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2004jun02. A little poison to wrap-up your day, courtesy the Salvation Army. [via glassdog]

2004jun02. Mail.

Looked at Deep Fried Arizona Pics. One caught my eye. the Marisco’s food stand.

My name is S. Marasco. I have seen a couple other spellings of my name, but never with the I. Can you put me in touch with these people. I would be curious of geneology.

Thank you.

So you want me to find the people ... who run a food stand ... that I took a picture of ... from a fair ... that ended months ago?

Why not kick it old school style with Switchboard and go Hazee-Fantazee with the sleuthing, is wot I say.

[switchboard URL provided]

There’s THIRTY-ONE FLAVORS of Mariscos in Arizona, pops. Dig that beautiful scene, your mutated genes have spread throughout this tragic, insane land. Porpoises flock to the gates, regretting nothing. [snaps fingers arrhythmically]

If that link doesn’t work for you, go to http://www.switchboard.com and then type in “Marisco’s” and “AZ” in the proper fields, hit return, and watch the magic. (ANSWER KEY: “Marisco” means “seafood”)

2004jun02. More on the Get it together, Hawaii, theme.

[1] Given an almost infinite namespace, let us pick the worst possible one. Oahu’s mass transit bus system is imaginatively called “The Bus.” Now, imagine you’re a tourist from another country, and you want to get a shuttle bus to your hotel which costs around $8 – $10, and your English is not that good. “I’d like to take the bus to my hotel, please.” Well step right on up to The Bus, my German friend.

[2] The following tourist amenities are available upon arrival at Honolulu International Airport. #1: A tourist hotline phone. You dial the number and get a busy signal. I’ve heard rumors that sometimes there’s an actual human being on the other end. #2: Various ad-laden guides to Oahu. This is always a bad scene, and a common one. You pick up one of these things, and all of the reviews read “I had dinner at Pepe’s Weasel Broth Nook and it was a life-changing experience that also ROKKED” and right in the next column is a four-color ad for Pepe’s Weasel Broth Nook. Of course, this is how all magazines work, but let us continue to be crabby. #3: The baggage-claim desk, where you can actually speak to a real, live human person who will answer questions but that’s not what they’re there for and this is HAWAII we’re talking about our nation’s premiere tropical destination you can’t drop someone behind a fuggin’ lectern who only really has to be there when the incoming flights arrive and it’s not like you’re dropping 300 people into Oahu every minute or so? #4: The shuttle bus hotline system. Two of the three phones don’t work and how many people need a shuttle to their hotels from your flight?

[3] So now you’re going to try to use The Bus to get to your hotel. You are at the airport. You go to the The Bus bus stop. There is a sign: “The Bus.” This is all the sign indicates. There is absolutely no information about routes available, times, bus numbers, a map, nothing, this is at the AIRPORT can anyone hear me over there HELLLLOOOOOOO? Okay. Yes, in various places in Southeast Asia excluding Japan, the transportation options weren’t actually glaringly obvious. But this The Bus thing, where 98% of the stops have no indication of anything except that it’s a bus stop, and 1% feature this thing, it’s like a map on a pole, it’s in the shape of a cylinder, because some dumbshit over in Oahu thought that centuries of mapmakers had their thumbs up their asses and what humanity really needed was a map of a very linear route displayed on a vertical (I’ve got this thing about vertical maps. I make tiny gleeful noises when I [rarely] run into a map that is presented horizontally) rotating cloudy circular plastic surface. It’s interactive! You can’t see the whole thing in one fell swoop, it possesses hidden elements of surprise! I'VE EVEN PUT LITTLE TINKLY BELLS IN IT SO THE RIDER IS SOOTHED WHILE FIGURING OUT HOW TO TRANSFER OR JUST WHAT IN THE FREAKING HELL OPTIONS HE OR SHE HAS OR DOES NOT HAVE The other 1% feature a smashed version of said thing, and good on them – I want the fetish The Bus Navigational Route Thing Smashfest DVD.

Of course there are beautiful The Bus route markers at the central mall.

I also applaud the drivers for not enforcing the heinous “no baggage” rule. If I can make my baggage fit in my own personal zone and I’m not pissing off any other passengers then let me ride in peace except if I’m sitting on the engine in back then me ride in peace with an extremely hot butt and I don’t mean sexy, that’s just a given.

“Man, there’s some totally fresh stuff going off at Cardhouse today! This guy went halfway around the world for a month or something, right? And now he’s complaining about mass transit. Fresh.”

