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Saturday, 12 November 2016

Trump money

I thought I'd just visit my blog, maybe restart my engines...and don't worry, as usual I'm not really going for all serious here.  This post is mostly all about how we can all profit from the recent election result.  Kind of.  I must apologize for the wall of text look, I've momentarily become disconnected from my understanding of how to get pictures into a post.  I will sort that out later, but first I wanted to connect you to a future of ease and wealth.  I'm just that kind of guy.

I'm pretty sure there is not a single original thought left to think about that whole Trump thing....except maybe these:

When I think about how rich I would now be if I had gathered every penny I could beg borrow or steal 18 months or so ago and bet it on Trump being president, it makes me cry.  Guys must be jumping from balconies in Vegas this week.  It also makes me wonder what crazily improbable Trump related thing I could now begin rounding up cash to bet on.  I'm sure assassination and impeachment are already taking money now, but probably not on fantastic odds.  How about a Nobel Prize, for the advancement of democracy?  I'd guess the odds are long, but here's my theory on why that could be a good bet:  

First, the reason he got elected is because the entire government system in the States has ignored the state of its population for way too long, both in terms of things that people are concerned about and the general population's inability to participate.  I mean, the education system is so bankrupt I bet a huge percentage of Americans have no idea how even the basics of their government works, so how could they possibly not be suspicious and disconnected?  The theory here goes that Trump's election and maybe his subsequent behaviour will be such a shock to the whole country that both parties will wake up to the "by the people for the people" part and stop screwing around inside their incestuous little world that no one else can see into.  Maybe they'll realize that democracies need informed participants, and that "information" may equate to "education" and the ability to think critically, or at all, and that if they can't make the peasants feel like part of things a guy like Trump will have the peasants tear them limb from limb.  That's what fascist demagogues do, after all.  So if those changes happen and he gets credit/blame, maybe he should get a prize, because right now the world is a dangerously ignorant place.

Next, the Outlier theory.  It's only nut cases like Trump that make big giant changes.  Often those changes are really stupid or violent or destructive, but sometimes they're life-changingly positive, even if only by accident.  The point is, it's only guys like him who ever get far enough out there to even think about some of the really "crazy" stuff that the usual suspects would never imagine, let alone venture to pursue.  So maybe, if if the world doesn't go up in smoke because of him, something amazing will come out of it and we'll all think "Wow, never saw THAT coming!"....just like this election result.  So he could do something amazing and get a Prize for that.

I feel like this could be it, the real ticket, the big win we've all been looking for.  So, get out the credit card and place your bet.  We could all be rich in a few years.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Munich, Bavaria

...or, Maybe It's NOT Just About the Beer, After All.

This was the end point of my big fat European vacation, so by now I was supposed to be a jaded world traveler for whom antiquities and local food held no further charm. If that's so, I guess that goes into the books as another target missed, because Munich was great.

The big draw for us, or at least the part that people respond to most, was that we got to go to Oktoberfest. You know, lederhosen, dirndels, big giant beers served to boisterous crowds by fetching milkmaids with arms like ironmongers. It was all there - we had the beer, we ate the schnitzel, we saw the drunks. 7.2 million litres of beer consumed over the course of the festival. I haven't seen stats on tons of sausage or gallons of vomit, but based on casual observation I'm sure both are similarly impressive.

Two pithy observations on Oktoberfest: First, we certainly saw a lot of evidence that Germans are no better at drinking a lot of beer than anyone else - they get just as drunk as everyone else. What we did not see was people fighting or smashing things or generally misbehaving. I'm pretty sure if you released an extra 7.2 million litres of beer over two weeks or whatever Oktoberfest runs into the Lower Mainland, there would lots of exciting video for the evening news - smashing, burning, killing, pillaging, state of emergency, army called in, planes falling from the sky, etc. No idea how they avoid that there. Maybe there's another city no one knows about in Germany where all that happens, but not in Munich.

Throngs at Oktoberfest.  Note the large guy and woman to his right in traditional garb scarfing schnitzel.  Also note the Ferris wheel in the background.  Hey, awesome idea!  Let's serve thousands of people a lot of greasy food and WAY too much beer and then offer them a midway all full of spinning rides!  What could possibly go wrong?

My trophy shot from Munich - one of the permanent beer halls.  No way to get a seat in here, and I heard dark rumours about how some people avoid losing their seats in here when they have to go to the bathroom... 

Exterior shot of another permanent hall, across the street from that one above.  We sat outside with all these other people.
This long (and orderly and well-behaved) washroom lineup accounts for the seedy seat-saving practices I heard rumour of...

The other thing we saw was a lot of people wearing the costume during the day, going to Halloween here except there's only one costume.

This was the Munich train station on a weekday, I can't remember what time of day, but I think mid-afternoon.  See the guys in lederhosen moving away from the camera on the right?  The woman coming towards it just to the right of that?  And although I know I give the impression of carefully planning every shot (call me about farmland near Phoenix if you believe that) this really was just a random "this is the train station" picture.
So there's more to it than just the really is a cultural celebration of long-held values around simplicity, community, hard work, fellowship. We spoke to a German our age who talked a bit wistfully about coming to Oktoberfest in the old days with her friends, and how none of them come anymore. In retrospect I wondered if she meant "they don't come anymore since reunification and the huge influx of clueless tourists I'm sitting in the middle of now".  Perhaps they don't come anymore because a lifetime of Oktoberfesting means you're pretty much done at our age.

Of course Munich has a lot of other great things, only some of which we had time to see. The old city hall, where twice a day for about 800 years, after a long musical buildup, a full size mechanical knight on horseback wearing Bavarian colours kicks butt on another knight in the colours of Saxony - we're talking serious regional rivalries, here. The palace of Ludwig I, father of Ludwig II, aka Ludwig the Mad, to whom Tourism Deutchslande is eternally grateful for all those fairytale castles. Hitler got a lot of traction at rallies in the plaza in his early days, too. Great churches old and new.

Lit up, evening time...I read the plaque but failed to record it, so you may speculate freely on who this is built to the glory of...

Just more detail on the front door of the church above...maybe you can read the plaques.  No, don't try, you can't,

Terrible night shot of a modern take on the bell tower.

The fountain at the foot of that modern church in the shot above.  Changing lights, very pretty.  Chilly, though.

A different, older, anonymous to me (didn't even read and then forget the plaque) church, whose lighting specialist apparently decided that grandeur = spooky.
 Public transit that is comprehendable even to non-German speakers labouring under several liters of Oktoberfest. The Hofbrauhaus, a permanent beer hall/brewery since 1516, another place where the brownshirts had exciting speaking engagements in the old days. Dunkelbier (dark beer).

This place has been here since something like 1513, and they continue to brew right on the premises.  The oompah-pah band has amplifiers but at least they really are playing....probably 7X24.  This is in downtown Munich, not on the grounds of the Oktoberfest.

A dreamy mall built into buildings that are really old in downtown Munchen.  Very expensive shops in here. 

Okay, sorry, I couldn't help it.  These are just juicers that remind me of "War of the Worlds".  They're not even that expensive.

And that was it!  I flew home from here the next day.  Probably took everyone almost as long to wade through all these posts as the three weeks it took to have all that fun in all those cities:  Nuremberg, Leipzig, Berlin, Riccione, Verona, Munich....friendly people, beautiful cities, expensive food, highly recommended.  We can all breathe a big sigh of relief that THAT'S finally over, and I'll post something, anything, else next time.  But watch out because I'm going to the Grand Canyon and a bunch of other canyons later on this year...

Friday, 15 April 2016

Youth is Wasted, or...

...This Week in Gratitude!

This week, my friends Moby and Rich and I put a new laminate floor into the downstairs bedroom at Rich's house:
Just getting started - baseboards, casings, closet doors, carpet, underlay, and smoothedge all out, and those first fussy few courses in...
This same week, Rich got a new scanner, which he has been using to kind of pay a little back on the floor job, although he so doesn't need to. The upshot of that has been a trip down Memory Lane, going through slides and pictures from millions of years ago, for him to scan and clean up.

I'm not so sure whether you recall at all what I look like now, but this is what I looked like about  37 years ago: 
From my eponymous LP album cover in about '79 (retouched by Rich)

Sorry about the quality, this is just a photo of a photo to compare with the guy two pictures down.  Somebody told me this looks like my Chuck Norris phase.  Chuck Norris should be so lucky.

This is a picture of a car I used to own, the second car I had, parked in front of the house I grew up in: 
A '68 Volvo 142S...much better than the '59 Morris Oxford Estate Wagon that preceded it, although the Estate Wagon had cool options like the ability to do a hand-crank start.
This is me in front of that same car the day after I totalled it after hitting some frost in a shady patch on the way to King George Park in mid-October about 1975, when I was 18:
Check out the little bit of cedar tree lodged in where the back window used to be...all glass broken, three tires flattened, jeans I had been wearing eaten by battery acid...

I look all serious because I had had no idea what a mess it was.  The guy at the gas station didn't know it was my car and told me he was pretty sure whoever was in it was dead.  I wasn't wearing a seatbelt - my foot got caught between the brake and clutch pedals and I guess that held me in inside the car while it did a couple of end-over-end rolls (I remember the first one) and then several "normal" rolls.  I remember waking up in it, upside down, and crawling out.  Then I was tired and needed a rest.  I had a concussion and a cut in the back of my head where the back seat knocked me out. 

So, all things considered, and in spite of my complaints about things like sore aching hands, I'd say that having those complaints after a day laying floor with my two oldest best friends 40 years after those pictures doesn't seem like such a bad deal.  That was my little reminder/learning moment this week.

Lighter note: here's another old pic from way back there of McNulty on the left, another actor named Keller, and me. I told those guys I wanted this picture posted (which in those days meant taped to the fridge)  because the people who came to the parties McNulty threw at our house never knew who I was or why I was there. The picture didn't really solve that problem but it was fun.
We were supposed to be looking assertive