European trip

I am currently on my first trip to Europe courtesy of winning two tickets at an office part late last year. I am traveling with my wife, Angela. Our daughter has been left in the care of her aunt Stephanie (and she is having a great time, according to the video chats and photos so far). In one sense this trip has been a mixed bag (for personal reason that I won’t detail on this blog), but a moderate success in other ways. Our trip has taken us to Greece by way of Amsterdam. First to Athens (where i am as I type this), then Santorini and Naxos. Our return trip home departs out of Rome 8 days from now.

Our flight left at 3:10PM from Atlanta, flying to Amsterdam in The Netherlands. It was the first time I have flown out of the international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson airport. The first leg to Amsterdam was 8 hours long. I was unable to get much sleep on the flight due to a few factors, but foremost due to my wife not really allowing me to get much time to sleep. The plane itself was nice. I got free Gogo WiFi courtesy of T-Mobile, though I was unable to take advantage of the free calls since my Nexus 5 does not have T-Mobile WiFi calling. Speeds varied greatly, but are generally on the slow side (which has been my experience with most free WiFi)

We landed in Amsterdam at 5:50AM for a 6-hour layover. Our plan was to leave the airport to see the city and meet up with a college friend of mine who lives 45 minutes away in The Hauge. Due to our my confusion and unfamiliarity with the train system and lack of Dutch language skills it took us an hour to get situated and get on the train to Amsterdam Central.

A couple of points – Amsterdam is often cool and cloudy/rainy in the summer (like Seattle or Portland). It was 60 degrees F, misty and windy when we arrived> I was dressed in shorts and a slightly thick t-shirt, so I was chilly. I later bought a zip-up sweatshirt for a local soccer team (go Amsterdam Ajax!), but being cold and uncomfortable definitely helped to slow our progress down. – Trains in Amsterdam are more relaxed than any other mass transit system I have taken in the USA. You are supposed to purchase an RFID-enabled ticket and then scan it before you descend to the platform where the trains are (and upon exit at your destination station)….but there is little to stop those who are ignorant (of the rules) or the unscrupulous from just walking down to the platform and boarding a train. There are no turnstiles that physically bar entry without a valid ticket. The only deterrent seems to be random sweeps by transit conductors on the train. -Amsterdam trains all have WiFi and many of them have two levels of seating.

We wandered around the station and the area right outside the station for while. It was 8AM, so very little in the way of shops or other sights were open. The highlight of the day was getting in contact and meeting with Pang, who went to college with me (same major). Reunions with good people will always brighten things. Pang welcomed us, shared friendship with my wife and me and showed us around a little bit. We did not have too much time after meeting her since she’d had to travel 45 minutes to come meet us and our flight out was at noon. Even so, she escorted us back to the airport and made our Amsterdam experience a great one.

The look of Amsterdam central itself reminds me somewhat of a cross between bits of Baltimore and Chicago…but not the architecture obviously. Some of the other alleyways and walks in the red light district reminded me of New Orleans. It was morning when we visited, so we did not see any ladies of the night.

Amsterdam is very international and the people themselves are very cosmopolitan and surprisingly diverse… though there are noticeably less people of asian or hispanic descent. Dutch is what you hear the most but a very very large portion of people in the city speak English. I do not think I would like living in Amsterdam Central though… its a bit too gritty and dirty for me. Some of the other areas we passed on the train seemed nicely landscaped though. Pang mentioned that The Hague is cleaner and has more of a family atmosphere.

Our flight to Athens was only 3 hours long. We landed and had more trouble with the train. We went all the way to the platform and then I had to go back up to get a ticket. Unfortunately the ticket office only accept cash (in Euros), so I had to jog all the way back into the airport to get cash Euros. By time that was done, we missed the first train and had to wait 25 minutes for the next.

The train ride from Athens airport to Syntagma station in the city was 45 minutes (15 stops). The train was almost empty when we got on and packed by time we got off. Athens has lots of rolling hills/mountains and graffiti all over the place. Syntagma square reminded me of the square in downtown Decatur. Lots of people, folks playing music, folks skateboarding, a few people selling wares. It was just after exiting the station that I bought a data SIM card from two 20-something wearing Vodaphone hats and shirts.

