|As most of you already know, the Simpsons Movie opened this past weekend. And as most of you might suspect, I went and saw it on opening night. I'm giving it a thumbs up! Good plot, good inclusion of the characters we have come to know and love*, and lots of good jokes. All in all, it was just like paying $10 to watch a good, long episode without commercials. Anyway, I enjoyed it muchly.
Since the Simpsons Movie is kind of a big deal to me, I tried to think of ways to make it special. I immediately* discounted the idea of dressing up like Prof. Frink. Camping out for tickets was also out of the question due to the 105 degree heat. Luckily, one of the 12 or so 7-11s that have been converted to a Kwik-E-Marts is in the Las Vegas area. (I've heard confirmed reports of others in Seattle (thanks, Siri) and Washington D.C. (thanks, Izak) Bingo.
Most notable at this particular Kwik-E-Mart was the number of other slack-jawed gawkers roaming around with cameras. Good thing there was lots to take pictures of. Life-sized replicas of many characters were placed around the store, although the Jasper from the freezer had been stolen. There were Simpsons-themed foods and drink available as well. The Buzz Cola was sold out, but there were Squishees a-plenty. I enjoyed a nice sprinkled donut. There were also little subtleties around that made it quite fun, like dashing uniforms for the employees and other quirks.
On my way out, I struck up a conversation with the cashier* who told me how well the promotion is working for 7-11. He said that in the Las Vegas area alone, they made over $30,000 in two weeks off the sprinkled donuts alone. Not bad at all.
|Thursday August 2 2007||File under: travel, movies|
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A few nights ago, Emily and I went up Red Rocks Canyon to the Super Summer Theatre. The venue is gorgeous with the red rock cliffs surrounding a grassy lawn and professional stage. Everyone brings their blankets and chairs, along with picnic dinners, and enjoys an evening outdoors watching legitimate theater. Because it is a couple thousand feet higher than Vegas, the temperature is bearable, some might even say pleasant*.
110 in the Shade was the name of the play we saw, not a description of the weather where we were seeing it. And I guess I should call it a musical instead of a play. There was lots of singing. It immediately brought to mind that Simpsons episode about painting the wagon red. Hilarious. It also struck me as completely the opposite of what kind of experience one might expect to have in Vegas. Rather than high gloss, air-conditioned casino entertainment, it was more old-timey community-oriented fun.
While the atmosphere was spectacular, the temperature was bearable, and Pei Wei hit the spot, we opted to beat the crowds and head out early before we found out if Lizzie hooked up with Sheriff File and if Starbuck made the rains come. I imagine it all worked out. All in all, it was an awesome evening.
|Monday July 30 2007||File under: travel, misc|
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|Gambling with other people's money is good times, esp. when it forces you to try new extremely intimidating games. Chris, with his convoluted craps plan, was the big winner for the night (although we quickly deviated from his plan, but it worked out great). "Daddy needs a new graphing calculator" drew a few looks from the table attendents, but it was worth the extra 5%. His take...drum roll please...$33.50 (plus the initial $10). I'll take the appropriate action and finally utilize that donation box on IHJ.
Taking second place on the winner list was Sarah who doubled her money on quarter slots (not to mention the free Bud Lite that Emily got from the appropriately*-dressed cocktail waitress). We found an old school machine with actual reels and an honest to goodness pull-arm and let the money roll in. Unfortunately, it wasn't old school enough to have the coins come tumbling out. We had to deal with a printed ticket instead.
On the converse side of things, both Julie and Andrew walk away empty handed. Julie, since we couldn't find a $.25 slot machine with hearts on it, we put your dollar on a machine with dolphins (appropriate, eh?) but it went away just as quickly. Since we didn't conform to your specifications, however, you are off the hook on payback. Andrew, your bet gave us the least trouble because 17 seconds after it was placed, it was gone*. Because it was so easy, I will let you off the hook for paying me back if you agree to put it towards future debts accrued on the frisbee golf course.
As for the only bet that requires research, synthesis, and understanding, we will have to wait until February to find out how Ryan did. It does give me a reason to follow football this year, though. Go Steelers!!
