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Perhaps you remember last year at this time we posted this video entitled on YouTube as “The Largest Weed Ever?”

Since then, it has racked up 3,300 views on YouTube as a publicly displayed video, second only to the Hot Pot video from our trip.  Why a favorite? The ever popular search term weed among the YouTubers out there.  Positions my video right next to the Largest Bong Ever!

(the marketer in me might point out the importance of picking search terms, qualified traffic and blah blah blah… but that’s a topic for a different blog I’ve been working on)

It’s interesting opening up your life for mass public display on blogs and social networks like Flickr, Facebook and even YouTube.  People read, subscribe and comment, good and bad.  These strangers are empowered to interact in your life.  Amazing really.  

Erin and I thought this comment chain of realization was pretty good… scroll down below the video for a chuckle.

 

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Ok, Oprah I’m not. Maybe Stedman. Regardless, I have been exposed to some pretty cool things this year. Things that affect my life and get me talking. Plain and simple. In no particular order, here they are:

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1. Senuti

This free software freed MY music, yes mine, from my iPod. Until now, iPod accepted music as a one-way street. Computer -> iPod but not vice-versa. As I’ve gone from work computer to work computer, my digital music library has shuffled around quite a bit and in some cases been lost. Who has time to upload it all again from disc? Thanks to Senuti (or Floola for you PC users), this software simply extracted the music files from said iPod back to digital storage for safe keeping. Took about 5 hours to transfer 5,000 songs. I ate Thanksgiving dinner while it did the work – good deal!

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2. Google Reader

I’ve never been so in-the-know. Erin introduced me to this free feed reader calling it “Tivo for the internet.” Instead of having to repeatedly go to 20+ websites and hunting each for new info, now my Reader searches my usual bookmarks automatically and brings all new posts to me, in one convenient location. You simple scroll down, reading the headline, a key paragraph and a photo for each entry – ordered chronologically by time received. If you want to read more from an entry, simply click on link. For most, you’ll just keep on scrolling to the next item, with your brain growing exponentially. Awesomeness.

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3. Lifehacker.com

I also owe my Reader for finding me this gem of a website. In fact, Lifehacker brought me Senuti (see, we’ve gone full circle on the list now) and so many more helpful products and tips for making life easier and more fruitful. Features life improvement tips beyond software, too. Like, how to open a clam package with a can opener. OR, how to make a bottle opener out of a single piece of paper. (it’s like McGyver, only more geeky…)
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4. The T

Yeah, you know how much I like my Truck. It brings me much joy. It also brings me much used furniture and much trash for the dump. I suggest you get one.

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5. Real Men of Genius telephone greetings

The marketing dork in me made me do it. It is quite funny and original for a birthday greeting.

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6. My LG camera phone

Nothing is safe when you have a CU500v. It has a very convenient 1.3 megapixel camera. More importantly, the camera has a swivel, so you won’t even know when I’m taking a picture of you picking your nose. Well, unless it is dark, because there’s no flash. Next time.

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7. The neti pot

I credit this crazy India-inspired product with keeping my nasal passages humming. It’s like a tea pot, only you use it to pour water in one sinus cavity and out the other. I was reluctant when Erin first brought it home, but tried it the next time I got some sniffles. And as sure a chicken tikka masala… it cleared me right out.

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8. Tripadvisor.com:
It wouldn’t be a post without something travel related. At this time last year we were trekking through New Zealand. Without Tripadvisor.com, we wouldn’t have found some of our better destinations. The forum section is great, where real folks give you real tips, and usually answer your questions real quick. Search the section for your city and list your specific inquiry. Help is on the way.

I’m sure there are more, but these are top of mind. Hope you’ve had some wonderful discoveries that made 2007 a great experience in stuff.

