Posted on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008
Home at last.
If only for a week. Or less. I'm afraid to look at my calender for fear that I'm supposed to fly out again tomorrow. The very thought of having to travel yet again during the winter fills me with dread. I am so very tired of flights that are never on time... smelly hotel rooms... rude and disgusting people... bad drivers... schedule changes... and pretty much everything else, to tell the truth. Is it so wrong that I just want to stay home and hide under the covers in my own bed for a couple months? I don't know if I can take this much longer. Case in point...
This afternoon after following the stupidest person on earth through airport security, I was waiting for my flight home (delayed, of course), when I just started soaking up the atmosphere around me...
I couldn't take sitting next to a bunch of dumbasses any longer without becoming suicidal, so I left to stand against a wall until my flight was finally ready to board. This was all well and good until a group of unsupervised juveniles decided to come stand in front of me while screaming at each other and laughing uproariously every ten seconds.
All in all, just another day of absolute and total torturous hell that I have to put up with every time I travel... is it any wonder I would rather stay home?
At least nobody stole the windshield wipers off my car in the airport parking lot while I was gone this time.
Posted on Tuesday, January 8th, 2008
And so the snow arrived as expected. Lots of it.
I wasn't really worried about my flight to Seattle because, even if they cancelled it, they would just bus me over and everything would be fine. My flight to Milwaukee doesn't leave until tomorrow morning, so it didn't much matter. The problem was getting some freight out via FedEx. After a missed pick-up and a couple failed deliveries due to "weather" over the past week, there was just no way to trust them with my critical work project that Absolutely Positively Has To Get There Overnight. And so I got somebody with 4-wheel drive to take me over the mountain passes to SeaTac International so I could stop by the FedEx office and be sure that my shipment made a flight out.
So here I am at my airport hotel, buying a few movies off iTunes to watch on my iPhone during the flight tomorrow.
And now, even though I swore to myself that I would never post a video I didn't create on my blog, I just have to interject with the genius of director David Lynch on the subject of watching movies on a phone (foul language may ensue)...
Hey, dude, calm down... I just want something to entertain me on the plane! I don't think anybody ever expects that they're going to get the whole "movie experience" on their phone, it's just a way to pass the time.
Though I'd argue going to a movie theater isn't the best way to experience a film anymore either. Rude people with their mobile phones and loud talking and kicking your seat and smacking away on a bag of Doritos they smuggled in the theater... it's just too distracting to see a movie that way. People have no consideration or respect for others, which makes the theater-going experience miserable. Anymore, I'm happiest watching movies on my television at home. It may not be the perfect "movie experience," but it's a lot less aggravating.
Hmmm... why is it that the hotel room-service menu never has Taco Bell Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes on it? Doesn't that sound totally awesome as a before-bedtime snack? I think so...
Posted on Wednesday, January 9th, 2008
While waiting for my connecting flight into Milwaukee, I was sitting next to some teenage girls who were talking about all the stuff that teenage girls live to talk about. Boys. Shopping. Other girls they hate. The usual. Just as I was getting used to their endless chatting, they went into a giggle fit. Curious to know what was going on, I tuned in to the conversation. From what I could gather, they were all ga ga over an airline captain that had just walked in. Apparently, they thought he looked totally hot in his uniform.
"Pffft!" I thought to myself. Silly girls!!
And then I looked up.
Damn! The bastard DID look totally hot in his uniform!
It was then that I decided I should get me a uniform of my own so I could wear it all the time and be totally hot myself. Well, maybe not ALL the time... but definitely when I travel. And when I go to the grocery store. And when I eat at Taco Bell. And... well, yeah... I would wear it all the time...
While I am quite enamored with the idea of impressing the ladies by being an airplane captain, I worry that one day I might actually have to live up to the uniform. There I'd be... watching the latest episode of The Soup on my iPhone, happily minding my own business, when an airline attendant comes up and taps me on the shoulder...
Hot Attendant: Excuse me, captain?
Captain Dave: Yes. How can I help you, miss?
Hot Attendant: There's been an electrical problem in the cockpit. Our captain and co-captain are dead. We need you to make an emergency landing right away! And then, after we're on the ground, I need you to make love to me because, damn, you look so totally hot in that uniform!
Captain Dave: I see. Let me just wash my hands, and I'll be right there.
At which point I would lock myself in the bathroom and cry while the plane crashed into a mountain.
Maybe I should buy a flying simulation game for my Wii and practice it for a bit before I make myself look hot by dressing up as an airline captain? The cockpit of a commercial airplane looks kind of like my Wii controller, so what could go wrong? I wonder if The Captain from "Captain and Tennille" had to deal with this crap?
In other news, can somebody please explain this to me...
It's a foreign currency exchange booth.
It never actually goes anywhere, so why? Is it in case somebody somehow gets a gun through airport security and decides to rob the Travelex booth? What happens then? Does the person behind the counter just go "SURPRISE SUCKER!!" and drive off, foiling the robbery attempt? And, more importantly, is that thing street-legal? Because the only thing more hot than my wearing an airline captain's uniform would be to wear an airline captain's uniform while driving around in that sweet ride.
Though I'd have to put some bigger tires on it. And maybe some spinner wheels. I wouldn't want to look silly or anything.
Posted on Thursday, January 10th, 2008
It's very strange being in the land of Green Bay Packers when the big Seattle game is coming up this Saturday. I am hardly a Seahawks fan, but the never-ending smack-talk being aimed at my home-state team is still kind of surreal to me. But not surprising. In all my travels, it's hard to think of a state more devoted to to their football team than Wisconsin. They LOVE the Packers, and their devotion is hard to miss. Everywhere you go, everything's green and gold and team logos are plastered on every available surface. Brett Favre is worshipped as some kind of demi-god (though his three-time MVP status and amazing record probably justifies it).
To balance things out, I feel obligated to give a shout-out to the Seahawks, and wish them luck on Saturday...
Oooh, look! I'm one of THOSE people now.
With nothing good on television lately, I've been distracting myself with DVDs of old television shows. On this trip, I brought Kitchen Confidential: The Complete Series with me...
The douchebags at FOX cancelled the show after only four episodes, but the DVD set gives you all thirteen episodes that were produced. Loosely based on Anthony Bourdain's scandalous tell-all novel of the same name, Kitchen Confidential was a truly funny show with a remarkable cast of actors. I remain mystified as to why this wasn't a massive, massive hit. Oh well, it was cancelled at the same time as the brilliant Arrested Development, so at least it was in good company.
The Writer's Strike has me not only revisiting old television shows, but also watching stuff that I never in a million years thought I'd ever be watching. My latest addiction? Disney's Hannah Montana...
Starring the father-daughter team of Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus, this series is about an average school-girl who lives a secret double life as the massively famous pop-star "Hannah Montana." Yes, it's a kids show that's meant for the teen-girl demographic, but it's also kind of clever as far as crap television goes.
Either that, or I'm just a big girl.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I'm also addicted to Fight Quest!! The show follows two bad-ass fighters, Jimmy and Doug, as they travel the world to study different styles of fighting and martial arts...
It sounds like mindless violence, but it's actually pretty smart. While there is fighting, the show focuses on fighting as an art, not as moronic fisticuffs. Surprisingly fun to watch.
Either that, or I'm really needing to balance out my Hannah Montana habit.
Anyway... now that I'm done with work, I'm flying off for a vacation all my own. Sure it's only a day-and-a-half, but it's better than nothing. I just hope I'm not too tired to enjoy it.
Posted on Friday, January 11th, 2008
Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport is fairly small, so some of the "features" of larger airports are compromised. This doesn't bother me in the least, as I generally find smaller airports to be much less of a hassle.
One thing that Milwaukee doesn't have is a dedicated first class line through security. Instead, they have a shortcut that lets you jump to the front of the line. Even though I am usually flying first class, I never use the shortcut. I would feel like an asshole cutting in front of somebody who has been standing in line for twenty minutes, so I don't do it. Rather than being so exceedingly rude, I just show up to the airport early enough that I can stand in line with everybody else. It's no big deal...
Well, it's no big deal EXCEPT when some asshole comes charging down the first class shortcut line and tries to cut in front of me.
Then it's a very big deal.
Rude Bastard: I need to squeeze in front of you here...
Dave: No you don't.
Rude Bastard: I'm first class! You've gotta let me in there!
Dave: (holding up my ticket) Yes, well I'm first class, so you're going to have to wait.
Rude Bastard: If you're first class, why the hell aren't you in the first class line?
Dave: Because I'm not a total douchebag.
Guy Behind Dave: (as he gets cut in front of) Douchebag. =snicker!=
Now, to be fair, the guy IS playing by the rules. Milwaukee has it set up so that first class passengers get to be douchebags, and he's just taking advantage of it. But is it really that hard to show up to the airport fifteen measly minutes early? You may be flying first class, but that doesn't make you a better class of person. I really wish that Milwaukee would just get rid of the stupid shortcut line entirely. It would make for a more comfortable security experience for everybody involved.
Except the douchebags, of course.
But who gives a fuck about them?
Aw, heck... I'm on vacation! For a whole day-and-a-half! I don't care anymore!
"Vacation... all I ever wanted. Vacation... had to get away. Vacation... meant to be spent alone."
Posted on Saturday, January 12th, 2008
I was originally planning on visiting the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi in November of 2005, shortly after its grand opening on September 1st of that year. But then Hurricane Katrina came and completely destroyed it just days before it was due to open. According to that fucking piece of shit televangelist asshole Pat Robertson, this was God's wrath wrecking vengeance on the sinners of New Orleans and the surrounding area. I prefer to think that Pat Robertson is a lunatic opportunist who takes current events and perverts them to make God sound like a jerk so he can con people out of their money. I cannot wait until that fucking douchebag dies and gets to meet God in person so he can find out what His vengeance is really like. Something tells me that hating people in the name of Jesus and speaking for God is not cool with The Almighty.
Well, unless God takes pity on the old bastard because, after all, Pat Robertson is certifiably insane...
Since my work ended Thursday night, I didn't have a Saturday-night stay to get a cheap airline ticket. To save money on airfare, I decided to add on a weekend adventure in Biloxi so I could finally visit the Hard Rock (it opened for reals on June 30th of last year)...
After checking-in and dumping my crap off in my hotel room, I decided to go to the casino where my visit started off with a real bang. I was mere steps away from entering the casino when a woman came running in front of me frantically screaming "SECURITY! SECURITY! SECURITY!" Not wanting to miss out on anything good, I stopped and waited as two employees came running up to her. "THAT MAN RIGHT THERE JUST PUNCHED A POOR WOMAN IN THE FACE!!" she said, pointing to somebody who was quickly approaching the casino exit. The two guys just looked dazed and confused so she said "HE DID! HE PUNCHED HER AND PUSHED HER TO THE GROUND! By this time real security guys showed up, at which point the alleged attacker screamed to them "IT'S OKAY... SHE'S MY WIFE!!" and hurried past them, heading towards the hotel exit (as if beating your wife is somehow okay?). The security guys went after him, but I decided not to follow.
Once I got to the ATM, I withdrew $200 cash... $100 for each day. Within 35 minutes, I had spent $40 and already won $380 playing quarter slots. Deciding there was nowhere to go but down, I cashed out my winnings and called it quits for the night (and because I am completely inflexible on my $100 per day limit, I also added the left-over $60 to my winnings). Then it was time for dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe Biloxi located in the hotel itself...
It's a nice, albeit basic, property with no real surprises, But they did a good job maximizing the memorabilia (which is always a good thing) so I'm happy with it. Service was good, though the restaurant itself seemed pretty slow for a Friday night at 7:30pm. Maybe this is the off-season for gambling? I don't know.
Today I am taking it easy. I slept in until 9:30am (a real treat), gambled away $30, ate a nice breakfast at the Hard Rock's "24/7 Grill", wandered around to see a few other casinos in the area, then just now came back to work on my blog entry for tonight and relax for a bit before heading back to the casino and seeing if I can win anything with my remaining $70.
UPDATE: Meh. I gambled it all away while watching the Seahawks get spanked by Green Bay in the snow, but did win $65 on my last $2 (WHEEL. OF. FORTUNE!!), so I'm really only down $35 for the day. When deducted from my $340 in winnings yesterday, I'm ahead $305 total. That almost pays for my hotel room for the two days, which is pretty sweet! I must be lucky at Hard Rock's, because I came out ahead at their Hollywood and Tampa casinos in Florida too.
And now, since I know Hard Rock talk is boring to most people, I'm putting my in-depth review of the Hotel & Casino in an extended entry. I'll probably end tonight early considering that I have to get up at some insane early hour to catch my flights back home (boy I hope I can get some sleep on the plane).→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Thursday, January 24th, 2008
In preparation for my trip tomorrow, I've been working seven days a week, minimum 16-hour days for the past four weeks. To say I'm exhausted would be a gross understatement. I feel like I'm about dead... or at least severely broken. Of course, the cure for that is to spend 18 hours on three flights beginning at 6:00am. Which, by a happy coincidence, is exactly what I'm doing.
It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have to set my alarm clock for 3:30am to make it to the airport on time.
With that in mind, I hope you'll forgive me if I beg-off blogging tonight and turn-in for bed instead...
Now if I could only get rid of this strange craving for tacos, I might be able to actually get some sleep tonight. Don't you just hate it when you've got tacos on the brain?
Posted on Friday, January 25th, 2008
Oog! I seem to have lost a day traveling.
My first flight left at 6:00am Friday... now I'm here in Germany and it's already Saturday morning. Actually, back home it's Saturday morning too. Freaky.
Posted on Saturday, January 26th, 2008
And so here I am, happy to be back in Köln (Cologne), Germany again. It's a city I have been to many times before... not just for work, but to visit good friends living near here... and I never tire of the city. Last time I finally mustered the courage to climb the cathedral, so I don't know what new thing I'm going to find to do this time. Or maybe I don't find something new. Maybe I go to the Chocolate Museum again? I could sure use a wafer dipped in melted chocolate!
Anyway, here's my day...
And now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to put away my blog and have dessert...
I usually hate clowns, but clowns dressed as pirates are okay.
Posted on Sunday, January 27th, 2008
This entry probably won't make much sense. I spent the day at the world's largest candy show, and consumed so much sugar that my brain hurts. And I think I'm going blind. My hands are kind of shaking too. Perhaps I'm on my way to a sugar-induced coma or something?
What a way to spend a Bullet Sunday!
It's Hannah Montana, bitches!! I so totally want one of those mini star purse tins!
"Billy, do you want a lolly? Okay then, pull one out of the FREAKISHLY FRIGHTENING VAMPIRE HEAD!!"
• Milk! Well, maybe three things... Coolest product at the show this year? BAM! It's Quick Milk! This product is a straw with flavor beads in it. When you suck milk through it, your beverage magically changes flavor and color! TOTALLY AWESOME!! Though... is it just me, or does the product description sound vaguely sexual? "Stick into milk and feel the taste?" Wha-??
In any event, science prooves Quick Milk is good for you too!
• PEZ! Okay, four things... I have a small collection of PEZ candy dispensers that I've collected from around the world. When I mentioned this to the very nice lady working the PEZ booth, she very graciously gave me a bag filled with new PEZ dispensers, even though I'm not a corporate candy buyer! I didn't think it was possible for me to love PEZ more than I already do, but this was so awesome that now I am compelled to! The coolest I got were a Mozart PEZ head sold only in Austria(!), characters from an upcoming movie called "Kung-Fu Panda", and a Johnny Depp head from Pirates of the Caribbean 3! I also got to see prototypes they had on display for upcoming movie tie-in dispensers for Batman: The Dark Knight, Madagascar: Crate Escape, and Disney/Pixar's WALL-E.
I LOVE YOU PEZ!! You're my favorite dispensable candy!
My cool PEZ tote bag that I carry everywhere now!
• SEASONED! Tonight as I was buying yet another slice of street-vendor pizza for dinner, a guy behind me (about 45 years old and obviously American) asked me if I was an American. When I told him "yes" he kindly offered me some advice from a "seasoned traveler" (which is what he called himself)... "You need to get yourself a money belt, because if you keep your cash in your pocket like that, somebody might steal it and that would end your vacation real quick!" Now, having just watched EuroTrip where there's a gag involving a money belt, it took all my composure not to bust out laughing. He was trying to be nice, so I was doing my best to play along (even though, technically, I consider this to be bad advice, as it marks you as a tourist carrying a lot of cash)... "Oh, thanks for the tip! You've traveled a lot then?" I query. "Yep, this is my third time to Europe and I've been to Canada and Mexico, of course" he said with pride. "Ah. Have you been to Asia then?" I asked. "Ummm... no... just to Europe the three times now," he answered, putting extra emphasis on the "three times" part. I just stood there staring at him with this blank look on my face, wondering how somebody who has been out of the country only three times considers themselves to be a "seasoned traveler." Probably because he watches Rick Steves (rolling my eyes here) on television or something. Not really knowing what to say, I stupidly blurt out "Oh... well, good luck with that then!" and scurried off. I've lost track of the number of times I've been out of the country (over 40 probably?) and could likely call myself a "seasoned traveler," but I can't imagine handing out unsolicited advice on the street to people I don't know. He was trying to be helpful, so it's hard to fault him for a kindness, but I can't shake just how bizarre an incident this was.
• ADVICE! AAAAAAAAHH! Except I feel compelled to say that, given the abundance of cash machines everywhere, it's far better to carry small amounts of cash in your pocket or wallet than to use a money belt. This way, even if you are robbed, you don't lose everything. Even if you are in a country without cash machines and where they don't take traveler's checks, I'd still say it's smarter to divide your cash on your person... keeping a small amount in your pocket for minor purchases on the street, and the rest with your passport in your money belt (or whatever), so people don't see your stash.
• FAHRT! Picked up yet another photo for my "fahrt collection" (tee hee!)...
Though, I must say, this true fart from Sweden is still my favorite.
And that's my Bullet Sunday. Since it's almost midnight in Germany as I type this, and I'm not a bit tired because I've been eating sugar all day, I anticipate tomorrow to be slow-going.
Unless, of course, I start eating more sugar first thing to get myself going...
Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2008
Today at work I was attacked by a bear.
Two bears, actually.
There I was, minding my own business while typing some contact information into my iPhone, when I look up and see bears wandering down the aisle. They are waving to everybody and patting people on the shoulder as they pass. This is typical bear tactics to make people think that they are cute and cuddly when, in fact, they are ferocious killers. Not wanting to get mauled to death in the middle of a candy show, I step way off to the side so they can pass while leaving me unmolested.
This only seemed to encourage the bears (perhaps they smelled my fear?), because they headed my direction, bobbing their giant man-eating heads and waving their giant man-slaying arms. Within seconds, they were upon me. With no gun to shoot them, I panicked and screamed "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! BEARS! BEARS!!!"
As dozens of people stopped whatever they were doing to take notice, the bears freeze in their tracks. The one closest to me then backs away a bit, looking confused. This gives me the opportunity I need to escape. Quickly dodging to the other side of the aisle, I run around the corner and am safe. Victory is mine!
Later in the day, I stalked the bears so I could get a photo. Just look at the ruthless bastards...
As I'm leaving work, Bad Robert calls me...
ME: Hey Robert.
ROBERT: Dude! You're in Germany! How is it?
ME: Not too bad. I got attacked by bears though.
ROBERT: Sweet! Hey, could you grab me some of that Pop-Rocks Chocolate?
ME: (remembering that I had emailed him about this new chocolate candy that melts in your mouth, then explodes because it has Pop Rocks in it) Ummm, sure. I'll see what I can do.
ROBERT: YEEEESSSSSSSS!!! Hey, call me when you get back and I'll come up.
ME: Sure. See you then.
ROBERT: Well, okay... have fun drinking beer in your lederhosen!
It's then that I realize Robert undoubtedly thinks that everybody in Germany dresses up like characters from our nearby bavarian-themed tourist town of Leavenworth, Washington during Oktoberfest. This is of course, absurd, but I don't tell him that so he can keep the fantasy alive...
On my way to a delicious dinner of Twisted Mac & Cheese and Smashed Potatoes at the Hard Rock Cafe, I stop off at the LEGO Store so I can see if there's anything special going on since today is the LEGO 50th anniversary. I thought they might be handing out gold bricks or would have commemorative keychains you could buy or something. Unfortunately, not only was there nothing going on, but the employees didn't even seem to be aware of it. I found this kind of sad, because LEGO is my all-time favorite toy. Heck, even Google is getting in on the festivities, but LEGO themselves couldn't bother to do ANYTHING?...
Oh well. Happy 50th birthday LEGO! Hard to believe all your deserved success was built starting with a single brick...
And now I really should get back to work seeing as how it's already 9:00pm and all.
Just as soon as I set down my beer and change out of my lederhosen...
Posted on Tuesday, January 29th, 2008
Today was my last day on the job in Köln, and I got off work an hour early. As I left, all kinds of exciting ideas popped into my head as to how I might spend the afternoon. This is a great city with plenty to do, and I could use a break from my daily routine.
But by the time I got back to my hotel, my attitude had changed entirely. I just wanted to order room service then climb in bed and read a book. The last thing I felt like doing is going to a museum or hunting down something to do. I finally made the decision to at least go out for dinner, which means I ultimately ended up following my daily routine after all. Sad.
One thing I do several times a day in my routine is walk past a poster hanging in a hair salon window that has a guy on it promoting professionally disheveled hair. This is bothersome because he seems to be looking all condescending and judgmental at me in a disapproving way. Every time I pass it, I feel as though he would be making some kind of smart-assed comment to me if he could talk...
I also feel that Meister Bock at the train station's sausage stand is making smart-assed comments at me, but it always involves how happy he is that his massive wiener is so much bigger than mine...
When I come back from the job, there's Disapproving Man waiting for me again...
And, of course, he's there when I go out for dinner...
While walking back from the Hard Rock Cafe Köln, I pass four Merzenich Bakeries (they're as prolific as Starbucks in Seattle!). This makes me happy, because they make the world's most perfect donut... DAS SPRITZRINGE!! It's actually more like a pastry than a donut because the center is kind of undercooked and doughy. I think that's what makes them taste so darn fine...
Because the Merzenich shops close promptly at 6:00pm, it's usually slim pickings as they try to get rid of their remaining inventory. Since I must have four Spritzringes (two for after-dinner dessert and two I save for breakfast in the morning), I usually end up having to drift from shop to shop until I've found enough. Today I found none at the first shop, one at the second shop, none at the third shop, and one at the fourth shop. This means I only ended up with TWO Spritzringes for tonight, and this sucks major ass. I only get one for dessert and one for breakfast, which is hardly satisfying. Except perhaps to the bastard on that poster...
Since it's 10:30pm now, I should probably think about getting some sleep. Except my flight doesn't leave until the afternoon, so maybe I should go to the corner pub and get drunk instead?
Though I can't bear the thought of having to face Disapproving Poster Man while I'm wasted, so I guess I'll just climb in bed and play Kitty Spangles Solitaire until I pass out...
Posted on Wednesday, January 30th, 2008
Ooh look at me! Thanks to Germanwings Airlines* and Flugnummer (flight number) 720, I'm someplace I've never been before... Warszawa (Warsaw), Poland!
Today officially marks the end of what I affectionately refer to as "HellQuarter"... the months of October, November, December, and January... where I am at my busiest. Sure I am busy the rest of the year too, but this is the time where it's the worst. This is the time of year I consider wearing adult diapers so I don't have to waste precious minutes running to the toilet. The problem is that I can't find anybody to come change my diaper, and I'm sure as hell am not going to be the one to do it. I already have my hands full with my monkey...
This is the reason why I haven't had much time to comment on your blogs or reply to comments on my own blog (which I've just learned is a major pet-peeve of Avitable's, so I guess I'm not invited to his Halloween party this year). It was a daily struggle just to keep writing in Blogography and stay current with my blogroll, so something had to give. But I still read and treasured every comment I got during HellQuarter, so I hope that counts for something.
Anyway, my original plan after work was done was to go to Bucharest, Romania for the Grand Opening of the Hard Rock Cafe there. But the opening date had already slipped once or twice at the time I needed to buy my tickets, and I was worried it would slip again, so I didn't want to risk it (the cafe ended up opening January 20th, darn-it!). Looking at the big map of Hard Rocks, I took note of those properties I haven't yet visited in Europe (Oslo, Gothenburg, Warsaw, Malta, Moscow, and Gran Canaria)... then selected the location with the cheapest airfare, which was Warsaw (probably because it's the closest). And here I am.
In a happy stroke of luck, my friend and fellow Hard Rock enthusiast, Perry (who was my partner-in-crime for our now-infamous Hard Rock Run in 2004) was able to join me for dinner at the beautiful Warsaw Hard Rock, which is in the massive new Złote Tarasy complex that's across from the very cool Palace of Culture and Science building...
Tomorrow we're going to tour a bit of the city, which promises to be interesting. It's always fun to explore someplace you haven't been before.
In the meanwhile, I'm going to try and make the most of my internet access, which costs $40 for 24 hours at my hotel here. I had thought perhaps I might have better luck with the OVERWHELMINGLY FUCKING TRAGIC STATE OF THE US DOLLAR in Poland, but apparently I'm wrong about that. Our currency is worthless everywhere.
* By the way... if you are looking for cheap inter-European air travel in or out of Germany, I highly, highly recommend Germanwings. Despite their rock-bottom prices and lack of assigned seating, they are still one of the best airlines I've ever flown. The planes are super-clean and impeccably maintained. The staff and cabin crew are exceedingly friendly and helpful. All of the seven times I've flown with them, my flights have departed and arrived on schedule. All-in-all, a wonderful airline I'm thrilled to be flying.
And, on that note, I think I'm off to bed now, where I'll be dreaming of Köln's Spritzringe donuts.
Posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2008
Since this is my only full day in Warsaw, I knew early on that I wanted to make the most of it. Fortunately, a good place to start was right across the street from my hotel.
A gift from the former Soviet Union to the people of Poland, the "Palace of Culture and Science" is a massive building and controversial landmark of the city...
It's also probably the gayest building in Europe, because the exterior features statues of studly guys with their shirts off holding massive power tools and other manly artifacts...
At first I thought it was just me, but when I was researching the building on the internet, the first page I found about the building at IgoUgo featured an ad for "fantabulous gay vacations" with those same three guys...
During Soviet control, the building was known as the "Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture and Science," but all reference to Stalin was eradicated after decentralization when Poland was free again. You can see evidence of that on one of the less titillating (but still very gay) statues outside. He's holding a book that has a blank spot where Stalin's name used to be...
The building also houses the "Museum of Technology" at its base, which was very cool (and a total bargain at only 8 złoty!). Inside there's all kinds of old samples of technology... from computers and automobiles to washing machines and space exploration. My hands-down favorite was the Polish Fiat showroom, which had a number of beautiful antique cars on display...
The "Space" room was nicely done, featuring a good number of models of technology from the US space program...
Before we could get on with touring the city, Perry and I had to go back to the Hard Rock Cafe to get a couple of quick photos (last night was far too crowded). This is a really nice split-level property (complete with a stage and radio station built-in!) with a terrific assortment of memorabilia and a very friendly staff...
Despite being so new on the outside, it has a great "classic feel" to it on the inside. About the only place it misses is above the lower bar. They should have featured some nice guitars or other rock artifacts there, but instead have some kind of artsy deco lighting that doesn't really fit with the rest of the cafe's theming...
On an unrelated note, I saw a Polish poster for the new JJ Abrams produced horror flick "Cloverfield" and noted that it has a much more awesome title here - "PROJEKT: MONSTER!" How frickin' sweet is that? I'm sorry, but that should have totally been the US title as well...
And that is part one of my day in Warsaw. For the conclusion, see my next entry.
Posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2008
After hearing the phrases "...was completely destroyed" and "...all the people were killed" repeatedly over a four hour period, you'd think that they would start to lose their meaning and you would become numb to them. But of course you don't... you only wish you did.
Ultimately deciding it would be much easier to take an organized tour than to attempt to navigate Warsaw ourselves with no Polish language skills, Perry and I hooked up with a small tour company recommended by the hotel. Our guide was amazing and, since there were only six of us in the group (all of whom were nice and well-behaved), I didn't want to shoot myself like I usually do in organized tours.