2004jun02. While I’m incessantly talking about coco-nuts ... in the Bangkok airport, the international terminal gates are laid out in one long line. So if you want to, for example, competitively price small water bottles (because there are no big water bottles in the Bangkok airport), you have to troll up and down this fifty-mile stretch of airport property, one shop at a time. So I finally found two kiosks that were only marking up the water three times the average Bangkok price (instead of like the sushi stand, which was marking up the water nine times the average Bangkok price) and I purchased a lake’s worth ‘cause plane cabins are drier than the driest desert and that’s pretty dry (Travel tip #981f: When ordering drinks on a plane, order two or three ... I’ve only had one flight attendant stop short at the request, but I still got the order). While doing this at one store, I noticed they had plastic-wrapped coco-nuts. That were whole. That means they weren’t cut open. A light goes off, which means that it turns on, inside my head, figuratively.

“If I buy this coco-nut ... you'll open it for me?”
The uniformed woman behind the counter answers in the affirmative. I immediately drag out 80 Baht just for the pleasure of the next minute or so, and I’m not disappointed. She fishes behind the counter and pulls out a HUGE cleaver – the other clerks at the kiosk are amused by just how wide my eyes go at this point – and starts hacking the coco-nut open. Deft chops, five or six, then she grabs a straw for me and we’re done. Big knife action in a sterile poorly-designed international airport. Best coco-nut I’ve ever had.

2004jun02. Mail.

A local restaurant had the audacity to place walnuts in its quiche!

Now try to tell me if there are nuts in something if the accompanying placard is written in Japanese. I am back from my vacation. I put all my luggage locks on my keyring when checking in my bag in Honolulu for the second and last time. The reaction I got from various check-in staff around SE Asia when I asked them about their lock-breaking policy was delightful: “Break the locks ... on your property? We would never do that.” Yes. I guess that is sort of ridiculous.

In Hawaii the trend is to offer a smaller coco-nut on top of a styrofoam cup. The coco-nut is pierced all the way through, and a straw is inserted snug to the bottom of the styrofoam cup, and then you drink from the cup through the coco-nut. I somehow resisted tearing out my hair right there at the juice stand. This is so wrong. Give me a coco-nut, a straw, and a spoon. End. Of. Story. Get it together, Hawaii.

We went swimming on the North Shore of Oahu, at Pipeline where all the crazy surfers do their surf thing and I have new total respect for the surfers after just keeping it together for awhile in the ocean, swimming-wise whereas your modern day surfer has to do all of this and more with a big chunk of orange-peel-shaped fiberglass strapped to their ankle . And the colors of the water, or the light reflecting the water, or the bottom of the water, however that works, were just stunning and beautiful and I thought “Okay, I can die now.” Then, later on the plane, I thought “Okay, maybe not now. Car accident, down on the ground.”

2004jun03. I’m starting to sift through the ridiculous amount of photos I’ve taken in the various countries I am rumored to have visited. This one (seen on the side of a bus) I chased down and sat between polluting buses to capture, ‘cause it was so important.

One of who knows how many shots inside a Hong Kong supermarket.

2004jun03. While I was dodging two-stroke motorcycles in various overcrowded SE Asia cities, Dong Resin came back and scored a book deal so make sure you read the site, buy the book, read the book to the site, write the site in the book, then print the site in book form and make the two books fight.

Also perhaps you remember me whining about not being able to find a 36-color colored pencil for the trip. I got one, but it arrived a little too late for me to use. It was mailed from Canada, and somehow got from there, to here, crossing an international border, without postage. None. Try this with all your worldly packages. Imagine a world with totally free postage anywhere. Someone could send me an ice cream sundae everyday! What a delicious future, I’m glad to be a part of it.

When I was crossing international borders most of them (the very imaginary borders themselves) were absolutely shit-scared of anyone even mentioning the word SARS. So while you’re waiting in line in immigration, heat-sensing cameras scan you up and down and if you’re running a fever I guess the machine just loads a bullet and fires away. A few places had mass-sensing apparatus set up, and you could see yourself in the crowd of cool, yellow-colored blobs marching past the cameras. One guy from the UK got pulled out of the moving crowd and a woman smacked a small machine tool onto his forehead and was given the okay to proceed in about five seconds and he said “they singled me out because I’m from [the UK {here I can’t remember the exact term he used, let’s all get jet lag over and over again}].” Then because I like to ride the wave of dangerousness I started to take a photo and somehow all three women that were scanning the crowd – although their backs were to me – rose as a single unit and turned around yelling “NO PHOTO! NO PHOTO!” while pointing at the sign that said “NO PHOTO.” Then I got scared-feverish and a machine shot at me.

Part of the new anti-SARS preventive border thing is to hand out a health declaration card or maybe it’s old, it’s not like I’m a member of the jet set. I can’t remember which country it was, but one card offered around twelve different symptoms to check/not check – “are you currently ... feverish? dizzy?” etc, to the point where anyone with jet lag would probably have to check two or three boxes but no one with any symptom is going to check any box unless they’re dumb robots. “Yes, please ban me from your country because I have a cold. That would be most convenient. Don’t forget to tell the country I just came from, so I can be like that guy who lived in the airport for ten years.”

