2009 September❮❮prevnext❯❯


September 1, 2009

--from the Museum of Animal Perspectives (via)

Bad restaurant idea: "Barely Legal Seafood"
How does our econosystem support so many damn cellphone stores?

corporate shilling for fun and no profit

September 2, 2009

--Weirdly captivating Japanese commercial for Sony's PS3. (via Offworld, which has some of the precursors to this ad)
Come to think of it I guess it reminds me more of this older Nike spot:

[on analyizing H1N1 in terms of bits of information] So it takes about 25 kilobits — 3.2 kbytes — of data to code for a virus that has a non-trivial chance of killing a human. This is more efficient than a computer virus, such as MyDoom, which rings in at around 22 kbytes.

It’s humbling that I could be killed by 3.2kbytes of genetic data. Then again, with 850 Mbytes of data in my genome, there’s bound to be an exploit or two.
Last month the manager at my consulting company said "yeah-we found QA was too much of a loss leader so we don't do it"-Maybe I shoulda run
"The rattlesnake approves of himself without reservations."
—Wislawa Szymborska, from "In Praise of Self-Deprecation"

photos from the grove and back againphotos

September 3, 2009

Ocean Grove, New Jersey is a beautiful beach town. Our neighbors there really take the flowers thing seriously:

Thee heart of the town may well be the Great Auditorium, shown here behind a statue of clergyman Elwood Stokes.

Mostly I included that to set the scene for this view of Stokes:

(It reminds me a bit of that one statue of a woman in Kanazawa, Japan I took, but a lot less naked.)

The ruined casino in Asbury Park has this interesting tentacle flapper mural:

Back in the Grove, the had a very odd "Christmas in August" pageant. We missed most of it but it's a bit surreal hearing "Joy to the World" floating over the beach at night.:

Finally, back in Boston, it's JZ and Rhodesian Ridgeback pup Brody...

"My first crush on an Irish girl...I was ten years old, and her name was Elaine. Little red-haired girl; Well, she looked like you, But if you were ten, Which you're clearly not. Not that you look old, but you get my-- I'll just stop now."
--Jason Robert Brown "I Could Be In Love With Someone Like You"
http://www.slate.com/id/2226697/ - analysis of "Black Bart Simpson" T-shirts and related merch. If in a hurry just check out http://community.livejournal.com/pacific_novelty/31181.html
"Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known."
--Garrison Keillor (via)
"Sometimes I really miss enforced naptime. Work is never like kindergarten in the good ways."
http://relaxationresponse.org/steps/ - I remember reading "The Relaxation Response" a long while ago at the recommendation of a college infirmary doctor. I was impressed that it seemed more concerned with helping people in a secular way than selling either a belief system or books. It somehow seems contradictory to say "I really should add a daily Todo app entry of 'medidate'" but I think I really should.
Finishing up a biography of Washington. His last act was to feel his own final pulse. As a society I think we've forgotten what a hero he was.
He then led his guests to the piazza facing the Potomac, where he paced back and forth and liked to talk about farming (plow designs, the dreaded Hessian fly, crop rotation schemes). He often enjoyed an after-dinner glass of Madeira, which he held casually with his arm draped over a chair while listening impassively to any political talk that he preferred to avoid. Awkward silences did not disturb him.
--Joseph J. Ellis, "His Excellency, George Washington"
Are you ever tempted to look at the human form as something alien? Regard a face upsidedown, mouth moving in the forehead... or the odd columns of arms and legs.

requiem for a nagbotfunnyaim

September 4, 2009

At my old job, we had a nice kind of team culture going for the developers.

Our manager Scott asked us to do weekly staus reports at end of day on Thursdays. I thought it would be easy to forget that, so I set an iPhone alarm to remind me, and then figuring the rest of the team was in the same boat, I decided to get in the habit of nudging people. To do so, I invented a persona for our group Skype chatroom called "Nagbot 3000". In theory I could have made up an automated script to do the reminder, but A. that would be work and B. It was kind of fun trying to think of variants to keep things lively.

Nagbot 3000 was generally appreciated by my coworkers. Here are some excerpts I saved at some point...

[Aug 2 2007 16:31:21] NAGBOT 3000 SEZ: status reports for sbruce.

[Aug 16 2007 16:30:20] NAGBOT 3000 SEZ: status tonight!

[Aug 23 2007 16:30:31] NAGBOT 3000 SEZ: STATUS

[Aug 30 2007 16:54:51] NAGBOT 3000 SEZ: STATUS

[Sep 6 2007 17:12:06] NAGBOT SEZ; geez, i guess there's status though everyone seems hipdeep in demo prep...

[Sep 20 2007 16:30:31] NagBot sez: DO YER STATUS
[Sep 20 2007 16:30:48] NagBot sez: *beep*

[Sep 27 2007 15:02:45] NAGBOT 3000 SEZ: status

[Oct 4 2007 16:31:28] NAGBOT 300 SEZ: DO STATUS

[Oct 11 2007 16:17:57] NAGBOT SEZ: STATUS

[Oct 18 2007 16:52:39] NAGBOT 3000 SEZ: DO STATUS

[Oct 25 2007 16:31:02] NAGBOT 3500 (now with politeness module) SEZ: DO YOUR STATUS REPORT PLEASE



[Nov 15 2007 16:47:22] NAGBOT 3000 SEZ: DO STATUS

[Nov 29 2007 16:33:46] *************NAGBOT 3000 SEZ: DO STATUS**************************

[Dec 6 2007 16:30:31] NAGBOT 3000 SEZ: DO STATUS. PLZ.

[Dec 20 2007 16:30:14] NAGBOT SEZ DO STATUS

[Jan 3 2008 16:31:47] NAGBOT 3000 W/ NEW "X-TRA SASS" CIRCUIT SEZ: try to scrape together some kind of decent status report for this weird, holiday-stricken no-man's-land limbo of a week

[Jan 10 2008 16:37:17] NAGBOT 3000 (Freeware Basic Edition) SEZ: do sta.

[Jan 17 2008 16:32:11] NAGBOT 3000 (with music upgrade) SEZ (to the tune of Howdy Doody theme):


[Jan 31 2008 16:31:11] NAGBOT 3000 SEZ: SEND IN YOUR STATUS PLEASE.

[Feb 7 2008 16:30:34] NAGBOT 3000 SEZ: STATUS STATUS RAH RAH RAH

[Feb 14 2008 16:44:56] NAGBOT SEZ: DO STATUS, CHA CHA CHA

[Feb 21 2008 16:35:07] NAGBOT 3000 (RHYMING UPDATE) SEZ:
The Time Has Come
The Walrus Said
To Write Things Done and Not:
Plus Obstacles, And Take All That Stuff
And Send It O'er Scott


[Mar 6 2008 16:36:01] NAGBOT 3000 (NOW W/ POWERPOINT MODULE) SEZ:
Status Reports
* Due Thursday E.o.D.
* Send to Scott
* Report 3 things:
-what you did this past week
-what you plan to do next week
-obstacles in your way

[Mar 13 2008 16:31:05] NAGBOT 3000 (JAPANESE EDITION) SEZ: 自分のステータスレポートをご覧ください。


[Apr 17 2008 16:45:20] NAGBOT 3000 (with a little help from NagNAGBOTBot) SEZ: DO YOUR STATUS REPORT

[Apr 24 2008 16:28:01] NAGBOT 3000 (late 80s hiphop edition) SEZ: LOOKIN' AT MY GUCCI IT'S ABOUT THAT TIME

[May 1 2008 17:00:51] SLIGHTLY DELAYED NAGBOT 3000 SEZ: do your status!

