06/20/07 01:18 - 70ºF - ID#39740
Reliving Communism One Night At A Time
Do you ever feel the need to relive the heady, halcyon days of the German Democratic Republic and the Stasi? Have you ever wanted to sleep in a drab, suffocating, depressing and somewhat prisonlike room representative of typical late 80's East German apartments with portraits of guys such as this over your bed?
Erich Honecker, Grand Poobah of German Communists
Well, my friends, your dream can be a reality. The next time you stop in Berlin, stay at the Ostel hotel - - and you and your comrades will not be disappointed. East Germany had the biggest economy of the Warsaw Pact nations, which is sort of like saying that they were the biggest turd in a toilet full of shit. The typical accomodations were spartan (very polite way of putting it but accurate) at the time and have been lovingly recreated for your enjoyment. Check this out - there is something disturbing yet inherently awesome with this concept. There are more pictures at the Ostel website as well, if you're curiosity simply can't be contained.
For about $80 you can stay in the Stasi suite, which is complete with period bugging devices. I wonder if they artificially filter television broadcasts to eliminate "immoral and subversive" content to heighten the realism.
The outside of the hotel. You won't see Soviet-era block housing architecture this legit anywhere east of the Balkans - except for Berlin! My lord this picture is depressing.
For a little more than $50 a night you get something more like this.
Here is an example of a double bed (sort of, two small beds combined) in a brightly patterned room with a portrait of a former East German Prime Minister.
Examples of authentic commie goodies that the hotel supplies, just in case you miss that Soviet-imported fun when you were a kid.
Another room that the hotel supplies is known as the "Pioneer Camp" - it simply has to be seen to be believed and I'd recommend going to the website to see it, and more pictures of all of the rooms for that matter. Bunk beds, baby, in a communal style setting with bananas in the ashtray, similarly drab appointments and an artificial feeling that life will never get better. Only 9 euros per person - of course, this isn't really East Germany anymore so fully expect your typical European nickeling and diming with respect to linens, room cleaning and food charges. They love "the struggle" but not that much - no discounts or mercy for the proletariat.
06/19/07 01:49 - 78ºF - ID#39733
Jumping For Joy
I know that this seems weird but I'm happy!
EDIT: I couldn't leave this one out. Have you ever wanted to disappear for a while? Why not participate in a simulated trip to Mars! Check out this article - its worth it.
06/13/07 01:21 - 80ºF - ID#39638
Bush V2.0 and Political Analysis
No joking. He's half-Mexican, very handsome, connected (the son of Jeb, who most people consider to be the more capable Bush brother, which is a shame) and is the grandson of a migrant worker. This is the sort of candidate the Democrats would die to have in 10 years. At the moment George P. Bush is training as an intelligence officer in the Naval Reserve and has stated that he wants to wait 10 years before entering politics. When he does things will get interesting.
Presidential Politics - A Highly Scientific Statistical Analysis
For those of you who haven't been watching (and lets be honest, who is really watching these debates anyway) the two main political parties have been conducting debates over the past couple months. For most people this is extremely early to be thinking about debates... except for Democrats, for whom time until 1/20/09 moves as slow as molasses in a squeeze bottle.
The main candidates, or more accurately, the only ones that are going to even matter a year from now, are as follows. On the Democratic side you have Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. On the GOP side you have Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and very soon, Fred Thompson. In the following paragraphs I'm going to share with you my pre-pre-pre-pre election analysis on the situation and how I think things are going to go for the various candidates. Keep in mind - Howard Dean was actually feasible for a while in '04 so anything could happen.
Generally speaking, Barack Obama has the support of what I call the "Volvo and Chardonnay" liberal elites, while in a fit of irony Hillary Clinton has the support of blacks and the Hollywood crowd... although Barack is whittling away at that. John Edwards is stuck, in all honesty, with taking votes away from the other two as a way of gaining ground and is still talking about his "two Americas" platform. Although its still a year and a half out, I don't see anyone knocking down the Clinton political machine. Take a guess where my vote won't be going!
On the GOP side, its a little more interesting because the hero to the conservative base hasn't even declared his candidacy yet. There are some rules within the GOP if you want to run for President - you must have the support of the conservatives and you must be against abortion. Without both you cannot get the nomination despite how strong you are on other issues. The conservatives have been waiting for somebody to get behind because frankly, Giuliani is too liberal on social issues and they are pissed at McCain for what they perceive as bad decision making and cooperating with "the enemy." This is why Fred Thompson is statistically tied with Giuliani despite not having declared yet. Fred Thompson is considered to be more reliably conservative, is well known because of his acting on Law and Order, has previous experience in the Senate, has consulted in the past and is a member of the influential Council on Foreign Relations. Another interesting twist - he used to be a lobbyist. In the end I believe that its a two-horse race between Thompson and Giuliani, and things aren't as clear cut on the GOP side so I wouldn't even begin to try to make a stab at who will win the nomination. I think it will depend heavily on whether or not Giuliani can placate enough conservatives and secure enough independant centrist types to make up the gap.
The Rating System
Putting it terribly simply, voters categorize candidates based on how close they align themselves with the candidates philospohy, how attractive a candidate is and where they stand on hot button issues. So, I went ahead and scaled things down a bit. After all, its still early.
The Infamous Gay-dar
Toleration of sexual preference is a litmus test. For the Dems, if you ain't lib then you are glib. For the GOP, stance on abortion really is the standard. Nevertheless, here is my analysis.
As you can see the Democrats are fabulous. John Edwards, in green, gets a little limp towards the end because he supports "civil unions" and not "marriage." What about the GOP?
