Posted on Thursday, October 1st, 2009
Coming over to Europe, I smoosh two days into one. Going back home, I make one day into two. It's a not-so-pleasant consequence of international travel... but I'm kind of used to it by now so it doesn't bother me that much.
Here was my "day" Wednesday and Thursday, which I am now calling "Wedthurday"...
I got up early to drive to Seattle...
Was surprised to see there's already snow starting in the mountains...
Hopped on a plane to Amsterdam...
Was served warmed nuts while I watched movies (The Proposal and Terminator Salvation)...
Got a butter flower with personal salt and pepper shakers with dinner...
Watched my progress as I approached DutchyLand...
Got a "bagel" before landing...
Landed at Schiphol Airport in the early morning...
After The DutchBitch was kind enough to pick me up from the airport, she went to work... and I took the train into Amsterdam to have lunch with some friends! I arrived a couple hours early, so I wandered to the wonderful Van Gogh Museum.
I love the Van Gogh Museum. The world never seems so big than when looking at it through Vincent's eyes. On top of that, the museum itself is really nice with some great architecture to it...
After a great lunch with some good people, I decided to stroll through Amsterdam for a while before heading back to DutchyLand...
Just like many large cities, Amsterdam has some public art projects. My favorite is still the Bears of Berlin, but they've got elephants going on that are quite cool too...
Then it was the train back for dinner with Dutchy and some blogger talk.
Not bad for a 36-hour day!
Posted on Friday, October 2nd, 2009
As the grand Bitchsterdam festivities are not until tomorrow, those of us in DutchyLand early had decided to goof off in the picturesque city of Delft in South Holland. It's a rather important city in the history of the Netherlands, and is famous for it's Chinese-style pottery and being the birthplace of the painter Vermeer.
After arriving in the city, The DutchBitch, Geeky Tai-Tai, her husband, and myself decided to take a speed-boat cruise on the Delft canals. Except the speed-boat never went over two miles an hour, which made for a relaxing start to our day...
The canals are smaller than those you'll find in Amsterdam, which makes them that much prettier...
The Central Square still has many old buildings, though apparently they're not quite as old as you'd expect because the city was razed by fire and then later destroyed again when a gunpowder factory exploded...
Geeky Tai-Tai and The Dutch Bitch outside of the Delf Cathedral...
Delftware hand-painted pottery is a big tourist attraction and incredibly expensive if you buy the "real" stuff. Fortunately, there's tons of imitation pottery around for the tourist trade...
Given that this is the Netherlands, one of my most favorite foods on earth is easily available... potatoes and mayo...
But the food for which Delf is made famous is Poffertjes, which are little pancake-type thingies that are served up with powdered sugar & butter and are totally delicious. Much to the annoyance of Dutchy, I kept mis-pronouncing them as "Pooferglarg" or "Poofterjarb" or "Pooferflargen"... which, if you follow any of us on Twitter, was responsible for terrorizing the Twitterverse last night...
Amazingly, there was a restaurant we found which proudly proclaims that "Bill Clinton Ate Poffertjes Here"... and has somehow survived the experience...
All in all, it was a perfect way to spend the afternoon...
After dropping off Geeky Tai-Tai back at Schophol so she could spend some quallity pooferflargen time with her husband (without annoying bloggers around), we goofed off for a while until the celebrated arrival of The Lady Penelope. From then on, it was Wine-O-Clock, pooferflargen, chips & dip, Wine-O-Clock, pooferflargen, Twittering, Wine-O-Clock, pooferflargen, laughing, Wine-O-Clock, and pooferflargen for the rest of the evening and into the early morning...
For everybody on Twitter who had to suffer through the experience with us, I apologize.
But not really.
Because we had an awesome time, and it's hard to make apologies for that.
Posted on Saturday, October 3rd, 2009
The day started off with an interesting twist... the hot water heater in Dutchy's house went kaput. The ladies managed to track down a hot shower for themselves (use your imagination here, heaven only knows I did), while I volunteered to stay behind and take a cold shower. So as to spend as little time as possible being chilled, I devised a plan whereas I would hose myself down, suds myself up, then rinse myself off.
It was a good plan. At first. Hosing myself down wasn't too bad, as it only involved a few seconds of contact with the icy water. Sudsing myself up was equally trivial. Where things went terribly wrong was in the last step.
Because it takes considerably longer to rinse soap off than to put it on.
And the entire time I was standing under that freezing stream of water... I could Not. Stop. Laughing.
Which probably made a terrific impression on Dutchy's neighbors, hearing a guy laughing hysterically while in the shower (let's hear her try to explain THAT one away!).
What finally made the laughter stop was when I looked down and saw the my once-magnificient pooferflargen had shrunk to the size of a peanut. There's just nothing funny about that.
Fortunately, Dutchy's cat was nonjudgmental on my plight...
But the morning's adventure in shrinkage was all made worthwhile when Dutchy made my wildest fantasty come true... her and Penelope took me to a snack bar so I could get some frites met mayo...
But the awesomeness did not stop with the fries and mayo.
It was taken to the Next. Level.
Because I was able to also have a cheese sandwich as well. A cheese sandwich made with "Old Cheese." Beautiful, sexy, tasty, aged Dutch cheese. On a roll. That looked like this...
While I looked like this...
Then, after a lunch so delicious I achieved orgasm, we went wandering in the local shops so I could make fun of the native products. I think this one speaks for itself...
Unless you're familiar with the French language, in which case it seems perfectly sane.
But if you are not familiar with the French language, you may be wondering how much more hilarious a product name could get than "Douche Creme."
I'm glad you asked...
I can't quite decide which one I like best. There is a case to be made for both Douche Oil and Douche Scrub. But there was no time to debate the merits of these douchey products because Bitchsterdam was at hand, and we had to head up to Amsterdam. Where we ran across a new batch of elephants! Including this beauty...
... on the way to the Hard Rock Cafe...
Where an amazing group of people consisting of Mr. Geeky Tai-Tai, Geeky Tai-Tai, Bra-Dutch, The Dutch Bitch, ME!, and The Lady Penelope got together for a wonderful night of food, drinks, and a lot of laughs...
Despite all that, there was still time for my Jägermeister habit to corrupt the innocence of Penelope's seasoned wine-loving palette...
