Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Here's one thing I miss about living in Las Vegas: the NYSE opened at 6:30AM local time. I would wake up early, make a cup of tea or coffee, and the market would have just opened. It was like Christmas, every weekday.

Oh, and it never rained. That was awesome.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Kaku Michio & Our Godlike Grandchildren

Brian Bolduc, writing for the WSJ, reviewed Kaku Michio's latest book, "Physics of the Future." Kaku is a technologist, in that he thinks technology will fix all of our problems, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Kaku claims:

If you could meet your grandkids as elderly citizens in the year 2100, you would view them as being, basically, Greek gods.
This is because they'll be so technologically advanced, that they'll spend all of their time in tanning salons, reading Aristotle & Plato. I'd like to imagine how awesome a first meeting would be, if I could transport myself into the future and meet my elderly grandchild.

...keerrrrrr... ... BLAAAAAMMMM!
(A brilliant blue light fills the nursing home bedroom of my great grandson. A tear in the space-time continuum opens and I step out, wearing my Birkenstocks)

Zeus Egan: (Gasp!) Who's there!?

Me: It is I! Your grandfather! I have traveled here from 2012 to find out about all of the amazing things that exist in the year 2100!

Zeus Egan: That's weird. I have memories of you in your 70s and 80s and you didn't have a time machine.

Me: First of all, just ignore that for now. Second, that's awesome that I make it into my 80s. But, tell me about the future! Is there peace in the Middle East? When was disease eradicated? Is America a more equitable place to live? Do we still torture cows and chickens?

Zeus Egan: (Leaning forward in his floating wheelchair) What!?


Zeus Egan: Oh yeah, we still do that. In fact, wait till you see what we've done to animals. We found out a way to grow them in nugget form. They don't form internal organs or heads anymore. You just take them out of the cage and toss them, whole, into a deep fryer. And they fully develop inside of a week.

Me: That's seriously fucked up. I remember seeing a documentary when I was in my 20s of a cow that had a plastic device surgically grafted onto its stomach. A farmer could open this plug thing, and see directly into the cow's stomach. That way, the farmer could stuff corn in there and not have to wait for the cow for chew it.

Zeus Egan: I don't even know that I could identify a cow if you showed me one. Do they bark like dogs?

Me: Let's change the subject. What about disease? Has technology cured us of all illness? There was an author in my time that thought we would be diagnosed 10 years before showing symptoms.

Zeus Egan: Oh! Of course. There is nothing that isn't curable now (cough, cough, COUGH!)

Me: Ugh. You sound sick as shit. Why haven't you been cured yet?

Zeus Egan: Do you have any idea how expensive medical care is!? I should have had this thing on my leg looked at years ago, but who can afford treatment?

Me: Oh my God! That's disgusting! What the fuck is that!?

Zeus Egan: I don't know. Weren't you listening? I haven't had it looked at. I broke my ankle as a kid, so I could only ever get insurance through work. My deductible would be like $100,000.

Me: What about Medicare & Medicaid?

Zeus Egan: Those are long gone. Republicans killed both programs to balance the budget.

Me: So we have a balanced budget now?

Zeus Egan: Nope. Never even came close. They used all the money to fund other stuff.

Me: Well, what do you have that we didn't have in 2012?

Zeus Egan: Oh, well you should see our computers. They're awesome. They're really fast and you can update your Facebook status with your mind. You just think something, and it goes directly to your page. There's no turning it off. And I get bombarded all day long with updates from everyone I've ever met. This guy who sold me car insurance just told everyone on Facebook that he's watching reruns of Whitney. I gave it a thumbs up.

Me: Ugh. That sounds terrible.

Zeus Egan: Well what made 2012 so awesome? All the dinosaurs? That sounds too scary for me.

Me: Dinosaurs? You're off by about 165 million years. Was that a joke?

Zeus Egan: No, it wasn't a joke. The schools are terrible. If someone took away my bio-nano-bots, I wouldn't know how to tie my own shoes.

Me: OK. I've seen enough. Kaku Michio has no idea what he's talking about.

Zeus Egan: Unless you're in the .1%.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Days 4 through 6

We left Urgup on Saturday morning -- caught a flight from Kayseri to Izmir via Istanbul (we flew Pegasus). Inside the terminal at Izmir, there was a row of car rental places, like Avis and Enterprise, and we had to leave the terminal and walk across the street and find a guy holding a sign for our rental company. They received good reviews online and they were half the cost of the major rental chains. This guy drove us to a place about 10 min. away and then walked behind the counter and was also the guy renting us the car. An older man walked in and out of the office, but his job wasn't so clear. Our driver/salesman could barely speak English and he tried to overcharge us for a KGS card (it's Turkish fastlane -- 20 lira on the side of the highway, 50 through him). That may have been his side business because the car rental place was legit and we haven't had any issues. After renting the car, we drove about 10 min. on the highway (we were told the speed limits were 50kmh in the cities, 90 on the highways, and 120 on the autobahn) and I ran a red light (not thinking that I would see a red light on a highway), right in front of a cop. The light on the highway was green, and then yellow, but I still didn't think it was about to turn red. Don't ask why. I was also speeding by quite a bit, but the ticket was only for the light, I think. The ticket was around $70.

