Monday, June 25, 2007

Benefits of living @ 5600 north, part 2


0624070002.jpg, originally uploaded by sindlinger.

Wide open, in both directions. Nice.

Benefits of living @ 5600 North


0624070001.jpg, originally uploaded by sindlinger.

Went to the park yesterday around 3pm. It was a little warm, but certainly not hot. Maybe a little hazy, but sunny enough that my 'fair' skin was burned a bit. And there was nobody there. Like having my own multi-acre backyard on Lake Michigan.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Don't stay here unless you have to


0603070002.jpg, originally uploaded by sindlinger.

I stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel recently for a conference and hope I never have to stay there again. Full review here. Picture above is of the wonderful 19" old school TV they kindly provided me with.

Random scenes from Los Angeles


0609070007.jpg, originally uploaded by sindlinger.

Spending a short weekend in Los Angeles visiting family, and taking the opportunity to snap random shots with my Helio [which I highly recommend, by the way]. I wouldn't say these shots are particularly interesting, but we did find a couple of cool things:

- A nice little Italian restaurant called Piccolo Paradiso

- A solid Mexican place in Racho Park called La Serenata de Garibaldi

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Interesting Site: Imagini.net & Visual DNA

I forget where I heard about this site, but remember it sounded interesting so I checked it out. Different than the MySpace quizzes from Blogthings that help you determine if you're 73% New England or 47% Sultry, etc. It isn't perfect, but the assessment of me wasn't bad given a series of ~12 questions


Sunday, June 03, 2007

"No BINGO!" -
The hot Halloween costume of 2007


Image Source: reviewjournal.com

Let me tell you, you're missing out if you haven't either watched the actual show or at least seen a preview [the magic happens at the 24 second mark in the clip below]:



The NBN Commissioner costume will be hot in '07, I can feel it. And please, ABC, make his hallmark "No Bingo!" call a ringtone.

Thank you, Sunil Narkar, for adding something brilliant to America's pop culture lexicon.

JDB - A Recommended Resource
for Finding Hotels in Europe


Image Source: JDB

I learned of this outfit from the travel agent who helped Judy and me plan parts of our honeymoon. [Photos here]

It is a general resource for some nice, out of the ordinary hotels [like this one, for example].

We stayed at two, and would absolutely recommend either of them.

La Tana Dell'Istrice is only about 90 minutes from Rome by car and if your visit happens to coincide with the Grechetto grape festival, you will have some cool bonus festivities in the plaza on which this hotel sits. You can also visit their site directly. Sergio and Alessandra are excellent hosts. You should definitely do the dinner with them, which is made up largely [if not entirely] of food from their own land and is paired with wines from their own vineyards. We particularly enjoyed the Nenfro with dinner, and the Muffo is a very nice dessert wine.

Palazzo Leopaldo is in Chianti, has rooms with stunning views, is situated right in the heart of a small, stylish handful of streets with shops and restaurants, including Chiasso dei Portici, for which I cannot find a site, but is noted on some trip advisor boards, in an Australian travel article and by Mario Batali. We snuck a a picture during an amazing dinner there one night. If you're in Radda, you should definitely check it out.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Daddy Waterboy?


Image Source: freshhiphopnews.com

This isn't a perfect lookalike, but after watching Daddy Yankee extensively this morning on Despierta America, I'm seeing some resemblance to Adam Sandler's tour de force performance in Waterboy.


Image Source: CNN.com

I should be clear that I mean no offense. Last thing I need is heat from the Reggaeton community.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Random Recollection: Miraflores Park Hotel, Lima


P1000367.JPG, originally uploaded by sindlinger.

A colleague at work recently asked for any tips and info we could share from our trip to Peru last summer. Maybe I'll clean up the email I sent her to make it a bit more 'post-worthy', but for the time being just wanted to note that the Miraflores Park Hotel in Lima is something I would certainly recommend. This shot above is from their rooftop level, which has a pool to the left and some pretty cool views of the park and coastline below. We had a buffet breakfast here that very relaxing - which was exactly what we needed.

