Travel & Adventure

Global Neighborhood

Somewhere between Vienna & Paris, from above

I was incredibly lucky as a kid to have a family that on occasion took me to far corners of the earth. And while most of it had goofy religious justifications I was really too young to understand that, but still old enough to know I was going on a great adventure around the world. I don’t remember every bit of it, actually just flashes like a slideshow. In fact it’s weird what images from those trips are burned into my head. My grandfather standing in a hallway of a hotel in Rome. My cousins walking through the lobby of yet another hotel looking out over the Adriatic Sea in Split in what used to be Yugoslavia. Some people standing on the side of a street in Medjugorje, current day Croatia. I barely remember the landmarks, but I remember these images vividly. Anyway, point being when I was growing up I was exposed to this wild stuff and it great.

It was great because it taught me that nothing was out of reach, and even these places all the way around the world were accessible. And there were people there just like me.

That understanding continued with me through my teens and early adulthood even though I wasn’t traveling as much at that point. But I missed it, and when I had the opportunity to go somewhere far away and different again I jumped at the chance. I’d dreamed of visiting Japan for as much of my life as I can remember – originally because of an obsession with Japanese monster movies and robot cartoons, and later an affinity for a handful of Japanese film directors and martial artists, as well as the cultural aesthetic in general – but I’d always had a reason not to go. When I finally said fuck it and just went, I was both delighted that it was better than I ever dreamed, and disappointed that I’d talked myself out of visiting so many times previously.

Shadowboxing

I just wrote the stupidest blog post in the history of text being transmitted across the internet. Seriously it was a nightmare of epic wtfness. What’s worse is that I wrestled with it for hours. Hours! I was thinking about it while walking around yesterday and started typing it up last night and then hit a wall and thought I’d go to sleep and clarity would hit me and then I could polish it off and post it in the morning. I woke up still stumped but I forced my way through and turned it into something that at least had some kind of clear start and finish then then I went to have breakfast and came back to reread it and wanted to punch me in my own damn face for wasting a second it it. Or at least on the approach I was taking. Delete!

Because I know I’ve piqued interest now and I don’t want to leave anyone flustered wondering if what I’d written was dramatic, or somehow impacted them, or what I’m hiding I assure you it was none of the above. It wasn’t a big tell all or anything scandalous. The post was about how isolating being in Japan can be, but in a good way. Good for me anyway, I can certainly see how what I feel when I’m here could be interpreted as loneliness to some people and it might bother them, but I really enjoy it. I talked about how not understanding the chatter around me, being ignored by marketers, having only the most basic of conversations with employees at establishments etc means that there are almost no distractions inside my head, the only conversation is the one I’m having with myself all day long. It allows for some fantastic focus and clarity.

And at the same time because I do have a network here, people and place I know and enjoy visiting it’s almost like my own personal secret society. There was much more to this and I rambled on with a bunch of useless references and then I realized how masturbatory the whole thing was and that’s when I killed it.

Trust me, it’s much better for both of us this way.

Baggage

Today is a travel day.

I’m heading out in a moment to catch a flight to Japan for 10 days. A few days in Sapporo for a conference and then to Tokyo for a Safecast hackathon. I’m bringing one small suitcase that fits in the overhead compartment of the smallest airplanes and a very thin backpack. This is almost identical to the baggage I had with me while we spent December in Europe. Truth is, packing for one or two days is difficult, for anything over 4 days is easy. In fact, I never pack clothes for more than 4 days. I do laundry in my hotel room every night so at any given moment on my trip I have the clothes I’m wearing, a set of clothes drying in the shower, and one or two sets in the closet ready to go. You never need more than that. For this trip, I might even have more gadgets than clothes.

Checking luggage is one of the biggest headaches in air travel. It costs more, you have to wait around for ever to get it, you have to deal with dragging extra bags all over the place, lost or delayed luggage is common and throws giant wrenches into your plans. It’s not worth it. When you have carry on only, checking in is a breeze. Getting out of the airport is lightning fast. Getting from the airport to wherever you are staying is painless. Carry on only is the way to go.

