Monday, March 26, 2007

These Boots Are Made For Walking

I confess: It's been a heck of a busy couple of weeks! Rebecca from Germany has
been in town and as most of you know, when there are visitors, there are too
many stories and not enough time to blog about them. And on Friday, Summer
arrived in town to visit Susannah, which makes for an even busier and pleasant
long weekend.

On Friday night, Summer and I met up for some $4 salsa classes (that would be
the dancing, not the chips-and- variety) that my Dominican friends had found
on Craigslist and told me about. I realized during the class that my salsa is
royally messed up and I'd been doing things wrong ever since....well, forever.
My problem is that I am much more comfortable with swing-dancing and I've
converted some of the aspects of swing, such as the hand-grasp, to salsa. When
I changed the hand grasp, I couldn't lead my partner as well and of course this
wreaks havoc on everything else that follows. So maybe I'll drop that little
change when I'm dancing socially ;o) .

After lessons, her and I went down to Kirara, which served up faithfully good
sushi like it always does. I'm always amazed that I can go into a place that is
listed as one of the top 100 restaurants in NY at 8:00 on a Friday night, get a
seat without waiting, and have a complete meal for less than $50 for two
people, not to mention the fact that the food is awesomely fresh. We didn't
binge on any sake, which is probably one reason for the small tab, but their
house sake is pretty good anyway!

After my Saturday morning wake-up-call to Peru (I was doing the waking-up ;o),
Becca and her friend came over (they're staying at Paul and Cathy's abandoned
apartment - thanks guys!!) and checked their mail while I got ready to head
downtown to the MoMA when the devastating news from Alex in India came that he
had split with his girlfriend of four years. Naturally, the reaction to this
was like a death in the Hain family and cast a dark cloud on the day to Rebecca
in particular until he sent reassuring emails later in the day that his solo
trip to India wasn't completely ruined.

After checking out the MoMA (free, courtesy of my employer) in midtown, we
headed back uptown and Becca and I continued the bootcamp that she has been
forcing on me - running a few miles on the running path along the East River.
This was my third run of the week and my legs - and knees, in particular -
weren't too happy about the pavement pounding. Becca and Summer both said that
I should try looking at some new running shoes, but I was pretty sure that my
$29 New Balance shoes (with custom $20 insoles, no less!) were just fine. Until
I tried a new pair of shoes on on Sunday and fell in love with them. Apparently,
my New Balance shoes, which I typically wear when walking a lot around town, are
good for just that: walking. So, they will shortly be retired and become my
"dirty" shoes and replaced with the latest pair of my extensive shoe

I had my third (fourth?) pisco sour party on Saturday night, which was
generously held at Alan and Andrea's apartment, which is much bigger than mine
and features Andrea's cooking skills. There was more drama than usual by the
end of the night and judging by my friends' questionable decisions, apparently
the pisco sours are an aphrodisiac!

Sunday we met up with Summer and Susannah down in Brooklyn to clog our arteries
with cheesy, cheesy grease with a side of eggs at Paninoteca, which was quite
fantastic. After stage one of Saturday's recovery was over, we checked out the
Brooklyn p-p-p-promenade (why do I always have such a hard time remembering
that word?) and then went back uptown to watch Shrek 2 at Paul and Cathy's

The evening was capped by Sean, Melissa, Rebecca, and Kerstin attending a
speed-dating event downtown (sorry ladies, I'm taken) while Summer and I went
walking for some roasted chicken before being halted in mid-step by
intoxicating scent of garlic from a nearby Italian restaurant, Rocco
Restaurant. Plans of eating anything else were quickly dashed and we had a nice
dinner of fresh gnocchi with gorgonzola along with spaghetti with garlicy,
spicey, heart-burn-inducing tomato sauce (yum!).

J. Riley, I finally made it home and *crashed*!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Another International Wedding in the Wings??

