Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Post-Turkey Day Wrap-Up

I love this time of year!

I know I've stated this many times ad-nauseaum here already, but actually the reason this time has nothing to do with the holidays. It has to do with work. Many of you don't know this, but November and December are wind-down months at my office. Most of the busy work is between the months of April and September, with October being a transition month. But especially starting in mid to late November, we get to sit back and take a breather while more mundane, non-critical tasks are completed and reviewed. So in addition to the already festive mood I'm in, I get the added luxury of having it pretty easy at my nine-to-fiver as well.

So, this is my rather roundabout way of saying that the return back to the office after 4 luxurious days off has been a breeze. Nothing too taxing for me to stress over. How was your own transition back into the daily grind?

In addition to an easy, breezy start to the week, I had a rather sweet weekend spent at home finishing up some odds and ends. I did a bit of house cleaning, sure. But more importantly--I finished up two items of import which I shall go into more detail below:

Friday, November 25, 2011

There And Back Again, A Thanksgiving Tale

Woke up early yesterday morning for the long drive. Where we live in New York City is fairly close to the major highways heading north, so driving to visit my aunt and uncle upstate is easy. It's just a matter of navigating the very twisty, narrow roads as you get closer to the mountains and out into the "boonies," where the trees far outnumber the people.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Another Holiday, Another Rental Car . . .

As many of you may already know, parking in NYC is atrocious. Add to that the overcrowding and all the never ending parking rules, and it's practically prohibitive to own a car in this city. But for those of us who sometime find the need to drive where the subways and taxis won't venture, this can provide a bit of a quandary. I've gotten over that particular hump in recent years by resorting to Zipcar. Which works fine, most of the time.

The only time it becomes impossible, though, is on or around major holidays. Like now. This year all the Zipcars in New York are booked solid for tomorrow. My aunt's having Thanksgiving at her house up north near the Mass. border with New York -- a quaint, out of the way place in the woods near Old Chatham. That meant, naturally, that I would be needing to rent a car. Ye gods!

This year I decided to give Enterprise a try for the first time. Usually I go with Avis, even if they are very overpriced. Enterprise is more modestly budgeted, however, which I used to always view with suspicion. But this year I had no choice -- all the other big rental agencies were sold out in the area. Bummer!

The surprise was on me, though, when I showed up today and found the people who work at my local Enterprise agency to be both professional and very accommodating. I had reserved a Nissan Sentra since it was the only class of car still available online, but when I got to the garage all they had for me was a Sonata. And a pretty decrepit looking Sonata at that! WTF?

But the agent lady was very nice. She offered me an upgrade to a Hyundai Santa Fe for no extra charge! I thought about it, realized that I'll be travelling on dirt roads at least for the tail end of the journey, and quickly decided that perhaps having all-wheel-drive at my disposal might just be a good thing.

And I have to say, it's not a bad looking vehicle for a two-day rental:

Of course, I knew finding a parking spot for it in my neighborhood was going to be a nightmare. I tried to get home before rush hour, however, and lucked out big time after finding an empty space big enough for two cars to fit directly across the street from my apartment building. SCORE!

So I'm all set for the holiday now. Tomorrow I will be driving up to my aunt's house with my grandmother, sister, and her boyfriend in tow. It's a 2.5 hr drive on twisting, albeit scenic, two-lane highways, but I'll have good company and music to wile away the time. And, best of all, plenty of interior space high up off the ground, which I actually prefer.

All in all, I think things turned out far better than I had anticipated earlier this week. Hopefully the drive up and back will be non eventful (i.e., no stupid drunk drivers on the road). While I'm gone and away from blogger land, I'd like to take this moment to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. And if you're not from the U.S., then have a fantastic Thursday, Nov. 24th!

Gobble, gobble! :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sample Scene From Unnamed Novel

Although I don't speak about it much here, I've been busy these past couple of months taking a second stab at my practice novel. My earliest readers may recall that I'm writing this so-called "practice" novel based on the old Nintendo video game, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. This game was a huge thing back when I was 14 yrs old. I remember literally saving up PENNIES for its release, and going to the nearby K.B. Toy Store with my younger brother and friends--and a brown bag full of loose change with which to pay for it! That's some dedication there, boy! And although there are better games in the series (Super Castlevania IV and Symphony of the Night, to name two), I felt this was the best game for me to try and novelize, being that it had a bare-bones plot and is a prequel to the very first game which came out in 1987.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Never Late

Another thing some of you might not already know about me, although it's possible I've blogged about this before:

I'm a stickler for punctuality!

I've been told that this is a very Virgoan thing, although I don't hold much stock in astrological signs. But, yes, you can call it another one of my pseudo super powers. With rare exception, I am almost never late. I'm also almost never obscenely early. I tend to arrive at pre-arranged engagements precisely on the dot. I guess I'm a lot like Gandalf when he remarks:

"A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to!"

Except I think he meant this as someone who lives outside the rules, creating his own time as it were. I, on the other hand, am always conscious of the clock. You can almost call it an OCD, really. But I don't. I simply find it disrespectful to never show up on time. It's bad enough to do it for important events like interviews, meetings, etc., but I extended this rule to casual social gatherings as well. When my friends and I decide to meet, I'm always the one who arrives precisely at the time specified. Which also means I'm usually the one waiting for everyone else to show up. A friend of mine recently shared this funny photo on Facebook:

See, this is the very antithesis of me. I actually despise this cavalier attitude toward time that so many people seem to share. Sometimes I want to yell: GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER! It's annoying as hell to agree on a time only to end up waiting 30 minutes for the other party to show up. Grrrrrr! And in the workforce, this is a huge no-no. Nothing screams unprofessional more than showing up late on a consistent basis.

