Hope everybody had a good New Year's celebration!
I'm hanging out with friends today instead of blogging, so I'll just reprint my favorite DaveToon series of 2007...
And here's hoping for a good ride through 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.
Gah! I am addicted to Guitar Hero! Every time I hear a song now, I picture those notes coming at me and start doing air-guitar button mashing. This is particularly embarrassing when the song is something stupid playing on the radio (this morning I was rocking to All Out of Love by Air Supply). I would buy Guitar Hero for my Wii, but I'm afraid that I would never leave the house again.
In other news... OMG! INDIANA JONES LEGO!!!
I can't stand tossing the word "cute" around... but aren't these so totally cute? While I thought the sequels pretty much sucked ass, Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the greatest movies ever made, and has been a favorite of mine from the minute I saw it.
Which is why I'm terrified after reading comments by George Lucas in the recent Vanity Fair about the new Indy adventure... Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull...
Basically, Lucas came up with a shitty idea for a fourth film that neither Steven Spielberg or Harrison Ford liked. But he kept ramming it down their throats and refused to come up with something different. Since Ford isn't getting any younger and everybody wanted to make a new Indy film, they eventually relented and let Lucas get his way. Considering the fucked-up mess that Lucas made out of the Star Wars prequels, my hopes for a decent film are pretty much dashed. I can only hope that Spielberg and Ford can transcend the material and at least come up with something entertaining that doesn't suck too badly...
Oh well. I suppose I can always make my own Indiana Jones movie using Lego.
Wow... now that I think about it, that's a totally kick-ass idea.
Now that I'm back in the office, I'm opening up all the lovely holiday business gifts that companies sent to me while I was traveling. They're all pretty great, and some of them are remarkable in their extravagance, but one of the gifts has captured my heart...
A jar of gourmet jellybeans.
I love jellybeans, and having a big jar of them sitting on my desk is a real treat. Even if I end up going into a sugar coma because I am addicted to eating them one after the other.
The problem is that I don't like mixing the flavors, so half of my time is spent picking out the same color beans to eat. It makes me wish that there was somebody you could hire to come organize all your jellybeans and toss out all the flavors you don't like (for me that would be coffee and licorice)...
And now I'm off to wash clothes because there's not a clean pair of underwear left in the house.
Though I suppose there's nothing wrong with going commando on the weekend.
People are always astounded to learn that I get a steady stream of hate-mail for my blog. I could pretend that I'm not astounded as well, but it's a mystery to me too. Because when you compare Blogography to other blogs out there, I'm downright tame. I rarely post anything nasty, political, or controversial... and it's got monkeys and cartoons in it!
For the most part, I don't much care about the haters who feel the need to write to me. They're usually just random whack-jobs who come here from a Google search. They read a single entry (or just a part of an entry), ignore the other 1,961 entries, and come to the conclusions they hate me enough to let me know about it. The breakdown works out to be something like this...
With statistics like that, it should come as no surprise that the vast majority of my hate-mail gets deleted immediately. Most of the time I don't even bother to read them before sending off my standard reply ("Thank you so much for your lovely letter regarding Blogography, and I look forward to making you even more angry in the future!") then hitting the delete key.
It's not that I mind having people hate me.
I'm just offended that they're so fucking stupid about it.
I mean, when the subject of an email you receive is "u're blog sucks" (I shit you not, that's one I got just yesterday)... exactly how am I supposed to react to that? I naturally conclude the author is a complete dumbass. Not only are they so stupid that they're blissfully unaware that they've abbreviated "YOU ARE BLOG SUCKS," but the abbreviation of "u're" is the exact same length as their intended "your" (if they were smart enough to know how in the hell to write in the first place). And if the subject is that asinine, why in the hell would I read the rest of it?
If somebody is going to hate on me, I wish they would at least be literate and entertaining about it.
Buuuuuuuuuullet Sunday! Buuuuuuuuuullet Sunday! Bullet Sunday! Bullet Sunday! Bullet Sunnnnnnnnnnnnnndaaaaaaaayy! Amen.
