Joel, yet I can't turn away."
Tuesday, August 26th 2003
Did I mention that the cat tried to eat my foot Saturday night? Uh, yeah, she did. She sleeps on my bed, but I have a bad tendency to swing my feet around while I sleep. For some reason, it always seems to be in her proximity. Yet, she still hangs around me. Anyway, I must have really pissed her off Saturday night, because I woke up early Sunday morning in pain to see that cat wrapped around my right foot. So, I kick her off, and check out my foot. It's healing slowly, but you can still see the gash. When I came back later on Sunday, I went to see Missy, and she apparently forgave me (if cats could do that) for pummelling her with my feet. I know, because she was purring when I petted her. Awww.
So I took off today to get some wedding planning done. I've also included a picture of my new backpack, which I'm pretty thrilled about. Time to get some wedding planning done.
Monday, August 25th 2003
Wait a cotton-pickin' minute. I went online at work, and saw that I haven't touched my site in a week. A week! How busy can I be? I guess I have been. I guess the site hasn't come to mind at all. Ah well, here we go with the highlights.
Most of last week
Last week, we had our first meeting with our Marriott event planner Christine, and she's pretty nice. We're hoping to have our taste-testing in a week or so. Num and I have started doubling up our ballroom dancing lessons since the wedding is getting closer. I still haven't mailed the contract to the DJ yet, and I haven't settled on a limo service yet. Argh!
Mostly uneventful, but I had dinner with the Davids rather spontaneously at Toros, an excellent Turkish restaurant in Clifton.
Really busy. In the morning, I drove to NYC at 9am to meet the kids from church to continue our NYC Church Adventure Tour from last year (check out last year's on page 3.) I had hoped to get a few sites in before I had to leave at noon, but the kids were late, and I hung out with Tom who was the only person to show up on time.
Since we had so much time to wait, we went to Modell's on 42nd Street, and I got a new $24.99 Jansport backpack and two of those cool lawn folding chairs that come in a their own backpack for $7.99 each. Pretty good deal. Since I had the car, it wasn't a problem to carry it all. I just walked back, and dumped it all in the car trunk. What else is nice? I was surprised how much stree parking was available that morning. Wow, what a nice feeling.
Finally, the kids show up at 11:30am, two hours late. Now, here's a funny story. Remember the Yankees game I went to on August 7th? Well, waiting at Penn station for my train that day, this fellow comes up to me and says,
"I'm trying to get to Pennsylvania, and I don't have enough money for the train ticket. All I need is $9 more."
I felt bad, and wondered if he was legit, but I could spare $5. I liked his response.
"But I need $9." Right, but that's all I could afford. He wanders off. I don't even remember if he even thanked me. Hmmm
Anyway, back to this past Saturday morning in Grand Central. The church kids arrive at 11:30am, and we head to the subways. A man stops me, and says,
"I'm trying to get to Dover [and I know this is near Brewster in Putnam County NY], and I don't have enough money."
As he starts talking to me, I realize that this is the SAME guy from Penn station two weeks ago. As I looked astounded, I said to him,
"Hey, I gave you money 2 weeks ago @ Penn station when you were `stuck', and trying to get home to Pennsylvania!"
His response? "Uh, yeah, I got home, but now I'm stuck here."
Right. I walked away, disgusted. Anyway, I saw one church on 5th Ave and 10th, and then I took the subway back to get my car. I'm still glad I drove to the city for the church trip, even though I only got to see one church. I still got some very good stuff at Modell's on sale, and I finally did find out if that guy asking me for money had scammed me or not. If I wasn't so shocked, I would've asked for my money back.
Saturday afternoon (keeps going!)
In the afternoon, Num and I had to get ready for Plexy and Lesh's annual BBQ party. I helped Num prepare her famous Potato Salad Ole! I did a pretty good job dicing the potatos, cilantro, scallions, and other assorted ingredients. Made it to their house, and there was a LOT of food. I don't think I've seen so much in one place. Played some games at the nearby park, and we left around 10:30pm. I've started to put pictures up in the Friends gallery. Look as I add to it through tomorrow. There's too much to add.
