Monday, October 31, 2005

After moping around this weekend because I wasn't in San Diego celebrating Graham and Brie's newborn baby with everyone else in my family, I finally left the house and enjoyed yesterday's spectacular weather. For some reason, we're having a bit of a heat wave out here and the temperatures are in the mid-60's again. This comes after a few weeks of really cold temperatures with the temperatures down as low as the high-30's. 'Tis the season! With the colors changing so late this year, this provided the perfect opportunity to hit Central Park with my blades again and enjoy the picture-perfect scenery and the musicians' acoustic music. Unfortunately, with my camera battery dead, I was stuck with the camera from my phone, but you can get the idea....

Before Elliana was born, I wasn't really sure how I would react when the day finally arrived. When the text message announcement came on Friday morning, it totally consumed my mind and I was disappointed that I couldn't be there. I mean, everyone else in my family was there but me! While I was sitting around watching soccer, my dad and brother were sipping on wine and smoking celebratory cigars. It made me question my plans to move to Europe in the future because it would be that much harder to be part of family events like this. And as distraught as I was, I am not so sure that that would be a good idea. In any case, I went ahead and booked a flight out to San Diego for next weekend. I'm looking forward to meeting my first niece and hanging out with Graham and Brie.

Costumes were out in full force on Saturday night for Halloween. There were lots of entertaining ones too, such as the guy that was wearing some nerdy glasses and had a giant wedgie that went up over his head. To cap the look off, he had some fake buns showing through his pants where the wedgie started. I couldn't stop laughing just looking at the guy...

J. Riley, I start working at a new client tomorrow :o\

Friday, October 28, 2005

New Baby in the Family

Word on the street is that my first niece was born last night. I've heard her name is Elliana Grace Haines, but this has not yet been confirmed. Congratulations Graham & Brie!

Uncle J. Riley

Monday, October 24, 2005

I'm Annoyed

I'm annoyed.
  • I'm annoyed that my gym was closed again today. I haven't been to the gym this month because it's always closed for Jewish holidays, and this is the month when many of them take place. I coulda swore that last week was the last of them, but I guess I'll have to suffer til next week.
  • I'm annoyed that for the second time this month, I'm sick. A few weeks back (probably right before the Jewish holidays), I got a nasty cold for over a week. Now, I've got a sore throat and a headache that's unrelenting. Related to the fact that I haven't been to the gym all month? Maybe.
  • I'm annoyed that my eyelids are unrelenting in their quest to drive me mad by swelling up so that my eye is constantly half-open at most until the swelling and pain drops and chalazions (plural!) appear. Even more annoying is that I've been to six doctors already and no one can find a cure for me. Hopefully number seven (tomorrow) can do something.
  • I'm annoyed that my client at work is perpetually finding ways to scar my reputation.
  • I'm annoyed that I bought four mutual funds last year and have invested every month in three of them, but recently noticed that the three I've invested in have returned little while the fourth that I haven't been investing more in has returned 25% over the year.
  • I'm annoyed that I opened up an savings account in order to earn 4% interest on my money but it took them two weeks to send me a letter in the mail with my account access information (even though they are located less than two miles away from my apartment) and that by the time I logged in to add funds to my account, they had closed it for lack of funding within ten days of opening the account. During the application, they state that the minimum I have to put into the account during the application is $0, but in reality is $1. I'm sending them a letter and I'm sticking with ING, as should all of you that want to earn a nice 3.4% return on any cash you have laying around.
  • I'm annoyed that the A's didn't make it to the playoffs and that Liverpool consistently underachieves in the Premier League by losing to last-place teams, even though they are the European champions from last year.
  • I'm annoyed that I've been having problems sleeping at night, probably in part because of the above reasons.
J. Riley, I know some of you are annoyed that I haven't blogged about dinner last week. I will shortly.

