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Day 09 – Daintree Rainforest

Posted on Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Dave!While trying to fall asleep as American tourists were fighting on the balcony below mine last night, it suddenly occurred to me that I have no idea what's going on back in the USA. I haven't once bothered to look at a news site, glance at a paper, or watch TV news since I got here. For all I know, President Obama resigned after declaring war on Canada, and Lindsay Lohan did her patriotic duty by stepping up to run the country after staging a military coup where she firebombed Montreal*.

I'll bet Seattle never gets a Tim Hortons' now. Thanks a lot, President Lohan.

Anyway...

I had just three goals here in Cairns.

  1. Visit with my friends.
  2. Dive The Great Barrier Reef.
  3. Visit the Daintree Rainforest**.

There are quite a few ways to visit the rainforest. Most involve tours, and I really, really hate tours. I also really hate renting a car, getting lost, and driving into a crocodile den where I get eaten as an appetizer. So I decided to split the difference by ignoring my fear of heights and taking the "Skyrail Buckets of Death" up over Daintree...

Skyrail Buckets of Death!
The controlled-burn fires in the area really smoke up the horizon.

Skyrail is (of course) the longest tram line system in the world. Which means the terror never seems to end. Indeed, you can't even see the end of the damn thing from high up in the buckets...

Skyrail Buckets of Death!
WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIIIIEEE!

Along the way there are stops you can take to see the local sights. Like Barron Falls...

Barron Falls East View
Apparently during monsoon season the falls overflow and is quite an impressive sight.

But the main attraction once you reach the end of Skyrail is the village of Kuranda. There's all sorts of stuff to see and do here with plenty of eateries and shops to keep you busy. I was told more than once that the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary was worth a stop. I thought it was included in my Skyrail ticket cost, but that's not the case... it costs $18 AUD to get in. EIGHTEEN DOLLARS! I very nearly skipped it, but had four hours to kill, so I bought a ticket. And wow, was I ever glad I did...

Barron Falls East View
Some of their wings were so raggedy that I was surprised they could fly at all. Poor butterflies.

After lunch I got a little bored with Kuranda and headed back to the train station for my trip back to Cairns.

And so there I was waiting to board the train back to Cairns when I hear this shrieking coming down the stairs. It's a woman dragging her offspring down the steps to the station. The little hellion is obviously not hurt, he's just being a little brat. But that doesn't stop a woman on the platform next to me from saying "Oh, the poor dear, I wonder what's wrong?" Whereas my first instinct is to douse the little shit in holy water and scream "THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU! THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!" in an attempt to perform an exorcism. On the brighter side, the station is pretty nice...

Kuranda Rail Logo
Established 1891... and still going strong.

Kuranda Rail Station
Probably the best-maintained rail station I have ever seen, which is very cool.

Kuranda Rail Engine
I think that's a representation of the giant snake that the Aboriginal people believe carved out Barron Canyon?

I paid extra money (too much money, probably) for the "gold service" which allows you to sit in the luxury compartment with free drinks, free snacks, and a souvenir gift (a pin and a pen). The car itself was quite beautiful, and very probably close to 100 years old...

Kuranda Rail Gold Car
The chairs are probably new, but the interior is carved wood. They don't make 'em like that any more.

The train ride down is pretty special. Most of the time you're clinging to the side of a cliff where the onboard entertainment system beguiles you with awesome facts like "This section of the railway was the most difficult to build because the rock kept crumbling away." Not exactly something you want to hear, which is why I wanted to scream "HOLY CRAP! WHY ARE YOU TELLING US THIS NOW?!? But I just gritted my teeth and enjoyed the views...

Barron Canyon Overlook
The train makes a quick stop so everybody can look down Barron Canyon... from the West this time.
In all honesty, this photo doesn't do it justice. This canyon is SUPER MASSIVELY HUGE!

Stoney Creek Falls
Stoney Creek Falls, which seems like it's at the half-way point to Freshwater Station.

Stoney Creek Falls Train Bridge
The bridge over Stoney Creek Falls on the opposite side of the train.

Once I got to Freshwater Station, my Skyrail ticket included a transfer back to my hotel via bus, which was nice. Now I'm hungry, but don't dare risk a dining experience as crappy as my "nachos" last night here at the hotel. Since I have an early, early, early flight, I guess I'll just go hungry.

And dream of Tim Hortons doughnuts.

   

*And don't think that they didn't have it coming. Lindsay Lohan may spend most of her time drunk off her ass in a cocaine-fueled frenzy, but she knows the strategic importance of a first-strike scenario where the French-Canadians are concerned.

**Okay, I'll admit that visiting the Daintree Rainforest was not actually on my list of goals. But you can't fly after diving for at least 24 hours, so I had to do something.

   

Day 10 – Cairns

Posted on Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

Dave!I have ranted endlessly over how stupid Daylight Saving Time is. In this modern age of electricity and fanciful inventions LIKE THE FUCKING LIGHT BULB, there is no reason to be docking around with the clocks. Just split the difference, have everybody move forward by a half-hour one final time, then leave the clocks the hell alone.

Never was the dumbassness of stupid Daylight Saving Time made more clear to me than this morning when my iPhone woke me up at 3:30am so I could get ready for my taxi to the airport at 4:15am. Except when I got down to the reception desk to settle my account, they were all confused because it was only 3:15am. Why was I an hour early?

Well here's why... in their infinite wisdom, Queensland, the state where Cairns is located... does not practice Daylight Saving Time. Bravo for them. Well done. Except New South Wales, where apparently my iPhone is getting its time data, does observe stupid Daylight Saving Time, which went into effect at 2:00am this morning...

Australia Time Zone Mess
Maps taken from Wikipedia, where you can read about the whole damn tragedy

   
And I thought the USA was a mess.

The upshot of all this is that I lost an hour's sleep for nothing.

And the best part of all? I get to go through all this bullshit yet again when I get home. Because stupid Daylight Saving Time in the USA ends November 6th and stupid Washington State still practices stupid Daylight Saving Time... unlike more enlightened states like Hawaii and Arizona.

When I am Supreme Ruler of the Known Universe, stupid Daylight Saving Time is the first thing to go.*

   

*After the entire cast of Jersey Shore, obviously.

   

Day 10 – Gold Coast

Posted on Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

Dave!After finally making it to my flight out of Cairns, I landed in Brisbane two hours later. From there it was a 35 minute ride to my hotel, followed by another hour and 10 minutes on a train, followed by yet another 30 minutes on a bus... before I finally made it to the Gold Coast and the Hard Rock Cafe Surfers Paradise.

The Gold Coast has a feel very much like Miami Beach, with loads of high-priced properties and plenty of beachfront. When I arrived, the weather was flawless, with blue skies and warm sunshine tempered by a slight breeze...

Hard Rock Surfers Paradise Guitar

The cafe itself is a beautiful older property with loads of cool memorabilia to look at...

Hard Rock Surfers Paradise Interior

Hard Rock Surfers Paradise Interior

Hard Rock Surfers Paradise Grateful Dead Shrine

Hard Rock Surfers Paradise Beatles Shrine

Hard Rock Surfers Paradise Exterior

After having lunch and looking around the cafe for a while, I headed to the beach only to find that the clouds had started moving in...

Gold Coast - Surfers Paradise Beach

Surfers Paradise Sign

By the time I had wandered around for a while and made it back to the Hard Rock, the weather had taken a drastic turn...

Hard Rock Surfers Paradise under Dark Clouds

That's quite a difference considering it happened in under four hours!

Luckily, the skies were clear once again when I made it back to Brisbane.

And now that Hard Rock #139 is out of the way for me, I suppose I'd better see about unpacking my suitcase.

   

Day 11 – Brisbane

Posted on Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Dave!Today was doubly lucky for me as I got to meet with one of my long-time blogger friends, Mooselet, and visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary!

Koalas, like most animals, are adorable when they're babies. Unlike most animals, koalas stay adorable no matter how old they get. So, as you can imagine, visiting a sanctuary which has 104 koalas on the premises is guaranteed cuteness overload.

And it didn't disappoint.

I've seen koalas in zoos before, but at a distance and in a very different setting. The experience you get at Lone Pine Koala sanctuary is something entirely different...

Sleepy Koala
Koalas are mostly nocturnal, so you see a lot of sleepy guys in the daytime.

Sleepy Baby Koala
Baby koalas are, as you'd expect, a veritable explosion of cuteness.

Sleepy Koala
This guy is about as relaxed as you can get when it comes to sleeping in a tree.

