Monday, April 30, 2007

Colour My World

With the weather hovering between rainy and cold/gray/drizzling, I decided to begin yet another HGTV-esque project to accompany the deck refinishing. Now, my kitchen is all taped up and ready to go for its paint job.

I thought about my painting history briefly yesterday. Since moving to Southie almost 4 years, the kitchen will be the 7th paint job I have undertaken, all to cover the very generic thin coat of off-white paint that greeted me throughout my place and inside the common interior staircase when I bought this place. This is a pre-photo from '03.

Pain(t) Projects:

1. Both bathrooms - light blue
2. Both bedrooms - dark green

My first paint jobs ever. After purchasing 2 gallons of blue and 4 of green for, at the time, 1 bathroom and 1 bedroom, my father told me I had about twice as much paint as I needed. Rather than picking 2 more colors, I doubled up and painted both bathrooms and bedrooms the same colors. Good idea, consistency is good too. For the bedrooms, Brian, Kelly, Mort, and Alanna came over to help – I didn’t even have to ask them, they all wanted to have a painting party and insisted! Their help was great! It cost me dinner but saved me lots of time.

3. Half of living room - a red/brown rust color, and an accent wall in "turtle shell"

I used this great textured paint called Sandwash, which leaves a sandpapery speckled look on the walls. It also requires three coats of paint (ugh), but after 2 coats, it just didn't look right. The front of triple-deckers often have 2 angular rooms, each with three windows facing the street. I thought it would differentiate each "room" by having one painted one way, the other painted another way. After a few months of living that way, I didn't like it. So...

4. Other half of living room - same as first half

So, now we're back to one large room rather than two separate ones. Looks better.

5. Hallway - a copper color

It looks yellower than I had wished, but I still think it's a cool color especially against the white molding. The hallway was the easiest paint job because it was the least about of wall space, and had the fewest angles.

6. Common interior staircase - light blue

For months, my upstairs neighbor and I had paint chips taped to the wall right outside my door. He loves starting projects as well, but usually seems to have 4 or 5 going at any given time. Finally, I decided to do the painting. I had time off work, and didn’t mind undertaking the project myself. We split the cost, picked a color not even on the wall at the time, and I painted. That was a bear of a project, especially reaching high up an entire story, using a star ladder and extender pole.

7. Kitchen – off-white / cream color

I have enough colors in my place now. I didn’t want to go nuts in the kitchen. This color should go on a touch darker, plus provide the correct paint finish for a kitchen – satin enamel (rather than the one thin coat of flat paint it current has). Ryan helped with the taping yesterday, and wants to help with the painting. I might get inspired this week after work, though, so we’ll see what gets done during the week.

Once I’m done with the kitchen, there will be nothing else to paint inside my place, and I will be closer to done. The doorway vestibule leading to the street, though, could use a makover!

Friday, April 27, 2007

El paraguas y la lluvia

My favorite part of a business trip is coming home.

Enjoying the same exact cold, grey, and wet weather from the same storm in two different cities, however, is a bit of a bummer.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

KZPS Dallas - Lone Star 92.5

KZPS was a Clear Channel Classic Rock station for years. They just tweaked the format and rebranded it as Lone Star 92.5. The music is a mix of guitar-based classic rock (Eagles, Marshall Tucker, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steve Miller, Eric Clapton, Bad Company), classic country with a rock flair (Willie Nelson, Bellamy Brothers, Hank Williams Jr.), Alt-Country/Americana music (Ryan Adams, Old 97's, Son Volt, Golden Smog, Wilco, Drive-By Truckers), 80's/90's guitar rock (Black Crowes, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Tom Petty, John Mellencamp), and many one-hit and very obscure bands for northerners like myself. While they have core artists that they play regularly, they seem to go very deep into the catalogs of these artists - album tracks, obscure hits and semi-hits, and of course the smashes.
This isn't even close to anything we have on the radio in Boston. It's so refreshing. I don't know all of the songs (a rarity for me), but I keep finding myself checking out what they are playing as I go about my day, having their Internet stream minimized in my toolbar. Plus, their audio quality is excellent for an Internet broadcast.

