I can't admit to being the hugest Halloween fan. The last time I dressed up in costume was 2001, after first having moved to Boston I convinced Mike, Brian, and Kelly to be The Iron Chefs with me. Naturally, my costume had an Italian flair. I seem to recall having written Japanese characters on my forearms (because of course all Japanese chefs tattooed their forearms with characters from their alphabet).
Back in New York, we referred to last night - the night before Halloween as Gate Night (aka Mischief Night in other parts). I haven't bumped into anyone else who refers to it as Gate Night. Regardless, there was always a concern that our house would get egged or yard toilet-papered by local trouble-makers. I haven't surveyed the damage in Southie just yet, as Rosie's walk will be in a few minutes.
For a neighborhood with lots of kids, I never seem to get trick-or-treaters, so I have given up on buying candy and instead occupy my time out and about with friends. Thankfully, it's also Chris' 30's Birthday today (finally), and we're going to The Melting Pot for dinner. I am very excited for this, as my journey to The Melting Pot earlier this year was excellent.
But, to all dirty nurses, zombie mechanics, and Sarah Palins out there, Happy Halloween.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Posted by Jason at 7:33 AM
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Hey Boston Sanitation Division,
Nice job on East 7th St. yesterday....
East 8th looks great too....
But I think you forgot the poor folks...
...on Winfield Street.
How do you miss an entire street of trash?
Shall I assume that this will remain as such until next Wednesday morning?
Let's hope not.
Perhaps you were hoping that Southie's raccoon and skunk population would migrate to our fair East Side community?
I do, however, appreciate the link on your website to report a missed trash pickup. Who knew you had that?
I just sent you an email. Perhaps you could dispatch a truck later? Thanks so much.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
OK, this sucker goes straight into the WTF category.
On Sunday night during Rosie's final walk, I saw her stop and sniff something in the gutter along the curb on Columbia Road. It appeared to be a sock.
Now Rosie is quite a scavenger. She's always looking under cars, in the grass, and on the street for things to eat. Chicken bones, bread, and crackers appear to be her favorite finds.
I didn't think much of this sock-like object until yesterday morning, when we were walking past that same spot, and I looked down to find what appears to be some type of fish.
What is this thing?
How could a fish be in the gutter along Columbia Road?
It's not like the entire area was flooded by Dorchester Bay and this poor guy didn't make it back. I know we had a pretty major storm come through on Saturday night, with pounding rain and heavy winds. But could the storm have carried this fish-thing a good 200 yards from the water to where I found it?
It looks like one of those creatures in the fish tanks at Super 88, awaiting an untimely fate as part of some Asian cuisine. Perhaps someone bought this but dropped it before making it back to the kitchen?
I don't get it.
What is this??
If I start seeing locusts, I'm driving to Canada.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Yesterday I prepared an insane amount of food. I'm not quite sure why.
I had a steak defrosting, and for some reason, I had the urge to cook a pot of sauce. I hadn't done that in eons, and pots of sauce were always Sunday traditions in my household growing up.
Most certainly, I was craving a big meal of carbs and calories. My fat pants and shorts are quite loose these days (good thing), so I figured a few excessive meals of yore were deserved.
Off to the supermarket I went for the ingredients and accompanying meat products - boneless pork ribs, sweet and hot sausages, and ground beef and turkey for meatballs.
Technically, I don't need to cook again this week. There's tons of baked ziti in the fridge, and about eight containers of sauce now frozen. No wonder why I never grew up a stick figure - to me, this was a normal and typical Sunday - football, macaronis, meat, and probably a full-octane Coca Cola to wash it down.
Posted by Jason at 7:17 AM
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Three miscellaneous things I have learned / realized over the past week:
1. Rosie loves acorn squash, but continues to hate most other vegetables.
2. Sipping a Bombay Sapphire martini on the couch around 10pm has twice caused me to fall asleep blissfully.
3. In a month, I'll be the same distance age-wise from 50 as I will be from 18.
Posted by Jason at 8:23 AM
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Yesterday we had a fire at our office building.
