Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
- I went to Vegas in early October for too long (>24 hours) and got sick. I did get to visit the Ghost Bar, but didn't get sick there.
- Still sick, I went to Tokyo and got stuck in Narita Airport for 40 hours after they cancelled my flight. Yes, there is a DFA letter in mail to United for that one (United believes that $350 travel voucher squares us, me not so much). On the plus side, I did get well acquainted with their awesome beer machines:
- I cooled my heels in Australia for a week. I say cooled my heels because I was in Australia (Brisbane then Sydney) eight days for the total of 2 hours of customer meetings and 6 hours of internal meetings. Basically, one day of work for 6 days of boredom and 36 hours of travel.
- I was home for about a week and was still sick.
- I finished off the month with a quick trip to Bangkok for 48 hours.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
Overall it was a good trip. The only real problems came as I was rushing to the airport to leave: my flight was scheduled to leave just after the Indian cricket team arrived home from winning the World Cup. The resulting traffic jam left me barely minutes to make my flight.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Saturday, September 22, 2007
I was scheduled to fly home on Friday from China, but a business emergency has made me divert to Mumbai, India. Soooo . . . I'll probably have some video from there later this week.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
So look for new updates sometime this weekend when I make it Mumbai, India.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Some setup, since the video audio is somewhat soft:
I went to Tiger Live thinking it was the home of Tiger Beer, one of my favorite beers in the world. Instead it turned to be a cross between a night club (they have several inside) and Disney world. If Walt Disney had taken a lot of acid in the '60s. At one point in the "experience," they actually showed hops "having sex" as a metaphor for fermentation. Unfortunately (or fortunately), they didn't let me take any video inside but I did get some video at the bar (they gave you a few free beers afterward. I think it was a reward for sitting through the "experience").Here's the video:
To add insult to injury, it also turns out that you can actually tour the brewery.
I also captured some video from near my hotel in Clarke Quay.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Friday, August 31, 2007
I'll post my video from Singapore once I get home and I can make some sense out of it.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Behold the awesome McSpicy. Not a ordinary chicken sandwhich, nor wayward Spice girl, this may be the best FFF that I have ever had. Part chili sauce, part pepper and part chickeny goodness, this is a clearly superior local creation. With fries and a drink, it set me back about USD$6. But it was a "whole chicken chop."
I heartily recommend it whenever you are in Singapore. With a diet coke.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
We managed to "visit" Stanleys, RedFish, Portillos, US Beer, Goose Island,Cubby Bear, The Barlycorn and a few others that I don't think I can remember. I think the best part of the whole weekend was finding out how little my old neighborhood had changed over the past few years. Sure there were some new buildings and such, but most of my old haunts survive.
I'm off to Singapore right now. As I type, I am sitting above my gate in Hong Kong International Airport waiting for them to kick me out of the Red Carpet Club. I hope to have some movies to post this weekend, as I have a my Saturday free.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Unfortuantely, I didn't get much of a chance to enjoy the weather. I had to immediately jumped on a plane down to Melbourne for another set of meetings. Up early for breakfast presentation to partners, a quick stop into office where I got to have massive flat white at Metro with colleagues. I've never posted this in my months of work down in Melbourne (which is a curious ommission with my peroccupation with java), but Metro makes two sizes of latte: just right and larger-than-your-head. Young Brett got a larger-than-your-head flat white to cope with the nocturnal adventures of his young son:
I got through my lunch presentation and headed directly back to the airport and Sydney. That night I caught up with Niall for Indian food at Karmas then some drinks. He took me to a new bar in the Rocks -- The Argyle. It was a bit too trendy but pretty nice. Lots of open space and different areas.
And they had Asahi on tap. Thumbs up there.
With that my little trip was done. I caught a 747 back to San Francisco the next morning.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
But enough bitching. I got a pretty nice hotel (Grand Hyatt Erawon) and a day or two of downtime somewhere most people pay good money to vacation in. So what did I do? Drink. Yeah, spent almost my entire Sunday sitting in a beer garden drinking beer and writing (which i am really behind on).
That is not to say that I wasted my entire weekend. I did get a chance to see a few things along the way to the beer gardens. The easiest was right next store to the hotel: The Erawan Shrine. Apparently this was built to appease superstitious locals during the construction of the hotel and has remained for hte past forty years. It's pretty packed twenty hours a day or so. I took this photo around 11 PM on Saturday night.
I'm off to Australia to round out my trip.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
This is a rare moment of zen while I wait for the client to show for coffee in the Hilton Lobby. Past my Adidas is Julan Tun.
