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Shaking off some rust: Happier -> Jana

It’s been almost four months since I last blogged, my longest hiatus since starting this blog in 2004 (!). That’s especially interesting since in one of my recent posts, I was trying to get back into the blogging routine.

The good news is that life has been awesome. I’ve been away from blogging for the best reasons possible.

I changed jobs, going from Happier to Jana. Both are great companies and I’m happy with the move itself, how it was done, where I am now, and how we’ve all stayed friends.

A typical Jana user.

Personal life is great. It’s been a good, busy blur of a winter and spring, including some travel and other adventures. Can’t complain.

Still running around in the early mornings.

The summer promises to be interesting as well, with some events and trips planned. But rather than try to catch up in big pieces, I’m going to try what I tell others: ease into blogging with small, “bite-sized” entries, so they don’t take a lot of time or effort to consume.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wow, has it really been two months since I posted here?

Apparently it has. That’s the longest I’ve gone without writing here since this blog started in 2004, I think. Wow.

Well, I’ve got a lot to share. It’s been a fun, busy summer, filled with sports, travel, food, and other adventures. I also want to finish blogging about my trip around the world last year (#rtw2012).

Time to get (re)started, I supposed. I’m going to try and write 2-3 times per week for the next few weeks to catch up.

Knowing all the stuff I want to write about is like a weight, a hassle, a bother in the back of my mind. It’ll be good to get it out.

Just so this post is not entirely devoid of content, here’s a video I’ve found motivating over the past year: Welcome to the Grind.

As with most of these videos, some pieces are cheesy, but some did connect, e.g.

Luck is the last dying wish of those who wanna believe that winning can happen by accident. Sweat, on the other hand, is for those who know it’s a choice.

#rtw2012 – Bangkok

This is one of a series of posts about my around-the-world trip in 2012, all collected under the #rtw2012 hashtag. You may wish to read the previous ones for background and context.

Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, was a fascinating place to visit. I over-use the word “awesome,” but Bangkok is awesome. I’m excited to go back there in the future, and I was excited to get out alive with only minor injuries to the body and spirit.

You (or at least I) watch movies like The Hangover Part 2 (a cinematic masterpiece!) and think it’s exaggerating the lawlessness, the crudeness, the rawness of the city. No, it’s not. In fact, it’s the opposite: Bangkok is all that and then some.

In the interest of full disclosure, this post contains more intentional omissions than most (maybe all) of my other posts about this trip. There is some sketchy stuff going on in this city, some unusual experiences that are not easy to find elsewhere. If you know me well enough that we hang out in person, just ask me, ideally over drinks, and I’ll gladly share some good stories.

Vertigo / Moon Bar at sunset. Solid drinks, good place to meet.

If you’re thinking prostitution or drugs, those are not it. Not my cup(s) of tea, never have been. Even if I were into prostitution, which I’m not, seeing teenage girls who are undoubtedly trafficked / abused in various ways is not an attractive thing. The streets are littered with them, and they are (or seem) desperate for business, but I found that to be very unappealing.

The airport in Bangkok was pleasant, clean, efficient. I had no issues flying in or out of the country, including immigration. Upon arrival, my driver picked me up by baggage claim, and one of his first questions was whether I’m Muslim. When I said no, he breathed a sigh of relief, and said that’s good, because “they all go ‘boom boom.'” That was an interesting welcome to the country.

I checked into the Majestic Grande hotel with no issues. It was a very nice hotel, I liked it. During my trip, my lodging split was roughly 1/3rd hotels, 1/3rd AirBnb apartments, and 1/3rd friends (or friends of friends), not counting Israel of course. Service at this hotel was excellent throughout my stay here.

As I did in most destinations during this trip, I immediately went in search of some pickup sports, particularly soccer. It’s a great way to meet people, as I wrote in detail earlier. (That post is now among my top 3 most-read posts ever.)

While I did find and play some soccer that evening, there was also a game of sepak takraw in the same park, so I tried my hand at that. I suck at it, not surprisingly, only having played once before. But the guys were impressive to watch anyhow. At least until a monsoon rain started, sending us all back to the BTS SkyTrain.

The back side of this park is where we played sepak takraw.

Bangkok offers many modes of transportation. I tried them all, on purpose. The BTS SkyTrain is a very good option, but it only serves big main streets. The buses are awful, crowded, stuck in traffic the whole time. If you can walk long distances, that’s a decent option, although pollution makes it less appealing. The tuk-tuks are not much better, since they are open (so, pollution…) and subject to traffic.

