Friday, September 08, 2006

Costa Rica

Ok, so I'm a bad blogger. It seems that I only write anything when I return from an exotic locale.

We just returned from Costa Rica. I was there 12 years ago, and I was amazed at how built up the tourist industry has become. It's not quite Hawaii yet, but it's headed that way. We stayed at some very nice hotels. Last time I was there hot an cold running water was a rare commodity, but this time, we had all air conditioned rooms, cable tv (with many channels in English), and even a mini-fridge. It's still quite a bit cheaper than Hawaii, but not the $20/day level that I experienced in 1994 (more like $150/day).

But I don't think that the allure of Costa Rica is really the cost savings. It's the things that you find there that you can't find in other countries. For instance, you can see a sloth in the wild from 5 feet away, like this cute, lazy gentleman. We also saw monkeys, Aracari (smaller members of the toucan family), Agoutis which are 3 ft long rodent thingys, poisonous snakes and spiders, and many iguanas and other lizards (including the "Jesus Christ Lizard" who can run across the water). We also went on a night hike and met many varieties of Costa Rica's super-cute tree frog population, toured a butterfly reserve, and saw cranky wild crocodiles in a river.

You can see all of these creatures even with all the development, thanks to the forward thinking decision of the Costa Rican govenment to set aside 1/4 of the land in their country for nature reserves and national parks. So going there now is kind of the best of both worlds--comfortable accomodations a short distance away from amazing natural sites.

Another advantage of these parks is that they have some outstanding beaches. The one we went to, Manuel Antonio, allows your to swim in warm water on a relatively deserted beach with jungles behind it, take a nature hike through the park, and leave and go to a resturaunt a short walk away.

The other major destination that we visited was Arenal. It's an active volcano that continuously belches lava and volcanic rock. At night, it puts on one hell of show. Unfortunately, the memory card in our camera went belly-up so our Arenal pictures went into the void, but the view from our hotel's back porch at night looked a lot like this image. It was pretty cool to sit outside, drink beer and watch the volcano. Plus, the hotel that we stayed in, the Volcano Lodge, was a great place--excellent landscaping, food, pool area, etc.

We definitely want to go back and explore more of the country. Maybe in a couple of years. Here's a complete set of our pictures for your amusement.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


I just got back from 3 days in Singapore (plus 2 days travel time), and despite nearly constant exhaustion, I can report that the trip was sucessful and even a little bit relaxing as well. We went there to hold a sales training for our employees from Japan, India, Korea, Malaysia, and China. The training went pretty flawlessly and this allowed me and my colleagues to see a little bit of Singapore in the process.

Some Highlights:

Chili Crabs--One of Singapore's contibutions to world cuisine. It's a large malyasian crab deep fried in oil and then boiled in a mixture of tomato sauce, water, ginger, onions, soy sauce, red chilis, vinegar, and sugar. "Yummy" is an understatement. Even better, were the Pepper Crabs, essentially the same recipe, but replace the tomato sauce with an absurd amount of black pepper.

The Singapore Night Safari--The Singapore Zoo runs a tram ride through their park after hours which allows you to get up close and personal with some Malaysian animals like the Tapir, and to see (at a short, protected distance) some semi-nocturnal jungle cats when they are most active. I saw lions, tigers, and leopards running around and had some close encounters with 3 ft tall (5 ft wing span) fruit bats.

Little India--My Singaporean friend described it as the dirtiest part of Singapore. Of course, that is sort of like saying that it is the dirtiest part of an Intel clean room. Singapore is an immaculate, crime-free city that maintains it's place as the world biggest gated community with draconian law enforcement and liberal use of the death penalty. Little India is slightly less orderly, and the most vibrant, non-anticeptic section of Singapore that I found. Most importantly, it houses the Sim Lim Market--a five story mall for everything electronic and gadgety. I didn't buy, but I was tempted. Apparently when new electronics reach the ripe old age of two weeks from release, they are sold at 1/2 price.

I promise a Singapore part two post soon, but I'm about to collapse from exhaustion. So, for tonight, I'll leave it at that.

For more pictures click here.

