Thursday, August 06, 2009

SF Free Movies

I see a ton of free movies. Some of them are great (Dark Knight) others suck (Ghost of Girlfriends Past). Even with the bad movies you can't beat the price -- Free!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The new apartment

Here is the inside of our new apartment. We've got some work to get it ready for visitors (and for living).

I saw an NBC11 news van outside our place yesterday. We'll share that story later!

Jahvid the Jet: Wallpaper

This is a great wallpaper I found today. This is getting me pumped for football season. You can download it here

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This blog has not been abandoned

A lot has been made about 95% of blogs have been abandoned and have not been updated in the last 90 days. I've got some fun stuff that will be posted in June. You'll want to stay tuned.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Post graduation reading list

Graduation is in 7 days!

Once I finish school I'll have lots of free time to read the big pile of books that I've collected in the last 3 years. Here's a short list of books to get me started:

The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly
What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful
The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy
Now I Can Die in Peace: How The Sports Guy Found Salvation Thanks to the World Champion (Twice!) Red Sox
Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top
Heavy Hitter Selling: How Successful Salespeople Use Language and Intuition to Persuade Customers to Buy

Got a recommendation? Send it over!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Stars out at Haas Pavilion

The Cal Basketball season finale versus UCLA was bound to have a huge crowd because of ESPN's national coverage and the assignment of the College Gameday show at Haas Pavilion. Among the folks that we saw...

Gameday Staff:
Rece Davis - the host genuinely enjoyed the Haas crowd and was seen mingling with students after Gameday
Bobby Knight - 'the General' wore red (he loves to play the villian) and was "play-choking" one of his friends at halftime of the game (video to come)
Jay Bilas - the Dukie was very professional and gave high fives to the audience as he walked through the crowd
Digger Phelps - brought the house down during a commercial break when he danced with a pair of blonde Cal Dance team members. It must be nice to be the zany guy on the Gameday crew.
Hubert Davis - I wish he would show some of our players how to play in his smooth, in-control manner.
Erin Andrews - She spent most of the evening far from the student section but looked very cute in a dark suit. She gave the occassional wave to the fans.

Former Bears:
Anwar McQueen - he's been at several games this season and I hope he continues to be a fixture.
Kevin Johnson - the Mayor of Sacramento was courtside in a smart brown blazer. He was definitely into his date, Washington D.C. school superintendent Michelle Rhee. They exchanged a couple of (edited) of kisses and he was definitely sharing his basketball insights with her during the game. I'm glad that he's "dating" someone his own age.

Tracy Murray - this former UCLA sharpshooter was probably doing color for the UCLA radio broadcast. He looked like he could still drop 50 points on the Warriors. I think he made good investments, his suit and shoe game was still tight.
Jamaal Wilkes - the father of Jordan Wilkes (and UCLA alum) has been a mainstay of Cal Basketball games. Here's hoping we see him at Haas even after Jordan's graduation.
Here is some video from the game.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Photos from South America

We've finally gone through and prepared our photo collection from our South American trip. You can see them here!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Back to "Civilization": Buenos Aires, Argentina

Another guest post by Marisa...

As our taxi pulled onto the autopista from Ezeiza International Airport, Gil turned to me and said, "It's been awhile since I've seen a four lane freeway."

After a few hoops thrown our way by Aerolineas Argentinas, we made it into Buenos Aires on Tuesday night and to the northwestern district of Belgrano, where we're "renting" a sixth floor studio apartment that's three blocks away from the Subte for $50/night. Buenos Aires is a shock after traveling through Patagonia... three million people, 48 districts in the Capital Federal, and a solid forty page section in Lonely Planet. I even experienced a bit of claustrophobia being caught in the noontime crush in MicroCenter this afternoon, trying to window shop while walking down the pedestrian Calle Florida.

Gil and I had a late croissant-and-dulce de leche breakfast this morning, bought our $90 bus tickets to Santiago for this Sunday, and spent the rest of the day walking through downtown Buenos Aires. We saw the Casa Rosada, the center of executive power in Argentina, famous for Evita Peròn's balcony appearances (as seen in Madonna's "Evita"!), we took photos in front of the Obelisk on Avenida 9 de Julio, and we contemplated buying gloves out of capybara and otter at Casa Lopez (oh yes, they felt nice.) All in all, we're glad that we're rounding out our trip in Buenos Aires, where we can eat and shop and sleep in to our hearts' content for the next four days.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It's the End of the World As We Know It: Ushuaia, Argentina

Bundled against the morning chill in Punta Arenas, Chile

We crossed from Chilean Patagonia into Argentinian Patagonia yesterday, making it all the way to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the Americas. The bus trip from Punta Arenas, Chile to Ushuaia, Argentina, is eleven hours long, but of that, only eight hours is on the road, since so much time is spent at the border crossing and on the ferry crossing the Strait of Magellan. (And, to our delight, a pod of Commerson's dolphins crossed with us!) Once our bus crossed the Strait, it drove down the entire length of Tierra del Fuego. What surprised me is the strength of the historic sheep farming industry on Tierra del Fuego -- after hours of sheep, Gil noted that Argentine sheep are much better groomed and shorn than Chilean sheep.

We've spent Sunday relaxing in Ushuaia, enjoying the admittedly better Italian food (yeah, Argentina has its advantages over Chile) and making plans for Monday and Tuesday. We even got an "End of the World" stamp in our passports, and we'll be sending out postcards to those who have requested them. Ushuaia's a surprisingly developed city, with lots of tourist offices, retail stores, and chocolate shops :)

'Til Buenos Aires, chau!

The Slash and a Half Trek: Torres del Paine National Park

Post by Marisa from an internet cafe in Ushuaia, while Gilbert watched Cal basketball clips. ("Honey, they led for fifty seconds in their triple overtime win!")

