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I’ve recently realized that it’s shocking what a responsible person my high school buddy MC (only part of his name has become) over the last five years. He holds down a good job, owns a house and doesn’t need to attend AA. This would’ve been a hard future to imagine for him ten years ago. I attribute much of his responsibility to his special lady, who he had the good sense to lock down last Friday, making her Mrs. MC Dude and checking off 2 of my 3 steps of growing up. I skipped four classes to hang out on Maui for the wedding. Now I own a winestopper!

Being a small destination wedding, I got to know every attenddee under 40 a little bit. One of the brides college friends (go Vikings!) brought her husband. They live in Alaska and are snowboarding bums. She’s a waitress and he does web design. Web design apparently allows him to choose what days he works and what days. So when the powder comes down he abandons his keyboard for chair lifts. He was also very fond of wasabe.

This got me thinking, as I often do, about how I should be living my life. Grad school is okay, it does give me freedom to do what I want about 1/4 of the year (if not much money to do it with). But I couldn’t help be a bit jealous of this guy who could travel all over the world snowboarding and fill in the free time with some work. As far as I could tell, he isn’t getting rich, at least not monetarily, but isn’t the point of getting rich so you can go on ski trips? I didn’t come to any life altering conclusions, just thinking I’d like to find similar freedom in my post academic life (if that day ever comes).

I’d also like to say if you go to Maui stop by the Maui Brewing Company and order the Coconut Porter, and grab a few growlers of it on the way out. I’m philosophically opposed to beer that tastes like anything other than beer, but coconut gets the WFS Seal of Approval.

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Not too far away from where I live is the Stone Brewery, I’ve been enjoying their beer for years, going back to $5 pitcher night at Anna’s Caddy Shack. Oh, the Caddy Shack, I wish I could say I did something there besides get really drunk, but I’d be lying. I haven’t made it to Stone yet, but I’ve talked about it a lot. I’ve heard good things and hope to make the journey sometime before Christmas.

A thousand miles North of my current location, and very close to Anna’s Caddy Shack is my favorite brew pub in the whole wide world, Boundary Bay Brewery. In between lies Portland, which I’ve heard has the highest concentration of micro-breweries in the country. It seems like the obvious thing to do is road trip the Pacific Coast, trying to hit two micro-brewerys a day.

This idea is in it’s infancy, and my biggest challenge might be finding co-horts to go along with this. But I envision something like leaving San Diego late one week, maybe friday, hitting up two brewerys a day, possibly three when it works out. Planning on rolling into Bellingham the following Saturday to leave Sunday for a recovery. The direction could be flipped. Do some camping if it’s nearby, staying when friends when they can be found and otherwise hoteling it. I think a minimum of 3 people would be needed for this adventure, taking turns at designated driving. More people would mean less driving.

If anyone wants to steal the brilliant plan, I don’t mind provided you let me know how it goes and give credit whenever someone looks at you with awe regarding your awesome vacation. It would be great to get a VW microbus for this, making it a microbrew tour in a microbus.

I often read the San Diego Reader when I eat alone because it’s free and I have an affinity for local weekly publications that I developed while living in places that had decent examples of the genre (I don’t think genre is the word I was looking for but it’ll do). The staff at the Reader occasional write something worthy of a small college newspaper, but usually fall short of that lofty mark. To the best of my knowledge the listing of local music is accurate, so they’ve got that going for them.

Last Thursdays addition had some highpoints, including an ode to my old neighborhood set in the laundrymat across from my apartment. Another article “An Olympic Moment” told the story of Jacob Blumenfeld, a former San Diegan who went to Beijing during the Summer Olympics to bust out a Free Tibet sign. After being arrested, he was asked if he worked for the government and who was in charge of his operation. The Chinese didn’t think a couple of 20-somethings would head off to a far away country to complain about Tibet. If you enjoy shouting “America’s Number One” or something similar, and are worried that China may be a challenger in the Earthly domination category, this observation should be reassuring.

This country is great at blowing stuff up, designing iPod’s (but not so much at making them) and creating overly complicated financial instruments (oops) and a big reason for this is we live in a country were a sixteen year old could come up with an awesome new widget, get some financial backing and sell it to the world. Or fly to China and protest human rights issues. As long as the Chinese are following in line with the Party, they’ll have trouble getting past the design stage. At least that’s what I think.