Friday, August 03, 2007
While not as scary as Snakes on a Plane, the dogs who live on the roof of my hotel are far more interesting. I have no idea how they get up there, but I do know that they love it. They sit on the edge of the roof and look out at the sea, bark at passing people and generally have a good time. They are just a few of the hoardes of stray dogs that inhabit Mumbai (even more than the number of stray cows). More interestingly, they all seem to be exactly the same mixed breed.
Also interesting in this picture is what you see in the background. The abdonded hotel that you see (SeaRock Hotel) was one of the sites hit during the terrorist bombings in 1993. In a strange coincidence, a Bollywood actor was sentenced to six years in prison for his part in that bombing this week.
Before I left for Kuala Lumpur today, I went out to the old fort next to the hotel.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
I think Louie's may be pissing someone off.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Less good was bitter cold (it dropped to about 40F) and the 8 renditions of the Tigers fight song that we had to endure after the game. Here in the US, we can only hope that it doesn't invade our shores.
And I am happy to report that nothing has changed. Vegemite, still nasty.
This completes my prolonged assignment in Australia. I'm home for a stretch, then off to India, Malaysia and . . . Sydney again.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
Wilson's Promontory is a national park that kinda sticks out in the Bass Strait between mainland Australia and Tasmania. Having been a national park since sometime before the turn of the 20th century, you get to see a wide range of wildlife. Just inside the gates to the Promontory, we happened onto a glen with a wombat, several kangaroos and an emu.
I wanted to get out of the car to get a better picture of the wombat, but the emu was huge, pretty mobile and didn't seem to be in a good mood.
Further into the park, we found a nature center and the only settlement on the pennisula, Tidal River. Not much to see, except that it was absolutely overrun with King Parrots. They were everywhere, even walking up to people for food.
Since we were all the way down there, we decided to hike to the highest point in the park, Mount Oberon, to get a better view. The climb was about 2 miles and 1200', but the views were fantastic.
This is the summit looking west back towards Tidal River.
This one looks south towards the Bass Strait.
All in all, a pretty good trip.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Now usually, I am not a great seatmate. I don't really like sitting next to people and basically just keep to myself. But I got lucky on my trip out and there was no one in the middle seat so I was in a pretty good mood. That is, until I saw my seatmate's reading materials. He had a large, leatherbound with gold gilted pages. I almost panicked thinking he might be ... religious. And talkative. Not wanting to chance it (it is a 14 hour flight), I immediate went into immersion mode by pulling out the laptop and putting on my headphones.
About half way through my fifth or sixth song, I catch a better glimpse of his book. It turns out it isn't a bible, but actually a trade handcover called The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists. So probably not a religious guy after all. Just odd. But I can deal with odd. Hell, I know odd pretty well myself.
Realising that danger is over, I come out of immersion mode and took off my headphones. He asks me about my mac, turns out his MacBook Pro was stolen a few weeks ago (note to self: do not leave lappy in your pickup). He's a bit into computers and we talk about some normal Mac stuff, mostly related to music software. During the course of the conversation, he asks why I'm going to Australia. I give him my sad story and return the question. "Concert," he says. Curious, I ask for details. Turns out he's a sound engineer for Brand New, a punk pop band. A punk pop band I actually know. He's surprised, as am I. Turns out, he tours with a lot of bands from Primus to Lisa Loeb to the White Stripes. It's a pretty damn interesting conversation.
As we part after clearing customs and such, he stops and asks if I want to come to the concert on Friday night. And as you well know, I don't have a lot going on in Melbourne, so I accept. He says if he can swing it, he'll send me an SMS. Cool.
I have to go straight to a customer meeting after I land so I quickly forget about the conversation and go about my work week. However, come Friday afternoon I get a SMS: "I'll put u on the guest list for tonight if ur interesting in coming. Doors open at 9pm." I look up the club that they're playing at and it turns out it is only 5 blocks from my hotel. Certainly worth at least a fly-by.