[May 8 2008 16:30:30] NAGBOT 3000 (special Matrix Bullet-Time FX Edition) SEZ: dddddddddooooooooooooooooooo yyyyoooooooooooooooooouuuuurrrrrrrrrr sssssssttaaaaattuuuuuuuuuuuusssssssssssss rrreeeeeeeeepppooooooooooooooorrrrrrttt

[May 15 2008 17:23:45] NAGBOT 3000 SEZ (SUPER SECRET ENCRYPTION MODULE ENGAGED): qb lbhe fgnghf naq pbatenghyngvbaf ba xabjvat ebg-guvegrra!

[May 22 2008 16:33:20] NAGBOT 3000 (limerick edition) SEZ:
there once was a guy from rockport
whose career was nearly cut short
his work went unheeded
cause all that he needed
was to do his status report!

http://www.thebigmoney.com/articles/judgments/2009/09/03/emotional-rescue - how moods are almost literally contagious, and what that means for the economy. "f you put two people in a room facing each other, without talking to each other, their moods will converge, or more likely, the mood of the less expressive person will move towards the mood of the more expressive person." What are the implications of that for how I want to live my life?

on my car, the first leaf of fall? AARGH!
(eh, maybe just from a dead branch but still)

http://magweasel.com/category/reading-room/ - has an amazing translation of "Phantom of Akihabara", about gamers after a Japanese censorship apocalypse. Also the site is a good PC-Engine blog too.
http://www.care2.com/greenliving/the-9-types-of-intelligence.html - Amber sent me the link. EVERYTHING needs to be evaluated in a many dimensional kind of way.... though you end up sounding too much like that "evaluating a poem's greatness" shtick Robin Williams has all the students rip out of the book in Dead Poets Society.

and then we'll take it higher

(1 comment)
September 5, 2009

My friend had this Facebook status:

Scott Richards is going to rock on to Electric Avenue

My response:

View Larger Map

thou shalt not

September 6, 2009

--Life magazine put together this kind of noir parody of the Hays Code "Thou Shalt Nots", what you weren't allowed to show in movies of the time.
I. Law Defeated
II. Inside of Thigh
III. Lace Lingerie
IV. Dead Man
V. Narcotics
VI. Drinking
VII. Exposed Bosom
VIII. Gambling
IX. Pointing Gun
X. Tommy Gun

Seems like it would have been more efficient to have the woman pointing a Tommy Gun rather than having it awkwardly posed on the cop's head, but hey.

"It's the librarian fantasy, man -- glasses off, hair down... ...books flyin'"
"She doesn't wear glasses."
"Buy her some, it's worth it."
--The Station Agent, extremely quirky film
http://twitter.com/shitmydadsays - one of the funnier twitters I've seen in a while.
http://www.livescience.com/technology/060707_pacman_insects.html - news of the old, insects stepping in as the ghosts in Pac-Man
(In)famously, Apple's official recommendation for fixing the ill-fated Apple III was drop from a height of several inches. Oddly, for now this seems to have fixed my PC which was shutting itself off for no good reason.

(Note to future self: HP gear is attractive from a design standpoint, but ranks rather low on reliability and preloaded-with-crapware metrics. Heed this.)

new blender of love digest

tufts sq - magic suits music

September 7, 2009

Tufts sQ! - Magic Suits (1997)
  1. Bizarre Love Triangles
  2. Not the Doctor
  3. I Be Your Water
  4. 1979

In 1997, Tufts sQ!, then a small group struggling to find its place on campus after the founding members graduated, worked to put together an album.

That album never got made. (sQ! has since gone on to make a number of excellent albums, very highly polished and terrific sounding.)

However, Somewhere along the line- I think it might've been thanks to Austin Putman- I got hold of copies of the recordings they make.

This is a very rough cut album - in particular "I Be Your Water" has some patches that didn't jell, and I'm sure people with more refined ears than mine will cringe in various places.

Still, I'm proud to have been a part of this, and happy to put it out for the world to hear.

(One of the competing names for the album was "Dances with Trucks", the "Indian name" I bestowed upon Wayne after following him at speeds upwards of 90 mph on rainslick highways, trying to get to Pitt. in time for a show -- hence my own original album art shown here.)
Book idea: Kirk's Guide to Ineffective Childcare. Chapter 1: Consoling a hungry infant w/ full diaper.

i thought you knewcool

September 8, 2009

--Mighty God King (a mighty fine blog, from coverage of various comics to talk about how actually the Canadian health system is really quite decent) has pre-emptively declared this best comic moment of the year. I'm inclined to agree...
"We'd hoped for love of a different kind, love that knew and forgave our human frailty but did not miniaturize our grander ideas of ourselves. It sounded possible. If we didn't rush or grab, if we didn't panic, a love both challenging and nurturing might appear. If the person was imaginable, then the person could exist."
--Michael Cunningham, "A Home at the End of the World"


September 9, 2009

Today my dad would have turned 60.

6 years ago (six! wow, what a number - college plus half of high school! The speeding raceway of time reminds me why I was so anxious to start dropping these daily bread crumbs for later leisurely perusal!) I had noted I had lived as many days with him as without him, and wrote a kind of tribute that I probably shouldn't try to top here. In 4 years, May Day 2013 (assuming the 2012 doomsayers prove as wrong as every date-based doomsayer has been thus far) I will be as old as he was when he died. I guess I should get over it some time? Or maybe parents are just that kind of thing you never have to get over - maybe especially if you haven't had kids of your own.

(Again, you can calculate your own happy or sad little milestones with that date toy tool I threw together in 2001.)

I've tended to express my regret in terms of be being a graceless adolescent when he died, that so much of the becoming I've done, that I'm most proud of because of its deliberate nature -- I think before you're a teen, you kind of just are -- happened after he passed. But now, coming up to the ages I have memories of him being at, I can think too about how many interesting paths could have been before him... I listed a bunch of things he'd done in that essay, and sometimes I'm still in a bit in awe.
One interpretation I tend not to over-emphasize is that of all the people who've been in my life since his passing, I think I most saw echoes of a kind of insecure, maybe-compensating but still admirable use of books and diligent study to achieve various expertise in Mo. And their style is in contrast to my own too-smart-too-young, ego-protecting comfort zone I drift in when left unattended. I mean, there's a lot to be said for low-hanging-fruit, but over the past few years I've been working on putting up more of a fight for "stretch goals" that seem worthwhile.

Heh, it's another dumb little milestone today - the tenth anniversary of the 9/9/99 release date of the Dreamcast, a video game system beloved in the hearts of fanboys, but ultimately walloped by the DVD-playing, somewhat-more-powerful Playstation 2. I wonder what my dad would have thought of me and video games - not that it's such a big, time-consuming thing for me these days, but over the years I've sunk a lot of dollars and a lot of hours into them - but they were pretty primitive back when he was watching my early fascination with them. Lately I've been pleased by one thought though... here's a (pooorly photographed) example of some of his cross stitch (an inuit design I believe)

Man, what is cross stitch and needlepoint if not a crazy kind of folksy pixel art? So our interests maybe weren't as far apart as all that. (Hell, we might've collaborated on some of this stuff, I'm sure modern stitchers use all sorts of scanning and conversion high tech tools, rather than being solely reliant on the type of pattern books my dad had (and I remember being kind of fascinated by as a kid.))

