destroy selfie sticks, ask somebody instead

It’s close to summer, so the selfie sticks have emerged from hibernation with glorious abandon.  Even your dog(s) is in on the action.  They used the selfie stick to take a photo of them attempting to kidnap the partially cut meat off your kitchen counter.  Or so the online video prophets have told me.

I simply have never understood the selfie stick.  Instead of asking a kind passerby to take a picture of you, your friends and family, and said local landmark?  No, no, you can just do it yourself with this partial makeshift club thingy.  Why not just ask somebody for help instead?

My photography (and I take this word very loosely) is amateur garbage hour.  So you can take my opinion as the garbage it is.  But to me, selfie stick shots are the worst thing on the planet.  The human always takes up too much of the frame, the angles are weird, the resolution on cell phone cameras remains crap, and it just doesn’t look natural.

All of this for what?  So folks don’t have to talk to another human being?  Hasn’t online death spiral of human contact taken us far enough down the non-contact-outside-our-own-personal-bubbles-realm?  Why do we need yet another reason not to talk to another human we don’t know.

Destroy selfie sticks.  Ask somebody instead.  Let them take a picture of your special moment.  Let them laugh with you at how awesome it is.  Share the moment.  Actually get a good shot you can remember.  What do you have to lose?

Milwaukee – Oscar’s

So what does one do after they’ve hiked seven miles, were already tired to begin with, and just want a good meal and few beers before an early bed? Well, you plan ahead and plot a stop between hiking and the hotel at a place that is consistently on every top ten burger list for all of Wisconsin.

And you get Oscar’s

1712 West Pierce Street Milwaukee, WI 53204

http://www.oscarsonpierce.com/

They have awesome burgers. They have dozens of draft beers. They have a great atmosphere. I got in there late afternoon. There was one white-collar office party, one blue-collar office party, a reception for elderly veterans, and a bunch of random folks like me. All were smiling and having fun. Oscar was helping the employees everywhere. Everybody was enjoying themselves.

I got The Big O, because if you’re in a place so highly recommended, you get the flagship menu option. It did not disappoint. This is a really great burger. And it’s a superb place. Parking is available in their own lot. And you should go.

contemplating Sean Bean’s imminent demise

Sean Bean partially narrates this game I’m playing and it got me chuckling.  Once upon a time folks got to see Sean Bean brutally decapitated in Game of Thrones (that show I no longer watch).  This was the first of many main character deaths in that horror fetish of a series.  But at the time folks tried to rationalize what had just occurred.  I specifically remember saying to my brother, “It’s that much more dramatic because it’s Sean Bean.”

Wait, what?  That’s probably one of the dumber things I’ve ever said.  And man, do I spout some dumb shit.

For you see, Sean Bean does in fact die in everything he’s in.

And here’s even a Funny Or Die skit where Sean expresses his desire for a piranha based doom.

Sean Bean is only 58 years old, but perchance before he hits 60, he’ll be attacked by aliens.  They won’t come to conquer Earth, they’ll just come for Sean Bean.  And he’ll probably be smiling.

“Oh, hay there lads, got a ray gun I see?  Well, make it slow, if ya can.”

Wisconsin – Kettle Moraine Forest

We’re back, after an unexplained 13 week absence. During that time we had the pleasure of enduring work, more work, a visit with a self-described crypt-keeper-leprechaun, some more work, and we fought a dragon. Now we’re back to mindlessly telling stories and share the breadth of humanity’s experiences. Because it’s what we do. Side note: don’t ever fight a dragon. This was a bad choice.

Anyways, as part of their desire to endlessly prove their incompetence, I ended up in Milwaukee again for work a whole day early. Rather than tool around downtown again I decided to venture out away from the concrete. So I planned a hike through Kettle Moraine Forest, Lapham Peak Unit. It’s about a half hour drive west of Milwaukee via I-94.

I hiked the Moraine Ridge trail which they clock at 6.6 miles. I broke with my usual practice and didn’t carry any weight. I even left the boots aside and just used my running shoes. I was just too tired to get crazy with anything.

I saw something new in that all the trails are actually made for cross country skiing. In most places the paths are cut through the woods with a very wide diameter. It’s weird. Though they probably don’t have any choice for skiing.

