Posts Categorized: Travel

Welcome to Las Vegas

Leeching off Denny’s Diner WiFi here at Sin City, Viva Las Vegas. Drove out yesterday afternoon with Ateneo friends Joey and Nino, to meet up with other friends watching the Hatton Pacquiao fight. Really curious how that’ll turn out, since I’ve never gone to an event before and I think it should be really fun, and possibly epic. No tickets, but we’re planning on plunking down 50 bones for a closed circuit viewing in a hotel with other random fans. Hopefully it doesn’t turn into a riot!

I left the house with the Vespa this morning, and the gas warning light came on. Based from experience, I can squeeze roughly 30 miles from the onset of the yellow warning light. I usually like getting gas from a specific station by the corner of my house, since putting gas into a 2 gallon tank is a finicky matter – depending on the build of the fuel dispenser, some pumps tend to shutoff the gas too late, resulting in spillage outside of the tank. No bueno! So for the reasons just described, I opt to get gas by my house when I come back home because of its consistency in shutting off at the right moment.

Fast forward to after lunch, when I’m powering down on the 5 superhighway southbound, half a mile from my exit, when the power starts to cut out. Then the power goes out completely. I pull over to the shoulder, and try to start the engine again. Engine turns, but does not start completely. I do this a few more times, hoping that I can squeeze in a little more just enough to reach the freeway exit because standing right next to trucks and SUVs driven by coked up soccer moms pulling at least 70mph is by no means entertaining. AAA says it’ll take 30 minutes for a service call, so I say screw it, and walk the bike 1/2 mile down to the gas station.

So I start noticing that the idiot lights on the console have dimmed, probably indicative of a dying battery. Lo and behold, with a full gas tank, I depress the brake and push the ignition – dead silence. Great, battery is dead.

Vespa and I during happier days.

Phone call to Vespa Sherman Oaks, and I get some instructions from Drew how to do the kick start mechanism. Basically tells me that it’s really a worst case scenario option. Well, the situation is that I have a flight to catch in a few hours for Manila, which doesn’t give me the luxury of having several hours to charge up the battery. Sounds like worst case for me. So I try the kick start a few times, and figure there’s nothing to lose (except if I bust the transmission case which I heard has happened before). Push a little bit on the lever, and kick down to the floor. I can feel the engine turn over the first time, and the second. Push a bit, and kick.

Third try, is the charm. :) I love the Vespa. I really do.

One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed the past 5 years, is my planning timeframe. Instead of embarking on spontaneous trips and shenanigans, I find myself booking weekend and international trips several months in advance. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, just a little age showing through the cracks because everyone else in my peer group needs to plan ahead.

Prehistoric Pets
My dinosaur is bigger than yours.

Hell, before you know it, you won’t even have time to plan for anything anymore.

I was in Guam for a few days with King Benny for work, where he caught a bug and kept me up all night with his coughing. The best part was when he clogged up the toilet and water overflowed all over the bathroom. You should’ve seen housekeeping’s face. And her tone of voice. “Oh. My. God. This is so bad. This. Is. So. Bad.” You can see that she was trying to keep it to herself, but there was no possible way for her to contain her displeasure to mop up the task at hand. Thank goodness it was mostly water. I hope.

So the whole family (sort of) is now in Las Vegas to attend the SEMA convention, which is basically heaven for anyone remotely interested in anything automotive. This is pretty much the most productive year I’ve attended. It used to be a shiny-cars and hot-chicks kind of deal, but I have graduated to actually talking to exhibitors and trying to find software solutions for the Family Empire. My sister and I have also between attending the free seminars that range from inventory management, small business IT, and online marketing presented by leaders of their respective fields. The last seminar we attended was chaired by execs from eBay Motors, Amazon, Google, Activant, etc! This is a pretty damn good deal for the $15 registration fee that we paid!

Rambling mode on. So it’s a cut throat market, and everyone’s out to make a buck. I used to subscribe to the school of modesty, and self-deprecation. “Set expectations low, and perform high.” Never acknowledge your talent, because there seems to be greater satisfaction when it comes unsolicited from a third party. There are, however, some potential drawbacks to this approach if it starts to manifest itself internally. To guise yourself from others through modesty, may be a formidable plan of attack, but be sure to always keep in mind what is real, and believe the truth in what you can do. It’s easy to get swayed into the cop-out that you cannot do something, when all you need to do is to take that first step and make the effort to make it happen. It’s easy to follow the crowd of lemmings and go with the flow. And this fear of ‘failure’ (that can present itself in many forms), marks the difference of those successful, and those who are not. And no matter how intelligent you are, no matter how much you understand it better than the monkey next to you, what stays in your mind as ideas can never be as real as the actions you put to follow the idea through.

There are constant disconnects between what I believe in, and the life I am stuck with. Each day is another opportunity to weed them out. Nothing that a few beers can’t fix. :)

Sunrise at Valley View
Sunrise at Valley View in Yosemite.

A lot of times we attach our personal memories to certain events, that make them more meaningful. Specific smells from a period of our lives, the friends you hung out with when you hear a certain song. But there are times, when you venture out into the world, and realize how tiny you (and your personal life) are while you scrape your jaw off the floor. There is beauty built by our experiences, but then there is beauty built by something, someone, greater than all of us combined can ever be.

And little do we really realize, that we live in it.

Action packed!

I’m typing this from a brand spankin’ new X200 – a sexy beast indeed! I’ll have to readjust to the smallish 12.1″ screen again, but I’m rolling with a full-size keyboard and speedy responses from the black box. Not too bad. Although I miss the rubbery feel of my old X23.