Finally, shouts and props out to Jakarta International Airport. I had to blow through there on a stopover, and I’m glad I did. Unlike every other airport I visited, I actually felt like I was in Jakarta. That retched Airport Modern style (you know, the one where you feel like you’re a tiny mouse in a maze being watched over by giant lab people) that’s infected airports worldwide was extremely subdued in Jakarta’s airport, just like the lighting. I don’t know if it was a conscious design decision, or they’re really itching to be like everyone else and just don’t have the time/money/etc, but now I’ve put Indonesia on the short list of future vacation destinations. I also had the help of an excellent transit clerk who made sure my bag made the jump from Narita to Jakarta to Singapore and followed up with me at the gate to reassure me that all was well.

2004jun04. Asakusa, Tokyo Japan.

The street right next to my ryokan in Asakusa had numerous stalls featuring numerous little trinkets. The schoolchildren swarms were especially thick here everyday, so you learned to take the vendor alleys to avoid the crush. This one above was from the cat souvenir shop. Some had themes, some did not.

A pachinko-riddled section of Asakusa featured a few of these standup photo-friendly cut-outs, and from the informational placards placed nearby, I am guessing that each of the characters now represented in this 2D medium was at one time a living, breathing person featured on this stretch of road. This fellow, for example, was the 666 Clown. Who needs more confirmation that clowns and devils are related? Not I.

Namco, for some reason, has a mechanical arcade game jones, which is allrighta by me. In this game, “Cool Gunman,” you and your opponent each have a light-gun and you use it to shoot flower-shaped pads on the playing field. These “pop,” and if you’ve shot one that the plastic can is resting on, the can will fly into the air. YOUR OBJECTIVE: Get the can into your neighbor’s goal.

I played it by myself and it was enjoyable. It’s a different sort of feeling. A feeling of accomplishment. “Yes, I was able to shoot the can into my opponent’s goal, even though I have no opponent.”

If my explanation was not clear, you can look at these informative graphics. There are always informative graphics in Japan. They will even appear on bars of chocolate, indicating exactly what ingredient was used to create what substrate. Information we here in America are never given.

This is a latter version of the Derby horse-racing game. There are small video cameras which provide feeds of the small, articulated horses rounding the track. AND THERE THEY GO!

The game actually “races” the horses even if no one’s put in any money, convenient for arcade-obsessed foreign amateur photographers. (see also Arcades in Japan which is this article fluffed out to five pages).

2004jun04. While searching for information on Cool Gunman, I came across a page of arcade games that includes a game called “Magical Truck Adventure” and from the looks of it you and a friend can pretend you’re on a railroad hand cart. I ... I.

2004jun04. Fun thing to find! I am looking for a small tatami mat. I got addicted to taking photos of small objects sitting on a tatami mat in my Ryokan in Tokyo, and using the mat as a background pleased me. Unfortunately, the great majority of tatami mats available start at about three by six feet in size, whereas I need something that’s maximum three feet by three feet, really two feet by two feet. I found a site offering a smaller mat but it’s front-loaded with an array of hurdles not the least of which is that they’re looking for business owners to sell n mats, not one guy buying one mat. Ryo-kahn. RYO-kahn. Reeee-oh-can. R-yo-can I just write it down?

2004jun04. More photos. Hawaii.

I AM FATHER DAMIENBOT BEEP BOOP

A tree.

Hibiscus. The state flower, although now the yellow variety is used because of the Red Dye #40 food coloring scare of 1968.

Anything corporate will plaster leis and hibiscus flowers on their products. The colonel of Kentucky FRIED Chicken, for example, sports a lei at at least one KFriedC outlet on Oahu. Hello Kitty, here represented in tile form at the Sanrio store, wears a hibiscus flower and several varieties of suntanned grass-skirted Hello Kitty dolls are for sale inside. These are what are called Corporate Whores.

After attacking the waves at Pipeline on the North Shore, we stopped in at the Shark’s Cove Grill and had some really great fish on skewers and what was called a “banana ‘protein’ shake.” Best food on the island that we had, although we did not eat all the food on the island. You would have read about that in the paper. Anyway, these flowers were there.

These flowers were not there.

“Dude, I totally got Melona!”
“Dude ... did you stay out in the sun too long?”
“Dude?”

And now, the sunset on our last day in Hawaii, bringing an exciting, exotic tropical end to my trip report.

Hahahah! Right. I’m going to milk this baby for another three months. Boy, are you going to be sick of me in Southeast Asia at the end of this nonsense ...

