Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Quality evening programming

I have this strange fascination with television shows about drug use and addicts.

At Meaghan and Dan's Boston wedding celebration a few years ago, I happened to be speaking with a woman who mentioned that her son was a producer for a show that was on A&E. I asked which show, and almost jumped atop her when she informed me that it was Intervention (my favorite show at the time).

I sat down this evening to scan through my viewing options in my DVR, and right after finishing an episode of High Stakes Poker, I went immediately to the Lisa Ling-hosted documentary on National Geographic HD about meth use. Poker and drugs. Not exactly the kind of stuff I'd see on According to Jim, a show I have no interest watching.

It's weird - I don't do drugs. Never have. Not even pot. Not once. Not even at a place like Brown, where pretty much everyone smoked up.

Truly, I think this interest is a self-esteem builder that makes my petty gripes seem trivial, when the alternative could be rotting teeth from meth mouth and track marks.


I'm here crunching some numbers at work, and one of my dreams from last night just popped back into my head. How odd.

In my past life, I was a radio DJ. Nothing zany, just an alternative rock jock back in the 90's, before the format exploded. I had the good fortune to be on the air during modern rock's renaissance - Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam - I played stuff from each of their first or second CD's when the were just released.

So, my dream last night involved Pearl Jam. For some reason, I was back on the air, and had to interview them for a gig they were playing in Providence. I was completely unprepared, and had not operated the equipment and console in years, so my studio engineering skills were terrible. I didn't know where the microphone pot was on the board, and I didn't know where their mike pots were. To top it off, I introduced them as Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready - only problem was that I was interviewing Eddie and Stone Gossard.

How could I have dreamt all of that?!

Shorter commute

My usual 25 minute drive from Southie to Kenmore took just about 15 minutes today. I LOVED the lack of cards parked on Berkeley St. past Columbus, and the complete absence of double-parked large vehicles or road work (both common sights). I am used to having to play Spy Hunter during my drive in, weaving in and out of lanes, and smokescreening or oil slicking idiots behind me (fine, not really). I would, however, like those side wheel spikes that the bad guy car used to break out.

My vote is for a large parade every day if it shaves 40% of my commute time.

FYI - anyone reading this interested in checking out the parade from Kenmore, there is plenty of open metered parking on our street (Bay State Road), which is between Beacon and Storrow. Parking there now and remaining through the parade will likely elicit a parking ticket, but the penalty is probably not much more than parking in a lot. Just a handy tip.

Monday, October 29, 2007

For a change, it's not about the Yankees

I'm bowing out of Red Sox discussions for the next few weeks.

I behaved gracefully during the postseason while the Sox deservedly won it all and my underachieving team from New York continued spinning its wheels, the members of which attempted to steal media time from the Sox with the manager, A-Rod, and remaining free agent fiascoes.

For a change, it's not about the Yankees. It's about the Red Sox. It's Boston's time to shine.

Perhaps the Yanks should return to the blueprint of the late 90's - building a team organically with young talent, kind of like what the Sox look like now. That sounds like a decent plan that might bear fruit in a couple years.

So, I have a good five or six months before I have to think about the Yankees again, time away from them and the rivalry that I require for my sanity.

Congrats to the Sox and the fans.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hanging Chads

Just how, exactly, did the Yoda stamp defeat the Darth Vader stamp?

Darth was a shoe-in.
This smells of Gore-Bush in 2000 all over again.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Lunch in the Seaport

We had a 90 minute break for lunch, so I strolled over to Seaport Blvd. to find some semblance of human life outside of the BCEC. There appears to be some type of Halloween expo at the World Trade Center Boston, unless children who wander the South Boston Waterfront usually do so in Batman costumes and witch costumes.

I had a lobster roll here. It was quite good.

On the walk back to the BCEC, I stumbled upon the rarest or wire sculpture demons - The Southie Ness Monster. I ran up the staircase quickly to evade capture.

Overheard at PodCamp

While I understand what this means...

"Will you be posting these links on your Wiki?"

I have never uttered those words in that order. But, I did just hear them.

