Grateful, flattered and a big ‘Thanks Mom’

Thankful, humbled, flattered, honored & feeling blessed.  The last week brought lots of good news and opened new doors without closing any.  Whether its good karma, good luck or simply I that had great parents who raised me right I keep getting more and more opportunities to thrive in everything I enjoy.  Thanks mom!  A belated happy mother’s day to you (don’t worry I woke her up with a Skype call as I went to bed.  Time zones are funny like that).

On that mother’s day Skype call my parents commented that it seems like my “life is in between vacations.”  I’ve got a good job that affords me plenty of time to travel but more importantly living in Korea means I’m always traveling.  So how could things get better than they already were?  I had no idea until these last few days.

Over the weekend I attended my 2nd Google Apps for Education Conference.  It was amazing, I learned a tremendous amount to help me personally as an educator and independently with productivity tricks.  (stay tuned for an overview of the best tips & lifehacks!)  At the end we were invited on stage (roughly 200 attendees) to do a “Demo Slam” (a 2 minute presentation of on an awesome Techno trick).  I won a cool laptop bag but more importantly while networking later in the evening they asked if I would present next year!  What an honor.  I of course said yes and have already begun preparing a trial presentation for my coworkers.

The networking continued as I met dozens of teachers from international schools all over Asia.  Uh oh.  All over Asia?  Yeah, I don’t know when I’m leaving Korea but there’s no guarantee leaving Korea means returning home.  Especially if I can get into a fancy international school and explore some new corner of the world!

Already on cloud 9 from the conference I finalized my summer plans and have begun coming to the realization that I’ll be spending 3 weeks in Thailand this summer!  Brian and I are hoping to jump on motor bikes and explore the northern jungles in between beach days and hopping over to Cambodia to see Angor Wat.

Hours after those tickets were purchased I was asked to be a Teaching Mentor!  I was taken aback.  He couldn’t truly be asking me to be his teaching mentor?  I’m still young.  Aren’t I?  Okay so I’m almost 30 (with dreamy thoughts of a destination 30th on the beach!) but I’ve only been teaching for a handful of years.  I’ve always known I was good with kids and thought highly of my teaching abilities but never wanted to be pretentious.  I guess I’m inspiring more than just my students but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to be a mentor.  Does it?

I confided in him that I wasn’t sure I was qualified but IF I meet the requirements I would be happy to oblige.  Then I started to think back to the mentors in my career.  Most if not all of them mothers by now so happy mothers day to Roe, Judy, & Sue; they were some of the most influential teachers in my early career.  Can’t forget Dr. C and all my amazing professors.  I know I’m not quite among their ranks but in makes me proud to know I’m on track!

So like I said.  I’ve got it pretty good.  The truth is after leaving that crappy hagwon I have had few complaints and many thanks.  Thank you mom & dad especially for helping me become a son that you are proud of.  A person that I’m proud to be.  Thank you to all the mentors and role models in my life from Aunts, Uncles & extended family to coaches, scout leaders and of course my teachers!

How to plan a daily travel budget

The best thing to do when budgeting your travel is to make a list of all your expected expenses. We all know to factor in housing, food, transportation, entertainment, excursions and some misc money for souvenirs or emergencies but how do I know what that will cost in different countries?  Exchange rates are always confusing and only get tougher the more places you visit.  I’ve been traveling Asia for nearly 2 years and my favorite planning tool is  
Budget Your trip

This website is fantastic!  It gives you a break down daily expected costs for 10 different categories ranging from accommodation to food or entertainment.  You can see sample expenses based on actual traveler’s experiences.

1st pick your destination.  Next decide if you are a budget, mid-range or luxury traveler.  I like to check all 3 out and usually settle on something between budget & mid-range like staying in a mid-range hostel but then doing a lot of free activities & cheap meals.  Once I figure out my mid-range accommodation costs & budget expenses I add 10-20% on top and plan to spend that amount.  That way I’m happy I usually end up under budget on my trips and still get to do everything I want!

Check it out, play around and let me know what you think.  What’s your favorite travel planning website?  What travel hacks do you use?

Shanghai to Newark – 3 Planes

Nothing could have prepared me for the wave of emotion that overcame me when I got in line at PVG, Shanghai’s airport.  My gate read SEATTLE, printed neatly in digital letters just above it.  After a year and a half of living in Asia I was actually going home.  Soon I’d board for a mindless trip across the Pacific and set foot on home turf for the first time in what seemed like ages.  A tear came to my eye as I envisioned greeting my parents, friends and of course sweet delicious American burgers, steaks, pizza and everything else that makes us world renowned as the fattest country on Earth.

I don’t know how many hours I was in the air, how many hours I was travelling or how far the distance was.  I do know that it was an incredibly disorienting process to board 3 different planes in 3 different time zones and would without a doubt do it again in a heartbeat!  I slept half a dozen times, saw 2 sunsets (no sunrises), Mt. Fuji, a seas of clouds and clear blue water.  Luckily for you this was my first flight where phones were allowed the entire time (on airplane mode of course).   Delta Airlines made the announcement and I promptly took advantage of it to film out of my 3 window seats.  Enjoy the video!


Boston Layer Lapse by Julian Tryba

I love photography and I love Boston.  Julian Tryba has done an amazing job of combining these two infatuations with a brand new photography technique he is calling layer lapse.  Tryba uses modern technology and an artistic eye to tastefully edit the videos; he changes select portions of each scene to be a different time of the day.  Enjoy this fascinating video with a 21st century charm!


Traditional time-lapses are constrained by the idea that there is a single universal clock. In the spirit of Einstein’s relativity theory, layer-lapses assign distinct clocks to any number of objects or regions in a scene. Each of these clocks may start at any point in time, and tick at any rate. The result is a visual time dilation effect known as layer-lapse.