Sunday, July 29, 2007

Top 10 Vacation/Travel Faux pas

A list of the top 10 Vacation Faux pas committed by others while I was on vacation.

1. Leave me alone - If you come across another person (or people) when walking in a deserted area that is really pretty, don't go in the same direction they are going. Go explore somewhere else.

2. When in Rome - Don't complain to the locals about how backwards they are. These people live there and you don't. They don't want you there and they don't care what you have to say.

3. You are not a local - Don't explain to other people how the locals do stuff after you've been there for two days. You're wrong and now you've spread your stupidity to others who might follow your example.

4. The local food is different - If you're in India don't order anything that doesn't sound Indian. Suck it up and try the Vindaloo. Also remember that if you're in Europe and you attempt to order a Coors Lite someone will stab you for drinking janky beer.

5. Boat Parking - Learn how to park your boat in an anchorage. You put out 5 times the depth in anchor rope (3, if you have chain). This is a simple math problem: depth is twenty feet, you put out 5 x 20 = 100 feet of rope. This also means your boat can rotate in a ~160 foot radius from center. Don't park closer than 160 feet from me, you douche bag.

6. Your pet isn't cute - Just because it's a beach doesn't mean it's a dog park. If you let your misbehaved dog off the leash and it gets near me, pees on me, or barks at me I might eat it later. (May 19th is Eat Your Pet Day, by the way)

7. Leash your children - If you are in some place that isn't made for children like a restaurant, museum, beach bar, grocery store, busy intersection, etc, leash your kids and keep them quiet. It's your fault you had them, don't bother me with your mistake.

8. Don't be a douche in airport security - The big sign says take off your shoes, put your shit in the bucket, take out your laptop, and put all your liquids/make-up/sunscreen in ziplock bags, get out your boarding pass, and show ID. It's in big letters and 3rd grade English, just do it, and do it fast, you're holding up the line. Also if the TSA guy with a no high school diploma has to give you detailed instructions you might want to reassess your own importance.

9. Boarding Groups aren't complex - If you're on a Southwest flight they have a concept called boarding groups. It's not hard, your ticket has A, B or C on it. Get in that line and stay there. A boards first, then B, then C, just in case you missed it.

10. Don't stand in the middle - Standing in the middle of a moving walk way or escalator is dangerous. In most places people say excuse me and politely pass you, in NY or London they will mow you down with no remorse, and then blame you for your own stupidity.

Why do you people follow me?

For years now I've been searching for the perfect vacation spot. Somewhere far away from everyone, close to nothing, and featuring Mai-Tais. Each time I go somewhere new it always starts out great, no one is there, it is far away from everything, and the Mai Tais are excellent. Then, the next time I go, *you* people are there; taking up space and complaining about how far away it is, how there is nothing there and that the Mai Tais are too good. If I mistakenly return for a third time, someone has built a Wal-Mart and a shopping Mall, and the Mai Tais have been watered down to appeal to the tastes of the people who don't know what a good Mai Tais is. So why do you people follow me?

This is somewhat of a rhetorical question, as I know why you people follow me. You follow me because the places I go are great, and you don't realize that the lack of your presence is what makes it great. This isn't entirely your fault, though. You have simply missed one of the important lessons in life: "how to vacation". Most people think they know how to vacation, they think they know how to relax, however they really end up exhausting themselves in an attempt to escape from the doldrums of everyday life. Most people do this in the form of trying to do *things* while on vacation. Things include getting up early to see sights, trying to get the best spot on the beach and attempting to shop in every store. This results in a vacation not being a vacation, because you rush to a place, fight to get a spot and ultimately are disappointed when the only shopping is Mary Lou's crappy antique store.

So for the short attention span people who didn't do well in school, let me break down the top five things you are supposed to do on vacation:

1. Do nothing and have no plan.
2. Know where the liquor store is and the best bar, then park your ass close to both.
3. Sight-see by accident; if you make it there great, if not, oh well, you probably didn't miss anything.
4. Sleep more. Well-rested people are happy.
5. Actually escape your problems. Don't think about anything, enjoy doing nothing, amuse yourself, maybe even read a book.

Then you will be happy, and I can be happy, not cranky.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Cranky Took a Tumble

Sometimes you have an experience that teaches you that you aren't as young as you used to be. Yesterday Cranky took a tumble off a motor scooter, and now I'm pretty banged up. Luckily I wasn't being too cantankerous, and actually wore a helmet. Normally, I would say that helmets are for "wussies," but this time around I actually needed one.

