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Bullet Sunday 273

Posted on Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Dave!Time to grab your bullet-proof vest, because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Fool. I am not a fan of "April Fools' Day." Most of the pranks are pretty lame, stupid, and usually too obvious to "fool" anybody... especially the ones you find online. But Google has once again hit it out of the park with not one, but two amazingly well thought out and executed joke videos. Sure it's unlikely that anybody is going to be fooled, but they're still genius if you haven't seen them already...

   

   
• Leyner. I am not a fan of audio books. If I'm going to invest time in a book, I want to read it myself instead of having somebody read it to me. But I had a friend who was addicted to them, so every time we'd take a road-trip, he'd bring a bunch of them. I was never impressed enough to pay much attention. Except once. That would be the time that he popped in Et Tu, Babe by Mark Leyner into the cassette player and blew my mind. It was the single most awesome and bizarre thing I had ever heard...

Et Tu, Babe!

After that, I was a diehard Mark Leyner fan, and kept up with all his genius that I could get my hands on... Tooth Imprints On a Corn Dog; I Smell Esther Williams; The Tetherballs of Bougainville; My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist; and now his latest... The Sugar Frosted Nutsack...

The Sugar Frosted Nutsack

It's pretty insane... even for Leyner... but I still liked it. There's just nobody out there doing what he does the way he does it. But here's the thing... YOU HAVE TO GET THE AUDIO BOOK! Leyner reads all his books himself, and half of what makes his stuff so damn funny is his performance of the material. The shame is that Et Tu, Babe, which remains my favorite, is not available anymore. I keep hoping that Audible will add it since I only own it on cassette, but it's never shown up. Leyner is absolutely not for everyone... the guy is crazy-ass bizarre... but if you're looking for something different... really different... then the audio book might be worth a listen at your local library.

   
• Amazement. The season two debut was everything I was hoping for and more...

Game of Thrones Season 2 Poster

And if you're a fan of Tyrion Lannister on the show, you need to read an interview with the actor who portrays him, the amazing Peter Dinklage, in the New York Times.

   
• Eggo2. For the person who said Eggo Waffles were "gross" after I mentioned them yesterday, I would have to agree. Usually. Except... the NEW "Thick & Fluffy" Eggos that just came out are an entirely different animal. The honest truth? I prefer them to a lot of waffles I've had in restaurants...

Eggo Thick and Fluffy Waffles

So delicious. So not kidding. If you like waffles, give 'em a try.

   
Annnnnd... SCENE. No more bullets for you!

   

Planned

Posted on Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Dave!My "big plan" for the year 2012 was to visit my 150th Hard Rock property.

I'm at 144 now, with concrete plans for two more through December. Thus leaving me four short. I was planning on dropping in on a few cafes in Asia this Fall, but that's looking less and less likely. So now my plan is probably scuttled. When the realization of this sunk in while I was in the shower this morning, I tried to be upset about it. But I just couldn't for some reason.

Oh well.

It's not like I haven't got bigger things to worry about.

It's not like I haven't had more important plans fall through.

It's not like the world is going to end.

But...

I sure want to feel at least a little upset about it anyway.

Lil' Dave Unhappy Hard Rocker

And so my new plan is to drink a six-pack of beer and get depressed.

If I can't manage to get that done, I might as well give up.

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GoGo

Posted on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Dave!What a bunch of fucking scumbags.

Back in February I purchased a GoGo Inflight Wireless monthly pass.

Last month in March when I saw the charge, I just thought "Wow, they're really late to bill for their service!" and, just to be sure somebody hasn't stolen my credit card number, I go to my GoGo account and verify that only one charge has been made...

Go Go Internet LIES

Yep! Page one of one. Just the one charge for February 28th! Guess they are really late in billing.

But then today I look at my credit card statement and see the charge again in April. Then I go back and confirm that the previous charge was, in fact, new service for March because they billed me in February too. So I call and find out what the heck is going on, only to be told that all monthly plans are auto-renewing, and they're sorry I missed that when I signed up.

I don't ever recall seeing that on the sign-up form. But, then again, it was probably easy to miss on my tiny iPhone screen.

Oh well, I explain the error and am told that they can't retroactively cancel my account, but they will put in a request for a refund on the latest (third) charge. Which means that I'm apparently out of luck on getting money back on the second charge.

What a bunch of fucking scumbags.

Look, if you're going to automatically bill people for some kind of renewable service deal, there are three things you need to make sure of...

  1. Make it painfully clear when the person signs up that they know the service will auto-renew. I am not disputing that the information was there, I'm just saying it was obviously not obvious enough that I could miss it so completely.
  2. When somebody logs into their fucking account to verify charges, you might want to... oh... I dunno... ACTUALLY SHOW THE FUCKING CHARGES ON THEIR ACCOUNT SO PEOPLE KNOW THEY ARE BEING CHARGED.
  3. For all my other auto-bill services, I get an email reminding me that the charge was posted. Anybody not sending out an email receipt to let people know that they are being billed for something is obviously trying to do their best to hide the charge.

Which brings me to my point... GoGo is OBVIOUSLY TRYING TO DO THEIR BEST TO HIDE THE CHARGE!

I check my credit card statements every month and still managed to fall into their scam to the tune of $70.

What a bunch of fucking scumbags.

And you just know that they don't give a fuck, because if you want to use internet while flying, they're the only game in town. They get to be scumbags because there are zero consequences from screwing people over.

Which begs the question...

Why in the hell can't I dream up a business philosophy like that?

I really need to make a concentrated effort in becoming more evil.

   

Mirror!

Posted on Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Dave!It's been a tough day. It's been a tough series of days.

And everybody knows that when the going gets tough, the tough get going... so I'm going to get going on this bottle of Jägermeister.

But before we start drinking:

This happened...

Nichelle Nichols and President Obama give the Spock salute!

Am I the only one who thinks that President Obama should consider himself very, very lucky that he met up with the Regular Universe Uhura instead of the Evil Mirror Universe Uhura?

Mirror Univers Nichelle Nichols Uhura and President Obama

She would cut a bitch for reals.

I have to admit... I love having a cool guy as president. Regardless of how I feel about Obama's politics, the idea of going back to having a wooden, tense, socially awkward president fills me with dread.

And I suppose that's my cue.

Drink Jäger and Prosper my friends.

   

iPad3

Posted on Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Dave!I've been so busy that I haven't had time to play with the new iPad (third generation) much. That's a darn shame, because it's kind of expensive to just have sitting around on my nightstand. I had to get one for the apps I help develop, so what can I do but sink even more money into Apple's ample coffers? The latest iPad has an all-new hi-res screen, and I have to be sure that stuff I design looks good on it. Otherwise, the iPad3 didn't look to bee much different than the iPad2, so I probably wouldn't have bought one otherwise.

Except, now that I've had a chance to read my comic books on it, I would totally have spent the money on it. I've read a few reviews in the press bitching about how iPad3 wasn't enough of an improvement over iPad2 for Apple to have bothered... which I now know is a huge load of bullshit. If you do any reading on iPad, this is a complete game-changer. Four-times the pixels make for a hundred times better screen, and I am loving it more than I ever thought possible.

The screen is so crisp and clear that I can now read ComiXology "CMX-HD enhanced" pages full-screen without having to zoom in on the individual panels...

ComiXology Panel

Now, when looked at on a "regular resolution" computer screen, the change may appear subtle. But when reduced four-fold, the "SD" panel on the bottom becomes a blurry mess that's a bit difficult to read. The "CMX-HD" panel on the top, however, is razor sharp on iPad3.

So now the iPad is a real option for reading comics. Yes, the screen size is smaller than a "regular" comic book, but it's bigger than a digest, which is perfectly acceptable. And, unlike a digest, you can zoom in and see details if you want without having to find a magnifying glass.

So, my hat is once again off to Apple for once again making an awesome product even more amazing. iPad2 was already leagues above any of the competing "tablets" I've had a chance to play with, but this is entering a whole new dimension, as this snapshot from Apple's website demonstrates...