Six years ago, on what was a beautiful fall Tuesday morning in the city, my world stopped. Everyone’s did. It’s amazing how clear every detail is to this day:

– Strolling into work a little foggy with egg sandwich in hand after a late evening watching the Giants at a bar on monday night football
– Maria calling over the cube wall, “did you hear that a small plane hit the world trade center?”
– Seeing that smoking hole all the way from midtown out of the 30th floor window
– Flipping channels for CNN in our conference room as Laura shrieked with the impact of the second plane
– Gazing out the window and gasping in disbelief as the first tower crumbled
– Evacuating from the highrise with my co-workers
– Chaos of gridlock and crowds on the street outside of 41st and Madison
– Trying to grab a ride from the closest available, a limo – and not moving
– Fleeing north by foot into the park when the second tower fell
– Finally getting a cell phone signal and calling mom to say I’m safe
– Spending the morning and afternoon at Sharon’s apartment glued to the news
– People pacing inside, checking cell phones, panicked for friends and family
– Walking home to the upper east side across the park, intent on giving blood – only to be turned away as the line would down and around three blocks
– The emptiness of my apartment upon arriving back
– Meeting Jay and friends at the corner bar patio
– Watching the biohazard trucks in national guard convoy head south down 2nd Ave.
– Wondering when phones would work to hopefully hear from friends
– Rudy Giuliani on every screen – I never liked the guy until that day
– Endlessly reading the news ticker hoping for something, anything, new
– Heading into work the next day to clear my head and that empty view out the window
– The apparent police state which greeted me

It’s those things that immediately followed which I prefer to think about:
– New Yorkers forging together and refusing to give up
– Mr. November, Derek Jeter, in the World Series putting a wounded city on his back
– George Bush, a welcome leader emerging (with public support – remember when?)
– Politicians holding hands and singing, and us believing they were working together
– Views and messages of support from around the country and world
– The twin beams of light

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We’re all going to read about and see those 9/11 images today, which have been burned into our heads. I still get tingles when I watch the specials, documentaries and even visit the city.

Erin and I went to Ground Zero for the first time since the incident during our trip last month. I didn’t know how I’d feel or react. We went to St. Paul’s Chapel, best known for housing rescuers and relief workers as well as the masses of missing-turned-memorial signs.
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It feels more like a museum now, but an inspiring place nevertheless.
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The churchyard was covered in debris after the towers came crumbling – here’s the view now toward Ground Zero.
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Ground Zero isn’t much to look at now. It’s a crowded construction zone that feels more like a campaign spot for the new building project than it does a memorial site. Kind of sad.

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I’m one of the lucky ones. My close friends and family unharmed. A personal witness to history.

I’m a little behind on my blogging, but last weekend Erin and I spent a few days in our favorite city, New York, to celebrate our 1 year anniversary. My how time flies. As luck might have it, I also had a business trip to the region following the weekend, which made for a longer visit. Good times.

Erin left early in the day on Friday, and I was going to meet her in Manhattan after finishing work in Dallas. But the storms intervened. I knew I was in trouble when Erin called to tell me her earlier flight landed in another city because LGA was closed. At that time, there was no word my flight would be delayed. So, I got a head start to the neighboring Friday’s while everyone else awaited the inevitible announcement. TGIF…

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Bellied up to the seating area with about 2 hours to kill (at least). It was Friday; my mind was spent from a long week; what to do?

So I decided to do nothing. Turned off the iPod. Ordered a beer. And thought it might be fun to simply track the ambling of my mind.

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So, interesting or not, here are the headlines in order for the trip my mind took on Friday in terminal C.

– Do I look that goofy with my bluetooth earpiece on? They are getting smaller and snazzier, looking more and more like decorative accessories than tech tools. The airport is full of them. And no matter how small/snazzy they get, it still makes anyone look pompous and self-important. Maybe I shouldn’t use one. Honestly, it makes talking on the phone much more pleasant. Perhaps I should implant one inside my ear, and just pull on my earlobe to activate…

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– Why does this ad for the Razr bother me so much? It’s really goofy. I mean, the Razr and the cut tie – fine, I get it. But the model – what’s up, Moto? The vending machines, adorning this ad, offers airport goers instant communication devices. Pick your phone, bluetooth or charger, all ready for talking. Good thing too – we’re all stuck at the airport…

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– There must be some serious demand for metal detector and scanner repair at airports. My last 4 trips to DFW have featured at least 1 broken scanner AND detector at security. Not a big deal, UNLESS the broken contraptions are 1 of 2 in the major airport artery. It’s nonsense. Get it fixed. Perhaps that’s my big idea – emergency repair service. ITT Tech, I’m calling.

