Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

This could induce it:

A French tourism company has suspended a glass cube with a see-through bottom from a peak in the Alps, offering a breathtaking view a kilometer down.

Billed as the tallest attraction in Europe, the structure was three years in the making. It includes five transparent sides made of three layers of tempered glass fixed with metal to a big support structure.

Here’s a shot of the view:

Glass observation booth

Yeah. Sure. I’m going out there. Not. The only question is whether agoraphobia or acrophobia would get you first.

And what do you want to bet they have a hidden camera to record visitors’ “amusing reactions?”

Read Full Post »

"Signal, blast it!"

“Signal, blast it!”

So, this morning I was nearly hit from behind by a cyclist who came up the sidewalk behind me without bothering to let me know she was there. Had I moved a half-step to the right at the wrong moment, she would have taken my knee out.

Were this the only time something like this happened, it would be annoying, but nothing to write home about. Just one of the annoyances of pedestrian life.

But this happens far too often not to be infuriating. Do people riding bicycles not understand that people in front of them might not know they are there? That even a low-speed collision can cause serious injury? Is it too hard to use a horn, or a bell, or even to call out “coming through?”

From the Los Angeles municipal code:

  • Sidewalk Riding (LAMC 56.15) Prohibits the riding of bicycles (or other human power devices) on sidewalks (bikeways or boardwalks) with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. Disallows the riding of bicycles on Ocean Front Walk in Venice.

I maintain these people are breaking that very ordinance, though small satisfaction it will be to me for them to get a ticket while I’m on the ground, writhing in pain.

Wait! What am I saying? Bike riders are healthy, Green, saving Gaea — they’re virtuous!  The sidewalks and roads are theirs by divine right, and therefore they need not worry themselves about lesser mortals such as you and me. It’s your responsibility to watch out for them, you drudge, lest your body damage their bike.

Meanwhile, I have to keep looking warily over my shoulder when walking to the grocery store.


PS: My apologies to any civilized riders reading this. I just needed to vent.

Read Full Post »

And I haven’t a clue why:


Personally, I’d make t-shirts and sell them:

“My parents went to Fucking, Austria, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt!”

Come on, folks, vote “Nein!” 😀

Read Full Post »

I wonder if the hotel’s architect was named “Goldfinger?”

Hotel Accidentally Makes Solar “Death Ray”, Burns Lawyer

Bill Pintas was vacationing in Las Vegas when he decided to stay at the swank new Vdara hotel, a curvy 57-story tower owned by MGM Resorts.  He was sitting at the pool when he encountered something alarming.  He recalls, “I’m sitting there in the chair and all of the sudden my hair and the top of my head are burning.  I’m rubbing my head and it felt like a chemical burn. I couldn’t imagine what it could be.”

Like an ant under a magnifying glass, he remembers running to an umbrella, but being unable to escape the hot light.  He recalls, “I used to live in Miami and I’ve sat in the sun in Las Vegas 100 times. I know what a hot sun feels like and this was not it.  My first inclination was thinking: Jesus we’ve destroyed the ozone layer because I am burning.”

Speaking with employees, he was alarmed to find out that the hotel staff was aware of the situation.  He recalls, “They’re kind of giggling and say: ‘Yeah, we know. We call it the death ray.”

They knew?? As a lawyer friend of mine said on hearing this story, “3, 2, 1… SUE!!”

Read Full Post »

Actually, I’ve been back for a couple of days, but yesterday was rather a lost day. Ever notice that it often takes a day to rest up after a vacation? Odd.

Regardless, from Tuesday last week through this Monday instant, I was in Indianapolis for the GenCon Game Fair. I’ve been going a long time – every year since 1985, in fact. For much of my life I’ve been an avid player and referee of roleplaying games, and GenCon is the Mecca for such games – as well as board games, card games, miniatures games, and computer games – and much more. And while I don’t participate in the hobby much anymore (though for a while I wrote professionally for the industry), I still go every year as much to see old friends as to play games or buy toys. Roughly 20,000-25,000 people show up each year, which is quite a number of proud, self-proclaimed geeks and dorks to gather in one place.

Be afraid, be very afraid. 🙂

As usual, I had a fun time. This year, like the last few, I worked part-time at the Heliograph booth, played one game (a fun Call of Cthulhu adventure presented by the MU Skulls – my character went insane and died. Good times!), and spent the rest touring the Exhibitor’s Hall and socializing. Following are some observations.

Recession, what recession? The halls were jammed with people. On the weekend, I sometimes felt we were walled in by bodies around our booth, and even Thursday was busy. I don’t know what sales figures were for exhibitors, but my guess is they were very healthy. People may have saved on hotel bills, however; Sunday night in Indianapolis was emptier than usual.

While not many new products caught my eye this year, there were a few.

Gamers Rule has a very clever offering called Dungeon Deck. By drawing a few cards, you create a complete small dungeon and quest in 30 seconds, perfect for a quick game on the fly. They were our neighbors at the show and good people, so give Dungeon Deck a look.

Woodland Scenics, most associated with model railroading, demonstrated a very nice terrain modeling system applicable to wargames and RPGs.

Bucephalus Games was selling the Psychic Plush Lab Rat, which, as you can see from the picture, is more aptly named Cthulhu Rat:


Who could resist something so cute? (Click for a bigger pic.)

On the downside, I also had a look at the preview of the new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP) from Fantasy Flight Games, under license from Games Workshop.

Ugh. As I wrote elsewhere:

This is not a roleplaying game. Oh, players can add roleplaying to it, just like you can add roleplaying to Monopoly, if you want, but this is not an RPG in the real sense of the word. It’s as much a roleplaying game as Mordheim was.

And the price-point? $100 for a game limited to four players? Insanity. An FFG representative at a seminar at GenCon had the brass to suggest that the GM and players could split the cost. Oh, but if they want new powers and new careers, they have to buy later expansions.

Like I said: It’s Mordheim. Or maybe Talisman or Heroquest. But “WFRP 3” is not a roleplaying game. And I think it’s going to be a big bomb for FFG and GW.

WFRP is my all-time favorite fantasy roleplaying game. It had it all: simple yet colorful mechanics; dark, sometimes farcical humor; and a dramatic setting with real depth to it. This tosses all that to make a glorified board game. To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen’s smackdown of Dan Quayle, “I knew WFRP, and this, sir, is not WFRP!”

Sad, very sad.

Outside the convention, the city of Indianapolis was its usual, welcoming self. A friend and I had an excellent meal at the St. Elmo Steak House on Tuesday, then repaired to Victory Field to watch the Indianapolis Indians play the Columbus Clippers. (The Indians lost, 4-2.)

They’ve also done a very nice job with their new airport, though its proximity to the old airport can be a cause for confusion for the unwary….

So, now I’m back and vacation is over, but I’m looking forward to next year.

Read Full Post »