All that is wrong with the world…

February 13, 2013

Back to it

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , — allthatiswrong @ 7:06 pm

I had actually thought I posted this in January and just realized it was only saved as a draft. Oh Seeming as I have been show to stick to what I wrote, perhaps now is a better starting point.

Well, I’d like to apologize to my very small base of readers, if indeed I even have any regular readers, for the lack of activity on this blog.

I realize now in mid December that I have not written anything for my blog since February. When I originally started this I had plans to write something at least every week, and I certainly though the lengthier articles I plan to write on Scientology, democracy, piracy and the like would be written by now. Part of it is because I have been slack, choosing to play games and watch TV shows in stead of writing…but there are other factors as well.

So, I’m going to write a short review of this year, and hopefully this will be the commencement of a lot more regularity in my posting.

So, I started this year in New York City for NYE…which was lame without knowing any parties to go to. The lower east village and Williamsburg were dead…nothing going on. Looks like I’m going to be here again for this NYE as I don’t have money to make more of it, but hopefully it will be more interesting. After NYE in NYC, I went back to Montreal where I was living while waiting for my green card to process, which took forever! I managed to find an awesome IT Security job, I wish I had found it much earlier while I was in Montreal…being able to only work at the company for a few months was lame, but still rewarding with friends and contacts I have made.

My bed situation was interesting during this time, as I had been looking for an apartment with a friend of mine and as Montreal advertises in the retarded European way, where every room is listed as opposed to just bedrooms, we ended up sharing a studio with a separate kitchen. It worked surprisingly well, having the kitchen as a bedroom, although the lack of desk made it hard to do any writing. I also have an unhealthy addiction for sites like Slashdot which I need to stop reading.

I had gone back to the hostel I used to work at in Cancun which was a fun experience and I met a girl who ended up becoming one of my closest friends. I then went back about a month later with a girl I had met a year earlier in Cancun….a girl I’d tried to be friends with for a long time, then finally she wanted to go to Mexico with me. While there making it seem like I was trying to get with her when I didn’t hit on her once, and then ended up deserting me (just as a friend and travel companion) for an Israeli guy. Seriously, what a bitch.

On the 12th of July I had my green card interview, which was one of the most exciting times of my life. My documents from Australia had not arrived in time which was extremely frustrating, as was the ridiculous amount of time it took my country to get me a new passport. So, while approved I had to wait another month…it would have been nice to work for that month, although I think I burned a bridge by being unable to work my last shift.

Finally in August, I noticed I was able to go and pick it up. How unbelievably exciting it was. The next day I was on an early bus walking to the location, and then I spent the day packing and getting ready for my busride into the US. Crossing the border was no issue, and I finally had my green card. Such a good feeling. I’d wanted to live in NYC for the longest time, and now I was going to. In NYC for a weekend with my friend from Cancun, then back to her place in Connecticut until went to Vegas to see a friend. Vegas is such a fun town, but boring by yourself…really need money to make the most of it. Then to Portland to visit another friend….and then a long flight back home where I had not been in several years.

I was a bit worried about home due to certain potentially fraudulent acts I had committed in the past, yet nothing came of it. Safe for the moment. It was amazing to see my parents and meet my nieces and nephew. I severely underestimated how much I was missed and felt so bad for not calling more regularly. Still, I set up Skype video calling which makes my parents very happy. It was amazing to see my family again…although I realized I didn’t miss it at all, and was glad to be leaving. I couldn’t imagine having to be back there…it would be like a punishment. Furthermore many of the things I missed, like certain cola’s and food items no longer existed.

During this time I had been trying desperately to find an apartment as I knew I couldn’t stay with anyone, not really. I managed to find one room in Bushwick for only $450/month, including utilities! I was worried it was a scam but it was fine. The room is small, but I can fit a full size bed in there and other stuff. It’s amazing just to be able to have my own place that I can afford pretty easily. No room for a desk, which makes it hard to do writing, but as I write this I am in one of the fine libraries available in this city, something I plan to do regularly from now on. Not least because I have consistent fast internet, not broken WEP internet far away.

In October it was back to NYC, back to selling comedy tickets for income to live. I haven’t taken advantage of too much NYC stuff yet, but plan to go to a lot more bars as soon as money permits as well as the museums, restaurants, shows, parks…all of it. All the amazing stuff I now have at my hands. In the meanwhile…I’m now back to learning Spanish regularly…Pimsleur..as Rosetta Stone did nothing for me. Learning Assembly and trying to get a decent grasp of statistics. Perhaps most importantly I have regular meetings with someone to help me work on my business plan. I’m hoping to find a high paying job to help me start early next year…ideally a job allowing me a lot of time to write.

So, that’s it from me, for the moment.

tl;dr — I haven’t had constant internet or a desk so have found it hard to write, but plan to do a lot more from now on while living in NYC on the road to starting my new business.

Next week, perhaps an article on organic food.

February 3, 2012

TV Licenses are not acceptable.

Filed under: Issues...the world...etc.., Travel — Tags: , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 3:11 pm

I find the very concept of a TV license offensive. The idea that you have to pay a license on private property that you own, based purely on the assumption that you will watch a free to air channel that the money from the license funds.

Many people defend the idea because they are thankful for unbiased quality journalism and don’t see any problem. The problem I have is that the license should simply be a tax. At the moment it is a license. Needing a license to operate a harmless and widely available electronic device is fundamentally flawed.

