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26 June, 2012

The Most Epic Trip Ever

I probably didn't build up the holiday enough on this blog, sure I mentioned it as it was about to happen, but to say it was going to be the greatest holiday ever in the history of history probably could have done with a bit more build-up.

Of course, it's easy with hindsight to say that I could have sold the fact that it was going to be ridiculously epic, but believe me, every man and his cat knew I was going on this holiday and that I went in with an agenda for it to be the best thing that's ever happened to me.

It delivered.
It fucking delivered.
It fucking delivered and had extra cheese.

But I didn't experience it in the way I envisaged. I envisaged this ongoing, perpetual high that only improved as time progressed and was more akin to travel I'd done in places like Asia.

The fact was, I'd only done Asia, and the fact was, I'd done it predominantly solo.

This trip was different: it was longer, not in Asia, and was in a group. Boy, did I learn the latter was a game-changer very quickly. But we'll come back to that, I think we'll commence with something that sets itself up... let's start with the bet.

I even make this look like an effort, that will change, soon

The bet was an undertaking whereby I wanted to move 20kg in six months, I started it just prior to going on holiday. Do not doubt for a second that I'm serious about this endeavour, but also don't doubt for a second that I'm not going to let it obscure my holiday in Europe for the first time. Actually, come to think of it, starting off with the bet is a shit way to get this story started. Sure, it needs to be acknowledged, but we need to kick this shit off with a motherfucking rainbow...

Here be a motherfucking rainbow

Rainbows are great, and I'd liken it to my trip with a clever analogy, but I can't be fucked right now and we'll probably park that for now until I drop it like a bomb at the end of this tale and you realise you forgot about it and I'm all like hey, I be a clever writer.

The shot of the rainbow was taken just before my trip to Europe, I'd moved back to Sydney from Singapore and was in this bizarre twilight zone where I was settling back in Australia but not. I checked out a few places to live, acquainted myself with some of my best friends, and basically hinted at the fact that my life was going to get ten times more awesome than theirs in the coming month. If you're one of those friends reading this currently and wondering if I actually delivered on this promise, then suck shit - it was actually 20 times more awesome than you could possibly envisaged, except a friend I won't mention, he left me this heartfelt message on Facebook the day I left:
Oi. Have a fucking incredible trip cunt. Awesome seeing you the other night, and good having you back in the country for good this time. I missed you while you were in Singapore. Stay safe, but also smash the fuck out of it on your holiday.
I love my friends.

But where were we? Oh yeah I was about to commence my holiday. I jumped on the plane, hit up my tablet and finally got why Breaking Bad is considered good television, and chatted to an old grandmother from Scotland. Oh wait I blogged about that. And eventually I hit.

First stop : London

If you're a new reader to this blog, you won't know this, unless you know me in the flesh, then you will definitely know this. I plan to be in one of three cities in the next 18 months: London, New York, or San Francisco.

I cannot stop crapping on about my plans and I'm now getting categorical eye-rolls from my friends whenever I mention them, rest assured though you non-sympathetic bottom-dredgers, I will deliver on my plan.

But I digress, the point I was trying to make was that London wasn't high-up on the expectations list. I have friends there and all, but if I'm eventually going to move there anyway what's the point in getting excited about it?

Boy did I get proved wrong. In world record speed (I daresay even faster than my first foray into Chiang Mai), I was crapping on about the textures of the city, appreciating its public transport system, and reveling in the fact there were people in the pubs, all the goddamn time!

I fell in love. I finally understood why half of Australia goes there. I even soaked up some of the sights.

Normally I caption each photo, but I think you get the general theme here

The people blew me away. All of my Australian acquaintances welcomed me with open arms. They asked questions such as 'when are you moving here?', 'you alright?' and 'can you father my children'?*

I spent six days there, working in the Google London office for three of them. The work made it a bit of an intermission, but oh my, what an intermission it was. I love London, and it's really thrown a spanner in the works for San Fran's and New York's hopes, but it was just the beginning, and each trip needs a middle, a hearty middle nestled within Spain.

Second stop : Barcelona

Oh my, what a fantastic nose you have

The first real thing we remember about getting there, was being told to watch my bags as I was a target. It wasn't a warm welcome. But that element of danger boded well for the adventurous occasions that ensued.

By jove, I have never, and probably will never, party as hard as I did in Barcelona.

