July 29, 2009

Proof that Nirvana Played a Show in Austin, 1991

This makes me happy.

In other news, you might notice that I'm up at 7:17 AM ... that's because Bill woke me up (again) and I decided to just stay up this time. Good news though!! I watched him take a dump and, without ANY help from me, he squatted properly on the toilet seat like he's supposed to do. Huzzah! All four legs on the seat, didn't miss at all, didn't fall in. I could tell afterwards he was confused about covering up his mess, but I took him off the seat before he could investigate any further and foul things up. Much petting, and a treat, followed. He's now passed out on the sofa.

This means training will go so much easier, since I don't have to teach him how to stand on the toilet seat. I just need to slowly decrease the amount of litter in there (it's already pretty low) and then slowly fill it up with water. I'll probably keep a small amount of litter in there for a few weeks to make sure he gets used to it.


July 26, 2009

Toilet Training Moves Forward

Because I know you want to hear this --

For the last month or so, Bill had been using his litter box as it sat on top of the toilet seat, w/the lid up. Yesterday I removed that and bought a metal mixing bowl and suspended it (via duct tape -- most indispensible tool ever) in the middle of the toilet and filled it w/some litter. I stayed home all afternoon to hopefully catch Bill when he uses the facilities, because I need to teach him how to squat on the seat w/all four paws. (Being a pet owner is demanding, eh?)

Unfortunately I missed his business-time (and basically wasted an entire afternoon at home), but fortunately I came home from a party to find he peed very properly in the inner bowl and didn't spill a drop. That's an encouraging sign, at least! He apparently made the switch from box to bowl with no problems.

The next step is to fill the bowl with decreasing amounts of litter. But before I do that I want to make sure he knows how to squat. So this might be a month or so of me spending my time at home in front of the bathroom, instead of out in the living room, to catch him on his bathroom run. Nurse, cancel my one o'clock ...

July 25, 2009

More NYC Pics

Richard on the Cyclone

My friend Richard on the Cyclone at Coney Island.

A Ride in Progress

Another ride in progress at Coney Island.

Wonder Wheel

The Wonder Wheel, the ferris wheel at Coney Island.

Liberty Island

I shouldn't have to explain this one ;-)

View from the Plane

Plane rides aren't all bad ...

July 20, 2009


Well, on kind-of-a-whim, I went skydiving yesterday. Hot damn! It was scary, intense, and amazing. I'm definitely going to do it again. Some pictures my friends took:

This is me, beforehand, demonstrating the worst possible outcome of our little adventure.

The plane we went up in -- there's room for five people: the pilot and four passengers. For us, that meant two students and two tandem instructors.

Pre-jump. Note the stylin' gear.

On the way down. At this point I'd finished a 50-second free fall and been gliding w/parachute for about 5-6 minutes. We jumped from a height of 10,500 feet.

Coming in for a landing ...

The post-landing adrenaline-fueled hat throw! Yeeeeeeeeee-hah!!

Chatting with Brady after the jump.

If I had to pick one, I'd say the scariest part of the jump was the part where the plane door is open and you're sitting on the ledge waiting to jump off, just looking down at the ground, and what you're about to do hits you full in the chest -- you're about to pitch yourself out of an airplane, into the wild blue yonder, strapped to just another human being who just has some backpack on their back. Everything you normally associate w/air travel -- rows of seats, noisy people, and hell, a floor and some walls and an engine or two -- is gone. And you'll be falling earthward.

That part still makes me nervous just sitting here on the ground, even though I know I did it already. It's the part I don't fully remember; my brain must have blocked it out :-)

After that, once you're out of the plane and you're in free-fall, then it becomes beautiful. You're looking around you in amazement, the wind rushing up at you. You don't even feel like you're falling, because you're too far away from the ground to see it getting closer. There's no drop in your stomach like on a roller coaster. And I thought I'd be yelling in excitement, but I actually was robbed of the power of speech for awhile. It was very peaceful.

Then the instructor pulls the ripcord and you start floating. The wind noise falls away and you can have a normal chit-chat conversation with your partner. You can yank the handles of the canopy to steer, and if you pull hard on one direction you will spin around in the air. (It's fun.) And landing is a breeze, as gentle as can be.

Next time I'll try and take a small camera up ...

July 12, 2009

Back in Austin / NYC Pics

Just a small sampling of the flood of NYC pics that I took ... stay tuned to that link as I upload more over the next week. I'll be posting a couple more each day.