Riding the BTS SkyTrain to Siam station.
Riding on the back of a tuk-tuk in Bangkok’s Chinatown.

My favorite mode of transportation ended up being the most efficient one, but also most dangerous — surprising, right? Motorcycle taxis.

I kept hiring motorcycle taxis, most of which appeared to be driven by unlicensed teenagers. It was a thrill riding in the back as they weaved in an out of traffic, sometimes getting so close to vehicles that they pushed off them with one arm to maneuver. Yes, you read that right.

Here are a couple of videos shot from the back of a motorcycle, one in rush hour traffic, and one coming back to my hotel around 7am, near sunrise.

These are both jittery as I shot them one-handed with my iPhone, which I was trying to balance on the driver’s helmet as he was weaving around traffic. Sorry about that. Still, they’re fun ๐Ÿ˜‰

The food in Bangkok was amazing. I ate almost exclusively street food, and it was among the best food I’ve ever had, anywhere, Thai or not. It was all very cheap, freshly made, well-spiced, and delicious. There is some kind of food cart literally every 10-20 feet throughout the main areas of the city, often staffed by some old lady who doesn’t speak English.

Yes, these are piles of insects at a street food stance. Delicious.

My MO at these carts is simple: look around for a crowded one, observe, and when I see someone ordering something I like, point at it and say “same same” (or the local equivalent). It seems to work reasonably well all around the globe. I also make sure they make it fresh, as they do have pre-made dishes in Styrofoam containers available, but I don’t want those.

All-you-can-eat sushiย + shabu (not seen) for ~$10! Great deal.

Some of the food, like the insects above, is not for the faint of heart. I greatly enjoyed it. I didn’t get sick at all, not once during the trip, maybe because I’ve been eating strange and unusual foods for many years now.

Amusing name, very good restaurant.

I did have one meal at a fancy restaurant in Bangkok: Eat Me, a nice and excellent restaurant, was very good. It was a good chance to hang out with Kelsey and YBot, good people both.

The temples and palace(s) were amazing, well worth the visit. My favorite was the temple of the Emerald Buddha, but the entire palace complex was mesmerizing. I spent almost a whole day there, despite the heat and humidity, a lot longer than I expected.

At the palace complex.

Inside the room with the emerald Buddha.

The reclining Buddha (Wat Pho) and temple of dawn (Wat Arun) were also worth a visit.

View from the top of the Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun).

The reclining buddha is huge.

In Bangkok, as in nearly every stop on my trip, I volunteered to help some locals in need. This time I spent most of a day with an organization called In Search of Sanuk, under the chaperoning of the amazing Prae Vashudara, who proved to be an excellent local guide. We bought and delivered groceries, food, and supplies to local immigrants who are having various troubles. We spent the afternoon with them at their housing (a generous word…), hearing their stories and seeing how we could help. It was great.

Walking around Nana Plaza at 4am.

A lot of people talk about Bangkok’s famous nightlife. It is indeed raucous, entertaining, and eye-opening, in both good and bad ways. There are really no holds barred here, very few (if any) laws observed, and the message is very clearly that you can buy whatever you want, often for very cheap.

Sirocco. Yeah.

Although I definitely walked around the famous places like Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza, the thing that I liked the most were Bangkok’s rooftop bars, loungers, and restaurants.

Blue Sky at the Sofitel, a good place to meet a fellow kitesurfer ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hi Signe!

This city absolutely dominates this category, more than any place I’ve ever been, far better than New York City, Tokyo, or other similar-scale cities. Between Vertigo / Moon Bar, Sirocco, Red Sky, Blue Sky, Nest, and more, it’s a dominating trend, and it rocks. I wish I had more nights to enjoy more of these spots.

Red Sky. It looks even better at sunset in real life.

All of them had solid drinks (not cheap), good service, and a great ambiance. I met great people, saw glorious sunsets, and just enjoyed the atmosphere. This is what I miss the most about Bangkok. Except the food. Maybe.

The Nest off Sukhomvit Soi 11.

Khaosan Road is a world-famous destination, too. I spent an evening there with some friends from the previous night, and also met up with Rania, who turned out to be a superstar in multiple ways. These few days in Bangkok will probably lead to some multi-year friendships.