When I was there it was still the end of winter, only the very barest of green saplings were beginning to appear.

The various trails constantly cross each other at multiple points.  Accordingly, the park unit labels each intersection and provides an updated map.  Beyond that they don’t really label the trails at all.  I had to check multiple times to ensure I didn’t take a wrong turn.  Even so, I did actually take the wrong way once and had to backtrack.

Dude is glad winter is ending.

There were many other folks on the trails, but I would not call them crowded.  Like a dummy I dropped my gloves and had to go back and get them at one point.  A couple put them where I could see them after finding them on the ground.  I passed them later and they were happy to see I’d found them.  I thanked them, though was a bit embarrassed.  I was a nice human moment.  I think they were Quebecois.

According to the trail marker, the Native Americans that used to inhabit the park grounds bent these trees on purpose as their own markers.  This one marked the way to a water source.  Here is another example.

Note the difference between the trees just emerging from winter, and the pine trees who laugh at winter.

I didn’t time myself, I stopped here and there.  Again, I was tired to begin with so it didn’t matter.  But I had a great time.  It was a good release from paperwork and all the stuff that doesn’t actually matter.  So nature did it’s job.  Hail nature.

oh, no

I’ve connected through Houston Bush before, but that was years ago.  So I deplane and as soon as I get out the gate I notice there’s a bunch of small screens everywhere.  The normal waiting areas with rows of chairs were apparently replaced with tables.  Each individual seat had a tablet in front of it.

I didn’t think much of it at first.  I had a quick hour to grab food before the next flight.  I ended up at a place called Bam Bam for Vietnamese.  I sit down at the bar, and I’m face-to-face with another tablet.

Oh, no.

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It’s the future.  Today!

It took me about five minutes to realize no bartender was coming to see me.  I figured out on my own that to get a beer or order food I had to use the tablet.  Then I had to swipe my credit card right on the spot.

Even after you’re done ordering, there’s this still that evil screen right in front of you.  They continuously bombard you with ads, proposed money games, and whatever else.  You can’t turn the damn thing off, at least not that I could figure out.

The beer was local Texas good, they had a great banh-mi, and a so-so salad.  But I couldn’t get over the darn screen.  I want a quiet beer and meal.  And maybe to watch sports behind the bar.  Not get ads shoved in my face.  Note the company logos on the shot above from the many, many usual suspects of the Giant Octopi.  I should have put a napkin over the thing.

I’m an introvert.  So you better believe it’s a legit problem when I say I actually genuinely missed ordering my food and drink from a real live person.  To actually engage in conversation with a fellow human.

I eventually figured out the screen thing, but almost nobody else did.  Other folks coming in were exasperated with trying to work it out.  And they got frustrated as the one poor waiter had to walk them through it.

Business consultants told Bam Bam and Houston Bush that there would be friction during the “initiation period”.  But that eventually customers will get used to using this technology on a regular basis to order.  Then they can save 47% on restaurant personnel costs once all orders are handled in this electronic manner.

This is the future.  Every single moment of your time is one giant opportunity for somebody to shove ads in your face.  Everyone notice the new gas pumps?  Where they throw ads at you in the 49 seconds it takes to pump your gas?

Machines probably won’t totally take over every job.  You won’t see a full blown robot bartender.  Instead you’ll see various aspects of humanity removed from the equation.  Technology will destroy jobs on the margins.  Instead of six waiters a restaurant will have two.  What are the other four newly unemployed humans supposed to do?

If you believe the wizards of the future, technology will free those four people to go become artists, or learn a new trade like plumbing, or whatever.  What I suspect will happen instead is that society will generally continue to become poorer and more unequal.

When traveling, I don’t think I’ll do this again.  If I see a screen like this again, I’m walking away.  I’ll take my cash to a business that employs humans.  And if every bar stool on the planet has a screen one day?  I don’t know what I’ll do, but that’ll be a sad, sad day.

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The future can kiss my ass.

why is CNN on everywhere?

You get to the airport and CNN is on at the gate. You go hide in the bar and CNN is above the drinks. You check into the hotel and they’ve got CNN on the wall.

