Thursday, May 10, 2012

The 21st Century Tech Buggaboo

Okay this is mostly just a test to see if I have this blog thing down correctly before I move 8,000 miles away.  Wow....that sounds like I won't be seeing too many regulars for awhile.
    I'm pumped because I've been reading about so many new places to go.  For example:
         1.  I read about a place in the PHILIPPINES where for about $80 I can swim with whale sharks!  Wow!  By the way, that is not me in the red bikini....mine is a one - piece and blue. 
         2.  I read about a place in New Zealand where I can go black water rafting!  Blackwater rafting?? I had heard about whitewater rafting but what's with the racist tag??  Turns out those Kiwis aren't anymore racist than your next door neighbor (unless he's the Grand Dragon of the local chapter).  Nope, Blackwater rafting is when you raft underfriggin'ground!!   Here's how it works:  You hike into a cave, then wade in a river (at some points the water is so close to the ceiling that while walking, you have to turn your head side ways so that you can keep your ahead above the water...kinda important), but wait.... it gets crazier.  After a while that river decides it wants to fall off an underground cliff, so you have to jump into this blackness... and when you surface swim to a light and get on a raft.  Then you raft the rest of the river and enter a room that's filled with yellow glow worms!

The Cost of Communication

Wednesday, May 9, 2012
The Cost To Contact
Okay this is a technical day!
After doing tons of research this is what I've found out about contacting me while overseas:
Okay, that's an exaggeration but here's a breakdown of charges:
It'll cost me 50 cents to send you a text message.
It'll cost me 5 cents to receive a text message.
Me - Hey what's up?
You - Not much.  Going to the zoo today.

Me - Cool.  Be sure to checkout the new Panda exhibit.
You - I think they've taken the Pandas back to China.
Me - Are you sure?
You - Yes... I think I'm sure???
Me - Uh...noooo..."sure" means "YES" and "I think" means I'm not sure.
You - Okay then... I "think" they are back in China.
Me - I wonder why they went back to China?
You - Something about grinding them up and feeding them to old people for arthritis 
     Okay that sick little mundane conversation cost me $5 + $.25 = $5.25!!!  And I wasn't even invited to go to the zoo!!
It only gets worse with phone calls at $.99 a minute.
Me - Well...gotta go.
Mom - Okay, bye hon...
Me - Love you
Mom -  Love you too
Me - Take care of yourself
Mom -  You take care of yourself
Me - I will
Mom -  Oh! Real quickly.  Where are you headed next?
Me - I don't know.
Mom -  Well call me when you get there.
Me - I will
Mom - Will you?
Me - Yes
Mom -  Okay then.
Me - All right then...good bye
Mom -  Good bye
Me - I love you
Mom -  I love you too
... and so it goes!!
The next thing you know, I'm teaching English at the Ho Chi Min Elementary School and eating lunches wrapped in banana leaves because I have to pay off the phone bills.
The cheap ways to stay in contact are:
email - free
Facebook - free
this blog- free
texting if both people have an iproduct - free
texting and you don't have an product, then download an app named Text+
 The only catch is that I have to find a hotel/cafe/etc that has wifi.  In other words, it'll be spotty.  I can foresee days of not being in touch, which is probably a good thing for all parties.  But to help out with this tragic event...(You mean I can't Facebook 24/7???!!), here's something cool, especially for someone like me whose techie skills are circa 1800's - I downloaded an app (Did I just write that??!!) that finds every wifi in the world!  Awesome!!  I also downloaded an app that finds every ATM in the world!!  (I'm currently scouring the internet for that "pot o' gold app!!)
Traveling 30 years ago, I'd make three collect phone calls the entire summer - one to my Mom to wish her a happy birthday, one to my Uncle to wish him a happy birthday, and one to my brother to wish him a happy birthday.  Graduations, funerals, etc. had to wait till I returned.
To receive mail,  I'd have to go to an American Express office to receive letters from friends back home.  At most, I would pick up mail 4 or 5 times a summer.  There was no texting, no Facebook, no blogging, no Twitter, etc.  Familiar words were hard to come by and because traveling for 80 days alone can get very lonely, I would read the letters 50 times. 
      After the 37th time of reading a letter, I'd start imagining things like, "I wonder why she didn't put a period in this sentence...hmmmm....what's she really trying to say?"  or "Why did she write, 'Dear Steve' instead of her usual, 'Dearest Steve'?"....hmmm....what's she really trying to tell me??"  Auuughhh!!!
I sure love this 21st Century!

