Posted on Thursday, January 25th, 2007
You would think that I would be due some good karma after all the crap that I've been through this week.
You would be wrong.
It seems that karma isn't done raining shit on me just yet, which is always a good sign just as you are about to leave the country. It's at times like this that you start thinking of "mechanical difficulties" happening over the Atlantic and having to land in Greenland or something. Not that I'm badmouthing Greenland... I'm sure it's a perfectly lovely place in the middle of winter... it's just that I'm not ready to visit there yet.
Take arriving at my hotel, for instance. If you were forced to choose one, which of the following horror stories would you least want waiting for you...
With nothing better to do, I decide to go to the mall and get my hair cut. That's when I notice a brand new Johnny Rockets has opened up at the food court. My favorite restaurant! I love Johnny Rockets! But it's me we're talking about, so guess what happens...
Yeah, it's D again. Why would you serve somebody a burnt bun with their hamburger? It's insane. Just throw the shit away... don't ruin a customer's dinner over something that costs 25¢! I have eaten at Johnny Rockets all around the country (and once when they had them in Japan) and have never had a bad meal until today.
At this point, I was terrified to get my hair cut. What else was going to happen? Would they accidentally stab me in the eye with the scissors? Would they scalp me a bald patch on the back of my head? What? Turns out it was none of those things. They somehow managed to cut my hair without inflicting any major damage.
Not wanting to press my luck, I decide to go buy me a new iPod Shuffle Clip and call it a night. I really wanted to buy a new "regular" iPod, but I'm waiting for them to add a bigger screen so I can watch videos. In the meanwhile, I'm perfectly happy with a new Shuffle. I think "cute" is the word that best describes it... and you just can't prepare yourself for how tiny it is... it's shorter than a jumbo paperclip!
Here's hoping things start looking up for me in the morning.
Posted on Friday, January 26th, 2007
The down-side of living on the West Coast is that the East Coast is 4-1/2 hours away. So any trip to Europe for us automatically adds at least 6 hours once layovers are factored in. The lucky news for me is that NWA airline partner Continental Airlines flies a Seattle — Newark &mdash Cologne route that works out really great if Cologne, Germany happens to be your destination (which mine is).
The bad news is, of course, that you have to stop off in Newark.
Now, before anybody jumps to the conclusion that I am slamming New Jersey, nothing could be further from the truth... I like The Garden State just fine. I just loathe Newark International because their internet service sucks donkey. Naturally, you have to pay for it. So on top of being shitty, almost unusable internet access, you pay through the ass to use it. I f#@%ing hate that shit.
As we landed, I stared across longingly at the New York City skyline and toyed with the idea of catching a taxi, running into the city for a bagel, then rushing back the the airport (hopefully) in time to catch my flight. But the idea of missing my flight and being stuck at Newark was enough to kill that thought real quick.
The nice part about the 4-1/2 hours of airplane travel is that I had time to be completely mesmerized by Barack Obama's book... The Audacity of Hope. Despite the title, the book is kind of depressing. Not because of the content, which is absolutely brilliant, but because Obama is such a tease. He teases us with a future that is all at once hopeful, exciting, wondrous, and so very achievable... yet sadly out of reach given today's political climate. Even if we were lucky enough to have this amazing man as our president, I shudder at the battle he would have to face (against Democrats and Republicans alike) to set us on such a path. I ache for a leader as described in this book... willing to dismiss absolutes and focus on a world of give-and-take for the benefit of all our citizens. But compromise is such a dirty word in politics today, and part of me dies inside knowing that the audacity to hope is more like an audacity to dream.
But revolutions do happen from time to time.
Please let this be our time.
I am not looking forward to the next 8 hours of airplane travel time. For some reason I am feeling a bit queazy, and not at all in a mood to fly again. Hopefully I can get a little bit of sleep, but the cruel reality is that it ain't going to happen. In all these years of travel, I have not yet learned how to sleep on a plane.
Wouldn't it be cool if they would give you a shot to knock you out for the flight, then another to wake you up when you land? I think I've seen The Fifth Element too many times...
Posted on Saturday, January 27th, 2007
Because I have friends in the city, I've been to Köln (Cologne) here in Germany many times. This has its benefits. I know where everything is, I know how to get around, that kind of thing. But, like with any city I visit that I am already familiar with, I try to find new things to see and do to keep things fresh.
Naturally, I've been to the Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) on previous visits. It's a major landmark for the city and pretty impressive. But I've seen it all before. I've studied the architecture, gaped at the stunning artworks, and marveled at the tiled floor with all those cool mosaics...
Herr Knight Sweetcheeks.
But what I haven't done is climb the spire. There are numerous reasons for this, but I'll narrow it down to the top five...
But every time I pass on the opportunity, I always regret it on the way home. So this time I decided to throw caution to the wind and just do it. Finally I'll be able to say "I climbed this bitch!" when I see a picture of the cathedral or accost hapless tourists on the streets of Cologne.
525 feet (160 meters) of sheer terror!
Yeah, well, I climbed this bitch, but I was stupid, stupid, stupid to do it. Not only was the climb completely terrifying, but I think I am dead. The good news is that my legs are so pumped now that I could probably jump over the cathedral in a single bound. The view from the top is pretty spectacular though (once you stop crying for your mommy long enough to take a look around)...
Oooh, look! Tiny people in that other tower! I'll have to climb that one next time (not).
After I managed to keep from vomiting on the way down, I decided to torture myself at the Hard Rock Cafe. For some reason, German HRCs have terrible service... but I can never figure out why. The staff is always friendly and running around, so it's not like they sit on their asses. Maybe they're just really over-extended? On the up-side, Cologne is better than Berlin, which has given me the worst service of any Hard Rock world-wide (I was seriously considering lighting myself on fire there once after waiting 45 minutes to get my check... all in the hopes that the flames would finally get somebody's attention).
Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?
Sure enough, it took a half hour to get an order of potato skins (no bacon) and 20 minutes to get a Pepsi refill. When I handed over my credit card, I fully expected that I wouldn't see my server for another 20 minutes. I was thrown into shock when she returned after only 10. Total time for an appetizer order and two glasses of Pepsi... 1 hour, 17 minutes. I timed it. Only about 10 minutes of which was spent eating.
I could have ordered dessert at the Hard Rock, but I didn't have another hour to kill because I wanted to hit a few museums. So instead I stopped off to have a SNACK WAFFLE!!
Not as good as the waffles at the Eiffel Tower, but still delicious!
After lunch, it was museum-time. I first went to the brilliant Wallraf-Richartz Museum to see if they had a special event showing but, sadly, the answer was NEIN! That's okay though, because the third floor alone is always worth the price of admission. They have some sweet impressionist and post-impressionist works I love, including a Monet that's terrific. In the paintings I've seen where Monet is capturing fog or snow, he uses pastels for shading instead of gray. The effect is quite beautiful, and looks different depending on how close you are to this foggy scene...
A similarly-styled painting that Monet painted of snow in Giverny hangs in New Orleans.
Then I was off to one of the best modern art museums on the planet... The Ludwig Museum... which was amazing, as always. This time was really cool though, because they had a mind-blowing Paul Klee event, filled with bunches of his pencil drawings and pre-painting study sketches. After looking at really cool art crap for two hours, I exited the museum and saw a group of people walk by dressed as pirates. That's when I remembered there was a Lego store over on Hohe Straße, so I thought I might check to see if they had any pirate Lego in stock. No pirates, but they did have viking Lego, which is pretty sweet.
By now it was approaching 6:00 and was starting to rain so I decided to call it a day (8 hours of constant walking and climbing on no sleep is pretty harsh). Oh yeah... I have to be up for work early in the morning too, so I figure I had best take my exhausted ass back to the hotel for an aspirin and sleep.
Looking back at Kölner Dom from the roof of the Ludwig Museum... I climbed this bitch!
Holy crap do my legs hurt. I hope I can get out of bed in the morning.
* Remind me to tell the story of nearly being pushed into The Grand Canyon because of a group of eager German tourists. These people are totally fearless when it comes to heights so, naturally, they scare the crap out of me.
Posted on Sunday, January 28th, 2007
Bullet Point Sunday will have to wait (Bullet Point Monday?) because there's important stuff going on!
Every year Cologne hosts one of the largest candy shows on the face of the planet (called "ISM") which is a fascinating place to spend a day. There's hundreds of candy makers from around the world showing their latest creations and tempting you with handfuls of free samples. Some of the candies are deliciously familiar... others not so much.
My favorite candies are those that are just bizarre... either by concept or creation. There's candy made from insects. There's candy made from vegetables. There's candy made from gold (yes, real gold!). There's even candy that's made from Jack Daniels!
The show is so massive that I could spend an entire week blogging about it. Since my attention span is quite short, I'll just show a few highlights instead...
It's not just the candy that's sweet at the show... it's the samples. High-end chocolates that would cost you major bank to buy can be sampled free! Even better, they are often served up by total babes. There's not many things better than having beautiful women give you candy all day long. Sadly, there are people who really take advantage of this. The worst are those that bring a roller-suitcase, and grab handful after handful at every booth, stuffing their suitcase to overflowing without ever intending to buy anything.
Some of the major manufacturers have large booths that range from extravagant to clever. Fisherman's Friend (the throat lozenge guys) built a ship in the middle of their space that was way cool (they are also handing out colorful bags to everybody, which is really smart... their name is everywhere here now).
First you find candy that says "hello" to you, then you turn a corner and see candy giving you the finger.
Chocolate is, of course, everywhere. One booth hired a guy to carve statues out of chocolate. Another booth built a chocolate waterfall. One booth even has a chocolate volcano. Except there's a guy out front telling everybody "no pictures! no pictures!" To which I can only say WTF? I mean, why are you here if you aren't wanting people to get excited about your company? I took a picture anyway because I thought this was pretty stupid but, since they don't seem to want the publicity, I deleted it once I got back to my hotel.
Candy for Bad Monkey! Banana candy isn't seen much in the USA, but it seems to be popping up everywhere else. I found some chocolate-covered banana marshmallows that were tasty (even if they do look like little turds).
Some candy is just strange. I saw some "Russian Roulette" candy which featured a box filled with a bunch of delicious flavors... and one "bad" flavor. Since the candies aren't marked, you are literally playing Russian Roulette with the candy "bullets"... trying to avoid the piece that tastes like crap. And of course there was ass candy. You can't have a candy show without ass-pops.
Familiar faces show up from time to time... Hello Kitty is everywhere. Other characters are not so familiar (and kind of odd)... like Trolli's "Glotzer" gummy eye-ball guy (who I think is pretty nifty).
I thought this company had the right attitude. And cool packaging with their little "Munchy" guys.
Haribo had a kind of fashion show going on, where mannequins were dressed up in costumes made from their packaging. It's hard to see in this photo, but those are gold Gummi-Worm packages, and she has the candy worms in her hair. Awesome! I was rather shocked when Sexual Harassment Panda showed up... only to learn that it wasn't Sexual Harassment Panda after all... these guys are mascots for Panda licorice, which is a candy company in Finland.
EXTERMINATE! EX-TER-MIN-ATE! Apparently the Daleks have their own candy. I'm afraid to eat it though, because it could be just another plan to conquer the universe. And speaking of universal domination, the Haribo kid kind of looks like me. But he hangs out with a friendly giant golden bear instead of a bad-ass Bad Monkey, so I think Lil' Dave could take him in a fight.
And now, if you'll excuse me, some of the Belgian booths are cooking up fresh waffles(!) for sampling, and I mean to get me some. Then it's off to Scotland, because I loves me the Walker's Shortbread.
I sure hope I don't end up with a stomach ache tonight...
Posted on Monday, January 29th, 2007
Due to yesterday's breaking news from the floor of ISM, Bullet Point Sunday is on Monday today...
• Access... The internet is a wonderful thing because it lets you keep up with your life no matter where you go. The internet is also a terrible thing because it lets you keep up with your life no matter where you go. Just as I get done with stuff here, I then have to deal with stuff back home all night. It's as if the work-day never ends! This makes it very difficult to keep up with email (32 unanswered), blogs (343 entries unread), and news (108 stories to read). Remember the good old days when you could leave the country and forget about everything else? Hopefully tonight I will have a bit of time to get caught up.
• Fahrt... Two new photos for my fahrt collection!
It sounds funny because it's like "fart" with an "h"!
• Ambassador... The United States Ambassador to Germany was visiting companies in the USA Pavilion at ISM yesterday. Given all the things he must have on his plate, it was a very generous use of his time. In addition to saying hello, he was also accepting boxes of candies and other goodies to give to injured soldiers at Landstuhl Hospital here in Germany (it's the largest American hospital outside of the US, and many wounded end up there). While the Ambassador was talking with people far more important than me, I had the opportunity to speak with a woman from his office. She tells me that most injured soldiers are flown out of the war-zone with only the clothes on their backs, and arrive at the hospital with nothing. I got an address of the Chaplain's office where stuff can be sent...
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center
ATTN: MCEUL-CH/Chaplains Office
CMR 402 - APO AE 09180
They can only accept NEW items, and are in need of sweat-suits (all sizes), gym bags, and international calling cards. Of course, letters and get-well cards are always welcome. Looks like I have something new to do when I get back home.
• Clockless... Why is it that most of the hotels I visit in Europe don't have alarm clocks? I find myself freaking out each morning because I don't know what time it is.
• for Jenny... Jenny had asked if Peeps were at ISM, so I went to get some Peeps scoop. Turns out that the big news out of Peep-land is that Peeps are now available in GREEN! The new green is replacing white Peeps, which have been discontinued. I remarked that this was probably a good idea because green Peeps are more fun that boring-ass white Peeps, but was told that the white ones will probably still be missed because they are popular at weddings...
We be ready for St. Patrick's Day, bitches!
• Panties... My hotel room here in Cologne doesn't have the best of views. I'm not overlooking the cathedral or having a view of the Rhine River or anything. What I DO overlook is an apartment building. An apartment building that has a woman who very much likes walking around her home wearing nothing but a bra and a pair of panties. Ordinarily, this could be a good thing, but I think she must be like 90 years old or something, so it's actually kind of freaky.
• Screamer... Why is it that when English-speaking persons are talking to somebody whose English skills are not that great, THEY FEEL THAT YELLING AND TALKING LOUDLY MAKES THEM MORE EASILY UNDERSTOOD?!? It drives me nuts, and I don't understand the logic... yet I see it everywhere.
• Scary... As beautiful as Kölner Dom is, I can't help but note that it is positively terrifying at night. Kind of like a scary haunted castle or something...
Welcome to Count Dracula's Summer Home.
• Redux... Last night I was going to have dinner at a little pizza restaurant I like, but they had the doors locked for some reason (even though there were people inside). I was kind of craving some Twisted Mac & Cheese from the Hard Rock, so I decided to give them a second chance. Service was much better this time around. 4 minutes to get my Pepsi. 17 minutes to get my Mac & Cheese. 7 minutes to get my Pepsi refill. 5 minutes to get my bill settled. In other words, it was a typical Hard Rock experience for me with the good service and good food I've come to expect. I have no idea why it would be otherwise for my other visits, but am glad to know it does work from time to time.
• Sexy... Today I found out that Cologne is the only city in Germany that actively taxes prostitutes. No... no... no... no... i did NOT learn this from personal experience... I overheard it in the hotel lobby. Interestingly enough, Wikipedia has an entire page devoted to Prostitution in Germany, where I was able to verify this.
And now that I've spent my 15-minute lunch-break blogging, I guess it's time to get back to work.
Posted on Tuesday, January 30th, 2007
Yesterday afternoon as I was walking back through the ISM show, I had to save some poor young woman from getting trampled by an anxious group of guys in suits who had just gotten off the escalator. When I helped her steady herself, I noticed that she was pregnant and quite upset. Who could blame her. After guiding her away from the crowds, I asked if she was okay, which only seemed to confuse her. I tried again with my terrible German skills, which made her laugh (hopefully "Bist du gutes? Ja?" isn't something horribly offensive). She then said "thank you" (in English) and was gone. Just my luck she wasn't German at all, and I offered to milk her goat in her native tongue or something.
I have been gravely disappointed that there haven't been many monkey candies at the ISM show this year. Usually, there are several companies with monkeys on their packaging, but there's been a drought this time around. Until I found a chocolates company called "Most" who has some beautiful packaging with monkeys on it...
"Do you love your monkey or do you love me? Why can't you set your monkey free?"
Speaking of beautiful, there are many great things about Germany, but I think mayonnaise in a tube has got to be at the top of the list...
Great chocolate is probably on the list too. The other day I headed back to my hotel early so I could try and solve some kind of networking problem I was having (smearing mayonnaise on my PowerBook didn't seem to help). But when I got there, the problem had mysteriously disappeared (mayo rules!), leaving me with a free hour on my hands while I waited for my dinner meeting. I decided to walk along the Rhine for a bit until I ran across Schokoladenmuseum (Chocolate Museum). Since I had never been inside, I decided to take a look...
Awwwww.... cute! Little Pink Coat Girl was running around in circles!
My favorite part would have to be the big chocolate fountain. As I approached, a woman was dipping waffle sticks in the warm chocolate and passing them around. Needless to say, it was fantastic. I could have easily skipped dinner and ate chocolatey waffles all night long.
This would look totally awesome my living room.
Inside the museum is a working chocolate factory sponsored by Lindt. They make all kinds of stuff, including these nifty molded chocolates...
That is one big cock and pussy! They're as big as a grizzly bear!
The museum is built in such a way that you can view the process from every angle, even from above...
Screaming "DOES ANYBODY KNOW WHERE I CAN GET SOME F#@%ING CHOCOLATE?!?" is apparently not funny.
The factory section is beautifully located on the Rhine River, overlooking the riverboats and the cathedral...
"Hey baby, waffles aren't the only thing that taste good when dipped in chocolate!"
The German language is great. The best thing about it is that Germans are happy to smoosh a whole bunch of words together to make new words (one of my favorites being "Fahrgastausstiegswunschtaste" which is the button you push on a bus when you want to exit... I think there's got to be four or five words in there!). Sometimes you'll see words so long that your brain explodes trying to decipher it. I also like how German is so strangely familiar to me, despite the fact that I haven't studied it in years. It doesn't take a dictionary to figure out that this sign is saying "The third floor is closed for remodeling, thank you for your understanding" (or something like that)...
NOOOOOOOOO! That's probably where they keep the Oompa Loompas!
The museum also features a small greenhouse so people can see actual chocolate plants growing. It's more impressive when viewed from the outside though...
"Cocoa plants? Suuuuuuurrre that's all you grow in your greenhouse..."
And that's the Schokoladenmuseum. Worth a look if you happen to be visiting Cologne.
Now, if all goes as planned, I'll be leaving the country this afternoon for a few days vacation...
Posted on Wednesday, January 31st, 2007
For an art museum whore like myself, Madrid is a dream come true.
There are several major museums within the city, and a dozen more minor ones that are brilliant in their own right. With this in mind, I have long wanted to visit Madrid, and it was on the top of my list of places to escape to after my work was finished in Cologne. Fortunately, the city is served by the ever-cheap and wonderful GermanWings airline, so off I went...
"Could somebody wipe this bird crap off my forehead?"
Anybody wanting to tag along for a very busy day of goofing around in Madrid can read about it in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Thursday, February 1st, 2007
I had set a wake-up call for 6:00am with the intention of getting up with the sunrise and seeing a bit more of Madrid at dawn. Yesterday I had noticed that the light was really nice in the morning, and intended to take advantage of it.
Yeah, like that was going to happen. I was so totally dead from miles of walking yesterday that I barely made it out the door for my 10:00 shuttle to the airport.
After an uneventful 1-hour plane ride (assuming sitting behind a smelly, smelly man during the flight and then having to wait 50 minutes for my luggage counts as "uneventful"), here I am in Lisbon, another city I've never been to before. Since it was lunchtime when I got to my hotel, I tossed my luggage in the closet and headed out to the Hard Rock Cafe...
Turns out this is a fantastic dual-level property with really interesting architecture and an incredible amount of memorabilia stacked from floor to ceiling...
In recognition for their awesomeness in winning "World-Wide Cafe of the Month" back in November, Lisbon has the honor of getting to display an original Jimi Hendrix guitar from his appearance on the Dick Cavett Show in 1969 (previous months were won by Buenos Aires, Lake Tahoe, Dublin, Houston, and Kowloon cafes)...
With plenty of daylight left, I decided to take a walk down to the Tagus River and see the sights. One thing you tend to notice quite quickly is that the sidewalks here in Lisbon are made from beautiful stone mosaic patterns, some of which are quite ornate. I guess when you live here, it's easy to take the sidewalks for granted, but I found myself looking down just as often as up...
The city of Lisbon itself is quite nice. It has a very different "feel" to it from other European cities. Almost Caribbean or something... it's very strange, but in a good way. About the only thing that wasn't pleasant is being pestered every fifteen minutes to buy some sunglasses (Armani! Very beautiful!) or other imitation crap. But that wasn't nearly as exciting as being offered some hash every ten minutes (Hashish! Good hash!). Though all of that pales when compared to some guy who came up to me with a Canon EOS camera in a paper sack...
GUY: Want to buy camera? Very good price!
DAVE: Uhhhh... nope, I'm good.
GUY: Are you sure?
DAVE: Sure I don't want to buy an obviously stolen camera? Yes, I'm quite sure.
GUY: But I give you very good price!
Oddly enough, I was just thinking about how I wish I had my own Canon EOS Rebel with me. I left it back home because I had loads of crap to haul over for work and didn't want to bother with it. Still, my little pocket camera takes some pretty good shots...
Living the jet-set lifestyle like I do (ha!) can make for some strange interactions with people back home. Mostly because nobody is ever really sure of where you are or what you are doing. Like Bad Robert, who just called me as I was writing this entry...
DAVE: (answering phone) Hello?
ROBERT: Dude, I need to get my car to the shop. Can you bring me back home so I don't have to sit there all day?
DAVE: Dude, I'm in Lisbon.
ROBERT: Can you drop by after you're done?
DAVE: I'm in PORTUGAL... I won't be back until Sunday.
ROBERT: (dramatic pause) Oh. I thought you meant like the restaurant.
ROBERT: So how are things in Lisbon.
DAVE: Pretty good so far. I've only been here for four hours.
ROBERT: Ah. Hey... do you wanna know what Ben did to his car?
DAVE: Is it worth the dollar-a-minute this phone call is costing me to find out?
ROBERT: Uh... probably not. Oooh! Call me when you get back! I need to tell you about my new air horn!
And so it goes...
I haven't a clue what I'm going to be doing tonight. About the only things I can be sure I WON'T be doing is this...
Because the only way I could sit through The Sound of Music would be if I was doped up on hash.
Hey! Wait a minute... I might just have plans for tonight after all...
Posted on Friday, February 2nd, 2007
Lisbon is a remarkable city and I absolutely love it here. Which is why it's strange that today I got the idea to create "The International Directory of Assholes" book. But more on that later.
My day began when I took a walk through the Alfama. This is the oldest district of Lisbon, home to winding little streets and clustered houses that spill down the slope of a large hill. And at the top of the hill is the Castle of São Jorge, which is where my day of tourist wanderings began. It's not a very impressive castle, but the panoramic view of Lisbon from the top is pretty sweet...
Since I arrived early in the morning, I had the castle pretty much to myself, which was kind of nice...
As I walked down the hillside towards the river, I noted a number of churches along the way. The most famous being the "Sé"... which is fairly simple by European cathedral standards, but still worth a visit...
After I had worked my way out of the Alfama, I decided to take the bus along the shoreline to Belém. This is a district west of the city proper which is famous for being the place where many of the famous Portuguese explorers departed on their journeys (like Vasco da Gama). It is also home to one of Lisbon's most famous landmarks, "Monument to the Discoveries"...
All in all, there's 30 famous Portuguese historical figures running down both sides of the monument, each one remarkably detailed...
As you continue west, you'll eventually run across the Tower of Belém, which you can climb up and wander around. It was built to be fully-functional with canon armaments and such (despite its highly decorative nature)...
Backtracking along the other side of the roadway, I worked my way back to the Rua de Belém so I could drop by a pastry shop that's been selling little custard tarts for over 150 years called "Pastel de Belém." This is also the place you can visit the Archaeological Museum, the Maritime Museum, and the Jerónimos Monastery, which is pretty cool...
Inside, the roof of the Church of Santa Maria has a cool-looking spider-web design which is pretty slick...
Before leaving the Belém district, I was sure to stop at one of Lisbon's most popular tourist spots... The Coaches Museum. It's kind of an odd idea for a museum, but it is interesting to be able to see all the ornate craftsmanship that goes into these rolling works of art...
The remainder of my day (along with the reason for my new "assholes" book idea) can be found in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Saturday, February 3rd, 2007
So here I am in Germany again, awaiting my flight back to the USA tomorrow morning. It's a bit sad, because there always seems to be a dozen things that I would like to do in Europe every time I'm getting ready to leave it.
Though there is one thing that I will not mind leaving behind... the smoking. There's really no way to escape it and, since it seems like 99% of the people here love their cigarettes, there's not much that can be done about it. Sure many restaurants offer up a "no smoking section," but it's in name only. I can't tell you how many times I've been put in the "non-smoking section" only to have people light up at the very next table. Even at the Hard Rock, it turns out the "non-smoking section" usually ends up being just a few tables immediately next to the smoking area (which, let's be honest, is the entire restaurant).
An even better example could be found as I was waiting for my flight this morning. There I was sitting in Lisbon's airport which has signs posted saying "Lisbon Airport is Non-Smoking." But there are "smoker's kiosks" everywhere, and all the cafes and bars allow you to light up. Non of these areas are segregated or ventilated in any way, so this self-proclaimed "non-smoking airport" is filled with smoke...
By the time I boarded my flight, my clothes reeked of cigarettes so badly that you would think I had just smoked a pack prior to hopping on the plane. It's one thing to go to a bar where you are expecting people to smoke... but it always bothers me to be eating cigarette smoke with my meal or having to sit in a cloud of it while being held captive at the airport. It's been 15 years since I've smoked a cigarette... maybe I should start up again so it won't bother me so much next time?
Speaking of being held hostage...
Here at my hotel, I have three choices for internet access...
WTF?!? To use the internet in the comfort of your own hotel room, it's a minimum of $37.50. That's THIRTY-SEVEN DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS!! Holy shit! I could probably take a taxi into Cologne and get blown for that! It amazes me that Europe has such astoundingly high access fees AND puts limits on your bandwidth (as opposed to back home where many hotels offer free internet with no limits). I guess I won't be downloading any new television shows for the flight.
Oh well... my television here gets Comedy Central TV, so I'm going to watch Pamela Anderson in an episode of Stacked. Believe it or not, she's actually funny when dubbed in German.
Probably because I can't understand a word she's saying.
Bleh. I am not looking forward to a 9 hour flight, followed by an hour layover, followed by a 6 hour flight, followed by a 4 hour layover, followed by a 45 minute flight. That's almost 21 hours of total travel torture. When are we going to be able to beam ourselves from one place to another like on Star Trek?
Posted on Sunday, February 4th, 2007
It's Bullet Point Sunday at 30,000 feet as I fly cross-country for my layover in Seattle!
• Mouthy... Is there an over-abundance of loud-mouthed, obnoxious bitches in the world... or is it just my grave misfortune to be consistently seated in their vicinity during long plane flights? I had yet another one behind me for a lovely 9 hour flight out of Cologne. This woman talked CONTINUOUSLY, irritating the shit out of just about everybody. Fortunately, by the time she got to her rant about Mexico being a "dirty, disgusting, 3rd-world country that she won't visit," I was able to turn on my iPod. This saved her from my wrath, as I was just about to start screaming "SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UUUUUUUP!! But, alas, I couldn't resist being a smart-ass when she was in the lavatory...
And you know what? I don't even f#@%ing apologize for saying it. Screw her and her big mouth, because NOBODY wanted to hear it. All we wanted to do was have a peaceful flight under cramped, horrible conditions, and I don't think that's too much to ask. Read a book. Watch the movie. Listen to music. Do whatever the f#@% gets you through those nine hours... AS LONG AS IT ISN'T BUGGING THE CRAP OUT OF EVERYBODY ELSE! Because blathering loudly about stupid shit while people are trying to relax or sleep or work or whatever is just making you an inconsiderate asshole.
• Vistahahaha... And while I'm on the subject of people saying stupid shit... has Bill Gates started smoking crack? I've been catching up with my news feeds, and have no other explanation for his recent bizarre comments. I guess when you are on the defensive, you'll come up with all kinds of crazy stuff to explain why a product that took TEN YEARS to release is so lame compared to the competition.
• Overhead... I love it when some dumbass comes rolling on the plane with his full suitcase, briefcase, lunch bag, AND carry-on, then starts demanding that people take their stuff out of the overhead bins so he can fit in all his crap... "IS THIS YOURS? YOU CAN FIT THIS UNDER YOUR SEAT!! COME ON! THAT CAN FIT UNDER YOUR SEAT!!" Yeah, well f#@% you buddy, I check my luggage and carry on my one measly little knapsack so I can have the much-needed legroom. Why don't you shove your massive roller-bag up your ass... or, perhaps, check it at the ticket desk so people don't have to listen to your bullshit.
