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Monday, February 28, 2011

29 days and counting...

MOVIE REVIEW - Fair Game

A drama that deals with America manufacturing the war in Iraq. While I do agree that America does this sort of thing from time to time and would have no qualms about blowing up the rest of the world to protect 'the American way of life', I honestly found the movie dull. I made it half way through before giving it up. This rates it a 3/10 on my scale. If you have a lot of patience in watching slow build movies and would like to see the point of view of America screwing over yet another country, check the movie out. If you are like me and want instant entertainment, avoid this movie.

Yes - I'm sure someone will say "Oh, but right after that, it picks up and is awesome!" Sorry - if a movie (any movie) gets to the point where I'm thinking "Screw this, I'm bored." I don't care how wonderful it gets later. I can watch the really neat scenes on youtube or something. To quote a better film, "You can rob me, you can starve me...and you can beat me and you can kill me. Just don't bore me."



MOVIE REVIEW - THE LOSERS

It was OK- not the best ever but not really memorable or collectible for me. I remember seeing it but not so much what it was about. Hence, not a memorable movie. 5/10.



MOVIE REVIEW - THE MECHANIC

6/10. Some decent explosions and killing. I think the biggest plus of this movie is that I do enjoy having Jason Statham in action movies. This was OK, certainly better than the second and third 'Transporter' movies. They should have gotten better writers - only the first one was really decent. Don't click on the links following if you don't want spoilers! One disturbing thing I noticed in this movie was again, a certain actor gets killed off early in the flick. I've seen that in other movies as well. I'm starting to wonder if he just doesn't feel like making a full movie or the writers hate him. Getting back to 'The Mechanic' (2011), I think it was a bit faster pace than the 1972 version yes. Everything was slower then. Would I see this version again? No, probably not. Was it mildly entertaining while it was on? Sure.



MOVIE REVIEW - HUDSON HAWK

10/10. Such great lines in it as:

George Kaplan: "Yes, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Rome. I did my first bare-handed strangulation here. Communist politician."
Hudson Hawk: "Why George, you big softie."
George Kaplan: "God, I miss Communisim. The Red Threat, people were scared... the agency had some respect, and I got laid every night."

Although a lot of folks have seen this movie, there are a lot of people who think movies made during the 90's are 'ancient history'. This is one that you might want to check out. Bruce Willis back when he had hair! It's got some strange stuff in it but the excellent bad guys (and girls) as well as the dialog and lots of action make it a win in my book. I have no idea why it cost three times as much to make as it made.



MOVIE REVIEW - REIGN OF ASSASSINS

This is a weird movie. The big downside is that you have to pay extra attention to read all of the subtitles as it's in Chinese. Well, I suppose unless you speak Chinese. I don't. They have some good fight scenes and such in it but I think the reason I prefer the other Chinese movie that comes to mind (Mr. Vampire) is because it has humor as well as fight scenes. I'm a simple creature - I like funny and violent.

Anyway, I endured this movie for only 35 minutes thus giving it a 3/10 - the three out of 10 shows "I didn't finish it". I saw the direction the movie was headed and got bored.



TURKEY

More information on Turkey. I was talking to two gentlemen from Turkey - Alpur and Dennis. From what I gathered from them, it seems to be a pretty 'cosmopolitan' place. Not a lot of strange customs to worry about or anything like that.

I did find out that it's not really 'in custom' to have someone rent you a room in their house. It's all about hotels, hostels and such.

From what they were saying, I was concerned about the cost in Istanbul. A quick look at one of the pages for hostels in the area allayed my concerns. If I can stay for 10-20 euros a night there, I should be fine. Alpur made a list of different places that he recommended I should see. I decided to plot these out on a map so that I can make a generalized route to go from west to east.

The full list of places Alpur listed includes:

In Istanbul: Dolmubahce Palace, Topkapi Palice, Princes' Islands, Beyoytu (Pera), Galata Tower, Hagia Sophia Church.

Aegean side: Ephesus.

Black Sea region: Artvin. This one looks like the last place I'll be visiting before I hit Georgia.

Central Nevsehir: Cappadocia. Interesting due to the Fairy Chimneys they have there.

Konya (central): Dervish stuff.


Here is my current map of Turkey with some strategic points marked on it:


Notes on the map: These are only ideas based on what I've read on the internet. Obviously, I'm going to have my ear to the ground - everything could change when I get in country.
Key: Cities with boxes around them are ones that (from the internet readings) have some interesting stuff in them. Crossed out cities have less interesting stuff in them. The blue line is one possible route that hits a couple of the main things that Alpur told me about and gets me to Georgia. The dashed orange line is the 'going below this line may not be safe due to the presence of countries that the country I am from has been waging war on/in'. The ones with question marks may or may not have something I'd be interested in seeing. DISCLAIMER: If you live in one of the cities I've crossed out and are thinking 'But there IS good stuff to see here!', I apologize - tell Wiki. And me, actually.

Normally, I wouldn't be all that thrilled to visit the Dervish area (neat but is it worth going that far out of the way?) but the Cappadocia 'fairy chimney' things look cool.

I'm not sure what Alpur is wanting me to see in Artvin but it is right next to Georgia, so I will be seeing it. In the description, it says "The surrounding countryside offers many places for climbing, trekking and rafting." My initial thought is 'I'll probably go anyway."

There is a town in Turkey called 'Batman'. I can't tell you how odd it would feel to be dressed as Batman there.

In my reading up on Istanbul, it seems there are a LOT of different scams (see under word 'scams' in the article) currently going on there. Extra caution is advised but the city seems like it is worth it.

I would like to thank Alpur and Denis for the additional information on Turkey. I like talking to people who live in the countries I'm wanting to visit before heading to them.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

30 days of creeping insanity to go

FEMALE SOLDIERS

Well, the Onion has pretty much hit the nail on the head with this one. I've always wondered 'why don't they let women into combat' in the armed forces. The answer I've always gotten was 'nobody wants to see their little girl come back dead. The little boys, sure, why not'. I have always secretly thought it was because the 'good ole boy system' secretly worried women might be better at it. Personally, I think women shoud get equality - and I do mean equality.



JIHAD?

How embarrassing for them.



MOVIE REVIEW - SKYLINE (2010)

I'm wondering how this movie could have made back double the budget. Apparently, they spent $10m and made over $20m. This movie has all of the clichés of a zombie movie. The reluctant hero that doesn't have a weapon. The black guy who has a weapon but dies first. The girlfriend whose boyfriend just doesn't get her - and she's stressed out and pregnant. The big breasted bimbo who may or may not have a heart of gold. The older guy who has the keys - in a literal sense. After reading some of the other movie reviews of this, I'm wondering if America is setting the bar lower these days for what is 'a good film'? It continues on it's zombie movie clichés by having the people separated and alone, struggling for freedom, blah, blah, blah. Avoid this film. [Note, I submitted this review to IMDB as well. The review isn't great but considering how bad this movie was, the review may actually be better than the movie...] 2/10 stars.



GOT RAIN?

Here are some rain noises. They help me sleep. They might help you sleep. I wanted to get them recorded so that I could have a link to where they're at in my e-mail in case some kid ever steals my MP3 player. If/when I buy a new one, I can put new sleepy time rain noises on it. I figured I'd put them up here in case it is of use to anyone out there. These are not my rain noises, but good luck ever figuring out where they came from.



STATS

The stats for the month are in. Dec, 698 page views, Jan 860 page views. If I was getting a dollar a hit, I'd be really enjoying the number of hits. As I make exactly a dollar less than that per hit, it's just 'neat'. I'm really curious as to what happens when I ...you know... actually "go somewhere". I think it would be ironic if the hits fell off and people said "Watching him go crazy from NOT traveling was actually more fun". Swine.



MOVIE REVIEW - FASTER

8 minutes till the first kill. It wasn't a bad one. Not sure where the movie is going after 11 minutes in but we'll see. (Cut to, later). This movie I rate 4/10 stars. I didn't much care for the characters, action (too long between shootings or explosion) or the story - it was very predictable. Don't bother with this one.



