North Carolina Museum of Natural History

We were up in Raleigh this past weekend. Asa had to work so I went to play. Of course the science nerd I am headed straight for the Natural History Museum.

This is the second time I’ve been there and it didn’t disappoint, again. The museum does a couple of things really well:

1. It’s free!

2. They have an amazing collection of live animals including snakes, fish, turtles, frogs, and insects.

3. They have a butterfly room you can walk through with lots of live butterflies. Warning – it’s closed on Monday’s.

4. They have a whole section of the museum dedicated to research and education. There are science labs with glass windows so you can look inside and see what the scientists are doing. In addition they have “meet the researchers and learn about the research” time.

5. Dinosaurs!
Great for kids and science nerds alike! I thoroughly enjoyed myself!

Advertisements

Energy Audit

Now that we have gotten settled from all the holiday and school traveling, we have started focusing on the house. Well that’s kind of a lie… We actually got an energy audit done on the house before Thanksgiving and we’re just now dealing with the results.

Anyway… What is an energy audit? Well, it’s a comprehensive review of your house and it’s ability to maintain internal conditions (temperature and humidity). The goal is to identify aspects of your house’s construction or appliances that are deficient, defective, or costing you a lot to use and make repairs/replacements to lower your cost on energy and make your home more efficient. The best part about this process is that the power company encourages it and will give rebates (up to about $3000 for GeorgiaPower) if you can reduce your energy usage by certain amounts.

Our house is basically a leaky sieve with a 25 year old HVAC system and lots of awesome windows, so we knew there were plenty of things that needed some work. We decided to work with a local company that came with a glowing recommendation, Energy Conservation Solutions (ECS).

ecs-logo-new-11

We worked with them through a 3-step process:

  1. Initial energy audit – The crew comes to your house and assesses everything including weather stripping, appliances, large systems like HVAC and water heater, window sealing, fans, etc… They assess how well your house is sealed from the outside using a vacuum apparatus where they pump air out of your house and look at where air comes back in using a nifty little instrument that detects differences in temperature. They head back to their office and write up a detailed report, including pictures, and prioritize issues based on the easiest to fix vs. most energy gains if it is fixed. This includes an estimated cost of the work if they were to do it (you can also contract everything out if you want).
  2. Do the work – We decided to have ECS do all the work for us because it was easy and we trusted the quality of work they would do. We had some extensive work done, including the installation of copious amounts of insulation in the attic space and a complete sealing off of our crawl space. The work took 3 days. The crew was great.
  3. Re-assess – After all the work is completed ECS comes back to the house to re-test the house for energy improvements and sealing. They must notify Georgia Power in case it wants to send people to oversee. We were told they rarely show up, but we must be really lucky because not one, but two people showed up from Georgia Power. Under normal circumstances this process should only take about an hour, and then ECS will fill out all the paperwork and submit it to Georgia Power and a rebate comes in the mail. Easy peasy!

Unfortunately our special house failed the re-assessment. Now that the house is all nice and sealed up, part of the re-assessment is to make sure that our big systems (HVAC and water heater) can run properly and control their wastes (like carbon monoxide). To do this, they test them at maximal levels and then at normal use levels. Our water heater failed at both levels and our HVAC failed at the maximal level. So, before they were just old and now they’re a safety hazard. It wasn’t a surprise because they are 25 years old and this is why we were so adamant about extending our home warranty for three years. So now we have 60 days to get new major systems and submit paperwork to Georgia Power to get our rebate. Ouch! On the other hand, when we’re done with everything our house is going to be super duper energy efficient!

 

Walkabout – Holiday Style

We have always been a relatively untraditional family, but our holidays still involve eating copious amounts of food and consuming too much liquor. Everything else we do is generally done so that we can “eat more later” or to “make up for what we’ve already eaten”.

We usually make an effort to get outside and do active things. This Christmas day we had a walkabout through the neighborhood. It just happens to be a block from the beach and it just happened to be a gorgeous day.

We set out with no plans, but came home three hours later with new nooks explored and a renewed appreciation for the sleepy little beach town of Morro Bay, California.

Some highlights included:

IMG_0805

The duck pond at a housing tract right along the beach called the Cloisters. We learned that black coots have coot babies with fuzzy yellow heads (not pictured).

IMG_0811

Gorgeous views of Morro Rock from the newly completed bike/walking path.

IMG_0812

Surfers trying to catch little waves at the breakwater. Its hard to imagine that when the swells come through that the surf is huge!

IMG_0842

A secret canopy of trees lining the path behind Morro Bay High School.

Other highlights not pictured include the derelict miniature golf course in front of the high school and random trees along the bike path that were decorated with ornaments.