I did not go to the country-side, nor to other cities like Chiang Mai, nor to the islands like Phuket and Ko Samui. All of those are on the list for future trips. I’d love to see more of Thailand, but this trip was about big cities, history, culture, and nightlife.

I did go to Lumpini (sometimes spelled Lumpinee) stadium for some Muay Thai kickboxing. There are a couple of ways to get a ringside seat, and I chose the more athletic approach, which paid off big time in getting to know some of the wrestlers and their coaches. I shot a couple of videos and had a great time watching the fights, the rituals, the spectators as much as the fighters.

Up close and personal at Lumpini stadium.

I also had a surprise at Siam Ocean World: they let you dive with sharks in the tank. That was a lot of fun, although not quite as adrenaline-inducing as my past open water dives with similar sharks.

And now, we dive with sharks!

Overall, Bangkok was fantastic. I’m very happy with the memories, experiences, and friends gained. I look forward to visiting Bangkok again, and seeing more of Thailand, in the future. If you’re an experiential, adventure-seeking traveler, Bangkok should be high on your list.

2012 rocked. What’s up for 2013?

2012 was a great year. I have neither the time nor the intention to write lengthy summary post, but the year brought much good.

I believe 2013 will continue in much the same way.
I stopped working at HubSpot and started at Happier, two great (but very different) companies, and I’m excited about that.

I took a trip around the world. I’m still blogging about that, only about 20% done. During that trip, as well as before and after, I’ve met many new friends. Some through sports, e.g. the amazing November Project tribe, some through other activities, some through mutual friends.

I got a little bit more fit, a little stronger, a little faster, though much progress remains to be had on that front. In the process, I learned more about my body, re-discovered both yoga and football (soccer), and built up skills in other sports, some more obscure than others.

I learned about myself as a person, had a bunch of time for reflection, and crossed a few items off my “bucket list,” while adding a few others.

I’m very lucky, and I appreciate it. No complaints here.

So what’s up for 2013?

Happier will be a big focus. We want to launch our product to the public, and continue iterating on it quickly, learning from our users and their feedback. The indications of progress here are pretty obvious and many are available to the public: releases, users, active users, etc.

I have a couple of trips planned, as usual to visit my family in Israel, but also a couple of adventures. More on those as they get closer or get done. The next one is actually this coming Saturday, toย Mount Washington in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

I will volunteer a bit more, at least once a month, every month. I did some in 2012, including on my trip, but only recently did I find a good source of volunteering activities around me that is online, updated near-real-time, and provides diverse opportunities without consuming a lot of setup time.

I will become a better swimmer. I think I’ll hire a coach for a few sessions and see how that goes. I need to get faster in the water for some of the longer distance triathlons on my mind. I’d love to do the half ironman swim in 40 minutes.

I will watch at least one random TED talk every week. Each one is very good, and I want to shake out my talk selection bias.

There will be more. But I’d rather have 3-4 concrete resolutions with accompanying metrics, and stick to them, than a whole hodgepodge of stuff.

Have a great 2013, everyone!

#rtw2012 – Hong Kong

This is one in a series of posts about my round-the-world (RTW) trip this past summer. They are all collected under the #rtw2012 label. You might want to read chronologically for background / context.

Like the other city-specific posts, this one is very long and detailed. It’s more of an online diary for me, than anything else. You might find it overly verbose, boring, etc ๐Ÿ˜‰

Like the other destinations on this trip, Hong Kong had been on my “bucket list” for years. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was the Bruce Lee and other martial arts connections, maybe the food, not sure. But it fit neatly within the trip itinerary, and I was excited to visit.

Arrival in Hong Kong (HKG).

The flight over was short and uneventful. Once again, All Nippon Airways (ANA) came through with great service, timely flights, modern comfortable planes, and great lounges.

I stayed in an Airbnb apartment, my first one of many on this trip. It was located on Peel Street in SoHo, right in the middle of the more modern “Central” part of Hong Kong. (“Central” is not just a geographic indication, but also the name of a district in town, which is a bit confusing at first.)

This amazing location was even better because this is a penthouse apartment, with a balcony and great views. My hostess, Inge, was very kind and friendly, a fellow yogi, and spoke English very well. I’m glad I stayed here and not in the one of the very expensive hotels.

Airbnb picture from Inge, not mine. View from the balcony.

The apartment is steps away from the Central-Mid-Levels Escalators, one of the wonders of Hong Kong I’d long wanted to see. Those escalators were fascinating, convenient, fun to ride, even entertaining. I like how their directions are changed during the day to accommodate the dominant traffic pattern by the time of day.

