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Really enjoyed being on the “Public Cloud: Friend or Foe?” panel at . The opportunity for growth is massive, and embracing public cloud with open arms will be the key to success for @Reliam.

 

Sitting at a pool on the side of a mountain with a good friend, drinking a margarita, and enjoying a cheeseburger. Life’s good!

 

Checked into Yard House

Meeting up with an old friend.

 

Checked into Hey19

Drinks and dinner with a friend.

 
 

Linda jumps at the chance to chaperone Tina’s weekend away at a heroine conference, but Tina’s new friend could put Linda’s perfect weekend in jeopardy. Meanwhile, the younger Belchers have plans for their weekend alone with Bob. What could possibly go wrong?

Watched on Fire TV

 

Watched Sing

A koala named Buster recruits his best friend to help him drum up business for his theater by hosting a singing competition.

Watched on Fire TV

 

When Bob’s friend, Warren, comes to town, he makes an offer to invest in the restaurant. Bob is thrilled that it finally could get a much-needed makeover, until he learns that Warren has some strong interior design choices in mind. Meanwhile, Warren’s visit means one of the kids must give up their bedroom.

Watched on Fire TV

 

Checked into The Situation Room

Checking out a friend's art exhibit with the family.

 

When Bob’s longtime friend, Critter, finds himself in jail for unpaid parking tickets, the Belchers decide to do what they can to help him out. Meanwhile, Linda takes on a babysitting job that becomes more work than she signed up for.

Watched on Bedroom

 

David Letterman: National Treasure

3 min read

Retired David Letterman, not actually Sasquatch.I finally got around to reading David Marchese's incredible interview of David Letterman for Vulture on my flight to Atlanta today, and its pure gold. Throughout the interview, Letterman addresses everything from politics, to his interview style, to the late night wars with Jay Leno, to which he hilariously responds, "I'm assuming I'll bump into him before I die."

Letterman also touches on grappling with a return to "civilian life," and adjusting to living the life of an average American. His exchange with Merchese over his attempt to purchase new shoelaces is prototypical, classic David Letterman, and made me laugh out loud:

I needed a pair of shoelaces. And I thought, Hell, where do you get shoelaces? And my friend said, there’s a place over off I-84, it’s the Designer Shoe Warehouse. So I go over there, and it’s a building the size of the Pentagon. It’s enormous. If you took somebody from — I don’t know, pick a country where they don’t have Designer Shoe Warehouses — blindfolded them and turned them loose in this place, they would just think, You people are insane. Who needs this many shoes? It’s sinful.

The interview eventually does turn to politics. One of my favorite segments of the centers on Vice President Mike Pence, from Letterman's home state of Indiana:

Pence scared the hell out of me. There was a therapy …. conversion therapy. That’s when I just thought, Oh God, really, Indiana? I don’t care if you’re a fundamentalist Christian — even they have gay relatives. They can’t be saying homosexuality is a sin. It’s horseshit. Then, this transgender issue that just happened, I just think, Are you kidding me? Look, you’re a human, I’m a human. We’re breathing the same air. We have the same problems. We’re trying to get through our day. Who the fuck are you to throw a log in the road of somebody who has a different set of difficulties in life?

Letterman has always been such a wonderful, sardonic voice that is really missing from late night television. He wasn't just a silly comedian poking fun at any and every topic, he was just a quirky guy from Indiana who just wanted everyone to enjoy life. During his tenure as a late night talk show host, he reacted with such candor and authenticity to every piece of news, and it really felt like you were having a conversation with a funny uncle.

In the interview, Letterman also addressed how late night television is increasingly able to talk politics:

Bill Clinton having sex with the intern, well, that’s not comedic heavy lifting. After that it became George W. Bush, and I thought he was funny in a harmless way. I mean, Dick Cheney was the guy to keep your eye on at a party, because he’d be going through your wife’s purse. But George W. was nothing but fun.

Thoughout the interview, Letterman refers to the sitting President of the United States as "Trumpy," and it gives me more joy than it probably should. Gold, I say! Pure gold.

David Letterman is a gosh darn national treasure.

 
 

Culture Shock in Kyoto

5 min read

Well, its been a long time since I have made an entry! I have been keeping myself very busy here in Japan, and its been extremely difficult to find a time to do anything but eat, sleep, go to class, and tour around town! I will do my best to summarize my time here so far...

We arrived at our hotel late in the evening, after a long flight and a short bus ride. The hotel seems pretty nice from the look of the lobby, but the rooms are ridiculously small, and the bathrooms are even smaller. In fact, everything is smaller here in Japan, right down to the people. The bathroom looks like a slightly extended version of an airplane bathroom — and I am not kidding, this room is unbelievably tiny. The breakfast in the hotel is wonderful though, and is a combination of western and Japanese breakfast foods, including salmon, sticky rice, traditional miso soup, and tofu.