Bottle of wine for the wife, dinner for both of us and then some sleep. We woke up after a few hours (middle of the night local time) and were lucky enough to get some night time photos of the Acropolis, which is about a mile from our hotel. Plans today are to visit the Acropolis and then take the train back to the airport to fly to Santorini where we will have our first multi-night stay.

Thanks goodness, because traveling constantly on planes and trains gets very tiring very quickly.

I’m still around

Hey, I’m still around! Its been a couple of years and life has changed quite a bit. I have a wife, a daughter (a family!) and a different job. Biftec is gone (to who knows where, we don’t talk anymore), but my cousin is moving her blogging to riftwave! Check it out at

More posts soon, I promise. Here are pictures of the two women in my life:

Choosing the right domain name

There are a lot of important things to consider when you are buying a domain name, one of them is picking the right wordpress hosting company. There are also a lot of important things to consider when you are setting up a new website. However, if you follow the below list, your web site will be ready to be used soon.

First of all, don’t buy a domain name from a domain name reseller. A domain name reseller will typically sell you a name that is already registered with another domain name registrar. These domains are often “old” or “free” names that could be easily found on the Internet for free. Second, don’t buy an expired domain name from an “old” domain name registrar. This is a great way to ruin your website, which will be unusable by your customers for quite some time. Third, if you can afford it, buy the best domain names available, such as Namecheap or Godaddy. Many domain registrars now offer domain names for less than $10.

If you’re not sure where to get the best domain name or if you’re looking for a brand name or company name, check out The Name Inspector or Namecheap. There are a number of domain name registrars on Namecheap and they allow you to register as many names as you’d like for a set price.

Get Your Own Website

After registering a domain name, you’re ready to go! You can quickly set up an Ecommerce website, but your first order might be your first sales. If you’re an Etsy artist, your sales might begin with a few visitors to your site.

In that case, I recommend starting with an affiliate link to your Etsy store, which will help get you more visitors and generate sales. And if your Etsy store makes a lot of money, you can always use the funds to add more features or purchase other products.

Use Social Sharing Sites

I’m a big fan of Pinterest. If you post a lot of product-based content, it’s always a good idea to pin a few of your best items. This will help you get more exposure and will also be helpful for sales.

Make mine a 999? -Ducati Days in Alpharetta

Ducati held a test ride today at Atlanta Motor World, the Yamaha/Honda/Kawasaki/Ducati/Aprillia (yeah, that’s a lot of brands) dealership in Alpharetta, Georgia. I rode on over at around 9:00AM to sign myself up to test ride one of the 18 motorcycles they had brought out and to check out the open house at Atlanta Motor World.

At ~11:10AM I climbed onto Ducati’s fastest race bike, the 999 Testastretta…. a race-tuned V-twin with a 999 cc engine that puts out 143 hp and 112 NΒ·m (82.6 ftΒ·lbs) of torque that powers the 410 lbs machine. (For those of us not familiar with specs… its a wicked fast crotch rocket). I, and 18 other riders on Ducatis rode on a 20-mile loop with Ducati officials leading and watching over the ride, since some rides can be dangerous, and that’s why is important to know how much do motorcycle accident cost in case this happen. The particular bike that I rode was quite obviously a bike that has been on a racetrack or two (as evidenced by the wear on the rear tire and the presence of a steering damper). During the ride, I never got to put the bike through all its gears (to do so would probably have meant going speeds where you subsequently get put straight into either a jail cell or a cemetary plot), but I did get to lay on the throttle in a couple of places. Power everywhere… a deep throttle and a seemingly infinite well of torque. The 999 is quite easily the fastest vehicle (except for aircraft) that I have ever ridden.

Having just bought an R6, I am not really in the market for a new bike (much less one that costs ~$17,000.00).

Here is a photo of the bike that I rode right after I got off of it:

French Rocks!

