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.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Andy Lin's Lickity List (Amazing $10 Authentic Meals in Tucson)

Welcome to Andy Lin's Lickity List!  Only restaurants that are unique to Tucson can be found on this list.  The other great part is that it's all very cheap - around $10 for an amazing meal!  I usually stick to the same item off the menu at these places to satisfy the craving of a meal I haven't had in a while.

This list will be a running log that I will update whenever I go to one of my several favorite restaurants in Tucson, so be sure to check back for my latest recommendations via the link under my Hot Topics section!

Andy Lin's Lickity List
Amazing $10 Authentic Meals in Tucson

China Szechwan
1800 E Fort Lowell Rd
Tucson, AZ 85719
Date Visited: Mar 28, 2017
Style: Sichuan
Go-To-Lick: Water-Boiled Fish
Price: $10.75 including tax 

Raves: Tucson is not known for its Chinese food.  In fact, I usually save my cravings for Chinese food for when I'm in Phoenix, since my parents only eat Chinese food.  However, sometimes I'm not up there for a while and I'll want some home cooking.  Fortunately there are a few places in Tucson that can satisfy the hunger.

China Szechwan is a small, privately owned restaurant that offers both an Americanized Chinese menu and a traditional Sichuan menu.  I strongly suggest that you visit for lunch, as they're extremely busy during dinner hours and you run the risk of waiting an hour for your food...

We'll get to my Go-To-Lick in just a bit, but if you're feeling like an appetizer while you wait, try the Dan Dan Noodles for $3.50 (not including tax).  While they're nothing that special, they're simple, spicy noodles with ground pork on top and quite appetizing.
As for the main dish, I come here for the Water-Boiled Fish.  They have several meat choices you can choose from, such as chicken, beef, tripe, pork, pork blood, etc...  However, if you've never had fish at a Chinese restaurant, your missing out.  I'm not exactly sure what kind of fish fillets are used (I'm guessing cod?), but the fish is always tender and flaky, so delicious.  It comes with rice, so I like to throw the fish and soup onto the rice and eat it kind of curry style.
Finally, I will warn everyone that both dishes can be a little spicy, but in comparisons with some other Sichaun restaurants I've been to, I'd say the spice is a little light here, which isn't a bad thing.



Ikkyu
2040 W Orange Grove Rd
Tucson, AZ 85704

Date Visited: Jun 25, 2016
Style: Japanese
Go-To-Lick: Tonkotsu Ramen
Price: $8.33 including tax
Read this review. 


Lindy's on 4th
431 N 4th Ave
Tucson, AZ 85705

Date Visited: February 29, 2016
Style: American
Go-To-Lick: Two Finger Peek-a-Boo, single patty
Price: $10.29 including tax
Read this review. 


Indian Frybread - Manna from Heaven
1118 W St. Mary's Rd
Tucson, AZ 85745

Date Visited: December 23, 2015
Style: Mexican
Go-To-Lick: Indian Taco, Wednesday special (with ground beef, no beans, and red/green chili)
Price: $7.84 including tax
Read this Review.


Sher-E-Punjab
853 E Grant Rd
Tucson, AZ 85719
Date Visited: September 24, 2015
Style: Indian
Go-To-Lick: Lamb Vindaloo with Basmati Rice
Price: $12.44 including tax
Read this Review.


BK Tacos & Hotdogs
5118 S 12th Ave
Tucson, AZ 85706

Date Visited: August 21, 2014
Style: Sonora Mexican
Go-To-Lick: Large Caramelo Asada
Price: $6.78 including tax 
Read this Review.


Saing Thai Cuisine
9136 E Valencia Rd
Tucson, AZ 85747

Date Visited: June 19, 2014
Style: Thai
Go-To-Lick: Pad Kee Mao
Price: $8.59 including tax 
Read this Review.


Frog & Firkin
874 East University Blvd
Tucson, AZ 85719 
Date Visited: May 12, 2014
Style: English Pub
Go-To-Lick: The Firkin Burger with Cheese
Price: $9.13 including tax 
Read this Review.


El Guero Canelo
2480 North Oracle Road
Tucson, AZ 85705 
Date Visited: May 3, 2014
Style: Sonora Mexican
Go-To-Lick: 2x Carne Asada Burro Jr. with Extra Cheese
Price: $9.27 including tax 
Read this Review.