Sigh. Guess today I'll fire up the old Dreamcast and... I dunno, try to have some place that cooks hot dogs in beer or something, like I think my Dad said they did in Ohio...

Miss you, Dad, Happy Birthday.


September 10, 2009

For over a decade now, I've put all my important files in "C:\data\" - it's the one stop shopping for what I have to transfer when moving to a new primary machine, and what I have to keep a backup of.

In the interest of decluttering, though, for the non-bulky stuff (music, photos) I'd like to start either posting it or just plain ditching it... so in the interests of "if it's worth hoarding it's worth posting", here is the (former) content of c:\data\media\images\animations\ ...

Star Wars in pixels:

Just one of those generic CGI things:

"Connie Dance" - Church of the Subgenius related?

Disco, Baby. (This one and the last I might have saved for use in evites. Man, I do kind of miss having big house parties.)

Already posted this, but what the heck... proof of concept for the game "Lemmings":

One image I'm repeating here 4 times:


http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2009/01/21/bebot-the-lilest-iph.html - Bebot is about the best iPhone music app/toy I've seen... $2 well spent!
http://acephalous.typepad.com/acephalous/2009/09/distance-learning.html and http://eye-of-a-cat.livejournal.com/176383.html?nc=195 - grading as text adventures
http://www.rpglibrary.org/articles/storytelling/36plots.html - the 36 plots of RPGs, though many are just background settings...
In high school we borrowed Huxley's "Brave New World"'s use of "pneumatic" for voluptuous. The Russian word for this translates as "juicy".
http://www.cracked.com/blog/how-to-f-like-a-librarian/ - 5 sex self help books. Seanbaby rides again!
"you're munchin' cabbage instead of chugging München's finest beer"
--The Hacker's Diet, http://www.fourmilab.ch/hackdiet/ -- a line that's been buzzing around my head and website.
http://programmersatwork.wordpress.com/ -Programmers at Work, continues, organically - original book is a gem, worth it for the Pac-Man inventor Toru Iwatani alone!
Oy, just found out that my uncle isn't really keyed into what season it is- guessed that it was the chill of spring, not fall.


September 11, 2009

young astronauts in love: roughcut edition

In part because I had misfiled it (no way it should have been a toplevel directory) my attention was drawn to the original black and white sketches I had made for young astronauts in love. I've decided to release that as young astronauts in love: roughcut edition.

The images are black and white, and I wasn't sure if I'd have time to go back and color everything, so I worked to make leaner Lydia visually distinct and more feminine than more stocky Jake. (Which is kind of funny, part of the joke of the original 1 panel cartoon is that you have little idea about gender or personalities of astronauts involved.) In some ways, the color limitation let me give the holograms and Anomaly appearance a bit more visual kick, flashes of blue and green when everything else is strictly monochrome, and thus adding to a sense of "beyond normal physics". Also the panels are the size I sketched at, 400x400 instead of the 200x200 I used in the final version, and I find it kind of interesting how it feels more like a storybook.

Two New Bonus Panels at the bottom, too...

http://www.slate.com/id/2147309/nav/tap1/ - excerpt from the illustrated 9/11 report
http://www.slate.com/id/2227871/ - I mentioned before: "BigBelly" is the evolutionary ancestor of Wall*E
http://www.utne.com/Politics/How-911-Should-Be-Remembered-5279.aspx - a leftish reminder of the stoicism and bravery of ordinary people on 9/11. So weird it got co-opted to justify Iraq.
Boston Sports Radio is generally on AM, except new 98.5. Does iPod nano having FM radio only mean thats the way the tech is going?
I'm pro-Obama, but it's vaguely odd that his "It is a lie, plain and simple" is fine, but "You lie!" is a firestorm. Decorum uber alles!
http://www.offworld.com/2009/09/one-shot-3d-tetris.html - mad at your eyes? Punish them with Stereogram Tetris!
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112564382 - habit forming heartburn meds? - remember kids, pick FUN addictions!
Some friends of mine are experiencing first hand employment problems because of credit checks. What the HELL is the justification for those?

captain kirk is climbing a mountain

September 12, 2009

--via backpacker.com (who gives the background in terms of Start Trek V's unconvincing free climb of El Cap. And as Ted Alvarez writes "That's going on my iPod right now."

http://www.sonnyradio.com/airfactory.htm - (ww2) how to hide a factory

c:\data\media\images\comics part 1

September 13, 2009

Random comics I have saved: (insert "fair use" argument here)

Arlo and Janis is really great - I love it when Arlo gets either melancholy and philisophical, and sometimes the whole sexy/innuendo thing with his wife is nice to see on the comics page as well... it's a darn shame Arlo and Janis doesn't seem to have many anthologies.

Man I don't even know how many times I've quoted that last one...

c:\data\media\images\comics part 2

September 14, 2009

Those first two Dilberts don't seem that great to me anymore, I think they had more to do with my work situations then. "You only THINK there's a difference" can be the perfect line in the right circumstances.

GAH - going to Portugal Friday. Would have more options if I knew how to drive stick. Any way to learn by then??

shirtfest 2009shirts

September 15, 2009

In June of 2001 I started posting a series of photos of T-shirts I had gotten rid of. I apolgetically explained doing that back then. And I'm doing it again-- Amber helped me weed out my wardrobe, getting rid of about half of it, at least shirt-wise.

Here are the shirts I thought I might sort of miss, arranged roughly in descending order of coolness. Most of these shirts are technically irreplaceable, but that's the way the entropy bounces.

One of my all time favorites:
Barbara Kruger's "Don't Be A Jerk".
(Good advice!)

Not actully going away,
but moving out of "too cool to wear regularly",
Where the Wild Things Are, circa 1995

From the Met, liked the architecuralness of it.

Another "too cool to wear",
I'm not sure if the Tufts Band Lemmings
will gather again but we had shirts!

Another formerly "too cool to wear",
the logo I designed for Tufts Connect

A favorite my mom got me from a cool part of Dallas
(never been myself)

From Salem. A bit alcolholic
but I liked it.

AtariAge.com, worn out.

Not as cool as either of the Blue Man shirts
I had before. Blue neck and armbands.


Japanese shirt, never fit too well.

From Old Navy before I was even aware of Old Navy
as much of a brand.

Self-portrait of Albrecht Durer?

A gift from Ksenia,
cool but too snug.

Scion giveaway.

Gift from Ksenia...sweet but too hipster.

Play on Da Vinci.

From the firehouse near the Pru.

Also too hipster.

Ubiquitous "Life is Good"

Ancient Ocean Pacific Tank Top. Ah, OP.

And then things that weren't shirts at all:

Not a shirt but a jacket,
80s salt and pepper thing that I had for jazzband
Kept in case I want to go as my old self
for halloween.

Finally, Christmas socks where the toe had worn away.

