Ask me what the secret to comedy is...

Back in the ROC after 9 days in the Adirondacks. A pile of fun was had by all, as we tore Nature a new one, Robinson Crusoe-style. Early in the trip, I was part of a team that tore down a pair of beaver dams that were flooding local streams. The first one was small, and the release was less than spectacular for the amount of work invested. The second dam was much larger, and while it took a great deal more effort, destroying it was a blast. I stood in the torrent we released to work on deepening the channel through the dam, and the force of the water (and debris) rushing past was enough to turn my cargo pants into hulk shorts. A few days later, I used a DR mower to clear a thicket of trees for a telescope platform, which was surprisingly enjoyable. I wielded the DR sans work gloves for the first half an hour, and earned some wicked blisters for my shortsightedness. After grabbing a pair of very nice Husqvarna chainsaw gloves, I finished off all but the largest trees in the thicket. The DR turned whole groups of smaller trees into pulp with incredible ease; if a strand of trees was too dense to drive over, I could pop a wheelie and begin slicing through them horizontally (think Dead Alive, but with trees instead of zombies). I was also worked on creating a diving platform; Andy cut down some trees, we stripped them of limbs and bark, dragged them into position, and lashed them together. After a day of such work, some of which was admittedly dangerous, I managed to get my hand crushed between two rocks while working on the benign job of installing a dock at another camp. X-Rays yesterday came back negative, so it looks like heat packs and Ibuprofen will be enough to get me back to full use of the hand in short order. In between bouts of mild to moderate personal injury, we ate like kings, consumed beer in abundance, and generally amused the hell out of ourselves. The trip has crystallized two things for me: 1) I want a house with a hot tub, 2) I want a DS-Lite. The former will have to wait, but the latter will probably get taken care of tonight.


I'll be up in Jersey this weekend sunning and funning with Grahams et al, and I might pay my Grandfather a visit - he fell at his home and is doing some rehab (learning how to walk with a walker, etc).

Addendum: I feel obliged to mention that while I've never been to an air show, and as of now have no intention to attend one, when I was sitting on Potter's dock and two A-10 Warthogs came in low (and relatively slow) over the lake, passing directly overhead before crossing Brandreth Lake and banking steeply - I was awestruck. Those things are all kinds of cool.

Also, any suggestions on what DS games qualify as must-owns?

Every weekend should feature fireworks

On my last day in MD, Patrick and I hit up the Baltimore Aquarium. We had a family membership when we lived in "Bal'mer" (82-86), and used to go often. They've added an entire building since the last time I was there; I enjoyed it greatly, despite not being able to find the three-toed sloth in the rain forest exhibit. After a bit of nostalgia (and kids screaming "Nemo!" at tank with the clown fish), Pat dropped me off at the airport. I had plenty of time to catch up on my reading while thunderstorms delayed, then canceled my first flight, and then delayed my alternate flight on another carrier. I picked up about 10 Terry Pratchett novels from Pat which I had not yet read, and I've managed to read about one a day - I enjoy his writing more than Douglas Adams' - but now I'm out of leisure reading. I've still got a bunch of Philosophy reading I've been meaning to catch up on, and that will have to suffice for now.

Last weekend was Sarah and Randy's wedding in Ohio. In my mind's eye, Ohio was largely featureless, and what features it did have didn't speak well for it: the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame1 and Drew Carey, both of which reside in what appeared to be Ohio's only identifiable city, Cleavland. It turns out that rural and suburban Ohio reminds me a lot of Maine - "quaint" is the adjective that come to mind - and is a rather nice place to get briefly lost on a weekend drive while making a point of not getting directions. The wedding was short and sweet (~30 minutes). After spending a few hours at the pool drinking Highlife it was time for the reception, which was at a country club a few minutes away for the hotel. As we drove up the road to the country club, we passed through an area being used as a fairgrounds. I noticed a sign that said the Willoughby Fair was concluding that day, and a little farther down the road I saw a fireworks display being assembled. Joe flew to Ohio, and knew a number to call to find out when the fireworks were scheduled (I guess you wouldn't want to fly through them). We told Sarah, and she and Randy stepped outside a little after sunset to have the wedding photographer take some shots as the fireworks went off. Fireworks are always awesome, having fireworks at your wedding is even cooler than regular fireworks - I hope the photos come out.