It was a rather amusing experience. After watching all the young kids ride the scooter I decided that I wanted to enjoy the wind in my face, and the smell of gasoline mixed with motor oil. So I downed a beer, strapped on my helmet, lit a smoke and jumped on. I immediately realized I was in trouble. I had somehow missed the whole part about how inexperienced riders should sit and not stand, and since I was standing things were about to get bad. The scooter raced away with me standing on it. It was gaining speed, then it began to wobble. This was bad, I assumed. After another twenty feet, and some more acceleration, I realized I was going to crash into a curb, but I didn't make it. The wobble got worse, and then the scooter chucked me to the ground. Bang. Since I didn't make it to the curb, I hit that with my head, after sliding on the pavement.

After 30 seconds I awakened, then passed out, then re-awakened. Now I'm at home licking my wounds, remembering I'm not 15, and having another beer.

Monday, July 9, 2007

House calls...with a toothbrush?

The long-awaited July issue of Reach Out: The Village Newsletter of Long Reach arrived today. I scanned the headlines as I dodged a neighbor at the community mailbox (he looked like he wanted to talk...)

Among various tidbits about water conservation and gas pipeline inspections, I found one truly interesting advertisement: "Home Veterinary Service - We Come to You!!!" As the owners of two cats, Cranky and I are delinquent in seeing to our pets' health care needs. Part of the reason for this is that the cats don't leave the house, so there is no *pressing* need for shots and flea treatments. The other reason is that they don't like to travel. And when I say they don't like to travel, I mean, they *don't* *like* *to* *travel*.

Mouse, the 20-pounder, wets herself the minute you close the gate on the cat carrier. Nothing is sadder than a large cat covered in her own pee and stuffed into a cat carrier. Loki, the skinny nicotine addict, puts up a horrible yowl and bites viciously. The sounds she emits are so chilling, it makes it difficult to keep your eyes on the road.

Lately, however, we've been considering a trip to the vet for teeth-cleaning. The cats are about seven years old, and their breath is kicking. We've tried the tartar-control treats, kitty herb gardens and other such remedies, to no avail. For all we know, they've got advanced-stage gingivitis...The only thing stopping us is the fact that the big one will need a bath and the little one might send one, or both, of us to the hospital.

So the concept of a vet that makes house calls...well, that's just fantastic! Maybe we'll even splurge on some booster shots and a flea treatment, or two.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Monkey balls!

Our group of friends has a Memorial Day tradition: camping at Assateague Island National Seashore. Each spring, as the allergies subside and the weather takes a turn for the pleasant, a large group of us heads out to the coast for a long weekend of camping, bugs, weenie roasts and tequila shots. We also go clamming.

Clamming is difficult, but rewarding, work. It's not for the faint of heart, as it involves burrowing your feet into slimy mud while waist-deep in brackish water. However, for every punishment in life there is an equal, and just, reward. This is never more true than in the art of clamming.

The heat of the day and the grossness of the mud are off-set by the coolness of the water, and the tranquil feeling you get from standing in the middle of the Sinepuxent Bay. And let's not forget the satisfaction of procuring fresh shellfish to share with the rest of the camp.

Didn't I just list two rewards, with only one punishment? Fear not, the universe is adept at self-correcting such imbalances.

So as we are shuffling through the mud, toes eagerly seeking the round, hard, rock-like texture of a buried clam, we discover that there is another life form lurking in the deep. Round and hard, but slimy with prickly little hairs, this *creature* is neither plant, nor animal. Most vexing is its ubiquity, and the high number of false-positives it generates.

Basically, you stumble into what feels like a clam, only to retrieve a hairy, quivering, unidentifiable ball. Is it a seed? A pod? An egg of some sort? Or is it a Monkey Ball?!

Cranky's Seal of Approval

Not everything is bad in Columbia, just the places I go, the services I purchase, and the people with whom I inevitably interact. However, there are a few places that get Cranky's "Seal of Approval."

Merchants Tire on Berger Rd.

1. Good people that know what they are doing.
2. They are fast.
3. They have good warranties

1. Hidden on Berger Rd
2. Not a full-service mechanic. Oil, tires, brakes only. If someone knows a good full-service mechanic please post it.

Frisco Grill - 8865 Stanford Blvd

1. Beers! This is the only place in Columbia that has local brews, and other hard-to-find beers. They don't serve Bud, Coors, or any other crappy American brands.
2. Tuesday Night Trivia. I have a big brain, do you? Works less with more beer; luckily everyone else playing is in the same boat.

1. New wait staff. Beer service can be spotty at times, however, this place is better than most in Columbia.

Essential Family Chiropractic

1. If you're broken like Cranky, this is the place to go. All the cool kids are doing it.
2. Friendly place.

1. None

Barbeques Galore

1. Really cool custom grills. So cool Cranky had to buy one.
2. Sauce from all over the country. If you haven't tried Gates Sauce from Kansas City, you're missing out.

1. Weekend Manager guy is a little off.

If you think you know of a place that will pass the Cranky Test, send it in and I'll rate it.