Alex's Alliterative Adventures

Thoughts on Programming, Life, and Travel

Archive for the 'Travels' Category

Get me my teeth, boy

I have no choice but to give Ryan Air a terrible review. Yes, the ticket was cheap. Yes, the flight arrived early. Yes, my plane was pleasantly free of snakes of any noticable size. BUT I CAN’T HEAR. My right ear has been plugged for almost 12 hours. In my last-minute rush, I forgot to bring gum to chew on for the descent. I’m also mildly sick. However, the real culprit here is clearly Ryan Air; their planes simply have shitty cabin pressure, and we all know that poor cabin pressure leads to angry passengers, which leads to civil unrest, which leads to terrorism. And so, the reason for my negative review:

Ryan Air hates democracy.
And kittens.


Drive-by arguments

Well, I’m leaving in under 3 hours to catch a bus, then a plane, then a train, then a taxi, then a couch. After that, some stuff should happen.

For those of you in the london area, give me a ring for a pint or two. This is not a request.

I’ll be back on Sunday. See you cats later.

No comments

NWERC 2006

First of all, I think that going for more than a full week without blogging earns me the title of Lazy Bastard.  That’s officially my longest hiatus ever, not counting the 20 some years I went without feeling the need to tell the world my current mood and song. (In case you were wondering: lethargic, and Sugarcult – Memory (Acoustic) from Punk Goes Acoustic.  Dear christ, that song is addictive.)

I was originally delaying this post until I had all of my pictures sorted and uploaded, but seeing as I just showed an impressive outburst of intellectual capacity by deleting every picture Mehrdad had given me, I figured I’d just upload them later and let you all browse the pics at your leisure. If you’re the picture enjoying sort, keep an eye on that them thar side bar over thar. When words fail me, the pictures may still fight the good internet fight.

Team Waterlund, consisting of Mehrdad, Farzan, and myself, started the weekend off by visiting the Absolute Ice Bar Stockholm, which was quite the experience. I’m mentally filing it in the same category as bungee jumping, which I generally refer to as “incredibly awesome shit which I will never do again until I learn how to exhale pure money.” The pictures I grabbed of this place were only mostly recoverable by Undelete Plus, but in the mean time you can enjoy the latest installment of the video blog:

After a brief reexposure with a nearly-Canadian climate, Farzan and I headed for the Iron Maiden concert. Since we arrived at the sold-out concert an hour and a half after it started, my hopes weren’t high, but Farzan’s black voodoo magic had us moshing on the stadium floor enjoying a band I thought was retired or dead with what must have been 30,000 other fans. This guy seriously knows his way around a concert.

Saturday was a day of business. It was a day of

and collaboration.

Sunday was a day of abysmal failure. Team Waterlund didn’t provide too much honour to our families on that particular day. It was a great learning opportunity, though, and I’m so glad that I was given the chance to advance to the regionals with my teammates and compete with some of the finest minds I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Plus, Iron Maiden rocked hardcore.

Since last weekend, a few other events of note have occurred, such as student beatdowns, obfuscated political segmentations, the replacement of several doors with “fire-safety walls”, and a toga mosh pit.

The biggest scapegoat for my lack of blogging motivation this week was the prospect of sorting through pictures, movies, and files from the Stockholm weekend. I think that in the future, I’ll just continue to post other stuff in non-chronological order to prevent the tubes from getting clogged. As a random note, for those of you that have to deal with tons of photos or other media, what do you use to organize your files? How do you find duplicates, how do you sort and categorize them, and how do you post far too many details of your life to the content-absorbing void that is the internet?



A series of questionably influenced decisions led me to a weekend in Göteborg with some close friends. Rocky, Mika, Dougal and I hopped into Felix and Annina’s camper for two days of loosely planned awesome.

Saturday ended up being more or less rained out, so we enjoyed the Universeum, one of Göteborg’s many museums. This one focused on poisonous, deadly, or otherwise exciting wildlife, so it was pretty cool.

