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Adventures in the Caribbean: General: Golf:

Return Hell

We check out of our room in Varadero Cuba at about noon on Sunday, after spending a fabulous week in the sun with some friends, get into our traveling clothes, and continue to hang out sampling the wonderful ambiance of the resort, not to mention the delicious rum drinks. We’re picked up at our hotel at about 6:30 Sunday evening. We go to the airport, a short trip of about 15 or 20 minutes. We get there just in time as it’s starting to rain. We line up to check our bags in, which takes about an hour. Then we go through security, which takes another hour. Finally we get to the departure lounge. I buy a few cans of Cristal beer, and wait. The flight is supposed to leave at 10:30 p.m. The schedule on the monitors shows it to be on time. 10:30 comes & goes, 11:00 comes & goes, as does 11:30 and 12:00 midnight. Shortly after 12 we are told that we have to get our luggage and get on a bus, which will take us to a hotel, the flight is leaving at 11:30 tomorrow morning. Lucky us, our luggage had been left on the tarmac in the rain for several hours while they tried to figure the aircraft out and everything we own is soaking wet. We spend 45 minutes on the bus traveling to a hotel on the Varadero strip, which incidentally is as far away from the airport as you can possibly get and still be on the strip. We are told that the aircraft has a flat tire that they are having some difficulty replacing. Once at the hotel, we line up for another hour to get checked in. We get to our room at 4 a.m. The bus is supposed to pick us up at 10 a.m. Do you think you can sleep? No way, you’re waking up every 15 minutes or so to check the time; after all, you HAVE to make that bus!

At 9:00 we get up & head to the lobby. 5 busses come to pick 195 or so of us up. Another 45 minutes to the airport, another hour to check our bags in, another hour to go through security. It is already past the time that the flight is supposed to leave. At about 1:00 p.m. we are told that the aircraft is still unserviceable. It seems that when the tire blew on landing, some rubber from it was sucked into the engine. We are going to have to get our luggage and go back to a hotel. Our flight is now scheduled to leave at 11:45 tonight! OK, I have to make some phone calls. No cellular service, perfect. I go to the service desk & ask if the telephones will accept my credit card, I have to make some international calls. No, I am told, you have to buy a phone card. OK, no problem, where can I get one? Well, the lady that sells them isn’t here today I am informed. Perfect. We wait for ½ an hour or so to get our luggage (after going through security again), then as we board the busses are handed a piece of paper. Sorry for the inconvenience, sign this & we’ll give you a $125 voucher for our airline. I don’t think so! Another 45 minutes back to this hotel, then because they are waiting for us this time, only ½ an hour to check in. It’s 30C and humid, the sweat is literally running down in cascades from my pores. I’ve been wearing the same clothes for a while now, and haven’t eaten in almost 24 hours. Is the dining room open? No, it’s closed, we are too late for lunch (it’s now 3 p.m.), and we will have to wait until 6:30. We manage to find a snack bar after dragging our exponentially heavier bags to a room. We sneak in just under the wire as it closes 5 minutes after we get there. Back to the room for a shower, donning the same sweat soaked clothes that we’ve been wearing since about noon yesterday, and a cat nap.

Sleep deprived,  (nothing but naps for the last day or so) we head to the lobby at about 8. At this time we are told that our flight is delayed yet again, and the busses instead of picking us up at 9, are now picking us up at 10 p.m. It seems that the aircraft dispatched from Toronto to come & get us (the one in Cuba must really be screwed) also broke down. Another aircraft is sent, a different bigger one. UH OH, I paid extra for emergency row seats, I don’t fit in normal aircraft seats. 6’3” 237 lbs. No man, normal seats will not work! If this is a different aircraft, will my seat assignment put me in the emergency row? I get hold of the poor harried tour rep. who makes a phone call, gives me a name of the tour rep. at the airport, and assures me there is no problem.

At 10:00p.m., the busses arrive to get us. We travel yet another 45 minutes to the airport, they’re waiting for us this time, I check with our tour rep., yes no problem, I have confirmed emergency exit seats. Check in is only 20 minutes or so, 10 minutes or so to clear security as we are the only people in the airport. Into the lounge we go. Everything is closed pretty well. Good thing I bought my duty free stuff the first time we were there! We board the aircraft at about 1:00a.m., and I am directed to my seat, strangely enough, NOT an emergency exit seat. No way man! I stand by the emergency row seats & refuse to sit until I get one. The steward is very nice & gets me the seats, trading with someone who was assigned them but who didn’t pay extra for them. One problem solved.