All-in-all in was a wonderful evening at the Hard Rock Cafe...
Because I was the luckiest bastard on the planet this night, as I got to go back home with THIS...
All my thanks to The Dutch Bitch, for hosting such a fantastic event!
Posted on Sunday, October 4th, 2009
It's Bullet Sunday from my last day in the Netherlands! And what a beautiful one it is... with blue skies everywhere you look. A nice change from the past three days. The weather came just in time, because tomorrow I'm back to Schiphol for my flight home.
• Beach. The Lady Penelope didn't have to fly out until late afternoon, so The DutchBitch was kind enough to take us to Noordwijk aan Zee so we could see the beach (and eat more potatoes with mayo). It was a nice day out, though the wind was blowing pretty fierce. This was great for the chute-surfers out on the water...
• Blue. After saying goodbye to Lady P. at the airport, we headed back into Amsterdam because I had forgotten my sunglasses at dinner last night. Thats when I saw something pretty amazing... blue sky behind the Hard Rock Cafe! In the half-dozen photos I have from previous visits, none of them have blue sky. But there it was...
• Big. In the USA, the restaurant portions are always massive, which means I can't ever eat it all and food goes to waste. Outside the USA, restaurant portions are usually of a more reasonable size, which is nice because I can actually finish everything on my plate without bursting. But when it comes to drinks, it's just the opposite. Order a Coke and they bring you a tiny bottle that costs at least double the price you'd pay in the States. Tonight Dutchy and I decided on Italian for dinner, and I was thrilled to see that they had both "regular" (i.e. tiny) glasses... AND "big" (i.e. "American regular") glasses on the menu. The down-side? I had to pay $7.88 (5,40€) for the privilege of ordering one...
• Parade. Just because I can't get enough of the painted elephants public arts project in Amsterdam...
• Funny. Last night, Dutchy treated us to some comedy DVDs featuring Irish comedian Dara Ó Briain. The guy is hysterically funny, and positively brilliant in his ability to interact with the audience. I had heard of the guy before because he hosts Mock of the Week from British television, but his stand-up was something entirely new to me. I pulled up Amazon so I could order his DVDs for myself... only to find out they aren't available for sale in Region 1. Nor could I buy them on iTunes. This is a load of bollocks. In the age of digital distribution, it's absolutely stupid that I can't buy a copy anywhere in the world. With DVDs I get it... they cost money to make. But a digital file on iTunes? It doesn't cost anything but a short time to convert the video (which has probably already been done for the UK store!). Like music, the concept of global digital distribution is completely lost on the video distributors. Oh well... until I can actually purchase a copy in my country, I guess there's always BitTorrent. How incredibly stupid that, for all our modern technology, idiotic stuff like this continues to happen.
YouTube has some funny bits and pieces from Dara's stand-up, and a good one is here.
And that's all she wrote for a fantastic visit to DutchyLand.
Posted on Monday, October 5th, 2009
"Let me get this straight. You're traveling half-way around the world... for a party?"
Lately I've been reconnecting with some of my former high school classmates on FaceBook. It's been kind of fascinating to me because we've never been close as a group, even though some of the close friendships are still intact. Case in point: our 25-year Class of 1984 reunion fell apart before it ever got started this year. It's sad, but not a big deal to me because I undoubtedly would have been traveling and couldn't go anyway (just like our 10-year). But we all served time together in the public school system so there's a common bond there that can't be broken no matter how hard we try.
So far as I know, only two of my graduating class are blogging. One of them is me. What this means is that I'm pretty easy to track down, even though I'm not so much tied to my "real name" but my "online identity" of Blogography. All it takes is a Google search and there I am. And now that I'm connecting on FaceBook it's even easier to find me because I'm linked to a bunch of former classmates there.
And this is where it gets interesting. Because my blog entries are duplicated on FaceBook as "notes."
It's interesting because my blog is highly superficial, as I don't talk about work, family, relationships, or anything I consider to be "personal." So while people from my past can find me easily enough, they can't really know me online. This is a paradox to be sure, and lately I've been trying to grasp what it must be like for old friends and acquaintances to stumble across my online life.
And let's face it, the online version of my life is pretty bizarre.
To say the very least.
This was driven home last Wednesday when one of my former classmates wrote and said "Let me get this straight. You're traveling half-way around the world for a party?"
Answering this question in the affirmative just raises more questions, namely "You're traveling half-way around the world to stay with random people you met on the internet?!? Are you crazy? And there's no real way to explain that to somebody who isn't involved in a blogger community and still appear sane. Believe me, I've tried.
Though, even if you remove blogging from the equation, it doesn't make much difference in my case. I once flew to Copenhagen for just 9 hours so I could attend a birthday party of a non-blogging friend. I guess I am crazy like that.
At some point you have to stop trying to explain your life and just live it.
I guess I'm there.
Posted on Tuesday, October 6th, 2009
This morning I had still more problems with my DSL. It seems every time I turn around my internet is either busted or unbelievably slow. And, of course, Verizon doesn't give a shit. Oh they put on a good show of wanting to provide good service, but it's all a time-wasting sham. I tried calling this morning and got disconnected. I called again and somehow ended up in the mobile wireless department. After 30 minutes of trying to talk to anybody, I had to give up so I could go to work.
I get home tonight and, SURPRISE, internet is still down. So once again I have to call and, basically, waste an hour of my life with my service provider to get things straightened out... kind of... while paying them for the privilege!
It's things like this that drive me insane when the whole "Net Neutrality" debate rears its ugly head...
Not content to merely overcharge their customers for shitty service, ISPs also want to screw them over by controlling what and how they get to experience the internet...
Net Neutrality opponents consider the very idea an affront to free enterprise. I consider it an essential to maintaining my presence on the internet. Because I complain about most everything here on Blogography, and am sure to have pissed off enough corporations that have the money and/or influence to get my blog dumped in the slow lane or banned altogether.
So no more complaining about important net-influential companies, such as major Internet Service Providers like Verizon.
Posted on Wednesday, October 7th, 2009
I've certainly done my share of stupid things. Surprisingly, not all of them can be blamed on alcohol.
