Roadtrip 2015 – No whales. Again.

After my disastrous experiences with trying to see whales up north I’d booked a whale watching boat trip for one of the days in San Francisco. The trip was pretty nice.

We passed under the Golden Gate Bridge twice1 and coming back the weather was pretty good.

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I saw plenty of birds, seals, sealions, even a few dolphins briefly.

Not.

A.

Single.

Whale.

To be fair, just before we got back into the bay, someone (even several people) allegedly saw a whale spout. We hung around a bit, someone saw it again, but I didn’t even see that.

So there’s that. The crew was nice and knowledgeable, though, explained a lot of stuff about the animals we saw and all that. But after a few hours I was seriously tempted to throw the captain overboard. Every now and then he’d go on the PA and shout “LET’S FIND A WHALE” followed by some other motivational bullcrap, always in the same, forced eager tone. Given my whale-related frustration on the trip that got old preeeetty quick.

But here, have a digest of the animals I did see. I liked that part, a lot of birds you usually don’t see and all that.

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And that was it. Since Maui2 was out of season my3 chances of seeing a whale on this vacation where crushed. Again. But the day wasn’t over yet. In fact it got really awesome. I went back to the hotel to relax a bit. And, basically, wait. Reading. WP_20150523_001While that is always nice, it wasn’t the point. The point was, today wasn’t only my last full day in San Francisco, it was also the day I was scheduled to meet up with the lovely, awesome and delightful4 Amira Makansi. If you don’t know her, she’s co-creator of the SEEDS book series, which you should check out.

Anyway, she took it upon herself to meet up with me, despite fighting off the remainder of what sounded like a pretty nasty cold and picked me up to have dinner in Japantown.

It.fried and smoked eggs, dumplings

fried and smoked eggs, dumplings

Was.

Ramen.

Ramen.

So.

WP_20150523_19_48_46_Pro

green tea crème brulée

Good.

And I’m not only talking about the food.

I really enjoyed spending time with Amira and hope to get to do that again. On either continent.

Bye, see you on Maui!

Footnotes
  1. obviously []
  2. I’ll take you there in a few days []
  3. realistic []
  4. you should hear her laugh. ;-) []

Roadtrip 2015 – Meeting up in San Francisco

After three days of constantly being shunned by cats and not being danced for by the bird, Cairn finally had to let me go. It was time to see new places and people, and give the cats a break from hiding. I waited a bit to avoid the worst of the traffic and stopped twice on my way from Sacramento to San Francisco. Once at my probably last chance to get Chick-Fil-A on this road trip.1

The second stop was right before going down past Vallejo, but nothing spectacular happened there. The weather was so-so, no animals, the view was mediocre so I did the next thing on my schedule. I crossed the Bay Bridge and entered San Francisco.

PxRoadtrip 103

Sadly it was still a little hazy, so the view from Twin Peaks, which was not exactly optimal. Driving up through those steep streets was VERY interesting though. Thank photoshop for clearing up the haze and thank automatic cars. I’ve driven stick all my life, but that …

EosRoadtrip 942 EosRoadtrip 952After that I headed down to Fisherman’s Wharf to check into my hotel. Took me only two rounds around the block to find the entrance to the $50-a-night-parking garage. I was rather happy that I’d only need it for one night. Next up, after freshening up at the hotel was a new exciting meet-up.
Justin, who I used to play Eve Onlin with, had immediately started preparing when he heard I’d be coming to California and forced his brother to join him on a 6 or 7 hour drive from Lake Arrowhead just to meet up with me. And get back home the next day because they had to be at a wedding. You should totally check out his stuff, he’s an amazing artist. And a really cool guy.
We met up in the hotel lobby and he admitted that it felt sort of like a first date. Well, yeah, it can be interesting meeting people in person for the first time. We got over that fairly quick, had a stroll along the Embarcadero, checking out the piers, the sealions until we got back to Pier 39 to eat at Bubba Gump’s. I’d totally recommend that. Depending on where you are (I assume) you’ll always get tourist trap prices, but the quality, service and atmosphere are worth it. Just check out the slideshow, you’ll see what I mean. Well, part of it.

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The Coronarita was excellent and so was the food. And the company of course. After we finished stuffing our faces and got our souvenirs stowed away at our hotel rooms we ended the day in a nearby pub with a few beers.

And thus endeth my first daye in ye olde San Francisco. Or something like that.

 

Footnotes
  1. It was okay for chicken based fast food. Would not go out of my way to have it again. []

Roadtrip 2015 – Goldrush

As if showing me part of the most gorgeous scenery in the western U.S. wasn’t enough, awesome Cairn treated me to something else on my second full day visiting her. Which was as well since the cats still weren’t to pleased by my existence.