BTW - This is posting #300 on Platinum Elite. Another milestone!

Virtual drinking

A guy just spoke about SecondLife (I should check this out too...especially after seeing that Dwight Schrute has an avatar on there, but between online poker and SecondLife, I would be fearful of my avoiding in-person human contact altogether, outside of my job).

He has a virtual SecondLife bar in SecondLife Boston that he claims is popular.

I suppose hitting up virtual bars is a good way to stay relatively sober.

Playing Catch Up

Second post from PodCamp, so I suppose I am live blogging.

I have already seen two guys in what seem to be kilts (though one is arguably a dude in a skirt). I have heard one of them speak during a session, and he sounds to be from the UK of Isles, so he gets a free pass. The other, however...

I feel entirely lame to have a Dell computer here, when everyone else has Apple MacBook Pros. The cult of Apple is intimidating. I might have to join.

During my first session (Web 2.0 Tools That Are Actually Useful), I learned about a number of webapps that seem useful, such as Jott - the voice-to-text application, and GrandCentral - the phone number aggregator. A gent named Scott Monty gave the presentation, and he seems to be an upstanding guy.

Someone from PodCamp TV grabbed me for an on-camera interview after the session, I'm assuming because I am that photogenic (and not because I was the first person to walk past her table).

Everyone here seems to use Twitter. I need to get on that.

Someone just referred to the years 1999/2000 as "Way Back"

(Kind of) Live Blogging from PodCamp

It's a rainy, foggy, miserable day here in Boston. Perfect time for a new media convention!

I'm at PodCamp 2 (I suppose this posting counts as a "live blogging" post, should I decide to follow it up with repeated updates....which I probably won't do). PodCamp 2 is a free podcasting, blogging, and new media convention at the BCEC (Boston Convention & Expo Center).

Today is my first time at the BCEC. This building is gigantic - as imposing inside as it is outside. I have driven past it countless times, as I also live in South Boston and, depending on how I drive home, it's along the way.

This convention had all the makings of my being here:

1. It's free
2. It's literally down the street from where I live
3. It's at the BCEC, and I was always curious about this building
4. It's easy to learn new things at conventions filled with smart people with lots of ideas.

I remember reading about a breakfast at the Starbucks in the Westin lobby, so I arrived a bit early to get my bearings, then wandered over to the Starbucks just in time - all of the food and coffee was being picked up by one of PodCamp's Silver Sponsors (CMaccess). I would be lying if that didn't factor into my decision to skip a drip coffee for an overexplosion of pumpkin choices (grande pumpkin spice latte and a slice of pumpkin loaf)

Friday, October 26, 2007

I won a free facial

I have had a busy few days, and this weekend will be no exception with PodCamp at the BCEC, the World Series (fine...I'm watching it), and possibly something to celebrate Chris' birthday.

To recap:

1. Dinner and drinks Tuesday night at The Playwright with Bev, who happened to be in town this week and dropped me a last-minute email to see if we could catch up and see my Italy pics (yes, she actually wanted to see them all and loved them!!) A few Stoli and sodas seem to make 700+ pics fly by.

2. After Doug's invite-turn-uninvite to watch the game at his place (fine, he did get a ticket last-minute), I watched from home and played a 117 player $30+$3 buy-in poker tournament online. I finished 11th, and won back my $33 plus about 10 bucks. First place was over $1,000, so there was quite a rise in prize money within the Top 10. I played well, but not well enough. Still, that was the deepest I had made it in a field that large. I have won a number of 45-person tournaments. I still like the No-Limit cash games better.

3. Blogtoberfest last night at The Pour House was fun. It's nice to meet other bloggers, some of whom write blogs that I read regularly. The crowd was mixed with randoms like myself who say a whole lot about nothing (but people seem to enjoy reading it) to folks who make plenty of cash money from their blogs, or referral work from people who discover them through their blogs. Jenny did a great job organizing it!

4. I won a gift certificate for a facial at Viva Skin Care Center in Burlington. There was a free raffle at Blogtoberfest, and I figured my odds were good to win something given the amount of attendees (maybe 30-40?) and the amount of prizes (there were about 10 of them). I kind of played it off last night as "ha ha, I won a facial," but....I am shamelessly quite happy with my forthcoming buffing, moisturizing, or whatever happens during a facial.

