Saturday, September 12, 2009, 10:47 - GeneralYesterday Arthur, Sal, and I were planning on going to look at a practice space at Halsey, but Sal called me up around 2 and said he both didn't really like the idea of such a long commute and that he'd talked with the guy at his storage place about renting a 10x10 storage room in which to practice for $200 a month which is about a 20 minute walk south of my place. It's a month to month lease and we only pay like $28 for September so we figured why not try it for now. There's supposedly a place nearly finished (move-in in November) at N 14th where we can get a private 9x10 soundproofed 24-hour access room for $375 so we're hoping we can jump on that later. The only main problem with the storage room is that it closes at 6 on weekdays and 3 on weekends, so we'll have to practice in the mornings for the most part.
One Sal and I set it up and moved the gear in there, we drove over to Home Depot cuz there isn't an outlet near the storage room. The guy told us we could wire one up ourselves as there are electric boxes all around for powering the lights so we just needed to get supplies (Sal was in charge of wiring as I've never done any before). The Home Depot experience brought back bad memories of building (but also good ones too) and we went back and he spliced the outlet on. The box was quite full of wires and while he was jamming everything in there something shorted and sparks flew and the hall's lights went out. It was really funny and would have looked quite sketchy to anyone walking by - two dudes with tools splicing wires in the dark. We just finished cramming it in, screwed it shut, and went and asked the guy at the front desk where the circuit breaker was. He was quite nonchalant about it and told us it was on the floor below ours so we went there and ran all over the place in these little warehouse hallways looking for it for maybe 5 mins before we found it. We tripped it, went back, and the lights were on so we were good to go. We moved his drums into the room and checked the outlet with an electric razor (it worked - as demonstrated by Sal using it somewhere I'll not mention) and then we had to roll cuz the place was closing even though we really wanted to check it out and jam. He dropped me off at home and I killed time until Lewis came over in the evening and we had some beers and watched Breaking The Waves (I'd still not seen the end). It was very sad, but I still say Dancer in the Dark was way more intense. I was too exhausted to go out with him and Brandy when he left at 12:30, so I passed out.
This morning I woke up at 7 - still haven't reset the bioclock apparently. Off to brunch with Dafna (who now lives like 2 blocks away) in a bit. I also tried to remove the window air conditioner from my window which my sublettor had left and of course it felt 6 stories to its death. Luckily only it and no people died. Man I'm sure smart sometimes...
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Friday, September 11, 2009, 11:16 - GeneralMy week in Israel was great. I feel totally at home there now and know the city quite well, so I don't feel much need to travel around or whatever any more and we just stayed in Tel Aviv the whole time. I landed at midnight, Galia picked me up, and we had a couple drinks at the Peacock after that. Throughout the week I hung out with her and Shlomit and Nirski at the Silon, went to Shlomit's goodbye party in Jaffa (she's spending the semester in Toronto), had dinner with Galia's parents at a restaurant on the port, went to a concert by some 2-piece Israeli band of an attractive girl on a Gibson and a bald dude on drums (pretty straight up, but a cool venue), etc. It was great and hot and too short, but Galia will be here in like 2.5 weeks.
I got back into New York on Tuesday night, touching down at JFK around 6:30pm and making it back to my apartment at a bit before 9. I made a rather absurd error (fadicha in Hebrew) when in my happiness to finally see my bags on the carousel I forgot my laptop bag on the ground and made my way through customs and out into the hall. Luckily I remembered it, and asked a very nice staff woman to go back in and get it for me which she did. In the end all it cost me was like 5 minutes, but it could have been far worse. Can welcomed me home and we talked a bit before I passed out around 11, having been awake and traveling for around 25 hours straight.