Driver. Remember the good old days when driving was a relatively effortless endeavor? When you could be assured that most of the people out on the road were semi-competant behind the wheel? Now-a-days I get the feeling that nobody else out there knows how the hell to drive. I spend every waking minute on the road having to watch out for all the crazy crap that other people do so I don't get in an accident. Just driving to the grocery store is now a massively stressful ordeal. It would be easy to put the blame on mobile phones... but I honestly think people are just getting stupider and stupider. Today I saw a pedestrian get nailed by a dumbass bitch who didn't bother to look right before making her turn. This is not complicated stuff... how hard is it to remember that you look left-right-left before pulling out into traffic? The guy bounced up and walked away... but what if he hadn't? When are people going to realize that a car can be a deadly weapon if you don't pay attention?
Flavorful. Mew left a comment in my Jellybean entry asking what my favorite jellybean flavors are. After much deliberation and taste-testing, I've finally come up with my top ten...
Yummy. Now I'm sad that I've eaten all my jellybeans. Except the coffee and licorice ones. Blech.
Worst. I've already laid the honor of BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR on Juno. Now I have the extreme displeasure of awarding WORST MOVIE OF THE YEAR on Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Sure there are probably movies that sucked more, but this horrible confusing mess of the film is by far the most disappointing. Talk about taking a can't-miss franchise and flushing it down the toilet. I'm happy that I never bothered to see it in theaters, but am really pissed that I just bought it on DVD. Stunning special effects do not a good movie make. I can't believe that Johnny Depp signed off on the script.
Winner. Well, if it's possible for a format to actually win the Hi-Def format war, I guess it's going to be Blu-Ray. Not that I'm surprised or anything. I've been reading articles like this saying so since almost the beginning. I still think that it doesn't much matter... whichever one comes out on top, digital delivery is the future. Blu-Ray (or whatever) is just a stop-gap. Still, I'm happy to have come out on top for once... I've still got the bitter taste of failure in my mouth from hopping on the mini-disc fiasco.
Terminated. Watched the sneak-preview of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and was not very impressed. As desperate as I am for new television during the writer's strike, I don't think this is it. About the only high point was getting to see Summer Glau again... but that just made me miss Firefly all the more. I'll undoubtedly watch it for a while to see how things go, but I don't have my hopes up. Fortunately, Series 2 of the excellent British show Torchwood is due to air here in the US on January 26th... now there's sci-fi television to get excited about.
Many of the streets here are covered with one to four inches of compact ice. This makes starting and stopping quite a chore. As I was leaving the office to go home and get some dinner, a massive trailer-truck came barreling up with his window rolled down and slammed on the brakes to ask me a question... and proceeded to skid twenty-five feet right on past past me. Without missing a beat, he asked a guy down the street for some directions. I laughed about this all the way home, but don't really know why.
Despite the icy roads, today was truly a beautiful day. Blue skies and sunshine all around.
The day after tomorrow is supposed to be similarly gorgeous.
But what's the forecast for TOMORROW when I am due to fly out?
Yes, that's right snow. And not just a little snow, but a shitload of snow. I've heard "two feet" being bantered around in the forecast which, needless to say, would be extraordinarily bad. There would be no flying anywhere with two feet of snow being dumped on the airport.
Of course, given the accuracy of the weather forecast, I'm not starting to panic just yet.
Well, maybe a little bit.
Nah, not really. Whatever happens, happens.
Sigh. I have about five hours of work left tonight and I haven't even packed a suitcase. I'm beginning to think that I should just wear the same clothes for the entire week and not take a suitcase at all. So what if I end up a smelly mess? When traveling, that might actually be a benefit. Nothing says "LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE, DUMBASS!" better than a week's worth of stench.
In other news, I have self-diagnosed myself with Restless Leg Syndrome.
I can't get comfortable at night because my legs get all achey and tingly, and I can't stop wiggling around. I'm thinking this might be adding to my insomnia problem. So now I need to get me some Requip. Except reading the "Possible Side Effects" on their web site has given me pause...
"Some patients taking ropinirole have shown urges to behave in a way unusual for them. Examples of this are an unusual urge to gamble or increased sexual urges and/or behaviors. If you or your family notices that you are developing any unusual behaviors, talk to your doctor."
That's all I need... to become a sex-crazed gambling addict (among other things... hallucinations? seriously??).
Although I am curious to know what bizarre sexual urges and behaviors I might develop.