You know what, browsers? If you can only give me a readonly FTP view, no upload, forget it; don't try to grab ftp://
http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1920944 - dark but funny, stormtroopers say "The Deathstar: never forget"
http://www.boston.com/sports/other_sports/articles/2009/09/12/espn_radios_boston_affiliate_set_to_sign_off/ - huh, things are afoot in Boston sports radio, like I mentioned with the iPod/FM thing. ESPN's AM affiliate is gone... preferred their "Mike + Mike" to the WEEI political bozos.
Then: The Wealth of Nations
Now: Invisible Hands: The Mysterious Market Forces That Control Our Lives and How to Profit from Them
-- http://yourmonkeycalled.com/post/185927647/book-titles-if-they-were-written-today
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/21/AR2009082101778.html -5 Myths About Health Care Around the World


September 16, 2009

Images by other people I saved from long-lost Pixeltime.

You can see my Pixeltime tribute page for more things I did.

The final two are a nice tiny alphabet by Nick, which inspired my own version that added lower case, and then I must've used the expanded version of Nick's for reference.

I keep meaning to try to make a site that captures some of the old fun of pixeltime, even though it would mean I'd be looking at many, many pictures of pixelated penises. (The nature of public art forums, alas)

Had skipped shaving for too many days, went back to no-electric razor for the first time in years. Had forgotten the pleasantness of a hot water shave.


September 17, 2009

Studies in alien bill: a business card, a BMP to put in a VB program, and the old animation:

Heheh, after the break-up, and once the ex- moved on, I guess I was trying to delete a folder or something with her name:

An old virtual birthday card/gift:

Speaking of pixeltime yesterday, here's what the drawing interface looked like when I was doing a Y2K image: (I think I started the circle in the wrong place and had to move it over line by line)

Two old maps, one to the Big Yellow House, one to my old job...

The other day Amber mentioned never seeing me in jeans... I have no idea why I scanned in this picture and saved it here, but - there are jeans.

My mom talks about how these Peanuts cartoons, with Snoopy acting out bible stories, really struck a chord in my dad... she framed a different, similar one.

My a cappella group sQ always felt like the underdog when I was there, so I was proposing this crude photoshop for concert fliers:

Finally, my dear old Tandy 1100, though I'm not sure if I took these images or if it's someone else's-- probably the latter...

http://www.cracked.com/photoshop_85_if-video-games-were-realistic/ - more realistic video games
http://safetycenter.navy.mil/photo/index.asp - Naval Safety Center Photo of the Week. Kind of a less wacky "Safety FAIL" blog.
http://www.foddy.net/Cricket.html - repost of a fun little Cricket game. Great use of Box2D.
http://www.mvhsdrama.com/50sSlang.htm - slang of the 50s. Like crazy, man.
http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/C-3PX - Cracked was making fun of it but I find something really appealing about a C3P0 assassin droid.

portugal: prelude

September 18, 2009

Holy cats I'm off to Portugal!

(And don't try to break into my house just 'cause I'm publicly announcing I'm gone, I still have family there.)

Don't know if I'll yet have the access/gumption to make a full photoblog, so I'll fill with a backlog of videos I've been keeping around.

Famous psychology experiment redone... man it almost feels like child abuse!
At airport, Portugal bound! Grateful to Amber for the 6am drive....
London. Love how they have "LOOK LEFT" "LOOK RIGHT" on the curb so you don't get hit by a lorry. Also, I wonder if learning to drive on the other side of the road changes how you orient yourself on roadways, keeping the driver in the center rather than remembering left/right.
Interesting watching British TV, the polls about how Brits are very pro-public spending...
UK groceries are doing a lot of advertising on price, like digestives (type of cookie I think) for 60p.

portugal: calling londontravel

September 19, 2009

--impressed by the deftness of this Python/Trek mashup. (via)

Photoblog of the Moment
So I'm not sure if I'll be able to match the photoblog I made in Japan last year, in terms of # of photos, in terms of internet access, in terms of Europe not being as exotic as Japan. (Heck, in terms of me lying about the apartment too much, though I'll try not to overdo that)

Still, here's a day of it. Because I didn't think things through, I ended up having an overnight stay in London. But it worked out ok, I got to see a little bit more than I would have otherwise, and maybe a layover in an English-speaking but foreign country helped ease the transition...

So, leaving Friday...

I'm on a plane! I'm on a plane! (not a boat - that would be slow.)

For reasons that are not clear to me, for the London-Lisbon hop I went for an aisle seat, and missed some better photops, but here's a castle on the way to London...

Like I mentioned, I love the "Look Right"/"Look Left" warnings they paint near the curb. (Of course, England seems to be very fond of posting lots of conservative, safety-minded warnings and disclaimers.)

Teehee, they call them "Bedrooms". Which I guess is accurate. But still cute.

I decided my schedule would be tight enough the next morning that I didn't want to risk travelling into London proper, so I explored the neighborhood near the Thistle Heathrow. The neighborhood seems to be strongly against the addition of a 3rd runway.

I thought I noticed a pub as the shuttle was approaching the hotel... The White Horse pours a good pint. (I decided not to be all touristy and photopgraph the interior, though I love the classic barman outfit.)

Again, the British fondness for safety. (Like, most people on bikes seemed to have dayglo vests with reflect stripes, the kind of stuff I usually associate with rescue workers.)I like the glowiness of these markers.

Finally, back at the hotel, one of the channels had this: no sound, no movement, just this:

portugal: lisboa!travel

September 20, 2009

--Time Lapse from an AMAZING $150 space balloon photography project - brilliant!

Photoblog of the Moment
At Heathrow, people working the hotel information desk will cheerfully tell you the wrong shuttle #. And people at hotel desks will gladly inform you of the wrong terminal to show up at the next morning.

Still Heatrhow Terminal 3 looks pretty surreal before dawn - the purple lights are very odd...

We took a bus to the plane rather than boarding at a gate, which is always kind of a nice view.

In Lisbon! I kind of was ok calling this just a travel day, without too much touristy stuff, chilling out and at night doing the Glorious Trainwrecks Klik of the Month Klub.

The tags in Lisbon are often that nice, full, "West Coast" style... (Cue discussion with my host Johnny about whether "tags" are considered "graffiti" or if the latter is something seperate.)

View from Johnny's sixth floor flat:

Portuguese Chinese Food - Johnny suggested (correctly) that it's always kind of neat to see how the core of Chinese food gets interpreted in various countries...

English has a big vocabulary, but Portuguese has a word, "brinde", for the secret toy surprises you get inside, say cracker jack or cereal.

portugal: castle of são jorgetravel

September 21, 2009

Photoblog of the Moment
Yesterday I walked around Lisbon on my own after getting up at the crack of 1PM. (Those external blackout shades they have here, with the pullcord on the inside, are terrific for that, just wonderful.)

I just liked the variety of vibrant trees outside of Johnny's place.

Oh, Portugal. Really?

It turned out that the Metro station was hiding behind that Chili's. These are the steps leading out of Rossio station ... you can see the Castelo de São Jorge...

Fountain at Praça de Dom Pedro IV

The colors didn't look like that when I took the picture, I thought--

There were some tents setup for some moped sellers, and I like this box that raised up out of the ground to provide electrical outlets.

The nearby Praça de Figueira--

The thing you notice about this part of town is height, like these people on a high patio.

At this point I had gotten a bit confused (mixing up the train station with the metro on the map) so I decided to go...up! To the castle, since I figured if I kept climbing I wouldn't miss it.

I kept digging much of the graffiti there, though I could see it getting old after awhile.

Policeman and pigeon.

Boy Toy! Boy Toy?

