Making the Most of Rain

Not sure if you knew this, but it was the wettest April on record here in Seattle. Granted, these photos were taken in May and it’s off to a wonderfully cold and wet start but it makes everything green and clean and pretty and…F this noise: STOP RAINING AND BEING COLD! BE SUMMER ALREADY!

Anyway…when it rains, I go out and take photos; plants love the rain and they look great with water on the leaves and the bright, beautiful colors are really contrasty in the greyish absence of sun.

As always, click ’em to embiggen ’em…they’re purdy.

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>It’s not a giant iPod Touch

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So this past week Apple unveiled their newest creation the iPad. As with ALL newly unveiled Apple products there was much disappointment and bitching by the Apple haters of the world. Let’s get to the crux of what the haters are standing on.

It’s a giant iPod Touch.

That’s it. People don’t like it because they perceive it to just be a huge iPod Touch with a much bigger screen and price tag; nothing new, whatsoever. I won’t argue that from an aesthetic and possibly even current functionality standpoint the iPad is anything more than an iPod Touch, but is that such a bad thing? I mean it’s larger and allows the user to interact with, input and experience things on the device that they never could on an iPod Touch. You can edit photos on the Touch, create a symphony and draw out blueprints for your new house on the touch but would you? Why stop there. Did you know that you can compose a 500-page book on your Motorola RAZR flip-phone using the T9 text input method? I mean why do we need the iPad if these arcane, inferior devices can already do this stuff??

 
iBegToDiffer

Think about the iPod. That device was created 9 years ago. 9 years…and now it is the de facto portable music device, a name as ubiquitous as Kleenex or Xerox. The development of that device is staggering…yet people want to call the iPad a failure before it even hits the shelves? If there’s 1 thing you ever learn from this blog, learn this: people always have and always will be DUMB.

 
Hi. We’re the iPods. We’re 9 years old and we rule the world.

People also complain about the features, or lack thereof. This boils down to a huge misconception over what the iPad was going to be and a difference between certain individual expectations and what was originally planned by the people that actually developed the product.See, the haters wanted the iPad to basically be an iMac or MacBook without a keyboard; a fully functional computer that could replace your current machine. In fact, the iPad is meant to augment your desktop and/or laptop computer by providing certain mobile functionality that the form factor of a laptop cannot provide, or more accurately, provide as well as the iPad can.

Bear in mind, it was all rumors and conjecture. Apple until the actual day of the unveiling event hadn’t made 1 public statement about iPad; it was one of the closest held secrets in the history of computing and all the specs, functionality, release date and such were placed on the iPad by the public at large, not Apple. Hell, Apple even created a Delaware LLC to register certain trademarks prior to the launch. The name of that company? “IP Application Development, LLC.” Get it? IPAD.

The final complaint is that Steve Jobs claims that this product is “revolutionary” and probably the most important product he’s worked on, which when you think the thing is just a big iPod Touch makes sense. What people fail to recognize is that Rome wasn’t built in a day; they view development like the alphabet and believe that anything less than “Z” is a failure. The iPad hit like a “K” and that’s totally fine, maybe even expected.

 
Revolutionary

Think back to 1984 when Apple released the Macintosh. There were computers that were faster, had better monitors, more features, etc. That product was revolutionary and while you sort of understood that at the time it took years and years of further development to realize what the original Macintosh was: truly revolutionary. I believe in 10 years we will look back at the iPad and Steve Jobs and say “that sonuvabitch did it again.” We don’t realize that something is revolutionary until after the fact when it’s been proven; look at the Macintosh. The potential of this device (whether you think it’s a giant iPod Touch or not) is immense.