5. The Go! Team at Paradise last night. Sold out show. I went with Karin and Debbie, and we watched from the balcony (which had plenty of room to stand and even room for more people...I'm assuming the fire code's definition of "sold out" is far less than what the venue would have liked to have stuffed inside). Great show - I was amazed that all of their music, much of which I thought were samples and crafted in recording studios, was actually people playing instruments and singing. For some reason, I did not have the image of a full band. Everyone in the group seemed to play instruments in a rotating order - 2 drummers, then all of a sudden one drummer is singing and the other is on guitar, and Ninja (the singer) is now on drums, wait the drummer is now playing a recorder, now one of those blow keyboards, wait is that a double-dutch chant?...that's The Go! Team.

6. I took the T home last night, and again took it to work. That in itself should not be an event, but for those who know me (either off line or solely through Platinum Elite), it's always an adventure. I almost forgot to get off at Park Street to transfer to the Green Line, and then on the Green Line train I stood next to crazy dancing guy.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Why MSN blows and Google is worth 675.82 per share

I love how Google has become a verb - similar to Tivo (or now DVR) and Xerox. Yahoo has not become a verb. MSN most certainly is not a verb. But Google is.

I Googled Platinum Elite this morning on the three big search engine guns (aside - wow, I just realized that I am "Googling" things on Yahoo - that's like going down south, where "Coke" is synonymous with "soda," so you can have a Sprite Coke) to see what I came up with, and to my surprise, a search on "platinum elite" returned Platinum Elite (i.e. this blog, platinumelite.blogspot.com) as #1 on Google, #1 on Yahoo, and nowhere to be seen on the first page of MSN. I have checked out my ranking in the past, and usually hovered around #2 or #3 natural search on Google, but never #1.

Does MSN just have their head in the sand in terms of Blogger users, bitter that they don't own the ubiquitous blogspot.com domain, perhaps? How can they be so off? I was indeed searching exactly for what Google and Yahoo returned as their #1 listing, and MSN wasn't even close. Search engines are only as good as how precisely they can return relevant search results based on queries.

Why do I care? I just think it's kind of fun to be ranked so high on this search term, simply because I do nothing to optimize the site, and especially because it's the status level for frequent fliers in at least two major airlines' programs (Continental and Northwest).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Red Trevi Fountain

Pretty wild shot of the Trevi Fountain's water dyed red in protest of something (I did not take this picture - I believe it happened today).

The water is not supposed to be this color.

Grammar Police - Under arrest: infraction

Just returned from a late lunch at Game On! near Fenway

Walking in at 2:30 - there were indications of a large event in the vicinity this evening

Walking out at 3:15 - tons of people already, the party has begun

I took this picture of a sign inside of Game On! If the world is watching, I hope they don't understand the proper usage of adverbs.

My opinions count

Out of the blue yesterday, I had a voicemail on my cell phone from a market research recruiting company about an upcoming focus group here in Boston. She mentioned the date, time, length, and amount it paid ($150 for 2 hours - not bad!), and to call her back if I was interested.

I Googled the company who called, and it looks like they aren't based here, and are likely doing some recruiting for a few different markets (since when I called back, I had to reference the Boston study and give the study code).

Now, I conducted focus groups for many years in my old job, so I understand the process way too well. There's a few pre-qualification questions during the recruiting to ensure that respondents don't work in particular industries (potentially, thereby, skewing the data), and that they fit the profile of who should be included in the project (i.e. I'm probably the wrong audience for Depends, feminine hygiene products, and Bentley owners).

But, I'm an honest guy, and was genuinely curious as to the type of study for which I was contacted. I assumed it was a project for a company who had my cell phone number and that they were recruiting off of a customer list supplied by the end customer.