My latest bout with moronic behavior came when I gave a second chance to somebody who didn't deserve it. Extending second chances is highly unusual for me to begin with, but in this case it was particularly idiotic because I knew better. My inner voice was screaming that I was going to get screwed, but I ignored it and let common sense fly out the window. All because I'm trying to be less cynical and dared to hope I was wrong. All because I was counting on being wrong.
But I wasn't wrong.
So I got screwed. They got screwed. Other people got screwed. It was a virtual suck-fest of screwage.
And, technically, it's all my fault for stupidly believing somebody had changed.
When deep down I knew they hadn't...
So now I don't have time to be messing around with a blog because I've got to attempt to repair a situation that is pretty much unrepairable... hoping against hope that I'll be given a second chance for daring to have given a second chance to somebody else.
Glad I'm not the one making that decision.
Posted on Thursday, October 8th, 2009
I'm slowly getting all my negatives and paper photos scanned at ScanCafe, so I've started moving on to pictures from friends and relatives. It's been interesting to see how others view the same people and places when comparing their shots with my own. The last batch of scans I sent included images from my brother from some of the trips we've taken together.
The nice thing about traveling with my brother is that he's a professional photographer and takes some amazing photos. The bad thing about traveling with my brother is that all my photos look like crap by comparison.
Nothing makes me want to hit the road again than looking at pictures from past trips!
Posted on Friday, October 9th, 2009
I really need to get some sleep one of these days.
This morning I finally finished going through the thousands of photo scans waiting to be approved. Most of what remained were pictures from when I was young, and that's always fun. It's interesting to see how so many things in my life haven't changed all that much, even from when I was a baby.
My adventures with toothpaste were not always tragic...
The reason I am terrified of clowns becomes clear once I saw the scary-ass clown doll I was given... DEMON EYES! IT HAS DEMON EYES!! KILL IT! KILLLLLL IIIIIT!
Ride 'em, Tiger...
I don't know why I stopped wearing red suit jackets. They totally work for me...
That's a HUGE package you've got between your legs, Dave...
My what a BIG wick you have between your legs there, Dave...
Wow that's a MASSIVE hose you've got there, Dave...
My obsession with monkeys started at an early age...
Growing up Dave...
And now I need to get working on a very long weekend before I have to fly out again next Tuesday.
Something tells me I am not going to get that sleep any time soon.
Posted on Saturday, October 10th, 2009
To all my gay, lesbian, bi, and transgender friends,
It's not fair.
You are human beings. You are mothers and fathers. You are sons and daughters. You are taxpayers. You are consenting adults just wanting to love who you love, celebrate that love in marriage, and live your life the best way you know how. And you are citizens of The United States of America, a country which is supposed to guarantee such basic rights in the pursuit of happiness.
But it doesn't, and it's not fair.
So you are forced into the position of having to fight for rights that everybody else takes for granted. You aren't asking for anything unique or extraordinary. You aren't demanding something that raises you above others. You just want what everybody else has by birthright in this great nation. You want equality. And while there are those of us with open minds and open hearts who will stand beside you, it's your fight to win.
It will not be an easy battle, however.
Because your opposition is empowered by fear, and everybody knows that a scared opponent is the most dangerous opponent to have.
But take consolation that your opponent is also weak. They are weak of spirit because they feel that anything contrary to their beliefs is a threat to their faith. They are weak in commitment because they think that other people's marriage can be a threat to their marriage. They are weak of heart because they feel that love is conditional on what body parts you have. They are weak of mind because they cannot imagine respectful coexistence with people of different creeds. And they are weak in resolve because they fight knowing full-well that their lofty ideal of "protecting marriage" is a sham as "traditional" marriages keep failing all around them with no help from you.
They may be wealthy, organized, and aggressive... they may exaggerate, lie, and spread fear... but they are also weak.
While you are strong.
And you are many.
And you are not alone.
So this weekend as you come together and march on Washington DC to demonstrate against unfairness in the eyes of the law... know that you are righteous in the eyes of the people. The people in your family. The people who are your friends. The people in your community. And people you don't even know who believe that everyone deserves an equal shot at happiness.
People just like you.
And some people who aren't quite convinced just yet.
And some people who will never be convinced, but need to accept that it's okay for different people to have different beliefs and different ideals so they can fulfill the promise of this country and be happy.
Because that's what America is supposed to be about.
Now go and get your equal rights...
Posted on Sunday, October 11th, 2009
I've misplaced some photo negatives and have spent days trying to find them. All to no avail. They're gone, and I have no clue what happened to them. Needless to say, I'm not in the happiest of moods this Bullet Sunday.
• Translate! For a long, long time I've wanted to provide some kind of translation service on my blog for my non-English reading visitors. But all the options I've found have been kind of cheesy, and didn't work very well. Until now. The lovely people at Google have come up with a brilliant "overlay gadget" that can translate a page into dozens of languages easily. I've added it to my sidebar and it's pretty sweet. If you're interested in adding it to your own site, you can grab the code here.
• Obama! I am sharing a WTF?!? moment with people around the globe now that President Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize. I think it's laughable considering that Obama hasn't really done anything to deserve it and, like many people, feel that it was awarded based not on deed but on intent. Or maybe it was awarded solely for entertainment value. The Nobel Council could have felt that giving Obama the prize would completely freak out Right-Wing America (it's just so easy now-a-days), and wanted a good laugh at their expense. Naturally, total dumbass douchebags like Rush Limbaugh are so fucking stupid that they took the bait hook, line, and sinker... but, much to my shock, one of the more radical Conservatives was smarter about it...
Now, I hate Bill O'Reilly with the fiery passion of a thousand suns... he is an opportunist douchebag who exaggerates, lies, and gleefully divides this nation (all while professing to love it) on a daily basis. He's inflammatory and destructive for no other reason but to keep people angry so he can make a lot of money. I find O'Reilly reprehensible in a way I find ALL political extremists reprehensible... on both the Right and the Left. But, for reasons I cannot fathom, O'Reilly took the high road this time and is basically saying "I don't agree that President Obama deserves this award, but having a US President honored with a peace prize is good for America."
Seriously, I couldn't have said it better myself.
