Shady Characters

Things move at a glacial pace at A couple of years ago the site started to have strange characters such as  littered throughout the posts. This was a byproduct of converting to UTF-8 in one of the WordPress upgrades. I looked into fixing this back then, and didn’t follow through because I was too lazy to back up the database.

This fix may never have happened if it weren’t for a recent series of attacks by Romanian hackers on the server. This tragedy got me backing up my data and migrating to a better managed server, and in the process of reinstalling I decided to finally make things right. It also helps that this new setup makes installation of plugins like UTF8 Sanitize and UTF8 Database converter nearly brain dead. So now all 1 of you reading this site, can read it free of UTF8 garbage.

Hopefully it won’t take me two years to update the broken image tags.

Mystery Bagels

Yesterday morning, as Sara was heading out to campus, she found a bountiful collection of bagels assembled at the foot of our front door.  Since she was in a hurry, she yelled “We’ve got something like 50 bagels at the front door.  I don’t have time to deal with them.  Can you do something with them?”

After she left, I went to the living room and saw she had brought in a large bag of bagels, and promptly moved it into the kitchen so that Kody would not have easy access to it.  It was only after returning from Kody’s morning walk, that I saw what Sara had seen earlier: an array of four bags stuffed with a wide variety of bagels and several containers of cream cheese.   Adding to the mystery, there was no note, no invoice, and each of the bags had the word “Omega” written on them in Sharpie.

Perhaps indicative of our upbringing, Sara and I were both too paranoid to try the bagels.  When Sara returned around lunch time, we found one of the cream cheese containers had a label that read “Big Daddy Bagels”.

At this point we had to know what was going on, so Sara tried phoning the number on label, only to get repeated busy signals.  I eventually got through, and found that Sara was getting a busy number because the number printed on the label was (303) 555-0193.  As anyone who has paid attention to phone numbers in TV shows and movies knows, 555 is a phony prefix.  The Internet knows better, and found the number is actually (303) 554-0193.

Upon finding the number, I dialed and was received by a clerk for whom English was not her first language.  The transaction went as follows:

Clerk: Big Daddy Bagels
Me: Someone delivered several bagels to my door that aren’t mine.
Clerk: Where do you want your bagels delivered?
Me: No, no, I have like 50 bagels that aren’t mine.
Clerk: You want 50 bagels delivered where?
Me: No, someone accidentally delivered 50 bagels to my door, and I want to know if you need me to bring these back.
Clerk: Let me check with someone else, I’ll call you back in 5 minutes.

When she called she explained it was delivered to someone else and that we could keep the bagels.  Seeing as there was no way we could finish these ourselves, we limited ourselves to trying one each, and then brought the remainder to the Boulder Homeless Shelter.  At least Big Daddy didn’t leave us with bags of muffin stumps.  I don’t know what I’d do with them.

Easter Eggs

They dont always look this good
They don't always look this good

[12:30pm] Come home from class.
Why are there shreds of a Cadbury mini-egg bags and orange peels all over the place?
Oh, it looks like Kodiak got into the mini-eggs that Sara left on the coffee table.
Call Sara,
I think Kody ate a bunch of chocolate
Oh you were almost done with the bag, no big deal.
Hmm…. let me check, the other mini-eggs are in the cupboard.
I left them in the grocery bag on the counter.
Call Sara
Where is the other bag of mini-eggs?
On the table? No its not.
Oh crap! He just ate an 18oz bag of chocolate.
He’s not acting weird.
Certainly not acting hyper.
You’ll call the vet?
What’d they say?
It shouldn’t be a problem for his weight?
OK, I’ll keep an eye on him.

Kody, do you need to go outside?
You need to go outside again?
Ok let’s go.
Now Kody, just lie on your soft, soft bed
Again Kody? This is getting old.
Be a good boy and lie down and let me study
Sara! Kody threw up all over my study.

Snow Day!

Colorado finally received snow worthy of the month of March, over a foot in fact. Yesterday schools were closed, and the roads were horrible. I actually spun out unexpectedly. while driving back from the grocery store yesterday. Fortunately everyone was going slow.

