Posted on Sunday, January 8th, 2017
There's hope for 2017, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• WALL! And so now The American People are going to have to pay for President Pussy-Grabber's idiotic Mexico border wall. As if there were ever any doubt. Can I just have the $25 instead? Giving everybody in the US $25 would be just as effective as this HYSTERICAL LEVEL OF DUMBFUCKERY would be in protecting the country. Look, it's not going to work. It's not going to stop drugs. It's not going to stop illegal immigration. And it's FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE TO BUILD THIS BULLSHIT IN THE FIRST PLACE... JUST ASK ANY ARCHITECT! — And Trump's 8 Billion price tag is a joke. It's going to run billions over that in costs AND EVERYBODY KNOWS IT. And the price doesn't even include the outrageous cost of maintaining such a wall... which is BILLIONS more. This is absolutely one of the most stupid fucking things I have ever heard of. It's a security blanket for total morons, and we're all going to have to pay the price. And if you honestly believe that Mexico is going to reimburse us for the final cost of something that doesn't even work? You need a serious reality check.
• Home! I'm a big fan of unique houses, and just when I think I've seen it all, something cool like this comes along...
Yeah... I'd have figured out a way to have a bathroom up there, but other than that? What an awesome place to call home!
• LARSENNNNNNN! I head to Antarctica for a photography expedition in 324 days. After wanting to visit for decades, I finally decided to throw finances to the wind and go this year because every time I see Antarctica in the news, it's because another chunk of the ice shelves is breaking off. And scientists are saying another massive chunk is about to go...
A map of Larsen C's iceberg by MIDAS/Swansea University/Aberystwyth University
Now I'm just hoping that enough of Antarctica holds together for me to see it come December...
• This is It! If you're into cheesy Norman Lear comedies from the 1970's, then have I got a treat for you. Netflix has used that same framework to delve into contemporary issues by remaking One Day At A Time with a Cuban twist. It's a glorious trip back in time that's about as well-done as comedy gets...
As if that weren't enough, they had Gloria Estefan remake the theme song with a latin twist...
I really, really hope that this critically acclaimed show gets a second season. There's a lot more to be said.
• Maui! I was saddened to learn that the Hard Rock Cafe in Maui closed this past week. This was my very first Hard Rock, and is what got me into traveling the world to visit 165 more of them (and counting!). It had the perfect location at the end of Front Street in Lahaina, and was about the most laid-back cafe you could hope for when vacationing in Hawaii. From my DaveCafe blog...
While vacationing with friends in Maui (circa August 1990), we were wandering around Lahaina looking for a place to eat. As we came to the end of the Front Street tourist shopping district, one of us spied a place called “Hard Rock Cafe” in an unassuming building across the street. It sounded like fun, so away we went.
Little did I realize how my life would change after that moment.
At the time I remember thinking “The Hard Rock Cafe is such a great idea… it’s like eating in the middle of a Rock-n-Roll museum!” I hadn’t seen anything like it, and was so impressed I bought a couple pins at the gift shop. When we went back to Lahaina a few days later, I ended up buying a denim jacket that I still have today.
When I got back home, I discovered that there were 22 other Hard Rock Cafes around the world. But none of them were in Seattle, which is why I hadn’t heard of them before. Some were in places I might visit one day (San Francisco, New York, Chicago)… but others seemed like impossible destinations I’d never see (Reykjavik, Stockholm, Singapore).
How wrong I was.
As time went on, I started traveling more and more, and managed to see some Hard Rock Cafes along the way. Pretty soon I found myself traveling to places specifically to see the cafes there. By that point I was becoming obsessed, and set a goal to visit 50 properties before the end of the year 2000, 10 years after my first visit in Maui. That I did in December of 2000 when I vacationed in Rome, Italy. I always thought that once I reached my goal, that would be the end of it all, but I was wrong again. I kept going, visited properties around the globe and adding to my growing collection of pins, T-shirts, and glassware.
I owe a great debt to the Hard Rock Cafe for exposing me to places I probably never would have seen if not for their restaurants, hotels, and such. Amazing places like Warsaw, Poland… Bali, Indonesia… and Lisbon, Portugal (to name a few). Even nifty places here in the USA that I never would have gone to if not for checking another cafe off my list. I may go for the Hard Rock, but I always stay for all the other wonders these places offer.
And there are still so many places yet to see.
You will be missed...
And, while we're on the subject...
The original Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas (in front of the Hard Rock Hotel) has also closed. Probably because they opened a second cafe on The Strip, and there wasn't enough room for two of them. This is a shame, because the original had a much better "Hard Rock feel" to it... as opposed to the "Hipster Lounge" style that they've got going now.
Ah well. Progress and all that.
I'm outta bullets, so have a good week, everybody!
Posted on Monday, January 30th, 2017
It's going to be a long four years.
Posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2017
It's going to be a long four years.