• Stamp... Since my previous passport expired, I had to get a new one. Once again I have noticed how other countries have passport control personnel who carefully stamp your entrance and exit neatly into the square boxes and in sequential order. Why in the hell do USA passport control people decide to skip ahead 3 pages, then stamp your passport outside the boxes in the middle of the f#@%ing page? That page is then rendered useless, which is why frequent travelers like me end up having to purchase extra pages for our passports. I mean, you are stamping passports all f#@%ing day long, and you haven't figured out how to make it fit in the box? On the up-side, I have to say that my entry into the USA via Newark International was one of the quickest, nicest, most courteous immigrations and customs checks I have ever had. Bravo to the people at Newark who obviously have their shit together (except when it comes to getting the stamp to fit in the box).
• Security... I wonder what the penalty is for bitch-slapping a TSA agent? I don't want to end up in jail or anything, but I am getting sick and tired of their idiotic behavior. "DO YOU HAVE A LAPTOP IN YOUR BAG SIR? YOU NEED TO REMOVE YOUR LAPTOP FROM YOUR BAG, REMOVE YOUR SHOES, THEN REMOVE YOUR JACKET!!" Uhhh... okay... let me get to the table first... "YOU NEED TO REMOVE YOUR LAPTOP FROM THE BAG NOW SIR TO AVOID HOLDING UP THE LINE!!" Yeah, well, there are six people ahead of me before I can get to the table, and I'm not talented enough to juggle my laptop, jacket, and knapsack while trying to remove my shoes at the same time. If you want me to do all that crap sooner, get a longer f#@%ing table and stop riding my ass over something that takes me 20 seconds ONCE I GET TO THE TABLE.
And here I am in Seattle where I can post my entry and then sit around for four hours while I wait for my final flight home. Extended layovers suck ass.
Posted on Friday, February 9th, 2007
Will somebody please give me a couple million dollars so I can stop working and travel the earth?
Because this morning I woke up and realized that I have never been to South America and started freaking out. Will I ever get to see Rio de Janeiro's Cristo Redentor before I die? Or the ruins at Machu Picchu? The Galapagos Islands? Iguazu Falls? Angel Falls? Or even Isla Margarita? I think that I would be very disappointed in whatever afterlife awaits if I didn't at least visit Lake Titicaca. Because when hanging out with your deceased friends, I'd imagine nothing would be a better conversation-starter than "Yeah, I did Titicaca."
Perhaps I am being greedy though. I've been lucky enough to have seen more of this planet than many people ever will. Shouldn't I be satisfied with that much?
Being the greedy bastard that I am, I'm fairly certain the answer is "no." Because no matter how much I see and do, there's always someplace new to explore...
And really, when I stop and think about it, South America is only the tip of the iceberg. There's a lot of holes on my map that need filling in. A lot of places that I would like to visit. A lot of new friends to make. A lot of life to experience.
Of course, it's entirely possible that I'm just freaking out because I woke up and discovered I was out of clean underwear. I ended up wearing swimming trunks under my pants today, and I'm pretty sure this can mess with your head.
But if somebody still wants to give me a couple million dollars, that would be great.
Posted on Sunday, March 4th, 2007
Unexpected travel plans have decided to invade my Sunday.
Ordinarily, this would be a good thing, because I could vent all my frustrations about air travel and have them neatly aligned in bullet points. But I don't feel like writing that, let along reading it, so perhaps it's time for Bullet Stories instead of Bullet Points? I dunno... maybe it's being stuck in a hotel room with nothing good on television that's making me all sentimental.
• The Brutality Reality.
Sometimes I like to pretend that I'm the kind of guy who likes to solve his problems with violence. The kind of brute-force, don't-bother-me-or-I'll-kill-you kind of man who simply refuses to put up with the stupidity of others.
When the people ahead of me in line for airport security don't bother to read the dozen signs telling them to remove any liquids and have their ID ready, I bitch-slap their stupid asses and push my way through. When the man sitting behind me on the plane won't shut up and keeps bumping my seat, I turn around and punch him in the face. When a bitch tries to cut in front of me as we disembark the aircraft, I kick her rude ass to the floor then walk over the top of her. When some sandwich-eating hippie keeps dropping sprouts onto the floor at baggage claim, I push his face to the floor and make him lick it up, then laugh as he runs off crying with a bloody nose. When my luggage doesn't show up for 30 minutes and then appears on the wrong carousel, I climb through the luggage corridor and start beating random people with my suitcase. As I strut out of the airport, I'm secure in the knowledge that I am a total bad-ass who doesn't take shit from anybody...
...at least until I put on some lip balm to protect myself from those chaffing Chicago winds and call my mommy to let her know that I have arrived safely. Suddenly reality comes crashing down as I'm crying about how I'm tired and my tummy aches and people are mean and I couldn't find my suitcase and I wish I were home in bed. But then mommy tells me everything is going to be okay now, at which time I can go back to pretending I'm one tough bastard again.
• Flexible for Money.
When you were a kid, do you remember when you dropped a coin that rolled under the table how you didn't even think about what to do... you simply threw yourself to the ground and went crawling after your money? It didn't matter if it was just a nickel or even a penny, you chased after that shit.
And now, as you grow older, do you notice how the value of the dropped coin you're willing to chase after keeps getting bigger and bigger? At one point you stopped crawling after pennies because, after all, it was just a penny. Soon after, nickels weren't worth bending over for. In no time at all, dimes are more trouble than they're worth. With age comes the realization that the time, effort, and energy required to retrieve dropped money requires careful calculation. Is the quarter that just fell out of your pocket worth the risk of straining your back while bending over to pick it up? What can you get with a quarter now-a-days anyway?
Today I dropped a dollar bill while pulling my iPod out of my pocket. As I stood there watching my money gently tumbling down the sidewalk in the breeze, it then occurred to me that I must be an old man now because I had no desire to go after it. Then suddenly, in a desperate bid to reclaim my childhood, I went chasing after my dollar. Just as I bent over to pick it up, my $180 Oakley sunglasses (one of those ridiculously expensive purchases you try not to regret) fell out of my jacket pocket and got a nice scratch on the lens. Standing there with a dollar in one hand and my ruined sunglasses in the other, I threw the dollar bill into the air and walked away having learned a valuable lesson.
Sometimes you've just got to tell your inner-child to go fuck themselves.
• The Mac Club.
It used to be that traveling with a Macintosh PowerBook put you into an elite club. You see another Mac user sitting across the aisle and would share a smirk of superiority that instantly bonded you with a total stranger. Your Mac made you special, and it was something only another Mac user could appreciate. These moments of brotherhood were a rare event to be treasured, and being a member of The Mac Club made you a better person (if only in your own mind).
Except now Macs are everywhere. As you sit in the airport looking around, nearly half of the computers have that familiar glowing Apple logo staring back at you. The Mac Club's power came from its exclusivity, and those days are fading fast. Despite your joy at the Mac's new-found popularity, you aren't feeling as special as you once did.
But then you turn on your PowerBook, see that a few people have left comments on your blog, and suddenly find yourself feeling more special than a silly old machine could ever make you feel.
• A Real Conversation.
It occurred to me this afternoon as I was ordering my veggie burger at Johnny Rockets, that talking to my waiter was about the only conversation I've had all day. I checked in for my flight this morning at a self-service kiosk. I arrived at my hotel for check-in and got my room key from another kiosk. I got my cash from an ATM. I set up my appointments via a website. I bought my CTA train pass at yet another kiosk. I traveled 2/3 the distance of these continental United States and my only interaction with a human all day was to say "I'll have a Coke please" to the cabin steward on the plane. After dinner I went to see the movie Norbit, purchased my theater ticket from still another self-service kiosk, and proceeded to get more than a little depressed about it all. People simply don't interact with each other much anymore.
At the end of the night I decided to take an expensive taxi back to my airport hotel instead of a cheap (but long) ride on the Blue Line. Thinking I'd try to put a halt to the world's effort at insulating me from humanity, I struck up a conversation with my cab driver. As the discussion goes on, I am so thrilled to be talking to somebody... to really be talking to somebody... that I almost had him circle the airport a few times before dropping me at the hotel.
With more gratitude than he can know, I hand over my fare and a generous tip to the driver. I wish him a good night and, unlike so many times I've said it to strangers, this time I really mean it.
Posted on Monday, March 5th, 2007
I didn't get any sleep last night, so after my morning meeting I decided to catch up on some shut-eyet back at the hotel. This was a pipe dream, however, because housekeeping service was ramming their noisy vacuum into every wall, door, and piece of furniture on my floor.
Eventually I gave up on sleep and decided to head into the city.
Fortunately, it was another beautiful day in Chicago, with blue skies (tempered by freezing winds). This was a nice follow-up to the weather last night when the skies were clear, and the full moon looked amazing hanging over the river...
I hadn't been to The Shedd Aquarium in ages, and decided to pay a visit. After the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan in Japan, it's one of my most favorite fishy places...
But The Shedd offers plenty more than just fish. My most-beloved creatures on earth are lizards and frogs, which are nicely represented in various exhibits...
I also like snakes, and there were some exotic species hanging out at The Shedd, like these two guys who look like they're sleeping in a tree...
They also have otters, seals, a beluga whale, and even a penguins exhibit...
The theming of the various exhibits is lush and fun to look at, but the stars of the show are definitely the creatures who inhabit the place. My favorite this time around was a cool frog who was just chilling out in the water and watching people walk by...
After blowing over two hours at the aquarium, I decided to get some new footwear. My last four pairs of shoes were bought at NikeTown Chicago, so I didn't think there was any reason to break that tradition for my new pair. Fortunately, they had the shoes I wanted, and all I had to do was wait for them to be brought up. While I was waiting, a woman and her high school-aged son came wandering by. The son was interested in a limited edition pair of Nike GOLD Air Force One shoes. They come with 24k gold-plated tips on the laces, and a gold-plated belt-buckle and keychain to match...
I wouldn't wear them, but the kid wanted them. Even once he found out that they carried a $2000 price tag.
And here's the kicker... HE BOUGHT THEM!
The mother's question was "what you want with a pair of $2000 shoes? That's a mortgage payment! But it's your money, so I'm just going to sit down over here and be quiet while you spend it."
MY question would have been "where the f#@% does a high school student get $2000 to spend on shoes?"
Once I had purchased my far, far cheaper shoes, I met up with some friends who drove down from Kenosha to have dinner with me and wander down the Magnificent Mile for a while. I ate entirely too much, so now I'm taking some Pepto Bismol and going to bed.
And thus ends my last day in the Windy City.
Now that I think about it, I really should have went back and bought a pair of $2000 gold-plated shoes so I could be all cool at TequilaCon. Of course, that would just ensure that they would get soaked in beer or puked on, so maybe it's for the best I didn't.
Posted on Thursday, March 8th, 2007
Last night I was flipping though channels and landed on the CW Network which was airing a "Pussycat Dolls: The Search for a New Pussy" reality show. I kept watching expecting to see hottie potential Pussies shaking their asses in some kind of competition... but instead was treated to a girl blowing chunks in the toilet. WTF? If I wanted this kind of action, I'd go buy a Girls Gone Wild video where I could see me some nudity with my puking!
Blargh. I miss Veronica Mars already (which is on hiatus until sometime in April).
Back on Sunday when I was in Chicago all bored and alone in my hotel room, Hilly (whom I love more than chocolate pudding) was kind enough to "keep me company" via email as I hammered away on my blog entry for the day. Eventually our conversation turned to the upcoming TequilaCon this weekend, and how much we were looking forward to the event. Though my trip is not coming together exactly as I had planned, I am still excited that I can go...
This got me to thinking about all the bloggers I've met in person, and how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to do so. While meeting bloggers in real-life has never been a disappointment, it has always been different. That's what makes everything so much fun...
That's The Kennedy School Bar and Hotel in northern Portland. If I sense your essence, I'll be sure to give you a astral high-five and buy you an out-of-body drink. But please don't drink and astrally-project home! You're more than welcome to crash your higher being in my room so long as you behave yourself (no spirit-fingering my ass in the middle of the night).
Hmmm... I should probably get some more sleep this morning so I'll have the energy to pack a suitcase after work tonight. I wonder how many pair of underwear I'll be needing for the weekend? I think I'll pack a dozen just to be safe.
Posted on Friday, March 9th, 2007
With an hour before my connecting flight to Portland, I decide to grab something to eat. Wandering down the D Concourse of SeaTac, I spot a bagel shop and decide that sounds like a great lunch. I was, of course, wrong. While the "bagel" was bread-like and had a hole in the middle, it could hardly be called a bagel. For the millionth time I wonder why shit like this can legally be called a bagel when, in fact, it is not. There are no bagels outside of New York City.
After choking down as much of my "bagel" as I can manage, I'm off to find a restroom. I don't actually have to go, but figure I would go anyway as a precautionary measure. The last thing I want to do is walk up to Hilly in Portland all Forrest Gump-like and have my first words be "I gots tuh go pee."
Today is pre-TequilaCon craziness with the actual event happening tomorrow.
And that's all I gots to say about that.
Because it's 1:00am and tomorrow I want pancakes.
Posted on Saturday, March 10th, 2007
Today is the day!
TeuilaCon 2007 started off early yesterday when I met Karl and Hilly at the airport for the 10-minute drive to The Kennedy School for check-in. There were tentative plans to have a pre-con meet up, so we had dinner and drinks at the restaurant while we waited. It was nice to catch up on old times, but a bit odd when you consider that I had never met either one of them before today... blogger meet-ups are like that.
Once Adena and Stacey arrived, we couldn't find a table anywhere at The Kennedy School (it's a popular place!) so we took a run to the Alameda Brew House not too far away. Then Neil and Sophia showed up for beer and big fun...
Hilly, Sophia, Neil, Karl, Stacey, and Adena at the Alameda Brew House
Then it was time to head back to The Kennedy School where we ran into Dustin (my new roommate) and went hunting for bloggers. After a while of wandering, we found Jenny, Brandon, Jill, Kimberly, Sibyl, and Vahid.
Jenny rocking the official TequilaCon 2007 poster.
This morning we're meeting up for super-fantastic French Toast at The Cadillac Cafe and then heading downtown to Powell City of Books. I'm sure there will be blogging updates as time allows.
Posted on Sunday, March 11th, 2007
TequilaCon 2007 has just ended, and it couldn't have been more amazing. A great bunch of people having fun (sometimes too much fun) and getting to meet the faces behind the blogs. I just knew it was going to be good, but nothing could prepare me for how much fun was to be had. Kudos to the TequilaCon Advisory Committee for their brilliant work this time around, and I can't wait to attend next year's event.
Among the billions of photos taken, here are a few random shots from my camera tonight...
Jenny's annual tattoo parlor was open for business. Mine was pretty bad-ass. "Bad to the Bone - FOREVER" with a skull and cross-bones... it doesn't get much better than that...
The incomparable Hilly and Stunning Ms. Sizzle glamming it up for their adoring fans and paparazzi...
We took a run with Portland's favorite taxi driver to the famous VooDoo Donuts. The trip was made all the more exciting when we found out that COCK-FEST was coming to town...
Our voodoo donut sacrifice to the tequila gods was delicious...
But one of the most interesting attendees for TequilaCon 2007 was the venue itself. The Kennedy School is incredibly cool, despite a number of disturbing images hanging in the hallways...
To everybody who attended, thanks for such a great time. To everybody who could not attend, I hope to see you next time!
Posted on Friday, May 4th, 2007
I am very much not looking forward to the next 18 hours of travel.
Posted on Saturday, May 5th, 2007
Oh look, I'm in Greece!
My vacation kind of snuck up on me, because I've been working like a maniac for the past four weeks trying to get all my work caught up before I go. I had a vague notion that the trip was somewhere on the horizon but, until I packed my suitcase for the drive over to Seattle, it wasn't really "real" to me. But after an hour at SeaTac International, a 3-1/2 hour flight to Chicago, a 1-1/2 hour layover, a 9-hour flight to Munich, a 1-hour layover, and a 2-hour flight to Athens, it started getting pretty real, and here I am 18 hours later...
Hello from Athens, Greece, y'all!
I've never been to Greece before, so this is kind of a nifty trip for me. I was heavy into Greek mythology as a kid, so finally being able to walk the grounds where it all started is pretty special.
This first day I was pretty wiped out, so I didn't have any ambitious plans. Just wanted to wander down to Syntagma Square to see the changing of the guard at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and take a look at the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which must have been a massive, massive structure back in the day...
The Temple of Zeus could use some spackle and a coat of paint.
After meandering through some shops on Ermou Street, I decided to call it a day and walk back to my hotel. Along the way, I ran across a billboard ad that I'm guessing is for the local news or something. I don't know about your TV news team, but I dare say that Athens pretty much has them beat on the total hotness scale...
We'll be back with more hotness at eleven...
All in all, a pretty good day! About the only downer was the local Hard Rock Cafe where I went for lunch...
Uhhhh... yeah, not the most exciting Hard Rock I've been to...
It saddens me very much to say that this was about the worst Hard Rock experience I've ever had. And it WASN'T for the following reasons:
No, the thing that made this the worst HRC experience of the 113 Hard Rock properties I've visited is that THEY DIDN'T HAVE ANY PINS!! NO FUCKING COLLECTOR PINS!! What the bloody fuck? How can you call yourself a Hard Rock Cafe if you aren't selling any pins? This is about the most stupid thing I've ever seen at an HRC. Their famous collector pins are massively high-profit items that sell like mad. Most cafes have too many pins, because selling them is almost like being able to print your own money. I can only guess that the Athens location must not be interested in making money? Maybe they're just too profitable? Nothing quite like traveling 8,410 miles to have lunch at a Hard Rock and walking away empty-handed from the souvenir shop.
Ooog. I haven't slept in two days, so I had probably better at least take a nap or something before playing tourist all day tomorrow.
Posted on Sunday, May 6th, 2007
Hey, it's Bullet Sunday from sunny and beautiful Greece today!
• Cotters... Dustin over at Cotters in my Tummy has put down his tater tots long enough to finally add me to his blogroll. I guess I can stop regretting that I didn't kick him out onto the street during TequilaCon now.
• Review... Last week, Avitable selected me as one of the blogs appearing in his first ever Week In Review. Even more exciting than this honor was that he drew up his very own rendition of a DaveToon for the occasion...
The real reason that I traveled to Greece this week was that I was trying to make some kind of grand gesture that would assure me of another appearance in his "Week In Review II" today. Apparently traveling half-way around the world just isn't good enough, so now I'm open to suggestions as to what I should do this week that would guarantee me an appearance in "Week in Review III" next Sunday.
• Acropolis... Hoping to beat both the crowds and the heat, I decided to wake early and visit The Acropolis right as it opened up. Along with The Great Wall of China and the Pyramids of Egypt, this is one of those places that I've dreamed of visiting for as far back as I remember. It did not disappoint, even though it was partially obstructed in scaffolding...
So much of the finer details have been destroyed or taken, but the maiden statues on the Porch of the Caryatids are still there...
One of the nice things about showing up early was being treated to a procession of guardsmen marching through the Acropolis, their uniforms beautifully appointed. These are the same guards who stand watch at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier 24-7 at the Parliament Building that I saw yesterday...
• Architectural... One of the treasures of Athens is their Architectural Museum, which is a bit out of the way but well worth the trip. Most of the statues have significant damage to them (I lost count of the number of poor statue dudes missing their penis), but on occasion there's a piece that's miraculously intact... no missing noses or anything, which is quite remarkable to see...
• Poseidon... The weather was simply too beautiful to stick around the city all day, so I paid a taxi driver to run down the coast to the south-most point of the Athenian peninsula, which is where the Temple of Poseidon resides...
After an hour-and-a-half of beautiful scenery, you arrive at an outcropping overlooking the Mediterranean where the temple was built for the god of the seas. It's survived a little better than most, but is still only a shadow of what it once was...
If only there was a way to travel back in time and see these magnificent structures when they were new.
And so ends my last day in Athens and another installment of Bullet Sunday.
Posted on Monday, May 7th, 2007
I am not much of a "cruise guy." I prefer to travel on my own and not be trapped on a ship awaiting the next port of call. But given that Greece has something like 4000 islands, a cruise is probably the easiest way to see a little bit of Greek life outside the mainland, and so here I am.
In many ways, cruising is a surreal experience. Despite the fact that you are in foreign waters visiting foreign ports of call, the ship itself is devoid of place and could be said to exist anywhere. I find this to be disorienting, and a rather detached way of exploring other cultures, but there are some plusses to be had. For one thing, you aren't packing and unpacking from place to place because your room travels with you. For another, all your food is included in the cost of the cruise. This wouldn't be so bad if the food sucks, but I've found cruise ship food is almost always exceptional, which means I spend most of my day eating. Gluttony, as it turns out, is not such a terrible way to spend your time (even if it is considered to be a deadly sin).
The first day of a cruise is relatively boring, as most of the crew is dedicated to getting everybody settled on the ship. The only excitement to be had is the mandatory Emergency Drill, where everybody gets to put on their lifejackets and head to a muster station so they can learn what to do if the ship hits an iceberg or whatever. At least, they might learn what to do in an emergency situation if you could actually hear the instructions. With everybody talking, the room is so noisy that I couldn't hear a dang thing. So, I suppose if our ship does end up hitting an iceberg, I'll just put on my lifejacket and run screaming down the halls in the hopes that it all works out...
The most bizarre sight of the day would have to be the couple who brought along their baby on the Emergency Drill. Who the f#@% cruises with a baby? With my luck, the baby will end up being a screamer, and end up in the stateroom next door.
Cruiser babies suck ass.
They suck almost as bad as the cost for internet.
Now, don't get me wrong, I am beyond thankful that the ship even has internet in the first place, but 50¢ a minute is pretty harsh. That's $30 an hour! I could get blown by a crack-whore for that!! Understandably, blog reading for the next two weeks will be at a minimum. Sure I love everybody, but I wouldn't pay $30 an hour to read my own blog.
I am, however, willing to spend $30 and hour to write in it. Lucky you.
Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time for "lunner" - that magical meal between lunch and dinner, and one of seven free meals I'll be eating every day.
Hey, it beats playing shuffleboard.
Posted on Tuesday, May 8th, 2007
When coming into port on a cruise ship, you can either buy one of the ship's pre-planned shore excursion packages... or fend for yourself. Even though I loathe tour groups, I take the pre-planned excursions every time just for the convenience of it all. My greatest fear is missing the boat, so letting them worry about all that is a load off my mind.
Today's pre-planned excursion was for Olympia, Greece... birthplace of the Olympic Games.
When I booked the tour, I had anticipated that there would be some kind of massive ancient stadium that was built for the glory that is The Olympics... kind of like the Colosseum in Rome or something. So imagine my surprise when I find out that the original games were held here...
Uhhhhh... yeah. I suppose this could be looked at as a bit of a disappointment, but it is what it is. I just choose to appreciate it from a historical perspective, and it's all good.
One of the interesting facts about Olympia is that this is where the Olympic flame is lit that then travels to the site of the Olympic Games. For the Olympics in China in 2008, they will get a giant concave mirror, aim it at the sun, then put some dry brush and twigs in front until it catches fire. The flame will then be sent to Athens for a bit, then be forwarded to China. And it all begins right here at Olympia's Temple of Hera...
This being a historical Greek site there are, of course, some cool ruins of columns to be seen...
And that's the excursion for today. Thirty-five minutes later, I'm back at the ship.
Where it's time for ice cream.
While onboard, this is my bestest friend in the whole world...
At first I kind of sucked at making my own ice cream cones but, since I've been eating 4-5 of them every day, I'm getting pretty good at it. I've got a nice swirl going on, and can make a nice peak on top now (instead of the lumpy mess I was making when I first started). I'm one of those people who should not be given access to free ice cream, because I will use it.
In fact, now that my second dinner has started to digest, it must be time for yet another ice cream cone.
I think I am gaining 10 pounds a day here...
Posted on Wednesday, May 9th, 2007
Today's shore excursion was further northward to the sunny island of Corfu.
And when I say "sunny" I mean "absurdly sunny" because the light is so bright that my sunglasses were rendered practically useless. This made photography kind of difficult, even with my polarizing filter, because entire scenes were blotted out by the glare. Still, there were nice views to be had amongst the massive number of tourists overrunning the island, and Corfu Town itself was quite nice. The excursion tour that I booked didn't have a lot of substance to it, but was entertaining enough, and sure beat sitting on the ship all day...
One of the stops on the tour was the summer palace of Empress Elizabeth of Austria called "Achilleio," named after the greek hero Achilles. It was badly over-decorated and garish, but there were a few interesting bits. One of my favorites was a beautiful half-dome mural in the home's small chapel which was brilliantly detailed...
But that paled in comparison to the detail that some sculptor put into the ass of an Achilles statue in the garden...
The guy may be dying from a poison arrow shot into his heel, but his ass still looks fabulous!
Tomorrow there will be no port of call, as it is to be a day at sea. I always go a little bit stir-crazy on days at sea, so here's hoping that I don't freak out and try to escape the ship in an ice bucket.
Posted on Thursday, May 10th, 2007
Without a shore excursion, I feel lost at sea. Time suddenly ceases to have meaning. How long has the ship been adrift? Hours? Days? Weeks? Months? I cannot know.
At first I try to appreciate that there is nothing to do. I wander the ship aimlessly, trying to fill the void of my boredom by eating two perfectly-formed ice cream cones for breakfast. This has no effect, so I construct a third, this time getting all fancy by making a double-reverse swirl on the top. It is delicious, but my restlessness goes unabated.
I go back to my stateroom and stare at the eternal blue from my balcony...
I start to wonder if I shall ever see land again... or if am I doomed forever to this world of blue? I suppose so long as they don't run out of chocolate-vanilla swirl ice cream, that would be okay with me...
Bored. Bored. Bored. Bored.
With nothing better to do, I start looking through the photos I took yesterday, and realize that I had gone ass-to-mouth, just like Avitable had asked for me to appear in his Week in Review!
Achilles didn't seem to mind, but my camera will never be the same again.
Tomorrow has a very early port call at 6:45am. That's kind of a bummer, because I don't think I can get in an ice cream cone before I have to go.
Posted on Friday, May 11th, 2007
I don't know whether to feel lucky or unlucky... but the weather here in Cairo is cool and overcast. This could be considered lucky when the alternative would be scorching 100-degree temperatures... but kind of strange that this rare weather event should happen while I'm in town. Oh well, here I am in Egypt. A visit to the pyramids is set for tomorrow, and the weather could do anything before then.
The ship actually makes port in the city of Alexandria, so there's a 3-hour bus drive across the West Desert before reaching Cairo. Our first stop in the city was to the Alabaster Mosque, otherwise known as the Mosque of Muhammad Ali (who is regarded as the founder of modern Egypt). The building itself is quite beautiful with its alabaster forecourt, even when overrun with tourists...
The Ottoman architecture is pretty sweet, and meticulously maintained...
Islamic mosques are built solely for prayer, are devoid of any clutter, and have no statues or imagery (both of which are forbidden). This way the worshiper may concentrate on their prayers without distraction. This is not to say that the interior is boring... far from it... the walls are adorned with cool geometric designs, and the ceiling is as beautiful and ornate as any church...
After we left the Mosque of Muhammad Ali, it was onward to the Egypt Museum...
I have seen Tutankhamen exhibits many times over the years (the latest was just five months ago in Chicago), but the one time I saw the famous death mask in the 1970's, I was too young to remember it. And, since the Egyptian government has forbidden the mask to leave the country since the early 80's, the only way I was ever going to see it was to visit it here in Cairo. Unfortunately, you can't take pictures in the museum, but finally seeing the mask in person after having seen it a million times in photos pretty much made the entire trip worthwhile.
The tour group was then given free time to freshen up and relax but, knowing there was a Hard Rock Cafe in the city, there was no way I was going to waste time relaxing! The cafe itself is in the lower level arcade of the Grand Hyatt hotel, located on the banks of the Nile. From the outside, it's nothing really special...
But the inside is fantastic, with high energy, lots of memorabilia, and an enthusiastic staff (who were all on stage dancing when I visited the dining room). The highlight of the property for me was this incredible mosaic artwork behind the bar featuring landmarks from around the globe...
Alas, there wasn't time to eat a veggie burger and have a chocolate shake, but I DID manage to get a really nice Hard Rock pin set (at last!) and a T-shirt.
And now as I sit here on my hotel balcony overlooking the city, with the Great Pyramids off in the distance, I must sign off because it's time for a dinner cruise on the Nile with 340 of my closest friends...
Posted on Saturday, May 12th, 2007
I miss my armed military police escort.