Around 9 pm, I cruise by the venue. And there is literally a line around the block. Crap, best laid plans and all. Of well, I'll grab some food and if the line peters out I'll go in. I go around the corner and settle into Nandos for dinner. Finishing my Double Classic, I get another SMS: "There's a long line. If u make it here before 10 let me know. I'll meet you outside with a pass.." Damn, this is getting better and better. I finish my sandwich and head over. The line is still huge, but emboldened by my inside contact, I just walk up to the head of the line. "I'm on the list," I tell the bouncer. He looks me over (as I am twenty years older than everyone in line) and tells me to go see the ticket people. I scoot inside to jeers in the crowd. I give my name to the ticket lady and she searches the list. "Sorry, I don't see your tickets," she says. I say that the band left me passes. Apparently, I've said the magic words. "Oh, you're with THE BAND." And she pulls out a different list, with only 3 people on it. And my name is at the top with VIP next to it. Almost giddy, I repeat after her, "Yes, I AM WITH THE BAND." She is now quite apologetic and says that I should go right in. Emboldened by my new found status, and sensing that my American accent might let me pull this off, I start towards the entrance then stop and ask "Oh, will I need a bracelet to get back stage? I've never been here before." At this point, she is almost falling over herself. She says that they don't do bracelets, but she can get someone to take me if I want. This is a little higher risk that I had intended, so I decline and walked in.
It turned out that I made the right choice. The bars were on the opposite side of the venue from the stage, but still had a front and center view of the stage. In fact, we could stand right behind and above the sound boards (where I got a chance to talk with my seatmate). The concert itself was really quite good. I never really followed Brand New before, but they put on a long show (2+ hours) that showcased a lot of different material. You can tell they have changed their sound quite a bit of the years. The crowd was really into the show, I think they sung along word for word for the first hour.
I caught up with my seatmate after the show. He thought it had gone pretty well and was ready to go out for drinks with the band. I was still shaking off my jet lag a bit so I declined to come along. They are off to Sydney then Brisbane to complete the tour.
My camera phone took some pretty crappy pictures but some posted some video to YouTube:
Monday, May 28, 2007
- I awaken after my first night in Tokyo at the obscene hour of 4:30 AM. I had forgotten to close my blinds and by some bizarre custom, the Japanese find it neat to have sunrise before 5 AM. However, as much as the sun in my eyes was annoying, I think it was actually the sounds of dogs barking that woke me up. Although it seemed normal at the time (since I have loud dogs at home), after actually getting up I was somewhat puzzled. Especially since I was 27 stories up in the middle of downtown Tokyo. A quick look out the window solved my mystery:
Yeah, the Japanese have a dog park on the top of a building near mine. Of course.
- It was a beautiful day and we wanted to get out of Tokyo, so I got dressed.
This view is west away from Shibuya.
- We took the train two hours out to see Mount Fuji (Fujiyoshida, Japan). It was incredible. A tour bus drove us around the lakes (there are five lakes around the mountain) and we got some good pictures.
- Stopped by MOS burger. MOS burger is the In-N-Out Burger of Japan. Their teryaki burger is quite good.
- After getting back from Mount Fuji, we got a few drinks up in the bar. This is the same view as earlier.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Finished up my trip to Japan last night with a group meeting in Rappongi. Our Japanese director is a keen 1950's rock and roll fan, so he took us to his favorite theme bar where they played Elvis covers. I wish I had taken some video for YouTube -- there were some priceless moments. Having said that, they did play "Pipeline" by the Ventures, which makes them alright in my book. After the 1950's rock and roll bar, a few us headed up the street to my old haunt, Mistral Blue. Mistral Blue is a converted train car and possibly the smallest bar in the world (I was standing 3 feet inside the doorway when I took this picture). It is a stop on every true rock stars visit to Tokyo -- pictures and autographs from Iron Maiden to Guns N Roses to Fall Out Boy "adorn" the walls. I hadn't been there in 3 years but it hasn't changed at all -- even the same bartender was there.
I am back in the US tomorrow for a well deserved week of R&R.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Sorry for the lack of posts. For some reason, Google thinks I can read Japanese because I am in Tokyo and refuses to display the blogger controls in English. As such, I am posting this from Flickr.
Please enjoy this zen image of Mount Fuji while I sort it out.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
On my walk, I spotted this about three-fourth of the way there. Melbourne has a huge war memorial park and this particular memorial is from the Second Anglo-Boer War (South Africa around 1901). I'm not sure what it is supposed to symbolize but it is quite striking.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Yes, it is just a projection dealie, but I still sat mesmerized for hours. Even through Aussie Rules Football.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
I meant to post this a bit back, but I think I forgot: Most of the original Matrix movie was filmed in downtown Sydney and it turns out that a few of the scenes were actually shot right outside my hotel. Case in point, a guy on the internet has posted recreation photos of a few scenes in the movie. The one on the right is directly outside my hotel's front door. It's weird that I have walked by that (and a few other places) hundreds of times and never noticed it before.