Koala Pair
Everybody starts to wake up.

Momma and Baby Koalas

Momma and Baby Koalas
Baby koalas get to hitch a ride wherever they go. Must be nice.

Momma and Baby Koalas
Looks kind of like he might be koala surfing on momma there.

Koala Pals
Koala pals.

Koala Cuddles
Koala cuddle cluster. You find yourself saying "Awwwwww!" a lot at this place.

Dave2 Holds a Koala
Talk about cute overload! (I'm the one on the left).

Lone Pine has more than just koalas though... they've got all kinds of animals, reptiles, and birds around...

Crocodile Smile
Crocodiles have a killer smile.

Crocodiles and a Turtle
RUN, TURTLE! RUN YOU FOOL!

Tassie Devil
Tasmanian Devils, which I just love, are highly endangered and will be extinct in the wild soon.

Chubby Wombat
Wombats are too adorable. Like fuzzy piglets or something.

Feeding a Kangaroo!
Feeding a kangaroo. They're amazingly polite about it.

Kangaroo and Wallaby
A wallaby and a kangaroo hanging out.

Momma Kangaroo and Joey in the Pocket
A momma kangaroo with a joey in the pocket!

Baby Joey in the Pocket!
Joey on the lookout.

Feeding a HUNGRY Kangaroo!
I CAN HAZ CRUNCHY FOOD PELLETS? NOM! NOM! NOM!

Soggy bats try to sleep through the rain
Soggy bats try to sleep through the rain.

After rain broke out at the koala sanctuary in yet another bizarre weather change (there were flawless blue skies when I arrived this morning), Mooselet was nice enough to drive me up Mount Coot-tha for a look over the city...

Mt Coot-tha Lookout

After lunch, the rain started letting up, which made for a nicer view of Brisbane...

Mt Coot-tha Lookout

   

Pretty much the perfect way to spend a vacation day... thanks for coming along, Mooselet!

   

Day 12 – Fiji

Posted on Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Dave!Despite every single day being jam-packed, I can honestly say that this is one of the most relaxing vacations I've ever had. Then today I ended up in Fiji, which somehow ends up being even more relaxed and laid back than Australia.

And why Fiji? Well, there's a Hard Rock Cafe here I haven't been to... but I've actually wanted to visit ever since I first heard Lister wax poetic about his dreams of Fiji on Red Dwarf.

So when it came time to plan my vacation, some hard choices had to be made. And because I didn't have six weeks available to see everything on my wish list, I eventually drew a line through Sydney and split my vacation options into two choices, North or South...

Dave Aussie Travel Map
Not that I don't want to see Perth and The West, but that's another ballgame entirely.

Ultimately, I went with the North itinerary because it fit better into the two weeks I had available and was quite a bit cheaper. Adelaide, Hobart, Melbourne, Canberra, and New Zealand will have to wait until next time.

And so Fiji it was. It's a short three-hour flight out of Brisbane, so why not?

Especially since Hard Rock #140 was within my grasp...

Hard Rock Cafe Fiji

Hard Rock Cafe Fiji

Hard Rock Cafe Fiji Staircase

Hard Rock Cafe Fiji Bar

Port Denarau, Fiji

It's a really nice old-school two-level property that's pretty impressive. I look forward to visiting again when I have a little more time to explore their memorabilia collection.

In the meanwhile, it's time to put a little vacation into my vacation...

   

Day 13 – Fiji

Posted on Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Dave!I walked out of my apartment this morning and had sweat pouring down my face before I could take a half-dozen steps. By the time I had walked across the road to meet some friends for breakfast, I was soaking wet. The heat and humidity were already a lot more uncomfortable than I'm happy with, and the day hadn't even started.

Luckily, I'd be spending most of my day at sea, where at least the wind would keep me from melting...

At Sea

Sailing

Arriving at the reef...

Sailing

At Sea

Time for a snorkel...

Fish Explosion!

Fish Explosion!

Pretty Blue Starfish

Pretty Fishies

Ugly Fishy

Rainbow Fishy

Coral Fishies

Corals

Glass Glowy Fishies

After snorkeling, we headed to "Plantation Island" for lunch and to goof off at a resort. By the time we got there, clouds had moved in and it was overcast. This caused a couple people to be quite upset... saying "THE CLOUDS ARE RUINING OUR HOLIDAY!!" I just smiled politely while being secretly thankful that the clouds would muffle the direct sunlight that was killing me. It was still hot, but at least I wasn't melting.

After lunch it started raining, which caused even louder protests from the peanut gallery. I just secretly laughed to myself because, at last, it was cool enough to be comfortable again. Besides, Fiji is so fucking beautiful that it still looks amazing... even in the rain...

Plantation Island

Plantation Island

Plantation Island

Unfortunately for me, the cloud cover did nothing to filter out the burning rays of the sun. I should have reapplied sunscreen after I was done snorkeling, but with the rain and all, I thought I'd be safe.

Er... Not so much...

Lobster Dave!

I am frickin' Lobster Boy here.

Oh well. I'm in frickin' Fiji, and it's going to take a lot more than a sunburn to ruin that.

   

Day 14 – Fiji

Posted on Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Dave!Yesterday's rain decided to continue all through the night and, when I woke, it was still going strong. This put my snorkeling trip into doubt, as first I got a call saying it had been canceled... then I got a call saying it was clearing up and was on again.

And thank heavens.

My second trip out was even better than the first.

When I arrived at the dive shop, I was greeted by SCUBA-Cat, who was not very impressed to see me...

SCUBA Cat!

The tide was still out. This meant a lengthy trek out to the boat. Our guide had a little extra equipment to carry, but he was a real trooper...

Bula Snorkel Mud Flats

This snorkel had quite a bit more interesting things to see than my last one. Like a SEA SNAKE!!!

Sea Snake!

Sea Snake!

SHARKS!!!

Reef Sharks!

Reef Sharks!

Reef Sharks!

EEL!!!

Moray Eel

FISH!!!

Yellow Fish!

Fish in Pink Coral

Red Fishies

Stripey Fish!

Spotty Fish!

Glowy Blue Fish!

After two really good snorkels at some impressive locations, it was time to head back. But guess who decided to show up...

Dolphin!

A dolphin!

Dolphin Racer

A LOT of dolphins! They were racing along with the boat for a good while...

Dolphin Pod

Dolphin Pod

Dolphins on the Bow!

Dolphins on the Bow!

Dolphins on the Bow!

Doesn't get much cooler than that! Quite a send-off, really.

The tide had come in quite a bit, but there was still a long walk back to the SCUBA shop...

Higher Tide

Higher Tide

Back on dry land, I decided to have some lunch at the resort restaurant. Look who finally decided to get interested in my presence...

SCUBA Cat Returns!

Unfortunately, neither my toasted egg & cheese sandwich nor my fries were cat-appropriate. But the sun was shining again, which was kind of nice. But really, really, melt-your-head-and-set-your-hair-on-fire hot. That's the tropics for you...

Fiji Blue Sky

And now its time to pick up some souvenirs and crap so I can head back to Australia tonight. Three days in Fiji... no matter how much you fill them... is hardly enough. I could have easily spent my entire two weeks here and never been bored.

Sigh. Yet another awesome place I have to find time to get back to before I die.

   

Day 15 – Sydney

Posted on Friday, October 7th, 2011

Dave!This morning I woke up and realized, just like that, my vacation is over.

Well, not really, because I had today in Sydney... but since I've been going balls-out non-stop since I arrived, this day was set aside to decompress and relax before my flight home tomorrow.

My loooooooooong flight home.

Though since it was blissfully cool outside (despite the beautiful sunshine and blue skies) I did go say goodbye to Sydney Harbour...

Sydney Harbour via iPhone

Sydney Opera House via iPhone

Sydney Harbour Bridge via iPhone

Yeah, yeah... they're iPhone photos! I'm done lugging around my camera gear for a while.

I also stopped by the Vintage Cafe (where Kazza and I ate my first day here) for some more of their mind-blowing marinated peppered cheese and bread...

Marinated Pepper Cheese & Bread!

The rest of my day was spent unpacking everything I own, then re-packing it in a way that wasn't insane (as it quickly becomes if you're living out of a suitcase for this long).

Looking back, this was a pretty darn spectacular vacation. I crammed in quite a few awesome things into two weeks. Probably more than I should have. I also got to spend time with some really great people, which is about the most awesome thing of all.

And now I wish I didn't have to go home.