And they stickered things too.

Already you can see I'm gaining some altitude...

Nice tile work.

Cops in a "ramona". And a woman in a black and white dress.

The view from the top of the castle was superb!

So much bustle.


But I'm not at the top yet...

Just kind of liked this shot, with people.

Cat, fascinated by the door of a restaurant kitchen up there.

Then you turn the corner and AAH! STATUE ASS!

I was really struck by the trees up there, such a blend of stone and wood.

It was getting to be early evening, so the shadows were nice.

Again, more trees.

So, right, a bit higher up.

And at the base of that flag pole.

This woman had the greatest T-shirt but I was too shy to take a photo when she was facing me, so I snuck this one in.

"Photography isn't about photos. Photos never come out right. It's about ADVENTURE."
Another cat. In Portugal it seems to be not uncommon to leave food out outside for stray and outdoor cats.
And I was surprised a bit by the cats up there, but peacocks! I had no idea.

Nice slab of a table with benches.

Again, the place had a nice visual complexity.

And I love the cobblestones

More tiles. Not the best ones they had, but orange. (Miss you Amber!)

More architecture.

I'm not sure what my camera was focusing on, but I like how this one came out.

Elevador de Santa Justa - odd little thing to see...

Man, where can I rent one of these?

Skater gal outside a the Archaeological Museum...

More graffiti.

Bye, castle...

More graffiti, back near Johnny's...

You know, if you're gonna name a car "Picasso", shouldn't you have a more creative distribution of wheels, steering column, gear shift, etc?

Johnny made Chickpea salad (Chickpeas and Tuna (or dried salted codfish), seasoned with Olive Oil, Vinegar, Onion, Salt, and Parsley. She didn't like how it came out but I thought it was super-tasty.

I cut the onions. I had the hardest time with this knife though-- luckily it wasn't super sharp because I kept using it backwards (!) Here the sharp side is on the left, and of course it's obvious if you're looking for it - but something about the general shape of the knife, the curve being on the dull side, was very confusing...

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/20/opinion/20cameron.html?_r=1 - "I want to ask if it is in your heart to forgive me. You don’t have to." and other last words on Texas' Death Row.

portugal: oceanáriotravel

September 22, 2009

--Not sure why such a Trek/Star Wars kick in my video backlog...

Photoblog of the Moment
So the day started off kind of oddly - we thought we had ordered tickets for me for a quick hop over to Madrid, but the airline didn't get the message, so after some fumbling with getting around the airpot I took a bus over to the Oriente area. Near the Metro stop I saw this brilliant tacky old-Mini Cooper...

With a matching limo. Sweet!

Man with Orange Tie (hi Amber!) Actually, Johnny pointed out that photos with people are more interesting than just architectural type photos.

Err, despite that, here's a boring old architectural photo, but I like the kind of Mediterranean colors.

I dunno, I just thought it interesting that "Real Indiana" would not make a good name for an Indian restaurant in the USA.

So I decided to spend the day at the Oceanário, the world's second biggest aquarium and Europe's largest. Also, in the back here is a Gondola ride I later took.

Heh, unlike Japan I haven't taken many photos of manhole covers...

Sea Monster art there.

There central aquarium is so big and beautiful. The theme is "One Ocean, One World" emphasizing the interconnectedness, and they say the tanks recreating all these different environments of the world are actually still connected, echoing the theme.

Even with sharks, this bruiser (Ocean sunfish aka Mahi-Mahi Mola-Mola thanks Leonard!) was probably the main attraction. It was amazing seeing him swim by.

Alcids! (Puffins are a type of those but these are a different type.)

So much dignity.

No wait, is that a Puffin after all?


...and another view of the bruiser.

Everyone loves Penguins. The signs said they're very proud of having a successful and breeding colony.

Johnny, who is on the verge of finishing up her thesis to become a vet, spent a year at the Oceanário - working with penguins and alcids! She says she was the first the penguins trusted enough to take food from her.

They mention for kids they have a "sleeping with sharks" program, where kids set up sleeping bags etc and drift off with these guys there. Sweet dreams kids!

A face only an ichthyologist could love.

The famous "dude vacuuming fish poo" fish.

It's also fun to watch the humans watching the fish.

Hard to duplicate the great sense of depth the central tank offered.

Actually, Monday is one of the feeding days, so I kind of lucked out.

Cool little shrimpy dude.

All done! There were some interesting tile patterns outside.

Interesting restroom symbol. Johnny thinks it might mean telling about co-ed kind of stalls... (maybe where parents can go in with children?)

The Oceanário is near the Expo '98 grounds, and there's some neat stuff, a lot of large scale exhiibits playing with water, music, and other enchanting and somewhat educational things.


They had these stepping stone paths.

One of the toys, filled with a slow moving viscous liquid you could see pour itself around the bits inside.

On the Gondola...

...view of the area.

Oddly sexy fountain...

And an interesting take on mermaids.

I was wondered if it was really ok to park a smart car sideways... guess so!

Interesting take on a hot dog, with pickled carrots, bacon, mayo and crispy bits. Texture- and flavor-wise it reminded me of that "kind of soba sandwich/taco on that styrofoam-like pink stuff you sometimes see at chinese restaurants" Osaka, Japan...

Took the metro back to Johnny's flat, and then we decided to head for a walk on the beach at Caparica... got my feet wet (kind of a ritual requirement for me when I'm oceanside even when the water is bracingly cold, like here) on this side of the Atlantic for the first time.

Johnny and her dog Papoila. She lives with 2 cats (one with only 3 legs after a 6 story fall) and this beauty, and I've never seen a more smoothly running pet-ish household.

Dunno why I like these trees so much, and the public art.

Old Aqueduct.

We ended with a nice meal. I got meat on a skewer. Damn but I love things grilled on skewers. She got fish eggs still in the ... like, wherever fish keep their eggs. But they're tiny tiny, not like caviar, just enough to make an interesting, faintly crumbly texture. Tasted good though especially with a bit of olive oil and lemon.

Finally we ended up going to an arts and crafts kind of minfair, maybe more of a bazaar...

Heh, had to love the "knickers as dreamcatchers" setup they used to display their wares...

Traditional Portuguese bags for groceries etc.

Finally tasty traditional Farturas (technically Porras), the traditional way for thees folks to get their necessary allotment of fairground fat-and-dough. I had mine filled with doce de leite...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/8201997.stm - hunting for fun/goofy leading economic indicators.

portugal: feira da ladra e cascaistravel

September 23, 2009

--skip to 1:00 or so

Photoblog of the Moment
Another beautiful day in Lisbon. Some youngish girls pointed out that today the Metro was free. And later I found out, so was the bus, and the train.

Anyway, my shadow with some modern art gracing a parking garage near Baixa-Chiado.

Portugal has some of the old trams kicking around. They seem to use them kind of interchangably with diesel and electric buses.

Random beautiful building out the window of the bus. Gorgeousness is everywhere in this city!

Another random and beautiful wall.

So my goal was "Feira da Ladra" - literally (in Spanglish) "Bandita's Fair" - a giant twice weekly flea market of sorts- (NB: Johnny objects strenuously to the use of Spanglish to translate when there is a perfectly good word "Bandida")

Lots of activity! It was pretty big.

Not atypical setup--

Presumably this cluster of women wasn't for sale, though they're kind of set out the same way.

