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Monday, July 20, 2015

ATHEISTS IN FOXHOLES

ATHEISTS IN FOXHOLES

"There's no atheists in foxholes!"

Liar.

I'm going to guess that this statement is not meant to be taken as it stands.  Simply having someone crawl into a foxhole it would be stupid to have them suddenly undergo some sort of religious conversion.

"Oh, but you have to get shot at!"

OK - do you mean that someone has to literally be in a foxhole getting shot at for them to suddenly try to tilt the pinball game that is god through prayer?  If so, that saying not only seems really crazy specific but it is difficult to prove or disprove.

I'm going to guess that the statement actually means "When it looks like you're going to die you will suddenly start dry humping the leg of a god."

Which seems really stupid to me.  If I believed in a god, I'd guess that his divine plan probably revolves around me getting shot and my corpse violated in unspeakable ways.  He's mysterious like that.

So I'll assume the actual intent of the statement is more along the lines of "If you think you will die it will suddenly be come to (not on) Jesus time."

Which is complete bullshit.

As anyone who has been following my blog (http://logansvoyage.blogspot.com/) knows, I've thought I was going to die many times during my four plus years of wandering the world.  Any thing from getting maliciously stalked in Bosnia to having an emergency operation in Republic of Georgia to collapsing not once but twice on a gritty hotel lobby floor in Malaysia.  Earthquakes, revolutions, revolts and so forth have been events that I've witnessed.

Thinking back on it, I've actually lost track of how many times I thought "Well, shit.  I might die here."

Not once did I go creepily religious.  It could be stubbornness or not wanting to spend an eternity with religious types in an ill defined 'heaven'.

My thoughts when this sort of stuff happens are usually along the lines of "Well, shit."



HOT DAYS

People love to caution me when it gets a bit hot but after living in the tropics, the jungle and a bunch of deserts, I just smile and nod at them.  A 'scorcher' in Bulgaria is a totally different thing than when it happens in say Indonesia.

So I was out wandering around and  decided it was critical to get new shoes.

Being a fat guy, I am super proud of having worn a literal hole in my shoes.  Yes, I realize it may be through flattening the shoe with enough force to make diamonds but still, proud.

Since the bottoms had literally gone out from my shoes, my feet were cooking.

I went to a shoe store and managed to find some different sandals.  Of course, they were too small for me but still felt more comfortable than having my feet baked.

Shop keeper:  "These are leather."
Logan:  "Doesn't matter if they are plastic or leather.  The quality is not good.  They will probably wear out in two weeks."
Shopkeeper:  "They are made in Bulgaria!"
Logan:  (pause)  "One week?"

Yes, that is an actual conversation.



LOGAN'S GUIDE TO SURVIVING HOT CLIMATES!

Stay inside, run the air conditioning and drink chilled alcoholic drinks.

If that is unavailable (it usually is with my lifestyle), here are some extra steps.

Drink an assload of water.  More than that.  Those big liter and a half bottles?  You'll probably go through three per day.  More if you're doing much.

Watch your pee.  If it isn't mostly clear, drink more water.  Seriously or you might get sick.

Unless you are English, avoid direct sunlight.  English people will sunburn but due to their culture they must be sunburned to show other English people they "got some sun" when they were on vacation.  This is the only reason many go on vacation.  English people (the white ones) are usually either pasty white (beginning of vacation) or suffering heat stroke and second degree burns (end of vacation).  Assuming you are not English (or insane) stay out of direct sunlight.

If you can't, always wear head protection.  If you don't, you deserve what is coming.  Seriously.

Watch the locals, do what they do.  They've been surviving in this shitty weather longer than you have and may have some tricks.  Vary your schedule to match the locals.  It's tourists trying to see everything they can in as short of time as possible that are at the most risk for getting sunstroke and dehydration.

If you are stuck out in a desert with little in supplies, try to team up with Bear Grylls or some other famous survivalist.  Be nice to them and they may drag your useless ass out of there.  If you can't find them, try to make your inevitable death look like a bizarre murder to irritate the local police.



BOOK REVIEWS

"Redshirts" by John Scalzi.

Aside from the weird ranty stuff he goes on about after the primary novel is done (a bit of WTF), I found this witty and a bit funny in a couple places.

Recommended for fans of Star Trek.


"The Time Portal" by Joe Corso & Deborah McCarthy

Though I hated the reader in this (it sounded like he had a faint lisp) and there were several eye rolling moments in this, I powered through for as long as I could.

The book built up a guy who was a jewel thief recruited (for some reason) by the CIA.  After a big explosion he developed special sight which allowed him to see time curtains.

After going through one somewhere in the USA (I forget where) he ended up in jolly ole England and immediately set about working on creating time paradoxes by shooting a pistol around and giving a king a flashlight.

Eventually, I just gave up on the book.

2/10


COSTS

Buying new shoes, 45 lev.





Friday, July 17, 2015

FIVE BOOK REVIEWS

MORE AUDIO BOOK REVIEWS

Plovdiv is a quiet town.  No invasions, earthquakes or revolutions - unlike some countries I've lived in...  I'm stuck here for two more weeks.  It's nice and relaxing but after over a month in a place I chafe to move on.  Plus, walking about ten kilometers a day (with many rest breaks and  pain) I've seen pretty much all of this town.

Hence, not a lot else going on but listening to books



"Necromancing the Stone" by Lish McBride

Oh no, not this asshole again.  I thought I'd had enough of this bad guy last book.  Guess you can't keep a good necromancer down...

"You can't keep a good necromancer down" might be a good title for a book.

I enjoyed this book as much as the first.  The only frustrating thing is that the publisher wanted to wait and see how these books did before the author got commissioned to make more of them.  Instead, she went into another series.  So, Sam, the main character of this book and the previous one "Hold Me Closer, Necromancer" (see previous blog entry for review) will have to wait a bit (or indefinitely if sales are 'soft') before doing more with the story.  That was irritating.

6/10.



"No Easy Day" by Mark Owen

The firsthand account of the mission that killed Bin Laden.  It was OK but honestly I liked his second book a little better.

5/10



William Lee Gordon - "Here Comes Earth 01 - Emergence"

Normally, I'm not a huge fan of sci-fi books.

Movies, great.  As everything is often resolved in ninety minutes you don't get so bogged down as in a book.

The books break down to one of two camps.  The techno babble crowd or the blaster crowd.   The technobabble crowd will often go on and on with this crap for pages like anyone is following (or cares to follow) their made up futuristic gobbledygook.   The blaster books are pretty much ones that could be set just as easily in pirate times but instead of a blaster, they've got a one shot flintlock.

This book is quite a bit different.  It covers ground that has been covered in many other books but I've never seen this approach to it.  The basic plot is "Aliens come to earth and want to take some earthlings back to their planet to get a look around and see if they want to be part of their team."

Anyone who actually reads (or listens to) this book will say "Yes, that is the non-spoiler plot".

My only complaint is the varying point of view.  The author rotates between about five different people.  I'm not sure of the exact number because hey, I've lost track.  To me it is interesting as you get to see the events through different filters but the jumping around happens often enough (say every short chapter) that I've given up trying to keep track of who the fuck is who.  Really.

But the writing - and perhaps even more importantly - the big questions brought up during the course of the book is fascinating.  These are things that a lot of people wouldn't consider.

To put it in Star Trek terms to simplify it a lot, "Hey, you want to join the Federation?  Yes?  Boom!  You're in and now everything is wonderful."

Would that honestly really ever happen with humans?  Oh hell no.

The author explores why emotional humans getting hold of advanced tech may not be the best thing initially for the humans.  And a whole lot of other questions.  Like "what kind of idiot aliens would want to get humans involved with the rest of the galaxy?"  Seriously - you'd have to not know human nature very well to want to get humans as a whole involved.  Even a small group of humans would be quite  a disruption.

Honestly, this is one of the more interesting science fiction books I've read in years.  I know there is suppose to be a second book but it doesn't seem to be around yet.  That makes me sad.  And hungry.  Hungry for more of the sciencey words to get stuffed into my melon.  So I will have to wait.  It appears this could be a large series.

And yes, given the chance I would expand my tourism to the rest of the universe.