Yay Big Sur!
This is from last week’s Big Sur camping.

Good Morning, Nickel
Nickel in a sleeping bag, hehe.

Finished packing this morning for Yosemite. Weather forecasts light showers all over the weekend, so it may not be picture perfect, but our team of adventurers always finds something to gawk over. Like a rock! Or a shadow!

Congratulations to Marco and Wendy, can’t wait to meet baby Isabella :)

The world is changing as we speak. I am normally optimistic about the way the world turns, but everything that’s been happening the past 24-48 hours with the bank meltdowns and that horrible Palin interview by CBS are starting to bother me. This disaster can be real.

Meanwhile, I’m packing my bags and will hide the remainder of the weekend along the beautiful coast of Big Sur for camping. I hope America is still around when I get back. Suckas!

So we spent the long weekend up along the Sonoma coast. First night was camped out with Kath and Dan at their friend’s pad. The setup was three interconnected trailers along a bluff in the coast. My day was spent polishing off Tecates (my new favorite beer), while the other guys dove for abalone. Lots of cheese and beer, and Kat and I slept on the outdoor deck underneath a canopy of stars and the Milky Way. Great stuff!

I didn’t take pictures until the second night, when Pat Pel Kat and I transferred over to a designated campground with our tents. I setup the camera to take one shot of star trails as they traversed the night sky, framed by the tree canopy up above. I left it outside for probably 3-4 hours, before Kat closed the shutter again. The problem is, that the noise reduction function processes the image after it’s taken, and takes a terribly long time before it writes the final image to the CF card. And of course, it never reached that point. I come in with a full charge, take one massive picture, and the camera dies. I was really disappointed in the morning – that is, until I had my first can of Tecate for the day.

It seems likely that a new camera body is on the horizon within the coming year..

Gave the dog another shower this morning. I tried some Avon stuff that the forums swore by, to get mats and tangles out. I can see how it would work, but I didn’t dilute the solution enough and left the boy a bit too greasy. Had to rinse him out again to get rid of the gunk. I miss his hair :’c

Leaving for SF in a few minutes to catch the SF Outside Lands Festival, then coming back Sunday morning in time to catch Radiohead (again) play at the Bowl. Should be fun times :)

My head is a mess! Only Red Bull is keeping me sane. I can function, but my thoughts are going all over the place. Thinking of everything, but accomplishing nothing! So I’ll leave the hamster wheel in its right place, and taking my bike out again for a breather.

This is best performance I’ve had, in terms of jet lag. I still get bouts of sleepishness at around 4pm, but again, nothing a little silver can of RB can’t fix. It usually takes me a week to recover, with severe relapses within a couple of days into the mix. Meaning falling asleep at 3pm and waking up at midnight. Pwned! Knock on wood.

Greetings from sleepy Manila. I am on the final leg of my 8-flight ordeal in the Pacific (LAX-MNL-GUM-SPN-GUM-MNL-CEB-MNL-LAX), and just got back from a very eventful trip in Cebu. Pictures to come soon!

Sleepy Nickel

Sleepy eyes rest on a tired smile
Trying to get out of the dizzying tumble
of a hamster wheel that answers no questions
Just an endless pitter patter
of stuff to do
Dues to pay
Things to consider
but it’s really up to you,
to decide what to do.

I’m sleepy. Hopping on a plane soon, for a slew of work and other trips. Need to finish packing. I’ll be doing six point-to-point legs on this trip. Sigh.

I’m back in Los Angeles. Flew in last week (Valentine’s Day, nonetheless) at around 7pm, repacked some bags, and drove out to SF with the final destination of Lake Tahoe for President’s Day weekend. Here is the baby boy on ice, photo by Kat:

Someone needs a haircut! Or a ponytail…

I still haven’t been feeling well, cursed with a radioactive spell of coughing and a sore throat the past week. I feel like my throat is harboring a desert with one giant Saguaro cactus that has only one prick, a naughty little prick, that tickles the walls of my throat at his random whim and fancy. And I can imagine the douche having lots of fun at my expense as I succumb into an uncontrollable coughing spat as he once again pokes the insides of my throat. Sorry for the weird graphic.

I took the day off yesterday and spent it wallowing in bed, but decided this morning that a week of feeling like shit is ridiculously long so I decided to test my limits by pushing through with a short notice Big Bear trip with ex-coworker Peterphile. I have an amazing capacity to ditch common sense and choose the path with most resistance just for the fun of being able to do so. And so I did.

I must point out that in the span of 13 weeks since I first attempted to snowboard, I’ve gone 6 times. Which makes an average of almost every other week. Huwaw, Batman! It would be pathetic to discover that I haven’t made any progress after so many trials and bruises on my ass, but in being true to my Leo-esque humble pie, I must admit that the past two sessions were bouyed by the help of better gear – a real snowboarding jacket (women’s size M because I’ll wear anything that fits me properly and I don’t GAS), wrist guards, and Mizuno sponsored knee pads. So while I’m a far ways off in competing for the X-Games, I’ll give my loser self some brownie points for persistence and admitting that I may possibly have an addictive personality.

Best of it all, I got upgraded this morning when the cashier asked how old I was. My obvious reply: “Really young.” And so she rang me up as a “Youth Ticket” for a discounted price, which is less than half of what Peterphile paid for his lift ticket and rental gear. Poor schmuck.

Everyone always said that it’s good to look young, and I always thought it would only count when we’re all pushing our 40’s. Well, apparently I don’t have to wait to start reaping the benefits, hehehe.