Monday, July 23, 2007

work hours

This is the whiteboard outside of my 10x8 cubicle. The writing appeared one day of my official work hours. I don't know who did it, but it originally said:

Official Work Schedule: 10am - 2pm.

I thought it was cute, and added:

(lunch 11:30 - 1:30).

Few days go by, and this appeared:

Mon - Thur.

Then today, this:

Odd weeks only.

Stop writing on my whiteboard, even if it is true.

The Cashier sign was from a Sherri's years ago... I think we were drunk or something.

The little sign under my name reads:

"Warning: Keep out of reach of children. Consume one drop at a time with extreme caution."

It was from a hot sauce.

M&M Wedding, me officiant

Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Mitch and Mei Greene. Wed on Friday, July 20, 2007, approximately 11:15 AM, at Oregon's International Rose Test Garden.

I, yep, officiated and solemnized the ceremony.

What started as a thumbing of the nose at my old boss's going to seminary school to become a missionary turned out to be the joining of my friends in the lovely garden of roses.

It was a bit of work to come up with the words, and I have to admit that my knees were shaking a bit when we started. But it turned out well. The weather was leaking a bit, but when we started all rain disappeared. It was as it should be. Everything went without a hitch.

What did bother me a bit is, aside from the 20 or so people attending (much more at the reception), there were another 20 or so spectators. Strangers who just wanted to see a wedding at the garden. Couple of them were taking photos. One of them video taped the whole thing.

Who happens upon wedding and film the thing in entirety?

I had wrote a couple of different scripts lasting from 5 minutes, 15 minutes, to about 30 minutes. We went with the middle version. I had a version that spoke of marriage only in fiscal responsibility and legal (pros and detriments) terms, but that was deemed not appropriated by everyone.

It was good. I wish the best for Mitch and Mei.

Mei & Mitch's Wedding


Dearest friends and family of Mei and Mitch, today is a day of celebration and thanksgiving. We are here to witness the commitment that Mei and Mitch have made to each other. As each of you has given something of yourself into their lives, each of you has a role to play in this marriage. Mei and Mitch greatly appreciate your love and support, not only today, but as you go forth from here into your individual lives. Marriage is also a time for each of us to renew our own commitments of love, so it is our hope that you will all find meaning and renewal in this celebration of love.


Mei and Mitch come together from different backgrounds and experiences. In the covenant of marriage, they do not leave those behind, but instead build on them to broaden the circle of love in this world. Their pledge to be a family and their confidence in the future brings them before us today.

Marriage is also a time to enjoy. Remember to do the simple and beautiful things that will make your love a treasure: play together; fight productively; communicate effectively with each other; make time for and enjoy what is important to both of you; treat each other as equals, being respectful and loyal along the way. Live in the lives of each other, feeling the other's joy and troubles as if they were your own. Remember that love is to be nurtured, to be lived out to the fullest-- in the simple activities of shared daily life, in realized hopes and long deferred dreams, in a quality of emotional exchange and spiritual communion toward which your whole life has been leaning.


Mitch, will you take Mei to be your wife? Will you honor and cherish her? Will you trust and respect her? Will you be her best friend, always there to listen and to offer support? Will you be dedicated to nurturing this relationship, to helping it grow, and to sharing the adventure of life? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others keep only to her as long as you both shall live?

Mei, will you take Mitch to be your husband? Will you honor and cherish him? Will you trust and respect him? Will you be his best friend, always there to listen and to offer support? Will you be dedicated to nurturing this relationship, to helping it grow, and to sharing the adventure of life? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others keep only to him as long as you both shall live?



With this ring, I pledge my life to you, my constant faith, my eternal love. It is with this ring that I marry you today and forever.


With this ring, I pledge my life to you, my constant faith, my eternal love. It is with this ring that I marry you today and forever.


Mei and Mitch, you have declared your love and solemn vows to one another in the presence of your family and friends; I now pronounce you husband and wife.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Aass Beer...a dedication of Ass to Mouth

"Man this beer tastes like Ass!"

That is common expression of a beer that has been sitting in my garage for a few years, enduring alternate seasons of heat, humidity, and cat urine. The skunky flavor of said beer often elicit the above exclamation.

Although I never knew what Ass taste like - where did the expression come from? Perhaps next time I should ask the if, indeed, I have created artificial Ass flavor.