7/10



"Critical Failures" by Bevan

The beginning of this book is much like some we've seen in the past with the "Guardians of the Flame" series.  Shitty GM with shitty players all playing a shitty game system (yeah, I'm talking to you, D&D) send the players into a fantasy world.  The stereotype that they are all losers with serious anger, maturity and social issues is in full swing.

The first book of Guardians of the Flame was pretty good and (IMO) quickly went to shit in subsequent books.

Thus far, it is not possible for me to tell if this book series will go to shit or not.  Despite there being three books which have been out for awhile, only the first comes in audio format.  No idea why.  Tweeted the author but these people fail to instantly answer every random question I put to them.  Odd, I know.

If more audio books are made (the reader did a pretty good job) I will listen to them.  There were some good humor moments in the book but they were only now and then.  An average book.

5/10.



SEAL TEAM SIX

Some professions have much better stories than others.  From my days of being a cubical monkey, very few interesting stories have arisen.

Cops have good stories which usually revolve around the stupidity of 'perps'.   And, sadly, paperwork.

Special forces also have interesting stories.

The book kept me entertained.  It was a mix of a few different factors - wanting to complete the mission, getting dicked over by politicians, getting entangled in emotions, etc.

5/10



REPOSTING OF THE LOGAN SCALE

As I've done a bunch of reviews and some people may be too lazy to read the previous blog entry, here is the scale I use again.

Logan's movie (and other media) scale:

1 - Logan has many, many interests and this didn't trip any of them. Normally though I don't send hate mail to the director or writers for making such a piece of shit. Normally.

2 - It's a shitty movie I might have stood for over a half hour of but I'm glad to have escaped it.

3 - Here is the turning point. I either watched about 75% of this trash before turning it off or perhaps made it all the way through and feel disgust for having gone that far.

4 - The movie was watched in it's entirety but was just 'bad'.

5 - It's a movie. While not especially good or bad it did manage to suck an hour and a half out of my time and kept me entertained enough. It did it's job but no more.

6 - Generally enjoyed the film, book, etc.

7 - A very good movie, book, etc.

8 - This can be re-watched now and again.

9 - Very rewatchable. Undeniably a great movie. To me, at least.

10 - I will probably be seeing a lot of this movie. If I kept stuff, it would definitely be in some sort of collection.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

BOOK REVIEW TIME

All I have been doing lately is wandering around Plovdiv (Bulgaria) and listening to audio books.  That's why there are so many audio book reviews.  Fear not, in less than a fortnight I will be back on the road.



Logan's movie (and other media) scale:

1 - Logan has many, many interests and this didn't trip any of them. Normally though I don't send hate mail to the director or writers for making such a piece of shit. Normally.

2 - It's a shitty movie I might have stood for over a half hour of but I'm glad to have escaped it.

3 - Here is the turning point. I either watched about 75% of this trash before turning it off or perhaps made it all the way through and feel disgust for having gone that far.

4 - The movie was watched in it's entirety but was just 'bad'.

5 - It's a movie. While not especially good or bad it did manage to suck an hour and a half out of my time and kept me entertained enough. It did it's job but no more.

6 - Generally enjoyed the film, book, etc.

7 - A very good movie, book, etc.

8 - This can be re-watched now and again.

9 - Very rewatchable. Undeniably a great movie. To me, at least.

10 - I will probably be seeing a lot of this movie. If I kept stuff, it would definitely be in some sort of collection.



BOOK REVIEWS

Note:  People may think I only run into good audio books.  This is completely untrue.  For every book I review, two to five got deleted after half an hour or less.  Annoying readers, stories that didn't immediately grab me, etc cause rapid deletion.  I'm just reviewing the ones I liked rather than hearing the usual message of "Oh, it gets better if you stick with it longer."  For me, this is bullshit.  Most people don't really know the meaning of "Life is too short" unless they've experienced a lot of personal loss or are going to die from some sort of disease soon.  I'm surprised I'm still alive so my time is too precious to spend on garbage.  There are also some things I just don't like - 'graphic audios' where they put in the sound effects anyone not brought up on a constant diet of TV should be able to use their imaginations to get.  Multiple readers I find distracting.  Give me one talented voice actor.




Gun Machine by Warren Ellis

Reader, excellent.  Story - kept me engaged.  This is not too common so I thought I'd mention it.

I didn't read the wiki (etc) before reading it.  Normally, if the reader sucks or some element of the story/setting/characters doesn't grab me in the first few minutes, it's gone.  Life is too short and there is too much out there to read to wade through something hoping it gets better.

I really have no bitches about the book other than the same one critics gave (everything gets rapped up quick and neatly at the end) but it is not a serious gripe.

Recommend checking this book out.  It is NOT a genre I normally enjoy but in this case I listened to it in a day.


"Day By Day Armageddon", Book 1 by J.L. Bourne

This was a page turner though the very ending (and beginning of book two) was jarring.

A bit of a 'WTF?'

To discuss the book would be to give spoilers however I can say it is a world collapsing survival type book.  Pretty well done.  A page turner.

The second book gave a screeching halt to my reading.

Suddenly, there were zombies.  No explanation - almost as though the author decided "Fuck it, zombies are big right now - I'll just stick them in without explanation."

I thought more than once "Am I reading the wrong book?  What happened to the first cool character and his friend?  Who the fuck are these jokers?"

And that was the end of what started as a very promising series.


"Crooked Little Vein" by Warren Ellis

Audio book

After too many establishing shots of pathetic excuse for a human private eye, this book goes down the 'what the fuck did I just read' humorous rabbit hole quick fast and in a hurry.

There is shit in here I would have been proud to think up for the old HC campaign within.  My saying for table top gaming was 'If it causes the players to need therapy later, you have succeeded as a GM'.

This is right down there with that.

One thing that impresses me thus far is this author seems to have written only two books (which were big enough to get audio books) but they are of strikingly different genres.  Writing in just one is hard enough.  Mastering more than one, badass.

Just like the old coffee commercial, this was good to the last drop.

Highly advised.

9/10


"Ghosts of War" - by Ryan Smithson

This is a book about what happened in Iraq to a brand new 19 year old soldier who went over there.

There are only three types of people who are able to ask 'what's it like':

a) spouse or very close friend

b) people who have been over there (known as 'comparing war stories')

c) people who have seen there own bad shit back when they served

So, if you don't fit into any of these three categories this book is a good way to get a sample of what's it like. I'm enjoying it though the reader (who is the author) is not an actor - hence less smooth than audio book 'performances'.

The guy is 'hella' philosophical at times but overall I liked it.

6/10.


"No Hero - The Evolution of a Navy SEAL" by Mark Owen

Pretty decent book, good reader.  Nothing really special here but enjoyable.  This is the same author who wrote No Easy Day.  NED was a best seller and I'm going to get hold of that and review it.

6/10.


"Hold Me Closer, Necromancer" by Lish McBride

Catchy title.  Book Lumsie would have approved of.

There are aspects of this that felt very 'young adult' (we can't go to any authority figures, we're immature, etc) but oddly the main characters were all about 19-20 years old.  Odd.  Remembering all the odd stuff I had been through and done by that time, various espionage training, dealing with gangsters, blowing stuff up and shooting stuff down - it seemed these guys were extremely inexperienced at life.  Or I just had an abundance of weird shit going on with me.  I don't know.  But they did seem like nice people.

But aside from that, I enjoyed the story and the book seemed to go by very quickly.

7/10.

Monday, July 6, 2015

SEMI-POPULAR CULTURE

Since I'm currently not wandering around - and nothing special is happening in the town - this is a blog entry about various forms of entertainment Logan has been doing while he waits for August first!



MOVIE REVIEWS

The Age of Adaline, 2015.

Unfortunate name of the film.

There are some of the normal tropes one would expect to find in a "I live forever" movie.  The woman (immortal) has the Sherlock Holmes look at someone and know a bit about them thing going on - which is nice.  Her money is in long term stocks - great.  She speaks a few languages.  Her daughter now looks like her grandmother.  She makes out of date references.  (I don't have the stocks thing going.  Sad.)

Generally though it is a love story.  Which makes Logan sad.

You'd have thought this would have tipped me off.