I answered the first question, asking if I worked for a market research, credit card, or advertising agency (while I used to work for a market research company, technically I don't now). Including "credit card" in that question gave me a hint about the focus group's topic.
The next question, however, made me very happy. "Are you a member of Continental Airlines' OnePass Frequent Flyer program?" Well, why yes I am! I neglected to mention the name of this blog (aka my former status with OnePass for years).

The remaining pre-recruit questions were about the amount of trips I took, types of credit cards I possessed, and how important earning miles, upgrades, First Class seats, and the sort were to me. I answered everything truthfully, and I qualified.

I know, this sounds rather dorky, but I am very much looking forward to being on the other side of the moderator during a Focus Group, especially one for Continental Airlines (IF that's who is conducting this - it could be for one of their major competitors in a fact-finding mission, I suppose)! I have flown with Continental consistently for almost a decade, and it's going to be nice to express my thoughts to their marketing team.

I even promised myself that I will not dominate the conversation, contrary to what most who know me personally might think.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Horse butts

Horse butts, originally uploaded by southiejason.

I am a bit amused that of all 180 photos I have posted to Flickr, this one is my most viewed.

#21 in Flea Markets

I saw this great list online - Travel + Leisure's Favorite Cities 2007

They had residents and visitors rank 25 US cities on a number of categories, and included most of the typical large cities along with a few that made me scratch my head as to why they were on the list (Santa Fe?)

Boston scored highest in:

#2 Sports Fan's Vacation
#2 Classical Music
#3 Notable Neighborhoods
#3 Historic Sites / Monuments
#3 Antique Shopping
#4 Pizza (I could not disagree more)
#4 Worldly People

We're trailing in:

#24 Food / Dining - Barbecue (I totally agree)
#24 Weather
#21 Flea Markets
#21 Friendly

While I enjoy Redbone's and Tennessee's BBQ here in the area, we're pretty devoid of a full list of great barbecue places.

As for #21 Friendly - I think this city is tough to break into if you don't know anybody. But once you do, I feel that things change dramatically. Unfortunately, bringing those new friends to flea markets is a tall task here in Boston

Monday, October 22, 2007

Attack monkeys

At least we can safely cross this off our list of ways to meet our maker here in Boston - falling from balconies due to wild monkey attacks.

East 8th & Winfield

East 8th & Winfield, originally uploaded by southiejason.

I saw this great photo op right outside of my window.

I am still learning the basics of Flickr, but I was amazed that within minutes of my posting this shot on there, it had 9 views. While I still have a ton of pics to upload and tag, there are a number of shots up there ready for killing lots of time at work today after a late night of revelry.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Refunds at Jordan's?

I don't know how well-publicized this tidbit is these days, but should the Sox win tonight, and then go on to win the World Series, Jordan's Furniture has a lot of refunds to issue.

What a great publicity stunt for Jordan's if they have to make good on their Spring promotion. Huge Word of Mouth could be at stake for them.

I'm assuming the company with whom they purchased the insurance policy are the true die hard Indians fans tonight!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Running From Camera

This guy's blog made me laugh out loud at work. Thanks to Karin for emailing me the link.

He states the rules quite clearly...

"The rules are simple: I put the self-timer on 2 seconds, push the button and try to get as far from the camera as I can."