--TinFoil Out

Saturday, April 29, 2006

RCRG Bout 2 Preview

While I wait for my embroidered rollerderby jacket to come in the mail from Sublime Stitching (hat tip to joygantic), I've been pondering the possibilities for bout two of the RCRG season tonight. Here are some things that I'll be looking for:

DLF v Sockit Wenches: This is a pretty dangerous matchup for the DLF. The speed of Grave Danger gave them no trouble last week, as the lovely ladies of the Revolution are still the biggest, baddest, blockers in the land, but the Sockit Wenches are different. Pia Mess has steadily improved and is easily in the top 5 jammers in the league, along with teammate Miss Fortune. We didn't get to see Drew Blood's full potential last year, since she was sidelined with a knee injury just when everyone's defense was getting good. I predict a close one, with some late game heroics from Burnett Down helping the DLF eek out a win. Also, a lot will depend on the health of Diva State--she is one of the best at knocking down the Sockit Wenches scrappy jammers. Watch the rivarly that's developed between BD and Miss Fortune, a lot of it is campy fun, but the hits are real, and Miss Fortune still hasn't been able to come out on the winning side.

Throttle Rockets v. Grave Danger--I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that if Darth Skater, Interplanet Janet, and Dirty Little Secret are in, the Throttle Rockets (who will be sporting their new uniforms tonight), will win by 10-15 points. If not, expect a close one. I still think that GD is the biggest wildcard this year since they've added big blockers Katrina Whip and Canuckle Sandwich to anchor the defense of Basket Casey, and a great new jammer in Rollin Bayou. I just don't think tonight's their night. Give them another couple of months to integrate the new pieces, and I wouldn't want to play them.

See ya tonight. If you couldn't get tickets this time, they're moving to the bigger hangar next bout, but still, buy early if you don't want to get shut out.

--TinFoil Out

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Fantasy Basketball

I won my Fantasy Basketball league last night, which is a good way to end months of choosing lineups, trading players, and pouring over stats. For those who aren't familiar with the process, you "draft" a team of 13 NBA players, and decide which ten you'll play each week. You match up with another team, and you win or lose is based on how your players perform in each of 9 statistical categories (points, rebounds, steals, etc.). There are also rotisserie leagues which determine a champion based on the cumulative stats for the year--I'm not a huge fan of these--if you fall behind or your best players get injured it's really hard to catch up.

Some leagues let you change your lineup every day, but I find setting a weekly lineup more challenging because:
  • You have to factor in how many games someone will play in a given week. If you have a player that gets 20 points a game, but is only playing 3 games, you might bench the better player in favor of one who averages 16 points a game and is playing 4.
  • You might have some players miss time for injuries or other reasons, and there's nothing you can do to replace them until the following week. This adds a heavy element of chance.

That said, it's sort of an empty victory to win the league. The main reason is that the Fantasy Basketball season ends on the last day of the NBA regular season, and many teams who are headed to the playoffs rest their best players, and teams who are not going to the playoffs rest their veterans in favor of rookies. This makes the "finals" of fantasy basketball come down to who has the most players actually playing. Still it was fun--I ended up winning by 1 point: 763-762. Winning is good.

If anyone is interested in joining a league next year, let me know. It's free.

--Tinfoil Out

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Back in Seattle again

I got back from the UK yesterday evening. The jetlag was pretty heinous the whole time I was there. My manager and I were both on the 10pm-2am sleep schedule the whole time. I slept the entire flight home (9 hours) and then managed another 7 last night. That's the most I've slept in a two day period, well, ever.

Not much time to see London--we were in meetings in Reading continuously--but we did manage to make a whirlwind tour of Harrod's, Marks and Spencer, and Harvey Nichols followed by an outstanding dinner at Chutney Mary.

The business part of the trip was outstanding. Our UK team members are great and we managed to come to agreement on a lot of issues and plan for some upcoming events. I was sitting in a meeting at one point, and I realized that I was working with people originally from: Japan, Egypt, New Zealand, Germany, and Palestine. Our program is like that. I routinely meet people from all over the world . . . It's great to see that level or frendliness and cooperation in our global company.