Andy Lin is your typical Tucson resident and is a not food connoisseur.  He is simply a man who knows what pleases his tastebuds and belly.   Special thanks to Nate M. and Matt H. for help with coming up with a title for this list.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Jeff's Bachelor Party, Wedding, IBM Bowling Championships, and IBM Golf League!

Jeff's Bachelor Party:

Jeff's bachelor party was in Austin in January, the second time I've been to Austin for a bachelor party.  However, this time we stayed on Rainey Street (where we were closer to 6th Street for Chris's bachelor party).  The entire weekend was pretty much what I expected: lots of bars, lots of drinking.  When we arrived at our AirBNB apartment, we literally just walked across the street to a line of bars and started drinking, playing bags, ring toss, etc.

One of the highlights of this trip was finding quite possibly the best BBQ places  in Texas: Ironworks BBQ.  On the first day, I didn't know what to get, so I got a sampler of brisket and beef ribs.  The brisket is comparable to Rudy's, but man, those beef ribs were the best I've ever had.  We would end up going back the next day (them a 3rd time on Saturday; I tried to go Sunday before I left but they were closed).  If you're ever around Rainey Street in Austin, do yourself a favor and go to Ironworks and grab the 3-rib deal.  The mac 'n cheese was also phenomenal.

Everyday in Austin was drinking at the bars.  I consumed over 20 beers on Thursday alone, so on Friday I felt the need to switch to something other than beers, finding myself drinking Rainey Street Mules instead.  I proceeded to get very hammered that night, where we ended up on 6th Street eventually...a 10-minute walk from where we were staying.  Come Saturday, I was hurting and barely drank anything, even when we were at the strip club for over 4 hours.  I was glad to be going home on Sunday, because my liver and stomach just couldn't take anymore.  But alas, another great bachelor party for one of my oldest friendships.

Jeff and Ashley's Wedding in Tempe:

Jeff and Ashley got married the weekend of February 18th.  I drove up on Friday for the rehearsal and drinks at Dos Gringos.  I ended up crashing the entire weekend at Jeff's house, and in exchange for his humble hospitality, on Saturday morning I helped him move all of his wedding booze out of his backroom and into the kitchen for easier pickup by truck.  Some 20 bottles, cases of Kiltlifter, and High Life, so I was definitely getting a workout in.

Jeff and Ashley would later get married at the Eisendrath estate, where it ended up raining on their wedding day, but fortunately the tent situation was decent and it only rained during the ceremony.  We'd end up dancing away the rest of the night and eventually making it out to Gilligan's in Old Town Scottsdale.  The only thing I couldn't remember from that night is how I ended up with a huge gash down the center of my left hand's palm...  Anyway, congrats to Jeff and Ashley!  I'm really happy for them and was honored to be a part of their wedding party.

I've been trying to keep track of my wedding participation numbers, and I believe this was the 21st I've attended, 8th I've been in...so far.  Two more to come at the end of March and another in early April.

IBM Bowling Championships!

I haven't talked much about bowling this season, as it's been a rough year for me.  My average ended up about 17 pins lower than I have been the past several years.  I attributed a lot of my bad season to arm fatigue.  The Raytheon basketball season, playing golf once a week, it was starting to take a toll on my body.  Nonetheless, despite how bad I was bowling this year, we found ourselves in the Championship rolloff at the end of the season, which was just last Thursday!

As far as the rolloff goes, 4 teams compete and whoever has the highest total (scratch + handicaps) across the entire 3-game series at the end of the night, wins the championship!  In addition, there are prizes to whoever bowls the best handicap series for the night.  My teammate Chris ended up with a 614 scratch series and with his handicap, was the highest of the night.  Yours truly rolled a 607 series and took the 2nd highest handicap series.  With both of us bowling well, we were able to take the championship by about 30 pins and walk away with our 5th title in the last 8 years or so!  Woohoo!

While I'll miss bowling, I'm looking forward to the offseason and giving myself a little bit of rest...but not really, because up around the corner is...

IBM Golf League!

While the IBM Golf League has been around a while, it wasn't until last year that I really started getting into golf.  The league will be held Wednesdays starting next week and 20 teams of 2 are signed up.  We'll tee off every week around 3:30 on Wednesdays for 9 holes at Randolph golf course here in Tucson.  It's match play, but as a newbie, I still have a little to learn about the league rules and system.  Fortunately for me, there is a handicap, which I'll surely need! :)  I'm looking forward to another league, which will end around June.


