Saturday, December 28, 2013

I am a Front Desk Agent

I'm not sure who wrote this. It's been spreading virally on Facebook. Have some sympathy for your hotel receptionists:

I am a Front Desk Agent

I have advanced degrees in Accounting, Public Relations, Marketing, Business, Computer Science, Civil Engineering, and Swahili. I can also read minds.

Of course I have the reservation that you booked six years ago even though you don't have the confirmation number and you think it was made under a name that starts with "S".

It is completely my fault that the blizzard shut down the airport and you have to sleep in a warm king-size bed while 5000 of your co-travellers are sleeping in benches at the airport. I am sorry.

It is not a problem for me to give you seven connecting, non-smoking, poolside suites with two king beds in each, four rollaways, 3 cribs, and yes, I can install a wet bar. I know it is my fault that we do not have a helicopter landing pad.

I am a Front Desk Agent. I am expected to speak all languages fluently. It is obvious to me that when you booked your reservation for Friday on the weekend we're sold out that you really meant Saturday. My company has entrusted me with all financial information and decisions, and yes, I am lying to you when I say we have no more rooms available. It is not a problem for me to quickly construct several more guest rooms. THIS time I will not forget the helicopter landing pad. And it is my fault that everyone wanted to stay here. I should have known you were coming in, even though you had no reservation. After all, you stay at our brand of hotel all the time, 300 nights a year, and this is only the first time you've ever been to our city.

I am a front desk agent. I am quite capable of checking three people in, two people out, taking five reservations, answering fifteen incoming calls, delivering six bath towels to room 625, plunging the toilet in room 101, and restocking the supply of pool towels, all at the same time. Yes, I will be glad to call the van driver and tell him to drive over all the cars stuck in traffic because you've been waiting at the airport for 15 minutes and you've got jet lag.

I am a front desk agent, an operator, a bellhop, houseman, guest service representative, housekeeper, sales coordinator, information specialist, entertainment critic, restauranteur, stock broker, referee, janitor, computer technician, plumber, ice-breaker, postman, babysitter, dispatcher, laundry cleaner, lifeguard, electrician, ambassador, personal fitness trainer, fax expert, human jukebox, domestic abuse counselor, and verbal punching bag. Yes, I know room 112 is not answering their phone. And of course I have their travel itinerary so I know exactly where they went when they left here 9 hours ago, and what their cell phone number is.

I always know where to find the best vegetarian-kosher-Mongolian-barbecue restaurants. I know exactly what to see and do in this city in fifteen minutes without spending any money and without getting caught in traffic. I take personal blame for airline food, traffic jams, rental car flat tires, and the nation's economy.

I realize that you meant to book your reservation here. People often confuse us with the Galaxy Delight Motel, Antarctica. Of course I can "fit you in" and yes, you may have the special $1 rate because you are affiliated with the Hoboken Accounting and Bagel Club.

I am expected to smile, empathize, sympathize, console, condole, upsell, downsell (and know when to do which), perform, sing, dance, fix the printer, and tell your friends that you're here. And I know exactly where 613 Possum Trot Lane is in the Way Out There subdivision that they just built last week.

After all, I AM a Front Desk Agent!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Socially Awkward Penguin

As young people begin to mature, they learn valuable social lessons about how to be accepted - which behaviour is normal, and which is annoying to others. Some people have a hard time learning the basics, worrying too much about some things, while not even realizing their most embarrassing habits. This leads to awkward moments, where you feel foolish. This is normal, and happens to everybody, even adults, right? Right?

Here to explain further, the delightful Awkward Penguin:



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

America: Well, You Gotta Live Somewhere, by George Carlin

(The following excerpt is posted for non-commercial, educational purposes. I will remove it if requested. No lawsuits are necessary. Some words were censored to make it age appropriate.)

Well, Ya Gotta Live Someplace
by George Carlin

            I grew up in New York City and lived there until I was thirty.
            At the time, I decided I’d had enough of life in a dynamic, sophisticated city, so I moved to Los Angeles. Actually, I moved there because of the time difference. I was behind in my work, and wanted to pick up the extra three hours. Technically, for the last thirty years I’ve been living in my own past.
            I knew I didn’t want to move to the Midwest. I could never live in a place where the outstanding geographic feature is the horizon. The Midwest seems like a nice place to catch up on your sleep.
            Another reason I could never live in the Midwest is that it gets really cold there. You’ve heard of hypothermia and exposure? I could never be comfortable in a place where you can die simply by going out to the mailbox. Living in an area where an open window can cause death seems foolish to me.
            Of course, living in the South was never an option – the main problem being they have too much respect for authority; they’re soldier-sniffers and cop lovers. I don’t respect that, and I could never live with it. There’s also way too much religion in the South to be consistent with good mental health.
            Still, I love traveling down there, especially when I’m in the mood for a quick trip to the thirteenth century. I’m not someone who buys all that “New South” #*$@ you hear; I judge a place by the number of lynchings they’ve had, over-all. Atlanta even found it necessary to come up with an apologetic civic slogan: Atlanta: The City Too Busy to Hate. I think they’re trying to tell us something.
            There’s also the communications problem. I have trouble understanding Southerners. Some of them sound like they’re chewing on a *@#!. And I really have nothing against them individually; one by one they can be quite charming. But when you take them as a whole, there is some really dangerous genetic material floating around down there.
            So, I live in Los Angeles, and it’s kind of a goofy place. They have an airport named after John Wayne. That oughtta explain it. It has a charming kind of superstitious innocence.
            But if you really want to understand life in California, forget the grief clinics and yogaholics. Forget biofeedback, Feldenkrais, neurolinguistic programming, and the Alexander technique.
            Disregard spirit guides, centering groups, dream workshops, bioenergetics, pyramid energy, and primal therapy.
            Ignore centering, fasting, Rolfing, grounding, channeling, rebirthing, nurturing, self-parenting, and colon cleansing.
            And don’t even think about polarity work, inversion swings, flower essences, guided synchronicity, harmonic brain wave synergy, and psychocalisthenics.
            You also need pay no attention to nude volleyball, spinach therapy, white wine hot tubs, jogging on hot coals, and the people who sing Christmas carols to zoo animals.
            Forget all that. The only thing you have to know about California is this: They have traffic school for chocoholics.
            California is the only place where you might hear someone say, “Jason can’t come to the phone, he’s taking his wind lesson.”
            The problem most New Yorkers have with Los Angeles is that it is fragmented and lacks a vital center. The people have no common experience. Instead, they exude a kind of bemused detachment that renders them intensely uninteresting. The West Coast experience is soft and peripheral, New York is hard and concentrated. California is a small woman saying, “Fuck me.” New York is a large man saying, “Fuck you!”
            Still, I live in California. But I’m not “laid-back,” and I’m certainly not “mellow.” I associate those qualities with the comatose. The solar system wasn’t formed because matter was laid-back; life didn’t arise from the oceans and humans descend from the trees because DNA was mellow. It happened because of something called energy.
            New York has energy, and all I can say is this: If you can’t handle it, stay the #*$@ out. Living in New York is a character-builder; you must know who you are, what you’re doing, where you’re going, and how to get there. No b.s. tolerated! New York people are tough and resilient. All the rest of you are varying degrees of soft.
            Most outsiders can’t handle New York, so they wind up back in Big Loins Arkansas, badmouthing The City for the rest of their lives. Actually, most of the people who run New York down have never been there. And if they ever went, we would destroy them in nine minutes. People hate New York, because that’s where the action is, and they know it’s passing them by. Most of the decisions that control people’s lives are made in New York City. Not in Washington, not on Pennsylvania Avenue. In New York City! Madison Avenue and Wall Street. People can’t handle that. Pisses ’em off. #*$@ ’em!
            And I’m really glad the Yankees humiliated the Braves in the World Series. I’m glad the gritty, tough, Third-World, streetwise New York culture triumphed over the soft, suburban, wholesome, white-Christian, tacky mall culture of Atlanta. Overgrown small towns like Atlanta have no business in the major leagues in the first place.
            Concerning L.A. versus New York: I have now lived half my life in each of America’s two most hated, feared, and envied cities, and you want to know something? There’s no comparison. New York even has a better class of assholes. Even the lames in New York have a certain appealing, dangerous quality.
            As an example of how hopeless California is, when I first got there, a policeman gave me a ticket for jaywalking. You have to understand the kind of people who live in California. They are willing to stand, passive and inert, on a curb, when absolutely no traffic is coming, or maybe just a little traffic that could easily be dodged. They simply stand there obediently and wait for an electric light to give them permission to proceed. I couldn’t believe this cop. I laughed at him. The ticket cost me about twenty dollars in 1966. Since that time, I figure I have jaywalked an additional thousand times or so without being caught. #*$@ that lame-ass cop! I’ve managed to prorate that ticket down to about two cents a jaywalk.
            One thing I find appealing in California is the emphasis on driving. I like to drive, I’m skillful at it, and I do it aggressively. And I don’t mean I scream at people or flash them the finger. I simply go about my passage swiftly and silently, with a certain deliberate, dark efficiency. In the land of the unassertive, the aggressive man is king.
            Of course, in Los Angeles, everything is based on driving, even the killings. In New York, most people don’t have cars, so if you want to kill a person, you have to take the subway to their house. And sometimes on the way, the train is delayed and you get impatient, so you have to kill someone on the subway. That’s why there are so many subway murders; no one has a car. Basically, if more people in New York had cars, the subways would be a lot safer.
            I hope you can tell, the Apple is still number one in my heart. I’m so chauvinistic, I even root for New York to raise more money than Los Angeles on the Arthritis Telethon. And we usually do.
            California: bordering always on the Pacific and sometimes on the ridiculous. So, why do I live there?
            Because the sun goes down a block from my house.

Mass Media: Turn Down the Radio! by George Carlin

(The following excerpt is posted for non-commercial, educational purposes. I will remove it if requested. No lawsuits are necessary.)

Turn Down the Radio!
by George Carlin

Does anyone really listen to that crappy music they play on the radio? FM radio music? What’s it called” Adult contemporary? Classic rock? Urban rhythm and blues? You know what the official business name for that crap is? “Corporate standardized programming.” Just what an art form needs: corporate standardized programming. Derived from “scientific” surveys conducted by soulless businessmen.

            Here’s how bad it is: One nationwide chain that owns over a thousand radio stations conducts weekly telephone polls, asking listeners their opinions on twenty-five to thirty song “hooks” they play over the phone; hooks that the radio people have already selected. (Hooks are the short, repeated parts of pop songs that people remember easily.) Depending on these polls, the radio chain decides which songs to place on their stations’ playlists.

            Weeks later, they record the hooks of all the songs they’re currently playing on their stations across the country, label them by title and artist and sell that information to record companies to help create more of the same bad music. They also sell the information to competing radio stations that want to play what the big chain is playing. All of this is done to prevent the possibility of original thinking somehow creeping into the system.

            Lemme tell you something: In the first place, listening to music that someone else has picked out is not my idea of a good time. Second, and more important, the fact that a lot of people in America actually like the music automatically means it sucks. Especially since the people who like it have been told in advance by businessmen what it is they’re supposed to like. Please. Save me from people who’ve been told what to like and then like it.

            In my opinion, if you’re over six years of age, and you’re still getting your music from the radio, something is desperately wrong with you. I can only hope that somehow MP3 players and file sharing will destroy FM radio the way they’re destroying record companies. Then, even though the air will probably never be safe to breathe again, maybe it will be safer to listen to.

Mass Media: Anything But the Present, by George Carlin

(The following excerpt is posted for non-commercial, educational purposes. I will remove it if requested. No lawsuits are necessary. Some words were censored to make it age appropriate.)

Anything But The Present
by George Carlin
America has no now. We’re reluctant to acknowledge the present. It’s too embarrassing.
Instead, we reach into the past. Our culture is composed of sequels, reruns, remakes, revivals, reissues, re-releases, re-creations, re-enactments, adaptations, anniversaries, memorabilia, oldies radio, and nostalgia record collections. World War II has been refought on television so many times, the Germans and Japanese are now drawing residuals.
Of course, being essentially full of shit, we sometimes feel the need to dress up this past-preoccupation, as with pathetic references to reruns as “encore presentations.”
Even instant replay is a form of token nostalgia: a brief visit to the immediate past for reexamination, before slapping it onto a highlight video for further review and re-review on into the indefinite future.
Our “yestermania” includes fantasy baseball camps, where aging sad sacks pay money to catch baseballs thrown by men who were once their heroes. It is part of the fascination with sports memorabilia, a “memory industry” so lucrative it has attracted counterfeiters.
In this, the Age of Hyphens, we are truly retro-Americans.
And our television newscasts not only reflect this condition, they feed it. Everything they report is twisted into some reference to the past. If there’s to be a summit meeting, you’ll be told all about the last six summits; if there’s a big earthquake, they’ll do a story about big earthquakes of the past; if there’s a mine disaster, you will hear about every mine disaster since the inception of mining. They’re obsessed with looking back. I swear I actually heard this during a newscast, as the anchorman went to a commercial break: he said, “Still ahead, a look back.” Honest.
“A look back: Hurricane Hugo, one year later.” Why? The anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. For what reason? The anniversary of the Bay of Pigs, Pan Am Flight 103, the hostages in Iran, the fall of the Berlin Wall, V-J Day, V-E Day, Vietnam. Who gives a fuck?
Bugs Bunny’s 50th birthday, Lassie’s 55th, the Golden Jubilee of Gone With the Wind, the start of the Korean War, Barbie celebrates her 35th, the 25th anniversary of the New York blackout, Bambi turns 50. Shit, I didn’t even like Bambi when I was supposed to, how much do I care now?
There’s really no harm reviewing the past from time to time; knowing where you’ve been is part of knowing where you are, and all that happy horseshit. But the American media have an absolute fixation on this. They rob us of the present by insisting on the past. If they were able, I’m sure they would pay equal attention to the future. Trouble is, they don’t have any film on it.
And so, on television news there is, oddly, very little emphasis on the present; on today’s actual news. The present exists only in thirty-second stories built around eight-second sound bites. Remember, “sound bite” is their phrase. That’s what they give you. Just a bite. No chewing, no digestion, no nourishment. Malnutrition.
Another way they avoid the present moment is to look ahead on their own schedules. The television news industry seems to revolve around what’s coming next. “Still to come,” “Just ahead,” “Up next,” “Coming up this half-hour,” “More to come,” “Stay with us,” “Still ahead,” “Also, later . . .”
They even preview what’s going to happen as little as one hour later:  During the “Five O’Clock News”, the empty-headed prick who does the “Five O’Clock News” will suddenly say, “Here’s a look at what’s coming up on the ‘Six O’Clock News.” Then the empty-headed prick who does the “Six O’Clock News” will appear in shirtsleeves in the newsroom (to create the illusion of actual work) and tell you about several stories that the empty-headed prick who does the “Five O’Clock News” should already have told you about if he were really a newsman.
And so it goes, around the clock:  on the “Five O’Clock News,” they tell you about the “Six O’Clock News”; at six O’Clock, they tell you about eleven; at eleven, they plug the morning news; the morning man promos the noontime lady, and, sure enough, a little after noon, here comes that empty-headed prick from the “Five O’Clock News” to tell you what he’s going to do . . . on the “Five O’Clock News.”
You know, if a guy were paranoid, he might not be blamed for thinking that the people who run things don’t want you dwelling too much on the present.
Because, keep in mind, the news media are not independent; they are a sort of bulletin board and public relations firm for the ruling class – the people who run things. Those who decided what news you will or will not hear are paid by, and tolerated purely at the whim of, those who hold economic power. If the parent corporation doesn’t want you to know something, it won’t be on the news. Period. Or, at the very least, it will be slanted to suit them, and then barely followed up.
Enjoy your snooze.

Family - The Hardest Questions

1. What does family mean to you?

The basic answer, which everyone can agree on - "A family is a social unit."

Beyond that, this is a political question. The answer depends on your ideology.

Conservatives say, "A family consists of a mother, father, and their children. The mother and father should be married. This is a nuclear family. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are part of your extended family."

Liberals say, "A family consists of two people who love each other, whether straight or gay, and their children. Whether they choose to marry is up to them. Whether they want to have children is up to them. No one should feel forced into something they don't want." This ideology is more modern.

Then, some people feel, "Family is connected by blood. If they're not connected by blood, they're not part of my family." This attitude can apply to step-parents, step-children, your siblings' parents-in-law, second cousins, etc. You may agree or disagree. Usually it depends on family relations - how these people get along with each other. Some people consider close friends a part of the family.

When you answer this question, choose your words carefully.
-Is marriage necessary?
-Should marriage only be between a man and a woman?
-Can a friend can be a part of the family?

You might indicate an answer without even realizing, by the words you choose.

2. What are the functions of a family?

The book, Yes!, gives a very technical answer, it sounds like a robot is speaking:

"It fulfils a biological, sociological, emotional, economic, and educational need in modern society."

It's right, but what does it mean? Let's make it simple.

The functions of a family are:
1. to provide love, emotional support, and understanding both day to day, and when tragedy strikes,
2. to take care of each other, especially when sick, injured, or elderly, and
3. to plan together where to live, and how to earn, save, and spend money.
4. For families with children, functions include raising them, preparing them for adulthood, and teaching them right from wrong, social norms, and practical skills.
5. Children also have a role to play, helping and learning from their parents, and they have to study and prepare for adultood.

3. What is cohabitation, and what do you think of it?

Cohabitation is when a couple lives together, out of wedlock. They love each other, but they don't want to marry. Is it good or bad? It's up to you. Here are three possible answers:

1. Con - I'm against cohabitation because:
               1. If you and the one you love live together, you shouldn't live in sin. You need God's blessing, especially before having sex.
               2. If you and your significant other really love each other, you should get married, because it's a promise to be faithful (no cheating), forever. Why can't you make that promise? What are you afraid of?
               3. Marriage isn't just about love. It's about sharing your whole life with one person who really knows you. You don't want to be alone, do you?
               4. Your parents won't like it if you don't get married. And other people will think you're strange.
               5. What will you tell your children, when they ask about marriage?
               6. There are tax benefits (at least in America) for marrying, and it makes it easier to visit your spouse in the hospital. It also makes joint bank accounts easier, and joint wills when you die.

2. Pro - I'm for cohabitation because:
               1. I don't think marriage has anything to do with love.
               2. A mariage is hard to get out of. Divorce is messy and expansive. You need lawyers, and you fight about who gets what.
               3. We all know people change over time, and want different things, so why stay with someone who doesn't make you happy?
               4. I don't want to be dependent on anyone. I don't need any help, and I can take care of my children on my own. Or, maybe I don't want to have children.
               5. I don't care what anyone else thinks. It's my life.

3. I support cohabitation for a time, but I think it should lead to marriage.
               1. I think any strong relationship should lead to marriage, but cohabitation is a good way to see if your partner is right for you.
               2. When you live together, you find out what all the problems are, and if you can make compromises.
               3. I support marriage because it's a promise of love, support, and fidelity (no cheating).

4. Why do people get divorced?

It's not as simple as drugs, gambling, and alcohol. The short answer is:

"Love is complicated, and not everyone is ready for marriage."

What is love anyway? Well, there are different kinds.

Platonic Love is the love you feel for your family and friends. You respect them, you know them really well, you care and worry about them.

Platonic Love = respect + understanding + worry

Romantic Love is similar, but it's so strong it shocks you. You're surprised you could feel so strongly about someone. And it also mixes all these feelings with lust, or libido (silná túžba) - a strong sexual desire.