But first she showed me around old Sacramento so I could see old buildings, the Wells Fargo Museum and the Pony Express statue! Look here:

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After that (and a well-deserved breakfast at Eggie’s we hit the road towards Coloma, the place of the original gold findings in California and the start of the gold rush. We even arrived there after taking only one wrong turn into the barren wildernis that is California. At the national park we hiked about a bit, joked with the park ranger, took pictures, bought a plastic pan and tried our luck on the banks of the draught-ridden and therefor not-so-mighty American river.

And guess what:EosRoadtrip 935

 

Gold!

Well…a little. And we lost it again. But we had fun, and that’s what matters. So here’s a bunch of pretty and informative pictures, including signs that scared me. And made me hope to actually see some of the animals mentioned on them. No such (bad) luck, though. Still, good times were had by all. Thanks again, Cairn!

After that we headed home, found another funny vanity plate and had dinner at that Mexican place, where I had watermelon agua fresca which is probably the best drink ever ever ever ever and I really need to make some here and find a container to bring it to work.

EosRoadtrip 936

Roadtrip 2015 – Smokejumpers and Redwoods

Today started with the most adorable surprise. I decided to have breakfast at my motel, because…well, it was included and I was hungry AND curious. And I wasn’t disappointed. Nothing special, not at all, but they did have waffle makers and batter. I made my waffle, stabbed at it with my plastic fork when one of the more native people indicated to me that using a waffle stick would probably be easier. Yay, waffle stick!1

Disappointment followed! No butter! Eh, whatever. I grabbed some syrup and made my way to my table. Munching happily on my waffle I probably made a rather funny face when a little kid, 6-8 years old walked up to me and said something not quite comprehensible to me. I can understand a lot of English accents across three or four continents, but kids often elude me. He repeated twice and pointed into the general direction of buffet. Well, table laden with foodstuffs. At that moment a women, I assume it was his mom said “He says there’s butter again.”
I thanked him and went to grab some, overhearing assumed mom saying to her kid: “That was nice of you.”

Yup. That kid, barely out of kindergarden, decided to be nice to this random stranger without being prompted to.. Lady who had breakfast at the Super 8 Motel in Grants Pass on May 16th of 2015, you are raising your kid right. While there’s people like you left in this world, not all is lost. I salute you with the oddly specific waffle stick of respect and admiration!WP_20150516_08_30_43_Pro

 

Thusly invigorated I made my way South towards Cave Junction, home of Great Cats world which I didn’t visit. I did pull off at the Siskiyou Smokejumper Museum because it looked like something to do with planes and I’m kind of a nerd for those.
If you ever are in that general area I can only recommend you do the same. After I got out of my car and looked at the sign to see what this place was about, an elderly but very alive looking man came out of a building and asked me if I was interested in a small tour of the museum. Of course I was.2
He asked me if I knew what smokejumpers were and I admitted that I literally had just seen the sign and randomly pulled off to check it out.

Let me paint you a picture. It’s the mid 50s. Someone spots a column of smoke rising above the forest in the distance. They radio it in, the column is triangulated. At the same time a siren sounds, phones ring. Men in their 20s rush to the base, suit up, grab food for 3 days, a few tools, no water and board a plane. They parachute out of the plane in the middle of nowhere, no roads, no GPS, no cell phones. They look for the fire and maybe a cargo drop. Before the fire spreads they cut fire lanes around it and save thousands of acres. Those are smoke jumpers. The man who gave me the tour and told me stories? Donald Thomas, veteran, used to be a smoke jumper in 1957, loved every second of it until he got married and his wife would rather not have him jump out of airplanes. He told me about their gear, procedures, planes, special incidents and his second training jump ever. When he got dropped over a herd of cows, tried to evade and practically landed on top of one. He could hardly move, there was a bull, his buddy tried to literally just “shoo” it away before he made a beeline. Then his instructor (I forgot that one’S name) literally kicked him in the ribs, screaming “You’re not in pain, get up and run!”
He also took a picture of me in front of the plane that got donated at some point. The same model as one of the later smokejumper planes, not an actual one, though.

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After this unexpected but actually really awesome3 stop I made my way towards the coast, right through the Redwood National and State Park, following Redwood Highway. I made a few stops to hike a short trail, take a few pictures or just look at the scenery. Have you ever been in a place that is so breathtakingly beautiful that it’s almost physically painful not being able to stop at a particular spot? That place is just like that.

