New Year’s is a time to both reflect on the past and look forward to the future.
Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about photography.
Initially it started with a desire to pick up some new gear.
After looking around I decided I wanted a mirrorless camera. The size and weight savings is important to me compared to the older DSLR technologies. The picture quality is just as good in most situations.
Surprisingly the leader in the mirrorless space is not Cannon or Nikon. It’s Sony. Cannon and Nikon fell asleep (they were arrogant and clueless) and Sony took over the market. I have no doubt that Cannon and Nikon will eventually make good mirrorless cameras, and people will stick around to support them because of the brand names and the amount of lenses available, but at the moment I am not buying any mirrorless bodies from them.
I initially thought I would want a full frame sensor. Bigger sensors generally lead to better pictures. But I decided to go with an APS-C sensor as in my opinion the difference between full frame and APS-C is negligible and the cost is significant.
If I want a bigger sensor I think the right move would be to go up to the medium format, but that’s not something I’m interested in at the moment from a creative perspective.
In the end you can talk about gear and specs forever, but it’s a lot more important to make a decision and get out to shooting.
I went back and forth and eventually picked up a Sony a6300 simply because I think it is going to allow me to take better pictures than any other camera (for myself personally). The lower cost of APS-C lenses and the money saved on the body allow me to pick up a couple lenses like the Sigma 30mm 1.4. I also have the Sony 16-50 kit lens and picked up the 55-210.
Almost everyone hates cheap kit lenses, but they are pretty versatile and useful. I shot many of the pictures on this site with my Pentax kit lens. That lens and the K-30 camera (which people also make fun of) taught me the basics of photography and allowed me to learn and grab some good shots.
Blah blah blah.
I debated selling my old gear but I might keep it around. The body won’t sell for much. And I don’t mind having my old zoom lens and macro lens. Both can be used on my current camera with a cheap adapter that I picked up.
I’ll post some pictures from the new gear later on.
But first, I decided to go through all of the older pictures that I took with my old gear.
I wanted to see what I was doing wrong. What I was doing right. What I overlooked. What I could have done better or worse.
I decided to grab some of these older pictures and edit them and present them here.
In my last post I said I took 10,000 pictures. But I was wrong. That number was somewhere over 20,000. Still not a lot, but closer to the amount that it felt like I took.
These pictures have not been included on this site yet. The intention is not to go through and make small changes or edits. But rather to look through all of the old pictures I had with a new mind and see if there was any interesting stuff that I did not previously post.
There were some pretty cool shots that I saw. Most of the more recent stuff is not included because I naturally feel those shots are shot and edited in a satisfactory way.
The first shot is one of the first that I ever took. It needs more room to breathe but I like the mood that the image portrays.
The next is shot from a plane as I was flying into Alaska. It was shot through a window that was overly blue saturated. I dialed that back a bit. I’m not happy with the colors here (it reminds me of the terrible coloring you see on a lot of instagram pictures), but it’s about as good as I can do.
This next picture is one that I messed around with a while ago but was unable to make it work. It’s not as focused as I wanted it to be, but framing it this way allows it to be successful. I’m often torn with whether to make real life scenes that appear in black and white, to make them actually black and white. Usually it leads to a better image, but I think there is a beauty in keeping the natural colors. This image is a color image, although it portrays itself as a black and white.
Here is an interesting shot of some mountains and a glacier.
This next shot has amazing lighting. It was shot out in Colorado.
This next shot isn’t all that great. It’s of some steps shot out in Rome. It’s just ok.
These next two images are actually really cool looking. I was messing around with ISOs shooting a couple longer exposures one night out amongst the vineyards in Italy. The sun set late so you have this effect of a sunset and a starry night sky. The dandelions in the first picture give the grass a yellow color.
Surprised I missed these, but maybe I thought they were too similar to other pictures I posted.
This next picture is one from Casa Batllo out in Barcelona. I could see myself shooting something like this again current day.
This next shot is a mistake. But I really like it a lot. It looks pretty cool visually. But the cool part is that it’s a picture of the Eiffel Tower. It is common to see the typical pictures of the Eiffel Tower. But if someone showed me this picture I would like it. It’s not a common view of the Eiffel Tower. And I think maybe it’s more interesting than most pictures of it.
Here’s a picture of the Alps out in Switzerland. These things really just shoot themselves.
Redwoods out in Redwood National and State Parks.
A couple pictures from out in Chicago.
Should have posted at least one of these but never did for some reason.
And one from Milwaukee.
I took this out in Cambodia at Angkor Wat waiting for a lady to take a picture. She was taking forever to take her picture. I snapped an image of her out of frustration. To be honest it looked a lot better with her in the picture than with her out of it.
A shot out in Halong Bay in Vietnam of a cruise ship at night. I like to sometimes mess around with moving the camera during longer exposures although sometimes it’s looks cheesy or terrible.
Pancake Rocks out in New Zealand. It’s maybe my best picture of them although at first look through these pictures I didn’t think I really captured it.
And that’s about it. Those are a bunch of pictures from the past that I had initially overlooked. I think some of them came out rather well.
I noticed some patterns with some of the pictures that I had taken. I overexpose in bright light. I take a lot of pictures of oysters.
Overall it’s been a fun ride with my first DSLR. I’m excited for my time with the mirrorless to start. I’ve been messing around taking some pictures. The small size and weight means it’s been on me pretty much every day since I bought it.
Here’s some duck breast I cooked up. Was my first time cooking it and it was amazing. Also duck fat fried potatoes are a delicious side.
Here’s a box of white sage.
This next pic is a shot I shot messing around with connecting the camera to my phone. You can control the camera via your phone with an app. So for this picture I placed the camera down and activated the shutter with my phone. From there the photo is sent via Wi-Fi to my phone. I then edited my image on my phone with Adobe Lightroom. It’s not the best picture (it was probably 4 in the morning when I took this), but that is a very powerful workflow for someone if they have a need to quickly take, edit, and post their pictures to the internet.
And this final picture is a reason why I’m keeping my Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens.
So that’s it. Hopefully everyone is spending a bit of time reflecting on their pasts and looking forward to the future.
I hope every has had a great year and has an even better one coming up.
For the previous nine months I had been building software for the Action Button product for a company called Speakable.
I have always felt that that was one of the best opportunities for me in the entire world, based on my mix of talents and dreams.