As always, click a picture to go to its page & browse related photos.

Manhattan Bridge + Manhattan

The Manhattan Bridge that connects Brooklyn to, um, Malnhattan across the East River :-) Bklyn is on the right. Notice the wedding photos going on!


Central Park.

96th Street Subway Mosaic

Subway tile mosaic at the 96th street stop. All the stops have signs like these.
Mom & Dad Just Outside the Guggenheim

My parents came to visit me at the Guggenheim :-)

Manhattan Skyline View from the Brooklyn Bridge

The Manhattan skyline as seen from walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. The tallest building, in the center, is the Empire State Building. The second-tallest one (off to the right of the frame) is the Chrysler Building.

Suzan & Choyce on the Scrambler

My friends Suzan and Choyce were in the car ahead of us on The Scrambler @ Coney Island. Because they were moving at the same speed we were relative to the "background", I could steady the camera and take this picture quite easily.

More. Again, I'll be uploading more here throughout the week!

July 9, 2009

NYC Update II

I'm taking the morning off today, sitting at my friend's house and surfing the net while drinking coffee. I'll go out soon, but for now I'm just relaxing. It's a well-deserved break after spending the better part of four days constantly on my feet and sightseeing. On Tuesday I had lunch with my family, then went to the East Village and Soho. I saw the site of CBGB and Tompkins Square Park. On Wednesday I took the train out of the city to visit my cousin , then came back, met up with a friend at Grand Central, and walked around lower Manhattan down to the Gramercy Park/Union Square area. I'm beat!

Today I'm going to a Mets game and then maybe out after that -- apparently Thursday night is when local NYers go out, since the "bridge-and-tunnel crowd" (those commuting into the city from NJ and CT) are not in the city late (since they have to work on Friday). Friday I'm meeting up w/someone for lunch and then will go to The Met -- and hopefully out after that. Saturday my hosts have planned a day trip to Coney Island (wheeee!) and then I fly out of here Sunday at 6 AM.

Good stuff!

July 7, 2009

NYC Update

I am in NYC right now and enjoying it. I'm staying with my friend in Brooklyn (Clinton Hill area). I've had a great time exploring, walking, using the subway, and so on. So far I've been to a number of place, including DUMBO, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, the WTC site, Chinatown (where I ordered in Chinese, woohoo!), Central Park, the Guggenheim, the Jewish Museum, East Village, SoHo, Midtown/Times Square, the Broadway area, Grand Central Terminal, the Chrysler Building ... not to mention countless blocks walked in between destinations, and many miles logged on the subway system already ... and I've still got four days left here!!

It's tough for me NOT to compare this experience with Shanghai. For example: the subway system in NYC is older and dirtier than the one in Shanghai. The entrances to the platforms are skinnier (there's barely room for two people to walk side by side), there are no escalators like in Shanghai, and the ceilings are barely tall enough for me to walk through (I had to duck under some pipe today in the Bleecker St. station). The trains are older and dingier and a LOT noisier (and "brake-ier") than in Shanghai. But the system runs 24/7, which is hard to beat, especially in Shanghai where the lines close around 10:30 (such a pain in the butt). And the system seems more extensive than in Shanghai, but I think that's because it covers a larger radius. Shanghai's system really thins out when you get outside the city center.

The crowds are thinner than in Shanghai, too. Someone pointed out this might be because NYC has much wider sidewalks. I could see that. The only area I've been to that "feels" like Shanghai is Midtown in the Times Square area. Most other places feel empty, maybe because I'm walking around during the work day. I mean there's people there, but I expected more. In Shanghai it's a constant jostle unless you move to Pudong. Speaking of which, Puxi is to Manhattan as Brooklyn is to Pudong. In both Puxi/Manhattan you have the "heart" of the city, and in fact it's what most people consider the "real" city. People you meet in Puxi/Manhattan hardly ever come to Pudong/Brooklyn unless by force. And Pudong/Brooklyn are both relatively new areas that are just starting to attract attention from those on the west side of the river. It's an interesting comparison. Funny how two cities can be like that :-) But I would be surprised if it's accidental - I think Shanghai looked at other large cities and used them as models for growth. For example, Century Park in Shanghai, reminds me a lot of Central Park, and Century Ave is modeled on the wide, sweeping lanes of French cities like Paris.

More to come, including pictures, as time goes on ...