All last week I was strapped to four work colleagues for travel. Everywhere we went there’s CNN on some screen. I suppose I normally don’t notice it when I travel. I don’t pay attention. But the four of them were all into this political craziness. I’m seated at some hotel bar with them and CNN is literally on a screen at the table. There was no escape.

I wanted to run and hide under some coats. I don’t get cable news. It’s like some kind of putrid disease. Everything is breaking news. Every station is biased. The talking heads shout at each other even though they’re so dumb they likely forget where their chauffer put their car keys.

But people drink this stuff in to their detriment. I think if you strapped a live human to a chair and forced him/her to watch four hours of CNN and four hours of Fox News a day for a month, they’d come out the back end of the process as a truly demented person.

Why does everybody choose CNN for their airport/hotel/bar? Why can’t they put sports on? Or a channel about cats? I think it’s because CNN was one of the original cable channels and the original news channel. It’s the glory days of 1993 when television was just starting to dominate our lives. One upon a time there wasn’t television at every single darn airport/hotel/bar. And CNN actually used to attempt to be serious and even somewhat classy. Remember Vader’s, “This is CNN”?   No more.

Well, we at TAP are here to help. Instead of harming people’s brains, we want to improve the quality of all our lives. So we propose that CNN be replaced on all travel screens with The Arcturus Channel.

The Arcturus Channel will have content fit for the brain of a five year old for most of the day. It’ll show nature videos of giraffes, and tigers, and whales and all kinds of Earth stuff. We’ll do a whole three hour special about how awesome volcanoes are. It’ll be like all those nature channels were before every cable channel became the same generic stuff with different channel names.

And from 9pm on, we’ll have The Arcturus Channel (After Dark), for us adults, after the kiddies have stopped traveling. So when you’re exhausting waiting for a connection at Houston Bush at 10pm you have something decent to watch. It’ll show monkey’s copulating, gazelles getting ripped apart by predators, and snow bears devouring baby seals.

Overall, The Arcturus Channel shall focus upon nature topics that are meant to calm your brain rather than disturb it. No politics, no controversy, just something to make you happy while you grind through your journey on the way to a hopeful happy destination. What a novel concept.

Mount Fuji, Part Two – Fuji stick

You’re supposed to bring home at least one item from every country if you can, or at least every trip.  How does one do this though if you’re constrained to one backpack?  For this reason and many others, I don’t really have too many corporeal possessions from my travels.

But sometimes you pick up an item that you find a way home any darn way you can.  I think I shipped my Fuji stick home via 1912 British Imperial tramp steamer.  I made it happen.  It cost me 13 pounds, 6 shillings, and a bottle of my finest barley swill.

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If you ascend Fuji, you have the option to take the wooden Fuji stick.  Not everybody does so.  Those who’ve been up multiple times have no need.  Some folks consider it a vicious tourist trap kind of thing.  But I just think it’s too cool.

The idea is you start out with this bare piece of wood.  At various way stations on your journey up, they use a hot brand to burn logos into the stick.  Here’s a shot of mine of a local carrying one up where he’s taken the flag off.

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Of note, whereas I left my Japanese flag on my stick, see how the local has taken his off.  I attribute this to the difference in patriotism between your average Japanese and say an American.

For example, my Parents have always had the Stars & Stripes flying outside their front door.  Always.  You would not see this type of behavior from almost any normal Japanese family.  Patriotism is a very different mindset between the two countries.

The Fuji stick takes this concept into overdrive as the flag that adorns it is not just any flag, but the older Rising Sun Flag of Imperial Japan.  I don’t know why Fuji chooses this over the modern and less controversial single red circle?  But anyways, a lot of locals took their flags off their stick.  Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t matter to me either way, I just find the concept interesting.

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Here’s a close up of one of the stamps.  A torii gate with the year I climbed, 2005.  Man, I’m getting freaking old.

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A few more stamps, one with 3,400 for 3,400 meters.  Then, above it again the year 2005, and 11,000 feet.  Note feet, not meters.  I think that guy must have had two stamps.  One that did meters, and one that did 11,000 feet for the gaijin.

My Fuji stick sits right next to my home desk, always.  You can actually catch it in the background of an old shot I had for a previous post where I talked about beer.  Win.

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