Posted on Wednesday, February 1st, 2017
It's going to be a long four years.
Posted on Thursday, February 2nd, 2017
It's going to be a long four years.
Posted on Friday, February 3rd, 2017
It's going to be a long four years.
Posted on Saturday, February 11th, 2017
After winter storms closed down the mountain passes, I honestly didn't know if they would be open for my drive over today. Fortunately, they were not just open... but in beautiful shape... which made for an uneventful journey for me...
Well... not really though. There was this car driving 45 in a 60mph zone, which had a lot of people pissed off. And since the jerk wouldn't pull over, cars were making dangerous passing gambits to get by. At one point the asshole behind me (fifth in line!) tried to pass, but then had to cut in front of me to avoid hitting a car. After slamming on the brakes so I wouldn't plow into him, I laid on the horn for entirely too long.
I can be an asshole too.
Posted on Tuesday, February 28th, 2017
And so here I am back in California for another quick work trip. Though, unlike my previous trip to San Diego which was a breezy nine hours, I'm sticking around Los Angeles for a couple extra days to decompress a bit. I haven't had a vacation in over a year, so it's the least I can do.
The good news is that the weather is supposed to be beautiful for the length of my stay. Given the flood of rains that have been pelting SoCal, that's a pleasant surprise.
The bad news is that I couldn't fly out yesterday, so I had to take an early morning flight to make my meeting...
"Alexa? Set an alarm for 3:30am."
"I've set an alarm for 3:30am."
"Alexa? Kill me now."
I don't sleep very well these days, but I do like laying around in bed. Even if I'm working in bed. Having to drag my sorry ass out of bed at such a heinous hour makes me stabby.
Just ask my cats.
Not that they're happy about it either.
Jenny brings me toys every morning as some kind of tribute. I think that she thinks she has to bring me stuff so I'll get up and feed her. Some mornings she brings one toy... other times she'll bring a half-dozen. The hungrier she is, the more she seems to bring.
This morning when I got up at 3:30 to take a shower, Jenny flew into a panic and ran downstairs to start dragging toys up to me. Since I wasn't in my bedroom, she was confused as to what she should do, so she started making a pile in the upstairs hallway...
Poor thing probably thinks she overslept!
Though my cats definitely have a better sense of time than I do, so who knows what goes through her fuzzy little head.
After having made sure that the Litter-Robot was emptied, the Feed-And-Go was filled, the television was turned on with the brightness lowered, and the extra litter boxes were set out, I was off to the airport.
Two flights later, and I was back in L.A.
A city for which I have mixed feelings.
Way back in the day, I worked on a project here over seven months. It was nice money, but having to fly back and forth every other week was tough. Even tougher was having to deal with the business behind showbusiness, which was awful to a mentally-debilitating extreme. Turns out I just wasn't cut out for the Hollywood lifestyle... nice as it was to live it for a little while.
But hey... after work I get to go to Disneyland, so there's that.
Posted on Wednesday, March 1st, 2017
I was supposed to fly home today since work is done, but I decided to stick around and hang with Mickey Mouse instead. The last time I was in Disneyland was four years ago. A lot has happened since then.
And I don't just mean that The Pirates of the Caribbean ride is closed for repairs... though that is irritating since it's my favorite theme park ride ever, and the Disneyland version is better than the Disney World version by a long shot.
No, what's happening is a shockingly large expansion of the park to include the new "Star Wars Land" that's being built just above Frontierland. You can catch glimpses of it from the top of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride and the Splash Mountain ride, but Nearmap has an aerial view that reveals the true scope of the project...
Image copyright NearMap... CLICK HERE FOR FULL RESOLUTION
To give you an idea of just how huge that is, I've draw it on a Google Map of the entire park...
It's a safe bet that eventually "Rivers of America" will be made back into a loop so that the river rides and Tom Sawyer Island will be running again... but they're probably having to make adjustments to keep Star Wars Land separated off from Frontierland so the illusion of being in a "world" won't be spoiled.
Even so, that's a massively huge addition to Disneyland. I figured that since Disney World has so much land available that theirs would be big... but Disneyland? Who knew? The end result is probably going to be double the size of Tomorrowland, and they've still got room for future expansion.
Here's some concept art from Disney showing what Star Wars Land will look like...
Yeah... definitely returning to take a look at that.
But I first need to get back to Disney World because they've got "Pandora: The World of AVATAR" opening up in May.
In other news... The Disneyland Main Street Electrical Parade is back. As I was leaving the park last night, I heard the music start up. It's the same music they used for the parade when I first visited Disneyland in 1976. The minute I heard it, I was ten years old again. The floats look to be the same as well... but, hey, that was forty years ago, so I could be mistaken. Interestingly enough, the parade doesn't seem dated at all.
Given that this is February, the crowds at the park were surprisingly dense.