Another problem with this model is the assumption that you will watch the free to air channel that the license funds. Personally I don’t tend to watch free to air TV at all. If I purchased a TV it would be to play console games or perhaps to watch things from my laptop. I wouldn’t use it to watch free to air TV yet in some countries like the UK it is assumed that if you have a TV then you will watch free to air TV, or specifically the BBC. How is that a reasonable assumption.

Some people consider the use of the word license to be just semantics and that the fee is actually a tax. The reason you can’t consider a TV license fee a tax is for 2 reasons. 1) If it were a tax, people would be eligible to get the fee refunded if they could show it shouldn’t apply to them and 2) taxes for the most part don’t tend to be for owning private household items. Taxes go towards services or needs of the larger population. Charging people a fee for owning a TV based on assumed use is not a tax, nor should it be permitted at all.

If I buy something and use it within my home, I shouldn’t have to pay anything on top of that. Not when other people are not affected by my use of my possession. It might seem a trivial thing to write about but I think it indicates a slippery slope. If you allow governments to charge you a fee for owning a TV however it might be justified, how long until they start charging you for owning computers or phones or game consoles?

February 1, 2012

Australians in the UK

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 5:47 pm

It seems to me that the majority of Australians who end up going to the UK to work are bogans. Bogan is the Australians version of a redneck, chav, ned or knacker. I don’t know if it’s just my personal experience but it seems like whenever I go to the UK and Ireland all the Australians are people who saved up money from social security to get over there and then work minimum wage jobs just so they can buy all the cheap drugs and alcohol they can afford. They tend to be very loud and rowdy and tend to turn a lot of people away.

Many British and Irish people I speak to get the impression that these Australians are a representation of most Australians, which I think is interesting. If it’s true why are so many bogan Australians going to the UK? If little work and cheap drugs and partying is what is desired why not head to South-East Asia or Latin America. What is it that attracts the bogan types to the UK? Why so prevalently?

Why I don’t like the UK

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 3:14 pm

I don’t like the UK. I have lived there on and off for a combined total of maybe 2 years. The people are fine but it is just little things about the country that I find unnecessary, annoying or in some cases frustrating.

First, the culture. The tendency to be excessively polite which results in white lies. Saying you have plans to get out of something rather than just stating it directly…pretending not to be home when salespeople come round..all people do these things but I have the impression that it occurs at a much higher rate with British people. Or to put it simply, British people lie more often because they think it’s nicer to do so. Then comes the stupid slang. Calling the BBC the ‘beeb’…words like shag, snog, numpty, referring to all vacuum cleaners as hoovers…spelling ass with an ‘r’. I find all of that mildly irritating for no good reason. I know dialects evolve in different ways but I subjectively I feel much of the slang in the UK is just…silly.

Not to mention the people who call everyone mate even when they clearly don’t know or like the person. The overuse of the word ‘well’ such as “keep well clear” as opposed to simply “keep clear”. The overuse of ordinary words such as marvelous or brilliant when things are not at all marvelous or brilliant. Calling the main street in every city the high street. Again I can’t make any argument why it’s bad, I just look down on it.

Then there are things that tend to get less subjective and more objectively annoying. The comedy they gave the world…fucking Mr Bean. They almost redeemed themselves with Peep Show. Sorry to say that I think shows like Spaced, Monty Python, Faulty Towers and and The Mighty Boosh are vastly overrated. The tendency of Britons not to consider themselves European. The ridiculously oversized power plugs. The love of warm beer. The food…god, the food. Blood sausage, crappy little sausages..hash browns…haggis..spotted dick. Gah.

The censorship of films, music and the Internet. The continued and excessive harassment of photographers by policeman who don’t understand the law. Having a house of lords and a house of commons as opposed to a more neutrally named upper and lower house. Judges who employ “common sense” which is dangerous. Excessive surveillance. Britain has been having a lot more serious problems recently. Having to pay for restrooms in some public places such as bus stations. Having to pay a TV license just for owning a TV (I know it supports the BBC but that isn’t the way to go about funding). The one way extradition agreement that allows British citizens to be extradited to the US. Putting someone in jail if they can’t reveal their encryption password, assuming they can but won’t.

Aside from the things I just think are silly, there is too much that is actually worrying or intrusive for me to live there. It isn’t a place I would want to live and certainly isn’t a country I can respect. As far gone as the US is in some ways..it doesn’t have the problems listed in the last paragraph.

November 8, 2011

Is an American passport the best passport to hold for travel?

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , — allthatiswrong @ 5:17 pm

I was talking with a friend of mine recently who was sure that an American passport was the most powerful. I started wondering about this as while it seems reasonable, I don’t think it is actually so. It would seem that the commonwealth countries have a more powerful passport for a few reasons.

  1. The commonwealth countries are able to participate in Working Holiday programs run by most western governments pretty much except the US. Such programs operated on a reciprocal basis and since the US doesn’t want to offer working holidays, holders of a US Passport can’t do a working holiday on that basis.
  2. Less restricted travel. Holders of a commonwealth passport can go to countries that the US restricts its citizens from traveling to, such as countries like Afghanistan or Iran. To my knowledge most commonwealth countries don’t prevent their citizens from going to such countries, even if it is a warzone. Not to mention being able to go to Cuba without having to hide it.
  3. Holders with a commonwealth passport get longer in other commonwealth countries. For example most people from a commonwealth country will get six months in the UK, while holders of a US passport only get three.

