Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I guess this means that unless I really take the time today, I’ll never get through reading the entire Harry Potter series, from start to finish. I knew I should have planned that project better…
Through the magic of the Internet, and much like a scene from the teen sorcerer Potter novels, you can find out how Mrs. That Dan Guy and I spent our evening, bringing in the New Year, before it even happens! That’s right – I’ve never shared this with you all before, but I have magical powers, and have foretold in advance how tonight will unfold.
Read all about it here:
And here’s wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2009!!
Chow for now!!
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Now, here we are – the last couple of days left in the year, and 2008 is looking out the window, wondering where it will be come January 1. Which is kind-of an interesting question – where DO all the past years go, once they’ve come and gone? I’ve never seen a calendar with two Januarys, so the old year must have somewhere to go, when it has lived out its run??
I wonder if old years go to stay with other things that have faded over time, like Woolworth stores, or Paris Hilton’s recording career?
I wonder if past years travel together, visiting sites overseas with other years gone by – 1999 may be deep-sea fishing off of Cabo with 2004!
There could be the ultimate seniors bus on the road right now, visiting small towns with buffets and bingo halls in Nevada – 1901 sitting beside 1915, talking about that old coot 1887 behind his back. Of course, they could talk about him anywhere – that year is deaf as a portable flashlight.
There are two things that spring to mind after offering up this theory today:
1) I really need to start planning topics for these morning postings ahead of time
2) I hope that the folks at Mac know that I think about them – every single day…
Chow for now!!
PS - it is well worth scrolling down a few days, and reading some of the comments posted there. At least in my own humble opinion...
Monday, December 29, 2008
Well, that line from an old John Denver song would be accurate for everything, EXCEPT my beloved Windows Vista computer. Something in this house affects this cursed thing beyond any and all hope. It cannot function normally in this house.
Some things never changing, our return has prompted once again all the issues I’ve enjoyed NOT enduring while away on our vacation. Our firewall appears to be malfunctioning, most programs take forever to load, and when they finally do deign to appear, they provide the infamous “program not responding” message. It is enough to make a person daffy. Daffier even than I might appear whilst simply posting this stuff…
Oh well, at least we’re home, and literally both home today. Mrs. That Dan Guy was supposed to go back to work today, but we were both up most of the night last night, either restless or God knows what. So, she called in an additional day of holiday time, and will return tomorrow.
That way she will be around to hear me rave about how much I love working with this computer, all day long…
Chow for now!!
Sunday, December 28, 2008
After railing on for MONTHS about how horrible Windows Vista is to work with, turns out there may be some sort of interference right here in my own home, that affects the operation of my computer.
While we were away the past couple of weeks, the computer has been flawless. I even received an error message regarding another ongoing quirk, which I’ve never received whilst here at home. That may allow me to fix that particular problem.
After our return late last night, I’ve been trying to do a few things this morning, and all the old familiar (annoying/frustrating/maddening) problems are back. Which leads me to believe that there is some sort of interference here in the homestead that affects my beast.
Which, also means that I may have to hold off on Mac, lest it becomes afflicted as well.
This all makes some sort of sense, as we have experienced a few more oddball things here in the Such Is Life household (excluding myself), such as remotes not working properly, and other assorted electronic snafus.
Boy, you’d think that living under transmission towers would actually BENEFIT our electronic devices…
Chow for now!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Late start, and not because we were up partying hearty the last night of our vacation.
Our in-room internet expired yesterday afternoon, and I was reluctant to start it up again, because the connection for entering our credit card info wasn’t a secure connection. Once, maybe – twice, not a chance.
Then, I tried to use my Blackberry, but that didn’t work either. Using wireless at airport, but now we are boarding. More later…
Chow for now!
Friday, December 26, 2008
Happy Boxing Day, to anyone out there that isn’t already standing in a line-up somewhere - to return crappy gifts, or take advantage of price-slashing post-Christmas sales.
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button – the new movie released Christmas Day was where Mrs. That Dan Guy and I found ourselves yesterday. An informal poll of the ticket wicket lady indicated that Marley And Me was probably winning the day at the box office, but this film had the theatre packed out as well.
This movie had piqued our curiosity during pre-opening commercials, and boy, did it ever live up to expectations! A magical movie, spanning the lifetime of the title character and his circle of “family” and friends. Without divulging too much, the movie is a loving postcard to New Orleans.
Well, frankly that didn’t reveal much of anything, did it?? Highly, highly recommended – the audience even broke into applause at the end.
After the flick, we had to hightail it back to the restaurant where we had made reservations for Christmas dinner. Yet another choice yesterday that lived up to and maybe even exceeded our expectations. A truly delightful meal that left us as stuffed as the tom turkey that we feasted upon.
Now, there’s my only complaint. We don’t get tom turkeys in Canada. We get turkeys that are pretty fine and dandy, but these tom turkeys are absolutely delicious. Although, I would feel better if it were a Clyde or a Zeke – Tom makes it sound like too normal and nice a bird to munch on. But maybe that’s just me…
Chow for now!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Reno 08 – Day Three
OK, first off – what are you doing reading this blog today? Go open a present, or slug back some rum-soaked eggnog, for Pete’s sake!! Sheesh!
However, if you are sticking around, here’s how yesterday unfolded:
After a lazy morning, and a lovely breakfast in the hotel’s coffee shop, Mrs. That Gas Bag and I took to the streets of Reno once again. Since the last time we were here many, many years ago, Reno has undergone some major changes. Many of the shops and restaurants we enjoyed before are all long gone. Many more are shuttered or recently shut down. Reno is a blend of bustle and ghost town, truth be told. The charming old casinos have folded their tents, as the larger complexes have lured over many travellers.
Speaking of travellers, not a great couple of days for holiday travelling yesterday and today. Ugh! We really are counting our blessings, this Christmas day.
