4th Grade Photos… Seriously!

Today I came across some photo disks from 1994. My dad used to send his undeveloped film out to Seattle Photo Works, and they’d send back the developed photos and these disks with photos on them in some strange format that thankfully GraphicConverter for Mac can read. I found three disks in total, two of which just have scenery or tourism attractions in Ottawa, Canada, respectively. But one has two photos from the first Vienna trip my family ever took (the real Vienna Trip I!). Additionally there were a couple of my spring concert as a 4th grader in the African Road Elementary Orchestra. Most of the photos are of my family’s pool being built. All these photos were taken in May 1994.
4th Grade: Pool Construction & Vienna

Convocation, Commencement, Etc.

Commencement photo with Austrian flag in backgroundIt’s time to finally synchronize my weblog with my life again…
I passed all my exams and graduated… I suppose that’s the main point that’s conveyed in this entry here!
Let’s start Wednesday night, about nine hours after I handed in my last assignment. There was this thing downtown called Senior Celebration going on. Mike and I took public down there, had four or so beers (at least one was free), talked to people, and then hopped on some shuttle back to the Hill. We told the driver to drop us off at Faegan’s, where we spent another couple hours.
Saturday at 9 a.m. (way to early) was convocation. Convocation is like a mini commencement for just your college (SU has somewhere around 13). Being in the largest college, Arts & Sciences, this took forever. There were a couple of speakers and then they called every single name so we could get an Arts & Sciences pin. Weeew!
Faegans before commencementMy parents came up Saturday afternoon, and after we had dinner at Danzer’s German Restaurant, I went out to Faegan’s, and had one of the best nights I’ve had in years. Nights out haven’t been fun in ages, as it seems everyone just stands/sits around. Friday night, however, everyone was having about as much fun as if they were at a high school house party.
Sunday morning I got up at 6:15. Subsequently, Mike and I were among the first people at the Carrier Dome, which assured us front row seats of our section. We were about as close to the stage as you can get as an undergraduate (about five rows in).
Billy Joel at the Syracuse University and SUNY ESF Commencement 2006Commencement wasn’t bad. Billy Joel gave a short repetitive speech, but everyone forgave him because he’s not much of a talker. He led the crowd through a Syracuse University version of “Down in New Orleans”, which you can see here. That night everyone went out one last time for Senior Sendoff at Faegan’s, which was decent.
Monday I stuffed about as much junk into my Saturn as it could hold and headed home. Tuesday I drove my dad to JFK Airport. Thursday I went back up to the apartment with my parents’ Subaru and crammed it up as well. This Wednesday my mom and I will rent a van and finish off the move-out, taking home big items like my bed and my desk.
I’m trying to obtain some order in my parents’ basement, while also starting to pack for Vienna. I leave Sunday afternoon and get there Monday night… Yeah, that’s another story.

Almost Done

So I took over three weeks off from webloging. I’ve been finishing off here at Syracuse University, and not much has happened in the last few weeks. I had to somehow survive two horribly hard classes, chemistry and calculus, as well as finish up other requirements.
My chemistry final last week went pretty well. My calculus final was pretty hard. I just hope there’s some curving there to help me out. Commencement is this Sunday, and I will be flying out to Vienna on May 28.
That’s all there’s really to say right now. I am currently working on a ten-page final essay on Austria and fascism, which is due in slightly less than eleven hours. Then it will all be over.

