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July 2004

Written By: Gary on July 31, 2004 No Comment

Here are some more PHOTOS, mostly of the major landmarks along the Thames. The tower bridge, the Eye of London (super slow ferris wheel), Big Ben/Westminster Abbey, me Blading. London Bridge (the flat one), bungee trampolining and a few other sites around town.

If you can’t read these check out the boring version with a limited number of photos (if you have to go this route please let me know what the error message you get is).

Written By: Gary on July 30, 2004 No Comment

A lot of people asked me about ATM fees when I used my money card in London. The only fee I had for using the card was $-1.00. My bank doesn’t charge me any fees (I think) so it it was just the fee from the other end (although if that’s true I don’t know why only a dollar and not a pound). My experience with ATMs anywhere world wide (England, Costa Rica and Prague) has always been that the ATM has been perfect for a good exchange rate.

Charge cards are good everywhere and as far as I can tell have no extra fees and the banks calculate the exchange rate. Be sure to use one at Garfunkel’s because they use a cool remote gizmo to scan it at your table and print your receipt right there.

Be sure to get a good phone card (AT&T) from Sam’s club or somewhere so you can save $$$ on your calls back home. Be sure to look up on-line what the International numbers are to dial first to call back home. Read the instructions on the card, you can generally hit *** after making one call so you don’t need to dial all the digits again. If you have a 200 minute card you get about 30-60 minutes when calling back to the US (they calculate and tell you how much you have left at the start of each call) and you can add minutes with your charge card at the same really good rate (which is generally > 4 cents at home and 25-35 cents to call home). Use it from a pay phone NOT your room, they’ll really nail you from the hotels overseas. (Use change to call locally when you are overseas, otherwise it seems like you’re actually calling from the US to overseas when you use the card.)

Written By: Gary on July 30, 2004 One Comment

That’s how much it costs, not how much it weighs. A pound is a 100 pence. A pound is also a quid. A pound is about a $1.80 these days (not so good for us). A pound is a coin and all the other coins are hard to read the value. They also make a cool looking 2 pound coin (value not weight) that looks silver with a copper border (1/8th of an inch?).

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Written By: Gary on July 29, 2004 No Comment

So did I tell you they don’t like anything cold here? All the fizzies (sodas) and such are all generally kept at a temperature of just barely cool. So we’re always asking for ice and trying to dig in the back of the cooler. I bought a water yesterday just because it was in an ice bucket and it was so refreshing.

I just bought an ice cold Sprite which is why I am thinking of this and it is delicious! I really really wanted a coke but they were actually warm (yuck!).

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Written By: Gary on July 28, 2004 No Comment

The hired help here is pretty useless many times. The biggest problem is they don’t know how to say "I don’t know" and just make up an answer so if it’s an important question be sure to get (at least) two confirming answers. For example:

1) When you see a train arriving (on the wrong track) and you ask the guy at the ticket counter where it’s going and he tells you there is no train. Don’t argue with him for more than 88 seconds that there really is a train, just go down and check for yourself. That 2 seconds might be what you need so you don’t have to wait another 30 minutes for the next train (trust me).

2) When you ask the waitress what the "Scampi and Chips" is and she says it’s chips with scampi don’t bother asking any more. But if you feel the need and all she clarifies with is that chips are (french) fries (which anyone who’s been in London more than 15 minutes knows, i.e. fish and chips) with scampi. So you feel the need to clarify more and she tells you scampi is beef don’t think it’s a chips=fries thing, think it’s a she’s clueless thing. (I saw this one happen)

FYI – prawns=shrimp and tiger prawns=jumbo shrimp. When you order water (unless you want bottled) order tap water, it’s yummy and free. They don’t keep anything cold so be sure to get ice.

Also the less busy a store/restaurant is and the more staff they have, the lower the quality of service. :)

I’m not saying we didn’t have fun, I’m just saying it wasn’t had to find bad service.

Raya was awsome! (Pronounced Ria) She worked at the same place as #2. She answered all of our questions we asked about food, the restaurant, the register surveillance system (which she never noticed before), acting school and told us that M is for music.

Written By: Gary on July 27, 2004 No Comment

Picture 3"We Will Rock You" is musical by Queen and Ben Elton (one of the guys who did "Tonight’s the Night") with the musical of Queen. We had front row seats, a few times I thought they might fall off the stage on us.