Saturday night (Partying in the city with Neil & Megha)
At night, we got all spiffy, and drove to the city for a couple of parties. One was at K Lounge for Megha's birthday party, and the other was at Coda, but we couldn't find Roseann at Coda, so maybe they left. Ah well, here are some pictures from K Lounge.
Sunday (almost done)
Remember reading that I tried cycling from Glen Ridge to Wood-Ridge two weeks ago on a Friday? Well, I took my NJ map with me this time, two water bottles, and I hit the road. And? I did it! I found the small sidestreet, and saw a small bridge across the Passaic river, and I was in Wallington. It took me an hour, and one majorly steep hill, but I was eventually resting at my fiance's parents' house on the front steps. Finally, I did it. I rested 15 minutes, and then I rode all the way back. I'm so proud of myself. Okay, it's a 20 minute drive by car, but it's harder on a bike. Let's see you do it.
Enough updating. Here's a funny thing I saw on tv recently. Need some rump-shakin' music? Can't get your groove on? Obviously, you need better music. Get Booty Time from Musicspace! I like the selection: "Me So Horny", "Tootsee Roll", "Your Body's Callin'", and more classics. Guess what I'm getting my mom next Christmas?
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is being released tomorrow on VHS and DVD. I'd buy it, but I know the Extended Edition is coming out in November with over 40 minutes of deleted scenes being added in. Hey, no doubt in my mind that I should wait until then. In related news, New Line Cinema is re-releasing Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers in theaters (in the extended versions) just before The Return of the King debuts. How awesome is that? Should I? Shouldn't I? Is that just too much Tolkien in a row?
Bachelor party starts in 3 days, and I still don't have anyone to watch Missy while I'm gone. What to do?
Alright, that's enough. I'll put pictures of my new purchases tomorrow night, plus picture comments/descriptions later. This is enough info for you to digest for a while. Don't forget to chew. Mastication is the finest form of flattery.
Monday, August 18th 2003
I saw a crime scene today. I was walking to work at 9am today, and I saw all these people milling around on Broadway and 30th, including police. Wondering what's going on, I see a pool of blood cordoned off. When I get home, wnbc.com has a news report that a Con Ed construction was killed execution style right there on the street. I wonder if the killer had been planning this, or was it another crazy person?
Bought some new stuff recently. For one, I'm still on this home decorating bender, and I recently bought a nice document frame for my Pace University diploma. I also want to get one for my CISA certificate. To understand my cat, I also picked up two books by Pam Johnson-Bennett, supposedly an expert in feline behavior. You see, I want a well-adjusted, happy cat.
Also, I want to keep my future living furniture in good condition and urine-free. Happy cats shouldn't do that.
Lastly, I lent a certain Mr. Cherickel my U2: Best of 1980-1990, which he misplaced. I have now replaced it. Of course, it was money well-spent. Mr. Cherickel, you still turn me on.
I also had some time last night to see Osmosis Jones on HBO yesterday. Not bad. Starred Chris Rock.
Saturday, August 16th 2003
I'm alive! I'm alive! I survived THE Blackout of 2003. I know the news channels must be glad to have a new big topic to keep them occupied. More on how I survived later. Right now, I'm sweltering in my apartment (with the AC on high) on a lazy Saturday afternoon. I'm supposed to be studying for the CIA exam, but I'll get to that shortly. I've got some updating to do while I eat my Weaver honey-battered chicken nuggets (oh so good) and fries. See, that's a real man's lazy Saturday afternoon lunch. Let's go chronological for the week.
I spent the first half of the week in Washington, attending a training course called Getting What You Want: Interviewing for Results, offered by the IIA. Before I could leave, I promised Num that I would start the decorating process before she actually moves in. So, I installed two ledges/shelves she had but never used, and I put up one of two pictures that I never got around to hanging up since moving here last October. So sad. Anyway, they're up now. Here's the ledge/shelf in the bedroom. Yes, Missy got to it already. The other is in the hallway outside the bedroom, and the picture is hanging up in the hallway also. Before I could put them up, I had to get studs and a level from Home Depot. Some mistakes (and errant holes) were made, but they're all covered by the shelves. It feels good to be industrious.