The Central-Mid-Levels escalators in the middle of the day.

On the first day in Hong Kong, after checking in to the apartment, I took the escalators all the way up, and then walked up Victoria Peak as high as I could go.

On the way to the top, I stumbled upon a nice little park among the skyscrapers, featuring a small football (soccer) pitch. As I’ve written before, basketball and football pickup games were a big source of meeting locals during my trip. Although this pitch was empty, I came back to it later during the trip and had fun playing with locals.

Unusual height and view from the Conduit Service Road playground. Those are 100+-story buildings.

In Hong Kong, however, I ended up playing pickup basketball almost every day. There are a couple of big parks that always had running games while I was there. This was a lot of fun and a great way to meet locals. It was also decent exercise, especially since the temperature was in the 90s (F) and the weather was humid my whole time there.

The main park where I played most often in Hong Kong.

Another game a couple of days later.

Victoria Peak is world-famous, of course. It’s been featured in many movies and such. I went to watch sunset there, to see all the buildings light up. The show is even better in person, naturally — quite dazzling. I stayed there a while and shot a video, which I’ve since lost ;(

The start of sunset from Victoria Peak.

A few friends sent back near-identical photos and videos, which brought big smiles to my first. There’s something very cool about being far away from home, and knowing a friend was standing at your very spot not long ago.

Public transportation in Hong Kong was excellent. I took the MTR several times, the ferries a couple of times as well, including once to Macau (the subject of a separate upcoming blog post), and the buses once or twice mostly to see the sights. The MTR trains run often, clean, fast, easy to navigate, no complaints at all. I took a taxi once, I think, and that was fine too.

MTR to Kowloon.

I tried to walk through most of the well-known areas on foot a lot. I covered big chunks of Kowloon (City and Tong), Tsim Tsa Shui, Sheung Wan, Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, Sham Shui Po, Mong Kok, Yau Ma Tei, Jordan, and Admiralty. It was a good amount of walking (10-20km per day) in the aforementioned heat and humidity, which was nice exercise, but I still didn’t see as much as I wanted to.

A special shout-out here to David, author of the great Randomwire blog. I’ve been reading his blog for years, and went back through his archives while planning my Hong Kong trip. David also graciously agreed to meet while I was in Hong Kong.

Sheung Wan (IIRC) from the top back seat on a semi-sketch bus.

I really liked the busy crowded atmosphere on the Kowloon side, especially around Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei. Mong Kok has the highest population density in the world, and I’m not sure I’d want to live there (as opposed to Central or the Mid Levels), but it was a blast to visit.

Walking around Causeway Bay, IIRC.

The street are at least as interesting at night as they are during the day. I stopped by the Temple Street night market, of course. I expected it to be busy and crowded, which it was. But I didn’t quite expect how much it would look like every Hollywood director’s vision of “Chinatown.”

The Temple Street night market.

I actually had one of my best meals in Hong Kong, which generally had amazing, excellent, fresh, cheap street food, right around the Temple Street night market. There was a street corner with 3-4 establishments (a loose word, since it was mostly plastic chairs on the sidewalk…) serving fresh spicy crabs. As in so fresh they were still swimming there in big boxes, and you could pick which one(s) you wanted to eat. Delicious!

The spicy crab place is to the right. Not a great pic, but the only one I had left of this area ;(

There is great food all over Hong Kong. I mostly ate on the street, with a couple of exceptions for famous tea houses and dimsum. OpenRice was a fantastic resource, as were local friends.

Tim Ho Wan in Mong Kok was my favorite dimsum place, and the best dimsum I’ve ever had, not surprisingly. Apparently since I was there earlier this year, they have received their first Michelin star, making it possibly the cheapest average cost restaurant to have such an award?

I also went to some random places, just walking around and see what’s packed with locals. For example, there was a place down the street from me (on one of the “elevator” streets, not Peel itself), where everyone seemed to be having this, so I got it as well:

Simple home-made pork dumpings in a chili-garlic broth with hand-pulled noodles. Yum!

On the way to one dimsum restaurant, I noticed an interesting sign. It appeared to offer a haircut and a massage in the same place. This was intriguing because (a) WTF?, (b) I needed a haircut, and (c) offering haircuts hopefully meant it was a normal massage place, and not one where everyone wanted to provide you with a “happy ending.”

These signs for foot massage and reflexology are everywhere, but not often combined with hair salons.