They put this format on the HD-2 channel last year, and just this week they decided to "promote" the HD-2 channel to the main channel that everyone throughout Dallas can hear, while parking the Classic Rock format on their HD-2 (that far fewer people in Dallas can hear).

Willie Nelson provides the imaging and station voice between every few records. For now, there are no live DJ's, and their commercial sponsorships are done very tastefully, with sponsors being identified between records, NPR-style (Lone Star 92.5, this hour of Lone Star music brought to you by Coors Light)

The did such a great job with creating a mood where all of the music matches. No peaks and valleys. Listening to it, the music fits together remarkably well. In today's world of rigid boxes for music formats, it's nice to find some smart programmers willing to take a risk, take elements of music from very different categories, and mix them up in a brand new box to create a new format of music. In this world of "Mike / Bob / Jack FM's" of "we play anything," laziness, this format took some time to develop and many risks for a radio market the size of Dallas. Last I checked, it was market #5 or 6, and flipping a format in a market that size can be a financially gut-wrenching decision.
Radio takes its lumps and punches in the media, especially with the Don Imus story recently. But, glimpses of creativity and relevance should be rewarded. This station is creative, fresh, and a great listen. I have had it on all day today and yesterday.

Monroeville, PA - with eateries full of flair

Monroeville, PA - my residence this week (about 15 miles east of downtown Pittsburgh) is one of those cities at the crossroads of major interstates (The PA Turnpike and I-376). I took this photo of downtown while driving to Monroeville, after emerging from the Fort Pitt tunnel. Unfortunately, the panoramic view of Pittsburgh immediately after the tunnel is much nicer than what I captured. Monroeville's primary role is housing business travelers in economy hotels and feeding them at chain restaurants.

Just off the top of my head, I remember seeing a Courtyard, Red Roof Inn, Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn, Days Inn, and my home - SpringHill Suites.

Dining choices range from classy (Red Lobster) to good 'ol fashioned American eatin' (Golden Corral, Max & Erma's). I try to avoid restaurants that suggest I'm being penned into an area with barnyard animals, and while Max and Erma sound like lovely people, I'd prefer to pass. Pretty much, if the menu has pictures, the restaurant is here. Chili's, TGI Friday's, Applebee's, Denny's, Olive Garden, Don Pablo's - the list is endless.

I ate at Outback on Monday night, and said Red Lobster last night. I had a lobster tail last night as part of my entree, and The Barking Crab on the waterfront has nothing to worry about in terms of competition.

The servers at each restaurant were extremely friendly. Perhaps they treat lonely single diners better than loud families. Twice already on this trip, I have been called "hun," once by someone obviously younger than I.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How 'bout them apples?

Yesterday, I was seated near Gate 32 at Logan, awaiting commencement of the boarding of my delayed flight to Pittsburgh. We are operating out of Gate 30, but the JetBlue Terminal C concourse is crowded and does not have enough seats for the passenger volume that flows through this area. There is a mechanical issue on the plane.

Across from me is the Cibo Express Gourmet Market, a company I have seen at JFK and a few other airports as well. They peddle fancier munchies and sandwiches (i.e. they wouldn’t be caught dead selling a Hershey’s bar – Ghirardelli seems to be their lowest caliber chocolate for sale, but most of their chocolate bars look European).

I watched a little girl go up to the apple basket and somehow cause one to drop onto the floor. Little girl’s father picked up the apple and put it back into the basket, causing two different apples to drop from the basket’s other side onto the floor. Father and little girl walk away, but good Samaritan working at the T-Shirt cart scoots over to remove the two new floor-dwelling apples, carefully replacing them in the apple basket, disrupting no more apples.

At the time, I was estimating about 30 apples in the basket, about 10% of which then had little girl and/or Logan Airport floor germs on them. Said infected apples are now probably fully digested in the stomachs of unsuspecting travelers in cities far from Boston.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

My brilliant idea

This morning I woke up and had the impulsive idea that almost four years after moving into my current residence, I finally needed to attend to my 200 sq. ft. rear deck. Immediately. Today. Right now. ¡Ahora!