I am unable to think of any advantages a US passport has over a commonwealth passport. I would have thought commonwealth passports were essentially equal to a US passport, but given the above advantages it would seem that are actually better to have. I would be interested to hear any thoughts on this.

September 21, 2011

Why I don’t like travel guidebooks

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , — allthatiswrong @ 7:52 am

I strongly dislike using any travel guidebook. When I first started traveling I couldn’t justify the price and didn’t want to carry it around however after years of exploring, using the internet and talking to local people guide books seem overpriced, factually incorrect, biased, subjective and out of date. It frustrates me when I see people traveling going only to places and only going to what is listed in their guidebooks. Even worse I’ve seen local people suggest things to see and people rejecting it because it isn’t in their guidebook. I don’t think guidebooks are completely without merit…they can provide interesting information on the culture and history of a country. It’s just when people use them as the sole authority on things to see or do and how to act that it becomes frustrating.

A good example of such people is over on the Lonely Planet travel forums. In particular the user bzookaj has little idea of what he talks about but gives advice with full authority. An American who has entered the US on a VWP, yet argues with those who have claiming to know better under the guise of giving advice. Such people are frustrating and anecdotally seem to be a main part of the demographic for guidebooks. I’d guess the remainder are people who just happen to buy them at an airport or bookshop and don’t actually rely on them.

So if you don’t use guidebooks, what can you do? Walking around and just exploring is a very nice fun thing to do and who knows what you may find? What people don’t understand is this is all the authors of guidebooks did; so why limit yourself to their discoveries when you can find your own? I’ve eaten a lot of delicious restaurants and found a lot of fun bars/clubs from doing this and haven’t missed out in the least, despite not relying on a guidebook.

The Internet is also obviously a great source of information. Various travel blogs tend to come up when searching various districts, cities or countries as well as websites like the excellent Wikitravel. Wikitravel is excellent source although much like Wikipedia less popular pages (destinations) don’t tend to be maintained as often as the more popular pages so can be out of date. Hostels and Hotels generally have a lot of good information as well that they are more than happy to share with you, although some business recommendations may have a commission motive. A lot of cities also have tourist information booths in prominent locations which is a good source of unbiased reliable free information.

As I said above guidebooks do have a place I think…not as a travel guide but more as a Cliffs Notes style book on a given destination. At a glance it can be nice to learn some customs and see some basic information, but having a guidebook dictate your trip or even be any type of authority is just stupid. I might have thought that with the current generation of travelers having grown up with the internet that guidebooks would be less popular but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It doesn’t seem to be an issue of people not able to use alternate sources to guidebooks but rather people being unable to think and investigate for themselves and deferring to some authority. I would have thought such a characteristic less likely among well seasoned travelers, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.

September 14, 2011

From Las Vegas to Vancouver

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 1:44 am

So, I’m managing to get this finished basically 11 months after it happened. Luckily everything is still fresh in my mind. I have to make a great effort to finish typing my adventures from last year before it’s too late, not to mention my adventures from this year. In any event, here are my observations from traveling from

My last few days in Vegas

My last few days in Las Vegas before getting ready to start my journey to Canada were interesting. Not much had been happening, although I got into an argument with Bob’s girlfriend Marcia that was interesting. In an effort to encourage his younger roommates to try and find work he made a bet that they must be awake by 7:30 AND get to the welfare office before 12:00. Since they were not awake by 7:30, they lost the bet. Now Marcia was defending them valiantly but failed to understand the difference between AND and OR. She tried to say that since they did one part of the bet no one should win, not realizing since they woke up after 7:30 they already lost – regardless. This wasn’t surprising as after we got to discussing politics Marcia made some interesting opinions known. Such as people should not be allowed to immigrate to the USA unless they speak English and the Arizona law did not go far enough.

It was Zane’s friends Joe’s birthday, so I went out with him and some other guys to a casino and a random house party. Max had been annoying me recently…at just 21, he was sure he knew everything. Which is fine, a lot of people are like that at all ages. What was annoying was that he kept correcting me on shit when he was wrong. It wasn’t bad enough that he would correct my pronunciation of words because he didn’t understand that there is more than one accent, he started talking crap about me as well. I think this was partly because I had become good friends with his girlfriend Rachel, and he felt he needed to assert himself as often as possible.

This was all fine, and I was having no problem ignoring him. After the casino we ended up going to a house party, which was interesting. On the way to the house party our car was pulled over by the cops which annoyed me. Max was freaking out in the car trying to convince everyone that it was all fine; he then later reiterated the story that I was extremely nervous. I guess to try and humiliate me in front of his girlfriend. Who knows?

Now, this party was what I had wanted to go to in the US for ages. A house party straight out of a college movie, loads of hot girls and drinking games going on. Unfortunately, I was still feeling pretty down the entire time and just couldn’t get into it. I’ve never really had a problem talking to girls at bars or clubs, but when I’m not interested they tend to notice. Now Max in his typical arrogant way seemed to think I was unable to approach a girl by myself, and so introduced me to some random girl standing behind us so he could leave with Rachel. Which was fine and she seemed mildly interesting until she left. I talked to a few other girls and just couldn’t be bothered to actually hold the conversation. I don’t know what exactly was stopping me from just letting go and having fun but it’s frustrating.
One of the most interesting things that had happened since Ruddy and Bob had moved in was the shift in relationships. I was really getting on well with one of Rachel’s friends Buzz and thought there was actually a good chance we could stay friends. We still can be, but I was surprised how quickly Bob and Ruddy replaced me. I don’t know if that is the right word, but there was definitely more of a bond between those two, perhaps just due to age? Buzz even seemed to prefer hanging out with Rowan who was the eldest and didn’t like to drink.