Torres del Paine National Park, the crown jewel of Patagonia (yeah, I quoted liberally from the guidebook, but it’s an apt description), sits six hours north of Punta Arenas. It’s absolutely stunning: jagged snow-capped mountains, aquamarine lakes, rivers you can drink from, glaciers, and green valleys filled with wild guanacos.

I planned our trip through Torres del Paine National Park with the theme “maximum results, minimal effort” – which isn’t to say that we didn’t put in a good bit of effort. However, since everyone comes to the park to see the mountains, even the most intrepid hiker can be stymied by the weather. Before we arrived, we’d heard that views of the famed Torres (Towers) had been blocked by twelve straight days of clouds. We, however, got off the bus and saw this:

Gil’s reaction was something along the lines of – oh, that was easy! But really, we were blessed to have clear, dry weather up until our last morning in the park. I couldn’t have asked for better weather on our trip, and nearly as our return bus pulled in to pick us up, the clouds were descending on the mountains again.

Due to time constraints (and the need for a little bit of comfort), we decided not to hike the entirety of the popular “W” route and we didn’t camp. Instead, we backpacked with our gear and stayed at two of the in-park refugios: Refugio Grey, at the base of a glacier on the west leg of the “W”, and Refugio Chileno, en route to the Torres viewing area.

We arrived in the park from Puerto Natales on Wednesday morning, caught a catamaran across Lake Pehoe, and had lunch at the Mountain Lodge Paine Grande. After stuffing ourselves with mashed potatoes and meat, we set out on our 11 km hike to Glacier Grey, on the far west end of the “W”. The views were spectacular en route to the glacier, as the trail sidled up against Lake Grey, finally arriving at the refugio near the glacier lookout. This hike – and the the following morning’s return – was our “slash” of the “W” hike.

We spent the night at the Refugio in sleeping bags on bunk beds, and set out early the next morning to catch the catamaran back across the lake. Again, gorgeous weather (see the first photo on this blog post, which I took that afternoon) means happy travelers. The weather got a little too hot on the hike up to the next refugio – which had a 500 M change in elevation over an hour - but we took our time getting there and enjoyed the views of the valley below.

Unfortunately, our luck gave out the next morning when the clouds didn’t clear in time for the sunrise hike up to the Torres. Gil was likely secretly happy for this turn in luck, since it meant skipping the nearly vertical hike up to the Torres viewpoint. It also reduced our second “slash” to a “half slash”... so while others may brag about having hiked the entire “W”, we are content with achieving our “slash and a half.” TdP is a park that merits visiting again and again, so hopefully we will be able to come back and complete the “W” someday.

The Suits: Punta Arenas, Chile

Post by Marisa from an internet cafe in Ushuaia, while Gilbert consulted his credit card company about foreign transaction fees.

Coyhaique, Chile apparently isn’t on everyone’s destination list, so Sky Airlines cancelled our outbound flight on Tuesday and instead booked us flying into Punta Arenas a day early. This robbed us of one more day with Marìa Inès and Joksan, and meant that we were going to have to pay for a hotel in Punta Arenas.

The fantastic thing about lodging complaints in South America, though, is that the corporate suits do something about it – we ended up spending a night at the posh Hotel Cabo de Hornos in the plaza of Punta Arenas. A free drink apiece in the sushi bar, complimentary bottled water and fruit, and unlimited internet and printing in the business center? We reveled in these creature comforts before our trek to Torres del Paine.

We also took advantage of the free time to visit Seno Otway, a penguin colony an hour north of Punta Arenas. The colony is inhabited by 10,000 Magellanic penguins, who use the beaches and dunes as their breeding grounds in the spring and summer. While we missed seeing the bulk of the colony (they were out to lunch) we couldn’t enough of the penguins that had stuck around to tend to their young. Penguins are every bit as hilariously adorable and personable in the wild as they are on television.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Update: NYE and Coyhaique

Guest blog entry written by Marisa...

You'd think that one million people, twenty minutes of fireworks, and truckloads of cheap beer and pisco would be a bad combination, but New Year's Eve in Valparaíso was stunning and surprisingly calm. We watched the fireworks from the terrace of Casa Carrasco, a residencial on Cerro Concepción (photos forthcoming!), and then joined the throngs in search of live music at 3 AM. We didn't have much luck, but we were amazed at how many people there were in the plazas - a human sea of revelers, drinking and wishing each other a Feliz Año Nuevo.
Just as amazing was the clean up on New Year's Day. We ventured back to Plaza Sotomayor about 7 hours after we left, and it was as if nothing had ever happened, save for some stray confetti in the gutters. Of course, this speaks to the hard work of Valpo's cleaning crew (photos forthcoming!)
New Year's Day was spent doing laundry, packing, and resting in Santiago, so we were ready to head out the door at 7 AM on Friday. We flew Sky, Chile's only national airline, to Balmaceda Airport, which serves northern Patagonia. From there it was about an hour's drive to Coyhaique, where my host sister and her husband have chosen to start their newlywed life. The landscapes are unbelievable here - snowcapped mountains, sheep and cows crossing the road, crystal clear rivers, and lush green valleys. The four of us hiked through Reserva Nacional Coyhaique yesterday and walked around Laguna Verde. We fittingly rewarded ourselves with a Patagonian parilla (dinner of meats!) afterwards.
Cerro Mackay (Mackay "Hill") and Río Simpson (Simpson River) from Coyhaique

Carretera Austral, outside of Coyhaique

I've put more photos on my Coyhaique Flickr set.
There's not much to do in Coyhaique on Sundays, so we'll go with María Inés and Joksan to church and then hang out around the house -- tomorrow is our flight to Punta Arenas!