I figured that the project would be simple. Buy a power sander, strip the paint with said sander, sand the pressure treated but unfinished railings, apply a mildewcide solution to treat the board with some green on them, and then apply the stain. For some odd reason, I believed that this was a project that I could finish by myself before sundown after a quick trip to Home Depot.

Without recounting the gruesome details, my Home Depot trip resulted in the following:

  • 72 herb seeds now germinating in my kitchen.

  • A cool Black & Decker Cyclone power sander that removed the paint effectively, but at a painstakingly long pace, resulting in...

  • A double-dip Home Depot day - Trip #2 to purchase paint stripper

  • 40% of my rear deck being partially stripped, 60% untouched

  • A sore back and dry hands

  • A couple random minor chemical burns on my skin

My interior paint jobs usually began as impulsively but contained finite endings. I know how to paint walls well. Stripping paint, however, is another box of donuts. This should be a fun few weekends forthcoming.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Yanks - Sox

Like a typical Boston resident, I LOVE Yankees-Sox here at Fenway. While my allegiance might be a bit distorted for a Boston resident (c'mon....if you grew up a Sox fan your whole life and happened to live in NY, do you switch by default? Of course not), it's always an exciting time in town. Great rivalry, storied games, timeless moments.

Many find it to be a religious experience. For the good...and the bad ( 2004 and "Jesus Christ, f#!*'ing Aaron Boone," assign each accordingly). I will say, it's almost like the good Lord above is shining down on Boston now with a week of torrential rain and gloom, clearing just in time for a weekend Yanks-Sox series here at Fenway.

10 homers for A-Rod already, half of his hits are homers, slugging % almost 1.000 - amazing tear thus far. He could be the hero of the weekend if he ignores the boos and entirely offensive T-shirts bearing his name outside Fenway. In NY, they truly don't harbor as much hatred for Sox players as the Sox fans do for the Yankees players. While NY fans in NY do get into the rivalry, the Sox are just another obstacle, not THE obstacle like the Yankees are here.

So, here's to a great series this weekend!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Drinking Around The World at Epcot

I have begun using AOL webmail to access my email because the AOL software seems to be behaving oddly on my computer. On webmail, somehow I managed to end up at my photo albums saved on AOL, only to notice some photos on that I forgot about. Turns out, AOL has a couple albums of photos from me, pre-digital camera #1 (which occurred in December 2001).

This was me with my cousins Bryan and Dennis at Disney World's Epcot center during our Drinking Around the World escapade, circa 1999 or 2000. This photo was from "England," which was country #10 of 11 (and, therefore, drink #10) of our world tour. Drink #11 at Canada sealed the deal for us, and we probably should not have driven home to our rented house in Kissimmee.

Unfortunately, our drunken state here did not cause me to purchase and proudly wear Harry Potter glasses. Sadly, that was a sober decision during my initial glasses-wearing phase.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Deboning in Cambridge

I love how the content of Platinum Elite usually turns to food and eating out during my periods of little travel. I suppose that's much more interesting than hearing about my pains and grunts while watching the P90X DVD's.

Last night, I went to The Blue Room in Kendall Square with Bev and our consultant Daniel. Bev told us a story about dining with Barry White and other radio folk at The Blue Room years ago. Barry was most certainly not there last night.

Lately, I have been eating lots of fish at restaurants. Seems like a pretty healthy alternative to the carbolicious meals I would much rather. After learning that one of their entrees was a whole, fish served whole, I had to check it out.
I did not name this fish, nor remember its actual name (it's a type of bass, I believe). Let's name the fish Jamen. He likes it when I mention him at Platinum Elite.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Applebee's Dorchester

It's easy to be critical of places, especially online where a few minutes, a few thoughts, and a few keystrokes can combine to form a message published for all to see. I am a willing participant.

I had a chance to check out the new Applebee's in Dorchester on Sunday. Chain restaurants don't often generate culinary masterpieces and memorable experiences, and nothing was different about this trip.