It was set in the future when rock and roll doesn’t exist any more (due to the evil corporations). It was kind of a Mad Mad future for the rebels who wanted rock back but the evil GlobalSoft wanted to keep their monopoly on their computer generated "music". It was good, but not as good as the other one.

Written By: Gary on July 27, 2004 No Comment

So everyone thinks they know what the tube layout looks like. london maplondonalt-mapEveryone has seen the map with all the colored lines to help them get around. Remember that’s just a representation to help you get around (did you ever see the West Wing episode with the ‘map makers for an equal society’), it’s all in how you represent it. I’ll attach a tube map and and more visual representation next to it. They are large maps but they are interesting to see the difference.

Written By: Gary on July 26, 2004 No Comment

Here’s some more PHOTOS (don’t forget I posted some last Friday too). The theater, the pub that has good fish & chips (the first time they had the best waitress and the second the worst), Picadilly Circus (a central area) and some odd subway “art”. I’m sure there’s some other stuff but I don’t recall it all this second…

You can use the right and left arrows (on the keyboard?) or click on the thumbnails to navigate through the photos. I’m not sure how slow this will be over dial-up, I thinks it will cache the photos so if you let it sit for a few minutes it should pre-load the photos and make it run a lot faster.

FYI – The Waffle Toffee Crunch Sundae count is four!

Written By: Gary on July 26, 2004 No Comment

So we saw the musical "Tonight’s the Night" at the Victoria Palace Theater. A shy man (who wants to impress a girl) makes a pact with the devil to trade his soul with Rod Stewart’s. tonightsthenightIt was really good, some of the songs were solos, duets (ala Grease) or a whole group. It was a story with songs (or song bits) in between. And they gave us all sailor hats for the grand finale of “Sailing”. In the photos are some of the people who sat next to us with their hats on (I e-mailed them the photos).

The best part were the sets — they were amazing how they moved them in and out and had multiple purposes or morphed in into other sets. They were really excellent.

Check out the web site for more info…

Written By: Gary on July 25, 2004 No Comment

Went back to Garfunkle’s for another Waffle Toffee Crunch Sundae — london04-707warm Belgian waffle topped with vanilla ice cream, maple syrup and laced with toffee crunch pieces. It was our third visit so far. They’re great!

While we were at Garfunkle’s we met a group of Girl Scouts from all over the US, there were ten from as many different states, most hadn’t met before a few days ago. None from Michigan… (Update, a friend just told me he knew a Michigan girl scout heading over for the same thing, but not the group we say). They were heading up to some Jamboree in Scotland. They were pretty entertaining explaining the whole thing and telling us about their day and getting the deluxe visit they got at the at the changing of the guard.

Written By: Gary on July 25, 2004 No Comment

london04-723We went to the Marble Arch today (see photo). Found a whole new section of town to explore. Wandered around there for a while, turns out later it was the huge shopping district, found a few little things but nothing super.

Found a pub for dinner, Lasagna doesn’t mean exactly the same thing just because it’s the same name… It was fine, just different.

Written By: Gary on July 24, 2004 No Comment

london04-692bDid you see the odd pictures from yesterday of people in the air? Well they were on bungee cords and jumping on a trampoline (on top of the aquarium). Here’s a movie of the action. It was pretty hysterical to watch, especially with the people screaming or the ambitious ones doing flips and such. I may have to try this before we leave…

Written By: Gary on July 23, 2004 No Comment

Okay so I’ve finally got some London PHOTOS up but I haven’t had the chance to label them (maybe later?). You can use the right and left arrows (on the keyboard?) or click on the thumbnails to navigate through the photos. I’m not sure how slow this will be over dial-up, I thinks it will cache the photos so if you let it sit for a few minutes it should pre-load the photos and make it run a lot faster.

If you can’t read these check out the other version with a limited number of photos (if you have to go this route please let me know what the error message you get is).

Written By: Gary on July 23, 2004 No Comment

We walked so far!!! londonfriwalkWe started a little off the west of this map and off the right hand side. We saw the bridges and museums and people and it’s just been a good long day. We didn’t walk in straight lines so it’s a lot longer than you can see. My feet/legs are really going to ache starting tomorrow.