I did not see flames or smell smoke, but the fire alarm went off around 4:55 pm, and persisted long enough for me to realize that I should probably evacuate the building.
I grabbed my coat, wallet, and keys, and walked down three flights of stairs (feeling doors for warmth along the way).
When I exited the building, I saw pretty much nobody else.
While we don't have all that many companies and employees in my building, we certainly have more than just myself.
Fire alarms are blaring. Didn't you learn anything in high school, people? Quietly leave the building in an orderly fashion, and move onto the grassy area outside the building until it's safe to return.
After about 3-5 more minutes, other employees began ambling outside the front doors.
I called a co-worker and was like "uh, you might want to come outside, there's fire trucks here."
I walked around the back to learn that most of the evacuees ended up in that parking lot, including Karin and Sean, both of whom were already sitting in their cars and decided to leave shortly thereafter - the perfect excuse to leave right around 5pm!
Posted by Jason at 6:56 AM
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
My parents and I are on a pretty regular schedule of speaking once each week on Sunday mornings, with occasional calls sprinkled into the week if I have some questions or there's something going on with my extended family.
Yesterday around 3:30 PM, my father called my cell phone.
Rarely do they call me, especially during the workday.
Naturally, I assumed the worst - someone died, someone fell, something bad happened.
"Jase, it's your father. Your mother and I are down at the gallery hanging the show, and this guy walked in and bought one of the paintings already."
It seems that she sold this painting - 4,024 Calories. It's an acrylic on canvas work, about 3' x 4' in size. I have a photo print of this painting in my kitchen, as it's also one of my favorites.
While it's always bittersweet when she sells a painting (she loves them all and hates to see them go), her prices always soften the blow.
My mother is a member of the Piermont Flywheel Gallery in Piermont, NY. She is one of the gallery's original members, and has been showing her work there for almost 17 years. I believe each artist receives a three-week solo show once every 19 months in the front gallery, and has an additional piece in the group exhibition throughout the duration.
Piermont is a cool community on the Hudson River, just north of Manhattan, which has transformed into a quaint artist and dining community with picturesque views of the Tappan Zee Bridge, and lots of weekend day trippers (with money) from NYC.
It's the perfect place for her gallery, and the many others that have sprung up around the Flywheel. Hers was the original though.
So, the unexpected parent call, where I always assume the worst, turned out to be quite the opposite.
Posted by Jason at 7:15 AM
Monday, October 20, 2008
Contrary to my prior thinking, I have discovered that there is indeed one thing that raises the ire of Southie folk almost as much as saving shoveled parking spots.
I realize this is my second (and second too many) post on this topic in recent weeks, but I had another incident today, I think.
I worked from home today, and decided to get some fresh air around 4:30. I brought Rosie for a walk. Carrying her blue bag of doggie doo, I walked past the dumpster near the elderly home down the street from me. From the sidewalk, I threw the bag in their huge dumpster with the same degree of accuracy that I have used every time prior.
I never miss.
(Well, once I missed when I made some awful toss with my left hand, but I promptly retrieved the bag and threw it in).
I thought nothing of it. I have done this countless times before, both in daylight and in the dark. When the garbage is piled high inside the dumpster, I always see other blue bags of poo atop the mounds of trash.
We walked another block back toward my house, and before crossing the street I saw an older guy back near the dumpster, screaming at something in my direction. I could have sworn he mentioned "yeah you with the dog," but honestly could not hear him.
So we walked for a bit more, and then went home.
But, I felt bad. I didn't want an angry older guy to think that I ignored him intentionally, especially if he's about to ream me out for throwing a bag of poo into a dumpster, a common action in my neighborhood that I fully acknowledge I probably shouldn't be doing.
