More Minor Media Mentions

Forgive me if it seems self-centered to post such little things like a minor picture in a small-press magazine. This blog, while mostly for the purpose of keeping ya'll informed (and hopefully a little entertained), is also my virtual scrap book, something that I will look back on when I am 90 and say "those were the good old days"*.

Anyway, a picture of me made it to the Klipsun magazine, a WWU publication. A big thanks to team Weddle for spotting it and delivering it. To see non-scanned, original photos as well as read the text of the article, check it out on here on their website.

Besides a misspelling of my name, I can't really complain. There is just something neat about seeing yourself in print, I think. Maybe if this small-press media luck continues to rise, I might just make it to the NY Times someday.
Wednesday April 15 2009File under: misc

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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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Pachinko Postcard

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Wednesday April 1 2009File under: travel, Japan

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East Japan Picture Catch-up



I know my last couple posts have been light on photos, so here's a sample of what I've been up to. (East Japan is actually better described as northern Honshu, but my rail pass calls it East Japan, so I'm just rolling with it.)
Tuesday March 31 2009File under: travel, Japan

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The Great Asian Breakfast Dilemma

I'm an unashamed breakfast guy. For me, it's easily the best meal of the day*; such variety, such flavor, and oh so much comfort. In my travels in Asia, however, a satisfactory breakfast is hard to come by.

Sure I get by. I'll do fruit from a street stand, steamed bread dumplings from a convenience store, or even the occasional McDonald's breakfast sandwich*. If I'm lucky enough to be staying with a friend, I'll whip up a scramble with whatever recognizable veggies I can find and some proto-cheese or rejoice in a bowl of cereal.

More often than not, however, I do as the locals [presumably] do. Often that means rice and fish or really white white bread with non-jam jam. At the occasional hotel, a breakfast buffet is included which stateside would make me wake up early like a kid on Christmas morning. Here, however, I trudge downstairs with at least the promise of a comfortable chair to do my crossword in if little else.

Lunches and dinners, give me what you got; mayonnaise and corn pizza, seaweed noodle soup, cabbage pancakes, etc. I'll at least try it and walk away feeling my horizons have been expanded. As for breakfast, a nice Denver omelet would really hit the spot right about now. Heavy on the cheese, please.
Sunday March 29 2009File under: travel, Japan

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Ohio-gozaimasu

File this one under completely random Japanese experiences:

I'm now in the city of Towada in northeast Japan. It is a small-ish city that again doesn't see many honkies. As per usual, I set out on the town with no agenda but to wander around (and possibly buy an ice cream or 3). I was being shown around by a friend of a friend (people are awesome!) - getting the back story on the town, recommendations for which sushi place to check out, etc. Anyway, walking through the town's park (home of baseball and soccer fields, track, and sumo ring, all open to the public), we happened upon the high school's baseball practice.

All of the sudden, while we were just chatting on the side line, we hear the coach yell "Ohio gozaimasu" (which means "good morning") and the whole team stops what they are doing, turns to face us*, and yells "Ohio gozaimasu" (loudly, much like a military response). Then comes the weird part: they all bow, very deeply from the hips, showing us the top of their heads, and just staying like that. Um...awkward. We said "ohio gozaimasu" back and bowed back (although of course no one saw us bow because they were all still very bowed.) Then we slowly backed away.

Traveling is neat.
Saturday March 28 2009File under: travel, Japan

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