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!

• • •

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 31, 2006

Rack On

Filed under: Friends,General — Cory @ 2:51 pm

Well, for those who haven’t heard, tomorrow will be my last day at Rackspace. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was flying down for my interview with the CORE team. At that time (mid 2003) the company was around 280 people, and every day was exciting. Rackspace has come a long way since then, and as of two weeks ago there are now over 1,000 employees and there is no slowdown in sight.

Being at Rackspace has had a tremendous impact on my life. I have been exposed to some really amazing individuals, and in the process I have learned a lot about business, software, and people. It is wonderful to be surrounded by such bright people all the time, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with them. Rackspace is a very special place, because of the special people there.

Deciding to leave this environment was not an easy thing for me to do, but I have an opportunity to do something I have always wanted, and its the right time in my life to go for it. All along at Rackspace I felt like I was learning and preparing for something later, and I think I will now have a chance to apply what I have learned. “It’s all just practice”, as someone who has been a big influence on me likes to say.

Next week I’ll be packing up all my stuff and moving on to my next hop, Houston.

Just another Ant on the Melon…

• • •

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! :)

• • •

February 27, 2006

Celebrating and Snowboarding in Virginia

Filed under: Friends,Places — Cory @ 1:33 pm

I spent the weekend with some friends in Virginia at Wintergreen Resort.

The event was great because almost all of us had something to celebrate. Rebecca is (finally) graduating from Pharmacy school, it was Pete’s birthday, I finished paying of my college loans, and Scott was celebrating the fact that Rebecca is (finally) graduating. :) Sarah and Elissa helped to get the party started. Its not very often that this group of friends gets together, since we all live in different parts of the country, but when we do it is a lot of fun. Unfortunately I was never able to meet up with Tate and his entourage while we were all up there (sorry Tate!), but I’ve already told them that next year we have to plan a trip out west.

I’ve been skiing and snowboarding at Wintergreen since the fourth grade, and it always seemed like such a fun place. But after spending several days snowboarding in Colorado my perspective on east coast slopes is a little different now. The snow is so slippery and icy, the slopes are short and crowded, the lift lines are long, the lifts are slow, and the people are dangerously novice at best. People also appear to have attitude problems there as well, but that seems more like a general east coast issue.

But, then again, there are a lot of mountain men up that way and you tend to see some interesting sights, like the guy in the picture to the left. Notice the camoflague hunting overalls doubling as skiing attire, and the awesome “pizza” stance.

It was a very quick trip, but we had a great time.

• • •

February 13, 2006

Beaver Creek, Boulder, Robert Randolph

Filed under: Friends,Music,Places — Cory @ 2:08 am

Recently I spent some time out in Colorado, here’s what happened.

Snowboarding at Beaver Creek

 [ Snowboarding at Beaver Creek, CO ] After landing at the Eagle/Vail airport I met up with some mutual friends and caught a shuttle to our place at Beaver Creek Resort. When I arrived at the house I didn’t know any of the other 7 people there, but they were Chris’s friends and everyone was very friendly. We had dinner and played some games until everyone was ready for sleep around 10. Chris arrived later that night.

The next day we hit the slopes. It had been about 3 years since I had last used my snowboard, so it took me an hour or two to get back in the swing of things. Soon I was back on the advanced blues and hitting the black daimonds. I started skiing when I was in the 4th grade, and switched over to snowboarding around the 11th grade in high school, but almost all of my experience is from the mountains on the east coast, especially at Wintergreen Resort. In college Tate and I used to go up there several times a week in the winter, good times. When I lived in New Orleans I flew out to Winter Park, Colorado to hang out with my cousin and snowboard for a few days. I remember thinking then how much more intense the slopes are in the Rockies, and Beaver Creek is no different. (check out the trail maps)

We snowboarded for 4 solid days and after each day everyone was completely exhausted. Usually everyone passed out by 10pm, but one night we took the opportunity to head over to Vail and check out the scene. By the end of the 4 days my calves were a jelly-like substance and there was no way I could think of spending any more time on the slopes. The only thing that kept me going was the excellent food that Katie, Jason and the group prepared each night, although I am quite sensitive to peppers now. We headed out Friday morning, and I caught my flight to Denver to continue the rest of my trip.