Not because Australia and Fiji have been so great I don't want to leave (though that's also true), not because I don't miss my friends and family (which I absolutely do), and not even because I don't want to go back to work (I'm actually anxious to start working again)... it's because of the awful political hate parade that I know is awaiting me back home.

I dread coming back to it so much that I feel physically ill just thinking about it.

Over the past two weeks I can't tell you how nice it's been to not be inundated with all the bickering, hatred, lies, disrespect, persecution, and general asshattery that's become typical of our political landscape in the USA these past couple of years. I am just done with it.

At least as much as I can be.

See you on the other side of the Pacific.

   

Steve Jobs

Posted on Saturday, October 8th, 2011

Dave!As I write this, I am sitting in the beautiful Air New Zealand lounge at Sydney International Airport. Very soon now, I will be hurling back across the Pacific Ocean to go home.

But I'm not thinking of my impending trip yet to come, my mind is set on October 6th. Which was still October 5th back in the USA. Time, like all things we experience and attempt to describe, is relative to the observer.

Previously...

After a run with the dolphins the boat headed back to Fiji and dry land. As we approached the shallows, my mobile phone came into cellular range and I heard a muffled "beep" telling me that a text message had arrived. I ignored it while I loaded up my gear and went trudging to the shore. I had intended to check my new text as I waded back, but the sandy floor was squishy and slick with plant growth. This made the risk of slipping and dropping my iPhone into the ocean a bigger risk than I was willing to take.

So inside a waterproof pouch which sat inside a waterproof bag, my iPhone waited.

As did I.

And it was a torturous wait because I rarely get texts. Especially when people know I'm out of the country. On those rare occasions when I do get such a text, it's almost always bad news.

My mind was not in a very happy place when I finally got back to the Scuba Bula shop. A part of me wanted to continue ignoring the text for fear of what it might say but, as you can imagine, this is really impossible.

Of the hundreds of nasty scenarios that went through my head, a text from my brother telling me that Steve Jobs had died never entered my mind...

Steve Jobs has died!

As I said, texts always seem to bring bad news.

One of my heroes for the past 27 years was gone.

As anybody who has read this blog for any length of time can probably guess, I was devastated.

I tried to avoid the crush of chatter online, but you couldn't be online without reading about it. And so much of it was beautiful and touching and everything one would expect. But not all of it. A common thread emerged mocking those who were grieving by saying "How can you be so sad and pathetic? You didn't even know him!"

Which is wrong, of course. So very wrong.

Just as you can come to know an artist by their art... Steve Jobs was probably one of these easiest people on earth to get to know through the products Apple makes. And though a great many people contribute to the design, manufacture, and experience that makes these products intrinsically "Apple"... Steve Jobs' fingerprints are on everything. It's his beautiful, singular vision that drove the company to it's massive level of success and created legions of fans worldwide.

As I type this blog post on my MacBook Pro while uploading television episodes for the flight to my iPad and charging my iPhone, I know Steve Jobs. He surrounds me every day. I spend more time with him than I do anybody else.

And so I grieve as I would for any friend who has passed on.

And I remember, because it's impossible for a Certified Apple Whore to forget.

I'm sure this is not the last thing I'll have to say, but it is the only thing I can say right now.

I've got a plane to catch so I can travel back in time.

Goodbye Steve.

   

Fostered

Posted on Sunday, October 9th, 2011

Dave!Oog. Bullets will have to wait a day since there's only ten minutes left in my Sunday.

Just got back from Foster the People's sold-out gig in Seattle. I've been a fan ever since Pumped Up Kicks first starting going viral on YouTube. Of course, back then they were practically unknown, but that's far from the case now... heck, they were even on Saturday Night Live last night (with special guest Kenny G!).

The band puts on a really good live show, I just wish the venue had been better.

Oh well. I had a good time, so I guess that's what really matters.

Foster the People on the Do Good Bus!
Foster the People has teamed up with the Do Good Bus, which was parked out front.

   
Tomorrow it's back to reality after two-and-a-half weeks of big fun.

Wish me luck.

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Presidential

Posted on Monday, October 10th, 2011

Dave!FINALLY!

A presidential candidate I actually want to vote for!

Betty White for President.. WHITE POWER!

   
I swear, nobody else can do what Betty does. If you missed her on Craig Ferguson tonight, this is a must-see...

   
Love Betty. Would vote for her in a heartbeat over any other candidate running.

   

Bullet Sunday 251

Posted on Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Dave!After skipping two Bullet Sundays while I was on vacation, my plan was to get back on track this past Sunday. Alas... it wasn't to be. So here we are with a very special, never-before-seen, extremely rare, hopefully never-to-be-repeated BULLET SUNDAY ON TUESDAY!

And I think I'll make it easy on myself by going back through my comments and emails from the past couple weeks to do a Q & A kind of thing from the questions that I got asked. If I missed one, let me know.

   
• Isn't it awesome that you have blogging friends as far away as Australia? Yes. Oh heck yes. Since the vast majority of my travel is done alone, I can't overstate how grateful I am that I have friends to keep me company no matter where I go. Any time I feel like giving up on my blog, I remember all the great people I've met through blogging and just can't. It's the reason I keep going.

   
• Certified diver? Is there anything you don't do? That's what I asked myself after taking skydiving lessons! I like to try cool stuff, and SCUBA diving was just one more thing to check off my list. I really do love it though, so I wish I could afford to do it more often.

   
• Why aren't you being paid to take vacations and photos, yet? I dunno! Somebody should be paying me to go on vacation! But then I worry that vacations would become all about work, and I'd need a vacation from my vacations. :-)

   
• I want to hold a koala! What does their fur feel like? Is it soft? Koala fur is thick and kind of coarse and wooly... but still kinda soft. For really soft fur, however, you want to pet a kangaroo. Kangaroos have baby-kitty-soft fur! This is actually kind of bad news for them, because they get made into glove liners and slippers and such.

   
• Do they sell Fiji Water in Fiji? Oh yes. The bottled stuff is everywhere, and no cheaper than if you bought it here. Of course, you can get "Fiji water" from the tap for free, so that's where I drank all of mine from.

   
• Loving this trip. Now please tell me about that boat ride. The sail from Fiji was on a 50-foot yacht called Pelorus Jack. It was most definitely not a calm day at sea, which meant a couple people got pretty sick. Call me a sadist, but I actually enjoyed the rough ride, as it made for a more exciting trip! In my opinion, the boat was overcrowded, but it still beats those giant catamarans that head out with so many people that they're practically hanging off the edges. Surprisingly, they allowed me to stand on deck despite the choppy seas after I explained that I had been on sailboats before and was comfortable doing so. I was expecting them to say that I had to stay seated for insurance purposes (or whatever), but they were completely cool with it. For that alone, it was an awesome sail.

   
• Aren't sea snakes really venomous? So I'm told. But, like so many things in the wild, they really don't bother you unless you bother them first. So long as they are not provoked or feel threatened, they'll pretty much just avoid you. That being said, our dive guide picked one up and held it for a bit before letting it swim off. He later said that a bite wouldn't have been fatal to him, so maybe this particular snake has a weak venom or doesn't make very much of it. When diving, I never touch a damn thing. There are a lot of things that can seriously hurt or kill you. As an example, the cone shell is said to be so poisonous that that the venom in just one of them is enough to kill 700 men. Fire Coral isn't lethal, but it is so painful that you'll wish you were dead. The biggest threat to people on Australia's coasts are deadly Box Jellyfish, but they weren't in season when I was there.

   
• Nothing BAD happened this trip? Who are you and what have you done with Dave2?? Well, sure, problems came up... I just didn't want to dwell on them while I was on vacation. If forced to make a list, it would go something like this: 1) The V-Australia checkin at Sydney's domestic airport is fucking insane (even though I like the airline itself) and I had to seriously resist the urge to kill on several occasions. 2) The people on my first Fiji sailing cruise had -zero- respect for the ocean, and trampled everything they could stomp their fins on. 3) I hate... fucking hate... Brisbane's airport, easily one of the most traveler-hostile airports I've ever experienced. 4) I paid ridiculously high prices for internet access, yet it sucked most everywhere I went. 5) I need to remember that late-night flights are are so much better than early-morning flights, and the $25 I saved only to be exhausted two days in a row just isn't worth it. Other than that, it was a pretty uneventful trip... at least where bad things are concerned.