I’ve been preaching this gospel for years and I’m still confronted with people who scratch their heads in awe of how someone could travel without bringing their entire wardrobe with them. The worst thing you can do when you travel is bring too much stuff. If you get home and there is something in your bag that you didn’t use that is a fail. If you are traveling to any kind of a city, chances are you can default to bringing less stuff and in the worst case you can buy something there if you really need it. Think closely about everything you pack – is this something you are going to use every day on your trip, or just once – maybe? If I can avoid it I never pack a “maybe” item. A mental game you can play is to threaten yourself – if you pack something and you don’t end up using it, you aren’t allowed to bring it back. With stakes like that getting choosy is a little easier.

I put 90% of my stuff in my suitcase, and keep a very small bag for under the seat. In that bag the only I have is my laptop and power cord (in case I’m lucky enough to get a seat with an outlet), my kindle, my camera, an eyeshade, earphones, ear plugs, my geiger counter (for logging in flight) and a flashlight. Maybe a snack bar. That’s pretty much everything I could need. Jackets never got in suitcases – just shove them in the overhead.

As nailed as I have my travel set up, my real life is a disaster compared to that. Boxes of stuff in the closet, in the garage. Mental clutter. I think about how painless and awesome my approach to travel makes my life, and try to take those lessons and apply them elsewhere. I’m not quite as good at that, but I think it’s a worthwhile goal. We need the stuff to get through today and tomorrow. Worrying about next week doesn’t help at all. It’s all about today. It’s all about right now.

2012: The year in review, in photos

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know the drill, 6 years ago I did a post looking back over my previous year by looking through the photos I took and posted online. My thought being, if I’d posted it online it was important enough to remember – so I restricted it to that as opposed to crawling through personal libraries as well. It was cathartic to say the least, so I’ve done it every year since then. (Feel free to take a stroll through my visual time machine… 2007 & 2008 & 2009 & 2010 & 2011). I find it to be kind of wild looking back at a full year in one shot like this, so here we go for 2012….

The first thing I noticed as I began this is that I posted considerably fewer photos to flickr at the beginning of the year than I had previously. I think I was going through some question about the future of the service – I’ve been a long time user but Yahoo! had all but abandoned it and over the years my friends had slowly dropped off as well. That changed by the end of the year with returned enthusiasm from both my friends and Yahoo! but for a good chunk of 2012 I was trying out lots of other photo sharing / storage options and trying to find something that fit. Disappointingly, I don’t even remember everything I tried and thus whatever I might have posted has drifted away to forgotten land. Which is a bummer, and makes me again realize how important flickr has been for me and why I keep using it.

At the same time, I started shooting a lot of photos on film rather than digital, which when you add in developing and scanning times and my own habits of waiting until I had 10 or so rolls to make a trip the lab, means something that happened in January might not have been documented online with my photos until April. It seems like even some digital stuff I shot didn’t end up on line until months later for some reason. Every year that I’ve done this I’ve searched through my archive using the “posted on” date, but this year “taken on” became much more important. But even that is confusing.

Floored

KaffeeKüche - Vienna
Start typing. Select all. Delete. Stare. Stare. Stare. Type. Stare. Select all. Delete.

Today was a travel day. Travel days can be hard. Today was one of the harder ones.

Packing bags from a month in Vienna, lugging them across a city, making sure the kid doesn’t get lost en route. Boarding passes, clearing security, waiting for the plane, boarding, flying, landing. Dealing with luggage and trains and changing trains and train stations and walking and finally getting to the new hotel in the new city.

No food. No coffee. Sinus infection. Pseudoephedrine.