Today I got to flex my mighty linguistic skills at work. A fax came in from our French representatives with a question on a piece of equipment, and so I got to call their offices up to answer it. Armed with a phrase that I quickly looked up, I made the call. When the reception answered, smooth as silk I said “Je suis Kevin Wilson de (yes, I do rock).
Then, not five minutes later I was on the phone with the most excited and whiny chinese man I’ve ever met. Our Taiwan representative called to moan and gripe about wanted to get a deal on some prices. Ordinarily a mandarin phrase or two is enough to soothe the sensibilities, but this guy was having none of that. Probably the funniest phone call that I’ve ever taken (except for when our Austrailian rep calls… that guy sounds *exactly* like the crocodile hunter and its everything I can do to not laugh or imitate his accent on the phone πŸ™‚

…and its only 10 o’clock! I hope my day hasn’t hit its peak too early.

-back to work

I’m a published photgrapher!

Back in February (around Valentine’s Day), I got a call from a photo acquisition service. They wanted to submit a 300 dpi version of a photo I took of Six Flags over Georgia (and had displayed on my web page) to their client for possible use in a middle school math textbook for Georgia. I sent them a copy of the original photo via e-mail and then heard back from them a few days later. Their client approved the photo and so they wanted to purchase the publishing rights from me! After doing some online searching and finding a guide for calculating freelance photography rates, we came to an arrangement. My check arrived a few days ago πŸ™‚

Before any of this happened, a friend of mine once compared me to Peter Parker, the nerdy protagonist who has Spider-Man as his alter-ego. Well, I guess the description was more apt than either of us realized I am slightly geeky and enjoy looking through mathematics references and Facebook stalking famous photographers… and in the comic/movie, Peter Parker works as a freelance photographer. Hmm… I wonder if that means I’ll be crawling on walls at some future time & place πŸ™‚

The photo I took was from my trip there in August, 2004 with Tony, Sarah, and Suzie (Rest In Peace πŸ™ ). Here is a copy of the version in my photo gallery:

Make mine a 99…

I have purchased a new motorcycle and upgraded from the GS500. Its really late, so I will keep this post brief. My new motorcycle is a 1999 Yamaha R6. Rode it home from Lawrenceville tonight (35 min in 49ΒΊF weather). I’m going to try to get a tag for it tomorrow. Here are some photos:


Justified & Ancient.
(and bound for Mu-mu Land)

Just floating along in the ether

Today was a very run-of the mill day. The only extraordinary thing to happen was 3 of my tumbling students getting their standing back tucks on the spring-board at job #2 (the gym). Incidentally, this post’s icon was taken tonight at job#2. One of my students shot it with my digital camera (at my behest).

I have finished painting my bedroom πŸ™‚ It came out quite nicely…. and I feel like the results were definitely worth the effort and almost worth the money. I learned two things: 1 – All coats (1st and 2nd) of thin paint colors (whites, blues) are best applied with *fresh* (unused) rollers and tins. 2 – Track lighting looks much better reflected off of a dark surface.

I now really enjoy being in my room during the evening. The cool walls give it a very nice ambience. I have 3 daytime photos, but only one nighttime photo of my room so far… I still haven’t cleaned all the clutter out of it from painting it, so better photos than these will have to come at a later date

People suck

My day went by alright…. but a special synergy of happenings has ruined my night and put me in a bad mood.
My ‘friend’ Verutzka seems to have come and gone from Atlanta without so much as a phone call, Rumbi (apparently in a bad mood) treated me like a stranger (even though we only bloody chat online), and my attempts to get out and make new friends don’t seem to be bearing much fruit (I had someone cancel on me).
I am pretty frustrated at the moment. The amount of energy I put into my efforts doesn’t seem to have any effect on their inevitable futility.

Remember remember, the 5th of November….

“Remember, remember, the 5th of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot;
I know of no reason, why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.”

Tonight I journeyed to the Medlock Crossing Regal Cinemas to see V for Vendetta, and WOW. This movie *floored* me. I have never read the Vertigo comic of the same name (upon which the movie is based), but I immediately took to the mysterious main character, V. He now stands out as the new standard by which I shall now regard all other heroes & protagonists, and not many of my now former-favorites can measure up to the high bar set. This movie has a lot going for it. Engaging clever dialog, action, plot twists, mystery and (dare I say it), the hottest, most alluring Sapphic character I have ever laid eyes on (I don’t usually get over-excited over something like that, but I will make a happy exception this time).
The rough plot follows the struggle of a citizen (Evey), and a revolutionary modern-day-Guy-Fawkes (V) against the future-set fascist regime that rules Great Britain.
If you are into mindless action movies, then you will fail to find anything particularly exemplary about this movie (except, perhaps for the 1812 overture πŸ™‚ ). However, those among us who enjoy some ‘cereberal’ seasoning with some of our guilty pleasures (like action movies) will find much to rave about in this film.
I’d see it again in an instant. Well worth the price of admission.

