On the Way to the Blue Mosque

A funny thing happened on the way to the Blue Mosque...

Istanbul is a city full of mosques, many of them very very beautiful. I set out yesterday with the aim of making it to the Blue Mosque, one of the most famous. Being that it is one of the most famous mosques [in the world], I figured it must be the biggest one I see on the horizon so set off in that direction.

Once I arrived, after gawking at the spectacular innards, I realize that this isn't the famed Blue Mosque. Oh well. It's a wonderful sight I might not have visited otherwise, so I can't be mad. Instead, I take a gander around at the surrounding hills and spot the next most magnificent mosque on the horizon and set off on foot towards it.

Navigating by landmark in the distance in Istanbul leads to some less than traveled roads and paths, which is partially why I do it*. So while this second mosque also wasn't the Blue Mosque, not only was it again totally worth seeing, but it led me to some great out of the way places*.

Finally, I made it to the Blue Mosque, but so late that I couldn't visit the interior. But that's okay. Now that I know where it is, I will go back. Mosques are like cathedrals in Europe or temples in SE Asia—while they are all totally spectacular, seeing too many in a row can cause one's eyes to glaze over. So perhaps saving the Famed Blue Mosque for another day is what the universe's plan was all along.
Tuesday March 22 2011File under: travel, Turkey

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NYC Whittling

It feels like I've passed through New York City quite a few times in the last couple years. If I had to guess, it'd be about 5. In that time, I've slowly ticked items off the list of NYC activities. But it's a big city and it seems like my to do list grows despite my slow whittling.

While visiting wonderful friends is always highest my highest priority, I always seem to have enough time to throw a few other activities in the mix. This time around, I found a spare hour to ride the oft-touted Staten Island Ferry*. The highlight was a closer than expected view of the Statue of Liberty.

Another activity that was on my list for quite a while and am so glad to finally check off was a visit to Dube, Inc. juggling store. Over the years, I've bought more than a few props from them, all by mail order, and it was neat to simply be surrounded by props.

It was a low-key couple days in the big city, but wonderful nonetheless. Thanks to the friends that made it great, and thanks to the city itself for continually showing me something new (like these yummy donuts made with mashed potato dough from Wonder City Donuts!).
Sunday March 20 2011File under: travel, USA

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FC 138 - Remember Me...

Perhaps this comic is a day late. And perhaps even it is a dollar short. But either way, it is what it is and the concept makes me laugh, esp. as I saw people roaming around Penn Station in New York City dressed all in green with that "I'm going to go so drunk I can't even tweet" look in their eyes. Oh to be young and stupid...*

As per usual, this comic isn't meant to offend. I'm not trying to put down saints or Irish or hospitals or checkered floors. It's just a kooky idea that found it's way into my head that I decided to make into a comic.

Much to some of your relief, this will be the last Friday Comic for a while. It was a stretch even to get this one out (hence the late posting hour). But hopefully the lack of comics means more good stuff on the blog and more adventure for yours truly. But rest assured, once I'm back on American soil, Friday Comics will be back with me. If you need a Friday fix, check out the archives or maybe even go buy a copy of the book!
Friday March 18 2011File under: comic

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Happy Pi Day 2011

Of all the things I shouldn't be doing right now, baking a pie is right up on the list. I should be packing and preparing to leave town for a couple months; laundry, bank, post office, charging batteries, downloading podcasts, cleaning, etc. But I just can't help it.

Today, you see, is Pi Day (previously covered here and here). It being one of my favorite holidays, I had to drop everything and make a pie. Now I have to drop everything and eat said pie. (Perhaps now you are starting to see why it is one of my favorite holidays).

I hope your Pi Day is 3.14 times as exciting as you hoped!
Monday March 14 2011File under: holidays, food

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FC 137 - Ode to Portland

I'm constantly learning new things about making comics. One area I still have a lot to learn is the framing of a scene. I start out with the background, then the people, and lastly, add in the speech bubbles. Often times, however, the speech bubble(s) cover a background element that I spent a lot of time on (or I thought was a neat addition). Case in point, the window/painting* -- I did some nice color fades in the water and the sunset, drew a nice boat, etc. etc. but it all got covered up. I could change font sizes or stretch the canvas, but I guess I'll just let it slide, and chalk it up to a lesson learned.

Anyhoo, I tip my hat to Andrew for the idea behind this week's comic. I tried to get him to draw it, but he wouldn't agree to making it appropriate (specifically he was non-committal as to whether the drawing would have bare butts in it). I hope this ass-less version lives up to Andrew's standards and garners a chuckle or two with ya'll. Happy Friday!
Thursday March 10 2011File under: comic

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Warehouse Erection


I just can't help posting this picture larger than normal in all its glory. For one, notice that small chunk of blue in the upper right corner? Well, that's the sky! Feeling the sun on my shoulder while working outdoors on a project that I am truly stoked on is nigh on perfect (esp. after a couple months of rain and being indoors).

"What is this project?" you ask. This is the long awaited warehouse at the Quarry. Slated to be a practice/occasional performance/warm dry space, this represents a huge step ahead in the mission of creating an arts-oriented, livable-in, festival/perfomance-available, all-around awesome place. (I think the mission statement is worded slightly differently in the official literature.)