MOVIE REVIEW - JACKASS 3D

Thus far my favorite part of this is about 20 minutes into the movie. Without giving anything away, I can say that it involved midgets. Funny as hell. Other parts I like include the brief 'Electric Avenue' skit. Some of the stuff was just stupid like the field goal kicking. They also discovered just how hard the game of 'pin the tail on the donkey can really be. And, finding out why they call a certain animal 'a ram'. The 'Poo Cocktail Supreme' was one of the more disgusting things I've ever seen. Give it a 6/10 for some novelty stuff. There were parts I fast forwarded over however.

I'm guessing with all of these movie reviews, people will be able to tell I am bored out of my skull...



AFRICA SOON?

I was reading this article and it was speculating that the youth in the rest of Africa are plugged into the internet and soon may go into the same sort of thing as Northern Africa. This is interesting - I don't know if it will happen or not but it should be interesting to keep an eye on. Thanks to Josh for the link to the new Arabic newspaper.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Logan's Run

LOGAN'S RUN

Bert said that he believes a lot of the hits I have gotten on my blog come people looking for the movie "Logan's Run". I wanted to do a test on that and see if posting something that specifically had things on the movie Logan's Run would actually get more hits than one that didn't. Here's another picture just in case you wanted one. If you've never seen the movie, it is an oldie but a goodie. It was made back in 1976 which usually tightens the sphincter of any of the younger readers but it's not bad. I'd give it 7/10 on my scale.



WHY?

I have been asked the question a couple times "Why are you writing (this) blog?"

Simply put, there are two answers - a) for others and b) for myself. Breaking that down -

I am writing this blog for others because I am going to be doing something unusual (ie NOT sitting at home and watching TV) and it's a lot easier than sending out a whole bunch of e-mails updating people on where I am and what I'm doing. People seem to be curious about other places. Some might be planning a trip, others living vicariously through me (as they can't or won't do an actual adventure trip) and some others just like to 'see what the crazy fat bastard posted this time'. I think (hope) it has a high humor and entertainment value. Plus, it should also be a good indicator of when/if I perish unexpectedly. I don't think anyone would be able to do anything about it if it happened but maybe they'll raise a glass in my honor if they notice I've gone for several months without posting.

I am writing this blog for myself because, I believe, first and foremost it will provide a record of where I've been and what I've done. Anyone who knows me well knows that my memory isn't all that great. I'd like to have a record and pictures to look back on to see where I've been, what I've done, who I've met and all that. I think it also takes care of some of the creative urges - who hasn't wanted to write a book at some point in their lives? The bad thing about writing a book is that it's usually (unless you're Steven King or some such) a labor of love that takes several months or years and won't sell enough copies to make you any money. Print is dying anyhow. So, this is my 'creative work'. Would I be writing it if a film crew was following me around on my trip? Don't know - we'll have to try it out.



TV SHOW REVIEW

A Cook's Tour aka Anthony Bourdain No Reservations. It seems to have switched from the first title to the second starting with season 3. Probably because the first title wasn't all that snazzy. With the show itself, it's OK. I don't really recommend it all that highly. I've only been watching the ones of places I'm intending to travel. He has a different take on traveling - he is going for the food. I can respect that. As an example, when he went to Egypt, he did not go to the Pyramids. No big deal there but it does show he isn't really a 'typical' tourist. It's an OK show but there are better.



ELECTRONIC SMOKES

A bus driver told me about this recently. The Blu brand is $70 but I heard they have one at 7-11 (convince store) for $10. I might just check it out. The ones by Blu have the end light up and you get to breath out ionized air that looks like smoke. The charging unit is apparently shaped like a packet of smokes. Brilliant - it's a nice idea. I really don't know if I want to spend $70 - or even worse, carry more electronic shit. Something to think about. It would probably be a big improvement for health.



SWEARING

Anyone who knows me (or has been in my presence) knows that I consider 'swear words' as 'just other words'. I firmly hold to the belief "There are no bad words, only bad intentions." In other words, if you say "Well, mutherfucker" when something goes wrong, I don't see that as bad. If you call someone a "Mutherfucker" then that is bad - or at least showing you probably don't like them. For our foreign readers, it totally depends on voice inflection here. If someone says "mutherfucker!" in surprise when they see you - they probably aren't calling you a name, they are just using that to express surprise and possibly joy at seeing you. Yes, the English language is just that fucked up.

Anyway, I was hanging out in Bollo's coffee shop as I have for the last few months talking to a buddy. Some guy I've never seen before (with a slight British accent) comes over and asks me to watch my language, he was there with his nine year old son. Everyone looked to him in surprise (like 'where did this come from?').

I completely failed my 'quick witted' skill at this point - way too many answers jostled for position. Apparently, the look on my face gave away the game as he backed away repeating "Be cool, just be cool" like a mantra. Soon after, he and his son left. Hopefully for good.

Here are some of the answers that jostled for position in my mind:

"Have you heard of 'freedom of speech'?"
"Who the fuck are you?"
"I feel really sorry for your son. If you are such a domineering asshole to complete strangers, his life must be a living hell."
"He's nine. I'm not saying anything he hasn't heard before."
"You ever see Deadwood on HBO? I swear so little I couldn't get on that show."
"Fuck off you sanctimonious asshole."
"Are you anyone important or can I tell you to fuck off now with impunity?"

And so on.

I know that America was founded by prudes but holy cow. Sanctimonious is such a good word, here is the definition for those not familiar with it.

I have no problem with people who don't want to use swear words but if you don't want to expose your kids to it you'd better be home schooling them. And keeping them inside the house. And not letting them have access to any media such as TV's or the internet. Don't run around telling others how to speak - that's just not right.



THURSDAY TOOTH

Dune: "The tooth! Remember the tooth!" What a wacky bit from the movie. Anyway, I've got to say I am not looking forward to this Thursday - the big dentist day. It's the last (hopefully) medical thing I've got to get done while I'm here in the states. The last three times I've been there, I've gotten 'jerked around'. By that I mean they looked in my mouth, maybe taken an Xray and said "We can't do anything about that." or "I'm not a good enough dentist to pull a tooth." If I get any of that shit this time, I'm going to walk out and have it pulled in some other country. Sick of going in there to wildly inept dentists. Pretty much, if you need anything more complicated than a cleaning, stay away from the 'free' American dental system. It's rubbish.



FRIDAY TJ

On Friday, we have the wacky TJ coming out to visit again. In addition to getting in on the game Friday, I believe he'll be interviewing me on the various Call of Cthulhu modules to get some story and my opinions on them. Yes, we'll put up that as a podcast in the Silhouette podcast as well. I'm not sure what day TJ is staying till, but it will be a good time.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

WHERE AM I?

Well, shit in a bag and punch it! I just don't know where I am right now. Fortunately a lot of other people don't seem to either. Hopefully, this trend will continue so that our future president won't be able to wage war on other people.




LIBYA

Well, it looks like they're going nuts there as well. Being that I am a greedy, selfish person I'm hoping that it gets cleaned up so I can travel through it between Tunisia and Egypt. Don't know if that will happen or how long it will take it to get ready for tourists. Well, at least not all of the violence there seems to be the USA's fault.



WHO READS THIS CRAP?

Apparently, lots of people. Here's a list of the various countries that I've got hits from thus far: Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela. Freaky.



TV SHOW REVIEW

"Long Way Down". Jamas had told me about this show existing, so I checked it out. Two guys on motorcycles make their way south through Africa. It was OK but not as good as 'Long Way Round' but I'm not really sure what was lacking. I think one interesting thing in this show was that Ewan McGregor's wife decided she wanted to go on a part of this extremely arduous biking through Africa. She wanted 'just a little taste' of what her husband was doing. This despite the fact that she had never been on a motorcycle before. I think she was with them for like a week out of the three month trip. I noticed that it seemed to be the bit of arsenic that poisons babies milk. It seemed to really upset Charley Boorman and put a bit of a wedge in the 'buddy film' type of thing. Boorman attempted to make it a bit lighthearted and all of that but it was obvious (well to some of us) that it really upset him. I can see where Mrs. McGregor was coming from but after seeing what it did to the series, it made me want to say "Get yer own series ya selfish bitch!". Seriously though, it probably would be nifty if the McGregor family was to go on a different bike tour as a family - don't mess with a winning interesting dynamic. Looking at the IMDB scores, the majority of people liked the second show series (down as opposed to round) less well than the first. I wonder if they also blame Mrs. McGregor?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

IF IT BLEEDS, WE CAN KILL IT

TRAVEL + FOOD

Those who know me well (or have seen me at a distance) know I am a fat guy. I like food. A lot. I recently found a show called "Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations". He covers food in foreign countries. I've seen a few of his shows. He reminds me of Elliott Gould for some reason. He is snarky and sarcastic. So far, it's good to see. Obviously, I've not been watching shows to areas that I have no plans to go within the foreseeable future - like 'Cleveland'. Is that even a real place? I don't think so. [I realize people who are allegedly from 'Cleveland' might argue "Well, then you're not real either!" to which I respond "Well, duh."]