Imagine the applications in academia, where Apple decided to focus it’s efforts 30+ years ago. Think about carrying around this device and having all your textbooks on it…from every semester you were in school. Furthermore, imagine the possibilities of multimedia textbooks. Chemistry students could be reading about various compounds and have a 3D, interactive display to learn from in the classroom or wherever they may be. Music students can compose directly on the tablet and collaborate in real time with other students in schools thousands of miles away, art students can have fully interactive versions of the worlds greatest works…I mean the possibilities in academia are endless. Fancy yourself a chef? How cool would it be to have a recipe with videos demonstrating various steps in the recipe like how to tie up a roast or the correct technique for folding egg whites into a souffle?

Can other devices (including laptops) do these things already? Sure. But can they do it as well as the iPad will? No way. I keep coming back to the original Macintosh and how similar this device is from a “revolutionary” standpoint. Apple’s ability to innovate and lead the world from a technology perspective is absolute and anyone who thinks that the iPad is a failure, not revolutionary or that it’s just a giant iPod Touch is a fool and I ask that you go back to Windows 95 or Windows ME where you belong.

Does it have shortcomings? You bet. Is it something I would buy right away? Probably not; I want to see how well it does out of the gate and where they focus development efforts and then hop on board. Bear in mind that I LOVE being on the bleeding edge of technology and have purchased the first generation of more technologies than I care to admit so maybe I will jump right in but I still think there are a few things I’d like to see Apple address and I’d also like to see if they decide to make the wireless capabilities available to other carriers besides AT&T as I fear that this is going to piss people off even more than they already are with the iPhone exclusivity. In the long run this will damper the 3rd party development efforts of this device, which is where the true potential lies.

Assuming you made it this far, you need to watch this awesome video by Parry Gripp from the band Nerf Herder. He makes all these super fun, catchy songs about the most random things and the iPad was his latest inspration. Listen to the lyrics. While they are really silly and comparing the iPad to nachos may seem ridiculous, the message is actually pretty spot on…

Fixed Gears Suck

I’m a sucker for the simpler things in life; the way they used to be, even if it may be more difficult or tedious than the “newer” ways. I choose to only buy cars with manual transmissions, I’d buy an over/under shotgun before some auto-loader, I’d much rather build a fire from wood than flip a switch to turn on the fireplace, the list goes on. There’s a certain feeling of power and accomplishment that comes from doing things the way they were once done and I seek that in many of the things I love in life.

But not in bicycles. I focus my hate on a single bike, namely the loathsome “fixed-gear” bike that is hugely popular now with the wannabe bike messenger set and teenage hipsters who wear skinny jeans and listen to The Shins. The bikes look like a classic “10-speed” but with only one gear and typically no brakes, whatsoever. Some riders install a front brake but they’re probably dealt with quickly as fixie-justice is likely served against the weak fixie rider as they are beaten with socks filled with bars of soap or maybe the other 9 gears taken off the bike. I mean, what hardcore skater wears a helmet or surfer uses a leash? Pussies.


Rad fixie, dude. You wanna hangout at Yougurtland and listen to The Shins?

See, when bicycles were first invented it appears that the concept of a brake was foreign. Bikes had a single gear and no freewheel to allow the user to coast along; the pedals were always moving in the direction you were traveling at the same speed you were traveling. Bikes have evolved because that design was stupid and dangerous. It was an evolution based on necessity, not vanity nor laziness.


Yeah, I’ll meet you at Yogurtland…but I wanna listen to The Postal Service…

Now, there’s a revival of the fixed gear bicycle and it makes no sense to me. It’s not like choosing a manual transmission, which offers the driver a much more exciting and “in control” driving experience, it’s just downright silly. Here in Huntington, you see them EVERYWHERE. They’re not hard to miss: bright, horribly mismatched colors, strange handlebars and wheels/spokes, many times grossly over-sized for the person riding it.