We land in Toronto at about 4:00 a.m., going through customs the guy asks us what we have to declare. I think that they were called in JUST for our flight! I say some rum, cigars, a cap, box of dominoes, and a jar of honey. HONEY he says, marking my card with all kinds of red lines. Perfect. We go to the luggage carousel, which spits out about a dozen bags, then inexplicably stops for 20 minutes. ½ an hour later we finally get our bags. We get stopped at the final customs check because of all the red marks on our card, but they are tired too, so the guy who is asked to handle us says hen doesn’t care & we are let through. A 24 hour shuttle gets us to the hotel we had paid for the previous night at about 5 a.m. We had a reservation last night but our flight was delayed. Sorry, we’re full. Of course you are. We drive back to Stratford, the window open, I’m shaking my head trying to stay awake. I’ve been up for about 22 hours or so and haven’t slept fully in ages. At one point I have to stop & walk around for a while to wake up. I’m seeing double at times and driving is a real concentration nightmare. We make it back home at 7:00 a.m.. In bed until noon, then I have to get up so I’ll be able to sleep that night & go to work.

I have to drive Cal back to Kitchener in the afternoon. Zombie like I make the trip. On the way home my exhaust system starts making all kinds of noise. Perfect. I stop & make an appointment for the next day. They call me at lunch the next day, $520. Nice. I go to pay for it & they give me “good news”. It’s only $320. What a perfect end to a vacation. I need another one to recover from the trip home!

Filed under Adventures in the Caribbean, Feb 7, 2010
 

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Despot

OK,

So I’m posting photos on my favorite photo sharing site, flickr.com, and posting in a number of groups to try & give my shots some degree of exposure. Several of the groups are “interactive”, requiring you to comment on other photos when you post one of yours. Fair enough, I always followed the rules and made comments on worthy photos. Several of these groups that were interactive were run by the same administrator, this person who’s on line moniker is “Air Milikay” (yes I’m naming names!) decides that as the supreme overlord god king emperor of the groups, he’s going to kick anyone out who has tags that are specific to other groups. In other words, if you have your shots in any other groups than his, and have that groups tags on your photos, you will get kicked out of his groups. He posted some sort of reasoning, but it was unintelligible and didn’t make any sense whatsoever.

Now a bit of background, this “person” is absolutely OBSESSED with Explore, one of the most stupid things Flickr ever did. If you don’t know what Explore is, read some of my previous venom filled rants on the subject. Anyway, this is a ploy by this fucking asshole (oh, did I write that out loud?) to make his groups more “explore” friendly. Well, a bunch of people got the boot from his groups because their photos were actually in other groups. Some folks started a thread (discussion) of how this was unfair & what the heck was going on & that the administrator was a despot. Well, I agreed with the comments and quit the group that this was posted in. The next morning, I find myself BANNED from his other groups, and any dissenting threads to his magnificent omnipotent excellence deleted. SO, I’m banned for agreeing with an opinion. Not even for offering an opinion, but for agreeing with someone else’s. Free speech my fucking ass. This despotic asshole is a scourge that should be banned not only from all other groups, but also from flickr itself. Any threads disagreeing with his narrow minded opinions are summarily deleted, and the contributors banned.

Fortunately other groups have been formed as a reaction to this morons policies, in a few short days hundreds of people have flocked to the banner of freedom and reason, myself among them. The overwhelming consensus is that this piece of shit shouldn’t even be allowed on flickr.

My point is, how can stuff like this happen in an open & free society? The behaviour of this person is reprehensible and disgusting. Repugnant censorship and dictatorial despotism. This guys picture belongs next to Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, and all other despots in history. I personally hope that if there is a hell, this cocksucker burns in it.

He deserves it.

Filed under General, Mar 1, 2007
 

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Pat on the Back

You know, I?ve been paying a lot of attention to camera settings lately. More than I used to. You know what? I?ve taken some shots I?m very proud of. Is anyone going to care? Probably not, but I?m getting more & more into the sub culture of the photographer. Understanding the allure to a deeper level.

I posted a picture the other day on flickr, and some asshole left a comment that so much expensive equipment was a waste; you could get the same result with a $200 camera. What a fucking moron. Is he BLIND? The difference is night & day. Dink.

Anyway, this is just a pat on the back from me to me, because I think I?ve taken some pretty damn good stuff lately!

Filed under General, Nov 7, 2006
 

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Detroit

Detroit. Detroit Michigan. Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.

Ever been there?

I have.

I live in Canada. Been to ?The States? on many, many occasions. Florida on vacation quite a few times, (hell, my folks used to live there) up & down the Eastern seaboard as a kid, D.C. to see the seat of power and the monuments, N.Y City a couple of times, South Carolina to golf. I haven?t been lately though. It?s the whole Bush terrorism thing. Scary shit.

Anyway, the past few days, I?ve had occasion to visit Detroit twice, once today, and once yesterday. It?s a fair drive from where I live, about 3 hours each way, but it was work, I was paid to go. Which quite frankly, is the only way you would ever get me there.

The city itself has quite a few impressive edifices, but as a whole, is very depressed with a lot of empty buildings and a depressing oppressive atmosphere. The first thing that greeted me was a guy in a dark uniform with a gun. They were in the custom booths at the border. They directed me to an area where my car was examined, where there were more guys in dark uniforms with guns. Jesus fucking Christ on a fucking rubber crutch! GUYS WITH FUCKING GUNS!