I did have a show on Italy on my computer but it was done by some lady who they had hired from the 'put people to sleep' company. I managed to get it off of my computer before I slipped into a coma.



German Stammtisch

Got back from 'German Stammtisch' (where people sit around a table speaking in German) and got reminded that 'Germans don't get American humor'.

I had said "I'm self deprecating."

One said (after we explained the phrase 'self deprecating') "Why? You want pity?"

I said "No, I do it for humor. Sometimes you blow things up for humor value."

Another replied "You explode things?"

I said "No. It's not like that. You just make things out of proportion to show the humor. Like instead of knocking you light someones house on fire to get them to come out."

"You burn down peoples' homes?"

Realizing I had completely lost them I replied "And wait outside with a machine gun."

Now, they think I am a sociopath.

Doh.

So - the lesson - if you are talking to someone born in a foreign country, slapstick is pretty much the big humor. Just fall down or talk about someone falling down in a humorous fashion. Don't make them think you'll come to their house, light it on fire and wait outside with a machine gun.

The sad thing is I had apparently lost at least one American in the discussion though I had a couple of others laughing.



"SMARTPEN"

Bert told me about this and I got to check it out at Best Buy. I didn't get to actually play with the pen but got to see a video at Best Buy rather. It looks interesting. Bert mentioned he is excited about getting one in the not too distant future. If he gives me his thoughts on it, I'll pass it on.

Yes, I do find it irritating that they continue to mangle existing couple words to describe something new. God help us if a time traveler came from the past and ran into our language. They would think we're complete idiots with words like 'smartpen', 'netbook' and 'texting'. It will be Idiocracy all over again.



BE A JEDI

You'd really think that Bert had less time on his hands than he apparently does with fixing two homes, moving, working and all of the rest but apparently he also found out it is actually possible for you to become a jedi. I haven't gotten to test out this new technology (nor do I think I will get to for awhile given my wandering coming up) but I will link an article Bert gave me as well as a youtube video that has some guy with a regular hand control on it for some reason.

One thing I found very troubling in the first article was that there is at least one person still jacking around in the 'virtual world' "Second Life". With the exception of 'if you speak into the mic people whose avatars are gathered around you closely can hear you and less so the further away you are' I found that to be nothing more than tons of dead space, advertisements and boredom.

Dealing with the new headset itself, I'm glad that they are making stuff like this although I think it will be a year or two before any decent games can incorporate this new, weird and exciting technology. It could be half a decade before any 'good' games can get it in there given the time it takes to understand new technology (assuming they release the codes to game companies) and plug it into a new game development cycle.

Games are certainly the driving force of new computer hardware. I can't really see someone developing anything like this without the mass market of games, though I think it is possible for this to be useful in a lot of stuff aside from games with clever thinking.

I'd like to thank Bert's diligence to new tech coming out and alerting me to it. If you (the reader) are thinking "I already knew about that!", well Bert beat you in the 'hey look, Logan, new shit!' notification so he gets the credit.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Moo Cow

DISCLAIMER

If you notice that I am writing about something that has been previously written, it is not because I am a senile old person who likes to babble about shit they have already babbled about. Not at all. It is to reiterate it to show you what's currently going through my head as well as to help catch up all of the new readers - of which I'm sure there must be at least one - on previous issues. Not the babbling thing at all. If I had a secretary, proof reader, publicist, editor and such, you might get a better product. Since I don't, you get this crap instead.



TV SHOW REVIEW - FOLLOW UP

"Long Way Round". Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman on motorcycles go around the world. OK - these guys are pretty crazy. Lot of respect for their stamina and such. Pretty crazy motorcycling stuff. Physical injuries, motorcycle breakdowns, impassable terrain. I'm personally not a huge fan of motorcycles but it was pretty interesting. It does make me very grateful that I don't have to worry about roads in Mongolia or Russia. At times, they were making 2 miles an hour if they are lucky. It really brought home to me just how bad the roads are in other parts of the world. On IMDB, this gets a 9.1 rating. I'd put it at about 7 out of 10.

One thing they did mention that was interesting is that the camera gear they brought was it was valued at $100,000. So, figure for $100,000 we can get the gear to film a documentary. Makes me wonder how much it costs for these different documentaries they do. They don't have listed how much it cost to make this documentary. Kind of sad - I wish they did.

Last note - there is a rumor that they may be doing 'Long Way Up' at some point. Speculation is that it is from South America up. Not sure on that but we'll see what happens. Rumor on the internet said that it was suppose to happen in 2011 but Ewan McGregor has done 4 movies in that year. Not sure if it's happening.



SEDLEC OSSUARY

This is something I'd like to see in the Czech Republic. Apparently, the people wanted to all be burred on holy ground. The bones stacked up and stacked up until someone had this idea - why not use the human bones as interior decorations? And it's not all that far away from Prague. Sedlec Ossuary is one place I'd like very much to see.



RENT SITUATION

Back when I was still working on getting disability, I had gone to my landlord (who goes by the name of "Candle") and told him that I might need to be late on a couple payments. After some consideration, he said that was OK. This didn't end up happening but in order to show some gratitude, I began to pay rent several months in advance. No good deed goes unpunished. I had made the mistake of pre-paying my rent through till April. Later, I discovered that I'd be out - and not returning - at the end of March. A couple months ago, I asked if I could get the month of rent I had prepaid back. He said, no, it would make him come up short.

I'm thinking that if it went to small claims court, he'd not only have to refund the $400 but pay legal fees and such as well.

I'm not sure what I should do about this.

Consultation with Bert to seek his advice might be a good thing.

Going to court and such with so little time left seems like it might not happen. Perhaps that's what he's counting on.

But I ask you - why would you want to severely agitate someone who lives in your house, has keys to your house and an evil imagination? It seems like the amount of destruction that could be wrought by someone who is planning on leaving the country and maybe never coming back would be far in excess of $400.

I'd sublet it if I could... To rowdy bikers...

We'll see what Bert has to say when I eventually get to see him. [Note, the Bert cloning project has not yet reached it's one trillion dollar mark so we can start the project. Please - give generously.]



WELLS FARGO

Bert recently drew my attention to an interesting news story in which the customer was (shock) getting screwed by his home insurance people. He has gotten it around to 'all of their stuff is going to get sold off from their office to pay him off'. Well, at least $50 he should get and maybe an answer to his 'why are you trying to double my insurance rates' question that was never answered. I say good for him. Crappy companies that seek only to make a profit off of the consumers backs should be killed and eaten.

Monday, February 21, 2011

36 DAYS TO GO

MOROCCO

Well, fuck. I was really hoping that would stay stable long enough for me to get in there. Yeah, I realize it is a totally self serving reason for not wanting them to go through a revolution but I really would like to see it and the rest of Northern Africa soon.



GERMANS AND THE HOFF

Apparently, the great love the Germans have for 'the Hoff' isn't made up. This is so strange. The article linked is in 'Der Spiegel', a German newspaper. Apparently, it's not just Eurotrip that believes Germans are obsessed with 'the Hoff'.



MONEY

One of the things I'd like to do is to write up how much things cost. I've been watching a lot of travel documentaries and they usually don't mention the cost of things unless it is amazingly cheap or outrageously expensive. I'm going to try to get the cost of things more into my blog to give people an idea of what they'd actually spend.

We'll see how that plan works out once I get on the road.