Can we listen to MGMT? Postal Service is depressing. My Hello Kitty front wheel is kewl

My biggest gripe are the safety aspects–or lack thereof–typical with these bikes. See, they have no brakes (most of them, at least). No hand brakes, no pushing back lightly on the pedal to stop, nothing. So when you need to stop you’re on your own. And that’s fine if there’s nobody around or nothing in your way…but when you’re riding down the street and a car pulls out (hopefully to try and hit the dumbass riding the bike) how are you supposed to stop? Think of these bikes as runaway mine cars in an Indiana Jones movie: out of control.


Wait…you mean the Yogurtland on Brookhurst? That place is lame…let’s do some tricks

Teens buy these bikes because they are cool; they’re rebellious. In most cities, it’s illegal to ride a bike without a brake, and that right there is enough to risk life and limb so you can give the police and establishment a big old “F U” as you ride by. The sky is the limit, too, on what you spend. In higher income areas like Orange County you’re guaranteed to see stupid looking bikes ride by you that cost more than your first car.


MGMT sux, can’t we just go to Del Taco? I heard Pharrell is gonna be there…

I write this because of an incident that happened last week. I’m leaving the bank and headed towards the light to make a right hand turn onto Edinger Ave (a pretty busy street) and I’m about 20 yards from the light when it turns green. Cars start off the line and I keep moving towards the signal when out of nowhere this dipshit wearing skinny-jeans, a beanie and flannel shirt waving in the breeze comes flying through the intersection on his fixed-gear as 2 cars slam on their brakes and he swerves into the intersection to avoid getting hit. What had happened was he was hauling ass to try and make it through the light and it turned red before he got there and he had no way of stopping. So, he continued into the intersection and is lucky I was as far back as I was and that the people coming off the line didn’t have drag racer reflexes, else he and his bike would have been in a world of hurt.


You guys are stupid. I’m going to Yogurtland. BTW, MGMT sux…

I wish someone would have hit him. Yeah, I said it and I mean it. He’s gonna do it again and again until he gets hit so better to have him learn the lesson before he causes a crash.


(at the counter, Del Taco) Hola, amigo…have you seen Pharrel? We were supposed to meet here and get a taco and there’s just a bunch of liberal, dipshit teenagers listening to noisy music outside…

[Note: GD…why does that photo have to be photoshopped? It could have ended the fixie craze forever…]

So let this be a lesson to you. If you plan on riding a fixed gear bike and you plan on running a red light and I’m coming at you, I’m not stopping. Oh and I’ll be making fun of your friends at Yogurtland.

>Reality TV…I’m too smart for this sh*t

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He’s over reality television, too…

I’ve had it with reality television. It’s been a long time coming and I’m just over it. Watching Cake Boss on TLC Sunday night was the last straw. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an entertaining show but trying to pass things off as “real” is insulting. The guys dropped a cake down the stairs in the bakery with a camera conveniently located at the bottom of the stairs, a bakery full of completely fake “oh my god!” responses and worse acting than anything Megan Fox appears in, though obviously far less sexy. The gang re-made the cake in an hour and a half (supposedly) which showed off their talents, because they truly ARE immensely talented, though whether they did all this 2 hours before the cake was to be delivered is suspect. I knew it was fake the second it happened and was validated later in the same show when the gang rolled a 400lb cake onto a freight elevator that was located right behind the stairs that were the scene of the crime. Why was the first cake not placed in the freight elevator? Can we just go ahead and agree that EVERY cake they decorate is placed in this freight elevator? C’mon, now…

I guess I’m just too smart and cynical to be the target audience for reality television and I’m OK with that. I have too many other things to do with my time that are far more important than needing to know who the Bachelor picks or if they’re gonna hit that deadline in the cake shop. I guess if you go into these shows knowing that they are not “reality” as you and I know it and write them off as pure entertainment and mindless fun, they’re watchable. But, the second you start to believe that just because there’s not a list of cast members at the end of the show and the people in front of you are using their real names so there’s no way they’re not actors, you’re screwed. You don’t need to have a part in a script to dish out a whole lotta acting and bullsh*t, just look at politicians.


