Meet me in Nairobi, Abjua, or Accra

How I roll in Africa
I’m headed to Africa soon for three weeks of meetings and trainings in Nairobi, Abuja, and Accra for Inveneo. I’ll be in each city about a week, and would love to meet up with loyal Belly Button Window readers if you’re around.

See, while I am a fanatic proponent of web-based discourse – I’m publishing at least six different blogs right now – I’m convinced that online discourse is an amplification of offline, in-person connections. In fact, I believe that online conversations are not possible without some level of face-to-face discussions between participants.

Or as a friend once said “meatspace has the highest bit rate” And I haven’t connected with that many Belly Button readers in a while.

I’ll be traveling through Africa in accordance with this general itinerary:

  • Nairobi the week of July 27th
  • Abuja the week of August 3
  • Accra the week of August 10

If you’re in any of those cities when I am there, or know someone I should meet, then please let me know. And if you’d like to follow along on this adventure, be sure to subscribe to Belly Button Window in one of three ways:

As always, I’ll be recording this adventure for your enjoyment here.

About Belly Button Window

Who are you to be writing this?

Ain't I cute?
The good life

What would posses a guy to put up over a decade of his life now on the Internet for the whole world to see? Am I some freak exhibitionist? A narcissistic exhibitionist even? While I’ve been called both , I am more humble than that.

See, it was early 1995, and I was a fresh face in Washington DC, having just graduated from the University of Central Florida where I studied business, surfing, partying, and women, trying to excel at each. In that foolishness I never thought about the permanence of my memories, I just made as many as possible.

Visiting the Library of Congress one day, I happened to read a page from one of Lincoln’s diaries. It wasn’t a famous date, just one the curators picked seemingly at random. Reading that page, I realized all the days, experiences, moments, that define me were unrecorded. That my whole life was only in my head and a few scattered photographs. That no one would ever read about a day in my life.

Now don’t think I’m feeling special. Yes, I was born on Bali, Indonesia to very cool parents who were travelers, off on a 10-year adventure when I arrived. They infected me at birth with the travel bug, so I’ve been from Finland to the Philippines, and even the famously remote Timbuktu, but so have others.

I may even mix stories and photographs well, yet others are better here too. But this is my life, not others’, and therefore it is very special for me.

That means I write first and foremost for me – not you. Then, I write for my children, and their children, lest I not be there to tell these tales myself. I write because I know what its like to loose a Dad and realize what will never be. I do write here, in this public forum, for my family and friends, and for you, and I hope you’ll be entertained.

I think my life is interesting – it is to me! I don’t look at BMW’s or big houses with want, I think of distant lands and dark people with desire. I make adventures happen, even if they’re in my own backyard.

So check out all those links to the left – places and dates, and click around. I promise there will be a story or two you like. Who else you know went overland from Moscow to Perth, via Siberian banyas, Mongolia yurts, and Chinese hutongs, using the Trans-Sib, Wuhan Air, slow boats to China, Thai tuk-tuks, and the MRT, even hitchhiking four thousand miles across Australia, right through the Nulabar Desert, and doesn’t regret a second of it!

What a lucky guy I am!

Presenting Mrs. Amy Ross Vota

No hyphens, all happiness

lucky wayan
Kissing the bride
Years ago, I saw a photograph of a joyous bride, a woman in mid-laugh and beamingly happy, being led to the altar through a crowd of wealth and stature, by a father swelled with pride.

In that photograph I saw a dream, a vision of a life I wanted to live, a moment I wanted to see with my own eyes. Yet, I never thought it possible. I did not have that wealth, and I did not know that bride.

Until today, January 12th, 2008, my wedding day. Today, after months of planning, weeks of preparation, and days of stress, I saw that joyous bride. That father filled with pride. That crowd of wealth and stature.

Today I saw that image, I saw that moment in my own life. No. I lived that dream! It is my life now.

It is my bride, Amy, who walked down the isle on the arm of her father, Don. It was our friends and family, a crowd of wealth and stature in our lives, that cheered her passage into matrimony.

And it was to me that Amy wed. It is to me that she is bound. And it is me who now has a whole other vision, dream, image in my mind. I now see Amy Ross Vota, head back, mid-laugh, a moment of pure joy. My new bride, radiating happiness, as she danced through our wedding and reception.

Now, with all the powers vested in me, as the author of this website, Belly Button Window, now 11 years old, I present to you, my loyal readers, the life, the vision of: Mr. and Mrs. Wayan and Amy Vota, husband and wife:

More photos of our wedding can be found here and here.

See Way More Wayan on Flickr Photos

Maybe way more than you every cared to know too!

I know them!
My Taiwanese freinds
tasty food
You Philippine hungry yet?
One oft-heard complaint about my amazing, cutting-edge Belly Button Window is the dearth of photographs on my posts. With an average of one or two photos per entry, readers are always asking for more visual context for my writing content.

In the past, I was hesitant to put all the extra images online, partly due to the bandwidth costs and partly due to the lack of an easy, yet visually pleasing user interface. Now, with the advent of Flickr, both problems are solved.

Flickr allows me to host hundreds of photos at original size, with scaled down versions that can load quickly on slower bandwidths. And I’ve taken advantage of this service to the tune of almost a thousand images so far in a variety of photo pools.

Maybe you felt left out last summer when I wandered by Taiwan, Sri Lanka or the Philippines and you didn’t get the visual love you wanted. Well now you can!

Starting with Taiwan, I have a random Taipei photo set and a very popular Computex Salesgirl survey. In Sri Lanka I took 52 photos of daily life, mainly on one long Sunday riding the Colombo rails, while Philippine images show off the Mall of Asia.

What might surprise you are the 100+ pictures of San Francisco or the almost 400 photos of Washington DC. Of course, now that I came out as a transit foamer, you shouldn’t be surprised about my photos of the WMATA or Vienna train systems.

Yet my favorite Flickr-uploaded photo so far might be this one of a beauty I know well.

What’s your favorite Wayan photo?

Over One Million Served

Thanks for reading my website

the good life
Fans who love me
the good life
Fans who scare me
the good life
Fans new to me
Nine years and six hundred or so posts later, and I just passed a amazing milestone. By my calculations, the humble Belly Button Window has just past one million readers. That’s one million people who’ve read about my life, many for just a few minutes of course, but others who’ve been following my adventures for years.

Thank you.

While I don’t write this site for others really, its just to remind myself of all my adventures, and let my friends and family know what I am up to, I am always amazed that others find Belly Button Window worth reading too.

Even better, my writings on Belly Button Window have helped me get real-world jobs as well as fun gigs writing for other websites, Metroblogging DC is a great example.

To celebrate all the great accomplishments of Belly Button Window, I redesigned the site. Yes, that means I spent even more time and money developing this labor of love you read now.

With this fourth major overhaul, I’ve cleaned up the presentation, bringing it into a modern look and feel. I hope you like the new style.

I’ve also had to turn off comments on my older posts, due to the overwhelming waves of computer generated comment spam that clog up my website’s underlying systems. I forget to mention it in my Movable Type re-mastery recommendations but comment and Trackback spam is my number one complaint about Web 2.0 technologies.

Spammers were quick to figure out ways to try and trick Google and us with fake comments linking to their spam sites and Movable Type is too slow in changing its systems to be of use.

That means that if you’d like to comment on older posts, you have to email me directly and I’ll post them, old school Web 1.0 like.

Regardless of the format changes, don’t worry about the writing style changing. The Wayan Vota experience is definitely here to stay! For another million readers just like you.