It is near a very nice shopping center, where we actually had a great dinner at an Argentinian restaurant, the name of which I unfortunately have forgotten.

In Search of Good Travel Resources
for Colombia


Image Source: Amazon.com

I stopped in Borders a few days ago hoping to pick up a travel guide on Colombia. No dice. This had never happened before. Their travel section is pretty comprehensive, with multiple options on almost any place you can think of. But not a single book on Colombia. So I checked Amazon when I got home to find these results:

- a 2006 Lonely Planet version with a 1.5 star rating

- a 5-star rated guide from Footprint ... from 1998

- a 4-star rated guide from Ulysses, based on one customer review by someone who hadn't been to the country

Slim pickings.

I have found a few online resources, including this NYTimes.com article which really planted the seed in my mind in the first place. I'll keep looking and checking out more of the online communities, and will probably buy the Footprint guide, but in the extremely unlikely event that anyone (1) happens by this post and (2) has great recommendations for Colombian travel guides, please leave a comment. Thanks.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Open Letter to SNL's Jason Sudekis
re: Skit Idea


Image Source: HGTV.com

Stumbled across the show Don't Sweat It today and thought it was a joke. [I know this isn't new, but seriously, when did it become cool for men with hair highlights to also carry themselves as ostensibly tough & rugged?] The host, Steve Watson, does a pretty good job being a caricature of himself, but I still think this is fodder for a good Jason Sudekis led SNL skit [and I hereby waive any claim for compensation pertaining to this intellectual property ... just a little shout out during the wrap scene would be fine]. I wish I could find a link to the opening montage video. It's a cross between Sudekis' Urigro-esque smarminess and the dead-on mock absurdity of the MacGruber intros. While it's kind of a small target in and of itself, maybe there is something there in the broader 'hardscrabbly charming rapscallion carpenter' DIY show trend?

New Yelp Review: Riva


Image Source: Savvy Diner
Judy decided that we'd celebrate our anniversary with dinner at Riva. Was generally solid - my review is over on Yelp

Friday, May 25, 2007

I miss Trot Nixon


Image Source:Boston Dirt Dogs, via Edward O'Connor

It's still early, but this move isn't quite working out in the Sox' favor just yet:

Stats are YTD thru 5/24/07, courtesy of CBSSportsLine:











PlayerABRH2B3BHRRBIAVG.OBP.SLG.Salary
Nixon127193780220.291.374.402$3MM
Drew135213251213.237.346.333$14MM
Ugh.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Why must
people throw cigarettes out their windows?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Image Source:Firekills.gov.uk

I was driving behind someone this morning who just threw his cigarette butt into the street without giving it a second thought. I'm sure this happens thousands of times every day without comment. But if you deconstruct it, the act is really saying that s/he who throws the cigarette believes him/herself to be more important than the rest of us who have to deal with the trash. All you have to do is put the butt in your ashtray, then empty your ashtray when you get your car home or in a garage or whatever. But no. That's too inconvenient for me. Too much work, too much of a hassle, whatever. F that. I'll just chuck it out the window and add just a little bit more stink and trash to the environment that everyone else is walking around in. Because the 10 seconds it might take me to properly dispose of the butt is way more important than everyone else's enjoyment of the planet. A-hole. [See also: people who spit on sidewalks].

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Yelp reviews from trip to NYC


Spent just a day in New York, but it involved three new places for me: the Time hotel, Landmarc restaurant in Tribeca and the rooftop bar at Hotel Gansevoort. Quick reviews of them all on Yelp.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Where are the ladies at?



If this was around when I was in college, I never would have graduated.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Another dumb marketing decision - Citibank


For the price of one letter and the 60 seconds of customer service time it would have taken to send the letter, Citibank lost my business. Brilliant.

I have had a Citibank credit card for 10+ years now. And I'm sure it's been profitable for them given the finance charges I've paid over the years. Had recently opened a checking/savings account, too, but either didn't receive or had misplaced the PIN# for it, so I could not use it or sign up for online banking. I asked for another PIN# to be sent to me. Was informed I needed to go into a branch and do it live. There's a branch about 8 blocks from me, and it's open Saturday mornings, but I'd rather not spend time on a Saturday morning visiting a bank branch to get a freaking PIN# so I could use their services.