We snooped around Harrah’s (pretty quiet), and hiked over to the old Sands, the last place we stayed when we were here before. The place has changed so much we didn’t recognize one iota of the joint. They now feature a large Mels’ Diner, which is where we had an awesome dinner stop. I had one whopper of a chili dog, about the size of an atlas. Couldn’t even put a dent in it – but it put a dent in my digestive system, if you know what I mean...
Speaking of Mel’s (made famous in the film American Graffitti), California was rife with George Lucas trivia – we even drove by his sprawling production complex on one of our tours of San Francisco – I always just assumed he was in L.A., but he also keeps his heart in San Francisco.
Once we made our way back to our hotel, we played a few hours of Pai Gow poker, a very friendly game where we had a blast with a family from Spokane, or thereabouts. That was pretty much it, as we wound down our day, and headed back to our room.
Where “It’s A Wonderful Life” was playing on TV, which we settled in to enjoy. Nothing gets you in the mood for Santa like that old holiday chestnut.
Hope you have a great day with your own family today!
Chow for now! Ho Ho Ho!!!!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Watching the news this morning, we are reflecting a lot on how lucky we’ve been so far on this trip. Holiday travellers all across North America are not getting as fortunate a break as we’ve had, so we’re awfully thankful for the angels that have been watching over us.
All the national broadcasts are showing delayed and cancelled flights, and just now there was a breaking news alert on a mishap in Seattle with a de-icing agent. What a way to add stress into an already highly stressful time of the year…
Yesterday, we took to the streets of Reno, safe in the knowledge that that crazy Johnny Cash is no longer with us, and might pull a Folsom Prison on us. You might want to Google the lyrics there, for that comment to make any sense…
Cash presence or not, we did take our lives in our hands later in the day, walking unwittingly through a pretty bad part of town, confirmed later by a cab driver returning us to our hotel. We had left our room about 10:30 AM, with the sole intent of making it out to Reno’s big shopping mall. A day or two before Christmas. Yes, we are indeed snap crackle and pop…
However, along the way we ended up waylaid at the Silver Legacy casino, and then the elderly Cal-Neva. Untouched by time, the Cal-Neva is one of the oldest casinos left here, in the downtown strip. We were delayed long enough to have lunch there around 1PM, at an authentic lunch bar, with an authentic short order cook. We had authentic hot dogs, and later, I had some authentic gaseous emissions – sorry for painting THAT picture (honestly though, gentleman that I am, I am protecting the identity of the true gas bag…)
From the Cal-Neva, we finally began the hike to the shopping mall, which turned out to be much further away than it looked to be on the map. We had to make yet another pit stop, at The Peppermill. Besides being exhausted, we had also started to notice more and more unsavoury characters along the way, so we thought it may be best to cab it the rest of the way to the mall.
By the time we finally made it to the cab stand outside Macy’s, it was after 5PM. Wattaya gonna do? When in Rome…
We walked even more throughout the mall, eventually picking up a few things on our wish list. The thing we noticed most was the lack of lines in the stores. Sure, there mall was busy, but we never had to stand in a single line. If this had been Calgary, the mall would have been absolutely insane. It was nutso before we even left. So it was surprising to note that a couple of days before Christmas, the stores were rather barren. I suspect this won’t bode well into the new year.
On a side note, last night when we were wandering around the hotel, an NHL game was on many of the TVs in our complex - Edmonton versus Phoenix. Once again, Canada was close by (Edmonton was the original Canadian team that Wayne Gretzky played for. Phoenix used to be located in Winnipeg, for that matter). Last night, we watched San Jose pulverize the Vancouver Canucks – if we had stayed in San Fran, we could have seen that game live! Very cool…
Hope you’re already with your loved ones, or make it there on time to celebrate!
Chow for now!!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Well, we reluctantly boarded an Amtrak train yesterday (at 6:55 AM no less!!), and departed San Francisco. THAT was a depressing thing to do. I think both Mrs. That Dan Guy and I will agree that SF just may have catapulted to the top of the list of our favourite cities. What a beautiful burg! Maybe we did leave our harps there…
On the plus side, we got to take our first-ever train ride, through the beautiful Sierra mountains. Now there’s the way to travel – super comfy, leisurely, and you can roam around – unlike airplanes, where we are rapidly approaching a day where passengers will all be herded into a cargo hold, and shoved in as compactly as possible. But they will at least drop pretzels from the ceiling, just to maintain the illusion of service. Maybe that’s just my own perspective…
The train ride was a bit longer than we had expected, but overall we’re happy we finally got to experience it. Train travel in Canada is just plain prohibitive – for example, it cost just over $80.00 US for us BOTH to get from San Fran to Reno, but the same distance in Canada would be about $2500.00 US. EACH!! And all you’d see out the window would be prairies and maple leaves. Trains in Canada are essentially as expensive as a few months of college education, with a whistle.
After spending days and days walking around San Fran, the long train ride made us sluggish and sleepy. We played a few slots, had some dinner, then somehow amazingly found the energy to force ourselves back into the casino. Where I won a slot tournament! $100, thank you very much. We must try that again, perhaps today…
We haven’t been to Reno in years, maybe almost a decade. We need to get out today, and see what’s changed, aside from the stunningly full hairline I would have displayed back then.
One thing we’ve enjoyed the whole trip is how Canada has followed us around. We’ve heard Michael Buble, Bryan Adams, Nelly Furtado, Celine Dion, and more while we’ve been across the border, from music and muzak systems everywhere.
Just an observation – we’re anything but homesick :-)
Chow for now!!
Monday, December 22, 2008
Due to a bad weather system moving through North America, we were rained out here yesterday. It was a soggy day by the bay, hampering our last kick at the sightseeing cat. (I believe I have said this before – I am not advocating kicking cats when I use phrases like I just did – please be kind to cats and any other animals, at this festive time of the year.)
