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 Massachusetts, 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.

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.

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.

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 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.