There are some gaping plot holes in the story.  Early on (organization) tries to (spoiler) her and she escapes.  The logical thing to do for (organization) is to keep an eye on her daughter.  This is not complicated stuff.  Naturally, she keeps in contact with her daughter.  Illogically, they don't manage to find her.  It's a whole lot of WTF.  Also, the writers seem to think (organization) will give up on chasing someone they believe to be an immortal after a couple decades.  Because they obviously don't keep written records.

Also, she gets her new ID's from some nerd who works out of his own house.  This guy is clearly not a professional and I wonder how the hell he is doing this without getting busted.  At his house.

Generally, with fake ID's you get what you pay for.

She also decides to go on a date with someone who is either persistent or a stalker - depending on your point of view.  I'm thinking he's going more toward the creepy stalker type.  But, he's rich and women forgive rich guys for a lot of bad behavior.  See Fifty Shades of Gray for more information.  After just a couple weeks he is expressing love.  Rich and good looking apparently works.

One of the little romantic flourishes they do in this movie is offer to take each other to "some place they've never been before".  I keep hoping "bum fight" but apparently, it's not romantic enough for them.

I do like her 'move every decade' thing.

Though Highland did have some WTF plot holes, it was still twice the story.

I understand that she's still emotional and all but I'm wondering how much involvement with regular folk you'd want after a bunch of decades.

Sadly, wild coincidence meets the plot when the immortal meets up with (spoiler) who just happens to be (spoiler) and what do you know!  Riiiight.

Wild coincidence continues to rear it's ugly head when they play Trivial Pursuit and (ola!) all of the questions seem to be from the time period the immortal was alive during.  Which is to make the audience think since she was alive then, she would know.  Like people alive today know all of the trivia that is going on right now.

Harrison Ford is in the movie though, which is neat.  Sadly, not even he can save this rather lackluster movie.

"Even my stupid looking glasses can't save this horrible movie!" - Harrison Ford.

It is funny that - if you think about it, the (spoiler) ends up tagging the same (spoiler) that his (spoiler) did.  This is usually something people might vomit about or morally object to.  I'm guessing not a lot of people think in these terms though.

Unfortunately, rather than staying (spoiler) she became (spoiler).  I'm thinking "This is not a fucking happy ending."

This movie also highlights the importance of doing background checks on all your lovers if you are an immortal.

Because hey - they might just be The Kurgan.  You can never tell.

4/10


Comedy movie "Spy" (2015)

They were making fun of the hotel room the lady was in and I was thinking "Hey, that's pretty nice!  Look how big the bathroom is!" and so on.

Sigh.

There are several good laugh out loud moments in the film.

I'd thought that this might be one of those movies that only makes it through the first ten minutes before being deleted forever but I liked the action, the jokes and even the story.

This scene wasn't in the movie at all.  But, ever since my traumatic childhood incident I have been careful NOT to spoil movies for others.  Why this picture?  Because when I googled 'spy 2015' it came up for some reason.  Totally different movie.  Weird.  But, it fits in that it is wacky.  And Spy was a wacky movie.

8/10 - bumped up from 7/10 for the number of actual laughing out loud moments.  I am not an 'easy audience'.



MMORPGS

(If you don't like MMORPG's, skip this entry)

I've been looking around the internet to see what MMO's are out that don't suck.


Only ESO doesn't suck - but I've played the shit out of it.  Oh, but they have so much new stuff, yada yada yada.  Yeah.  It's the same game of kill shit, level up and get gear.

Oh but Logan, all games are like that!  Well, unless they have good crafting systems are more 'sandbox' than 'theme park', I suppose you could be right.

A picture of a theme park game.  Eh, close enough.

But there are several good games, I'm told, on the horizon.

Which is the problem.

They are always on the fucking horizon.

"Well, yes, most of the released games suck so much ass that you will want to kill yourself for having spent money on them after a mere couple months but in the future - IN THE FUTURE!"

I've been hearing that rubbish for about fifteen years.

They've put in a new twist called 'early access' now.


That means you can pay money to get access to a half completed buggy piece of shit.  Which people do in droves.  I suspect simply because there aren't enough good finished games out there they haven't already played the hell out of.

With all these games that are going up on Kickstarter, I'm wondering what their motivation for upkeeping and updating the game after it is released is.  You've paid for the game, they released it.  It will be buggy as all new MMO's are.  I suspect they'll fix the biggest of the bugs but after that, the product is 'done'.

Good luck with paying for half (well or much less) completed shit.

We'll see how this goes.

There are several games which I looked at on various youtube videos.  It's amazing how well they get reviewed and when you go over to look at Steam, they basically warn you that you'll be bathing in dog shit if you buy this game.

"Don't do what Johnny Don't does."

But in the future!  Oh, in the future we'll have flying cars and games which don't suck!

Picture is inaccurate only in that both these bitches aren't texting.

So what am I looking for in a MMO?

Well, I've done the kill stuff level up, get better gear, kill bigger stuff quite a bit.  Theme park style games are where you go to the area you'll hunt in when you're characters around level twenty then over to here when you hit level twenty five and so on.  Been there, done that.

I still feel Minecraft is a landmark game though many can't get past the graphics.

Open worlds are nice when you have the option of going to anywhere and hunting anything.  Better still if it has a good crafting/gathering system.  I would like it if you can build stuff and change the terrain around.

Games which look interesting then I become wary of are ones which have forced PVP.  An example of that is the partially completed alpha buggy you can pay twenty dollars to get in on it 'Reign of Kings'.  In addition to forced PVP, you can also tie a rope onto someone's ankle, drag them around, stick them in a cage and torture them.

Which all sounds fine until you consider this could be done to you.  Over and over and over.

Possibly by this guy.

Reading up on their reviews, it looks like as with every other forced PVP game I've heard of, they have gotten the cream of the crop in terms of scumbags.

Other than what looks to be an Ultima Online 'hey lets grief the new people till they quit' type of community, it doesn't look too horrible.

I am hoping they address two of the big problems I brought up a decade and a half ago (bet they don't) about being able to build/destroy stuff.

If destruction is free, your shit will be destroyed and looted pretty much as soon as someone finds it.  Which apparently is happening in 'Reign of Kings'.  Regularly.

If you can build stuff which doesn't have any real purpose other than 'being pretty', you get large waste lands of 'pretty buildings' which serve no purpose.

We'll see how it plays out... IN THE FUTURE!  Oh, the future.



LARPING

How to write a character background for LARPing.

by Logan Horsford (player of Lumsie) with a special thank you to Kyle Kent.  He reviewed this article and gave valuable feedback and insights to it.  Thank you, Kyle.


Before starting, realize that the entire purpose of a 'character history' is to inspire plot to use parts of it in an ongoing game.  Histories filled with deeds of no current relevance are just poorly written fiction.

It's all about plot hooks.  If you can't write things that fire the imagination of the plot team, just submit a 'hi, my name is' badge instead.



1.  Since you are probably not a professional author, brevity is your friend.

Even if you are a professional author (such as Jim Butcher, who has played NERO), your initial character history turn in should be a double spaced paragraph.  Double space it so plot may easily write notes or comments.  Note that some plot people want to read longer histories.  The safest course of action is to ask them ahead of time but generally it will be a page or less.

Rather than using descriptors, use bullet points.

(Note, I wanted a picture of bullet points using real bullets.  Apparently, nobody else on the internet has yet come up with this idea and my current lifestyle doesn't do well with the whole 'hoarding ammunition for funny pics' thing.  So, use your imagination.)

If the plot person wants more information, they will ask for it.

If you don't see anything enter game within three events, tell them you are going to approach your character history from a different perspective and you will write up something different.  Obviously, your first effort wasn't good enough to warrant getting bumped up to get in game after three sessions.


2.  Most character histories follow a tired pattern.  Don't.

The normal character history is "My character's parents were killed by [fill in creature] and the [fill in over powered object that your low level ass is never going to get hold of] was lost.  I am now seeking revenge on those creatures and to find the bauble.

As an addendum to this, be sure that whatever you write will be fun for the plot team.  If it is something that has been done before, it probably won't get run.


3.  Writing character histories is ongoing.

Update your character history as you go.

You don't have to flood the plot team with information all at once.  When I first started playing Lumsie, the only part of my character history I knew was that both of my parents were dead.  Twist - they were still moving and talking.  Undead.  Dad was a liche, mom was a vampire.