Romantic Love = respect + understanding + worry + surprise + lust

There are many problems that arise with lust:

1. Lust is a feeling that's separate from love. Feelings of lust are controlled by chemicals and hormones in the brain, and can be triggered by visual and sensory stimuli. So, when someone says they want you, how do you know they really love you? Maybe, they only want sex?

2. Since Lust is separate from love, some people can feel both emotions at the same time, for different people. Lust is like temporary insanity. It makes bad ideas seem like good ones. Any normal person will tell you, don't have sex with someone you don't respect, don't have sex with someone you wouldn't want to have children with, and don't have unprotected sex with strangers. All of these bad ideas might sound better when your lust is aroused. Just remember, the pleasure lasts a moment, but the consequences last a lifetime.

3. Since lust is controlled by chemicals which come and go in our lives, our interest in sex changes. Men sexually peak at 17, whereas women peak at 27 - so there's only one time in your life when you and your spouse will have the same level of interest. Very often a relationship suffers because one partner loses interest in sex. How do you solve this? Should the other partner have sex despite his/her lack of interest? Should you fake it? Would that be any fun for either of you?

4. Lust isn't just chemical, there's a psychological aspect to it as well. People connect their self-esteem, at least partially, to sex - it tells them how attractive they are, how special, etc. So, what if you're not satisfying your partner? What if he/she's not telling you? These worries can lead to doubt, jealousy, and marital troubles.

5. In addition, many people have fantasies and fetishes that may be embarrassing - some people like blonde hair, some like lingerie, and then some are strange and disturbing. Is it possible your partner is hiding something from you? Is the fetish even normal, or is it unhealthy?

6. Some people have suffered abuse and/or other trauma. Some people have been taught it's "evil", and try to suppress their feelings of lust.

But lust isn't the only problem. Every aspect of love can be problematic:

1. Love is a very powerful emotion, and when you feel it, you think it will never end. But it can and will, if you don't work to keep it alive.

2. Love is mostly an intense respect for your partner, meaning you both have to be respectable. And that's hard!

To be respectable you have to be: intelligent, modest, caring, understanding, honest, faithful, and very, very patient. You have to be a saint! And not just one day, but your whole life!

Many young people underestimate the importance of patience. When you ask a teenager which qualities are most attractive in a partner, they never say patience.
To be respectable, it also helps to have a job, and to win the respect of your peers and colleagues, which is hard. Winning others' respect is tied to the fine art of charisma - knowing what to say, and when to say it. Meanwhile, everyone has some embarrassing features, and your spouse will be the first to know it, and tell everyone.

3. The quickest way to end love is through anger. That's why patience is so important. Unfortunately, the longer two people live together, the less patience they have with each other. No matter how much you love someone, they will eventually make you angry - they will break something you love. They might spill tea on your computer. They might scratch your car while parking. They might crap the bed.

They'll probably feel guilty about it. It's up to you to make them feel better, not worse.

You also need to catch yourself before starting an argument, to think before speaking, and to consider how to defuse a situation before a fight begins.

4. One of the most common problems with love is that people fall in love with a bad person. Maybe he's charming? Maybe she's beautiful? Maybe he's caring, and maybe she's loving. But they don't have all the qualities it takes for marriage. Many people don't really know who it is they're marrying.

"You don't really know someone until you fight them." - The Matrix

Then, too late, they discover... their spouse is a liar, a cheater, a jealous type, an abusive monster, a gambler, an attention seeker, addicted to spending money, etc. A lot of this has to do with maturity. Many people just aren't that mature.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pros and Cons of Transportation


Advantages (Pros):
1. It’s the fastest way to travel.
2. It’s the safest way to travel – safer than walking.
3. You get free food, drinks, and your own entertainment console.
4. You can play games or watch films.
5. The bathrooms are clean.
6. The view is always beautiful, day or night.
7. You can buy duty free products, meaning tax-free.

Disadvantages (Cons):
1. Planes are very expensive, although you can sometimes find deals.
2. Planes are scary. They have turbulence, and every plane makes a different strange noise.
3. Planes are often delayed. You might wait for hours before a flight, during a flight, or after you land.
4. Airports are never in a city center. They are always outside of town, so you have to use another kind of transport to get to town – a car, a taxi, or a bus.
5. Airport security is often rude, and they want to look through your things. They’ll take away any liquids, and sometimes they’ll take your laptop computer. They might even check your laptop for illegal downloads. Sometimes they strip search a passenger.
6. Everyone is afraid of terrorists on a plane.
7. Sometimes an airport will lose your luggage - and instead of finding it, they might just sell it at auction. The Discovery Channel has a TV show devoted to this, called Baggage Battles. Watching these people root through personal belongings makes me want to vomit:


Advantages (Pros):
1. Trains are the most relaxing way to travel. You can get up, stretch your legs, and go to the restroom without having to stop the train.
2. Many trains have a dining car, and some are quite luxurious.
3. Train stations will take you straight to the center of any city.
4. They aren’t so expensive and you can get special tourist or student discounts.
5. Some night trains have sleeping cabins with real beds.
6. With the right people you can have a good conversation.
7. The views are also nice.

