Sunday, December 30, 2007

Communism and Tits

I'm going to start completely off topic here and just outright tell you all that I bought the Canon 20mm f2.8 ultrasonic lens. Now stop touching yourself in naughty ways while you think about it and read the rest of my blog.
Marty and Deanna where kind enough to drive us all the way from Brussels, Belgium to Krefeld Germany. Angie and I were kind enough to sleep the whole way...giving them some "alone time". We're nice like that.

Krefeld ended up being incredibly dodgy, or at least the area around the car park was. We had fun finding a staircase out of the basement that wasn't inhabited by semi-dead heroin users and eventually made it to the street by walking back the way that we drove in. At street level we came to the conclusion (judging by the general populace and their vacant eyed state) that we had, in fact, arrived at the heart of the Zombie apocalypse. Later we would discover that they were just Russian immigrants...not all that different really.

Since we had arrived earlier than we had planned, we decided to take the opportunity to search out a restaurant for lunch. MoneyPenny (the onboard GPS system in the BMW) had informed us that there was a nice place just around the corner from where we parked. This was a complete lie and instead we got lost in a town with nothing open. Eventually we found something that resembled a restaurant, but when Marty stuck his head in to check he got stared down by a bunch of scary old German men who had clearly been drinking since 8am. We proceeded to the Cafe & Bar Celona (witty name) for Schnitzel.

A few hours later and it was 2pm, time to meet up with my German friends, Olaf and Vicky. We found their flat without too much trouble and I got a big happy German hug which, in no way, smelled like Sauerkraut as I expected it to. We were introduced then to another artist's apartment, similar to our friends in Finland, but substantially more 60's influenced (as they are both Mods) and with fun slippery wooden floors. Olaf showed us some fun tricks for sliding across the entire length of the hallway. I fell down.

After some catching up, Olaf and Vicky piled us into their car to head to the nearby city of Duisburg, a factory city with some sort of amusement factory light show thing.

Wait, I have to describe the "car." This vehicle, as Olaf described it, is more of a philosophy than a car. With only 29 horsepower, I can begin to understand where he was coming from. Driving on the Autobahn at it's top speed of 100km/hr it seems to float, more or less, in the general direction where you point it. This floating requires constant attention to a complex array of knobs, dials, and switches, which I imagine without care, could lead to a complete loss of control and certain death as the car is no bigger than the 4 passengers it maintains. There is also a panel of unmarked lights which sporadically flash and flutter as the car seems to make an attempt to communicate with its limited vocabulary. It's all rather like Flight of the Navigator...but much more terrifying.

Somehow Angie managed to peacefully sleep through this whole proceeding as though she was being craddled in the arms of safety. I had been on those suicide buses in the sub-continent of India where drivers enjoy a mortality rate approximately on par with military convoy drivers, and felt no fear. But in this vehicle, this French "thing" which was commissioned to "travel on French country roads with a backseat full of eggs and milk and not break either the product, or the driver's bank, kept me awake like a nose-full of speed.

It did, however, successfully bring us to our destination and, admittedly, it was well worth the risk. Duisburg has prematurely begun to preserve its history. Here, they have closed off an old steel factory and adorned it with all sorts and arrays of neon lights. It's kind of like being on the set of a Zombie movie shoot. Here's an example of what a Zombie movie might be like there...

video

You may notice that anything said in German sounds like a Zombie hungry for brains...

After watching the sun set from the top of the slag furnace, we headed off back to the suicide car. Somehow we got lost on the way though, and discovered a visage of that stereotypical Germany factory that we all know. Walking around at night, aided in some places with placards of old photos, we were really able to capture the feeling of working a shit factory job. For those of your who are metallurgists out there, be thankful that these poor slobs managed to prove that automated operation of a steel factory is more efficient that burning off the soles of your feet on hot slag.

A quick drive and we were back in Krefeld with the night still ahead of us. Olaf, Vicky, Angie, a new friend Jo, and myself all piled into a cab and booked it to a local rock bar. Here we learned the joys of various beers, musics, and local youth. I also discovered that walking into the sharp edge of a bathroom door will:
a) solicit a surprising amount of blood
b) promote the purchasing of free beer from the nice fellow who threw the door open into your face, and...
c) give you a concussion that will keep you bed ridden the next day.