The front line rep who handled my call was pleasant enough and seemed sympathetic, but she had to go to her supervisor on this one. Obviously this is a big call to make. So, I asked her [quite civilly, too - I wasn't one of those clowns who loses his sh*t to the unempowered CSR] to inform her supervisor of the fact that I did have a longstanding, certainly profitable credit card account with them and that I would in fact just prefer to close my checking account with them than be bothered to go visit a branch on a Saturday morning.

Held the few minutes I was asked to hold. Then was informed that, no, they wouldn't be mailing me a new PIN#.

To ease the blow, the front line rep noted that they've even told people who live 20 miles from a branch that they need to go there live rather than have a new PIN# mailed to them. I appreciate what she was trying to do, but if that's really the case, all that does is further underline how moronic of a policy Citibank has in place. Who made that decision? And who is training their customer service supervisors? Brilliant work on their part.

The story may not end there, either, as I recently learned that my employer's preferred airline is likely to change. My Citibank credit card is a miles card associated with the current airline. Might be a useful time to flip the credit card account to someone else, too, no? Something I really wouldn't have otherwise considered. But, the CSR sup did save the price of that letter she would have spent to send me that PIN# so I could deposit funds with them. So she's got that going for her, which is nice.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

From Beverly Hills to Milwaukee


img src:Beverly Wilshire

Was traveling for work Sunday through yesterday, including stays at hotels I hadn't been in previously: the Beverly Wilshire and the Ambassador. Have added my reviews of both on Yelp.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A few new reviews on Yelp



Had a chance to enter some thoughts over on Yelp covering recent visits to Schuba's, Taste of Peru and Carol's Pub.
Image source: Planet99.com

Friday, April 13, 2007

Don't sleep on Rap School


Image source: VH1.com

Just was thinking about Rap School and wanted to recognize. Nothing more than that.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Give this Mexican red a shot:
Casa Pedro Domecq
Cabernet Sauvignon XA


mexican wine label, originally uploaded by sindlinger.

I am far from being a wine connoisseur, and I recognize the impact that time and place can have on one's perceptions of how good something really is [good company, on vacation, etc. ... this is the best wine ever!]. That said, Judy and I had this with one dinner on vacation and we enjoyed it. Pleasant enough. Made a mental note to try and grab a couple of bottles to bring home, but never made the trip to a store. Now I don't see it available online for US delivery. If you see it around and are feeling cRaZy, give this Mexican red a shot.

Duck magnets for 10 pesos


duck magnet on table, originally uploaded by sindlinger.

If you are going to be sitting down to dinner at one of the many outside tables in Condesa you are virtually guaranteed to be approached a couple of times during your meal by folks walking by with miscellaneous goods to sell. These vendors run the gamut. Men selling cell phone holsters. Men selling phone cards. An old guy selling toy violins. Etc.

Then there are the little kids - maybe 5 years old, but maybe not quite. You see them one moment sitting on a corner with a woman who appears to be in her twenties [his mother?] and a younger child [his brother?]. The woman looks like she could be pregnant again. They are eating now, but their wares are at their side, and they'll find you soon. When they do, you see the boy has a platter of magnetic ducks. 10 pesos each. About $0.91. We ended up with 2. One white, one blue.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Chicago Pedway - Understand the Tradeoffs

While the pedway can be a nice option on crazy cold days [I actually used it today due to the not so cold but still annoying sub-freezing temps we have here on the 7th of April], there are definitely some tradeoffs involved. Here are some reviews covering these tradeoffs, including mine.

Eating tips for your next trip thru DFW airport on American

Had a not so great experience in the DFW airport on our way to Mexico City. Found a great looking food court, but not until after we had battled with the foul-mooded admirals club bartender/wench. Fuller recounting here

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Some old, some new and all colorful

Two things hit me immediately as our taxi took us from the airport to the hotel. One was the use of color everywhere, the other was the tension between things in decay and things being renovated. This theme was consistent through most of the places we visited, resulting in a series of visually interesting contrasts.