During that party, I started to feel really annoyed and I wasn’t sure why. Perhaps because of Max talking shit about me, perhaps at my frustration that I couldn’t just enjoy myself, perhaps at wondering why Buzz stopped hanging out – a whole host of things. There was also the fact that I was convinced Rowan kept pretending to be drunk when he wasn’t. I was pretty sure of this, being as dramatic as he was and making a big deal about not drinking only to start drinking constantly…well. I don’t know why that would annoy me so much….just fakeness in general I suppose.

On the way home we stopped for some McDonalds which was awesome. I rode with Rachel while everyone else was in Buzz’s car. There was much mooning and racing on the highway which was amusing. After some food I decided to have a smoke. I’d barely been smoking the last two months but as annoyed as I felt I didn’t mind. It was during this time that Max made offhand threatening remarks which just pissed me off on top of everything else. I felt like getting out of the car and hitting him but of course it’s never smart to give in to anger. I just ignored everything till I got home, only a few days to go until I left.

It was the immediate Saturday that Joe’s amazing birthday party was taking place. I declined to go, as awesome as it sounded. Why, I am not exactly sure. Just not wanting to deal with Max and Rowan and all the shit I found annoying for the last few weeks. I’d already celebrated Joe’s birthday at smaller gatherings no problems there. I guess a part of me was sad that over the last two months I thought I had made friends and I wanted to see if they would perhaps try and throw me any kind of going away part, or even just let me know they would miss me. Everyone came back to Zane’s apartment a lot sooner than I thought, as apparently the cops busted it up. I feigned being asleep most of the night) except for when I actually dozed off) and despite quite a few different people coming in at different times to try and get me to come out, I didn’t want to budge.

It was the next day where I found out all the shit that happened the night before. The reason everyone came back to Zane’s apartment was because the police came to the house party and people were ordered to leave. I felt bad for Buzz as he was just trying to throw a good party for Joe…, but at the same time I guess he should have been more careful about it. It was interesting to observe the relationship dynamics after shit went down. Max left a shirt there with his name in it, went back and kicked in the door to make sure he got it and then refused to talk to anybody about anything. I understand being worried about legal repercussions and protecting yourself but if your friends with someone you don’t fuck them over just to save yourself. It’s situations like that that show who your true friends are.
On the same day it seemed like Bob was breaking up with Marcia. Young couples that last are rare, but these guys had a strange dynamic. She seemed to be with him because at least in part she liked bossing him around and he liked her because she was semi-hot and caring. Bob was interesting; he was smart and mature but purposely acted immature. The fact that they were getting married before Bob started his military service was not a great indication. What was also interesting was that Joe seemed so upset they may break up. I didn’t get why they all became friends so quickly, but then Joe was a pretty sensitive guy so it could have just been that.

Finally out of Vegas

I caught a ride with a guy to Los Angeles for $20, who turned out to be pretty cool. Many interesting topics were discussed on the way and then as we tried to find an English radio station coming into LA. I only stayed for a few days, which was more than enough in such a shitty city. It was odd staying with my host as she was very proud of LA and I didn’t care for it at all, so we didn’t really get on that well. I ended up meeting with my cougar in LA…which was odd. Met at a rooftop bar in Venice…made small talk which was kind of odd as we were both going to go back to her place for sex. She paid for all my drinks which was pretty cool…and drove me back the next morning, even offered money for a taxi. I wasn’t attracted to her that much, but I hadn’t had sex since July and wanted some…so be it.

The next day I hung out in Hollywood with the guy I caught a ride with, just going to the same places I had had my initial adventures like 7 years ago, which was kind of odd. Seeing the cybercafé where I met the first gay guy I really met and who I stayed with and who then held my stuff hostage for a while, where I was able to get free internet because they just used MAC addresses for authentication…seeing the Oakley store where I thought a girl liked me back when I didn’t know girls liked me….seeing Hollywood and highland where I saw many celebrities…I feel like I was so young then…yet I wasn’t, not really.

I wonder if I would ever go back and try acting in LA….but I just dislike that city so much…being able to make it in NYC has so much more appeal to me. I found it quite annoying that my ride to LA managed to stay with 2 girls who told me they couldn’t host me due to studies…despite hosting him when he asked after me. I get sometimes that people lie to be polite but I just can’t stand it….probably part of a reason me and Candice didn’t work out, given that all British people do the polite lying thing.

After my time in LA which was exactly as short as it needed to be, it was time to head to San Francisco. I didn’t care much for this city of hippies, but I feel like Candice had ambition to go there and so I had a renewed interest in seeing it, maybe to see what she saw in it that I missed. I ended up catching a rideshare with some cool guys, one of who looked almost exactly like Scott Bakula. I had a lot of trouble finding a host but managed to find one for the first night where we talked a lot about couchsurfing and computer stuff. There was some blues festival going on which I walked around and enjoyed….I hate walking around by myself….I went there to find people not for the festival, yet have trouble finding people. I have in the past I guess….but not this time. It’s such a lonely feeling yet being surrounded by people….I wish I could be more open and outgoing and friendly sometimes. I used to be better at approaching people but it was like I had no motivation to overcome my loneliness. I just kept wishing Candice was there with me, because I knew she would have loved it. Other times just seeing really pretty girls and being amazed how much I wanted to be with someone.