IPad Retina Display

A few things...

  • I may have major criticism of Apple's iCloud when it comes to streaming music and using email, but for setting up a new iPad, it's glorious. Just sync with the cloud, and everything will be set up exactly like your previous iPad was... right down to the position of your apps.
  • There have been reports of the new iPad having trouble staying connected to wireless networks and having poorer reception. I haven't experienced any of this.
  • If you are a ComiXology customer for comic books and switching to an iPad3, be sure you login with your ComiXology account when restoring your purchases... not your Apple ID. Otherwise, any purchase you made on the ComiXology website won't show up. You'll then have to delete the app and start all over.
  • The dictation feature is superb, and rarely makes mistakes... even when I use wacky words. Still think it's stupid that Siri wasn't included though... hopefully it will be added with a future update.
  • The rear camera is ridiculously good. Not that I plan on taking a lot of photos with my iPad, but it's nice to know I'll get good results if I do. I was a little bummed that the FaceTime camera wasn't upgraded, however. I guess they gotta save something for iPad4? But that's pretty lame.
  • The display, while stunning, seems to run darker than my previous iPad2. I have the brightness cranked way up, which is undoubtedly chewing up my battery faster. The good news is that even at a higher brightness setting, the screen doesn't have that hideous technicolor glow that plagues Samsung tablets I've seen.
  • It's not just comic book reading that benefits from the iPad3's new screen... some other apps I use that have been upgraded for the "Retina Display" are now eye-popping as well. Most notably... "Numbers," Apple's spreadsheet app. Previously, I had to zoom in so far to read the numbers that I couldn't fit many cells on the screen. This was hugely frustrating as I had to scroll back and forth to work. But now I can zoom way out and have a much easier time of it. Productivity and work apps are usable now.
  • As for the battery... it seems to run about the same length of time with a full charge as my last iPad. It does, however, seem to take longer to charge. But I've read something about the battery display not indicating a full charge properly, so maybe that's not the case. In any event, you'll want to use the wall charger that came with iPad to charge the thing... plugging into the USB port on my MacBook barely charges iPad3 at all.
  • I didn't notice the slightly thicker size of iPad3 vs. iPad2 until I read about it. Now that I know about it, I admit that it is noticeable... if only a little bit. The faster chip and better display have to get their extra power from somewhere, so I guess they needed that tiny height/weight bump for more battery.
  • There's been a big brouhaha over the iPad3 running a lot hotter than iPad2. I haven't noticed it. But, then again, I use my SmartCover to prop it up when using it, so I'm never coming into contact with it to feel anything. I purposely ran some processor-intensive apps for an hour, but still didn't notice it running hotter than before when I put my hand directly on the back, so I dunno what the problem is other people are having.
  • Lastly... I usually buy the lowest-memory configuration on iPads and iPhones (16 GB) because I just don't store a lot of stuff. If I'm not using an app, I delete it. If I'm not reading a book, I delete it. Since I can always re-load purchases at a later time, I don't waste memory keeping them if I'm not using them. But this time I went for the 32 GB model thinking that the new higher-res comics and movies might take more space. I'm glad I did, because indeed they do. The CMX-HD comics are around double the size. Also, the apps are bigger since they have the larger graphics in them. Apple really should think about increasing the memory in their lineup next time around to help out, because 16 GB is quickly getting too small.

Otherwise, for the most part, iPad3 is pretty much the same as iPad2. Which is not a bad thing at all, because iPad2 was so kick-ass. Indeed, when it comes to comparing it with all the tablets I've seen, Apple has the only game in town. Sure iPad is a bit pricey, but you get what you pay for, and what you get is pretty darn amazing.

It's products like iPad3 that make it so dang easy to be an Apple Whore.

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BLECH!

Posted on Friday, April 6th, 2012

Dave!Waaaaah! I'M SICK!

I felt sick when I got home from work, but had to go into Wenatchee because I was out of Eggo Thick & Fluffy Waffles and had a Jo-Ann coupon that was close to expiring. Eating dinner just made me sicker, so now I'm sitting here in front of the computer trying not to puke my guts out.

Though I'm guessing vomit hitting the keyboard would probably do a better job of making a blog entry than I am now...

Lil' Dave Vomits on His Mac

As fun as that sounds, I think I'm going to down some Alka Seltzer and go to bed.

Oh wait... I don't have any Alka Seltzer. I wonder if Jägermeister would work?

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Resurrection

Posted on Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Dave!Was still feeling sick all day long. This does not bode well for my upcoming travel.

The good news is that I felt well enough to buzz-cut my head again. This time I went even shorter so my haircut will last longer. Because not having to waste time messing with my hair each morning is great. Traveling with short hair is awesome. It's so frickin' convenient that I wish I would have started doing this years ago. Who knew the military had such a good thing going on with their hair style of choice?

Tomorrow is Easter. Hopefully I will follow in the example of Jesus and rise from my almost-dead existence. I've got some work that really needs to get done, so being sick is not an option.

And while I'd really like to fight through the nausea to draw something nice for the holiday, I love what I drew last year so much that I'm not even going to try to top it...

DAVETOON: Egg is Jealous of Pretty-Dyed Easter Egg.

Cute.

It's just a shame that the poor eggs have to be boiled alive in order to get dressed up for Easter Sunday.

   

Bullet Sunday 274

Posted on Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Dave!Put down that Cadbury Creme Egg because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Eggaxctly. I'm rather fond of eggs. I'll eat them just about any way you can fix them, but my favorite way to eat eggs are in a an egg salad sandwich. Which is why Easter is always an awesome holiday for me. Plenty of hard-boiled eggs means plenty of sammiches. But when I think about it, I'll eat eggs just about any way you can cook 'em...

DAVETOON: Cartoon Egg Cooking Options

As a vegetarian, I had given up on eggs benedict, but last year I had it made with tofu bacon instead of ham, and it was awesome. Of course, the thing about eggs is that you can't tell if they're a raging salmonella bomb just by looking at them...

Good Egg - Bad Egg

Which is why every time I'm served undercooked eggs I wonder if I'm going to get the plague. The last time I was caught in a salmonella outbreak, I spent two days with non-stop diarrhea and vomiting. Which isn't the worst thing that can happen... unless you're on the toilet when you have to vomit. And trying to puke between your legs is something nobody should have to experience twice in their life.

   
• RIP. And so Thomas Kinkade the self-proclaimed "Painter of Light" has gone dark. And while I feel bad that the guy is dead, I can't say I'm too broken up that his output of shitty paintings will stop. Yes, I understand why his unchallenging and mediocre work was popular... it was pretty and required zero thought... but his raging success never ceased to surprise me. I mean this boring crap is what people want hanging on their wall?

Kinkade Krap
Painting ©™® Estate of Thomas Kinkade

I don't get it. But Kinkade obviously filled a need, so more power to him. Hopefully they have plenty of alcohol and things to get drunk and piss on in heaven... rest in peace you crazy bastard.

   
• Oppression. I don't normally post other people's cartoons and stuff, but this is absolute genius...

Stop That!

In four panels, the artist (whoever they are) has managed to perfectly summarize the disgusting hypocrisy that is running rampant through the Hard-Core Right. I am so sick and tired of hearing their whole "persecuted Christian" nonsense. Fighting back against lies, hatred, and persecution is not oppression so get over it. Believe what you want to believe and live your life... then let others do the same. Oh... and at some point you really should read that Bible you keep beating people over the head with.

   
• Nasty. Early this morning I received a nasty(?) comment on an old blog entry that made no sense. It was just a bunch of curse words followed by the words "I love your blog!" Much to my surprise, the commenter left what looked like a real email address. So I wrote and asked what the deal was. Almost immediately I got an automated response asking me if I wanted to make money commenting on blogs. I can only guess this means the company is trolling for trolls? Nothing on the internet surprises me anymore.

   
Now I've got to get back to work... so no more bullets for you!