So I found out about the most awesome feature I've ever seen on a website: flight tracking with Google Maps! Delta airlines actually shows you in real time where the airplane is, it's proposed flight plan, and the number of airlines in queue at the airport, departing and arriving. My fellow geeks at work were less than impressed and said that this feature has been around for a long time, but I had no idea! What would we do without Google...

Taking advantage of my lucrative tax-return and the fact that there are major festivities occurring in South America next month for Easter, I've booked yet another flight to the Southern Hemisphere, once again to Peru, to see my girl Erika again. In true frugal fashion, I did a major cost analysis of the flight down there for four days, but in the end it came down to the fact that if I don't go next month, I won't see her until October-ish, and that's a long, long time to go without seeing her, considering I've only been around her for a day and a half. But we've been talking several times per week since then and are getting along well. It's an interesting experience though...

Since I was planning on going down to Peru in October, I started to day-dream about checking out another country with Erika that I haven't seen instead of going to Peru again. Argentina? Uruguay? Colombia? Some other country that is on the State Department's "Travel Warning" list and for which it is recommended to get ransom insurance? Sounds like a stellar idea to me. I have a co-worker who's getting married to a Colombian girl in September and when I was talking to him about checking out some Caribbean islands in the country, he said that I should come to Colombia in September, go to his wedding in Bogota (isn't that where "Clear and Present Danger" was filmed?), and then head over to the islands. Are you kidding me? A Colombian wedding? Imagine the drug cartel leaders that I could rub elbows with down there! :o/ . But I'm totally gonna try to get in on that. And the islands are supposed to be amazing!

J. Riley, And the Colombian islands? Check this out:

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

FBI Most Wanted or Local Dive Bar?

I've spent plenty of time in the Lower East Side and the East Village, home of the hipster. Shaggy hair, grease-stained ratty clothing, tapered jeans, etc. I've seen them trying to appear as if they were from the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, and even the 90's. There are the hippies, the grungers, the punk-rockers, and the British-invaders. But we saw a new (and undesirable) hipster classification downtown last weekend: The child molester, complete with the pedo-smile and the big, slightly smokey coke-bottle glasses and everything. It is quite eery...

Rocking "The Look"

We couldn't stop laughing about this guy. We were hanging out and drinking jungle juice way, way downtown at Winnie's, which is borderline Chinatown and the Justice district, clearly in the middle of nowhere near the famous Five Points neighborhood. This place was quite interesting, complete with karaoke, drunk old Chinese guys who would occassionally sing a random song, old ladies in kimono's working the bar, a group of lesbians from England, a group of younger guys passed out on the tables from said jungle-juice, and hipsters dressed so awkwardly that they resembled child molesters :o/ . All in all, however, a great way to spend the evening after stuffing ourselves with Vietnamese food in nearby Chinatown.

This week has been low key due to training classes I've been taking for work, but that didn't stop me from checking out the Renzo Gracie Jiu Jitsu institute in midtown. After getting hooked on Pride FC Mixed-Martial Arts fights, I've been thinking about taking martial arts for a while so I figured I'd check out the infamous Gracie school. They had a free intro course so I headed there in my monkey suit after my training course. The first thing I see when I walk in are 10-feet-tall Brazilians with arm the size of my head. And they were all over the place. Just slightly intimidating.

I ended up being the only person in the intro course that day so I got some one-on-one lessons on take-downs and the reasons why Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is special, notably submission poses like choke-holds and how to put enough force on joints to destroy them, as demonstrated on me by my teacher. "Here's the knee. Here's the ACL, the patella, and here's how you snap it. You can even thrown in an achilles hold and break that in the same move." It was AWESOME! But they are pretty serious at this place and I'm not looking for commitment (well, to martial arts anyway ;o) at the moment so I think I'll just take a Jiu Jitsu self-defense class first and see if I really want to pony up $200 a month to train for the next Pride FC championship....

J. Riley, I now know two take-downs and how to knock someone out with a choke. Too bad I don't have little sisters nearby to practice on. Just kidding Summ, who is coming out in like a week :o/....