Egypt is so reliant on tourism dollars, that they are quite paranoid about visitor safety. Just one bomb exploding at a popular tourist destination, or even a minor attack on a tour bus, would be enough to destroy tourism to the country for at least a year... probably longer. So that's why our tour bus convoy was escorted by military police, the bus itself had an armed guard onboard with a machine gun, and my quick run to the Hard Rock Cafe in a taxi caused us to be stopped twice so that the car could be inspected for bombs. The government is doing everything they can to ensure the safety of their tourists and, while a little alarming at first, you soon grow accustomed to their presence and miss them when they're gone.
Anyway, the sun god Ra saw fit to bless my tour group with a sunny day for the quick trip out of Cairo to the Giza Plateau.
I guess the two dumbass tourists I sacrificed to him this morning must have done the trick.
And yeah, the pyramids are as amazing as I thought they would be...
Until you look back towards smoggy Cairo, that is. It's kind of sad how close the city has encroached on the pyramids, which spoils their massive stature just a bit...
You can actually buy a ticket to climb through the center pyramid all the way to the burial chamber in the middle. It is definitely not for the faint of heart, because the passage is very small and claustrophobic. Even worse, it's really hot and stuffy, making it difficult to breathe. When you get to the chamber, there's a guide waiting inside to explain everything to you... I cannot imagine how he manages to stay inside there all day without going insane. If that were my job, I'd probably start killing people. I couldn't last longer than two minutes, and was rushing as fast as I could to climb back outside.
My favorite part of the day was getting to visit The Sphinx! He's way cool...
And now that I'm safely back on the ship, it's time for an early bedtime. The past two days have been so exhausting that I am actually looking forward to a day at sea tomorrow. The tour went to a cheesy light show at the pyramids last night, followed by a dinner cruise on The Nile that lasted until past midnight. This wouldn't have been too bad except I had to get up at 6:00am in order to meet the bus to the Giza Plateau.
Hmmm... I think I need one more ice cream before turning in. I suffered withdrawals while I was in Cairo for two days, and need to make up for lost frozen dairy desserts...
Posted on Sunday, May 13th, 2007
It's time for my first Bullet Sunday at sea!
• PLAGUE SHIP! Ack. This is the second time I've been on a cruise, and this is the second time there's been an epidemic going around. Last time it was some kind of cold/flu hybrid. This time they aren't saying what's going on, but you are no longer allowed to serve yourself at the food buffets. Not even for water, which actually makes me happy. A few days ago I was waiting in line for a glass of water when the stupid bitch ahead of me filled up her water bottle, putting the mouth of the bottle directly in contact with the spout. This grossed me out because, for all I know, she is the ship's whore and there's no telling where that mouth of hers has been. She could have been sucking on something funky before sucking on her water bottle, and now the stupid whore's cooties are all over the water spout, contaminating everything that comes out of it.
• ICE CREAM DREAMS! But there is a bad side to all of this. You're not allowed to make your own ice cream cones now either. So now I have to trust some total amateur's cone-making skills at the soft-serve machine. Instead of getting the perfectly shaped ice cream cones I'm used to making myself, I now get these lumpy, malformed monstrosities that look like they were crapped out of a donkey's ass. It's probably my imagination, but they just don't seem to taste as good now. =sob!= I'll probably start dreaming that I'm ruler of Egypt, and my thousands of loyal subjects will bring me perfect chocolate-vanilla swirl ice cream cones all day long. Egypt seems to have had quite an effect on me...
BEING BORING! Today is an at-sea day. Usually these bore me, but I'm actually looking forward to being a little bored for a while. Besides, there's a lot of stuff coming up in the final week of vacation, and tomorrow I have to be up at 6:00am again.
• TOUR DE ASSHOLE! I've never hidden my loathing for organized tours, but yesterday's Giza tour was a new low point. Two fucking assholes were 50 minutes late getting back to the bus at the first stop, which meant that all the remaining stops had to be compressed, and certain things I would have loved to have spent more time with were whipped through at a furious pace. Never mind that everybody else on that bus managed to get back on time. The two inconsiderate fucks didn't even apologize for screwing everybody (they probably weren't sorry anyway). It used to be that I would wish for a million dollars to fall from the sky. Now I just wish these two fuckers dead in the most painful way possible. I mean, come on... FIFTY FUCKING MINUTES?!? If I were the tour guide, I would have left their fucking idiot asses in the desert after 10 minutes so everybody else doesn't have suffer for their being complete and total fucking pricks. I despise assholes who have absolutely no consideration for other people, and tours are usually full of them.
Alas, it's time for me to retire to Deck 12 for some sunshine. There seems to be an abundance of it today...
Posted on Monday, May 14th, 2007
Yet another beautiful day in the Mediterranean, with crisp blue skies and entirely too much sunshine.
It was, of course, too good to last... because I had an organized tour awaiting me! As always, there were the minimum two idiots in the group, ruining things for everybody else. First up there was a rude, disgusting, pig who completely ignored the tour guide so he could listen to his iPod while reading a book and loudly smacking his gum like some kind of spastic turd. Along with him was a woman that I nicknamed Skanky McCrotchspreader, because she liked throwing her legs up on the bus exit banister. This not only meant that I had to see her feet every time I looked out the window, but I also had to be exposed to her toxic cootchie every time I exited the bus. They were made for each other.
But at least Gum-Smacking Pig was never more than five minutes late to the bus, which was nice.
The main focus of the tour was the ruined city of Knossos. It was okay, I guess, but I didn't like how they "improved" it by adding modern structures like sun louvers to the site, and "fixing" some of the ruins with plaster and paint. Why they couldn't have just left it in its natural state is beyond me. Still, if you like seeing a bunch of busted-ass buildings and stuff, this is the place...
My favorite feature was this pregnant cat that was wandering around like she owned the place. I'd like to think that she did...
As we left Knossos to visit a manufactured tourist trap in the form of a Cretan village, Gum-Smacking Pig decided to move on from smacking gum and instead decided to crinkle a Coke can. All the way we had to listen to him popping in the sides of the can... pop pop... pop pop... pop pop... I would have liked to kick the fucking can up his stupid ass, but my shoes are still new.
The fake Cretan village was kind of charming, if you're into that kind of thing. I was a bit bored, but the weather was really great for photos. The sky was so blue that it was almost painful to look at it...
I wish that we had a bit more time to explore the Cretan countryside, as it looks quite rustic and beautiful. Even with Skanky McCrotchspreader's legs in the way...
Now that the tour is over, there is a surprising five hours left before the ship leaves port. It almost seems a shame that I don't take a bus back into Iraklion to see a bit more of Crete, but I'd rather write in my blog then take a nap before dinner.
Isn't that what vacations are for?
Posted on Tuesday, May 15th, 2007
Today the ship set anchor at Santorini, one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Seriously, you have no idea.
It's not that the island itself is anything terribly beautiful... the land is kind of stark and rocky. It's what the natives have done with it that makes it so special. Namely, the really cool villages that spill over the cliffs. The buildings, architecture, and colors all combine to create something amazing to see. Especially the many churches, which are breathtaking against the vibrant blue sky...
The main city I visited was Fira, which is above the harbor where the ship docked...
To get up to the city from the waterfront you can either walk, ride a donkey, or take the cable car. Riding the cable car is by far the easiest, but kind of freaky... you'd swear it was traveling straight up in the air. I don't do well with heights, so this was not big fun for me...
Further up the island from Fira there was a smaller, much quieter village called Oía, which is the kind of place that Santorini is famous for. By the time I was leaving, there were so many tour busses and so many people that it was getting difficult to walk down the narrow streets. But even with the crowds, there's no denying how attractive the city is...
I think I shot more photos in Santorini than I've shot in all other ports of call combined. If it weren't for the masses of tourists which overrun the place, it would be an amazing vacation destination all on its own.
Once back to the ship, I decided to have an ice cream cone, and was pleasantly surprised that the cone that was filled for me was well constructed with a nice swirl on top. When I complimented the girl at the machine, she told me that she had made ice cream cones for five hours the day before, and was getting quite good at it. I was curious to know if the girl at the ice cream machine at the opposite side of the ship was equally skilled, and so I made my way aft to find out. Turns out she was even BETTER at making ice cream cones, but had a very good reason for it. While attending college, she had worked at McDonalds to earn money, and had made thousands of cones during her two years there. I was in awe to be in the presence of an ice cream master, and walked away wondering if I would have the opportunity to practice my cone skills before disembarking.
Ice cream cones so totally rule.
Posted on Wednesday, May 16th, 2007
Mykonos is a swanky resort island for the rich and famous of the Mediterranean. When I read about it in my tour brochure, I didn't think it sounded very interesting, so I instead selected an excursion called "Magnificent Delos." I figured anything with "magnificent" in the title was worth my valuable time.
Delos, as it turns out, is an entirely separate island about 35 minutes off the coast of Mykonos. It was an island devoted to the god Apollo, and a massive city sprang up to service all the worshippers that arrived on a pilgrimage. At one time, it was probably pretty incredible. But now... not so much.
I'd go so far as to say it was boring. Boring, boring, boring. Yet another busted city with a bunch of reconstructed crap mucking up the place. Not very magnificent at all...
The strange thing about Delos is that the people there seemed to be obsessed with penises. There are busted penis statues around, and the local museum has a display case devoted to penis carvings that were salvaged from the site...
After I returned from the not-so-magnificent Delos, it was time to explore Mykonos Town proper.
Turns out that this is where I should have been spending my time all along, because the city is just cool. There are dozens and dozens of narrow little streets that were intentionally made into a maze to confuse the pirates that used to plague the city. Exploring all these tiny little alleyways is big fun, even though it didn't leave a lot of room to take very good photos...
Looking across the harbor, you can see "new town" which is starting to look a little like Santorini, but without the cliffs...
And more cats. There are cats all over Greece. My favorite was this cool-looking calico that I'd have liked to take home with me...
And that's all she wrote for Greece...
Posted on Thursday, May 17th, 2007
Originally, my tour of Ephesus was due to leave the ship at 9:45am, which would have allowed for a nice opportunity to sleep in. Unfortunately, the time was changed to 8:15am, which meant yet another early morning.
Ephesus was once a city of major importance... both in early times as a place of worship to the goddess Artemis, and in later days as the final home of the Virgin Mary of the Christian faith. Today it is still an important landmark and place of pilgrimage for Christians, having been visited by two Popes and untold scores of followers.
Mary's famous house has been nicely restored, and there's a "blessed spring" nearby where visitors can drink from the waters or, more likely, bottle it up and take it home as a souvenir as I did (I've got a few plants who could really use some divine help just now)...
From there, it's a short drive to the ruins of the ancient city, with major pieces of architecture having been partially restored. The centerpiece of the entire complex is the great library, which must have been truly amazing back in the day...
The Ephesus Museum has many nice works rescued from the archaeological site, but the showcase item was a little guy packing a really big piece that puts the Delos penises from yesterday to shame...
The final stop of this very long day was to a Turkish Hand-Woven Rug Showroom, where incredibly beautiful works of rug art could be yours if you have thousands of dollars burning a hole in your pocket. They were all incredible, of course, but way out of my price range. I was more interested in the bird's nest just outside the door, where baby birds were anxiously awaiting their mother's return with dinner...
I know just how they feel, because now it's my dinner-time too.
Posted on Friday, May 18th, 2007
The final port of call on my cruise is the amazing city of Istanbul.
Once the capital city of three empires (Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman), the city formerly known as Constantinople is bound to have some interesting history behind it. Unfortunately, a single day of sightseeing can barely scratch the surface, but I gave it my best shot.
The natural place to start is the world-famous Blue Mosque, which is just as beautiful as its reputation suggests...
From there, it's a short walk to the Haghia Sophia Museum...
And then onward to a spooky cistern, one of forty-three scattered around the city's underground...
And no trip to Istanbul would be complete without a trip through the Grand Bazaar, home to 4000 merchant stalls selling everything and anything you can imagine...
And, just like that, my vacation is over.
I think I need a vacation from my vacation now.
Posted on Saturday, May 19th, 2007
Right now I pretty much hate everybody because airlines fucking suck ass.
Well, everybody except you, of course.
Posted on Sunday, May 20th, 2007
I'm home safe for a rather late Bullet Sunday! As somebody who travels quite often, I fully accept that shit happens. Weather can cause delays. Mechanical difficulties pop up. Unforeseen drama can ensue at any time. And, as always, human error is a factor. Rather than get upset by it all, I try my best to just accept it as part of the game and not let it get to me. I find it easiest to travel with the attitude that things will go wrong, whatever happens will happen, and deal with it the best I can when things actually do go wrong. On the other hand, however, it's how the companies actually involved in the problem deal with things that determine whether or not I go out-of-my-fucking-mind ballistic over the situation.
• Delta. Unfortunately, Delta not only dropped the ball when things went wrong for my flight home, they then proceeded to kick the ball into a pile of shit, piss on it, light it on fire, then throw it at my head. This is hard for me to say, because most all of my past experience with Delta has been good. After Alaska Air, they are probably my favorite airline to fly. It was not Delta's fault that traffic at JFK was backed up and we had to sit on the tarmac for 40 minutes. It WAS their fault that they didn't dispatch customer service agents to help those of us who were going to miss our connections (not even ONE fucking agent was there to greet us... and this is a major Delta hub!). It WAS their fault that they said our connecting flights were aware of our delay and if we ran we could probably make our flights. It WAS their fault that when I tracked down somebody, they had me run all the way across the airport to "Gate 24" only to find out that "Gate 24" DOESN'T EXIST... they sent me to a customer service station so they wouldn't have to deal with me. It WAS their fault that their misinformation about making my flight made me re-check my luggage after Immigration, leaving me stranded overnight with nothing but a GameBoy, my laptop, and a credit card. It WAS their fault that not one of their agents had a hotel hotline number for displaced passengers, and I had to pay fucking $225 to get a room so I wouldn't have to spend the night in an airport bathroom. Basically, I was misled, lied to, shoved aside, abandoned, treated like crap, then stranded... all within the course of a two-hour period by Delta. Kind of makes me wish they would have went fucking bankrupt, and this is coming from a former loyal and happy customer. Fuck Delta. Fuck them up their stupid asses.
• Security. I joke about looking like a terrorist, but reality seems to back this up. If anybody is ever going to be given a "second screening" at airport security, it's probably going to be me. I have been pulled aside for body searches and questioning more times than I can count. It never bothers me, I always cooperate, and I never complain... because it is what it is, and there's nothing I can do about it (unless I want to shave, dye my hair blonde, and start wearing 3-piece business suits). And, even though I've become accustomed to it, being pulled from the screening line by two Turkish security guards for a third screening was a bit disconcerting. Especially when I saw that they were taking me to a small, dark, private room across the passenger lounge...
But it turns out to have been no big deal... all they did was pat me down and check my shoes. The room was more for my benefit than theirs, as I think they just wanted to spare me any embarrassment from public scrutiny (which was actually kind of considerate). The door was open the entire time, they were really nice and apologetic about the entire ordeal, and it took less than 5 minutes. I've had a lot worse from American security screenings. It's at this point that I kind of started feeling bad for foreign countries who want to maintain good relations with the USA. On one hand, they have to risk upsetting visitors with more strict and thorough security procedures. On the other hand, can you imagine what the reaction of the US government would be if they inadvertently let a terrorist on a US-bound plane? I wish US citizens who travel abroad would realize this before they start bitching about how rough security is in other countries. They're just trying to keep us safe and our government happy, so shut the fuck up already.
• Crack. I picked up some sesame-covered toffee peanuts while in Santorini because a local business was handing out free samples and I became addicted after just one bite. I now know what it must be like to have a crack-cocaine habit, because these things are more addictive than soft-serve swirl ice cream cones and chocolate pudding combined. I wake up in the middle of the night craving them. Heaven only knows what the withdrawal is going to be like when I finally eat my last peanut.
• Homeward. In driving back from Seattle this afternoon, I got stuck behind some asshole who was driving 10-15 miles under the speed limit. I kept speeding up to pass him, but oncoming traffic was too heavy, and I couldn't find an opening. Finally, after 10 minutes of this shit, I found my chance and made my move. As I was passing, I looked over and saw that the fucker was FLIPPING ME OFF! Yeah, asshole... it's MY FAULT that YOU are driving so damn slow. I'M the asshole because YOU can't drive the speed limit. I hate this shit more than anything else on earth, and it took all my willpower not to slam into this dumb-fuck and run him off the road. And yet, if I were to follow him home, cut off his middle finger with wire-cutters, smash his windshield with a baseball bat, then kick the shit out of him and light his ass on fire... it would be ME who was considered the criminal! I mean, seriously, if you can't drive the speed limit, you should EXPECT that people are going to want to pass your stupid ass. Don't get mad at them because of YOUR problem. Bleh. It's so good to be back home.
• Shipping. Speaking of home... I miss my balcony with a waterfront view from my home onboard the ship...
One day I turned my deck-chairs backwards and turned on my balcony light so I could figure out which cabin was mine. Now that I'm looking at this photo, does it really make a difference? Oh well. I suppose even more than my balcony waterfront view, I miss having housekeeping services. My apartment is a mess, and there's two-weeks worth of clothes that need to be washed.
Would somebody please send me a million dollars so I don't have to go back to work in the morning?
Posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007
Great. My DSL is down. Again. When the highlight of your day is getting a call from Bad Robert wanting to know if your "poop cycle" is back to normal, you just know that there is something seriously wrong in the universe.
The "poop cycle," for anybody who is insane enough to be curious about how Robert's mind works, is his theory about crossing time zones and pooping. Having never traveled more than three time zones in his life, one might wonder how Robert could come up with something like this, but he insists that a trip to Walt Disney World five years ago has permanently damaged his health, and who am I to argue?
Robert claims that his morning run to the toilet became synced to Eastern Time while spending a week in Florida, and never entirely synced back to Pacific Time once he returned. This means he has to wake up three hours early each morning so he can take care of business. Needless to say he's a little upset by that, and hasn't left our time zone since. I argue that this is his body telling him that he needs to move to the east coast, but he worries that failed poop syncing adjustments are cumulative, and has no desire to poop at 2:00 AM unless he's paid to get up that early.
Maybe the answer is a trip to Hawaii to move things forward, but I refuse to get into a conversation with Robert about his pooping habits because I am terrified as to where it might lead.
Alas, I have no such problems. I don't even get jet-lag. For some mysterious reason, my body just adapts to whatever time zone I happen to be in with no questions asked. Of course, as an insomniac, I only sleep 4-5 hours each night, so maybe it's because I'm already so messed up that I don't have to worry about jet-lag or my poop cycle.
I stumbled across a nifty photo I took when looking through my vacation photos. While I was in Santorini, I went to the Prehistoric Thira Museum there. It's small, but well appointed. One of my favorite exhibits was a wall painting of blue monkeys from the 17th century (and that's B.C.)...
Big chunks of the mural have been reconstructed and reinterpreted, but it's still pretty cool. My theory is that it was really painted by actual monkeys...
Kind of a post-impressionistic interpretation of ancient monkey times in blue.
UPDATE: WTF?!? This morning I wake up and have internet, but now my blog is down? I guess that's what I get for blogging about poop and blue monkeys.
Posted on Sunday, June 3rd, 2007
This is a pre-recorded episode of Blogography from Thursday, May 31.
I'm pretending it's Sunday so I can whip out some bullets that will post when the most magical day of the week appears!
• Health Food... Why is it every time I find a new food I like that I have to go looking at the Nutrition Facts, only to find out that eating it will kill me? The Schwan's Man had a brand new item called "Grilled Cheese Toastwiches," which have all the deliciousness of a grilled cheese sandwich, but without the back-breaking labor of having to put cheese between slices of bread and heating it up. Nope, with Grilled Cheese Toastwiches, you just pop them in the toaster! Sweet! At least they were, until I found out each piece has 25% of the daily amount of saturated fat you should eat in a day. This sucks ass! Especially since I've already had three pieces today. I guess that means I am 75% closer to death.
• Kaleidoscope Toons... Posting yet another couple of frames showing progress with my DaveToon video. This is another scene I worked on while I was on vacation. Much of the video has lots of animated elements, so I was trying to come up with some simpler scenes to break things up a bit. Believe it or not, these always end up taking far more time to animate than the ones with far more going on. I have no idea why...
In the final video, I had planned for the kaleidoscope background to have some kind of filter applied to it... possibly one that makes it look more "dreamy." But the more I look at the scene in motion, the more I question a need for a filter, because the bright colors are a nice contrast to the black suits. =Sigh= I can see that completing the animation for this project is going to be just the beginning...
• World Round... As I was updating my travel map to reflect my recent vacation, I noticed that my trip to Egypt means I can check another continent off my list. Granted, it's not a lot of Africa to have seen, but it still counts! That leaves just three continents left to see: South America, Australia, and... ANTARCTICA?!? South America and Australia will almost certainly happen one day, but Antarctica? Doing a little research, I find that it's not as difficult as I had first thought to visit, because there are tour ships that go there. All it takes is money. Lots of money. The good news is that it would be an automatic two-for-one trip, because all the tours leave from South America. The bad news is that the cost is also two-for-one... first you've got to spend the money to get to Cape Horn, then you've got the cost of the ship tour on top of it. Does anybody have around $15,000 burning a hole in their pocket to finance my Antarctic adventure?
• Members Project... American Express has unveiled "The Members Project," which is a program whereas cardholders can submit ideas for a prize up to five million dollars so they can make a positive impact on the world. It's actually a pretty cool idea, and they lined up some all-star talent to advertise it in a commercial. You get Martin Scorsese directing, who also appear in the spot along with Andre Agassi, Sheryl Crow, Ellen DeGeneres, Alicia Keys, and skateboarder Shaun White. The odd part is that the commercial is interrupted by a guy from "the office next door" who is named "Tim." This is the same guy that does the video introduction at the Members Project website...
"People fought wars just so we could eat pizza on the wrong night!" —Norris Michelsky
But here's the thing... "Tim" isn't just some random guy. I'm pretty sure it's actor David Alan Basche, who has been in a number of television and movie projects, including one of my favorite shows ever, Oh Grow Up! In many ways, this makes him a bigger star to me than any of the "big-name" stars in the commercial, which is why it cracked me up when I saw it. I also get mad that Oh Grow Up! hasn't been released on DVD, but that's beside the point.
• Cattlecar Galaxica... I was very disappointed to learn that, in addition to Veronica Mars being canceled, Battlestar Galactica is ending after the upcoming fourth season. If there's one piece of good news about it, the decision to end the show came directly from the producers. They saw that the story was heading to an ending, and decided to take it there rather than draw things out until nobody cared anymore. I sure hope that some decent shows arrive for the new Fall TV season... because if this keeps up, there won't be anything on for me to watch.
Well that wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be... I should pretend it's Sunday every day!
Posted on Monday, June 11th, 2007
I don't know why, but tourists tend to stand out more in Seattle than they do in other cities.
It's not that the tourists are any more or less annoying here, they just seem to be badly out of place somehow. And I'm not talking about the superficial things like walking around with cameras, maps, and guide books and stuff, it's just something in the way they move and react that doesn't feel right. Could just be me, but when I bring it up with other people... even friends who are here being tourists themselves... they get what I am talking about.
Though, just like everywhere else on the planet, you do run into the occasional stupid tourist. People who show up with no clue as to where they are or what they are doing. A classic example could be had as I was standing in line at hotel registration this morning. Two dumbass bitches cut in front of me (with one of them screaming "I JUST NEED TO ASK A QUICK QUESTION!!") and yelled at the front desk guy "IS THERE A STARBUCKS NEARBY? WE WANT COFFEE!!"
To his credit, the guy was really professional and told them that there were shops on either side of the hotel. This was really nice of him, because my reply would have been something more like "BITCH, YOU ARE IN F#@%ING DOWNTOWN SEATTLE! THERE ARE ABOUT TWENTY STARBUCKS WITHIN A FIVE-MINUTE WALK OF THIS HOTEL! JUST TRIP YOUR STUPID ASS OUT THE DOOR AND OPEN YOUR F#@%ING EYES!* Which is actually kind of an understatement. Asking where to find a Starbucks in downtown Seattle is like walking into a strip club and asking where the titties are, because they're all around you...
Map taken from the totally cool FindByClick site.
On the bright side, I sure do have a nice view from my hotel room. Since I will be sitting here all day working, that's pretty sweet. The monorail track is right below my window, so I get to watch the trains go back and forth...
In other news, my personal hero Steve Jobs delivered the keynote address to a crowd of Mac developer whores at Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference today (you can watch a video of it here). There wasn't really any revolutionary news coming out of San Francisco this morning, just more pretty demos of the next MacOS (code-named Leopard). Overall, I remain impressed, and can't wait until October to get my copy.
But one piece of Leopard is available today... the beta of Apple's Safari web browser. It's pretty cool, adding long-desired features like movable tabs, resizable text entry boxes, and inline search...
Apple has also released a version of Safari for Windows which may turn out to be a really smart move. If a nice chunk of Windows sufferers start using Safari, perhaps web developers will work harder to make their stuff more compatible with my browser of choice. I question as to whether this can actually happen, but I guess it's worth a try.
Anyway, I have a Johnny Rockets' Streamliner Burger with no grilled onions (add cheese) calling my name for dinner, and then I need to rush right back so I can try to get some sleep before a very busy day of work tomorrow.
Gee... does anybody know if there is a McDonalds in Seattle for breakfast in the morning?
* Please excuse the harsh language... I've been watching HBO's "revolutionary" and "ground-breaking" new show John from Cincinnati. I find the show's story of a child-like stranger who changes people's lives to be boring, predictable, and a total rip-off of the film/show Starman. The only thing "revolutionary" and "groundbreaking" is that the characters say "f#@%" about ten times in every sentence. Which, I suppose, is to be expected from the producers of HBO's previous overly-profanity-laden series Deadwood. Bleh.
Posted on Monday, June 18th, 2007
The drive back to Seattle was fairly uneventful. About the only interesting bit was when I hit a wall of fog coming down from the top of Snoqualmie Pass. It was so dense that you were lucky if you could see two car-lengths ahead of you. This made for some tricky maneuvering past vehicles that decided to stop in the middle of the highway.
After work it was time to hit Johnny Rockets for a veggie burger dinner, and then pick up my new hat. One of my blue Helly Hansen caps had gone missing, so I special-ordered one to replace it...
H/H hats always start out this beautiful deep blue color, then eventually fade to a nice dark navy. But the best part is that they shrink to a really good fit after getting wet a couple of times. Nothing quite so nice as a good-fitting cap!
Fortunately I escaped Helly Hansen with my wallet in-tact. I am not much of a shopper, but I could easily blow through $1000 in about 10 minutes there. I guess everybody has their shopping kryptonite.
I just wish mine was at someplace less expensive.
Fantasy Unlimited... home of "Provocative Playthings!"
This is kind of a surprise, because I thought that Fantasy Unlimited had gone out of business. They used to be located downtown... I have fuzzy memories of getting totally drunk with friends and goofing off with all the crazy crap they sell there. I'm pretty sure that we were asked to leave once when we decided to have a strap-on cock-fight.
Hmmm... perhaps I won't sit here and watch television for the rest of the night after all...
Posted on Tuesday, June 19th, 2007
With my numerous projects and everything else that's been going on, I have been sleeping worse than usual... three to four hours tops. This makes for a very challenging day, because I am a wreck before we even start the job. By the time noon rolls around, I'm totally trashed and have to really struggle to finish up my work. But things are going very, very well on the project, so I guess I can't complain.
Tonight I had it in my mind that I would try my best to make up for lost sleep.
After a totally awesome dinner at Il Fornaio, I walked around downtown Seattle past the new Seattle Art Museum (which looks great!), and then down to the Pike Place Market. Everything is closed, of course, but I thought a long walk might tire me out and help me sleep. To make sure of this, I took a handful of sleeping pills, a muscle-relaxer, and a hit of melatonin before hopping into bed at 9:00pm. I wrote a ten-minute blog entry about pasta but, since my hotel doesn't have wireless, I decided to not get out of bed and plug into the internet, but instead go right to sleep and post it tomorrow.
Come morning I would be either well-rested or dead.
But since this entry is not about pasta, you can probably guess that something went terribly wrong.
I dropped off into a drug-induced, coma-like sleep around 9:30 with a decent night's rest practically guaranteed.
Unfortunately, I was rudely awakened around 11:40pm by somebody knocking on my door...
GROGGY DAVE: (opens door in his underwear) Yeah?
MAN IN SUIT: (stands gaping, holding an ice bucket) ?!!???
GROGGY DAVE: YEAH?!?
MAN IN SUIT: Uhhhh... I don't suppose my wife is in there?
GROGGY DAVE: What-?
MAN IN SUIT: Er, my wife is --
GROGGY DAVE: GIVE ME A MINUTE TO WIPE THE PEANUT BUTTER OFF HER ASS AND SHE'S ALL YOURS!
MAN IN SUIT: Uhhhh... I guess I have the wrong room.
GROGGY DAVE: YA THINK?!? DOES YOUR DOOR HAVE A FRICKIN' DO NOT DISTURB SIGN ON IT?
MAN IN SUIT: Ah, sorry about that...
What the hell?
And, of course, now I can't get back to sleep.