   

Panama

Posted on Monday, April 9th, 2012

Dave!Some people are smarter than others... whether it's genetics, environment, conditioning, education, or whatever. That's just the way it is, which means that some people don't have the brain-power that others do. And, just like other traits that are intrinsic to a person, you can't really fault people for something outside their control. So long as they're trying their best with what smarts they have, they're doing right by themselves and their society. That being said, I deplore it when people of limited intelligence are called "stupid." That they lack the ability to understand something simply means that it's outside their skills,... they don't deserve derogative labels because of it.

The same cannot be said for ignorance.

If you are smart enough to speak about a subject, you are smart enough to make sure that you have your facts straight.

But, even more importantly, you have to be smart enough to accept when you are wrong... and be ashamed enough over being wrong that you to try not to be wrong again.

Alas, this is getting increasingly rare. Too many people are saying too much stupid crap not because they are, in fact, "stupid"... but because they're ignorant. They don't give a crap about accuracy, validity, authenticity, or truthfulness... they just talk out of their ass and don't give a flying fuck what might come of it.

That's stupidity.

Case in point: my recent trip through the Panama Canal, which went something like this...

Panama Canal Map

The ship traveled from the Caribbean into the Gatun Locks (1). After going through the locks, it anchors in Lake Gatun to let some of us off, where we take a tender to shore (2). From there, we take a bus trip to Gamboa (3). It's at Gamboa where we hop on a boat and continue our journey through the Panama Canal (4), including the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks, before taking a bus to Colón where our ship is waiting for us to continue to Costa Rica (6).

It was while waiting to go through these locks that a guy from a group of people next to me started going off on an ego trip. He was great. He was a successful businessman. He was going to continue to be a successful businessman because his customers were forced to deal with him and him only. Nobody is as smart as he is. Etc. Etc. Etc.

I tried to ignore him, but then he piped up with this little gem to thrill his audience with how smart he is: "We have to go through all these locks because the Pacific and Atlantic oceans are different heights."

What I should have done was mind my own business and stay silent. But, I think we all know that's not what happened. Instead I explained that the oceans are at the same height... which we call SEA LEVEL, and the reason we go through the locks is because Panama is not flat. Gatun Lake is 85 feet above sea level, so we climb locks up to it... sail across... then descend locks back to the ocean. Like this...

Panama Canal Elevation

Now, it's pretty apparent that I know what I'm talking about here. The land we're sailing through is obviously not flat... just look around. And the concept of "sea level" is pretty basic knowledge that just about everybody has at least heard of before. So there shouldn't have been any room for debate, right?

Of course not. This is where that ignorance problem comes in. Not wanting to look "stupid" in front of his friends, he decided to pitch me some shit instead.

"HA HA HA! YOU'RE WRONG. IF THE OCEANS ARE THE SAME LEVEL, THEN WHY DIDN'T THEY JUST CUT A PATH BETWEEN THEM? WHY ARE WE GOING UP AND DOWN, HUH? YOU'RE NOT MAKING ANY SENSE."

I didn't feel like trying to explain the insanity of blasting a channel 51 miles long so you could remove up to 85-feet of earth... so I said the same thing I always say in situations like this... "Uhhh...yeah. You might want to fact-check that when you have a chance."

Which, when I'm proven correct, will make him look ten times more idiotic than if had he just accepted that he didn't know what he was talking about, had no facts to back-up his outrageous bullshit, and should be smart enough to accept when he's wrong.

But some people are just too damn stupid to do something about their ignorance, so the rest of us have to put up with their dumbassery (and any consequences that come out of it).

And I'm getting really sick of it.

But not half as sick as I am of politicians manipulating ignorant citizens with their outrageous bullshit (either through lies or their own ignorance). And, before anybody starts going all partisan, this is a serious problem on both sides of the political spectrum...as one can easily ascertain at PolitiFact.

Now, I'd hardly say that PolitiFact is a bastion of impartial scrutiny when it comes to the "facts" they investigate. Republican candidates tend to get only their more outrageous statements investigated, while Democrat candidates seem to get equal attention paid to all their statements ( thoughprobably the opposite is true when there's a Republican in The White House). But, party affiliation aside, you can still gleen an interesting picture when analyzing the data. For each of our candidates I attributed +2 points for every "true"... +1 point for "mostly true"... 0 points for "half true"... -1 point for "mostly false"... -2 points for "false"... and -3 points for "pants on fire." This means a perfect score would be 2x the number of statements investigated. I then added a "truthiness" rating which divides their actual score by their perfect score. Here's how that shakes out (click on a name to see their page)...

CandidatePerfect
Score
Actual
Score
Truthiness
Rating
GINGRICH122-51-42
SANTORUM90-28-31
ROMNEY246-28-12
PAUL72-3-4
OBAMA7168712

Remember, this can hardly be considered an impartial comparison because PolitiFact can't possibly investigate every single statement made (they certainly make mistakes as well). And, even if it was perfect and impartial, don't be getting all excited about President Obama's apparent victory in truthiness. 12 out of 100 points is still complete crap. The bigger picture here is that all our politicians are full of shit. Which everybody already knows. No big surprise there. We've pretty much come to expect it, right?

And I'm getting really sick of it.

Ignorant and/or dishonest politicians are shoveling bullshit and telling lies all the time. And the populace at large doesn't seem to care unless it's a candidate they don't like. And even then, it's hardly outrage if you turn the other cheek when it's a candidate you DO like whose doing the lying.

I don't get outraged anymore. I just can't sustain the non-stop 24/7 anger that would require.

But I do get embarrassed by the complete lack of shame that all these asshole politicians have for propagating ignorance... whether intentional or not. I no more understand how we allowed things to get to this point than I understand how somebody can deny sea level.

Apparently ignorance truly is bliss, and everybody is just too happy to be ashamed.

Or to care.

   

B3

Posted on Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Dave!And I'm off...

Bitchsterdam 3 Poster

   

   

Day One: Bulb Fields

Posted on Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Dave!Despite having been to the Netherlands dozens of times, I've never gone out to the bulb fields when they're in bloom. Usually I've been here at the wrong time... but other times when they've been in season, I've had to work or didn't have transportation or something goes wrong.

Today The DutchBitch finally fixed all that. I have to say though, they're not quite as impressive as the postcards lead one to believe...

Empty Bulb Field NOT

I lie. They're everything you'd imagine and more.

And while a photograph can only partially communicate just how beautiful it is to be standing in front of flowers that stretch out to the horizon, the thing that really got to me was the smell. I don't know why I never thought of it before, but the bulb fields smell incredible. In particular the Dutch Hyacinth, which is almost other-worldly.

The bright colors don't record that well on a digital camera sensor, which makes photographing the field a bit of a trial (where is film when you need it?), but it's still a great subject to take pictures of.

Bulb Fields Yellow Tulips

Bulb Fields Yellow Tulips

Bulb Fields Yellow Tulips

Bulb Fields Pink Hyacinth

Bulb Fields Pink Hyacinth

Red Tulips Fields

Red Tulips Fields

Bulb Fields

Bulb Fields

Eventually all the flowers are cut down so the bulbs can be harvested then re-used or sold...

Bulb Cutter

And thus the Circle of Life begins again.

   

Day Two: Amsterdam

Posted on Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Dave!Half the time when I am traveling I'm working. The other half of the time I am playing tourist and have a schedule of things I want to see. The wonderful thing about being in Amsterdam today was that I didn't have work or an agenda... I could just wander along the canals and soak in the city.

And when it comes to aimless wandering, Amsterdam is pretty hard to top. I could do that for days and not get bored, because it's just so dang beautiful...

Amsterdam Canals

After a while, I came across the Anne Frank House Museum. I've tried visiting here at least three times, but the line is usually absurdly long...

Anne Frank House Museum Line

But when I checked, it wasn't even around the corner. So, 35 minutes later, I finally got to see it...

Anne Frank House

It was both fascinating and heartbreaking, and now I know why people are willing to stand in line for such a long time to see it. After that I started wandering the canals again and saw this...

