Friday, April 17, 2009

New Webiste

I've created a new personal website at crakowski.com. Feel free to visit it for the most recent info and updates.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Life as an expat

Perceptive travel has always been one of my favorite travel websites, and I religiously read the blog. A recent post by Antonia Malckik discussing life as an expat could not have been more accurate.

" ...living as an ex-pat is not just an experience to write about or to pack away with your photos in the face of uninterested friends in your home country, it’s something that becomes part of who you are and how you view the world."

So true. I know that I've been forever changed.

" ...the friends you make as an ex-pat are like no others in your life. They’re the ones who can show up on your doorstep after five or ten or twenty years, and you can chatter away as if nothing has changed. They’re the ones who can call out of the blue and make you laugh. Because what you share is not an early childhood or drunken university days, but a deep-seated interest in the world and thirst to know it."

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Finding new music

I have a lot of music. Over 450 albums - all digital. Surprisingly, I listen to most of it on a regular basis. The number of artists that I listen to has dramatically increased making it increasingly difficult to keep up with new releases from my favorite artists. I often discover new albums months after they've been released, if at all. It's a manual process that relies heavily on random discovery and friends (thanks!).

Why isn't there is service that uses the built in meta data information on your existing collection to alert you when new albums are released by artists that you already track? For example, the program would say, "Calling the World by Rooney was released on July 27th, 2007. Click here to sample and purchase". The developer of such software could offer the service as a free download and generate revenue though affiliate programs such as Amazon and iTunes. Who knows - maybe this service already exists. Please email me if you know anything like it.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

X by Kylie

A few weeks ago my Aussie friend Michael scored me an advanced copy of X by Kylie Minogue. I've been listening to it non-stop and well, it's pretty amazing.

The entire album is killer, but
my favorites are Stars, In My Arms, The One, Speakerphone, I don't know what it is and Wow. Wow, indeed! X is nearly as good sex. Get a copy when it goes on sale Dec 4th.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Pelvic Fury

This will make your hips explode with serious pelvic fury. Amazing stuff here. Note to self: start to bring fanny pack to disco at all times.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bicycles: transportation or leisure?

What is the function of a bicycle? Not surprisingly, the answer will vary depending on where you grew up. Over the past year I've noticed that most Europeans view them as another form of transportation - like a car or motorcycle. They get you from one place to another. Americans typically associate bicycles with leisure, not transportation. Most American children happily "play" with them until they're old enough to graduate to a car. Rarely will you see a adult American on a bicycle. It was pretty refreshing to see men in suits riding a bicycle to work.

Just a random thought....

Monday, November 19, 2007

The art of slowing down

Slow Dance
by David L. Weaterford

Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?

Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down
Don’t dance so fast

Time is short
The music won’t last

Do you run through each day
On the fly?

When you ask: How are you?
Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done,
Do you life in your bed

With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?

You’d better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short.
The music won’t last.

Ever told your child,
We’ll do it tomorrow?

And in your hast,
Not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die

Cause you never had time
To call and say, “Hi”?

You’d better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short.
The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life is not a race.
Do take it slower.

Hear the music
Before the song is over.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Drifting towards the easy

Did you ever know that you're my hero, and everything I would like to be? Those were the words that my 8th grade graduation class sung to our proud parents the night we received our diploma. Bette would have been impressed.

I used to love singing and did so at every opportunity. Unfortunately, everyone else around me hated it because, well, I'm fairly tone deaf. As a child, that never stopped me from singing. I knew I was bad, but didn't care because I loved it. Almost all children have this amazing gift. As we grow older, most people slowly lose this gift. We begin to neglect the things we love and drift towards things that we're naturally good at. Isn't this a recipe for unhappiness? I think so. Why does this happen? Perhaps it is because we care too much about what other people think. Maybe we believe that we're wasting our time. Whatever the reason, it's a pity.

Shouldn't our goal be to participate in activities that challenge us, even in the face of doubt, ridicule and opposition? Forget about finding work. That is only what you're good at. Forget about having a career. That will probably get your ahead and have prestige, but often lacks meaning.
Shouldn't our goal be to finding our calling? Your calling will bring you alive. I've been asking myself the following question recently: 1) what are you good at 2) what do you enjoy doing and 3) does it directly or indirectly better your community.

Maybe wanting all 3 is asking too much. Maybe I'm being young and idealistic. Perhaps the realities of life don't always allow this. I'm still searching and it's not an easy or quick process. I may never find the balance. Yet, I feel it is a goal worth believing in.


So, what do you suck at, but absolutely love doing? Me…well, I’ll just continue to sing in the shower.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

My search for the perfect mobile phone ringer

I was on the Sprint website when I saw, “Get a free ringer on us” flashing in huge, bold letters. Simple enough, or so I thought. Personalized ringers have become extremely popular over the past few years. It’s a fun, quick and easy, but not so cheap way to add personality to what is normally a boring device. With rates starting at $2.50 per ringer, the carriers are making millions.

