October 24, 2009

Visiting Amsterdam for the Big Three-O

Filed under: Events,Friends,Places — Cory @ 4:30 pm

This past summer as my thirtieth birthday began to creep up on me I decided that I wanted to have something fun to look forward when the day finally arrived. I decided that I wanted to celebrate the occasion in Amsterdam.

Prior to this trip I had only spent one day in Amsterdam, when Jason and I visited there in June of 2006. I remembered that the city was beautiful and the people there were very nice.

By way of VRBO I found this great place to stay in the heart of the city called the Amnesia Apartment. It’s a standard Amsterdam style house – tall and thin. The Amnesia is five stories with a room per floor and a jacuzzi on the top floor. There is a tiny, tiny staircase in the back of the building that goes from the kitchen in the basement to the 4th floor bedroom.

Tate and I arrived on Monday morning, October 12th, and Sandy arrived the next day. Once she joined us we starting seeing the sights and eating at some great restaurants. Tate created a Google map of the places we visited during our stay. Here’s a rundown:


  • Sama Sebo – This is incredibly good Indonesian food. The guy who picked us up from the airport was half Indonesian and recommended that we eat here. Here’s a picture of us with the spread.
  • Japanese Pancake World – This is where we ate dinner on the night of my birthday. It came highly recommended from a friend of a friend who lives in Amsterdam. He was right, this place is amazing! Pictures here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
  • d’Vijff Vlieghen – This was a more upper scale Dutch restaurant that Sandy had heard about. Evidently Franklin Roosevelt, Walt Disney, Elvis Presley and many other notable people have eaten here (and they can now add us to the list as well). The food and service were both fantastic. Pictures here, here, here, and here.
  • Belgisch Restaurant Lieve – On our final night we ate at this Belgian restaurant near our apartment and it was incredible as well. Tate and I ordered beer pairings with each course. I still think Belgian food is my favorite of all. Pictures here, here, here, and here.


Other stuff we did or saw while we were there:

The trip worked out even better than I could have planned it. The weather was wonderful for almost the entire week we were there, and the apartment turned out to be exactly what we wanted and in an excellent location. Amsterdam is such an incredible place. Everyone is so friendly, the city is beautiful, and it’s very easy to get around and communicate with people. All the pictures from the trip are available in my gallery.

Great friends, great place, great time!

• • •

June 29, 2009

The Gift of Flight

Filed under: Events,General — Cory @ 12:00 pm

This weekend Sandy and I celebrated our third year together. Over those three years she’s managed to surprise me with some really cool gifts, but this weekend in NYC I think she topped everything she’s done so far.

Around 3:30 on Saturday afternoon she took me to Penn Station, bought two round trip train tickets to the Ronkonkoma train station on Long Island, and hopped on a train with me. I had no idea where we were going or what we were going to be doing. An hour and twenty minutes later we arrived at the Ronkonkoma train station and someone came to pick us up. You know when you put a dog in a car and the dog doesn’t know where its going (to the vet? to the park?) the dog is all wound up and hyperactive? Yea, that’s what I was like. Suddenly I see a Southwest jet so I figure we are at the Islip airport. Then the car we were in pulled into a little driveway, and that’s when I saw the sign for the Heritage Flight Academy. It was like when the dog realizes he isn’t going to the vet, but to the park!

I guess I’d mentioned to her a few times over the past three years that I might one day like to take flying lessons. She found the Heritage Flight Academy flight school out at Long Island Macarthur Airport, and they have a special intro course where they let you fly the airplane.

We met the instructor, who was a really cool guy, and then he showed us a map of the area where we would be flying. Specifically, we were flying from Macarthur Airport over Fire Island, over the Atlantic Ocean, and then back inland. He also showed us two big thunderstorms that had formed to the north and that were heading towards us. After chatting about this stuff for about 5 minutes we headed out to the airplane that we would be flying, a Cessna 172.

After checking the plane over we finally hopped in and started taxiing out to the runway. On our way we had to wait for a Southwest Airlines jet to land, which I thought was pretty funny since we were going to take off on the same runway. I asked if there were any flocks of geese nearby, and he told me that there were not, but that the prop on the Cessna would chop them up if we hit one. Sweet!

As we moved into place the instructor went over a few last things and communicated with the tower, and then we revved up the engine and took off down the runway. The instructor told me to pull back, I did, and to my surprise the plane lifted off the ground in what seemed like 5 seconds! Sandy was recording everything from the back seat with my camera, so here’s what it looked like from back there:

After we leveled off it got really fun and I was able to look down and see what was below. Here’s another video Sandy took from the air:

We flew around for 30-40 minutes before it was finally time to return to the airport. Of course, the instructor handled the landing for us which was awesome because I didn’t want to have any part of that. It was smooth as could be, contrary to the way it looks in the video.

All the videos Sandy took are in this YouTube playlist. There are videos of taxiing to the runway, taking off, in flight 1, in flight 2, in flight 3, in flight 4, and landing. All the pictures from the day are in my gallery.