No Dog Pooping Sign

It didn't say anything about humans not being allowed to poop there, so I took a dump in the planter. And then... then... I saw something really bizarre. A boat dredging up bicycles from the bottom of the canal. You'd think that they might find one or two from careless people accidentally dropping them in, but you'd be wrong...

Dredging Bikes

A HUGE pile of bikes. They brought up a half-dozen just as I was standing there watching...

Dredged Bikes Pile

The DutchBitch tells me that people get drunk and drive their bikes into the canals all the time, so they have to clear them out every couple of years. Scary.

I stumbled across Amsterdam's brand new Apple Store. It is absolutely glorious, featuring a glass spiral staircase that's mind-bogglingly terrifying for people like me who are afraid of heights (if only they would let me photograph it). Apple does a good job of finding beautiful buildings to build into, and this one is no exception...

Apple Store Amsterdam

After lunch with some friends in the city, I was given a coupon for Het Scheepvaart Museum (Maritime Museum) as the rain came in. It's a pretty fantastic place...

Maritime Museum

Maritime Museum

The displays they have there are incredible. I mean really incredible. I wish they had more of them...

Ship Decorations

Ship Paintings

You can also go out on an old ship, which is pretty nifty...

Maritime Museum Ship

By the time I had finished and headed back to the train station, the sun was out again...

Amsterdam Centraal Station

All in all, a perfect day of new experiences for me in Amsterdam. How sweet is that?

   

Day Three: Keukenhof!

Posted on Friday, April 13th, 2012

Dave!Today I visited the world-famous Keukenhof, "The Garden of Europe."

It is so famous that I had never heard of it before The DutchBitch suggested that we go there this morning and take photos of flowers.

Here is my assessment...

If somebody were to say "It is one of the most amazing fucking things I've ever seen in my life..." they would be underselling it.

It's that good. Huge grounds filled with meticulously maintained flowers and walkways...

Keukenhof Grounds

Keukenhof Grounds

Dave Floating at the Keukenhof!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

Windmill at the Koekenof!

Annnnnd... I'm going to have to stop before I post the entirety of the hundreds of photos I took. All of them amazing. It is impossible to take a bad photograph at The Keukenhof.

After a couple hours, all of Europe turned up at the gardens, so we decided to leave while we still had room to walk out. With time to kill, The DutchBitch drove me to the city of Leiden. Where they have a citadel!

Leiden Canal

Leiden Citadel

Leiden Citadel

View from Leiden Citadel

Leiden Windmill

And then it was time for PATATJES MET and an OLD CHEESE SANDWICH! Two of my most favorite things to eat.

Which makes the day just about perfect.

   

Day Four: Bitchsterdam!

Posted on Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Dave!And so it was that we came unto the Hard Rock Cafe Amsterdam for the merriment of Bitchsterdam 3 and a grand time was had by all. The DutchBitch was there, of course, along with Breigh and her husband Xander. And I finally got to meet Invader Stu as well...

Bitchsterdam 3

Unfortunately, the battery on my pocket camera was dead, so I only have these few photos from my iPhone. If any of us had thought to take a group photo, it would have looked something like this...

DAVETOON: Xander, Breigh, The DutchBitch, Dave, Invader Stu

I can't wait until Bitchsterdam 4!

   

Day Five: Zaanse Schans

Posted on Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Dave!Today The DutchBitch says "It is a beautiful day to visit Zaanse Schans!" And, like the fool I am, I believed her. Though I suppose if you ignore the freezing winds and overcast skies, it was a beautiful day to go exploring.

Zaanse Schans is a tourist attraction north of Amsterdam with various shops and interesting things to see. But it's best known for its collection of preserved and functional windmills...

Zaanse Schans

Windmills

Among the attractions is a "Klompenmakerij" or "Wooden Clog Workshop" where you get to watch them make shoes...

Klompen Wooden Shoe Maker

They also have a "Kaasmakerij" or "Cheesemaker Shop" which has all kinds of delicious hand-made cheeses...

Cheese Maker

It's a nice shop... but you can't bring your chicken in with you...

No Chickens!!

And there's a gift shop with... Miffy!...

Miffy

Eventually the sun started to come out a bit, so we walked down the row of windmills...

Windmills at Zaanse Schans

Once we were tired of goofing off in Zaanse Schans, it was time for PATATJES MET and OUDE KAAS!!

Patatjes Met

Never mind that I have eaten fried potatoes with mayo and an aged cheese sandwich every day since I've been here... you just can't get enough of a good thing.

And, just like that, my adventure in DutchyLand has come to an end. I'm off to the airport in an hour.

   

Day Six: Hamburg

Posted on Monday, April 16th, 2012

Dave!And so I am in Hamburg now.

Though I have been to Germany many times, this is my first trip to the northern part of the country. I was actually supposed to go to Bremen, but there's not a shiny new Hard Rock Cafe in Bremen, so I decided on a detour. This ended up being quite a nice excursion, because Hamburg is a lovely city... if a bit hostile to the non-German-speaking traveler. Unlike Cologne, Berlin, Munich, there's not a lot of signage or help available in English. I'm guessing that this is due to Hamburg not being a big foreign tourist destination, but it's puzzling that the touristy advertisements and touristy spots don't have at least something in English.

As an example, here's a poster ad in one of the most touristed train station in the city (Landungsbrüken) for a very popular attraction: "The Hamburg Dungeon." ...

Hamburg Dungeon Poster... NO ENGLISH!

All that space, and they couldn't bother to put even a line of English to help a brother out? NEIN!

But I wasn't here to play tourist so, after my work was through at 11:00, I headed directly to the Hard Rock Cafe. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200...

Hard Rock Cafe Hamburg

For being one of the "new style" cafes, I was surprised to find that they actually did a decent job of packing in the memorabilia. Far from being the sparse rock museum wasteland we've been getting, there was a nice and varied assortment. This is not to say that there are not oddities, however. Marc warned me about the mirror-finish of the bathroom urinals, but it's not something you can truly appreciate until you have actually pissed in it...

Hard Rock Cafe Hamburg Urinal

Having an entire audience watching you pee from a photograph is borderline-traumatic. But, sure enough, my junk was clearly reflected for all of Hamburg to see. On a busy Saturday night, I can only guess that somebody walking into the urinal would be greeted by a giant wall of dicks. I'm not exactly shy, but THAT'S traumatic!

On my list of things to see was St. Michael's St. Nicholas' Cathedral... which has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times, only to finally be destroyed for good during WWI and WWII. You can buy an elevator ticket to the top of the one remaining tower, but my fear of heights coupled with my FEAR OF BEING ON TOP OF A BOMBED OUT TOWER WHEN IT COLLAPSES meant that wasn't going to happen...

St. Nicholas' Bombed-Out Church

From there I walked to City Hall, which is a really beautiful building...

City Hall Building

I then went to a man-made lake area called "Aster." It has a really beautiful view but, as if that weren't enough, it also has an Apple Store...

Apple Store Hamburg

From there it was time to visit the ONE "must-see" attraction on my list... MINIATUR WUNDERLAND! It appeared on a Travel Chanel show a while back and really appealed to the model-train lover in me. Of course, the trains are only a small part of the experience. There a multiple dioramas created from famous places in the world that are painstakingly detailed...

Miniatur Wunderland Park

And the closer you get, the more details you see...

Miniatur Wunderland Camp Site

And the details are not just in the models. It seems that every scene is telling a story. You might see emergency vehicles lit up in one area... only to turn a corner and see that they're headed to a house fire or something...

Miniatur Wunderland Fire Trucks

Miniatur Wunderland House Fire!

They sneak in little jokes and pop culture references sometimes as well. As I was examining model cars involved in some kind of countryside race, I found Herbie the Love Bug in the lead, having to stop for some sheep...

Miniatur Wunderland's Herbie the Love Bug!