So I went inside, and sure enough, you can get a nice foot massage while getting your hair cut. That was pretty awesome ๐Ÿ™‚ After much tallying and re-calculating of costs, since no one there spoke English well, the bill came to $8 US (that’s not a typo: eight dollars US, Hong Kong can be cheap for some things…).

Of course, Hong Kong has a lengthy and fascinating history, with much heritage. Among the most interesting places I visited were the Giant Buddha at the Po Lin Monastery, which requires a lengthy fascinating cable car approach, and the Man Mo temple on Hollywood Road near my apartment.

“The Crystal Cabin” is the upgraded ($5 more) cable car ride to the Giant Buddha. It has a glass bottom…
On the cable car to the Giant Buddha, which you can see at 11 o’clock.

The monastery is located on Lantau island, on the Ngong Ping peninsula, and the full name for the cable car is the Ngong Ping 360. It was a fantastic experience which I highly recommend. It was also nice to get out of the city for a bit.

3 buddhas at the Po Lin monastery, representing the past, present, and future lives.

Both are beautiful, peaceful, calm, relaxing temples. The Giant Buddha is, indeed, giant. You can see in this picture, taken from the cable car, that it’s a sizable chunk of the hill on which it sits. I wish more of my pictures from this part of the trip survived Apple’s Photostream issue.

The Man Mo temple I accidentally visited at the perfect time of day in terms of lighting. It was breath-taking, and my photography unfortunately cannot do it justice, even if I had all the photos. Look at this Flickr search for some inspiration, if you wish.

The Man Mo temple entrance. This pic is mine…

A much better photo, from Fion N. on Flickr:

Man Mo Temple
Another historical site that I really wanted to visit is the Kowloon Walled City. If you haven’t heard about this place, you should read the Wikipedia article. Now it is a nice park, and a museum commemorating the city, and a part of the old central building. It was fun to visit, and I spotted a good pickup basketball run nearby, but I kind of wish the city still existed.

Kowloon Walled City museum.
Pickup basketball at the park near the Kowloon Walled City museum.

If you’ve seen the movie Bloodsport, the tournament (“kumite“) takes place inside the Kowloon Walled City. Here’s the movie scene where they go in for the first time:

By the way, if you want to surprise me with a fun git, the “City of Darkness” photo book about the Kowloon Walled City has been on my Amazon wishlist for a while. Just sayin’…

Finally, Hong Kong also has decent nightlife. I can’t share all the stories here, naturally, but I had a blast. A couple of nights stand out.

Street art in Lan Kwai Fong.

I met up with a fellow Apache Software Foundation member, Lars Eilebrecht, who happened to be in Hong Kong at the same time. He knew some locals, and a few of us hung out over a long night in Lan Kwai Fong. This was conveniently close to my apartment. Thanks for organizing, Lars! I don’t remember every single detail from that night, but it was a blast.

One of the group stops earlier in the evening. Bjorn (guy in white) doesn’t yet have lipstick marks.

One of the fun things about LKF is that there are many small bars / restaurants. I think the above is at Latitude 22, one such establishment. They tend to over-fill, and so the crowd spills outside, with their drinks, to the streets. People walk around and have a good time, in a very positive atmosphere. It felt very safe, to me at least.

Someone in our group suggested starting the night with B52 shots (plural…), one of my fav shots, but not something usually offered up by others. That turned out to be a foreshadowing for the evening.

That’s a B52 she’s holding. I wonder what I said right before this pic was taken?

Armani / Prive later at night. Note the movie playing on the TV.

Later at night, Armani / Prive was pretty hopping. Fun bartenders and servers, IIRC.

Even later at night, we stopped by a place called Club Feather Boa, although judging by my only picture at that establishment, we would have had fun anywhere at this point.

At Club Feather Boa

On another night, I ventured out of Lan Kwai Fong towards the higher skyscrapers, some of which have loungers / bars / clubs near the top. The views were great, but in terms of rooftop loungers, Bangkok (the next major blog post in this series) has everyone beat.

Nonetheless, Ozone (the highest bar in the world, they claim), Sugar, Sevva, and M Bar were all worth the trip. Ozone in particular stood out for the combination of view and service. The outdoor deck at Sugar was badass as well.

Lily and Bloom was my favorite cocktail bar. They take their craft seriously.

