Saturday, February 23, 2002
Yesterday, we started by ditching the guy in our group who was afraid to get taken for a ride by the millions of shopkeepers in Bejing. When you're travelling, or seeing new things, the only thing worse than having too many people in your party is being paired with someone who isn't willing to throw a couple Yuan down for a good time. This guy had to go.
You know this guy. He's everyone's friend, but he's just not too friendly. You know he's a nice enough person, but there's something about him that you can't put your finger on, but you know that it's there, and it makes you slightly uncomfortable. It is as if he's always acting, and he never quite draws the lead role. He's the guy that always asks what's going on, but he has to search for that person in the group who, out of kindness, will not let him fall out of the loop. The guy that's always got an anectdote to share with you, which is not funny and even more seldom apropos. You know who I am talking about, and if you can't pick him out from the group you're in at the current time, either you've done a good job excommunicating this fellow, or you're him.
Enter Dave. Dave is not this guy. He was on all of my flights over here, but he didn't meet up with me until we got through Canadian customs, for he was using me as a model of what to and what not to do up until this point. He grabbed me as I was walking back toward Burger king, where we had a smoke and chewed the fat about why we were going on this ridiculous excursion. He's probably the person I have met so far who has the most similar reasons for coming over: doesn't need a job currently, has some time to kill, and wants to do something a little out of the ordinary. Dave and I had quite a day yesterday.
After duping Mike from London into thinking we were going to do something fun, and instead, being willingly ripped off by the schysters at the planetarium, we put the tuckered little guy to bed and left for the Bejing Botanical Gardens. Our second foray into the heart of Bejing lead us to beleive that the gardens were through a gate manned by the fine folks of the People's Liberation Army. Passing through the gate, Dave and I encountered a pick-up soccer match, and the natives (cloaked in chef and waiter restaurant garb) were happy to invite us to play. We only kicked it around for about a half-hour before the reflux of baby chickens and squid that we bought at an outdoor market stopped us in our tracks. We submitted our resignations and went on, Wahaha water in one hand, DuMaurier cigarette in the other.
We couldn't get into the gardens without paying, so we turned down a separate street back toward the hotel, and upon exploring further, found a roller rink/disco hybrid. The last time I went roller skating must have been when I was about six years old, and as my memories are fond, Dave and I ventured in before realizing we didn't remember a thing about skating. This is the first time in China where I had not been the tallest person in the place. After I put my skates on, it was business as usual. When we got onto the floor, the music changed from Chinese to American hip-hop, and when we left, the next song was Chinese. The DJs were on point:
DJ #1: ROOK DJ #2! American!
DJ #2: DJ #1! Pump some DRE!
DJ #1: I play hot shit!
Even though we hit the floor many times, the throngs of Chinese teens were kind enough to help the only Americans in the place to their feet every time. We didn't lose anything by skipping the gardens after all.
As we came back, the guy (you know this guy) was gone. It turns out that he took an unsuspecting group of students to the university that all of us went to on Friday night, which by the way, has no admission charge and is frankly not one of the must see stops in Bejing. It's too bad we missed out.
7:15 PM . . .
Friday, February 22, 2002
I am in China. Blogger works. Hotmail works. AOL IM works.
I am fully connected to all my friends.
This trip is gonna be the shit.
5:49 AM . . .
Wednesday, February 20, 2002
The pictures are up!
Well, most of them, at least.
Oh yeah, and I am leaving today to go teach English to university students in China for five months.
12:45 PM . . .
Sunday, February 17, 2002
I need to work on the picture link pages for this blog. I might even be able to remove that annoying banner from the Geocities page! Someone said something about TOS violations, but I don't know what TOS stands for, and I don't really feel like looking, so I am just going to violate away. Oh yeah, and those guys that hooked me up, here are the stories:
Story One: When you are invited to places in China, it is customary to present gifts to the hosts (but these gifts can't be too expensive, otherwise the host is forced to offer his first born son), so I needed some American trinkets to bring over, because I think that I'll be a pretty popular guy over there. So I ask my dad if there's anywhere I can go to get something like this in bulk. He makes a call to Paul at (shameless plug) Port City Graphics, and I am immediately hooked up with 250 brass American flag pins and countless flag stickers. Paul and my dad know each other through Rotary. Sign me UP!
