disclaimer i... -I don't know what you're talking about
Newly (and barely) updated in November 2016!!
(You wouldn't believe how many hits this page gets! Golly, I seem to get a lot of requests from fawny-sounding coeds with named like 'missy' who tell me they found a broken link, and wondering if I still update this and how they can get their favorite links added - all for the good of their students, they say! Golly!)
There's a few things I think of from time to time; usually they seem so obvious yet for one reason or another the rest of the world (the fools!) continue to live in the dark ages. So to get this critical information out there for the good of The People in whatever form possible, I disseminate it here. No charge - it's kinda like a public service. The CIA calls it 'osint' - open source intelligence. I'll bet you'll learn a few surprising facts. So don't get me started - oh, too late, I've already started.
So read on, scholars! Today is 'you-day'!
It's a little like a very, very slow motion 'blog' - except that I started it before I heard of any of these 'blogs', and besides I've not really got hours and hours to add stuff all the time - 'wher r U now?' cripe! It's in eternal process of being rewritten, however, and this is at least better than the older versions... There are probably very many ideas which have been superseded (sometimes with sense), and so I beg your indulgence if you should come across a seemingly outmoded idea or three here. If you really like, ply me with beers and I can explain it all a little more lucidly (and a lot more precisely) in person, for a while.

[the general format, really it's a little template for my updates:]



Thank you for contributing to the downfall of the economy. By the way, please refrain from putting your photos all over the place - you are all really weird looking.

[okay, here we go:]