Because I am tired of the Extreme Right's constant need for Obama to fail. They would rather see this country go down in flames than for Obama to gain even the smallest amount of political ground. Case in point: The Olympics. When Chicago lost it's bid to host the games, the Extreme Right was nearly orgasmic with joy because Obama had been promoting his home city. They saw it as a "major loss" for Obama, and were celebrating his "failure." Which is about the most astoundingly fucking stupid thing I've ever heard. Obama didn't lose anything... he's still the president. It's not like he got his salary cut because Brazil won the prize. It was Chicago that lost. Illinois lost. America lost. Jobs were lost. We all lost. But the Neocons don't care about any of that, they'd rather Chicago explode than for anything even remotely associated with President Obama to win anything.
To say I don't understand this kind of self-defeating schadenfreude thinking is putting it mildly. Even though I despised President Bush's policies, I never once wished for him to fail (well, except for his second-term election). When he invaded Iraq, it's not like I was thinking "I hope he fails in Iraq!" On the contrary, even though I vehemently disagreed with the war and felt it would be a total failure, I wished Bush nothing but success for the sake of our troops and our country. I felt the same way about Hurricane Katrina. It's not like I was happy Bush's administration was so pathetically incompetent in dealing with the situation... I was mortified. I would have been much, much happier had Bush's people handled the situation so well that the entire country was rallying to congratulate the President on a job well done. Regardless of who is in office, I want these United States of America to do well because I am an American and this is my country.
But, alas, this kind of rational thought here in the USA seems to be over. For eight long years I had hard-core Conservatives telling me that I should "love it or leave it" when I disagreed with President Bush. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, these same people can't take their own advice. Now they consider it "patriotic" not only to disagree with President Obama, but to hope and pray that he fails in everything he does (then laugh their asses off when they perceive even a hint failure on his part). "United we stand, divided we fall" is no longer a rallying cry to seek commonality amongst diversity... it's become a sad harbinger of the future of this nation. We are indeed falling, and I can only hope that we come to our senses before we hit bottom. Watching Bill O'Reilly have a moment of sanity gives me hope.
• Kitty! My adventures with Kitty Spangles Solitaire are well-documented. It's the best solitaire game for the Mac, which is why I was intrigued when Swoop Software announced Kitty Spangles Sudoku. I'm not much of a Sudoku fan, but have to admit they've done a pretty good job of making it work...
If you've got a Mac and like Sudoku, you can download a demo directly from Swoop!
Blargh. I should probably try and get some sleep tonight since I have a very long day tomorrow...
Posted on Monday, October 12th, 2009
Ever been so overwhelmed and full of dread at the thought of facing another day that you secretly hope the earth explodes while you sleep so you don't have to?
Yeah, that's pretty much me tonight.
Just look at it... our small blue world... so fragile... hanging in space there... waiting...
Posted on Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
So there I was, walking through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport feeling quite satisfied after a date with a Qdoba Veggie Burrito when I heard "DAVE!" being shouted out.
Now, I am not so vain as to immediately think that every time I hear my name it's somebody is calling for me. The odds, after all, are pretty remote given that "Dave" is a fairly popular name. Perhaps if my name were "Heinrich" or "Flavious" I'd be more confident but, alas, I almost never assume somebody is calling me when I'm away from places I'm known.
Like a big airport, for example.
But it turns out that I was the Dave in question this time because it was Brandon and Death? from Down With Pants! It was an almost surreal experience given that I've tried to meet up with Brandon for years and had a couple of near misses from past travels... twice in L.A. and another couple times in Seattle. But it was also a nice way to spend an airport layover.
Happy coincidences like this happen more often than you'd expect. Running into fellow blogger Timothy at the Apple Store in New York, for example, was pretty freaky-cool. And I've been recognized a couple of other times in airports too... mostly thanks to the Blogography T-Shirts I'm usually wearing. Such is the power of blogging, I guess.
Anyway, it has been a very long day and I have to get up early in the morning, so the remainder of tonight's entertainment will be provided by Ashton, a young kid who was a fellow passenger on my flight. Ashton likes to talk. A lot. And at very high volume, non-stop. Fortunately I had an iPhone full of videos to watch, but was privy to his antics as we landed in San Diego which went something like this...
ASHTON: I see lights outside there are a lot of lights outside and they are different colors and there are lights out there I have to go potty.
MOM: You can't go potty now, they've locked the doors while we land.
ASHTON: I have to go potty I have to go potty I HAVE TO GO POTTY REALLY BAD!
MOM: I'm sorry, but you'll just have to hold it.
ASHTON: I HAVE TO GO POTTY REALLY BAD I have to go potty and if I don't go I'm going to pee my pants I'M GOING TO PEE MY PANTS I'M GOING TO PEE MY PANTS!!
MOM: It's only a few minutes. You can hold it until we land.
ASHTON: I CAN'T HOLD IT I'M GOING TO PEE MY PANTS there are lights outside and they are getting brighter hey we're going down now and the plane is going down down down to the airport going down. [ INSERT MORE NONSENSICAL RAMBLING HERE UNTIL WE LAND AND THE SEATBELT LIGHT GOES OFF ]
[ ASHTON MAKES A BREAK FOR THE BACK OF THE PLANE ]
MOM: Ashton! Wait! Come back! You're not going to get into the potty!
DAVE2: Oh I think they'll be glad to let him in given the alternative.
[ ASHTON DOES HIS BUSINESS AND RETURNS ]
ASHTON: HAH! I found a potty that wasn't locked because you can tell they're locked when the handle was down but the handle wasn't down on one of them so I tried to open it and the door opened because they forgot to lock it and the handled was up so I got in and could use the potty and they forgot to lock it so I got in and I didn't have to pee my pants because I tried the one with the handle that wasn't down and it opened are we getting off the plane now people are moving and we're leaving the plane and I didn't even get to listen to all of my book but that's okay because I can listen to it later and... [ ASHTON FADES AWAY AS I RUN TOWARDS THE AIRPORT EXIT ]
Some children really should come with off-switches, and I have a profound respect for Ashton's parents that they manage to get through life without one. Hopefully he does sleep from time to time, though he never seems to run out of things to say, so maybe not.
And now it's time for sweet slumber so I can get up entirely too early in the morning.
Posted on Wednesday, October 14th, 2009
Last night was a tragic turn of events when I couldn't get any sleep. At all.