The long and tragic history of Poland would be enough to make you fall into despair if not for the astounding resilience of the Polish people themselves. At every turn, and under unimaginable conditions, the Poles have chosen to be inspired by their past instead of be beaten down by it. The country has been invaded and divided multiples times (and was even erased off the map completely at one point) but still endures. Who could blame anybody for taking inspiration from that?
The tour started in Park Łazienkowski which features one of many statues of Józef Piłsudski, who is largely responsible for Poland regaining independence after over 120 years of being divided up amongst neighboring countries...
The statue is a pretty incredible work of art, accurately portraying Piłsudski as the contemplative leader he was. Despite some later controversy he is still very much in the heart and minds of Poland, and rightfully so.
Continuing through the park, we came across "The Palace on the Water" which started out as a Turkish bath house but was ultimately expanded and remodeled by Poland's last king, Stanislas August Poniatowski. Photos weren't allowed inside, which is unfortunate, because the craftsmanship and art collection is astounding (which belies its rather plain exterior). Much of the palace was destroyed by the Nazis in retaliation for the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. But unlike most historic buildings that were eradicated in the systematic destruction of Warsaw, the palace managed to survive and has been restored as best they could. Out front I found a sundial which made for a nifty vantage point...
After a very cold walk through the park, we headed to the Jewish Ghetto which was established by the Nazis during World War II. It was here that Jewish natives were confined in unimaginably harsh conditions. Those who did not die from disease and starvation were relocated to concentration camps, extermination camps, or murdered outright on the streets. Over a three year period, the population dropped from 450,000 to 70,000 people, and it became clearly evident to those interned in the ghetto that the only thing awaiting them was annihilation. This led to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which was the first civil uprising of the war. There was no hope... NO hope... of victory, and the fighters knew that any resistance would be futile, but they wanted to die for a reason instead of being mindlessly exterminated. Ultimately this led to the complete destruction of the ghetto, as 56,000 Jews would lose their lives after three months of struggle. This is remembered by Warsaw in the "Monument to the Ghetto Heroes" at the site...
From there we headed toward "Old Town" Warsaw, stopping next to the "Monument for the Fallen and Murdered in the East." This sculpture has dozens of crosses stuck to a rail car, symbolizing all those who were transported to the east and murdered in Russian camps under Stalin. Poland just can't catch a break, at first thinking that the Russians would help them against German invasion, but was instead ultimately persecuted by them as well...
There's another heartbreaking monument outside Old Town's medieval walls that commemorates the children who fought during the Warsaw Uprising...
Like much of Warsaw, Old Town was systematically destroyed by the Germans as a punishment for the Warsaw Uprising. After World War II had ended, the people of Warsaw decided to rebuild Old Town as close to the original as they could using old paintings and recovered artifacts as reference. The result is an exquisite reconstruction that just seems to get more beautiful as the day wore on...
And thus ended our short tour of the city.
Tomorrow I absolutely want to return to Old Town and the many shops that line the main square there. Three days in Warsaw isn't even going to scratch the surface.
Posted on Friday, February 1st, 2008
It's my last day in Poland!
With only five hours left before I have to leave, there's really not time to do much of anything. A train ride to Kraków would be cool, but out of the question. It makes more sense to wander back through the places from yesterday's tour so I can spend a bit more time looking around when it's not dark out.
Went back to beautiful Old Town Warsaw so I could see everything in daylight...
Shopped for souvenirs and got scolded by a very angry little bird...
Walked to the monument for the heroes of the Warsaw Uprising...
And got a close-up look at the memorial to all the children who fought in the Warsaw Uprising...
I don't understand Polish, so I can only guess that these signs plastered everywhere are messages of support and encouragement for our beloved president...
Of course, I don't have to read Polish to know that these signs plastered everywhere are messages of support and encouragement for me...
And then, just like that, my time was up. After one last drink at the Hard Rock and saying goodbye to Perry, I caught a taxi to the airport and my adventure in Warsaw was over.
When I looked at the reader board to find the terminal/check-in desk for my flight, there wasn't a number... there was an "E". Eventually I figured out from the legend at the bottom that "E" stood for "Etiuda" but that meant nothing to me because I have no idea what an "Etiuda" is. After finding an information desk, I am told the "Etiuda" is "downstairs." When I get there, the sign for "Etidua" points to a restaurant in the corner which leaves me hopelessly confused. I see people walking outside, which is where the sign says the Domestic Terminal is located, so I decided to see if I could find somebody there to help me. I then exit the building and there, about 500 yards past the Domestic Terminal, is Etiuda Terminal.
Why couldn't they have the sign for Etiuda Terminal pointing out the fucking door like the Domestic Terminal sign does? Hell, why don't they say that "Etiuda" is, in fact, A SEPARATE TERMINAL? Even if I had perfect Polish language skills, there would be no way for me to figure out what in the hell was going on based on the thoroughly crappy "information" signs they have at the airport. I absolutely hate that. Airports should be dead-simple to navigate... even if you don't know the local language. How hard would it be to have directional arrows painted on the floor next to the reader board so people know where to go? Or how about a simple sign under the board with a map showing the location of all the terminals? How about ANYTHING?
Oh well. After an uneventful flight, I arrive back at Köln-Bonn International... the poster child for excellent airport signage and ease of navigation. As I was making my way to the train station I looked out the window to see an incredible sunset, inadequately captured by this photo...
A few minutes later, and I'm at the cool airport Deutsche Bahn platform for my ride back "home"...
Where, of course, the totally evil Disapproving Man is waiting to pitch me some shit...
Unfortunately, the bakeries are all closed, so there will be no Spritzringe donut for me tonight.
Waaaah! I wish I could have seen more of Poland.
Maybe next time.
Posted on Saturday, February 2nd, 2008
Oh my aching head.
Today I met up with my friends from Essen, who came down to visit with me and check out the Kölner Karneval (Cologne Carnival) festivities. Unfortunately, I am leaving tomorrow and won't get to see the big carnival climax with Rosenmontagzügen (Rose-Monday Parade), but there was still plenty going on.
After days of rain and overcast gloom, the party gods decided to smile upon Köln with blue skies, which was nice...
In preparation for the ensuing craziness of the carnival, businesses are boarding up their storefronts, which is not so nice...
When I met my friends at the train station at 11:00am, their first order of business was getting a beer. Fortunately this was not a problem, because there are beer stands every ten feet. Stores that you wouldn't normally associate with selling beer have signs plastered all over their windows advertising it. I didn't check, but would not be surprised to find the LEGO store selling beer. Of course, since this is Köln, the drink of choice is Kölsch, which is a beer unique to the region (and which can only legally be named "Kölsch" if it's brewed here)...
This is where the trouble started, and it was not because I was attacked by a group of transgender Viking warriors...
I made it very clear to my friends that I would not be getting drunk because I absolutely did not want to take an international flight with a hangover in the morning. My good "friend" Denis told me that I would not get drunk if I were to eat something with every beer I drank, then handed me a Kölsch. "This is good German beer! You will be fine!" he says.
And it was a good theory... at first.
I had Kölsch & a Spritzringe donut. Kölsch & a slice of corn pizza (don't ask). Kölsch & an ice cream cone. Kölsche & potatoes with mayo... WHICH, by the way, is about the most awesome food invention since chocolate pudding...
Yes, that's my room number written on my hand in case I forget!
But once you drink five Kölscheses, it doesn't matter how much food you've eaten... you're probably going to get drunk. After you've had six, it's guaranteed. Which is why I had seven. And so here I am, drunk at only 8:00pm, praying that I can sleep this off and not be miserable on the flight tomorrow...
You know I must be drunk, because I'm wearing a clown scarf. Except it's not really a clown scarf but instead the official scarf of the Kölner Karneval which Emma assures me looks totally hot. Though I don't think anybody noticed my new-found hotness, because the crowds were insanely huge...
Anyway, Denis tells me that I wouldn't be having this drunkenness problem if I were to stop with my vegetarian nonsense and would have eaten something from the Giant Flaming Wheel of Meat, because that's what he did and he's totally not drunk...
The very idea of it makes me want to puke, which is probably just what I need right now. And I never thought I'd be saying that about a Giant Flaming Wheel of Meat.
Thus ends my final day in Europe... and what a way to go. It's not every day you see a man in a purple mini skirt and pink bunny ears puking into a trash can while a woman dressed like a cat blows a big plastic horn at his head. Of course, I've never been to Mr. Fab's house, so I could be wrong about that.
Thanks to everybody for tagging along on my trip. Tomorrow we return to our regularly-scheduled blogging...
Posted on Saturday, March 1st, 2008
Last night was an official meeting of the TequilaCon 2008 Planning Posse. For everybody who is anxiously awaiting to hear about what's going to be happening in Philadelphia on May 3rd, your salvation will soon be at hand! A venue has been chosen, plans have been made, and a spreadsheet has been created. Jenny will be working out the few remaining details next week, so keep a look-out over at Run Jen Run (or watch your in-box if you've requested email updates).
The TQ2008 Planning Posse after-party kicked off at the sublimely cool restaurant Montage, where much macaroni & cheese and geek tattoos were to be had (w00t!). From there, the evening moved to The Green Dragon for Sopranos pinball, then to The Blue Monk for after-cocktails cocktails. A most excellent and productive precursor to TequilaCon 2008...
This morning Dustin and I decided to meet Vahid at Powell's City of Books so we could cash-in on his encyclopedic knowledge of science fiction literature. I've got some travel coming up, and nothing makes the plane time pass faster than a really good book. Fortunately, Vahid has a huge list of worthwhile titles to explore...
I managed to escape with a total under $60 this time, which showed great restraint on my part. It would be very easy to spend several days and several thousands of dollars at Powell's, not just because they have one of the best book selections on earth, but because it's so cool that independent book-sellers like this (and my beloved Elliott Bay Book Co. in Seattle) can thrive in the day-and-age of Amazon and the mammoth chain stores.
My favorite was the Pope-Mobile shopping cart, though they were having some problems getting started...
Cirque de Soleil is in opening the city tonight, and everywhere you go downtown there are people dressed up as angels to promote the event. They're juggling, dancing, walking on stilts, and passing out fliers. Since today was also the opening day of a new season for the Portland Saturday Market, many of the Cirque Angels ended up congregating there...
After goofing around at the market (FAKE BABY!!), the weather was so nice that we decided to visit Portland's Chinese Gardens. It's an incredible oasis of calm and beauty in the middle of the city...
Things were just starting to come into bloom, but it was too early to see the garden in all its splendor (lucky for you, Vahid has some great photos of a previous visit up at Flickr). Still there were some beautiful shots to be had...
After a break, Vahid came back to town and suggested eating at E-San, which has some of the best Thai food I've eaten outside of Thailand. I had a truly excellent Gang Mussamun veggie curry, and recommend E-San highly when looking for someplace unique to eat in Portland.
Earlier in the day, as we were walking by Dante's Cafe, we were handed a flyer for a special event by "The Can-Can Castaways" happening tonight. As we peeked inside to see the performers practicing for the show, it looked interesting, so we decided to come back for the show.
F#@% Cirque de Soleil and their $50 tickets... THIS is value entertainment.
For a mere $12 cover charge, we were treated to a fantastic showing of The Breaking, which is the troop's dance-inspired tale of "Love, Loss, and Lament" featuring terrific live music by The Bad Things...
Awesome performance. And they're based out of SEATTLE! It would be fun to get a group of friends together and see one of their home shows. I'm not a dance-performance lover, but this was excellent stuff. Vahid and I both bought the CD and got our show posters autographed by the cast. If you're in Seattle, check out The Can-Can Kitchen and Cabaret down at the Pike Place Market.
During show intermissions, we played table-top games, with Vahid getting high score on "Chug Monkey" which I thought was a pretty cool game. Who doesn't love a drunk monkey?
That's a pretty amazing day, and I think I set a record with the number of outgoing links or something.
Tomorrow morning it's a flight back home and a return to my regularly-scheduled boring life there...
Posted on Thursday, March 20th, 2008
Packin' my suitcase!
And trying not to freak out at all the crap I have to do before I drive over to Seattle tomorrow.
On top of a pile of unfinished work, impending snow on the mountain passes, my car acting up again, a missing cable for my iPod Shuffle, and the TOTALLY CRAPPY EXCHANGE RATE FOR THE U.S. DOLLAR... well, it's not been the best day for me.
But I still had reason to smile, because this was the random photo that landed on my desktop this morning...
Anyway... I had bought some of those new Quaker Mini Delights snacks and was telling a friend about them...
DAVE'S FRIEND: So they're like tiny rice cakes?
ACTUAL DAVE: Yeah, but they've got frosting drizzled on them. The chocolate-mint ones are really good... kind of like Girl Scout Cookies. The caramel ones are okay, but the frosting tastes like plastic.
DAVE'S FRIEND: The WHAT ones?
ACTUAL DAVE: The rice cakes?
DAVE'S FRIEND: The CAR-mel ones?
ACTUAL DAVE: Yeah, the frosting is plastic-like.
DAVE'S FRIEND: On which ones?
ACTUAL DAVE: Uhhhh... the caramel ones?
DAVE'S FRIEND: AH-HAAAAHH!!
And that's when she pointed out that I pronounce caramel as "CARE-AH-MEL" which she tells me is wrong. It's supposed to be "CAR-MEL."
I asked around and found out that everybody else thinks I pronounce it oddly as well. I never noticed before.
So what the f#@% is that extra "a" doing in there? Stupid superfluous vowels! I hate silent letters!
Hmmm... I should probably take some underwear on my trip.
It's always the little things you forget.
Posted on Friday, March 21st, 2008
I'm on vacation!
And since I fully plan on being incapacitated any minute now, I wish you a happy Good Friday!
I know mine will be.
Posted on Sunday, March 23rd, 2008
You want a bullet? Here's a bullet for you...
• VACATION, BITCHES!!!
Away I go...
And if you celebrate the whole Easter thing (or just like chocolate bunnies), I hope your holiday is a happy one.
Posted on Monday, March 24th, 2008
"Huh? You're going to Oslo for vacation?? What in the hell for?" —Just About Everybody I Know
Trying to explain how sometimes I like to travel to places "just because I haven't been there before" is a challenging ordeal. But here I am in the capitol city of Norway for exactly that reason. I've never been here, there's a Hard Rock Cafe in the city, and one of my first blogging buddies (whom I've never met) lives in the area. That's more than enough reason for me, even if people I know have trouble understanding why I'm here instead of Hawaii.
The tough thing about Olso is not the cold, snowy weather this time of year... I'm used to that back home. No, the problem is affording to spend time here. As The World's Most Expensive City, Oslo is a real challenge for the tourist traveler. And when you compound that with the INCREDIBLY F#@%ING WEAK U.S. DOLLAR, an expensive city becomes almost prohibitively expensive. Because, let's face it, on the international market, the American dollar ain't worth shit.
In fact, I'd be willing to wager that if you forced somebody here to choose between our dollar and a pile of shit, they'd actually take the shit because it could be used as a fertilizer, whereas a U.S. Dollar has practically no value at all. And the fun starts the minute you get here... a train from the airport into the city, which would be around $5-$10 anywhere else, is $32 in Oslo. And, since I measure everything compared to the price of a roll of toilet paper, I found out that the Blogography Toilet Paper Index Score for Oslo is $4.50.
If my hotel didn't provide toilet paper, I'd be wiping my ass with the U.S. currency I had left in my pocket... it just makes economic sense.
But enough about the INCREDIBLY F#@%ING WEAK U.S. DOLLAR, here's a few things I saw today...
One of my very first blogging buddies is Karla from "Tales of a Texpatriate." She is funny as hell, loves to travel, and has a similar outlook on things as I do. I'd say this makes her a hotter female version of me, but my ego won't allow it. Instead I'll just say I love her to death, and couldn't wait to meet her at long last. So imagine my excitement when I get a text message on my iPhone telling me she'll meet me by the giant tiger at the train station...
That doesn't look very "giant" so here it is again, but with people so you can see how tall it is...
Well, not how tall "IT" is, but how tall "HE" is, ahem...
After a walk down the main street "Karl Johans Gate" we arrived at the Hard Rock Cafe Oslo, where Karla bought me birthday dinner! I guess she wanted to delay that inevitable moment where I run out of money and have to sell myself on the street for food...
After a lovely chat over potato skins and nachos, we were off to Akershus Castle down the street. Along the way, I was surprised to see a statue of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He's honored here because of the assistance the U.S. offered Norway during the war. It's kind of nice remembering when we had a president that was liked and respected around the world. It's been so long...
Once at the castle, we could look down into the harbor. It was snowing pretty hard by now, which made taking photos difficult, but I did get a nice foggy panorama out of the deal...
Oslo has a lot of public art, some of it very strange. Like this "Let Your Fingers Do The Walking" kind of thing here...
After a a little more wandering around, my lack of sleep from the past 32 hours finally caught up with me and it was time to say goodbye to Karla and head back to my hotel (conveniently located near the train station). Karla warned me that this is a popular area for hookers to hang out, but I haven't seen any yet. At first I was disappointed, but then I figured if hookers are as expensive as everything else here, I probably couldn't afford one. Besides, my bed is barely big enough for me...
And before I go, a big thanks to everybody who was kind enough to send my birthday wishes via Twitter, blog entries (I'm a holy day now!), comments, text messages, emails, and e-cards! Getting older sucks a little bit less when you know people are thinking kindly of you.
Posted on Tuesday, March 25th, 2008
I don't even want to think about how much money I spent today.
And all I really bought was postcards, guidebooks, pamphlets, and such. But when a postcard can cost as much as $3.00, it all adds up very quickly. Karla warned me again and again not to try to translate Norwegian Kroner into U.S. Dollars or else I'd have a total breakdown, but it's kind of hard not to. When I'd buy a tiny little stack of souvenirs and the total comes to 250 Kroner, my mind is instantly converting that to $50 then deflating in my skull. Oh well... there's always bankruptcy.
Since most museums are still running on winter hours, there is very limited available time to see everything I'd like to. But I did pretty good, managing to see nine museums in ten hours...
Which was not easy. But Karla had given me a map and some advice, so thanks to trams, busses, subways, and a lot of walking, I managed just fine with some careful planning...
Munch-Museet (Munch Museum). Brilliant impressionist artist Edvard Munch is easily one of Norway's most famous artists, so visiting his museum was a no-brainer. It's small, but the collection is quite good. Oddly enough, Munch's most famous painting, The Scream, is not here.
Nasjonalgalleriet (The National Gallery). Munch's The Scream IS at The National Gallery, however... along with an astounding collection of other works. I limited my time here to an hour, but could have easily spent half my day in awe of the treasures here. Features a good number of scenic works from this beautiful country.
Bygdøy. On my first day here, Karla gave me a walking tour, and highly recommended a trip to Bygdøy because of the excellent museums there. I opted to take a boat trip, which affords excellent views of the city as you head out...
Here is where I got a lot of walking in because I didn't have time to waste waiting on buses. As I was heading inland to my first Bygdøy museum, I was surprised to see the Apple Macintosh Command Key logo on a sign along the way...
Sure enough, a search at Wikipedia turns up that Apple Designer Susan Kare did indeed take the logo from a symbol she found on Scandinavian maps denoting "a place of cultural interest." You learn something new every day!
Norsk Folkemuseet (Norwegian Folk Museum). This museum was a total surprise. I was expecting to come here and find a collection of Norwegian folk arts, and indeed they have them. Lots of them. Like this stunning detail from an embroidered vest...
What I was not expecting was the 155 historic buildings which have been gathered here in a massive outdoor walking museum. It's a fascinating collection, and includes a 13th century stave church in pristine condition...
Absolutely magnificent, and I believe it was the inspiration for the church reproduction that can be found in the Norway Pavilion of Epcot's "World Showcase" at Walt Disney World (which I blogged about here). The only downside to this museum was that the trails are covered with compact snow over gravel, leaves, and dirt, making for VERY scary climbs up and down hills. I nearly fell and cracked my ass on more than a couple occasions. Still, it was well worth the risk, and I really wish I could have had more time here.
UPDATE: In going through my photos, I found a different angle which confirms that this is indeed the church that Disney used to model their version. It's the exact same except that they've stripped off the crosses. This is odd when you consider that Disney still calls it "Stave Church," but I guess they're trying to be all PC and stuff. Kind of lame, really, you'd EXPECT a church to have crosses...
Vikingskipshuset (Viking Ships Museum). Contains three of the best-preserved viking ships in existence and other Viking treasures. A very nice museum that seems almost impossible when you consider how old these ships are...
Norsk Sjøfartsmuseum (Norway Maritime Museum). Consisting mostly of detailed scale models of various ships throughout Norway's extensive history with navigating the world's seas, this museum wasn't really my cup of tea. I did enjoy the 20-minute "panorama movie" showcasing dozens of Norwegian coastal cities I'd love to visit. So many beautiful little fishing villages built on a scattering of rocky ocean outcroppings... you could spend a lifetime exploring them all.
Frammuseet (The Fram Museum). The "Fram" is a world-famous ship which made many inspirational expeditions... the most renowned being the journey where Roald Amundsen became the first to reach the South Pole in 1911. I had thought the building would just have a bunch of artifacts and information about the ship's history, so you can imagine my surprise when I walked in the door and found THE ENTIRE FRICKIN' SHIP ENCLOSED IN THE BUILDING...
Amazing. This was easily my favorite museum of the day, and totally worth a trip to Norway to visit. Not only can you explore hundreds of artifacts from the ship, but you can actually walk onboard and look around inside it. Sweet! The thing is massive, and no photo can really put it into scale. Though I did try...
Kon-Tiki Museet (The Kon-Tiki Museum). This museum contains the famous boat constructed by Norwegian ethnologist Thor Heyerdahl who wanted to prove that people from South America could have settled the Polynesian Islands. Using only ancient tools available at the time, Heyerdahl created the Kon-Tiki and sailed it 4,300 miles over a 101 day period back in 1947. You can read more about the fascinating voyage here...
Museet for Samtidskunst (Norwegian Contemporary Arts Museum). I am not a big fan of "modern art" so this museum already had a strike against it. But things went from bad to worse when I went inside and discovered almost all of the museum areas were closed. I understand that winter is the slow season and the best time to change out exhibits, but this was ridiculous and they shouldn't even have bothered to keep it open.
Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst (Astrup Fearnley Museum for Modern Art). This museum became famous after purchasing Jeff Koons "Michael Jackson and Bubbles." I'm guessing there must be multiple copies, because I'm certain I've seen it before. Or maybe it gets moved around, I don't know...
In any event, I went to the museum expecting to see it there. What I was not expecting to see was another Koons creation hanging to the left of it called "Blow Job-Ice." Apparently this is one in a series of hard-core pornographic works showing Koons having all kinds of sex with his porn-star ex-wife Ilona (you can see them here, but this link is obviously Not Safe For Work). Frightening.
And that's all the museums I had time for today before everything started closing. Hopefully I'll have time to do more exploring when I'm back Friday.
After all that I went to the grocery store. If you want to take a look at what I found there, I've put it in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Wednesday, March 26th, 2008
I am entirely too tired to function, but committed to getting today's entry finished before going to bed. I suppose I should be concerned about the rambling nonsense that's to follow, but I'm just too exhausted to care.
Göteborg, which is mostly known as "Gothenburg" outside of Scandinavia (and, as I learned from studying Swedish, is pronounced more like "Yeuo-te-boree" by the locals) is a quick 4-hour train ride from Oslo. The city has a Hard Rock Cafe, so of course I had to make the trip... even if it did mean having to get up at 5:30am so I could pack and make the 7:00am train. I was confident that the scenery would be breathtaking, so I was sure to book a window seat. Since I paid an upgrade for "Komfort Klasse" I ended up getting a sweet giant bay window all to myself...
Unfortunately, the window was filthy, which made it impossible to take any photos of the beautiful world outside. My little camera kept trying to focus on the grime, adding even more blur to an already blurry shot. Even while the train was stopped, my photos turned out pretty bad, so I eventually gave up...
But the scenery was indeed beautiful, filled with snowy wonder and lots to look at...
The hotel I'm staying at in Göteborg is located directly above the main train station. It's very nice, surprisingly quiet, and has some freaky-ass graphics on the wall...
Don't mind me and my MASSIVELY HUGE BABY!!
An hour later, it was time to meet with another long-time blogging buddy, Göran from Six Feet Five! He was kind enough to make the three-hour journey from Stockholm so we could have dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. In the meanwhile, we wandered around the city a bit. The only thing I really wanted to see was the museum, because I had read it was quite good...
Unfortunately they were in the middle of redecorating the interior, so there wasn't much open to see except two small exhibits. This was a bummer, but at least we didn't have to pay (admission is free during the renovation). After a ten-minute tour we headed back through the city...
At the other end of town is the city's authorized Apple reseller, which I was surprised to see stocking AppleTV. Since the main purpose of this unit is to purchase or rent movies and shows from the iTunes Music Store, it's practically useless here because they don't have any video content to purchase or rent! I guess you can use it to watch your photos on television or play music, but it seems kind of pointless to shell out the money for just that.
Time for dinner.
The Hard Rock Cafe Gothenburg is a fairly basic property, but it does have the benefit of containing a nice assortment of memorabilia hanging on the walls. Like Oslo, it has a "virtual bowling alley" but, unlike Oslo, it also has a single gaming table for Vegas-style cards(!). Despite it being a Wednesday night, the place was quite busy for the dinner hour, and served up a good meal (even though they don't have milkshakes on the menu)...
And now, since I am falling asleep while typing this in bed, I'm getting some much-needed rest. The hotel doesn't have wireless, so I guess I'll plug-in to post it in the morning.
I'm lazy like that. But hey, I'm on vacation.
Oh... one last thing before I go... can somebody at Apple PLEASE do something to get better exposure from the iPhone's built-in camera? It was so bright I had to wear sunglasses, yet every photo I took was dark and murky as usual. Having photos that turn out at least somewhat like reality would be nice...
Posted on Thursday, March 27th, 2008
My brief time in Göteborg was at an end, so I said my goodbyes to Göran and made my way to Track 8 for the four hour journey back "home" to Oslo.
When you upgrade your Norwegian Rail train ticket to NSB Komfort Class, they give you tokens which can be used to get a complimentary cup of coffee or tea for the journey. Lucky for me, they also had hot chocolate.
Which comes out of the vending machine SO much hotter than the word "hot" can express.
I mean, seriously... unless you are craving a mouth-full of seared flesh, what is the point of serving a beverage at scalding temperature? It's like when people order a drink at Starbucks and ask for it to be "Extra Hot." What the hell for? Are you going to kill somebody with it? Melt a hole through a steel girder? Boil pasta? Because it's certainly not suitable for drinking...
While in Sweden, I highly recommend picking up a Plopp candy bar. I first bought one just because the name sounds funny. Where I come from, "plop" is another word for "crap" (as in "cow plop") and I was intrigued. Now I buy them because they are sublimely delicious. It's chocolate filled with caramel, but they've infused it with toffee flavoring for a mind-blowing treat that tastes nothing like crap.
And speaking of treats... arriving back at Oslo, I immediately headed to the nearest kiosk so I could pick up a bag of crack...
Actually, I think crack would be less addictive than Smash!, but I'd have to give crack a try to be sure. All I do know is that Karla has reached new levels of all-consuming evil to afflict me with this new candy dependency. As if Mars Delight wasn't addiction enough for one man to bear.
And speaking of crack... my old room was as small as a closet, which led me to complain about not having enough space to have a hooker over. Apparently the hotel reads my blog and felt sorry for me, because my new room is at least four times larger. Not only could I fit in a hooker now, but there's room left over for a full breakfast buffet complete with omelette station...
A pity I'm nearly out of money and can't afford a crack-whore. What I really need to find is a Smash! candy-whore. Heaven only knows I'd be willing to trade sexual favors for a bag.
And, lastly, I present Goodbye Sweden: a photographic series in five parts by
Sometimes you look out your window and it feels good to be alive...
Posted on Friday, March 28th, 2008
I had saved the two important outdoor activities I wanted to do in the hopes that the weather would improve. Which, of course, it did... while I was in Göteborg. The minute I get back to Oslo, the weather goes grey and snowy again. I'm lucky that way.
