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Donate today BECAUSE Logan will probably use the money to fund his upcoming RPG. More entertainment for YOU!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Africa and the Dead Hooker Problems

TUNISIA AND EGYPT

Apparently, Tunisia has also gone berserk.

That's a pity because it is one of the places I was thinking about visiting. Along with Egypt. I'm kind of glad I don't have tickets for Egypt right now. I am a stubborn enough dumbass to try to use them. I'm wondering how much of their economy is based on tourism. According to wiki, "A report[8] by Strategic Foresight Group has calculated the opportunity cost of conflict for Egypt since 1991 is almost $800 billion. In other words, had there been peace since 1991, an average Egyptian citizen would be earning over $3000 instead of $1700 he or she may earn next year." I wonder what the entire country freaking out will do to their bottom line for this and next year. Wiki says that "More than 12.8 million tourists visited Egypt in 2008, providing revenues of nearly $11 billion. The sector employs about 12 percent of Egypt's workforce." Hence, pretty important. Now, mind you I'm not saying they don't have cause to freak out and burn stuff down. I really don't know enough about the situation there. Nor much care. I just want to be able to travel there without being chased by angry mobs. God knows, I've sucked down enough tear gas in my life - don't need more.

From the newscast I watched there was some hint that the CIA might be busy destabilizing the government. Hell, the CIA likes overthrowing governments.

I'm curious what president Mubarak has done that made the people so very very angry. One guy in the video (see 'angry mobs' above) was yelling (in English) about a corrupt regime. I'm not seeing what's changed - it was corrupt last time I was over there. Hell, that's where I learned the word 'baksheesh'.



BRIBERY

Heck, as part of the planning on my trip I'm working on finding out how much I should bribe certain border guards. Yes, that is a topic that raises eyebrows in a small town coffee shop. It is important to know how much you should bribe someone.

"The only time you ever get in trouble for bribing someone is when the bribe is too small." - Logan Horsford [Yes! A quote I am happy to claim as my own and it doesn't look like anyone else has ever said it. At least not on the internet. Hence, I claim this quote as my own, bitches!]

For a good example of bribery, travelwiki (awesome resource - check it) has something to say on Mozambique, to use as an example says "When dealing with the Mozambican police never suggest a bribe, simply listen to whatever lecture they care to give and ask "What can we do about this?". Often they will simply let you go, if they do ask for a bribe the amount is entirely negotiable and can range from a bottle of coke (carrying no identification) through to several hundred USD (minor drug infractions)."

If only Matt had lived in Mozambique when getting caught with all of those dead hookers. Maybe a bottle of Coke would have gotten him out of it! [Note that in a spooky way, the picture on the Coke could be related to all of the previous ones of dead hookers!]



REMEMBER WHEN?

Remember when Pete wanted to go to see Chernobyl? TJ found an interesting article that talks about it here. Apparently, the tours they have there aren't sanctioned by the police as they shoot people for being in there as anti-loot measures.

This is another interesting page of vacation spots as well. Note on the picture of the South African mob that TJ spotted the "PC" of the group - check out the left most guy's weapon. Of all of the weapons pictured there, I find that to be the most interestingly horrifying.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Workin' on the Chain Gang

SHOULD I JOIN A CHAIN GANG?

One thing I've heard about from time to time on the various travel documentaries I've been watching is the importance of having a chain to wrap your bags in and chain them to somewhere. I realize it is to keep some dude from grabbing it and running off. I'm thinking that with the locks I've got I can lock the straps to something to prevent that. I'm thinking if someone has a knife, they can get into whatever they want unless I've got the whole thing wrapped in chains like a cocoon. I don't think I can carry that much chain though. Whenever I'm watching these travelogs the host always has a really small pack or a normal pack that looks half filled. I know they have a camera crew with them but I really wonder how they pack stuff. I've read different things on packing stuff and tried to keep it light but I'm beginning to suspect I'm going to be dumping shit once I get out on the road.



MINI RUSSIA

This is an interesting country. I'm going to have to get better at my 'bribery' skill before I work on getting into there I think.



MAIL

I've been working on getting all of my mail stopped. It's pretty tricky to make sure everything is moved to the new place that will be taking in my mail. I had sent an e-mail to my parents telling them it would be awhile before I had a new address. They were very confused and wanted to know what I meant. I reminded them that they had requested I not tell them when I was doing anything they considered 'crazy' (pretty much everything I consider interesting) until I am back/done with doing it. Since then, they haven't contacted me. I suspect they are worried. Again.



HITCHHIKING

Did you know they even have a Hitchwiki? That's frigging weird. I wouldn't have thought there was such a resource but who knows - it might come in handy.



CLAYMORE MINES

It is important to know how to use a claymore mine correctly.



SIGNS

Americanization within other countries is not always a good thing.



PROTESTERS

Who says that people who worship Cthulhu are uneducated cultists? Some are too educated for their own good.



BLAME

Whenever there is a doubt as to who is behind the evil plot, always look for the fat old white guy with the money.



REPLY FROM SMART.FM

"Hi Logan,

Thank you for your feedback. We can understand how some users would prefer that we tried a donation or advertising model, but we feel the paid service model is the approach that will allow us to provide the best service for our users.

Regarding the new site, there will be many improvements made and new features added over the next few months. As a Smart.fm user, you can use the new iKnow! service for free until March 31, 2011. We invite you to take advantage of this free trial period. We'd also love to hear your ideas about ways to make iKnow! a better service.

Regarding content, the vast majority of the content studied on the site is actually created by Cerego, not Smart.fm users, and the focus of the new site is on official Cerego content, not content created by users.

Best,
Russell Moench"

My thoughts I did not bother to tell him as it seems they've made up their mind. When someone says things like "We can understand how some users would prefer that we tried a donation or advertising model, but we feel the paid service model is the approach that will allow us to provide the best service for our users." you know they are out of touch and full of shit. All of the content I've been using seems to have been made by (and some angrily taken down by) the users themselves. Their new 'best service' model is slower than the old model and a bit more buggy. This leads me to believe the guy who wrote me is full of shit. I'm thinking they are going to fail in the online business world when competing against so much free stuff for a $144 per year charge. Pity.



SILHOUETTE

Had an excellent game session on Friday and put up a new addition to the gaming podcast. For those who don't know about it, it can be found here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

62 days to go

MORE PURCHASES

Additional sacks (they impressed me, hence they get more of my money), door stop (for jamming a door shut), very cheap but very compact rain poncho and water purification tablets. [Note for the folks doing the Western European tour - you don't need those. I got those for when I go to more exotic locals.]



CHANGING ADDRESS

I went on line to find a nice template to use in the change of address letters. I have surprisingly few places I need to change my address with. I think four. I found a nice template here but I had to personalize it a bit. Their phrasing just didn't seem right to me.

The original:

Date
Respected Sir/ Madam,

This is with reference to my change of address.

I have recently shifted my residence and I would like you to kindly make note of the change of address in your records. My new address is as mentioned in this letter. I request you to kindly address all your further communication to me at this above mentioned address only.

Thanking You,
Yours Sincerely,
(YOUR NAME)

My change was to replace the word 'kindly' with 'do it or I fucking sick the dogs on you!'



ANOTHER MAP


I do like this one as it shows the understanding Americans have about Europe.

There are some other maps that American students may actually be able to figure out.



WTF IS UP WITH WATER PURIFICATION TABLETS?

Like this but Coleman brand I can't find on Amazon - Walmart is cheaper for this - buy them there instead:


I was reading the instructions. I realize this comes as a deep shock to those who know me well. Anyway, some key phrases that stick with me include:

"Not to be used on a continuous basis." - So, if you're in the desert with nothing but dirty water around and you're trying to get out, you're in trouble.

"Tablets do not have to completely dissolve to be effective." - Later, under 'first aid' "If swallowed: Call a Poison Control Center..."

Other notes:

Two tablets into one quart. Figures I'm leaving one of the only countries that still use that retarded system of measurement. We don't even have one type of quart -
US Quarts (Liquid) to Liters
US Quarts (Dry) to Liters
UK Quarts to Liters
Fortunately, it seems that one liquid quart (US) is about one liter. Silly.

After adding two tablets to a liter, I have to wait five minutes, then shake the container. Then wait for THIRTY minutes before I can drink the water. Awkward. Sit around waiting and waiting and waiting before you can drink it.