I got paid to go in every day and try to come up with a business model to save the world.
I built a bunch of cool software and worked with some great people.
I poured my soul into the opportunity.
We had access at our company to pretty much anyone in the world.
And when I say that, I mean that.
Literally any single person on the planet that you need to directly contact, or any person at any company.
If we needed to pitch to anyone, we could do it.
If we needed a partnership, we could have it.
It was the type of opportunity that you have nothing to do but take extremely seriously.
And pour your life into.
In the end I didn’t end up saving the world.
I guess I didn’t come close.
But for a while it was a privilege to try to put 7 billion people onto my back and try to give them everything that needed.
I was exposed to a tremendous amount of issues. And while it was overwhelming to be in a position to try to help them all, it was a dream to be able to work on them.
Startups come and go.
I have no doubt that Speakable will be successful. There’s too much opportunity not to. And at the core of it is a beautiful soul.
Moving on from a dream opportunity and back into reality.
There is probably a lot of questions to be answered.
A lot to be figured out.
What do I want to do with my life?
The typical things that I think we should always be contemplating and answering.
Who am I?
Questions are good.
Answers are good.
And when you are at a point where you need some of either, hopefully you have a place to turn to.
For me I had the opportunity to hang in Washington DC.
And look at art for a week.
I was feeling getting away from the beautiful city that is New York, and although DC is a city, it is much smaller. And shorter. And different. And full of some great art.
And so I went.
Nov 10, 2017
How to get the DC?
I have to talk about this because of aggravation that arose when trying to book a train ticket on Amtrak.
I think if you book this trip well ahead of time you can get it for $98 round trip. As it gets closer to departure and for better times you probably will pay $186. I was looking to grab a ticket the night before not knowing they adjusted prices (like the airlines do) and was quoted almost $400.
This is for a form of transportation that takes 2:45 to 3:30, not including the trek out to Penn Station, and the arriving early as to not miss the train. So probably 3:45 to 4:30 of travel. And then an uber or a taxi when you get to DC, probably putting your door to door travel at 4:15 to 5:00. And you have to lug your luggage all over the place.
Other options were to book a plane ticket for $250 the night before. Yes, to fly in an airplane was cheaper than a train. And at 1:20 much faster. It would involve swinging out to one of the airports in the area, but a trek out to Newark is pretty close. You still have to wait in security, catch some form of transportation to the airport and then again from the DC airport to the hotel. This would again put your door to door at closer to 4:00.
Then there’s always good old driving. Can be as quick as 3:20, but probably closer to 4:20 with the traffic. At 440 miles roundtrip and an estimate of $0.50/mile for the cost of a vehicle would put you at $220. I love driving and I think I was in the mood for a drive and so that’s what I went with.
I think bus may be a decent option but I’m not hipster enough to look into the bus schedule.
It’s tilting that in an area of maximum public transportation that the best option in the States is almost always to drive.
When you finally get to DC, go to Old Ebbitt Grill. I’d say it’s the restaurant you think about when you think about DC.
Oysters are half off for happy hour. Alright, that’s the only food picture on this entire post.
When that’s over head back to the rooftop of your hotel that will have a fire pit that you can enjoy without any of the crowds because it’s cold out.
Enjoy a unicorn bar from Buttercream Bakeshop.
Nov 11, 2017
Wake up and get to why you are here. Mostly contemporary art with splashes of modern.
Phillips Collection is definitely going to be a stop.
There’s a basement here featuring art from much younger children. No one is looking at it. But there’s some cool stuff like this piece called Peaceful Serenity by Winfield Vanison. Not sure if this is the first time you been written about Winfield, but keep up the good work.
Swinging up features a nice piece by Whitfield Lovell called Kin XLV (Das Lied von der Erde) that was done in 2011. The incorporation of a string of pearls as tears to add subtle dimensionality of an otherwise two-dimensional piece is awesome.
There is a Renoir exhibit here. There’s a quote on one of the walls saying:
“Even if the enormous expenses I’m incurring prevent me from finishing my picture, it’s still a step forward; one must from time to time attempt things that are beyond one’s capacity.” Pierre-Auguste Renoir in a letter to Paul Berard 1880.
I don’t really like quotes because of the way they are represented in forms like Instagram, but I think that one is relatable.
Here’s the colors Renoir uses in his palette, or at least they were before I changed them in Lightroom.
I’m not exactly in a mood to look at Renoir, and I think this collection of color in these little bottles might be the nicest thing in the exhibit.
I’m not having a go at Renoir.
His stuff can even be pleasant to look at, but a lot of times for me lately I want to see things that are made more recently. There is always a place for the classics, but what are the innovations of today?
The other thing I like here is this tiny drawing called On the Shore of the Seine made in 1879. This quickly executed oil study was probably a gift from Renoir to Alphonsine Fournaise to thank her for modeling for him. There’s kind of something romantic about thanking someone for doing something as intimate as modeling for you with a piece of your creative self.
The next stop is the Hirshhorn Museum. It can be arrived at with a stroll through the National Mall. I’m not here to do all of the USA stuff, but if it’s on the way, may as well give it a look.
There’s a cool hippie gathering out here that at times features some great music.
And there’s a dragon. I think it leads to a pretty cool shot.
I was thinking that would be my favorite image of the Washington Monument.
But I think this image looking up from one of the corners is more pleasing. I’m a bit upset that I didn’t center this better when I was there shooting it, but the simple shapes, simple colors, and beautiful textures make it pretty awesome.
The Hirshhorn has some good stuff. It’s a cool circular building which might give curators issues with exhibits or limit the creativity of exhibits they are willing to display.
Here’s a picture of the horizon. I like minimal photographs like this.
Oh PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE ARTWORK.
Here’s some stuff.
And this dude is excellently done.
Afterwards you may want to check out City Tap House Penn Quarter. They have some decent beers including the Abraxas by Perennial Artisan Ales. It’s one of those beer styles with chili peppers, cacao nibs, vanilla beans, and cinnamon sticks that has been over done. I mean, this stuff isn’t exactly beer any more, but it is delicious.
Nov 12, 2017
Another day, another bunch of art.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum has a great third floor (and probably other great floors as well but I wouldn’t know).
The Megatron/Matrix by Nam June Paik from 1995 features 215 monitors of various imagery. At times images are created outside of the monitors.