I'm just hoping that it scars well enough that I will have a proper souvenir from this place.

Somehow, despite the head wound, heavy beer consumption (you will remember that beer is my enemy as it poisons me in ways that other alcohols cannot compare) Olaf and I managed to stay up until some ungodly hour on YouTube, laughing at the folly of those bamboozled by Sasha Cohen's gay Austrian Hairdressing character, Bruno. Oh, Bruno, those homophobes are such a neich neich.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Language Barriers and Gaps In Civility

Europe can be an expensive place to travel. This is especially true if you end up spending twice the time you anticipated...and neglected to bring your fake student ID (everything here is 30 - 50% off if you can prove you're a student...even food). Having generous family rent a car for 2 weeks to drive your around though, is substantially more economical. Here follows a road trip.

The drive there...and other places...and back:
Don't remember alot of it...as I slept through all the driving bit.

The locations!
Brugges, Belgium:
The first stop on a multi-day tour of the surrounding environ, Brugges proved to be the most beautiful location of the bunch (at least until we hit Bouillon on the way back from Paris...but I'll get to that).

We arrived just as the sun was gaining over the sea of red tile rooftops and made a direct line for the belfry of the nearest chapel. From our new vantage we watched the fog burn away and the beautifully preserved European heritage of Brugges slowly emerge. Behind us we appreciated the complex machinery that drove the massive clock and array of some 50 bells. The thought then struck us that, perhaps, the belfry wasn't the best place to "hang out" when said bells started to ring...we realised this at about noon, perhaps a little late; and so Brugges was enjoyed through a Cochlea shattering static for the remainder of the day.

Sometime after the static cleared (about when the sun started to set) we headed out for the infamous Brugges ice festival. I was feeling a bit skeptical about the event, since I assumed it was a just kiddie amusement park of carved ice monsters. Though this notion was quickly confirmed I finally came to realise that I'm just a kid at heart anyway. I honestly loved the Ice Festival, especially so when I discovered that the ice slide ended at the bar.

Aachen, Germany:
It was foretold that Aachen had the "most famous Christmas market in Germany" and so we packed ourselves into our tiny BMW with pockets anxiously bulging with Euros to spend. Unfortunately, thought it may have been the best in Germany, it fell well short of our expectations after having spent some evenings in Brussles market.

After a run through a museum that apparently boasted some clothes that Christ wore and stuff we headed off to find some wieners. Germany is famous for wieners, in case you didn't know. Anyway, we got to this wiener stand and ordered a Bratwurst (Brat Wiener) and asked if we could have some saurkraut (cabbage stuff to put on wieners) on our wieners. This upset the WienerMan and the following dialogue ensued:

Kaare&Marty: Um...do you have Saurkraut?
WienerMan: ...NO!
Kaare&Marty: Oh, um, like, we''ll pay extra for it...we just want some on our Bratwurst.
WienerMan(Nazi): No can have Saurkraut! Too cold! Maybe summer have HotDog Saurkrauten. Nein Saurkrauten!!!! *shakes wet hotdog from chaffing dish at us.
Kaare&Marty: *retreat.

Maybe we just went to the wrong wiener stand though. There's a good chance that we would have had more success at this one:

(wiener suit man)

Paris, France: So, embarrassing confession, it actually took the Eiffel Tower to really drive home that I was away from home. I had been trying so hard not to be a tourist that it really took the might of that ever-present tourism symbol to bring out the spirit of European romance for me. Of course, being on top of the tower looking down on the foggy city at night with no-one to romantically appreciate it with also made clear my distance from home. I guess I miss some people... We were fortunate enough to have an apartment from which we could drink wine, smoke French cigarettes and see the tower all night though, as it slowly desensitised us to "all that romance."