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Written By: Gary on July 23, 2004 No Comment

I finally got some photos posted from the concert last week. Was playing with the photo viewer so I could use it for my vacation photos.

Later: This flash player never worked perfect. Still doesn’t on some computers. Never used it much after this trip.

Written By: Gary on July 22, 2004 No Comment

small-imagesSo the other week I got one of the London papers, wanted to see what was going on… Oleana (a David Mamet play) was playing and was one of the things I circled. Picked up a local theater magazine when I got here flipped it right open to the ad for Oleana and it turns out she’s played by Julia Stiles, I’m sold. At the same time I notice she’s on the cover of this week’s Time Out (the Metro Times). So I proceed to get more info to get tickets and it turns out it stopped playing last week! I’m sure I’ll find something else, I was just pretty excited for a bit…

Written By: Gary on July 22, 2004 No Comment

london04-642london04-643Hotel is nice, room is tiny. WiFi in lobby!!! Checked out out the neighborhood, got some food, got a waffle toffee crunch ice cream thing for dessert (much more on that later!). Here is a couple of photos from the hotel window (click to enlarge).

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Written By: Gary on July 22, 2004 No Comment

england04-21_22-59-59Four seats in a row, a lone ranger type mask to block out the light and an Ambien (thanks to my sleeping problems) made this seven hour flight feel more like just a few hours. If it hadn’t been for breakfast I might still be sleeping.

Less than an hour to land!! Plus we just reset the clocks so it magically just became five hours later. Customs will take a little while, but it’s always easier going in than it is coming out. It’s looking nice and sunny out, I’m guessing it’s going to be a nice day!

Written By: Gary on July 21, 2004 No Comment

We’re in the air! There is a lot of room on the plane so that’s really nice. Huge plane but needs updating: TV projector is old (3 tube RGB) and it appears to be the only way to watch the movie. No phones, no little indents in the trays to hold my drink steady, plus they don’t have those little air vents above the seats, I don’t think I’ve ever not seen those on a flight…

It’s a direct flight so that’s really nice. I think this row of four seats I’ve acquired is going to be great for a snappy nappy later on. We get there at 10 am England (5 am our time). The new terminal is really nice although you shouldn’t get tricked by the “food court” on the map it’s far away but you can ride the cool monorail to get from one end of the terminal to the other.

I already know I forgot a few items, I think it was the first few I set to the side, nothing crucial (I’ve got all my gizmos and allergy medicine). I’ve got books for bookcrossing.com (after we read them) and Charms Blow Pops!

It’s kinda like day care here. You come in by rows, they wait ’til you’re all relaxed and then give you instructions, after a little while they bring you a snack and then it’ll be nap time.

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Written By: Gary on July 21, 2004 One Comment

Anyone from London (England) read this blog? I’m in town for the next week, I’ve got my rollerblades so I’m all over and I’d love to say hi if you get this! Leave a note or leave a comment if you do…

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Written By: Gary on July 21, 2004 No Comment

I’m old enough to remember when records and 8-tracks were the choice you had in purchasing music for home (or auto) consumption. Not only that, but record players played LP’s and 45’s – and some even played 78’s, although I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen one of those outside of an antique shop. Cassette tapes were just beginning to come into their own when I started acquiring much of a music collection. I explained this all to my 11-year-old recently and she seemed astonished that music ever came on anything other than CDs and the computer. Damn, that made me feel old.

What was the first piece of music you bought with your very own money, and what format was it in?

Midweek Music Meme

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Written By: Gary on July 20, 2004 No Comment

I was dead center and so close the only seat that might have better was the one behind me.

Both in Rochester, Michigan at Meadowbrook!

SC came out first she was excellent. I have many albums of hers but I haven’t seen her. Even the songs I didn’t know were wonderful. She brought out her six year old daughter, Callie, at the end who scampered off as soon as Mom set her down.

CJ are great too! I’ve seen them but not so close. Margo dances all around and I never realized she was so beautiful.. Oh yeah, the other five band members are great too. :)

Well, back to the concert… (I’ll try and post pictures in the next day)

Written By: Gary on July 18, 2004 No Comment

This show is hysterical! Steve, Jane, Susan, Sally, Patrick and Jeffery have some interesting interactions and friendships/relationships. coupling It’s from the BBC and they tried to make a US version but it flopped, which is funny since some of the shows seemed identical except for the accents (although that is one of the great parts).