It seemed as though every fifteen minutes there was an ice emergency going on at the ice machine outside my hotel room. I can only guess that somebody is making the world's largest frozen margarita... or they're trying to keep a dead body from decomposing while they made plans to flee the country (don't you just hate it when the crack-whore you hire for the evening's entertainment goes and dies of an overdose while you're in the shower?).
Oh well. Who really needs sleep anyway?
I did have an absolutely beautiful morning view of the marina from my balcony though. I went to grab my Canon pocket camera so I could capture the moment, and was pretty upset when I discovered that I forgot to slip it into my backpack for the trip. I then decided to see just how bad a job the crappy camera on my iPhone would do, and somehow managed this...
Not bad. Every once in a while iPhone takes pictures like a real camera, and it always takes me by surprise.
From there it was work in San Diego followed by a ride to more work up in Orange County. The weather forecast was dire, but other than a few rain sprinkles, it wasn't the armageddon-level event the television meteorologist warned about.
After work I was lucky enough to hook up with Ninja & Bombshell for dinner and kråpflaarg in Irvine, and got to meet the latest addition to their family. It seems like only yesterday they got married, and here they are with an 8-week-old baby!
As expected, a fun time was had by all, and dinner at The Veggie Grill was fantastic. There were quite a few birds entertaining us by goofing off and scavenging around our table. One bird in particular caught our attention because he appeared to only have one leg. But every once in a while he would drop his other leg and go hopping around. Eventually we figured out he had a foot that was deformed, and figured it must have been easier for him to just tuck it up rather than try to stand on it. Tonight as I was looking through my iPhone photos, I zoomed in and noticed his "good foot" was also looking a bit deformed...
What a trooper! He didn't seem to be malnourished or anything. He just had a little tougher time getting around than other birds, but had found a way to adapt to the situation just fine. Yet another example of nature inspiring us to cope with adversity in our lives.
And thus ends my adventure in SoCal. A big thanks to Ninja and Bombshell for the 150 miles they drove in order to hang out with me today. I am totally not worth that kind of trouble, but was happy to meet up again after two years!
Really, really hoping that my journey home tomorrow is incident-free...
Posted on Thursday, October 15th, 2009
Never underestimate the power of the media to escalate sensationalistic news to absurd heights.
Or the internet to take it even higher.
Posted on Friday, October 16th, 2009
The flight home from Los Angeles yesterday was awful.
I know I say that a lot, but usually I'm exaggerating. A little. This time I am not exaggerating at all. The sights. The sounds. THE SMELLS! Not to mention the crazy-ass bitch next to me who did not comprehend the concept of "personal space." It all added up to an epic disaster in travel history that I'm trying to forget.
Until I realize that things could always have been worse.
Which is why I simply MUST get my new airline started. It's the only way I can guarantee that all my flight experiences will be pleasant ones...
Except starting up an airline would require billions of dollars.
I don't have billions of dollars.
Which means I've had to go this route instead...
It's almost as good.
Assuming I only want to travel from one side of my living room to the other.
Which means I've had to come up with alternate travel plans for my flight to Florida tomorrow.
Darn it anyway.
Posted on Saturday, October 17th, 2009
There are definitely worse ways to spend a week.
Posted on Sunday, October 18th, 2009
It's Bullet Sunday from sunny Orlando, Florida!
• Jinkies! Hilly's new cat, Jinkies, is really amazing. She's friendly, personable, independent, fun, and a little bit crazy... all the qualities you want in a kitteh. Except when you are trying to blog, in which case you want the exact opposite qualities. No matter what I did or where I moved my laptop, Jinkies made a point of going there to join me...
And ten minutes later...
And fifteen minutes after that...
Even trying to dump her off the keyboard fifteen minutes after that resulted in Jinks hanging on for dear life...
Longest. Time. To. Write. A. Blog. Post. Ever.
• Whore! You know when you're on an airplane? And you know that space against the wall next to the windows? That gap above your arm rest like this...
As I was sitting in my seat after takeoff yesterday, I felt something nudge my arm. Looking down, I saw that the woman behind me HAD PUT HER FEET THROUGH THE GAP AND SET THEM ON MY ARMREST!! What the hell? How big a bitch do you have to be to put your stinky feet on SOMEBODY ELSE'S ARMREST? Seriously? I was scared to even look at what freaky shit the whore might be doing back there, so I decided to take immediate action. My first instinct was to grab my metal brick of a MacBook Pro and smash her fucking feet so hard that I broke every bone inside. But I really don't need any incidents on my TSA Permanent Record, so I decided to use a magazine and gently nudge her feet off my seat instead. And it worked. For about an hour. Then they were back. So I ended up rolling up my jacket and stuffing it in the gap. That worked for about another hour until she weasled her feet under my jacket. Finally I jammed my elbow back there and left it so she couldn't invade my space again. She ended up sticking her feet in her window well above my head instead. Yes, I know... I have terrible luck with travel. But WTF?!?
• Sunset! I also have pretty good luck when I travel. The view out my window at sunset was pretty amazing. And pink...
• Nuts! In what seems to be a growing trend amongst airlines, I was served warmed nuts after takeoff. First with Northwest, then with Delta, and now with Alaska Airlines...
At first I thought it was just a novelty, but now I'm kind of used to it. Even worse, the airlines have spoiled me, and now I'm going to have to go buy me a nut-warmer appliance of some kind. Once you've had your nuts warmed, you really don't want to serve them any other way.
• Dive! In other airplane-type news... I was going through my last batch of negative scans when I ran across photos from my very first skydiving adventure. In the first shot, I'm in the plane on the way up and looking like I'm regretting the idea of it all (but am actually just making sure my contact lenses are lubed up). The second is a shot of me on the way down that my friend took. I haven't jumped out of a plane in over a decade now, and am kind of missing it...
Yep, jumping out of a plane sounds pretty good! ESPECIALLY WHEN SOME BITCH IS STICKING HER SKANKY FEET ON MY ARMREST!!
• Twittered! I'm really liking Tweetie 2.0 for iPhone, and one of my favorite features is the "Near Me" view where you can see Twitterers in your area on a map...
Pretty slick! At the airport it's particularly cool because you can listen to OTHER people bitch about THEIR travel problems!
And now it's time to kick back and watch some television. Tomorrow is a big day...
Posted on Monday, October 19th, 2009
Today Hilly-Sue and I went to Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. It was a lot of fun.