A scorching case of sex addiction with a bit of a chocolate pudding fetish on top?
One can only hope.
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...
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.
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.
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."
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).
It's Bullet Sunday in Biloxi as I wait for my first of four flights today! Nothing quite so fun as flying from one small city to another small city.
• Feature. I had five hours to catch some sleep before I had to meet the 4:20am shuttle to the airport. Naturally, this means that some stupid bitch has to dial a wrong number and wake me up shortly after midnight. And, of course, I hang on to my phone because I just know the dumbass won't bother to check the number, but will instead dial it again... and she does ("YOU. HAVE. THE. WRONG. NUMBER!!!"). Why doesn't iPhone have a "FAVORITES ONLY" feature?? A way of setting it so anybody NOT on your "favorites" list will automatically be dumped to voicemail with NO notification played? And, since I'm fantasizing here, why can't you put it on a schedule? Make it so anybody calling after 10:00pm or before 8:00am (or whatever) who isn't on your favorites list will be told to go fuck themselves? That would be an astoundingly useful feature, and I don't know why some mobile phone manufacturer hasn't implemented it.
• Etiquette. Speaking of mobile phones...why don't people realize is extremely rude to use your phone on public transportation? My shuttle may have left at 4:20am, but some bad-mannered fucker in a pink shirt managed to find somebody to talk to for the entire 30-minute trip to the airport. People are trying to catch some rest here, asshole.
• Handicap. And speaking of assholes... why is it that people using the handicap parking never know how to park a fucking car? When I was at my Milwaukee hotel, some idiot parked angled across three spaces (only one of them handicapped)... WITH A SUBARU! OVERNIGHT!! And, of course, since parking lots are personal property, there's no way to ticket the offense. This just encourages the morons to get worse and worse. And don't give me the bullshit "there wasn't room to get out" excuse. If that's the case, then pull up and drop off your passenger before parking so you're not blocking a walkway. Being handicapped doesn't give you an excuse to be a dick...
So what if I block the walkway! I'm handicapped, so fuck you!
• Prize. I've been trying to devise unique prizes and events for my fifth blogiversary coming up in April. One of my ideas was to have a prize drawing for a Dave Event in the city of your choice... anywhere in the world with an airport served by a major airline carrier. I figured it would be not only exciting for anybody who entered, but VERY exciting for myself. Who knows where I'd end up? I mean, if somebody in Seattle won, that wouldn't be much of a trip... but what if it was somebody in Bucharest? Or São Paulo? Or Jakarta? How cool would that be? I mean, Davekarta may only be a party for two, but that would still be pretty sweet. And then I got to thinking about it. Who knows where I'd REALLY end up? Pyongyang? Baghdad? Darfur? SACRAMENTO?!?*** Hmmm... actually, I wouldn't mind visiting North Korea... but there are some places that I just don't know how I'd do it. I dunno. Maybe there could be some kind of pre-approval process when you enter, but that kind of spoils the fun, doesn't it?
• Approach. Hmmm... I was just looking through my photos and noticed how cool the approach is into the Gulfport/Biloxi Airport...
If you look really closely, you can see the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino!
On top of that, the airport here has FREE Wi-Fi internet and plays this totally awesome 80's soundtrack at full volume. Sitting here I've heard Thompson Twins, Devo, R.E.M., The Police, Talking Heads, The Fixx, Wang Chung, Billy Idol, Eurythmics, and Def Leppard! Sweet! It's almost worth coming to Biloxi just to use their kick-ass airport.
• MacWorld. Oh crap. MacWorld starts tomorrow. Since I didn't win a million dollars at the Hard Rock Casino Biloxi, I'm terrified at what Steve Jobs is going to unleash in his keynote. Undoubtedly something very expensive that I just can't live without (like a new $7000 Mac that fits up your ass and is controlled directly by your brain using radio waves). Sometimes being a Certified Mac Whore is not easy. Especially if you end up bankrupt. To tell the truth, I'd just be happy if Apple would fix iCal and Mail so that they were useable again. Between the HORRENDOUS FUCKING INTERFACE DESIGN CHANGES of iCal, and the CONSTANT CRASHING AND SLOW-SLOW-SLOW-SLOW START-UP TIMES for Mail that occurred with the OS X 10.5 Leopard release, I'm really starting to get pissed off. Apple is messing up bad, which is tragic when you consider they set the benchmark for this stuff in the first place.