Thanks, Joe Torre

Maybe I'm being a bit disloyal, but I'm ready for a change.
Joe Torre could do no wrong in the minds of many Yankees fans. The Daily News says it all on its cover - tons of success during his time at the helm.
He's a beloved figure who brought honor back to the Yankees franchise. From the time I began watching them in 1980 or 1981 through my college graduation, they were an average team at best. You could show up any day or night of the week and buy a good ticket, and watch the game with 27,000 others in a stadium less than half-filled (imagine being able to do that at Fenway during ANY game). Sox tickets are gold. Back then, Yankees tickets were no big deal.
I remember entering every season with unequivocable optimism - Mattingly, Winfield, Guidry, Righetti, Randolph - those were the stars. The rest of the cast came and went every year , and looking back at some of those rosters of names, they're filled with people I haven't thought about since my baseball card collecting days.
I remember being heartbroken in 1994, when the Yanks were running away with the AL East, only to have the player strike cancel the World Series.
I remember luckily scoring a pair of tickets through Ticketmaster for Game 1 of the 1995 AL Wild Card and sitting with my father in the bleachers during the first home playoff game at Yankee Stadium since I began following the team. I remember the heart-crushing 11th inning of Game 5 in Seattle, and Ken Griffey Jr. rounding 3rd to score just ahead of the tag at home.
Sox fans - think Aaron Boone in 2003. That's how I felt.
I remember openly weeping when the Yankees finally won it all with their dream team of 1996, Torre's first year as manager. Jeter, Pettitte, Wetteland, Bernie, O'Neill, Tino, Rivera, Posada. These guys were heroes to Yankees fans.
Sox fans - think 2004. That's how I felt.
But I see this like a mutual fund report - whatever the language is about past results not guaranteeing future performance.
It's time for some restructuring. Under new management is often an indicator that an organization is actively changing. One (well, me) might hope that change is evolution rather than regression.
After 2000, 4 World Series titles in 5 years, the Yankees and the Yankees fans became complacent. It was too easy. It was a given. Even in 2001, it was expected that they win (and...they were America's team that year with the events of 9/11, and the whole world getting behind New York. Even Byung-Hung Kim's meltdowns were part of the destined story. The Yankees were supposed to win again. Somehow, they didn't).
From that point onward, the only exciting playoff success I can recall is the 2003 series with the Sox. Winning that felt like the series. It was just kind of odd that they lost the World Series. I bet most Sox fans don't even remember who beat the Yanks that year (it was Florida, with Josh Beckett on the mound for the final game).
Let's see what another manager can bring. It's been seven years of playoff disappointment for the Yankees and their fans. For Yankees Nation, that's far too long.
I'm ready for a new dance partner. The Torre era is over. Thanks, Joe.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Go! Team - Doing It Right

Blogtoberfest and The Go! Team

The Boston blog world seems to be a pretty vibrant one with the amount of links to local blogs from sites like UniversalHub, The Menu Pages, and Bostonist (the first two of which link to me on occasion - what's up bloggers!)

Somewhere in the mix, I heard about Blogtoberfest at The Pour House on Boylston St. next Thursday night at 6pm. I just signed up this afternoon. I'm looking forward to meeting a few of the other Bloggers in town, some of whom I probably have bookmarked, others may become new blogmigos.

Actually, the 25th is going to be a busy night for me because Karin just bought tickets for The Go! Team show at Paradise Rock Club. Even though their second CD basically sounds just like their first one, it's quite an interesting high-energy sound that's unbelievably catchy - mashups of horns, 70's movie music, double dutch chants, drums, samples, and a British rapper chick named Ninja. I posted one of their new videos in the preceding post.

My shepherd

I'm doing something entirely mindless at work today - lots of entering numbers into a spreadsheet I built for tracking purposes. So, I'm ensconsed (begrudgingly) in Excel and (happily) in my ipod.

The last three songs that have played on shuffle have been Christian pop/rock songs. Perhaps God is telling me to hang in there.

Unfortunately, God was not with me during my final swig of Starbucks coffee this morning, the composition of which was 60% cold coffee and 40% coffee grounds.

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My evenings during the playoffs

So after the Yankees elected not to show up to the playoffs (as exhibited by most of their post-season escapades since 2001), I vowed that I was done watching baseball this year. But that was a veiled threat. The Sox are still the center of socializing here in town, and I can rather choose to be a grump and not spend time with friends during the games, or suck it up and watch the games.

Friday night, we went to Doug's house and I brought my laptop (because uploading and tagging to Flickr was a far more interesting proposition than actually watching the game). It was just nice to be out with friends. The game didn't interest me.

Now before last night's game, I figured I would flip over to FOX ever so often during the game just to see how good Cleveland really was. Once I saw that the score was 7-1 in the 5th inning, I concluded that Cleveland was indeed THAT GOOD and I returned to my DVR, cruising through a couple Sarah Silverman shows, and watching a recent VH1 Rock Honors featuring Heart, Ozzy Osbourne, ZZ Top, and a shockingly bad Genesis (who have some GREAT songs, but sounded awful at that particular performance).