   
• How expensive is "expensive?" As in Australia? Very expensive. At least if you're using the US dollar. When I go on vacation, I don't go crazy with spending money... I don't have that kind of bank... but I do budget generously for expenses. The last thing I want to do is fly all the way to Australia and not be able to afford to do or see stuff. So I save money and then set a budget. But this vacation was one of those rare times where my budget was totally inadequate. I blew through my initial funds before I even left the USA while booking airfare and hotels. So I dug deeper into my savings and increased my budget for the actual trip. But it still wasn't enough. When I got home I had a whopping $1300 in credit card debt. It's depressing, but it happens. My consolation is that I had an incredible trip and definitely got my money's worth.

   
• Now that you've crossed both Greece and Australia off your "list of places you most want to visit," where to next? It won't happen right away (I'll have to financially recover from Australia/Fiji first!) but eventually I need... need... to visit India. And I'm not quite "done" with Australia, as I want to do a Melbourne-Adelaide-Canberra-Tasmania run with New Zealand at some point. But I'm not picky, really. Anywhere I haven't been yet is somewhere I want to go.

   
Annnnd... that's a wrap! Hopefully next Bullet Sunday will actually be on a Sunday. Fingers crossed.

   

iCloud

Posted on Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Dave!Where to start.

Well, I don't know about anybody else, but Apple's release of iOS5 and iCloud have proven to be an absolute and total failure on every possible level for me. My Apple TV is dead. My mom has lost all her photos and her MobileMe/iCloud/Apple ID is so hopelessly fucked up that she can't even send email. My computer is in some kind of hybrid MobileMe/iCloud state that doesn't seem to work with either. My keychains are no longer syncing. Every single device has some kind of problem.

Here's the rundown of my day...

MobileMe to iCloud Migration...
UPGRADE? Failed. "Cannot be completed at this time."
UPGRADE, TAKE TWO? Failed. "Cannot be completed at this time."
UPGRADE, TAKE THREE? Failed. "Cannot be completed at this time."
UPGRADE, TAKE FOUR? Failed. "Server connection lost."
UPGRADE, TAKE FIVE? Failed. "Cannot be completed at this time."
UPGRADE, TAKE SIX? Success.

Mac OS X Lion Update...
UPGRADE? Success?
NOTES: Converted MobileMe crap to iCloud crap, but kept me subscribed to both, forcing me to manually go through and delete all the old MobileMe crap that wasn't going to sync anyway. But it's still trying for some reason. iCloud no longer syncs Keychains between my Macs, which was one of the major reasons I signed up for MobileMe in the first place.

iPhone 4 (Mine)...
UPGRADE? Failed. No explanation, just a reboot.
UPGRADE, TAKE TWO? Success.
NOTES: Lost all my app data and have no idea how to recover it.

iPhone 4 (Mom)...
UPGRADE? Failed. Unknown error occurred (-18).
UPGRADE, TAKE TWO? Failed. Unknown error occurred (-18).
UPGRADE, TAKE THREE? Success.
NOTES: Apple ID is now hopelessly screwed up.

iPad (First Generation)...
UPGRADE? Failed. Some kind of "update can't be verified" error.
UPGRADE, TAKE TWO? Success.

iPad 2...
UPGRADE? Success?
NOTES: Deleted all images from Photos with no warning and no way to recover. Apple ID is now so hopelessly screwed up that she can't send email.

Apple TV (Second Generation)...
UPGRADE? Failed. Generic "Update Failed" message.
UPGRADE, TAKE TWO? Major failure. Unit goes dead with rapidly-blinking light. Trying to restore direct from my Mac (with unsupplied cable) doesn't work.
UPGRADE, TAKE THREE? There is no Take Three. I now have an Apple TV paperweight that will have to be sent to Apple to be fixed. Or whatever.

   
So, in the end, Apple is running 0 for 7, and I've got days of troubleshooting, recovery, and research to do in order to get things running properly again.

Starting with my poor mother's screwed-up Apple ID. The problem being that I have no fucking idea where to even start. Probably with a call to Apple because I don't have an Apple Store handy, but I have no idea how to approach it or who to call.

She registered her Apple ID with an Gmail address, but now Apple doesn't like that, so she switched over an Apple me.com address. Except now I can't get rid of the Gmail address. When I try, I get a nonsensical error message...

Apple ID cannot be changed?

Well, dumbass, if THAT'S now her Apple ID, then why the fuck can't she actually USE it as her Apple ID? Why is Gmail stuck there? And why can't she use the iCloud SMTP server to send email? Oh probably because it will only send for an Apple email address, but there's no way of defining that address as the sender address because I can't change the Gmail address.

What a clusterfuck.

Apple is the new Microsoft. Nothing works right.

The only difference being that once you finally get all the myriad of problems solved, at least you can enjoy using the Apple products.

Apple had better get their shit together before somebody comes along and does it better. There's only so long that people will put up with stupid crap like this.

Even me.

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Apologista

Posted on Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Dave!It took several hours, but I managed to un-brick my Apple TV and fix all my iDevices. There's still some issues (Apple ID is a creation of Satan... except, unlike the devil, Apple doesn't give you tech support in exchange for your immortal soul), but at least everything is mostly working as it should.

Yay.

Now I need a drink.

DAVETOON: Bad Monkey and Jäger

Sometimes being a Certified Apple Whore is a lot more work than it should be.

   

Bag

Posted on Friday, October 14th, 2011

Dave!So there I was loading up my camera bag on my second day in Sydney when I realized "Holy shit, I'm carrying a purse!" Because when your camera content drops below 50%, I think it pretty much ceases to be a camera bag. I had sunscreen, aspirin, my wallet, room key, iPhone, cash, stamps, passport and all kinds of other assorted crap that I need to get through the day.

Oh... and my camera.

Now that I'm back home, I'm missing my "camera bag." It's kind of handy having all your stuff with you all the time. I'd just start carrying it again, but it got a little dirty as I was hiking around Uluru in the Outback.

So now I'm in the market for a new "camera bag." The problem is that there's so many awesome designs to choose from that I can't make up my mind! After a week of looking, I think I have it narrowed down to five choices now...

Purple Bag

Juicy Bag

Orange Bag

Colorful Bag

Hello Kitty Bag

   
Yes. Yes I know... the Hello Kitty "camera bag" skews a little young for me. But I totally think I can pull it off!

The problem is that my Batman Chuck Taylors don't go with it very well, so I don't have the right shoes. So I guess that means I'll be buying some new footwear once I decide on the "camera bag" I like best.

The life of a photographer ain't an easy one.

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Occupation

Posted on Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Dave!Because you never see the other side of the story...

DAVETOON: Bad Monkey on a Pile of Money with a Sign Saying

   

   

Bullet Sunday 252

Posted on Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Dave!Hey, look! Bullet Sunday is actually on a Sunday this time!

   
• New 52. I was on vacation when my copies of DC Comics' 52 new books arrived, so I am only now having time to read them. So far I'm a bit underwhelmed. Sure some books have a decent start and are offering good bang for your buck, but most of them just more of the same. Not that they're all "bad" per se, it's just that they don't seem worthy of a company-wide relaunch like this. Sadly, I'm not surprised. What is surprising to me are the books which have surprised me. #1 on that list was All-Star Western featuring Jonah Hex...

DAVE APPROVED: All-Star Western Cover

As I have no interest in Westerns or lead character Jonah Hex (and didn't appreciate the $3.99 price tag), I almost passed on All-Star Western. But I ended up buying it anyway so I'd have a complete "New 52" set. And thank heavens, because this is easily one of the best titles of the bunch. What the writing team of Gray & Palmiotti have created is more a brilliant murder-mystery story than a Western. But even better is that they have found a very clever way of giving the reader insight into Jonah Hex that makes him a fascinating and fully-realized character. The art is a bit more crude than I usually care for, but Moritat's style is perfect for this book and I loved it. If you were a fan of Baker Street, this is the book for you.

   
• Steve Jobs Day. After too many false starts, I've pretty much given up trying to write down my thoughts about Steve Jobs. I'm at a loss for words, and I'm never at a loss for words. Ordinarily, I'd be kind of worried, but somehow I'm okay with it...

Flowers for Steve Jobs at Apple Store Sydney
Flowers left at the Sydney Apple Store in remembrance of Steve Jobs after his death.

The governor of California proclaimed today to be "Steve Jobs Day" which was kind of nice. But to anybody with an Apple product, every day is "Steve Jobs Day."