Yes, the redecoration of the Ipe home continues. I also did some minor (yet necessary) cleaning up. Such as vacuuming. You know when you need to vacuum? When everywhere you walk, something is poking your feet. Argh. I deodorized the carpet and vacuumed, and boy, what a difference. Later this week, I may even buy some living furniture. Exciting!
Sunday (A busy travel day)
Went to church and visited my parents. Num dropped me off at Newark Airport, where I met up with Abby and Olivia. We caught a quick dinner at this diner in the concourse, and we had an uneventful flight. I did spend the 70 minute flight chatting with Olivia.
Another example of my crushed dreams to sleep like a normal person, I stayed up until 3:30am watching Memento on the Starz channel in my hotel room. First time watching, and it was pretty interesting, but Carrie-Anne Moss' character was pretty surprising. Also, the ending completely threw me off. Well, at least I got to see it. I still had to ask people the next day what exactly happened.
Went to our first day of training, and it was pretty good. We had 6 of us from New York Life, and that made us the biggest group. Most others were from Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and other scattered places. Overall, a pretty good and useful day. In the evening, Jorge and I hit the gym to work out, cleaned up, and we all went out to dinner at McCormick & Schmick's on K Street. We got our own booth. Here we are, enjoying some amazing food in our booth. Jorge is shy and hiding behind Diana, but he's wearing orange in the top right corner. For appetizers alone, we had fried pita and cheese/artichoke dip (wow!), and calamari with THREE different dipping sauces (one was a sweet horseradish that was pretty dope.) I had a filet mignon, but I tried some of Olivia's 2 lbs. lobster, and it was pretty good. I don't even like lobster.
Afterwards, we went to Adam's Morgan via Metro, walking, and a cab (we didn't do it very efficiently) to hang out, and Num's high school friend Barb was in town, so I wanted to meet up with her. We already know each other, and have hung out in the past. Barb's friend was performing at Felix's Spy Lounge, so that's why she was there. Turns out, his band is called "The Cremepuffs" and is a kinda Depeche Mode / New Order electronica style of music. Why were they called "The Cremepuffs"?" Anyway, after that, we hit the 3-level Madam's Organ blues bar. Finally got home around midnight.
More training. In the evening, I went out with the ladies for some sightseeing in the area. There's just so much to see that I really want to come back for a 3 day weekend to explore. I haven't really seen much all the times I've been to the Capitol. We checked out the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam War Veteran's Memorial.
After sightseeing, we took a cab to Georgetown to meet up with George, and we went to dinner at Filomena Ristorante for some cost-effective Italian (since we spent a lot the previous dinner.) I had lasagna, since I can't make that at home (too advanced!) Afterwards, we walked along the harbor, then took the Metro to Adam's Morgan to meet up with Olivia's friend Michele and her boyfriend. We ended up hanging out at this Irish pub. I played my first game of darts here, and I beat Abby. Yep, that's right, I beat a girl!
Wednesday (Travel Day)
Wednesday was uneventful as we finished up training by 11:30am, finished packing, and we took cabs to Ronald Reagan National Airport. Abby, Olivia, and I were on the same flight again, and got a quick lunch at the airport California Pizza Kitchen (mmmm, BBQ Chicken Pizza.) I read the entire flight, and Num picked me up. As usual, Missy didn't care that I had left. Stupid cat.
Damn, it started like a normal day. I had one important meeting in the morning, and it was pretty quiet. Around 4:15pm, we lost the lights. That happens every blue moon. However, I lost my network connection too, which shouldn't have happened, since we have backup generators and UPS batteries downstairs. I know, because I did a datacenter audit earlier this year, and backup/recovery was part of the audit scope. That was my first hunch something wasn't kosher.
We hung out, saw the next building over didn't have power either, and we waited for instructions. Announcements came on, and told us to hang out on our floors. We spoke to various people on the phone, and we heard reports that Queens lost power, Long Island, and even New Jersey. Uh-oh. An announcement came on again to evacuate via the stairs. Big uh-oh.
We got downstairs, and they told us to leave the lobby. Get outside, and you never SAW so many people on the sidewalk. I think the entire city population was walking outside at this point. We hung around, trying to figure out what to do. As we heard from people, this was a city-wide brownout, no trains, no buses, no subways, no PATH. Stranded in the city, with no way to get out. Maybe the ferries? Yeah, you and everybody else. Turned out, the lines for the ferries were over a mile long. Our cell phones weren't working either. Well, Nextel phones apparently worked.
Well, we hung out in the area, got some pizza (thank goodness the gas ovens were working!), and made phone calls back inside on the 2nd floor traders floor. We then heard the cafeteria was open, distributing drinks and fruit. We all headed downstairs, and got water and fruit. We spent the next 8 hours hanging out in the cafeteria, while the lights came on and off. The company was nice enough to provide sandwiches, salad, lots of drinks, and whatever else they had in the cafeteria for dinner.
Around 8pm, Stacy (lives in New Jersey) and I heard that there was limited train service to NJ out of Penn. At this point, I was worried about going outside, because a city at night without street lights can't be all that safe. What to do, right? So we navigated our way to 34th St. in the dark, but then heard from this guy with a radio that Penn Station wasn't open. Also, the bridges and tunnels had been closed. We turned around. What was interesting to see lots of bars open (lit with candles) and people just drinking to pass the time. Also, I saw that pizza parlors were pretty popular. Cops were all over, directing traffic using Glo-sticks.
Argh, back to the office. At this point, Verizon phone service started to work, and I talked to Num with someone's phone. Actually, the person was the same client I had the meeting with this morning. Funny.
Around 10pm, I listened to someone's radio (straight out of Giligan's Island) that my train line had service out of Penn. I convinced Stacy that we should try again, and we went out again. When we finally got to the Penn Station area, it was like a refugee camp. People in business clothes just sleeping on the sidewalk, and you had to walk around everyone. Finally, we got directed to the 8th Ave. entrance under Madison Square Garden, and were able to take a train to East Orange (10 seconds before it left.) I told Num with another borrowed Verizon phone, and once we entered New Jersey, I saw street lights. I tried my phone, and I had T-Mobile service. Finally! Num picked us up near the station, and we drove Stacy to her car in Fair Lawn. On the way back, we checked on Num's mom, and then we drove back to my apartment. We got back at 1am, and the lights were on in the building.
What a day.
I'm pretty sure the office was closed, especially since the Long Islanders ended up sleeping the night at the NY Life building. That was pretty nice of them to keep the building open for us. Apparently, "we" do that. On 9-11, they opened up the building to New Yorkers to come in and rest, eat, and drink too. Other companies will completely shut down, and send you on your way. That's probably what happened to all those other people who were sleeping on the street. Not a bad company, eh?
I also stayed home, because the subways were still not working on Friday, and I had no train service to the city. I watched Dateline on NBC, and they showed people waking up at dawn on the city streets. Amazing.
I went biking in the late afternoon, trying to get from Glen Ridge to Wood-Ridge via the local roads. I mapped it out, started at 4:45pm, but made a wrong turn somewhere. I went through Bloomfield, Clifton, Passaic (shady), and ended up in Paterson (really really shady), but turned around at the Paterson NJ Transit train station. I figured, "I'm kinda lost, in what looks like a bad part of town, and all I need is a flat tire to probably getting shot and robbed. Time to head back." On the way back, I spoke to a cop, and asked about getting to Rutherford (near Wood-Ridge.) He laughed, and said it was like 20 miles from there. Sigh. I told him my situation, and asked how to get back to Montclair. Eventually, I found Clifton, and made it back, but I did stop in Clifton for a meatball parm sandwich. I got home around 7:30pm.
