Thoughts on Pay Phones

As most of you know, I'm one of those stubborn holdouts that refuses to get a cell-phone*. This makes for some tricky planning in today's "I'll call you with the details 15 minutes beforehand" social culture, esp. when travelling. Because of this, I find myself using pay phones now and again, enough to start to notice a few things.

For one, finding a pay phone is hard. There are occasions where I've spent almost half an hour looking for the nearest pay phone. And presumably because of the reduced use, many of them are in disrepair. So even if you find one, there's no guarantee that it will work.

Secondly, you probably didn't notice, but the price of pay phones is no longer a quarter. Occasionally you see a $.35 one, but most of the pay phones these days are $.50 for local calls. Long distance, of course, is much higher. (And long distance is usually what I need because a person's phone number no longer relates to where they are, what with cellphones, etc.)

Pleasantly, though, I've found New York City to buck both of these trends. Public phones are plentiful and [mostly] functional and, to my utter surprise, only a quarter for local calls. In one of the most expensive cities in the world, who would have thought pay phones would be so cheap. As silly as this sounds, this little fact boosts my opinion of NY more than I should probably admit.     I <3 NY (pay phones!)
Friday October 29 2010File under: travel, USA

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Autumn in New York

If I was to ever write a list of 1001 things that someone should do or see before they die, one of the first things I would add is Autumn leaves in someplace like New England. In its peak and the right place, you are just surrounded by the beautiful colors. It's not often that I have this feeling of being so engulfed by such an incredible phenomenon.

Luckily, this trip has taken me exactly along the path of the changing season, it seems. It was in the parks and along the streets of Toronto. The drive from Toronto to Montreal was possibly the most epic I've ever seen...until the drive from Montreal to NYC. Now, as I meander around Manhattan and Brooklyn, while peak leaf-peeping has come and gone, there are still some truly awe-inspiring vistas.

Wednesday October 27 2010File under: travel, USA

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Flying Karamazov Brothers in NYC

Being in New York means seeing a show, right? Actually, let me rephrase that: being in New York means seeing a show.* And while I would go see the Flying Karamazov Brothers any time I could, seeing them on stage in New York was really a treat. To further sweeten the treat, I got to hang out with the gang before the show, watch them warm up, and even toss a few clubs around with them, all a real treat for a geek juggler like myself.

The new show at the Minetta Lane Theatre, which used to be called 4-Play but is now just called Flying Karamazov Brothers, was great. Lots of music, juggling, juggling while playing music, playing music through juggling, and some unexpected hilarious comedy. It's my hope that the show catches on and gets big not only so the group flourishes, but because the more people that see this hilarity the better. To that end, go see the show! It's reasonably priced, a totally great experience, and unlike anything else you'll see here in New York.

Also, it is worth pointing out that Steve and Amiel, who stood in for some travelling members of the group, did a spectacular job on stage. So not only did I get to see a great show, hang with the gang, and be inspired by some creative juggling, I got to see 2 friends hit the big time! Chalk one up for New York!
Sunday October 24 2010File under: juggling, travel

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Canadian Crosswalk Guy

Canada and the U.S. are pretty much the same, right? Well, there's that whole health care thing, and everything having to be written in both English and French, and the foreign policy thing, and well, almost everything governmental. But when it comes to actually being there, the similarities outweigh the difference.

Perhaps it is because of this that I find such incredible humor in a tiny little difference between the U.S. and Canada. I giggle every time I see the Canadian crosswalk guy. He just looks so awkward to me. When I try to explain to Canadians that never in a person's stride are both of their legs totally straight, they don't get it at all. Many U.S.-ians* don't either.

I guess it will have to remain my own little joke and will probably continue snapping pictures of the little guy whenever he really speaks to me...which is almost always.
Thursday October 21 2010File under: travel, Canada

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Careers 101 by Yours Truly

You never know what a day on the road will hold. Just last Friday, in Toronto, I got the chance to talk to a high school Careers class about my "career". Ha!

While I tried my best to tie stories about traveling, circusing, housesitting, etc. back to applicable information, making smart choices, and other "teachable" topics, after the kids warmed up to me, it turned into more of a Q&A with perhaps somewhat of a less teachable feel. I mean, the story of pooping in a cup in Guatemala can't have too much value in a Careers class, but it is a pretty good story.

Then, of course, it degenerated into a juggling demonstration. It's hard for me to say no to the request for a personal juggling show. The kids seemed to enjoy my impromptu mishmash of juggling tricks, although less so with the rope tricks. Oh well. Anyhoo, here's a brief clip of me throwing some balls up in the air. Hope you like it. (And if you want to book me to speak at your school, I come cheap!)


Sunday October 17 2010File under: travel, juggling

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FC 120 - Vandalism at Its Finest

Canada doesn't have intellectual property rights, right?* If so, I might be in trouble with this week's comic. I'm afraid that I stole it...I think. You tell me.

Here's the story: while out on a bike ride yesterday through Toronto*, I came across this bit of graffiti. I immediately assumed it was a pun and appropriately groaned. Then I started thinking about it; that concrete wall isn't a gateway. Perhaps the artist wasn't intending to make a pun but instead just social commentary. It was only when this doubt found its way into my head that I decided it was okay to comicize it.

If Maiden Canada decides to prosecute me for this crime of intellectual property rights, I figure I'll be long gone. After another day or two in Toronto and a couple days in Montreal, I'll be back where the people are decent* and we only sue about issues involving coffee being too hot or not hot enough.

Anyhoo, Happy Friday!*
Thursday October 14 2010File under: comic

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Musee Mecanique

On a post long, long ago, former* BdW reader Jenelle suggested that if i was ever in San Francisco, I should check out the Musee Mecanique. Well, since I found myself in SF with lots of time to kill, I did just that and boy was I glad I did.

Imagine a room chocked full of row after row of old-timey arcade machines. Love testers, strength testers, laughing creepy dolls, elaborate scenes where everything moves when you drop in your quarter, player pianos, mechanical games, stereographic slideshows, and on and on. There are a few nods to modernity, like some classic video games*, skee ball, air hockey, penny smashers galore, and one "game" where you grab onto these two metal posts and it progressively shocks you more and more until you let go. The more shock you can stand, the more points you get. Oy.

Located at Fisherman's Wharf, the Musee Mecanique is quite a treat. Admission is free, with the only money you spend being on playing the various games and novelties. The attendant, at least when I was there, cruised around on roller skates and was glad to show off his skillz at the various obscure games.
Tuesday October 12 2010File under: travel

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I Heart Craigslist Rideshare

I, for one, love craigslist rideshare. While it isn't always the most convienent way to travel, necessarily the most comfortable, or the surest travel bet in the book, the environmental perks, the cost savings, and the interesting people I meet make it my #1 choice for flexible travel.

To those of you who haven't experienced a ride via craigslist before, let me share a few tidbits fro my most recent ride. I caught a ride from Portland to Sacramento. While the train ride would have been 18 hours and $100, it only took us 9 hours and I paid $35. Not bad. The best party, however, was the peolple. Folks who are inclined to take a chance on a stranger are typically more interesting than most. In our [2-door honda civic], I met 3 good, interesting people; a hiker just coming off 4.5 months on the trail*, a world traveler who, conveniently, recently traveled to my next hopeful destination, and a no-traditional-job/lifestyle-for-me-thank-you-very-much free spirit. The great conversations made the miles just fly by.

The catch of the whole thing, however, is that I wasn't going to Sacramento. I had to cobble together transport from Sacramento into the Bay area, a task more expensive and difficult than you might think. But thanks to a couple helpful good people, I made it in time for juggle club at the Vulcan.

All in all, chalk it up as another positive craigslist rideshare experience!
Saturday October 9 2010File under: travel, transportation

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FC 119 - Lets Talk Plurals

Stop right there! Don't click on that panel yet! I must first add this disclaimer*: this comic isn't to present judgement. Sure stereotypes are played off of here, but it isn't meant to be mean. I say this esp. because I don't want Ma to drop the hammer for my portrayal of librarians, which some might find negative. Just as a murder of crows doesn't indicate that crows actually murder, I don't mean to imply anything at all about librarians.

But speaking of Ma, guess where the idea for this comic came from. Go ahead, guess. That's right. The shush of librarians was all her. She had another clever one about acedmics or something, but I forgot it, so I had to come up with the others. All in all, pretty dang witty, I'd say.

But boy was this comic hard to draw. It was like drawing 4 comics in one. Luckily I cut and paste one part, so that saved some time. But hopefully it is worth it. If it makes you laugh a little, it was. Happy Friday!
Friday October 8 2010File under: comic

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Oysterfest 2010

Jule, Katy, Kat, and Alex pose as geoduck harvesters
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Oysterfest* in Shelton, WA. What is Oysterfest? In short, it's a county fair-like atmosphere where everything is focused on oysters (and other food from the sea). In addition to the amazing food booths, there was live music, cooking demonstrations, requisite jugglers*, and the west coast oyster shucking championship.

The list of food we consumed is pretty epic, and I just have to share.
  • Grilled oysters (with garlic butter)
  • Bacon-wrapped oysters
  • Oyster curry on rice
  • Clam linguini
  • Clam steamers
  • Shrimp/crab cocktail
  • Oysters shooters (free, as they were the results of the oyster shucking contest)
  • Tempura fried coconut shrimp
  • Clam chowder
  • Five-alarm chili
  • Rootbeer float
  • Elephant ear
  • Raspberry pie ala mode
  • Some other dessert that is just escaping me

Yes we really ate all that. Yum! There was much more that we didn't get around to trying. There's always next year, though. If any (or all) of this sounds appetizing, you might want to make your way to Oysterfest next year.
Wednesday October 6 2010File under: food

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