I’ve got to share a bit about the most recent of two times I’ve ever left the continent.
Just the week before last, I had the amazing opportunity to spend a week with my family, touring Israel. It was my cousin Cooper’s Bar Mitzvah, and in order to celebrate it correctly, my Uncle Jim took 23 of us on the most amazing trip I’ve ever been on. We chartered a bus and visited many different places throughout a densely packed schedule. Beni, our tour guide, was personable, entertaining, and amazingly knowledgable. We met many interesting people and learned up close the culture and the struggles of the Israeli people. For me, it was a very important and eye-opening experience to take this trip.
There’s just so much to say about the trip, but I’m going to keep this post simple by just giving a brief overview of our itinerary.
Saturday, April 2: From airport, we traveled to Jerusalem. Walked around the Old City.
Sunday, April 3: Visit Yad Vashem, Holocaust Museum with Eliezer Ayalon, survivor & educator. After lunch, went to Beit Guvrin Caves to participate in Dig For A Day where, for a short time, we helped mine for 2000 year old remains. After dinner, we toured the Western Wall Tunnels.
Monday, April 4: Cooper’s Bar Mitzvah at the Davidson Archaeological Park! Toured Old City, Western Wall, and Jewish Quarter. After lunch, we toured the Renewed Israel Museum.
Tuesday, April 5: Climbed the plateau (while others took cable car) and toured the ancient ruins of Masada. After lunch, we swam in the Dead Sea. (Holy crap you totally float in this water!) Had an amazing dinner this night in a Bedouin tent out in the desert.
Wednesday, April 6: Visited an elementary school participating in a partnership program that my uncle is a part of. Took turns firing oozies at a shooting range at Ayelet Hashahar. Checked into a kibbutz guest house.
Thursday, April 7: Off-road morning jeep ride in Golan Heights where we visited an army base and were given a security tour by Kobi Marom, a 25-year officer of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). The soldiers surprised us with a chocolate cake celebrating Cooper’s Bar Mitzvah. From there, it was about a 2-hour ride back into Tel Aviv where we wandered around until dinner, and finally the airport.
It was an insanely packed week with barely any “free” time to walk around. But we covered a lot of ground in that short time; it was no doubt a well-organized trip. The food was amazing. Hanging with relatives from near & far* was great. It was almost a drag to come back to reality.
Julie put some sightseeing shots in a Flickr set.
* Only as far as New York & California, in case you were wondering.
On the beautiful palindrome Saturday of 01/02/2010, I proposed to Julie, my girlfriend of four years. Since she accepted, I now must get used to calling her my fiancé!
We’re planning on having the big day in September of 2011, so we have plenty of time to figure out exactly what we want. But wow — I’m now finding just how complicated all this planning is. :)
Yay for Julie and me! Thanks, everyone, for the kind wishes.
So I’ve been working from the same, boring ‘ol, non-smartphone phone for longer than I can even remember now. Verizon sent me a text message something like 6 months ago telling me I’m elligible for a new phone, but I’m still holding out. I’ve known for years that I want an Android phone, but of course the G1 is slow and chunky. The MyTouch 3G doesn’t seem much better. Only now are we starting to see some proper Android phones coming out.
The upcoming Droid phone (or Sholes if you believe this report) from Motorola seems to be not just be the Android phone of my dreams, but a smartphone that will truly shake up the whole mobile space and perhaps give the mighty iPhone a run for its money. Just about everything about it seems appealing: big (854×480 — iPhone is 480×320 for comparison), beautiful screen, slide-out keyboard, fast processor, 5 megapixel camera, and of course all the usuals like an accelerometer, GPS, compass, etc. It’s only a hair thicker than the iPhone, to boot!
Why didn’t I just get an iPhone already? I’ll tell you why. If I buy a piece of hardware, I expect to be able to install software on it. The iPhone platform has some serious issues with that way of thinking since you can only install software that Apple has deemed “OK” via the “App Store.” Further, their approval process can seem entirely arbitrary as they have approved apps only to later deny them, and deny apps only to later approve them. And if they don’t like you, they’ll take their sweet time at coming to any conclusion! Oh, and while I know Verizon employees are trained to ignore basic math, I have heard a slew of even more horrifying stories pertaining to the locked-in iPhone carrier, AT&T.
I’ve already began dabbling in Android app development, and it looks like their API’s are very workable. I think it’s pretty empowering to be able to write software for my phone, and I really don’t think Apple belongs in my way when I want to share my app with a friend. And the ability to actually have background processes running like a modern, multi-tasking operating system is also very appealing!