Wednesday I got up at 8, so I'm pretty much back on normal hours even though I'm pretty sleepy during the days. I went into Manhattan with Arthur so we could attend Dennis's research lunch and then swung by the bank to deposit my 1030 CHF into my account (they gave me a 0.9 exchange rate... man), got a brownie at Think, hung in my office for a while, and then went to Dennis's class for which I probably will be the TA this semester. From there I went home, played guitar on my amp for the first time (which was great), and then walked over to Lewis's to get schooled in Puerto Rico by both him and Brandy. I was really tired but forced myself to do it anyway.
The next day I got up at 10:30 which was welcome, Skyped with Galia for a while, then unpacked all my crap and organized it. At around 4 Sal came over and we caught up and then had dinner at Bliss before he drove me into Manhattan (which cost me lots of time compared with the subway, but was nice cuz we got to hang). He started working part time as a mover for some extra cash and had a job. He, Arthur, and I are going to look at at least 1 music practice space tonight at the Halsey L stop (and maybe some in the neighborhood too) and I'm pumped. After that I took the subway up to Columbia where I was taking Arthur to the Do Make Say Think concert for his birthday which is on Monday. The opening act was one of the guys from Do Make Say Think doing some random stuff with spoken word clips which was sort of boring, but the DMST set was great. I really love those guys, and fell in love with Danelectro guitars a bit, but it was perhaps not the best thing to see when you're super tired from jetlag. We rode the subway home and I hit the sack.
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Friday, September 11, 2009, 10:45 - GeneralBack in New York as of Tuesday night. Lots of catching up to do here, but I'm not sure I'll be able to capture the last few weeks with the level of detail they deserve. Here's a start.
My last weekend in Switzerland I went to Stephane's parents' mountain chalet in this tiny town in Valais called Ovronnaz. I invited Job and this girl Katherina whom Lewis and I'd met at the fondue restaurant at which we ate when he was in Lausanne. We met at the train station at 7 and took Stephane's car there, driving like 1.5 hours through the valleys and then up into the mountains. Stephane cooked us a huge fondue dinner which we ate outside, drinking quite heavily throughout it all. Eventually it came out that I don't mind nudity, and somehow this translated into Job and I getting completely naked and running around in and out of the house for a while. I hope this didn't cause Stephane too much discomfort.
The next morning Stephane got up quite early, I arose around 11 or something and ate breakfast and played a few rounds of bocci with him, and then eventually the other two got up. We then drove up into the mountain and went on a few hour hike up to this lookout point which was spectacularly beautiful (check the pics). There was a farm with cows on the way, and at some point I mentioned Miksang even though I don't really know what it is and this led to all of us snapping photos which were mostly empty space with a little bit of something in a corner (again, check). We hiked back down, Katherina went swimming in the city pool, we had roesti for dinner, and I schooled everyone in Settlers before we called it an evening far more sober and clothed than the previous night. The next morning we had to get back pretty early as Katherina had a horsejumping competition. Stephane kindly drove my dishes back to EPFL and then left Job and I there, and then we took the metro back to my place and gathered up all my shit so I could move out and over to his room in Geneva for the next couple days until my flight to Israel.
The moving process was quite the bitch even with his help, but I left a bunch of crap at his place after that. He's living for now in a room in a little apartment with some old Moroccan woman and it's a little awkward as she doesn't speak English and I felt like I was sort of intruding on her space. We went out after a while and had dinner with this Dutch friend of Job's at an Ethiopian restaurant where we learned that the Ethiopian Christian calendar has the year to be 2001 this year. The next day I went with him to the ILO for lunch to check it out, wandered a bit around the city and talked on Skype with Galia a bit, and then met him for a cocktail dinner as part of some conference on climate change. It was pretty fancy but I liked it, free food and wine and all. Talked to some people who were pretty boring, talked to some Dutch man for a while, met a very adorable Korean high school student who'd won a scholarship to come there and found the conference "very very hard" to follow (she gave me her business card). We then walked over to his Hungarian friend Vera's apartment and had a really fun time hanging out on her balcony and watching her dog run around with a diaper on to assist in its period.
