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Adventures Archives

Unpacking Burning Man 2016

Posted at age 28.

Another year passed too quickly, leaving behind good intentions and hopes and dreams. I am starting to understand all I can reasonably hope for in a year is a slightly greater fraction of my hopes will be realized. But I know one day this hope too will fail me. I hope in the meantime I can build the strength and wisdom to weather the storm.

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Saturday Sunset

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The golden stool

Posted at age 28.

Everyone who spends a week in Black Rock City develops a relationship with the porta potties. Lack of standard toilets is not normally a highlight of outdoor festivals, and thus it is easy to react negatively to this plight. With experience you recognize there are other ways to think, and as with many relationships, truth manifests through highs and lows; moments of relief, disdain, and sometimes pain; feelings of prison, and other times of sanctuary. Smelling freedom requires first letting go – of yourself, everything you hold on to, everything inside you. Keeping it all bottled up only leads to pain. Your satisfaction is commensurate with your contribution.

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People love to express themselves in the toilets.

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Return to default world

Posted at age 28.

Early Monday morning, we got underway just a little late and joined the thousands of others fleeing the city. Our timing was unlucky, and I had to fight tiredness and my bowels while driving seven hours before the first toilets. The traffic also meant Dave and Matt would not be able to join us for food, and they barely made it to Salt Lake City in time for Matt’s flight. The rest of us had a huge lunch near Reno, Nevada, and thus I was satiated for the final nine hours of driving while Erik and Phillip mostly slept.

This entry is lacking details of the final days, and I hope to add more.

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Exodus

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The Temple

Posted at age 28.

The Sunday ritual was the same as every year: I rose late, packed my things while periodically saying goodbye to those who had already finished, ate, and then proceeded to The Temple to watch it burn. I wrote about the temple my first year, so this time I will content myself to describe the day’s events briefly and share some photos.

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After roughly 40 minutes, it was determined the fire had cooled enough to let those who dared approach the fire. No longer did Black Rock Rangers or firefighters restrain the curious. That duty was now served by only the raw heat.

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Man burns, desert chills

Posted at age 28.

Saturday I mostly chilled at camp in preparation for the highlight of the week, the burning of The Man. The temperature continued its weeklong decline, but I was prepared this year with many coats! Some dust storms delayed the burn almost an hour, but that was fine as the storms delayed all of us as well. Most of our camp watched the burn together, and then we mostly danced at art cars nearby, including Dancetronauts. Due to poor planning, I was somewhat more sober than expected, but I still managed to go out for a second round with Erik and Phillip, and we stayed out dancing past sunrise. It was tiring, but I am glad I did it once this year.

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Crazy desert people dancing at 5:22 a.m. at the Mayan Warrior. What a scene!

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Joy, right at home

Posted at age 28.

Friday I explored area neighborhoods with Steven, and we were later joined by Eric and Mike. I documented some interesting structures and collected ideas for next year. I made a quick trek to the playa before sunset to try to photograph some of the art before it was too late, and on the way back tickled a curiosity that nevertheless went unsatisfied. I went out with most of the camp, which was finally complete with the arrival of Brett and Scott and others. It was a bit of a strange night, as I didn’t feel terribly energetic, but I felt good and wanted to be with friends. Once most of us returned to camp a few hours after midnight, I made use of my speaker system to play some tracks I collected over the year. Those hours listening to music with friends around the campfire ended up being some of my most satisfying hours in days.

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Exploring Friday

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Lost at night, seeking joy

Posted at age 28.

Thursday evening, we went out much as we did Tuesday. We were all hopelessly slow to mobilize again and again, but I have come to appreciate those dynamics at Burning Man. That place is endlessly amazing, but it also teaches you to be self satisfied and to enjoy each unexpected moment. Just after we were finally moving, I was almost “condemned” to a night on my own when my bike malfunctioned. Dave stopped to help, and we got lucky the group hadn’t gotten too far. Not long after that, my yurt group ended up separated anyway, so we resolved to enjoy the night on our own. Joy can be an elusive thing, though. I was not sure the music differed much from Tuesday’s, but two of us were not enjoying it and eventually gave up searching. I still had a good time being on the playa and being with friends, despite injuring my hand! After they all retired for the night, some loneliness struck again and propelled me out into the desert once more. I returned still solo, not terribly disappointed but mostly just tired.