Later, it was revealed they were from an evil kingdom named 'Fa'.  Still later, this kingdom is in a different dimension.

Had I submitted the fact that my character could travel at will through dimensions, was a product of cloning, had been to the USA with a bunch of clones and watched the film "The Highlander" in a theater at the outset, any reasonable members of plot team would have said "Yeah, no."  But since it was brought up a little at a time over a period of years, everything in Lumsie's history ended up getting played out in game.

You will have to get a feel for how often to update your character history.  If you go to events outside your home chapter and plot doesn't 'happen to you', it won't need to be updated often.  Otherwise, every three or so events where your character has plot happen is a good amount to keep it updated without becoming a nuisance to plot.  Be sure to let the plot team know what direction you would like your personal plot to head in.  They may or may not accommodate this.


4.  Do not connect your character history with current plots

Keep all organizations generic.  Let plot choose to plug it in to already existing things.   This allows them to have more creative control and no other players can get pissed at you for getting in on what they thought was their proprietary character history.  Don't try to specify levels, gear and so on for NPC's.  Don't put in too much detail - that is for plot to do if you have an idea that grabs their imagination.

If plot has published anything about the world, you can get a village name (like 'Janis Falls') to be from.

5.  Anything you write should use a minimum amount of NPC's.  If your plot stuff can get done by one person, it is much more likely to happen than if it takes three.

There was a character named "X" (he had a much longer name but everyone just called him X) who was being hunted by the sorcerer tower that had trained him for some reason.  Due to matters of honor and custom, they would only send out one guy at a time to duel him in hopes of killing him.  This was a brilliant bit of writing and only used one NPC at a time.


6.  If you want to have other PC's in your narrative, be sure to talk to them about it beforehand.  Unless it is hearsay (I heard Tempest the dragon passed this way or I saw the Drakes go through town) people may rightly object to you dragging them in to your poorly written fiction.


7.  Why are you with the adventuring party you are with now?

If the reason is mercenary, met at a pub or old family retainer, skip the background and hope the plot team comes up with something more creative than you can.

Mercenaries - not so cool as this looks.  Plus, due to safety, no actual mounts in LARPs.  Ain't that a bitch?

Side note, avoid being a mercenary at all.  The nature of the world makes nearly everyone a mercenary as it is - you are being dull.  "Oh, you need to hand me some coins to go...or I could just get my cut like everyone else."  It's annoying and over used.

Ignore this section if you are traveling alone.


8.  Don't write yourself as an evil prick.  You will be playing with these same people for years.

Lumsie was a completely evil person - but only to NPC's.  He would execute them, enslave them, turn them into undead, torture them for his amusement and taunt them.  To the PC's, he was the soul of kindness.  Back in the days of ward keys, people would often leave theirs with him knowing he would keep it safe and not burgle them.

If you play an evil person in game, people will assume you are an evil prick outside of game - even if it is subconsciously.  Since Lumsie was the kind of character who would do his best to help his fellow adventurers and was a fun person to hang out with, people assumed Logan was nice.  I've been invited to stay (and have done so) at people's homes who didn't know me but had heard of my character.


9.  Do the twist.

Old timey people doing an old timey dance.  You can use them in your character history and say they were killed by 'good taste' if you want.  You're welcome.

Lumsie's parents not dead but undead.

A good plot twist may inspire plot to actually use your stuff in an ongoing game.

The best twists are done over a period of time and should not be so convoluted as to just be confusing and ignorable.


10.  Write someone you can play for a long time.

An example of what not to do is the 'mysterious guy who sits in the corner and broods'.  Those tropes only work in the books either because they are setting the ambiance of the scene or the main characters have to go talk to them.  Being the brooding lone guy in the corner with his face hidden under a hood is only fun for the first hour.  After you realize that nobody cares it gets boring and lonely pretty quick.

I remember walking into a tavern and finding four of these guys - one per corner.  I laughed my ass off as each tried to out brood and out sinister the others.  Nobody else noticed or cared.

Avoid is using a published character history as your own.   Years ago, we had 'Link' from 'Legend of Zelda' playing.  He'd pretty much just copy-pasted the whole history.  It's good for a chuckle and that's about it.  Do you want to play a stale joke for a few years?

Some plot teams won't allow the remarkably uncreative to steal names from popular media.  If you can't think of a name, grab a Scrabble game and give it a good shake.

I'm no longer allowed to play scrabble with children.  Or adults.


11.  Write it like a TV show.

If a character story arc isn't finished in three events, chances are it never will be.  Realize this limitation and write for it.

Just like your narrative, your goals should also be updated as you go.  Good plot teams may also come up with additional goals they see in keeping with your character.


Derek J - an expert LARPer and chapter owner - also adds:

Sadly, most character histories are just bad, if not completely wrong for the campaign that the player is introducing it to. It is best to work with a plot member that you think is skilled at creating interesting stories to aid you in writing your history. If you have a history already, work with a plot member to integrate it.

Do not just write a history and submit it to plot without working with them to integrate it into their game. Do some follow up on their thoughts of your history, how it can be reflected in the game, and how your character can become intertwined in the history of the campaign. Character histories are not a one way conversation from player to plot.


LARP biography:

Logan has played NERO for over a decade and has done more events than he can remember.  He has played NERO on more than one continent.  During his time in NERO, he has run rogue plot, assisted with many aspects of running events, written four in game books and compiled NERO terms from around the USA.

This picture will make sense only to some.

Logan is semi-retired from NERO and spends his time traveling the world like some sort of TARDIS-less Doctor Who.  His exploits can be read about at http://logansvoyage.blogspot.com/



TWITTER

Did you know you can subject yourself to one hundred and forty character rants from Logan?  His Twitter handle is Logan9a.  Go follow him there if you want to hear random short crap which spews forth from his gob.  At the time of this writing, he has done over nine hundred tweets, mostly to various celebrities who have no way of defending themselves from it.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

EUROPEAN INVASION: LIVE AND STAGGERING

EUROPEAN INVASION:  LIVE AND STAGGERING

A huge thank you to Carolyn N. and all the other people who worked on the title of this 'Home Invasion' tour name!!

For those who don't keep up with me on Facebook, this massive tour through Europe will be kicking off on August 1st.

It's looking like seven countries (one of which I've not spent any time in before!) and I'll be staying with a lot of friends.  Epic fun coming up.

But until then, honestly, not a lot is going on.

In Plovdiv, Bulgaria I'm just burning time hanging out in a very nice apartment (with it's own washing machine) and bitching about the shoddy state of video games and shows from the TV.  Although I despise watching television itself, I do obtain commercial free shows and watch them on my computer.

Doesn't make for outstanding blogging.

Until either something interesting happens here or the journey starts, don't expect a lot of space filling blogs.



MORE ON AMERICANS AND CELCIUS

By Joseph Osborne

For the benefit of Logan's non-American readers, he is correct, Americans don't arbitrarily hate the Celsius scale. . .they just get frustrated with trying to mentally convert it or figure it out. They are raised on Fahrenheit, so they don't know what those numbers mean, and sometimes try to do vague conversions or estimates in their head and get confused or frustrated.

Why the US hasn't adopted Metric is something you could write books on. Really short version: the process was beginning in the 1970's, but it got politicized and Ronald Reagan's administration hated the Metric system so they actively stopped any metrication in the US. Since then there's been no real government or cultural drive to adopt it. It's been slowly leaking in some places, such as beverage packaging in liters and milliliters, but it still has strong opposition in some corners who see it as a partisan political issue and somehow unpatriotic to use.

Also, in the spirit of his Celsius guide, I give you an adaptation of that. Celsius as it applies to Kentucky weather:

40 = Hottest days of summer. Everyone knows it's hot, and everyone is complaining. Will probably be like this for a few days in July or early August.
30 = Normal summer midday temperature. Its kinda hot, we're used to it.
20 = Nice fall or spring day, or a very mild summer day. Everyone is talking about what a nice day it is.
10 = Chilly early Spring or late Fall day. Wear a coat.
0 = Typical winter day.
-10 = Cold Winter Day. Wear gloves and a scarf in addition to your coat.
-20 = Coldest Night of the Year, will be like this on some nights in January or February. Leave the faucets on a bit so the pipes don't burst.
-30 = Equivalent to all time record low temperature recorded around here.