Anyway I digress. In Norway, there is a beer named "Aass". Its close enough that between my child-like giggles I had to take pictures of it.

That was nice pair of Ass.

Below is pallet full of the stuff. To which I sighed and say:

"Man, that's a lot of Ass."

Here is an Aass up close and personal.

"It's Hauling Ass Beer!"

Your Ass on Ice.

Alright that's enough juvenile Ass beer fun. I swear, Tim drank so much of the stuff our friend Thor said he's never seen a man do so much Ass to Mouth.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Price of beer in Reykjavik, Iceland

Click to enlarge. Exchange rate is about 60 ISK (Icelandic Kronor) to 1 USD. This makes most beers somewhere north of $10 dollars per pint.

I bought a 12 pack of Miller Lite in Boston, and it was $11.99.

Blue Lagoon of Iceland

Ask anyone about Blue Lagoon and one might immediately conjure up images of a prepubescent Brook Shields frolicking in the summer sun on a clothing optional beach.

Ask me about Blue Lagoon and I will summon you a picture much different.

Sure, the water is blue, as seen in this unretouched photo. The weather is a bit cloudy, but sunny nonetheless. It is...well, quite beautiful.

No Brook Shields, however.

The problem is that the water is frigid. This is the Blue Lagoon of Iceland, outside of the capital Reykjavik. It is supposed to be a mixture of cold seawater and underground thermo pools that gives anyone who choose to bath in it an as yet undetermined medicinal boost.

Well, for that pool, you'll have to walk about another 100 meters and pay $35 US dollars. And it looks like this.

Very impressive, actually. Except that the water is more of an algae green than blue, and parts of the ground underwater is mushy. And the whole place smells like someone who ate two dozen hard boiled eggs and farted in a locked room with you in it two hours later.

The mushy ground is the sulfur sand. It is pure white in color, and people gather them with their hand and feet (water tends to get deep) and vigorously rub on their bodies. Many folks there sports a white face mask of said material. When asked if I will do the same, I said no. The mere idea of rubbing sulfur sand onto my body and face, of which was done previously by hundreds of thousands of others with who knows what ailments, made me dizzy.

Then I heard this woman next to me, as she entered the water.

"Ooooh. This will be so nice for my bunions!"

I left the pool after that.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

whale watching...whale tasting

Whaling is a controversial subject around the world. It at once is a greatest single mass of edible flesh grown on a mammal yet it is also noticed to be majestic, intelligent, and the larger, less cute cousin of tuna safe dolphins. Eating it, in many countries, would be unthinkable.

How lucky I am then to be at a country where whale serves both as a source of wonderment and as a protein alternative.

Picture to the left is whale sashimi , or whale caparccio, or as the menu called it, whale served Japanese style. In any case, it is a euphemism for raw meat. A bit of soy sauce and a dash of wasabi. They tossed in a few shrimps for decoration, and it was also untouched by fire.

The texture is quite similar to tuna sashimi. The meat is very tender. However I was a bit disappointed because there was no perceptible "whale" taste. Even without the soy sauce, the meat seemed cold and bland in my mouth. Perhaps next time there is a beached whale on the coast, I will go and lick it, just for confirmation.

The other way to cook whale is by application of heat and sauce. In this case, pictured to the right, whale steak with pepper sauce.

The meat is fork tender, and is deeply red. It reminds me more of ostrich meat than beef. It came with a side salad and boiled potatoes, a staple of Icelandic cuisine.

The sauce overpowers the already bland whale flesh. But it was good nonetheless. Probably not something that I would seek out again, and at $100US, wouldn't recommend it to family or friends.

It is, however, not legal in the United States and various other countries, and makes me feel like a rebel. Will my stool also be illegal when I get back? Good thing I have almost a week in Norway to make sure my system is clean.

Oh and I ran across this guy dressed in Eurotrash chic sponsoring Pepsi Max and burgers. What is Pepsi Max? As I understand it, "diet" is too feminine in these parts of the world, so calling it "Max" makes it more acceptable by both genders.

The guy creeps me out.

Labels: ,

Monday, July 02, 2007

Cool American Doritos under the Midnight Sun

Midnight. It's 12 AM. The sun is shining. Shining so much that a rainbow forms onto the base of Liefur Ericsson cathedral.

I look for a shovel, a hoe, anything to dig up the Leprechaun's Lucky Charms.