I think it would be nice if I had a film crew following me around but I'm not really seeing that happen. I've noticed that most of the people are much better looking than I am who do these things. And in better shape, the bastards. For some reason, a fat, cripply guy wandering around I just don't think is going to make it onto the TV.



LONELY PLANET AKA GLOBE TREKKER

The show gets worse and worse the longer you go on. You can pretty much watch the first couple seasons and be done with it. Not only do they show the same exact journeys over and over in later seasons (like nobody will notice) but then they start splicing together two you've already seen before into a single episode. It's not a really good value. Given the talent they've got and the amount of places that they haven't explored, I'm thinking it was purely a money decision and is a good explanation of why the show got cancelled. I'm thinking that even the people who only watched it as it came out caught on to the fact 'hey, this is the same shit as before'.



MOVIE REVIEW

Gulliver's Travels. This movie gets this award:

On my movie scale, 3 stars out of a possible 10. IMDB gives it 4.7, I think that's way too generous.



SLEEP NOISE

One thing I can't do well is sleep without some sort of constant background noise. I've got a device that makes it rain but lately I've been working on instead using my MP3 player. There are two reasons for this - first, I don't think everyone else would like me playing my 'rain machine' in the room (well, I don't know that for sure) and second, I don't want to carry it.

So, I'm working on instead using my MP3 player.

The big problem with this is that I normally sleep on my side. This is because if I fall asleep, I will make a snore sound and wake myself up. Frightening. So, I've got to sleep on my side. Which doesn't go well with headphones.

So, I'm experimenting right now. It's looking like the 'one head phone in, the other not' is what I'm going for currently. We'll see how that works out. I figure I've got a month.



TV SHOW REVIEW

"Long Way Round". Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman on motorcycles go around the world. I'm two episodes into it thus far and it seems pretty interesting. Surprise, surprise - they had/are having a lot of trouble getting visas to go through Russia. I like that they are showing all of the preparation they have to go through. It appears that they are going to be camping out rather than staying in hotels and such at this point. I'm thinking that's just crazy - they may switch it up later. Thus far, the show is entertaining. I'll do a follow up review when I'm done watching all 11 episodes (10+special feature).



PACKING NEWS

Well, unfortunately, the razor my dad gave me is absolute shit. It seems to cut every other hair and makes me look a bit weirder (if that's possible) than normal. My plan is to use my other electric razor I normally do my head with to shave off my beard every week. My hair grows faster than a bears so within a week, I'll have a full beard. My current plan is to keep it shaved so that I look somewhat like my passport photo. When I get abroad, I'm going to stop by local barbers and stuff to get it shaved off every so often, as well as getting my head shaved. So, that's a bit less weight I get to carry about with me.

Now, I'm thinking that if someone just started reading this they're probably thinking 'What the fuck is he going on about an electric razor for?' Well, I'm wanting to show the entire preparation and thinking on it. When I chuck out other stuff from the pack later (it probably will happen), I'll write about that too.

Due to my current headphones getting a bit scratchy - I think the cord may be coming loose or something - I went an purchased two more $10 headphones. The bubble cases they're in are NOT waterproof. I'm thinking I'll be sticking them in a plastic bag somewhere later. Might put them with my extra glasses in a crush proof case or something, not really sure on that.

After the campaign ends I'm going to do another repack; lie everything out on the tables and try to figure out clever ways to put it in, maybe photograph it for people, stuff like that. Guessing that's probably 3 weeks off.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Happy Dictators!!

I'm sure I'll meet many happy-go-lucky dictators.



"An Idiot Abroad"

Well, they finished up the series in the best way possible. The whining host of the show often spoke with fond memories of his trips to Wales. They sent him there. He looked as miserable as anywhere else. This helps illustrate that he is just a miserable no fun bastard. It was interesting watching him whine his way through several countries. I can't help but think that it would have been fun to get him into more life threatening situations. One that came to my mind is the running of the bulls. I'd have had him dress up for it and not told him what it was about. Then, I'd have had someone with a laptop show him the opening scene from the movie city slickers and say "See that? Hear that cannon that just went off? I'll give you three guesses what is now on it's way!"

I don't think they will get him to do another series in this same vein.

The two executive producers, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant had different things (in addition to putting together a show) they wanted to achieve. Stephen Merchant wanted to expand Karl Pilkington's world. He failed. Ricky Gervais had (IMO) a much better goal - he wanted to torture Karl Pilkington. Ricky succeeded.

If this guy was an American, he'd be called a typical 'Ugly American' - since he is a Brit, they just call him an 'idiot'.



Just judging by this rough map, I don't think I'll be 'feeling the rains down in Africa' any time soon.




I'm not a politician but with the three big problems I'm seeing
a) You can't just show up at the border and buy a visa
b) You need various immunizations due to all kinds of diseases
c) AIDS - sure it's a disease but it's severe enough I think it deserves it's own bullet point
d) Ongoing conflict - including al-Qaeda terrorists hanging out and snatching folks

I'm thinking WTF? I believe that it is very hard living there and such but wow, it's not a really 'tourist friendly' place. I may in the future find out some information that makes me think "I should go there" but right now I'm thinking the risk/cost vs reward is just really not looking good.

Either the very north (the Arabic places) or the very south places look OK. Not sure how I'd get to the southern places easily but right now most of the center of Africa kinda looks...rough...

Friday, February 18, 2011

TURKEY - an interview

TURKEY

At the coffee shop I normally haunt, I met up with a nice guy named Ozgur (goes by Ozzy) who turned out to be Turkish. Naturally, I immediately pumped him for information on Turkey. Found out a couple of things.

Daruzziyafe: It's a cafe built into a mosque called 'Suleymaniye Mosque'. You don't have to take off your shoes to eat in the restaurant. I checked. This is a place he said a lot of folks (non-locals) don't know about and it would be good for me to check out. Naturally, with me being a fat guy any mention of food got me real interested. It's an 'Ottoman restaurant'. I'll have to check that out.

I had asked him what kind of cultural 'faux pas' I should avoid. He told me that apparently two English sports hooligans were stabbed to death after wiping their asses with the Turkish flag. I assured him that chances of me doing anything like that were pretty slim. I thought that was a safe thing to avoid. Speaking of the Turkish flag, he had made a small language mistake and substituted the word 'Croissant' for the word 'crescent'. Now, this is a very minor linguistic error but I did tell him that I would be proud to have any kind of foodstuff on a flag. There may however be some truth to what started as a small verbal slip, see 'origin stories'.

Pretty much it seems that there aren't a lot of cultural problems I'm going to run into in Istanbul. There are a lot of tourists and they are pretty lenient toward them.

He did warn me of the occasional gang of pickpocket kids and said often times they had older brothers waiting around the corner. So, you can't beat the kids to death. But these gangs are apparently pretty rare.

Some other miscellaneous facts Ozzy told me:

Feel free to ask people for help as they will go out of their way to assist you.

I should be able to see everything I want to in Istanbul in less than two weeks (even for my slow, fat ass).

If I get invited to someone's home to dine, chocolates are acceptable but something like 'Turkish delight' (called Lokum locally - say that word a couple times and you'll see why it didn't catch on in English) is just as appreciated.

The internet is most accessible in/near tourist type areas. A bit iffy in other spots.

Due to altitude, the winter is more mild in the North of the country than the South.

Eastern and Western Turks are very different.

They have the Arabic conception of personal space (ie there is no personal space).

There are underground water cisterns I should check out. They weren't used to prepare for siege or anything like that, just to keep the population watered. They aren't used any more but tourists are shown them.

There is a nice train that goes from Istanbul to Ankara (about halfway through the country). He wasn't sure past there.

He said I should be cautious if I go to the south eastern part of Turkey as they are more religious there. Also, Iran, Iraq, Syria and such are there. I should be OK as my 'general current plan' is to wander toward Georgia. The country, not the state.

I would like to thank Ozzy for giving me some 'insider information' into Turkey and Istanbul! He has a knowledge and appreciation of Turkey's interesting past and culture. [Unlike Matt L who has pieced together what he knows about England from small facts gleaned from packets of sugar and tabloid magazines.]


WARNING! BELOW THIS LINE THIS BLOG IS FULL OF

AGE OF CONSENT

On one of the travel shows I watch (don't know the title, sorry) they had mentioned that Vatican City had the lowest age of consent at 12 years old. I thought "That is completely insane! Who the hell would have that?" I mean, even 18 can seem a bit dicey sometimes. But, I did some research and found out it is not 12. It use to be 12 but they decided that was rubbish and wanted to go with what Italy is going with. So no more of that 'aged 12' nonsense. It's now 14. WTF. Apparently, this is not unusual.



TV SHOW REVIEW

"An Idiot Abroad". Wow, is this guy clueless and small minded. But that's why he got the show... One of the executive producers (Ricky Gervais) described it as the most expensive, cruelest practical joke he's ever played on someone. I do like the cruelty of it, that appeals to me. I also like some of the 'honesty' of it. Unlike most other tourists who tell you all of the great stuff, he tells you what he doesn't like. Actually, he never stops telling you what he doesn't like. He doesn't like any of it. He's a bit whiny too. I think a lot of people are a bit like him - and don't want to get out of their comfort zone. More on this show after I've watched all of the episodes. I'm not sure if this is the kind of show that will make it for a second season.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

40 Days To Go

Forty days to go!



MORE DEAD HOOKERS

Well, actually, live ones. After reading another blog, a buddy of mine sent me this link for a bit more on where sex is. Sex tourism is a big, big industry!

For those asking me, no, I will not be taking photos in the racy places. Reason - whores come out and break your camera. A lot of them are not wanting to be part of my blog (or the internet as a whole) for some damned reason. It could be that they are 'part timing' it - they are also wives, daughters, married, etc. So, they're not thrilled about having their pictures taken. "What's mommy doing in her bathing suit?" Awkward.



STANDBY

Another perfectly good plan ruined by evil airlines. I am so bored that I called up the airline and asked them "How does standby work? I have a ticket for the end of March. If I was to show up ...er... tomorrow and wait, could I get a flight?

They said no.

Standby flights are (now) only for the day you were going to fly out on anyway. And they charge you an extra $50 for the pleasure of getting to fly slightly earlier.

Boy, that sucks. I am old enough to remember the 'good old days' when you could just show up and loiter about the airport hoping for a dirt cheap flight. No more.

So, in desperation (I am really going ape shit with boredom) I checked on flights to Morocco. A bit over a grand. Gack! It is appearing I am stuck in this dead town until my regularly scheduled flight outta here. Yes, I can spend another $800 to get to Spain, but not thrilled about that cost.

My plan was to go somewhere else and hang out till the 'group meet up' day got closer then go to London. But money is keeping me from that. Sucks. I'm probably going to have to suck it up for another month. If was was wealthy, I'd ditch the states tonight.



BISCUIT

There I was, floating an air biscuit while meeting the Queen telling her I was just waiting for my mail order bride. When suddenly, I had a shart. <<< What the hell was I thinking about here? Left this in because it shows clear signs of mental instability. If I ever get convicted of a crime and need to plead insanity, consider this kind of crap that I'm laying my groundwork early.



PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Women have it much rougher than men on public transportation. If they don't want anyone to sit in the seat they have next to them, they have to put stuff on it. Men just grin and pat the seat next to them.



PONDERINGS

I wonder about these things, too.



LIBYA

Well, it looks as though Libya is starting to have riots of their own. Apparently the 'president elect for life and you get shot if you don't love that' is able to draw upon money and use that to throw at the problems. Plus, he has a much smaller population than Egypt. This makes it easier to control. I'm not sure if him being over thrown would be a good thing or bad thing to me. Remember that any time someone gets over thrown, they can always be replaced with someone worse. Although Libya wasn't anywhere near the top of the 'places Logan is planning on traveling, it is another one I will be watching with interest.



IRAN

Well, in my wanderings to the coffee shop that is my social outlet I met a couple nice folks from Iran. I had asked what language they were guessing, thought Farsi, said Hebrew. I am fail. Anyway, we got to talking. They were pretty excited about their country and even volunteered to send me some tourist information about it. Unfortunately, Iran has three major things working against it.

1. The only way to get a 'tourist visa' is to a) be with an established tour group and b) the tour group has to submit their entire itinerary in advance and you actually have to be where it says you will be. This isn't fitting in too well with my plans on how I'm wanting to do tourist stuff - I want flexibility. If something is dull, I want the ability to move on quickly - if something is interesting, I want to stay for a week or two checking it out.

2. They seem to be experiencing the same 'Arabic uprising' (so to speak though theirs is called the 'Green Movement'. So, pretty much it's looking like another 'big riot waiting to happen' - or has been happening.

3. Although the people might like Americans, I'm not seeing a lot of reason for the Iranian government to be overly friendly to us.

If those two were any indication of the rest of their country, the folks are friendly and interesting. Hum. Looking at it the other way, if people in different countries think I am an indication of America, they may wage war on us. Probably not good. I did warn them if they read my blog they might think I was completely insane. People who don't know me well may think I am pandering to the lowest common denominator. People who do know me well say "No, he is the lowest common denominator."

They seemed interesting. I hope their government 'loosens up' after the current rebellion gets done - I'd like to see the country and meet the people. They've got a lot of history in there too. In the past, I've been to an Arabic country and would like to go to more. I hope things get resolved...



AIRLINES

I was telling someone that since airline tickets one way are actually more expensive than round trip that I suspected the people who actually price the airline tickets are suffering from some sort of OCD. They like to make sure they put everyone back where they got them from in the first place.



GAMING

One of the things mentioned to me is that I will have to build up new routines once I start traveling. My current routines (in addition to being now unbearably boring) are going to be changing wildly once I start to travel. Heck, they're already starting to change now.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

How To Pick Up Prostitutes

HOW TO PICK UP PROSTITUTES

Found this little gem on youtube. It contains some very good information for people who are clueless. It's good stuff.

It is shocking to me just how many countries allow this. I wish I'd had researched this for the blog post 'How Much Do Prostitutes Cost In Your Country?'

Gosh, this blog is more fun than burying a hooker in the desert!

It's important to be nice to women, unless you are going to be tying them to a table later! [Or if you are Matt and need more storage space for more dead hookers...]



GERMANY

Apparently we have some readers in Germany. In their honor, we present 'the Hoff'.



MIDDLE EAST

Can you say 'powder keg'? It appears that the rioting in Egypt is spreading. The 'green movement' as it's now getting called. It's really looking as though the US is happy for the chaos as well. Did they destabilize the governments? Only time will tell.

The funny thing is that everyone says it is an uprising against corruption. Kind of. From here, quote: "Workers stood in front of the Bank Misr and shouted: "We want more money! We want more money!" Now, I'm not a political science major but I'm thinking that money was at least the spark to all of this uprising going on. It's always about the money. Corruption seems ultimately to be about money.



HOME REMEDIES

So, I managed to put a small slice into my finger while doing up some onions. It bled like a stuck pig. I consulted with a friend of mine who reassured me that hands and head wounds bleed a lot in order to freak you out. Travis is correct. We can call him Dr. Travis - he seems better than many of the doctors I've seen.

It is especially ironic as I've trained in knife fighting. Apparently, I should have trained in cooking instead.

Anyway, after running cold water onto it to clean it out, I applied a 'hick bandage' (paper towels wrapped with any kind of tape/rope around) and had to change it once. Later, I decided to apply what I call a 'Bert band-aid' to it. This involves using super glue to help seal the wound. Now, a lot of people don't know this but super glue on skin is amazingly slow to dry. I'm not sure if it ever does. So, here's a tip - clear plastic. Hopefully it will come off later. If it doesn't, well... I'm not sure. I disinfected it with alcohol then stuck it to the finger. Covered it with a band-aid. I'll let you know how it works out.

On a slightly different note, this did help to tell me that my medic kit is woefully stocked. Sadly, I just can't get more shit into my bag - it's pretty full as it is. Maybe after some of the other stuff works its way out (or I get tougher) maybe I'll get a real medic kit someday.