Prevailing poor weather aside, we were still able to squeeze in a bit more exploring, even hiking up Hyde St. to walk down Lombard, the most crooked street in the world. Not crooked like Nixon – just windy. And to be clear, that’s “windy”, as in winding and weaving, not as in “windy”, even though the wind was gusting during the rainstorm we were out in.
We even stopped in at an iconic California In ‘N’ Out Burger, although it looks just like any other fast food restaurant when you’re in there. Icons aren’t always easily distinguished from common eateries, I suppose. At any rate, the burger was indeed delightful, one of our few brushes with beef in the past seven days. I am truly going to miss all the fresh crab, once we leave here later this morning – I am considering seeing how well some might travel, if I spritz them with water occasionally on the trip home. I’m more worried about how they’ll get along in my carry-on baggage – I reckon they’re called crabs for good reason.
Must run, we are packing up early, to catch a train. Our first-ever Amtrak experience – this could be a whole new wrinkle on the Polar Express story – of course, we will let you know how that worked out, tomorrow morning.
Chow(der) for now(der)…
So long, San Francisco!!!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
The Sunday Morning “Nobody-Asked-Me-To, But-Here-I-Go-Anyway” Concert Review – Dame Edna.
(or, Why I Will Never Be A Professional Concert Reviewer…)
There are plenty of shows to see here in San Francisco. During our many tours of the city, we learned that most shows debut here, before they ultimately end up on Broadway. There’s a run of Grease playing right now, with Taylor Hicks from American Idol, plus Wicked, one of the big Broadway hits in recent years.
Seeing as how we were in San Francisco, we thought “when In Rome” - why not see Dame Edna, arguably the most famous cross-dressing performer in the world? First, we both enjoy her/his comedy, and the chance to see an icon in the historic Post Street Theatre just sweetened the pot.
We did wonder if a full show might be a bit much, but those concerns were quickly thrown out the metaphorical window – Barry Humphries, aka Dame Edna started the show with a mockumentary video, alleging a dark side of the Dame. When he/she arrived on stage, it was hilarious from the get-go – plenty of planned routines, but loads of interaction with the audience as well, allowing Edna to berate and heckle her own audience. All good-naturedly, but funny as hell.
She put on a lengthy show as well, over two hours with a brief intermission. Too many highlights to list, but a second-half “pilot” talk show with “real people” from the audience was quite the vehicle for Edna’s humour, as well as an audience participation segment with fresh gladiolas that had been tossed into the audience. Really, you had to be there. We’re glad we were…
San Francisco 08 – Day Five
Our day started with breakfast at the retro-diner Johnny Rockets. Quite a view of the bay and Alcatraz, whilst we digested our eggs and toast. Made me wonder if the inmates had as good a view of Johnny Rockets.
From brekkie, we set off for Pier 39, the third-most popular destination in America after Disneyland and Disney World. We were looking for the resident sea lions, and it didn’t take long for us to both hear them, and then see them. Lazy buggers, all they do is lounge on the pier. Not a one of them was juggling a ball on his nose, or clapping – just as sedentary as couch pillows. We still took a few pictures though, just to say we saw them.
We wandered up from Pier 39 to Boudin Bakery, to watch them make fresh sourdough bread. In the shape of alligators, crabs, and even a Canadian Maple Leaf – probably because they had heard we were in town. That was awfully nice of them.
From the bakery, we finally took a ride on one of the famed cable cars, a mode of transportation as efficient as Fred Flintstone’s jalopy. It’s something you have to do when you’re in San Francisco, but between being jammed in like sardines, and moving as slow as an oak tree migrating to Bemidji - I won't rush to do so again. Happily, we did make it in time for our show (reviewed above, in case you’ve already forgotten).
We ended the day by having dinner at Fisherman’s Pizza, a concept that in my many years of sport fishing I had never once considered trying to land – a mushroom pizza. You learn something new every day…
On a side note, the bonk I took to my forehead early on in this vacation left three distinct marks. A dash, and two dots. I wondered what that might mean in morse code, and was flabbergasted to learn that dash dot dot stands for “D”, as in Delta Echo Charlie. I somehow managed to temporarily tattoo my own initial on my forehead.
This folks, is my life. Please send your sympathies to Mrs. That Dan Guy.
Chow(der) for now(der)!!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
NOTE: Charlie has the weekend off, hopefully he can return next week – I think he’s a little stressed over the impending holiday…
San Francisco 08 – Day Four
We are squeezing every conceivable drop out of this visit to The City By The Bay! Yesterday, we got ready a little later than we had hoped, and when we finally headed out the door, we stumbled upon a local restaurant that was quite a surprise. I think they called it “IHOP”. Reasonable meal, decent prices – they should consider expanding these restaurants outside of San Fran – I think they could gain some popularity outside the city.
After our Rooty Tooty Fresh N Fruity breakfast (come on, that has a chance of becoming as popular as The Big Mac!!), we took advantage of the last day of our Hop On/Hop Off bus pass, and headed into Union Square, where the humungous Macy’s store has a skating rink set up outside, directly across the street. A rather slushy rink considering the temperatures, but a rink nonetheless – it looked positively seasonal. Just over at one end of the rink is a painted heart, painted by Tony Bennett, no less! It is across from the Chancellor Hotel, the first place he sang “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”, and the rest, as they say, has been history. The hotel is also famous as the place where Al Jolson shuffled off of this mortal coil – no word on any song he may have sang prior to that.
We also checked out the Apple Store behind Macy’s – purely investigative. Fairly close to the prices back at home, so I don’t think Mac will be under my Christmas tree this year. Maybe later…
By the way, San Francisco is also where MacWorld is held, CEO Steve Jobs will NOT be here. Mac trivia, even on holidays. (The brand is calling my name, and soon I must answer.)