So I grab a bag of deposit bottles to put in my car (yes, I return containers for the nickels - why not), and walk down toward that corner to see if I can figure out who was yelling, and if it was at me.
While nobody was mulling around the street, I did see a few older guys at the corner pub. Since the window was open, I yelled in, asking if they saw who was yelling or if that guy was inside of the bar. I just wanted to set the record straight and see if I was the target.
The older guys said they couldn't hear me, and told me to come inside.
So, for the first time, I walked into the (not so welcoming to non-Southie born-and-breds) local pub, immediately becoming the youngest person inside by a good 25 years.
None of the six or seven older guys inside immediately came over to me, so I assumed none of them were the guy I was seeking.
But one guy sitting at the bar could not figure out why I wanted to find this guy. He kept asking if I wanted to make trouble with him (or something like that).
So here I am - all 5'8" of me, with rusty orange University of Texas hat atop my head, yellow gym satchel on back, and plastic bag filled with about 25 deposit bottles and cans in tow - in unfriendly territory, being asked by an older guy who won't take my "I just wanted to see if he was yelling at me and if I did something wrong" affirmation all that seriously.
Thankfully, his buddy next to him motioned toward my deposit bottles and asked about them. I told him it was probably "a buck worth," and then excused myself, saying I was headed to the gym....
..which was met with more stares, and then a "why are you doing that?" from the nicer of the two.
I simply patted my belly and said "to get rid of this" and then scooted out into the safety (?) of the streets outside.
Perhaps Rosie and I will be confronted by one of these characters sometime in the future.
For now, I'll be bringing the poop back home, disposing of it in my own trash where I probably should be throwing it all along.
What amuses me the most about all of this is the sheer amount of dog poop that is simply left on the sidewalks of Southie. It's terrible, and far worse to leave mounds of canine feces on public grassy areas and concrete than to actually pick it up in a bag, tie the bag, and toss it into a trash receptacle, public or private.
But I suppose the moral of the story is that neither action is right. Dog poop should be picked up and disposed of in the handler's own garbage.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I've been pretty busy of late, and it certainly shows in my completely full DVR list; many regular programs that I typically enjoy have gone unwatched.
There's just not enough hours in the day. Work takes up many of them (as it should), the gym (occasionally) takes up a few of them, and then the rest are spent walking Rosie, cooking, or socializing.
Monday-Friday work, gym a few nights. Maybe a Tuesday or Thursday out (this past week was more like a Mon-Thurs out to be perfectly honest!) Friday night dinner out. Saturday football and drinking afterward. Saturday night out somewhere. Sunday brunch, then cooking at home with football on. Monday comes, and it's time to do it all over again.
Time on the couch has reduced to a minimum lately.
It's all good though. It means I am finding plenty of active activities these days.
I don't even feel bad for having missed a few episodes of How I Met Your Mother or CSI or It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. They're all in the DVR. I will watch them if I want to. I used to always feel this terrible obligation to watch everything in the DVR list and keep it all neat and clean - no shows from months ago and such.
Times have changed it appears.
Maybe I'll catch up once the playoffs are over, or when the weather becomes so unbearable here in Boston that they whole city moves into nesting mode. I already think we're there prematurely, to a certain extent, thanks to the state of the economy and everyone trying to save as many pennies as possible.
Posted by Jason at 10:56 AM
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
After a full weekend of photos, I have so many great shots. I thought this one was appropriate today, not only because it seems to have had an inordinate number of hits on my Flickr account, but also because the Sox could use some help.
Even as a born-and-bred Yankees fan, I will admit to feeling bittersweet about where the Red Sox are now, down 3-1 to Tampa.
Gone is my hatred of them. Once they won the World Series in 2004, and then again in 2007, I realized that their success was real and I should let it go. Another few victories in the decade, and I'd even make a case for them approaching the Yankees of the late 90's.
It's still a great rivalry, and even I will admit that the Red Sox are fun to watch.