I don't understand why there's an off day tonight in the middle of a series in the same city. I guess FOX wants big ratings on a Thursday evening against all the big shows on the other networks (if Thursday was an off night, FOX would be conceding the ratings to the others).

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Jamen Edition

I was e-yelled at by Jamen yesterday for not posting pictures of him in Italy. Apparently, on Saturday night, I told him I would post about him first thing Monday morning, and it must have escaped me. So now, I present Jamen (aka "TAKE MY PICTURE, TAKE MY PICTURE")

I'm really digging the monochrome shots. The unposed ones of Jamen are pretty much the only ones where he looks different, because he definitely has a camera face that, when presented a photo op, he never ceases to wear. This was at the Roman Forum, undoubtedly contemplating some gelato.
I love this shot too - everybody in Pisa takes a picture of them "holding up" the Leaning Tower. I guess it's the fault of the photographer when a subject is improperly positioned, but I did this on purpose. Insert Southern intellect comment here. Just kidding.

Positano, one of the highlights. After a delicious meal, we of course had limoncello sitting cliffside overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. This was my first official limoncello, as Ryan bought a bottle in Rome, but gave me a swig of it at room temperature. It tasted like cough medicine. Here, however, served ice cold, it was perfect.

Moments later, Jamen put on his limoncello face, which he also wore on Saturday night when he dropped by and Ryan, he, and I cracked open one of the bottles I packed in my luggage.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007


Farmacia, originally uploaded by southiejason.

We never stopped in any of these farmacias, but they seemed to be ubiquitous throughout each of the major cities we hit.

Originally, I took this picture in B&W, but it appeared much too dark. I added a sepia filter effect using Picasa (Google's very cool free downloadable photo organizing and editing software), and ended up with this. I try not to add too many effects to my photos, but digital darkrooms are amazing and can truly turn lemons into lemonade.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Lonely bicycle

Lonely bicycle, originally uploaded by southiejason.

I remember the exact time in Italy that I discovered the power of monochrome photos with my Canon DSLR camera. I missed the Tuscan bike tour after a late night of debauchery, and went to lunch in Siena with Ryan (who also missed the tour).

The beauty of that moment is the world of interesting photo ops it created for me, as Italian cities in particular scream out at the prospect of being captured in black and white or sepia tone.

Here's a simple picture of a bicycle I snapped in Florence during a walking tour. Sometimes the best pics are not of monuments, people, or famous places. It's the unplanned moment, the quick composition, or the lucky shot that make for the great photos.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Bizarre pocket deuces

I'm not super tired yet after being attentive during a long drive back in the pouring rain from New Jersey this evening. So I am up late playing poker. Again.

The weirdest thing just happened which makes me a tad suspicious and freaked out.

I'm playing three tables consecutively, and at the same time, I was dealt pocket deuces on all three tables. Not the same exact two deuces, but simply two deuces (with four suits, there are 6 ways to receive pocket deuces). There are 169 different starting hands that can be dealt to a player during hold 'em (pocket deuces are one of these 169, not six. taking all two-card combinations into account, there are 1,326 of those).
What are the odds that the same starting hand would be dealt to one player at the same time while playing three tables? I'm thinking (1/169) x (1/169) x (1/169) = (1/4,826,809) = .000021%. Could that be?
I did make a set of two's on the flop on one of those boards (i.e. I got a third 2 when the first three community cards were revealed at one table) and won a nice pot as a result. The other two hands were folds, but the net of all three tables was great.
Too much to think about. maybe it is time for bed. I'm hearing thunder in the distance and a lightning strike might be up my alley.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

1 year of Platinum Elite

Wow, it just kind of dawned to me that today is the 1 year anniversary of Platinum Elite, and this is posting #276. Looking back, it's quite amazing to me that I kept up with posting here, but it's not a shocker that I had a lot to say (about nothing in particular I might add, come to think of it).

Nonetheless, I'm a bit busy with work today, so the anniversary posting will have to be short.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Nice to see you too!

