Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Wait, Why is Caffeine Legal?

First of all, I would just like to announce that caffeine is absolutely a drug. I rarely drink it, but on mornings like today (preceded by a late evening on the phone with South America), you just need a little kick to get the brain engine started. But I feel like my brain has been turned into big-block 460 engine with a blower on it. I have to walk around the building a few times just
to release the energy. Yikes...

Did You Know (and why would you, since I haven't posted it) that (almost) all of the pictures from my trip can be found at http://picasaweb.google.com/jhaines/Peru2007?

J. Riley, check them out

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Trip Finished

For those of you that don't use Google Reader or any other RSS reader, I finally finished days eight, nine, and ten of my trip to Peru.

J. Riley, just a few more hours of reading for those ;o)

Anti-Valentine's Day, Carneval, and Chinese New Year

The people I hang out with here in NYC can be grouped into the following:
a.) Single and not dating
b.) Married but living 3000 miles away from our spouse
c.) Married but not romantic

This collection of characters makes Valentine's Day interesting and quite anti-climactic. Being Valentine-less, we decided that this year we would all get together to celebrate Anti-Valentine's Day. So most of us got together and met up at Uva for an evening of unromatic fun and some wine to boot. Originally there were going to be three of us, then the group slowly, slowly grew until there were eight of us meeting up. The wine started flowing like water in a river and before I knew it, everyone was in a celebratory sort of mood and I knew that debauchery was on the menu for the evening.

After a few macho master-strokes by some of the well-heeled members of our group that made my night cheaper than expected, Sean (or, rather, the wine he drank) decided that he would buy the first three rounds of drinks at Baraonda, a classy restaurant-turned-club-after-midnight a block down from Uva. Everyone was on board for that so we headed down the street in the freezing weather and bellied up just as the place was turning into the swanky Euro-trash place that we all love. Sean (who earlier in the week had told me that he was out of credit card debt for the first time in 20 years) was ordering drinks (or bottles, rather) out of control and our group was dropping like flies once the champagne bottles started making their rounds.

It was an absolute train-wreck by the end of the night and Sean crashed on my futon and couldn't move the next morning. It sounds like everyone else that was with us was in similar condition, which meant it was a great night :o) . Not bad for a Wednesday evening!!

On Saturday, after my volunteer event learning Capoeira with the kids (I really gotta start taking lessons), I met up with Paul and Cathy and their friends for Ethiopian food at Awash in the East Village. Paul went back to college in California and this was his long weekend trip of the month to visit Cathy and see everyone that he abandoned ;o). I hadn't had Ethiopian in a long time and I forgot how good it was!!

We finished up in time for me to head over to SOB's, which was having a celebration for the kick-off of Brazil's carneval. SOB's is always fun anyway, but for Carneval it was crazy! I got there around midnight and there was a nice 1/2 hour line outside to get inside. Once I finally got in, I found Sean and his friend, but all of the other people that were supposed to show up never ended up coming. A few hours later, I ran into one of the Dominican girls that I had met a few months back and who I had planned on meeting up with that night. My friend Priya and a guy named Ray from work also showed up so we had a nice little crew to dance to the samba music from the live band. We also had a few caiparinhas and mojitos to celebrate with. Being a three day weekend (President's Day), I stayed out later than normal and eventually got to bed at around 5:00am, late enough.

The next day I was up at 10:00 to meet up with Alan, Andrea, Paul, Cathy, etc. for Chinese New Year. I guess we weren't the only ones who decided that a Dim Sum lunch in Chinatown would be a good idea because it was jam packed with people down there. Who's great idea was it to plan Carneval the day before Chinese New Year? Crowds everywhere! After a stressful, freezing walk around Chinatown fighting crowds and finding hour-long waits for Dim Sum, Alan finally steered us to Yeah Shanghai, where a "15 minute" wait turned into almost an hour wait.

The stress finally went away when Alan, utilizing his new Chinese skills, ordered up mounds and mounds of good food for everyone to share family style. The food was absolutely awesome and it felt good to be warm and have a full belly again. The best part? We paid about $10 each for the meal :oD !!

J. Riley, that was an unusual, crazy week believe it or not!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Handsome Devil

I used to be quite the cute kid, whatever happened?

Justy Bobo, thanks for the pics dad

Thursday, February 15, 2007

No More Braces!!

The braces are off!!!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sammy's Halal

You've probably heard about the area where I work: metal recycle shops, abandoned warehouses, truck yards, and auto repair centers. And my building. And no lunch options except a questionable pizza shop, questionable Chinese food, questionable diner food, and solid Thai food. That's about it though. But Jackson Heights (remember Little Columbia?), about 10 minutes away by subway, is abundant in good eats with plenty of Indian, Latin, etc. restaurants.

And Sammy's Halal. I've been ranting and raving about trying this place out ever since last year's Vendy Awards, which rates the best street cart vendors in the city. And Sammy's was #1 for all of New York! Considering how many Halal street carts there are, that's really saying something.

By the time I got to work this morning, I was desperately craving a buffalo chicken sandwich from anywhere. Don't ask me why, but that salty, spicy combination was making me drool at 9:00am. During a coffee break, some coworkers and I inspected the cafeteria to see if there was any sign of buffalo chicken being an option at lunch today (real busy day at work:o/ ) and it was definitely not an option so one of my coworkers suggested that we finally make the trip out to Jackson Heights to see if Sammy's was really all it's been made out to be.

We made it to the street vendor Mecca by lunch time and bowed down to Sammy's plastic trophy as we ordered a $5 chicken and gyro on rice combo with white sauce and spicy sauce and then made the road trip back to the cafeteria to consume our delictable meals. My poor Indian coworker doesn't eat meat, so he was stuck with his standard salad bar meal at work, but Sammy's Halal rocked! Spicy (and salty :-D) , but not overwhelmingly so, with fluffy rice, well-spiced meat, and even a little lettuce. I'll be back, Sammy, don't you worry...

I was sitting in the chiropractor's office today when it dawned on me that I had no idea how many times I've been to Europe since my first trip in 1995. I've been to South America three times, but I have no idea about Europe. And I realize that I'm pretty lucky to be able to just go to American Airline's website and book a ticket to Europe without even thinking twice. The rest of the world has to go and get a visa, but not us. Many people go through their life without seeing other parts of the world, so I am definitely fortunate for this.

J. Riley, I'm not done with my South America trip diary, which will appear below on the dates that they occurred. Lot's more important stuff to write about!!