What new treasures have you discovered on your walkabouts?

After a Long Hiatus: We’re Back!

Wow, it’s been a while. Sorry about the absence… Its been a busy year!

1. I have now completed my whole first year as a high school biology and environmental science teacher at a great private school! I really enjoyed myself and am certainly enjoying my summer break!

2. We have had a series of roommates, ending with the best… Matt! He moved back to the states in November, and in an effort to start up a business with my husband, he moved in with us. And he’s still here!

3. My husband and I bought a house! Its a super awesome place and I’m sure there’ll be lots of future posts about our adventures in home ownership.

4. My husband and I went to Europe (Italy and Croatia) to see one of our best friends get married to the man of her dreams in a crazy multilingual, multicultural week-long event near the sea.

I am going to try and get back into the habit of writing a post or two each week, or when something exciting happens. You can expect upcoming posts on the above topics as well as our gardening projects, putting in ceiling fans, and the gym!

Here’s a teaser picture for the next post… our vacation to Europe!

2014-06-11 06.00.52

 

Matt’s 2012 in Review

A Year of Uncertainty and Adventure

In January 2012, I left my job, sold almost all of my belongings, and said bye to family and friends to embark on a journey that I had no clue where it would take me.

In January 2013, I’m still on that journey, living on the opposite side of the world. This journey is transforming into a way of life, and different way of seeing the world.

We’re at a point in time that the internet allows us to create our own jobs, live anywhere in the world and work whoever we choose. Luckily, I’ve been able to keep in touch with friends and family online no matter where I’m at in the World. Skype, Google Hangout, social media, and this blog have been great at helping us keep in touch. PS: Thanks Randi for writing so much and pushing Asa and I to write a couple posts! 🙂

Here it is…

January was a month of getting rid of the last of my belongings (thanks to advice from Joshua and Ryan) and saying bye to friends, family, my job, most hobbies. Luckily, friends are always willing to throw a party, especially if it means it’s the last time they’ll see you in many months if not years.

bonvoyagecookiecake

Thanks for the yummy cookie cake Michelle

I moved down to Palermo, Uruguay with Asa and Randi. They were pretty much the main reason I’m doing this. If they didn’t decide it would be alright for me to join them, I might have never made the trip. Asa and Randi, I owe you guys the World. You guys freakin’ rock! I hope you will come visit one day!

This is a good hair day

This is a good hair day!

I became conversational in spanish down there. We could have probably been fluent in spanish in 3 months, but making fun of each other in English was so much fun.

I was bad at taking pictures in South America. I’m blaming it on the fact that I didn’t have a working camera most of the time since the lens’ dinner of choice was sand.

Carnival in Uruguay!!

carnival

Candle Festival in Montevideo, Uruguay. They send boats with candles, flowers, and decorations into the water for good luck.

candlefestivalmontevideo

I met Carlos, JuanMa, and Maru in Palermo after finding out there was ultimate frisbee in Uruguay. Luckily they spoke enough English to communicate with us.

12-hour travel to play in the Bahia Blanca Beach hat tourney

8hrbustrip

I sang karaoke with 4 others in front of hundreds (it was the US National Anthem)

nationalanthemkaraoke

Champions!

campeones - pink gazzo

I wrestled an alligator (crocodile)

wrestledanalligator

Hey Mom! I’m a foreign TV star… in 2 countries!

tvuruguay

I played in 4 Ultimate Frisbee tournaments outside of the US

uruguaybrazilultimate

argentinasavage

3v3minitourney

In the voice of 300 Spartans… This is CIMARRON!

cimarronsudaka2012

The AFDC and Spin Ultimate made it possible to donate 80 discs and jerseys to help South America further Ultimate Frisbee as a sport

discs

I learned to salsa in Argentina at 4am. (I wouldn’t call it learning, more like drunken wobbling side to side)

dancedsalsa

We played fun tournament games

I learned how to play the piano… with my feet!

IMG_0226

I had another going away party. This time it was for leaving Uruguay.

despidiendoamatt

Viva Las Vegas!

I got back together with the family in Vegas. I went to my Sister’s and Blake’s (now brother-in-law!) wedding. It was a gorgeous and awesome wedding. It was a lot of fun. I lost money at poker (it was overdue) but had a blast with Derek, Blake’s family and my family! So many good times and fun things happened.

tiffandblakewedding

Yum! In-N-Out Burger with a creeper in the background.

inandoutburgervegas

Ziplining with Dad in Vegas!

IMG_1405

Off to Puerto Galera

After too much excitement in Vegas, I headed out to Puerto Galera, Philippines to get together with a bunch of people from the DC and the TropicalMBA. Joining the DC was probably the biggest game changer this year as far as business is concerned. I won’t talk about that now.