This, apparently, is the United States of America. Guys with guns.

I must say, if I lived in Detroit, I?d feel much safer with a gun too.

I was uncomfortable being there. I felt I was at risk. I mean, there were guys with guns there, presumably to protect the public. Lots of guys with guns. EVERYONE with a uniform, and there were LOTS of them, had a GUN. But one never knows. They all had patches?.?Homeland Security?. The signs were in English, Spanish, and Arabic. Fucking wild! I get pissed off when I pick up a package & have to read the French side first! I can?t imagine a package in Arabic. I think it must just be a border thing. ARABIC????? Gimme a break! It?s DETROIT!

You know, when I crossed the border & got back in to Canada?..sweet safe Canada??.I felt an immediate sense of relief. I couldn?t get out of Detroit fast enough.

I feel the same way about Detroit as I feel about NYC. I?m scared to go there. If I have to go to either place again in my lifetime, it will be too soon.

Guys with guns place???you can keep it!

Filed under General, Nov 4, 2006
 

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The Stupidness pool

So ya know?..I?ve been kinda pissed off lately about the whole ?Interestingness? thing on flickr, oops, sorry, ?Explore? as it?s called now.

I?ve had a ton of my shots featured, but none lately, and I do not expect with the current rules to have any more featured??.ever. They recently changed the logarithm for the 4th or 5th time over the past several months and it seems that there are several important changes, which A LOT of people just don?t agree with.

OK?so a bit of background?..

As you know if you?ve read my previous rants Flickr used to be Canadian. It was GREAT, Awesome in fact. Then because it was so great Yahoo bought it. The Yahoo people (lets call them morons for now) instituted this entire ?Interestingness? ?Explore? thing where the 500 most ?interesting? shots every day (about.01%) are featured in this pool called ?Interestingness/Explore?

OK, so basic human nature makes this, to the average person, a contest. I mean, most normal people would think that if you can make the ?top? 500 photos of the day?damn you?re good! Over time the same photographers were featured time & time again (I?m sort of sad to say I was fairly regularly featured) which sort of screwed things up, so the morons (see above) started applying rules in a more and more obscure fashion. This of course started people weaseling ways that they could make the elusive ?Interestingness/Explore? (lets call it the ?This has Become Stupid? pool shall we?) daily list, because, lets face it, they are humans and are subject to basic human nature. Hence, this naturally spawned the birth of ?you must make so many comments? groups, and the like.

So, the morons (see above) are now saying??OH?it?s not a contest?, ?It?s not about good or bad?. Reading several threads in several different groups today, I was amused to see that many people, some of whom are included in my original contacts and very active on flickr, still think that this is indeed a benchmark of quality. They are sadly deluded.

So, the morons (see above) applied some rules, which after some research today became crystal clear. It seems that to combat the same people being in the ?This has Become Stupid? pool (see above), the morons (see above) are punishing multi group posting. Not only that, they are punishing posting in selected groups. i.e. groups where you are required to leave comments on others photos. They even actively discourage multi group posting, while at the same time giving tutorials on why you should post to groups, how to post to groups, and how to make your own group!

Without posting to a group or forum where you can expose your efforts to a wide audience, how are you going to be seen? Sure after time, you?ll develop a bit of a ?clique? (don?t get me started on this, flickr is one fucking clique spot & this pisses me off even more! There are plenty of groups that you won?t get to post in unless you?re part of the favored inner circle) of people who regularly view your work. Hence the ?family/friends and Contacts? concept. BTW?the morons(see above) are now even figuring into the formula for the ?This has Become Stupid? pool (see above) on how many contacts you have!

NOW?..I post on flickr to expose my shots to a wide audience. To let people see what I am doing with my camera. It has expanded my artistic ability and broadened my horizons immeasurably. I have made many friends. NOW, the morons (see above) are restricting my outlet for creativity by PUNISHING me for multi group posting, particularly in groups where I KNOW people have an opportunity to look at my shots because they are required to comment or view.

So, it boils down to this. The morons(see above) have set up a system whereby people naturally compete to be in it. It?s called human nature. They now say?"We just want to show a cross section of "interesting" photos" and ?Oh it?s not a contest?, but they set it up that way.

YOU STUPID FUCKING MORONS THESE ARE HUMAN BEINGS YOU?RE DEALING WITH. THIS IS HOW THE THING WAS SET UP. EVER HEAR OF HUMAN NATURE? FUCKING IDIOTS!!!!

Ahem

OK, they should abolish the ?This has Become Stupid? pool (see above) and make it a completely RANDOM viewing of shots from the day. That would solve ALL the animosity, competitive bullshit, hundreds of discussions, and myriad of problems.

Now that I've spewed as much venom as possible and have that off my chest I feel marginally better. After all, it's my blog! Just my 2 cents worth!

Filed under General, Nov 1, 2006
 

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