45 DAYS TO GO

TJ TO VISIT BLACKSBURG, VA

TJ will be in Blacksburg, VA from March 4th to March 6th. Saturday is a good time to come out and see him and get him to sign your testicles with a permanent sharpie marker. Celebrity is as celebrity does!



SHOES

My old shoes finally gave up the ghost. They were starting to chaff the back of my foot so it was time to let them go. After leaving a mess in the local Walmart (why do all of the hicks take their wives there for Valentine's day?? Really?) I picked up some new shoes that have no laces. I'm not sure how long they'll last but they don't seem bad yet.

I also picked up a cheap and, as important, light (weight) bike lock chain thing from Walmart. I will attempt to remember to use that to lash my bags to something sturdy. I realize that this won't prevent someone with a knife from simply slashing the bags open, but it will make them work a bit harder for it. And maybe carry a knife.



EMPATHY

Someone who has apparently grown wiser than I in understanding people (how the hell did that happen?) mentioned to me that revealing you have built skill in 'micro-expressions' and 'personality types' and such said that you shouldn't mention this to people. Tends to put them on edge. After thinking about it for a bit, I'd agree - unless you put the right spin on it. But honestly, it's a ton of work to get that right spin on it. I would say something like "I have been trying to learn to interpret what people are trying to say via non-verbal communication" - I suppose thats less invasive sounding than "I learn to read people." But longer.



SILHOUETTE AND SERENITY

The longer one writes, the more the tendency to move away from 'cannon'. I'm not saying "I want tons of space aliens descending" and things of that nature. But lets think about it - the reavers are getting older. And even though they are all fierce, they lose some now and then so their numbers are dwindling. You can only have them for so long before they're on walkers. And time passes fast in a slow space travel game. Heck, we're going through close to a season per session on average I believe.

On long range plots; I've got about three in mind (plus others already started) that frankly I'm cautious about continuing to write. I'm not sure if the internet (long may it reign) will be accessible in the countries I'm going to, etc. I'm thinking of getting rough drafts and such now but I'm not sure if the game will be continuing on for more than the remaining six sessions that I'm in the USA for. [If you are just joining us and don't know what I'm talking about, go here or check iTunes.]



MORE GEORGIA FUN

Pete (he's a thinker he is) pointed out in his comments on the '46 days to go' blog entry I should check out the current political situation between Georgia and Russia. To sum it up, they seem to fucking hate each other. Lets put it in perspective though:
If YOU were Russia, would you really care? Yes, I know Stalin was born there. But even the kids hate Russia.

Now I have to admit that my initial motivations for going to visit Georgia are purely greedy and can be expressed in these three things:
1. Cheap cost of living.
2. They let you stay pretty much as long as you want.
3. It's somewhere that hasn't been accessible to tourists for a long time. From Wikitravel, "After years of isolation followed by war and economic turmoil foreigners are still regarded with undisguised curiosity and a casual greeting in the street could land you in the middle of the best dinner party of your life." and "Georgians are hospitable to a fault (and beyond). If a Georgian invites you somewhere it will be almost impossible to pay for anything and even raising the subject of who will cover the bill can be embarrassing for your host. If invited to a private home for dinner, make sure you arrive amply stocked with wine or sweets because your hosts may well be bankrupting themselves on your behalf." Now, I don't want to bankrupt anyone with my visiting but hell yes I want that kind of experience. Who wouldn't?

Obviously, I'm going to work at getting the 'word on the streets' as I get closer to it. If it seems too dangerous, I'll have to veer off and find somewhere else to visit. My initial plan is to stay out of the green and purple regions on this map unless I've been told that it's OK to go and check them out. I'm imagining that when I go there, I'd be coming from Turkey. According to what I read, they have good relations with them. Also, "Tourism is an increasingly significant part of the Georgian economy. About a million tourists brought US$313 million to the country in 2006."

On Wikitravel, their biggest warning is the traffic. Which is better than some of the countries I am planning on visiting that have unexploded land mine warnings... Now it does say on Wikitravel "It is not safe to travel to Abkhazia or South Ossetia. These regions are not under the control of the national government and are marked by violence between the Georgian military and separatist militant groups, who since Summer 2008 are backed up by Russian troops who are considered to be occupiers by the Tblisi government. The area's high rate of crime/lawlessness is facilitated by the absence of the central government's police and legal jurisdiction. Foreign tourists are known to have been kidnapped in the 2 separatist regions, where you'll have no recourse if your passport is stolen. If traveling to these areas, it is advisable to bring an armed escort."

So, I'm good there - I'll just stay the hell out of the separatist regions. I think I can safely say there is all kinds of other country to see without going there.

As a side note, "The younger generation, largely due to hostility towards Russia, now prefers to study English, but because access to good quality English instruction in province is so low..." Hence, even I could probably pick up teaching kids English ("Surprise Mutherfucker!") in some of the regions if I wanted to for food, lodgings, etc.



TRAVELWIKI

I would also like to say that Wikitravel has got my vote for 'why the hell would anyone need to buy a travel guide ever again?' Very nice indeed. If you are going to travel anywhere (even within the US for less adventurous souls) I would check it out. Heck, there is even an entry for the small town of Blacksburg, VA (which totally makes it sound better than it is)..



LOGAN FIXES HIS COMPUTER

It was making a strange noise. At this point, I went through my trouble shooting for computers.
1. Will it to stop doing what it is doing that is irritating me.
2. Gently thump it on the side. Not too hard, it is a computer. If it wasn't, I could hit it with a hammer.
3. Open it up and look at the alien stuff within.
4. Wonder what is wrong.
5. Try spraying it with air.
6. Close it back up and restart it.
7. Wonder why it is disobeying me.
8. Pace around and try to convince the computer it should obey.
9. Turn if off, wait, pray then turn it back on.
10. Threaten the computer.
11. Plead with the computer.
12. Threaten to get someone smarter than me to 'deal with' the computer.
13. Repeat steps 7 to 11.
14. Get someone smarter than me to 'deal with' the computer.
15. Ask the smarter than me person who has dealt with the computer what they did so I can learn from it.
16. Forget whatever was answered in step 15.

And number five worked!! Sure, it made dust come out but when I restarted the computer, it stopped making the noise! Woohooo!



DIE HARD

I was concerned because I was having some trouble understanding some of the German the terrorists were saying and it was concerning me. I'm kind of glad that I looked at IMDB on it because it said "The German that the terrorists speak is sometimes grammatically incorrect and meaningless. In the German version of the film, the terrorists are not from Germany but from "Europe". This has been fixed for the Special Edition VHS and later home video releases. The only instances of incorrect use of German are Alan Rickman's (Hans Gruber) lines." OH!



ENGLISH PROVERB

A friend of mine named Josh mentioned a proverb I wish I'd had when I did the blogs on food earlier. "Hunger is the best spice."



ROUGH ASIA MAP

This will have to do until I can get more information. It seems that while it is possible to do Asia on $10 to $20 a day, getting in there is a pain in the ass.



ROUGH AUSTRALIA AND AREA MAP
Australia is a bit more expensive but some of the other places near there might be cheaper.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

46 DAYS TO GO

EGYPT

After reading this and seeing "The Obama administration got what it said it wanted when Hosni Mubarak surrendered power." I'm curious. Did the US government somehow overthrow another foreign government? Also, I had no idea we wanted it overthrown. It had been around forever and speaking from my time over there a couple of decades ago it was safe for us. I didn't think we wanted to muck about with it.

Guess it shows what I know about high level politics.



MOVIE TIP - YELLOWBEARD

Not an easy movie to find but if you are fans of Monty Python (or even Cheech and Chong) it is a 'sleeper' film that you are sure to like. Full of great lines and funny scenes. Check it out.



CONSPIRACY THEORIES

I found a list of different ones online - there is some wild stuff in there. Maybe they will be of interest to someone who wants to find a new outlet for their insanity. A current relevant one is on their section entitled 'Coups d'état'. Given some of the news of late, I'm thinking that the list may need to be updated.


MONEY

From this site, some interesting quotes on dealing with money overseas.

On exchanging currency: "The most convenient location (such as at airports, or major hotels) can be the worst rates available. If possible, check the difference between "we sell" and "we buy". When this is more than 10%, you're definitely being ripped off. The best exchanges can go as low as 2%. Also, check if there is an additional commission for each transaction."