I wonder if The Lusty Lady is still open... I noticed as I drove by that the shows running are "FANTASTIC 4-play" and "HAIRY SPOTTER." Sounds like down-home, wholesome entertainment to me.
Though I might be better off watching TV-On-Demand's "Pornotopia, because... well, I dunno... it just sounds classier.
I am curious to know if I take another couple of sleeping pills whether they will give me some sleep before I have to get up in six hours, or just totally f#@% me up so that I can't function in the morning?
Holy crap does this suck.
UPDATE: I took just one sleeping pill and managed to get 4 hours sleep. When added to the 2 hours I got before I was rudely awakened, that's probably the best night's rest I've gotten in weeks! Though I still feel like crap, which kind of sucks.
Posted on Wednesday, June 20th, 2007
Today was a positively beautiful day in Seattle.
So stunningly beautiful that I was depressed at the thought of spending all of it inside working. But that's the way life goes, and so all I got to enjoy of it was occasional glimpses out the window.
When I got back to my hotel room at the end of the day, I decided to look for something fun to do indoors to make up for my lack of fun outdoors. My solution was to push the beds together and make a brand new size of bed...
Since it is bigger than all other sizes of beds, I decided to call in the GOD EMPEROR SIZED BED. No matter how tall you are, you'll never run out of leg-room on this baby! About the only problem is trying to find sheets and bedding to fit the thing.
And that's a darn shame, because it's pretty freakin' comfortable. I think between my new bed and the handful of pills I just took, I might actually get a decent night's sleep tonight.
Assuming nobody comes banging on my door at some insane hour again.
I really need to get me an electric cattle prod for such incidents.
Posted on Thursday, June 21st, 2007
Thursdays and Fridays the Seattle Art Museum is open until 9:00pm, so I ran down after work to see what had changed after their recent remodeling. The building itself is very nice, and the collection is eclectic and interesting. Overall, it's a nice addition to Seattle's list of attractions, and I'm glad that I had the opportunity to visit.
One of my biggest museum pet-peeves is museums that don't allow photography, and SAM is just such a museum.
I see nothing wrong with taking a snapshot of a piece you enjoy so you can remember it later on. Many other museums (a good number of which are far more important than SAM) agree, and are happy to allow photography so long as you turn your flash off. It's just a courtesy to visitors, and nothing more. It's not like viewing a photo could ever replace the experience of standing in front of the actual painting, drawing, sculpture, or other work... so what's the harm?
As loathsome as anti-photography museums are, they can redeem themselves in my eyes if they sell prints, postcards, and books which contain images of all their works. If I can't take a photo of something I want to remember, being able to take home a postcard is the next best thing, and I'm happy with that. So after coming upon a beautiful Takashi Murakami "Flower Ball" painting, I rushed to the gift shop expecting to find something I could buy with the work printed on it. But they didn't have anything. Not one f#@%ing thing. It didn't even appear in their catalog OR their web site.
This made me so mad that I felt like walking back to the ticket desk and asking for my $30 donation back.
But instead I returned to my hotel room and drew me a DaveToon homage to Murakami-san, whose work I absolutely love (for rather obvious reasons!)...
Helpful hint to the Seattle Art Museum: If you aren't going to allow people to take photo mementos of their visit, at least offer a way for them to buy a reproduction of your permanent collection in some form... like a postcard or something. This will keep people from getting pissed off at your visitor-hostile policies, and maybe give people even more reason to visit your beautiful museum when they are in town.
And now I'm off to bed, where I remain hopeful that I can actually manage to get some good sleep tonight.
This insomnia crap is getting really old.
Posted on Saturday, July 14th, 2007
When you travel a lot, people are always attempting to solicit advice or ask questions about the places you've been. What's your favorite city you've been to? (Edinburgh, Scotland). What's the most incredible thing you've seen? (The Great Wall of China). What do you feel is the most romantic city on the planet? (Paris, France). Where is the best food you've eaten in the world? (Rome, Italy). What do you consider to be nature's most beautiful sight? (Bryce Canyon, Utah). Where did you find the friendliest people on earth? (Bali, Indonesia). What city outside the US would you most like to live in? (London, England). Where do I go to change my life? (Thailand).
And the list goes on and on. Name a place I've been to, and I've undoubtedly got some great memory of something I've seen, done, or ate there.
But, surprisingly, one of the most often-asked questions is this: "What's a place you've been to that you hate?"
I never know quite how to answer this, because I don't "hate" anything (with the possible exception of Ann Coulter, but she is evil incarnate, so that's okay). I try my best to take only the positive away from anything I might experience, and let the negative go (blogging is good for that). Which is why I have had unpleasant aspects to my travels from time to time, but I don't dwell on them so much that I end up "hating" anyplace I've been.
Except, maybe Atlanta.
Partly because I've had more bad things than good things happen to me in Atlanta, making it difficult to let go, but mostly because the traffic there is the worst I have experienced in the entire world. Los Angeles, which is widely accepted as the worst traffic city in the USA, is a piece of cake by comparison. Shanghai? Beijing? Tokyo? Paris? Rome? Seoul? They have nothing on Atlanta. Sure there are cities like Lagos in Nigeria which could rightfully claim the title, but I haven't been there, so for me it's always been Atlanta. I would rather be kicked in the balls than have to navigate Atlanta traffic... especially in the summer heat.
So guess which major American city had to be forced into to my itinerary yesterday?
Unfortunately, NOT a complete list of stops in the Tour de Dave 2007.
Now, I'm sure that Atlanta is a perfectly lovely city to visit on vacation or something... there's a lot to see and do there... but to have to go to Atlanta for work is absolute torture because of the f#@%ing traffic making everything miserable.
And then there's the peaches...
The last time I was in Atlanta, I decided to treat myself to some Georgia peaches after having wasted two hours in a massive traffic jam just outside the city. My hotel which had a very nice restaurant, listed peaches and cream on the menu, which only makes sense because Georgia is "The Peach State," and tourists are going to want peaches so they can experience the state properly. So I got my peaches and was eating away when my waitress dropped by for small-talk. She asked me how I was enjoying my fruit, and I replied that it was pretty good, but tasted the same as Washington peaches back home. That's when she dropped the bomb that they probably were peaches from Washington or, more likely, California... or maybe even China. Apparently Georgia peach production drops every year, because orchardists just can't compete with the imports. Much like Washington's famous apples, I suppose.
Horrendous traffic, scorching heat, and fake Georgia peaches. Now that's something to look forward to.
Posted on Tuesday, July 17th, 2007
I am trying my best to think of something that hasn't gone wrong today. Turns out there isn't anything. Despite my hopes, I didn't sleep AT ALL last night, and it's all been downhill from there. To list everything that's gone wrong would depress even me, so I've decided to just list the top five...
• In my sleep-deprived state, I grabbed a bowl for my Captain Crunch cereal and knocked a coffee mug off the counter where it landed on the top of my foot. I now have a big welt there and can't tie my shoe. This wouldn't be a big deal, except my shoe keeps falling off, causing me to fall down and embarrass myself a lot. It's like being drunk... but without the benefit of being totally wasted.
• I am sitting here with a sticky-wet lap because the bottle of Coke I had on my break decided to overflow all over me for some reason when I opened it. It came straight from the refrigerator, so I have no idea what made it explode. I must have angered the Coke gods or something.
• Artificial Duck Co. store orders are starting to be returned to me with an "insufficient address" notice. Yet when I look in tracking, the address is complete (heck, they won't let you ship anything WITHOUT a complete address!). Apparently the postal service's Click-N-Ship is, in fact, Click-N-SHIT... because it generates bad labels. The glitch appears to be random, because when I track packages before and after the faulty label, they've been delivered. So, if you've been waiting for a T-shirt order and haven't gotten it... that would be why. I am re-shipping them immediately after I get the return, and will generate a new tracking email so customers will know what happened...
The even worse part of the deal is that I can't simply re-print their incorrect labels... I have to buy a NEW label, then request a refund for the original label. I'm not holding my breath that I'll be getting my money back. I'm sure they'll somehow make this my fault.
• A critical Fed-Ex package I am waiting for is lost. The only thing that tracking shows is a departure scan, then nothing. Nobody has any idea what's going on. It's as if the thing just evaporated in mid-air. In the meanwhile, I'm screwed. There's no way to meet deadline on my current project now, and I have no idea what's going to happen.
• Due to some stupid crap I didn't understand, the cost to change my airline tickets to my new itinerary was outrageously expensive, so I ended up keeping my old ticket and just adding a second ticket. So now I fly to where I am no longer working, then fly to where the new work is, then fly back to where I need to be so I can fly back to where I don't need to be so I can fly home. The airline industry has got the biggest scam going with their complicated, incomprehensible fare calculations. Why can't everybody just abandon this antiquated way of doing business and switch to more simplified and easily understood fare rules like Alaska Air? With Alaska, every segment is selected with full knowledge of EXACTLY what's going to happen if you need to make changes to it. And, since every segment has separate rules, you don't f#@% up the rest of your fare when you only need to add or change a single piece. I love this because it's a straight-forward way of doing business, and doesn't screw customers when their travel needs change. I mean, seriously, LOOK AT HOW SIMPLE IT IS...
When I fly Alaska, I simply choose "value" fares for segments I am sure about... then pay a little more for "full flex" on segments I'm not. Simple. It frustrates me that other airlines can't be this honest when you shop for fares, and makes me wish Alaska had more routes. Because, seriously, how logical is it that it's $1200 cheaper to buy an additional new ticket than adjust an old one?
• And here's the worst part of my entire day so far... it's only half over! Now that my lunch break is done, I've got an entire afternoon of even more horrendous crap to look forward to!
I want to go home now, climb into bed, and start the day all over again.
Or drink a fifth of Jack Daniels.
One of those two things.
Posted on Monday, July 23rd, 2007
If there's one thing I really hate... really, really HATE... it's being lied to.
I am sitting here in Minneapolis when all of a sudden there's an announcement that the inbound aircraft has been delayed, and we will be an hour-and-a-half late getting into Milwaukee. Well, shit happens, and I'm not too upset about it. If I got angry every time a flight was cancelled or delayed, traveling anywhere would be a miserable experience because there's very few times that stuff doesn't go wrong anymore... flights are always being delayed or canceled.
And then I see that the "delayed inbound aircraft" is coming from Seattle.
Which seems odd, because I just came off of the inbound flight from Seattle.
Which means this was NOT our original inbound aircraft. A quick check confirms our actual aircraft landed on time and originated in Anchorage.
Which means that Northwest is lying to everybody.
And that's stupid.
If they simply said "we've had to change aircraft because we fucked up" or whatever the TRUTH is, I'd be fine with it. But instead they keep announcing over and over again that the reason for our wait is that the inbound aircraft has been delayed. Probably because that sounds more like it's not their fault... hoping that people will assume it's the weather or something. Naturally, this leads me to believe that it IS something that's their fault, because why else would they lie?
And I really hate that.
Lying Northwest Airline bastards...
The real kicker is that if I would have booked this later flight out of Seattle in the first place, I would have had two more hours to goof around at home this morning. Or maybe even sleep-in after having worked until 1:30am.
But instead I'm sitting here being lied to.
UPDATE: And, of course, they lost my luggage. Instead of sleeping-in tomorrow morning, I have to get up and (hopefully) collect my suitcase at the airport instead. Another night of 4-hours sleep. Yay. Thank heavens for my emergency underwear stash in my backpack.
UPDATE: It's 2:00am and I am in my hotel room. Which smells like feet.
UPDATE: Feet which have stepped in a pile of shit.
OBVIOUS OBSERVATION: Clearly this has not been a good day.
UPDATE: My luggage was on the morning flight. Woo hoo! But I did have to pick it out from the carousel amidst loose cans of meat. Somebody packed up a box with food and it busted all over the place. Since I was starving from not having eaten all last night or this morning, I was very near grabbing a can and biting through the metal to eat it. But then I remembered I am a vegetarian. Now that I'm back to the hotel, I'm going to turn the air conditioner ON, take my pants OFF, and have a nap.
PS: The reason I didn't have the airport deliver my bag to the hotel is because I was told delivery runs are scheduled, and I may not get my bag until noon or later. Since I am flying out around then, it was worth the 10 minute shuttle ride to the airport so I could be sure I got it.
Posted on Tuesday, July 24th, 2007
And It's just a frakkin' cool as I knew it would be...
Amazing how handy it is to have Google Maps and the entire internet with me everywhere. I find myself turning to iPhone constantly, and I've only had it one day. Heaven only knows what my life will be like once its been fully integrated. Sure AT&T's EDGE network is painfully slow, but do I really care when I'm out in the middle of nowhere and need driving directions? To get un-lost, I'm happy to wait a minute for a map.
What really gets me is how great this is for a version 1.0 product, and I can't fathom what cool stuff Apple will be adding in the next update. iPhone is an incredibly functional and useful tool that's a joy to use. And, get this... the phone quality is not sacrificed... calls are SO much nicer than with my old P.O.S. mobile phone. Now that I have iPhone, I can't imagine going back to anything else.
Side note: Dave's wish list for iPhone 2.0: GPS functionality that integrates with Google Maps. Automated voice dialing.
Anyway, on my way back from work, I passed through Thomaston, Georgia, and couldn't resist stopping at the local Piggie Park drive-in for a grilled cheese sandwich and some fries...
My sandwich was a very reasonable $1.35!! I can't remember the last time I paid under $2.00 for a sandwich...
The place has been around since 1950, and is very popular. Even at 2:00, the place had a steady stream of customers. At the lunch hour it must be over-run...
And from the "totally tasteless but funny department," I saw this sign for a mailing service today...
Tonight will be my first night in four days where I'll actually have time to get some decent sleep. Needless to say, I am looking forward to that. The only thing that worries me is the impending thunderstorms which iPhone says are due to hit both Georgia and Wisconsin for the next couple days. I wonder what the odds are that I'm going to be stuck in Atlanta? Given my luck, the airport will be completely destroyed.
Oh well. It's not like I'll care... I'VE GOT MY iPHONE, bitches!
Posted on Wednesday, July 25th, 2007
This is actually the NEW WORLD OF COKE, which only just opened in May. It replaces Old World of Coke (which I visited years ago), and is twice as huge... with an advertised SEVENTY different Coke products available for sampling from around the world! Sweet!
This was going to be an awesome opportunity to meet some readers (which I always enjoy) AND drink my beloved Coke with Lime until I pass out from a sugar-induced coma.
The tour starts out with a waiting room where they inundate you with Coke memorabilia, then brainwash you into submission with an all-Coke audio soundtrack that features Coke soundbites, jingles, ads, and slogans throughout the years. Kevin was too smart to be brainwashed and found it all to be pretty funny, but I was converted into a Coke Zombie almost immediately. I'd like to blame it on the fact that I'm not in my native time zone, but the simple truth is that I'm a sucker for a good advertising jingle...
Coke Zombies ate my brain!!
They don't let you go to the Coke sampling room immediately... oh no... you have to watch a Coke film, walk through a Coke room, say hello to the Coke polar bear, see a mini Coke bottling plant, experience Coke in 4-D, and visit the Coke pop-art display first.
Then, AT LAST, it was time for my Coke with Lime!
I was so excited! Soda dispensers with drinks from around the world were here!
I didn't drink anything all day in anticipation of this moment!
Only to find out that WORLD OF FRAKKIN' COKE DOESN'T HAVE COKE WITH LIME!!!
That's right... NO COKE WITH LIME IN THE ENTIRE WORLD OF COKE!! They will let you sample the most horrendous tasting substance on earth (a soda called "Beverly" from Italy, which makes you want to die it tastes so bad) but you can't sample the divine elixir that is Coke with Lime.
My day was pretty much ruined. I went to World of Coke all happy and full of joy and stuff... but then left with nothing but a crappy free souvenir bottle of regular-old Coke...
The only reason I didn't kill myself right there in the middle of World of Coke was that Beth had given me this super-sweet baseball cap which she custom-embroidered with DaveDevil on the back...
Yes. Yes I know. It's like one of the coolest things ever. And having it put me in such a good mood that I didn't even feel like taking a flame-thrower to World of Coke until it burns the ground... even though it's totally justified, given that you can't get Coke with Lime there.
But I still kind of want to go back tomorrow with a crate of limes and vandalize the building with them. Maybe knock out a few windows and smear pulpy bits of smashed lime all over the walls...
Or maybe I could just alter their signs so that everybody will know the TRUTH...
Oh well. Life sometimes sucks that way.
Before we parted ways, Beth decided to improve her Dave Number...
She now has a Dave Number of TWO, which means she's part of that elite class of people who no longer have to pay taxes, always gets upgraded to First Class, and gets a 25% discount on chocolate pudding and cheese products at her local grocery store. The real advantages of such an awesome Dave Number, however, cannot truly be measured... it's the psychological benefit of knowing that you're a much cooler person than most everybody else on the planet who hasn't been lucky enough to meet me yet.
After seeing World of Coke without Lime and saying goodbye to Beth and Kevin, I walked across the plaza to visit the Georgia Aquarium, which is kind of nifty. It's a pretty big building, but it kind of has to be since they have WHALES inside of it! They're those freaky white Beluga whales, but still fun to watch.
In order to kill time and miss rush-hour on the MARTA train, I walked back to the Hard Rock Cafe so I could have a quick bite before returning to my hotel. They've changed things around since my last visit, but it's still a great property with a really good staff. I wasn't going to buy anything, but they had some cool new city pins, and I couldn't resist. But, then again, I never can. Hard Rock pins are like my Kryptonite or something.
I am still totally loving my iPhone. One of the coolest pieces of tech I've ever owned. But today I did find something that's not so great about it... the camera. I purposely left my little Canon camera back in my room because I thought I'd take all my photos with the iPhone camera. But it turns out that the thing sucks pretty bad for photos. Low-light situations render the camera practically useless, and iPhone isn't much better in really bright light. Unless everything in the frame is perfect lit in a way that's not too dark and not too light, you ain't going to get very good pictures. Kind of sad for a $600 mobile phone, but I guess it can't do everything. Fortunately, Beth had her camera with her so I had something to post here today.
Tomorrow it's back to work work work...
Posted on Thursday, July 26th, 2007
Note to Delta Airlines... delaying a two-hour flight by 30 minutes because you are waiting for CATERING TRUCK is not cool. Not cool at all. I'm willing to bet a million dollars that if you had asked everybody waiting for that flight if they would rather take off on-time OR be delayed a half-hour so they could have a half-can of Coke and a snack on a short two hour flight... the vast majority would tell you to shove the Coke up your ass. Seriously. Thirty frickin' minutes late for a tiny bag of peanuts and a cup of soda? Are you shitting me?!?
Anyway, just like iPhone had said, there were thunderstorms over the mid-west which made for a very bumpy flight. The ultimate irony would have been if it were too rough for beverage service, but the cabin stewards were real troopers. Probably because they were afraid the passengers would revolt if the half-hour wait for Coke was all for nothing.
When I finally landed in Milwaukee, I was lucky enough to hop in a cab driven by a foul-mouthed taxi driver who loved saying the f-word at the end of every sentence. Curious to see if he would realize it, I started dropping f-bombs myself at every opportunity. If he noticed, he didn't react. Very quickly, my cab ride started sounding like an episode of Deadwood...
Twenty minutes later I was dropped off at my favorite of all Milwaukee hotels, The Intercontinental. Twenty minutes after that, I was eating giant beer pretzels at the Rock Bottom Brewery... a trip which was made slightly more difficult than usual because the Kilbourn Bridge that links the two was closed.
And here is where things get interesting.
As I was leaving the restaurant, I ran into a small group of people. One of the people in this group was a cute, but very, very drunk girl. The reason I say she was drunk was not because she was stumbling around and slurring her words... but because she was offering oral sex in exchange for a ride home. The group thought this was hysterical, and kept egging her on. I was tired and in no mood to deal with it, so I moved as far away from them on the sidewalk as I could, trying my best to blend in with the buildings.
My efforts were in vain, because she ran up to me almost immediately...
DRUNK WHORE: I mean it, whip it out and let's go!
DAVE2: No, no... we can't have that. You might choke to death, and then where would we be?
- At this point, her group is laughing uncontrollably -
DRUNK WHORE: But I need a riiiiiiiiiiiiide!!
DAVE2: Ah, sorry, I don't have a car. But if you want to walk back to my hotel, I'll give you a T-shirt.
DRUNK WHORE: But I need a riiiiiiiiiiiiide!!
She then goes stumbling off into the night... going wherever it is drunken women go on a Thursday night in Milwaukee.
As I continue on my way back to The Intercontinental, I pass a very nice-looking restaurant that's completely dead. I can't see a single customer inside. In an effort to drum up business, the valet notices me looking in the window and asks me if I have ever eaten there. I say I haven't, and ask if they have a full bar. He says that they do, and I should go in and check it out. I then sigh and express my regrets... "I'd love to but, with any luck, there's a drunken whore waiting for me back at my hotel room."
Alas, this turned out not to be the case, but it had such a nice ring to it that I'm going to have to keep it in mind the next time I need an excuse to get away from somebody.
Posted on Friday, July 27th, 2007
I ended up working all day, escaping only long enough to grab an early lunch before being picked up for a meeting an hour-and-a-half away. Ordinarily this wouldn't give me much blogging fodder, except fate decided to intervene along the way.
And everything began with Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five.
For some reason I woke up this morning wanting to re-read Slaughterhouse Five for the hundredth time... probably because I've been getting lots of "friend requests" from GoodReads, and books are on my brain. I already have a copy of the novel back home (doesn't everybody?), but wanted to read it on the flight home Sunday, so I made a mental note to pick up another copy at the Border's down the street.
When lunchtime came around, I headed out to the book shop, making a stop at Jimmy John's along the way (I don't particularly like their sandwiches, but they build them really fast, and I was in a hurry). Rushing through Border's, I find a copy of Slaughterhouse Five, then grab a copy of Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down (which I've been meaning to read, and noticed was on sale for $4.99 in hardcover!). After paying for my books, 25 minutes of the half-hour I gave myself for lunch have evaporated. I resist the urge to run back to the hotel, but start walking as fast as I can.
With my mind focused on what I have to get done this afternoon, I round the corner on to North Water Street... and get sprayed with... water. Not a lot of water, but enough that my arm is wet.
In a mild state of shock (and irony, this being Water Street), I turn to where the water originated and see a guy standing there with a water bottle and a smile on his face. He then screeches "WOOF! WOOF! BYE-BYE! BYE-BYE!" at me. Obviously the guy is mentally challenged, and suddenly I don't know what to do. Part of me wants to rip the bottle out of his hand and dump it on his head with the hope that he learns it's not polite to spray people, but I just stand there. Ultimately, I conclude that I have no idea what the etiquette would be for the situation, and start walking back to the hotel. No harm was done, my shirt will dry, and life will carry on.
Except I keep reliving the moment over and over again in my head.
And now I am really upset with myself for not having said anything.
But not for the reason you might think.
I am worried that this guy is going to spray somebody who won't care that he is mentally handicapped. Somebody who decides to beat the crap out of him. I thought I was being kind by ignoring what he had done, but now I am thinking that it might have been kinder to have said something.
It's decisions like this which define us, and I think today I failed myself.
Posted on Tuesday, August 7th, 2007
My first trip to Paris was an accident.
My brother and I had just returned to London from a trip up to Scotland. When we arrived, the weather was miserable, and neither one of us felt much like running around the city in the rain, fog, and cold. Stopping in an internet cafe, we were going to look through Frommer's Online to find something interesting to do indoors, when I accidentally clicked on France instead of England in the little European navigation map. "Hey, you want to go to Paris?" I asked. "Okay" said my brother. So we booked a hotel on Expedia and off we went to the train station.
Three hours later, we were wandering around the streets of Paris trying to remember what hotel we had booked. Since neither one of us understood a word of French, this was not an easy prospect. All the hotel names sounded the same. We ended up having to call back home to my mother, wake her up, and have her go to Expedia and tell us the name and address of the "third hotel down the list on the fourth page" ("PARIS? WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN PARIS??") Of course, since we had not planned to visit Paris, this information didn't do us much good. We had no map and no way of knowing where the hotel actually was. Fortunately, the natives were very patient and friendly in helping us find it... a tiny little place with a view of the Eiffel Tower (if you stuck your head out the window and looked 90-degrees to the right).
For two days, we bummed around Paris, hitting all the touristy spots... The Eiffel Tower... Notre Dame... The Louvre... and even the Arc de Triomphe...
Photo by my brother, a far better photographer than I will ever be.
The visit was all too brief, but I fell in love with Paris and vowed to return.
Which I did the following year. But this time, I studied a Pimsler French course for three months before the trip. Speaking the language made my visit much more enjoyable, and I had four whole days to visit as many museums as I could manage before returning to London. A few years after that, I was in Germany and decided to meet up with a friend in Paris. My French skills had faded, but I could still manage to ask for directions and carry on a simple conversation.
The last time I was in Paris four years ago, I was dismayed to learn that my French skills were completely gone. I could barely manage to say "hello." When I got back, I immediately started listening to my Pimsler course again in an attempt to remember what meager French I had forgotten.
Fast forward to last week, and Laurence over at Bee Happy asks me to guest-blog for a day while she is on vacation. In a bold move, I decide to write my entry in French...
Two hours with my French dictionary (and absolutely no recollection as to how to construct a sentence) resulted in... something. Hopefully it's at least a little close to what I was wanting to say. My greatest fear is that I've mistranslated the text, and somehow end up insulting all of France. Since I would very much like visit again one day, the last thing I want is to be banned from the country over my crude French skills.
UPDATE: Laurence has shut down her blog, but I was able to find an archived copy of my entry. If you understand French, the original "Bad French" version is below, so keep reading.
If you don't speak French, Google can (kind of) translate my crappy attempt at French by clicking here.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Wednesday, August 8th, 2007
BUILT-IN ETHERNET IS CURRENTLY ACTIVE. BUILT-IN ETHERNET HAS A SELF-ASSIGNED IP ADDRESS AND MAY NOT BE ABLE TO CONNECT TO THE INTERNET.
I've got to start staying in a different hotel. Bad enough that this place doesn't have wireless and I have to bring my own ethernet cable for internet... even worse that it doesn't work half the time, so I end up having to drag my sorry ass down to the lobby for their crappy lobby wireless (which is almost as bad). Why is it some hotels just don't seem to get it? Most everybody NEEDS reliable internet now-a-days. If you don't provide it, and people are going to go somewhere else.
Today was yet another three-hour drive through
The good news is that if you leave at the right time of day, you don't have to share the road with anybody. The bad news is that if you've done the drive once, you've done it a million times... and it's always the same.
Of course, once you actually get to Spokane, you can drown your sorrows in two delicious slices of the Best Pizza in The Universe at David's Pizza...
I know I've blogged about this pizza like a hundred times now, but that's about all there is for me to write about here. I've lost count of the number of times I've taken that same photo composition, but oh well... here it is again: two slices of DaVinci pizza with a Stewart's Orange Cream Soda (which, coincidentally, is exactly what I would order for my last meal if I were on death row).
After dinner, I went to go see The Simpsons Movie which was kind of boring. The show definitely works better when the writers are condensed for time on your typical half-hour episode. Giving them 90 minutes just drags everything out. The real reason I wanted to see it, however, was to know if anything in the film would have a lasting affect on The Simpsons' "universe." For one character it actually does, which made me a bit sad (hey, I liked that character!).
And now it's time to head back to the lobby so I can post this. Fortunately, everything else I wanted to do on the internet tonight can be done on my iPhone while running around my hotel room in my underwear.
They don't let you do that in the lobby.
Posted on Friday, August 10th, 2007
In a mere two weeks, I'll be in Chicago for big-time fun and excitement, culminating in Saturday's blogger meet-up in the city on the 25th. Just like last year, the guest list is packed with a great bunch of people, and good times are sure to ensue!
Right now, we are planning to meet for dinner at Pizano's on Madison, in The Loop. But before we can make reservations, we need a head-count. If you are able to attend, please email me so I can call up and make reservations next week. Even if you've already told me you're coming, It would be great to have confirmation that your plans haven't changed.
Last year, dinner was just the beginning, and the festivities continued on into the night, as we just couldn't get enough of each other. Talking with people who "get" blogging is a treat, and I cannot wait to hang out with everybody again this year. Hope you can make it!
In other news, I've finally given up waiting for the mailing tubes to ever arrive for mailing out Artificial Duck Co. print and photo orders. I've done some test-mailings in boxes, and everything has arrived in great shape, so I'm just going to start mailing them out that way. This kind of makes me feel bad, because $5 of the price for the prints was to accommodate the cost of the tube and additional mailing charges. Now that I'm not using them, I've overcharged everybody by $5. To make up for it, there will be some extra goodies sent along with the orders. Again, thanks so much to everybody for their patience while I got this all sorted out!
Cover of the Artificial Duck Co. Print and Photo User Guide Booklet.
And now, it's time to get ready to head back to the coast for the weekend...
Posted on Sunday, August 12th, 2007
Home again, just in time for Bullet Sunday!