I started my day taking the T-Bahn up to the surrounding hills so I could visit the Holmenkollen ski jump. This is a famous landmark for Oslo, having been originally built in 1939, then used for the Olympic Games in 1952. It's going to be demolished any day now so they can build a new and improved jump tower for the 2011 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. I guess this means I'm lucky to see a piece of history before it's gone...
In order to go up the jump tower, you have to buy a ticket to the Holmerkollen Ski Museum (which happens to be the oldest ski museum in the world). Inside you'll find all kinds of interesting stuff about the jump tower, along with a repository of ski equipment throughout the ages. Once you work your way through it all, you find a small elevator which takes you almost to the top. The last remaining bit requires you climb stairs...
This is not so easy for somebody with a fear of heights, but I eventually made it to the top for some really sweet views of Oslo...
That part isn't so bad. It's when you look down the ski jump that your testicles retreat into your body cavity. I honestly don't know how ski jumpers do it...
I tried to get a photo that can illustrate just how frickin' steep the run is, but I failed miserably. As steep as it looks in this photo, it's far worse in real life...
After I stopped squealing like a little girl and made my way back down the tower, I headed off to Vigeland Sculpture Park. Or, as I like to call it, PERVY STATUE PARK! Sure it looks innocent enough as you go in. There's this beautiful metal gate towering over the entrance...
But the minutes you pass through, you enter another world entirely...
Now, from an artistic standpoint, the sculptures are absolutely amazing. It's not easy to form the human body into natural poses, let alone manipulate them so that they intertwine so beautifully. Some of the pieces are astounding in the way they capture the fluidity of the human body.
But that doesn't change the fact that some of them are downright pervy.
After the park I wandered around the city one last time. Along the way I visited The Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, which was very cool. They find art in everything from furniture and dishware to appliances and toothbrushes. I also by the Hard Rock Cafe so I could pick up a T-shirt and a few pins...
The building kind of reminds me of the Nottingham Hard Rock, which has sadly closed. Inside, it's a fairly nice property with a good assortment of memorabilia and some nifty touches I've not seen at other Hard Rocks.
Once I was done playing tourist, it was time to head to Karla and Rich's house for some of Karla's orgasm-inducing homemade guacamole and veggie quesadillas. She was kind enough not only to invite me over for dinner, but also took me to a pub so I could meet her friends and drink scary Norwegian beer. I can't think of a better way to spend my last night in Oslo, so thanks Karla!
Time to pack my suitcase and prepare for the long journey home.
Posted on Saturday, March 29th, 2008
Back in Seattle safe and sound and kind of missing Norway already.
I'd blog about it, but I really like my viking DaveToon, so I'm just going to post that instead...
Posted on Sunday, March 30th, 2008
Where did my vacation go? A week is much too short.
I need another vacation.
• Radio. Assuming I make it back home over the mountain passes in one piece, I will be a guest host on Hilly's Snackie Radio tonight at 3:00pm (Pacific), 6:00pm (Eastern). I guess that would be midnight Oslo time, which is where my head is still at, so hopefully I won't fall asleep on the air...
• Poverty. I took a quick look at my credit card statement online. As hideously expensive as I thought the trip was, it actually ended up being much worse. Bring on the peanut butter sandwiches for a month! Eh, but it was a treat for my birthday and I had fun, so what can you do?
• Flight. Have I mentioned how much sweet it is to have a media entertainment center for those long-ass flights? Well it is. The time just flies (heh heh) by when you've got something to do. I watched Elizabeth: The Golden Age (excellent, with an amazing performance by Cate Blanchett), Michael Clayton (okay, but a little Erin Brockovich to me), Eastern Promises (good, though a little inappropriate to be watching in mixed company with the nudity and violence), Enter The Dragon (awesome! haven't seen it in a decade), Bee Movie (suck-ass BORING, I fast-forwarded through it), and and episode of The Office (always good).
• Customs. When you come back from an international trip, you have to claim your luggage for possible inspection whether you are continuing on a connecting flight or not. This doesn't really bother me, but the third degree you get from the customs officers while you wait for your luggage does. I was interviewed twice. The second time was no big deal, but the first time was ridiculous. Not only did he want to know stuff that was none of his fucking business (what does my work matter when I just told you I was traveling on vacation?), but I didn't get the impression he was even listening to my answers. Some questions were duplicates, and others were asked as I was still speaking. I fail to see the point. Do they expect that random questioning is going to cause somebody to slip up and admit they're hauling contraband?
How long were you out of the country? Six days.
Why were you in Norway? On vacation to visit a friend.
Why did you go Sweden then? To visit another fr--
What do you do for work? I'm a graphic desi--
How long were you out of the country? Since Sunday... isn't that six da--
Are you bringing back any food items? Just some candies.
And why were you in Norway? Vaca--
Bringing back any agricultural products? Just some marijuana I picked up in Amsterdam.
AH HAAAAAHHH! D'oh!
• Parking. Usually, I just park at the airport because it's really convenient to have your car waiting for you when you get back. But I found a coupon for "MasterPark" so I gave it a try. It's cheaper than the airport, they valet park your car, their shuttles run constantly, and if you call ahead they'll have your car waiting for you when the shuttle arrives. Sweet! Except I went over my one week coupon rate by 5 hours and had to pay an entire extra day for the overage. That kind of sucks, but I don't know that I can give up this kind of pampering now that I've experienced it.
Well, it's 8:00am... I suppose I should get out of bed and try to get my life back to normal. It's always rough trying to adjust to reality after vacation... even if it was only a week.
Posted on Monday, March 31st, 2008
Hmmm... I almost forgot that I have to be in Salt Lake City this weekend. I was able to change my plans to fly out Saturday instead of Sunday so I can have dinner with fellow blogger (and frequent Blogography commenter) ChillyWilly that night. If anybody in the area wants to join us, we'll probably eat at The Gateway or nearby restaurant around 5:30-6:00. My address is in the sidebar over there, so send me an email for details if you're interested.
For some reason I am having a really hard time readjusting to life after vacation. It's not that I'm unproductive or can't get back to Real Life... on the contrary, I'm tearing through my work like I'm on fire. It's just that I've got this strange displaced feeling I cannot shake. It's like I'm still on vacation and not really back home at all... any minutes now I'm expecting to wake up from this bizarre dream...
What I really need is a nice bitch-slapping to snap me out of this.
Or a billion dollars.
Because with a billion dollars I would never stop being on vacation, so there would never be a need to come back to reality.
Personal checks accepted.
Posted on Sunday, April 6th, 2008
It's Bullet Sunday from lovely Salt Lake City, Utah!
Where I may very well be spending the entire day in bed.
• Skittles! OMG! WHY DID NOBODY TELL ME THAT THEY NOW MAKE CHOCOLATE-MIX SKITTLES?? Each bag-full has five yummy flavors: S'mores, Chocolate Caramel, Vanilla, Brownie Batter, and... wait for it... CHOCOLATE PUDDING, BITCHES!! Just look at my most excellent breakfast this morning...
• Stones! But my happiness at discovering Chocolate Mix Skittles is seriously dampened by the constant mind-blowing pain of a kidney stone that has long since worn out its welcome. Unless doped up on drugs all day long, my entire groin aches as if I'm being kicked in the balls every two seconds...
I am so ready for this to be over.
• Galactica! I was too drugged to watch the season premiere of Battlestar Galactica on Friday, so I've got it at home sitting on my TiVo. But I really wanted to watch it last night. First I tried every legal option available to me. iTunes Music Store? Not sold there. Streaming from the official site? Yes, but Sci-Fi Channel's streaming sucks ass by stalling every 10 seconds. BitTorrent it is then! This is really f#@%ing stupid on Sci-Fi Channel's part. Had they been selling their shows on iTunes, they would have got a double purchase from me... once so I could watch it now, and again when the DVD is released (just as I've bought all the other Battlestar Galactica DVDs). Why is it these dumb-f#@% networks STILL don't understand how to distribute their shit? They'd rather bitch and moan about how internet piracy is killing their profits WHEN THEY'RE THE DUMBASSES WHO CAUSE THE PIRACY IN THE FIRST PLACE!! Cry me a river, bitches. It's really a shame too, because this show is amazing. The space battles are about the best I've ever seen.
• Chilly! Long-time Blogography commenter and fellow blogger from Banal Leakage, Marty (better known here as ChillyWilly) was kind enough to bring along his fiance and join me for dinner at the Salt Lake City landmark: The Rio Grande Cafe. Since I was whacked out on pain-killers, who knows if I was coherent for the evening... but that's probably true whether I am drugged-up or not...
• Skank! On my way walking to dinner last night, a car full of girls at a stop light started screaming obscenities my way, saying things like "SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TEACH YOU TO FUCK LIKE A MAN!" I should have ignored them but, because this is me we're talking about, I screamed back "AND SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TEACH YOU TO DOUCHE YOU FILTHY WHORE!!" I didn't think anything of it until the three of us were walking back from The Gateway after dinner when another car of girls pulled up and started screaming crap like "YOU'RE THE KIND OF MAN I'M LOOKING FOR!" What the hell? But then it was explained to me that they were not yelling at me... they were yelling at the Mormons walking next to us. Remembering back, I realized that I probably wasn't the intended "victim" the first time either, because there was a group of Mormons walking behind me then (there's a huge convention for the Latter Day Saints Church here in town, so they're everywhere). Seriously, WTF?!? Dumbass ugly bitches in this city drive around screaming crap at Mormons to feel better about themselves? It wouldn't have been any less stupid had they been hot, but these were so not hot-looking babes. They were skanky trolls hanging out with other skanky trolls so they could make fun of clean-cut Mormon guys who are too decent and kind to fight back. I suppose for these ugly-ass skanks, it's the closest thing to being in a relationship with a man that they're going to get without a crack-pipe being involved. Is there anything more ironic and sad?
• Founded! Okay, I can't let this go... Salt Lake City was BUILT by Mormons. They MADE this place. This is THEIR city. The came here to make a home of their own after being persecuted everywhere else for their religious beliefs (go America!). You'd think that the butt-ugly bitches that drive around harassing Mormon guys would show a little fucking respect. You may not care for their religion, but is that any reason to treat them like crap in a city their people founded to get away from exactly this type of bullshit? Instead of tormenting guys who are just trying to live their lives in peace, why not go build your own city... a city where toxic ugly bitches can go be miserable without bugging the shit out of the rest of us. I wish society would fucking grow up and learn tolerance, because this stupid shit really sets me on edge.
• Beauty! And now, because I refuse to close out this entry with such ugliness, some photos I took on my trip yesterday...
While I was eating my Qdoba Breakfast Burrito, I looked out the giant glass windows of the Sea-Tac Airport food court and was stunned to see that a shaft of light was cutting through the horizon, illuminating the mountains in a way that made them look as if they were floating. I threw down my food and hauled ass towards the windows so I could capture the moment, but none of the pictures came close to reproducing the staggering sight. Perhaps if you use your imagination, you can kind of see what I'm talking about here...
But not really. Oh well. It was truly jaw-dropping, and by the time I gave up trying to photography it, a bunch of people had crowded around the windows to take a look.
I've published so many from-the-air shots here, but I really liked the way this one turned out as I was flying over southern Idaho...
And, lastly, here's The Great Salt Lake as I descended into SLC...
Breakfast has me feeling much better, so I think it might be time to get out of bed and go get some soup! I swear, some of the best soups on earth are to be found in Salt Lake City...
Posted on Monday, April 7th, 2008
My entire day was spent sick in bed. What have I got to blog about?
The only thing that could make me more miserable than I already am would be to get up in the morning and have to take three flights home so I can get back to work.
Posted on Tuesday, April 8th, 2008
The trip home was a thrill.*
I kept hoping that perhaps the turbulence and vibrations from my three flights would shake something loose...
Alas, no stone fell out. The little bastard is still stuck up my urinary system somewhere.
Sigh. Maybe tomorrow.
* And by "a thrill" I mean "unbelievably painful."
Posted on Wednesday, April 30th, 2008
Q: What's worse than having to spend 5 hours in a plane full of dicks?
A: Spending 5 hours on a plane full of dicks with an airline that serves TUNA FISH SNACK BOXES.
Seriously. I love Alaska Airlines and all that... they are easily one of my favorite companies to fly with.
BUT HOW F#@%ING STUPID IS IT THAT THEY SERVE STINKY TUNA FISH IN AN ENCLOSED SPACE LIKE AN AIRPLANE?!?
And, as if that weren't enough of a crimp on my day, I found out this morning that the post office is changing postal rates on May 12th. So now I have to get all that figured out before I can open the Artificial Duck Co. Store for pre-orders.
This is shaping up to be a heck of a week.
Posted on Thursday, May 1st, 2008
When the alarm clock went off at 4:30am, I was genuinely puzzled, because I didn't set the alarm. After managing to turn the stupid thing off, I noticed a strange itch starting inside the right-side of my tongue. Kind of like a mosquito bite, but without the mosquito. Thinking I must have bit my tongue in the middle of the night, I ignored it the best I could and fell back asleep.
So imagine my surprise when I woke up a few hours later to discover that the right-side of my tongue had swollen severely, and nearly filled my mouth. It had grown to about an inch thick for no apparent reason, but somehow didn't affect my breathing. It wasn't painful, but it was very, very uncomfortable.
Consulting Google searches, I eventually figured out this was most likely something called "Angiodema" which may be caused by an allergic reaction, or stress. Apparently there's nothing you can really do for it except take an anti-histamine until the swelling goes down. I decided to ignore it, thinking that stressing about it would only make things worse.
Fortunately, as the day wore on, my tongue started shrinking back to normal and is doing just fine now. Hopefully it stays that way.
After making our way from Newark Liberty Airport into the city, we checked into our hotel and then headed down the street to Rockefeller Plaza...
From there it was a quick subway ride shouth for a totally brilliant showing of Murakami artwork at The Brooklyn Museum. I am a huge, huge fan of Murakami, and his art has inspired a lot of things in the DaveToons I draw. Like this Murakami tribute I made using his happy flowers...
You couldn't take photos in the exhibit, but there were some cool pieces outside in the lobby...
After the museum, we headed to the Upper-West Side to check out the Museum of Natural History and the Space Museum...
But the real highlight here is the dinosaurs... like this totally evil "Ann Coulter Fish," which I named because of the uncanny resemblance to the stupid bitch...
Of course the have real dinosaurs too, but they aren't quite as scary as the AnnCoulterFish...
And, naturally, we had to pay homage to the Holy Land and visit the beautiful Apple Store Cube after walking through Central Park...
Back in Times Square, we noticed that Avitable must have enjoyed his pedicure immensely, because has apparently opened up a spa here in New York. It's nice to know that guys can finally have a place of their own to go be all pretty...
And Naked Cowboy was, of course, there to sing along...
When the dinner hour came, we headed to a restaurant where we were trying to decide if we wanted to eat there or not. But as soon as I saw this...
I was 100% sold on us eating there. Because of this...
Yes... OMFG... ELIZABETH HURLEY ATE THERE!! Sweet! I could totally feel her presence!
All-in-all it was a pretty busy day.
I guess we'll see what excitement tomorrow brings.
Posted on Friday, May 2nd, 2008
IRON MAN, BITCHES!!!
There was no real plan today. About the only thing any of us knew was that we were going to see Iron Man at 4:00. Everything else was just a matter of narrowing down the million options for things to do in New York City and picking something. Which is a heck of a lot more difficult than you'd think.
Down the street from our hotel is the beautiful Grand Central Station, so we stopped by for a quick look...
Eventually it was decided that the main goal for the day was to go up the Empire State Building for an aerial view of Manhattan. Unfortunately, New York City has been under a perpetual fog blanket all morning, and visibility at the top was zero, so we decided to take a pass. Instead we headed downtown to see what progress was being made at the World Trade Center site. Along the way, we passed by Macy's, which was hosting an exhibit of Iron Man movie props in their exterior displays. There were little pieces littered from window to window like Tony Stark business cards, prototype armor boots, and the electro-magnet that keeps Tony's heart beating...
But the big prize was the Iron Man Mach-1 armor! Totally sweet!!
As if I didn't want to see the movie bad enough already!
The last time I was at WTC Ground Zero, there was still a lot of debris, but it's all gone now, and things are finally starting to take shape. It's no less emotional, however...
Unfortunately, it's really difficult to see anything. On the contrary, it's almost as if they were trying to obstruct your view of the site in every way possible. I have no idea what the reasoning is for this, but the only remotely viewable area is from a skybridge nearby...
Back to the Empire State Building, where the fog looked like like it might be clearing up, but the operator assured us there was still no visibility at the top. Time for a "B-Plan." We headed up to Central Park to wander through The Metropolitan Museum of Art for a while...
Totally awesome movie! I dare say it's the best super-hero comic book movie made since the original Superman and Superman II. As expected, Robert Downey Jr. was flawlessly brilliant in his portrayal of Tony Stark. It's hard to imagine how anybody else could have played the role, really. Plenty of action. Plenty of story. Totally faithful to the comic book source material. Can you really ask for anything else?
And now it's 11:30 and time to rest-up for tomorrows pilgrimage to Philadelphia.
I can't wait.
Posted on Saturday, May 3rd, 2008
It was just one night.
But the memories will last a lifetime.
Thanks to everybody for an awesome evening!
Until next year...
Posted on Sunday, May 4th, 2008
After skipping Bullet Sunday last week to announce the winners for Blogography's Kick-Ass Fifth Blogiversary Celebration, I'm back and fully loaded in Newark, New Jersey!
• Shop. My apologies for everybody who has been patiently waiting for the Artificial Duck Co. Store to re-open. TequilaCon kind of took priority after I found out that I would have to change all the shipping rates now that the post office is raising prices again. When I get back tomorrow night, I'll get to work on that and (finally) open the store for business. Hopefully you'll find it worth the wait.
• Edgeless. AT&T's "Edge" data network for my iPhone has always been crappy. It's painfully slow. Even worse, you can never tell if your connection has stalled, or is just running slower than usual. But this weekend AT&T reached new depths of f#@%ing shitty service in that there was NO Edge service in downtown Philadelphia all weekend. I can only guess that things keep getting worse because more and more people are buying iPhones and overloading the network, but I don't give a crap about that. I pay a chunk of money every month to have mobile internet access, and AT&T is failing to provide it. If things don't change soon, I smell a lawsuit (if there isn't one underway already). FAIL!!
• New Yorked. The problem with visiting New York City is that there is never enough time to do all the things you want to do. As I am getting ready to leave, I find myself wanting just one more day back in the city. Or a week. Possibly a month. Why oh why can't I have billions of dollars so problems like this weren't an issue?
• Tequila. Ah yes. TequilaCon 2008. It's practically impossible to sum up in a mere bullet point just how awesome an experience it was. Meeting so many bloggers for the first time was cool, of course... but what made this year such an epic success story was how great everybody was. So nice... so friendly... so much fun... such a terrific bunch of people... it was impossible not to feel as if you were amidst long-time friends. Which, of course, many of us already were (albeit virtually). And, by the end of the night, everybody became. I continue to be amazed at how every blogger event I've ever been to has been so fantastic. And TequilaCon 2008 is easily the top of the heap. A huge thank-you to Jenny for pulling it all together again this year. You are amazing...
Jenny celebrates TequilaCon Rockettes' style! We love you Jenny!
• Photogenic. Many of my photos have been uploaded to a set on my Flickr account (which you can find here). Jenny has also set-up a Flickr Group Pool where everybody can upload their photos (which you can find here). If you attended and have photos to share (be kind!), please contribute!
Blue Steel, baby! My brutally hot sexiness cannot be denied!
Dee Dee and I lend a helping-hand to TequilaCon co-founder Brandon!
It's Tequila Man! And, yes, we are all completely sober in this shot!
And now, it's time for bed. Where I am sure to be dreaming about TequilaCon 2009.
Posted on Monday, May 5th, 2008
What's better than arriving home exhausted and smelling like airplane?
Arriving home and having your internet fail just as you are writing up your latest blog entry! Sweet!
While waiting for Hilly and "The Sheraton Posse" to get back from the "Rocky Steps" the other day... Dustin, Vahid, and I decided to grab some lunch and wander through the Philadelphia Pride Street Fair that was going on a block from our hotel. One thing is for sure, the gays know how to throw down a party! Everybody was there...
Despite being straight and clueless as to much of what was going on, we had a good time. Probably because Dustin managed to find a gelateria that sold authentic Italian gelato! As I entered the shop I was hoping against hope they would have stracciatella, and they DID...
Crazy deliciousness ensued.
But all was not perfect.
Because heaven forbid that people should get together to hang out and have fun when there are haters out there determined to spoil everything. Bring on the anti-gay militia protesters...
BAD LETTER SPACING IS SIN, PROPER KERNING CAN SET YOU FREE!
By far my favorite protesters were the "ex-gays." People who were once gay, but then found Jesus and became straight. And there's nothing wrong with that. I think people should be whoever they want to be, and if somebody decides that homosexuality isn't right for them, then by all means turn in your rainbow flag and enjoy your new-found hetero lifestyle. But to say that your decision is the correct one, and everybody else should live exactly as you do isn't the least bit narcissistic...
Deep down, I'd say he misses the cock, and came here to boy-watch.
Now, to be fair, many of these protesters are not actually coming from a place of hate. They genuinely believe that they are showing love by trying to "save" sinners from eternal damnation. Their interpretation of The Bible tells them that homosexuality is a one-way ticket to hell, and they love the gays so much that they are willing to risk being ridiculed and despised to help them out. And that's fine... I can respect that. Everybody has to live according to their beliefs...
Apparently Matthew 7 is missing from his Bible.
But when you decide to protest INSIDE the street fair, I don't care what "place of love" you are coming from... that makes you a fucking asshole. You are disrupting the event and intruding on other people's happiness. If you simply must wave your little signs of condemnation, do it OUTSIDE the street fair. That way, you get your message across just fine (because everybody attending has to enter and exit) but without being complete douchebags...
Disrupting an event to feel better about yourself isn't prideful?
But my real problem here is that the protesters are just plain ignorant of the scripture they use to judge others, and I find it ironic that I know The Bible better than most of them do. I am not a Christian, but I have read The Bible in its entirety more than once, and have spent time studying it (both on my own and in study groups from no less than a half-dozen different churches). Just because I choose to base much of my belief system on Buddhist teachings does not automatically make me ignorant of Christianity, even though that's the conclusion most Conservative Christians seem happy to draw...
Boastful and abusive, she apparently skipped over 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
For example, take this one (ironically, the flip-side of the sign above)...
I reads The Bible real good... ask me!
I wonder if the rude bitch holding up this sign has any clue as to the meaning and history behind the scripture she is quoting. Given the context, it is fairly obvious that she is focusing on the word "effeminate" to mean "gay" and is pretty much telling all the hetero-challenged fornicators at the street fair that they are going to hell. Apparently the only "kingdom" the gays get is "The Magic Kingdom" in Walt Disney World.
Or is it?
Because "effeminate" as it pertains to this passage from The Bible has absolutely nothing to do with being some kind of "sissy-boy homosexual." I am fairly certain it is instead referring to an entirely different meaning of the word (weakness through over-refinement) and is talking about delicacy or weakness of faith and spirituality... not delicacy of manhood (which is kind of sexist when you think about it). I know this because I questioned the passage when I had first read it and decided to do some research. As anybody who has studied translations of ancient texts will confirm, you can't always take things at face value, so you pretty much have to do research. Now, obviously, somebody could take their personal belief that being gay is a weakness of faith and spirituality and deem this passage relevant to their cause, but that's another argument. An argument I wouldn't respect unless the person doing the arguing was well-studied on how The Bible has been changed during translation from Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic... and how it has been drastically altered and revised over the years to accommodate the whims of man... not God.
But something tells me that this would not be the people seen here. They haven't the decency or class to be respectful of others and protest outside the event... so I'm guessing they don't have the smarts to debate scripture with any kind of intelligence.
Still, I can't help but wonder how these douchebags would react if somebody decided to hold a protest in their church during services? After all, "...whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." —Matthew 7:120*
*For a very informative take on this "Golden Rule" take a look at this. Amazing how we are all so much more alike than we are different.
Posted on Saturday, May 17th, 2008
The flight to Seattle was horrific thanks to some crazy bitch behind me who decided to drench herself in really stanky perfume. By the end of the short 35-minute flight, the plane and everything in it (including me) reeked of the stuff.
By comparison, my connecting flight to Chicago was blissfully uneventful and odor-free... though I couldn't tell because I was still smelling the previous flight. Helpful hint to dumbasses who are going to board a plane: DO NOT WEAR ANY PERFUME, SCENTS, OR (GOD HELP US) AXE BODY SPRAY!!! Once they close the cabin door, your stench is going to be having everybody wanting you dead. Probably because the smell of your rotting carcass would help mask the nasty shit you're wearing.
Arriving at O'Hare was... ahem... interesting, and led to some drama I'd just as soon forget.
Good times. Good times.
I wish I didn't have to get up at 7:00am tomorrow. This was a very full day.
Posted on Monday, May 19th, 2008
As far as Mondays go, this one wasn't too bad. Though that's not to say there wasn't excitement. As anybody who follows my Twitter feed already knows, not only did I survive my Evil Driver trying to kill me... but I also fell in love with a girl on the train, found out that TinyURL can be used for diabolical purposes, and went broke because Howard compelled me to spend the last remainder of my bank account on music by The Weepies.
Being able to have access to the real internet at all times with iPhone has opened up entirely new opportunities for avoiding boredom while traveling or attending meetings. Not only can I update Twitter all day long, but I can also keep up with blogs quite easily (though, unfortunately, leaving comments with iPhone is a bit problematic... sorry about that).
I only wish that iPhone had a REAL GPS, because that would make my life of travel so much easier than their borderline-useless "faux-GPS" that's there now...
Okay, it's not that bad, but still... I've lost track of the number of times I've screamed "NO F#@%ING SHIT" at iPhone for providing me with a generic non-location that covers 50 city blocks. How is that useful? Sure it's better than nothing, because you can narrow it down from there, but it's a far cry from being able to see exactly where you are on a map at a moment's notice.
Remember the good old days when you had to actually carry a paper map around for stuff like this?
I love to hate you my iPhone.
Posted on Tuesday, May 20th, 2008
Why is it that technology is making life simpler in every area of creation except when it comes to setting an alarm clock??!?
It used to be that to set the alarm, you press and hold the ALARM button and adjust the hours and minutes until you have the time you want to wake up. Then you slide the OFF/RADIO/BUZZER switch to BUZZER and you're done. That's three out of four buttons and a slider switch until F#@%ING DONE!!!
But not any more.
The alarm clock at my hotel has TWENTY-ONE F#@%ING BUTTONS PLUS A SLIDER SWITCH (for Mega Bass)...
To set your alarm you have to go through FIVE STEPS, two of which you have to repeat, which means there's SEVEN F#@%ING STEPS to set an alarm! It's so absurdly complicated that they have to give you an instruction card to figure the shit out...
All the love I used to have for Sony products is gone. Because of this piece of shit alarm clock, I somehow didn't push enough buttons to set the alarm (even though the alarm indicator was lit?). So even though I got up at 4:30am and didn't need to be up until 6:00am, I was counting on the alarm to tell me what time I needed to stop working and get ready. But it didn't. Suddenly the extra time I had given myself to get ready and make it into the city for my meeting had evaporated because it was 6:45 by the time I looked over and noticed something was wrong.
Granted the stupid alarm clock has a CD player in it, but big f#@%ing deal... my iPhone has a MP3 player, clock, map, camera, calendar, calculator, notepad, web browser, and all kinds of other stuff in it... but has TWO BUTTONS!!
Half my kingdom for an Apple-designed alarm clock.
Work was at the delicious All-Candy Expo here in Chicago. I've bored everybody with accounts of all the cool stuff at the show in previous years, so I'll skip all that... but I did see two things that made me squeal like a little girl when I visited the PEZ booth. As long-time readers already know, I love PEZ. LOVE THE PEZ!!!
So imagine my delight when I saw that they are coming out with STAR TREK PEZ!!!
As if that wasn't enough, I turned the corner and saw one of the most amazing things ever... CHOCOLATE PEZ!!!
It's as if PEZ is starting to combine all the things I love best in life into a single product family. Next year I'm fully expecting that there will be an Elizabeth Hurley PEZ dispenser waiting for me.