Macrowave freezer, etc.
have been meaning to look on the web to see if the joke here i came up with on the edge of sleep some time ago was already invented, and didn't find anything. so here it is:
Q - what did the space alien say to the protesting abductee in the brightly lit shiny room?
A- this aint uranus anymore.
'donaldnacht' (for the rampage of 'anti-other' violence that trump enthusiasts will go on if that mental midget & emotional cripple stuck in a 10-year old rich kid's mindset wins ... or loses).
Those stupid spinning circles that are all over the web and komputers when they can't do something (another reason to stick to good old html, so you can see it), and those dumb stacks of lines that link to the actual website that apparently all websites now think is 'the way' and thus needed. Headers or menus - too old fashioned, you're so uncool, this is the future! I'm guessing that both these annoyances are heavy on i-phones, and so people are actually enthralled, blissed-out by them, since they come from their beloved, precious, dear, and meaning of like i-phones. While I'm on that, another - the dumb 'non-threatening little native people in an ecotourism forest marimbas i-phone 'ring' sound. Criminy, I used to like me some marimbas (xylophones almost as much), before this ruined it. About as bad is the dumb sampled 'ringing phone' (and its digital cutoff)... Both about as bad (or maybe nearly so) as the 'distorted and already awful pop song that's so good I have to listen to it at full volume for a while before I answer the $#@!! phone' phone ring - that's bad too.
Just so it's on record, I wanted to state here a few universal truths I've trademarked as phrases, that I'm always observing, and which I am constantl yrepeating to others:
1. Denial is the worlds most powerful religion, and the Official Religion of the U.S.A. The popular media, entertainment, government, and military are the congregational choir.
2. The whole world is run by idiots (or, if you prefer to be charitable, amateurs). Witness a president and his dramatic 'mission accomplished' celebration just months into a ten-year war, or the KGB unable to find me when I was working in their headquarters (in Minsk, 1992), the billions of missing 'development' money in Iraq and Afghanistan, or any number of other examples from everyday life and history. The asterisk on this is, that when vast sums of money or power are potentially available to individuals then professionalism, amazingly, makes its appearance (witness the billions of missing money in Iraq and Afghanistan, political campaigns, recurring 'defense' contracts for unneeded weapons of death and destruction, the financial puramid scheme of the world banking industry, deregulation of global capitalism, etc.)
3. In vendo veritas, meaning "truth in advertising" or more precisely that you can tell the target audience (of radio, TV, print, etc.) by seeing what's being advertised and how.
I know I am getting old and all that but the world is starting to get away from me. Now I hear all this stuff about people desperately trying to fill out their 'friends' lists on me-tube or whatever the fad website of the season is. The first time I heard somebody say i should 'join' some or another website so I could be their 'friend', well golly, I plum didn't know what the hell they was talking about 't all - especially as we were drinking beers together and talking in a bar as we did every now and then and that was enough for me, and I assumed them, and so filling out some paperwork - even if it's on a website - seems a little too ceremonial. Almost ten years later I see that this post-modern concept of 'friend' (a consumerist concept wherein 'friends' are data to be displayed as a collection of items acquired) has become quite popular, and maybe is overtaking the idea of actually hanging around with a person without any URL linking. I get, from time to time, these weird automated emails from websites that are obviously launched at the command of people who, to my old-fashioned mind, are already my actual friends (sensu traditio). So of course I delete these and think no further of them (except when writing this or when another one arrives). I also of course get the ones tat are far more sinister and are, apparently, yet another method of sending spam, or tricking people or something - that's something else I can't understand and will have to add a comment on that as well, but here we are thinking about the 'friends' as list phenomenon. Anyway, I can't think of anything more unrelated to being a person's friend than needing to register demographic data and submit to web-surfing observation by a large media corporation. And I can't understand why or how this could be interesting or useful for an actual friend of mine, unless they really are so neurotic as to think that their worth depends on how long their list of 'friends' is on this month's popular website of that variety. All this doesn't bode well for my future success in the increasingly mysterious world, I guess.