It seemed so real…

True story. The first year I moved to SoCal I was at a bar in downtown Santa Monica and late at night a film crew showed up; they were taping elimiDATE, a pretty entertaining dating show that I watched from time to time, so I was excited to see how it played out in person. The couple started dancing with 2 cameras on them filming the drunken, steamy love fest on the dance floor when the producer wrote on a yellow legal pad in thick, bold writing from the sharpie marker “GRAB HER ASS” and held it below the camera, out of sight of the other camera (post would have cleaned that up if it got screwed up). The dude followed his cue and grabbed the girl’s ass as the other girl vying for his “love” stood by drinking her vodka/Redbull, waiting for her opportunity to take cues from a legal pad. After hoochie #1 was eliminated and hoochie #2 was crowed the “winner” (of an STD, permanent Drakkar Noir scent and nary a chance of a call from mega-douche if I had to guess) the crew filmed the loser walking across the street. When she got to the other side, the producer yelled at her to come back and try it again, but this time a bit slower with her head down. She obliged and before starting she offered some suggestions, which the producer seemed to like. Once on the other side, she got the OK from the producers, came back, lit up her cigarette and chatted with the producer before going back into the club. 100% scripted. I cannot confirm/deny that hoochie #2 was selected by the producers to be the winner (opposed to the douche contestant) as it happened in the VIP area of the club, though I think we know the answer to that one…

This got me thinking: blog post. Let’s divide the reality shows into a few different categories and we’ll grade each category of reality TV.

Reality competitions: B+

Great show, very entertaining, not douchy…

Examples: Top Chef, Survivor, American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With The Stars

I don’t really have a problem with these shows; my opinion of each show is unique and not a blanket statement like most of the the categories that follow. Shows where there is a cash prize or some title to be earned by successfully navigating your way through the rounds with the jokers, the rounds with the people that make for good TV and finally the genuine competition. They may be heavily produced but you get a genuine sense that what’s happening is “real” and not scripted, though I’m hesitant to give them an A as there always seems to be some questionable judging and certain desperate shows (*cough*, American Idol) obviously choose contestants that have no right being there, but will make for good TV.

“Follow along at home or work” shows: D+ (F- for Jon and Kate)

Just do the tattoos, save the drama for the actors…

Examples: Ace of Cakes, Cake Boss, anything that involves cakes, Miami Ink, Choppers Inc., Run’s House, Jon and Kate Plus 8

Let me first say this: all these people are hugely talented. Their skills are top notch and I’ve no qualms about that, whatsoever. What I do have a problem with is the selling out of their name for the sake of a reality show to make some coin. They come off looking like dopes; unprofessional and desperate which ultimately cheapens their name, which is fine because they’re probably getting paid more an episode than most of us will make in 6+ months. The sad thing is that TV executives know that there’s not really anything exciting about what these people do so they simply use the relative fame/notoriety of these people to deliver their drama/tension agenda to the unsuspecting viewing audience, cuz that’s what sells ads. The follow along with people at home stuff is even more horrible; Jon and Kate Plus 8 takes the crown for the worst. Oh and they make more an episode than most of us will make in a year. How’s that for fairness?

Romance shows: D

“That’s so funny! We totally slept with you on national TV! Now, who do we talk to about getting our own shows?”

Examples: The Bachelor, any ____ of Love show on VH1

Who goes on TV in front of the world to try and find love? People with acting/modeling aspirations, that’s who. They try to make it seem like it’s real but they are so over-produced that nothing seems genuine. The entire show is scripted from start to finish, no matter how much you think it’s not. Ever wonder how they’ve got 3 different camera angles with no obstructions on every single person in the house at times when something exciting is happening? Oh and when the people say they really fell in love with the star of the show and the waterworks start flowing, you’re smarter than that: they fell in love with the thought of the show catapulting their acting/modeling career and now that they’re off the show, they’re not getting as much airtime as their fellow competitors. Getting axed a couple from the end is the worst cuz you know your chances of getting a spin-off show are all but gone unless you were bat-shit crazy (which probably would have gotten you axed very early on and simply been a highlight on The Soup).