– Will the 70’s ever go back out of style? I hope not. I wish she was our attendant – but wait, we don’t have a plane…

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– Are airports the ultimate melting pot? Look at all the people from different walks of life. Lots of languages; lots of dress; lots of everything walking this terminal. Only one could be better – the NYC subway. It’s a slice of life world-over in one car:

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– Cabbies in major cities are pretty good for brushing against the world too. Would I have spoken to anyone from Senegal otherwise, if not my fortunate cab in Chicago at 4:45 am last week? He as very nice and loved himself some Texas. Houston was his lone experience. Poor soul.

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– Why can’t restaurants have airport departure screens? Got get my lazy butt up to see if we’ve been delayed further. I like using Orbitz.com – they send you a text for every gate/time change. Oh TLC, gotta go back to that.

– Have I ever met a fried food that I didn’t like? It’s the most wonderous way to turn anything edible and uniquely tasty. Like “sweetbreads” (animal innards) at York Street with the Johnsons during restaurent week. Or, my fried mac and cheese. TGIF.

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– When did we all get so fat? It’s getting to the point where you can point out Americans from other world travelers walking down the terminal. Maybe it has something to do with my comment on fried.

– Nice hummer backback, kid. It’s like a small hummer drove up on your back – wheels and all. I would love that if I was a kid. And some call it shameless marketing. I bet his classmates don’t think so.

– What a sad state of affairs for our society. Suing flowers.com for accidentally outing your affair by sending a you a thank you note for your order. Next time, pay cash, loser. Or better yet, don’t have an affair. Mental anguish – I credit the ambulance chaser for getting creative.

At that point I decided to be productive. Turned on some music and read some stuff. More to come. Thanks for riding with me.

Haven’t felt inspired by much over the past couple of weeks. Nothing has happened that I felt worthy of a full blog post. But, a weblog without the log ain’t much. So here we go: my writer’s block of random thoughts:

Random topic 1:
I’m a big fan of jukeboxes at bars. Drop in a few bucks and create a personal soundtrack for the round. Several years ago, I noticed some of the traditional music machines were being replaced by digital ones in NYC and Chicago. At first, I was impressed by all the lights and buttons…
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But in the end, they let me down. I don’t like them for several reasons: 1. They entice you with wide variety of albums on the touchscreen, only to be disappointed by the fact each album has only 2 or 3 songs available. The hits, if you will. Well, I want the whole album! False advertising if you ask me 2. The pricing structure is smart, I’ll admit, but it really ticks me off when some drunk breaks up my string of selections by purchasing the right to “Play It Now” for twice the price. 3. Because I’m now 31 and going through an anti-technology phase. Short-lived I’m sure.

I do give a pass to one digital jukebox I came across in Alice Springs, Australia. This outback staple, Bojangles Saloon, had a video jukebox. Pick an artist and song, and the music was accompanied by video on all the bar tv’s. Haven’t seen it here yet…

Random topic 2:
(Let me preface by saying I understand how lucky I am to be able to walk in to a medical office and get reasonable treatment) How come Dr. office waiting rooms are always so boring? And stagnant? Also, is there a worse site than walking in to a waiting area where every seat is filled? Says two things: you’re stuck putting the wait in waiting room, and it’s a germ party.

It’s the same abroad. Saw a Dr. in Wellington, New Zealand, at a walk-in clinic. Similarly crawling with dirty, loud kids and the I’m-that-loud-guy-on-my-cell-phone-in-a-common-area guy. We all know that guy. Why won’t that guy let us wait in peace?
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Random topic 3:
I’m really looking forward to the football season. It has been the longest summer for having no local sports action to speak of. Unfortunately, it’s off to an unusual start. The only news coming from my Texas Longhorns is in connection to criminal players. When did they turn into the Miami Hurricanes?
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We need some tough love down in Austin. It boggles my mind why these athletes with everything going for them will do things like rob apartments with a dose of aggravated assault. Can’t you buy your own nintendo when you get your NFL paycheck? I still hope some of these arrests are bogus and we’ll have some players left for opening day.

