giving back

A few weeks ago, I got a very random phone call just as I was leaving school – someone named Heather O’Brien from CouchSurfing was wondering if we’d be willing to host a reporter from St. Louis. After checking her out (legit!), we agreed. A few days later, Ann and Andy from KSDK arrived in the pouring rain.

Both of us were interviewed on camera, where we were asked about our experiences hosting and surfing. I talked up the trust-building aspects, while Shane talked about how it was “kind of like going to a bed and breakfast but you’re not staying with 80 year olds”, which just might be the best thing he’s ever said on camera. I said again and again that CouchSurfing has been an overwhelmingly positive experience, and that we’re hoping to be able to host and surf more when we’re in our new location (at that time totally unknown). We gave Ann and Andy a brief tour of downtown – Boltini wouldn’t let them film, but they treated Shane and I to drinks anyway (and we got to hang out with my friend Mary, which was cool). Basil very helpfully monitored the inflation of the air mattress, and Ann was filmed getting ready for bed. In the morning, I had to split early for a dental appointment, but they had breakfast with Shane and hit the road not long after.

Long story short, we’re famous! Well, kind of. The story aired last weekend, and is now online for your reading and viewing pleasure. I had problems with the video on my Mac, but it should be solid on a PC. Check us out!

Grab a Couch and See the World!

food guilt?

My body has been, for lack of a better word, wack since we got to Boston on Sunday. My stomach’s been overly sensitive, even to things I’m usually OK eating – dairy, coffee (sometimes a problem, but OK lately), spicy or rich things, etc. We’re on vacation, so we’ve been eating out almost every meal, which means more spicy or rich things, more coffee (than usual), and just generally more of everything than I’m used to. This has led to two things: more upset stomachs, and more food guilt.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve improbably lost ~five pounds. I say ‘improbably’ because the scale has been stuck in the same ten pound range since high school, and I’ve managed to get five pounds below the lowest number mainly through diet and some exercise. Shane Bee keeps telling me that one week of eating worse than usual won’t hurt me too much, but I still feel really bad. It sucks to say this, but I’m somewhat looking forward to going home and eating normally and not hating myself for every special or elaborate meal I have.

That said, we’ve had some great meals:
– North African at Baraka Cafe in Central Square
– Burger and fries (for SB) and a grazing plate at River Gods in Central Square
– Lobster rolls (for SB) at Charlie’s Kitchen in Cambridge, one of SB’s regular haunts when he worked in Boston
– Lunch at L’Aroma Cafe on Newbury Street in Back Bay, not to be confused with Aroma Cafe in Champaign
– Bagels from Brueggers, which are always good
– Sunday brunch shared with (and cooked by) our CouchSurfing hosts – omelets with turmeric, cheddar cheese, and organic veggies and french toast with cinnamon raisin bread
– Fresh seafood (in chowder and on its own at Freestone’s in New Bedford with Jason

OMG so tired. We left Basil Estates at around 9am CDT and arrived in Boston at around 9pm EDT. No cancellations, thank god, and everything was running reasonably on schedule. I slept for a while on the floor at O’Hare. Our CouchSurfing hosts are very nice – we have the guest room, and another CSer is crashing in the living room. I have no idea what we’ll do tomorrow. For right now, though, sleeeeeep

CouchSurfing is dead.

The link is to a letter from one of the founders of CouchSurfing, explaining how a series of computer problems brought the site/service/community to its knees. I signed up for CouchSurfing last fall after hearing about it from a classmate who is studying virtual tourism. I stayed with a CouchSurfer – Gabriela – in Porto, and had a CouchSurfer – John – stay at my place for a night or two earlier this month. I am truly saddened that this community is gone – the vision was so fantastic, and the realization must have been so rewarding. I hope that there will be a replacement – and soon. It was a wonderful asset – and a wonderful experience.