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GuggenBALLS!

September 13th, 2007 by Raj

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If there was one thing I wanted to see in New York it was the Guggenheim museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It is without a doubt one of the most amazing pieces of architectural design in modern history and one that I’d studied way back in high school. There’s only one other building in the world that I would truly love to see first hand and that would be Le Corbusier’s masterpiece Villa Savoye, hmmm actually let’s chuck in Gehry’s Spanish Guggenheim too, Bilbao. Anyway, enough with the architectural appreciation class lets all focus on my utter disappointment to be greeted (after walking five blocks and taking two trains to the other end of freaking Manhattan island I might add!) with the lovely image that lies above. Let’s just sugar coat this one and say I was slightly “peeved” at my luck. I’m sure many of you are thinking “its just a building, get over it”, but let me explain something to you my little friends… you’re wrong! I want my Guggenheim damn you! F@#kers!

Right, now that I have that out of my system lets move on to what else has been happening. New York is crazy town, no way to describe exactly how much fun I’m having here and how awesome this place really is. All those people I’ve thought are wankers by wearing those “I [heart] NY” t-shirts, well you’re still wankers but what’s written on the t-shirt is exactly how I feel about this place. Can you say “give-me-a-green-card”? Woah, woah hang on a minute, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here… I must say that the weather (apart from the God like Noah & the Ark styled rain on Tuesday) has been incredible and I’d really need to see how this place operates when it snows here. That’s OK though, just gives me an excuse to visit in the off season! Mwahaha, cheap, cheap!

My hotel is a shoe-box, I’m not even going to bother any of you with a picture because half the photo would be one bare wall there’s so little to fit in the shot! Mmmmm, what else? Oh! I ran out of unmentionables yesterday and the rather uppity front desk staff informed me there was no Laundromat nearby but they could of course wash clothes for me at US$3 an item. Needless to say I declined and went on a mission to Macy’s to purchase some to tied me over until my next stop that fortunately includes washing facilities and low and behold on the way back I passed a Laundromat less than a block from my hotel. Arseholes!

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Times Square is incredible, so much going on, so many people! It’s like all of Australia got dumped here and they all want to walk down Broadway! Speaking of which, I went and saw Monty Python’s musical “Spamalot” which is based on their movie “The Holy Grail”. Now I’m not really one for musicals, although… strangely I’ve seen three now this year, hmmm…. yes; as I was saying, I’m not really one for musicals but this was one of the funniest things I’ve seen! If you’re a fan of Monty Python or enjoy British based dry humour I highly suggest you check this thing out, and I say that because it’s opening in Melbourne this November! I’ll be going again, oh crap that’d make four musicals in a year….

The subway system is insane, at first glance it looks like you need a nuclear physics degree to understand it but after a day on them it really couldn’t be easier or more convenient. Up until today I’d had all sane people on the carriages with me, even at night, which had been a let down but today was most definitely nutter day with almost every ride being usurped by someone announcing their name’s and plea/sermen to the other passengers. My particular favourite was a rather tall man that required a hankie to wipe away drool with every second word informing the women of the carriage that he was available for any adultery requirements regardless of god’s wrath. Highly entertaining, as long as you avert your eyes and don’t take any notice of them. Harmless fun.

Other than all of that I have done the tourist thing and gone to the top of Rockefeller Centre or “Top of the Rock” as they call it, did that instead of the Empire State because it was a five minute wait compared to five hours, and this afternoon after the bitter disappointment of the Guggenheim I strolled through kilometre upon kilometre of Central Park. One word for both experiences… beautiful. There’s plenty of pictures from both of those and everywhere else I’ve been in New York so far here.

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Shopping Spree

September 11th, 2007 by Raj

So it was raining and just a plain shitty day for my first day in New York so I did the only thing you can do… SHOP!

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The ever illusive Fisherman’s Wharf

September 9th, 2007 by Raj

Today was last day in fair old San Francisco, tomorrow morning I’ll be waking at the ungodly hour of 5am to catch a lovely five and half hour plane ride to New York. The east coast is three hours ahead of here so I basically lose an entire day in transit but you know, lets all cry over spilt milk and get on with our lives.