P.S. Although I don't make mention of them, there are lots of good things going on these days too! Like the imminent arrival of my niece/nephew, my upcoming vacation, etc. etc.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

SLO Bound

Yesterday I booked a flight for my first return to San Luis Obispo in a few years. Ever since I saw the movie Sideways, I've wanted to schedule a trip out there, so I got on the horn with my old college friends Jeff and Ryan to see if they wanted to meet up for a weekend. Most of my college friends live down in the LA area, not to mention my youngest sister who just moved down, and I haven't visited any of them because there's a handful too many to visit in one weekend, and I wouldn't want to snub someone by not visiting them. Not to mention the fact that my brother and sister live an hour and a half south in San Diego. So rather than going to LA, I prefer to go north (SLO) or south (San Diego) of them and have them come to me :).

In any case, I'm going to be flying directly into SLO from NYC via LAX for just $350. What a deal! I look forward to wine and beer tasting trips over the weekend ;o)

J. Riley, I'll have a split jaw and braces on all teeth by then

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Ring Around the Rosey....err, Central Park

Ahhhh....Autumn in Central Park, New York City. There's little wonder why it is often referred to as Fall. The temperature falls, the rain falls (sometimes for days on end like last week), the leaves change color and subsequently fall (along with twigs and nuts that are prepared to survive the winter), and, of course as a result of these things, even rollerbladers fall. Well almost.

Yesterday I took what I guess could be one of my last rollerblade laps around Central Park. As Autumn progresses, every time I get out on my wheels I think it could be my last trip before next spring. With all of the rain that we've had over the last week, I knew that crevices at every corner would still be wet and that the streets on the loop would be littered with leaves and other Autumn-like items. It dawned on me (as it does on every trip around the park) that my face and hands had not yet tasted asphalt this season, although I constantly push my limits with the expectation that it could happen. Especially with the plethora of twigs and acorns in the road. I started day-dreaming about writing a blog toying with the homonym "fall" to describe the season as well as the experience and action of the event while rollerblading. I almost wanted to fall in order to make this blog a reality. I decided I could still write about it without actually experiencing it, so I changed mental topics and went into observation mode. Towards the end of my trip, I mentally observed the fact that my shorts were beginning to slip down my waste a bit and so I shifted them back up my hips and BAM. I don't know what I hit, but the contact with my worn-down wheels and rollerblade chassis made a crackling noise and I almost did a face plant. Luckily, I have the balance of a hockey player on my blades and was able to recover before this happened. But I smiled because that's the closest I've come to falling this year and now the blog could become a reality :) ....

I'm back to a semi-liquid diet because my braces got a new wire yesterday. I went out to dinner with some people on Saturday night at an East Village Venezuelan establishment called Caracas Arepa Bar, which served something like an empanada made out of corn (an Arepa) which makes it a desirable place for gluten-intolerant residents and diners. Unfortuantely, the corn shell was a bit crunchy, which made for a painful experience - but I look forward to eating there in 18 months :-/. After dinner, we checked out a place near Sean's new apartment called The Porch, which had an interesting crowd and was great for people watching. It was a pretty mellow evening and to make the weekend complete I met up with my EV peeps at Organic Grill this morning for brunch. Mmmh....Challah French Toast is quite edible even with braces on.

J. Riley, for the record I think that September is one of the best times of the year to visit.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

I Can't Get No Sleep (said with British accent)

I have no reason why, but I woke up at 5:00am today after getting to bad sometime around midnight last night. Rather than sitting there and listening to the rain drops against my window, I decided to get up. I had some soccer news to watch from the previous night (World Cup qualifiers) and some other things to keep me occuppied, like making a hot breakfast, doing dishes, re-learning last night's Brazilian Portuguese lesson #1 (Daniel, I have some questions), etc. With all my free time, and considering the fact that I had to wear a tie to work today, I went ahead and learned how to tie a full Windsor knot, since I never have luck with the half-Windsor and my Four-in-hand knots are not symmetrical. It took me a couple tries, but I now have a nice, tight noose around my neck :-/ ...

J. Riley, gasping for breath.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Critical Update

Today Microsoft released a bunch up critical patches for Windows computers. Everyone should make sure that they download and update their computers so you don't get hacked. Well, everyone except Graham and people from Brooklyn running Mac OSX who make strange comments on my blog :-/ ! Oh yea, and Firefox is on version 1.0.7 right now and it looks like most of you haven't upgraded to that version yet. Click on red arrow on the top of your browser to upgrade!