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This is Helios by Kate Raudenbush. I had trouble getting it in focus since I was dancing on a giant sheep.

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Lost at day, seeking friends

Posted at age 28.

After a low key Wednesday, Thursday was quite packed. As with Tuesday, I felt it broke naturally into two parts. We struggled to coordinate our activities given our various whims, and thus it was only after quite a few delays that I went out in search of friends whose addresses I had written down before coming. I only ended up finding my friend Luke, whom I met in Singapore last year, but I was glad I did, for I was apparently the one who introduced him to Burning Man and much of his inspiration for coming. Then I experienced my first moment of losing my group, though it didn’t last long. Overall I had a nice daytime adventure with Dave, Matt and Steven checking out the catacomb, an open mic, a tea house, a rowdy parade and more.

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Always love a desert ship.

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Recovering, welcoming

Posted at age 28.

I skipped the annual naked bar crawl Wednesday morning. The race no longer conflicted as in previous years, but having run it, I was less enthusiastic about the bar crawl than I imagined I would be. I relaxed at camp for the afternoon, and Dave arrived with Matt in the evening. With Erik and Phillip, we all went out for a sober night out exploring. We checked out the guild workshops around The Man before seeing some of the more prominent art – Firmament, Sonic Runway, the lighthouses – and briefly visiting The Temple. I had a good time, but also felt my first slight longing for a partner with whom to share this adventure.

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As we biked toward Esplanade, we passed Panorama and decided to go up and have a look. I thought it might be more interesting for Matt to first see Esplanade on the ground before going up and seeing it all, but it was still breathtaking either way!

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Feeling astonished, validated, home

Posted at age 28.

Tuesday night was possibly the best night of my week, at least for dancing. This was unexpected since I ran the Burning Man 50K Ultramarathon that morning and was quite exhausted by afternoon. I stayed in working on my lights while the group went out for the evening, but they came back around 21:00, at which point I decided to join. I loved the music everywhere we went, and I loved everyone in the group!

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By 3 a.m. we made it to the Mayan Warrior, an apparent goal set when we left camp. I had been enjoying all the music along the way, but I was glad the others were happy.

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Third ultramarathon fastest yet

Posted at age 28.

There was no question in my mind I would attempt it a third time, but still I was nervous in the weeks before. I’m happy to report I did not die before finishing the Burning Man 50K Ultramarathon! It took me 6 hours, 4 minutes, and I placed 74 out of 160 who completed the race. I even managed to throw together a video, below. Thank you to Cherie and the camp Pink Lightning for organizing the race again!

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The journey ‘home’

Posted at age 28.

We planned to leave Saturday before noon and have plenty of time to arrive in Black Rock City when the gate opened at midnight. Packing, of course, took longer than I hoped it would. We actually left four hours late, but most of the journey was remarkably smoother than the previous few years, and for a while I thought we would only be a little late. I was wrong. After being on the road 14 hours, we set up camp after sunrise. As a wonderful bonus, we managed to camp with friends and mark off plenty of space for others to join later.

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Loading the vehicle was a multihour process of Erik bringing me things, Erik skipping more and more things fearing there will not be room for necessities, me noticing things are missing and getting them myself and magically finding more space on the roof.

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Frankness on Fukushima, five years later

Posted at age 27.

I’ve always been perplexed by the small amount of media coverage about the Japanese nuclear disaster at Fukushima after the 2011 earthquake. I guess after years of consistent incidents and higher radiation recordings than ever before, it ceases to qualify as “news”, but the repercussions seem far reaching and …

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Being myself

Posted at age 27.

As I neared my home, I spotted another man on the sidewalk ahead. There were no street lights nearby, but I could tell he was middle aged and substantial. The fear crept back, but this time it wasn't a safety fear, but rather a social fear. It was just the two of us. I was determined in my pace, but I also felt drawn to the man's eyes as I approached.

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A moment at Burning Man

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Bits from Singapore

Posted at age 26.

May 23

In taxi with William heading to meet his friends for dinner and going out. Slept from around 6am to 4pm and then maybe another hour after I was up an hour, since William was still sleeping and called me back to bed. I started listening to The Language …

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Remember to turn off the AC

Posted at age 26.

