When I was 12, I flew from Newark to Berlin all alone for the first time. Donning a bright yellow UM sticker, short for “Unaccompanied Minor”, I had a blast being waited on hand and foot at the airport. I flew through security, pretty much entirely skipped customs, didn’t have to wait for baggage claim, and when I arrived got to hang out at a play room the airport specifically had arranged for kids (!).

About an hour ago I touched down at Gatwick. Fortunately, this trip was similarly awesome. Here’s why:

Leg Room – Always choose the exit row seat (duh). I’m tall. This is absolutely crucial for the transatlantic jetsetting.
“Chicken or beef?!” – Within 72 hours of the flight departure time call up the airline and ask for a seafood (or alternative) meal. These meals are invariably superior to the standard fare…and you get served first. I got a truly delectable pasta shrimp saucy sort of thing. Still nuked, but damn tasty all things considered.
Faking First Class – If you ever find someone with a “Priority Baggage” tag ask them for their extra. Or just use Photoshop. This means your baggage will get through first.

It’s finished!

So for the past couple of days I’ve been working really hard with Brett, Kevin, and Drew on making our final “409 Web Design & Implementation” team project a reality, and by gum, now that it’s done I think we really kicked some serious ass.

I coded up an initial mockup in CSS, and from that we set up phpBB integration, Coppermine integration, and really cool Movable Type integration – keeping our site styles are persistent across every single page. Hooray!

Check it out.

P.S. Wonder if it looks right on IE? Every page validates…and looks great on our reference platform of Firefox.

Shifting gears

It’s been an interesting readjustment to modern life since living for so long on the Colorado river. It was a great trip, complete with steak dinners, daily morning douses of the Colorado, and the call of the Groover (don’t ask). Coming back to the ‘real world’ feels unusual since I haven’t been on any trip where society is so disconnected. You literally see nothing but the others on the trip and the occasional raft trip on your journey. Every campsite is just as if you were the first there – no litter or obviously human marks. The string quartet was wonderful, playing in the plentiful natural amphitheaters the side canyon walls create, and hikes were just right. Deer Creek was beautiful as always, and the stars! Honestly, light pollution really hides a lot of sheer and sudden beauty right above our heads. I can’t recommend just looking up enough, its truly amazing.

It actually turned out First Lady Laura Bush had decided to go on the same raft trip at the same time, launching a commercial/private trip with ~15 friends and daughter Jenna about an hour before we left. Our boats caught up with her trip a few times but of course weren’t allowed to even breathe at her. Perhaps understandable, considering our guide’s boats had bumper stickers pronouncing ‘Anyone but Bush.’ Our string quartet did get to play for her, lucky coincidence.

Anyway I’ve put up a Gallery install here for trip members to upload their pictures. Dad and I took 1.032 GB pictures/video with our memory cards combined, and they are all being filtered, organized, and ogled appropiately. They should be up Real Soon Now.

Update 12/2009: when I moved to alternative hosting a while back this Gallery install didn’t make the trip. The photos are still around though, just no longer online. If you’d like me to put them back up please contact me.

Bats and camping and flashlights

I said a while ago that the car was really, really full on the ride back from RIT. You can even see that MIDI keyboard stuffed on top of the back seats.
stuffed car

Tomorrow I’m leaving for the Grand Canyon with my dad for two weeks. I’m rafting down the whole thing with the same company as last time, all 270-odd miles. The trip takes just over two weeks from start to finish, and, like any good outdoors trip, has absolutely no contact with human civilization outside of the canyon. The guides have an emergency radio to communicate with overhead 747s flying by, but if there isn’t a plane you’re out of luck. Guests usually don’t sleep in tents either, opting instead to just sleep on top of their sleeping bags.

Last time highlights included being stung by a scorpion at midnight, deftly avoiding sharp rocks and hazards such as poisonous rattlesnakes (by 3 feet) while barefooting it in Tevas, and of course, the same clothes for two weeks.

Its damn cool.

The guides cook and set up camp every day for you, and real meals are possible thanks to the Colorado cooling the coolers all day. You get to hike up these incredible side canyons with warm water pools full of rare frogs and small creatures. No mosquitoes at night…instead you get lots of these tiny bats that fly right above your head come nightfall, echolocating the insects away for you. I brought a book, but you always have things to do, from poetry to games to simply hiking around or paddling in kayaks.

This time the trip is even better because instead of your average guide leading the ~16 people downriver, you have 4 string quartet players as well. Seriously.

So yeah, thats where I’m going to be for the next two weeks. It’s a really cool trip, definitely in my top three.

Look for lots of pictures when I get back.

The Gates

today on my moms recommendation i went to see ‘the gates‘, over in central park. if you don’t already know, these two artists christo and jeanne-claud, famous for similar previous work including wrapping the reichstag in ’95, decided to install 7500 bright orange flag-holding gates on the pathways of central park. see the pics in the link.

weird you say? no kidding. it gets better: they dont accept any donations at all to foot the $21 million bill, and the whole thing was up for only 16 days (today was the last). deliberately designing a huge but fleeting project like this wowed me more than the actual implementation…all said this was definitely highly interesting to walk through and learn about. its amazing what artists can do with the right resources.

the walk back downtown to penn station was great, nyc always feels so stuffed to the brim with culture from all walks of life. i heart being lucky enough to live close to nyc. pictures will be posted once i install drivers for my new digicam.