READERSHIP

We now have readers from Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, United Kingdom and United States. [Note: I had to look up the Polish stereotypes as the 'stupid pole' went out of fashion when I was a kid. Fortunately, they seem to have a new stereotype as heavy drinkers. I'm looking forward to getting there. For the Czech Republic, they didn't seem to have one listed. This is a dangerous trend. They must correct it immediately. For Germany, sure it was tempting to go with the typical stereotype but they also have the stereotype of being a lot of industrial, punctual, hard working people. Hard to find a good picture representing that. If we are lucky, we'll get more readers from different countries so I can look up their stereotype and have some fun with them.]

This is great but it does show that people all over the world either a) have nothing better to do or occupy them work or b) have a morbid curiosity at just how insane I actually them or c) are wanting to keep track of which country I am headed to so they know when they should abandon their own country and head for 'higher ground' d) guilty pleasure at seeing just how far one person can de-evolve.



READERS COMMENTS

BTW - if you're reading this blog, don't feel shy about making comments or asking questions, even if you've never met me or any of the other people. Failure to do so will cause you to be inflicted with this.

Some snazzy title goes here

THE TIME MACHINE

I was thinking about the post I had made in the entry "Janeane Garofalo is stalking me" where I had asked "WHAT MOVIES WOULD YOU TAKE?"

It reminded me of the movie "The Time Machine". The 1960's one - not that piece of shit remake that got a couple less stars than the original. Anyway, at the end of the movie it turns out that this guy who had built the time machine took a few (5?) books off of his shelf and the housekeeper didn't know which ones. It was not specified whether it was her incompetence, apathy or illiteracy that was to blame for not knowing which of the books were missing but the best friend of the guy then asked "Which books would you have taken?"

He may just as well turned to the audience, looked dead in the camera and asked "Which books would you have taken?" It was one of those endings designed to make you, the viewer think. So I did. I think they were stupid people.

Lets take a look at it. You have a time machine. You want to go from your time to one where you have found happiness. So, you grab some books you think will help and go. There was never any talk about limited fuel consumption for the time machine, inability to make more than a couple of trips - none of that. And he obviously knew what time he had to go to and from. Why not take a bunch of shit? He is a stupid, stupid man. Or, very impulsive. I'm not seeing either a stupid nor impulsive man coming up with the gumption nor the work ethic to build a time machine. It is disappointing.



NETBOOK VOICE COMMUNICATIONS

When I was in the hospital, I was trying to talk to TJ. It wasn't working worth a crap on there. Unfortunately, I found out just how easy it was to accidentally uninstall the sound drivers. I think I reinstalled them correctly, but who knows. I am no good with computers. I was able to talk to TJ after that but only like 4 words at a time before my voice went away.

Bert will hopefully be able to save us from me. When he gets time (he is tearing apart his new house right now looking for the creamy center or the toy prize at the bottom of it) he will look in his masses of packed boxes (envision end of the first Indiana Jones movie here) to see if he can find a microphone he said I can have.

Whenever he gets a chance to find it, we'll see if he is available to come over and do a sound check so that we can get that up and running. Hopefully, it will work out - and not suck down batteries. Scary there.

I'm also thinking that due to weight and such, the netbook will have to learn to survive in the backpack. I'm not happy about that but combined with the kindle, it just weighs a bit much in my pouch thing.



AMERICAN INVENTIONS

People say that in America we have no conception of history, but I hope this can show you that we do honor history, inventions and the people who made those things come.



ONION NEWS NETWORK

Here are some videos I found of interest to get you started. They are only about two minutes in length or less. Enjoy.

Also, if you are not sure if you are dead or not, you can take this interactive test. Fortunately, if you fail it does give you the opportunity to try it over.

This one is good for travelers. It is an accurate portrayal of American travelers. USA! USA! USA!

And this one - Christ, how many women have I seen trying this?



Smart.fm gets dumber

According to their blog, "Today we are announcing that Cerego Japan Inc. will officially end our Smart.fm service on March 31, 2011." That's a real pity because it was a helpful application to learn foreign languages. I know I sunk some hours into it learning German. According to their announcement, they will be pricing it at 1000 JPY ($12 USD) to continue with the course.

I had put up this in their comments (which I will be surprised if it isn't removed soon): "I'm curious how they are going to transition to a $12/month (1000JPY) service. I noticed that all of the Smart.fm things seem to be *user made*. They merely provide the framework. I'm wondering if they'll just be taking all of that work and charging for it. Or saying they're making it anew. Either way, it is a loss. I'd rather have them put up a 'donate' button somewhere near the top of the page.

Oh, well. Capitalism wins again. Perhaps someone else will be clever enough to come up with an app that works like this where the users can put in their hard work to teach languages. I feel indebted not so much to the hosts of smart.fm but to the users whose work I appreciate.

Thanks folks."

Yes, this is the site that - if they had a 'donate paypal' button up, I'd have gladly tossed them some money. But to go to a pay for site, relying (or stealing) the hard work of the users that programmed it? I cry foul.

Note that after the first few negative/critical comments were posted up, they deleted some of them and began to moderate (ie not posting) all that came afterward. Not only are the people who basically built the site unhappy but now not allowed to post at all. I hope they rethink OR fail. Their choice. I'm guessing they will opt with 'fail'.

In a strange bit of serendipity, their site closes on the 'free' on March 31st. Guess what day that is people?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Janeane Garofalo is stalking me

MORE DOCTOR SHENANIGANS

So I called up the VA and told a nurse there "I would like it if I could get sent a list of what all medication I'm on to make sure I am taking the right stuff." "We can't do that." she responded. "So - I'm not suppose to be able to verify the medicines YOU want me to take? So I should accidentally overdose and die and that's OK? Doesn't that kind of line up the VA for a lawsuit?"

She passed the buck immediately and told me that she would have my doctor called me back. I like that the VA can give me my medicine for free but my God, what a bureaucratic mess.

The saddest thing is that my blood pressure - the whole reason I went in - is back up to what it was. My vision is a bit blurry and my hands are shaking just a little. Much hate for doctors right now.

I guess it's kind of a good news, bad news thing. The good news is I have a pretty decent supply of medicine to start me off - the bad news is that it doesn't seem to work very well. Sigh.



WHAT MOVIES WOULD YOU TAKE?

I have about 500-600 gig of movies. They nicely fit on a one TB drive. If I wanted to take the 1TB drive, I'd also have to take the external drive reader and then worry about only having one power converter. I said "Screw that". The hard drive on the tiny, non-expandable netbook is 1/4th of a TB - 250gigs. More than enough space for someone who isn't interested in storing or watching movies. So, I said to myself 'even with all of the other crap on there, I could still get up to 100gigs of movies on there without really filling it up.' After going through my hard drive storage, I came out with like 60gig of movies I decided I'd like to take with me.

So, I selected just the movies I'd bring with me. Some were movies I wanted to see again, others were 'comfort movies' - movies I find myself re-watching in different moods. Because I'm guessing that there is someone out there who is curious as to what kinds of movies I'd take with, I'm making a list. In order to keep it from just being a list, I'm also putting in some comments on some of the movies.

Here's the list for those who are interested:

Doctor Who - 2005, 2006, 2007.
Austin Powers 1,2,3
Back to the Future 1,2,3 - This totally counts as a 'comfort' trilogy.
Basketball
Bourne 1,2,3 - I would have paid good movie to not have the 'unsteady cam'. Unsteady cam is a cheap film school stunt that the director never ever learned MUST be used sparingly. Or hire camera men who don't have the fucking shakes.
Conan 1,2 - Wish there had been a #3.
Constantine - I've heard that the theater opening is just pretty much an advertisement for the DVD from some directors. I think that's bullshit. I can pretty much tell you if there will be a sequel made to a movie. On IMDB they have two figures - 'budget' and 'gross'. If the budget exceeds the gross, no more movies of that type will be made unless something very odd and very extraordinary happens. The chance is so slim that you pretty much can assume it will never happen. Constantine is one of those movies I wish had a bigger gross.
Day After Tomorrow - For some reason I have yet to figure out, this is one of the films I watch when I'm not feeling positive.
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid - I made a module out of this one. If you ever watch the movies and see how the detective in that (played by Steve Martin) spouts off some 'nobody knows that' stuff, I would like to point out that one of the players I had live DID know that stuff. I had even changed some of it to fit into the campaign better. He would say "Ah- that is obviously referring to the Chinese year of the Rat, which would mean (and correctly calculate the year for the 1920's campaign we were playing in) and spit out the year. Everyone just stared at him and felt a little dumber. I believe that player we called "Doctor John". As he was an awesome player, he suddenly disappeared. Fortunately, I've managed to retain some awesome players since but that use to be the rule - if the player is great, they disappear. If they were average or less you had them forever.
Dogma
Down Periscope
Enemy of the State - Nice spy film.
Eurotrip - This film will help get me through Europe.
Fifth Element
Firefly 1-14 - Of course I have to have Firefly. I still think one of the best reasons to get a dimensional hopper is to find a dimension where Fox didn't suck so bad and kept the show going for five years or more. Then, I would go there and buy them all. For awhile, I would hold onto them and my players would think I am the best GM ever - equaled only by Joss W himself. Then, I'd sell the discs to Joss. He could then watch them and have a good cry or release them to a better studio. The actors would be very confused, however.
Formula 51 - A film that educates you on England. Original title, "The 51st State". Being that Americans were too dim to even know how they should be slandering England, the title was changed for release in the US but kept for release in England.
Galaxy Quest
Hogfather - This one doesn't get a lot of love but it is my 'Christmas movie'.
Hopscotch - Another solid spy movie.
Independence Day
Indiana Jones 1,2,3 - THERE WAS NO FOURTH MOVIE. BURN IN HELL LUCAS.
Italian Job
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
Joe vs the Volcano - This is a nice travel movie.
Kick Ass - Yes, TJ, it made the cut.
La Femme Nikita - Aside from people who hung out back in the 'Swamp House' back in the day, few people have ever seen this. I am going to guess - before he even says anything - that Pete has seen this because he likes to go to the Melbourne Movie Fest and watch all kinds of movies that nobody else liked enough to put them on the 'big screen'. I do watch this in the original French and it isn't a bad one to help with your French language.
Lawrence of Arabia - My favorite scene in this was when Lawrence was telling his superiors he had shot someone and wanted to be relieved of command. I've had days where I've felt like this.
Loaded Weapon
Logan's Run
Mad Max 1,2,3 - Like other American's, I didn't really care for Mad Max 1. I brought that one along merely for completeness.
Matrix - Two and three were, IMO, sucktastic.
Mystery Men - One of the few good Janeane Garofalo movies. She was also good in Dogma but there way too briefly. [And yes, Janeane, if you are reading this I didn't think the other movies did your talent justice. Or sucked. Or both. And stop stalking me, woman!]
Princess Bride - Always a classic.
Queen of the Damned - The only movie where I can honestly say I like the soundtrack as much as - or more than - the movie itself.
Real Genius - Val Kilmer before he got old, fat and rich. I'm just like him except for the last one.
Ronin - Good, solid spy movie.
Saint, The - Another of Val Kilmer's most excellent movies. I think he had three. Top Secret, Real Genius and The Saint.
Serenity - Need it.
Three Days of the Condor - Solid though very old and dated spy movie.
Top Secret
Twister - Another 'comfort food' movie.
Zombieland - You can never tell when you're going to need some of the rules to living among zombies in your daily life.


I may end up getting some more on there before I go.

Logan's hospital adventure

One of the things they like to do when they are concerned about your heart is have you run on a treadmill to up your heart rate. This allows them to see much different stuff than when you're comfortable and at rest.

They took one look at my fat ass and said "Do you have trouble walking?" I said "Let us say I have a distinctive walk." They made the decision to inject me with chemicals. It was an uncomfortable hour.

The doctor then started saying that despite me passing the stress test he was wanting to give me some sort of groin test thing because I was having 'so much chest pain'. I asked him what the fuck he was talking about. He told me that was what was written on my chart. Apparently, the minor twinge I'd mentioned became the main reason I was in here. The high blood pressure that got me in initially seems to have been forgotten. Or perhaps it was not important enough to warrant me getting into the hospital.

After giving me a stress test and coming up with nothing, they decided they wanted to do another test. I told them "So long as the doctor advises it and it doesn't cost me anything, sure." After going away to verify it wouldn't cost me anything they came back and told me "There would be a small deductible."

I eyed the doctor and said "What's small?" He didn't know. I said "A couple grand could be 'small'." He agreed and now I'm waiting to get discharged. Yes, I could have just had it done and left the country but I'm attempting to leave no debts.

Being that I am a pain in the ass and saw no reason to wait for paperwork for two hours, I gave them a choice between me unhooking the wires and getting out of there quickly or them doing it. They chose to do it and I was out of there in half an hour.

I've never understood why they want to keep people in the hospital longer when it is obvious they aren't doing anything for the patient.

None of my problems were solved - my eye still hurts and my leg still has (apparently) poor circulation. All I got out of this hospital trip was different medicine - which could have been done over the phone. I think I'm going to try to stay away from doctors until I get to 'death's door'. I'm starting to develop Baron Munchausen's feelings toward doctors.

I had specified when I went in I authorized nothing that wasn't covered under my medicare. If they want to charge me anyway, find my ass in Kenya.

So I'm out of the hospital.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

How many days left for God's sake?


Typical 'Warning - Monster Activity' sign in both Australia and New Zealand. You have to be careful of monsters in those countries as they are extremely poisonous.




01/24/2011

Well, this is my first - and hopefully only blog entry from the hospital. It's hard to type with the pulse thing on my finger but I think if I took it off, all hell would break loose.

My blood pressure had been very elevated for the last three days. I called the VA and told them about it and they said to get to the hospital. So here I am. With an oxygen tube up my nose. Im addition to the various people looking after me in the emergency room there is a retired military guy. I think he's going to look after me.

God, I should have eaten before I got here.

Update: Being a pain in the ass, plotting & scheming and being transferred from the emergency room to the normal rooms has resulted in me getting a couple sandwiches. Well, if you want to be exact, it was six sandwich halves so three sandwiches. Not the worst hospital food I've ever had but not as good as the Mexican food less than a block away. I had stopped threatening to walk over there because I figured it was closed. Otherwise, I'd have kept it up. Fat people will be fed!

Anyway, I am writing this from the second floor of the hospital (Montgomery Regional Hospital - Blacksburg, VA. This is apparently the place to be sick. Every room is a private room. Every room has a flat screen TV. And four chairs. I said that middle class Caucasians just don't have the strong family ties to fill those chairs but you still get four. I guess that is to make up for the Filipino family that has people lined up in the hallway. I am willing to lend them my chairs!

With the exception of an off handed remark I had put up on the HC boards, nobody knows I am here. Stealth hospitalization!

Update - Richard gave me a Skype and I talked to TJ via skype. My gods the internal microphone is absolute shit on these. Fortunately, Bert said that after he digs through a box that he would get me a mic that used a USB and had it's own sound device built in. I might be able to convince border guards that I am part of a TV show with all of the electronics I have.

More hospital related insanity later - going to try to get some shut eye.

I'm awake. I've been thinking about the potential for a comedy skit about a hospital getting paid extra to test the effects of sleep deprivation and stress on it's patients. They would make it appear to be completely innocent but it could be pure evil.

Scene: Guy pushing a cart down a hallway. Another guy says "Hold up, Stibbons!" He carefully adjusts one of the wheels. The wheel, now rattling and squeeking is the center of a camera close pan.

Scene: Nurses station. The monitors set up for a patient are actually to monitor his sleep. One guy has fallen into a deep sleep and is danger of getting some rest. The nurse grabs and clipboard, goes into his room and wakes the patient with "We just had a couple questions about your insurance, Mr. Peabody."

I'm thinking "Python-esque" would work.

Anyway, it's now morning and I'm waiting for doctors, nurses or someone to come and talk to me about whatever. I can hear them at the door. "Add some more clink to those glasses, nurse!"

Looks like they're going to take me for a heart stress test.

Watch this space for 'what happened next!'

Ramblings of An Old Man - Lumsie book

Back when I was playing NERO I had a character who wrote a trilogy consisting of four books. Yes, he was that kind of character.

Because some people have asked for the books I am going to put them here in my blog so that we can keep them around - well, for as long as the blog isn't deleted anyway.

I'm not sure how much you'll get out of these if you aren't into roleplaying games, LARP's and that sort of thing. If you're not into it, that's all good - skip any entries with 'Lumsie Book' in them in the blog. There are only four books and I'm not playing NERO any more so you won't be assailed unsuspectingly by more in the future.

There will be a total of four blog posts with this information on - one for each book for cleaner access.