I'm just now settling in to my four-day weekend.

1 - The Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame is a damn silly oxymoron: Rock is supposed to be both cool and non-conformist, requiring a lame-ass museum to codify which artists qualify as the best of the genre misses the point

(no subject)

The Stangers showed up brunch-ish with two loafs of bread, which I turned into french toast. We then attended the Air & Space Museum, and it was awesome. If you're in the area, you should definitely make a point to check it out. We ate dinner at Paulie Moto's (a place associated w/ Iron Chef Morimoto in a mall in Tyson's Corner), it was delicious and very affordable. Tomorrow we'll be at Six Flags 15 minutes before the gates open (9:45), then we'll ride roller coasters until we're good and sunburned, at which point we'll probably look for some shade and a few cool drinks.

In Maryland

I'm taking a nap on Pat and Risa's couch right now. Later tonight (8:15-ish) looks like hanging out at oompa's place with whatever CSHers I can manage to get a hold of. Monday, I'll ride rollercoasters until it's time to fly back to ROC; I might also end up at a theme park earlier in the weekend, which is alright by me. Sometime this weekend I need to get Pat to a pro shop to buy him a bowling ball; which means we also need to go bowling. No weekend with both bowling and rollercoasters could possibly be a bad one.

didya miss me?

I realized the other day that I'd neglected to update this journal for far too long. A whole lot happened in the interim, and most of it was fun, but don't expect any details other than the few that managed to stick in my brain. Which basically means that all you get is details on travel and moving.

I spent the weekend of my birthday hanging out in Boston. I drove there, and got lost immediately, of course. I eventually arrived in Cambridge and was greeted warmly; Matt told me he had found a great recipe for a pound cake, which he was in the middle of baking. Being a smart-ass, I replied along these lines: "Oh yeah, I know that recipe too: 'A pound of flour, a pound of sugar, a pound of butter, a pound of eggs...'" I took his odd expression to mean he was confused, as if he didn't get my (admittedly poor) joke. But something far worse was afoot - Matt had slipped the chains of sanity and had allowed himself to become convinced that a recipe for pound cake should contain nowhere near a pound of anything. In between calling all right-thinking chefs "barbarians" and other fits of apoplexy, Matt produced what I coined an "eight-ounce cake" (the name stuck), which was very much like an angel-food cake. It tasted good, but if you promise me "pound cake", I expect a confection with heft, milquetoast. The rest of the weekend was exemplary, the food and the company were both well worth the trip.

I have just recently moved - upstairs. The landlord and his wife were expecting (I assume their child has now been born), so they moved out of the (much nicer) upstairs apartment, and we moved in. Three nursing students are in the process of moving into our old apartment, and they're taking their time. I think only one of them actually lives here currently, and I never see any of them. No housemate problems yet, but one of the girls left the house unlocked today - I hope it's just a solitary incident.

I spent a glorious Memorial Day in Maine, hanging out with the 'rents, Pat, and Marisa. I did a bunch of cooking to bond with Mom, and Pop got to lend me some technical advice as I tried out his D70 (which is a lot of fun to use). I flew, and the experience is almost enough to have me swear off driving on trips longer than 400 miles. It's an enormous convenience; I've done the round-trip drive to Maine enough times that I could do it in my sleep, but less time wasted on travel and more time spent on vacation is worth the cost of a plane ticket.

On that note, I'll be flying into BWI 6/16/06 (a Friday) around noon to spend the weekend with my brother and the DC crew celebrating his belated birthday. He turns 24 on the 10th, but he's being dragged to a wedding that weekend. Plans for this trip include crabs steamed in beer with Bay Spice, going bowling with Pat, and a trip to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (where the Air & Space Museum keeps all the cool stuff they can't fit in the main building). Everything else is up in the air, and I'll be in town until Monday night (the 19th), so drop me a line if you're in the area.