Room painting

I finally got sick of my el-cheapo little $2 desk lamp (which i got at a yard sale) with the popsicle stick lampshade that I cobbled together with elmer’s glue, so I went to the home depot and put some track lighting on the ceiling above my desk. This solved my lighting problem, but created another one… the increased illumination made my dirty walls more visible and bright… including the fact that they were in dire need of paint. So it was back to the home depot I went. I chose a shade of almost-blue purple for the walls (Gem). I have put a first coat on 1/3 of the room so far, but I am starting to toy with the idea of putting a lighter blue on one or two of the walls, or some kind of pattern.

Painting is fun, but it is also currently a pain in the ass because I don’t have anywhere to put my stuff while I am doing it. (My room is a disaster area x 3). At $24 a can, paint is also expensive if you choose a wrong color. I’ll run some photoshop simulations to see what colors I end up going with.

Jamaican Patties & Cao-cao bread! And close to home!

After inadvertently leaving my lunch at home today, I was forced to venture out at noon to find something to eat. I wandered about indecisively for 3 minutes on my bike until I decided to at least check out the menu at a Carribbean restauraunt about 1/4 of the way home from the office. I expected to find a very watered down, general menu with red beans and spanish rice or fried plantains being among the most exotic items, but it seems that Lady Serendipity is quite a coy mistress indeed :-). Much to my delight, I found ox-tail, Jamaican patties *and* cao-cao bread available for takeout! Previously, I had been making a 20-35 minute journey to Marietta or southeast Decatur to find such delights… but now that I realize that Carribbean Fiesta has them, I will be able to drive 10 minutes down the road from home, or 5 min from the office in order to get them. My only lament is that they do not also sell harddough bread and bun (not to my knowledge, anyways).

She’s coming!

I got her email today! One of the first friends I made when I came to Atlanta for school. She’s coming back to Atlanta! … but only for a week. Even so, its been a long long time and I’ve missed her being around. Can’t wait to see her again πŸ™‚ I wonder what we’ll talk about… I hope she’ll have time to hang out more than once πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Hurry back, Veru!

At least Sunday was better

Despite a really crappy Saturday…. thankfully, my Sunday did not hold any more direful surprises in store for me. I’ll did brood some, but a trip out and about the Atlanta metro area was enough to remedy some of my ailing spirits. I made my way to Smyrna (one of my old stomping grounds) to run an errand (*cough*buyacomicthatwassoldoutelsewhere*cough*), and decided to visit Valerie & Brannon since I was going to be within 1 mile of their house. Last year, I had promised to take Valerie out for a spin on the motorbike… but she had opted to wait until I had a few more months of riding experience behind me. So, since it was a warm Sunday, I strapped a spare helmet onto the bike and gave her a call to tell her that I was coming on over.
Being a bit nervous, she opted for a quick spin around the subdivision before heading out onto the road. I gave her the spare helmet to wear and off we were for a spin! This post’s icon is a picture of her on the passenger seat wearing my riding jacket. We took a 3-4 mile loop past Cumberland Mall and over I-285. We passed 3 motorcycles and one police officer on the way, thanfully we had our helmets on, we got them from Moto Central’s Website Here. I made sure to take it easy since I knew she was a bit afraid since bikes are dangerous. Nevertheless, much fun was had.
Upon my return to her house, Brannon took her place and also got to ride on the back (which proved to be a formidable task for my poor 40 hp motorcycle). Brannon had a few questions about riding in general after his ride. He has been thinking about learning to ride, but wants to wait until he has more time and money to purchase a bike (there is also the matter of a deal he made with Valerie, his wife, about her getting to spend an equal sum of money on any object of her desire ). Ah, marraige πŸ™‚