This was such an awesome surprise! The only problem now is that I think I’m hooked. :)

• • •

January 1, 2007

New Year’s Eve in New York

Filed under: Events,Friends,Places — Cory @ 10:57 pm

After spending the holiday week with our families, Sandy and I met up in New York for a few days to see friends and celebrate the New Year.

We arrived in the City Friday evening to meet up with some of Sandy’s friends for dinner. We ended up hanging out at really great bubble tea place for a while, and eventually meeting up for a nice dinner later. I can’t remember the names of these places, or find websites for them, but they were both in Chinatown and were really good. Afterwards we headed up to Rockefeller Center to see the famous Christmas tree.

Saturday we took our time and walked around the city, which included my Pilgrimage to the 5th Avenue Apple Store. Later that night we met up with Sandy’s cousin and her husband for dinner at Yakitori Taisho, an amazing little restaurant that was packed full. We got there early, and were able to get a great table in the back. You know the food has to be good when a place that is this tiny has a huge line out the door in the winter. After dinner we walked around and ended up at Veniero’s Pastry for dessert and coffee.

On Sunday we decided to see the American Museum of Natural History, which is where we spent most of the afternoon. This is a really cool museum with lots of different types of exhibits. I spent a lot of time at the physics/space exhibits, but there were also some really interesting displays with animals, primates and such.

Afterwards we headed down to meet up with some of Sandy’s other friends for our New Year’s Eve dinner at Guantanamera, a Cuban restaurant on 8th Avenue. We had a great meal (at least I did) and dessert, before heading out to a friends apartment to hang out until midnight got a little closer. Around 10:30 Sandy and I left for Central Park to find a nice place to watch the fireworks. We ended up at a terrific spot with a perfectly clear view of the sky. When the fireworks started at midnight, they went on for 10 minutes and were some of the most spectacular fireworks I have ever seen. Everyone makes a big deal about Times Square for New Year’s, but I cant imagine a better place to be on New Year’s than in Central Park.

Overall, it was a great trip and reminded me how much I love New York City (especially the smells of the food from the street vendors).

• • •

November 26, 2006

Fishing near Cocodrie, Louisiana

Filed under: Events,Friends,Places — Cory @ 11:17 am

Thursday morning I drove over to Covington, Louisiana to spend Thanksgiving with the Taurman family. In addition to a wonderful meal, they had also planned a fishing trip for us to go on the following day. Friday evening 5 of us piled into Chad’s truck and headed down to Cocodrie, Louisiana.

We had a room reserved at Boudreaux’s Marina, a nice little place operated by Andre Boudreaux and his family. After getting a little sleep Friday night we woke up before 6 am and had a nice breakfast at the marina. As soon as breakfast was gone we piled in the boat to head out into the marsh and start fishing. Normally there are several different fishing guides who can take groups out, but as it turned out, all of Andre’s guides had taken the week off to go hunting, so he took us out himself.

It didn’t take long before Choose was reeling in the first fish, a speckled trout, and pretty soon we were all pulling them in. We caught lots of trout, red fish, and black drum and by the time we went in around 1pm we had caught enough food for everyone to have dinner. We also couldn’t have asked for better weather for the trip (I took this video while we were fishing, its 22 secs, 21 MB).

Andre Boudreaux is the real deal, no question about it (with a last name like “Boudreaux”, how could he not be?). He also gives guided tours for those who want to catch alligators, and his stories about those trips are pretty funny as well.

This trip reminded me of how much I enjoy fishing. Sadly, I haven’t gone much since I moved away from Virginia.

Thanks to the Taurman family for a great time!

• • •

September 18, 2006

2006 Austin City Limits Music Festival

Filed under: Events,Friends,Music — Cory @ 12:41 am

 [ 2006 Austin City Limits Music Festival ] This weekend I drove up to the capital city for the 2006 Austin City Limits Music Festival.

After last years festival I had decided that I did not want to spent another weekend under the blazing Sun and try to enjoy music. It was just too hot. But when I saw that both Ween and Willie Nelson would be performing, I went ahead and bought two 3-day passes. As it turns out, I had a pretty good time this year.

Friday I was there alone, and I just walked around from stage to stage. I spent more time getting to and from the festival than I did at the festival, but it was fun anyway (although really, really hot). I managed to see Gnarls Barkley and a few other shows.

On Saturday Sandy was able to come with me and we saw String Cheese Incident, the South Austin Jug Band, Brazilian Girls, and of course, Willie Nelson, as well as several other smaller bands.

Sunday morning we met up with Jason at Kerby Lane Cafe for a late Breakfast. Afterwards we went up to the 360 Bridge and chilled for a while, before picking up Katie and heading to the festival. We caught parts of performances from Ween, Matisyahu, Sun Volt, The Flaming Lips, The Greencards and Ben Harper.

At the gates of the festival there were people giving away iTunes music cards that said they were worth $30 towards music from bands performing at the festival. At first I thought this meant that I could pick $30 worth of music, but as it turns out they have a preselected playlist of 31 songs from artists at the festival. So now I have 5 extra cards, if anyone would like one. ;)

• • •

August 5, 2006


Filed under: Events,Friends,Places — Cory @ 3:57 am

After delays from the firemarshall, Defcon finally got started around noon on Friday. We saw several talks, including magstripe hacking, wireless insanity, and even eXtreme Programming, all of which were very interesting.