The eastern UP and the western UP have greatly divergent beer cultures. In the west-inherited/shared/borrowed from Wisconsin and from the mid 20th century. There you can buy good, decent, normal beers like Blatz, Old Style, Leinenkugel (not the fancy shit they sell outstate, the real stuff), etc. In the east - you're stuck with the awful megabrews that one would be taught to drink by popular media: Budweiser, Michelob, Labatts (I know, but it's the same)... I am horrified to reinforce my memory, but I have seen far too many of these country type drinking - get this - 'Busch Lite'! to forget. <image of WF Buckley looking aghast at a k-mart plaza from a taxi/ > What the hell??
You'd be healthier, drunker, and thinner to just drink watered down Mad Dog - and it'd taste, look, and sound better. Anyway, the Blatz line (I am telling you as a geographer) is the line that separates these two worlds. Now I prefer the eastern UP myself, just not it's position in reference to the Blatz line. So like I was saying, the Blatz line is where, if you are travelling east or west the kingdom of decent beer either ends or begins, depending on travel direction (and IQ, I guess, it you're one of those busch light idiots).
After several seasons field study by bicycle (the best way to study landscape geography where there are roads, and a fully agreeable method of beer and tavern studies as well) I have been able to place the Blatz Line at Seney in the Central UP; between Manistique and Rapid River in the South. To the east of the 'Line, there is one outpost that I know of, which is Trout Lake, where the desperate (I myself have been included in that category more than once) can get Blatz. In 2009 after several discussions at both taverns, I learned the interesting story behind this phenomenon. Turns out there is, as I recall, a retired fireman from far downstate (Detroit maybe) who comes up every summer and, to assure himself a quality beer when visiting the taverns, stocks them himself to the level of some 20 cases a summer, the TL Tavern getting a higher proportion than the Buckhorn apparently reflecting either the sums of time spent at the two taverns or perhaps the amount of Blatz sold to other customers. Seems near the edges of the BL the bars only ever say 'oh theres one other guy who comes in here and always drinks Blatz', so clearly more evangelizing needs to be done in these frontier lands. The Buckhorn in TL also sells Bell's on tap cheaply. This and other details of the actual position I yet need to do more work on to refine - there may be other outposts (I doubt it). Adding noise to the exact Blatz line is the closely related 'Old Style' line, as these appear to be nearly the same beers from the same distributor and manufacturer (G Heilemann). To the north, it's Grand Marais, though there's a place there that makes their own beer, so that surely falls in the western realm. Seney in the center, and seems to be Manistique in the south. This is a dynamic map, so people, by all means send your reports. (July 2009)
After spending a lot of time in a lot of different tents while camping and working, I can say that the $#@!! $450 hilleberg akto is the worst I have experienced. The problem - even in dry weather with a breeze and all the vents open the $#@!! thing got so wet inside from condensation that it began dripping on me after a couple hours and then took hours to dry every morning. In the rain, it was worse.
I continue to maintain that the good old fashioned (read: well-designed and practical) A-frame tent is the ideal solution for a small tent, despite the overwhelming preponderance of weirdly-shaped tents for the last 25 years. One can see why, in our confused world, why this is the case: weird shapes, because of all the angles and curves, necessitate much fabric cutting and stitching, thus, even at slave wages in China or Viet Nam, give the marketing appearance of value-added; many weird panels allow more weird, loud colo(u)rs, weird shapes can change all the time with little real need to think about design, thus 'new' models can be added each marketing year, weird shapes make tents 'look different' from one another, thus no fear of having last year's shape, many different angles give possibility to have the corporate logo emblazoned on the tent in different places facing every possible directions, etc., etc., etc. I guess weird dome-y tents also were originally used in high-wind alpine mountaineering (for which they were well-suited), so of course you can see how that same look was marketed to and desired by the mass consumers...

