And the award for...


"Laziest Blog Updater In The World" goes to (drumroll) - ME!!

Folks, I apologize for not keeping things current around here. It wasn't until my friend Steve Wright swung through Madison last week and commented, "You need to blog more often," that I realized just how lax I've been. No excuse for it, other than being busy and not being home very often as of late. Excuses aside, let's catch-up, shall we?

October was a busy month. I'll share the highlights here - hope you enjoy them!

Early October: Packers vs Browns

Have I mentioned how awesome my boss is? Well, he is. And I'm not just saying that because I think he reads this (I don't think he does). His name is also Steve, and he's been the most supportive, generous, skill-building boss I've ever had. He's so good at building strong teams, challenging us to stretch ourselves and to learn as much as we can, and just generally developing strong leaders/professionals. He's been our boss for 2 years now, and it's been absolutely superb.

Aside from him being my immediate boss, he's also become a very good friend. Steve is the guy that I went to Austin with in 2011, he's the guy who generously hosted my 40th birthday party at his house, and has done countless other things for and with me.

He's a huge fan of the Green Bay Packers, so I was pleasantly surprised when he asked if I'd be interested in attending a game with him, his treat.

"Let me think about that for a sec- DUH, of COURSE I'd love to go!" was my response... (I'm so smooth and reserved)

The Packers were playing the Browns, and Steve scored seats in the north end zone, just 5 rows from the field. It was a late afternoon game, which meant we didn't have to wake up terribly early. Steve picked me up at around 11:30; we had an easy drive to the game, and we saw a great Packers victory.

The weather wasn't super great; it was coolish, rainy, and a little windy, but it was still a great time. Because of the weather, we didn't imbibe too much - I think we each had one adult beverage, and then I had a coffee at half time. We're party animals, eh?

Here are some random photos from the game, starting with this awesome tailgating set-up that the Browns fans had. It was an old school bus that had been extended to include a smoker/grilling station on the back. The front featured a PVC-made full face mask. There was a HUGE sound system cranking tunes, and nearly everyone seemed to be really enjoying the set-up. It was truly impressive.


Here are some action shots from the game. Keep in mind that these were all shot with my iPhone, which is a great point-and-shoot, but it's no full-frame dSLR with nice glass.





And while I said I don't think he reads my blog, I'll say it again, just in case - thank you, Steve for the great time and for being a great friend and awesome boss.

Mid October: The Big Apple - Revisited

I had the opportunity to visit New York for a training class; the class was held at the same location/venue as the class I attended last year, which was awesome because I had complete familiarity with the area.

I spent 5 days in New York, and man, I honestly love that city. I love staying in the Financial District ("FiDi") - it's at the very southern tip of Manhattan and is where you'll find Battery Park, Ellis Island, Wall Street, and a whole bunch of cool parks/businesses. I ran every single day - if I lived in NYC, I'd run 3x per day. Just look at the view from the running trail within Battery Park:


Residents of NYC aren't as fond of living in the FiDi as they are other areas because the area largely shuts down after 6:00pm. All of the stock market folks, analysts, and financial folks leave at quitting time and don't return until the next day. That was A-OK by me because it made for very quiet nights in my hotel room (no horns or sirens). Residents also complain about the lack of "good food options," which is something I don't get... I found tons of great food in the area, including this awesome breakfast bagel:


FiDi is about 40 blocks south of Times Square; I made my way up there a few times because where else will you see things like this?


Aside from Times Square, I enjoyed the Midtown area because it's also home to a neighborhood known as Hell's Kitchen. Hell's Kitchen is a super gorgeous, happening part of town that's filled with incredible shops, restaurants, and innovative businesses. It's also where Parmilla lives, and I had a chance to visit with her on a few occasions.

Parmilla is my "cousin" - she's originally from Malaysia, but moved to NYC a few years ago. I know her through my Aunt Linda, Uncle Warren, and cousin Leanne (and hubby, Jeff). They hosted Parmilla when she was a foreign exchange student back in the 1990s; they've stayed close, and when she returned to the US a while back, they kept in even closer contact.

Parmilla works for a game company; she designs the user interfaces and graphics for a bunch of popular online games and mobile applications. She knew I was in town and invited me to stop by her apartment for dinner and to catch-up. I took her up on the offer. We started with a view from the top floor of her building - it overlooks the Hudson River; you can see the Empire State Building in the background as well.


Her apartment is really cute, although it's a bit small at just over 425 square feet! Talk about having to be a master of efficiency and layout. I think she's done a good job - take a look for yourself:


She made an excellent dinner that included a combination of Malaysian and Thai (I think?!) dishes. There were tuna cakes, a fish dish, omelette, and a chicken curry dish. Everything was absolutely divine - some of the best asian food I've ever had!


We also got together later in the week for a few drinks in the Hell's Kitchen area. We stopped at a little pub that she was familiar with; a bartender snapped a photo of us, so here we are having a few beverages.