And that's it for Bullet Sunday. I'll be traveling all day long and will probably head to bed the minute I get home, so I figured I might as well post it now.
*** Just kidding, Hilly. Juuuuust kidding.
Yesterday I left for the Biloxi airport at 4:00am and was dreading the day to come. With four connecting flights ahead of me... all with very short layovers... the odds of something going wrong along the way was huge. First flight: Biloxi to Memphis - on time. Second flight: Memphis to Minneapolis - on time. Third flight: Minneapolis to Seattle - on time. Fourth flight: Seattle to Wenatchee - uhhhhhhhhhh... not so much.
Wenatchee was fogged-in, and not a single flight had made it into the city all day. Not surprisingly, my flight was also canceled. This meant I got to hang around the airport with a bunch of really cranky people while waiting to see if we were going to be bussed, or if I would have to find a hotel and get re-booked for another flight.
And so the bus it was.
Three hours on a bus with 56 of my closest friends.
Which was lovely, let me tell you.
And yet, that was nothing... nothing... compared to the torture I was forced to endure tonight.
Because tonight was when a group of us from work decided to go see National Treasure: Book of Secrets.
Don't misunderstand me here though... the torture wasn't in watching the movie. Sure it was a complete re-tread of the first movie with no real improvements or memorable story elements. Sure it had so many plot holes that I was pulling my hair out at the end. And sure it pained me to see the remarkable Helen Mirren lowering herself to appear in something so mediocre and poorly directed. But all that was to be expected.
What was NOT expected was that Disney would make you sit through a Goofy cartoon before the film actually started. I fucking HATE Goofy. I find absurdly stupid cartoon characters to be just a annoying and un-funny as absurdly stupid people. I mean, seriously, this shit is supposed to be humor?
Well, no thanks.
I prefer to take my crappy movies WITHOUT a shitty cartoon up front.
Sigh. I would gladly trade every Goofy cartoon ever made for a single new episode of Invader Zim.
I'm so very tired.
Which is why there will be no alternative content for those who hate Apple Macintosh... or just don't care about Apple Macintosh... or are tired of reading about Apple Macintosh. Today at Blogography is all about Apple Macintosh and Steve Job's keynote speech at Macworld. Sorry about that.
Unless you love Apple Macintosh like I do, in which case today is your lucky day! Here's my thoughts on some of the announcements from this morning...
So sexy it hurts to look at, the slender form-factor, astounding 5-hour battery life, and miniscule weight of the MacBook Air are almost too good to be true for the frequent traveler. The minute Steve Jobs took it out of that envelope, I wanted it... and wanted it bad. But then, just as I was about to click the "PRE-ORDER NOW" button, a few things started bouncing around my in my head...
So, despite my lust for this terrific new laptop, I'm not ordering one until I've seen it in person. Of course, being the Certified Mac Whore that I am, it's inevitable that the MacBook Air will eventually be mine. It's just too perfect for travel and, given the amount of traveling I do, it's easy to justify the purchase.
iPhone 3 Update...
My biggest complaint about iPhone since day one was the lack of a GPS unit to pinpoint my position on Google Maps. I thought this was a truly stupid oversight, and I hated having to figure out where I'm at so I can type it in for directions and such. Well, thanks to Google Maps's new ability to use cellular towers to triangulate position, iPhone now has a kind of "pseudo-GPS" which is accurate enough for me. The other new features are cool, but now I'm most excited about the 3rd-party developer kit Apple is releasing in February. Given the massive success of the iPhone, I'm betting that we're going to see some great new iPhone apps in the coming months. I can't wait.
This brilliant device allows wireless backup via Apple's ass-saving "Time Machine" technology, PLUS has a wireless base station built-in, PLUS allows a network volume share... all with an industrial server-level hard drive. The best feature though? The price. Just $499 for a Time Capsule unit with a full terabyte of storage space. I ordered one immediately.
AppleTV, Take 2...
