Costumed Frisbee

This past weekend, I made the trek* over to eastern Washington for a frisbee tournament. Well, if you want to get technical, it is called an ultimate tournament because "frisbee" is a trademarked name. Still, I call it frisbee.

Anyway, a couple things of note about this tournament:

1. Teams were supposed to play in costume. Our team took inspiration from The Princess Bride. We had a Humperdink, Buttercup, 2 Fezziks, Inigo Montoya, the "Boo Boo" rag lady, an RoUS, the Grandpa from the beginning, and 2 Dread Pirate Westleys. (I was one of the Westleys but was sorely outdone costume-wise. Alas.) Many aspects of the costumes, however, got shed throughout the day due to weather and hindrance of play concerns. (I tried to take pictures but my camera ran out of batteries. Hopefully someone from the team will post some pictures which I will intern re-post here.)

2. Speaking of weather, since when do we get 70 degree sunny days in Washington in November. Maybe I've been living on the wrong side of the mountains all these years. On Saturday, however, there was a wicked wind to contend with. We got our fair share of zone offense practice.

3. Traveling for sports in a non-academic environment is kind of fun. This was my first multi-day tournament that I went with a team (instead of meeting them there, picking up with a random team, or just commuting from home) and I really enjoyed it. Seeing new scenery, getting to spend time with good people, etc. etc. Yeehaw.
Tuesday November 3 2009File under: games, travel

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Family Reunion in Des Moines

Interchallenge virtuouso Sara totally nailed it. Des Moines, Iowa was the secret location of the last blog post. Why was I in Des Moines, Iowa you ask. For the not even close to annual* Studer Family Reunion.

As you all probably know, my mom's family isn't small. Oodles of aunts, uncles, cousins, cousins-once-removed, and even a couple cousins-twice-removed necessitates some organizational efforts: color coded shirts, name tags, and an elaborate family tree. But in addition to spending some great times with rarely seen but dearly loved relatives, we had a little bit of nuclear time as well.

Family reunions sometimes get a bad rap. And I'll admit I was a little reticent heading into this one myself. But there was no need. I had a great time and look forward to a little less hectic time with such great people in the not as far away future.
Monday September 7 2009File under: travel, misc

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Where Am I

Ever since Andrew made that awesome "Where am I?" post* from some podunk South Dakotan town, I've always wanted to make one similar. I got close with that giant Paul Bunyan post earlier this year. Good times.

Anyway, while I realize my visual clues aren't nearly as good as Andrew's were, I thought I might still throw it out there for anyone looking for a good time waster (or immediately recognizes anything specific). Where am I? I'm only looking for city and state because these 4 photos were not taken at the exact same location (but all in the same city). Oh, and if I told you where I was headed beforehand, no fair "guessing".
Saturday September 5 2009File under: travel

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Sleeping Around

Where a person lays his/her head says a whole lot about his/her life, I think. If you look at this data over time, you get an idea of a person's routines, travel habits, and maybe even relationships. Whenever I heard a traveling salesman or musician say "I spend 200 nights a year on the road" or whatever, it would always make me wonder: where did they spend their nights, in what size chunks was that time spent, etc. It also spurred the question for me: how many nights a year do I spend on the road? It wasn't one that I could readily answer (at least with any accuracy) so about a year ago, I started keeping track.

Now I have over a year's worth of data on where I slept. I've put it together in this [visually pleasing] interface to share with you (so specifics have been omitted), but mostly for myself in getting a picture of what the last year of my life has looked like. Some interesting things I've realized: I haven't spent more than 11 nights in a row at home; nights at home vs. nights housesitting are almost equal; I've spent a month's worth of nights in a tent, 12 in a wheeled vehicle of some sort, 16 on a boat, and 2 on a plane.

Not only has this exercise served as a great way to quantitatively describe my lifestyle (or at least as much as you feel is represented in this data), it also serves as a great log. In 20 years when I wonder what it was like to be young* and free, I can see how I spent my time. This whole thing has been so fun and informative for me, I'm hoping to continue keeping track for years to come. I only wish that I had been doing it for the last 10 years as well.
Wednesday August 19 2009File under: travel, misc

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Taiwan and Japan Slideshow

I was waiting for a few additional images to come in before putting this together, but I'm just too antsy. Everybody seems to love a slideshow, so I wanted to get it out ASAP. If the images do come in, I'll post a few of them in the comments or something.

I tried to use only pictures that weren't posted on the blog from the trip, although you'll probably recognize some of them because they greatly resemble pics I did post. I also more or less tried to maintain the trip's timeline throughout, so if you see a picture towards the end of the slideshow, it probably happened near the end of the trip.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I did putting it together. Oh, and make sure you've got the sound on. The music really sets the mood.
Tuesday May 5 2009File under: travel, video

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Good Hosts

Traveling can be a tedious endeavor: language barriers, different beds every night, very little familiar territory, no space to really feel comfortable. Traveling solo adds the extra aspect of not having someone to share thoughts and observations with, etc. Don't get me wrong; all the newness and time for reflection can be a very good thing, but it sometimes is just plain hard.