The plan, as has been pretty much every day I’ve spent here, was to head down to Fisherman’s Wharf. I really have no idea what’s supposed to be so special about this place other than everyone I know that’s been to San Francisco pushing it on me as place to visit in the same way a crack dealer hands out free pipes to new clients. (Well I’m presuming that metaphor but hey, be a good sales pitch I reckon). I actually woke up a little before 10am today which was kind of weird because I really didn’t know what to do for the extra two hours before when I have been heading out each day. Capitalising on the extra time I watched TV, always on the proactive I am!

Got the bus “downtown” as the yanks put it and made my way to the trolley car stop to find a line that went three blocks and past the last sign that actually told me how long I was going to have to wait. Goodbye Fisherman’s Wharf, I’ll catch you next time round me thinks. OK so with that tourist attraction neatly crossed off the list what else could I do? Go back to the hotel and sleep was sounding pretty damn good at this point but there was something I’m sure I was supposed to do while I was here, something I was meant to see…. what is important in San Francisco… Oh crap… I hadn’t been to the Golden Gate Bridge!

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The bridge was really no where near downtown, it’s in the complete opposite direction from where I’d just come but all I really had to was walk ten metres to Market St and jump on the number five to get down to Golden Gate Park and the 29 North to the bridge. Feels like I know the “MUNI” public transport system better than I do Melbourne’s and I’ve only been here five days!

So I got to the bridge. Um; how do I put this. It’s big, it’s brow-ange, it’s made of metal. You spend thirty minutes catching and changing buses to get to this thing, you see it, turn around come home. Oh actually I did have blueberry muffin and some Häagen-Dazs ice-cream at the extremely overpriced “Bridge Cafe” whilst there. The food pit-stop probably quadrupled the amount of time I spent there, lucky my sugar was low hey! No, it really wasn’t that boring, this thing is damn massive! Dwarfs that can opener Sydney calls a bridge and looks like a painting the way the mist and fog haze the towers and opposite footings. There was also a pretty little garden up there surrounding the statue of the engineer behind the bridge’s construction. Sorry didn’t look at the plaque, can’t tell you his name… who do I look like Jules Lund? Ewww, please say no!

Not particularly exciting stuff for you all I’m afraid but being there and seeing it was pretty amazing I must admit. Something much more amazing and probably unbelievable to the most of you is that the day I prior I spent the entire day in a park. Yes pick up your jaws from the floor, Rajeev Deut was getting in touch with nature by spending the day in Golden Gate Park (no where near the Bridge I might add). I didn’t want to write a full entry devoted to it just in case a few of you out there with weak hearts hadn’t taken you medication but I will say that I had a most enjoyable day exploring only at the most a tenth of this enormous parkland, one kilometre wide by five kilometres long!

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The main part that I spent most of my time in was the Botanical Gardens (yes Mum I went to the Botanical Gardens without being dragged by a girl) and they were very beautiful. I took a tonne of photos, tried to get as many as I could of the little squirrels running around but they’re pretty fast little buggers! The whole time I was walking around in the Botanical Gardens (they’re a tiny, tiny portion of the actual park) you could hear these looming bass beats coming from the south towards the coastal end of the park. Whatever it was it sounded interesting so I decided to take a wander down that way only to find an hour and three kilometres later I still hadn’t arrived at their source!! I’d all but given up, my hips were at the point where they felt like they were scraping bone on bone with my legs and if I had to walk for another ten minutes I’d be getting one of those cool little scooters I’d seen people hiring for disabled folk back at the entrance to the parkland.

Fear not engrossed reader, I did not give in to the excruciating pain that boiled within me, I pressed on, punishing my torso in search of the echoing booms! And then, just when all hope was lost I turned to corner and out of nowhere came at least 30,000 people all crammed together bouncing and grooving at San Francisco’s 9th Annual “Power to the Peaceful” festival! Penny drop… this explains why I’d been smelling dope for the last twenty minutes!

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The festival was pretty awesome, full of tree huggin’ hippies, but cool none the less, and quite the find! It cost a donation of US$3-5 to get in and then the rest was party time. I hung out there for a while, had a few drinks, listened to Michael Franti play his set, which was pretty cool, and then made way back to the hotel for the day!