It was great getting to catch-up with Parmilla and to hang out. If you have a mobile device and enjoy playing fun, challenging games, be sure to check out the offerings from her company, PuzzleSocial. They're great games, and they're FREE!


While I was in New York, my boss happened to swing through town while on his way to a Pearl Jam concert in Hartford, Connecticut. He, along with his wife and kids, invited me to join them for dinner at the world famous Peter Luger Steakhouse in Brooklyn. It's been around for 125 years and is quite legendary.

We had an awesome meal; steak for four (a huge Porterhouse), potatoes with onions, house cured bacon, wedge salads, and some quality dessert. It was definitely an experience; I won't post a ton of pictures, but here's one of the steak plate, just after it was delivered to us:


Talk about a good night! I don't think I would've otherwise had a chance to visit that place, let alone get reservations and pony-up the $200 for that steak all on my own. :-)

Before I knew it, my time in New York came to an all-too-soon end. I left on Saturday afternoon, but not before taking one more stroll through some of the awesome neighborhoods and grabbing some pizza from Lombardi's Pizza.

Lombardi's is located in the Nolita neighborhood and is considered to be one of the country's first pizza places. Nolita is a gorgeous neighborhood; here's a little alcove that I stumbled across while walking to Lombardi's:


Lombardi's didn't open until 11:30am on Saturday, so I had some time to kill as I had arrived closer to 11:00am. I did a little shopping and returned to find a huge line, filled with hungry tourists, all hoping to grab some of that legendary pizza. Despite the line, I was immediately seated and promptly ordered a Margherita pizza - classic tomato, basil, and mozzarella.

They only sell whole pies, but I didn't care. I'd had Lombardi's a few years back, and I've been dreaming about it ever since. Here's the pizza, fresh out of their coal-fired brick oven:


Belly full of pizza, back-pack stuffed full with some new clothes, I made my way to the subway, where I rode into Queens, transferred to a bus, and was dropped off at LaGuardia. A good trip, indeed.

End of October: Happy Halloween

A couple of years ago, I went all out for Halloween. Well, the bug hit me to do so again this year, so I set about plans for what I hoped would be an excellent costume.

I'm a huge fan of the (now retired) show, Breaking Bad. It's been a while since I've been so engrossed in a series... it was truly a great story with awesome actors.

So... I decided that I would be Walter White, the primary character. For those not familiar with the show, Walter White is (by day) a high school science teacher who contracted lung cancer and was forced to come up with an alternate method to pay for his treatment. So, he did what any upstanding citizen would do: started cooking crystal meth. Only, his was the best meth ever - 97.8% pure, and highly sought after. The show takes a ton of twists and turns; if you haven't seen it - you need to.

Walt went through several phases in the show. He started as a mild mannered, semi-bumbling, unassuming guy who wore bad clothes and had a dorky aura about him. Later, he turned into a ruthless drug king pin that was sitting on an empire and 80+ million dollars. He shaved his head, grew a goatee, and looked like a hardened criminal. Here he is, in a sort-of "before and after," from the television show:


My plan was simple: attend a halloween party at the MidTown Pub, dressed as "pre-cancer" Walter White, and then halfway through the night, go into the bathroom, shave my head and change into the meth cooking Walter White badass.

Here I am at the pub, dressed as "normal" Walt. Members Only jacket (compliments of my good friend Marty B), tan khakis, plaid shirt, glasses, tan loafers, looking unassuming.


I went to the party with a bunch of friends from work - Elden, Becky, Jen, Wendy, and Tamara. We had a great time. Here we are, all dressed up. That's (left-to-right): Elden, Becky, Jen, and me.


Elden and Becky were the devil couple; their make-up was unreal. Becky did a great job with applying the horns and painting their faces - it looked really great, even up close. Here they are, a little closer:


Jen went as Lara Croft from Tomb Raider. Her costume was super impressive - she made the entire thing from scratch, including the leg holsters, and she looks nearly exactly like Lara Croft. Talk about a great costume - here she is, inside MidTown:


Wendy and Tamara didn't dress-up, but they did take a ton of photos for me/us. So, about 2 hours into the evening, I went into the bathroom, found an open stall, and shaved my head over the toilet. I then changed into my meth cooking uniform, which was completely accurate, even down to the 3M full face mask with methylamine filter cartridges, and emerged as the evil Walter White. I had a Pyrex dish full of blue rock candy, meant to look like Walt's infamous "Crystal Blue Persuasion."

I don't think I need to state the obvious, but I won the costume contest. Here I am with my prize (cash):


Here are a few side-by-side photo comparisons:




A great night, for certain - good friends, good food, and my second MTP costume party victory.

Having a shaved head is odd. It's very cold - I had no idea how much having hair on the 'ole noggin' helps to keep someone warm. Oh well... it's only hair - it'll grow back in a month or so. :-)

...and that's it, folks. Thanks for reading, and let's hope I don't wait another 35 days before the next update!

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steve published on November 2, 2013 4:33 PM.

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