Fred Thompson, in blue, is holding it down for the "reich" wing sexually, if you ask liberals. Both Giuliani and McCain are moderate and generally don't have a problem with gay people, but eventually diverge because Giuliani is considered to be somewhat fabulous.
The Sexy Factor
We are superficial - its part of the American mystique. How do the two parties stack up?
Hillary in silk make voters vomit, although considering how prolific Slick Willy is and was, I find it hard to believe that he would have married someone who didn't at least have a nice ass when she was younger. Still though, nothing can save Hillary from time, gravity and unfavorable stage lighting. As for Barack Obama and John Edwards - these are some attractive gentleman. Consider the perfect hair of John Edwards and tell me I'm wrong.
Fred Thompson, in blue, is in desperate need of political-strength Maxoderm. Giuliani and McCain are equally attractive, meaning that for politicians they look about what you would expect GOP front runners to look like. Both are also equally subject to caricature.
The Hot Button (El Botón Caliente)
Immigration is today's main hot button issue outside of the Iraq war. Immigration will be a focus point for the '08 election. Where do the candidates stand?
In Hillary Clinton's case even her ACCENT will change depending on who she is talking to, let alone her message. For those of you who don't get my clever reference, Hillary has been known to sound like a black Baptist when she is in Harlem, and a Dixie Chick when she is in the south. As for John Edwards and Barack Obama, they are fairly consistant in their belief that family ties (a common method for illegals is known as "anchor babies") should remain a consideration for illegal immigrants who wish to pursue a route to legality. No Democratic candidate is so far left wing on immigration as to state things like "there are no illegal immigrants, only immigrants" or "California used to be Mexico, thereby for some bizarre reason native Mexicans should be able to roam freely."
Fred Thompson supports your classic conservative viewpoint on immigration... at least that is what he is expected to support anyway! As for Giuliani (in green) he is a compassionate man and wants to help the illegals who are currently here but supports sharp, even draconian, measures to ensure that the flow of illegals stops. As for McCain - well, lets just say that in GOP circles nothing McCain does is right at the moment.
06/11/07 09:44 - 60ºF - ID#39603
For those of you who are completely unfamiliar with the world of golf, or sports in general for that matter, the U.S. Open is one of the world's greatest sporting events - it is the most difficult of all golf championships to win and as far as I'm concerned the most prestigious (although I wouldn't argue too much if someone suggested the British Open is more prestigious). Oakmont Country Club is one of the worlds most prestigious, famous and exclusive clubs, which to be honest is a typical set of traits that clubs have that get chosen for championships like these. Where is it located? Pittsburgh! So, off to Pittsburgh it is, with my dad and my brother.
Golf is one of the last bastions of inexplicable elitism left in America - besides Ivy League schools, of course - but one of the good things left over from this sort of elitism is the preservation of tradition. Such as, the tradition of money-grubbing social climbers trolling around the course hoping for a glimpse from a club member, or even better yet, one of the golfers themselves. I found this to be one of the more pathetic things I saw when we went to the PGA at Oak Hill in 2003, and I guarantee we'll be seeing it Sunday. Another great tradition at large scale major championships like this is the cigar hut. Golf and cigars are the 21st century PB&J, and this is a tradition I can get behind. Smokers legally are second class citizens, but not on a golf course!
Another somewhat unappreciated aspect of golf, from the perspective of people who aren't really into it, is that the sort of clubs that the USGA and PGA choose for their "major" championships boast course designs that are considered works of art in their own right.
Tournaments generally are fun and interesting to attend (and sort of expensive - our tickets cost $115 per) but going to see a "major" is something totally different. To be perfectly honest I'm looking forward to getting the fuck out of Buffalo for a little while. It looks like we are going to even take in a little MLB at PNC Park as well. Do the Pirates suck? GAWD yeah. Do they have one of the newest, most beautiful and intimate baseball stadiums on earth? Yep.
Its worth the bad baseball to see the Pittsburgh skyline behind the outfield. Plus, the tickets are so cheap that its almost a crime not to at least check it out.
06/10/07 04:38 - 73ºF - ID#39598
06/07/07 01:21 - 73ºF - ID#39567
Elmwood Village - no Wiki page?
While I was eating my lunch in my office I was checking out Buffalo's entry in Wikipedia. There is a breakdown of the different neighborhoods in Buffalo - 32 in total. They also have a nice map of the breakdowns in the neighborhoods, which is nice because having lived here for over 10 years now I'm still not exactly sure what neighborhoods are where. Check it out - the map is a little too large to post here so link from here and zoom in. The strip is barely visible between what the map denotes as "west side" and "delaware district."
Personally, I've always felt that the greater "Elmwood Village" area borders are Forest to the north, Allen to the south, Richmond to the west and Delaware to the east... but thats just me, and that outline also would gobble up most of what is considered Allentown. Also, for voting purposes I believe they file me into Delaware District, which according to this map I am not a resident of.
Anyway, what spurred this post was that some neighborhoods have Wiki pages and others don't... including ours. Why don't we have a Wikipedia page yet? It may be only a matter of time, but I'd prefer to have residents create the page rather than people like those from Buffalo Rising.
Anyway, since we have some new and future residents plugging into this neighborhood site, you might find Buffalo's Wiki entry interesting, if you haven't checked it out already. There were some interesting factoids about our city in there that I had never known, such as Buffalo's ranking in Reader's Diagest as the nation's third environmentally cleanest city (I am skeptical, but whatever).
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