A-frame tents, on the other hand, require less cutting and stitching (which translates as greater strength and fewer seams to leak), are simple to set up, are rectangular (like a sleeping person unless you sleep curled up perfectly round like a giant fox), allow the highest point along the long axis in center and are thus easy to sit up in where needed, and - most of all after trying many tents in work and fun especially that POS hilleberg - have the ideal setup for ventilation and screen windows: two opposing vertical walls (weird tents don't usually have ANY vertical surfaces, thus can't have screens for visibility or ventilation without water getting in). Screen windows on opposite walls allow good ventilation-through even in a slight breeze as well as the possibility to look out in two different directions. Seems so obvious, of course. Clear, like my writing.

If I weren't exhausted I'd go on about the ugly loud colo(u)res so many tents are now made in, screaming 'here I am, here I am, did you see that I have the latest model tent from outside magazine 'reviews?', by the way i also have an espresso brewer, an ice cream maker, a satellite radio, and a strobe light'. But then look at everything else these days -- is anything quiet or restrained, or modest to br found anywhere? [not here either] (February-August 2009)
You are not 'going' anywhere today. You are not 'visiting' anyone 'here' (there). You're actually quite far from the site author and I have no idea you are even looking at the screen, or even that you exist, sorry. Send me an email if you need reassurance that you exist. You are not 'interactive' in any way. You are passively looking at text, pictures, and animation, occasionally buying shit by pressing some plastic mouse buttons. You are alone and probably slouching in your chair. Even if I use the word 'hello' here, it is insincere, since I don't know who sees it and when. I want decent people to feel good and relaxed, of course, but I really have no idea who you are. A revolution - now that's interactive! (1999)
I cannot believe I went most of my life without it. Now I know, and live much better these days. Ingredients should not include corn syrup, but should contain honey, nutmeg and cinnamon, real butter, and may be enhanced by *generous bourbon*.*(1999)
Cast iron is the only acceptable option, unless you have a condition which makes them too heavy (i.e., you are a wimp or over 90 years old) or you need the fast reaction of thinner materials (on a gas flame of course). If properly cared for, cast iron pans are the ultimate non-stick. I can't understand why people use those horrible Teflon "coated" pans, with their flaking layers of 'no stick'...(2000)
Update: Recently (finally) got a wok, too: carbon steel. Excellent material for the function, gas stove critical.
From frying to flying, ha, ha ha. Don't feel bad if you accidentally kept some silverware at mealtime, because it's small and well made - good for picnics or camping. Also many have nice design. Don't go through Frankfurt/main if possible; especially if connecting transatlantic on a 747! Schipol has good shopping, especially if you go downstairs (through customs). For cheap thrills fly on an airline in the former USSR - the Tu-134 is fun plane, but the 154 is kinda crowded. Yaks are good, too. don't worry, and ignore the threads showing on the tires; the tires are actually in good shape compared to the hydraulics.    ** 
Update: No more metal silverware on airplanes! You might stab us! Good thing I got it while I could! I wonder what happened to it all... Hmmm, will have to look on Ebay...
Avoid all american airports - they're scared of you!
Update: I pretty much have abandoned flying. Too wasteful on energy, too expensive, but the overwhelming reason is because of the bullshit 'security' facade that is the main feature of contemporary travel. It's a ritualized humiliation ceremony that both sides are to play their part blindly in order to feel worthy of the 'secure' group - thus subconsciously reinforcing received perceptions of the 'tarist' threateners who hate us because we're free. Soon I am certain they will have matching plane interior and stewardess uniforms to coordinate with the Government Danger Colors of the moment (they needn't have the 'safe' colors made and ready). So no, I don't fly much any more, and will continue to decrease that indulgence.
Update 2009:Forget the whole thing - the 'security' rituals are a farce (take off my fucking shoes - on THAT carpeting??), the lines are ridiculously long (I don't wait in long lines - I lived through that in the USSR and learned my lesson), the pitchfork devil 'security' TSA people don't know what the hell's going on, the airplanes are full of idiots piled on top of one another, and then they have the un-shame to actually try and nickel and dime you for a goddamned can of pop or beer!
Only Greek oil will do, since with Italian, you don't know what you're getting. Had a favourite from California for a while, though too variable. I do like Lucini from Italy... *

Fucking great records that I have (If I were 'public radio' I'd be afraid to swear, and pester you with 'buy these!!' commands and so forth.):