I’ve been at William’s for about four days so far, two nights of which he was away for work. We haven’t interacted a ton other than to laze about Sunday night and last night, watching some Modern Family and Big Bang Theory yesterday and a couple of movies about India Sunday. He did take me to a nice Chinese restaurant Sunday, and we ordered McDonald’s once and Pizza Hut once.

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SIM cards

Posted at age 26.

This was originally going to be a more thorough description of the mobile data situation everywhere on this trip, but I fell off the wagon, so I will just post what is here and leave it at that. :-/

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Relaxing week in Zagreb

Posted at age 26.

My stay in Croatia was a bit different than the other stops so far, as it was the first time I stayed by myself instead of with a friend. I ended up doing less than I imagined I would, but it was relaxing, and I saw some sights at least.

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Running near Park Maksimir


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I can shave again

Posted at age 26.

When I began this journey around the world March 12, I forgot two things: my new microfiber towel and the charger for my Braun Series 7 shaver.

I realized this in London, and since my ex was then staying in my room in San Francisco, I asked him to take those things with him to Chicago (It was Sunday) and mail them to my upcoming Portugal address Monday morning, which cost $25 for priority international shipping. It was to take 6-10 days, so I was banking on the earlier end.

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Makeshift charger for my Braun shaver

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Leaving the Italian family

Posted at age 26.

Italy was great. Portugal was great, too. Staying with people who can show you around and give a local perspective has many perks compared to traveling with friends and stayed at hotels. I theoretically strive for traveling with friends to make venturing out easier and to share my life with someone, but I would like to find a way to do that while not losing out on staying with locals. But it’s also harder to find someone to host two couch surfers than one.

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After driving a half hour to eat food track food representing all of Italy at the festival Streeat, we only ended up trying one thing, and then headed to a nearby bar. I got to try a banana beer, and the ladies asked me what I think of them. It was a nice night out!

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Anger management in London

Posted at age 26.

Back in January, I booked a crazy trip around the world. It was originally going to be two separate trips, one to Germany to travel with Beam, my Thai friend I lived near in Japan, and another to visit William in Singapore. For a bit less than double the cost of those two itineraries, I discovered I could fly to more than a dozen countries using Indie. So here I am.

My first stop was originally going to be Lisbon, Portugal, followed by London. This would enable me to go through immigration another time (and get another passport stamp) before heading to Rome. My flights got rearranged a few times, though, and London became the start of the trip. This was just as well, since I could ease into the trip before tackling language barriers. It turned out I had even more trouble understanding “English” in London than I did in Australia, though.

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My London host David served me breakfast in bed.

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Here I lie awake

Posted at age 26.

It’s late. I have a morning flight. Time for sleep. And I’ve been trying. My friend, the Buddhist, has long been slumbering, but I stayed up catching up on work. Though I wasn’t at my most productive, I wasn’t really sleepy.

He is beside me, facing away. His left arm decided to go adventuring, and it came to rest across my chest. No big deal; it’s nice to be close, even if it wasn’t a conscious choice. I’ll take what I can get, after all.

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The bar and the burger

Posted at age 26.

Not having had a hamburger for about a week, it was time. I didn’t have to feel bad about it as I usually do, for while I was indeed in a foreign country, the United Kingdom isn’t like China or India, where I should obviously be experiencing something other than a burger.

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First London burger. $17 & not so big so hopefully is delicious! Possibly came with an entire bottle of ketchup, which I declined.


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Running around London

Posted at age 26.

Saturday I decided to go for a long run, but as often happens, I didn't muster the motivation till well into the afternoon. Finally driven by the certainty I won't make it back till after dark, I headed out around 3 p.m. I may come back to narrate this later, but for now, the captions will have to be good enough.

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Tower Bridge


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Party in Japan like it’s 1999: Internet

Posted at age 26.

Given that a typical visit to Facebook with its auto updating news feed complete with preloaded videos could easily blow my daily data cap in just a few minutes, I have no qualms about saying the notion of Japanese technical prowess is dead, and I would not be surprised if the state of the Internet here is indicative of where this country and its economy are headed. People come here and try very hard to throw away money to get some work done, and still fail. They say Japan is in a crisis; perhaps this is why!

