Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Fast and The Furious

The doctor's appointments keep coming fast and furious. I am still fighting something in my stomach, though I still haven't gone to the doctor to find out what is going on down there. I guess part of it is lack of faith in my primary care physician after he mis-diagnosed (or so we think) Pablo a few weeks back ("kidney stone" turned out to be a ruptured appendix and a week in the hospital :-/ ). I'm seeing (literally) signs of progress now though, so I'm trusting and hoping that I'll be fit in time for next Wednesday's main event.

Besides my PCP, there are plenty of other doctors doing their thing on me. I've had dentists filling holes in my teeth, orthodontists putting stainless steel wire through the teeth brackets (and will shortly install the "hooks" for the rubber bands that will hold my jaws together post-surgery - sounds fun!), surgeons eyeballing my jaws, chin, and the amount of tooth showing like a lion looking at a big piece of steak and chiropractors twisting and moving my spine around to great effect.

You'd think with all this exciting activity, it would be easy for me to spend all that money that I'm putting into my tax-free Flexible Medical Spending Account. However, the one big unknown that remains is how much this whole thing is going to cost me and my savings account. It seems like the insurance company doesn't even have a clue, the first time I've ever had this issue with them :o/ . Either way, a ton of cash is gonna either be spent on allowing me to eat a slice of pizza like a human or is gonna get dropped on a bunch of designer eye-glass frames that will be sold on eBay ;o). It's a long story....

In other news, there were a bunch of out-of town visitors in town last weekend. The hot German stewardess was here Friday night, exhausted after working the flight as always. Mom and youngest-daughter Pitzen were in town with an entourage of friends and moms, so I got to see them for a few hours while touring around the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Afterwards, I met up with Vince and, later, his wife for a little late-night fun. Vince and I toured around looking for an appropriate place to celebrate Oktoberfest (though we're a little late) and ended up at a few soccer pubs in the early evening, chatting it up with Arsenal fans at the Liverpool bar and meeting up with Jonalyn at Nevada Smith's, "were soccer is religion". We eventually went to go find some dinner and ended up eating tapas at Oliva down on the Village/LES border. Thereafter, we kind of wandered around town and ended up at an interesting lounge in the village with quite an array of clientèle, including goth chicks in all black and frat boys with baseball hats. Good for crowd watching!

Sunday, Vince and I met up at a bar near his hotel where he was watching the last Formula One race of the year (and career, for Michael Schumacher). Directly afterwards, we high-tailed it downtown to catch the epic football match of the year, Real Madrid v. FC Barcelona. And it was a hot one! We ended up going to a new soccer bar called "Mundial", which I plan on frequenting once I move there :)

Stumbling ever so slightly after the game, we walked back to the subway and I made the commute up to the Bronx to have dinner with Cathy and Melissa at her place. I hadn't seen them in about two weeks, so there was plenty of gossip and stories passed around like the bottle of wine. I proposed the idea of having a Last Social Event of the Year party this upcoming weekend, which looks like it's gonna happen. salsa dancing in the cards?

J. Riley, my stomach still concerns me. But in the opposite way...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

From Layovers to Overlays

Thanks for the encouraging comments on the blog below, it's nice that everyone is so concerned with my health...and I'm not talking about my sunburn. :o|

Anyway, the trip to Mexico. I was going there for my good friends from college Sandy and Daniel's wedding. It was pretty much a blur as I flew down Friday morning at the crack of dawn (awoke at 4:00, flight at 7:00) through Chicago. So that day was pretty much a waste, except that I got there at around 2:30, which left plenty of day in Mexico time :o). As I taxied to the hotel in a cute little authentic neighborhood of Puerto Vallarta - I knew I could trust Daniel and Sandy to stay away from the mega-tourist areas, which I'm sure exist there - I happened to see Daniel joining the others for lunch. I tried to get his attention, but to no avail. The hotel was around the corner, so after getting dropped off and checking in and changing, I was on my way to the beach when I ran into another couple that was there for the wedding and found out they were all meeting for lunch, which is where I'd seen Daniel. We got there in time to get our first round of cervezas and food ordered with the rest of the group.