I usually stay at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel (one of my favorites, because it reminds me of the Wilderness Lodge at Disney World), but that was booked solid. The Disneyland Hotel was likewise unavailable. I thought I might finally get to stay at Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel, but that was a no-go as well. Why aren't all these kids running around in school?
Pirates of the Caribbean being closed wasn't the only disappointment. Tower of Terror is closed as well because it's being re-themed as a ride for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy movies. Prepare yourself for Joe Rohde and his absurdly stupid earring...
On one hand... it's upsetting that Tower of Terror will be no more. It was a great ride that perfectly integrated The Twilight Zone into the narrative. On the other hand, it will be nice to have something new... and it will feature movie characters I love.
Guess there's always Tower of Terror at Disney World... but that ride was never as good, because so many of the cool features of the Disneyland version were abandoned (such as the elevator car leaving the shaft to venture out into the hotel).
One transformation which has already been completed is "Space Mountain" becoming "Hyperspace Mountain" back in 2015. Decked out with all-new Star Wars theming, it is an even more awesome experience than before. I rode it last night and was surprised at just how well it works. They try to make it seem as though you're in a high-speed space battle, and you actually feel it. Sure, the glimpses of Star Wars elements are brief... you're on a roller coaster after all... but they've added laser blasts and other nifty things to really sell it. That alone was worth the price of admission.
And speaking of the price of admission...
Holy crap is Disneyland expensive. Usually I get free tickets from work, but that program ended back in January. I went to buy my own tickets and nearly fell into shock. I was going to get three days for $315, but four days was only $20 more so I thought "What the hell?" and did that. Even two days is a whopping $244 (Park Hopper), so you might as well go full boat. Especially if the park is busy, as you'll spend most of your time standing in line.
And now... time to go out and enjoy the lovely weather they're having here. Though it still gets cold at night, the days are ll sunshine and clear skies. A nice change of pace from the overcast skies and snow back home.
Posted on Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
My favorite theme park attraction of all time was Universal Studio's Back to the Future: The Ride. It was absolutely flawless in execution and felt like an essential part of the Back to the Future movie trilogy in a way that other movie tie-ins can only dream of. Alas, it was gutted so as to install a ride for The Simpsons which is only half as good... so if you never got to ride it, you're out of luck.
Many people find it surprising that my favorite didn't come out of Disney, since they are the company that popularized the entire concept of a theme park. No, they weren't first, but they came along and did it bigger and better than anybody else ever had... partly in thanks to having such an established brand with a multitude of characters and properties that translated perfectly into attractions.
That being said, I decided to rank my favorites from both Disneyland and Walt Disney World into a single list. Partly because I want to make sure I don't miss an attraction for my time here... but mostly because I don't feel like working tonight...
Time will tell if this list changes after the new Pandora: The World of AVATAR and Star Wars Land projects debut. I would certainly hope so.
Posted on Friday, March 3rd, 2017
Last night at a wonderful early birthday dinner with friends, I had told them how proud I was that I finally managed to get Jake and Jenny trained to not jump on the kitchen counters. Yes, Jake still wanders into the kitchen from time to time but, thanks to sticky mats, his days of climbing over my kitchen counters was over.
And then... less than an hour after getting back to the hotel... I get a motion alert on my iPhone that there's movement in the kitchen. A quick check of the security cameras and, sure enough...
I rewound the footage to see what made Jake suddenly revolt, and was surprised to see that it was actually Jenny who was the instigator. You can see her beady little eyes reflecting in the dark on the refrigerator return before she makes a spectacular leap across to the kitchen counter...
Jake hopped up a minute later...
I thought Jenny had hopped back down, but nope... she was over digging in the sink...
Eventually I started talking to them from the speaker on the security camera, which was all kinds of confusing for them as they started looking around trying to find out where I was. Jake seemed to think I was on the ceiling, but Jenny seemed to figure it out eventually...
What's weird is that A) The motion alarm did go off, which usually scares them away, so apparently they are immune to that now, and B) My yelling at them to get off the counters through the camera speaker was equally ineffective. Eventually I rang the doorbell, which finally did the trick.
Guess I need to figure out how to tie the motion detectors to the doorbell when I get home.
It also looks like I will be disinfecting my kitchen counters when I get home.
I was pretty much Disney-ed out half-way through yesterday. But the hotel kicks me out in an hour... my ride to the airport isn't here until 3:30... and I have another day left on my park ticket... so I guess I'm going back to Disneyland again today. Oh well. There are certainly worse ways to spend an afternoon.
Still... vacation goals achieved...
Until next time, Disneyland.
Posted on Saturday, March 4th, 2017
Traveling when you've got pets back home is the worst.
Not only are you missing your pets while you're gone, but you're worrying about any trouble they might get into as well. And so, even though I have spent a crazy amount of time cat-proofing my house and making sure there's no trouble they can get into, I'm still checking the security cameras several times a day...
...so I can watch them get into trouble.
