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Ike Baron
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Baxter Springs, Kan.


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Sunday, July 01, 2012

stare at the sky, curse at the wind, laugh at the world

Ike yiked at 4:48 pm

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Love the intelligent discussion more than the blog post itself. Myself I would like to share some of my experiences. I'm not British or North American, for that matter.

The French way of life is definitely distinctive and worth getting to know and appreciate, but personally, what makes me feel much better as a traveller is for the native people to understand and respect the Tourists as well, something more noticeable in many other countries I have been to. Not hating on any country for that, but a warm welcome always draws me to a place so much more.

It was my first trip to Europe, and on the plane I was given different seats from my family (two seats back). So when we touched down in Paris I asked a French middle-aged couple politely in English to let me pass through. I did not get to explain I wanted to attend to my young son, because the lady immediately cut in and said something like "Do you have the keys to the airplane door? Do you? If not, sit down." She then proceeded to converse with her husband in french and give me the famous dirty glance French stare-down. I think they were annoyed I did not 'Bonjour' them, or maybe airplane fatigue. The man (who was big-sized) stuck his body across the aisle so as to further prevent me from passing them. I was really offended. I remember I thought to myself, "Wow, French hospitality even before I step onto French land proper!" I wanted to explain I needed to get to my family, but their French-speaking ears wouldn't have any of that English coming out of my mouth. Excuse me when I say I wanted to punch them, it was my first experience in Europe and not a good one at all. Now, I regret letting that couple spoil my first day in France.

The other thing is that the Parisians were always in some sort of stare-frown expression on the street. It was imposing, actually. But I was ready to look past that. An old lady at a shoe shop said something in French like, "Don't sit here! It's for people trying on shoes!" We vacated the seat for her thinking she needed it, but she just walked off and cussed. I mean, customer service is not exactly what they pride themselves on.

Another thing funny was this man who was managing those pay-by-token 5-minute back massage machines in the shopping centres. He was walking up and down in a huff and when we got near to have a curious closer look at the machine, he chased away our potential business. What's the point of having machines there if you're not going to let anyone use or even see them. He literally stands there and dusts and mops the sides of the machine for hours. We found it funny because it's just a machine, not a very stressful job, yet he is acting like he is Sarkozy's bodyguard! Again, this shows how the French take so much pride in what they do, whatever job it is. It is a lifestyle, definitely.

I went to Dijon and Mont-St Michel too, which were expectedly less hostile. I can only wish I stayed long enough (only 4 days) in France (Paris for that matter) to change my opinion of them because up to now I still cringe at the thought of The City of Dreams/Romance taglines my local newspaper always deems as Paris. Having read many blogs and articles on this, I now can't wait to go back and rediscover Paris in its "more polite(?)" side. I hope I will get to change my opinions of the place.

Interestingly, I found Barcelona much more lively and hospitable. It could be the nature of the Spanish, who, if I may generalise, are more warm at heart- when giving directions, I found the Spanish always did it with a smile and didn't mind conversing fully in English. We even approached a jogger on his running route to ask for directions, he immediately stopped and marked them out for us, while still panting! I felt so bad. They are also not afraid of starting a conversation, "Where are you from?" being the most common and genuine starter that I have received.

Or maybe, after all this I have said, it may just boil down to perception. I went to Spain 1 year after the France trip, with lowered expectations and a jaded mindset, always believing the people of the region are cold and unwelcoming. Of course, I was nicely surprised on my 2nd trip in Barca. I do remember my fair share of rude people in Spain which, though less than in France, are in no way less rude. A common interesting point I experienced is they get offended when you do not speak Spanish/French/their language, they pretend not to understand your clear articulate English and brush off helping you with a shrug of their shoulders and an "I told you so" lip purse. Yet this was only a very minority in Spain.

No props for guessing which visit I liked more, but my opinions are ever-changing and I do actually want to go back to places I did not like previously, and to set the record straight and reevaluate Parisians for who they really are.

Now, 3 years have passed. The things you learn as you grow older. Thank you for the article.

Ike yiked at 11:37 am

Saturday, August 06, 2011

I'd like to think that I'm some formidable badass cross between Ravenclaw and Slytherin, but reality is that I most probably am too soft-hearted and protective, which would place me in the Ravenclaw to Hufflepuff range instead. I can say quite confidently that I belong to Ravenclaw though. I would probably not be a good Gryffindor as I do not profess to be that noble or brave.

Ike yiked at 1:11 pm

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I have an amazing race dream route.

Leg 1: Philadelphia, USA - Tikal, Guatemala [10 teams left]
Leg 2: Tikal, Guatemala - Caracas, Venezuela [9 teams left]
This would be a history (Philly) and culture (Mayan culture) themed route. Teams might have to drive 4 hours from Guatemala city to the ruins in Tikal and perform cultural tasks. I also wanted the race to cover South America, but not too much, so Venezuela was chosen.