I was kind of rushed when it was happening, but in retrospect, touching a stingray was pretty amazing. There’s just something that feels so natural about interacting with the beasts with which we share our planet. I mean, I hate cats. They’re naturally evil, they activate my immune system’s self-destruct sequence, and they’ve taken out chunks of my flesh and tried for my best friend’s eye. That being said, anyone who can control the urge to rub their face in the belly of an appropriately cute cat isn’t actually a person at all.

We saw lots of fish:

We decided to end the evening at Delirium Café, a house of over 2000 beers. They only had the shitty Canadian beers, but my readings tell me that this was true of the selections from most countries.

On Sunday we wandered about the city enjoying the sunlight and October winds. Some of us were warmer than others.

Our last official stop was the Göteborg Stadsmuseum (city museum), where I felt older than I ever felt before. The previous record was when two of my high school friends got engaged, but seeing a Dell with a CD-ROM drive in a display in a history museum made me clutch at my heart while I yelled for my pills.

Overall, I had a great weekend full of interesting sights and conversation more philosophically and intellectually stimulating than I’ve had the pleasure of in years. In other news, this cooking thing isn’t that bad. If only I wasn’t so lazy, and so unimaginably bankrupt…

Oh, and since I apparently didn’t make it clear before, I’m going to be working in London, Ontario in January, and I’m currently planning on returning to the house of pain in the summer.

“Maybe the churches huddle together to fend off the cold wind of athiesm” – Dougal


Weekend in Stockholm

In imitation of Mr. Kelso, I decided that I’d attempt a video blog.  I don’t think this is the sort of thing that I’m likely to do again, but who knows. You can download my flapping lips in wmv format, if you’d like.  The rest of this post is going to be a reasonably long one, so feel free to fall asleep here.

We boarded the train at around 23:15 on Friday night, where I surprised myself by actually falling asleep for a couple of hours before arriving in Stockholm at 6am.  When we finally awoke in the foreign and surprisingly chilly city, we dropped our bags at our floating hostel and started touring the streets.

We spent the day marching, riding, photographing, laughing, eating, and napping.

We saw the Vasa, a ship from 1628 that sunk on its maiden voyage and was recovered less than 50 years ago, primarily due to 3 years of effort from one man and his home made core sampler.

We also saw a museum devoted to the fictional Swedish character Pippi LÃ¥ngstrump (North Americans would better know her as Pippi Longstocking) and took a recorded tour through dozens of miniature models carved in excruciating detail.

Since we were all poor students, we decided that dinner was a dish best served cheap: pizza. If Colin had been with us, we would’ve been banned from the pizzeria for life.  Instead, I think we got away with a few months, maybe a year, tops.  We walked in at around 8:15 and ordered our 10 pizzas.  By 8:30, they had served us all but 3 of our pizzas.  We were understanding, though, they obviously weren’t used to serving such large groups. We should’ve taken the fact that they started turning customers away from their still-open store at 8:30 as some kind of warning, but we were stupid and engrossed with delicious pizza.  I thought I’d be able to resist pineapple, banana, and curry thrown on top of dough and sauce, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

By 8:40, we got a bit impatient, and pointed out that 3 of our battalion were going hungry. They apologized and quickly rushed 2 pizzas to our seats. They started getting pissy at 8:45, trying to explain to us in broken English that since they closed at 9pm, we clearly had to leave as soon as possible.  Preferably now. We kindly explained to them that we weren’t going anywhere until they gave our friend the pizza she’d already fucking paid for. With a grumble and a chip on his shoulder, the guy did his god damn job and finished the last pizza by 8:50. He took the water and salad away and started yelling “Slut!  Slut!” (Closed! Closed!).  We put our best diplomatic hats on and pointed out that since he forgot our food, we were going to stay here as long as it took for everyone to finish their dinners, especially since the store didn’t close for another 10 minutes. At 8:55, he shut the front door and started stacking chairs on the tables, muttering “slut!” the whole time. We were out the door by around 8:59, and I swear he was going to spend the night scribbling “DON’T SERVE THESE INGRATES” signs with our pictures on them and taping them to lamp-posts around town.  We drank our unpleasant encounter away at a little Irish number described as feeling “more like a medieval dungeon than a pub”, and headed back to our hostel to remember what beds felt like.