Leaving Macy’s, we hopped on just as our tickets were expiring, and managed to catch the one tour we hadn’t been able to take so far – The Golden Gate Park loop, which also included Japantown (an incredible, picturesque area of Victorian-era homes), the GG park (even more picturesque), Haight Ashbury (the hippie-filled area famous for the “summer of love” back in the 60’s – also a goldmine location of 60’s rock music, including The Grateful Dead among many more) – and finally, Postcard Row, the most picturesque of all on this tour. It is also where scenes from the old hit TV show Full House were shot. Man, did that bring back memories. I still can’t stand the actor that played Joey.
Our education here has been eye-opening. So many things got their start here – The Gap, Levi Jeans, Folgers Coffee, the term “sugar daddy”. We even saw the housing complex where Patty Hearst was kept when she was kidnapped decades ago, and the bank that she robbed while under the sway of her kidnappers. This city is loaded to the brim with history.
Speaking of brim, after a stop at Ghirardelli’s Chocolates, we had dinner at the Buena Vista, famous as the first U.S. bar to introduce Irish Coffee, and it is a spectacular coffee that they serve. Just seeing them make the product is a show in and of itself – drinking it is just plain sinful. I had to control my “ooohs” and “ahhhs”, but many did get out.
We met a terrific couple from Houston there, who dined with us. Made the experience even more memorable. They shared stories of their own travels, and had some great recollections of New Orleans and three hurricanes that they dodged or were affected by. A very nice way to wind down the evening.
Today, we are in search of sea lions, and our first cable car ride, if you can believe it.
Chow(der) for Now(der)!!
Friday, December 19, 2008
San Francisco 08 – Day Three
OK, technically this is Day Four (we arrived late the first day, so we haven’t been including it) – which has no bearing on anything, but I felt it had to be mentioned…
Yesterday we hopped on the Hop On/Hop Off tour bus, and made our way into Chinatown. We had a pretty decent Chinatown when we lived in Winnipeg, and Calgary has a very impressive area. But San Francisco, well let me tell you, sister – is unreal! I had hoped to post a few images to convey some of the flavour, but thanks to this crappy internet in our room, I am hopelessly unable to. Let’s just say that we walked for three and a half hours, when combined with Little Italy – it’s a fairly sprawling, robust and eye-popping neighbourhood.
When we arrived at the ornate gate that leads into Chinatown, we wanted to grab a bite to eat. But nature was vigorously calling collect, so we stepped into the first restaurant we spotted – a French one, Café de la Presse. Pretty darn good itself.
During our stroll of Little Italy, we stopped in at Francis Ford Coppola’s Café Zoetrope, a history-laden bistro with ties to The Godfather, and more. We had a glass of wine, soaked in the ambience, and purchased a Director’s Cut Chardonnay to bring home. We were all a-tingle, but I think that may have been the vino…
After our tour of these charming areas of San Fran, we hopped back on the Hop On/Hop Off, and returned to our room, to kill some time before we got back on, to do the Night Tour. This was a chance to see the city aglow in the holiday lights, or just generally aglow. The weather, continuing to be unseasonably cold, had also brought forecasts of a major rainstorm, which happily held off until we had completed the tour of San Fran, at night – very enjoyable.
Our evening concluded at Joe’s Crab Shack, on Fisherman’s Wharf. We seem to be dining here every night, but it has been absolutely heavenly each and every time. We split a bucket of crab, and garlicky mussels – beyond description - we chawed on those crab shells like vultures on roadkill.
OK, that may not be the prettiest picture I could have painted for a delicious serving of succulent seafood, but we really did gnaw on those crab like we were being sent away to Alcatraz for 20-To-Life. I may never be able to take Seafood Night at TGI Friday’s seriously again…
Chow(der) for Now(der)!!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
San Francisco ’08 – Day Two
Well, the internet connection here in our room is spotty at best. Honestly, it’s a flippin’ Dalmatian. It suggests that the connection is “excellent”, but you can’t seem to do anything with it. Picture loading is damn-near impossible. Great way to start your day…
Hotel Safety Tip #1: Do not open the doors to the TV cabinet, and then root around for something in the drawers below, without remembering that you have open doors right above your head. When you go to lift your head, there is every likelihood that you will meet (with great force) one of those open doors, resulting in one grand goose egg, which will play a starring role in the rest of your holiday pictures.
Yesterday was one full day of activities. We had prearranged tickets to tour Alcatraz, plus two days on the Hop On/Hop Off sightseeing bus, which runs around most of the neighbourhoods of San Fran.
Alcatraz was something else – and before I forget, the bridge we drove under upon our arrival from the airport was the Bay Bridge, NOT the Golden Gate Bridge, which is clear across town. Hey, you see one bridge…
Alcatraz – there is one freaky sight to see. We did the whole meal deal, touring with the audio presentation. Hard to imagine life inside this cold, gruesome facility. I don’t think Elvis could have made Jailhouse Rock appear so appealing, from inside this joint.
On the odder side, the first set of cells we were drawn to were Cells # 110, and 112. Noticeably absent? Cell # 111!! Which we did find shortly thereafter, but this freakin’ number set continues to creep into my life, even in creepy places now! Aye Caramba!!
The Alcatraz jaunt afforded us spectacular views of the city while on the cruise there and back, AND the actual Golden Gate Bridge. We followed up the tour with lunch at Johnny Rockets, a 50’s style diner (also in West Edmonton Mall, last time we were there, BTW…), a far cheerier place than The Rock.
From lunch, we hopped on the tour bus, and embarked on a round-trip tour of San Fran. We drove through downtown, seeing Union Square, China Town Little Italy, and more – this is one diverse burg! Loads of trivia from the guide, about scenes that were shot here from Dirty Harry movies, and The Godfather, just to name a few. We’ll be spending more time in those areas today, even though the weather forecast isn’t so hot. It is, indeed, a cold snap, with snow hitting the ground in surrounding areas, but hopefully not here. Sheesh – how far away from Canada do you have to go??