Disadvantages (Cons):
1. Some trains are older and dirtier. It depends on the country.
2. Some trains don’t have air conditioning, and can be very hot or cold.
3. Trains can be scary if you’ve ever seen a train wreck.
4. Sometimes you meet strange people on trains. They might be drunk. They might ask for money. Sometimes groups of teenage boys will harass young women.
5. Sometimes a train will split up along the way, and you have to be on the right side or you’ll arrive at the wrong destination.


Advantages (Pros):
1. Buses are usually cheaper.
2. There are different kinds of buses: city buses, airport and hotel shuttles (which are usually free), long distance buses (Greyhound in America), and tour buses.
3. Tour buses can take you on budget vacations to see different cities and countries.
4. Tour buses and long distance buses usually have a bathroom.
5. Some bus drivers will make a special stop for you – you’ll be closer to where you want to go.
6. With the right people you can have a good conversation.

Disadvantages (Cons):
1. Buses are cramped and uncomfortable. Cramped means you don’t have enough space to relax. You can’t lean your seat back, and it’s hard to put your feet up.
2. Bus bathrooms are usually gross. They smell horrible. In Europe, most bus drivers tell you not to use the bus toilet because there’s nowhere to dump it out.
3. Buses sometimes have accidents, and they can be dangerous. Drivers sometimes drive for a very long time, and become tired.
4. Waiting at a bus stop in bad weather is not fun. There’s never a bus when you need one.


Advantages (Pros):
1. You can go wherever you want, whenever you want – to the exact spot.
2. You can stop wherever and whenever you want, when you’re tired or hungry.
3. You don’t need to worry about stations or schedules.
4. Cars are often stylish, and tell you something about their owners. There are many kinds of cars for different needs.
5. You can drive a car for fun, to explore your area, or find friends. Some roads are really fun to drive.
6. In America, many teens drive along a town strip (the main drag) to find out about parties and meet new people.
7. With the right people you can have a good conversation.

Disadvantages (Cons):
1. Cars and petrol (gasoline) are expensive.
2. Cars are statistically the most dangerous way to travel – a car is a 1,000 Kg bomb on four wheels.
3. Some drivers are drunk, and some are reckless. Many drivers are impatient, and try to pass when it’s not safe.
4. Roads are also dangerous with hidden curves, sudden stops, pot holes, construction, and other obstacles – like ice, fallen trees, trash, pieces of tires, etc.
5. Cars can break down, get flat tires, or run out of gas. You could be stranded far from help.
6. Driving for a long time is stressful and tiring.
7. Sometimes people complain about the music, and who can sit in front, “riding shotgun”.
8. Road Rage - when drivers get angry and fight each other.

Bicycles (Bikes)/Motorbikes

Advantages (Pros):
1. Bikes are a healthy form of exercise, if you don’t have an accident.
2. Bikes and even motorbikes are more eco-friendly than other forms of transportation.
3. Bicycles are practical for short distances.
4. Motorbikes are practical in highway traffic.
5. In a city, bicycles are often faster than cars, which have to stop at red lights.
6. Bikes take up less space in parking lots.
7. Bikes are cheaper than cars.
8. You can also travel door to door.

Disadvantages (Cons):
1. Bikes and motorbikes are dangerous. If you have an accident, you could be run over or crushed. You should wear a helmet.
2. They’re uncomfortable in bad weather, when it’s cold or raining.
3. Cycling can make you sick in cold weather, especially your tonsils.
4. Bikes are slower than other vehicles.
5. Many bigger vehicles don’t like bikes. They might hit you.


Advantages (Pros):
1. They’re fun. You usually take a boat to get to an island, to see dolphins and whales, or to tour a harbour. You get a great view.
2. Many larger boats have a restaurant or café.
3. Some boats have a glass bottom so you can see fish.
4. Ferries can take cars, buses, and even trains across water.

Disadvantages (Cons):
1. They’re slow.
2. Seasickness can be terrible, especially during storms.
3. Icebergs – a sinking ship is a scary thing.
4. Rogue waves. A rogue wave is one or more very large waves that can hit a ship and flip it over, even during a calm, peaceful, sunny day. They've existed as legend for centuries, but have only been proven in modern times. No one knows what makes them, or when or where they might strike.


Advantages (Pros):
1. It’s good exercise.
2. It’s fun for your dog.
3. You can stop and smell the roses, or talk to your neighbours.
4. You can always wear roller skates.
5. When shopping, you’ll buy less and save money, when you know you have to carry everything home.

Disadvantages (Cons):
1. Walking is very slow.
2. It can be dangerous because of cars. You have to be careful where you walk.
3. Walking when drunk is also dangerous. Many older people are found dead in winter, trying to walk home from a bar.
4. You also have to worry about thieves.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Visual Art Vocabulary


A drawing is a picture made by hand, with mark making. Drawing is one of the most important arts because

1. It's intimate and personal. Everyone draws differently.
2. It's also crucial (veľmi dôležitý) in design, because it's cheap, fast, and you can draw anywhere. You don't need a studio. Everything you buy, everything you wear, every film you see, they all start out as drawings.