And what adventures will tomorrow bring?
Posted on Tuesday, October 20th, 2009
Today Hilly-Sue and I went to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. It was a lot of fun.
And now, breaking back into reality for a minute... this video is from Maine, but its message applies equally well to my fellow Washington State voters...
It still boggles my mind that I am afforded rights in this country that some of my friends are not. It is even more inexplicable how in the year 2009 there could ever be legislation in place to take even more of their rights away. These are people... people... the same as everybody else who are just trying to make their way through life the best way they know how, find happiness where they can, and enjoy the freedoms this country is supposed to be about. Nobody has the right to tell two consenting adults that their relationship is any less valid or special than anybody else's, no matter what they believe. It's unfair. It's un-American. It's inhuman.
Posted on Wednesday, October 21st, 2009
Today Hilly-Sue and I went to Walt Disney World's Epcot and World Showcase. It was a lot of fun.
And lastly... if only I had $32 burning a hole in my pocket to buy this vintage "Original Mickey" T-Shirt, which I find to be very cool...
Thus ends our three days in The Happiest Place On Earth: East Coast Edition.
Posted on Thursday, October 22nd, 2009
Today Robyn and I went to Sea World. It was a lot of fun.
EXCEPT when we went on the "Atlantis" ride...
We ended up so frickin' wet that you'd have thought we jumped in a swimming pool. There was not a dry spot on me, and I was thoroughly soaked from head to toe. Getting a little wet on rides like "Splash Mountain" at Disneyland is fun. Getting so drenched that your shoes are filled with water and you're miserable for the rest of the day is not fun. Sea World needs to seriously consider revamping this ride to make it less soaktacular. Oh well, the only thing we could do was laugh about it all, so we did...
Another day gone by too soon...
Posted on Friday, October 23rd, 2009
Discovery Cove is a different kind of theme park. It's an interactive experience with sea creatures (and birds) that has strict visitor count limits to insure everybody has an opportunity to do all the stuff they have available without being crowded out of anything. Because of this, you can't just "show up" and expect to get a ticket... you have to make a reservation in advance. And while it is quite expensive, it's also all-inclusive, so your food, wet-suit, and snorkel gear are all included (photo/video packages and souvenirs are extra).
Just as you'd expect from the people at Sea World, Discovery Cove is beautifully appointed and immaculately maintained. A lot of thought went into exactly how everything would work, and there is a massive work-staff to make sure visitors are safe and well cared for. The food was all very good, with plenty of choices and some vegetarian options.
The first thing you do is get either a swim vest or wetsuit, snorkel gear, and some special waterproof sun-block that won't hurt the animals (but turns your hair and eyebrows blue-gray so everybody looks like an alien)...
Then you can explore all the different areas for swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing...
My favorite creatures at the park are the graceful and gentle rays, which are happy to glide right by you so you can walk up and pet them...
But there are plenty of fish to swim with and look at too...
The on-site aviary is cool, allowing you to get all up-close and personal with some feathered friends...
Me looking vaguely alien-like with that blue-gray sun-block.
But the biggest "claim-to-fame" activity of Discovery Cove is being able to arrange a personal dolphin visit and swim-along...
I won't spoil it for Robyn and Rachel by posting their photos, but I will show them kissing a dolphin so everybody knows that I didn't go around randomly kissing animals at the park... it's part of the program!
I am lucky enough to have previously visited Discovery Cove as they were just opening. It was a little more chaotic back then, but now everything has kind of settled down and operates like a well-oiled machine. I do feel that the park gets a little crowded in parts from time to time, but it's never seemed so overwhelming that you can't do something when you want to. And even though it's pretty expensive ($255 with tax), I also think it's a good value for the money given its all-inclusive nature and the unique experiences they offer (even more so when you consider you get unlimited 2-week admission to Sea World included in the package).
The only place where I'm torn is the idea of using living creatures as entertainment. On one hand, Sea World goes to painstaking lengths to ensure the health and safety of their animals, and they are better cared for and live longer than they would be in the wild. Staff is also quick to point out that all performance by the dolphins is strictly voluntary, and if a dolphin didn't feel like doing something they could swim away at any time. Most of the creatures are also bred in captivity, so the life they have is all they know. Others are rescued from situations where they would have died, so Sea World is giving them a new lease on life. On the surface (so to speak) it seems an idyllic life for an animal.
On the other hand, they're not free. Dolphins are highly intelligent, curious, and social creatures who need a much bigger world to live in than some fish tank at Sea World. I hesitate to apply human emotional states to them (hey, who knows?) but it seems difficult to imagine that they could be as "happy" in captivity as they could be in the wild. Sure they could swim away if they wanted to... but just to the other side of the tank. It's not as if they can swim out into the ocean (where they wouldn't be able to care for themselves even if they could). And while performing is optional, all those tasty fish they get for learning tricks and getting kissed by tourists seem to be a hard thing to pass up when there's not much else for them to do.
I can only hope that by being able to visit with these fascinating creatures up-close-and-personal in captivity, people will have more of an interest in preserving them in the wild. Maintaing our human lifestyles takes a massive toll on the environment, and habitats for the animal population are quickly becoming toxic cesspools incapable of sustaining life. If getting people to start caring for wildlife is a consequence of places like Discovery Cove, then maybe the sacrifice animals make by being trapped there is worth it.
In any event, if you can afford the steep price of admission and you're in the Orlando area, Discovery Cove is highly recommended.
Posted on Saturday, October 24th, 2009
Your beloved King and Queen of the People's Republic of Blogistan made an appearance at Avitaween tonight...
Thanks to The Avitables for yet another genius Halloween party extravaganza!
Posted on Sunday, October 25th, 2009
Or, probably more like "Bullet Monday" since I refuse to pay the outrageous fees that some airports charge for internet access so I can post this on time.
• Why I love Avitaween: Reason #87. It may sound insane to fly across the country for a Halloween Party, but if you've ever experienced Halloween with The Avitables, you'd know it's actually one of the easiest decisions I can make. It's more of an event than a party, and the work that goes into making it so special is positively mind-boggling. My camera battery died, so I don't have any photos myself, but there are plenty showing up on the Avitaween Flickr Group. Thanks so much to Adam & Amy for yet another fantastic evening, and I'm already looking forward to next year!