One of the things I like the most about this whole travelling thing is the reminders it brings you of what’s really important in life. I’ve had access to closets bigger than the hostel room shared between 4 of us, but it was a place to rest our weary heads, and that’s all that any of us wanted or needed.  We woke and ate our breakfast in near silence, rendered speechless by the majestic view from our cabin windows and our half-chewed mouthfuls of banana.

Being served scrambled eggs in a bed swimming enough duvets to coat a small country is nice and all, but there’s something that just feels right about rolling up your sleeping bag and using a pocket knife to slice the cheese and bread you packed two days ago and combining them into the ever-so-delicious cheese on bread while trying to narrow in on what amazing experiences life will bring you today.

Our second day was spent touring the city’s attractions and cafes.  The Kaknäs tower was only 155m tall, so the CN-Tower virgins were a little more impressed than I was. Aquaria and Skansen were a lot more entertaining, especially Skansen’s zoo. Apparently Swedish people consider elk, bison, foxes, otters, squirrels, and bears to be exotic animals.  I almost bought a few postcards to show all you North American types their silly ways, but then I realized that a Canadian would be pretty underwhelmed if they received a postcard with a moose on it from Sweden.

We met the most interesting Hungarian while resting at a local cafe.  He was insistent that Einstein’s theory of relativity was complete bunk, and he gave us copies of pages and pages of equations which, if I understood them correctly, were a proof of how the speed of light could be broken. Well, they were a proof in the sense that I hand in proofs to my professors all the time, and they hand them back and point out that proofs are generally expected to be correct, and they have a friend who runs a burger joint, at that I should feel no shame in devoting the rest of my life to “an honest day’s work”. The Hungarian obviously had some mental issues, and he spoke with an eagerness and intensity that was all I understood from his German explanations of the Doppler effect. My German speaking physics major friend told me that she couldn’t translate what he was saying because it simply didn’t make sense.  She was saddened that a man could be so disconnected from the world and yet Sweden, the welfare state, wasn’t doing a thing about it.  Sadder yet was the thought that perhaps there was nothing that could be done. Most curious of all was the thought of yourself being in that same position: when convinced that everyone else is crazy, would you be willing to consider that obvious, self-evident things were simply wrong because the rest of the world disagrees?  Does your answer make you a coward that lacks principles, or a mature and wisened individual who can learn from and admit to your own mistakes?

A number of us wanted to end the evening at the Absolute Ice Bar, a permanent bar that’s made entirely of ice and kept at a cool -5°C, but it was full by the time we tried to make reservations. That’ll just be something to expect pictures of the next time I return from Stockholm. As a replacement, we went to McDonalds. They served me Tropicana.



I’ve been less than entirely rejected by both a Swedish gaming company and one from New Zealand.  Could be cool. 

I’m getting on the night train to Stockholm in under 4 hours.  I’m leaving the computer behind, so my chances of posting this weekend are pretty low. Exciting tales, possibly of my new diseased rabbit friend, will be sure to follow.

No comments

Aarhus Photos

I didn’t realize my rant was so long.  Oh well.  In other news, Aarhus photos are up.

I’m going on a trip to Stockholm in a month with my floor, which should be cool.  The school is also organizing some trips to Russia in November.  I’m going to be so damn poor.

Oh yeah, and Jamie is good at this blogging thing.

No comments

Copenhagen II: the Day Trip

Unfortunately, the choir recordings were unusable, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say that they were really good.

We toured Copenhagen properly yesterday, it was a lot of fun.  After the changing of the guard, we saw a lot of statues and monuments, including two of the most famous, the Gefion Fountain and the Little Mermaid.