Traditionally, drawings are done on paper. Media include:

graphite (pencil drawing) (grafit)

Portrait, by Lucas Graciano

charcoal (uhlie)

Jean-Marie, by Nathan Fowkes

conté crayon (rudka)

Portrait, by Emily Gordon

Conté crayon is like charcoal - it is charcoal, really, only compressed and mixed with wax (vosk) or clay (hlina). This makes it stronger and harder, so it's easier to draw thin, fine details.

markers (fixy)

Markers are typically for children, but expensive, artist's brands such as Copic and Prismacolor have become popular, especially in comics.
Iron Man Pre-Convention Commission by Jeff "Chamba" Cruz

Adam Hughes makes some of the best comic covers in the industry.

ink (atrament)

Kurama Sanctuary, by Rémi Maynègre

When you draw with ink, you can use a pen, brush (štetec), or both together.

If you want to paint over an ink drawing, make sure it's oil based ink! Otherwise, it'll ruin the lines as they bleed and mix with the wash.

Ink is one of the few wet media that's still considered drawing, even when you use a brush. This is mostly because pen and ink are traditionally black and white. But, drawing doesn't have to be black and white. There are

colored pencils

Illuminate, by Zeldis, Maria

and pastel

The Haymaker (detail), by Sir George Clausen

Pastels blur the line between drawing and painting. It's a dry medium, and you draw with pastels like with a pencil, but the product looks like a painting. So, what do you call it? A pastel. Also note, pastels are the most toxic medium in art. They're pure pigment, meaning chemicals like cadmium, cobalt, chromium, and lead (olovo), and they create dust which you might breathe in.


Painting is drawing with paint and brushes (štetky) [and sometimes palette knives (špachtle)]. While drawings are usually black and white, paintings usually use many different colours. Drawings are usually dry, whereas paintings are wet. Paints are what you put on a palette (paleta). Your painting usually sits on an easel (stojan). You clean your brushes with soap, solvents (rozpúšťadlo), and rags (handry).

egg tempera

Some of the earliest paintings that still exist are frescoes and egg tempera. Egg tempera is described in this video, it's egg yolk (vajcový žĺtok), water, pigment, and a bit of vinegar (ocot). Tempera is water-based and opaque (nepriesvitný). It was mostly painted on wooden boards. Student quality tempera, like they sell in TESCO isn't really tempera. It's a cheap imitation - real egg tempera spoils quickly, so you have to make it fresh.

Roman Mummy Portrait, artist unknown
Fayum, Egypt, 24 AD

The painting above is one of the earliest examples of egg tempera painting. Romans would hire an artist to paint the portrait of important people who died, before burial. The portrait was placed in the tomb (hrobka) with the corpse (mŕtvola). The proportions are off (look how long her nose is), but otherwise, the skill in this one is remarkable - it makes me wonder if it's a fake. If you click on it, you'll see how egg tempera lends itself to cross-hatching (šrafovanie šikmé).


Frescos are paintings on walls, usually inside a building. The idea was to draw a sketch on the wall, and then mix pigment with wet plaster (sadra), quickly painting the picture in sections, before the plaster dried. Frescoes decorated homes in ancient times. Though most ancient painting is long gone, we do have some examples from Egyptian tombs (painted fresco a secco, meaning they painted over dry plaster), and from Pompeii, where a volcanic eruption buried and preserved some Roman frescoes for over a thousand years.

Reading of Bridal Rituals, artist unknown
Villa of Mysteries, Pompeii 60 BC

Oil Paint

If you watched that video on egg tempera above, you'll see that artists like Da Vinci experimented with oil based paints. Oil became popular for several reasons.

1. they take a long time to dry, from days to weeks, depending on the colour. So they're very easy to blend, rework, and correct.

2. Because some of the colours are translucent, meaning see-through, you can create an excellent sense of depth, glazing the painting with thin layers of translucent color. You have to see it in person to appreciate it.

Cherries, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
rocks oil paints, 1873

3. They don't simply dry like Tempera. They cure (tvrdnúť). This means if you spill liquid on a dry painting, it won't ruin the colours. They won't reactivate, so you can wipe it off, as good as new. After a Tempera painting dries, it's very delicate (krehký), and you have to be careful not to scratch it.

Oil paintings were originally done on wooden panels, following the same methods as egg tempera, but as the renaissance progressed, artists began painting on canvas (plátno). Traditional oil paintings are covered in a layer of varnish (náter), so that they still look wet, even after they're dry.

A word of warning. Traditional varnish turns yellow over time, changing the colours.

You can remove the varnish, and put on a new layer of fresh varnish. Art restorers sometimes do this to an oil painting, but there are now some new kinds of varnish which shouldn't turn yellow over time. Anyway, with modern, high quality paints, you don't need to use varnish.