• Why I love pussy: Reason #1240 This past week staying at Casa de Hilly, I had grown accustomed to her cat being anywhere and everywhere I go. Brushing my teeth? Pussy in the sink. Going to bed? Pussy on the pillow. Writing in my blog? Pussy on my laptop. Any time we were home, Jinkies was a constant presence...
Pussy in the Bed...
Pussy on the Computer...
Pussy in the Sink...
Pussy Attacking Under the Door...
Now that I'm home and pussy-free, I admit that it's a little bit depressing to not have that kind of constant attention. One of these days I guess I need to get a pussy of my own.
• Why I loathe John McCain: Reason #2368. It is no secret that I despise John McCain on every possible level. Most of it has to do with his betrayal of POW/MIAs (as I documented in a previous entry), but there is a laundry list of other reasons I wish he would disappear off the face of the earth... not one of them having to do with his political affiliation (as I've said before, I did vote for some Republicans in the last election, mostly on local races). Every single day I'm eternally grateful such a raging asshole never became President of The United States of America. Any disappointments I've had over President Obama's broken promises and meandering around on the issues that got him elected are immediately offset when I think of how fucked this country would be if McCain got elected. And now there's yet another reason... he is so busy suckling from the teat of the Telecom Lobby that even National Security falls by the wayside. I will be the first to admit this conclusion is a bit of a stretch, but it does make a valid point of showing how McCain is more than happy to speak out on issues he knows absolutely nothing about... so long as the money is right. Just politics as usual in the USA, I guess.
• Why I am nearing a breakdown: Reason #642346 After three flights and a car-drive home, I'll have just over eight hours to work, sleep, eat, and re-pack before heading back to the airport for a flight returning me to the East Coast. It sounds bad, but I've had much worse. The problem is that the weather is starting to change, which makes flying a hit-and-miss game of "will they or won't they cancel my flight?" The weather forecast is calling for SNOW back home starting next week, which is an added level of travel horror I'm not really ready to deal with just yet. It seems like only yesterday that a quick 3-day trip turned into an 8-day adventure when snow caused the airports to shut down (but it was actually last December). Fun. Fun. Fun.
And thus ends another travel edition of Bullet Sunday, this time written from somewhere over North Dakota (I think).
Posted on Monday, October 26th, 2009
If there are no objections, I think I'll skip blogging tonight. I've been traveling all day and really need to get some sleep.
Good night everybody!
Posted on Tuesday, October 27th, 2009
Ooh! It's a day in the life of Dave2!
Last night I arrived at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport around 11:30pm. I was exhausted from traveling for over 12 hours, and was in no mood to mess with a car rental, but since I had to drive out at 6:00am I didn't have much choice. After getting my stall number from the Hertz #1 Club Gold board, I made my way to the car, tossed my crap in the back, sat down, grabbed the keys, went to start the ignition... and noticed my "keys" were not keys at all. They were some kind of magical transmitter that communicated with the car. Turns out I had been given a Nissan Altima Hybrid, and all I needed to do was have the "keys" inside the car and press the "start" button...
Photo taken from a nice review at About.com.
From there it was only a short drive to the Aloft Hotel at Arundel Mills.
SIDE NOTE: I love, love, love Aloft Hotels. I'm usually a Hilton Whore, but any time I find an Aloft where I'm staying, it is my absolute first choice. Very nice rooms at very nice prices, and service that is second to none. This is the fifth Aloft city I've stayed at, and I have nothing but raves for the chain. If I were to build my dream hotel, it would be an Aloft. Highest possible recommendation.
This morning after waking up, getting showered & dressed, and heading to my car... I noticed it was pitch black and raining... hard. Not the best conditions for a two hour drive into Pennsylvania, but I've had worse. Until it started raining even harder and I could barely see the road. Accidents were everywhere, and the extra hour and fifteen minutes I had added "just in case" was gone before I knew it. I barely arrived to my meeting on time.
Fortunately, the return drive to BWI was much easier. I got back around 1:30, worked for two hours at the hotel, then drove back to the airport so I could drop off the Nissan Altima Hybrid (which I ended up liking a lot!). From there... I decided to hop a train down to Washington, D.C. for dinner in the rain. All my photos are from the crummy camera in my iPhone, so you've been warned...
The White House. I thought for sure President Obama would have come out to say hello, but he didn't. Maybe he wasn't home?
The Washington Monument. I love this photo, and titled it "Monumental Construction" when I uploaded it to Flickr.
The J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building. Conveniently located across the street from the Hard Rock Cafe.
The Hard Rock Cafe Washington, D.C. Kind of boring on the outside, but vintage Hard Rock on the inside!
The Embassy of Rock. A very nice dual-level Hard Rock property with plenty of nifty memorabilia.
After dinner, I hopped a train back to the airport. But along the way I somehow decided that I should continue on into Baltimore since it was only 8:00. Fortunately, the conductor was able to upgrade my ticket onboard, and away I went...
Tired of Pants? This is the first thing I see when I arrive at Baltimore's Penn Station. My kind of city!
Klaatu Barada Nikto? The first thing you see when exiting Penn Station is a freaky giant aluminum statue called "Male/Female."
Hard Rock Cafe Baltimore. My iPhone obviously does not do well in the dark.
Inside the HRC Baltimore. Yet another classic, beautiful, memorabilia-packed Hard Rock property.
Guardrails?!? Every time I'm in Baltimore, I'm shocked as hell that there are NO GUARDRAILS at the waterfront! What keeps drunks from falling in? Or kids from goofing off and being pushed in? It's just mind-boggling that nobody has been sued over this yet.
I had thought I was in Baltimore just a couple years ago, but I can't find any record of it on my blog. Maybe I wasn't able to blog about the trip? I dunno. The last time I can verify that I was here was six years ago on a layover to Reykjavik, Iceland. I know I wasn't here in May of this year, because the Baltimore Sun News Building is still standing.
Anyway... I was too tired to track down a light-rail train back to BWI and arrange for a shuttle, so I just bit the bullet and paid the $35 to take a taxi back to my hotel. I still had a couple hours work to get done, so any time saved would be worth the cost.
And that was pretty much my day today. Now it's time to get some sleep.