So life is going well for me!  Lots of activities, friends, the usual business.  I know I haven't been blogging as much lately, but I will continue to try and keep it up about once a month.  Until next time!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Damn You Fox!

Tonight at the bar where I play pool league every Tuesday, they finally changed the Tuesday drink special... No longer will we enjoy $2 Snakebites (half Guinness on top of Angry Orchard).  Nope, they will now be $4...*sigh*.

I've done the math, and I actually think it's better to get a 22oz Snakebite for $5.75 with my All-Star Card "mug access" over the $4 14oz "pints".  I can understand why they no longer offer the special, they were probably losing profits on me drinking them out of house and home.   I always knew when this day would come, I just wanted to believe it never would.

C'est la vie, I guess things could be worse!

More blog content to come in March...lots of stuffs coming up this year already!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

In Memory Of...

A forewarning for my readers today: this is a sad post upcoming.  If you're not in the mood to read about tragedy, then I ask that you come back another time, or later when I'm back to posting about positive content.

I'd like to take a moment to write about my friend Pamela who was involved in a terrible accident last month and did not survive.  Pamela is the wife of one of my best friends, Matt, and you may recognize their names from their blog that's linked on the right over there at Hesselblogger.  Ironically, it was Pamela who got either Matt or myself into blogging to begin with.

I don't really know where to start or what is appropriate to say.  I'm just going to start talking about my feelings.  I guess my goal is to reflect on the fond memories and amazing character that was Pamela, one of the most remarkable women anyone could ever have the pleasure of meeting.  Maybe someday Matt's kids will read this when they're older.

I met Pamela a couple years after I met Matt while I was attending the University of Arizona.  Matt is an attractive man, so it was no surprise that the girls he dated in college were also attractive, and Pamela was easily the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen him with.   I believe Matt started dating Pamela around our senior year of college and while it wasn't as serious yet, I remember her being around for some of the big parties my friends Richard, Justin, Shahruq, Sam, Chris, Eric, and Marty would throw.  It wasn't until after I graduated from the U of A that I learned Matt would be sticking around in Tucson at Raytheon, so we begun to hang out often, sharing in that brand-new after-college lifestyle.  Matt had been seriously dating Pamela for a while now, so I befriended Pamela and drew closer to the two as years passed in Tucson.

So many fun memories with both of them.  Going out to "the Risky Cactus for some Moon Business" and watching Pamela be selected as a winner of $100 in the DJ's picks for best dancers of the night. Countless nights of playing video games over at Matt's house or partying at Pamela's apartment.  It was Pamela that even got me into watching Grey's Anatomy, which I'm sure she had abandoned after the first few seasons but is still a show I watch to this very day.  Pamela also came up huge and would help drive me to physical therapy, months after I had surgery to repair the torn ACL in my right knee.  After a few years of watching Matt and Pamela together, I would joke about how perfect their relationship was and I was so proud and happy for Matt when he finally decided to marry her, making the best decision of his life.  I was honored to be a part of their wedding, which I still remember memorizing Frankie Valli's song "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" to sing for Pamela at the reception.

It became a little more difficult to hang out with Matt and Pamela when they eventually moved to Phoenix, but since my parents live in Scottsdale, I'd still try and visit them occasionally throughout the year when I was in town.  Also memorable are the trip to Cabo they planned and invited me along, multiple wakeboarding weekends to Apache Lake, cabin trips to Payson, 2010 New Year's eve at Angels and Outlaws and 2012 in Las Vegas just a couple years later.  While we lived in different cities, our friendship remained just as strong by keeping in touch throughout the many years.  Matt and Pamela gave birth to two wonderful children: their first-born Ryan and their daughter Audrey a couple years later.  Honestly, there's only a few friends of mine who I can say I was truly jealous of their great life and family, which makes what comes next one of the most depressing things I've ever experienced.

On the night of Saturday, November 12th, I received a phone call from Jon, a mutual friend I met through Matt.  When he first told me the news, I was simply in shock.  I didn't believe it was true and kept saying out loud, "no way, this is not real."  Moments later, for the first time in about a decade, I cried for an hour, realizing that she just wasn't going to be around anymore.  I've been pretty fortunate in my lifetime so far, and up until this point, I've never been close to anyone who died early for unnatural reasons.