After working the show for a bit, I was free for the day. Just two goals remained...
TWO... Make up for the shitty experience of watching the horrific movie tragedy known as Speed Racer by going and seeing Iron Man yet again. Which I did, at the magnificent Muvico 18 Theater in Rosemont...
I paid for "VIP Premiere Seating" which puts you in the balcony in a huge comfy seat that's reserved for adults only, so you can take a beer into the theater with you! According to Wikipedia, the Muvico 18 Rosemont is the first theater in the country to have Sony SRX 4K digital cinema projectors in all auditoriums, which means the picture quality and sound were frakin' amazing.
This is my third time watching Iron Man, and I can honestly say that I love it more with each new viewing. I'll probably see it two or three more times before it leaves theaters. I just can't help myself. Robert Downey Jr.'s performance is so sublimely awesome in every way... from his impeccable comedic timing to his note-perfect delivery... that I am positively mesmerized by the character of Tony Stark. The fact that the movie RESPECTS THE F#@%ING SOURCE MATERIAL AT EVERY TURN is just icing on the cake. A big thank you to director Jon Favreau for having the intelligence to understand that there's a f#@%ing REASON that iconic comic book characters have endured for so long, and it is insanely arrogant and stupid to reinvent the wheel when you've already got something that works and people want to see.
And what I really need to see right now is a pillow, because I have to be to the airport in 5 hours.
Posted on Wednesday, May 21st, 2008
To the hundreds of people who asked me why I didn't set my iPhone alarm instead of using the crappy hotel alarm clock in my last entry... I did set my iPhone alarm clock. I always, always have a backup alarm when I'm traveling, because the consequences of missing a meeting or a flight are too dire to contemplate.
But I woke up early. There was no danger of over-sleeping. So I canceled my iPhone alarm and put it in my coat pocket so I wouldn't forget it. I then verified that the alarm clock was set, and went to work reviewing a massive stack of documentation and sketching out some concept roughs. Except the alarm never went off.
Oh well. It all worked out in the end.
As for today? My flights back home were completely uneventful.
Which is a good thing.
Though now I have nothing to blog about except how tired I am.
Perhaps next time I'll get lucky and my plane will have to make an emergency landing or something.
Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2008
I spent half the day trying to figure out my schedule for the next four months and didn't get very far.
It's depressing how quickly the days fill up.
But it's not all bad news. The best thing about all the travel I do is getting to meet up with Blogography readers and fellow bloggers along the way...
If anybody wants to join in, I'll confirm dates about three weeks ahead of time. Watch this space!
In addition to all that, I am planning on showing up at Avitable's Halloween party on November 1st, and have five other trips that are squeezed in-between the ones listed above.
I'm tired just thinking about it all.
But definitely looking forward to meeting new friends and re-connecting with old ones!
Posted on Saturday, May 24th, 2008
Maybe it's the three-day weekend, but motivating myself into getting anything done has been a real challenge. I don't feel like doing anything. I don't feel like eating anything. And I certainly don't feel like blogging about anything. All I really want to do is climb into bed and go to sleep.
But here I am.
After my entry yesterday, somebody had asked why I didn't make travel posters for all the meet-ups I've been to. I didn't have a good excuse so, in-between work stuff, I went back and created the remaining graphics. You can see all of them on the Dave Events page...
That's enough blogging for today, isn't it?
But before I go...
Sunday at 2:00pm Pacific (5:00pm Eastern) I will be appearing on Secondhand Radio with the KING OF ALL ONLINE MEDIA, Karl from Secondhand Tryptophan!
Heaven only knows what Karl has in store for me, but he's a darn fine talk host, so it's sure to be interesting! If you want to join the online chat while the show is running, head on over to BlogTalk Radio and sign up for a FREE account!
I want Reese's Peanut Butter Cups for dinner.
Which is a perfectly healthy dinner if you eat them with a glass of milk.
Posted on Thursday, June 5th, 2008
I've been so overwhelmed lately that I'm having a hard time trying to figure out exactly what things I should be focusing on. As a result, I keep shifting from one task to another, getting a lot done... but not getting anything finished. One particular task has been dragging out all week, which is making travel arrangements for my upcoming trips. Each day I've been taking a few minutes to shop for airfare. This has been an almost heartbreaking endeavor, because all the prices are outrageously high. On average, I'm finding fares DOUBLE what they were just a year ago. As more airlines go bankrupt and the survivors keep cutting flights, I can only guess things are going to get much, much worse.
But today was the day I promised myself I would at least get June and August booked, so I've spent my evening trying to do just that.
I am blowing through my travel budget at record speed, and I haven't even booked my hotels and rental cars yet.
And what about my trips for the rest of the year?
If the prices keep going up, what will a flight cost come November and December?
And so... I've started maxing out my credit card to book all my trips where I'm confident the dates won't change. In the past four hours I've spent close to $4000, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. I shudder to think what the damage will be by the time I'm finished. And that's just the trips I know... there are at least a half-dozen that I'm going to have to take, but don't yet have dates. Heaven only knows what the fare will be by the time I get that figured out. I just hope none of the airlines I'm booking with will go bankrupt before my flight. What happens then?
For somebody who has to travel a lot, this is pretty much a nightmare come true.
And what new horrors will tomorrow bring?
Posted on Friday, June 6th, 2008
I'm sitting here watching the movie White Chicks on television because there's nothing better on. If you need a sign that The Apocalypse is upon us, this is it.
When do we get a sequel where two white actors play Black Chicks?
Yesterday I asked "what new horrors will tomorrow bring?"
It was meant to be rhetorical, but The Universe decided to answer back "All your travel plans are ruined."
This morning I found out that Horizon Air has replaced the small 36-seater turbo-prop service with larger 72-seater service out of my local airport at Wenatchee's Pangborn Field. Ordinarily, this would be a good thing... sometimes those flights are oversold and hard to book... but they changed the schedule too.
This is a major problem for me, because the 6:00am flight I usually take to connect with all the early east-coast routes is gone. The earliest plane out of Wenatchee is now 7:10am, which doesn't connect well with much of anything heading eastward. So now instead of arriving in time for dinner, I'm arriving in time for bed.
If I'm lucky.
As I found out while I was changing all my flights this morning, any time I fly east I'm going to end up overnighting in Seattle or taking a lot of overnight flights from now on.
Though I guess it beats stopping service to Wenatchee altogether.
If ever there was a time for DaveAir, this would be it...
Though I can't imagine that the airline industry is a business anybody really wants to be in now-a-days.
Posted on Monday, June 16th, 2008
Well, this is it. The last day before five months of non-stop adventure, fun, and excitement.
Sixteen flights. Eight car trips. Six train ride. Five rental cars. Heaven only knows how many hotels, shuttles, taxis, and subways.
That I know of.Some of my trips are open-ended to include the possibility of adding even more madness to my schedule. I am going to be one busy monkey...
I've done my best to organize my time and make sure everything is taken care of, but mentally there's just no way to prepare for what lies ahead.
Which is not to say that I'm not excited about some things that are coming up...
This Saturday is Daveattle 2!
If you are planning on attending Seattle's premiere blogger meet-up this year, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can forward the details.
And now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to pack my suitcase...
Posted on Tuesday, June 17th, 2008
Working out of the office is killer for me because the work back home doesn't stop. This means I am essentially working two jobs, both of which are exhausting... mentally and physically.
After two hours of driving over the mountains plus an additional hour of sitting in traffic hell once I reached Issaquah on I-90, I realized that I had left my MacBook Pro power adapter at home. Lovely. Ordinarily, this wouldn't be a big deal, because I could go to the local Apple Store and get a new one. But Seattle doesn't have an Apple Store. You either have to go to Tukwila, Lynwood, Bellevue, or the University of Washington. Since University Village is closest, I lured a co-worker with the promise of dinner and headed north.
Buying a new power adapter was as quick and painless as you'd expect from an Apple Store. No surprise there, because the shopping experience at all Apple Stores is flawless. I was in and out in five minutes.
We then decided to eat dinner across the parking lot at Johnny Rockets. I love their veggie burger, so it was an easy choice.
Unfortunately, they had run out of veggie burger patties.
ATTENTION JOHNNY ROCKETS MANAGERS!!! THERE IS NO FUCKING EXCUSE FOR RUNNING OUT OF VEGGIE BURGERS AT YOUR RESTAURANTS. NONE! THE VEGGIE PATTIES ARE FROZEN!!! THIS MEANS THEY DON'T LOSE FRESHNESS OR SPOIL, SO YOU CAN ORDER A COUPLE EXTRA CASES AND PUT THEM IN YOUR FREEZER. THAT WAY YOU WON'T PISS OFF VEGETARIANS BECAUSE THE ONLY BURGER THEY CAN EAT IS OUT OF STOCK. OH, AND ONE MORE THING... WHY NOT TRY KEEPING TRACK OF YOUR INVENTORY SO STUPID-ASS SHIT LIKE THIS DOESN'T HAPPEN? THAT MIGHT WORK TOO. —KTHXBAI
I mean, come on... does maintaining stock of a frozen item really equate to rocket science here?
Hmmm... I suppose that I should put away my computer so I can get a few hours sleep before I have to do this all over again tomorrow.
This would be a lot easier if my neighbors here at the hotel would put their squealing kids to bed. Since it's after 11:00pm now, I don't think that's asking too much.
Posted on Friday, July 11th, 2008
After an exhausting week of work in Seattle, I'm home.
For a couple days, anyway.
Soon I'll be off to Georgia for more work, culminating in Davelanta 2 next Saturday. I was supposed to fly out Wednesday, but (surprise!) my airline schedule was changed (again!), so now I have to fly out Tuesday for an overnight layover at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (fun!). Just when I think travel can't get any worse, somehow it does.
In the meanwhile, I've got a lot of catching up to do.
Those Pop-Tarts I bought aren't going to eat themselves.
"The Dave-Devil went down to Georgia, he was looking for friends and a meal.
He was in a bind 'cos he hadn't dined, and he was needing some pudding to steal."
If you're going to be in the city, let me know if you want to join us, and I'll get you the details.
And now for a handful of sleeping pills and (hopefully) some sleep...
Posted on Saturday, July 12th, 2008
This doesn't bother me one bit. I am perfectly capable of driving and talking on the phone at the same time, but many people aren't. Because of this, something had to be done, because people incapable of driving and talking at the same time are probably incapable of realizing they shouldn't do it. Naturally, I'm a little upset that I can't make calls on the road anymore, but it's a small price to pay if it's going to stop idiots from killing people. Besides, all I have to do is buy a hands-free adapter for my iPhone, and I'll be able to make calls again, so it's really not a big deal.
Yesterday as I was driving back home over the mountain pass, I got stuck behind a car going 10 miles per hour under the speed limit and driving erratically from time to time. This is typical of some idiots I've seen who have trouble talking on their mobile phone while driving, so I was understandably pissed that some dumbass was breaking a law that I have to follow.
Eventually, a passing lane appeared, and I noticed that the woman driving was not talking on her mobile phone.
She was eating.
And by "eating" I actually mean "dining" because it's not like she had a burger in her hand and was chomping away. The woman had a plate of food on top of her dashboard and was EATING WITH A FORK!! For all I know, she had a knife in her other hand and was driving with her knees.
All of which, apparently, is perfectly legal.
So where is the law to protect us from stupid bitches like this?!?
Posted on Wednesday, July 16th, 2008
After a relatively uneventful trip, here I am in rural Georgia!
The great thing about being here is that the people are so incredibly nice. I had dinner at a Taco Bell and felt like I had acquired a new family. I shopped at the Piggly Wiggly and found a new best friend. I checked into my hotel and it was like being a guest at somebody's home.*
Everywhere I go, people are wicked-friendly, like being sweet to total strangers is built into their DNA.
Work runs all hours of the day and night, which is a bummer, but I'm used to it.
Tonight at the "magic hour" I was blessed with a fantastic sight... a flawless sunset and moon rise at exact opposite horizons. You look one direction and there's the sun glowing blood-orange across a painted sky...
You look 180-degrees opposite, and there's the full moon glowing softly above the horizon...
After the sun has totally set, the back-roads I drive back and forth remind me of that old Atari 2600 video game, Night Driver. I totally sucked at that game, and crashed ten times a minute, but loved it anyway. Fortunately, I have better luck in a real car on real roads. Probably because I don't have bricks of crap being thrown at me every two seconds...
NOTE: In the real game you would never have a car, tree, and house showing at the same time...
that would cause your Atari 2600 graphics chip to explode and your console to melt.
Alrighty then... back to work. And maybe a can of Red Bull.
* If that somebody's home was filled with thirty people all running around screaming and yelling day and night while each smoked a pack of cigarettes every hour.
My "non-smoking" room is directly above a smoking room, which means that the smoke drifts up and makes my room smell like cigarettes and burning hair. As if that weren't bad enough, my room is at the end of a cull-de-sac where everybody who got a non-smoking rooms likes to hang out and blaze up, thus filling my room with more cigarette smoke. Add to that the running, yelling, screaming, and singing at 1:30am, and it's my best hotel experience ever!
I guess it's a good thing I'm working and won't get to sleep anyways.
Though I'm thinking I'll be needing a nicotine patch when I check out.
Posted on Thursday, July 17th, 2008
I had to change hotels.
Between the crazy bastards in neighboring rooms and the cigarette smoke that was pouring in non-stop, I didn't have much choice. I had been awake from 4:00am Pacific time Wednesday to 1:00pm Eastern time Thursday... 29 hours... and simply had to get some sleep. That was never going to happen at my first hotel, so I moved to a different one with a crowd that's a bit more reserved.
For the most part.
There are still people driving into the parking lot at 10:00pm with their country music blasting so loud that the windows are shaking... and a mother standing on the balcony screaming at her kids in the swimming pool... but now it's 11:00pm and everything is blissfully quiet (I can't even hear the forest of cicadas outside!).
But none of that is important right now.
What's important is how hot I don't look in glasses.
For comparison, let's start with a photo of me taken last week while I was iChatting with my friend Meagan as I got ready for work in the morning. You can break it down however you like but, damn, I am totally hot here...
Which is not to say I always look fantastically hot. Unlike Sizzle, I do take bad pictures, and have a tendency to look constipated half the time. Especially when Meagan snaps me in mid-sentence...
But whenever I put on a pair of glasses, my hotness evaporates. After 29 hours in contact lenses, I decided to give my eyes a rest, and was horrified when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror...
Not only do I look eerily un-hot, I give off kind of a sexual predator vibe.
At work today, I had to wear protective glasses, and didn't fare any better. I look like a homicidal maniac...
Most people look kind of hot-cool in sunglasses. I don't. I look kind of pervy-scary...
Last night I thought my glasses curse had finally been broken.
I went to the local SUPER WAL-MART to get a replacement charger for my iPhone (mine got busted in my suitcase) and saw a massive display for Hannah Montana school supplies that included a FREE pair of Hannah Montana 3-D glasses for the upcoming broadcast of her "Best of Both Worlds Tour" movie. Thinking I had finally found glasses that wouldn't destroy my hotness, I grabbed a pair...
Not bad. Not bad at all.
And I must say that the world is looking quite a bit better when seen through Hannah Montana glasses.
Which is why I wish I had them when I was on my way back from work today.
I was driving by a pasture where some cows were shading themselves under some trees. Thinking I could use a mental break, I decided to stop for a minute. You have a whole different appreciation for cows when you don't see them as food, and I find them to be gentle, soulful animals that are fun to be around.
But as I walked up to the fence, the cows were indifferent to me. One cow even turned away from me... kind of a bovine snub, if you will. I was okay with it because I was wearing my pervy-scary sunglasses and could hardly blame the cow for not wanting to look at me, but it didn't end there.
That's when the cow lifted its tail and proceeded to dump ten gallons of urine in my direction.
What a bitch!
I didn't get peed on, but it sure put a damper on my wanting to commune with nature today.
It also made me hungry for a steak for some reason.
Tomorrow I get to head back to the big city of Atlanta where, hopefully, I'll have better email access so I can get caught up on work back home. My new hotel doesn't allow you to send email (some kind of anti-spammer effort?) and webmail seems to be broken.
Unfortunately, my Hannah Montana glasses have been no help at all.
But I am looking 3-D hot, and that's something.
Posted on Friday, July 18th, 2008
Today while I was dining at some nameless chain restaurant, a fight broke out. Since I was eating a late lunch, there were only a couple other customers there to hear it. This is a shame because the battle which ensued was truly epic and deserved of a much larger audience. Apparently some guy had done some gal wrong, and she was not going to let him get away unscathed.
Attacks were vicious, covering everything from looks and personal hygiene to family and relationships. From what I could tell, the woman had not actually had sex with the guy she was screaming at, but that didn't stop her from laying down a laundry list of perceived sexual inadequacies she felt he should know about.
This was the last straw for the guy, who called her a whore and then provided her with a series sex acts she would gladly perform for the bargain price of $5.
One of the restaurant staff who was cowering on the sidelines with his co-workers took the opportunity to yell "YOU NEED TO TAKE THIS OUTSIDE NOW OR WE'RE CALLING THE POLICE!"
At which point the man and woman stopped fighting with each other and started yelling obscenities at the staff.
They then resumed fighting and left.
In the same car.
Which is kind of a shame, because I had $5 burning a hole in my pocket.
Posted on Saturday, July 19th, 2008
My day did not get off to a very good start.
Two kids prank-called me at 3:30am and tried again before I had my phone put on "do-not-disturb." They were staying here at the hotel, because nobody at the switchboard let a call through. Where the heck are their parents? Because this was my ONE SHOT at getting some decent sleep, and it was completely destroyed. Tomorrow I have to be up a an insane hour for my flight back home, so my only hope of catching up on my rest is if I can sleep on the plane (which is unlikely).
Things got a lot better once I met up with Beth (who makes all the awesome hats in the Artificial Duck Store) and Kevin. We ate lunch at the very cool (and delicious) "Savage Pizza" located at "Little Five Points." The quirky neighborhood is most famous for The Vortex, because it's got a very cool entrance...
From there we went to Atlanta's terrific High Museum...
They have a lot of incredible artwork there, but the main reason I wanted to go was to see "The Funeral of Atala," a very moving painting by Girodet that's based on a reinterpretation of "Romeo and Juliet" in Chateaubriand's popular 1801 novel, Atala. The image depicts Chactas, a Natchez Indian mourning and burying his love Atala after she commits suicide because she feared breaking the vow of chastity she made to her mother. It's an absolutely beautiful and powerful work of art...
There are many other interesting pieces, like these two which I have renamed "For The Win!" and "Purple Cow Dressed as a Lion Eating a Taco"...
After the museum, Beth and Kevin took me to an Atlanta institution... The Varisty (a massive drive-in restaurant)... so I could experience a delicious Frosted Orange drink. We sat in the "schoolhouse room" where everybody sits at those little desks they give you in elementary school. I had to steal this photo from Kevin, because my iPhone camera decided to stop working for some reason...
From there it was time for Davelanta at the Hard Rock Cafe Atlanta. Probably the most obscenely loud Hard Rock property I have ever been to. The music was way, way too loud, but we had a great time anyway. Here's me with Beth and Kevin...
Then Mentally Rehearsed showed up...
Then Coal Miner's Granddaughter...
And then Geeky Tai-Tai and Mr. Geeky Tai-Tai, Mike...
Despite nearly going deaf, we all had a great time, and decided to move across the street to a quieter venue so we could more easily talk.
And there was Key Lime Pie.
For what started out as kind of a crappy day, it sure ended well!
Posted on Thursday, July 24th, 2008
And here I am in beautiful San Diego for Comic-Con 2008!
Having been to various fan conventions in the past, I thought I was prepared for the big event. I was so wrong. This is a convention unlike any other, and it's unreal just how bizarre an experience it is.
There are a lot of other people writing about what's happening here... and taking better photos than I can... so I'll just skip a recap and jot down some random stuff...
Tomorrow I'll probably attend a few sessions and take a more thorough run through the exhibitor hall. There's just entirely too much crap there to see it all in one day. FTW!
Posted on Friday, July 25th, 2008
Yeah, everybody who had bets against me restraining myself from buying crap so totally won.
I could have lied and said I didn't buy anything, but Vahid photo-documented everything.
First I stopped at Chris Sanders' booth to pick up his sketchbook and Kiskaloo collection. If I could be anybody at ComicCon... it would be this guy. I first caught notice of his work when I was studying Disney animation (where he was an animator for films like Beauty and The Beast and co-creator of my all-time favorite Disney character, Stitch, from Lilo and Stitch). His last project, American Dog (which he was slated to direct at Disney), was stupidly taken away from him after the Pixar merger and is now called Bolt. This is a tragedy of epic proportions, because now we'll never know what brilliance he could have unleashed with that film. Now he's at Dreamworks, and I can't wait to see what they let him do. In the meanwhile, we get his sheer genius in comic book form...
Next I went to get Brandon Peterson to get his latest sketchbook. As I said yesterday, he's one of my favorite artists in comics, and I was thrilled to finally meet him as he autographed my copy...
I start to walk away with my autographed copy of "Life of Groo / Death of Groo" hardcover, and =BAM!= There's Scott Shaw! Yet another legend in the comics and animation business!
Then it was time to find Eric Shanower, who I've long idolized for his artistic style. I've collected most everything he's ever done, and his influence on my personal art is incalculable. I've met quite a few important and famous people over the course of my travels, but I can honestly say this was the first time I have ever been "star-struck." In talking with Eric, I think he was a little taken back about how much I knew of him and his career, but it made for a great conversation...
Lastly was another comic book great, Stan Sakai, who is the creator of another amazing book: Usagi Yojimbo. Though I have long been a fan of Japanese art and culture, Stan's fantastic historical references opened up a whole new world of interest in Japanese history, which I've long been grateful for. Cool bonus... he did a sketch in my book of Usagi himself...
Posted on Saturday, July 26th, 2008
I spent the morning at Comic-Con, which was even more insane than yesterday... something I would have never thought possible. The crowds were just obscene. Fortunately, I was concentrating on visiting original comic art vendors today, which was probably the least offensive (crowd-wise) of the entire show floor.
If only I had several thousand dollars burning a hole in my pocket, I could have actually afforded to buy something!
Yesterday I focused on all the positive and wonderful things about Comic-Con, this time I wanted to list some of my gripes about Comic-Con. For those who don't care about the show and are sick of reading about it, I've put it all in an extended entry.
But even better than drooling over amazing works of art all morning was attending Dave Diego this evening! Fun times were had by all, and it was great to finally meet some new faces behind the names from blogs I enjoy...
It was mother-daughter day, starting with Juli and SJ...
I was thrilled that Amandarin and Adam were able to make it, because she is here to actually work at Comic-Con...
But there's only so long you can hold out against Hilly, and Vahid was soon smitten...
Which was a good thing, because Hilly required assisted in getting decked out in Blogography Flair...
Cutest couple of the evening award went to Jester and Uncle Monkey Boy...
Also finally got to meet Othurme, along with new Jester Friends Daniel, Richard, and Paul...
Karl and Bret were also there... but they always seemed to be making out (TequilaCon-Speak for "out having a smoke") on those rare occasions I had my camera out, so I had to steal this photo from SJ...
After drinks, dinner, talk, and drinks, we called it a night so disrespectable people could get home at a respectable hour. We're classy like that.
Tomorrow I'm going to take in the last hours of Comic-Con 2008 and see if I can meet up with some friends while I'm in town. Not a bad way to spend a Bullet Sunday.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Sunday, July 27th, 2008
Bullet Sunday will be postponed until tomorrow when we have another edition of "Bullet Sunday on Monday."
As I type this, I am eating Pinkberry which, I've been told on more than one occasion, you either love or hate.
I don't really agree with that, because I don't have such strong feelings about frozen yogurt. Even Pinkberry. To me it's just "different" and I can take it or leave it. It's not like we're talking about chocolate pudding here. Besides, the stuff is just a knock-off of Red Mango, which I first had in Seoul, South Korea, years before the "sweet-tart fro-yo" fad hit the USA (though I understand that Red Mango shops are starting to pop up here now too).
Anyway, Pinkberry is kind of difficult for me, because it tastes better with fruit instead of chocolate toppings. This goes against everything I believe in when it comes to desserts, but oh well. I'm kind of enamored with strawberry and mango right now...
After changing hotels and having lunch with Vahid, it was time to bid him adieu so I could go back to Comic-Con for a while. The crowds, while still a little crazy, were much more manageable today. My main goal was to look through the magazine and silver-age comic tables to search for some issues I'm missing in my collection. I got away very cheap because, while I found just about everything I was looking for, I decided not to buy anything over $20, which left me only one thing to buy.
I came dangerously close to spending $2750.00 on a piece of original artwork that I really, really, wanted... but, alas, with the $20 Rule in effect, I had to take a pass. This was tough considering the original asking price was $3500.00 (and it was totally worth it).
I will now spend the rest of my life regretting my decision not to buy.
All while being secretly thankful I didn't.
Dinner tonight was with a friend over in Coronado, and totally excellent.
Except the bill, which was substantial.
I'm generally not the type of person who likes spending outrageous amounts of money at a restaurant, but sometimes it's nice to treat yourself to something extravagant. On rare occasions it's okay to live above your means. Every once in a while it's good to spend money you don't have on something that makes your life a little sweeter.
Shit. I totally should have bought that original art page, shouldn't I?
Posted on Wednesday, July 30th, 2008
Filled fifty-eight orders tonight. Given the sorry state of my back, I'm quite happy about that.
Speaking of my back, it didn't give me very much trouble today thanks to the healing power of hard drugs. The unfortunate side-effect being that I spent most of my time wandering around dazed and confused. Which is nothing new, of course. It's just that usually this state of being is preceded by several shots of Jagermeister.
It's the drugs I blame for my driving to Costco to get pudding cups and a bag of chips this afternoon... and somehow leaving with $160 worth of crap that will barely fit in my home. The good news is that I won't be running out of Tootsie Pops or Uncrustables Sandwiches any time soon.
In happier news, I've updated the Dave Events page to include Dave Diego and added those upcoming events I have dates for...
There are some other cities I'll be hitting in the upcoming months, but I don't have a finalized schedule to post anything just yet.
Time for sleeping pills and slumber's blissful embrace...
Posted on Sunday, August 3rd, 2008
I am totally exhausted this Bullet Sunday. Let's see how far I get...
• Ordered. I have finally... FINALLY... managed to get most all of the Artificial Duck Co. Store orders filled. The exception is orders that have "Ladies T Monkey Button" shirts in them, which were misplaced at the printer and are arriving on Tuesday or Wednesday. Of course, now I have to process a couple hundred orders for postage and make six or seven trips to the Post Office, but I will work hard over the next couple of days to get everything shipped out before I leave. Nobody will be happier than me to finally see everybody get their stuff! Given the long and difficult road I've been down, I am so very, very grateful for everybody's patience and understanding.
• Pounded. Just when you think that the US Dollar couldn't possibly be worth any less than it already is... you start planning a trip to London. The city has always been expensive... but now, thanks to the heinous exchange rate, even going on the cheap is unrealistic. I was planning on a six day, five-night trip to Blighty so I could meet with an artist there and hang out with friends (Davedon!), but once I got up to an estimated $3600 for all the expenses, I shat myself and decided to see if getting a new president will improve the dollar for a trip next year. I certainly hope so.
• Cents. Since traveling to Europe right now is insanely expensive, I thought I'd look into filling in those missing six states I've got going on...
Fly into Bismarck, North Dakota... drive down through Mount Rushmore... swing through Nebraska, Kansas, and the Oklahoma panhandle... then whip into Albuquerque, New Mexico... simple, right? The one-way rental would run me about $1100 (amazing how you don't get unlimited miles on a one-way rental!). Assuming that I get about 32 miles per gallon, fuel will run me about 42 gallons of gas @ $4.20 a gallon means an additional $180-$200 in gas. Adding in hotels and one-way airfare... and we're up to $2800?? Yikes. For that kind of money, I'd save up an additional $800 and take my London trip.