2004jun06. Travelling Sausage Kit via Everlasting Blort. It’s just horrible. “Oh der glut, I
forgotten to packen der shishkerweinerglöttenintestinalenwurststuffen-
shankkaseblüdBLAGDERDOFFERKAMENSTAGMEINERKRAPPEN-
SCHIKELGRUBERCANINENMITTELSHINKANSENGROBBEN-
ßATURATEDFATTENBURSTENSHISHGRÖTTENBONENGUTZENSCHZGRT-
TNBBZHSMACKSMACKSMACK”

2004jun06. I purchased an Ice Guy at the train station one day, thinking that because it was surrounded by other delicious ice cream bars that it also was a delicious ice cream bar. It was not. You open up the package, and there’s (of course) another package, containing a coffee/almond/whatever-tasting slushee drink. Perhaps that inner package looks a little ... familiar ... perhaps Coke’s lawyers are going to hand Ice Guy’s ass to Morinaga on a sterling silver plate. “Your ass, sir.”

2004jun07. So a few days ago I’m cruising through the internet’s premiere hide-all-useful-information high school classmate database website using, of course, a fake name and year and city. And someone who graduated from a school the next city over from mine (we used to call our town “Town” and the other town “Other Town” ... seriously) back in the ‘40s referred to himself using his first name, and his nickname, “Cappy.” Whatever happened to nicknames like that? Nicknames like Tugs, Sleet, and Cram? Ol’ Cram Johnson, what a character. He used to tape fireworks to Ol’ Sleety Sixpence and Ol’ Sleety would run through the gymnasium sparkin’ and an’ a-whistlin’ to report Ol’ Cram to Ol’ Toots MacFrenshendersham the hall monitor ... hee hee hee hurg HARLG HGGGGH OH GOD MY LIVER

2004jun07. Mail.

I am looking to order some Saltlakkris with the label, Trolla (two dots over the ‘o'). The label reads:
Saltlakkris
Trolla
Topas

Thanks for checking to see how I can purchase some of this salted licorice candy.

Thanks for not sending your email address, it makes my job – or non-job – much easier. Originally I wasn’t going to look for your precious salted licorice candy. Now, I’m not even going to do that. [sneers]

“Man, that was tight. But that sneer at the end, that seemed a little bit over-the-top.” Do people sneer much anymore? Or do you have to take a class?

2004jun07. Misterpants reminds me that the suitcases they sell in Japan are taller than they are wide – that is, the wheels go on one of the two smallest sides of the suitcase, unlike in the U.S. where they go on one of the two middlest sides (don’t make me sketch this, you know what I’m talking about. Okay, a suitcase has six sides. 1 & 2 are edges and the same size, 3 & 4 are edges and just a bit longer, and 5 & 6 are the meaty, succulent largest rectangular portions that would never have wheels on them because then you’d have a rolling table although that'd be pretty cool, if you had a remote-control for it) -- so if you decide to roll it the handle is higher up, and thus more comfortable to wrangle through boring empty inhumane international airports. But they cost a lot more. The suitcases.

2004jun07. Slate: Which carry-on bag is best?. Or actually, “Which carry-on bag is the best of the six I tested?” I have tested exactly two bags myself, and because these both were hellbeasts spawned from hell with hellfire dripping from them, I spent a lot of my pre-flight jailtime in nine international airports watching people use carry-on bags. Here are my conclusions which are below that follow.

1) FOUR WHEELS FOUR WHEELS FOUR WHEELS. Okay, that whole thing about dragging your bag behind you with one extended arm? It’s over. It’s done. Don’t do it. At the end of the day, your arm feels like it’s been pulled out of its socket. I know. The two bags I purchased both were of the pull-behind type, and I’m never using them again. The reviewer mentions one bag that has two additional “smaller” wheels, but you want four wheels of equal size, because what you’re going to be doing is rolling the case next to you. I’ve seen this in action – both in commercials and LIVE in airports -- it’s totally sweet and I was practically drooling. Work it ... work it ... oh yeah, it’s rolling so nice ... nicely ... So your four-wheeled rolling case should have a pull bar that is high enough that you can roll it next to you comfortably. Check this in the store, settle for not an inch less of the perfect height. The particular cases that I saw also enabled you to do the standard pulling thing in case you had to go on an escalator or roll it over a dead body, whatever.

2) Backpacks suck. I was watching all of you backpackers, especially in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. Some of you had backpacks that were taller than actual people. A lot of you had backpacks and frontpacks, so you were good and sweaty youbetcha. And I rolled right past you singing my little “I’m not wrenching my back” song in my head because I am polite for the most part. I started my trip out with an overloaded backpack and bailed within three days, purchasing an el-cheapo rollaway I christened “Mr. Shitty” from the only dealer in Macau not ready to bargain. Or was that Bangkok. Anyway, you can pack a small backpack in your rollaway for when you need to do day trips. Most of the world is paved now, you can quit pretending you’re scaling Mount Everest, Lord Shackleton.