As for Mr. Blumenfeld, he and his co-conspirators were deported back to the U.S. along with a crate full of Wallmart bound tupperware, and the Chinese government paid for the ticket. So next time you want to go see Asia, buy a one way ticket and pack a free Tibet sign.

So I went to Thailand for my summer vacation, at the time I had better things to do than write little blog posts about how nice it was. But now I’m back in San Diego, which is also nice, but since I spend a lot of time here I will step away from the sun and beaches to tell the internets a little bit about my trip. Here goes.

I rode an elephant, she tried to take my shoe, but failed.

I went on two snorkeling trips. Both were great. One wasn’t really a snorkeling trip, the other one was, I saw a shark on that one, twice. I swim with sharks.

I listened to more techno than I care for. Pat was with me at the start of the trip, he likes techno. He tried to talk me into Ibisa instead, because he wanted to go listen to techno.

The Thai backpackers beverage of choice is mixed in a small bucket that would normally be used for making sandcastles. The ingrediants are ice, one can of coke, about a pint of cheap whiskey or rum, and I bottle of Thai Red Bull, which is very different than Red Bull in not-Thailand. While this beverage is often shared, it often is not. If you don’t share it’ll get you drunk. Drink two and you’ll be really drunk.

Fire dancing is big in Thailand, especially on beaches, they’re pretty good at it. I also saw fire jump roping, as far as I can tell this lead to plenty of burnt farangs. Probably a scheme to make money for local health care proffesionals.

Another scheme to help out the health care industry is to rent scooters to tourists who generally are very bad at riding scooters. Injuries take place.

At some point in the 80’s (I think), some backpackers threw a full moon party. This party has grown. It is now bonkers. And Thai’s now think that farangs (Westerners) want to celebrate every phase of the moon everywhere. From what I saw they might be right. If your skeptical, wait for the next quarter, half or full moon, get really drunk while dancing on a beach and see if you have a good time.

Street vendors in Thailand make better food than the majority of American restaurants. I tried to stay vegetarian to avoid food sickness unless something looked really good or I was dared. Try spicy squid or sticky rice and mango’s. Actually, just try lots of stuff. I never tried the deep fried fish because I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to eat it, wish I had.

I saw two Thai kickboxing matches, one had real Thai kickboxers, but it was staged WWE style, the other was between two tourists who fought dirty and almost lead to a big brawl afterwards. That one was much more entertaining.

I jumped off of a 20 meter cliff. This was part of the snorkeling trip that wasn’t a snorkeling trip. We were told we could jump off 8 or 12 meter cliffs, and the captain of the boat would decide if it was safe for us to jump off an 18 meter cliff. When we reached the cliff, the captain pointed at a rock and said ‘Jump’ (he didn’t speak a lot of English). We climbed up and debated the height, it was decided it was well over 8 meters. After the jump our captain told us it was 20 meters. Oh, and this all took place during a storm.

I got lost in the jungle on an island trying to find a beach. After stumbling on a huge water resevior (very strange experience when walking through the jungle) a Canadien climbed down 10 meters of rocks and announced “It’s totally a trial, well, it’s kind of a trail.” It was not a trail. We eventually found a beach, but not the one we were looking for.

I took a free diving course. Apparently I’m bad at free diving. On the plus side I almost swam into a large jelly fish.

I met a lot of British people. They really like Thailand. They don’t have much Thai food at home, so I think thats why they buy the ticket.

Thai food is pretty damn good.

I hiked to a mountain village were we slept on a bamboo floor and were entertained by Thai’s with an acoustic guitar and plastic bottles (for percussion).

I went white water rafting for the first time. It was pretty cool.

I met a retired English Premeir League Player at a buhdist temple.

I got to hang out in Bangkok with two of my best friends who I don’t get to see enough of these days.

I played jenga with bar girls in what turned out to be the seediest part of Bangkok. One told me that if she won her prize would be me going upstairs with her. She was a nice girl, but I’m really glad she didn’t win.

Multiple Thai bar girls noted that Pat had teeth like a rabbit, which I had never noticed before. They did not seem to think this was mean thing to bring up.

I smoked weed with some locals out of a bamboo bong.

I learned that I can’t paddle a kayak strait.

Beaches in Thailand are very pretty particularly on the West coast (the West coast is always better) but if you enjoy swimming at beaches (who doesn’t?) then they kind of suck.