On the topic of motorcycles… I got to ride a 2002 Suzuki SV-650S that a co-worker rode in on today. Apparently it is for sale, and within my price range. I have been looking for a more powerful bike to upgrade to, but am very undecided about which model to get. The SV has a decent bit of power, but I think it inferior to my gs500 in terms of looks. Here is a picture of the the SV-650S that I rode:

Bad times

Yesterday, a phone call that I got took a turn for the worse. One of my friends whom I have been trying very hard to keep told me point blank that all of the contact had to stop because: it was making her snap at other people, she begrudges any of the time she decides to spend with me, and she doesn’t think I make a good friend (for her). Needless to say, it was upsetting to me. I have noticed a marked definite change in her actions… literally overnight, just before she originally broke off our romantic relationship. For the life of me, I can’t understand why she has this disdain for me. She says that i’m the only person she’s ever wanted to cut off in this way… yet when I ask her to look inside to give a reason she claims that I am the problem. Not anything I do, but the way that I am. I can’t accept that, seeing the way that her actions and her attitude has changed…. and how different she is when even one other person is with the two of us.
I’ve never noticed a hint before of emotional problems, nor this flippant regard for what we’ve shared. Its hard to not be angry at being thrown away despite making your noblest efforts and intentions. Did I make a bad choice? Can her heart be so black, spiteful with conceit?

I’m out of my depth here. There doesn’t seem to be any way to make her come to her senses. Whether she needs to grow up emotionally or lose a few of her friends in the same manner, I hope she can grow out of such a narrow-minded sense of value and priority… and at last be earnest, honest, and willing to work through problems and issues rather than deleting the good with the bad.

Amazing. Here I stand the recipient of her offenses, and yet here I am wishing her enlightenment despite it. Turn the other cheek, indeed.


Today was notable for a few different reasons. First, both of my managers at my job are in Barcelona (the b@st@rds went to SPAIN and didn’t take me! I @#$@# SPEAK SPANISH!!), so the dozen or so phone calls have been fielding in their stead have kept me from completing my increased work load.

Second, one of the engineers I work with took me to have dim-sum for lunch! During my college years, even though I had a slew of chinese friends I had unfortunately missed out on two seperate dim-sum outings due to bad timing and other obligations/priorities. The engineer who brought me to dim-sum’s name is Paul. Taiwanese by birth, he speaks chinese (mandarin), english, and japanese. Only Diego down the hall (german, spanish, english, bits of portuguese and italian) eclipses Paul’s linguistic flexibility. (I guess I come in third with fairly good spanish, basic japanese and even more basic mandarin). Anyways, dim-sum was very yummy. It is a Cantonese custom and means ‘snack’ in that dialect . Although i passed on the chicken feet (perish the thought), I did try a few new dishes. My favorite was the various types of baozi (steamed sweet dough dumplings with goodies in the middle!). The icon for this post is the barbecue pork baozi (whose chinese name escapes me for the moment). Unfortunately, during lunch I clumsily knocked my glass of water over with the back end of my chopsticks (embarassing… but they were really long). Nevertheless, I’ll be headed back for some more dim-sum in the near future :-), hopefully with a friend in tow.

Third, was the weather today! 72-degrees and GREAT riding weather for the motorcycle. I rode it to and from work and then around and about on minor errands and to pick up dinner. I also got to jog at the park near here (East Roswell Park). I put in my mile-and-a-half at a good pace. I started my cooldown lap just it time to recieve a call from the very lovely Natalie Ramsey who was returning an earlier called to inform me that she’d arrived in Denver. I am not sure whether it was the endorphins in my system from the jog, but we enjoyed a really warm conversation and traded a heartfelt pleasantry or two. I haven’t felt like she was a buddy since waaay back in Harris dorm, so our chat left me in pretty high spirits. I hope it endures when she makes visits back to Atlanta.

Good Luck out in Denver, Nat!