The first day of the new year comes to a wrap. I’m sitting on the floor in the bathroom with my laptop and sloth speed wifi while the rest of the family tries (though from the sound of it unsuccessfully) to get to sleep. Lights out in the room, curtains drawn. I’m awake and restless. Looking at Tumblr. Reblogging shit.

Kitties and titties and Otakugangster are the best Tumblrs in the world, for the record.

Good night Paris. Tomorrow you better deliver some falafel.

2011: The year in review, in photos

Back in 2007 I had a crazy idea to skim my flickr stream and pick a few photos from each month to try and illustrate how I spent the year. I found it to be pretty cathartic and gave me a whole different impression of the year I’d just experienced. I liked it. So I did it again in 2008. And then in 2009 it was kind of “a thing” so I did it again. And then again in 2010. I really like doing this. It’s a pain in the ass, but it’s awesome to reference.

I’ve been slow getting to it this year for no good reason, I can’t believe it’s April already. Gah. I’m sorry. So here it is. The first photo I posted in 2011 was this one of Ripley and Lucky cat just waking up. I guess that’s a good way to get this moving

Waking up, sort of

Which I think must have been followed by a hike up to Runyon Canyon with the family based on my pics. I had a beard.

Bite your tongue!

My Travel Coffee Setup, 2012 edition

A few years ago I wrote about my quest for the perfect travel coffee setup. I travel a lot, I like good coffee, so ensuring that I can have good coffee when I travel is kind of important. Since then I’ve been pretty much sticking to that same set up – Kitchen scale, Porelex grinder, V60, Kettle… It’s served me well but it’s not small and that’s always bugged me as I like to travel as light and compact as possible. I’ve messed with some minor variations (collapsing fake V60, etc) to no avail. For 2012 I decided to throw caution to the wind and start from scratch.

People keep raving about the AeroPress – especially in travel situations. I’ve resisted because frankly the shitty to delicious ratio for cups of coffee I’ve had from this device leans heavily on the shitty side. But I decided to give it a shot. If there’s any way I’m going to force myself to figure it out, it’s in a hotel room on the otherside of the world at 3am when Jetlag is making me surely.

Moving to the AeroPress means the slow pour kettle is no longer needed, which is actually the biggest motivator here for me as that’s the most obnoxious thing to try and fit in a suitcase.

Scale wise I switched the the larger countertop model I had to a higher end pocket sized guy that a friend gave me a while back but I hadn’t made much use of.

I’m sticking with the Porlex Hand Grinder because it’s really the best option out there for a hand grinder. I’ve tried everything, trust me, this is the one to get. However, since it’s *exactly* the right size to fit inside the AeroPress, and I can grind right into it I went ahead and pulled off the bottom part where grinds are usually collected.

I also have one of those wacky metal AeroPress filters so that I don’t need to worry about paper ones, but honestly I might not be able to put up with the silt so I’m bringing a couple paper ones just in case.

As you can see, all compacted that’s a pretty small load. Actually the bag of coffee beans I’ll be bringing takes up more space in my bag. At least those get used and don’t have to be brought home.

I’m heading off to Japan tomorrow and will give this a test drive over the next week. I’m excited about trying something new, really excited about how much smaller this set up is, but a bit nervous that the AeroPress will turn my delicious beans into crap. Fingers crossed.

2010: The year in review, in photos

For the past few years I’ve been recounting the previous 12 months by skimming my flickr stream and seeing what I was inspired to take photos of during that time, and seeing what that all ads up to at the end of the year. I’ve found it to be pretty therapeutic. Check it out if you want to, and if you want to walk further down memory lane, here’s the photo reviews of 2009, 2008 & 2007.

To recap I entered 2010 in LA which was something I hadn’t done in many years. I’d been making a habit of being in Berlin for New Years (looks like I’m missing it again this year btw). The CRASH space folks and I had secured a space and we’re moving in, and we started having real meetings in January…

Take apart Tuesday panorama

January was also when we (Tara and I) started facing up to the fact that “we” was going to include another person before too much longer and threw ourselves a little baby shower.