My work-related tunnel vision might be the cause, but does anyone know what’s going on with Taipei? Way back when, I blogged about sister cities. (Is it bad blog behavior to ping yourself?) I referenced many world destinations including Taipei.

This week, in spite of my blog inactivity, I’ve noticed the hits going way up. And it has been driven by searches for Taipei. All in the course of this week. Something’s going on.

So I attempted to satisfy my curiosity with my own search on Taipei… and here are the candidates. Riveting stuff, I know. Amazing what you can find out in 15 minutes thanks to the information superhighway.

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Perhaps it’s the fact President Chen is trying hard to convince the UN for representation under the name Taiwan.

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Perhaps, there’s some stirring about Chen’s potential stoppover in the U.S. on the way to Central America. DFW and a Lone Star stop, maybe? We’ve got a pretty cool international terminal… and some darn good barbecue.

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I think we missed Wikimania 2007. Sadly.

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My candidate is the Taipei 101 (named for its 101 floors), which has been recently overshadowed by a taller skyscraper in Dubai.

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Sorry Taipei, but you’ve got a few months left to boast about the size of your building.

In the meantime, if you’ve read this far, perhaps you too are world news deprived. Maybe you should start a blog!

Ladies and gents, we’ve surpassed our 100th blog post. Meaningless threshold, yes, but I thought it worth noting as Life’s A Trip is my first venture into the world of blogging. (Erin is more of a pro – it’s her second). What started out as more of a novelty has turned into quite an enjoyable hobby for me. And hopefully enjoyable for you, too. We appreciate your clicks and comments and willingness to share in our adventures more than you realize.

A good portion of our wonderful readers are friends and family. But some of our newer readers stumble into our community via some eclectic internet searches. That’s one of the perks of seeing a website work from behind the curtain. In personal celebration of our 100th, here are a few of my favorites searches:

Search: “thousand year old eggs horse urine”
The thousand year old eggs are quite a regular draw for us on search engines, and apparently, it’s tough to find pictures. Glad we could oblige. (Just click on the China tag and scroll if you want to see them again.) This search stuck out because it reminded me how unappetizing the eggstravagance really is. (Couldn’t resist) It was the only thing at Yung Kee worth talking about, as the goose was underrated. You can barely see the remaining half egg in the upper corner.
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Search: “guy with backpack at water park pissing”
Was hard to figure out how this one triggered our little humble site at first. Sure, the backpack was a big part of our adventures. Indeed, we’ve written about some water, but no water parks ring a bell. I sure don’t recall specifically writing about any of the latter part of this search phrase, though we did see some kids relieve themselves on the street… and in the water. Split pants are convenient, as illustrated here in Yangshuo, China.
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However, the search actually links to our kayak adventure thanks to a funny comment using foreign lingo (click on the New Zealand, Travel tag to see it)
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Search: “Life’s a trip TV show”

What a great idea!  Perhaps that’s next in our quest.  One day showing on a big screen like this one in Sydney during the Australian Open. We have instead updated our travel videos and will attempt to keep them fresh. Check them out!
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Search: “life’s a trip you know”

If I didn’t know before, I know now. Just seeing skits at the Sichuan Opera is enough to pinch yourself and say “is this for real?”
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Every step of the way, we saw some incredible stuff – and we’re trying to keep that same curious approach to everyday events back home. Life’s a trip doesn’t stop when vacation ends, you know?

Search: “dalla time zoon”
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Perhaps I planned this with a purposeful typo when discussing the Taronga “Zoon” instead of zoo. Anticipating internet typos is apparently big business according to this Dallas Morning News article. However, while it steered someone here, I must admit the accident… and wonder what actual question was left unanswered. (Dallas Time Zone?)

Search: “erin finds michael in philly”

… and they lived happily ever after.
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Again, not sure how this search drove the visit. We’ve never ventured to Philly, but we’ll get there eventually. There’s so much to see and so much to share. Every day is an adventure waiting to happen. Stay tuned.

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