Today, on a very special episode of Blogography, Bullet Sunday is overtaken by a new meme started by Lewis over at Spirit of St. Lewis called Highlights That Shaped Your Life. Lewis is curious to know about those once-in-a-lifetime moments where you just know that "this is one hell of a special time." Here are ten of mine that come to mind...
1977 • Seeing Star Wars for the first time... Seriously, what geek saw Star Wars back when it was first released and didn't feel as if their life had changed?
1978 • Reading Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars... Science fiction was a random encounter until I read the first book of ERB's John Carter of Mars novels. After that, I was obsessed. I devoured science fiction in every form I could find it. My obsession would solidify after I read Frank Herbert's Dune, one of the most mind-blowing science fiction epics ever written. Sci-fi is now such a huge part of me, that I cannot imagine my life without it.
1979 • Buying Green Lantern #121 and The Flash #277... While out of my mind with boredom one day, I wandered downtown with $1 and no plans. I ended up buying my very first comic books so I'd have something to read. Thus began my lifelong infatuation with collecting comics, a hobby that has brought much entertainment to my life.
1983 • Visiting New Orleans for the first time... I won a high school DECA competition and got to go to New Orleans... completely unsupervised... for a week before my senior year started. This resulted in many "first" experiences, which very much shaped (mis-shaped?) my life.
1987 • Visiting my first Hard Rock Cafe... While vacationing in Maui with some friends in the late 80's, I happened upon my first Hard Rock Cafe. Needless to say, this had a profound affect on my life, as I've spent a great many of the years which followed visiting Hard Rocks around the world (current count: 106 properties). Though drastically outdated, I keep a journal of my Hard Rock obsession at DaveCafe.
1996 • Visiting Japan for the first time... My first "real" trip outside the country was all by myself to Tokyo, which is about as foreign a culture as you can get from the US. I had already fallen in love with Japanese comics (manga) and animation (anime), but it was embracing Japanese culture... even for such a short time... which sparked my love of travel that continues to this day.
1998 • Visiting Thailand for the first time... Of all the places I've been and seen, no one place has had a more profound affect on my life than Thailand. This was the trip that introduced me to Buddhism, a way of thinking which changed
2003 • Starting up Blogography... This is one of those rare events where you don't understand the significance of it until much later. I had been a blogger off-and-on for three years before I finally made a serious attempt at it back in April of 2003 (after a Blogography false-start in March 2002). Who knew?
2005 • Standing on the Great Wall of China... A life-long dream was realized when I, at long last, walked along The Great Wall two years ago. This began a trifecta of visits to ancient engineering wonders, when I visited The Acropolis in Greece and The Great Pyramids in Egypt earlier this year. Pretty special indeed.
2006 • DaveCago... I had met with fellow bloggers before, but the blogger meet-up in Chicago last summer was my first opportunity to hang out with a group of them. I had such a great time that I started meeting up with bloggers every chance I got, culminating with the amazing TequilaCon 2007 event in Portland, Oregon. If you haven't yet experienced the joy of hanging out with your fellow bloggers, there's a new meet-up in Chicago in a mere thirteen days, and TequilaCon 2008 comes to Philadelphia next Spring!
And another Sunday bites the dust...
Posted on Saturday, August 18th, 2007
I like to travel light.
Even for a two-week trip, I'll just take a single small suitcase and have my clothes washed at hotels along the way. Unfortunately, my upcoming trip has me bouncing all over the place, so I won't be anywhere long enough for laundry service. This means I'll be taking my big-ass suitcase, which I really don't like at all. There's nothing quite like dragging around a pile of dirty clothes with you wherever you go (thank heavens for zipper baggies!).
In better news... one week left to go...
Blargh. As I head off to bed now, I just realized that I have to get up in 3 hours so I can have time to finish my work and drive to the airport for my flight.
That kind of blows.
Posted on Sunday, August 19th, 2007
Since I'm flying to Chicago today, then driving north into Wisconsin, I've decided to bullet my entire day. Thanks to iPhone, it's a piece of cake.
Delicious chocolate cake with sour cream frosting and a side of chocolate pudding with a glass of milk.
• Crack of Night. Not "crack of dawn," because it's 4:10am, and dawn is hours away yet as I head to the airport. I've barely had three hours of "rest" (not sleep), so I can pretty much guarantee that this day is going to suck.
• Pulled Over. The final stretch of road to the airport is well-known to be notoriously patrolled by the police. I know this, and yet I'm so tired that I wasn't even bothering to watch my speedometer... I just followed the car ahead of me. Unfortunately, this was not too bright, because just as I can see the runway, flashing lights come roaring up behind me and I notice that I'm going 47 in a 40 zone. SHIIIIIIIIIIIIT! Rolling down my window, the officer says "And how's your day?" Trying to keep my disbelief from showing, I say "Well, it was going okay up until now." He finds this funny and replies "Eh, it will still be okay," and proceeds to let me off with a warning after calling up my flawless driving record. Pleasantly surprised, I find myself thinking that perhaps the day won't suck after all.
• Check-In. Lovely. The first words out of the agent's mouth as I approach the counter are to tell me that there is a weather advisory for Seattle, and the plane may have to return to Wenatchee if they can't land. I guess the day is going to suck after all. An interesting aside... my big-ass suitcase was 1.4 pounds above the 50-lb. limit. I took out a pair of jeans and hit a weight of 49.9 pounds... sweet! No additional baggage fee for me! Of course, now I'm having to carry that excess weight in my backpack, so I guess it all balances out in the end.
• Bitch-slap. Wenatchee's Pangborn Field is a tiny little airport served by one airline with minimal flights each day. Because Homeland Security fears that lax security at smaller airports poses a threat, the security team here is quite a bit more thorough than larger airports. This means passing through the check-point takes considerably longer because they only allow one person in the screening area at a time. This makes the line move agonizingly slow but, since the planes are so small, the wait isn't terrible. So when the dumbass behind me decides to advise me that I should unlace my shoes so I can be ready, I very nearly bitch-slap the fucker so hard his ponytail would snap off. "MY SHOES ARE ALWAYS UNLACED," I snap. "Uh... what?" he replies. "I DON'T LACE MY SHOES UP!!" I say even louder. "Oh!" He mumbles. The guy probably thought that I was blowing him off, but I was actually telling the truth. I haven't laced my shoes up all the way in nearly 20 years. But still, even if I did lace my shoes, what fucking business is it of his? If you're not with the TSA, kindly fuck off and don't tell me what to do.
• Take a Seat. The flight-load out of Wenatchee is fairly light, so the post-security lobby is almost empty. Yet, despite an entire room filled with empty seats, a clueless couple decides to sit right next to me AND take my arm-rest. I try to be flattered, thinking perhaps they like the way I smell or something but, truth to tell, I just want them dead.
• Strawberries & Ass. Across from me a woman is snacking on some kind of shredded-wheat-type cereal that has an obnoxious pink frosting on it. Even worse, the crap smells like strawberries and ass. I skipped breakfast this morning so I could eat in Seattle so, as hungry as I am now, even strawberry-ass cereal is making my stomach growl.
• In-Flight. We are told, twice, that there will be air turbulence on the way over to Seattle, so no beverage service will be offered. Problem is that this was one of the smoothest flights I've ever had out of Pangborn Field, so I can only assume that the cabin steward lady was too tired and/or lazy to pour apple juice at 6:00am.
• Unsurprising Delay. My flight into O'Hare has been delayed 30 minutes. Typical.
• Breakfast Burrito. Sea-Tac International was remodeled a few years back, giving weary travelers a very nice open-air food court with plenty of eateries to choose from. The egg-and-potato breakfast burrito at Qdoba is especially delicious. I order a large one with extra cheese and a carton of milk.
• BOSE Sucks! I really like my SURE headphones, but they don't fit into my iPhone, so I have to use this ridiculous adaptor. Problem is that the it sticks out pretty far and I keep smacking it with the stiff cords coming out of my earbuds. Terrified that I'm going to bust my glorious iPhone, I leave my SURE set at home because I know there's a BOSE booth at Sea-Tac. A sign on the booth says they open at 7:00am, but there's nobody there at 7:05am. With nothing better to do I decide to wait. Finally, at 7:22am, the booth bitch comes walking up with her cup of Starbucks. Apparently, her morning coffee is more important than getting to work on time. As I walk up to the kiosk, she immediately tells me "You'll just have to wait 5 minutes while I get set up." I'm pretty pissed, and tell her that "I've already been waiting 22 minutes and I'm not waiting any more." With service like that, BOSE can kiss my ass.
• iPhone Buds. There's an InMotion store at Sea-Tac, so I wander in and see that they have some V-Moda "Vibe Duo" earbuds made specifically for iPhone. They tell me that the microphone isn't great but the sound is good, and offer to let me try a pair. I don't care about the microphone (as I rarely use a headset when talking on my iPhone) so I give a listen. The sound quality isn't as good as my SURE buds, but they have very nice bass and crisp hi-lights that make The Cure and Nine Inch Nails sound glorious, so I go ahead at dish out the $100 and buy them. I've been listening with the Vibe Duos for an hour now, and they aren't too bad... some songs suffer from the hi-lights being too crisp, but overall it's good so I'm happy with my purchase. You could certainly do worse where earbuds are concerned.
• Storms of Chicago. Thunderstorms in Chicago have now delayed my flight even further. Two hours late and counting. Thank heavens I took that ass-early flight out of Wenatchee to make sure I had plenty of time for a connection! Word is that I may not even get out today. Waaahhh!
• Muckie? Mookie? Woo hoo! I'm on the plane! My in-flight snack is an oatmeal cookie with blueberries. It doesn't taste like a cookie though... it kind of tastes like a muffin. I guess that would make it a muckie? Or a mookie? Maybe a coofin? Whatever it is, it tastes pretty good. But, then again, I'm really hungry.
• Arrival O'Hare. I get to Chicago three-and-a-half hours late but, keeping in mind that there were other flights that got cancelled, I'm not going to complain. Except about the landing. The plane slammed onto the runway so hard that I think my brain got smooshed inside my skull. Seriously... I fly a lot, and this was pretty bad. I was expecting the landing gear to collapse we landed so hard.
• P.T. Cruisered. My rental car ends up being a little P.T. Cruiser, which I have never driven before. Unfortunately, the high center of gravity PLUS the small size PLUS the torrential rains PLUS the crappy stock tires make this a terrifying car to be driving in bad weather. It wants to spin and slide on wet roads anytime you try to stop at speeds over 40mph. This has given me some terrifying moments as the roads gets worse and the visibility starts dropping. I'll bet it's fun to drive when the roads are good though.
• Frozen Custard. I finally arrive at my destination in Wisconsin at 8:45pm. Because I haven't eaten anything except my muckie since 6:30am, I head directly to Culver's for some delicious crinkle-cut French fries and a caramel-cashew sundae. I embarrass myself by making yummy noises and having two orgasms while I eat my frozen custard.
And I guess that's all she wrote!
It is now 9:15, and I'm finally in my hotel room. I just found out that my work has been pushed back until late Tuesday (bleh!) so I now have an entire day-and-a-half to goof around. Who knows what trouble I'll get into tomorrow?
Posted on Monday, August 20th, 2007
My work schedule keeps changing. One minute I've got two days before I start... the next minute I've got two hours. This makes any grand adventure out of the question, so I decided to just wander down toward Milwaukee and catch a movie or something.
But first, breakfast.
Since it was 11:30am before I got my work situation figured out, I missed my breakfast window of opportunity... but still wanted breakfast. Remembering that Cracker Barrel serves breakfast all day, I decide to see if there's a location near me. Thanks to iPhone, stuff like this is simple...
And, just like that, iPhone pops up with the nearest Cracker Barrel down on County Line Road Q in Menomonee Falls (if Apple ever adds a GPS unit, that would eliminate step 2...hint, hint). Have I said how much I totally love my iPhone?
After a plate of eggs and corn bread muffins with a side of grits, I consult iPhone once again to see what movies are playing at the AMC down at the Mayfair Mall. Turns out that Superbad doesn't start until 1:40, so I decide to take a look at the new Apple Store at Bayshore Town Center in Glendale before I go. I have no idea where that is but, once again, iPhone comes to the rescue with detailed maps and driving directions, complete with traffic status. How did I ever get along in life without it?
The Glendale Apple Store is nice enough, but it turns out that Bayshore Town Center is a kind of elitist-fascist shopping area with a "Code of Conduct" posted at the entrances. Rules include "no congregating in groups of more than four people" and "no profanity" and "you must carry photo identification" and "no unauthorized photography." This kind of scary crap made me feel very much out of place and unwelcome, so I decided to bail. But not before screaming "FUCK YOU BAYSHORE TOWN CENTER" at the top of my lungs and taking this completely unauthorized photo of the Apple Store there...
Surprisingly, this anti-conduct behavior did not cause a swarm of security guards to come beat me up and kick me out of Bayshore Town Center as I expected. It's too bad, because then I would have REALLY had something to blog about.
Then I was off to the much more sane and friendly Mayfair Mall, where I arrived just in time to see Superbad. Except not really. Once the twenty minutes of commercials, advertising, previews, and crap had aired, THEN I got to see the movie.
Superbad was pretty darn funny, and seeing Michael Cera on the big screen just makes me miss Arrested Development all the more. Oddly enough, however, I found the main story-line with Jonah Hill to be kind of annoying... it was the sub-plot with two cops played by Bill Hader (funnier here than he's ever been on Saturday Night Live) and Seth Rogen (who co-wrote Superbad) that completely stole the show for me. Funny, funny, stuff... McLovin.
Almost as funny as when I went to pick up my rental car yesterday and saw that two guys had decided to ignore the warning signs, arrows, and big-ass spikes so they could exit through the entrance gate...
I hope that they purchased the full insurance coverage option on their rental. But I'm guessing that they probably didn't, because once I got inside I noticed them in a heated discussion with the manager. I think that they were actually trying to blame him for their mistake, so good luck with that guys!
And now I'm at work. But I can't hook my laptop up to internet here for some reason, so heaven only knows when I'll get to post this (my schedule has me working straight through until 9:00am). Bleh. Maybe I can escape for a midnight "lunch break" or something.
UPDATE: And so I run back to my hotel where I will have internet to post this, and decide to stop at McDonald's for a large fries and a chocolate shake. But when I get to my room and open the bag, I see that my large fries is only HALF-FULL!!! Frickin' rip-off McDonald's bastards! Is nothing sacred?
Posted on Tuesday, August 21st, 2007
And so it goes...
Bitch Got Three Spaces
Lyrics and Music by Blogography Gangsta.
Sung by Blogography Gangsta (featuring Snoop Dogg, G-Unit and 50 Cent).
Eatin' out at The Hut,
Getin' my pizza and sticks.
Jonesin' for a frozen custard,
Needin' to get in my licks.
Rollin' over to Culver's,
Dodgin' road construction.
Speedin' down the Sixty,
Wantin' creamy destruction.
Cruisin' through the drive-thru,
Handin' over four-nineteen.
Roundin' the corner with my sundae,
Diggin' the parking lot scene.
Frakin' van parked sideways,
Takin' up three whole spaces.
Talkin' on her cell phone,
Hogin' all the shady places.
You ain't even a customer, bitch!
Gotta be movin' your shit, bitch!
Get the =beep= out my face, bitch!
Else I pop a cap in your ass, bitch!
Because I roll like dat.
Because I smoke em' like dat.
Parkin' in the sunshine,
Soakin' up the heat.
Scarfin' up my custard,
Meltin' on the seat.
Lookin' over at the talker,
Lackin' any kind of class.
Dreamin' of my vengeance,
Beatin' on her cracker ass.
Creepin' past the stupid ho,
Slidin' my hand to my piece.
Raisin' up my mini Canon,
Snappin' the shutter release.
Laughin' my ass off as I pass,
Thankin' digital photography.
Makin' yo inconsiderate ass famous,
Postin' dis shit on Blogography.
You ain't even a customer, bitch!
Gotta be movin' your shit, bitch!
Get the =beep= out my face, bitch!
Else I pop a cap in your ass, bitch!
Because I roll like dat.
Because I smoke em' like dat.
Because I roll like dat.
Because I smoke em' like dat.
— All lyrics copyright ©2007 by Blogography.
Posted on Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007
When you find yourself driving between Chicago and Milwaukee time after time after time, you're always looking for something new and interesting to do. Today after work had FINALLY finished, I was planning on visiting America's Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, only to find out that they were closed for "summer break." To which I can only say "WTF?!?" Summer is when the most people take their vacation time and can visit your museum! Oh well. I guess I'll be saving that one for another trip.
With the museum out of the picture, I consulted a page of notes I keep about things to do in the Milwaukee and Chicago area. It's an ever-growing list of stuff I run across in magazines, web sites, or TV shows that sound like something I might enjoy. Buried in middle of the list was a single link and these words...
Wilmette Bahá'í - Timothy.
And that's when I remembered that Timothy had written about a wonderful visit to the Bahá'í Temple in Uganda, and had mentioned that there was another north of Chicago. So, after consulting iPhone for an address and directions, off I went.
And what a sweet decision that was. The Bahá'í House of Worship (Mashriqu'l-Adhkár in the original Arabic) was completed in 1953, and is an extraordinarily beautiful building that has to be seen to be belived...
You can't take photographs inside, but the ornate carvings continue once you enter the building. The dome is a remarkable piece of architecture because those carvings go all the way through, making it particularly beautiful as the light streams through the holes. The building itself is open to the public (no admission fee), and is meant to be a peaceful place for people of all faiths to come and pray or meditate.
I have a fleeting knowlege of the Bahá'í Faith because some friends I know are followers. In many ways, it's a nifty religion, attempting to unify different faiths by looking at them as manifestations of the same single God. This means that divine religious figures such as Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad, all come from the same place and are teaching different aspects of a single religion. This principle is so important that symbols of these other religions are carved on the outside columns...
(And, just because there's always somebody dying to make a smart-assed remark about Buddhists being Nazis, I should post a reminder that the swastika was used as a religious symbol in Hindu and Buddhist faiths thousands of years before Hitler was even born, and is used even today to mark Buddhist temples on maps in Asian countries).
There are currently seven Bahá'í Houses of Worship world-wide... Wilmette, USA - Kampala, Uganda - Sydney, Australia - Frankfurt, Germany - Panama City, Panama - Tiapapata, Samoa - Delhi, India (which is the most visited buildings in the world, and widely regarded as one of the most beautiful structures created). I can't help but wonder if I should make future travel plans around visiting all of them? Heaven only knows they are located in some interesting places.
And now, a few random bits to close out the day...
And I guess that's my Wednesday. Now, if you will excuse me, I think I will lapse into a coma.
Posted on Thursday, August 23rd, 2007
This morning I sat in my O'Hare hotel room staring at the traffic updates on my iPhone. The route into the city was flashing a lethal-looking red, so I figured there wasn't much point in leaving until the roads opened up. Otherwise, I'd just be paying for a taxi to sit in traffic as the meter racked up an already-huge fare.
Eventually around 11:00, there was enough green showing on the traffic monitor that I decided to head into the city and check-in to my hotel.
The first thing I did when I got to my room was throw open the window. It was a glorious day and, unlike most hotels, the windows here are not limited to opening just a few inches (I guess they're not worried about suicide jumpers). It's hot outside, with a few scattered clouds and beautiful blue skies...
While soaking up the atmosphere, something blows up against me and I look down to see this little card sitting in the window sill...
WTF?!? Beware of the spiders? SPIDERS?!?!
Then I look outside the window pane and see that, sure enough, there's little spider webs all over the building exterior. Then it hits me... GAH!! SPIDERS!!!
I think my worst nightmare would be to wake up in the middle of the night, notice that there's a strange tickling sensation on my face, then turn on the lights only to discover that my bed was covered in spiders. So, uhhh... yeah... we'll just close the windows and enjoy the view that way.
Around 1:30 I went to have lunch with a good friend and ex-coworker I haven't seen in a while. Everywhere I looked it was absolutely beautiful out, so we decided to eat outside. The heat was pretty intense, but an occasional breeze made things bearable. An hour-and-a-half later, lunch was over and I decided to head back to my hotel and catch up on some work. It was noticeably darker out, and I saw that additional clouds had started rolling in...
By the time I actually made it to the hotel, the weather was positively grim. Thunder was echoing in the distance, and rain had started to fall. The scene out my window just two hours after the first photo above had been taken was quite a bit different now...
Oooh! And there goes massive lightning flashes with thunder so loud that my windows are shaking. Sweet! You can't tell by the photo, but the rain is actually falling sideways. And the sky just keeps getting darker and darker, so I'm not sure what we're in for here in The Windy City. I'm guessing it's an alien invasion.
Maybe I should just crawl under the covers and try not to think of what might happen. After all, now that I have the spiders crawling around in my mind, do I really need something else to worry about?
Posted on Friday, August 24th, 2007
It's a sound I remember well. A sound I loathe with every fiber of my being. A sound I thought that I had eliminated from my life forever.
It's that annoying sound that a Motorola mobile phone makes when the battery is running low. Last night some dumbass in the room next to mine left his dying phone behind while he was away. I can only imagine that he was out banging some crack whore, and didn't want the inconvenience of having his wife call while he's acquiring his latest STD (why else leave your mobile behind?).
Meanwhile, I had to try and work while that stupid mobile phone kept begging for somebody to charge it. Eventually I cranked up my iPod so I wouldn't hear it, but that's not the way I work best. I need silence.
The owner eventually returned around 10:40pm... but waited an agonizing ten minutes before plugging-in his phone (sorry buddy, but washing your dick in the sink is no substitute for a shot of penicillin). Silence was mine at last, and I started in on my work once again, confident that my troubles were over.
I would be wrong, of course.
Around 1:30am I was beyond tired and decided to finally drop into bed. I took a couple of sleeping pills, hoping that I might be able to sleep-in late and get a full eight hours rest for once. Heaven only knows I need it after a week of not getting much sleep at all.
But the phone rang at 7:00am, waking me from a dead-sleep...
Since they hung-up on me, I'll now take a minute to respond...
Dear Anonymous Blogography Fan Callers,
Thank you so much for your phone call bright and early this morning at 7:00am! I cannot help but be touched. It's people like you who make my blogging experience all the more satisfying and worthwhile. By taking the time to let me know just how much you care, I'm even more inspired to keep writing in my blog. Your enthusiasm and kind words are a beacon of light in the darkness of my existence, and I am ever so grateful to you for sharing your feelings with me!
And one more thing before I forget...
After napping for a couple more hours, I had to go out most of the day for work. Around 2:00 it was scorching, and I decided to take a break from the heat. I bought a bottle of Vitamin Water and took a seat in front of an office building where they were kind enough to put benches around a large planter. While I was sitting there, I looked down and noticed a small worm struggling on the hot sidewalk. It had rained earlier, which probably drew him out of hiding, but now all the moisture had evaporated leaving him high and dry. I was pretty sure the little guy was a goner, but I kicked him aside, picked him up, then set him in the planter under the shade of some greenery. Maybe he would get lucky and recover.
A woman sitting two seats away from me was talking on her mobile phone loud enough for me to overhear her disgust as she said "Gross! Some guy just picked a WORM up off the STREET!!" I immediately turned towards her and said "Don't worry, if you were to collapse dying on the sidewalk right now, I wouldn't lift a finger to help YOU out."
Then I walked away mad at myself because I knew that I undoubtedly would help the bitch if she collapsed on the sidewalk.
But I'd "accidentally" step on her mobile phone and smash it into a million pieces while I was trying to save her hater ass. Karma, and all that...
Posted on Saturday, August 25th, 2007
Two of the hotel spiders have disappeared, leaving me with one sole window-mate remaining. At first I thought that he might be dead, but then I saw him wandering around his web and upgraded his condition from "dead" to "feisty zombie." He's out for blood alright, and it's only a sheet of double-paned glass that separates him from mine.
From a distance, Wesley (that's what I named him) is a fairly innocent-looking creature. He's small (less than an inch in length) and could even be considered "cute" if you can get past the fact that he'd gladly kill you if he had a bit more size on him. But when you put your camera on super-zoom, Wesley looks pretty terrifying...
He's not somebody I'd like to have as a house-guest, that's for sure.
Anyway, I'm all ready for Davecago2 tonight, and am really looking forward to seeing everybody...
UPDATE: Well, I was planning on posting about the event tonight, but it's past midnight and I have to be up at 5:00am... so I guess my Davecago wrap-up will have to wait for another day. Suffice to say that it was big-fun, as always, and a big thanks to everybody who made the trip!
Posted on Sunday, August 26th, 2007
It's Bullet Sunday back at home, as I return from a week of fun and excitement in the Mid-West. Well, at least ONE day was fun and exciting... most of the rest was nothing but hard work and sleepless nights. Right now I'm exhausted and feeling thoroughly worn out, which is why I'll be off to bed directly after finishing up this entry.
• Davecago2... Nothing makes me happier than adding people to my "Bloggers I've Met" list that's growing ever-longer in my sidebar. So, in addition to Ariana, Diane & Evan, Gary, Jenny, Kevin, RW, Mrs. RW, this year's Chicago Meet-Up happily allowed me to add three new bloggers to the list...
Excellent blogs, all of them.
And lastly, truly... from the bottom of my heart... thanks again to everybody who took time out of their weekend to come eat pizza and visit. Saturday meant a lot to me, and it's always an amazing feeling to connect with my fellow bloggers up-close and in-person. Hopefully we can do it all over again next year!
• Bob 'Maters... RW and Mrs. RW arrived at the festivities bearing gifts... in the form of two perfect garden-fresh tomatoes. I was then charged with the rather daunting task of getting them home in one piece and squished-free. The box I had for them was too small, so I ended up protecting them the best I could with T-shirts and books. Fortunately, airport security decided that they were not a liquid or gel, and they survived the trip in perfect shape. It was Mrs. RW who suggested a BLT sandwich so, after micro-waving some veggie bacon, lunch was served...
Needless to say, my sandwich was totally delicious. Few culinary delights can compare to a garden-fresh tomato! Except chocolate pudding. Or maybe chocolate cake. Or perhaps even ice cream. But yeah, a garden-fresh tomato is hard to beat.
• Pizano's... Choosing a pizza restaurant in Chicago is a tough thing to do, because there are so many good ones to pick from. For the most part, any pizzeria worth its salt will be able to get a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza right, as it's one of the city's signature dishes (I'm partial to Giordano's for deep-dish, but have had many great pies from many terrific Chi-Town restaurants). What's more difficult is finding a pizzeria that serves a good deep-dish AND a terrific thin-crust pizza. And for thin-crust, it's tough to beat the cracker-crispy "butter crust" from Pizano's. So many thin-crusts are boring and flavorless, but all that butter does wonders here...
If you're looking for good pizza in Chicago, you might want to give Pizano's a try.
And it's midnight. Time for sleep...
Posted on Wednesday, August 29th, 2007
Today has been a much better experience than yesterday. Instead of wanting to shoot people in the face, I merely want to break their knee-caps or give them a wedgie or something. Of course, I'm blogging early, and so there's plenty of room for massive trauma to strike before the day is done.
That probably sounds pessimistic, but I prefer to think of it as realistic. And THAT probably sounds defeatist, but I prefer to think of it as not setting myself up for disappointment.
In other news... it is SO on, bitches!
I don't know where or what time yet (suggestions welcome!), but I will be working in La La Land during the week and totally ready to meet on Saturday for big fun and excitement. So if you think you'd like to come hang out with swell bloggers and have a bite to eat, please email me at email@example.com so we can get a head-count and I can make name-lanyards and reservations and stuff. Hope you can make it!
I haven't asked Paris if she'll be able to attend yet (she's working on both a new album and a new book), but I've got my fingers crossed...
Lil' Dave is totally not wearing panties in this shot...
Next up will be Orlando, hopefully in October, but I haven't planned my schedule that far out. Heck, I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing tomorrow.
Posted on Saturday, September 15th, 2007
And I'm off to Chicago... again. Well, assuming that Horizon Air doesn't cancel my flight. Apparently some of the aircraft in Horizon's fleet have had a safety recall of the landing gear, and they've been canceling hundreds of flights throughout the week to do inspections. I'm told that ended yesterday, but I won't know for sure until I get to the airport. Fun.
For some reason, I had it in my head that I was returning home before my trip to L.A., and it wasn't until I printed my boarding pass that I realized I am flying direct to LAX once my work in Chicago is over. This caused a panic of an entirely new flavor, because I've got a lot of stuff to get ready before my trip to La La Land. Guess I won't be getting any sleep tonight after all.
In other news, I got a lovely comment this morning from some guy who was outraged because I dared "desecrate a classic" with a cartoon parody of Curious George I made last year...
I find this ironic, because I'm about the biggest Curious George fan there is, and have been collecting Curious George books and toys for a very long time now. I guess I shouldn't be surprised... I mean, I've already got Kenny Chesney fans hating on me... and Harry Potter fans hating on me too... but Curious George?!? Seriously? I'd have thought my fellow George fans would have a better sense of humor about these things. He is, after all, a monkey.
Oh well. Back to work. Back to work.