A weekend inside the perimeter

Rain on Saturday with a trip down to Atlantic Station (where I met a fellow descendant of Jamaicans). My Sunday (today) was far more memorable. Rumbi invited me to watch a play with her down at on Emory campus. It was one that she was required to watch for one of her classes this semester, but I’m always glad for any time that I can spend with her as company. The play was a classic comedy set in the colonial period (though written and produced in Britain); She Stoops To Conquer: Or, The Mistakes Of A Night written in 1773 by Oliver Goldsmith. We had a quick lunch before buying tickets for the show. Rumbi was a little quiet with me (as she is wont be lately), but I really enjoyed the play and my afternoon out. The basic gist of the plot has much ado about mistaken identity, young love, and social class. The cast was excellent, though I felt that the opening monologue looked a little forced, and the performance in the inital scenes involving Mrs. Dorothy Lumpkin Hardcastle (a character) felt a little off. Rumbi said that she also liked the play a lot, but I didn’t discuss my opinion of the performers or performance with her for fear of any criticism making me seem ungratfeul for being able to see it.

I do hope she soon gets out of the rut she tends to get in with me lately… here’s to hoping! πŸ™‚

I’m still around. I swear it

I feel like this web log is a poor neglected child. The last post I made (*ahem* 3 months ago) had a quick rundown on a few of the happenings and goings on in the time leading up to that post, so I will do the same here.
*Late November: My parents have mov to Lockerbie, Scotland! They will be living there for two years as my Dad works on a project with his company. As a result I am forced to switch cell-phone service providers and finally retire my previous-century’s model Startac in favor of a Motorola RAZR.
*My Canon S410 Elph Digital Camera dies after my attempt to fix the retractable lens problem (very common Canon Elph problem, apparently). 1-2 months later I purchase a Casio EX-S500 as a replacement.
*In January, I got myself swept up in a whirlwind romance with a very lovely and intelligent girl. An Emory senior, at times she seems to be almost as fickle as she is pretty… and so our romance only endured for one month.

Today is a very chilly Sunday (30Β°) and the 2nd day of the annual Cheersport Nationals Cheerleading Competitionat the Georgia World Congress Center. I attended yesterday (all our teams in first except for coed, whom I did not hear news of), but I will not be returning today. The rest of the day’s plans involve some self study in Japanese (answer pen-pal email, try to transcribe lyrics in “My Back Pages” by the Magokoro Bros), and hopefully a bit of Chinese (practical chinese reader). I also have to make a trip down to Emory to return a scarf…. hopefully that trip will bring more good things than it portends πŸ™‚

Iffy had a birthday party yesterday at his house. I met a few interesting folks (art students, I think… but older than me), but then I left about an hour earlier than I normally would have to catch the 2nd/3rd to last episode of Full Metal Alchemist (yeah, i’m hooked). I grabbed a few photos that I might put up later.

MΓ‘s tarde….

**PS** I forgot to add:
*Natalie ended her service with the Peace Corps in December. She is back in the States and is moving to Denver in a week to semi start anew/continue where she left off/find the love of her life. Here’s to hoping we can stay close( r) even though you’re going farther away.

Natalie and I (with Valerie) at dinner at an old college hangout (Eats on Ponce)

***Oh yeah…. bigger icons now! 150×150, baby!

Back to the story?

By my count, there has been a 3-month hiatus since my last entry. It is probably a bit of a cop-out to chalk it up to being busy… but that explanation is probably closest to the truth. In my 3-month absence from blogging I have:
1. Gotten a regular full time job (I work in sales, but am still working at the gym 2 nights a week)
2. Taken up yet another new hobby…. motorcycling! (I got a Suzuki GS500 about 2.5 months ago). This includes a trip to a WERA bike race where my friend Keith took 3rd in the nation!
3. Found out that my parents are moving to LONDON in about 3 weeks (they’ll be there for TWO YEARS)
4. Made preperations to try to get my life in more general order ( finally got a GA license, etc etc)
5. Been *trying* to get out and make/meet new friends (very little success with this thus far… my experience has been that its a hard thing to do unless you bar-hop or already have a lot friends that introduce you to other people)

I shall expound and elaborate on my adventures since this past summer, but as I type this I am sitting in a Mayflower hotel room in downtown Washington D.C. (I’m here for work, so I haven’t had a chance to visit my old homes in Springfield and Burke), and I have to meet my managers and co-workers down in the lobby in short order, so time is fleeting at the moment.

Photos to come….


P.S. YOu know, i might write more if i heard from you guys more often πŸ˜›

Narratives abound… these are my back pages