Hookup Value: $50 to $75 dollars
Story Two: When I was looking for that PC card yesterday (I need this PC card so I can get online when I am in China because I don't think the international telephone rates are that favorable at this point in time), I couldn't find one anywhere for under $120, I couldn't buy one online because I wanted to be absolutely sure that it worked with my computer (because I bought one for $180 before, and it's sitting in my freakin' laptop case since I don't have cardbus compatibility, which means just about dick to me). Anyway, the guy at Staples sent me to this random computer service/repair place and when I got there, they didn't have one either. So I am about to go give up, and I start whining to the stereotypical teen computer repair store kid about my predicament. In the back of my mind, I am thinking "Why don't I just leave this store. I came in, I asked if he had it, he doesn't have it, what am I doing . . . what else is there?" And just then, a bearded seraphim decends from the heavens, alights upon a shelf of CD-RW drives and says "My son, do not fear, for I am the light. Shall bestoweth both a 10BaseT ethernet card and a PCMCIA modem upon you for the low, low price of fifteen dollars each, if your soul be pure. Aside from offering spiritual purity, I E-bay. I hath received a great bounty of used PC cards from a failed dot-com." He gives me his number, and address, and I go to meet him at the gates of heaven. . Not only does he make sure that my cards are installed and working correctly, but he gives me a Windows 98 CD (I broke mine. I used to play frisbee with AOL CDs and one day, I guess I got a little carried away) and a broken 'parts card' that I could use to fix my modem if the jack on the other one ever broke. Turns out I was a counselor in his kids' day camps. Talk about serendipity, baby.
Hookup Value: Priceless (my credit card is maxxed out and I didn't have enough cash to buy the $120+ cards. My credit card's actually a Visa, but who am I to not use trite commercialism to get my point across?) + the cost of phone calls to my friends and family for the next five months
8:54 PM . . .
Saturday, February 16, 2002
Today I went in to Best Buy to buy a PCMCIA 10BaseT/Modem combo card for my laptop. There are good Best Buys around, but here are a few reasons why the one in the Maine Mall sucks:
Problem 1: Picture this. A typical pre-Christmas December Saturday, and there are lines at both ends of the store (one toward the parking lot, one entering the mall), each about 100 customers deep. There are six registers available for checking-out shoppers at either end of the store, and at any given time, there are only ten or so cashiers working. My brother and I were interested in buying a gift in the store, but not interested enough to stand in the lines. I overheard other people's conversations voicing my same sentiments.
Problem 2: Today, I walked right up to the computer guys' booth and there was no one available, so I go over to the camera guy's booth (he's free). I asked him if he knew where I would find the item in question, and he didn't know where it was. I go back over to the computer booth and I said that I just had a quick question (yes, I am one of those people, but I never ask for more than a direction or something real easy) and he shows me the area on his way back to help another customer. Turns out that there is no possible way to get from the parking lot to the camera booth without being hit in the face by swinging neon signs for PCMCIA 10BaseT/Modem combo cards (I know what you're thinking, but no. I went to the computer booth first, and then went to the camera booth, it's a different path). This would never happen at Home Depot (the dust bunnies at Home Depot can tell you which aisle the 3/4 inch mitre bits are in).
Problem 3: The layout of this store forces you to take one of two-hundered paths from the parking lot to the door, which I think sucks for the same reason that the store designers probably thought it was a great setup: you can't just go through the store to the mall, you have go through aisles of merchandise to get there. Now first of all, I don't think the floor plan designers really understand these consumers that well. Most people will not cast but casual glances at any of the items in the store. They just want to go to the mall. They are not interested in the new Dido CD, they do not need a Windows XP for Dummies book, they want a hat from LIDZ and "Oh Lordy, Look Who's Forty" merchandise from Spencer's. They are cutting the easiest path from the entrance to the mall entrance, plain and simple. They are losing these potential customers. Solution? ONE PATH. Filled with buzzers and bells and whistles and sirens going off and and a top 20 CD rack and huge TV screens with Playstation 2 and XBox Games being played and the latest blockbuster film releases on DVD and people selling digital PCS service from Sprint at the low price of $39.95 for 500 daytime minutes per month with unlimited nights and weekends. Everyone is at least somewhat interested in this stuff. You grab someone's attention in your store, and they will at least look around for a sec, and a quick survey of the store is better than a brisk, commited walk to the exit.
Of course, you may dismiss all of these as me bitching about bullshit, and by all means, please do, because that is pretty much what it is. Tomorrow I will tell you about how I got hooked up BIG TIME by two generous people I never met before.
3:45 PM . . .
Friday, February 15, 2002
All right. I have eight minutes to knock out a friday five . . .Think I can do it?