Watercolour gets its name from being water-based. It's usually done on thick, watercolour paper. All watercolour paints are translucent. Traditional watercolour doesn't have white paint. Like drawing, the white of the paper is the white. Watercolour gained acceptance as a high art in the renaissance, around the same time as oil paint.

Hare, by Albrect Dürer, 1502

One of the greatest watercolourists was the American painter Winslow Homer.

Under the Falls, by Winslow Homer, 1895

Acrylic Paint

Oil is the standard medium for professional, fine-art painting. But, acrylic paint, a 20th century invention, is becoming popular. Acrylic is a kind of liquid plastic that also cures. Once acrylic dries completely, you can't wet it again. The main difference from oil is

1. Acrylic is water-based, making it popular in schools, because it's safer. There are no toxic fumes to breathe in.

2. They also dry much faster. This makes it easier for sketching outdoors, and carrying your work with you - you don't want to drop a wet oil painting while you carry it back to the car, and the smell of it can make you sick on a long drive.

Despite those differences, companies like Golden Acrylics try to make their paints act in much the same way as oil paint. They have the same names, and opaque/translucent characteristics. Acrylic can look a lot like oil when it's finished:

Hawaii House, by Nathan Fowkes

But if you see it in person, you can usually see it's acrylic, because acrylic paint looks a bit like rubber when it's dry.

If you mix acrylic with lots of water (hard to do, as the water makes acrylic want to clump into little bits) you can make acrlyic seem like a water colour. The advantage is, you can paint in layers, and you don't have to worry about reactivating the dry layers - they won't mix together and muddy your painting.

Goddess, acrylic, by Bill Presing, artist at Pixar

brushes (štetky)

Brushes are categorized by shape, size, and by the kind of hair - soft or stiff. Stiff hog hair is great for thick oil paint, and softer sable or nylon is great for watercolour. You don't need to know all the different shapes of brushes. Just this:

1. Flat brushes are all you need for oil and acrylic.
2. A big round sable brush is all you really need for watercolour sketching.
3. Start with a big brush, then use small brushes at the end.
4. Clean them! Don't let the paint dry on your brushes, or it's trash.

Digital Painting

Many illustrators now paint digitally, using Photoshop and other software, because it's fast, it's easy to change and correct mistakes, and it's easy to print in the advertising, publishing, and comics industries. The best digital painters try to replicate the textures and effects of traditional painting. You might think it's an oil painting or watercolour, but it's really digital.

Portrait Sketch by Daniel Clarke

They do this by making custom brushes:

custom brushes used by Scott Fischer


Sculpture is three dimensional art. It can be any size, style, or material. Sculpture tools include a hammer (kladivo), chisel (dláto), rasp (rašpľa), and file (pilník).

A statue is a sculpture that looks like a person:

Diana of Gabies, Roman, 14-37 AD

If a statue is small, or miniature, it's called a figurine:

Farmer and daughter, artist unknown
ivory (slonovina), Japanese, 19th C.

A relief is a cross between sculpture and drawing. It's two-and-a-half dimensions - a carving on the side of a wall. You use the light of the sun to create lines of shadows, to "draw". There is high relief:

Preparation for an Animal Sacrifice, artist uknown,
Roman 100-125 AD

And, there is low, or bas-relief (it's thinner):

Every coin is an example of bas-relief.

Common sculpture materials include:


Orka mother and pup, by Steve Blanchard and Co.

marble (mramor)

Amore and Psyche, by Antonio Canova, Neoclassical

granite (žula)

If you want your art to last forever, use granite:

Pharoah Menkaura & Queen, artist uknown,
Egyptian, 2,490-2,472 BC - looks like it was made yesterday


Bronze is another great material for long lasting art, if you don't mind it turning black. There's just one problem - Bronze is a precious metal. Someone might want to melt your art to make their own. It's happened to many great masterpieces, especially to art by the ancient Greeks.

Discobulus, by Myron
Roman copy of a Greek statue that was melted down

steel [stainless won't rust (hrdzavieť)] - a 20th century material

Imperial Water Dragon, by Kevin Stone,
Metalanimation Studio Inc.

silver (hey, if you can afford it, why not?)

King Henry IV of France, as a boy, by François Joseph Bosio
cast in silver by Charles-Nicolas Odiot
Terracotta Warriors,  Qin Shi Huang's Tomb, 210 BC

plaster cast (sadrová forma)

Plaster looks like marble, but it's not. It's a powder, made of lime (vápno) or gypsum (gyps) that mixes with water to make a thick, creamy liquid, which heats up and hardens into a solid. The process takes about twenty minutes.

Charles Reed Bishop, by Allen Hutchinson
a sculpture of someone's head is called a bust.

Plaster is softer than stone, and scratches easily. But, it's great for making molds. You can make a mold of anything with plaster, and it copies every detail:


Fern Green Tower, by Dale Chihuly, 1999


Ice sculptures don't last so long, but they look really nice!

artist unknown

Print making

Engraving, etching, woodcuts, lithography