All in all, a great night at the casino. The only downside is that Emily has now become afflicted with the "There's No Way I Can Lose at Craps" bug, which we all know will come back to haunt her. As for me, I think my own personal Gamblor* has been sated and Senior Tuesdays at the Northern Lights Casino will tide me over until my next Vegas Vacation.
|Sunday July 29 2007||File under: travel, misc|
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Anyone? Anyone? Well, I got a good chuckle out of it, at least.
|Saturday July 28 2007||File under: travel, pics|
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|I once again find myself in the Las Vegas area. "Who goes to Las Vegas in July on purpose?", you ask. Good question. In its defense, the weather has been quite exciting with thunder storms, flash floods, and temperatures that have more or less stayed below the 100 degree mark. But enough pleasantries; let's get down to business.
Last time I passed this way, I talked to a few people about my idea of gambling by proxy. This time, I want to make that dream a reality for us all. The concept is this: for all of you who aren't able to make it to casinos, whether because of time, geography, or overbearing spousal reasons, I offer you my time and location* so that together we might both become rich.
The rules go like this. You name the amount, game, and bet (e.g. $10 on roulette 15) and I will go place it. I'm thinking the games that lend themselves to this would be roulette, craps, slots (please be as specific as you like with the type of machine), and blackjack (although you would have to accept my decisions*. If you lose, you pay me the amount lost. Kind of like if you were here, but without having to deal with the crowds, stress, and heat. If you win, we split the winnings 75/25 (yes, the bigger amount is for you*).
The concept here is to allow anyone to be a part of the BdW experience, to participate in this adventure that I am on, to have a little innocent fun while on your government-mandated 15-minute coffee break at the office. The action and outcome will be documented here. And besides the excitement and fun this will create, you will be helping to support BdW (web hosting ain't free, ya know.) So get your bets in by Friday night and then leave the rest to me.
|Wednesday July 25 2007||File under: travel, misc|
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|Dear Greyhound Inc.,
I've been a customer of yours for several years. You always come through in a pinch, even if it isn't the best deal or the most convenient travel experience. But a bad options is often better than no optional at all, and I appreciate the service you provide. In my years traveling, I've noticed a few things that I wanted to ask about and a few possible suggestions. I would love to see you become a viable travel option for everyone, not just the bums and winos.
My first question is this: How do you manager to get at least one crazy person or drunk on every bus? Do you focus your advertising campaigns at half-way houses and mental facilities? Is there some sort of discount that you don't offer the general public? Or maybe it is just the camaraderie they feel with the Greyhound employees. Do you keep a staff of these folks on call in case a legitimate crazy doesn't show up? If so, where can I find the application for this position. I do a great crazy.
That brings me to my next question: Do you offer performance benefits on an inversely proportional basis? There must be some incentive that gets your employees to be so indifferent. I've never seen people on duty be so unconcerned with getting the job done properly and in a timely fashion (besides road construction crews, of course). I know this may sound like a new idea, but it is actually well accepted in the business world today: reward employees for performance rather than the lack thereof. With this simple change in policy, you might find that buses will start being on time, facilities will start to resemble a place you wouldn't be afraid to take your mother, and people won't be so horribly belligerent from having been treated so poorly. Who knows, you might even become a company your stock holders wouldn't avoid like the plague.
With a little work and thought, I'm confident that you can be a company with the value and reliability that will compare with, say, Guatemala's bus transit systems. But I will say this: I've never seen a live chicken on any of your buses.
|Tuesday July 24 2007||File under: transportation, open letter|
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|Portland likes bikes. Or at least they recognize the value in accommodating and encouraging them. I've never seen a city that is as bike friendly as Portland is. There are bikes racks in front of most establishments, often overfilled. I even saw a neighborhood that blocked off a parallel parking spot and filled it with bike racks so the sidewalk wouldn't be clogged. In the space it takes to park one car, there was space for over a dozen bikes. There is space for bikes on the buses and the MAX (the light rail public transportation), also often filled. But what has impressed me most about the biking scene in Portland is the number and quality of bike routes.
In my short time in Portland, I've probably ridden over 50 miles. The difference riding on designated bike routes makes is huge. Often these routes are on lesser traveled residential streets so you don't have to contend with traffic. When the routes do follow major roads, there is a lane set aside for you, painted and everything. Every time the route makes a turn, there are signs pointing the way and updating the distance (and estimated time) to the major landmarks. And for people not terribly familiar with the area, there is even a route planner.
All the encouragement and accommodation seems to be working. You see bikers everywhere you go, ranging all the way from spandex clad aerodynamic racer types to little old ladies with their groceries. Seeing all these cyclists is so inspiring to me. Whether it is their intention or not, the positive environmental impact of pedaling across town instead of pedal-to-the-metalling across town is huge.
