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Sunday, March 27, 2011

ON MY WAY

GET AN 'OLD FASHIONED'

Thanks to Jason for finding this. It's the place you want to go after a rough day of work, I suppose...



TOMB RAIDER 2013

In Hollywood's 'lets try to make money off of what is safe instead of checking out some of the masses of stuff that has been put out in book form' it looks like they're going for yet another remake. The last one was put out only a few years ago - that will make it 12 years till the remake. Joy and happiness.

The first Tomb Raider movie made some good money, hence they made a second one. Which didn't. Because the writing sucked. Lets hope it gets better for the remake...


THREE MUSKETEERS

Speaking of yet more remakes, they are making yet another 'Three Musketeers' film. Looks like another 'big budget and everyone is a ninja in the fight scenes' type of thing from the preview on IMDB. Sigh. I enjoyed the 1993 version myself.

These kind of remakes cause me to wonder if Hollywood wouldn't be forced to be more creative (rather than going for 'safe') if they were not allowed to make a remake for at least 20 or 30 years of a film? They'd probably find ways to get around the rule is my guess.



ON THE WAY

I am currently at the airport. On purpose, I arrived about five hours early. I wanted to give plenty of time for TSA to root through my stuff.

After saying good bye to two awesome friends here in Blacksburg, Virginia I went into the airport. I attempted to use the automated kiosk to get mmy boarding pass. After waiting in line to use it, it told me to see an attendant. I'm not sure what was going on with their computers but I managed to get four different workers from the airline looking at the computer screen. Eventually - the wise man of the area came to look. His last name was 'Pilot'. I said to him "Your last name is pilot?" He nodded so I said "And you work at an airport - that's cool." After messing about with it for awhile, he eventually rebooted the computer. He must have read my blog on how to 'fix' computers. That did the trick.

Here's the kicker - the amount of time it took to get through that was MUCH longer than the total tie the TSA spent with me. Seriously! I pretty much just walked through it with my 35 pounds (they had a scale - I got to check) of luggage. The only thing they wanted to see was my had. Honestly. They gave my hat an intensive hand search. I have no idea why. An intensive hand search. As the lady was doing the hand search of my hat, she looked up at me like she wanted a reaction (or micro expression) so I leaned forward and said in a confidential loud whisper, "It's an old hat." That ended the hand search as she was now smiling. I have no idea what it was all about. Just weird.

I have (thanks to Bert and Travis) made it to the airport fed and well ahead of time.

The Roanoke airport (airport code ROA if you care...) has no 'smoking room' as the major airports seem to so I will be trying out my 'electronic cigarettes' later.

Other than that, it's just sitting and waiting for awhile. More later...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

THREE AND A WAKEUP

VIOLENCE EXPORTED

I was reading a story that had some interesting things to say about one of America's biggest exports - violence. They are charging "group of five soldiers accused of killing innocent civilians out of pure bloodlust". This was discovered because - like stupid teenagers, "The soldiers then took photos of themselves grinning while standing over their victims as if posing with hunting trophies, as well as taking gruesome mementos including bones and severed fingers." "Reports have claimed the atmosphere after a killing was jubilant, with the soldiers in high spirits and excitedly regaling each other with their own versions of what had happened. In a sad irony, the soldiers were supposed to be carrying out the American strategy of counterinsurgency, or COIN, by protecting and befriending the Afghan population in the dangerous region around Kandahar." Well, I guess they misunderstood their mission. To cap it off, the actions of the 'kill team' were denounced as "...contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army..." This is another example of why the government will prefer to use private contractors instead of army troops - better deniability. Personally, I wouldn't have said these crimes were caused by bloodlust - they didn't occur while combat was going on. According to the article, the soldiers started it themselves. Hence, psychotic behavior rather than bloodlust.

Yes, even I think that's bad. Worse than the usual thing of going berserk with a BB gun because a special ended on your Taco Bell. For the record, unless real bullets were used, I don't call it a 'shootout'.



MIRROR BLINDS

Bert found out about these. They're marketing them for hunting but Bert mentioned that the military potential is also there.



TALK TALK TALK

Richard, Travis, Bert and I (Logan - the guy who writes this blog) were sitting around chatting. For your inspection, it is here.

A wide variety of topics were covered. It may (or may not) be of interest to others. I have entitled it 'Pre-Game Dump' - not after any RPG game but titled after the line in Van Wilder. It is confusing, but I'm sure you've already figured it out.



TIME LEFT

Not counting today (which is cleaning day) I have three days and a wake up. Not too long to go. It will be a long assed three days though. Pretty much my plan is to try to hit my favorite restaurants and talk to people that I've gotten to know here before I go. I feel that I've gotten to spend some good time with Travis and Bert before I left - and will get to spend a bit more as they are taking me to the airport. Good deal there for a last huzzah. I am planning on arriving a minimum of four hours before the flight as to give TSA a chance to root through my bags as well as give me plenty of time to repack them.

Other than that, no real plans.



GERMAN READERS

The blog apparently has a lot of people with German IP addresses reading it. We're planning on hitting Munich for sure, possibly other places but Munich for sure. If you're wanting to meet up with us in Munich, let me know. We'll see if we can coordinate a convenient place to meet for a beer or something.



MATT AND THE DEAD HOOKERS

Richard found this from Matt's first dictionary.

The story of Matt and the slaying of countless hookers does however have a dark side. Apparently, he has been banned from entering the Netherlands. In an interview with a government official who demanded anonymity (so he was not called a hooker and slain by Matt) the government official is quoted as saying "In Amsterdam, we have over 20,000 prostitutes. Having a crazed person coming and murdering them is not the sort of image we want to give people of the Netherlands."

Matt is quoted as saying "I don't see what the big deal is. They have so many - I mean, I would only be able to kill less than a hundred! If Charlie Sheen can go crazy I am surprised this is even newsworthy." When told that statement made no sense, he responded with a loud "Shaddup!" and went back to his beer drinking in preparation of stalking prostitutes.

So, for the readers of this blog, that means that sadly Matt will not get to accompany us on the Amsterdam portion of the trip. Whether he sues the Netherlands for infringing on his rights remains to be seen but the conservatives of the Netherlands are in favor of not only him having an extended visit but paying for that visit. We will keep you up to date on that news as it becomes available.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

FIVE AND A WAKEUP

HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY

Well, not the whole galaxy - but I was doing some research on hitchhiking and found some articles - safety, mistakes and tips.



NOT FUNNY

According to Matt, this is not funny. Do not click on this link. If you clicked it, blame Matt.



CHILDREN

Fun things to do to children.



ENGLAND

We had a discussion about the upcoming trip to England. It is linked here if you would like to listen to it.



SOME FOLKS I MET AT BOLLO'S COFFEE HOUSE

JOSH
And this is the mutherfucker I beat at chess after he had gone undefeated for seven years.

AUSTIN
And this is Austin. He is a brilliant mathematician who is currently solving big issues. His math relates to thermostats somehow and he explained imaginary numbers by saying that without them we'd have no microwaves.



STAMMTISCH

This last Thursday, I attended the last meeting of the 'gather to speak German and hang out with cool people' club. I'm going to miss those guys but hopefully it gave me a bit more German speaking ability. One of the words I got this last meeting was 'weltbummler'. Which sounds a bit like 'welt bumbler'. It's like a 'world traveler' though the google translate shows it as 'globe trotter'. I was told that is my new 'occupation'.



WAITING SUCKS

I've only got five days and a wake up left at the time of this writing. The time has slowed way down aside from yesterday as I got to spend pretty much the whole day hanging out with Travis - and keeping him from doing his school studying. Good deal. Tomorrow, I get to hang out with Bert some. Other than that, cleaning the house (well, room) for Travis to move in after I'm gone is pretty much all I have left here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

EIGHT DAYS...AND COUNTING...

ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES

A cautionary note - get less nicotine than you think you'll need. Holy crap are the filters strong right out of the box! So strong that I'm going to try getting the 'lights' tomorrow. If they sell some without nicotine, I'm considering buying those as well. Right now, I'm soaking one of the filters that came with the electronic cigarette in water - then I'll dry it and see if that helps. They have warnings against just sucking on the filters in the directions. I've also noticed that just sucking on the body of the cigarette thing produces no 'smoke'. I don't know if the 7-11 I bought it from has any 'no nicotine filters' but will find out tomorrow. I will either get as light as they have or no nicotine. Update - they didn't have the nada nicotine ones so I got as light as they had. Hopefully, they won't kick my ass like the others did. Since it will be difficult to get replacement filters (though I will keep my eye open for nada nicotine ones!) this won't become a usual thing. Fortunately, the set up is small enough that carrying it shouldn't be a problem.



HEROIC CTHULHU

The Vassal module can be found here. This gives all of the cards with the pictures and such on them. This is good for role playing gamers.



MOVIE REVIEW - HITCH

This is normally a 'chick flick' but I did indeed like it. I give it a 7/10. It's a good 'feel good' movie about love. Not the kind of thing I normally watch. No dead bodies flying through the air, no explosions. I liked all of the actors in this one even. Good comedy.



MOVIE REVIEW - MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME
The best picture I could get of 'the wheel' from the second movie. There are three total movies in the series.

All three of these movies deal with the 'after the nuclear Holocaust' This was a lot more of a possibility in the 1980's than it seems to be these days. Now, we just have terrorism. Anyway, a brief synopsis of the movies as seen from a Logan point of view (as you can read the IMDB ones if you want their version):

Mad Max: The boring prequel that shows how and why Max is all fucked up.

Road Warrior: Excellent road battle scenese as people in the '1980's punk look will never end' fight max and other people with Big Hair.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome: Max breaks a deal and faces the wheel - then a shitload of kids and has another exciting on the road battle.

Aside from the action, the thing I like best about the second and third movies is all of the 'post nuke junk' they have and use - it's really well done.

If you've never seen these three movies, get your young punk ass in front of the computer and watch them.

Something I did not know but discovered is apparently, they are making a fourth movie! Not sure what the hell they're thinking there as the others were made so many years ago but it should be interesting. Interestingly, all of the actors listed on the page when I looked at it are all female. Wonder if it will be an all female cast?



MOVIE REVIEW - THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN

This is a seriously weird ass movie. It has Eric Idle of Monty Python fame in it and another behind the camera (Terry Gilliam) directing it. Despite IMDB having a high rating for it (7/10) it seems to have lost a shitload of money. Like $30M on my simplified calculation method.

Anyway, I'd rate this movie about a 6/10 - it's got good scenery, costumes and is bizarre.



EURO

Apparently, people have so little faith in the US dollar, that it is the lowest it's been in about a year against the Euro. That sucks.



THE MAN WITH BOGARTS FACE AKA SAM MARLOW, PRIVATE EYE (1980)

A surprisingly good movie from the eighties. The preimce is that a guy gets plastic surgery to look like Humphrey Bogart and changes his name to 'Sam Marlow' - a composite name of two character Bogart played in a couple of movies. I've actually run a couple of RPG games off of this movie. Pretty good plot. Due to the number of times I've watched it I gave it a 9/10.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

NINE DAYS TO GO

FIVE MINUTES OF AMUSEMENT

Josh just told me about this. Sadly, it is a better conversationalist than some humans.



MOVIE REVIEW - ZULU

Felbrig (from Facebook and the HC boards) told me to watch this movie. In fact, it's apparently even available for free these days. It was made back in 1964 and is Michael Caine's first leading role. He played an 'upper class twit'.

They do a lot of stuff in this film you wouldn't see in today's movies - frequent useless closeups of an actresses eyes to see her reaction to things. I gotta confess that the acting of the person who played the priest and priest's daughter is good. I wanted to slap them both repeatedly. Like many 'witnessing' religious fanatics. So much slapping...

It's a slow start but it builds to a shit-ton of combat that goes on for pretty much the rest of the movie. One interesting thing about these sorts of movies (made in the 1960's) is they didn't have computer graphics - if someone got hit with a board on fire, by god they really did. Good stuff.

I'd rate it a 5/10. Watchable, but not a high re-watch movie.



MOVIE REVIEW - MR & MRS SMITH

This movie was OK, but somehow just not as cool as it could have been. I realize that this is where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie met in 2005 to get married and begin churning out kids. Good for them.

I gotta say, I liked the movie better when they started working together at the end. If that was a spoiler for you, there is something bad about not watching a movie for 6 years then whining about a small spoiler.

It is the movie that makes 'spousal abuse' a wonderful way to spend your evening with your spouse. They even played fun music while it was going on. And it brings sex back into the relationship. What could possibly be missing? What a happy time.

But honestly, the movie is only mediocre - I'd give it a 6/10 for some of the good scenes of extreme violence.



MOVIE REVIEW - IDIOCRACY

Drink Brawndo!

I view this movie as a shocking glimpse of the future. I believe it will happen for the same reason stated in the movie.

With great lines such as: Officer Collins: [addressing military brass] "You see, a pimp's love is very different from that of a square."

This movie (as well as all of the nifty pictures I made off of it that I used in the HC game) rates a 10/10.

As a side note, I don't think they make Brawndo any more. For those wondering, the movie made the product, not the other way around. I have personally drank some and TJ has some still left - thanks to Pete. I personally liked it but I believe TJ said it tastes like 'burning death'.



MOVIE REVIEW - A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM

An excellent comedy from 1966. I gave it a 7/10. Excellent characters. It's true that there is some singing that goes on as it is a musical. They do a lot of talking though.

My favorite character is Miles Gloriosus. I've actually used his song in RPG's before.




Code Switching

This is an interesting phenomena I've personally experienced. This is the term for switching back and forth in what languages you're speaking in when talking to other people. I didn't know what their term for it was.



ELECTRONIC CIGARETTE

Trying out my first electronic cigarette - the Njoy. It's not bad. Might be a good pacifier to wean me off of smokes. Who knows. The huge downside I see to this is if I want refill filters they must come from the USA. Difficult. I think I'm going to see if I can get some additional filters and take them with me. Whether I go to this permanently or not, it will probably help more than hurt. I'm not sure if it would be able to be smoked in an airplane though I'm guessing that I could get away with it in the airport.

For a single 'cigarette' that comes with two filters and an electronic charger (goes into the computer - weird, huh?) it costs $20 plus tax. Five replacement cartridges cost $20. Now, the question is 'how long do the filters actually last for?' They have the number of puffs that they are suppose to last for but that doesn't really help me. At all. So, I had a regular cigarette to count how many puffs it last for. The answer? 14.

According to the direction manual (yeah, I fucking read it) each cartridge is good for about 200 puffs. Hence, each cartridge is about 13 cigarettes. The replacement cartridges claim to be good for three times as many charges so about 39 smokes. Hence, each is two packs. Hence, it's about $4 for about two packs of smokes. Financially, sounds good. I'll see how it works later. I'm going to try to get the 'lights' (as opposed to regular). We'll see how it works out.

There is slight smell with this - the box covers that saying 'virtually odorless' - but it's certainly less foul than normal cigarettes. Certainly less annoying than some of the perfumes women enjoy dumping on themselves.

The taste will take a bit to get use to.



BACKGAMMON

I've been using this web based program to try to learn a bit of backgammon with. It's not bad, but not great. It's free - which is important.



VENICE

Interesting fact on Venice I picked up from a NOVA show about the sinking of Venice. There are about 70,000 residents. And about 15 million tourists per year. Wow. [Sorry, couldn't find the show on IMDB. Fail, IMDB - "Nova Sinking City of Venice 2002" So, aside from architecture, what you get to see there is pretty much all tourists. Kind of sad, actually... Note to self, take rubber boots with if I go there.