Yesterday I posted about them jumping on the kitchen counters where they know they're not supposed to be.
But that was just the tip of the iceberg...
• Jenny dragged most of her toys upstairs, as expected. She also dragged up an iPhone cable, which one of the cats conveniently bit in two. No idea where she got it.
• I left my Hanes hoodie hanging on the back of a chair. It was pulled down, scratched up, chewed on, and dragged around the house.
• My upstairs office is now officially the cat's play room. I've had to pull all of my stuff out because they love to "play" with it. The only thing I had left in there was a desk, book case, and a box of envelopes. Now all I have is a desk and a book case.
• I'm working on a family photo collage in my stairway. Since it's an odd-shaped wall, I've used masking tape to section off where the photos go. Jake ripped down every bit of it he could reach.
• Which was a prelude to him ripping down a "DO NOT LET CATS OUT!" sign that's been in the catio for months. Apparently he's been hating it for a while and suddenly decided he'd had enough. So then, without hesitation...
When I got home last night after midnight, the cats went crazy ove me. Which was nice. Until Jenny decided she needed petting at 1:00am.
Neither her nor Jake have ever bothered me while I'm sleeping, so I'm guessing that she's just making up for lost time?
Anyway... today they had calmed down to their normal(?) selves and spent most of the day outside in the catio because it was just too beautiful out to be inside.
When I left, the weather was like this...
L.A. was like this...
Now that I'm back? This is the view the cats have from their catio...
Looks like I brought California skies back with me.
Which is great, because this snow can just go away any time now.
Posted on Sunday, March 5th, 2017
Pull out your Mickey Mouse ears, because a Very Special Disney-centric Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• I'm Going to Disneyland. Now that Disneyland has no "off-season" and is hellishly busy all-year-long, there's really only one piece of advice I can offer: Don't make your Disney vacation all about standing in lines. Stay multiple days... divide up the attractions you want to see so you're only standing in line for them part of every day... then get the hell out of the parks to have an actual vacation. Go see what else L.A. has to offer (which is a lot)... or just hang around the pool at your hotel. Spending the whole day in a massive crowd at Disneyland is just guaranteeing that you'll need a vacation from your vacation.
• Princess Vader. I honestly can't decide whether this is the coolest thing ever, or just pain wrong...
All I know is that Disney's marketing of Star Wars is way off the charts.
• Reimagineering. Earlier this week I brought up the new Star Wars Land additions coming to both Disney parks. This is on top of Disney World getting a Pandora: The World of AVATAR "land" in Animal Kingdom. New stuff at the Disney parks is always great... but I can't help but wonder when rides like Jungle Cruise and Haunted Mansion will get an upgrade. Surely there's a way of remaining true to the original concept while enhancing the attractions with today's technology? Otherwise I have to wonder how much longer they can last. The parks (particularly at Disneyland) do not have infinite space to expand, so the worry is that even "E-Ticket" attractions will eventually be eliminated in favor of something fresh to keep the crowds coming.
• Grey Stuff. Yesterday I mentioned that I checked-off one of my life goals at Disneyland... eating Grey Stuff Gâteau (which they spell "Gateâu") and Gaston's Brew. Nobody seems to know what that meant. Well... "Grey Stuff" is something served to Belle in Beauty and the Beast...
This is what the real-life version looks like from The Red Rose Taverne in Disneyland's Fantasyland (a temporary restaurant re-dress in celebration of the live-action Beauty and the Beast movie coming in March...
It's a white chocolate mousse that's been tinted grey then heaped on a small red velvet cake that has raspberry in it...
It comes piled on a shortbread cookie that seems to have a rose drawn on it?
It's not too bad. The cookie is dense and bland rather than buttery and flakey... and the whole ordeal is too sweet for me... but it's totally edible. Gaston's Brew, on the other hand, is excellent. It's apple-mango juice that's topped with a passion fruit foam "head." Something I'm going to have to try and make at home.
• Magical Morning. One of the benefits of buying your ticket to Disneyland online is that you get a free "Magic Morning" on tickets for three days or more. "Magic Morning" means that you get into the park an hour before opening. In my case, that meant 9:00am instead of 10:00am. This used to be available only to registered hotel guests at one of the Disney hotel properties... but now anybody can get it. The problem being that now anybody can get it. Which means the park gets just as crowded just as quickly as it would without magic morning. Sure you might get one or two rides in at a reduced wait time, but it's hardly the deal it used to be. I got to ride Space Mountain in 20 minutes instead of 60... but after that the lines were right back to normal. Bummer. I'd be pretty pissed if I were a hotel guest counting on this perk.
• The Sign. I could spend hours just wandering around Disneyland looking at the beautiful signage that's displayed everywhere. It's not as fun as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but it certainly beats standing in lines all day. My favorite signs are in Adventureland. So many beautifully-carved pieces...
But it's not just the extravagant larger signs that are given such detail. Even small signs... like numbers on a door... are beautifully themed for the area they occupy...