Paris though... Paris is.... Paris is WOW. That's the best I can do to describe it. Even in the dregs of winter it proved beautiful; and thanks to a recent campaign by the government, friendly as well. How could it not be though? The excesses that royalty took with this country promise that it will be breathtaking to even the most desensitised of backpackers and aristocrats. Versailles is big enough to house the entire population of Canada, the Louvre is big enough to house several Versailles, and the Parisian ego is big enough to swallow it all.

I love Paris.


Eventually though (and by that I mean last minute, Christmas Eve), we had to head back for Belgium. This wasn't particularly a sad thing, as we've all come to love Brussels, but it was a bit something to leave the City of Romance. At least our feet were appreciative of the break from all the walking.

On the way back though, Marty took us on a detour to Boullion, Belgium.

Boullion, Belgium:
Boullion stands on the border of France and Belgium, in the axis of three intersecting valleys. It was originally started as something of a military stronghold since all maurading parties would have to push through this basin to get past. In true medieval fashion, they built a big badass castle in the middle to maintain their position. This castle was so well built that it's still standing there today...relatively unscathed, even after being used as headquarters during WWII.

There wasn't alot in the way of adventure worthy activities here, especially considering that everything was shutting down for Christmas. The castle was still open though so we did get an opportunity to properly explore it. After a thorough tour I feel confident saying that "living in a castle would really, really suck" It's cold, it leaks, and if you screw around with the boss, there's a legit dungeon in the basement carved out of bedrock with only one way in, an 8m drop. Sucks to living in a castle.

...

Anyway, Christmas was great. Everyone who missed out on a European Christmas...well, I'm sure that yours was at least adequate.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Magic Stuff

Melancholy Emo Entry:
I feel that I've lost that Christmas spirit. But I suppose that we all do over time. The magic of St. Nicholas, the smell of PineScent© on your family's fake tree, bobbles; all exhausted symbols of your childhood. Really, what magic is there in this season anymore, especially for the atheist?

Brussels, Belgium, 2007 Entry:
Christmas ****in' RULES!

After walking into a cold, dark and desolate, cobblestone floored town square (Grand Place) we began to wonder if we had made the trip here in vain. Temperatures had now dipped below 0 Celsius and it seemed that things were shutting down. Perhaps that woman on the plane here had been correct about this city; a political miasma with nothing beautiful to offer. Fortunately, she was just a dumb broad and didn't know what the hell she was talking about...

From behind we heard a horse drawn carriage bumping over the cobblestones into the square. The whole group turned simultaneously, searching for it's source. A 20,000 Watt stereo system proved to be it, and the sounds emanating from it quickly transformed into an epic opera, so powerful that we nearly had to shout to hear one another. I suppose that we could have moved away from the speakers a bit to rectify this. But we were spellbound.

Suddenly the main tower of Grand Place began pulsing with light. Some 8 stories of pre-Victorian architecture, previously hidden in the shadows yielded its secrets. No less than a gajillion multi-coloured Christmas lights, projectors, spotlights and indoor lamps danced along with the haunting tones of classical opera (well, it was actually the opera from that scene in the 5th Element). A massive spruce, previously no more than a basic Christmas tree, joined in; its lights moving in such it way it began to resembled a massive, landlocked anemone. Angie was likely terrified by this.



Numb from the cold and smiling like an E-tard, We were entirely swept up in that old Christmas spirit.



I couldn't have hoped for more, but more came! We carried on, perhaps moving just to stay warm, perhaps drawn by the wafting scent of gluhwine (mulled wine), I'm not sure. Through the Christmas night market with friend's and family, past a five piece brass band of Santa Clauses, through alleys filled with the smell of waffles and fresh doughnuts, around skating rinks and escargot stands. This was a Christmas dream! Even the creepy carousel and inflated 45m long monster thing were magical (in a ghost of Christmas future, where dinosaurs come back, kind of way...).

Belgium has restored my faith in the holiday season. Not working a retail job this time has probably helped, too.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

An Ecercise in Sleep Deprevation

I apologise for the severe lack of bloggery over the last few weeks, but every time I tried to make an entry I would get about two paragraphs in and realise that I was either writing erotica or a Tom Clancy plot line. I think I'm past that now. Here's a back dated entry...