What surprised me the most, beyond its cleanliness, was the attitude of the employees. I's a brand new location, and somebody trained the staff well. As a result, when the Dorchester Applebee's employees chose their attitudes, they elected to have fun and smile, be courteous and attentive, and seem to enjoy their work.

In chains - across locations - attitudes can vary tremendously. And who knows? As this location becomes busier, perhaps the pressures of fast turnovers and waiting patrons will catch up with them. But for now, they seem to have begun on the right leg.

Years ago, I learned that you don't have to have a glamorous job to enjoy what you do. I certainly can recall other first-time experiences at new businesses where the employees were more of a turn off than the product was. I'm sure every Applebee's doesn't have happy workers, but for now the one at South Bay Center seems to, which makes their Boneless BBQ Chicken Tenders taste even better.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Why bother?

I'm not a bacteriologist, but I have a feeling that handling cash between food transactions seems to defeat the purpose of wearing rubber gloves.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Use the Force

I kept seeing these R2-D2 mailboxes popping up in the city - I found one on Newbury St. and another outside Symphony Hall on Mass Ave. I saw a website listed on one of them, and learned that the USPS will be issuing a commemorative sheet of Star Wars stamps in conjunction with the film's 30th anniversary.

There's also a fan vote going on, where an individual stamp on the sheet will be made into separate sheets of just that stamp. I voted for Darth Vader. He was always the coolest.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Logan Shuffle

Yesterday morning, I heard about some changes at Logan Airport. Continental Airlines, my old best buddy, will be moving into the spacious and pretty empty Terminal A to share space with its SkyTeam partner Delta. This is most certainly the right move. Continental has many flights to Houston, Newark, and Cleveland every day, along with a number of prop flights to random spots like Saranac Lake, Burlington, Rutland, White Plains, Islip, and Portland. Northwest would be another interesting option for Terminal A as they expand their Logan options and remain a SkyTeam partner.

JetBlue moved into Continental's old Terminal C space, displacing them to two separate areas, and sometimes causing an incredible human logjam within the gate area. When those flights start delaying, and it's late in the afternoon with tons of people waiting, the gate area becomes absolutely packed. I'm sure JetBlue will appreciate the additional space my spreading out their gates into that entire section of Terminal C. I know I will!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Reasons to drink

One of the things I love about living in Boston at this time of year and the few months prior are the limitless excuses to celebrate. Not to trivialize any of the events that these days honor. On the contrary! Boston city folk have a spirit that seeks opportunities to drink, take off, or both.

First snowfall? Go drink.

Blizzard? Drink.

Patriots Super Bowl parade? Take off and Drink (when it happens)

Evacuation Day / St. Patrick's Day? Take off and drink.

The Friday of St. Patrick's Day weekend? Take off early and Drink.

The Saturday of St. Patrick's Day weekend? Drink.

St. Patrick's Day Sunday? Drink. Early and often.

Opening day for the Red Sox? Take off early and Drink.

Red Sox home opener? Skip work and Drink.

Patriot's Day / Marathon Monday? No work. Drink.

Back when my home office was in Los Angeles, they never understood this schedule of events. Then again, I never understood the significance of Oscars Weekend - LA's version of the Super Bowl, being that they have no football team.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

...looks like someone scored a ticket to Opening Day at Fenway today....

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Law of Averages

I am disturbingly predictable.

I’m reading a book that posed 5 questions, similar to those emails that ask you to think of something and then “scroll down” to reveal that what you thought of was already written at the bottom of the email, as if the Internet read your mind.

It stated:

1. Stop reading and hold up 3 fingers of your writing hand.
2. Think of a flower and don’t change your mind.
3. Now think of a piece of furniture.
4. Think of a color.
5. Think of a number between one and ten.

If you want to play along, stop right here before scrolling down.


My answers:

1. I held up fingers 2, 3, and 4 of my right hand.
2. Rose
3. Chair
4. Red
5. Seven

The book then revealed in five simple sentences:

1. The odds are overwhelming that you held up all but your thumb and little finger (96 percent do).
2. Chances are nearly even that you thought of a rose.
3. Chances are one in three that you thought of a chair.
4. With dozens to choose from, chances are over 60 percent that you selected red.
5. Chances are nearly one in four that you thought of seven.

