Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

36 inches of snow last week. I'm getting tired of shoveling.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Here is my basic timeline for what it is worth:

May 2008: Applied to PC

June 2008: Interview (They were actually doing interviews at the University of Dayton two days after I sent in my application and I basically invited myself)

June or July 2008: Had a follow up phone interview where I was told I would likely be nominated

September 2008: My recruiter called to tell me there weren't any open slots at the moment and that my application would be placed on hold until there was one

November 2008: I was told that they found a match for me in the Pacific but all the spots filled up before I could be placed

December 2008: I was nominated (finally) for a business program in sub-Saharan Africa departing November 2009

January-April 2009: Getting all the medical, legal, and dental paperwork done. It was a huge pain (mostly because I traveled for work and was never in the same place for more than 3 days). It is a ton of paperwork and it has to be filled out completely and correctly or they won't look at it.

April 2009: Dental clearance

June 2009: Medical Clearance

August 2009: Legal Clearance

Late August 2009: Got a call from the DC Peace Corps office which I think will be a call offering me an invitation. Instead, it is a call to tell me that my November program has been canceled and PC will do its best to reassign me.

September 2009: I receive another nomination to do small business development and HIV/AIDS education in sub-Saharan Africa

November 2009: Receive my invitation in the mail (USPS, not FedEx). I read through all of the materials and call back to accept the nomination.

My application process is a little more drawn out than most. From application to invitation, it was about 18 months. When the say Peace Corps values patience and flexibility they really aren't kidding.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Congratulations! You Have Been Invited to Become a Peace Corps Volunteer

What a long, grueling, and strange process this has been. I have officially been invited to serve in the Peace Corps.

I will serve in Botswana, leaving in April. My job is to work with with Non-Government HIV/AIDS organizations as a capacity builder.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Up, Up, and Away

A good friend of mine that I have known since second grade came out to Reno. He is a pilot and was in the area. I got to catch up and show him Reno for a few days and on the day he left, he took me up in his plane for a ride around Tahoe.

The view from up in the air was different than what I am used to and I spent much of the trip gazing out of the window. We climbed to over 10,000 feet to clear the mountains surrounding the lake and then flew over the lake for a bit. Clayton let me fly the plane across the lake so now I can cross that one of the bucket list.

(You can click on any of the pictures to enlarge them.)

His plane. The wings and most of the body are actually covered in fabric. Yes, fabric.

Clayton and me in the cockpit. He actually looks like a pilot and I just pretended for the day.

The instrument panel in the plane. It was a pretty simple setup.

View of Mt. Rose Highway with Mt. Rose and Slide Mountain in the background.

Mt. Rose Ski Resort.

Lake Tahoe. This is right around the border between NV and CA.

Dollar Point

One last view of the lake before we headed home

The University of Nevada

And, for your viewing pleasure, here is a video of our landing. They say any landing you walk away from is a good landing, but this one was pretty smooth. It is quite a different experience getting to see out of the front of the airplane rather than a little window on the side.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Beer! (Take Two)

One of the truths of my life is that I haven't laughed at myself for doing something stupid I really haven't tried.

Today was a laugh at myself kind of day.

I opened up my fermenter after waiting a week expecting the magic of fermentation to have transformed the not so good looking green goo into beer (or at least something that remotely resembled beer).

I opened the bucket and it was still green and did not smell very good.
It was a pale green color and I couldn't bring myself to even try it. I poured it all down the drain. There goes my effort and my time waiting.
So I went back to the home brew store and when I walked in, it took me all of two seconds to realize what I did wrong. I had forgotten to add the main ingredient. For a bad comparison, imagine baking a cake and forgetting to put flour in. Yeah, my mistake was huge. It is no small wonder that it turned out so weird. My concoction was only hop pellets and the finishing sugar (which is intended to be used right before bottling to give the beer carbonation).

Needless to say I felt like a complete and utter idiot. Robert, who owns Reno Homebrewer didn't laugh and even gave me another ingredient kit for free. Check them out here: ( Great place and even better people.

So I came home and now with a new bigger pot and the knowledge of what to do, my beer turned out the right color and even smelled like beer this time.

I might just have drinkable beer by Thanksgiving. We shall see...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I have always wanted to home brew beer but before now, I wasn't in one place long enough to do it. That all changed today. I went to Reno Homebrewer ( and got a starter kit.

My first brew is an amber ale and if I didn't screw it up (which is a very real possibility), I will have drinkable beer in about 3 weeks.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Loneliest Road in America

This August I was getting a little cabin fever and so I set out to visit the only National Park in Nevada - Great Basin National Park. It also happens to be the smallest National Park (I think). The distance between Reno and Great Basin is around 400 miles and it is all on a two lane road called Highway 50 - the so called "Loneliest Road in America."

If there is a middle of nowhere, I definitely found it on this trip.

The Shoe Tree. You can read more about it here:

Wheeler Peak. The 2nd tallest Mountain in Nevada.
The pint of the trip was to summit Wheeler Peak. It is over 13,000 feet tall and is the tallest mountain entirely within the state. (Boundary Peak is considered the tallest mountain in Nevada but half of it is in California).
The hike is around 10 miles round trip and you ascend over 3,000 feet going up.

The view right as I reached the summit. Incredible.

I signed my name in the summit log.

13,068 feet.

All in all, it was a great trip. Summiting Wheeler Peak was strenuous but well worth it. It is difficult to describe the feeling of accomplishment and relief when I reached the Peak and was the only one there. Simply incredible. This is a place I will visit again.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Europe (Summing it all Up)

This is a quote that summarizes the trip to Europe quite nicely.

"Suddenly you are five years old again. You can't read anything. You only have the most rudimentary sense of how things work; you can't even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses."  - Bill Bryson - Neither Here Nor There

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Night Train to Memphis (Or Rome)

We took a lot of train rides during the trip but a very memorable one was a night train from Munich to Rome. I had never been on a night train and really didn't know what to expect. We paid extra money to get a Couchette, which is basically like a small bunk. I cannot sleep in airplanes or sitting up so the money seemed like it was worth it to get a place to lie down.

We got to the train station and got to our cabin. There were six bed crammed into a space that was 6 feet long, 6 feet wide and maybe 8 feet tall. It was going to be a tight squeeze. I only fit in the beds if I layed diagonally and even then if I moved suddenly, I would bang my head on a metal bulkhead. Adding to this uncomfort, the train did not have air conditioning and no windows in the cabin you could open. This went from a minor annoyance to maing me want to jump out of the train. I was pouring sweat and could not sleep to save my life.

It was some of the most uncomfortable 12 hours I have spent in recent memory.

That smile would soon fade when I saw where we were sleeping.
Yeah, the room was small. I couldn't turn around with my backpack on.
Ryan in his bed

Just like airplanes, the people that design trains did not have me in mind when they did. I had to lay diagonally to fit.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Pictures (Finally)

There will be many more to come. Between the two of us, Ryan and I have taken over 1,500 pictures.