Estonia – Venus

Nice to Skype You

Mrs. Sip and I spent a fair portion of our dating years in a long distance relationship. Just through various schooling, I estimate we spent nearly two and a half years physically apart. So, when Skype came along and allowed us to not only chat on a daily basis, but also see each other – and all for no cost – we considered it a godsend. I bet you didn’t know this miracle was created and operated in Estonia by Estonian programmers. Let’s take a look at the great invention:

While Mrs. Sip and I didn’t learn about Skype until around the time I was heading over to the UK for six months in 2007, the program was actually launched in August 2003, building on previous peer-to-peer technology.

grandparent-cats

As of its 10th birthday in 2013, Skype has approximately 300 million users who make more than 2 billion minutes worth of online calls each day. It goes without saying that Skype holds a large share of the long distance calling market. That’s about equal to the time it takes Mrs. Sip to get ready in the morning… especially when we’re in a rush!

The program is no longer confined to only computers. With the advancement of cell phone technology, Skype can be downloaded to most smart phones and used while people are commuting and out and about. The app has been downloaded onto over 100 million Android phones worldwide. So, when you’re getting annoyed by that dork on the bus who’s shouting into his phone and making funny faces, you have the fine folks of Estonia to blame for your misery.

If you want proof of Skype’s use as a wonderful long distance relationship tool (as well as its proficiency as a live sex show instrument), look no further than its demographic split of 52% male users and 48% female operators.

Somewhat surprisingly, only 42% of Skype calls use the video function. I guess old fashioned phone sex and using your imagination still has a place in today’s more visual society.

naked skype

Much like Google (“to Google”) has found its way into the popular lexicon, so too has the verb “to Skype”. Sadly, this amazing website will never experience that joy as “to Sip” is kind of already an established act.

The program is available in countless dialects, thanks to Skype allowing users to create new language files. You know some uber geek out there is working on a Klingon version of the chatting software.

Skype can hold up to 25 people in a conference call, making it entirely possible to tell off every single one of your co-workers in one place, should the need for an epic meltdown ever come up.

In September 2007, eBay bought Skype Technologies for $2.5 million (U.S.) and stock in eBay. In October 2011, Microsoft purchased Skype Communications for $8.5 million (U.S.), replacing their Messenger services in favour of Skype. The going rate for The Sip Advisor and all its subsidiaries is a box of pizza and three cans of pop… not too shabby!

microsoft-bought-skype

Skype in the Classroom’ is a free tool the company has set up on its website for the program to be used for educational purposes by teachers and students… I could joke about teacher-student sexual relationships, but we all know this is a high-brow publication, read by industry moguls and the world’s wealthiest.

Similarly, orangutans Mei and Mukah at the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas have been known to get their Skype on with primates at other zoos, a reward for good behaviour. Yes, I did just compare students and teachers using the program to chimps, thank you very much.

Now let’s load up our webcams and microphone headsets for the world’s largest toast in honour of Skype and its ability to let complete strangers see each other’s naughty bits!

Estonia: Venus

Venus Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Vana Tallinn
  • Top with Ginger Ale
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish with Orange Twist

This wraps up our brief stay in Estonia, which I found to be a totally underrated stop on our Baltic cruise last year. Going in, I thought it was a mere add-on amongst the big name countries like Russia, Sweden, and Finland, but was pleasantly surprised by the charm and beauty of the port of call!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (5 Sips out of 5):
It might not be the most elaborate cocktail, but it sure is delicious. The vanilla-flavoured Vana Tallinn is a very nice spirit and I’m sad I only brought a small bottle home with me from Estonia. Put it together with the uber-reliable mixer that is Ginger Ale and you have a winning combo. It might also be my favourite recipe yet to use Angostura Bitters!

December 8 – Naughty List

Christmas Crazes

It seems that every year there is a couple hot toys that parents just must have. That’s right, I said parents and not kids. In most cases, I believe it is the parents who want to grab that special something for their child more than it being the kid who absolutely needs that item. Call me crazy (I’m sure you have), but kids are pretty stupid and if you just occupy their little minds with something else, they’ll forget all about the craze going on. Here are some of the most notorious toys that caused so much chaos:

Tickle Me Elmo (1996)

Man, I hate Elmo. He takes attention away from the real treasures of Sesame Street: Bert and Ernie, Snuffleupagus, the Count, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, and Cookie Monster. Tyco, the makers of the Tickle Me Elmo did one great example of marketing and sent the toys to talk show host Rosie O’Donnell. When she threw them out to her audience, her obsessive fan following flipped their shit and went into hyper overdrive trying to track down one of the products for themselves. Had Tyco sent the dolls to Oprah, Elmo would now be master and ruler of the world by now. At the height of the craze, buyers were forced to shell out thousands of dollars to get their hand on the vibrating doll… at least it had adult appeal, as well!

taser_me_elmo

Teddy Ruxpin (1985)

Mrs. Sip owned one of these stuffed bears that would read you stories when you put a tape inside them… that means I have ol’ Mr. Ruxpin to blame for all the times she’s rather read than be amorous with the Sip Advisor… stupid bear. Then they gave Teddy his own TV series, which thankfully doesn’t cause Mrs. Sip to stay up late watching old reruns, while I work to warm the bed all by my lonesome. Well, Teddy Ruxpin may have won some battles, but I will have the last laugh in my ongoing war with the bear. While the toy was last produced in 2005, I’m still around and kicking. Now I just need to eliminate that book, TV, movie, music, and phone competition!