Thanks Joseph!



BARBERS

Outside of India, Bulgaria I got the cheapest shave ever.

According to a barber I spoke with, Bulgarian barbers do not offer straight razor shaves because Bulgarians are too 'macho' (his word) to shave.

I was able to get a machine shave for 2 LEV.

That's approximately $1.14.  They don't expect to be tipped either.

And people say "Why don't you want to lug a heavy electric trimmer around?"



CLASSY

The next time you want to impress your friends with a scholarly quote, wait till they say something (doesn't matter what) and say "Well, you know what Sir Thomas Beecham said..."

(Give a second as they wonder who the hell it is then continue.)

"Always try everything once except for incest and folk dancing."

Then sit back and grin at them like a maniac.

Since it was a quote of a knight of the realm, that makes it classy.

And here is a link to it so you don't think I'm just making shit up.     Now, go be classy to your friends or boss!



DRUNKEN RAMPAGE

For those who want to see my drunken posts of 140 characters or less harassing the rich and famous, my handle on Twitter is Logan9a.



AN INVITATION

If YOU (yes, you) have an article you want to put into the blog, let me know.



VIDEOS I FORGOT I'D MADE

These are from Indonesia - the small island:

Julias
Norma 1
Norma 2  (Why do I have two?  Who knows.  My eventual editor can sort it out or make a montage.)



COSTS

Meal - about 6-12 lev depending on what you want.
Beard trim (machine, not straight razor), 2 lev.
Plastic bottle of boot leg wine, 6 lev.
Glass bottle of legal wine, 12 lev.




Thursday, June 11, 2015

THE BIG SHIT

THE BIG SHIT

There I was on a small island in Indonesia.


The island is right where the very point of the arrow is - it doesn't show up well on this map but if I show just the island it gives no context.

It was pretty primitive there.  With only one five watt light bulb to light the room (really?  Who buys five watt light bulbs) it was twilight all the time inside the room.  Sure, it was nice outside but you can only take so much of the great outdoors before feeling 'stabby'.

Not that the outdoors stayed outside.  Monkeys enjoyed giving a wake up call early in the morning by jumping up and down on the corrugated steel roof.  That will wake you right the hell up.

When you sleep under a mosquito net, the one ancient under powered fan loses most of it's cooling power.  After nearly dying from Dengue Fever, I was grateful to sweat myself to sleep under the netting.

While part of me felt that the primitive huts would be best decorated with fire, the other part knew if they were to build them properly I couldn't afford to stay there.

As to exploring the island, you have three choices - rent a motorbike, walk or hire someone to drive you around it.  I'd tried a quick test drive atop the motorbike and felt like a clown trying to ride a miniature bike.  Not secure.  If you wreck it, you pretty much bought it.  And the hospital.  Hiring someone to take you to see different dilapidated huts with corrugated steel rooves is pricey so I walked.

The longer I live on a jungle island...

...the more I start to become Colonel Kurtz...

One way had hills and eventually led to a different shitty village.  The other way of the one long road island had even larger hills and may have eventually led somewhere else.

For three weeks I walked the same six or seven kilometer round trip, ate a very small lunch, floundered around the ocean then sat in my hut until dinner time.  The dinner at Norma's was home style and amazing every time.  After dinner, back to my five watt bulb and computer with usually no internet until sleep overcame the slapping of bugs who had made it through the netting.

Obviously, I couldn't wait to leave.

Until a buddy of mine who had invited me to Belgium confirmed the trip I didn't know if I'd be heading west to Europe or sweating it out in Asia.

Will we get to meet the amazing Belgium detective Hercule Poirot?  No.  He's dead.  And fictional.


After getting the word that the trip was indeed on, I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

"I want the guy at my hut at six AM."
"Oh, he don't coming till six thirty."
"If he comes then, he won't find me there because I want to leave at six."
"I call him."

I mistakenly thought this would be the most nerve wracking part of the trip.  Oh, the innocence!

There are only two ferries per day off of the island.  If you miss one, you need to wait until the afternoon for the next.  And that would be after your flight to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia had already left so you'd then miss the flight to Istanbul Turkey.

Because I am paranoid of someone even less competent screwing things up, I like to check things.  Turkish Airways had indeed sent me a confirmation e-mail for my ticket but they'd cancelled the payment and my flight without bothering to send an e-mail about that.

And they wouldn't let me buy a new ticket.

Super.  Thanks so much.

So pissed.

Kuala Lumpur is a major airline hub so I figured I could go see someone and sort out that mess when I got there since it would be many hours until my flight.

The ferry back to Banda Aceh (Aceh is pronounced 'Ah-cha'.  Why isn't it spelled like that?  Who the fuck knows.) was smooth and noisy with the locals blasting music and children and smoking incessantly.   I would like to note that if women smoke, they do so at home and in private.  I'd asked why since the men smoke like they're practicing it for the Olympics.  "It is not polite" for a woman to be seen smoking.  Wow.

When the ferry docked and I disembarked I heard someone call my name.  It was a very clever local who had learned it from me when I first got there weeks ago and somehow remembered it.

This is a clever guy.  Of course I will ride on his wildly unsafe tuk tuk to the airport.  Note that the tuk tuks here are like motorcycles side car with you a bit higher than the driver.  Think 'catapult in case of accident'.

I can fly!  I can fly!  I can (splat)!


"How much to the airport?"
"How much you want to pay me?"
"Eighty!"
(Looking hurt) "Hundred!"
"OK."

I knew the price was a hundred.  Bargaining skill.

Once in the Banda Aceh airport, I discovered they were implementing what I call a 'sting in the tail' for departing travelers - a 100,000 IDR 'airport tax'.   Fortunately, I'd purchased my ticket before.  For one time travelers, these shenanigans are always a double fuck.  You'd carefully gotten rid of your local currency only to be told you need more to leave.  In addition to getting fucked by the airport, you can again get fucked by the currency exchange people.

There was no Turkish Airways office in this tiny airport.

They did have a restaurant that sold spaghetti.  Since I'd not eaten all day, I decided on a small meal to tide me over until the major airport of Kuala Lumpur and their expensive American fast food.  Remember, I'd been eating nothing but healthy Indonesian food for weeks and that might kill an American.

Took a picture because they gave you so little.  Sure, it was only 25,000 IDR but four fork fulls (say that five times fast) does not a meal make.  Had another after this one.

The only thing the airport had in abundance was brief power outages.  Thinking those might not be so great for the whole 'airport thing'.  Quite a professional confidence booster.

After several hours of waiting, the plane eventually managed to fly me to Kuala Lumpur.

Kuala Lumpur (AKA "KL") is a major hub.  If you come to this part of the world, you will probably either be flying into KL or Bangkok.

Most airports have easy to find ticket counters staffed with happy (well, not entirely miserable) people who can fix you up with tickets.

Not KL.

Their offices are hidden upstairs behind the food court and only staffed sometimes.  Naturally, Turkish Airlines wasn't when I got there.

So I went to find my American fast food injection.  Wendy's isn't nearly as good as back in the USA so I went for Burger King and was content.

Most people eat fast food because "you know what you're getting".  And that tells you everything you need to know about how adventurous most people actually are.

I ate it because I really, really, really wanted some dead cow without bits of jagged bones in it.

While waiting for Turkish Airways office to maybe open, I went to check out two other airlines who go to Istanbul - Malaysian Air and Emirates Airways.   Their prices were a bit more than the $460 of Turkish Airways weighing in at an amazing $750 and $1000 respectively.  Holy shit.

Despite having been told that it would be hours until Turkish Airways office maybe opened, I went back there to camp out.  Worse come to worse, they might find me dead just like Kenny from South Park.

"I don't want to go into too much detail but... you choke yourself with a belt around your neck while masturbating dressed up like Batman or something, then you pass out from lack of air and apparently it makes your orgasm super awesome." - South Park

But surprise!  They were actually in!

After explaining my problem and showing them the confirmation I'd been e-mailed, they said they could fix it.  I gave them my credit card and discovered they (and the website) don't accept debit cards.

What the ever loving fuck.

This is the first place I've ever run in to that doesn't treat a debit card exactly the same as a credit card!