Everything had a sense of energy or progress. It was as if the ongoing, relentless ebb and flow of the city's daily activities were made visible and represented in the external appearances of the buildings, the cars, the signs.

This isn't unlike other cities we have been to [e.g., Lima or Buenos Aires], but we didn't spend enough time in Lima to see if it was something that is widespread, and our sense of Buenos Aires was that it was maybe more common in a couple of neighborhoods [Palermo Viejo, La Boca]. In Mexico City, it seemed to be pervasive - at least through every part we saw.

Mexico City Vacation


taxis verdes, originally uploaded by sindlinger.

Now that I'm back in Chicago and semi dug out from / caught up with the work issues I missed while away, I will start capturing some of the things Judy and I did during spring break.

Some top line thoughts:

* Had a great time. Never felt threatened, despite how many people asked us if we were crazy for choosing to vacation in such a notoriously dangerous city.

* Met an unofficial guide who wound up taking us around parts of the city on 3 different days.

* Enjoyed some good food.

* Found the Condesa df to be really inconsistent and somewhat disappointing nevermind what the NYTimes says [more on that later], though the neighborhood was great.

* Will definitely consider going back b/c there are a lot of things we didn't have a chance to do in 5 days.



And, most of our pictures are up.

Friday, March 23, 2007

USA 2.0 Mashup - Laotian Rap


Image Source: MySpace.com/asianriders

Another tip from Current TV, and [of course] YouTube. Actually, it's not bad, either. Move Some'm, by Lao Crimino.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Teen Girl Squad #11


Image source: hrwiki.org

Brilliant dialogue snippet from Teen Girl Squad #11:

"I thought this was Coach Conrad's sit up camp for shirtless boys"

Saturday, March 10, 2007

You Should Check Out Gonzales:
The Jewish-Canadian Hip Hop Prankster


Photo source: TuneTribe

His name is Gonzales and he hangs out with Puppetmastaz.
Saw him on Current. Reeled in by the subtle brilliance of declaring himself a "Jewish-Canadian Hip Hop Prankster", I found a little more on YouTube [of course]. Learned that Mr. Maloke [in top hat, below], announced the Congress of Puppetry, in Berlin.

Photo source: Nouveau Monde

Not for nothing, but Gonzales looks a bit like a cross between Lou Ferrigno and Bronson Pinchot.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

No, It looks good on you, though



I've seen a couple of women seriously wearing these things around lately. Which is great, if you're going for the Uri look from the 2005 Smirnoff Ice ads.



"....this here is my homeboy Gorb - he's real crazy dude"

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Jeopardy for Morons

And brilliant TV programming, given the state of society:
Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

Michael J Partridge?



Anyone else see Melissa Etheridge during the Oscars and think she looked a little bit like Shirley Jones dressing up like Michael J. Fox [or vice versa?]

Buy less crap? How about spew less crap?

Heard about Buy Less Crap today and checked it out. While it is difficult to argue with the value in giving directly to charities [e.g., The Global Fund] that benefit from the (Product)RED campaign, I think this is just another typical, over-simplified, knee-jerk reaction from radical narcissists who relish any opportunity to illustrate how sensationally clever they can be in skewering the capitalistic bogeyman du jour, never mind the facts of the situation. Any material benefits to The Cause from their grandstanding antics are merely a bonus outcome - the primary goal of their histrionic mewling is to boost their 'F-the-Man' cred at their local co-op grocery store. 'Hey, Gideon - saw your buylesscrap.org site. Really awesome! And have you tried the FairTrade Soy Foot Lotion yet?'

Note to would-be activists: it isn't an either/or proposition, dumbass. While you may not approve of it, the majority of the population still lives outside of The Commune. People still need material goods, so if they are going to buy them anyway, isn't it better that even a small fraction of the proceeds are directed to The Cause, rather than nothing? Would you rather The Cause just not receive those funds? 'No thanks, we cannot accept your donation because we more-altruistic-than-thou types disdain your lifestyle.'