Party panorama

January was also a point where started thinking that I wasn’t just going to keep snapping a million photos and posting them all online. I wanted to create images that looked a little better, and started really thinking about how to do that. My initial steps just included iPhone filters.

beach sun

But I also picked up a real camera that shot on real film and started down an interesting path with that.

K1000

Luckily for me, living in Venice Beach provided some pretty regular and pretty interesting subject matter with which to try and improve those skills. Before the end of January I was making pretty regular visits to the new Skate Park.

Venice Skatepark

In February I started getting my first rolls of film back from the shop, and was pretty excited with the results. This is from the very first roll I ran through a camera in the last 20 years at least.

Bowl Air 2

I also got the filter settings I really liked on my iPhone pretty dialed in.

VSP today

This was all exciting and I jotted down some of my thoughts about photography in a long winded blog post. Sorry to anyone who read it.

For my birthday I decided to fix some old tattoos and reaffirm my faith in them. PMAxFVK.

PMA x FVK

Shooting on film impacted my flickr feed as well, with big dumps when I got things developed rather than uploads as things happened. Feb 19th was the first of those dumps. Clearly there had just been a big storm.

Venice Beach Post Storm

I’ve never been big on heros, but I’ve always looked up to Mike Vallely and I finally got to meet him when his Black Flag cover band, By The Sword played in LA. In the past meeting people I’ve looked up to has been disappointing, with wasn’t with Mike.

By The Sword

Waiting

Wave

But not to get all arty here. Normal things were going on as well. You might remember Johannes from previous years in review, and he came to LA and spoke at Crash Space about fun things they were doing in Vienna like Roböxotica and invited us to contribute something next time they did it.

Johannes talking at crash space

And just like that, I turned 35.

I think getting into photography helped me cope with living at the beach. Venice has a history and can be quite photogenic at times. Forcing myself to look for those moments was a good thing.

Dogtown

Phone: *ring*
Me: Hello?
Xeni: Hey, I’m going to have breakfast with Die Antwoord, want to come?
Me: HELL FUCKING YES!

Ninja and Xeni

Ninja

On March 3rd things got kind of eventful, on the family front…

Tara in labor

And just like that, there were 3 of us.

Born

Hold It Now

The Now: woke up just in time for a nap

Enter Ripley Ossm Bonner. But enough of this emo crap..

Kiko

Shit, actually it’s kind of hard to get past the emo crap.

Sleeps

And that was March. In April we started doing actual building classes at Crash Space, here’s some nerds showing off their recently completed TV-B-Gones. (mine’s on the table)

TV B Gone builders

On a routine trip to Singapore my flight was diverted to Alaska, one of the last two US states I’d not been to. We were on the ground for 2 hours. I think that counts. And I could see Russia from the plane window.

Moments before emergency landing in Alaska

Once in Singapore I finally found some cool areas.

Haji lane

Er, area. But that trip was short, and before I knew it I was racing to the airport at 5am…

5am Singapore

En route to Tokyo

Tokyo Hackerspace

Where Matt Alt took me around and introduced me to the famous Japanese “Rice Taco” or some shit.

Matt Alt

And Brian took me around and introduced me to the Custom Lowrider Big Scooter scene.

Reflecting

Big Scooters

Clutch

Taxis

Man I love Tokyo.

Then I rushed back to the US, and out to the Desert with Tara and Xeni to take Ripley to his first show:

@xenijardin and @tara rockin to zef beats

Which also happened to be the first US Die Antwoord show.

From behind: @dieantwoord on stage

And then to continue my rock and roll whatever, I ran back to LA to see Murder City Devils play.

Murder City Devils

It was real fun. I danced real hard. Then a guy hit me real hard and I broke a real rib. Really.

Got their dancing shoes on...

But it was still fun.

And then I got more tattoos.

Gorilla Biscuits in yor fukin head...

Because I’m living in my youth or something.