Today, the skies are blue again, so I forced Kody to come out into the snow with me to take some pictures. Unlike many labs, he is not particularly fond of being wet, and he HATES the snow, but because he’s a very sweet dog, he’ll do whatever is asked of him.

For a few more photos of our snow click here.


Happy Thanksgiving

Kody and I want to wish everyone who could not join us (including my wonderful wife Sara and her family), a happy Thanksgiving Holiday.


Little Eeyore Dog

Little Eeyore Dog

Lately Kody has been wearing an big, ugly t-shirt to prevent him from licking a wound he got from having a lump removed. Though the shirt is held on with safety pins and duct tape, he still manages to wriggle much of it off by the time we get home. Hopefully we can take it off in the next day or two, but in the meantime I’m going to laugh at how Eeyore-like this shirt makes him look.



Kody Dog

We now have a mooshable lump of labrador in our home. Meet Kodiak aka Kody aka Kode Red aka Kode Warrior. Right now we’re only fostering him, but we may be adopting him in the not too distant future. It’s hard not to fall for a creature as sweet as Kody. He tolerates my strange schedule, my many hugs and my talking to him in a “Mark Wahlberg Talks to Animals” voice.

To see photos of Kody click here or here.


Abang Tukang Bakso

It’s been over a year and a month since we left Indonesia, and only now that we have a house have we started to show our friends back in the U.S. some of the toys we brought back with us.  While we brought back a ton of things (another story that needs relaying one day), this post will focus on one of our most prized possessions, an action figure replica of a bakso (meatball) street vendor.

[picture here]
Acquired while taking a road trip to Lake Serangan, this figure was a gem hidden in a field of gawdy t-shirts, ugly jewelry, and cheap toys.


Khatulistiwa aka THE EQUATOR IS AWESOME part 3/3

Ok, ok, so the timing of this isn’t great, coming as it is right on the tail of part 2, but hey, my degree’s not in marketing you know? Besides, I would have been thrilled if all the Harry Potter books came out at once….and this tale is at least as epic as that one.

Just across the southern hemisphere line we waited, still full of appreciation for the greatness of the equator of course. And waited. Finally, a van full of schoolchildren and their teachers stopped by us, asking if we needed a ride back. Seemingly they desperately wanted to practice English with *Native Speakers*. Regrettably, as their van was already packed and as there were 4 of us, we had to decline. But consider this scenario, possibly mirrored in the northern hemisphere. Say in the US an elementary school Spanish class is on a field trip and sees a native speaker (employment and character completely unknown) standing by the road. Say they then offer a ride to said person, no questions asked, so that the students may practice their Spanish. Lawsuit!

I think the southern hemisphere just won any contest it and the northern hemisphere were having that day. At least at our tiny section of the equator.

The drizzle turned to rain and we moved to huddle under the massive metal equator land bridge with some of the local staff. Conversation covered the usual chit-chat and then….behold….a bus! Huge and luxurious looking, it approached and we stuck out our hands in the usual waving down a bus motion. As the bus slowed to a stop we moved to alight but…what? What do you mean no space? I don’t see anyone standing! Nobody is standing yet so there must be space! But no, the driver would not budge. Seemed that, despite the promise of receiving an inflated bule rate, the bus had a certain luxurious image to uphold and bedraggled us standing in the aisles wouldn’t cut it.

We were, at this point, noticeably worried about catching a bus, as well as wet, hungry, and sting-itching slightly from the bites of giant equatorial ants. Perhaps sensing our impatience, one of the local staff members changed the topic to questions about whether you spin faster at the equator than at the poles. And which way water would swirl when you flush at the equator. THIS was fascinating stuff! We didn’t come to any earth-shattering conclusions, but it was pretty cool just to be talking about this in Indonesian.

In the distance, a van approached, going absolutely 100% the wrong direction. As it got closer, we could see that its windshield said “Golden Boy” in ridiculously large, view-obstructing letters. I thought that was cool, given that it’s the name of Seinfeld’s favourite t-shirt, but didn’t think much more of it until the van pulled a quick u-turn when it got to us and offered to take us back to town for the same overprice we were charged on the bus. Of course, we agreed.