Don't worry Mom -
I'll still fork out the $.99 a minute on your birthday!

28 Years Later

Thursday, May 3, 2012
28 years later...

Well, I have to tell you... waiting for May 20th is not fun.  I needed to leave... yesterday... actually three months ago, but bahhhh, some other time!!
Let me introduce you to the greatest living creature ever.  This is serious.  He is a love bucket.
He is Bucky...
                    ... and Bucky gives far far more love than he could ever be given.
Bucky is who I seek to impress.  I have one goal in life and that is to be the man that Bucky thinks I am!
I have many friends but Bucky is THE friend.  Always happy.  Always greeting me at the door.  I owe him everything.  If the world was full of Buckys, we'd have no wars... Lotta poop, however.  Small tradeoff.

                  May 20th cannot get here soon enough.  Waiting for anything, good or bad, is torturous!  Whether it's a trip to DisneyLand or a trip to the gallows, "I've always been, 'Let's go already!!"  I remember when I would get swats at school and first would come the walk to the office, then the speech, and then the shaking of the principal's head as if in disbelief.  I always wanted to say, "What?  You're surprised that I hit him?  Didn't I tell you that if he took my pencil again, I was going to lay him out?"  but worse than the swats, though not by much, was the wait for the paddle to descend the arc and into the flesh.  Must of been hell to have had your head on a guillotine waiting and then hearing the blade slide down the rail.  I can only imagine that it would happen so fast that you'd have maybe one second after your head was lopped off to think, "I believe it missed..." and then darkness and silence.  Hmmmm, not exactly light reading eh?  How did I go from a story about precious Bucky to guillotines??!
                      I've been reading about three countries:  Ireland, Spain, and Morocco.  Such an eclectic group of countries?  First I was planning to go to Ireland, but then Zack, my 20 year old son said he wanted to go to Europe.  Cool!  Put down the books on Ireland.
       "Where do you want to go in Europe?" I asked, thinking for sure that he would say, "Amsterdam, then Rome, then Paris, then Madrid, then Berlin...., but nope he said, "Spain...and only Spain!" 
                        Very cool.  Get a book on Spain.   
                        Means we can take our time, travel slowly and in the long run, enjoy it more.
                So why Morocco?  Look at a map.  It's 30 minutes across the Straits of Gibraltar to Morocco.  The more I read about Morocco, the more I want to stay there 30 days!  There is a city called Chefchaouen, that has been painted blue.  Yes blue!  The walls of the city are blue.  Really cool looking, but I've got to wonder how that happened...
                    "Hey Mamook!  I just finished painting Fazzol's bedroom a pretty shade of blue and I was wondering what to do with the 300 gallons left over?" 
                    Yes...I'm stoked.  I get to take Zack traveling the ol' school way.   We may not sleep in train stations or on park benches, like the old days, but it won't be in Hiltons either.  Not unless I can sneak in there during the day and leave a window cracked open.
As always, if you want to join me for a short stretch or if you want to take a seriously discounted cruise, just tell me where and when.  I'm game.  If you have a friend or relative anywhere overseas, and you want me to visit them (ahem, read between the lines a little will ya!!)
The picture at the top is me at the Barrio Cafe, which is my favorite Mexican Restaurant.  I'll take you there when I return.  Right now, I'm 6' and 205.  If the past is a predictor of the future, I'm betting I'll return at 6' but be down to 190.  Bucky's not worried... so neither am I.
As for you Buck,  don't get up.