Playing with all of the features of my new Centro Smartphone has taken up more time than I’d like to admit. What’s not to like with features such as TV (yes, tv), radio, MP3 player, internet, email, text messaging, voice recorder, games, calendar, task list…ok, I’ll stop. I’ve had the phone for only 4 days and I’m already addicted.

I clicked on the link and my search for a free ringer began. The number of songs available was overwhelming. I started browsing in the pop music category. 20 minutes later I had not found a ringer and was browsing in the “what’s new” category. Then the “indie” category. Then I discovered the search functionality and searched for all of my favorite bands and songs.

An hour later, I was no where closer to finding a ringer that I wanted. It’s clear that I put far too much thought into a free ringer. I liked some of the R&B ringers, but thought there vulgarness may cause some to stare. Then I found "Soul Meets Body", one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands, Death Cab For Cutie. I was temporarily elated – that is, until I gave it more thought. I was cautious to select a song that I really liked; fearing that hearing it every time I get a call would induce ambivalence.

Still, after more thought, I decided to select a ringer from the house music section. I figured it would be more difficult to become bored of a house song. The house genera offered many tempting selections. I could have selected "Put Your Hands Up for Detroit" by Fredde Le Grand, but I would have thought about my friend Keyan every time I heard it. Nothing against Keyan, but that would be too much Keyan. I found “Love Generation by Bob Sinclar, but I was not certain if I could handle the intense memories it would be sure to induce. I heard it live at Infinita during my trip to Madrid this summer. That trip was probably the peak of my summer and I didn't know if I could handle the intensity of reliving those feeling with every call, nor did I want to diminish the importance through boredom.

In the end, I settled on “Exeeder” by Mason. It’s neutral, yet makes me think of my amazing experiences in London It’s not perfect, but it works.

What ringer do you have on your phone, and what does that communicate about your personality?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I mean, seriously

Below is my list of 3 items that should be banned from all clubs/ discotheques. Everything else is fair game.

Sunglasses - I smell a douchebag
Glitter – I do not want your pink glitter rubbed all over me when you inevitable bump into me. Oh, and you look like a fool.
Glow Sticks – Does this one really need an explanation?

What items are on your list?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Attachment Objects

It’s interesting how people can become so emotionally attached to old, dirty, ugly or otherwise seemingly unremarkable objects. In reality, it’s never about the object -- it’s always about the memories associated with the object, isn’t it?

I have what many people would consider an irrational bond to a very old pair of shoes and a messenger bag. Both are about to fall apart and yet I refuse to throw them away. I have many memories associated with both items and it has created a strong psychological bond. If they could talk they would have far far too much to say.

What possessions do you refuse to throw away and what memories are associated with them?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Friday, September 14, 2007

Vatican Museum

Jose & I 07/07

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fun with Photoshop

Vatican museum 07/07


Photo Op

I miss taking photos like the one below. Rome 07/07

I personally like the B&W version. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A New Barcelona Forms Every 10 Days

"According to a forecast by the United Nations, no less than half of the world’s population will be living in urban areas in 2007. By 2030 this figure should have risen to 60 percent. To give some idea of what this means, one would have to imagine a city the size of Barcelona appearing somewhere in the world out of nowhere every 10 days."

In addition, PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that the gross domestic product (GDP) of the E7 countries - comprising Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia and Turkey - will exceed the gross domestic product of the G7 - made up of Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Canada and the US - by approximately 25 percent in around 40 years.

The main take away from this article is to heavily invest in emerging markets over the next 40 or 50 years. Follow the growth.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Unwanted tranquillity

The past few weeks have been extremely tranquil. I've been stuck at home for most of the day, day after day, because I don't own a car and Milwaukee has poor public transportation. I've been using my bicycle, but that obviously limits the distance you can travel. I try and fill up my day by job hunting, but honestly, how much can one job search per day? My personal record has been about 6 hours.

Interestingly enough, some of my most exciting moments have occurred while grocery shopping. Sad as that sounds, it's true. For example, just yesterday I got into an altercation with an gentleman. I noticed that he was opening up many grape bags, feeling them, rubbing his hands all over them and then emptying the bags, essentially making them unsellable. The man was clearly not well. Everyone watched this (clearly shocked) but no one said anything. Mind blow, I approached the man asking him what he was doing, pointing out that people don't want his hands all over the grapes. He looked up at me, mumbled something about working in a supermarket and ran out the store.

It's simply amazing what you can get away with here in the U.S. People happily watch illegal/odd/wrong or otherwise strange things without saying or doing anything (side note: perhaps I need to exploit this).

Enough, I better get back to job hunting. I'm at hour 4 and I my goal is to break my 6 hour record. Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

An update

I've been missing in action for the past few weeks because I've been sick with the worst case of the flu that I've ever had. I started feeling like shit while in Chicago and can say with reasonable certainty that it's behind me now. Oh, and I turned 25 recently, too.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Managing our digital lives

There used to be a time when photography was easy. Digital photography has changed everything. Technology has given us many more options and overall made digital photography more enjoyable. The benefits are obvious. Immediate feedback and ability to take as many photos as you wish are just two benefits that immediately come to mind. Most people in my generation (generation Y) have become so used to the immediate feedback to the point where they must always see the photo right after it is taken. Heaven forbid the photo was taken from your “bad side”.