While I still plan to continue to post about the interesting/fun goings on at the quarry (esp. if I happen to be there to participate), if you want even more quarry updates, you can "like" us, or become our "friend", or whatever on our page over at that all-knowing facebook*. Or you could just these: 1, 2
Tuesday March 8 2011File under: quarry

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FC 136 - Sexiness Is Relative

Having spent the last 2 weeks hanging out with a dog, a number of dog related comic ideas found their way into my mind. This one is the one I chose for this week. Unfortunately, it isn't autobiographical. The poop scooping part, yes. As for the hot blonde acknowledging my responsibleness,, not so much. Alas. Maybe dog ownership isn't for me.

My other dog comic idea was too good to be true, so I looked it up thinking maybe someone else had done it. Oh, it's be done, that's for sure. I'll need to do some investigation to see if the way I was thinking of doing it is different enough to not be intellectual property rights infringement. If it is, there might be another dog comic on the way!

Either way, Happy Friday!!
Thursday March 3 2011File under: comic

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Thoughts on Making Amtrak Better

I've long been a fanboy of Amtrak. The slow pace and great scenery suit my travel style. In the media, there always seems to be some buzz on train travel, why it's not used more, how to improve it, and, lately, why high speed rail is the answer. After having my train to Montana cancelled yesterday (see Convenience below), I started thinking about what can be done to Amtrak better. I came up with 3 main categories which I see needing to be addressed to make this government-owned corporation a truly viable travel option.

Price: Amtrak isn't cheap. In many cases, it is more expensive than flying. The price structure is not simple, either. Different times of day cost more, prices go up closer to travel date, some discounts can only be applied x number of days before hand, etc. If ticket prices were lowered and/or the price model was simplified, this would definitely encourage more ridership which could help streamline things and lead to higher revenues.

Convenience: On this, Amtrak actually rates pretty well. Strong positive points come from the wonderful comfort afforded by rail travel (ability to walk around, dining cars, lots of leg room, etc.), less intrusive security, and more conveniently located stations. Points against include limited schedules (only leaving certain towns in the middle of the night) and extremely poor reliability* (for example: for the past 4 weeks, the train from Sacramento to Denver has been, on average, almost 1.5 hours late, one time being 12 hours late and another 7). Addressing this reliability issue isn't simple because of the ownership structure of the rails, but it is worth it in the long term for all the potential gains, not only in reliability but also as a way to address cost.

Speed: To spend 48 hours to travel what would take 3.5 to fly (Seattle to Chicago) is kind of a big deal. For those who have that kind of time, it can be great, but that doesn't describe a very large portion of the population. To broaden it's market, Amtrak could introduce faster trains (as proposed by the Obama administration), more direct routes, or find other time saving measures.

(My personal thoughts on high-speed rail: *)

I want to see Amtrak become a more feasible option for travel, but for that to happen, I see at least one of these three things needing to change. Faster trains at the same price and convenience, cheaper prices at the same speed and convenience, or more convenient trains at the same price and speed. (My vote is for optimizing cost, as it is the great equalizer, but that's just me. I am kind of a penny pincher.)
Wednesday March 2 2011File under: transportation

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The Great Egg Off

Every time I get into a discussion regarding the keeping of chickens*, it inevitably comes up that "farm fresh eggs taste better". I love eggs and would eat them every morning if the fear of cholesterol wasn't instilled me at a very early age, but I've never really been able to notice a difference in taste. Recently, at my current housesitting gig in Portland, I was presented with a perfect opportunity to find out for sure. I call it the Great Egg Off.

The concept: three eggs (one from Ginger, one from Olive, and one from Trader Joe's), three tastings, a few observations along the way, and one final champion.

Observations:
GingerOliveTrader Joe's
• Hardest shell*
• Darkest, thickest yolk
• Quite small
• Super strong inner membrane on the shell
Least tasty
• Watery albumen
• Weird shape
• Weak, thin shell
• Biggest by far (although smallest yolk)
Second tastiest
• About what you'd expect from any store bought egg (not super yellow yolk, not super hard shell, not super big or small)
Tastiest

Surprisingly, the store bought egg wins the tastiness contest (although just barely edging out Olive)*. But that doesn't mean I'm sold on store bought eggs. The piece of mind of knowing that the eggs came from my own back yard, that I know what the chickens ate and how they were treated, is enough for me to choose farm fresh every time.

Sunday February 27 2011File under: food

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FC 135 - Overreaction is at Least an Action

All they've been able to talk about on the news is the storm that's blowing in, how commutes are going to be crazy, and to tune in for the latest school closures, etc. Well, the "storm" arrived today and there was some snow. And then about an hour later, it melted. But that was enough to cancel school, work, and put chains on the public buses. While out walking the dog, I saw a couple of school kids playing basketball in short sleeves. I'm not saying Portland is full of a bunch of wussies, but....

Anyway, it all got me thinking about how different places react differently to weather. In Wisconsin, a couple inches of snow doesn't even rate a call to the superintendent, I bet. In, say, Portland, merely the mention of snow in the forecast pretty much seals the deal.

Anyway, if you don't think this comic is funny*, I hope you can at least find humor in this mass overreaction to snow that so characterizes unaccustomed places. Because that's what I was going for.
Thursday February 24 2011File under: comic

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