Scandinavian Break 2006

Scandinavian Break 2006Staying true to my character, I put off posting about my spring break for over two weeks, simply because I realized that it would require a lot of writing. But now the time has come.
We left Friday morning (March 10) at around 9 am. We were shocked by the heat as we stepped out of our apartment, as it was around 60°F (16°C). After driving both our cars down to my parents’ house in Vestal and having breakfast, we continued on in my car to the Newark Airport, where, after a time-consuming parking spot hunt, we took the monorail to the proper terminal and checked in. By now it was well over 70°F (21°C).
As we had been unable to previously reserve exit row seats or even seats next to each other, I got in line about 30 minutes before the gate counter opened. This proved somewhat successful, as we both received aisle seats across from each other. The flight was delayed coming in and delayed pushing back, but was otherwise good. Once landing in Copenhagen, we were delayed docking to the gate as some Thai Airlines plane was delayed leaving the gate.
Once getting into the airport, however, things went great. We got through the airport really quickly (the wood flooring is amazing by the way), and got a ticket for a train into the city that left almost immediately. As we got out of the train at Copenhagen Central Station, Jesper was coming down the stairs to great us. After a hilarious cab ride, we arrived at his apartment in Frederiksberg. After watching about an hour of random Danish television, Mike and I took a nap to work off some our missed sleep.
After waking up we ordered some pizza from the local “Pizza Burger House” (with assistance of course). We ate quite a lot from that place the first coupled days. Shortly after seven that evening we headed out to what would be a very long night. It all started at this place called L.A. Bar, which at this early hour and due to its small size looked like a neighborhood bar. The only customers for the first hour or so were Jesper, Mike, myself, and this Danish dude who had lived in California or something.
I gave Karen a call, and she showed up shortly afterwards. That’s when I found out that L.A. Bar is pretty well known (although I still didn’t understand why at this point). All of us went upstairs where I was surprised to find a dancefloor, which was completely empty at this early hour though. Emil showed up around this time too. For the first time in my life I had friends from Vestal, Vienna, and Syracuse, all at the same table.
We stayed at L.A. Bar a good while longer, until other people actually started showing up there! We eventually went to a place next door called Moose, which is like the Chuck’s (Syracuse) or Paddy’s (Vienna) of Copenhagen. After about an hour there, we went back to L.A. Bar, which had now heated up to the point that there was a line out the door and a coat check.
Many hours later, when I finally wanted to leave this fine establishment, I noticed that I had lost my coat check ticket. Despite my pleas, the staff wouldn’t give me my coat back. Fortunately Jesper was able to work it out. It had also helped that I had a post-it note with my name on it inside one of my pockets. After a long subway ride and walk, Jesper and I made it back to his place. It was quite the way to start a vacation.
As could be imagined, not much was going on with us the next day. A lot of Danish TV and more Pizza Burger House pizza! The evening (although later this time), we went to Rub ‘A Dub, apparently the place to be Sunday nights. This live reggae joint was pretty cool. We only stayed until one or two though, as Jesper had class in the morning, and Mike and I were pretty tired as well.
Monday Mike and I locked ourselves out of Jesper’s apartment for four hours, as apparently we were ringing the wrong doorbell. We wandered around Frederiksberg (an independent enclave in Copenhagen) to kill time, checking out a supermarket (which had several kinds of Brooklyn Beer from Utica, amazingly) and a pharmacy (long line). After finding out the correct button to push, which was achieved by calling Jesper’s cell phone from a phone booth (I had left my phone in the apartment but luckily had his number on a sheet of paper), we were able to get back into the apartment. After Jesper got home we took an approximately forty-minute walk from his apartment to Christiania (via downtown).
Christiania is quite possibly one of the shadiest places in the developed world, and we left shortly after entering. It is nevertheless worthwhile to see if you visit Copenhagen, although you might prefer doing so in daylight. We subsequently took the subway back to Frederiksberg and went to sleep not much later after that.
Tuesday morning it was time to leave Copenhagen in order to check out Sweden. We got on a train around two, and about twenty minutes later were at the Malmö South Railway station. We picked up our rental car keys (they didn’t even ask for ID), and started the six-hour trip to Stockholm. Since Mike had been sick since Sunday night, I drove the entire way, which was further complicated by some snow during the last hour or so.
To make a long story short, we were screwed over by Travelocity, because it turns out our hotel was located in the probably furthest-out suburb of Stockholm, Södertälje. Luckily the hotel was located adjacent to a terminus of the Greater Stockholm commuter rail system (Stockholms pendeltåg). We took advantage of this train for two roundtrips: The first was Wednesday for stereotypical sightseeing, and the second was Thursday night to check out the nightlife.
Stockholm is a very confusing city, especially for nightlife. Thursday night we took the train to Södermalm (Stockholm South Station) and wandered around on the supposedly happenin’ street. Unfortunately it didn’t seem too exciting, and the prices were ridiculous. Correctly assuming that there would be cheaper places down side roads, we wondered around until we found a “decently priced” establishment, where we had a couple beers.
By 9:30 the next morning we were on our way to Gothenburg, a ride that included a stretch of annoying alternating three-lane highway between Jönköping and Borås. Additionally, our car ran out of washer fluid, and we had to pay the equivalent of $7 for a tiny bottle.
Upon arriving in Gothenburg, we helplessly drove around trying to find the street called Kungsportsavenyn or simple “Avenyn,” the main street of this city. After a stop at a 7-Eleven, we were able to find it. I’m pretty sure that at one point I drove down the middle of a pedestrian zone!
In Gothenburg we were located in the Best Western Mornington Hotel, the most centrally located hotel of all. Quite a difference from our Södertälje experience! Shortly after arriving I called up Johanna, and we had coffee with her and two of her friends in a small shopping mall. Subsequently, Mike and I killed a couple hours writing postcards and essentially watching American TV with subtitles (Scandinavia is saturated with it). Around eleven we then went out looking for a decently priced location to celebrate St. Paddy’s day. We found a place two blocks from our hotel and stayed there until two. At least I can tell you that Gothenburg has a healthy nightlife scene. I still heard life outside at 5:30 am, after waking up in the middle of the night.
Around noon the next morning we left to return the car to Malmö and get back to Copenhagen. It was a very uneventful ride until Mälmo, where it took us ages to find the train station we had rented the car from. Finally around three it was back across the Oresund Bridge to Copenhagen, where we were this time picked up by Emil at the Østerbro station. As Emil correctly stated, everything in Østerbro is “about ten minutes” away. We walked to his apartment and then shortly afterwards to this food place where I bought the largest burger of my life.
We went out pretty late that night (around midnight). We missed the last normal bus by about ten seconds and had to thus walk about twenty minutes to catch a nightbus. This took us out to the suburb where the house party we were going to was. Along the way several of Emil’s (in these circles known as ‘Buff’) friends got on. The party was pretty cool as we were able to hang out with cool Danes, including members of the band Pix Lips, which Emil/Buff is the guitarist of.
After leaving this party, the night wasn’t over yet! We got on a cab and headed downtown to a bar, where we stayed until closing time (5 am). After hardly any sleep, and oversleeping by over an hour, we frantically left Emil’s apartment and started hurrying towards a main road to catch a cab. I guess we had forgotten about the “about ten minutes” rule of Østerbro, as we came across its train station and realized we were actually making good time and could take the train.
We checked in on time and got to the gate before most people, and everything went fine from there. After stopping by my parents’ house so Mike could pick up his car around eight that evening, we made it back to Syracuse around 9:30.
Despite having its low points, our “Scandinavian Break” was great. We got to see several cities of Scandinavaia, I got to see a total of four of my Vestal and Vienna friends, and we were able to spend sometime in the quite possibly coolest continent on Earth… Although as Johanna and I still both agree, nothing can match Vienna’s status as the best city in the world!
Special thanks are in order to Emil and Jesper, who housed us for a total of four nights and went out of their way to make it a great trip for us. This includes Jesper getting up at an early hour to pick us up form the train station and going out with us on a Sunday night despite having class the next morning. And of course there’s Emil, who picked us up from Østerbro on very short notice and who went out with us on very late notice! And if it hadn’t been for Jesper’s coat-negoiating skills, I would have been very, very, cold the first Saturday night!
Now I’m back in Syracuse, in well, I suppose the best city in Upstate New York, hah. Oh well, its not all that bad. If a cocktail of required chemistry and calculus classes didn’t plague me, maybe I could actually enjoy it more.
On a side note, at over 1900 words, this is most certainly the longest weblog entry I have ever written. Hopefully I’ll keep this thing updated on a more daily basis, so it won’t have to come to this again. But knowing myself, it most certainly will!
Want a retro trip report? How about Vienna Trip II from three years ago (March 2003). Those were the days…