It’s a cool display.
This trip features a lot of cool screen format pieces.
Shout out to Coney Island.
There is a lot of over the top beautiful architecture in this city.
This piece if actually titled Cupcake Katy.
I’m digging lighting these days.
I love this piece because it reminds me of color palettes that you would see in a makeup store.
This piece is called Black & White by Byron Kim and Glenn Ligon from 1993. Black & White is a collaboration between Kim and Ligon, both of whom were struck by the limited pink-white range of “flesh-colored” paint available in the art store. In response, Kim, who is Korean American, painted sixteen panels of the pinkish flesh tones and Ligon, who is African American, painted sixteen panels using various black pigments.
A quick swing into the National Museum of Natural History to look at rocks. There are some good ones but it’s not as good as the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
Back out to the Mall to take a picture in front of what I heard tourists say was “the White House, you know, the one with the big dome on the top.”
Dinner at Founding Farmers is a good option.
Back to City Tap House for some 2017 Bell’s Black Note Stout.
Nov 13, 2017
Another day, another day of art.
First to the National Museum of Women in the Arts. There’s a couple floors of nice pieces here. And the building is beautiful.
But I think for me the most emotional piece is an installation of The Clothesline Project by Monica Mayer. It’s about sexual harassment and violence. The project initially began in 1978 when Monica was 24 years old. When she was 8 years old a 30-year-old man grabbed her vagina as she was walking through her town. Her mother was only a few steps ahead of her. “I was shocked but I am even more shocked this is a common experience.”
The statistics on sexual harassment and violence are, I can only define as, disgusting. For both men and women. If you want to have a downer of a day go spend a little while looking into it.
I’ve been surrounded my whole life by some amazing women. My grandmas. My mom. My sisters. My past loves. They’ve had an enormous influence on how I see the world and how I operate within it. I couldn’t imagine doing anything to harm them. And I don’t want a world where they feel unsafe and bad things can happen to them.
It’s nice to see the momentum behind a lot of this work. 40 years after Monica started her work the world is slowly changing.
People are coming forward, standing up with extreme courage, and helping to show other’s that they are supported.
There are many things that we will always have to be striving for as a society, and to eliminate all forms or harassment and violence should be a priority.
I read through some of these cards that were hanging (the hot pink color comes from the 70s, and is not a cliche nod to women). Most are devastating. Some show optimism. There are many.
After reading through them all I turn to Monica. She’s there. I want to hug her and say thank you. But I feel tears in my eyes. I extend my hand for a handshake. Mouth thank you, and tap my heart with my hand. And walk out.
I wanted to tell her that her work is really important. That she’s helped to push the world forward. But she already knows.
I throw my jacket on, wipe the tears away, and head out for the next museum.
We have a responsibility with how we live our lives.
The National Gallery of Art East Building is up next. It’s a gorgeous building. Probably the nicest I was in on the trip.
Segue. Sigh. Yea, a giant fifteen-foot cock courtesy of Katharina Fritsch.
Sometimes I feel everything is driven by sex. Especially art. And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. But often there is a lot more, much more important things.
This soot drawing by Lee Bontecou is rather beautiful. While maybe most known for her sculptures, it’s nice to see how some of that experience and those ideas translate to a different medium. You can see in the painting that it wants to be three dimensional. And the soot provides just the slightest capability for that.
Colors and textures.
There’s this one doorway which almost looks like it could be off limits that has these high quality beads hanging. Strongly recommend you just spread the beads and feel them with the outsides of your hands. And listen to them clink and clack together. They make a beautiful sound, that repeats over and over as the energy fades and they reassume their stillness.
Through the beads are a couple more pieces by our buddies Kim and Ligon, that we saw work from previously. Kim’s Synecdoche is an ever changing piece of work that includes skin tones and a list of the people that he matched them to. I think there is over 500 now in this piece. There are a lot. From time to time I’m pretty sure he comes in and changes the exhibit, adding, removing panels.
One of the coolest things in the museum is a video called Street by James Nares. It’s a collection of slow motion clips of every day life in New York City. The ability to slow down the city and afford the viewer enough time to start breaking down what would normally be incredibly fast paced scenes almost feels like a magic power. Walking in New York you don’t have time to look at the beautiful fast paced world that surrounds you. At this slow motion speed, you see the magic. You see expressions on people. For a moment you are able to see a person as more than a body, and just slightly glimpse their deep complexity and importance.
It’s a 61 minute that was created with only 2:40 of actual footage. It’s really a hybrid of video and photography.
I often wish some of the video that was available in museums were available online. Maybe it would diminish the presentation. But some of this stuff is just so gorgeous. It needs to be accessible to the world.
This is maybe the best I can do for you. It’s a lecture by Nares about the piece. You can fast forward through the lecture to see some great examples of the piece.
Ok, that’s enough art for the day. Time to swing out to ChurchKey, a good beer place out in the Logan Circle area. Here’s a beer called Fernet About It that unfortunately doesn’t taste like Fernet Branca.
There’s a Whole Foods Market nearby that has a good selection of bottled beer. They have some pretty good stuff here and I pick up a Deschutes Abyss.
Dinner for the night comes from Chercher Ethiopian Restaurant. They have some awesome injera.
Nov 14, 2017
Alrighty, one final day of art.
First up the Renwick Gallery. It’s a small museum. But there are some really cool quality pieces in here.
Some of these have been pretty heavily edited by me, but that’s the fun of it.
Some awesome woodwork here.
This is one of my favorite pieces. It’s just gorgeously done.
And this ended up being my 9,999th picture I took with my camera. Picture 10,000 is a similar one but of a different less pleasing angle. Seems like 10,000 pictures is a fair amount for how much I want to and do end up shooting. There’s probably been a decent shot or two in here somewhere along the way.
This ceiling installation is in a large empty room that has a couple comfortable seats that you can relax on.
Next up is the Art Museum of the Americas. It’s the smallest of museums I went to. There are a couple nice photographs but it’s really small.
Afterwards it’s time for some Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken.
Nov 15, 2017
The drive home is mostly uneventful.
That will be enough art for the moment. It was fun to swing down to DC and check out the museums. It’s great because most of the museums are free and you can choose to donate whatever you want.
This is a contrast to the stuff up in New York where stuff typically can cost between $40-$60 per museum.