It's funny - they have a solution to the flooding of Venice that they like but it relies on Italian politicians to get moving on this. Hence, after years of inaction, there is still no solution in effect. Personally, I'm surprised they don't just take the taxes and profits the government gets from Venetian tourists and use it to make the solution. But, the solution has apparently been around for fourteen years and still no 'sea gate' solution. So, it is thought that in not too long, the former city (now museum) of Venice will go the hell away. Hence, no more worry...

It seems that man and God have joined forces to kill Venice. If you are wanting to see it, I'd suggest taking some hip waders with you and seeing it as soon as possible.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bob's Travel Tips

Considering a week and a half are left in the month, that's pretty nifty.



QUOTE OF THE DAY

Edwards: "Why the big secret? People are smart. They can handle it."
Kay: "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow."



MOVIE REVIEW - MEN IN BLACK

IMDB gave it a 7/10, I give it an 8/10. $90M to make, it got a gross of $250M. That's the dream of people who make profit on movies. This is a fun, happening movie with a lot of good acting, interesting characters and such in it. I've got to say that acting by Vincent D'Onofrio also stole the show.



MOVIE REVIEW - MEN IN BLACK II

Clearly, in this one, they said "Look how much the last one made! We can spend more and make it back!!" So, they spent $140M on it. It managed to make $190M. It surprises me that they didn't make a sequel. After all, this movie made them $50M. IMDB only gave this one a 5.6 - I give it a 6/10. With the vast majority of sequels, the writing seems to decrease. It's like the writers came up with one good idea and can't come up with more. It's very sad, but common. MIB 2 is 'ok' but if you miss it, it's not a big thing.



MASSAGE

Back in the old days (que music) I got to have an occasional massage. Unfortunately, in the states it's just too expensive. I'm hoping to have some overseas. I'll be sure to post the price.



WESTERN EUROPE TRAVEL

I wanted to thank 'Bob RhymeswithRue' from Facebook as he shared with me his advice on travel in Western Europe.

"My work takes me to western Europe so far, so I don't really have a lot of useful advice about Eastern Europe, but I'd really like to travel the Danube in a few years.

Check out expat community websites/blogs for the areas you'd like to visit. Expats living in various countries have TONS of useful info. And I know there are a lot of folks working in Eastern Europe either as expats or as frequent travelers (I was talking to a guy that is a commercial producer that works almost exclusively in the Ukraine, but I only learned his first name).

Try to keep the wardrobe pretty nondescript. I once had a really bad night in Dusseldorf just because of the color of winter jacket I was wearing (red) the day before a huge anti-Turkey rally.

If you're heading to London, just be warned it (and all of England, really) is pretty expensive. Be sure to check out Winston Churchill's Bunker and The Tower. Shop at Tesco's (they're the equivalent of super-discount mega store in England) to keep your costs down. And most importantly, GET the HELL OUT of London. There are so many great things to see in England and London is not the center of the universe (unless most expensive place on earth counts). Warwick Castle is neat, but it's as expensive as a day at Disneyland (but might be worth it to you). Hadrian's Wall is AWESOME! You can hike the length of it. It's not all intact and some of it's on private property, but you can still hike the wall (even on top of the wall itself in a few spots). If you plan to visit historic places in England, get yourself a national trust membership and save yourself a TON of money https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-trust/w-support/w-jointoday/w-jointoday-joinonline.htm. There's a listing of their membership historic sites on their website (Hadrian's Wall is one). Never, ever, say anything bad about the queen or other royals, even when they do something stupid (some folks get really upset).

Scottland in summer is fantastic. Sure the weather isn't always great, but it has so much sunlight.

Germany's economy is going gangbusters, and there's some inflation in prices as a result.

Car rental is expensive and your car insurance provider will not cover you outside of North America. You will have insurance on your rental car from the agency, BUT, it is not 100% and only covers partial. You can purchase additional insurace (full coverage) and it is expensive, but can save you from having to shell out a load of cash when someone dings your door in a parking lot (as a colleague of mine found out the hard way).

Paris isn't France just like London isn't England. There's a lot of great stuff in France and it's a lot cheaper outside of the city. Normandy is great, but it's not easy to get to a lot of the war memorial sites unless you hook up with a group, tour, or rent a vehicle. Each French town has a special "market day" of the week. You can usually find out a town's market day on the town website, or regional sites like this one http://www.le-guide.com/markets/index.html. You can find great bargains and don't even need to spend ANY money to have a lot of fun on market days (they're a BLAST).

If I think of anything else, I'll pass it on to you. NomadicMatt's blog has a lot of other tips. Have some great travels!"

From what he discussed, I'm thinking he hasn't been reading the blog. (In so far as I know escaping London and wearing non-descript clothing is important.) But everything he said is still solid advice. I very much appreciate him taking the time to help me out with the travel advice.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Blog - The Exploitation. Takin' it to the Bank.

BUY LOGAN A BEER IN LONDON





REMEMBER - EVERY $5.30 YOU CONTRIBUTE CAN BUY LOGAN A BEER IN LONDON. Yeah - it's a bit pricey there. I can't think of any good reason for anyone to buy me a beer - but I'm sure someone wants to. Perhaps they know that if I drink enough beers, that many embarrassing scenes will come about.



QUOTE OF THE DAY

Topper Harley: "My father used to say that not playing to win is like sleeping with your sister. Sure she's a great piece of tail, with a blouse full of goodies, but... it's just illegal. Then you get into that whole inbred thing. Kids with no teeth who do nothing but play the banjo... eat apple sauce through a straw... pork farm animals."



QUOTE OF THE DAY PART DEUX

Topper Harley: "Ramada, I want to be with you. I want to hold you. I want to meet your parents and pet your dog..."
Ramada Rodham Hayman: "My parents are dead, Topper. My dog ate them."



MOVIE REVIEW - HOT SHOTS I & II

As you may have noticed from the quotes of the day above, I've been re=watching Hot Shots and Hot Shots 2. Amazingly, both of these have a bit over 6/10 on IMDB but I give them both 9/10. This set of movies is rare as the sequel did not suck. Both are fun movies with lots of good quotes.



THEME MUSIC

If the last one wasn't disturbing enough, try this one. If being disturbed disturbs you, this one might be better.



MOVIE REVIEW - FOUR ROOMS

This movie is presented in four 'vignettes'. Each a small separate story connected by the main character who is the bellboy of the hotel. I'm going to give you fair warning - the first vignette is (IMO) the absolute worst. If you turn it off after just seeing that you will say 'WTF was Logan talking about saying he liked it?'. If you really want to, you can play starting at about 23 minutes into the film and start on the second one.

Now the fun part - for those that are roleplayers - We did the second vignette to someone. I'm not kidding. The beautiful thing is that he responded pretty much like the main character of the movie did all through it. A bunch of other players were sitting around watching it as they were the ones who stuck him in the mess to start with. It was priceless.

For those familiar with the TV show Lie To Me (a show I recommend), Four Rooms also has as the star (bellhop) a very young looking Tim Roth.

I would rate this one a little higher (but not much) than IMDB who gave it a 6.4 - I'd put it at a solid 7/10.

Any movie that has a picture of one of the dead hookers Matt L. left in a hotel room is a win.When it's found by kids, so much the better.



MOVIE REVIEW - VAN WILDER (2002)

This is a rough movie for Ryan Reynolds. Why? Because I rate every other movie he does against this one. This movie is for me a 10/10. That means that everything else comes up short. Kal Penn also does a great job in this movie but he also did a nice job in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. I wish we could have several more movies where Ryan Reynolds plays a character like Van Wilder (or Van himself).

Life is all about developing personal relationships - write that down. - Van Wilder. Note that this is a purposeful misquote. But I think it's true!

Quote (to a pretty girl) "Are you stalking me? Because that would be super..."