Another interesting bit is that all the dioramas cycle from daylight to dusk to night to dawn and back to daylight... with computer-controlled lights providing the appropriate sunlight simulation and the lighting in the buildings, cars, trucks, and such. Here's the airport, going from evening to dawn as I walked around it...

Miniatur Wunderland Night at the airport

Miniatur Wunderland Dawn at the Airport

As the airport is one of the newest additions to Miniatur Wunderland, it's fairly complex. The planes move around and everything. Even better, they give you an underground view to the U-Bahn (subway) station...

Miniatur Wunderland Subway Station

One of my favorite sections was the rock concert diorama, complete with performers, working video screens, and a massive audience...

Miniatur Wunderland Concert!

No detail is spared... right down to the portable toilets...

Miniatur Wunderland Porta-Potties!

The USA is represented, but it's been boiled down to Las Vegas and some kind of red rocks diorama that looks more like Disneyland than the American Southwest, but it's still pretty cool...

Miniatur Wunderland Las Vegas

Miniatur Wunderland American Southwest

Miniatur Wunderland is also kind of educational. In the diorama for Hamburg, the building where the new Hard Rock is now located was apparently home to a skating rink on the roof at one time...

Miniatur Wunderland Hard Rock Building Hamburg

From there I headed to the central part of the city so I could visit the famous Hamburger Kunsthalle Art Museum but, alas it was closed on Mondays. I can only guess that tourists in Hamburg don't go out on Mondays? Oh... no... when I was there I saw other tourists leaving in disappointment too. Not the smartest move on the museum's part, but it's their money to lose, I suppose.

And speaking of the Hard Rock...

When I mentioned a while back that I was sad I wouldn't be reaching my goal of 150 Hard Rock property visits this year, I got a comment from Katharina telling me I should come to her city of Hamburg where they have a new cafe.

Little did she know...

"I WILL BE THERE IN TWELVE DAYS!" I replied.

And she was kind enough to meet me for dinner tonight! Which is why I will have a hard time ever giving up Blogography no matter how passé blogging becomes. Because of blogging, I really have made friends all over the world. No matter where I end up, there's always somebody I can hang out with.

And now I'm back at my hotel packing my backpack for the journey back to the Netherlands tomorrow morning.

Good bye, Hamburg.

   

Day Seven: HAM->AMS

Posted on Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Dave!The problem with mid-day plane schedules is that they pretty much kill your day. My 12:30 flight was too early for me to run into Hamburg and do something... but too late for me to arrive into Amsterdam and do anything. Which means I was kinda stuck.

So I decided to sit in my airport hotel room and get caught up on work. Which was a great idea... until I fell asleep. Usually when I feel there's that possibility, I set my alarm clock. But today I didn't for some reason. Which was pretty stupid.

Nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of getting to the gate with a mere ten minutes to spare.

But it all worked out in the end.

I made it back to DutchyLand in time for one last order of PATATJES MET and an aged cheese sandwich with the Dutch Bitch.

Not the worst way I could have spent the last day of vacation.

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Day Eight: AMS->SEA

Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Dave!For a long flight, my first concern is always comfort. With my 6'2" height, it can be a pretty big deal to be cooped up for 10-1/2 hours in a steel tube being hurled across the Atlantic Ocean when my legs are cramped up. But my frequent flier status allowed me a nice upgrade with plenty of legroom, so this wasn't an issue.

My second concern is time. 10-1/2 hours has to be spent doing something and, since I can't sleep on planes, it ain't going to be sleeping. Usually I just watch whatever movies they have available, but they were all films I'd already seen or wasn't interested in. Fortunately, I had purchased some iTunes programs to occupy my head during the trip.

And here's where I go bananas over television shows.

The Dutch Bitch and I were watching The Daily Show when Ricky Gervais was a guest. I'm a big fan of his, so I was really looking forward to his interview. Turns out he was there to pimp two shows... The Ricky Gervais Show and An Idiot Abroad. Much to my surprise, The Ricky Gervais Show ended up being animated. They took funny podcasts that Ricky made with his friends Steven Merchant and Karl Pilkington, and made them even funnier by turning them into cartoons...

Ricky Gervais Show Intro Card

Now, here's where things get interesting. The show does not really revolve around Ricky Gervais. It is totally centered around Karl Pilkington. And this frame from the intro tells you absolutely everything you need to know from the show...

Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant listening to Karl Pilkington

Ricky and Steven get Karl to start talking about something, then wait to hear what hilarious things comes out of his mouth. And while Ricky and Steven waste no opportunity to tell Karl how stupid he is for how he thinks about stuff, I can honestly say that Karl Pilkington may be one of the most intriguing thinkers on the planet. His every word transcends logic to reach a level of genius that is absolutely mind-boggling...

Animated Karl Pilkington

I can't tell you how many times I had people staring at me because I kept busting out laughing at the show. It has to be one of the funniest things I've ever seen, and is easily one of the most entertaining shows ever made for television (well, not television, HBO).

I bought both seasons iTunes had available. The first season is gold. The second is even funnier. They are a steal in Standard Definition for $20 each (Hi-Def is a waste, as the cartoons are low-res). If you'd rather spend $0 to get a taste of the show, you can subscribe to The Ricky Gervais Show Podcast. New episodes from the third season start airing on HBO come this Friday.

But The Ricky Gervais Show was just the beginning.

Turns out that Ricky and Steven also created a travel show for Karl Pilkington where they send him around the world to see stuff so that he can "broaden his mind." The first season is all about having Karl visit the Seven Wonders of the World...

Karl in front of the Great Pyramids

And here's where I get confused, because Karl Pilkington is exactly the kind of traveler I usually hate. He complains about everything and isn't happy with anything that isn't the same as it is back home. Ricky and Steven take full advantage of this by getting him into situations they know will freak him out. That's where the funny bits happen, though sometimes I just end up feeling sorry for the guy. Because even with the camera crew following him around and taking care of him, there are times he is clearly out of his depth. The culture shock is overwhelming to him, and forcing him into more and more crazy situations seems almost cruel. Like force-feeding him something he just can't fathom eating...

Karl is Forced to Eat Something Awful in China

While he was in India, Karl got to experience something I long to see... the day of Holi. It's a remarkable Hindu festival of sheer joy and celebration that I have been dreaming of for decades. Brightly colored powders fill the air, and people of all ages, social status, and wealth join together in a giant two-day party. If I had a bucket list, Holi would easily be in my top five.

Karl, of course, didn't like it at all...

Karl Covered in Color on Holi

Instead of focusing on what a unique and amazing experience he's lucky enough to get to join in on, he focuses on his £70 trainers (sneakers) getting ruined. This immediately pisses me off, because people like this should just stay home. Stop traveling, because all you do is make it hard for the rest of us who love it.

All the complaining, disparaging comments, and idiocy would ordinarily turn me off in a big way. It's the reason I fucking hate the show The Amazing Race. But I find An Idiot Abroad to be absolutely fascinating. Karl Pilkington may be a crotchety Englishman who sums up his entire time in India by saying "I hated it"... but he's also decent, kind, and caring at heart. He so obviously doesn't mean to be offensive or irritating that it's hard to stay mad at him. There are several moments throughout the series where you catch glimpses of Karl trying his best to give it a go and embrace the culture, and it's what has me loving the show so much. In the afore-mentioned Holi celebration, people are pelting him with colors while he protests. But then you see a little girl who can't reach him, so he bends down and lets her dump color on his head...

Karl on Holi

I am guessing that there are a lot of moments like this but, since they aren't "funny," they get edited out of the show. Yet somehow they manage to keep just enough of Karl being a decent bloke to keep An Idiot Abroad from being a total disaster.

And then there's the sights...

Karl at the Taj Mahal

On the flight home, I devoured all of Season One plus half of Season Two, and the time (literally) just flew by.

I give both An Idiot Abroad and The Ricky Gervais Show my highest possible recommendation...

Dave Approved: Karl Pilkington!

And so ends my week of vacation and the wonderful thing that was Bitchsterdam 3.