Perhaps it’s time to start switching things up in my life. Maybe it’s time for a new haircut.. Or a trip to somewhere new. Like Iceland.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Piano rock with Cold War Kids

I have this weird love-hate relationship with piano rock music.

For example:

Ben Folds
Coldplay....strongly dislike
The Fray....ugh
Fiona some, hate some

Actually, The Fray deserve a special recognition for sounding whiny, mumbly, and constipated all at the same time.

My new entry into the love category is Cold War Kids. They have a single out called "Hang Me Up To Dry," which is one of my favorite songs from the past few months. It was actually a Free Single of the Week on iTunes a while back, which goes to show how giving something away can lead to fans and $$ (yes, I bought the album). Piano is prominently featured throughout their music, which I believe contributes to its catchiness. All 4 of the songs up on their MySpace page are good.

They are playing 3 sold out shows this weekend in NYC at The Bowery (where I saw Better Than Ezra in 1996), then in a very odd tour schedule, go to LA for one date, then off to the UK.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Yesterday I received my dreaded automobile excise tax bill from the city. I remember the first time I received one of these, I didn't know what it was, as we had no annual auto excise tax when I had my car registered in New York or New Jersey. While I still don't understand where the money goes - most certainly not to pot hole repair on Mass. Ave - I have come to accept it as an unfortunate measure that builds our state's Taxachusetts reputation.

A few years ago, I was horrified to find a $500 excise tax just months after purchasing the car I still drive. It was then that I learned the tax was based on the depreciated value of the car, since when I moved here, my car was in years 6 and 7 of its life, and the tax was miniscule.

While I still believe I have lots of value in my '03 Jeep with 56,000 miles, the city seems to think it's worth just $2,800, and has therefore charged me just $70 excise tax this year. No argument here.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Always trust Jane Curtin

Tonight we headed to CF Donovan's in Dorchester for trivia night with Brian, Kelly, Meaghan, Dan, and two of B&K's friends Jesse and Hillary. I hadn't played team trivia in a while, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Usually the games are pretty cutthroat. We were falsely lulled into its simplicity with a couple high finishes the first few times we played a couple years ago, but the past few occasions had been a different story. The concept has really picked up throughout Boston, and the general level of people knowing useful and useless items in this city is rather high.

Tonight was a team effort. Everybody contributed. Two of my most random correct answers were to the questions "What country did Hooters recently announce their plans to open a new location?" (Israel), and "What movie holds the record for featuring 15 past, current or future (at the time) Saturday Night Live actors, the most of any movie?" (Coneheads).

I have never been to Israel, nor seen Coneheads. I'm not even sure where the Coneheads answer came from, but it was literally a knee-jerk reaction for me after having heard the question. Unfortunately, our lack of confidence in the Coneheads answer caused us to wager too few points and finish second. Our thinking was that we were wrong, and the other teams at the top would also get the question wrong causing us to back into first place.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Four of today's events

I find it odd that after hundreds and hundreds of thousands of frequent flier miles on Continental, I'm oddly more excited about the 100 True Blue points I accrued recently, leading to the free roundtrip with which JetBlue rewarded me today.

I bought a yoga mat today after work, and was told by the cashier that the mat I selected was "pretty hardcore." I just hope that my hardcore yoga mat sees the bottom of my butt more than the interior of my storage closet. That's up to me, I suppose.

My accountant told me that I cannot write off my HDTV. I still think it's justified with my employment situation, but I can see how that would be a red flag.

My drive to Kenmore took an additional 5 minutes due to some new construction project just east of Kenmore square on top of the Kenmore public transit project mess that looks nowhere near completed. The "No Parking" signs are valid until May 31st. Fun. Traffic off Storrow looks to be the most adversely affected. Should make for some fun drives to Sox games by folks from the burbs.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Go Meat - WOOOO!

I love the Asian woman in this commercial - her emotions / actions go from bored to startled to excited to thrilled to exuberant in a mere 15 seconds! I believe I watched this with Ryan about 10 times on my DVR today.