I've gotta say, the scenes with the dog did give me a bit of gag.
Shown here is someone projectile vomiting (a term I learned from Chris) on someone else from 'the dog scene'. Yeah - it's that kind of thing.

Also, for those into such things, plenty of breasts in this movie.

And some horrible shit -



MOVIE REVIEWS

I'm sure someone out there is asking "Why should I listen to movie reviews done by Logan?" I think the best answer I can give is "I will fucking eat your skull if you don't!" And I will barrage you with random images. Seriously though I'm thinking a lot of the people I know are substantially younger than I am (partially because the older ones keep dying) and haven't seen some of the movies that - although they were made in the 1980's or 1990's are actually worth watching. So, this might give them some ideas of things to watch.



BERT WATCH

Keep an eye out for Bert's website. I don't know what it is right now but I'm thinking he will put it in the comments to this blog - check there. His plan (after he gets a hold of my computer when I leave) is to re-publish all of the Heroic Cthulhu stuff. If you've never heard it before

1. It's funny.
2. It's got great player moments as well as the 'duh' moments.
3. There is so much of it you could listen for 24 hours a day and literally have a few months of crap to listen to. I'm serious.
4. It shows you just how amazingly fucking smart the players I had are. Really - they are just that fucking smart. Painfully smart. Like "I didn't expect them to figure out this murder mystery and they solved it with style" type of smart. [To those who say "They are average, you are just stupid Logan" - fuck off.]



PHONE

As a side note, I need to get Bert my phone (and charger) before I leave. Wise Richard discovered it won't work overseas. Doh.

12 and a wake up...

THE BERT

Went over to Bert's house with Travis. Met up with Bert, his wife and mother in law. We had a nice dinner (Bert can indeed cook) and chatted. Afterward, Bert conducted what I thought was a very nice (and well thought out) interview with Travis and I. He said he wanted to get it recorded in case I go die in some other country. Soon.

We discussed the Heroic Cthulhu game, RPG game mastering in general and what Logan is going to be up to. Bert asked many good questions. I hope everyone enjoys it.

Part 1 of the interview
Part 2 of the interview



DINNER PARTY PICTURES

When most people dig a shallow hole in the back yard, they are just making a mess. Not so with Bert the cook!This is a hobo BBQ pit!

We then had dinner with Bert, Bert's wife Susan and Bert's mother in law (who I just called 'mom' as it didn't require me memorizing any other name) and Travis. Picture.

After dinner, when my eyes turned red, it was time to do something else fun.

So, we dressed up Travis in Bert's clothing for fun. Do we know how to party or what?



THEME MUSIC

And, for those who were wanting it, here is some theme music. The sound is right but I haven't watched the entire video. I looks rough...



TEA

TJ wanted me to alert all tea drinkers (especially those in England) to this video.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A RANDOM BARRAGE OF IMAGES





FROM THE BBC

Simpson's phrases used in the BBC? Wowza...



SPEAK ENGLISH ENGLISH?

Credit to Kurt's blog. Here's the link. This will be useful for talking to people in England.

George Bernard Shaw said "England and America are two countries separated by a common language." If you've ever heard 'cockney rhyming slang', you know it to be very true. If you've never heard much, here's a quick primer of some. As with American slang, this changes quite often.



QUOTE OF THE DAY

Eurotrip: "Hello, and welcome to Amsterdam's finest and most luxurious youth hostel. We feature one medium sized room containing 70 beds which can sleep up to 375 bodies a night. There is no bathroom. Nor is there one nearby. If you do not wish to have your valuables stolen I suggest destroying them or discarding them right now. You can also try hiding your valuables. In your anus. This will deter some but of course not all thieves. Once you are inside, the doors are chained and locked from the outside. They will not be opened again until morning, no matter what. Should a fire occur due to our faulty wiring or, uh, the fireworks factory upstairs you will be incinerated along with the valuables that you have hidden in your anus. Tips are greatly appreciated."



ANOTHER QUOTE OF THE DAY

Vigo: "On a mountain of skulls, in the castle of pain, I sat on a throne of blood! What was will be! What is will be no more! Now is the season of evil!" - Ghostbusters 2.



DIALING COUNTRY CODES

From Richard, we have this.



JOSH

I beat Josh in chess. I wanted to gloat in this blog. Is it wrong of me to use a blog to boast to hundreds of people in thirty or forty countries that I managed to defeat Josh in chess when he hadn't lost in seven years? Josh thinks so. That adds to the sweetness of the victory. How many words can I put down just on this? How far can I stretch this out? Stay tuned...



FROM ERIKA
This gave me a chuckle.



SKYPE

Limited time offer on skype - if you're wanting to contact me via skype, do it now because I'm not sure how well it will work when I'm Europe. If you don't know my contact name in skype, put a message in the comments section and I'll contact you. I may record the conversations (if it's cool with you) for possible release later on a podcast. [I use skype for chatting with people because in todays world, typing is a bit silly.]



MOVIE REVIEW - EVOLUTION (2001)

This I classify as a 'fun movie'. It has several good actors in it and is pretty neat to watch. Sadly, this is the only thing I've seen worth a shit with David Duchovny starring aside from the X-Files...

It also has such quotes as: Governor Lewis: "I oughta throw the whole goddamn, jacked-up bunch of you in prison. No, not that cushy federal place with the loose jumpsuits. *State prison*... with the crotch binders!" When I heard it, I thought he said "crotch biters" - which IMO would have been better. Scarier. I'm not even sure what a 'crotch binder' is.

While IMDB gives this movie a 5.9, I give it a solid 8.

Monday, March 14, 2011

15 DAYS TO GO

FOR THOSE JUST NOW TUNING IN

Anyone can go to Europe and live on a hundred or more a day. It's just a fact. If you can't, you have either extravagant taste or 'issues'. I don't know a lot of people that can afford a hundred or two hundred dollar a day vacation unless it is of the 'whirlwind' variety. Rather than run from tourist line to tourist line trying to see everything before it is too late, I'm going to be surviving on a lot less and trying to stay in an area long enough to either soak it up or get bored of it. I'm not working on quickly seeing anything. I am too fat, old, slow and crippled to do that. One of the things I'm going to try to illustrate during this blog (in another couple weeks) is how much I spend and what you get for that. DISCLAIMER: Not sure how much of that will get done in Western Europe - plus it's fucking expensive there. But we'll see.

What these maps and such (below) are is I am trying to find out where cool stuff (that is known about on the internet) is. That doesn't mean that other parts of the country won't turn out to be more interesting, it's just my 'first glance' at a country. This is not going to necessarily be my route either, for those interested in stalking me or joining up with me on some particular leg of the journey. When I get new information from other travelers, natives and - hum - guess there aren't a lot of other choices there. When I get new information from travelers and natives I will revise what I know about an area.

Who knows? Some day I may become knowledgeable on some part of the world.



SERBIA AND KOSOVO
Well, this is an interesting place. It looks like there are a few interesting places in Serbia to visit (see map). Kosovo is the 'breakaway state'. It's looking like Kosovo is a bit riskier and apparently more expensive. I think the expensive part is what might keep me out of there - it looks pretty safe. I'll have to check when I get closer to it to see if there are cheap places to stay there.



MONTENEGRO
From what I've read so far, this place seems famous for things like hiking, surfing and other sports that I'm not really physically capable of doing. It doesn't, however, seem like it's real expensive. Might be worth hitting.



ALBANIA
This looks like a pretty nifty place - lot of ruins and such are there.

I've got to say that the data I've gotten from wikiTravel didn't really give me a feel for the Balkans. A couple places to check out, certainly - but the feel for the place I'll have to get when I arrive.