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My speed test on Toppa! Internet over Flets Hikari Next fiber line


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Taking the daytime bus to Hanoi

Posted at age 26.

Note: I was bit frustrated when I wrote this; I think of it more warmly now.

When I first woke, naturally, or perhaps due to the thunderstorms, the room quite dark and still I quite tired, I checked the time and hoped it was earlier than it actually was, 5:30 Saturday morning. I rolled around trying to get comfortable while not too much disturbing the blanket and any creatures living in it, one of whom made itself known to me shortly after my entering the room and sitting down on the bed. I don’t think it was a cockroach, and it was too large to be a bed bug. Maybe something like an ear wig. Anyway, I eventually fell back asleep for another 90 minutes.

For a second time I woke, this time to the alarm, and a minute later a woman was at my door telling me to come down for the bus. I should have figured 7:30 actually meant earlier than 7:15, but I erred on the side of more sleep. I’m not sure if it helped.

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Sa Pa

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Vietnam without a Visa

Posted at age 26.

After about 10 minutes, I got an e-mail asking me to urgently verify my current location and flight info, which I did, and then replied and kept waiting. Sure enough, shortly thereafter I had my letter. The e-mail said to use it to board the plane, but not to use it at immigration. I was to locate someone who would be holding a sign with my name, and they would assist me further.

One Vietnam Visa

One Vietnam Visa


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Japan raves, too, but with fewer drugs

Posted at age 25.

This got me researching later about the party scene in Tokyo. I found many forums with accounts of people doing drugs – specifically, ecstasy or (the better) pure MDMA, which is called "Molly" in the states and "Mandy" in the UK. The general situation in Japan seems to be:

* Japan is one of the strictest countries regarding drug laws, and quantity or intent matter not
* Drugs that do exist here are therefore much more expensive than elsewhere (“The street price of a gram of cannabis weed was $58.30 in 2005, over twice as much as in the next most expensive nation, Australia.”)
* People don't talk about drugs even if they do them. Similar to elsewhere, but more severe. Apparently many of the population are extremely sensitive about this, due to what I can only imagine is an ingrained sense that breaking rules is wrong (“unconscionable”) and you cannot question the rule's basis. If you even mention drugs, people will stop talking to you and you'll have no friends.

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AgeHa

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Six friends and many wasted hours later, I have Internet!

Posted at age 25.

It has been a long road thus far to get decent Internet here in Tokyo. I thought Japan was technologically advanced, but no more.

I spent my first month at a temporary place I found on Airbnb, and prior to booking, I asked the host if he could do a speed measurement on his Internet connection. Instead of doing that, he responded, "The internet connection of here is optical fiber broad band one." Well, it turned out to be fast enough, but not as fast as that "optical fiber" made it sound. My connection there was around 10 megabits down and 2-5 up. Not horrible, for sure. The main problem there is the Internet would cut out periodically, and at least once a day I would have to power down the modem and router to troubleshoot. I really looked forward to getting an actual apartment and my own Internet service!

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A plastic cable the Internet installation people used to try to get the fiber optic cable to pull through wherever it comes from

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Goodbye San Francisco

Posted at age 25.

Twenty one months in San Francisco to the day, and I've decided to move on, for now. I still do not feel like I am really moving away, but the magnitude of this all is finally starting to sink in. I intended to write and reflect earlier, but 20 minutes before my flight boards is better than never.

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Riding elephants

Posted at age 25.

We signed up for an elephant excursion Monday afternoon, and it was great! Yizhen had ridden elephants before, in China I think, but he and I both enjoyed this outing.

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We went on an elephant riding tour near Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand

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The ultimate burn

Posted at age 25.

Primarily the temple was a bridge to the hereafter, where many people paid tribute to their departed friends and family. From little messages to cards and photos and keepsakes to large sculpture tributes, burners have many creative ways to honor the dead.

There was more to this place, though. It also seemed to function as an outlet for emotions we no longer manage together as a society. This was apparent through reading just a small sample of the temple’s faces.

Some people released years of tension in their lives, apologizing for being a horrible father, forgiving a sibling for habitual abuse, or vowing to be a more sensitive friend. Some wrote inspiring messages and some asked questions, from personal to universal. “How do I be there for my son when he makes me so upset with his life choices?” “How can human kind achieve peace?” “Are we alone?” “Why me?”

