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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

BEHOLD, BUTTER!

DETAIL RESEARCH: SOUTH AFRICA

Before spending over $1200 for flights into and out of South Africa & Pals, I'm doing more research.

Need to be sure I don't get caught up in 'something sucktastic'.  Again.

South African cities that look like they don't suck for pricing:

Durban - plenty of stuff, around 8 eur for dorm bed on up.
Port Elizabeth - good
Kimberly - not listed in h/h
Upington - not listed in h/h
Cape Town - fine
Pretoria - so so - not a lot to see there but there are a couple places and it seems close to NERO South Africa.

Note - avoid Johannesburg, South Africa - does NOT look nice at all in the description on wikitravel.



LONG TERM RENTAL TRICKS:  HOTEL

At some point, attempt to discretely tip the cleaning staff.
"Money?  Either he is a very good guest or attempting to lure us both into his room."

If you think by giving it to the main desk it will somehow magically find its way into the pockets of the cleaning staff, I'm going to label you a tad bit idealistic.  Besides, if you do that, it misses all of the psychological advantages to directly gifting it.

The amount does not need to be a lot, a couple bucks will do.  The initial tip may be the only time you give it to them.

For those who don't know how to tip, you do it before the service.  How people in the USA got into the habit of tipping afterward is a mystery of the clueless.  Seriously - try it out some time.  You know about what your bill will be.  When the waiter/waitress/robot/mutant/other greets you say "Hey, I know our bill is going to be about $40.  "I'm just going to give you your $8 (or whatever) now instead of later.  Thanks for what I'm sure will be a satisfactory evening."  I've known a lot of people who have worked in the horrible food service industry and I don't think any of them would throw the money back in your face and say "To hell with that, I don't want it till after the meal!"  They will take it and know they're not going to be (as they say in the USA) 'stiffed'.   But Logan, how will you know you will get service worth tipping?  Try this method and see if the general level of your service doesn't increase a bit.  Oh but what if it comes out to 18% instead of 20%?  It's a tip - not required - not written in any rule book.  Just give them what you want at the start with that explanation and things will go smoothly.

Getting back to the house cleaners, near the beginning of your stay you should identify who actually does the cleaning.  Out of sight of the front desk, slip them a couple bucks.  If the front desk finds out, they may demand the money from the unfortunates.  Really, this does happen in some places.  Don't ask the front desk about it, never mention it.

Here's the odd thing.  In the countries I stay ('developing') this really doesn't get you any better service.  Weird, I know.  What it does buy you is just a bit of 'good will'.

This good will can pay off in unexpected, unasked for dividends later.

And they will remember you.  How many people do you think actually take the time to acknowledge them - much less tip them?

Probably just you.

So for under $3-$5, totally worth it if you are staying two weeks or longer.  If you go away and come back, do they remember you?  Hell yes they do.

This also works with pretty much anyone who isn't the manager.  After a couple days in the hotel, figure out who you interact with regularly and try to make their lives a bit more cheery.  It's cheap and it makes you feel better.  Aside from the money part.  But better overall.



HOSPITAL STORIES

While I was at the hospital, a screaming kid was brought in.  He had a good 7 cm open wound in the middle of his forehead.  As with all head wounds, it bled like a bitch.

After the kid got patched up, I was talking with an older female member of his family.  "I hope he's OK.  After he gets his scar he can always tell the other kids at school he is Harry Potter."

After she realized who Harry Potter was, she, the rest of the family and the kid cheered up considerably.  It seemed to be very good news for the dazed kid.

I didn't tell him he'd have to fight Voldemort later.

I'd decided to go in to the hospital earlier to have a check on my foot to make sure nothing was broken in there.  Limping around sucks, plus I wasn't able to run.  Not that I would classify myself as a world class sprinter but in 'my line of work' being able to sprint about three meters to the other side of the street can often determine whether 'life' continues to be on my agenda.

For seeing the doctor it was seven denar and another twenty three for the xrays.  Thirty denar is a bit under seventeen US dollars.  Not sure how much it would have cost to pull up to the emergency room and get in and out service within an hour but guessing it would be more.

Nothing was broken.  Better safe than sorry.

Sadly, the doctor got a look at my legs and freaked out a bit.  She is convinced that every time my edema hits (imagine your legs swelling up a bit) then I'm going to have this rather nasty skin rash/disease/pox.  She told me I'd need penicillin every two weeks for the rest of my life.  I started laughing and said I couldn't keep track of two weeks.  Heck, I was lucky to take my medicine daily.