Also the corndog at that one rest stop was rather tasty. Here’s a gallery of the few times I actually managed to stop on the way to Eureka, California. Particularly bad and odd was the Trinidad Scenic Drive at the end of this day’s trip. A road…well, no a street or actually a path that felt barely wide enough for my small rental car, cliffs and the Pacific ocean to one side, winding along…suddenly turning a corner and you see those large birds, a dozen of them, hanging around in a tree. Remember how happy I was to see those two turkey vultures I saw on Rogue River? There was a dozen taking flight there and I just slammed the brakes excitedly. Then watched helplessly as they took flight before I even thought of grabbing the camera from the passenger seat. Anyway, here’s the pics, enjoy those!

 

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Later that day I arrived at the Motel in Eureka, and the less we say about that, the better. The steak at Adel’s steak house was okayish, the Sierra Nevada Ale was good, there was no free wifi and the rooms and location where subsubpar compared to the other motels I’d stayed in on the trip. But hey, one night, who cares? In retrospect, of the days I spent driving along the coast (and on Maui), this was the most beautiful and interesting day of the whole trip. I had fun, and a corndog!

Footnotes
  1. you guys have the weirdest specific tools []
  2. It would’ve been rude to just say no, also I WAS interested []
  3. please check out their website []

Roadtrip 2015 – One hell of a whale fail

As many of you know, I ‘ve been a little obsessed with whales (and aquatic life in general) since I was a kid, and I might have been trying to go whale watching a couple of times. On my third day of vacation I had booked another attempt. A seaplane flight from Lake Union to San Juan Islands followed by a whale watching cruise. Sounds good, eh?
I’d booked it in advance, so I took a taxi to the terminal to check in, had breakfast and we took flight to the encouraging words of the attendant: “There’s a bit of fog but don’t worry. Worst case you’ll have to turn around and try again in an hour.”
Didn’t happen, as you might have guessed from the title of this post. We took off, had an actually nice flight around. I was watching the compass quite anxciously and after 30 minutes or so we’d returned to Lake Union. WP_20150513_09_12_34_Pro KopieA muffin and an hour later they told us that they still hadn’t got clearance to start, so I called the whale watching tour to tell them. No way I’d make the boat. They assured me they’d do a full refund, which was nice, but I still was in one hell of a mood.
I started a little call to arms on twitter, to see if I could do anything else to take my mind off my more than miserable temper. Since there was no taxi in sight, I decided to walk towards the hotel, cursing under my breath. Pretty much non-stop, the whole 4 miles.
Back at the hotel I remembered there was another whale watching opportunity up near Seattle, but guess what: The one tour my schedule would have allowed ended their season on May 1st. This was May 13th. But my twitter call to arms had worked. Sara, who I’d met the day before in person for the first time had managed to get off work early. She’d told her boss about my day going bust and basically got told “Go cheer him up!”

Sara, I have to say this again: You saved not only my day, but probably the rest of the week. I don’t think I’d been a fun travelling companion for myself if not for the awesome afternoon that followed. Ever been on vacation, on a roadtrip, all by yourself, in a foul mood? I haven’t, and I don’t like myself in a foul mood on other occasions.

We decided on the Tacoma Zoo, met up on the parking lot and tried to find animals, more or less successfully. Had a great time chatting about animals, travel, work and other stuff.

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The awesome didn’t stop here. After our slightly wet zoo adventure we went to the Anthony’s nearby, had bread with shrimp/artichoke dip, oyster burgers abd Rhubarb Slump for dessert.
ALL THE TASTY FOOD! With a side of more awesome conversation about various topics which I’d love to repeat some time. My Scuttlebutt Pale Ale1 was pretty nice, too. Sara’s Whiskey Sour was more wiskey than sour, though.

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After that it was time to part ways, but not before taking goody selfies and enjoying a hug.

Again, thank you Sara! And Sara’s boss! Thanks for making this the best day of all the days that so cruelly denied me whales! It was awesome even by non-whale-standards!

 

 

No murdercorns where harmed in the creation of this blog post.

Footnotes
  1. I adore that name []

Friends all-over the world

When I came back from my last short trip to England, a coworker asked me where I’d been. “England”, I replied. “Visiting my cousin and a couple of friends.”
“You have friends everywhere, don’t you? Pretty large network, impressive.”

I get that a lot. “Oh you’re so lucky to have friends in XYZ”1

Am I now? Before we answer that, let’s look at my definition of “friend”. If you read my first blog post you already know that I’m pretty indiscriminate.

If you call me on a random day, at a random time with one of the following:
– “Olli, I’m so sorry, but I’m stranded at the airport/train station, could you come pick me up and could I crash on your couch for a night or two!”
– “Holy shit, I messed up, I need to talk!”
or something similar and I say “Sure, I’ll be there in a bit” then I consider you a friend.
As in: I will actually try and move things around even if it’s a major nuisance for me.