   
• Televised. Am I missing all the good new television shows? I set my DVR to record everything fresh, but pretty much hate every single new show I've seen. The lone exception would be 2 Broke Girls, but not hating something is a long ways from actually liking something. On one hand, I'm grateful for the time this will free up, but on the other hand... I'm a television whore, and this really sucks. Here are the only shows I'm interested in this season...

  • Castle (ABC • Mondays @ 10:00). It's an entertaining and well-written murder-mystery show with the perfect cast, plain and simple.
  • How I Met Your Mother (CBS • Mondays @ 8:00). Surprisingly, I'm not bored with this show yet. So long as they give us a new Robin Sparkles appearance every year, I'll stick with it.
  • Raising Hope (FOX • Tuesdays @ 9:30). Love this show. Consistently funny with a dream cast.
  • Sons of Anarchy (FX • Tuesdays @ 10:00). When it comes to television drama, this is a tough show to beat. I don't really like the direction its heading, but I can't stop watching.
  • Modern Family (ABC • Wednesdays @ 9:00). I keep getting really close to dropping this show because it's quickly running itself into a rut, but the characters keep pulling me back.
  • Happy Endings (ABC • Wednesdays @ 9:30). My favorite show on television right now. Not as quick and riotously funny as the first season, but still entertaining as hell.
  • Revenge (ABC • Wednesdays @ 10:00). The only show worth a crap from the new season. Emily VanCamp makes revenge look so delicious.
  • Grey's Anatomy (ABC • Thursdays @ 9:00). I think I'm finally growing bored with Grey's, but Shonda Rhimes always manages to pull some surprises out of her battered hat, so I'm hanging in there.
  • The Big Bang Theory (CBS • Thursdays @ 8:00). Just as I grew tired of this show, they brought in Mayim Bialik as Sheldon's foil, Amy Farrah Fowler. Genius.
  • Community (NBC • Thursdays @ 8:00). This show deserves a much bigger audience than it's getting. Frickin' brilliant and hilarious television week after week.
  • Parks and Recreation (NBC • Thursdays @ 8:30). Quickly losing me, but I love the cast so I stick around.
  • Fringe (NBC • Fridays @ 9:00). Sci-fi that's literally too good to be true. I have no idea how it keeps getting renewed, but I'll keep watching.
  • Rules of Engagement (CBS • Saturdays @ 8:00). A consistently amusing show that's probably getting close to ending because it's so badly treated by the network.
  • The Walking Dead (AMC • Sundays @ 9:00). Time will tell if they can match the brilliance of last season without Darabont at the helm. I'm hopeful.

I'm also buzzing through Gossip Girl because Elizabeth Hurley is on it, Survivor when it doesn't suck, and a big chunk of the awesome USA Network shows when they bother to air new episodes (Psych, White Collar, Burn Notice, Suits, and Fairly Legal). Ditto for the excellent FX series Justified which starts back up in January. Still addicted to Dexter, The Big C, Boardwalk Empire, and Game of Thrones... but since I don't get HBO and Showtime, I've been buying them on iTunes (when available) or waiting for the DVD.

I know that sounds like a lot of television but, considering how much TV is out there, it's pretty pathetic.

   
And now, if you will excuse me, I'm going to stare at the television and wonder where my weekend went.

   

Mercury2

Posted on Monday, October 17th, 2011

Dave!People offer to send me free things all the time in the hopes that I'll review their stuff on my blog. I always say "no" because if somebody gives me something, then I feel obligated to say something nice even when it's a lie. Sure it means I have to pay for crap that I could get for zero dollars, but at least then I can say what I really feel.

So when my blogging pal Rob "Diesel" Kroese said he wanted to send me a preview copy of his new book, Mercury Rises, I was torn. On one hand, I really liked his first book, and so I'd probably like the sequel too. But, on the other hand sequels can be bad, so what if it sucks ass like REVENGE OF THE NERDS II: NERDS IN PARADISE? What then?

I'll tell you what.

First you make a donation to my favorite charity Doctors Without Borders in Rob Kroese's name so you don't feel bad about what you're saying about his book...

Rob Kroese Tribute Gift Card

Then you sit down and write a review on your blog because you promised you would.

Mercury Rises is a story about rebel FBI agent Bruce Willis protecting some autistic kid who has unwittingly discovered the key to cracking a top-secret government code. Because of this, the government wants him dead, and only Bruce Willis can save him. Formulaic absurdity ensues. About the only bright spot in this entire mess of a book is villain Alec Baldwin, who manages to deliver some of the cheesiest dialog ever written in a way that makes you not quite want to kill yourself. Which is about the best thing I can say about Mercury Rises.

What I want to know is what Kroese was thinking. I mean, his first book, Mercury Falls, had memorable characters, witty dialogue, and some genuinely funny situations. Why did he jettison all that this time? I guess the pressure of writing a sequel to a successful book was more than Diesel could take, so he traded in his unique and humorous voice for big budget stars and a by-the-numbers action-thriller that fails to deliver. Overall, a big disappointment.

If you're a die-hard (heh) Bruce Willis fan, this might be worth a look. Otherwise I'd skip it.

   
UPDATE! Umm... it was just pointed out to me that I was confusing Rob's book Mercury Rises with the film Mercury Rising. I could say this is my fault, but honestly... it's easy to see how I would get the two mixed up. Quick suggestion to Mr. Kroese... name your next book something more clever (like Mercury Rises: Nerds in Paradise or Mercury Rises: The Phantom Menace or Weekend at Bernie's II, for example) so people don't get confused.

Anyway, here's me reviewing the BOOK version of Mercury Rises...

Mercury Rises Cover

It's a pretty darn good read.

IF you've read the original book Mercury Falls. Otherwise, the sequel won't make much sense because there's noooooo hand-holding here. The story picks up right after the original with absolutely no recap or explanation as to what's going on.

But if you HAVE read Mercury Falls, then you're in for a treat, because The Apocalypse is back on and only rogue angel Mercury and recently-out-of-work reporter Christine Temetri can save the world. Again! Along the way we get a peek into the distant past with the origins of Tiamet's Apocalyptic scheming and even more of Kroese's crazy characters and outlandish situations. But past, present, or possible future, it's all wrapped up in the same witty, pop-culture-infused trappings that I enjoyed the first time around.

In more ways than one, Mercury Rises is a more challenging read than the first book. There's a lot going on, a lot to process, and a lot to wade through as the plot moves along. I kind of appreciate this, because it gives me something interesting to latch onto now that the "newness" of Mercury and his heavenly bureaucracy has worn off. But you do have to prepare yourself for some uninterrupted reading time to fully appreciate where the story is taking you. Try to read this one during commercial breaks in Dancing with the Stars and you're in for a tough time of it. Still, it's worth the effort.

I'm giving Mercury Rises ★★★★☆. If you enjoyed Mercury Falls (★★★★★), then you'll probably enjoy the sequel as well. It's available in paperback by following this link to Amazon (or you can buy it for a mere $2.99 by getting the Kindle Edition).

And now a warning.

SHIT! Just a second...

Rob Kroese Tribute Gift Card

About the only thing I didn't like about Mercury Rises is that it's not complete. It is, in fact, a cliffhanger set-up for the third book, Mercury Rests.

I really, really hate it when this happens.

What if Diesel dies before he can finish the tale? What if Mercury Rises only sells five copies and the publisher doesn't want to print the sequel? What if the ACTUAL APOCALYPSE happens before the third book is released? What if I die and never get to find out how the story ends?

A part of me wants to say the same thing I say whenever I talk about a book with a cliffhanger "ending"... wait until the actual ending is released before you buy it so you can be sure you'll be able to read the complete story. But, in this case, that would be a shame. Mercury Falls is one of those books that leaves you wanting more. Well, here it is. If, like me, you've been waiting... I begrudgingly say take a chance and pick up a copy.

Mercury willing, the grand finale of the trilogy will find its way to us soon enough.

   

Rumble

Posted on Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Dave!LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLLLLLLLLLE!

Well that was entertaining. I wish I would have had some popcorn.

The only consolation I have after watching the CNN Republican Debate is that the odds of Michele Bat-Shit-Crazy Bachmann or Rick Piece-of-Shit Santorum becoming president are effectively zero. But try telling them that. You'd think the person in charge of the Republican party would cut them loose, but apparently a few more weeks in Crazy Town is on the agenda. Along with four more years with President Obama.

Because if there's a challenge to the Democratic ticket here, I'm not seeing it.

Time to drag out the Don't Fuck It Up Presidential Matrix to pit the candidates head-to-head and see which has the best chance to screw up the country even worse than it is now...