The tour also took us right across the spectacular Golden Gate Bridge, and over to View Point, for even more spectacular photo opportunities, which I may or may not be able to share with you, thanks to this crappy internet situation. Ugh… Oh yeah, and a leisurely drive through The Presidio, also remarkable.
We ended our evening on the Wharf, at Tarantino’s. Fantastic views of sailboats decorated for Christmas, at rest in the harbour, and amazing seafood offerings on the menu. We needed a trolley to roll our way out the door – dee-licious!!!!
Better, run, we have more explorin’ to do today!
Chow(der) for now(der)!!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Today’s column is online. Check out Santa’s Blog at:
San Francisco ‘08 – Day One
Yesterday was our first full day in San Fran, so we decided to check out our immediate neighbourhood. It was also the start of some pretty chilly winter weather that rolled in, so our escape from Canada, which we were snickering about just the day before, was somewhat thwarted. We actually had to buy heavier jackets, and dig out our ear muffs and gloves. So much for “sunny California”… Oh well, at least it isn’t -50!!!!!
We pretty much walked up and down Fisherman’s Wharf yesterday, checking out the various piers. Pier 39. Pier 33. Pier Pressure. There are piers and piers and piers for as far as the eye can see. Or peer...
We did snap a whack of pictures, which I will try and post in a photo-share, although the internet in our room is proving a bit spotty.
Among our varied stops was the Hard Rock Café, for lunch. Quite the history lesson there, what with the proximity to Haight Ashbury, and the 60’s psychedelic music scene. The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix all have memorabilia on display, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We thought about trying some brownies for dessert, but decided we didn’t want to take any chances.
Along the walk, I got bush-whacked. I had been warned to avoid the Bushman, but like our trip earlier this year to New Orleans, I managed to immediately break all those records for avoiding certain scams and tourist tags, by getting startled by the Bushman early in the afternoon. For those unaware, the Bushman, hold branches in front of himself, then pops out to scare tourists. You are then required to contribute to his "fundraising efforts".
Then, just a few moments later, I was hit up by a group of enterprising morons that wanted to shine my running shoes – the exact same scam that I fell for Day One in New Orleans. It was about that time that I asked Mrs. That Dan Guy to check my back for some sort of sign indicating my stupidity.
Along the way, we snapped remote pictures of Alcatraz, and a very distant Golden Gate bridge. We made our way to The Cannery, and the very unique Musee Mecanique – a building filled with vintage games and carnival attractions – all in working order. Tres cool!
We even caught a commercial for a Nickelback concert – a popular rock band from our province of Alberta – Canada remains on our periphery…
Just a couple of brief observations before we sign off for today:
1) San Francisco sourdough is about as close to heaven as I have ever been – YOWZA!!
2) The trolleys may be a charming local attraction, and famous around the world, but when they roll by under your hotel room window at night while you’re trying to sleep, they sound like about eleven dumpsters welded together, with the wheels taken off, being dragged leisurely along a gigantic iron cheese grater. Or, for my Canadian readers, it sounds like an 8,000 pound curling rock being slid along a corrugated tin roof. Have these people never heard of lubrication??
Chow for now!!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
So, we hopped into a cab in Calgary yesterday morning, where the temperature was -40ºC, with the wind chill. Even Jack Frost was making travel arrangements – nobody needs to be that freakin’ cold!!
We landed in beautiful…SAN FRANCISCO, where the weather was actually on the plus side of the thermometer – a balmy +50ºF – which was kind-of funny, because everyone we met was griping about how cold it was. To us, it was like lying on a lawn chair in an Easy Bake Oven. Which, I realize would be kind-of tough unless we were leprechauns, but I’ve only had one cup of coffee this morning – so sue me!!
We are staying in the Fisherman’s Wharf area, so our drive from the airport to the hotel took us right under the famed Golden Gate Bridge. It was already pretty dark out by the time we settled in, so we opted to take a walk in the immediate area, and grab a bite to eat. It was also rainy, so even though we were baking in the California heat, we wore windbreakers. We stood out as tourists as we passed locals wearing – and I’m not kidding here – heavy coats, scarves and mittens. It was a little reminder of Canada, where when last we looked, even the ice cubes were wearing flannel blankets…
This is our first-ever trip to San Fran, so we were a little worried that we should have worn flowers in our hair. But nobody else seemed to be, so we got over that faux pas pretty quickly.
I’m also pretty sure we won’t leave our harps in San Francisco either, because neither one of us owns one.
Finally, we expected many places to eat with Rice-A-Roni on the menu, but all we seemed to find were seafood restaurants. We chose one from the staggering many, and had some awesome fresh crab cakes, clam chowder (Aye Caramba – spectacular), and fish. Due to the rain, we ate inside, but there were loads of options to eat fresh crab right on the walk way. Well, not right ON the walk way, but you probably already knew that, smarty-pants!
Well, we need more coffee, and maybe some breakfast. I’ll sign off for now, but keep the updates coming as the days go by.
Chow for now!!
Monday, December 15, 2008
-40ºCelsius with the wind chill!! It has to be warmer at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean, than it is in our backyard right now!!
Not that I plan on going into our yard anytime soon, but if I WERE, it would be colder than a mackerel at Captain Highliner’s frozen fish factory… Fo-Shizzle!!
Man, days like this are the reason Canada is so big, yet so under-populated. Even for a nation of hockey lovers, there are times when you start to think that sitting on the Equator might not be such a bad option. Even sitting on an element of our stove sounds pretty good right about now…
It’s so cold outside, even the sun is wearing a scarf.
It’s so cold outside, the pine trees are pining for heat.
It’s so cold outside, me timbers arrr shivered, and it ain’t even pirate season yet!!