   

Peckish

Posted on Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Dave!Airplane food is never going to raise any bars for stunning cuisine. Not to say that it can't be good... I've had some amazing meals in-flight... but that most of the time it's just there and something to eat when you're hungry, not something to be enjoyed.

My first meal yesterday was a nice rice dish with some kind of pea mash that I thought sounded great, so far as vegetarian options go. But the peas were inundated with so much mint that it was like chewing a stick of gum with all the wrong textures, so I didn't end up eating it. Instead I ate a small roll that was on the tray.

The second meal I got was a bag with a tiny sandwich and an apple in it. By this point I was pretty hungry, but the roll on my sandwich was sopping wet and disgusting, so all I got was a small apple.

After 8-1/2 hours with nothing but a piece of bread and a dwarf fruit in my stomach, I was hungry enough to eat just about anything. So when my third (and final) meal of a roasted vegetable sandwich was put in front of me, I tore into it. The bread was actually nice and crusty... but the vegetable mix in the middle tasted metallic and kind of funky. That should have been a red flag, but I ate it anyway because I was famished.

Then proceeded to be sick to my stomach almost immediately.

So instead of driving straight home over the mountains yesterday, I instead crashed at my sister's place so I could recover and drive directly to work this morning.

Where, despite having two (nearly) back-to-back vacations, it felt as if I never left.

If not for the photographs I took, it hardly seems as though I were gone at all.

Which means now I need a vacation.

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Unsilenced

Posted on Friday, April 20th, 2012

Dave!Today is usually the day that I post some kind of DaveToon showing solidarity with those students taking part in the National Day of Silence. It's a worthwhile demonstration (in its seventeenth year) which calls attention to those who would silence the effects of anti-LGBT bullying in schools.

But I'm just too saddened to stay silent this year.

Maybe it's because the epidemic of gay youth suicide hit very close to home earlier this year when a guy going to my high school alma mater killed himself as a result of bullying.

Maybe it's because I learned that friends of mine have a brilliant, funny, amazing child who is being so badly bullied at school that they're only option is to home-school him because they are starting to fear for his life.

But probably it's because I came back from vacation and one of the first news stories I read is how 14-year-old Kenneth Weishuhn Jr. comes out as gay, immediately became a target of unrelenting bullying, and is dead a month later by his own hand...

Kenneth Weishuhn Jr.

I look at this photo and my heart breaks at the thought of him waking up each morning trying to find the courage to get through just one more day. I look at this photo and try to fathom just how bad his life was that killing himself was the best solution he could think of to escape it. I look at this photo and wonder for the millionth time how somebody could be so cruel as to torture somebody over something that's not their fault, something they cannot change, and something that shouldn't matter. I look at this photo and die a little bit more inside because we live in a society where kids are killing themselves because they're different.

Was there nobody who would stand up for this poor kid?

If not for hearing this same story play out dozens of times before, it would be inconceivable.

New videos are being added to the It Gets Better Project all the time, and yet telling these kids over and over again that they're lives will be okay if they will "just hang in there" doesn't seem to be enough. In some cases, it doesn't matter how great things will be in the future, life is just too difficult for them to go on right now. And never was this made more clear than when looking at Kenneth's "When I Get Married" Pinterest page. He lived in Iowa where same-sex marriage was legal, had envisioned a bright future for himself where he would be married and happy, but didn't survive long enough to see it.

Which means that things need to BE better right now.

Kids need to know that they are accepted and valued right now.

Which is tough to get across when every time you turn around there's yet another attack on LGBT persons. Religious leaders screaming that being gay is an abomination... politicians saying that gays getting married will doom society... news pundits saying that gay soldiers will ruin our military... hate groups saying that if kids see gay people in public they'll turn gay... the dumbassery never seems to stop. It's all fucking bullshit, of course, but that's the kind of environment which is corrupting today's youth and turning them into bullying hate machines. It's horrifying how something so grotesque could ever become acceptable to society, but history is replete with examples of this kind of hatred going "mainstream." We just never seem to learn from it.

And yet... in small steps, things are moving in the right direction.

High school athletes are stepping up to befriend and protect their bullied classmates, and it's a step.

Organizations are forming to foster acceptance of gay youth by their straight peers, and it's a step.

Schools are adopting "No Bullying" policies to curb aggression towards students under attack, and it's a step.

And more steps are being taken every day. Sadly, some of them are steps backwards, but ultimately we are inching ahead. Which means we're making progress. Which means things are getting to be better for school kids right now. But not nearly fast enough. Because Kenneth Weishuhn deserved to live to see the future he saw for himself, and any society which would deny him that doesn't deserve any future at all.

Rest in peace, Kenneth. And forgive me for not being able to stay silent on a day where silence is meant to improve things for people just like you... innocent kids who deserve far better by our hands.

   

Dopey

Posted on Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Dave!I spent my morning unsuccessfully catching up on work. I was off to a good start, but then shooting pains started ripping through my left leg. At first I thought it might be a heart attack, but then I remembered that is shooting pains in your arm. Googling a self-diagnosis brings up all kinds of doom and gloom, which I've decided to ignore. Except the pain is still there and that has resulted in massive cramping. I'm guessing this is all because a pinched nerve from 10 hours on an airplane, but who knows? I suppose it's time to get a check-up with somebody other than Dr. Google.

In the meanwhile, I'm doped up on painkillers and Quinine, which makes working kinda difficult.

So I'm blogging instead.

Except I'm drowsy and can't seem to keep a thought in my head, so I'll just draw a DaveToon and be done with it...

Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey Sketch

There we go.

My dedication to my blog astounds even me sometimes.

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Bullet Sunday 275

Posted on Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Dave!I'm droppin' bullets like Benjamins, yo, because Bullet Sunday starts... now.

   
• Bitchsterdam. An overdue thank you to The DutchBitch for an awesome Bitchsterdam 3 blogger event. I've been to the Netherlands many times, but she managed to find some fantastic touristy stuff that I've never seen before... including a visit to the amazing Keukenhof gardens. Easily worth a ten-hour flight. Here's hoping she can be convinced to have Bitchsterdam 4! If, for no other reason, than I can attempt to use words like "geesteswetenschappen" in a sentence again...

Geesteswetenschappen!
It apparently means "humanities"... OR DOES IT?!? You just don't know!

   
• Superiority. And speaking of DutchyLand... I fully accept that the United States of America is the greatest country in the world and all those other freedom-hating backwater countries don't matter and have nothing to contribute. I mean... I kind of have to don't I? The minute an American even implies that other countries are relevant to world affairs and have wonderful cultural contributions to be made, FOX "News" will brand them an American-hating traitor. And heaven forbid that you happen to be the president and have an appreciation for other countries' contribution to the planet. That's enough for FOX "News" to demand your impeachment!

However...

Call me a traitor if you must, but creamy and delicious Dutch mayonnaise is so fucking superior to the gelatinous glop we call "mayonnaise" here in the U.S. that it's not even funny. This trip I checked a suitcase, which meant I was able to bring home a bunch of the stuff. So now I can fry up some fries for PATATJES MET at home...

Patatjes Met at Home!

PATATJES MET!!! Amazing. Whoever decides to market a superior Dutch mayo here is going to make millions. Millions!!

   
• WHAT?!? And speaking of fries... have you heard that browning potatoes creates a cancer-causing chemical called "acrylamide" that makes them deadly to eat? Can you believe this shit? Why is it that everything that tastes good ends up killing you? This is so not fair. PATATJES MET OR DEATH?!? I can't answer that.

   
• Earth! Ooh! It's Earth Day! That one day out of the year where people pretend to give a shit about our planet! Including me. Despite it being 82° out today, I rolled down my window instead of turning on the air conditioner in my car. That totally counts, right?

   
• Television. Kind of gutted that two of my favorite new shows, Awake and The Finder are not getting the ratings they need for renewal. Instead they'll be cancelled and replaced by a reality show or some other stupid-ass crap that doesn't require thought from the American viewing public. And who knows what's going to happen to Fringe, which had a game-changing episode on Friday. It's almost to the point where I'm afraid to get invested in good television anymore...