But yeah, I take it to the extreme sometimes. I know I have a problem. Case in point: If I show up at a place, say, 15 minutes early, I'll go somewhere else until it's almost time and then suddenly appear out of the blue. Because, see, arriving too early is almost as bad as arriving too late to me. This is more so true when it comes to professional meetings. I almost never apply the "too early" rule to social gatherings. I guess this is a holdover from my days of constantly going to job interviews. As someone who now conducts hiring sessions himself, I'm well aware that arriving too early at an interview is not always seen in the best light.

Anyway, how about you? Are you as much a stickler for time as I am? Or are you selfish and march to the ticking of your own effed-up clock? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Boys To Men

No, relax. This one won't be about that 90s R&B group.

This is about the time a simple tv ad for cola made me sit up and take notice of a particular lady who really needs no introduction if you were a little boy growing up in the late 80s/early 90s. This is the day I went from being a boy to a red-blooded, all-American male . . . and all the raging hormones that went with that. For this is the day I first set eyes on one Cindy Crawford.

You remember the ad, I'm sure. It's the infamous tv spot from Pepsi which played during one momentous Super Bowl back in the early 90s. It has that song playing in the background -- Doris Troy's 1963 hit "Just One Look." It has a fire red Lamborghini, a car maker I would fall in love with. And it stars two precocious youths who just crack me up each time I watch this commercial. I swear, the look on their faces is just priceless!

What, you want to share this trip down memory lane with me? Oh, all right. You know how I can't resist a good video plug here on this blog. So, without further ado . . . here is your blast from the past. Where were you when this first aired?

"It's beauuuuuutiful!"

LOL! Yup, she sure is, kid. She sure is! God, I think I actually blushed watching her down that can like that. HOT DAMN!

Although I have to laugh at those ridiculous 90s shorts. It's takes a truly gorgeous woman to make those ugly things sexy, boy!

Sometime a decade later--perhaps during the 2002 Academy Awards, if I'm remembering correctly--Pepsi aired a new commercial starring Ms. Crawford. Call it an "update" of the first commercial, if you will. Except, this time showing us the new Diet Pepsi. I think she's still got it, don't you? And, look! She's got lines to speak this time, too! My how the times have changed.

This commercial, of course, is nowhere as good as the first. But, then, I don't think it was trying to be. More like an homage to a classic, if anything. And I've since fallen out of my crush for Cindy and moved on to others . . . but yet I can't deny the things that original ad made me feel back when I was a boy on the verge of becoming a man.

Commercials can be great like that sometime, don't you think? Especially the really good ones. Those capture a specific moment in time that, no matter how far into the future you watch them again, always remind you of what you were doing and feeling when you saw them for the very first time.

Now if you excuse me . . . I have a sudden and mighty need for an ice cold can of Pepsi!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Building Your Own PC

Something you might not know about me:

Over a decade ago, before I started employment at the legal & finance publisher I work for today, I used to be an editorial assistant on 3 national tech magazines: the now defunct Computer Buyer's Guide and PC Upgrade magazines, as well as their sister publication, Laptop Magazine, which still enjoys success today. I was just out of college at the time and, up until that point, had only Mac experience with personal computing. But I learned a lot working on these publications, including the rudiments of building my own Windows-based PC.

Thing is, I've never actually done the deed before. Not on my own dime and in my own space. Also, it's been so many years since I've thought about doing so that the technology has gone up and changed itself in myriad and exciting ways since. To be sure, at its heart building a PC is still the same. You still need the basic components: motherboard (pictured above), CPU, RAM, GPU, hard drive, power supply, heat sink fan, and chassis. Except, of course, nowadays everything is more robust, faster, and way sexier than back in 1999!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Don't Be That Person -- Facebook Edition

Okay, this is my post where I kvetch about all the annoying things you do on Facebook that you probably don't realize are annoying to others, and which you probably shouldn't do. And by "you" I don't mean you, the lovely people who follow this blog. Because you are all cool and not annoying like that.

No, this is a list of Top 10 "DON'Ts" for all those other people on Facebook who annoy the hell out of me. If you happen to be reading this and recognize some of your own shortcomings, don't worry. I've been known to flub a bit on a few of these points as well. This is not meant to be taken THAT seriously, now.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Attack Of The 80s Movies!!!

Well, apparently I was having a Very Brady 80s weekend or something, because I suddenly got all nostalgic and decided to raid the ol' DVD library to re-watch some timeless classics.

I watched American Ninja II, Karate Kid II, Rocky II, and The Last Dragon.

Sensing a theme here?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The I Inside

What are you?


The dreaded question. Folks, I can't tell you the number of times I've heard this in my lifetime. Everywhere I go this seems to be the question of utmost fascination when people come across my path:

"You know, I've always wondered: what are you?"

Sounds pretty rude, doesn't it? But this is not an embellishment -- this IS the way it's constantly worded. Sometimes the person doing the inquiring will precede it with a: "I don't mean to be rude, but . . ." And we all know what the "but" means in these statements. The funny thing is, I actually don't get offended by this. Honestly I don't.

Panama Trip - Day 1: Here There Be Balboas!

In late May, 2017 I embarked on a trip of a lifetime. A trip to Panama's steamy tropical province, Bocas del Toro. Now, before 2017 ...