Eliot joined us for a trip to In-N-Out Burger, where a massive number of beef patties were consumed by the 5 of us. Mmmm good.

At this point I am up $5 on the blackjack tables, woo hoo! :)

• • •

January 1, 2006

Looking Back at 2005

Filed under: Books,Events,General,Music,Places — Cory @ 12:58 am

2005 was the year that I decided to give the whole blogging thing a try, and so I thought it would be a good idea to put together this list so that I will be able to remember some of the things that I did over the course of the year.

The Places I Visited in 2005

Along with lots of trips to Austin and a couple visits to Houston, I did a reasonable amount of traveling this year.

Musicians I Saw in 2005

This year The Hot Club of Cowtown broke up, which was a major bummer. But Elana has a few things going on, and Whit and Jake are performing with some others as Whit Smith’s Hot Jazz Caravan. At Jazz Fest and ACL Fest I saw a lot of other little bands, but I can’t remember the names.

The Books I Read in 2005

As usual, my interests over the past year are reflected in the books I read. I almost always cycle through 4 topics: physics, economics, sociology and literature. In 2006 I want to finally finish reading Gödel, Escher, Bach.

Random Stuff in 2005

Overall, it was a pretty good year. Made some new friends, spent time with old friends and had a lot of fun.

Happy New Year!

• • •

August 1, 2005

End of DefCon, Deep Fried Twinkies

Filed under: Events,Friends,Places — Cory @ 3:00 pm

After 3 days of talks and general craziness, DefCon 13 came to a close yesterday. After the closing ceremonies we headed over to In-N-Out Burger for dinner. I had never eaten there before, but I must say it was pretty good. Richard has a picture of my first bite of the burger. We spent the next half hour in the blistering sun trying to get a cab, and wishing we had skipped the milkshakes.

Next, my gracious tour guides took me to downtown Vegas where I was able to see The Golden Nugget, Binions, and eat a deep fried Twinkie. After watching for a while, I got in on a couple games of blackjack and ended up $40 ahead, which made it $80 for the trip, so I was happy. We saw some more sights and headed back to the strip, specifically to Mandalay Bay and The Luxor. The engineering and wow-factor of all these places is amazing, everything is enormous!

I’m heading back to the airport in about 4 hours, so the trip is almost over, but it has been a lot of fun. I will be back out here in 2 weeks to meet up with some friends from college and I can’t wait!

• • •

July 31, 2005

Saturday at DefCon, Blackjack in Vegas

Filed under: Events,Friends,Places,Technology — Cory @ 5:22 pm

Yesterday at DefCon there were a few interesting sessions, but the my favorite of the day was the Introduction to Lockpicking and Physical Security. It was interesting to see how insanely easy it is for someone to unlock a lock within seconds. The only other session I thought was really interesting was the Be Your Own Telephone Company…With Asterisk talk. I’d like to try setting up an Asterisk PBX sometime soon.

Yesterday I ended up hanging out with Dirk and Richard for most of the day. We met up with some friends of theirs for dinner at Wolfgang Puck‘s Bar and Grill at the MGM Grand. I had the Mustard Glazed Salmon with Warm Potato, Granny Smith Apples, and Watercress, and it was excellent. I ate to the point of discomfort, which is not something I often say. After dinner we walked around for a while and saw the sites. Dirk and Richard taught me a lot about blackjack during the night and after several hours of watching and asking questions, I finally decided I was ready to give it a try. I decided that $20 was all I was willing to put on the line, so at a $5 table I got $20 worth of chips and began playing. I was never down, and after about 30 or 45 minutes I had $60 worth of chips. At this point I decided it would be a good idea to cash out and quit while I was ahead.

Las Vegas reminds me a lot of New Orleans because it is very easy to loose track of time if you are not paying attention. I made it back to my room around 5:30, and I didn’t even feel tired. I think I like this town. ;)

• • •

July 30, 2005

Friday at DefCon 13

Filed under: Events,Technology — Cory @ 5:23 pm

So yesterday was the first day of DefCon 13, and I arrived at the conference with some friends a little before 10, in time to get into the tent to see Phil Zimmermann‘s talk. Well, he arrived an hour late and when he finally gave his presentation on secure VOIP, he couldn’t get the software to work. It was a little disappointing, but what are ya gonna do. We attended a few more sessions, including a talk by Paul Vixie, and then met up with some more friends and generally had a good time.

The best session I saw yesterday was the Bypassing Authenticated Wireless Networks, where the presenters released a tool call PickupLine. Basically, PickupLine makes it really easy to scan wireless networks that require authentication via some webpage; products like NoCat provide this functionality. PickupLine is only available for Linux at this point, but I’m sure someone will port it to Mac OS X real soon.

In the evening we headed over to the Hard Rock Hotel for the iDefense party. We met up with some friends and talked for a while. After the party on the patio ended everyone moved to a party upstairs, where we ended up meeting a lot of interesting people in the Internet security world. Around 2 we decided it was time to end the night, so we hopped on the monorail and went back to our hotels. All in all, a great day.

• • •
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