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Hundreds gathered in worship, remembrance and meditation all week at the Temple of Whollyness

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Burning the Man

Posted at age 25.


Saturday night around 9:30 is the big burn of The Man, the giant structure in the middle of Black Rock City.

I’m going to let the photos do the talking for this entry… enjoy!

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The UFO begins to fall apart

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Radical self expression takes hold

Posted at age 25.


The nightlife at Burning Man is life entirely different than anything I knew before. If the day time is for wearing nothing, the night time is for wearing everything. The art pieces that are so strange, so epically large or so remote under the scorching sun come alive in the dark. It almost seems most of the people also come alive in the dark. Colored lights are everywhere, on everything.

Organizing how Burning Man provoked my mind is tough, and much of it doesn’t correspond with photos, as is usually the case with my life documenting. I’ll take a stab at providing a glimpse while narrating some photos that roughly fall into the categories of art structures, sound structures, art cars and art structure burns. Those are the things I was most able to document while immersed in my mental and physical explorations. As with most things at Burning Man, those categories aren’t even well defined. All the lines blur, sometimes disappear entirely, and you grow to appreciate fluidity.

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Disco party at the sheep

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Lazy days of building mind, body and soul

Posted at age 25.


Everyone carries water, a dust mask and goggles for protection from the elements. Single ply toilet paper, sunscreen and snacks are also a good idea. Radical self reliance is the key. The weather was hot, but not horribly so this year. Generally people wear little during the day. Just about anything goes on the playa, and people can dress as they please without fear of judgment. This is part of another Burning Man principle, radical self expression. Nudity is not as common as I expected, but there are definitely many nudists. More commonly, I saw scarves or shorts, but not much more, which was definitely practical in the heat!

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Brad and Matt

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The journey to Burning Man

Posted at age 25.

In early February, I decided to buy some tickets for that impossible to fully describe event called Burning Man. Despite prevaling wisdom, I actually think I had a pretty good idea what I was in for. I knew it is a city that rises on an ancient lakebed within a week and then in even less time diseappears entirely. I knew it is about acceptance and free expression. I knew it is not for the feeble.

What I did not know was how being freer than I ever have been would change me. Realizations, new experiences, new friends. It was undoubtedly the most awesome adventure of my life, even though I know I barely scratched the surface my first year. You really do need to experience it, though hopefully writing about it can help me better live it every day.

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It was a pain to get the bike rack mounted on this vehicle, since the back was mostly plastic lined and I had to work hard to find secure mount points.

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Visiting Keith and the Central Cascades

Posted at age 25.

This past weekend I redeemed my United frequent flier miles for a $5 round trip flight to Seattle to visit Keith and go camping. It was a blast!

The actual flight was suboptimal, as I had to take a 6 a.m. flight Friday morning. It was the only option in the “Super Saver” category for which my miles qualified, though, so I had to make due. It ended up sort of working out because I had a lot of work to do the night before, and I stayed up all night doing it. At the airport. Because BART only runs till 1:30, and doesn’t start again till around 5 a.m.

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The lower Tank Lake, and we are home!

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Returning to Summit Springs in Mendocino

Posted at age 25.

Yesterday I returned from my first camping trip of the year, that shouldn’t have taken this long to happen. I went again to Mendocino, this time with Rich. We tried to find some other people to go, but failed. It was still a wonderful trip.

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We played with the Arctic 1W blue laser from WickedLasers.com

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Saying goodbye, for now

Posted at age 25.

Wednesday, we got up a bit earlier, skipping breakfast at the hotel and heading to the Tsukiji fish market instead. Nob said he likes to eat breakfast near the market because the fish is fresh and cheap, so we were going to try that out. And we also wanted to see the market, even if we didn’t get there early enough to see some fish auction action.


Well, getting there was easy enough. We only got a little bit lost, but we eventually found it, before 9 a.m. And things were eerily quiet. It didn’t take long to realize the market was closed, and we eventually found a sign that read, “Today is a fixed holiday.” Apparently some Wednesdays are off days.


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We tried to go to the fish market the day it was closed

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Cultural barriers, meeting a yo yo champion

Posted at age 25.

We began the day by setting out to find a shoe store that sells Keen for Dan, but the destination store didn’t have anything in Dan’s size. We later found out this was the case everywhere in Japan. The walk was nice, though! After a while, Aaron and I headed back to do some work while Dan continued to wander.

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World champion yo yo artist BLACK returned to the Six Apart office to speak about the experience of being chosen to perform at the TED conference earlier this year.


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Meeting Six Apart, buying some clothes (what else?)

Posted at age 25.

Today was a big day; the first of three or four days in the Six Apart KK office, the reason for our trip to Tokyo. And I had no idea what to expect. After breakfast, we began the short walk to the office. We left at 9:40, needing to be there by 10. Google said 5 minutes. We got there only 10 minutes late.

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Having lunch with some engineers from Six Apart, makers of Movable Type

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Nattō is gross, but I want to move to Tokyo

Posted at age 25.

This morning for breakfast I tried Nattō, which is fermented soy beans. It was pretty disgusting, and adding the soy sauce and spicy mustard it came with made it worse. Justin told me not to feel bad about not finishing it (I ate three beans), so I didn’t!

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This is a not properly exposed panorama from Tokyo Tower... but it gives you an idea of just how huge this city is. Buildings as far as you can see in all directions! Larger version at http://votecharlie.com/blog/2013/CNG_9572.jpg

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Exploring Sensoji Temple, lively Shibuya

Posted at age 25.

Saturday I woke up pretty early, so I decided to go for a run around one of the parks nearby. On the map it appeared to be a few miles around, so I hoped it would serve as a nice route. And it did.

I got slightly disoriented when I crossed a river I mistook for the water surrounding the park I aimed to run around, but I got to see some city streets and eventually got back on track. I ran about six miles total, though my fricken iPhone 4S GPS reported I ran almost 10 miles. I can’t wait to get rid of the iPhone.

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All the crosswalks open at once!

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Arriving in Tokyo alive, discovering delicious noodles

Posted at age 25.

I got back from my trip to Denver Tuesday night, leaving only Wednesday to squeeze in a four hour clinic appointment, a haircut, two hours of weight lifting, and a full day of work. Oh, and I had to pack for a week in Japan, but of course I didn’t do that till Thursday morning in the 30 minutes before I had to head to the airport.

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A street near our hotel

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Accidentally attending church, twice in one day

Posted at age 24.

Next we flew from Barcelona to Aéroport de Paris-Orly, which was not as nice or spacious as Barcelona or Madrid’s airports. But it received the plane just fine! Signs in the airport seemed to be in English for the most part, but I was looking forward to seeing how we got along with whatever amount of French my brother Tim knew.

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Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris


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Cinc Sentits, my fanciest dining experience to date

Posted at age 24.

Friday night we dined at Cinc Sentits, a fairly new restaurant in Barcelona that is already acknowledged to be one of the best in Spain. The place only takes 10 table reservations a night, as it is a small space and the meal takes hours to complete since there are so many courses.

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assorted Spanish treats, including orange garnished olive, tomato shaved cracker, cream skin

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Sagrada Família, most amazing building I’ve seen

Posted at age 24.

Today was a big day, so I'm going to split it into two posts. Part 2 is “Cinc Sentits, my fanciest dining experience to date”.

We got up and walked from our hotel apartment to the Sagrada Família, probably the most prominent church construction underway in the world. We stopped at La Vieja Tahona for coffee and L'Oreig for tea, and then went to the church.

We had 11 a.m. tickets for ascending one of the towers, so we started with that, and then did the self guided audio tour. It was really fascinating, and the building was incredible. The photos should speak for themselves.

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The columns are different colors due to different stone being used according to the load the column has to bear.


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Visiting el Museo del Prado

Posted at age 24.

Wednesday we walked along the Padeo del Prado en route to the Prado Museum, home to many works by Francisco de Goya, one of the most well known Spanish artists in history.

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Tranquility outside the Prado

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Getting acquainted with Madrid

Posted at age 24.

I decided May 6 to book a ticket to Madrid to join my mom and her friend Terry on a trip to visit my brother, Tim, who has been working on his master’s there for a year.

