Posted on Tuesday, February 10th, 2009
Posted on Wednesday, February 11th, 2009
I have been having serious digestive problems since returning from Europe. Everything I eat seems to make me sick. I'm hoping this problem sorts itself out soon, because it's making it really tough to get through my work day.
Speaking of work, today is rather jam-packed, so I've decided to sponge off the "Ten Honest Things About You" meme that's been going around. Because if Iron Fist can be convinced to do it, what chance do I have of resisting? I mean, seriously, the guy doesn't have an "About Me" page, and his "Contact Me" page is permanently under construction... getting him to reveal anything online is paramount to a miracle!
Away we go...
Time for another swig of Pepto Bismol...
If that can't cure me... what can?
Posted on Thursday, February 12th, 2009
At what point did it become okay to talk with your mouth full?
I'm really curious about this, because while I was eating at Denny's this evening I nearly went on a homicidal rampage. I was seated behind a 50-year-old guy on a first date who nearly died in a coughing fit every ten minutes. I was seated ahead of some 25-year-old moron trying to entertain his 100-year-old great-grandmother by talking about his latest World or Warcraft adventure. And I was seated across from some rude piece of shit 75-year-old guy whose was yelling into his mobile phone every 15 minutes.
Entire generations from age 25 to 100 were represented, and yet it didn't make any difference. I think every one of them were chewing and talking with their mouths wide open and full of food. Especially the guy across from me, who was talking with his mouth full while he was shouting into his mobile phone! I can't imagine how disgusting it was to be on the other end of that phone call.
When I was little, I was taught not to talk with my mouth full and to keep my mouth closed while chewing. Anything less was considered bad manners. So did I miss something here? Did the rules of good manners change? Were my parents way off base? Or do I need to release another book...
It's as if society is in total meltdown, and common courtesy, respect, decency, and manners no longer apply.
What's next? How much worse can it get? I'm guessing eventually you'll be eating you meal at Denny's and somebody is going to come up, drop their pants, then rip a fart on your dinner plate because they just don't care.
And maybe that's the root cause of everything. The world is crumbling around us, and people just don't care anymore.
I can't say that I really blame them.
After finding out that the executive salary cap was removed from the stimulus bill, I'm to the point where I just don't care anymore either. President Obama got into office on a promise of CHANGE, and NOTHING HAS FUCKING CHANGED! We the American people are still getting gang-raped by politicians who are catering to the wealthy at our expense, just like we have been for the past eight years under President Bush. God forbid some dumb-fuck bank executive who ran their business into the ground should have their salary capped at $400,000 just because they need the government to bail out their worthless asses. Which basically means that Wall Street fucktards will continue to get billions of dollars worth of salary increases and bonuses for being complete failures. Suddenly, all those tax increases for the rich don't matter, because we're giving the money right back to them!
Clearly, I took the wrong career path. If I were a complete failure at my job, I'D BE FUCKING FIRED!!
I had no illusions that Obama was going to get into office and everything was going to magically change for the better... but I did expect he would stand firm on this kind of bullshit. It's a matter of principle. Bush fucked us over by giving tax breaks and incentives to oil companies making billions in profits. Obama has now fucked us over by giving billions to corporate executives operating at a loss. Call me naive, but if I must be fucked over, I'd rather it be from rewarding success than rewarding failure.
I'm sure Obama's people will come out blaming the Republicans... telling us that they wouldn't pass the stimulus bill unless the salary caps were removed. It may even be true. BUT I DON'T FUCKING CARE!! I don't care if the entire country goes down in flames and our economy collapses into ruins. I don't care if life as we know it comes to an end. I don't care if civilizations die and mankind spirals to extinction. I DON'T FUCKING CARE!! I don't care because at least we'd go out WITH OUR FUCKING PRINCIPLES INTACT!!
President Obama should have stood firm on the salary pay caps, regardless of the consequences. If executives at failing economic institutions decided not to accept government funds because they feel they deserve more than $400,000 in salary, then so be it. Let the assholes fail and take everybody else with them. The country may collapse, but at least I could hold my head high while watching it burn.
As it is now, I guess I'll just start talking with my mouth full and farting on people's dinner. After watching Obama drop his principles to take from the poor and give to the rich (whose bad decisions are responsible for making us poor in the first place), I just don't care.
It's a change I can believe in.
Posted on Friday, February 13th, 2009
Whenever I find a free moment, usually at the end of the day, I grab my laptop to bang out the day's entry. In good moods or bad, I press that "publish" button and to hell with the consequences.