1. What was the first thing you ever cooked? Mac and Cheese from a box. I use more butter and a little less milk than is recommended on the box. I have perfected this skill. You can only really call this stuff "Cheese and Macaroni" if I whip it together.
2. What's your signature dish? Chicken Parmesan. A girl asked me to make it for her when she was visiting me in Maryland. My grandma had been the previous Chicken Parm expert in the family, she gave me the recipe, and I have funked it up good. I swear, you can hear someone shout "BAAAAM" from a distance when I am making this.
3. Ever had a cooking disaster? I burn stuff, but not often. One time, when I was mad blazed, yo, I forgot to put the seasoning in the Rice-A-Roni. My friends and I were tearin' through the San Francisco Treat for about five minutes before one of the guys brought it to our attention that it tasted like shit.
4. If skill and money were no object, what would make for your dream meal? I had this creamy chicken thing in Switzerland when my parents left us at ski school all day to ski the real mountains. All I remember is that it was the best thing I had ever tasted and I will never get to have it again.
5. What are you doing this weekend? Preparing for my trip to China.
8:52 PM . . .
Pretty tables go dancin' round Dreamweaver in my head; I wash my hair and I kid myself I code real smooth. Look over there . . . WHERE? Uhh, actually, your eyes don't deceive you, it's a new layout. Like it?
PS: I had to edit this post five times. It was only two frickin' sentences and I had to revise the piece of crap FIVE times. I proofread an eleven page document this morning twice and it was flawless, but a two sentence blog post gets five revisions. I am a bona fide retard.
PPS: Make it six.
8:25 PM . . .
Thursday, February 14, 2002
Today I had an EKG. That stands for Electro CardioGram. I asked the doctor why we called it an EKG instead of an ECG, as would be logical. She didn't know why, but she knew how to use it . . . supposedly. See below:
The first words out of her mouth were, "Huh . . . That's weird." "Huh . . . That's weird" is Doctorspeak for "What the fuck?"
When you hook a machine up to your heart, and in the ensuing readout, the graph of your rhythms shows a bunch of normal looking readings and then some wacked out readings that are literally off the charts (as pictured inside the red circles), and the doctor's immediate reaction is "huh that's weird," you can't feel all too pleased about how the old ticker is working. When she says "It's only the machine," and tries it again, and the readout looks the same, you start to worry. When she says "Maybe the connections are bad," changes the connection, tries it again, and the readout looks the same, you get scared. When she says "I know! Someone was playing with the voltage," and adjusts the voltage to the appropriate levels, tries it again, and the readout looks the same, you buy one of these. After not figuring out why the readings look like they do, she tells me that this is "Normal," and I shouldn't worry. OK, Miss Doctor. I'll just sit over here with my readout that looks more like it was taken on the San Andreas fault and chill out.
9:01 PM . . .
Wednesday, February 13, 2002
So I'm answering phones today at work, and I am paging all over the building for this person, and someone in the nurse's office tells me she's gone to her chiropractic appointment. So I get back on the phone and tell the person looking for her that she's gone to a chiropractic appointment and patch him through to voicemail. I immediately realize that, while not a major faux pas, this is too much information to give out. Example:
Caller: Yeah, hi. This is Bill Lumberg. Yeah, if you could just get Peter for me, that would be great.
Me: Sure, let me see if he's avaialble (Pause) Yeah, he's actually in the bathroom right now.
Caller: Um, Yeah well--
Me: You could wait. I mean, he's been in there a good half-hour, so he should be out any minute now. . .
9:11 AM . . .
Tuesday, February 12, 2002
Clicking on the "most recently updated blogs" on blogger doesn't really give you any worthwhile content. From this I learned a couple things:
1) The only thing worse than wearing the shirt of the band you are going to see is wearing the shirt of the blog that you write.
2) The best way to not feel rejected in High School is to make it a point to not be in attendance at any social functions.
3) Sometimes titles don't lie.
4) Blogging at 1:15 in the morning is an indication of having a social life.
Please pay no attention to the number below this line, it has no meaning.
10:20 PM . . .
Sunday, February 10, 2002
This is the idea: My four friends and I would film our lives and send in copies to one person, and in 20 years, we'd edit it into a neat little two and a half hour segment and market it. What do you think?
8:29 PM . . .
Saturday, February 09, 2002
Playa PLAYA! If ya wanna ball, deez da rules. "One of the biggest secret weapons is the hard candy 'Campino,' this can make a girl go crazy for ya in minutes." Let me tell you, Campino has saved me many a lonely night.