Also something to ponder - if we all retreat to our individual Waldens weaving our own clothing from old newspaper scraps and eating bark, who will generate the income that can fund donations to The Cause?

Alert: Another TV a** clown to avoid

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Please, for the love of all that is good in this world [e.g., see this, or this, or, more seriously, this], don't watch the Glenn Beck show. I know his show isn't new, but it took awhile for me to work up the energy to bother posting this. I used to watch a lot of CNN Headline News, but haven't watched at all since they put a-holes like Beck and Nancy Grace on.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Wish I thought of this ...



Visit the site for more info and order some stickers. Do your part to let infuriating morons know that we're on to them.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

GMAC Mortgage customer service is a farce



Another item from the tilting-at-windmills department. Below is an email I submitted to GMAC Mortgage after a particularly annoying customer service call. I'm sure it will achieve nothing for me. But venting feels good. And if anyone else sees this and it swings a coin-flip decision re: who they finance a loan with, all the better.

** email copy begins here **

I am extremely disappointed in your customer service. After faxing on January 31, 2007 [as instructed] information regarding a mishandled tax payment, I had not heard back from GMAC today. 28 days later.

So I just called your customer service line where my inquiry was routed to someone whose mastery of the english language leaves something to be desired, which is frustrating. I am not placing a $19.95 order for a Quik-Chop, I am trying to sort through issues regarding my mortgage account. Clear communication is kind of a priority here, no?

But what's worse was her brusque/robotic manner. I am not confident that she truly understood either the importance of the issue I was inquiring about or the details of my situation. And I definitely don't believe she cared about my anxiety whatsoever. When I asked her to fax confirmation of what she was communicating to me regarding my situation being 'all cleared up', she indicated it would be another 3 days before I would receive anything because there are 'work orders' involved. So after waiting 28 days without hearing anything, then having to call myself for a status, I am told matter of factly that there is nothing I can do but wait another 3 days by someone who I am not confident really understands the situation I am facing here.

Net: this has been anything but a positive experience with GMAC and my confidence in GMAC as a whole has taken a big hit as a result of your less than impressive front line personnel. If after waiting another 3 days on this I receive information that does not fully resolve my issue, I will be beside myself with aggravation. Life presents enough inherent aggravations. I am not looking for aggravation amplification from my freaking mortgage company. Please - get your act together regarding customer service. I am begging you.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Help me understand ...


Who goes to watch Deal or No Deal in person? Seriously. Who does that? Is that the best thing you could be doing with your time? Wow.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Helsinki Complaints Choir


Saw a pod on Current a couple of weeks ago, then was prompted to check YouTube for it when I saw the repeat. You can learn more about the project here. Haven't seen them all yet, but there is something oddly catchy about the Helsinki version. Love the line about idiots on the escalator. Feels like some kindred Finnish soul represented my personal griefs for me.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

SB XLI Photos Are Up

Just posted our SBXLI pictures on Flickr. This one, for example, is from the NFL Tailgate prior to the game. I was just trying to get a picture of the "Fish Cake Sandwich" sign, [provided by the Hot Dog Cart, of course], when this cat jumped into the frame. Kind of like how it turned out anyway.

Trip was great overall. Rain was a bit of a buzzkill, since we had tremendous seats [14 rows back on the 35 yd line, behind the Bears bench]. But stil, the folks at SI.com put on a first class weekend.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Oil Equation -
Something to Think About

I heard a reporter from The Economist lay out pretty succinctly the big challenge the US faces re: oil/energy independence. Full interview can be found in the Jan 24, 2007 episode of the NPR Technology podcast. But, if I recall correctly, here is the reality of it:

Consumption:
The US consumes 25% of the world's oil and 50% of the world's gasoline.

Resources:
The US sits on 3% of the world's known oil reserves.