Venice remained good fodder:

Beautiful day at th post office

I wanna be a boat...

And Ripley started smiling, a lot.

The Fam

Maybe because he knew we were about to leave Venice. We ended our lease, put everything in storage and headed out into the world.

This rocks

@tara and Ripley in tha row

We got to Singapore just in time for June, the hottest month of the year. But at least Tara made a new friend.

Tara and her new friend

I worked a lot that month, and Tara hid inside a lot. But we did get out and see some monkeys.

That's the spot

I spent a lot of time at the Hackerspace there, it kind of became my office. And what a view that office had.

Same thing, tilt shifted

I walked around a lot that trip and got a much better feel for the country, at least I think I did.

Temple

By the end of June we were ready to get out. And the flight back to LA worked out much better for us, all family size and whatnot.

On the plane

But we were only in LA long enough to drop off suitcases and grab other, and then we ran off to Europe. France specifically. Vincennes to be exact.

This was the view from the flat we’d call home for the next two months.

Vincennes view panorama

Well, Tara and Ripley would call it home at least. Within hours I was on my way to Dublin.

Jet

For coffee.

Colin brewing

Really good coffee.

Comparing beans

But also to see Glen and the opening of his exhibition. Which I’ve seen plenty of times before, but is always worth seeing.

Floor lit works

Glen signing

Glen on Ha'Penny Bridge

We had dinner and walked around Dublin in the rain, and then a few hours later I was back in Paris.

Sodoku Guy

Vincennes

Where we went on a secret mission to find black market back alley spices

Passage du pondichery pano

Which was exciting, but short lived because before I knew it I was back in the US, in NYC at HOPE talking to nerds about hackerspaces

HOPE badge

View from the panel

But as usual I learned more than I taught. I like it that way.

While in NYC I took some creepy photos of some friends

Stitch Portrait - Luke

Stitch Portrait - Atom

Stitch Portrait - Meeno

Completely unintentionally, all of whom are way better with a camera than me.

But man, NYC was hot. Real hot. I picked the wrong cities to spend the summer in apparently.

No fun

But at the same time, the right cities as I got tipped off to a secret last minute Forgetters show in Brooklyn. It was pouring rain outside, but rocking inside.

Even more Forgetters

Fun fact: That’s not a filter or post processing at all, it’s just how my iPhone scrambled to handle the weird lighting in the club. Wild, man. Wild!

And before I knew it I was back in Paris with the fam.

Attempted camera theft

One day we went to the a park

Paris park

And walked around the city a bit

It's not a car it's a canvas

But the train ride home ended up being a bit more memorable

A moment on the metro

I have a totally different opinion of Paris after living there for a while. I don’t think it’s any less cold and grey, I think I just found the cold and grey parts that I like.

2 dimensional

Love locks, Paris

Bridge walkers

Yet for all it’s “city of love” flag waving, I think it feels like a pretty lonely place.

Seat for one, Paris Metro

Not wanting to waste a European adventure, we headed to the south of France for a week of sightseeing.

View from our lunch spot, Bonnieux, France

This was built almost 2,000 years ago!

St Paul residences

Which changed my opinion of France all over again. I like it when that happens too. Then we went back to Paris to re-soak up some of the things we loved before heading back to North America.

Falafels yonder

Conductor

three

Ripley checks out Chicago

We stopped briefly in Toronto and then made our way back to LA, where things hadn’t slowed without us.

10 years

We subletted a friends place near Larchmont and checked out a new neighborhood

New hood

Well, Tara and Ripley did anyway, because I had to be back in Singapore for an event.

Marina panorama

But a had a few days off, and Joi took me diving. From a boat. Me. On a boat. It was crazy. But I loved it.

Self portrait with Tioman

Joi nightdiving

The Event in Singapore ended up being a little bigger than we expected. But it all worked out.

