Wednesday, November 22, 2017

An East Cost Tri-Visit

At the end of October, I ventured out to the east coast to visit 3 of my friends from high school: Chris, Nate, and Mike.  Nate had just moved from Phoenix to Connecticut in August and was looking for visitors, and since I'm always down for traveling efficiency, I figured it'd also be a good opportunity to see Chris and Mike while I'm out there.

New Jersey / New York (Oct 27-31):
I got into Newark late on Friday night and stayed with Chris the first weekend of the 10-day trip.  I apparently picked a good time to visit Chris since he just announced when I arrived that him and Priya are expecting in April of next year.  Congrats to them!  You know that I mostly enjoy hanging out when I travel for friend-seeing, but this was also a perfect weekend for sports!  The World Series between the Astros and Dodgers was excellent, and I made sure to catch and stay up for each game (including the amazing back-and-forth game 5 that didn't end until 1:30am on the east coast).

Sunday was a fun day where Chris and I traveled to Brooklyn and Nate met up with us for both the NFL games all day and the Nuggets @ Nets game later that evening.  I was a little disappointed with the set up at Barclays Center.  It was raining and they only had two entrances where tons of fans had to wait in line for almost 30 minutes.  We didn't get into our seats until the end of the 1st quarter...
Regardless, I love attending sporting events when I travel to different cities, so I was glad to attend the Nets game.  It also helped make the game more exciting when I picked up Spencer Dinwiddie in fantasy basketball for just that weekend and he matched his career high that night with 22 points. :D

On Tuesday, Chris and I ventured out to Hoboken for Halloween, figuring it'd be a better scene than the parade in New York City.  Plus, some idiot decided to mow down bicyclists along the streets in New York just a mile away from where Chris lives, so we figured it'd be a good idea to avoid a crowded area that night.  Hoboken was alright, but the scene is just too young for me now...

Trumbull (Nov 1-3):
On Wednesday, I used the train from Grand Central Station to go to Trumbull, CT where Nate now lives.  Trumbull was pretty much what I expected.  Beautiful green atmosphere with lots of trees and grass, typical of an east coast suburban city, but lacking of nightlife and things for tourists to do.  I don't think Nate will argue with me on my assessment here. :)

I did get to see Elizabeth and Nate's two kids Ainsley and Beckett in their cozy new home (see picture below).  Took a while for Ainsley to warm up to me, but we had some fun playing peek-a-boo the whole time I was there, and then I watched Beckett fall and hurt himself over and over again.  Nate notified me of Deshaun Watson being out for the season, then proceeded to beat me in a basketball game of HORSE, making for one of the worst afternoons of the year. :P  I also really enjoyed taking their dog Casey out for a run, which showed me how fun it could be to own a dog of my own.  Don't worry Duncan, not until I meet someone who could help me out with a dog around the house, which will probably be never, so you're safe. :)
We did make it out for some touristy stuff by visiting the PEZ factory.  There's a visitor center that highlights a scavenger hunt where you have to match up-close photos with the character PEZ dispensers within the cases.  Unfortunately, you can't go into the factory itself, but you can see enough from the visitor center.  At the end, you can redeem a few free bucks towards the gift store.  I can't believe I used to eat PEZ as a kid, it's just pure sugar and I could only eat one roll, lol.

D.C. (Nov 3-6):

The stay in Trumbull was for a couple days and on Friday I took the train back to Jersey City where Chris drove us down to Alexandria for the remainder of the trip.  The drive through Baltimore was a rough one.  Apparently there was an armed robbery in Baltimore, which ended in a fatal collision along one of the interstates, forcing everyone to either sit through a 30-minute slow down or take longer routes that went around the crash.  We finally made it to DC and headed to Theismann's for some food and drinks, where I also watched LeBron go off for 57 points against the Wizards. :D

Most of the weekend, I just hung out with Mike and friends.  Little to no sightseeing, drinking and watching football, an impromptu poker game, eating great food and getting sick from it, watching gorgeous professional women walking around Crystal City.  But by the end of the weekend I was pretty much exhausted and ready to go home.  It had been a long trip.  It may be a while before I make it out to the east coast to visit these 3 again, so I'm glad I did it now.

Oh and I will miss that neighborhood cat roaming around Mike's house...
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Have a safe and fun holiday!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Pattern...NOT Broken!?

It was recently pointed out to me that I failed to post a blog in October of this year.

Well thanks to Blogger, I can make it so that my pattern of "one post a month" didn't get broken after all! :P

I know it's cheating, but it too bugs me when I don't meet my monthly goal, so this will have to do for now.  I will plan on posting 2 entries in November to make up for it!  Stay tuned...

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The LA Fitness App (Re: A New Era...)

Last month, I posted about how I was changing gyms and starting a 1-year membership at LA Fitness.  It's been going well so far and I find myself mostly between two locations.  During weekdays, I'll go to the LA Fitness in the middle of town off 1st Ave and Limberlost, since they're one of their gyms that's open until midnight.  On the weekends, I have been going to the southwest location I signed up at, mostly because it's the closest for me and the least crowded, although it's also the smallest.  I've been to a third location off Cortaro and the I-10, and while this is the farthest, I actually think it might be the nicest in terms of both equipment and busyness.

Average Time to Travel to LA Fitness Location:
Central, 1st Ave & Limberlost: 15 minutes
Southwest, Irvington: 10-15 minutes
Northwest, Cortaro & I-10: 15-20 minutes

I later learned that there is an LA Fitness App where you can view your past check-ins!  Here are my check-ins for the month of September.

As you can see, on average I hit the gym once every 3 days.  I would typically like to go 4 times a week, but it gets challenging when I have pool league on Mondays and Tuesdays and bowling league on Thursdays.  I don't like going to the gym before pool league because it's not overly convenient, and in fact if I have to force myself to go, I'll either take a shower there or just go to pool league in my gym attire, lol.  As you can see, I ain't doing shit on Thursdays except bowling. :P Weekend attendance can vary, since sometimes I like to play a round a golf or just do a "P-Andy-X" workout at home.

Another cool feature of the app is that you can view a detailed check-in history that shows exactly what time you checked in and at what location.  Overall, I've been happy with the amount I use their facilities, and don't think I'll have any problem keeping it up.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A New Era...

About a week ago, on Monday August 21st, I tried to go to the gym after work around 4pm to get in a quick workout before pool league.  I've been going to the U of A Rec Center for 15+ years, for over a decade since I graduated and basically ever since I've been living in Tucson.

That Monday, I couldn't even find a place to park.  There's only a handful of metered parking spaces (30 or so) and everything else is restricted parking without a parking permit before 5pm.  My annual membership was also up for renewal that day, and so I started to question why I still go to the U of A Rec Center.  Honestly, during the school year it is just way too crowded.  Even my go-to time of 10pm to close was crowded.  A lot of the kids are obnoxious and impolite.  Several times I'd ask to work in with somebody and they'd actually refuse to let me, suggesting I use a different machine.  I'd hold doors for the girls and they'd walk right by without even acknowledging the small favor.  It got to a point where I was like, "I'm 34 now, I just deserve better than this lifestyle."

So I recently explored options around Tucson.  I ended up going with LA Fitness since they have several gyms around town that I can access (including gyms in Phoenix and Scottsdale).  I've been going for a week now, and while it's different, it's definitely more relaxed and I don't have to deal with the immaturity I got while going to a University gym.  Oh and hey, look at that, tons of free parking!  While I'll miss the pick-up basketball at the U of A, LA Fitness still has a court that I can get my game on whenever I'm feeling it.

And so ends an era of working out at the U of A.  Crazy I lasted 15 years there, but I guess times change and you need to adapt accordingly.  We'll see how long I stay at LA Fitness, but for now, I'm there for the next year.

Monday, July 31, 2017

It's Quiet...

Not much to report these days.

Few trips planned for the rest of the year, but thinking of doing an East Coast trip where I hit Connecticut, Jersey, and DC to visit Nate, Chris, and Mike all in one fell swoop. Possibly sometime in October.

I qualified for the APA Singles Regional Tournament for both 8-ball and 9-ball this fall.  That will be held in Phoenix the first weekend of October.  If I win there, I'll get to play at Nationals in Las Vegas.

Golf league ended a couple months ago.  Over the course of a 12-week session, I ended up with a 17.5 handicap for 9-holes.  A lot of work to do if I'm ever going to improve my golf game.  We'll get there someday, I hope.

Right now just going to pool league on Monday and Tuesdays.  The rest of my nights have been pretty open, which is a nice change of pace.

Work has been busy as of late.  At the beginning of the year, they cut funding on the project I was working on: FlashSystem.  Then they split my time across two projects: DS8000 and Hydra.  In the second quarter, I added a third project: MetaOcean.  And in 3Q they want me to drop DS8000 and Hydra and transition to Spectrum Scale.  I'm always up for the challenge and I go where the team needs my skills.  I'm likely the most versatile piece on this team...a utilityman if you will.  However, lots of adjusting to do in the process.

I still find time to play tons of video games, but my queue is still large.  On PS4, I'm currently playing Horizon Zero Dawn with Life is Strange waiting on deck.  On PC, it's mostly Left 4 Dead or some 7 Days to Die whenever my friends are on, but I've got XCOM, Cities: Skylines, Dishonored, and Arkham Knight in the queue, all games I picked up during this year's summer Steam sale.

Duncan is good, house is good, I'm good.  As always, thanks for checking in on me and I'll see ya next time!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

E3 2017

Last week I went to E3 2017, again held in Los Angeles, CA.  This was my second year in a row attending E3, so my expectations were pretty much set based on last year's experience, which I had heard wasn't as exciting as previous years.