Some people think it’s a copy of Friends but that’s never crossed my mind. It’s more of a Sex and the City with both sides of the conversation. Although when Jeff talks to women it’s reminiscent of the pain of watching Ross talk to women. I think they’ve written him out for the most recent season which hasn’t hit the syndicated airwaves here yet. Too bad, he’s one of my favorite characters.

Jeff is this goofy guy who says goofy things.

Do you know what would be the best way to wipe out all of human kind if you were a space alien with a special kind of mind ray…? Make all women telepathic. Because if they suddenly found out about the kind of stuff that goes on in our heads they would kill us all on the spot.

FYI – Jeff does have a slightly stranger mind than most of us (but that doesn’t mean what he said isn’t true).

More quotes are on-line at the IMDB and the BBC site and the BBC America site.

I guess the best part of the Jeff-isms is that he always thinks what he thinks is normal.

Jeff: We were just spending a quiet evening in front of the television. In the course of events I swallowed some of her jewelry.
Steve: You what?
Jeff: There was a swallowage incident. I swallowed an item.
Steve: Right?
Jeff: Now normally when I swallow some of Julia’s jewelry
Steve: No no, Jeff please. Normally… has never been used in the sentence before
Jeff: Well, you know what it’s like when you’ve got your own actual real life girlfriend. It’s like you got a woman with a nudity switch. Sometimes when she’s laying there and she’s just so so totally naked, I can’t control myself. I just sort of hoover.
Steve: Ok.
Jeff: Obviously now and then in the course of any nudity hoovering you’re gonna ingest an item. Now normally, I remain calm, let nature take it’s course, and in due time slip the relevant item back into her jewelry box.
Steve: I see.

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Written By: Gary on July 18, 2004 No Comment

I found this site ages ago. I’ve looked for it a half-dozen times since then because I wanted to mention it, but never could find my bookmark for it. I just stumbled upon it while looking for something else! Be sure to wait for the whole “map” to load or it doesn’t do anything and be sure to try the zoom function!

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Written By: Gary on July 18, 2004 One Comment

I thought this background was going to look very cool. I modified a tube map to be a repeating tile and chose colors to match. I was going to change the dotted borders to look a little more like tube lines but I’m not sure how long I’m even going to keep this. I was disappointed on how all the colors came out…

Guess where I’m off to next week?!?

Written By: Gary on July 17, 2004 No Comment

Quote of the Day (from my today info on the lower right of my page).

A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.
Grace Murray Hopper

I never knew she said that. She’s this wonderfully crazy Admiral in the Navy, had a lot to do with computing. She passed away in 1992 and I know I saw her on Letterman a time or two. She was great with analogies (which I love) when talking about technology. I remember seeing her on some show talking about the speed of computers and explaining it quite well with spaghetti and pepper.

The other thing that she’s attributed with (which I’m more certain she actually said) is:

The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from.

She’s got her own entry in TV Tomb and I think there is a big computing conference with her name in the title.

Written By: Gary on July 17, 2004 2 Comments

If you knew about a sexy flash mob in your area, and all people joining had to get undressed in the middle of the city, would you join in for the fun of it? Does it matter to you to show naked body in public or even private? Or do you enjoy showing yourself around, and do you feel proud about it or just natural? If you are afraid of showing your body, why is it so and when did it begin to feel uncomfortable?

I’m not sure if I’d join in and the only reasons are: 1) it’d be a silly reason to get arrested and 2) I’d have to check and see if there is a morals clause in my work contract :)

Otherwise, it wouldn’t matter to me, public or private I’ve really no inhibitions about it. It’s just natural, it’s never bothered me. I feel dumber at the doctor in the lame little robes they have there than if I was just standing there.

From S-xy Saturday

Sorry about the minor editing above, but I’m just getting too many hits on this site due to this entry and it’s not really representative of the site’s normal content.