The program purchased us meal coupons with a value of ¥1000 apiece, and we can use these to eat at one of four restaurants. There is a traditional Japanese sushi place, a Chinese restaurant, a tempura and friend foods place, and a hearty foods (i.e. steaks, fried fish, etc.) place. The Chinese restaurant is by far the best, and they have a great noodle dish with egg, crab meat, and carrots with some spicy fried chicken, and fried rice. I tried out the sushi place, and ordered a dish with nothing but raw fish, and I wasn't really all that impressed with it — cooked fish is so wonderful, I can't really think of any reason to eat it cold and raw!

One interesting thing that I did this week was visit the Kyoto Hanatouro celebration of lights at a temple in the heart of the city. Once a year, to celebrate the lighting of the lanterns at the temple, a festival celebration is held for a week during the evenings. There was live traditional Japanese music, Geishas, art exhibits, and a huge stream filled with bamboo lamps. It was too dark to get any pictures, and its a real shame that I cannot show you this! It was absolutely beautiful!

We also visited a second temple during the day called Higashi Honganji, which is right down the street from our hotel. This temple is the Mausoleum of Shinran Shonin (1173-1262), the founder of Shin Buddhism, and also the mother temple of the Shinshu of Otani-ha, one of the largest Buddhist denominations in Japan. The temple is absolutely stunning, and is one of the largest wooden structures in Japan. We walked around for a few hours, and I actually did manage to take a few pictures here.

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Probably the most fun thing that I have done in Japan thus far is karaoke. A group of 9 of us found a tiny hole in the wall karaoke bar overlooking a river. We rented the entire place out for 2½ hours. We were able to eat all the snacks (crazy japanese snack food) and drink all the drinks (soda, beer, sake, etc.) that we could for the entire time. We had a complete blast singing, since we all knew each other and didn't mind making ourselves look too silly. It reminded me a lot of the good old Thad & Joe's back in the ATL!

A few days ago, our class took a field trip to Kyoto Movieland, which is probably the single worst theme park in all of history! They make Samurai and Kung-Fu B-Movies at this park, and you can watch them film, take pictures with the Samurai and Geisha, and waste your money on silly plastic swords and chopsticks. One of the only redeeming parts about this day was the ninja show at the park, which was entirely in Japanese, carried out by terrible actors, and complete with all the insane music and plot twists that you find in Japanese Animation. I had a good time even though this was a silly park, just because it was so bad.

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Another cool thing that we have done in Kyoto is visit all of the shops and markets that we can find. I haven't really been able to purchase very much, but its been really amazingly cool to look at all of the interesting things that you can buy here. Probably the coolest place is a massive electronics store on the 6th floor of Kyoto Tower building. They have all of the electronics that will be coming out in the U.S. in 2 years, including digital cameras the size of credit cards, tiny computers, cool MP3 players, and much much more. I walked around this place for a few solid hours playing with all of the cool gadgets!

So far, I am having an excellent time here in Japan, and the culture shock hasn't actually been too bad! I have had a wonderful time trying to communicate with all of the people here. Its been fairly difficult to get even the most common things done, but with a phrase book, a pen, and a lot of bowing, its possible to get things done! Tomorrow morning I am taking a bullet train to Osaka for a day to watch some Sumo Wrestling and walk around the town. Then on Sunday we are packing our bags and taking the train to Hiroshima! I will try and be better about my blogs, I still love you and miss you all!

 

Queenstown & Milford Sound

7 min read

This past weekend was my last in New Zealand, so a large group of us decided to go all out on a four day road trip. We packed 15 people into three small cars and headed out of ChristChurch late Thursday afternoon. We stopped a few hours down the road at Lake Tekapo for dinner, and one of our cars (mine) had a dead battery, because someone (me) was stupid and left the lights on. After a few tries and a call to the roadside assistance, we managed to jump our car and get moving.

After several more hours of travel, our car then began to realize that we were running a bit low on gas (we had about a half a tank at this point, but you can never be too careful in a place like New Zealand). We drove and drove, but the further south that we traveled, the fewer signs of civilization we saw. Finally, we pulled into Cromwell, which is about 45 kilometers from our destination. We rolled into the gas station with about 1 litre of gas remaining in our tank as they were turning off the pumps, and they were kind enough to allow us to fuel up. Relieved, we arrived at our hotel in Queenstown around 1:30 AM, ready to sleep.