Even throw-away signs from an exit queue are painstakingly designed...
And every exterior sign is beautifully-crafted, of course...
So... next time you're at one of the Disney theme parks, stop for a minute and look for the signs. They're an attraction all on their own.
And now? Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work I go...
Posted on Friday, March 10th, 2017
Every once in a while it hits me just how much travel has changed since smartphones entered the scene.
The biggest change for me has been eliminating maps and guidebooks. It was something I put off for the longest time, because I absolutely love maps and guidebooks. Especially printed maps. You can get lost in a destination before you even arrive just by unfolding a map. But the benefit to having everything on a phone you're already carrying cannot be understated. Nor can the built-in GPS, which makes getting lost almost impossible now. I'm not completely convinced that's a good thing... I've discovered many a treasure while lost in foreign lands... but it sure makes getting around a lot less intimidating.
Then there's getting rid of boarding passes. How liberating is that? I never realized just how awful it was being chained to a printed boarding pass. Even when we got the ability to print them ourselves, it could still be a burden. Especially if you're out of toner or the hotel's printer is broken (which happens more times than you'd expect!).
And how about music and videos? Two pieces of equipment you no longer have to stuff in your backpack.
And then there's travel apps.
There truly is an app for just about everything, and collecting the best travel apps is an obsession that I've been occupied with since apps first appeared.
Probably my most favorite... by a long shot... is a genius app called FlightTrack and, to a lesser extent, it's companion app called FlightBoard.
FlightTrack siphons your travel itineraries off TripIt and keeps track of your flights for you (or you can manually add them to your list). When you travel a lot, that's already a godsend... but it does so much more. If you have access to internet while inflight, you can also track your progress from the map screen...
In addition, it pushes gate changes, flight status, and other useful information to your phone's messaging system... this is also a godsend when you have a tight connection and need information fast...
The companion app, FlightBoard gave you access to an airports flight board so you can get information on all the inbound and outbound flights. I used this a little bit for finding alternate flights... and a lot for picking people up from the airport...
Pretty amazing, right?
Except both apps are now dead.
Expedia bought both apps from Mobiata, then purged them while I was in the middle of my L.A. trip last week. The apps worked on the way down to California... but on my way back it was non-functional. A visit to the Mobiata website told the story...
There is never an easy way to share disappointing news. So it is with great appreciation and respect for your many years of loyalty that we share the difficult decision we’ve made to sunset our FlightTrack 5 and FlightBoard apps.
For many of you, this isn’t surprising news. We haven’t provided much maintenance or improvements to either app over the past year. Regardless, you haven’t faltered in letting us know how much you love the apps. Although this is sad news, our hope is that over the past eight years the apps have served you well during your many travels.
So why are we doing this? The travel market is a rapidly changing place and companies, big and small, must constantly be able to innovate in real-time and predict market trends. Recently, Expedia’s mobile team conducted a critical assessment of the growing market demand for travel app products that offer one-stop shopping, itinerary management, and unique, customizable experiences.
Expedia, our parent company, is dedicated - as are we - to delivering this kind of mobile experience. To this end, we are bringing Mobiata’s passion for combining beauty with technical excellence to the Expedia app. Our goal is to contribute to creating the most visually stunning and useful travel app in the world. Don’t be surprised if you see a little bit of our FlightTrack and FlightBoard ingenuity appearing in the Expedia app down the road.
Needless to say, this sucks.
I have looked through every app claiming to have similar functionality, and none of them come close to the beautiful design and functionality that FlightTrack had. Just as my travel got a little bit better with FlightTrack in my life, it just got a little bit shittier now that it's gone.
I wonder which brilliant app I use will be bought out, shitted on, then purged next?
Posted on Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
The cats know when I'm leaving.
Packing the suitcase. Emptying the Litter Robot. Filling the cat feeder. Cleaning and filling the water fountain. It all adds up.
And once they realize what's happening... they stick to me like glue...
Follwing me everywhere right up until I walk out the door...
Nobody lays down a guilt trip like cats do.
And I'm off.
Posted on Thursday, March 16th, 2017
I'll visit San Francisco at the drop of a hat for any reason at all. It's just an hour-and-a-half flight out of Seattle, which means I can get there from Redneckistan in around four hours. Wrabel has a show at the Rickshaw Stop? Sign me up!
One of the many nice things about San Francisco is that I never have to worry about playing tourist when I'm in town. I've been here so many times that I'm over it. Another nice thing is that there's a lot of vegetarian fare to be had in the city.
I've been wanting to try this Singapore-based burger chain called "Vegan Burg" but never wanted to venture out to The Haight to actually do it. Today was finally the day for a Cracked Pepper Mayo Vegan Burg. It's a beautiful presentation and a decent alternative to other veggie burgers, but I'd have rather have gotten my regular Johnny Rockets Streamliner (no grilled onions). The Vegan Burg is kind of boring. The only thing notable about it is the crispy texture... which I'm not sure I liked. Bun is decent. Seaweed fries were okay. The mango lemonade, however was weak. Oh well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Then it was time to meet up with Jester and friends for the show...
Which absolutely did not disappoint.
If Wrabel shows up in your neighborhood, go. Just go.
In addition to being a brilliant songwriter/musician, Wrabel is massively entertaining. He tells stories. He interacts with the audience. It's just non-stop wonderful from beginning to end...
He says he's working on an album. Hopefully to be released later this year.
Posted on Friday, March 17th, 2017
And that was San Francisco.
Jester dropped me off at the airport and, before I knew it, I was on my way home. Via Virgin America Airlines, which I hadn't noticed on my ticket until yesterday... but, now that they're merging up with Alaska Airlines, I'm guessing this will be happening with greater frequency.
SFO had a display of Ouiji boards on my concourse, which was interesting but surprising. Given how freaked out some people are by them, you'd think they'd avoid putting such an exhibit in a public space like this. And yet...
The trip home was nothing exciting, which is the best kind of trip to have.
The cats were, of course, excited to see me. Jake was all over me from the minute I walked in the door, and needed a lot of attention before he settled back into normalcy. Or whatever passes for normalcy in a cat.
Jenny was a bit more reserved... until bedtime.
Then she decided to make up for lost time by bringing me a toy as a welcome back present. Or so I would imagine...
I started to pet her, but she was more interested in television, as usual...
So I guess we're good.
Nobody tell her that I'm leaving again tomorrow...
Posted on Saturday, March 18th, 2017
And now I'm off again.
Of course the cats figured it out, they always do.
Jenny was particularly upset by the news. So much so that she thought it a good idea to prevent me from packing my suitcase...
I distracted them with kitty treats and... away I went.
The drive over to Seattle was pretty bleak for March. Usually we're in almost-Spring mode here by then, but not this time...
Oh well. The roads were pretty much clear, which is all that really matters.
Las Vegas, here I come.
Posted on Sunday, March 19th, 2017
Long Island Iced Teas Drank: 3
Gambling Tally: Down $22
Time To Bed: 3:00am
My friends and I arrived in Las Vegas at 1:30pm after a quick 2-hour flight from Seattle.
We had a late lunch at my new favorite restaurant in the Fremont area... Nacho Daddy, which is amazing from top to bottom. Great service, great music, great atmosphere, really great nachos, and incredible drinks...
I decided that my drink of the trip would be the Long Island Ice Tea, due to the high alcohol content. The last thing I was to do is be sober in Las Vegas.
Most of my friends went to "O" the water show by Cirque du Soleil. Since I am completely baffled by the appeal of Cirque, I took a pass and met up with some other friends who were in town.
After that there was much drinking and gambling until the wee hours of the morning.
Which sounds uneventful enough, sure. Except... the hotel had to be evacuated twice. Both times because somebody was vaping in their room. Apparently the smoke detectors in The Golden Nugget cannot distinguish between smoke and vapor, so this "happens all the time." At least according to the security guard on the sidewalk.
If vaping sets off your building evacuation alarm three times a day at all hours, perhaps it would be prudent to alert people to this fact when they check in so vapers aren't constantly evacuating the hotel. Just a thought. Because... seriously... this is some outlandishly stupid shit.
In better news... WONDER WOMAN SLOTS!!!
And just to prove that they can make a slots game out of anything... HOUSE OF CARDS SLOTS!!!
Though, I have to say... Orange is the new Black slots would be m favorite of the night. Who knew?
Posted on Monday, March 20th, 2017
Long Island Iced Teas Drank: 6
Gambling Tally: Up $108
Time To Bed: 2:30am
I was awakened around 9am by a security alert on my phone, which turned out to be Jake wandering around the kitchen. I yelled at him through the camera speaker to get out, but this ended up backfiring in the worst possible way. Both cats came tearing into the kitchen when they heard my voice... assumably because they thought I was there. Yeah, I felt pretty terrible for the rest of the day.
I ended up loving Nacho Daddy so much yesterday that I headed there for lunch again today. Since it had just turned noon, I was just in time to start in on the Long Islands for the day...
Dinner was at Margaritaville on The Strip, after which we headed over to The Luxor for one of my favorite shows, Blue Man Group, which I've seen in various places five times previously. They added a bit of new material since the last time I saw them (in Orlando, I think) which is always nice. Heck of an entertaining show (as always) and I highly recommend checking them out if you have the opportunity...
After the show, we headed back to Fremont to finish out gambling for the day. And to visit Nacho Daddy for my last Long Island of the day...
And now... a missive on The Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino Las Vegas...
This is my third time staying here, the last time being in 2009. I had zero complaints my previous visits. The Old Town location is great. The staff is great. The rooms are clean. What more could you want?