• MobileMaybe. Ever since resetting my iPhone so I could get the camera working again, syncing through Apple's pile-of-shit "MobileMe" service has failed. After trying absolutely everything, I reset my iPhone AGAIN and finally got it working. Of course, I ended up losing all the information that I had added to my iPhone, since there's no way of transferring notes, and syncing contacts was broken. Don't get me wrong... I love my iPhone and can't imagine life without it... but this is bullshit. To make matters worse, now we've got Windows users freaking out because iPhone syncing through MobileMe can erase all your Outlook Calendar data. Apple has already given everybody an extra month of MobileMe to compensate for how utterly shitty the service is... what happens now that it's still total crap? Another free month? Disaster. And I'm still not convinced it's working as it's supposed to, which is fine if the service was free... but $100 a year for this?
• Darker. I went to see The Dark Knight for the third time because I just can't help myself... and froze my ass off. Why do theaters feel the need to set the temperature to sub-zero? Cool would be fine... I like to keep cool when it's hot outside... but cold? It's miserable to try watching a movie while shivering the whole time. If it were that cold during winter time, they'd have the heaters on!.
And that's all for Bullet Sunday, because it's nearing midnight and I'm falling asleep...
AND OMG, I NEARLY FELL ASLEEP IN THESE EYE-RAPING CONTACT LENSES AGAIN!! Wouldn't that make for a great Monday. I will be so glad when my "real" lenses come in so I can be rid of these elements of torture.
Posted on Friday, August 8th, 2008
Uhhhh... yeah... eleven hours to get to Chicago. That's got to be some kind of record. I could have flown to frickin' Tokyo in less time. But that's the travel game now-a-days. To get a decent fare on anything but a simple round-trip, you're going to be shuffled around the country for a while. It sucks, but it is what it is. And, as if that wasn't enough, I just found out that I am not leaving on Sunday morning after all, but Monday instead. If I had known that, I would have stayed downtown instead of at the airport. But it's not like I can complain... I'll take an extra day in Chicago, no problem.
Meanwhile, back at my finger...
For anybody who cares, here's the story of what happened.
Thursday was massively busy because it was my last day home for a while. I had orders to get out. Work to finish. Clothes to wash. A suitcase to pack. And lots of little details to finish up. One of those details was printing, cutting, and laminating the lanyards for Davecago 3 and Dave Louis. The printing is done on my faithful Canon i960 printer. The cutting is done with a surgically-sharp X-ACTO blade.
You can see where this is going.
It was 11:30 at night and I was running on no sleep. I was a little disoriented because I was still getting used to my new glasses. Exhausted and unable to judge distance properly, I somehow managed to cut out all but two pages of badges. And then it happened. I was holding the ruler with my left hand and my middle finger slipped out past the edge. So when I pulled that impossibly sharp X-ACTO blade across it, I had sliced off the tip of my finger before I had even realized it.
Once the stab of pain hit, I looked down and saw a chunk of skin on my X-ACTO blade. But it was blood-free. Lucky me... I had just sliced the skin off!!
Or so I thought. Then I looked down at the ruler where my finger was and saw blood pouring out over the table.
And I do mean pouring.
As in gushing...
I ran to the bathroom to put a bandage on it. Which sounds easier than it actually is, because Band-Aid brand adhesive bandage strips are IMPOSSIBLE TO TEAR OPEN!! Especially one-handed. Meanwhile, my finger continues to gush blood into the sink. After finally opening the Band-Aid, I quickly find out that it won't stick to my mutilated finger. So I wrap it up in a wad of Kleenex and put pressure on it...
... then go back to finish cutting out the name badges.
Because I'm just that dedicated.
The Kleenex would get saturated after about 6 or 7 minutes, which means I'd have to stop and go replace it with a fresh wad of tissue. After five trips, I managed to finish cutting the last of the badges and get them laminated.
By then it was 1:00am and I'm deciding whether or not to go to the emergency room because the bleeding simply will not stop. Since I have to leave for the airport in four hours, I decided to try and get some sleep instead. So I wrap my finger in a massive ball of tissue, gauze, and Band-Aids... then tape a plastic bag around my hand and take a pain killer.
I manage to get a rough few hours of sleep until my alarm rings at 5:00. At which time I drag myself to the bathroom so I can unwrap the damage. Much to my surprise, the bleeding had stopped. Not wanting to disturb the clotting, I cut around it. I then squirt antibiotics on the mess and wrap it all up so I can head to the airport.
And now here I am in Chicago.
I finally managed to work up the courage to take a look at my finger and it's not as bad as I thought it would be. I've put photos in an extended entry so, if you're squeamish, you may want to skip the rest.
Now it's time to take some pills and get some sleep.
I hope.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Saturday, August 9th, 2008
So this morning I wake up and cut the bandage off my finger to see if I'm leaking. It hurt pretty bad in the middle of the night, so I thought I might have ripped it open or something.
Much to my surprise, it looked a lot better. It had shrunk a bit.
Thinking I might let it breath for a while, I left it un-bandaged and started into my morning work.
Then I packed up for Davecago 3 and hopped in the shower... completely forgetting that I had a wild-ass gash in my finger. By the time I realized it, my shower was over and I was shocked to see my gaping wound was disappearing! Here's a before and after...
I probably won't even get a cool scar to impress the ladies!
This pretty much confirms what I have suspected all along... I am a mutant.
All I need now is a costume and some accessories...
Now I'm off to play around in downtown Chicago... one of my most favorite places to be a mutant.
Posted on Monday, August 11th, 2008
When I woke up the next morning, I realized it was just the light on the smoke detector in my hotel room.
Now I'm in a different hotel entirely where the light this time is blue.
I'm guessing tonight I'll get a visit from the Blue Fairy and Pinocchio.
Posted on Friday, August 15th, 2008
Since today is Friday, it's a work day... even when I'm in St. Louis. But I did manage to get out a bit in the morning and afternoon to see some of the sights, so it's all good.
I've been to St. Louis exactly two times. Once to visit the Hard Rock Cafe on my "Hard Rock Run" road-trip in 2000 (which included Indianapolis, St. Louis, Memphis, Nashville, Gatlinburg, Myrtle Beach, Atlanta). And again for work in 2002. When I went to visit The Gateway Arch on my first trip, it was closed. On my second trip, I became violently ill, and couldn't even think of being trapped in an enclosed space.
So when Ajooja won the "Dave Event in Your City" Grand Prize for Blogiversary 5, I swore to myself that I would go up The Arch this time, even if I had to climb it on the outside. Fortunately, this wasn't necessary. When I got to park at 8:00 this morning, there was hardly a line at all, and I was the first person to the top when they opened the doors.
It was totally worth the wait...
The structure is sublimely beautiful, and photographs simply cannot do it justice. To the naked eye the steel exterior reflects the ambient light in a way that makes parts of The Arch seem to "disappear" into the skyline, giving it an almost ethereal quality.
To get to the top, you have to board one of eight tiny five-seater cylindrical elevator cars that are chained together and pulled upwards. Gina summed them up perfectly when she said they have a "2001: A Space Odyssey" feel to them. As you climb The Arch, a recording describes the system as "part elevator, part train, and part carnival ride." This sounded very interesting, but there is NOTHING detailing the elevator system in any book, brochure, or postcard I could find. When I asked the nice Park Rangers questions about how the cars worked, I got precious little information (and 9-11 thrown in my face as the reason why). Oh well. Still very, very cool...
For some reason I was expecting the top of the arch to be a tiny cramped room (like the Statue of Liberty, perhaps), but it was actually quite roomy...
I was blessed with beautiful weather (despite the crappy forecast I had looked up yesterday), so I had an excellent view of the city...
Here's a pano I stitched together. If you click on it, it will open a bigger view...
Once safely back down to earth, I headed across the street to "The Old Courthouse." This is a famous monument because of the infamous Dred Scott trial where slavery was upheld. The building is quite remarkable because of the beautiful dome interior...
As I was walking back to my hotel, I happened across "St. Louis Bread Company" which uses the exact same logo as my beloved Panera Bread. Closer inspection showed that they have the same exact menu as Panera as well. A quick look on Wikipedia on my iPhone told me that St. Louis Bread Co. was bought out by Panera, but they kept the original name in St. Louis (for obvious reasons). A delicious Mediterranean Sandwich made the perfect brunch-time meal...
After getting some work done, I decided to take the MetroLink to Union Station so I could visit the Hard Rock Cafe to see if anything had changed in the past eight years. The location was originally a massive train station, but they made a kind of shopping mall out of it with a lake in the middle...
Since I've been dying to see Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, I decided to catch a movie, but couldn't find it playing anywhere. So instead I went to see Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I wasn't a fan of the prequels, but love cartoons and thought the poster looked kind of badass cool...
Due to massive amounts of profanity and adult situations, I've decided to put my "review" in an extended entry.
As for me, I'm going to call it a night so I can attack the city fresh in the morning. There's a lot left to do, and only one day to do it all.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Saturday, August 16th, 2008
With a ride to the top of The Gateway Arch out of the way, there was a dozen other things left that I wanted to do in St. Louis.
Number one on the list was the Anheuser-Busch brewery tour. Not because I'm a huge fan of Budweiser, but because all the advertising says you get FREE BEER at the end of the tour! Since free beer almost never happens, this was something I just had to check out. I suspected there might be some kind of catch to the deal, but the only requirement is that you take the full one-hour tour. This wasn't nearly as boring as it sounds, and they do their best to keep things interesting, so it was all good...
Along the way you get to see a few of the world-famous Clydesdale horses. Anheuser-Busch is apparently the largest breeder of the animals world-wide, but they have strict requirements as to which of the horses are used to promote the company.
Our tour guide told us that in order to qualify, a horse had to be the right size (big), right color (dark chestnut brown), have the right features (four white legs), and have the right markings (a snow-white blaze on the forehead). He didn't say what happens to the horses that don't meet Budweiser's high standards, so I can only guess that they are put to death and ground up as dog food for their Dalmations...
After the tour, you get to visit their sampling room and have two glasses of free beer. Yes, FREE BEER!!...
It's what's for breakfast.
I actually ended up with three glasses, because a guy's wife decided she didn't want hers. Nothing quite like getting a beer buzz first thing in the morning. In certainly makes the day start out easier.
The St. Louis Cathedral (which is actually a basilica, elevated to such by Pope John Paul II) has the largest collection of glass mosaics in the world. Not wanting to pass up seeing something like that, I decided to pay a visit...
Sure enough, practically every available surface of this beautiful church is covered in mosaics. You could spend days looking at it all, but I didn't have that kind of time...
From there, I made my way to SLAM (the St. Louis Art Museum) in Forest Park...
The museum itself is very nice, containing a terrific permanent collection. Since they are in the process of remodeling and expanding some of the galleries were closed, but it's hard to complain about it when the admission is free.
Earlier in the day I had purchased a "Day Pass" for St. Louis Metro, which allows unlimited rides of trains and busses. I bought this specifically so I could ride the Forest Park Shuttle and hit the other attractions housed there. Except the shuttle wasn't running at SLAM because of the construction. So I walked down the road and waited at the first Metro stop I could find. But nobody ever came. This meant I had to walk all the way to my next destination in the scorching heat, which sucked major ass. In the half hour I spent making my way to the Missouri History Museum, I saw exactly one shuttle, and it was going the other way. How they can claim 15 minutes between stops I will never know. What I do know is that the Forest Park Shuttle is a piece of shit. If they gave a crap about their patrons at all, they would find a way to service SLAM and keep a better schedule.
By the time I finally got to the museum, all I wanted to do was take a nap. But it's got a number of good exhibits (including the Spirit of St. Louis!) so I soldiered onward...
Too tired and frustrated to see any other attractions in Forest Park because of the stupid shuttle (or lack thereof), I dropping by to see Gina getting her new tattoo, then took the train back to my hotel to get cleaned up for DAVE LOUIS!
Which I will talk about tomorrow. I have only three hours to try and get some sleep before I have to head to the airport for my obscenely early flight out...
Posted on Sunday, August 17th, 2008
Welcome to the Dave Louis edition of Bullet Sunday!
• Home Again. Yeah, I made it home safely. Though the frickin' 106° heat has me wondering why I didn't escape to Alaska while I had the chance. Isn't it about time for a Davebanks or Daveorage or Davelaska even? Of course, I don't know how many readers I have in Alaska... but even if it ended up being just me, that would be okay because the weather might be cooler. If not, there's always Davearctica.
• Dave Louis. Thanks to Ajooja's luck in the Blogiversary V Grand Prize drawing, there was a blogger meet in St. Louis last night...
In attendance was a terrific group of people that made me feel welcome in the city "Where There's More Than Meets The Arch."
• Blueberry Hill. The restaurant we met at, Blueberry Hill, is a St. Louis institution, famous for it's Blue Bar and eclectic interior design. What it should be famous for is its Red Beans & Rice, which I liked quite a lot. My only problem was that they didn't have any meatless toasted ravioli, which is one of my favorite things about St. Louis.
• Ted Drewes. After dinner, the consensus for dessert was to drive to Ted Drewes for frozen custard. I love frozen custard, so I thought it was a great idea. Though I wasn't quite prepared for what awaited me there. Apparently, this is a popular place...
Surprisingly, the crowds were not a problem at all. They had security in their lot to assist with parking, plenty of staff to keep the lines moving, and fill orders impossibly fast. As the popularity suggests, Ted Drewes frozen custard is pretty bad-ass amazing. I had a caramel sundae that was delicious...
Gina was kind enough to take a photo of me as I had just finished my third orgasm...
• Thank You. My most heart-felt thanks to everybody who made the trip to Dave Louis! The happiness at meeting my fellow bloggers and readers has become one of the major reasons I still write at Blogography every day.
And that's a wrap for another Bullet Sunday! Join me again next Sunday when I'll be back from another trip and celebrating the fact that I will get to stay home for a mind-boggling two-and-a-half weeks before traveling again! w00t!
Posted on Monday, August 18th, 2008
I've had exactly one week of vacation this year.
And, for the longest time, it seemed like that's all I was going to get. Because of the hideous cost of everything associated with travel, going on a personal vacation didn't make much sense. Can you really enjoy yourself if you're freaking out about how much everything costs all the time? Do you really want to drop a massive chunk of cash on something that could be used for less frivolous things? Like eating and paying rent?
So I decided to have a "staycation" and try to make the best of a vacation at home. Since I have to travel all the time, this came as kind of a relief. Not only would it save me some money, but the idea of not having to deal with airports, hotels, and all the other headaches would be a nice change of pace. Relaxing at home could be the best vacation of all.
Except that's a load of delusional crap.
I know full-well that if I were to stay home I would end up doing everything except relax. I'd work. I'd do chores. I'd run errands. I'd refinish my dining room table. There's positively no way I could relax and do nothing if I were at home.
So I bit the bullet and booked two weeks away from it all next month.
Because I know if I didn't, I would probably go crazy. Or, I guess I should say "more crazy," because all the non-stop work has pretty much put me there already. It may cost a fortune, but I need this so badly...
In other news, can I just say how much I admire Michael Phelps? Not because of his record-breaking eight gold medals in the Olympic Games, but because he has the courage to speak out about being bullied when he was growing up. He can be such an inspiration to kids who are relentlessly tortured every day just for being different, and I hope he continues to talk about it and raise awareness. I am in constant amazement at how cruel kids can be to each other, and if even one bullied child can see how Michael Phelps not only survived bullying... but excelled in spite of it... well, that may be the one thing they have to help them get through it. The alternative is just too horrible to contemplate.
Congratulations on your well-deserved success, Michael, I look forward to seeing what you do with it.
Posted on Wednesday, August 20th, 2008
More than once I've been asked by people what my most bizarre, craziest experience has been in all my years of traveling. My answer is always the same: shopping at an Ambercrombie & Fitch store.
I'm not trying to be funny either... every time I go into Abercrombie I am inundated with crazy, and find it a more bizarre experience than anything else I can think of. The walls are covered with mostly naked guys and gals, but the store sells clothing. The music is so loud that it is impossible to communicate with the staff, assuming you can find any staff (they don't wear name tags or a uniform, so it's hard to know who works there). The store is impeccably maintained and beautifully merchandised, but the bulk of the clothing they sell looks like rags. I could go on, but if you've shopped there, you already know what I'm talking about. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, Improv Anywhere did a massive prank at an Ambercrombie & Fitch store that you must see.
Anyway, after deciding to go on vacation, I realized I needed to buy some vacation clothes. This isn't as easy as it sounds, because most stores have already transitioned over to Fall apparel (even though it's still August). But Salt Lake City has "The Gateway," which is a nice place to shop (even if you hate shopping like I do) so I decided to give it a try. Store after store had no shorts or short-sleaved shirts, until I got to Abercrombie, which had plenty.
So there I am looking around when I see that everything looks really small. Not knowing what the deal is, I shout at a sales clerk over the thumping music to ask where the mens shorts are. She screams back at me that I'm in the KIDS Abercrombie store, and I need the ADULTS store next door.
WTF?!? So I look around and, sure enough, it's mostly moms shopping with their kids. But the walls are still covered with half-naked adults, which I found totally bizarre for a kids store (though not nearly as odd as if the walls had been covered with half-naked children). Then I walk outside to see how I could have possibly missed the sign saying this was "kids"...
Uhhh... yeah... how in the hell would you know? They look identical, and are designed with identical fixtures, identical half-naked signage, and have identical clothing (it's just that one has it in smaller sizes).
So I go to the store next door to the ADULTS store and start looking around. Depending on how crappy my health is at any given moment, my waist size fluctuates from a 30 to a 34. I usually split the difference and go with a 32 which, at Abercrombie Land, means I'm fat. I always end up having to dig to the bottom of the pile, where the largest size is usually a 36.
Not finding what I'm looking for, I eventually spot two guys folding shirts while scream-chatting, and take a guess that they work here (apparently, folding shirts is a two-man job). After yelling what I am looking for, I get an eye-roll from one of the guys and am led around the store at breakneck speed while he points to things. Since I can't hear him and am struggling to keep up, I assume that he's pointing at the stuff I was looking for. After that, he bellows "LET ME KNOW IF I CAN HELP YOU FIND A SIZE" and runs back to the guy he was folding shirts with.
Eventually I manage to find two pairs of shorts I want, so I go to a cash register in menswear... and nobody is there. I go to the main cash register section... and nobody is there. I wander into womenswear, but can't tell if any of them work there. Just as I'm about to give up, a young woman sneaks up behind me and asks me a question of some kind ("What?" - "ARE YOU READY?!?") then gets a second young woman to wait on me. This one says something I can't understand as she removes the security tags ("What?" - "HAVE YOU TRIED OUR FRAGRANCES?") and then yet another young woman comes to ring me out (apparently running the cash register is a three-person job).
When I'm handed my bag (a work of art, really) I consider asking for something "less gay" but decided against it...
I'm secure enough in my sexuality that I don't mind walking around with a naked dude on my shopping bag... but I just don't think I'm manly enough to pull it off with any kind of authority (with a bag like this, I'm guessing it would take somebody like Chuck Norris or John Wayne).
As I leave, I get a wave from the guy who "helped" me... still folding the same damn shirts with his buddy... and wonder how much of my hearing I've lost.
By the time I figure out Salt Lake City's TRAX train system and get back to my hotel, it's time to head out to the Hard Rock Cafe for Dave Lake City 2! Instead of walking, I try to navigate TRAX again, which ends up taking 45 minutes to travel just over a mile (a story for another time). But I still somehow manage to show up with one minute to spare.
Attendees consisted of myself... and Marty from Banal Leakage...
Needless to say, Dave Lake City 2 was awesome!
Annnnnnd... I can't access my blog to post this. Apparently it's down for "planned maintenance" or something. Terrific. I was hoping that I could add one more thing to my massive list of things to do tomorrow morning.
Posted on Friday, August 22nd, 2008
On my way back from breakfast tonight I was assaulted by drunken whores with balloons in my hotel's hallway. They ran up behind me and started bouncing them on my head while squealing and shrieking so loudly that I thought windows were going to start breaking. This pissed me off, and I was all "GAH! Bitches, stop!" But they ignored me so I snagged a balloon and popped it. They thought this was hilarious, and went running off to do whatever it is that giggling drunken whores do this time of night.
Anyway... the reason I'm having breakfast at 10:00pm is because my schedule is screwed up from working all hours. I don't usually eat this late, but my appetite demanded toast and scrambled eggs (probably because it doesn't know how to tell time), so off I went. Delicious! My waitress was nice enough to let me substitute extra toast and jam for the meat because, well, it's not like you can ever have too much bread...
So now I am back in my hotel room with mussed up hair and a full stomach.
And unable to sleep. Again. Which wouldn't be a big deal if I didn't have to fly home tomorrow morning.
Though I suppose I shouldn't be upset about that because = knock on wood = the next time I'll be on a plane will be for vacation.
Nineteen days and counting...
Posted on Saturday, August 23rd, 2008
Believe it or not, I love kids. Apparently not enough to have any of my own, but I do like them quite a lot.
It's just the parents I hate.
Certainly not all of them, but most of them. Good parents who mind their kids in public I have no problem with. But so many modern-day parents are irresponsible assholes when it comes to their kids, and I've had enough. You can't go anywhere without being exposed to dumbasses who let their children run ape-shit because they're too busy talking on their mobile phone, reading a book, or flirting with somebody. They couldn't care less if their kids are terrorizing people, getting into trouble, breaking shit, or doing something dangerous. It may be their kids, but it's not their problem.
Here's just a small sampling of some of the things I documented on my trip...
Kids are going to cry and misbehave, and I get that. I sympathize with parents who are exhausted and trying their best to manage their kids when they travel. But the operative word here is TRYING... and too many parents I see just aren't. From all appearances, they just don't give a shit. They don't care if their kids get into trouble or are in dangerous situations. They don't care that their kids are bugging the crap out of people. They don't care about anything. People like this should never have had kids in the first place.
If you have kids, you have to be responsible for them.
When your kid is screaming their head off in a store, theater, or restaurant, take them outside until they settle down so everybody doesn't have to suffer. When your kid is misbehaving, do something to stop it. When your kid is making a mess, clean up after them. When your kid is running around going ape-shit, get them under control. But, above all, WATCH YOUR FUCKING KIDS!! It's your fucking job... not everybody else's job to do it for you.
As I sit here wrapping up this entry, the same cute kid that was climbing up the luggage chute earlier is now having a great time with the automatic doors opening and closing as he runs through them. Cars are driving by just outside and I have no idea where his parents are at. I hope he doesn't die.
Posted on Wednesday, August 27th, 2008
As I was browsing through CNN's website to read coverage of the Democratic National Convention, I ran across an article saying that "100 Things To Do Before You Die" co-author Dave Freeman has died. Sadly, he only made it through half of his list.
As someone who has endeavored to see as much of this earth as I can before I die, this news hit me pretty hard. I have, of course, read his book and was inspired by it. Even if I didn't always agree with Freeman's choices, "100 Things To Do Before You Die" opened up a whole world of fascinating possibilities and sparked my imagination. After finishing the book, I decided to make my OWN list and see how many I could check off.
But I just couldn't do it.
I was always afraid that I'd perish before I could finish my list. Not wanting to die unfulfilled, I needed to do things a little different. So I decided to make a list of "Things To Do Before I Die"... but only add things to it after I had done them. This way, no matter when I die, I'll have finished my list. Brilliant! I'm up to 72 so far.
And here I am in Spokane so I can work in the morning. Thanks to road construction it took an extra half-hour, dragging out the already boring three-hour drive. Given this heinous new restrictive diet I'm on, Spokane is a dangerous place to be. This city is home to the best pizza on earth and I knew that I would cheat and have a slice once I got here...
Turns out I needed that pizza.
As soon as I got into the city I found out that I have to be in Portland at 7:00am Friday morning for another job.
Unfortunately this means don't have time to go home, and will be flying directly out of Spokane tomorrow night. Then I fly back to Spokane on Saturday morning so I can then drive three hours to get back home (at last).
Good thing I always pack an extra set of clothes for emergencies!
I need more forbidden pizza.
Posted on Thursday, August 28th, 2008
Yeah, so here I am in Beaverton, Oregon.
I was supposed to be home tonight putting the Artificial Duck Co. Store back online, but such is my life. Instead I'm in a boring, smelly, noisy hotel room in the middle of nowhere setting my alarm clock for 4:00am. The only good news is that hopefully work will end early tomorrow so I can run into the city for my "real" hotel and catch up on sleep. I need it so badly. In trying to calculate how much rest I've had in the past week, I'm averaging 3.5 hours per night, and that cannot be good.
Now that August is coming to a close, it's time to do my annual "Remainder of The Year Freak-Out!" This is when I write up all the things that I haven't yet finished this year and try to find places to cram them into my travel calendar before 2009 rears its ugly head. For some reason this year seems busier than past years, but actually isn't. All things considered, it's been a fairly calm year for me travel-wise...
The above list doesn't include a few trips I can't talk about, but it's a pretty good representation of how things are going to shake out through December. Believe it or not, I'm not going to reach platinum status in air-miles this year (even though I hit gold last month). Usually I take a few international trips at the end of the year to cinch the deal, but thanks to the shitty value of our worthless US Dollar, that's not going to happen. Oh well. Gold is still pretty good for the frequent traveler, perks-wise.
And now I really should be going to bed. It's 9:30 and if I can force myself to get six-and-a-half hours of sleep before I have to wake up, I really should try to do that.
But, sadly, I think we all know what the chances of that are.
Posted on Friday, August 29th, 2008
Taking a bad situation and making the best of it, my unexpected trip to Portland ended up being a great excuse to email Vahid, Lewis, and Blair for a last-minute dinner in the City of Roses. Thanks to Twitter, Miss TSM_Oregon herself (Tracy) saw that I was in town and was kind enough to join in as well.
When I stop and think about it, this is pretty amazing. Just four years ago, all the travel I do made for a life of loneliness and isolation. Now, thanks to blogging, there's someone I know everywhere I go. A last-minute trip to Portland is no longer just a chore to I have to get through, but an opportunity to meet up with friends. Friends I never would have met if not for writing here at Blogography and getting involved in the PRB.
Since I live in a tiny town where "ethnic food" is considered to be a burrito with extra cheese, Vahid was kind enough to suggest Indian for dinner, which sounded perfect. I stuck to my restrictive diet as best I could, but the food at India House all sounded so good that there was no way I could settle for a stupid salad, and ended up having their Vegetarian Sampler Platter. Delicious.
My diet already blown by eating gluten (beer and naan) and cooked vegetables (everything else), Vahid decided to exploit my love of gelato and add dairy to the list of forbidden foods I've consumed today, and took us all to Mio Gelato. Since they had Stracciatella among the flavors, I was a very happy camper.
Lewis and Blair had to be responsible parents and get back to their kid, so Vahid, Tracy and I soldiered onward to The Boiler Room for karaoke. Tracy claimed to be able to sing, so we wanted her to put a microphone where her mouth is and prove it. She was first up as karaoke started... and proceeded to blow the doors off the joint by singing Linda Ronstadt's "You're No Good." Her performance made me pity everybody else in the room who had put a song in, and the guy who came after Tracy just stood there with the microphone in his hand saying "you expect me to follow that?!?
Having nothing left to prove, Tracy hit the road for her drive home, leaving Vahid and I to play video games at Ground Kontrol. Back in the day, I used to be pretty good at these classic games, but now I just suck ass. Games like "Donkey Kong" where I used to blow through levels in record time and set high scores totally owned my ass. I never made it past the first level.
Having totally failed at video games, we met up with one of Vahid's college buddies for one last beer at Bailey's Taproom.
All in all, a good night! Thanks to everybody who was kind enough to hang out with me.
UPDATE: Ooh! I forgot PDX has free wi-fi! Uploaded a photo montage of us.
Posted on Saturday, September 6th, 2008
So. Very. Tired.
Today I drove all the way to Spokane for a 1-hour appointment, ate David's Pizza for lunch, then drove back home. That's nine hours of my life I'm never getting back.
The drive itself is pretty boring because the Columbia Basin doesn't have much to see. But an occasional glimpse of nice scenery makes it not so terrible...
The problem is that the drive takes forever. Washington State is bigger than it looks...
If you live on the East Coast, I suppose it would be about the same as driving from New York City to Baltimore and back...
As another example... say, if you live in Australia... it would be like driving from Sydney to Canberra and back, then looping around the city a couple of times...
Or, if you're a fan of the most excellent BBC show Gavin & Stacey, it's a little less miles than when Gavin drives from Billericay, England to Barry, Wales and back...