Posted on Wednesday, October 28th, 2009
As I sit here at Detroit Metro International Airport for the third time in four days, all I can think of is escape. From this airport I could go just about anywhere on earth because it's a major hub for Northwest/Delta. And as I walk by gate after gate displaying exotic (and not-so-exotic) destinations, it occurs to me just how easily I could walk up to an agent, have my ticket changed, and be on my way to parts unknown. Preferably someplace without mobile phones and internet. I've been a lot of places around this world, but there are still hundreds of destinations awaiting me, and right now all I want to do is pick one.
Alas, irresponsibility doesn't seem to be in my genetic make-up.
Or is it?
If you don't hear from me ever again, now you'll know why.
Posted on Thursday, October 29th, 2009
When I went out to my car this morning, it was snowing. I want my summer back!
Time for a nice sunny orange...
Nothing brings back a warm summer day like a ripe, juicy orange.
Posted on Friday, October 30th, 2009
Apparently, there's legislation underfoot that will force bloggers to write a disclaimer when they're being paid to write about stuff. It has something to do with FTC guidelines governing endorsements, which is kind of silly if you ask me. Honest bloggers are going to disclose that kind of stuff anyway... dishonest bloggers are going to lie regardless of any guidelines they're handed.
So, in the interest of full disclosure, I am going to be reviewing a book I was given by a fellow blogger. He did not ask me to review his book, he just asked me if I'd like to read it. I said yes. And I'm going to review it because I liked it... not because I got it for free. If I didn't like it, I would have undoubtedly not reviewed it. Not because I felt I was under any obligation for getting a free book... but because there just wouldn't be much point in it. Of course, if the book was a steaming pile of crap, I would have been obligated to warn everybody to stay away and not to waste their time. I'm a decent human being that way.
Anyway... here's a look at Mercury Falls, the debut novel by Rob Kroese, who is probably better known as "Diesel" from Mattress Police...
I was prepared to hate Mercury Falls, mostly because the official web site had it positioned as being in the vein of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which is one of my favorite novels of all time. You simply do not go setting yourself next to a giant like Douglas Adams and walk away unscathed. It's just not done. I don't care how funny you think you are, such a statement only serves to set the reader up for disappointment.
"Mr. Kroese... I have met Douglas Adams (twice!), and you sir are no Douglas Adams."
I enjoyed this novel.
The story sounds as if it might be a mash-up between Kevin Smith's film Dogma and Douglas Adams' Infocom Game Bureaucracy, but actually has a unique voice all its own. Basically, the end of the world is upon us (for real this time), and the bureaucrats of heaven and hell are each maneuvering to come out on top. The Apocalypse only gets more complicated when a fallen angel (Mercury), an End-Of-Days reporter (Christine Temetri), and the newly-appointed Antichrist (Karl Grissom) enter the picture. Everybody has an agenda, and nobody is quite sure who's playing the side of the angels... or demons... as the plot to save the world unfolds. Hilarity ensues.
I found Mercury Falls to be really clever, with an abundance of witty dialogue and enough twists to keep things interesting right up to the last page. Chunks of the book are very funny, as one paragraph after another was dripping with a biting humor that seems unsustainable, but Kroese somehow manages to keep going. Things do bog down a bit when somebody gets mired in explaining the bureaucracy of heaven and hell, but never in such a way to kill the story. I particularly liked the characters, each being fully-realized with enough baggage and personality to make them memorable (after meeting Karl, you'll never think of the Antichrist the same way again, that's for sure!).
The novel is infused with numerous pop-culture references and an inexplicable affinity for linoleum that drives a lot of the story's humor. This would usually spell disaster because the plot gets shoved aside to make room for jokes, but everything seemed nicely balanced and just kind of "worked." By the time the "Four Attaché Cases of the Apocalypse" debuted, there was no turning back. I was completely absorbed in the world of Mercury Falls and admired the way new elements were constantly being added to keep things fresh. A pleasant change from authors who blow their best material in the first three chapters and then coast to the finish line.
My only real problem with the book is the cover art. First of all, the cover barely has relevance to the story. The two famous cherubs taken from Raphael's master work Sistine Madonna are cute, and there are cherubs in the tale... but they do nothing to communicate the story's main plot (the Apocalypse) or nature of the work (humorous). This is a darn shame, because the story deserves so much more than yet another recycling of artwork that has been so overused as to become generic (and has probably been printed on everything from condoms to toilet paper). Sadly, it's so overused that most people don't even realize that it's not even a painting, but a small piece of a painting...
But hey, if you're not being backed by a big publisher that can afford to commission custom artwork, there are certainly worse public domain images you could use, so it's hard to fault the artwork too much (though giving a liner credit to Raphael for his art would have been nice). At least it's beautiful to look at, even if it doesn't really tell potential customers what the story is about.
Sadly, I can't be so forgiving for the cover's letter kerning, which is pretty bad (though not the worst I've seen). Why in the hell people putting book covers together can't take five minutes to adjust letter-spacing so it looks decent is beyond me. Even if it was bad kerning, I'd be okay with it... so long as it was consistent. The "A" and "L" in "FALLS" are jammed together, for example, but "M" and "E" in "MERCURY" (which share similar exterior letterforms) are given breathing room. The spine's lettering is heinously fucked, with a surprise typeface change and such inconsistent kerning that one has to wonder if the designer was trying to spell things out phonetically. Written by
Maybe if I continue to bitch about stuff like this each time I review a book, people will start paying attention so anal retentive designers such as myself can shop at a book store without wanting to bash their heads against a wall.
Cover complaints aside, it would be easy to say that Mercury Falls is a "good first effort" for Rob Kroese... but it would also be inadequate. This would be a great read even if it was his tenth book. I enjoyed the story from start to finish and am happy to recommend it to anybody who enjoys humorous fiction.
Or is bored and looking for something fun to read.
Congratulations, Rob... I am anxiously awaiting your next book!
You can buy a copy in a myriad of formats by following the links at the official Mercury Falls website.
UPDATE: Well lookey what we have here... Mercury Falls was picked up by Amazon's independent publishing arm, AmazonEncore. The cover features 270% better kerning and now has an illustration kinda related to the story!
Well played, Mr. Kroese. Well played.
Posted on Saturday, October 31st, 2009
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