Cruising Asia

Finally, it’s going to happen! About a year from now, I’ll be taking a cruise from Japan to Hong Kong, with numerous stops along the way. My Hungarian friend Tibor and his wife will be joining me for the journey. I’ll be starting with a few days touring Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto, and then it’s onto the Volendam, which happens to be the sister ship of the Zaandam, which I was on this past summer. Besides Japan, I’m really looking forward to seeing Beijing, where I’ll probably have to take an overnight trip to see “everything” there.
This trip won’t be cheap, but I’m going to make it happen. I’m totally excited about it, even though it’s still so far away!
PS — Naha is Okinawa, and Keelung is Taipei.

Poor house

Remember my house in Brentwood? Today I saw it again for the first time in a long time. I was out there on a wild goose chase caused by a camera company (which will not be named) and UPS. I ended up going to the old house to look for a package that was delivered to me there, instead of the house I’ve been living in for three years.
I knew the house was back on the market, with an asking price $240,000 below what I sold it for three years ago (talk about good timing). Today I found out that the bank foreclosed on it in the last few days. The lawn in front of my old house was dead, with the only green being a patch of weeds (the photo above was taken when I moved in). Inside was totally empty. Two or three other houses on the street were in similar condition.
It was sad to see what has happened… living here in the the Oakland Hills, I’m kind of shielded from the housing disaster. But spend five minutes in Brentwood and you’ll quickly see just how devastating it’s been.

Someone’s ship has come in

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All kinds of high-tech electronics, as you’d expect
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The crew was busy swabbing the deck

The Maltese Falcon has been hanging around San Francisco Bay in recent days. The ship, owned by gazillionaire Tom Perkins, was parked at Pier 35 today, so I took a few pictures. This is one of the largest sailboats/yachts you’ll find, and it’s pretty high tech, too. Did I mention that it’s on the market? I hear the asking price is $115 million.

Angel Island burns

Angel Island is the largest island in San Francisco Bay, and right now, it’s on fire. Amit popped on to ICQ to tell me that he could see something burning in the distnace, so I headed up the hill and took these pictures with my EOS-40D, 70-200 F4L lens, and 1.4X teleconverter (click for larger versions):

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Are the glory days over?

I was flying home from my really nice trip to Maui today when I started putting together a spreadsheet. On one side, I listed my expenses: things like mortgage, property tax, insurance — you know, things that you can’t get away from. I threw a few other things on the list like the gym and therapy — things I could live without (though I’d hate to give up the latter).
On the other side of the spreadsheet was my consistent income. It’s been dropping over the last two years, and really took a dive this summer, as the economy tanked. Advertising is about as mediocre as it has been over the years (though I did have a nice Casio campaign recently), with the real hurt coming from the huge decline in PriceGrabber clicks.
I subtracted my expenses from my revenue and was shocked at the result. I have very little money leftover when all is said and done! And, if things continue to worsen (as I expect), I may have a big crisis on my hands.
I really don’t want to have to dig into my savings — which have dropped by like 40% this year — so I may have to consider other things. Cutting all unnecessary expenses. Monetizing the website is new ways. If that doesn’t work… get a job? Sell the site, or shut it down entirely? I’d hate to give it all up after 11 years of hard work, but I’m starting to wonder if I’ll even have a choice.
Quite a sour note to end the vacation on….