Leg 3: Caracas, Venezuela - Libreville, Gabon [NEL]
Leg 4: Gabon (Estuaire, Atlantic Equatorial Coastal Ecoforest regions) [8 teams left]
Gabon was given two legs as it was the only African country visited. The tasks and destination would be particularly nature-oriented; Gabon has the largest percentage of nature reserves by total land area, in the region.

Leg 5: Libreville, Gabon - Helsinki, Finland [NEL]
Leg 6: Finland (Rovaniemi) [7 teams left]
Helsinki is chosen as this leg's obligatory modern European city. Also, I felt we needed some cold here. In the additional leg, racers visit Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland. I just can't get enough of the orgasmic arctic circle leg in Season 17.

Leg 7: Helsinki, Finland - Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia [6 teams left]
Again, change in environment from modern city to sandy desert dunes and rolling plains. Fulfils my Genghis Khan Silk Road fantasy. I like it a lot.

Leg 8: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia - Kathmandu, Nepal [NEL]
Leg 9: Nepal (Pokhara and Annapurna mountain range) [5 teams left]
New country. Also, to visit the mountain range of the Everest in a full leg would be a nice respite from the Andes and Swiss alps that we have seen in previous seasons.

Leg 10: Kathmandu, Nepal - Singapore, Singapore [4 teams left]
After the majesty of untouched wilderness, we need a last big modern city destination before End City. (Sorry beautiful beaches of Indonesia!) It was a toss-up between Singapore and Wellington, New Zealand, but I decided to choose Singapore due to its multiculturalism and availability of flights. In previous visits, the culture of this city was not emphasised enough, especially in Season 16 where it was overshadowed by the fast-forward and u-turn drama all in one leg. Another problem I anticipate would be that the final 4 can be easily identified in the little island. But one can dream.

Leg 11: Singapore, Singapore - Suva, Fiji [3 teams left for finals]
I've said umpteenth times that we NEED a south pacific nation as a final elimination stop in West to East routes. There is quiet, island culture, what's not to love? Also, as it is more secluded, this will be able to hide racers' identity better.

Leg 12: Suva, Fiji - Denver, Colorado
Denver as End City just to be away from the West-Coast-city in-your-face that plague the final leg. Also ties in nicely with the fact that many destinations in this race are different and off the beaten track.

New locales: Guatemala, Venezuela, Gabon, Nepal, Fiji, Denver and Philly
Old locales: Finland, Mongolia, Singapore (all were only used once or twice in the race)

Other locations that NEED to happen:
Europe & Americas;
Greece is really beautiful and a good break from stock European locations Italy, France, Germany, but not likely due to financial crisis.
Turkey is really affordable, I have no idea why they are not going there!
Greenland & Antarctic - would be fun but I'm not desperate over it. Too expensive.
Yugoslavian bloc + Ukraine, Lat/Lith - needs to happen seriously.
Canada - neglected
Asia & Oceania;
Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines - strictly the inner parts only, big cities overdone
Indonesia - but my dream came true already :) why oh why did it take so long though?
Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan - totally my Silk Road fantasy
South India please - they've done north and east, so please do Chennai or Kerala (again!) or something
China - overdone but it's so big it never gets old if you visit different cities each season. New awesome cities: Hainan, Guangzhou, Xiamen, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Harbin, Chengdu, Nanning, Guiyang, Wuhan, Hefei, Huangshan mountains etc... the list could go on
Bhutan & Tibet - if they can get in Bhutan
Papua New Guinea and South Pacific islands - new scenery

Thanks for reading guys, I put a lot of creativity into it, let me know what you think.

Ike yiked at 6:15 pm

Monday, May 02, 2011

Kent and Vyxsin as usual self-destructed on their way to the pit stop. Usually I would cheer for them to be out, but it sucks for any team to be eliminated because of silly mistakes. Also, they were bullied by practically everyone. The black guys were obviously tight with the girls and zev and justin, and even mallory was kinda laughing at them for taking a taxi.I would have loved to see them last till brazil and get eliminated in fourth. flight and easy should go and I was so pissed that zev and justin were saved by the goth's stupidity. Indeed, I have learnt from the goths and zev & justin that one mistake can kill your whole game.

This was such a great episode with the drama, good tasks and spectacular location. It's no wonder the Race always comes back to Switzerland.

Zev & justin have won too many legs and are way too cocky, flight time and big easy have just scraped past by help from others, gallory are rich and don't need the money, kisha and jen are the most likable and deserving to win the million, but if they win it will be anticlimactic with back-to-back first female teams winning from seasons 17 and 18, so I don't know who to cheer for!

Vyxsin, I love you and you ran a great race, but when you said you were happy to leave with the best teammate, I shat my pants in horror. Vyxsin should race with Vicki (from last season). Power women unite!!!

Ike yiked at 2:06 pm

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Watched (and Ranked):
1. #17 Gabon
A very unique season with interesting characters and gameplay. Just the right amount of drama and twists with a neat series of blindsides, backstabbings and unpredictability. Also brought in one of my favourite players, Sugar. A worthy winner (but not the most strategic) and cool underdog stories in Ken, Crystal and Susie.
A veritable encyclopedia of the different Survivor strategems, including: a) a player who voted tactifully and constantly lied, b) a player who voted emotionally and felt that "the good guys should win in the end", and c) a "paragon" player, good at challenges, who tricked voters with fake immunity idols.