Cabbage Patch Kids (1983)

Ah, the year of my birth… when all was right in the world and a new savior had arrived to quell the fears of the masses. Only I was too little to stop the chaos of that Christmas shopping season when Cabbage Patch Kids hit the market and turned parents into psycho shoppers. The dolls sold like hotcakes and demand rose sharply with the lack of supplies. One notable case saw a woman in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, take over a Toys ‘R’ Us location with weaponry that included a BB gun and a freakin’ spork! I mean, how awesome were the 80’s? We didn’t need real weapons to get what we wanted. Parents today should be ashamed of themselves.

Furby (1998)

Mrs. Sip’s sister received one of these abominations last year and it was funny for about 30 seconds before we all wanted to destroy the demonic object. More than a decade earlier, the Furby was the hottest toy on the market (before cell phones and tablets, of course). Parents fell over themselves trying to get one to babysit their children and resale prices soared from a retail value of $35 to $300, in some cases. Internet scams were also prevalent as toys were advertised for sale, but never arrived for the buyer. Due to a lack of Furby’s produced, supplies ran out, driving up demand for the bizarre little robot.

Furby

Beanie Babies (1995)

It’s hard to believe, but there are many tales out there of folks snatching up these collectibles because they thought they could later retire to a life of luxury, living off of the proceeds from re-selling these toys. Sadly, the market they hoped for never materialized, despite the designers work to make Beanie Babies a collectors dream by retiring old designs and flooding the market with new characters regularly. There are stories of people buying McDonald’s Happy Meals to get the Beanie Baby sold with it, only to throw away the food (huge party foul) and a number of robberies took place at collectible stores for the stuffed animals.

Zhu Zhu Pets (2009)

If you believe the urban legends, these robotic hamster toys have to be a favourite of one Richard Gere! I can attest that Mrs. Sip and myself tracked a few of these down for her little cousin back then, but perhaps with the advancement of internet shopping and people preferring to be shut-ins and never leave their home, we didn’t have any issues finding them at stores. You’re asking, is it really a craze then? Well, prices for the $8 toy jumped $35-$40 on eBay when up for auction. The availability was more likely due to conflicting reports of the hamsters being poisonous (one group said they had high levels of antimony, while another said the level was acceptable) and adequate supplies being shipped by the company.

Drink #342: Naughty List

Naughty List Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Amaretto (I used Disaronno)
  • 1 oz Gin
  • 1 oz Crème de Banane
  • Top with Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Splash of Grenadine
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

Honourable mentions go to Pogs, Razor Scooters, the Rubix Cube, and basically every video game system to be released. While I appreciate any efforts my parents made to get me any of these iconic toys, I have to say that I will not do the same for my unborn kin. I’ll leave that for Mrs. Sip!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
I think there’s too much going on in this cocktail. The Crème de Banane taste comes through the strongest and then you get hit with the competing flavours of Amaretto, Gin, Lemons, Limes, Grenadine, etc. My goal with the garnish was to give the impression of having a naughty and a nice list. Which one is which, is totally up to you little sippers!

June 4 – Glitter and Trash

Auction Hunter

As a collector of fine liquor knick-knacks, I recently hit EBay to find my next diamond in the rough. Here are some goodies (and some not-so-goodies) I was able to unearth:

Empty Bottles

Let’s start with an easy one. You know, once the alcohol is all gone, these bottles are only worth the bottle return deposit. What, did someone famous drink from them? Are they a brand that is hard to find and therefore has some value in its rarity? No, they’re just empty bottles, worth a combined total of 20-cents? Alrighty, I’ll pass. Verdict: Trash (with a capital T)

empty bottles

Japanese Drunken Man Decanter

Maybe I’m missing something culturally, but I would never want to have this in my house. The colours are all weird and I don’t understand why anyone would dress in top hat, bow tie and dress jacket, while also wearing a Lone Ranger-esque mask and polka dot pants. Verdict: Trash

drunken man liquor decanter

Liquor Globe

I think this little item is kind of neat, especially with a world traveler like Mrs. Sip in my household. I do wish the map was a little more detailed, so you could better pinpoint where you’ve been and where you’d like to go, as you enjoy your spirits, but all in all, this is a pretty cool dispenser. Verdict: Glitter

liquor globe

Little Wizzer

I really don’t understand these type of products… yeah, because I want my liquor to come out through a little boy’s dong. I guess there’s a gag element to the whole thing, but it doesn’t really work for me. I’ve also seen the wizzer come in other styles, like golfer and geezer, so clearly there’s a market for urinated alcohol. Verdict: Trash

bonny boy liquor dispenser

Electronic Liquor Dispenser

Alright, let’s finish strong. I would love to have this item at the Sip Advisor headquarters. You simply tap a button and whatever liquor you have hooked up to that corresponding switch fills your glass. The dispenser is pricey, however, some running as high as $400… they do often come with free shipping, though! Verdict: Glitters like gold, diamonds and all the other good stuff!

Liquor Dispenser

Drink #155: Glitter and Trash

June 4

Okay, I’m not actually a booze-themed auction hunter… I only play one on the internet. Still, it was kind of fun to see what was available on the wild, wild web and I even found a few items I would love to own. Got something you want to sell me? Drop me a line and I’ll ask Mrs. Sip to increase my allowance!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I liked this recipe and was able to taste all the ingredients from within, from the Strawberry and Kiwi in the Vodka, to the Juniper flavouring in the Gin. The Lemon-Lime Soda just finished the drink perfectly. I’m not sure what the name is all about… luckily this cocktail is better than advertised in its name.