Hanging Out in Boulder and Denver

Ken picked me up from the Denver airport around 4pm on Friday and we headed over to his friend Scott’s place to hang out. While we were in Denver with Scott and Jenny we went to dinner at Tommy’s Thai. When we walked in we noticed that everyone was wearing jackets, gloves and stocking caps. It was very cold inside, but the food was worth it. I ordered medium hot Pad Thai and an order of vegetable gyoza, and every bite was excellent. I’m not a huge fan of Asian food, but I could eat at Tommy’s any day. After playing several games of pool and being reprimanded by a middle-aged woman in an “N’Sync” shirt, Ken and I headed up to Boulder where he lives.

The next morning we woke up early and got off to an extremely good start by having breakfast at Lucile’s. Breakfast is my favorite meal and I think its pretty hard to get a top of the line breakfast. There are many great lunch and dinner spots, but few places specialize on breakfast. Lucile’s breakfast was one of the best I have ever had. There were 3 or 4 things on the menu that I really wanted to order, but I finally settled on the New Orleans french toast. It came with eggs, sausage, fresh fruit, and was hands down one of the best breakfast meals I have ever had.

After breakfast Ken showed me around the Pearl Street Mall in downtown Boulder. There were all kinds of interesting shops and stores, and I picked up a few CDs from Bart’s CD Cellar. After a few hours of this we headed up to the foothills and walked around for a while. By this time we were ready for a late lunch so we headed back down to the city and stopped by Foolish Craig’s for a byte to eat. Once again the meal was incredible. I ordered their chicken salad sandwich and a Raspberry Frambozen and all was at peace. We walked around for a while longer then headed back for a break.

My friend James Taurman recently moved to Fort Collins, CO which is about 45 minutes north of Boulder, so I called him up when I got to town to see if he had plans. James drove down to Boulder to meet up with Ken and me at the Red Fish Brewhouse for dinner. We all ordered one of their Pilsners and I thought it was quite tasty. (I originally order their “Badonkadonk Brown,” but was disappointed to hear that they were sold out.) The meal was pretty good, although my previous three meals were a hard act to follow. James’ suggested that we head down to Denver to see Robert Randolph and the Family Band at the Fillmore Auditorium. Danny told me that Robert Randolph put on an excellent show at last year’s ACL Fest, so it sounded like a good plan to me.

Robert Randolph at the Fillmore in Denver

When we arrived at the Fillmore Auditorium there was a large gathering of people around the ticket window, but we were still able to get tickets. I thought the Fillmore was actually a really cool venue, with the blacklight-fueled purple chandeliers and the sunken center area. We were only there for about 5 minutes when a man on the center of the stage started making some incredible electric sounds. It sounded like a guitar, but the man did not appear to be playing a guitar. Then I finally realized that it was Robert Randolph and he was making these sounds on a pedal steel guitar, an instrument almost exclusively used in country music. But here he was playing it in funk/soul/blues music. Insane!

The show lasted about 2.5 hours, with about the last 30 minutes of that being a 4 song encore. These guys can really jam, as several of their songs lasted 10-15 minutes each. They are also great showmen. At one point in the show Robert started pulling people from the crowd and giving them an electric guitar (a PRS, btw) for them to play leads on. Two different white guys jumped up onto the stage, but their skills weren’t quite on the same level as the rest of the bands. Around that time the band also had about 25-30 girls from the audience come on stage and dance with them. But of all the stage tricks they had, the most amazing was when they started swapping instruments. At first Robert went back to play drums, while the drummer came down to play the pedal steel. Then Robert went to bass and the bass player got behind the drums. Then there was more swapping with the keyboard player until they all finally swapped back into place. The crazy thing was that each one of them did a fantastic job on each instrument, they are all extremely talented.

Without question this was the most high-energy concert I have ever seen, and I see a fair amount of music shows. Whenever he wanted to Robert would make the pedal steel screen and the entire room would be just buzzing with energy. This lasted throughout the entire show too, I have no idea how the band members can sustain it without any break other than the 3 minute gap between the show and the encore. In addition to their own original music they covered a few older songs including Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean”, Bobby McFaren’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” All in all, it was an excellent show and I would highly recommend checking out this band.

Wrapping it up…

Sunday morning Ken, James and I had a really good breakfast over at the Buff Restaurant in Boulder. Afterwards Ken and I bid farewell to James and then headed towards the Denver airport, where I had the only negative experience of the whole trip.

