In Austin for SXSW

March 8, 2007

I’m flying out to Austin tomorrow for SXSW. It’s not my first time in Austin, but it’ll be my first time at SXSW. If you’re there too, drop me a line and we’ll meet up at a panel or something. Also, check out the cool new business cards we got printed up:

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Find me if you want one 🙂

You’ll notice on the back that I’ve got a cool MyPlaxo page at http://markjen.myplaxo.com. Soon, all Plaxo members will be able to get one (and it’ll always have your latest info). Basically, the first step in replacing the traditional business card which gets outdated all the time anyways. Hey! That’s what Plaxo was created for 😉

Tahoe and Revenge?

February 27, 2007

This past weekend Rose and I went up to Tahoe with our grx small group, Immersion. The trip was mostly uneventful except for two things: a clever plot on Saturday night that demanded payback and the weather Sunday morning on our way back to the Bay Area.

First, the weather.

I checked the weather report for this weekend on Friday before we left and it said that there would be a little snow Saturday night through Sunday morning. Sounded perfect, snow overnight and fresh powder during the day. Turns out that instead of a few inches of fresh, we got dumped on! Here are a few shots Rose took from the car while we were driving Sunday morning.

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So turns out that we got outta there just in time. After we got past the summit on 50 eastbound, they closed the freeway for avalanche control. We decided to hightail it outta there and it took us about 8 hours to get home. Today, we heard that it took some people 12 hours to get back yesterday, so it looks like we were actually lucky 🙂

Ok, now for the more interesting part: revenge?

On our first night up at Tahoe, Friday, we had two rooms. One for guys and one for the ladies. Since we had 6 guys, the guys room was larger – a two story unit with a bed on the top floor and a couch on the first floor. Huy, Eddie and I slept on the first floor and Alan, Jimmy, and Hugh slept on the top floor. The next morning, Alan and Jimmy complained of not getting a good night’s sleep, but didn’t really say why. We figured it was an uncomfortable mattress or something.

Then on Saturday night, Alan, Jimmy, and Hugh tried to drive home after the day up at Kirkwood. By the time they started to head out, the storm was already coming in, so they turned back around and stayed another night at Tahoe. At this point, we only had one hotel room (we checked out of the other room) and I figured we could probably all jam up in there for a night. However, Jimmy and Alan insisted on getting another hotel room. We figured they just didn’t want to cram 9 people in a standard small hotel room.

They found a room at a motel down the street and got ready to move over there. Now comes the clever part, they left Hugh behind in our room, and said they’d come pick him up in the morning. Odd, we thought, but whatever.

As most people can probably guess by now, Hugh is an awfully suspicious character in the story. Turns out, Hugh has a serious case of sleep apnea, and it was exceptionally loud. He was choking and coughing all night, basically preventing everyone but me from sleeping (I’m always passed out cold). Rose is a very light sleeper so she ended up getting basically no sleep all night! 😦

Well, needless to say, this was a deliberate act of war. So that night after we got back, after Alan had gone to bed, we took my old foam mattress and did this:

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Then we added these:

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And lastly, here’s the scene this morning:

Bwahahaha! Watch out Jimmy, you’re next! 😀

Rose moved from Seattle down here to the Bay Area last weekend and I flew up to drive down with her. We rented a 16′ Penske truck and a tow dolly to move her stuff and her car. (A tow dolly is a half trailer type thing that hangs off the back of the truck which you put a car’s front wheels onto and it allows you to tow the car behind the truck.)

So we loaded up Rose’s stuff and attached her car to the back of the truck and started off to California last, last Friday (9/22). We were a bit weary of the tow dolly at first (we kept wondering if the car was still back there), but it seemed to be OK after the first few stops so we stopped worrying about it…

10 hours into the drive, Rose is driving the truck through Northern California and I’m asleep in the passenger seat when all of a sudden she wakes me up. “Mark! People keep driving by, flashing their lights, honking their horns, and pointing at the truck!”

We look back there and there’s flames and sparks shooting out the back of the truck. Uh oh. We pull over and find this:

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Niiice. What you’re looking at is what was left of the tow dolly tire. It must’ve blown on the freeway, at which point with the weight of Rose’s car pushing down on it, it burst into flames and was literally shredded. Fortunately, Rose’s car was still attached to the tow dolly (although barely) and there was no noticeable damage to her car.

Worst part of the ordeal was that it took over 2 hours for Penske to send a repair guy to replace the tire. Argh >:O

Anyways, I didn’t really know that’s what a tire looked like on the inside. Here’s a closeup of the insides:

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Best part: I ask the tire repair guy how this could’ve happened. He shrugs and says “you never know with these trailer tires. They just blow like this all the time.”

More singapore…

August 30, 2006

Well, I didn’t get to finish blogging about Singapore last night, so on to Day 2 in Singapore!

We woke up and went to Chinatown to walk around and pick up some food. We followed another great walking tour and saw a ton of sights including a street market, a temple, a mosque, and of course, a food court!

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If you’re ever in Singapore Chinatown, I definitely recommend you check out the Maxwell food centre, and in particular, try the $2 Laksa and $4 sliced fish bee hoon (a fish noodle soup).

