Monday, February 18, 2013

The Harlem Shake Demystified Plus New Video

Harlem Shake Cardiff Kook Style in San Diego, CA

The Harlem Shake... demystified (sort of)

When you sit at work and watch endless 30 second clips of videos titled Harlem Shake, you aren't quite sure if you are extremely confused, going to get in trouble, and disturbed all simultaneously. First disclaimer, we are not at fault for your lack of productivity at work. Second, we are just as addicted as you are. Costumed people shaking what they got alongside children, grandparents, in corporate offices or underwater; the sheer uniqueness of each clip can provide hours of enjoyment.

History of the Harlem Shake (in reverse)

  • February, 2013: DJ BAAUER's song became the next viral phenom in February and as of mid February there were over 4,000 uploaded videos of people doing repeat insane dance moves (usually in animal costumes) that hardly resemble the original Eskesta dance. Some people still keep the NYC Harlem Shake moves in their video, but generally when the beat drops the idea is to go as insane as possible. 
  • May, 2012: The dance faded away until 2012 when DJ BAAUER uploaded a song titled "Harlem Shake" to YouTube with sexy lion roaring sounds and a sick beat that eventually would be the soundtrack to thousands of videos. 
  • 1981-2001: Al B brought the Harlem Shake stateside in 1981 (originally called the "albee"). The dance took the ethnic cultural Eskesta dance and twisted it with hip hop and that Harlem gangsta attitude you would expect from NYC. The peak of the Harlem Shake was in 2001 when famous names like P. Diddy, Cam'ron, G. Dep, and Jadakiss were either mentioning it or doing the dance in their music videos.
  • 3000+ Years Ago: The Harlem shake we know today somehow (hard to see any resemblance) has its roots in the Ethiopian Eskesta dance that has probably been around for over 3,000 years. It took us that long to steal another country's dance? Maybe we're not as creative as we thought.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Essential Hostel Amenities for Poor Backpackers

Photo by
Backpacking on a budget means you will probably be staying in a lot of cheap hostels. While there are plenty with a fun environment and comfortable accommodations, many lack some basic traveler needs. An extra five minutes of planning ahead of time will save you from a miserable hostel experience. Knowing what you would like to have in a hostel ahead of time will give you a set of questions to ask and compare hostels with. That $8 hostel might not have hot water but the $9 one up the street does; does that $1 price difference change your decision? Here are 20 amenities hostels may or may not have that will make or break your backpacking experience.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Welcome to Colombia

My airport sleepover virginity was finally taken from me in Florida, except I didn't get any sleep. Thanks to jackhammers crushing concrete all night long, cheap earplugs, and sketchy looking people sleeping next to me, I couldn't do it. It had been 30 hours since I got any sleep and I was dozing in and out of consciousness on my flight from FLL (Fort Lauderdale) to MDE (Medellin, Colombia). The cheap Spirit airlines flight provided cheap accommodations... makes sense. Then my luck turned 180 degrees.
View from ride into Medellin
The flight was filled with young people but my elbows were sharing space with a retired couple native to Medellin Colombia. About half way through the flight, the women began making conversation when she asked where I was staying and how I was planning on getting there.
Streets of Medellin

Next thing you know, I was sitting shotgun in their car with a free ride to my hostel (45 minutes away!). This was my introduction to Colombian hospitality, and I loved every bit of it. The couple and I had a great time riding through the mountains and into town where they even stopped at some dangerous turns so I could take some photos (see above). These were probably the nicest people I have ever met, and I plan on remaining friends with them for a long time to come.

Thank you Colombia for welcoming me and thank you to my new friends for taking care of me. I don't need any sleep to realize how selfless and comforting your culture is.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

On The Road Again

My feet are itching and the travel bug has struck again, it is time I hit the road. Mexico was a blast and I probably had too much fun and not enough work. This time will be different, it needs to be. Some lessons I have learned and will be applying on this adventure include: pack lighter, more work, less play, diving into the local culture more, steer clear of the main tourist districts, cook more of my own meals, spend less money on beer. There are many lessons I can list, but these stand out in my mind at the moment. Now, the adventure...

Destination... South America

Similarly to my Mexico Adventure, I will be remaining in Latin America, but heading much farther south. Countries that I aim to hit include Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and hopefully Venezuela. Unfortunately, this trip looks like it will only last for 6 weeks, not giving me much time to spend time in each city. I love to travel slowly and go where the wind takes me, but I might need to plan in advance if I want to see all of these amazing countries.

Travel Dates: I leave January 4th for Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and arrive in Medellin, Colombia on January 5th.  I plan* on returning sometime around February 19/20th, giving me about 6 weeks total in South America. Luckily, those 6 weeks are during summertime because I am in dire need of some Vitamin D (I will be taking before and after photos to compare).
*no return flight booked yet

Traveling: Solo vs. Group
In Mexico, I set out on an adventure that tested my independence, language skills, resourcefulness, social skills, and much more. It was a period of personal development, and I needed to do it alone. This trip will be with a group and will test different aspects of my personality and travel skills. One thing I know will be a problem of mine is my patience. At times, we expect to have up to 6 travelers doing everything together, and that takes great patience, coordination, and planning. Luckily, almost all of the other travelers are much more experienced than I, so I'm sure they are more concerned with me than I am with them. Patience, teamwork, negotiation, compromise, and trust are all traits that I plan to improve upon on this trip. Wish us luck!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Word Lens - Best New iPhone Travel App

The latest and greatest from the iTunes app store is as revolutionary as the Shezam app was for me when I first got it two years ago. The new application "Word Lens" from Quest Visual will instantly translate any street sign right on the screen of your phone. And that is just the beginning! Word Lens has topped my list of not only favorite travel apps, but best app out of all 112 of them on my phone (I know, way too many). Here is why:

  1. Word Lens can instantly (real time) translate a menu, road sign, magazine ad, or any other printed text.
  2. The app works without a WIFI connection or cell reception. This is huge because most travel apps fail when people keep their phones in airplone mode abroad and the app requires a connection. This one doesn't!
  3. The translation appears in the image as if the actual sign (or any item translated) was originally in the language you are translating too. I am not a programmer, but this seems like an amazing feat.
  4. Eventually Word Lens will be able to do many more languages than just Spanish/English, but for now those are the languages I use the most.
  5. It simply looks and works like something you wouldn't expect to be around for another 5 years. A very futuristic app in the palm of your hand, getting you out of confusing situations while abroad.

Cons: So far, not everything is perfect, but that is expected from a first release. Here are a few things that I notice need some work:
  • More languages, obviously!
  • When the app is attempting to translate a sign and is confused on one or more words, the translated text seems to flash too quickly between the choices and makes it illegible for the user. Slow it down a bit.
  • The actual translations are a bit rough. The translations it gives are about as accurate as copying and pasting your high school essay into a basic free translator online. The app needs a little work in this area.
Overall, the pros outweigh the cons tenfold. This is by far the best travel app on the market (when traveling in Spanish speaking countries). Word Lens is a groundbreaking app that does what none of us regular travelers ever thought was possible.

Go buy the app here ($5/language) in the iTunes store.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dancing in Mexico

Many cultures in our world simply love to dance. I’m not talking about dancing every few years at a wedding, or even the casual night out bump and grind. I am talking about the folks who pencil it in their calendars three nights a week and won’t let anything get in the way of their dancing. Mexico is one of those places, and if you want to understand Mexican culture, you need to dance. A foreigner can’t possibly understand the values and traditions of Mexico without risking embarrassment and jumping out on the dance floor. Okay, maybe it was just my 6’0 gringo butt who was embarrassed.