Vespers (as recorded by the USSR Ministry of Culture Chamber Choir at the Smolensk Cathedral in 1986, on Melodia Records [update: also bought same recording as 'Moscow Studio Archives' records MOS18733];this record to me is the absolute apex of pleasure and beauty) [Sergei Rachmaninov], Black Market Clash [The Clash] (the original one, preferably on NuDisk but there are non-US CDs of it; just NOT the disastrously recompiled 'Super BMC'), 69 Love Songs [Magnetic Fields], If I Could See Dallas and The Sleepy Strange [Japancakes], The Future /or maybe Songs From a Room/ [Leonard Cohen], Remain in Light [Talking Heads], Telekon [Gary Numan], íÏÄÅÌØ [ïËÅÁÎ üÌØÚÉ] (Model, by the Ukrainian popgroup Okean Elzy), Nerve Net [Brian Eno], Hyacinths and Thistles [The 6ths], Live Between Us [The Tragically Hip], Bizarro /or/ George Best [The Wedding Present], Gold Mother [James], Frobisher Bay [Tamarack], this obscure cheap live cd [Merle Haggard] I bought in Canada, Out of Time [Mojave 3], 101 /or/ Violator /or/ Songs of Faith and Devotion [Depeche Mode], /any record/[Galaxie 500], the first album by [New Order], Nebraska [Bruce Springsteen], Street Hassle [Lou Reed], The Geometrid [Looper], The Ruby Sea [Thin White Rope], On the Beach [Neil Young], August and Everything After [Counting Crows], Street Legal [Bob Dylan], Here Comes the Groom [John Wesley Harding], The Trinity Sessions [Cowboy Junkies], Geogaddi [Boards of Canada], óÏÒÏË ÛÅÓÔØ or ÞÅÒÎÉÊ ÁÌØÂÏÍ [ëÉÎÏ] (46 /or/ the black album, by the Soviet band Kino), All You Can Eat [k.d. lang], Who Are You [the Who], Sons & Fascination [Simple Minds] (when they were really great), October [U2 before they got all annoying], Paranoid(also IV) [Black Sabbath], Gord's Gold [Gordon Lightfoot] (counts as a record because the songs were all re-recorded for this compilation), Everybody Knows This is Nowhere [Neil Young], Empty Glass [Pete Townsend], The Road to Ensenada [Lyle Lovett], Made on Earth [Barbara Gogan and Hector Zazou], Rembrandt Pussyhorse [Butthole Surfers], more. Should add one by The Fall, too. And add 4 or 5 by people from Fairbanks, too - Willis Fireball, Caleb Aronson, etc. Sure, I have weirder, more obscure, or maybe even more 'cool' or 'square' stuff, and there's plenty of good shit that I don't have, but these are really well-made records by any standard.
Five Points Bottle Shop; Athens GA. LCBO (all of them in the whole province); Ontario. Breeze-in; Juneau, Alaska. Alkoworld; Lviv Ukraine. A couple of great wine shops I visited in the Republic of Georgia, too. Not much in Fairbanks, but lately (2007) Goldstream has had some decent sales.
Be careful, especially, about whether the door signs say 'push' or 'pull' (best to learn how to gingerly test first time without anybody noticing which direction your force is... pretend to be thinking of something as you enter/exit). Also be careful about loo signs (for example, in Lithuania, 'm' means women - you'll see the unusually comfy decor and wonder). Go to the supermarket and see what people are buying. Buy the local paper, but hold it upside-down while 'reading' it. Don't buy anything at the airport. Take pictures of everything they don't expect you to. If you don't know the language (or if you do), ask first if they speak some obscure language they are sure not to know, then ask about the one you know. Pretend to be from an unlikely place. Even better, pretend to be from a place nobody knows enough about to ask any questions. Drink the water everywhere. Walk instead of taking the taxi for a while. Pretend that the things that are familiar there to you are strange too. Watch out for the 'tarists', who are always looking for you because they hate you for being free (i.e., stay away from the US Embassy and stay abroad if you're a US citizen!) Remember, you are a character out of fiction, and you are also the author and the star. And be sure to fret because anything can go to hell at any moment! - those savages! !
the most useful computer format:
pdf - man, that sure solves a ton of problems. hell at any moment! - those savages! ! [I decided not to edit off the remnant at the end of that sentence - i thought it somehow 'worked'.]
For hiking boots, I recommend Italian made only. Casual shoes (were) best from ecco, toughest from doc martens, all-round bargains from Dexter. I've got some darned comfy slippers I bought at the Clark's shop at Gatwick on the way to Ukraine (not wanting to show up without slippers again); the only thing is, I'm always afraid I'll forget and wear them out in public. They're kinda soft and velvety for streetwear. Those square-fronted Italian shoes so popular in the former USSR (and, I suppose, Europe) look silly, but are probably really not a bad idea... Still, I'm always afraid to wear mine in North America. (2001)
Update :Ecco and DM have switched production to third world... Many former good Italian bootmakers have done same (Vasque, Asolo, etc.). Quality plummets, beople can by more shit, and the world sinks... Ecco now making some of the most hideous things ever to be strapped to hooves... But... Recently bought some Alico Italian mountain boots; these are the best ever! also, I like my Dansko clogs and Birks *adjusts turtleneck, scratches beard, lights pipe*. (2004)
In the US should not be complained about (with the exception of junk mail bulk-rates) since to send a letter from your door to someone else's on the other side of town or the country for 37c [or whatever it is now; I have too many old stamps laying around...] is about the best deal I can imagine. Also, you're absolutely sure that it's not a secular holiday by any stretch if you get mail... (1998)
Update: The US Postal Service's 'service' has gone drastically downhill. Until 2004, I never lost a single parcel, in the last year I've lost several, several have arrived damaged/destroyed, and others have arrived ... opened and re-sealed! (I remember the same from the early 1990s in the xUSSR, but here?? All this I attribute to the move toward privatization of the once proud USPS so zealously being pursued now; cost/benefit analysis will give a number of lost parcels that can be maximized whilst still maximizing profits. This compared to the old maxim of total service to the people (through rain, etc.) Letters still a good deal at 37c, but so many now lost lately that I get nervous every time I send one now in the US! Damn junk mail, still. Don't worry about getting a realistic response if you send comments to the 'comments' form on the usps.com website - by the way, the usps.gov website is so disfavoured that they don't even have a forwarder... .com only! yes, I favo(u)r renationalization of the USPS. (2004)
Best designed items owned: ...but first a little statment on quality...
Well designed items are such a rarity now that it seems unusual to find something that combines function, beauty, and quality, rather than some hunk of 3rd world junk designed to get your money and advertise itself, then fail post-haste so you've gotta buy another... made under the absolute cheapest conditions possible at the highest possible markup to the korporation! It shouldn't be that way - that's wrong in every sense.
I don't want to sound like an ugly amerikan here, but remember when we had good, well-made stuff here in the first world? People in third world countries only had cheap crap, but now look at what we accept as normal here! We had the capacity to do it the other way around - to give people everywhere quality, not adopt a perverted, hyperacumulative squalor ourselves! Quantity and quality are different fucking concepts, people!