The ATM gave me the majority of the money but of course not enough.

So I got to dig into my emergency cash.

Note that neither Captain Jack Sparrow nor a treasure chest were in my emergency cash.  Not much treasure either.

After going downstairs to a bank and playing the "Can I exchange this bank note here" and "Sir, we do not nor do I even know what country that is from" game I managed to scrape together enough cash into Turkish Lira to go back and buy the ticket.  The price had gone up by nineteen dollars but I just put that down in my mind as a very small reasonable bribe and a lot cheaper than the other airlines.

Everything that day was a lot harder than normal.  Not just the big stuff but strange little things too.

Like when the escalator I was on stopped leaving me halfway up.  "Great, now I'm stuck here!"  Oh, the looks I get when I say these things.

The Turkish Airlines flight was the best one yet.  By requesting it, I got the escape hatch seat (no extra charge) and nobody was sitting next to me.  Which is probably pretty good for them because I was pretty damned ripe by then with the stink of Asia sweat still on me.

Just that dirty.

After an eleven hour flight, Istanbul.

Wow, does this picture make it look super awesome.  I've not yet found the stuff I like there.

When you are tired, you make stupid mistakes.  Like using an ATM that doesn't have an open bank attached to it.  Which ate my mutherfucking card.

The culprit.   Fuck ING Bank.  Fuck it right in it's goat ass.

Whenever I talk to other travelers and the subject of plastic comes up, I always tell them "The more you have, the better."  When they tell me "One is enough for me!" I hope they don't run into this situation.

Of course I need to call ING Bank but I have no Turkish sim card.  Nor money to buy one.  Because the fucking machine ate my card.  And you really don't want to buy a card for a country you will be in for a few hours.

The information desk (isn't) was of no real help.  "Go to the post office in the airport.  They have a phone you can use."  And perhaps it will magically translate the automated menu as well.  Because you know they don't have a 'Press 2 for English' option.

So I went to a different bank that I should have used the card at and talked to the lady.  She was very kind and helpful and called the evil ING Bank for me, navigating through their unhelpful automated call response blockades.

She discovered that it wasn't a matter of simply sending a technician out to unlock the machine, check my ID and return my card.  Nope!  They wanted me to contact my bank (Paypal) and have them send paper work to them.  They will then eventually maybe give back my card.

After hearing that load of shit, I really really wanted a crowbar.

Damned crowbar store.


Then, I wondered 'how could this possibly get worse?'

And that's when the zipper popped right off my bag.  I shit you not.

Note that I'm not telling you all this to say 'woe is me'.  But when you are tired - as you often are while in transit - you do stupid shit.  And sometimes, the universe just feels like taking a big shit on you.

I hate drama but suppose it does make for a better blog.

After exchanging yet more of my emergency money with the nice helpful lady (she is happy) I sought out the metro rail system.

This is a great thing.  It hooks right up to the airport, only costs 4 TRY (Turkish Lira) to use and allows you to bypass all of the taxi drivers.  These guys have such a bad reputation that entire articles are written about their evil.

The train was easy to use, fast and clean.  Fuck the taxis.  If you don't have coins, the machine takes a 5 TRY note.  It gives you 1 TRY change and a plastic token you use to get past the barricade.   There are even route maps inside the car and the destinations given in both Turkish and English.


Otogar is the main bus station in Turkey.  It is pretty much a town within Istanbul.  Big, dirty, crowded.

Picture taken by some slick professional.  Who seems very tall.

Fortunately, I knew to seek out Metro Bus.  They have an excellent reputation, decent buses and are arguably the cheapest.  They have two offices and I made the mistake of going to the smaller one.  Which gave me a ticket and sent me to the larger one where the bus would go anyway.  The offices are only fifty meters or so apart but apparently the company is doing really well.

The larger place also has a phone charger which is great because the battery goes down really fast.  Asia makes shitty batteries.  I have a small battery charger but it was out of juice.  Again, Asia - shitty batteries.

So after my eleven hour flight, I got to wait a couple more hours for the six (actually turned out to be eight or so) hour bus ride.

I used the bus wifi (it kind of worked, I was happy) to tell Georgi (my contact in Bulgaria and grandson of the owner of the apartment) all that had happened.

Felt so sorry for the old guy who sat next to me for the entire bus ride.  I stank.  Bad.  Close to thirty hours of non stop travel after leaving the sweat capital of the world.


In good news, I left a place where the temperature was in the mid thirties and went to a place where it might get up to the low twenties.



CELSIUS FOR DUMMIES

You know why Americans dislike Celsius?  Because they are always trying to convert.  Remember, "Math is the devil, Bobby."  No, I don't know who Bobby is.  That's just the saying.

C     What it actually means

0      You are really cold.  Water freezes at this temperature and you are mostly water.  Get out!
10    It is chilly.  If there is wind, it gets really cold.
20    It is warm enough for a t-shirt.  Hence, for Logan, the ideal temperature is somewhere between
             ten and twenty, closer to twenty.
30    You are sweating balls.  In SE Asia the locals are complaining about how hot it is.
40    You are in a desert.  Not the edible kind - that is a 'dessert'.  This is the one where shit dies.
50    If you aren't dead, you may soon be.

I don't know a lot about the negative numbers because hey, fuck cold.  In Siberia, I've been told (by people insane enough to live there) it gets down to negative forty.  Fuck that.

So now you know how to do temperatures in pretty much every place else in the world.



AND NOW BACK TO OUR STORY

Last we left our intrepid hero, he was totally grossing out some nice old man by simply sitting next to him and stinking.  Just nasty.

The bus only left fifteen minutes late which counts as a win in Turkey.  It all seemed to be going really well until we got to the border.

A lot of the people who smuggle stuff just aren't very bright.  They do things like 'line backing' (where they have other people go first) and they dress in ways that tip off the guards.  Like the girl dressed in what I call 'whore sheek'.   Bottle blond, revealing clothes, badly painted pink toenails sticking out of high heeled sandals and fake eyelashes I've not seen outside of a bad porn movie.

Not sure who considers these eyelashes sexy.  Aside from people who make porn.  Note, this is not the actual girl - just wanted to show the length of the eyelashes.

She stood out from the regular crowd.

And obviously something went wrong.

A guard brought her to the bus and wanted to see her bag.  No bags.  Where are the bags.  Here, you wander around un-escorted and un-watched while I go find out what to do.

After a couple hours everyone - including the lady - get back on the bus and off we go.  I was very curious as to what the fuck happened but I don't speak any Bulgarian.

Ah well.

After the exiting Turkey side, the bus immediately stopped at the 'duty free' shop so that people could stock up on things that really didn't strike me as that great of a deal.

Not that great of a deal unless you want high end stuff slightly cheaper.

More waiting.

Then to the Bulgarian side.  Where the Turkish side had been fairly quick checking people through you might want to allow a lot of extra time on the Bulgarian side.  They obviously need to hire a lot more people.

After we crossed in to Bulgaria, we got to see several kilometers of parked trucks waiting to go through the border.

I had been extremely concerned about 'is Bulgaria within the Schengen area'.

For those who don't know, here's a map:


Here is Logan's interpretation of this.

You have the European Union.  Some countries are members, some are not.
You have the Schengen Area.  Some countries are in it, some are not.  Some are sort of in it.

Really - sort of.

Bulgaria is in this classification.  For other countries within the Schengen area, they are.  For outsiders they aren't.

Confused yet?  Imagine if the issue mattered very deeply to where you traveled.  What a pain.

For normal tourists, the Schengen area agreement is wonderful.  It means that when you visit Europe, you can go where ever the fuck you want and not have any border controls.  It is like getting to visit the fifty states without needing to go through a border control station between Nebraska and Iowa.  It use not to be like that.  Every country you had to do the whole border song and dance.  (Editor:  Not a literal song and dance - usually.)

An excellent song and dance.

For anyone who wants to be in Europe for more than three months this sucks ass.  You can be in the Schengen area for three months out of six.  Then, you can fuck right off.

Considering I need to be in Belgium at the end of September (it is June at the time of this story) it makes a big big difference.

Everyone had different opinions as to whether Bulgaria is or isn't.  The internet also has different opinions.  Really.

