Dumb Travel Planning

✍️ 🕑 July 28 to August 5, 2018 • Series: Western Europe 2018 • Tags: travelHungaryAirbnbGermanyBerlinBudapest • Places: Berlin Budapest

Berliner Dom
Berliner Dom

It all started out so innocently.

Out of the blue, someone messaged me to ask I was planning to attend next week's workshop in Berlin.

I had no such plans. I never had any such plans.

On the occasions when I had asked, management did not think there was enough value in sending me to Berlin to meet with my team's counterparts there. However, shortly after receiving that innocent message, I also received a new manager.

I sat in a "hand-off" meeting between my new manager and my previous manager. My old manager probably said something like, "we should make sure we give Steve any resources and opportunities that would be useful to his career growth."

I saw my opening and said, "I heard there's this workshop in Berlin next week, to go over [redacted]..."

Believe me, when I got approval, I did not hesitate to book my flight and accomidation.

It was only later that the headaches started...

Turkey Vulture

• Series: Photo of the Week • Tags: photographytelephotonatureEastern Pennsylvania

This is part of a new series of posts describing photos I've taken. They should be less long-winded than some of the other content.

A majestic turkey vulture, perched on a rock.
A majestic turkey vulture, perched on a rock.

Often times, when I photograph animals I end up following some real great processes, like:

  1. Oh shit! Is it in the frame.
  2. Oh, maybe I should zoom in.
  3. Hang on... is this in focus?
  4. Oh hey, I can probably take a nice picture.

Most of the time the time I can't even get to step one before the animal has scurried away. And, I mean I don't blame the animals for being afraid of humans. I'm afraid of humans.

But, sometimes it feels like I can't catch a break.

NYC Part Two: A Saga of Fire & Brass

✍️ 🕑 January 2019 • Series: My Days in New York City • Tags: AirbnbNew York Citylife eventsFlatbush • Places: Flatbush Ditmas Park

This post is the second in a series recounting how and why I moved to New York City.

The first post is here.

NYC from an airplane leaving LaGuardia Airport. This was the view I had when it was time for me to move to the city.
NYC from an airplane leaving LaGuardia Airport. This was the view I had when it was time for me to move to the city.

So, I moved to NYC. Not out of passion, but out of the desire to continue working in the field of natural language processing, but with a change of pace. A new team, a new location, and more readily availible pelmeni. What more could one ask for?

For various reasons that I might explain in another post, I spent November and December of 2018 mainly in Berlin, and returned to the U.S. to spend a jetlagged week in Pittsburgh before starting my new role in NYC. It was an internal transfer, and I didn't plan things so I had much time to situate myself.

I landed there, determined to make a life for myself and to secure housing.

But NYC is a place that rewards some advance planning...

Vague Promises About Future Where-Is-Steve Content

site updatesCOVID-19

This is a public service announcement.

I am still at home with nothing to do except for making coffee, listening to music, photographing flowers, walking through unbuilt housing developments, working full time, watching baking shows with my parents, and desperately awaiting the end of a global pandemic that certainly hasn't been used as an excuse to further disenfranchise precarious workers while quietly abolishing regulations and restrictions and ethics for billionaires. As someone with a grand sense of perspective, I can only assume that my current plans for this blog are at the forefront of your thinking...

Planned Upcoming Content

I have a few series of posts in progress at the moment. One is a condensed version of some Turkey-specific travel information I started writing up not that long after I left Tokat. I hope that you'll find my out-of-date impressions of overnight bus trips enlightening and engaging.

Another is the story of how I moved to New York City, from the vantage of having recently left it. I started writing about this in a post previously, and I swear my writing will get only more energetic as I plug my airbnb affiliate link while criticizing their customer support.

Lastly but not leastly, I'm writing a nice humble brag about this one time I travelled for work and wound up forced to do laundry a bunch of times before I came home. Also, I spent some time in an ugly city with a pretty church. Why? You'll have to read and find out!

Beyond those topics, please do let me know if there's something I should write about. I set this blog up primarily for discussing travel, while pretending the title is a catch-all pertinent to all topics. Since I'm not able to travel currently, I would like to write about something else.

If you want to do the hard work of brainstorming (a.k.a. if you want to think up my topics for me), feel free. You can reach me by sending an email to literally ANYTHING at this domain name. Pretty cool, huh?

Site Redesign

I think I've figured out how "Cascading Style Sheets" work. If I'm right, I'll be darned if I keep this website looking quite the way it does. I have a refresh in progress, and my main to-do is to make sure it scales okay to screens of different sizes, and also to make sure it isn't wretched and broken. Believe me, I am setting the bar high when it comes to the design of this website.

I'm not sure when this will blip into existence, but for the sake of making an arbitrary deadline, let's say June or sooner.

In Bloom

photographymusicEastern PennsylvaniaCOVID-19

Magnolia tree in all its glory

I cough into my shoulder.
I sneeze into my shoulder.
I watch as the dates marked on my calendar
for something exciting
pass me by.

I'm thankful that I celebrated my
birthday just before people started
taking COVID-19 seriously,
so I got to hear the sound of Miguel Zenon's sax,
taste a last frozen margherita,
and blast... R.E.M. one last time.

Magnolia tree in all its glory

What I've Learned In Six Years of Coffee Drinking


[Note: please forgive any kinks with the photo hosting here. I'm trying to switch to hosting images in git lfs instead of just having a bunch of binaries checked into git, and it was a bit of a snag for the initial setup. Subsequent posts shouldn't be affected.]

Latte with impressive cat art. Bogota, Sept. 2017
Latte with impressive cat art. Bogota, Sept. 2017

On one particular March morning I rolled out of bed in South Brooklyn, and I have to be honest, I think I had a slight headache.

What was the cause of this ailment? Was it COVID-19, or the glass of whiskey I had last night?

Actually, I think it was caffeine withdrawl. Definitely, caffeine withdrawl.

Luckily, the cure was at hand, despite self-quarantine. I only had three pounds of coffee and no one to drink it with. Things were gonna be fine.

A beautifully presented coffee alongside Greek pastries, somewhere on Gökçeada. April 2016.
A beautifully presented coffee alongside Greek pastries, somewhere on Gökçeada. April 2016.

So, Coffee

Sometimes, the distance between being a novice about something, and becoming something of a snob about it is a relatively short road. I believe I transitioned from stirring instant coffee granules in a cup of cold milk with a fork to doing fancy pour-over with a scale in... about a year's time. Is this an improvement? My palate seems to think so... Well, there's less weird chemicals at least.

My headache-addled state this morning is ironic, because I avoided drinking coffee for quite a long time.

In my childhood, I looked down on people who required their caffeine dose in order to start their day, becoming dependent on a substance that offered no escape from rote daily routine. However, I did really like the smell of coffee.

I avoided drinking coffee (whilst being quite partial to tea) until I was three-quarters of the way through undergrad.

I started with the most ritualistic gateway drug of all.