Here's a list of some of the things I've noticed that I can still call quality:

Bic lighter (the original one, without all that safety shit attached slowing things down), 1983 Saab 900 turbo 4-door automobile and my 1985 BMW 318, 1984 Maserati Biturbo sports sedan (exterior only; interior is shit), my green plastic Italian-made pasta strainer, Swatch watches, old-style paper milk cartons, circa 1970 Osterizer Cycle-Blend Classic VIII blender (model 541; NOT a 'beehive' shape!), the futon, variously sized Mag-Lite flashlights, Bodum kitchen timer, Olympus XA camera, Nokian Hakkapeliitta studded winter bicycle tires, Victorinox "Waiter" knife (has knife, corkscrew, & screwdriver/can opener/cap lifter combo; better before they added the tweezers and the asinine toothpick), any of several Look bicycle pedals, 1976 US two dollar bill, Ericsson A1018s mobile phone(update: anything by sony-Ericsson is absolute garbage!) old beer bottle cap lifter (shaped like a "Tavern Pale" beer bottle), Polish made super loose linen trousers; brown, Wagner 12" cast iron frying pan, any one of several books, the letter x, cats, Sony ICF-SW20 radio, Ortlieb waterproof messenger bag, Marchon Flexon eyeglass frames, Suguino AT bicycle crankset, Canadian $1 Loonie coin, rounded stones; metabasalt; Lake Superior, cross-country skis, concrete blocks, Optech camera strap and camera ever-ready cover, Kodachrome transparency film, beaver-cut walking sticks; Lake Superior, the moon, chopsticks, Doran film washer, SunTour Superbe Pro racing bicycle pedals. (2003)
Quit complaining about unethical "big corporations" unless you put these thoughts into *action* by refusing to buy the things they make at consumer (our) demand. Without the masses buying, there is little incentive to produce. Even if everyone else doesn't care, at least try not to be part of the problem - rule#1 should be to at least not do evil, even if you don't do good.
If you really 'can't afford' to buy something made under healthy and ethical standards, then rethink your assumptions. If the stuff was even cheaper if made by old lady war prisoners or child zombie slaves would you buy that instead? Apparently so.
If you claim ignorance about why and how your consumer goods are made, and don't want to know about conditions in 3rd world countries that save us money at the department store, start with shoes and go up from there.
Read labels. Ask where things are made at the shop, then look for yourself, because the people seldom really know and will often lie or make some answer up since nobody really cares anyway. But we should. Try this and see! Question the US government's policy of "constructive engagement". What it really means is damn-the-torpedoes cheap imports! Why is China a 'most favored nation'? In my opinion, they're among the least favorite!
Did you know that a large proportion of the Chinese factories making our consumer goods are actually owned and controlled by the Chinese military? That's where they're getting the money needed for modernizing and transforming their military on the scale that we see now (or should be seeing!).
Look into it - it's complex, yes, it requires a lot of time, yes, it conflicts with what you should consider acceptable, moral, ethical, decent - yes. That's just the way it is, but sometimes yopu gotta say enough and do the right thing.
More complexity to throw into Cina-watching: energy resources vs. requirements, geopolitical influence westward, the controling elite in China, relationship of US multinationals with the Chinese government (e.g., macroshit, wal-mart, general motors)...
On the other hand, all other countries seem to get their cheap imports from China too... It's a problem, and we should be thinking about who and where weath travels to, who controls it, and why.* (2000 & 2003)
WINE(in country order, red of course, dark, bone dry, and "gritty"):
Republic of Georgia, Spain, Bulgaria, France, Chile, Greece, Michigan, Ontario. Moldova, Crimea, Italy, Germany [white] and Portugal wine will do in a pinch, but do not mistake wine from the *state* of Georgia USA for "Georgian wine!", or even wine! it's different!
Update:Argentina wine also pretty good these days... Enjoying port wine of late, too!
The best ones are those that grow along the shores of big lakes or that may be eaten. Ledum groenlandicum is a fine example. Also stinging nettle.
Don't go to the store for groceries while hungry. But if you do, see sections [fast food], [beer], [cookies], [pie], [other food items], and [olive oil] on this page. Forget about buying groceries in farbanks, Alaska - your choices are Kroger or Safeway only. How did that happen??   *
The best comes from Unibroue, Chambly, Quebec. Such fine beer, in such fine presentation! and, in Quebec, so cheap! Well, Ukrainian beer is even cheaper (there)! purkmistr, dark beer from Czechia, is great. So is "forbidden fruit" [Verboden Vrucht] by Hoegaarden, of Belgium [owned, apparently, by the ever-expanding Interbrew cartel...]. Otherwise buy what's local. On days when I'm really not wanting to be part of everybody else's freak show I can be found drinking beer from a can instead of a bottle or mug -it's sorta my ritual, and I cannot remember how it started. So if you see me like that just stay away.
Update:Best beer in xUSSR to date: Beaver (from Minsk of all places - I remember in the old days having to look at each bottle to see if they leaked, had strange sediments, etc.), Available only on tap at selected street bars of Minsk (Belarus). Liking Ohara's stout of late (2003), too.
2005: my current all-round favo(u)rite is Hamms in the can - so delicate, so light, so refreshing on a hot day, in the sauna, or on a cold day! And union made! Also can drink plenty without getting tipsy, thanks to the ca. 2% alcohol!
2007-2008: The best beer in the world at roadhouses while on tour is Blatz! Also acceptable: Old Style.
(this was written ca. 1998, when it all seemed a little more true; before the oil money hit and the Conservatives ruined it even more; replace a lot of he 'is's here with 'was until a few years ago') The CBC is the world's best broadcaster. Canadian money is also pretty. Many an early morning or late night have I wished that Tim Horton's was an international chain (though probably I should enjoy the Waffle Ho_se while I am still in the American South). I'm well aweare that TH is owned by wendy's, but still it is a little canadian... Canada has better grocery stores than the USA. coffee is cheaper, dairy products are better, and they have poutine. Canada has the best flag. Canada is easy to geographically regionalize.
Update:they keep changing the money designs these days... And more on currencies: Euros are an unfortunate joke: just where are those buildings that are shown on the notes again??
Italy, France, Japan, USA, and especially, the UK. 25+ years old better than new. Also cool old early 1970's Fuji Supreme racing bikes with Suntour components, or my 1981 Colnago Superissimo with Campy SR. Man!
Too much to say here - FOR REAL THIS TIME- the worst, the best; maybe the greatest for me. Maybe not, but it's too late for me!
Update 2015: I have given up on russia - for now at least. My thought is that countries are only allowed to slip into totalitarianism or fascism once per 100 years, and they've exceeded their quota. I just hope there's some dissidents that will survive and maybe over years or decades (of we last that long) they can become a civilized nation again.
Sweden, Italy, Germany, France, Russia. Old better than new.
I propose we all use the word 'person' when discussing individual cats, dogs, rats, otters, et al., and less often for humans.
Doner-kebabs as found in Germany [mit bier], Chinese buffets (necessary to have the words "China", "happy", or "garden" in the title, along with the requisite 'buffet'), also apples. mcdonalds used to be a viable option when sick in a foreign country and you need large amounts of food with little taste (this I attribute to my recovery from a week of too sick to eat-ness in Minsk, 2003). The average foreigner in the xUSSR, for example, used to be 30 times more likely to eat there than they are in their home country, in the 1990s.