I count my miles bicycling among my favorite experiences here in Portland. It kept me in shape, showed me the city, and saved the planet all at the same time. Yes, I agree with sentiment often heard around the city, on billboards, bumber stickers, and store windows: Bike Portland!
|Sunday July 22 2007||File under: travel, transportation|
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|One of the big goals for my time in Portland was to visit the oft extolled Powell's Book. For some, this isn't just a must see when you visit Portland, but reason enough to make the trip in the first place. I chose to combine my required literary pilgrimage with the circus I knew would be taking place around the release of the new Harry Potter book.
Even in my wildest dreams I couldn't have imagined the spectacle that awaited me. The party was slated to start at 10pm with the books going on sale at 12:01am. I arrived at about 9:15 with the thought of grabbing a bite to eat and maybe finding myself a good used paperback before I gawked. From a block away, I could hear the festivities and see the commotion. The street was blocked off with t.v. vans with satellite dishes raised to the sky. There was a smoke machine and face painting tables. Then there was the line: hundreds of cape-clade, striped scarf wearing fans with their lawn chairs and coolers zigzagging and doubling back Disney-style to fully occupy the closed off street. Although I didn't ask, I'm sure many of them had been there all day.
While I don't consider myself a fan*, I've read a few of the books and know of the characters, many of whom I saw running around with wands, etc. Besides the slew of Harrys and Hermoines dressed in Hogwarts' attire, I saw a Dumbledore, a Prof. Sybill Trelawney*, and, my favorite, Hagrid, true to form towering 2 feet above everyone else. Among the non-Potter related, there were all manner of stilt walkers, a fire juggler, and some Scottish/Irish song and dance troupe that clacked sticks as they do-si-doed.
As I waited for transportation home (unfortunately the bus came before the magical train), the book-purchasing line overflowed its bounds of the block off street and wound halfway around the block, this at only 10:30. I can't only imagine how long the line got by midnight. The poor kids who had gone home to nap before the big event were relegated far from the excitement not to mention prolly not getting their copy until well after midnight. I guess that goes to show what it takes to be a true fan in this day and age.
|Saturday July 21 2007||File under: travel, events|
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|I've been playing a little thing called Ultimate Frisbee* for a number for years. Back in college, it was a serious affair with practice daily, jerseys, and tournaments. Since college, it has been with friends in the park once a week. In that time, our group has developed its own nuances, rules, etc. Within the bubble that is Anacortes Ultimate, I've somewhat lost touch with how our skill level compares, common styles of play, etc.
One of my big goals for my time here in Portland is to get a few games in. While my first attempt was thwarted by an improperly updated website, I got one in this evening. The whole time I kept noticing differences about the games here compared to the games up there. And for your viewing convenience, I offer you this chart.
It looks like it is too close to call. Higher level of play, but without the comforts of playing with friends using well adapted rules*. I had a great time and hope to get at least one more game in before I leave town, but I will be anxious for Tuesday night when I get home.
|Thursday July 19 2007||File under: Anacortes, events|
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The People's Guide to Anacortes (originally named Anacortes for CheapOs) has been a project that I've been thinking about for quite some time now. The idea sprung from this post and the wonderful comments that it spawned. The more I thought about it, the more I wished this kind of thing existed for the places I travel to; a simple guide to the free, non-commercial activities a location has to offer. Anyone that has been to Anacortes knows that free activities abound here (hiking, swimming, parks, beaches, etc.)
My intended audience is essentially the younger, more adventurous, less affluent crowd (think heckers (my* oh so clever name for the folks that descend on Anacortes for the What The Heck Fest)), but there are activities for everyone, simply categorized with some fancy technology for syncing up the map with the description. Also available is a printable PDF.
I assume once some of my fellow Anacortians (Anacortisian?) have a look over the list, there will be suggestions for what I missed, etc. and I welcome that. Please pass those along via the comments or the contact page. I'll try to keep the list updated. Another thing you, dear readers, can do to help is to encourage people to check it out. If you have a friend that is going to be visiting Anacortes or the San Juan Islands, send them a link. Knowing that I've opened people's eyes to some of what Anacortes has to offer is the best form of payment I could get for a project like this*.
|Wednesday July 18 2007||File under: Anacortes, travel|
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