So yes, at the time of writing this, my definition of “friend” contains more of you readers than you might possibly think. And it’s easy to get from acquaintance to friend.

To be fair, I’ll already do quite a few things for acquaintances I like, but I’ll probably be less willing to go out of my way for something insubstantial.

Anyway. Yeah. Friends all-over the world. Lucky. Really?

I am shy. It probably doesn’t look like that when you first meet me over the internet.

<Crystal> are you shy ollie?
<ol> if he is, the rest of us are fucked
– IRC, 2005

I am not the type to go out to a bar, fair, festival and just “make” friends. I’m fine if you approach me, or if I have an actual subject or reason to talk to someone anyway, but if I’ve never talked to someone before, I’ll need a while to get talking.2 Once I get comfortable, or get to know someone and my subconscious realizes “Hey, they like me”, I’m usually good.

That is why my social circle extends much further into the internet than into my actual surroundings. I like most of my coworkers well enough, but most of those I’d actually spend time with live more than an hour away3 and I kinda want to get away from most things workrelated once I’m out of the office.

My friends from school…well, from the 56 people in my class4 I still have actual regular contact to 4 and their girlfriends/wives.
Then there’s another couple, he was a year ahead of me, she’s his girlfriends. And that covers my actual local friends I go out and do stuff with. Every couple of weeks.
The rest are people I might meet at the birthday parties of one of my friends. We have a great time and wont see each other again for a year.

So yeah, I have a lot more friends in various corners of the internet, than around here. I’ve been an internet resident since the late 90s, when we had free internet at school in the time we were just waiting for another class to start. I started getting into webchats and forums, that died down when I left school, went to the military for a year5 but I got back into it when I got internet at home and started working.

I’d go back into the old webchat, joined an internet radio station, discovered IRC and started making friends, at first in Germany exclusively.

The first meet-ups happened, later I got invited to a Italian-American wedding in Italy.

In the first meet-ups I was the quiet, shy guy. Getting used to things and people, sticking to people I already knew pretty well. In the follow ups I came to be one of the regulars, one of the guys who’d always been there.

We had a6 series of three or four meet-ups with the most mixed group you could imagine. Participants ranging in ages from 14 to 50, some bringing their own kids and dogs. We’d rent out a camp ground, put up tents, ate together, sat around the campfire in the evenings, play games, drank quite an amount of beer and wine and enjoyed pure bliss.

Basically we were one big family. Everybody looked out for each other, relationships were started on some of those. And we got depressed when we got back home, to our lives. Imagine a weekend full of bliss, joy, catching up, playing games, socialising with people that are basically a family away from home. Then you get home. Nobody there. You unpack, sit down and just think: “What now? Uh. Lonely. TV boring. Book boring. Video game boring.”

So you log into the chat, the gang is there, you talk about the weekend for an hour or two, log off again. BAM, sad. Of course, you get over it, but it’s never easy.

Meet-up hangover.  Post-Meet-up depression. Whatever you call it, I hate it. Considering I just came back from one a few days ago, I’m holding up remarkably well, probably because it was my first with that particular group.

But that’s not where it stops. I have lots of friends, good friends, people that I love to death, that I only meet in person once a year. If I’m lucky. A few more I’ve met three times in ten years. There’s people in America, the UK, the South Pacific and even Germany that I love to death, and that I’ve met once. Some of them I doubt I’ll ever see again, not in the least because it’s a massive investment in time off work, time and money just to get there.

If I take this further, since I’ve started using twitter about a year and a half ago, I’ve found quite a few people I’d start calling “friends” according to the abovementioned definition. I haven’t met most of those yet. And thinking about maybe never getting to meet some of them is almost physically painful.7

The internet, infinite possibilities to make friends you’ll never see.

On a side note, that also covers the question: “What would you do with an infinite amount of money on the sole condition that you are not allowed to give it away for charity or investment!”
I’d travel. All the time. See all the places, meet all the people, make new friends through them that I meet again the next time I pass through. I’d probably only stop at home long enough to get my passport renewed.

Time to come to an end.

To sum it up:
– I have only a hand ful of local friends that I don’t meet often enough.
– Whenever I meet groups8 of my friends, which doesn’t happen enough, I get sad when I get home.
– I have friends I never met face to face or only once

“You’re lucky to have friends all-over the world, Olli”
“Yes, on average I see them once every 3 years. How lucky is that?”
“Oh.”

Would I want to trade them for local friends?

Not for anything in the world. Oh, and if you happen to be near me, need anything or want me to visit while I’m on vacation in your general area9, let me know. I’ll be there. I’ll be sad when I get home, but it will be worth it.