I held off buying the original AppleTV when it first came out... it sounded great, but was lacking in several areas. Well, many of those holes have been filled with the new version two, and now I find myself wanting one. The deciding factor will be how many movies Apple puts up for rental. Something tells me that the studios are just going to LOVE that most of the rental fee paid will be going directly to them instead of some third party (like Blockbuster or NetFlix). If this is the case, and movie studios start putting their entire catalog up for rental (not just new releases and popular favorites) then I'll be giving AppleTV a serious look. This could be the ultimate "movies on demand" appliance, and I am in love with the idea of having immediate access to a massive repository of movies.
Theoretically, this was a very expensive Macworld for me. It is likely that I'll end up buying every new product that was released, and that is not okay. I wish that Apple would release some total crap every once in a while so I could hang on to my hard-earned money.
I've been blogging long enough to know that there is no telling what is going to set people off. Sometimes I write entries that I think are going to be controversial and unleash a flood of hate mail, and get nothing. Other times I write what I think are charming and uplifting entries, only to get death threats and people telling me how much I suck. It's a crap-shoot, and I gave up a long time ago trying to figure it out.
Yet reader reaction still crosses my mind.
And, while it doesn't ever really influence what I write, it does make me question myself from time to time.
But it's not the same for comments I leave on other people's blogs.
I'm a cheeky bastard, and that apparently gives me free reign to joke around or say crazy crap and then never even consider that there might be consequences. After all, it's not my blog! I wouldn't intentionally comment with stuff that might get another blogger in trouble or anything... but after I write on their blog, I just don't worry about repercussions.
Now I am slowly starting to regret that, and here's just one example of why...
Over a year ago, Pauly wrote a hysterical entry over at his Words for My Enjoyment blog extolling the virtues of adult diapers, from which I'm republishing a small part here (you really should go read the entire thing, because it's dang funny)...
...Wear them all the time, wherever you want, whenever you go out in public. Don’t be afraid of people’s opinions, since everyone will be wearing them. Forget about "holding things in" from this day forward and feel free for once in your life. Make the elderly finally feel embraced instead of ridiculed and remove the teasing from the adolescent equation that affects so many children in a negative way. Give every person in this world the opportunity to live, learn, grow and urinate anywhere and anytime without societal pressure to "hold themselves in."
Adult diapers for everyone. It’s an idea whose time has come.
Inspired to "let myself go," I went ahead and left the following comment...
I heartily agree… but am having trouble finding adult diapers that offer full protection, yet have a slim profile. I tire of the embarrassing looks and stares I get while wearing my diapers in public!
Now, that was meant to be a joke. Ha ha funny and all that. I don't really wear diapers.
At least not yet.
But that hasn't stopped dozens of people from emailing me with advice about my "diaper problem."
Some people genuinely want to help out and offer diaper tips. Others want to make fun of me. Still others want to ask me questions about my "diaper habit" (or, heaven help them) ask me to send them photos of me wearing diapers (which is the email I got today). It's all pretty messed up, and has exposed me to a secret world of adult-diaper-fetish aficionados that I really didn't need to know about.
All because I didn't consider the consequences as I was hacking out a ten second comment.
Which is a shame, because the convenience of being able to pee in my pants is an idea that's starting to grow on me.
What an incredibly crappy day. I wish I could forget most of it ever happened.
As anybody who reads Blogography might guess from previous entries, I'm a major fan of Betty White. She totally kicks ass, and I maintain that every show on television could be improved by having Betty White guest star on it (as she's done many, many times before). The woman is fearless, talented, generous, kind and not above poking fun at herself... I hope I'm as relevant as she is when I get to be her age.
And today is Betty White's 86th birthday...
In other news, those of you with iPhones who have installed the latest update and make a WebClip Bookmark to Blogography will now get a nifty custom icon. Just be sure to pause when the screen comes up to name your shortcut so it has a chance to load...
For other iPhone goodness, you can also find Blogography wallpaper here (in an extended entry). Eventually, I'll get around to creating a custom version of my blog for easier reading and access by iPhone users. It works pretty well now, but I think there's some things I can do with the navigation and layout to make it even better.
Sigh. I ♥ my iPhone, but I sure wish they would let you adjust the exposure of photos taken with its camera.
Earlier today I was reviewing my DaveStalker iPhone Flickr Feed and got a little depressed. From time to time, when the lighting is perfect, you get a really great shot, but the majority of the images are all dark and murky. Sure it's better than nothing, but it seems stupid that Apple can't give you a slider to brighten things up a bit when needed. Perhaps they'll put that in the next upgrade?