I was to leave Monday, May 20, but I had a ton of work to do before that. I ended up logging 116.25 hours in those two weeks, largely thanks to three projects that were behind schedule and high priority. But the overtime allowed me to largely not need to work during the trip!

The day came, and the flight was scheduled for 7 a.m. Monday. I was to land in Madrid Tuesday at 8 a.m. after a stopover at JFK.

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Random shots from around Tim’s neighborhood

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Not quite a bender, but still a good weekend

Posted at age 24.

Friday morning, after getting enough rest at the hostel, I made plans to meet Nick again so he could show me his beloved chocolate restaurant, Max Brenner. Instead of going all the way back to Saeed's, I just showered at the hostel, using my dirty shirt as a towel and my underwear as a rag. I just used the hand soap as shampoo and body wash. It worked fine.

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Saeed and me

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Botanical gardens and a failed Irish pub crawl with the Germans

Posted at age 24.

Wednesday, I did the library working thing again, and then met a new friend Saeed for lunch. We went to a restaurant called Mos Burger, which is apparently a Japanese burger place. Afterward I found out they have rice buns, which I would have tried. But it was decent nonetheless. The portions were a little small, but that's pretty much how Australia has been... either smaller portions than I'm used to, or the food is really expensive, or both.


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The Germans I met at the hostel

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Meeting a bunch of Germans at my first hostel

Posted at age 24.

I walked inside, feeling slightly intimidated, not knowing the normal process for such places. The receptionist was a girl about my age, and she was quite nice and understanding. She explained the various types of rooms ranging from eight bed to two bed rooms. I think there was an eight bed room space available that night for around $31, but it was booked for the next day. The six bed rooms had spaces for the foreseeable future, and cost $33. So, not knowing if I'd be there one night or 10 days, I opted to purchase a single night in a six bed room. If I figured out I would be there at least a week, the rate goes down about $10 per night.

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Nick took me to an Italian restaurant, Amici's

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Back to Brisbane

Posted at age 24.

I didn't do much other than work the rest of Tuesday through Friday. Late Friday afternoon, I made the abrupt decision after talking to Daniel to leave Oliver's and go back to Brisbane. I wasn't doing much other than work, and Oliver was keeping to himself, so I thought a change of scenery and getting to know a new friend would be great.

So I asked Daniel to book me a standy ticket for that afternoon, I packed up and headed to the airport. A few hours later I was back with Daniel, and he was very excited to see me.

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Brisbane from Mt. Coot-tha


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Celebrities at Supanova and my first Australian club

Posted at age 24.

Oliver's day basically consisted of waiting in lines in this barn. And we waited with him half the time. They had one big section for signatures, and another section for photos. The celebrities basically walked back and forth between signing and photographs. It was not super organized, as the times were totally off most of the time, and Oliver even got the wrong photograph for someone to Felicia Day to sign. It was some other similar looking girl. Embarrassing!

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Oliver got on a flight around 3:55 or 4:55, but I didn't get on one till 8. Thankfully I got to hang out with Daniel on and off while he was working at various gates around where I was waiting for the flights. I also got to enjoy wearing my silly hat in public. It made a lot of people smile.

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Reunion with Chloe at the Gold Coast after a foot injury

Posted at age 24.

Wednesday afternoon I went for what was supposed to be a lovely half marathon length run along the ocean. About halfway through, around mile 7, I started feeling a slight pain in my foot. Throughout my running experience, I've had lots of random pains that always went away after a while and never seemed to cause a problem. Well, this one didn't. Another mile, I took a break to stretch my foot and see what was going on with it.

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Our little kangaroo friends

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A walk down Chapel Street

Posted at age 24.

Once I got back and showered, Oliver was about ready to emerge from the house. We took the train closer to downtown to check out a popular eating and shopping area along Chapel Street. We ended up walking mostly to the end without making up our minds about eating anywhere, and then we walked back and did the same thing.

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Oliver bathing in color

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Who made me? Let’s travel 6,000 miles to find out.

Posted at age 22.

Tuesday night I went to Palermo for my long awaited dinner plans with Juan Manuel and Roberto. I may have guilted Roberto into coming with, but I know he didn't regret it. :-) Juan picked out a place called Taco Box for me to try. It was nice, though our waitress really sucked. We ended up giving her exact payment for the bill with no tip, something I couldn't imagine doing in the States. I walked out quickly without looking back. :-(

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Dani and me, during our last moments together! Oh, no! :-(

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Touring through the tombs

Posted at age 22.