Scandinavia Trip 2006

Scandinavian Break 2006It’s about time I mention my spring break. Mike and I are doing a little tour of Denmark and Sweden. Here’s the more-or-less completed schedule, that took us awhile to decide upon:
Friday, March 10: Drive down to Newark Liberty Airport and fly SAS to Copenhagen
Saturday: Arrive in Copenhagen
Tuesday: Take the train over to Malmö, Sweden, rent a car, and drive to Stockholm
Friday, March 17: Drive to Gothenburg
Saturday: Drive back to Malmö and take the train back to Copenhagen
Sunday: Fly back to Newark and drive back to Syracuse

Valentine’s Day is Nothing but Christmas II

Think about it… Take Christmas, change green to pink (keep the red and white), replace Santa Claus with chocolate, and you get Valentine’s Day.
Working at Target has shown me that holidays are nothing but different color crayons shading in stencils. We have a section called “Mini-Seasonal,” which contains all the food products and other small accessories for each respective holiday. What really changes as the seasons pass? Not much but the colors. In essentially the exact same spot that you could find christmas cookie cutters, frosting, and sprinkles just two months ago, you can now find the equivalent for Valentine’s Day. The shapes of the cutters have changed from trees to hearts, and the frosting and sprinkles have merely changed from green/red/white to pink/red/white. Starting later this week you’ll be able to see bunnies and green/yellow/pink. And the cycle continues…
What does my Valentine’s Day look like? I start off with a German class, followed by a horribly hard chemistry test. After that it’s straight off to another German class and a chemistry recitation. To finish my evening I have a three-hour chemistry lab.
Happy Valentine’s Day.