Except last night. For the first time I can remember, I decided to "sleep on it" before publishing something in my blog. I was outraged to the point of meltdown when I had read that the salary cap for executives taking government bailout money had been cut out of the stimulus package, and wrote about it. Hard.
There's plenty of stupid shit in the "stimulus package" that I don't agree with but, given the terrible shape we're in, I just decided to eat it and trust that doing something crazy was better than doing nothing. Maybe if the package itself didn't work, it might at least spur consumer confidence and get us turned around from this mess we're in. And, despite having reservations about the bailout, I was at least warmed by the salary caps. Even with all the bullshit stuffed in with the billions, somebody was finally putting their foot down and saying "enough with public money going to reward these stupid assholes who are already overpaid." It was a start.
But then the news popped up while I was blogging about the salary caps being axed and I came unglued. One of the few things I 100% approved of in the whole damn stimulus fiasco was apparently gone, and the rage descended. But I only had one source, The Huffington Post writing on a story from The Washington Post, so I decided to sleep on it.
But I was unable to sleep and, at 3:30am, decided to push the button and publish the entry. If the information was wrong, then whatever, I could publish a retraction and apologize for my outburst later. Because if the information was correct, I wouldn't be able to forgive myself for having not said anything. Since 1.6 BILLION FUCKING DOLLARS of the first stimulus package was spent on "executive compensation," I was just too angry to let it slide.
Then I went to sleep for a few hours.
This morning I was still furious, but felt better after reading a nice entry by Mooselet with an update on Sam, the koala who was injured in the Victorian bushfires in Australia. Apparently she's still in pain, but doing well and expected to make a full recovery. She's even got herself a boyfriend named Bob, another survivor from the fires. How can you stay mad when you see a photo like this...
Mooselet also mentioned that The Herald Sun is now selling copies of that famous photo where CFA David Tree is sharing his water bottle with Sam the day she was rescued...
Including delivery to the States, the photo costs just $18.65 (in US dollars, $28.18 in AUS dollars), and all proceeds go towards helping victims of the fires... human and animal alike. You can order your copy directly from The Herald Sun Shop.
It was one piece of good news I had before learning that there were no survivors in the Buffalo plane crash last night.
I could use some good news, and ordered the photo to remind me that it still exists.
Posted on Saturday, February 14th, 2009
Apparently, It's Valentine's Day.
And so here's this year's card...
Except I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day, so I revised it to be a bit more indicative of my feelings...
Posted on Sunday, February 15th, 2009
At long last... Bullet Sunday at home. Imagine that!
&bull Dolly. Okay, I just have to get this out of the way... if the first issue of Joss Whedon's new series is any indication as to what we're in for... Dollhouse is going to suck total ass. This pains me greatly, because I have been looking forward to a new Whedon series forever. After Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and the amazing Firefly, he teased us with Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, which was sheer genius. It was as if he could not fail. But then along comes Dollhouse, which has to be one of the most boring hours of television I've ever suffered through. Eliza Dushku stars as lead "doll" Echo who had her mind wiped so she could be programmed with different personalities and training, which she then uses to undertake missions for a mysterious company. Now the premise... a hot girl who can become anybody to do a job... had definite possibilities. The reality? Boring. Boring. Boring. The most exciting action in the entire episode was when Dushku's character had an asthma attack. What the hell? I was wishing I had a Dollhouse mind-wipe half-way through the show. Things had better improve a lot in the next installment. Eliza is hot, but not hot enough to keep me watching a shitty, boring TV show...
• Snowy. It's been snowing all day. I am really, really tired of snow.
• Poopy. While I was in Mallorca, I saw this confusing sign...
I can't decide if he's waiting for something to come OUT of the dog so he can clean it up... or if he's going to put something UP the dog. Like a bottle of Goldschläger...
Poor doggie. That's just wrong.
• Snowy. It's been snowing all day. Have I mentioned that I am really, really tired of snow?
Now, for some inexplicable reason, I'm really tired (that almost never happens!) so I think I'll turn in early for bed.
Posted on Monday, February 16th, 2009
I have been hit with fatigue, headache, fever, intestinal distress, stomach pain, sore throat, chills, and all-over body aches. After plugging that into WebMD, it appears I have Lyme Disease. Except I haven't been bitten, so I'm guessing it's a stomach flu of some kind. Yay! If I'm lucky, it'll be a temporary thing and I'll be better tomorrow. At least I hope so.
In the meanwhile, I'll be dropping off the face of the earth. Or, at least the face of the interwebs, while I die for a bit...