Footnotes
  1. South Pacific, all corners of the US, England, Austria, South Africa, Canada, all across Germany, etc. []
  2. I work in sales. Hahahahaha []
  3. and I don’t want to be a bother. Ha! []
  4. there were others, from orchestra and such, but I have hardly any contact to those []
  5. I don’t have any contact to the temporary friends I made there. Some where actually nice. []
  6. well, actually several, with different groups, but same difference []
  7. might just be RSI from being on the computer too much in the past few days []
  8. ranging from 1 to 20 []
  9. and we’ve talked before. Don’t be creepy. []

Statstravaganza – facts and stats about my vacation

While on vacation (and actually a little bit before, too) I thought it might be cool to gather random statistics and facts for a random-facts-about-my-holiday-blog-post. The one thing I am going to omit is money, I guess. Because I’m not that kind of guy, and, while I was able to afford the trip without getting into too much trouble, looking at those kind of numbers always freaks me out.

transportation stats

So let’s sRoadtrip 2014tart with distance. The whole trip, going from Jacksonville, FL to Niagara Falls, NY and back down to the airport in B uffalo, NY is about 1700 miles. There’s a train journey between Philly and NYC hidden in there, but we did enough detours and randomly driving around to clock in at about 2000 miles between the two rental cars we had.

But wait, there were boat trips, train trips and a lot of walking (not to mention public transportation and cab rides in cities which I will not count).

Between the boat trips (ferry rides in North Carolina and the Maid of the Mist boat tour at the Niagara Falls we can add 22 miles of boat tripping to our road trip. Neat, huh?

Next up, trains: Philly to NYC: let’s give it a hundred miles, from Manhattan to Long Island and back maybe another 50.

So that’s 150 miles of train. Let’s just add it up to 250 and include public transportation in travelD.C. and NYC.

On a whim I’ll also guesstimate cab rides. Maybe 3 miles in Virginia Beach, 3 miles in Philly and a whopping 16 miles in New York City.

The touristy bus in Philadelphia took us on rides worth may 5 miles I’d say.

Next and last: walking. Oh dear, @wacie will hate me for this. I won’t bore you with the details of walking 30 blocks because of miscalculation subway things in NYC, but all said and done, including museums and stuff…we probably did about 32 miles of walking around or more.

I am not going to split this up into a statistic based on how much time we spent with each type of transportation.

On our trip we visited seven museums, two related to art, one a mixed bag of history, science and art, the rest mostly history and science.

We did see a few animals1 on our trip.

– 2 or 3 alligators (I think I saw one cross the road2 )
– 1 deer3
– loads of turtles
– 3 squirrels
– roadkill4

All that travelling got us through ten US states, and one Canadian. Not Bad.5

Cellphone trouble

Times @wacie’s cellphone died after half a day of checking into every location on foursquare:
– seeing how we were on the road about 14 days, I’d say 14.
Times we thought the phone had died for good but I miraculously got it to work again:
– one
Times @wacie lost her phone:
– two
Times we got it back:
– two6
Times my phone caused me trouble:
– none7

 

Shopping spree

Times we had to stop/look for a drugstore because @wacie forgot something8:
– four or five
Times we stopped into a beauty/makeup-related store for mostly exclusively nailpolish:
– can’t say, most nailpolish shopping actually was drive-by-shopping9
Number of bottles of nailpolish @wacie (check out her blog. www.wacie.com) bought while on the trip:
– 6710 – 40 of which were bought in stores, 27 online from hotel rooms and what-not
Number of t-shirts I bought:
– six
Number of hard rock café’s I had to keep myself out of:
– five

Food trip

Part of this vacation was about food. Doing my first US american road trip I was kind of bent on trying as much typical American food-places as possible. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t. I “missed” quite a few of the typical fast food places, but here’s a list of stuff I ate and the places I ate them.