5:31 PM . . .
Friday, February 08, 2002
Last night, I was having dinner with my mother (as has become a Thursday night tradition in the last few months) and Leslie (one of my friends that I talk about; her picture will be up here shortly), and we got to talking about socially accepted behavior. Mom says that in fifty years, everyone will be thinking like her. That is all well and good, 'cause she's all about the love. Like just last night, she said that when she walks her dog, she talks to other dog people, and she occasionally converses with a dog couple, or triad.
The triad is composed of a husband, a wife, the husband's live-in male lover, and a college age girl . . . oh yeah, and Kali, the springer spaniel. My mom says that they are really just confused Labrador people, but I digress. Mom recounts all the interactions that she's ever had with any member of the triad and recalls there being "nothing but love in that house, and if there's nothing but love, they've got to be doing something right." On this, I agree. Where I see the problem lying is with people looking in from outside and judging. That judgment creates hate, and we all know that hate can spread just as fast as love can, because hate seems to find people with bullhorns in place of their mouths.
Now is this socially acceptable? No. But having to live to a socially acceptable standard means that kids miss camping trips.
When I was eight or ten or so, I went to a day camp on an island in Marblehead (it's Massachusetts' West Egg), and in the second week of camp, we had a camp-out. Let me tell you, I was so freakin excited for this camp-out I almost wet myself. I brought the permission slip home in my hot little hands and asked my grandma to sign it. She wouldn't. I flipped out.
I called my mom crying about how I wanted to go camping and she called my dad, my dad called his parents and they said "we don't have any sleeping bags." So my mom calls everyone she knows out on the Egg and rustles up two sleeping bags, calls the grandparents back, and tells them to fear not, the kids can sleep on the island. And the grandparents turn around and tell my mom that they really just didn't want out on the island for fear that we would misbehave. The result being shame brought upon them in the commnity (they belonged to all the best yacht and golf clubs) for having such rotten little terrors for grandchildren. It turns out that they DID have sleeping bags for us and they were just afraid that we would go out to the island and be KIDS.
I also let down Cooper's Sharks (that was the name of my camp group) by missing the 'Capture-The-Flag' championship. I was pissed then, but I forgive my grandparents and I love them. They grew up in a different time and lived by a different set of rules. In fifty years, I hope I am not governed by as antiquated a value structure as they were.
And.hey, if being a triad makes you happy, you go girl (guy, guy).
10:06 AM . . .
Wednesday, February 06, 2002
This stuff is gold. So today's post is gonna go like this . . . Quote from link-Comment, Quote from link-Comment. Here we go:
"A survey of 50 teen-age girls in Tokyo found that only one had yet to lose her virginity, and that was probably only because she was a second year junior high school student."
In a related story, Japan has stripped the United States of the title: "The land of opportunity."
"A friend told me if you scoop yourself out with a coffee spoon when you've finished you'll be safe. So I always carry a few disposable coffee spoons around with me," a 17-year-old girl says as she waves around one of her precious contraceptive utensils.
. . . because you saw what happened in China with the whole chopstick fiasco.
"Beaches are filled with germs and beach bums. My girlfriend and I hung out at the beach the past two summers and came home with the clap both times."
Here's a thought; maybe you should stop vacationing in New Jersey.
4:56 PM . . .
Tuesday, February 05, 2002
Yes, I gots a J-O-B. It's my first day on the job. This place is a Portland area hospice care facility for patients with advanced stages of HIV and AIDS. People pretty much go here to live out their last days, which is why I feel like I am going to be smote from the heavens for this post. The fact is, when you get gems like this, the show must go on. So I sit down to answer phones (which is what I do for $9.75 an hour, which is pretty sweet) and I flip on the computer, and this is the desktop image. Don't hate him 'cause he's beautiful.
3:34 PM . . .
Monday, February 04, 2002
I recently had this conversation with one of my friends over IM - Name changed to protect the guilty. Feminists, relax. Girls do this stuff, too.
Dude X : Well two girls since her and ice cream fuck
Blounp : Ice cream?
Dude X : That's what one of my friends called my fuck buddy
Dude X : Fuck buddy = no commitment, just sex
Blounp : Yeah, yeah, I know that part
Blounp : but what's the deal with the ice cream?
Dude X : We were shootin the shit about girls and I told him that if I felt like calling her (after I might have not responded to her calls for a while)
Dude X : I would call her up and say something like, "Wanna go get ice cream?"