Posted on Sunday, September 16th, 2007
I'm BS-ing my way to Chicago! Hmmm... it seems like just four Bullet Sundays ago, I was also on my way to Chicago. Oh, wait a second... it was four Bullet Sundays ago! I wonder what will go wrong this time...
• Safe... Well, I didn't get pulled over for speeding. That was a pleasant change from last time.
• Praise... Some guy behind me was told that his bag needed to be searched at airport security, and his response was to preach holy scripture at the TSA agent. This was kind of bad-ass, in a Samuel L. Jackson Pulp Fiction kind of way, but I didn't see how the passage was applicable. A Google Bible search on the parts of the quote I remember resulted in Colossians 2:8... "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Does this mean Jesus is the only one allowed to search his luggage? Sadly, I don't think Christ has a day-job working for the TSA, so I guess this guy is out of luck.
• Prayer... And, of course, the same guy has to say a prayer as we're taking off ("Lord protect us on this journey...") which is no big deal... until some drunken woman starts laughing hysterically in the middle of it ("...we ask that you give our pilot the skill and knowledge to deliver us safely..."). I sit in my seat waiting for God to smite our plane in a ball of fire so as to destroy this drunken bitch for her blasphemous mirth, but it would seem as though He has a sense of humor about it all and we land in Seattle without incident ("...amen").
• Breakfast... For the first time in two weeks, I eat gluten by having a flour tortilla on my egg & potato wrap at Qdoba. I fully expect to explode any minute now.
• Borders... I filled iPhone with plenty of videos, so I don't really need a book, but decide to stop in at Borders anyway (out of habit?). There I notice that there is a new version of "1000 Places to See Before You Die" called "1000 Places to See Before You Die In the US and Canada." I suppose that this edition is for people who want to travel, but don't want to be inconvenienced by leaving North America, which I find to be opposite of what the original book was all about. But the most curious thing I saw in the book store was that Bad Monkey has inspired a novel!
I demand royalties!!
• Puppies! Seattle must be hosting a convention for the blind or something. As I sit here waiting for my flight, the inbound aircraft is exiting. Among the passengers are numerous seeing-eye dogs (with their owners) and people finding their way with white canes. It's a pretty cool sight (no pun intended). I love dogs, and wish that I was home often enough to have one. These dogs are especially nifty, and it's pretty heart-warming to see such dedicated animals making a better life for people.
• Retreat... Ah. One of the puppies (who I learn is named "Denver" from his owner) is sitting next to me. I find out that everybody was on a retreat to Victoria and Vancouver in Canada testing out GPS units for the blind. How cool is that? Denver was given some kibble to tide him over, and I volunteered my water so he could wash it down. He was given surprisingly little of it to drink, however. Though this probably because there's no place for a dog to pee on a plane. Hmmm... and why don't airplanes have lavatories for dogs?
It's Denver! And he's hiding! Photo courtesy of the crappy camera on my iPhone
(heavily Photoshopped so as not to look like a smudgy blur).
• Access... Tell me... if humans are not allowed in the "Starter Override Access Hole," then who do they send in when the starter override needs overriding? Trained monkeys? This does not bode well, as monkeys make terrible mechanics.
Hey! Find another hole, buddy!
• Arrival... Both flights were on-time for departure and arrival? Stroke of luck or sign of the Apocalypse? Though my bag did take a half-hour to arrive at baggage claim, so I guess it all balances out in the end.
• Taxi... Get this. I'm waiting in line for a taxi because the line for the Airport Express shuttle is way too long. After about seven minutes, I finally get to the front of the line, only to have some woman jump ahead of me and try to take my cab! I yell "HEY! THERE'S A LINE HERE!!" to which the woman responds "yes, but I'm in a hurry!" Lovely. "WE'RE ALL IN A HURRY!!" I reply. She keeps trying to open the door on the taxi, but the driver has seen her cut in line and refuses to unlock it. Then the taxi queue guy comes walking up and asks the woman what she thinks she's doing. "I'm very late and there are people waiting for me!" she says. "Yes, but this gentleman is ahead of you!" the guy replies, pointing to me. "HE TOLD ME I COULD GO FIRST BECAUSE I'M IN A HURRY!!" she screeches. "NO I DID NOT!! YOU NEVER ASKED!" I scream back. What a fucking bitch. Had she ACTUALLY asked, I might have said okay... but to lie like that while I'm standing there just pisses me off. There's no way in hell she's getting my taxi now, so I walk up to the door, the driver unlocks it, and away I go while the bitch is left screaming on the curb. I congratulate myself on not slapping the shit out of her for being such an asshole.
• Navigation... Ooh! My taxi is one of those new-fangled cabs with a GPS map in it! Sweet! Now I can see where I am as we sit in traffic!
That will be $38.00 please!
• Hotel... And here I am in my hotel (which will remain undisclosed, because I have learned my lesson last time). It's not The Hard Rock Hotel where I usually stay, but is quite nice. The only problem is that they don't have wireless internet, and the ethernet cable won't reach from the desk to the bed. Bleh!
And now I will climb out of bed, go to the desk, hook up to the internet, and post this so I can take my leave of you. I am meeting friends for dinner, and don't want to have to jump in front of people at the taxi queue in order to arrive on time. I'm courteous like that.
Posted on Monday, September 17th, 2007
The rest of my yesterday was uhhh... interesting. I've put it in an extended entry for anybody who wants to read what happens when you go off a restrictive diet and eat loads of fried foods.
Today I managed to spend some time at Chicago's All-Candy Expo. It's not as huge as the ISM show in Cologne Germany I attended in January, but it's still a pretty spectacular event if you like candies as much as I do. The coolest thing about the show is seeing the new stuff companies are coming out with, and how candy technology keeps advancing.
Anyway... when you arrive at the show, you are greeted by M&M's!
This is kind of cool, but not as cool as visiting the M&M booth where they will draw a caricature of you as an M&M. And even that isn't as cool as visiting the super-sweet M&M race car...
I especially like the tail-end of the car...
Not to be outdone, Snickers also has a race car at the show. And so does JUICYFRUIT!...
The All-Candy Expo is so big that it can be hard to decide where to start. I took a panorama of the show floor and it ended up being so big I couldn't fit it in a computer graphic, so I took three chunks of it and put them here. It's all candy, baby...
Well, not ALL candy. There are other snack foods there too. I saw a lot of beef jerky. In fact... "you might be a redneck if you own your own beef jerky company"...
And then I saw that Steve Irwin was back from the dead to endorse Crocodile Hunter Chocolates (I've already said how I feel about the deceased endorsing products)...
Some of the stranger stuff I saw was CARROT GUM! Yes, seriously, carrot bubble gum...
And Jesus Candy Canes ("Blessed is he who licks unto Him")...
My most favorite new candy treat was GüdFüd's jelly or chocolate stuffed marshmallows. I can't eat them because I'm a vegetarian and they have gelatin in them, but they're probably the cutest candies ever...
And, of course, PEZ was there. Gotta love PEZ! This time I saw that they have FUZZY PEZ!!
There was also a kind of Pez imitator of some kind. I didn't quite understand how they worked, but I especially like the Human Torch dispenser because of his funky flame-hair...
And, lastly, I bring you the Hello Kitty's Beauty Kit... filled with candy jewelry, candy makeup, and candy perfume...
Hey, heaven only knows that I never look more beautiful than when I'm covered in candy!
And that's just a tiny slice of all the amazing stuff I saw while cruising the aisles of the All-Candy Expo this afternoon. What a delicious way to spend your day.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Tuesday, September 18th, 2007
Today at lunch I went back to the All-Candy Expo to take another look around... and to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. debut his new candy bars.
Not surprisingly, a lot of people were crowded around the booth.
What did surprise me was the name of the candy bars: "Big Mo." I guess that term doesn't mean what I thought it means? A Google search tells me that it's a nickname for his home town (Mooresville, NC) and that his racing team is called "Big Mo Posse."
The good news is that both his candy bars are darn tasty... they're back-to-basics caramel or peanut butter dipped in creamy milk chocolate. And they're a good size too! Dale himself seems like a really nice guy, and comes across as a down-home kind of person (which is refreshing given his superstar status). He even stuck around to answer questions from the audience, which was cool of him...
But the candy I MOST wanted to eat at the Palmer booth? PEANUT BUTTER PENGUIN PALS!!!
Coolest. Candies. Ever.
I would have liked to have stayed at the show for the rest of the day, but work was piling up so I had to go.
After working for a few hours, I took a quick break this afternoon to do something I haven't done since my first trip to Chicago 18 years ago... go to the top of the Sears Tower! I had re-watched Ferris Bueller last week, and was compelled to visit.
I will never go to the Sears Tower again. Nor will I recommend it to people.
Once you get there, they literally take you hostage. You are FORCED to sit and wait 15 minutes for a movie presentation that they MAKE you watch, as verified by a man and his wife who were in line behind me...
HOSTESS: Please enter the theater to watch a presentation before going up to the SkyDeck.
MAN: We don't want to watch a presentation... we just want to go to the top.
HOSTESS: It's a very nice presentation!
MAN: I'm sure, but we are in a hurry and don't want to watch it.
HOSTESS: It's only six minutes long, then you'll be on your way.
MAN: But we DON'T want to watch it!
HOSTESS: We'll get you up there! We'll get you up there!
MAN: Does ANYBODY here want to watch this presentation?
HOSTESS: Enjoy the presentation!
And, sure enough, you have to sit there six minutes to watch a video presentation. It wasn't bad, I guess, but you shouldn't be FORCED to watch the crap. If I had a choice of having to wait 15 minutes then sitting through an additional 6 minutes of the presentation... or just hopping in the elevator and going to the top of the Sears Tower, I would have skipped the presentation. To be honest, that's 21 minutes of my life I'd like to have back. NOTE TO SEARS TOWER MANAGEMENT: People don't like to pay to be held hostage. If somebody pays you $12.95 to go to the top of your building, LET THEM GO TO THE TOP OF YOUR BUILDING WITHOUT FORCING THEM TO WATCH SOMETHING THEY DON'T WANT TO SEE! Because that just makes you a bunch of assholes.
Sure the view from the top is nice, but I'd rather go to Hancock Tower, with a view just as good... and there they don't force you to watch a movie. On top of that, but they're $1.65 cheaper and have a better location.
Oh well, here was my trip to the Sears Tower...
The tall black building in the center of the back skyline is "hostage-free" Hancock Tower, where I'd rather go for a view of chicago...
And thus ends my trip to Chicago. I think I'm back in November, but can't remember for sure.
Posted on Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
And here I am in Los Angeles on "Talk Like a Pirate Day" after a very early flight out of Chicago.
When I first started coming here for work years ago, I never drove anywhere. I was provided a car and driver, and never much had to think about where things were at. Eventually this got kind of boring and I wanted to make my own way around, so I started renting a car whenever I had work here. For a nine-month period, I was flying down to L.A. fairly frequently, and got to know the streets of the city pretty well. In many ways, it's Los Angeles I have to thank for teaching me how to really drive a car.
Alas, my trips to L.A. were less and less frequent as time went on. I'm lucky if I make it once a year now. Because of that, I don't feel as comfortable driving here as I used to. It's far easier to just schedule the car and driver or take a taxi.
But never walk.
Today I made the huge mistake of choosing to walk in a city where nobody walks. It was only six long blocks, but I could feel the stares of confusion and contempt as people went driving past. "Funny, he doesn't look homeless!" I imagine them saying. I became worried when I waited at crosswalks that drivers who were stopped at the light were going to panic and throw money at me so that I would go away.
But it was a beautiful day. Plenty of sunshine, but not too hot and with a nice breeze going on...
Pretty much everything you want from a day in La La Land.
Los Angeles is such a bittersweet city for me.
I have great friends here. I remember good times here. There are places I treasure here.
But L.A. is a city that can really destroy you if you're not careful... more-so than any other city I've been to. My "big break" here ended badly, and I consider myself lucky to have escaped with my spirit and sanity (somewhat)
Los Angeles is always calling me in the back of my mind.
Because there are also so many reasons I love this place.
And a part of me just can never... let... it... go.
That's probably a good thing.
Posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2007
There are perfect days... and then there are perfect days.
Since Hilly and I are BFFs in the blogosphere as well as in real-life, we had made plans to spend today in Disneyland. I didn't have any work appointments, so it was a great idea because I hadn't been to the park in a long while. I used to go all the time, but kind of got burnt out on the whole Disney thing, and stopped visiting around seven years ago.
For a reason unknown to both of us, we decided to become Southerners for our day of Big Disney Fun, and took on the entirely new personas of "Hilly-Sue O'Hara" and "Davy-Joe Butler" all frickin' day...
Davy-Joe and Hilly-Sue ride the Grizzly River Run!
We started off in the California Adventure park, where the first ride we went on was the Grizzly River Run. It was very cool and got us very, very wet. The not-so-cool part was when something went wrong with the ride, and we were stuck at the top of the falls for around 10 minutes. Little did we know that this would not be the last time something like that happened.
Soaking wet, we moved on to the remainder of the park... which is actually kind of lame. Most of the attractions are just off-the-shelf stuff with none of the clever theme-work that Disney is famous for. With the exception of "Tower of Terror" (which is missing some of the cool stuff you get to see in the Orlando version) everything is just so ordinary. In my humble opinion, California Adventure is kind of an embarrassment for Disney and should have never been made. They should have worked harder to come up with better, more interesting, and certainly more unique, attractions.
Though I DID get to meet one of my favorite cartoon characters ever... Sully from Monsters Inc.!!
I love you Sully!!
As we went back across the plaza to Disneyland, we started noticing some very cool things. First of all the weather, which we had heard would be filled with rain, actually ended up being a positively stunning day. All the clouds were gone within an hour leaving us with nothing but blue skies and cool breezes for the rest of the day...
The second cool thing was that both parks were entirely decked-out for Halloween...
But the BEST cool thing about our visit?? NO LINES!!!
Except for the brand-new Finding Nemo version of the old Submarine Ride in Tomorrowland (which is excellent, by the way)... we didn't stand in line for more than a few minutes on anything! The queues were wide-open, meaning that we could just walk up to all the rides and walk-on. Sweet!!
And walk-on we did... to all but two rides we were wanting to visit. The Haunted Mansion was closed so they could re-theme it for "A Nightmare Before Christmas." And The Matterhorn broke down right as we were next in line to board a bobsled. But everything else... from Splash Mountain to Pirates of the Caribbean to Space Mountain was a piece of cake.
Between the perfect weather, HalloweenTime fun, Hilly's company, and NO LINES, this is the single best trip to Disneyland I've ever had.
The only bummer was when we were reminded that Dustin wasn't there joining us every time we saw a churro cart...
And when we finally had to leave as the park was closing at 8:00...
All-in-all, the entire day was some kind of Disney magic!
And now I'm exhausted from walking entirely too much, eating entirely too much, and talking entirely too much... time to drop into a coma.
Where I'll be dreaming of Mickey Mouse and my perfect day at Disneyland.
Posted on Friday, September 21st, 2007
I finished with work around noon, and had made plans for lunch with the fabulous Suzy Soro from Hollywood: Where HOT Comes to Die! I figured she would be passed out from hunger in the 90 minutes it would take to drive across town and pick her up but, in what must have been a record of some kind, my driver managed to make the trip from LAX to the Hollywood Hills in under 40 minutes!
Once Suzy was on-board, we made our way to the Hollywood dining institution of Pink's for hot dogs...
The line never seems to drop below a 20-minute wait at Pinks any time of day.
Liz over at Everyday Goddess had told me that they served a veggie dog, and I was anxious to try it out...
My Patt Morrison Baja Veggie Dog, Suzy's Chili Dog, and a Martha Stewart Dog for our driver.
After getting our driver his hot dog, we grabbed a table inside to eat. Then, as if by magic, I look up and there was Betty White! Well, not actually Betty White, but an autographed photo... right between Nelly and Eduardo Arroyuelo...
I love Betty! Betty White totally kicks ass!
My "Patt Morrison Baja Veggie Dog" was covered in really good guacamole, then smothered in chopped tomatoes & onions and tasted fantastic! I'm going to have to try making them myself when I get back home.
After lunch we went up to the Hollywood Walk of Fame so we could say hello to Catherine, then went star searching...
KHAN! KHAN! KHAAAAAAAAN!
We also ran across this totally sweet puppy. I wanted to put him in my pocket and take home...
Yeah, it doesn't get much cuter than that.
Once I had bought a crappy (and totally inaccurate) Star Map, our driver took us through Beverly Hills and down Rodeo Drive so we could see how the other half live and shop. From there Suzy and I decided to go down to Venice Beach, where the storm we've been expecting for two days was laying just off the coast. This made for some cold weather, but beautiful background scenery...
More bars in more places... Cingular is now the new AT&T.
The fabulous Ms. Soro at Venice Beach just before the rain.
Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!
After being assaulted by every hip-hop hopeful in Los Angeles wanting us to listen to their music and buy their CD, it was time to head back. I only had the car until 6:00, and the horrendous Friday rush-hour traffic over to Hollywood and then back to LAX was going to tear through that like wet toilet paper.
And so here I am back at my hotel getting some more work done while trying to decide what I want for dinner.
I can't really decide, because all I really want is another Pink's veggie dog.
Posted on Saturday, September 22nd, 2007
I have a very full day ahead of me... but it's a good thing, for once.
Posted on Sunday, September 23rd, 2007
It's Bullet Sunday as I attempt to blog after a 3-hour nap out of the past 35 hours. My time in L.A. was all-too-short, but I got a lot packed into four days... with Saturday being so jam-packed with big fun that I just don't know what to do with myself.
• Lunch! Proving that there is life outside the blogosphere, I met up with a friend who doesn't have a blog (gasp!) for a tour through the geekier-side of Los Angeles' treasures... including two great comic book shops (Meltdown and Golden Apple) so I have a place to go for comics now that Jay & Silent Bob's Secret Stash West is closing up shop. We also went out for a pizza lunch to a place called Mozza where I was hoping to run into Betty White stopping by for a slice (since this IS a Hollywood hot-spot). Alas Betty wasn't there, so I had to make due with Madeline Stowe sitting next to me (who got up to leave after I sat down). Mozza has probably the best pizza crust I have ever eaten... so deliciously flaky that it's almost a pastry instead of bread. They also make one of the most beautiful pizzas ever...
Gorgonzola dolce-fingerling potatoes-radicchio-rosemary pizza!
• Star! I had an hour to kill after lunch, so I hunted down Betty White's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame using the map that Suzy and I had bought yesterday. I am in absolutely no way a guy to get star-struck, and couldn't care less about seeing movie stars or famous people, but Betty White is the one exception (well... maybe I'd add Elizabeth Hurley and James Earl Jones to that list, but Betty is the only star who would probably make me crap myself if I were to ever meet her)...
I LOVE YOU BETTY! Betty White kicks ass.
• Lucky! The fabulous Dave L.A. event was taking place at the Lucky Strike Hollywood, which is a kind of nifty-cool boutique bowling center right next to the Kodak Theater...
Feeling lucky, punk?
Once I got inside, I saw that SJ from Pseudotherapy had already arrived with her husband Bret, at which point I wanted to shoot myself, because I could have been visiting with them instead of wandering the streets of Hollywood killing time. SJ is one of the earliest supporters of Blogography (not to mention one of the sweetest people you will ever find), and this blog owes a great deal to her (and others like her from those early days) for being what it is today. To finally meet her in person after all these years is the type of thing that makes blogging all worthwhile...
Photo by Bret. I'm totally drunk and sweaty from bowling here... sorry SJ!
• Dinner! It was great to see some familiar faces at dinner... Liz from Everyday Goddess (whom I met back in 2005), Neil & Sophia from Citizen of the Month (whom I had met at TequilaCon earlier this year), and of course mah BFF Hilly-Sue from Snackie's World was there. And here's some other fabulous bloggers I met for the very first time that dropped by...
• Photograph! I was so busy drinking and talking that I was forever forgetting to take pictures. Here's what few ended up on my camera...
Foo reenacts my Salt & Pepper DuckyButton while Hilly looks on.
Catherine attempting to explain to The Bombshell how cool I am while The Ninja gives me his death-stare.
Whit couldn't make it and asked us to bowl a game for him, but instead we had a round in his honor.
SJ has a professional camera, so she made fun of our little pocket models like this one.
• Bowl! Uhhhh... yeah. Much like an observation my friend made about the effects of alcohol on playing darts, a similar conclusion can be made about bowling. It's made much, much worse by the fact that I totally suck at bowling in the first place...
Everyday Goddess Bowling!
• Homeward! By the time I had gotten back to the hotel and packed my suitcase, there was only three hours until I had to be at the airport, so I didn't even bother even trying to sleep. Instead I attempted to get some work done and whine to myself about how tired I was. As if fate were trying to ruin me, my flight out of Seattle was delayed "due to mechanical difficulties," robbing me of even more precious sleep. But here I am, home safe and sound after a fantastic week of fun and adventure, so I have no complaints.
And that wraps up another Bullet Sunday! Thanks to everybody who took time out of their busy lives over the past week to hang out with me. Hopefully we'll meet up again one day soon!
Posted on Monday, September 24th, 2007
So here I am in Spokane.
I'm assuming that I drove here, because when I look out my hotel-room window I see my car out there... but I have no recollection of the trip. The 3-hour drive is so mind-numbingly dull that I've apparently wiped it from my memory. Either that, or I was abducted by aliens along the way, and they were nice enough to transport my car here before giving me an anal probe and wiping my brain (or is that giving me a brain probe and wiping my ass? I dunno).
All I do know is that I am so tired now that catching up on blog reading tonight is out of the question...
Thank you Google Maps!
The last thing I remember before mysteriously appearing in Spokane is working on my travel schedule. The funny thing is that I now know where I will be in December and January, but haven't a clue of what's going on until then. For all I know, I'm going to Budapest on Friday.
Actually, that would be kind of cool... I've always wanted to go to Budapest.
Posted on Tuesday, September 25th, 2007
This morning I checked out of my hotel and began work for the day.
This evening I checked back into my hotel because work ran later than expected.
I'm thinking that this is probably a good thing, because I'm thoroughly exhausted. On top of that, I'm not as comfortable driving at night as I used to be, so spending three hours being stressed-out while tired is not my idea of a good time. Neither is falling asleep at the wheel, crossing over three lanes of traffic, going over a cliff, and exploding in a ball of fire.
As I was driving back to my hotel, I noticed that there's a full moon out and it looks amazing. It's so big in the sky that it actually looks a little bit scary. I ran up to my room, grabbed my camera, then ran back outside so I could take a photo. Except the effort was all for nothing, because my camera didn't manage to do the scene justice...
On my dinner break, I headed to the Gonzaga campus so I could have a slice of pizza at David's. Afterwards, I decided to walk down the street so I could see what the menu was like at Sonic Burrito. On the way back, I ran across a girl breaking up with her boyfriend. The guy was saying "don't do this... I don't know what I did, but I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" Then she dropped the "INYIM" bomb ("It's Not You It's Me) and it was over. Having been in this exact situation, I could totally relate to the poor bastard, and found myself wondering if he was buying the whole INYIM excuse. Does anybody ever believe the INYIM excuse?
Life's a bitch.
Then she rips out your heart and stomps on it.
Gee... that sure sounded a little bitter.
Posted on Wednesday, September 26th, 2007
My favorite meal of the day is breakfast. It's the only repast that I really try to eat regularly, and is easily my biggest meal of the day. I thought that this would change once I went on my restrictive diet (which I am starting again tomorrow) but it didn't. Even without toast, waffles, and cereal drenched in high-fructose corn syrup, I still love to eat each morning. The food may have changed, but my desire for breakfast is the same.
Except while traveling.
When I'm on the road, I rarely have time for breakfast, and always seem to end up in some fast food joint eating complete and total crap. Yesterday, for example, I was in a hurry and stopped at Burger King for a quick bite because it was convenient.
Note to self... STOP EATING AT BURGER KING!!
Their breakfast stuff is often stale, and is always... ALWAYS cold. This morning I had disgusting cold eggs with unmelted cheese on a stale "Croissandwich" that was practically inedible. What the hell? Isn't Burger King famous for flame-broiling shit? Why not put some of that heat on their crappy breakfast sandwiches?
I know what I'd like to flame broil...
With a twist of my ring, I flame-broil the Burger King!
I choked the disgusting Croissandwich down, because I was hungry, had no time to go anywhere else, and am accustomed to eating in the mornings. Then I was sick most of the day because the crap sat in my stomach like a rock.
And did I learn my lesson?
This morning I wanted a frickin' breakfast burrito because I thought Qdoba would be open and serving them. But, unlike the SeaTac airport Qdoba which serves an awesome breakfast burrito, the Spokane location doesn't open for breakfast at all. Obsessing over getting my dang burrito, I decided to go to Sonic. I tried eating there once before, but "America's Drive-In" doesn't have any options for vegetarians (apparently, people who don't eat meat are un-American?). But I did remember they had a breakfast burrito, so off I went.
I had a "Super-Sonic Breakfast Burrito" without the sausage along with a Tropical Smoothee and a side of Tater Tots.
The eggs in my burrito were kind of nasty and browned. The Smoothee wasn't blended enough, so I couldn't even drink it because massive chunks of pineapple were sticking in the straw. The tater-tots were cold... and I'm not saying they were "not hot" they were actually cold. Yet another crappy breakfast that made me miserable the rest of the day (and driving 3 hours home in that state was not fun).
I'm hoping I've learned my lesson. From now on, if I don't have time to dine at a proper restaurant and eat a decent breakfast, I should just not eat. I'd much rather be hungry than sick.
Of course, I think we all know the odds of me actually remembering that I learned this lesson...
Posted on Monday, October 8th, 2007
Today was a totally miserable day, and I don't really feel like blogging.
Except I just can't help myself.
Probably because tomorrow promises to be even worse, but more likely because there's nothing good on television Mondays at 9:00. Once I've watched Chuck and How I Met Your Mother, it's game over.
Today on my way to work I stopped at the mini-mart so I could grab an orange juice. While I was deciding if I wanted pulp or no pulp, I got a call from a number I didn't recognize. "Is Candice there" the guy asked. "Nope, you've got the wrong number" I replied. "When she gets back can you tell her I called?" he said. "You've got the wrong number... there's no Candice here!" I repeated. "Shit!" the guy says "she wrong-numbered me!" Not knowing what else to say, I mumble "yeah, that's a tough break... bye!" and hang up.
Five minutes later, iPhone rings again from the same number. "Dude, there's no Candice here!" I say immediately. "Yeah, I just thought I'd check and make sure I didn't mess up" the guy says. "She must have been pretty special," I offer sympathetically. "Yeah, I thought so... sorry to bother you" he replies awkwardly as he hangs up.
Is it really so hard to just put the poor bastard out of his misery rather than get his hopes up like that?
Relationship head-games are the worst.
And now, before I go, is there anybody out there with a couple billion dollars burning a hole in their pocket? I'm looking for financing to create my own airline. The schedules out of Seattle are not at all convenient for me, and I'm tired of having to take that horrifying 6:00am flight out of Wenatchee to make a connection. On top of that, the planes would look totally bitchin'...
And, as if that weren't enough... you get wider seats, more legroom, in-flight internet, and free chocolate pudding on every flight! Life is better with DaveAir!
Posted on Tuesday, October 9th, 2007
My anticipation that today was going to suck ass somehow made it bearable.
Well, that, and knowing that at the end of the day I would be having dinner at David's Pizza.
The 3-hour drive to Spokane, which was kill-me-now-boring (as always) was made even worse this time because I got a late start and had to navigate the traffic pouring out of the city. For reasons I cannot begin to fathom, some of the stupidest drivers on earth tend to congregate on the single-lane road between Wenatchee (Apple Capitol of the World!) and Quincy (Best Corn on Earth!)...
More than once along the way I wanted to drive my car off a cliff so that I wouldn't have to deal with the insanity anymore. Police cars patrol the stretch regularly, but don't seem to do anything about people driving 10mph under the speed limit, or weaving all over the road because they're talking on their mobile phone instead of paying attention to where they're driving. Dumbasses.
And tomorrow I get to do it all over again on the way home!
I'm so excited that I could just shit myself.
But right now there's a new episode of Reaper on, so that will jut have to wait.
UPDATE: Oh great! My hotel's crappy internet connection keeps cutting out. This seems to be happening more and more when I travel anymore. If a hotel has a flakey internet connection, they shouldn't be able to advertise having internet at all, because it's not always true. Bastards.
Posted on Wednesday, October 10th, 2007
Oh! Oh! Oh! OH! OH! OOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHH!
After driving three hours yesterday, all I really wanted to do was get some sleep. I had to get up early this morning, and a good night's rest would go a long way toward my day getting off to a good start. Except I think we all know I'm just not that lucky. Around 1:30am there was a loud bang followed by wild moaning coming from the room behind my headboard. In my groggy state, I first thought that a woman was being killed next door. But after I woke up I realized that it was just a woman being killed next door.
I think she was faking it.
Or she was having the best sex of her life.
Or she was being murdered. I dunno, because it's such a fine line.
And now it's time for...