Strictly for vegetarians

And Singapore was kind of nuts because that was the week of their F1 race

Speedy

Almost accident

Which was loud. So I left and went to Tokyo.

Rainy and overcast in Tokyo

Ebisu  #NCC2010

Have I mentioned that I like Tokyo? I was there for another event, which was fun. Once we took over anyway. 😉

Talking SPARK in girl geeks session #NCC2010

It’s funny, I dreamed of going to Japan for so much of my life, and now I’ve been there maybe 10 times in the last few years and it’s kinda still just as magical and exciting as I’d hoped it would be. I hope that doesn’t change.

yoyogi

Shibuya

I got back to LA to find a little something in my PO Box:

Unexpected awesomeness at the post office! #dieantwoord

Die Antwoord - $O$

Did I forget to mention that? I spent most of the time when I was in Paris designing this album. Which was fun, and something I hadn’t done in a while. And it made me sort of realize how much I missed the creative parts that used to be such a big part of my life. I need to do something about that in 2011.

And holy crap, Ripley is getting huge.

Suspicious, with foot

And acting like a kid twice his age.

Ripley is gonna be walking any day now

And my coffee obsession wasn’t slowing

V60 porn

We made a quick trip to Vancouver so Tara and Ripley could get matching Tiger hats

Tiger head(s)

And when we got back to LA we moved into our new house. One with a yard.

Ripley in our new yard, eating leaves

And I finally got a new computer

First photo of my MacBook Air

And was invited to a super amazing coffee tasting at Intelligentsia

Scent of a... um... Bean?

And whoah, somewhere along the line Crash Space got real

Soldering at @crashspacela

Meeting in London, BRB

Reflecting

I got back to LA just in time for an amazing dinner and coffee paring thingy at Intelligentsia in Pasadena with Tara and 30 of our closest friends – who we just met that night. One of the best meals of my life, and one of the most fun evenings we’d had in a long time.

Course 7

Sparkly

We spent Thanksgiving with more friends, and Xeni tried to turn Ripley in a goddamn hippy.

Xeni teaching Ripley to be a damn hippy

Mark and I couldn’t take it, so we escaped to his bathroom. For espresso.

Mark's Bathroom Espresso

Then I flew to Vienna, where it was snowing. A lot.

Wien Wheels Down

Aftermath

Snow

I was invited to speak at TEDxVienna which was pretty fantastic.

What are they trying to suggest?!

And Crash Space and a robot entry for Roböxotica.

Exciterator installation

Which people seemed to enjoy.

Another satisfied customer

I met some great new people, and came up with some exciting new plans

It starts like this

And then rushed back to LA in time for Rips to get an early xmas gift.

Ripley's first trike ride

Speaking of the kid, his 9 month check up was all aces. And our Pediatrician, Dr Jay Gordon is awesome.

Dr Jay & Rips

And through some weird facebook trickery I got invited to be in an art show. So I drew stuff on post it notes.

All of 'em

Which might like a weird thing to make art on, but that’s what all the cool kids were doing.

GR2 post it show

It’s kind of hard to believe that at this time last year this guy didn’t even exist, and now he’s deciding which is the best Cheerio to eat next.

Serious Business

And then since he was being so cute we decided to scare the shit out of the little guy by handing him off to some creep in a red suit:

Saw this coming...

Which pissed him off royally for 5 or 6 minutes. But then he got to play with some new toys so all was good.

Aftermath

And seeing friends from NYC (one of the few cities he hasn’t been yet) worked too.

Moms + kids

The year came to a close with the final days having some crazy as hell wind here in LA, which resulted in a black out due largely to things like this:

I guess that's why we didn't have any power last night

I didn’t take any photos of the big exciting New Years Eve blow out I went to, mostly because it had a little existence problem. There was a dance party at my house though, but it wrapped up early due to bedtime. Then Tara and I spent the rest of the night doing stuff like this:

And watching movies, which was actually kind of awesome. And now, let’s see what 2011 has to offer…