I arrived at the airport at about 12:45pm (an hour and fifteen minutes ahead of my flight), waited in line at the United Airlines counter for 30 minutes, and when I finally made it to the front I was told that I could not check my luggage and snowboard since the flight was scheduled to leave in less than 45 minutes. It was actually around 42 minutes before the scheduled departure time, and she told me that she didn’t care that I had waited in line for 30 minutes, only to miss the checkin deadline by 3 minutes. I had checked-in online the night before, I only needed my baggage to make the flight. I told her that the baggage could come on a later flight if necessary, but she wasn’t interested in making a deal. She put me on standby for the next flight to San Antonio, which was at 7:30 and told me there was almost certainly no way I would make it, as the flight was already overbooked. Thanks, lady. After talking with several other people for the next hour and a half I finally ended up in front of a man with a brain and the will to get things done. He immediately told me to ignore what everyone else had told me, and that he would put get me a seat on the 7:30 flight, which is exactly what he did. I asked if there was anyway that I could tip him, but he said no and quickly asked to help the next person. Rock on, dude.

I’ll probably avoid United Airlines from now on, just as I have done with Northwest for the past year. Sometimes the lower price just isn’t worth it.

Overall, I had an excellent trip and it was great to see a few old friends and make some new ones. Oh, and Boulder has topped San Francisco in my list of most awesome cities. I didn’t think that would be possible, but The People’s Republic of Boulder is one extremely cool place.

• • •

December 15, 2005

Terry Allen and Friends in Los Angeles

Filed under: Friends,Music,Places — Cory @ 1:40 am

A few weeks ago I discovered that Terry Allen would be performing his “Dugout III: Warboy” for three nights in Los Angeles. I’ve been trying to see Terry Allen for a while, and since he does not perform very often I thought it might be a good idea to check this out. I knew that Chris was out in L.A., and I figured he might want to go as well. A few IM’s later I had tickets to the show and my flights booked.

Chris picked me up from LAX last Friday afternoon, and apparently he can now read minds because as soon as I hopped in his jeep he asked if I was hungry for In-n-Out Burger. I had just spent 3 hours on a plane, mostly thinking about eating at In-n-Out Burger, so yea, perfect. Mmmm so good!

That evening we went to the “rooftop bar” at The Standard hotel. This is an open air bar on the top of a high-rise hotel in downtown L.A. There is a pool up there, and these big red pods shaped like giant Hershey’s kisses with waterbeds in them. It was a pretty cool place to hang out, and there were some sweet views from up there.

Later that night we met up with Chris’s friend, the Dread Pirate, and headed over to Cozy’s to see Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys. These guys were a lot of fun and put on a pretty good show. Also, it was interesting to see the SoCal rock-a-billy crowd, it must be pretty rough being stuck in 1952.

Saturday afternoon we went down to Hollywood Boulevard. While walking down the sidewalk we passed by Richard Pryor’s star, who had died earlier that day. There were people there with cameras taking pictures of the star with flowers on it.

Saturday night was the event I had been waiting for: Terry Allen’s “Dugout III: Warboy.” After a sushi dinner at R23, Chris and I headed over to the REDCAT theater to catch the show. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that it was some sort of theatrical performance that included Terry’s wife, Jo Harvey Allen, as well as Lloyd Maines and Richard Bowden, but beyond that I wasn’t sure. As it turned out, the show consisted of Jo Harvey telling a story based on Terry’s parent’s lives, while the three musicians performed the soundtrack of original music. This might not sound that interesting, but let me assure you, it was incredible. Not only was the story extremely fascinating, but the music was pure Terry Allen and was excellent.

Afterwards we headed out to Tommy’s Burgers for a late night snack. Before eating at Tommy’s I thought that Chester’s made the world’s messiest chili-cheeseburger, but now I know I was wrong. Tommy’s burgers are served from a stand on the side of the road, and you do not even have the option of ordering a burger without chili — like the bun and the meat patty, its part of the experience. About 15 napkins later I realized that I had been defeated, so I called it quits.

The trip was quick but it was a lot of fun. Thanks again to Chris for letting me crash there and showing me around the city.