Republican Candidate Matrix

And now the run-down...

   
Rick Santorum (SCORE: 0)
Rick Santorum is a piece of shit. He's worse than a piece of shit. In fact, I would rather have a literal piece of shit... a turd that fell out of my ass... in the Oval Office than Rick Santorum. It might smell bad, but it would do far less damage to our country. After his wacky ramblings about "gay napkins wanting to be paper towels, but they can't be paper towels because they're napkins" I pretty much wrote him off. How in the fuck could this lunatic possibly represent this country?

   
Michele Bachmann (SCORE: 1)
Certifiable. The fact that this particular flavor of crazy has made it this far in a frickin' PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION is just mind-boggling to me.

   
Herman Cain (SCORE: 2)
I admit, I was a fan when the guy first got started. He had straight-talk and a policy of sticking to his guns. Then he went nuts. I mean, seriously, have you heard the goofball shit that has come out of his mouth lately? It's almost as if this is all a big joke to him. But when you crunch the numbers, this guy has a serious chance to be tapped for Vice President on the ticket. Scary.

   
Ron Paul (SCORE: 3)
Despite his low score, there are some things that Ron Paul has to say that I actually like. But the guy is simply not presidential. We desperately need a president who can inspire and give people hope at a time when there's not a lot of hope to go around. But Ron Paul is not that guy. His doom and gloom crotchety old fart routine may be "telling people what they need to hear" but there has to be something positive in your persona to make people want to follow you. Couple that with his horrifying take on foreign policy, and Ron Paul shouldn't be anywhere near The White House.

   
Rick Perry (SCORE: 4)
Yikes. No. Just no.

   
Jon Huntsman (SCORE: 5)
On paper, the guy has presidential credentials that look pretty darn impressive. He's sane. He's good on foreign policy... especially in China. He's not wacky religious. He seems pretty open-minded and forward-thinking. AND he shares a name with the very scary Huntsman Spider. You don't fuck with a Huntsman Spider. Where he fails as a serious candidate is in full effect at the debate... he's just bad at it. His own party seems to hate him. How is he going to get anything done?

   
Newt Gingrich (SCORE: 6)
The guy has so many scandals in his past that it seems impossible to understand how Republicans tolerate him as a candidate. But he does seem to have a very clear vision for how things should be. Sure this vision is hard-core Conservative to its core, but at least it seems solid, which is something both Conservatives and Liberals can cling to in uncertain times. I don't really like the guy, but I can't deny he seems like a candidate that has his shit together (if not his campaign) when it comes to being a president. I admit that his high score surprised me quite a lot, but head-to-head he just kept winning when I factored in all the pieces.

   
Mitt Romney (SCORE: 7)
Out of all the Republican candidates, he's the only one I could bring myself to vote for. Mostly because I don't know much about him yet. Granted, it would take a lot for that to happen, but there it is. And while I don't think he would make a great president, I do think he could make a good president. If nothing else, he seems more presidential when stacked up against the other hopefuls. He certainly seems the most respectful and the least crazy of the bunch (with the possible exception of Huntsman). In this crowd, that's saying a lot.

   
In all honesty, I am not against voting for a Republican candidate. If the right one came along, I'd absolutely consider them in a race against Obama. But I'm just not seeing it in this bunch. So what happened? I just don't know. Looking at how this debate went, maybe all the good ones are too smart to jump into such a volatile race. Maybe they think they have a better chance if they wait until President Obama has his second term. Perhaps they don't want to take the reigns when things are so bad. There could be a hundred reasons.

In the meanwhile, it is what it is.

   

Luthor!

Posted on Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Dave!Today was a pretty rough day at work. When it was finally time to pack up and go home, I was mostly dead and half-way falling asleep. But then I noticed Lex Luthor climbing out of a car as I passed the parking lot and was suddenly wide awake.

ZOMFG! IT'S LEX LUTHOR FROM "SMALLVILLE!" I squeed. I wonder what Michael What's-His-Name* is doing here in Redneckistan? At some point I realized that I was driving really slow and staring, but I couldn't help myself...

Lex Luthor From Smallville
Silly Lex Luthor! Bullets can't hurt Superman!

Eventually I realized it wasn't Lex Luthor after all... it was just some guy.

Great. Guess that makes me a creepy stalker who hunts down bald dudes in his car.

Typical.

   

*Michael Rosenbaum. Thanks, Google!

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Purple

Posted on Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Dave!Seven years, six months, and twenty-six days ago, a young man wrote to a stranger on the internet out of desperation because there was nowhere else he could turn. All he wanted was a friendly ear to share his dream of escaping from the horrific life he had to endure. Escaping to a place where he wouldn't be bullied, teased, or beaten just because he existed.

I was that stranger.

And since then not a day goes by that I'm not reminded of how this poor kid woke up each morning trying to find the strength to make it through life just one more day.

How can I forget? Victims of bullying are killing themselves in record numbers because they can't see any other way to end the suffering.

And we as a society continue to let it happen.

Homophobic activists spare no expense in screaming to the world that gays are filthy perverts who are ruining civilization, destroying marriage, corrupting children, and causing God to plague us with hurricanes and earthquakes. They waste no opportunity to tell us that homosexuality is an evil abomination that should be driven from our community. They advocate sexuality to be nothing more than a "lifestyle" that only the most horrible people choose to embrace. They preach hatred and intolerance to the masses and feign shock when their words inspire an environment so hostile that people would rather die than be forced to live in it.

And while everyone is entitled to their opinion, I'd argue that such ruthless persecution falls outside merely "voicing one's opinion" and could more realistically be described as "inciting violence."

Not that there haven't been steps in the right direction.

Since I got the email that changed my life back in 2004, there have been a number of organizations started to help troubled LGBT youth find inspiration, hope, and help. The It Gets Better Project is a shining example of how people can combat the hatred, lies, and fear that the truly perverse elements of society use to make innocent kids think that their life isn't worth living. Happily, other such amazing projects are arriving all the time. Society is starting to use tolerance and truth to reclaim ground lost by discrimination and lies.

And today is Spirit Day when millions will be wearing purple as a sign of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. It's a way of telling them that despite everything they have to endure, there are people out there who care about them. That they matter. That they are loved. That there are people out there who are fighting for them...

PurpleSpirit.gif

   
Seven years, six months, and twenty-six days ago a young fan of my blog wrote to me because there was nowhere else he could turn. Such a heartbreaking tragedy is unforgivable. Fortunately, it's also fixable. It's just a matter of caring enough to want things to change.

Then doing your part to make it happen.

Help out when you can.

Speak up when you're able.

Create a world in which LGBT youth are celebrated and accepted for who they are.

   

Down

Posted on Friday, October 21st, 2011

Dave!Broked again.

DAVETOON: Bad Monkey is Putting a Band-Aid on Broked Blogography

   

   

ReOccupation

Posted on Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Dave!I was looking at internet news sites this evening to see what was happening in the world, and came upon a story about the "Occupy Sydney" protest in Australia. As soon as I saw the photo, I realized "hey, that's next door to the hotel I stayed at!

If my vacation was two weeks later, I might have been mistaken as a protestor and got the shit beaten out of me by the police! How brutally cool would that have been?

Dave's Occupy Sydney Map
Thank you Google Maps Street View!

And then later on this evening I read where an American diver was killed in a shark attack near Perth.

If my vacation was two weeks later and had taken place across the country, I might have been mistaken as an appetizer in shark-infested waters! How lethally cool would that have been?

And then.... then... even later this evening I read where a woman outside of Ballarat, Australia had drunken sex with four underage boys.

If my vacation was two weeks later and had taken place in a time paradox whereas my 12-year-old self were thrust forward to the year 2011, I might have been victimized by a piece of shit alcoholic pedophiliac sexual predator with low self-esteem problems! How disgustingly cool would that have been?

   
Guess I really did have the perfect vacation.

Given the alternative.

   

Bullet Sunday 253

Posted on Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Dave!Another week, another Bullet Sunday.

   
• Colder. The weather is definitely taking a turn for the worse. This week I started having to scrape frost off my car windows in the morning, which is never a good sign. This means that snow, crazy-ass winter drivers, travel delays, and freezing my balls off any time I step outside can't be too far behind. On the bright side, doesn't this mean that Santa will be coming soon?

   
• Accessorize. I'm not much of an interior decorator, but my kitchen now looks about 210% better thanks to the addition of a Jägermeister bar mat next to my sink! Thanks to Lynne for thinking of me when she ran across it. How totally cool is this?