I finally had gatortail. At Gator’s Dockside in Jacksonville, Florida
Georgia saw me eat Spinach & Strawberry salad at the district café
a delicious steak at the Peddler Steak House in South of the Border, SC
pecan waffles at Waffle House somewhere in NC
Should I count the Bomb Burrito I heated up in the hotel microwave on the Outer Banks in NC?
Bob’s Grill11 served us delicious seafood benedict.
fried oysters and crabcakes were had at Abbey Road, a Beatles themed pub in Virginia Beach
Fried chicken at Nando’s in Washington D.C.
I ate at a McDonalds at the Air & Space Museum in Washington D.C.12
Taco Tuesday in Washington D.C. gave us… tacos!
Pancakes at IHOP
Hot dogs at the Lincoln Memorial, some more hot dogs in NYC
A Philly Cheesesteak in Philadelphia13
Shrimp Shumai, Beef Negimaki and a perfect tuna steak and some Sake at a Japanese restaurant in Philadelphia14. Don’t forget the green tea tempura ice cream.
Some tasty pizza calzone at John’s Pizza, a converted church in Manhattan
Hamburgers and hot dogs at my friend’s Memorial Day BBQ in Long Island
A bagel at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Brooklyn
Funnel cake and deep fried Oreo on a Manhattan street fair
Lobster roll on a rooftop bar
Korean BBQ Burger at the Madison Square Park eats food festival
Another Taco Tuesday in Poughkeepsie, NY, where I had Mole Abuelita15
Lobster, shrimp and fish ad Ruby Tuesday
Florentine benedict at a diner in Kingston
Buffalo chicken pizza for dinner in Niagara Falls, NY16
A maple donut at Tim Horton’s in Niagara Falls, Ontario
Poutine in Niagara Falls, Ontario

All that food makes me thirsty, so let’s move on to the beertistic.
While on my road trip I tried 26 different beers.  I thought about turning this into a neat graph, but it would be very American-IPA heavy.
There was one beer I had tried before, one Japanese Ales, one Belgian beer and a German one. The German one was NOT the one I’d had before.
So here’s a list so you can revel in my vacation boozing:
– Dukes
– Sam Adams
– Flagship IPA
– Sunken City IPA
– Hoptopus IPA
– Shotgun Betty Hefeweizen
– Brew Free or Die IPA
– Sam Adams Cherry Wheat
– Raging Bitch IPA
– Port City Optiuma Wit
– Green Eyed Devil
– Roge Dead Guy
– Entire Butt Porter
– Riverhorse Summer Blonde
– Evil Genius IPA
– Allagash White
– Hitachino Red Ale
– Brooklyn Lager
– Stella
– Würzburger Hofbräu
– Hurricane Kitty
– Sam Adams Summer Ale
– Molson Canadian17

And now let’s finish this post with

leftover random stats

– @wacie argued with 3 talking crossroads. While being sober.
– I met four internet friends on this trip, none of which I’d ever seen in person before, one of which I spent the whole 15 days with
– I mailed 25 postcards

postcards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

– I expressed my adoration for the southern dialect countless times
– we saw 1 space shuttle (not actually in use)
– we saw 1 aircraft carrier (actually in use)
– we tried taking a picture of that “speed limit enforced by aircraft” sign a dozen times
– never got pulled over
– got asked ((or people just implied)) if we were a couple/on our honeymoon five times
– ran into Germans countless times
– @wacie verbed all the nouns18
– times I tried to open the wrong door with my key: two19

 

All in all, a good vacation!

Footnotes
  1. not counting the Virginia Beach Aquarium []
  2. why did the ‘gator cross the road? []
  3. almost ran over it []
  4. raccoons, armadillos, various other animals []
  5. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, DC, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Ontario []
  6. the second time they stole her 8GB microSD Card, which is kinda hilarious []
  7. well, okay, in NYC the texts from and two one friend took about 30 minutes to go through []
  8. and once because roomkeeping stole her tampons from the hotel bathroom []
  9. popped a bottle of polish in someone’s ass? []
  10. sixty-seven []
  11. the one that we stopped at just to take a picture of the sign saying “Eat and get the hell out []
  12. I am deeply ashamed of this, but we were hungry and out of options []
  13. in an Irish pub. And it was good. []
  14. the Aki Japanese Fusion []
  15. delicious chicken breast in a spice, chocolate & almond sauce []
  16. and leftover pizza for breakfast, because GARGANTUAN []
  17. I drank that in Canada []
  18. most notably: bench, Canada, gatortail and beer []
  19. hey, all those doors look the same []

Tweetrimony

If you read my first blog post you might guess that one thing that has almost fascinated me about the internet is the possibility to connect to people you would never had met without it.

And I’ve done a lot of that. Web chats, forums, IRC, online games of one sort or the other. Some people I met randomly, others via common friends and acquaintances.

Social networking websites and -media has boosted those possibilities in the past decade and twitter is one of the most interesting services around for that.

The character limit and the possibility to tweet at people that don’t actively follow require a certain brevity and clarity in your communication that enables to strike up conversations really quick because you HAVE to get to the point.

Despite the limit it is surprisingly easy to have meaningful conversations as well as enjoying hilarious banter.

Here’s something that has entertained me a lot in the past few days, and thanks to everyone involved.

Enjoy!

