[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Friday, 2012-03-09

The TSA is corrupt and incompetent

Filed under: Civil Rights,Science,Travel — bblackmoor @ 21:54

I write to my Congress people every so often asking them to abolish the TSA (not reform, not privatize — abolish). If more people did so, at least the corruption would be more obvious.

Tuesday, 2011-11-08

Cancer-causing airport scanners? Enough Is enough

Filed under: Civil Rights,Technology,Travel — bblackmoor @ 21:14

It’s bad enough having to shell out exorbitant amounts of money in order to travel, but there’s no reason any individual should be forced to choose between a certified health risk or a humiliating, invasive search of their person by ill-trained government agents. Even the airport personnel have expressed concerns about the scanners. The Allied Pilots Association has urged its members to opt out of the body scanning measures because of the “ionizing radiation, which could be harmful to their health.” That caution has been echoed by the Federal Aviation Administration’s medical institute, which has raised a concern about the effects of radiation exposure on pregnant pilots and flight attendants.

(from Cancer-Causing Airport Scanners? Enough Is Enough, The Rutherford Institute)

Wednesday, 2011-08-31

The Mugs of August – Treasure Island mug

Filed under: Art,Food,Travel — bblackmoor @ 23:58
Treasure Island mug

I am going to post a photo of a coffee mug every day in August and talk a little bit about where we got it and why I like it.

I spent about six hours in the car yesterday, driving all over central Virginia looking for the perfect kitten. So this, the final installment of the Mugs of August, is a little late.

When we went to Las Vegas in 2002, we were amazed at how much fun you can have for free, or nearly free. For example, every morning, we made the rounds of the “free spin” slot machines, and came home at the end of the week with a dozen decks of cards, a few packs of dice, a number of “collectible” dolls, tote bags, and other assorted crap. We also got a pair of theatre tickets for Splash! just for taking a bus tour of the Las Vegas suburbs and listening to a half-hour pitch for a time share. The bus tour was part of the pitch, but I thought it was a pretty cool thing to do on its own. We got another set of tickets for Showgirls of Magic for listening to an hour pitch from a hotel-timeshare.

I’ve already mentioned how much I liked Showgirls of Magic. Splash! was a pretty popular show at the time, but we hadn’t planned to see it, and probably wouldn’t if we hadn’t had the free tickets. It was a variety show, much like what you would see on “America’s Got Talent”, but with intermittent topless showgirls, and a big closing musical number celebrating the sinking of the Titanic. (Yes, we thought that was odd, too.)

A number of casinos had free entertainment, either outside or inside. One of the hotels we stayed at, the Flamingo, had Russian trapeze artists and acrobats performing every few hours. The Bellagio has its fountains, Circus Circus has its midway circus show, and Treasure Island has a pirate ship fighting an English man o’ war. (Or had — apparently they have changed the show up a bit since then.) It was a great show: every bit as good as something you’d see at Universal Studios, in my opinion. And free for anyone who happened to be walking by.

It’s a great mug, too. Heavy, but comfortable to hold and drink from. I am drinking coffee from it right now, in fact. You might not be able to tell from the photo, but the skull and crossbones is raised a bit in bas-relief, which is neat.

And thus we come to the end of the Mugs of August. I hope you found it entertaining.

Monday, 2011-08-29

The Mugs of August – Forsvarets Fjernundervisning mug

Filed under: Art,Food,Travel,Work — bblackmoor @ 21:25
Forsvarets Fjernundervisning mug

I am going to post a photo of a coffee mug every day in August and talk a little bit about where we got it and why I like it.

In April and May 2003, I went on a long business trip to Europe for SAIC and Joint Forces Command, on behalf of the Partnership For Peace. Susan went with me. We visited the Czech Republic, Germany, and Norway. Norway was the last leg of our trip. We stayed in Oslo for nearly a week.

Oslo is a very interesting city. It seemed to me that everything was made of stone, and that the streets were deserted. Part of that perception was caused by the fact that Susan and I would wander around late at “night”, when normal Norwegians had gone to bed. But it was broad daylight. Oslo was very clean, and even the prostitutes seemed well dressed.

It was very expensive, though. I seem to recall a Big Mac cost almost $10. We didn’t eat at McDonald’s — I was just curious about the prices. I did have whale steak while we were there. I didn’t care for it, actually, but I am glad I was able to try it. If you’ve ever had a really horrific bloody nose, with golfball sized clots in your throat… it tasted like that.