It's been raining cats and dogs out here. I am not sure which hurricane this storm is related to, but it's been raining since last week and all I see in the next week's forecast is rain, rain, and more rain. And, since I lost God's Umbrella (sometime during or after Oktoberfest :( ), I am being punished with only my mid-size umbrella. On my way home from the Brazillian consulate today (more on this later), there was a midget dog standing next to it's dog-walker (it's raining too much for an owner to be walking their own dog, methinks) with a rain jacket and booties on, looking up at me with pitiful eyes and shivering slightly. Gee, and I thought that I lived a sheltered life....

I would like everyone to know that I don't want anything this year for Christmas. Seriously, I know that the economy is sluggish and The Man wants us to spend lots of money on gifts for people, but I really have everything I need this year. If you want to give me something, it better be hand-made or be something personal (like pictures). I'm serious - I don't want ANYTHING ELSE this year - well, maybe a new God's Umbrella or a pair of rain slickers for my shoes.

Speaking of Winter and shoes, a co-worker of mine (a white guy who thinks he's black and who talks to himself non-stop during the workday) mentioned the other day (to himself, of course) that he was excited because he was going to buy himself a pair of new Timberlands early this year. P&C, you will find this amusing ;o)

So today I spent the morning getting ready to travel down to the Brazilian consulate so that I could get my travel visa. I filled and printed out the visa application, made photo copies of my plane tickets, spent $0.90 on a money order for $100 from the post office, spent +$10 on passport photos, and about an hour on the subways (which weren't running to the station I had to go to, naturally). Once I got there, I waited the requisite 15 minutes in line to give them my documents, only to find out that I hadn't signed my printed materials yet. I signed it and got back in line behind a few people. Finally, all my documents were there and he thumbed through my passport, looked at my visa from two years ago and said "your visa is valid for five years. Go deposit your money order in your account". Uggh. While I'm stoked that I didn't have to spend $100, I am seriously annoyed that I spent the whole morning down there. I looked at the visa in my passport and finally did see the fine print. But it is awkwardly worded and I probably would have gone down there to clarify it regardless. But still. Annoying. And wet.

Last night I got an urgent call from Cathy asking me for the biggest favor that I've ever had to do in my life. I quickly ran through my mental rolodex of favors that I've had to do - fix my computer, fix my other computer, upgrade my computer, set my computer up to use my neighbor's wireless connection, buy me a new computer, etc. - and figured that I could fix whatever broke on Cathy's computer, so I agreed. "I killed a mouse in my apartment and I need you to take care of it". I couldn't stop laughing. She wasn't very amused at my laughing, but I thought it was hilarious. So I hightailed it over to her place and dumped the mouse-trap into the trash shoot. I'm not as cool as Paul because he re-uses the mouse traps but I figured I'd save him a flight out here and dispose of the mouse and the $0.50 trap at once. And then I proceeded (attempted) to fix Cathy's laptop. I guess I can add dead rodent removal services to my repitoire of skillz...

J. Riley, I'm downloading Brazilian Portuguese language training CDs. I hope I'm fluent by next month.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Pisco Sours: The Aftermath

I always look forward to three day weekends. Well, technically, I didn't have Monday off this week, but my client did. So my boss emailed everyone and said that we had to use one of our vacation/personal holiday days up and take the day off. I complained about this and tried to figure out a way that I could at least SAY that I was working on Monday so that I didn't have to use the hours. Damn, that's what I get for being an efficient worker and actually finishing everything on Friday like I said I would. Oh well, the boss says that he wouldn't know if I was sick on Monday so, cough-cough, I came down with something nasty and none of my precious vacation time was sacrificed ;o) .

This was Niko's, a friend of Alex's who I met here in NYC, last weekend in the city, so we decided to do something special for him. Or, rather, I was looking for an excuse to host a gathering of sorts at my house this weekend. I guess it was partially a knee-jerk reaction to being pissed about not living in the East Village and trying to convince myself that I could still have some fun up here on the Upper-East-Side, even if I know the truth deep down in my heart ;o) ! Earlier in the week I had invited some people that I'd met the previous weekend up to my place on Saturday for Pisco Sours and some other cocktails.

With this event in mind, I was planning for a mellow Friday evening so I went to yoga for the extended session and felt great afterwards. Niko and I decided to meet up and have a beer down at Zum Schneider, an authentic Bavarian beer garden in the heart of the East Village. It was quite authentic, down to the weiss-wurst breakfast sausages they served and the Oktoberfest-style beer they served in quantities of up to one liter. We were on a budget (cash only!), so we had a drink and some sausages before heading out. We were going to meet up with Sean afterwards at the hookah bar next to his apartment, but he was nowhere to be found. They wouldn't let us into the place because, as usual, we were two guys. We decided to wander down towards the Lower East Side instead of waiting around and we dropped into various places to see if we could find something interesting. Eventually, we came across Welcome to the Johnsons, which was serving $2 PBRs and had a pool table and an interesting crowd. The place was totally retro and we played some pool while chatting it up with the crowd there. After we left there, we headed home and made an extended pit stop at a place to use their restrooms. We ended up hanging out with some people there for a bit before they closed. By this time, the sausages had worn off, so we had breakfast at a great all-night place that I've had brunch at before called 7A-Cafe. Lots of good food at really cheap prices!

Back in March, The Peruvian girls brought a bit of their culture up when they came to visit. It was called "Pisco", and it's used to make the classic South American drink called Pisco Sours, which are similar to a frozen margarita with lots of sugar, limes, ice, and egg whites. I had a bit of Pisco left over, so I invited people over to help me finish it off.

You know the Six Degrees of Seperation rule? Well, based on my calculations, I think we broke that rule on Saturday, unless there's another route to some of the people that were here. D know Cathy. Cathy knows me. I know Sean. Sean knows Melissa. Melissa grew up with Sarah. Sarah is roommates with Karen. Karen is sisters with Cindy. Cindy knows Francis. Francis was friends in college with Jeff. That's nine degrees right there. Sweet!

The party was epic. iTunes was providing our music, I provided the Pisco Sours, Melissa provided some rum, and the young Germans provided....Natty Ice :o| . That's okay, there were enough alternatives that I didn't have to drink any of that stuff. They're young kids, what else do you expect?

After hanging out here for a few hours, Karen had a birthday party to go to for her former boss down in the LES, so we saddled up in the cabs and headed down to a new Austrian (!!) place called Thor. I hadn't been there before, but some of us had seen them building the place a while back and when we asked what kind of place it was going to be, they didn't even know at the time because they'd just hired a chef and hadn't figured out what it was going to be yet. Ultra-modern places don't really belong in the LES, but I guess eventually everything gets modernized at one time or another in the city.

Once the bar was ready for everyone to leave, they started playing classical waltz music. Little did they know that we had Germans and Bavarians (important distinction!) among us! Do they know how to waltz? Of course! Wait, uhhh...Niko. THAT'S not the waltz! I think that was invented sometime during the movie....Dirty Dancing.

Niko was quite the entertainment that night. At one point he used the restroom, where he was smiled at by the pretty lady that cleans the bathrooms. As usual, he didn't have any cash so he ran upstairs to borrow some cash from his Bavarian friend Marcus. He ran back downstairs and got a really big smile from the bathroom lady. He came back up and Marcus said "did you give her the whole thing?" Marcus gave him a $5 bill and he thought it was a single dollar. With no shame, he walked back down to the bathrooms and asked for $4 back. Oh Niko....

After Thor closed up, we went over to this guy Jeff's house. Turns out that he brews his own beer and ciders in his small apartment in the East Village. On the walk over there, Niko discovered an abandoned Power Wheels jeep on the side of the rode. So he pushed Cindy down the First Avenue, across Houston, all the way until the car swerved out of control and crashed into a tree :-\ . RIP!