 

Oh, and if you are looking for more twitter fun besides my non marriage, there’s @CairnRodrigues youtube show twitterati! :)

here be dragons – friends from the internet

A lot of the people1 reading this probably don’t even need to be told what I’m going to write in my first post, because it’s – in a way – about them.

Internet people. Internet acquaintances. Internet friends.

And here goes. Even today2 people like me will get looked at in a slightly weird way if you tell them something like “a friend I met on the internet”. I’ve occasionally tried to avoid that phrase when telling things regarding those people, because it’s often easier than facing skepticism  when you just want to give some context to something that has happened.

To a lot of people out there, the internet is a tool. They use it to buy books or movies, plan their holiday, copy their homework from wikipedia, watch cat videos or even catch up with old friends, relatives, colleagues or even people they met on their holiday. “Real life people”.

Granted, a lot of these people are from that generation that did not grow up with the internet, but there are as many younger than me who hold the same views.

The internet is full of phonies, liars, criminals, or worse. You can’t meet real people out there. You can’t make REAL friends out there. Dating websites3 don’t count.

HERE BE DRAGONS

Well, first of all, even if most people who know me probably wouldn’t think of me as “shy”, I am not the kind of guy who just goes out and “meets new people”. For some reason I have trouble going to a pub or bar and just randomly strike up conversations with people I’ve never met in my life. I don’t go dancing or to the village fair to meet new strangers. I’m social enough, I love having company and if I find some common ground to connect with someone, if there’s a certain spark, I might even be talking your ears off before I realize it.
If it doesn’t happen that doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t like you, it’s just that I often need a little warming up.

The internet makes that a lot easier for me. Whether it’s the old web chat rooms, IRC, forums and starting earlier this year twitter, I have had little trouble finding likeminded people of all age groups and various nationalities online and met quite a few in person, but more of that later.

So I wonder, what makes people think that “internet people” aren’t real people as well? Why is it okay to go to a pub, disco, barn dance just to “meet people”, but not into the forum of a gaming community, a chatroom on IRC or join twitter not just to stalk Justin Bieber but maybe have some fun random encounters and maybe even make friends and meet people?

“Oh, but that man/woman from the internet could abduct, kill, say bad things to or even rape you!”

Yeah, like that’s never happened to anyone who’s gone to the pub on a Friday night.

I’m not saying that you should throw yourself at the first person to suggest you meet up  in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. For heaven’s sake, trust your guts, make sure someone knows where you are, have some basic safety measures. Whether you go to the pub or to your first meeting of your new internet community.
I pride myself on having a pretty good judgement of people and I probably also got lucky with the people I met, but I’m willing to bet that in most internet communities you will find people that are looking out for each other. More likely than at any local watering hole.

But whatever reasons you give to people, there’s always some who will disbelieve or remain skeptical. So maybe take a moment and think about what awesome social things have happened to you that you have to thank the internet for.

Here’s my list, in chronological order, of the parts the internet played in creating my social life and a large part of who I am. Well, the parts I remember or was able to reconstruct from my picture collection.

In 1997 still in school I first entered a certain webchat, met a girl, and after a couple of days of chatting, we decided4 we’d start writing letters. We’re still friends, see each other occasionally5

2003
I became a regular in a webchat and joined a web radio6 that was based in that chat. I am still a member, albeit inactive. There I met people from throughout the country and beyond I still count among my best friends.

It’s also where I met my first girlfriend. It didn’t last very long, but I also met her best friend at the time, who became one of my best friends and our friendship continues to this day. She got me into Doctor Who two years ago.

I went to my first community meeting7 and started meeting up with people I’d never seen before.

2004
The webchat and webradio became a circle of friends. I went to three community meetings that lasted a whole weekend.8

Also some coworkers got me to join a large-scale browser game where I met people from all over the world via the game itself. I quit after a while but I stuck to the IRC network people organized their tactics in.

2005
More of the same things of course. The highlight of the year: An American from said game I met in IRC had become something between an acquaintance and a friend. He was married to an Italian and they were planning to marry a second time for her family which still lived in Italy. And I got invited. Which was pretty exciting. But as his wife put it: “You spend so much time with these people online, if he’s  a friend, why not?”
That was a first for me but I actually didn’t even think twice about it. We’d spent hours chatting about pretty much everything, and it wasn’t the first time I got to meet internet people and their friends and family. So I flew into Rome, got picked up by his wife at the airport and actually had lunch with her family before I even met him. It was eerie but they were very welcoming, and ‘lo, there was nothing awkward or weird about it. Look, he’s human just like us. ;-)

Also in 2005 I started writing product reviews and parodies for a large community and product review website. I don’t write for that website anymore, but I’ve found friends there as well, there’s a meeting once a year and it never fails to be awesome.

