First NZ, Then Chile and Canada...Now Thailand

Language butchery by Mr Rich on  27.2.06 @ 13:10

Madame Librarian sent me this today. It's official...I can bring down governments. Click on the link to navigate to the article:

Thai crisis deepens with opposition election boycott
BANGKOK (AFP) - Thailand was pushed deeper into political crisis when the main opposition parties said they would boycott a snap election called by embattled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Jeez...one would think I could apply my special powers in my own country.

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Fotos de Caracas y Venezuela, etc. etc.

Language butchery by Mr Rich on  26.2.06 @ 14:05

Well all, a strange thing happend to me on Thursday: ¡Comencé a entender a la gente que habla en español! ¡Mi Dios!

Wow. I never thought that would happen. Being immersed does help, I must admit. I guess I really should have listened to my father when I was growing up. He kept telling me to learn Spanish. But then again, I knew everything back then.

I've got some photographs of Caracas and other things. Here's a breif tour. Click on the pictures to see the full size images:

This is the Carribean sea as viewed from the ruta desde inferno. This is the only practical way to get from the airport to Caracas. It's a bit weird considering that Caracas is a city of more than 5 million people.

You need a four wheel drive truck with a fairly decent ground clearance to pass this road. Even weirder is that the road is mostly paved. There were only a few spots where the concrete was worn away, or was being replaced. Why the 4-low then? The slope. The road was so steep that low gear was necessary (and in first or second gear at that).

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This is what Caracas looks like from the top of the pass on ruta desde inferno.

Awwww...it looks so peaceful!

You would never guess that this is the home of Hugo Sucio (Dirty Hugo)...and no, I don't mean Chavez! Pat Robertson tiene mierda para sesos (George W tambien). No, I mean the armed guys who guard the parking, the restraunts, and the hotels. OMIGOD! Seeing someone with a sawed off shotgun guarding the entrance to a restraunt is just bizarre.

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This is the world famous trafico de Caracas! New York and L.A. aint got shit on Caracas. Gas is cheap and public transit sucks. Get your car, and prepare to spend some quality time in it.

I shot this photo from the hotel room , hence the distortion. The window played hell with the shot. But if you think this is bad, you should have seen the motorway. It would have blown your mind. En Caracas, no hay autopista. Solamente estacionamiento. Everyone was tooting their horns, waving their fists, and yelling "¡Movas el culo!"

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And what would a posting from me be without a mention of toilets of the world? I wasn't kidding when I said the water from the bidet could hit the ceiling.

And yes, I did spell bidet as "bidai" in previous postings. So much for French in high school.

What was really wierd was that this was the only device in the hotel room that had any water pressure whatsoever. Seriously. The shower was a drizzle, and it took a full minute to fill the coffee pot in the morning. I guess you have to have your priorities in line, eh?

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As for hotel being truly full service, I wasn't kidding. Here is the photographic evidence.

The Photo on the left shows the minibar portion of the hotel. Yep, they had just about everything you could want: Chilean wine, chocolate, and liquor. But notice what is placed along the back of the tray.

There is an enlargement on the right.

Yep, Larry Flint must own the place. If you don't know who Larry Flint is, head over to www (dot) hustler (dot) com and you'll find out real quickly. Just don't head over there when you are at work... (No vaya a www (punto) hustler (punto) com cuando tu está en el trabajo. ¡Muy, muy malo!).

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So all in all it was an interesting week. I didn't get shot, and I got to eat areapas. Next stop: Bangkok! Yep, I will be heading through the airport turnstyle sideways...

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Up To my ears in Shit

Language butchery by redhotknitter on  21.2.06 @ 18:15

Rich asked me to share this with the world, so here goes:

Guess how I spent my morning? The toilet blew up (literally water spraying and shit flying). I couldn't get the water shut-off to turn. I was drowning in water and shit. I pulled off the lid and pulled up the lever thingee. But it only shut off the water if I stood there.

Argh.

Water was flowing into the living room at this point. With shit.

Did I mention the shit that was everywhere?

