Trapped in Paradise – the DC Edition

Part travel blog, part philosophical musings. All tongue-in-cheek ridiculousness.


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Back to the grind (and the Winter Olympics)

Since it’s been almost a year since I finished grad school, relocated to New England, and started a new job, I figured it’s past time I started writing again. Life has gotten a little slower since school ended, and since I no longer have to dedicate each free moment to finding that elusive post-MBA job, I’ve found that I need to fill my nights and weekends with something other than Netflix and browsing trashy pop culture gossip websites.

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Typical productive Saturday morning

I’m strongly considering making the jump to a self-hosted domain, so I figure I’d better ease back into writing before I start shelling out the cash. And what better occasion to help get me back on the blogging train than the Winter Olympics?

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How about those drones!

I’ve blogged about the Olympics in the past, so this is a good re-starting point. Although I do feel like the Games have lost a little of their magic over the years. Whether that’s from all the doping issues, the massive costs that sends host countries into debt, or just from growing up in general, it seems as though the enthusiasm has dwindled a bit from when I was a kid. But I still love watching athletes from all over the world coming together to compete in sports most of us would never hear about otherwise.

Anyway, on to the good stuff!

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Admit it, you only clicked on a blog post about the Olympics just to see the shirtless dude from Tonga. I do hope for his sake that the oil was self-heating!

So I have a soft spot for South Korea since I’d been there several times during my time in the Navy, so I really wish I could have gone to these Olympics in person. I have no doubt that they’ll be great hosts, even with all the drama with their neighbor to the north. But alas, I had to make do with watching on Hulu + Live TV, which may not have been a good decision. I’m still in my 7-days-free trial period, but all this skipping, buffering, and sound issues are making me wonder if I need to explore other options. However, I’m not sure what those would be, since I cut the cord on cable sometime in 2014 and never looked back.

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Hulu’s IT support, probably.

A browse on Hulu’s forums confirms that I’m not alone in experiencing issues. I hope they’ll get fixed over the next few days, but I’m not holding my breath. For now, I’ll have to settle for alternating between the TV and the iPad (it seems to run a little better on the latter; the Roku lags behind and skips more for some reason.)

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Bonus: I got to see the wonderful Yuna Kim light the cauldron twice.

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I also got to watch those poor ladies climb that LONG flight of stadium stairs twice!

I’ve been bingeing all morning on ski jumping, snowboarding, and luge, and will probably continue to do so until the figure skating tonight. Apparently this particular luge track is really difficult? I feel like I’ve seen a lot of people hitting the walls during their runs. And I’ve found my new hero: Japanese ski jumper Noriaki Kasai, competing in his 8th Olympics at age 45 (!) and honored with a Polish rap song and at least two rock songs in Finland written about him. (My Finnish friend currently working in Helsinki confirms that Kasai is a legend over there.) I’ve been feeling old since my birthday a couple of weeks ago, so this gives me hope that I can still make it to the Olympics! I just have to learn how to ski jump, fear of heights be damned.

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I’ll settle for being cool enough for a Finnish garage band to write a punk song about me. We should all aspire to be this awesome.

 

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Study abroad, week 1: School, food, Cubs

What a way to start off the day! I declined to watch the World Series final since it started at 2am here in Israel, and had hoped to wake up to news that the Chicago Cubs had prevailed. However, when my alarm went off at 6:00 this morning, I discovered that the game was still going on with a 10th inning and a rain delay! Needless to say, I postponed my morning run to watch the stunning conclusion.

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Obviously it was destiny!

I’m not even a baseball fan. I guess you could say that I get to be a Cubs fan by marriage since Chuck had spent several years in Chicago and loves his team, but even that’s a stretch. However, everyone loves a good story, and who out there was not rooting for the Cubs to win it all? (Other than Cleveland, of course.) Congratulations to the team and to their fans, this truly was a game for the ages!

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Today, Bill Murray is all of us.

Anyway, classes started this week and I have to say, any reservations I had about studying abroad have gone out the window. The quality of instructors here at TAU is quite high, and the classes are interesting. Plus, this school seems to be strong in areas where my home university is a little bit lacking, so I’m thrilled that I’ll be able to fill in some of the gaps in my education.