Let me tell you, you know you're in the wrong part of town when everyone is staring at you, since they've never seen anyone dressed up in cycling clothes. Half-way through, I was getting pretty nervous.
Julie came over at night to drop off some chicken biriyani that Mom made, and she helped me figure out where my future living room furniture would go. She also got to see Missy. She misses her.
That's today. I'm home all day, and I plan to stop the update now. It's about 3pm, and I need to start studying. In the evening, Num and I are going to dinner with a few friends in Secaucus. Num's at a wedding at the moment, but we hope to have enough time to check out living room furniture before dinner. I also added the picture of the iBot in the Wed Aug 13th entry.
Alright, time to study.
Wednesday, August 13th 2003
And I'm back. I'd give you an update, but.....I'm tired, and I've already updated my church site and the nyiia site. Joelipe.com can wait until tomorrow. I'll do all the picture uploading too. BTW, Dean Kamen's iBot (a very cool wheelchair) finally got the approval from the FDA. I remember watching the wheelchair in action years ago on 20/20. Good to see it finally get approved. Here's a Dateline interview with Dean Kamen.
Training was good, and we learned a lot. It was also fun to hang out with Abby, Olivia, Diana, Jorge, and Kristen. I'm just sore from all the walking this weekend.
Thursday, August 7th 2003
Thursday. Woohoo. I'm watching Minority Report. Saw it in the theaters when it came out, but I figured it's worth another viewing.
Num made an interesting observation that I've had a pretty easy week so far.
Pretty sweet, right?
Oh, speaking of the Yankees game, yeah, fun stuff. First of all, I dress up business casual, then show up at the Garden for the workshop. You know what? Almost everyone is dressed in t-shirts, shorts, and sneakers. Doh! The workshop ends around 10:15, with about 2+ hours before the game. Since Penn Station was only downstairs, I decided to take the next train home, change clothes, make some lunch, and go back to the city for the game.
Made it to the game by 1:45pm. Well, the Yanks won 7-5 over the Texas Rangers. Here are some pictures.
Did I mention that I'm going to DC on Sunday? Oh, well, I'm going to my first offsite training class for NYL. I've gone plenty of times for my previous employer, but 1st time with this one. I'll be staying at the Wyndham Washington, DC from Sunday through Wednesday. I'm meeting Abby and Olivia at Newark International Airport, and we're flying in together Sunday evening, and flying back home Wednesday afternoon, all on the same flights. Should be fun. The class is through the IIA, and we'll be learning to improve our client interviewing skills.
Tuesday, August 5th 2003
Alright, pictures are up from the weekend in the Family gallery.
Oh, today was our department outing. We went to Slate on 21st St between 5th and 6th. Starting at 3pm, we had open bar, pizza, calamari, fries, and even more food. We played in teams tournament style. My team (Abby and I) lost in the 2nd Round when I was trying to knock the 8-ball in the corner pocket in an impossible shot, and it went in the opposite middle pocket. Doh!
Monday, August 4th 2003
And I'm back. I got back last night, awfully tired after driving all that time. I'll work on uploading those pictures later this week, but not tonight. I'm tired. I cut out of work early today to go wedding band shopping with Num at our jeweller in the city. I must say it was pretty weird to try on wedding rings. Afterwards, it started to torrentially pour down rain. It's like some floodgates opened up or something. Walking in the rain is not fun, but at least we had umbrellas.
Last night, I saw an infomercial for this faith-healer named Peter Popoff. He looked familiar, and then I remembered seeing him on Primetime or Dateline. He was a scam artist who pretended to heal people, and in turn, convinced them to send him money. He had shills in the audience, and he had his wife communicate to him (via earpiece) little facts about the unsuspecting victim. He was busted back in the 80's, but he keeps coming back. Last night on his infomercial, it looked like he was preying on the African-American population, and he was selling his "Miracle Holy Water." As they showed, people who bought the holy water were relieved of various pains and even got financial windfalls.
Imagine that. "Holy water" will even help you make money. I just feel so sad that there are gullible people out there who are going to fall under his spell, buy into his malarkey, and give him their money, believing his lies.