Railay made me want to be a rock climber. I resisted this urge because I don’t like wearing harnesses.

The only question that you should answer honestly when talking to a Thai taxi driver is ‘Where do you want to go?’

I enjoyed bargaining for everything, but I think the Thai’s usually got the better of me.

Before movies, you get to stand up and watch this movie about the king, which was kind of fun but I’m glad I don’t have to do that everytime I watch a movie.

If you go to Thailand, you’ll probably fly into Bangkok. Immediately fly to either the farthest North or South you want to go. This way you can minimize long bus rides and such as you go from North to South (or vice versa). I talked to a bunch of people about Thailand before I went, and this advice is much better than anything they told me (they usually told me to go to Chang Mai, not bad advice but not incredibly insightful either). The trains are better than the buses.

notthatsunshinecompanyI just packed up my tv to take to storage in the morning, so the Daily Show isn’t an option this evening, and so I blog. The fourth of July weekend turned out to be a little too much fun, and now I’m scrambling to get ready for my trip to Thailand. I’m going to spend tomorrow playing Tetris with my storage unit, that is just a little smaller than I would’ve liked.

I’ve done a little too good a job of procrastinating on my moving/travel preparation. This was exacerbated yesterday when I went down the street for a beer or two at the Sunshine Company. While the ground floor of that place is worthless, the rooftop patio is a great place to enjoy a sunny San Diego Sunday. Happy hour prices lead to way to free spending and drinking, so I didn’t get any preparation done last night. I also needed a couple hours in front of the tv this morning to prepare myself. On top of this my flight home got canceled, and for some reason it took Delta Airlines 24 hours to find me a new one. They are also shaving one day off my vacation. I will be writing a letter.

And from the previously mentioned happy hour I have a question for you, my reader. One of my friends (who doesn’t read this) was telling the rest of us about a girl he had met the previous weekend, he is very excited about her, but hasn’t hung out with her yet because she was very busy this week. He’s old enough that he should know that means she doesn’t want to hang out with him, but I think his personality has lead to less interaction of this sort. If I fill him in, am I helping him move on sooner or just being a dick? It would be so much more fun if I wasn’t doing him a favor.

I haven’t been blogging much lately, I recently freshly reloaded windows on my computer (easier than expected, runs like new) add that keyboard time to 8 hours at the office and I haven’t felt compelled to spend extra time writing about the minutia of my life.

But I’m on the verge of leaving a job. Which takes me back to the good old days. When I started this blog, because I was leaving my job to go travel. This time I’m off to Thailand, but the location doesn’t seem all that important.

With a more or less do-over of the previous enjoyable experience approaching, I’ve realized that I like change. There is some trepidation, maybe something won’t work out (but they usually do), and maybe something really bad could happen (hasn’t yet), but change brings opportunities. I could speculate on how that will turn out, but it isn’t important. I’ve realized that I really enjoy the possibility of what could happen, possiblities that just aren’t there when you go to the same job every day and hang out with the same people every weekend.

I’m not sure if I’ll document the coming events this time around, I like the idea of avoiding the computer for a month or two. I’m not going to make that decision now.

I haven’t been feeling very ‘bloggy’ lately, so these pages have gone without update for the most part. However, it occurred to me that I was not keeping with the spirit of this site by not posting last Friday. I started writing here to chronicle a trip through Costa Rica, the name came about because I had just quit my job with the sole purpose of going on a long vacation. I wanted any co-workers who might have read it to think about how they were choosing to live there lives.

Sadly that vacation eventually came to an end, and I found myself back in a new cube-farm, that was still very much a place designed to entrap suckers (maybe not it’s intent, but it does this none the less). Friday I walked over to the boss and proclaimed “NO MORE!” I informed her that I would no longer do her dirty work, that she could stay in the cube farm but I was going to Thailand. To top it all off I’ve got myself admitted to grad school so I can put off future sucker-e-ness for years.

I came home and didn’t even think to mention it to my loyal reader. So there it is, I have once chosen to walk away from gainful employment. Life is good once more. This July 4 I get to celebrate my own independence along with my right to bear arms should the king of England try and tax me. Take that King of England, and take that Medimpact.

A footnote for any future employers who may come across this: I’m sure working for you will be different, it will be both challenging and rewarding, or else why would I apply? And I’m sure once I find myself working in this challenging, and rewarding environment I will extol the virtues of working in this very blog.