In Puerto Galera, I caught some amazing sunrises, had a birthday applechicken with the crew at Badladz and tried to swim with Dolphins.

amazingsunrise

Birthday chicken apple lunch!!

birthdayturkeyapple

Taking a short break from work!

horsegoatreindeer  junglemountainhike

Beautiful view of Puerto Galera from the top of the jungle trek

amazingislands

jungletrek2

Rented a villa with 2 friends for half a week in Puerto Galera. Our Dive master picked us up from our dock!

rentedavillaaccessiblebyboat

Survived a water buffalo ride!

rodewaterbuffalo

tmbaexploration

The crew chillin on the beach

tmbapgbeach

Tuk tuk transportation

tuktuk

Trying to swim with some dolphins

After this, I headed back to Manila for a few days to meet with some friends.

I slept on a boat in Manila

sleptonaboat

Enjoyed the Manila Skyline at night

manilaatnight

Off to Bangkok, Thailand!

After the Philippines, I flew over to Bangkok for a big meetup of about 70-80 Dynamite Circle members from all around the World.

This was my view for three days in Bangkok.

conferenceinbangkok

We met for three days in a convention center. I met people who hide from the public, well-known influencers, people just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey, and established ballers who are all living the lifestyle of their choice from wherever they want around the World.

I was bad at taking pictures here.

In Chiang Mai

Posing at a temple

dancedatatemple

Words of wisdom at a temple

mistake

Met up with Joel within my first few weeks in Chiang Mai. I was introduce to Melina and Orn then, two awesome people. Robert was laughing so hard he forgot to open his eyes.

Sick mustache, Joel.

joelandcrew

Marvin was traveling through so we went to the sticky waters where you can climb them. We decided some sort of Yoga pose would be best.

yogastickywaterfallmarvin

Cliff jumping in Chiang Mai.

jumpedoffcliff

Lantern release – sending bad thoughts away. Bringing in good thoughts.

badthoughtsgo

Thousands of lanterns released at Yi Peng lantern festival during Loi Krathong. This moment was incredible. At one point in time, I couldn’t even see the sky there were so many lanterns right above my head.

yipengloikrathong

Celebrating Turkey day with Apple Pie Shots

celebratedturkeyday

Temple in Chiang Mai

templeschiangmai

Manila Spirits 2012

Cabs R Here losing the 3rd place game to Derek Ramsey in Rock-Paper-Scissors

 losinggamesinrockpaperscissor

Was introduced through a Sam to Sam. Played with him in Manila

metsam

Dancing with the Aussies and Canadian!

dancedwithaussies

Photobomb #1 – Beer me!

photobombed1

Photobomb #2 – epic makeout scene

photobombed2

Photobomb #3 – Like a Boss

photobombed3

Surviving the Mayan Apocalypse in style!

survivedinstyle

Taking pictures of myself… as always

tookpixofmyself

Cabs R Here!!!

cabsrhere

What the Deuce in Chiang Mai’s first ultimate frisbee league.

wtdchiangmaiultimatefrisbee

Family sent me awesome christmas presents!!

celebratedchristmas

White elephant present – awesome Thailand Tshirt

bestwhiteelephantgiftever

Meeting up with cousins Jimmy and Janie and friend Sandy after their domination runs in Chiang Mai.

metcousins

Coffee at Ristr8o with the #DCCM crew on Christmas day

coffeewithdccmcrew

White elephant gift exchange

giftexchange

Christmas day street food dinner with cousins Jimmy and Janie!

Christmasdinner

Some lessons learned:

People all around you have a strong influence on who you are as a person. Surround yourself with people you look up.

Different cultures around the World can take a while to adapt to. By having a strong core, open eyes and ears, and the ability to see other’s points of view, you can go extremely far in life and be extremely successful (no matter what “success” means to you).

When you let yourself be open to opportunity, doors start showing up in front of you and you just have to choose which ones your going to open and which path your going to go down.

Learning a language is hard, but you’ll get a lot more respect and your stay will be easier if you learn some basic language and show you’re trying. You’ll also get good mental benefits from learning to speak a new language.

Leverage your hobbies to create strong and lasting friendships wherever you go.

There is something unique about Ultimate Frisbee and spirit of the game. If you play ultimate frisbee, make sure to look for ultimate everywhere you go. You will instantly create awesome friends and people all around. I have made so many friends this past year through ultimate and everyone is awesome in their own way. Whether I was partying in Uruguay at 6am with you, dancing/drinking in Argentina, surviving the Apocalypse with the Aussies in Manila, or playing league in Chiang Mai, you guys have been freaking awesome!