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Written By: Gary on July 8, 2004 No Comment
1. On average, how many hours of sleep do you get a night? Is it enough, or do you need more?
7 if I’m lucky. I usally catch up 1 or 2 nights a week (with 10-12 hours).
2. Do you normally sleep pretty well at night, or are you a toss & turner, insomniac, etc?
I have a hard time getting to sleep, can lay for hours sometimes.
3. Do you sleep alone, or with someone? If you sleep alone normally, how do you fair when you sleep next to someone, or vice versa if it’s the opposite?
It depends. Sometimes I sleep better and sometimes not… “Excercise” before bed helps sometimes.
Bonus Question for Comments: What’s your ideal sleep schedule?
About 2am to 10am. That’s what it seems like my body really seems to like….

From 3x Thursday

Written By: Gary on July 7, 2004 No Comment

Just finished reading the new book by Dean Koontz. Starts off as a creepy horror story in a really big storm but in the end it’s definitely not that. The story moves you along (as long as you can ignore the icky parts), has a strong female character (which isn’t always the cast) and if you like T.S. Elliot you might even like it more (since there are a few quotes by him). The cover is very misleading I can’t think of what the artwork reminds me of, but it’s not “right” for the story, IMHO.

Not very detailed of a review but I don’t want to give anything away, but if you’re a fan (or you like Sixth Sense type stories) you’ll enjoy it.

Written By: Gary on July 7, 2004 One Comment

1. ways you cool off from the summer heat: Air Conditioning and Ice Cream.
2. summer activities: Rollerblading and Bicycling.
3. cold beverages: Coca-Cola and A & W Root Beer.
4. summer memories: Hanging out at the beach and hanging out with the guys (building floats keeps popping into my mind but that’s more of a fall thing.).
5. vacation spots: Costa Rica and England (and Miami Beach)

From Tuesday Twosome

Written By: Gary on July 6, 2004 No Comment

1. Looking back on the past week, what was your favorite moment? I had a really nice day Friday, I took the day off because the weekend was supposed to be yucky (and it ended up being nice most of the time). Blading, happy hour, errands (crossed a lot off my list) Fireworks at The Henry Ford with Kelly, Liz and Thomas.
2. Tell us about funny moment that had you and others laughing ’til it hurt. My buddy Mark was moving and we we lifting some stuff of the edge of the patio (it was about 6 feet off the ground and very long, the door from the living room and bedroom open to it). Heather and I were pushing the mattress up and no one was there so I yelled for help. Mark comes running out, into the closed glass door (and I swear the glass bowed out a few inches) knocked himself silly and instead of opening the door and coming out, he ran around inside and came out the other door. Every time I saw him for the next few days (weeks) I just burst out laughing.
3. What is one of your favorite childhood memories?
4. Tell us about a time when you were traveling when things just didn’t work out as planned. Costa Rica – driving through the mountains to get to Mount Arenal (the world’s most active volcano). Driving around trying to find a hotel or food while avoiding the HUGE wacos (pot holes) by the time we found the place we had blown a tire and the hotel was all but closed. We convinced the guy at the desk who didn’t speak any english to get us some food because we we starving so bad (he didn’t even charge us). He chopped up mangos and fruit and all sorts of stuff for us what a crazy night.
5. Have you ever been in the middle major storm (blizzard/tornado/hurricane/earthquake)? If yes, tell us about it. Yes. Last minute I flew down to visit Christine (West Virgina) over New Year’s (about 5 years ago), I had flight issues (not weather related) just getting there and the day I went to leave there was a huge blizzard there and in Michigan. I’m pretty patient so I checked into a hotel and went to the mall (I figured movie, food, shopping, etc.). During the movie (Step Mom) they close the mall, but no one tells us, so now they have a bunch of emotional people trapped in the mall. All the restaurants are closed, everything is iced over. I took me three hours to get a cab to take me back to the hotel. The hotel had no indoor pool, no gift shop, just basic TV, even the airport which I went to a half dozen times didn’t even have anything. I had actually read all they books they had already (except for the romance novels). It was a disaster when I got back to Detroit, people were basically living in the airport, it was like something out a war movie with all the refugees, I’m not kidding that’s how I felt. When I went down to get my luggage there was luggage from the past few days there stacked 5 feet high. They conveyers were three pieces of luggage deep, when people grabbed luggage they couldn’t dislodge it and got dragged along. It was the only snow day they had the few years I worked at that school district and I missed it…