I ran for towels. The water shut off when it reached the right height. I plunged and plunged and plunged. Flushed. Flowing water. Screaming and swearing at this point.

Water and no towels.

No Rich.

I called the plumber. While I was waiting I started mopping up shit and water.

Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit everywhere. On the walls on the floor on me.

Yay shit.

I mopped and mopped and swore and tried not to cry. Did I mention shit everywhere?

After 50 long minutes, the floor was almost all mopped up and the plumber shows up. He snakes the toilet. Asks some questions. Fixes said toilet and leaves (seems the water in the tank was too low and not creating enough pressure to force the shit through the pipes).

$77.00 later. (And a call to the landlord--how do you tell the story without using the word shit?) I'm still in the shit...

...but at least I can finish taking one.

There is still shit everywhere. I get the floor unflooded. Start load of towels load one. How much bleach is too much? Who cares, use a lot. There was shit on them. SHIT. I finish with the other towels. Get them out to the washer. I start bleaching everything the shit hit. It is another shitter hitter. Is there enought bleach in the house? Hmmmm. Maybe not.

I have bleached everything. Twice. Is that enough? I hope so. Onto Lysol. It kills 99% of germs on contact. Love Lysol. I'm waiting for the laundry to finish so that I can shower before running load 2. Of three.

The next person who asks if it bugs me when Rich is gone is going to hear, "Only when the shit is flying."

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Slogan for Continental Airlines

Language butchery by Mr Rich on  20.2.06 @ 19:05

Today my travel agent got a kick. She found out just how fucked up a flight itenerary can be. On the positive side, she called everyone involved and made sure that I could get home.

Jumpin Jesus on a pogo stick!!

So the actual slogan for Contiental Airlines is "work hard..fly right"

Bullshit.

Were it not for the 24 hour travel agent and un-tied customer service, I would have been screwed.

That means that I wouldn't have had the following experiences:

- Sitting next to the worst seat on an international flight. The seat I had was in the very last row. My knees touched the seat in front. My seat did not lean back. When the guy in front of me leaned back, I wanted to tell him, "I'm not that kind of boy.". At least I had the aisle seat...the worst seat on the plane was the middle seat. Like I said...I sat next to the worst seat.

- Dirty Hugo. Every restraunt I have visited thus far has been ushered by armed security. One guy had two 44 magnums - one on each hip. The other had a sawed off 20 gauge shotgun on his hip.

- La Autopista Montanya (no "en-yay" on the crackberry) desde Vargas a Caracas. This lovely road is the fastest way from the airport to the city. It is the only paved road I have ever been on that requires four wheel drive - and low gear on the transfer case at that! We went over the mountains from the airport to Caracas because the bridge on the main highway is down for the next year.

Such is the joy of travelling....

On the plus side, I'm staying the only hotel I have ever been in that offers condoms and cigarettes along with Johhny Walker in the mini bar. The bathroom is also worthy of my "toilets of the world" picture series. When you turn on the bedai (excuse the spelling), the water hits the ceiling. Eat your heart out Super Loo!

Rubbers, liquor, and a bedai. Larry Flint must own this place...

So, in closing, "Saludos desde Caracas!"

Oh yeah...the slogan for Continental Airlines (ala Rich): Incompetence you can count on!


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Airline Slogans

Language butchery by Mr Rich on  18.2.06 @ 17:39

I'm trying to work out a slogan for Continental Airlines. It needs to be in the spirit of the other airline slogans:

* America West: "Least effort possible"
* Southwest: "Share a sardine can with the great unwashed"
*United: Un-tied Airlines
* Ted: "Have a Southwest experience on United"

Why, you ask, does Continental deserve such an honor?

Well, a funny thing happened to me on the way to Caracas this morning. It had been a while since I've had a major travel crisis.

Past crisises have included the Tampa two-step - stop the plane or I'll iron your clothes incident (Mom, please find that and forward it on). Then we have losing paper tickets in Washington DC (thank you again Aimee). There must also be mention of the Santiago "propina creativas" incident (my boss chewed me out for using the word "bribe"). And of course, the "cellular pre-pago" incident where I feebly tried to negotiate the purchase of a mobile phone with very bad Spanish skills (I am still in Sr. Daniel's debt for his help on that one).