Been jamming some travel recently, which is nice since I haven’t been in the mood much since my trip around the world. It’s nice that the excitement of the road is slowly stirring my soul once again.
I’ve also been venturing about New York City as often as I can since it only takes a couple minutes to get there and it’s only $5.50 round trip on the PATH (or $4.20 with the 10+ Trip SmartLink cards)
June 30: Montreal
Swung up to Montreal on a fairly uneventful car ride. Was pulled over for a going 75 in a 55 on the Taconic in Chatham, NY. I saw the cop but I didn’t really feel like slamming on the brakes because I was just doing the same speed as everyone else.
He pulls out behind me and throws the lights on. I look for a place to pull over and I can’t seem to find one. I have to slow down to a very slow speed on a two-way highway where people are driving at 75 miles an hour. There’s no shoulder. I slowly drive over the curb and onto the grass, still partially sticking out into the road. It’s unsafe and I end up scratching my bumper pretty badly in the process. The officer was nice. He tells me my PBA card is useless and writes me a 4-point ticket. He asked me if I had any questions. I say no and wish him a good day. He’s just doing what he’s told.
I hate speed limits. I hate speeding tickets. I hate everything that has to do with holding the world back from being efficient. It’s sad that we waste so much capital on enforcing systems that are designed to slow our progress. And it’s pathetic that the State of New York had to go through such measures to rob me. It’s the only speeding ticket I have ever got in my entire life. I think back to my time on the Autobahn and I quote it here because it makes me happy:
“Driving on the Autobahn is incredible… I’ve been cruising on the Autobahn between 90-100 mph, not pushing my little Opel past that. Even at that speed cars are passing me. It’s a beautiful thing.” – me
I’m sorry for quoting myself. I wasn’t originally planning on writing much here. I’ve lately been pretty disinterested in words. I was tempted to just throw some pictures up, but so far the words are flowing.
That was the original direction for this post three months ago. The standard rambling that I do accompanied with some pictures.
But things have changed quite a bit since then.
I’m not quite so sure how to finish this.
There are pictures that I want to post, but time has passed since they have been taken.
Back when I was deeply in love with someone who now won’t talk to me.
But so it goes in life and love.
There’s no closure.
You give your heart to someone and when things don’t work out there’s this weird thing you enter into.
Where you no longer talk.
And you no longer exist.
Because to do otherwise would be too logical and too painful.
And humans are emotional and love comfort above almost everything else.
You can take everything away from a person as long as you leave them comfortable.
Am I sad? I hope so. Sad just means you had something great.
There are a lot of opinions and a lot of feelings and a lot of things that I’m not sure I can entertain.
I followed my heart to this point in life and will continue to do so.
It’s the only way that I think is right.
At the expense of everything.
My heart guides me.
And so it will be.
So what about Montreal?
I could barely tell you.
Let’s have a look at the pictures.
The Notre Dame.
It’s a beautiful building. But at night it’s quite a site. Montreal does an amazing job with its lighting at night, and the Notre Dame is just one example.
Another is the BMO Bank of Montreal right across the street. If you were to spin the tripod around and shoot a picture, this is what you would see. Sure it’s just a bank, but on a night in Montreal it’s electric.
You may notice a lit up area above the bank. At several locations in old Montreal they play movies on the walls of buildings. The world is your theater.
There are some great bars and restaurants in old Montreal. And although it’s probably too touristy you should check it out.
Midnight passes and it’s Canada’s 150th birthday. Love to you. And love to all of Montreal which is celebrating it’s 375th year at the same time.
July 1: Montreal
I went to St-Viateur Bagel because I saw Anthony Bourdain do it. And if there’s one person set up to be as iconic to this time period as Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Kerouac were to the Beat Generation, it’s him. I’m sorry if that’s dismal but I just don’t see anyone else fitting the role better than him.
They don’t make bagel sandwiches there. You buy bagels, cream cheese, capers, and lox and make the bagel yourself. Thinking back I guess they even showed this in the show.
Back to the Notre Dame. It’s raining. It’s been raining.
Actually before we get to the Notre Dame I have to share a song I heard while I was waiting in the line to cross the border into Canada. It’s Trucs Styles by Bengale. There’s a lot of great music out this way, even on the old radio. I strongly recommend giving a listen to the radio out here if you’re road tripping through. Shout out to all the musicians out that way making great music that will never be heard by anyone.
Carrying on. Back into the gloomy clouds and rain. I was in Notre Dame about a decade earlier.
Actually. Let’s go back to before the border. Somewhere halfway through the middle of New York. Listening to some obscure radio station. Where I heard Wasted Days by Cloud Nothings. Props to you if you make it through the nine-minute track.
Ok. Take me to church. The Notre Dame is as amazing today as it was a decade ago. The colors and the lighting in this place is amazing. It’s almost completely cut out of wood.
It looks like a Disney princess castle or something.
Places of worship are too nice not to stop into.
Fleur-de-lis is a recurring symbol in my life.
Carvings and paint and light. Ultra on point. This stuff is easy to shoot.
After you see enough of this stuff head across the street to a place that sells tea.
And stroll the streets of old Montreal. I must admit not much of it looks this beautiful. It’s all covered with restaurants and tourist traps. But still, it’s nice and you should go.
On the way to Quebec City try going to Joe Beef because you saw Bourdain eat there too.
Drive through the fireworks.
But since you won’t be able to get a table, try sister restaurant Liverpool House.
And since you won’t be able to get into that either go to cousin restaurant Le Vin Papillon.
Ask the bar tender to bring you a tasting a their food because you trust his judgment and prepare to enjoy mostly vegetables that leave you shaking you head in anger that the glutinous Joe Beef had no open tables. Even ending the meal with a lobster won’t bring solace.
Drive to Quebec City.
July 2: Quebec City
At some point stroll over to good old Rue du Petit Champlain. Try to score a table at Le Lapin Saute. It’s a place I tried to eat at when I was last here but there were no available seats that night. Sure it’s the most touristy street ever but you can find good food here. Order the duck and rabbit platter. It has duck and rabbit prepared a whole bunch of ways, but the foie gras and rabbit rillettes are probably the best.
Seriously this street is packed with tourists in the summer. It’s a very different vibe from the freezing cold winter were it is only filled with locals.
Head up to the castle, or the Chateau Frontenac. You can get here via the funicular, which is a nice way to get up and down the hills. Go grab a drink at the bar. If you see the most beautiful drink being made I don’t recommend ordering one of those. It’s a gin and tonic.
Sigh. I’m talking too much. I didn’t think this would be the case but while the words flow…
Google best restaurants in Quebec City and go there. You might not have the chance to do this again. So you better do it right. The choice is Le Saint-Amour. It’s old school. Like really old school. But it’s French and it’s Quebec City and old French is perfect for the occasion.
I wanted to do a tasting menu but it doesn’t feel right.
So instead it’s foie gras five ways. Including foie gras creme brulee. You know. Creme brulee is a desert for old people. But I like it. And when it’s made of foie it couldn’t be better.
Also elk carpaccio.
Entrees are sea scallops and pork belly. And sweetbreads and shrimp. If you’ve never had sweetbreads you have to try them. They are one of life’s great luxuries.
Not sure where the sherry is but oh well.
On the way out you should probably take the car that valet offers to you. Just drive the thing down to hill and ditch when you get to the hotel. It’s about to pour in a couple minutes.
But of course you can’t steal someone’s car, even if it’s just for a drive down a hill. So decline and tell them it’s not your car. And walk. Out into the downpour.
Take cover in a touristy Italian restaurant where Budweiser is an import but you order it because America.
On the way back stroll down the winding roads messing about with the camera. Shoot some fire pictures.
And if you happen to be experiencing the world with the most beautiful woman you have ever seen in your life then make sure you work the camera as best as you can.
July 3: Burlington, VT
Have some more French food.
Shoot some more pictures.
Check out of old Quebec City and make your way out to Burlington, VT.
Stroll about the streets a bit of this heavenly place.
Go to The Farmhouse Tap & Grill because it’s the best. Grab some raw bar and some meat and cheese and some delicious beers. Listen to some hippie bros play some strings and sing some words.
Swing down to the water to check out the fireworks.
Then hop back in the car and drive all the way home in the middle of the night.
July 4: Tarrytown, NY
Sleep some more.
Then catch the fireworks one final time.
To complicate this even more I decided to write up that trip before I started the writeup for an earlier trip. So here’s that. It will be quick.
June 8: Cambridge, MA
Drive to Cambridge, MA. Why Cambridge? Because there’s an opportunity to work out this way.
Go to sleep because tomorrow starts early.
June 9: Boston, MA
Spend the day working and interviewing. Asking for piles of money so big that everyone involved in the situation is uncomfortable. That’s how it has to be done sometimes. Companies with a market cap in the hundreds of billions can afford it.
Then swing out to the heart of Boston.
Shoot some pictures.
Smile because all is well. Or maybe it’s not but you’re happy.
Check out the old sites. The Old North Church. The Paul Revere House. All of that stuff.
Stroll around the streets and shoot some more pictures.
You’re in Boston.
Grab some food at Neptune Oyster. They have a great scallop crudo. It was the best thing I had on the trip.
And there was some pretty good food. Like obligatory hot and cold lobster rolls. Oh and that hookup on that glass of sherry.
Afterwards stroll all around the city. Stroll around the wharf. Check out where they threw the tea into the water.
There’s great beer in this city. Stroll through Back Bay making your way back to the Fenway area. Stop into places and grab a pint at each one.
It might be packed because it’s commencement time.
It’s a different vibe from the day activities back in Cambridge. Where the mood was almost solemn. Because sometimes smart people don’t know how to party.
June 10: Boston, MA
Spend the morning grabbing another lobster roll. Take a bunch of pictures.
Then cut the trip short, swing back home, and make it home in time for a surprise birthday party.
So takeaways? I don’t really think there are any. There’s no closure in life (I think there might be). Let your heart guide you. Life. I have nothing but good things to say about the times where my heart directed me. Try to learn. Try to better yourself. The entire world is open to you. Love. Love always. Above everything thing go for love.
Apologize for random pics captured over the last two years, but I need to put them somewhere.
It was February. The darkness of winter was surrounding me. My annual lease for my vacation home in Ocean Grove was up on April 1st. The two-month deadline weighed on my soul. I had no problem extending my stay at the Jersey shore, but it wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I wasn’t meant to have another year there. Of falling in and out of love. Of late nights contemplating some of the world’s oldest questions. Of walking to the beach every other day to lie out in the summer sun. Of brainstorming potential business ideas and messing around with programming.
Those were a beautiful two years. My Asbury years. I enjoyed them tremendously. But, it was time to go. It was time to start the next part of my life. I had two months to decide what to do. Where I should go. What I should do. Or not do.
I’m moving into a time period of work. Of application of everything that I’ve learned. Of performance. Of building. Creating. I kind of feel like I want to spend the next decade or two in this area, although I’m sure there will be breaks. Opportunities for exploring. Always learning. But for the moment I am moving out of the role of student and into the role of creator. I have learned. Now it is time to do.
I hit the job market up. I extended my location range and the jobs I was willing to do. I was actively applying to New York City for the first time. I sent out applications to Philadelphia. To Jersey. I sent out a few to the DC area. I even sent some out to the west coast. One to Hawaii. A few globally.
As someone with five years experience in Department of Defense Systems Engineering work, knowledge of process improvement work, an MBA, self-taught software skills, and a desire for entrepreneurship the areas I was applying to were rather diverse.
I was having multiple phone interviews every day. I would say 80% were coming from NYC, Brooklyn, Jersey City, Hoboken. I had a few in-person interviews, all coming from the same area.
I was looking for a company and a position that was looking for me. I was looking for a mutual connection. I wanted something that was able to make use of my software, business, and engineering background. I also wanted something that I could grow. Something that I could push towards greatness. Something I could give myself to.
In the end I felt my opportunity would lie in the startup world. AngelList became a great way to connect with a world that I had aspired to be a part of. Sure, I wasn’t going to be working on my own business and my own idea. But while there was a lack of good ideas on my end, I would be able to take something else and push it forward for someone.
February became March. I had taken programming tests in probably ten different languages. Some I even passed. Sure I forgot the most basic of syntax once in a while as I was swimming in a pool of a dozen languages, but I understand enough of when to use what. I understand a bit about the architecture. Of what technologies are most appropriate for a company to be using both currently and in the future as it grows. I understand how lines of code translate into lines of accounting.
Based on the applying and interviewing process it seemed like the city would be my new destination. It’s a place I had avoided for some time. Trying to make things happen externally to it. But there’s just way too much opportunity here. The gravitational force of the city had finally captured me.
I had no idea where to specifically live. Since I didn’t even have a job yet I wanted a place that would allow me to work in a variety of places. I wanted access to the city. But I also wanted to be able to work in Brooklyn, Jersey City, and Hoboken. It seemed like the two options would be Brooklyn or Jersey City. There’s nothing really wrong with Hoboken but I just don’t personally align with it as closely as the other two.
I ended up choosing Jersey City for several different reasons. Brooklyn gave me access to the rest of Long Island, which wasn’t as attractive as access to New Jersey. There are a couple companies out in north New Jersey that I had interviews with. I also had friends and family in New Jersey. Not having to switch states was pretty cool and the ability to keep my car was great. I wanted to be as versatile as possible and so the Grove Street Path stop made the most sense for me. I’m 10 minutes to World Trade. 18 minutes takes me a block away from Penn Station. Hoboken is next door. I’m walkable to a lot of Jersey City. Brooklyn is about 40 minutes, which is reasonable for a commute. Newark is 18 mins, which gives me global access within minutes via the airport. And that’s all without a car. My car lets me squeeze into work in north Jersey. Friends and fam are about 30-40 mins away. Even my old love of Asbury Park is an hour ride for when I need to get down there to see Oh Wonder play Stone Pony.
March became mid-March. And with it an offer that I was happy with. It was essentially a six-week part-time offer with a startup. Kind of a test to see if the company liked me and my work. But realistically it was also a part-time engagement with a startup. And that means things will be changing. You never know what will happen with the company, and thus your livelihood. But it’s exciting stuff. What will the company become? How can I push it forward to something great? How can we harness the beautiful magic of the company? The delicate interplays of an infinite amount of ideas, concepts, boundaries, freedoms, influences, forces. There’s magic here, we just need to capture it.
The scramble for a place was quick, and mostly painless. Commuting from Asbury was going to take over two hours, so I really wanted to get into a place as quickly as possible. In the final week of March I was able to finally lock down a place. A space had opened up in Dixon Mills. Yes, I’m living in a converted space where they used to manufacture Dixon Ticonderoga pencils. You probably have used them before. Sure, my rent may have doubled, but the life experience and location to everything has increased by a massive factor. The world is open to me now.
The plan is to try out the city for a year. Give myself to it and see what it gives back. I have aspirations of success, but if it all ends up a disastrous mess then I can always pack up and head out elsewhere. I think it will be fine.
It’s been about two months since I started work. This is what I’m supposed to be doing. The city is where I’m supposed to be. It’s the coolest thing just doing what I’m supposed to be doing and casually moving through spaces or experiences that people come from around the world to see. Walking through the beautiful Oculus structure at the World Trade Center. Turning a corner and seeing the Flatiron Building. Walking down to the waterfront to check out my new city and seeing views of the New York City skyline. It’s a great place to be. In some ways I’ve been able to incorporate my love for travel into my life.
I love the work too. I’ve been jamming away on some natural language processing type stuff. Working with some new technologies and just loving it. I set an aggressive schedule a month ago and I’ll not only be able to meet that, but I’ll actually be able to deliver a second round of work as well. The goal here is just to jam as much as I can and give the company everything I can. In a startup it’s impossible to put yourself out of work. As soon as one thing is done there’s at least two more to do.
I love the team. I love the people that I’ve met. It’s been a great time. I didn’t really know what would happen because my contract would end after six weeks. Half the fun of working for a small team is not knowing what’s going to happen until it does. And just being open to the experience. I’m just rolling with it. I’m going to continue to throw myself at this beautiful city and see what comes of it.
Six weeks came and went. With it came a full time offer. I couldn’t be any happier to have the opportunity to keep jamming work. The decision to pick up and move without any guarantees has already been paying off.
In some ways I haven’t moved all that far away. And in some ways I have. But open invite to everyone to feel free to stop by if you’re out this way to catch up or hang. Or if you need a place to crash. Or a space to jam some creative work at. Or whatever.
Hopefully it wasn’t too absurd to take some pictures I’ve had lying around from the last two years of the shore and mash them with a story of what I’ve been up to. I guess I didn’t shoot Asbury anywhere near as much as I wanted to, but such is the case for most places I move through. You may have seen some of these pics but I haven’t really posted them in a consolidated area.
Before I left for my last trip, one of my buddies asked me to do one thing for him. He asked me to listen to the sounds around me and use my phone to record anything that sounded different. It was one small thing that opened up an entire channel to my travel experience that I might not have been able to enjoy otherwise. I strongly recommend using your ears more during travel as well as your life. What are all those noises and sounds that are going on around you? What sounds good? What sounds bad? What can you learn about a place from your ears? It’s been a long time since I was dialed into my listening like I was on that trip. The following 11 recordings are what stood out to me on the trip.
Warning: These sound clips are pretty bad quality as they have been recorded on a phone. The purpose of these clips isn’t to show you amazing audio or provide sound clips for your music mixes (sorry J!). Rather, they are here as short examples of things that I heard. Everyone shows people pictures of their trips, but what did those areas sound like?
1. Rap song in taxi leaving hotel for Yangon airport – Aug 07, 2016
This was recorded after my first night on the trip in Yangon, Myanmar. The electricity of the trip was in the air. I was halfway around the world. Immersed in a totally new place and culture. Visions of the golden temples I saw the night before were dancing across my mind. The tastes of my breakfast of mohinga and chicken puff pastries were still making my taste buds fire. I was in the back of a taxi heading to the airport to catch a flight out to the Inle Lake area of Myanmar. It’s not the best song and you can barely hear it on the recording, but it’s a song that probably will stick around in my memory. Bonus points to anyone if you can figure out what the song is. At some point I plan to listen to the entirety of Myanmar hip-hop in hopes of finding out what song this is.
2. Beer and a bite – Aug 07, 2016
This was the second night at a restaurant in the Inle Lake area called One Owl Grill. It was mostly full of backpackers. I rode to this place on a bike that my hotel let me borrow. It was one of the only times I’ve been on a bike in the last 15 years.