Among other things good, bad, and annoying as fuck, they are among the greatest wasters of energy in the USA. lights stay on in buildings all weekends and summer, while windows are left open in the winter, and vast empty parking lots are lit as if there were a freaking brain surgery going on at 3 am Saturday morning, shining toward the moon.

Also they are continuously ripped off by ready to oblige suppliers with hefty markup, just like the military, except they can't claim secrecy as the reason, can they? 'oh fuck it, it's not my money, after all'... see also textbooks on this same page.

And then the PC thing; they spend shitloads of time, I think, with Photoshop, getting one of everything in all the pictures...

In USA: Golden Eagle saloon; Ester Alaska, barbecue place in Fairbanks, Oasis Bar; Fairbanks (cheese steak), Taco King (sepecialliy the one in) Fairbanks, Jamaican Caribbean food, Achim's K-bob; Athens GA. Golden Eagle Saloon, Ester, AK (OK, it's a saloon, but the make them yourself habmurgers are the best!). Pelmeni Cafe, Juneau, Alaska. Haven Cafe; Skagway Alaska. Bohemian Cafe; Omaha Nebraska. Canada: Talisman, Whitehorse Yukon; Schwartz's Jewish Deli, Montreal Quebec. In Russia: most shaverma kiosks in SPb, also roadside shashlik stands. In Ukraine: Chelantano/Potato House, Na soborne, Hines; Lviv. Kavkaz Kafe (both of them) at the Produktovi Rinok, Yalta. In Ecuador: Chifa, Cuenca. In Lithuania: Prie fontane, Kaunas. UK: Ivor Dewdney's Pasties, Plymouth Devon.
Kafe Uzbekistan; Minsk Belarus. Best Bagel Cafe, SSM Ontario. Others.
Big City Bread, Athens. Szarkozy, Kalamazoo. Others.
50-packs of corn or wheat tortillas, Gardenburgers and Boca-burgers (#$@!! GM soy in the Bocas, curses!), Breyer's ice cream (not any more since it's part of the big soap conglomerate!), spinach in any form, garlic as bought in Russia (fresh green, big, hot), Scandinavian crisp-bread, brie and Manchego cheese (and all others), sourwood honey from Georgia US, jars of interesting jam from here and there (as I wrote this I had in my cupboard rose petal from France, Lingonberry from Sweden and Finland, cranberry; buckthorn from Ukraine, guayaba; pineapple; and mulberry from Ecuador, Cloudberry from Sweden, blueberry from Canada, apricot from Denmark, peach from US Georgia, blackcurrant from Germany... and others. Man, I have to go to the kitchen again...)
Michigan has the best in the USA, at 10c, but it needs to be increased to account for inflation. Maine's is more comprehensive, however. They should be higher everywhere. See 1974 Herter's catalog, inside front cover for concurring ideas.
Are best found in a second-hand bookshop (especially Pittsburgh, Minsk [Belarus], Irkutsk [Russia], Montreal [Quebec]), otherwise a bargain-book store is better for browsing than some god awful mall, strip mall, or mega bookstore with their computer-generated inventories...
Update:Minsk second-hand bookshops now almost all extinct. The Barnes and Noble in Athens, Georgia (and probably all others) is like a vast, depressing wasteland.