Hmmm... I think I need me some Oreo cookies and milk before bedtime. That will make everything all better.
"That's quite an ego you got there. With your blog and your DaveStalker nonsense, your entire life is nothing more than a narcissistic delusion"... the email said in an annoyingly green text color.
An ego? ME?!??
Do you really think so?? What could ever give you that idea?
Is it because I tell everybody I'm a total genius? (from the entry DaveQ)...
Is it that I think the world revolves around me? (from the entry Dave)...
Is it that I want a 50-story marble monument built in my honor? (from the entry Monument)...
Is it because I think I'm Jesus? (from the entry Jesus)...
Or is it because I think I'm God? (from the entry Intelligence)...
You're going to have to help me out here, because I'm just not seeing it...
My feelings at having to work all three days of a three-day weekend.
• Band. A while back Karl found a rather cool meme about making a band and album via random blog searches. I answered it over on his entry, but enough people have asked me about it that I'm reprinting it here. You get your band name from the first article title at a random Wikipedia search. The title of your album is the last four words of the last quote on the random quotations page. Your album cover comes from the third image on a random Flicker page. You then moosh everything together, and here's what I got...
Photo taken from Juan Farrell's Flickr
• Fuckabee. If this ass-wipe wins the presidency, we're all doomed. Of course, we're pretty much doomed right now. I guess I'm just really tired of doom.
• Traction. It started snowing pretty good this morning as I left for work. The snow was all powdery, so when it landed on our icy roads, traction became a problem. Having driven in these kind of conditions for decades, I just reduced my speed by half and anticipated my stops well in advance. Tricky, but not really a big deal. Until I turned the corner and saw one car being pulled out of a ditch, then went another block to see a police office lighting road flares because another car had run off a bridge. WTF? If you are not capable of driving in adverse conditions... STAY THE F#@% HOME!! Or buy my upcoming new book...
• Traveled. By some accounts, I've traveled quite a lot. My travel map shows visits from Asia to Europe and back again. This is especially true for US citizens, where over 80% of us don't have a passport. Which is why it's cool that today I got to meet somebody who's extensive travels make mine look positively tame. It was then that I realize that I've only been south of the equator once, have never visited South America or Australia, and have no "that's when the police confiscated my motorcycle and took my jar of peanut butter" stories. I really do need to get out more, because making the leap from "traveler" to "adventurer" sounds like a lot more fun than eating ice cream and watching cartoons. Well, maybe not a lot more fun... but at least a little more fun.
• Inked. Is there anything worse than printing something out, only to look over and see the error light blinking on your printer? Yes. Yes there is. That would be seeing that you've run out of ink, and have every color cartridge available except the one you just emptied. VENGEANCE WILL BE MINE INFERNAL PRINTING MACHINE!!! Hmmm... maybe I've been watching too much Invader Zim?
And now it's time to see if I can get some sleep so I can get up extra early for work. Heaven only knows how many dumbasses I'll have to navigate around if it snows again.
Call me an insensitive bastard, but I hate getting forwarded "inspirational" and "funny" emails.
I realize the people who do the forwarding think they are being kind by sending me this stuff. They feel that because they find something hilariously funny or warmly comforting that everybody else will too, so they want to share it. Stories of lost puppies finding their way home against all odds. Sweet poems about how much Jesus loves you. Tales of people triumphing over adversity. Humorous accounts of children saying something embarrassing at the wrong time. It's all there for the forwarding, and it drives me nuts.
And the latest abomination to be cluttering my inbox?
Which I'm guessing stands for "Laugh-Out-Loud Cats."
This phenomena of adding badly spelled and oddly phrased sayings to wacky pictures of cats has taken the internet by storm. Everybody just LOVES LOLcats! One of the most inexplicably popular seems to be this idiotic image...
And I just don't get it. I certainly don't find it "lough-out-loud" funny. Or even mildly amusing.
When I'm not being inundated with LOLcats in the blogs I read, they're being forwarded to me in emails several times a week.
I'm hoping that the fad dies out soon, because I'm really close to creating my own LOLcats to send to people...
Cat image stolen from Blogography.