After going back home and doing research and was then I realized I couldn’t get my proper tourist visa as I needed to be a Canadian resident. I was considering going back to Germany as I didn’t want to go back to the other side of the world, but I hated Germany. Then I began my process to get my Canadian work visa which was in theory very easy, and a workable alternative as opposed to going back home. I discovered the idiocy of the lonely Planet forum while asking about how the VWP would apply if I were a Canadian resident and getting answers from an American who had never used the VWP yet was confident he had all the answers. I don’t really understand what it is that drives people to spend so much time on forums and try to be an authority on every issue. I had to make plans now as I did want to see the King Tut exhibition in NYC, see Emma in Texas and go back to Las Vegas at some point where I had friends and my hard drives. My plan to just get my visa in Vancouver and come back down was no longer possible so I was unsure when I would be back. Still, getting my Canadian working visa would seem to be the first step…if only I had realized that I couldn’t get it from within Canada. The next night I stayed at a hostel…$30 for an 18 bed dorm seemed crazy considering I was paying like $5 per night in Costa Rica. I hadn’t really been in a hostel since I first came to the US, but didn’t really get a chance to appreciate it.

Heading further north

I had been looking for a ride to Portland and not much was in my price range, but managed to find a guy willing to take me for free. There was a hot girl in the general area the next morning, but had to leave before I could talk to her. Met the guy who was giving me a ride….a gay guy but friendly and talkative, provided sandwiches and everything. Not sure why his being gay mattered but it stuck in my mind somehow. Had some interesting conversations on the 11 hour ride…..there really isn’t anything between San Francisco and Portland. Stopped in Springfield and saw Springfield police which was pretty cool.

Then at night I arrived in Portland and met the very cool girl and housemates I was staying with. Quick introductions and then I retired after a long day of travel. The main reason I was excited to go to Portland was to see the basis for Springfield on The Simpsons. That wasn’t too much the case or it didn’t feel so much from walking around….but it was also easy to imagine them living in one of the houses near where I was staying. I didn’t get to see the gorge Springfield gorge was based on or the elementary school, I did get to see Flanders and Lovejoy streets however.

As far as Portland as a town is concerned….I hated it. It is one of my least favorite places on earth, which was just the start of my extreme dislike of the northwest. Initially Portland seems too trendy with many people either wearing suit jackets with jeans and sunglasses, or being alternative and wearing baggy clothes and having crazy long dreadlocks. Gah. There really isn’t much to see as a tourist. One of the main things I was suggested to see was Voodoo Doughnuts. It was an OK doughnut store but the highlight seemed to be that they catered to vegans and had funny and/or erotic cake designs. I guess I’m not just impressed by funny shaped cakes, although I guess I can understand that many people may not have seen such things before. For me it was more notable that there was a market for vegan doughnuts, it fit in with the idiotic character of the city I had found to exist.

I then went to Powell’s books…which indeed is a cool book store. It seems too big to be small and independent but does have some cool policies, as well as an excellent selection of books. Several Asimov books I had not previously heard off, the new Dean Koontz Frankenstein books which I had had trouble finding, all the T2 books by S.M. Sterling, all the Buffy comics….very cool. It actually seemed to be a store worth going to unlike say staples in NYC, which seems to be just the current hipster trend.

The other thing Portland seems to be notable for is food carts. Little RV’s or the like that have been turned into restaurants, all parked in areas where stores would normally be. I don’t really get the attraction….there isn’t anything special about the food, why does it matter if it is being sold from an RV or a store? It’s hardly unique to Portland either, as they have the same thing in Austin, albeit to a lesser extent.
So, I decided to walk around town and after doing the Simpsons stuff there wasn’t really stuff to see. I went to see the statue of Portlandia and couldn’t find it, walking past it twice before it being pointed out to me, since it just isn’t really notable. Many Portland residents didn’t even seem to know about it. What I did notice when walking around was the sheer amount of homeless people and coffee stores. There seemed to be a far greater percentage of homeless people than in NYC, which seems to be supported by statistics. Portland seems to be the kind of city that welcomes the crazy and homeless and tries to help them. Which is nice, I guess.

I would have thought that Portland was just another town with a hippy vibe like San Francisco with its claim to fame being beers, coffee and having been the basis for the Springfield of The Simpsons. Alas, it is much worse than this. I noticed in Portland a deplorable willful ignorance that stretches roughly from Portland all the way to Vancouver. Portland was the start of noticing a horrid trend of Super-Hippies everywhere. An unusually number of vegans, people who believe in homeopathy, a misplaced faith in nature, a deference to groupthink under the guise of common sense….and crazy crazy feminists. It was from traveling from Portland to Vancouver that I saw where my friend Sarah got some of her crazy views from. What these people think of as progressive seems to be, objectively, simply a different type of regression. Is it any surprise that Portland is where What the bleep do we know was filmed? A film that defines quantum physics as the ability to manipulate reality with your mind? That film says pretty much everything you need to know to judge the city.