Turns out it's quite a bit.
Like not having to evacuate the hotel twice in one day.
Yesterday while I was relaxing before dinner, the hotel speaker system started screaming for people to evacuate the building. I waited to see if it were a false alarm, but eventually made my way down the stairwell to the outside of the building as the alarm continued. Where a bunch of us waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually I asked a passing security guard what was wrong and how long it would be before we could go back to our rooms. "DIDN'T YOU HEAR THE ALL-CLEAR?!? Uh. No. No we did not. There are no speakers outside to hear it. I then asked what happened "Somebody vaping on the 7th floor. Happens all the time."
Which turned out to be true. Because it happened again at 2:00am.
And I found out it had happened earlier before we even arrived as well.
Just a thought... if vaping sets off your building evacuation alarm three times a day at all hours, perhaps it would be prudent to alert people to this fact when they check in so vapers aren't constantly causing the evacuation the hotel. When I checked in, nobody told me vaping wasn't allowed inside. Nothing on my welcome card mentioned it either. I don't vape, so no harm no foul on me. But for others? Seriously... this is some outlandishly stupid shit.
And speaking of outlandishly stupid shit at The Golden Nugget...
This being Vegas, you have to pay $30 a day in "resort fees." This gets you...
So essentially I was forced to pay $30 a day and got jack-shit for it. I already hate "resort fees" with a passion... and the hotels who rip you off with them... but The Golden Nugget is just beyond a shithole for not delivering any value with theirs. Will not be staying there again.
And I don't know about gambling there again either. Over half of their automated cash-out/ATM machines were broken...
Looks like you're standing in line forever at the understaffed cashier window.
Oh... and the fee for withdrawing money from their ATM when you find a working one? SIX FUCKING DOLLARS. Thanks, Golden Nugget... you pile of crap.
Posted on Tuesday, March 21st, 2017
Long Island Iced Teas Drank: 4
Gambling Tally: Down $82
Time To Bed: 1:30am
Another day, another couple rounds of Long Islands at Nacho Daddy...
Today's plan was to relax, and so I did.
Until it came time to zipline down Fremont on Slotzilla.
In case you don't know what that means, somebody documented the experience for you...
Since I've been skydiving, bungee jumping, and zip-lining before, this was a piece of cake. But I admit that my heart skipped a beat when that door dropped from eleven stories to reveal what you're about to do!
A very cool experience for $45 that I would gladly do again.
And... another trip to Las Vegas is over.
Posted on Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017
Is there anything worse than hanging out at your hotel waiting for your flight home once your vacation is over?
Probably lots of things are worse than that.
But when you are sleep-deprived and drinking for three days straight?
No. No there most certainly is nothing worse than that.
But on the plane I watched possibly the greatest Las Vegas movie ever, The Hangover, so I guess it's all good...
This movie fascinates me no matter how many times I see it. It came out of nowhere and was just so good. Sure it was followed by two crappy sequels, but that first one? Magic. Everything about it was perfect... from the story to the casting to the jokes. I've lost track of the number of times I've seen the film, but I laugh every time.
Which is a good thing, because my vacation is done.
Posted on Friday, March 31st, 2017
Eight months from now, assuming everything goes as planned, I will be heading out to fulfill my lifelong dream of traveling to Antarctica.
I haven't really thought about everything I have to do before the trip is underway, but it's something I know needs to be planned out. Soon. And, in an effort to get my head around it, I made a first step by purchasing some notebooks to document my journey. Specifically, the Field Notes Expedition Edition notebooks, which I have in my nightstand...
These notebooks are made out of some kind of indestructible "paper" that is waterproof, tear-proof, nuclear-bomb-proof, and so on.
But the coolest thing about them? They have maps of Antarctica on the backs!
Photo taken from JetPens, which sells the notebooks here!
Now I just need to make my final payment. Book my airline tickets. Book my hotel stay over. Buy my expedition clothing. Get a waterproof bag for my camera equipment. Buy a second camera body. And about a gazillion other things.
Eight months and counting...
Posted on Monday, April 10th, 2017
There are few businesses I loathe more than United Airlines.
They are a shitty, shitty company and just about every experience I've ever had with them has been a bad one. I stopped flying them because they lost my luggage twice in four flights and were unbelievably shitty to me as I attempted to get it back. Then, after nearly a decade, I finally flew them again. Not only did they lose my suitcase right out of the gate and treat me shitty for it... they then charged me to check it back home, even though I never got to use it my entire trip.
I detest these fuckers. Absolutely detest them.
Which is why I experienced zero shock when I saw that they had forcibly removed one of their paying customers from a flight they overbooked...
Now... before we go any further...
Most all airlines overbook their flights whenever they can.
The reason being is that they know that a certain number of people will cancel flights or change their ticket or arrive too late to make their flights or whatever. They're just trying to make sure that planes go out full, because that's what needs to happen for them to make money.