3) Wide wheelbase. This is essential. The wheels (all four of ’em) should be at the outer edges of the bag, to keep it stable. I don’t know why some rollaways have wheels tucked in a bit, but these bags are unstable and psychotic. My bags were like this – the first time I didn’t know, the second time I didn’t have the option – and they rolled over so much from slightly uneven surfaces that I eventually had to create this awesome disco move where I didn’t fight the bag but continued to spin it around 360 degrees and continue down the street as if I meant to do the whole thing. It didn’t work anymore after I was loaded down with souvenirs in Hawaii, the bag just wrenched my arm off and so I’m sitting there with one arm trying to grab at my other arm lying on the street which is clutching my carry-on. Weak.

You'll also definitely want to do your homework and check what sizes your airline will permit for carry-on. Sometimes you can get away with something a little bit larger – they’re not really policing the situation – but various international airports are stricter. You'll always want to carry-on in the USA to keep your luggage out of the hands of our nation’s trusted baggage handlers who don’t steal anything out of bags at all anymore after the n various newschannel investigations into baggage pillaging around the country over the past m years, and all that non-theft isn’t any easier now that the TSA breaks locks on your checked luggage. Or it isn’t not any un-easier. It’s not ... un-not-less easier-anti.

2004jun08. A review of Bebida de Mango.

2004jun08. I’m catching up to all of my crucial web-reading this week. Sarah Jane again proves that sufferin’ = good writin'! Please for the love of God won’t someone give her a new solid home instead of this geocities/blogspot mess.

2004jun08. I don’t know. Reboot and try again.

2004jun08. Mail.

are these cigarettes real, or are they just a simulation made from candy??

really curious!!
please e-mail me

No, they’re real, all righty. That’s why the url is “..a/candy/candy.htm” ... because of how real they actually are, and totally not candy. You’re not voting this year, are you? Really curious!!

2004jun09. The INS, protecting us from intrusive reporters hell-bent on getting the real story from ONJ. Isolationist policies are rad.

2004jun09. In Ko Samui, there is a place you can visit and watch the monkeys pick coco-nuts. It’s much cheaper to get monkeys to do it than humans. For whatever reason, sometimes a monkey may throw a coco-nut at a person. I didn’t go to the show, I was very lazy in Ko Samui.

There used to be some sort of advertising message in the red area, but for some reason it was totally wiped out by the spray paint tool in an image-editing program. Enjoy.

2004jun09. Jewelboxing. For those of you who require excellence in jewel box design for your various projects. Jewelbox. Jewel box. Box. Box. Box.

2004jun09. Yesterday there was a column of ants trying to get in the house, or to some delicious sap, or I don’t know what, by climbing a support pole out on the porch. So I took some regular chalk and chalked all around the pole, about two inches worth, and the ants were stoppered. The ants above just kept on going up, but the ants below couldn’t go any farther, ‘cause ewwwwwww chalk. It was beautiful.

The next day they were at it again, up another post. So I chalked the two remaining posts. Now they’re going from the ground, then on the porch for awhile, then back to the ground. Stupid ants. But are ants really stupid? My conclusion: yes.

2004jun10. The Further Adventures of Scrooge The Cat.

2004jun10. This person does not like cicadas.

2004jun10. 10 Super Foods You Should NEVER Eat This reads more like Healthy Choice® Alternatives Which ROCK! But everyone knows every single offering from Healthy Choice (owned by ConAgra) tastes like ass with a side of ass.

2004jun10. Big Brother 2004. This is such horrific bullshit.

Subscribers to the DirecTV satellite TV service should know – but probably don’t – that every pay-per-view movie they order is reported to TIA as is any program they record using a TIVO recording system. If they order an adult film from any of DirecTV’s three SpiceTV channels, that information goes to TIA and is, as a matter of policy, forwarded to the Department of Justice’s special task force on pornography.
God, I feel safer already. Please protect me from the porno people.

2004jun11. Antique Mouse & Rat Traps [via consumptive]

2004jun11. Mail.

hi there im doing an essay about stress management and how it would affect performing artists. so i was hoping that you would be kind enough to help me out? so if you do know or have anything that maybe godd usse to me then please would you sent it thought to my e-mail address.
thank you very much

When I am on stage, performing directly under Mummenschanz, actually supporting their ridiculous top-heavy toilet-paper bodygear, sometimes the physical and mental stress is too much and find I myself screaming and screaming “AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!” “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” also “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!” The affect is turmoil, and the actors start running this way and that and the toilet paper is streaming from them and the audience thinks that it’s a part of the skit and they’re all laughing “Gelächter Gelächter Gelächter” and I am deeply ashamed because I know that I will have to sleep in the prop box again.

-- Huey Lewis

2004jun15. The movie The Terminal, based loosely on the life of Merhan Karimi Nasseri, will come out in theatres June 18th. I have no plans to see this film. Mysteriously, the associated website doesn’t seem to reference Nasseri at all.

