Events, Family, Personal, Vacations

Pour you a beer, Mr. Peterson?

I got quite a shock when my previously planned bachelor party to Las Vegas got cancelled. Instead, the guys were looking to come up here and spend some time with me, in the great city of Boston! Having only been here for four months myself, I wasn’t very experienced on what things to do. I took some suggestions from my co-workers, and did some Googling to come up with a pretty solid itinerary.

Josh from work suggested Faneuil Hall as a good touristy place. He also got us a connection with a ticket broker to go see a Red Sox game. Kyle suggested a while back to go explore the North End, and Dave Rogers assured us that Brookline was the “safest place in the world”.

My friends tried to heed my advise and get a hotel next to one of the subway lines, but all the good spots were booked, or really expensive. Instead, they ended up in Braintree, near my house. Once we got to the trains, we could go anywhere in Boston – but waiting on the bus was miserable out here. They ran about every 30 minutes, but our group had about a 20 minute attention span. We got to meet some interesting taxi drivers though.

The first day was simple enough – getting everyone checked into the hotel, then going up to see the Red Sox play the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park. Those seats were definitely made for skinny Northerns and not wide, Southern people. It was a hot, humid night, and we dipped out of the game a bit early to enjoy some drinks at the Boston Beer works. The street performer’s playing Bagpipes made it a cultural experience that we just don’t get in Atlanta.

The next day we met some of Scott’s cousins (that’s right – he is half Yank like me) at the park, and walked down to the Eastern Standard. I got to see where a Popeye’s Chicken is soon to be opening! After lunch, we toured Back Bay, and walked to the Prudential Center, where we strolled past the Cheers bar, and ate at the Cheesecake Factory. The booze cruise on the Boatonian around the harbor was the biggest drinking night for us. What a perfect combo of pleasant weather, beautiful scenery, being on a party boat with a live DJ, and a cash bar!

We opted for a more liver-friendly next day as we hit the freedom trail to get some historical sight-seeing in. I am a history nerd, so I hope I didn’t push too hard for them to go! We started at the Boston Common, and made our way to the sight of the Boston Massacre, then took the Park Street station down to the Samuel Adam’s Brewery Tour. We had lunch at an interesting local bar named Bella Luna before the tour began. The tour was an entertaining mix between education and drinking. We jumped to the other end of the Freedom Trail (for reasons unknown to a sober person), and saw the USS Constitution (ol’ Ironsides), and the USS Cassin Young. Afterwards, we crossed the Charles, and ventured to the North End, where a Bona-fide Italian citizen gave us an impromptu tour ending up at the Sail Loft.

We dropped Scott off in the morning (on two hours of sleep), and set off again about mid-day back to where we left off at the Freedom Trail. We saw a few more sites, and took in the open market at Park Street. We saw some more sights, refreshed ourselves at an Irish Pub, then made our way to Mike’s Pastries. Corey had to leave for the airport so we said goodbye while grabbing some Cannolies. We enjoyed them in the cigar lounge next door. That evening Kristin joined us for a meal at another authentic Irish Pub near Park Street. The remaining crew crashed at my place, then I took them back to the airport around mid-day.

I had a great time, and really got to explore some things in Boston that I have been wanting to do for a while. At the end of the week, I have now been on every train line, and can probably point on a map where different sections of the city are. I feel like a local now! Thanks for coming up guys – I had a blast and I hope you all did too. You better lose those Boston accents before you get back so you don’t get beat up in an alley!

Update: Thanks goes to my wife for shuttling us around Braintree. It really is much appreciated.

Events, Family, Games, Personal, Thoughts, Vacations

Who’s Gonna Work for the Working Man?

What an exciting last few weeks. I am falling into a routine that means a lot fewer depressing couch and beer marathon weekends.

I sold my old POS Chrysler Sebring convertible (aka Big Red). After owning both an American car, and a Japanese car its pretty clear to me why we lost that race. Its also clear to me why the Chrysler company is just treading water. They are going to have to start subletting the Chrysler building at this rate. In my experiences, there is just very little quality in their products. Next we are selling the wifes truck, and getting a nice compact SUV. We have already been sneaking peaks at the Mazda CX9, and the Toyota RAV4 and 4Runner, and surprisingly the Scion. What a beautiful bastard that car is.

On a related note, we are ditching State Farm. I think their new slogan should be “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there…to collect your premiums”. Then its back into the darkness. Insurance is getting out out of control. My accident has been resolved, and the strongest statement I can make is to drop them.

Kristin has gotten me hooked on the Harry Potter series – which has become my reading of choice on the Red Line. Like many other things including Legos and video games, I don’t feel like I should be enjoying these books as much as I do as an adult. I am almost finished with the “Goblet of Fire“, and it definitely has taken a darker turn. Kristin says that the book series was meant to mature with the kids that were reading them. True or not, its an entertaining read for anyone sitting on the fence about it. No one has even beaten me up, or given me an atomic wedgie for reading it on the train!

When I am not reading, I am putting some time in on the PS3. I just beat Drakes Uncharted (the first one), and it was excellent. I enjoyed it as much as Uncharted 2. I popped in God of War 2 next, and I was immediately sucked in by the epicness of it all. Once I finish this, then I can see what the world is talking about with God of War 3. Final Fantasy XI?? is on its way. Some Uncharted 2 co-op with Mr. Templeman to be announced, and some Alien Breed with my brother should satisfy my gaming needs. One of my co-workers has given me a tough decision of whether to buy a PSP for $50. There are some really cool games on it, and it would be a nice train companion. The question is do I really need to play more games?

Fall semester resumes with my enrollment in four more classes at Clayton State. The graduation countdown should begin next semester. I was on track to graduate in the Fall until the move to Boston happened. That’s life I guess. You can either give up, or you can get back up. Economics with LaBreque should be awesome. Our textbook is “Freakonomics“. He really does have a lot to contribute to teaching. Why can’t he teach all our courses? It sure would have made Biology more fun.

Speaking of Clayton State, I will be joining some folks from the ol’ HUB in Las Vegas to celebrate with them what is sure to be an awesome bachelor party. You only live once, but my budget for the trip is $1000. Let’s see how much fun I can have with that. Also from Clayton State’s world-renowned help desk, Brian Hursey is coming up to Boston for some job training. He will be one of the few to see our new house in Braintree. Knowing his photography skills, perhaps he can share with folks some of the beautiful sites from our new home. Look forward to seeing you Brian!

Work continues to improve. I have been allocated to another project on a different contract. This means a big change in the work. I am working with different people, and I get a wider range of things to contribute to. I get to put my CSS hat back on for a while, and do some design work. Its a fun challenge to take a composition and turn it into a mirror image in HTML/CSS – its an art to do it in Internet Explorer (die, die die!). This new project is also a lot less mature than the project I was working on. It is nice to see the projects evolve from the lessons learned on the older codebases. I  strong-armed some of my co-workers to take a nice lunch this Friday instead of inhaling our food over our nasty keyboards in silence. We went to Pizza Dough’s in Harvard Square. Its always fun to go up there and hipster-watch.

Kristin and I went to the Gillette stadium last night and watch Bon Jovi through the bars of the venue gates. The view wasn’t bad considering we didn’t pay anything for it. I revisited my arch nemesis “Red Robin” and got the burger burned to hell this time. It was decent, but not as good as I remember. Its hard to ignore the fries, and skip the beers because of the diet. I have lost a few pounds, but nothing major yet. I seem to be hovering at 186, despite religiously sticking to my 1600 calories / day diet plan. I suppose I need to just work out harder and keep that cardio up to burn the love handles I am holding onto. I have also “tweaked” my left shoulder and am unable to look over my left shoulder without some pain. I guess I am getting old.

Finally, I am looking for a new DNS name for my blog. Ideas welcome.