This clip is mostly the background noise I was listening to as I had a couple bites to eat and drank a beer. When Forever Young came on it was an extremely cliche moment, but I had to record it. It was as though life was a movie and this was the soundtrack that the director had stupidly chosen for the scene. A couple beers made the bike ride back to the hotel in the dark a bit more difficult, but also a bit faster. And a bunch more fun. I was halfway around the world speeding through the darkness in a country I barely knew existed. I was free and I was alive.
3. Inle Lake Buddhist temple – Aug 08, 2016
This was recorded at a Buddhist temple on Inle Lake. Religion is definitely a big part of culture out in Southeast Asia. It’s not uncommon to hear people chanting over loudspeakers if you’re at a temple. You have to take a boat ride to get out to this temple. The loudspeakers reach all parts of this little temple island.
4. Group of Buddhists, Wat Pho, Bangkok – Aug 11, 2016
This was a whole group of people singing a Buddhist song at Wat Pho in Bangkok. It was a similar sound that you might hear at a church service back in the States. The worshipers would sing a song along with a religious leader who was leading the chant.
5. Buddhist chanting Angkor Wat entrance – Aug 14, 2016
This was a group of three (I think) Buddhists chanting outside of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. I liked the way their voices sometimes sung in unison and sometimes dropped out so only one person was singing at a time. This sounded really cool live. It is captured a bit in this sound clip but lacks from the real experience.
6. Band outside Ta Prohm – Aug 14, 2016
This recording comes from a band that was sitting down and playing instruments on the walk to Ta Prohm in Cambodia. I absolutely love the sound of the ching in this song. The ching is that little metal instrument in front of the guy all the way to the right. It’s about the size of half of a baseball. I love when the ching drops out of the song because during that moment the band member is gesturing to the CDs he has for sale so he doesn’t hit the ching every beat he is supposed to.
7. Chant, Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia – Aug 20, 2016
This chant never recorded. Not sure what happened here. It sounded plenty loud enough at the museum and I tried a couple times but I could not capture this sound. I assume it’s just a typical Islamic prayer chant.
8. Sydney contemporary museum singer – Aug 25, 2016
This is from Lee Mingwei’s piece called Sonic Blossom, which is featured at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
I was walking around the museum and I heard this beautiful powerful singing voice. I questioned whether it was a live voice or a recording. It had to be live. The acoustics were too perfect. The voice was gorgeous. It distracted me from what I was looking at and I thought to myself that I had to find that voice. But later. I would search for it after I finished looking at a couple more pieces. After a few minutes the voice was gone. I walked into the room that I thought it came from. But there was no voice to be found. No singer. It was gone. I ventured off to other parts of the museum.
Eventually I returned to the room. Still no singing. I posted up in a room next to it. I needed a break, as my back was hurting from the grind of carrying my pack from the last couple weeks. I hopped on the wifi to get some information about my next location and send some messages out to people back home. After maybe twenty minutes the voice had returned. It was so beautiful. I knew for certain it was coming from the room next to me. I stood up and walked into the room to see an artist singing a song to someone who was seated in a chair.
The entire piece was pretty magical to experience. The artist explains it in the following link.
For those who didn’t feel like clicking the link the piece basically works by offering a guest of the museum the gift of music. If the visitor accepts then the singer walks the visitor to this room and sits them in a chair. The singer then walks several feet away and performs one of five lieders by Franz Schubert directly to the visitor who is sitting in the chair. It’s probably very powerful to be one of the museum guests chosen for this experience, as just being a bystander left a deep impression on me.
9. Australia vs New Zealand rugby outside of Queenstown – Aug 27, 2016
I was driving in my car outside of Queenstown, New Zealand with the radio on. I often like listening to the radio on road trips to see if I can pick up any new sounds. Many times when you are traveling you pick up the same music that we have back in the states. Occasionally you pick up some local sounds that capture your attention.
This is a sound clip of just before halftime in a rugby game between Australia and New Zealand. It was the second of six rounds of the 2016 Rugby Championship. A week earlier New Zealand crushed Australia 42-8 in round 1, but this rematch was a bit closer at 29-9. Although it didn’t fit into my schedule, it sounds like this would have been a great game to go to. New Zealand is the best rugby team in the world and Australia often ranks as the second best team. So if there’s any rugby game you want to see it’s probably something like this.
The passion of the announcers is great. These guys were a blast to listen to. They were so into the game. It reminded me of listening to an important soccer game back home with a Mexican announcer.
10. Auckland museum hill recording #1 – Sep 01, 2016
11. Auckland museum hill recording #2 – Sep 01, 2016
These two recordings come from Auckland Art Gallery in New Zealand. They are from a piece by Shannon Te Ao called “Two shoots that stretch far out”.
He actually won the Walters Prize (New Zealand’s highest contemporary award) for this piece. At the time I saw this piece he was only a finalist for the award.
The audio clip is part of a video. You really need to see the two together. The video contains various farm animals along with Shannon Te Ao. During the video he is shown reciting the poems. You can see a little bit of the video here, but I can’t find the full video anywhere. It’s definitely worth a watch if you can find it.
And here is a second recording. It is similar but different.
So that’s it for sounds that stuck out to me on my trip. There were some other sounds that sounded interesting that I just wasn’t able to capture due to the limitations of my phone (forest sounds, etc.).
I’m not sure if only having eleven clips shows that I wasn’t listening enough or if I didn’t come across many interesting sounds. Regardless, I’m happy that I had this extra channel open to me that I might not have had open to me otherwise. I can’t tell you what Norway or San Francisco sound like because I wasn’t listening to them as intently as I was to the locations on this trip. Using my ears more helped to give me a better understanding into the pulse of some of the places that I visited. I always try to see if I can identify places I’ve been to when I see pictures of them. Maybe now I’ll try doing the same with sound.
This new year starts off on a sad note with the passing of my grams. I’m going to miss her. I used to love listening to her tell stories about her travels around the world. The mystery and allure of a place like Morocco seemed like a million miles away to me as a little boy. Hearing how Israel was a beautiful country with the nicest people. Or about about breakfasts and delicious cups of coffee at outdoor cafes in Rome. Thanks for inspiring me with your travel stories and for the infinite amount of love you’ve given to me and to the world.