From Sunday Brunch on Tuesday

Written By: Gary on July 6, 2004 No Comment

1. Fav. Book as a Child?: I loved the Alvin Fernald books (A’s Secret Code, Mayor for a Day, etc.), always doing fun stuff and getting into trouble (and yet still helping out).
2. Fav. TV Show as a Child?: I loved the Wonderful World of Disney, Sundays at 7, I think… A different show/movie every week.
3. Fav. Movie as a Child?: The “Escape from With Mountain” movies, I loved Tia and Tony. FYI: Tia played Alvin’s sister on the Wonderful World of Disney movies (I didn’t realize how all 3 questions tied together until this second).
4. Fav. Food as a Child?: PB & J. Lunch and Dinner! I still remember mom getting excited the first time I at a hamburger.
5. Fav. Outfit as a Child?: Jeans and a T-shirt. I think it was always a white t-shirt.

From Chick Chat

Written By: Gary on July 5, 2004 No Comment
1. Bed & Breakfast or hotel?
B & B is the preference. But I also like the hotel with hot tub, pool, bar and WifI…
2. What determines where you stay?(i.e. price, accommodations, transportation, travel package)
Price helps, next trip it’s part of the package. It was the only way to make the flight affordable and it seems like we ended up with a great place.
3. When determining where to stay, do you ever consider the establishment’s history? (i.e. it might be haunted, location of high profile crime)
If it were interesting but not something I “shop” for when making plans.
4. Would such considerations sway your decision?
I might avoid the ghost. Or pay extra to know that einstein was conceived there…
5. Do you try and read the local paper for where you’re visiting, to get an idea of what the area’s like?
Definitely! I want to see what the people and area are like! I want a cafe to hang out at, maybe a bar or bookstore and want them to know my name or at least my order by the time I’m gone…

Found at Monday Madness

Written By: Gary on July 5, 2004 No Comment

I like the leaf motif and the colors but what I really wanted was something more green (this brownish stuff isn’t summer-ish enough for me) if anyone has a good green leafy background please let me know…

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Written By: Gary on July 5, 2004 No Comment

You know I rarely do these, let alone post them (I usually only post the ones that have a question and answer, not a result). I found this quiz from Lisa at Glimpse of a Grrl who said it was ‘dead on’ for her.

You are an SECF–Sober Emotional Constructive Follower. This makes you a hippie. You are passionate about your causes and steadfast in your commitments. Once you’ve made up your mind, no one can convince you otherwise. Your politics are left-leaning, and your lifestyle choices decidedly temperate and chaste.

You do tremendous work when focused, but usually you operate somewhat distracted. You blow hot and cold, and while you normally endeavor on the side of goodness and truth, you have a massive mean streak which is not to be taken lightly. You don’t get mad, you get even.

I’d say the last sentence and a half is inaccurate. I’m not mean, but sometimes people who don’t know me might think my sarcasm is mean. And if you know me… you know I don’t get mad (or even).

I was semi-borderline for the C and the F so I looked at the key to see what happened if I filler them arround. and the three other choices were even less me (politician, dictator or evil genius) and while I may do good at either of them I have no such high-moral aspirations.

Written By: Gary on July 4, 2004 One Comment

So I released my first Book Crossing book! I let loose Echo Burning (a Jack Reacher Novel) by Lee Child (I actually had a few in my backpack, it seemed the one most likely not to get tossed out). I was at dinner at TGIFriday’s and just left it on one of the unoccupied chairs after I cashed out. I was trying to be secretive and it felt like I was doing something wrong, I could see them chasing me, “sir, you left your book” and me trying to deny it…

Written By: Gary on July 4, 2004 No Comment

26 Things is a fun photographic game – no winners list, no prizes handed out. 26 items are posted on the website and participants set out to photograph each item in their own interpretation. On August 1st you can post a like to your page with the photographic answers.

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Written By: Gary on July 3, 2004 No Comment

Okay so I’ve heard of Book Crossing before but never got around to doing anything with it. But when I go on vacation I always like to take a few books that don’t make the trip back; gotta have some room for some souvenirs, eh? So I finally signed up and I’m pretty geeked about it.

You put a note in the front off the book, tell them the book is on a journey and they should get on-line to register it’s location so that it’s path can be followed! Very cool! I don’t know if I can wait, I’m ready to label some books and let them go tomorrow!

You can actually see things like the 100 most recently released books. Then you can go hunt for them! If you sign up be sure to mention that garylapointe sent you.

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