Then entire section on 'black market exchange' is worth a read if you are going to that kind of country.

On coins: "You can't exchange coins once you have left a country." - Found that out at my bank. Hopefully, I'll be able to sell some of the Canadian coins I've got to a currency exchange - not sure on that. I will try it as I don't think I'm going to make it back to Canada any time soon. Also, "To avoid accumulating too many coins in the first place, use them as much as possible to pay (instead of notes) during cash transactions." If I can't exchange them, they will be of use in poor boxes, for tips to service personnel (who may have more ability to get them changed than I do) and anyone else I can schloff them off onto.

On 'Carrying money across national borders': "...if you carry large amounts of money (typically more than $10,000 US, Euro, or similar hard corrency) you will need to declare it." - God, I'd love to have that fucking problem.



UPDATED MAP

I've made a new map.


I think it should be pretty self explanatory.

The UK has the £ sign on it to show that they are really expensive to Americans. And everyone else.

Schengen for those just tuning in refers to the Schengen Agreement which allows you to stay inside of any countries within the dark red border for a maximum total (regardless of which countries) for a max of 90 days.

Romania and Bulgaria have a different border on them. I did this to show that they are not yet in the Schengen Agreement, it is pending. I'm not sure if going to them will count against the Schengen time ticker but I'm guessing it won't. I'll have to check closer when I get there - it might be interesting to spend some time in those countries while waiting for my Schengen Agreement time to reset. [You have to be out for three months then you can go back in.]

The countries with flames on them (Tunisia and Egypt) are countries currently in some sort of rebellion. Best to be wary though by the time I'm ready to visit them, they may have calmed down.

The countries with skulls on them. Quite frankly, I'm a bit concerned about my safety. If I had a different passport than a USA one to travel on (God, I'd love a Canadian passport) I might be tempted to get into those but I'm just not sure if the risk/reward ratio is absolutely worth it.

The countries with a guy pointing at his painful ass are - you guessed it 'pain in the ass countries'. From what I've read, these countries are currently (at the time of this printing in 2011) a pain in the ass to visit due to things like a high border cost and low amount of time you can stay there. Some of these countries also require proof you are leaving - like an airline ticket or some such. Honestly, after looking at a lot of the PITA countries, I'm curious as to who would try to stay longer than 90 days and why the heck they would. [Disclaimer on Israel - I know they themselves are not a pain in the ass but if you get their stamp on your passport, other countries won't let you in - you pretty much have to buy a new passport. At this time there isn't a lot I really have a burning desire to see that would justify a $160 cost of replacing my passport and all of the hassle of doing so. So, I'll just stay out of it until I've seen everything else I'm wanting to see or the passport is getting close to expiration. Then, slip in.] It would perhaps be best not to have the border guards from say, Belarius take a look at this map...

The small countries East of Italy and North of Greece are interesting - they might be a way to spend some time before creeping back into the Schengen countries. Sadly, they still have problems with unexploded land mines and such.

After making this map, it seems that there are a couple easy divisions of countries and a big swath of them I could check out if I wanted to get back into the Schengen countries quick.

I'm very curious as to what Georgia has to offer with it's 'we fucking love tourists please come to our country and stay for almost a whole year' visa. Gosh, I wish other countries did that.

I'm very glad that the 'Schengen' thing hasn't spread over more of Europe - it would be a lot tougher to do what I'm going to do if it did. I'm also curious if you can bypass it by purchasing (or getting) a special visa into one of the countries rather than using the Schengen agreement. But, I've got enough of the world to see I'm not too worried about that just yet.

Asian map of visitation will come soon.

DEEP INTO THE HEART OF CHARLEY

Col. Kurtz: "I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That's my dream; that's my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor... and surviving."

That's been going through my mind, as of late.



GERMAN STAMMTISCH

In Germany, the 'stammtisch' is 'the usual table for the regulars'. Well, it actually has a lot more connotations with it than just that. Sometimes, it is on a special day for special reasons - like the 'philosophy stammtisch'. Other times, the locals eat there (as a group) so much that they put up a brass plaque that can not only denote the table as a 'stammtisch' but might even include the names of the regulars who eat/drink/hang out there. Another definition might be the 'high table'. If you are in a German speaking country and get invited to a 'stammtisch', this is seen as an honor. If you try to sit at a stammtisch - even if the rest of the place is packed and that table is the only empty one, look forward to being relocated.

Anyway, at one of the local eateries they have a German stammtisch (and apparently a French one as well) from 6 PM till whenever - usually 7 PM when a not very good musician takes the stage and attempts to drive off the customers. It worked on me.

Anyway, from talking to the various German speakers (all of whom spoke much better German than I did - sigh) I discovered that if they spoke simply I was able to follow about 40-50% of what they were saying. Not bad. If my other language skills (Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish) were up to that level, I'd be pretty happy indeed about it. I've got some podcasts of those languages (well, not Chinese - I'm not that frigging slick) on my player ready to go. So, later I'll work on them. Probably after I get out of Germany.

They don't make any Czech podcasts (does nobody care?) so I'll work on picking up a few phrases when I'm there.

Studying a language when you're surrounded by people who speak it - and no English - is much easier. Any language.



THOUGHTS AFTER THE TOUR TRIP

I'm starting to think I should consider working my way down to Turkey after we get done with Prague and such. I was looking at the other countries and it seems that some are part of the dreaded 'Schengen Agreement' (which spells good things for most casual travelers and doom to a loafer like me) and others look like they're a huge pain in the ass. [In case you have missed previous mad rantings I've done about the 'Schengen Agreement', it allows you to go visa free into any of the countries that are in it. Most of Europe - for all intensive purposes - is one big country for this. After 3 months in this new, giant country it's 'get the fuck out of our big giant country' time and you've got to get out. That's where Turkey comes in. It (fortunately) is not in the 'Schengen Agreement' and doesn't seem to be too difficult to enter. Might be a little light bribery required, not sure.

Keep in mind, these are just speculative thoughts. One thing I'm going to be doing is talking to a lot of other travelers, police, embassies, whatever and finding out more information when I get my feet on the ground in these other countries. I just wanted to come up with a rough outline of 'what should I do'.

Hell, I might find the Czech Republic so inviting (and hopefully, cheap) that I stay there (and bug Jana - poor Jana) for awhile. I might be phoning her up from small outlying towns and saying "How do I say 'extra food for the fat man please'?" And other useful phrases. Who knows. Might end up having to make a last minute dash for Turkey and hope I don't get turned away from the border. That would be a bummer. But we'll see. It should be a fuck of a lot more interesting than sitting around my dust filled cold apartment bored out of my mind writing a blog.



INDIA

I was reading up on India and it looks as though they're offering an interesting deal. You can get a 10 year visa. Yes, TEN years. Apparently, you can go in - stay for 3 months, be out for two months and then go back in. On the same ten year visa. It's $150 but it might be worth it to kick around there for awhile to save a little bit of money up when I start working the Asia side. We'll have to see.



TWO NOTES ON THE BLOG

First, if I have anything negative to say about the country - and I'm in one of 'those' countries - you know what I mean - then I might have to wait until I leave it before giving it a negative review. Don't know. I'd hate to blog and then find out that their 'president elect for life and death to anyone who doesn't like it' is a fan and reads the blog. That would be socially awkward. As would the firing squad.

Second, if nobody hears from me for a couple months, it means I'm dead. And you know what that means - "AVENGE MY DEATH".



RE-WATCHING TOTAL RECALL

Fun movie with some good Schwarzenegger action. Happy times. Blocky cars, really big tracker units - very 1980's in feel but very nice with the special effects.



VALENTINE'S DAY

Well, for those who thought it was just a 'Hallmark Holiday', apparently this is not the case. It's been around for a long time. Apparently, it use to be a fertility festival. Go figure. I'm betting plenty of couples are practicing it on that day without even realizing it.