Once inside the van, we sadly waved farewell to the equator, then laughed and sprawled, thrilled with our luxury. This lasted for 5-10 minutes before we started picking up passengers. Lots of them. The van had seats for 7, plus a little stool to make 8, but we had 11. And then a 12th wanted to join, but after taking a quick glance inside, he opted to ride hanging off the back instead. In the drizzly rain and (by this time) dark, twisting and bumping over the mountainous roads. Occasionally we would hear him tapping on the top or back of the van, possibly due to an emergency, though the driver seemed to think it was just a reassuring tap and acted accordingly (ie ignored it). It’s hard to say who had the better deal, as we were mashed together on the inside for the whole 2 hour ride, a kind of mashing that makes you think you’re paralyzed, as you go numb from the waist down. During the ride we were informed by the other passengers that we had paid too much. They all laughed, as did the driver, but nobody offered us any money back. I guess that’s the price you pay when you visit the equator, but really, the whole experience is priceless. THE EQUATOR IS AWESOME!


Khatulistiwa aka THE EQUATOR IS AWESOME part 2/3

Where were we? Oh yes, at the glorious, awesome equator, tourist trap extrordinaire. No sooner had our feet touched the ground (still in the southern hemisphere) than we were mobbed by no fewer than 4 tshirt vendors. They heeded our polite requests for space (nanti, nanti aja! = later, later!) and we took in the splendour that was the equator. It was hard not to notice the shocking difference between the hemispheres or at least it should have been. We knew in our hearts that the northern hemisphere is much more sophisticated and wealthy, while the southern hemisphere is drowning in savages and poverty. Unfortunately this wasn’t totally evident from our vantage point, even when straddling the fading white painted equator line, but perhaps it was just hidden by the constant drizzle and light fog.

After experimenting with different ways to stand on and around the equator, we decided to visit the equator monument itself, an impressive epcot-esque metal orb obviously meant to evoke images of the earth itself. This was evident not only from the shape (ball!) but also from the rust and dilapidated condition (pollution!). When we nervously crossed the rusting bridge to enter the sphere, we found that it was in fact empty on the inside, save for some rusted, twisted metal pieces that had once formed a staircase to the bottom (the earth has no soul!). After a few documentary photos, we decided to run for our lives before the ball collapsed generously leave the monument so that other visitors could enter and take in the glory.

Next we headed for the under-construction Bonjol museum, located inside the equator complex. None of us had the slightest idea who Bonjol was (turns out he is the important man on the important 5000 rupiah bill here) but the museum had a huge towering statue in front, plus it itself was a whopping two stories tall, plus it had a roof and it was raining, plus the entrance fare was 10 cents. The museum was, we were guessing, avant garde, or whatever it is you call a place that is close to empty (featuring lots of floor space!). Highlights included a story about Bonjol and the 5000 Rupiah bill, and well-labelled relics such as various old rifles, an old dutch hat (safari hat) and an old tube (a native English speaker might choose the word binoculars instead) used by the Dutch. Strangely absent were any references to the equator and its sordid history.

When we emerged from the museum, it was finally time to face the tshirt vendors. We entered heated bargaining with them regarding shirt prices. It seemed that shirts could be all different sorts of prices, depending on quality, but none could be as cheap as tshirts in Yogya. Despite our most valiant efforts, we could not get the prices down to $2 or less per shirt, so we sacrificed and went without. I still tear up just thinking of it. Luckily, salvation came in the form of another souvenir, an even _better_ one, as it will not ever need to have fabric softener used on it. A S-T-I-C-K-E-R! But not just any sticker, a huge circular sticker, as big as my (or maybe Lee’s) head! It was dirty and tattered, but the largest sticker to be had, and the only one of its kind, so we took it.

At this point, we decided that as we were in the middle of the jungle, and as it was getting towards night, we should probably think about catching a bus home. First, though, Lee and I decided to share a special snack with our fortunate friends. When we came to Indonesia, we brought not one but TWO king-sized pina colada almond joy bars. One was sacrificed to ants (sort of a peace offering, though at the time we viewed it as an obscene declaration of war), but the other, mushed and oozing coconut everywhere, was our triumphantly celebratory equatorial snack. Unfortunately, it could only last for so long, maybe half an hour, even including the time needed to lick the melted part off of the wrapper. So why weren’t there any buses yet? (to be continued)