Going there for Sonar Festival was incidental, it was the parties off the festival that made the trip so worth it. Riddle me this:
This was just warming up, that's right, the sun was shining and the tunes were belting

Picture this. Three of your best friends, a pumping dancefloor, trollied off your nut, listening to an up-and-coming DJ/Producer, and then John Paul Young's Love is in the Air comes on. Can you picture the magic that went down at that particular moment? Can you imagine 500 sweaty people singing in unison to one of the cheesiest Australian songs ever in the history of the world being played 25 years later on the other side of the earth? And then hearing tune of the European Summer being dropped immediately thereafter?

It's pretty hard to articulate, but man, you wish you were there.

That was near the beginning. And it was a party we weren't even originally going to attend. And there were at least 20 similar parties going on that week. And... hey, I don't even want to sell it to you, more room for me to boogie next year.

Other things happened, including seeing Derrick Carter in a club, Richie Hawtin at a street festival, and then going to the best party in the universe.

Derrick is the black blob to the left, I'm the blob in the middle

Panorama of the best party of the year, Minus @ The Boo Beach Club, Barcelona... what a GREAT DAY

Barcelona absolutely rocked my socks, I partied like I'd never partied before, and enjoyed the shit out the tapas culture as well.

How could you not enjoy the shit out of this?

But whereas Deadmau5 is content to fax the next destination, I was going for gold, I was headed to...

Third stop : Berlin

There is not a single person in my friendship circle that doesn't think Berlin is where it's at. And now I get why. It totally owns, where London had the element of surprise, and Barcelona had the element of party-ness (I just made that word up), Berlin had completeness. It was the entire package, and I even took in the sights this time, more so than the other cities.

I believe this square is composed of rich mahogany, and the archway was once a resting port for breaching whales, yes, I'm quite sure I'm right

I checked out the Holocaust museum, wow, after a week of partying in Barcelona that was a lot to handle. I'm glad I went, but you could feel how overwhelming the tragedy was less-than-a-lifetime ago. But you know me, I like to keep things light, and I kept it gangster by saying bo selecta...

The Marshful Dodger

I took the most photos in Berlin. And I'm not even a photographer. We had a great mixture of company, schnitzels, broken weather, and just a dash of partying. And while I'm throwing around a lot of "of the years" here's another one. I went to the concert of the year (for me). I got to see New Order, a band I've long idolised post-high-school, and who helped me through some really crap times. My friend had arranged tickets to see them on Thursday night in Berlin and they did not disappoint.
I should have stolen this poster as a souvenir

While I consider myself articulate, describing what went down at that concert from an emotional perspective is difficult. I had built them up in my head so much that I doubt they would ever transcend the lofty heights in which I had placed them, but even taking that into consideration they still blew me away. Hearing Crystal live was always going to be underwhelming. It's a very slickly produced track, but as I cried and cheered and absorbed it definitely brought a sense of closure to what has been an integral part of my story.
New Order playing Regret in Berlin

Hearing Regret - a song with a huge history between me and one of my mates was special, and then when Bizarre Love Triangle came on I peaked, and there was many a joyous hug. I'm kind of disappointed I didn't lose my voice, but I gave it a good nudge.

With all this happening, a normal person would be content to let the holiday peter out, and call it stumps. But, ladies and gentlemen, we be entering the bonus round...

Bonus round : Amsterdam

Initially, I was of the opinion that including another city in this sojourn was over-ambitious, and should best be put at back of mind, but after chatting with friends and experiencing group-holiday-politics for the first time, I booked a last-minute trip to Amsterdam for the night to go to Defqon.1 - a hardstyle (and other genres) festival that was not for the faint of heart.

After everything that had happened leading up to this, I was wondering if I had bitten off more than I could chew. After all - who wants to push their luck when they're clearly #winning already?

Well, what an epic show. The only artist I knew on the line-up was Scot Project - not only did he deliver - but the dozens of unknowns that I also encountered delivered as well. The vibe was amazing. My approach was to embrace the experience and take it for what it was, a bit of long-distance fun with one of my closest friends.

It was the right approach. 

Juxtapose the trip there:
Boring town

With the most amazing visual experience I've ever encountered:

This be the mind-blowing shit

It wasn't all apples

Now all I've done is spout positivity, despite hinting at the fact that the trip didn't enjoy ideal group dynamics at the start of this entry.

There was some lowlights, they included:
  • Losing my debit card to an ATM and being without cash for five days
  • Quickly realising that group-travel isn't harmonious and utopian
  • Spending unnecessary amounts of money on things I didn't need
  • Realising that Defqon was a very, very expensive cab ride away from our hotel
  • Fighting with one of my best friends over complete crap
But do you know what? It was the motherfucking best holiday I've ever had. And then some. I'm actually welling up now as I type this at an Irish bar in Singapore and realising that it's over. 

This is where I throwback to the rainbow.

Be ready for me to drop an epic conclusion
A rainbow is a colourful journey between two points. The beginning is filled with expectation, and the ending is a wonderful reflection. But to get that magical reflection you need rain, for without rain the rainbow doesn't exist at all. I'm thankful it rained, because without it I would not have this fantastic thing that just happened to reflect upon.

And for that, I thank all who were involved.

You could have said love was in the air. And with that I leave you with the most magical moment that happened on this trip. Naturally in Berlin, naturally with some of my best pals:

*Names will not be named.

19 June, 2012

Revelling in Geekery

"The best thing about being an adult, is you can do what you want, when you want".

Words from my former stepfather. I used to hate it when he'd tell us that as kids, and thought there was no way I would ever embrace this kind of attitude when I finally became an adult.

Yet 20 years later, here I am opening with this very quote.

Mid high-school I struggled. I was a target for bullies and my fondness for computer games and miniature war figurines didn't exactly endear me to the cool kids. Now I'm in a regional role at one of the best companies in the world and getting paid to embrace my love of all things outright geek.

That's right baby, we're getting our geek on.

Now I'm not saying I didn't enjoy my childhood, I had a fucking great time. But now I can do what I want, when I want, and no longer worry that Nick Evans is going to shove me into a locker and break my arm again, or that Ben Joske is going to kick away my basketball. Douche bags... look at me now!

That's right bitches, the face of success

But I stray from the point, which is to revel in geekery unashamedly. Sure I'm a nerd, but I make it look fucking cool.

Some of my favourite geek moments:
  • Wake up, reach for my tablet, which is connected to my eee PC, and play techno on YouTube on the computer that has the speakers connected. It's pretty boss.
  • Being ingenious with existing technologies. I remember altering my Sega Lock-On's by taping plastic over the barrel, and drilling holes in the centre for more emphasis on accuracy rather than the wide-range they originally shot at.

Yeah baby, they were the duck's pyjamas

  • MacGuyver-ing that shit. When I couldn't charge my Asus eeePad I visited some forums and discovered that you could fix the charger by putting it in a freezer. Not having one on me in an airport in Chiang Mai, I drank my iced tea and deposited the charger battery in some ice. The result was gleefully exclaimed in this G+ post.
There are of course, many more glorious moments such as this. My point being that where once upon a time I'd try and mask these incidents so as not to look like a geek - are now moments I happily celebrate and revel in. I may have even just broadcasted them on the Internet. It's cool being an adult. You can do what you want when you want.

16 June, 2012

The Rise of the Anti-Troll

"Lol faggot".
It's a pretty tough world out there for the average Internet dweller trying to be heard, after all, manifestations of this kind of stuff appear all the time in the online world. Imagine if you were a spring chicken to this kind of stuff, and were instantly hated for doing something innocent?

Fortunately or unfortunately, most people are familiar with dealing with trolls to some extent. We all come to the Internet a little wary, and just put it down to it being a thing. A thing that you shrug off and put it down to its own nature.
Nice try. Catch. Whatevs.

What I've noticed lately is that the anti-troll is emerging, and it's a force to be reckoned with. The anti-troll is a champion for all that is good, and uses the powers of the Internet to get people back who deserve it (park the term 'deserve' for now, I'll come back to it).

A troll getting what's coming to them

You don't know what I'm talking about? Check out these examples:
  • Infamous Singaporean blogger XiaXue delivered an epic smackdown of some outspoken Facebook trolls. The post, called The Faces of Haters is a great read and an indicator of how times are changing. No longer are the haters faceless. With anonymity slowly fading away, even the most amateur cyber-sleuth can deduce, name and shame. The reaction brought news and media attention.
  • It's not restricted to online. Another great example is PennyArcade Versus Ocean Marketing. If you don't have the time to read the article, the long and short of it is, mid-tier marketer shits on young guy, young guy escalates to a bastion of glorified geekery, mid-tier marketer's life and career = destroyed.
  • And the latest actually brought a tear to my eye (I may be a little fragile from long nights in Barcelona), a ruthless copy-cat site called FunnyJunk (I feel dirty linking that) bit off more than it could chew when it decided to file a lawsuit against The Oatmeal. An Internet superhero and all-round nice guy to boot. As if his letter calling them out isn't amusing enough, Matt Inman (creator of The Oatmeal) decided to crowd-fund $20k to flout their stupidity, and donate the proceeds to charity. At last count with 10 days to go, Inman has raised over $170k, taking the Internet and using it's powers for good.
Remember that thing we parked? People who deserve it? Some of these people mentioned in the examples have suffered some very fiery wrath, and observed the full force of the Internet at their doorsteps, and sometimes, you can't help but feel a little pity.

But only a little.

There are a lot of Internet bad guys out there and they need to be quelled. Anti-trolls are heroes, and have the courage to stand up to these guys and give them a taste of their own medicine, I'm not saying it's a perfect method for justice, but until one comes about I'll be standing up and applauding stories such as these and secretly doing a fist-pump from behind my keyboard.

Internet justice - fuck yeah!

So having said that. I'm just going to place this here, they're a regular that crops up in my blog comments every now and then with posts such as these:

I'm pretty good at dealing with shit. You're on notice you prick. You'll slip up one day and will receive a smackdown to rival all smackdowns. You've been warned.

Buenos dias!

08 June, 2012

In for the Long Haul

I've been sitting on the longest flight I've ever flown. London is less than two hours away. I'm sitting next to a grandma from Scotland. I'm listening to a 2005 King Unique set recorded live. I'm sipping a scotch and diet Coke. Everything is how I want it to be. This is what travel's about.

Man, I'm sure I've mentioned my upcoming holiday on the blog right? My oft-updated blog? No?

Well colour me pink with a rusty crowbar, it's the journey of a lifetime and in the words of Deborah Conway - it's only the beginning.

Starting today I've embarked on an 18-day tour of Europe. Home of The Final Countdown. Maybe.

This trip has been in the works for a long time. In fact, in recent years, this has been the longest I've delayed gratification. I booked it in February, and the planning started at the very least by October last year, probably earlier. It's the holiday I've been wanting to happen since I was 15. For those of you playing at home, that was 13 years ago.

Sure, some circumstances have been out of my control, but it was time to take command of my destiny and do it. Stand back guys, I got this.

My prose may be floating around a bit and for that I apologise, I think I've racked up half a dozen beverages, thank you very much. Although, it's been diluted over a 13-hour flight, so I'll have to make up for that when I visit my friend and visit a ye olde English pub.

The timing is pretty good for a celebration. I got shortlisted for the B&T 30 Under 30 this week. I'm absolutely blown away by it and very pleased to even be considered for such recognition. The fact I get to share the accolade with a friend and former colleague is humbling, as well. Well done Sam.

The final 30 is announced at an industry event I've been invited to on the 18th July. Amazing. Looking forward to attending that one and donning some fine clothes let me tell you!

So where am I going besides London. Well, I think we've planned this pretty well. We have six days in London, six days in Barcelona for Sonar Festival, and then six more days in Berlin before returning to Singapore, and eventually Sydney.

And what's it like being back? Bloody fantastic I tell you. I couldn't be happier with the result and it's been a privilege to rekindle friendships back home with company I love and enjoy. The travel bug has firmly taken hold and I don't think I'll be in Australia for the long-term, but for now it's heartwarming and just what I desired. I wouldn't say I was unhappy in Singapore, it's just made me realise how much I love Australia. Watch this space and mark my words, one day I'll be buying property in Williamstown, a suburb just west of Melbourne. Mark them well. One day...

Dreams are made to be realised. And I'm pursuing and realising another one today. Seriously, I'm one of the luckiest people in the world to be able to do what I do. The fact that things looked a bit more bleak six to seven years ago only makes it all the more sweeter.

And I'm writing a story to tell you about it. I know, I know. The book is almost a vapour-tale, but I really think that dream will be realised within the year. I attended the Emerging Writers Festival in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago, and between that and this holiday, things are looking like they will be delivered upon.

Speaking of special deliveries. Oops, I did it again. Yep, I've ordered a special delivery for 20 kilos to be extricated from my body. Third time lucky, only luck has nothing to do with it. It will be discipline and hard work this time around. And yes, I realised the irony of saying that while boozed up on a holiday to Europe... It's unfortunate timing but it just means I'll have to work extra hard when I get back. There's a lot more riding on it this time and failure is not an option. Australian Summer, ladies, gents, and potential lover-partners, you've been warned.

Sayonara bitches, I've got a holiday to attend to. They say that in Europe right?

P.S. Things I would have tweeted if I had Internet access this flight:
Holy shit there's a city in Europe called Dresden?
Where the alcohol at?
Man, I've been a hater, but Breaking Bad has been pretty compelling.
I'm so excited I'm about to piss my pants, and I wish I could to replace this warm satisfaction I'm feeling.