Jäger Pad

   
• Peel. Despite constant moisturizing, my sunburned skin finally decided to start peeling... three whole weeks after getting burned. Like Judgement Day, I guess you can only delay it, not stop it altogether. Such a bummer, BECAUSE IT ITCHES! IT ITCHES SO BAD!!

   
• Annual. There's a meme floating around about what you were doing a year ago. It asks a lot of complicated questions about relationships, diet, work, and other stuff I'm not interested in answering... BUT it did get me curious as to what in the heck I actually was doing a year ago. Fortunately, I have a blog so I can look that up.

Apparently, on October 23rd, 2010, I was recovering from being run down in the street. All while blogging about flying to Albuquerque and not masturbating. Good times. Good times.

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave with a target on his shirt.

   
• Annual Redux. Ah, you may ask, but what were you doing two years ago today? Well, okay, you probably didn't ask, but I was curious. Turns out I was SWIMMING WITH FRICKIN' DOLPHINS!

Swimming with Dolphins

Wow. This year kind of sucks compared to that!

   
And now, speaking of things that suck, it's time to mentally prepare for tomorrow being Monday... by swallowing a handful of sleeping pills and letting nature take its course.

   

Perry

Posted on Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Dave!Alrighty then.

I can honestly say that I did not expect to have to update my Don't Fuck It Up Republican Presidential Candidate Matrix this soon. A lot of thought went into the first version, and so it would take something pretty substantial to make a move on this baby. And then yesterday happened.

Turns out Rick Perry is a Birther.

He has lunch with Donald Trump, and now he's on the Birther train. Get out your tinfoil hat...

Rick Perry Puts on his Tinfoil Hat! DUMBASS!
Photo by Ben Torres/AP (via NY Daily News)

   
Of course, he's a politician, so he has to wrap his bullshit in supposition...

Q. Governor, do you believe that President Barack Obama was born in the United States?
A. I have no reason to think otherwise.
Q. That’s not a definitive, "Yes, I believe he—"
A. Well, I don’t have a definitive answer, because he’s never seen my birth certificate.
Q. But you’ve seen his.
A. I don’t know. Have I?
Q. You don’t believe what’s been released?
A. I don’t know. I had dinner with Donald Trump the other night.
Q. And?
A. That came up.
Q. And he said?
A. He doesn’t think it’s real.
Q. And you said?
A. I don’t have any idea. It doesn’t matter. He’s the president of the United States. He’s elected. It’s a distractive issue.

   
"I don't know. Have I?"

What a fucking idiot.

If somebody... anybody... can offer up ANY ACTUAL EVIDENCE that President Obama's "long form birth certificate," WHICH HE HAD TO ABUSE HIS PRESIDENTIAL AUTHORITY TO GET RELEASED, is a forgery, then please do tell. But until then, wild speculation (even via dismissal) is not evidence of any conspiracy. So if you're not going to put up, then shut the fuck up.

Nobody can be 100% certain of much... not really... so being cautious in answering with definitives or absolutes is smart. Hell, I was not present at Barack Obama's birth, so even I cannot say with 100% certainty that he was, in fact, born at the time and place that's been claimed. But He has released the required documentation (AND THEN SOME!) to prove his citizenship. So what more is there to be said? Unless you have some compelling evidence to the contrary (which currently only exists in the demented minds of people like Donald Trump and Orly Taitz) you actually do, in fact, "have an idea." Even if it's an extraordinarily noncommittal idea...

"I have seen no evidence invalidating the documentation that's been released and approved so, yes, I believe he was born in the United States. It really doesn't make much sense to believe otherwise unless somebody can substantiate such a claim with actual evidence, not just wild speculation."

But nooooooo... Rick Perry has to be insane.

Which means he gets knocked down with the other crazies like Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum and "Michele Bat-Shit Crazy" Bachmann...

Candidate Matrix v2

   
By the way, I'm still looking for evidence that Donald Trump is not a child rapist. I mean, come on, if he's NOT a pedophile sex fiend, where's the proof? Is it all a big cover-up? If he's innocent of sleeping with underage boys, why can't he just prove it once and for all so this speculation can end? It's not fair for the American people to be kept guessing over such important matters involving somebody so active in presidential politics. Child rape is a criminal offense for heaven's sake! Absence of actual facts proving he rapes children doesn't mean anything... we want proof of innocence!

Holy crap. I should have stayed in Australia.

   

Television2

Posted on Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Dave!I'm kind of late to the AppleTV game. Unlike just about every other Apple product, I didn't jump in with AppleTV 1.0 because it was something I simply had to own. For one thing, there just wasn't much content available. For another, it was basically just a big hard drive with video output. Not very compelling considering hard drive space eventually fills up. Or, worst case scenario, the hard drive fails and you lose everything.

But then AppleTV 2.0 came along. It most decidedly wasn't a "hard drive with video output" because it didn't even have a hard drive. It streams everything from the internet, including any television shows you've purchased from the iTunes Store, streaming video from Netflix, Vimeo, and YouTube, streaming photos from Flickr, Podcasts, and even iTunes movie rentals. As if that weren't enough, you can use Apple's "AirPlay" technology to stream video, photos, and music from your computer, iPad, or iPhone.

All in a tiny, tiny little box...

Apple TV

Thanks to Apple's new "iCloud" technology with "iTunes Match," AppleTV is becoming even more useful. Soon you'll be able to stream all your music not from your computer or iOS device, but from the internet. I am hopeful that eventually digital movies you purchase will also be able to be streamed.

What Steve Jobs once described as "just a hobby" is quickly becoming a core Apple device as it matures.

And, apparently, the game isn't over yet.

The internet is abuzz with juicy details coming from the Steve Jobs biography about his plans for an actual Apple Television. As told to biographer Walter Isaacson, Jobs said "I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use. It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it."

Just one look at Job's philosophy for remote design should explain exactly why this is such a tantilizing prospect...

AppleRemote.jpg
My Logitech "Harmony One" remote on the left, AppleTV remote on the right.

   
I, for one, welcome our new television overlords.

First of all, I'm excited about the idea of just paying for what I want to watch. Right now, if you have cable or satellite television, that's not an option. You purchase "bundles" of channels that includes crap you may never want to watch. For example, I have an "Expanded Basic" package bundle so I can watch Food TV, USA Network, and some other channels I enjoy from time to time. But that same package also includes stupid shit that I would NEVER want to watch (like FOX "News") but I pay for it anyway because I don't have an option to remove it from my bundle. The cable company controls where the money goes, not the consumer. If Apple's plans for television change this, I would be thrilled not having my hard-earned dollars going to support crap I hate.

Second of all, I really like the idea of not having to pay for shows when there's nothing new being produced. In other words, I don't want to pay to watch reruns. Now when you purchase a show via the iTunes Store, you can re-watch it as often as you want on any of your Apple devices at no charge. You've already paid for it, and you don't have to pay again.

Thirdly, I am really, really freaking out over a the business model which could arise from all this. Rather than advertisers paying networks to pay studios to pay for television content, you'd just pay the studios directly. Voilà, no more having your TV shows interrupted by annoying ads.

But the biggest bonus of all? Apple could take down the whole television network system.

Think about that for a second.

Let the ramifications of that really settle into your brain.

No longer will networks control what shows make it to air... which shows are renewed... which shows are canceled. Consumer purchases decide! Sure Apple is going to get a cut of the money that studios take in, but you're purchasing from the studios directly, so the majority of the purchase price goes to the people producing the content. All of a sudden, the fate of amazing shows like Veronica Mars aren't being sabotaged by network execs who require a massive profit margin so they can get paid to sit on their stupid asses and ruin television. The studio either gets enough money to produce the show and continue doing so... or they don't get enough money and the show is canceled. And I'd like to thank that it would be more profitable for them with only one middle-man in the mix (Apple) instead of the dozens of greedy assholes with their finger in the pie now. Suddenly, smaller shows and smaller studios actually have a chance at survival. Instead of competing against stupid reality show juggernauts and network money-makers for ad revenue, they instead compete for viewers directly.

This will require a radical shift in how television is produced, but I think it will be worth it. Perhaps television networks can reinvent themselves as television investors or something... I don't know. All I do know is that putting the consumer in control of the shows they want to watch and giving control of the content back to content producers is a very good thing.