Ryan Air, the love of my life; yellow and cramped like an airborne discount bin overflowing with merchandise. Mismatched with the stumbling subtitles of all those European tongues. As cheap and as safe as a $0.25 hooker. You just get the job done.

After neglecting (actually, we've never obeyed it since its initial purchase) the alarm clock yet again, we woke up on the floor of Jessica and Jan's apartment for the last time...at 1:00pm. This wasn't particularly dire since, ever though our flight was in Tampere (a city over 2 hours away) we had until 10pm to get there. So, we spent the afternoon raiding our good hosts' friedge and reading from their ample comic book collection.

Eventually we gathered the energy to clean the kitchen, pack up, and go. We proceeded directly(with the utmost confidence) to the wrong tram line and quickly found ourselves lost, alone and in the dark. Not a problem though, as our trusty map directed us from one street (simply named, hutnikaaskylsanuomi (sp?)) to another and eventually to the train station. A cute Finnish girl even stopped to help us...they're just so friendly!

At the train station in Tampere, while in limbo for the transit to the airport, we had an encounter with an odd little troll-man. Ah, how authentic, I thought, those stories of Trolls and Gnomes my Scandinavian grandmother used to read me were not all fable! Soberingly though, he turned out to be a drunken American activist. This was difficult to discern at first, since, in an attempt to ask us where the RyanAir transit would stop, he used some combination of languages which we should henceforth refer to as Slavbalticfinicelandicgermanican (to expound that, "Slavic-Baltic-Finnish-Icelandic-Germanic-American-Tainttongue").

Apparently, he was some lifetime anarchist who never got the point (not even after he started to lose his hair) and fed-up with America's lack of desire to convert to a commune and that his home, New Orleans, got a bit wet, decided to move to Europe to work illegally. In a short period of time we comprised the story of his 2 years past as a European tour not better described than by the term "dodgy."

We spent the next few hours trying to avoid his bizzare attempts at conversation and were nearly successful when he caused a ruckus in airport security via a heated argument with a Russian model that he no doubt outed for looking "less than not slutty". Eventually we found our seats on the plane and I settled in to read a great book which I then would forget on the plane 3 hours later.

After disembarking from the plane, we hurried to beat the line to customs. In true British fashion though, customs was a good 3km from the plane and involved navigating a labyrinth of depressing corridors, elevators, and appropriate elevator musak. Following this, we were shuttled along an underground tram system that looked as though it was built around the model of so many nuclear testing facilities. Angie discovered that the seats were lined with something that felt like 1000s of hypodermic needles pointed upward.

About 30 minutes later we arrived at British Border Control, a place normally populated with vicious hose-beasts. This time, however, we were offered passage by a surprisingly nice (and even pretty, which is highly unusual for Britain) blonde, 20-something. Moments before approaching the gate though, our American "friend" caught up with us in the queue.

"Do I have to tell them you're lying to get ahead of me or what?" he offered.

I very nearly bludgeoned him to death with my Nalgene bottle, It was fortunate for him that a very proper British signpost cautioned against such things. God save the queen, for she saved this poor soul.

Now 2am Finnish time, or 12am UK time, and a long damn time past bed time either way, we scored return tickets to Oxford on a National Express Coach.

The goal: Hang out with my old flatmate from China, Nick.

The challenge: Try to sleep on a British coach for the next 4 hours.

The obstacles obstructing said goal: The deceptively torturous seats that adorn National Express Coach Lines. Picture a torture device where you have to balance you tail bone and associated anatomy on a crowsnest of rebar neatly presented as a "luxury" seat. Said "luxury" seat is also wrapped in something that resembles leather and promotes the same pooling of sweat about your bottom as would leather. Further details include a driver mumbling incoherently, in a Northerner accent, the names of each stop in a city you've never been to, nor have a map of.

By 4am, we had finally arrived in Oxford. This gave us ample time to kill, walking around the city, trying to find a doorway to curl up in a take a nap. In our delirious, sleep deprived state, we soon found ourselves lost somewhere between a castle and a river, neither of which we could sleep in. Fortunately we found a crackhead mumbling to himself to offer us directions.