I am visiting my parents this evening, and during dinner my father commented that I was looking "husky," and that at 32 years of age he (who now has a big pot belly) was thinner than I am.

Bringing order to my memories

I just joined another photo community yesterday - Flickr. I probably should have been on there a while ago, but now have finally come around to it. The site is an excellent social network / photo community, much more than a photo depository such as Photobucket.

The challenge now is getting started - uploading the photos I would like to share, tagging them, naming them, and giving brief descriptions of each. Really, it just takes some time to do. Working late and falling asleep early makes that a difficult endeavor. But once that is all set up, I will share the link to my Flickr profile.

It's a personality trait of mine, but I enjoy things that are in order. Perhaps that's a twinge OCD. Nonetheless, my itunes is organized well, and now it's time do do the same with my photos. Right now, I have them categorized into photos (and a general "Unassigned" folder that I really need to go through soon - it's the "junk drawer" of photos that I just haven't taken the time to put in the right spots).

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


During my time with my present job, I have been asked to post a number of our open positions for my company on Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com.

Somehow I have ended up sorted into one of their database distribution lists that thinks I'm also looking for a new job in Southern California.

My favorite position on this list is as a Tortilleria Clerk in Lynwood, California. I have always had a strong affinity for flattening corn meal, all day long.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Who is in charge of marketing at Sonic?

While I understand that Sonic is indeed a national chain of fast food joints, and I realize that there are people watching the TBS broadcast of the Yanks-Indians series who do not live in Cleveland or New York, isn't it still a bit of an inefficient marketing spend when the closest Sonic restaurant to Cleveland is 108.77 miles away, and the closest one to New York City is 105.83 miles away from in Morgantown, PA (which is 292.25 miles from Southie)?

I'm sure their burgers are tasty, but not worth that kind of drive!


I decided to check out some XM Radio this morning at work, and landed on U-POP Channel 29, which is always good for some interesting hits from non-US countries.

They just played this song, which I learned (after a couple quick Google searches) was a top-charting hit in Germany a couple years ago.

I definitely prefer this to anything by Sean Kingston.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Back on the Sauce

I did something this weekend that I haven't done in quite some time.

I cooked a fresh pot of sauce.

It just felt right today - lazy Sunday, big sports day, a bit chilly outside. The perfect combo for a pot of sauce with meatballs and sausage.

Growing up, Sunday meals almost always included something with homemade tomato sauce (but, like many Italian households, we sometimes called it "gravy"). And every month or so, my parents cooked up a big pot of sauce to be used that evening, but primarily frozen for meals throughout the following few weeks.

During my senior year at college, I had an off-campus apartment with two friends, and we were off meal plan for both semesters. I remember having my mother write up the sauce recipe and fax it to the radio station where I worked (they didn't have email yet). I still have that same exact fax, and although I know the bulk of the recipe, I pulled it out today just to be sure I was all set.

I used to make sauce all the time when I lived in NJ, and when I had roommates in the South End before moving into Southie (where we resurrected big meal Sundays and my roommate Mike and I had an undeclared yet understood ongoing culinary competition).

I think I moved away from the sauce during my many attempts to restrict carbs. After my trip last week, however, I learned that you just can't truly take the macaroni out of the Italians.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Drinking helps with the losses

I am a bit drained after yesterday's game (I'm referring to the Yankees latest playoff loss), and it is becoming evident to me that the Yanks of the 2000's simply cannot win in the playoffs. They were big game players and a big game team back from 1996-2000, but besides the ALCS against Boston where they actually won, the Yankees cannot get the job done. It's quite heartening to watch a team for 6 months fall apart during one final week, but I am getting used to it.

Part of me is tempted to burn my Yanks hat and shirt, because when I wear them, they never seem to win. But, I can't get myself to doing that. The 1980's were worse for them, and I was able to stomach through.

Even after last night's disappointment, I'm happy to be home for a weekend. Plus, it's nice to be back in Boston during a weekend AND be off the wagon (drinking makes the losses easier to take). Summer Lent is over, and the last time I had a sip of booze here in Boston during a weekend was eight weekends ago.