The next morning I had to leave at like 7 to catch my train at 8:15 to Cologne from where I was to fly to Israel. I strapped my backpack on my back, my guitar around the front of my torso, and carried my laptop and drug my suitcase and slung my manpurse over my shoulder and wrapped my coats around that... I'm sure I looked ridiculous. I had a first class train ticket as the cheap seats in the second class had sold out, which actually was quite nice as it meant way fewer people in my way when I was getting in and out of the trains (I had to change like 4 times on the 7 hour journey). Right away though my water bottle spilled all over my books in my manpurse (though luckily not on my mp3 player) but that ended up being the only mishap. I even was served breakfast at my seat - I could get used to first class. I ended up having to pay 80 euros overweight because I wasn't staying at least a month in Israel (though I could have just said I was - I'll remember what the correct answer to that question is in the future) but that was my only overweight charge in all my flights so I couldn't complain too much and I was carting my little Orange amp along to leave there for future use.
So that was that, I no longer lived in Europe as of boarding the plane. Was fun, but I was ready to go too, both to Israel and back to New York.
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Thursday, September 3, 2009, 03:26 - GeneralAfter a somewhat grueling 16 hour journey carrying all my shit to Cologne on a 1st class train (actually, 3 trains and 2 regional railway lines) and then flying to Israel (which involved paying 80 euros in overweight charges), I've ceased living in Europe and am back with Galia in Tel Aviv for a week. It's great to be here, and will also be fantastic to be back in New York on the 8th.
Had quite the weekend in the mountains at Stephane's parents' chalet with Job and this German girl whom Lewis and I met at the fondue restaurant and spent 2 nights at Job's new place in Geneva, but I'll write more about that later.
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Monday, August 24, 2009, 08:51 - GeneralLast week is a bit of a blur. I worked late the first three days, played some guitar. I've got around 30 minutes of completed song material (well, the guitar parts anyway), so I hope to be able to hit the ground running when I get back to New York and start polishing it off with Arthur and Sal.
Thursday evening I left around 8:30 (I guess that's sitll pretty late) to meet Stephane at The Great Escape for some drinks. We had 3 beers and I had a plate of french fries and we chilled for like 3 hours overlooking Place de la Riponne. Was nice. He invited me to come up to his parents' cottage in the mountains in Valais this weekend, and it's very tempting, but might be too much of a pain to fit into moving out of my apartment and over to Job's for a night or two.
Friday I had to leave the office by 6 in order to be able to do laundy before I left for Paris the next morning. Galia wisely suggested I only do one load and save the rest for when I'm in Israel next week, as it's so expensive here. While the stuff was washing I tried to pick up my French train ticket for Sunday but couldn't, and then had a beer at the cool punk bar she and I'd discovered while she was here. The evening ended with some more guitar and an early bedtime.
I got up at 7 on Saturday and took the metro at 8:15 to Renens to meet the group. Tali rented a car to drive up to Germany to visit her dad for the week and was stopping in Paris for the day, so I, this German/Hungarian girl Julia, and the American couple of Martin and Steph joined for a road trip. Luckily Tali's request of a compact was upgraded to a small SUV so we weren't falling all over each other. The ride was somewhat uneventful, with the highlights being me showing the others via my mp3 player a bit of what I meant by "experimental rock" and Tali's insistence on relying wholly on her GPS for directions even though we were on the highway and there were signs for Paris all over the place, which took us on a few small detours into little French towns.