--TinFoil Out

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Blogging from 30,000 ft

So this is pretty cool . . . I'm on my way to London on SAS, and they have the Boeing Connexion wireless service, which is allowing me to post this from the air over Canada. The service is as fast as our home wireless network and it's going to make the flight much more interesting and allow me to *ahem* "work" on the way to London. :)

I'm also in business class for the second time in my life, and it is the only really civilized way to travel IMHO. Plenty of leg room--seats that lay flat--champagne on takeoff--sleepmasks, booties, and earplugs provided. I feel like Louis XIV or something . . . er, if he ever . . . you know, actually . . . flew anywhere. I heard that Condi Rice had to sleep on the floor of her plane the other day so I'm clearly getting a better deal that the Secretary of State. I'm trying not to get used to it--we have an eternal flight to Orlando coming up and that one will be coach all the way. Also, next year, we won't have the budget for this level of tomfoolery. In the meantime, hee hee :)

*Breaking news*--The scented hot towels aren't half bad either

In other (not so breaking) news, we saw Sia at the croc last night. She was outstanding! I also got to hang with my peeps, Sally, Mark, Phil, Gina, wifey, and (briefly) Dia. Check out some pics at joygantic.

--(Mile-high) Tinfoil Out

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Bout 1 Follow-ups and Bout 2 preview

It always warms my heart when the girls of the RCRG read the blog and respond. For those who don't comb over the comments of previous posts . . . some highlights:

  • Pris Toff let me know that the Throttle Rockets' new uniforms will be debuting at the next bout. No more tank toppy Throttle Rockets!
  • Someone calling himself the "the Professor" wrote in. (Dare I dream that it's the venerable Prof. Jake Stratton? His dissertation on "The Effects of Powerful Women Colliding with Innocent Spectators in a Vacuum" was riveting.) In any event, he provides the following update about the hair pulling fight in the DLF-GD bout: "It was D-Bomb of DLF (pronounced Da Bomb) who was pulling Femme Fatale's hair, dragging her along the ground. D-Bomb and Femme Fatale are real-life sisters, so expect that rivalry to explode this season as well!" At least they're keeping it in the family.
  • A sad note in the comments. PamOpticon . . . who is a great blocker, and whose Foucault-inspired name always added a literary component to the Rollergirls . . . has retired due to injury. Pam, you will be missed. Luckily for us, her new job is to "Stand in the middle and yell." Nice work if you can get it :)
  • mommacherry . . . who heroically allowed me to see most of the first bout by asking event staff to sit down . . . wants everyone to know that it's spelled "mommacherry" all one word, no caps. Clearly I should have checked the press guide on that one :)
  • Last, but not least--I mentioned how hardcore Burnett Down was for getting a tattoo of a heart with a "Roller Derby" banner. It turns out that many rollergirls got the mark when they attended a derby convention in Vegas this past year. Cherry Jubilee points out: "Four of the DLF girls have Roller Derby tattoos. In fact, a lot of RCRG girls got them in Vegas last year at RollerCon. Mine has my name in a banner across the skate, because I'm narcisistic like that. "
  • It wasn't only the DLF who got RollerDerby tats, though. The lovely and talented Jo Jo Stiletto of the Sockit Wenches got herself a derby tattoo too, but she decided to show her colors across the back of her neck. Tattoos on bone--ouchy. Tattoos on your spinal column--super ouchy. Jo Jo wins my (soon to be monthy) award for "hardcore-rollergirl-of the-month." Way to go Ms. Stiletto!

I can't wait for the next bout. I think that the Throttle Rockets and Grave danger match up is a huge wild card. They both underpreformed in bout 1, but both have a huge upside. If Darth is back, along with Dirty Little Secret and Interplanet Janet, anything can happen. On the other hand, if the no-longer-undersized Grave Danger might just beat down the Throttle Rockets if they can get their speedy little jammers through the pack.

For the DLF-Sockit Wenches bout. The Socikt Wenches have always created matchup problems for the DLF. In a meeting last year, Burnett Down had to upend Miss Fortune as time expired for the DLF twice to pull out the win. In a regular season 1 point victory--Burnett actually was the only person that Miss Fortune had to pass to tie (with disasterous consequences for Miss Fortune), and in the Semi-finals , Burnett had to pull out a pre-jam smackdown that all but sealed it. I think that the DLF is more more equipped defensively to handle the smaller, speedy jammers of the Throttle Rockets, and Grave Danger. But the tall, tough, wirey Sockit Wenches jammers always give them trouble. We'll see. I'm expecting a nail-biter here. The re-surgent Sockit Wenches are the biggest threat to the Revolution this year.

As I mentioned--If you haven't bought tickets yet . . . You're in danger of missing out. What the hell are you waiting for?

--TinFoil Out