Finally, after wandering around for an hour or so with 20kg of baggage each, we found our bus terminal again and collapsed under an overhang to wait out the opening of the nearest source of coffee.



...

At the point of originally writing this I had been up for about 20 hours. I would be up for another 17 after that before actually getting any sleep. Somewhere in there my friend's dad showed me a hand cranked pipe organ thingy that blew my friggin' mind. I also ate a Kebab.

...

Hm...my notes in my journal here on my lap say something about "Mario Testino" I think that he's a portrait photographer. Scope him out if you get a chance. I just did, and it was great.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Helsinki Journal Entry

Journal Entry;
Nov 20th, 2007,
Helsinki, Finland:


Dear The Horse,

I ate you.

The End.



-Kaare

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hungry, Hungry Hungarians

Backtrack to Nov 15th...

I woke up this morning to the stiffled tears of our Hungarian friend Anita. Her brother, Szabi, had gone off early to return in time for a lecture in Klaipeda and she didn't get a chance to say goodbye (no doubt this was a result of staying up until 6am drinking cheep beer in the reception lounge). She tried to tell me that she was just being emotional because of her hangover, but after spending the last few days with them I knew it was more than that.

Being siblings, they had always enjoyed their rivalries, but on this trip they had finally realised that they were perhaps closer to best-friends than just brother and sister. Inasmuch, she was devestated by his sudden departure.

...........................................................................

Last night, over Caipirinhas in a Cuban Raggae bar in Latvia, Angie and I were regaled with sincere invites to "...be housed in [their] home in Budapest, Hungary!" Once this invite was further illustrated to include details on how we would have to stay for "at least a week," be privately squired about the city on a historical (and judging by the tears in their eyes, emotionally patriotic) tour by the dramatic Szabi, and spend long nights watching movies and smoking Shisha in their appartment, we were ever more inclined to take advantage.


It would appear that we had met the most generous duo in Europe. Even if it had not been for their generosity though, I think we would have been tempted to further stalk them just for more samples of Szabi's flare with the English language. While Anita spent a number of years in California and speaks fluent American English, Szabi is still trudging his way through the language with a certain flourish unlike any other...

Example 1.
Szabi: "Is this fish rude?"
Angie: "No, but it is raw."
Szabi: "Ahhh, so this American here is raw!"
Kaare: "Rude, not raw, Szabi..."

Example 2.
* on the subject of musical covers...
Szabi: "Yes, and Tom Petty also sang that song Anal Sunshine"
Group: *silence...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Body Hair Update

Head:

I've finally decided to stop using soap in my hair. I'm on day 4 right now and I have to say, "ew". It's effin' disgusting and I don't think that those of Italian decent are genetically capable ... or allowed to do this. So I'm living by this credo:

Save a baby cow,
Use the grease on your head to butter your bread!

Delicious.

Beard:

Uncut for three weeks now, this is a new record for me. It's gross, and I have to wipe food out of it on a regular basis. I can't eat the local stroganoff because it's too soupy and it gets stuck for indefinite periods of time.

I have to comb it.

I'm a nordic hero.




Sunday, November 11, 2007

Zen & The Art of Stealing a Drum

Alright, so here's the blog that basically conclude's Angie's last entry.

As you well know, we spent the beginning of last night hanging out in our hostel dorm getting to know a Hungarian brother and sister named Anita and Sabi (his name is actually "Saboich"...but I don't want to commit to that spelling) and an Australian fellow named Shane. Our conversation had turned to something completely morbid and uterly disturbing about serial killers, properly commiting suicide, and a story about some American in the late 1800's that lured tourists to his "house of horrors" where he actually murdered them en masse with acid vats, lion dens, spike pits, etc (I have yet to find anything about this on the interweb)... It was about this point that we decided to go out for dinner (which in Eastern Europe always leads to ruthless intoxication).

We started off at some University bar, where the only table was amidst a huge crowd of students attending some sort of Lithu-African drum party. We were absolutely surrounded by thin, Eastern European girls gorging themselves on beer towers and fried bread, heavy browed Russian brutes delicately nibbling at salads and an entorage or obese Lithuanians dressed in gaudy African regalia beating an assortment of hand-drums. General absurdidty ensued, during which much beer was consumed, ample servings of nearly everything on the menu devoured, and the bill was eventually settled with no-ones tab being over $10.00CAN. Awesome.

It must have been that the group was some sort of student enthnic submersion project as there was an organised audience participation component where maracas (made of beer cans filled with rock salt...so Eastern European) and cheap Djembes were liberally distributed amongst the crowd.

Inevitably, we ended up with one such drum on our table, and after discovering that I'm an absolutely brilliant hand drummer it was well received that we should probably steal the drum. In fairness, I did voice a contrary moral opinion, but it was quickly shot down by the Hungarians. Fair enough, I now had a drum.

Out to the streets we headed, an air of confident possesion of our new instrument high on our faces. We pushed through crowds or writhing, drunk, horny college students without much contestion but at the door, one of the enormous, Soviet monsters guarding the door reached out in front of me. I pushed forward, confident that if I ignored him he wouldn't stop me...this drum was mine after all. There was a definite moment of tension with all participant theives and then, "BAM" the doorman just struck a beat on the drum and smiled. Well, what else to do but lay out a Djembe dance party?

We stepped out into the first snow we've seen this year and started a full out tribal dance / drum show which was liberally participated in by all the smokers freezing their asses off out front. Even the doormen started to move with the beat...though they looked rather like albino gorillas trying to avoid stepping on the cold ground. Well enough.

So here we were, 5 beautiful foreigners dancing off down the snow-covered cobblestone, hurling snowballs and stringing the random English adverts we passed into some semblence of a song: "megaSpeak Razr love time good good cozy bar sexy tan!"

And then back to that notorious bar, Ibysh, where we found our old friend Mantas and kept him stuck behind the bar until 6am. At one point Angie was leaned drunkenly over the bar taking uninvited photos of Mantas for a full 5 minutes. I've seen these photos...he was clearly not impressed, but then it was his fault for feeding her triple Camparis.

*stumble, stumble, stumble

1:30pm rolls around and we find ourselves in a rather rough state. Angie is still decidedly drunk, and the two Hungarians look like someone is routinely bouncing a hammer off their skulls...I however, came out unscathed from the whole ordeal and corralled us into a pancake Sunday "brunch".

Here we stayed, gorging ourselves on all sorts of crepes and deserts for a full 2 hours. Before we finally packed up for the day (at this point, about 4:30pm) Sabi made a point of stealing the absurdly small salt shaker.

Note of advice: Do not call Hungarians, "Gypsies" This is not a funny joke to them, and I very nearly lost two new friends over it. Let them take as they will, and never, ever call them Gypsies!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Poland Is a Liquor Store

Well, this is me, happily situated at my hostel computer with a beer the size of 2 newborn children...fat ones.

UPDATES:
My beard: glorious
My belly: full of kebab
The Weather: snowing
My Hair: greasy / unwashed
My Experiences Thus Far: heartbreaking at times, elevating at others
My Love Life: null
My Life: apart from the aforementioned "null" excellent

Things have been carrying on rather excellently of late and here is why:

I realise that my favourite part of traveling (other that meeting and learning from strange new individuals) is the hardships. For instance, today we arrived in Warsaw without a hostel booked. It was raining / snowing / sleeting all at once. Despising the Polish phone system (which is actually quite good) we decided to walk to the nearest...that's not true...cheapest hostel in the vicinity. It was full up except for a triple bunk room costing 55 zloty a night (about $22.50 Canadian); scoffing at this price after walking up 10 flights of stairs we headed out to Oki Doki Hostel in hopes of a room (here they were only 50 zloty...a steal!), but found that this was impossible as there was no vaccancy. We then had them book a hostel for us at Nathan's Villa, and conquoring our fear of the Gypies associated with this name, we packed up and walked another 3km there...only to pay 55 zloty each for the night anyway.

Awesome.

Following this, we met some "interesting individuals"; among these a PHD potential named Mike. Mike is American, weighs 210lbs, plays rugby, is covered in tattoos and speaks fluent Russian. He learned Russian so that he could become cozy with Eastern political refugees in order to interview them to collect data for his disertation on the migratory patterns and theories of political extremists. Mike is awesome. Also, during the several seconds it took to ascertain this profile of Mike, he drank no fewer than 32 tall-cans of extra strong Polish beer. We love Mike. He has a cute little sniffle and sounds nasaly.

We then found ourselves caught in the crossfire of a debate over where the best Kebab was in town. After 30 minutes of heated debate (including a break by one defendant to sample some cottage cheese) we learned that we simply had to cross the street.

At last we arrive moments before this blog, wherein we discussed the culture and Slavic/Baltic/Anglo/Germanic/Soviet history of Poland, at last learning how to pronounce, "Bydgoszcz," the city in which we had originally landed in to gain access to this country of Poland.

"y" is, in fact, a soft "i"; "d" is more or less pointless, "sz" is a hard "sh"; and "cz" is a hard "ch". In conclusion, we could have effectively saved ourselves alot of time by simply calling the place, "By Gosh!"

Saturday, November 3, 2007

D-D-D-Depeche Mode

To start (and this is really out of context, but I can't contain myself), there's an absynthe bar next door to this hostel from which I am blogging. 'Nuff said.

Back on topic though, when we head to Estonia in the next couple of weeks we'll be bunkering down in a city that's famous for...blah blah blah...I don't really give a shit. The important thing about Estonia is this:

It has a pub called Depeche Mode Baar.

I give, I don't care about any other part of Europe...all I want to do is fly straight to Estonia and spend a week getting polluted at Depeche Mode Baar. I know that you're probably reading this in silence, but SHUT UP FOR A SECOND...EVERY DRINK IN THIS BAR IS NAMED AFTER DEPECHE MODE SONGS AND...yes you guessed it...ALL THEY PLAY IS DEPECHE MODE!!!!!!!!!.

Canada is sooooooo gay compared to Depeche Mode Baar

*Angie and I fought over who got to blog about this...I let her take over for the actual experience blog...this is just a teaser.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Poland...wtf

So here we are...Poland. For some reason we deemed this to be the gateway to Eastern Europe and jumped the Extra-Foods coloured Ryanair jetline to get here. Granted it is a slight imporovement on the dreary dregs of England; where I realised that Wallace and Grommit was so accurate an approximation that visiting the place itself was almost superfluous.

Landing in Poland was at first beautiful (in no way un-aided by the bounty of super-model gorgeous women here) and then absolutely bloody terrifying. I won't go into much more detail as you will be able to read further on the landscape through Angie's blog.

Here's something that Angie skipped over though: Perogies.

Holy-good-goddamn, I don't understand how, in The Land of Starch & Delicious Lard these women manage to stay so fit. Granted the men seem to succumb to it once over the age of 25, but the women...goddamn.

Enough of this though. I'm going to go figure out how to operate a Karta Telephonyczana.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reflections

I've spent the last few days in London pondering the value and purpose of travel. I think, now having sleepily meditated on the subject on the bus to Stansted, that travel is much like looking for love. Inasmuch, I find myself reflecting on past travels and what I discovered in them, I remember now that I started my career of travel by approaching places which I knew nothing of, and therein had no preconceived notions of. I used to leave the travel guides closed until I arrived.

But yes, travel is much like searching for love; you never really know where or with whom you will find it, yet you search. So, I keep launching myself from town to town, country to country in the hopes that I will discover something I love, something that will change me, add to me.

...

London is not one of these places.

SNAKBITE!

dear blogspopt
SNAKEBITE!
1/2 pint cider (maybe strongbow...i dunno)
1/2 pint ale (something nasty... india Pale Ale works)
1 shot creme de cassis
fit this magic into a pint glass (or 10) and swallow
=
you win!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Oct 28th ... Early ... GMT

In any other culture the man across from me would be revered as a god.