We arrived in Paris at around 3, and we dropped off the car in a suburb just outside the city limits but still connected by subway to the center as that's where Tali and Julia's couchsurfing host lives. Tali and Julia split off from the rest of us at that point, and we took the subway into the city, me splitting off again as Martin and Steph had a hotel into which to check and I was off to meet Alison, the really cool girl with whom I surfed in Berkeley. I was supposed to meet her at Camille's place (a French Parisian whom she knows from him coming to Berkeley for a couple months a while back) as that's where we were going to end up staying. It took me a little longer than I thought to get there, and somehow this lined up so that they were just stepping out of the apartment as I was arriving. I said hello to her, Camille, and Jasmine, Alison's friend who's a senior in painting at Hunter College and lives in Bushwick Brooklyn, and was asked whether I wanted to go to a museum. I said sure, and was taken to a photography museum which was showing an exhibition by Henri Cartier-Bresson of black and white photos from around Europe in the 20s-50s. It was really nice actually, even though photography is not usually my thing. After a while there I was hungry so Camille took us over to the Jewish Quarter where Alison and I each got a falafel and I got to sound out some Hebrew signs. After this we went back to Camille's apartment and chilled in his kitchen for a while drinking beer and rum and having fun, and then he took us to a somewhat relaxed bar where we sat in the back and had a beer. Alison was sort of accosted by some guy to forcefully kissed her while she was waiting for the bathroom and there were other somewhat awkward moments as well, but overall we were just really tired and so the conversation, while having been very lively before, was sort of melting into inanities. Jasmine really wanted to stay and party even though it would mean an expensive cab ride (the subway stops running at like 1:30 in Paris, blech) and she had to catch a train to the south at 8am the next morning, but we ended up just parting ways as we were too sleepy to maintain the hang.
The next day Alison and I got up at around 10:30 and were both rather surprised by how late it was. The two of us, Camille, and Camille's roommate Gerie went to the market and got some cheese and baguettes, etc., and had some food and tea back in the kitchen until maybe 2 or so when Alison and I left and met Simon, a dutch friend of mine whom I know from Amsterdam and now lives in Paris, downstairs. We all went to this alternatively-decorated bar/cafe on the canalside that he knew and had a great but short time over a couple coffees. We finally got ahold of Tali at this point, about which we'd been getting sort of worried, as she was supposed to give Alison a ride back to Brussels where she's an au pair. We left, took the metro up to Montmartre, and met Tali and Julia and walked up to the Sacre Coeur and snapped a couple photos. From there we walked back down the hill and took the metro to Gare de Lyon as that's where me, Julia, Martin, and Steph were going to take the train back to Lausanne. We said goodbye, as I won't see Alison until whenever and Tali until maybe November in Israel, and Julia and I got on the train.
I found Martin and Steph in the next car a bit after we'd departed, but they were in their own world and didn't join Julia and me. For around the first half of the 4 hour highspeed ride, this 4 year old girl and I played together, slapping hands and giving airplane rides and pretending she was a market vendor selling me carrots. It was adorable, and I'm really glad I speak French so I can have such experiences. I also chatted a bit with the mom who seemed pretty relieved to have her off her hands as she also had a 4 month old with her. The girl, Annelle, asked me as they were about to get off the train whether I would help carry the baby carriage and suitcase out, and I obliged. I then walked back home, chatted with Galia, and ate some muesli before passing out.
Back in the office now. Great trip, I love Paris still, and hope to be able to live there someday.
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Monday, August 17, 2009, 08:07 - GeneralWednesday through Friday were mostly just work days. I played some guitar which hadn't happened much in the previous month. Thursday I was in the office until around 21:30 trying to debug my use of my parallel STM library in STMBench7 to no avail, and Friday morning I was told the problem was very likely not my code's fault which was both good (not my fault) and bad (getting it to work will take some real effort). Friday evening I went out to Les Brasseurs in Flon with Brammert where we had dinner and I had a half liter of beer, then we walked to Bourg Plage and sat with some Swiss people and had some more beers til it closed at 12.
Saturday I came into my office but ended up not working on much, spending a little time trying to profile the performance of my Python webcrawler of concert info but I think I'll just give up on that implementation (very sadly though) and switch to C++. It's just way too slow. I also talked to Galia on the phone for like 2 hours and my parents for an hour. I ended the evening with lots of travel planning and drinking a fair amount of wine in my apartment.
