The world goes on without you

In early October, I turned 26, an age that still baffles me (given my social demeanor).  Another year has passed; and each day, there is a girl on Facebook who has changed her last name, rendering me completely bewildered, realizing that I can’t even remember their maiden name now.  So between my surname amnesia, and the countless cohorts who are now shackin’ up and getting married, I suppose it would be a perfect time to analyze where I was, where I’m currently, where I plan to be, and most importantly:  is this what I want?

Let’s face it!  I live in a vacuum.  Sure, I have contact with my friends and family, but the feeling that my life and theirs are segregated has never been as palpable.  Something hit me tonight, as I booked my flight to Portugal.  This is it!  My flight is non-refundable, and I’m a penny-pincher.  So that means that I’m going and there’s nothing left to change my mind.  It has almost been a year since I moved from Minnesota (to San Diego), and while I have visited home countless times and gone on several vacations with the family, this time is going to be different.  Once I leave for Portugal, there’s no timetable.  I may be gone for a few months.  I may be gone for a year, without return.  Only time will tell.  And for someone who is so closely-connected to a solid friend and family base, this is a huge sacrifice I’m choosing to make.

Earlier this week, I had a chance to reconnect over a couple pints with someone who I had been seeing here in Vancouver.  This person still remains an important person to me.  I hope to continue to be in contact with her, even after I am gone.  At one point in the conversation, the issue of choices came up.  Right now, I am a mid-twenty-year-old, busy being a mid-twenty-year-old.  I am not at a point in my life that I want to start settling down.  However, people my age, for whatever reason, instinctively go into the “settling down” mode (developmentally, most likely the drive to make a family of their own).  I may go on dates, and have romance, but the inevitability is that any prospect of something meaningful is stunted by the fact that what I do for a living is not that of conventionalism.  Compounded by the fact that I am adamantly and stubbornly choosing to do my travel thing, the stark reality is that every choice in life has it’s gain/deficit.  GAIN:  world travel sates my geographical and existential curiosity.  DEFICIT:  my world goes on without me.

Wow.  Just as I’m typing that last sentence (and saying to myself), I’m hit with a ton of bricks.  “The world goes on without you.”  The world goes on without you, the world goes on without ME? What a tough pill to swallow!

Things I won’t be a part of in the foreseeable future,  that epitomize this point:

– The birth of my sister’s first child

– The birth of my brother’s fourth child

– Birthdays, holidays, parties with friends and family (those of my nieces and nephews I will miss the most)

– Friends’ weddings

– Twins games

– Lives of those I care about

– Any sort of serious relationship

Within my social realm:

Q1. ) Will the world be the same?

Q2.) Will people notice I am not there?

Q3.) Will the time away severely and negatively alter my relationships with those I love?

A1.) Probs.  Who they hell do you think you are?  The Pope?

A2.)  Of course!  Life will be much quieter, and w/o migraines.  And

A3.) I seriously hope not, but realize it most likely will.

So, Tim, is it still worth it?  I’ll let you know, as I continue to chronicle one of the most exciting, and potentially most life-changing times of my life.


Thanks, Canada. It’s been swell, eh?

With our time in Canada coming to an end very soon (end of October), Team Crush (Ed, Ben, and I) are in planning mode for the next couple of months.  With the bitter taste of our Bahamas trip fading from our tongues, we recently reminisced of the paradise that could have been.  The reason why Bahamas did not work for us before was that we were not able to fulfill the necessary steps to unlock our poker accounts (bank accounts, residency).  So we got out of Dodge after 10 days of toiling with banks and real estate agents.

The bureaucratic issues that plagued us in that turmoil-filled week and a half tainted our perspective of the country and our time there.  While it was very stressful, we did have some quite fond memories of beach-filled days and escapades at the local Señor Frogs.  The constant sunshine led to an overall positive affect.  So as the days get shorter here in Vancouver, and the degrees drop to 10 Celsius, we start craving that tropical atmosphere that we had a preview of back in May.

Since we have already accomplished the relocation process from the U.S., we do not have to do it again.  This allows us to travel wherever in the world we want.  When we return to the Bahamas, we can just relax and carry on as we have for the last 4 months in Canada.  We are looking at a November 15th arrival and December 23rd departure (returning back home for the holidays).  The place that we’re looking to rent is a month condo sublease.  Here’s a link to it.

After the holidays, we are looking at leaving for Europe before the New Year.  We would like to celebrate NYE as we metaphorically turn a chapter in each of our lives.  This will commence our world-wide travel.

What does this entail, besides occasionally cutting costs by sharing one of the hotel’s queen beds with another dude?  It’s not ghey if one person is above the sheets and the other under, right guys?  Okay, so maybe it’s extremely ghey, but we’re not looking for the Ritz treatment.  But I digress.  Each of us will roll with the following:

I know what you’re thinking:  Unscaled to size, how will that passport fit in the briefcase?

For several months, these are the only things we really need while traveling.  Clothes/toiletries/drugs/food will be bought as needed.  Traveling light is quite the luxury, and is of utmost importance when taking on a nomadic schedule as we will be. One thing that Ed, Ben, and I have come to realize is that humans don’t need “stuff”.  For the last 5 months, we’ve lived out of 2 suitcases, and have not once uttered anything to the extent of “I wish I was able to bring my……..”

Human beings are incredibly adaptive, and when demanded of them, can improvise quite seamlessly.  For a guy who likes gadgets and gizmos, I never thought I’d subscribe to the minimalist doctrine.  However, one thing I can guarantee is that it feels as though a weight is lifted (see George Clooney’s backpack analogy in the movie Up in the Air).  I’m sure the majority of readers hear this and write it off as inapplicable to their lives, seeing as you all probably are quite established in a particular location.  Start small!  One thing that I’ll never forget is my friend, Chad, would always have the same amount of shirts.  If he wanted to get another one, he would give one to Salvation Army or a friend, or what have you; ensuring that he had a manageable clothing rotation.  It may seem like a trivial anecdote, but the implications are much more substantive.  Only keep with you what you need.  At one point in my life, I had a walk-in closet.  Really?  What the hell?  I wear like the same 5 shirts and 2 pairs of pants every day. LOL 

Plans once we get to Europe are still up in the air.  We have discussed the idea of a week in each city (starting with Lisbon, Portugal).  We have also discussed setting up base for a month, and doing regional travel (weekend or day trips) within the given month.

With the approaching travel coming into view, I have started to broaden my social spectrum.  The 3 of us are chatting up other poker players on Pokerstars and poker forums in order to get contacts in the countries that we plan on traveling to.  Whether this leads to possibly getting free housing or crew to hang out with once we arrive, the upside is definitely worth the effort.  Right now, I have 10-15 additional Skype contacts from countries ranging from Russia, Jersey (yes, it’s a country), Japan, Spain, and even our first destination; Portugal.

No doubt the majority of these guys are nerdy Turd Fergusons, but when traveling in foreign countries, anyone can seem cool (see below). ———————> something we desperately banking on.  jk 😀

On another note, I recently had my biggest tournament cash this week.  I took 2nd place out of 7000 participants in a $22 tournament for a cool $10,077.55.  My biggest cash before this was  $8.2k nearly a year ago.  So it feels great to raise the bar.  The sky seems to be the limit.  With the likely forfeiture of the Full Tilt bankroll of approx 9k, I feel like the poker gods are balancing the scales 😀

What am I going to do with the cash?  Pay off my credit card (huzzah!), visit some friends in my previous home, San Diego, and will still have more than half left for my world travel expenses.  One tendency that poker players fight with daily is the highly emotional correlation between how well/poorly someone is running on the poker tables, and their consequent spending habits.  When I bink an MTT (multi-table tournament) score, drinks will be on me for a while and I’ll frequently dine out.  When I can’t hit a flop for weeks, I live off Chef Boyardee, Go-Gurt and Hot Pockets.  I still struggle with this, but I constantly try to stay aware of the bigger financial picture; that this is still a job and that I need to strive to live well w/i my means.  The lifestyle and income of a poker player  is unpredictable, so preparing for the unknown is a big deal.  Friends and family may claim they’d rather do this for a living, but I remind them that their jobs offer the assurance that their company cannot simply take back their paycheck after it has been earned.  This guy’s can [thumbs pointing at myself].

Last quick thought:  We are looking into website options.  We plan on making a website for all three of us to post on (collective and individual blogs).  We’ll need to be able to have enough space to post several pictures and videos.  If anyone knows of something we could do for this, we’d much appreciate it.  While I like this website for my blog, I think that I’ll be moving to one that has a little bit more capability and intuitiveness.

Riches to Rags: Full Tilt confetti money

1:00pm – Wake up

1:05pm –  Bathroom routine and Activia smoothie (shut up, I’m already regular; I just like the taste, and it’s probs healthy for me)

1:07pm – Ed and Ben (who’ve been up for several hours (I’m a night owl, obvi)) inform me, in a matter of speaking, that the $9,000 on Full Tilt is más o menos a figment of my disillusioned imagination, along with tens of thousands more between several of my friends.

1:08pm – Sulk

1:10pm – In a surprising turn of completely unexpected events, I spontaneously feel a calm come over me.  In the past week or so, I’ve been on a 4k downswing, which is tilting beyond belief.  However, for some reason, the news of the forfeiture of the FTP funds caused me to realize that I put too much stock into the security that assets provide.   Perhaps a reality check.

The reason I started to play poker was that it allowed me the freedom and opportunities that I feel no other career path (albeit temporary) could offer.  The goal was never to make a stockpile of money to swim through like Scrooge McDuck (see graphic) .

This is a point that I like to stress when discussing my profession.  As some of you readers may remember from a previous blog entry entitled “Jobs: 21st century invention?,” I posit that at the end of the day, we all just want to live.  We want go places, do things, spend time with friends and family, meet new people.  If this is the case, and I’m still able to achieve it, I really cannot find a reason to feel sorry for myself.  We all take chances and risks in life (insert joke about playing poker being the epitome of this concept), and sometimes you just get F’d in the A (pardon the expression, Mom, but it seemed like the only phrase that exemplified the scenario).

Back to the details of the Full Tilt Poker hearing in London.  Many of you may have found out, through myriad forms of media, Full Tilt Poker has been exposed as being a “Ponzi Scheme.”  At the point of the poker site’s shutdown, it was seeped through forums and articles that there was definitely some shady dealings (aside from the DoJ (Dept. of Justice) indictment).  Turns out the the owners of the company had defrauded its investors (poker players), and had stolen somewhere around $350 million.  So when the time came to payout the players after Black Friday’s shutdown back in April, we were left twiddling our thumbs, trying to figure out what the hell was the hold-up.  Pokerstars had payouts offered w/i the month, I reckon (reckon? what the fritz?).  I really don’t want to go into much detail about the specifics of their corrupt dealings, but as my friend ironically posted on facebook, “I hope there’s room in prison for Jesus (Chris “Jesus” Ferguson) (one of the several guilty parties).  And my apologies to my Sunday School teachers for demonizing Jesus. 😀

Now, Tim!  What’s the fallout of all of this?!?  You know what? I haven’t a clue, but I can tell you that this definitely throws a wrench into any plans to legalize online gambling in the United States.  To logical people, they may say that this ought to be an impetus for why we need to regulate online gambling; to protect the players.  However, to the general public, it seems like STRIKE2CALLED (someone’s actual Full Tilt name; clever weave, I know.  It’s really a waste of a reference if Brent or Ed don’t read this, since they’re the only ones who know this guy).

Strike 1 – DoJ indictment

Strike 2 – Ponzi scheme exposed

Strike 3 – who are we kidding, there’ll be no strike 3, we’ve already been ejected from the game.

The public opinion (along with legislators) has such a stale taste in their mouths, that I doubt legalization is in the foreseeable future.

One minor caveat I’d like to throw out there is that the DoJ started out as the problem, but may be our closest ally, and part of the solution.  If the DoJ hadn’t investigated Full Tilt, operations would’ve gone on as usual.  Players would’ve been paid out regularly.  The money that was wrongly allocated is essentially a good chunk of the money that’s been floating around on the site, so as long as people are still playing, they have a buffer.  However, now that the company has been indicted and exposed, the DoJ’s involvement may be the best chance of U.S. players getting their monies back.  Granted it’s a Hail Mary , but as JP in Angels in the Outfield reiterates incessantly before bedtime at the foster home: IT COULD HAPPEN!

And even if it doesn’t happen, I still might get adopted by Danny Glover.

4:24am – Tim signs off.  “GG, GN, and GL.”

Suburbs to the City

We set out to Vancouver in late May with one mission:  get all of our online poker accounts unlocked.  The steps required along the way, albeit dubious to us, have been accomplished, along with the inevitable unlocking of poker accounts.  A house in the suburbs, in the middle of the summer, occupied five misfits–five completely different personalities, five completely different modes of operation/sleep schedules/socialization methods was where we all found ourselves, somehow not scratching our heads at how we even arrived at this juncture.

In a house of poker grinders, you celebrate and sulk together and you celebrate and sulk apart.  Everyone, at any given time, is either up thousands, down hundreds, down thousands, or break even for the day/week/month.  It’s one of the most delicate social arrangements I’ve ever encountered.  Is this person in the mood for a pick-me-up?  Do they feel like hearing a joke, or are they at wit’s end, and on the verge of throwing their mouse out the window (Relax, PETA!!!  Context, context)  The goal I had in mind was to keep things lighthearted and fun for the duration of the 3-month lease.  I figured it’s the only way that five very different people get through a lease at a messy frat house in the middle of the suburbs.  At times, you get pretty stir crazy living in the middle of presumably nowhere.  Our idea of deviation of routine was to walk to Mac’s (7Eleven equiv.) or having a pint at The Dunbar.  Short-sighted we were, as this soon became the routine.  Creatures of habit, we are.  And apparently, judging by my last two sentences’ structure, “backwards I speak.” -Yoda

The lease ended August 31st, and here I write to you in retrospect about the time that was the most unpredictable summer I’ve had.  All five of us had made it quite worth-while.  As a house, we totaled the poker winnings to around $120,000 in the 3 months time.  I’m extremely proud of the group of guys.  We worked 7-day weeks, 9-10 hour days during the summer.  It’s a lot of work, a lot of hands, a lot of eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and a lot of emotional fluctuation to get to that point.  So congrats guys!

Where am I now?  After the lease ended, Aaron and David found a furnished condo downtown.  Ed, Ben, and I found a furnished condo as well that is about 5 blocks away from them.  They signed theirs for 6 months, because they plan on being in Vancouver through the winter, whereas we decided to be ‘snowbirds’ and head out of Canada at the end of October.  Our lease is only for September and October.

To be honest, I think this will be one of the funnest two months to come.  In the heart of downtown Vancouver, I get to continue to live with Ed, my roommate from San Diego, and Ben, the dude I’m uncl’ing (sp?) a child with (btdubs, so glad it’s going to be a boy!).  For those who haven’t read the previous posts, or do not understand family trees, Ben is my brother-in-law’s brother.  The dynamic that the three of us is still a mystery to me.  We’re three diametrically opposed beings, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.  There’s TimmyOx the zany; N0bigdeal, the Chandler from “FRIENDS”; and EdBerg, the laid-back, even-keel, Muscle Milk’ed teddy bear (and reigning Punt, Pass, and Kick champion of Wisconsin).  A more unlikely friendship could not be predicted, but at this point, who cares?!?  We’re here in Vancouver, living it up, putting in the hours on the virtual felt, and watching plenty of Steve Wilkos and Big Brother to keep any white trash individual occupied.  😀

I look forward to what the future brings.  Europe awaits us in November.  In the mean time, we’re putting our nose to the grindstone, and saving up as much money as we can, so that we can fund our travel.  I know that life never stays the same, but I’m not afraid to ride the wave to shore.  As the shirts with stick figures sold in any Midwest United States tourist location say, “life is good.”

More introspection to be posted soon; I’m tapped for tonight, and on my 2nd glass of Spanish wine.  Sorry for the delay between posts, for those of you (most likely only Mom and Grandma) who read this.

Jobs: 20th century invention?

Before I get eye-rolls, hear me out.  I get it, my profession is joke, even to me.  College graduate neglects degree to make money clicking a mouse in random patterns thousands of times a day.  I wake up every day, with the same question, “How the hell did I get here?”  Whether it’s in a Stabbsville hotel in The Bahamas or posh F.Lauderdale, a condo in Minneapolis or Pacific Beach, or a 5-bedroom frat house w/ four other guys in a well-to-do Vancouver suburb, I’m still starting my day in disbelief that I’m not living off food stamps or something.

So let’s get to the point here.  The reason why I pose the question is that I feel that there is a disconnect in how people perceive poker as a profession.  In the past two years, I’ve received so many polarized responses that I thought it would be a good thing to discuss.  I give merit to each person’s opinion, whether I agree with it or not.

From time to time, people have said, “When are you going to get a real job?”  Let’s dissect this statement a little.  The statement may infer quite a bit.  First off, what’s the issue at hand?  Is it that the person sees a job as something where you have bosses, coworkers, and a set schedule?  Is it that they perceive it as an illegitimate means of income, or that my profession does not contribute anything to the world?  And lastly, does the person resent me because they hate their own job?  Before I’m tarred and feathered for sounding like an arrogant A$$HAT saying that, this has actually happened to me.  I’ll delve into this last statement later, as it poses an interesting notion.

To begin answering, I will always be the first to admit that the profession is one of the most unconventional I could’ve conceived of for myself.  I have no boss or coworkers (although my poker playing roommates could be considered coworkers, in respects to the social environment that an office may provide), I have no set schedule, and can work from almost anywhere in the world that has internet; other than the most capitalistic country of all (oddly enough), and my homeland and world police. I won’t get into politics though.  To sum up this point, I basically have the same type of work situation as any freelance worker or entrepreneur (2 points for not needing spell-check).

The next implication is that it’s a dubious profession and contributes nothing to society.  This is probably the most interesting of all, simply because it branches out to so many different discussion topics (societal concerns, existentialism, individual duties, to name a few).  It may be surprising to you, the reader, but I agree with this statement.  It is 100% conceded, this point.  It is undeniable that someone in my position does not necessarily contribute to society (unless you say that I’m providing entertainment to the opponents on the other end of the computer), but conversely, it’d be difficult to say that people with this profession detract from society.  In fact, I would posit that society gains from us.  We are funneling money into economies in which we live when we pay for goods and services, taxes, etc.

Furthermore, the reason why I have no problem with the fact that what I do is out-of-this-world crazy, is that I don’t think that my value as a citizen and member of society is derived from what I do for money.  If you’re not causing harm, or doing anything illegal, I could care less what you do for a living.  It’s purely opinion, but I believe someone’s value is derived from the type of person someone is.

Things I want to know about someone:

-How do you treat people?  Do you put others before yourself?

-What’s in your heart?  What’s important to you, and how do you show it?

-How do you act when no one’s looking?

Let’s get back to the central idea, “Are jobs a 20th century invention?”  It’s a notion me and my roommate, Ed, have kicked around quite a bit in the several months of living together as fellow poker players.  Hundreds of years ago, people ate, slept, and made babies.  Life was sustainable on one’s own as a single family.  Somewhere along the line, people agreed that living in community with one another was beneficial (and in some cases, necessary ——->political reasons).  People build town.  Town builds city.  City builds metropolis.  And here we are, stuck in the evolution of the human race.  Now, to be one without ‘proper’ employment is to be a social pariah, and to have no value to society.  Somehow, every individual has to succumb to the demands of this ‘society’ we’ve always instinctively known to obey.

Here’s the problem I have with this, and involves the idea I promised I’d touch on later on in this post.  If you had the opportunity to do what you enjoy, and make money doing it, knowing fully that your job has no substantial impact on the world, would you do it?  While many will argue that their vocation gives them purpose in life (and it may in fact accomplish that), I have a hard time believing that this idea is valid, because it cannot be extrapolated to an entire population sample.  It would be to say that those who do not work or are not able to work (due to circumstances in or out of control of the individual) do not have purpose.  It is to say that those who do not have to work (heirs/heiresses, investors, trust fund babies, etc.) cannot pursue a meaningful and substantive life.  I’m saying they can!  I may be offending some, but I’m defending more.

I’m not standing on my soapbox, declaring that people with honorable jobs (doctors, teachers, non-profit workers) don’t actually matter or have purpose.  Of course, these people are incredibly vital to society, but their value is not a function of their profession, it’s a function of who they are as an individual.  The issue is that they have the opportunity to display their value publicly everyday.  Their contributions are abundantly visible.  Now, what about the tollbooth operator that works 10 hour days and helps their child learn to read 2 hours a night before bed?  What about the exotic dancer who supports her 2 kids by dancing because she got pregnant in high school and was left by her boyfriend to support her family on a single-income?  These people have value, and are definitely important.

So dress your profession in whatever clothing you’d like, but at the end of the day, we’re all just doing what we do to get by.  At the end of the day, we just want to BE.

On Day 1 he made a blog, and saw that this was good…

[actually posted August 1st, 2011]

What’s the impetus for this guy starting a blog?  Therapy, chronicling, court-ordered requirement?  Two of three ain’t bad (What the eph does chronicling mean?!?)  Just kidding.  This is a blog done of my own volition, and while I’m not quite sure of the purpose of the blog is not entirely determined at the moment, I figure now is a great time to start.  The year 2011 has brought plenty of change, and is not about to slow down anytime soon.

“Tim, get me up to speed.  What have you been up to lately, and what’s on the horizon?”

What I’ve been up to:  Since graduating college in May 2009 (and subsequently met with the atrocious job market), I’ve been a professional poker player, making a living online.  The two sites of choice are Full Tilt and Pokerstars.  On April 15th of 2011, the FBI shut down these poker sites, thus rendering all American online poker players temporarily unemployed.  In order to continue playing on these sites, a player has to prove residence outside of the United States.

At the time of this monumental inflection point in the poker world, I was living in San Diego with my good friend and fellow poker player, Schmed Schmerg (my attempt at privacy).  We had relocated from the Midwest in January and were living the dream out in Cali.  We had a great rhythm of poker, beach, Taco Tuesdays, friends, and plenty of relaxation.  We left our bachelor pad in Pacific Beach in early May.  A couple weeks later, I find myself in Nassau, Bahamas with Schmed Schmerg and two other poker grinders (NBD and A-Ron), trying to acquire bank accounts and a sublease.  In order to get our poker accounts unlocked, we needed to provide the sites with both of these.  After a few days of toiling, we are inevitably met with the catch 22 as follows:  we need a bank account in order to get a lease, but we need a lease (proof of residency) in order to get a bank account.  Long story short (trust me, it’s not worth delving into), we were not able to make things work in The Bahamas.

So back to the drawing board, as we return to the United States.  VANCOUVER it is!  After seeing my family for a day (thanks mom, for doing my laundry), I’m off as quickly as I arrived.  Border control was a little difficult to maneuver.  We don’t have citizenship nor visas, so we have to say we are just visit for an indefinite amount of time.  My friend and I went into this agreeing that we just tell the truth.  We did, and after 30 minutes of grilling us (suspecting we’re holding drugs/arms —–> THUGG LYFE!!!), and trepidation, they have no choice but to let us into America’s Hat.

Rolling into Vancouver via Granville Bridge at night, I was sure that this was a place I needed to be.  The lights of downtown’s main thoroughfare and the people in the streets made the city come alive.  Everyone looked as though they were having a great time, and for the first time in a month or so, things started to look up again.  After living in the trusty ole Howard Johnson downtown for a week, we finally stumble upon a furnished 5-bedroom house in Kerrisdale (a neighborhood on the West side of Vancouver).  A sublease for the summer seemed ideal.  After 3 months, we’d have a good idea of what the city was like and how we wanted to proceed at the end of August.

In the beginning of month 3 of 3 at this house is when I write this entry.  Things took a lil while to get figured out, but after a few days we had a lease, bank accounts, internet, food in the fridge, and beds to sleep in; and more important to a grinder than all of these (shocking, I know), unlocked poker accounts on Full Tilt and Pokerstars!!!!!!  This means that after a month of not being able to work, access the thousands of dollars temporarily frozen, and having a valid reason for being on the internet, we get to return to the grind and starting minting money.  😉

I’m happy to say that after the two months of playing, things are back on track, and going quite well.  Things change all the time in poker, but the future looks positive.  Without the millions of American players in the market anymore, the games have become much more profitable to play.  This will likely curtail in due time, but at the moment, we are experiencing a feeding frenzy, and we’re a part of the first crop of Americans to relocate and return to work.  As to be expected, not many people have the luxury of picking up everything and moving outside the country for an indefinite term.  It requires people to do things like selling a house/car, relocating family, leaving family and friends, (in some cases) moving to a country where they don’t speak the language, and starting anew.

“Tim, thanks for your long-winded and highly verbose answer to what’s been going on with you!  Now, perhaps in a more of a Cliff’s Notes style, ‘What’s on the horizon?'”

At the end of August, the house sublease will be done.  At that time, Schmed, NBD and I will be moving into a furnished place for a two-month lease.  When the lease is up, off to Europe we go.  The plan is to meet our friend and begin traveling/working around the world.  If there’s internet, and a place to stay, we’re going to try and go there.  The plan is to live each city for a week or so, then move along.  Europe in the Fall-early Winter, Asia in the Winter/Spring, and who knows what will follow.  All that is certain is that we’re meeting in Lisbon, Portugal in early November and will start the Mediterranean portion of our travels.