Tuesday, Dani asked what I wanted to do, and when I mentioned reading about a famous cemetery online, we decided to go there. La Recoleta Cemetery is in one of the ritzier neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. It is where tourists from around Argentina and the world go to see the tombs of such prominent Argentines as Eva Perón. Somehow I missed that tomb, though. The place is huge, and you could walk around all day and still not see all the graves.

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Near the entrance

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Argentines seem to have lots of holidays

Posted at age 22.

Last weekend was the second "long weekend" of my trip, as Thursday and Friday were days off for many people. I wasn't clear on what the occasion was, but it became clear something was going on Thursday when I tried to make my way to La Plata for the weekend to stay with Damian.

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Going out to the gay club of La Plata

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Expedition with new friend to find old friend fails, in a good way

Posted at age 22.

Tuesday I decided 'twas as good of a day as any to venture out to meet a new friend, Daniel, living in Balvanera, a tad west of Capital Federal and south of Recolata and Palermo. I also was going to finally try meeting up with a guy from my home town, Brandon, who happens to be in Buenos Aires this week. The problem, though, is Brandon doesn't have a phone here and barely has Internet access, so arranging a meet when neither of us knows our schedule is problematic. But he said he was going to hang out in the Japanese Gardens in Palermo, so I figured it'd be worth combining looking for him with meeting Dani.

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Dani cooked me some lunch, spaghetti with meat and some sauce that was different than I was used to, but it was delicious!

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A theater full of gay boys dancing past 7 a.m., nice!

Posted at age 22.

Saturday was my first South American clubbing experience, and it was fabulous. Despite losing contact with a new friend who had wanted to go out with me, I still found somewhere to hang before the club. My "longtime" Facebook friend Damian was going to his friend Victor's to have some drinks and hang out, so Damian asked if I could come along. I took the bus up to the Obelisco and met Damian outside the McDonald's there.

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Boys will be boys...

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Why can’t we go out? No hay monedas!

Posted at age 22.

So far I've gotten cash by bringing paper dollars from the United States and converting them to Argentine pesos at the airport, getting pesos from an ATM and using my Chase Amazon Visa and my American Express Clear cards. All the methods, except perhaps the ATMs, produce basically the same results, but clearly not all are of equal convenience.

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Monedas!

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Argentine barbeques are great, and I love neogothic architecture

Posted at age 22.

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My first asado. Basically a barbeque but with large chunks of beef and sausage things called chorizos, made of pork.



Saturday Fernando and I got cards for the buses so we could avoid the moneda shortage problems, Sunday I went to an Argentine barbeque called an asado, and Monday Fer and I went to La Plata to fill out some papers for his apartment and check out the city.

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What a beautiful building, even with unfinished brick

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Touring Capital Federal

Posted at age 22.

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Estación Constitución



Friday was pretty interesting. Fernando took me on a little tour of parts of the central Capital Federal district where lots of historic buildings stand. We left the house and walked over a bridge to the nearest train station, Estación Gerli. Fer said we probably wouldn't need to pay, but when he told me it was less than a peso (less than 25 U.S. cents), I said we should, especially since they take paper money and not only the scarce coins. But then when we got to the paying booth, the person there just told us to go through, as they weren't currently open to take payments. So much for trying to pay!

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Looking down Diagonal Norte toward el Obelisco de Buenos Aires from the Plaza de Mayo

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The great country of Mexico

Posted at age 18.

I recently returned from Playa del Carmen, about 30 minutes down the coast from Cancun. With my mom, I stayed at the Grand Coco Bay All Inclusive Resort on the beach. She hoped that things would be easier staying at an all inclusive place, and that we could relax more - but as things turned out, we barely utilized the inclusiveness!

Immediately after clearing customs, we were barraged by people calling us over from every direction. We didn't know what they wanted, so we went near a man who was specifically yelling for us. We soon found out that those were salespeople giving out tickets to area tours for reduced prices. The catch: attend a 90-minute "tour" of the Mayan Palace Resort.

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Mayan Palace Resort tour invitation

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