• • •

November 28, 2005

Back in the Day: ICQ, Winamp and WinNuke

Filed under: Friends,General,Technology — Cory @ 3:00 am

Last night my buddy Johnny Strunk and I were reminiscing about the old crazy days of instant messaging, and I started thinking about my early experiences with computers and the Internet.

Growing up in Blackstone, VA, I spent most of my teenage years focused on go-carts, guitars, basketball and squirrel hunting (yes, its true). My dad had computers around the house for years and our home was one of the first in the county to be on CompuServe. However, it was all text based and I had never really taken much of an interest.

Strunk was just the opposite. He was all into computers and was the man around our high school1 for fixing anything that used electricity. At that time, most of the computers at Kenston were still old Apple IIe’s, with a few Macintosh’s mixed in whenever the school could scrape together some extra cash. Strunk hated messing with those old Apple’s, and by the time we graduated he was happy that the school had been given an old Dell running Windows 3.1.

Around this time “AOL” was becoming a household name (at least in our neck of the woods) and Strunk had a subscription. It was at his house in the spring of 1997 that I first saw a website, and it was a memorable one: www.heavensgate.com. Those crazy black-nike-wearing, spaceship-riding aliens had just committed suicide and their website was all over the news. Of all the websites on the Internet, this is what my friend chose to introduce me to the World Wide Web.

When I arrived on the Hampden-Sydney campus as a freshman in the fall of 1997 I was far from computer saavy. It was the first year that HSC had recommended that students bring their own computers, so when it came time for me to head off to school my dad hooked me up with a sweet Pentium 166MHz with 16MB of RAM and a 3GB hard drive running Windows 95, of course. I had no idea what to do with the machine, so at first it was mainly used as a glorified CD player. Asking Strunk for help was not an option, as he was two hours away working on his computer science degree at his new home, The College of William and Mary.

 [ ICQ ] After a couple weeks of school I got an email from Strunk, telling me to go to www.mirabilis.com and download something called ICQ. I did this and installed the software, and after a few emails from Strunk, I had my UIN2 and was online. Of course, initially I had no idea what this meant or how it was significant. I hated typing emails, and this seemed to be a way to get in touch with people without composing an email, so I was all for it. Soon he showed me how to send files through ICQ, and he sent something to me that he said was music. I clicked on it, and nothing happened, so he told me to go to www.nullsoft.com and download something called Winamp. After I downloaded and installed the software, Strunk told me to drag the music file on top of the Winamp window. I can remember the excitement as I listened to that first mp3 (“Far Behind” by Candlebox) and realized that my friends and I could send music to each other, for free!

 [ Winamp ] So this whole trip down memory lane started last night when Strunk reminded me about one really annoying (and fun) feature of the early ICQ clients, some of you may also remember this. I can’t recall exactly what it was named, but there was a feature that allowed you to playback a foghorn sound on a recipients machine. Anyone who had this happen to them can probably still remember the sound. The first few times this happened to me I was completely confused and thought my computer had contracted some sort of extremely obnoxious virus. I soon discovered that I also had this ability, and neither friends nor family were spared, but I thought it was hilarious.

 [ WinNuke 95 ] This reminded me of another annoying little Windows app that we had a lot of fun with: WinNuke. WinNuke was a small app that could be given an IP address, and it would DOS it. It took advantage of the WinNuke OOB vulnerability and would completely crash the victim’s computer. Combined with ICQ (which would reveal a person’s IP address), we used WinNuke to “bluescreen” all of our friends on campus. I can remember “nuking” one friend’s computer when he was apparently nearly finished with a paper. I guess this was before word processors had auto-save because he claimed to have lost all his work, but I always doubted he had actually written anything. For some reason, these things never stopped being funny.

It wasn’t long after this that Strunk set up my first Linux desktop for me and I started down a more serious path with computers. But, that’s a story for another day.

1. For those that do not know, I attended grades 4-12 at Kenston Forest School, a small, rural private school in my home town of Blackstone, VA. This was not an elite “rich kids” boarding school. Think “Happy Days” meets “Green Acres“. The school was poor and always needed money. Fundraisers included selling Coach’s Brunswick Stew, selling fruit, selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and selling tickets to the “Texas Festival,” an all-you-can-eat BBQ/ribs/stew event. Notice a trend?

2. Although I have not regularly logged on to ICQ in almost 4 years, I still remember my UIN as if it were my social security number.

• • •
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