I got a chance after a couple days to see Matt while his kids were recuperating at the hospital.  Pamela came from a huge family and everyone was really helpful getting Matt through the process, spending time with Ryan and watching over Audrey.  I didn't really know how to help or what to do when I was there, I guess I just wanted to be there and to see him.

A couple weeks have passed and I hear that Ryan is doing much better, walking around and playing again, living like a normal 3-year-old should.  It seems like he'll be just fine.  Audrey has awakened from a coma and has been moved out of intensive care, but I still worry about her overall recovery, since she took a big blow to the head during the accident.  Matt remains hopeful, and fortunately for both kids, he is one of the strongest, most responsible, intelligent, and caring fathers anyone could ever have.  The kids will be alright...

In one dark moment, this family's life was completely changed forever.  It's depressing and no matter how I think about, it just sucks.  I guess my take-away from all of this, is that you really do need to appreciate the preciousness of life and the relationships you have with others, because who knows at what point any or all of that can be taken away from you in this world.

Rest in peace Pamela, you will be forever missed.

In loving memory of Pamela Anne (Kieran) Hesselbacher, 1985-2016.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Quick October Updates

Not a whole lot of excitement going on these days, so I'll just give some quick updates on my extracurriculars and routines. 

Mondays:

This year for Raytheon basketball we are 5-2 so far in the B league.  We had to forfeit a couple weeks ago when I was out traveling to Colorado Springs for SNIA.  Last week, we played shorthanded (5 guys made it, no subs) and lost to a very good team.  It's been harder this year than previous years as there are a lot of byes due to having 11 teams (so 1 team is always sitting each week), forfeits, and holiday schedules (like no games on Halloween today).  Regardless, it's fun to play with my fellow IBMers and we remain one of the teams (if not the team) to beat!

After basketball league, I sometimes go to Fox and the Hound to play 9-ball, since my team is still playing on Mondays.  I can usually get there by 8 or 9pm after my basketball game, so it's not too bad.  I just go straight from the Sporting Chance Center and play in my gym clothes.  Our team is doing alright and I'm currently 3-1 on the year.  Still a 4-speed in 9-ball. 

Tuesdays:

Still got 8-ball league on Tuesdays, also at Fox and the Hound.  Our team has struggled in recent sessions, but I've had a lot of roster changes to deal with and players moving up in skill.  We're currently in 3rd place this session and I'm 3-3 on the year.  Still a 5-speed in 8-ball. 

Wednesdays:

My one true "night off" of the week is Wednesday.  I have almost nothing ever planned on Wednesdays and will use this day to get in time at the gym or play video games.  Some games I've been playing recently are: Left 4 Dead on PC with some combination of Wes, Ryan, Tyler, Johnathan, and Beth; Division on PS4 with Jeff; or Dragon Quest Builders on PS4.  I still play Diablo 3 when the new season is out and I haven't been playing much StarCraft 2. 

Thursdays:

We're about 8 weeks into the bowling season.  We lost Tony this year (he's raising a new child), so we have two girls rotating weekly as our 4th player.  We are off to a slow start, as both myself and Chris are below our expected averages.  It's been hard to bowl big games this year for me, I wonder if all the additional extracurricular activities are affecting my game.  *shrug*  If I want to be a top athlete in all the sports I participate, I need to adjust and increase my endurance.  And I'm sure most of it is mental. 

Weekends:

Friday through Saturday have been pretty consistent for me.  I still find to hit the gym, go out with friends, and play a round or two of golf on one of the days.  There's NFL to watch on Sundays and the NBA season has also started!

Life is going well and I'm keeping busy.  No out-of-town trips planned for the rest of the year.  'Til next post, take care and thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Getting into.....GOLF!?!?

Anyone who's ever played golf with me knows one fact: I am really bad at golf.

However, my friend Anthony works as a financial manager at JW Marriott at Starr Pass here in Tucson and is encouraged to take advantage of the resort's golf course.  He's allowed to invite up to three others to join him for free, which is an amazing perk to have as part of his job!  Since late 2015, we've been going almost every weekend to take advantage of free golf and I'm very lucky to be invited.  Anthony had never really golfed before he got this job, so it was nice that we both started out around the same level.