This is a delightfully ever-expanding sphere of my expertise. Best so far -McVittie's cookies [ginger nut, abbey crunch, hobnobs, etc.] Say, that'd be a good project for anyone slacky enough to be reading this now - why don't you go make a hobnobs worship site for the web?
Update: Hobnobs now on sale at some Canadian supermarkets (strangely, with packaging for Australia)! Have seen in Whitehorse, Red Deer, and Winnipeg. Stocked up. (2004)
Update: A close competitor to hobnobs, 'country snapjacks' (?) now on sale in Alaska at least at fred meyer stores of the kroger chain. $3.79, I am sure I am in the 5% of heaviest users in the state. (2008)
Also, anything made by the Canadian company "president's choice" is OK. It is amazing fact that, for instance, their vanilla wafers are (1), the only naturally flavo(u)red ones I have seen in mass supermarkets, (2), the only ones without preservatives, (3), better tasting, and -- cheaper! their maple cookies are likewise sublime, and so are all the others. Cookies are also not that bloody hard to make at home to specification!   Cookies (still there after all these years - those smart ive-leaguers! should always be consumed with milk.
Books, papers, and files may lie scattered and abandoned on the shelf, floor, and work-table, but the kitchen and bathroom should be as clean as an operating room. Dust regularly, clean the windows, and mop all floors weekly, occasionally with bleach.
All can be trusted except a bunch of the humans. Cats make good pets because they're compact, dogs because they are so enthusiastic. Best to have one of each. Rats - also good. In general, the more hedonistic the animal, the better. Cats--pleasure-seekers. Rats--pleasure-seekers. Dogs--pleasure-seekers. See what I mean??
To have snakes, lizards, spiders, etc. is silly, because you can't communicate with them.
COLLEGE TEXTBOOKS: (this was written when I was buying these; I am certain that since it's gotten worse and the content dumbed-down and cartoonified, like everything else written...)
Are such a scam that there should be a grand jury or inquisition. Printed on cheap magazine paper, with poor bindings, and new "editions" frequently so students must continually buy new ones rather than used. The latest trick is to put some unstable software in the back or a bunch of internet addresses in the text, thus necessitating new "editions" after the links go outa date! It is a good idea to keep textbooks for future reference, though the planned obsolescence of the publishers precludes this even IF they were made with any standard of binding and durability. Obviously the people making these decisions are book haters. Among the worst offenders is Prentice-Hall. British textbooks are better, in general.
Shortwave and internet radio stations from far-away places, radiophones, mobile phones [GSM is best, and turn the cursed things off when you're supposed to], creative graffitti, personal letters with color; odd paper; and pretty stamps. Pre-made"greeting cards" are not effective communication. I predict a renaissance of CB radios (though my predictions of coming fads are always wrong, like the one I have about walking-sticks).
Update: there's not much on shortwave anymore, except religeous bigots, china, and the insipid radio havana. Like CB, it's now mostlt dead air.
When I do go to a public loo in the US, I'm always wondering why the hell the toilet paper (aka loo roll) is so damned secure - high tension on the roll so you can only get one square (or less) without turning the roll by hand, huge and burly dispensers with locks, complex paper routing so you can't try to get more, timers that force you to wait between ration allotments...
For the love of Pete, people! Is toiled paper so fucking expensive that you've got to protect it at all costs?? Are desperados - or, oh my, tarists! - wandering through the streets of your town looking for any weakness, any vulnerability - to steal the fucking loo roll? Are you that uptight?
Once again I see the higher culture where once I saw a lower; this time in the societies where you carry your own loo roll around wherever you go.
For men at least, should not have any asinine name like 'hair today gone tomorrow' or the like. Should have the revolving swirl thing, but a real one, not some cheap-ass thing from mallsupplyshit.com. Barber should be a 50+ man, and have name like 'Doc', 'Jerry Mahoney', 'steve', 'Jim', etc. [All these names of real barbers I've used] barber shop should be named 'Doc's barbershop', ' Jerry Mahoney's ...', 'midtown', etc. There should be magazines of type 'fishing/hunting', 'mechanical and woodworking doodling for men', 'national geographic', etc., but, by all means, NO 'people' or entertainment news magazines. Mounted fish should at all times adorn the walls, but NOT be covered in 5 years of dust. Barber should know your name and details of your life. Barber should be at all times more calm than the calmest, retired, pleasant customer, except when bitching about his ex-wife.
Here's a whole new page I made with really cool images that show you the Power of the Internet!



The disclaimer: as everybody else reminds you these days about anything they say, write, draw, or imagine: this here treasure-trove of wisdom don't necessarily reflect my views, beliefs, fears, or dreams. Or those of anybody I know or have ever met or even read about. And you can't take anything I say for the words or sense it does or does not contain, and there's no reference to anything real or imaginary, and if you use it or understand it or even misunderstand it or misuse it in absolutely any way and hurt yourself or others or wreck any stuff, then I deny any knowledge about anything, and you can't say I told you so. But of course it's all true. And just be happy I didn't put a bunch of dumb-ass disclaimers you had to click-through, too. </ br>All of this provided as dogma, and you must agree--I implore you.  Also this is mainly aimed at my friends, who strangely seem to know what I've written here better than I can remember, so that's a start, but really you people knew all this already, right? Haven't you been listening?
© to you, feel free to turn into spam and send to the government or church officer of your [dis]liking.
See also anything by George Leonard Herter.

Edit: 20161103. Location: http://rjl.us/other/rant.htm

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