After lunch, evening plans got started. The night's event was going to be tequila tasting at a tequila bar, but apparently the place was shuttered, so they decided to do tequila tasting, homebrew style. We went to a grocery store and bought bottle after bottle of top-shelf tequila for the evening's festivities. After returning and lounging by the pool for a while, everyone went and changed and came down to the hotel bar for the ceremonies. Jason, a fellow SLO-grad, had gone deep sea fishing that day and the hotel had fillet'd his Mahi Mahi up with butter and garlic, which was a delicious appetizer. We started going through the bottles of tequila and the socializing became very open and enjoyable. The interesting thing about taking shots of good tequila is that no matter how much I seemed to drink (which wasn't thaaaat much, really), you wouldn't get out of control or crazy drunk. Just a nice, cruise control type, so that was interesting.

After we polished off the bottles, a group of us got cabs and headed downtown. Since I'd just arrived, I felt it was my duty to encourage everyone to go out yet again, even though they'd been going out every night for the past few nights. We ended up at a sleek, cool R&B club called Hilo that was on the main strip, overlooking the ocean and with a packed sound-system and crowd. I was digging on the place, but some of the older crowd weren't so keen on the number of people, so we headed down the street to Havana, a Cuban salsa club. Still weary of embarassing myself, I did the reggae shuffle (a self-invented combo of swing and salsa) a few times but wasn't too dramatic. I was more interested watching the Mexican pro's do their thing. Very impressive!

We only stayed up until about 1:30 that night before we returned for the evening. The next day was just mellow - I had breakfast with an aunt and uncle of the groom's at a restaurant ($8 a piece for a full breakfast, OJ, and bloody mary's) before returning to the hotel and getting into my sun-gear. I spent the rest of the day basically sitting on the beach, catching up with Daniel, Sandy, and some of the others that I knew, getting towed with five others on a giant banana in the ocean, and getting charred. I mean, it was like 85 degrees out and overcast, so I figured I didn't need any coverage, but that was a mistake. After about two hours, I decided to go buy some sunscreen (since I can't take it on the airplane) and luckily I was able to bum some quality BullFrog 36 SPF Gel off someone so I didn't have to throw down $1 for a new tube for myself. And I think that stuff saved my bacon from becoming crunchy....

At night, there was the main event. We had a sunset wedding on the beach, complete with a local ceremony performed by two native Mexican tribal members that included the blowing of a conch shell, lighting some sage herbs, and the beating of a drum. It was pretty neat and quick and the bride looked great in a simple, elegant dress.

Shortly after we ate dinner at the restaurant that overlooked the ocean that they had rented half of, the salsa band they'd hired started playing and the free salsa lessons started. Now, I'm no Don Juan or Desi Arnaz when it comes to the Latin dances, but I know a couple turns and moves in salsa and so I headed out to maybe learn something. I ended up dancing with someone instead and before I knew it, the lessons were over and I was having a ball on the dance floor with the ladies. I guess gringos who can salsa are few and far in between, so I got my pick of all the old ladies to dance with ;o) . I ended up ignoring my cadillac margarita for the rest of the night and salsa'd and cha-cha'd - the dance that I consider to be my "competitive advantage" (as you know, it's worked real well :o| ). I did this for a good four hours before I was completely exhausted and drenching wet! It was a blast, though, and no headache the next morning like the rest of the guys I was hanging out with earlier ;o).

The next day was pretty much composed of packing, eating, and trying to wake the guy up that I was taking a noon o'clock cab with to the airport. He had a rough night ;o). I got home sometime around midnight pretty well rested after sleeping a lot on the plane - which of course threw me totally off balance as far as my sleep schedule. What a crazy trip!

This week has been a week of doctors. First of all, I definitely got Montezuma's Revenge and haven't been able to shake it. It's come at a terrible time, I hope I can shake it in the next week before my surgery on 11/1. On Tuesday, I went to have two cavities filled (not happy about that) when I got a nice little surprise discussion with the receptionist prior to my treatment. She wanted to schedule my "insertion" while I was waiting. I laughed at her and told her don't worry, I haven't lost any teeth yet, figuring she got her patients mixed up. Then she tells me that I'm having an "Overlay" done on one of my teeth. Uhhhh...what the hell are you talking about. She explains that one of my teeth was so bad that they have to drill a big chunk out, take a mold, have a porcelain piece created, and insert it in the hole in ten days. At this point, I'm on the cusp of swearing because no one had ever mentioned this to me before. WTF? And, thanks to my great insurance, it was only going to cost me $400 to have done. At this point I'm freaking out. So I'll go into surgery recovering from this little procedure, that sounds fun. Ummm, yea, I think I should talk to the dentist about this.

Luckily, I had to sit and fume in the dentist chair for about ten minutes before she came in. By this point I had begun thinking and speaking rationally and just wanted to find out what was going on and understand why they never mentioned this when I was in for my regular vist. They insisted that they told me but "sometimes we use words that some patients don't understand". Dude, now we're talking major tooth operation and $500. Don't you think that maybe you should explain that? She obviously can see that I have never had such a thing, why would I know what an "overlay" is? She then explained that they filed this pre-claim with my insurance as a precaution in case it was bad enough to need this procedure since they woulnd't know until they started drilling me and if it wasn't bad they could just do a normal filing. This made more sense, but I still don't know why it took them so long to tell me this. Sometimes I wonder about this doctor...

In the end, it wasn't bad and I just got a double-dosage of novocain, two and a half episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm in the awesome DVD goggles that I get to wear (the main reason why I go there in the first place), and a normal filling. But now I'm wondering if they just gave me the filling to make me stop bitching and someday my tooth is going to need a root canal or something. Sometimes I wonder if all of this dental/orth crap I'm doing is worth it if my teeth are all rotten in the end anyway....

J. Riley, oh yea and I had to go back yesterday for the other filling. Sigh. I have to go to the bathroom again...

Monday, October 16, 2006


I should, and really want to, write about my awesome trip to Mexico, including the tequila tasting, the nightclubs, the sunburn, the banana boat, the reuniting with friends and acquantainces of old, the wedding ceremony, the salsa band, and the hours of latin dancing that I did this past weekend. Instead, I sit here suffering a day after I returned home and yearning for my bed. I don't know if it was Montezuma, but someone clearly took out their revenge on me today.

J. Riley, payback is a biotch, tomorrow could be rough....

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Aircraft Crashes into New York Building

It's not my building, but I can see the smoke from my office...

J. Riley, I work in the only commercial high-rise on this side of the river :o/

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Columbus Day

One of the nice things about working for a monolithic retail bank is that we get the bank holidays off - such as Columbus Day. I'm not really sure why banks feel the need to close their doors in order to celebrate the raping and pillaging of my ancestors (I'm 1/16th Cherokee, as you all know) by an Italian, but I will forgive them because it meant that I had an excuse for sleeping in until 9:45 in the morning on a Monday. Of course, none of my friends had the day off, so it was going to be a mellow one for me, and we had perfect 80 degree fall weather to boot!

With such nice weather, I decided to utilize the rollerblades for my errand-running. Rollerblading on the crazy UES sidewalks always puts my life in peril, but I figured it wouldn't be too bad avoiding the milfs, trophy wives, and nannies that the narrow sidewalks are full of during a "normal" day. But, sure enough, I had two near-death experiences, one of which involved a shopping cart that was turned around and rolled right into my path. Of course I hit it but demonstrated my impeccable grace by not spilling myself all over the sidewalk and instead turned around and glared at the guy. I can't totally fault him since I was on my rollerblades on the sidewalk. The second event was on an empty sidewalk where a wealthy lady was standing next to the entrance of the car garage waiting for someone to pull her car out - as I found out just as it pulled out right in front of me. The dumb biotch had clearly seen me slowly coming up the street but didn't bother to ask her driver to wait a second or let me know that her car was coming out. Annoying.

Having already seen my life flash in front of my eyes twice already, I decided to push my luck by rollerblading around Central Park and heading down into the heart of all that is evil - Time Square. With speeding traffic, throngs of tourists, tour buses, and messed up roads, this isn't exactly optimal rollerblading territory. But I was so close to it when I hit the south end of the park that I had to take the chance in order to save $7 on Citizen Cope concert tickets that will come in handy during my recovery time next month....

J. Riley, speaking of which I've finally gotten insurance approval for Nov. 1's main event.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Public Service Announcement

" least once an hour, on average, the BBC honeypot was hit by an attack that could leave an unprotected machine unusable or turn it into a platform for attacking other PCs."

J. riley, yea, just keep using Internet Explorer please.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

In the Ghetooooo....

On a cold and gray New York mornin,
Another little baby term is born
In the ghettoooooooo (in the ghettoooooo-that-is-91st-St)

Milk Committed
. We've all been there before. You have some soccer games from the afternoon Tivo'd and are preparing for a nice, quiet evening catching up on them. You've just returned from the grocery store with some new items and are going to sit down to a fine dining experience with your new Peanut Butter Bumpers cereal. The cereal is in the bowl, the milk is in hand. The milk is poured into the bowl, and then the phone rings. You've been invited to join your friends for an exotic dining excursion - or maybe just chinese food. But you can't join them. For you are milk committed.

J. Riley, there's committed and then there's milk committed. There's a clear distinction here...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Baby Got Linear, Vertical Back

Because I am not spending enough money or time at the doctor's office, I have decided to take advantage of my new medical insurance and start visiting the chiropractor on a regular basis. The last time I went, he took x-rays of my spine and pointed out a plethora of issues that are not going to fix themselves, sitting on an exercise ball all day at work or not. I am entitled to up to 20 visits a year with my insurance and since there are just three months left in the year, I think I'll be making a couple visits a week to get my alignment all up to date.

In other news, I've been spending a whole lot of time watching the baseball playoffs, where the A's are likely to figuratively (and literally) drop the ball for the next three games after taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series. And I've been catching up on a great show called Weeds, which is on Showtime (though I've heard that it can be found on bit torrent sites as well ;o)

J. Riley, I'm thinking that I probably won't get too many adjustments in the month of November, however....

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Releasing the (not so) Inner Geek

Today at work, I was bored with watching the A's game statistics appear on the webpage everytime I hit F5 and decided that I was ready for a change to help improve my efficiency of work, or read the Liverpool news with greater ease. I decided to tackle Windows 2000 and try to get both my laptop screen and an LCD monitor hooked up with Extended Display, so my screen would be split between the two peripherals. A challenge of geeky proportions! My boss, who sits across the aisle from me, came back and found me with parts and bits of my computer and monitors and docking stations all over the place and immediately chastised me, saying I must not have enough work to do. Well, except then he immediately gave me tips, saying that he tried to set it up and it turned into an hour long session of Googling webpages trying to get this damn thing to work. And then I struck gold after downloading some new drivers from Dell's website and - voila! - now my video card is outputting the images on my screen across two monitors, giving me vast more real estate for my spreadsheets and Liverpool news...

J. Riley, yes, I'm that guy with braces who is surrounded by computer screens cluged together while sitting on my exercise ball.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Gaining Respect for Queens

I've had quite a September, I must say. It started off in LA, where I spent my Labor Day weekend. I know quite a few people down there and, for that reason, I've avoided it like the plague since I graduated from college. I know that there is no way I could go there for a weekend and see everyone that I want to because most of them are from different groups of friends. So rather than disrespect anyone, I just don't go there :o) . But Labor Day was great because 1.) Everyone was actually staying in town for the long weekend, 2.) There was a wedding to attend, and 3.) My little sister had just moved into her apartment and was starting her second year of college. So the stars were lined up and, despite my flight there and back being significanly delayed (for no apparent reason), it was a very entertaining weekend seeing (almost) everyone and getting to meet my friend's Peruvian girlfriend finally, seeing his parents again, and getting to know some people that I was acquantinces with from high school who also attended the wedding. I also managed to squeeze in a day with my sister, seeing her knew warzone apartment and hanging out at Huntington Beach with her for the day. We don't get to spend enough time together, so that was something special! I also narrowly missed meeting up with my parents, who were driving through the area on their way back from visiting my niece in San Diego after moving my little sister in.

The end of the month has been interesting as well. My good friend Paul was (mis-?)diagnosed with a kidney stone, which actually was appendicitis and ended up in the hospital for five or six days with his appendix ruptured. It was pretty hard to see him forced to sit still for six days, not being able to eat or drink anything. I tried to spend as much time down there as possible and he finally recovered enough to come home last week, shortly thereafter flying back to California to return to school, which started this week. I'm sure he's gotta be mentally exhausted, but that's better than being hooked up to IVs all week!

I think the culmination of this, plus turning a year older, some stress at work, Liverpool's stuttering start to the season, getting stood up by my stewardess friend, and my impending surgery, got me feeling pretty lethargic and anti-social lately, so I needed to shake things up to get back into a positive frame of mind and groove. Some remedies come in strange forms, like Columbian nightclubs in the middle of Queens. Some friends from work and I had a drink or two after work on Friday at a (the only) beer shack near my office. Feeling emboldened, I decided that we needed to keep it going somewhere, so I suggested to my Ecuadorian co-worker that he take us somewhere local and unique, since he knows Queens pretty well. One subway stop away at Roosevelt Avenue, we were in the middle of Little Columbia (if you've seen Maria Full of Grace, you might recognize that street name). Our Ecuadorian tour guide took us to a nightclub that was so local that the Columbian bartenders didn't speak a lick of English. Sweet! I was so enthralled in this place!

Personally, I use sites like Citysearch and my restaurant guides to find new places to check out, but since those mostly focus on Manhattan, it's really tough to find these little enclaves, kind of like Polish Greenpoint in Brooklyn. I know they exist, but it's really hard to find out about them without someone local!

In any case, one happy hour drink turned into a night of dancing to merengue, borchata (sp.), cha-cha, and salsa music and meeting some new Latin folks in a legitimately South American atmosphere. I've got that place bookmarked in my mind, possibly the next destination for one of my infamous Pisco Sour parties??

After waking up late on Saturday, I joined Sean for some greasy American food to help shake off the effects of the cervezas from the night before. Unfortunately, we had to help see Paul and his parents off to the airport to return to school, but fortunately the day didn't end there as my friends Andrea and Alan had their wedding celebration that evening waaay upstate. They got married alone in Fiji a few months back so they had their party Saturday night at a very unique location - in an old carousel building at a state park. The carousel was still operational and made for an amazing aura about the place. Cathy, originally supposed to be in California on vacation this week, decided at the last minute to attend, so we both hitched a ride with someone who was making the hour and a half drive with a rental car.

They had a lovely reception, including a nice slideshow of their trip and wedding in Fiji, complete with Fijian warriors escorting her down to the cliff overlooking the sunset. That fulfilled the emotional quota that all wedding celebrations need to have :o).

J. Riley, today's events include watching movies that came out before I was born that I really should have seen a long time ago, like West Side Story (aka New York's Romeo & Juliet in the neighborhood that was torn down to build the Lincoln Center) and Saturday Night Fever...