I have two things in my favor:

a) the border guard I questioned about it said that Bulgaria is NOT.
b) the stamp he put onto my passport was so light I'm thinking it may not be legible.  This may come back to bite me in the ass later but he apparently had run out of ink awhile ago and didn't care.

Hence, I get to hang out in Bulgaria for a month and a half then wander around eastern and central Europe before putting a toe into western Europe.


[For those wondering how Logan is able to afford even a week in Belgium, simple answer, someone else is paying for it.  Food, drinks (including alcohol) and lodging.  I just have to get there.  Note that if you want Logan somewhere, paying for all those things is a pretty good way to get him there.  Pretty damned good.  Plus, in this case I get to hang out with an old friend.  Epic.  Dry humping statues may be involved.  If so, pictures will be posted.]

Even before the border, the wifi left the bus.  I'd read about this when doing research in the past so I managed to send off all my panicked rambling messages early on the ride.

Within these messages, Georgi sent me several cab numbers that were trustworthy.  In Bulgaria it is important to get a cab that works for a company rather than an independent cab.  The company ones charge very reasonable rates, the independents will fuck you.

By 'cab numbers' I mean the numbers on the sides of the actual cabs.  Not sure if these are the company names - as opposed to an actual name.  For anyone traveling here, the numbers suggested are: 6665, 9199, 6155, 6160.

The first cabby was lurking near the bus station and followed me to the currency exchange where yet more emergency money went away.  When I tried to find out approximately how much for the trip, he was very vague and wouldn't give an answer.  I tuned him out and ignored him.  Found a cab with 6665 on the door and asked him.  Though he didn't speak English he signaled, "I don't know, I use the meter, probably 2.5 or 3 LEV."

Got in that cab.  It was 2.5 LEV, I just gave him 4 LEV.  That's a bit over two dollars.  Done.

It was a lot further than I would have wanted to walk even if I didn't have all my worldly possessions with me.

After traveling for a bit over thirty five hours, I was finally at the apartment.  Georgi's father immediately offered a beer.  I refused but accepted water.  Felt so rough.

Did I immediately go upstairs and have a shower?  Hell no - needed supplies.

Off to a restaurant to get food for the evening and to a store to get some necessities.

Then shower, food and sixty percent of a bottle of whiskey.

Fell asleep before I could finish it.  Dammit.


The next day, something which had been held back for the entire thirty five hour trip came forth.  I had to take the big shit.  Most people's scream "Daddy!  Daddy!" and they have to kick it back into the toilet.  Mine instead said this.

And that is the story of the Big Shit.  Turkish Airways unexpectedly cancelling the ticket, Big Shit.  The machine that ate the card, Big Shit.  And of course the Big Shit was the Big Shit.

For those only paying attention to the bad, I would leave you with the these:  The helpful lady at Turkish Airlines who got me a new ticket in an amazing seat.  The helpful lady who used her personal phone to call the evil bank on my behalf.  The fact that I would have soon needed a new Paypal card as that one was going to expire in about four more months.  People are really super nice and I appreciate it every day.



THE ROUTE

For those who haven't carefully studied the blog (what are you thinking?) here is the route I've taken thus far:

Trip begun 1/4/11 (note, I use European style dates which makes so much more sense than US style.)

UK, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bosnia, Serbia, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, (ship across Black Sea), Georgia, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, India, Nepal, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Cambodia, Thailand, Turkey, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuana, Poland, Germany, Spain, Morocco, Germany, USA, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, you aren't even reading still, Costa Rica, Panama, sailded to Columbia, Columbia, Ecuador, Perus, Panama, Dominican Republic, Germany, your eyes have glazed over, Turkey, Ukraine,, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Greece, Italy, Tunisia, you are growing sleepy, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, you are now hypnotized, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Thailand, send money, Malaysia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Bulgaria.



ENGRISH

In much of the world, English is spelled like it sounds.  You know, logically.  Spaghetti becomes 'spagetty'.  Since English is no longer the language of America (or the UK for those who know some history) but the world, I've noticed it is beginning to change in much of the world.

Sure, tourists may roll their eyes at the way 'inferior primitive non-English speakers' they look down their noses at spell but personally, I don't mind the words changing.

Fuck spelling bees.


DID YOU KNOW?

Did you know that at the bottom of the blog (the whole thing, not just this posting) are a bunch of cities and countries.  If you click on those links, it takes you to pictures from all those places.

My youtube channel name is Logan9a - there are over six hundred short videos from around the world showing a lot of different stuff.



THE TRANSITORY NATURE OF THINGS

As I watch my gear slowly (sometimes quickly) fall apart, it causes me to ponder the transitory nature of things.  Everything is temporary.  Perhaps that is why some people take on crippling debt to attempt to 'build equity' in a home.  It is a 'permanent' abode.  It always seems to come back to fear of mortality.  While I personally look forward to my own eventual ending, it won't be something I'm going to be able to blog about.

...And speaking of transitory...



SELF EXAMINATION

Going to share something personal.  Apologies if it is too personal.

No, it's not about my latest bowel movement.  I don't consider those personal.

Two days ago, my mother died.

First thing I did was to sit down and analyze my feelings about it.

Emotions weren't really involved - they simply weren't there.

She had been living for the last couple months in a hospice home and in a considerable amount of pain.  So, I'm sure that death was a release from this pain.

My father yet lives and for him I am sure that it is a crushing blow.  He's been married to my mother for something like fifty years.  You can't just shake that sort of thing off.  It will burden him for the rest of his life.  That's the negative part.

I'm glad that on the LHI (Logan's Home Invasion) tour I had gotten to spend a couple days with them.  I told my father then that I wouldn't be back for any funerals.  Simply, I don't have the money to jet back to the USA to attend a funeral then jet back to where I live (Eastern Europe and Asia).  "I came to visit you guys while you are both alive."

Normally, males have a very strong bond with their mother.  Yet, I'd never really gotten along - or even 'clicked' with my parents.  At the age of sixteen I'd moved out of the house and begun to work.  Never asked my parents for nor expected anything from them.  It was not a very emotionally tight knit family.  Even tonight (via Skype) I'd asked my father "How are you doing?" and he talked about the paperwork and preparations he needed to make for the funeral.

Discussing emotions is not within our family dynamic.

Yet, a decade or two ago when I had heard that a childhood friend had taken his own life I was literally stunned for an entire day.

Hence, I find my emotional reaction to this situation curious.

Edit:  Please don't say 'our prayers are with you'.  That is as useful as 'raising awareness' and I don't believe in a 'sky daddy'.  I'm putting this up not to garner some sort of sympathy but just to examine my feelings on the matter and share them.  I do hope others are closer to their parents.

And now, to leave you with something to lighten the mood.



FROM THE INTERNET...

Right sign but I'm thinking she wouldn't be smiling like that if she was reading my blog.  OK, maybe she would.  Is this about my blog?  Don't even start with that "You know, there are other things out there people find offensive..." crap.



COSTS

Taxi driver, comes to your door (supposedly) and takes your luggage (well, the backpack anyway) to the car and drives you to the ferry - 100,000 IDR

Slow ferry (not much slower than the fast ferry at tripple the price), 27,000 IDR

Metro Bus ticket from Istanbul to Plovdiv Bulgaria, 60 TRY

Phone charger in Metro Bus station, 1 TRY, got about 15% battery back for that.  Slow.

Bulgaria shopping trip:  Hand full of cherries.  Hand full of strawberries.  Bigger than a fist block of Feta cheese.  Two bottles of inexpensive wine.   Three candy bars.  A banana.   26 LEV.  (About 15 USD).  Nice.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

ALL HAIL OUR INSECT OVERLORDS!

RAMBLINGS

Well, I am declaring that (for me) Sabang (Indonesia) is a complete bust.

It's not the primitive surroundings.  I can handle needing to sleep under mosquito netting which helps some.  Not being able to use toilet paper nor having a bidet is a nuisance but still workable.  For those wondering how to wipe, get your hand wet from a ladle of water and jam it on up in there.  Rinse and repeat.

For those 'oh I want to get back to nature' people, fuck you.  After you've had monkeys land on your corrugated roof very early a couple mornings you will come to like nature better from a distance.