I'm just so lucky.
Posted on Tuesday, February 17th, 2009
I have come to the conclusion that the greatest thing since pre-sliced bread is pre-shredded cheese.I've heard a lot of people using a lot of things to try and trump sliced bread as far as great inventions go... but not one of them measures up to the awesomeness of pre-shreded cheese. Especially when you find yourself making tacos at home. Last night I was was feeling awful. So this morning's conversation with myself went something like this...
DAVE: wah! i feel terrible.
DAVE: No you don't!
DAVE: yes i do. see... i just said so on twitter.
DAVE: No, you really don't! Does your throat hurt?
DAVE: Do your intestines feel like they're going to climb out of your throat and strangle you?
DAVE: Are you feeling hot?
DAVE: Errr... I mean feverish.
DAVE: Headache? Chills? Stomach pain? Runny nose? Cough?
DAVE: no. no. no. no. no.
DAVE: Then you're fine!
DAVE: no i'm not. i feel terrible.
DAVE: That's because you took three Benadryl, a Unisom, and a couple Excedrin PM so you could fall asleep. You're not sick... you're just groggy and drugged. Now get up and get to work!
DAVE: okay. i'm going.
And I've regretted it ever since.
I felt more terrible being not-sick today than I've ever felt being for-reals-sick in the past. Now I think I'm actually getting for-reals-sick.
All because I listened to my body and went to work instead of just staying in bed.
I should have known better. It's not like I'm a doctor or anything.
Posted on Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
For I have become Death, destroyer of blogs.
Posted on Thursday, February 19th, 2009
The situation here is quite dire. I feel absolutely-kill-me-now horrible, and appear to be getting worse with each passing minute. On top of everything else (searing pain, crippling headaches, cough, runny nose, and heartburn), my right eye has suddenly decided to swell up. Not a fun time to be Dave.
I'd try and blog, but all I'd have to talk about was how miserable I am, so I think it's best that I don't.
Instead, I'm going to take a handful of pills, climb into bed, then die for 6 or 7 hours (hopefully)...
Posted on Friday, February 20th, 2009
Ummm... yeah... probably not much of blog entry today. I am one hot mess right over here, and spend most of my time in a drug-induced coma. I started to draw a new DaveToon showing Armageddon and the End of Days happening because ignorant publicity whore Ann Coulter actually made a statement I partially agree with (the Stimulus Package rewards failure), but I can only see out of one eye, which makes drawing difficult.
Agreeing even sightly with Ann Coulter has me terrified that my sickness is far worse than I imagined. I'm guessing I have some kind of brain virus or something. Or maybe I'm okay and she's the one with the brain virus. This is highly unlikely, however, given that I've already determined that she's brain dead...
One thing I did do today was make myself into a comic book super-hero, because I could manage it with only one eye...
You can make your own hero here.
And now I feel another coma coming on...
Posted on Saturday, February 21st, 2009
Being sick is just time off work you can't enjoy.
Except I ended up going to work for a couple hours this morning to get caught up on a few things. This was a huge mistake, because the effort of working those two hours ruined me for the rest of the day. Any progress I made in getting better was wiped away, leaving me an exhausted husk who was barely able to climb into bed once I got back home.
Tomorrow I get to make the same mistake, hopefully while feeling better than today. Otherwise, on Monday I get to pay a visit to the doctor. Hopefully for mass coma-inducing drugs.
Which I think we can all agree is the best part of going to the doctor...
Posted on Sunday, February 22nd, 2009
Posted on Monday, February 23rd, 2009
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.
Posted on Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
This morning I awoke feeling like the usual bucket of crap. I slowly managed to get through my morning routine so I could shuffle off to work, then opened the door to... snow. Lots of snow. Huge golf-ball-sized flakes of snow falling so thick I could barely see across the street. This took me completely by surprise, because the sun had been making regular appearances on previous days.
Argh. The weather had gotten better. Then it got much worse.
Which pretty much sums up my health. An hour into work I was feeling better than I had in days, and was thrilled at the prospect of getting 8 hours of work done. Alas, it was not to last, as I came crashing down around 1:00, ultimately feeling much worse than I had when the day started.
Now, here I am at 6:30 banging on death's door once again, wanting nothing more than to sleep the misery away. It's probably time to consult a doctor, so now I've got that hanging over my head as well. Meanwhile the email piles higher and higher... I get further and further behind... and life continues to pass me by. Woe. Woe Woe.
For some reason I though whining about it all would make me feel better.