BTW: I've lost the write-up on that one. Can someone send it to me? I'd lose my ass if it weren't attached.

So back to today - destination: Caracas de Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela. Land of Dubbya's doppleganger on the left. Owner of Citgo oil.

Four weeks ago, I booked a ticket to this bastion of American and British sentimentality. I was supposed to leave on Sunday, 19 February. The itenerary was from Eugene to Denver, and Denver to Houston on United. From Houston to Caracas, I would be on Continental. I booked my ticket so I could get the necessary visa (remember Dubbya and El Presidente Chavez are bowling buddies).

All was grand, and I was to arrive to run the Caracas airport gauntlet (no kidding - see the consular info sheets at http://travel.state.gov ) at 23:00 on Sunday. Then our illusrtious airline Continental decided to change its schedule on flight 1666 (hmm...interesting last three digits) and get me into Caracas on Monday at 06:30. That wouldn't work - I had to be onsite at 08:00, and its a three hour drive from the Airport to the Hotel. Besides, it takes at least 30 minutes to get through la migra when you are a citizen of the country you are entering, let alone one that has a close working relationship with yours- like the US does with Venezuela.

If you haven't figured out the sarcasm yet, Dubbya and Chavez hate each other with a passion. The only reason that we probably haven't invaded yet is because Venezuela is a MAJOR supplier of cheap oil to the US. Well, that and we are too busy trying to get another major supplier of oil to be our buddy. That relationship started when we decided to just make shit up and send in the troops.

(Music plays..) Hey now I don't give a damn, next stop is Vi....

Whoops, I digress. I should be careful, as the dipshit in chief may be listening in.

So I have a flight change that just isn't going to work anymore. This is why I have a travel agent. I call her, she fixes it, I go off to la la land, etc. etc. Wendy is the best - she pulls rabbits out of hats all the time. It took her some time, but the itinerary was changed. She just moved everything to Saturday rather than Sunday to get down to Caracas. She did battle so that I didn't have to. The downside was that I lost an entire weekend, and it was a 20 hour transit time with an 8 hour layover in Dubbya's Daddy's airport. "What the hell," I figured.

Now at roughly the same time that Continental is fucking with me, I contact the site in Venezuela to introduce myself, get an agenda rolling and the ususal happy hose shit. I sent off an email saying hello, and I let him know what my flight itinerary was. A week later, I get a response. The guy was pissed that I had the nerve to book my own flight. How dare I! What's more he thinks that he can get it cheaper on his end. In reality, I had him beat by $200 US.

I replied back the same day, told him the flight was my perogative, and it had not been within the bounds of the visit for him to handle my travel. I did ask if he would like to book the hotel though.

Two weeks pass, it's Thursday, and I am leaving in less than 48 hours. Now he decides to do the hotel thing on his end. Jesus Christ!

So, the guy wants to play travel agent, eh? Fine. Two can play that game. He will be booking my April trip next week or I will. And after today, first class is looking REALLY good.

Needless to say, I really do not want to have to call this guy. He also has his armed security meeting me at the airport to boot. I really do not want to have to call the security guy either.

So Friday night, 17 Feb, I do my laundry and re-pack my bags. I got to bed at midnight, thinking I will make up the 4 hours of sleep I am going to get on tomorrow's flights. I was scheduled to leave Eugene at 06:00, which means I am up and at 'em at 04:00.

So I get to the airport this morning to go on the trip to Hades. When the gate agent opens up my res, he gets a funny look on his face.

"Hmm.." he says, "I can't see your flights or anything. Are you on a paper ticket?"

"No" I said. (I haven't screwed that pooch since DC)

He makes his obligatory phone call to whomever it is that they call when they are stumped, and they tell him the reservation is good, but all the flights are cancelled. It looks like when the flight was changed way back, the United legs of this trip were cancelled.

(Side note: Wendy my travel agent is not responsible for this cluster fuck. More about who is later)

Holy plane crashes Batman! This is fucked up. I begin to look for a bar that serves at 05:00. I need a drink, and its noon somewhere.