Note that sadly the original difficult to read fonts didn't survive being brought into this blog. Very sad. Much easier to read - but still very sad.

I'd also like to thank Derek and Julie Jones who had these on their hard drive and were kind enough to send them over.

Keeping Your Skeletons Their Whitest - Lumsie book

Back when I was playing NERO I had a character who wrote a trilogy consisting of four books. Yes, he was that kind of character.

Because some people have asked for the books I am going to put them here in my blog so that we can keep them around - well, for as long as the blog isn't deleted anyway.

I'm not sure how much you'll get out of these if you aren't into roleplaying games, LARP's and that sort of thing. If you're not into it, that's all good - skip any entries with 'Lumsie Book' in them in the blog. There are only four books and I'm not playing NERO any more so you won't be assailed unsuspectingly by more in the future.

There will be a total of four blog posts with this information on - one for each book for cleaner access.

Note that sadly the original difficult to read fonts didn't survive being brought into this blog. Very sad. Much easier to read - but still very sad.

I'd also like to thank Derek and Julie Jones who had these on their hard drive and were kind enough to send them over.

Book of Tactics - Lumsie book

Back when I was playing NERO I had a character who wrote a trilogy consisting of four books. Yes, he was that kind of character.

Because some people have asked for the books I am going to put them here in my blog so that we can keep them around - well, for as long as the blog isn't deleted anyway.

I'm not sure how much you'll get out of these if you aren't into roleplaying games, LARP's and that sort of thing. If you're not into it, that's all good - skip any entries with 'Lumsie Book' in them in the blog. There are only four books and I'm not playing NERO any more so you won't be assailed unsuspectingly by more in the future.

There will be a total of four blog posts with this information on - one for each book for cleaner access.

Note that sadly the original difficult to read fonts didn't survive being brought into this blog. Very sad. Much easier to read - but still very sad.

I'd also like to thank Derek and Julie Jones who had these on their hard drive and were kind enough to send them over.

Book of Everything - Lumsie Book

Back when I was playing NERO I had a character who wrote a trilogy consisting of four books. Yes, he was that kind of character.

Because some people have asked for the books I am going to put them here in my blog so that we can keep them around - well, for as long as the blog isn't deleted anyway.

I'm not sure how much you'll get out of these if you aren't into roleplaying games, LARP's and that sort of thing. If you're not into it, that's all good - skip any entries with 'Lumsie Book' in them in the blog. There are only four books and I'm not playing NERO any more so you won't be assailed unsuspectingly by more in the future.

There will be a total of four blog posts with this information on - one for each book for cleaner access.

Note that sadly the original difficult to read fonts didn't survive being brought into this blog. Very sad. Much easier to read - but still very sad.

I'd also like to thank Derek and Julie Jones who had these on their hard drive and were kind enough to send them over.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Food and Civilization

FOOD AND CIVILIZATION

Being that I am a fat man, I find that I like to equate many things to food - including the 'level of civilization'.

Primitive - 'Food quest' level of dining. This is the type of food that comes from bits normally not considered 'edible' by civilizations higher up what I'm thinking of as 'the food chain'. Most of the world seems to be on 'food quest'. Unless for religious reasons, vegetarians do not exist at this level. My belief as to why is that it is more of a 'if we don't eat (whatever) we die. So - an 'us vs them' type of mentality.

Basic - You have to get off your fat ass to go to the store or restaurant to get food but they eat normal stuff. They claim normally inedible parts of animals to be 'cultural delicacies'. One of the favored games of civilizations at this level is 'What will Effendi eat?' For those not knowing, 'effendi' in this case is referring to the tourist.

Normal (for highly developed countries) - No ears of animals and stuff like that to be found aside from in very specialized parts of the country. For example, the 'pork rinds' of the hicks of the USA. At this level, the dreaded vegan makes their appearance.

Decadent - "Who is still open for delivery at this hour?" You can also get specialized delivery organizations that will bring you whatever weird shit your heart is craving. If you want a pound of chocolate, a tin of sardines and an inflatable sheep at three in the morning - this level of civilization is the one that has organizations set up to get that for you and quick. At this level, the uber-vegan makes their appearance. The uber-vegan does not use any products that have been in an animal's shadow.



MOVIE REVIEW - LORD OF WAR

I'd give this about a 5 out of 10. It was a bit slower than I liked and overall a bit depressing. It did have a couple OK scenes and was well made.

Logan's movie scale:

1: This is so bad I don't know why the studio that made it hasn't been burned down.
2: This is so bad, I'd suggest rounding up all of the copies made of the film and destroying them. Or showing them to people instead of waterboarding them for much the same effect.
3: This is the usual rating I give to films I don't make it all of the way through. Either the film is too slow for me or has nothing that interests me.
4: I made it through the film and thought it was bad.
5: I am ambivalent about the film. If given a chance to see it again, I wouldn't but I'm not willing to slit my wrists for having seen it.
6: This is the minimum for making it into 'the collection'. Whether it gets watched again ever is anybodies guess. This is the minimum level I would recommend the film to anyone and no - I don't give them spoilers. I might say something like "I really liked the scene at the airport". That kind of information doesn't tell them anything and after they've seen the 'scene at the airport' they can say 'ah!' - or 'Logan's a tool'. Either way.
7: A good solid film.
8: A very good film indeed.
9: Films that are very close to the best but not quite there.
10: This is the kind of film that gets re-watched more than one time a year.


EUROPE AS SEEN THROUGH LOGAN'S EYES

This is my 'further wanderings' map. Apparently, I can't stay in the countries with the black slash through them for three months each - the EU (clack slashes through them) is considered one big country as far as the 'spend your three months here then get out' time goes. So, I'd have to 'duck into' for three months.

The countries that are crossed out in red are 'gosh are they expensive' countries.

The countries colored in red are ones that I'd want to find out more before going in as my safety might be a concern, or it is a 'real pain in the ass' to get into the country. For example, Saudi Arabia has a really 'we don't want tourists' way of getting the visas. You have to get them in advance, etc. Also countries that charge a bunch of money (like $100) - especially if they only let you stay there for a month. I can go back and see those countries after I see everything else.

Not sure if I want to enter Israel - doing so limits your travel options elsewhere as none of their neighbors seem to like them.

Note that this is only my 'Europe map'. I'm wanting to start there. I'm not sure how much I'll be able to travel or for how long. My body is really not doing well but I'm going to go for it with all of the gusto I can.



GEORGIA (the country)

Interesting fact, quote "Citizens of EU countries, the USA, Canada, Japan, Israel, Switzerland, Singapore, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, San Marino, Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, South Korea and CIS nations (except Russia) need no visa to visit Georgia for up to 360 days [2]."

Now that's what I call 'wanting tourists'! Leave our country for five days every year and you can stay here as long as you want!

Now - I have no idea if they have anything nifty to see there but the cost of living does look pretty inexpensive. Might be good to check out. From what I've read, seems there are some friendly folks there.

Naturally, they do have some 'parts of the country not under government control' - so I would need to be careful on where I traveled...



INDIA

I was talking to a guy from India today and mentioned that I might end up going there some time and he told me that they occassionally give foreigners really long - like several years - visas just to encourage them to stick around and spend money. I like that sort of attitude and I also like how cheap it is to live in India. I'll see if that sort of thing can happen when I get closer to being there.



GOOGLE SEARCH

Amazingly, this blog is the top search result if you search for "Logan's Voyage"! Woot.



LATEST BAG REPACK

I lost some clothing (intentionally) out of my bags. If anyone thinks of anything critical that I am needing, let me know - I think I've got enough 'extras' though. Here is what we've got it down to. Note, the clothing listed will be additional to what I am wearing. Most of the stuff is in water proof bags or clear 'freezer bags'.

Pair of shorts (can double as swim trunks if I need to horrify the natives)

Pair of sweat pants (black)

2 T-shirts, black, no writing.

4 sets of underwear

4 sets of socks (one of the travel writers mentioned that socks and underwear determine when he has to do his laundry - that sounds good to me so I'm taking less shirts/pants and more socks/underwear)

Travel towel

Power transformer (shitty)

Small, light possibly inappropriate gifts for friends (note to friends - please do NOT buy me anything as I won't be able to carry it. If you feel you wish to reciprocate, you can buy me a drink or something. These were VERY inexpensive gifts - a beer or two would certainly cover it. I got these small gifts way before I knew I'd be trying to live out of a bag for an unknown period of time).