There you have it, my last two days in San Francisco and the entire trip without one stop anywhere near tourist central Fisherman’s Wharf! Frankly I think it’s my lack of touristy indulgence that has led to me spending only US$250 for my entire trip so far, and that includes cab’s, buses and food. Damn I’m a tight arse!

Little Squirrel

Awww, look at cute Mr Squirrel on a log!

Check out more pics from San Fran’s Golden Gate Park here.

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Yeah I went to the movies, sue me!

September 8th, 2007 by Raj

Today I had the full intention of heading down to Fisherman’s Wharf and perhaps catching one of those famous trolley cars (come on people let’s be real here, they’re trams! They’re not that special) up and down some of the San Francisco hills. Well that was my intention anyway, things didn’t quite work out that way….

I woke up in the morning at about 12:15, oh hang on that’d be “afternoon” wouldn’t it. OK, so I woke up this early afternoon again sleeping through my wonderfully fantastic alarm clock for the third day in a row and made my way down to the bus stop. I’d seen the bus stop many times before so taking in the atmosphere of vomit and urine didn’t really appeal and was reason enough to pop on the iPod and ignore the world. Unfortunately for me there wasn’t actually anyone else at the bus stop for me to physically ignore so I had to pretend (mind you not with much difficulty) that the pungent aroma of the bus shelter had actual life.

As the bus clambered up and down the many hills of San Francisco along Sutter St towards the city centre I realised that the streets had become rather common for me. Luguana, Octavia, Gough and so on whisked passed with me still slowly coming out of a rather stretched, milked-for-all-it-can-be-excuse of jet lag. Fortunate for me the boys from Hundred Pennies keep me awake long enough not to miss my stop and disembark, on the other hand they’re also part of the reason as to why I didn’t make it to Fisherman Wharf at all today. In fact I didn’t really get too much farther beyond the bus stop in the city I got off at.

You see, this is what happened… When I got off the bus my sugar levels were a little low, it was also after lunch time so I went across the street to the big Westfield shopping centre and grabbed a bite to eat in the food court. The guy that served me in the burger joint I went to was weird. He did the same thing as another guy that works in a newsagent near work does and that’s touch my hand or rather “stroke” it as he gives me change. Freaks me out, anyway this kid did it too, I had to go wash my hands before eating. So anyway, after de-ickying myself and getting my food I was listening to Gav & Stu on my iPod still and they broached the subject of a new movie “Superbad” that had come out that I really wanted to see. Hmmm, I’m eating lunch in the food court of a giant mall, surely there’s a movie theatre here too! Funnily enough after spending twenty minutes eating next to a couple of housewives trying to out do each other with there retirement fund saving techniques I headed out of the mall’s basement to it’s ceiling where on the fifth floor was a lovely little fifty cinema complex showing Superbad in five minutes. Ahhh, Bellissimo! (That does mean, good or perfect or something similar yeah??)

Was Superbad, super bad? I hear you asking… I mean that’s a pretty easy pun for someone to make so I will presume you too had that resting on your lips, don’t get me wrong it certainly doesn’t make it funny, it’s a bad one. So, was it a good movie? Short version “funniest shit I’ve seen in a long time”, go see this movie if only for the rather strange choice of graphics in the credits!

It was about 3pm after I got out of the movies, I still had plenty of time to jump on a bus down to Fisherman’s and perhaps stick around for dinner while I was there too. I mean all I really had to do was find the exit which was hidden in Bloomingdales somewhere and get out of there. Eventually after trying out a few after shaves, not sure about DKNY’s men’s red delicious still tossing it up, I got out of there but in a completely strange street that must’ve been on the other side of the block from where I’d entered. I’d not been down this way before so I figured why not check it out, and then there it was, rising out of the horizon as if a shot straight out of [insert your favourite epic here (eg. Titanic, LOTR, Babe)]…. The Moscone Centre!