- the location, which made for great new challenges
- first season filmed in HD
- Randy and Sugar bitchfest with Corrinne trying to join in but failing
- Crystal sucking at all challenges despite being an Olympic gold medalist

2. #16 Micronesia
Blindsides made for great TV. One of the few seasons where pre-merge was interesting as well as post-merge. The women's alliance held strong over the incredibly stupid men. Strategy was in full form by this season, and everyone (except 2 or 3) stepped up to be a player. However, this is not my top spot because there was not much to the characters, storylines and root-worthy players other than the awesome tribal councils.

- beautiful location
- cirie getting screwed by the final 2 twist
- ozzy's blindside
- erik giving up the immunity necklace
- tracy and natalie as great schemers for fans

3. #7 Pearl Islands
If you are looking for characters and drama, this would be the season. We had great heroes and villains and everyone else had a personality. I knew everyone's names by episode 2 because that was how they stood out. It had good plot twists and strategy as well as pretty solid gameplay. I love it for the Pirate theme that this season strictly adhered to: tribes going shopping at a fishing village, treasure maps, rupert being the fisherman, the pirate music. I also pretty liked the outcast twist if not for the fact that one of the outcasts got so damn far in the game which wasn't fun any more. It would have been great if the outcasts were all gone by the final 4. The fact that people who got voted out once came back and went all the way to the finals was simply damning. Nevertheless, it was a good season.

- Morgan nearly becoming the first Ulong, before Ulong
- Savage getting screwed by the outcasts
- Rupert owning camp life and challenges before being betrayed by his close allies (including the damned outcasts which he made friends with)
- Fairplay just being a douche and avoiding early votes, then grinning
- Sandra getting loud
- It was a character-driven season while not deviating from good old strategy

4. #20 Heroes vs Villains
The strategy was getting old but the drama held. Mostly, my favourite players Stephenie, Sugar, Cirie and Tom went early. There were really great moments but I didn't really like this season.

- Boston Rob rebounding from his physical collapse, and pretty much carrying the Villains tribe on his shoulders.
- "Plan Voodoo" backfiring on Cirie when she went up against another top player, Tom
- Russell feuding with Boston Rob, including such highlights as Russell unapologetically looking for the hidden immunity idol despite the taboo against it, Russell thwarting Rob's "Plan Voodoo" by tricking his top ally Tyson into eliminating himself, Russell casually suggesting to Rob that they vote out the two people sitting with them, and a final showdown wherein Russell successfully corrupted Jerri and Coach against Rob.
- Sanda standing up to Russell and plotting against him; poisoning him against Coach and trying to stage a coup.
- J.T. tragically smuggling a hidden immunity idol (packaged in a written letter) to the last person he should ever entrust an idol to, Russell, based on the Heroes' misconception of an all-female Villains alliance! That was good.
- Parvati giving away two idols to Sandra and Jerri to keep the Villains intact and blindsiding J.T.
- Amanda and Danielle catfighting for possession of a game-changing clue to the next hidden immunity idol while Colby ignored them. Colby later gave Danielle (a villain) the clue on a silver platter, claiming heroically that she found it so she had the right to keep it. Colby killed his tribe there and then.
- Rupert faking a hidden immunity idol by hiding a rock in his pants. Brilliant way to save himself, and I'm surprised that no one ever thought of that before.

5. #21 Nicaragua
A very weak season. There was pathetic strategy, and no one was in it to win it. The few decent players were either underedited or voted off early (Yve, Marty, Brenda). I lamented how alliances were badly formed, immunity idols were inconsequential, and the medallion twist was lame.

The winner bumbled his way to the final six and went on an immunity streak. Boring. Rationale for winning? "It would be pretty cool to have a million dollars. I could do lots of cool stuff. That's cool." The season reminded me of Fiji, where one or two people stood out (Yau-man!) and the rest were just forgettable. Naonka's nonsense and Purple Kelly's anonymity, finally resulting in them quitting - at the same tribal council! That just disrespected the game and they were the worst survivors ever.

- Yve looking gorgeous at 40.
- Young vs Old tribes, which I thought was a good idea but the old tribe was falling apart and not strategising. Sadly they probably won't do young vs old again.
- Brenda and Sash who were the only ones forming a decent alliance and strategy thinking that they are king and queen of the show. Just because no one else is playing the game doesn't make you the best player. What's that saying? In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
- Marty being a good player then getting cocky and screwing up.
- Anonymous useless people making it far. Record too many this season! Chase, Dan, Naonka, Kelly S, Benry.
- A water wheel spit-gulp challenge (most creative challenge by far)

Would like to watch
#1 Borneo
#2 Outback
#6 Amazon
#8 All-Stars
#10 Palau
#11 Guatemala
#13 Cook Islands
#15 China
#19 Samoa

Ike yiked at 2:30 pm

Monday, October 18, 2010


Ike yiked at 10:40 pm