Posted on Wednesday, February 25th, 2009
The wonderful world of over-the-counter medication is a magical place.
As you might have guessed from my past week of blogging, I'm a total baby when it comes to being sick, so I tend to spend a lot of my time inventing new and creative ways of using over-the-counter medication to make my life suck less when I get ill. Mostly by mixing and matching various drugs until I find a happy combination that puts me in a mental state where I don't mind so much that my nose is leaking all over the place.
Finding the right mix of pills is a daunting task. Screw up too much, and you get to take a trip to the hospital. Don't screw up enough, and you end up aware that you're sick.
Most of my time is spent negotiating with medicine packaging as to the proper dosage because, well, you just know that they're low-balling it...
The rest of my time is spent figuring out which pills go good together, and which pills will have a battle-to-the-death in your stomach. Initially, I figured things out by trial-and-error. Eventually I figured out that it's actually the COLOR of the pills that determines how your body will react. Red pills, for example, seem to go good with any other color. Green pills should never be mixed with pink pills. Blue pills should only be mixed with yellow pills if you want to end up psychotic for a few hours. White pills are just fooling themselves.
Right now I will be taking two giant blue pills, two circle red pills, two small blue pills, and one green pill, followed by a handful of M&M's candies in assorted colors. I'm hoping at least one of those will help me get some sleep tonight.
Posted on Thursday, February 26th, 2009
How do scientists figure out how chemicals affect the body? Surely it can't be an accident. As in "Hey, I accidentally sprinkled Dextromethorphan on my corn flakes this morning, and my cough went away!" or "I accidentally snorted some Phenylephrine last night, and my nasal congestion cleared up!" Maybe they're just good guessers, as in "I needed an antihistamine, and something told me that Doxylamine Succinate would do the trick!" Or maybe scientists are just playing tricks on each other all the time and sometimes they get lucky, as in "I spiked his coffee with some Guaifenesin as a goof, and it broke up his chest congestion... who knew?"
Of course, sometimes it probably doesn't go as planned, as in "I laced his chocolate pudding with Strychnine on a dare... it's not like I meant to kill him or anything."
I am entirely too bored laying in bed all day, obviously.
Posted on Friday, February 27th, 2009
Where to begin with Lisa.
Lisa and I got off to a rocky start. She had been dropping by Blogography with witty comments for a while, so I added her blog to my feed reader and started following her writings at Clusterfook. After a while of back-and-forth we had arrived at one of those "blogger friendships" that seems to develop with people you know online but don't really know at all. We'd email from time to time, but it was all superficial niceties that precluded any real personal connection.
All that changed after I had been traveling for a couple days and finally had a chance to catch up with blogs. Lisa had written a frustrated rant about how she gets tons of comments when she blogs about stupid crap, but when she writes asking for help raising money for cancer research, there was nothing. She then went on to say some harsh words to her readers about "not caring about cancer" and pondering why she even bothered to try and make a difference. At first I was confused, until I read her previous entry asking for sponsorship in a cancer-walk. Then I was angry, because not only was I not given a chance to offer support before she lashed out, but because I have a sister who had just had cancer surgery for a second time. I left a comment basically saying "GIVE PEOPLE A CHANCE, IT'S ONLY BEEN ONE DAY!" and "HOW DARE YOU TELL ME I DON'T CARE ABOUT CANCER!"
I expected that would be the last I heard from Lisa.
But I was wrong.
She wrote to me and apologized. And she insisted on sending my sister one of the bracelets she sells to raise money for cancer research. It was all very surreal and unexpected, because that's just not the way that superficial online relationships usually work.
But this was Lisa.
She had survived cancer three times and knew that life was just too short for this kind of crap.
And then, just as we were getting to be much better friends, the bomb was dropped. Lisa had cancer again. Lisa was fighting for her life again.
We finally met in person a month later at TequilaCon 2008 in Philadelphia. Lisa arrived way early with her husband, "Dude," to help claim space at the bowling alley for the event, but I had already slammed two shots and was working on a beer by then (social functions are much easier for me once I've got some alcohol in me). After introducing herself and Dude then saying "hi" to everybody, Lisa cried "DAVE!!" and ran up to give me a big hug.
She then announced that she "has to get a picture of this important moment" and handed her camera to Dude. "It can't be too important if I'm drunk" I tell her...
"Oh they're all important" she replied.
I don't know what I could possibly add to that. Except that I will miss her.
My thoughts are with Lisa's husband, daughters, friends, and family today. Your every moment with Lisa was important to her.
Posted on Saturday, February 28th, 2009