In the morning, we awoke refreshed and ready for a big day. Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand, with plenty of opportunities to skydive, bungee jump, jet boat, etc. In the morning, we elected to ride the "gondola" (a glorified ski lift) up to the top of one of the mountains to ride on the mountain luge. The mountain luge is essentially a concrete track that winds its way steeply down the mountain. Once you purchase a ticket, and strap a helment on your head, you can ride a small sled-like cart down the track at extremely ludicrous speeds. This was an absolute blast, and we all had a great time racing each other, getting into wrecks, and generally causing trouble.

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After our fun on the luge, we headed back down the mountain on the gondola, ate lunch, and walked around the town, which is absolutely beautiful. Queenstown is nestled in the middle of a bunch of beautiful mountain ranges, including one of the most stunning mountain ranges in New Zealand, the remarkables. The mountains are broken up by small valleys and lakes, which Queenstown sits in the center of. Pictures and words really cannot do this place justice — it is easily the most beautiful place I have seen in New Zealand.

At 3:00 PM, three of us were picked up at the information center by the Thermal Velocity bus to travel a few kilometers out of town to go hang gliding. As we drove up to the landing site, the drivers talked with us about the experience and generally got us all excited about what we were preparing to do. Upon arrival at the landing site, we met with our pilots, and watched them disassemble the gliders to pack them up for our trip to the launching site. We then rode in a bus up the mountain to a small parking lot, and were given a brief lesson on how to take off, land, steer, and be safe. The view from the peak was absolutely stunning, and I was truly excited, but a little nervous, before takeoff.

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My pilot, a swedish guy named Anders, and I were coupled together by a few carabeaners, and we took our position underneath the glider. We picked it up, aimed it at the edge of the cliff, and waited for some wind. On Anders' command, we began to run together at full speed toward the edge, and continued running for a few seconds down the steep cliff until the wind picked us up. I pushed my feet against the bottom of my harness, as instructed, and we were airborne. The feeling of unhindered and controlled flight was amazing, and not at all frightening. The glider can be controlled effortlessly by leaning, pushing, and pulling. We glided parallel to the mountains for a while, enjoying the view, and looking for thermal pockets to ride to higher altitude. Suddenly, we found a pocket of rising, hot air, and shot upwards. Now high above the ground, we headed slowly away from the mountains. Anders allowed me to pilot the glider for a few minutes, which was sort of scary, but very cool.

As we approached the landing site, I noticed that we were near the field in distance, but far too high above to land on it with our heading and speed. I asked Anders about this, and he smiled. He told me to push forward on the control bar as hard as I could, so I forced my arms forward, and our nose began to point directly upward. Anders took control, and we stalled, plummeting toward the earth, and then gracefully shot back upwards. We did a few more extremely exciting tricks, losing a lot of altitude, and then did a nose dive towards the ground, finally leveling off at the last second for a fairly smooth landing. What an amazing experience! We were only in the air for 15 or 20 minutes, but it was peaceful, beautiful, and exciting! Everyone should do this at least once. I have a roll of undeveloped film from a camera that was attached to the glider, and I will try and post some pictures as soon as possible.

After hang gliding, we met up with the rest of the group to talk about all of our adventures for the day, and then drove until late in the evening to Milford Sound. We stayed in a hostel that evening, and it was very sub-par, but was the only place to stay in the extremely small town. There were no good working phones, no electricity after 11:00 PM, and a single cafe to eat at. In addition, gas is only pumped a few times a day, so you have to be very careful and timely about your arrival and departure times.

In the morning, we drove to the harbor, and boarded a boat to take a 3 hour cruise. Milford Sound is actually not a sound, but a fiord that was carved out by glaciers in the last ice age. The result is a beautiful, very steeply walled mountain range enclosing a narrow channel of water. On our cruise, we saw dolphins, seals, an underwater observatory, and enjoyed the wonderful sights. Once we returned to the harbor, we set off for our next destination, Te Anui.

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Te Anui is a small town a few hours north of Milford Sound, and we checked into our hostel around 6:00 PM. We then headed into the city and ate dinner at a fantastic italian restaurant. I split an excellent pizza and a great pasta dish with a friend, and then we went out for a brief night on the town. Upon return to the hostel, we crashed into our beds, exhausted. This morning, we woke up around 9:00 AM, and drove 7 hours back to ChristChurch. It was an amazing weekend, and a great way to wrap up my time here in New Zealand! I still have a week left here in ChristChurch, and then I am off to Cairns, Australia and finally, to Japan!

I love you and miss you all!

 

The Sevens... "Go Kiwis!"

