Relics Insult My Intelligence

People often throw around the word “relic” without giving thought to what they’re saying.  First off, there’s the word’s religious version that refers to the shard of a saint’s bone… among other things.  Then there’s the use of the term to describe something really really old, like this:

When in Rome, roam like the Romans.

One might call this a relic of an ancient civilization.

And then one might refer to an Apple IIe as a technological relic.

And the oldest teacher at your child’s school might be designated a relic as well.

Your dishwasher might also be a relic, though not because of any added respect because of lengthy experience or significance in history.  You probably call it a relic because it’s dead.

And at that point, the word “relic” loses all of its meaning… unless we’re talking about something I own that no longer works properly.  Then it’s a relic because I’m special and, because of that, it’s special too.

Or it would be special if it weren’t broken…

Leaves Insult My Intelligence

I had a dream.  I was walking around in Innsbruck, Austria and I discovered a crystal blue river.  I followed that river because it provided a most excellent view of the town on the other side:

It's almost such a beautiful scene.

It’s almost such a beautiful scene.

However, as you can see from this picture, there was a problem.  Nature was interfering by getting between me and nature.

That’s not a misprint.  Nature got in the way of nature in my dream.  I suppose that means those leaves must have a compelling psychological significance.

If you read this blog regularly, you already know that I’m not into deeper contemplations that might bring about inspiration or anything like that.  So the interpretation of my dream is very simple… and I’m sure you’ll let me know what it is once you figure it out.

Feeding the Bears Insults My Intelligence

If you visit Bern, Switzerland, you’re likely to find a pit at the end of town that contains a few friendly-looking bears:

Switzerland is a zoo.

If I were one of these bears, I’d miss the little things like grass and trees.

However, Switzerland is a zoo… especially during tourist season.  And do you know what happens in a zoo?

Inappropriate feeding:

Here's a closer look at the same image.

Here’s a closer look at the same image.  Notice the parent and child in the upper right.

As the sign often says, “Do not feed the bears.”  But if you must feed them, please remember that your kid is not appropriate for a bear’s dinner.  The bear may enjoy him, but you’re inviting a lot of trouble on yourself.

The quiet ain’t worth it.

Earthtones Insult My Intelligence

Spring means that many tourist attractions lose some of their earthtones.

Vienna is home to manicured gardens and exhausted gardeners.

Vienna is home to manicured gardens and exhausted gardeners.


There’s also a downside.  The worst thing that could happen to me today is being asked to help with gardening.  If you don’t like brown flowers, find your free labor elsewhere.

I’ll be busy enjoying a job application and maybe a can of tuna.

Monumental Buildings Insult My Intelligence

There’s no such thing as a monumental building.  It’s all in how you look at it.

It towers above me.

It towers above me.

As you can tell from the picture, this building has only three or four stories.  Looks bigger here, doesn’t it?

It’s more fun to be small and let the little things tower over you.  You don’t need an Eiffel Tower to be awed; monuments are where you find them.

This has been your budget travel tip for the day.  Stay thrifty, my friends.

Frozen Romances Insult My Intelligence


Unfortunately, everyone thinks the sights are beautiful.

Welcome to Venice, home of semi-romantic gondola rides and hordes of tourists.  Unfortunately, those rides aren’t as lovely as you might imagine because those bridges and shores function as streets.  And there’s people on them there streets and they’re all looking at you, or so it seems.

Kissy kissy!

And so you look back at them.  Nothing gets seafaring lovers in the mood quite like watching a bunch of people eating, walking, and carrying their loot around.  Especially when it’s cold.

And it’s even colder on the water… cold enough to make anyone frigid.  Pun intended.

Staying with the Tour Insults My Intelligence


Ahhhh…. peace and quiet amid the tourist chaos.

Ladies and Gentlemen, today I present unto you a wall.  Actually two of them… with windows and doors and fun stuff like that.   This abandoned side street will reward your refusal to follow the crowds when traveling in a small Italian town.  The tour guide does not know everything and often steers you towards the “sights” whose overseers funnel his company a little financial recompense.

For that reason, you get a 2-for-1 post today.  Since memorable stuff like this exists, established tourist attractions also insult my intelligence.

Actually, so do tour guides… so that’s 3-for-1.

Uncomfortable Seating Insults My Intelligence

As we all know, restaurants and tourist attractions make their money by shuffling the maximum number of people through the premises while extracting money from them.  Profits are tied to the number of paying visitors.

In most places, you’ll find basic wood stools or other obviously uncomfortable accommodations, but some destinations try to hide the seating to prevent people from stopping.  For instance, check out this arrangement at Gaudi’s Park Guell in Barcelona:

Lantern RoadDo you see anywhere to rest your tired feet after walking along that long and winding road?  Look closer:

Lantern RoadGaudi was a master, knowing full well that hiding the seats between the giant lanterns would discourage anyone from sitting on them.  And they look so much more comfortable than the standard cheap bench.

I’m sure your butt is just itching to try it out.

Of course, there’s another cause for that itch.  I like to call it subliminal anti-marketing.  What enters your mind when you look at this?

Lantern RoadWhy yes, there’s a cactus sprouting from the top of that lantern.  I sure hope those needles didn’t blow onto the benches.  If you didn’t already have hemorrhoids, a few needles might give you a good bout of them.

Moral of the story: The mark of true artists resides in their ability to incorporate profit-making motives into the smallest details of their work.

Technology Insults My Intelligence

With incandescent light bulbs having been eliminated (controversially) in the U.S. in favor of fluorescent bulbs, I’d like to remind people of a little history.  This photo was taken at the Tower of London:

An old source of light.

An old source of light.

Defenders of incandescent bulbs proclaim the “natural light” they give off.  Compared to these candles, incandescent bulbs aren’t so natural.

Defenders of fluorescent bulbs proclaim their environmental friendliness.  Well, these candles use even less electricity and presumably were produced locally without the use of factories that pollute the surrounding countryside.

In conclusion, both sides of today’s debate are full of crap.