Near the cathedral is one of those smart toilets that after each use, disinfects and cleans itself. I promised Tim I would have befouled it so much that it would put the automated system at its limits, but I was thwarted by the simply fact that neither of us possessed the necessary 10 Icelandic Kronurs for it to open its inviting doors. I peed into the coin receptacle in retaliation.

That last part didn't really happen the way I wrote it. I put a piece of dog doo into the coin return slot instead.

The 24 hours of sun does a number to ones body. We didn't know when to eat, when to drink, and when to sleep. The hours just merge into one long day. Whereas I usually like to being my alcohol consumption near 9PM, we often find ourselves hoisting the first beer long after 11.

One particular evening Tim got might peckish. So off we go to the nearest 10/11 (yes, like the 7/11 state-side, Iceland's is 3 more) to score some water and chips. And there we found Cool Americans. That's right, Cooool Americans. Being Cool Americans ourselves, we bought a bag and hungrily tore into it. To our sloppy disappointment, the Icelandic representation of Cool Americans is a less salty, and thoroughly unflavorful ranch.

Next up... Whale meat and sulfuric tap water.


How many people do I know that ventures to Iceland or Norway on their own free time? None so far. Not counting that Oslo, Norway is the most expensive city to visit, and that either country out performs the US economy, making my hard earned cash more resemble Mexican Pesos than the almighty greenback.

So when the desperate plea for a travel companion came from the East Coast, by ways of a Tim Balconi, I piqued and inquired as to the nature of the trip. Apparently there is something he needed doing in Oslo, and flying Iceland Air, one can choose to layover at Reykjavik for up to 72 hours with no discernable penalties. E-mails were sent, and one answered the call. That’s where my un-fortune began.

fig 1. ice floes somewhere between Greenland and Iceland. The guy who sat next to me was so large, my tray table will not level because his tummy flowed into my side.

It’s 3AM local time in Reykjavik on Saturday morning. Instead of finishing last call at an Icelandic pub or laid out in a drunk stupor, I’m parked, ass down, on a stainless steel bench with some random Spaniard using my leg as a pillow, logging this.

“See Iceland, land of fire and ice, 24 hours of sun, hydrothermal swimming pools!” “Then onto Oslo and kayak with ice flows in the fjords!” “Wouldn’t it be great?!”

Turns out, logistics of simply travel is harder than it seems. There is a reason why UPS, FedEX, EGL and others make huge profit shuttling one thing or another from one place or another. Booking travel from Boston to Reykjavik to Oslo and back should be no problem, just follow Tim’s itinerary. Of course he flies out at 9:30PM, and the only flight I can get leaves at 2:30. To get on the later flight results in a cost difference of 2000 of the aforementioned US dollars – more than I make in the same amount of time.

So here I sit, a little over 3 hours into the wait. A Spanish family is here waiting also. I took some pictures of the empty Iceland Air ticket counter, wheel about for another shot of the sunlit outside, and the uncle of the bunch puts a duffle bag next to my leg. Few minutes later, the duffle crumbles. Deep asleep, this gentleman scoots up a bit, and I’m watching a slowly developing grease spot on my left thigh, where his balding head is rubbing against.

Getting to Boston was no small feat either. Every airline wanted somewhere over $800 for the late booking. United outright blacked out the entire summer month, reducing my mileage as meaningless numbers. Alaska gave me a deal – for 40,000 miles, I can travel from PDX to SEA, then to BOS with a total of 14 hours of travel time. 17 on the way back. And that’s leaving two days before I need to. Somehow I got to use my Alaska miles with American Airlines, but at 50,000, with first class seating. Not bad. Except that I land in Logan at 1AM and no baggage in sight.

fig2. Somehow I don't think Tim's power outlet is up to code.

It was almost 2 AM when the cabby dropped me off at Timmy’s place. 3 people were asleep inside, and I was wide awake. I settle down, sneak my way into the kitchen via a very creaky (and needing of some work) wooden flooring, and find myself a six pack of beer. A bottle of Anejo Tequila sits empty on the table. Looks like I missed out. Around 4:30 I get to bed…only to be raucously woken up by Tim…at quarter to 7.

3 more hours to go. I planned for a side trip to the Iceland Blue Lagoon for some hot spring spa, before we go to our hotel. I hope this works out.