Blounp : ha
Dude X : So it wasn't just like "Well, I haven't returned your calls in a month . . . wanna fuck?"
Dude X : So we got ice cream, went back to her place, fucked, and I left. That was it
Dude X : hence the term, Ice cream fuck
Blounp : Sa-mooothe, buddy
6:11 PM . . .
There are 5 houses in 5 different colors. In each house lives a person with a different nationality. These 5 owners drink a certain drink, smoke a certain brand of cigar, and keep a certain pet. No owners have the same pet, smoke the same brand of cigar or drink the same drink.
The question is: WHO OWNS THE FISH?
These are the hints given:
the Brit lives in the red house
the Swede keeps dogs as pets
the Dane drinks tea
the green house is on the left of the white house
the owner of the green house drinks coffee
the person who smokes Pall Mall rears birds
the owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill
the man living in the house right in the center drinks milk
the Norwegian lives in the first house
the man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats
the man who keeps horses lives next to the one who smokes Dunhill
the owner who smokes Bluemaster drinks beer
the German smokes Prince
the Norwegian lives next to the blue house
the man who smokes Blends has a neighbor who drinks water
Einstein said that 98% of the world could not figure it out. I don't think the 98% thing is accurate in this day and age, because my dad got it on the first try. I'm kidding, my dad is intelligent, but I doubt my mom could get it; it takes a certain way of thinking. If you have Excel, use that to do it. That's my first hint. If you get it, post a comment, but check your answer to make sure there are no contradictions before you look, because I posted the answer.
3:28 PM . . .
Sunday, February 03, 2002
The brews are cold, the cheese dip is hot, the friends are here, the comments are working. IT'S POST TIME!
3:18 PM . . .
Saturday, February 02, 2002
I never egged Sarah Coburn's house.
I was at this golf club in Maine ane the only reason why we were there was because my well-off friend had a membership there. We were only using the swimming pool. We went back into the locker room and cased the joint to see what kind of amenities this place had (sauna, hot tub, etc.) and it also had an indoor pool. So we were messing around in this indoor pool; mind you, we're the only ones there. We started jousting with those giant french-fry floatie things and throwing around the random pool toys they had. So as we're leaving this place, I pick up this playground ball, and my friend bets me that I can't hit the light above the far end of the pool with said ball. I'm thinking back to my fifth grade summer, when my friend hit a three-pointer from 30 yards with a tennis ball to take $25 off of me. There's no loss built in on my end, so I take the bet. Now I don't need to say what happens next, because I wouldn't be posting this crap if this was a random, uneventful missed shot, but regardless; I hit the light, it shatters on the side of the pool, no one sees us, we bolt and figure I won't get caught.
So at the end of the week, my rich friend with the golf club membership tells me that I'm busted. Sarah Coburn (one of the lifeguards at the club) is implicated in the ratting, and we get verification from other lifeguard girls she is indeed guilty of Yarmouth High School treason. The club sends me a bill for $1,500 (pool cleaning, maintenance, and fixture replacement) and I shit myself. After I clean up the mess I made, I gave the bill to my dad (who is the manager of an insurance firm in Portland) and hope it gets cleared. Here's the catch: that $1,500 hangs in the balance (and is just waiting to be subtracted from my balance) the whole summer.
From late June to August, several unexplained, unmotivated eggings of the Coburn house take place.
In September, Erica Rafford calls my house. She was a lifeguard at the club. She was the sister of a girl that we hung out with regularly. She was one of Sarah's friends. Erica calmly explained to my mother that I had been egging "her" (in quotes because she claimed that she was Sarah) house and that, yeaaaah, if she would please approach her son and ask that he cease all egging immediately, that would be great, yeaaah. So when I get home, she asks what all the hoopla is all about, and I let slip, before she says the name, it was probably "Sarah Coburn."
"Who?" She asks.
"Uhhh, Sara Coburn . . . Uhhh, I found out who reported me to management in the whole light incident this summer, and she probably thinks I have been egging her house."
"Oh," she says, "All right."
I never egged Sarah Coburn's house.
12:33 PM . . .
And the insurance covered it.
12:33 PM . . .
Oh yeah, and Weezie joined us. Look up.
4:53 AM . . .
The comments were working, but something messed them up; I'll fix them later. I'm off to Boston with my mom in ten. Tomorrow morning, Beantowners are going to wake up to find red paint all over everything, but I think the Pats Super Bowl win will ease their hearts a bit.
4:53 AM . . .