Tuesday, February 1, 2011

57 Days And Counting


For all of my friends in Michigan expecting a foot of snow, I have just one word. Migrate. I've never understood why people stay in places they don't like the weather of. "Oh, my family is here." Ug. Move them too. Stay out of the deep snow people!

On a slightly different note, I am a little jealous of many of the 'computer professionals' around today who are able to travel and do their work from where ever they want. This may be the first time in history (well, that I know of anyway) that you can go where ever you want and 'telecommute'. And - the relevant part for this discussion - you'd be able to leave a foot of snow the hell behind.


So, I was curious as to what kind of immunizations I would need for my trip. The answer pretty much came down to 'what country are you planning on visiting?' I asked (to get a base line) what would the typhoid immunization shot cost? They said 'no insurance'? I said nada. $89. Fuck that. I'll get it over there - it'll be cheaper. I'll have to make a special request for the 'no AIDS needle' but Christ - the cure sounds worse than the disease at that price.

For anyone else planning some international travel, the CDC webpage is a resource to check out.

The problem for me is that the immunizations depend on 'where do you want to go' and 'everywhere' is not a normal answer. Also, the 'health department' that does it in my area only does it two hours per day one day a week and by appointment only. In addition to charging an assload of money. Fail.


Bad, worse, worst. What's the lesson here? Well, some people believe that going to Ireland is dangerous, dating Irish people is dangerous or that getting smacked around dangerous. I'm not sure what to think about it. Maybe everyone must get their own meaning out of it. Maybe there is no meaning. Maybe there is no maybe. Meaning there is no maybe. Maybe.


Go, go equality. This struck my fancy.


From: "Pilot Guide", season 4, episode 7 on London.

Host: "Black pudding? What is this?"
Local: "You don't want to know."
Host: "It looks like dried blood."
Local: "It is..."
Host: (Pulls the 'what the fuck is this doing on my plate' face.)


A note on the guy who does the host of that particular episode - he seems to know bits of lots of different languages. I'd like to be there some day. Note - I checked out his IMDB it says "Known for his linguist talents: fluent in German, Indonesian, Malay, Thai, Lugandan and Swahili, and some Japanese, Lao, Hindi as well as several other African and Asian dialects." If I was rich, I'd probably hire this guy as a friggin tour guide.

Sorry, my brain doesn't seem to work that well for languages - looks like I won't get there. I would be happy to at least know a couple nice phrases in various languages. Despite having a large head (according to the Marines anyway) it seems to be pretty full. Of what, I don't know but if I find out I'll be sure to post it here.

I do like this Jonathan Atherton host because he does fit into the positive Australian stereotypes of 'fun, easy to get along with and doesn't take himself too seriously'. Not bad positive stereotypes to have.

Hum. Now I'm feeling bad because I'm having difficulty trying to think 'What are the positive American stereotypes? And before anyone says it in the comments section, I don't consider xenophobia and warmongering as really what most people would term 'positive', no.


Many of the guards in England use 'bearskin' hats. The PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals) are annoyed with this because apparently one bear = one hat. I'm not sure what is done with the rest of the bear. The solution that the PETA people want the British government to find is a synthetic that can replace so that the bears in danger of over population will not be culled any more. The English army, I'm sure, would rather just feed the PETA people to the bears and have done with it. That would allow them to continue wearing these very distinctive - and need I say 'very English' hats. The hats, sadly, do not cover the ears and so allow for the army people to ignore the whining. In protest, the PETA people apparently staged a naked protest. I noticed that the PETA people smeared themselves with blood rather than doing the 'throwing blood on the people wearing fur and yelling fur is murder' thing probably because those guys in the 'funny hats' are infantry and they'd get stomped into the ground. I guess that's why the PETA people don't go after bikers - despite the bikers wearing all that leather. Now, not all PETA people are bad - at least one is good. But, if you don't like them, there are ways of expressing that too.


I was discussing this with a buddy of mine today - much to the chagrin of other, more idealistic students in the coffee house today and wanted to note down some phrases that will help you when you need to bribe an official. Note that this is mostly for poorer countries because - hey - it's way too expensive to bribe someone in the US. But for border crossings and things like that, this may work.

"What can we do about this?" - A good phrase after being caught with an expired visa stamp, a key of coke or several dead hookers.
"Is there some sort of small fine or tax I can pay now to expedite this procedure?" - This may help things go more smoothly at the border.
"I'm sorry, I'm new to this country - is the giving of cash as a token of friendship acceptable?" - This one is totally an emergency one for when you aren't sure what else to do.

The key to all of these is to be able to have a way out if the person says angrily "Are you offering me a bribe?" You have complete deniability. You can say "No sir - I am just unfamiliar with the customs of border crossings and wasn't sure if I should be paying some sort of tax. I would, of course, get a proper receipt." Note, that if the 'paying of a small tax' (aka bribery) worked the first time you do not ask for a receipt. Things might go quickly downhill at that point.

Other tips - sometimes it is better to ask if you can speak to the highest ranking person alone before bribing them. Other times, when it is accepted behavior to bribe a group of people, you do not need to do this.

When ever you are working on bribing people, you must appear to be calm, cool and collected. Doing it with a smile is best. This can add to your deniability as well as keeping them happy.

There are surprisingly few good articles on the internet on 'how to bribe someone'. This may be the only blog that tackles such issues. But, in some countries the wait can be agonizing hours or less than a minute, depending on how you do it. If you are the kind of person who says things like "Well, it shouldn't work like that." and "People shouldn't take or give bribes.", you lose. Remember, even in America we regularly and routinely bribe people. Ever tipped at a restaurant? If so, you're doing it wrong. Try tipping before they take your order. Then, it becomes a bribe - and gosh you get a lot better service. The 'tip' as a reward for good - or even in some cases downright bad - service is much less effective. I wanted to try out this principle once in a Mexican restaurant. I took a friend with me. When we went in, I asked to speak to my waiter and gave him a $50 handshake. "Could you make sure my friend and I are looked after?" We had four waiters hovering - fucking hovering - around our table. When I asked if I could get a little more sauce, the table was filled with sauce. I'm sure the other customers were glad to see us go - I think we were the only table getting served while we were there. Some people have told me since "You should still tip afterward." I've thought about it and I think that is missing the point - they got their tip beforehand. Leaving a $50 on the table when we left would have not done anything for us. Next time you are taking a 'special person' out to dinner and want to impress, go for the handshake. Make sure the person you do it to is your waiter or you may blow the money.

Logan's blog - teaching people how to bribe people. Well, I guess that's something...


"You can get more of what you want with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word." - Al Capone.


  1. I got your English cuisine right here


  2. Absolutely terrifying. And true, from what I've seen.

  3. Good information to know on bribery and you used my favorite quote at the end :)

  4. Hope it helps you to grease the wheels of foreign bureaucracy!



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