Archive for March, 2007

PostHeaderIcon Just weird

tampa hard rock casino bingoTriggered by an earlier post (link) I ordered a DVD of Martin Scorsese’s movie ‘Woodstock’. Last Friday I watched the opening song of that festival by Ritchie Havens. And just like when I saw that movie when I was 17 years old, in an old small obscure theatre in my home town of The Hague in the Netherlands, for some odd reason, it struck me how incredibly mishandled and tortured his guitar looked. Well, true, Ritchie’s technique differs remarkably from Andrés Segovia’s, but still. He himself must have realized too, that his guitar had reached its end of life, because after the Woodstock concert he gave it to his chauffeur.

Last Saturday afternoon, while walking around, contemplating to get a beer, I suddenly stood eye in eye … with that very same guitar!

It hung on a wall.

I could have touched it.

I stared at it for a while, not knowing what to think of this coincidence: one night seeing back that guitar I first wondered about some 37 years ago on a DVD, and then the next day, actually seeing that very same guitar.

Hanging on a wall.

On Indian tribal land.

The very same, relatively small, patch of Indian tribal land, where last month, the day before my birthday, the combination of a punctured abscess, the flu, Chloral Hydrate, Diphenhydramin, Clonazepam, Diazepam, Nordiazepam, Temazepam, Oxazepam, Lorazepam, Atropine, Topiramate, Ciprofloxacin and Acetaminophen, killed Anna Nicole Smith.

Update: as one of the commenters pointed out, this is incorrect. Mrs. Smith died on Indian Tribal land in the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Broward county, Florida, near Miami, not the one in Tampa.

But neither of these events is the topic of this post.

Yes, indeed, we were at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa.

Please have a look at their website at this link: link.

Did you see the slot machines in that picture?

My wife played those slot machines there for, oh, probably two hours or so.

Or at least, that’s what I thought.

And this is what my post actually is about!

No, you DIDN’T see those slot machines on that website I just mentioned. Nor did my wife play any slot machines there.

In fact, check out that website again! The word ‘slot machine’ is nowhere to be found!

Most of the people in that casino may have THOUGHT they were playing slot machines, but they weren’t.

It’s all an illusion.

I already had made the observation that, while they had a nice and BIG poker room besides these ‘slot machines’, this casino, strangely enough, didn’t have any ‘table’ games. No black jack, no roulette, no you-name-it.

Then, on the way home, my wife asked me if I knew what the word ‘DAUB’ meant. I admitted that my knowledge of the Seminole language was inadequate to explain the meaning of that word. She said the ‘slot’ machines had a button with the word ‘DAUB’ on it, which mystified her. There was also, at the top of the machine’s screen, a grid with numbers, that almost looked like …. and yes… at home, some googling confirmed her suspicion: those machines were NOT slot machines. Slot machines are illegal on tribal land. These were bingo machines! The similarity with well known slot machines? Well: “The lower screen is just there for entertainment,” Gail said. “The cards are on top”.  See: link

Do a google on ‘daub slot machines’!

How come they can get away with such obvious fraud (I know… ‘loophole’ is the word), but a game of skill, like online poker, is firmly and effectively banned? (Well, I KNOW why, but I had to mention it!).

WHAT a …   (help me find a word here…)

PostHeaderIcon Martial Arts

kiai characterWhen I grew up there was this thing called Judo.
It was a form of martial art where two combattants would grab eachother by the lapels of their special white pj’s, followed by some pushing and pulling and then the tallest and heaviest guy would win.
There was also a far less popular form of martial art called Jiu Jitsu.
Since martial arts were basically taught, at that time, as a form of self defense, I must say that, to me, pj-pulling Judo was far less effective than Jiu Jitsu, which involved, amongst other things, poking your finger in your opponent’s eye and breaking his fingers.
Then Karate became popular and was soon followed by a whole gamut of martial art forms, some more bizarre than others: from hitting eachother over the head with a cane stick to kicking eachothers shins to a bloody pulp.
Most, if not all, involved unpronouncable names, lots of yelling and screaming, and jumping around a lot.
And none of them was as effective as a method of unarmed self defense as the much more down-to-earth ‘western’ method of firmly planting ones fist in ones opponent’s face, better known as boxing. But I don’t think boxing is considered a martial art.
Which, then, leaves us with the question ‘which is the most effective form of martial art?’.
This is, of course, a hotly debated topic amongst martial artists, and I’d like to introduce to you a case where a representative of one form challenges one of another.
This is about a Kiai master who wagers $5000 on a claim that he can beat ANY MMA master.
An MMA master accepted the challenge and I’ll point you to a video of the match.
But let me first explain the two different forms of martial art.
Kiai is fairly hard to explain, because there’s a lot of mumbojumbo involved about breathing, silent yelling, reflection and energy concentration.
Let me describe it this way: the Kiai master attacks (and defeats) his opponents by ‘manifesting, emitting and projecting his internal energy’ onto his opponents by waving his arms around, but without touching his opponents (the video starts with a demonstration of this!).
The MMA master (MMA stands for Mixed Martial Arts) on the other hand, has no qualms whatsoever when it comes to touching his opponent.

Watch the video of this challenge, and be amazed. Be VERY amazed.

See the video here: link

PostHeaderIcon Missing man

Missing Man

I took this picture (above) today in Titusville on the last day of the three day ‘Tico Warbird Airshow’. It’s by no means a good picture (especially because I had to compress it this much), but it’s a picture of a special event.

What you see here is a snap shot of what is called a Missing-man formation. This is a formation flown to give a last salute to a fallen crew member, usually performed at a funeral or memorial event.

It’s not unusual (but not common either) to see a demonstration of this special formation during an airshow.

But this was no demonstration.

This was a real salute.

It was the salute to Eilon Krugman-Kadi, 58, a Gainesville attorney who, on the first day of this airshow, performed a loop in a Russian L-39 training jet, but did not have enough room to complete the maneuver.

During the flyby, solemn bagpipe music was played, everybody rose, men took off their hats and touched their hearts.

It was a very touching and moving moment.

PostHeaderIcon St Patrick’s day

St Patricks's day Melbourne

Today I went to the St. Patrick’s day parade downtown Melbourne.

Maybe not one of my better ideas. It was a zoo! I had forgotten how much I dislike crowds, and boy was I quickly reminded of it.

Yes, there was beer.

And those who know me, will testify that I’m not someone to turn down a beer quickly.

But I’d be damned if I would drink fluorescent green beer!

That’s just plain wrong. Worse, it’s blasphemy!

*shakes head in utter disgust*

Green beer!

PostHeaderIcon Coming out

Pete Stark CSAApparently, last weekend Congressman Pete Stark (D-California), has come out as someone who does not believe in a supreme being. This makes him the first congressperson ever to admit such a thing.
He made this statement:

When the Secular Coalition asked me to complete a survey on my religious beliefs, I indicated I am a Unitarian who does not believe in a supreme being

To be perfectly clear:

ALL HE DID WAS INDICATING ON A POLL THAT HE DIDN’T BELIEVE IN A SUPREME BEING.

That’s all. Nothing more. He didn’t confess that on ‘the floor’, he didn’t request special treatment and he certainly didn’t bash other people’s beliefs. He was just being honest (while he was the first one to ADMIT this, I’m sure there are more people in congress who share his disbelief).

And LOOK at the reactions!

For a long time I have believed that a very important basic ingredient for people’s tendency to be religious is fear. (To be a God-fearing person is considered a positive Christian trait, and you’d better fear hell too!).

I have seen the fear component manifest itself often and at various levels of consciousness, but seldom have I seen it so clearly as in this outburst from The Christian Seniors Association (CSA). See link.

Allow me a few quotes from that article and my comment on it:

… they want to establish a right for liberals to bash Christians and berate God around the clock …

ALL HE DID WAS INDICATING ON A POLL THAT HE DIDN’T BELIEVE IN A SUPREME BEING.

It is time for religious members of Congress to push back.  A simple declaration of a belief in God by members of Congress on the House floor will be greatly informative for the American people…

To “push back”? Note: Pete Stark did NOT announce his disbelief on the House floor.

ALL HE DID WAS INDICATING ON A POLL THAT HE DIDN’T BELIEVE IN A SUPREME BEING.

We have long recognized that all of this hot air about ‘separation of church and state’ has been a veiled effort to intimidate and silence religious voices in public policy matters …

Isn’t it a bit ‘un-American’ to call your own country’s Bill Of Rights ‘hot air‘? And no, it was not to intimidate, and no it was most certainly not veiled. It is a very CLEAR meassure to, indeed, keep ‘religious voices out of public policy matters’. That’s why it’s called ‘separation of church and state’. But in any case, it’s not something that Mr. Stark even so much as mentioned.

ALL HE DID WAS INDICATING ON A POLL THAT HE DIDN’T BELIEVE IN A SUPREME BEING.

If the liberal House leadership refuses to recognize lawmakers who want to affirm their belief in God …

Wait a minute now, NOBODY was refusing anyone anything …

ALL HE DID WAS INDICATING ON A POLL THAT HE DIDN’T BELIEVE IN A SUPREME BEING.

But based on some of these remarks, I think it IS valid to state that it is the CSA who ‘refuses to recognize lawmakers who want to affirm their disbelief in a god‘.

Congressman Stark’s statement [ … ] could be the moment which defines the decline of our country …

You’ve GOT to be kidding me! This would define the decline of our country?

ALL HE DID WAS INDICATING ON A POLL THAT HE DIDN’T BELIEVE IN A SUPREME BEING.

… the day that religious Americans stood-up to the liberal bullies who are so determined to use the power of government to silence prayer and every other religious expression of free speech.

Okay, NOW someone is REALLY going overboard here. NOBODY wants to deny religious people their right to pray and believe whatever they want. All that the non-religious people ask is to not have those beliefs FORCED upon them and that their tax money isn’t spent on some specific religions.

However, congressman Stark didn’t even mention that request.

ALL HE DID WAS INDICATING ON A POLL THAT HE DIDN’T BELIEVE IN A SUPREME BEING.

While I agree there is some rather nasty bullying going on here, it is NOT Pete Stark who is the bully!

This is a fight which is destined to be fought in America and we think it should begin today.

This is a FIGHT?

ALL HE DID WAS INDICATING ON A POLL THAT HE DIDN’T BELIEVE IN A SUPREME BEING.

PostHeaderIcon Slippery slope

KhalidAnd suddenly we hear from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) again!

I must admit, I wouldn’t have been surprised if we never would have heard from him again (like a few other high profile terrorists who made the headlines when they were captured).

“I was responsible for the 9/11 Operation, from A to Z,” Mohammed … said …

Mohammed, … also said he was responsible for a 1993 attack on New York’s World Trade Center, the bombing of a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, and an attempt to down two American airplanes using shoe bombs.

Wow! He was the guy behind all that?

Does that mean we’re now going to release Ramzi Yousef, who we have in custody for masterminding the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center? (Granted, KSM IS his uncle). And Bali? I thought they picked up Abu Bakar Bashir for that. For that same bombing in Bali, the US has Riduan Isamuddin (known as Hambali) in custody (in an ‘undisclosed location’, which, as we now all know, means either Israel or somewhere in Europe, probably in one of the Balkan countries).

But, as it now turns out, is was KSM who masterminded it all and confessed to it all.

You know … somehow I can’t get the thought out of my mind that KSM was being … well … let me say … ‘given an incentive’ or ‘persuaded’ to admit all this. I also wouldn’t be surprised if some of the pressure that was put on him involved some levels of discomfort. Maybe even more than some ‘okay’ (Cheney!) ‘waterboarding’.

If I would have had the same audience as some of my bluddies, I could imagine the TONS of comments along the line of “I don’t give a rat’s ass: FRY the pig!”

And, you know, I totally understand that sentiment.

But is it right? Wouldn’t we be stooping down to what we so despise in our ennemies? Besides, from a practical point of view: if we (illegaly!) torture them so that they confess .. so that we can kill them legally .. what’s the point? Why not (illegaly) kill them right away? Saves a LOT of money, time and problems.

Anxious to receive some comments on this .. but I know, that’s slightly problematic with only two readers 😉

And yes, I also put this in the ‘religion’ category. Is KSM a serial killer, a beast, an animal? No, I think he’s primarily just a deeply religious being.

Link to article: link

Update:

Today [3/15/2007] it became known that KSM also admitted to having beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002.

In fact, I thougt that that was what he was picked up for in the first place, but anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear tomorrow that he masterminded Jimmy Hoffa’s disapearance as well, or had the hand in JFK’s assassination.

Link to article: link

PostHeaderIcon Defeat

Free beerI must admit defeat. It’s painful. But shit happens.

So, yes, we did go to that Arabian Night dinner show (link). Hey .. unlimited beer!

I had it all figured out, I would get my own beer glass, and my wife, who doesn’t drink beer, would get ‘hers’, but pass it on to me.

I was SURE I would have the place bankrupt (and out of beer) by the time the show started.

But I hadn’t taken Jay into account: “I’m Jay, your server, and I will take care of you tonight”. BOY did he ever!

Here I was sitting with TWO large glasses of beer in front of me. I REALLY started to like dinner shows.

The problem was, that everytime I took a sip (read: gulped down half a glass), Jay would RUN up to us and fill my glass again. COOL! My wife’s remark to him that I would be in love with him by the end of the show didn’t deter him in the least.

Since he kept my glass full all the time, I realized that my wife’s (read: MY OTHER) glass was getting warm, so I started to drink that too. And, consequently, Jay started to keep THAT one full too.

 I LOVE dinner shows!

On the way back I learned from my wife that there were horses in the  show.

I also realized that these people could have been BILLIONAIRES!

If only they’d charged a ‘one buck’ entrance fee to the restroom!

So, okay, they’re not bankrupt.

YET!

PostHeaderIcon He’s got some balls .. (not)

B & CI’m watching my two cats, Bonnie and Clyde (you may remember him from this story: link).

They are laying in the windowsill at the open (but screened) window, engaged in their bird watching hobby.

And then suddenly Clyde starts to make one of his spurious sexual advances to Bonnie, by trying to “mount” her. Let me emphasize the word ‘trying‘ here, because Bonnie is having none of this nonsense. You’d think he would learn, because everytime he pulls this stunt, he gets his ears boxed. But the instincts are probably stronger than his common sense. In the mean time Bonnie angrily turns her face to him with an expression of “you‘ve got some balls“.

This, however, is based on an anatomical misconception. He doesn’t! Just like Bonnie is an ‘altered’ female, Clyde is a thoroughly ‘altered’ male. No balls whatsoever. None. Empty sack. Nada huevos. Zero. Nothing there.

Which makes his behavior even more remarkable.

It’s actually quite funny to see, I should video it some day .. it’s this half-baked and ill-advised effort, one paw on her back, then one or two thrust-like movements with his back end, and then he starts watching the ceiling with this puzzled look, as if saying “uhm.. uh.. now what? What am I supposed to do next, how did this work again?“.

This is where Bonnie usually jumps up and pops him one. After which vicious attack he runs away (not seldomly chased after by an angry Bonnie) and hides behind the stereo 5.1 channel receiver/amplifier.

It’s not always easy to be male …

PostHeaderIcon Arabian nights

Arabian NightsActual email exchange between my wife and me (we used email, because we were in different rooms)

My wife: 

I want to go see this!

http://www.arabian-nights.com 

It is a dinner show, and Kathleen said it was VERY nicely done.

PLUS – you get unlimited house wine and beer with dinner.

We COULD go tomorrow night – go see the horseys.  If you want, I will call them in the morning!  What do you think?

Me:

Let’s go! (you drive back?)

She:

**smack** Did you even READ past the  ” unlimited house wine and beer with dinner“??

Me:

There was more?

PostHeaderIcon Entrepeneurs

DollarsAn unknown number of the new George Washington dollar coins, that went into circulation on February 15th, are lacking their edge inscriptions (which includes the phrase “In God We Trust” .. so the conspiracy theorists are having a field day with it!).

The first ones of the ‘error’ coins went for over $500 on eBay. Currently they are still going for anywhere between $70 and $300. (This article (link) quotes lower prices but I just checked eBay).

Now, here’s the thing that got me: LOTS of ‘smart’ people are now offering ‘UNOPENED rolls’ of 25 of these coins on eBay with the added description “ERRORS????”.

I think this is both clever and silly. Clever, because they just wait for a buyer dumb enough to fall for it, and then they simply go to the bank, buy a roll for $25 and send it to the buyer who paid God-knows-what for it. It’s silly, because everyone and his brother is doing this, so they can only hope to make, at most, a few bucks on the transaction. Sure, they can’t lose any money, but who cares about making a few bucks? It’s simply not worth the effort. I guess it takes the attitude of an entrepeneur (whether I make money or not, I can’t lose on this, so we do it…) to engage in these kinds of deals.

What’s really mind boggling, though, is the fact that people are indeed bidding on this! Even though they can avoid the S&H costs and profit margin, by going to their own bank and buy their own ‘UNOPENED roll .. ERRORS???”.

Anyway, I’m in the market for one of these coins. I bid $10.