WHICH IS SCARIER? While shopping for dental floss, I came across something disturbing. Which doll is more terrifying... George Bush or Hilary Clinton?...
If you said anything except "both" then you're wrong. They are equally scary, but for very different reasons. And some of the same reasons. All I know is that either doll would scar a child for life.
And now it's time for...
WHAT'S WRONG? Other than the fact that I'm trying to use my camera while driving, what's wrong with this picture?...
If you said "Dave is overdue for his oil change," then you're wrong. Well, you're not totally wrong... I am totally overdue for my oil change, but that's not what I was going for. No, what I was going for was that I am driving 36mph in a 60mph zone here... BECAUSE THE DUMBASS AHEAD OF ME WON'T GO THE SPEED LIMIT! Yet if I were to run them off the road so that they explode in a fiery ball of death and destruction, it would be ME who would be considered the criminal! There is no justice.
And now it's time for...
WHAT'S THE SIGN? After driving past several miles of rocky cliffs, rock-filled walls, barriers constructed out of rock material, and actual rocks, what do you think this sign is going to say?...
If you said "Wild Dingo Crossing" then you're wrong. No, the sign that somebody felt was worth spending several hundred dollars to erect here says "ROCKS." Because stating the sublimely obvious is money well spent...
And now, from the "I swear I am not making this stuff up" department, I got another wrong number call while driving back home today...
GUY: Yeah, is Jayden there?
DAVE: Nope. Sorry, you've got the wrong number.
GUY: So you're not Jayden?
DAVE: Not right now.
WTF?? You have the wrong number but you expect to end up talking to the person you were calling anyway?!? How exactly is that supposed to work? Are you calling with a MAGIC phone?
And now I'm going to bed to do do New York Times Crosswords puzzles on my Nintendo DS until I fall asleep. Which will probably be in about 10 minutes.
Posted on Friday, October 26th, 2007
I am frickin' tired.
So frickin' tired that I couldn't even muster the energy to drive to the local Apple Store so I could score a copy of the latest and greatest Macintosh operating system that was released today:
Part of me blames the fact that I'm getting older. But most of me blames the shitty state of air travel today.
For the most part, air travel has been ruined by four things... 1) the airlines themselves with their never-ending delays, over-bookings, decreasing legroom, etc., 2) crazy-stupid security measures that don't actually make us any safer, 3) fellow travelers who are dumbasses, and 4) these same dumbasses talking too loudly in their mobile phones (I haven't had a trip in years where I haven't wanted to kill at least one idiot who was annoying the shit out of everybody while talking on their mobile phone at full volume).
It's gotten so bad that I'm a total wreck when I arrive at my destination. I'm so full of all-consuming rage that I can barely function. By the time I started work today I was in no real condition to do any actual work, which just made me all the more insanely angry. Let's see if unloading in my blog will help. That's what a blog is for, isn't it?
Hmmm... I don't think I feel better at all. In fact, I think I'm even more mad than I was when I started this entry.
I need to do something fun this weekend so I can forget about all this drama.
Fortunately, I think I might just have the solution...
Posted on Sunday, October 28th, 2007
Now THAT was a party!
When I first received Avitable's invitation to his annual Halloween party, I knew I wanted to go... I just didn't know how I was going to work it into my schedule. But where there's a will, there's a way, and I managed to get everything moved around so I could fly down to Orlando for a single day(!) and attend.
Boy was it worth it. Dozens of people showed up, and Adam went all-out... transforming his entire home into a zombie-infested house of horrors. What was remarkable is the sheer amount of detail that went into the planning of it. So many little touches that made the entire experience perfect...
I'm giving all my photos to Avitable so he can post them (it's his party, after all), but thought I'd share some images of your's truly from the event. The costume I made was of "Holovirus-Insane Rimmer" from the brilliant British series Red Dwarf. It's one of my favorite shows ever, and this character was featured in one of my favorite episodes ever. And, as if that wasn't enough, it's got Mr. Flibble, the psychotically evil penguin hand-puppet in it...
The idea was that the geekier people at the party would recognize my character and get a laugh out of it... but even people who had no idea what Red Dwarf was would find it funny as well (but for an entirely different reason). Here's me and Avitable...
And me and Marilyn Monroe Miss Britt...
And me with an anatomically scary Mr. Fab (Mr. Flibble was hypnotized by his piece!)...
A big thanks to Avitable for the invite and for throwing such a fantastic Halloween bash!
And now I really should take a nap before I have to go to the airport in four hours. Later today there's a blogger meet in Seattle.
Hmmmm... looks like I'll be blog-partying from coast to coast today.
Posted on Saturday, November 3rd, 2007
This is my obligatory entry dedicated to Apple's latest release of MacOS X version 10.5, code-name "Leopard." As a Certified Mac Whore, it's unavoidable.
Yet, I realize that most everybody reading this probably doesn't care about my Macintosh obsession, so I am also publishing pictures of a freaky-ass fountain that was built on Piazza Navona in Rome. It's the Fontana di Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune) and no matter how many times I see it, I still freak out...
The sculpture features a bad-ass god of the seas (Neptune) battling an octopus while naked sea-nymph babes ignore him. That much I get. Well, not entirely, because it doesn't make much sense that the god of the seas would go around stabbing octopuses for no apparent reason, but whatever. This part of the statue is relatively sane. What bothers me is everything else. Starting with the freaky little kid playing with a crab on the head of some kind of water demon...
Well, at least he was playing with the crab before his arm got broken off. But still, WTF? That's some pretty freaky shit right there. Almost as freaky as the kid who's trying to rip the tongue out of a horse that's leaping out of the water...
What the horse is doing in the water I have no idea. And from the look on his face, neither does he.
Usually I would attempt to make some kind of story out of all the bizarre stuff that's going on, but I've given up here. Apparently Neptune throws some crazy-ass parties.
And now it's Leopard time. In an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Wednesday, November 7th, 2007
A last-minute trip to Seattle was complicated by a heavy mist all the way over the mountains. And, as if that wasn't bad enough, I was driving in frickin' dark thanks to the insanity of Daylight Saving Time (it's pitch-black at 5:30 now!).
Anyway... now that I'm here at last, I'm exhausted from driving and am going to skip blogging so I can (hopefully) get a little sleep tonight.
But before I go, a few eerie snapshots taken on the trip over...
Somehow, the crappy quality of the images only serves to make them look even better... like shots from The X-Files or something. Thanks iPhone!
Hmmm... wouldn't this make a cool Stephen King movie?
Posted on Thursday, November 8th, 2007
In the dead of night (which now comes at 6:10pm in the evening) as I was driving home along the winding roads of Highway 2, I came across a deer standing in the middle of the road. I was able to easily slow down and drive around her, but was really worried about cars behind me. So I stopped and turned on my emergency blinkers with the intent of warning people away until the deer was finished crossing the road.
Except she didn't.
She turned around and came walking towards me.
For anybody not familiar with deer, this is unprecedented. These are timid creatures which scare easily.
Not knowing what to think, I came to the conclusion that the poor thing was confused, injured, or both. Usually, I would have honked my horn in an attempt to get the deer to run away, but figured that scaring her was not the best move if she was hurt. Instead I started backing up slowly along the shoulder of the road with my emergency lights still flashing, so I could get a better look. The deer just stood there, apparently uninjured.
At least she did, until a car coming the opposite direction managed to (finally) scare her away. Off she went, probably down to the river to get a drink.
I would have joined her, but following around a deer during hunting season is probably not good for your health.
So glad to be home again.
Posted on Monday, November 26th, 2007
Last night I received a vicious blog comment which I immediately deleted. I woke up this morning wishing that I had published the darn thing for sheer entertainment value. Now I sit here wishing for the millionth time that the me of "right now" could talk to the me of yesterday. Not just because it would be a great way warn myself of upcoming embarrassing situations, but also because I'm a really good conversationalist. Alas, the power over space and time is not mine to be had, so I won't be enjoying the pleasure of my own conversation just yet. Though I still have a shot at schizophrenia, so fingers crossed.
Travel during the busy holiday season is an exercise in patience at a level I simply do not possess.
That's because people who rarely travel suddenly have an excuse to do so, and the airports are filled with an abundance of dumbasses. People who should just stay home instead of forcing their idiocy on public at large.
My first of three flights today was really bumpy. At least two people barfed on the way to Seattle, and one of those was directly across the aisle from me. I then spent the next 30 minutes trying to resist the urge to spew, because the smell of puke filled the plane. As an added bonus, the gum-smacking whore who upchucked next to me decided to stuff her little bag of puke under the seat in front of her and didn't bother to let the flight attendant know about it. So now there's a risk that when they clean the plane, they're going to accidentally spill vomit all over the place. If only there was a way that I could magically take that barf-bag and sneak it into her suitcase. Then when she got to wherever she was going it would be all "SURPRISE BITCH! REMEMBER ME?"
My second-leg flight to Chicago was purchased through my favorite airline, Alaska Air, but code-shared out to American Airlines. This doesn't bother me too much, except Alaska won't let me jump on one of their earlier flights because the ticket they sold me isn't for their airline (even though seats are available). Kind of makes me wonder why I bother to pay the extra money to buy tickets at AlaskaAir.com when there is clearly no benefit to doing so. Oh well. I had wanted to hop on an earlier plane to get a 4-1/2-hour layover at O'Hare so I could then take the train into the city for quick bite of pizza, but now I have to settle for a delicious Qdoba Veggie Burrito at SeaTac instead.
While waiting for my flight I watch one of the five episodes of The Soup I have saved up on my iPhone, then move on to Mitch Hedburg's Comedy Central stand-up special. I've seen it a hundred times, but never get tired of watching it. Then I feel sad for ten minutes when it sinks in (yet again) that Mitch is gone.
Despite the non-stop travel-party that is my life, I have no leverage at American Airlines. I can't get an upgrade or select the seat I want like I can with most of the other airlines. Fortunately, a really cool gate agent takes pity on me and manages to upgrade my middle seat at the ass-end of the plane to a bulkhead aisle seat with tons of legroom. I fall in love with her a little bit. I fantasize about taking her to Starbucks for some hot cocoa with peppermint sprinkles and then boarding the next flight to Bali where we spend a month living on the beach like bohemians and drinking too much rum.
The flight to Chicago was interesting, to say the least. Because sitting next to me is Arrogant Bitch and her husband Crotchety Old Fart. They were so fantastically bizarre and horrifying, that I could have easily made a blog posting entirely out of the crazy-ass crap that came out of their mouths. I've put a small sampling of their ramblings in an extended entry, if you think your heart can take it (be forewarned... the old bastard cusses constantly, so if foul language offends you, do not click through!). The cool part was that across the aisle from me was Tyrone, a beautiful and well-behaved 5-1/2 year-old seeing eye doggie...
The poor thing stayed all scrunched up for the entire flight, which could not have been comfortable. But he took it like a trooper, and enjoyed a good stretch once he was finally able to move again. I remain in awe of these incredible animals who make life better for so many people.
After my adventures with Arrogant Bitch and Crotchety Old Fart came to an end, I ate ice cream and wandered around O'Hare while waiting for my one-hour flight to Pennsylvania. Nothing much happened, except I spilled a drop of chocolate ice cream on my iPhone and spent the next 10 minutes freaking out over whether or not any of it seeped into the magic button on the front. Fun times.
The flight out of Chicago was on an aircraft so narrow that I could very nearly hold out my arms and touch both sides of the plane. But never fear, the airline still managed to get 3 seats across that sucker! It was a fairly boring and pointless flight... at least until we landed. Here is one guy's idea of sitting down with his seat-belt completely fastened until the aircraft comes to a complete stop...
As I said, this is what you get during the holiday season.
And now, after eleven hours of travel, I am relaxing in my hotel room... preparing for my work tomorrow.
Well, not really relaxing, because this piece-of-crap "upscale" hotel is built so frickin' close to the highway that it sounds as if the traffic is driving through my room. Holy crap is it loud. In fact, after staying at hundreds of hotels around the world, I can honestly say that this is the loudest, noisiest hotel I have ever been to. And that's saying a lot. Especially since I once stayed in a Bourbon Street hotel during Mardi Gras. I'd say my odds of getting any sleep tonight are zero.
And there you have it. The end.
But not really, because Arrogant Bitch and Crotchety Old Fart are waiting for you in an extended entry!→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Tuesday, November 27th, 2007
I am not a "light sleeper"... honest I'm not.
There's a train crossing not far from my home, and I can sleep through blaring train whistles no problem. I regularly stay at hotels that are at an airport with jets rumbling overhead at regular intervals. I've even stayed at hotels off the highway where a decent amount of road noise was present while I got some sleep.
But last night was something entirely different.
I don't know whether it was the acoustics... or the building construction... or the lack of interference between my room and the highway... or whatever. All I know is that it was the noisiest, most miserable hotel visit I have ever had in 22 years of travel across the globe. From the swankiest 5-star palaces to the most disgusting 0-star hovels, NONE of them even come close to the audio assault I experienced every frickin' minute I was at this hotel.
For some reason, this highway outside my window...
Caused me to finally end up sleeping here...
I shit you not.
After 4-1/2 hours of trying everything I could think of to eliminate the noise, I finally took all my bedding to the bathroom, threw it in the bathtub, turned on the fan, then squeezed into the tub. I managed to get 2 hours of very uncomfortable sleep, but it was better than nothing. Especially since I had a full day (and then some) of work to face today.
Now I have to ask... what kind of f#@%ed-up hotel has rooms that are so noisy that turning on the television, starting up the air conditioner, and wearing noise-blocking headphones while music plays from your iPhone, is STILL not enough to block the highway noise so you can get some sleep?? The only way I could block the racket was to have even LOUDER noise happening, which doesn't help matters at all.
This morning I checked out of my big-name pricey hotel, canceled my second day stay, and moved to a crappier, cheaper chain hotel near the airport.
Which is paradise by comparison.
So you'll forgive me if I don't blog anything interesting or draw a cartoon or go commenting on blogs tonight... I'm just too frickin' tired.
And a little more than excited that I'm not sleeping in a bathtub tonight.
Posted on Wednesday, November 28th, 2007
Well that sucked ass. One trip down, three to go before the end of the year (and still three more in January). I'm so happy I think I might die. If I don't drop into a sleep-deprived coma first.
I keep re-living the horror of having to sleep in a bathtub Monday night. And every time I do, I think back to Tyrone the seeing-eye dog and how he had to stay all scrunched up under two people's feet for 3-1/2 hours on a plane and wonder if doggies retain memories of bad things in their lives, or if they just forget about them the minute they've ended. If that's the case, I really envy dogs.
A lot of crap happened in the past three days and, since I haven't been around, so we're going to catch up bullet-style...
• Mind the Gap. As an American bloke fascinated by foreign accents, I have no problem admitting that I'm a little smitten by the lovely voice of the London Underground announcements every time I visit. Turns out the lovely woman who creates them, Emma Clarke, was recently fired because of some comments that came out of a series of spoof Underground announcements she did for her site (and don't overlook her blog, which is great). This makes me very sad, and I hope that this terrible mistake is soon rectified so I can be happy again...
• Olympical. Turns out not all international news is bad. Beautiful Vancouver, BC (my neighbor to the north) has just released the mascots for the 2010 Olympic Games, and they're great! Whoever came up with the idea of using a sasquatch as mascot is a frickin' genius. I cannot wait until they start selling Quatchi plush toys...
• Macintosh Bargains. Just dropped a nice chunk of cash at the European-Indie Programmers "Give Good Food to your Mac Promotion," which has a line-up of incredible Macintosh programs at ridiculous bundle prices (anywhere from 30% to 70% off depending on how much you buy). These are not crappy bottom-drawer apps that nobody wants, they're all high-quality, totally professional releases you can't live without! I bought an even dozen... some I probably don't need but, at 70% off, I couldn't resist.
• Kindling. Finally got to play with an Amazon Kindle digital book. It's worse than I thought, which is pretty bad. In a day and age where the bar for stunning design in physical structure, user interface, and usability has been set so incredibly high (thanks Apple!)... how can companies release such total crap and think people won't notice? Here was an opportunity to finally get digital book distribution just the boost it needed to go mainstream, and Amazon totally dropped the ball. Tragic. If you are considering the purchase of one of these DRM-laden, hideously expensive, ugly-as-sin monstrosities... I highly recommend seeing one in person before parting with your hard-earned money.
• Daisies. Yet another amazing episode of Pushing Daisies is unfolding tonight. I sure hope the rumors of the writers strike being settled are true, because I needs me the new television shows! Death by pink goo... what a way to go.
And with that, I should probably get some sleep. I've got a full day tomorrow before heading out again.
Posted on Friday, November 30th, 2007
Hmmm... I should probably set down my drink to do this...
Tonight I drank obscene amounts of alcohol and then went to see Mike Birbiglia in concert at the Moore Theater here in Seattle with friends. He is one of the funniest people on the planet (even when you're not drunk), so you should go buy his albums right now and be sure to check out his Comedy Central Video Special.
I took lots of pictures today, but with my crappy iPhone camera, so none of them turned out very good (why does everything always come out so DARK?). Some of them become acceptable when Photoshopped to death though.
I've kind of got one-handed, no-look iPhone photography down to a science. I focus my attention on driving while pushing my iPhone to the windshield so I can pretty much capture exactly what I see out my window without having to even look at iPhone...
Lots of snow dropped on Stevens Pass last night, but the roads were good...
Once over the pass, the snow disappeared pretty fast...
Doing our best to support the German economy...
It's Mike Birbiggleboo Birbigglebug Birbigglebutt Birbiglia at The Moore...
Wow. That iPhone camera really sucks ass unless the lighting is totally perfect. Whenever I complain, everybody tells me that ALL mobile phone cameras suck ass... but my old Motorola did a lot better than this.
Oh well. I had big fun tonight (even if my blog is down and I can't post this until morning). Tomorrow is a much-deserved day of nothing but goofing off before a full week of nothing but work, so at least I have something to look forward to.
Posted on Saturday, December 1st, 2007
GAH! SNOW!! LOTS OF SNOW!!!
Well this should make driving home tomorrow a big boat-load of fun...
I really don't like the snow. Why do I still live in Washington?
Eh, we're going to order in dinner and try to forget about the weather altogether.
Posted on Sunday, December 2nd, 2007
I don't know how many bullets I have in my this Sunday. I'm still traumatized from the drive back home.
In the past two decades of driving in the ice and snow, this was probably the worst it has ever been. And I most certainly knew better... iPhone told me the road was going to be shit, I just chose not to listen. I think that after my life is over, I shall make a list of the stupidest crap I've ever done, and this day will be in the top ten.
• Beginnings. Things started out good enough. Just a bit of light snow that wasn't even sticking to the road...
• Slush. But then things went terribly wrong once I made it through Monroe. The snow turned to rain which made the snow already fallen turn to slush. Scum-sucking slush from hell that pulls your car from the road and makes you lose control. Several cars were pulled into the ditch, and many of the people one the road with me turned around and went back. People far smarter than I.
• Calm. Then, as if by magic, the rain stopped. Heading up the pass, there was only light snow and cleared roads. I breathed a sigh of relief that my drive home wasn't going to be as difficult as I had first thought...
• Storm. It was too good to last, of course. Once I topped the pass, the roads turned to shit, the snow was much heavier and wetter, and freezing winds blasted the highway. And this wasn't even the worst part. The wind made the wet snow freeze to my windshield wipers. I had to constantly reach out my window, grab the wiper, then slap it down against the glass to break the ice off... otherwise, they couldn't clean the window. I tried to stop several times because I couldn't see, but there was no place to do so. I had to just use The Force and keep going... taking advantage of little clear spots that would pop up from time to time. It was horrible. I expected that the roads would be plowed better once I made it to Leavenworth, but I was wrong. My car was all over the road as I struggled to get home on roads completely covered with snow.
• Wrecked. Once I finally got home safe and sound, I was so mentally and physically exhausted that I could barely function. I was totally wrecked, and just wanted to climb into bed and forget that the day had ever happened. Of course, this was simply hoping for too much. I had a massive pile of emails and work to get to. Life is harsh that way.
And that's a wrap! Fortunately, weather conditions are predicted to improve later in the week before I have to fly out again. Not that I put much stock in weather predictions, but it never hurts to be hopeful.
Posted on Monday, December 10th, 2007
I wish I could just puke and get it over with.
After not sleeping for three days and having to travel all day today... I am thoroughly exhausted and feeling pretty sickly. I posted some photos and updates over at DaveStalker, but anything else is going to have to wait until tomorrow...
Posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2007
Yeah, let's not do this again.
My entire day... ENTIRE DAY has been spent changing reservations. The changing them again. I think I've paid more in change fees that I've paid in actual airfare. And the worst part is that, because of heavy holiday travel and sold-out flights, I've ended up with this bizarre schedule of overnight stays just to get to my final destinations.
No flight out of Seattle? Oh... how about leaving a day early so you can overnight in Spokane and we can get you out the next day from there? Nothing available on the 26th? Hmmm... guess you're flying on Christmas Day then! Can't get home before your next flight? Well, looks like you get to stick around Seattle for two extra days! My travel calender is a bloody mess...
As it stands now, I don't have a handle on what I'm doing or where I'm going to be for the next two months.
Heck... where am I now?
Hopefully it will all sort itself out in the morning, because right now I have 46 emails to tend to.
Posted on Thursday, December 13th, 2007
Why isn't there a federal law which requires there to be a McDonalds located past every airport security checkpoint? That way, I wouldn't have to go to the Milwaukee airport 2-1/2 hours early so I have time to eat breakfast in the pre-screening lobby and still have time left to stand in line and get probed by the TSA (Milwaukee's express lane for first-class ticket-holders isn't a separate lane... all it does it cut you in front of some poor bastard that's been standing in line for an hour, and that's not really fair).
After having a thoroughly horrible breakfast of onion-flavored eggs on an onion-flavored croissant with onion-flavored cheese and a side of onion-flavored potatoes, I head over to the place that makes Milwaukee's airport one of my all-time favorites (even though there's no McDonalds on the E-Concourse)... RENAISSANCE BOOKS!
I love Renaissance. They have a remarkable collection of older used paperbacks & hardbacks at reasonable prices, and I've purchased at least a hundred books there over the past fifteen years I've been passing through MKE. Most of those are ancient 35¢ and 50¢ copies of Edgar Rice Burroughs novels for my collection. Today I filled in a few holes of my Tarzan series, which was pretty sweet.
And now I'm off to Walt Disney World.
Posted on Thursday, December 13th, 2007
"Would you like to join our parade?" the cast member says, shaking her little tambourine and smiling.
"Your parade? Join your parade in the middle of my dinner? I'd rather light my pubes on fire and jump into a vat of gasoline. I'd prefer to be struck by lightning. I would rather be attacked by wild beavers with a hunger for human flesh. I'd dance naked while holding a lightning rod in each hand during a thunderstorm first. I'd rather eat goat scrotum smeared with bat guano and dipped in cockroach larvae. There is nothing I'd like less than to join your parade, so no... not really." --- Is what I WANTED to say. What I ACTUALLY said was "no thanks."
Yes, heaven help me, I'm back at Walt Disney World...
I used to visit Disney World at least once a year during my trips to Orlando, but gradually lost interest. Five years ago I stopped altogether. The closest I've gotten was a quick stop at Universal Studios 3-1/2 years ago. It just stopped being fun. But a lot has been changed and added over the past half-decade, and so here I am again.
I usually stay at the Wilderness Lodge (my favorite) or The Contemporary Resort (so convenient)... but, no matter where I stay, I always end up making my way to Port Orleans for breakfast a couple times because they have the best freshly-made beignets (French donuts) outside of New Orleans. This time I decided to cut out all the pretense and just stay at the Port Orleans Resort so I could have beignets for breakfast every morning, which is what I've really been wanting all along. It's not as cool as the other Disney properties I've been to, but still nicely appointed and clean.
Thanks to Disney's "Magical Express" shuttle service, I skipped baggage claim at Orlando International Airport (Disney waits for your bags and puts them in your room for you) and headed straight for check-in. Since it was 6:30pm, everything was about ready to close except MGM Disney Studios, so that's where I went. It's my least favorite of the four parks, so it would be nice to get it out of the way...
ATTRACTIONS OF THE DAY...
• Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (x2). I was confused a few months ago when I rode the Disney California Adventure version of this ride, because it wasn't the same as the Florida version. Here, your elevator car actually leaves the elevator shaft for a "trip through the fifth dimension" before rolling into the drop shaft (unlike the California version, which never leaves the shaft). It's a better experience, but the part that everybody comes for (the drops) is the same. Wikipedia Link.
• Aerosmith Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. A fast-launch roller-coaster "dark" ride in the vein of Space Mountain that's actually pretty cool. Of course, I'd ride it just to see the ever-amazing Ileana Douglas (who plays the band's manager) because she's one of my favorite actresses. Wikipedia Link.
• Star Tours. This ride is badly dated and desperately needs to be upgraded (it's not even as cool as Back To The Future: The Ride that was just closed at Universal Studios!), but I always ride it just in case it's the last time I'll be able to do so. Rumor has it that Lucas is working on a revamp which will center around the prequels crap (a pod-race, or whatever) which freaks me out because he'll probably shit all over the ride with Jar Jar Binks, unnecessary banthas, and other stupid dumbassery. Wikipedia Link.
And that was that. Four rides in under two hours is pretty good by Disney standards. All that was left was dinner, which consisted of Disney's always-delicious cheese pizza and apple slices with caramel for dessert.
I have no idea what I'm doing tomorrow. But I'm sure it will be "magical" because I've heard that word at least a hundred times since I've arrived here.
Posted on Friday, December 14th, 2007
This morning I took a look at the Orlando weather forecast, only to see that thunderstorms are predicted for Saturday and Sunday. No big surprise... Orlando gets more rain than Seattle, yet Seattle somehow has the worse reputation for it. Since the weather today was perfect, I decided to rush through those rides I wanted to go on which would most be affected by the rain, namely Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, and Splash Mountain.
After a plate of delicious beignets, I got to Animal Kingdom just as they opened and went straight to Expedition Everest. The attraction is pretty hard to miss given the massive "Forbidden Mountain" they built for it, which can be seen from just about anywhere in the park...
As far as roller coaster rides go... it's pretty tame. As far as an amazing attraction goes... it's incredible. You race around a mountain (forwards and backwards) for an encounter with a Yeti! And here I thought that Disney had forgotten how to make great theme park rides (after the massive pile of shit that California Adventure turned out to be, can you blame me? (with the exception of Grizzly River Run, Soarin', and Tower of Terror, it's a complete waste of time).
The theming of the entire area is impeccable... looking like a Himalayan village. The staging for the ride itself is very cool... created to be a Yeti museum. Every detail is perfect. It's everything you want out of a Disney E-Ticket attraction...
And it doesn't stop there. Disney meticulously sets the stage for the attraction in other areas of the park. Like this mountain range guide, which shows how Forbidden Mountain fits into the Himalayas...
Since there was no line, I rode it twice, then went to get all wet on the Kali River Rapids, then came back and rode it two more times. You pretty much have to, because the experience is so rich. There are hundreds of tiny details that you miss if you only ride it once or twice.
Since I've already been to the rest of Animal Kingdom a few times (and find it completely boring) I then dashed over to Magic Kingdom for a little Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain action. I was then going to go back to my hotel and work for the rest of the day, but thought I would hit Space Mountain first. The lines everywhere were so short (max. 15 minutes) that it seemed crazy not to. After 6 or 7 minutes in line, I had just made it to the interior queue when something amazing happened. They had a problem with the ride and had to stop it. And then they turned on the lights. OMG! IT'S SPACE MOUNTAIN... WITH THE LIGHTS ON!!...
You can clearly see the dual mirror-image tracks that is unique to the Florida version of the ride (all the other Space Mountains have a single track). After making us wait for 20 minutes, they couldn't fix it, so they kicked us all out and gave us "Any Attraction Fast Passes" for our trouble.
After working for five hours, I met up with my friend Dale at Epcot for dinner. Since we arrived early and the lines were short, we decided to ride "Mission: SPACE." While not quite as well thought-out as Expedition Everest, this new ride is very well done and a lot of fun. They basically simulate a trip to Mars by sticking you in a centrifuge. Kind of like a giant Tilt-A-Whirl or Round-Up, but with a viewscreen and space ship controls. What's funny is that this ride has more warnings than any other I've seen, AND they have barf bags in front of every seat! How cool is that? I never thought I'd see barf bags on a Disney attraction, but there they were. I didn't get sick at all, but was a little woozy as I exited the "spacecraft." Dinner in France (at Epcot's World Showcase) was good, and we got out just as Epcot was shutting down. As we were leaving, we saw that Ellen's Energy Adventure was on last-call, so I convinced Dale we should go (I love that ride!).
ATTRACTIONS OF THE DAY...
• Expedition Everest (x4). One of the best US Disney attractions in years. Finally, Animal Kingdom has a decent ride! Wikipedia Link.
• Kali River Rapids. Disney tries to shoe-horn in an educational message about the destruction of the world's forests into this ride... and fails miserably. A good attraction, but not as much fun as the similar Grizzly River Rapids in California. Wikipedia Link.
• Pirates of the Caribbean. Like the Disneyland attraction, this ride was recently Johnny Depp enhanced to match with the Pirates trilogy of movies. I never cared for the Florida ride as much as the California original, because it just doesn't have the same atmosphere (Disneyland has the cool grotto with the restaurant and more interesting staging). Still, it's a good ride, and I never miss an opportunity to go on it. Wikipedia Link.
• Splash Mountain. Easily one of the best Disney attractions ever, I will never pass up an opportunity to ride Splash Mountain. The Florida version has side-by-side seating, which is a bit more comfortable than California's version... other than that, it's a fairly similar experience. Wikipedia Link.
• Mission: SPACE. A terrific addition to Epcot, this "Mission to Mars" simulator is another home-run attraction for Disney. I can see where the centrifuge action might make people sick (though I had no problems with it) so Disney has a "non-spinning" version for those who'd still like to experience it. I can't imagine it being nearly as fun, but it's a nice consideration. Features an appearance by Gary Sinise (Lieutenant Dan!) who is apparently reprising his character from the awful "Mission to Mars" movie. Wikipedia Link.
• Ellen's Energy Adventure. A moving theater ride that's really well done. I was an early fan of Ellen from the first time I saw her as a secretary on the Alison La Placa vehicle comedy series Open House. She's a genuinely funny person that never fails to entertain (at least when she's not crying about dog adoption). Having her host a Disney attraction is genius. Especially when it's an educational attraction where you need people to be entertained. What's so incredible here is that this ride was created before Ellen was really that famous. Before her sit-com, before she came out, before her talk-show. And during all that, "Ellen's Energy Adventure" has endured and still holds up well today. In fact, Ellen's continuing success has probably helped this attraction to survive (appearances by Alex Trebek, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Bill Nye the Science Guy don't hurt either). One of the best original attractions from when Epcot opened (and one of the few remaining!). Wikipedia Link.
And thus ends my second day in Walt Disney World. Tomorrow I'm sleeping in.
Posted on Saturday, December 15th, 2007
Last night after dinner as Dale and I were leaving Epcot's France Pavillion, I stopped at the Italy Pavillion so I could make lunch reservations for today. My favorite place to eat in Rome is "Alfredo alla Scrofa," the restaurant where Fettucini Alfredo was created. The taste is vastly superior to the total shit that Americans call "Fettucini Alfredo" and the only place you can get it outside of Italy is at "L'Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante" at Epcot. So today I show up and notice that the restaurant is no longer "Alfredo" but something else entirely. In the dark last night while making reservations, I didn't notice. WHAT THE BLOODY HELL HAPPENED?!?? Disney managing to score Alfredo was a major coup, and letting them leave Epcot is a huge mistake. The new restaurant doesn't even have Fettucini Alfredo on the menu! I felt like crying. Epcot is dead to me.
After having a fairly decent non-Alfredo lunch anyway, I was wandering through the Germany Pavilion when I heard IT.
Some woman was talking to her husband and said IT.
"The great thing about Epcot is that you can visit Germany and France and whatever without having to actually go there.
I could not help myself. I started laughing hysterically. I was like one of those Tickle-Me-Elmo dolls. I was Tickle-Me-Dave...
I found it absolutely priceless that this woman could think that the entire country of Germany could possibly be experienced by walking around an Epcot pavilion. I stopped and looked around "Germany" and just died...
Then I started thinking about the many times I've visited Germany and some of the incredible things I've seen there... and I died a little more. Died laughing.
And how about the Parisian village in France...
Yeah, that's totally France right there. No need to cross the Atlantic, because that's so totally it!
Hey Karla, forget about me ever coming to visit you in Oslo... I've now been to Norway, so there's really no point in it. See??? It's Norway...
I mean, what's the point in leaving the US anymore? Just go to Epcot, and you've experienced all the world culture you'll ever need! Lets take the "United Kingdom" for example. It's like an English village of some kind, complete with a corner pub...
And don't forget the fish & chips...
And the United Kingdom wouldn't be complete without red phone and post boxes...
Yep, that's the UK alright! Just like being there! And don't forget Canada...
All we need is a lumberjack, a Royal Canadian Mounty, and a moose with a hockey stick, and it's perfect!
But then I started looking around all the pavilions, and kind of had a change of heart. That woman may have been totally insane to think that Epcot could replace an actual visit to any of these countries... but that's not the point. The point is to get a little hint of what it must be like at these places. And just maybe what you see and experience at Epcot will be enough to make you want to visit the real country one day...
I've been very fortunate to have seen most all of these places for real. But that's an opportunity that many people don't have (and may never have now that Bush has put the value of the US dollar in the toilet). I've been to St. Mark's Square in Venice and seen the Campanile bell tower and Dodges Palace. Does the Epcot mini-versions somehow invalidate this? No. It's not even remotely the same thing. But it's a clever tribute, and that's all it's meant to be...
And then, just as I'm ready to praise Disney for making a little taste of foreign lands available to those who might otherwise never have a chance to experience them, I look across the lagoon towards that small patch of "Paris" and suddenly the illusion is shattered. Who is the dumb fuck Disney engineer who decided to build a massive hotel behind the Paris skyline? There's the Eiffel Tower alright, and it's being dominated by two giant swans, just like the real thing!!
Suddenly, the once great Eiffel Tower looks like the tiny little prop it is. Way to go Disney... you've painstakingly worked to build the illusion of one of the world's greatest cities, and then let greed go and fuck it up for everybody. Walt Disney World is MASSIVELY HUGE!! Couldn't you have found another place to stick your "Dolphin and Swan" hotel monstrosity? Whoever was in charge of picking that hotel location should be shot. What an asshole. Walt Disney is spinning in his grave with shame.
ATTRACTIONS OF THE DAY...
• Harmony Barber Shop. I actually got my hair cut at Magic Kingdom's resident barber shop yesterday, but forgot to mention it. This place is famous for giving kids their "first haircut" and any kid doing so gets a special "Mickey Mouse Ears" embroidered hat and a certificate to prove it. When I was there, a pair of twins were getting their first haircut, and it was pretty hilarious to watch. This place is massively busy all day long, so it helps to arrive early. I got lucky, because a parade distracted people so I could get in within 15 minutes.
• Test Track. This attraction was supposed to have a grand opening on one of my earlier Disney trips, but got delayed. When I finally did get to ride it my next trip, they had technical difficulties and had to stop it in the middle. I finally got to ride it all the way through on a following visit, but wasn't really impressed. The entire thing is just a glorified (and somewhat boring) General Motors car commercial. Sure it's a ride that goes 65 mph fast, but I've gone faster in my own car, so whoopty-do. But it's one of Epcot's biggest attractions, so I went ahead and rode it as I was leaving the park. Basically, you ride around in a 6-seater "car" that gets tested over bumps, heat, cold, and the like. Yawn. Wikipedia Link.
For the record, my biggest attraction of the day was buying a load of overpriced Japanese candy in the Japan pavilion...
And thus ends my third day in Walt Disney World.
Posted on Sunday, December 16th, 2007
This Bullet Sunday was a fairly laid-back day. Since it was raining in the morning, I stayed in bed until 10:00 before venturing out for my morning beignet fix. From there it was just another walk in the park (or two).
• Davelando. Due to both the holidays and a plague descending upon Orlando (seriously, it seems everybody here is sick or getting sick or recovering from being sick), it was just Avitable, Jess, and myself for dinner last night when we met up at the money-making factory known as Downtown Disney...
It was a great time to hang out, chat, and stare at the fish. At least it was until Avitable decided that everybody at the Rainforest Cafe needed to see his testicles, at which time we were asked to leave. Fortunately, they still let us keep our souvenir light-up action glasses...
• Banded. Disney has a perk for their resort hotel guests called "Magic Hours." You just show your room key at a designated Magic Hours Station, and they slap a wrist-band on you so that you can keep going on rides for a couple hours after the park has closed to everybody else. When Dale and I were at Epcot a couple nights ago, we passed one of these stations where a little boy was getting his wrist-band. At first he thought it was cool and was waving it all around. But then he tried to remove it... "AAAAAAAAHHH! IT WON'T COME OFF! IT WON'T COME OFF!" The kid was freaking out, and nothing his parents said would console him. Finally, they removed the band and the poor kid just stood there crying... "I can't eat breakfast tomorrow with that on my arm!" he explained. Sometimes kids are the most logical people I've met.
• Gingerbread. For lunch today, my friend Dale and his wife met me at The Grand Floridian hotel here at Disney. We decided not to eat there but, before we left, we went to see a giant gingerbread house they had built in the lobby. It was so big that ladies were inside of it selling stuff out the back. It was weird, but kind of cool...
• Guides. After Dale and his wife headed off, I went back to The Magic Kingdom to use my Space Mountain FastPass that I had been given when the ride broke down a couple days ago. After I had goofed around for a bit, I walked through the shops and spotted this really cool book called "An Imagineering Guide To The Magic Kingdom." It has all kinds of interesting trivia and information about the park, and I couldn't live without it. As I was paying for my book, the cashier asks "do you already have the other two?" at which time I realize there must be books for Epcot and Animal Kingdom/MGM Studios too. Sure enough, I do a Google search and there they are. Now I have to go track down the other two. Very, very cool companion reference when visiting Walt Disney World. I wish I had them with me earlier...
• SPACE. While waiting for my "FastPass" time to come up for the Soarin' attraction tonight, I headed over to ride Mission: SPACE again, since there was no wait. As I was approaching, I noticed how beautiful the building was at night and went to take a picture. But, for some reason, my camera refused to focus on it. I could snap pictures of everything else in the area no problem, but Mission: SPACE refused to be photographed properly. Bizarre, but still pretty to look at...
ATTRACTIONS OF THE DAY...
• Stitch's Great Escape. This is not a very good attraction, having been retrofitted from the "ExTERRORestrial Alien Encounter" scare ride from years ago (which was far better, made more sense, and featured the voice of Tim Curry!)... but it has my favorite animated Disney character of all time in it... Stitch! The audioanimatronic robot they've built for him is incredible, and he moves around like he's real. It's well worth seeing for Stitch, but everything else is kind of lame. Wikipedia Link.
• Space Mountain. One of the most brilliant ideas for a roller coaster ever, I love Space Mountain. The only problem is that the seats in the Orlando ride are really uncomfortable if you're tall and have limited flexibility like I do. My shins got all banged up, and my legs ache after I manage to climb out of the thing. But I love the attraction too much to care, and ride it even though I know I'll suffer for doing so. An endorsement doesn't get much better than that! Wikipedia Link.
• Haunted Mansion. I have been wanting to see the Nightmare Before Christmas theming of this ride for a very long time (missed it by ONE DAY when I was in Disneyland earlier this year!). Unfortunately, the Disney World version doesn't get themed for Nightmare Before Christmas, so this is yet another year I'm missing out. I was told that this Haunted Mansion got an upgrade... and I did notice a few changes, but it's still pretty much the same ride it's always been. This is probably not a bad thing. Wikipedia Link.
• Soarin'. The best ride at Disney's fairly lame "California Adventure" park, it proved so successful that they decided to duplicate it at Epcot. Using IMAX technology, you fly over scenic California on massive "hang gliders" that move in sync to the film giving the illusion of flight. Very, very cool, but crowded... the only ride during my entire visit where I was forced to take a FastPass ticket because the line was over an hour long. Wikipedia Link.
It's Stitch! One of the coolest attractions at any Disney theme park was a "video conference booth" that links you up with Stitch in Hawaii so you can talk and interact with him. I got to experience it in Disneyland, but have no idea if it's there anymore. I can't really explain it except to point to some brilliant videos on YouTube (there are bunches of them, and they're all amazing). Here at Disney World, they have the same thing with Crash the turtle from Finding Nemo. If you have kids (or are a kid at heart) this is a can't-miss attraction. I love Stitch...
And thus ends my fourth day in Walt Disney World. One day left to go...
Posted on Monday, December 17th, 2007
"Thank you for staying with us, and we wish you magical dreams!"
—Disney Wake-Up Call Service Center.
Uhhh... yeah... now that I am checking out of the Happiest Place on Earth tomorrow morning, there are five words I don't want to hear for a while: 1) Dream. 2) Wish. 3) Special. 4) Wonder. 5) Magic/Magical. I fully understand and appreciate that Disney is trying to create an environment that's fantabulous and all, but you can over-use buzz-words to the point where they not only lose their meaning, but also make you sick of hearing them. I'm to the point now where every time I hear a recorded message with the word "magical" used more than five times (which is all of them) I want to kill myself.
Today my only goal was to get back to the hotel at a decent hour so I can get up and make my 3:30am airport shuttle in the morning. Other than that, I really didn't have anything in mind. I thought maybe I'd pick up a few souvenirs and meet my friend Anne for dinner (she has an Annual Pass, but hasn't used it once in the seven months she's had it... "this will help me get my money's worth," she says).
To kill time, I finally decided that I would go to all four parks so I could ride both my favorite ride AND a ride I've never ridden before. Since it's cold, cold, cold outside, I put on a jacket.
Frogs on snakes? Only in Animal Kingdom, baby.
My favorite attraction in Animal Kingdom is Expedition Everest. Since the line to ride it was pretty short, I went ahead and rode it twice. It's so cool that I just can't get tired of it! The ride I've never ridden before is DINOSAUR! I was told by a number of people that it was kind of lame, and I had already ridden Jurassic Park at Universal Studios... so I never bothered. I talk about it in my "Today's Attractions" below but, suffice to say, it's not that great of an experience.
This fearless little bastard was eyeing my burrito!
I guess my favorite attraction here is Mission: SPACE so I was sure to hit it before I ate lunch (a decent "wet burrito" in the Mexico Pavilion). Unlike Expedition Everest, I am getting a little tired of this attraction, having ridden it three times now. Finding a ride that I've never ridden before was difficult, because I've been here so many times that I've ridden them all. Eventually I noticed that the 360° panorama film "O Canada!" had been updated (with new host Martin Short), so I figured that would fit the bill. Along the way to the Canada pavilion, I see this sign for a Candlelight Procession Special, hosted by a big-name star...
That's Neil Patrick Harris, bitches!!
The guest star for today? "Way of The Master" douchebag Kirk Cameron ("YOU'RE ALL GOING TO HELL BECAUSE YOU DON'T BELIEVE EXACTLY THE SAME WAY I DO, AND I CAN'T STOP SMILING ABOUT IT!!!!). Guess I won't be sticking around for that shit. But I do drop by the Japan Pavilion before "O Canada!" so I can stock up on more Japanese candies. There was still a bit of room in my suitcase, and we can't have that.
You're travelling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind...
Disney MGM Studios.
About the only attraction here I like is Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, so riding it is a no-brainer. When it comes to something I haven't ridden, I have my choice of a few things, but ultimately end up picking The Great Movie Ride for some reason. This ride is so lame that it had me wishing I'd gone back to Epcot so I could watch Kirk Cameron.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Disney's Wilderness Lodge.
We ate dinner at my favorite Walt Disney World resort property... The Wilderness Lodge. It was magical.
It's a special magical dream of wishes and wonder!
Disney's Magic Kingdom.
My favorite ride here is easily Splash Mountain, so off I went. When I got there, I thought that the ride had closed. Nobody was around. But then I saw a "cast member" who assured me it was open, so I went ahead and rode it. ALONE. There was NOBODY there. Nobody in front of me, nobody in back of me. I boarded a log-car all my own (choosing the second row to avoid getting too wet), and that was it. Splash Mountain was EMPTY...
Off I go to the Laughing Place... the Laughing Place...
It's amazing how much more I could appreciate the ride by myself. First of all, I heard a lot of sounds, dialogue, and atmosphere audio effects that I had never noticed before because other people had been talking and screaming. Second of all, I didn't get wet at all... I'm guessing because the log was so much lighter without seven of my closest friends riding with me. It was SWEET! I thought Big Thunder Railroad would be empty too, but it had a 25 minute wait. My guess is that people were avoiding Splash Mountain because they didn't want to get wet while it was so cold out. When it came to riding something I had never ridden before, I couldn't find anything that sounded good, so I headed back to the hotel so I could pack. As I was making my way through Main Street, I was stopped so a parade could go by. The name of the parade tonight? WISHES, of course...
It's The Little Mermaid! NAKED!! w00t!
Sucker fish or blow fish? I can't decide. Maybe a little of both.
ATTRACTIONS OF THE DAY...
• DINOSAUR! This could have been a very cool attraction, because it uses the same nifty vehicles that Disneyland uses for the Indiana Jones ride. And, on top of that, it's got dinosaurs in it! But most of the ride is just dark with nothing happening, which is lame. And when you finally do get to see dinosaurs, they're kind of rubbery-looking things that aren't even the least bit interesting. Sad. Disney should spend the money to fix this and turn it into a killer attraction. Wikipedia Link.
• O Canada! A beautiful film featuring highlights of our neighbor to the north, projected in 360° panorama. Very nice, and capably narrated by Martin Short (who wouldn't be my first choice, but oh well). Wikipedia Link.
• The Great Movie Ride. Billed as "A Spectacular Journey INTO The Movies" this is about as lame a ride as you can find at Disney World. After boarding moving theater bench-cars, you ride through boring dioramas from an assortment of popular films. Along the way your host interacts with stuff which has an almost "so bad it's good" quality to it, but ultimately fails to be entertaining. This is a wholly missable attraction that should be closed so the space can be used for something much better. Wikipedia Link.
And thus ends my Disney Dream Vacation! Now I get to take a brief nap before getting up in three hours so I can catch my Magical Disney Express to the airport. Bleh.
Posted on Wednesday, December 19th, 2007
Once again, a great (albeit way too short) vacation at Walt Disney World. After having avoided the place for five years, they finally added enough new attractions to bring me back, and I was not disappointed (particularly with Expedition Everest, which is amazing).
Which is not to say that there was not a major disappointment, because there was. My biggest gripe this time around? Shopping for souvenir gifts.
And I blame it on Caucasian Mickey Mouse.
For anybody who doesn't know, Mickey originally started out as a black and white character but, at some point in the 1940's, Disney decided to make Mickey be caucasian...
Because I feel that Mickey Mouse should transcend race, I am 4-square against Caucasian Mickey, and won't buy any merchandise he appears on. Unfortunately, most merchandise has the newer, unimproved mouse on it, so souvenir shopping for friends is difficult. Especially since most of the other souvenir crap has "Disney Princesses" on it (I've had my fill of bitchy princesses in real life) or Goofy (I find stupidity neither cute nor entertaining and loathe him). Oh well, the less there is to buy, the less money I have to spend.
And that's the end of my Walt Disney World experience here at Blogography. But, before I go, here's a few things that might help you to plan your WDW magical dream vacation...
DAVE'S TOP FIVE WALT DISNEY WORLD TIPS...
Disney AAA Discount: If you are a AAA member, check out package pricing at your local office. On top of the AAA discount you'd normally get, they sometimes have special deals that could save you even more money. Never assume that a package with airfare is cheaper than buying the airfare separately... double check, because it's not always the case.
Disney Resort: There are numerous benefits to staying at a Disney Resort property within Walt Disney World, even though you pay more for it. Most important would be "Magic Hours" in which you get a rotating schedule of parks that have early/late hours especially for Disney guests. During these times, the lines are really short, and you can get some good ride-time in. You also get free transportation among the parks (or free parking, if you'd rather take your car), purchases can be charged to your room and delivered back to your room (no cash, no bags!), and more. As if that weren't enough, even the cheapest Disney resort is guaranteed to be clean, comfortable, and safe... and you get resort benefits regardless of which resort you choose, even if it's their "inexpensive" tier.
Disney Transport: While free to resort guests, Disney Transport is a bit of a mess. My guess is that it is designed to be that way. After all, if you've got a couple thousand people tied up in the transportation system, that's a couple thousand people not crowding up the parks. My advice is to stay out of the system as much as possible... don't park-hop unless you absolutely have to. Stay at one park and do everything you want to do there before moving on. This could save you hours of wasted time waiting for and riding the busses.
Disney Pricey: Once you step on to the Walt Disney World property, the cost of everything skyrockets. For my last several visits, I've packed a separate small suitcase full of snacks and drinks so I don't get nailed. Some expenses are unavoidable if you're staying at a resort property... like meals and WDW-branded souvenirs... but I end up saving quite a chunk of money when I don't have to pay for snacks there too.
Disney Reservations: I'm not a very big "detail planner" when it comes to my vacations, but if you want to eat at many of Disney's finer restaurants (such as any of the Epcot World Showcase full-service restaurants, or any of the "deluxe resort" full-service restaurants... like Artist Point or Whispering Canyon Cafe at The Wilderness Lodge) you must make reservations because they get booked up very quickly. Fortunately, if you are a Disney guest, you can make your reservations up to 180 days in advance by calling 407-WDW-DINE. Furthermore, the concierge at your Disney resort can also help you with reservations if you get to them early enough! Whenever I go to Walt Disney World, I spend more time scheduling my lunches and dinners than I do anything else, and advise other people to do the same if they plan on eating at any of the finer restaurants there.
Posted on Friday, December 21st, 2007
Hmmm... the TSA felt it necessary to inspect my suitcase.
Somebody now knows that I wear Mickey Mouse boxer shorts.
I'm in Spokane today, but not because I actually need to be in Spokane. When I changed my travel plans last week, planes were so overbooked that in order to get to San Francisco, I had to fly out of Spokane per my original itinerary. As if that weren't bad enough, I couldn't get a revised flight to Spokane on the 26th, so I'm flying back here on Christmas Day.
But that's not the strange part.
I somehow had it in my head that I was in Chicago just now.
Possibly because the TV was tuned to Chicago news, but more likely because I've been traveling so much over the past six months that I can't keep it straight in my head where the heck I am at any given moment...
Almost hard to believe that I failed once again to qualify for platinum level on my frequent flier plan.
But, then again, I did get to see some sweet scenery on the way over...
Oooh! You can see my home from here!
I don't mind the flying so much... but all this up-and-down is wrecking havoc on my sinuses.
I suppose that's my cue to get some sleep.
Here's hoping, anyway.
Posted on Saturday, December 22nd, 2007
Why is it that everywhere I go, the weather turns uncharacteristically cold?
Just one day after Belinda was lamenting the terrible heat in Orlando, I arrive and it's so cold that I'm having to wear a jacket. Now I arrive in San Francisco, where the weather is generally mild this time of year, and it's so cold that I'm wearing a sweatshirt plus a coat and gloves! Harsh! If I were back home, cold temperatures would be normal and I could deal with it... but here? It's a little more than depressing.
Much like having your suitcase miss your connecting flight.
But things like this are really to be expected on one of the busiest travel day of the year, so I'm not bitter.
No, my bitterness comes from my flight out of Spokane this morning as I listen to the man in the row behind me talking to the woman he is sitting next to...
SCARY MAN: Do you frighten easily?
WOMAN: Uhhhh... no. Why? Is there something that's going to frighten me?
SCARY MAN: I just want to let you know that the next noise you hear may sound like a wild boar sneaking up behind you, but it's not. So don't be frightened when you hear it...
• • • SCARY MAN CUTS LOOSE WITH A MASSIVE, TOTAL PANTS-RIPPING FART • • •
WOMAN: Oh my gawd!!
SCARY MAN: See, no wild boars! You're safe!
I mean... seriously... what the hell?
It's very rare that I'm at a loss for words, but this is one of those moments. I was half-way considering turning around and saying "Do YOU frighten easily? Because the next noise YOU hear may sound like a foot being broken off in your stupid ass which, I assure you, it most certainly is."
Some people just shouldn't be allowed to mingle with the general populace.
And by "some people" I actually mean "most people."
Anyway... after finishing up some work, I had a perfectly wonderful dinner with Dan from Therapy Beckons and his lovely girlfriend here in the city. Just the thing I needed to help me forget about cold weather, airplane farts, lost luggage, Britney Spears' child custody battle, and the George W. Bush presidency.
Well, not really... but 4 out of 5 ain't bad.
Posted on Sunday, December 23rd, 2007
It's Bullet Sunday from the City by The Bay. Originally, I wanted to fly back home today, but there were no flights available, so I had to wait until tomorrow. Oh well. It's hard to complain about getting to spend a free day in San Francisco.
• Lost Luggage. My missing suitcase was found and everything worked out okay after all. This makes me happy, because the last time I flew into San Francisco and my luggage was lost, I never saw it again.
• Kentucky Girl. Once I had clean clothes at last, I took BART into the city so I could have lunch with Kentucky Girl today. It went something like this...
Well, not really... but we did have sandwiches made by San Francisco's slowest deli where she tried to kill me with a potato chip. And then I took KG to Chinatown so I could introduce her to the crack cocaine substitute known as Golden Gate Fortune Cookies. After that, we shopped for crappy gifts and wandered around laughing our asses off until we ended up back at the BART station where we went our separate ways. Until we meet again my partner in cookie crime.
• Vending Hell. I was going to grab a couple of slices of pizza for dinner, but didn't end up in a pizza kind of mood. I then decided to enjoy a hotel vending machine dinner and have a big breakfast instead. Armed with a stack of dollar bills, I headed to the vending vestibule and found... nothing good at all. Not even a Snickers. It was all weird brands of chips and cookies and crap. After trying a few bags of "snacks" and finding them repugnant, I suddenly find myself in a "pizza kind of mood" after all. But it's too late now, so I guess I'm having fortune cookies and a Coke for dinner. Good thing I bought four bags of them.
• Death Scene. Bad Robert called to ask me if I had bought the Blu-Ray 5-disc set of Bladerunner (I had) and whether or not I had checked the fifth disc because there were manufacturing errors (I hadn't). After he told me that he was watching yet another version of the movie, he mentioned that Rutger Hauer's death scene was one of the best ever filmed. I agreed, at which point I had to mention that the most shocking and disturbing death scene I've ever seen in film was in Galaxy Quest when Quellek (Patrick Breen) dies while Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman) tries to comfort him after he's been shot. I was not expecting such a sad and touching moment in a comedy film, and it's haunted me ever since. Yet another reason I think Galaxy Quest is one of the most perfect (and underrated) movies of all time...
"By Grabthar's hammer, you shall be avenged!" Photo taken from The Questorian Site.
• Beauty Beholder. And so I'm sitting here enjoying my fortune cookies and Coke when suddenly a commercial for Dell's XPS "all-in-one" iMac killer shows up on my television. They keep talking about how beautiful it is and I nearly choke to death laughing my ass off at the absurdity of it all. I mean... I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and aesthetics are all subjective and stuff... but this janky piece of plastic is supposed to be beautiful?? It's got all these freaky angles with ugly chunks hanging off of it, and looks like ass...
IT'S STUNNING BECAUSE WE SAY SO, DAMMIT!!
When you look at the stunning curves and elegant simplicity of the iMac, the Dell just looks like a cheap piece of 1980's junk in comparison...
I know I'm a Total Mac-Whore and everything, but this is just hilarious. Why is it that nobody can design a good-looking computer except Apple? Surely Dell can afford to hire designers who are capable of making an attractive computer for PC users? Or do they think they can just say something is "beautiful" and it makes it true? I'm stunned alright.
And now I need to pack my suitcase so I can fly home in the morning for one night only. The jet-set lifestyle I lead is so glamorous.
Posted on Tuesday, December 25th, 2007
A week ago today I was riding Splash Mountain at Disney World. That seems like it was months ago.
And as I sit here in my hotel room with no heat (all that comes out is cold air) and no internet (it's Christmas, so they can't get anybody in to fix it) and no luggage (yeah, big surprise there)... I find myself questioning whether my brief Disney vacation was even real. Perhaps my mind invented it all so I'd have happier memories to cling to as I sit here cold, unconnected, and without clean clothes?
I'm like some kind of freezing luddite hobo.
But with an iPhone.
It's a Christmas miracle!
Posted on Thursday, December 27th, 2007
How can the economy be "strong" when so many businesses are struggling? Everywhere I go, I see stores shutting down or cutting their hours or laying off staff. Tonight I was sad to learn that a restaurant I like is closing next month. And there are a few shops I enjoy that I'm worried about too. If things keep going this way, small business owners will be a thing of the past. I can't help but be a little depressed about that.
I'd ask if anybody is working on fixing our badly broken economy, but if politicians are deluded into thinking "everything is great" then I suppose they don't think there's anything to fix. This is a real pity, because the dollar is so weak in international markets now that my upcoming trip to Europe is looking downright depressing. Lodging is so pricey that there's barely money in my budget left to eat, let alone see or do anything interesting.
Back in 2005, I made a graph comparing the value of the US dollar to the cost of toilet paper in Europe, and using that as an indicator of my vacation prospects...
A quick check at Yahoo! Finance reveals that the dollar has plummeted even further since then...
I suppose I should now be less concerned with being able to afford going to a museum or eating dinner, and more concerned with being able to afford to wipe my ass.
Though I suppose I could always take a stack of US dollars with me to use as toilet paper.
They're sure not good for much else outside this country anymore.