Cat image stolen from Rippin Kitten.
Cat image purchased from iStock Photo.
Which is probably safer than my first idea of making "LOLpussys" out of something altogether different.
= ahem =
Meanwhile, back to my Hannah Montana addiction...
I'm slowly catching up on all the episodes thanks to nightly marathons of the show on Disney2. But I'm starting to get really confused on a few things...
Hmmm... I really should get back to work. Here it is 10:00, and I've got entirely too much to do before bedtime.
Today my beautiful new "DeLonghi Retro" panini press arrived. It was a little more expensive than my budget, but it had an adjustable temperature control, which I really wanted. It would be a major bummer to shell out for a press that didn't cook hot enough to melt things properly... or was overly hot and burned the bread. Ensuring toasting perfection was worth the extra money...
My first sandwich? DEATH BY CHEESE!! It's my take on the "Ultimate Grilled Cheese" sold at Kathy Casey's "Dish D'Lish" restaurant at the SeaTac airport. To make it, you need country white bread (not too fresh... leave it out for a few hours), cheddar cheese, provolone cheese, and spreadable herb cream cheese, assembled as follows...
Once it's all put together, I microwave it for 10 seconds to get the cheese in a more meltable state. After that, you just slap it on a panini press at medium temperature and wait until you hear the cheese running out and sizzling on the grill... wait another 20 seconds or so to make sure everything is thoroughly melted, and you're done! The cheese needs to be the consistency of molten lava. If it's not oozing out of the sandwich and scalding your hands, you've made it all wrong and will have to start over...
Now that I have my own panini press, I can experiment with ways to add more cheese to the sandwich. It's a difficult proposition, because too much cheese will cause the bread to start sliding around, making it impossible to eat without a spoon. I'm thinking the answer might lay in adding a third slice of bread, but worry it might slip out if not handled properly.
Ah well... I can dream, can't I?
I have precious little time to blog because I leave on Friday and there's a lot to do before then. Luckily, something pissed me off badly enough that I at least had a topic for today's entry.
It all started when I saw that My Boys: The Complete First Season is finally coming to DVD in March. This is a very good thing, because I love the show, and am glad that I'll finally be able to sit down and watch everything from start to finish. For some reason, TBS busted the season in half, inserting an agonizing SEVEN MONTHS between episodes 13 and 14 (maybe it was a partial initial order or something?). It really killed the momentum of the show, and it will be nice to see everything put back together again...
Awww... P.J. is almost painfully cute on that DVD cover.
Anyway, I mentioned this to a friend of mine who also likes the show, and she told me that I didn't have to wait for the DVD... I could go to the TBS.com website and watch the show online! Sweet! So off I went, only to see this...
I am so sick of this bullshit.
There is no reason to keep clinging to Windows Media crap when there are alternatives available that allow non-Windows sufferers to enjoy media content as well. Most every other television network uses Flash (available for Windows, Mac, and Unix) or some kind of custom cross-platform solution (ABC's media player comes to mind). Why is TBS so stupid about how they serve their media? I decided to poke around a bit and found this...
What a load of shit.
"...despite its lack of support on Mac systems, Windows Media Player is more widely used than other platforms like Quicktime and Flash Video for distributing protected content."
This is so laughable as to be stupid. Windows Media Player is more widely used alright... but ONLY ON WINDOWS PCs. Don't make this about "DRM" or "media player popularity" because this only makes you look like idiots. The truth is that you have abandoned your non-Windows viewers, and it's as simple as that. There are alternatives available, but you choose to be lazy idiots who would rather blame Microsoft than finding something that works.
But the best part is the closing...
"Again, we apologize for the inconvenience associated with using Windows Media DRM and hope you will continue watching TBS."
Yes, that's right... keep passing the blame to Microsoft instead of blaming yourself for not using a better solution.
So long as moronic crap like this keeps going on, I find myself wondering why I don't just download everything I like off of BitTorrent when it airs and archive it. I mean, what other choice is TBS giving me here? I guess I wait until March.
And now I'm off to buy episodes of Burn Notice from the iTunes Music Store so I have something to watch on the flight. It's nice to know that some networks understand how to serve their customers without being complete dumbasses.
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?
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.
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.
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...
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...
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...
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.
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.
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.
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