What a lot of people may not realize is that FEB 15th is just as big of holiday. I call it 'cheap candy they couldn't push the previous day on people who were too stupid to buy it before Valentines day'. So, get ready to go shopping on the 15th.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

49 DAYS TO GO

WALK AROUND TEST

Well, I'm not sure how much my pack weighs in at but I can say without fear of contradiction that it is more than I am loving. Yes, I did walk around with it for an hour or so but I felt it - big time. Sure, if I drop 30-50 lbs (13-22KG for you on a more sensible system) then my pack would be much less of a big deal. Hopefully, if I am walking around instead of bored-sitting-eating at my house that will happen. It's the plan anyway. I've still got some space in my pack which is good because there were a couple things I wasn't carrying today - phone charger, more medicine, etc.

In an ideal world, I'd just be taking a couple days worth of clothing. That isn't really realistic - and the shit builds quick. Oh - you need toiletries. And my medicine to keep me from dying. And my blood pressure machine to tell me if I am starting to die. And my electronics to keep in touch with everyone else. And chargers/cords/converters for all of that shit. And locks to use for lockers I will hopefully get to put my shit into so that I don't have to start over.

It tends to add up pretty quick.

I guess when you get down to it, the most basic of stuff I could take would be my clothing and medicine. Obviously, I'm going to try to take more than that. I'm hoping that I will be able to leave my packs in my room chained to something (need to buy as light of metal chain as I can still) so that they at least have to cut into it to get the chewy chewy center. Mmmm. Chewy...

One unnecessary thing I am going to be packing is an electric razor. I figure it will have two uses - the 'canary in the mine' and 'keep me from looking like a terrorist'. The 'canary' bit is I can plug it in to the outlet and see if it explodes. If not, there is a chance I can plug my computer in there and hopefully it won't explode. Note, that it will still probably explode. I don't know why. The 'terrorist' thing is when I grow a beard, well, I look a little freaky.

I am also contemplating bringing a second bag. Before you say "Ah ha! We knew you couldn't live out of just one bag!", it is for smuggling purposes only. By that I mean "Stuff the TSA doesn't want me to bring on the aircraft. Like liquids over 1oz. I'm thinking about packing some clothing in there also so that if they do lose the bag, I can get more money out of the airport. But, aside from the liquids (and maybe a small knife - not sure on that as it may present a legal issue at borders) I could throw out the bag and all of the contents after I get the liquids and such out of it. If the airport doesn't lose it first. Not sure on that one.

I'm sure when Bert eventually gets time he will look at the stuff I have packed and say "Really? What's wrong with you? Why do you want to take this?" I can't say I'm blaming him for that either.



CLONE BERT FUND
This is an artists rendition of what it would look like if there were two Berts on a 'V' shaped stair. Why a 'V' shaped stair? Shut up! That's why!

Speaking of Bert, he's been as busy a one legged man in an arse kicking competition. (I hope he is winning.) Please contribute to the 'Clone Bert Fund'. Give generously and we can try to make more than one Bert. He then might get done with all of the stuff he's trying to get done on time. Give generously to this fund! We're going to have to develop cloning technology for humans first. Well, at least cloning technology that people will admit to. [You KNOW they have done it already but won't admit to it.]

Bert's thoughts on getting himself cloned - he'd want at least two clones so one of them could not do actual work but some other project Bert is wanting to do. Part of it involves defeating his arch nemesis! Or his other arch nemesis! He has so many.



MOVIE REVIEW

Rewatching another old film, 'The Amateur'. No, it is not a porn. Took me a good hour of pondering to remember the title and such. Given my memory, I'm amazed I got it at all. This is one of the movies that it is a pity they didn't have electronic format back then. A lot of nifty movies have gotten lost over time due to VHS or nothing. They also had some nice shots of Munich (Germany, you heathens) in this one.

There is a lot of very dated stuff in this - like amazingly light security (2 marines) at an embassy. And 1980's computers. And glasses. I think the electronics always help date a movie. If someone was to make a movie and use fake nifty electronics, I don't know if it would help keep the movie from being dated. It seems we can never imagine far enough ahead, even with Moore's Law. [Notice that on Moore's Law they are even thinking 'oh, after 2015-ish. Will it? Only 4 more years to find out if they are full of shit - my guess is that's why they put an '-ish' on the end.]

Another dated thing is Czechoslovakia. Gods, I remember when that was a country. Makers of Semtex! Part of the movie is (suppose to be) set in Prague. Interesting bit of history...

A couple of good lines (not found on IMDB):

The main character (Heller) is asking a lady (Elisabeth) why she works for the CIA while living behind the iron curtain.
Elisabeth: "It fills my days."
Heller: "With what?"
Elisabeth: "With fear. It fills my days with fear."

When Heller gets the drop on an guy with a gun, he has it up to the guys skull:
Heller: "Drop the gun and put up your hands.
The enemy agent looks fairly confident until,
Heller: "I'm fairly new at this."
The enemy agent looks much more nervous and drops his gun.



SNOW

It started snowing here. I am holding myself and rocking back and forth saying "Only forty nine days left."



CTHULHU

Remember this! If you don't know about Cthulhu, you need to learn more here.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Johnny Depp!

INTERVIEWS

For all of my friends stuck looking for work, here are some interview questions.



BOREDOM

If I had more money, I'd leave to go somewhere (anywhere) right now. Honestly. The only thing really holding me back is the dental appointment on the 3rd of March. Side note - Bert has kindly offered to take me there - very nice of him. But money would cure the dental problem as well. Hence, I am stuck in a very dusty house till then. Yes, I cleaned it. It seems, however, that the house has rebelled since many of the things have been taken out. Or, TJ has put some sort of 'voodoo spell' on me. Either has stirred up enough dust that it is keeping me sick until I flee on March 31st.



USA AND GUNS

I've heard a lot of people talk about the town in the USA that 'requires handgun ownership' and began to wonder if it was an urban myth. It turns out that it isn't.

Welcome to Kennesaw, Georgia! Unless you are physically disabled and unable to use a firearm, all home owners are required to own one. This law was passed in 1982 and since then, their crime has dropped to half or less once again proving that people who seek to ban guns in the US are probably full of shit - according to some sources. Other sources say that the crime rate hasn't fallen. It appears to me that the town is claiming one thing, other people on Wiki are claiming another. Reminds me of Florida ballads for some reason. I'm thinking this town would irritate all of the non-gun people out there but it seems to be widely supported. If someone's statistics don't fit in with your opinion, simply call them into question.

In this article, they talk about the Virginia Tech killings saying "Since the Virginia Tech shootings, some conservative U.S. talk show hosts have rejected attempts to link the massacre to the availability of guns, arguing that had students been allowed to carry weapons on campus someone might have been able to shoot the killer."

One statistic that it is hard to argue is there haven't apparently been any murders in Kennesaw for the last 25 years. I looked up the national average of murders for 100,000 people (scroll down) and it seems to be about 5 per 100,000 people per year. The town is (was) roughly 20,000 people so a fifth - though it's growing because it's 'safe'. Anyway, they haven't had a murder there in about 25 years so that's about 25 people saved by everyone having a gun.

Interesting!

It looks like a nice town but you would have to endure their 'greased pig' races. Variants have been discussed as well.



SEX TOYS FOR GUNS

Despite this, other people are still trying to 'get them guns off the street'. Richard (from the HC boards) found this interesting article.



RELIGIOUS ZEALOTS

More fun from American schools. [Note that if the billboard offends you, you can get more offended by going here.]



IMDB

I did a review for IMDB and they got published it.



JOHNNY DEPP

As advertised, Johnny Depp has nothing to do with this blog. It is an evil experiment I am conducting. If you have forgotten what he looks like, here is a picture. I am doing this experiment because the last time I had someone famous in the title, the post got a lot of hits. I'm curious as to if that always holds true. If it does, I can sucker in more people to the insanity through doing it.



BUTLERS

Richard and I were chatting about butlers. If you'd like to know more about them, here is a butler school. The career pays not all that well considering how much it costs to go to school.



OTHER WHITE MEAT

Everyone knows pork is the 'other white meat' and human is the 'other other white meat' but now we have an 'other other other white meat'. Unicorn! The fucking sad thing is that they had to explain to people that unicorn doesn't actually exist. Rather than just issuing an apology, I think it should have been further marketed under the 'are you stupid' banner.

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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