I'm glad we have some decent weather today - I might grab my camera again and head downtown.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Childhood Exuberance

Sometimes it's the random and unplanned photos that are the ones that make you smile.
I love the sheer look of excitement and discovery on this child's face while kicking a soccer ball outside of the Duomo in Orvieto, Italy.
Click on the photo for a closer look.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Déjà vu

When I traveled to Italy twelve years ago, my flight was my first solo flight and first overseas flight. It was also at the advent of email, Internet websites and message boards, and before cell phones were ubiquitous.

So I could understand my father's concern when he was putting his son on a flight to a foreign land by himself, with the promise of meeting his already-having-flown-over friends outside of the American Express office at the Spanish Steps in Rome at a designated time.

Back then, we were backpacking, which usually involved showing up in a new city by train without a place to sleep that night. My first night in Italy was nothing different, only that I was not 100% guaranteed to meet my travel mates.

Somehow, I had the smarts to post on some random AOL travel forum, asking how to get from Rome's airport to the Spanish Steps via public transit. Somebody replied with a lengthy and detailed step-by-step description of how to accomplish this feat. I remember showing the printout to my father, and having to answer questions about the Internet, message boards, who this random person was giving directions, and why I should trust them.

During our first night in Rome, we did a brief walking tour that took us to the very spot I met my friends over twelve years ago. Lots of Déjà vu to have returned to that spot.
And this restaurant was the very first dining establishment at which we ate during that first trip, again twelve years later.
I distinctly recall my friend Andrea speaking in Spanish to the server, and my being amazed that Spanish was close enough to Italian that she was able to communicate effectively speaking it in Italy. At the time, I knew zero Spanish, so I could not join in, but that moment was likely my motivation to break into terrible Spanish every so often during this tour in an effort to communicate when English didn't work.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Portraits in Italy

My body clock is definitely still off, since I crashed around 9:15 last night, went to bed, and woke up without alarm at 5am. I am taking advantage of my wacky body schedule to hit the gym before work, and I'm 2 for 2 thus far.

So, I haven't had the chance to review the photos at length just yet, but there are many good ones. I love this Canon Digital SLR, and I am becoming more comfortable using it.

I admit, I like having my picture taken (these days - mostly chest up, however, as I work off the gelato that is my midsection). The issue of taking pictures with a good camera that is mine, is that I'm not in many of them. And the ones I am in aren't usually the best shots, since someone else is usually taking those pictures. They are not awful, but I can notice some focus or lighting issues.

For example: me, Trevi fountain, good but the background is a touch out of focus.

Whereas, here's a shot of Jamen (aka "Take my picture!! Take my Picture!!") in Positano, where I reduced the depth of field to focus better on the subject (i.e. him).

Or this shot of Ryan outside the Colosseum. I thought it merited a monochrome shot because of the stark colors and magnitude of the building.

Or this one of Chris, which is one of my favorite portrait shots of the whole trip. For some reason, I nailed it with the shallow depth of focus but recognizable background (Duomo in Florence), sepia monochrome, and good pose of the subject.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Back in the USA

I'm happy to say that I have returned from Tuscany - a little more cultured, a little fatter, and having enjoyed plenty of adult beverages during my time away. To my surprise, I had no bare-knuckle fights with Jamen, Chris, and Ryan. As far as I can tell, we are still friends - always a question mark when traveling with people who had never been travel companions.

The Contiki tour was great, and our time on the Amalfi coast after the tour was even better. Between the hectic schedule of the tour, and the difficulty finding reliable Internet access (even in the big cities), I completely ignored email, posting to Platinum Elite, and the news in general. That was oddly gratifying, but now I find myself with a full DVR of season premieres, and a packed Inbox.

Catching up, I learned that the Mets blew their lead in the NL East, Miss Moneypenny died, the Giants defense suddenly awoke, the Yanks lost the division but thankfully avoided yet another first round exit by Anaheim by pairing up against Cleveland, and that limoncello rocks (OK, that's not really news...but still true).

I have tons of pictures to wade through, and will post some along with Italy stories later this week.