I watch him manage his meal, a morsel to him. His hands engulf it, and with the patience of the Old Testament's 7 days creation, he guilds plastic fork and plastic knife through roast beef.. I am brought to think of the mechanics of his joints; forged no doubt, in the depths of Gaia, herself. I picture these bones operating deep within as he stares down on the fat American a row ahead.

"Your decadence is the oil greasing the gears of poverty, " he booms, now casually munching on his under-seat life jacket.

He yawns, stretching like some colossal cat-deity and I stifle myself, nearly yelling, "stop!"; for a moment I feared the chance that, at 30 000" cruising altitude he had the opportunity to punch through the fuselage, the sky, the fabric of space and strangle the moon for so casually accepting the praise of so many pagan women. Perhaps he loins have grown restless. No herd of women could hope to sate his nethers.

But instead he reaches down, removes a leather bound book from below his seat and glides pen on paper in this journal the size of all my luggage for the next two years. Pages fly by. The header, "Day 20" has disappeared some hours ago. Left handed, he pours over these that will become the manuscripts of future worshippers.

Day 20, 11:15 ...
The Gospel of the Travelling Avatar.

End, Day 1

Friday, October 19, 2007

Working Fast

there's a count down counting out my last days here
it's clicking and notching it's way forward
stripping off the threads behind it
leaving only the shaky words,
"In the morning this will all be gone..."

and I tell you these as though it will be some bandage
over the wound left after the hook in your heart
pulls taught the string strung to my jetplane window
seat 18a, economy
with optional emergency exit back to you
should i so choose
to pull the latch
leave the oxygen mask
and jump

but my fears compound
and the ground that accommodates my
impact
smacks me back to reality
knowing that
were i revived
were the doctors to put the pieces of me back together
they'd find
when they put that stethoscope to my chest
nothing but static
just the crackle and fuzz
of a robot's heart gone wrong

like if the the tin man ate
the lion ate
the scarecrow
ate the mystery behind our fantasy
and left us wondering where we came from in the first place
with nowhere to go

just the crackle and fuzz and die
my bits splattered flat on the asphalt...

or

your whole heart pulled clean out of your ribcage...
this choice
I made,
and yeah it hurts
but you and i know damn well,
"In the morning this will all be gone..."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

First Poem in a Year?

oh, these early morning people
bright eyed
unnaturally alert
we watch them walk
into the sunrise
which paints around them
that golden aura
oh, their edges glow
hot metal
molten still from the plasma torch
as though God just cut them
fresh from the block
and joints still stiff
one leg at least
in that frozen

sleepy

...rigamortis

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

nerdcore blog

This is the story of a two column layout, one fixed width, one width:auto. This is the story of how IE6's 3px jog around floating elements nearly killed me. This is the the story about how I defeated it.

Nerdcore.

Here's the basic HTML of my layout:

header
leftcol
content

(sorry about the lack of html there, blogger kept rendering the divs)

And here's the basic CSS (before the fix):

#header {
margin:0px;
padding:10px;
}
#leftcol {
width:180px;
float:left;
padding:0px;
}
#content {
width:auto;
padding:0px;
padding-left:180px;
}


Pretty standard...and not at all an issue in any browser by IE6, because of that damned 3px jog effect around floating elements. With fixed width elements it's not a problem to apply little fixes like margin-whatever:-3px; etc... but we have an auto width element here that's causing headaches.

So here's a solution.

Pretty simple really.

I changed the float on the left hand column to this:

#leftcol {
width:180px;
position:absolute:
top:auto;
left:0px;
}


I didn't think that it would work since the absolute positioned element is kind of outta the DOM, but apparently the variable height of the header will control the top position of the absolute element. Since the leftcol isn't "floating" anymore, IE^ no longer renders the 3px jog.

Sweet!

Friday, August 10, 2007

My Goodness

I've created this account now and just neglected it like my neighbor's insolent children while they're away on vacation and I'm supposed to be babysitting.

I guess eventually I'll just end up backlogging all of my other journals' blogs in here to bulk up.

Please subscribe to my RSS. I promise good times ahead.