Additional vacation notes: I've taken the week of July 10th off from work to go to Potter's camp in the Adirondacks. No exact dates yet on when I'll depart or return, but that's only because Potter himself doesn't know when he'll be at the camp.

That's all for now. Hopefully you'll hear from me again this calendar year.

December - A Summary

Got out of work at noon today, which marked the start of a 3.5 day weekend, I figured I should do the monthly LJ update thing. Spent a weekend in DC with Pat and the gang earlier this month, and loved it. Among other adventures, I ate dinner at an excellent Irish pub, went bowling at an Army base, and defeated my brother at Super Street Fighter II for what is likely the first time in a decade. Also, it was T-Shirt weather outside. Work is good, and I'm staying in Rochester for at least another year, but DC-MD-VA is right at the top of the list for places I wish I was living. Christmas was great: all of my gift-giving machinations came to fruition smoothly. Dad's getting a lot of use out of the D70s, and has devoured the manuals for it and moved on to combing the internet for tips etc. Mom loves the stove, it was a piece of cake to install, and getting rid of the old stove was a walk in the park. Pat really likes his leatherman, and so do I; I need to lose my Wave so I can justify getting one for myself. I picked up a food processor, the best album ever, and a mystery gift - still in the mail - that I think is another of the Shun Classic line (to accompany my Santoku). The KitchenAid food proc is wonderfully useful - I used it to churn out two batches of baklava in record time. Had my first physical in years and, as far as my bloodwork is concerned, I am the picture of health. I owe it all to clean living. Tonight, dinner at the Toad. Tomorrow (NYE), something involving booze, TBD.

A bloodless soup

Monthly recap: I got back from spending Thanksgiving in Maine Sunday night. I made the trip north in what's become my average time, 8.5 hours driveway to driveway. Heading out after work on Tuesday it was snowing in Rochester and raining in Norway, so I planned on slushy/sleety driving somewhere along the way. Instead, I had clear (albeit dark) skies except for 20 minutes of rain in eastern NY. Coming back to Rochester, I ran into a 20 mph traffic jam in western MA, but somehow made record time - just under 8 hours for the entire trip. I didn't get the impression that there was that much less traffic overall on the return trip, but I must have spent a lot more time at 77-78 (my preferred "not quite fast enough to warrant a ticket" speed) than I usually manage.

At my folks place I managed to do a bit of cooking, which was nice, since I haven't been doing much of it at home in Rochester. I was in charge of the turkey, and while it wasn't brined, it came out nice and juicy. I made gravy from scratch and was really pleased with the results. With the gravy-making experience I gleaned from turkey day, I think I'll try to do a sausage gravy and biscuits breakfast for Pat and Marisa this weekend.

Ice is starting to cover the places on the lake with less current, which means the folks were past due for getting the dock out of the water. Pops and I dragged it ashore; Pat and I will probably put it on top of the ice during X-mas, which is easier than dragging it into the water in mud season.

Two weeks ago I was feeling a little under the weather, so I decided to have a bowl of chicken soup for dinner. I unwrapped the six-pack of progresso we bought at BJ's the day before, and was surprised to find that the cans inside were pop-tops. The top of the can instructed me to pull up slowly on the ring, and I did as directed. Pulling gently with my index finger, I opened the can half-way until the lid stuck a little. I then pulled considerably harder and the lid came free of the can, leaving an inch-long gash along the inside of my ring finger. I've always thought that I had poor circulation in my extremities, as my fingers and toes get cold quickly and stay that way, while the rest of me is pretty resilient to cold. This theory has been thrown into serious doubt, as it is evident that my extremities are, in fact, chock-full of blood. I managed to keep all of the red stuff out of my dinner, and some gauze and medtape stopped the bleeding. The wound would have healed cleaner if I had cut myself with a knife, but the dull edge of the lid tore the flesh rather than slicing through it. The deepest part of the cut didn't really close up on its own, I had to hold the edges together with super glue. Aside from making me feel just about as stupid as Dubya (nearly undone by a pretzel), this whole incident wouldn't really be worth mentioning except that it's left my finger a little girthier where the cut was deepest - just before the first knuckle - and this is a finger I need for bowling.

I went bowling tonight for the first time since cutting my finger, and managed to be pretty consistent: 160, 162, 155, 167. Not my best stuff, but consistency has to come before improvement, right? My ring finger didn't fit all the way into the grip, but I was able to jam it most of the way in. I also got reproducable results, which is what really matters. I might change the grip out for a wider one if the swelling hasn't gone down in a few weeks, but it's not a big problem.

I'll be in DC starting this Friday, circa 5:30pm, and I'll be leaving sometime late Sunday. I'll be at the Caps game Saturday night with a whole pile of other CSH alums, and Saturday morning is going to be tourist-y stuff with Pat and Marisa (the Air & Space addition where they keep the big stuff, Natural History, the new WWII memorial, etc.). I'm not sure what Saturday evening and Sunday will be spent doing, but I'm sure it will be fun. Drop me a line if you're in town and down for shenanigans (I finally fixed my voicemail, so I can actually return your calls!).

Ithacan Odyssey: Hooray for everything!

This past weekend was the best I've had in quite a while. I spent it in Dryden (Ithaca), at Sean and Kelly's annual halloween party. We cut down some trees, installed a seriously over-engineered wireless connection to "teh intarwebs", and partook of much fine food and beverage. After a visit to a (surprisingly small) specialty meat store, I enjoyed some ostrich, elk, and buffalo along with some salmon and shrimp dishes. Everything was great, but Adam's pan-seared elk and Tourist's salmon & shrimp shanghai noodles stand out as the best of the weekend. Ln2 was obtained, and Josh made ice cream from fresh strawberries. The icecream was incredible, better than Potter's. I brought a mixed six-pack of Ur Weisse and Val Dieu, and used these wares to try to bring Matt Girard into the larger world of beer consumption (which was at least a partial success). I also brought a growler of CB's Hazel Nut Brown (which survived for me to enjoy at home, thanks to the cornucopia of beverage choices we had on hand at the party), as well as a bottle of wine. On a trip to a local liquor store (for cooking ingredients, we had plenty to drink), Knapp wines were being offered for tasting. I was pleased to see Prizm on display; it was the only wine from the Fingerlakes Wine Festival this summer that I haven't been able to find in Rochester. I bought a bottle (it was great with the elk dish), and left it at the house; I'm unsure if it got finished. The weather all weekend was mostly clear and crisp, which was a relief after wunderground.com warned me I might be in for some snow. While cutting down the trees, we didn't need to endure anything worse than light drizzle, the moisture from which quickly baked off in the sun; by the time we finished clearing the brush, I had stripped down to a t-shirt. The weather was nicest for the drive home on Sunday - I turned off the radio and drove with the windows down as soon as I was off the highway.

Last Sunday morning I turned in 6 games of bowling, averaged around 150, and felt good about improvements I'd made to my consistency. I then bowled another 3 games that night, and managed to give myself a large blister on my thumb and slightly sprain my wrist. After a week-long hiatus, I resumed bowling last night and bowled my first 500 series (166, 180, 160). This is very encouraging, as I feel like I'm finally achieving some consistency, and am able to string some strikes together. After bowling, I played poker on floor, where I split the pot with Fotios around 2am.

Had a follow-up appointment today with my surgeon. The numbness and scaring are to be expected and may be permanent, and while the condition of my leg is sub-optimal, it wins the lesser-of-two-evils contest with the pain and limited mobility of the bone tumor by a country mile. My health insurance is covering all but $80.13 of the surgery costs; I'm happy to be working for a small company with good health insurance.

Basically, everything's looking up, and I'm pretty darn pleased with my situation.

Today I didn't even have to use my AK

I have to say it was a good day. At work, I completed a project that we had thought might take the better part of a week in less than a day. I left work for dinner at the Highland Park Diner, one of my favorite places to eat in Rochester. Adding flavored syrup to a Coke is a diner staple, but for some reason I'd never tried any such beverage. Last night I felt like a cream soda with my Can-Am Burger, but since it wasn't on the menu I ordered a vanilla Coke instead. It was really, really good. For desert I had a slice of apple-cranberry-walnut pie, which was delicious; I may try to emulate it, but I'd need to buy a few pie pans first.

If you spend ~$8.50 on dinner at Highland Park, you can get a free ticket to the Cinema theater across the street, and Tom and I used our tickets to take in a double feature, Broken Flowers and Four Brothers. I was expecting the Cinema to be dirtier; not that the place is clean, but it feels more dusty than dirty, like all the faded things from your grandparents' attic that have been cleaned off for a yard sale. It looks like the place was built in the late 60's (guess based on color scheme and speaker tech), and parts have been torn out (like the floor and chairs), with the important stuff (chairs) replaced by more modern components. It appears that there is a cat living in the theater. I saw it mewing for some affection and popcorn in the row in front of me before Broken Flowers started, and I wondered who would bring a cat to a theater. Later the cat lost interest in the folks in front of me, and set out for greener pastures, mewing for other movie patrons. When the lights came on, I recognized the people in front of me, I had seen them walk into the theater before me, and they had not brought the cat with them.

Broken Flowers was good. I had read a review about it that was pretty negative about some plot points not leading anywhere, and it's now clear that the reviewer missed a lot. I had no expectations for Four Brothers, which closed out the double feature. It was awesome. It's a good action flick, but it's also really funny. Least-pronounceable segue ever: Chiwetel Ejiofor. He's the villain in Four Brothers, as well as in Serenity, which opens today. I think the CSH crew is planning on seeing it at 10pm tonight, and I'll definitely attend.

I left the crutches at home today, and I'm b-boy limpin' all over the place. I need to be able to walk (and not require vicodin) in order to attend (and enjoy) the Autumn Festival of Ales on Saturday. Sunday I think I'll see about getting my ball drilled and trying to bowl while using both feet. The swelling in my right foot is odd, viscous. I can push on my foot and it will leave a depression that slowly fills itself in. I've got a post-surgery appointment Monday, where I'll get a professional assessment of my healing progress, and the results of the biopsy.

(no subject)

To avoid drowsiness, went all day yesterday with only a couple aspirin to tide me over. Pain was very manageable, and I got my work done in a timely fashion. I cut my cast off last night, at the 5-day mark after surgery. The injury to my leg is interesting: the scar (about 4 inches long) is not stitched at the surface, but instead the wound has been closed beneath the skin with stitches that will dissolve and be absorbed by my body, and the outer skin is glued together; the scar isn't strictly linear (as I assume the incision that made the scar was), but sort of meanders right and left a little as it goes up my leg; the incision and the tissue directly beneath it hurt less than the surrounding area (which to me is counter-intuitive, as the muscles underneath should have suffered the most abuse in order to expose the tumor); the muscle that gives me the most trouble when I flex my foot is about two and a half inches above the area of the incision; bruising and swelling are worst around my ankle. I'm just using a pressure bandage and some gauze on the leg now, and have come to appreciate how much discomfort the cast spared me. I'm back on the vicodin, and although it hasn't made me drowsy, it hasn't taken care of the pain, either.

My boss is working from home today. He and I were planning on attending an RIT lecture (at 4pm) on imaging today; I'm not sure if I'll still go if he's staying home - I may keep working here until it's time to go to Quimby's.

I'll be attending the lecture, and then heading out to Quimby's from there. If any CSHers need a ride to Quimby's, drop me a line or catch me on the academic side (lecture's in Bldg 76 - room 1275).