Good Television Posters

   
And, on that sad note, I've gotta go tempt death by having another plate of PATATJES MET!

   

Pennies

Posted on Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Dave!I should have left the Dutch mayo back in the Netherlands. Because now I'm going to have to start a cocaine habit in order to break my Patatjes Met addiction. Cocaine I think I have a shot at shaking... but Dutch mayo? Not on your life. Dutch mayo is the new chocolate pudding, and I want to eat in on everything all of the time.

That can't be good.

Well, it is good, it just can't be healthy.

The weather has taken a decidedly warmer turn here, with temperatures reaching a ball-scorching 86° today. This is kind of depressing, because I don't remember getting a Spring. We went from cold days a couple weeks ago to hot days this week. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. Just freeze your ass off one day, then sweat your ass off the next.

In other news... DEATH TO PENNIES!!!

Despite all the objections, I am for a cashless society. I buy everything... everything... on my credit card to get airline miles anyway, so it wouldn't be a big deal to me. And while I don't see the USA getting rid of money any time soon, I think killing off the penny is something most people could get behind once they are informed of what a stupid waste they are.

Or not.

Here in these United States of America, we seem to be addicted to stupid waste.

   

Insertion

Posted on Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Dave!Today was one of those days that was lacking thrills. More than once I found myself wishing I had a package arriving. Because don't you just love it when you order something and receive a tracking notice saying that it's out for delivery? Isn't that just the greatest? The anticipation of knowing any minute the FedEx delivery guy is going to walk through the door carrying a parcel with your name on it? The item doesn't even have to be something major... I'd be excited even knowing that it was new socks on the way.

Just something to look forward to.

Instead I left work early to go to the eye doctor.

After removing my contact lenses for the exam, I saw THIS staring up at me...

Comfort & Moisture from Insertion to Removal

It wasn't until I put my glasses on that I figured out what was going on there...

Pure Moist Contact Lens Solution Ad

And that was the most thrilling thing that happened to me today.

Thank heavens for a dirty mind. Otherwise I would have had nuthin'.

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Murder

Posted on Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Dave!We were hit by a deluge this afternoon, with the rain falling so hard that leaves were being ripped from the trees. This made it really difficult to drive on the highway because the water was piling up faster than it could run off the road. Some cars started hydroplaning and losing control, so everybody slowed down to a more appropriate speed and everything was fine.

Until some dumbass came ripping down the highway at top speed, skidding through the water while weaving in and out of traffic. As he attempted to pass me, he slid so close to my car that I thought I would lose my side-mirror, but I managed to turn and brake quickly enough that I didn't get hit. That I nearly ended up in the ditch didn't mean anything to the asshole, and he sped off to even more dangerous encounters as horns were blaring around him.

The hospital was in the opposite direction, so I have no idea why he was in such a hurry, but I wouldn't be surprised if he eventually ended up killing somebody.

Oh, excuse me, murdering somebody.

Because driving like a psychopath in such bad weather conditions is an intentional bid to kill someone... there would be no "accident" here. And yet, even such a reckless regard for safety (including his own) didn't seem to register as he was skidding all over the road.

Which makes me think about the old "If you could go back in time and kill Hitler, would you do it?" question. No, this asshole driver probably isn't going to end up responsible for killing millions of people... but do the numbers really matter when murdering even one person is a tragedy? Everybody is important to somebody.

And so there I am behind the wheel watching in horror as some dumbass is skidding all over the place while other drivers try their best to avoid him. And it occurs to me that I don't have to go back in time to kill this asshole and save lives... I could follow him home and kill him right now!

Not that I would actually do it, of course. But what about the person that would? Like me, they come to the whole "kill Hitler" quandary and then, unlike me, decide to do society a favor and eliminate the bastard driver. What about them?

So drive safe everybody. It's not just an accident that can kill you.

And speaking of something that can kill you...

Pizza Hut in the Middle East has introduced "Crown Crust Carnival Pizza" where cheeseburgers or chicken nuggets are baked into the crust!

Pizza Hut Burgers Pizzas

GENIUS! It almost makes me wish I wasn't a vegetarian. And I lived in Kuwait. And I had a deathwish.

It's only a matter of time before they start putting chocolate cake in the crust so you can have pizza and dessert at the same time. I can't tell you how happy I am to be alive during an era of such magical culinary innovation. But it's pretty happy.

   

Fall

Posted on Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Dave!Are you American? Have a computer? Congratulations! Your elected officials are working overtime to make sure you have no privacy and no rights... all in the name of your security! The House of Representatives just passed CISPA, affording the government horrendously invasive powers over its citizens. And it gets better... the bill that was passed ended up being far worse than originally thought.

The Obama administration has threatened to veto CISPA (apparently the Special Interest groups they suck up to don't have a problem with it)... but forgive me for failing to be shocked if this ends up getting turned into law anyway. In an election year, President Obama can be only be counted on for doing only one thing... doing whatever he has to do to get re-elected. If that means CISPA gets passed, I'm sure CISPA is going to get passed.

Look, I fully support tracking down cyber criminals, cyber terrorists, cyber pedophiles, and cyber stalkers. Criminals should be brought to justice, end of story. But not by completely trashing the privacy, security, and freedom of American citizens! CISPA gives the government a grotesque amount of power over its people. Power that's just begging to be abused. Because if history has taught us anything, it's that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely... no matter what the original intent. The fact that 248 politicians in the House of Representatives were either too fucking stupid to learn from history or too fucking evil to care speaks volumes about where we're at as a country. Forget about whether its Obama or Romney that's going to destroy America... THIS is where we start to fall, and it's a bipartisan effort!

Though what passes for "freedom" these days has me wondering if I should bother being this upset.

It's been tough for me to keep up with my online life this week as I've been dealing with crushing headaches, but Anissa (one of my favorite people on earth) mentioned a YouTube video where a guy with family ties to a Catholic high school was asked to speak at graduation... but got subsequently un-invited when they found out he's gay. In his video response, the guy mentions that he was "found out" because people at the school saw photos on his Facebook page.

And so I tracked down Dominic Sheahan-Stahl's page where I was expecting to see images of him having gay sex in the middle of an elementary school playground during recess. But instead I found this...

Sheahan-Stahl Photo

Oh yes. We just gotta protect society from that.

We simply cannot have two happy people in a relationship. What kind of example would that be for the children?

I tell you what... most days I find myself thinking that dying at age 50 would be just about perfect. I've done more in my life than most people ever will, so that should be enough for me, shouldn't it?

But then I hear about stupid bullshit like this and find myself hoping I live to be 100 years old so I can look back at this period in history and just laugh my ass off at how stupid and backwards society was. I mean, seriously, who gives a shit whether this guy finds his happiness in life with sausage or taco? The only people who should care are people interested in his sausage.

While everybody else should just be concerning themselves with is what's in his heart...

What a shame. Sounds like this is exactly the kind of person you want speaking to a graduating class.

Anybody who has ever said "FREEDOM ISN'T FREE!" is absolutely right. We paid for our freedoms dearly, and continue to pay for them every day. Which is why it's always shocking to me how people can be so quick to just piss them away. Whether it's by supporting a society where people are not allowed to speak because of what genitals are on the person they love... or by supporting a government that would steal their freedoms away in plain sight.

I just don't get it.

Which is why I'm no going to exercise my freedom to post this blog entry... while I still can.

   

Guidebooks

Posted on Friday, April 27th, 2012

Dave!For years... decades, really... I've been collecting travel guides. Most of the time I would buy the old editions on sale when the new editions were released. The only thing that seemed to change were the hotel and restaurant listings, so it didn't make sense to pay full price for information I wasn't going to use. Because back then, actually getting to go to all these places was nothing more than a dream. I bought the books so I could pretend that I was planning a trip to exotic locations around the globe.

Then I stopped pretending and started actually going. Which is when my travel library came in handy.