And, if you live in Alaska, you would think it would be just like hopping the ferry from Ketchikan... past where the Sarah Palin endorsed "Bridge To Nowhere" would have been if she hadn't disavowed it to benefit her career... all the way to the city of Terrace in British Columbia and back. But, while the miles are about the same, the ferry ride makes the total trip several hours longer...
Bleh. It's only 11:00 and I'm falling asleep. But if I go to bed now, I'll be waking up at 3:00am so I really should try to stay awake a bit longer.
Thinking of Sarah Palin making it to the White House should be enough to keep me wide awake and scared shitless for several hours, so perhaps I'll give that a try...
Posted on Tuesday, September 9th, 2008
Posted on Wednesday, September 10th, 2008
Posted on Thursday, September 11th, 2008
This is not my first trip to Maui, I've been here nearly a dozen times before, which is part of the appeal to me... I've already done most everything there is to do here, so it makes for a very stress-free and relaxing vacation spot.
This time I decided to look for stuff I haven't done of the island so I'd get something new out of my visit.
I started out with The Maui Ocean Center, which is very nicely done with the usual assortment of fishes and other sea creatures...
But my favorite part of the exhibit is the Jelly Fish tank, because the creatures inside are so bizarre and unusual...
After playing with the fishes, I wandered north to take a look at the Iao Needle. This is a volcano that went dormant, after the center lava had cooled to a tube. The outside eroded away, leaving only the "needle" showing...
It was kind of cloudy, but plenty green...
Back in the parking lot, a pair of cats were waiting patiently for me under the car next door...
On my way back to South Maui, I dropped by the Maui Tropical Plantation, for old time's sake...
The plantation has a couple of monkeys named "Carlos" and "Montana" which were rescued when the Maui Zoo closed down...
Continuing southward, I ended up at Maui's famous Big Beach...
But then it started to rain. One of the great things about Maui is that if it rains where you are at, you can generally go to another part of the island and stay dry. Wanting to keep with the theme of "doing something different," I decided to drive around the northern part of the island, which I had never done before. It starts out nice enough, with plenty of stops to admire the beautiful North Coast...
The scenery is quite beautiful, with plenty of seaside cliffs to look at...
Most places you stop there are rock piles, which people build in order to leave a non-permanent and eco-friendly mark of their visit...
For quite a while, the road is not too bad. But after a while you turn a corner and BLAM! Suddenly you are on a very scary one-lane road on high cliffs with falling rocks and oncoming traffic. It's a sphincter-puckering event to be turning around a blind corner on a cliff, only to find yourself face-to-face with another car coming from the opposite direction. At that point, one of you has to drive backwards to a spot in the road which is wide enough for one of you to pass. After 10 miles of driving in madness, the road suddenly becomes a sane, two-laned affair once again...
With the North Maui expedition having eaten up the remainder of my day, it was time for another stunning Maui sunset in Kihei...
It's one of those ships from Close Encounters of the Third Kind!
And so ends another day in paradise...
Posted on Friday, September 12th, 2008
I should probably write something here before I fall asleep.
The long drive up Maui's Mt. Haleakala to watch the sunrise is one of those things you really only need to do once. I've already done it three times. But my new camera has been giving me some incredible shots, so I decided I'd make the trek again to see what happens. Unfortunately, this meant setting my alarm for 3:00am so I could get to the summit in time.
Ummm... yeah... so totally worth it...
I also got to see a baby Silversword on the way down...
These amazing plants are unique in several ways...
At the Ranger's Station Visitor Center, a few adult Silverwords were in bloom...
This just in from the "I don't ever want to go back home department," here's the beach today...
And now, it's time for a nap. I'm on vacation so I can do that...
Posted on Saturday, September 13th, 2008
A big shout-out to Maui Tacos for having most excellent vegetarian options on their menu! Potato Chimichanga = Delicious! Also interesting was my dinner last night at a fantastic Italian restaurant called Aroma D'Italia which had toasted CHEESE ravioli on the menu which tasted incredible (the owner is originally from St. Louis!).
Maui has a "feature" called "The Hana Highway," which is a beautiful drive along a scary road fraught with hundreds of switchbacks and dozens on one-lane bridges. I've done it twice (once as a driver, once as a passenger), and thought that was all I really needed to do... but my new camera was begging for adventure...
Since I didn't really want to drive it again (it's exhausting, and once was really enough), I decided to book a tour. Ultimately, this was a mistake. Sure they made plenty of stops and the driver was entertaining... but I never got to stop at the places that I wanted to photograph. I would have had a much better time had I just driven myself so I could do all the stuff that I wanted to do.
Oh well. Still, I did get some nice photographs. Here's a black sand beach...
And here's a scary red sand beach (looks like blood!)...
I also got some nice waterfall shots...
And some photographs at The Seven Sacred Pools (three of which can be seen here)...
But my favorite thing this trip was finding flowers to photograph. Hawaii has some of the most beautiful plants and flowers on earth, and they're everywhere...
And thus ends another day in paradise...
Posted on Sunday, September 14th, 2008
It's a Bullet Sunday from Maui... which is probably the best place for Bullet Sunday to be! Today I'm posting early (internet access willing) because it's going to be a chill-at-the-beach kind of day. Since I don't want to think, I thought I'd just answer some of the comments I got from recent entries. I guess this makes me a lazy bastard, but isn't that what vacation is for?
• "Ohhhh, nice! Which island?" — Kapgar.
Four islands, actually... Maui, Oahu, Hawaii, and Kauai.
• "The monkey, how's it travelling? In a bag, or you paying for an extra seat?" — stephentrepreneur.
Bad Monkey flew First Class, as always. I couldn't get an upgrade, so I flew Coach. But I was able to get an exit row and an empty seat next to me, which was actually better, since I didn't have to watch my monkey get drunk and hit on flight attendants.
• "Speaking of Hard Rock... have you checked the HRC website's Coming Soon section lately? Seattle, Washington. Summer 2009. — Marc.
Yep, and this time it actually looks like it might actually be happening... though I've heard that a couple of times before as they tried to put a Hard Rock Cafe in Seattle over the past 20 years. As a bonus, I hear that a cafe is being planned for Portland, Oregon as well.
"Gorgeous pics! Are these with your new camera? What IS your new camera??? — SJ.
"Great photos... I need to now ask... is this with your new camera? At some point, you will get tired of me asking about it and just blog about it." — ChillyWilly.
Thanks! And, yes, my camera arrived the day before I left, and I've been shooting with it since I got here. It's the brand new Nikon D90 model, which I wrote about here. Since I've barely used it, I'm not quite ready to write a review, but I'm pretty sure it will go something like this... "OMG! I SO TOTALLY LOVE THIS CAMERA! IT'S AMAZING, AND IT LETS ME GET SOME OF THE BEST PHOTOS I'VE EVER TAKEN WITH VERY LITTLE EFFORT!"
"Do you experience any hostility from native Hawaiians?" — Avitable.
Never. Not once in the dozen times I've been here over a 22-year span have I ever experienced any hostility. Unless you count being honked at by Hana natives because I wasn't driving at reckless enough speeds on the Hana Highway.
"As for Big Beach/Little Beach, it was the one spot I wanted to go to and didn't get there. Next time, for sure. My exhibitionist side needed out!!" — Lewis.
"If I recall, there was a sign on that road that read 'Your rental car insurance expires after this point'." — TheQueen.
When I fist started coming to Maui in the 80's, the road to Big Beach did indeed violate you car rental contract because it was very rough and unimproved. As such, very few people went there. I have photos of me and my friends where we're the only ones on the entire beach. And the one time I went to "Little Beach" (the "nude beach") nobody was there. Now there's a paved two-lane road right up to Big Beach (and beyond)... complete with a parking lot! Sadly, this means the beach is usually fairly crowded. My how things have changed.
• "QUESTION, and stop me if you've heard this one: If you need a vacation so badly why are you blogging in realish time about it?" — Poppy.
Realish time? Not really. I blog once a day, usually at night before I go to bed. Once the sun goes down, there's not much to do on Maui except eat and get drunk. It's not a big deal to post a few photos and say what I did that day before I eat and get drunk.
"Those sunrise photos are breathtaking. I can only imagine how much more spectacular it must have been to be there in person." — Iron Fist.
"My goodness, thank you for sharing these magnificent photos of the sun rising!! Worth waking up for huh???" — Michelle Jacobs
Truly. Sunrise at Haleakala is truly an event that must be witnessed in person... I got some great shots, but looking at a tiny little photo is nothing compared to the massive event it is in real-life.
• "If you find yourself on Lanai, i have family there that own a restaurant." — hello haha narf.
Having never been to Lanai before (except to dive off the coast), I actually decided to do this! On Friday I made a reservation on the ferry for today with a 9:15am departure and a 6:30pm return. But last night I learned that the road to Lahaina would be overrun with The Maui Marathon from 5:00am onward, making it difficult to even get to the city for a 9:15am launch. This meant, sadly, I had to cancel my plans. Maybe next time.
"When in Maui - Eat at Peggy Sue's (Kihei)!! Tell them Aynde sent you! Visited Maui a couple of years ago to visit the in laws (they own peggy sues). Fun vacation." — Aynde.
Wow... seems everybody's family owns a restaurant in Hawaii! Actually, I am very familiar with "Peggy Sue's"... it was an inspiration for a restaurant back in Washington that some friends own!
"BTW, how's the WiFi at your hotel?" — ChillyWilly.
Uhhh... it pretty much sucks. Couldn't even use it the first day, and last night was so slow that I couldn't post my entry for the day until this morning. Still, it's better than nothing!
And that's the end of that. Time to get out of bed and drag my lazy ass to the ocean.
Posted on Monday, September 15th, 2008
To me, Honolulu is a big city much like any other big city, and most of the times I've been here it's been for work. But once you get outside the city, Oʻahu is a beautiful place, filled with all the things that makes Hawaii such a great State to visit. It's a shame so many people come here just to hang out at Waikiki and don't make an effort to explore everything the island has to offer.
I had to make a quick trip into Honolulu, and didn't have time to see much else, but I did make it over to Pearl Harbor. I hadn't been there in 22 years and wanted to see the USS Missouri (which had been added as a museum ship in 1998). Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 caused the USA to enter World War II... and it seems only fitting that the site of Japan's surrender on "The Mighty Mo" should come to rest here.
The Arizona Memorial is just as beautiful as I remembered...
Back at the Arizona Visitor Center, you can meet Pearl Harbor survivors. When you buy the museum book, their pictures are in the back, and you can get them autographed in person. On top of being real-life heroes, the two survivors I met were also incredibly nice guys with a great sense of humor...
The USS Missouri was a fascinating tour because the guide for our group actually served aboard the ship during the Korean War. Not only did he have all the major details about the ship, but loads of personal details you can only get from having lived there (more than once he referred to The Missouri as "my home")...
The USS Missouri... powered by Macintosh! I guess the US Navy doesn't want to risk a Windows "Blue Screen of Death" in the middle of battle...
I did wander down to Waikiki Beach, of course. You can't go to Honolulu and not visit...
Sunset was spent at the airport waiting for my flight back to Maui...
And thus ends my all-too-brief visit to the island of Oʻahu.
Posted on Tuesday, September 16th, 2008
To Big Island, or not to Big Island?
Back in March, a new fissure opened on the Kilauea volcano which has resulted in a tenfold release of sulphur gasses into the atmosphere. Known as "vog" (for "Volcanic Fog"), these emissions can completely obliterate the sky here on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi depending on which way the wind blows. And it's not just Hawaiʻi, but all the islands that are affected. There were a few afternoons on Maui where Mt. Haleakala was invisible because vog had blown in and hidden the entire mountain. This is a big problem, because people expect blue skies and visible sunsets when they visit the islands. If the situation gets much worse, not only will the tourist trade suffer... but crops which require sunlight to grow could start having problems too.
Keeping all of this in mind, I faced a bit of a dilemma when booking my Hawaiian vacation. Do I dare risk spending time on Hawaiʻi when the trip might very well be marred by a volcanic haze blanketing the island?
You bet your ass I do.
If vog happens, it happens. Hawaiʻi is a wonderful island to experience and if I spent all my time worrying about what may or may not occur, I might as well stay home.
And if I had decided to skip The Big Island of Hawaiʻi, I would not have had this sight awaiting me once I got to my hotel today...
After kicking around the beach for a while (and getting a bit red because I forgot to apply sunblock), I headed to the northern tip of the island to the city of Kapaʻau. It's here where you can find the very first King Kamehameha statue. I'm thinking it was put here because he was born nearby...
If you keep driving past Kapaʻau, you'll eventually run out of road. It all ends at the Pololu Valley lookout, where you have to turn around and go back...
Which I did, driving back on the upcountry roads of Highway 250. This actually ended up being quite cool, because you could look down on the Kailua-Kona area, where it happened to be raining...
This is one of my favorite shots I've taken so far. It's almost like a painting or something. Hey... it may be raining, but it's still Hawaiʻi!
Deciding that Kailua-Kona might be a good place for dinner, I headed on down. By the time I got there, the rain was in full-force, but it was a nice warm rain and felt great. I wandered around for a bit snapping photos, like this one of Hawaiʻi's first church...
They are doing lots of construction in the area, so traffic is a frackin' mess, but I did get to see a nice sunset on the way back to my hotel. Unfortunately, by the time I found a place to pull over and shoot it, the sun was already plummeting past the horizon. The colors were so vivid (probably thanks to the vog!) that they blew out in my camera's sensor...
By the time I got back "home," the stars were already coming out...
I have no idea what I'm doing tomorrow, but I can't wait to find out! Vog willing, big adventures await...
Posted on Wednesday, September 17th, 2008
Today was the day I decided to drive the Hawaiʻi Belt Road which circles around most of the island, including the entirety of Mauna Loa (the largest volcano on earth).
This is always a dicey proposition because, with very few exceptions, it's a two-lane road with only rare opportunities to pass dumbasses who are incapable of driving the speed limit. But there's plenty of cool stuff to see along the way, so the agony is worth it. This is especially true after Kilauea started venting back in March, because the crater rim and Volcanos National Park is right off the Belt.
But my first stop was Akaka Falls, which is far nicer than the more-famous "Rainbow Falls" further down the road...
After making my way past Hilo and up to the volcanos, I got to see where all that vog (Volcanic Fog) is coming from...
I was hoping for a full-scale eruption so I could get some cool lava shots, but Kilauea kept its cool. I had to make do with seeing the lava flows from previous eruptions...
And I was also sure to explore the Thurston Lava Tube, which I had forgotten about my last time here...
After getting my fill of delicious vog, I continued down the other side of the mountain until I reached my favorite black sand beach, Punalu'u, which is famous for turtles (I've seen them here before, but they weren't around this time)...
From there it's just a 10-minute drive to the best reason of all to visit The Big Island: Punalu'u Bakery, home of the best Hawaiian Sweet Bread on earth (not to mention the south-most bakery in the USA!)...
And then it was time to drive back so I could be sure to see the sunset that I missed yesterday. When researching where to stay on Hawaiʻi, I ultimately settled on the Waikoloa area, because it doesn't seem to get inundated with vog like Kona, and the rain never seem to get that bad. So far, that's held true for my visit here... no matter what's happening anywhere else on the island, it's always beautiful back at my hotel. But the vog does get blown out to sea, making for some incredible sunsets...
Hopefully I'll be motivated to do something interesting tomorrow, because right now all I want to do is sleep in until noon.
What a waste that would be.
Posted on Thursday, September 18th, 2008
It's my last day on The Big Island.
I wanted to spend it sitting on the beach and playing in the ocean.
But that seemed like kind of a waste given all the stuff to do here on Hawaiʻi that I haven't yet done. Shouldn't I be seeing and doing as much as possible while I still can? It seemed a dilemma best pondered while sitting on the beach and playing in the ocean.
But eventually I decided to tear myself away from this beautiful sight...
...and head south into dreary and rainy Kailua-Kona for lunch. While there I decided to wander down to where the beautiful Hard Rock Cafe Kona used to be so I could be depressed that one of my favorite cafes has closed. Somebody should buy the building and turn it into a Hard Rock Cafe...
From there I decided to head to the first of two destinations I had in mind for today, The Painted Church (which is actually St. Benedict's Catholic Church). This beautiful little church sits on a hill overlooking the ocean and is famous because of the nifty paintings that cover every available surface inside...
My favorite feature is the guardian cat that sits outside and inspects everybody who enters the church...
There are some terrific statues on the church grounds including a reproduction of Michelangelo’s La Pieta, but I was really intrigued by a nice rendition of The Virgin Mary. She had been lovingly adorned with over a hundred necklaces which did nothing to detract from how beautiful she is...
After wandering around the church and its grounds for a while, I finally proceeded onward to my ultimate destination, Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. This used to be a place of refuge where Hawaiians who broke one of the ancient laws against their gods could escape from a death sentence. They'd show up, be absolved of their sin by a priest, and then go on their merry way... free to keep on living. This is also a place where Hawaiian chiefs were laid to rest.
I just liked it because there are cool structures and nifty statues all over the place...
But the best thing about Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park is that there's a beach where sea turtles come to have a rest. The ancient Hawaiians revered turtles, and petroglyphs here show "honu" turtles everywhere. I just think they're wonderful creatures. Last Sunday when I was in Maui, I snorkeled with a beautiful turtle for almost a half-hour before he finally decided to take a nap on the ocean floor. They're such trusting and inoffensive creatures that it breaks my heart to know that they're endangered now...
I wish I had another week here.
But before I go, I thought I'd mention that the exclusive design I made for Avitable's Halloween Party fund-raising event will disappear forever in a few short weeks. It's so awesome, that I wore it while frolicking on the beach this morning...
I PITY THE FOOL WHO DON'T BUY THIS T-SHIRT... GRRRRR!
Of course, a picture of me wearing a T-shirt isn't going to convince anybody to buy anything, so I give you the lovely Danalyn, looking divinely hot in her Neverwas Fair shirt...
If you want to get a shirt of your very own, in any style you wish, just visit Avitable's store on Zazzle.
Posted on Friday, September 19th, 2008
I was so not ready to leave The Big Island of Hawaiʻi. Just a few more days would have been nice.
My flight into Kauaʻi was early in the morning, so the condo I rented wasn't quite ready when I got here. Since it was a beautiful day, I decided to drive up to see the Hindu Monastery that's hidden up one of the canyon roads. You're not allowed to photograph inside the temple itself, but the grounds are really beautiful. Off a little side-path, there's a fantastic statue in a little grotto that begged to be photographed...
Since my condo still wasn't ready after my visit, I needed some lunch. One of my friends had told me that the best place for a veggie burger on the island was at Bubba's, so off I went...
I was not misled. The veggie burger was amazing... easily one of the best I've ever had. As if that wasn't enough, it was a fun place to eat as well...
After lunch I set out to arrange for a helicopter tour of the Na Pali Coast. I had hiked along the area a long time ago, and have wanted to see it from the air ever since. A lot of Kauaʻi is best seen from the air. Much to my surprise, there was an opening immediately, so off I went...
Of course, the one place I wanted to see... The Na Pali Coast... was hit by a storm so we couldn't fly there. This was not entirely unexpected, because the weather here changes minute by minute, but it was upsetting. I had just paid quite a chunk of money for nothing.
Except... not really...
Whenever one door closes, another door opens.
The heavy rains caused all the waterfalls in the crater of Mt. Waialeale to fire up, providing breathtaking views wherever you looked. I was so stunned at the site of dozens (hundreds?) of waterfalls pouring over the crater that I almost forgot to snap a few photos. Incredible. A tiny picture can't begin to capture the wonder of it all...
Everywhere on the island except the Na Pali Coast was beautiful which, I suppose, is something to be grateful for...
Not bad for my first day.
Which is a good thing, because vacation time will be ending all too soon.
Posted on Saturday, September 20th, 2008
I shouldn't have to be making decisions while I'm on vacation.
From the town of Kapaʻa where my rented condo is, you can really only travel north or south. There are lots of little roads that wander off into the countryside of Kauaʻi, but there's only one main road on the island, and it goes north or south. After flipping a coin, I decided that it would be north today, south tomorrow.
Though I have to tell you, the weather at the beach outside my room was pretty sweet, and it was all I could do to tear myself away...
First stop was the lighthouse at Kilauea, the north-most point of Kauaʻi. It's located in a wildlife refuge where all kinds of birds come to nest, and has the largest "clamshell" light lens in the world. It is kind of beat up, needs a paint-job, and doesn't work anymore (they have a light beacon outside instead), but it's still a beautiful place to visit...
From there on out, it's pretty much just one incredibly beautiful beach after another until you run out of road. As you get further north, the waters are a little rougher, but it's an amazing sight to watch those waves come rolling in...
Once the road ends at Na Pali, I could have parked and hiked out 20 miles along the beautiful coastal area there, but that's way more effort than I wanted to put into my afternoon.
So I drove back to my condo and goofed off.
I received a couple emails and comments from people asking about the photos I've been taking... wanting to know how much Photoshop work I've been doing to get them to look so nice.
The answer is "none." I'm on vacation, and don't want to mess around with Photoshop. About the only thing I do is crop and re-size... no other manipulations are going on.
I seem to get the best results here when set my camera to "Vivid Color," put the exposure compensation to
For my Blogography entries, I always choose the overexposed bracketed shot. This is a bad thing, because all my bright whites are blown out. But going this route means the photos require no work on my part. I just crop them and slap them up on my blog. When it comes time to assemble my photo album, I'll choose an underexposed shot so I can brighten up the darker shadow areas by manipulating the levels without blowing out the bright spots.
Times sure have changed since I first got into photography.
Posted on Sunday, September 21st, 2008
I woke up this morning wanting to do nothing at all.
The only thing that sounded like any fun was staying in bed and re-reading Frank Herbert's Dune for the hundredth time. I found a copy on the bookshelf of the condo I rented and couldn't refuse. It's such a mind-blowing revelation of a book that it deserves to be read a hundred times.
But I still had the south-side of Kauai to explore, so away I went. Muad'Dib would have to wait.
Mark Twain called Waimea Canyon "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific." I'd tend to agree, even though Mark Twain supposedly never visited Kauaʻi, which means he was describing it without having seen it. The canyon itself starts out nice enough, but it's hardly Grand Canyon worthy...
But as you move up the canyon road, the sights get more and more impressive...
Waimea Canyon is notoriously difficult to photograph. The lighting is rarely perfect, usually giving you areas of deep shadow, distance haze, or a washed out glare that obscures the beauty of it all. I did the best I could, but there's no substitute for being there.
As a bonus, once you drive past the canyon lookout and continue on past Kokeʻe State Park, you get to see the Kalalau Valley Overlook, which is absolutely incredible. It's another area that's kind of hard to photograph well, but I was quite happy with what I got...
On the way back to Kapaʻa, I stopped to see Waimea Falls. The last time I was here, a friend decided to climb down onto the head of the falls and give me a heart attack. Heights scare me bad enough without watching somebody plummet to their death...
And thus ends my last day on Kauaʻi.
BUT BEFORE I GO...
Chip Zdarsky has a pretty sweet meme on his blog with these rules... "Take a picture of yourself right now. Don't change your clothes, don't fix your hair...just take a picture. Post that picture with NO editing. Post these instructions with your picture."
Since I'm all rested, tanned, and blogging from the lanai of this condo... my name is David Simmer II and I endorse this meme...
Oog. I really should have at least patted down my mussed-up hair before snapping that photo with my Mac's iSight camera, but that would be against the rules, wouldn't it?
One more day of vacation left...
Posted on Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008
Because Horizon Air is systematically cutting the most critical flights to/from Wenatchee (probably in an effort to shut down the airport and blame it on lack of passengers so they don't have to bother with us anymore), I am stuck in Seattle overnight. My "connecting" flight doesn't leave until 10:10 tomorrow morning. Since this is over 12 hours from when I landed, they couldn't even check my bag through. I had to wait at baggage claim and collect it so I can turn around and check it in again tomorrow.
Flying keeps sucking more and more ass due to the shitty US economy coupled with rising fuel prices, and there's no end in sight. More and more flights will be canceled. More and more routes will be eliminated. And more and more smaller cities will lose their airports. You could blame the airlines, but they're just doing what they can to stay in business. Isn't everybody now-a-days?
But that's not my main gripe tonight.
My rant for the evening will be about internet service at hotels.
I am 100% against having to pay for internet at hotels. It should be included in the cost of your room. The stupid thing is that most hotels contract out the internet service to third parties, which is probably more expensive than if they had just set it up themselves and offered it for free to their guests. Ironically, most of the time it's the cheaper hotels who offer excellent free internet, whereas the more expensive hotels have shitty paid internet.
As an example, my very nice hotel in Maui makes you pay for internet through ClearWire.
This pisses me off but, once I get past my anger, my expectations are running pretty high. If I am paying for the internet, it had better be the best fucking internet access ever, or I'm just going to get enraged.
But, of course, it's not. It never is.
ClearWire provided me with unbelievably shitty internet access which dumped me after only one hour of my twenty-four hour period had elapsed. To make matters worse, ClearWire wouldn't let me back on, telling me my login was invalid and I need to pay for another 24 hours or access.
A call to their technical support department resulted in me being put on hold for 20 minutes.
The problem was never resolved. They say they've credited me for the money they charged me, but I'm not overly optimistic because I never got a credit slip emailed to me.
As a result of such horrendously shitty internet service that I'm forced to fucking PAY for, I don't know if I will ever stay at that hotel again. They're potentially losing a good customer because they're too stupid to understand that internet access should be included in the room charge and have free access so guests don't have to put up with technical problems and other bullshit that comes from having a pay-to-use system.
From now on my hotel choices will be made on whether or not they charge for internet.
Maybe if all travelers boycotted hotels with shitty third-party pay-for-use systems, the hotels would eventually see the light and do the right thing for their customers.
And wouldn't that be a pleasant change for once?
Posted on Thursday, October 2nd, 2008
I love Jägermeister. I love my hotel room. I love being naked in this fine hotel robe. I love my ceiling fan. I love my corner-suite with separate rooms for everything. I love that one of those rooms is a "drawing room" even though I don't know what it's fore. I love Austin. I love Karla for hanging out with me in Austin. I love Karla. I love that I remember how to make a link to Karla's blog. I love complimentary internet. I love being a little bit drunk. I love being able to sleep in and not have to start work at the ass-crack of dawn in the morning. I love chocolate pudding. I love my friends and family. I love that I get to meet Wayne tomorrow. I love that I managed to make yet another link without breaking the internet. I love the internet. I love my blog. I love the friends I've made with my blog. I love that President Bush won't be president much longer. I love second chances. I love traveling to new places and meeting new people. I love people. I love people who are not total dumbasses. I love the smell of my grandmother's apple pie. I love my grandma. I love my iPhone most of the time. I love Steve Jobs. I love Apple. I love love love love my Macintosh. I love traveling with my Macintosh. I love to travel. I love Edinburgh, Scotland and love that I will go back there one day. I love the escape. I love the freedom. I love those free snacks you get on an airplane no matter how lame they are. I love First Class upgrades. I love denying how much I love First Class upgrades. I love leg-room. I love that I remembered to hyphenate "leg-room" even though it took me six tried with spell-check in order to spell "hyphenate." I love that I get to spend time with my sister who is also one of my best friend in three weeks. I love knowing people who love me because of who I am rather than what I can do for them. I love making people happy. I love a woman's smile. I love cake. I love fortune cookies. I love that I can go to the fortune cookie factory and eat fresh warm fortune cookies in San Francisco in two weeks. I love art. I love creating something from nothing. I love seeing how others create something from nothing. I love the rain. I love walking in the rain without an umbrella with a girl who likes walking in the rain without an umbrella. I love you Mary. I love knowing that I'm not alone no matter where I go on this earth. I love that there's always better days ahead. I love those who feel hard work is its own reward. I love that I know the difference between "it's" and "its" and "their" and "there" and "your" and "you're." I love teachers. I love people who try to make the world a better place. I love knowing that there's Something More if you stop to look for it. I love truth. I love honesty. I love faith. I love all the little things that make us human.
I love love.
I love you.
Posted on Friday, October 3rd, 2008
Wow. What an amazing day.
And to think I almost missed it.
