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Whirlwind to Michigan

After pulling two long days at work before my vacation, I woke up around nine this morning, and commenced final preparations to head to the airport. My friend Chaitanya, who just got his California driver’s license, graciously agreed to drive me to the airport in my NEW CAR (I still need to post about that…)

On the way to the airport, I found out that one of my code changes yesterday was causing an issue with a unit test this morning. After making it through security, I had a few minutes at the gate, and so I got to work investigating and fixing the bug. I managed to figure it out and submit a patch, but a coworker had to commit the patch for me, as I had to get onto the plane.

The plane ride was about twice as long as I am have gotten used to — just under 4 hours in the air — but was mostly uneventful. I watched the scenery for a while (I hope air travel never gets old for me), worked my way through more of The Kite Runner, and ordered some surprisingly good food.

After making it to CVG (Named after Covington, Kentucky, but really, Cincinatti’s airport) about 30 minutes late, I sat down and checked the status of the now-fixed bug (everyone was happy), and then pretty quickly boarded the next plane, a small commuter jet. I arrived in Grand Rapids about 3 hours ago and then my brother’s entire family (Ben, Kaylee, and Cora) came to pick me up.

Now on to some Michigan adventures!

Moved!

I moved! It was quite a process.

Wednesday afternoon I bought a car (more on that later, hopefully), then Scott came into town that night, I took Thursday and Friday off from work and we drove to Yosemite, went on a hike, built a bridge, got snowed on while we slept, hiked back out the way we came, visited the valley floor. Finally, we drove home, stopping only at an In-N-Out.

Saturday, we again used my NEW (to me) CAR to visit downtown Napa, and then Sunday we went on a bike ride (Page Mill Road to Gate 4 — Scott was a trooper and rode my heavy, power-sucking full-suspension bike).

Monday came the big move — a huge orchestra of things happening all at once. I had started packing about a week earlier, but Scott and I finished packing the last of my things and moving them to the garage that morning. Meanwhile, Jasmine started her move with a few friends and some hired help. Roommate Scott (not flown-in Scott) and Mike moved a few weeks ago, but they still had some things left over that some guys who were moving in to Palo Alto were picking up.

So, while cleaners worked around us, roommate Scott and Mike’s stuff was getting picked up in three van trips, Jasmine’s stuff was getting packed and put into the U-haul that I rented for the two of us (a bad idea, but I was trying to be nice), and my stuff sat in the Garage, roomate Scott and I were stressing out about the possibility of Jasmine not getting her stuff out in time (although she turned out to be a miracle worker, and got her copious amount sof stuff out and into storage as she promised she would.)

Just a 9:00pm (about 12 hours after picking up the U-Haul), the two Scotts and I started loading the U-Haul with my stuff. Former roommate Scott took off to do a slow drive back to Portland, while flown-in Scott and I drove the half mile to my new place, and then unloaded everything before midnight.

Many thanks to flown-in Scott for being so hardcore in getting the move done. We slept well that night.

On Tuesday, we ate breakfast at Facebook, then I dropped Scott off at SFO using my NEW CAR. Then it was back to work!

Overall, I had a wonderful time — I definitely need to make it back to Yosemite, and I definitely need to have more people come and hang out.

Scheming

This month should be a good and busy one. I have been scheming over the last few days, and this is what I have come up with so far for the rest of the year:

  • Post pictures from Peru on this blog (these photos are already posted on Facebook)
  • Post pictures from Australia and New Zealand here and on Facebook (I’m way behind on this front).
  • Bring the Checksum Arcanius Photo Gallery up-to-date.
  • Swap my Apple Macbook Pro for a Lenovo Thinkpad T400 with Windows 7 at work. My plan is for this to also become my main laptop; my current laptop, Graphitica, a Dell D630, will go to my wonderful mom. I will miss the touchpad on the Mac, but I think that pretty much everything else will get better for me with this swap.
  • Help the new housemate, Jasmine, move in. This will probably involve finding a truck that I can borrow for a weekend.
  • Drive the Saturn back to Washington for Thanksgiving; leave it there, and fly back to SFO (this will lower the car pressure on the house, which after Jasmine moves in, will be at 5. Returning my car to Washington will lower that to 4.) As long as I can occasionally borrow a housemate’s car, I will be fine with respect to transportation.
  • Have a few good contributions to Drizzle’s development

That is all for now. More schemes may come.

Smashproof

Right now I’m really digging a hip-hop group from New Zealand, called Smashproof, whose songs seem to not have made it here to the US yet, but I think they would do quite well if they do show up here. They have a few hits in New Zealand, including Brother, and Weekend, but my favorite song is Ordinary Life, which you can find on Songza (and precious few other places). Particular poignant to me is how the extended version of that song ends, partially transcribed here:

You don’t get nothing from nothing, meaning you have to put something into it to get something out and even though it may seem hard and you’re unsure what you need, you gotta look to your past. Look to your past, and if you don’t want your future to become a shadow of your past then you’ve got to do something at this present moment in time to change that…

Our ancestors weren’t followers. They weren’t followers. Mom and dad, our grandfathers, they weren’t followers. You think about it. They came here for a better future for you. A better future for you. They left their homeland.  They left their parents, their family to come here for a better life for you. Its your turn. It’s your turn to man up. Break the cycle…

You can make this work… Take a good look at yourself and ask the hard question: am I really willing to change?

ANZ

Well, I am back from my trip to Australia and New Zealand. First, I need to thank my parents, who made this trip possible for me. For many years, I have wanted to visit Australia, and as that dream moves towards reality this year, I realized that New Zealand is also a very worthwhile destination. Based on the writings of others, I decided that two weeks in Australia and three weeks in New Zealand would be the right mixture of time for this trip. The only part where I was wrong is that both countries could really use a lot more time.

Australia is an enormous country. It is the modern version of the US West during settlement times — everything is so spread out, and there is plenty of space to spread out in. We spent our two weeks (actually 11 days due to the flight time and the international date line) in three areas: Canberra, the Australian federal capital city, Sydney, the largest and best-known city in Australia, and Port Douglas, the town closest to the Great Barrier Reef, just north of Cairns (pronounced “Canes” or “Cans”). The sporadic twitter messages I was able to send throughout the trip are a pretty good timeline of the trip, but I will probably post a more detailed itinerary in the next few days.

Also forthcoming will be a selection of the best pictures from the trip. Preparing these will be quite the task, as I have over 30 GB of pictures from my two camera from my summer travels (both Peru and Australia/New Zealand). I’m not sure if I’ll finish this before I leave for California, but I should certainly be able to finish before I start at Facebook on the 14th.

Regardless of the details, this summer was the best vacation I have ever had, and this trip was the crown jewel of the summer. Both Australia and New Zealand are countries that I want to visit again. Among many other things, New Zealand looks to offer excellent summer skiing (from our northern perspective) and a large variety of high adrenalin activities, while Australia is a country still full of places and mysteries that I would like to discover.

Fabulous Bay of Islands

Can anything really be this awesome?

Orca #1

Orca #2

Orca #3

Sunset #1

Sunset #2

Sydney Teasers

Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House

The Sydney Opera House is visible under the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the early morning

Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House at night… from my hotel room!