But then the internet started taking over and I was referring to guidebooks less and less. And once the iPhone was unleashed, I had the entire internet in my pocket and stopped using physical travel guides altogether.

So why keep them?

Sentimental reasons, I guess. I look up at the bookshelf and it's a reminder of my travel dreams and all the places I want to go. But then this morning I actually started looking at them. Out of seventy-two books, only three of them were places I haven't yet been: Peru, India, and Cambodia...

World Map: Peru, India, Cambodia

There are plenty of other places I want to visit, but these are the three that are left staring down at me from the shelf. So I'm keeping them... for sentimental reasons, I guess... and throwing out the rest.

Hopefully one day I can visit Peru, India, and Cambodia so I can toss those books in the trash bin as well.

At which point I'll have to buy new books that I can aspire to throw out.

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Monster

Posted on Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Dave!Years ago I was wandering around a residential neighborhood in Osaka, Japan looking for a restaurant that was recommended to me. Far away from places that tourists might frequent, the natives were shocked and dismayed at this tall foreigner in their midst. I had been to Japan often enough that the double-takes, stares, and whispers didn't bother me anymore, but the feeling of "not belonging" was always there.

As I tried my best to navigate Japan's bizarre address system and find the building I was looking for, I ran across a young boy standing outside a small group of people. Not wanting to alarm anybody, I smiled at him and picked up my pace a bit so I could pass by. But escape wasn't so easy. Mouth agape, the boy asked if I was a "gai-jin" ("foreign person") as I approached.

All conversation by the group of people stopped immediately as they turned and looked at us. A couple of them had faces frozen in horror, as if I were going to eat the kid or something.

"Yes," I replied. "But I'm a friendly monster, so it's okay."

Hearing a foreigner speaking Japanese is usually cause for confusion. But once that wore off, a few smiles and guffaws escaped the crowd. Then a 20-something man piped up in his wonderful Japanese directness and asked "Why are you here?"

"I am looking for a restaurant," I said, as I held out a slip of paper with the address written on it.

After a quick look, the man replied "It's there!" and pointed across the street, one block down.

I thanked him for his help, retrieved the address with a slight bow, then started to walk down the street... only to have the man walk alongside. Apparently he decided to accompany me to my destination and make sure I arrived safely. But that wasn't all. When I glanced behind me, I noticed that the entire group was following us. Albeit slowly... and at a distance.

It was a surprisingly uncomfortable situation but, fortunately, it didn't last long. A few minutes later we arrived, so I thanked the man again and said goodbye. Across the street, the group of people were waving at me, so I waved back with a quick bow and escaped into the restaurant.

After dinner I poked my head out to see if they had waited for me, but they were gone.

I guess even friendly monsters end up alone eventually.

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Bullet Sunday 276

Posted on Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Dave!Time to check your bandwidth, because a special All Video Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Punisher! President Obama once again killed it at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. I didn't think he could top his awesome performance last year, but he came really close. Except... was I the only one who kept seeing a skull shape when his shirt was eclipsed by the microphones? At first I thought that it was proof positive that he was, in fact, not a Secret Muslim... but instead a Secret Satan Worshipper! And then... then... it came to me. it's not Satan... it's The Punisher!

President Obama is the Punisher

If only.

I may not always agree with his politics, but I really do like our president. He's a good guy doing a tough job the best way he knows how... all while under constant attack by people who have no respect for his office or our country. If you haven't seen his speech, it's pretty damn funny and well worth watching...

   
• Election! I don't think there's any question that Mitt Romney will most definitely not be getting my vote. What is in question is whether or not President Obama will get my vote. Right now, I honestly don't know. If he starts caving on things like CISPA and equality, I have no problem with a write-in vote like I've done before when both candidates suck. Otherwise, it's kind of his vote to lose. All that being said, I am kind of enjoying Obama's latest round of ads: "Mitt Romney vs. Reality" where he takes his old footage to address Romney's bullshit pandering. Genius. Romney comes off looking either uninformed or a liar, while Obama dings him without going negative...

It will be interesting to see where Romney's campaign goes now that he's running for president instead of candidacy. Because, I gotta say, his ads always seem more embarrassing than informative or compelling. The guy is so awkward and detached that his every appearance seems to be a reason why he shouldn't be president. He needs an ad team that can work this out... fast.

   
• Houdini! I stopped watching MTV a long time ago. They used to be all about music, but now all they give a crap about is stupid shit like Jersey Shore which I wouldn't watch if my life depended on it. The upshot being that I don't see many music videos anymore. Not that it's a big loss... most music videos suck ass these days. But I do follow Foster the People, and their latest video for my favorite song (Houdini) off their last album (Torches) is really good...

Creative, funny, well-executed, and fitting to the song. Doesn't get much better than that.

   
• Old! A year ago, somebody asked a question that has been burning up the internet this past week... "What are the Windows A: and B: drives used for?" Since I was around when computers went consumer mainstream, I remember all too well about things like modems, data cassettes, BBSs, and yes... floppy disks for your A: and/or B: drive. I also remember VHS tape, Pong, record players, and... heaven help me... rotary telephones...

It's not that I feel particularly old over it all... the technological advances over the past 30 years have been astoundingly fast... it's what we're in for over the next 30 years. Just as the iPhone bears -zero- resemblance to the rotary phone, I'd imagine the "phone" of the future will be an even bigger departure from iPhone. It's at that point that I really start to feel my age. Oh well. I honestly think that the limitations that my generation had to put up with from technology made it more fun than the sheer magic we get from technology today, so there's that*.

   
• Ridley! When it comes to movies this year, I'd have thought it would be impossible to top my excitement for The Avengers, but Ridley Scott's offering, Prometheus, does exactly that. The new international trailer has me aching for a good science fiction movie...

June 8th can't get here fast enough.

   
And now I suppose it's time to put away YouTube so I can get some real work done.

   

*Oh who am I kidding? I would have killed to have had an iPhone back in the 80's, and everybody knows it.

   

89¢

Posted on Monday, April 30th, 2012

Dave!This is one of those times where every cent of my paycheck was already spoken for.

Which would usually be upsetting, but it's a direct result of spending a week goofing off in Europe after having just gotten back from two weeks vacation, so I'm perfectly okay with it.

Even so, you can imagine my excitement as I was rearranging books on my shelves only to have a 1000 Korean Won note fell to the floor. It had apparently been used as a bookmark. Or maybe I just stuck it between some books because it was pretty and I wanted to flatten it out for a souvenir...

Won 1000

However it got there, the only thing running through my mind now was... MONEY!

But how much? Maybe $20... probably more like $10... but wouldn't it be cool if it was $100? I had no idea, so I rushed to fire up a currency conversion app on my iPhone.

Only to discover that 1000 Won is 89¢ in US money. Which, coincidentally enough, is almost exactly the same as when I was last in Seoul back in September 2004. That's not as good as the $1.10 I would have gotten in November of 2007... but certainly not as bad as the 64¢ I would have got back in March of 2009.

In any event, whether it's $1.10 or 89¢ or 64¢, that doesn't do much for my cash on hand. Especially once exchange fees are paid.

Thank heavens for credit cards, because it's time to shop.

With the exception of grocery stores, it's getting to the point where I rarely shop at brick-n-mortar stores any more. Everything I need to buy is purchased off the internets. But I got a $10 coupon back when I paid for my eye exam at Shopko (where everything is always on sale!) and it's expiring today, so I decided to stop in and see if I could spend the $50 required to use my coupon. Sure I'm poor just now, but you gotta spend money to save money!

I ended up buying new bed sheets (on sale!) and a PUR water filtration pitcher (on sale!). This was just enough to get my $10 savings, so I was pretty happy.

Until...

Just for kicks, I checked pricing when I got home... only to find that even with the $10 coupon, I ended up paying $1.30 more than if I had bought online (and that includes shipping!). Add in money for gas and my time and I definitely lost-out on the deal.

Oh well. Live and learn.

But I'm pretty sure I learned that already.

   

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