Here's another fun fact: Turkey has the highest gas prices in the world. We had rented a tiny car, a Hyundai Getz, and we drove it away from the rental company with an empty tank. I looked it up online, and that car has a gas tank that holds less than 12 gallons. We *nearly* filled it for more than $70. I think we paid about 4.30 lira per liter for 95 octane. We could go higher, to 97, but those were our only unleaded options. There is a cheaper option, a blend of petrol and natural gas for engines that can handle it (taxis and commercial vehicles, I think), for half that price. That, coupled with our ticket, significantly bumped the cost of renting a car, but it was still a pretty reasonable option, if driving in a foreign country doesn't scare the bejesus out of you.

The signage in Turkey is confusing if you don't know which city you're driving toward, so we also took a wrong turn and got lost. We actually went in a big loop and 15 minutes later, drove by our rental company again and the same speed trap. We handled the red light better the second time around and we both just prayed that the cop on the shoulder didn't recognize our car. The rest of the driving was pretty uneventful. The roads in Turkey are very well-maintained and not so busy. It was actually nicer than driving in the northeast US. The only downside was that the highways weren't clearly marked and usually the signs for exits only had the cities you were pointed toward. We made it to Selcuk in an hour and a half after being lost, and found our hotel pretty quick. Selcuk was a bigger town than Urgup, but not more than maybe 30,000 people. Our second hotel (Nilya) was nice, but nearly as big as our first. I posted a picture earlier of D jumping on the bed there. The owner of the hotel brought us some refreshments to welcome us and then we went to the Efes Museum in town. Selcuk is a large town next to the ruins of Ephesus, a Greek colony and later, the second largest city in the Roman empire. There are beautifully preserved ruins there, but it's quite an attraction and there are mobs of tourists. We learned a little about the site from the museum and then went back to our hotel for dinner. We tried the mezzes (little dishes like tapas) and the food was wonderful, as everywhere. I took some pictures with our digital camera, but without a USB cord, they're trapped until next week. The next day was raining, the first of our trip, but we still pressed on to see Efes (Ephesus). I took some videos of D narrating the sites, and if she'll let me, I'll post those next week. The star of the site is the rebuilt facade of the library, the third largest of the ancient world (after Alexandria and somewhere else). We grabbed lunch after about 3 hours of wandering around, and then drove to Aphrodisias. Aphrodisias is another restored Roman city, but unlike Efes, it's barely visited. Both of us preferred Afrodisias to Efes, actually. I also have video that I'll post later. A Turk who studied at NYU was the driving force behind restoring the ruins there, and he died in the 1990s. I'm not sure how much work has been done since his passing. The museum attached to the site is more impressive and beautiflly displayed than the museum in Selcuk for Efes. We left Afrodisias for Pamukkale, where we had rented a room at the Melrose House Hotel. We had to drive through the night to get there, and we battled the worst fog I've ever seen along the way. People were blowing past us on the highway, and I couldn't see 5 feet in front of the car. It was one of the most nerve-wracking expereinces of the trip. On day 5, we went to the hot springs at Pamukkale and saw more ruins of Roman cities. D had started to get sick, and I think being out in the drizzle that day probably pushed her over the edge. We had a four hour drive from Pamukkale to Fethiye, on the Aegean coast. We arrived late on the fifth day and just checked in and got dinner. While we were eating at the hotel restaurant, an older Swedish couple joined us. Immediately, I was annoyed. I looked around the restaurant and saw one or two other tables that were still empty, and I couldn't figure out why they were joining us. I knew they were going to be chatty too, so I doubly annoyed. Well, let me say that A) I was right, and B) I feel like a real asshole for being annoyed by them. They were awesome people, and at the end of the night, Anders and Brigetta invited us back to their house boat for drinks. They had a number of different jobs and worked all over the world, including a period where Anders worked in the US for Proctor & Gamble. On our way to the boat, they bumped into an American couple they had met while sailing years ago, Bunny and Bob (from upstate New York, originally), and they agreed to join us. So we all had some wine and whisky and chatted about traveling, using the internet on a boat, sailing the world as a retirement option, and other stuff. It's a shame Daniela's dad wasn't there, because I think he would really have liked the conversation. We went to bed after 1am on Tuesday morning, Turkish time. We spent three nights in Fethiye, sailing around the Aegean coast of Turkey, swimming, and being in the sun. I'll update again later as someone else wants to use this laptop.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Breakfast at Esans -- we can see the Hagia Sophia from this rooftop terrace as well as Asia, across the Bosporus.

- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Pictures of D at the Blue Mosque & the Hagia Sophia. She was IRATE that some women entered the Blue Mosque without covering their heads.

- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Retirement Planning 101

We had dinner last night with a wonder Swedish couple, Anders and Brigitta, who invited us back to their house boat afterward. They saw another American couple that they knew, Bob and Bunny, who also came back with us. We had whiskey and wine while they told us all of these great stories about sailing all over the world in their retirement. It was a really nice night despite the terrible pictures below.

- Posted from my iPhone

Monday, October 17, 2011


Hot springs at Pamukkale, with the ancient ruins of Hierapolis just above the pools. Gave a nice backdrop for a dip. Also, they put chunks of Roman columns into the water. Nice touch.

- Posted from my iPhone