The golf course at Starr Pass is arguably the most challenging in Tucson.  There are 27 holes (3 sets of 9 where you'll play 2 of the sets in a round) and the course spans through several mountains and washes so there are many chances to go out-of-bounds if you have a bad hit.
Because I've been going almost every week (even during the hot summer days and yes, I'll actually get up early if it's to go play golf), I have an innate desire to want to be better at any sport I'm playing regularly.  I had a set of old Powerbolts that my friend Matt gave me as a groomsman's gift some 7 years ago.  They were an entry-level set of clubs, rightfully so because a bad golfer doesn't need good golf clubs nor was I using them that much.  My first step in getting into golf was to invest in a new set of nicer clubs.  There's a TaylorMade Outlet Store that just opened up in Tucson where Anthony purchased his clubs.  They run older models from a few years ago, but everything is still brand new.  I was able to trial a few of their irons and ended up liking the Speedblade set.  The set of irons (includes 4I, 5I, 6I, 7I, 8I, 9I, PW, AW) ran for $300 new.  I also picked up an SLDR Driver and a Daytona 12 Putter.  Because the outlet store is new since 2015, they were running a special where almost everything in the store was 25% off.  They also had an additional promotion for "buy one club, get one half off."  Altogether, my first purchase was in June for $440.
I would continue to play every Sunday, not really improving my game, but at least I had some fancy new clubs to swing with!  I also had bought some new golf shoes to go with my TPC Jasna Polana shirt and shorts that I got from being a groomsman in Chris's wedding.  For the most part, whenever we went to Starr Pass, we'd do a 2vs2 best ball.  Sometimes we'd take individual scores and for the most part I would hit around a 112.  Anthony can break 100 occasionally and Tyler averages in the mid 90's.

As I continued to play, I realized that my irons would not go far enough on some of these holes.  The internet says a 4-iron should on average go 170 yards and I could actually hit maybe 20 yards less than that.  However, some of these fairways still had 200+ yards to go to the pin.  Tyler and Anthony suggested that I invest in a fairway wood and hybrid, and after picking the brains of my elite golfing friends Matt and Chris, I decided to purchase 4 more clubs for my birthday in August: a 3-wood, a 3-hybrid, and a couple 56° and 60° wedges.  The promotion for "buy one, get one half off" plus an additional 25% off was still running, so I got the 4 clubs for $260.  Altogether, I now own a 14-club set of brand new TaylorMades and if you count the bag as well, everything ran me $800.  Matt claims this is the first sign of golfer's addiction, which is spending a pretty penny on a new set of clubs!
So now that I had the equipment, it was time to start learning to play the game properly.  Growing up, I had never learned how to play golf.  My dad never played and when I rarely played with my friends, I was not serious enough to learn the fundamentals.  While Anthony and Tyler are better than me, I wasn't sure if they actually knew how to play the right way.  I figured it was time to consult friends who were more educated or been playing for a lot longer than me.

Over Labor Day weekend, Matt met me at Top Golf in Scottsdale while I visited Lucky (who now works there) to help give me some instructions on posture and address.  I am a firm believer in the fundamentals of any sport.  I know from experience from other sports (e.g. basketball, bowling, and pool) that proper mechanics is very important if you want to improve the performance of your game.  Matt has been playing for 20 years and is really good golfer, so I tried to absorb every ounce of advice he gave me.  I've only tried my newly correctly swing a couple rounds out, but already I can feel a difference.  As you can see from the picture below, I' still have a lot of work to do, but before the lessons I would stand straight up and have my arms fully extended, which I now know is incorrect.
My goal is to get out there every weekend with Anthony and then every other week I'll try and play another course a second day in the week.  So we're looking at maybe 6 rounds of golf a month.  I've also been watching more YouTube videos and golf channel, watching what others do and their approach to what is a very difficult game.

I've definitely gotten really into golf lately.  Now that we're in the fall season, there'll be cloudy days where the weather is a cool 70-80° out and all I'll be thinking is "man, it'd be such a good day to go golfing."  Another sign that I'm getting addicted.  Hopefully if keep it up enough, I'll see improvement and not be so embarrassed to be out on the course with guys like Matt and Chris! :)