Crappy travel alarm with instructions

Lotion, very small tube (it puts the lotion on it's skin)

Wash cloth

Drain stopper

Cord (as in cloth cord to tie stuff up with or make a wash line. Note - you should not read anything into the fact I am carrying both the lotion and cord. It is merely a coincidence).

Electric razor (that might go if I need to lighten the pack. I would then join the ranks of the unwashed bearded hippies. Dirty, dirty hippies).

Toiletries (miscellaneous shit your probably happier not knowing the specifics of. Instead, let your imagination run wild).

Flashlight (one of those LED ones - seems powerful as hell)

Earplugs (for when screaming at someone just won't do the trick)

Extra glasses in a 'crush resistant' case. (Note that I did not say 'crush proof' but it is the best I've got).

First aid kit containing:
* Some very old bandaids
* 3 spools of thread (very small spools, dark colors)
* 3 needles (I am worried that the TSA will say "Ah - plan to stab the pilot in his EYES and take over the aircraft, eh?")
* Very small container of Krazy Glue (Bert told me that if I get a blister from having walked too much that I can lance it, drain it and put Krazy Glue over it to make a second skin. This seems like it could work but I do have two thoughts on it: a) have you seen me? Do you really think I'm going to walk long enough to get a blister anywhere? b) I have thoughts that if I tried this, I would somehow get my foot stuck to the floor and end up with much worse pain. However, it is a good thought, very light so what the hell.)
* Small eyeglass repair kit (hope I'll never need that)

Extra crappy lock

Extra D-rings (these are the small ones for repairing my bags if the plastic crap on them goes. Not the big climbing ones. I don't plan on climbing on jack shit.)



Things yet to be packed:

Wires for all of my electronic shit. Having the electronic thing without the correct wires means I won't have the electronic thing long.

Medicine - possibly with my bulky blood pressure machine. High blood pressure is a pretty serious risk and mine has been way up lately. So I'm very much considering this.



Things I need to still buy then pack:

Rain poncho

Water purification tablets

Condoms (Fat, ugly people need love too. Plus I'd much rather have them and not need them than need them and not have them. Also, as we have seen in the movie "The Big Red One" I can make ten condoms into two gloves and deliver a baby if need be.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lets track down Michael Palin

LOGAN'S OPINION OF WORK


[BTW - If you think this is 'safe for work' you are wrong, wrong, wrong.]



LANGUAGES TO LEARN

Most spoken languages in the world - interesting. I can communicate (abet badly) in #3 and #10 and have downloaded #2 and #4 (and French which didn't make the list) for later perusal. I don't think I'll get very good at any of them but if I can make myself understood - and maybe understand someone else) eventually. I'm still working on forcing German into my brain. It goes slowly. [Disclaimer: Germany is one of the places I would live at (at least when it is not cold) if I had the cash. I've always liked it and the people there.]



MOVIE REVIEW - RUN LOLA RUN

I've been watching Run Lola Run (auf deutsch but with subtitles). It has the same hot girl from The Bourne Identity in it. It's a weird ass movie that seems to involve her running everywhere because she had her moped stolen buying smokes. So, I guess you can smoke then go run like six miles. At least in the movies. The beginning of the plot of the movie is that the main girl (Lola) has a dumbass boyfriend who loses a bunch of money he was suppose to be delivering to some gangster types. It's one of those 'interconnected story' type of things. The girl seems to have a super power where if she screams in frustration, glass breaks. After twenty minutes of the film, I think the best thing about it is a) Franka Potente (who you get to see running a lot and with bright red hair) b) hopefully it's helping me with my German. Other than that, it's meh. It's a very weird movie with frequent bouts of animation thrown in for some reason. I don't recommend watching it unless you need to build your German language skills. Or want to see a bizarre movie. I remember reading on the site I got the title from that it was one of the student's favorite German movies for learning the language from. If that was one of their favorite movies, I know why the USA is in the lead with the whole movie industry thing.



VOLTAGE

I was doing some studying on foreign voltage and such. I checked out this webpage and found that my products had the potential to be dual voltage. After closely examining the cords for my netbook and kindle, they both turned out to be dual voltage. Happy dance. That should mean that the converter I already have should work fine. Now, that doesn't mean that it won't cause it to blow up when I get there, but I am able to harbor under the happy delusion that I don't need to spend an extra $60 right now.



BURDEN

For entertainment, I was thinking about taking one of my one terabyte hard drives packed with movies. A TB of movies is enough to keep me entertained for quite awhile. The plan has several downsides. I would need to keep the HD in a box well wrapped to keep it from getting jostled around. Bert told me hard drives don't like jostling. I would also need to take my external hard drive enclosure. Which needs electricity. As the power converters and such are really heavy (for my weak ass) I could only have either the laptop OR the enclosure plugged in at one time. I'm not sure if it makes sense to carry it. The pack is already pretty damned heavy. I know that the new netbook is only suppose to weigh a couple pounds but it feels like more - especially with the cords and all. So, I'm pondering that. I suppose that if I didn't have the movies to watch, my blog would get even more verbose. I'm not sure if that's a good thing.



TRACKING DOWN MICHAEL PALIN

Apparently, he lives in London, England. As opposed to London, Canada. Not sure if he wants me to drop in though. In addition to the wonderful Monty Python stuff I've been watching his numerous travelog's. My God, he's been everywhere. It is interesting that despite his extensive travels, the thing he will always be best known for is Monty Python. I'm not sure how he feels about that. Think about it - you did a TV show for three years thirty-seven years ago and that's still what you are best known for. Kind of weird.



Top secret cover sheet

Ah, the memories. (I know sticklers will point out the last picture is actually from Vietnam, but I say this.)



EXPAT PLACES

I was looking at some websites that give expat information. I'm going to wander around and see what I like before making any decisions but gathering information never hurts. It seems that it is possible to expat to the Czech Republic. [The Czech reaction.] You just have to start with a short extension on staying there then build up. If I decide I must live there for a long time, I'll look into it but I don't have the money to hire Jana to be a permanent translator and the alternative would be having to learn Czech. Plus, they have winters there. Not thrilled about winters.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

70 days to go!

We the writers would like to make it clear that the opinions expressed in this blog are my own thus hold no truth whatsoever. Miming or doing an interpretive dance of this blog is strictly forbidden by the Geneva Convention.



COMMENTS

If anyone wants to leave a comment in the 'comments' section below, please feel free to do so. After all the stuff Jamas had to go through to make the comment section work and show up, I'm feeling vaguely guilty that nobody has left any.



A BIG THANK YOU

Well, I think the blog is a bit more successful than I thought it would be. It's getting an average about thirty hits per day from currently seven countries. I wanted to thank everyone who helped me out with all of the stuff to get it into the right format and stuff.



SMALL SNAG

On the HC boards, Pete wisely pointed out "One thing with the EU Schengen Convention is that it's 90 days for all the countries in it, not 90 days per country before you need a visa." This is something I did NOT know about. That means I will have to be sure to bounce back and forth between the 'Schengen' countries and non-Schengen ones. That makes it a bit trickier for me - I was under the delusion I could stay in say Poland for 90 days then Czech Republic for 90 days. I'm thinking that there may be some clever way around it - like getting a visa for say Poland that would get me out of the Schengen visa. I'm not sure if that is possible but it might be good to check out when I'm over there. If not, I can do something like bounce between three countries - that will keep me from undergoing any lengthy waits as I must leave one country and wait till I can get into another. Again, I think it will be something to find out more about when I am over there. I can check with the US embassies on my journey. It will be one of the least critical problems they've probably had to deal with.

Pete is a clever bastard but the rules there make me sad.



NETBOOK

Well, my new Toshiba 'netbook' arrived. Bert kindly came over and spent some time stripping all of the useless crap that computer manufacturers delight in putting onto it off. It appears that (after upgrading the memory) we will have enough to run Skype and record at the same time. Bert also got me a link to something that works like 'powergramo' but is free. I will be recording the next game session with it. Fear not, at the urging of Richard I tried simultaneous recording with Audacity and it seemed to have no difficulty. I'm not sure what it does for the memory, but we'll try it out. For those of us just now joining us and not knowing what the hell I am recording, be sure to go search iTunes for Silhouette - the explicit one. It is a recording of a tabletop RPG game I do. Anyway, if the Toshiba actually works out OK and doesn't get blown up or stolen it should be a handy 'link to the world' and I should (if I have internet) be able to have the option of running stuff while away on vacation.



