Worldly Travels: Australia – Sydney

Sydney, Australia, three times farther from home than I had ever been on the east coast in Boston, and boy did it get off to a rough start. Not only did my bags get lost between LAX and SYD (A on the map below), my phone didn’t work internationally so I had no way of telling my uncle who was waiting for over an hour to pick me up that I was dealing with the Quantas baggage claim desk.

Lost Luggage…

On the bright side, once I dealt with Qantas and told them where to send my bags when they arrived, I blew through customs without any baggage to slow me down. On the other side, I was met by my uncle and two Aussie cousins who had waited patiently for me to arrive (I think my uncle had placated them with a box of donuts). They were in the middle of a summer vacation that starts in December and runs into February, so we went straight to the vacation home they were renting in Palm Beach (B) with friends and another one of my uncles and his family. (click on the map below to see it full size)

Sydney Map

We spent a week there fishing, sailing, and generally messing about. After that, I moved down to my uncle’s place in St. Ives (C) and started to look for housing of my own. I spent a week searching and eventually happened upon a house in Bondi beach (D) where 26 other backpackers and travelers were effectively shacking up. Some people were living 5 and 6 to a room, but I lucked out and had my own room. Anyways, I lived with the crazy kids below for three months and had an absolute blast. (In this photo: 4 Frogs, 3 Swedes, 3 Germans, 2 Swiss, 1 Irish, 1 Pommy, 1 Canadian, 1 Brazilian, 1 South African, 1 Peruvian, and 1 Yank)


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Worldly Travels: New Zealand

What can I say about New Zealand other than: IT IS FREAKING AWESOME! I only spent 144 hours (6 days) in New Zealand, but I was able to make it around the entire south island and hit quite a few high points. I’ll definitely have to go back, several times, to accomplish everything there is to do there, but I think I did alright for the short amount of time that I was there. Let’s review.

April 2nd

I arrived in Christchurch on April 2nd without anything pre-booked. I had a rough idea of where I should go, but no idea what I was going to do when I got there. Renting a car was no different. I strolled up to the information counter and asked, “Where can I rent a car for cheap?” After being directed to an ad board with many local services listed and an airport phone, I put my passport, along with several others papers, down on the ledge and proceeded to I call several companies. Finding one that was reasonably priced and could pick me up at the airport, I went outside, got picked up, signed the papers, and proceeded south to Lake Tekapo.

About 20 minutes into my journey, I did a mental self-check, something I do quite often, probably as a minor case of OCD, and couldn’t remember where I put my passport. I pulled off to the side of the road, just wanting to be secure that I knew where it was, and started looking through my backpack. After turning my backpack, luggage, and the rest of the car inside out, I called the car office, the airport, drove back and proceeded to freak out for about an hour. After leaving my number with the car agency and the airport (an Australian number, so it was international for them to call me, another important point in my journey), I went back to the car, noticed the GPS case on the seat, not knowing what it was, and brought it back into the car office thinking it must have been left there by the last person. When I went back in, the office lady was on the phone with the airport and told me, “Someone found your passport and turned it in!” I guess I got a little pseudo karma for the trying to turn in the GPS case. Anyways, I rushed over to the airport, picked up my passport, gave many thanks, and finally got on the road to begin my 3 hour journey to Lake Tekepo.

Lake Tekepo

Lake Tekepo is a beautiful place. A lake out in the middle of nowhere, it’s one of those places that’s so quiet that if you stopped rowing your kayak and glided to a stop, you wouldn’t hear a thing. No airplanes, no cars, no wildlife even. Just sitting peacefully in the middle of the lake. I arrived about two hours before sunset at the Lake Tekepo YHA and with no plans, just like with the car, asked, “What is there to do here?” I was able to rent the kayak for those two hours of daylight and afterwards made a trek over to the hot springs where they have three pools ranging in temperature from 38-42 C (100-108 F). It was a fantastic way to end the day and the view of the lake from the pools was gorgeous. (Also of note: the night sky over lake Tekepo is in consideration for World Heritage status because you can see so many more stars without any light pollution for hundreds of miles.)

April 3rd

I went to bed early and woke up early the next morning because I had a lot to get accomplished. I knew I wanted to visit Mt. Cook, 1 hour away, and then move onto Queenstown, another 3 hours away. So at 7:30am, I rolled out of bed and began my journey.