Homicide

homicide.jpgLast Friday night (actually Saturday morning), I was driving home from Fayetteville, the Syracuse suburb where I work. I had worked until about 10:15 and then went to Pizzeria Uno across the parking lot. I left there around 12:35, and around 12:55 I was standing at the traffic light at the corner of Coumbus Ave. and East Fayette Street. This is about one mile from where I live.
There’s a bar there called Club DC, and as I was waiting at that traffic light, I suddenly saw about a dozen people streaming out of it, over to a parking lot across the street. The traffic light turned green, and I slowly drove forward, where I noticed they were helping a man lying in the parking lot, very close to the street. I thought he was just lying there from over-consumption of alcohol or something else, and I continued driving home.
Two mornings later, while sitting in the break room at Target and reading the newspaper, an article about Syracuse’s first homicide of the year caught my eye. I was shocked to read that that man that I had seen lying on the ground was the victim. He had died at University Hospital shortly after I had seen him.
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Sleeping Problems

Maybe I’m becoming old, but my sleep schedule has been a mess since returning to college after two weeks in Vienna. First I wasn’t getting enough sleep, then I was sleeping too much, and now I’m waking up three times a night.
Then there’s my over-ambition to get up early to do work. This morning I had set my alarms to 7:30, but instead got up at around 9:45, after resetting the alarms in 15-30 minute intervals, which didn’t allow me to go back into a deep sleep anyway, but rather really crazy disturbing dreams.
For some reason I thought my calculus class was at 12:15, so I franticly finished my homework for that class by around 11:15. It wasn’t until I was putting up an away message (and calculating the time I’d be back home), that I realized the class starts at 2:15.

A New Year

It’s been a couple days since I updated, I know. Once again, when I take a ton of photos, written commentary isn’t as necessary.
The most important night of the last week was New Year’s Eve. Overall, I had quite a bit of fun. It started around 10 when I met up with a bunch of my friends at Nightfly’s. This locality is nice, but the 7-euro-and-up menu is ridiculous. In any case, we stayed there until 11:45, when we began to fight our way through the 650,000 people that were downtown, in order to get as close to the center square as possible. It was insane.
As soon as midnight came and went, we continued on fighting our way over to a less-traveled side street. This took a good 20 minutes. We then walked over to Lukas, where we spent around 30 minutes. Some of my friends split off and took a detour via Merry Monk, but we all ended up at Paddy’s not too much later.
We spent quite some time at Paddy’s, over an hour and a half. We then made our way to the Landstraße District, to go to a houseparty. We ran into everyone leaving that party shortly before getting there, so we then all decided to go back to Lukas, where we also spent over another hour and a half.
That’s a pretty decent summary. I have posted 102 photos from that night here. A video will be coming out soon as well.

When Vienna Became Syracuse…

Vienna in the SnowFor some reason, whenever I visit Vienna during the winter, I bring Syracuse weather with me. It has been snowing like crazy the past few days, just like it did when I was here two years ago during this time. It’s all kind of strange, because when I went to high school here, it hardly snowed at all.
Anyways, I had a set of good flights from Binghamton to Vienna, nothing really to complain about. I met up at Merry Monk with Oliver and Thorsten the first night, later replacing them with Daniel Rhodes at Lukas, where just about anybody who used to or still goes to AIS Vienna, and was in Vienna, was at. After several hours of that, I went home and still stayed up awhile longer, perhaps aided by my jetlag.
Except taking one trip to the bank, I stayed in all of Thursday during the day, but was quite ready to go out that night. I met up with Thorsten and Martin at Köö and played some pool. Subsequently we went to Merry Monk, after which I convinced a reluctant Thorsten to join me for the rest of the night.
Thorsten’s reluctancy changed quickly after we entered Lukas and he found out Peaches and Emily from our class were in town. Their respective sisters escorted us to Chill Out, a bar down the street. We spent over an hour there, which seemed to fly by pretty quickly. I then explained the nightbus system to Peaches and Emily, just in time to see my own nightbus, the N60, pull up, which I quickly jumped on.
I’ve really missed Vienna. I could go on for hours about that, but I think those first four words sum it up pretty good. Now it’s time for dinner and another great night.