I went for dinner and later a drink with my host, a girl who was very cute and seemed interested in me despite having a strong fireman boyfriend….who also hung out with me on occasion. I liked this girl as well….but I didn’t see anything happening. Plus, I could have been reading everything wrong. I left Portland on First Thursday, a showing of museums and food and such that sounded quite interesting, however I did not realize it was at night and already bought my train ticket. I bought a bullshit train ticket to pretty much the next station over with the intent of investigating if it were possible to purchase a ticket for free on board, however Amtrak was having none of that. Out of all the companies to have real time credit card verification in place I would not have thought it would be Amtrak. I left Portland on First Thursday, a showing of museums and food and such that sounded quite interesting, however I did not realize it was at night and already bought my train ticket. I bought a bullshit train ticket to pretty much the next station over with the intent of investigating if it were possible to purchase a ticket for free on board, however Amtrak was having none of that. Out of all the companies to have real time credit card verification in place I would not have thought it would be Amtrak.

I had to find a place with wifi, as I had forgotten to write down my hosts address. I found an excellent Irish pub called Fado’s on 1st and Columbia, where the waitresses were very helpful and friendly and didn’t even charge me for my coffee! I decided to walk a ways since the busses didn’t seem to have transfers, and I didn’t want to pay for 3 different busses. Everything was closed, even the Walgreens at 11am, which made it frustrating to get my fix of Dr Pepper. I managed to find somewhere, and then get to the bus stop. There had been quite a few dodgy characters on the way but no trouble; I figured it was probably a similar city to Portland with a lot of homeless people. At the bus stop a guy was insistent on selling me his transfer for $2 so he could save money…it turned out to be legitimate, but he didn’t seem to understand why I would be skeptical of such a deal. I don’t mind helping people out, but I guess in his world
I arrived at my hosts house who were very friendly however was disappointed to find out they study and believe in naturopathy which is OK, but also homeopathy. As well as astrology which I guess isn’t surprising. It was in keeping with the character of the northwest I had seen so far. I didn’t do anything the next day except relax and recovery, and then went to a naturopath party of all the students the next night. This is where I learned that there is actually a university that receives federal funding that offers courses in homeopathy. What the fuck.

I didn’t really end up exploring much of Seattle….I didn’t care about the space tower…not for $20 or whatever, and there didn’t seem much else to see. I started to look for a ride to Vancouver. I found a rideshare but had not heard back in a while, so started to look at public transport. It turns out Amtrak was cheaper than the bus options, how very odd.

I arranged to meet with my host the next morning at a coffee shop. After hanging out for a while and waiting, they arrived. Two young guys who seemed pretty cool and wanted only $10 for the ride, so we embarked on our quest to Canada. First however, we had to pick up one more guy, who turned out to be strange. Seemed to be in his 40’s, dressed in a cowboy hat, overcoat and pants and a shirt that provided him with something like 50 pockets. As well as far more luggage than he should need for such a short trip. I joined the two other guys in deciding to smoke some weed before crossing the border, which was dumb but turned out fine. At the border crossing despite my lack of onward ticket or funds, I was actually the fastest to be interviewed and approved. Experience with knowing what to say I guess. The Americans got through easy enough, probably just stumbled over being asked if they had drugs. Oddly the Canadian and his 50 pockets took the longest. Oddly enough I didn’t get a stamp, so had no proof that I had left the USA except for my debit card bills.

They were surprised that I told the guard that I had smoked weed but did not have any on me. It made sense to admit it, satisfying his need for the truth and well as ensuring I had nothing on me. The Canadian who had apparently been to 42 countries said you never told them anything, ever. No wonder he took the longest. After we dropped him off, it was time to get a beer. Delicious Guinness. Then I got dropped off to meet my new hosts and was safely in Canada. The next leg of my adventure starting.

August 11, 2011

A defense of American tourists

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 10:15 pm

In all my travels I have noticed a common recurrence. Namely unfounded criticism against American tourists. I hate this because it’s just so hypocritical. Europeans tend to be the worst, followed by Australians and New Zealanders. Despite never having gone to the US, they feel they can know the country authoritatively and by extension can judge people from that country. It was amazing to me when traveling through Europe how rude people would be when they assumed I was American by default, only to suddenly be helpful and apologetic when I made it clear I was not. A good example of this is when I was in Rome and ran out of money to get my bag out of storage. I managed to get access to my bag to get a carton of cigarettes which I sold outside the airport to get enough money to get my bag back. I tried selling to taxi drivers who simply insulted and laughed at me, however when proving I was not from the US they all bought a packet and so I was able to get my bag back.

It’s pretty bad in the UK and Australia as well. When American tourists ask questions or remark how things are different they tend to be insulted, like they should be expected to know these things. Yet, most people from the UK or Australia have no idea about the US except from what they learn from each other and the media, which is to say they have a wholly inaccurate depiction. Yet, despite not traveling they somehow feel superior to these American tourists being exposed to a different culture for the first time. The fuck?

When I’m in New York, I deal with tourists every single day in my job selling comedy tickets. There are a great many idiotic tourists from Europe or Australia. People who can’t figure out how the streets are numbered on Manhattan, people asking for directions to a store that has huge signs lit up right behind them, or the worst is people being convinced that selling comedy tickets is illegal despite us doing this every day and police standing near us and being on friendly terms with us. Honestly Australians can be the worst as xenophobic as they are in a city as packed and diverse as NYC.