According to legend, a women named Gefion was to be given a reward from the king: she could have as much land as she could plow in one day and night with four oxen. She turned her four giant-begotten sons into oxen and plowed like it was going out of style.  The oxen were so plow-y that their plowing loosened the land and sent it into the sea, making the Danish island of Zealand.  Crazy ol’ Danes. The Little Mermaid was a gift from a Carl Jacobsen (of the Carlsburg Breweries) to the city of Copenhagen. He had it commissioned after he saw a performance of the ballet of the Little Mermaid.  I decided to defile the Danish landmark with my Canadian patriotism:

We then saw a Danish military wedding, climbed the Round Tower, which is a large observatory in central Copenhagen, and then we decided to find food.  We ended up in Freetown Christiania, which is a partially self-governing neighbourhood in Copenhagen. This place was the craziest shit I’d ever seen.  It was like walking into a mixture of one of Picasso’s paintings and a heroin overdose. The only phrase I can think of that even begins to describe this place is a post-apocalyptic drug trip.  The ground was littered in beer bottles, stray dogs weaved in and out of tourists’ legs as they were trying to eat, and a man ate a burger out of a garbage can in front of us.  We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the neighbourhood itself, so we couldn’t properly capture the sousaphone player belting out his bass line to the beat of the marching drummers while the rest of the wind players in white robes played along. (Iulia, I think you’d really like this place) The community functions on consensus, so the residents that want the communities public hash trade to disappear have met a lot of resistance.

There were lots of people taking lots of pictures, so hopefully I’ll connive some of them to hook me up with photos that don’t suck.  The photos I did take are available in a new album.  Check out the clock, it’s great. I won’t spam them all here, but I will leave you with the first photo I’ve taken here that I’m particularly proud of:


The Swedish Countryside

I spent Friday evening at the Malmo festival, or Malmöfestivalen, which was a lot of fun. I purchased what might be the most delicious concoction I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating:


That would be battered pineapple and ice cream, in the same dish. The Swedes are a truly noble people. The serrated fork caught me by surprise, but it worked much better than the Knork.

The Malmo Festival is Malmo’s annual music festival. One of the big attractions was a giant sing along on the main stage. Hundreds, maybe thousands of people were standing around eating, drinking, and singing such classics as My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean, and what may have been Baa Baa Black Sheep. I decided to pass on the singing, since the Swedish lyrics escape me.

We ended the evening with ridiculously expensive, watery beer at the rock and roll stage. A Swedish pop/rock group, Joddla Med Siv, had the crowd worked up into an energetic frenzy. Energetic frenzies work differently in Sweden, though. Everyone was clapping along to the music and giving each other plenty of space. There was no moshing, no crowd surfing, and no continuous threat of being crushed to death. I… I didn’t know what to do.

Joddla Med Siv

I do, however, need to buy a better camera.

After heading home and getting 4 hours of sleep, I jumped on a bus with a bunch of other exchange students to check out the country side. It was pretty boring, but it was mildly picture worthy. We visited Ales stenar (the Ales stones) in KÃ¥seberga and Gilimmingehus, which I dub the World’s Smallest Castle. If I remember correctly, no one knows what the stones are for, and the Castle belonged to some dude who got rich buy taxing the hell out of people, so he needed a castle to protect him from everyone who hated him.

Ales Stenar Glimmingehus. SO not a castle. A tiny friend

The night ended with a welcome party for exchange students. It was surprisingly empty given the fact that tickets were sold out, and the beer was watery, but it was cheap(er)! Only $5 a glass! I might have to go straight-edge while I’m here, anything else will be too expensive.

God damn it, I need a better camera.



I just got back from the first day of a week-long music festival, so I’m a bit exhausted. I’ll be mostly out of commission tomorrow, but I’ll write something more substantial on sunday. In mean time, I’ll tide you over with a few pictures from the land of Tasty Danishes. Click on each picture for a bigger version.

“Slut” actually means “end”. I can only presume that “spurt” means “spurt”.

Apparently the Danes have a different idea of what’s appropriate to plaster your store windows with. Either that, or they speak a foreign language, or something.

These parking clocks are extremely common in Copenhagen.

Danish cars have a small clock sticker in the windshield. It’s used to display the time at which the car was parked, which in turn is used to enforce parking laws. Shut up, I found it interesting.

I have no idea what was going on here.

Those danes, they’re crazy.

On my second day in Denmark (August 15th), I decided to walk through the local shopping area. While I was there, a random parade broke out. It may have been due to my presence, I’ll never really know for sure.

I’m about to pass out on my keyboard, I’ll be more active in a few days.