Right, so now you’re saying “Ahhhh, dude… Moscone Centre? What the?” and fair enough too, well except for maybe three of you who are also rather excited about visiting the exhibition mecca for any Apple fan. I can hear your eyeballs rolling from here! So I like looking at Apple gear, give me a break and go buy another pair of shoes already! This place is pretty damn huge, it also splits into Moscone West & North in addition to the main building. I got bored after walking half way round it so I turned back and went into the adjascent building that oddly enough contained a massive Sony Style store pimping PS3’s like they were something worth buying and a Nintendo store. This is obviously nerd heaven around these parts! Oh and what’s this on the two floors above me? A movie theatre that just happens to be showing the new movie Shoot Em Up that I saw Clive Owen talking about on Conan O’Brien last night, oh and guess how long until the first screening? Yup, five minutes, hey you can’t argue with fate!

Now I have to say sorry to Superbad because Shoot Em Up blew it completely out of the water. This is a must see movie! Absolute bullshit but non stop action fun in a very, very well done black humour type of way.

OK, OK, I know! Yes I went and saw not one, but two movies, yes I’m in a city I’ve never visited before and I’m on holidays but you know what, get ferked the lot of you I had fun and the ocean can wait, it’ll be there tomorrow, opening day for a film only happens once!

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So are you excited?

September 6th, 2007 by Raj

From the day I bought my tickets way back in May the question of my excitement towards this now-occurring holiday has escalated exponentially upon a time line up to the asymptotic point of me actually showing any outward emotion to ratify the fact that I may actually be excited about anything let alone a holiday.

You see I’m not exactly what you’d call an excitable person; in fact you could probably go as far as saying I’m not particularly a person of any real public emotional output, actually no scrap that, I do have one emotion that I pretty much permanently stay fixed in throughout the most of the day, angry, no, no… hang on… grumpy, hmmmm, hateful? Noooo, let’s just stick with grumpy, I’m a grumpy old man in boys’ skinny white Indian body. Stop laughing! No seriously, stop now.

Downtown San Francisco

So anyway, me, excited, equals no I’m afraid. I just don’t do excitement, generally because excitement is often associated with the expectation of something happening, eg. A holiday around the world, only to have the entire event let you down and squash any dreams for exciting adventuring and happy times. I prefer to take the rather pessimistic view of all the shit things that may be involved in said holiday, expect the worst (well perhaps not dying, but lets just say boredom), and then be pleasantly surprised when things all turn out dandy and I have a rather “hip, hip, hoorah” of a time as the British would say. Actually they probably wouldn’t say that these days but I think they really should think about bringing those phrases back into their vernacular of the current day.

Let’s go through a perfect example of my holiday’s non-excitement, a situation that most overseas travellers will encounter and that is the lovely twelve hour plus plane ride to your destination. I say twelve hours because you sissies that complain about your so called “overseas” journeys to New Zealand, or South East Asia, well you can kiss my non existent pancake arse my friend because that’s a bollocks version of overseas journeying, try taking a man’s flight!
For starters as I’ve so colourfully pointed out the length of ones flight can be a rather determining factor of your holiday’s start. Not being about to sleep, being stuck next to honeymooning morons (as I was last two years ago), having kids screaming or my personal favourite, slobs that were never taught to cover their mouths whilst coughing and sneezing! We’re all completely aware of my hatred of flying but you can see my point here, this is the beginning of your journey, for me and I’m sure many others, the trip of a lifetime, I don’t want some retard screwing it up in the first few hours by giving me a cold! Fuck that, sorry Mum… stuff that!
Fortunately on this particular flying engagement there weren’t any stand out moments of annoyance. I was seated next to an elderly couple from Auckland to San Fran after having the luxury of two vacant seats during the Melbourne to Auckland leg. They weren’t too bad though, and I think after the first few questions, to which I answered very politely I might add, they got the idea I was more in to the 150 channels of Air New Zealand entertainment! w00t to that! Hang on… did I just get excited over something that had to do with air travel? Can someone call the Bureau of Meteorology and check on Hell’s temperature please?