Shows that swear they are real: F

This is an entire episode of the Hills…and they get paid for this…

Examples: The Hills, Laguna Beach, Real Housewives of _____

These are the worst. At least with the VH1 shows they sort of make fun of themselves in the process. The fact that these people want us to believe that what’s happening is organic, unscripted and genuine is horrible. The most frightening thing about these shows is how many shows they spawn. Has anyone on The Hills not grabbed their own TV deal? How many different cities/areas do we need Housewives shows for so that everyone can realize what horrible people they are? We get it: there are some painfully horrible people and actors out there but there’s no reason we need to see them every week and see as much of them as your programming will allow. There’s a simple way to make these shows go away: just stop paying them any attention…

Twitter is stupid

If you’re an avid Twitter user or lover, you might want to tune out right now and tweet about @bmills serving up a heaping serving of Twitter hate in 3….2….1…

Twitter sucks. I should really just end this “tweet” here, but I’ll go on, pretending I get paid by the word or that you actually have an attention span long enough to read my writings. I’d debated doing this post in 140-character segments but then realized I’d be adhering to the Twitter rules of the road, so F Twitter for screwing up my plan at making fun of them…


Well stated, little freak bird thingy…

All Twitter does is tell you what someone is doing and vice versa. That’s it. That’s it? So basically, we’re all just voyeurs; peeping Toms, groupies who are on a need to know basis about the mundane details of someone else’s life, not in a Facebook sort of way, but in a 140-character or less way. It’s like non-stop text messages; ADD with a cutesy blue bird and proprietary jargon like “tweets” to make people feel special. In what way is this a good thing? How does this help you learn who a person is, besides by reading every single tweet, the majority of which are pretty useless anyway? I love y’all…but there is no need for you to know every single thing about me and my exciting daily life. I’ll gladly share it with you if you ask, but there’s no way I feel so special that it would be a privilege for you to share in everything I do.

So, I gotta ask: what’s so boring about your life that you need to know every single detail of someone else’s day? I guarantee your life is far more exciting than you think it is. Why do you need to “follow” someone and see they just got to Starbucks.
And that Starbucks is out of Chai Lattes. 12:53pm
And that Peet’s over at Bella Terra would have been a better choice. 12:57pm
And now they don’t even want coffee 😦 12:58pm
And that this picture from @AshtonKutcher was re-tweeted. 2:22pm
And ZOMG there’s a squirrel on that guy’s car! Kewl! 3:12pm

Now, I’ll admit that I’m guilty of updating my Facebook status from my phone; a sin I rarely commit and never more than once a day. But, let’s be honest: that’s not the essence of Twitter. Twitter is what happens if ADD, Minesweeper and Perez Hilton were combined into the ultimate time-wasting service.

“But it’s great to know what people do throughout their day through the exchange of tweets!” Then pick up the damn phone or Skype each other; at least you can hear the angst or excitement on the other end, as they’ve yet to develop a font that can express emotion quite like the human voice (Helvetica and Comic Sans come close). Isn’t that how we did it back in the olden days, like the early 2000’s? Hell, go look at Facebook or Myspace every couple of days; you’re bound to get all caught up in about 1 minute.


Does not tweet…

“But Facebook status updates are no different…” You may have a point, but the similarities between the 2 services end right there. Think of Facebook as a Swiss Army Knife, capable of doing all sorts of different tasks; everything you’d need. Think of Twitter as a can opener, capable of…well, opening cans. While Facebook may be a time-waster, at least it’s a sort of one-stop shop where you can satisfy all your desires for information about anyone who’s willing to accept your friend request, from photos to stupid quizzes about which Star Wars character you were in a previous life. Twitter is still just telling everyone what you’re doing…and that’s it.

Here’s what I really don’t get: the valuation of Twitter. Google has reportedly been in talks to acquire Twitter for $250,000,000. 250 million…to know that Ashton Kutcher is at In-n-Out or that your neighbor is watching Idol with the TV on too loud. This is absurd. Now, I do believe there is a need for instant publishing of news and such and that situation in Iran a while back is a great example. Fine.

SCORE UPDATE: Twitter 1 | Complete F’n Waste of Time 85,827,335

Oh, and the shameless self-promotion. OK, if you’re a band, a comic or some sort of performer and you want to let your fans know where you’re gonna be and what times and that sort of thing…I guess there’s a use for it. But guess what shameless self-promoters? You’re better than 140-characters and you know it. Besides that, people are going to be at their computers and can access Ticketbastard, Facebook, MySpace or anything else where they can buy your stuff, find out tour dates and all that jazz without a stupid little blue bird tweeting the way. Oh and don’t kid yourself: you really want people to go to your website anyway and are just jumping on the Twitter bandwagon cuz it’s cool…or kewl, as the Internet-kids would say.

Now, Twitter is getting into the wine-making business? Granted, it’s for charity–and that’s great cuz I’m sure the Twitterati will flock to buy the stuff which will benefit the charity big time–but this is just silly. Maybe you should find a way to earn revenue and stop sucking on the teat of venture capital? Nah, that’d be too easy…besides, once they roll out their way of generating revenue (most likely ads) it’s not like people are gonna drop Twitter like the bad habit it is, right? (my sarcasm font style didn’t seem to be working during that last sentence…) What’s next for Twitter: Twitter Scooters or maybe TwitterMart where you can buy everything that the instant-publisher needs? You laugh, but you know there’s a chance…


Oaky with some notes of desperation, stone fruit and a lingering lameness on the palette…

So if you like Twitter, good for you; there are millions of others out there that you can tweet with. Personally, I have to draw the time-wasting line somewhere and I see Twitter as being WAY on the other side of necessary. Nobody is so exciting that you need to keep up with every minute detail, every second of every day of their life. And if you feel so inclined to share that much with people, do so in a much more productive outlet such as writing, posting photos, creating something where you’re not forced to define your life by 140 characters at a time because that’s just stupid.

OK, that felt good. Go re-tweet this.

BTW, this guy has a great rant about Twitter, too…

>Upselling sucks

>I hate being up-sold. I’m an educated consumer and I know what I want. In many cases, I know more than the person trying to sell me something so why should I believe you when you tell me I need this additional product or I should go for a bit more? If you’re a bit confused, here’s the upsell.

You go to buy something; goods or services, it takes both kinds. When checking out or discussing what you’re purchasing, the person hawking the goods or services tries to get you buy additional items or have you change your initial order, like getting the same computer but adding more RAM or a faster processor.

I understand it’s their job but do they have to be so GD persistent? Recently, I was victim to unwanted and annoying as hell upselling at the following 2 locations on the same day. Lovely.

1. The car wash
Car wash guy: How ya doing today?
Me: Great; nice day, need to wash the car
CWG: I hear ya, boss! What can we do for you today?
Me: Just need the standard wash, and that’s all
CWG: Can I get you some wheel & tire dressing? Wax?
Me: No. Just the standard wash, and that’s all
CWG: You sure? The wax will protect your paint and the tire/wheel dressing will really clean up these wheels; they’re pretty dirty. I mean, you really should do it.
Me: No, thank you. I still just want the standard wash, like when I first got here (said with a little laugh that was condescending enough to make him put the pen behind his ear and begrudgingly accept defeat)
CWG: Well, it’s your call, boss…
Me: I know. Thanks for trying