COUNTRY COUNT

[[[Balkans]]] x10
Albania
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria
Croatia
Kosovo
Macedonia
Moldova
Montenegro
Romania
Serbia

[[[Baltic states]]] x3
Estonia
Latvia
Lithuania

[[[Benelux]]] x3
Netherlands
Belgium
Luxembourg

[[[Caucasus]]] x4
Armenia
Azerbaijan
Georgia
Russia

[[[Central Europe]]] x9
Austria
Czech Republic
Germany
Hungary
Liechtenstein
Poland
Slovakia
Slovenia
Switzerland

[[[Miscellaneous]]] x8
France
Greece
Turkey
Cyprus
Italy
Ukraine
Belarus
Britain and Ireland

[[[Iberia]]] x3
Andorra
Portugal
Spain

[[[Scandinavia]]] x5
Denmark
Norway
Sweden
Finland
Iceland

So forty five countries in Europe (and close to it - Turkey is kind of both Europe and Asia). Hopefully, I won't get hate mail saying 'what about my beloved country' or 'oh our breakaway state shouldn't be listed as this other country'.

Of those 45, I'd like to hit about 31. We'll see how that goes.



MOVIE REVIEW - VAN HELSING (2004)

For those who haven't seen this movie, they went a bit overboard with the mythologies and tried to combine as many as possible - werewolf, vampire, Frankenstein, Dwerger, steam punk, etc. It's not a totally displeasing mix. It did an amazing amount at the box office ($120M) but unfortunately, they blew $160M making it. Hence, no sequels as it is now viewed as the movie that lost $40M. Kate Beckinsale is very easy on the eyes and Hugh Jackman makes a pretty decent moody hero in this movie. The chase scenes and fights pretty much made me think 'video game'. And it has the slowest ringing clock ever.

Also, David Wenham plays a very different role than he did in the LOTR series where he played Faramir. I think he does a good job on the role.

Over all, I'd give this a 5/10.



Gimme Shelter

Every time I hear this, it always brings back flashbacks from the Drang valley. I'm not sure why images go through my head and I have flashbacks about it. But, as they say...



MOVIE REVIEW - GROSS POINT BLANK

I gotta say I like this movie. It has a few different things than I believe would happen at my high school reunion. I don't have a hot girl waiting for me - and I honestly don't remember anyone from high school. I'm sure if I went to my high school reunion, everyone would have 'swelled' as well - especially me. But the alienation is there. And the '80's music. The irony is that I graduated close to the same year that the main character in this film did. A bit freaky. I also got into the military just out of high school. The similarities are pretty interesting. Unfortunately I am not a bad ass martial artist like the main character etc. And I'm hoping I wouldn't have to murder a professional killer at my high school reunion - which I didn't attend and have no reason to.

I give this one 9/10. I was surprised that this movie made $13M and they didn't make a sequel to it. I mean, who didn't laugh when the main character stabbed the other guy in the neck with a pen? This film does illustrate the old saying "Friends help you move, real friends help you move...bodies..."

Good quotes: Durazak 15: "Need it. I injest it on orders from my numerologist." "Me? Go G? On you? Never!"



MOVIE REVIEW - ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING

A 9/10 movie. For a movie made in the '80's, this isn't bad.



READERS

I've got readers from the country of Maldives. I can't even find that place on Google Maps. Someone tell me where that place is please.



FACEBOOK

If you're new to this blog and not on my Facebook and want to be, contact me via the comments section, leave me your e-mail address.

KILLING TIME

KILLING TIME




Warning!

This blog contains indigenous nudity. Parental discretion is advised.

The above was it. Sorry.



OBAMA

An interesting article about the US. One quote I liked is "People want freedom, but not when it comes from the barrel of a US gun." It's interesting - it seems that some people want the US involvement, some don't. Some people want it just a little bit, some people want a different arrangement. I'm glad I'm not a politician. Getting involved in the middle east crisis has the same appeal as sticking my dick into a wasp nest. And probably the same results...



MOVIE REVIEW - QUEEN OF THE DAMNED

I'm not sure why nobody but me seems to have liked this movie. Yes, it made less than the budget but it only got a 4.8 on IMDB. I gave it an 8/10. I don't think that it's as good as the books but if you were to consider it a totally seperate story, it's not bad. I did like it a lot better than the higher rated "Interview with a Vampire". Rice and the fans seemed to like that one better, I didn't. Sure, this movie had some weird stuff in it - like the only people who wore hoods to a concert are bad guy vampires but I can go with that. As far as that concert goes, I'd be pissed. A song and a half then the singer gets snatched away? What a pain in the ass. And, it proves that vampires are not good to the last drop...

I think the thing I liked most about this movie is the sound track however. I'd rate that a solid 10/10.



MOVIE REVIEW - CONSPIRACY THEORY

I like this movie - interesting psychological thing. Not sure there is too much I can say about this one without a spoiler, so I won't.

I will say I've always wanted an apartment like the lead character has. It's awesome.

It's a fast food type of movie. Chew through it if you're bored. Like I am. I'd give it a 6/10.



Bosnia

In actuality, it is called 'Bosnia and Herzegovina' but 'Bosnia' is shorter. It looks somewhat interesting - I might check it out after Croatia when I get over to that area. On the upside, it doesn't look like a visa is needed to get in there at all. The downsides are many. Warnings like this: "WARNING: Be aware that due to the constant landmine threat it is better not to leave the paved road, even for a pee-break in areas where you are not familiar with." I can see throwing many tourists off. "If you plan on traveling off the beaten path in Bosnia, be aware that the nation is still in the process of clearing many of the estimated 5 million land mines left around the countryside during the war of 1992-1995. In rural areas try to stay on paved areas if possible, and never touch any armed explosive device. Houses and private property were often rigged with mines as their owners fled during the war. If an area or property looks abandoned, stay away from it until it has been cleared by a demining team." (Same source). Oddly enough, this country is also known for hiking. That's a pretty big 'WTF' in my book. Fear not, I'm not planning on doing any hiking.

Also, the lack of public transportation could be a problem. I'll know more when I get closer to it.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

17 DAYS TO GO

CROATIA
Pula is looking interesting as they have one of the Roman arenas there. It seems that this country has a lot of interesting stuff in it. This seems to be a little unexplored jewel - going to have to hit it.



ROMANIA


Note on all of these maps that have cities crossed out: I would like to remind everyone that the crossed out stuff just indicates that either a) I couldn't find any information on the city easily or b) the information that I did find didn't make it look like a jewel I must visit. I fully realize that some little village not on the maps I have might give me my 'memorable' or 'authentic' or 'best in the country' experience. I'm marking up the maps so that I can make my way between the famous to see stuff and hopefully get to see a lot of interesting stuff along the way. I'm not sure how the travel will be - by train, bus, hitchhiking, whatever. Also, if a town is discussed as being pretty much just an industrial complex - meh. Been there, seen that before. One pretty much looks like another.



MOVIE REVIEW - UNSTOPPABLE (2010)

They went through the build up, trying to make the characters, build the suspense, all of that. After 20 minutes of that shit, I'd had enough. 3/10 stars.



BULGARIA


Looks like there is some good stuff here as well.



MOVIE REVIEW - UNDERCOVER BLUES

Chris had mentioned this movie and I thought I should watch it again. I'm giving this one a solid 9/10 - especially if the fans are gamers. This is truly a PC (player character) movie. It gets underway with the action quick and builds characters (and interesting minor characters) while that's going on. More movies like this would be nice. I'm not sure why it's not rated higher on IMDB. Made in 1993 - the same year Czechoslovakia separated into two different countries. They did mention Czechoslovakia several times in the movie. It must have been frustrating for the makers to have the country split and become two different countries the very year the movie came out.



MOVIE REVIEW - GREEN HORNET

3/10. I've discovered I dislike Seth Rogen's acting. I felt that Jay Chou's was very bland - and he only had one good line. They spent three times as much on this piece of crap as was spent on Serenity and I really have no clue where the money went. Now, to be fair, the movie (Green Hornet) did make $92 million but that means it lost about $28 million on the calculation hence I'm guessing they won't make another of those. They spent way too much on this. [Disclaimer: I realize some people will say 'oh, that was just money the movie grossed - it will still make more in DVD sales and such'. To which I respond "Find me half a dozen movies that cost more in 'budget' than they did on 'gross' that a sequel was ever made on. Ever. There might be one or two but they are rare. The formula (using only IMDB) seems to be 'if gross > budget, possible sequel. If gross much > budget, probable sequel. It's a simple formula that seems to work.] Also, the fact that the Green Hornet made $92 million show I am really in the minority in thinking it was a piece of shit I could only stomach half of before turning it off.



MOVIE REVIEW - THE TOURIST

Well, I got through this one. It was OK but not a huge favorite of mine. I think three things kept me watching it - Venice, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. I did also like how the American tourist kept attempting to speak Spanish to people in Venice - that was a nice touch and very typically American. That's about it. I'd give it a 5/10 rating. IMDB gave it 5.9 - mine is pretty close. The plot hinged on a fucking huge coincidence and a couple smaller ones. Not a huge fan of that. Also, if someone didn't see the plot twist coming from a mile away, well, they aren't very good at spotting those sorts of things. Overall, I'd call it something to munch through some time with, that's about it.



MOVIE REVIEW - ERASING DAVID

This is a show that was recommended to me by Jamas. It's another 'hey, my privacy is gone' show and some ways to try not to let your personal information fall into the wrong hands.

Note that I am not extremely paranoid about someone getting my information (I have nothing worth getting) but I do know how to shake it and lose myself if it needs to be done.

Thoughts as I go:
Christ his wife is whiny. Oh, you can't leave for a month - our child will change so much! You didn't ask my permission to disappear for a month. I would have said "Um - I'm making a film - it is my profession and what keeps a roof over your head you silly person."
This guy is keeping his mobile phone on him? What an idiot.
You need to wear dark sunglasses - facial recognition (a good part of it) is distance between the eyes. Wear mirror sunglasses.
Facebook is run by the CIA? No, that's silly. It would be the NSA's job to hack into it and get the information.
Going through garbage - good first step in any investigation. People do throw out a lot of stuff they shouldn't. Make a home shredder. Throw documents in everyone (other than yours) garbage can. If you have a shredder, great, but hand shredding also works.
If I was concerned about it, I wouldn't have facebook, e-mail, etc as that stuff a) gives away information and b) can be used to track.

We do live in a surveillance state (I agree with this) that the government says "Well, if you're being good, you have nothing to fear..." The lies of the oppressor...

This very much reminds me of another show I saw just like this. I'm mentally thinking of them as 'scared rabbit' shows. A normal person realizes just how much information everyone collects on you and makes a documentary. They consult with a few experts and get information that is both good and bad (IMO).

Unfortunately, what people don't realize is that to actually disappear is that (these days) you need a big bag of money and some knowledge. As long as you need to earn money, you're going to be on the grid. You can limit your exposure but you will always be on the grid.

Overall, dull 3/10 - turned it off because seeing stupid people doing stupid things is annoying. [I do enough stupid things to keep myself amused and up to quota on stupid shit.]



TV SHOW REVIEW - JEREMY CLARKSON MEETS THE NEIGHBORS

Jamas referred me to it. Jeremy Clarkson - no, I've never heard of him before; apparently he does a few documentaries. Anyway, this British guy wanders around poking fun at different countries and working on finding out some stuff about them. 5/10 - for me, as I'm going to be traveling, don't know why anyone else would watch it. Maybe it has 'English humor' in it that I haven't correctly discovered. For anyone else (not English), it's probably a skip.

18 DAYS LEFT

DISCWORLD

They're going to be bringing Discworld to the TV in a weekly episodic series. I'm guessing like CSI (or some police show) meets Discworld. I'm not certain whether they're going to do it with live actors or (let it not be so) animated. But it is interesting news.



BACKGAMMON

Today, I started learning how to play backgammon. Mind you, I don't really care that much about board games however backgammon is played in a lot of areas throughout the world. Hence, it is another potential tool for meeting people. Apparently, backgammon is big in Turkey as well as many of the Arabic nations today. Hence, I am learning it. My goal is to get at least proficient enough to understand how to move the pieces though I will probably never be a serious player - much like my current skill level in chess. My guide in this is an older white guy named Kevin. One of his recent sayings (that I told him should be on a t-shirt) is "If you see me with a white woman, it is my parole officer." He's an interesting character and apparently one of the better backgammon players. I think he is rated in the top thousand.




Ukraine

From what I've read, police corruption is very high there. I'm not sure what to think about the place - it might be interesting to go through. If I go there, I would go through to Moldova. Going to Moldova from the Ukraine would take me through their nifty breakaway state of Transnistria. This place was dangerous in the recent past but apparently is a bit safer now. If I hit Ukraine, I'm going to see how adventurous I feel when I'm done with the trip there. Any place that you are told 'you need to check in with the militia' when going there rates as 'adventurous'. I'm not sure if Moldova is worth seeing or not. We'll see when I get closer to it and get the word on the streets.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

20 DAYS LEFT

20 DAYS LEFT

It's the final countdown! (Oh, you know I had to...)



MORE AMERICAN CUSTOMS

Thanks to Chris and Corey, I've got a couple more American customs.

Sarcasm. Most cultures in the world don't have it - Americans use it almost daily. (For people unfamiliar with it, if the weather is dismal and you say 'What beautiful weather we are having' you are either a mental case or using sarcasm. Or a farmer needing water for his crops. I know some cultures (Japanese) have no sarcasm in their culture and the person I was using it on from that culture had more than a bit of resentment toward it. I'm not saying Americans are the only culture to use this, but we do use it quite a lot. Note, sarcasm isn't understood to be such via typing. This is why people type things like 'sarcasm on' and 'sarcasm off'. It is pretty much a vocal thing.

Hand gestures. Aside from the 'American bird' aka 'flipping someone off' which has become universal, we also use the "OK" hand gesture or the thumbs up. While the 'thumbs up' is pretty universally understood, the OK gesture is not. I know last time I was in Germany it meant 'you are an asshole' - so use that one with care.



PIRATES

Wow, what an odd story this is on real life pirates.



TOTAL RECALL (2012)

In a total WTF moment, I came across this - they are going to redo it? Already? Really? I mean the original was only made in 1990 for gods sake! Is Hollywood so bereft of ideas they are now remaking movies after only 20 years? Apparently so... Surprised they haven't messed with more classics actually.



MOVIE REVIEW - UNDERWORLD 2003

Rewtching this one. It was good though I feel that the series really (as most of them do) went downhill as the movies continued to be made. I watched it because I couldn't find my copy of Undercover Blues or Queen of the Damned. Both of which I like better than Underworld.



MOVIE REVIEW - THE 13TH WARRIOR

I have no fucking clue why this movie lost fifty million dollars. Not a clue. It's an interesting movie, well done and it even had some good stars in it. It just didn't seem to catch peoples interest in theaters. Personally, I give it 8/10. Worth catching if you haven't seen it before.



ROMANIA

I interviewed a dynamic guy named Chris about it. For some reason I can't figure out, I called it Hungary a couple times. Wow, my brain is fried. Anyway, he gave me some information about Romania (not Hungary). I'm going to put it here with my comments in [] after it.

Canadians get a better reception. If you say you're Canadian, you'll have an easier time than if you say you're American. [I've been saying for years I'd LOVE to have a Canadian passport to travel under. Unfortunately, it would cost quite a bit to get one and I just don't have those kind of funds.]

Hostels are more interesting. You meet people who are interested in the same thing you are (traveling) and can find out more information and get involved with more activities than staying in a hotel, though there is less privacy and such.

Eastern European people are more receptive to talking and such.

Bucharest is more westernized and not a good example of Romania. Sibiu (pronounced "Sib-you" is a smaller town and a better example of Romania.

You have to 'get mad' not to get taken advantage of (monetarily) on rates for cabs, hostels, etc. People in eastern Europe have a vision that all Americans live in the '90210' world. They're going to think I own a beach house and fancy car somewhere. [If only they knew how little money I actually had.] Check ahead of time (with other travelers and such) to find out how much things actually cost - including hostels. [I didn't know that they'd rip you off on hostels - knew about the cabs but not the hostels.]

Go to Ceau┼čescu's place in Romania to see what greed (and being an emperor) feels like. [I've seen the place in various travel documentaries and his famous last speech on youtube. It would be interesting.]

Outside of Bucharest, there are a lot of people who have never met an American. [All those who know me well and are reading this - please imagine their impression of America if I am the only American they'd ever met. Oh, my god.]

He was last in Romania five years ago and overstayed his visa by three months. After the police yelling at him for a couple hours, he had to pay $50 which he suspects they kept. [This tells me that - at least as of five years ago - bribery is alive and well there. I should be OK.]

Although they ply you with drinks (constantly) that are pretty much 'moonshine', any display of public drunkenness is 'taken personally' - you can lose friends and such over that. But at the same time, it seems they may want to 'get you drunk' for the experience. [Fortunately, for me, when I get drunk I seek bed rather than going out and yelling at inanimate objects. I do the yelling at inanimate objects when I'm sober just because I'm crazy.]

If a young punk comes up and talks shit to you, just walk away. He may have several friends lying in wait around the corner who are waiting to come and help beat you up. [Unless things really change for me when I'm there, I'm fortunately not the kind of person people are interested in beating up or talking shit to. I'm just the fat crippled guy. I'm hoping this is not a big problem and thinking it probably won't be for me.]

If you travel by a train, getting a first class ticket is worth it as otherwise you may be sandwiched in with people who may not like you. [With how much space I take up they may not like me anyway.]

Hitchhiking is safe. It is also a good way to meet people. Hitchhiking there is a culturally accepted thing. [Looking forward to it.]

Don't reveal how much money you have on you. [Always good advice.]

Couch surfing. [Chris encouraged me to look up information on couch surfing as it's a good way to meet up with people and get my feet wet in a foreign country. I'll have to check it out. Also, they may have other 'stay with a family' things. I'll check it out but honestly, my plan is to go to an area and look for people in coffee shops (not the ones actively looking for me) and ask them. But it could be another resource - I'm not sure how much internet I'll have in some of these countries.]

In Eastern Europe, traveling abroad is seen as an attempt to educate oneself and adventurous, not as being a vagabond.

The Romanians are a passionate people.

Speak softly there. [I'm fucked.]

If you are relaxed and take up a lot of space (ie spread out) it can be seen as arrogance. [Interesting.]

Sex tourism is pushed. [Also interesting but I have noticed that most of the 'you have violated a major cultural taboo' things in other countries involve women. I will be cautious.]

As a side note, he thought one of the most interesting countries he visited was Israel. [Due to the huge problems that you run into when you have an Israel stamp on your passport I don't know if I'll be hitting this country soon. All of their neighbors fucking hate them.]

And on a totally unrelated to travel note we did discuss that many relationships often are a 'human crutch'. I put this in only because I think it's a great turn of phrase Chris came up with.

In conclusion, I'd like to thank Chris for his interesting views on Romania. I look forward to getting there and checking it out.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It puts the lotion on its skin...

LOTION

This is a creepy video - an oldie but a... well, it's memorable.



AMERICAN CUSTOMS

I had checked on Facebook but not found great answers. Unfortunately, I had come up with most of this stuff myself and a few from another website. Here is my compiled list of American customs:

In America (especially people younger than 40) typically go by first names as opposed to last.

Americans are often thought (by other cultures) to be very blunt/direct.

Obesity. (I'm not fat, I'm following tradition, damn it!) America is famous for fast food - we've exported it all over the world as well... 63% of Americans qualify as obese! Apparently, 25% of all Americans eats fast food daily. Possibly several times a day.

Despite people in the middle ages learning about crop rotation, Americans like to raise one crop in the same place every year. We call it 'a lawn'. When I came back from Egypt years ago, this actually gave me culture shock.

Warfare (we call it 'police actions'). I suspect that this is to keep the military/arms manufacturers/special interest groups employed as much as anything else. It's only a theory.

Trivial suing. (I slipped on your walk because you didn't shove it, not because I was there in the first place uninvited on your walk). People not from America often ask me about it. It doesn't go on as often as the news would indicate that it does, but much more than any other culture would put up with.

Strange religious beliefs.

Movies/music/culture exporting. Here's a hint - if you find illegal/pirated movies in foreign countries, they are not from Bollywood (the Indian version of Hollywood) - they are always American. Arguably, culture is what America does best.

America is run by special interest groups as opposed to a single dictator.

I'm not sure if this is purely an American thing or just a fat thing. Because more Americans are obese than not, I've had plenty of opportunity to observe it. This only seems to happen with women. There seems to be a belief that spending more money on clothing, shoes, getting piercing and body art can make up for the fact that you're 40 kilos over weight. It doesn't (at all) but people seem to think it might. I've asked about it and was told "It's easier - duh!"

Many people (mostly women but an increasing number of men) also seem to be turning more to piercing, tattoos and other 'body art' in order to attempt to look 'differently unique'. This often fails as well and they become another person who has limited job openings as they often surpass the maximum number of visible piercings/visible tattoos one may have in order to secure a job that does not involve wearing a paper hat.

Automobiles: Americans have been 'in love with' the automobile since the 1950's or so. Pretty much everyone (aside from the very poor - like Logan) owns at least one. Many own several. This is part of the reason why American public transportation (compared to many other countries) is shit. Americans historically believe 'bigger is better' - only the current trend of gas companies gouging the shit out of Americans has caused this trend to slow down. Also, families that are at least middle class typically purchase for their sixteen year old (legal driving age in some places, eighteen in others) their first car. If the family is too poor, the youngster has to purchase their own car. The automobile is often seen as status, freedom and a way to get to work. Or get laid. Unlike other cultures (German, English) Americans like to do a multitude of other things while driving - text message, phone friends, drink, eat, apply makeup or all of these at the same time. This may account for the rather high rate of traffic accidents. Those without valid drivers licenses are seen as eccentrics as best, freaks at worse.

Followers. Many - but not all (by any stretch - remember, all Americans wish to be 'uniquely individual' even if that means conformity in a rigidly defined group) like to latch on to some figure to follow. This will usually be some person who advertises things like "a return to family values". Later, that same individual will be found drunk in a school zone, cheating on his wife and soliciting sex from minors. This will create a media storm and then the sheep will go out looking for a new 'moral compass' in which to place their faith and give their money. It seems to be a never ending cycle.

From Bert: " ‎"America" is a mish-mash of many different and divergent cultures. As much effort as the government has put into making us a unified "whole", it just isn't so. Customs by regions of America might be easier to do. In the south for instance, it is impolite to be direct. You take your time and be "neighborly". In the west (and in large cities) time is money and people tend to be shorter tempered, and more blunt."

Bert also reminded me of 'the speed at which things happen'. In Illinois, things happened very fast. In Virginia, the pace of life is MUCH slower. This can cause people to become quite...angry. Also, in America there is a sense of 'entitlement'. If you're poor, you will only feel you 'deserve' one car and two or so TV sets. Things like that may confuse foreigners who wonder why Americans live so far beyond their means. It is because they think they deserve to have the good stuff - regardless of what their pocketbook suggests.

Bert also found this interesting page.



SURPRISE BUTTSEX

Why do people keep saying 'Surprise buttsex?' Oh right - because it is funny.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Beware of pirates!

ROUTE

For those of you who haven't gone through all of these blogs, I wanted to give my initial route: London, Amsterdam, Munich, Prague then who knows where. What I'm expecting is: London (spend lots of $), Amsterdam (drugs and hookers), Munich (practice my German, see old stomping grounds), Prague (famous for dentists when I get there).




SILVER SELLING

Well, due to a very clever idea by TJ, I managed to sell my 2 OZ of silver that I'd found in my stuff. I have no idea where the hell it came from. Silver goes for (at the time of this writing) $35 per ounce. I sold it to a jeweler.



More fun than a stainless steel cock ring.



LIBYA

"Gadhafi...is now sending text messages to his supporters. He has promised 500 Libyan dinars (€287, or $396) to every family that supports him. People are standing in line to be paid their money. This is apparently the only idea the billionaire dictator still has: to buy back his control of Libya."



THOUGHT OF THE DAY

"Who discovered we could get milk from cows and what did he think he was doing at the time?" - Billy Connolly.



GREECE

A good article on Greece Pete pointed out.



GEORGIA

I came across an interesting article on Georgia (not the state, the country) in an unexpected place. I find it interesting that the foreign teachers make $300 per month - and that's double the local teachers... After reading the teacher (who got dismissed from the program) blog entry, I was thinking 'meh'. That lady has some challenges I don't. Although racism is something that should be part of the past, being black still puts you at a significant disadvantage in many countries for some reason. No, I am not planning on being a teacher over there - though if I end up doing it for a few months it wouldn't be a horrible shock to me.



DARK TOURISM

Found an article of interest to Pete. Given that I'm going to be spending money pretty fast (bad BPS, bad) no, I have no personal interest in this at this time. It might be something to do 'next time'. I did like the term 'dark tourism' I found in the article. That seems to be the term for things like concentration camps, etc.



INDIA

Talking to a couple of nice guys in the ole coffee shop about India. It doesn't seem there are any major land mines, culturally, for me. I realize in America I may (to some people) fall under the category of 'opinionated asshole'. I can't deny it. However, when I go to other countries, I like better to ask questions. I don't pretend to know everything about everything to do with a culture that I've never been to before. I realize that does take me out of the category of 'typical American tourist'. Sorry. Anyway, I was talking to to guys about India. They are from there so I figure they know what they're talking about. They told me some of the customs and such. Interesting things I gathered:

No toilet paper. Any time you get cultures that don't have toilet paper lying around, you get the cultural thing of 'wash your ass with your left hand'. Naturally, this means 'don't eat finger food with your dirty assed left hand'. They have it in many of the Arabic cultures and, apparently, in India as well.

Shoes in homes. I was cautioned about this. Unlike many American's, I do tend to notice giant piles of shoes just inside the door. If you see a giant pile of shoes, chances are good that taking off your own and adding them (temporarily) to the pile is probably a good thing.

Men holding hands. Ran into this one in Korea. When I was 18 and seeing it for the first time I thought that Korea must have a huge gay population. This is not the case. In that culture, as in India's, it doesn't mean anything. You're just 'holding hands'. Apparently it was only recently that homosexuality was decriminalized in India. I'm guessing homosexuals doing anything conspicuously so will probably get (at least) some verbal abuse. However, you can hold hands in public if you can't restrain yourselves.

No personal space. Again, ran into this one in Egypt. If you take both of your arms and extend them in front of your body then touch the tips of your fingers together, this (in America) is your personal space. Other penises entering within this space are not welcomed. Yours may growl at it. In Egypt, you could literally be belly to belly talking to someone. Combine this up with the problem of $100 being 'a lot of money' and pickpocketing and this is a possible issue in India. So, no personal space.

Conservative. Being invaded by conservative, prudish Brits seemed to have wiped a lot of the Kama Sutra type thinking out of the country. I regard this as a huge cultural loss for the Indians. Since the Brits got Indian cuisine, this puts them as the winner in this particular match.

Getting sucked in. This was by far the weirdest thing I was briefed on. Apparently, a lot of people become 'Indiaphiles'. People who begin to love India and all things Indian more than the natives. There are lots of investment bankers from New York city who go to India and get their head zapped. Things like meditation, culture shock, the Indian love of family and such create some sort of weird brain chemistry that just fucks these people up to where they stay forever for the cheap lodging/food/religion. I told Vighnesh that I was already insane so I wasn't at all worried about being driven insane by that kind of stuff.

Melting people. In the south, it gets over forty degrees Celsius. With over 100% humidity. For those still stuck in the archic system, that's over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Fucking hot. Avoid in the summer time or die of heat stroke hot. Northern India is not so hot in the summer.

Pale skin. People always want what they can't have and so pale skin is considered more attractive. Since I am very pale from a healthy computer glow and have so much skin, I will be like a big luminescent god there.

Holy cows. Cows not in India are not anyone's ancestor so it's OK to eat them. Interesting. Also, cow tipping and playing with the holy cows is NOT OK.

I find this kind of thing interesting.

I would like to thank Ankit and Vighnesh for taking the time to tell me a little about India.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Swords? Really?

SWORDS - NEVER OUT OF FASHION

According to the BBC in Egypt, "On Sunday, men in plain clothes armed with swords and petrol bombs confronted the pro-democracy activists..." "The army started firing in the air to disperse us," Mohammed Fahmy told Reuters news agency.

Apparently, the secret police in Egypt were just like the good ole KGB; "Activists who stormed the Cairo headquarters told the BBC they had found evidence of a parallel state structure that monitored all aspects of life in Egypt." and "Evidence of torture was also found..."



GREECE

It is rioting!

I was talking to a lawyer I met at the coffee shop the other day. He had mentioned that he thought the EU turned a very blind eye toward Greece's financial status when they were getting them into the EU. I'm not sure if this is true, but it now seems to be biting the EU in the butt. There are a lot of stories in Der Spiegel about the probable need to economically bail out Greece yet again and, simply put, nobody wants to pony up the money.

I'm not sure where I read it (sorry, flitting through articles) but 1 in 5 jobs in Greece and something like 15% of the GNP relies on tourism. This is a bigger percentage than I was reading about in Egypt. Much like Egypt, Greece seems to be enjoying riots of it's own. This in turn is causing it to get less money from tourism and hence have less to pay back their huge frigging debt. Which may cause the to get kicked out of the EU and go back to the Dracma (money).

I find this interesting. Unlike in the various 'world war' scenarios where nations (well, at least the politicians that ran them) were pissed at each other, in these cases (Greece, the Arabic world) the people seem to be pissed at the politicians. Nobody seems worried about a 'world war' but more so 'how will the government end up and will our government be able to exploit that?'



THE TOOTH

Yes, definate pain now. I'm concerned that it will be 'crippling pain' by the time I get to Czech Republic to get it pulled. Fortunately, they seem to have a lot of pain killer in beer form there. We'll see what happens but I suspect that it will be:

Jana: "Welcome to the Czech Republic!"
Logan: "Thanks. Where is the dentist?"

Actually, knowing me, it may be "Where the fuck is the dentist?" We'll see how much pain I'm in by the time I get there.

For the people who would ask "Did you check to see how much a dentist would be here in the states?" Yes - double or more. Sure, I'd like to have it done before I go but the extra couple hundred dollars is a real bummer. Right now, my jaw feels sort - like I got punched a week ago. Is there no help? Yes, help is around.



MORE IDIOCRACY

Today on the bus, I got to see a rather large (ie fat) woman teaching her rather large (ie fat) children a chant: "We go to Arbys! We go to Arbys!" For those who don't know, Arby's is another American fast food place (ie fat causing). Also, no, the English she was using isn't 'good English'. "We are going to Arby's" would have been better English, though still a bad thought. I know I am personally no stick figure but I'm thinking I'm going to 'get lapped' [(General Sporting Terms) (tr) to overtake (an opponent) in a race so as to be one or more circuits ahead]. Hence, if I keep my weight at it's present 'too much' amount, I will be considered thin in another few years.

This sort of thinking ("We go to Arby's!") from the same people that need instructions from automatic hand driers.

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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