So needless to say, I’m psyched. Verizon’s big announcement is on the 28th of October, but based on some leaked infos, we’re expecting to see the phone(s) become available on the 6th of November.
So I’ve finally gotten around to migrating my blog from Mephisto to WordPress. I took a free theme that was pretty simple, and applied a good amount of tweakage to make it my own. I hope to find more things to blog about, so prepared for more traffic than we’ve seen in a while.
Edit: Almost forgot to include a screenshot of the old design like I used to do.
Hi, Internet! My site only just came back online because I took my sweet time about properly configuring my Gentoo Linux server to support my Mephisto blog. The site was being run by my good friend and roommate, Matt Nagi, but now that I’ve moved into my new house with Julie, I’ve set the site up the site to run on my very own cable modem. So please be gentile. :)
The new house is awesome—having a cozy place to call your own is totally worth the bit of extra work required to repair and maintain it.
And I’m still “Unraveling” on dnbradio.com every Tuesday at 7:00 PM EST.
The project that I’ve been a part of for most of my time here at Quicken Loans has finally gone live. Think of it as a flexible financial tool. We want Quizzle to one day be your one-stop shop for learning where you financially stand against the ever-changing climates of the home markets and economy.
The most important feature for most folks seems to be the FREE credit report. You might laugh and say there’s no such thing as a free lunch (as you may have learned in attempting to get other “free” credit reports from other sites). But at Quizzle, we not only give you a completely free and easy to understand credit report, but we manage to do so without your having to provide your SSN! I don’t believe anyone else is doing this right now.
There is a lot to be had inside Quizzle apart from the credit report, though. A set of your incomes and debts will be imported from your credit report into the Budget section of Quizzle where you’ll be able to manipulate them to gauge your debt-to-income ratio. You will receive a free home value estimate along with a list of comparable homes in your area. You will have access to handy calculators to help determine how much you should be saving each month for your retirement or your children’s college funds.
We have a lot of interesting ideas for the future of Quizzle, and there’s just no end in sight for the development of this intriguing new tool. We even have the groundwork laid for an invite system where people can refer others to Quizzle and gain credit towards perks and freebies.
I encourage home owners out there to check it out, see what they think, and perhaps offer some feedback! We’ve really only just kicked this thing off. And if you’re a renter, let us know during sign-up, and we’ll let you know when functionality for renters is added!
… I just haven’t had much to say, I guess. The weekly DNB show is still going on—usually running long. If you’re into that, do check for those MP3 archives if you can’t listen live on the DNBRadio.com Podcast page. This last week’s set rocked out with a length of 3hr 13m, while the prior week’s show clocked in at nearly an insane 4.5hrs! I was all cookin myself up some pizza during it so I could keep spinning till my eyes got blurry :) That could be my longest ever.
In other news, I seem to be sinking deeper into this “hobby” they call headphones. I’m really, really enjoying the sound of a good pair of headphones on my head with an amp and external dac. I have some pretty nice stuff at this point, but I’m not quite sure I’m done just yet. Damn this hobby, I tell you! (My Head-fi.org profile always has my equipment status.)
Nine days ago, Tuesday December 19, 2006, marks the last exam of the last semester of my undergraduate college career. It was a long time coming, but I’m finally done! (What blows is that I was unable to find a subleaser for my room up there on Gunson Street. I haven’t quite given up on the search, but I think I might be getting screwed on this one.)
The good news, though, is that I’ve joined ranks with the brilliant folks at Quicken Loans in full-time fashion. I get to work in a tight team of only a handful of people (the Web Interaction Team), and I’ve so far really enjoyed working with them. I can’t wait to see what we’re capable of moving forward with our current project. The company as a whole is doing really well in the marketplace, and appears to have a very bright future, indeed. I’m very excited to be a part of it.
Oh, and a Very Happy Holidays from DJ Thread!
My site has been out for about the last 24 hours. I finally got things sorted out on the web server. We’ve moved from the shaky-service Dreamhost to Railsmachine.com. This company employs some real Ruby on Rails contributors who know what they’re talking about, and who seem to care more for their clients than Dreamhost. Their specs/price ratio is a bit higher than Dreamhost, but it’s guaranteed specs. We’re all pretty sure that Dreamhost is overselling their capacities.
Anyway, I’m back now, so everyone can just calm down. ;)
Next: my weekly dnbradio set!