The flight was OK, I only got two hours sleep because well sleeping at a 75 degree angle isn’t my thing, old snorey behind me didn’t have that problem though! The best thing about the whole flight was seeing the waters of the Pacific begin to become more blue as we flew closer to the west coast of the states and the boom, you’re hit with the mountain range hugging the coast and playing bosom to the greater San Francisco area. It really didn’t look that big at first, and truth be told seeing it from a few thousand feet it looked like I’d spent Adelaide seventeen hours flying to Adelaide. All that was before we banked for the airport and out of nowhere comes a city that could probably tackle Sydney. To think that the US has probably got a city this size in every state, California has LA too let’s not forget, is mind blowing. How amazingly insignificant and small is Australia! I can understand how we’re so often forgotten “down under”, it’s unfortunate but true.

And there I was. Little Indian in big smoke, a beautiful 29 degrees day greeted me as my feet kissed US soil for the first time in eleven years. Stumbling with the sleep depravation I managed to hitch a ride on the BART (some train thing) to the city and then wonder aimlessly until I gave up and got a cab to my Japantown hotel. I fell asleep…. rather I collapsed on my bed.

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You see there’s still no room for excitement here in this little old story so let’s fast forward a few hours to when I woke up at midday the next day. I’d slept through the alarm I’d set for 9am (I tested it later and it nearly burst my ear drums so shit knows how I slept through it?) and did all the necessaries to get out and explore. Bus ride to Union Square: boring, Walk aimlessly window shopping: boring, Find the Apple Store: priceless! Now, after four months, travelling to the opposite side of the world and spending 24 hours in a city I’d never seen before I got a hard on. Well actually it wasn’t that exciting, kind of let down a little actually because the “flagship” Apple store was probably half the size of London’s and well lets face it, size does matter doesn’t it ladies. Sexual innuendo aside I played with the iPhone! Yeah, yeah big deal for someone that lives in America but for an Aussie Apple Geek (That’s AAG for the acronym freaks) I was one happy little nerd. This thing is coooooooool, I almost bought one, almost… it was hard not to, but when I found out the new iPod touch is going to be able to run Mail and some other stuff after hacking it my impulse buying demon disappeared off my shoulder. I will say one thing about the phone though, typing on it is weird! pressing a screen will take a lot of getting used to, even I had trouble with my girly fingers!

Well you see I was excited, or rather I am. It may have required a little more explaining to show it but deep inside this frail, cold storage unit of body there’s a little man beating the drum of excitement inside my heart. Awwwwww….

Check out photos from my first days exploring San Francisco!

iPHONE RULES!

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The Itinerary

August 22nd, 2007 by Raj

Look out world here I come. In less than two weeks I begin what you would have to classify up there as “trip of a lifetime” jet-setting around the world. Granted the destinations and events are heavily geek related but… well lets face it, I’m a geek. Now no-one freak out I wont be like the poor guy that was hospitalised for not taking insulin on the plane, I have all my documentation sorted.

So, without further adieu here we have it, “World Trip 2007”.

San Francisco, USA
Depart: Melbourne, Australia @ 12:00PM, 5th September
Stopover: Auckland, NZ
Arrive: San Francisco, USA @ 12:25PM (yes 25 minutes after I leave)
Accommodation: Hotel Tomo

New York, USA
Depart: San Francisco, USA @ 8:00AM, 10th September
Arrive: New York, USA @ 4:30PM
Accommodation: Gerschwin Hotel & Friends

Toronto, Canada
Depart: New York, USA @ 12:30PM, 18th September
Arrive: Toronto, Canada @ 2:05PM
Accommodation: The Drake Hotel

Paris, France
Depart: Toronto, Canada @ 8:25PM, 23rd September
Arrive: Paris, France @ 10:00AM, 24th September
Accommodation: Hotel Champaigne Paris
Attending: Apple Expo 2007

London, England
Depart: Paris, France @ 12:20PM, 27th September
Arrive: London, England @ 2:00PM
Accommodation: Friends
Attending: The Future of Web Apps Conference

Back home…
Depart: London, England @ 10:15PM, 8th October
Stopover: Singapore @ 6:00PM, 9th October
Arrive: Melbourne, Australia @ 9:00AM, 10th October

I’ll be posting regularly on the trip with experiences both through words and video. Be sure to keep an eye on my flickR page for photos too.

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