Originally, I was flying into San Antonio for some plans there, then driving up to Austin (because that's where Wayne and Karla were at). When my plans in San Antonio fell through, I had to cancel my entire trip to Texas. But then at the last minute I decided to go to Austin anyway. I had only been to the city a few times before, had never met Wayne in person, and it's a lot cheaper than going to Norway to say hi to Karla.
The day started with me ironing all my clothes.
Usually when the TSA pulls my suitcase for extra screening (which is ALWAYS) they are pretty good at putting everything back together nice and neat. This time, not so much. Every piece of clothing I packed had become a massive ball of wrinkles. Since I suck at ironing, they were only slightly less wrinkled after I had finished, but at least I had the satisfaction of knowing I tried to make myself look presentable.
Then it was time for lunch with Wayne from The Blog of Whall. I won a contest over at his blog a while back, and was given a choice of prizes. I picked "lunch on me the next time you're in Austin," and was here to collect. I was expected the 99¢ menu at Taco Bell, but Wayne went all-out and took me to The Shady Grove, a very cool restaurant which is the epitome of Austin's hippie culture. It's places like this that seem to typify the city, but not Texas as a whole. Indeed, if you were to visit only Austin, you might assume that Texas is a liberal, left-leaning, Obama-loving, Blue State. The reality is quite different, as shown by this electoral map from the last presidential election...
It's kind of interesting, because Austin is almost defiantly proud of being different. The wait staff at Shady Grove were wearing T-shirts saying "KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD!" which just about sums it up. After some darn fine chips & queso, we managed to get a table for delicious burgers out in the inviting Austin sunshine. Despite some political differences on some issues, Wayne and I are more alike than different, which made for great conversation and a terrific lunch. But no worries, I'm pretty sure I've convinced Wayne that Obama for president is the way to go, so Austin's Travis County going Blue in November is all but assured.
Then tonight it was time for Austin's premiere blogging event: Davestin!
Here's Wayne, much happier now that he's supporting Obama...
Here's Ren from "Renagerie" with Wayne's lovely wife Christy (no, I have no idea how Wayne managed to get her to marry him either, the lucky bastard!)...
Going clock-wise from the lower left to lower right, that's Mags from "The Corrosion" and Karla May from Pine Curtain Refugee" and Lindsay from "Malcontent Mama" and Oliver and Lee from "I Love Beer" and Jaye from "Putting the 'Fun' in Disfunctional" and Karla from Tales of a Texpatriate and Badger from "Badger Meets World" (our resident palm-reading expert). Bookhart from "Up From Sloth" appears to have escaped...
No, wait a second... there's Bookhart down at the end there! And me, eating awesome pepper-fries with delicious chipotle mayo...
After dinner some of us headed off to The Jackelope for much drinking and merriment! Unfortunately Wayne had to run home and do some campaign work for Obama so he, Christy, and Ren couldn't join us. But he did give me a super-sweet Pearls Before Swine book to read on the plane-ride home tomorrow before he left, so it's all good.
After drinking entirely too much, I stumbled back to my hotel for some sleep. As I was looking across the street at a neon sign which said "Hospitality On Call" and wondering if it meant what I thought it meant, I heard somebody calling my name...
...only to discover that a friend I haven't seen in almost a decade was staying at the same hotel! This awesome coincidence called for even more drinking and merriment, at which point I think I must have passed out, because I honestly cannot remember how I got here to my hotel room.
Oh well. I still have my iPhone, camera, wallet, and all my clothes, so I guess everything worked out in the end.
Or not, depending on how you gauge a successful evening out on the town in Austin.
Posted on Saturday, October 4th, 2008
I catch some heat for the "constant complaining" I do while traveling as I post my tales of woe here at Blogography and on Twitter. I'm regularly told that I have the worst luck ever when traveling. In truth, this is not really the case. Most of my travel experience is positive. But when you travel constantly, the probability of running into problems goes up. If you take four trips a year, you might have one or two bad experiences. If you take forty trips a year, you'd have ten to twenty bad experiences under the same odds. So, in reality, I'm no less lucky than the average traveler... I just travel more so it seems that way.
Last night I ran into an old friend I haven't seen in many years. He was staying here at the same hotel, which made it easy for us to catch up. It was a great experience on top of an already amazing day... but it did mean that I didn't get to bed until 2:00am. This was no big deal, because I just planned on sleeping in.
Two-and-a-half hours into my slumber, I hear loud, constant knocking. At first I thought it was on my door, but it actually ended up being on the room next door. After no answer, a woman starts shouting loudly "OPEN THE DOOR! YOU'VE GOT TO OPEN THE DOOR! OPEN THE DOOR NOW!!! Eventually, somebody opens the damn door and I hear the full exchange. Apparently, the room was paid for with a stolen credit card, and the woman was wanting full payment immediately, or the "guest" would have to leave. This resulted in a lot of loud yelling on both sides, making it impossible for me to go back to sleep. Instead I had to listen to things like "I'M IN A FIGHT WITH MY BROTHER AND HE CANCELLED THE CARDS! THEY'RE NOT STOLEN!!! and IT DOESN'T MATTER, WE NEED IMMEDIATE FULL PAYMENT OR YOU HAVE TO LEAVE!!! A second card was declined, which resulted in another visit and still more yelling. Eventually, the screaming man must have straightened everything out with his bank, because I think he got to stay.
My point her is that the hotel's treatment of this situation was fucked up.
I would expect this kind of thing to happen if I were paying $69 and staying in a Motel 6. But I'm not staying in a Motel 6, I am staying at The Driskill Hotel, which is Austin's most prestigious and exclusive hotel (just ask them!). THEY took a bad card. THEY had the problem. Yet it was their GUESTS who were made to pay for it. Why the hell would you wake up and entire floor of guests because of something like this? It's YOUR fucking problem, NOT mine, yet I'm the one rudely woken up at 4:30am? How is that fair? How is that right? How is that in accordance with the policy of treating guests well when they stay at your hotel? The Driskill is not a Motel 6, so stop fucking acting like one! Handle problems with discretion and don't make your guests be the one to suffer. Otherwise, all the fancy trappings, expensive accents, and classy rooms don't mean a thing... your hotel ends up coming off as a piece of shit and I'm embarrassed for you.
And, while I'm at it, one more complaint before I write my "real" entry for today...
What do you have to do to catch a fucking bus in this city?
I was standing at the stop for the No. 4 bus going north on 6th street. I saw the bus coming, but it wasn't slowing down so I waved my arm. The bus driver ignored it, and blew right past me. WTF?!? Not one to give up easily, I ran after the bus and caught up to it as it arrived at the next stop a block away. It barely slowed down at the stop and, just as I got to the door, it ignored me again and sped off. Fucking douchebag! What the hell are you doing driving public transit if you're not looking out for passengers? No wonder your bus was practically empty!
I guess next time I'll just throw myself in front of the fucking bus and hope for the best. But given how oblivious the driver was tonight, I'm guessing I'd end up dead.
Oh well, I guess the TWO-MILE WALK to The Mean Eyed Cat so I could say goodbye to Karla was good exercise.
Still, Capitol Metro... YOU FUCKING SUCK! FAIL! EXTREME FAIL!!!
Posted on Saturday, October 4th, 2008
Today merited two entries. The previous one was to get my massive complaint against my hotel and Capitol Transit out of the way so I could concentrate on the good things I got to do in Austin today.
It was my intention to wake up at sunrise and photograph some of the city under that divine light you get in the early morning. But after the horrors of last night (see afore-mentioned entry), I was just too exhausted to get out of bed. Instead I lounged around, attempting to rest up even though I couldn't sleep. Eventually I headed out at noon to see some of Austin.
I started out at the beautiful Capitol Building, just down the street...
Next I went to The Blanton Museum of Art. I hadn't been here in a long while, and they've done quite a bit of remodeling. The museum is bigger now, but the collection on display seems smaller. I don't really understand it. Still, there's some real treasures to be found (including a Kehinde Wiley!), making a visit definitely worthwhile...
Anybody know how long to bake a head for?
Singing "An Ode to My Exposed Breast" in G-minor.
From there I wandered back down Congress Street to the Austin Museum of Art and a walk down 6th Street. This is kind of a hub for Austin night life, and gets pretty crowded as the sun goes down. Some of the buildings and signage are just fantastic, making it equally impressive during daylight hours...
After goofing around town for five hours, it was time to meet for an early dinner with a friend who drove up from San Marcos. We were supposed to meet in San Antonio before my plans fell through, so I was grateful that they could change their schedule and come see me in Austin. Then it was back to the famous (infamous?) Driskill Hotel for a shower and change of clothes. Despite my problems last night, it is still a grand hotel that's beautifully appointed inside and out...
Since this is my last night in Austin, I wanted to have a drink with Karla so I could say goodbye. She had invited me to hang out with some of her friends at a very cool Johnny Cash tribute car called The Mean Eyed Cat. It took a bit more effort than I had planned to get there (see afore-mentioned entry), but it was worth the trip to get to see her one last time...
And thus ends my trip to Austin, capitol city of the Lone Star State of Texas...
I wonder what new adventures await me at my hotel tonight?
Posted on Friday, October 10th, 2008
The flight to Chicago was blissfully uneventful.
I wish I could say the same about the traffic on 294 as Vahid and I drove north to Six Flags Great America. A drive that normally would take 35 minutes took two hours. This kind of sucked, because we ended up being an hour late to the opening of Fright Fest.
Fright Fest, for the uninitiated, is where Six Flags has special night-time opening hours for their park and decorate with scary Halloween stuff. It sounds very cool... and would be, if they committed to it fully.
But they don't, so it kind of blows.
Rides are given new "spooky" names, but park signage has the original names. This makes finding stuff very difficult. A lot of time was wasted wanderings around that could have been spent riding rides.
Oh well. A fun time was to be had. I think Raging Bull is one of my new favorite roller coasters. And Superman was one of the most unique. A very cool park for roller coasters, that's for sure.
But not for food.
Riding gut-busting roller coasters for hours had no effect on me.
Yet having a Papa John's Pizza Combo Meal at Six flags made me sicker than a dog.
I hope I feel better in the morning, or else tomorrow is going to be a very rough day. Especially since a boat is involved.
Posted on Saturday, October 11th, 2008
As one of the most architecturally diverse and beautiful cities in the USA, it was quite a treat...
From there, it was time for delicious hot dogs, Chicago style! We ate at America's Dog, because they had a veggie option...
After that, it was time for drinks at the top of The Hancock Building...
After making custom T-shirts at the T-Shirt Deli, it was time to get down to business. Here is Jenny starting the official TequilaCon 2009 White Board...
And here is Brandon (who is apparently wearing Bristol Palin's T-shirt) photographing Round Two of the selection results for host city...
And here is Vahid taking a Super Pac-Man break during the grueling three hour discussion...
Unfortunately, Sometimes Rabbit showed up to have a drink and scare the hell out of me...
Last on the agenda was dinner up in Andersonville, where we were lucky enough to see PUPPET BIKE!! It's a tiny puppet theater... ON A BIKE! Here's a dog and a cat getting ready to dance...
PuppetBike makes Jenny happy...
And Chicago makes me happy.
Posted on Monday, October 13th, 2008
Whee. I have internet again, and have posted a back-log of entries I couldn't post while in Chicago.
I'd write all about my journey home, but sitting next to a disgusting gum-smacking whore took all my energy, so I'll just run a reminder that this Saturday is Dave Francisco! If you live in the Bay Area and would like to meet up with some bloggers, please email me at email@example.com ASAP so I can make sure we have a head-count for reservations...
And now it's off to an early bedtime so I can be productive tomorrow.
Boy does that sound like fun.
Posted on Friday, October 17th, 2008
I've been thinking that bad news can always be made worse, but can rarely be made better.
Take today for example. I had to get up at 4:00am after only 4-1/2 hours sleep to make my first flight, then didn't have time for breakfast because of a very short layover in Seattle. So when my bad news came, I was both tired and hungry. Would my news have been less bad if I had been well-rested with a full stomach? Probably not. Heck, I'm pretty sure it would have still been bad news had it been delivered by two dozen topless dancing girls while eating breakfast in bed with Elizabeth Hurley. Bad news sucks regardless.
But Johnny Rockets DID have a veggie burger in stock for lunch... I DID get to eat dinner with a friend I haven't seen in a long time... and I WILL get to go fortune cookie hunting with Kentucky Girl in the morning... and it IS Dave Francisco tomorrow night... and I DO happen to be in San Francisco, which is a fantastic city... so I guess if you're going to get bad news, there are worse ways you could console yourself into recovery.
And, as if that wasn't good enough, I did get to see a rat on top of a cat on top of a dog today. That almost never happens!
Since it would be pretty hard to top something that fantastic, I won't even try.
Posted on Saturday, October 18th, 2008
Hello from San Francisco!
The Palace Hotel where I'm staying wants $17 in internet fees for me to post this entry, so I'm guessing it will have to be posted tomorrow. I am also guessing I will never again stay at The Palace Hotel. It may be a beautiful property with wonderful rooms and impeccable service... but I'm not going to be ripped off by a douchebag hotel that charges such an outrageous amount of money for something that I get for free when I stay at a hotel that costs half as much. Fuck The Palace Hotel. Fuck them up their greedy stupid asses.
This morning I met up with Kentucky Girl and her husband to explore Chinatown (again). Here's what I learned this time around... 1) Kentucky Girl likes to play with peckers. 2) Panda loves tea. 3) My new Hannah Montana singing pen is my most favoritest pen ever. No matter how many times I buy freshly-made fortune cookies, they're so damn good that it tastes like the first time all over again...
Good news for anybody looking for a low-interest housing loan... Washington Mutual has money to burn! Oh... wait a second...
After buying a couple bags of crack fortune cookies, we walked back towards Market St. where we saw this very cool sign for the "Hungry I" topless bar...
And then we ran across a Scientology protest at the TransAmerica Pyramid Building. The protesters were holding such signs as "Tom Cruise Scares Me" and "Join Scientology, Go Bat-Shit Crazy" and "Stop Scientology's Crimes." All the activists were wearing goofy masks, which kind of undermined whatever message they were going for (probably to protect their identity and avoid the consequences of Scientology's "Fair Game" policy), but that wasn't half as silly as protesting in the Financial District on a Saturday when hardly anybody was around...
For whatever reason, my leg was killing me by the time we got back to Pacific Place Centre, which required me to hobble back to my crummy hotel for drugs and a couple hours of napping. The good news is that the Oxycontin really helped in eliminating the excruciating pain. The bad news is that I spent the rest of the day drugged out. By the time Jester and Uncle Monkey Boy dropped by for a trip to Haight Street, I was feeling no pain at all. It was there that I got to see this very cool Obama painting on one of the buildings...
But that coolness paled in comparison to the big surprise that Foo-Diddy had in store for me... Hilly-Sue made it to Dave Francisco! This was such awesome news that we celebrated by going to a gourmet hot chocolate shop (which obviously stole my idea for Davebucks)...
Then we went to a bar in North Beach that had the most lethal Long Island Ice Teas I've ever tasted. The interaction of such heinous levels of alcohol coupled with the drugs I took had me so out of it that I barely noticed that Hilly was licking my nuts. But don't worry... they weren't peanuts, they were cashews...
Dave Francisco dinner was at "Joey and Eddies" next to Washington Square Park. It was a little pricey, but the pasta was cooked so perfectly that it was worth every penny. Their beautiful al-dente noodles were sublime, and just reinforced my belief that all these restaurants which continue to serve mushy, over-cooked pasta should be forced to close their doors. Oh how I love properly-cooked noodles!
In attendance were a fine bunch of people...
(from lower-left, clock-wise)...
Thanks so much to everybody who could make it for a terrific evening! (and a special thanks to Hilly for driving all the way up from L.A. and sharing her pictures with me, and Jester for scoping out restaurants and taking care of reservations and stuff).
This was such a great day. I really wish I didn't have to fly home in the morning.
Posted on Saturday, November 1st, 2008
No blogging tonight... makin' a costume...
Important Lesson Learned... Hot glue guns are evil and will destroy us all.
Posted on Sunday, November 2nd, 2008
It's Bullet Sunday from kinda-sunny Orlando the day after The Greatest Show On Earth... The Avitable's Halloween Party!
It was an amazing event and good times were had by all (some more than others, however). I'm already looking forward to next year!
• Neverwas! The theme for this year was "The Neverwas Fair" which was billed as a "Sideshow of The Forgotten." Hopefully Adam will post photos of all the amazing decorations that saturated his house, because it was too dark for me to get any. I did manage to find my "Missing!" poster, however...
This sign is the first thing you see as you approach the house.
I love chocolate pudding!
• Costume! When my original costume idea fell through because the stuff I ordered never came, I didn't have much time to come up with something new. Fortunately, as I was washing clothes one day, I took the Neverwas shirt that Avitable designed out of the dryer and had my costume idea...
"Murder Clown" by Adam Avitable
I think Adam himself said it best when he said "You've made the impossible, possible" — because creating the outfit was impossibly difficult. No fabric existed like what he had drawn, so everything had to be sewn. I also had the impossible task of trying to find all the right accessories like the blue hair, bloody white knife, and bloody dolly. It was a tremendous amount of last-minute work, but I was quite happy with the final result... even if I did scare myself silly every time I saw myself in the mirror...
Here I am with Shash... just before I murder her!
Here I am about to murder Miss Britt!
And here I am murdering Poppy!
Note to self: Do not have somebody attempt to murder you with Hilly around... she's no help at all.
• Tequila! There were so many great moments last night... too many to count (or remember, for that matter)... but one of my favorite that I got recorded was Sarah trying a tequila shot for the first time. Here's the "Before & After"...
Yep, that's about right! Tequila innocence lost!
The picture tells the story, but the best part was when she turned to Hilly afterwards and said "GAH! IS IT SUPPOSED TO TASTE LIKE
• The End! Since I had to get up at 6:00 and return my rental car to the airport, I stopped drinking at around 10:00pm and finally left The Avitable's house at 2:00am so I could rush back the the hotel and catch 3-1/2 hours sleep. I had already changed out of my costume earlier in the evening when I drove Hilly-Sue to the store on a beer run, but the makeup was still there. Frightening...
I'm a full 1/3 less scary without the wig on.
A huge thank you to Adam and Amy for such an amazing party again this year. Can't wait to see everybody again next Halloween!
I've posted some more pictures of the party in an extended entry, if anybody would care to take a look there...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Monday, November 3rd, 2008
I am not a fan of the Universal Studios theme park. On either coast.
Don't get me wrong, it's an entertaining place with plenty of fun stuff to do... but every time I visit I'm forever comparing things to Disney and usually find Universal to be lacking. So many of the attractions seem to be inferior copies of Disney rides, and it's difficult for me to ever get past that. The only time I find myself wanting to visit is when they add something new. Like Revenge of The Mummy ride when I was last here in 2004. Three years later, and they've added The Simpsons Ride in both Orlando and California parks, so here I am again...
Can we go to Krustyland? Can we go to Krustyland? Can we go to Krustyland?
The arrival of The Simpsons to Universal Studios is bittersweet.
On one hand, I love The Simpsons. I have been a rabid fan since day one (when they were a part of The Tracy Ulman Show), and am amazed that the show continues to pump out quality episodes after 20 years (despite a nasty drop in cleverness that plagued the show for a few years back around the ninth season).
On the other hand, I am positively hating the fact that Universal Studios closed Back To The Future: The Ride in order to put the new ride in its place. I can honestly say that BTTF:TR is one of my all-time favorite theme park attractions, and it's killing me that it no longer exists. It is the single best attraction ever to grace Universal Studios, brilliantly placing the rider into the Back To The Future films in a way that has yet to be duplicated. It is one of the rare instances where Universal copied Disney (the Star Tours ride from Star Wars) and improved upon it in every way.
A sad reminder... the BTTF DeLorean put in the corner.
So... was The Simpsons Ride worth such a big loss?
It's a good ride, but a deeply flawed and shallow imitation of Back To The Future: The Ride which preceded it.
For one thing, they didn't even bother to do a decent job of re-themeing the old BTTF:TR building. They literally just slapped some paint and a few facade pieces on and that's all. It's meant to be a reproduction of "Krustyland" (the them park de jour of The Simpsons' world) which is a genius concept, but pathetically implemented. The only unique feature is the giant "Krusty head" you walk through to enter the attraction. Everything else is just tacked-on lameness that screams "cheap-ass" from top to bottom.
THIS is supposed to be "Krustyland"? Boring, boring, boring.
The otherwise boring queue area is made entertaining because they are playing classic moments from The Simpsons interspersed with Simpsons characters waiting in line with you on television screens. If you love The Simpsons, the newly produced cartoon footage alone is worth the trip (including a heartbreaking cameo by a Simpsonized "Doc Brown" from BTTF:TR complete with the voice of Christopher Lloyd!). They also have posters hanging up which are advertising other "Krustyland" attractions, but it's such a cheap attempt at "atmosphere" that I wondered why they bothered. I mean, seriously, POSTERS?!? Avitable put more effort into themeing his halloween party...
Captain Dinosaur's Pirate Rip-Off, "The ride so old it should be extinct!"
Eventually you make your way into the "holding area" (which formerly held cool props from the Back To The Future movies and had the story set-up with Doc Brown and Biff for the attraction). They play more clever new animated Simpsons ride footage here to put you into the story while you wait, but it pales in comparison to the immersive experience of the "Institute of Future Technology" previously had. After the previous riders vacate, the doors open and you enter the ride itself. Not surprisingly, very little has been done to re-theme the old BTTF:TR eight-seater custom DeLoreans... just some paint and tacky add-ons to make it barely resemble some kind of carnival ride car. Very lame.
Once in your seat with seven of your closest friends, the car elevates into the IMAX dome theater and the show begins.
And here's where everything takes a nose-dive into theme park ride mediocrity.
The footage placing you "in the ride" with The Simpsons characters is NOT ANIMATED!! It's computer-rendered in
The Simpsons should never be rendered in
Nifty Lisa toy photo taken from Sërch's photo stream on Flickr.
Now, granted, from a technical standpoint it is far, far easier to do the ride in
So, to re-cap... what began as an utterly genius ride with a flawlessly themed experience in Back To The Future: The Ride has been diminished to a flagrant display of tacky cheapness that not for one minute makes you feel as though you are a part of The Simpsons universe. It's a travesty unparalleled in theme park history, and that's saying a lot (Country Bear Jamboree anybody?).
Oh well. Life goes on, I guess. If you're interested, Orlando United has an excellent write-up (with far better pictures).
But still... it's a darn shame that one of the few unique gems in Universal Studios is gone. What rides are we left with?
Now, to be fair, there are other attractions here... but it's mostly kiddie rides that I can't ride (Barney the purple dinosaur lives on!) and theatrical shows that aren't really rides at all (besides, they're badly dated... Twister? Blues Brothers? Fear Factor? Beetlejuice? Holy crap. Way to stay cutting-edge, people!) I guess Disney has a big advantage here, because their animated films are instant classics and pretty much timeless... but still. Surely there are newer properties they can pick to keep the park contemporary?
Well, if their future-plans are any indication, the answer would be "no." Looks like we are getting another Disney retread... this time a blatant rip-off of Disney's Hollywood Studios' Rockin' Roller Coaster: Starring Aerosmith called "Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit!" There's definitely innovation to the idea (near-miss encounters with other cars on the track and video recording so you can YouTube your ride) but could we please... please... get something fucking original for this park? Who is running this place that they just don't get it?
Luckily, Universal's sister-park, Islands of Adventure doesn't suffer the same failings that cripple Universal Studios. It's pretty much a coaster park and compares more to Six Flags than Disney. Rides are, for the most part, very well done (The Incredible Hulk Coaster is my favorite roller coaster ever!). Assured of drawing record crowds when it opens in 2010, Islands of Adventure will be home to a "theme park within a theme park" with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Oh great... another reason to come back in two years!
Posted on Tuesday, November 25th, 2008
I end up in the wilds of Wisconsin at least twice every year. There are far worse places to end up, because I just love the people here. When this comes up in conversation, it's usually attributed to "Midwest Values" which conjures up images of rural farmers living off the land and being generally decent, salt-of-the-earth kind of folk. Still others attribute it to "Christian values" which may also be true... but I hasten to point out that Wisconsin has traditionally voted as a Blue State and is not an official part of Jesusland. I have no idea what makes the people so warm and friendly, they just are. Even in larger cities like Milwaukee, there is a different vibe as to how you're addressed and treated... even as a "foreigner."
When visiting the rural areas of the state, there are many little oddities and eccentricities one must adapt to. Here are some of my favorites...
CHEESE. Wisconsin is known as "America's Dairyland," and they take this title very seriously. Particularly when it comes to cheese. Wisconsin makes 25% of all US cheese, and produces some of the finest you'll find anywhere. And they know it. Cheese is dumped on everything, probably because it's abundant and delicious. As you can imagine, this makes me very happy, because cheese is one of my favorite foods. As a Pacific Northwesterner, my favorite cheese is Tillamook from Oregon. As a world traveler, my favorite international cheeses come from France and The Netherlands. That being said, my favorite place to eat cheese is Wisconsin. The white cheddar here is heavenly.
MEAT. Wisconsin natives love their meat, and people who don't eat meat are a complete enigma to them. I have numerous stories of being a vegetarian trapped in Wisconsin, but it always boils down to complete and total confusion over what to do with somebody who doesn't eat meat. Yesterday I went to Culver's (a large restaurant chain throughout the Midwest) and asked if they had a veggie burger (I always do, just in case they've added one since the last time I've eaten there). The kid taking my order was new, and spent a good two minutes looking over all the electronic buttons on his cash register before calling over a manager for help. When the manager arrived, I asked him if they had a veggie burger, and his response was to ask if I was meaning a hamburger without a bun. The concept of a burger not made from meat is completely outside their ability to grasp. And it's not just that Wisconsin natives like meat... they can't get enough of it. You'll regularly find menus which feature meats accessorized with other meats. Beef stuffed with turkey and wrapped with bacon, for example. If you're lucky, it will be served covered in cheese sauce.
FISH FRY. Don't even think about trying to get anything except fried fish on a Friday night at any local Wisconsin restaurant. One time I accidentally went to a "home cookin'" eatery on a Friday night because I didn't know any better. When I explained I was vegetarian, my waitress said "no problem," and offered to give me a baked potato with my fish. When I asked if I could have a grilled cheese sandwich instead, I was asked what kind of fish I wanted with it. Your only hope to avoiding fish is to go to McDonalds or Culvers, which will be selling fish sandwiches like crazy, but will still be willing to sell you non-fish alternatives.
DIALECT. Speech patterns in 'Scansin are charming, to say the least. Almost Sarah Palinesque, but with intelligence and in complete sentences. The state's proximity to Canada also insures that a liberal dose of "eh?" will be sprinkled in your conversation the further north you go. Heavy German ancestry in the area gives many areas of the state a distinctly German slant in both diction and pronunciation. The "th" sound is a rarity, and gets changed to either "t" or "d"... particularly in rural areas. Most difficult of all though is the speed at which they speak here. There is no punctuation or pauses when a Wisconsonian is talking. "Hey-der-Dafe-yoos-wan-anudder-soda-und-a-braht?" roughly translates to "Hey there, Dave! Would you care for another carbonated beverage and perhaps a bratwurst? Swearing is also a rarity. When somebody gets really mad, you might get a "gosh-darn" or a "guldarnit" out of them, but it's practically unheard of to drop an f-bomb in mixed company. But most charming of all is that there is no "yes" in Wisconsin. Depending on where you're at, you'll get a "uff-dah!" or "hey-yah!" or "yah-hey!" or "you-betcha!" or "okay-den!" or "okey-dokey!" or "oh-yah!" or even "yah-ain't-wrong!" but rarely a simple "yes."
GREEN BAY PACKERS. There is no other football team on earth except the Green Bay Packers in all of Wisconsin. You are either a die-hard Packers fan or dead. People paint their houses and cars in Packers green-and-gold. Packers flags fly everywhere. On game days, everybody wears Packers clothing. After my first two trips to Wisconsin, I ended up buying a Favre* jersey and Packers sweatshirt as urban camouflage. At one point, I had joked with a friend here that I was going to go to work wearing a jersey from a rival team (and next-door neighbor) Minnesota Vikings or the Chicago Bears. "Dats-not-funny-der-Dafe-yoos-gonna-get-yoos-kilt!" To this day I can't tell if they were joking or not. But since death is something I'm trying to avoid just now, I've played it safe and stuck with green-and-gold.