Downtown Sydney was also the set for Mission Impossible 2 and Superman.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Friday, April 20, 2007
Delayed by ten hours. TEN HOURS.
And as you can see below, I didn't get re-routed on United 840 through San Francisco . . . as I am taking a picture of it as it taxis out to takeoff.
So I am holed up in a remote area on Kingford Airport, coding and watching DVDs. And waiting for my 14 hour flight back to Los Angeles...
Friday, April 13, 2007
- I flew back from Melbourne on a long, long flight. I was happy to be back in NorCal.
- I flew to Nashville to meet up with some of my friends and play golf for a vacation. On my flight from Chicago to Nashville, Ashley Judd sat about five seats from me. I was oblivious to who she was until the flight attendant asked for her autograph and she almost bitch-slapped him. Although tired, I made a mental note to "never mess with an grumpy Judd" in the back of my mind.
- I was delayed on every single flight I took for two weeks. Sometimes short delays, sometimes long delays, sometimes even cancelled flights. I cursed "flow control" many times.
- Nashville seems a bit sleepy and backwards but was actually a lot of fun.
- I got some time with my girlfriend and dogs. Shelley is working at home a few days a week now (which confuses the hell out of Louie and Zeke) which makes life a lot easier.
- And I am back in Melbourne. It now feels like I am always in Melbourne. And I now believe that Melbourne might be the most boring place in the world. I am beginning to miss Nashville.
It being Friday and well after 4:00 PM, I am having a glass of the 2005 Mitolo Jester Shiraz. Bold, very full bodied with a bit of spice, The Jester is a Aussie Shiraz drinker's red. It has just come into its own (it was to be aged about 2 years) so we have a good supply and I expect to be drinking a fair bit of it over the coming two weeks.
I am off to New Zealand tomorrow to visit a customer in Auckland, so I should have something to post from there.
Monday, March 19, 2007
- Mountain Goat Hightail Ale: Malty. Rich smooth finish. Low hoppyness. Nice. 85.
- Jamison Mountain Ale: Darker. Even malty-er. nice finish. Higher alcohol -- maybe like a barley wine. Dark wheatbeer. 88.
- James Squire Amber: somewhere in between the others. More hops, less malt.
- Bearings Draft: Lighter, pilsner type. Geelong based. Nice but a little nondescript. 82 at best.
- Holgate White Ale: Belgian. Banana esthers. White. More hoegarden than hoegarden. 86.
- Chieftain Amber: Nice. Malty but complex. Interesting finish. Beer drinkers beer.
- What's Brewing Amber: Nice but not remembersal (?). I might go visit these guys, since they are just down the road from Melbourne in Geelong.
- Holgate Winter Ale: Porter. Unique in Australia. Nice. Not extremely chocolately but very drinkable w/ a smooth after taste.
I think I may have some more beers, but truthfully, I don't think I could remember how to work my Treo after the Winter Ale. I topped the night off with some of my new found mountain bike rider friends at the only pub/restaurant open on the mountain.
Mt Buller has a number of downhill runs, but most of them are pretty advanced. I picked the ABOM run, which was rated intermediate, instead of the International run, which at expert had several jumps and 2 meter drops. This was a wise choice, ABOM was extremely rocky and pretty technical. Unfortunately, half way down I realized that the Aussies reverse their brake levers from Americans (left is back, right is front). Not before going over the handlebars once. But none the worse for wear, I made it down to the village.
After I completed my first run, I decided to hook up with a guide that was leading around another group of riders up from Geelong (near Melbourne). This was cool -- they were worse than I was -- and the guide knew a lot of less downhilly type rides around the mountain and village. This was great since I got to see a lot more of the mountain and get away from the developments. Unfortunately, you still needed to use the chair lift to get back up the mountain (the stinky is a really heavy bike). I believe that I may have used up one of my nine lives here -- I fell off once and felt like I was about to the six other times. This shot is over my shoulder as I went up the lift.
I got in about 7 or 8 runs before calling it a day. All in all, well worth the time and effort.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
Mount Buller seems nice so far, but it being low season (it's just getting into the fall here in Australia), there's no one here. When I went down to the pub/restaurant there were only ten other people there -- the waiter told me that was everyone staying in the hotel. That's a little creepy -- almost like "The Shining."
I'll post more news tomorrow -- I am off to mountain bike and attend the beer festival (you knew there was a hook here didn't you?) tomorrow.