Jeff does a really good job with his brewing, I might add. I tasted his Brown Ale and it was tasty with a hint of chocolate and hazlenut. He had quite a big selection to choose from and even had a few on tap in his apartment. But alas, people started to drift off and the night was due to end sometime before sunset.

Everyone headed home at about 5:15 in the morning and I got to bed by 5:30. My sleep schedule was all messed up by this point. My body was thinking that I must have gotten on a plane and landed in Europe six hours ahead at some point in the last 48 hours. I woke up at 1:30 on Sunday, fell asleep watching a movie at about 8:00, woke up at 11:00 and couldn't sleep until 3:00am. Monday it was more of the same, not being able to sleep until after midnight despite the limited amount of sleep the night before. It was an epic weekend, though.

J. Riley, I like the word "Epic". My least favorite is "insomnia"...

Friday, October 07, 2005

Maxillofacial Modeling

So I spoke to my doctor(s) today and it looks like I might be having my upper jaw surgery sometime in December. Given that it's almost this time of year, it looks like I'm going to either ruin Thanksgiving (or, in my case, Brazillian wedding/vacation) or Christmas. I guess that'll help me keep my muscular figure and not raise my body fat above 0.4%....

J. Riley, I'm going to keep to a meat-only diet for the next month, while I can.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Slice 'Em and Dice 'Em

I went to the dermatologist to have a few questionable things on my skin looked at - including my beloved eyelids and their never ending quest to drive me insane. Plus, being a moley person, I needed to have them all looked at in case they are turning red and squirting out yellow stuff or something like that. Being a moley person, usually my moles with the halo around them raise a few eyebrows, but that one was fine. Instead, I got one on my back sliced off and their going to dice it up and do a biopsy. With my skin, I'm a cancer-patient-in-training so I won't really be surprised if results come back positive. We shall see in any case. And, no, the doctors don't know anything about my problematic eyes. Maybe I should go to that party that Lorin Ashton is playing at on Saturday called "The Freek Factory"....

Last week Sean made me jealous and moved down to the East Village next to Le Souk, a pretty cool Moroccan resaurant, hookah bar, and club. I hate him. I thought about moving down there earlier this year but since no one I know lives down there, I decided to stay with the UES snobs instead. I'm going to try to transfer my lease to an unsuspecting recent-frat-boy and move down there sometime soon, but I don't have many high hopes. I'll just dream about hanging out at places that have live Cuban music every night of the week instead :-/

Saturday, I'm hosting a gathering of some sorts at my apartment. I still have a bottle of Pisco to use up from my South American friends, so I'm having people over for Pisco Sours and a mix of other random tasty beverages that I can summon up from my dusty cabinets. I never drink the stuff, I might as well use it up!

Last weekend was crazy. I'm tired just thinking about it. I did dinner at the Peruvian restaurant Pio Pio with Alan and Andrea and Andrea's friend who was visiting on Friday, Saturday I did my volunteer thing with the kids, taking them to the Bronx Zoo for the day. There was one little demon-child who was tormenting my kids, one cute Irish lassy/volunteer from Queens, and one loooong train ride to get to the zoo. It was a fun one, though. Saturday night I hung out with Sean (briefly) and his friends Melissa and Sarah before he ditched us in favor of some other people. So we went to a birthday party at Orchid Lounge before heading to a local dive bar for a few hours of good conversation. There was a friend of a friend of a friend of Sean's who was Polish, was a soccer fan, and who had lived in San Luis Obispo for four months for work, so he and I had plenty to talk about. Niko and Soenke showed up and before long Soenke had hit on every girl in the bar (including those at our table with boyfriends across the table from him). Oh Soenke, what will we do with you. I apologized profusely to my new acquantances at the bar for his behavior - before he arrived. Damage Control....

Anyway, we ended up at the same bar that we went to the week before - the one behind the black, unlabeled door. I guess it's called the No Malice Palace. We hung out there for a bit before we decided to head home or, rather, they closed down. I can't handle these late nights! I'm an old man now!! :o)

J. Riley, the local anesthesia is wearing off. Ouchy.