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Summer Checklist – The Results

So I’d never made a checklist before this summer, or if I did, I never really paid much attention to it. Anyways, as you can see below, I was able to accomplish most of my summer checklist, and have decided to create one for the fall. The full article includes a little blurb about the tasks I put on my to-do list for the summer.


Summer checklist:
x = done

[x] get a motorcycle
[x] work 70 hours a week
[x] go skydiving
[xB, _L , xD ] learn how to cook
[ ] learn how to front-flip
[13 times] travel to a different city every weekend
[x] get my six pack back
[x] revitalize blog
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Confirmation Bias

There are a lot of debates that take place in the world: in politics, in science, and in our personal lives. While all of these discussions are composed of many different components that merit examination to come to a resolution, I believe that the first step to success is to remove any personal biases one might have. I make this statement realizing that you may now call me captain obvious, but you should also realize that while sound in principal, it is rarely followed through in practice. Think espoused vs. enacted values. This can be attributed to a tendency called confirmation bias. It was summarized very well by Leo Tolstoy in 1897:

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if

he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot

be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he

knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.”

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The Economist: July 10th-16th, 2010 Issue

“Can anything perk up Europe?” Re-phrased, can the European Union make the short-term changes necessary to survive in the long-run, let alone take back preeminence as a world entity? With the largest economy in the world, the EU has been put in a place to make tough political decision by the global recession of 2008-2009 if it wants to avoid collapse. In contrast, China has created an extremely successful banking system and under its current model, only one thing can “guarantee its demise: […] success”. In both cases, government will need to make significant changes if they are to achieve long-term prosperity.


Can anything perk up Europe? Econmist cover.


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The Economist: Weekly Perspective – July 3rd, 2010

I’ve had a subscription to The Economist ever since the beginning of my freshman year. In addition to my other sources of worldly information, The Economist offers a much higher-level perspective and insight than I have been able to find anywhere else. Maybe it’s because I’m enthralled with real world economics that I regard it so highly; I loved Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely, Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt, and can’t wait to read their follow-ups. But while it delves deeply into some of the most important economic issues facing us today, your average high school graduate should be able to comprehend many of the articles that it addresses without any additional study of economics.


The Economist: Cyberwar Cover


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LADY GAGA at the Boston Garden: July 2nd

It all began on a drive out to UMASS Lowell for a Student Alumni conference in early February of this year. Aaron Horvitz, our current SAA president, was driving six of us out to UMASS when he saw a billboard for the Lady Gaga concert coming to Boston in July. In a way that only he can proclaim in his forever-exuberant personality, he said, “We’re going to that.” Now If anyone knows Aaron, he’s not one to back down from a challenge. So when someone doubted that he could get tickets to the show, we heard his all too familiar retort, “Say I won’t.” What can I say; Aaron is a man of his word.

Lady Gaga Tour Promotion

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WIRED: Monthly Perspectives – July 2010

WIRED Magazine: the quirky, tech geek periodical that often takes a superficial subjective perspective of cool and innovative technology and gives us a drill down into the underlying mechanics of how it works. WIRED manages to teach us something we never would have thought we could understand without the textbook drone and bore that is usually associated with learning something new. Let’s just say, it’s only July 1st, well July 2nd by the time this will be posted, and I’ve already ripped through the entire July article of WIRED.

WIRED July Cover


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Finals next week? Let’s go to Bamboozle!

‘Completely ridiculous’ is the best way to sum up my first road trip to New Jersey; that happened to be the weekend before finals started. Two days before my first final, I was partaking in activities that tend to make you forget what has been going on over the last few days as opposed to spending exorbitant amounts of time cramming in every little fact and rule that might get you a point here or there on the most important tests of the semester.


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Kawasaki Ninja 650R: It’s Only the Beginning

Ever since I was in high school, I have fantasized about owning a motorcycle. The wind in your hair, the power at your fingertips, and all the ‘cool points’ that come with almost every thrill seeking endeavor. But most of all, the reason I wanted a motorcycle was the unrestricted freedom it gives you to go where you want, when you want, because you are the master of your own domain. Or so I thought as a young adolescent male.

The Dream

Dream bike

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