Though there are many problems to address. How does a new show get noticed? Maybe by giving the first episode away for free? Perhaps Apple's "Genius" technology can be used to recommend shows you might like based on what you watch. And how are advertisers going sell their shit? Well, maybe through sponsorships. Choose to watch an ad, and maybe you get the television show for free for your trouble. Consumers get to decide how to spend their time and money. And when they do decide to watch an ad, they can get ads tailored to them so advertisers are getting the most for their money too. Win-Win.

Not that there won't be losers, but there are always losers.

So long as I win in the end, I'm okay with that. Ask consumers, and they'll probably agree.

But a part of me thinks there will be a lot of other winners if this plays out the way it should. Technology can not only be used to deliver a better experience for television viewers, but for advertisers and content providers as well.

I want my Apple Television! It's long overdue.

   

Hit

Posted on Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Dave!Well, somebody backed into my car. AGAIN.

It seems like only yesterday a motorhome backed into it (actually, it was 42 days ago, but who's counting?), but at least that guy gave me his insurance card once I explained the damage. Whoever hit me this time knocked my license plate and frame clean off the car and then just left. The plate used to have a small buckle in it, but now it's completely bent to shit. I have no idea if I can hammer it out so it will fit on the car again. I don't know if I can repair the frame either, which is now cracked and warped out of shape.

Typical.

Just my luck the police will give me a ticket for not having a front license plate.

Assuming they can even see it. Apparently my car is invisible.

Like Wonder Woman's plane...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave Dressed as Wonder Woman Driving an Invisible Car!

Let's see if I can escape tomorrow relatively dent-free.

   

Huhuhuhuhuhuhuhu

Posted on Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Dave!In all honesty, I don't know what commentary I could possibly offer that could add to the brilliance of the season premiere of Beavis and Butt-Head tonight.

Any concerns that Mike Judge might have lost his edge in the fourteen years that the show has been off the air were washed away almost immediately. The savage, near-brutal wit that made two such stupid characters transcend to genius is as sharp as ever. Sharper even.

And I knew it would before the show even aired because of the preview footage released by MTV. Watching Beavis and Butt-Head tear into the shame of the nation, Jersey Shore, was near glee-inducing. It was so good that I didn't even mind that the secondary "story" component was kind of weak...

Beavis and Butt-Head

I still feel that South Park is the more critical voice when it comes to smart commentary on pop culture and current events, but I'm happy to say that there's definitely room for what Beavis and Butt-Head are serving up.

Here's hoping the 23 remaining episodes prove as entertaining.

Which may be difficult now that MTV no longer airs music videos for Beavis and Butt-Head to comment on. Fortunately, there's enough other stupid crap on television to fill the void.

   

Zipped

Posted on Friday, October 28th, 2011

Dave!It turns out the entire front bumper has to be removed from my car in order to re-attach my license plate frame. Since I have neither the tools nor the time before heading to the airport, all I could do was strap the license plate directly to the car with zip-ties. Hopefully it will stay attached long enough to get me to Seattle and back, because I really can't afford the $125 fine. And since the po-po are handing out tickets like candy in order to keep paying for their jobs, the odds of getting fined now are higher than ever.

Not that my luck gives me very good odds to begin with.

Anyway...

I've got 15 minutes to pack a suitcase and hit the road.

Where it will be raining. Just like it's raining in Seattle. Just like it's raining at my layover. Just like its going to be raining at my destination.

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave in the Rain

Guess I'd better take a jacket.

   

Tampa

Posted on Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Dave!And so it's time for my annual late-October trip to Orlando.

Except I begged to have my meeting relocated to Tampa, because it's home to the only Hard Rock Cafe in the USA that I haven't visited yet. Fortunately, my begging skills are unparalleled, so I got my wish and here I am.

The last time I was here was to visit the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in May 2004 (and to see some friends in the area). The following year I virtually visited the city when I tried to figure out where a mystery photo had been taken, but that doesn't really count. So... it's been a while.

Anyway, for some odd reason the hotel/casino complex launched without a Hard Rock Cafe. That was remedied in December of last year when, after nearly seven years of waiting, a cafe was added and opened its doors. Or maybe it wasn't added and just ended up replacing some other restaurant, I don't know. What I do know is that it's big. 17,500-square-foot big. I also know that it's one of the "new-style" cafes with very little actual rock-n-roll memorabilia, which is a shame. All that aside, it's still pretty cool...

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Guitar Sign
At the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino!

Hard Rock Cafe Tampa Entrance Through the Casino
The new cafe has its entrance off the casino's main floor.

Hard Rock Tampa Entry Bar
You actually walk through the bar to get to the dining room.

Hard Rock Cafe Tampa Inside the Bar
The bar itself is very cool... despite having no rock memorabilia.

Hard Rock Cafe Tampa Dining Room
The dining room is massive, and even has a stage.

Hard Rock Cafe Tampa Kitchen
A big restaurant has a big kitchen! The horseshoe above says "Who Do You Love?"

   
But even cooler than checking another Hard Rock of my list? I got to meet up with the amazing Blondefabulous for lunch!

It's Blondefabulous!

   
After my adventures in Hard Rock Land, I returned to the airport to finish up work stuff, then went back to my hotel so I could take a nap before dinner.

At which point I then risked my life to eat at Earl of Sandwich.

Earl of Sandwich

In a day and age when places are sued because they don't have handicap accessibility, I am regularly shocked at how many places have no pedestrian accessibility at all unless you drive there by car. Like so many places now-a-days, The International Plaza (home of Earl of Sandwich) can't be reached by foot... even though it's pretty much across the street from my hotel...

Tampa Hostile To Pedestrians

A) I walk to the end of the road... NO CROSSWALK.

B) I see there's a crosswalk on the other side of my street, but there's NO CROSSWALK to get over to it.

C) Once I survive running to the other side of my busy street, I can finally cross over to The International Plaza... except the sidewalk stops, and there's no place to walk to get there.

D) Miraculously, there's a crosswalk to the Northeast, so I cross back across my street so I can climb through bushes to some grass and not have to walk on the road. But eventually I have no choice, because there's nowhere else to go. I then nearly get hit by traffic... twice.

E) After dinner, it's dark. I don't want to risk walking on the road, so I exit on the other side of the mall where there's a sidewalk.

F) The sidewalk doesn't go out to the road, so I'm screwed again. I once again climb through the bushes to grass so I don't have to walk on the road.

G) Once again, NO SIDEWALK and NO CROSSWALK. I end up having to walk along the shoulder of a dark, busy road so I can get back to the only crosswalk I know.

H) Still no crosswalk on my street, so I walk down the road to cross in the hopes I might be more easily seen if a car comes bombing down the road. Nearly get nailed by a motorcycle.

Sheesh.

I mean, seriously, this is insane. Why in the hell can't we WALK anywhere anymore? Do they really expect me to get a taxi so I can just cross the street? That's just stupid. Public places should be legally required to be publicly accessible by pedestrians. How hard is it to add a frickin' sidewalk when you put in a road?

But whatever. As I have blogged many, many, many times, Earl of Sandwich makes the best frickin' sandwich on earth (which only makes sense considering their family invented the thing back in 1762). Their Veggie Sandwich (hold the Roasted Red Peppers) is pretty much worth risking your life over...

Earl of Sandwich Sandwich!

And now that work is over, the Hard Rock & Blondefabulous have been visited, and I've eaten Earl of Sandwich, I guess my work here in Tampa is done. Tomorrow I fly back to Seattle...

Seattle To Tampa Map

Don't you just love crossing the entire country for a single day's adventure?

   

Bullet Sunday 254

Posted on Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Dave!This has been a pretty bad day, travel-wise. And since I pretty much spent the entire day traveling, that pretty much sums it up. But, rather than bitch about it, I decided to go elsewhere looking for bullets.

   
• Early Flights.

It's a Bullet!

   
• Late Departures.

It's a Bullet!

   
• No Gate Crew.

It's a Bullet!

   
• Sitting on the Tarmac.

It's a Bullet!

   
• 15-Minute Layovers.

It's a Bullet!

   
• Rude Assholes.

It's a Bullet!

   
• Undisciplined Children.

It's a Bullet!

   
• Broken Escalators.

It's a Bullet!

   
• Out-of-Service Elevators.

It's a Bullet!

   
• Ugly Weather.

It's a Bullet!

   
• Nasty Traffic.

It's a Bullet!

   
And... that pretty much sums it up.

   

Hallows

Posted on Monday, October 31st, 2011

Dave!Hope everybody had a safe and happy Halloween!

DAVETOON: Monkey The Thirteenth

   

   

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Categories: DaveToons 2011Click To It: Permalink  3 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

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