Sunday I went to Geneva around noon to go frisbee golfing with Job at this park on the outskirts of the city. It's a real 18 hole course with gravel marked tees and baskets, but the holes run through the park and we had to skip 1 hole cuz we would have killed some little kids. We rented a driver and a putter each for 4 francs apiece, but the discs were very knicked and I felt quite handicapped from it. The worst part though was that my tennis elbow (as I assume it is) again flared up immediately. It extraordinarily painful and occurs whenever I throw anything these days, so disc golf is rather difficult. I think I'll have that looked at. I honestly expect surgery to be the proper course of action, but we'll see. Regardless, being crippled at such an early age is... sad. We did however have a really good time nonetheless, walking through the park on a great sunny warm day topless, eating bread and brie and peaches and having half liter Heineken's (ugh) at the cafe there before heading back to the city. There we met a Spanish friend of Job's from the ILO and had dinner together at this Japanese restaurant in the red light district before I caught my train home and fell asleep around 22:45 - I was très fatigué.
This morning I got up at 8:30 nonetheless, and rather than getting a super early start to the work day I finally booked all my transportation. Here are my plans coming up:
- Sat. Aug 22 Ride with Tali in a rental car to Paris
- Sun. Aug 23 Ride back with a friend of Tali's via highspeed train to Lausanne
- Sun. Aug 30 Move out of my apartment and crash at Job's place in Geneva
- Tue. Sep 1 Train from Geneva to Cologne, then fly from Cologne to Tel Aviv to visit Galia et al
- Tue. Sep 8 Fly from Tel Aviv via London to New York
- Tue. Sep 29 Galia arrives in New York
- Thu. Oct 1 Galia and I fly to Minneapolis
- Week of Oct 1-7 - hang with Galia in Rochester, Madison, and maybe up north Minnesota
- Wed. Oct 7 - Galia and I fly to New York
- Thu. Oct 15 Galia flies back to Tel Aviv
- Thu. Nov 5 I fly to Tel Aviv
- Wed. Nov 18 I fly back to New York
All of that is pretty much finalized with tickets purchased, too.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009, 08:41 - GeneralMonday we came to my office together, and then went home and ate dinner and watched Storytelling which we'd both seen but both wanted to see again. A low-key last evening together in Lausanne. The next morning we also went to the office, leaving a bit after 3 so we could take the subway to the car rental place and pick up our little 1.2L VW Polo which we then drove for 5 hours to Memmingen, Germany, where she was to fly back to Israel the next day. We got a room at the second place we tried in the center of Memmingen, and simply checked in and watched some dubbed German TV before going to sleep. We woke up at 6, packed up, drove to the airport, had a couple coffees, and said goodbye. It was fantastic to have her here, and sad to have her go, but so is it for us for now. I drove back to Lausanne, topping the little Polo out at 170km/h (105mph) on the Autobahn and dropping down to a cool 130km/h (80mph) once I was in Austria and Switzerland. I got back to the office before 1pm. Back to work then.
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Monday, August 10, 2009, 10:37 - GeneralTuesday evening I went over to Tali's for dinner, she making me pasta with sweet potato and cream sauce and hang out, inevitably discussing the Israeli Palestinian conflict. It was fun and I got to see her area of the city and bike home a new way. I then stayed up way too late watching a movie that I'm rather embarrassed about having watched even though I'd been hoping to get to the office quite early the next day.