2. Dentist
I’ll spare you the transcript for it wasn’t nearly as exciting and would be much longer than I care to type. In a nutshell, the dentist is the undisputed king of the upsell. When I was a kid, you got your teeth cleaned with no hassel. Go in and get x-rays, if cavities show up they tell you and they fix them; no options, no upsell, nothing. Now, I go in and apparently have a cavity that requires work. She informs me that the dentist is recommending that I not go with a standard filling but instead go for a partial crown. Cost to me: $687 and that’s after insurance; $850+ before insurance. I ask the woman why the dentist is not recommending a filling and she informs me that the crown is a better, safer, longer-lasting–and most importantly in her opinion–more attractive alternative. I told her the only reason she wants me to do it is because it’s 5-times more expensive than the regular filling alternative that was on the comparison chart, probably because insurance companies require they place an alternative, and that there would never be a time that was right for a filling in their eyes.

I asked about a guarantee on this crown and future damage and such. Not surprising, but there is no guarantee; if it breaks a week later, guess who’s back for another $687 procedure. But, such cases were “very rare” and fillings not only wear out after some time but don’t look nearly as nice as the crown does and having beautiful teeth is very important in today’s society.

Then, I tell her I’m getting rather frustrated and annoyed and that she’s wasting her time by trying to sell a useless and frivolous treatment to me. She then gives me a “well, whatever; they’re your teeth, not mine…” which went a long ways towards ensuring that I would not be going back to them. She also informs me that the dentist is recommending scaling (deep cleaning) on my teeth instead of a regular cleaning. This now means that the dentist appointment that was to be free, per the insurance I have, will now cost me $55; no negotiating. However, it only cost me $55 because I declined the $60 anti-bacterial rinse they recommend when doing this procedure. What a bunch of bullsh*t. I’m wondering if the cost of the procedures performed is in any way correlated to the overhead and staff they have on hand? In my 2 hour visit, I was attended to by no less than 5 people: receptionist, x-ray girl, hygenist, dentist and upsell girl.

I’m not joking: all that woman did was wear nice clothes and walk from room to room with a clipboard informing people of the treatments they required and upselling her way to a bonus. I’m doubting she had any knowledge of dentistry, whatsoever, and could rather easily transition from this job to one at a best buy, a landscaping company, auto repair facility or car wash.

So, to wrap it up, don’t upsell me. I hate it.

>Welcome home

>So we arrived back to the USA last night via Los Angeles International Airport. After going through customs at 3 international airports in Europe, I can officially say that customs and security in the US is head and shoulders worse than anything out there.

I’ll give LAX the benefit of the doubt in that it has to be one of the biggest–if not THE biggest–entry points into the USA, but still… How about Heathrow? That has to be the largest entry point into Europe and it was sure packed enough to lead you to believe it so. From the time we got off the plane, cleared customs and grabbed our bags, it could not have been more than 20 minutes; the majority of that time spent waiting for bags. Last night, from the time we got off the plane and were outside waiting for a ride it had to be at least an hour due in large part to a haphazard and overly redundant system of checking and re-checking the same document 4 times.

Whatever. It is what it is, but you just hate ending your trip on the sourest of notes: immigration at LAX.

Oh and a special side-note. I won’t get all political on you, but as you’re walking down the tunnel to immigration at LAX from the Bradley terminal, you are greeted with pictures of President Bush and Vice President Cheney hanging above the moving walkway so you cannot miss them. No offense to either guy, but with the current state of affairs around the world and the overwhelming popularity of the USA abroad (my sarcasm font wouldn’t work for those previous statements)…do we really want the first thing foreigners see when entering customs the photos of these two guys?? If I were a foreigner, the sight of Boss Hogg and Rosco P. Coltrane would surely deter me from wanting to proceed further. Wait…maybe that’s their way of keeping people out of the states and controlling immigration… Good play, USA…good play…

So, posts all next week on the trip with photos now that I am back on my “mothership” system and have uploaded the 600 some photos I took. Needless to say, there are some real winners.

Talk to you soon…