Plus, we get to do cool things like open the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

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“All I see is signs, all I see is dollar signs…”

Many of my international classmates didn’t think this was a big deal, but I’d seen plenty of famous figures, celebrities, and sports stars open the NYSE in past years. You’d better believe that I elbowed my way to the front of the group so that I could have my hand on the button!

Last weekend, I also got to experience a bit of culture in the form of my first Shabbat dinner with a local family. One of my roommate’s parents had a work colleague living in Tel Aviv, and they were kind enough to invite us over for a traditional Jewish dinner last Friday night.

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SO MUCH DELICIOUS FOOD OMG

This was such a cool experience, and not just because this was my first time being exposed to Jewish culture. Despite our Catholic upbringing my own family is skimpy on traditions, and the family get-together is unfortunately becoming more sparse in a lot of American households. Truthfully, the only real formal dinner we ever have is on Thanksgiving (and even then, it’s hard to get all the adult children under one roof) so it’s wonderful that these families manage to do this at least once a week!

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Where I come from, family gatherings are little less relaxing.

I do have a tiny confession, though – before the meal, when the challah bread was dipped in the salt (which I learned is a tradition of its own) my initial thought was, “oh good, now I have guest right and I don’t have to worry about being killed tonight.” Clearly I’ve been watching too much Game of Thrones.

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No Red Weddings here!

In all seriousness, the dinner was wonderful, and the family who hosted us was so kind and generous. The hospitality of the Israelis I’ve met so far has been unparalleled. It’s only been two weeks! I can’t wait to see what else is in store.


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Surf’s Way Up

Well, this is embarrassing – last night I’d invited some friends out, including an old classmate who had just moved here, thinking that the Chinese New Year block party would be the happening place to be.  Well, we arrived at a fairly empty Chinatown in Honolulu, discovering that most of the New Year celebrating had happened the night before and now everyone was down in Waikiki at that other block party.

Happy Year of the Horse, here's some team mascots.

Happy Year of the Horse, here’s some NFL mascots.

The Pro Bowl is pretty much the only big sporting event that happens here, if you can call a fake football game an event.  Hawaii has no professional sports teams of its own, nor are most of the college teams any good at the moment, so unless you’re a die hard fan of the University of Hawaii women’s volleyball team or are really into high school sports, you’ll just have to settle for this.  (This isn’t a diss on UH volleyball, by the way.  I’ve heard that they have a following akin to a religious cult; my friends who have attended the games have reported fights breaking out in the stands and everything.  I guess that’s what happens when your football team is 1-11.)  At least it’s usually pretty easy to score tickets, especially if you or someone you know is affiliated with the military since ITT has pretty good deals every year, and it can be a good opportunity to get autographs.

In other news, we got hit with the largest swell in decades last week, which had brought 50 foot waves to the North Shore.  I’d wanted to drive up there after work to check it out, especially since I have yet to see any of the big surf that comes in the winter (I’m always reluctant to fight the traffic to get to the surf competitions, since there’s only one two-lane road and parking is difficult even on a slow day.)  However, since I’d gotten roped into a mandatory fun work function that afternoon, I had to skip the road trip.  In retrospect it had been a good thing: apparently everyone else on the island had made the pilgrimage to the North Shore, and people had gotten stuck in gridlock for over two hours on Kamehameha highway.  Additionally, parking had been nonexistent, and the giant waves had washed sand up onto the road.

Boom.  (Photos from Hawaii News Now)

Boom. (Photos from Hawaii News Now)

That can't be good for the car.

That can’t be good for the car.

Hope you didn't have any plans for the rest of the week.

Hope you didn’t have any plans for the rest of the week.

Of course, that didn’t stop everyone.  All together now:

You IDIOT!!!

You IDIOT!!!

The experienced big wave surfers had been smart enough to stay away that day, since the weather had been pretty bad with lots of strong wind gusts and choppy waves.  But of course some amateur still wanted to get his surfing street cred or whatever – you know, the same guy who thinks it’s a gnarly idea to go paddle out in a hurricane.  Ah, Darwinism.