That kind of sums it up right there. If we don't wish to be reliant upon foreign oil sources, we have a lot of work to do and we need to seriously modify our behavior as a nation. I won't be holding my breath. It's far too important for people to be seen driving their 4mpg SUVs on the 3 mile round trip to the grocery store.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bill Buchanan Quote

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With this one, it's almost as if the writers were deliberately trying to come up with something that would get picked up and mocked widely:

"We need to do better than we're doing, and we need to do it faster!"

I see this getting used a lot. By me.

Update: Bill has his own Wikipedia entry. Of course he does.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mustache update


So, here's the mustache update. I'm waiting for other images to come in because this is the 'revised' mustache. I originally had it wrapping down past my lower lip a bit and left a litte fu-esque patch, too, but that was deemed 'too cool looking' by my fantasy football league mates, so I shaved it down in the bar. The guy in the picture above had brought a razor with him, just in case.

Pretty sweet, no?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Flickr's "Interestingness" formula?


beans & franks, french style, originally uploaded by sindlinger.

Not sure how exactly this formula works. I believe comments and favorites play a significant factor. The number of views also is likely to be important, perhaps, as an indicator of how interesting something is. But I am really not clear on how the variables are weighted. I have ~3,000 photos uploaded to Flickr. All kinds of subjects, locations and compositions. But according to Flickr, this photo above is --- and has been for a while --- the 'most interesting' photo of them all. 'beans & franks, french style' is the best work I've submitted, apparently.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Review: Vivere

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Had a nice dinner at Vivere last night. Full review on Yelp

Friday, January 12, 2007

London's new public locker room for women

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Random interesting idea: WC1 is launching a public, fancy locker room service for busy women in London. Just like the ingenuity of it, no idea if it will fly.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Visit Azerbaijan?

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Saw this commercial while on vacation, along with some others for Armenia and some OOH ads for Romania. Way better tourism advertising in France, clearly. Consider these are what I usually see on CTA buses or other miscellaneous billboards around Chicago:
* Wisconsin
* Illinois
* Western Iowa
The crazy thing is, I'm now thinking about visiting Azerbaijan, or Armenia, maybe even Romania. At least I'll look into it. Sounds more compelling than a trip to the Dells.
The other encouraging thing is to see that some people are out there hustling on YouTube trying to get semi-legitimate messages out. It isn't all extremely unfunny crap and shameless exhibitionism.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

New Middle Eastern restaurant disappoints

Habeebi's just opened, turning one more empty store front on Bryn Mawr into something somewhat more useful. But our first experience wasn't great. See Yelp for my full review.

Dog Holiday 2006 Photo Shoot Outtakes


P1010044.JPG, originally uploaded by sindlinger.

If 138 pictures of small dogs in varying states of dress and distraction is your thing, then check out these . It's a failsafe recipe for hilarity: 2 small, reluctant dogs + poorly fitting Peruvian mountain costumes + digtal camera. Good times.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Mari Ramos = "I'm Carol"

Okay, some people might interpret this as not such a nice post, but I'm just calling things like I see them.

I can't recall the first time I saw Mari Ramos on TV, but think it was this past March on vacation. While it's not immediately obvious from seeing her head shot at the above link, if/when you see and hear Mari live, I think the connection becomes more clear: Mari Ramos resembles the SNL "I'm Carol" character, as portrayed by Horatio Sanz.

Even from the stills below, I think if you keep an open mind, you'll see what I'm talking about.

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Finally, from the nothing-should-be-a-surprise department, there are people who have pages of Mari Ramos photos.

Barcelona tapas & dessert joint in NYTimes


P1000186.JPG, originally uploaded by sindlinger.

Just randomly saw that Bubo was quickly covered in the NYTimes. Judy and I stopped there while wandering around the city on spring break last year ['06]. Couple of pictures from that pitstop are here, including shots of what we could see from our table outside.
Note: the crusty looking guy in the shot above appeared to be a regular, as he was greeted in a "Norm!"-esque manner. He was also one of the handful of misguided dickheads we've encountered on our vacations who think it's a good ice breaker to shout "konichiwa" at Asians passing by, because clearly all Asians speak Japanese, right? Sure.