Getting to the office early ended up not materializing as I slept way too late, so I decided to meet Lewis at the train station when his train pulled in at 12 and discuss what the plans were for him. He'd been planning on meeting this girl Layi whom he knows and who's living in Geneva, but it turned out that she was sick and just didn't show up, so it was very fortunate that I happened to be there. I took him up to my apartment to drop off his stuff and then we went to a grocery store to buy food and another to buy beer and then walked up into Bois de Sauvabelin to eat a big picnic and then head up to the top of the wooden observation tower that's there. After this we went to an outdoor restaurant near my place and played Tichu (which I won), and then back to my place before heading out for a drink at The Great Escape. After this was fondue at the restaurant for it recommended to me by Stephane. We split a bottle of wine and a big pot of cheese fondue in the fancy backyard, eventually having 3 German girls sit next to us at the big table and impressing them with our language skills. I even exchanged numbers with one of them so we could hang out later, and she was rather upset that she couldn't join Lewis on his planned mimicry of Galia's and my bike ride of the previous week around the lake. From there we went to Bar Au Château for a drink and then Bleu Lézard for 2 more, the last of which was quite unnecessary.
The next day I went to the office, walking with Lewis to Flon so I could show him where to check out the bikes. Layi decided to join him for the bike ride while I worked during the day. It took them quite a long time as she was somewhat slow though a good sport about it. I met them back at my apartment at around 8:45 or something and she was dead tired. We all went out for falafel/kabob, and then Lewis walked her to the train station while I played guitar for the first time in like 3 weeks. He came back, we settled his stuff up for his outward journey at 5:30am the next morning (he was flying from Geneva to Rome to go to a wedding), and then I went to sleep on the mattress on the floor while he slept on my box spring. A short visit, but nice to see him of course.
The morning he left was Friday, and I went to the office after I woke up and finally finished a big milestone in the transactional memory library I'm augmenting. My officemates and I celebrated by drinking cans of nonalcoholic beer in the lounge before I got on a train to Geneva to fly to Amsterdam for the weekend. Galia picked me up in her parents' car at the airport and we went back to her place for a bit and then biked to De Zotte for a drink where I coincidentally ran into Michiel, my old officemate in Amsterdam. He was there with 2 other dudes and Galia and I joined them for a while before her friends Katja, Milena, and Kiki picked us up and we biked to another bar where there were some more of their friends hanging out. We had plenty of drinks and it was pretty fun, and also nice to finally meet these people whom I've heard so much about. Her parents' apartment, which they own and visit a few times a year, is really beautiful and sunny with wooden floors and is in Oud Zuid in case you know where that is.
Saturday morning we sort of lazed around on the back balcony before taking a walk northward and through some of Vondelpark. At that point Ansten called me and we decided to walk back and then take the car to his apartment - my old apartment - to hang out with him and then pick up my amp which is still there cuz he's moving to Montreal in the fall to start his PhD and thus I figured it's not the best to have it stored there (I should really sell it one of these days). We had tea on the balcony and talked about old times and then snagged the amp and some books I'd left there and drove back. Katja joined us for shopping, as the dinner party to which I'd been invited had turned into me cooking a huge vegetarian meal for 8 people. We filled a big rolling cart with veggies and tofu and I spent like 3 or so hours cooking a big pot of lentil soup and a big stir fry with tofu and peanut sauce and rice and noodles. We made it a two course meal and drank plenty of wine, and Ansten joined us at around 8:45 or so I think when I was serving the soup. It was really fun actually, and the last of the guests to leave was Galia's friend Mila at something like 1 in the morning I think. At this point Galia abruptly got really sick unfortunately, but she felt better the next morning.
We got up around 9:30, and I had a huge headache and was feeling quite annoyed that I'd finished the night with that Bacardi and coke. We spent the next couple hours cleaning the whole apartment cuz it was going to be empty til October so it needed to be spotless to avoid mold. This was a bit difficult for me in my state, but we pulled it off and hopped a tram to the central station at 12, then flew to Geneva at 3, and were home in my apartment around 6 or so I think. We were both very tired and in very silly moods which I'm sure must have annoyed lots of the people next to whom we were traveling, but I didn't really care. We spent a couple hours in the apartment, took a walk at dusk, and split most of a bottle of wine before falling asleep around 1 or so.
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