From Sevva, just happened to catch the moon between clouds.
Hazy night from M Bar.
View from Ozone. Not my pic, we didn’t have that clear a night ๐Ÿ˜ฆ From Kew’s Daily Good Thing.

Another couple of notable places to close out the bars I visited in Hong Kong: PURE and RED, owned by the same people I think, were always packed when I walked by, so I dropped in. They are beautiful places, but nothing unusual.

The entrance to PURE.

Although Hong Kong has amazing shopping, I didn’t do much, since I was traveling light with a backpack. I did visit the Apple store just to check it out (exact same as in the US, no surprise), and I did score a couple of cool t-shirts at Paper Tee, a noted original designer.

The Apple store in an elevated area.

I stayed in Hong Kong 4 nights, which was a good amount of time in the city. I could see myself coming back to this great city and exploring further afield, as well as inside the city, a lot more.

From The Atlantic’s “Hong Kong, the City Without Ground” article.

A lot of people get confused in Hong Kong’s overways, underways, subways, whatever you call them. The entire pedestrian walkway system is very 3-D, which I actually greatly enjoyed. Maybe the geek in me enjoys discovering efficient paths? If you haven’t read The Atlantic’s “Hong Kong, the City Without Ground” article, it’s highly recommended.

I joined several Hong Kong meetup groups, but one stands out: The Hong Kong Eclectic Movie Night folks were friendly, welcoming, and interesting. We got together at 9pm in Lan Kwai Fong to watch THX1138, and that was the beginning of another entertaining evening.

At Hong Kong airport, about to port flight TG601 to Bangkok.

Next up, Bangkok ๐Ÿ˜‰

Guchi’s Midnight Ramen, yoga, Art of Flight

Another collection of quickies from the past couple of weeks.

Yoga:

I’ve been enjoying yoga a lot more than in the past. I’m leaning more towards the straight-up Vinyasa Flow classes, as opposed to those with hip hop or other fast music.

The music is fun and useful if you want distraction (e.g. when I run, I almost always listen to music), so the same class feels harder without music, but I like it that way.

At the same time, I do really like black light yoga. The effects of the light make the class much more visually interesting.

A shout-out + thank you here to Ame, Goldie, Brenna, Caitlyn, and Sarah, my fave teachers so far.

Yoga has been a great way to learn more about my body, and it’s definitely been helping my balance, agility, and flexibility. I still mostly suck at it, but I’m improving, and enjoying.

Oh, and I have a neon-green yoga mat, which turns out to be a highly-entertaining accessory to carry on your back around the Back Bay.

Guchi’s Midnight Ramen:

This was my #1 foodie popup to attend, but it’s a little bit of a challenge to get into. Nonetheless, with the help of a good friend, I managed to snag a ticket to yesterday’s GMR brunch.

It was one of the best foodie events I’ve been to, in Boston or anywhere, for a number of reasons. The food was delicious. There wasn’t a ton of it, just proper portions for appetizer, entree (ramen of course, uni and miso mazemen to be specific), and dessert. This is really nice because they usually over-feed you at these events, which never feels good afterwards.

The ramen was among the best I’ve had, including in Tokyo.

The other factor which made it an outstanding event was the company. It was mostly local tech people and entrepreneurs. I knew many of them already, met a couple of fun new ones, and the conversation was easy + flowing the whole time.

From left: James Psota, Chef Guchi, yours truly..

Thank you to Jennifer Lum, Drew Volpe, and Boaz Sender for organizing, Bocoup Loft for hosting, and Guchi and Tracy Chang for feeding us.

The Art of Flight:

Went to the 3D IMAX showing of the Red Bull film when it was in town a couple of weeks ago, had a blast ๐Ÿ™‚ Mouth agape much of the time, and again a great crowd as one might expect. Just about as many “holy s*#$!” moments as Further, making those the two top snowboarding films of the year for me.

(Watch in HD full screen, not on this blog…)

Finally, totally unrelated and not worth reading: a BlogDash verification link.

A few odds and ends

Clearing out my blogging queue with a few random quickies:

Shimizu-no-mai Pure “Dusk” sake, the best I’ve had recently.

Mario Testino‘s exhibit at the Museum of Fine Artsย (“In Your Face” is the exhibit name) was great. Well worth visiting for a couple of hours. My two favorite images were Reese Witherspoon in a red dress (American Vogue, November 2008), and Jennifer Lopez walking some dogs by a pool (also American Vogue, from 2004):

Read more about this pic from the NY Times…

Cirque du Soleil’s Saltimbanco touring show stopped by Boston for a few days last week. I went, and it was fun. I wish they were in town longer, and marketed it more / better in advance. But the athleticism is always impressive. The Chinese poles / bars are always my favorite.