Enter wonderful people. In Japan and Taiwan, I was fortunate to have a number of wonderful hosts to help ease the hardships of travel. Whether providing guidance on local activities (many of which I would have never experienced otherwise), welcoming me and sharing their lives with me, offering up generous use of their homes and a place to sleep*, or just indulging my brain dumps (and chance to speak English for a while), I realize that my experience wouldn't have been nearly as wonderful without these people. So to Bob, Dave, Kristin, and Bryan I can't say thank you enough. If ever I can repay you in whatever way, I'll be glad to do it.

In thinking about it, all my travels of late have been helped along and enhanced by so many good people: Steve and Hope in Grenada, Gabriella in Mexico, so so many good folks on the eastern seaboard, Andrew and Gretch in Portland, and Sibley and Nina in Santa Cruz just to name but a few. I count my lucky stars each time I think about it, and hope that the generosity they all have shown me comes back around to them someday. As I hope, I realize that the best way to make sure that happens is to be the best host I can be whenever I get the chance. So next time you, any of you, pass through Anacortes, know that you've got a willing host to put you up, show you around, and help in any way possible. After all, it is the least I can do.
Tuesday April 14 2009File under: travel

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Meebo HQ Visit

Silicone Valley is like my Hollywood. Just as a visitor to Hollywood might buy a Map to the Stars and go hunting for their favorite celebrity's homes, I stalk and gawk around Silicone Valley looking for my favorite tech companies. Highest on that list is meebo.

Meebo is a company started back in late 2005 that allows users to access all their various instant messaging protocols via a unified interface all through through their browser*. The nerds among you probably already know all about it. I imagine the non-nerds don't care. Anyway, I've been following the company since its start-up via their blog where they write about the venture capital aspect, the technology hang-ups, the social culture of the bay area, moving from a garage to a real office space, hiring people, etc. etc. Seeing it all in person was something I've been wanting to do for a while.

When we found the location, I was positively giddy. I was so giddy, in fact, I thought it prudent to stroll the avenue for a minute or two before making too much of a fool of myself by knocking on the door. While trying to compose myself on the street corner, I recognized a meebo-er* and lost whatever composure I had managed to regain. Long story short, I finally got up the guts to poke my head in to the office. I was given a quick tour, a smile, and a meebo t-shirt*. I snapped a goofy picture for the blog, and I was out the door. (The giddiness, however, remained for a good 2 hours.)
Sunday April 12 2009File under: travel, USA

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Santa Cruz Visitor Decathlon

Firstly, good work to all those that correctly identified last post's interchallenge: Trees Of Mystery near Klamath, CA on highway 101. In all the times I've passed by it, I've still never paid the $13 to do the tour. Maybe someday...

We just finished with a wonderful (albeit way too short) visit to Santa Cruz. Although it may have been short, we still managed to complete 7(ish) of 10 of the Visitor's Decathlon events.

1. Tree Platform: a platform 72 feet up in a redwood at the top of a ridge overlooking the Monterrey Bay.
2. frisbee golf: we played 9 holes on the world renowned frolf course.*
3. roller coaster: the Giant Dipper is the 3rd oldest roller coaster in the US. It is wooden, it is historic, and it is awesome. *
4. Saturn Cafe: quirky vegetarian cafe. We ate there. It was delicious.
5. Malobar's or Dharma's: this is one we missed. We only had a few meals to eat out and this missed the cut.
6. pier and sea lions: check.
7. surfing or watching surfers: this is the ish. The weather wasn't great so they weren't out in droves, and we had already stopped for a bit up highway 1 to watch the gnarl be shralped.
8. Tandem bike: missed it. Next time...
9. Mystery Spot: Alisa and I thoroughly enjoyed this one*.
10. Adult gymnastics: had we had more than 48 hours in Santa Cruz, this is one we definitely would have liked to get in. Instead, we played some beach volleyball*.

I had so much fun on this decathlon, maybe I should consider looking into the Olympics...
Thursday April 9 2009File under: travel, USA

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Changing Gears

For those of you who recognize where this picture is taken, you might be feeling a little confused. (For those of you who don't recognize the location of the photo, consider it an interchallenge*.) "I could have sworn Wren was in Japan." Well, I was*. Then I came home. For 36 hours. Then I left again. Wheeeee!!

I don't want to divulge too much about my current location because interchallenges are so much fun. But since a picture-less blog post is so thoroughly frowned upon, I have to add these little pictorial hints as to location of said road trip. Hint #1 Hint #2
Monday April 6 2009File under: travel, USA

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Vending Machine Restaurants

I mentioned how the Japanese love their vending machines*, right? Well, it's not only street corners where you find them. Some restaurants use vending machines in place of counter people. You just put your money in, select the button of the item you want (assuming you can read what the button says, which I can't (although sometimes there are pictures)), and then take the ticket over to the cooks, and you're good to go.

It is really a clever business model. It gets rid of the need for a person to deal with the money and orders and no one can be blamed for screwing up an order. All the restaurants of this type that I saw (which were pretty much in any big city) had only 2 cooks, and that's all. It really serves to keep costs down which is reflected in the price of the food. Most places, you could get udon or soba noodle soup for around $3.00. If you wanted a little meat in the form of a tempura prawn or processed fish tube*, it might cost a little extra.

Yep, once you learn how it works, vending machine restaurants are awesome. Before you know how they work, well, not so much*.
Friday April 3 2009File under: travel, Japan

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