STATE DEPARTMENT WARNINGS

I'm just not sure how accurate these are. I know that if you act like an idiot in any country you can get into some hot water. [Stay tuned for "Logan in Hot Water"...] But some of the stuff they have on there - I'm just not sure after reading it what the actual danger level is in the countries I've considered going to. In order to try to compare with somewhere I've been, I looked up the UK. Here are some of the key phrases I picked up from the State Department:

"As with any major metropolitan city, U.S. citizens are urged to be cautious and aware of their surroundings.

Typical criminal incidents include pickpocketing, mugging, and “snatch and grab” theft of mobile phones, watches, and jewelry."

"You should avoid walking in isolated areas, including public parks, especially after dark, as these are advantageous venues for muggers and thieves. You should be especially careful using underground pedestrian tunnels at night or when there is little foot traffic."

Doesn't that make the UK sound scary? I realize that it's been twenty years since I've visited it but at that time the whole terrorist thing was still going on and I thought the UK was one of the safer countries I've been in. Full of nice people.

So, I'm taking the US State Department's advice with some salt. I know there are a lot of people with no common sense out there who don't know when they're entering a 'bad area' or spot a 'rough crowd' but I'm not bad at figuring that kind of thing out.

So, I think I'm going to have to get 'feet on the ground' in these countries to really figure out 'is it actually dangerous'?



PUBLICATION FREQUENCY

I've had some folks ask me how often I intend to publish this blog. Pretty much 'as I get interesting enough stuff - and enough of it' is my general answer. I'm not trying to 'publish every day' - just as I get enough content.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

72 days to go!

Warning - insanity gotten from this blog may be both rampant and contagious.



CHATTING WITH BERT

He is a rock. In fact, I'd gush so far as to say "If you're ever in Blacksburg, VA, pick up a couple steaks and go pay him a visit - unless you're an excellent cook he will make them better and you can have a nice visit. PS: Don't bring alcohol."

Bert's pretty much happy to come in and take any and everything out of here that I don't. Food, shelving, tables, computer, etc. TJ - get here quick if you want those Cthulhu books - otherwise, Bert will get them after I split. It gives me great peace of mind that it just isn't all going to waste.



He's even willing to take what will be left of my prized Kool-Aid collection.


Now, Bert did offer to store stuff for me but to be honest, I am excited about cutting all of my worldly possession ties and getting out on the road. [Well, I tell a lie - I do have a couple hard drives he's going to hold on to for me.] Bert has given me a lot of peace of mind for my trip.


Something else that Bert suggested I look into:


This would be handy for not only recording game sessions if the netbook isn't up to it but it could be neat for walking around and doing podcasts in the interesting places I go to. I put one into my Amazon cart for 'maybe later'. I'm not sure how much of my money we're going to eat through in Western Europe and I don't want to buy anything I don't have to before I go. But it is possible.

Something else interesting - he had asked me if there was anyone I needed to keep in touch with. I gave it some thought and it is all via the internet these days. My mother is even on Facebook. Damn, that is convenient.

I had mentioned something to Pete that may help explain why I am preparing to embark on such a lengthy expedition. I told him that I would rather be killed in a foreign country than slowly waste away in the USA. It would be more interesting. Naturally, I hope that I am NOT killed in a foreign country but I think I have a risk no matter where I am. I am opting for adventure rather than a completely sedentary lifestyle. Not for everyone, I know.



BLOCKED BY MLK

I was going to work on getting some more stuff done for the trip with the bank and the VA clinic, but I was blocked by Martin Luther King's birthday. I had to look it up on line to know why nobody was answering their phones.



MICHAEL PALIN

Been watching a lot of travellogs by Lonely Planet and others by Michael Palin. I do like Palin's BBC documentaries though they only only show snippets of each of the places he visits on the shows I've watched. And he is not funny on it, but he does do the 'charming Englishman' well. Much better than YOU Matt! Wanker. By that, I mean "Matt is a wanker" if you are reading this Michael Palin. If Michael Palin is reading this it also means I've gotten a lot more funny and interesting than I ever thought I could get or Michael Palin is a lot more bored than I thought was possible.



CHATTING WITH AMY

For those who don't know Amy, she is a friend of mine I met long ago. I think she was 16 at the time. And I was like 30. Now, she has a baby named Elba (not mine) who I get in trouble for calling "baggage". Amy is a great gamer. One of her characters "Crazy Kara" still sticks around in my memory. Anyway, we've been friends for over a decade now. No, I don't know exactly how long as I think she stopped having birthdays in order to prevent any further aging. Seems to be working so who am I to point fault at it?

I started to go through what I think of the 'phases of parenting' with her but didn't get to complete them because little Elba got tired and had to be 'put down' - in Amy's terms. I'm guessing that she meant 'put him to bed' rather than 'make him feel bad by telling him he is a useless baby and such. Or shooting him. I figured I should specify that because we've got people from six countries that read this and people in New Zealand might not have any clue what I'm talking about.



PHASES OF PARENTING

So - the phases (as Logan sees it) of parenting. Disclaimer: Logan is a confirmed bachelor and likes not having any kids. I remember back in my twenties people would say "You're probably going to get married in the next year or two" When I got to my thirties they would say "Oh, some day, you'll find the right girl...". Now that I am in my mid forties, they shrug and say "Obviously, you were always meant to be a bachelor. Where the hell were these people when I was in my 20's and 30's telling people that? Don't mistake that I don't still have people telling me even these days about a story of two people in their forties who fell in love, hooked up and all of that. I always smile and tell them, "I have always made it a habit never to date or become involved with anyone with more mental problems than I have, hence I'm not worried about ever getting married." And that still doesn't get rid of them. Honestly, it makes you want to go borrow a fire hose. This lengthy disclaimer may have distracted you from the fact that we are going to get to the 'phases of parenting as Logan sees it'.


Stage 1: Fuck your social life.

In this phase, the kid is totally dependent up on you and guess what? Any friends you had? Gone. Hobbies you enjoyed? Gone. Time to yourself or with your significant other? Fucking gone. If your friends thought you became a dusch bag when you originally met up with this guy/girl/alien and never wanted to hang out with them anymore - here's a newsflash for them (and you) - you had TONS more hanging out with them back then. Now, that is GONE. Unless you are part of the less than 1% that can afford live in maids, ship the kid off to some parochial school that the kids in your family have gone to since time began and you remain blissfully unaware of their existence until they become more interesting - but I don't know any of those people on a personal basis. Now it is true that some people have so little going on with themselves that they have no hobbies, no real interesting parts of their lives that they are bland and this really helps out. Those people get hit very hard in stage 3. This stage is generally thought of as the 'baby stage'.


Stage 2: Unpaid Taxi Service.

I think my parents tried this until I was old enough to communicate that I really had no interest in any sports. I know that it is considered part of 'good parenting' to constantly drive them around (school events, sport events, etc) but dang - I owned a bike. I remember taking it to the baseball field on my own to participate in a pointless game when I was a kid. But, soccer moms and other people who want to live vicariously through their children will drive them endlessly around. This stage is 'as soon as they can demand you drive them to the park'. A lot of parents like this stage because in addition to wanting to (for some reason) live through someone else and forget about their own dreams left unfulfilled by onset (or surprise onset) of stage 1 the kid/kidlike being actually wants to hang out with you. "Mommy look at me!" is a common heard phrase. Not "Daddy look at me!" as he is often either slaving in the salt mines or has dumped the woman for someone younger/hotter/more male.


Stage 3: Abandonment.

Welcome to Dumpsville. Population: You - and possibly your significant other/husband/wife. At this point, your son/daughter/artificial intelligence is working on a) distancing themselves from you b) creating their own identity c) rebelling d) fitting in with their peer group who is also trying all of the same crap but whose parents (according to your son/daughter/talking parrot is SO much cooler than you it makes him/her/it wish they could be adopted by other family. The sad thing is that if you check out the other family, yes, they are that much cooler than you. Despite all of the work you've done in stage 1 and 2, you suck. Sorry. The kid would like nothing better than for you to move out of the house and keep paying the bills. If you go into their room you will get more shit than when the USA foolishly invaded Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and anywhere else we've stuck our noses into within the last decade. Some parents (read as 'abandoned refugees') will try to get back with the friends they had blown off back in phase one (or pre-phase one if they blew them off while dating). Some of the friends may be suckered back into getting together with the couple (or what remains of said couple) but many will get together with the ex-friend only long enough to realize that person has completely changed or they have no common interests left to discuss. News flash for those with kids - your single friends probably don't want to hear about them. Seriously. If they ask, just assume they are being polite and keep it brief. If they continue asking questions after the normal period, sure you can gush - but chances are excellent they won't. The only kids I personally am interested in are ones that I am related to (I have two nephews and one niece) but I am waiting till they get older and hopefully develop some more interesting hobbies. Like spear fishing. Or become adults - teens have very little to say and are usually mono-syllabic. Also - remember when you gave up your interesting hobbies back in Stage 1? You got a lot duller. You might be able to pick some of that back up. Most don't. I'm not sure why. It could be that they actually have to work at it. It could be that they have had some part of their brain broken by parenting. Not sure.