I got into L.A. on a Tuesday night and ended up staying at the Shelter Hotel in Koreatown. I decided to only go for 2 days this year, since I felt the first day (Tuesday) was too busy for me to care to attend.

On Wednesday, I arrived at E3 around noon and met up with my friend Kavita.  We were able to see pretty much all of the exhibits the convention had to offer in one day, but when you don't care to wait hours in line to play a new game like Destiny 2 or Mario Odyssey, you end up just walking around the exhibits, like a big museum or theme park.

I went back on Thursday by myself, mostly for a half day to get a final look at any booths Kavita didn't care to look at, such as the independent games.  But overall, I was pretty disappointed this year, mostly because there was no news whatsoever for the game I was most interested in hearing about (Square Enix's FF7 Remake).  It just seemed like a down year for video games.  The Nintendo Switch is pretty cool and Mario Odyssey looks amazing, so at least there's that.  I'll be getting one later this year.

So as an IBMer, I still get to attend the convention for free, but I'm considering skipping next year.  While playing demos of upcoming games and checking out new technology is exciting, I don't really enjoy waiting hours in line for them.  We'll see...

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Kevin's Wedding in Denton, TX

Last month I attended my friend Kevin's wedding in Denton, TX.  It had been 6 years since I last visited Kevin, just a few years after he moved out to Denton to attend the University of North Texas.  Kevin and I had spent most of our post-college days hanging out while he was still living in Tucson.  Bowling, clubbing, Madden...these were our weekly routines.

Kevin's one of those guys who even if I don't see or talk to him in years, it's like nothings really changed.  Our friendship bond is pretty strong and those kind of relationships only strengthen with time, regardless of distance.  I was very excited to attend his wedding, although I was a little saddened that he didn't feel close enough to any of our mutual friends from Tucson and the University of Arizona.  In fact, I was the only one from AZ to attend the wedding.

I got into Dallas on a Thursday afternoon.  I'm love having Gold membership status with Hertz though IBM.  You literally just walk to the rental car area, pick a vehicle you like, then drive off (after a very quick check-in at the exit).  The first thing I had to do when I arrived in Texas was get Freebirds World Burrito!  I found the closest one and ordered my burrito.  I told the guy over the counter how excited I was for Freebirds since we don't have them in AZ and at the end, he decided to give me the burrito on the house!  I gave him a fat tip and it was already a great start to the trip!
The drive to Denton is about 30 minutes, but can be extended to 45 with rush hour traffic.  I arrived in Denton in the evening, checked into my discounted Marriott room (thanks Anthony!), then met Kevin and his friends for food and drinks at Hoochies.  I had only met one of Kevin's friends before this (at least those in attendance for his wedding), so I had to be pretty social and extroverted to befriend everyone.  The first night was pretty chill, mostly just guys in his wedding and I finally got to meet Peyton (his now wife) as well.  Yep, that's how long it had been since I visited him...he was dating someone else the last time I was out there. :P

On Friday a few of us gathered to play some disc golf.  Kevin had introduced me to the game the last time I was out here, so it was only fitting we'd play a round this weekend.  While Kevin is a talented disc golfer in his own right, one of his friends, Eric, was extremely good.  He could drive the disc 400ft+ (no joke).  I've never seen anyone through a disc that straight and far before, I was simply in awe.  We only played about 10 holes since we had to make it to the rehearsal dinner later that night.
The rehearsal dinner was quaint, taking place at the Denton's Women's Club.  Several people went out for drinks afterwards, but many called it an early night due to the early wedding activities they had to partake in the next day.  Since I wasn't actually in this wedding (for a change), I decided to stick around the bar scene for a little longer.  This one bar had ping pong tables outside and I had just finished playing.  A cute little brunette came up and asked if anyone was on it, and I said no.  She asked if I wanted to play since she was by herself and waiting on friends, so I obviously I wasn't gonna say no to a pretty face.  She was really good at ping pong; beat me the first game 21-13 and I'm no slouch, although I may have been a little drunk at the time.  She challenged me to a rematch, but again she did me in, another 21-13 ass-whooping.  After two games, her friends had arrived, so I figured that was my cue to depart, but she asked if I wanted to meet them.  When I did, I figured everything was going really well and I might have a good chance with this one.  But then the funny part of the story (or is it sad?), when she was talking to someone at the table, she said "well I like girls."  At that point, I knew what was up and was like, of course, that's typically Andy-luck right there.  I decided to call it a night shortly after, saving myself from further embarrassment of hitting on a lesbian.

The wedding was on Saturday and was at The Grove, a good 20-minutes outside of Denton.  Good thing I had that rental vehicle.  It was a nice, countryside wedding.  Fortunately, I had made plenty of friends I could talk to at this point, so I never felt too alone.
It was a great opportunity for me to visit my friend Kevin and meet his lovely wife Peyton.  I'm really glad I made it out there.  Congratulations you two!  Until next time.