* Bret Favre (legendary quarterback) was once revered as a demi-god around these parts, but was traded to the New York Jets after Green Bay decided to part ways with him when he came out of retirement. Since he no longer plays for the Packers, people here remember him with fondness, but assume he died since he's not on the team anymore.
FASHION. Wisconsin is by no means backwards when it comes to trends and fashion. People here are pretty much like people everywhere when it comes to that kind of stuff. However, the proportion of ladies stuck in the 80's seems to be much higher in Wisconsin than the national average. Roller bangs... poofy bangs... feathered hair... LEG WARMERS(?)... and other retro stylings pop up with surprising regularity. Or maybe it's just that I notice them more when I'm here. I dunno. In any event, I don't mind the 80's flashbacks I get while visiting... I liked the 80's.
FROZEN CUSTARD. I have no idea why frozen custard has not obtain rabid popularity outside of the Midwest, because it's frackin' amazing. Wisonsonians live and die by the stuff, and can be categorized by their favorite place to buy it. The big two are Culver's and Kopp's... but there are dozens of local favorites like Gillies and Leon's, which litter the landscape. I won't be satisfied until I've tried them all.
PATRIOTISM. American pride runs deep in Wisconsin, and not just as a result of 9-11 or the so-called "war on terror." They've always been deeply patriotic people, and not in a tacky or artificial way like you see in so many places now. When they support the troops here, it's not just because it's the trendy thing to do... they mean it. But what really makes me appreciate Wisconsin patriotism comes from my devotion to MIA/POW awareness issues. I see more MIA/POW flags flying in Wisconsin than I see anywhere else, and it gladdens my heart. There are several good organizations here making sure that we Never Forget, and I love them for that. This ain't America's heartland for nothing.
HARLEY-DAVIDSON. There are no other motorcycles. If you ain't riding a Hog in Wisconsin, you ain't ridin' shit. I've toured the remarkable Harley-Davidson Powertrain Operations Factory in Wauwatosa more times than I can count.
And that's just a few of my favorite Wisconsin eccentricities that makes me enjoy visiting here so much.
Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for cheese.
Posted on Friday, November 28th, 2008
My past two days...
Flight takes off, circles for 25 minutes, goes back to Seattle.
Flight takes off, circles for 25 minutes, goes back to Seattle.
"Yes. Because a slice of dead turkey is worth crashing into the runway and dying in a ball of fire."
(my response to a woman who's pissed now that her Thanksgiving plans are ruined because they won't land the plane)
Wait for suitcase.
Wait for hotel shuttle.
Check in to hotel.
(the hotel desk clerk, after I accidentally hand over my Hard Rock Pin Club Card instead of my credit card)
Take off pants.
Put on pants.
1:00am veggie burger at Denny's
"No... Yes... Maybe... Maybe half-full, thanks."
(me, after I'm asked if I want a refill on my beverage)
Back to airport.
Qdoba breakfast burrito.
"Whatever you call it, there's no cheese. If you want cheese on it, you'll have to pay extra."
(what I'm told when I say you can't call it a burrito unless it has cheese on it)
"... and yes, those are tea bags hanging on the door, but please... no teabagging in the lavatory."
(our flight attendant, who mentioned "teabagging" three times in his pre-flight speech)
Home at last.
Posted on Saturday, November 29th, 2008
I'm down to just two more trips 'til the end of the year.
Hopefully none of them will involve the horrible troubles I had on my last trip, or I might just have to go stick my head in the microwave and punch "Max Defrost."
Given how completely worn out I am by traveling, I'm trying very hard to clear the month of January so I can just stay home. I was secretly hoping to clear at least half of February as well, but I've already got two trips scheduled in there, so that was just a pipe dream. Then March is my birthday. A time when I prefer to be out of the country so that my friends and family will forget about it. I have no problem acknowledging my birthday, but I don't believe in celebrating it. Last year I went to Oslo and Göteborg so I could hang out with Karla and Göran... this year I have no idea where I will feel like going.
Maybe it's finally time to head to Australia & New Zealand?
Which is not quite as appealing as it used to be now that the Hard Rock Cafes in Sydney, Melbourne, and Queenstown have been closed. Only one lone cafe remains at Surfer's Paradise. Probably should visit that one before it's gone too.
But Australia is such a long flight away.
Maybe it will just be a quick flight to Tijuana.
Except the Tijuana Hard Rock Cafe is closed as well, so I'd have to find something else to do there.
Or I could just ask everybody for suggestions and pull the location for my birthday escape out of a hat...
Posted on Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008
I'm going to Walt Disney World!
Though I'd imagine there will be a few hours of big-happy-fun-time in there somewhere.
Posted on Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008
Today went pretty much as planned. Seattle to Detroit, Detroit to Orlando, then Disney's (not so) Magical (not so) Express to Walt Disney World. Easy.
Yesterday? Not so much. Horizon Air cut the two most important connecting flights for Wenatchee travelers, which means an overnight stay in Seattle... coming and going. They've since realized they were dumbasses and will reinstate the early departure and late return flights, but not until January 5th. In the meanwhile, I have a 6:45pm flight the night before.
At first, everything was fine. There was an announcement that the inbound plane was on time and would be arriving in 20 minutes. But it never came. I checked the flight data on my iPhone and saw that the flight was showing up over Moses Lake, an hour away in the wrong direction. I just assumed it's a mistake, then went back to my magazine.
Ten minutes pass.
Still no plane, still no announcement.
iPhone still shows the plane in Moses Lake.
After another ten minutes, nothing has changed, so I get up to find out what the heck is going on.
And the announcement finally comes. The plane had to make an emergency landing in Moses Lake. The passengers will be bussed to Wenatchee, and all remaining flights for the day have been cancelled.
Apparently, there were serious mechanical difficulties, and they wanted to wait to make an announcement after they knew if the plane had crashed or not. Which is very considerate for the people waiting to meet inbound passengers, but a big waste of time for those waiting to fly out.
So now I have to drive over the mountain passes in the fog and rain. At night.
Which wasn't even the worst part, because I made it to my Seattle airport hotel without incident.
The worst part was waking up to find that the entire hotel had no running water.
Sucks to be me.
But I'm at Walt Disney World now. All safe and sound.
And waiting for my luggage to "magically" arrive from the "express" which apparently takes three hours.
Posted on Thursday, December 4th, 2008
Today I got to spend some time at Walt Disney World's "Animal Kingdom."
It's probably my least favorite of the four parks here. Mostly because there just isn't very many cool rides to be found. You've got "Expedition Everest"... and that's just about it. Still, it's fun to go on the Harambe Kilimanjaro Safari every once in a while to see what animals you can spot. Or to wander around the nature trails they have because you're sure to see some nifty animal antics along the way. And I always like visiting Conservation Station so I can see if any cool new jungle frogs are on display.
Good times. Good times.
As an interesting aside, while I was waiting in line to grab a veggie burger for lunch, I noticed the woman ahead of me had a number of buttons pinned to the strap on her purse... all of them sporting anti-gay rhetoric. It was the usual homophobic dumbassery, like "MARRIAGE IS BETWEEN ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN!" and "SAME SEX MARRIAGE JUST AIN'T RIGHT!" and "GAY IS NOT OKAY IN OUR SCHOOLS!"
As I was standing there burning a hole into the back of her empty head with my mind, I surmised that she would probably be equally happy to get rid of the gays working at Walt Disney World... in which case they'd have to shut it the fuck down. Why doesn't she take her hate-promoting ass over to "The Holy Land Experience?" Given the crazy-ass shit TBN puts on their network, they'd probably welcome this overtly discriminatory behavior at their theme park.
I wonder what the odds are that her three kids will be able to escape from this antiquated bigot mindset?
I wonder what the odds are that one of her three kids is gay?
I wonder if it would make a difference?
Posted on Friday, December 5th, 2008
Today is Walt Disney's birthday, though they didn't really do anything to celebrate it here in Walt Disney World. This is odd to me for some reason. They seem to celebrate everything else.
I had some free time before working this morning, so I went to The Magic Kingdom to goof around. After I was done with work, I wandered over to Epcot for a few hours... then back to The Magic Kingdom because I was able to get into the "Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party" event going on. I didn't care much for the festivities, but I did want to get my picture taken with Mickey Mouse before I leave, and this seemed as good a time as any...
Mickey was a real class act... shaking my hand before posing for pictures and everything.
Minnie was nowhere to be found.
Neither was Goofy.
I'm not saying they're off fooling around together, but it sure wouldn't surprise me.
Posted on Saturday, December 6th, 2008
Today I made time to hang out at Disney Studios here at Walt Disney World. This park doesn't have a heck of a lot going on (except the Tower of Terror), so I'll pick five things.
#1... Somebody should tell the Disney Parks Division that the Disney ABC Television Division canceled Pushing Daisies, because there are still posters up here. I remember the same thing happening when my favorite show ever to air on television (Jeremy Piven's Cupid) had been canceled, but posters were still advertising it in Disney World. Kind of lame. And, given how much I love Pushing Daisies, kind of painful too...
#2... Somebody needs to replace the dead props on the backlot tour. When the highlight of your collection is two fiberglass planes from the movie Pearl Harbor that are falling apart, you've got problems. Some of the props just need maintenance, badly. Like poor Max from Flight of The Navigator. He's supposed to be a cool chrome silver, but look at him...
#3... The newest "ride" at the park is "Toy Story Midway Mania" which is kind of cool. You zip around in cars with your pop-gun playing various arcade games. The way they manage to tie your gun to the computer-generated paint splats, rings, and other projectiles is very well done. The wait is regularly 90 minutes or more, so this should be your first Fast-Pass destination of the day...
#4... This is the park where you get to meet my favorite Pixar character, Sully, from Monsters, Inc. IF he's not out on a parade float somewhere...
#5... The big attraction here for the holidays is the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights. Jennings Osborne from Little Rock, Arkansas, used to decorate his house with millions of lights for the holidays, but his neighbors sued to have them shut down (the story is here). When the people at Disney World found out about it, they contacted him and had the lights moved to the "Streets of America" section of Disney Studios so millions of people could enjoy them...
And that's all she wrote. Tomorrow is my last day.
Posted on Sunday, December 7th, 2008
A sad Bullet Sunday, as I bid adieu to Florida.
It's my last day in The Happiest Place on Earth. And I have no internet here at Disney's Wilderness Lodge. I can't figure out how this could be the happiest place on earth if there's no internet. Hopefully this will all be sorted out in the morning, because I can't post this entry from my iPhone.
• Epcot! I saved the best for last, because today was the one day that I didn't have any work scheduled. To me, "the best" is Epcot, because there is so much there I like to see and do (plus it has Soarin' and Mission: SPACE in it, my two favorite rides after Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom). Lucky for me there were flawless blue skies as I was walking around World Showcase...
Unluckily for me there was a cold wind blowing all day long. By dusk, it was positively cold out, and I ended up having to buy a new Mickey Mouse hoodie to stay warm. I hate it when that happens.
• Italy! This is the second time that being at Epcot has been a sad experience...
It reminded me of a trip to Orlando I was taking on the day it had been reported that the Princess of Wales had been in a car accident in Paris. I boarded the plane hearing only conflicting reports and not knowing whether she was dead or alive.
Until I landed, of course, because the airport was filled with the sad news that Diana had not survived.But it didn't really sink in until I was at Disney's United Kingdom Pavilion at Epcot the next day. Since the attraction is literally built and staffed to be a piece of the UK, it was almost like being there. The British workers were devastated. There were flowers everywhere. Pictures of Lady Di were displayed in all the shops. The park was crowded but nobody was speaking. Even kids who are usually running around going nuts were quiet and restrained.
It was a profoundly sad experience visiting the "Happiest Place on Earth" yet being surrounded with sorrow.
As I walked through the Italy Pavilion, I saw the Dodges Palace replica and the Campanile di San Marco (bell tower) and was reminded about the terrible flooding happening in Venice back in the "real" Italy. From what I can gather, the city will be getting back to normal soon... I certainly hope so, because nothing at Epcot can compare to the real thing...
• China! When I was in the "real" China, I went to visit the Temple of Good Harvest, only to discover it was closed. The Epcot version is probably as close as I'll get to be able to go inside of it. This kind of bums me out, but it's better than nothing. And, unlike the original in Beijing, this one has a movie inside!
• Mexico! In order to promote eating at the Epcot restaurants, Disney has a package where you get guaranteed seating at their "Candlelight Processional Concert" when you purchase a dining package. The one I got was for the "San Angel Inn" at the Mexico Pavilion. Once I saw the menu, I was disappointed that there wasn't a single vegetarian item on it, but the waiter tossed out some options for me, which was very cool. I had the cheese enchiladas in a verde sauce and they were EXCELLENT. Seriously, one of the best Mexican meals I have ever had. I love happy surprises like this. I guess Disney really IS a magical place after all...
• Candlelight! This time of year, Disney parks are overrun with Christmas. But not "real" Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus... it's the "non-religious" Christmas filled with candy canes, Christmas trees, and Santa Claus. It's all very politically correct, but I guess that's what it has to be in order to appeal to the widest possible audience. The place that "real" Christmas comes into play is the Candlelight Processional Concert, which is where a guest narrator tells the story of Jesus in-between a choir and orchestra playing religious Christmas music. I'm not a Christian and don't celebrate Christmas, but enjoyed the festivities just as I would when visiting any foreign culture. It was a pretty good show, and a fantastic experience. If you're ever in Epcot during the holidays, I highly recommend it... regardless of your religious affiliation...
And thus ends my Disney Holiday. I am not looking forward to the trip home tomorrow, but at least it's a direct flight!
Posted on Monday, December 8th, 2008
My flight from Orlando to Seattle was awful. I felt sick the entire way. I thought dinner would make me feel better, but now I feel even worse. Guess those 46 emails will have to wait until tomorrow after I drive the three long hours home.
In the meanwhile, I'll be dying from an overdose of Benadryl now...
Posted on Wednesday, December 17th, 2008
Blargh. What a long and horrifying day.
Winter travel is not for the faint of heart. It almost always comes with delays, cancelations, unexpected problems, and even danger. I accept this, because I've been conditioned to expect things to go wrong when I travel. This way, I'm not disappointed when shit happens. In the event that everything goes right, then that's an unexpected surprise I can be happy about.
Today there were more than a few upset people... and even one girl who was screaming, crying, and acting generally stupid because of problems going on. By the time she got her cell phone out, handed it to the gate agent, and said "MY DADDY WANTS TO TALK TO YOU" I was very much amused. What? Her daddy has the ability to bend time and space? Shit happened... get over it and move on! Otherwise, do everybody a favor and DON'T TRAVEL IN THE WINTER MONTHS IF THIS KIND OF STUFF FREAKS YOU OUT! It's pretty much inevitable.
On my final flight, I was sat next to a bitch who thinks rules don't apply to her. When they announced for us to turn off all electrical devices for take-off and landing, she felt this obviously meant everybody else. I know this because she fired up her iPod Touch and watched movies and listened to music for the entire trip... from the minute we left the gate right up until the minute we parked. And it wasn't like she didn't understand it was wrong, because she did her best to hide it from the flight attendant every time they walked through the cabin...
Well guess what, you piece of shit? You are nobody special. You have to follow the rules just like everybody else. And one day, when you sit next to a serial killer who thinks that trash like you shouldn't be fucking shit up for the rest of us, I will laugh my ass off when you're found dead in the gutter with that iPod shoved up your stupid ass.
I hate people today.
Probably because I'm hungry. I managed to grab breakfast, but didn't have time for anything else. By the time I got to my hotel, the restaurant had closed. Rummaging through my backpack and suitcase, I managed to find dinner...
A smashed up Rice Krispies Treat I got when I was in Wisconsin, and an old package of smoked almonds I didn't even know I had. Yum. I'm sitting here typing this while eating "dinner" and drinking a complimentary bottle of water. Yes, you read that right, a complimentary bottle of water.
Do you know how often you can find a hotel offering complimentary bottled water?
And, speaking of score... as I was waiting at the airport for my first of three flights for today, I happened to notice that the iTunes Music Store had just added Sim City!...
Sweet! This is one of my favorite games from back in the day when I actually had time to play video games. I was intrigued. $9.99 is a lot for a mobile game, and I wondered just how watered down it would be to fit on the iPhone. It's a pretty complicated game, so what would they take out? I was dubious about spending $9.99 to find out, but then I started browsing the screen snapshots and saw this...
OMG! THEY HAVE THE ALIEN INVASION?!?
That's all I needed to know! I bought the game and started playing right away (welcome to New Dave City!). From what I can tell, everything I remember is there and better than ever. There's even animated bits, like the smog from my oil-burning power plant...
As I made my way through menu after menu... amazed at how faithful the game was to the original... I noticed that the World Landmarks are even there for you to build! Awesome! As I was paging through the options, I saw they had Neuschwanstein Castle. I thought this was kind of cool, because I've actually been there. So I built it...
And then I noticed that I've been to a lot of the World Monuments in the game. Most of them in fact...
My mission is now clear. I need to finish off this list! A trip to Australia would get me the Sydney Opera House and the Melbourne Cricket Grounds. Moscow for St. Basil's. India for the Taj Mahal. And, if by "Daibutu" they mean "Daibutsu"... as in the famous Kamakura Daibutsu in Japan... then my list is complete!
At least I now know where my next vacations should be.
I have to get up for work in four hours. Yet another sleepless night.
Posted on Thursday, December 18th, 2008
One of my guilty pleasures is waiting up on Saturdays until the latest batch of postcards at PostSecret are posted. This amazing site, which started out as an art project, is now a brilliant microcosm of the secret lives that people are living. Originally, artist Frank Warren passed out a bunch of postcards asking people to tell an anonymous secret about themselves and mail it in for his experiment. After the last of the postcards had been handed out, he thought that was the end of it... but the postcards kept coming. Word had spread about what he was doing, and soon postcards were pouring in by the thousands.
Some of the secrets are shocking. Others are funny. Many are quite sad. A few are amazingly optimistic and hopeful. All of them are interesting. Though I do think a good portion of them are not true. People try to make up these extravagant secrets to assure themselves of getting their postcard printed. But, even then, it's still an interesting project.
Since I was working in the Fayetteville area today, I headed up to Bentonville, Arkansas (home of Wal-Mart!) so I could attend a PostSecret exhibit at the temporary location for the Crystal Bridges Museum at "The Massey"...
My hat is off to the brilliant organizer of this event. They had a small space to work with, so they chose a collection of small items... postcards... to fill up the space and make a really satisfying exhibit. Many of the postcards are displayed on glass panels, allowing you to see both sides of some of the cards...
The amazing thing is that most all of the postcards are one-of-a-kind originals that are works of art in their own right. Some of them are quite extravagant, but others are just cool for the simplicity of their message...
If you are in the area, the exhibit is definitely worth a visit, and is running through February 1st. Information can be found at the official web site. In March, the exhibit will move to California.
In the second room of The Massey, they had an exhibit about the construction of the new "Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art" opening in 2010 in Bentonville. The plan for the building is amazing...
Hopefully I'll be able to see it one day after it has been completed.
After the exhibit I had some errands to run for work, and saw two things which I found interesting.
The first was this... which probably doesn't mean what I think it does...
... but wouldn't it be cool if it did?
The second makes no fucking sense at all...
"The Bible was the most quoted Book by our founders and is now the most censored Book in America"
Given that it's also the most popular book in America, I hope you can forgive me for saying you're full of shit.
How in the hell is a book you can buy almost anywhere... a book which has thousands upon thousands of buildings dedicated to its teachings... a book that the majority of Americans use as the backbone of their religion... be censored?
Stupid shit like this pisses me off, and only goes to show that these idiots have no fucking clue about how moronic they sound when they cry foul under the guise of faux-persecution. People need to get it through their heads that just because we have a separation of church and State in this country doesn't mean that you're persecuted or censored! It's not like people are having to meet in secret hideaways at midnight to discuss The Bible. All statements to the contrary are just absurd.
People have different beliefs in this country. Such diversity is the very foundation of the freedoms we enjoy. As such, our government must represent all the people... not just a section of it.
Forcing your beliefs on other people is where the real persecution would lay... so that's why you can't teach The Bible in public schools and what-not. You are still perfectly free to teach it at home... or your house or worship... or whatever private venue you choose... so claiming censorship is positively stupid. Nobody sends in the secret police to arrest you if you crack open The Bible in your own home or send your kids to Catholic School or attend worship at your synagogue or hold a Christian sing-along in your church or whatever. So stop playing the victim! The only people buying this bullshit is other whack-jobs who don't understand what real censorship and persecution actually is.
As you can tell, I am so weeping for the oppressed majority.
Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2008
The first thing I did this morning was grab my iPhone to see what the weather was like. The second thing I did was gouge my eye with a coat hanger while gathering my clothes. The fancy hotel I was in doesn't have a bar for the coat hangers to hang on, but instead has rows of hooks that fling the hangers into your face when you pull on them. My eye wasn't bleeding, but hurt like hell. The pain was so bad that I couldn't even attempt to put in a contact lens, so I took a magic Oxycontin pain pill instead.
It had been overcast, foggy, rainy, and generally crappy in Fayetteville my entire time there, and I was worried about my flight getting out. Much to my surprise, the weather was beautiful. Sunny skies and all that.
Unfortunately, the rest of the country was not so lucky.
Because of delays elsewhere, the inbound flight was running two hours late. Since my layover in Minneapolis was only 1 hour, this was not a good thing. When I got to the airport, I was pretty much told that there was no way to get me to Washington State today. The best they could do was to put me up in a hotel in Minneapolis, reserve space on a flight there, and let them figure it out. Of course, Minneapolis is projected to get heavy snows dumped on them tomorrow, so there are no guarantees. And since Seattle is getting hit with snow as well, who knows if I will ever get home.
Once I got to Minneapolis, however, things started looking up...
And who knows what tomorrow will bring?
Right now I'm just going to take more drugs and try and get some sleep.
Posted on Saturday, December 20th, 2008
Several years ago, I was at our small airport getting in line for security when I saw a soldier saying goodbye to his wife and young daughter. Both the wife and daughter were crying, but for very different reasons. The wife was crying because her husband was going away to do a very dangerous job from which he might not return. The daughter was crying because she was confused by what was happening. The soldier was not crying, but instead doing his best to comfort his family as he said goodbye. It was a heart-wrenching sight to behold, and I had an instant admiration and respect for this guy who was holding it together under conditions where even the strongest of men would break down in tears.
Smiling and waving goodbye to his wife and daughter who were across the room, the soldier walked through the metal detector and handed his boarding pass to the TSA Agent on the other side. I was next in line and followed him through. As we were waiting for our stuff to exit the X-ray machine, the soldier dropped his boarding pass but didn't seem to notice. I picked it up, and said "excuse me, you dropped this" as I handed it back to him. It was then I saw why he had dropped it... his hands were shaking. He said a quick thanks before gathering his gear and moving on.
It was a moment that kind of put it all into perspective for me.
So now, when I see people losing their shit because their flight has been delayed or canceled or whatever... it's pretty hard for me to be sympathetic when I think about a soldier who managed to keep his shit together as he was leaving his family to travel somewhere far from home where he might die.
Tonight as I was waiting to see if my flight would get out of Seattle (spoiler alert: it didn't) I saw plenty of people being complete asstards because their vacation and/or holiday had been ruined. There's crying. There's screaming. There's yelling. There's all kinds of dumbassery from people being generally stupid.
All when they should be thankful just to be alive and safe.
Heaven knows I try to be.
And tomorrow I try again.
Posted on Sunday, December 21st, 2008
It's Bullet Sunday from the insanity of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport!
• Success. When it comes to travel, things going right is what's SUPPOSED to happen and doesn't really tell you much about a company. It's when things go wrong that you find out what they're made of. How they handle problems and the way they treat their customers is everything you really need to know. For the most part, Alaska/Horizon Air has been pretty good in dealing with an unprecedented weather situation that you can never really be prepared for. They have a genuinely caring, hard-working bunch of employees that are working their asses off against a never-ending tide of very upset people. This cannot be easy, and is truly a testament to the company philosophy that has made Alaska/Horizon Air such a huge part of my travel plans for decades. I consider myself extremely fortunate that they are "my local airline," and happy to keep flying with them.
• Failure. Where Alaska/Horizon fails... and fails badly... is in organization and communication. There have been several incidents that boggle my mind, and has me wondering just how people in charge thought they were Doing The Right Thing. As I said in my previous entry, there's no point screaming and getting upset at the airport... but I have no problem doing that in my blog!
• Redial. Speaking of auto-redial, it is pathetic... PATHETIC that the iPhone doesn't seem to have this most basic of calling functions. Hopefully it will be added soon via an update or third-party application.
• Outsourced. Last year, a movie came out with the very timely topic of outsourcing. In the film, a Seattle call center manager, Todd Anderson, has his entire department outsourced to India, and ends up having to travel there so he can train his replacement. The trailer looked funny, so I put it on a list of movies I wanted to see...
But then I was reading a review of Outsourced in the Seattle P.I. where it was just savaged. The reviewer Bill White hated the film. He made it sound highly offensive to Indian culture for the sake of laughs, which I hate, so I ended up skipping it altogether. Turns out this was a mistake. I ended up renting Outsourced for my iPhone on this trip and liked it quite a lot. All of the criticism from the Seattle P.I. review was entirely unjustified. White called the lead actor Josh Hamilton "aggravatingly nondescript," but that was the entire point of his everyman character! White said the film "vulgarized the sacred sex manual, the Kama Sutra," but it absolutely did not! I thought the film was great in communicating the cultural differences between our countries in an entertaining way and, if anything, made more fun of us here in the USA than India. Sure there's some stereotypical humor in there, but it's on BOTH sides! As Todd becomes more and more adjusted to Indian life and starts to embrace his new surroundings, you get a wonderful taste of the culture, and can appreciate the country through his eyes. It doesn't hurt that his love-interest (played by Ayesha Dharker) is freakin' adorable...
And I love the relationship between Todd and his "replacement" Puro (played by Asif Basra), which was pretty funny...
All-in-all, a wonderful film that I regret having missed on the big screen. The cinematography of India (including the wonderful Holi Festival of Color) begs to be seen big. I guess that will teach me to trust a crappy review over my gut instinct when it comes to picking what movies I see in the theater.
And now, since I've given up getting home until after the 25th, it's time for Wii Bowling!
Posted on Monday, December 22nd, 2008
Annnnnnd.... still stuck.
After spending the entire day trying to get through to the airline, I finally managed. Everything at Horizon Air is sold out through the 24th. I can't get to the airport on the 25th. I finally got confirmed on a flight on the 26th.
Today I looked at taking a train or bus, but that's a no-go as well...
And I'm tired of worrying about it, so I'm staying put.
There's plenty of Jägermeister and a Wii... what else do I need?
Posted on Friday, December 26th, 2008
While I was at SeaTac airport waiting for my flight, they announced that there was marginal weather in Wenatchee, and we may have to turn around and come back to Seattle if the pilot couldn't see the runway. After a week of being unable to get home, I really didn't want to go through that again, so I was pretty bummed out.
As I was looking for a seat, I noticed a guy praying the rosary, which I found a little strange because he was kind of young, and I didn't know that Catholics really did much of that outside of church anymore. Not that I was complaining... every little bit helps in these situations... yet it still seemed odd to me.
But then I noticed that he was a priest, which explained everything.
After two more warnings about the weather getting worse and several annoying delays because Horizon Air was understaffed and trying to cram too many flights through a single gate, we boarded the plane. At which time we got even more warnings about weather problems in Wenatchee. But there was a priest on-board, so it's not like I could scream " GAAAAAH! NO SHIT! JUST FLY THE FUCKING PLANE, DAMMIT!!!"
And yet... we landed without incident. The runway was perfectly clear.
If I would have known having a priest on-board was the answer, I would have joined up last week...
Of course, I wouldn't be satisfied with just being a priest, I'd have to fulfill my ambition of becoming Pope...
Except I don't think I would have room for my pope hat on the plane, which explains why the Pope never flies commercial.
Oh well. I'm home now.
For a month.