Not my pic — pics not allowed during show. From their web site.

While we’re on the topic of bars, the guys at BarStarzz are just bad-ass, despite the funny spelling. I’ve been doing a bit more bar work, and generally more calisthenic and isometric work, but what they do is such a different level, it’s inspiring. This video is a decent compilation illustrating their principles:

Been doing some yoga, mostly at Back Bay Yoga. It’s a good workout, particularly as a complement to my other distance and high-intensity interval training sessions. I like the vinyasa flow work and the hip hop yoga for variety, but I still can’t help but laugh (quietly ;)) to myself sometimes at various position names.

Back Bay Yoga Studio entrance pic from Yoga Boston.

Some of my 2000 Bordeaux wines are ready to drink. (If you haven’t heard about this vintage, but care about wine, read this…)

I shared a bottle of 2000 Cos d’Estournel with 3 friends at a home-made dinner this past weekend, and after decanting a solid hour or two, it was good to go. Delicious wine, as expected.

Central decanter is a 2000 Cos d’Estournel. Left is also excellent: 2002 Ernie Els Stellenbosch.

Final thought: the November Project is great. It’s by far the best workout group I’ve ever joined, because of its unique combination of community, attitude, enthusiasm, energy, and diversity. I’m proud to be a member, and I think all my friends should try it out, no matter how fit (or not). Everyone has a good, friendly attitude, the workouts are fun, and I can’t wait to see how we do over the cold winter months.

Pic from this Monday, the #PiggyBackDashDeck. That’s me in the middle, white shirt, black cap, crunching.

I like it so much that I actually wake up very early in the morning for it — and if you know me, you know that’s a big deal.

A few November tribe members at the 1-year birthday “running of the bowls” event. Pic by Elin.

On this birthday, I feel lucky

Today is my birthday. I’m feeling luckier and more blessed than usual, which is saying a lot, since I’m often fairly happy with my lot in life.

On this birthday, I want to thank my family and friends. You all are so great, always supportive, always out there, always ready and willing to listen, give feedback, and / or just hang out.

I wouldn’t be who I am without you. I don’t take it for granted. I appreciate it. I try to be a good friend to you all, and will keep working at that.

Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

“Let us be grateful for those who give us happiness; they are the charming gardeners who make our soul bloom.” – Marcel Proust

The Listserve so far

The Listserve is an interesting project: read the background. ย I think I was one of the first members due to an unlikely combination of circumstances, which doesn’t belong in this blog post.

It’s been pretty interesting, and I like having one totally random human-written (for now, anyways…) email a day. ย The topics are all over the place, and as you would expect, not all are stellar.

This is my favorite email to date, from about four days ago (April 23rd 2012), by someone named nicolas314.

When I turned twenty I had reached a point where my earthly possessions could be summarized as the clothes I was wearing, an old bag containing some more clothes, a few science-fiction books, and my guitar. No money, no place to live, just a bunch of friends who helped me out of the streets and put me back on my feet.

Ending up in such a pit you first feel anger, then sorrow, then you make fun of it because that is the only way to make it bearable, and then you can go forward. It took me three more years to be able to shop for food without having to count change in my pockets.

Twenty years later I gave the books away but I still keep the old bag as a memory and my guitar is now standing in the living-room where I occasionally use it to sing for my kids.

Life has been a tough ride so far, but at least I know how to live without being bothered by simple objects. I know the only things you can count on are:
– What is inside you: your skills, your knowledge
– Good friends, and other people you love

Be generous and help somebody today get out of poverty. We all deserve a future.

nicolas314
On the way from Germany to France

First Red Sox game of 2012

Yesterday I went to my first Red Sox game of the season, with my friend Dan.

It was a blast: a beautiful ~70-degree Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park, the Red Sox beating a disliked division opponent (Tampa Bay), and lots of good conversation.

Former HubSpot employee and current Red Sox DJ TJ (not a typo, a DJ named TJ) saw our tweet from the game, and played a courtesy song for us on the loudspeaker, which was awesome.

Great start to the season. ย Both Dan and I will be there (separately with other friends, but I’m sure we’ll meet up to say hi) in the big Red Sox – Yankees 100th Anniversary game coming up Friday afternoon.