FC 31 - War

Because of the huge positive response (and wealth of material on the subject), I present you another entry in the MS Paint Paper Scissors Rock* collection (MSPPSR #1 and #2). Present is pretty much all I get to do with this comic, because unlike other comics where I've at least had a hand in conceiving, coloring, or captioning, this one is all Annie. She not only artistically crafted this one pixel by pixel, but also came up with the idea for it. When I was visiting her recently, she joked about possibly starting her own comic series to rival mine. (At least I hope she was joking.)
Friday May 9 2008File under: comic

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Rejected Photos Slideshow

I took a bunch of photos on my latest little adventure. Some of the good ones made it into pertinent blog posts. Others, due to theme, quality, or time restraint, never made the cut. Well, here's their big chance! I've compiled all the good-but-not-good-enough photos into this fancy slideshow*. So if you are looking to kill some time, click here and enjoy.

There are 72 photos in the slideshow, so it might take a second or two to load up. I figure if my old laptop can handle it, your's should have no problem.

Oh, and it should be noted that not all the photos are mine. I stole–er, I mean reused a few photos from I Heart Jonahbees and Sir Maxalot, so there might be repeats for those of you that read those blogs*. I also snatched a picture or two from Sara's camera while she wasn't looking. You really gotta love the age of digital photography.

And second Oh: no fair making snide comments about how many self portraits there are. Being creative with picture taking while traveling is hard.
Tuesday May 6 2008File under: travel, pics

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The Other Local Food

We have all, undoubtedly, heard me go on and on about local foods, right? Well, I now offer you a slightly different version of the same concept: foods whose ingredients don't necessarily come from the immediate area, but foods which are closely tied to a place either because that is where they were invented/popularized or for some other reason. I took special care to experience as many of these foods as I could while on my trip. Here's the list.

Chicago deep dish pizza in Chicago; Philly cheese steak in Philly (sold from great little sidewalk stands); scrapple served up by Amish people in Phillie; crab cakes in Baltimore*; BBQ, hush puppies, and sweet tea in North Carolina; and New York City bagels* in New York City. Pretty much everything was awesome; each food stuff deserves the recognition it has achieved.

(Also worthy of note, although not famous except in certain circles, is my brief stop in Fredricksburg, VA at Carl's ice cream joint. I can't remember who recommended it to me along the way, but what a place. It was a local place that was so hoppin, I had to wait in quite a line for my shake. Totally worth it (both the wait and the riding my bike all over town to find it after a hard day on the road). It is worth including in this post because in my eyes, it captures exactly what a local establishment can be. Anyhoo, if you happen through Fredricksburg, you should definitely check it out.)
Sunday May 4 2008File under: food, travel

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FC 30 - Believe (a.k.a Skip To My Lou)

I know. I know. I promised you good comics by good artists starting this week. Well, you're stuck with me again and this time I don't even have the magic stylus to draw people without hands. I do, however, have my beloved Paint Shop Pro 5.0 back which at least brings me comfort if it doesn't bring me magical drawing abilities.

So with the disclaimer disclaimed, I present to you this week's Friday Comic*. Oh, in addition, I should disclaim that my choice in cities was [almost] completely random. I originally was thinking Dallas, but it just didn't fit. Anyway, I hope you all get a chuckle. As for you Baltimortarians, please don't kill me. You are the only ones that will get the partial joke in the title.
Thursday May 1 2008File under: comic

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Tuesday Trivia - USA Edition

Over at IHJ, Chris has started a nice little routine of posting trivia question(s) each and every Tuesday*. His questions are less of the you-know-it-or-you-don't* variety and more of the if-you-put-your-mind-to-it-you-should-be-able-to-figure-it-out* type. However you choose to hyphenate the description, they are good fun.

It fits nicely that I've been preparing for a trivia post for some time, inspired by my recent travels. I thought I would throw them in the Tuesday Trivia realm so we can all exercise our brains together. For answers, hover over question number at the end. Feel free to post your score, or any qualms you have with the questions, in the comments.

State Capitals:
1) How many U.S. state capitals have more than one word? (ex: Kansas City (if that was the capital))
2) Which U.S. capital's name shares no letters with the name of the state it's in? (ex: Not Salem, Oregon because they both have an "E")
3) Which 4 U.S. state capitals start with the same letter as the state they are in?*
Other Geography(ish):
4) Name as many popular U.S. cities with 6 or more syllables.*
5) What letter isn't used in the spelling of any states name?
6) Rank the 4 major timezones in the U.S. by population, greatest to least.
Other:
7) What state has the most vanity license plates?
8) Name which presidents have memorials on the National Mall in D.C.
9) Which is the only U.S. state that has a non-rectangular flag?

Answers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 61, 72, 8, 9
Tuesday April 29 2008File under: misc

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Four Nights

Like many people, I harbor a secret desire to write; I mean really write, with vivid imagery, foreshadowing, and all that good stuff. So instead of the typical I-did-this-then-this post, I wanted to try something new. Please bear with me.

It wasn't the sound that woke him from his slumber, a tame noise that easily faded into the background, but it was the first conscious recognition that he had. Before even opening his eyes, he started to wonder what the source of the sound might be. His thought process, uncommonly clear at so early an hour–a trait he silently thanked his ancestors for daily–led him first to think about location, which was an interesting detour in itself.

Four consecutive nights and four different pillows on which he has rested his head; lately not so uncommon an occurrence. For the past couple of years, he spent less than half his nights at home, in his childhood twin bed tucked in his mother's garage. The other half had him either watching other people's houses as a housesitter, one of his many somewhat unlikely "careers", or on the road. Currently he was at the tail end of a 6 week jaunt through the northeastern United States, having successfully accomplished the goal of seeing old friends. This was his last stop.