So while figuring out what my drinking options were (none...double fuck!), I called the 24 hour number for my travel agency. I have 45 minutes to make my flight. 30 minutes later, I get someone.

The person was nice, and very helpful. (I forget her name...we'll call her 24hr travel agent) She digs into it a bit further, and finds that Continental has taken over as the issuer of the ticket. What's more, Continental has me leaving on Sunday, the 19th so that I can connect in Houston, Saturday the 18th to go to Caracas.

Yes, you read the dates correctly. I was to leave home the day AFTER my connection left. What's more, United had me listed as cancelled, and only Continental could re-instate the ticket.

George Carlin would call this a Mongolian Cluster Fuck. Others would say I'm buggered sideways with a bargepole. I said, "¡por la concha que tiembla de la madre de Christo!" I was began to think I was about to go completely bat shit.

So, the travel agent calls Continental to smack heads around. I'm on hold, and chain smoking at this point. If push comes to shove, Delta has a route into Caracas today for $1600 US. But I would still have to call the end client (Sr. Last minute travel) and tell him the flight was different. Also, I might not be able to get the new costs covered under the Airline's "we fucked up" code of conduct.

With 5 minutes to go, the 24 hour travel agent comes back on the line and tells me to RUN to the UA counter. She has a reservartion number from Continental that was confirmed by United.

However, Continental fucked up again. Michaell Williams of Seattle was the name on that reservation. He is going to have a bad day as well--he thought he was going to LA.

Not any more - see you in Venezuela buddy! Misery loves company!

So, 10 minutes after my outbound flight closes, United finds the new reservation. The number had nothing to do with what Continental thought it was. So, its time for me to begin the offers of prostitution to get to Caracas today. I asked the ticket agent if she could help, while the travel agent (again, not Wendy - but almost as good) did her thing. I told them both I would bear THEIR children.

Humor can be good in these situations. You see, both the 24 hour travel agent, and the United ticket agent were female. I was already using the meek, humble, "let me kiss your ass" voice and mannerisms. Now I put on the puppy dog eyes and and tried willing myself to sweat.

It worked.

The gate agent saw my status on United, and called someone who gave a shit at corporate reservations. THEY called Continental and smacked heads. I have never had an airline do battle for me with another airline. I tought they all colluded to fuck with the lot of us in cattle class.

So here I am, on a Continental plane from Portland to Houston, and now with only a 3 hour lay-over in Houston.

...Maybe I should turn on the wireless to the email device I am writing this on, and see if cell phones really do make planes crash...

More from Caracas...this week looks like it's going to be HEAPS of fun!


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Yeah, it's Spam...But it's Funny

Language butchery by Mr Rich on  17.2.06 @ 12:24

My mother sent me this today. After the week I've had, this message provided needed relief. Her comment was, "Does sound like it could be a member of our family????? Oh, Yeah!!!"


Subject: Retirement

ok folks, overlook a few bad words for the total humor.

FOR SALE; Tazer gun, pocket/purse size, 100,000 volt with clip Used one time, cheap, free shipping!

My wife is fond of saying that my last words on this earth will be something akin to "Well, I have out done myself once again." No doubt you will see this true story chronicled in a Lifetime movie in the near future.

Here goes: On my first day of retirement, I bought something at the Police Supply Shop that tickled my fancy. (Note: Keep in mind that my "fancy" is easily tickled). I bought something really cool for my wife. The occasion is my retirement and I was looking for a little something extra for my lovely bride.

What I came across was a 100,000-volt, pocket/purse-sized Tazer gun with a clip. For those of you who are not familiar with this product, it is a less-than-lethal stun gun with two metal prongs designed to incapacitate an assailant with a shock of high-voltage, low amperage electricity while you flee to safety. The effects are supposed to be short lived, with no long-term adverse affect on your assailant, but allowing you adequate time to retreat to safety. You simply jab the prongs into your 250 lb. tattooed assailant, push the button, and it will render him a slobbering, goggle-eyed, muscle-twitching, whimpering, pencil-neck geek.

If you've never seen one of these things in action, then you're truly missing out -- way too cool! I've seen several demonstrations for cops, but I found this handheld one for civilians.

Long story short, I bought the device and brought it home. I loaded two AAA batteries in the darn thing and pushed the button. Nothing! I was so disappointed. Upon reading the directions (we don't need no stinkin' directions), I found much to my chagrin that this particular model would not create an arc between the prongs. How disappointing! I do love fire for effect. I learned that if I pushed the button, however, and pressed it against a metal surface that I'd get the blue arc of electricity darting back and forth between the prongs that I was so looking forward to. I did it.

Awesome!!! Sparks, a blue arc of electricity, and a loud pop!!!

Yipeeeeee... I'm easily amused, just for your information, but I have yet to explain to her what that burn spot is on the face of her microwave.

Okay, so I was home alone with this new toy, thinking to myself that it couldn't be all that bad with only two triple-A batteries, etc., etc.

There I sat in my recliner, her cat looking on intently (trusting little soul), reading the directions (that would be me, not the cat) and thinking that I really needed to try this thing out on a flesh and blood target. I must admit I thought about zapping the cat for a fraction of a second and thought better of it. She is such a sweet kitty after all.

But, if I was going to give this thing to my wife to protect herself against a mugger, I did want some assurance that it would work as advertised. Am I wrong? Was I wrong to think that? Seemed reasonable to me at the time. So, there I sat in a pair of shorts with my reading glasses perched delicately on the bridge of my nose, directions in one hand, Tazer in the other. The directions said that a one-second burst would shock and disorient your assailant; a two-second burst was supposed to cause muscle spasms and a loss of bodily control; a three-second burst would purportedly make your assailant flop on the ground like a fish out of water.

All the while I'm looking at this little device (measuring about 5" long, less than 3/4 inch in circumference, pretty cute really, and loaded with two itsy, bitsy AAA batteries) thinking to myself, "no friggin' way!"

Friggin' way - trust me, but I'm getting ahead of myself. What happened next is almost beyond description, but I'll do my best. Those of you who know me well have got a pretty good idea of what followed.

I'm sitting there alone, the cat looking on with her head cocked to one side as to say, "don't do it buddy," reasoning that a one-second burst from such a tiny lil' ole thing couldn't hurt all that bad (sound, rational thinking under the circumstances, wouldn't you agree?). I decided to give myself a one-second burst just for the hell of it.

(Note: You know, a bad decision is like hindsight-- always twenty-twenty It is so obvious that it was a bad decision after the fact, even though it seemed so right at the time. Don't ya hate that?) I touched the prongs to my naked thigh, pushed the button, and HOLY SHIT!

DAaaaaMN!!! I'm pretty sure that Jessie Ventura ran in through the front door, picked me up out of that recliner then body slammed me on the carpet over and over again. I vaguely recall waking up on my side in the fetal position, nipples on fire, testicles nowhere to be found, soaking wet, with my left arm tucked under my body in the oddest position. The cat was standing over me making sounds I had never heard before, licking my face, undoubtedly thinking to herself, "do it again, do it again!"

(Note: If you ever feel compelled to mug yourself with a Tazer, one note of caution. There is no such thing as a one-second burst when you zap yourself. You're not going to let go of that thing until it is dislodged from your hand by a violent thrashing about on the floor. Then, if you're lucky, you won't lodge one of the prongs 1/4" deep in your thigh like yours truly.)

SON-OF-A-BITCH that hurt! A minute or so later (I can't be sure, as time was a relative thing at this point), I collected my wits (what little I had left), sat up and surveyed the landscape. My reading glasses were on the mantel of the fireplace. How did they get there??? My triceps, right thigh and both titties were still twitching. My face felt like it had been shot up with Novocain, as my bottom lip weighed 88 lbs., give or take an ounce or two, I'm pretty sure. By the way, has anyone seen my testicles? I think they ran away. I'm offering a reward. They're round. Miss 'em...! sure would like to get'em back.

I wonder what retirement day two will bring?

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