2006
I visited my cousin in Manchester, England and met up with several friends from IRC, two of which I joined on a train to Newcastle where we’d go see Iron Maiden and share a hotel room.

2007
Apart from the usual community meetings, a friend I met through the web radio and seen in person twice for a weekend each chatted me up on an instant messenger.
“Hey, what are you doing?” – “Oh, just checking trips to the United States, but the single room surcharge is offputting” – “When are you planning to go?”
We went there together and had great fun when people assumed we were either a couple or siblings until we explained that we were just “Internet friends”. Oh, and I also met up with an internet friend in Las Vegas.

2008
I paid a visit to a friend and her husband in the UK. I met her via an internet forum that belonged to a webcomic both of us were reading. To this day we’re friends and I’ve visited on two more occasion. I’ll miss her 30th birthday next year because I’m going to be on a road trip along the US East Coast, visiting … yup, internet friends. Friends.

2009
The year I met my current ex.9 We’d talked before, online, on the webradio, had a few phone calls, and then we hit it off on the anual community meeting of the web radio. Basically camping, a day of team building games, bbq, board games and all that. Quite a few relationships began that weekend. Oh, remember the best friend of my first girlfriend? Yup, met her again after years, and while the relationship with my girlfriend didn’t last, that friendship made it through ten years and two relationships, still counting.

2010
Things were a little quieter on the internet front, but my girlfriend and I visited a lot of common friends that year

2011
We’d moved in together, but the relationship ended in April. I met up with more internet people that year, but the highlight was the trip to Ireland. I had booked that for me and my suddenly ex. Cancelling the trip would’ve been rather expensive, but my friend who I toured the states with was available, and even though we hadn’t met up even once since 2007 we just continued where we’d left.
So the relationship ended, and suddenly I had more time on my hands, so besides connecting to my internet family I also started up playing an MMO10, getting to know awesome new people, becoming friends with them.
Another friend had vanished from the internet for months due to financial and internet connection issues and there were dozens of people trying to reach him. We’d all feared the worst because of what we knew about his medical background, but everything turned out right.

2012
I took a round trip around southern England. Basically I flew into London, rented a car and first visited MMO people, then my webcomic friend who got me hooked on BBC’s Sherlock, and after that someone from IRC who I dragged around London for a day.

2013
You thought nothing could top the wedding? Well, it certainly will be one of the all-time-highlights of my internet bio, but it turns out that one of they guys from the MMO lives on a tiny island in the South Pacific, and I’d gotten a travel voucher for my 10th anniversary at my company the previous summer. Long story short, banter happened, I got invited, booked three days later and then dragged a friend and coworker 20.000km across the globe, drove 10 days around New Zealand and took a plane to spend a week in paradise and still have more or less constant contact to him/his family.

In the same year I went to Cardiff with two internet friends11 and a boyfriend, we met very nice people via the couchsurfing organisation and got to see the Doctor Who Experience.

Also I joined twitter, and I’m pretty sure that at one point I’ll start meeting up with people I’ve found there. Dammit, if I had a teleporter, I’d probably spend more time buzzing around as a cloud of highly energized molecules than at home.

As to next year, I’m looking forward to meet all kinds of internet friends, from a gaming community, friends I’ve talked to on IRC from 3 to 7 years and who knows who else?

Hey, maybe YOU know me and you want to visit? I’m sure we can arrange something.

So. Yeah, I guess the internet is full of phonies and it’s not worth spending any more time there than it takes to order a book or watch a few cat videos on youtube.

TL;DR
The internet is awesome, there’s great people to discover and a lot of them just mean the world to me.

I don’t even distinguish between “internet” and “other” friends anymore, unless I have to explain where I met certain people.

Thanks for bearing with me, this got longer than I thought. And I mean every word.

Olli

Footnotes
  1. Funny, my first blog post, I don’t even know if anyone will actually read this, but I start with “A lot of the people” []
  2. or maybe more than ever? []
  3.  Never used any, not that I mind people using them, but I kinda stick to the regular social networks. For now. ;-) []
  4. well I suggested []
  5. Once a year or every two years, I’d say, depending. []
  6. Just a bunch of people who enjoyed streaming music to a bunch of friends and talking nonsense. I’ve been a show host and member of the organisatorial commitee in various positions, including leading the whole kindergarden []
  7. actually chaperoning said best friend []
  8. basically a group of thirty 16 to 40-year olds went camping, including bbq and board games, nobody killed anyone. Amazing, huh? []
  9. Is that the way you say it? Huh. []
  10. something something spaceships []
  11. one of them the girl I met via my first girlfriend []