Edinburgh Fest Street Performers Blow My Mind

IMG_1066 copy Sunday I flew on 4 planes to get from Kansas City, Missouri, to Edinburgh Scotland, a distance of 7 x10^6 cricket bats, via 4 planes, in just 21 soul crushing hours.

I'm here for work, but Sunday was dedicated to having some fun at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The planned main event of the day was seeing Andy Zaltzman, the UK half of The Bugle, 4:20pm at The Stand. Since I arrived at 11am, that left me with half a day to wander around Edinburgh. And there was a lot to see.

The street performers were everywhere and they were amazing. Pics and videos follow.

One of the funniest guys was the one holding this sign that say "I WILL SHOUT ANYTHING LOUDLY." Having witnessed this, I'm of the opinion more people should shout random things at the top of their lungs. It's hilarious.

He quietly took suggestions from people around him and then would then shout that something absurd like "I like pickles on my Elvis butter sandwich!" and [Insert lewd act involving a lemming, raspberry jelly and and someones brother-in-law here.]

There was also a guy in a purple diaper juggling a knife, running chainsaw, and a small red ball. If you look closely at the middle of the pic below you can see him standing on a platform over the crowd with a running chainsaw in the air in front of him. For the record, no one died. (video proof)

Guy Juggling a Chain Saw in front of a huge Crowd

And this bagpipe player is the most bad-ass bagpipe player on the planet. Anyone who says the bagpipes aren't cool never met this guy.

Bad Ass Bagpipe Player at the Fringe in 2010

I caught a little video for the brief moments of the bagpipe awesomeness I wasn't completely awe struck.

And then there was Dave Crowe. He completely blew me away with his beat-boxing. There are 4 videos in this player. If the first 2 Dave Crowe solo vids don't do it for you, check out the last 2 when the Hang Playing Hedge Monkeys start playing their haunting instruments along with him.

And finally just before 4:20 I made my way over to The Stand.

The Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh Scotland

I laughed my self silly watching Andy Zaltzman live. It was like 1/2 of The Bugle, but longer and all hopped up on Jujubes. I met him and his wife after the show and was star struck. The guy is hilarious. Mrs. Zaltzman was kind enough to to take a picture of me with the Pun Master of Disaster.


Lost more fun stuff happened after the show. You can see some more in the pics from my Sunday at the Edinburgh Festival on flickr.

Update Sept 21, 2010: I wrote an email to the Bugle that, in keeping with the tenor of the Bugle, was exceptionally offensive. If any email ever had a chance to get on the Bugle, this one did. Unfortunately, they ran out of time for emails in episode 125, and sadly episode 126 was delayed a week due to a death in Andy's family. By the time they got around to recording 126, the moment had passed, and the email was not read on the podcast.

That said, Andy thanked me for coming to the show at the very end of Episode 125.

Andy - ...and thanks again to all of those who have been to see the show. Particularly the man who'd flown 21 hours on 4 separate flights just to get there.
John - Wow. [stunned]
Andy - HERO! A Hero John!
John - A Hero Bugler! [Pronouncement, Oliver Style]

Thank You Mom & Dad for That Atari 2800. It Saved Many Lives Today!

This morning I drove a European style Audi A3, with a stick shift, and broken GPS, in the rain, for 36 miles and through seventeen round-abouts, in the lowlands of Scotland where, to make things interesting, they drive on the opposite side of the road from the way we do in the USA.

And I didn't hit a single sheep.

All those hours in front of my Atari 2800 playing night driver finally paid off.

Family Vacation in Missouri

This last week we vacationed in Missouri near Kansas City with Christine parents.

We spent most of our time in the pool. At the beginning of the week arrived the kids didn't know how to swim and would basically freak out if water touche their faces. They made a lot of progress.

Videos of the Kids Swimming

We also took a bunch of day trips and posted pictures in this Kansas City MO Flickr set and audio recordings on my audioboo podcast channel. Here are some of my favorites.

At Union Station we went to a science museum, dinosaur exhibit and model railroad exhibit. Union Station is a converted train station and it had this stunning American Flag hanging from the ceiling

Allison, Alex and Conner with the Flag

Allison and the Flag

The dinosaur exhibit was full of animated dinosaurs.