Last Saturday I was mulling over how I could spend the day PRODUCTIVE when a friend called. Bets had been won and a trip to Tijuana was needed to collect winnings, did I want to go along to grab some tacos and beer? My initial thought was, why the hell would I go to Tijuana for tacos and beer? That was quickly replaced by why not? So off we went.

This would be my first trip to TJ since I was a 19 year old college freshman looking for lenient drinking laws, my social protest against the U.S. governments draconian stance on the issue. It would also mark my first visit to the city of the future during daylight hours.

We grabbed the last parking spot in the second lot we went to (TJ was apparently the place to be) and headed for the revolving door that is Mexico’s border police (seriously, it’s a revolving door). My more experienced Tijuana tourist friends lead me down to Revolution Boulevard in search of cerveza and lunch. Along the way, small, cute children tried to extort my hard earned money with over priced gum, juggling, and looks of despair. Your going to have to try harder than that kids!

Eventually we walked into the Hard Rock Cafe. I have no idea why. If we were going to TJ why would we go to a crappy version of a restaurant we could go to in the Gaslamp? One of my amigo’s was disappointed by the lack of crowd inside, decided we would push on. I’m not sure what made him think the place would be busy at 1:00 on a Saturday afternoon, or why he cared. After much debate we ended up on the deck of a second story restaurant that from the looks of it makes most of it’s money as a nightclub. We drank a couple of beers, fell victim to the whistle and tequila guy (one of the few instances in my life when I regret falling victim to peer pressure) and spent quality time questioning the sexuality of amigo #1.

We headed back towards the border, stopped for some tacos (delicious), continued questioning said friends sexuality to the point that he almost hit on a woman who was with her two children, and headed back towards America. We soon learned that the line to return to our homeland stretched as far as the eye could see, or at least around a corner and farther than we could see. After a quick trip into the duty free and walking past a couple hundred dutiful que-ers we were a half hour from home.

All in all, I don’t think I’ll be making many more trips to TJ unless I develop a bit of a gambling habit/problem. But the tacos were delicious. The day did not turn out to be PRODUCTIVE.

Those of you following the WFS story, you know I’m bouncing the working life for grad school in the fall, mostly so I can act superior to people who only have an undergraduate degree. I’ve also been talking a big game about doing some traveling before classes start in the fall. I’m not sure if that part has made it into the blog, but it’s the truth.

And I mention this because the weather has been nice the last few days, not nice like nice weather were you live, nice like San Diego nice. The excess of vitamin D this caused got me thinking. I have to pay rent in my dumpy apartment in July, and if I did leave the country, I’d be out some cold cash for the month. Amidst all this perfect weather, I started thinking it would be a little silly to pay rent for a dumpy apartment a half block from the beach in July and not take advantage of what that offers.

On the other hand, I’d really like to see what real Thai pad thai tastes like. Having to make tough decisions like this make me smile like a nut case. If anyone reads this, advice is welcome.

So my life has pretty much been consumed by the Oregon Trail Facebook app. I hunt buffalo at work, fix broken axles at home, I check for wi-fi hotspots around town on my iPod to try and move just a few miles closer to the dales.

The Facebook incarnation stays pretty close to the game that I assumed we all know and love from grade school. One difference is that when you wagon up to head west, you have to pick who’s going to be in your wagon out of your Facebook app. I didn’t put much thought into who was going to be in my wagon, and I was looking at my trusty companions, and realized that I’ve got two Dutchmen and an Aussie on my wagon. Do they know what the hell the Oregon trail is? I’m sure they didn’t play the original game in the third grade. The Aussie was probably busy chucking boomerangs at kangaroos and God knows what eight year old Dutchmen due.

That got me wondering, if the Oregon Trail isn’t popular in Holland (and it very well may be, but I’m assuming it isn’t), maybe nobody plays it on the East Coast. In Washington, the story of “whitey” settling the land is a big part of the local history, so why have the kids play video games to learn about it? Probably not thought of as being as important, historically, in say, Lexington or New York. They were already there.

So if you 1)Grew up east of the Rockies and 2) grew up in the 80’s or you know someone who fits the bill, I’m very curious to know how prevalent The Oregon Trail was in your elementary education (it made up most of mine).