4 min read

Every year, the top 16 countries in rugby send teams to participate in the International Rugby Sevens tourney in Wellington for two days jam packed with 44 games. Sevens is a form of rugby where each side has 7 players, instead of the typical 15, and the game is played in two 7 minute halves. This makes for an extremely fast-paced form of rugby that even Americans can enjoy =)

I purchased tickets for the Sevens before leaving the states through a friend here in Wellington, and convinced some guys on the trip to come along with me. After renting a car in Lake Taupo and arriving in Wellington late on Thursday night, we woke up on Friday morning and headed down to WestPac Stadium for the start of the Sevens. Upon arriving, we assaulted my kiwi friend with questions about the game, so that we would understand what was going on. Its a fairly simple game, so we got into it early on.

The first match of the day was the U.S.A. against South Africa. We found out quickly that the U.S. isn't known for its rugby teams, as South Africa trounced us 26-5, and then Samoa took us to school 49-0. Ouch! The U.S. did get a victory later in the day by defeating the Cook Islands 26-12. We made sure to play the role of the obnoxious Americans during the whole first day, chanting and shouting for the U.S. even though we were terrible =)

The New Zealand team on the other hand is incredible. They are strong, confident, and play with bursts of speed that are unrivaled by the rest of the world. They outscored opponents 112-12 on the first day, taking out Tonga, Papua New Ginuea, and then destroying England in the final match of the first evening.

The next day, my friend's family invited us up to their house for a Kiwi BBQ before the following days matches, and we gladly accepted the offer. The food was great, and got us charged up before Saturday's festivities.

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By the time the second day rolled around, we were all huge fans of this rugby thing, and had decided to go ahead and pull for the home team. This allowed us to make a lot of friends in the stands, who would in turn pull for the U.S. team too. The U.S. team won two in a row to advance to the Bowl Semifinals, where we tragically lost a close match to a tiny little Pacific island team called Niue... we were crushed.

The New Zealand team, however, had worked its way into the brackets for the championship game, which it had never won at home in Wellington. The kiwis beat the Samoans in a very close match early on to advance to the semifinals, where they played Fiji, a powerhouse. This was easily the best game of the day, as the Kiwis rallied from losing a man to a yellow card and won the game by scoring on the last play of the game to advance to the Cup Championship against England, who surprisingly defeated Australia and was out for blood against NZ after its embarrassing defeat the night before.

As the final approached, the crowds were firing themselves up by singing Kiwi drinking songs, and the energy level was high. The crowds tend to dress themselves up as random characters like Santa Claus, Colonel Sanders, Fred Flintstone, or even Satan. The funniest group decided to dress up as a bunch of U.S. commandos, and they had Osama Bin Laden in chains and would beat him up on the big screen every time New Zealand scored in a game! Very funny stuff! Today I was watching the local news coverage and saw some folks dressed up as Pooh Bear and Eeyore, which reminded me of Lacey in her costume a few Halloweens ago! Lacey in an Eeyore costume at the Sevens would be one of the funniest sights in the world =)

In the final game, New Zealand won a close match with England to capture its first tourney win at home. The team walked around the stadium doing a dance for the audience as people chanted "Go Kiwis!" Last night we celebrated with the city of Wellington until 3:30 AM and enjoyed being honorary Kiwis for a day. What a fantastic weekend!

 

Zebo's, "The Fats", and Somes Island

3 min read

Last night, we decided it would be a good night for going out on the town, since there were a few people having birthdays yesterday. A friend of mine from Wellington gave us some tips on where to go, and we headed out and met her at a little bar called Zebo's. We stayed there for a little while, and then travelled to Wellington's most famous bar The Fat Lady's Arms, or as they lovingly call it "The Fats". The Fats is to bars what Waffle House is to restaurants. As a result, The Fats has a sign inside proclaiming that it is "the best bar in the world." After my experience there, I don't doubt it. We had a great time hanging out there, playing pool, and people-watching, and we eventually called it a night.

This morning, we went on a field trip with my Biology class to see Somes Island, which is a small island out in the center of Wellington's waterfront harbor. The island used to be used as a quarantine for animal research, and has since been turned into a wildlife reserve. We hopped on a ferry for a short 20 minute ride and arrived at the island around 11:00 AM. We were free to walk on the island pretty much all day, and started by hiking around the island's perimeter. While walking we encountered sheep, birds, and beautiful mountainous landscapes. The view was also excellent, but we decided that walking around the island wasn't enough.

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A few of us broke off from the rest of the group and left the path to find a way to climb to the island's peak. We found a small path hidden somewhat from the main track, and ducked our way through vegetation until we emerged at the top of the island. The view was amazing, and we had put ourselves in a little bit of danger — which felt good. Not good enough though... so we found a tree at the crest of a hill, and took turns climbing it in the furious wind. Satisfied with ourselves, we descended back down to the base of the island, and ate lunch on a little stone bench with a beautiful view of the ocean and Wellington.

This evening, we went to see "My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding" at a theater down on the waterfront, and took it easy because we were all exhausted. Still having a great time here in Wellington, and I miss you all!