After filling up our stomaches, we went to Bugis street, which is another large shopping area. There’s a nice air conditioned mall called Bugis junction and there’s also a flea market style area with lots of little shops and a ton of local flair.

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Also in the Bugis area is the Singapore National Library, which as it turns out is much cooler than it sounds. It’s got some pretty cool architecture, great views from the top floors, and even an outdoor courtyard area for people taking a study break.

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After the library, we headed to Esplanade, a crazy double durian shaped structure that houses Singapore’s concert hall and theatre.

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Inside Esplanade they’ve got some art pieces on display, a few restaurants, and a rooftop deck! If you’re in the area in the afternoon, the Japanese restaurant has a great happy hour deal (a bowl of udon noodles, a hand roll, and tea for $5 SGD… very tasty 🙂 ).

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Lastly, we saw the Merlion on the waterfront downtown… which is where I had my accident. But once again, it’s getting late so I’ll save that story for tomorrow 😀

Stop #2: Singapore

August 29, 2006

We spent 5 days in Thailand, which was just about enough to relax a little at the resort and get a good feel for Bangkok. Our next stop would be Singapore, where we would have 2 days and 2 nights; we could probably have used another day here in Singapore – we had an action packed time running around in taxis, the MRT, and buses.

Right after we got to Singapore and checked into our hotel, we rode the MRT to Little India. It was our first stop in Singapore and so we quickly introduced ourselves to the s’porean food court system 😀

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Next, we went on a walking tour through Little India – the guide brochure was provided for free by the Singaporean government 🙂

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To finish the night, we walked around Orchard Rd – where our hotel was at. A pretty lively shopping area, even at night. There were street side vendors and the malls were open pretty late. Our first stop was to eat at Food Republic, a food court inside the Wisma Atria mall.

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Then we did a little window shopping…

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Finally, we got back to our hotel and saw this hilarious sign:

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Like I said, action packed 🙂 Check out the rest of the pictures from our first day in Singapore on my Flickr. I’ll be back tomorrow to blog on the rest of our Singapore stay; in the meantime, it’s bedtime over here in Hong Kong 😉

For those who have been watching my Flickr stream, you’ve probably noticed that there’s been a huge influx of pictures in the past few days and that it’s been of very international locations. That’s becuase I’ve been on vacation for the past week and a half in Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong. I rarely go on vacation, but Rose’s cousin was getting married in Thailand so we decided to take an extended Southeast Asia trip and spend a little time away from the daily grind.

I haven’t had very good internet access until I got to Hong Kong, so I wasn’t able to upload any pictures or do any blogging – I was barely able to catch up on e-mail :O But now that I’ve got a good broadband connection again, I should be able to do some catch up posts on the trip so far.

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Our first stop was Thailand for the wedding. It was held at a nice all-inclusive resort called Evason Resort and Spa in Hua Hin. If don’t mind all the traveling (flight to Thailand and then a 3 hour bus ride), it’s quite a nice place to relax. It’s right by the beach, has good food, great weather, a nice swimming pool (can’t swim in the ocean because of jellyfish) and you can get a 90 minute Thai massage right next door for $300 Baht (approximately $9 USD).

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After the wedding, we rode a van back to Bangkok and spent a few days there seeing the sights and doing a lot of shopping. The best part is the super cheap food from roadside vendors. You can get a fresh fruit drink for $10 Baht (about $0.25) and tasty meat on a stick for $5 Baht (maybe $0.15) 😀 An hour Taxi ride is about $100 Baht (less than $3 USD) and a super tasty bowl of local noodles cost $15 Baht (less than $0.50)!

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Going to Thailand first definitely spoiled us a little bit price-wise. For the next two stops we were continuously comparing against Thailand prices and complaining about how expensive everything was.

That’ll be all for tonight. Enjoy the pictures and I’ll be posting again tomorrow about Singapore!

See? I can keep a lid on unreleased news 😉

Last month after our acquisition had closed, but before our public announcement today, I headed up to Troy, NY to welcome the HipCal folks and get them setup and kicked off. As part of the visit, I decided to forgo the hotel and instead, opt to stay at their frat house (they assured me that this was necessary in order to get the full “HipCal experience”… I’m still not exactly sure what that meant :O )

So I flew in and Garret and Pete picked me up at the airport. When I arrived at their house, I had this great banner welcoming me:

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Not exactly sure where they got it from, but it was pretty funny 🙂

So they took me on a tour of their frat house and their “office” (which was really just a room they retrofitted as an office space). Since RPI is an engineering focused school, they’ve got a few mechanical engineers in the house and they built a lot of furniture themselves. For example, here’s a ping pong table they built – and it even folds up.

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Here’s a shelving system they built to house a bunch of TVs for their video game room. On one side is 6 TVs while on the other side is stadium seating for at least 8.

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They’ve also got a commercially outfitted kitchen, where the guys in the house take turns making meals Sunday – Thursday.

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In college I had been a visitor to frat houses, but I’d never really been given a grand tour. I wonder if most frats are as geeked out as this place… hmmmm, maybe the HipCal guys will help us build some cool furniture here at Plaxo!

I’ve held off on uploading my pictures until today as well (so as to not give off any hints on our acquisition); check out my Flickr set for more pictures 🙂