I spent my days at Akershus Castle, a 13th century fortress which now houses museums, and at the time also housed the Forsvarets Fjernundervisning (which translates roughly as “Norwegian national defense distance education”). Like all of our hosts for that trip, our Norwegian military hosts were friendly, and proud of their city and their history. They gave Susan and me a private tour of the castle, and gave each of us one of these mugs as a parting gift.

Fun fact: in Norway, they don’t dub movies. American movies have American soundtracks. They also learn other languages in school at a very young age. Our hosts generally spoke English while we were around. I only overheard them speaking Norwegian with each other a few times. It actually did sound a lot like the Swedish Chef, believe it or not. But their English was superb, and the younger they were, the better it was. There was a contractor for IBM who I’d assumed was from California, based on his accent. Imagine my surprise when we took Susan and me out clubbing, and we found out that he was a local. His English was just that good. Not that I am criticizing anyone who speaks English with an accent. I have tremendous respect for anyone that learns English. I think that’s amazing. But his English was flawless.

Thursday, 2011-08-25

The Mugs of August – Mug from the Jekyll & Hyde Club, Chicago, IL

Filed under: Art,Food,Movies,Travel — bblackmoor @ 23:33
Mug from the Jekyll & Hyde Club, Chicago, IL

I am going to post a photo of a coffee mug every day in August, and talk a little bit about where we got it and why I like it.

Feeling nauseous as hell, but I want to get this done.

In the late 1990s, Susan was sent to Chicago for a week for training on polarized light microscopy (note to self — get the actual date from her, and make sure I have the term correct). I went with her, and while she was in class all day, I wandered around Chicago. It was awesome. For such a large city, people were incredibly friendly. I ate pizza at some famous Chicago restaurant that had the best pizza I have ever had, I had a hot dog (or was it a cheese steak? memory fails me…) at some famous hole-in-the-wall place that used Cheez-Whiz instead of actual cheese (and it wasn’t half bad!), and I just generally wandered around and made a nuisance of myself.

At night, we went out on the town. Drinks and an awesome view at the Sears Tower (which was, at that time, just recently dethroned as the tallest building in the world). Drinks and blues at Buddy Guy’s. Dinner, drinks, and a haunted house at the Jekyll & Hyde Club (warning: that web page has a very loud and obnoxious Flash animation). I’m sorry to see that the Chicago location closed. It had great food, and a great atmosphere.

Anyway, that’s where this enormous coffee mug came from. This was the first of the humongous giant coffee mugs I bought. For the first week after we came back, I actually tried drinking coffee from it, but that’s not really very practical. At the speed at which I drink coffee, it gets cold about halfway through the mug. Nowadays, it holds a dozen or so pair of 3D glasses from various 3D movies that have come out in the last couple of years. Frankly, I doubt I’ll be putting any more 3D glasses in it.

Saturday, 2011-08-20

The Mugs of August – Grand Canyon Arizona mug

Filed under: Art,Food,Travel — bblackmoor @ 23:10
Grand Canyon Arizona mug

I am going to post a photo of a coffee mug every day in August, and talk a little bit about where we got it and why I like it.

In 2002, Susan and I went to Las Vegas for the “5th Dr. Laura 50th birthday party”. It was Susan’s idea. I have no tolerance for Dr. Laura. I think she’s a judgmental harridan. Susan finds her entertaining. We are different people, and it’s okay for us to like different things.

Anyway, the Dr. Laura thing was just one night, We spent the rest of the week walking up and down the strip (the new part, where the Paris Las Vegas hotel is, which is the hotel where we spent half of the week), getting free stuff from casinos, and seeing some shows. The shows I particularly remember liking were Showgirls Of Magic and Skin Tight. We also got a kick out of the fountains at the Ballagio, and the all of the interior decorations of the various casinos.

While in Las Vegas, we took a day trip out to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. That’s where we got this mug.

Unlike Niagra Falls, the Grand Canyon was every bit as huge as I’d imagined it. If you ever get a chance to go see it, you really should. It’s just astonishing. I was also astonished at the ravens. They are huge, and apparently they are one of the most common animals at the Grand Canyon. I did not know this.

We were not at the canyon long enough to go down to the bottom. It’s 7,000 feet from the edge where we were to the bottom, and we were only there three hours. Maybe some day we will return, and trek down to the bottom.

On the way back to Las Vegas, the bus crossed the Hoover Dam, which was also quite amazing. The dam itself is still open to visitors, but you can’t drive across it anymore. So if you have never done that, too bad — you can’t.