He mentally laid out the previous 4 nights. Thursday was a freshly carpeted floor in midtown Manhattan. Friday was a couch in a quintessentially Maine apartment–slanted ceilings, old wood floors, and more character than an entire suburban development combined–in Portland. Saturday night he closed his eyes in upstate New York and opened them in Ohio, with the comforting clatter of the rail line to keep him lulled in semi-sleep. Last night was, that's right, Chicago again.

With his location established, he reluctantly opened his eyes to further pursue the sound. A quick check of his watch, held approximately 3 inches from his face, offered the final clue: 7:00am. The shower. His host getting ready to head off to work. While he could stay tucked in his sleeping bag for a couple more hours–both because he was still recovering from the magical yet incomplete sleep from the train and because he had nothing at all planned for the day–he knew getting up to chat was the courteous thing to do. He learned from experience that folks offering their homes out of the goodness of their hearts don't take kindly to having the fact that they have to run off to work while their guest gets to lounge about all day rubbed in their face. Plus, he could always lie back down later.

Monday April 28 2008File under: travel

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FC 29 - He Who Smelt It

Last week, TreeHugger had an article about how a bunch of comics were going to cover environmentally themed issues in honor of Earth Day. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I had the idea way back. My plan was to do a whole month of comics in honor of Earth Day. Well, that kind of fell through, but I did get around to putting together at least one pseudo-environmentally themed comic*.

Anyway, as you can plainly see, art was provided by yours truly, again with the fancy stylus and touch screen*. Don't worry; now that my travels are starting to wind down, I'll have time to cajole our regular good artists into putting together some comics so you don't have to be subjected to my MSPaint pixel parties anymore. In fact, now that I've planted the seed of this whole comic thing, a couple of my artists are starting to come up with their own comic ideas as well as drawing them. Pretty soon, I'll be able to sit back and play no role whatsoever. I believe in the business, they call that "Middle Management".
Friday April 25 2008File under: comic

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New York New York



Cause everyone's my friend in New York City
And everything looks beautiful when you're young and pretty
The streets are paved with diamonds and there's just so much to see
But the best thing about New York City is you and me

New York, New York!
It's a hell of a town!
The schoolyard's up and the shopping mall's down!
The stray dogs go to the animal pound!
New York, New York!
New York, New York!
Springfield, Springfield!*
Thursday April 24 2008File under: travel, pics

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Green Travel

We've all pretty much accepted that I am an eco-geek, sometimes to an annoying degree, right? So it shouldn't be a surprise that I put a lot of thought into the environmental impact of my travels*. I addressed the issue, albeit novicely, back when I got back from Asia (remember?). Well since then, I've done more reading on the subject. This is the conclusion I've come to.

Calculating the impact of travel on the environment is hard. Do you measure the impact in CO2, which is ever so popular these days, or do you focus more on what type of fuel is being used and the impact of how we obtain that fuel? How does infrastructure play in? (ex: Building roads and rail lines across long distances can really gnarl up the landscape while planes just require a place to take off and land at each end.) What role does/should capacity play? (ex: If the plane I fly on is 1/4 full vs. totally full, my passenger miles per gallon are extremely different, with me having no control of that.) Even within a give style of transportation, there are huge variations that make generalizing towards a usable rule difficult. (ex: Turboprop planes, which are often used for short commuter flights, are way more fuel efficient than their jet engine cousins. And diesel trains belch more particulate matter per mile than electric trains.)

This graphic (and an expanded version over at their site) does a great job of summing up a general rule when thinking about travel: in order of most to least harmful goes traveling solo by car, flying, traveling via mass transit (train, carpooling, bus), non-motorized travel (walking/biking), followed up by not traveling*. While is isn't a hard fast rule, it is helpful for a quick sanity check.

The impact of all this for me is complicated, and I won't get into it too much. Sufficient to say, I take this all into consideration and I try to make responsible decisions. I try not to travel frivolously*, I try to fly less, and I actively seek out mass transit options. And I try to encourage awareness without being too much of a jerk about it. I hope I somewhat succeeded.

P.S. Happy Earth Day!
Tuesday April 22 2008File under: environment, travel

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Easy Time in NC

Traveling can be tiresome, tedious, and draining. I was reminded of this yesterday as I left New Bern NC to start heading north. A botched attempt at hitchhiking (in a thunderstorm the likes of which you can only dream of) followed by bus, taxi, and train, all with their hidden annoyances. Normally I try to avoid noticing the grittier side of travel, or at least avoid posting about it on the old blog. Yesterday, however, it seemed particularly noticeable because I had just got done spending a care-free, easy time with with the SirMaxALot crew.

I had such a great time. It was the perfect mix of downtime/recovery* and cultural and local activities, with plenty of time for catching up and philosophical conversation (with a healthy dose of Simpson quotes, of course). The weather was crazy good–so good, in fact, that I got to participate in one of my favorite activities ever: being shirtless outside*. I felt so welcomed into their home that it made all the hassle of travel just drift away. My collection of photos hardly does the time justice*. All the good shots ended up on their camera, so you will have to stay tuned over there to see the goodies (although I am hoping to snag a few for a wrap-up slideshow)*. That said, here are a few captured moments: my first NC geocache is Max's first cache ever; Sean, Max, and I enjoy some of the lovely riverscapes surrounding New Bern; and Christen, Max, Jack, and I did a little strawberry picking (the real photos from this one should be great).

Yep, now I am back on the dusty road with the next stop in NYC. Small town North Carolina to the City; I'm sure I will hardly notice the difference.
Monday April 21 2008File under: travel

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