The plan for today was to check out the Hobbiton movie set that was used in the hobbit and the lord of the rings movies. It’s a bit cheesy and I’m not normally into doing something this cheesy, but I love the books and the movies. It was a lot better than I thought it would be for sure.
The area around it is beautiful. Within an hour or two hours radius you see glimpses of similar sites. The rolling hills are what inspired Peter Jackson to eventually choose the site.
Most of the hobbit holes are empty inside, like this one. The interior shots were filmed at a different location. It’s still cool to be in one of them though.
The set is pretty large. There are over 50 hobbit holes. The green dragon bar is here. As well as the lawn used for Bilbo’s party.
One of the major problems on the set was the construction of Bag End. In the books there is an oak tree on it. No big deal. Go into the forest and chop a tree into 21 pieces. Then reassemble on site. That’s great for the lord of the rings movies, which were shot first.
But then they decided to make the hobbit movies. Since the hobbit takes place sixty years early the tree had to be sixty years younger. So the film crew needed a tree that looked exactly the same but was much smaller. They couldn’t find one. So they made one. Yup. This tree is not a real tree. Not even a cut up and reassembled one. It’s entirely fake. Foam covered in real bark. The 200,000 fake leaves are all individually wired to the tree limbs. I’m not joking. This tree is not real. You can zoom in on it a bit by clicking on it. It’s unbelievable.
But seriously how cool is bag end in real life. I mean, it’s a movie set. And hobbiton is a fictional place. And new zealanders hate people that think the places from the lord of the rings actually exist in real life in their country, but with stuff like this it’s hard not to believe.
Bag end is dope. Also, that’s a fake tree. I still can’t believe it.
The tour guide said you could push this door open, but I was scoping out the scene thinking she would still yell at me.
Some of the hobbit holes have things inside like these aging cheeses, but most of them are empty.
Sam’s house. So cool. He wasn’t home though.
And you can grab a pint or two at the Green Dragon. The pub is super cosy and comfortable. I would like to spend more than twenty minutes here.
After hobbiton I swung out to see Cathedral Cove off of recommendation from the last hotel I stayed in. The hotel worker said Auckland was just another city and I could skip it. Thankfully I disagreed, as I thought Auckland was pretty cool. But before I get to Auckland, here’s some more nature. The view is great from up here. It’s interesting that some of these rocks you can see from here are almost identical to the ones from Halong Bay in Vietnam. The Halong Bay rocks are just more frequent and covered in more bush.
Then it’s a 45-minute hike down to the cathedral cove area. Although it’s getting dark I beasted the hike to make it down and up before it got too dark. The beach is pretty nice.
The water is surprisingly beautiful over here. The opening in the rock is pretty cool too.
It’s a good place to take your selfie game to the next level. I’m a fan of this next shot. Just love most things going on in it. The textures are pretty sweet. I love the balance. It’s not a typical beautiful colored shot you will see from this spot, but I think that’s what makes it even better. My pose and posture makes me look rather creepy and like an alien. I actually think I scared a couple away while shooting this picture. Because it was late in the day the beach cleared out and I had the cove to myself. So I was taking my time with my hoodie up getting some shots. A couple turned the corner, saw me as some scary dude, and I think they booked it out of there ha. Sorry guys, I was just messing about with my selfie game.
Afterwards I had plans on staying in Coromandel. The gps threw me on some absurd practically single lane gravel road that climbed up and down a mountain to get there. When I did finally arrive at nighttime the town was dead. And not because it was late. It was 7:30 PM. Or 7:34 PM when I pulled up to the gas station to get gas. As I do the attendant who I can see from my car shuts the lights off and locks the door to the station. His place closes promptly at 7:30 PM apparently, and he won’t let me get gas. I’m a bit annoyed as gas stations are far apart here so this could be a big deal for someone who really needed the gas. But it’s no worries as I have plenty left in the tank.
I leave there in search of a warm meal, which I can’t find. I search for a hotel with an open lobby, which I also can’t find. Since there seems to be nothing for me here I decide to just head out to Auckland. I get to my hotel there and grab some sleep.
Sep 01, 2016
Finally back in a city. It will be nice to grab some food that doesn’t come from a gas station, convenient store, or fast food joint. First up are some steamed dumplings and a tea. I might be a bit far away from Asia, but I’m not all that far. There are a lot of places selling food like this and it all looks great. These dumplings were fantastic and make me sad that I won’t be getting this stuff back home.
Back in the city also means it’s time for art again. I head to the museum to check it out. Some of the best stuff is the stuff that isn’t even exhibits. This spiral staircase was rather nice. It wasn’t even in use. Just in a corner and sealed off. I’ve always noticed a lot of little gems in dark museum corners and noticed that art buildings themselves are understandably beautiful.
I thought this was a cool piece. It’s 120 individual displays of various things like buttons, spoons, and thread all assembled into one large piece.
This hallway is just fantastic. I didn’t particularly love any works in it, but the statue at the end is just framed so perfectly by this hallway and this view.
I was trying to get a good selfie in the reflection and this was about as good as I could grab. You could ignore the selfie part if you like. It’s mostly a failed picture.
These rainbow bejeweled pop rocks were pretty fun.
Just working on that selfie game.
Afterwards it was time for some craft beer. I went to Hopscotch Beer Company but you can’t drink there because of crazy New Zealand laws. So I picked up a beer and drank it on my walk. I heard this should be legal, but in case it wasn’t it was a fast drink.
On the way I walked past the tower. I think these things are a little too played out in cityscapes, but so it goes.
I swung over to Brothers Beer for a flight. It was a busy spot.
I unintentionally walked right up to it as well, ha.
Finally was able to grab a steak and some oysters. I was looked at cattle for many many hours of driving, so I was definitely craving a steak at some point.
And that concludes the trip. It’s super late so I’d like to try to grab an hour or two of sleep before I have to wake up and head out to the airport for my return flight home. Pretty cool that in doing so I will have flown completely around the world.
I’ll definitely be getting a concluding writeup out at some point when I sleep and have time. The trip has been just incredible. A lot to say about it.
I’ll be seeing everyone back home hopefully soon. Hope everyone’s travels and lives are going swimmingly. I guess it’s appropriately to throw a little Tolkien quote in here.
Far over the Misty Mountains cold,
To dungeons deep and caverns old,
We must away, ere break of day,
To seek our pale enchanted gold.