This journey would not be the same without ultimate and all the people I’ve met playing ultimate along the way. If there is anything I can ever do for you guys, you know where to contact me!

The same can be said for anyone in the DC. #DCCM, you guys rock! I’ve had a blast in Chiang Mai. Now, it’s time to move it to #DCPai and get more serious about health, fitness, work, and productivity.

It’s not as easy as it seems…

Going out and traveling sure does seem like fun, but there are a lot things that make it difficult. In the beginning, you have to give up on a lot of things like going out and drinking with friends a lot, skipping over to another country for fun, doing expensive dinners. You really have to be the boring friend sometimes who sits inside on a Friday evening and throughout the weekend getting the work done. Your good friends will understand, but most won’t.

Whatever you do, just make sure you follow Derek Sivers’ motto: it’s either “HELL Yeah! or no.”

Most people won’t understand what you do. They see the great pictures, the travel, the fun, but they don’t understand the struggles and the work you do.

Leaving friends is hard. Sure, I’ve made great friends along the way, but with everyday I make a new friend, that’s a day that’s passed that I haven’t seen an old friend from backhome.

The hardest part is probably leaving family. Luckily I can video chat and skype with my family back home, but it’s definitely hard celebrating birthdays, holidays, especially Christmas without the family. Technology doesn’t always work and frustrating times come along that. You just have to accept the fact that s#!@ happens sometimes and there will be another time to say hi!

You have to be like water in a stream, flowing over and around the rocks, the hard times. I think there’s a Chinese proverb about that.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned this whole trip, and it’s something I knew and learned from Mo, quality relationships are pretty much the most important things in life. Without trust, friendship, support, prodding, and pushing from peers, mentors, mentees, friends, family, others, life can be A LOT harder than it has to be.

Go out and create great relationships. Keep in touch, help others, and connect people when you can! Be good to others.

I could write this post about business stuff, finances, etc, but the most important thing to me is connecting, helping, and having fun with people.

2012 was a year of travel and creating incredible friendships. 

I’m looking forward to 2013 to be a year of creating and deepening relationships and fine tuning my habits and rituals to be more productive and grow my business efforts this year. 
Don’t worry, Mom! I’ll work on taking more and better pictures and keeping everyone updated!

2013 is a year for shipping. Get your work out! Go big or go home (going home isn’t an option here). Do something that matters and the world will reward you for it.

I Like My Lettuce With a Little Dirt On It

Last Friday while I was making dinner I realized that I really enjoy finding a bit of dirt on my produce. It means it’s fresh, no one tried to shine it up for me, and it wasn’t processed.

Friday is farmer’s market day, the day that we stock up on every little bit of fresh produce that we think we can manage to eat before it goes bad. We would much rather go to the farmer’s market to procure fresh produce because 1. it’s fresh and 2. its cheap.

Not only is the produce available at the farmer’s market fresh, but most of it is naturally or “responsibly” grown. In fact about 10% of Uruguay’s GDP is agriculture. Uruguay is a small country with a lot of undeveloped land that can be used for agriculture, and much of that farming is done without the use of pesticides and insecticides. Considering that it takes about 7 hours to reach the borders of Uruguay, most of the produce is also produced very locally! Uruguay even made ChinaBusiness’ top 10 Organic Farming countries list.

This tendency to work the land naturally also carries over to the cattle industry in Uruguay. The cattle raised in Uruguay, giving rise to the two biggest exports for the country, beef and leather goods, are all grass-fed, never given hormones, or kept in pens. The USDA has also granted Uruguayan beef grass-fed certification for U. S. markets.

Obviously it’s a great start and there’s always room to improve, but I gotta say that the produce available in Montevideo tastes much better than what we find in U.S. grocery stores.

Next time you prepare a meal, think about where your food is coming from. Find out about farmer’s markets in your area and think about eating locally. Also, for people in the U.S., think about checking out the Union of Concerned Scientists who are making concerted efforts at improving farm bill legislation to make it easier for organic farmers to survive and prosper.

Tristan Navarja Sunday Market

We have explored the market at Tristan Navarja twice since we’ve been here. It is a huge market, much like the one in Parque Rodo, except bigger. The market stretches down the street for about 8 blocks and oozes out onto the surrounding streets for 2 or 3 blocks in each direction. If you need it, you can find it at the market. Not kidding. You want a rooster? They have it. You want an antique gun? They have it. You want some fish or an aquarium? They have it. You want food? They have that. You want books, decorations, clothes, a new pet, maté or bombillas, plants, tarantulas, jewelry, or furniture? Yeah, they have it.

Check out just some of the things we saw: