Friday, November 30, 2012

Bahamas Cruise Video

Well despite the venom of my previous post, I did actually like some of the more nature-inspired and mechanical marvel aspects of my trip and here, in this short video I captured some of them. Oh, some of those pesky humans are in it too.

My Voyage Aboard The Hate Boat

I grew up in a time when modern leisure cruise ships were just coming of age. "The Poseidon Adventure" and "The Love Boat" were big successes for film and television. The romance and adventure of of these depictions were inspiration for many future cruisers. Well, okay, "The Poseidon Adventure" was a disaster film, but it did have its heartfelt, endearing and hopeful moments. It expressed that even strangers grouped together on a cruise ship can look out and care for one another. And as for "The Love Boat", it reinforced the concept that cruise ships were the "happening" place to find true and everlasting love. Or at least get laid.

But having experienced first hand my virgin voyage aboard a cruise ship this past week, I can say that in my opinion, the 1970's ideal of cruising is gone. In its place runs the gamut of all manner of humanity's vices.

From the start, people seemed greedy, self-centered, entitled, purposely rude, argumentative, vain, ignorant, insensitive, racist, elitist, selfish and stubborn. A few were open-minded, cordial, friendly and helpful, but they were the exception.

Perhaps it has to do with the whole concept of cruising in the first place. Maybe back in the 70's it was innocent, chic and novel all at the same time, but now it can't be called innocent when fossil fuels are dwindling to extinction only hastened by diesel-guzzling leisure activities like sailing on a massive cruise ship. Long ago the idea of cruising as hip or chic faded. Now it's the domain of either the old, the cheap or the partiers. But mostly the old.

The trip had its good points. But for me, those were mostly relegated to things beyond the control of other human beings like the weather, the experience of being at sea: the wind, the waves, the smells, the warmth of the sun. But whenever someone else was in the picture, the goodness was diminished.

Their faces haunt my dreams. The loud and obnoxious family allowing their kids to run amok. The very old couple who couldn't be bothered to even clap during live performances that they chose to attend. The ugly old lady who whispered to me that she couldn't understand the "niggers" accents. The fat old man pointing his cane at the porters hefting his heavy luggage yelling "Where are those idiots going?". The tuxedo clad fuck who bumped into me and looked back at me with an unmistakably dismissive sneer. The supposedly Christian couple who reveled in their bartering skills "jewing down" an old Bahamian lady from $2 to $1 for a little trinket. The redneck guys yucking it up to gay jokes in the bar.

I thought the concept of the Ugly American traveler had faded into the sunset. Well not on cruise ships.

If you ever wondered why the world hates us, take a cruise. You'll see what they mean.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Tickle My Boy Hole, Elmo

Oh the recent news events surrounding the Elmo puppeteer and his alleged affairs with teen-aged boys has certainly tickled a few butt hairs. It seems the Twitterverse was a ablaze with all sorts of sordid jokes and for each of them just as many "shocked" prudes who liken joking about molestation to be as bad, if not worse, than the act itself.

Hey folks, if you can't handle mockery and low-brow humor, because you're too sensitive, then just don't read or watch it.

I, on the other hand, fully advocate, like this article's creator, just simply letting it all hang out and "going there".

Thursday, November 22, 2012

If I Only Had A Big Purple Hat...

I was actually contemplating going to a thrift store in search of a similar hat to do what this girl did. A fabulous recreation of one of my favorite scenes from "Titanic".

Of course it'd be more daring for me to do it in the full outfit!

Ah well, I'll have to settle for imagining myself playing this role as I board my "ship of dreams" next week.

Friday, November 16, 2012

All Aboard The S.S. Death Ship

I decided to book my first cruise for my upcoming vacation. It'll be a little 4 night jaunt to the Bahamas. I'm sure I'll have a blast but I am a little nervous about traveling on a big ship out in the middle of the ocean (well, maybe not the middle of the ocean, but far from shore).

Unfortunately, discovering that the ship I'll be on has a rather checkered history doesn't sooth the nerves too much. Here's what Wikipedia had on this ship's past "incidents":

Grounding off St. Maarten

After evacuating a sick passenger at Philipsburg, St. Maarten, the Netherlands Antilles on 15 December 1998, Monarch of the Seas grazed a reef while departing opening a 40 by 2 metres (130 by 6.6 ft) gash along the starboard hull. The ship started taking water and began to sink by the head. Three of its watertight compartments were completely flooded and several others partially flooded.

It was intentionally grounded on a sandbar to prevent further sinking. All passengers were evacuated by crew members and local tender operators. No lives were lost. The grounding breached two of the ships diesel fuel tanks and an overflow tank causing a small fuel spill of approximately 100 US gallons (380 l; 83 imp gal). There was also severe damage to the ship.[8][9] A joint investigation by the Norwegian Maritime Investigator and the United States Coast Guard found that the accident was due to “…a myriad of human performance deficiencies.” Reports also indicate that navigation out of the port was done visually rather than using of electronic navigation and that the relocation of a vital buoy was not reflected on charts.

The ship was drydocked for repairs for three months at Atlantic Marine’s Mobile, Alabama facilities. One-hundred and fourteen of the ship’s compartments had to be cleaned. The work also included the replacement of machinery, 460 tons of shell plating, and 18 miles (29 km) of electrical wiring.

Gas leak

While docked at the port of Los Angeles in August 2005, maintenance on a sewage pipe caused a small amount of raw sewage and an unknown amount of hydrogen sulfide gas to escape. Three crew members, Boris Dimitrov of Bulgaria; Willie Tirol of The Philippines and Radomilja Frane of Croatia, were killed and 19 others were injured. Reports said that the deaths were almost instantaneous as the crew members were not wearing breathing apparatus at the time.

Captain's death

38 year old Captain Joern Rene Klausen was found dead in his stateroom aboard the Monarch of the Seas early the morning of January 30, 2006. The ship was returning to Los Angeles from a three-night cruise to Ensenada, Mexico.[14] According to reports, the death appeared to be of "natural causes".

2010 New Year suicide

A 23-year old woman passenger jumped off the 11th deck of the ship around 4am on Thursday, December 31, 2009. The woman was reported missing by her husband, a Royal Caribbean employee.

2012 January suicide

A crew member jumped off the 7th deck of the ship early in the morning on Wednesday, January 11 2012 while en route to Nassau, Bahamas. The crew member was witnessed throwing himself over the safety rail into the water below. A search was conducted shortly afterwards with help from other cruise ships from Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, and Disney Cruise Line. The Monarch of the Seas was eventually released by the Bahamian Coast Guard, who continued the search. A life jacket was found later in the day, but the crew member remained missing.

I'll let you know if I experience any ghost encounters.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Something's Catfishy In Holland

So I'm re-watching the great documentary "Catfish" on MTV right now and it reminds me of a real-life similar situation that I think I've discovered.

"Catfish", in case you've not seen it, is an indie documentary that was (supposedly, but that's another issue) intended to be about an 8-year-old girl who stunned the filmmaker with her artistic painting talent. It turns out that the girl's mom is actually the real artist and because she has some possible social anxiety issues or whatever, she's created a complex web of lies. And there's a pun in that statement because the "web" of lies thrives and is supported by an intricate network of faked web sites and Facebook accounts.

The situation I uncovered isn't pertaining to anyone I actually know in real life, but revolves around a vlogger I follow on YouTube. I mentioned him in this post a while back when I admitted I enjoy sleuthing stalking people on the internet.

His name is Leander and he lives in The Hague, Netherlands. He openly admits he has some hefty mental health issues which currently prevent him from working and maintaining many relationships in the real world. Basically, we see him interact only with his immediate family most of the time.

But he's gone on and on, for over a year and a half now, about his boyfriend Colin. He say's he met Colin through his YouTube videos when he started posting complimentary comments that eventually evolved into flirts. In fact, these comments do exist and Colin does continue to comment on occasion. They've never met in person as Colin supposedly lives in West Virginia and hasn't gone to visit despite the fact he's supposedly an engineer who lives in his own house in the countryside.

You see, I think that there is no Colin.

I think Leander created him.

He's just a fantasy.

Leander has shared a lot on his vlogs. He shows much of what goes on, what little there may be most times, each and every day. He's put his mom and other friends on speakerphone frequently so we can hear them. Never Colin. He's shown himself Facetiming and Skyping with family and other Internet friends. He says that he and Colin Skype regularly, but he's never shown him in his vlogs. He has pictures of Colin but there are only about 4 or 5 of them total. In a year and a half. And they're the same photos available on "Colin's" sites like his YouTube channel (which has NO video uploads) and other sites.

Speaking of those other sites, I discovered that Colin's online presence goes back further than the time he started commenting on Leander's YouTube videos. Back even to when Friendster was a popular social media site and he's apparently "dating" some other guy. But wait, as you read through these ancient posts you discover they eventually broke up. Why? Because they could never reconcile their inability to meet.

Yup, another internet love story where the parties never met one another.

I haven't gotten far enough yet in my investigation as to whether or not this other guy exists either. He too could be a part of the web of lies Leander has created out of thin air. I found out that Colin's username from this time period points to a site in Indonesia, and not in English but in Indonesian. Colin is supposed to be a country white boy from the American south. Not likely he'd know Indonesian. But who would? Leander is Dutch of Indonesian decent.

Oh the internet. The great ocean of anonymity and obfuscation. If you're reading this and have never met me, how do you know I even exist?

Sometimes, even I don't know for sure.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Flag In Her Hair, And She Just Don't Care

The President walked up to the podium and started saying something like "200 years ago this nation was just a colony and..." blah, blah, blah. I knew he was conscious of the importance of his victory speech and its place in history. He was obviously trying to sound a bit monumental. But I just couldn't hear what he was saying. Not because the volume was too low, it's just that lady in the background with the freakin' flag stuck out her hair!

OMG! She was so distracting!

I yelled it out to June as soon as I noticed it, and apparently from the Twitter meme that has sprung up within the past hour, I wasn't alone.

Here's a snapshot of the scene. I mean, really! Didn't she know she'd be on camera throughout his speech? Of course she did. I'm sure those guys were hand-selected to be positioned there. Why she thought it would be okay to put her flag in her hair is beyond me.

Ugh! There are probably Twitter accounts and blogs being created as I speak.

She'll be famous in just a few hours.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

He's Back!

"The biggest comeback in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives."
- Alan Grayson...a few minutes ago.

Alan Grayson has just been confirmed as the winner of the District 9 (my district) race here in Central Florida!

Will he be as vocal as he was during his first term in outing corruption, snubbing conservative stick-in-the-muds and screamingly defending the disenfranchised and downtrodden?

Let's hope so.

Some say congress needs to be less partisan and more conciliatory. Well, that'd be fine if the Republicans were more receptive and representative of the entire nation, not just a select few. So I say, as long as they placate their radical right fringe, ignoring the poor, unfairly favoring the rich, denying rights of gays, non-Christians, minorities and women, then give 'em hell, Alan!

L'√Čtat, C'est Moi

Europa Universalis III, a game I've owned for a few years, got little play until it got a bit of a facelift and improved mechanics in its most recent expansion "Divine Wind". It doesn't hurt that I just discovered an active fan community that have made all sorts of helpful "Let's Play" videos. EU3 makes Civilization look like a kid's game. It's a micro-managing control freak's wet dream.

Though it doesn't offer an in-game equivalent to Civ's replay feature which can let you view an ever-changing map chronicling your progress (or lack thereof) over the course of your game, it does allow world map snapshots so I assembled some from a recent game and made a little movie.

Mesdames et messieurs, je presente L'Empire de la France: