Friday, September 29, 2006

Stardate 60744.99 - Change

Yesterday afternoon I got a call to assist with a major proposal effort being run out of our Virginia offices. So one quick reservation later and I'm all set to fly down first thing this morning. Since the last time I flew several changes have taken place.

First, US Airways is now the preferred shuttle for our company. It was US Airways or Delta (although Delta was about $10 round trip more expensive, it was worth it). But we've renegotiated our corporate pricing apparently, and Delta is now $50 round trip more expensive. I just cannot justify that much of a differential so I had to return to the US Airways Shuttle this morning for the first time in a long time.

But first, at 0300 this morning the home phone rang. It was an automated message from USAirways telling me that my 0600 shuttle flight was cancelled. So I got out of bed and called the number that was left to try and get on the 0700 shuttle. Surprise, surprise! The 0700 was full. So I ended up on the 0800 shuttle (which didn't even take off until 0830) - so I got an extra hour or so of sleep, but I missed my morning meeting. Luckily, that was not the proposal meeting I had been asked to attend, so it wasn't too much of a big deal.

This year we also switched to National Car Rental from Avis. National used to be on the roof of the parking structure, but now they are in Avis' old spot. I discovered this once I was on the roof, so I had to take the stairs back down a flight to find National.

Checking out from National took longer than expected due to the fact that my American Express card expired in July and while I have a new card, it apparently is not on file with many of my transportation providers yet. So I had to dig the card out before I could drive out of the garage with my rental car.

In the garage at work, I found a spot but some ass in a BMW (and most BMW drivers are asses, in my experience [I said most, Brian!]) had attempted to take two spaces so his car won't get a scratch. Screw him. I crammed my rental in right next to him (I don't care if the rental gets a scratch - so ha!).

Since I got up at 0530 this morning it has been more than 5 hours since I ate (the plane ride was too bumpy to hand out bagels, apparently) so I am about to go down to the Cafe in the building to get lunch - which means I'll probably be starving by the end of my 1500-1800 meeting tonight.

And that is another thing - since the meeting "ends" at 6 PM, trying to make it back tonight is iffy. If the meeting ended right on time I might make the flight, but traffic on a Friday night sucks sucks sucks in the metro-DC area (actually, it pretty much sucks all the time) so there is a chance I'd miss it. And if the meeting runs late I'll be sure miss the last flight out (9 PM). So I'm staying overnight and flying back tomorrow morning, just in time for a social event with some friends.

And I'm staying at the Holiday Inn because it is close to the office and only $99 for the night.

McLean, VA

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Stardate 60742.16 - The Royal Tenenbaums

I watched The Royal Tenenbaums over the past several days (with Loren we don't really get to see a move start to finish anymore). I thought it was alright. Overall, I guess I liked it although with Wes Anderson directing and writing the screenplay (along with Owen Wilson) you have to realize that the movie is going to be a bit odd. I give it a thumbs-up, but you really have to like (or at least be able to tolerate) Wes' stuff to enjoy this movie, I think.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to tell everyone to get out and vote in November. I know it is just a mid-term election, but voting is critical to a democracy and the low turn-out in this country is appalling. I personally feel that if you don't vote you lose the right to complain about the Government. And I've been hearing a lot of people complaining about how the election is between two people they don't like - for you, I say vote in the primary. That is your opportunity to try and shape who that final person is. And if that isn't enough for you, get involved in your political parties and try to influence the process even earlier. If you don't like the direction this country is headed, or if you do like the direction this country is headed - make your feelings known by voting. Now I'll get off my soapbox...


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Stardate 60740.05 - Subway Smells

Gawker has introduced a New York City Subway Smell Map. "Created from reports sent in by Gawker readers, the map displays particular smells -- horrific and sublime -- encountered throughout New York's subway stations."

The stations nearest to us have only food smells or no smells, by the way.

And their chart doesn't describe the odors found in the trains, which mostly seem to consist of body odor in my experience.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Stardate 60736.84 - Loren and Marmots

As you may recall, back in late May/early June Cheryl and Loren went to Switzerland with her parents while I stayed home waiting for the Government to release a "Request for Proposal" (RFP) that my company was going to respond to; I was going to lead the cost volume so I needed to be available. Of course there was a delay in the release of the RFP, so I missed a trip to Switzerland (that RFP still hasn't been released by the way - now they think it might be the middle of October!).