Chow for now!!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
After griping about a few minor skiffs of snow the last few months, we got it good the other day. Had to shovel our way out together yesterday morning, but even though it was just as cold then as it is today, we decided to take a little walk in the cold, fresh snow. It was actually pretty decent. Although, when the wind hit exposed spots on your face, you could actually hear the skin molecules pop like champagne bubbles. One of my cheeks looks like I’m wearing a saggy old sock on it – I sure hope THAT clears up quick!!
This morning, it has remained just as bitterly cold, and there was another light dusting of the white stuff. I may not even bother brushing it off, but we’ll see – if cabin fever sets in, I just may venture out, and see if I can get the other cheek to match the saggy one…
Chow for now!!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The chickens are just decoratin’ the ole coop – ta get inta the Xmas spirit. The big day is comin’, so it was high time we got our act together.
Not that the little cluckers are all that useful. Unless you include eatin ‘tinsel and chewin’ on ornaments as participatin’…
As for Hen Rietta, well, if ya happen to be a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue judge, for the love of Pete, tell ‘er she ain’t got a chance, and mebbe we can all get on with our lives here!!
What a dingbat!!
As for ole Cornelius, well…what can I say? Ya run into too much chicken fencin’ as a young chick, and yer head gets a bit scrambled. Ya gotta love him, but he’s just a big galoot.
So, as ya musta surmised, I’M the decoratin’ committee, tryin’ to herd these wayward poultry-pinfeathers inta some semblance a organized decoratin’. Give me strength...
That’s just one of the reasons The Great Chicken invented Scotch…
“Deck the halls with balls of corn feed, Fa-La-La-La-La, La-La-La-LAH!!!!!”
Oh well, as long as we’re havin’ a good time – there are still quite a few days before Santa comes, and flies over what could look like an explosion at the pine tree forest.
Hopefully we can get this crap under control, before I start addin’ vodka to the mix…
Cluck for now!!
Friday, December 12, 2008
12 12 08!
Two twelves, side by side, starting out the day together. What sort of trouble will those little rascals get into???
We are supposed to become gripped in the icy chill of a typical Canadian winter starting today. Temperatures of -17ºC and even lower, which is much like the shady side of the moon. Even penguins wear their parkas when it gets this cold outside.
So far, we’ve had nominal snowfall, and relatively mild temperatures up until this part of our winter season. Well, mild for hardy Canadians – toughened by a love for ice hockey and strong beer. In the Such Is Life household, we’re toughened more by a love for pretzels, and ice cappuccinos.
The clock is counting down to our winter holiday – we will depart the frostbitten vistas of our snow-covered land, and head towards friendlier climes. Hey, we may choose to live here, but nobody said we had to stick around when the thermometer plunges!! That’s why God invented airplanes, Mrs. That Dan Guy always says…
Chow for now!!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Ha Ha Ha!!
This is a sign I recently noticed, posted in a washroom where someone obviously gets ready for their day in the early morning hours. It would appear by the exaggerated warning that this person must use copious amounts of hairspray, which has prompted this notice to be posted.
Frankly, between you and me, this sort of thing happens here in the Such Is Life household as well. Every morning, Mrs. That Dan Guy spritzes, sprays, and shellacs her wayward strands into submission, so that they will withstand a gale force wind, or at least remain orderly for the time she spends in her workplace.
To be honest, small birds have landed in there, and never been seen again. I swear!
However, I would never be so crass as to post a sign like some poor sap did for this other individual – that would just be like poking a stick into a bee-hive.
I’m far too smart to be risking my life with that sort of tomfoolery…
Chow for now!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The latest, subtitled The Judas Chalice had scenes shot in New Orleans, or at least stock footage from there that was inserted into the film. Particularly freaky in that discovery were the amount of shots that corresponded with photos taken while WE were in New Orleans – including one shot (of many) that we recently had developed to put on our travel wall – this one in particular featuring a smiling MTDG in front of the very same spot shown in the footage.
We loooooved New Orleans.
And we loved Boston too – which we always scan when watching Boston Legal, for the landmark shots they show on that soon to sadly-be-missed TV drama/comedy. There’s one building they always seem to show – I think it’s the old City Hall or something civic like that – it's an older building with loads of ornate gold on the roof dome. We get damn-near giddy whenever we see that stuff…
Ah yes, we are truly weirdos – read about more of our insanity in today’s newspaper column, which just happens to be online yet again:
Chow for now!!
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
The Tuesday Morning “Nobody-Asked-Me-To, But-Here-I-Go-Anyway” concert review – Sarah Brightman.
(or, Why I Will Never Be A Professional concert reviewer…)
I will admit right at the outset today that despite the stature of Ms. Brightman, this was one concert both Mrs. That Dan Guy and I were feeling a bit mixed about. There’s no question – she’s a superstar, and when the show was announced, I felt that we should definitely see her performance.
But in the grand scheme of things, Sarah Brightman is a bit…how can I say this…
Her swelling and grand New Age music pieces generally leave us indifferent, but her voice, well…wow. She can hit the notes in places where most singers wouldn’t even know where to look. And, she’s most famous for her role in The Phantom Of The Opera, a musical we still can’t get out of our heads, almost 20 years after seeing it staged.
Anyhow, there’s a point here somewhere – we were going into our last concert of the year (on Canadian soil) with some trepidation. And our smaller, crappier camera.
The stage featured a unique trio of large and imposing columns, which turned out to be mobile, but fit together they served as a see-through screen for the projections that displayed there throughout the concert. Very innovative – we've never seen anything like it before.
Now, I did mention that Brightman’s non-theatre catalogue features a lot of New Age-y, over-the-top stuff in the vein of Enya and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. To backdrop that, the projections featured lots of imagery that wouldn’t be at all out of context on a Meatloaf album cover. Dark grottos, ancient structures, and faerie wonderlands. As a matter of fact, you couldn’t help thinking after the first song or two that maybe this was exactly the sort-of stuff that pixies, elves, faeries, gnomes and even hobbits listen to, after a hard day of doing whatever those beings might do. Very mystical stuff.