Family, Personal, Vacations

Obligatory Hawaii Post

Back from all my vacationing this year broke as hell. We sure had a blast though. We started the month of May out with a little warm up in the Florida Keys. It was beautiful, and much needed, but it couldn’t hold a candle to Hawaii. We stayed on the island of Kauai for a week, then “island hopped” to Oahu (where Honolulu is at). I snapped some pictures, and uploaded them to the web. Enjoy:

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

Events, Family, Personal, Vacations

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Friday started off with a bang. I went to Georgia Tech to meet with some folks that are using a piece of software that the OITS is considering purchasing. Being the skeptic that I am after the L****** fiasco, I voted to see the product in person, and not get sucked into a sales pitch that promises the world and delivers nothing. The highlight of the day was getting to see Mark again and catching up over a free lunch at Wolfgang Puck Express (courtesy Debye). Since I am salary, I got paid to enjoy myself Friday. That evening I had to rush to Covington Ga by 6:30 to take the dogs to a training class. I was by myself since Kristin was in Macon at a rehearsal dinner for her best friend Lisa.

Saturday morning, I was back in Conyers to see my brother graduate from Salem High School. Looking at the program, I only recognized a few teachers from 2002 when I graduated from the same High School. It was a little emotional to see my little brother get his High School degree. I suppose it made me realize that I am getting older now that he is closing that gap. Who would have known that we would both be in college at the same time? Saturday afternoon had me rushing to Macon in the backseat of John’s car as Tom-Tom spewed off directions. We had to make it to John (different John) and Lisa’s wedding by 2:00. John made it there without getting a speeding ticket, or body damage to his car (congratulations!) It was an interesting wedding with movie soundtracks as the background music. Congratulations to Lisa and John and I wish them the best of luck. John, I would cut and serve your wedding cake for you anytime – don’t thank me!

Sunday afternoon we went to Kristin’s folks house for a Memorial Day BBQ. I got to see my grandma again, after ditching her at the Graduation when I was cutting it close on time. I felt so bad about that. I had second helpings, then thirds and three pieces of pie and cake for dessert. That was kinda stupid on my part because the remainder of the evening consisted of me sitting on a couch and staring at a wall trying not to be sick. Well, at least the food was good.

Today I slept in, and woke up with Bacon, Garlic Cheese biscuits, and White Tea. I got to spend the day with my wife, and we just relaxed for the first time in a long time. My parents stopped by briefly to take some measurements for my Grandma’s sewing projects. For dinner, Kristin made a whole grain Italian orzo with sauteed mushrooms and onion, deglazed with white wine, and I cooked New York Steakhouse, with Montreal dry rub marinated steaks on the grill.

The festivities have to end sometime I suppose, and I will have to wake back up to reality tomorrow morning and go back into work.

I hope everyone’s Memorial Day was as great as mine. Thanks John for convincing me not to work! (as I am sure would have). See everyone tomorrow.

Events, Family, Personal, Vacations

A Weekend in Destin, FL

We arrived at our hotel, Candlewood Suites yesterday at about 6:00 PM. Our room is like a mini-condo with a fridge, microwave, and a 32″ LCD television that might be going back home with me. Outside of our room we can look at the bay to our north. I pulled up the location on Google Maps, but according to the satellite photo, we are living in the middle of the woods! It seems that our hotel is newer than everything in this satellite photo:

Last night we ate at Graffiti’s Italian restaurant. They had some of the best pizza and drinks I have had in a long time. We got the idea from some advice from the people at the check-in counter at the hotel. It turned out to be a great tip. We had a Blackened Chicken Alfredo pizza, and Bruchetta, with fresh bread and olive oil. The atmosphere of the restaurant was unique, with local artists displaying their artwork on the walls, all for sale.

Today, we hit the Miramar beach, and had fun in the ocean. We are both not so accustomed to the sun, so we are a little cooked, even with the sunblock we applied.

Photos to come soon, as I have once again forgotten the cable for the digital camera.