Anyway, while there they all saw an exhibit on Marmots (it is a long story) and Cheryl purchased some Marmot sleepwear for Loren. It has finally gotten cool enough at night for Loren to wear footed PJs again, so here are a couple of pictures of Loren in those Marmot PJs. They are a little small, and we may end up having to cut the feet out of them as they just fit.

We also purchased a chair and ottoman for Loren, since she has been showing interest in chairs. It has been a huge hit and so I have a picture of Loren in the chair. It is from Land of Nod, which I believe is Crate & Barrel's kids line. And by the way the PJs have buttons, not snaps, so they tend to unhook easily - especially since Loren just fits in them. So please ignore the fact that part of her leg is visible in the chair picture. I noticed after I took the shot that she was only partially dressed!

I should also mention that walking, not crawling, is her primary mode of transportation now. I'm going to have to break out the cabinet locks this weekend and do some installations.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Stardate 60734.58 - New York City

After my post about the horrible subway experience over the weekend, I felt like I needed a little motivation before I descend the steps again. Perhaps in the form of a custom-built motivational poster?


Stardate 60734.08 - Loren and Alison

Here are a couple of pictures Denise took on Sunday while Loren and I were visiting at her place.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Stardate 60731.04 - Loren 2-Fist

Sometimes one sippy-cup just isn't enough. Loren practices for college by two-fisting her water in this picture. Check out the cool t-shirt -- it is from an awesome D&D comic called "Order of the Stick".

Today the playdate was canceled as the other couple are looking to buy an apartment and had their broker call them with a place to view today. So instead we took a walk down to H&M in the thirties on 6th ave to buy some fall clothes for Loren. We made a quick stop at Barnes & Noble for a couple of discount baby books and the latest issue of Cruising World for me. Reading that magazine makes me want to take a 12-month leave of absense and sail down the Atlantic Coast.

The subway back was horrible. The normal turnstiles were roped off, and only the "cheese grater" entrances were working and I had 3 bags, an umbrella, and the stroller to fit through there with me. If you don't know what I am talking about, think about trying to cram all that into a phone booth while it is spinning and you will get the idea. Then the train was crowded, someone with horrific body odor got on and stood next to me, and at our stop the group getting off ahead of us took forever getting off and we almost didn't make it out at our stop. That was the end of my patience for the day.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Stardate 60728.39 - Saturday Out of Town

Today we took care of the exciting things like laundry in the morning and then headed up to Woodbury Common Premium Outlets near Denise's place to do a little shopping. We also took a co-worker of Cheryl's who is coming off of a temporary contract and is going to London in a couple of week to work on her Ph.D.

After a bad experience waiting for a table at Appleby's (I still can't believe we waited for a table) we were treated to mediocre food and slow and inattentive service. I hate that chain, but it was a convenient place to meet Denise and I always am optimistic that chains can change. After lunch Cheryl and her co-worker shopped, while Loren and I went over to Denise's so Loren and Alison could play for a while.
After a couple of hours shopping, I picked them back up and we went back to Manhattan. Loren napped the whole way out there and the whole way back, so it was a very pleasant trip!

Tomorrow Loren has a playdate, and I think I'm going to either nap or read sailing material while she and Cheryl are out. Friday night was a bad night for Loren so Cheryl and I are pretty beat.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Stardate 60725.59 - Busy Week

I know I haven't posted much this week, but man has it been busy. I was in our office in Eatontown, NJ Monday through Thursday afternoon working on that same proposal I was out there a month ago for. I won't bore you with all the details, but it was an intense week with a tight deadline. I stayed with the in-laws while I was out there and got to see some new TV shows. I have to agree with James that I felt robbed by Two and a Half Men. An entire season of development and character growth (as much as you can have in a comedy) wiped away in the first 3 minutes of the premier. If it is just the same old same old for the next few episodes I may have to drop it. How I Met Your Mother was ok, but didn't really advance the story much - sort of lame for a premier actually, although Neil Patrick Harris cracks me up every time. I also caught NCIS, but with Gibbs in Mexico now how can they keep coming up with ways to get him back into every episode this season? They need to resolve that storyline pretty quickly. Get him back somehow, but don't have excuse after excuse every week for him to fly back up to help solve a case.

I know, this is a big long boring entry with no picture. I'm sailing late this afternoon so maybe I'll take my camera with me to get some good pictures and post those. Sorry for the light content this week! I'll try to be back on my game next week.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Stardate 60718.90 - Sunday Trip

Cheryl and I went out to Long Island Sunday morning to Glen Cove, Sea Cliff, and Garvies Point. We ate luch at Once Upon a Moose in Sea Cliff and then did a little hiking at Garvies Point. The places we visited were really neat, but traffic was awful both coming and going - what should have been a 30 minute drive was and hour and a half each way.

Eatontown, NJ

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Stardate 60711.83 - Washed Out

We had planned to go camping on Saturday out on Long Island, but since it rained all day Thursday and Friday, and there was a 30% chance on Saturday, we decided to cancel. Also, one of our cats (Magic) started acting ill on Thursday and still didn't seem to be well by Friday night so we made a vet appointment for him for Saturday.

Of course Saturday arrived bright and sunny and Magic got up much improved, so we canceled the vet appointment and spent the day running some errands. Cheryl also had some work to do. We did take Loren up on the roof to play some, but she was a little cranky and didn't last very long up here. Finally, we had dinner with Chris and Lisa.

Today we are off for a morning hike, and then I am going to try to get in a sail (although the sign up list still has "skipper needed" on the boat I'm assigned). Cheryl also has a Mommy's playgroup in the park this afternoon.


Friday, September 15, 2006

Stardate 60707.08 - Pictures of Loren

Here are a couple of Loren shots as I have not been on the subway nor been sailing nor watched a movie since my last couple of posts! ;-) Just try to ignore the sweet potatoes on her nose and face - I didn't do a great job of cleaning her up after dinner, apparently!!


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Stardate 60704.36 - Resident Evil

I recently watched Resident Evil, the second movie to be based on a video game. I saw the sequel when it was on cable, and the first time I tried to rent this movie from NetFlix the sequel (Resident Evil: Apocalypse) arrived in the Resident Evil case. So I sent it back and put it back on the list and recently moved it up to the top as I wanted a couple of "curt movies" to get through the stack.

It was alright. I guess if you played the game you probably appreciated the movie more, but I actually thought the sequel was better. If you like Milla Jovovich and want to watch yet another zombie movie, then I guess this is worth adding to your NetFlix queue. Maybe I've just been zombied out, but I just wasn't all that impressed with the movie.

Thumb sideways.


Stardate 60704.20 - My Own Soundtrack

I went sailing Wednesday afternoon. The season is drawing close to the end (Oct 22) and I am trying to get in a lot of hours before it is all over (I’m at 24 hours sailing so far). All my day-time skippers are either back at work or now at work so I’m down to only one skipper who I know is free during the day sometimes. I may have to start doing evening sails, which I don’t like to do, because it means that Cheryl has to handle Loren all by herself at home for a couple of hours before I can get back. At least on D&D nights she can interrupt me to help out if Loren does something silly like pees in the bathtub (a first for her this past Wednesday night!).

I took the iPod Nano with me when I went down to North Cove because it is a 40-50 minute subway ride and listening to music helps pass the time. While waiting for the F (I just missed one) for about 10 minutes there was a guitar player 10 feet away, but he was pretty quiet and I only heard him in-between songs on the iPod. But within 2-3 stops of getting on the F, a mariachi-esque band got onto my car and began to play. The accordion player was about 4 inches from my ear, and they completely drowned out the iPod. When I made the transfered over to the E, I was both glad to be leaving them and already planning to re-listen to that album on my way back.

Sailing was cold, windy, and a little rainy but I still say that a bad day on the water is better than a good day at work. I guess if you have no wind then the saying may not hold true. One of the people on the boat who I had sailed with before tried to tell me how to get to the 4-5 but it was really croweded at the WTC site and I couldn’t follow her directions so ended up just taking the E to the F and going back home the same way I had come down.

Within 2-3 stops of getting onto the F a man with a guitar got on board and stood 1-foot away from me and began playing loudly. Very loudly. So loud that once again I couldn’t hear my iPod.

I’m not sure if there is really a point to all of this, other than I seemed to have my own soundtrack following me around all day yesterday!


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Stardate 60699.54 - Loren Walks

I've been trying for a week to capture Loren walking, and finally managed to do it today. Here is a short video (less than 20 seconds) of Loren walking from Cheryl to me (although I keep backing up to make her walk longer).


Monday, September 11, 2006

Stardate 60696.52 - 9-11-01, Five Years Later

Proud to be in NYC since November 2001.

Stardate 60695.76 - Around Downtown by Motor

I think I've mentioned before that Cheryl and I are currently members of the New York Health and Racquet Club and that they have a Yacht that you can make a reservation on for a trip around Manhattan. We tried to go some time ago but there was a storm that night so we took a rain check and went Sunday afternoon instead with Chris and Lisa.

We didn't bring a camera, but luckily Chris and Lisa did so here are some of the shots they took. I was told I needed to get approval before I posted any people pictures, so I'm only posting scenery shots today! ;-)

It was a buffet lunch on board (~$25 per person), and alcohol was extra ($5 beers). The cruise was free since Cheryl and I are members and Chris and Lisa were our guests. The cruise was 3 hours, which was 30-60 minutes too long for a Sunday afternoon. It was not too crowded, but I'm not sure how the Friday or Saturday night cruises are. I can see that it could be quite the party on a weekend night!

And in other news, Loren turns 10 months old today, so we'll take some pictures this afternoon and post probably tomorrow of the birthday girl!


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Stardate 60690.51 - Movie Review

Last night Cheryl and I watched The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. As James pointed out in one of his posts, Cheryl and I have over 200 movies in our Queue on NetFlix, so sometimes something floats to the top and surprises us.

This was a good movie, although it was a bit slow in some spots and had some choppy editing here and there.

(For full disclosure, we did have the windows open while watching it which was a little distracting, and Loren woke up every 10-15 minutes for the first hour after we put her to bed which was also a bit distracting). I'm not sure how I would have felt if I saw it in the theater, but for a rental we enjoyed it.

It was also very interesting to see Hugo Weaving (Elrond and Agent Smith) as a drag queen, but he pulled it off. We felt the movie was entertaining and give it two thumbs up. Not a great movie, but a good movie.

P.S. We are pretty sure it is yogurt that has some type of bad effect on Loren and makes for a very wakeful night. Soy yogurt doesn't have this effect on her, but regular yogurt does. So no more yogurt for Loren!


Friday, September 08, 2006

Stardate 60687.28 - No More Rad Link

Since Jessica Stover has dropped her "Rad Link" entry from her blog on the day that I sent in this beauty for her to highlight, I've no choice but to talk about it here. Here is a site where you can make your own seals. An amusing diversion, I think it is representative of the countless ways you can use the Internet and the countless interesting items you can find out there. Not to say everything is of equal value, but there are some interesting things out there. Here is what I made with it:

I ran across this gem from the Nodwick web site (Nodwick is a D&D comic - quite good and on my must read list. It usually updates every Thursday).


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Stardate 60685.59 - Almost Made It!

It is around 11 miles from North Cove to the George Washington Bridge by sailboat, and we almost made it there today on yet another Fleet Captain sail as part of the Manhattan Sailing Club.

But the winds died down and the current was against us at the end, and although we fought the good fight time was not on our side and we had to turn around for the return journey. So we fell off to a run, rigging the J/24 for wing-on-wing and we came to a complete stop.

Not a complete stop really, for the current was moving at a brisk 1-2 knots but there was no wind to speed us on our way. We therefore had to motor almost all the way back.

I snapped a couple of pictures with my phone (not the best quality) just as we turned around and have included them here.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Stardate 60682.85 - Loren and her Stroller

We purchased Loren a baby stroller to push around the apartment. Here is a video of her (22 seconds) pushing her "baby" around. We had to put something into the stroller heavy enough so Loren would not fall flat on her face when she tried to push it (the stroller is not so stable empty and tends to flip backwards very easily).


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Stardate 60679.01 - Low Key Weekend

This was a pretty low-key weekend. We had lots of rain Saturday but not the extreme winds they kept calling for, so we ran lots of errands on Sunday (I really hate the shopping experience at the Costco in Queens). We went up to Angelique's place in Croton-on-Hudson on Sunday for her son Van's 1-year birthday party, but we forgot to take pictures (or more likely, were too busy with Loren to get the camera out!).

On Monday morning I went sailing with Josh from Thursday (he passed his skipper's test). It was a gorgeous day with great wind. Three of the crew were no-shows so we took out two people who were waiting for an open boat (some mix-up in their reservations). We went up the Hudson as far as the southern edge of Central Park (just past the Time Warner buildings). I got to test out my VHF radio as I communicated with North Cove to get clearance for our return to the dock. Pretty cool. Now that I know it works I can throw the box away.

We ate Ethiopian for dinner and Loren did really well (if Cheryl will put the name of the place in the comments I'll put a link here for the restaurant). It is pretty good, but not as good for the price you pay here as the place on the West Side we eat at sometimes.

Here are some pictures of her from the weekend.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Stardate 60673.72 - Loren Stands and Takes a Step

On Friday, September 1st, at nearly 10 months old, Loren took her first step. I know the lighting is bad and it is out of focus, but here Loren is standing on her own (and no, she is not leaning on the chair in front of her).

All weekend she has been standing on her own, sometimes for a long as 30-45 seconds, before she sits down. She has even taken a step (or two) while standing unassisted.

Now we have to baby-proof everything!


Stardate 60673.64 - Sailing Photos

As I previously mentioned, we had a great sail on Thursday. One of the other crew members (Betty, pictured below) brought a camera and got some great shots.

I'm actually hanging out back in the space where the instructor normally sits (the stern pulpit, hanging onto the backstay), because it is out of the way (with 4 crew members there are not enough tasks for everyone to be working simultaneously, so we rotate).

This was the final practice day for the guy at the helm (Josh) before he takes his skipper's test. He just took the bar so he has had some time off before he starts working and has been using that time to sail almost every single day. The crew member in red (Nirit) is a neurosurgen. The skipper (Thomas, wearing the hat) is a PdD who teaches doctors about pacemakers. Betty and I felt undereducated for this boat, as we both just had master's degrees (both in the IT field). Thomas made a comment that he meets more highly educated people sailing in the club than at any other activity (other than his work, of course).


Stardate 60673.48 - Another Accident

Was woken up this morning around 4 AM by the sounds of this accident on the street corner across from the apartment.

It looks like it was a 2-car collision, and the taxi went into the store. At least 2 people were taken away by ambulance. At one point, there were more than 30 firemen on scene. My guess it that one of the cars ran the light.

This was the exact same store that had a van crash into it on March 9th, 2003 (before I was blogging so I have no entry for it, but I've put up one of the pictures on the left - it was with the old camera which did not have the zoom capacity that the new one does).

Loren slept through the entire thing, but Cheryl and I were up for an hour watching events unfold. I got to the window about 20 seconds after it happened, as around 20 pedestrians and drivers swarmed over the two cars, lending assistance. The fire department was there in less than 2 minutes.

I also shot this video of the event (the sound you hear is the store's alarm, not the sounds of the emergency vehicles). The light is not great, but you get the idea.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Stardate 60668.25 - Nice Sail on Thursday

I took advantage of the long hours I worked on that proposal in Eatontown by taking most of Thursday off and going on a nice, long sail as part of the Manhattan Sailing Club's Fleet Captain program.

With the Fleet Captain program people who are "skipper-certified" with the club (meaning they can take a boat out with a crew) sign up for a time slot and specify how many crew he or she wants. Then the members who are "crew-certified" (like me) can sign up for those slots. Since my regular sailing partner's schedule didn't mesh with mine this week, I signed up for a slot with a skipper and crew I didn't know (always a risk as you don't know the personalities you will get).

Luckily, we had a great skipper and he and the crew were very personable and we all had a great time - we even went to lunch together as a group once we got back to shore. We left North Cove around 1000 and the tides and wind were with us so we managed to get down to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and were back at North Cove by 1330. That was my first time getting all the way down to the bridge and back - so that was pretty cool.

One of the crew had a camera and took some pictures, so hopfully she will e-mail those to me soon and I can post them up here. I think there is at least one of me - that should keep you coming back in anticipation! :-)