The fair was in the shadow of the National Pantheon (was going to be a church 'til the money ran out) --

View up the Pantheon from the outside.

The Pantheon was almost an afterthought but man -- it was HUUUGE and GORGEOUS.

The dome at the top was so high up...

Amália was a much beloved singer who is entombed there, and they seemed to be having some kind of special exhibit about her, with a looping video presentation about half way up - here she is in an old ad.

So I climbed all the way up - this the view

There weren't many tourists there (maybe they realized quicker than I did that the outside patio was closed for repairs, so I missed another nice view of the city, but hey.) Still I had a nice moment sitting in the coolth, reviewing my plans with my copy of "Let's Go!", and listening to the kind of haunting echoes of Amália's fado.

Such a cute little car. Smells when it runs, though.

So after a little more getting lost I hopped on a (free!) train to Cascais, a nice little beach town. The train is treated a bit like the extension of the metro, I'd say: tickets are checked by automated gates, rather than onboard.

Palm-lined streets there.

Popped into the mall for some sunscreen. I think this is the outside of a cinema there.

I was a little stunned to see a Game Stop that was pretty much exactly the same as every other Game Stop in the world.

Sort of like holding the knife the wrong way, based on some expectations and visual cues, I almost got on the wrong escalator. I guess I'm really used to escalators set up so you can just turn the corner and go up the next one. Johnny says they're generally all like this in Portugal.

Ok, other bit of random culture: the new default shopping cart is this deep basket with wheels and a handle... it used to be regular carts or hand baskets only, this seems like a smart compromise.

I've seen this odd little module ice cream stores a lot of places as well.

Street entertainer, one of those pseudo-statue guys. He gives you a lolipop.

I saw this in downtown Lisbon as well - a street performer making big bubbles.

I think the beaches were more swimming-friendly a bit down the coast, but I pseudo-ritually got my feet wet.

Oh and the beach had pigeons.

I still dig the kind of yellow wall motif that shows up so much.

Flowering trees...

So, one of the big appeals of Cascais is "Boca do Inferno", "Hell's Mouth". They say you can hear the devil whispering in the sound of the waves splashing on rock. Here it looks like it took a bite out of the sign...

Oh, and roll-y billboards are pretty common around here, mostly I've seen them in malls and stuff in the states.

View from the back of Hell's Mouth.

Fishrmen doin' their fishermen thing.

Front of Hell's Mouth.


There was this little shaded nook I wanted to crawl into and read and listen to the water.

Unfortunately, instead of the devil whispering I mostly heard this woman yamering on her cellphone, so I figured it was time to move on.

Final view of the inside...

I liked this dog towel better when I thought the dog was wearing a little red and white party hat.

I don't know if this structure has a name, but I hope it translates as "heck's mouth".

Odd, minimalist car dealership.

Cute red car though.

This Eau de Toilette bottle was just sitting there. And it was labeled "Alone" appropriately enough.

Woman regarding some modern art outside the fortress. I liked how her hat kind of reflects the art.

The smart car "forfour". Not sure I get the point.

I decided it would be clever to walk through the shady streets and of course got lost. Again.

Heheh. "Beer boutique".

Oh so THAT'S why all the trains etc were free...

I don't know if it's Portuguese or European or just a city thing, but I love the small elevators here, with each floor having a rather normal door that you just you know, open - there's no extra safety door, but it's well put together so you don't really have to worry getting a finger caught or anything. Here is a horrible and useless picture of it.

From space, astronauts can see people making love as a tiny speck of light. Not light, exactly, but a glow that could be mistaken for light--a coital radiance that takes generations to pour like honey through the darkness to the astronaut's eyes.

In about one and a half centuries--after the lovers who made the glow will have long since been laid permanently on their backs--metropolises will be seen from space. They will glow all year. Smaller cities will also be seen, but with great difficulty. Shtetls will be virtually impossible to spot. Individual couples, invisible.

The glow is born from the sum of thousands of loves: newlyweds and teenagers who spark like lighters out of butane, pairs of men who burn fast and bright, pairs of women who illuminate for hours with soft multiple glows, orgies like rock and flint toys sold at festivals, couples trying unsuccessfully to have children who burn their frustrated image on the continent like the bloom a bright light leaves on the eye after you turn away from it.

--Jonathan Safran Foer, "Everything is Illuminated"
"You've gotta choose people who aren't much more motivated than you are — but don't surround yourself with total narcissists. Otherwise, things start to be about something other than you."

portugal: évoratravel

September 24, 2009

MOMWARNING: Very, very weird, and just a tad homoerotic. But fun!

Photoblog of the Moment
Évora was the destination today... another rise around dawn and tons of tromping around.

My camera battery started giving warnings early on, so I used the foggy glass viewfinder all day - everything looked like a crappy old postcard, and it was tough to frame things correctly. Don't know if that will show up for other people in the day's set--

Football stadium near Johnny's flat- parking at her place is fun on game nights.

Interesting comic-ish mural at Oriente station.

Oriente train station has some very cool architecture, and the whole place has this sci-fi vibe. The word "Oriente" means Eastern, like our "Orient" and a few times when I've actually used the sun to navigate, I figure that must be where the word comes from...

Capela dos Ossos - the "Chapel of Bones" - "We bones here, for yours await" (WARNING: spooky stuff awaits...)

AAHH! The cleaning lady!

Seriously, this place is the ultimate Memento Mori...

A translation of a poem by Padre António da Ascenção posted there:
Where are you going in such a hurry traveler?
Pause ... do not advance your travel;
You have no greater concern,
Than this one: that on which you focus your sight.
Recall how many have passed from this world,
Reflect on your similar end,
There is good reason to reflect
If only all did the same.
Ponder, you so influenced by fate,
Among all the many concerns of the world,
So little do you reflect on death;
If by chance you glance at this place,
Stop … for the sake of your journey,
The more you pause, the further on your journey you will be.

Saint Francis Church, and the path to that chapel.

The inside of St. Francis was huge and breathtaking.

St. Theresa -

Hit of stained glass light -

Squat toilets near the public garden. Word of these in Portugal and not, say, North Africa dismays Johnny.

Roman ruins abound this town. Actually the whole town is an exercise in building towns on top of other towns.

Just a note, this is how they label streets in Portugal, on the side of buildings on the corner.

"Temple of Diana", though every guidebook is way too quick to point out that it probably was just dedicate to the general imperial cult, not Diana.

The Graça church!

With figures of Atlas. They have 4 of 'em there!

Incidentally, these little ice cream freezers are everywhere here (or at least in all the touristy bits) I think I remember that from last time I was here. (Heh, the closest thing I've seen in the USA are those "Circus Time" or something ones up in Boston 'burbs, kind of ghetto.)

I took an audio walking tour, which made me feel like a bit of a tool, but I learned more than I would have otherwise.

Guy at the university...

Random fountain at a traffic roundabout. I was kind of bummed you couldn't really go up to it.

It's good to be king, baby!

So it was a day of gentle(ish) hazing for students beginning university... lots of marching hand-on-shoulder, singing this one song to the tune of "Oh when the saints", etc etc...

They were bossed around by older students in suits and capes.

The Cathedral of Évora -

- they let you walk around the roof of it, for reals!

Beautiful view up there. I found a shady spot and read for a bit.

Hi there! (You know, I kind of dig offering to take a picture of a couple together who are taking photos of each other, and then seeing how their shot of me comes out.)

So, yeah, another building of outstanding age and tremendous beauty, yadda yadda. No, I kid, it was pretty neat, but I was cranky I couldn't take photos of the art and stuff.

My train ticket was for pretty late, so I had some time to kill. One of the discoveries I made was this nifty small gallery of great moments in design, the collection of Paulo Parra...

Heh, would Lego feel different if it came in neat boxes like that?

The gallery was in an old chapel - I'm sure the proximity of this to the old sacred relics was deliberate.

Bye town square! And good bye camera battery - everything after this I took with my iPhone.

Super Bock is the big local beer. Johnny says it has a great reputation - at first I thought it was a bit thin, but I kind of warmed up to it.

At the train station, it was kind of funny how the guy just climbed in and - you know, started up the train. I don't know why that struck me as strange, to start a truck kinda like a big old diesel truck, but still.

We set a course for a lovely sunset.

I guess it's rude to take photos of strangers without getting permission, but I just loved the relaxed pose of these girls heading home on the subway.

Finally, for no particular reasons, 3 fire hydrants (2 from earlier in the day)

portugal: torre de belém e marcostravel

September 25, 2009

--Thanks to the (maybe meanspirited?) People of Walmart site, many many more people now know the inexplicable video genius of RickyTic3

Photoblog of the Moment
A more lowkey day today, after all the hiking around I kind of needed it.

Pigeons in the park...

We went for a drive to Johnny's university, so she could hand in a revision of her veterinary thesis (she showed it to me, and the image of the post-surgery albino rat was... really something. Like a Zombie Rat from Beyond the Grave...) Anyway, I was surprised to see so much woodland so near Lisbon.

Johnny reports that these are hookers!

The view from the vet school was awesome, the river, the bridge...

...the monastery, I think she said.

Johnny reports many, many hours studying at this table.

Interesting Coke Light can.

But it can't all be Diet Coke cans - they have lovely trees as well!

Monument honoring a Portugal->Brazil plane trip.

Belém Tower was the main stop here, this excellent old sea fortification. ("Belém" is Bethlehem in Portuguese.) It used to have cannons and guarded the river.

Recognized the stone crest from the flag, I think...

Again just some neat stone work.

Reproduction of an old engraving of a rhinoceros.

I like the dark/light stone tiles. and the light in this one.

The funny thing was, there was only one skinny spiral staircase up and down, so groups of tourists had to form trains to withstand the trffic jams.

Pretty view up top.

Johnny's car is down there, along in the distance is a monument celebrating the Portuguese explorers and sense of exploration.

View down the other way.

The little turrets for people to sit and keep watch...

Hi there.

This was one of the best smelling monuments I've seen 'cause it smells like the beach. And I don't know all the words but who doesn't know the language of a heart written on sand?

Model of the place, for a different perspective.

Again, I dig this bridge-

It's so big, the trucks look so small on it.

Pink buildings-

Roadside graffiti-

More interestingly colored buildings.

Johnny outside her flat... at this point I'm getting ready to bid her a grateful adieu...

...waiting for Marcos outside the Telheiras Metro

My mom and I hosted Marcos for a year of AFS back in Cleveland, '91-'92. And somewhere along the way he became a very decent cook--

He grilled pork and beef and veggies on some electric grills outside.

His house, where he lives with Eliane and their two kids, in a neighborhood right by the top of the aquaduct and right under the planes, is very nifty, with a courtyard with a small pool. I'm standing on the guest bedroom, and in front of an office they're renovating- I'm so jealous they live in a place where you can sensibly have part of your house just open to the sky...

Handsome devil, Marcos.

We chatted pretty late, but we had a little help...

...in case you couldn't tell.

SPECIAL BONUS Alright, photos not taken by me, to placate "Secret Admirer" (and beause Johnny feels bad for vetoing the results of my attempt to get a "family portrait")

J.I.P., Hum-Hum (pronounced "Whom" but with the Hanukkah-style H), and Papoila--

Same beach we were at this week...

Papoila has an endearing habit of attempting to dig for Tibet when at the beach--

Botswanan roads are famous for having big potholes and big wildlife to avoid. There's a joke among South African overland drivers: if you see two eyes in the middle of the road while driving through Botswana at night, chances are it's a giraffe standing in a pothole.
--Conor Woodman "The Adventure Capitalist"

portugal: berardo museum / aqueduct / bicatravel

September 26, 2009

--from a Series of Video Game makeovers. Would be fun to use graphics like this in a real game.

Photoblog of the Moment
My antepenultimate morning in Portugal! That pretty much stretched right into my penultimate morning in Portugal...
Breakfast, rolls with cheese and/or nutella-

I guess Marcos' street can be pretty quiet...

So Marcos and I set out for the "Berardo Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art". Here is an action shot of a tram he liked...

I think this is the monastary--

Amber-- DISASTER FILM! (I actually have little idea what that's about.)

Marcos thought the architecture blended in with the area well - actually this is kind of across the street from the Bethlehem Tower.

Abstract work of green glass outside the museum,

or rather, of many wine bottles-

A call to arms to create!

"Google Plane" had a sky painte underneath and aeriel shots of the ground painted on top. This is where a helpful guy told us that while the area is littered with banners mentioning the free ticket nature of Berardo, it's not actually, you know, available as they switch stuff around over this month.

Its ok though - one of the exhibits they did have was "quick, quick, slow" (and a right sexy name for an exhibit that is), a part of a multi-site "EXD'09 Experimental Design" set of exhibits. "quick, quick, slow", subtitled "word, image, and time" had some cool historical bits as well as some web- and java-based things not unlike some of the Java processing stuff I do. You can see this Calendar that John Maeda made for Shiseido in 1997. (I need to check out the rest of his site)

One of the historical pieces, this one was showing the divorce rate in German in the first part of the 20th century.

Another one of those things you could see online - it had a potentially interesting study in historical and comissioned screensavers, but as soon as you wiggled the mouse it just went back to this not so interesting page, with some links.

They also had a collection of great movie opening credits, from "North by Northwest" to "Lost in Translation". Back in the lobby, I liked how they showed what you can and can't do in the place.

Then we had lunch with Marcos' best friend Diogo... the riverside restaurant had a great setting.

Man, rental scooters - you'd have to be a bit brave to take one of those around town I think.

We happened to see his kids heading home with the sitter so we gave them a lift... sleepy family moment.

Then Marcos and I set out to see the aqueduct from the top--

It's kind of nice how it curves along. There were just too sleepy park guard types at one end, I'm sort of surprised its not more popular, but then again, maybe not.

At one point because of some construction you have to duck inside and go across.

Overlooking the town

Nice views.

Looked like a model trainset...

Coming back the sky looked threatening, but you know, I've never seen rain in Portugal.

Door art.

Dunno what kind of berries these are--

Ahh, beautiful time to lay back and watch the planes...

Ok, enough of that, time for futebol!

So for dinner, 10ish (it is striking how much more night-oriented life is here) we went to the restaurants and bars riverside. They had fish--

Marcos and Eliane--

It was under the bridge - the howl of the traffic was something. As were the fish...

These fish are the river's equivalent of scroungy pigeons or rats--

So we came home, then around midnight it was time to head out. We met up with his older brother Manuel and HIS friend Diogo, and then we went to Bica-- I think this is the "Elevador da Bica" for the long and steep-ish street. Most of the life seems to be spilled out on the street, as you can kind of see behind the trolley.