The anti-US sentiment is some of the worst groupthink and idiocy I have encountered in my travels. Only 30% of Americans even have a passport, yet those who decide to travel and learn tend to be criticized by those who haven’t even left their own countries. I assume part of it is just being defensive….a lot of these countries are smaller and many of the people feel the need to prove a point, that their countries are not small or backwards as they think Americans might think, when that isn’t necessarily the case at all. It’s far less likely to be the opinion of those who actually travel.

Another example of this irrational US hate is a Taiwanese guy I met when I was in Canada in January was terrified of the NYPD despite never having been to NY. He was very happy with the Toronto police despite the huge criticisms against them and their history, such as the G20 riots. The NYPD in my experience have always been helpful and friendly. Sure, people will have different experience but on average it seems the NYPD have a better reputation than the Toronto PD. Yet, simply because it was American, this guy thought the NYPD were going to be far far worse.

Another example would be an Australian kid on a forum I used to frequent, who was convinced that Americans were offended by the word mate. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, but he was convinced of this after he called someone mate and they punched him. I’m sure there was more to the story as this kid tended to be ignorant and argue for the sake of arguing about things he didn’t comprehend and someone probably had enough. To draw the conclusion that any American will be offended by calling them mate is just idiotic.

It’s amazing how little people know of the US yet they feel they can criticize it as an expert. Most Europeans or Australians have no idea just how diverse the US is with climate, culture, laws, language, cuisine and more. Many areas of the US have a strong dislike of other parts, to the point they act like different countries sometimes. The US is more than twice the size of the EU and the third biggest population on the planet, yet all too often people dismiss it as a homogeneous cauldron of stupidity lacking in culture what so ever. It’s this that I don’t understand.

Not to mention the ridiculous political criticisms. Yes, the US has many problems when it comes to politics, but so does the EU. From mass surveillance and limiting photography and journalism in the UK to out of hand censorship in many countries, France banning Burquas and privacy concerns raised by the Data retention Directive? The EU acts like a country without any of the checks and bounds a state provides, so I consider it worse in many respects. However, that is another discussion (and post) entirely.

I just wish the hypocrisy and unfounded criticism would stop. All countries are different, and many countries in Europe are backwards in several respects. Just as the US is. If a tourist makes an observation it can start a discussion or be a chance to provide information or correct an incorrect assumption. People need to stop the thinking all Americans are idiots and their countries are better than the US because they have socialized health care and lower crime rates. The issues are a lot more complicated than that and in any case, why does it make sense to judge people from a country because of the government that represent them? When someone travels and wants to learn about the world that is a good thing and should be encouraged. At the moment it would seem that many Americans might have the idea that people of other countries are ignorant, backwards and insecure. If people keep acting the way they do towards American tourists, then they would be right.

July 6, 2011

From New York to Las Vegas

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 11:37 am

This is a pretty brief account of what happened while I was in New York for two weeks before going to Las Vegas, but contains stuff that I wanted to keep out of my article on the Hope and DEFCON conferences. I’ve written this almost exactly a year later after it happened, which is ridiculously slow progress. With so much going on and my placing more emphasis on non memoir articles it isn’t so surprising. Hopefully I can get the beginning of 2010 done by the end of 2011. Or at least my adventures in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, where all this takes place after. Anyway.

I was so happy to be leaving San Jose after my adventures in Costa Rica and Nicaragua….as much fun as I had had there I couldn’t wait to be back to a place where hot water is taken for granted and I could actually choose between more than 10 things to eat. I arrived back in NYC at 2am…being somewhat worried about coming through customs but it all turned out fine. I went outside and enjoyed the hot summer night before heading to my host’s house. I was stuck for a bit as the Airtrain machines wouldn’t give change and I had to find someone who would, eventually lucking out at the Hertz store. After arriving and meeting Cindy, she was very cool and we talked for a bit. I was pretty excited as the HOPE conference was on the 16th, something I had been looking forward to ever since I realized I would be able to go that year. I think I slept most of the day of the 15th, except to go to the bank and file my insurance claim. I thought everything was fine when I was given temporary credit, which was amazing as I was down to like $5, except I should have withdrew it as it was then rescinded. Aye. I then went to see my comedy selling brethren and say hi and get back into it.

The next few days was taken up by the HOPE conference which was fun, although not what I expected. Saturday night was fun….fucking around with some guys I met seeing if Lazlow was staying at the hotel so we could prank him….then just talking outside, watching some kind of security guard for either the conference or hotel take of his coat in an unnecessary display of machismo against a harmless old black guy. The next night after closing ceremonies, I had been talking to a guy I just met and we decided to go to a hackerspace/party that had been advertised. It was interesting there as I met Letty and JR who turned out to be real life superheroes, who gave me a newspaper article with them featured in it as they got on a train, then when me and Paul were reading it on the subway, we realized it was about them. A humorous end to a good night.

On Monday I went back to selling comedy tickets, which was good. I like the people I work with and it’s an interesting job….the lack of money is frustrating but it works out OK. I ended up staying with Jack for a few days over my birthday, which ended up being completely uneventful. I don’t think I have ever had a birthday with friends and drinking and something memorable…this year it looks like I might which will be awesome. It was great of Ryan to let me stay with him when I needed it as I had nowhere else and I think we became better friends because of it. It was hard sometimes with Sam, as she tried vaping which she doesn’t normally do and started tripping out over my HOPE schedule, thinking I was an evil criminal. No amount of pointing out that hacker has several definitions or that credible renowned people were attending would make a difference. Eventually she got over it and calmed down and apologized, but it was unpleasant while it lasted.