It's for this reason that I heavily advocate getting a seat assignment in advance and checking in for a flight the minute you are able to do so. That way, you're all set in the event that a flight is oversold. It will be somebody who didn't get a seat or check in early that gets left behind in an oversell situation (assuming the airline can't get volunteers to take a later flight).
Or so I assumed.
From the looks of things here, the guy had his seat assignment. So I honestly don't know what's going on. If United knew they needed crew on the flight, why didn't they handle this fiasco before boarding took place? You simply do not remove somebody from the plane like this. If you oversell a flight, you deny the person who didn't get a seat assignment and then lavish money and gifts on them out of compensation... before boarding.
But this is the fuckers at United Airlines we're talking about, and so...
...not a big surprise that this is how they decided to handle the situation.
United Airlines Hates You.
And guess what? Every time you fly with this heinous shithole of an airline, you're empowering them to keep hating on you... along with every other person flying with them...
Find a different way to fly.
Posted on Tuesday, April 18th, 2017
This morning when I stepped into the shower, my foot hit the cold tile and I immediately had a flashback to my vacation in Fiji. This is not unusual... most people have experienced sights or smells or other sensations which trigger memories. But usually it's a memory that makes sense. And I could not for the life of me figure out how my foot stepping on cold tile could be associated with Fiji when everything in Fiji is hot. At best, the apartment I stayed at was cool. Nothing in it, including the tile, was cold. So what they heck?
It was an hour later as I was packing up my junk to go to work that it dawned on me...
Last night I had finally gotten around to watching the movie Steve Jobs which was a fascinating (albeit fictional) look at my all-time favorite personal hero. And while people who knew Steve said that it didn't reflect reality and the character in the movie seemed far more hostile and cruel than the Real Steve Jobs (especially later in life where he mellowed quite a bit), it was nevertheless an entertaining movie. Michael Fassbender was a compelling and charismatic Jobs and, much to my surprise, Kate Winslet completely nailed playing Joanna Hoffman. Getting Seth Rogan to play Woz and Jeff Daniels for John Sculley was just icing on the cake. Loved the movie. I give it five stars.
And so... Fiji.
I had been snorkeling with sea snakes and sharks then cruising with dolphins. The boat had just returned to the shallows where I was getting ready to trudge across the mud-flats back to shore. My iPhone, which was safely stored in a waterproof tote, came into cellular range and beeped. There was a text message waiting for me. A text I dreaded, because it was likely bad news. Eventually I made it back to the scuba shop and fished my mobile out of the bag.
My feet were still wet. I was standing in the shade on terra cotta tile made cold thanks to a box fan blowing on it.
Posted on Thursday, April 20th, 2017
The reason I want to be obscenely wealthy is not to buy a bunch of expensive crap.
If a billion dollars were to suddenly drop in my lap, I don't know that I would get a new house. Or even a new car. Living in a palace and driving a Ferrari just don't interest me. Neither does accumulating a lot of expensive crap. So long as I can afford a laptop, a nice camera, and an iPhone... I'm pretty much done.
No, the reason I want to be obscenely wealthy is so I don't have to work and can spend the rest of my life traveling the world.
Not that I haven't found a way to travel the world now... but there are experiences that require time and money I will never have that haunt my travel dreams.
Take, for example, Tristan da Cunha
Located in the middle of nowhere in the South Atlantic, this small island is one of the most remote places on earth...
It's so remote that the only way to get there is by ship. Which takes six days.
Luckily, ships are making runs to Tristan da Cunha somewhat monthly out of Cape Town (though the dates of departure/return are not set in stone and can move depending on numerous factors). The return passenger fare is under $700 USD, which is a pretty decent price, all things considered. I would not count on luxury digs, however, as the two ships currently making the run are a fishing ship and a cargo ship.
And there's more!
Space on the two ships is limited. And non-resident tourist passengers have the lowest possible priority. If somebody is sick and needs to get off the island for medical reasons? You get bumped. If somebody on official island business needs to leave at the last minute? You get bumped. If somebody on the island decides they want to holiday in Cape Town? You get bumped. What this means is that you can schedule a trip to arrive at Tristan da Cunha on May 22nd then return to Cape Town on May 28th... and end up leaving on June 2nd and returning August 23rd (or longer!).
So to visit, not only do you need to have the time and money to sit around Cape Town waiting for a ship... you also have to have the time and money to sit around Tristan da Cunha waiting for a ship.
OR... you can try to book a cruise ship.
Apparently there are cruises that sail the South Atlantic from time to time. They run between Ushuaia (South America) and Cape Town (Africa). They last two weeks and cost over ten thousand dollars... so, again... time and money required.
OR... if you're a billionaire?
I'd imagine you could go wherever the hell you want. Charter an entire ship to get to/from Tristan da Cunha if you want to. The world is your oyster.
And that's the reason I want to be obscenely wealthy.