Headed to warmer lands


The rough plans so far

The rough plans so far

On the left of the notes are two possible routes through Colombia. Both have me leaving Colombia around 1/7 or 1/8.

Salento at the top is an area within the coffee growing region that was strongly recommended by my friend Sid who was in Colombia two weeks before I arrive there.  You can do tours of the plantations and you are in a valley surrounded by thick, green mountains.  Good trail running!

In the middle of the notes is the important town of Nuqui where it seems everything ties to. It is the jumping off point for the Pacific Coast towns. You fly into there from Medellin or Quibdo, and then take a boat to various points along the coast. Juan Maria supposedly is a man I should seek out and ask for information.

Lower right corner of my notes are Coqui and Jobi, both 25 minutes boat ride from Nuqui. I was sold when my guidebook recommended visiting Jobi to “travel up the Rio Jurbida in dugout canoes to remote waterfalls”.

There are a couple of other noteworthy locations within 30-45 minutes from Nuqui by boat so could be some good day excursion opportunities. I found this seemingly helpful blog post but it’s hard to tell how old the post is. http://www.blogabond.com/CommentView.aspx?CommentID=109112

First night in Bogota booked

Actually the first two nights.  I’m flying out in two days and wanted to get my first couple of nights set so I can have a place to head to from the airport.  The hostel rooms look like they have some character http://www.hostelcasavioleta.com/

I land on Christmas morning and am planning on everything being closed, so I’ll probably end up exploring the city by foot and getting my bearings.  Then on the 26th I’ll figure out bus routes and the next stop.  I shouldn’t be surprised by it but today I read that this is very high tourist season and a couple of places I wanted to visit, Santa Marta and Tayrona National Park in the north get overrun and with some slightly horrific stories.  Namely, overrun toilets!  And price gouging and crowded beaches.

So now I’m looking to get to the much more remote and difficult to get to region west of Bogota on the Pacific Ocean.  The biggest town is Choco and the area offers jungles, beaches, turtles, whales and chilling with fishermen.  Sounds remote with a good chance of having an adventure.  Just my cup of tea.  Or coffee, since this is Colombia after all.

Video recap of the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim

Running the Grand Canyon R2R2R

Recap of my run across the Grand Canyon.  http://wp.me/p2aZqo-d4


When I moved to the states, this Fat Boys album was the first cassette I bought. This song is still just as fun. I like their dance moves at the 3:07 mark.

Getting hopscotch.fm to version 1.0

Getting hopscotch.fm to version 1.0

I just launched hopscotch.fm last week.  Be sure to check it out and if you’re interested, I wrote about how I got to building version 1.0.  And there’s more to come!

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

I got this recipe from my sister who got it from some website.  I tweaked it a bit to make it vegetarian friendly.  Rough list of the ingredients you’ll need:

  • 3 large sweet potatoes.  Dice them in little cubes so they boil quickly and so you can eat sooner.
  • 1 large onion.  Dice it up.
  • 1 package of Trader Joe’s Beef-less Ground Beef
  • 1 package of Trader Joe’s Organic Foursome.  It’s a frozen medley of carrots, peas and corn.
  • 2 tbsp of butter to mash the potatoes

Boil and mash the potatoes

First thing, preheat the oven to 400F.

Next, bring a pot of water to boiling.  Add the diced up potatoes and boil them for around 12 minutes.  You want them soft.  Once they’re boiled, mash them up in a bowl with the butter.  Set them aside.

Sautee and cook the onions and then add everything else

Heat a pan up, add some oil and then sautee the onions till they’re golden and shiny and they look delicious.  Add the ground beef and while it’s cooking I’d add a generous portion of sea salt and maybe something else from the spice cabinet.  I tried cumin this time and it was ok.  Black pepper may be a better call.

The ‘meat’ is already cooked so after a few minutes you can add the Foursome.  Once you’ve got it all in there, I’d add a cup of water to make things cook better.  Eyeball it and see what it needs.  Lower the temp, cover it and let it do its thing for 10 minutes or so.

Layer into the casserole dish

This is the easiest part.  Take the beef, veggie, onion mixture and put all of it in a casserole dish.  Smooth it out.  Then add the mashed potatoes across the top.  I like to get it pretty well covered all over and then with a fork bring up a few peaks to give it some texture.

Cook for 30 minutes; broil for 10 minutes

Place it in the oven, uncovered.  30 minutes will cook it.  After that, turn it up to Broil and let it cook for another 10 minutes.  This should make the potatoes a bit browner and firmer.

How to be ridiculously productive in an hour

What do Facebook, email, text messages and Perez Hilton all have in common?  They are great distractors from getting real work done.  If you’re like me, you’ll be in the middle of working when out of nowhere you’ll wonder if someone has commented on the funny picture you just posted on FB.  So you open a new browser tab, go to facebook and thirty minutes later you’re not sure how you quite got to looking at your prom date’s profile and wondering what if….  

So if you ever feel like you should be getting more work out of the time that you put into your work, here’s a way I’ve found to get a very solid and productive hour of work:

1) close all browser tabs not related to what I am working on. so no interruptions from gmail or facebook can happen.
2) exit out of Skype and IM clients so no interruptions from friends or questions from coworkers.
3) put my phone on airplane mode so no text messages or phone calls to interrupt
4) set a timer on my phone for 60 minutes and start working

60 minutes sounds like a long time but i’m always surprised how quickly it passes. the hour is always very productive and my level of concentration very high. and to reward myself, i move on to the final step:

5) immediately undo steps 1-4 and see what you missed in the world while you were being productive 🙂

Starting a new career as a software contractor

I recently switched from a full time employee with benefits, stock options, 401k, dental, vision and all that stuff we need to working as a contractor with none of those benefits.  I decided to make the change for a couple of reasons.

First, I found that I can’t work at a high level of productivity for 8-10 hours straight.  I typically have a good 2-3 hours in me before I need a break.  Second, spending the day time part of every one of my weekdays in an office just started feeling too restrictive.  On days when the sun is out and all I want to do is be outside at a park or at the beach, instead I’m in the office and closing the blinds to keep the sun out.  Not fun.

Third, this gives me a chance to start something myself.  I’m not starting a startup with a hot new product but I am working for myself, and this means I will need to promote myself, network a lot more and learn how to run an LLC.  All new stuff, all good stuff to learn.

Fourth, I want to spend more time with my family in Michigan.  With 2-3 weeks annual vacation, I find I get very stingy with my days off and that seems very backwards.  It’s my time, and I should be able to choose where and how I spend it.  And of course the freedom to travel abroad for a few weeks without having to ask permission. 

And finally, I want to try something new. I’ve been working as a full time corporate employee for the past fourteen years and have yet to start something on my own.  I’m already excited about the opportunity to start something new now and excited about the possibilities that may arise out of this.  

So with that, time to go meet a friend for coffee and then head to Kezar Stadium to run intervals for a few miles before coming back home and doing a bit more work.