I finally went with Jack to Shopsin’s on Wednesday as he had been talking about it for a long time. It was indeed amazing, and if my budget were more than it was I would be happy to go far, far more frequently. Sam and Jack paid for my meal since I was traveling, which I thought was amazing. It was the first time I had really met Sam and she had been nothing but good to me, so it was a shame to see her not doing so well this time. Before leaving NYC I put an ad on Craigslist hoping to meet some girls, and I got an awful lot of responses which was nice. I wasn’t able to meet most of them but it was encouraging how many replied to me.
The rest of the week was uneventful. I managed to sell 5 tickets on Friday and 2 on Saturday after my head was finally clear from vapors, which was nice. An extra $100 or so for the week while hanging with my friends in the city. Not at all a bad deal considering. On the Friday before I left I had to wait before I could go home until 9pm or so, so after spending far too much time in Borders I chilled out at Columbus circle for an hour or so. I met an Israeli girl who was quite cool and we ended up talking for quite a while. We made plans to meet again but it never really came to fruition…, although now she wants to meet this weekend, which could be interesting.

I ended up staying with JR and Letty for 2 nights before leaving, which was interesting. I got to see their plans for Brooklyn and how seriously they took all the vigilante stuff. One Saturday night I went exploring rooftops with Letty in Brooklyn which was very cool. Climbing over fences and up fire escapes….watching people on the street and in windows….it was a fun and amazing experience, although it was embarrassing how much fitter Letty is than me.. It gave me an idea of how fun it could be to grow up in such a city where there is so much to explore. When walking back home we saw two big dogs slowly crossing the road and a car speeding, and we both assumed the car would slow down. Except it didn’t, and the dogs got hit and flipped like a slow motion movie. We both ran to see how they were but they seemed fine. Letty was far more distraught then I was over it which made me feel awkward. I never know how to act in such situations if I should pretend to care more than I do or just try and comfort those who are more affected. Some guy came who knew the owner of the dogs and took them back; still it was an amazing thing to see….somehow I don’t think the driver would have stopped had it been people crossing the road, which is scary to think about. It was weird hanging out with Letty as there is a definite mutual attraction….I just don’t know what she wants and don’t know what I can do. I don’t think I can handle a relationship and would be happy with just sex, but not at the expense of a potentially great friendship.

The suddenly it was Wednesday and it was time to head to the airport. Getting to Las Vegas in time from New York was a hectic enough experience. My flight was on a Wednesday, and I had been putting of seeing the King Tut exhibit until Wednesday because it was cheaper, and because I assumed I would have enough time to see it and catch my Wednesday afternoon flight. However, Tuesday evening was taken up by me standing up two poor girls I was meant to meet, so I could transfer some movies and shows to Jack’s computer. Transferring a terabyte can take a while, especially when cables easily come loose.

After doing that all night until maybe 10am, and realizing on the train I could not possibly make King Tut, I head home and pack up to get ready to go to the airport, which I had just assumed was JFK. Alas, it was La Guardia, something I realized maybe 2 hours before my flight. After looking up directions, which told me I could get there via bus and train in an hour or so….I decided not to risk it. I ended up taking a taxi from Christopher Street, which ended up costing about $40 with tip. I probably should have caught a taxi from midtown instead…but I got there about 15 minutes before checkin closed, so I made the right decision at least. At least I got to fly before August 1st, where I would have had to pay for a carry-on bag which is just ridiculous. Thankfully since then I have discovered Southwest and their amazing bags fly free policy. Safely at the airport, that was the end of my two weeks in NYC in summer. I made better friends with people I knew, climbed across rooftops in Brooklyn with a real life superhero, met some girls, ate some amazing food and went to a HOPE conference which was an experience in itself. I was still feeling unsure given my last 2 months in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and fucking things up with my ex best friend, yet at the same time I was determined to get my visa and make it back and start my business. Due to lack of research it took a lot longer, however I’m here now and the only way I can go is up.

June 30, 2011

Pants vs Underpants

Filed under: Issues...the world...etc.., Travel — Tags: , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 5:51 pm

It always irks me going to the UK hearing underpants referred to just as pants. I know that it’s just a regional difference, but still. It never made sense to me to call underpants pants, and then all pants trousers. Then it came to me…, by limiting the word pants to just underpants, there is then no way to refer to the entire set of non underpants below waist clothes. See, in US English, pants can refer to trousers, jeans, cords, sweatpants, slacks, shorts, parachute pants…whatever. With underpants being clear because they go under pants. With UK English, this doesn’t work. With pants relegated to meaning underwear, there is no word equivalent to pants in US English to refer to pants as a whole. You can refer to trousers as trousers, jeans as jeans and so on, but there is no word to refer to pants as a whole unless you go with trousers, which can be ambiguous. This is obviously a meaningless point as everybody understands each other and this problem never comes up as it is always obvious what is meant in context. Still, I think it’s interesting that one word for underwear can be said to have a disadvantage at all, as more often than not different words have no difference except as a result of perception.

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