Rhodes, Greece

A castle a day keeps the doctor away
    — Ancient Greek Saying

Rhodes is one of the easternmost Greek islands, located a stones throw off the Turkish coast. Covered with castles, rocky forests, and brilliant ruins, it’s a wonderful place to lose yourself.

You can see more photos on the album.

Muscle beach #venice

Muscle beach #venice

The Future is Now: SpaceX

Los Angeles is a remarkably versatile city. While beautiful bodies fill beaches within a stones throw of stars of the silver screen and the towering Hollywood sign, there is a deeper perhaps more historically significant movement underway. A hope for the future that stretches from the wide, sun-burnt California avenues to the coldest depths of space. Fueled by liquid oxygen and kerosene, the new gold rush is here.

SpaceX, nestled between Dr. Dre’s Inglewood and the weightlifters of Redondo Beach, is on a mission to colonize Mars. A long and multifaceted series of hurdles lie between Elon Musk, founder and CEO, and that Asimovian goal. Thanks to a friend cranking out designs to improve the structural integrity of rockets, engines, and boosters I was able to take a glimpse inside the rocket factory.

Unlike any Costco You’ve Seen Before

Beside the Hawthorne Municipal Airport and its never ending stream of prop and jet-powered planes making their final approach is the SpaceX headquarters. Officially located on 1 Rocket Road, the complex is a gigantic operation turning out the most futuristic space vehicles ever conceived. Entering the highly reflective front doors you’re greeted with a slick yet surprisingly open floor plan that suggests this, dear friends, is where we will create The Future. After proving our United States citizenship (foreigners are currently barred from working at the company due to existing Defense Department regulations) we met our smiling SpaceX whiz-kid and tour guide, Mikko Solomon. Casually dressed and slightly afro’d, this MIT alum and ex-airplane mechanic from Davis, California is the face of the rocket revolution. He grins as we stride by an Iron Man suit and sign reading “Cyberdyne Systems.” Stepping onto the main construction floor you’re immediately struck by your own sense of insignificance. Towering rockets, launch vehicles, and next-generation engines, all in states of partial construction, are arranged in what can only be described as the most interesting Costco in the world.

With today’s Made-In-China ethos, it’s quite a sight to behold a large-scale construction project happening within our own borders. SpaceX designs and manufactures almost everything in-house, from aluminum alloy spacecraft capable of carrying 7 people plus cargo into orbit to reusable launch vehicles able to enter space and then gracefully land upon re-entry, a feat never before achieved in the history of spaceflight. Dovetailing the realization of scale comes an unexpected sense of pride – something my generation seems cruelly denied following repeated regrets around failed wars, overreaching spy programs, and secret prisons. SpaceX hints at a new reality, not distinctly American but deeply intertwined with the American Dream: attainable space travel, a journey into the final frontier, and a possible escape from self-destruction.

There is a grand revolution happening in California and I cannot wait to see where it will lead.

Milford Sound, New Zealand

Rounding out my world tour was a stop at one of the most beautiful places I’ve been fortunate enough to visit: New Zealand. I spent most of my time on the relatively rural southern island. Click below for an album of shots from a cruise around Milford Sound.

My wonderful mother

Sri Lanka with Daisy Yoga

Before departing on the Daisy Yoga retreat, I only knew of Sri Lanka as a country recently gripped by civil war and as the birthplace of female rapper M.I.A. Within hours of landing at Colombo airport and trekking to Kandy I found that the country is amazing, with picturesque views, friendly people, and delicious food. Our group of 14 spent two weeks taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the country before landing in Unawatuna to help repair a Buddhist temple and school hit hard by recent typhoons.

You can see more photos on the album.

Winter in Tokyo

Winter in Tokyo is a special time as snow is rare and gives the temples an even more peaceful demeanor. Below are a few of my favorites shots from the trip. You can check all the photos on the web album.

The Robot Restaurant, featuring life-size robots who do battle for your pleasure

Five G Synth Shop, you place for everything analog in Harajuku

Yes, that is a baby Doge. wow.

Doppelgängers: Hallucinating Oneself

An even stranger and more complex form of hallucinating oneself occurs in “heautoscopy,” an extremely rare form of autoscopy where there is interaction between the person and his double; the interaction is occasionally amiable but more often hostile. Moreover, there may be deep bewilderment as to who is the “original” and who the “double,” for consciousness and sense of self tend to shift from one to the other. One may see the world first with one’s own eyes, then through the double’s eyes, and this can provoke the thought that he—the other—is the real person. The double is not construed as passively mirroring one’s posture and actions, as with autoscopy; the heautoscopic double can do, within limits, whatever it wants to (or it may lie still, doing nothing at all).

— Oliver Sacks, Hallucinations

ශ්‍රී ලංකා ප්‍රජාතාන්ත්‍රික සමාජවාදී ජනරජය

After an absolutely fantastic week in Tokyo I’m headed to ශ්‍රී ලංකා ප්‍රජාතාන්ත්‍රික සමාජවාදී ජනරජය – the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Kendall and I will be spending the day in Singapore before reaching our final destination.

For now, I leave you with a shot of the Doge sculpture at Tokyo Shibuya station.

The $50 Billion Trip to Australia

On a brisk evening in Oakland, CA I had just finished dinner and was heading to the kitchen for a glass of wine when my phone rang unexpectedly. On the other end was Chris Dixon, the man who had recruited me to Hunch and negotiated the sale of the company to eBay for $80 million. He had a special mission, if I chose to accept it, involving a secretive adventure to Australia with a hand-picked team to re-invent the ailing eBay brand and website. The concept was simple: give users the ability to follow sellers, buyers, and product categories the way you can follow people and brands on Facebook and Twitter.

The team of six was leaving for Australia in less than 24 hours. Was I in, or out?

Flash forward to today: our comprehensive redesign and core functionality improvements are the new core of the eBay website. Our journey, including that wacky adventure to Australia, are profiled in Business Insider’s "You Can Explain eBay’s $50 Billion Turnaround With Just This One Crazy Story".

Back to…the Future

This week I’m headed back to Japan, a place that is near to my heart after living in Tamano, Osaka, and Tokyo in my younger years. In preparation for the trip it was fun reading through my old blog posts written while I was an exchange student in 2004.

You can find the full dump of the posts from Japan at Thousands of Miles from Home.