“Executive Producer Andrew Niccol had the initial concept of a man who was detained at the airport and ended up living in the terminal. He developed the story with screenwriter Sacha Gervasi, who recalls, “I thought it was a brilliant place to start in creating a scenario that most people would never believe could actually happen.”
That is brilliant. [NYT (Sep 21 2003), Snopes (Sep 19 1999), Geektimes (Jul 14 1999)]

I spent approximately 50 hours in the air during the last month or so. I don’t want to think about how long I spent in international airports. In some international airports you get free little carts you can use to lean on if you have a raging blister on your widdle toe, like this one from Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong they also have members of the Hong Kong Tourist Authority who sit on the sidelines waiting for people who are way early for their flight, blisters or not, then they descend upon them and barrage them with questions. My interlocutor had not yet discovered dental floss and had this ultra-smooth way of returning to questions I fobbed off from ten pages previous:

“So you’re going to spending ten days in Japan and [flips back]
let’sreturnnowtoyourmealchoiceswhileyou’reinThailandwhatdoyouthinkyourdailymealbudgetwillbe?”
“I told you, I have no idea.”

I also didn’t tell him about my plans to rob a money exchange in Ko Samui. More on that tomorrow.

TUNE IN TOMORROW WHEN YOU'LL READ ABOUT MY EXCITING AND SEXY MONEY EXCHANGE HEIST IN THAILAND WHILE YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE WORKING!

2004jun16. WHERE THE HELL ARE MY KEYS?!??? [via waxy.org]

2004jun18. Koh Samui is a twelve-hour train ride plus a two-hour boat ride from Bangkok. I stayed there for three nights, and somewhere in the middle of my stay I realized I was running out of Baht. I gave one of the official bank-related money changers $60 USD, expecting about 2400 THB, as the exchange rate for the day was something just over 40:1. I got back more than 4200 THB. Although I’d never been that far off in my exchange calculations before, I figured I’d just go back to my bungalow and figure things out there – it was late at night, I was tired, that was a lot more money, etc. Sure enough, the receipt indicated that in addition to not asking me for my passport (a money exchange SOP), she gave me the GBP conversion rate instead of USD. It was late at night, I was tired, she was tired. The next day I was circumnavigating the island by grabbing songthaew after songthaew, stopping at various beaches, and the money exchange place was out of the way. I ended up back there around 24hrs later. I stopped just short of the window, off to the side about twenty feet, checking the current day’s rates v. yesterday’s, so I wouldn’t get screwed there. Someone walking nearby noticed me, said something to a group of people at a table and they all turned and stared and one woman got up and went down an alley by the building to sound the Criminal Mastermind Within 100 Foot Radius silent alarm. The clerk comes out, and there’s her manager. He smiles, I smile. We are all smiles. He’s holding the white copy, I have the pink copy. “Okay, let’s do this thing.” That was me, as if I needed to say that, or this. He writes down the GBP conversion from yesterday, the USD conversion it should have been, subtracts it, and there’s how much I’m to pay him. No big deal. But while I’m peeling off the bills, he starts asking questions, and maybe this is a cultural thing “Where were you yesterday?” Etc, questions that indicated to me he was wondering why I hadn’t returned immediately with the money, as if I used the extra ~$30 US for seed money to start a casino or something. Also questions about where I was staying, how long, etc, just to cover his ass in case I was pulling the wool over their eyes again. While we were chatting, I also phoned the guy up from the Hong Kong Tourist Board, handed the phone to him and they had a lot to talk about.

TUNE IN TOMORROW WHEN YOU'LL READ ABOUT MY EXCITING AND SEXY PHONECARD ENCOUNTER IN BANGKOK WHILE YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE IN A MEETING!

2004jun18. MOLAS!

2004jun19. They said it was impossible to have a pillow that was cool during the entire night. THEY WERE WRONG. The Chillow will take care of you. Don’t forget to purchase Mobile Chillow for the car, Couch Chillow, Mini Chillow, Chillow For Kids, Different Colors That Are Named After Fruits Chillow, Chillow Executive, Chillow Jr., Chillow Random Uncle, Chillow NASCAR, Tijuana Chillow, Clear Chillow, Shower Chillow, Chillow for Pets, Bird Chillow, Chillow For The Millions Of Americans Who Continue To Somehow Support The Hundreds If Not Thousands Of Corporations Out There Squeezing Millions Of Useless Products Out Their Respective ... Doors Everyday, Chillow MD, Pocket Chillow, Computer Chillow, Chillow Prozac, Chair Chillow, Extreme Chillow, Chillow Chillow, Chillow Repair Kit, Chillow Friend Finder Dot Com, Chillow Engraved License Plate Frame, Chillow Beer Cooler/Hat, Chillow Midwestern Lifestyle™, Chillow Sub-Atomic Scale Sub, Chillow Court-Appointed Attorney, Chillow Universal Harmony & Shoe Wax, Chillow Plastic Bag That Gets Caught In A Tree, Chillow .38, Chillow for Christians, Cheez-Flavored Chillow, Chillow Botany Flair!, Chillow 2005, Racing-Stripe Chillow, Chillow w/new E-Z Wide Open Pop Top Can For The Big Slam Into The Big Mouth, Chillow 4x4, Chillow Potato Chip Microwave Tray Clip-On Extension, Chillow A.M., Chillow Supreme, Chillow Cheese Curds, Chillow Pseudo Tribal Tattoo Stencil Set, Chillow Codpiece, Chillow: Murder On The Thames, Chillow Reconsidered, TV Snack Tray Chillow, Big Ending Here Chillow.

2004jun20. A woman returning to the U.S. from Mexico via cruise ship was hauled away in handcuffs and later put in leg shackles because of an already-paid year-old “leaving food outside” fine incurred in Yellowstone National Park.

Two things. Actually six.

1) I’ve said this before. I will say it again. Don’t go to Florida. Don’t visit, don’t live there, don’t send mail there. Just don’t.

2) “We were acting on what we believed was accurate information.” In other words, the handcuffs, the jail stay and the leg shackles were perfectly-matched punishment to accidentally leaving food outside in a national park. I think is sort of the kind of future more and more of us will be facing here in jolly ole’ America. It’s getting harder and harder to follow every single fricking rule every damned day and as more and more of these wonderful computers start talking to each other, the coffers of the prison-industrial system will grow and grow! And that’s good for the economy. Which is good for everyone, somehow. What’s it called? Trickle on the poor? I can’t remember.

3) Seriously, think about it awhile. I leave some food out ... I’m in leg shackles. Couldn’t possibly happen to me, I never leave food out.

4) Who wears short-shorts? Recently-released falsely-arrested S'more-bear-exposing federal-fine-inducing Wyomingites wear short-shorts.

5) How much did all of that hullabaloo cost? Jail time, adminstration, etc? My money is on fifty clams and one cent exactly.

6) This isn’t even a thought crime – it’s a BEAR THOUGHT CRIME. “There was the possibility of bears coming into contact with humans because you left hot chocolate and marshmallows outside. And this isn’t even about that – this is about your failure to pay the BTC.”
“BTC, sir?”
“Bear Thought Crime. You have been charged with the heinous crime of not paying the BTC. That is why you are in leg shackles.”

[link via doc]

2004jun21. So I’m in Bangkok, right? In a 7-11. They have them there. But unlike your American 7-11s, 7-11s in Southeast Asia are brutually efficient, because some of them have people coming in and out every twenty seconds all day (hint: the ones near busy transit-oriented seaports). The store is small, there’s two aisles (which are small), the door opens automatically (this is pretty much every door in Southeast Asia, actually – two glass doors that slide away either by your touch or by sensing your stinky sweaty touristy body) there’s no place to even turn around. So I’m in the 7-11 with my mouth open (Choose one: “AHHHHHHHHHHHH” “UHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” “DUHHHHHHHHH”), trying to figure out which phone card I should buy, even though there’s only one. In other countries, there are many, many phone cards, but in Thailand, it seems like everything has a “locality.” For instance, my ATM card only worked with two out of eight different banks, but I could only find those ATMs in one certain section of Bangkok completely out of my way. And thus it is the same with the phone cards. There are several international phone cards, but only one type is available in a certain area of Bangkok, etc. So I am staring at my one option, and they have a Baht per minute chart taped down on the counter. To call the US it cost nine Baht/minute, and the card held 300 Baht (300 Baht ~= 7.50 USD), so I would be able to use the phone for thirty-three minutes, approximately (it didn’t quite work out this way, there was some sort of round-off scheme in effect, which I should have suspected). There’s another guy there, also looking at the phone card. He’s from London. His Baht/minute is a bit higher – thirty-three Baht per minute. So he gets nine minutes on a 300 Baht phone card. He notices I’m looking at the same chart, and he says “I actually only want to make a five-minute phone call. So if you’re already going to buy the card ... ” and I dovetailed in and said “ ... then we could split the cost of the card.” Here’s where it gets funny. All of that math I just ran you through, it’s going to put you in good stead for the following exchange.

Him: “But I only want to make a five-minute phone call. It’s not like I’m going to use the card and then run away.”
Me (thinking “That’s exactly what you’re going to do”): “You’re going to need to put in at least 100 Baht.”
He turns his head without saying a word, then slowly backs out of the 7-11. Beautiful. I asked him to do the impossible: put down 100 Baht for a call that would have cost him, if it was indeed a five-minute call to London, 165 Baht. I think he was one of those professional living-in-a-cheap-country types that occasionally scared me while abroad with their haggard drugged-out looks. “Man, I’m beating the system!” Uh-huh. But you’re not beating me.

TUNE IN TOMORROW WHEN I SCAN SOME RANDOM TRIP PHOTOS AND MAKE INANE COMMENTS ABOUT THEM WHILE YOU CONTINUE TO PRETEND TO WORK ON THAT REPORT THING THAT’S DUE NEXT WEEK!

2004jun21. Fark Photoshoppe: Extreme Products That Shouldn’t Be Extreme. It just started, so maybe check in a few hours. Or tomorrow. I’ve already seen extreme water (dig that awesome, extreme photo) and extreme duck tape on the shelves of our nation’s fine retailers.

2004jun22. I was just outside. It’s around midnight here. I heard some noises as I was tightening a problematic water connection – it sounded like something chewing something else. I spent a minute trying to find the source of the sound with a flashlight – turns out it was five or six beetles chewing on an old dessicated mushroom. One of them bolted for cover after I turned the mushroom over and was only able to partially cover up, leaving his butt hanging out from under a leaf.

It’s not every day you hear insects eating.

2004jun23. The hummingbird feeder has been up for about three months. There have been no hummingbirds visiting. But the level of the liquid was slowly dropping. Then, one day, upon close inspection ... sitting inside the candy-apple-red liquid ... eighty or so swollen flying ants. They were all suspended as if they were standing on their hind legs ... something about the way their body weight is distributed. It’s one of the creepiest things I’ve seen in quite awhile. Mercifully, the girlfriend drained the liquid and got rid of the creepyants. A few days later, I’m outside and I hear this strange throaty engine noise. It’s a hummingbird, at the feeder. It pecks once at the feeder’s plastic flowers – makes a small chirping noise – pecks again – chirps again – and flies off. I am sorry, hummingbird.

2004jun24. VideoHound’s Independent Film Guide. Review, 35 Up.

There was pug-nosed Paul, and Tony who dreamed of being a disc jockey ...
Ummm, he wanted to be a jockey jockey. Horses. “Coming in at Number One, it’s ‘Mother’s Little Helper’ ... Number Two, ‘Paper Moon’ ... wait a second ... wait a second ... ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ has been scratched!”

2004jun25. This is a PDF from Continental’s internal “Monthly Operational Update,” a magazine for flight attendants. Airline Meals posts photos of airline meals as they are served (I took about ten photos of meals myself, when I remembered and my camera was at the ready and my fingernails weren’t dug into the armrests). The author points out the problems with the way the meals have been presented. When you compare this anal nit-picking with the blandness of most airline meals, the juxtaposition is high-larious.

EGGS SHOULD BE AT SIX O'CLOCK GOD IN HEAVEN WHAT ARE WE PAYING YOU PEOPLE FOR THIS ISN'T FUGGING MCDONALDS HERE ... JESUS THE NAPKIN LOGO SHOULD FACE THE CUSTOMER JUST IN CASE THEY'VE FORGOTTEN WHAT DAMNED AIRLINE THEY'RE FLYING FOR HALF A SECOND
The eggs should be at six o'clock. Meal uniformity may be the last line of civility to keep the passengers from rioting.

2004jun26. Stay Free: The Media Made Me Do It.

2004jun26. Let’s all be quiet and let the police state continue to roll right over us. Hey, it’s Choicepoint! Remember when the one rich guy who was supposed to lose actually threw the election, thanks partially to Choicepoint which scraped the Florida voter rolls?!!? Wow, same company! [link via doc]

2004jun27. Maakies: Small Things League. A beetle got into the bed last night and had the superpower of biting down on my crotch. That was some adventure, let me tell you. Whew. Is this thing still on?

2004jun28. Believer interview with Amy Sedaris (March 2004).

I never worked out the entire plot, but it’s more or less about a worm trying to figure out what kind of worm he is. So he goes on these adventures. Maybe he lives in a donkey’s ass for a night.

2004jun28. Mail.

i have a friend that i love and i would like to help him stop is there anything you can send me so his sister and i can help him see what he is doing to his body. thank you
becky

As my readers know, I’ve been involved with interventionismal efforts for many years now. My efforts to prevent people from doing the things that personally annoy me have been well-documented in this dynamic, relevant round-table point-counterpoint anonymous mud-slinging name-calling defenestrating forum. Becky’s poignant and thoughtfully carb-free email touched my heart, I guess. I’ve sent Becky a framed offset lithograph of The Three Tenors (Designer Choice “2”) by famed artist Leroy Neiman. I only hope I’m not too late.

2004jun28. Larry Hiibel on the recent “papers please” decision by the Supreme Court.

2004jun29. I try to avoid eating much sugar, to varying degrees of success. This whole new Sucralose/Splenda thing came at me from left field, because I don’t purchase much in the way of new products ... but this sort of fraudulence makes me ill. They’ll try to sneak this by, but Stevia, whoa no, that’s natural. Could be dangerous.