It was, truth be told, one of the most elaborately staged shows we ever seen, and we have seen many of the major divas – Celine, Cher, Diana, and even Bette’s new Vegas revue – all mild by comparison. There were (throughout the 2-hour show) more special effects than you’d expect out of a Hollywood epic. There was the aforementioned Phantom Of The Opera set, an elaborate Alice In Wonderland sequence, a song with Brightman as Little Red Riding Hood on a bicycle, and the pictured song, where she swung over the crowd like a mesmerizing Southern belle, as rose petals fell over the crowd.
We saw snowfall, and winter settings. We saw Nutcracker soldiers, and Asian influences. There was, and I’m not kidding – a musical in a water setting.
We heard her hit notes that brushed at the rafters, many in languages that may have been human in origin. She’s proficient at singing in several languages.
There were a few highlights, especially the Phantom piece, and a couple of the traditional opera pieces made popular in recent years by similar (but far more restrained) performers. She exceeded both of our expectations, and this show will go down as one tough bird to top.
On a side note, it was about this time of year we saw Phantom in one of the five major cities worldwide, where it had been running. We caught it in L.A. - and while we were there we took side trips out to Pasadena to see another smaller play, and even ventured out to see the beautiful Glory Of Christmas, at the famous Crystal Cathedral in Orange County. It was a magical time, of its own.
It’s about time we get back out to California…
Chow for now!!
Monday, December 08, 2008
We shovelled the driveway together before dinner, and then Mrs. That Dan Guy and I took a walk in the fresh snow. Some of which was piled higher in areas where lazy bastards didn’t bother to shovel. My attorney will be in touch with them later today…
But it was nice, with the snow reflecting the light of the moon (or maybe it was street lights – the moon gets a little lost in an overcast sky). Most of the homes in our neighbourhood are decorated for Christmas, which also made for a welcoming walk through the snow. There’s just something heart-warming about rope-light reindeer, nodding their wire-framed heads under a cover of fresh snow. I don’t know how coyotes tell the fake ones from the real ones!!
Some poor sap must have been told to get his behind out of his La-Z-Boy, and get the Christmas lights up, because he was struggling to string decorations in the middle of the snowfest. You have to have a little sympathy for the (fellow) procrastinators out there. There’s always so much to be done at this time of year, and so much good television to prevent you from doing it.
Speaking of good television, don’t anybody try and bother us tonight. We’ve got the two-hour series finale of Boston Legal tonight, the best darn show left on network TV. Well, the best darn show until it finishes up tonight. Oh, I suppose you star-dancing, adolescent Idol, Survivor fans out there would beg to disagree, but give me a good old-fashioned show with a plot any day of the week. Boston Legal will be sorely missed in the Such Is Life household, that’s for darn sure!!
Much like my Phillips screwdriver, which I haven’t seen for about a week now…
Chow for now!!
Sunday, December 07, 2008
My Winston Canadian Dictionary (1974 - note to self – find out if newer dictionaries may be available…) defines “vista” as:
“a long, narrow view”
“a mental view of a series of events”.
Funny – the exact same things could be said about Windows Vista.
Let’s take “a long, narrow view”. Amen brothers and sisters, amen. A long and narrow view of what personal computers could and should be. A view that just because something says “Windows”, we the sheep should bow down and submit to regular meat-grindings of our mental well-being, as “Vista” churns our Happy Place into so much high-fat whipped butter.
After regular applications of Vista, you will often find yourself muttering to yourself, whilst trying to find your Happy Place, chanting “I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Butter”…
It is butter my friend – it is absolutely butter…
Then there’s the telling description “a mental view of a series of events”.
While it is no longer appropriate to use that word which I won’t repeat again, it is indeed a politically incorrect summary of any series of events as applied in a Vista operating system. Pick your events – word processing, printing, even Spell-Checking – you may as well be trying to passionately embrace a porcupine. Not that anyone other than another porcupine would realistically find themselves trying to passionately embrace a porcupine, I just use that sort of desperate language to stress my point, as to the insanity of embracing Vista.
You know, it dawns on me just now that if I were living in Russia, and the creator of Windows OS was Billniet Gateski, I just might awaken late one evening, as cloaked men wrestled me out of bed, and dragged me off to Siberia, to work in a Windows Vista fabrication factory.
God Bless North America!!!
Chow for now!!
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Let’s keep it down today, can we, my skin-covered mammaly amigos??
Ole Charlie had hiz office Christmas party last night, and he got hiz ole beak a lil’ bent.
OK, so technically I don’t have an office that would have had a Christmas party last night, but whoever’s party I ended up at, was quite a doozy. I have a dim memory of security guards taking way my hula hoop, before I got stuffed inta a cab. Oh, my frazzled feathers….
Holy cluck, is there a marchin’ band in my bedroom this mornin’?? I’m pretty sure I hear drums thumpin’ somewhere…
Hey!! Where’s my suit jacket and tie? How did I end up wearin’ a Xmas decoration? And how is it even possible that I’d have a FULL bottle of Crown Royal beside me??
Mebbe I’m still dreamin’?? I bet if I pinch myself, I’ll wake up beside that cute chick that I was chattin’ up at the party. Although, the more I think about it, that could have been a poster in the can, advertisin’ breath mints. Man, my brain is fuzzy…
Whoa! Hey, when did this bed end up on a boat?? Who’s rockin’ the bed!! Who’s rockin’ the bed, I say I say boy!!!
I think I hasta excuse myself, boys and girls – I feel a little guacamole makin’ a run for the border, if ya catch my drift…
Cluck for now!
Friday, December 05, 2008
Like yourselves, I was foolish enough to upgrade my computer, but I decided to go with Windows Vista, not even adding it to a default base of Windows XP.