Stage 4: Money goes bye-bye.

This is usually for people rich enough to send their kid to college. These kind of people like to buy bumper stickers like it's some sort of badge of honor to be sending their kid to 'higher education'. My personal favorite is when they send their daughter to college for either a four or six year degree and she gets out of it - marries - and never works. That's just sad there. Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying "Investing in females getting any sort of education is a poor idea". Cynics may argue that is just because I don't want to get beating the crap out of by a bunch of highly educated women. To me, it just seems a hideous waste of time and money. I suppose it is theirs to waste. Some people will attempt to justify it by saying that going to four or six years of higher education makes a woman more qualified to produce babies. I'm not sure, but more power to them.


Stage 5 (optional): What - you still here?

I kind of think of this as the acid test for 'how has the parent done at making their child self sufficient. If the kid has come to live with you after they have gotten done with college (or high school if they take no college), you fail. People like to give lots of excuses and such but if your kid is living with you for say over a year after they are done getting 'educated' you have failed.


These are just an outsider's opinions on what he believes the phases are. Just because I am completely correct doesn't mean someone won't want to argue with me.




LONG TERM PLAN

See the green areas on this map? Try to stick to them - I should be able to afford those. Disability doesn't pay that much...



EXCELLENT PICKPOCKET ARTICLE

Here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Full body condom

Welcome to more crap you can read while you pretend to work.





I have decided to say "fuck it".

Just because I've got a return ticket to the USA does not in any way force me to use it. Sure, people say "oh - but you'd be out the money you spent on it!" These folks obviously have no clue that buying a round trip ticket was significantly cheaper than buying a single one way ticket.

Unless I have significant unforeseen problems while overseas, I'm just going to stay over there after the normal vacation portion has ended. Places to go and all that.

Good news for the readers of this blog - assuming I am able to get on the internet, the blog should get much more interesting. Well, hopefully.



DWELLING AND STUFF DISPOSITION

As I'd already paid my rent ahead through the month of April which I will not be using, I inquired if I'd be able to get that months rent back. My landlord was skeptical saying he wasn't sure. He didn't think he'd be able to get anyone in to rent the place immediately and this would put him into a bind. I've never heard about a rent situation where the renter had to worry about whether the landlord would be put into a bind by their leaving before but - on the other hand - I am not griping too much because I didn't have a deposit nor lease. This is a good illustration of 'no good deed goes unpunished.

Whether I get back the rent or not, I have no desire to mess with the guy who took me in when I needed a place to stay - nor screw over a friend of Bert's. He will just get a more 'furnished' apartment if I don't get it back. Heck, maybe it will make him more money. By 'furnished' I mean that I am not going to break my back (already broken) trying to lug my bed out and the shelving will be here either way - unless looted already. [Let's be honest for a minute - I don't know if I could get the bed out of here even if I was highly motivated to do so.]

Even if I don't spend any time cleaning it, the room will still cleaner than when I got it. I know that doesn't sound lovely but when you are trying to live in the USA on not much money, you have to take what you can get often.

I know that Travis hasn't expressed much of a desire for things I've accumulated. He is pretty minimalistic. Bert might take a few things to help furnish his 'man cave'. I hope he does - it would feel a bit wasteful if everything just got trashed.

Pretty much the only gear I've got left that I think will be of interest to someone is a couple of good sized 'gamer' tables, two chairs and the computer.

I've told TJ that he can have my Cthulhu books if he picks them up before March 1st - otherwise, they're Berts. Unless Bert doesn't get them before I leave - then they're whoever wants to come in and offer the land lord cleaning services in exchange for looting services.



OTHER INTERESTING PLACES

One thing my landlord did mention was that he heard a lot of expats moved to Thailand. They apparently welcome them there though he did warn about getting any sort of exotic disease. I told him not to worry - I used the full body condom. You were wondering when that would come up, weren't you? From what I'm seeing on the internet, living there (well, life there - to be honest) is cheap. I've got to admit, Asia seems much more interesting to me than Central America. For those wondering, yes, I've lived in Asia before but not Central America. More good news - I would be closer to Oz and New Zealand if I eventually retired there. No, I'm not saying "and that's where I'll end up" but it is something to keep in mind. I think I'd like to live there for awhile to see if I like it.



GROWING INSANITY AND BOREDOM

In between my ever increasing bouts of madness, I have been feeling bored out of my mind. I'm thinking that even if I end up coming back to the USA for some unforeseen reason I'm done with Blacksburg, VA. It's a nice town with friendly people, aside from occasional bursts of extreme violence. A nice place to raise a family. [Disclaimer, none of those children is mine.] So - even if I do come back to the USA, I'm not envisioning Blacksburg, VA. Maybe somewhere else, possibly even in Virginia - Travis did pain a nice picture of Virginia Beach - but the amount of snow they had this year has put a couple cracks in it. I'd like to try escaping the snow and cold for awhile.

What has been keeping me closer to sane (I make no claims to sanity) is writing the modules (see below), researching places I'd like to see, studying German, sticking way too many links on this blog and... Oh crap - I don't have a lot that is keeping me sane. Actually I've been feeling a lot like the first minute (only) of this. I've just been feeling like I've been waiting. Now, gentle readers, I don't want you to get the feeling that I've been sitting around feeling angst like I'm some sort of messed up emo fat kid. I'm just really, really impatient to get underway.




SILHOUETTE - THE SERENITY THEMED RPG

I'm not sure how this or if this will affect any of the last ten sessions of the RPG I run over skype (see here if you have no clue what I'm talking about) but hopefully it won't much. Bert has said that he has several microphones suitable for traveling with and he's going to get me one. After the 'netbook' arrives and Bert upgrades the memory in it, I'm going to try using that in tandem with my normal equipment to see if it has the memory to do recordings. If it does, the next session I'll try using that instead of my normal desktop computer. If all goes well, the netbook can take over.

I do enjoy writing the modules a couple hours every day and even more so GM'ing them. I'm curious as to whether it will continue to work out when I'm overseas. I think keeping track of 'what time is it for Logan so I know when the game starts' will be more interesting. For players in Europe and Oz (I can't spell Australia) the time should be more convenient. Not sure about the players in the states. Like Travis. Actually, come to think of it, he is the only player that is in the USA.

On the game - for those who haven't looked at a calendar - I am NOT going to be GM'ing on March 31st as I will be on a plane and they tend to frown upon that sort of thing.




OTHER DETAILS I NEED TO SEE TO

I've got to see my banker to try to get a new debit card - this one expires this year. I'm also going to tell him to make mine accessible to a wider zone (ie 'world') for a longer time (ie till I say so) and find out about what I can do in case of emergencies (lost or stolen card) while overseas. Find out if they can wire me money and such.

In the tiny hamlet of Blacksburg, they have no coin collection stores. I've got a couple coins of marginal value (a good $4 over face value, hurray) and two ounces of silver in coin form. I'm going to have to see if I can swing by there. If I can't, I'll just take the two ounces of silver with me and sell the rest of the coins at face value. They are Eisenhower silver dollars - not worth much but the coin shop did tell me on the phone they were worth $1.10 instead of just a $1. Probably not worth going to the shop and I am sure I can cash in my silver in Munich. Yes, I've a good idea where to go for that sort of thing. Yes, it would be legal. Don't look at me like that - it's only two ounces of silver, for gods sake. It will come out to about €40 or so for both ounces. Not a huge amount. In writing this, I think I've come to the conclusion to say 'screw the Eisenhowers' and just sell the silver overseas'. Well, that saves me a trip.

Medicine. My one and only 'well, crap' in all of this travel mojo. I'm going to have the doctor write up my prescriptions and send them to me. We'll see if I get them in time. I will try to specify he write them so someone who barely speaks English can read them. I'm curious to see if I will get them in time or at all.