Friday, 2011-08-19

The Mugs of August – Name Your Poison mug

Filed under: Art,Family,Food,Travel — bblackmoor @ 22:20
Name Your Poison mug

I am going to post a photo of a coffee mug every day in August, and talk a little bit about where we got it and why I like it.

We spent the night in Virginia Beach because we were going to our niece’s “graduation” that evening. While at a gift shop, we saw some pirate shirts. Susan bought a really cool pirate shirt in Savannah, GA years before, but it was in storage. We found the exact same pirate shirt, and some similar pirate shirts, so we each got a new pirate shirt. Then we purchased a couple of pirate mugs, because we did not have any, and we thought that would be a cool thing to have. This is one of those mugs.

The girl at the counter said, “Y’all must really like pirates,” which still makes us chuckle.

I also got a half-pound of fudge, which I am pretty sure I ate all of before be made it back home.

Thursday, 2011-08-18

The Mugs of August – Haunted Mansion mug

Filed under: Art,Food,Travel — bblackmoor @ 22:00
Haunted Mansion mug

I am going to post a photo of a coffee mug every day in August, and talk a little bit about where we got it and why I like it.

This is another mug from Disneyland in 2009, the 40th anniversary of the Haunted Mansion.

I love this mug. It’s black with white non-water-soluble paint, so it’s dishwasher safe, and the design is Edward Gorey-esque. It’s also large enough to dunk a large cookie in, which is important.

When Susan gets old, she wants to move to Florida and get a job working at Disneyworld, so she could go to the Haunted Mansion any time she likes. Doing what, I don’t know. Perhaps seating people in the rides, or working at the gift shop.

Wednesday, 2011-08-17

The Mugs of August – Maryland Renaissance Festival stein

Filed under: Art,Food,Friends,Travel — bblackmoor @ 23:23
Maryland Renaissance Festival stein

I am going to post a photo of a coffee mug every day in August, and talk a little bit about where we got it and why I like it.

From 2007 until 2009, I played World Of Warcraft (although I was pretty inactive for the last year of that span). I met some interesting people through WOW. Some of them, sadly, I no longer talk to. Of the handful I still am able to keep in touch with, one or two make an effort to meet up at the Maryland Renaissance Festival in September.

The first year I went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival was in 2008, and that’s when I got this mug. It’s not technically a coffee mug, but it’s one of only two steins I own, and it has sentimental value in addition to being really pretty. It’s numbered 159/300, but really, that should be 159/299, because the first one I bought had a crack in it, and I swapped it for this one. So there are, at most, 298 more of these out there.

I hope the weather is better this year. So far, it has rained every year I have gone. A wool cloak gets really heavy when it’s wet.

Monday, 2011-08-15

The Mugs of August – Cedar Point mug

Filed under: Art,Food,Travel — bblackmoor @ 23:29
Cedar Point mug

I am going to post a photo of a coffee mug every day in August, and talk a little bit about where we got it and why I like it.

In August of 2006, Susan and I went on a road trip up to Cedar Point amusement park, “the roller coaster capital of the world”. On the way up, we stopped at Fallingwater, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs. It’s nicer from the outside than from the inside, honestly. On the way back, we visited Harpers Ferry, which was fascinating. I had no inkling of any of Harpers Ferry’s history. We spent an entire day just wandering around, touring buildings, and reading signs.

This mug came from Cedar Point, obviously. Susan and I both love cobalt blue glass.

I have two distinct memories of Cedar Point. One is being on a stairwell leading up to some attraction, looking out over the crowd at the park, and thinking how very, very white everyone was. It was kind of eerie and unsettling, like if you walked into a huge crowd of redheads all of a sudden. It doesn’t matter if you are a redhead: to see only redheads in a huge crowd is still pretty freaking weird.

My other distinct memory is riding the Top Thrill Dragster, which was billed as the tallest and fastest coaster in the world at that time. Like every roller coaster, they give you the standard warnings about securing loose articles and so on. I put my sunglasses in my pocket, assuming they would be safe there (they always had been in the past). The ride was very fast, and very short (well, duh — I guess that’s what “fastest in the world” gives you). As we left the ride, I went to put my sunglasses back on, and discovered they were no longer in my pocket. They were gone. I never even felt them leave my pocket. I hope they didn’t kill anyone in the cars behind us.

« Previous PageNext Page »