Allison at the Dinosaur Exhibit

The dinosaur sound effects were so cool Conner and I recorded an audioboo (short audio podcast) from inside the dinosaur museum. You can listen to it here.


The kids had a lot of fun at Powell Gardens.

Allison, Alex and Conner

Paul and Allson Hike to the Giant Ants.

As we walked up to the Giant Ants Allison and I recorded this audioboo.


We played some mini golf on Friday.

Allison Golfing

Alex and Conner Golfing

And then it was back to the pool.

Alex Conner and Allison in the Pool

Giant Frackin Ants!!!

We took the kids to the Powell Gardens this week. There were lots of flowers and butterflies, but the thing that really blew us away were the ants...

While taking this picture of Alex I noticed something between the bushes way off in the distance.


It was a giant ant! And we could see it from a 1/4 mile away!

Ants in the Distance

It was a long walk so Allison hitched a ride on my shoulders.


Eventually we made it to the Ants and they were as big as the ones from the movie "Them!"



Alex and Conner with an Ant

Once we finished checking out the ants, Conner showed me how to do summer-salts and then convinced me to roll down the hill. Do not try this at home.

I didn't feel right for 3 hours after that roll, but boy did we have fun!


A Day in the Pool & Alex Learns to Swim!

The kids and I spent the entire day in the Grandma and Grandpas pool.


When we started Alex didn't want to get his face wet. By the end of the day he was part fish.

Conner and Allison worked on their synchronized swimming. (Available in HD!)

The video of Conner and Allison and this one of Alex are available in HD thanks to a Flip mino pro that I'm trying out for work.

How To Stop Raccoons From Eating Birdfood

I received a lot of suggestions on how to get rid of raccoons following my video detailing their recent attack on my bird feeder.

One of the suggestions came from my friend Dave who has some experience with this sort of problem. Per Dave:

Go to a Dollar Store and pick up a big cheap thing of cayenne pepper. Mix in a great deal of it with your bird food in the bag that you keep in the house (I'd say we used a good 1 1/2 cups per 30 lb bag). They'll try once but after that they generally stay off for good.  As they start leaving you alone you can reduce the amount of cayenne you use, but I would say to always continue using it as you never know when they'll come back.

Most mammals, except for my friend Dhiren, don't like this much cayenne pepper on anything. But birds can't taste it. The birds just don't care that it's there!

I mixed the first batch of bird food a little stronger than Dave suggested. I'd have followed his instructions to the letter, but Allison was "helping" me pour the cayenne pepper. When I put it outside my eyes were tearing a bit.  I left the top of the bird feeder loose so it would be easy for the raccoons to break in. The next morning, the top had been moved but the bird food was still there!


The birds were completely unfazed. Over the last week we watched as woodpeckers, cardinals, golden finches, morning doves and tufted titmice made their way through the cayenne peppered bird food. Not a drop disappeared at night!

When I refilled on Sunday I'd already backed off to 3/4 cup of cayenne pepper per 20lb bag. Last night there were 3 raccoons on my back deck. They didn't touch the bird feeder.

So that's the answer. To keep raccoons from eating bird food, just mix some cayenne pepper in with the seeds. The raccoons will avoid the food, and the birds are completely indifferent.

Bird Food after 1 week with Cayenne Pepper
Bird Food after 4 days with Cayenne Pepper

Thanks Dave!

Allison Tells a Story

Allison the Painter
It's become something of a tradition to make up stories and tell them at the dinner table. The boys tend to make up stories about Godzilla. A few nights ago Allison announced that she wanted to tell her first story. 

This is how it went...
[Soft happy voice] One upon a time there was a beeeeeeeautiful princes.

[Angry voice] And Godzilla came and KILLED HER!!!

[Happy voice] Then she was alive again!

[Soft happy voice] And they lived happily ever after. The end.

Alex Flies a Kite

Alex and I went to Nara Park to try our hand at flying a kite. We had lots of fun. I think the wind likes him. The kid's a natural.

More pics on flickr.