Nothing is free
An initial cost analysis may lead one to think that digital photography is less expensive than traditional photography. I strong disagree. Digital photography has more options and more options mean more complexity. The immediate costs to take one photo or 100 photos are the same. Yet, the post processing costs are not free and they have become increasingly “expensive”. They require something much more valuable than money: time. Post processing costs include all of the time and energy required to transfer, organize, edit, categorize, share and backup those photos. I don’t know about you, but these costs have become increasingly burdensome for me.

Sharing
All of my friends are taking photos as well. Of course, I want those photos. Then I have to integrate those into the photos I took and start all over again. Oh yeah, then my friends want copies…copies that I must make smaller because the original photos are too large for email. They could download them off my flickr site one at a time (which again took time to upload to). But honestly, what normal person has time for that?

F#@K, I lost everything!
I’m betting there will be a large portion of my generation that will have their photos (read: memories) erased due to viri, hard drive crashes and other crazy reasons like "ransomware". I’ve already seen family and friends lose their data far too many times. An informal survery of my friends revealed that approximately 75% don’t have any type of backup. This is crazy. I don’t know about you, but losing my music, photos, videos and documents would be like losing part of me. I would probably cry.

Preserving these memories is already challenging and will become more difficult as the amount of data increases.There must be an easier way to manage this process from start to finish (end to end) and I must find it…fast. Please email me if you have any suggestions. If not, perhaps this is a business opportunity. Maybe I just gave you the best business idea ever. Invite me oven when you are an internet billionaire.

But first, immediately backup all of your files. You’ll thank me later.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Monday mullet photos

I saw the following three mullets on my trip to Rome in July. I'm not sure if the second third qualify for mullets, but they sure are interesting.

Tradational, yet sexy. Well done.

Honestly, what are you thinking?


I don't know where to begin with this thing...Whatever it is, it's been years in the making.

When 3rd place is really last place

I can vividly recall a free-throw tournament that I participated as an early teenager. A Catholic “fraternal society” called The Knights of Columbus hosted it. The objective was very simple: make as many successful free throws given ten attempts. The more the better. Duh. I think I made 1 out of 10. Nearly everyone in my age group made more than me. I obviously had no chance of winning anything. My young, fragile, impressionable ego would be crushed. I would always be a loser because of this traumatic tournament. Or so the adults must have thought , because I miraculously got 3rd place. At the time I didn’t think anything was unusual about it. I was far too excited. In fact, I could not contain my excitement as I rode home with my father, big medal around my neck.

It was not until recently that I realized that everyone got a medal. I imagine this “you’re all winners” mantra was meant to build confidence. Many people say that my generation is spoiled, sensitive, far too coddled and needs constant praise. I’m not surprised. Growing up, our parents and teachers made us believe that we were all special, so unique…one of a kind. Statistically speaking, this is impossible, of course. The sad, hard truth is that most people are average. You’re probably average. You don’t think it, but statistically, you probably are. You don’t think you’re average because psychology studies have shown that most people think they’re “above average”, regardless of what they are referring to (intellect, attractiveness, likability, etc). Don’t buy it? Go ahead; rate your own sexual attractiveness on a scale of 1 through 10.....

I bet it was higher than a 5. Oh, in case you were wondering, I think that I’m a 10 +. I know that it’s true because my parents told me. ;)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

1 year - by the numbers

Below are a few interesting numbers from the last 12 months.

  • Miles traveled: 38,000 +
  • Cities visited: 23
  • Countries visited: 11
  • Passport stamps received: 16
  • Flights missed: 3 (London, Madrid and Ibiza)
  • Website entries posted: 221
  • Unique visitors to this website: 6,500 +
  • Average time spent on site, per visitor: 5 minutes 32 seconds
  • Photos taken and saved: 7,500 + (with many more deleted)
  • Videos taken: 239
  • Months overstayed my tourist visa: 8 (whoops!)
  • Total apartments: 5
  • Total roommates: 12
  • Percentage of money "evaporated" due to the dollar to euro exchange rate: ~33%
What an amazing year...

The elderly of europe

Older people in Europe seem to have more youthfulness and energy than their U.S. counterparts. I've always had an odd fascination with the elderly, mostly because I feel we can learn a lot of them. I plan to be a very eccentric older person. I plan to use my age as an excuse to do crazy things that only old people can get away with. If everything goes as planned, my brother and his wife will need to explain how Uncle Chris " just old" and "a little special." Until then, below is my photo tribute to the elderly of Europe.





Saturday, August 04, 2007

B&W series

I noticed that I take a lot of street art and architecture photos and not a lot of "people" photos. The photos below are my first attempt to shoot random people in their everyday lives. I'm happy with the results.