She also wants me to take some days off my foot and just rest.  Again, this doesn't work out because if I don't walk around for a couple hours every day the body wide arthritis torments the shit out of me.  I assured her aside from my 'constitutionals' I'd spend the rest of the time on my fat ass.

She was not pleased.

Of course, the hospital stocked nothing in the way of medicine so I was sent out to a pharmacy.  The doctors didn't think the mention all of the nearby pharmacies shut down from noon till three.

Why do they shut down?  Fuck you, that's why.

Yeah.

With the single-mindedness of an MMO quester and five pharmacies later I'd only found one actually open and  no they didn't carry penicillin.  They tried to send me to a pharmacy that was closed but I was on to their evil tricks.

Tomorrow I will go get the shot in my ass.  The penicillin.  Only that.  You dirty wretches.

Of course, the doctor did slip in some other medicine that actually cost more than the appointment with x-rays so I'll eat through that for the next ten days and see if anything happens other than being out twenty or thirty bucks.



BEHOLD, BUTTER!

Normally, I am not one of those desperate sad people ("I am eating at McDonald's, yum yum!") who talk about their individual meals.

However, this one was so bad - yet good - and very indicative of Tunisian food.

The German speaking waiter convinced me against my better judgement to eat a meal at the hotel.  There are a couple reasons I don't eat at the hotel and the inflated cost is one.

"Only 10 dinars!"  That's under $6 and within my tight ass budget.  ("We're getting ready for the big push!"  Note for this to be an effective quote, you have to have seen the ancient movie "Lawrence of Arabia".)

He brought me out some ignorable bread but oddly, two small packets of butter.

It's been months since I've eaten any butter.  Really.

Four packets of butter, 6 pieces of indifferent bread, one cooked chicken that was warm in the extremities and icy inside making me wonder what the fuck they did to it (not eaten) and some soggy greasy fries later I was done eating.

The little packets of butter were seriously the best part of the whole fucking meal.



TUNISIAN TOOTHPASTE

Never have I, in the heat of passion decided to flip some lucky girl over for a rim job.  Hence, I've never 'eaten ass'.

But Tunisian toothpaste tastes how I've always thought ass might.



TABLETOP RPG IDEA

Oddly, this came to me in a dream.  Thought I would set it down in case anyone else wanted to use it and possibly to remind myself later.  And for the copyright!  Lo, the copyright!  It's all mine.  Send me money.

Anyway, back when I was running tabletop gaming, they had the Dreamlands (Call of Cthulhu RPG).  They had always bothered me a bit because a dream doesn't work quite like that.

Unknown to me, my subconscious had been working on the problem.

The GM makes a deck of cards, writing on blank three by fives.  The cards will include such things as gear, setting, NPC's names, etc.  These cards can be as detailed or general as they wish.  You could even have one which says 'setting' or something more detailed such as 'forest grove' or mega detailed such as 'red quarter of Karnath'.

Each sitting player gets three cards.  The GM deals out three cards (more if they are feeling frisky) and builds his scene with those elements within.

For example:  The GM is doing a fairly standard scene involving an angry troll and the players wanting to cross his bridge.  On both sides of the bridge are thick forest and in the distance the objective of the players, the Dungeon of Doom.  The cards the GM has picked are 'birds', 'horse', 'ballista'.  The GM could describe a horse firing birds with it's ballista, or have the birds turn out to actually be small flying ballista.  The bridge is in the shape of a horse.  This brings in the dreamlike elements.

If the GM brings something up (not the players, nor the players tricking the GM into it) the players can make a card of the thing or place and add it to the current cards in the GM's 'pot'.  In addition, the players can attempt to add one of their own cards to the pot.

Eventually, the GM will announce a scene change.  Each player has the option of either taking a card out of the middle to become one of their three (discard extras) or asking the GM to 'keep that element in'.

Example:  The players had been making friends with the troll and one of the players wrote 'Hruk the bridge troll' on a card and placed it in the GM's pot during the scene on the bridge.  When the GM announced "You guys find yourself in front of the Dungeon of Doom", one of the players announced he wishes to keep the card of 'Hruk the bridge troll'.

Now, the GM could choose to make Hurk flee back to his bridge, join the party, become enraged and attack the party or do something else odd.

By adding in these cards, dream like elements can be added to the game.  The players have a little bit of control (as do some of the more skilled dreamers of real life) but by sticking together (always a problem in RPG's) they can exert more control over the dream.

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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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