(Audible sounds including assent, tsk-tsking, and a couple of groans)
I thought that when I bought a new computer, my Windows ME problems would be behind me, but I hadn’t considered the problems I might face with realistically an untested operating system. Oh, if I could only turn back the hands of time!!
I knew that I was in trouble early on, when the computer started to exhibit quirks that I had never seen before – like an e-mail program that wasn’t bright enough to actually send or receive mail!
No, seriously – the early version of Windows Mail replaced all the features of Outlook with separate programs, that not only didn’t synchronize with my Blackberry, they didn’t synchronize with themselves!! If they held a family reunion, Windows Mail components would need to wear nametags!!
(Stronger laughter – momentum building with audience…)
Then there were the compatibility issues - I couldn’t use my new wireless keyboard and mouse, which were both certified to “Work With Windows Vista”. Yeah right, not even Windows works – with Windows VISTA!!! Am I right, people???
(Burst of hearty applause, several hoots of approval.)
I know I just have to walk away, but it’s hard. I’ve spent a year trying to make this relationship work. But I get nothing back – that sullen set of wires and lights continues to betray me. Mock me. Tease me, but not in a sexy, enjoyable sort of way…
(Sparse nervous tittering)
My friends here at Vista Anonymous, I ask for your support, as I cope with this evil temptation. I know that I can’t stay, but I have to be strong until I can. There is a light – a bright shiny light that gives me the strength to keep going. Until that day, let me just once have a week go by without error messages and blue screen crashes. Just one week without having to reinstall software that I’ve installed umpteen dozen times before.
Just let me have one week where I can take my eyes off of this computerized aberration of nature, without fearing that it has taken incompetence TO A NEW LEVEL!!!!!!
(Rapturous applause, building to a standing ovation)
Thank you, my name is Dan, and I’m a Vista user…
(Chow for now!)
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Yesterday was Blog # 1011 - there's those wacky 1's again!!!
How does that famous prayer for patience go??
I think it’s:
“God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to rest easy, as a Mac will soon deliver us from the evil and patent uselessness that is Windows Vista…”
It’s not going to take courage to change the things that should be changed – it’s going to take time. Time to get past our winter holiday, and rebuild the Mac fund that has been diverted to that trip. Time to transfer my files (should they survive this computer being hurled with much zeal at a brick wall) to a Mac computer, which will open its arms to the struggling data, smiling at it with a warm glow – a showing of hope that my computing future will one day allow me to start a computer, and NOT have every freakin’ file conflict with a cursed operating system.
Today (and yesterday), my printer software is no longer recognized by this demon spawn operating system. I’ve only had to reinstall it at least a dozen times since I brought this thing home. Tomorrow, it will likely work just fine, as its low IQ will not remember that it had conflicts just the day before. Vista is like Windows XP, with severe head trauma. No, I’m sorry – that gives it too much credit. It’s like a sack of potatoes, with severe head trauma.
I must be a sadist though, as I continue to allow this thing to drive me further and further into my own mental abyss. Oh well, it was a short drive, with lovely scenery along the way…
Chow for now!
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Geese appear to have it pretty easy, in the general scheme of things. Whenever I drive by a gang (or whatever a collection of them may be called), they are invariably chewing on grass, or sitting under a shady tree – often when there’s not even any measureable sun visible in the sky.
They can poop wherever they want to poop, and they don’t have to clean it up. Sometimes, it even appears that they are pecking away at grass that is literally carpeted in goose poop. THAT may not be such an appealing attribute, I will admit…
But aside from eating around their own droppings, I still maintain that geese have got it pretty good. Most now are soooooo lazy they don’t even go south for the winter anymore. They stay here in Canada, and just huddle together for warmth on colder days. Some check into the Holiday Inn.
That’s either an indictment of global warming failures in general, or an indication that geese may have a pretty good union, when it pertains to how much energy they have to expend at any given time…
Hey, my newspaper column is online again! Check it out at:
Chow for now!!
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
TOTALLY KIDDING!! She’s in the bathroom, just embarking on her three-hour get-ready-for-work routine, involving regimens related to hair, makeup, dental maintenance, clothing, and varied placing sprays. Don’t ask – but it is a thing of wonder to behold…
Me, I’ll lounge around here for the next few hours, drinking coffee, watching TV, and pondering how it ever took so long for "So You Think You Can Dance Canada" to get developed for TV.
Then, I’ll comb over my hair sprigs with my hand, brush my tooth, and throw on whatever I was wearing all this week so far – hey, it’s not like we’re at midweek here – the clothes don’t even need to pass a sniff test yet!!
Once I’ve driven her to work, I’ll come back here to home base, and get into the grind that is my daily routine: napping and drinking coffee, with occasional visits to my favourite websites. When the muse strikes, I’ll write for about 20 minutes or so.
But today I may have to toss in a bit of shovelling….
Chow for now!!
Monday, December 01, 2008
December 1st…this 2008 calendar year is pretty much done like dinner – we’re just sliding into home plate, with winter chasing in hot pursuit. Stick a fork in the year – it’s dang-near done!!!
OK, technically you could argue that there are still 31 days left in the year, and by that standard alone the year is far from over. But, let’s be serious here (HA!!) – with seasonal holidays, slacking around heading into the year-end slowdown, and overall general dismay over the finale couple of episodes of Boston Legal, how much are we REALLY going to get done before 2009??
I for one at least have pretty much surrendered to the siren song of The Price Is Right, and frittering away hours on my Etch-A-Sketch board (I’ve pretty much got squares nailed, and currently I’m learning how to make rectangles). Where will I find the time to accomplish ANYTHING, against those commitments??
I suppose I could start to clean up this office workspace of mine, which on any given day looks like I’ve had a family of orang-utans searching throughout it for a copy of any one of the Clint Eastwood “Every Which Way But Loose” movies.
Ah, there’s always the new year for ambitious projects like that….
Chow for now!!