The problem is that unless you are under water, this place has absolutely nothing to see.  Nothing.  I've walked to a nearby village a couple of kilometers away and wow it was lame.  Since SCUBA is beyond my meager income - even if I want to spend $250-300 to get certified any time I do one dive in a day I've blown my daily allowance - that leaves snorkeling.

Hey kids - when you smoke for four decades small dogs have a better lung capacity!   I am the anti-role model for kids.  "You wanna be like Logan?  No?  Then stop eating so many sweets!"  "You like swimming?  Don't smoke like he does - you will smell like shit and you won't swim well."

Because of this, I'm going to start doing some research on Sri Lanka.

As you may have guessed, the kind of travelers that come out to this fairly remote and wild region are pretty hearty and experienced travelers.  During the nightly dinner (which is the best $2 per day I spend) I've heard a lot of positive talk about Sri Lanka.  Friendly people, low prices.

And Buddhists.  Which means I may get some alcohol going.  Good deal.

Rather than storm off half cocked, going to do some research and publish it into the blog.

Either way, I will end up ditching my fifty dollar plane ticket which would take me back to KL.  Given how much I dislike this place, I can live with losing that money.



FUN PHOTOS  (OR WOULD PHUN FOTOS BE BETTER?)

Thanks to Jason P. for this startling look ahead to the End Times.  All hail our new insect overlords!



NOTE

Sorry for the lack of pictures and things.  I don't have internet here other than what I can tether through my phone - and it is a limited amount.  When I get somewhere wifi lives I'll get more pictures and things going.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

BANDA ACEH AND SABANG ISLAND, INDONESIA

Making this blog on Notepad as the internet is mostly down.

Says I've got a lot of bars but in Indonesia - especially on a small island - this is what we call a 'lie'.

Eventually, I remembered getting taught how to tether my phone to create a temporary wifi hotspot.  That works.  Love my phone.



COUNTRIES IDEALS AND FAST FOOD

It's amazing what you can get out of the way even something simple - like preparing fast food - can tell you about the ideals of a country.

What's Burger King's motto?

Disclaimer:  They are getting rid of this motto because apparently, fuck your way.  The new model should be "Take it our way - like the little bitch you are."


In the USA, where individualism is important this is true.

Asia says 'The nail which sticks up gets hammered down'.   Japanese proverb and a lovely thing to teach the kiddies.)

Order off the menu.  Want extra tomatoes?  Too bad - doesn't come with those.  No, we won't even take extra money to make it that way.  There is a reason our country is poor and we want to demonstrate that.



STUPID IS

Really didn't like this movie but it is damned quotable...

Stupid Logan goes to a fast food place while sitting around the airport.  Since public masturbation would get me thrown into a cell, better eat something instead.  Either way, I get a little joy.

And mess.

While I was at the fast food place I got to see three examples of extreme stupidity.  There were more, but these were the ones I excitedly wrote down.

1.  After eventually explaining to the girl working the counter what BBQ sauce was and that I'd like some, she said they didn't carry it.  "What goes on the chicken nuggets?"  Oh - there is BBQ sauce for those but it is impossible to purchase it unless you want the nuggets as well.

2.  In India, getting menu 'sets' is extremely common all over the country.  Watched the counter girl try to explain - for five minutes - to an Indian gentleman that he had the option of getting fries and a drink with his meal for just a little more money.  Eventually this virgin to all that is fast food shook his head and just walked away.  Fortunately, he seems to have married someone with a higher IQ as she stepped in and took care of it.

3.  When you type an order into the computer, it appears on nifty computer monitors.  They were working fine.  The folks who make the food had no truck with this 'new fangled gadget' and yelled back and forth several times about the same order until it was prepared.  Hate to see what they do during a rush.  Of course, nobody thought to drop some fries in the frier while this was going on so those got delivered about the time I'd finished eating the burger.  One thing at a time is all they can handle.



NARRATIVE

Getting from the unimaginative airport in Bali back to Kuala Lumpur was not a problem.

You can't check in your bags - or get a boarding pass - until three hours before the plane is ready to leave.  This prevents you from entrance into the vaunted inner airport where all the comfortable chairs and less music, screaming babies and narcissistic loud phone users.

The inner courtyard is almost deserted.

At least I got to gorge myself on Johnny Rockets...

Clearly, I ordered with my eyes and not my brain.  'Merican style.  I ate most of the onions rings and ate less than half of the burger.  Pulled off the 'bacon' - it wasn't.  $17 of food.  Note, there were more onion rings originally...  Some have mysteriously disappeared.


The time passed slower than a loading screen.  It was like getting groped by eternity.  Ever wonder what immortality can feel like?

At this point, I discovered the cool new umbrella I got may actually suck.  I like the umbrella because it's an extra three inches or so longer.  Which now makes it a 'checked' item.  Which gets put in the over sized items bundle.

But it's become my cane.


Eventually, I arrived in Banda Aceh.

Before coming, I'd read on the internet the fare from the airport into the city itself is 100,000 IDR.  After taking that long assed drive, it seems 'fair' to me.  He even told me by tuk tuk it was three thousand to go from the city to the ferry and five thousand from the city back to the airport.  Remember those figures.

Got a taxi from the airport with a guy who didn't seem to tricky and evil and made it to the hotel I'd researched.

Full.

And the backup hotel close by.

Full.

And three other hotels in the area!

Full.

And one had no free wifi in the room.  Double fuck you Logan'.

Universe?  Is that you?  Trying to tell me something?

Looking around the small town thinking uncharitable thoughts about the houses and the corrugated steel and crap look of the place I said 'fuck it'.

Usually a tuk tuk is a motorcycle pulling some sort of wildly unsafe metal cage which has wheels and a couple metal chairs inside.  Here, it's almost a side car.

If we get into an accident, I have unimpeded access to the street.  This is why normal side cars you sit down low.  Here, you sit on level with the driver.  Guess I shouldn't have watched that horrific video of motorcyclists getting taken forcefully off their motorcycles.  To the tune of Benny Hill.

The ride to the ferry was not a big deal but when I gave the guy five thousand and wanted change he thought I'd lost my mind.  Holding it up ahead of the ride and asking if it was correct apparently wasn't.  He wanted 30,000 not three thousand.  Not a big deal (it's under $3) and the length of the ride justified it.  The ferry was 27,000 IDR.  On websites they talk a lot about different classes and such.  Don't know where that came from and all the seating looked the same to me.

The ferry itself was a couple hours of 'fun' - even got a little sleep on it.

After the ferry dropped us off, I was offered the price of 80,000 to take me to the place I'd written down.  Again, the price I'd read about.  Normally, two people would sit in the sidecar I was told.  "How?" I asked filling it like jello.

We crawled up hills and raced down them.  Street markings and other traffic ment very little to the driver.  Over an hour later I was deposited but not at my destination.

Oh no.

Where I wanted to go there are no roads.

Begin the game of 'choose your own death march'!

Back in the airport, I'd already begun to stink.

"...Why do poor people smell like sour milk?" - Eric Cartman

I was pretty ripe.

The trail through the jungle (yes) had been built sometime during the time of the Pharaohs and not repaired since.  Since leveling land is difficult they just built it up and down the steep hills.

It was awesome.

Naturally, the place I had read was the 'good one' is at the end of the line.

Just like Colonel Kurtz.


How far could the walk really be Logan?  Going to measure it with a GPS later but the locals said one or one and a half kilometers.  With all my stuff.  Up and down hills.  Through the fucking jungle.


Before I go in to detail on the place I found, let me state that this looked like the best of the places I saw.  Yes, really.

To restate my earlier position, any time you are near the sea or ocean, all of the buildings are shit.  If it isn't, you're paying several hundred dollars a night.  "Sure, you are staying in a dilapidated shit box but look at that view!"

There is a hole in my floor to allow mosquitoes to come in to the room.  From there, they can fly in through the gaping holes in the mosquito net.

Mosquito netting is very delicate.  Every place I've ever been to desperately needs to replace theirs.  Including this one.

Tomorrow I'll get more pics of the room.

I do want to apologize in advance though.  This is the kind of vacation area most people frankly dream of.  I can throw rocks into the ocean from my room.  There is interesting coral really close.  The only thing lacking is booze.  Muslim country.

PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje Bitola Ohrid Struga | Albania: Berat Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples Pompeii Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv

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