Marcos, Diogo.

In one of the bars, they had one of those claw machines, but it was crumpled up, original signed and numbered artwork.


Working the crowd was a guy selling veggie burgers...

Alright, time to look for another bar.

Entrance to the next place was kind of under the bridge--

Not many worthwhile shots from inside, where it some kind of book launch party was wrapping up, but by the time we were done it was - yees, 4?

We had to go walk for Marcos' car--

but we'd have to rush back / to the towns best baker / to get the first bread of the morning / there's more to life than this...

...for example, at the other bakers, there are those super tasty Berliner-type dounts.

Marcos family has an apartment right next to brilliant poet Fernando Pessoa, he of the Heteronyms...

http://www.universityonyouthanddevelopment.org/ - Marcos set this up, with his role in the Council of Europe (sort of a non-defunct European League of Nations)

portugal: sintratravel

September 27, 2009

--Best Fight Scene Ever? Cracked has analysis and a few other candidates

Photoblog of the Moment
My final day in Portugal! Marcos and I decided to hit Sintra.

Saturday morning cartoons - this one seemed pretty good, sort of a "fantastic voyage" thing, here I think they're exploring follicles and goosebumps.

Random Portugal: these bookshelves seemed rather popular (read: I saw them both at Marcos' and Johnny's), along with those kind of folders for magazines and papers and stuff.

My own footsteps outside the bath amused me.

It's nice being easily amused.

Yo Dawg, I heard you like garage doors...

Random Portugal: you order "café", espresso is the default.

Random Portugal: I think the European standard plug might make more sense than the American/Japan. It just seems more durable.

Plus, you can have light, non-grounded versions.

At the museum yesterday I boguht a book about "Contemporary Photography as Art" so now I'm all pretentious.

One thing I forgot to mention is, political season is in full swing here - todays the "day of reflection", the day between when all campaigns have to be ended and the voting on Sunday. Here are some of the party billboards:


So today was the highup attractions of Sintra. Marcos mentioned that the mountain the palace is on has its own microclimate.

But before we tackle the castle, lets see the toy museum! It was kind of dominated by Playmobil.

Marcos was really taken by the floor of toy soliders... actually, many of the photos from here on him were by him.

Man, that man ruined a perfectly reasonable mustache option, forever. Among other things.

A cleansing dash of Boy Scouts.

Soldiers of ancient times were also present. Lots of action here.

And the Egyptians

And naked cavewoman???

Oh, come on! You can't fight with your junk all out in the open like that!

Game about getting to heaven, I think.

Marcos points out dolls can be really, really creepy.

And creepily gothy.


They had a neat model of a German town on the ground floor (and, yeah, Portugal and all of Europe #s its floors starting with "zero", which appeals to the computer geek in me)

Overhead view.

You know what this world needed? Vodka in a tube.

So we grabbed the bus up the road. The winding road had hairpin turns everywhere, the driver was kind of amazing.

Even at the end of the bus line, there was plenty of climbing to be done. The photo doesn't show it well, but the foliage is this crazy blend from all over the world.

The castle is a nice blend as well.

Kind of expensive though, and the high cost relative to other just as interesting things combined with their "don't photograph anything inside" shtick made me cranky, as you can see here.

And here.

Crocodile gargoyle?

The view was expansive.

Only in Japan had I previously seen hills that fade into the mist like in the game "Koronis Rift".


Marcos lookin' like he owns the place.

Kirk lookin' like... I dunno, an angry genie?

Deft kitty.

See ya later, castle.

Cheese-based sweet - "queijadas de Sintra" - the area is known for - awesome, especially the crispy texture of the outer crust.

Here kitty kitty...

The Salvation Army!

Castle in the distance.

Guess it's always nice to see construction during economic down times. The Portuguese just refer to it as "the crisis". (One T-shirt on Bica street last night said "F*** the Crisis", sans the *s)

Finally back home, we watched Marcos' and his son's favorite team "Sporting Lisbon" take on Porto - here's Tomás right before Porto's single and deciding goal.
Tomás and Laura dressed in team colors.

Tomás' pretty inventive maneuver to retrieve the pool'd ball.

Jeez those are cute kids!

portugal: back to bostontravel

September 28, 2009

--100 years of Special FX (via via BB - click either the movie or that link to get to a list of the fims)

Photoblog of the Moment
Home again, home again.
Again I wish I knew why footprints amuse me so.

Again, I wish I knew why having an active communist party (getting a solid 8-9% of the vote, though with a demographic that is skewing older) fascinates me so.

Again, I wish I knew why airplanes grab my attention so.

I know I shouldn't be taking so many photos in airports, lest I look like a security risk. Still, the way they had all the planes lined up in the open was neat. A sign claimed that some kind of regulation forces them to have the shuttlebus system, I was wondering what the issue was.

This is the new "Flight Connections" logo for Heathrow. (On one video screen I saw an older version where the planes are both level)

...the thing is, Heathrow, at smaller scales those planes totally look like moose antlers.

I again was a moron about my flight times, and had a totally gratuitous amount of layover at Heathrow. I guess I was thining that I wanted to arrive in Boston as late as possible in order to have a bit more time in Portugal, but, duh, I just ended up with a longer layover in Heathrow, having arrived in plenty of time to see an earlier British Airways Flight to Boston head out. At least the gate had a nice view of the airfield.
Some random notes: And now, back to the grindstone. But my Ottawa trip got canceled, so it's not as bad as all that.
"Woman in Central Square wearing pajamas and reading cable TV manual loudly. If she were in Harvard Square, it would be performance art."
"I love my puppy ... I love that he is so young and full of life ... And that he will still die first."
-- http://www.asofterworld.com/index.php?id=480
"Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad: whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen."
--John le Carre, "The Chancellor Who Agreed To Play Spy", The New York Times, May 8, 1974

portugal 2009travel

September 29, 2009

Table of Contents for my vacation to Portugal ... (by coincidence, exactly a year and a half after my Japan wrapup)


calling london




castle of são jorge




feira da ladra e cascais




torre de belém e marcos


berardo / aqueduct / bica




back to boston

http://gawker.com/5369364/william-safires-finest-speech - the speech ready if the Apollo moon landing had left the astronauts stranded. RIP, William Safire.
"HULK feel pain, too! If Wolverine prick us with claws do Hulk not bleed green? If General Thunderbolt Ross tickle Hulk with Apache gunships do Hulk not throw tanks? If gamma bomb poison Hulk do we not become Hulk? And if Ducky ignore us for Kenya-born Nazi Commie, shall Hulk not weep like little Disney Princess?"
--excerpt from The Incredible Merchant of Venice: Merchants of MENACE!, Stan Lee Shakespeare, pub. 1596 (via Bill http://www.thoughtviper.com/newest.html )
"Hi Kirk, Hope you are doing in the best of the mood!!" -- random recruiter spam to me. Nice to see the recruiters out I guess...
dumb kosher-ness thought: babies drinking breast milk. Isn't that like drinking milk from a bottle made of meat? (Some googling explains breast milks is pareve, ok to eat with meat or dairy)


(1 comment)
September 30, 2009

--Maybe not as definitive/accepted as it implies, still an interest mind-expander in how dimensions might work - via