Living here in Boston, they are the most convenient team to watch. I like how they bring people together, creating ample social and boozing opportunities.
They are familiar.
And I'm a bit afraid that all of that will end tomorrow.
Even I'd be willing to extend this thing into the World Series. It would give me an excuse for a few more midweek nights out.
But clearly, Tampa came to play. The World Series everyone wanted (Sox-Dodgers) is at risk.
It looks like the natural order of the AL East is shifting yet again.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Also on Sunday, we went to Top of the Hub. My first visit there.
I cared far more about taking photos than I did my Bloody Mary (which was surprisingly awful - and I LOVE Bloody Marys).
I utilized my polarizing filter, and alternated between the 18mm-50mm and 70mm-300mm zoom lenses. The shots I took with both turned out to be pretty amazing.
Here's a shot of the Charles River looking northeast toward Cambridge.
Posted by Jason at 7:32 AM
Monday, October 13, 2008
On Sunday, I found myself in a corn maze for the first time and learned that corn mazes are excellent activities to do once in a lifetime.
We drove about an hour northwest of Boston to Sterling, MA and Davis' Mega Maze, the largest corn maze in Massachusetts. I didn't realize there were others, but not only does it appear that there are, I think corn mazing is a bit of an underground subculture. I bumped into a group of people, three of whom wore t-shirts featuring corn mazes from around the US.
The premise of a corn maze is simple - get from the entrance to the exit.
But when entering, we received a pamphlet that included missions, such as crossing all 11 bridges, finding the 6 portions of the actual maze map and create pencil rubbings of each, and completing some type of Mad Libs paragraph that required finding 12 placards throughout the maze.
While playing along with all of this sounded entertaining at the beginning, it quickly took back stage to actually getting out of the maze.
Corn stalks are corn stalks. I'd say that the fun factor dropped from 10 to 1 at a rate of one point per two minutes. After 20 minutes, we were ready to escape.
But we couldn't.
Throughout the maze, employees stationed themselves on the bridges, and were trained to give ambiguous answers to people who wanted to make progress.
("How do we get to the exit?" "You go through the maze." um, duh.)
Finally, we found a couple who saw the looks on our adult faces and lack of children in tow, and sympathized with us. A few turns later, we found the exit.
The highlight of the experience was, hands down, the corn bread. One would think that at a corn maze, there might be many corn-themed delicacies, but they offered just two - popcorn (not from their farm) and corn bread.
This wasn't a little wedge of corn bread, but rather a giant sheet of corny goodness.
I learned that when mixing the sweet cornbread with a few salty pieces of popped corn, the result became a delicious combo.
On the drive home, I realized that corn is also known as "maize," meaning that we had just experienced a Maize Maze.
Yes, that was corny.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Autumn activities in New England continued yesterday with a visit to Russell Orchards in Ipswitch, MA for a day of apple picking, hay rides, farm stand shopping, and farm animal gazing. Perhaps gazing is the wrong word when attempting to describe seeing a 1,000 pig. Staring of gawking might fit better.
We took two cars up north - Chris, Kevin the Texan, and me in one. Jamen, Todd, and Jamen's NC friend Jenny in the other. Traffic on 128 wasn't a walk in the orchard, as we had to contend with folks heading to both Salem and the Topsfield Fair.
Back in New York, apple picking was a simple event. Go to the local orchard, grab a bag and a couple poles, wander into the orchards, and reach the pole up to the high branches where the best fruit grew. Come home, mom makes awesome apple crisp, and on we go.
It appears that picking apples in New England doesn't always involve poles. There were none to be found at Russell Orchards, and a few of my New England friends didn't seem to know what I was talking about.
Nonetheless, we grabbed the mandatory hayride out to the apples, paid $15 for a 10 pound bag (the price of apple picking has also risen significantly since my last harvesting experience), and wandered through the well-organized rows.
While many of the tress were picked clean, we found plenty of Cortland and Macouns still remaining.
After the apple picking and photo ops, we caught a hayride back to the main area, put our manzanas in our coches, and then returned for some fruit wine and farm animals.
Who doesn't love looking at goats and 1,000 pound pigs?
Overall, this place was packed but well worth the trip - a live folk band, children running around, pumpkin patches, apples, and dandelion wine - all a great diversion from yet another weekend in the city.
During the ride back, we somehow ended up once again in Topsfield Fair traffic. The line of cars coming off 128 (in the opposite direction from us) was simply startling, enough to cower with the thought of attending that event next year.
Friday, October 10, 2008
On days like today back in college, we would have class outside.
Posted by Jason at 8:56 AM
Thursday, October 09, 2008
I was hiding in the kitchen when I saw this beast lurking around the neighborhood.
Quietly, I grabbed my camera, turned off the flash, set the shutter speed at a long setting, and captured a glimpse of the fabled Southie Devil Monster.
I believe its return explains why I no longer see the Southie Turkey.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Dear Crazy Southie Cat Lady,
After months, if not years, of fighting it...I have joined Facebook.
- Search for friends in my email contacts for multiple email accounts
- Upload a ton of photos of me, me with friends, and Rosie the Dog
- Write on someone's Wall
- Proclaim what I'm doing "right now"
- Integrate my Flickr and Platinum Elite feeds
- Delete comments from my wall
- What is appropriate friending? If it's a person I "may know," but I person I "may not have thought of in 20 years," am I supposed to invite them to be my friend?
- If someone I haven't thought of in 20 years invites me to be his/her friend, but I don't want to be, what do I do? Would that be the final nail in the coffin of a relationship that I believed ended during the Reagan or Clinton years?
- Do people like to be poked?
- Do people keep wall comments clean?
- Should I tag my photos that feature other people with their first and last names? (Meghan, no offense for deleting my name tag on one of your photos. It was not a flattering picture of me!)
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Posting # 600 here at Platinum Elite. Almost two years of mindless rambling!
Sunday Funday this week was a road trip to Portsmouth, NH. I've been there a few times, and most recently we stopped through on the way back from puppy acquisition in Maine a few months ago.
Kevin the Texan has not experiences a New England autumn yet (he hasn't experienced a New England winter yet either, and his eyes lit up when he saw my pics of the January '05 blizzard).
So we decided to make standard (stereotypical?) New England autumn activities part of our October weekends. Not that driving to Portsmouth is a must-do and typical, but the city is emblematic of a quaint Atlantic coast city with great photo ops, people watching, and cuisine.
It turned out to be the perfect day to wander around a place like Portsmouth. Brisk temperature, overcast (great for pictures), and not too busy.
We walked around the downtown area, stopping in a few local and a few not-so-local (Starbucks and Banana Republic) merchants before making our way to Prescott Park for photos on the water.
I transformed into a fashion photographer at the request of the group - everyone wanted a head shot on the water (?!) and my camera takes great ones. (note to self - Yes, the credit was given to the camera and not so much the photographer... will remember that around that holidays when it's time to exchange presents).
A Sunday Funday is not so fun without some booze. And the Portsmouth Brewing Company was there waiting with open arms for weary photo subjects such as ourselves. I had been to PBC before, and it's a cool place.
I ordered clam chowder and salad, and (of course) a beer sampler. Theirs contains ALL nine of the beers on tap. Excellent! My favorites were the Bottle Rocket IPA, Octoberfest, and Hop Harvest #2. I have to admit that all four Smuttynose offerings, including the Shoals Pale Ale (one of my favorites from the corner store) were not good. Very strange.
After dinner, dusk had fallen. It was time for a few evening shots, then the drive home - with one stop at the NH State Liquor Store, of course! And I'm proud to say that the streak of $150-$200 visits there had ended. 4 bottles of wine, 1 bottle of vodka - under $60.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Well Harpoonfest was a bust. I knew there was going to be a line, but what we encountered was quite absurd. Kudos to them for marketing this event to the point that half of Boston showed up.
This is just a segment of the line. It continued down the block, into a parking lot, and pretty much ended in Medford.
So we performed what I called a quick cost-benefit analysis, and elected not to spend 2 hours in line for the honor of paying $20 for that first beer (a $15 admission fee and $5 per drink).
Plan B materialized, and we ended up at the Cambridge Brewing Company for some excellent microbrews and snacks. I ordered a butternut squash soup, which was a perfect complement to the brisk fall weather outside.
I even drew a picture of the cocktail.
The party was fun. It had an Octoberfest theme, complete with bratwurst, German aliases (I picked Wolfgang Hilda as mine), and three random Germans who attended.
After the party, we were walking up Huntington St. back to the car, and spotted one of Jamen's teammates seated at the bar inside of Sasso. Twist our arms...we went inside for one final round.
It appears that I was speaking too loudly behind this douchebag. He was attempting to pick up this woman far out of his league (and far younger than he), and snapped a few nasty words my way due to the volume of my voice. I didn't think it was any louder than a typical bar voice, but clearly it - and not his looks or personality - caused the woman to flee from his clutches.
Posted by Jason at 9:32 AM
Saturday, October 04, 2008
I made a comment yesterday that this weekend is likely to be lots of drinking punctuated by short bouts of sleep.
With last night's after-game beer, Harpoonfest, and a yet-to-be-determined Sunday activity, I believe my statement will be accurate. More to follow.
Posted by Jason at 8:36 AM
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Today was vegetable day on Mike's crazy Internet diet, and as much of an omnivore that I am, it was not pretty.
Let's just say that I'm going to be skipping carrots for the near future.
I will fully admit that I amended the rules a touch. I grandfathered my final meal from last night into my 24-hour period of veggies and beans. That allowed for me to enjoy a delicious salmon and vegetable dinner prepared by Karin and Debbie around 9pm.
But note to self - carrots, celery, and cucumbers for breakfast at 7:15am will make me hungry around 8:30am.
Carrots, celery, and cucumbers again for lunch...just doesn't cut it.
Apparently, the vegetable day is an important one that forces my body to burn stored fat.
But, it made me incredibly hungry throughout. I think I filled my cravings with water and coffee, and ended up peeing quite often today.
Thankfully, tomorrow is back to a protein-laden day, and the following three days are apparently diet-free.
While I fully admit that I did not weigh myself before the diet, I know that I lost weight over these two weeks. My pants are even looser than they have been.
Posted by Jason at 11:19 PM
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
I did it. Finally.
I conquered my demon.
This race on Mario Kart Wii is the bane of my existence. It's guaranteed failure. It intimidates me.
I always lose.
Until tonight. Finally.
While Mario Kart is most fun with three others in the same room (and plenty of booze), it's also great to play on Nintendo's WiFi Connection against people around the world or friends who are associated with your Mii.
Mario Kart has been a bit of an addiction of late. It started at the bachelor party a few months ago, and was rekindled when Mike got his Wii last month and promptly threw down the gauntlet by finishing a number of cups and unlocking way more than I had at that point.
These days, each week I'm Karting about as much as I'm also hitting the gym or exercising, which is a good thing. The game play is excellent - easy to learn, fun to play, and hard to put down, all hallmarks of a classic game.
A couple nights ago, I was playing against Mike over the WFC, and was ashamed at my pathetic performance. We entered the night tied with 14 wins apiece, and he beat me eight races in a row. Ugh.
Tonight, I pulled off more wins than losses...AND finally won at Rainbow Road, the course in outer space with ample opportunities to fall off the track and turn into a fireball. A few times during each Rainbow Road race, my poor Baby Peach and her motorcycle would fall rapidly toward Earth. I just could not stay on the track. I always lost.
But not this time. I drove an excellent race, and won comfortably.
I can sleep well now.