Forwarding address. During my last couple months in the states, I'm going to try to figure out who all is trying to send mail to me and get them 'change of address' forms. Not sure which of my friends wants to be the lucky recipient of my mail yet. I'll have to talk to them about it. That's a pretty big concern. I'm thinking that I'll leave some money with them so that they can forward off anything they deem important to me. I'll check with US embassies and consulates in whichever country I intend to remain for a bit and see if I can get them to accept a package for me. Failing in that, I'll try for the 1920's trick of 'general delivery' at the local post office. Or rent a post box for a month. I'll figure something out. It's mainly to get my meds for as long as I can. If my 'grand experiment' works well, I should be able to return once a year to the US for a check up and reissue of medication at a minimum. If it doesn't work, I'll have to punt.


Any way it goes down, it should be an adventure!

[Note on the preceding photograph. As a fat man, I have fought - sometimes unsuccessfully - against gravity all of my life. It is my enemy and I have no intention of giving it a huge advantage by jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. That is merely a suitably an exciting enough photograph to attempt to capture the spirit of adventure.]

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pain in the ass countries

Welcome to "Pain in the Ass Countries" where Logan bitches about other countries restrictive tourism policies!

Today, we've got two BIG countries for you!



Welcome to CHINA!

Really big. Loads and loads of history. Interesting stuff there. Cheap to live. However, it costs just under $200 to get a 30 day pass into it. And 30 days is the max.

Did the leader, see Team America and say “Screw that!” to tourism?



Welcome to RUSSIA!

Apparently, you need to get INVITED into the country. And you pay for the invite to the tune of $300. Plus the visa itself. Which can take a couple weeks. And quote "If you don't make it through this bureaucratic loop, you may have problems leaving the country." Plus, naturally, you have to pay for the visa itself - and it's complicated enough that they have their own flow chart for you to follow around. Don't know - articles like this make me wary about visiting.


The problem - with China, virtually none. I can go around it and not really worry about it. But - for Russia? It's frigging huge and dominates a lot of area. If I wanted to travel from Europe to Asia, I've got two basic routes - through the Arabic lands the US seems intent on bombing and 'police actioning' (gosh - that doesn't sound too good) or cut through Russia. Or fly over either and hope like hell not to get shot down. It's looking like I could get all the way to Turkey before being confronted with Iran and Afghanistan. I'm not seeing them wanting to express a lot of love to me. I suppose it is possible to go across the Mediterranean and into Egypt (nice folks there) then into Saudi Arabia. Reading the State Departments thing, al Qaida doesn't seem to have been active there for three or four years. Risky but not as hot as Iraq/Iran. Then onward to Pakistan/India and Asia, skirting the southern reaches. We'll have to see about that.



The bag test



I tried reversing the bag and filling it with water. It didn't leak immediately so I left it over night to see what happened.

After leaving it overnight, it still appeared to have all of the water in it. No drips and such. Hence, the bag seems water tight. Now, I'm not sure if this will be a better thing than say zip lock freezer bags (which you and TSA can see into) but I'm sure I'll find a use for them when we get closer to 'show time' and do the big repack.






The three choice plan

After I get back from the first trip, which I'm referring to as my 'shake down' trip, I should know better if I'm happy living out of a backpack. I figure when I get back, I'll have three different options:

A. Get out quick

This is the "I've got four days to clear out of where I'm living. First step - buy a plane ticket on line. Thank the guy I've been renting my room from and go go go. I imagine it would involve a lot of dumping stuff outside, maybe putting up a sign that says "Free shit". Bribe TJ with gas money to roar down in his truck and grab the Cthulhu stuff I promised him. He and his wife said they'd be fine holding onto some of my crap as well so maybe squirrel away a couple of things. After spending a couple days with him and his wife (they live near D.C.) I can fly out from the nation's capital to 'somewhere else'. My reasoning is that if I'm not paying rent somewhere I can afford to be elsewhere. Even if all of my costs (rent, food, entertainment) stayed equal but I was living for three months at a time somewhere more interesting - I'd still be living somewhere more interesting.

B. Spend another month

As above but a more leisurely pace. I've noticed that already I am starting to dump stuff out. Being that I am not a 'pack rat' (a person who habitually saves shit, even if it is unlikely to ever be used again) I really don't have all that much stuff. Aside from my computer and Cthulhu books, I really don't have any emotional attachment to anything material here. And my friends? Well, I only have a couple close friends here and I can see them after I have some more interesting stories to tell. Plus, gods know we get together on skype and such quite often. God bless Skype. [Note that if you are not on/using Skype, you are really missing out.]

I suppose this one would be needed either if some stuff comes up I don't know about or if I couldn't get a plane ticket out at a decent rate on that short of notice.

C. Figure out a better plan

This is my 'well, fuck I can't handle living out of a backpack and I'm too crippled' option. If I hit this one, I'm going to have to come up with a better plan. In this option, I would continue living here and renting here. Note if my land lord is reading this blog - PLEASE DON'T RENT MY ROOM UNLESS I DESCRIBE PLAN A OR B to you!




Movie Review

I've been watching Michael Palin's New Europe. He is going into some very interesting areas. Some with 'land mine hazards'. One of the kind of sad recurring themes that I've seen in the former communists countries is they miss it in a nostalgic way. Sure, they had no personal freedoms or liberties - but they had jobs. The countries now affected with freedom are now economically screwed. On the plus side, I can now afford to actually live in some of them for a bit and check them out.

One really nifty place I saw on his show was Istanbul. I'm really wanting to go there but have no clue why - just want to go.

The disadvantage of this show is that they are covering so much, they really don't have much time to do more than just a very little in each place. Kind of like the buffet line for thin people.

One interesting thing about Europe - things that are 'new' are about as old as the USA.

Overall, I think the 7 part TV series is really only good for those with an interest in traveling to those places mentioned. Michael Palin isn't really funny at all in it and the series isn't what I'd call 'exciting'. But interesting.



The Ball

Remember all the bitching I did that Walmart no longer carried balls?

I found one in my place. Weird.






How to be a better edgy (insert appropriately edgy field here)

affectation

1. A show, pretense, or display.
2.
a. Behavior that is assumed rather than natural; artificiality.
b. A particular habit, as of speech or dress, adopted to give a false impression.

The half glass of wine.

Rules of the half glass of wine:

You can never finish it - if you do, then you're stuck with a dirty glass and you look like an alcoholic. You might as well have crushed beer cans littering your workplace.

The wine must not be white. While it is true that red whine is a bitch to get out of carpeting should it spill it looks much better. If you are worried about spilling it, use a larger glass. Do not use a brandy snifter! Should you be clumsy enough to spill even a drop, you must replace the carpeting or again you will look like an alcoholic.

The wine must be real. Should anyone ever discover that your wine is fake (or worse yet - non-alcoholic) your reputation will be in tatters. The cost of the wine will not increase your social standing should it be discovered but it can downgrade it. If you are working at a nice place and drinking 'wine out of a box' people will think you are cheap and worse, have no taste. If your business is small or new and people discover you are drinking a '78 Le Montrachet, they will think you are a fool. Something consummate with your station but realize that people will usually not find the bottle. Again, you cannot leave them lying around. The wine bottle must, however, be allowed to breath and should be left open somewhere - not in a refrigerator!

There should be no other wine glasses on the premises - nor anything that can be used as one. If you are harboring secret shame and have to refill the wine bottle that is your status from one which is not, you don't want anyone to 'join you' in a glass of wine. Should you get a wine 'affectionado' the scandal will kill your business.

This affectation works better with either supervisors or those rare professions that only have one hand free. Obviously, it does no good unless you have customers on your premises.

Since you are stuck holding the wine glass nearly all of the time and when you do get to taste any of the wine within it should only be the merest sip as you cannot empty the glass until the end of day, I suggest not starting one until near the end of the business day.

The 'wine glass' would not work for overly technical professions such as a computer programmer - nobody wants you to be edgy while you're doing code. It would certainly not do for something like a construction worker on the 'high steel'. I'm not certain how full of angst or edgy I want my doctor to be. This would work well for supervisors in interior decoration, hairdressers and artists. Those professions can proudly hold their wine glass disdainfully in their hand and declare "Oh what a bitch of a day I've had!"

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 | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia | Michigan | Illinois | Colorado |

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